Friday, July 31

Rosebud Daffodil Artfriends GET WELL CARD


It's almost August 1. I have several family birthdays coming in August. The seasons are rolling by, the days are shortening just a bit, now that the longest day of the year is past. I made this pair of earrings a while back, with little roses and bee charms as the dangles, I need to make some more for myself.

I'm planning to carve out some time to make some jewelry out of my own components, a publishing deadline and a swap exchange are both all finished and everything is shipped out. The slate is clear and I can start to think about new ideas. I'll share more about the exchange soon, I don't want to spoil any surprises!


I also love seeing what other talented artists are doing with some of the things I've created. These two little rosebud charms, with oversized darkened loops on the top, were just meant for earrings when I made them. But of course there's a world of possibilities on how to make those earrings.


This photo shows the little
rosebuds made into earrings by Lorelei Eurto. I just love how she used the large top loop to attach all the little dangly colors, it looks like berries or rosehips, with the stylized flowers showing for a little glam.

They're on sale in her shop right now! Treat yourself to a pretty new pair of summer earrings while the roses are still blooming in the yard, and wear them later when the snows are deep.

Thanks Lorelei - these are gorgeous! I love how they turned out, they need to find their special pair of ears to adorn... (I just found out she's been in hospital - GET WELL SOON, LORELEI - I planned this post before I knew you were under the weather, I must have had you on my mind!)


And Lorelei used one of my other flower connectors, the daffodil, to make this beauty.


It's fantastic, you can read more about the necklace on her blog!


And see way down at the bottom, the little fern leaf dangle, that's one of my pewter handcast charms too!


It's exciting to see what the little beads of summer leaves and flowers become in the hands of others. And now I need to make some myself!

Thursday, July 30

Camera Eye


I'm having fun coming up with little charms and designs, I like things that are a little unique and look old-fashioned. So I made this little camera charm. I want to make a pair of them, for earrings. I can see myself wearing them and smiling to think that there are little cameras on my ears on each side of my face. Two of them, one for each eye. CLICK....


This one is small, cast in pewter, with two hanging loops at the top. For a charm bracelet or as a cellphone charm. For fun, like a prize found in the box of Cracker Jacks. It reminds me of the old Brownie style camera, or the camera I used in collage, to take a photography class. I still have that one, and wish I still had the Brownie box camera, too.

Wednesday, July 29

Charm Keeper Key


Keys and keyholes are a favorite emblem and symbol for me. My grandmother had an old wooden multi-pane french door that went out onto the screen-in porch. It had a decorative faceplate for a keyhole, I don't think they ever locked the door. But I remember the dark metal with its scrollwork, and the ornate opening for the skeleton style key.

I'm glad to see that type of ornamental decorative metalwork coming back into style in home decor. The vintage style decoration on utilitarian items, in daily use. It's very elegant.

This cast pewter faux skeleton key charm has two loops at the top for hanging, and a large curved loop at the bottom. I can picture many different charms or beads dangling from the large loop. Maybe something special for a gift. Or semi-precious birthstone beads, to remember children's birthdays.


Or I suppose it can be used as part of the clasp, with a large hook through the key's opening. I don't always know how the pieces I make will be used, but I try to think of necessary openings and loops. To give lots of creative options, for all you creative and inventive ones out there!

Tuesday, July 28

Tuesday Tips and the Ices of Summer


You may have noticed that I pick out things I find that inspire me from Etsy and showcase them on the left sidebar of the blog. I might be poking around and accidently find something wonderful, or I might be looking for something specific. Occasionally I put in a word that's on my mind just to see what fun things might come up in the search under Handmade on Etsy.



There's a clever lady named Lisa at EverydayGourmet, who makes miniature food and beverages that look real and good enough to eat! The photo is of her Lemon Granita Dessert and Limoncello Liqueur. Those are tiny miniature food replicas ... Don't they look luscious!

So for my Tuesday Tip this week I thought I'd include some easy recipes for real, life-sized granita. If you're on a diet and don't want to cool off from the hot summer weather with the real thing, at least tempt yourself with Lisa's miniature versions.


GRANITA or ITALIAN ICES

Don't have an ice cream maker? Love fruit juices and slushy yummy coolers?

