Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas in L.A. and More Mixed Media

Hope you have been having a wonderful Holiday! Much fun was had by all when we went to Los Angeles to celebrate Christmas with my brother-in-law, his wife, and their three children. The four cousins caught up on play time (with some major negotiations being made over taking turns with the new Christmas toys), while adults drank, dined and had some great conversations. 

A cousin train led by my Brother-in-law.

My sister-in-law made a delicious ice box pie.
Upon our return, I got back to work on my Of Towers and Turrets workshop lesson about building towers on top of my painted background. I did not like my original background, so I painted a layer of white plus Gesso to cover it up and begin again. I ended up with more purple tones (purple being one of my favorite colors). I am equal parts worried and excited about the next lesson, which is adding a face to the image.

We have another trip coming up, but I will be back to normal posting once 2012  is underway. Until then, I am wishing each of you a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Love Affair with Miriam Haskell Jewlery

My work for Of Towers and Turrets continues. I have been slightly sidelined by back problems (again!). However, I should be back to painting and building my mixed media backgrounds tomorrow.
Some of my work. Don't these remind you of Sari fabric?
If you have been following my posts, you will know that I have been continuing to discern my jewelry-design style. One thing that I am certain of is my deep adoration for the designs of Miram Haskell. Actually, the designs have had five different designers from the 1920s until the present day. Haskell's business began in 1926 as a gift shop in the McAlphin Hotel in New York City.*

I just used a gift card toward the purchase of a book entitled, Miriam Haskell Jewelry by Cathy Gordon and Sheila Pamfiloff. What a feast for the eyes! I love the slightly over the top pairing of strongly colored beads with gold tone metals. Plus lots of sparkle to satisfy my need for bling.

The blue beads cascade over gold findings. This picture is from Miriam Haskell Jewelry.
Haskell's designs are extremely popular, and some original pieces fetch a lot of money in the present day market. The enduring demand for Haskell pieces is a reflection of strong style and technique. Of course, I think there is also a strong element of nostalgia to purchasing or viewing her jewelry- like afternoons spent looking through my Great Aunt or Grandmother's jewelry boxes.

*Information on the History of Miriam Haskell Designs comes from Miriam Haskell Jewelry  by Cathy Gordon and Sheila Pamfiloff.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Of Towers and Turrets

Mixed media and mixed metal? Could I ask for a better combination? I think not.

The first half of the Of Towers and Turrets workshop focuses on the mixed media/collage elements. We eventually use these skills to create collage images that we encase into hand crafted pendants. This will include making our own bezels- a technique I have been very curious about learning.

My palette today.
Today, I worked on some of the background elements for collages. All of this work with paper is really bringing back memories of my scrapbooking past. Vellum writers and brands like Sakura are all extremely nostalgic for me!

I got this texture by painting over/through burlap.
Although it is sort of trendy, and at times I wonder if it is overdone, I really do love doing mixed media work. I have been trying to think through ways I can make mixed media pieces that express what might be my unique style.

Speaking of style . . . my sister-in-law, Karen, promises to help me figure out what my style is and to construct a style guide while we are in Los Angeles for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Soldering Along

As I posted previously, I have been trying out a soldering technique new to me. After choosing an image and cutting it to size, I sandwich it between glass and wrap it in copper foil tape. I brush on gel flux, and then use a soldering iron and solder to create a framed metal charm.

I am doing a lot better than my former attempt. I finally understand the amount of heat I need from my particular soldering iron. I also finally have figured out the way I need to hold the iron against the charm and let the solder melt and flow on the surface of the copper tape.

Images from antique Holy Cards
However, as you can see, I still used a bit too much solder. I was using a lot less than before, and thought it was the right amount, but I guess a tiny bit goes a long, long way.

Keep an eye out for upcoming posts about the online workshop, Of Towers and Turrets, that begins in two days. I am enrolled and the workshop has a very strong mixed media element to it that I am anxiously anticipating.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Copper Mine Field

Today I wanted to try out a new technique. It involves sandwiching an image between two pieces of glass, lining that glass with copper foil, and then using a soldering iron to seal the copper. I love the look of these types of charms and pendants and was very curious about trying to construct one.

I cut the image from a photocopied, antique Holy Card, then wrapped it in copper foil. 
First, this technique uses an soldering iron, not a torch. An iron uses lower temperatures than a torch and is commonly used in stained glass art. You still apply solder and flux to the copper tape before soldering with a hot iron.

