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

 

Heart of the Forest: the April COM reveal for AJE

 When Rebekah of Tree Wing Studio posted these hearts – I was smitten. But silvery grey? Or copper? How to choose/ I am usually not so into hearts, but the wood texture on these appealed to my “woodland” inspired self. 

Tree Wing Studio hearts

Copper it is! So its a dryad inspired piece. That was a given. This popped into my head, almost complete: 

first stages

That is a stoneware cab of mine, with a polymer leafy surround. I wanted to create a tangle of vines to hang the heart. Should it be wire wrapped or seedbeads? Branch fringe? Seed beads won. 

Heart of the foret

It was all a bit freeform – in other words, I winged it. A drop here, a flower there… It IS a bit off center, but as her face is tilted it didnt bother me too much. 

And the back- I drilled small holes along the bottom edge so I could stitch and loop. As of right now she is a focal only, but I have a show this weekend and HOPE to have her finished to take along… 

Forest back view

Thank you for stopping by, please let me know what you think! And  take a tour of the other blogs – we have several guests and AJE team members participating this month! 

 Guests

 

 

Word Mojo Mixed Media Mayhem at Bead Fest Spring!

 Heaven! What a whirlwind. I am firmly entrenched in “catch-up-week” followed immediately with show-prep” fortnight. LOL. But I wanted to share the fun and success that was my mixed media “Word Mojo” class at Bead Fest Spring. 

Set up space

Set up the night before. Not only is 8:30 an early start time, I need to know its all ready so I can relax and get some sleep. 

student work space

I wanted the spots for students to be organized, and welcoming. I know I’d be thrilled to walk in to a spot already made ready for me… 

class samples

This is what we did – my samples. The original “Word Mojo” focals debuted on AJE in January 2014. From then til now, I have been refining the process and was thrilled it was accepted as a class. We were making molds and altering them at times, from antique (copyright free!) found objects. 

working!

Molds, polymer, paint, Oh MY! One student kept giggling spontaneously. She was having a blast! 

student work!

Some of the student work! (Sorry the picture is so off color. Wish I had taken more… )

There were shallow pieces with glaze and deeper pieces with resin: 

and now we wait.

 All in all – they were pleased and inspired. I’d call that a success!  

March Hares! The AJE Spring themed COM

 March Hares! Lunar Hares! 

This month at Art Jewelry Elements we are launching the first of our seasonal themed challenges. For Spring, and as a symbol of fertility and creativity, this month’s Muse is the Hare. As this is a totem of mine – inspiration was everywhere. 

 I had long wanted to try a hare portrait pendant, and really explore a more three dimensional face. So here is the first batch- its a deep mold, and as you can see by my fingers (below) rather large. The hare nose gets a little flattened since I am usually in a rush to pop them from the RTV mold and look. But the nose is easy to tweak and then each sculpt is a bit different. I like that variety from the original face. 

New hare design WIP

The two pictures directly above show steps in the painting/glazing process. Each hare took a long time – layering underglazes, highlights, accents all in a painterly fashion. The details are a bit more homogeneous when these earthenware hares are covered in clear glaze. Here are the first earthenware hares and their smaller porcelain counterparts:

earthenware vs porcelain

I think I prefer the size of the porcelain hares – so I can recast them to have a smaller mold. But I am intriqued by the porcelain possibilities. The studio where I work fires to ^10 – very hot, very durable for porcelain. This batch was too yellow (rutile) so the next batch will have more reds (iron oxides) to be sure! 

 This month – I was overwhelmed with hares I wanted to work with – let me show you a few: 

beaded moon hare

My lunar hare, set amidst the swirly stars and sky. This earthenware pendant broke while I was sanding the edges. I glazed it anyway… and I wasn’t sure why. But bead embroidery was the answer. I will finish this with a few wire wrapped gems and chain to complement the pendant but keep it simple. 

Patronus hare

My “Patronus” keychain Niky of Silver Niknats made this sweet lentil bead for me! I am assuming you are familiar with Patronus from Harry Potter? In a way its a person’s spirit animal, that manifests in a protection spell. For that reason I wanted to have this around more often than a bracelet, thought about hanging it in my car… and decided on a keyring. And yes – thats a Thea Elements metal clay charm from Lesley there at the end! Speaking of Lesley… 

Moon gazing hare WIP

Moon gazing hare necklace in progress – Oh I love this set. The moon gazing hare – I wanted to place the moon further up the necklace to create a bit of storytelling inthe piece. As you can see its not finished. I am using pearls, garnets, labradorite… all my favorites. This one will be hard to part with… and I need a dangle at the bottom. Stars? Leaf? Flowers? 

