Monday, August 3, 2015

On The Bench...

These are the designs I'm working on.  I'm trying to get as many of the mediums as I can into the piece without it looking overworked.  Can I do it?  I'm thinking YES.

Bezel for the top of the first design in all of its' gory glory before it's pickled and the backing cut. I'm planning to set an onyx in the bezel.  This one is going to be a black and tan piece.  I'll go for colorful in the second one.

Note the wonderful soldering aid the bezel is sitting on.   We used similar ones in Chris Darway's class at Wildacres.  It's just that old hardware store annealed steel wire.  Wrap a coil around a dowel, remove it, and fan it out into a soldering prop.  It sure is nice not to have to set up the tripod every time you want to solder.
 
 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Did I move to Heaven?

We live outside of Asheville, North Carolina.  I don't mean in a suburb - I mean in a different town but only about a half an hour away.  If that weren't fun enough, we are 18 miles away from Spruce Pine.  Spruce Pine is known as Mineral City.  It's not far from Penland.  They also have lots of Gem mines, a cute as a button town, and so on.  It is "up" the mountain.  You know, one of those switch-back road drives that motorbike riders love and truckers cringe over.  It used to make me cringe too but it's getting to be no big deal.  You just have to pay attention and go slower.  For an expressway driver from the Detroit area it's been a challenge to get used to the slower drives.  Even their expressway is 10mph slower at the top speed but I do think that the slower pace is better - and I'm growing to love it. 

So today we decided to check out the NC Mineral and Gem Show in Spruce Pine.  I figured it would be a little local show - nothing big.  The GLW had been in Franklin, NC a couple of weeks ago so how big could this be after that?  Uh, well count me bowled over.  There wasn't one little show - there were three pretty big shows.  Where was I, Tucson? 

We made it through two shows and I skipped the GLW since I'd been to Franklin.  Town was packed! The shows were fairly busy and it was only the first day and mid-afternoon.  Wow, what a shocker.  I feel like I've been dropped right into a jeweler's heaven.  Here is my loot - I was very careful.  I got everything, including my T-shirt for under 100 - what a deal.  It must be how everyone feels shopping in Tucson.  Now I'm a lucky ducky too.  I'm not sure what I'll set the gems into but they'd look great in some castings.  Hugs to all of you - and have a great day. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bead Show!

 
 Inside what seemed like the never ending tent at the GL&W Show in Franklin, NC
 

 
When I left Michigan I left behind a batch of wonderful friends.  We used to attend this show in Michigan.  Like all shows, not all vendors attend all of this promoters shows.  Not that it mattered one bit.  The shows in Michigan were WAY down - my friends were disappointed by what they saw.  I knew one of my favorite shops - Archy's Rock Shop - was going to be down here in NC so we took a chance and drove on over there.  Whew, was I pleasantly surprised - shocked even.  It was a wonderful show with some vendors I hadn't seen since Bead and Button. 
 
I miss my friends - we went to this show together....but, have I told you how excited I am about our move?  (Smile)  It just keeps getting better and better.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lucky Me

 
Look at this bounty of yumminess!  How lucky am I - We have chosen a home that is surrounded by blackberry bushes just off of the lawn.  They're huge and they very nearly surround the yard.   This is the first batch of jelly and I sure hope in the next couple of days, with all of the rain, more will ripen up and I can do it all over again. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Halleujuah - Some "ON TARGET" designing advice

I've always loved Connie Fox's work.  I've followed Jatayu for as long as I can remember.

Unfortunately I've never been around where Ms. Fox has taught to take a course for myself so when someone mentioned her book, Maker Magic I decided to look it up and get one before I went to Wildacres.  Unfortunately, I am a techno weenie.  It is what it is.  When I can figure something out on the computer I can do it well - when I can't it all goes to hell in hand basket really quick.  I tried to down load the pdf - nope, nada, zilch.  Trust me - it was NOTHING on the Fox end of the sale.  This was all Sharon fumble fingers.  But the Fox team, not to be outdone by an artist who can't handle a computer, dug in and tried many alternatives.  They quickly decided that the best alternative for me was to send me a CD.  Really, who goes to this length?  I am always humbled and appreciative of artist/teachers who will go to every length so you understand or "get" the information they are trying to relay into your hot little head or hands.  I thank and bless you Fox team - you're the best!



