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Inspired by... A Rumor of Gems

This month's "Inspired by Reading..." book group selection was "A Rumor of Gems" by Ellen Steiber

A Rumor of Gems

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

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

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

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

So I went back to the beginning: 

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

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

 Hekate and Cerebus

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

Hekate

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

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

black labradorite 

Hekate pendant

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

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

pendant with key

gems ideas

William Blake's Hekate

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

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

 

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

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

Participants will also be listed here. 

 

Resources: 

Theoi

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

Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

AJE Component of the Month! May "flowers"

Welcome! Its that time of the month again! I seriously dont know where time has gone... The Art Jewelry Elements Component of the Month is an event I look forward to! ... and yet always feel rushed...

Sue Kennedy of SueBeads provided a lovely ruffle edged lamp work bead this month. Seem like I have been thinking this over for ever - and suddenly its time! It has to be finished! 

I was happily out of my comfort zone with the colors. Orange and olive. The shape of the bead was a bit floral to me, and I knew I wanted to place it "flat" so the whole bead would show... Here are my sketches: 

May sketches

I try to use words more and more in my work - this is no exception. I found a quote by Marcel Proust that touched on the friends I have made in AJE and the floral associations I had formed with the bead.

"Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." 


Here is a close up of the bead and the copper washer I have framing it. The spiral wire will be the soft rivet to hold this into the polymer I am planning... 

Sue beads CoM

 The polymer: I wanted to use the orange and green again, and embrace a palette that isnt my usual. The polymer is 2 layers, textured, hand painted. There are copper tube rivets at the top, and two dangles at the bottom. (There was supposed to be one. I drilled off center. Now there are two. )

pendant detail

The necklace echoes the colors - yellow jade, a seed pod, carnelian, and mystery stones - agate? Jasper? (I hate when I dont label it all carefully after the  rush of shopping at a show...Sigh.)

necklace finished

The back of the piece, stamped with the quote. It is upside down when worn - another adjustment I had to make. But if you are showing the piece to someone while wearing it - it is convenient to simple turn it over instead of flipping it up... ( Nice way to justify... )

necklace back

I love using Sue's beads. Last year we were table neighbors at Beadfest Philadelphia in August. The time is coming soon... hope we are neighbors again! 

Please share your thoughts! I am working from home lately and love to have some Internet time to chat... Stay tuned for next months AJE CoM - organic ceramic earring pairs by yours truly! 

 

 

Recipe for vacation.

 

2 parts "Travel" Reserve one, set aside. 

Season with city traffic, add ferry ride for garnish. 

arrival collage

 Marinate in equal parts sunscreen and salt water. The more time the better. Coat lightly with sand. 

sand castles

Spice things up with Trivial Pursuit games, and epic sessions of "Angry Birds". Serve with a micro brew Heiffeweissen. 

faces collage

Savor the weekend with family on the Texas Gulf Coast. Enjoy! 

Return home rested, pink, happy tired...  with many memories!

travel collage

That magic moment.

That magic moment. 

The kind of moment when you step outside yourself and realize this moment is so incredibly amazing and you want to record it in your memory. The split second when magic happens - the magic bean taking root, the dragon hatches, the apple is bitten. 

A few weekends back I had a moment  - I slipped away from my tent, my art and wares, my job... to sit with Carolyn Turgeon and Charles Vess. They were doing a collaborative "talk" on magic in the creative process at the Spoutwood Farm May Day Faerie Festival. I have met them each on numerous occassions and wanted to see what they would create in a tent, on an idyllic farm, on a sunny Sunday... 

Vess WIP

Carolyn is a fabulously charming, witty and very talented author. Her work most recent work takes classic characters from fairy tales and reinvents them in a style all her own. Captivating! She was reading from her novel "Mermaid" and Charles was drawing - a touch of pencil and then Sharpie! Carolyn read the scene of the mermaid's transformation - and stopped at that magical moment before the potion is consumed. She asked us to imagine that moment  and what we would create from that point.

Vess 2

Charles Vess drawing

Where did I go - since you saw me over Charles' shoulder, scribbling away on my 3x5" card... 

my notes

notes 2

I plan on making this piece - as close as can be without harming any mermaids... It was a lovely creative respite from a fun filled festival day. I count myself lucky to be in such good company!

Did I mention my sketch is on Carolyn's blog? And a huge thanks to Carolyn for the pictures! 