All in all its been a very creative month for me; some things completed, some hares just starting out. I was glad of a chance to focus on this theme as it clearly resonates with me. Please take a look at the creations of our guests and my fellow AJE teammates: 

AJE Team
 
Guests
Heather – Hidden Ridge Studio
Karin Grosset Grange – Ginko et Coquelicot
Michelle McEnroe ( 4 pieces pinned on  the AJE Pinterest page)

 

 

 

February COM reveal for Art Jewelry Elements

Time to reveal what I have been up to on those bitter cold days of February! Its nice and warm in my studio, coffee at hand, sleepy dog at my feet. 

The Component of the Month this month was a lovely metal clay piece by Melissa Meman. It is from a stamp she carved herself; and I received a copper one. I was immediately drawn to the holes – an element of the design AND they go all the way through. I was debating between bead embroidery or a mixed media piece, using the holes for stitching… 

I decided mixed media, and made a polymer piece to go behind and complement the metal clay. I imagined it with Swellegant patinas to replicate copper’s patina over time. Here is the result: 

COM and Plan 1

Everything went EXACTLY according to plan… and I didnt like it. I felt the background pattern was detracting from Melissa’s design. I had not addressed a bail. The stitching was great, but I cut it apart. Onward to plan B. 

MM mehndi

I cut Faux Bone in a shape that echoed the petal design in the metal clay. I was intending to stitch it too… but as the piece developed it was unnecessary. There are tube rivets at top and bottom to attach the metal clay disc and embellish the dangle area. I used alcohol ink on the FB. This is more pleasing to me aesthetically – the players support the lead now. 

MM Mehndi collage

The necklace is finished with a gentle asymetry. One side has larger gems, wire wrapped red and blue tiger’s eye. The smaller gems, sapphire quartz and blue calcedony, have copper bead cap accents and an additional strand of chain for visual interest and weight. 

Thanks to Melissa for a stunning original to create with this month! 

Check out the blogs for creative offerings from the AJE team and this month’s guests: 

AJE team: 

Jennifer Cameron 

Jenny Davies-Reazor

Susan Kennedy 

Melissa Meman

Rebekah Payne

Lindsay Starr 

Kristen Stevens

Francesca Watson

Lesley Watt    

Guest Participants:

Michelle Mach

Patty Miller

Divya N
 

 

 

 

 

Old is new again… rejuvenated shrines.

February is short and speedy. I realized that I hadn’t blogged yet all month, and I have a lot to share. This month my show opened at the Palette and the Page in Elkton, MD. We had a fabulous opening on First Friday! So many friends attended, old and new, and I thank you all! 

The timing of this show created a challenge for me. The ceramics studio where I work and fire larger pieces was closed from early December until the third week in January. I had started quite a few shrines, and some large sculptural figures… but it wasnt meant to be. I couldn’t get them dry/fired/glazed/fired in time. So I turned to some orphans I had waiting patiently in my studio. These are pieces that were perfect; no flaws or faults… but they hadn’t ever been completed with their interior elements. I was waiting inspiration, and this year it came! So I wanted to share a few of these with you. 

“Hope springs eternal”

B/F Hope Springs

It all started with the hare, a carved boxwood netsuke bead. The polymer egg is the work of Barbara Bechtel of Second Surf. From the hare and the egg, symbols of spring in many cultures, the rest fell in place. 

“Into the Woods”

Into the Woods

This was loosely inspired by the topic of Red Riding Hood and a discussion that occurred on Terri Windling’s blog. Terri is a Muse of mine, a fountain of folkore knowledge. The piece was carved with trees, intending to have a woodland theme. I sculpted polymer bread and a jug to go inside, referencing the items Red takes to Grandmother… 

And so you see – pieces that were waiting for me. This altar (below left) was a blank slate. I decided I wanted to hang elements, but hadn’t drilled holes before firing. The solution? Fabricate decorate wire hooks, or course. The bright butterfly piece shown below – that was dates 2011. The intense colors are not my usual palette, and it languished. But a polymer moth, hovering in from of a floral collage? Really visually pleasing to me… 

New shrines

Making the links

This piece is a personal favorite, a successful blending of techniques. I have been happily seed beading and adding bead embroidery to my jewelry repertoire. I want to make the wearables and the sculptures cohesive as my body of work. Beading the bottle element in this shrine adds a level of detail and color. It also makes connections to jewelry pieces displayed in the show. 

I hope people do get a chance to see the exhibit, which will remain up for this month. I am represented by the gallery, and do have other ceramic and mixed media pieces on display. Patti Paulus, one of the artist/owners created this wall for me. I was giddy! 

Gallery wall

The Palette and the Page: 

120 East Main Street ~ Elkton, Maryland
410.398.3636
Tuesday – Friday 11am-6pm  &  Saturday – 11am

Stay tuned for the next February update: February FunADay! 

 

 

 

 

 

The final AJE Component of the Month reveal… for 2014!

 

AJE COM Dec14

I hope you are all well and feeling fresh-faced, ready to tackle 2015. Personally I have “resolved” to do quite a few things… more on that in another post. 

