Monday, April 26, 2010

The Power of Tools

I had a really nice day yesterday. Went to the swap meet at Santa Monica Airport and then to the Art Fair in Brentwood. Lots of walking. I think I met my goal for the entire week! Felt good, but so did the hot bath when I got home.

The Brentwood show used to be fabulous. Filled with unique artisan work and home made foodie goodies. But sadly it has gone commercial. There were blow up kiddie slides and finger painting on one end and people wanting to sell you things like insurance, solar heating systems and specialty dog food on the other (not sure about the dog food, but it totally would have fit in). In between there were two long city blocks of vendors. Unfortunately most of the stuff was commercial or imported. But there were some photographers, a furniture maker, clothiers, purse makers and jewelry makers. Lots and lots of beaded jewelry. But a jeweler acquaintance named Jivita Harris-Casey was there and I wanted to stop by her booth and see what's new. She had a full booth, so I only stopped to chat for a minute, but it was nice to see her.

The swap, on the other hand, was fabulous! Soo tempting. I developed a new mantra for it in fact. "Do I need it or do I want it?" which I shortened to "NeedWant". Anytime I was looking at a treasure and mumbled my mantra out loud I got funny looks that turned into slight grins.

I found lots of needs. Little interesting bits and pieces to insert into my reliquary pendants. That's a new name. They're based on the project I created for the Steampunk Master Muse challenge. I scooped up some chandelier drops (some crystal and some plastic), a cigar holder from the thirties (not sure about using that one - still thinking) and some Mother of Pearl knife handles.

And in the want department, I was torn to find that the blue ceramic Buddha head that I saw last month was still there. At $125.00. She said she'd take $100.00 and I decided to walk the entire swap and see if it was still there at the end. After all, this was the third time I saw it. But of course when I wound my way back to her booth - it was gone! Drat! I had seen a seated blue metal Buddha for only $45.oo so I went back there to see if I wanted it. And I did. And I got it. For only $30.00! Score. I'm happy. But the first vendor said that her sister owned the exact same ceramic head and wasn't sure if she still wanted it. So there's still a chance that it will find a way home with me. Maybe. How many blue Buddha's can one have in a 500 sq. ft. apartment?

Then I got home and was so excited about my bits that I put together three pendants then and there! The doll arm (from ebay) was the hardest to finish. It was the only part I got that didn't have a hole in it! So I had to drill one. And the arm was solid ceramic. I made a divot with a diamond ball bit, then switched to a diamond coated twist drill. Working from either side to meet in the middle ensured that the wire would enter and exit exactly where I wanted it to. Then I had to thin down the shoulder so it would fit inside the silver element. A mask, some water and a heatless grinding wheel later and it fit perfectly. So cute!

I haven't finished a bulbous plastic prism ball - not sure about the scale of the silver bit to the ball. What do you think? I might take a trip to the Rosebowl next month to see what there is to be had there. Anyone want to come with me? I haven't been there in years! It's huge and overwhelming, but oh so fun. My mantra will have to be stamped on my forehead though. I'm afraid of all the potential wants that I'll run across.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Weekend Eye Candy - RAD April Edition

I tried. I did my best. But I've dropped out of the Ring A Day challenge. It was too much for me. Not necessarily the time it took to make and photograph some of my rings, but the mental, designing, daydreaming portion.

I really admire all of the participants who have stuck to their guns and will continue making a ring per day until December 31, 2010. Even when they just wrap the napkin from dinner around their fingers and snap the pic with a cell phone - it's an admirable undertaking.

And there is some truly amazing work being done, some stunning photos being taken and some inspiring imagination being sparked. Thanks to everyone! And to Nina for starting the whole thing in the first place.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Catch It If You Can

The title of Andy Cooperman's class was "Imaginative Captures". It dealt with setting things - stones, found objects, buttons, eyeballs etc. in a myriad of ways. I think we're all familiar with Tiffany type prong settings or bezels made with thin strips of flat wire, but Andy showed us new ways of thinking about settings.

Looks a bit like my riveted rings, don't you think?

All settings must "capture" the item being set. Whether you're designing with metal clay, polymer clay, making waxes or fabricating with hard metals. The goal is to "trap" the object at the widest point so that as you (or your clients) travel down the paths of your day, you can rest assured that your jewelry is not only designed beautifully but that it is well conceived and put together securely, ensuring that a treasured heirloom diamond or a brass button from old Uncle Jim's WWI army uniform will be as safe on your finger as it was in it's velvet box.

I can see this as a latch on a tiny treasure box

There are different types of settings everywhere in our world. Look around you and see if there is a mechanical device that you can re design to use in your jewelry. Right now I'm looking out of my window at the curls of barbed wire that surround the garbage bin (why my property managers felt the need to protect our trash I don't know). Could I use that type of spiked coil to surround a vintage enamel that I want to set into an antique drawer pull? Once soldered (or brazed) to the base, could the spikes act as prongs or small tabs and be pushed over the girdle of the element?

Turn it sideways and see an elegant bail? I do.

