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.  

Flights of Fancy! The “Insect” theme reveal at Art Elements

Summer: outdoor living on the deck, the smell of charcoal, garden dirt under your nails… ( And festivals and clay camp but thats another story) When I think of summer insects I go to winged things. I love butterflies and moths! Their delicacy of structure and the boldness of color and design. So I knew immediately what I wanted to do:

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Stoneware for an earthy look, and coming soon porcelain for a more ethereal quality. Cut from slabs of clay – I drew a series of templates from vintage illustrations; my own childhood books. Carved and textured, drilled, awaiting the kiln… a moth to flame?

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Stoneware – waiting for stains and glazes. Sadly still a WIP.

With three shows in four weekends AND teaching every day – the moths haven’t been glazed and fired yet. I WILL have these soon, and for Beadfest if you are interested.

In my precious down time this month – I beaded. And I had to bead insects!

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The classic, high contrast Monarch

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A study in iridescence.

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Matte finish for contrast to the others.

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The trio takes wing.

 

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These three are all brooches, approximately 3: in wingspan. I plan to frame them in shadowbox frames so they are easy to display when not being worn. And I have to give a shout out to Caroline! Her moth pin was a gift – and started this flight of fancy!

 

 

 

 

Please stop by the  Art Elements team’s blogs – and our great guests this month!  Pour a cold iced tea, and sit in the shade!

Guests

Mona Arnott

Melissa Trudinger 

Sarajo Wentling

Divya N

Art Elements Team

Cathy Spivey Mendola

Diana Ptaszynski

Lesley Watt

Caroline Dewison

Lindsay Starr

Niky Sayers

Claire Fabian

Tile Festival. Tile Feast.

Last Friday I shared with you the unique historical gem that is the Moravian Pottery and Tile works. Today – I wanted to showcase some of the tile artists who I had the good fortune to exhibit with at the annual show.

First up: Mary Philpott:

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We talked of myth and fantasy… and Crow Girls

Mary Philpott tiles!

A long time fan – I was thrilled to see these beauties in person!

Mary’s tiles are ” Contemporary Art Tile. Design within a Historical Tradition
Sculptural work exploring Flora and Fauna”. I have been a huge fan of her work on Instagram and was delighted to meet and chat with her in person. Her mythic/folklore references, her choice in animals, her respect/acknowledgement of the Art and Crafts style in her work… you can see why this all resonates with me.

Her images themselves are so lively, and her use of line! She glazes her porcelain pieces with her own glaze recipes – the translucency accentuating the carved lines : masterful! I could go on all day.

Philpott collage

Next I would like to introduce you to Earthen Craft Pottery from Lansing Michigan:

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This one currently is hanging over my desk…

Brian and Katie were neighbors in my tent! Heavens. Their precise design/line work! Their delicious glazes! And as   a person of Celtic descent as well, it spoke to me on many levels. (Their stoneware tiles are fired to ^5 for you clay people out there.) They also had pendants – I have a stunning knot work pendant I think I may bead for myself!

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My direct neighbor was Claudia McGill. I viewed her tiles for 2 days, and continued to be drawn in – both due to her exuberant use of color and her whimsical style. Her subjects of daily life are relatable and engaging; from sleepy cats to street scenes with garbage trucks. I liked her interiors the best. ( Terra cotta tiles, painted in underglazes, fired to ^05)

C. Gill tiles

Last – but not least is Mission Guild tiles. Their stunning tiles are exemplary of the Arts and Crafts style. Paired with hand crafted wooden frames they are truly gorgeous. Their work references many mottos and motifs from the Arts and Crafts era in the us.

Their tiles are earthenware – fired to ^04 – and there are some great glaze effects!

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Mission Guild also works in Metal clay. Its lovely to see these two side by side! Makintosh rose.jpg

The Moravian Pottery Tile Festival is a tour de force in the ceramic tile world. I was happy to see colleagues, and meet new fellow tile artists. I look forward to a reunion next year! ( The tile festival occurs in May each year. )

 

 

 

 

 

The Moravian Pottery – and Tile Festival!

