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.
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:
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...
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)
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.
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!
May. I miss you already. But before you depart - its the May Component of the Month at Art Jewelry Elements!
Sue of SueBeads sent these lovelies! I told her to surprise me because I think all her color palettes could easily inspire...
But Sue knows me and sent me these delicious beads: copper, garnet red and aqua.
The palette gave me a plethora of ideas! I started early as I wanted to bead embroider something to play off the beaded texture. The beads were small, but I wanted them to relate directly to the focal, inspiring the whole necklace palette so they would be a major player regardless of size.
Polymer cab of mine; an Art Nouveau woman, in copper with patina accents. glass flower beads, garnet pearls, and corresponding seeds.
I knew I wanted the beaded beads at the junction of necklace and silk, with some visual rest between them and the focal. I selected simple pearls and amazonite to go between. I am happy with the results!
Please join the rest of the team and our guests this month in the AJE COM hop:
Mayhem most definitely.
The month of May - the one that is over half gone asI write this? Whew. So many wonderful things... here is a whirlwind tour to catch up. I do resolve to return to a regular scheduled blog presence, but you KNOW how things are...
I have a feature article published in "Cloth Paper Scissors"!!! The article features the mixed media pieces shown above; combining metal, shell, fibers, wood, found objects...The original (pictured on the left) was inspired by a short story by Charles DeLint entitled "The Conjure Man". You can read all the details on the original blog post if you desire. Or for the step by step details pick up a copy of "Cloth Paper Scissors".
I took a break from clay and beads to return to books, altered books to be precise. This was for a library fundraiser called "Novel Art" for the Ligonier library in PA. I knew of the event from Andrew Thornton as its his town... It was great fun to do something so different, and for a worthy cause. My piece is a shrine built inside an old hardback. The theme ws inspired by the ttile "Singing Waters" which instantly meant SIREN to me. She is polymer, with sheet music behind her. The ocean image on the left is transparent so text reads through.
I am always adding new tiles to my library! Here you see the Harpy and the Mermaid of Zennor that debuted at Spoutwood Faerie Festival. This week I started a Greek Sphinx - another in the series of sassy women from myth, and a Ganesha. You can see a bit of my process as the sphinx is sketched out, tahn built up. Next she will be carved into detail.
Spoutwood! What a wonderful festival! Why do I never take enough pictures?! The weather was gorgeous! The crowds were huge! And I love seeing old froends and making new!!!
When worlds collide: my teacher's aide and friend Emma also off work to cavort with the fae...
This week and last have been a frenzy! (Check out #creativefrenzy on Instagram) I signed up rather last minute for a "Norigama" firing at the Perkins Center for the Arts. I have three weeks to create and dry and fire... 20-3- pieces. Whoa.
And I am involved in the creation of a great new auction site on Facebook: Creative Artist Bead Market. The goal is to showcase the best of the best, quality ceramic beads that are truly artist made. Hand made. Its an auction sirte, great fun, and a growing community. I like this new model as Etsy has completely sold out... But also - you will see a few new pendant designs in the picture above! Hare! Fox! Mermaid!
All this and more detailed in my newsletter! Sign up here! ( top right column sign up box)
See? May IS mayhem.
Until next week...
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.
Copper it is! So its a dryad inspired piece. That was a given. This popped into my head, almost complete:
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.
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...
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!
(If you are looking for the Art Jewelry Elements April COM follow this link. Thanks! )
Beading Back in Time! Time to find the Tardis key, walk through a certain circle of stones, or fuel up the DeLorean...
This quarter we are inspired by ancient history, "Early Human" which for the intents and purposes here will be prior to 3500 BCE. Now this time period resonates with me... I hve been drawn to the carved stone goddess figures since childhood. If you want to get really careful with dating and art history this period is even before the famous cave paintings of Lascaux! So I thought for sure it would be goddesses that inspired this challenge!
My goddess tiles, and small sculptures.
So I set aside a small simple stoneware goddess. She is bare clay, fired to ^10 reduction with a wash of iron oxide to give her a patina. Iron oxide is a naturally occurring pigment, just rust actuallly, and it was used to color stone and cave paintings of this era. I tried her with honey tones, with rugged chunks of labradorite, with craggy rough turquoise. And I havent made a decision yet. I have an existing piece ( shown bottom left above) where I paired a stoneware goddess with Roman glass, geode slices, bronze ammonites... and I wanted to do something different. We'll see what I finally decide on. I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Here is what I did end up with as my "Early Human" offering:
Tab set in copper, this Marsha Neal cabochon is a dark clay body with a white "crusty" glaze. This already felt right, but its a spiral - an ancient motif that can embody change, journey, progression, life, cycles, it was perfect. I was drawn to use other ancient materials - a hollow shell that is reminiscent of bone, and a chunk of amber. Both bone and amber were used as adornments since... forever.
I wasn't sure I would have time to complete the necklace parts, but the Muse ( and the clock! ) cooperated:
Seed pods and chunky howlite connect the copper chain to the sari silk. Although rawhide would have been more historically accurate, the silk was the right fit aesthetically.
I love the pieces together, the spiral and the amber really sing to me. Please join us in this time travel inspiration, to our early human roots!
Thanks for joining us!
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 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.
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...
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.
Molds, polymer, paint, Oh MY! One student kept giggling spontaneously. She was having a blast!
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:
All in all - they were pleased and inspired. I'd call that a success!
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.
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:
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:
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.
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 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 TeamGuestsAural - Woodland Bay NativeHeather - Hidden Ridge StudioKarin Grosset Grange - Ginko et CoquelicotMichelle McEnroe ( 4 pieces pinned on the AJE Pinterest page)
February is the shortest month.
The Delaware Fun-a-day project is simple. Create something each day. Exhibit them. Its a free, volunteer run event, and I cant wait to see everything this Friday. The opening is at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts at the Riverfront in Wilmington, from 6-9pm.
Since February starts with Imbolc/Candlemas - the feast day of Brigid... I decided to do sculptures. Goddesses, clearly. The Celtic goddess Brigid was a fire goddess: the fire of the forge, the creative fire in the head, and so, to me, the fire of the kiln as well. I was inspired by ancient and archaic goddesses from all cultures, from teh Venus of Willendorf through Cycladic idols. It was a great pleasure to sculpt freely, with few limitations. I kept the size small both to keep them intimate in scale, but as a logistical, practical requirement to the Fun A Day project.
I have a few orders for goddess cabochons, to be used in jewelry, and I do foresee making more of these simple, evocative figures in the the near future.
Hope to see you on the 6th at the DCCA!
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:
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.
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.
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:
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"
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"
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...
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!
The Palette and the Page:
120 East Main Street ~ Elkton, Maryland
Tuesday - Friday 11am-6pm & Saturday - 11am
Stay tuned for the next February update: February FunADay!