Wednesday, September 30, 2009


There was a trend for a while in home decorating. I think it was called "nesting" - where people invested time in their homes and entertained themselves there instead of going out.

I still see it, with cooking and entertaining for friends at home.

Watching movies and listening to music at home.

Things like Superbowl parties and dinner get-togethers.

I'm not much of a hostess, but I do enjoy spending time at home instead of going out.

So this little oval charm, with the word "NEST" inside, might be about that.
As the days shorten and the weather starts to cool, finding a way to be comfortable and cozy at home.

Hot chocolate, a fire in the fireplace and a warm afghan over my knees. Looking ahead to the changing season.

Nested and cozy.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Teaching is a Gift

Back when I lived in Texas (pre-1999) I taught evening college classes connected to my career. It was a challenge working a full-time job and teaching at night, but the people were so committed and wanted the most out of their classes. I got a charge out of seeing them and working with them.

Since I moved to the midwest I haven't been teaching. Not for the career line of work and not the creative stuff I'm doing.

I've thought about teaching classes in the studio in the basement and have it set up so that would be possible.

And I've had folks approach me about teaching various aspects of the faux-tique making that I enjoy so much.

As anyone who has taught knows, you learn as much as you teach. And you have to be really prepared. Lots of samples, examples, handouts. A thoroughly prepared concept for the class, a defined goal.

So I'm wondering - if I decided to put together all the materials for a class, one that YOU would like to take - what would you want the class to include? What would you like to learn about the various things that I enjoy doing and making?

Respond to the post, give me your feedback, thoughts and ideas. There'll be a giveaway chosen from the posts here!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Flights Of Angels

The lyrics to an old song are running through my head these days, for no apparent reason.

All Day, All Night,

Angels Watching Over Thee My Lord,
All Day, All Night,

Angels Watching Over Thee

Maybe it's all the hubbub about the coming flu season, everywhere you turn you hear about it. Flu shots, outbreaks.

Or maybe it's the result of listening to late night Jazz and Blues radio shows. Gospel music in the old-time style.

I wish I could show in a photograph the colors, depth and sparkle in this new medallion.

It has a coppery-bronze look, and the colors are very unique. I can't replicate those happy accidents that happen sometimes. This is one of those special colorings that just happens.

The back is very ornate too. Maybe I have the upcoming holiday season on my mind.

Angels or cherubs, baby faces with crowns. I don't know why they're on my mind right now, but I'm happy this one came to visit me, through my imagination and out the fingertips.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tiny Charms with Tiny Photos

My hubby watches me make things in the studio and sometimes asks me questions. It's good to have someone talk to you about what you're doing, especially someone who may not understand all the steps and parts.

A fresh perspective!

He asked me the other day why I usually add the cast pewter bezels or the soldered jump rings to the charms. It's something I just took for granted. After all, you have to connect things to them to make them useful, don't you?

Well, I thought a lot about the question. And I decided to try a simple loop connection. I like them, they're very simple. With their old style paper moon photographs inside.

Especially these tiny ones, they're hard to attach to their settings.

I just got a roll of the non-tarnishing brass wire, so I made some twisted wire jump rings and created the earwires with the bright brass also.

Do you think they're too simple? Or, like my hubby, do you think that sometimes less is more?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vermouth Blanc and Tonic Wine

I love old advertising artwork. I have an old version of the Sears Roebuck catalog from 1900. It's all in black and white, and part of the facination is the type of items available for sale.

Things that we don't need or even think about any longer, in the culture now.

I heard that there was even a series of houses that you could purchase from Sears, as a kit. It arrived shipped on the railroad. And it had to be assembled on the spot.

Several people I know have built houses this year. It's a lot of work, tons of decisions. Can you picture choosing a house out of a catalog.

The images back then were mass produced, printed and distributed. They have a special grainy quality to them. A look that places them in a timeframe, from their style and their use of color.

Very graphic.

I especially like the advertisements for liquor. They have an elegant quality too.

So I made some up into earrings. The detail is surprising. And fun.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Art Life in the Heart

I've wondered how it might be to live as a full-time artist. Sounds scary and risky, to one like me who has always worked a regular day job.

I read blogs of folks who do live that life. It seems like a trade-off in some ways. Although working for a company is probably just as risky as being self-employed, or creating artwork for a living.

