Back to work, back to reality

Last month when I was doing some of the creative business entrepreneur journaling stuff – year in review and all – I relaized that I felt like I was in production mode all year in 2015. Not enough time to sculpt new designs, not enough time to play and develop new pieces. So when the ceramics studio re-opened this week, it was nice to get my hands back into clay. And it was nice to play a little bit. 

New clay 1

Celtic knot cabs are destined for The Bead Binge in Cherry Hill NJ. ( March 19 & 20). The larger rectangular pieces? Who knows? Mixed media pieces? Beaded into felted pieces? 

new clay 2

Tree of Life. Triquetras. Triple Spirals… and again some large I’m-not-sure-what-for-yet peices. But I look forward to glazing them! 

new clay 3

These are pressed from an antique cookie mold – you know the Springerle style of shortbread cookies?

New figure WIP

And this lovely lady… muse… goddess will go in the high fire reduction kiln next week. JUST IN TIME for the members show at The Palette and the Page next month! I have a few days to ponder what organic/sculptural elements will be included. She has a nature/woodland/plant theme. 

Now – off to prepare for a much anticipated snow storm. I have books, and coffee, and oh! dog food. Must see that all this house’s inhabitants are cared for as we settle in for the weekend! Until later…  

 

 

The Firefly reveal – The June theme challenge at Art Jewelry Elements

Firefly inspiration

When Jennifer announced “fireflies” as the themed challenge over at Art Jewelry Elements – I knew the exact look I wanted to capture. The luminous deep blue sky, trees in silhouette, just enough light to see by… and the magical sparkles of light, like fairies flitting in the dusk. 

Inspiration 2

In the ceramics studio I have been testing out my palette of underglazes in the ^10 reduction firings we do at the work studio. The underglazes are holding up to the high heat and retaining their color in a pleasing fashion – on porcelain. I love porcelain, but its not the clay body I use most. So lets give it a whirl… 

I carved a few simple pendants style pieces with the silhouetted shapes of grasses and trees. The fireflies themselves are circular impressions: I wanted to melt glass seed beads there. Planning on keeping the porcelain matte in finish – the seed beads should create little glossy halos around the “firefly” impressions. Here they are glazed, and a few of the first results: 

Before and after porcealin

Now the good news and the bad: I fired them all at once. All my proverbial eggs in the same basket. So I see what worked, and what I want to change, but I have to start anew. As shown above – all the blue skies look alike at first – and some have fired much darker. It was different shades of blue… The seed beads created the EXACT halo I wal looking for; but they were yellow/golden beads and they have fired to an amber color, not the yellow I hoped for… 

Most successful versions

These four are the truest to my original plan, although there are things I want to try differently. (They will be available at Ceramic Art Bead Market on FB later this week) 

second batch

These three are much darker, but have some nice larger melty fireflies and a few smaller plain yellow ones in the distance. (Also on CABM later this week.) 

Now – of course I had another idea as well, and limited time between 2 shows this month and teaching Clay Camp at the “work” ceramics studio…  Mason jars. The iconic symbol of childhood summer nights catching fireflies. 

Resin jars WIP

These are still a WIP. I sculpted three jars of varying sizes from polymer, and made a quick mold. I cast them in resin, doing multiple pours, and embedding golden microbeads and flecks of gold leaf in the layers. (The gold leaf wins. The micro beads are too small.) The purple RTV had a more open surface texture, resulting in a frosted look that you can see on the left and center jars. The yellow molding putty – from ICE resin – had a much tighter surface, and yielded a better result. Still a bit cloudy/frosty, I plan to give these a quick surface coat of ICE resin to smooth out the inconsistencies in the surfaces and hopefully achieve a smooth/transparent/glossy surface. 

I know this may be a logical go-to mixed media combination to create an iconic firefly piece… but I love it! I plan to wire wrap the jar’s neck… and I have visions of a necklace palette of dark blues, teals, black with one or two pops of yellow scattered in the night sky… 

Please take a chance to see the other offerings from AJE team members and guests this month! Sure to light up some ideas for you! 

