Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How Nice!

Do you all know about Craftolpolis? It's a site that let's you see if you're currently in any Etsy Treasuries or Gift Guides.  

This morning I woke up to discover that my Bronze Brocatelle earrings are on page 5 of the Nostalgic Whimsey Gift Guide. Sweet!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Pinned Edition

I've started collecting pins, doing trades for pins, falling in love with pins, pins, pins! And I'd love to own each and every one of these.

I have tomorrow off from teaching. Think I'll make some... Pins!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Done and Done!

Got up... Got outta bed... and got started on finishing yesterday's bead projects. I love them! The class project is to make a box bead with a little frame and then next week we'll use resin to set ephemera, found objects or whatever the student imagines.

The Beholder

This is a photo of my Mom. Well, her eye at any rate. My Mom died when I was 22 and this is from one of my favorite photographs. The gold "granulation" beads are actually those miniscule glass beads that are sold in all kinds of fabulous colors at Michael's.

Relic of a Future Past

This is a rusty remnant that Paige brought home from her travels in New York. She found all kinds of lovely treasures while combing the beach and was kind enough to gift me with a few choice tidbits.

As for last night, it was sooo fun! We went out for a fancy dinner at L.A. Live, a new entertainment area across the street and had din din at a restaurant called Rock'n Fish. Yum. A bit pricey, but hey it was the World Championships after all.

So we get our tickets at will call, and they direct us to enter at the VIP entrance. Wow. Very important indeed. We were in a great location and could see everything. Turns out it wasn't the Opening Ceremonies (they were earlier in the afternoon), but the pairs short program. I could see the judges seats, the "kiss and cry" area and even the place where various networks were set up. I had a lovely long distance view of Scott Hamilton! Love him.

We saw about 4 or 5 groups of 8 pairs separated by intermission-y  Zamboni  entertainment. Did you know that their are people who come out and drop bits of snow in the holes created by the skate blade's toe picks?  Kind of like replacing the chuckers in a polo match or the divits in golf. 

This competition was the first appearance at World's for most of the first group or two. And you could tell. But the last two groups were wonderful! Canada, China and of course the U.S. are the ones to look out for.

Don't know who won the night, 'cos it was late and freezing and we decided to book for home. We were there from 7 till 10:30 though so I don't feel bad. They still have to skate their long program and then we'll see who brings home the gold. Can't wait to see the coverage on TV.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Sometimes I drive myself crazy with the details. For instance, today, I made a box bead as a sample for a class. I wanted to attach a chain to it. And of course I decided that it needed to be soldered.  I may actually do some wire wrapped stations on the chain, but I wanted the initial inch to be soldered to jump rings. Can't have open jump rings! They might snag on something and come apart.

a resin decoration will go into the circle

The problem comes in when I try to do things in a haphazard way. Let's face it. I'm not a skilled metal smith. Why? Because I don't do it often enough to become skilled.  But I know just enough to get myself into trouble.  I *think* I know how to do certain things, like solder a simple jump ring, but I push other knowledge out of my head to achieve my goal. 

Things like the fact that the box bead is huge and the chain and jump ring are tiny.  The huge bead will act as a heat sink and it will be difficult to accomplish the simple solder joint. Especially with the less than totally professional tools I own. But I go in full blast anyway.

What might I have done differently to help? I might have used a product called Cool Gel or even a piece of wet paper towel to cool down the bead. Then the flame would have been able to concentrate on the task at hand. (I like to anthropomorphise just about anything - hence a flame that can actually think). 

I also might have gotten the solder pick out at the beginning of the project so that when the solder balled up and fell off I could have just picked it up and put it back where it belonged. But nooooo. I had to let the dang thing cool down enough to add another squirt of solder (I use paste). 

Or I could have sanded the dang jump ring when it had oxidized. Don't I know that solder won't flow on dirty metal? It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't gone through the sequence of unsuccessful attempts 10 times.  No, I'm not exaggerating.

And all this after I had melted the chain in my very first attempt. That should have told me something. I should have started on paperwork or taken a walk or washed the dishes right then. But I persevered.

And don't you know that the perseverance paid off!  The joins are done. Unfortunately so am I, so the rest of the project will have to wait until tomorrow. And now of course, I'm not sure I like it after all. Geesh. I need a breather.

Luckily I'm going out with my friend Tana tonight.  She got the brilliant idea to score tickets to the opening ceremonies of the Ice Skating World Championships which are right here in L.A. this week!  Woo Hoo!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Eye of the Beholder...

I've come across the jewelry of Karl Fritsch while skipping through blogs and jewelry sites time and time again. And I always have to stop to examine it - even going so far as to Google him to see if I can find other samples of his work.