Recently the Saint Louis Art Fair was here, it's a huge art fair. There are what seems like miles of beautiful artwork of all kinds.

Years ago I did art shows, but I kept the day job, too. Guess I'm just not up for taking the chance, going full speed on creativity alone.

Maybe someday. If I get a chance to plan and make it happen, maybe I'll take that chance one day.

If you are making your bread-and-butter money with the fruits of your creativity, do you find it scary, rewarding - or both?

I celebrate your courage and creative inspiration! Viva the ART LIFE!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Tips and Recycling Saving Repurposing

I like to use the type of toothpaste brand that has the container that sits up. The tube toothpaste takes up so much room, and it has to be rolled and squeezed. The gravity-fed type just suits me better.

One day when I had finished out the toothpaste and washed it out I started looking at the container. The top part pops off, and it could be re-filled with something else. I had a VOILA moment.

In the studio, there are things I use that are messy, caustic or sticky, and I need to keep them from spilling or evaporating. But I need them close by, available and handy. Could I refill the empty toothpaste container with some of my chemicals and keep them sealed, yet handy?

Guess what! It works. A gel or even a fluid will go into it and seal tightly, yet the flip top is easy to open and squirt out a controlled amount just where it's needed.

So now I keep my gel flux in a re-purposed toothpaste container. It sits beside the soldering iron, and it's all sealed up and safe, but handy when I need to appy some flux.

I also use one like it for ammonia, one for flux cleaner. How do I keep straight which is which?

The toothpaste brand comes in different flavors and they have a different colored lid. So I use a specific color for each differing chemical or liquid.

So simple! Now my hubby isn't sure what he should save and what he should throw away so he asks "Is this trash" before he gets rid of anything!

I don't have children or visitors who come into the studio, but if you do and you decide to use some of these containers, you may want to put them away in a sealed box when you're not using them so no one is confused about what's inside, or put a big label on them saying that it's NOT toothpaste!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Shape of New Things

Yesterday I spent time working with the polymer clay and painting a lot of colorful new things. I had been working in the resin and pewter for a while, so I decided to get the polymer out and make some new things.

I also made some new molds. I haven't cast anything into them just yet, they are ready when the time comes.

I like using the polymer clay because it allows me to compile imagery together into new designs, like a three-dimensional collage.

There's something organic about it.

Some of the things that I made yesterday remind me of ceramics, and others look sort of like stone or rock.

I just noticed that I made RED - WHITE - BLUE color choices. Like the flag!

It's the faux-tique thing I enjoy - making replicas with the look and spirit of the original antiques. Anything I can dream up, I can try to duplicate. I made another container type ornate box, a reliquary. It has the word "SWEET" on the front. I haven't put color onto it yet. I've just accented the detail areas.

I can't decide what colors to use. I think something simple.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Looking Old, Paris Roads

When I traveled in Mexico many years ago, in the interior near Guadalajara, I stayed in an old fashioned hotel called the Hotel Francis. It had a stained glass skylight in the lobby, and the rooms were arranged on each floor around the central opening to the atrium. Old dark wood doors and trim, and a set of stairs but no elevator.

The room key came on a metal, enameled keychain with the name and address of the hotel on it. When I left I purchased a keychain like it, as a memento. I still have it.

This ornament reminds me of that hotel key fob, for a family hotel in Paris. It has the style and look of the 1930's, old fashioned with yellow and blue design and the key hanging alongside a handmade cast pewter Eiffel Tower charm.

I thought it might be fun to use on a keychain, with a faux Master key hanging as one of the dangles! Or swaying from a rear-view mirror, to dream of a trip to Paris or remember one from long ago.

In the spanish translation novel I've been reading lately the characters made a trip to Paris - maybe they stayed at this old family style hotel. It's a fun thing to think that they did.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Moving Slow

I usually get up and get going on things early on Saturday mornings. But today I slept late. That's very unusual for me. I'm a morning person.

Almost everyone at the office has been sick, or is getting over being sick. So last week was truly busy and challenging, with many folks at home ill.

So I've got a lot to do today. I've got packages to finish, wrap and ship. I've got to send the finished faux amber pieces out after I attach my name label to all the pieces.