Guest Designers:
 
Melissa Trudinger – https://beadrecipes.wordpress.com
Keren Panthaki – https://vasdea.wordpress.com
Veralynne Malone – www.veradesigns.blogspot.com
Terri Del Signore – http://artisticaos.blogspot.com
 
AJE Team:
Caroline Dewison – http://blueberribeads.co.uk

 

Whirlwind of beads. AKA Beadfest 2014

 Bead Fest was two weeks ago?! Where has the time gone? Don’t answer that – I know: packing, unpacking, sorting. Sleeping, fondling beads, visiting with friends, art camp, field trips… More on the latter soon.  

So here are the hightlights, and the loot. 

 

1. Bead Fest is social!  Hanging out with Staci and Linda on Wednesday, the annual AJE dinner! So much fun! 

BF14 social!

2. Bead Fest is colorful and diverse. My display is for sure! I always bring a few tiles as they run parallel to my Mythic Nature pendants. Sold a few too!

BF my display

3. Bead Fest is preparation – for me! So much to pack and remember for display, class, swaps…  This was my class room still life from set up. Even though it was early Sunday morning – it went so well! And everyone had a great time, it seems. 

BF class prep

4. Bead Fest is learning. Teaching. Creativity. Exploration.  I was thrilled to teach at my first Bead Fest. I taught a mixed media class that incorporated quite a few techniques – that I am confident the students will apply in their work moving forwards. Here you see student work-in-progress, my concentration face, and class samples below. 

BF class WIP

 

Beadfest is shopping. Art beads. Glass, clay, metal, polymer, gems…

BF loot1

(Diana/Suburban Girl, Anne Gardanne, SueBeads, Jen/Glass Addiction, Humblebeads, HMB Studios)

BF loot2

(Sue beads, Caroline/Blueberri beads, Karen/Starry Road, Kristen Stevens, Melissa Meman, Diane Hawkey, Staci Smith, Lesley/THEA designs)

BF loot3

(Caroline/BlueBerri Beads, Mary/White Clover Kiln, Basha Beads, Kristi Bowman, Staci Smith, Green Girl Studios)

Hope you enjoyed that whirlwind recap! Now off to the studio to make more stuff! Fall shows are around the corner… 

Beadfest Sneak Peek

Taking a glazing break – actually I am almost finished, having met the epis task I set myself! I will have a plethora of pretties at Beadfest this month in Philadelphia – my classic “Mythic Nature” designs and new items as well. Needless to say – I havent been doing much else lately. Heres a recap of the last weeks… 

Milagros

Milagros – sorted into piles, 4-6 colors each! in the designs, fresh from the kiln… 

Hi fire

A new, OOAK batch of vessels and goddesses. High fire stoneware with a wash of iron oxide. Very happy with these… 

Matroska cabs

 

Matroska cabochons, raw glaze before firing.  There will be pendants too. 

resin rings

 

Limited edition  pendants – some will have resin inserts of vintage illustrations/antique text. Others will be open… 

If you are a beader, wire worker, metal smith – or even a newbie bead stringer… please stop by and sat Hello! I will be at Booth 461 in Artisan’s Alley. 

Beadfest pass 

Clay and linoleum – an unlikely duo?

Update from the studio… 

!. Glazing all day. 

2. Bisque firing what may be last load before Beadfest. 

3. Mopping up basement as its a monsoon out there. 

4. Waiting… to unload new goddesses from the ^10 reduction firing at the “work” studio!

And thinking of printmaking. 

My friend, fellow clay artist and AJE member Diana P. wrote a post this week regarding her foray into carving stamps. She is working with EZ carve – similar in consistency to white erasers. Its great to carve, but a little springy. Too soft for what she wanted to do in clay, but great fun nontheless. 

So I decided to share some linoleum I had carved, and stamped into clay. This is the economy “battleship” linoleum that I used to use when I taught art/printmaking as a public school teacher. Its shallow but very firm and worked well for my new dseries of icons. 

Lino pendants

Yin Yang and Om signs in clay – awaiting finishing.  

carving area

Here’s my carving area, complete with bench pin, and a few other “icons” in progress. This series I designed to keep simple and have the symbol itself be very clear and legible. I like the texture the carving leaves – as contrasted to the smooth background surface. These are going to be glazed in an array of colors… 

Fairy door tile

And one more example of linoleum and clay in tandem: this is a clay tile/print from a linoleum block I carved in San Diego. When I lived there I had an amazing artist/mentor in Sibyl Rubottom. This was from a printmaking and letterpress workshop I took at her studio, Bay Park Press. It was carved to print  and accompany text set in letterpress. And so I tested it in clay – was thrilled the depth was sufficient to give me a print to glaze. This was the test piece; I plan to do more for my fall shows. 

