Nests: the Art Elements themed challenge reveal

Happy Spring!

Welcome to the first in our monthly themed challenges! (We have had these seasonally occurring in the past, but have recently switched to all themes, every month. ) Cathy stars us off with the theme: Nests. Her original post was filled with inspiration for jewelry, fibers, all sorts of mediums.

I knew exactly what I wanted to do… ever since this tutorial was released at Sarafina Fiber Arts, I have been thinking of nests. The timing was perfect for Spring and this challenge – and I do so love the colors and textures of the curly dyed sheep’s locks! ( Not to mention I work there part time, and find all the products, colors, textures very inspiring!

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The first one – a little wild and unruly. 

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Natural colors, mostly… and a scrap of suede.

Sara of Sarafina Fiber Arts shares her tutorials on You tube – you can find the nest tutorial here. When I first saw the nest samples I wanted to fill them with earthy polymer goddesses. So I did:

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This is what I originally imagined. 

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Under the sea

My stash of curly locks *may* lean heavily to greens, teals, and earthy forest colors – but that works well for an underwater themed nest too.

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The river rock balances out the coral as it was a bit heavy. 

And any color works – I made a candy fluff Easter nest for my Mom – including 3 polymer  eggs! This was great fun to do – and I have other nest ideas for my art journal that I just didn’t get completed in time.

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One of these things is not like the others….

Please join us on the blog hop today and see what my talented team mates and out guests have created. 

Happy Spring! 

Guest Participants-

Alysen

Anita

Divya

Kathy

Kym

Mona

Rosantia

Sarajo

Tammy

AE team members-

Caroline

Cathy

Claire

Jenny (you are here)

Laney

Leslie

Lindsay

Marsha

Niky

The Art Elements Rune reveal

Welcome to our last official COM here at Art Elements! Starting next month we are moving to monthly themed challenges. We felt this was expanding the option, invigorating out creativity and opening the door to so many mediums!

This final COM is stunning metal clay runes made by Niky Sayers. I had the good fortune of meeting Niky in London and receiving mine personally!

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Niky’s runes are cast from her own hand made personal set, and based on the Elder Futhark. These symbols were originally carved in wood and stone, and their straight lines reflect that context. Elder Futhark was a runic alphabet used by Norse and Germanic peoples from approximately the 2nd – 8th centuries. ( styles changed, runes evolved, and continued to be used….) Runes are recorded in sources such as the Poetic Edda as being used for inscriptions and talismans.

In the 1980’s Ralph Blum published and popularized the runes as a system of divination. I have long been a fan of Tarot cards, as an inspirational and oracular device. But runes were never my go to, and I enjoyed this chance to start working with them.

The first rune I selected to work with is URUZ, meaning “aurochs”. It’s traditional meaning is “Physical strength and speed, untamed potential. A time of great energy and health. Freedom, energy, action, courage, strength, tenacity, understanding, wisdom. Sudden or unexpected changes…” Immediately I saw a Phoenix, as working with the runes coincided with a New Moon journal spread I was planning. ( And yes – this means I still have this actual rune to use in a piece of jewelry!)

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The dark moon was done in watercolor pencils and crayons. I wanted to leave a hint of a triple spiral there in purples and black. The Phoenix was drawn in pencil and inked with fine marker. The color was very satisfying to do- many layers and colors blended using Derwent watercolor pencils.

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I was a bit disappointed with the background. I used a student grade liquid watercolor and it feels a little flat, a little blah to me. Such is the nature of an art journal: experimentation, risks, and play.

The second rune I selected was EHWAZ, meaning horse. It’s traditional meaning is: movement/ progress, steady progress, transit and transition. When thinking “horse” I immediately think of the Uffington chalk figure, and I was seeing landscapes in my mind’s eye from my recent trip to visit Lesley in Dorset. This idea evolved quite naturally, involving polymer and felt…

I wet felted two abstracted landscapes in a palette of greens:

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The rune will be affixed to the frame at center top. The felted tapestry inside, and an image of the Uffington horse to float above, suspended on fine gauge copper chain.