Read more: 

Carolyn's Mermaid blog post on this topic ( on www.Iamamermaid.com)

Charles website: Green Man Press 

"Mermaid, a twist on the classic tale" on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Come away, oh Human child...

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand.

For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

("The Stolen Child" by W. B. Yeats)

Fae child

Unicorn

Teasel and MoranaGin and me.

Moss Man!

Wedji and me...

Frenchy and the Punk

dragon hatchling

 

For the last two weekends, I stole away with the Fae. I returned, and while I didnt turn to dust upon touching mortal ground - I DO feel like years have passed while I was away. So many Muggle chores and work items to catch up with... So I steal a moment or two to chat with my fae friends on the Book of Faces each day and it keeps the spark of magic alive until next time. Thank you all for being my friends and family, my tribe, my community. 

Spoutwood Faerie Festival

Maryland Fairie Festival

 

 

April Component of the Month! Headpins...

 (If you are looking for the "Inspired by Reading" post and creative reveal - please click here. )

 I love it when a plan comes together. I received these simply gorgeous glass headpins from the hands of Jen Cameron for this month's Component of the Month at Art Jewelry Elements. But I was out of town. I got home with 36 hours until the reveal... and I was tired and had mounds of laundry to do... When I sat down this afternoon I was thrilled to make it work - and I am pleased with the results. 

Jen's headpins

The headpins made me think of water. Not only the color, but the spiral and the tiny bubbles... I have been working on and off lately on a series of Goddess necklaces. This color and the element of water made me think of Yemanja. She is the Yoruba orisha, or diety of water, childbirth, the essence of the ocean. She was and is revered in many Afro-American regions, from Brazil to the Caribbean. (My Yemanja figure, shown on my "water" shelf with Sulis from Bath, is from New Orleans. ) Over time, Yemanja was seen to share many characteristics with the Virgin Mary: protectress of women and children, robed in blue, Mother of all... Mary is also known as Stella Maris/Star of the Sea thus linking her with the ocean as well. 

Water elementals

So I started browsing the stash... and started with a piece of sea glass. Here is a little "photo essay" of the selection process: 

planning pix

After that - the Parawire and the seashell were kept in the mix, along with copper links. I found the color blue more vibrant than the gems in my stash, and turned to Czech glass and crystal to satisfy my palette. The copper links are stamped "etoile" and "de la mer" to reference Yemanja/Stella Maris/Mary. 

the necklace

Coiled wire bail, dangle headpin, stamped copper links, wire wrapped crystals and glass beads, sari silk, seashell, hand made wire clasp. 

Not bad for a day's work! What do you think?

Please stop by these blogs - my team mates and the guest designers participating this month: 

Guest Designers:

Erin Prais-Hintz

Kathy Lindemer

Alice Peterson

 

AJE Team:

Susan Kennedy

Lesley Watt

Melissa Meman

Linda Landig

Jen Cameron

Inspired by reading... Paris to the Moon

(If you are looking for the Art Jewelry Elements CoM reveal - it is located here.)

Pour a coffee, pull up a chair... and welcome to the first month of the "Inspired by Reading" book/creative club. This wonderful idea is being masterminded by the tireless  & creative Andrew Thornton. Simply put - we participants, far flung though we may be - are reading a book a month. Then we are creating something - jewelry, a doodle, poem, collage... inspired by the book. Its very loose and flexible - which makes in very do-able, in my opinion. 

Our first offering: "Paris to the Moon" a collection of essays by Adam Gopnik that detail aspects of his life as a writer and father living in Paris. They were originally published seperately in The New Yorker magazine, and collected as a book published in 2000. 

Paris to the Moon

 I enjoyed the book overall, but found some of the essays not engaging to my interests. The topics of French economics and politics were not my favorites. The descriptions of life in the city, the challenges of an expatriot living abroad, and the frequent culture clashes between a former New York City resident and his now-fellow Parisians were charming and humorous. 

I was most inspired by his field trips with his son to Deyrolle Taxidermy. This Paris icon, preserving natural wonders since 1831, was their destination when rain kept them from their habitual turn in the Luxembourg Gardens. I usually find taxidermy a bit morbid, but this had me fascinated. Animals from the farm to the safari, many abandoned by their owners, bills unpaid. And insects, and coral, and butterflies, and all other diverse objects from the natural world - a cabinet of curiousities... 