Carry that thought further out. Hinges on doors are the same design as a hinge on a locket. Perhaps the handle to the garage door can be utilized as a bail. Look around you as you walk down the sidewalk or take a ride in a lovely old elevator. What do you see that can be co- opted, miniaturized and made to function as a finding? I just thought of the way the knob on my oven is connected to the mechanism that makes the heat turn on. A solid cylinder with one straight side corresponds with and slides into a hollow tube with a similarly shaped flat edge. That might make a very interesting component in the lid of a box. Perhaps the lid is actually a ring and the oven knob connector hides the secret. I'll have to do more thinking on that one.

Maybe an element on the Master's Registry Sleeve Pendant?

All of the captures that illustrate this post were seen on my morning walk. They were always there, I just never took the time to notice them. This morning I was more mindful of my surroundings and there were jewelry designs all around me!

I see this surrounding a little bundle of freshwater pearl sticks or the screws from my foot operation! What do you see?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Simply Captivating

Not sure I'll be able to communicate just how wonderful my three day class with Andy Cooperman was. Needless to say I learned so much, met some really lovely people, had a grand time rooming with Tonya and came away with a new thought process.

Those of you who know me well will not be surprised to learn that I didn't complete my project. I almost never do in a class. My focus is all on the teacher and the techniques being taught. I'm not good at creating on the fly and have not always been pleased with my finished work in past workshops and classes so making something wearable is no longer a goal of mine. There's something to be said for hands on experimentation with a knowledgeable pro nearby to guide you - but experimenting with the parts doesn't mean you have to complete the whole.

Because I wanted to concentrate on individual tasks I used bits and pieces that I had floating around in my toolbox. And therein lies the crux of the problem. I had a piece of intricately pierced nickel silver made 5-ish years ago in my very first ever hard metals class, a commercially die punched 4 leaf clover shape that I bought at a hobby shop to practice enameling on, and a little square of copper sheet that I did actually pierce in class to complete the design.

After texturing as much as I was willing to spend time doing and dapping the eye lid (great technique that you'll have to learn when you take your own class with Mr. Cooperman) I wasn't pleased with the way all of the odds and ends came together. Especially the die cut clover. The edges of that element are rounded off in a way that makes the piece really *look* manufactured. It was out of place. And the pierced edges of the nickel bit didn't add anything to the narrative I was trying to tell. And since everything was so thoughtlessly thrown together, even *I* didn't want to know the end of the story!

Then I decided to try to use just the nickel and cut an eyehole and dapped the lid in that. Better, but still not a winner. I hated the copper backing piece and just decided that I'd learned enough and put my tools away. By Sunday when Andy showed us a great way to tube set a faceted stone by using a flex shaft in an unusual way, I had lost all my creative juju. But that's okay.

There were hours of tips, explanations and brainstorming with all of us worshiping at the Master's knees (we were all sitting down - so never got a glimpse of his feet). There were demonstrations using giant hand carved wooden burs, the transformation of a flux container's lid to indicate the edge of a bezel and just where to place a burnisher to complete a setting and fun and games with a torch that simply would NOT be lit! Nice to know that even folks with 30 years of experience can have trouble with ordinary tasks.

(It's my birthday in November you know)

(Not even in my dreams)

Not sure what he's named this one, but it's made with an unusual hollow mollusk shell, sometimes referred to as a "Tusk".

There was a six foot table covered with samples (most of which I wanted to abscond with) and a breathtaking array of finished work to tempt our checkbooks. I was able to see pieces that I've seen in magazines and books. Tried some on, daydreamed for a bit, wondered what happens *after* the property management sends the 3 day notice to quit if you still don't pay your rent, sighed and snapped back to reality.

I'd take the exact same class again and I know I'd learn even more. I have an idea on how to salvage the eye brooch and will try to work on it this week.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Weekend Eye Candy - Andy Cooperman Edition ?

I'm taking a class with Andy Cooperman this weekend in San Diego. You may remember his name from this post. Tonya Davidson will be there too and I get to see an old friend from the Bead Company who's visiting her Mom there.

Andy Cooperman

One of the projects is to set a real glass eye somehow. The mask in position 7 is an example from Flickr of something (someone I don't know) made in a similar class. Can't wait to see what I come up with!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Aspire to Inspire

I've been cleaning up (again) all morning. I find it very hard to motivate myself to do anything when I'm tripping over shipping boxes, sliding on bubble wrap and hunting for the last clean cup in the house. I was beginning to feel like one of those hoarding shows on cable tv. Slippery slope my friends, slippery slope.

Badges by Amy Tavern

With that done I started on my materials list for my Master Muse project and in between (I sometimes have a short attention span) I started looking through Amy Tavern's Flicker stream and was then moved to take a hop to her blog.

She wrote an interesting post about her morning ritual. It only takes an hour and starts her morning off perfectly. I'm just lousy at starting new habits. I've tried morning pages, walks, no news - just music... nothing sticks for very long. But I really like her 15 minute progressions and think I might just give it a go. For a while. : \ Here's a snippet to whet your imagination:

"Every morning I get up early and spend on hour doing a mix of reading, writing and thinking. I break up the hour into 4 sections of 15 minutes each. For the first 15 I read from various books on mindfulness; next I meditate, followed by some automatic writing about my work or studio practice and then I finish by reading a book about jewelry."

