Sunday, February 28, 2010

Heart Friends

LeAnn Weih makes such lovely things.

I emailed her and admired some of her handmade white porcelain beads and hearts. She showed one day on her blog how she was making them at her dining room table, because her studio is chilly in the winter.

I can sure relate to that! The chilly studio, that is.

I love how the white unglazed clay fired into these shapes has a texture and the way it bounces light, it reminds me of white sand on a beautiful beach.

Something pure and simple in the shapes and the look of these beads.

I am enjoying just handling them. But eventually I ant to make something really special with them. She sent them wrapped in vintage bark cloth, like the kind you see on vintage wicker outdoor patio chairs, brilliantly colored and lovely.

Right now I am keeping the white heart on the keyboard by my hand. And every once in a while I pick it up and touch it, for its smooth-rough feeling surface.

Thank you LeAnn. You and your work are wonderful. And your kindness knows no bounds.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Working Weekend

I have to admit, I haven't been in the studio all week.

For one thing, it's been really cold and it's hard to work down in the basement studio when it's so chilly and doesn't want to warm up so my hands will loosen up.

So I've been working on projects upstairs, where it's warmer. Using some hand dyed fibers to make strands, adding hand dyed costume pearls.

And I've had some long days at the day job this week, it cuts into the time.

But today, cold or not, I'm headed down to the studio. Plenty of warm layers, double socks on my feet.

I need to get back in the swing of creating. It's definitely time.

My hubby was traveling and he had the camera with him, so I need to get it set up and take some photos now that he's back.

And I need to start working on ideas for my trades for Artfest. It's not that far away now, and I have my airplane tickets all set up.

Just need to get things rolling again.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Many Hands Makes Light Work

Many hands make light work.

That's an old proverb, about helping each other.

These are many hands, all made for a special project and on their way to their new home, to inspire many others that I haven't even met.

This was only half of the group, there were more than this.

I wanted to see what they looked like all together.

Now that the month of February is ending, I'll count up the number of Helping Hands that went out in January and February, to see how much help is going to Haiti as a donation.

It was exciting to see them go, as it meant I was helping and reaching out.
Thanks to all of you who joined hands with me on this project.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Phases and Notations

I only got a couple more of the small round glass soldered charms made last weekend.

One has musical notation on both sides.

The other one has markings of the phases of the moon from an old almanac. New moon, full moon, first phase. All in notations.

I love the way the markings are on paper, for both.

Both are symbols for something higher and inexpressible.

The lovely sounds of music.

The beautiful phases of the moon.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chaining Linking

I've been thinking a lot about fused silver links.

I love the way they look, the lightness of them and the hand-crafted quality to them, not like manufactured chain. I've been making notes in my little portable journal as ideas come to me.

I'm playing with fine silver wire to make the links. That's almost pure silver, not like sterling silver that's an alloy, these are 99.9% pure silver. Just for fun, I decided to twist the fine wire before forging the links shut.

I didn't know if they would fuse properly, but I wanted to give it a try.

I made these two short lengths, with two twisted wire links and one hammered and textured link.

I think they're really pretty. I decided not to put liver of sulphur on these two three-link sets, because they are so pretty just the way they are. Maybe later I'll patina some too, to make the twists show up even more.

I put them in the Etsy shop, they are really nice with the pewter, I could see them used for a pair of unusual earrings. Or on a bracelet with a focal bead in the center.

Or maybe with a pair of hearts hanging from them, as long ornamental dangly earrings.

I need to make some more pretty quickly and play with them...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Random Ramblings

It's raining here today, since last night it has rained steadily. It means that the last of the snow is gone. And that it's above freezing, otherwise there'd be more snow. A lot more snow, if all this rain turned to snow instead.

I didn't work late into the night again. I got too tired. But I did get all my orders shipped out yesterday, except for one large custom order I'm finishing up today. So that makes me happy. I like the feeling of completion I get when the goodies head out the door to new homes.

Today is strictly for finishing the custom order - then maybe something else. I made some new molds yesterday too, and can't wait to take some first casts from them in pewter.

This resin piece I created a while back, I wanted to see if I could drill through the resin to turn the cabochons into beads of a sort. On this one I wanted to add some twisted wire hanger made of annealed iron, to make it look like an old advertising token of some kind. It has the words "OLD STORY" in it, with several different memory recollection images inside it.

