Friday, March 29, 2013

A Great Spring - Beads of Courage

This Spring is going to be a great one.  I’ve already signed up for Bead and Button.  I’m even bringing my beads for Southeastern Michigan Beadmaker’s Guild Table (aka: Glass Act).  I’ve got some great classes lined up to take and meeting up with friends at the show is always a delight. 

Something new that I haven’t done in a while is sign up for lampworking class at The Gathering Place Studio.  This is Portia and Lee Mandel’s Studio in Naperville, Illinois.  There are good people in the world – lots of them – but Portia and Lee are a very special kind of genuine good.  You know how you meet people and you get the first wave of “impressions”.  Often that first impression isn’t a great place to make a judgement about what someone is truly like.  In this case – What you see and hear is what you get – they are genuine – genuinely kind, thoughtful, unpretentious, happy, good people.  They make you feel at home.  The studio is located at their home.  I think it’s the first time I had ever been to a studio so set up to make your learning experience as easy as possible.  Portia always has plenty of water on hand and a light breakfast for everyone to enjoy.  Yeah, you heard me right.  In the downstairs the kitchen is set just to the north of the studio area and when we arrive we are greeted every morning with freshly brewed coffee, bagels, fresh fruit, cereals, and so on.  We start our day with a meet and greet – and on the second day we compare the beads we’ve made too.  It’s just a gracious way to start the day and to put everyone at ease.  Going to Portia’s is more like an “experience” than just a class.  I always come back feeling invigorated with new ideas, and pampered as if I’d been to a very special retreat.

I’m taking a class with Jari Sheese.  What a great way to begin a spring.  Jari works with a lot of hollow beads made on Jeri Warhaftig’s great puffy mandrels.  I own a boat load of puffy mandrels and just love using them.  You can get a super huge glass bead without all of weight of the glass.  And that doesn’t even begin to cover the great way  Jari Sheese decorates them.  You can see Jari’s work here.

The title of this post is Beads of Courage.  As I’ve already said – Portia is a joy and has planned for some “extra” fun stuff.  One evening we are playing Bead’s of Courage poker.  The beads will be our chips and all of the beads we play with will be going to this wonderful program.  If you haven’t heard of the program you can clique on the name and it will take you there.  I’m not done making beads yet to “play” with ­­­­but the photo is what I have so far.
Wow, I've left you with plenty of links on this post to check out - Enjoy!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Grunge - I should have asked the expert!

One blue bead from my Mom's old necklace/ and some I made - the ceramic "love" dangle I made. The rest is from various stashes I've accumulated.
Patina Chemicals

I've been working with some tin again and after Marina's great earrings I've been trying my darnedest to work on a more recycled and grungy look. Grunge doesn't appear to be hard (ah huh!).  And that is what I get for assuming that getting a great patina of any kind is easy. You'd think I'd know better. While I was on a trip downstate I stopped at my favorite in state jewelry supplier and picked up a few new patinas. Better to drop your money on the patinas rather than the hazmat fee to ship the stuff.  Now I've got this great cornucopia of chemicals (royally ucky stuff) - some I had and some I bought.  I threw just about everything at this pair of earrings.  And, I keep thinking there must be an easier way.  So what's your favorite grunge recipe?  Oh, and what do you think of the earrings?

I wrote this post before I went blog hopping this afternoon.  Marina Rios must be on the same wave length or something - or maybe we both stayed up to late last night.  I dunno.  I guess there is no use in asking what your favorite grunge recipe is because today Marina posted hers.  You can find it here.  Like I've said previously - She is a very giving artist and that puts in her in a unique category called an artist's artist.  Giving of herself and techniques - and those with loads of talent and inspiration usually are. 

To see Fanciful Devices (Marina's business) just click on the name. 

Back to the grunge pile - I've got to get myself out a piece of sandpaper and pump up my muscles. 

Note please that all of the inspiration for these earrings came from the pair Marina sold me and that I wear proudly all over the house and to Walmart (where they are stodgy and a gawk at my ears).  I really need to move somewhere more arty.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Street Art

I need to get back to blogging....but here's a little art (sweet - I wasn't looking for a social statement).

This one just made me laugh - great way to use what was there!

I feel this way about housekeeping.
What's to add here!

