Flowers – the Art Elements theme challenge for July

I left for Wales as the month began… on a trip with family that was part heritage tour and part vacation. ( In depth Wales posts are coming shortly.) I kept flowers in my mind as I was touring castles, exploring old seaside villages, hiking in the national parks…. It was an amazing transformative trip, and I will be feeling and seeing the creative effects of it for a long time coming.

But after returning home, and catching up on sleep, laundry, household chores… there was very little of July left for me. I offer you some works in progress for this month – inspired by the theme.

The first showcases these vintage glass pieces. I do not know anything about their original purpose – but when I saw them – I saw frames. ( Sadly there was a blue one too. The set of 4 made me think – 4 elements. I was only able to procure these three.) They have no holes or fasteners/bails of any kind. What do you think they were?

After sorting through many folders of vintage and antique papers ( did you see my post on my paper class with Keith LoBue?) I found some images in the right scale. Two were antique cigarette cards, the other an image from children’s illustrated encyclopedia. ( Yes – mine form my early childhood) I added gesso to the images outside the window area to cloud the colors – I didn’t want them showing through the glass.

Above you can see the copper piece engineered to fit the glass. I had not picked up the jewelry saw in months? a year? and it was so wonderful to be back at the bench pin! Below you can see the piece assembled – well, how it will be.

Currently – the images are drying – a coat of Diamond glaze to protect them. And the copper is in the tumbler – left bright, no patina. I plan to add 3 jump rings from the top arch/bail to add the connection point, and a little movement.

These pieces – when done – will be available for purchase at Bead Fest!

I have missed seed beading in all my travels this month – so I prepared a bead piece, wanting to sit and chill and bead. Well, you can see how far I got:

Labradorite and Lisa Peters cab. Waiting patiently on the bead table.

I hope you have had a wonderful July – whether you traveled or not…

For now – please enjoy a bit of armchair travel as you visit the blogs of my team mates and our guests. Thank you Marsha for a fertile theme, where I am sure many ideas have taken root !

Here is a list of our Visiting Artists:
Alysen
Cat
Divya
Evie and Beth
Jill
Hope
Kathy
Linda
Louise
Martha
Melissa
Michelle
Rozantia
Sarah
Sarajo
Tammy

And our Art Elements Blog Contributors:
Caroline
Cathy
Claire
Jenny ( you are here)
Laney
Lesley
Marsha
Susan

Of land and sea: the Selkie reveal for Art Elements.

This month I dove into a subject I adore for the theme challenge at Art Elements blog: selkies. While this month was full of travel, shows, and just life! I have two creations to share. And I am beyond excited to see what my friends ant team mates have created! But first? A guest artist:

In my original post I shared an artist’s doll by Ellen Paquette. Ellen has joined us here to talk of her fabric sculptures and her inspirations!

Selkie in traditional Scottish costume.

I can’t remember exactly when my fascination with selkies and their related folklore set in. It’s certainly an obsession deeply tied to my love of seals and Celtic folklore. By my early 20s I was painting selkies, gathering as much written matter about them as I could, and watching for seals anytime I was near coastline where they could be found, especially on some serendipitous trips to Scotland, which is truly my heart home.

I’ve sewn since a very young age, and experimented with constructing dolls, puppets and fabric creatures and their clothing and accessories throughout childhood. In addition, a love of historic clothing and much time spent doing theatrical costuming made the fact that I would eventually decide to design a selkie who would fit inside her sealskin inevitable. Creating selkie dolls is a miniature manifestation of some of my favorite aspects of creative sewing. 

The sealskin is constructed from upholstery weight plush fabric which I line with a satiny cloth. The pattern for the seal is something I designed through a process of much trial and error. The doll body is a design which I arrived at after much tweaking of a tiny doll pattern I found in a vintage doll making  book in the local library. I scaled the design to result in a doll that is about 13″ tall. A simple method for constructing a yarn wig for the doll was a helpful technique I also gleaned from this book.

The dolls are customizable, from hair and eye color to sealskin color to style and color scheme of clothing. I offer a traditional Scottish costume, as well as a “from the sea” costume, which I like to style as if the selkie has come ashore and had to create something wearable out of whatever bits of fabric and net she could find. Tiny details which I love to add are beading, jewelry, shells, and seaweedy yarn embellishments. The faces are hand drawn and painted, using a combination of fine point ink pen, colored pencil and acrylic paint. 

From the sea costume.

Each selkie asserts her own personality as she evolves, and the process involves a considerable amount of intricate hand sewing. I’ve made male and youth selkies as well. The fact that so much is customizable to the customer’s wishes makes each selkie utterly unique when she is slipped into her sealskin and launched to her new home.

