Dryad portraits: our Tree themed reveal at AJE

Welcome Autumn! Welcome to the reveal of the Tree themed challenge at Art Jewelry Elements. Caroline gave us a simply amazing inspiration post to start us off, and this image haunted me… baumbuddhatreebuddahfacehiddenimage-5adf4072c250d06096d141de8ccfceb3_h

This face in the trees made me think of many visual references,  Green Men among them. But what to do? First there is my piece from a year or so ago – when Rebekah gave us wood grain hearts for COM:


Heart of the Forest piece from April 2015

Then there was a haunting memory of a poster I had as a teen. A poster showing carved stone heads of all the River Gods of Ireland. Personifications in stone of the rivers deities… A little Googling and I found some images. (Carved by E. Smyth, they are on the Customs House in Dublin)


River Gods of Ireland by E. Smyth. They adorn the Customs House in Dublin.

So I knew I wanted to reprise the dryad face… and move forward with that idea. Perhaps different faces for different tree species? I started with stoneware face cabochons I had in my inventory.


Heart of the Forest piece from April 2015



Heart of the Forest piece from April 2015

I love the matte stoneware with the softer satin look of the polymer. I did use some cabs that were glazed, but kept to my autumnal palette. I am thrilled with how this idea is evolving!


My 4 mixed media dryads await accents.


Feeling Fall. Waiting for beads and gems…

These dryads pendants are not going to set down roots in my studio! They will be paired with gems and as necklaces the will head to FaerieCon in November. I need to add a few dryad sisters to the grove…

Until then:

please take  a peek at what our guests and my teammates have created this month!

AJE Team

Magic in mosaics

So – earlier this week I mentioned “art camp” as Lesley and I had taken to calling it. And how we went to the AVAM. ( My first time!). So the week of our vacation held another local/art/field trip first for me. Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Garden in Philly.

I knew Zagar was a tile/mosaic master and eccentric visionary type artist. ( He even taught a work show earlier this year at Hacienda Mosaico in Mexico) I knew he had many public works around the South St. section of the city. I was prepared to be delighted. I was in actuality inspired and blown away.


Full scale wall mural installation on the same block as the Gardens. Note: dogs! 

There is a sense of freedom and chaos in the murals – yet they are all designed to have composition and flow. There are commercial tiles integrated amidst fragmented industrial tiles and artists OOAK tiles. There are mirrors in abundance to play with light and reflection; incorporating the viewer into the piece… and a chance for random mosaic selfies, I will admit.


I was completely enchanted with other ceramic pieces incorporated into mosaics in such a non traditional way. 


The inner courtyard at the PMG is simply… epic. 


Art is the center of the real world. 


This sanctuary to be inhabited by my ides and my fantasies. 


The garden is excavated down and interlocking pathways are built of concrete, flotsam & jetsam, found objects… 

The gardens were a personal piece that Zagar worked on  – the space was his studio – for app. 8 years. When the land owner wanted to sell/demolish the installation, a grassroots community organization saved the PMG, and it now functions as a non profit organization. I would recommend it to anyone, tourist or not, artist or not. Its a momentous undertaking that is impressive, inspirational, fun yet gritty, filled with joie d’ vivre.

I’ll just sit and watch the clouds roll by and ponder the meaning of life… and how mosaics may feature in new work this fall…




Inner visions, Inner Harbor


The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. 

Why had I never been here before? 

Last week my friend and blog colleague Lesley Watt was visiting. We had planned our vacation art camp with a mix of field trips and artwork projects. The weather was so insanely cooperative – very unlike late August/early September usually is… So our first adventure was the AVAM in Baltimore, on a glorious temperate, blue-skied day…


Mosaic bluebird of happiness. 


A museum is covered in installations.


Bunny! On the “Magic Bus”

This mosaic Cosmic Galaxy  egg was breath taking. It even incorporated images from the Hubble telescope. ( Artist: Andrew Logan)


The Museum grounds are outstanding. Sculpture, installations, fountains, gardens. I felt completely enchanted before we even entered the museum.



A sense of fun, a tranquil enclosure… 

There are many instances where words or a quote stop you in your tracks. I did manage to capture a few heartfelt phrases.

There is no photography allowed in the museum, so you are seeing pieces from the grounds, and in the mirror below a stealth pix of Lesley in a mirrored mosaic. The blue sculpture above? Entirely beaded, representing John Waters and Divine as a folk art weather house – you know – where figures emerge and disappear depending on the weather readings?


No pictures allowed IN the museum, but the bathrooms were fair game! 


In the gardens between the buildings. A true oasis in the city. 


Need I say more? 


Amazing views from the AVAM Bird’s nest balcony

After the museum we headed to the Inner Harbor for a tourist browse and then dinner. Crab cakes, naturally.


