Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bracelet Redo

Early last year, I made one of my etched, mixed-metals bracelets featuring a central bezel with part of a vintage black & white photo.
I admit I briefly hesitated before using this image of a man wearing a sleeveless t-shirt, looking to his left.
A somewhat peculiar selection, but there was something about this guy that captured and kept my attention.
I imagined him as a sort of hybrid of James Dean and Tom Joad with a rich storyline of integrity and struggle.
Well....I thimk I'm the only one intrigued by this gentleman.
The bracelet caught the attention of quite a few people, but the reaction was typically,
"That's weird."
"Ummmm....that's kind of creepy."
Since I had not made the bracelet for it to become a part of my permanent collection,
I decided James/Tom Dean/Joad had to go.
A jasper cabochon set in a sterling bezel on a piece of milled copper is the new central highlight.
The bracelet is now at Woodmere Art Museum, along with a group of earrings and necklaces that were delivered this afternoon.
James/Tom Dean/Joad is back on my workbench...
and I have no idea what to do with him.
I think I'm stuck with him.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Third Necklace Completed

Since I didn't have to shovel away the blizzard that didn't arrive, I was able to spend part of this morning finishing my last of the three thrift store pendant necklaces.
When I bought theses pieces, I immediately knew that I wanted to pair the religious medallion with one the remaining links from my thrift store chandelier.
The patina and texture of the link and the medallion seemed like a good and natural pairing.
I chose to wire wrap the chain using sterling silver wire and chain with crystals, iolite, citrine, Herkimer diamonds (form of quartz) and pearls.
All that wrapping took quite a while, but I finished the necklace yesterday and took some photos.
The more I looked at my finished necklace, the more it bothered me.
I decided I really didn't like the shiny appearance of the chain and how it contrasted with the medallion and chandelier link.
It was time to take out the liver of sulfur.
A brief soaking in the liver of sulfur solution turned all of the sterling silver black, and I used a fine grit sanding block for selective cleaning.
A thin gauge wire had to be used to get though the drilled holes in the gemstones which meant I had to sand very slowly and very carefully.....
kind of tedious, but definitely worth the effort.
Much better!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Scraping to a Better Painting

After taking a short painting hiatus so that I could focus on making jewelry for a variety of holiday show, it feels good to get back to an easel. 
The more I paint, the more I appreciate that I don't know many of the fundamentals taught in art school.
Much of what I learned as I pursued degrees in landscape architecture and designed gardens and public spaces informs what happens on my canvases,
but there's so much that I need to/want to learn about color mixing, understanding shadows and developing atmosphere.
My current focus is painting to learn, and not necessarily painting to end up with a good painting.
Lucky me....I'm learning from Martin Campos 
Yesterday's still life had me struggling with the red cloth that covered the table and wrapped around the green bottle holding a lily stem.
My table was looking like an awkward red blob until Martin suggested that I mix some dark green for the deep shadows.
What a difference and what a good learning moment.
I had a good learning moment on a painting that I didn't consider a keeper.
While the paint was still wet, I decided to scrape it with a palette knife so that I could reuse the canvas.
 The more I scraped, the more I liked it.
Now I'm thinking that this is a painting that could go somewhere interesting.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Repurposed Brooch Necklace

Necklace number two
of my repurposed thrift store finds is now complete.
The red glass cabochon pendant used to be a brooch until I cut off the pin finding and filed and sanded surfaces until smooth.
I considered drilling new holes but opted to use the existing voids for my wire wrapped connections.
The chain was fabricated by wire wrapping crystals, pearls, textured brass beads and two vintage red glass beads along with segments of sterling silver chain.
Wire wrapped pearls and a crystal dangle from the bottom of the pendant.
I'm hoping that this will be one of the selected pieces
when I deliver new inventory to Woodmere Art Museum this week!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

So Proud

My one son was featured on 'The Pulse'
As usual,
I'm a very proud mom.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Whoops...I thought It Was Done

As I neared completion of my covertly Valentine necklace, I thought that it needed something in addition to the gemstone/pearl wire wrapped chain, so I added a length of sterling silver chain.
 Even as I took the photos of what I thought was my completed necklace, it didn't feel right.
The added chain was a lazy way of completing the necklace, and I knew that I should have done a better job.
The sterling chain came off ...
and I added a new section of wire wrapped amazonite and pearls.
now I can call it done.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thrift Store Finds