I put it into the Etsy shop, I have a couple more to photograph and add there later.

If I finish the custom order in time, I want to pour some more resin while the temperatures are warmer. The resin has to cure overnight, so I have to be sure it stays warm enough in the studio for it.

In using the mini-vacuum to clean up resin dust the other day I think I accidently captured some small resin beads in the dust catcher of the vacuum, so I need to open it carefully. I can hear something solid rattling inside, and two of the smaller resin beads are missing.

The dog comes in from outdoors with shiny drops of water on her back and dark feet from the wetness on the ground. I don't mind the rain, since I don't have to go anywhere today. I can just watch it out the patio door, dripping on the deck.
PS - I put a few things on sale in the Etsy shop, if you've been waiting for a little sale you might pop over and check out the list, maybe your favorite is included...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Early, Early or Late, Late

Yes, it's tomorrow already. Very, very early tomorrow.

I got started on something and lost track of time.

I love the look of old tintypes. But I don't like to alter or cut them, it makes me wonder about who those folks were and why their photos aren't still with their family and friends. I guess I'm sentimental.

So I wanted to come up with something similar to a tin type photograh, but a replica.

In a way, I feel I'm inventing ancestors.

The backs, I can't really call them bezels because they're flat not concave, are cast pewter. I added the sepia photos, very similar to the way the original tin type antiques were made, and coated them with resin to protect them. They're shiny and lightweight, with a brushed metal finish on the backs.

They look a little rough and tumble, but I like that about them.

And I don't feel guilty for cutting and drilling anyone, even if they aren't my own ancestors.

These two are of tiny girls dressed in cute hats and dresses.

I want to make some more soon. I have a fun photo of some cowgirls in their hats, I think they should become instant ancestors, too.

And now, I'm headed to bed for a few hours sleep.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gifts of Beauty

Mary Jane sent me some photos of a project she's working on, and she's used some of my components on the necklaces.

I just love when I get to see finished work using the pewter or glass, it's second-level creativity time for me.

Mary Jane is participating in Nancy Schindler's Book Club over at Round Rabbit. They're reading "The House At Riverton" and it sounds facinating, from the descriptions of the characters that Mary Jane sent me. She used some of the pewter, along with lots of other lovely things, to create necklaces inspired by the characters in the book. You can see more photos at her Flickr site and read the descriptions, too.

I love that she put a word onto the front of the toggle lock charm, and I told her that I'd been thinking of putting words onto the backs of some of the pewter components.

Must be a synchronicity thing! It's out there, available to inspire.

Don't you love these? I think the colors and ingenuity are wonderful.

And I really appreciate that she shared them with me, and gave me permission to share here, too.

Lovely, lovely.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Resin Meets Frozen Charlotte

You've seen the frozen Charlotte dolls around, I'm sure.

I decided to cast some in resin in a translucent, ivory cream color with just a hint of sparkle.

I put them in the ExpeditionD shop, along with the dyed pearls.

I've made Charlotte in pewter, these look like the porcelain but they're very light and easy to drill, if holes are needed.

I want to play with some myself, for now I've listed the three I made.

They're all different, just like the antique ones, some have only one arm.

Poor Charlotte! But so fun to use her, and here's another way - she's flat on the back so she can be mounted in a bezel or added to the outside of a book.

Frozen just like the white-coated ground outside.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Silhouettes of Leaves

I guess I have spring on my mind more than usual. I created these three little tags with bright colors, deeply rich in saturation, with leaves and images of flowers.

These are polymer clay, hand painted and distressed.

They remind me of ceramic tiles you might see in a vintage ceramic wall, or like a mosaic tile.

There's a queen anne's lace, and rose leaves.

The back side has leaf images too - they look worn around the edges.

With deep bright colors. Ruby red, aqua blue and denim blue.

Lots of layers of color, created while it's gray, black and white here outdoors, with yet another layer of snow on the ground.

Come spring!
Wowzers, I zonked out last night about 7:30 pm, sitting up in a chair. That's got to tell a person something, right? So I crashed and slept many hours. Maybe that means I'm getting better ... I sure hope so.

