Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Unintended Jewelry Edition

Shapes, silhouettes, and variations in depth and color, when boiled down to their basest forms can be wonderful inspiration for jewelry designs. Squint your eyes to a soft focus and see if you notice unintended jewelry in these images. I see brooches and pendants galore!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Call of the Goth

I got an email newsletter the other day from SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmith's). A call for entries has been put out for the 2012 issue of their fabulous 'Exhibition in Print'. I totally missed the September 16 deadline for the Saul Bell, so I think I might try my handiwork in this one.

American Gothic by Grant Wood
I have no illusions that I'll make it into the issue, but submitting is a huge challenge in and of itself, and I feel a need to rock my own world. I've been working on my e-book for a few months, perfecting the Mentorial model, trying to be a good Artistic Advisor for the PMCC blog, and teaching the wonderfully talented students in L.A. Do you see making pretty things in that list anywhere? No? Me neither. I'm feelin' the old artist's ennui. I really do think that the kind of creativity you access while working with your hands is like a muscle. Use it or lose it.

Thankfully, it's relatively easy to get back on the artful pommel horse. I need to make a few "things to torch fire" for the Metal Arts Society of Southern California's (MASSC) Demo Day, which is on Saturday (I'll be introducing metal clay to traditional fabricators). That should be easy. Then maybe I'll do a sample of the two part project my 8 week class will be tackling in a couple of weeks. Maybe I'll spend a couple of hours making a stock of teensy granulation balls and bails to set aside for future projects. Baby steps. Things I feel comfortable with. After all, you wouldn't run a marathon after a year on the beach.

The theme of the 2012 exhibition is gothic jewelry. Now that *does* seem like a challenge. The first step for me will be to decide what I think gothic means in relation to my style of work. The first images that come to mind are steampunk cogs and wheels, dark make-up, Charles Addams art, and a general doom and gloom atmosphere. None of which are my aesthetic. But, gothic also refers to medieval art and architecture as well as the Victorian revival of those designs. Which *are* right up my alley.

I have a while to think it out, come up with a few designs, and narrow my focus of the theme. The deadline is February 1, 2012. I'd love some input from you, dear readers. I know you have some ideas of what 'gothic' means to you. Share?

Monday, September 19, 2011

What Does 'Fresh' Mean to You?

I belong to an organization called SNAG (The Society of North American Goldsmiths). Every year SNAG devotes an entire issue of their self-published magazine, Metalsmith, to an ‘Exhibition in Print’.

The work included is always contemporary, avante garde, and thought provoking. I usually spend an entire afternoon devouring its contents – first pouring over the amazing images (more than once) and later skimming through the forward by the editor. I may even move to the computer to search for more information about the jewelry makers whose work particularly speaks to me.

I was so thrilled to see a Flickr friend's work
(which I have seen in person) on the cover!
Congratulations Amy Tavern.

This year for some reason, I started with the text. The interview with jurors Cindi Strauss and Lola Brooks was particularly enlightening. The theme for this year’s exhibition was the term “Fresh”. That’s it. No definition, no guidelines. The artist’s were free to come up with their own interpretation and submit photos of work that they believed fit the category.

A single word can be understood in infinite ways. Just check the dictionary or Thesaurus. And it seems that the lack of a significant description may have impacted both the entrants and the exhibit. Because, as it happens, the jurors did have a specific idea of what “Fresh” meant to them. Out of 433 entrants, only 30 were included in the show.

Reading the interview really crystallized the fact that acceptance in juried craft shows, gallery exhibitions and other opportunities is purely subjective. As a juror for the 2010 volume of the PMC Guild Annual, I was aware that I brought my personal agenda regarding craftsmanship, subject matter and originality to the judging table. As an artist responding to calls for entry, I know that the results of my submissions rest on any number of criteria, the least of which may be my work.

Strauss and Brooks noted that the show was judged blind. Meaning that they looked only at the work, and didn’t learn artists’ names until the exhibition was set. They also mentioned that they didn’t take resumes, bio’s or artist statements into consideration. What? Artist statements? I’ve never included any of that information in a submission! And now I wonder if that lack has played a part in a disappointing outcome.

have included a short statement about a particular piece occasionally. Something I thought of after noticing a quote printed next to a photo in one of the Lark 500 books. What has the world of academia trained graduate students to consider that those of us who are self taught might never have thought of?