( This post was originally published on the Art Elements blog – by yours truly.)

It was a temperate day in May and the clouds were fluffy…

Snapped as I was unloading. Great place to spend the weekend!

Last month I was thrilled to return to the Tile Festival at the Moravian Pottery and Tile works in Doylestown, PA. The historic pottery/tile works has been in operation since 1898, and hosts a spectacular artist’s exhibit and show each Spring. Artists from as far as Canada, Alaska, even Russia were represented this year. ( More on that in my companion post.)

The Tile works is a unique building – cast in place, in concrete, and studded from top to bottom with mosaics and inset tiles. Henry Chapman Mercer worked with this style of construction for not only the Tile Works, but also his “home” ( mansion? castle?) named Fonthill. Both are located in parkland owned and maintained by Bucks Co. PA.

Kraken mosaic in situ.

Henry Chapman Mercer was from this area, and after school ( Harvard and U Penn Law) and extensive travel in Europe – he settled down in the area. He served as the Curator of American and Prehistoric Archaeology for University of Pennsylvania in the early 1890s. This lead to his love of and research in American artifacts, and later pottery; he apprenticed with a local German American potter. He was heavily influenced by the American Arts and Crafts Movement – and founded the MPTW in 1898.

Courtyard, with chimneys. And yes, the chimneys have mosaic bands of decoration!

The gift shop, tucked into a Medieval style barrel vault.

The tiles made at the MPTW are diverse – and range from impressed terra cotta pavers to sculptural tiles designed for mosaic use. There are flora and fauna, ships, ancient cities, Colonial era occupations… and many Classical and literary references. They tile employ both glazes and colored slips – playing with the contrast of matte and glossy. Inspirations run the gamut from Medieval and Byzantine eras, the Celtic Revival, and the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Original designs still in production!

I take this picture every time I visit. There is something so evocative about the idea of working in that space…

There are literally tiles everywhere, every surface. Shown here: “The Quarrel”, castle, triton, and a vignette from “The New World” fireplace.

“Bookplate” Mosaic panel – designed by Mercer for his friend Dr. R. Bell. Based on an actual book plate.

The clays used were originally locally sourced, and today the MPTW uses similar. comparable clay bodies. As seen in the picture above – at times color is NOT applied – but the tiles are “cindered”. The term is what I would call a sagger firing: tiles are placed inside a ceramic container, with sawdust. They are them fired in the kiln – created a reduction atmosphere in the saggar/container. This results in the clay absorbing carbon from the combustible sawdust – which darkens the clay body itself. ( Ceramicists: simple definition for the lay people, forgive me) The mosaic catalog on the MPTW website showcases the New World series and has many examples of these “cindered” tiles used in mosaics. The New World Series? It ranges from Vikings,Atlantis, and  Aztecs, to Raleigh and Powhatan!

A polychrome zodiac!

I find this place to be infinitely inspiring. It makes me love terra cotta all over again. And I will admit to ideas and plans for some smallish mosaics of my own. There are classes and apprenticeships available. An tours, of course. So if you are in the area – please take a look. It’s truly living history.

As to the show? The tile festival itself? More on that – Stay tuned.

“Queen of the Sea” – the May Art Elements COM reveal

I usually don’t title pieces. But wait til you see this one… It went through many fits and starts and emerged; making a rather regal statement. This month Lesley sent gorgeous shell slices – and I selected the satiny copper green seen below:

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Shopping the stash: I pulled artist beads for the preliminary pairings. Marsha Neal Studio, Diana, Staci Smith, Tracey Donogue, Karen, Mary/White Clover Kiln, Diane Hawkey… 

In my head I saw the shell as the center dangle on a large/statement amulet piece. (I was directly inspired by Cathy’s piece using Lindsay’s leather cab. Thank to Cathy for her advice!) Here is the first incarnation:

As you can see – it was a “no-go”. I simply wasn’t happy with it. So I dove back onto the stash to see what else leapt out at me:

So you can see the plan for the overall composition here. Its going to be a large piece, wearable for special occasions? Or cosplay… Since I was fixated on this composition – Caroline’s luster cab was the best choice – both for scale and color. This wasn’t the color palette I would have ever predicted – but I love the two ceramic pieces together!

