Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Note Swap Fun

The Art House Co-Op has done it again. They are having this free swap. Actually, they are having quite a few different things go on right now that are free. The one I'm interested in is the Note Swap. it's quick and easy. I'm copying what they have stated about their swap, it's better than anything I could come up with.

The Note Swap

Trade handwritten notes across the globe

"The Note Swap is a worldwide exchange of handwritten letters, contributed by a thousand creative people just like you. Join our community to swap surprises in the mail and take part in an experiment designed to make a stranger's day. Scribble down a love note, a short story, a recipe, a memory, a joke or a secret — your letter could take any form. Simply mail your note to us along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. We'll make the swap and send you another participant's letter in return. Waiting for the mail can be the best part of your day..."

On line they have examples and more in the way of an explanation. You can also get to the other swaps going on. I've included a quick link - just click on either the underlined "Note Swap" above or here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happiness Is...

A warm Spring Day. It’s been unseasonably warm here in Michigan this Spring. We usually have snow through April and have been know to have snowfall up to Mother’s Day. Yikes! This has been wonderful. We are 43 degrees above normal. Today we cleaned the deck and put out the patio furniture. Is that premature? Maybe.

Speaking of Happiness, I have news. Our little feral cat who we have always called “Big Momma” just had a brood of kittens in our garage. It happened over the weekend – we were expecting it to happen a little later but she was pretty darn wide. She seems content to keep them there in the little cat tower, so be it. When they are weaned I think our local vet will take them to adopt out. At that time I’ll have her spayed too. They’re so cute.

Spring weather, new kittens, tulips are coming up, furniture is out (better yet, I can sit outside), open windows, it’s a time of renewed purpose.

Happiness is an early spring, warm babies, and an impending road trip vacation with all of the girls in the family…a girls gone wild week of fun.

And happiness for you is…?... come on, tell me what makes you happy today.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fold-Forming Metal

I learned how to form fold metal in college and then had a repeat class with JJ Masuda. It was a wondrous class. When I received my Bead Soup components I was given copper leaf. The leaf had a nice print on it but I didn’t want it to lay flat in the composition I was making for the blog hop so I decided to use a fold forming method. It would have been a shame to ruin the pattern on the front side of the copper form so I went with a very simple bend with a curve. I annealed the metal – folded it where I wanted the crease – and hammered the crease to give it the curve.

African Fulani earrings are done with a fold formed curves. They are made very thin and are very light and beautiful.

The foremost expert on fold forming is Charles Lewton-Brain. Click here for some great pages and descriptions of various fold forming processes. You can also purchase his book here (and I have a copy I love) but he also explains a wide variety of forms on this site.

These earrings are by Susan Dilger and are available on her site. They are a simple but beautiful fold and you can see how it gives the metal more of a flowing form instead of a static flat feel.

To form metal there are a lot of tools you can use but it can be as simple as a vice, ball peen hammer, rawhide mallet, and a torch to anneal the metal. If you haven’t tried this fun and simple way to form metal – go for it! If you have a Facebook account you can even check out a group that is devoted to fold forming and they seem like a great bunch of people with lots of tips and eye candy. Click here to go to that Facebook Group.

Enjoy Yourself and have a great Monday!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Winner's - I have two of them!

Winners believe in win-win;
Losers believe for them to win someone has to lose.

I'm having this little giveaway today that I posted about four days ago. I mean who doesn't want something for free - no strings.

Well, when there wasn't much response to leaving a post I asked my friend Mallory if she would please post about it on her blog. Which, being the friend that she is - she did. The result. The same two people who entered were the only two people who entered.

Wow, maybe no one wants a book. Anyway - I am happy to announce this. Both of the two people who decided to leave me a message on that days post are winners.

Mallory, who was so kind as to stifle her odds of winning that book, is getting a different book. Mallory I have your address and I know what you like and how you work - Your surprise will be in the mail. And the winner of the book by Laura McCabe (which I will tell you is a stunner) is Britt. I will contact her by email in a few moments for her address.

