Wednesday, February 29

Ages and Years of Leap Day

     It's been a while since I made some of these faux pocket watches. I've been wanting to try them with the new pewter bezels ever since I made the new bezels, but the weather has still been too chilly to pour resin. This last weekend I finally got a chance to try them out, and they fit perfectly!
     I have several styles of faces for these little clocks, and they are all in french. Since these two turned out to fit well, I'll be working on some more soon. Surely warm weather will be here to stay very soon.
     Today is February 29, it's Leap Day. It comes every four years, to keep our calendar on track. It makes February, which is always a short month, just one day longer than usual. 
     I don't know how exactly to celebrate Leap Day. I vote for something sweet to drink, and something salty to eat. 
     Happy Leap Day, 2012!

Tuesday, February 28

The Memory of Color

     Pewter cast in familiar shapes.
     Resin made to look like glass. 
     Polymer clay made to look like ceramics.
     And all of them, made to look old, vintage, antique. Imperfect, worn-looking, with the maker's hand so visible. I don't want my work to look manufactured or machine made, I want it to have the look of something old, a treasured piece from the distant past. The shapes, the colors - all meant to have that same ancient style.
Memory
My mind lets go a thousand things,
Like dates of wars and deaths of kings,
And yet recalls the very you - 
Twas noon by yonder village tower,
And on the last blue noon in May
The wind came briskly up this way,
Crisping the brook beside the road;
Then, pausing here, set down its load
Of pine-scents, and shook listlessly,
Two petals from that wild-rose tree.
Thomas Bailey Aldrich
     I hope I have achieved it, that resemblance to all things old and well-worn.

Monday, February 27

Safe Heart

Some of the resin pieces I used were created a long time in the past, before the relocation, before the new studio. While I was rearranging the furniture in the studio to set up a resin workstation, I found a very small box in a drawer. When I opened it, it held all the resin pieces I had packed before the move. It was like finding an old friend - I remembered making them. The photo of the two children with the word "SAFE" - that piece was made and packed away, and just rediscovered. And it was lucky that I did find them that day, because the temperature was too cold to pour new resin. It would be almost a week before it warmed up enough to pour new pieces. It was like a little time capsule, a little gift to myself. Here, future self - you'll need these one day. You'll be glad you packed these and kept them, and you'll find them at just the right time. Keep them SAFE. You'll be happy to find them again.
       And I did. And I was. I am.

Sunday, February 26

Golden Treasury

       In the past I used to collect used books, old volumes of poetry from the early 1900's. You probably know the ones I mean, they are small, fitting nicely in your hand, and have yellowing pages. The one I'm looking at right now was bought at a used book sale, the date on the book is 1927. Sometimes I find interesting things inside the pages, used as bookmarks and lost. In the front of this book, the name of the original owner is written in the spidery handwriting of that time, in ink, with this note written in all capitals underneath:
This is the second book I
have bought. Please return.
     Well, I can't return it. I think I paid the pencilled amount on the second page, 50 cents, to bring this book home from the used book sale. The title is "The Golden Treasury" - selected from the best songs and lyrical poems in the English language and arranged with notes, by Francis T. Palgrave (late professor of poetry in the University of Oxford.)  
     The first little slip of paper marking a place is on page 303 - I open it to see what was the interesting lines marked to be remembered. It's marked with a torn corner from a newspaper, but there's no date. Too bad, I would like to know when it was put in the book, and left there for me to find.
By The Sea
it is a beauteous evening, calm and free;
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility;


The gentleness of heaven is on the Sea;
Listen! the might Being is awake
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder - everlastingly.
     I'm far from the sea here, but we have had many thunderstorms lately, and everlasting rain. Keats, Sir Walter Scott, Wordsworth and Byron all have their poems in this book. And Shakespeare, of course. 
     The picture above, in the round bezel with the word "Dream" on her forehead, is Emily Dickinson. Of all the poets, I like her the best.I turn quickly to the Index of Writers, and her name is absent, she's not included in this Golden Treasury. I suppose Professor Palgrave missed out on her, somehow.