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This is the work in progress so far – I am seeing a few changes I want to make. I want to create another felt tapestry and play up the copper color from the rune itself. I think I will add a thin layer of white acrylic paint on the frame, a white wash of a sort, to lighten the piece. And yes – that is a rogue hair from my paintbrush. Oops. I am happy with my overall design plan – but need to tweak the palette a little. What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts…

And I look forward to seeing the creations from my team mates and our guests this month:

Guests:

Kelly Rodgers

Deb Fortin

Art Element Members:

Laney Mead

Lesley Watt

Caroline Dewison

Jenny Davies-Reazor

Susan Kennedy

Cathy Spivey Mendola

Jennifer Stout Cameron

Claire Fabian

Lindsay M Starr

Niky Sayers

Magic on the Streets of London…

(OK – now I have the Smiths song stuck in my head… )

Part 2 of the trip! 

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? Its magic… When Lesley and I realized that my visit would coincide with the Harry Potter: History of Magic exhibit at the British Library… well, you can guess the rest. What REALLY made this day magical was who joined us there!

We took the train from Bournemouth and had a lovely scenic ride through he New Forest and into London. Arriving at Waterloo and then heading to Euston by Tube – I was thrilled to see 2 of the 270 enameled labyrinths! This public art project was the creation of Mark Wallinger. In 2013, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Tube, 270 unique labyrinths were designed and installed. One in every Tube station. The signs aren’t labeled in any way, and were enabled by the same company that created the iconic London Underground signage. The video about the project is outstanding!

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Newton in Bronze by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi

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St Pancras station – next door. And no, we did not go on to Kings Cross platform 9 3/4.

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Exhibition poster: Fawkes bu artist Jim Kay

So this was a momentous occasion! I got to meet all of my team mates from the Art Elements blog! The whole UK contingent! I have to say – it was so exciting, so energetic, and yet so familiar. I have known and worked with these creative talented women for years. I treasure these friendships! And while we were meeting in person for the first time, it felt like old friends getting reacquainted!

 

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The UK team! And me! All together none place! ( From top left: Lesley Watt, Caroline Dewison, Laney Mead, Niky Sayers, me. ) 

The British Library? Heavens. I cant even find the words. We toured their exhibit first. The Magna Carta. Original Shakespeare. The Lindisfarne Gospels. Beatles lyrics scrawled in pencil on old greeting cards. Medieval girdle books. Simple awe inspiring. I was incredulous.

Then we went to the HP exhibit. ( No photographs, naturally). What a beautifully curated exhibit! Arranged in groups, mirroring the subjects at Hogwarts, the items displayed ranged from Medieval pieces from the BL collection, to handwritten notes and sketches from JK Rowling, to new illustrations by artist Jim Kay. There were also pieces from the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, Cornwall. ( Drawings below from an interactive piece at the end of exhibit)

Heading home – bag filled with treasures, gifts and more than a few books…. Mendel and Malachi were rather mischievous. ( Crocheted mandrakes by Caroline!)

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And hijinks continued as I worked on my travel journal the next day…

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You can read more about my travel journal over at Art Elements. There is a nice sense of spontaneity and memory-making that I get from creating a travel collage/art journal in real time. With found papers, and a little Googling…

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Me – I am back in the studio sculpting cauldrons that Snape might even sneer fondly over… There will be a whole new series of Mythic tiles this year. Magical creatures, witches, wizards, alchemy, and the like!

Stay tuned for part three of the trip coming soon!

Delighted in Dorset…

Part 1 of 3.

This  January I spent a magical week in and around Dorset visiting my friend Lesley Watt. 

If you know me or are familiar with my work, you may be aware of the currents of magic, myth and folklore that run through all I do… So this trip was part vacation, part art retreat, part creative interlude. It was restorative, invigorating, inspiring, and immensely fulfilling. The creative seeds planted this one week will grow all year…

But for now – let me share a few ( or many!) images with you.

