Thursday, November 29, 2012

And the Holiday Shows Begin

My crazy, busy season got a little less crazy this afternoon.
I have been spending lots of time at my workbench preparing inventory for the various shops and shows where I'm selling for the holidays.
I've delivered inventory to Portfolio at the Academy of Fine Arts.
I've delivered inventory to Woodmere Art Museum.
I set up my display at Main Line Art Center on Monday.
And today, I set up my display at Community Arts Center in Wallingford.
The Duke Gallery at the Community Arts Center is the setting for the "Best Holiday Sale Ever!"
This gallery space is lovely, and it transforms into a wonderful boutique of one-of-a-kind, locally made items.
After a very late night of tagging jewelry and packing my display, I got myself to the Art Center as the doors of the gallery opened for vendor set-up.
Time to step away from my jewelry workbench to focus on painting.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Tale 2012

We still like to tell stories on Thanksgiving.
Preparing for the sale of our family home earlier this year was a challenging task for my siblings and me. Dealing with the loss of our father, then our mother and then oldest sister in the last few years made the selling of the house where we all grew up all the more poignant.
 Going through decades of accumulated items that told the story of our family was at times like an archaeological dig of genealogy.
It was both wonderful and heartbreaking to discover photos that we had never seen before like this one of our father, #9 bottom right, with his Baltimore Bullet teammates during his years as a professional basketball player in the newly formed NBA.
Or this photo of our maternal grandfather, 2nd from the left, with fellow West Orange, NJ police officers.
As we prepared for the final cleaning prior to closing on the sale of the house, I found a framed pastel portrait tucked away in the attic.
My sisters and my brother did not want the portrait, and I couldn't stand the thought of her heading out to the dumpster thinking that this must be one of our relatives.
From her dress and bonnet, I thought that she may have been from 1840.
From her no-nonsense look, I guessed she may have been from our father's side of the family.
She brought to mind a comment that my high school Biology teacher, Mrs. Moss had made to me, saying that she thought I would have made a good pioneer woman.
Even back then, I had no idea why she said that. 
Maybe she imagined I would be the type of person who could milk a cow, churn butter and pluck a chicken all at the same time....just like I imagine this long lost relative probably could.
Yes, we could definitely be related.
The pastel came home with me, but when I removed it from what I was sure to be the original frame, I found no clues.
I called my one sister to see if she knew anything, and she said, "Oh, you mean Mrs. Lynch?"
Me: "Is she one of Dad's relatives?"
My Sister:  "Nooooo......she's not related to us."
Then the story of Mrs. Lynch was revealed. 
Real names will not be revealed, because I don't know what the statue of limitations might be for theft in Montclair, NJ.
Turns out that my sister and her best friend used to frequent a particular restaurant/bar that was decorated with an eclectic collection of genuine antiques.
Near the entrance hung a portrait that reminded my sister's friend of her boyfriend's mother, Mrs. Lynch.
As they would leave the restaurant/bar (emphasis on bar since no doubt that's where my sister and said friend would spend their time), said friend would always say, "Goodnight Mrs. Lynch."
Then one night, said friend tells my sister to hurry up, open the door and make a run for it because Mrs. Lynch is leaving with them.
And just like that, my sister, said friend and Mrs. Lynch are making a mad dash across the street to my sister's car to make their getaway, with the Montclair Police Station just a couple of doors down from the restaurant.
Mrs. Lynch spent at least 15 years in my parent's attic.
I'm sure that Catholic guilt kept my sister's friend from hanging Mrs. Lynch on her apartment wall.
The lesson from this Thanksgiving tale?
Sometimes you don't have to delve too far back into your family history to find that relative with a slightly devious past.....sometimes that relative is your sister.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Landscape Interpretation

Painting at Wayne Art Center the other night, I decided to do a quick study on an 8 x 10 canvas.
I also decided that I should follow Georganna's sage advice and worked from an actual image instead of some invented scene that only my mind's eye could see.
I am always searching for images of beauty....images that reach me at a fundamental level, reassuring me that the world is an awe inspiring, dazzling, wonderful place.
I often have my camera with me just in case I witness a magical moment that I might want to revisit or later turn into a painting.
I also have file folders of pictures that have been gathered for years from different sources.....magazines, books, newspapers.
These are images that make me think, "One of these days, I'm going to do something with this."
It was time to use this image:
I like the apparent simplicity of the landscape that actually becomes more complex once the various textures of the groundplane are studied.
I also like how movement in the clouds can be imagined because of the angle of the underlying shadows.
I like how the perspective of the brick path nearby drainageway pulls my eye to the distant horizon.
I like how I'm left wondering where does this path go?
I don't like that there's someone on the path.....he/she is intruding on my private moment.
Does my painting look just like the inspirational image?
No, but that's all right.
I just wanted to capture the essence of a feeling that the original image inspired within me.
And I wanted to get rid of that person on the walkway.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Transforming a Flea Market Find

When looking for materials at thrift stores or flea markets, I always try to keep an open mind. 
I like to look for opportunities to transform one of my 'finds' into a unique material for my jewelry.
Maintaining a distinct design voice is a constant challenge and I like that my thrift store transformations sometimes allow me to incorporate components that only I have.
I recently found these earrings at a local flea market.
The angel shapes are sterling, and at $2.00 for the pair, I knew that I could somehow repurpose the metal.
I decided that I would cut discs that could then be used for earrings or as links in a necklace or bracelet.
Using my handy metal gauge, I determined the sterling was 20 gauge which is thicker than what I need for discs.
I annealed the angels and ran them through my mill three times, increasing the pressure with each pass.
After the three passes through the mill, the sterling measured at 24 gauge.....better for maximizing my use of the metal for making discs.
The angel on the left still has the oxidized finish that naturally forms as a result of annealing.
The angel on the right was lightly sanded to bring back the lustrous silver color.
Each angel was textured with a steel stamp.
Discs were then cut with careful placement to again maximize use of the limited supply of metal.
The discs will be drilled and probably domed so that I can then put them to use.
Nothing gets wasted, so the 'holy' angel remains will be included with other sterling scraps that get sent back to my sterling supplier for recycling.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Holiday Season

