Helianthus. The Sunflower reveal at Art Elements.

Welcome! To the glorious summer time and the reveal of our creative challenge theme for this month over at Art Elements blog. This month: Sunflowers selected and hosted by Sue Kennedy of Sue BeadsIMG_8909Helianthus. In Greek myth the sunflower used to be a nymph. She was an ocean nymph named Clytie who fell in love with Helios, Titan of the Sun. It’s a tale of abandonment, revenge, and unrequited love worthy of a modern soap opera. In the end, she became a sunflower, turning her head to follow Helios progress across the sky, yearning for him still.

As I am inspired by myth, I started there. But the tale was too tragic; albeit a recurring motif in Greek myth. So I decided to honor a wild hare of an idea that was taping mean the shoulder for the last year: micro mosaics.

I have a few beads ( cue laughter) so I selected a sunflower palette. For the center  of the flowers I am using an antique faceted jet button. For the “grout” and substrate I am using Apoxie sculpt. So – snap the gloves on and mix it up…

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Bezels and palette – ready to dive in.

I sketched the petals into the apoxie and started… to be met with immediate frustration. I wanted the beads to sit up – so holes were hidden. Tried tweezers, which worked – but just too tedious. I started stringing beads for each line on 28 gauge brass wire – essentially making elements to inlay as opposed to individual 11* seed beads! Much better!

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Tedious! Making modifications on the fly.

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This is basically what I imagined.

The second bezel? Lets use larger beads! Lets use shaped beads… The palette had to change based on what I had on hand. The working time for Apoxie sculpt is 1-3 hours. For this process – earlier, softer consistency was preferred.

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Looser in inspiration, larger beads!

So if the seed beads are smaller than I wanted to work with – lets make larger mosaic tiles. Christi Friesen has been doing some crazy cool polymer mosaics lately – and those ideas were percolating in my mind.

First I created and cured my printed polymer veneers. This was the palette for my next mosaic.

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Polymer printed veneers – my mosaic palette.

I was working in a pine tray/frame. Painted and sealed first ( acrylic paint and gloss gel medium) I decided on the zoomed in image you saw at the start of my post. The cured veneers cut easily with Xacto knife, or even scissors. My Apoxie is grey – so rather grout like. ( Manufacturer says it can be painted after curing. I chose not to try that in this application.)

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Layout, and progress.

For my first try – I am basically pleased with that. I love the gold leaf shimmer from that one veneer. If I were doing this again – I think i would do more layout and pre-planning. Have more carefully fitted and cut tiles. While the spontaneity of this was fun, and rather freeing for me – I can see so much room to experiment with this process.

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The finished polymer mosaic.

Lastly – micro mosaics! I had all the polymer scraps… I had to try! These mosaics are “grouted” with TLS ( liquid sculpey) and cured to regular time/temperature. I liked these the best. I am still pondering why… was it that I didn’t love the Apoxie? That I had no time pressure here? That they were smaller/faster/less tedious? Whatever the reason – I may have to try these again. What are your thoughts?

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Listed below is a complete list of this month’s participants – both team members and guests.  Take a look at their creations! Enjoy!

And see you next month!

Guests

AE Team

Surfacing: the Art Elements “tidepool” theme challenge

This month I dove into the theme late. I had been away for many weeks, and I am doing my grief work after losing my mother. I relished the chance to dive into the beads, to busy my hands and still my mind a bit.

Lesley selected the theme “Tide pool” and it is  – as these themes can be – so rich that it was hard to narrow my ideas down to one piece. My first ever tide pool experience was in La Jolla CA on vacation with my husband before we relocated there. I was enchanted by the calm encapsulated worlds amidst the rocks and tumultuous spray.

My plan was influenced by the enameled fish I received from Anne at Gardanne Beads. While it takes my pieces from tide pool to ocean – I feel both worlds are represented…

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My teaser sketch – after I had selected artisan beads.

The preliminary stages had me stitching on the densely encrusted tide pool items at the bottom of the 3″ square. The fish swims amidst leather kelp; (if you EVER get a chance to go the the Aquarium in Monterey Bay CA, do so! The kelp forest is ethereal!). Then there is that rather unsightly blob in the lower left. Needle felted from a scrap of wool – its simply a form, an armature of sorts for…

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What is that blob?

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Oh my…

… the anemone! I didn’t have exactly the right colors to achieve an ombre effect on the arms? tentacles? but I am still pleased. so now – the piece in its entirety. All 3″ of it!

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“Surfacing”… my finished tide pool inspired piece.

Details: 1. the anemone in situ. 2. Caroline‘s sea urchin bead sitting on top.  3. Close up of Gardanne Beads enamel fish and Sue Beads lamp work star.

Framed in a stained wood frame – the piece is ready to hang. I like the layering of coral and kelp over the fish – creating some depth. This was a very inspiring theme to work with – thank to Lesley for the topic! Now – please – head over to my friends and colleagues blogs – to see what they have created! 

Guests

AE Team Members:

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

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