As it happens, the “Fresh” exhibition is as fascinating, entertaining and inspirational as ever. I only wish I could see some of the work that wasn't accepted into the exhibition. I'm pretty sure that my standards aren't quite as stringent as the jurors. I bet there was some amazing work that ended up on the cutting room floor.

I love the idea of using a single word to inform a piece of jewelry. Whether it’s for a play date with friends, participation in an online challenge like Ring a Week, or an actual submission to MCAM or the CornerStone Challenge (to name a few), why not let serendipity be your muse? Get a real, paper, dictionary; flip to an arbitrary page; close your eyes; and let your finger land on a word that you’ll use as a jumping off point for creativity. But first you may want to go to your local bookstore to find the print version of Metalsmith or join SNAG to have one delivered right to your door. I assure you, it will open a world of possibilities!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ode To a Plastic Bag

Oh, little zip lock plastic bags that seem to appear from nowhere and multiply like slippery, see-though, bunnies...
Thank you for keeping my teeny tiny purchases safe, separated, and categorized.
I love your reusable super powers.
My stock of found and purchased bits and pieces would be only a jumbled mess without your transparent glamour.
My bench top would be fraught with chaos and confusion if not for your multi-sized sorting services.
My love of organization would, indeed, be nothing without you.

But now it is time for us to part ways.
Forgive me for my thoughtless disregard of your containment abilities and your recyclable eco-friendly resourcefulness.
It is with angst, and not a little bit of wistful longing, that I consign you to the large metal dumpster in the parking lot - never to be used in a resourceful way again.

I realize now, in the early stages of my clutter clearing moving prep, that I have held on to the fantasy of your usefulness, rather than acknowledge the practical storage capacity of my limited studio space, for far too long.
Never again will my fingernails split while pressing your zippy strip closed, or while trying to pry your double layered super strength pocket open.
My heart is heavy, but my brown paper bag from Whole Foods is full. Full of the memory of your support, the knowledge that you were always there when I needed you and the hope that one day you will invade my life again (albeit in a less extreme manner).

Fare thee well, my zip-locked friends. Go on to astonish many, many, many future generations after being discovered in your earthly trash dump time capsule, thousands of years from now. I hope they love and appreciate you as much as I did.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Curriculum Vitae

The Latin words for resumé. I spent all of Saturday and part of this morning updating mine. I'll be moving to Richmond, Virginia next year and wanted to get a head start on finding work. Metal Clay teaching work, that is.

In Los Angeles I teach at two jr. colleges and one art college, and I'd like to find the same type of arrangement in Richmond. I like working at locations other than a home studio for a couple of reasons. The venue usually already has a supply of eager students to draw from, and they carry insurance in case of mishaps. I've thought about finding a big enough space to do classes from a home base of some sort and might try to rent a studio once I get settled. The bonus of that set up is not having to lug all my supplies and equipment (including the kiln) to the classroom.

Updating my CV was actually a great exercise. Seeing all of my jewelry related achievements in print, on one piece of paper was very affirming. One might even say ego boosting! Reading over the previous version, compiled in 2009, reminded me of many activities I'd forgotten about. Adding new information pushed me to consider what I've accomplished in the past two years. I wonder if I've forgotten anything...

Writing an artistic resume would be a great process to go through even if you're not looking for employment. If you're not a teacher, haven't been published, or don't have any other public accolades to include - think of all the times you've taken a class, made a submission, participated in a challenge or completed a particular project. Use the traditional resume format to create a synopsis of your successes, detail every time you put yourself on the line, list all the skills you've mastered, celebrate all of your creative accomplishments. Print a work history for your eyes only. And take pride in your achievements.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Hammered Edition

Weekend Eye Candy - Hammered Edition by lorahart
1. Hammered Silver Bracelet, 2. Blue lotus with gold, 3. Fold-Formed Cuffs, 4. Sparrow_09, 5. Hammered Silver Loop, 6. Fool Spring Bracelet no2. (2009, IT) Bracelet 11.4, 7. Texture hammer improoved, 8. forged copper links necklace, another view, 9. Ring of Thorns

"Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pretty Skully's

A student dropped off these fabulous Day of the Dead skull charms this morning for firing and I just had to share. Each is hand sanded to perfection and each has a unique design decorating its tiny face.

