Wednesday, March 31, 2010

At the Waterline, At the Skyline

I love being near the water. For many years I lived by the water on the Gulf Coast, but I've been landlocked now for almost the same length of time, here in the midwest. I guess I could go down to the mightly Mississippi river, but somehow that's not quite the same, at least not to me.

So when I get to Port Townsend in Washington State for Artfest, I like being in the Dorm that's close to the water, with the scent of the salt in the air. That's the building on the right, I was in a room at the top of those stairs.

It's cool and rainy, with the grey tones of color in the sky and water, but that only seems to enhance the natural colors around them.

The cliffs of green grass, the bright colors of a lighthouse seem to pop out of the grey midtones more strongly than they do in a bright summer lightness of sky and sun.

It's a lovely area, I walked around in my raincoat because you never know when a little shower will start. Can you picture a picnic at this table, with this view?

It's easy to be inspired in this setting.

The colors are rich and saturated, a feast for the eyes.

It makes me miss being close to the water.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cool Yet Warm

I'm back from Artfest, almost unpacked. The studio still looks like a tornado hit it, and maybe it was hit by one, it was me while I packed!

I had a fabulous time. All my classes were superb.

I made some new friends and saw some old friends again, it was so wonderful. What a lively and talented group, and all so different from each other.

My dorm room in Dorm 225 was a single, no roommate this time, which worked better for me with my insomnia and late-night reading habits. But I slept fairly well even with the two hour difference in time zones.

One afternoon after class I walked on the beach near the dorm, and picked up some shells and rocks, there was every natural color you can think of in that group of washed up stones and bits of wood, I made a little beach collage and brought them all back with me to make a shadowbox with them.

Aren't they pretty, all nestled up in a white shell on a mound of damp sand? The colors of nature are so inspiring.

The weather was perfectly lovely, sometimes sunny and cool, a little rain but not too much, and moderate temperatures even at night.

These little baubles are from the "Hard Candy" class with Melissa Manley, the last day class for Artfest, right before Show and Tell started.

I wanted to make them warm on one side, cool on the other with the ruddy and blue colors. And a little industrial looking, very worn, like something off an old machine that had been sitting out.

One I put a copper wire through and threaded so I can wear it on a long chain. It's a great fiddly bead, it spins around on its axis like a top, and looks a little like a game piece or toy.

The other one I added some wire and twists to and put it onto a short length of steel wire chain I made, very quickly so I could wear it. I will most likely change that out for something else now that I'm back, but what fun to wear to dinner after class.

I'll be posting more about the classes, and I think I'll put most of the photos of the classes and the Show and Tell night onto the Artfest blog, so there's not so much here about it.

I'm also doing the Studio Saturday post this week for the Art Bead Scene blog, so I'll save some special ones for there. And as usual there will be a giveaway involved...

Did I mention that I had a fantastic time? Lovely, wonderful, superb.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pairs in Sevens

I made up a bunch, well, seven pairs, of earrings before I left for Artfest.

I used the pewter together with pearls, ceramic beads and spacers.

To show myself what can be created with the earring pairs.

If any come back from Artfest, I'll put them in the Etsy shop.

Of if not, I'll make more. That's the beauty of using the pewter, I can have more. There are teensy Eiffel Towers, and round dark skullie beads. A small pewter cross and fern leaves.

I like these a lot, and I'm tempted to wear some.

But I will be good and refrain. I WILL be GOOD.

Maybe later I'll make myself a pair, just for me. I really like the blue ceramic with the bronze-copper stars, they seem very Texan to me, somehow.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rainbow Pearl Costume

I had someone contact me recently, who had used my hand dyed costume pearls in the past, wanting some more.

In fact, wanting one pack for each color I had on hand.

When I took the photos of the one ounce packets stacked together they reminded me of a rainbow.

All the colors, so rich and pretty.

Red, blue, yellow, green. And black, too.

They were so colorful I had to share them here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bezel Me

I keep getting ideas about using the pewter together with resin, so I made another bezel.

This one is oval and has texture in the back. In case you don't want the back plain when you pour your resin into it, it will have a design showing back there.

I think it would be great for a bracelet focal with some chain and a clasp, just about the right size.

But of course it could be hung up and down with a dangle. In fact, I think my faux cameo beads will fit into it perfectly.