You can find Ellen and her selkies online at www.ellenpaquette.com & theweebeasties.etsy.com
Thank you for joining us Ellen!

For me? My inspiration came this month in the form of “fish leather”. My friend Lisa Peters Russ ( Lisa Peters Art) has begun importing – and each skin is more beautiful than the last. Seeing them – and dreaming up ideas happened at Bead and Button recently. (Learn more at Art Elements blog on July 1 as I interview Lisa! )

That silver spotted wolffish said SELKIE all over it.

This scrap of wolffish made itself. With its organic shape and irregular edge it was the perfect size for an amulet pouch. I was thinking of a pouch a selkie might wear… in the deep or on land… but that has a watery element to it.

I stitched a soft leather to the back, leaving a flap to hang over. I debated a closure, but did not wan to detract from the skin pattern. The sides are embellished with beaded dangles – I even used the (dreaded!) C-lon thread for more drape. Shells, labradorite and sea urchin spikes – treasures from the deep. The cord is a simple loose braid of sari silk.

With a larger piece of the same type skin, I was envisioning the actual drape of a selkie’s skin. I wanted to try wetting and molding the fish leather. ( Note from Lisa – this works best with the scale free texture of the wolffish. ) Here is the finished selkie sculpture:

My polymer figure was a challenge. I strove to truly sculpt the face, building up the planes and facial features. But the scale was challenging. She has inset onyx eyes – a visual link to her seal self. Her skin is soft ivory, sage, grey… definitely adding to her otherworldly appearance. I am not completely happy with her face – and find her a bit to aged and severe. I do like the contrast and the flow of the composition – from beads to leather to larger shell.

The fish leather looked SO different wet – and dried to its same finish. Here is the WIP shot where. pinned the wet leather in place to dry in the folds and undulations.

The entire piece will be displayed in an old wooden drawer – that may get a darker stain – or may get sanded back a little for a more weather ed wood look. What do you think?

I am so excited to see the ideas and creations of my Art Element team mates and our blog guests! Thank you all for joining me on this mythic journey this month! Please take a look around via the links below!

Guests: Paisleylizard.com/blog

Anordinarymiracleday.wordpress.com     

Ebbeadandmetalworks.blogspot.com

Bay-moon-design.blogspot.com


AE team: Lesley

Jen

Caroline

Claire

Laney

Cathy

Niky

Lindsay

Jenny ( you are here)

The Art Elements Rune reveal

Welcome to our last official COM here at Art Elements! Starting next month we are moving to monthly themed challenges. We felt this was expanding the option, invigorating out creativity and opening the door to so many mediums!

This final COM is stunning metal clay runes made by Niky Sayers. I had the good fortune of meeting Niky in London and receiving mine personally!

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Niky’s runes are cast from her own hand made personal set, and based on the Elder Futhark. These symbols were originally carved in wood and stone, and their straight lines reflect that context. Elder Futhark was a runic alphabet used by Norse and Germanic peoples from approximately the 2nd – 8th centuries. ( styles changed, runes evolved, and continued to be used….) Runes are recorded in sources such as the Poetic Edda as being used for inscriptions and talismans.

In the 1980’s Ralph Blum published and popularized the runes as a system of divination. I have long been a fan of Tarot cards, as an inspirational and oracular device. But runes were never my go to, and I enjoyed this chance to start working with them.

The first rune I selected to work with is URUZ, meaning “aurochs”. It’s traditional meaning is “Physical strength and speed, untamed potential. A time of great energy and health. Freedom, energy, action, courage, strength, tenacity, understanding, wisdom. Sudden or unexpected changes…” Immediately I saw a Phoenix, as working with the runes coincided with a New Moon journal spread I was planning. ( And yes – this means I still have this actual rune to use in a piece of jewelry!)

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The dark moon was done in watercolor pencils and crayons. I wanted to leave a hint of a triple spiral there in purples and black. The Phoenix was drawn in pencil and inked with fine marker. The color was very satisfying to do- many layers and colors blended using Derwent watercolor pencils.

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I was a bit disappointed with the background. I used a student grade liquid watercolor and it feels a little flat, a little blah to me. Such is the nature of an art journal: experimentation, risks, and play.

The second rune I selected was EHWAZ, meaning horse. It’s traditional meaning is: movement/ progress, steady progress, transit and transition. When thinking “horse” I immediately think of the Uffington chalk figure, and I was seeing landscapes in my mind’s eye from my recent trip to visit Lesley in Dorset. This idea evolved quite naturally, involving polymer and felt…

I wet felted two abstracted landscapes in a palette of greens:

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The rune will be affixed to the frame at center top. The felted tapestry inside, and an image of the Uffington horse to float above, suspended on fine gauge copper chain.