How about fruit ices? They're easy to make, you don't need much equipment, and for this time of year when it's hot, and you want something cool and soothing, they're just the thing. With a frozen, grainy and coarse texture, they're different from ice cream or gelato.

Here are a couple of easy recipes.

COFFEE GRANITA
3 C hot brewed espresso or flavored coffee
1/3 C
1/2 C heavy cream, whipped (or store bought whipped cream spray)

Dissolve sugar in bowl using hot brewed coffee, cool to room temperature. (or if you're like me and you make cold brew coffee, use the sweetened concentrate out of the refrigerator)

When cool, transfer to shallow pan that fits in the freezer (test this first, before you try to put a too-large tray full of liquid and find out it won't fit - or make a level space in your chest freezer to do this)

Every 30 min stir using a fork, scraping the sides and bottom so all liquid freezes evenly.
Do this, freezing and breaking up crystals until completely frozen, about 3 hours, keeps in freezer up to 2 days.
Put serving in cooled ice cream bowl and top with whipped cream, either homemade or store bought whipped topping spray


LEMON GRANITA
4-5 large lemons
2 C water
1 C sugar
Take long strips of zest without the rind off the lemons, then cut in half and squeeze to get 1 C juice each (or use store bought bottled lemon juice, undiluted)
Combine water and sugar in saucepan and bring to a boil, then simmer and add lemon juice to dissolve sugar.
Add lemon zest and allow to cool to room temperature.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and transfer to shallow pan and put in the freezer. (see note above about checking for fit of pan in freezer first)
Stir with a fork, breaking up the ice crystals, every 30 min until completely frozen, about 3 hours, keeps in freezer up to 2 days.

MORE GRANITA TIPS AND HINTS:

You can make the simple syrup with water and sugar and keep it on hand, mixing together with raspberries, peaches, strawberries or other summertime fruits. Even watermelon!

Don't let the ice form heavy blocks or lumps of ice. The texture should be grains and flakes of ice, but not liquid.

The smaller the pan, the longer it takes to freeze, so use the largest shallow metal or glass pan you have, to make it go more quickly.

Don't forget to test for room in your freezer with the shallow metal or glass pan before you fill it with liquid and try to put it inside.

Be sure to scrape and re-mix frequently to get the right texture.

I've heard that substituting Splenda or another sugar-based sweetner for the sugar works also, but I haven't tried that and don't know if it will make the same simple syrup with the fruit - try it if you prefer that and let me know if it works.

If it melts before you get it all eaten, drink it like a slushy lemonade or iced coffee!

Monday, July 27

Crowing Keys, Fleur de Lys


I cast this ornate crown in pewter and added a small loop at the top and a large open loop at the bottom. I can see it as a clasp for a lariat style necklace, or a lot of long dangles on the bottom loop hanging down.


Or charms for a keychain, it's a large crown. It reminds me of doorknockers on bright red doors in Scotland. My hubby sometimes says that the focals are too large, but I prefer distinctive jewelry myself, so I lean toward substantial focals.


I also made a 3-way connector. It has a heraldic style, with thistle tassels and almost-legible latin words on it, and slightly curved in shape. I could see it used in a design with a chain connecting to a clasp at the top of the crown, with two, or even four, strands of beads or pearls from the two bottom loops and connecting to the large loop on the crown. It would be lovely that way, with the two of them in a design together.


Maybe even with the long key as a dangle off the bottom of the large loop of the crown. It reminds me of some of the paintings from the famous masters of dukes and duchesses, with the large lovely necklace strands against their velvet garments.


They have a patina that's slightly bronze or coppery in tone, and polished and buffed to give them a worn and vintage effect.

I could also see these made into some truly lovely holiday ornaments, for decorative or symbolic uses, on candlesticks or for a doorway decoration. Can you think of ways you see these components used, either together or separately?

Sunday, July 26

Through the Keyhole


It's been mild and lovely weather this weekend. I'm working on a swap project, getting everything together. The other project, the publication project, finished up last week.

With those projects well under way, I worked in casting pewter yesterday, it was nice to get back into the studio and work creatively on something fun.