Congrats you two and Thank You for taking the time to enter.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fresh From the Kiln

I hope everyone is having a wonderful St Patrick's Day! These are fresh from the kiln this morning. It's a whole pile of goodies to paint and glaze. The raven pendant is in there and showing along with a horse and rabbit and a slew of small beads I'll paint to match. I can't wait to get started.

For now though it's back to the fun. We have company. DD and her hubby are around for the weekend. We saw John Carter in 3D yesterday. The movie - eh....but the company, priceless.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Giveaway #3 - Laura McCabe's Embellished Beadweaving

Laura McCabe's Embellished Beadweaving: Jewelry Lavished with Fringe, Fronds, Lacework & More (Beadweaving Master Class Series) by Laura McCabe

Welcome to the third of the “Great Lark Pay it forward Book Giveaways”. Around Christmas of 2011 I was lucky enough to win a selection of 21 of the best beading books ever published by Sterling Publishing. Two boxes full of books arrived and I have felt like a princess ever since. Some of the books were duplications of books I have already purchased. Yes, I can be called, the book hog, the librarian, the hoarder of all things written about craft. It is what it is and I won’t apologize for having the greatest library of inspiration anyone could hope for. This doesn’t even include the hundred books I gave to an old friend for school library on watercolor painting, oil painting, and who can remember what else.

This is book is from Laura McCabe. Now Laura is one of the premier artisits who’s work I seek out at every Bead and Button. Her booth reflects her aesthetic all the way down to how she packages her kits. And her creative work – it beats to the sound of a different drummer and no surgeon could possibly do better work than her with a needle. They’re sumptuous.

All you have to do to sign up for this little giveaway is to leave a comment on this post. I will pick a random winner on Sunday, March 18th. Be sure to leave me a way to get in touch with you. Overseas contestants are welcome too. Best of Luck!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bead Soup Sale

I was supposed to get these earring listed on Monday and the past couple of days have just gotten away from me as I'm been rolling beads and glazing little things.

I've posted them on Etsy at the bargain price of $23.95. They're light on the ear but still tend to make a statement. Just over two inches in length from top to bottom and the disc is 1" round.

Back to the bead making....

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Finishing Your Disc Earrings

On to the front of my BSBP earrings. Here is where you can go wild. You can finish your earrings off with a stamped piece of metal on the front (such as a round) – or just about anything that will cover the earring nut. In the case of these earrings I wanted to use the wonderful butterflies I was given. To do this I needed to make a loop to hold the butterfly charm in place. I wanted it in front of the earring nut and to swing freely.

Since I always want the earrings to hang at the same height I measure and mark where I’m going to bend the earring wire. You can also see in these photos where I have bent the catch in the back.

Bend the earring wire with bail forming pliers or across a dowel (ink pen, etc.) at your lines. Put the wire under the catch and adjust as necessary. Trim your wire. I usually go about 3/8” – ½” below the catch. File or use a cup burr on your trimmed ends, polish, and antique.

I hope you enjoyed how I made these earrings. The discs are ceramic and very light weight. And from the butterfly hang some nice pearls and antique glass beads. Now that the BSBP is over I’ll be putting these up for sale on Etsy, with special pricing. Look for the listing on Monday if you are interested. And be sure to make a bunch for yourself – I wouldn’t have put this tutorial on the web site if you couldn’t feel free to use it. Enjoy!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Disc Earring Tutorial

This is the first part of the tutorial for making the disc earrings. To make these earrings I used:

Round Nose Pliers
Chain Nose Pliers
Bail Pliers/you can use a 3/8" dowel.
19 gauge full hard sterling silver wire
Files /or a cup burr tool for the earring wire ends
Decorations to hang from your earrings
Discs with a hole of 3mm
White Rubber Earring Nuts.

Bend your wire at a 90 degree angle. Grasp with your round nose pliers and make your first spiral.