The village of Burley IN the New Forest. ( Day 1)

The New Forest was established in 1079 by William The Conqueror. ( Yes, THAT William the Conquerer.) In villages throughout the NF, “Commoners” or residents hold the same rights to access/grazing/resources as their early Medieval predecessors. The New Forest ponies roam free, and are loosely managed by the “verderers”. The town of Burley has numerous ties to witches in history, namely Sibyl Leek and Gerald Gardner…

The New Forest itself – with its history, landscape, biodiversity… has captured my imagination. I have been starting to read up and work with images inspired by the Celtic Tree alphabet – so this dovetails in rather nicely. Although I was there in Winter, the gorse and broom were blooming. The ponies were wearing their shaggy coats – and as you see a gorgeous blue sky appeared.

Corfe Castle. ( Day 2) 

Again – Norman in historical time period. ( I DO like OLD stuff.) Begun by William the Conqueror in 1090; finished by his son Henri I in the early 1100’s. These majestic ruins command the skyline, and its placement as a fortress is evident!

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Im sure there are sprites and pixies living in that tree.

The gentle hike up to the castle and the village was like walking into a fairyland. So much free, mosses and lichens, a stream cascading… And you arrive in Corfe Castle village.

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Rather timeless when cars aren’t pictured…

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The ruins are not overly protected. Visitors are trusted to act and tread carefully. I was enamored with all the unobstructed views.

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There are currently ravens nesting high up in the tower wall. And a flock of jackdaws kept us company.

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This. As lino print. As weaving. As ceramic tile. This!

Then a fabulous lunch… and one more historical marker.

This made me chuckle, incredulous. This stone marks the millennium of a regicide. And even that was 40 years ago!

We left Corfe Castle – and drove back towards Bournemouth via the Isle of Purbeck and Studland Bay. ( Isle of Purbeck as in Purbeck stone of which Corfe Castle is built.) Weather was cooperating – so we did a little beach combing on Knoll beach… I could see white chalk cliffs and even the Isle of Wight in the distance.

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Time to head home after a stunning inspiring day. Then THIS happened:

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That late afternoon light!

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Again – so much inspiration here!

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Greens in January made me so happy.

The third day was a day spent at home, in the studio! Sketching, collaging, and working on my travel journal. ( Stay tuned for that.) Then to the pub for a proper Sunday dinner. A cute pup, a delicious Dorset cider, and Yorkshire pudding ( not pictured.)

Stay tuned for the next installment that includes magic, alchemy, camaraderie, and more!

 

 

The annual “Use your Stash” challenge at Art Elements!

January. Wow. Come and gone… I spent some quiet time off work, reviewing, planning… and I had a most magical vacation! ( Details coming soon – here! Stay tuned…) And I dove into the hoard of beads to use a few treasures from my stash. For a few years running we  have designated January “Use your stash” month at Art Elements blog. When you are part of such a generous creative team – the bead hoard grows. Here is what I started… and actually finished:

There were plans for many bezel and tab set pieces. They are sitting in the top right, quietly awaiting time with saw and torch. The Wire framed pieces will emerge first – frames of wrapped wire, with crystal dangles… The hare beads are by our Caroline. The fox – Heather Powers of Humblebeads.

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Every day talisman. Ceramic eye by Karen Totten

I decided to use some of the focal I had been saving as brackets for myself. I like to accessorize my FitBit – which I wear daily. I do utilize certain stones for their properties…   Hematite is used for grounding, for staying centered and stable, rooted to the Earth. Paired with an eye talisman bead of Karen’s – this feels very powerful to me. Stay centered – on the self – on the journey…

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Jen’s harlequin bead

This lampwork stunner is by Jen Cameron. I call is a harlequin as it reminds me of a jester’s motley. The colors are gorgeous. I wanted this to be something I could wear and enjoy!

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Blast from Diana’s past!

When I pair brackets with my Fitbit – I often stack a few on together. This paisley bracelet  bar of Diana’s was so earthy, and lovely as is… so it is partnered with deerskin lace in a triple wrap. Done. Soft, and fun to wear.

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Heart and stone – with cab by Sue Kennedy

So there hasn’t been much  seed beading this month – but I had two pieces planned that I was able to make progress… Sue is my go-to artist for small cabs to pair with other things. And although they are small – they re gorgeous. Above is a stone heart, and below? Its a whole world in glass! A miniature planet… that I have paired with river rock. The above is a pendant… not sure where the bottom piece is taking me…

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Glass planets, deep and blue!

