Sunday, April 21, 2013

It Ain't Heavy - It's My Earring!

I've been making some longer and larger earrings lately.  Since I'm from that age of huge earrings you just might think it's my earring of choice.  It never was but I'm getting bolder with age.  During that time they just kept growing in size until we all looked ridiculous if we were wearing a stud instead of severed elephants head.  Our heads tilted and our collective ear lobes ached.  While ear lobes naturally grow with us for the rest of our lives some of them began to look stretched, then our tiny holes contained slits in them rather than the original small hole.  Short of surgery to repair the cosmetic damage caused by years of this type of abuse, via vanity, what's there to do?

I know this is an ethnic preference but this does look painful to me. Although I have to say the ones below don't look any less painful to wear for an evening, let alone a lifetime.

Well, you could have guessed that my favorite jewelry to create is earrings.  I thought, as I was matching pieces up, it was high time to have some parameters on what might be acceptable as an earring weight.  Is there a rule?  Does it matter how heavy the earring is if it's really stylish?  No? Yes? Truthfully lots of you are just going to say it doesn't matter if you like the earrings and you'll wear them no matter what - everyone does have variances in their tolerance for weight.  I've been there before and I guess wearing an inappropriately heavy pair of earrings once in awhile wouldn't, in the long run, hurt your ear lobes.  But, I can't wear a pair of those for whole evening before they go in my purse.....and If I'm going to spend either the time or money on a pair I want to feel like I'm going to love the look of them and how they feel in my ears.

I've been working with glass, stones, ceramic, and recycled components for my new earrings.  I've also taken to adding tin to them.  I love recycling the tin.  It was a design decision based on weight and color.  I wanted to have more volume in my earrings - maybe a couple of royally large "statement pieces".  I could create a very large hollow glass bead and that would definitely give me the volume but glass still has a weight to it.  If it's hung on a pendelem (such as a chain) it will "feel" heavier than if it were on a short head pin.  It's the nature of the science.

Since I have to weigh out materials for casting I happen to have a very dependable scale on hand.  So, I googled earring topics (earring weight) to see what I'd come up with.  I love having potential info at my finger tips. 

A lot depends on the kind of earring attachment you are using - obviously a post with a wide clutch on the back is going to help distribute more weight than a standard earring nut - and, of course, common sense dictates they are going to better handle weight than a wire.  Even the gauge of earring wire is helpful.  But after reading quite a bit of material it seems like there is mostly agreement among the designers.

Judith Ripka, award winning designer, feels that 4 grams per earring is a good weight to stay under.  Some say a total of 10 grams for "art" earrings is reasonable, others stay to 7 grams per pair - max.  So, it looks like maybe a design limit of 3.5 grams per earring is reasonable (give or take your choice - wire/post/style and science).

Without a scale how much is a gram?  Well, 3.5 grams = 1/8 oz. (the average size tea bag).  Other weights to help guide you (me) on my quest for earring perfection:

Paperclip            - 1 gram
Penny                 - 2.5 grams
Quarter               - 6 grams
Reese's PB Cup  - 9 grams
2 Nickels            - 10 grams
Average Egg      - 50 grams
Dove Soap Bar   - 100 grams 
Average Apple   - 150 grams

Trust me - I'm unlikely to make anything as large (heavy) for my ears as the last three items on that list !

Sunday, April 14, 2013

New Ceramic Earring Parts (coming right up?)

I liked the way the tiny little "love" charm worked on the new tin dangle earrings I assembled a couple of posts ago so I decided to make a batch of earring parts.  Here's what I have so far.  They're fun to make but I get the feeling they are going to be a "beach" to paint if I want to do more than dip them in a glaze....ugh.  I know I'll love them when they're done but sometimes I bite off a little more than I can chew.  LOL - what artist doesn't?

Piles of tiny new clay earring components to glaze

I still need to post my photos of what I did in Jari Ann Sheese's class.  I'll try and get those photos taken today.  I just have to show you what she guided us through.  The ornaments are pretty incredible if I do say so myself.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

More Rain and Snow

It's never going to stop!
The rain, sleet and snow.
Can you figure out what this is?

It's a great optical illusion - I'll tell you what it is at the end of the post.
This one cracks me up - but it's how I feel
and I especially like this it, love it?
Shepard Faerie Art Print
But war it is! - It just cost me over $300 to untangle a mangled mouse from my car fan.  So, that's it - the mice may not live in peace in the garage.  I've declared war and I'll probably be reincarnated as a mouse and I feel bad but not enough to pay to have this done again.  Sorry, it's just been too cold - too long this winter.
The optical illusion is through the dashboard window of my car.  It's a window and blinds through the rain.  Weird, huh?
Have a great Saturday and try to Make Art - Not War.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Glass Art Retreats

There are classes - at Bead and Button I take "classes".  At The Gathering Place Studio I have a lampworking retreat.  Yup, there IS a difference.  The difference is the hostess and setting for the event.  I say event because it is an event - a class - a retreat.  Portia and Lee Mandel open their home to us "artist types" and have the most wonderful instructors come to teach.  This time it was Jari Sheese.  But more on Jari in later post.