Saturday, February 25

Rosaire Saint of Lourdes


     Happy Saturday! Even though it was a short week, with Monday and Tuesday off work, I thought I would never make it through the week and get to Saturday and the studio. It's plenty warm and sunny around here, and I have plans for a major resin pour today. I have my fingers crossed for some great focal pieces. 
     Along with re-creating some of my bezel molds, I've also been working on some of the more figurative and decorative medallions, making them easier to finish and visually cleaner. This Rosaire is one that I worked on this week, and I just love the worn look on this patina. I don't always have control over the patina and how it interacts with the metal, and this one is especially nice, I think. I'm going for a worn, dark look in the pewter, or a bronze-coppery look in the highlights.
     This medallion was a loan to me by a lovely friend, Diana, on the west coast, who found it in France and let me take a mold from her original. It's a little tricky to clean up after casting, with all those quaint points and indentions, but I just adore the look of it, so it's worth it.
     This is another loan of a medallion, this time from Deryn Mentock, who sent me the original. I don't know if the original is contemporary or vintage, but I loved the shape of it. It's another one that's slightly tricky to clean up after casting because of the lovely undercuts and round points. I re-made the mold for this one to make casting it cleaner and I'm very happy with the details that came out on it.I'm experimenting with adding color, to make those points around the outside bright red - we'll see how that works out!
     The original that this charm was cast from was also sent to me by Deryn Mentock. I've been meaning to mold and cast some for a while, and finally got that done this week. The original was definitely modern, and possibly italian in style, but I wanted to give it an old fashioned look, and darkened the color. I think these will be great for earrings, they're small and lightweight. I was able to capture a lot of the detail, fortunately.
     I'm headed over to the studio today to get more things finished. If the weather holds, maybe I'll ride the bike over.

Friday, February 24

Flute of the Spirit

     A dear friend of mine, someone I've known since high school - let's not discuss how many years ago that is! - sent me a lovely package last Christmas. Usually, Karen and I exchange Christmas cards, catching each other up on our family and recent events, and the occasional email at holidays. Last Christmas I was pleased and surprised to receive a brown package, a large envelope, with a hefty feel to it. When I opened it, it was an antique book of images from France! Karen explained that she knew I would "make use of the images" from the book. I'm keeping the original intact, it's lovely and I don't want to take it apart. But photocopies on photographic paper reproduce the images very well, and all of the pendants in the picture have images from the french ornament book.
They remind me of barkcloth, from the 1930's, you know the fabric that drapes and upholstery were made out of. The colors are luscious, the images very old-fashioned. 
There are many pages of other images that I haven't tried yet, but I love the idea of giving them a new life, to be made into some special jewelry and worn. I'm combining them with resin and my new bezels, to end up with a vintage-looking finished pendant drop.
The flute of the infinite is
played without ceasing
and its sound is love.
Kabir
     Friends far and near, I hope you both hear and play the flute of the spirit every day.

Thursday, February 23

Meditations

     These little moon faces have been very popular in the Etsy shop - but I haven't made any new ones in a long time. One of my goals, on my to-do list this week, was to make up some new bezels for the moon faces, and now I have one with a hole at the bottom for dangles to be added! I want to use them myself, but instead I will put them in the Etsy shop, for all who have waited so long for the moon face pendants to come back.
Spiritual life is the bouquet,
the perfume, the flowering
and fulfillment of a human life,
not a supernatural virtue
imposed on it.
The Power of Myth - Joseph Campbell
     Sometimes when I'm in the studio, I play the interviews with Joseph Campbell that I recorded years ago. I love to listen to him talk about the histories and the stories we all know and cherish. As we enter the season of Lent, I wish all of you the bouquet, the perfume, the flowering and the fulfillment!

Wednesday, February 22

Ash Wednesday Icons

     After the baby blue from yesterday, here are some hearts and icons in a lighter tone for Ash Wednesday. My little Methodist church behind the house is having an Ash Wednesday service tonight. It's very small, and there are only a few of us, but very special and meaningful. Most of the folks who attend are from the neighborhood. 
     For a long time I dreaded making bezels, because my mock-ups in polymer clay weren't tight and smooth, so I had to do a lot of cleanup after casting. While I had the time off, I re-created the bezels, and made new molds from the brand new shapes. Now they are tight and there isn't as much cleanup after casting. So I was able to make quite a few in the few days I had in the studio. 
     I've been meaning to do this for quite some time. It's the TIME factor that has held me back. I had a whole list of to-do's while I had the last few days available, and I got quite a few items crossed off!
     I had little hearts like these in the Etsy shop when I first moved to Louisiana, but lately I haven't had any available - but I resolve to keep them around from now on!

