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:

img_3702

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:

IMG_3718

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!

Back in time: my Celtic inspiration

 One last timehop, one last stop on the Beading Back in Time travel schedule. This final installment encourages artist to select their favorite time period. Mine will inevitably be Celtic, time and time again. For fresh inspiration, I grabbed a few books and a cup of coffee… started sketching. No pre-conceived idea, just browsing at first. 

celtic sketches

The crescent “lunula” shape has been on my mind for a while. Its a recurring motif in Celtic, Slavic, Russion cultures. As a lunar symbol it is associated with women. The moon rules ocean tides, and a woman’s tides. The moon, seen as female, embodies the stages of one’s life in the lunar stages – from Maiden to Mother, to wise Crone.

lunula references

Diagram of lunula pendants - I'm trying to translate the text from Russion, with Google's asistance... 

Blessington Lunula  Crafty Celts lunula

1. Gold lunula from Blessington, Ireland, Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age, c. 2400BC – 2000BC, Classical group ( from Wiki)
2. Lunula pendant in bronze from the Crafty Celts. "Lunula amulets date back to the end of the Bronze Age, and continued to be worn into modern times. They were common in Egypt as well as among many farming peoples of Europe and Asia and reflected the worship of the moon, which was associated with fertility. Earrings, pendants, metal details of headdresses, and other 
ornaments had the form of lunulae. Lunulae were especially widespread in Rus. in the tenth to 12th centuries."

I was contemplating doing a lunula pendant for myself in sterling, but time was not cooperating. The polymer was out… I was creating ornaments for my local gallery. These pieces – 2 styles – are polymer crescents with a hammered metal frame. The frame curls around, allowing a space to attach chain. I have stitched the small gems on with 26 gauge wire. I love using the tiny gems here – holes so small its hard to string them otherwise, but perfect in this application. 

my lunula pendants

The top pendant in cream and brown features the word “self” in the Celtic Ogham alphabet. This linear font was used for carving, and had many layers of meaning, among them trees and months of the year. I wanted an amulet – trust yourself. Take care of yourself. Center yourself. Have faith in yourself… it all comes back to “self”. The gems are green garnet. The blue lunula below incorporated sterling and aquamarine. This is more lunar to me, evocative of the Moon goddess – the three stars for her three aspects. 

I plan something simple to finish these, maybe just chain, or one wrapped gem each. I may make more, but these each feel personal to me, and I plan to keep them and wear them. 

Thanks for stopping by. I have thoroughly enjoyed the creative challenges of these historical “Back in time” hops. Thanks to Sheri and Lindsay for organizing! Please stop by the other blogs! A full list can be found at: Phantasm Creations

Until next time… 

 

 

 

For the love of lino…

 This week is brought to you from the Dining Room table, my new temporary studio. I am tending a furry kid, who needs darn near constant watching… as he worked long and hard, in stealth, to remove his sutures. He is an angel IF I am in the room. 

DR studio

I have been working on my daily art journal cards – the ones to fill my vintage Rolodex. And I have been carving linoleum. 

Lino desk

There are new Celtic and mythic designs in the works. These lino blocks can be pressed into clay to create a detailed, low relief tile. Perfect for painting! There above – the Uffingtom horse, an ancient chalk figure from Britain. Below: previously carved Celtic knot, swirly cresent moon, with a test print of sorts, and a small triskele, perfect for pendants. 

Love Lino collage

I have always loved linoleum printmaking. And this was a focus of mine in San Diego when my ceramcis studio access was severely limited. I have been incorporating linoleum carved designs into my beads/pendants for a while, but I had a wonderful lightbulb idea… to create prints and tiles in tandem. My original drawings, whether my designs, or historical references; pressed into clay, printed onto paper. Working in a series, different colors, maybe some hand tinted prints. The idea is very exciting to me! (I wont be able to take these to all my shows as some jury processes are more limiting than others… )

Pendant designs

A trio of Celtic designs, all under 2″. I want to test them in clay today! 

Uffington stamp

Working in parallel series – the Uffington horse. Pressed into clay the horse design will be raised, allowing me to easily glaze the background and keep the horse white. 

 

Ok – off to the studio, I mean the dining room. I love my job! Stay tuned for test prints and test pressings on the FB page ASAP!

 

Inspired by… A Rumor of Gems

This month’s “Inspired by Reading…” book group selection was “A Rumor of Gems” by Ellen Steiber

A Rumor of Gems

I had a feeling I would like this book. Gemstones appearing, magic and mystery, myth and legend come to life. These are motifs that have fueled my work and inspired me since I was a child, with renewed interest in Art School, studying on England, doing my own research… I expected the inspiration for a piece to come easily, and actually it did not… 

The book is quite engaging, filled with rich characters that have depth, revealing their secrets over time. The locale is both here and now, a city you can imagine readily, and a fantasy landscape of the imagination. I was  drawn into the story, and thoroughly enjoyed it…  

When I finished the book – I had little time remaining with which to design and create a piece. Where to start? I was drawn to the moonstone as it’s one of my favorite stones and I have a lovely cabochon waiting for a setting. But that was to easy for me, too clear cut and evident.  I try to truly challenge myself when I am doing a blog hop, an event like this. It becomes my time to experiment, to play, and to be free of the constraints of shows, schedules, inventory. To make a piece for myself – whether it is a success or not… 

The scene I found to be the most evocative was Alasdair in the Womb of the Mothers. I was thrilled to read the names of so many goddesses, with respect and reverence. They were represented as many faces of the archetypal Maiden/Mother/Crone goddess. I work with the feminine divine frequently in my artwork, surely my inspiration would come from this scene? I have a stellar piece of lapis – as Alasdair gave his personal lapis life stone to the Cat Goddess. But my Muse was silent. 