I'm searching for his curriculum vitae, his background, his philosophy.  But he's a mysterious man, there's nothing much out there.  I know that he's German, born in 1963 and had his first show in 1997 (I think). But his jewelry education and early work is mostly lost to time.

I'm intrigued by his celebrity, the number of galleries who seem to be impressed with his work, the respect he seems to garner. And I wonder... if a metal clay artist made items exactly like this what would the world think?

I'm pretty sure the "traditional jewelry community" would regard them as crass crafters, talentless hacks and lazy technicians. For goodness sakes the jewels are GLUED in place, there are visible fingerprints, edges are ragged and the construction is just plain sloppy.

And yet Mr Fritsch's work demands high prices. And so I wonder - when does seemingly poor craftsmanship become kitch or innovative or ground breaking? Is intention such an important component in creation that it overrides common sense? Or is the art world sometimes just a little too impressed with itself, reaching to find the beauty in ugliness.

And yet I do see beauty in some of his designs.  And the designs of the following artists. What is it that separates them? Popularity? Good press? Celebrity? A degree? A political opinion they feel compelled to state?

Metal Clay ring by Anne Dinan

Metal And Polymer Clay ring by Sous la Mansarde

At first glance work like this seems less than stellar, but upon closer examination there is something I find intriguingly attractive.  Something that makes me think. And isn't that what "art" is ultimately supposed to do? Touch us in a way that opens our minds to the unexpected? 

Metal Clay ring by Sister Wicked

Metal Clay Pebble Ring by Amy Honeybee

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Fantastic Plastic Edition

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you - just one word.
Benjamin: Yes sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes I am.
Mr. McGuire: 'Plastics.'
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Benjamin: Yes I will.
Mr. McGuire: Shh! Enough said. That's a deal.

I agree completely. Plastics. 'Nuff said. Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome to the Carnival!

The Carnivalist by Galerie De Illuminata
Step right his 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.  The topic this month is:

What was your biggest mistake or worst workbench disaster?

I'm not sure I've had any disasters.  I've had a lot of unfinished and less than stellar work sitting on my desk to be sure. Some of it for years. Work I've started and then become uninspired by. Work I've abandoned because I wasn't sure I could make anything worth making from it. And work I've just flat out been too lazy to conquer. But disasters? Ummm... I don't think so.

Unless we're talking about the state of my bench itself.  Now THAT can be a disaster.  At least once a week I want to just gather up all of the flotsam and jetsam that accumulates and toss it in the circular file.

Maybe my biggest mistake is allowing myself to give in to ennui. To wallow in the jewelry doldrums. I thought I had discovered an answer when I discovered the principal of Kaizen, but that boost of creative energy only lasted for a couple of weeks. I'll have to look at all my little orphans again. Show them some love and make them proud to be in existence. Prove to myself that there *are* no disasters.  Only unforeseen opportunities.

Be sure to check out the blogs of the other Carneys to see what they have to say:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Magic and Music

Fado is a Portuguese word meaning Fate or Destiny.  And the fates were certainly smiling on me last night when my cousin (whose husband is away at Spring Training) invited me to a concert at Disney Hall. I'd never heard of fado before, but it will be a long time before I forget it. Thought of as the Portuguese blues, fado  embodies the spirit of "saudade" a word loosely translated as longing or separation.  

Mariza, the acknowledged Queen of Fado is the most amazing thing I've seen in years. She is like something from another world, another time. A magical chanteuse who voice transcends any I've ever heard before. Plaintive and joyful; as gentle as a whisper and as powerful as a cry to the heavens.  She is simply mesmerizing to watch with the most elegant and evocative arm; hand and finger movements - the perfect blending of a prima ballerina performing the White Swan, a flamenco dancer and a high priestess performing an ancient rite.

I was lucky enough to see her with the most talented musicians as well. Portuguese (a type of instrument similar to a mandolin), acoustic and bass guitarists, a fabulous drummer/percussionist and a Brit who played keyboard, piano and a haunting muted trumpet. They were the same musicians that are in this video. And being able to hear her in a world class house was such a treat.  The Disney Hall seats 2400 guests, but feels as intimate as a nightclub. We were lucky enough to be seated in the second row, from which I could see every gesture, every catch every inflection and study every pluck of every guitar string. 

After the concert was "over", the musicians all came back for an encore when the fadista surprised us with Cry Me A River and later by singing her final Fado song acoustically (without amplification). It was just a magical evening and one that I treasure.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gone Fishin'

Fishing Lure by Tedd McDonah

I need to give my brain a little rest, so I'll be back on Friday to join the Carnival and on Monday with regular posts again. Have a good one y'all!