I made this keyhole cover before the Independence Day holiday but hadn't finished it up yet. It was cast from a an original in my old house in Kansas City, before I moved to Saint Louis. I wanted it to be able to hold a lot of charms or chain, with a dangle at the bottom. Or possibly as a lariat loop, with strands of beads or chains through the large antique patinaed hole.


The key looks very ancient and asian, it's got a nice heft to it in the hand. I put a loop at both ends, it can hang either direction, or even horizontally, with chain or pearls forming the necklace. I think it's too long for a bracelet in this casting, but I may make one with a slight curve and see if I can make a bracelet with it, or make two tiny ones for earrings.

I love locks and keys! Especially antique styled ones that look very old and worn! I could even see these two combined into one powerful design, with the keyhole and key used together ...

They're in the Etsy shops now, if you want to see more photos, the key with the pewter and the keyhole in the ExpeditionD shop.

Friday, July 24

Spring Water Blue, Ocean Spray Blue



There's a blue color, slightly greenish, that I like to work with.


It's got a dark aqua background, with a baby blue highlight.

Not purple like periwinkle, not green to the point of turquoise.


Just a light, baby blue color.

Like a spring-fed stream, or the warm ocean waters of the caribbean.


The shallow ocean color, sparkling blue-green, with light blue ripples.

These pieces remind me of that color.

Thursday, July 23

Rose, Coffee and Treasure

My new rose colored asian oval links were featured in a beautiful Treasury on Etsy. See them there in the lower right corner? I love the colors and the items that were picked, aren't they lovely? The theme is coffee and wine, I can see the nice balance and hint of the theme, without being too obvious.


It expires today, so pop over if you'd like a closer look at some of the beauties selected by Corrie Berrie Pie! She did a nice job of choosing things for this Treasury.

Wednesday, July 22

Angel Face


When I traveled to Ireland and went to some of the ornate churches, in the churchyard there were many beautifully carved wings and faces in the decorations of the buildings.

This little emblem reminds me of those angels, their tiny faces looking down from columns and across from doorways.

And also decorative ornaments on french renaissance furniture, the crowns and wings speaking of the politics and religion of the time.


Like little girl's furniture, painted white with carved angels on the headboards and the crowns of the moulding decorating the closet doors.

Faux-tiques - reminders of the real antiques, created to evoke and capture a mood.


The reverse side has french script writing, like music notations, elegant yet faded in a light burgundy lavender color.

Tuesday, July 21

Hopeful Growth, Grow Hopeful


From somewhere, my hands ended up making these little marker emblems with a word on each of them.


One says 'G-R-O-W' and one says 'H-O-P-E'.

On the back they have spiral designs and tiny words, and they look like they've been in a mossy fountain. Ancient and verdant, sweetly romantic and nostalgic.

They have a nouveau swirl look, like medallions, and a hole open as a spot for a dangle on the bottom.


I was thinking they would make nice bookmark decorations, or an ornament for a handbag or tote.

A keychain bead, with an encouraging word - Grow Hopeful, or Hopeful Growth. I want to make more, with other words. So far words of four letters seem to work best - or I need a smaller font!

Monday, July 20

Lightly and Darkly


I only use eight colors of acrylic paint, to learn how to mix the colors to get what I want. I think that by using a limited palette I am more likely to learn what goes with which, what turns muddy and dark, and how to get the Tuscan-looking earthy colors I lean toward.


The winged crowned piece has those earthy colors, but sanded and polished to look very shiny and worn. I don't use any glaze on the pieces, the sheen is from lots of hand buffing and a run through the Foredom power buffer, to give them a natural worn polished look.


The black especially comes to a nice sheen when you polish it that way. Almost like laquered japanese boxes, or ebony wood. Sometimes they remind me of dark cast iron with a weathering paint layer, just barely showing.

It's back to the office today, I'm expecting a lot of final touches to the relocation, hooking things up and testing equipment. At least it's the final stretch and the finish is in sight.

Sunday, July 19

Between The Lines


The weather has been beautiful, cool and shady. This morning I sat out on the deck to eat my cold cereal and drink iced coffee, the wind slightly blowing the leaves.

I got the black and chalk blanks finished and polished. It takes a bit of work to get them to the rough, aged look I like. Sometimes I was thinking of a toy prize in the box of Cracker Jack treats, and other times I was thinking of fountain decorations in italian villas.