So I went back to the beginning: 

“Alasdair left the apartment at midnight, well into Hekate’s hours. She was present tonight. He had felt her from the moment the sun sank beneath the horizon, had seen her in the waning crescent of the moon, had heard her owls calling from the hills… And it made sense that she’s be comfortable here. The city was , after all, a crossroads of sorts, and she is a goddess of crossroads.” (page 25)

This was the first goddess reference in the book, and it was exciting to me… It set the tone of myth and magic come alive, of scholarly fact interwoven into the fiction of the tale. This – Hekate – was my inspiration. 

 Hekate and Cerebus

Hekate & Cerberus, Apulian red-figure krater
C4th B.C.

Hekate

Hekate is the goddess of the night, the moon, the Underworld, and magic. She is the dark moon, and with Artemis (Maiden) and Selene (Mother) makes up the Triple Goddess. (She is partnered with Persephone and Demeter in the same way). This three fold nature continues in Hekate’s associations with crossroads where 3 roads meet, and with seeing the past, present, and future. Crossroads are liminal areas, areas of transition; Hekate governs life, birth and death. She welcomes souls to the Underworld, yet carries a torch to light the way to the future. One of her symbols is a key – to unlock inner mysteries. 

The key and her role as the goddess of the Dark moon, the crone, the wise woman… was where my inspiration lay. I chose to use a large black labradorite stone – as a stone was essential based on the book – and this stone evoked the dark moon. 

black labradorite 

Hekate pendant

I sculpted a polymer pendant – three cornered for Hekate’s crossroads. The stone is set with a wire staple and then an additional polymer bezel.  It bears the marks of stars for her mother – the Titan Asteria (Star). and is crowned with 2 crescents to represent the other aspects of the Triple Goddess. A key dangles from the bottom of the pendant. The polymer is hand painted, and finished with Gilders paste for a subtle sheen. 

I plan to finish this with a necklace of gems. Moonstone, labradorite, hematite, pearls, garnet perhaps – but there was no time… 

pendant with key

gems ideas

William Blake's Hekate

“The Night of Enitharmon’ Joy” (aka The triple Hekate) by William Blake. 1795. Pen and ink, watercolor on paper. 

This is one of the iconic Art History images I always associate with the goddess Hekate. 

 

Thank you for reading my ramblings! I am sorry I did not get the piece done – I am very happy with the results – this one is for me although I may make another similar version. Please check in on my colleagues and freinds who are also participating! It should be a very inspired and inspiring selection this month after such a good read! 

Mary K. McGraw http://mkaymac.blogspot.com/
Mary Harding http://maryhardingjewelrybeadblog.blogspot.com/
Jenny Davies Reazor http://www.jdaviesreazor.com/blog/
Judy Campbell http://www.macmillanmarie.blogspot.com/
Jeanne Billeci Steck
Andrew Thornton, Laurel Ross, Terri Greenawalt http://andrew-thornton.blogspot.com/ 

Participants will also be listed here. 

 

Resources: 

Theoi

A-muse-ing Grace Gallery ( The Art of Thalia Took)

Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

The goddess and the lunar hare

Faux Bone – just what the name implies, a relatively new material, related to PVA plastic, yet non toxic and high quality. It was launched on the market by Robert Dancik, and I have had it on the workbench for months! Wanting to try shaping, sanding, carving, impressing, staining… this versatile material. So here is the first attempt: 

Faux bone goddess

The ceramic oval on the left is my goddess/poppet. To me She is the self, the soul, the creative muse, the feminine divine. Her shape is inspired by Cycladic idols and other ancient sculpture. I wanted to see her in faux ivory of a sort. The copper acts as a structural base for the piece, the dark rich patina of the copper setting off the subtle tones in the FB. From a design sense it serves as a halo, and allows holes at hands (for attachment to a necklace) and feet ( gemstone dangle, of course!)

Cycladic idol  Nile Goddess (Left: Cycladic Idol, app. 2500 BCE. Right: Nile Goddess, app 3500 BCE)

I was happy with how she turned out, although I am still considering giving her breasts… I turned my focus next to me second favorite of my ceramic pendants – the lunar hare. The  hare is a bit of a totem animal for me, and I am greatly inspired by the many myths of the moon hare. From so many cultures, so diverse, yet illustrating a commonality…

Lunar hare

The crescent on the right – is polymer clay. I was baking some other pieces for the Blue Hen and I made a few crescents to test. While i like the sculptural possibilities – this one is too bulky. I think Faux bone will work best here, too. Other things in progress: 

Copper and nickel silver windows/ frames. Images are sandwiched under mica, tube rivets, stamped words… This was a direct inspiration from Melissa Manley – and although she wasn’t the first to ever use this technique – it is only proper, and respectful to give credit. (Her work is amazing, and I am happy to have studied with her, and to call her a friend. ) The piece on the far left: “Such stuff as dreams are made on…” quoted from “The Tempest” – houses an image of Miranda from a painting by my favorite, John Williams Waterhouse

copper frames pendants

The piece on the right is a bit different. It is carved wood, housing a collage. The collage is set in a plastic lens and resin. The front image is an Irish stamp, copper, and the word ‘Journey’. The back: 

MM bird back

It is an idea I am experimenting with – crating sculptural frames for collage/lens. My text, as always, is from 200+ year old books. It is a meditation of sorts, to thumb through the yellowing pages, eyes flitting and darting, until the right words present themselves to me. Words I would not have chosen; phrases I would not have composed…

I would love to hear your thoughts, out there in the ether. Do you have a personal talisman? A totem animal?