This morning I made some chain links. Part were for an order, and some were to add to the shop.

I got really pretty patina on this group. A little blueish, and very warmly golden.

No matter how I try to find a pattern in the colors I get on the fine silver from the liver of sulphur, it's always different.

I think it must be related to the weather somehow. The patina will lighten, if you use a Sunshine cloth on them. But I like the heavy patina, so I leave them.

So I've got to get back in the studio and finish my packaging and make a run to the Post Office.

And maybe stop for some lunch at a deli on the way back. How decadent!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Living La Dolce Vida

The sweet life. That means different things to each person. It most likely includes family, food and fun. Something satisfying to do on a regular basis. Maybe that's exercise. Or music.

What does the good life symbolize to you?

These little earrings are the result of me thinking about "GOOD" and "LIFE" - how do we create that for ourselves.

How do we express that? Is it something you think about?

These are a translucent resin with the words "GOOD" and "LIFE" inside. A little reminder, or maybe a statement of achievement.

Someting to seek, that's different for everyone. What does the good life mean for you?

Wow, finally Friday! I'm so happy to see the end of the week arriving. Folks at the day job have been sick this week, so there hasn't been a full crew on board. That means the ones still standing have a lot to do. It's been a rough, difficult week.

I started another book by the spanish author I've been reading, it's titled "The Fencing Master" and it's set in the 1880's in Spain. I really enjoy the atmosphere in his books, and there's a lot of detail about styles, clothing and interiors that facinates me.

This weekend I have plans to clean up a bunch of resin pieces and get them finished, and to do photography and get them showing in the Etsy shops. It seems to take me forever to do the pictures and upload them. But until I do, no one can see what I've been working on, except me!

I really hope the weather holds this weekend so I can spend a little time out on the deck again, reading about the fine art of fencing with foil and grace. Who knows how that will inspire the outcome of my creativity time!

I have an idea to make some stick pins. I need to test my ideas out.


Oh - don't forget, if you want to be in the running to win one of my pewter charms over at the Art Bead Scene,
leave a reply to the Studio Saturday post. The winner will be announced tomorrow.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bracelet Making

I've been wanting to make some bracelets for a while, but I just haven't gotten around to it.

So I made a point to make some matched charms, with words and pretty images in them, to make a bracelet. And made up the bracelet last weekend. I wasn't sure how I was going to attach the charms to each other.

The words that came together were "OLD" and "NEW" and "BABY BLUE" - sort of like a jump rope rhyme that kids play.

It sounds like the old saying for brides to have luck. You know, "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" -- so I decided to put a glass faceted blue bead on the toggle clasp. For something blue.

It's tricky getting the jump rings lined up and attached. It's lightweight and pretty, fun to wear.

Imagine giving it to a bride or, better yet, letting her borrow it! Then the whole saying would be complete!

I noticed something interesting this week. The difference between how I got up to start the day last week and how I'm doing it this week.

Last week I was on vacation from the day job (thank goodness it's there, by the way!) and this week back in that routine.

I got up at the same time both weeks, between 5:30 am and 6:00 am. Last week, though, I bounded out, threw on some "don't care if these get dirty" clothes and went down to the studio. This week - I lingered and didn't move quite so quickly.

Not sure if this is a fruitful line of thought or not, but I spent a few minutes thinking about the hours of the day. From midnight to 6:00 a.m. - asleep. From 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. - commuting, working. That leaves the hours between 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. for leisure, play and creativity before the hours of 10:00 p.m. to midnight for sleep.

Just four hours out of the twenty-four doesn't seem like enough. I have to think of a way to increase that time somehow.

Any ideas? What do you do during the day to "sneak" in some "me-time"?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Daring Growing Pair

I used two of the lovely, luscious beads that Sue sent me in my surprise package to combine with these resin word charms for a pair of dainty earrings. I love the splash of color from Sue's beads. Yum! Like raspberries.

The resin word charms have seashell designs inside, and the color of her lampwork beads matched their color so beautifully. They have little bubbles as though they are underwater in a tiny tidepool by the shore.

They have the words "GROW" and "DARE" inside. A little bit of encouragement. There are days when I can use a reminder.

And sometimes it seems you have to do one of them to do the other. Don't you think so?