Tuesday, February 21

Blue Heart Plenty

     Happy Mardi Gras! I spent the day in the studio, listening to music with a beat and making new pieces. I took my new bezel molds for a spin, and then filled them with some baby blue faux ceramic centers. I like combining the polymer clay with the pewter, the two seem to compliment each other. I hadn't done any polymer in quite a while, and I had to get myself back in the swing of things - but I'm pleased with the outcome. Over the next few days I'll be sharing the work that came out of spending last weekend and all day today creating. 
     The weather finally warmed up enough that I could start to pour some resin. I made new bezels to coordinate with the resin molds, to combine those also. I hope you will like the new pieces coming out of these few days of intensive creating. It was almost like having my own personal workshop, with me as the only member.
     I even hooked up the kiln and fired some glass today. Fortunately, the kiln is working fine and the glass came out very well. I have to shape and grind it and give it a finish polish firing this weekend.
     I can't think of a better way to spend a couple of days off from the day job!

Sunday, February 19

Red Ruby Rose


I have a couple of days off from the day job coming up next week - President's Day, and Mardi Gras Tuesday. Yes, I have the day off to celebrate Mardi Gras! I've been ramping up the studio, and I plan to spend the free time over there, working on some projects. I am working on my bezels - trying to improve the look of them, and make them easier to cast. Experimenting with the molding, and how I make the mock-ups in polymer clay, to give them a more finished look, while still keeping the hand-crafted overall feeling to them. I realized that I haven't done any resin or polymer clay work for a while. Some folks have emailed me, asking if I would be doing any soon, and that made me realized how long it's been.
     Part of the hold up is that there's no heat at the studio, and neither resin or polymer clay work well unless it's above 70 degrees F - which it hasn't been for a while.
     So in the next few days I will be showing some new work - hopefully both resin and polymer clay! I'm excited about having time off from the day job so I can spend some uninterrupted time in the studio doing creative things! 
     I rearranged the furniture in the studio so that I have a set up for the resin, and then the following days were all cold and wet and I couldn't do any resin pouring. Speaking of pouring, it has been very, very wet here the last week or so. The humidity has made the paper curl! 
     If you celebrate Mardi Gras, I hope you have a fun day - and Ash Wednesday the next day, as we head into the Easter season. 

Wednesday, February 8

Happy Love

Heartwings


     Happy V-day month! I'm getting ready for Valentine's Day. I bought some cute mini-cups for cupcakes with pretty designs on them. Now I need to bake and frost. I also have some chocolate to make homemade candies.  At least I'm thinking about it before THE day is here.
     I'm kind of in a dilemma, thinking about what I want to make next for the jewelry. I have all these ideas crowding my head, and no time to work on them. Some things I want to make will require multiple sessions in the studio, and since I'm only working there on weekends, that's a lot of separation between sessions. I'm thinking, though, when the weather warms up a bit more, maybe I can go over there for a few hours after my regular work day. The days are getting longer now, so I just have to keep the energy and the ideas alive until then.
     With the holidays, it's hard to find extra hours for anything else, but I'm coming up on V-Day now - so that should all be behind me now!


Do any of you take a regular, planned (or accidental) wintertime break from your studio and creative time? How do you keep continuity in your projects if you have a break in time in between?

Sunday, February 5

Time Less


When I knew we were moving to Louisiana, I stockpiled the metals for the pewter blend and had a lot on hand. That was almost two years ago now, and it's time again to get more metal. I've almost used up all that I brought with me. The price of metal, as I'm sure you've noticed, has gone way up lately, so I was concerned how much the cost would be. And the shipping, since metal is very heavy.
     I decided to try a new supplier that's closer to me, to keep the shipping prices down. So I placed a first order, and I'm waiting for it to arrive, so I can test out the new source and see how I like it. I have my fingers crossed about the new metal supplier. I'm sure it's not returnable, if I'm not too pleased. I only made a small first time order, so if it doesn't work as well as I'm used to, I'll just order again, this time from the usual metal supplier, and pay the extra shipping cost. Pewter is an alloy, a blended mix of metals, similar to sterling silver, which is silver blended with copper. With pewter, there are many ways to mix the metals, to get a certain patina or durability in the blend.
     In the meantime, while I'm waiting to cast pewter, I want to make some new charms like the ones pictured above. For a while there I was making them fairly often, but I don't think I've made any since the relocation. For one thing, during the move something happened to one of the drawers of my lateral file cabinets, the one that's full of my vintage papers and collage materials. It's jammed somehow, and I can't seem to get it open. You can imagine my frustration there, I'm sure.
     To make the round charms, I use my glass grinder to shape the glass, making an oval or rounded shape. So many things I want to do, think about doing, but I just haven't done.
     I like the look of them, and the way they work so well with the cast pewter elements. Maybe when the studio warms up just a bit more, since there's no heat on over there, I can spend a long Saturday making some of these charms. 