Change to your chain nose pliers and grasp the wire as shown in the photo. Spiral your wire around several times tightly. Note: For each earring since I wanted the backs to be a mirror image of one another I spirled each wire coil in the opposite direction. Also, I am using full hard wire - this wire is not easy to bend - this helps the earring keep it's intended shape. You can use a soft wire but then you will have to hammer or harden you earring wire when you get to that point.

This is the secret I alluded to when I was writing about the Bead Soup Party. If you purchase or create a disc with approximately a 3mm hole. Into that hole you wedge (and it wil fit very tightly, they should fit tightly or or use a different size nut) a rubber earring nut. These nuts are the type you purchase to keep your french hook earrings from getting nudged out of your ears. That always seems to happen with me when I'm wearing my favorite coat.

Tomorrow I'll continue on with this tutorial and we'll finish off these earrings. It's a very useful way to make these types of earrings if you want the disc to remain in a specific position and centered in your design.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New Work Wednesday

Ahhhh, a day without a mega post. Hip Hip Hurrah. I kind of figure you’re about read out. While I was working on my BSBP necklace and talismans I decided to try a few more of a different kind. Working in clay has been an inspiring change for me.

The talisman necklace makes a pleasant sound as it moves around while you walk. That thought stuck with me and I moved to making spirit beads. These beads, as of yet unfired, are full of ceramic balls that will “sound off” as needed. They make me smile and remind me to listen to my inner spirit.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Symbols Even in an Oreo?

Sorry, but I just couldn't help a second post today after the CBS news had their report on Oreo Cookies tonight. A hundred years old and still yummy. And, apparently full of symbolism. Who'd of thunk it?

Oreo cookies were born in New York City in 1912 when a few bakeries combined to form the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) and opened a factory in the Chelsea Market building on 9th Avenue between 15th and 16th St -now called "Oreo Way."

The first prototype of the cookie looked like a baseball mound or hill and the assumption is that Oreo’s got their name from the Greek word “oros” which means “mountain or hill” though it could also be from the Greek word “oraio” which means good and beautiful. Makes you think if there was a Greek ad man at Nabisco then.

After a variety of test runs, Oreo became the “Oreo Biscuit--two beautifully embossed chocolate-flavored wafers with a rich cream filling at 30 cents per pound,” then Oreo Sandwich and finally Oreo Crème Sandwich.

The design on the chocolate wafers was originally stamped out on brass rollers depicting a series of four-leaf clovers around the word Oreo which was surround by a circle with an antenna. In the early 1950’s the four-leaf clovers were changed to a more graceful garland of petals, though some four–leaf clovers are still apparent. The ridges around the cookie weren’t only for the design value but also to help grasp the cookie when dunking.

No one can argue that symbols can powerfully drive our activities and influence our subconscious. Symbols act as a sort of short-hand that triggers (through association) our subconscious and eventually our thought process, feelings and actions. The crosses, the swastika, the yin-yang symbol all drive human activity with their visual impact.

Oreo’s were embossed with:

Four-leaf clovers

An Antenna or Lorraine Cross

And a circle

What do four-leaf clovers symbolize? We can ask Saint Patrick or any Irish man or woman about Shamrocks, but actually the four-leaf clover goes way back to the Celtic Priests or the Druids who used four-leaf clovers as protection against evil spirits. The reality is that the clover plant doesn’t naturally produce four leaves. So, four-leaf clovers for hundreds of years have symbolized to our mass consciousness a rarity that protects and bestows good luck.

Antennas symbolize communication, broadcasting and reception. Funny coincidence is that “National Biscuit Company” abbreviates to NBC.

Crosses symbolized in pagan times, the four-elements and the power of manifestation in the earthly realm. This particular double cross was called the Lorraine cross and was considered the symbol of Joan of Arc’s crusade.

The circle is a symbol of wholeness and infinity.

The symbolic equation probably linked to Oreo’s success?