Yes, it is that time of year when I shamelessly promote those holiday shows and venues that will feature my jewelry along with the work of many other artists and craftspeople.
The Main Line Art Center's juried show is a favorite on the Main Line.
This year, there will be around 50 artists from the region.
The show runs from Friday, November 30 through Sunday, December 9.
The Community Arts Center and the Potters Guild of Wallingford joined forces a few years ago and really do offer one of the best juried, holiday shows ever!
Original work by 55 local artists will be offered in the beautiful Duke Gallery.
The show runs from Saturday, December 1 through Saturday, December 8.
(Yay!  My bracelet made it to the postcard!)
The gift shop at Woodmere Art Museum is open year round, but expands into one of the gallery spaces for the holiday season.
The Holiday Store opened on November 10 and will close at the end of December.
Sweet Mabel in Narberth features a wonderful and often whimsical selection of American (and Nova Scotia) made art and fine crafts.
 Be prepared to linger so you can discover the many wonderful things in this small and delightful gallery.
On the hill in downtown Narberth.....look for the barber's pole.

I am so excited to now have my work at Portfolio, the gift shop at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
I actually just delivered my inventory of earrings and bracelets (and one necklace) this morning.
The shop is just two blocks north of City Hall in Center City, Philadelphia, and you can combine your visit to Portfolio with a visit to the Academy's museum.
The gift shop is open Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Will Always Be a Jersey Girl

Watching the news reports from those communities hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy leaves me profoundly saddened. 
I know that the effects are widespread, however, it's the amount of destruction to my home state, New Jersey, that leaves me speechless.
ap photo Charles Sykes
Communities are flooded with toxic water.
ap photo Peter Hermann
Parts of peoples lives are strewn about. 
Getty Images
Some members of my family are still without power and are struggling with everyone else to find fuel.
(Happy to brother's power returned late afternoon, 11/05.  Yay!)
Driving to north Jersey this weekend, I saw first hand the exceedingly long lines at the few gas stations that were operating. 
It has become commonplace to wait 6 hours on line only to then find that the gas supply has run out.
Getty Images
The Jersey Shore, a significant backdrop for my high school and college summers, is heatbreakingly devastated.
I am keenly aware that each image of Sandy's damage has painful stories of many individuals connected to that are lost, cherished family keepsakes that have been destroyed, livelihoods that have disappeared along with the businesses.
The need is so tremendous, it's hard to grasp the enormity of it all. 
I have donated to the Red Cross Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, and hope that you will consider donating as well.
It's been quite a few years since I last lived in New Jersey, but I will always be a Jersey Girl.
(exit 148)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Painting Progression

Working on a current painting, I am always aware that I do not have as much control over the results as I would like to have.
Jewelry projects do not have the kind of mysterious variables that painting has for me.
Mixing just the right color, choosing the best brush for the right stroke, capturing the emotional atmosphere that I intuitively know I want.
I'm at a level of skill (or lack thereof) where sometimes the magic happens and sometimes it does not.
My current effort-
First Session
Second Session
Third Session
Parts of the painting have improved, and other parts?.....not so much.
This piece is asking for at least one more session to try to find the magic.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Copper Tornado to Copper Bangle

So, you might ask, how does one go from a tornado of copper wire left over from a construction project to fun bangles?
First, measured lengths were cut using my favorite flush wire cutter.
While the cut is pretty clean, both ends of each length of wire were filed to ensure nice, flat surfaces.
Since these wire lengths are going to be soldered, those flat surfaces are necessary for a flush connection.
Not flush?  No solder flow.
Actually, I should amend that. 
The solder will just won't flow where you want it.
Also, to maximize my chances for successful soldering, I sanded clean each end of the wire lengths since solder does not like to flow on dirty surfaces.
Each length was bent to bring the ends together.
Once the ends were together, I was ready for soldering.
At this point, the shape is of no concern. 
The only thing to focus on is maintaining a flush connection between the two ends.
In spite of doing what I thought was a good job of lining up my connections, I had trouble with some of my soldering attempts.
I find that as the metal heats up, it will occasionally shift, ever so slightly altering those carefully made connections.
That ever so slightly altering will usually mean a gob of solder where it is not wanted.
Once the soldering is completed, it's time to focus on forming.
Each soldered wire was placed on my steel bracelet mandrel and hammered into shape.
The preferred trusty hammer from the hardware store.
The soldered wire was rotated as I hammered.
When there are no gaps between the wire and the mandrel, I'm done.
While working on the bracelet mandrel, I do pause periodically to put the soldered wire on my steel bench block to hammer it flat.
All of this hammering shapes the soldered wire into the desired bangle shape, and it also work hardens the metal so that the new shape is maintained.
For added interest, I textured the surface of each bangle with some of my steel stamps.
Each bangle was wire wrapped with a beaded dangle and then treated in a liver of sulfur bath.
Light sanding with a foam sanding block nicely highlights the stamped textures.
And there you go.....tornado to bangles.