Monday, March 16, 2009

One Moment Please...

Alisa, who is mistress of ceremonies for the One A Week challenges, is having big time computer problems - so unfortunately they're on hold until further notice. Too bad, I'm sad. I was really enjoying them. But I've been really busy with other things and have lots on my plate, so that does free up a little time.

What I've discovered so far is that I really like including found/alternate materials in my work and am thinking hard about the types of things I'd like to incorporate. Note to self: Get thee to the swap meet!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Pierced Edition

Piercing is the act of sawing out a design in sheet metal with a delicate jeweler's saw. If you don't do it right, the blades break, the design gets mangled and you start all over again. It's a very labor intensive process. After the patten is cut away, there is lots of finessing, grooming and sanding. But the end result is magical.

Hollyhock Brooch - sterling; titanium; copper

I've sent an image of the brooch pictured above to Lark for consideration in a book on mixed metals. Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Grand Opening!!

I've decided to open another shop on Etsy ('cos I have sooo much time on my hands that I don't know how to fill).  It's a destash shop called From My Hart!  I'll fill it with class samples, some of the more primitive work I did when I was starting out and beads, beads, beads.

I started off as a stringer as we all probably did (and some of us loved it and stayed right there) and have a ton of really pretty semi precious, pearl and stone beads that I'm not using in my current work.  And instead of letting them linger in a dark, dank closet - I thought I'd bring them all out into the light to share with you.

And if you send me a convo with the words Grand Opening prior to buying, I'll revise the listing to give you a 10% discount on all silver components and 5% off purchases of two or more bead listings.  Do Not Pay Until You Convo Me And See The Reserved Listing. There are only 9 things listed at the moment, but the offer is good until next Friday, March 20!

Thanks for looking.  And do you mind giving the shop some love?  I can use all the hearts I can get!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Around the World...

Last weekend I appeared on the Mar De Color Rosa blog by Montserrat La Comba!  Every day Montserrat features a new and wonderful jewelry artist and now she's chosen me to present to the world. How I missed myself I'll never understand. :\

I can't tell you just how chuffed I am (as one of my British Flickr mates would say).  I've had a link to her site over there to your right for ever so long - I make sure to check out the pretty baubles and wonderful imaginations of her artists as often as I can (pretty much daily) - and now I'm one of them!  Thanks so much Montserrat.  I'm really honored.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Somewhere In Time

I love the look of aging objects. Peeling paint, rusted door handles, the weather worn patina of Italian marble. Anything that smacks of history fascinates me. I've lost the lust to live in the past though. I like brushing my teeth thank you very much.  And hot baths. And paved streets. But still my art seems to hearken back to a distant era.

This pendant makes me think of a fragment broken off of the shield of one of the Knights Templar while suffering a case of romanticus interruptus (so sad that the lady's father returned too soon). To re create the texture of a newly unearthed artifact I screened thick layers of slip through a decorative template and after it was dry, used my fingernails to chip away the edges. I love the way the perfectly smooth white pearl adds a lustrous contrast to the distressed design.

Wear Frangere alone or layered with a selection of other jewels to pay homage to the queen within you.  Find it in my Etsy shop.

The Answer To My Prayers...

I had the loveliest day yesterday. I drove down to San Diego to see my friend Tonya Davidson who was teaching at Sha Sha - A Bead Spa (what a great name). She had just finished a three day Rio Certification class and was doing a one day all about resin. No metal clay - just all types of resins and mold making. I got there just in time for lunch (how convenient), got to see her teach (I love seeing how other teachers do their thing) and then had a wonderful dinner out afterwards. I'm trying to convince her to come back for a couple days of plain old vacation and fun with girls. Wish me luck.

Sha Sha is usually closed on Mondays, and I had the time to wander through it and look at all the goodies to my heart's content. And what to my wandering eye did appear, but the BEST little box filled with little containers just the right size for.... Jump Rings!!! Louise (the owner) sells the tiny containers separately so you can arrange the storage just the way you want to. I got 11 small, 11 medium and 11 large. There are actually more sizes including one that runs the entire length of the box, but the ones I chose are perfect.

So that's 33 containers. And didn't I fill almost all of them with my hoard of JR's. 32 to be exact. Now, I ask you again... WHY do I own all these jump rings when I hardly ever use them? Some must be 10 years old from my stringing days. There are closed (soldered) ones, split rings, triangle shaped ones... I could open a store myself. And yes, I had many duplicates. I used my calipers to check inner and outer diameters and my B&S wire gauge to check the gauges so I could consolidate them.