“Beauty and Goodness” or “mounds” of plenty surrounded by ”infinity and unity” transmitting an earthly manifestation or crusade or receiving “Oreo” (Beauty) from the Great Beyond which bestows garlands of good luck and protection from evil.

That is one powerful symbol on a small round cookie, over 12 billion of which, have been consumed by the world’s population in almost 100 years. And not to forget; a cookie born in our Chelsea Market here New York City.

I will never eat another Oreo without thinking of this. Will you?

Symbols and Meanings - Good and Bad

A talisman (from Arabic طلسم Tilasm, ultimately from Greek telesma or from the Greek word "telein" which means "to initiate into the mysteries") is an amulet or other object considered to possess supernatural or magical powers that are placed on the object by an outside force. It's an inanimate object that one makes animate. In magic a talisman is endowed with magical properties or magical force with a specific nature. It could be a sentimental object or souvenir of some kind that when looked at years later evokes a certain emotional response. (from Wikipedia).

I’ve always been interested in symbols. It’s been a way of communication forever and you can’t look at art for very long and not run into symbolism. It’s in the earliest of work all the way through to the latest. I’d nearly forgotten how interesting I had found it all until I started to work with delinquents for the State of Michigan. I was a novice, to say the least that anyone could say, but an observant one.

There were forty youth split into groups of ten who were not in general to have conversations with one another. Yet, while observing them in close proximity you could see they were having conversations –non verbal and hand signals full of meanings and so much more – with their forbidden peers, without much interference from our rules.

The reason was simple to me. Unless I could recognize the hand signals, tattoos, position of the clothing the kids were wearing it would be like the staff could easily be caught up in something potentially dangerous, let alone embarrassing. We wanted to make sure who was running the funny farm so we quickly moved to split up into groups where we could cull from them what ‘this and that meant”.

Take as an example the first picture. Neptune's trident, absolutlely. But in the hands of the kids and gangs it's called a fork. You are either forks up or forks down. You have to think of it as akin to the Lions or Rotary. Difficult jump right? Needs an chart but here is an easy way - Think Baseball. All baseball is the same (gangs), divided into leagues American/National, (forks up/ down - folks/people, and other modifiers), then divided further by names (Bloods/Crips/ and so on, and then further by symbols and so on. Makes sense now? Trust me, it's hard to follow.

The three pronged pitchfork portion on top of the Neptune symbol represents a trident, commonly thought to represent Neptune, the god of the waters (Poseidon in Greek if you prefer).
Not so commonly known is the trident of the Neptune symbol also represents the threefold essences of nature. Empirically speaking this threefold essence is comprised of: Becoming, Being, Passing away.

The kids wear their gang symbols as protection (talimans) from other gangs - as identifiers of who and what they are. There are thousands of them. There are millions of symbols historically. I've attached some drawings so you can see the differences. See the tridents.

Trust me, it was not unlike taking a long study course on Religion at a local college – it felt the very same way. Churches also make their territory known by things they leave out or mark. And most of the symbolism is meant to confer some of the same rules.

Symbolism as a study is a very interesting. It can be used in your paintings and on your work. And in some neighborhoods it might even help to keep you from being hassled by certain gangs – or not. I'm not sure if it's the imagery you want for your work but you have to agree it is interesting. I mean who doesn't like a crystal or look at the pryamid on their dollar bill?

If you want to check some symbolism that might work in what you are creating I’ve included some links This is not a comprehensive look by any means, I have book after book on this topic But, here are a few on-line resources You might want to check out for yourself so you can get a start in this incredible field you can incorporate into your work. And, if you want to look up more I find that Googling “meaning of symbolism” it brings up a ton of possible sites to find your answers. Here are a few good ones I found:

Ancient Meanings
Religious Symbols
Gangs r Us
Gangs and their Origins

Tomorrow I will show you some talismans I am working on. They’re not quite as grand as my Sirevaag Tailsman but they are going to look great. They are in the component stage and I hope to have a few of them listed on Etsy in a week or two. Then you designers can figure what would make these new ones complete.