It's a nice size and lightweight. I have a plan of something I want to try with it, but it'll have to wait until after I get back from Artfest.

I won't be shipping again until Monday when I get back. But I'm not going to lock down the shop, I'm leaving it open. Just in case you need something while I'm away.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hardware Jar

When I was a kid, my grandfather had an empty peanut butter jar out in the shed that he filled full of metal and odd things.

There were old keys, and parts to lawnmowers. Pencils that were too short to use but still had too much use left to throw away. Maybe that's part of the inspiration for the short colored pencil charms, who knows?

I loved to go through that old jar and play with the things in it. Nuts and bolts, old galvanized nails. Things you might need someday, you just never know.

I wonder if that has somehow influenced my enjoyment of mixed media and old paper goods.

So this pile of goodies has gone separate ways now, to the new owners. Maybe they'll turn into jewelry or maybe a collage or mixed media piece.

It reminds me of dumping out my granddad's glass jar of wonders.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Quality Nickel Games

Here's another example of the spiral bound books I have been playing with. I have a good time finding the images and putting them together.

This one has a game spinner on the front and guess what? I added a real metal spinner that moves, so you can twirl it around just like when you're playing a board game.

On the back cover I put a picture of a dice. It's very playful and fun.

It has 17 pages mixed of my recycled handmade papers, cold pressed watercolor paper and stiff cardboard with old maps and newspaper print on them.

I like the way it lays flat when you open it. Some of the watercolor pages are half-sized, so you can see the pages on either side. When I was traveling I liked using half-sheets sometimes, so you could see part of the next page while you were drawing. Kind of a pop-up book idea.

I hope you like these little spiral-bound handmade books. I'm putting them in the ExpeditionD Etsy shop, if you want to see more photos.

Or to grab one that's caught your fancy!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Whiter and Brighter

I know I've been saying for a while that I want to put some new, different kinds of things into the ExpeditionD shop.

I'm thinking of it as a provisions store, the kind of place you go to for miscellaneous things. Like a general store. When I gave the Etsy shop the name "ExpeditionD" I was thinking of travel, archeology and excitement. Caravans in the desert, boats down the nile.

So this little spiral bound handmade book is the first of the new things I'm adding.

I love books and paper; I love to keep a travel journal when I go somewhere, and I keep all my little knick-knacks (tickets, little things from hotels and Bed and Breakfast places, Menus, matchbooks, all that stuff) glued into a travel book that I keep. Then later I can add drawings, photographs, anything like that.

I also like to make recipe books to give to people when they say they like something I cooked.

So this is sixteen pages of mixed things, with a pretty design and an oversized woodcut skeleton key on the front.

Some pages are heavy cardboard with pretty wallpaper designs on them, they're great for glueing things down with a glue stick.

There is cold pressed watercolor paper, for drawing with a pencil or doing a watercolor wash. I do that sometimes when I travel and finish the drawing later.

And pages of my own deckle cut handmade paper. Yes, I love to make handmade paper...

I saved a bunch of junk mail, envelopes and things like that, ground it up in the paper shredder and one warm day I made sheets of handmade paper out of it. The ultimate in recycling, when you look at the paper you can sometimes see the letters from the paper showing through. Fun!

I don't know if people will like these little books and some of the new things I plan to put in ExpeditionD. But I'll always have jewelry in the other shop. I just can't stop myself from working in lots of media.

I made the spiral binding myself - I wasn't sure how it would work but it's just great, it folds completely back on itself to lay flat, that's useful when drawing.

If you would like me to make one for you with just watercolor paper in it for a journal, let me know! Or something with a theme - I will be adding more things later, I just couldn't wait to share this one with you.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Showcase Day

I'm never sure if it does any good to list the Etsy shop in a Main Showcase, but to celebrate reaching my milestone of 800 sales (YAY!) I have a Saturday Showcase in the Main group on Etsy today.

There are still a lot of great things at special prices. I spent part of yesterday daydreaming about the new things I want to make and list in the ExpeditionD shop. If only I didn't need any sleep, I could get so much more done.

Well at least the days are staying light longer, that does help!

The daffodils in the front yard are blooming, that's a good sign.

