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!

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!

 

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.  

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

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

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…)

goddess ref

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