Did you know that some manufacturers of jump rings (I don't make my own) label their packets with the inner diameter and some with the outer diameter? So you might order a 4mm jump ring from one source and a 4mm jump ring from another source and get two different sizes entirely! And even though they might say 4mm they might actually be 3.9 or 4.2 or some other funny fraction. Frustrating. But now I have them all organized, labeled and put away and I feel so fancy free and easy! Ha! If she'd had more in stock I'd have gotten some extra's for myself and a few for friends. But no luck. Maybe when she gets more in she'll ship 'em up north. Now I just have to think of what I can put into those other boxes I thought were so great last week.  I'm fickle aren't I?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Body Shots Edition

I love photos of jewelry taken on the body. I'd love to add some to my Etsy shop, but I have no "models" who live close enough for my eclectic shooting schedule (I usually shoot on my bed, in front of a window at 8 in the morning). And I'm not sure a pic of my work on my own body would entice anyone - seeing as how I seem to have acquired more than the usual allotment of chins (when did that happen?).

What do you think? Are you more likely to buy something if you see it worn? Think about it as you're enjoying a loverly weekend.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Come Play With Me!!!

Aw, c'mon. We'll have so much fun. Where else but the PMC Connection Retreat at Arrowmont could you have a week long play date with metal clay! No lectures, no exercise (unless it's self imposed), no one but fabulous teachers telling you what to do. And all in a beautiful getaway camp in the Smokey Mountains of Tennesee. I'll be teaching Little Altars on Monday, April 27 and Technique Sampler Bead on the 28th.

For Little Altars we'll be making an open box form using draping and dry construction techniques.  After it's fired and finished, we'll complete the pendant by setting beads, organic material or found objects in UV resin to tell a personal story. 

The Technique Sampler Bead was designed to give you a really good overview of the wonders of found textures - things you might not have considered using when designing with metal clay, along with the opportunity to learn to set fire in place gems 6 different ways.  Later we'll join our sample tiles together with heavy jump rings to form a unique box pendant.

You can also take the opportunity to become certified, have meals with some of the stars of the metal clay world and just hang out with like minded people for a day or two or the whole week. Hope to meet some of you there.  Be sure to introduce yourselves to me!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Great Deal

I just noticed that Whole Lotta Whimsy has Tammy Powley's book Picture Yourself Creating Metal Clay Jewelry on sale. It's marked down to $22.00 from $29.99! 

I think this is a terrific book, mostly for the encyclopedic information it contains.  Tammy's projects are really simple, but there are guest projects which are more advanced and the pictures are great. There's even an entire section devoted to setting up a studio space with lots of examples from crafters all over the country.

If you're just starting out, this is the book for you!

Got Storage?

All of these cute little boxes are filled with jump rings. Each different. Each labeled with gauge, inner diameter and outer diameter. Some labeled with price per ring, some not.

These are even more baggies of jump rings for which I have no cute boxes. My best guess is that there are duplicates which were purchased from different vendors. I haven't checked yet.

Will someone tell me why I have so many jump rings when I use so few? I used to keep them in the baggies they had been shipped in which were in turn housed in those plastic sleeves designed to hold photo slides, but plastic slides on plastic and they were always falling out - so I'm hoping that keeping each style in it's own box will help to keep them organized.

How do you store all your little components? This is not an idle question. My inquiring mind really does want to know. Has anyone figured out the pi├Ęce de resistance of storage solutions? Share please.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Trash To Treasure...

It took me all day to gild these dang crosses!  But I think they turned out really well.

The only difficulty I had was trying to thread the hemp fiber through the holes.  The base was made from corrugated cardboard which formed a little maze inside. I glued the end of the hemp to stiffen it and that helped some, but it still took about 6-8 tries to get the job done - on each bead! 

You can see some additional process shots here.

Make sure you check out Mike, Rachelle and Alisa to see what they came up with!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Waste Not - Want Not

What this should really mean to me is don't waste time and you won't want more of it. Not that I really *wasted* my art time this week. I had a play date, taught some classes, straightened up my life (which of course must be done to have the energy to create), but I didn't have time to think about this week's One A Week challenge until the weekend. 

For some reason this one by Jeffery Sebelia was only the runner up. But really, how cute is that?

The theme is, indeed, Waste Not - Want Not. In Season 3, Episode 6 the Project Runway designers were taken to a city dump to collect trash and turn it into treasure (along with an extra $25 to spend in an art store).

I wasn't really thrilled with my pendant last week, but am totally into creating some recycled bling. I had a couple of ideas and finally decided upon one which I think will be really cool, but it's taking much longer than I anticipated. I'll definitely be finished by tomorrow. The only hint I'll give you is that 7 year old faux gold leaf sticks to it's protective paper and thus is a big pain in the patooti!