I'm well and truly back in the daily groove, working late last night. I made myself a resolution that I'd try to save more time for creativity in the day, it's so easy to slip back into habits.

At least that way the day goes by quickly.

The daylit hours are getting shorter, have you noticed? When I start up in the mornings now it's not light yet. I guess the seasons are definitely turning. Soon it will be the end of October and headed toward the holiday end of year season.

I guess I better start thinking about holiday designs. Where did the summer go so soon?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Matchbook Birds

I love old artwork, the kind that was used for advertising or promotions of products. These are matchbook cover art, the little birds and the lotus.

They have a feeling to them that you don't see in advertising any more. A roughness and sweetness.

Not too slick or modern, very rustic and linear, a little sketchy sometimes.

One little earring drop has a penguin on it. And it's odd because it's a pink penguin. I'm pretty sure they aren't naturally pink. Sitting on the lemon yellow background it has a tropical feeling, which is also odd for an artic bird. The country of origin is asian, so I wonder if they were using the penguin because it's exotic and far away?

The other earring drop has two chickens, a rooster or hen on it. It's the same lemony colored background. Very quaint.

I've paired them up with a focal bead that could be used for a pendant with just a simple satin cord, with a lotus blossom on it and the word "LOTUS" at the top. The leaves of the lotus are yellow.

Maybe all the matchbooks originally came from the same company once upon a time long ago. I can't read the writing on them, it's in another language. But very vintage and unusual looking. I like how they turned out.

Yesterday, the first day back in the regular routine, I came down with a stomach affliction. I had to grit my teeth and make myself hang in and not go home and crash - there was too much going on. But I made it through the day and slept a lot when I got back to the house.

I'm just grateful that the stomach bug didn't grab me while I was off work. It really irritates me when I have a day off and I end up feeling ill and can't take advantage of the day.

My tummy is still complaining and rumbling, but I feel a bit better today. Thank goodness!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wise Words

Do you wish you had more time? I know I do. Sometimes I get frustrated, wishing for more hours in the day.

I think it was those thoughts that led me to make these earrings. With the words "TIME" and "BLESS" in them.

To remind me to take time to count my blessings. Take a step back, take an accounting.

To enjoy the time I have available.

To be grateful, slow down and be aware of the good things that time brings.

That doesn't mean, though, that I don't sometimes wish I had a few more hours to get things done. Don't you?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Casting Styles, Timepiece Dials

Here are a few of the pieces I worked on during my week off, the fruits of my vacation days from the day job. The time seemed to fly past, no pun intended.

I had several styles percolating at once sometimes. Some very ornate and period, like the victorian clock looking piece. And the HOTEL VICTORIA PISA medallion with its italian flavor.

The clock face is rounded, with the inscription "CAFE DE LA TOUR PARIS" around the rim. I wanted it to look like a mantle clock. There's another one, too, with the words "PASTIS MARSEILLE" on it.

Do you remember the clock that ran backward in the movie about Benjamin Button? This oversized pendant reminds me of that clock, on the wall at the train station.

Or like an decorative pocket watch that someone once carried, with an advertisement around the rim. Maybe a prize or award.

Who knows why I make these things, it's just whatever is on my mind I guess.

In contrast there's the industrial style looking piece, with rivets and lines, looking like a dial from some machine. And the words "MAKE ART" set inside. Not all ornate and decorative. Just simple round disk, with a hole at the top for a jump ring. Like a metal dog tag.

Both with resin, both with cast pewter bezels. Totally different styles.

Both a little industrial and slightly steampunk I guess. Maybe?


Here are some interesting things I learned this week.

Old burnt-out drill bits are dull and don't like to drill through pewter.

Brand new drill bits are sharp and if you hold things with your fingers you may hurt your thumb. (no worries, nothing serious, just a scratch)

Resin that's just-mixed is sticky so wear an apron or old clothes you don't mind having small dots drop onto and make a series of interesting crusty spots on your clothing

Don't forget to wear safety glasses when clipping jump rings, those wire ends go shooting out like bullets (no worries, I didn't hurt my eyes)

Watch out for the sanding wheel in the dremel and keep it away from fingernails or you may very quickly see that you have a very strange-looking manicure (I do, but they'll grow back)