As my jewelry making evolves, I find myself focusing less on incorporating recycled or upcycled finds into my pieces.
My recent plan has been to fabricate the important components, especially the feature pendants of my necklaces. 
Well...plans should be flexible enough to be modified
like when something really wonderful is found at the local thrift store. 
I hadn't meant to buy potential pendants, but there they were, costing all of $1.00 each.
The top two brooches seemed to be good candidates for Valentine related necklaces.
I have a weakness for religious medallions, especially the one at the bottom.
Portions of the relief image are worn down, and I can easily imagine that a previous owner frequently held this medal at times when spiritual comfort was needed.
I immediately had ideas of how put these new treasures to use and decided to focus on the bejeweled lyre which I thought resembled an upside-down heart.
In previous years, I shamelessly tried to take advantage of Valentine's Day purchases by making necklaces and earrings with red heart Swarovski crystals and heart shaped charms with wire wrapped rubies and garnets.
Using this brooch with a new perspective might be a more gentle and subtle way to pay homage to the day dedicated to hopeful romantics.

The pin had some form of lacquer coating which protected the shiny brass finish and which also annoyed me.
I have a definite preference for a more burnished finish and a surface that will develop a natural patina with time.
Sanding blocks of varying degrees of grit were used to reach the surface texture that I wanted.

The soldered pin finding on the back was then removed, which proved to be a little tricky since the 'strings' of the lyre are fairly delicate and easily deformed.
Holes were drilled for connections to the chain and for a dangle of gemstones.
Keeping on my path of subtlety, I decided that no red would be used and instead went to my pale blues of amazonite and chalcedony with highlights of pearls and crystals.
time to start on the next necklace.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Photographing My Inspiration

  Years ago, when I was a landscape architect at Morgan Wheelock Inc., our office was on Boylston Street in Boston, kitty-corner to the Public Garden.
A few storefronts away from our building was a flower stand, and I made it my habit to stop on Monday morning to buy flowers for my desk.
So much time was spent at work that I decided I should have something lovely to look at as I drew plans of beautiful gardens.

I still think it's important to have something lovely to look at and frequently have flowers on my dining table and in my kitchen.
Lucky me....
Produce Junction is nearby,
my go-to flower source.
I can pick out any selection of flowers to make my own arrangement,
and I rarely spend more than $8.00.
Are fresh flowers a necessity?
No, of course not, but I think $8.00 of colorful beautifiness is money well spent.
Since I started painting, I now see each arrangement as a potential painting...
so they all get photographed and sent to my "Images for Art" file.
Thinking ahead to that possible, future painting
has made me a more thoughtful flower arranger
(I think).
Sometimes those possible paintings actually happen....
like these two quick studies...
of beautiful tea roses....
and these cheerful sunflowers
in one of my vintage mason jars.
And sometimes,
I photograph my food.
 Like these lemons, right before they became part of my son's favorite chicken dish.
This painting isn't complete yet,
but the chicken dish was great.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Looking Back

Another year gone.
...a year that I sometimes had to trudge through, focusing on getting through one day, one hour at a time.
Fortunately, it was also a year that I sometimes danced through, enjoying a few surprising, magical moments.
At the start of the New Year, I like to look back at my work from the previous 12 months.
When setting new goals for work, it helps to assess where I've been in order to understand where I should go.
My jewelry continues to evolve in a direction that keeps me exploring new ways to use familiar materials.
Being just one of the many, many, many designers who are making jewelry, developing and maintaining a unique voice is a constant struggle.
I still resist having a signature look, but like to believe that the body of work produced this past year tells a cohesive story that highlights my respect for the natural world.
Improving my soldering skills, using more sterling and finding new galleries are jewelry goals for the new year.
Last year's painting goals were somewhat realized.
I aimed to improve and to sell more pieces.
Painting with greater confidence, I sought out new display opportunities.
As a result of two solo shows, one joint show, and two juried shows, six of the above paintings as well as nine others, sold.
My goal for this year?
More painting, more confidence, more selling.
...a year that I hope will be filled with happiness and creativity
for everyone.