Here I use my soldering tweezers to hold the piece before soldering.
Yikes! A very bad soldering job.
As you can see, my soldering turned out very badly! I believe part of my problem may be figuring out the correct temperature to have my iron set to. Sigh. I am determined to figure this out, though, and vow to try this again this weekend. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas is Coming

We put up our Christmas tree today. We all love trimming the tree, and Liam especially enjoys being the one to put on almost every ornament. He also loves helping with the lights as well. I always play Christmas Carols as we add our many sentimental decorations to the tree.

I was also very excited because an art piece I ordered arrived today. I used some money I received as a Birthday gift to purchase some beautiful art by Karen Downs. She was in my Build Zone  jewelry making workshop, and I fell in love with her unique fused glass art as soon as I laid eyes on it. I suppose the fact that she tends to focus a lot on Madonna and Child subject matter may have something to do with my attraction!

I now have her piece in a window in my studio. It looks like it was made for that very space. Now, if that isn't inspiration, I do not know what is!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wrapped Fabric Bead

The weather outside is frightful! Hovering a few degrees above freezing, and rainy. On days like this, when mother nature seems indecisive, I would just prefer snow. The Georgia mountains to our North are supposed to get some snow as the evening progresses, but just what they term a "wintery mix" here in the city.

Don't these beads remind you of snow?
I was excited to have time for one of my Build Zone workshop lessons today. Using recycled sari silk, I created a wrapped bead. I added seed beads randomly as I wrapped the fabric with wire. I really like this technique, which I had never tried before. When I saw beads like this before, I thought it might be more difficult to achieve the spacing of the seed beads, but you just periodically add beads as you wrap and they remain in place.

Hope you all are keeping warm out there as winter tries to come early.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I hope all my lovely readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a house full with extended family like my mother, sister, and in-laws. Aside from your standard turkey, we had apple-raisin stuffing, sweet potato casserole, corn bread, mashed potatoes and turnip greens.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I have been chomping at the bit to get back into my jewelry studio. Deryn Mentock and Sharon Tomlinson are now offering another online workshop called Of Towers and Turrets.  Since we are also doing a lot of Christmas shopping, I was not sure if it was really in our budget. However, my very supportive husband (enabler??) told me I should definitely enroll. So I did.

I am definitely looking forward to getting back to both blogging and jewelry!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tea Box Swap Reveal

I am very excited to give you an update on the fun altered tea box swap I was a part of. My partner, Tammy, and I asked one another a few questions to have a better feel for our personalities and what we might enjoy receiving in our boxes.  Then we got to work!

Here are some pictures of the box I altered for Tammy. In retrospect, I feel like I should have added more ephemera to the lid.

Here is what the inside looked like. 

And here are some of the goodies inside! 

Here is the beautiful box I received in exchange:

 This butterfly detail is one of my favorite elements of the box.

Look at all the fun it is packed with!

Thank you, Wanda, at Mixed Media Art for being the hostess with the mostess! Thanks to my partner Tammy, and the ladies at Mixed Media Art for such a fun experience.

I have a full house for Thanksgiving, so I will not be posting for another week.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Altered Tea Box Swap

I belong to a mixed media website called Mixed Media Art. As part of one of the forums there, I am taking part in an altered tea box swap. (For an example of an altered tea box, click here). We take an empty tea box and alter it, then fill it with goodies for our swap partners.

My starting point . . .
I am all done with mine, but cannot post until my swap partner receives it. I will definitely be posting pictures in my altered tea box "big reveal," as well as reporting on what I received- so keep those eyes of yours peeled!

In other craft news, my son, Liam, is obsessed with weaving potholders using a plastic loom kit. Often when a woman my (very young!) age sees him with it, she immediately lights up with a big smile and tells me stories of how much she loved weaving pot holders with a very similar kit. I would imagine this would have been kits sold in the late 70s and early 80s. For some reason, even though I think I did almost every craft known to man, I have no memory of doing this weaving one.

Do any of you have memories of using a kit like this?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Finding Time for Jewelry (and Maybe Some Icons)

Lately, I have been feeling frustrated and a bit unsure about whether I truly have the time I will need to devote to selling my jewelry, or if this will just be a craft for pleasure alone. My husband travels a lot for his job (not to mention his additional full time job volunteering for various church activities *wink*). This leaves me flying solo more than the average mother.
Public Domain Image from Wikimedia Commons
Because I work part time, I thought I would have more than enough time when my son Liam is at school to craft to my heart’s content. However, I guess I forgot that I also need time to maintain our house, cook, clean some more, plan meals, run errands, hem clothes, make lunches and organize Liam’s back back/homework, oh, and, make sure there are clean clothes. Between all this and work, I have been dropping many of the balls I juggle and keep falling behind in the workshop I am taking.

What works for all of you out there in terms of balancing work and family obligations with crafting time?

