Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Paintings Away From Home

Some of my paintings are currently away from home.
A selection is on display at Sweet Mabel in Narberth.
(but the sunflowers, the hydrangea and the pear that's underneath the marsh are gone, hopefully already hanging on walls in their new homes)
Also on display at Sweet Mabel....
the wonderful artwork of David Stehman.
I'm so excited that my 'Red Barn' was accepted into the current exhibit in the
Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Gallery
juried by Richard Rosenfeld of The Rosenfeld Gallery in Philadelphia.
The show is pretty wonderful
and I'm very thankful to have my little painting
in the company of such beautiful pieces of artwork.
Also on display at the Art Center are works by the oh so talented faculty
a retrospective exhibition of paintings 
 His paintings fill the Davenport Gallery
and it's a fabulous show.
What a great time to visit

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Inherited With a Twist

I keep a couple of jewelry stashes on my workbench, waiting for inspiration.
One of those stashes is jewelry that I've inherited.
Anything that's inherited is often something other than the actual item.
Sometimes, there are memories and emotions that might have more value than the item itself.
And sometimes it is just an item that has been sitting on your workbench for years.
When my mother passed away several years ago,
my siblings and I each selected some of her jewelry as the estate was divided.
Some of the pieces that I now have are ones that I have no recollection of my mother ever wearing, like the significantly dented sterling locket and the wide band sterling ring.
I do remember my mother wearing the sterling and onyx bracelet once,
and I think it is beautiful.
It's also remarkably uncomfortable so there's a real possibility that my mother only wore it one time.
In addition to being uncomfortable, it was also broken.
The sterling disc earrings, however, were frequently worn by my mother.

As part of my ongoing effort of pretending to keep a degree of organization on my workbench, I decided that some of the inherited pieces that I would never wear had to find a new purpose.
The dented locket was sawn apart and hammered flat.
Discs were then cut for use in a bracelet that is mid-project.
The sterling/onyx bracelet was dismantled with minimal damage, and I already have a plan in mind for repurposing the pieces.
The 2 rings snuck their way into the photo....dented thrift store sterling silver finds that I bought for $1.00 and immediately fixed with my ring mandrel.
Because I can easily picture the earrings being worn by my mother, I decided to take them out of the stash and start wearing them.
But....I wanted to put my own touch on them.
First...the earwires were terrible.
The gauge of wire used for the original earrings was too lightweight, leaving the earwires misshapen.
Easy fix with new, 20 gauge wire.
I wanted the discs to have more interest, so I developed a subtle texture with one of my files.
They were then shaped in my wooden dapping block, creating a slightly curved surface.
I could have stopped there, but of course I didn't.
Thinking that a bit of color would be nice, I soldered a small bezel in the center of each disc and set serpentine cabochons.
The inherited earrings now have the memory of my mother with my personal imprint.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Loving Geology

Supply gathering visits to the annual beads shows typically results in my purchasing strands of faceted gemstones....aquamarine, citrine, amethyst, topaz, iolite and others.
It's hard not to love these incredible gems from the earth.
The rich colors and the alluring way light is reflected speak of luxury and refinement.
Those are the things that I've wanted my jewelry to communicate to whoever might listen.
Until recently.
A few weeks ago, I went to a bead show at the Oaks Expo Center, and it was jasper that caught my attention.
Jasper is a dense and opaque variety of quartz that can be found all over the world, in nearly every color. 
Oxides of iron create deep earthy tones of red, yellow, brown and green, sometimes in shades of blue or purple, often with beautiful contrasts in banding, inclusions and whirls of color.
I bought several strands of jasper, including this variety from Australia.
What I most responded to was the 'earthiness' of the beads.
Some of the offered strands were polished to a high gloss, an effect that I found plastic and unappealing.
I like the matte finish of these beads, the irregular shapes and the beautiful range of colors.
Each time I look at these beads, I'm reminded of the Geology class that I had my freshman year at Cook College of Rutgers University.
A new world opened up to me as I learned about the formation of bedrock.
Time and pressure and an interesting blend of minerals often yields beautiful results.

Even though I purchased jasper beads that are pre-drilled, I decided to treat the selected one like a cabochon.
To create a bezel, I cut a narrow strip of copper which was soldered and formed to the shape of the jasper bead.
The bezel was then soldered on to a piece of etched silver nickel.
Thinking that a 2 piece pendant with some movement might be the way to go, I drilled holes allowing me to make a jump ring connection to another piece of etched silver nickel.
As usual, I like to have design interest on the 'back'.
Links were made with heavy gauge, recycled copper wire, and I finally found a reason to use some brass beads that I've had hanging at my workbench for several years.
A handmade clasp...
fastens this Love-of-Geology necklace.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Holy Grail Part Two

I must have done something really right recently because this appears to be my week of good luck.
I have found two of my holy grail items in five days.
Pinch me!
Taking photos of some of my jewelry can occasionally prove challenging, especially when I want to feature one of my long necklaces.
For years, I have been longing for a vintage dress form, especially one by the Wolf Form Company, to stage necklaces, but apparently many other people want these dress forms as well.
I have been doing regular searches on ebay, craigslist and other sites/shops, and have always shown up to biddings a bit too late or found dress forms that were significantly out of my price range.
After delivering new inventory to Woodmere Art Museum this morning, I stopped at a consignment shop that I passed because of an annoying detour I had to take.
I walked through the door and
in front of me were TWO Wolf Form Co. dress forms.
One was already sold, and the other one is now in my house.
She's going to require some tender care because a packing tape neck just will not do, and she has some unfortunately situated fabric loss.
Otherwise....she's perfect.
I've begun calling her Bertha.
Being a vintage dress form with a commanding presence, I thought an 'old fashioned' name was appropriate.
I'm not too keen on the fact that 'vintage' Bertha, circa 1965, is younger than me.
So....two holy grail items in five days...not bad.
If an anvil shows up at my front door, this will truly be an awesome week.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Finding My Holy Grail

I am always on the lookout for unique materials and tools that I can use to make equally unique pieces of jewelry.
I want materials that no one else has so that I can make jewelry that no one else is making, and I want those curious, somewhat hard-to-find tools that will help make it possible.
I've had an idea that's been percolating in my brain for years, and it requires old piano keys.
For over five years, I've been searching for vintage piano keys and they are not easy to find.
I began to feel like I was searching for my own peculiar holy grail and that I would probably continue searching even after forgetting why I had begun the quest.
But then I hit the jackpot.
Over the weekend, I entered 'vintage piano keys' on craigslist like I often do, and....
Someone had a listing for the full set of keys from a 100+ year old piano.
They lived somewhat close by.
They were asking $20.00.
The quest was over.
I confirmed that the keys were still available and arranged to meet the seller at 12:30.
I drove over with that quasi-fearful feeling of going to a strange man's house, found on craigslist, but I was determined to have those piano keys.
Craigslist guy was perfectly nice, and I now own a set of grungy, vintage piano keys.
They are so dirty and grimy that I can believe they are over 100 years old.
They also have that wonderful patina that can only be earned with age.
Some gentle but vigorous cleaning removes the dirt quite nicely.
The project?
I need to do some experimenting and hope that I'll have finished pieces after the holidays.
With that search over, I have to focus on my other holy grail quest...
 an anvil.