Sounds simple enough, good for my lack of sticktoitiveness and might help to congeal some thoughts that have been flitting around my creative cortex. I might extend the hour to include the time to walk to the local cafe for a cup of Chai Latte. So, a few minutes of reading from one of my many self help/spiritual books (Eat, Pray Love for instance); 10 minutes of meditation and 5 of writing; morning walk for the hot brewed yumminess and 15 minutes of self indulgent jewelry exploration. All of this after my daily feline love fest of course.

I have an entire bookcase filled with jewelry books. Many of which I looked through when I got them, but which I haven't cracked since. I think I'll start with the Penland book.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Friends in High Places

First off, I had a terrific weekend with my Level One certification students. They were all really talented and creative and lots of fun was had by all! Can't wait until the Level Two in July!

Then I was looking through the May issue of Art Jewelry Magazine and realized that I knew way too many featured artists! It was so cool to see work by people I know, read articles by teachers I've had classes with and see cyber and real life friends celebrated so publicly.

Whole Lotta Whimsy has a beautiful ad on page 9 featuring work by three Master Muses. Aren't the new graphics beautiful?

The wonderful workshops at Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery in England are featured in the news and announcements, complete with a photo by Julia Rai - the first artist to achieve Level 3 in the metal clay Master's Registry.

Chris Darway wrote a great tutorial on tool modification that starts on page 25. I took a class with him at Rio Grande a few years ago experimenting with window glass and metal clay. Too much fun.

Michael David Sturlin tells us (almost) everything we ever wanted to know about the intricacies of pliers. His favorite pair are made by Alan Revere! I didn't even know that Alan (whom I don't know, so why do I call him by his first name?) had a line of pliers. Terrific information Michael. Thanks. I took a class on chain making with Michael through the Metal Arts Society of Southern California that was so fun!

There's a gorgeous feature interview with master enamelist Amy Roper Lyons, who I don't know either in person or online, but I loooove her work so much and was excited to learn a bit more about her.

Miss Maggie Bergman's fantbulous "Brunswick Bracelet" is in the gallery section. Not only is Maggie a dear friend (although it's hard to get together for tea much since she lives in Australia), but I've seen this gorgeous silver architecture in person. Wowzga!

Colleen Baran is a cyber "friend" that I know from Flickr and Facebook. She's also playing along in the Ring a Day challenge and her "Cloud Ring #2" which is actually a 10 band set is also highlighted in the gallery.

And most amazingly Lynnette Andreason's unbelievable hand stitched, pierced and etched platter called "Defining Moments" is on the last page! Such an honor. Lynette just got her Master's Degree from Arizona State University. Her thesis show, Invented Heirlooms was spectacular (although I only got to see a bit of it online) and I'm happily awaiting two pieces from the Spoon series.

I'm really so tickled that I recognize so many of the names in this particular issue. It really makes me realize how the internet has made art and artists so accessible. From Great Britain to Australia, and Arizona to Pennsylvania - the world is getting smaller every day. And we're all a part of it. Gotta love it!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Weekend Eye Candy -Faux Bone Edition

There is some amazing work being done in Faux Bone these days. Some of these designs are old friends and some were new to me. I'm in love with Shane Case's ring (on the hand)! Wish I'd thought of it. ;D

Monday, April 5, 2010

Jewelry Manifesto

Most amazing 5 minutes you'll ever spend.

From the fantastic maker of these.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Call For Entry!

As if I didn't have enough to do, I'm thinking about self publishing an A-Z book of metal clay related terms and words. A recent discussion in the Etsy MetalClay team's yahoo page about trying to explain metal clay to customers got me started thinking that a bit of explanation in depth might be welcome in the community at large. I'm not sure whether there will be one or two terms per letter, but definitely not more than that.

To illustrate it and add a bit of visual interest, I'd like to ask for photos of letters done in metal clay. They can be made with PPP's tearaways, etched, stamped (please make sure they are copyright free), pierced, formed with coils of clay - anything your imagination can dream up. One letter per image. If you make small alphabet charms as part of your regular work, feel free to have a shot of multiples - a little collection of the letter A's spilling out of a salt dish for example.

Photos must be clear, may be styled like an Etsy shot (not overly fussy please) or as a professional submission photo. Only one letter each will be chosen. So out of all possible submissions I'll only use 26! Perhaps I'll use alternates on the front and back covers, but I'm not promising.

I'm only sending this call to the Etsy Team, my local Guild (and it's readers), my blog and my FB page. Please do NOT re post this on the Yahoo Group or any other site. The deadline is May 28. You may submit as many letters as you like or only one spectacular example.

Please send 300 dpi images that are at least 4x3" (although they can be larger) to my e-mail at LoraHartJewels (@) Earthlink (dot) net. I may crop them to better fit in the drop and drag program that I'm using.

I'm hoping to have this finished and ready for publication by the Conference at Purdue this July! I'd love to bring some with me.

Thanks. Hope to see some pretty things from some of you.