Deyrolle

Deyrolle cases

Cabinet of curiousities. WunderKammer. Literally translated as "Room of Wonders"... from as early as the 16th century these collections housed "objects included as belonging to natural history (sometimes faked), geology, ethnography, archaeology, religious or historical relics, works of art (including cabinet paintings) and antiquities." The image below, "Ulisse Aldrovandi's Cabinet" (engraving by G. Mitelli) shows the concept in all its chaotic glory. 

Wunderkammer

 

Pendants. Amulets. Housing treasures - both natural and relics... Hmm... 

Amulets WIP

From top left: boxes - showing folded corners and inserted wires. They are cut from metal sheet, one piece; with tabs that fold to overlap at corners. There are wires inserted as staples to hold tabs and provide loops for attachments/bails. Then the boxes are filled - with ivory polymer, 2 part epoxy putty, black polymer. 

Wunderkammer amulets

Stained. painted... The shell piece (top left) had a chance encounter with the floor, sadly... The bottom two are my favorites. I prefer the layers of transluscent color I can achieve on the ivory base. 

The set of four

These will be finished with dangles and mixed media necklaces. They are rather heavy - but had to be deep to accomodate the items. I think they are reminiscent of specimen trays, and would be worthy additions to a WunderKammer. They are artifacts, and natural items, and become amulets as well. I think a future series of these will be stamped on the back with a quote, a secret word of power or mantra to wear next to your skin. 

I hope to finish them this week for my first big Spring show - Spoutwood Farm's May Day Fairy Festival. Its a wonderful, magical time... 

And I hope you follow me to "Hop" and see what others created - inspired by "Paris to the Moon". The list and links are on Andrew's blog. 

Thanks for stopping by - I would love to hear your thoughts on these new experimental amulets... 

 

 

 

BSBP 2013: beads, challenges, friends!

Welcome! This is my third year doing the Bead soup Blog Party - and the first thing I have to say is "Thank you!" to Lori our hostess and fearless leader. We wouldn't be here without you... seriously. 

I think my title sums it up: send and receive beads; be challenged/escape your comfort zone; make new friends! And honestly - if you are here reading this - you know what I mean. So let me introduce you to my newest friend and partner this year - Jennifer Cabic. 

Jennifer is an Ohio based artist working in metals and metal clay. Her pieces are created with layers of meaning; she creates amazing intense personal talismans, memorial pieces, that will be heirlooms in the future. I was struck especially this year at how well we were paired. Our work is very different; but we are drawn to metals, incorporating words at times, drawing from our own personal language of symbols, and creating pieces with intent, amulets and personal talismans. I am very drawn to her work, and was thrilled to receive one of her bronze clay clasps in my soup.... (Here's a reminder of what arrived for me...)

Soup rec'd

I loved the earthiness of the corals and jasper nuggets - and was challenged by the pink tones. 

I loved the warm brass and circular motif of the focal - and was challenged by its tribal style and size. 

I adore the clasp. Using it was not a challenge but a joy!. 

Please know - my soup is fabulous. But I am not a pink person - hence the challenge. Overall I am thrilled with my pieces, both how easily they came together and their final appearrance. (And thanks to Staci Smith for inspiration!!!) I knew I wanted the focal to have a dangle. The tribal/boho/earthy feel sent me to sea urchin spikes and shell daggers. There's a river stone, howlite nuggets and seed pods in there too: 

Necklace with focal

The rustic bronze sun/floral piece ( at top center in this pix) and the concentric circles I used in the clasp are by Staci of Artisan Accents. They were the perfect elements to unify the focal and the chunky gems and nuggets. I liked the scale of the circular piece and used it for visual balance and to create a clasp with my forged spiral hook. One side of the necklace is strung; seed beads in burgundy accent the darker tones in the coral. The other side is wire wrapped, and the back is finished in recycled sari silk. 

Focal detail

Dangle of chain, bells, sea urchin spines, shell daggers. Bead caps on coral beads are made of copper gears, dapped to fit. 

earrings to match clasp and gear/caps

Left: matching earrings.          Right: detail. Howlite, jasper, lava stone, seed pods, river stone, coral, bronze spiral.  

At this point there was a good deal left over... the green lampwork beads were sparking ideas for a different palette. I knew I wanted the clasp to be a focal in its own right... so chunky stones to give it "presence" and here she is... 

bracelet with clasp

Gems and lampwork - a medley of greens... 

