Monday, July 28, 2008

Copy? Right!

Lookie what I found while I was clicking through my link list!  Apartment Therapy discovered an electronic swatch book of copyright free  fabric patterns circa 1830 - 1920 at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum.  If you're computer and photoshop friendly, you can download these vintage designs, turn 'em into black and white art, clean 'em up a bit and make timeless photopolymer plates and etched copper texture sheets.  All of the swatches are in the public domain "down under", but you may need to do a little more investigation to see if you can use them elsewhere in the world. 

Friday, July 25, 2008

Weekend Eye Candy

Brooch by Iris Aglom via Klimt02

I just looove jewelry makers.  Whatever their process, favorite materials or style.  There's always something that sparks my imagination.  My tastes run more towards art/studio jewelry, but I even get ideas from what Maggie Bergman from Australia calls red, white and blue jewelry. Rubies, Diamonds and Sapphires.  In other words traditional gold or platinum wedding ring/Oscar worthy type designs. 

I don't look at other artists work to copy or emulate their style.  I want to absorb their construction, found materials choices, clasps, connections and shapes.  And I try not to do a sketch of an entire piece, just the bit I want to remember.  Then I put it away and let it percolate.  The next time I sit down at my bench those elements have migrated into my own aesthetic and I can feel free to use them - knowing I'm not copying, but just using them as a jumping off place.

"Fruit 2008" by Myung Urso via Klimt02

Navigating around Klimt02 is kind of like finding your way through a renaissance hedge maze. There are beautiful examples at every twist and turn, but be careful you don't get lost in the carefully manicured forest.  Some of the work I really resonate with, some leaves me wondering why bother?  But if I look closely enough, there's always something there that I hadn't imagined before and it makes me think. 

From the Stained Cell Series via Vena Rust

18kt. is much more eyes straight forward.  A long restful walk through a hall of wonders.  In her wonderful blog, Marta Sanchez shows multiple images of each artist's work. I love how some of them have taken one simple element or theme and expanded on it to create an entire line of unique jewelry.

Take a tour this weekend and start a visual journal of work that inspires you, sketch out the bits and pieces.  Then go out into a lovely day and play.  When you come back I bet you have an idea or two just bursting to be realized.

Ring by Senay Akin via 18kt 

Thursday, July 24, 2008

AARP's Got Nothing On This...

Level One Certification Examples

So... did anyone notice in yesterday's post that I alluded to the fact that I student taught a Level One class with Mary Ann Devos at the Conference?  It's just one of the things one has to do when... one has been appointed a Senior Instructor!!!  Too many exclamation points, but I'm really honored to have been asked to become the new Senior for the Los Angeles and general Southern California area.  Huzzah!

My first cert. class at Mikuni in Northridge is scheduled for September 27 and 28.  The maximum number of students for my debut is just 8, so if you're interested (and I hope that you are) be sure to sign up with as soon as possible. I'll be adding some general certification information to both my full website and my Class Schedule blog soon, so be sure to check out the links to the right of this post in  a few days.

Depending on when you're reading this, the class was temporarily listed under Mary Ellin D'Agostino's name, but don't be fooled.  I'll be there with bells on, clutching a binky to calm my nerves.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Most Special Gift

Torch fired, but un-polished silver clay scrap

Lots of things to do today to get ready for a class, but I wanted to share one wonderful thing that I learned at the conference. 

When you teach a class, you hope to impart some of your knowledge and experience to your students.  The goal is that you leave them with information that they'll find useful in their own jewelry making processes.  Sometimes during that exchange a teacher is lucky enough to learn something new or innovative from the student.

While student teaching a Level One class with Mary Ann Devos in Indianapolis, one of her students shared a tip that was worth the price of admission right then and there.  Unfortunately I no longer remember her name.  My memory runs through the sands of time, and valuable information is sifted through my synapses like a play day at the beach.  If you read this dear student, I apologize and beg you to leave a comment so I can credit you in the future.

We're always looking for ways to save every tiny bit of the precious gold or silver clay we use to make our masterpieces. I've told the story about how CeCe Wire has every student wipe their hands on a baby wipe to retrieve the clay that clings to their hands, collects every stray piece of sandpaper and ancient emery boards to send to a refiner that takes dirty scrap. I've always said that I neither have the space for storage nor the energy to save all that gilded ephemera for the few cents it might garner. This brilliant student takes saving fine slip from fingers, tools and work surfaces one step further.

She wipes things down with a baby wipe or piece of toilet paper and then torch fires it to reclaim the silver content.  It can be saved to refine down the line, used to cast with or best of all - melted into little balls and other interesting shapes to be added as design elements to unfinished pieces. Brilliant.  I'm sure that other folks have thought outside the box to discover this wonderful way of in-house refining, but it just never occurred to me.  Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Home Again, Home Again...