It's too cold in the studio right now, we got more snow and are expecting even more tomorrow, I've set up a little working spot upstairs so I can do things that aren't too messy or noisy. If it's still so chilly on the weekend I'll get out the heater and the heating pad for my feet. I've got things to do!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spring Green Spheres

Two weeks ago I put a bunch of costume pearls into dye, to get some to work with. To get the variations in color and the deep rich saturation takes a long time, I've learned.

These are a kind of dark olive green, they look very vintage to me.

I'm going to string some, and rosary wrap some with wire.

I think maybe some earrings, the longer drop shaped ones look like earrings to me.

They have irregularities in color because of the hand dyeing.

I made several colors to use in faux antique designs. At one time I listed some of them on Etsy, if someone else wanted to use them, too.

Would it seem silly to offer a few packages of loose hand dyed costume pearls in the shop? They're not real pearls, just costume. The dyeing process makes them look very worn, like they came off an old necklace that was taken apart to be re-used.

What do you think, should I offer some on Etsy? It's an experiment, like so many others...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Keep This Coupon, Admit One

Remember in grade school when you went to the carnival, or to the State Fair, and they gave you a ticket?

On one side it would say "ADMIT ONE" and on the other, if there was a raffle or door prizes, it would say "KEEP THIS COUPON" and maybe you'd get lucky and win something, if your number was drawn.

This small round connector has the image of those tickets in it. One side is blue, one side is orange.

I'm going to make more of the smaller round connector glass charms. I take them with me in front of the TV when I watch the news and wrap the round glass with copper foil tape. It's not too messy, I can do it upstairs instead of in the studio.

And it makes me feel like I'm doing something creative and useful while I'm watching TV.

I have a whole stack of the small round ones to do. And later I'm going to make more with dictionary definitions on them, long skinny rectangular ones.

This is the first one I finished up. ADMIT ONE. Good to know, while I'm watching a movie or something.
PS - Don't forget to jump over to the Art Bead Scene Blog if you want to post a comment to have a shot to win the "MAKE ART" bracelet ... look for my Studio Saturday post!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Locking the Writing

Remember a while back, I threw out some ideas about using the replica of the pen nib in various ways, and one was for a toggle?

Well, here's what happened today.

The very old-looking padlock got a toggle made from the pen nib.

I watched a movie about a Jane Austen novel the other day, I think it gave me the idea.

The words locked up inside, flowing out through the end of a pen dipped in an inkwell.

You just never know where things come from.

Well, I'm off to have some dinner. And then watch a movie I recorded. It's "Becoming Jane" about Jane Austen.

Who knows what will come out of that?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Times and Places, Two Kinds of Faces

Did you know that I create the round glass for enclosing the images for these glass soldered charms?

It's a messy deal, I take the thin glass and with a circle template I draw the circular shapes on it with a permanent marker, then coat it with a thin film of Vasoline.

That's to keep the permanent marker from washing off while I'm shaping the circle on the grinder. The grinder bit has to have a flow of water on it, so there's lot of splashing and glass particles flying around when I do it.

And inevitably I grind my forefinger nails - they're a mess.

I get completely covered with glass dust, so I make sure I'm wearing my leather apron, eye protection and a dust mask over my face.

These I made last night, but I didn't make a late night of it. I do feel better now that I'm on my prescriptions, but I didn't want to push it. That's the thing about walking pneumonia - you start to feel better so you get up and start running around and then you relapse. So I'm being more careful.

These are vintage french bistro clock faces. On the backs of some I put an image of fancy brocade cloth in a matching color, and on others I put a portrait, very old-fashioned looking. Clock faces, people faces.

I made some of them very simple, and some with a few little fancy flourishes.

One of the circle pendants is a portrait of two hugging children in a very old photograph. Very sweet.

If it warms up a bit today, which seems unlikely, I want to pour some resin. I haven't been able to do that for weeks.

I got the news yesterday by email that my resin article for Belle Armoire Jewelry will be in the Summer Issue instead of the next one, for Spring. That's okay, I'm happy to have confirmation that it's being published - I'll just have to wait a few months more, that's all.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I've had people mention that they'd like some closures to use with the focals, so the feeling of the piece matches.

