Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Necklace of Summertime

I have a healthy sized collection of beads and components that I've gradually accumulated over the years.
When I get in my studio/workbench cleaning mode, I try to let go of those pieces that have been sitting around for far too long, ignored and adding to the creative chaos that I'm constantly trying to keep under control.
Anything that is not in the 'definitely keep' or the 'probably keep so that I can likely reevaluate in a couple of years' category gets donated to one of the local art centers.
My recent workbench tidying found me considering a large, vintage resin bead that I've had for at least 6 years, waiting for the right idea to surface.
Sometimes, I think you just have to decide that it's time to make an idea surface.
Just do it and be done!
I started by choosing a color palette of summer using carnelian, citrine and honey jade.
Because my feature bead is so large, I wanted to embellish the top and bottom with bead caps which I made with hand cut/hand textured discs of copper.

 I chose to make bead caps for the citrine beads as well, but not being round beads, those caps had to be formed with a bit more care.
Pie shaped wedges were cut out of textured discs which allowed me to form the caps to the particular shape of the bead.
 Etched strips of silver nickel, textured discs of brass, sterling chain and sterling wire were also used.
 Finally...that bead has found a place that is no longer the surface of my workbench, and I have a necklace that speaks of the bright happiness of summertime.

Also speaking of summertime...
I have been using a weather piece of wood as my jewelry photo backdrop for a few years, usually keeping it outside near my picture taking spot.
When I grabbed the board to photograph my new necklace, I first noticed a small pile of sawdust on the ground and then the telltale perfect circular hole.
Some carpenter bee had invaded my prize piece of wood right in the middle of the section that I prefer to use.
I decided that it was time to keep the board indoors to avoid additional holes, but thought I should first find out if there were any occupants in that current hole.
I started banging on the board with my pruning shears and sure enough....some very irritated buzzing started coming from within the board.
I kept banging until one ticked off bee emerged from the hole and flew away. 
The board now stays inside.
Sorry bee.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Garden Inspired

I think that my garden is at its prettiest at this time of year. 
Different flowers are blooming, and leaves still have that newly-emerged vibrancy to their color.
Bearded irises in the side garden.
Blossoms on the back yard apple tree.
In the past 10 years, I have beaten the squirrels to the apples only once.
Those apples made the best apple crisp ever and possibly the only apple crisp from that tree.
Rhododendron along the driveway.
Petunia planter.
Luminous, new foliage on the back yard oak leaf hydrangea.
Columbine that has volunteered itself along the driveway.
My angel of the garden tucked in amongst the pachysandra, vinca and rhododendron.
I sometimes look to my garden for inspiration that I can bring to the workbench.
I've used dried leaves to roll print textures.
I've tried to capture the essence of floral forms in metal.
Last summer, I paid a little more attention to the seed pods of the Koelreuteria (golden raintree) in my front yard.
After a wonderful summer display of yellow flowers, bright green pods develop, and
the tree looks like it's covered with lovely, tiny lanterns.
Last summer, I thought it might be interesting to see if I could make this form out of metal.
I used an Xacto knife to carefully dissect a few pods so I could understand the separate shapes that make up the form.
I made patterns out of heavy cardstock.
As is typical, those patterns stayed tucked away on my workbench for a few seasons.
A couple of weeks ago, I finally decided it was time to try something with those patterns.
Using my metal shears, I cut out shapes of different sizes and began fold forming the pieces.
My initial thought was to solder pieces together to make the pod shape, but I began to like the leaf shapes that I was forming.
I now have enough of these copper leaves to start experimenting
with actual pieces of jewelry.