Jari Sheese adding stringer to a hollow bead
A pile of Jari's beautiful beads she had for sale.

Hollow silver glass rounds by Jari Sheese
Now lest you think there are just torches set up willy nilly at Portia's let me explain.  Within her beautiful home there is a complete studio.  The studio is set up is as fine as any I have attended classes in - we have expansive room to work in - overhead and window lighting - ventilation to remove fumes - a complete array of tools at our disposal - enough kilns to fill - and plenty of supplies and glass to purchase.   It is a great environment.   That being said, you should expect every studio situation to contain those things.  Correct?  They don't all have that, you know. 

If that were not enough - and less than that has unfortunately sufficed many a time - let me go on as to why this is a destination studio in which to take classes.  The studio is located in Portia's basement....LOL.  Uh, did I say this basement faces out to the backyard - with beautiful pool, patio, and shade trees?  A wall of windows so there is beautiful lighting.  Sounds nice, huh?  No, I am so not done telling you why you need to wish for a vacation there.

A basement is what I have in my home.  You know, sunken below the ground - tiny dryer type windows at the top of the walls.  It's dark and it has a tendency toward gloominess.  Portia's studio is located in the lower level of her home.  Us artists have the basic run of the lower level.  It is very much the size of a small home.  Outside the studio is the yard I have described.  Outside the doors to the studio is a beautifully appointed small kitchen.  Our water is kept in a wine cooler in the kitchen.  Beyond the kitchen is a table which seats 6-8 of us and beyond that a front room with lush seating, fireplace - large screen TV - a second table and chairs, bathroom, a hall full of glass and supplies to choose from if you would like to do a little expanse of windows and doors to outside. 

Now why would you need all of this?  For your breaks - of course.  Break you say?  Yes, of course a relaxing break.  Of course we eat.  Did I say eat?  We didn't eat - we feasted.  Portia is a hostess.  We are greeted in the morning with coffee, orange juice, bagels, fresh fruit.  Not fresh fruit thrown in a bowl.  I ate fresh mango, pears, grapes, watermelon, oranges.  I wanted for NOTHING.  At lunch - we were treated to homemade tomato basil soup and a chicken chili to die for.  This was served with a beautiful fresh salad and an enormous round of Montego (?) cheese to slice into soup or put on our salad.  A pasta salad too.  It was part of our class fee but not the normal fare you get when you attend a class.  Heck, usually we are buying a sandwich somewhere.  I'm not going to go on and on here but I could, easily.  Have I told you about the 7" tall carrot cake from the bakery?  How about the you could smell them cooking chocolate chip cookies filled with caramel?  Jari is Vegan and Portia make a vegan no-bake raspberry cake we all got to try.  Yummy.  I'm done - I'm eating an Oreo right now, it does not compare.

You take a class out of town and you go back to your hotel at the end of over.  Portia and Mary Kay (her studio assistant) arranged for us to have packed evenings if we so chose.  One evening we went to the local movie.  Not like my local movie theatre.  This one served dinner (Portia had paid for the movie tickets for us and supplied the first beverage).  I ate - I watched "Host" and felt pampered.  Another night we were going to play poker for BOC.  Since we had brought hands full of beads we decided to torch a little more, talk a lot, and make more BOC's.  On Sunday, many of us were leaving on Monday, Portia offered a trip to the theatre to see  "Catch Me if You Can".  The tickets were inexpensive but at this point I was pooped and opted for the hotel to put my feet up for the drive home.

Going to the Gathering Place Studio is an adventure - It's an art glass experience.  I've included photos of my time there.  I didn't get a bunch.  I was spending my time soaking it in - visiting with old and new friends, making beads.  Do you want a glass retreat?  You couldn't want for a better way to spend your time or hard earned money.

"Cook" - Portia and Lee's beautiful Labradoodle and studio lover.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Are you a Bead Star?

I've often thought about entering these contests but never do.  It's not that I can't compete and used to love doing that kind of jurying procedure but that faded away with five foot canvases I used to paint on.  But, just in case you do there is still plenty of time to consider entering the Bead Star competition.  There are lots of great prizes to be won in many different categories.

Check it out HERE.