Friday, February 3

"TOO" "FUNNY"


     Okay, I admit it. I have a pet peeve. (well, more than one, actually, but today I'm talking about this one). It involves the incorrect use of apostrophes and quotation marks in signs, letters, online ... you get the idea. It makes me cringe. And sometimes giggle, and occasionally guffaw.
     So imagine my surprise when I accidentally came across an entire blog about the incorrect use of quotation marks!  I laughed myself silly at some of these photos and their captions.
     I'm also kind of persnickity about apostrophes. You know, for contractions of words and also for making things possessive. I'm sure how I got this way, actually. Working in law offices for all these years, things get tricky and you find you have to learn some rules that you maybe slept through in school.
     Anyway, if you're like me and wince when you see quotation marks where they were never needed, check out the unnecessary quotations blog and have a chuckle.

Thursday, February 2

Pre-Summer Planning and Planting



Driving into town in the early mornings, I really look forward to the days getting longer. Every day since December 21, the sun has come up a little earlier, and gone down a little later. Even though I think of June as mid-summer, by the time June 21 comes along, the days are beginning to shorten again, going toward the fall and the beginnings of winter.


This year there hasn't been much of a winter, although I'm told that it can snow here as late as April. Many people garden year-round here. That's something I'm going to have to learn, I'm used to letting the garden go dormant in December until it is awakened in April or May. My neighbor told me she has sweet peas blooming already in her garden. 




Many people think that Louisiana doesn't have colorful trees in the fall, but you'd be surprised how bright the leaves get before they drop to the ground. The difference may be that the leaves don't drop until much later than they do in other places. 


Oddly, the plants I put in last summer, in boxes at the sidewalk in front of the house, are trying to bloom now. In February. Why not, I guess, since it's 70+ degrees F today. I mean, the plants must be a little confused, since it drops down into the mid-40's F at night, and goes back up into the 70's F during the day.


I am apparently allergic to something that grows here, that I've never been exposed to before in all the different places I've lived. I've heard that it's fairly common to develop new allergies after moving to Louisiana, that there are unusual plants here. So I am experimenting with taking an anti-histimine every day. I have a mini-pharmacy in my car.


My daughter loaned me her small camera, so I can carry it around in my handbag and take snapshots here and there. I downloaded an editing tool, too, so I can have some fun with the color and cropping. I'm not as good with the camera or the editing as she is, but I'm having fun with it, playing with the images.


I've ordered the Burpee gardening calendar to inspire me with spring gardening ideas!

Wednesday, February 1

Story in Reversed Forward



Have you ever thought about writing a story, telling a tale. Maybe a made up one, maybe a true one from life. Something that happened, or something that we wish had happened. This last week I bought a package of various widths and sizes of paint brushes at the supply store. They aren't fancy; really, they are meant for kids. I thought if I brought them home for myself, maybe they'd get me started painting again, journaling in a notebook or something similar.


The term "journaling" makes it seem more formal and technical than it should be. I want to mess with color on paper, and maybe on cloth, and make fun images. Not knowing ahead of time what they will be, just splashes of color that begin to tell some kind of fun or sad or silly story.


I was thinking about the idea of the blog. If you were to write a story in a blog, would you have to write it in reverse? Because when you read a blog, you see the most recent thing first, and then go back in time. Backwards reading. From the present to the past to the deep long ago time.


So if you wanted to write a story in a blog, would you have to put the ending, and then the chapter before the ending, and so on, until the last thing you wrote was the beginning? So that when it was read in the blog, it would read in the right order? For some reason I've been thinking about this for days, trying to figure out how you could put a storytelling adventure into a blog, and have it read in the correct sequence when you were done.


If I was clever, I'd try to figure out a story that could be read in any order, sort of like pulling playing cards out of a deck, and have it still make sense. But depending on the order you read the cards, the story might come out with a different ending.Or if the story's pages had holes for putting into a 3-ring binder, the story could be changed, rearranged and added to all the time. Sort of like life feels like, sometimes.


Maybe the problem is words. If the story was told in images, in pictures, would it matter the same way what order you looked at them? If I'm honest, does it really matter what order things appear in, as long as we truly see them, and make the images part of our story ... ?