In other news, I am excited to receive a copy of the book, A Brush With God: An Icon Workbook  to learn a bit more about the process behind painting Icons in the more traditional Byzantine style. I have been extremely curious about trying out Icon painting and know it follows a specific formula. So, I will probably be posting more about this as well soon! 

Icon pictures public domain images from Wikipedia Commons

I look forward to hearing about the ways you all manage your time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Check out the Feature article and Giveaway featuring my Sister-in-Law's Ornaments!

My sister-in-law was interviewed and her awesome Etsy ornament line is featured for a giveaway at Thompson Family-Life Product Feature, Interview & ...:

Definitely check out the interview and fun giveaway!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mary's Graces: New Give Away from Deb at Geckostone

There is another beautiful giveaway going on at my Etsy Team blog. Check it out!

Photo courtesy of Marys Graces Blog.

Mary's Graces: New Give Away from Deb at Geckostone: A beautiful 3x5 embellished print of her original watercolor called 'Mary of the Earth.' Deb says this..... " I did manage to finally fini...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Absence

I realize I have been absent from posting for more than a week, which I really hate. First, I was distracted by my in-laws visiting. Then my son, Liam, celebrated his 8th Birthday with a spies and sleuths themed party here at our home.

Finally, my students have turned in their final projects, and I have been in a grading frenzy. On top of that, I have been plagued by a bit of a cold. Let's just say I have fallen behind in both my blog and Build Zone Workshop commitments!

However, I am eagerly looking forward to catching up this coming week. I have greatly missed working on jewelry.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mary's Graces: Give Away hosted by Holly at FoodForTheSoul

Hi all! The giveaway deadline for my Etsy Team's giveaway was extended to October 21, so check it out!

Mary's Graces: Give Away hosted by Holly at FoodForTheSoul: Our next give away is hosted by Holly from Etsy Shop FoodForTheSoul and she offers this beautiful chaplet and words... "Hello Everyon...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

Originally, I was going to work on my workshop items today. However, I went a bit overboard yesterday cleaning our house and also washing one of our dogs. As a result, my upper back went out (I am prone to periodic back problems). This has confined me to bed for most of today and I was unable to do the type of metal work needed to continue my necklace design.

Courtesy of The Vintage Moth. Believed to be in the Public Domain. 

One thing I keep hearing over and over again in Art and Soul and Voodoo Lounge podcasts, as well as from Deryn Mentock, is the importance of keeping an art/design journal with ideas in it. 
Public domain image courtesy of Liam Quin.
Even though I am not used to keeping an art journal, this is something I can work on even with my back in its current state. Although, I am praying that my back is a lot better by tomorrow so I can get back to work.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Style Notes

The workshop I am enrolled in has us think about what design style category our jewelry creations fall into. I am not sure yet what my particular style is. I got some excellent advice from two, well-respected jewelry designers- Lori Anderson from Lori Anderson Designand Deryn Mentock (my workshop instructor). Some of the more experienced women in my class also had important things to say about this topic. One recurring theme was to look at lots and lots of jewelry (does this justify the purchase of all my jewelry design books and magazines??). Another is just to practice creating jewelry.

A peek at my design process. Here I am deciding which beads to use with my focal pendant.
Part of me likes an extremely romantic look. This is no surprise to anyone who knows me for more than 5 minutes. Obviously, I’m also extremely drawn to religious images.

On the other hand, I am equally attracted to the slightly kitschy, sparkly, and retro. Yes, I am a girl who loves running Christmas lights, carnival glass, and Lusterware.

Hmmm, I wonder if I will find a way to combine these styles? How did you all discover your own design style?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Like it- I Really Like it!

My lessons in The Build Zone continue. I have purchased extremely inexpensive aluminum wire to practice various techniques with. This way, I do not feel awful if I have to throw out the parts I make mistakes on. I also feel free to repeatedly practice certain jewelry making skills.

Most recently, I have been crafting different style headpins. Here you see a spiral headpin, a paddle style, and a basic loop. I have been looking forward to new lessons each day or two, having greatly missed crafting jewelry during my recent break while I awaited the start of the workshop. The next lesson I will tackle? Creating a clasp!

Amazingly, I have discovered that I love to solder! Yes, you read that correctly! My fears have now turned into curiosity and I want to learn more soldering techniques. In fact, on my amazon wish list is the book Mixed Metal Mania – something to tackle after I finish The Build Zone!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Facing Fears

As The Build Zone workshop progresses, I continue to practice various techniques. S-claps, which I tend to be better at than wrapped loops, making jump rings, and using my mini torch for small amounts of soldering.