I’ve spent the limbo week between Christmas travels and now doing some cleaning and organizing. Out with the old, etc. 

One piece of fabulousness from 2014 that needs to be attended to is the December Component of the month over at Art Jewelry Elements. We thought the timing would be best to start fresh with this reveal – showcasing a stoneware snowflake of Diana’s

Ornament WIP

Here is the scene: Mid December day. Fresh cuppa coffee in hand. Dog napping on bed in the studio. I sit down to work on gifts, and my COM… and there are flurries! The first of the year! Barely a dusting, didn’t even cover the grass. But I was feeling festive… 

Above is the work-in-progress shot as I planned my piece. Plexi on the left, a nickel silver banner from Beaducation, and a shrine window pair from Rings & Things. It all happened because I was so enjoying the flurries out my window… 

Sparkle winter ornament

The finished piece: 

  • Stamped and patina/tumbled banner
  • Window framing handmade paper with silver leaf flecks. Tube riveted. 
  • Loops of crystal and waxed linen at top. Seed bead loops with crystal at bottom. 

Sparkle in situ

I was going to hang it on the tree, but it was lost amidst the leaves. It hangs in the branches of my dryad sculpture – on the mantle behind me as I write this. I do think I will keep it out all winter long! I really enjoyed doing somehting not-clay, not-jewelry. It was a creative free-for-all, and very freeing. 

I have big plans for this year – stay tuned here. But for now:

Please check out the pieces created by my AJE teamates and our guests. Let’s ring in the new! 

Monthly Winners
 
AJE Blog Team

 

Deck the Halls! 2014 Ornament Swap is here!

ornament 2014 badge

This is a favorite swap hop of mine! 

Sally makes it festive, and keeps it small, personal. I was thrilled to get Patti’s name as my partner; we are ARTBliss friends! I sent her a silly survey, to keep our emaill conversation going, and to harvest a few ideas… 

And a silly Survey: 
1. Fav beverage. 
2. Fav color
3. If you won a million dollars you would_____
4. fav Xmas tradition/decoration. 
5. Last good book you read
 
I took some of her answers ( blue & green, coffee) and made this:  

felt for Patti

Inspired by winter window landscapes, when you sit inside, snug, with a furry kid at your feet, and coffee in your hands, watching the snow sparkle. The trees dusted with glitter, a cardinal bright in the evergreen… I was on a felt jag this year, after finishing a crazy complicated felt/sequined/beaded stocking for my 9 mo. old nephew. His first Christmas – so exciting! Well, there was more felt, and embroidery floss… So there you have it. 

Art beads: 
Porcelain Celtic knot by Caroline of BlueBerri Beads.
Lampwork red bird by Lori Lochner

 

And what did I receive, you ask? Gorgeousness!

ornament from Patti

It’s too cool for the tree. It needs its own place, and is right now hanging in the dining room window. Heavy, luxurious wire wrapped nest/wreath! Adorable house charm from Marla/Marlas Mud! Lampwork bluebird from Donna Millard. And an embellished hanger/hook… I tell you Patti has outdone herself – this may stay up all year! 

I’m sorry to be so brief today – I have presents to wrap… WAIT! I still have presents to finish making! And there are blogs to hop… please join us! The links of the partner/pairs are listed below. Happy Holidays everyone! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Runic Goddess – the September Component of the Month reveal

 September. I miss you. <sigh> 

September Component of the Month is brought to you by Kristi Bowman of Dream Some Design. The colors in this amulet are WOW! It is white copper, I believe, and the style says primitive talisman to me… I wanted to bring out the subtle tones of peach/honey and aqua. Not my usual palette so I am happy for the challenge! 

Runic Goddess

The linear and dot motifs helped guide me. I wanted to play up the linear quality, and decided to incorporate the wrapped chain links. They are copper and nickel parawire tumbled to a shiny finish. ( Thanks to Lesley for inspiration on these links.) The gems – jaspers and agates – repeat the dot/round motif nicely. 

Runic Goddess Sept CoM

I wanted to give the piece another layer of meaning and keep in the primitive style. ( I mean that in the best way, naturally). I decided to stamp runes into copper discs and intersperse them with the gems. (The runes are linear in nature as they were originally carved in stone. This makes them easy enough to stamp with letter stamps… no curves needed. )

rune detail

rune chart

“Jera” – Harvest: beneficial outcomes to your commited endeavor. Reap what you have sown. 
“Dagaz” – Breakthrough: Self transformation, change. 
“Sowelu” – Wholeness: the path you must follow; the core of your individuality. 

 

 I liked the meanings here. I thought that made for a powerful sentiment, a personal talisman. I would love to hear your thoughts as well… 

And dont miss the other pieces designed by my fellow Art Jewelry Elements team mates and this month’s guests! 

 

 

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…