I am excited to be able to draw on the creative energy of that fruitful time – although I work in such different materials. I am glad the block carved 10 years ago and across the US can be reborn here, now. In many ways my series of “Mythic Nature” tiles and pendants are similar to a run of prints… but that philosophical musing will wait for another day. I have more to glaze…

 

Art Jewelry Elements – Everything’s coming up roses…

Good morning! Its reveal time over at Art Jewelry Elements blog. This month we had a sweet porcelain rose from Diana

Diana's porcelain roses

These might be a limited design – so check her shop now!

Now – I saw this picture, and I decided to challenge myself a bit… and asked for lavendar. Nothing against pinks and pale purples – they just arent “me”. The bead I received was lovely… I went to my amethyst stash, logical. It was too boring. (The combo, not the amethyst!) I heard my sister Heather in my ear… lavendar green and yellow. Great combination… We window shop in boutiques on South Congress St in Austin and look, and discuss, have a coffee whenever we get a chance! It gives me insights into her tastes, and potential presents for her… So with Heather in mind, here goes.

AJE July

A double strand of gems: wire wrapped amethyst, yellow jade, jade… and tourmaline. The darn tourmaline was sooo tiny is was barely stringable, since I wasnt willing to go smaller than 24 ga wire. But it was essential to play off the glaze color as the amethyst was so dark. 

AJE reveal July

Finished with silk cord and a sterling hook clasp I whipped up. It hangs long-ish at 25″. I was working on it at a “Girl’s Beading Night” and have to thank Kim and Marsha – they advised on length, and Marsha had brought her silks… that helped decide the closure as she had the perfect green!

I love the way it turned out, the colors are fresh and spring-like to me. The silk makes it super comfortable to wear – something I always consider. Thanks Diana for the beautiful piece in a rare (to me) color! Please take a gander at my colleagues creative interpretations of this focal – and the lucky monthly winners. 

That’s all for now… have 2 other posts in the works here for this week. I am trying to nurture my blog that gets so neglected when I am in the midst of teaching Clay Camp. And I am in a Beadfest frenzy – so when I emerge from the “glaze cave” aka the basement studio, I can tap tap away here… Thanks for stopping by – hope to see you again soon. 

 

 

Clay camp and a kiln unloaded…

Argh

Welcome to clay camp. 

Well – its my primary focus for the next 5 weeks. I have up to 24 students in 2 age groups. Ages range from 6-17. They are with me for 2 weeks – one of creating, sculpting, wheel throwing, hand building; and another of finishing, glazing, decorating. 

And in my off time – I am making things like mad in preparation for Beadfest in Philadelphia in August… 

Last Friday I did a post over at Art Jewelry Elements blog about the loading of the ^10 high fire reduction kiln. We unloaded today! It was a great firing. Not a ton of reduction – so out copper bearing glazes flashed more green then red. Simply beautiful in my opinion!

The big reveal

The first thing I saw this morning!

kiln pix collage

Taking it apart – shelf by shelf. 

porcelain components!

I am so happy with my organic porcelain charms! There are coral prints & sea urchin, in 4 colors. And I didn’t “Lose” any stuck to the shelf or chipped, etc. Many of them have 2 holes. I want to make earrings with dangle, and bracelet links… 

Coffee is done. Headed to the studio. I’d love to hear what you think!

 

Curves….

Hello my Focus on Life photo/journey/challenge compatriots. I usually post on Instagram – altho I missed a few, and dont get to interact with you too much. I am usually teaching ceramics class every Saturday morning, and never seem to get a post written ahead of time… Please follow my pix on FB, and Instagram, and here – when I can. 

(The scoop on Focus on Life can be found here for those of you that are curious.)

I spent last Sunday with a group of Stunners. Thats the Pre-Raphaelite term for their gorgeous ideal woman, their muse, that inhabit their paintings. I also spent time with real life beauties – my friends that accompanied me to the exhibit! It was a lovely day, hard to describe. The artwork touches a deep place in my heart and soul. It was wonderful to share the exhibit with like minded people. I ended the day feeling full, happy, sated, inspired, exhausted, euphoric…. 