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This is the work in progress so far – I am seeing a few changes I want to make. I want to create another felt tapestry and play up the copper color from the rune itself. I think I will add a thin layer of white acrylic paint on the frame, a white wash of a sort, to lighten the piece. And yes – that is a rogue hair from my paintbrush. Oops. I am happy with my overall design plan – but need to tweak the palette a little. What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts…

And I look forward to seeing the creations from my team mates and our guests this month:

Guests:

Kelly Rodgers

Deb Fortin

Art Element Members:

Laney Mead

Lesley Watt

Caroline Dewison

Jenny Davies-Reazor

Susan Kennedy

Cathy Spivey Mendola

Jennifer Stout Cameron

Claire Fabian

Lindsay M Starr

Niky Sayers

Planes, Trains… or postage stamps?

 

I am an Anglophile. To those that know me that comes as no surprise. I lived in London for a semester in college and it was the most formative impactful period in my life. My husband and I went to the UK on holiday for our honeymoon and my 40th birthday. (That was a surprise, too. I have never happy cried so hard!)

My work is deeply, fundamentally inspired by my Celtic heritage, by folklore and fairy tale, by myth and magic. And every so often I try to “cross the pond”. You may know I also write for a fabulous blog called Art Elements. My team mate and friend Lesley has invited me to visit and have an art retreat of sorts. ( We have done the same here at my house the last few years). So in an effort to raise the necessary funds – I have created these pieces. This year is the Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee – what better way to raise funds and nod in respect to Queen Liz than there?! The stamps come from my childhood stamp collection – and may go even further back to my  Dad’s collection.

The pendants are double sided – the back included UK map sections. Maps taken from the Encyclopedia Britannica atlas from my childhood! They are going to be listed on Etsy as soon as I finish here… and while sold as pendants with my fellow creators and designers in mind…. can easily be made into a pendant with a gemstone angel for a small additional fee. If you are interested in supporting me and my travel fund – please check them out! I am designating 100% of the sea of these pieces to my travel fund!

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Convo me if you want a necklace with gemstone dangle! 

April is for Amulets! The AJE reveal

 Amulet beads

This month over at Art Jewelry Elements I was very excited to share my new polymer amulet beads. They are vessels – hollow and completely functional. I wanted to see how people addressed this, and what they inspired in our team and guests. See that one in the picture below with a labyrinth? That one is mine! 

More beads

I knew right away I wanted a way to have a scroll inside – that would be removeable and hold a secret ( or shared) message. I fabricated the copper V shape to act as a bail of sorts, allowing the vessel to hang. But then what? The labyrinth is a very evocative symbol to me – of journeys, of life, of the twists and turns of fate. So after pondering a while I decided to stamp words… 

my vessel

“I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading: It vexes me to choose another guide.” Emily Bronte

my own nature

That seemed perfect for a piece about journeys, and amulet, to be worn near the heart, a personal talisman. Labradorite, apaptite, green garnet – all pulling out the cool tones in teh polymer amulet bead. Its long – hangs down to my stomach; I knew it would be whan I selected that quote! The scrill is a piece of resin paper, very organic and fiber-y. No message as of yet – we will see what note I want to leave for myself! 

My journey amulet

Thanks for stopping in – and please take a look at the other offerings this month!
Guests: 
Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio
Alison of Alison Adorns
Jess of The Copper Cat
Brooke from Artistic Endeavors
 
AJE Team: 
Lesley 
Caroline 
Niky 
Jennifer
Diana
Lindsay
Susan
Jenny

Journal 52 – one week at a time

Journal table

I have three work tables in my “clean” studio. This year one of them is designated the journal space. I have tried unsuccessfully many years running to put a consistent daily/weekly art journal practice in place. I have tried loose papers, even vintage Filofax cards. This year I signed up for a FREE challenge – called “Journal 52“. Run by the dynamic duo of Effy WIld and Sarah Trump – I recieve a themed prompt once a week. Two actually – so you have options. There’s a FB group for sharing and building community. I love it. And I am happy to say I am consistent, and consistently loving it.  

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The whole art journal thing for me is play and practice. A chance to doobde, to recontitute my dried up, forlorn drawing skills, to try new media and techniques, to get messy and push paint around… all with the caveat that NO ONE HAS TO SEE IT. Or I can share if I desire. The freedom to play and produce work for me, for my soul, from my soul… with no show deadline. Its refreshing and joyous.  

journal montage2

 

True self

I am a little behind as I was away last week – but the weekly prompts are so good I look forward to catching up… 

Stay tuned for more as the year progresses! 

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… 

 

 

 

Raven’s Knowledge: the Art Jewelry Elements October reveal

ravens banner

 Welcome and Happy Halloween! 