What a pleasure to meet Jennifer and work with the generous assortment that she sent me! Please tune in to the other posts - its a long list - today and over the next few days! I know I look forward to seeing as many as I can... Thanks for taking the time to join me here!

The full list of links can be found here. 

 

 

 

 

 

March Madness! The Component of the Month reveal!

 I love Art Jewelry Elements Component of the Month. What could be better? Every week, no - every day - I am reminded how happy I am to be on this team of talented, smart, funny, creative women. And then every month one of them sends me a treasure? Its like your birthday - every month. Its a pleasure getting to know them each a little better by working with their work. And its a pleasure meeting new people out there on the Interwebs; people who win a piece and create along with the team. 

( I know there is a practical marketing side. That we are showing off our creations and networking, and spreading the word about handmade artisan beads/components. But I cant deny the social side!)

OK. Enough gushing, enough sentiment. Let's get down to the loot. This month's element comes from Joanne Tinley of Daisy Chain Jewelry. You can find her finished jewelry and her components on Etsy! She made stamped copper hollow disc beads. The amount of labor that went into these! - you can read that best in her own words. 

Daisy Chain hollow beads

I like them all, but I did request a dotty/divoted one. It reminded me of the craters on the Moon's surface. I have a tendency to try to highlight the CoM piece, and really make it the focal of my design/creation. I imagined these would be larger because of the labor involved - they arrived and are so delicate! My original plan is sketched below (on left): 

CoM sketches

 (I had been planning to sculpt a polymer goddess, faux ivory-ish, and have the moon bead in her arms.) When I received my bead, I decided the dark rich patina wouldnt "read" as moonto most people. That - along with my crazy schedule, a few postal issues... all contributed to a change in plans from the sketched design. So I sat amidst my gems, and started making piles. The first - a lampwork disc by Joanne Z. Second and third - ceramic pendants by yours truly. The color palette was a natural choice as I love aqua and teal with copper. 

moon goddess necklace

I hammered and oxidized long oval copper links to serve as a counterpoint to the "moon" bead as I still think of it. Gemstones are wire wrapped; chain completes the last few inches. (Gems: kyanite, smoky quartz, amazonite, apatite) Its simple, but very much my style. I hope the gentle asymetry balances the composition yet sets off Jo's bead. And there is a pair of matching earrings -  I am always late to the Earring Hop at AJE but I DO make earrings... 

CoM necklace

(PS: those are SueBeads enameled headpins peeking out of those earrings!)

So - thoughts? I love Jo's components and truly appreciate the time and energy involved.  As always - a pleasure to work with my friends and their work. Please tune in to the AJE blog to see what every one else - and a few lucky blog readers - created with their treasures!

 

Curves....

Hello my Focus on Life photo/journey/challenge compatriots. I usually post on Instagram - altho I missed a few, and dont get to interact with you too much. I am usually teaching ceramics class every Saturday morning, and never seem to get a post written ahead of time... Please follow my pix on FB, and Instagram, and here - when I can. 

(The scoop on Focus on Life can be found here for those of you that are curious.)

I spent last Sunday with a group of Stunners. Thats the Pre-Raphaelite term for their gorgeous ideal woman, their muse, that inhabit their paintings. I also spent time with real life beauties - my friends that accompanied me to the exhibit! It was a lovely day, hard to describe. The artwork touches a deep place in my heart and soul. It was wonderful to share the exhibit with like minded people. I ended the day feeling full, happy, sated, inspired, exhausted, euphoric.... 

Here are pix from that day - including my "Curve" themed shots. 

Grey DC

Mansfield's Atalanta

Mansfield's Diana

Diana the Huntress

Sculptures are: "Atalanta" and "Diana the Huntress" by Paul Manship. Divinely Deco, fabulously female, marvelously mythic - my style! ( If the style looks familiar - have you seen the "Prometheus" in gold that dresides at Rockefeller Center? Yup. Same artist.)

NGA fountain

I think I take a picture like this every time I am at the National Gallery. It never ceases to enchant me. 

 

 I will admit - I have not posted pix the last 2 weeks. "Wrapped up" and "Possibilities" So I submit this catch up photo - for both! I am deep into preparing for my first show, and I am all wrapped up in clay. The posssibilities are endless!

Possibilities: clay

Have a wonderful week everyone. I hope to see your pix out there on the Interwebs. Happy Spring!

 

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