Now this - Well, it's a tattoo. Cracks me up - - - the first time I saw it I told all the kids I didn't know why anyone but my husband would want my initials carved on their arm. I thought the poor child would puke as he screamed at me in protest. He yelled and finally screams "You dumb Bi*$ch, it stands for Satan's Diciples". I told him with sly grin on my face, "Yes, I know!"

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Little More Necklace Symbolism

Yesterday I talked about the process for the Talisman of the necklace. To me it makes even more sense when you consider it with the necklace top.

A speckled ceramic bead seemed, at first, to round out the top of the design…but as these things go one new addition leads to the thought of the next. Speckled? – why that brings to mind a bird. A perfect possible addition to the large ring I was sent.

My usual bird of choice is the Raven. A Raven did not seem to suit my theme but I knew what would. Again, I am a Michigander (LOL – don’t you just love that unique reference to my state of origin?). Robin’s are our state bird. But, better yet, they are a very spiritual bird. Native Plains Tribes attribute the return of the sun (the inception of Spring) with Robins. Now if that isn’t how I feel when the first robin of Spring shows up around here nothing is. Omaha Tribes believed the sun rose and set on the wings of the Robin. Iroquois and Shoshone lore indicates that the white ring around the Robin’s eye was a symbol of prophetic vision, clarity and great wisdom. Yup, that’s me! (wink, wink).

Now that I have the bird – what about the feather? Well, hell yes feathers. I pick feathers up all over the place…my grandfather and I used to do that in the yard. I have them tucked here and there around the house so finding some evening winter was easy. They represent new beginnings to the Celtic. It invokes the sky god. In Christianity feathers represent the three virtues and there are many rings and signs with three feathers for faith, charity, and hope. Dreaming of feathers can represent a desire to move more freely in life. Again, for me, all of the above struck a definite heart string. I stacked three symbolic feathers together for extra strength before I began the tether for them.

And all of that brought me back around to the leaf and the general theme of what I was doing. Another look at the top of the necklace brought about the solution. The leaf, the tree, the branch. I work with sticks quite a bit. I cast them into silver all of the time. This wasn’t the place for a cast branch. My branches are in a small wash tub on top of my bead stashes. Perfect! An oak twig. Robin’s make their nests in the oak trees around the yard. The oak in the yard I grew up in takes three people to circle…all kind of like the red wool thread. It’s all interrelated – past, present, future.

Thank You Lori – It’s like Bead Soup was my own little personal coming back party and thank you Rebecca for providing the stimulus for the fruitfulness of all of it.

Don't forget - coming up in the next posts: Where to find your personal symbolism/and tailsman meanings. Plus, a tutorial on how to make the Bead Soup disc earrings and how to do that without the discs slopping around. And, "New Work Wednesday".

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Still Bead Soup Blog Hopping...

Bead Soup is great stuff! The copper leaf is what immediately struck my fancy and since I know how to fold form I decided to put a little twist to it. It spoke to me of a natural theme and so it grew. First with the ceramic quote I made from William Blake, “Art is the tree of life…”

Once those two pieces were together it began to have a talisman kind of look – and sound. As you walk or move the ceramic and copper make a gentle sound as they move against one another. That is why I began working on a “Natural Talisman” – something that speaks to me softly but succinctly. An initial drawing was made and I kept it rough so it wouldn’t confine any further ideas.

We had large copper mines in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan – copper made sense as a metal to use thoughout.
Second, I have a bit of Sari silk here (another natural product) so I pulled that out. That is where I hit my first design snag. I had pulled out pearls to go with the beautiful bits and goodies and the icy blue of the cat’s eyes that Rebecca had sent. My stash contained not one blue strand of silk in the correct color range….crap! I pulled the blue from the soup and will save it for another piece. In went green and gold. Out came the color wheel. Best color choices according to that – Gold is a tint of yellow orange, so it seems logical we could use kind of a triadic color scheme (add greens/bluish greens and possible touches of reddish purple/purple). Yikes, not much natural coloring there but what the heck. I didn’t want to do all browns.You remember the soup - what my bead soup partner – Rebecca Sirevaag sent me (It’s pictured in the last post and was full of this wonderful icy blue).