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Beaded, and dangles selected: crystal points and mismatched headpins by Nikki Thornburg.

The beaded cab/bezel is sewn to the wire framework with 24 gauge wire running side to side. The supplemental wire ( visible on the bottom section) is to prevent the beaded cab from spinning in the wire frame.
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Sketch for the necklace portion with possible gems. 

Trying out gem combinations – what do YOU think? I am leaning towards the oval aquamarines. While they are smaller in scale – the colors accentuate and visually link the  necklace to the shell. Those huge citrine nuggets are pretty yummy, though… I plan to stare at it for a few days – then finish it off with silk!
Until then – please take a look at the friends and colleagues participating this month! And  thanks Lesley for such a beauty!
Art Elements team
Laney Mead

Spoutwood May Day Faerie Festival: muddy mayhem

 

This was my 6th year vending at the Spoutwood May Day Faerie Festival. I fell in love the first time I stepped on the farm. Its hard to describe to a newbie what a sense of magic and community and wonder this place, and this event creates… The event celebrates Spring, and awakening of Nature, and all things faerie/fantastical/mythic. The community is inclusive, welcoming, non-judgmental, and supportive. I have made life long friendships there with artists, actors, musicians…

 

This year – for the first time in its 26 year history – the festival had to close early. From the official Spoutwood site: “For the first time in 26 years, the May Day Fairie Festival had to cancel the final day, Sunday May 7, due to safety issues. Although we understand that some of you may be disappointed you did not get to attend, please know that our team is heartbroken, and currently working on recovering from the devastation of the cancellation. Please bear in mind that this annual event is not only a fun celebration, but it is also the primary fundraiser for Spoutwood Farm Center, a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational farm. Fairie Festival supports the Farm’s operations year-round.” This was due to excessive rain & treacherous conditions that made the grounds and the neighboring parking area unsafe.

As an artist – I take this risk with outdoor shows, I understand that. But this is my primary income and vendors all suffered significant losses. The Farm itself suffered physical and financial trauma from the weekend. We as a community are reeling from it all.

Hours upon hours spent alone in the studio “making” and there is a loss of interaction with customers on top of the loss of sales. My pieces are extremely personal; I put a bit of “me” in them. It is a relationship, a give and take between artist and customers that can satisfy, and nourish in a way. The excitement of new work! Only to fall flat with no audience.

The less obvious loss we all feel is time. Time spent with our friends, our tribe, our kindred spirits. I have great friends locally, from college, etc. but these mythic makers are my soul mates! There is a festive atmosphere to gather together, first show of the spring… to catch up, share new work, ideas… to simply be together. Its often as if no time has passed at all. I feel that my reward for my solitude has been taken from me.

But this is life. We are a rather resilient bunch, and we will keep making. We will have reunions at future shows… If you are a Spoutwood veteran and would like to donate, the Farm could use your help! ( Click here!) If you are searching for that perfect gift – shop your local artists and makers. Or shop from the Spoutwood family of vendors.

I myself am slowly recovering from cold, wet, mud and the like. Ill be updating my Etsy ASAP and preparing for my next show… Until then, thanks for listening.

 

April Component of the Month Reveal!

Its that time of the month. LOL

Time for the COM reveal at Art Elements blog! ( What did you think I meant?)

This month Jen Cameron of Glass Addictions sent the yummiest swirly cosmic galaxy beads. At least that is what I think when I see them:

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So my bead arrived the day I left for Rochester. And I missed it by a few hours. So I kept dreaming up things I wanted to do… and they aren’t even jewelry things… I tried to capture the ideas on my iPad – and I warn you… this is a NEW medium for me and these are rough sketches. ( But if I am going to learn I have to start somewhere…)

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The first would be a stoneware/ceramic sculpture – sized so that the bead is a planet held in her upraised hands. ( It WAS just Earth Day.) Maybe 8″? But tapered to a point like the Cycladic figures I adore – and standing in a wrought iron stand.