Its reveal day at Art Jewelry Elements, and this month was a Raven themed challenge, hosted by Karen. ( Check out our raven posts here and here!) I have long loved ravens whether they are in Celtic and Norse myth – or the Tower of London… This month I was feeling the need to spread my wings a bit and I have done some raven themed artwork outside of the jewelry realm! 

I wanted to sculpt ravens in polymer and incorporate them into a felt/beaded/mixed media piece. So here goes: 

wet felting in situ

The wet felting and coffee counter space! I’m new to this, so my book is to my left. The bottom pictures show the wool roving laid out, and after the first stages of felting. The combination of water, soap and agitation creates the felting action. 

blank slates

These three are the results of that afternoon felting session. I was trying to estimate shrinkage, which can be a third or so. The larger piece wa too big – the others were just right. 

ready to bead

Here they are with their ravens! 

felting lunch

Last week I had a work/lunch/date with Marsha. ( You know her from Marsha Neal Studio, but she is also now working at Sarafina Fiber Arts.) I sat down to embellish and bead my ravens and Marsha generously shared some of the equisite dyed curly locks from Sarafina. She was needle felting/sculpting great little gnome guys. And Peeves the cat was her normal charming feline self. 

Raven's knowledge

This one was complete with the curly/silky locks. No beads needed. I did add an antique button to anchor the piece and address a transition on the embellishments. This will be mounted and framed… how? I’m not sure yet. It was still a little too large for the IKEA frames I had. Like I said – calculating guessing shrinkage. 

Ravens detail

So the second piece was destined for beads! I had taken all this to Texas with me when I went to visit family earlier in the month. Hadn’t touched it at all… I used vintage rose montees, bugle beads, O beads, drops, you name it. I do find the irridescent dark beads rather hard to photograph. I was pleased with the shapes in the felt, and being able to position the polymer raven to echo those shapes. 

Raven flight

Now – not to leave jewelry behind totally – I already have existing designs for 2 raven pendants and a newer crow design. (You can read about the crow glazing process here.) I decided to try a few new designs – and haven’t actually gotten further than the molds! On the left is a very Pacific NorthWest/Native American style raven. It will have fine line details carved into the clay, and be glazed in a high contrast decorative style. On the right is a larger piece, inspired by the myths in which Raven stole the sun. I look forward to trying these in ceramic clay AND in polymer. 

new designs and molds

Oh drat! There is ONE more raven design – still in a plaster mold at the work studio! I will update you ASAP!

This was a great theme, rich in multicultural connections and fabulous inspiration. I feel like I have barely gotten started and the month is over! Stay tuned for more ravens – and until then please take a look at the other diverse offerings created this month! 

Guest links and AJE team links will be available at Art Jewelry Elements blog

Fall is in the air! The September COM reveal

 The windows are open. The soundtrack is crickets, Canadian geese… and while flowers are still blooming, Fall is definitely in the air. 

Its time for the Component of the Month reveal at Art Jewelry Elements. This month the fall themed piece is a ceramic oak leaf and acorn from Linda Landig. She offered a diverse palette in warm tones, but this sage speckled green called my name. When it arrived the orange stumped me. Its not a color I work with often, and this glaze was a coral/orange color. I’d recently had the pleasure of an intro needle felting experience with Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio... and there was this pumpkin color wool that I had picked up as scrap… Umm… I think its time to wet felt! 

COM materilas

Here is Linda’s original (finger for scale reference…) and my felted piece – back and front. I have done small scale welt felting before – thanks to the uber talented Cooky Schock. Its so like painting that it speaks to my inner colorist, and draws on my painting experience. There is an element of random for me – while others may have more mastery of the material, I can sort of get it to do what I imagine… The felt turned out great! I wanted to bead it, and create a small mixed media hanging piece. Here’s my end result: 

COM in situ

I hung it there between my closet and my new bead tower in the studio. It may stay there! Here are some details of the beaded embellishments: 

COM details

The stamped text translated as “bright autumn” in Gaelic. I love text, but sometimes using other languages is more interesting to me, adding a mystery element and keeping the text a visual first. I chose Gaelic as a nod to the Celtic language of trees. The oak stands for strength, courage, perseverance… Ironically the twig I used is a cottonwood twig from New Mexico. I am very pleased with how it turned out, and have to thank Linda for the incentive to try wet felting again! After this I did a shadowbox shrine showcasing one of Lesley’s foxes! 

With glittering eyes

(Sorry for the bad pix. It was a quick snap as I dropped it off for a fibers show at the local gallery.)

I’d love to hear what you think! And the guests and AJE team is listed below! Please take a look at their creations as well! 

Guests
Carolyn Lawson
Alice Peterson
Diana Ptaszynski

 

 

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