I hope the finished look reflects what I was thinking as I made them. This one especially reminds me of Mardi Gras beads, with an enameled color on the crown and eye-catching colors on the back, like icing on a cupcake. I still feel the influence of the trip to the southlands, and the culture of the french quarter.


I don't always know when I start playing with them how they will finish up. The color in the cracks and hollows helps to make the details show up better.


Here's the back side of a few of them, the ones from the picture above, they're kind of rough and ancient looking with just a hint of color on some of them. It's nice to be in the studio for a while, now I'm going to take all the photos so I can put them in the Etsy shop.

Looking okay, for the first day back in a while ....

Saturday, July 18

Slate and Chalk


Today is the first time I've been in the studio for over a week. The office relocations are almost, very nearly done. I don't have to go into the office this weekend. What a relief! Combining two offices into one involves a lot of things you just never think about. Doubles of things, and things missing. It's a challenge, and never boring!


This morning the weather is cool and mild, so I opened up the studio and started playing around, nothing definite in mind, trying to warm up the hands and brain to a creative session.


These pieces are blanks, ready for color and patina. If you've ever wondered how things sometimes start, this will give you a little bit of an idea. It starts with shapes, ornamental designs or textures, in a chalky white or ebony slate black. A clear slate, so to speak.


After they are shaped and sanded and ready it's time to play with color. I don't always know how they will be colored when I start. I dab and wipe, sand and polish, until they get an aged and worn look that I like.

So you can see some dark beauties, and some white chalky or glimmery ones, before I start squeezing the color out of the tubes and take a brush in hand, to have some fun with color.

Friday, July 17

Dover Over Inspiration and Ideas

I love Art Nouveau designs, they are beautiful and organic. I have two huge framed posters by Mucha hanging in the house, they're wonderful. So when I saw that Dover Publishing is having their summer sale, and a book of art nouveau designs as a coloring book are included, I was so excited! I thought you might like to see some of them.

I have some of Dover's other art nouveau coloring books too. It's great to take out a set of colored pencils and just fill in the colors as you see them, reminds me of times when I was a small girl with crayons and a coloring book.

Dover publications are copyright-free and in the public domain, so they're great for collage or designs, when you need something unusual or historic. I signed up for their sampler, they occasionally send me a list of new books as they come out.


I can see this design printed onto a transparency sheet and put over a hand colored background. Or printed onto a large sheet of paper and colored in, with lettering or images put over the top.

They have a whole crafts section in their summer sale, with books on quilting or stained glass patterns and all sorts of good things, pop over and check them out. Maybe you can save some money on a great book you've been wanting, or find a gift for someone!

Wednesday, July 15

Local Fare Exhibit in Glass


I've mentioned before that I'm very fortunate here in Saint Louis, there's a lot of glass options, resources and talented glassworkers here. There's also a nice place for classes and exhibits, it's the Craft Alliance on Delmar. They're having an exhibit that starts in a few days, the Faculty is showing their wares!

Last year I signed up for a lost wax casting class in silver there, they have a nice facility with all the equipment and great teachers. Unfortunately my torch terrors closed in on me and I had to abandon the casting class.

Now that I'm casting pewter, I can still do metal pieces, but without invoking my terror of the torch. It haunts me, and keeps me from doing any glass lampwork beadmaking or taking classes that involve using the torch.


This piece is called "Carmelized" and it's by Mary Smith. She's a lampwork glass bead designer, and I love the graphic quality of her work. But it's understandable, as she started as a graphic designer for twenty years! I don't know her personally, but I understand she lives here in Saint Louis, or nearby.

This glass necklace is stunning, don't you think? Just look at those colors and the chunky glass globes. I want to go over to the exhibit and see it in person. I have the postcard to remind me, it's hanging up on my bulletin board right in front of me.


She has now won three international jewelry design awards, the prestigious Saul Bell Design awards, for 2006 and 2007. First place for two years in a row, pretty amazing. And again in 2009, taking second place with her jewelry piece "Carmelized" - check out her blog for more details.


I'll have to make sure I go over to this exhibit, I'd love to see these pieces in person! It makes me regret even more my TORCH TERROR limitations ... such gorgeous lampwork glass.