Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Portland Bound

I'm heading to Portland, Oregon today to take art workshops at the Art & Soul Retreat. This is my third year attending. I chose a variety of classes this year: book making, enameling on copper, painting, and making a beaded bracelet. I'll post some photos when I return.

While in Portland, I'll be visiting my brother and his family. I'll leave you with a picture of a gift I am bringing them.

I made a wall hanging out of copper sheet. I cut the heart, hammered it, stamped the letters, then aged it with liver of sulphur. The glass beads were purchased at a craft fair

Monday, September 28, 2009

Vary Your Tastes

An art piece may contain many elements. Visually, there's color, quite often the more, the better. There's finish: matte, shiny, smokey, milky. Shapes and lines pull your eye to the different parts. Texturally, there's soft, hard, smooth, rough, cold, hot, sharp, blunt.

For this necklace, I wanted to introduce many elements by using various beads, wire, metals, and fiber. And so I call this necklace, Vary Your Tastes.

You can see all the colors I used from the mix of beads and the ribbons hanging from the pendant. This necklace combines hammered copper wire, torch-fired copper metal, different types of ribbons, and silver end caps and clasp.

P.S. The beads I used were from Beverly Gilbert's Coral Beach bead soup. Beverly has the wonderful ability of combining many colors, shapes and sizes of beads together to make a beautiful mix. She'll be showcasing her jewelry designs in her new book, Beaded Colorways, due at the beginning of 2010. You can visit her blog here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Native Symbol

Have you ever found something at a bead show that you thought was way cool, but you weren't sure what you would do with it? I know, that happens all the time. Just change the location from "bead show" to "flea market" or "antique shop" or "art store," and I'm sure you know what I mean. Sometimes these jewelry elements/art supplies sit in your stash for months, or even years. Then one day, and you don't know why that day is different from the others, you pick up that little trinket, bead, -- whatever -- and you know just how you will use it.

And that's how I came up with this new necklace. I call it Native Symbol.

The trinket I found at a bead show is this long center piece. I bought it from a woman who had beads from all over the world. At first I was mad that I didn't write down its country of origin or what it was made of. But then I though it would be more fun to imagine where it was from and what it means. To me it looks like it would be worn by a native people, centuries ago. Whether Native American, Aboriginal, Inuit -- it didn't matter. But I imagine it would be worn to symbolize the power that your family holds in your community. And the colored ribbon reminds me of the brightness of the sun when it sets -- brighter still at that last moment before it drops. I know the trend now is to use steel wire when you want that aged look, but I used sterling silver for this one. I don't think steel was available to the Native Americans. Drop the silver in a little liver of sulphur, and you instantly have that aged look.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Heart & Soul

I haven't posted any photos here for a bit, but it's not for lack of artistic creation on my part. I've actually been quite busy making necklaces, ATCs, and other collage art. Next week I'll be showing three pieces of jewelry at an Artists' Reception at a local bank. The Wellington Art Society has been invited by Amtrust Bank in Wellington, Florida to hold a one-night reception for their artists. Each participating artist can bring three works of art. I'll be busy all afternoon putting together easels so our members can display their 60+ pieces. After I do the hard work of setting up, I'll do a quick change and be ready for the reception from 5:00 - 8:00. I decided to make three new necklaces for this affair. Here's a sneak preview of one of them.

I started this necklace by making the focal piece. The heart is hammered copper, and I've hung a clutch of ceramic beads below it. The chain links are all hand made -- I wrapped wire around the oval handle of spatula! Hey, anything works, and you'll get a nice consistent look. The side copper pieces say "HEART", "& SOUL". I love the combination of the copper with this cool, sherbet-y green.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hot Dragonfly

I got a new toy to play with the other day. It's my new butane torch. Now, I've had a torch for many years. When I was in cooking school we used big, propane torches to do all kinds of things: heating pans for removing cheesecakes or frozen desserts; burning meringue for a perfect key lime pie; and of course burning the tops of creme brulee. I did that for 200 plated desserts at a restaurant when I was the pastry chef there. There's no way you can't feel macho wielding a propane blowtorch. So when I wanted my own torch for cooking at home, of course the big propane daddy was the way to go. No wimpy Williams-Sonoma creme brulee torch for me! I'd be re-filling that baby constantly.

Fast forward a few years, and now I'm using my torch for soldering, coloring metal, and creating beads on wire. I learned torch-fired soldering in a class in a bead store, using the little butane torches. Well, at home of course I was going to use my big macho torch. I set up a safe area on my dining room table by laying down a 12" square tile, placing a fire brick on top, and I was good to go. Until I lit that torch and blew little balls of solder all across my beautiful table! It was like mercury balls running around, only these were red hot. Luckily, I didn't burn the table. From then on, I did all my torch work outside on the patio.

After ten years, the torch for my propane canister has finally died. I had to make that trip to Home Depot for a replacement. And what do I see? The wimpy little torches have grown up! I see the butane torches are stronger, have multiple tips, and can refill easily. I have now un-machoed myself, and will be using this smaller torch. Just the canister of my older one was bigger than it!

I tried my new torch the other day when I wanted to heat some copper pieces to give them a little color. Much to my surprise, I can use this little guy in the house right at my art table! I'm still a safety girl, but it's just not the big, honking thing the other one was. I don't think I'm at risk of accidentally lighting anything else around. And it has an easy "off" button -- the other one you had to twist the dial to turn it off. I'll definitely be using this more, especially when I just want to quickly heat up one thing.

After all this talk off torching, here's a photo of what I made. I cut out wing shapes from 24 guage copper, then torched them for a nice mottled effect. I "sewed" them together with 28 guage wire, then sewed on a little bead I made using yarn, wire and beads. Together they make a nice little dragonfly.

I made this dragonfly to go on a necklace that was started by Carol Moore. She wanted a nature theme, and she started it with a beautiful focal piece -- check out her copper butterfly wing with attached key and resined bezel photo. She said the drilling of the key to attach the rivets was quite an adventure. I'm impressed with how well she cut the copper around her etching of a butterfly stamp. In a month, after one more addition, she'll get her beautiful necklace back. I hope she likes this sneak preview!

This was a fun dragonfly to make -- you may see some more in future creations.