And one more – an experimental piece.

I am always playing with ways to incorporate seed bead work and metal – happiest when I am truly doing mixed media. So here are some explorations of stitched wire frameworks incorporated into the bead embroidery.

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Mandala design with cab by Lesley.

I think this will give me options for the necklace portion, to wire wrap and keep a cohesive appearance. And I liked how the wire framework accentuated the mandala 5 petal design. Thats how the idea came to be – from the cab itself.

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Wire frame stitched in…

Please join the AE team and our guests this month – see what they have unearthed from their stash to start this year off creatively!

 

Goals for the Year…

( This post was originally published on Art Elements blog)

Hello all – I hope your 2018 dawn broke in whatever fashion you desired! We went out to a concert on New Year’s Eve Eve with friends and had a blast. On the last day of 2017 I got a good nights sleep and rang in the morning with coffee, and lots of it. Then I proceeded to start cleaning the studio. Did you see Niky’s post this week? I can SO relate to that…

So studio is being reclaimed. Organizing, decluttering, displaying treasures to free up space on my work table. Now I want to look forwards. 2017 was a year I was happy to say goodbye to… aside from the greater world situation/trauma/news/horror I had some personal challenges, and family issues that were , well – upheavals.

I have a renewed sense of “Live life to the fullest” and as such sat down to make a top 10 list for the year: 

My “Birch” page as I study the Celtic tree calendar.

1. Jump start my art journal practice. This is a project I an renewing this year for the third in a row. Last year I made it halfway through the year, before stress derailed me. And that was an improvement from the prior year! Im working large, IMO, in a 11 x 14″ spiral bound mixed media sketchbook. There will be watercolor, collage, drawing… whatever I want! This is a practice for me alone, and while I may share some spreads on my IG, I can play and be messy, and do art therapy, and no one needs to see. Im taking a yearlong class called Moonshine with Effy Wild ( of Journal52 and Life Book) and so far love the themes and prompts presented.

so many books!

2.Read. In the last few years of living this creative entrepreneur’s life, my reading levels have plummeted. I work all day in the studio, at my part time job, in the “work” ceramics studio… and only read after i crawl in bed. Yeah, < laughs> that doesn’t work out so well. I have a growing pile of mythology, women studies, fairy tale analysis, art and technique books which ARE work related. So I CAN read during the work hours….

3. Play. This past year I was stuck in a rut of production. I started the year strong, and spent the summer and fall making new work just in time for the next show. Needless to say, I didn’t have the time to try new things, to play, to experiment. And I felt stagnant creatively. This year I am working part time at the fabulous Sarafina Fiber Arts “Art House“. The environment and the product are very conducive to creativity. I want to felt and bead and sculpt. I want to try polymer mosaics. I want to do larger tile pieces. I want to do another series of goddess figures… See?

4. Planners and mindfulness – Yes this one seems to not go together… I treated myself to the Desire Map planner by Danielle LaPorte. Part daily planner, part woo woo, part daily positive affirmations. Filling out a day’s page in the morning over coffee keeps me organized, yes. But mindful as well. And reminds me to take care of myself…

5.Health and happiness. This one really needs no explanation. As I mentioned earlier – family health issues. Health is prioritized! Mental health, meditation or the like, down time. Hydration! Healthy eating. I am trying to shift my mindset of preparing dinner from a chore, to a mindful daily ritual. Think good music, and bocking the time in so I am not so rushed.

Mythical creatures! Witchy cauldrons!

6. Overhaul my tile inventory. As in retire old designs! Design new tiles! And sketch them… I have a few molds that are worn out and need to be done. I have SO many tile designs in my head – I am trying to get them on paper and start sculpting! My first arts festival of the year is in May – and I want to debut mythical creatures. As always I will have mythic themes, gods and goddesses, and I am developing a new line inspired by the comforts of home. Think coffee, books, pets, tea… What would you put on the ” Comforts” list?

But I have to be practical as well – some designs will be custom order. Others – the most popular designs – will go with me to shows. I plan a series of smaller tiles for the 4 elements that can be purchased singly or as a group….