Peace and love everyone.  I should have some new things to post very soon.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Random Act of Kindness from Marina Rios

It's Spring! Or so I keep telling myself.   I will scream it from the mountain tops just how much I dislike winter.  It's really not the snow - it's just the general lack of sun and all of the gray.  So, in the midst of all of this and a good dose of Seasonal Affective Disorder I can get pretty well knocked on my butt.  Nothing to worry about but it can feel pretty crappy and affect the joy of creating.  During this time I do a lot of Internet surfing and talking to friends.  One of my favorite blogs (and people) is Marina Rio's of Fanciful Devices.  She's just a straight forward joy of an artist.  Nothing pretentious - just great art and good people.  I've been wanting a pair of her earrings, like forever.  Most people who know me generally see me wearing other people's work.  I like supporting other artists and when you find something original and fun to wear what is not to love.

Marina always lists her scrumptious new designs on her blog for us to drool over and a couple of times I've seen pieces that have just totally tripped my trigger.  Alas, instead of opening my mouth and speaking up the pieces they've sold before I could make up my mind.  I mean, really - she makes "to die for" neat jewelry.  Well, in my current (albeit, temporary funk) I've been dreaming about what it would be like to be a queen for a few days...all those servants, flowers everywhere, deep bath tubs, you know - the whole enchilada.  And then these earrings showed up on her blog.  Look at them - fabulous.  They're gold and they even got crowns on them. They screamed at me from the page to give them a home on my ears.  And so I did.  Look at how they arrived.  Isn't that packaging something?  It's over the top.  For a person who loves old letters and saves pieces of this and that like a hoarder it was a knock you on your ass moment.  I not only got those earrings that I was drooling over they came packaged for this queen as if Marina knew my most personal of thoughts.  I was bowled over with joy.

Earrings by Marina Rios of Fanciful Devices (Etsy Shop)
But that wasn't the only treasure in that box.  Marina knows I'm a maker of jewelry - she knows and has answered for me many a question of about her beautiful recycled look.  She's an artist's artist and like myself isn't afraid or put off by questions.  I can't tell you how wonderful that is and how supportive this community can be.  But then if you are here - you probably know that.  At the post office I could tell that the earrings weren't the only thing in that box.  I was like a kid at Christmas...the box shook and made noises.  I KNEW there was something else in there.  Ah, did I say something else?  I was shaking with excitement - all the gray of day just slipped away.

Something else would be an understatement.  Around my beautiful earrings was a treasure trove of goodies.  Pieces of this and that to aid me in my quest to make my own treasures.  Look at all of that stuff......  Even the beautiful little pouch was stuffed full.  The pouch is going into my purse.  I love  it and it's just perfect for me to put my "finds" into. 

Goodies that Marina slipped into the box for me to play with

The pottery is just perfect to set into a Mary Hettmansperger setting. And there are so many exciting pieces in that pile I can't even describe what it has done for my frame of mind and inspiration.  I keep thumbing through it and imaging what kind of jewelry I might build around it.

Thank You Marina.  This will definitely not go to waste and your act of kindness has more than made my day.  If it weren't a six hour Drive to Chicago I'd come over and give you the biggest hug you have ever had.  And did I say how much I love those earrings...I'll be wearing them at Bead and Button, maybe to bed too.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Passing on Laura Bracken's incredible idea.

On finding the center of a circle (not always an easy task)

I drilled a hole at an intersection on my big plastic ruler (from Joanne's). I just lay my metal piece under the squares. Easy peasy.
I have a set of Swanstrom disc cutters - I love them.  I also have this old plastic centering tool my husband used to use on the end of dowels to find the center.  They both work great for finding the center of something - mostly a circle.  BUT, this is from a post on Lampwork, Etc.  Mallory wrote in about finding the center of a circle without the aid of the Swanstrom.  And what is posted above was Laura's reply.  Frankly, that would work equally great for find where to place the hole for a earring you've cut square and for lots of other applications where you need to find the center and work your way out with other holes.  This is just stinkn' brilliant so I'm passing it on.

And here is where you can find Laura's blog - which is also full of other interesting tips and goodies.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Another Idea for the Earring Fan

If I can't work much because of the knee I can at least design.  I was browsing through Etsy and just surfing in general when something I saw sparked a design idea for the same fan shape I had done for the earrings.  It's about as elaborate as the nicho necklace idea (more or less) and should make a great necklace.  Here is the drawing and the notes.

Not my best drawing but you get the idea.  Same basic premise as the "Danse" earrings but with a few more complex dangles and a more complicated bail at the top.

When you can't work on your newest ideas what do you do?  Most of us seem to stay creative in one way or another, crocheting, sewing, whatever (I do both).  What's your favorite?