The only problem I have, is deciding which one will not be returning home with her tomorrow afternoon! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Combating Artist's Block

A FaceBook friend messaged me the other day. She was having a problem that plagues every artist I've ever heard of. She said her creative motivation was on an extended sabbatical and wanted to know if I had any suggestions. I did, and thought I'd share them with you to file away for future artistic ennui.

Sir Isaac Newton of apple bopping head fame discovered the physical law (which I am reminded of almost daily, thanks to a current television commercial) that states 'an object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest maintains it's slothful position unless impacted by an outside source'. Or something like that.

\sum \mathbf{F} = 0 \Rightarrow \frac{d \mathbf{v} }{dt} = 0.

What this means to artists is that the longer you allow 'writer's block' to have it's way, the more your creativity will hide in the dark corners of your brain and refuse to come out and play when you ask it to. You have to take an active role in convincing your imagination to return to the studio. Another advertiser shares the secret to success.
Okay. Sometimes it's not as easy as that. But to shift the status quo, you have to shake things up. Some other smart person said that the definition of insanity is "doing the same things over and over, and expecting a different result".

• Rearrange your studio or change the location of your work space.
• Take it outside. A computer or sketchbook works just as well at a cyber cafe or a bench at the park as it does in your house.
• Have a play date with some friends. Crafting with others is sure to get those creative juices flowing. 
• Take a class in another medium. The more techniques you have to draw on, the richer your work will be.
• Use low cost materials. Sometimes the expense of materials is enough to scare away our willingness to experiment. Go to the craft store and look for supplies that mimic your chosen art.
• Sit in your studio and make components. In the case of jewelry, create a supply of bails, granulation balls, molded elements, or new textures. Making anything will invite the muses to return.
• Take part in a challenge. Let another source give you some ground rules to follow and then use your own voice to create something that you might not have thought of otherwise.

The important thing is not to let it go too long. Get back on the horse, don't let the b*&stards get you down, show ennui who's boss! If you just can't shake it, get your potassium levels checked. There may be a physical reason for your malaise.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Found Objects Edition

PMC Connection is partnering with Metal Clay Artist Magazine in a fantastic jewelry design contest. And CornerStone blog is getting the ball rolling and the inspiration bubbling with their own challenge.
Here's a little weekend stimulus package to spark your imagination and tickle your creative impulses. have a great holiday weekend y'all!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Have a Good Day at the Office!"

I'm so excited! I've finally found the perfect office space. Somewhere I can write and blog and do research without the adorable interruption of the fur babies. And the rent is remarkably reasonable. I only pay for it when I use it. About $2.00 per hour! Such a deal. Actually I have two new offices. One of them is better for really getting things done, and the other is better for cyber surfing. I bet you have the same office space available in your home town too.

They're two local cafe's that I've been going to for years. I live in under 500 square feet. Since I work for myself, unless I'm teaching, I'm at home. In my studio working on jewelry projects, at the desk writing my book, goofing off... er... re-charging my imagination on the couch, eating dinner - all in the same room. Sometimes I feel like I'm in prison. A nice prison, but still.

So a couple of months ago I got the bright idea to stuff my computer into my oversized bag and head out the door. I can walk down the street to the cafe without wi-fi if I just need to use Word and don't want any distractions, or drive to the cyber cafe if I need to add surfing capabilities. The only thing I have to pay for is coffee, a nosh and parking.

I tend to leave the power cord at home, because I think it would be rude to stay longer than the three hours of battery time. And after three hours I want a break anyway.

Last weekend I was a bit obsessed. I went to the cyber cafe for 2 hours, then to Peet's Coffee (where they have wi-fi as well) to meet a friend and stayed another hour, then drove to the beach and sat at the cement tables. All working on the computer! Finally I gave myself a break and went down to the ocean for a reward.

I love my new offices. I can't think of a better place to really buckle down and get work done.