Here are pix from that day – including my “Curve” themed shots. 

Grey DC

Mansfield's Atalanta

Mansfield's Diana

Diana the Huntress

Sculptures are: “Atalanta” and “Diana the Huntress” by Paul Manship. Divinely Deco, fabulously female, marvelously mythic – my style! ( If the style looks familiar – have you seen the “Prometheus” in gold that dresides at Rockefeller Center? Yup. Same artist.)

NGA fountain

I think I take a picture like this every time I am at the National Gallery. It never ceases to enchant me. 

 

 I will admit – I have not posted pix the last 2 weeks. “Wrapped up” and “Possibilities” So I submit this catch up photo – for both! I am deep into preparing for my first show, and I am all wrapped up in clay. The posssibilities are endless!

Possibilities: clay

Have a wonderful week everyone. I hope to see your pix out there on the Interwebs. Happy Spring!

 

Respect the polymer…

Polymer collage

So – Art Bliss – I know it was over a week ago, but I am still digesting some of what I learned. I took 2 classes with Christine Damm, a polymer and jewelry artist from Vermont. I had a phenomenal time, in fact I was only signed up for Saturday’s class but at the day’s end added Sunday’s class becouse I wanted to soak up more knowledge and inspiration.

I have been on a quest in recent years to respect the polymer. Its a clay. I love clay. It can be used sculpturally and texturally – as I use “real” clay. (Can you see my bias there?) Best yet – you can embed things in it and cure it in the oven. Cannot do that with stoneware…I see polymer work by other artists that I like, and others that I dont like. I have no desire ever to do cane work or color blends. The exacting nature of those techniques, the fiddli-ness, the precision, makes my creative muse curl up inthe corner and refuse to play. I worked in polymer a bit in the late 80’s/ealry 90’s. Teaching jewelry making at a Fine Arts camp – polymer was cost effective, user friendly and versatile. I was creating Art History pieces as brooches, all inlay – no painting. Imagine “The Scream” in polymer – that phase didnt last long.   So here I am: a sculptor, a jewelry artist, working in mixed media – and I was trying to add polymer to the mix. 

I am happy to report that I now like AND respect the polymer. Layering colors appealed to the painter in me. And a painter can create layers of subtlety that make me think: patina, age, weathered surfaces.I can now achieve intricate colors, detailed definition, shimmer, and a bit of mystery in the polymer. I am so taken with it: I went shopping immediately after returning from ArtBliss:

Heat set oils

RTV and blanks

And I made a new bunch or molds – I can use these for earthenware/stoneware as well – But I have some polymer ideas percolating!

Molds!

Oh – my work from class, you ask? ( Let me go snap a pix in natural light…)

Polymer from class

Top: ring and cuff bracelet. Bottom – experiment with copper bezel, Boudicca earrings. 

I have three bangles as well – LOVE them. Wear them all the time, and plan to make many more! So please stay tuned for more polymer pieces popping up soon. 

 

 

 

BeadFest – these are the people in my neighborhood

My first Beadfest as an exhibitor has come and gone. It was most definitely worth the days spend firing and glazing in a frenzy! I had a wonderful time – seeing my pieces well received, meeting new friends, catching up with old friends. And I managed to fit in a little shopping and a bit of barter (tomorrow’s post). For now – a recap of the booth, and a few of my neighbors. I regret not taking more people pictures…I seem to have focused on the beads. 

My booth

high fire and words

"Mythic Nature" series

Lunar Hare

Lampwork lovelies from my neighbor Sue Kennedy of Sue Beads

 Sue Beads

What patience! Hundreds of raku beads from Amy at Xaz Bead Company

Xaz Bead Co.

One of a kind ceramic focals and buttons from Mary Hubbard at White Clover Kiln.

White Clover Kiln

Green Girl Studios – pewter charms, buttons, pendants…

Green Girl Studios

Lampwork from Heather of HBM Studios. 

HMB Studios

Lampwork focals from Anne of Gardanne Beads. 

Gardanne beads

The show was great, although long hours on one’s feet. The atmosphere was very invigorating, and creative. I am thrilled to be part of this community; I am very glad I took the leap and applied. Although it seems very quiet here at home, alone – I am full of ideas and energy – so thank you friends!