So on to the talismans. I had the natural earthy browns - plus silk, copper, pearls, earthenware clay, and glass. That’s when the search began in earnest between design and spiritual meaning. Who knew I wanted back on this designing bike so much….

What to hang the possible talisman from came next and it came easily. I’m Irish and Russian, what a combo. Irish waxed linen. What I have seemed thin and not complicated enough to hold a large talisman so I braided several strands right on to the lovely toggle clasp in my soup.

From there I continued the theme. If it was going to be red or reddish purple it needed to be natural and have meaning. Ah ha, I have some felting wool tucked away and a red wool strand would work. The Kabbalah says a thin red wool string will ward off misfortune brought about by the evil eye. The Chinese belief is that a there is an invisible red thread that connects each of us to those who have been, are currently, or will be in the future important in our lives. I had mixed wool roving and worked up a strand of mixed red and purple.

Tomorrow I will post more about this necklace and some photos of other pieces that were inspired by the soup mix. I hope you’ll join me again.

Back to my blog hopping….the link yesterday’s post is interactive and contains a link to all of the BSBP participants. Enjoy the eye candy and be sure to say Hello and leave a comment. I know everyone will enjoy hearing from you too.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

It's Finally Here! - Bead Soup Blog Hop.

Welcome to the Fifth Bead Soup Blog Hop and what I’m turning into “Bead Soup Week”. I decided as I created these pieces that there were many things to talk about while creating them. Everything from a tutorial on how to make those earrings without having your discs slop around to using the symbolism of various objects to your designing advantage. It will be a full week so I hope you’ll hop back here again.

Besides posting all of these photos of what I created I’d also like to introduce my partner in this challenge Rebecca Sirevaag . She sent me some wonderful pieces to work with. I so loved the colors she sent but when I couldn’t find matching additions in my stash I had to drop one of the colors (that beautiful ice blue) and find a different route. (You can hop on over to Becca's blog to see what she made with the stash I sent her.)

From Rebecca’s soup I had plenty to work with despite dropping the blue from the palette. I used the copper stamped leaf, the butterflies went into the earrings, almost all of the brown beads and spacers, all three of the copper beads (two in the smaller necklace, which is meant to wear alone or as a duel piece with the longer necklace and a different one in the large necklace), plus the toggle, and the gold aventurine discs.

To Rebecca’s stash I added a ton of miscellaneous items and went wild. It was her copper leaf that sent me on this earthy combination full of symbolism. You can see the silk, the linen thread, feathers, pearls, seed beads, and several ceramic pieces I made for this piece, my lampwork bird, and many others.

I’m not going to go into what possessed me to go in this direction or what it all means. I’ll save all of that and several close-ups of how I put it together for tomorrow. For now, enjoy the hopping around this list from the Fifth Blog Hop and don’t forget to leave a note or two along the way.
Just click below and it will take you to the list. Have Fun.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

BHB - Mean's Big Honkin' Bead

Yeah, I know it's supposed to mean a big-holed bead that is meant for leather or a pandora type bracelet. And what got into me here - - - I really couldn't tell you. This bead is actually about 3" long and made of Terra Cotta Earthenware. It's still in clay form and hasn't been fired yet. The bead is hollow so once it's fired it will be relatively light and will look great on a long necklace with maybe another bell shape and a beaded tassle fringe. I'm debating with myself as to whether I should paint it African Zulu style with lots of different colors or whether I should cover it entirely with an Opal White kind of paint that will let the red bleed through on the higher spots. Maybe I should make several of these beads and try a couple of different styles. For an artist I have to tell you I hate making decisions like this - LOL.

I'll ask you guys - Which painting style do you think?