Every piece I make, even though cast in a similar way, has little distinctive things about them, and they do look very rustic and handmade. They don't look mass manufactured - but they do have some rough edges too. So I didn't know if people would like the closures if they didn't look like manufactured clasps.

Last weekend I made a toggle clasp, it's not overly large and kind of simple. I plan to use them myself for some jewelry, if I ever get time to make some finished pieces.

And in case you like them, I decided to list them in the Etsy shop too.

They do look a little beat up and battered. But for me, that's one thing I like about them.
Well, I gave up being stubborn and went to the doctor.

I have bronchitis. And possibly walking pneumonia.

So I got prescriptions and over-the-counter stuff for the weekend. And lozenges, and chicken soup. Covering all bases, here.

Yay for modern medicine. Boo-Hiss on viruses!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

ABS Studio Saturday This Week

This is my week to do a post on the Art Bead Scene Blog, there's a giveaway involved if you respond to the question posed on Saturday!

You'll have a week to come up with a great responding post, and here's a sneak preview of the item being given away!

So don't forget to pop over on Saturday to the Art Bead Scene blog, where there's always lots going on.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lovebirds Shielding

Here's another example I just finished, of creating the metal collages. I used a shield shaped pewter medallion and added a detailed emblem of the lovebirds.

They're pretty fanciful, I know. They remind me of my idea of antique medals and medallions, the kind I was searching for on the trip to Ireland but couldn't find the real thing during the trip.

It looks sort of sentimental to me, like a Victorian love charm or memento mori piece.

Maybe I'll try engraving some sweet messages on the backs of some of these. You know, like the flowery initials and names you see on some vintage pieces, on the reverse side.

And they're still very lightweight this way, I'm very pleased.

Now, if the weather will warm up a bit, I'll turn to taking a cast off the authentic french medal, and see about using it on something similar.

I can't wait! Can we have spring now, please? Instead of all this snow...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Metal Collage

When I first started working with the pewter and didn't know a lot about it, I wanted to combine components together to create a sort of metal collage, similar to designs I had been making in polymer clay.

I found that it didn't work as well as I originally thought. The pieces were sort of heavy, and combining pieces wasn't so successful. It was hard to get the pieces thin enough after casting, and the combined units didn't work well together.

So I shelved that idea for the time, and kept doing R&D on how to use the pewter, the temperatures, finishing methods and all that, to get better with using the metal.

Last weekend I had a sort of brainstorm. It came because I have a beautiful french medal medallion that I wanted to reproduce. But there are many undercuts in the design - those are areas where the underneath is lower than the top and it would be difficult to mold and to cast - and so I couldn't do the casting in one piece.

I started playing with armatures, using wire and pieces of copper, to see what I could come up with. This is often how I make many messes and break many things. But I always learn something.

Finally, I decided to try creating two pieces separately, finishing and grinding both of them, then mounting one on the other instead of trying to cast all as one piece.

This is the prototype, the first one I tried as a test of the theory. I think it's very workable. It resembles a collage type design I tried to make a while back. It's lightweight and very detailed, both pieces. The key sits astride the shield medallion, but they're one unit.

Now I'll make a cast of the two parts of the french antique medal and try to reproduce the same setup. I'm a lot more confident about making that work this time.

Kind of fun. Always thinking about things, I have a little notebook I carry around, and I make shortcut notes to myself of things to try out. This came from one of those pages.

I never know if anyone else is interested in this trial-and-error process I go through, but I thought I'd share, just in case you have had a similar breakthrough sometime - Right?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Many Hands Reaching Out

I made an offer that any of the "Helping Hands" purchased in the Etsy shop would have the proceeds donated to the opportunities for helping Haiti during the month of January.

It's been very popular, so I've decided to extend it to February also. At the end of the month I'll give a total of the amount donated.

The day job firm is doing a charitable donation effort to help Haiti, already that total is up to $10,000 donated.

My efforts, in collaboration with you, of course, will be more humble a total - but every bit helps. And it makes me feel that I'm doing something constructive to help.

The hands in the photos have already gone out to their new owners, but I thought it would be fun to show pictures of them in formation.

Circles of help from all directions.

Thanks for participating with me on this. Joining Hands, Reaching Out.