 

 

 

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My original idea: app 12″ tall. Stoneware clay

Then after the trip to Rochester – I had this really cool driftwood, perfect for a mermaid to sit on :

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My second idea – small polymer mermaid on driftwood.

And sadly neither of those happened. I got back on the 25th! And the reveal is one week to the day. So I took a break from glazing on Sunday and this happened:

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I am thinking this would be a wall hanging… it is rather long. But it was such a visual treat to pull gems to go with this glass! Simply gorgeous. And yes – its a moon hare motif that is so very “me”.

I love this bead – and the longer I look at it the more ideas I have – who knows? I may still start that stoneware goddess figure.

For now – take a look at my AE team mates and out guests this month!

Guest Designers:

Sarajo Wentling

Deb Stewart

Art Elements Team:

Sue Kennedy

Laney Mead

Lesley Watt

Claire Fabian

Karen Totten

Cooky Schock

Caroline Dewison

Cathy Spivey Mendola

Niky Sayers

Lindsay Starr

Jen Cameron

 

Rochester Rocks! 

So last weekend I had the pleasure of a business trip to Rochester NY. I was headed up to teach at Let’s Bead, have a trunk show, and visit with Art Elements team member Diana Ptaszynski! 

What a wonderful weekend! First off – a short visit to a local park and Lake Ontario. A bit angry after storms and winter run off…. But gorgeous – and the driftwood!

Let’s Bead is a FANTASTIC bead store. Large, open, welcoming space. Friendly and knowledgeable staff. Very well stocked in gems, finding, seed beads and Czech glass! There were Czech glass beauties I had never seen anywhere else!

Saturday was an all day class: my “Word Mojo” pendant as a necklace. (Do you remember when it was a COM?) Mold making, polymer, collage, wire wrap… a little something for everyone. And the results were so diverse! Sunday we created Luna pendants – the same style that was featured in Step by Step Wire magazine!  The classes were pretty full and totally fun! A huge shout out to all the creative women who came to take a class, try something new, and create with camaraderie! I appreciate your trust in me. Take a look:

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Saturday afternoon – wire wrapping!

Diana and Colin are great hosts! I got to see the highlights of the city, sample some fine brewed libations, see the Canal and my first Great Lake… and then this happened:

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Reunion of bead sister! Kerry, Diana, Anne, and me! 

And there were cats: ( Mr Elliot declined to be featured on the blog.)

Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible! Made it a success! Made it so much fun! I hope to go back! 

Oh and stay tuned – Diana and I did some antiquing/ treasure hunting. I’ll do a “loot” post tomorrow!

Eggs and arrows…

April. One quarter of the year gone by – happily in a blur of creative time. New tile designs, new ideas, new projects. One project I am on track with is the monthly beaded tapestry. Last year – goddesses, fully beaded. This year – hands – with fibers/felt/silk. January was felt – there are a few things to work out there. February and March are showcased here:

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February was inspired by the Irish goddess Brigid, whose name means “Fiery Arrow”. She is tied to Imbolc ( aka Candlemas February 2) in the Celtic calendar – marking the midpoint of winter. Lambs are born, snowdrops emerge through the dustings of snow.

I have incorporated a scrap of hand dyed silk from my friends at Foxglove Reyen Designs, as well as some curly locks from Sarafina Fibers. I love the colors and he texture these elements add. The colors of the swirls are a bit more subtle than I had intended – as you can see in this detail.

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Feb. Brigid detail

March also features a scrap of Reyen silk – I mean those colors!!!! The March hand alludes to the Spring Equinox – or pagan Ostara. Although recent scholarly articles debunk some of the mythic/folkloric ties between Easter/Eostre/Ostara – the spring is life, newness, freshness, and rebirth! The egg is seen as a symbol of rebirth and new life in myriad cultures all over the world. The green shoots of leaves and grass – the scattering of pinks like buds… springtime is upon us!

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Now on to April… and since I post this on April 16th I better start beading!