Friday, March 29, 2013

Kind of Ignoring My Workbench

My workbench has not seen the typical amount of activity lately.
Between my son's spring break and getting as much painting time in before May 1 as I can, my focus has been a bit diverted from making jewelry.
But....I did just get a commission for a special piece of jewelry,
and I will be taking part in a one day 'Local Artist Trunk Show' at Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill on Saturday, May 11.
(a great place to look for a special Mother's Day gift)
If you're local and want to stop by, please say hello and then you could consider visiting Morris Arboretum which is practically next door to Woodmere.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Recent Work

I've been busy getting pieces of artwork ready for a show that I'll be hanging on May 1.
I committed to this showing last September, thinking that it would be the right motivation to make me paint.
Deadlines make me move.
Started and completed this weekend, 'Let My Sins Be All Forgiven', encaustic on board.
Started last week and still in progress, still unnamed, oil on canvas.
This makes me think of the movie 'Take Shelter', one of the few movies that I've seen recently and actually liked.
Started this afternoon, still lots of work to be done, no name, oil on canvas.
My favorite recent first attempt at a pet portrait, oil on canvas.
There's still work to be done, but I think it captures some of the spirit of my son's wonderful Seeing Eye dog.
This one will not be for sale.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

From the Fields of Illinois

We have family who own farmland in central Illinois.
The landscape in that part of the country is beautiful and so wonderfully different from that of the Northeast, where I have spent most of my life.
When we are able to travel out to the Illinois farm, I always like to have my camera with me just in case the lighting is as perfect as the scenery.
Some of my favorite photos are ones that I took years ago, before I owned my first digital camera.
I almost always shot with black & white film.
I would wake up early to take advantage of the morning's first light and start walking.
After dinner, I would grab my camera again and try to take advantage of that magical lighting that you can only find with the setting sun.
I would often walk for miles before finding the picture that I needed to take.
It's been a while since I've been able to visit the farm, but I was lucky to have a piece of the farm delivered to me.
It's not surprising that the local wildlife love the corn that is grown on some of the acreage, and spotting deer, many deer, in the fields is a common occurrence.
Finding old antlers on the farm will happen only occasionally, and I was lucky to get a particularly beautiful antler recently.
All was actually a few years ago, but I have to think about these things.
I knew that I wanted to make a necklace and began cutting off the points of the antler, planning to use one for the pendant.
I wanted the necklace to be rich in texture, so I made my own bead caps.
Discs were hand cut from copper and brass, textured with different steel stamps and then domed to fit various beads.
I made a clasp out of the same annealed steel wire that I used for wrapping the beads.
The clasp hooks on to links of soldered copper wire.
The finished necklace is kind of chunky, kind of loud and, in my opinion, kind of just right for this deer antler from Illinois.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Bangles

Around a year ago, I spent time trying to make fluid, floral-like shapes out of different sized discs of copper.
Combining fold forming and plier forming, I began to get shapes that were acceptable.
Then I sat at my workbench and shaped disc after disc after disc.
These are a few of the formed 'flowers' that I made, and they have been in my collection of supplies waiting to be used.
Last night's work included soldering some of these flowers on to recycled copper bangles.
 After soldering, the bangles were pickled and then tumbled with stainless steel shot to get a shiny finish.
These new bangles nicely complement my recent poppy bangles
 More etching was also done last night.
I prepared pieces of nickel, brass and copper and let them float in etchant while I worked on the bangles.
Towards the end of the evening, I removed the metal and had lovely etched pieces except for one.....
that for some reason refused to etch.
There's got to be a scientific reason why this one piece of nickel did not etch at all, but I can't figure it out.
Same prep, same original sheet of nickel, same etchant, but.... an etching failure.
I do like the beautiful green that formed, just in time for St. Patrick's Day.
I also like the big thumbprint that I ungraciously left behind.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Afternoon

 12:30 pm
4:30 pm

Friday, March 8, 2013

Etched Earrings

I love etching metal.
I love how I can take a piece of plain, nondescript nickel, copper or brass and in less that 2 hours, turn it into something beautiful and rich with texture.
And then I get weird.
I find that I often can't bring myself to cut up a piece of etched metal so that I can put it to use in jewelry projects.
I start thinking things like, "Is this project worthy of this fabulous etched wonder?"...."If I cut this up, I won't have it anymore to gaze at and admire."
I makes no sense.
I'm like that with fabric, too.
There's something very powerful about imagining the potential of a lovely resource that taking the important first step to actually using that resource can make me pause....and pause....and pause.
And then I tell my brain to shut up and get to work.
I took some of the silver nickel (also known as German silver) that I recently etched and cut it into small squares.
I had first thought of cutting out discs, but revised the plan.
I would still cut out discs, but place my focus on the negative space instead of the disc.
This required a different kind of planning.
Instead of simply maximizing the number of discs I was cutting, I had to take some care in deciding where the disc would be located.
I used a straight edge to join the opposite corners on each of my squares.
Those two lines intersect at the center which helped me properly place the squares in my disc cutter.
It would be more accurate to say that discs were cut at the 'centerish' of the squares since some of my lines were not spot-on and some of my disc cutter placements were only 'pretty close'.
'Centerish' is good.
All corners and edges were then filed and sanded.
Holes were drilled for connections and the squares were then slightly curved using my wooden dapping block.
I wasn't sure where I was going when I started making my negative space squares and have finished some earrings....
balled copper wire hanger with wire wrapped stick pearl dangle
balled copper wire hanger with wire wrapped kyanite dangle.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Special Order

Just completed on my workbench....
necklaces for a bridal party.
It feels good to know that my jewelry will play a small role in someone's important day.
I'm invited to the wedding.