The Inner Harbor – then off for crab cakes! 

Lesley has posted regarding the adventures over at Art Jewelry Elements. Take a look at her pix! And stay tuned for more here, later this week!

I love airports. 

At the international arrivals gate in Philadelphia- yet I hear Hugh Grant in my head from “love actually”. Well I may not be IN Heathrow but I’m awaiting Lesley arriving from Heathrow. 

And experimenting with WordPress on my phone. How did it work? We shall see. 

Bead Fest: there and back again…


Every square inch is used…

Its a whirlwind. I felt such a sense of relief as I left to set up… yes – before the show started!  The week prior was so busy and stressful! Thursday was set up, airport trip to pick up friends, and time to socialize!


The debut of the shrine pendants! 

I  was happy to debut my polymer shrine pendants – which were well received! I will be continuing to work with this shape and format. Lovely to see familiar faces, to talk beads, to meet new people !

And with Cooky Schock and Heather Boardman as my booth neighbors – I couldn’t ask for a better home away from home.


The “Mythic Nature ” line in cabs and pendants. 


A few of the monthly goddesses on display


And a last minute batch of goddesses – of course! 


I always wish I had taken more people pictures… 


So I am really glad when friends take pictures! 

There was some shopping. There were some high jinks. There was a lot of coffee.


The lucet – braiding Zen

New this year: the lucet. Braiding from one cord with these fork shaped tools. Easy once you get your tension right… Cooky has these stunning hardwood lucets made in Wales by an artisan woodworker.

And the beads. And cabochons. And headpins. I was pretty restrained – only 4 strands of gems. I couldn’t handle the thought of being at Bead Fest and NOT buying stones! But the real treat for me is the artwork beads and components by my friends and colleagues in Artisan’s Alley!


What Bead Fest post would be complete with out the “loot” picture? 

Now – to recover, unpack, and plan for the September shows on my calendar!

Have a great weekend…

Retail therapy. (aka procrastination)

So Bead Fest is right around the corner. I have some 200 pendants and cabs that need to be glazed. Yesterday I glazed, loaded and fired the kiln and make polymer sugar skull cabs. Today – I felt like playing hooky. So I went on an art field trip…

Good day for drive!

I had a couple different ways to justify the trip – although no one challenged me. <smirks> I had NEVER been to Amy Blevins bead store even though it was a short hour away. And there were some enticing things she was posting online that I wanted to check out. There were classes this weekend with  the charming Cynthia Rutledge; cant hurt to take a peak!


My destination! My “local” bead store…

vintage theater

Vintage style…

I don’t have any local bead stores in northern Delaware. I am so glad to support my friend, and a local-ish store… I had some show and tell with me – and the August goddess is ready to bead. I needed a few things.

What a welcoming foyer!

What a welcoming foyer!

Lisa Peters Art cabs and eye candy beads!

bead porn

Yes, please.

Shh… class in session

The store is lovely! Brightly lit in a corner spot on the charming small town main street. It has everything and more you could want/need/lust after for your projects. I needed to show a little restraint – but I found all I needed and more! I could see myself taking a class there in a heartbeat. The joy of a class in a setting like this – as I was discussing with Amy  – you aren’t rushed. Class sizes are smaller and much more personal than at the larger bead shows. Great one on one with the instructor, and shopping right there.  I know sometimes the big shows are the only access people have to classes – but after the Shepherdess years I am thoroughly spoiled. Bead & Glass Boutique is the class room climate I prefer!

selfie time

Mischief managed

So the August goddess is glued and ready. The aquas and teals are my favorites, but I wanted to do something different this month. I wanted to play up the antique/ivory/bone palette. So – Umm. I needed beads. And waiting for Bead Fest? Nope – leaves me no time left!

needs inspiration

August goddess

Antiques and ivory

My favorite palette

Oh yes. O beads, mini daggers, 8 hex beads in bronze, those triangles! And Amy gave me a great tip for stacking the 2 hole – umm are they the super duos? Well, anyway – I have a plan, and inspiration!

Time to get started…

Oh – speaking of Bead Fest – I will be back in the glaze cave tomorrow morning. If you are planning to attend, I would love to offer you this admission coupon! See you there!

Admisssion pass

All about ammonites – the July COM reveal at AJE

Its no surprise I love ammonites. I mean – organic design, natural, spiral… So this month for the COM Lesley shares these lovely ammonite pendants with us! Here is the one I received, already paired with some jasper in a corresponding teal tone.

paired with this jasper - a natural match

paired with this jasper – a natural match

I had in my head a plan to keep the front simple and create a braided triple strand in the back. I wanted to make matching cones from polymer to accent the pendant and transition to the triple strand. I made them – and they were “meh”. So I made some beads to go with…

Polymer beads and cones made to match Lesley's focal.