Purdue Memorial Union Hotel

I'm back from the conference (finally) and all revved up to get back to work. Yes, BronzClay is terribly exciting, the seminars were inspiring and seeing old friends was just too fabulous. Making new ones doesn't exactly suck either. Too much fun. And I had even more when I got home. Maggie Bergman from Australia stopped in L.A. for two days on her way back to Oz and we had the bestest time. I just dropped her at LAX and want to cry, I miss her already.

I'm not a picture taker, so nothing but Google Images to illustrate the fun we had (note to self: get a purse sized camera). Paige, Michelle, Maggie and I went to a wonderful restaurant in hippie saturated Topanga Canyon called Inn of the Seventh Ray. It's a lovely old place on a creek (at least it's a creek after the rains) protected by a  canopy of green leafiness - complete with fluttering Monarch butterflies and scampering squirrels. And probably even more unseen but observant wildlife. It's rumored to have been built in the 30's by Amiee Semple McPherson as a private getaway to escape the intensities of her pentecostal ministry.

Swimming Upstream

Then we went up to the Malibu Country Mart to go to a favorite folk art gallery that I haven't visited in much too long.  So long in fact that Tops Malibu doesn't exist anymore. It was so unique. Such a shame. So back into the car to go to Altered Space Gallery which carries two of my favorite jewelry artists, Todd Reed and Eric Silva. Of course while there I fell in love with a fine artist I wasn't familiar with before. Michele Mikesell's whimsical anthropomorphic animals make me smile, her technique with paint is luscious and I want one more than life itself. Okay. That may be an overstatement.

Today we went to San Gabriel Bead Company so Maggie can envison where I work when I tell her stories and drove to Pasadena to walk around the outside of the Gamble House which is only open for tours on weekends. Dang. Then back to my studiolo for a quick nap followed by the sad trip to the airport. Can't wait for 2010 when I get to see Maggie, Angela, Sarah, Linda, and all my other new and old friends again. To say nothing of the glorious conference.  Which I will report on in depth tomorrow. Stay tuned for more fascinating observations ...

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Carnival's Back in Town

Image via DandyTree

Step right this way... Each month a group of jewelry artists use their blogs to get together online and answer the same question - each in their own way.  This month's query is:

What is your favorite manual tool?

The list is long, the choices many.   I don't think I've met a hand tool I didn't like.  I love to collect them and put them on the wall to admire.  There's an old tool sale in my neighborhood once a month where they sell all kinds of wonderful things.  Old adze's, the most wonderful hammers, altered files and bits of architectural details.  It takes all my inner strength not to empty my checking account each time I go.

That said, my favorite manual tool has remained the same for years.  At least for use with metal clay.  I loooove a good toothpick!  I sand with it, drill holes, place patina in difficult or delicate areas - even use one to burnish a bit.  I use a round, wooden toothpick almost as much as I use my synthetic hair #3 watercolor brush, which I simply could not stand to be without. Very low tech.

I'm really interested to see what the other carney's have to say though.  I bet they've discovered a wonderful tool that I'll have to run right out to acquire.  After I get back from the conference at Purdue of course.  I'll be taking the next week off from blogging and will return Monday the 21st.  Be well and leave lots of comments to let me know what you've all been up to.

If you'd like to see what the other carney's have to say, check them out:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Extra, Extra!

Tonya Davidson, the genius behind Whole Lotta Whimsy has now created a blog! And it's great. Musings and Mullings will focus on marketing, branding, and other professional topics as well as metal clay techniques and the new BronzClay.

And wait until you see her stunning studio. I'm so jealous I could melt. It's bright, big, clean and best of all pink! The enamel wall alone is aesthetically gorgeous as well as being super functional. And I'm dying to know what's in all those green storage boxes on the wall to the left. Treasures!

Drop by and leave a comment. This new venture really deserves all the support we can give it. I can't wait to see how this blog develops.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Weekend Eye Candy

Take a look at my beautiful new key fob made by Kirsten Skiles of Knitsteel.  Kirsten recently taught a forging workshop at Haystack and this was one of the little lovelies she made while she was there.  I feel a bit like I was there too.  Her blog was filled with such wonderful imagery, I just had to have a bit of the magic myself.  And I needed a new fob.

Who knew?! Flickr has groups that gather images posted by other Flickr members.  One of these groups recently contacted me to include one of my hollow rings and that's how I discovered them. Take a look at the collection of great jewelry images they've compiled.

Have a safe, sane and rockin' 4th of July - or 14th of July in advance depending on where you live!