Friday, March 1, 2013

2nd Annual Musical Challenge Blog Hop

My finished shoulder dusting earring - Perfect to wear for "Dance Macabre"
Welcome everyone to the 2nd Annual Musical Challenge Blog Hop.  I feel blessed to be included in this group hop.  It was created by Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati Jewelry and I’ve found it particularly intriguing and fun.  I love music but sway away from listening to it for an incredible variety of weak excuses.  Erin has brought me back to considering the fact that maybe I ought to have my I-Pod charged and filled with music and turn off the television when I’m working.  Thank You Erin for including me in this group and for a renewed interest in filling my ears with something besides wax, TNT, and Syfy Channel.
I described the process of choosing classical music in another post.  I felt a lot like a baby with a new toy during that process and could have stopped right there and researched musical inspiration for a month.  It probably didn’t hurt any that my fresh new knee was throbbing and listening to the music was lulling me away from obsessing about the pain and into a more enjoyable dimension.

One earring complete and one of just parts - due to the new knee this was as far as I could get but I thought you'd enjoy seeing the parts before they were assembled.

After reviewing countless instrumentals my list contained mostly genre that called “Romantic Era Style”. This caused me to narrow the search to that genre to see what else it would produce.   That brought me to Camille Saint-Saens, and finally to his Danse Macabre (If you click on the Danse Macabre you get a great U-Tube version of the song).
It’s no surprise to me that I’d be attracted to that music.  I have collected skulls and bones since I was a child (no it’s not macabre but I had a family interest in biology and all things medical). I’ve created glass sugar skulls since my earliest torching years and have done countless lithographs and drawings of cow skulls my uncle gave me.  It’s just a large part of me and I’ve no morbid curiosity other than in life’s natural cycle and how various cultures deal with their loss.  In particular I love the concept of the Day of the Dead and the honorariums and stories about loved ones past.  What an incredible and happy way to keep them in our thoughts and pass along family history.
Camille Saint-Saens (the composer of this instrumental) sounds like a multi-talented French eccentric.  He wrote music, poetry, did complicated math equations, wrote books, and many other things.  If you’re interested in Saint-Saens you can click here for the Wikipedia biography.  It wasn't Saint-Saens biography that inspired me - it was his music.  He wasn't a "character" like a Picasso would be but maybe his genius was born of his ability to seemingly just be immersed in whatever inspired him at the moment - math or music.
I’ve listened to Danse over and over.  And spent several hours drawing and making decisions as to what kind of piece I wanted to do for the challenge.  Since Erin was kind enough to leave it open to all mediums there were many possibilities.  I decided to go with jewelry but had to abandon some of the first ideas I conceived of as well as completing the matching earring.  I do know I will go back to the original drawings at a later date and I’ve included them for you to see.

The earrings are definitely shoulder dusters and although they are large enough to necessitate the need for a post earring to bare the weight they are still light enough to wear easily because of the choice of materials - small lampwork pieces. ceramics, tin, chain, pewter, and so on.  These are just perfect for the "Danse" and they move easily and just shimmer.

I like the idea of a Nicho type piece for the neck.  I can see this first piece hung from a forged neck wire. After my initial surge and searching for parts I had to shut down a few days when the pain out ran the medication and ice packs on my leg.  I knew I had to move on to a smaller piece and a bracelet was born in the drawings - - - - It kind of came and went the same way when I realized I was not able to make it down 16 steps to the studio to do some soldering and torch work (sugar skull lampwork/ bones/and so on).  Regardless, the music was still singing to me and I pared down the piece to the smallest of items I thought I might be able to accomplish.  I went through my stash of metal and beads and went designing again from there.

The Nicho Necklace became a bracelet in this drawing as my physical/ pain limitations became totally evident and began to eat into the time factor of the challenge.  Soldering multiple jump rings or figuring out a cold joined joint to replace them became a stumble I knew I couldn't tackle at the moment.

This is the final drawing and notes that I made as I worked my way through it.  It could be a multiple (earrings) or could be changed by the addition of a jump ring or bail at the top into a pendant.
Despite the fact this challenge piece went through many incarnations I like where it went.  The music, the challenge of really listening to the piece I selected, the challenge of working in between the knee limitations and yet still being able to come up with a viable piece of jewelry that is true to my materials and vision - well, it was important.  I think the challenge was the best medicine I could have ordered.  It kept me thinking, creating, and moving forward - again - thanks Erin,
This is the list of all of the blog hop participants.  I’ve got to get moving along so I can visit everyone myself and see what music moved their souls – I can’t wait!  Thank You, Erin.  Everyone enjoy the hop and I hope you enjoyed my process and creation for this challenge.
2nd Annual Musical Challenge Blog Hop Participants