And if there are new tiles there will be new pendants to correspond!

labradorite, sawing out script, tray of to-do’s!

7. Metals – metals were my first love in art school. I sincerely adore sawing complex things with my jewelers saw. So why aren’t I doing more?! As I established myself and my business; applying to shows… ceramics was the best category in which to place my work. Tiles, shrines, pendants… But in my heart I am a mixed media artist. So more metals? Yes, please!

simple, but so versatile

8. Linoleum printing. I used to teach it in school. Lesley and I did a print making art camp a few years back… You may have seen prints I was playing with for our 2017 “Keep your Sanity” challenges… During 2017 I took a few online classes with the Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic. For the fairy tales course I did a series of lino prints – I wanted to do something not in my normal mediums, and play a bit. I found that it was a great exercise to encourage me to draw more, and I find the carving rather Zen. The goddess and Little Red Riding Hood pieces pictured above? The goddess image correlates with a tile a sculpt, and I am thinking the wolf may be translated into clay soon! I like developing ideas and translating them into different media!

small but completely sufficient

9. Travel. Starting the year off with a trip to the UK! Art camp with Lesley! And  – actually meeting my dear friends of the UK branch of Art Elements… IN PERSON! But after that extravaganza… my desires are simple. Time with the husband and the dog, time in nature. The picture above? Our tiny 14′ travel trailer. She is adorable. We have no plans yet – but now as we are snowed and cold – that’s the time to make them!

10. Friends, family and community – Spending quality time with the people I care about. Not letting the job get in the way… and that means online friends and community as well. Taking the time to comment and start a conversation instead of blindly clicking “like”. Spending less time mindlessly scrolling, but quality time touching base with friends that are far away. Video calls to watch my little nephews antics… Stop what you are doing and hug someone today!

Snow and sparkle: The Art Elements Ornament challenge

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Happy Solstice! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Welcome to the reveal of the Art Elements Ornaments challenge!

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Tray of cookies? Tray of terra cotta!

I have an ornament making tradition of my own. Every year I make one “batch” of ornaments in terra cotta. I have my Grandmother’s vintage metal cookie cutters – now used for clay. I like the sense of tradition and connection to her, as I dont really bake cookies often, and the vintage shapes never go out of style!

These terra cotta ornaments are once fired, and use my “faux majolica” technique. They are first glazed with an opaque white glaze, on top only, like icing. They the colors are layered over. They fuse together in the  firing. this color over white method is similar to traditional majolica.

This year I had another idea I wanted to try:

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These beaded beauties ( if I do say so myself) were inspired by The Palette and the Page gallery in Elkton Md. Lynn, one of the artist/owners does the most inspired window displays. This year she called for snowflakes of any size or medium, but limited to white, silver, cream, gold. So I HAD to bead. The snowflakes are beaded onto 4″ circles of stiff felt. I lightly marked off 6 segments to start, and built the designs out from the center.  It was almost meditative, like drawing mandalas!

Im sorry I didn’t get a picture of the windows at night. It was magical!

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Detailed view of my beaded snowflakes.

So pour yourself a cuppa – tea? coffee? cocoa? and sit by your tree… and journey through the ornament challenge! Have a bright New Year, see you all in 2018!

Guest Designers
Art Elements Team

The November COM reveal: lunar hare 

What a month! This month the challenge was truly challenging. The fabulous component is a clasp, a coin clasp made by Niky Sayers. And its an Irish hare coin.

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Niky’s COM offering

Now I love this as the hare is “my” animal. And I am of Celtic/Irish descent. And it looks like a full moon, and brings to mind the lunar hare that is my icon, and new logo. SO clearly this is destined for me to keep!

I knew I waned to make a bracelet – as that best shows off the clasp as focal. And there I got stuck. Because there e are SO MANY options. OK _ something I can wear daily with my Fitbit. ( I like my Fitbit, but MUST accessorize/disguise it.)

 

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A few of my favorite things, including related pieces by Niky in my stash!

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Or do I want to go chunky?

I debated so much… my favorite stones? chunky statement stones? symbolic stones chosen for their attributes to make it more of a talisman? And my favorite stones won!