Yes, that is right- I faced my greatest fear- turning on and using my soldering torch. I have a Blazer Micro torch. Obviously, extreme caution is necessary when using the torch, and you can see that I have a ceramic tile underneath my soldering block. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone is definitely one way to grow creatively! Once I had it turned on and was using it, I found it was not any more scary than using an oven or gas burner on my stove.

I have been enjoying getting to know the other women enrolled in the workshop with me. We have a class discussion board where we can compare notes as we work through the various lessons. Things like being able to take jewelry lessons from Deryn Mentock, all the way in Texas, and getting to know women from all over the world is definitely one thing I love about the internet.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Build Zone- it's a Wrap!

Today I spent several hours practicing my wrapped loops technique. This is one of the lessons from The Build Zone. To perfect wrapped loops one needs to practice and practice . . . and, did I mention, practice?

You can see that I still need to work on my technique a bit more. However, I am headed to a meeting at church followed by the Blessing of the Animals in honor of St. Francis' Feast Day. We are bringing one of our dogs, Daisy.

So I shall return to practicing later tonight!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

More Orange Lights Needed

I am the first in our neighborhood to decorate for Halloween. As far as I am concerned, the more orange lights, the better! Fall is my favorite season, and always has been. I recall the scent of wood being consumed in fireplaces and the burnt orange leaves filling the yards in our neighborhood on Long Island when I was very, very young. I remember eagerly organizing with girlfriends our trick or treat plans when I was older and living in Kansas. For a long time I resided in Florida where the seasons are not very differentiated, so it was not until I was living in Georgia that I experienced a true fall once again.
My son, practicing a Kung Fu move!
The weather in Georgia has been stunning, cool and sunny. Today, we drove two hours to Ellijay, GA to see if the leaves had changed much up in the mountains yet. We were a little early for strong leaf color, but still enjoyed exploring a town none of us had been to before.
More Kung Fu!
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the town has its own local bead store! The (extremely nice) woman who owns it sells some of her own creations along with beads and beading supplies.

Tomorrow I will do a separate post about The Build Zone. I was very excited when the classroom and videos officially opened today. S far, I am working on lessons about patina and forming clasps.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Image Transfer on Resin Clay

While reading the Handcrafted Jewelry 2011 magazine, I came across a tutorial by Linda Larsen for easily transferring an image to wet resin clay. I also found the tutorial described on this Objects and Elements blog. Of course I was completely intrigued and wanted to try it using my Aves Studio Fixit (though there is some overlap, this is a slightly different formula than Aves Apoxie Clay).

I mixed a small amount of the Fixit, and placed it into a square mold. Following the instructions for transferring the image, I first printed out a copy of an antique Holy Card with my inkjet printer on regular printing paper.

I cut the image to size. I then made sure to smooth some water onto the clay surface so it would be wet and then smoothed the printed image face down onto the surface.

I am now letting the clay dry for 3-4 hours before I try and remove the image and see if it transfers. Do y’all think it will work? Come back later today to see part two!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Spiritual Art Journaling

I have hit the “pause” button on creating jewelry pieces. I am waiting to pour my creative energy into the Build Zone workshop in another week, where I will be learning some more advanced jewelry making techniques I want to use in future designs.

In the meantime, my curiosity has been piqued by a podcast with Dana Reynolds I listened to about accessing the spiritual/God-driven aspects of your creativity. The idea is to open yourself to the ways the divine works through you as you create. As part of this process, I have been keeping a spiritual art journal of what Dana Reynolds calls, “visual prayer.”
In the meantime, my curiosity has been piqued

Here is a glimpse at one of my journal pages. This process allows me to easily get caught up in creating and completely lose track of time. This is both a good and bad thing, depending on the other demands of my day!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Design Table Tuesday

On my design table today is resin. Lately, this clear liquid of the craft gods has been calling my name. I especially like the way you can layer with it. I am still trying to figure out the best way to use good quality, “chunky” glitter, which I have seen in books and magazines and like. Yet, when I use it, I cannot get it to look professional enough. Instead, it looks sort of like I just got out of preschool.

Speaking of resin, I just received a copy of Jen Cushman’s award-winning book, Explore, Create, Resinate. I am so looking forward to reading this! Look for my review soon. I have also been eating up podcasts from both Rice Freeman-Zachary’s Notes from the Voodoo Lounge, and Art and Soul Radio. I have found these to be very interesting and inspiring to listen to,

And, be sure and check out Deryn Mentock’s generous tuition giveaway for her Build Zone workshop. It is posted on the Create Mixed Media website. Hmmm- only one week and four days until the workshop begins! Do I seem excited?