Polymer beads and cones made to match Lesley’s focal.

Ok – that’s better! Lets see – kyanite, smoky quartz, that teal jasper ( what IS that variety called?) and a little mother-of-pearl for brightness. Now which color palette of seeds? I had a little too much fun spilling them all and swirling them around on the bead mat. 

pearls? seed beads? colors?

pearls? seed beads? colors?

Here it the finished piece! 

The finished necklace

The finished necklace

I did end up with a loose braid of sorts. It is seed beads in matte olive and matte aqua with a slim strand of soft leather threaded through… I am pleased with the way it visually connects to the black glaze in the impressions. 

the loosely braided back of the piece - seed beads and leather

the loosely braided back of the piece – seed beads and leather

Please take a look at my fellow AJE members and our guests! See what else people have created with these lovely ammonites. 

Summertime – the Art Jewelry Elements theme reveal

Summer collage

Sumer Solstice has come! Summer is fully upon us: this weekend market by fireworks, trips to the beach, barbecues… And the reveal of the Summer theme over at Art Jewelry Elements.

What you see above is my beach summer compilation, I set myself the challenge to NOT do a beach theme this month. Just to make it more interesting… My motif is the moth. Flitting about in the indigo twilight, circling summer candle flames… colorful and interesting but often playing second string to their more illustrious butterfly cousins.


I have a handful ready to glaze. And like all best laid plans, the kiln at the studio is down for repairs so I am delayed in high firing these porcealin prototypes. But no worries. I will keep making them until I can glaze fire! I am drawn to the downward arc of the top wing shape… and want to see them glazed with fine lines of iron oxide to allude to the striations on the wings, with spots of color accents… So many possibilities.

Porcelain moths

porcelain batch 2

In the interests of the reveal I glazed a few as tests. And broke one… I am thinking gold leaf on the repair? Kintsugi-like.

First glazed tests

The broken white moth also is glazed in a crackle glaze – I am thinking some sepia ink to accentuate the crackle. But for me – its the little aqua one. I amy not have a finished piece – but I have plans…


What do you think? I think there are more moths to be made for Beadfest!

Until then – please hop along with the AJE team and our Summer theme guests!

Caroline Dewison
Susan Kennedy
Lesley Watt
Jen Cameron

Half a year of Goddesses?

I know June has just begun, but I am already finished my beaded goddess for this month. I am thrilled with the progress I am making. The design aspects flow more readily each month. I have abandoned symetry – which can be a challenge for me. And I have NOT hit a slump. If anything, the last 2 months went easier and faster… I know the blog has languished a bit, more htan a bit. There is a revamping in the works for this summer – thats all I’ll say for now.  

So take a look at half a year of goddesses:

6 goddesses. Jan - June


Glass treasures – the May COM reveal

Once again – a month comes to a close. I may not have blogged much – but I do have treasures to show you! Its time for the Art Jewelry Elements COM reveal!

I am spoiled. Sue gave me a selection of these new wee gorgeous cabochons when we briefly met up at Bead Fest April in Philly. I was greedy and asked for THREE (!!!) of these stars. I envisioned them as a crown over a celestial goodess face. 

Sue star cabs

But its Spring, and I have had a chance to go to the beach a few times. Walking dogs, with a coffee, early in the morning is my favorite pastime. And beach combing. Very quickly this became a starfish, destined to be nestled in a mermaid’s hair. (Late in the month I realized that #MerMay is a thing on social media. Google it). So when a new batch of stoneware face cabs came out of the high fire gas kiln… this happened: 

May 2016 COM

Shells from Bethany DE, antique coral, abalone from NZ (long story)… Sue’s cab sets the palette, and Caroline’s sea urchin bead completes the piece! Here are some detail shots: 

COM details

I need to stitch on some beaded loops or closed rings. That part always happens last as it seems like a chore to me. 

Umm – so I was at the beach this past Memorial Day weekend – and I always pack beads. The weather was a bit grey… so while tired dogs napped after morning hikes… 

Mermaid tapestry

This is a small tapestry. The enamleled mermaid is from Anne Gardanne. I have been treasuring it… You know I am doing a beaded goddess each month? Well, I have further challenged myself to sculpt all those cabs. So this is a bonus! The May goddess is done; the June piece is laid out. I am not sure where I am going with this – but that purple! It was as if Sue’s cab and Anne’s mermaid were destined! I’d love to hear what you think… 

I was very inspired, and rather prolific; please visit my team mates and our guests to see other creative designs featuring Sue’s wee cabs!  

Allison Herrington
Lola Surwillo
AJE Team Members
Susan Kennedy – host
Diana Ptaszynski
Kristen Stevens
Jenny Davies-Reazor ( here)
Caroline Dewison
Lindsay Starr
Lesley Watt
Jennifer Cameron
Niky Sayers