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I know that this is an exceptionally simple, dare I say boring design. But I it means a lot to me and I will wear it all the time!

On a side note, here are some of these gems attributes: 

  • Garnet: unyielding strength, increasing willpower, vitality. 
  • Moonstone: the magic of the moon – encourages communication by promoting clear thinking, inspiration and receptivity
  • Labradorite: For self-discovery, it is excellent for awakening one’s own awareness of inner spirit, intuition and psychic abilities.
  • Smoky quartz: endurance, fostering serenity, calmness and positive thoughts,to protect and ground one physically and spiritually

Thanks to Niky for a lovely piece – and thanks for understanding my simple design choices…

Please visit my team mates and our guests! Enjoy!

Guest Designers

Art Element Team

September COM reveal: Zom-bees!

( Its good to be back – I haven’t posted in 2 months… Sigh. )

And its time for the September reveal of the Component of the Month over at Art Elements. This month  – Laney has managed to combine adorable and charming as only Laney can. May I present her lamp work “Zom-bees”…

Laney's Zom-bees

The start of it all this month! Lampwork bee beads by Laney!

I knew right away that I wanted to wet felt a flower, maybe a brooch. I mean The season is changing – won’t is feel like Fall soon?

So in the interim – my friends and I had a “Girl’s Bead Night” as we do… But hosted by Marsha – it morphed into a felting project. It was the eve of the Autumnal Equinox, and I even baked pumpkin pie. I was trying to usher in Fall even though it was in the high 80’s…

I took ZERO pix during the evening. Food, friendship, laughter… ( Thanks to Lisa for the banner photo! ) Heres the  end result:

Kim's workspace.

Kim’s workspace. ( Pix by Kim Scheffler)

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The finished lovelies!

When I got home I realized – like the lightbulb over one’s head – that my COM was in my hands.

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I love the colors together!

My Zom-bee!

With wire tongue…

I work hardened a copper wire to form a spike. I coiled a little “sproing” for my bee. With a wire tongue of sorts and a little bending – he was in place! I love the aqua set off amongst the complementary curly locks.

So – I get to enjoy this little fellow til winter comes! Please take a look at the results from my AE team mates and out guests this month:

Guests
Team
http://www.lesleywatt.com/ – Lesley  Watt
http://www.glassaddictions.com/blog  –  Jennifer Cameron
https://jdaviesreazor.com/blog/  – Jenny Davis-Reazor
http://blueberribeads.co.uk/ – Caroline Dewison
 http://cmendola.blogspot.co.uk/– Cathy Spiey Mendola
http://laneymead.co.uk/ – Laney Mead

Sue’s Scarabs: the July COM reveal

I knew from the first it would be a bracelet.

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Bead/cap by Marsha Neal Studio. Scarab bead by Sue.

Do I dare? Do I dare tackle my first ever freeform peyote stitch project? I am a Virgo to the fullest, a lover of order… I do well with freeform bead embroidery – but that is a structured stitching – so I can go wild with bead shapes and colors and textures and patterns. Freeform peyote is all that freedom AND learning the structure. Adapting, working in a sculptural way.

So I tried it! I was working “along the length” of the bracelet so the bead closure and loop were in place early on in the process. The first step is stringing beads – of different sizes and colors… then going back along the length to start the peyote stitch pattern. This is the beginning:


There was a lot of tangling. Some cursing…. I decided to use 4 lb Fireline. Thin enough for multiple passes through beads, but strong and forgiving. ( I really don’t like Nymo) There are mistakes, there are sections that “ruffled” up but in general… IT WORKED!

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Here are the shots of the completed bracelet. It fits (me) perfectly! I will definitely take this further and experiment more with freeform peyote!

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Please pour a coffee and take a look at what my AE team mates and our guests have created! I would love to hear your thoughts… 

Guests

Deb Fortin

Lennis Carrier

Barb Fernald 

AE Team 

Diana

Lindsay

Claire

Lesley

Caroline

Laney

Cathy

Niky

Sue

(I apologize if the links are dead. I’ll fix ASAP. Waylaid by a stomach flu on vacation…. for now see all the links at Art Elements.