And, as if that wasn't enough....at Wildacres, Chris Darway mentioned the book, out of the blue.  Maybe it was an initial conversation I missed but he stopped the class and brought it up.  He asked the class how many had heard of Connie Fox's book, Maker Magic.  I raised my hand, dutiful student I am, but admitted that the book had just arrived and I hadn't gotten to dig in yet.  He highly recommended it to the class.  Cool beans, an endorsement - as if I weren't already hot to read it and do the exercises.

If you've followed along with this blog you know I've spent a lot of time in art school/s.  I guess you could call my talents "well rounded" or like a squirrel - bouncing around from medium to medium since I sincerely enjoy them all with a few rising like crème to the top of my milk cup.   Uh, and the point of that declaration?  Well, I have a hard time explaining my aesthetic.  What makes Sharon tick off this art - where is the binding theme, the body of work?  You know where I am going.  When you look in an artists booth you see a vein of cohesiveness.  And if you don't - - well, don't you just kind of wander away?

I can be cohesive again, I think.  If I only understood where I was going, why (maybe), answered all of those questions that might be rattling around in my brain.  I have no problem drawing out a design - hundreds of them actually - but often that is as far as it goes.  In my head, they're done - they have no more secrets to tell me.  I've worked out all of the technical aspects on paper and I feel satisfied.  To my defense, there have been times (years) while working, caretaking, or healing, that the sketchbook was my primary body of work.  For that skill, I am delighted.  Excuses are like noses, we all have one.
                                                                        BUT,

unless there are little appreciative art critics running around my sketchbooks - or brain minions reading my thoughts and applauding my creative genius this is no way to make art.  It is a great way to document it - work out the kinks - but if you're drawing jewelry or sculpture, or whatever - it's not the end product....it's part of the process.

Anyhoo, realizing you need help is the first step to getting it.  Right?  I've known this for a long time.  Ask a friend to define your body of work....if they hem haw around chances are you are without a definition, or you're not doing a very good job projecting one.  And, if you don't have some grip on that, no matter how tenuous it is on what you are creating (or why) - probably the viewing pubic isn't getting it either.  Which also begs the question, who are you creating this for?  You, or someone else, or both?  What is it you want to do with this art?  Keep it - sell it - what?

My answer to my own question is this:  IF I want to go public again.  Do art shows or galleries then I need guidance.  Maybe not a mentor in the traditional sense but some parameters to work in and a way to figure out where to start this dialogue with myself.  It's never as easy as, "I said to myself, Self, what do you think?"  I don't know about you but my usual answer to that question is - How the heck should I know.  Which usually leaves me frustrated and more confused than ever.  It also leads me to making "parts".  Don't get me wrong - I'm a parts person.  I love my little bits of flotsam.  Each one of them I make or collect I go at it with a total commitment to the process to make the best little perfect "part" that I can.  Call it my Grandma's button box work.  But this is NOT a body of work.  It's time to reconnect the dots - or pieces as it may be.  If I put them all together what are "they". 

This is getting to be a long story, albeit I'm guessing pretty relatable or Ms. Fox wouldn't have written this book for all of us who are looking for a direction.

I'm 30 pages into 173.  I love it already and haven't even scratched the surface.  Chris was correct.  It's good - excuse me - but it's DAMN good.  And when I finish the book I'm going to click my heels together like Dorothy and find Sharon's truer path again.  She's (Sharon's) my Kansas, sturdy, well-defined, and artistic.  And, she's going to better understand her "vision".   If you're having similar issues, or others - check out this book.  I know you're going to like it.




Monday, July 6, 2015

Studio Progress

Look at the glass rack! Once all the glass was dug out and put in one spot it began to look like a pretty amazing collection. I even ended up with a great nook for the library reference section, photography, and storage. 
 
I think maybe I just need a little more light and to get the air exchange system set up.  Maybe a cork board wouldn't be bad either.  Check out Trudy's head in the picture.  LOL - studio dogs!

Metals area.  It's ideal.  From that chair I can do everything....solder, fabricate, tumble, whatever.  The Ikea tables are absolutely the best - heavy, solid, and sturdy.

 
The studio area is in a well lit and finished basement area.  The basement is divided by steps into two areas.  One is the laundry and my husbands workshop (each in its own room) and the other is my area. attached to a storage area. where I have conveniently stored household stuff, excess studio stuff, and the casting equipment is being set up there.  The dogs love it for the painted cement floor and love to come downstairs with me.  So far, so good.  Everything is getting set up and put away and I'm beginning to work again.  I'll get a "works" in progress photo soon.
 
Enjoy the day!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Best of the Fourth

I feel like I'm on vacation.  It's a staycation, for sure, but it doesn't feel like it because when we moved here to North Carolina we decided that we'd be having new experiences.  It was a conscious choice to "enjoy" - - get more ZEN with the moment at hand, whatever it may be.  Here is our July Fourth Zen.  It couldn't have been more American and I doubt more enjoyable.  Cowboys, cowgirls, music, a rodeo, national anthem, and fireworks!  Pure, unabashed, unapologetic, patriotic, family bliss.

Having this much fun ought to be illegal!
 

Friday, July 3, 2015

A few Examples/ Chris Darway's class

 
I hadn't taken this picture yesterday so I thought you might enjoy seeing a few of the mechanisms we made in Chris's class.  So here are three of the 7 pieces I completed.  A cable bracelet with a great spring clasp, a hidden key clasp, and a great twist release clasp.   If Chris were to offer another mechanism class I'd be there in an instant.     



      

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's July, Really? I'm unpacked and spreading my wings!

I'm thinking one post a month probably isn't going to cut it on the blog....sorry about that. 

Since the last post I've purchased 28 yards of material for front room/dining room curtains.  They're not done yet but check this out: View Along the Way.  I used these instructions to make curtains for the bedroom that turned out great.   I see a whole lot of sewing in my future but at least it's a whole lot less expensive and better than trying to find some to match your furniture.  And, with straight seams, well, how can you go wrong!

Also I took an incredible class with the very wonderful Chris Darway through the Florida Society of Goldsmith's at Wildacres.  I'm pretty sure you are familiar with the first two things, Chris and the FSG...but maybe not Wildacres.   Wildacres is a retreat facility for "creatives" near Little Switzerland in North Carolina.  Uh, may the heavens be blessed - it is just up the mountain from where I live.  What an environment to work in.  Is it the worlds best studio - no (is there one?) - but they supply more than enough equipment, individual places to work, and we were supplied with a list of goodies we would need that were specific to our classes. 

This is Wildacres: My bench, the Dining Facility, the VIEW!



 
 
This last one is from the FSG site and this is actually what it looks like...heaven, huh? And there we a lot more rockers than that!
 
Now, this is a very limited view of the acreage - as it is 1600 acres backed up the Pisgah National Forest.  This was a view from the incredible porch that lies between the two dormitories.  That beautiful stone porch is full of rockers to sit in and enjoy the sunsets, a glass of wine, art "talk".  The studio's themselves were open three of the evenings we were there - until 10pm.  Ideal?  You bet it was.  I feel renewed.  What a way to break in my new home and get ready for the future.
 
I had signed up for Chris Darway's Mechanism class.  Since "closing the deal" (a great looking clasp) has always been a failing of mine, IMHO, I thought it the best choice for me.  Indeed it was.  Chris's clasps are masterful and I learned a lot about springs.  Also there were John Cogswell, Patricia Tschetter, Andrea Kenning and NC Black Co., and Tom and Kay Benham.   The classes were varied and wonderful - I never heard anyone complain about their class.  Meals were on site and good - so it was work, eat, and visit.  Immersion - - as much as you wanted or needed. 
 
Would I do it again?  Absolutely!  I can't afford to do two a year or I'd sign up for the Modern Master's Retreat in October.  I can't - but maybe you can.  Join the FSG - they accept out of state carpet baggers like me.  Thank goodness.