Oh, and my analytics emailed me today - the blog has had 45,000 hits since this time last year. Love the fact that you are out there with me! I'm not alone in this adventure in front of the computer screen, you're right there on the other side looking back.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Easing UP on Eight Hundred

I set some personal goals, just to give me something to aim at. A milestone, so I know where I've been and where I'm headed. Do you ever watch the odometer in your car as it approaches one of those numbers with just zeros after it, and keep an eye on it so you can see it pass that number while you watch? The goals are kind of like that, I guess.

One was to have the shop have as many sales as the shop.

The pewter pieces have brought a lot more traffic and interest to the shop and I'm really excited about that.

I passed that one earlier in the month, but it was arbitrary and didn't mean much to anyone but me, it was just in my head. A personal checkbox I could put an "X" into. Watching the odometer roll to the 99999 position, a prelude to the next step.

I know, I really do need to fill up the expeditionD shop, and I have some ideas for new things I want to put in it, that's a surprise that's coming up. Some totally different things, just for variety! Coming ... soon I hope.

But now I'm just a few sales away from 800,


in the shop.

Now that's something I can celebrate, and share! Woo Hoo! Like this replica of a centennial medallion, eight times over.

So if you've had an eye on something, check out the sales and discounts, and I added a few extra special pendants and beads, and let's turn that clicker over to 801!

There'll be some special goodies for the person who rolls the odometer over ....

Party Central! The sweet tea will flow like water!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Artfest Trades Do Pencil Me In

I've been thinking and thinking about what I wanted to take with me to Port Townsend, WA for Artfest to use as trades.

I wanted something useful.
But also fun.
Something different.
Colorful and distinctive.
Something unusual but with a purpose.

Why put all these rules on it? Well, add to it that I wanted it to be inexpensive for the materials, not terribly time consuming to create, and still something that someone else would want to trade for - not too much to ask, right?

No wonder it took me so long to come up with something.

Do you ever have that feeling that you've thought of something important and needed, but all of a sudden it's gone out of your head and the harder you try to bring it back the further it recedes?

That's what happened to me this week. And I need to finish my trades because I'm packing for Artfest and I need to put them in the suitcase. And I don't have them. Um-Hum, that's an issue.

Yesterday it came back to me. I decided to create little colored pencils, like the short kind you see for golfers and at the library for taking notes. Except these would be covered in beautiful papers, and have a hanging wire for a charm.

Not so long that you worry about spearing yourself on it, but long enough to actually use. For journaling or just coloring on a napkin, if you get the inclination.

This is the first batch. Of course after I started putting wire on them for the hangers I thought - hey, these need some beads. They need to be a little funky and fun. These are covered with an old map paper, but I have lots of other papers I'm going to use.

So what do you think - would you trade with me for one of these little colored pencil charms?

Question though, you can help here, do you think I should put big jump rings on them, so folks can hang them right away, or just let people put a silk cord through the hole at the top.

Do you like them - are they funky and fun, or just silly and funny-looking? Be honest....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I've been seeing and hearing a lot of things lately about the Alice movie, so I thought I'd do a little research. Not so much on the movie or the book, I was curious about the illustrator.

His name is Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914), and he was the illustrator of the books "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass," an English illustrator, creator of political cartoons in the late 19th century, with a long career in which he is probably best remembered for his illustrations in the books of Lewis Carroll. This is a self portrait from 1889.

He looks a little fierce, doesn't he? And he can definitely draw, don't you think?

Born in London, he was a student at the Royal Academy, even though he was accidentally blinded in one eye in 1840 while fencing with his father.

That would be any artist's worst nightmare, I would think, to be blinded, even partially. Makes me grab my safety glasses even quicker, and avoid fencing classes.

He was a caricature artist known for his humor in his art, but also a fine artist who exhibited paintings for the Society of British Artists.

He illustrated the first edition of "Alice in Wonderland" and the following edition, released in December of the same year became an immediate best-seller. The illustrations for the book are some of the best known literary illustrations ever made, created as woodblock prints carved into blocks of wood. The original wood blocks are preserved in the Bodleian Library in Oxford and were on public display in 2003.

Boy, I'd love to see those, I've done some woodblock printing and it's quite a challenge!

It's not all that well-known, but it is believed that much of Lewis Carroll's writings were political references, so the choice of Tenniel as the illustrator is interesting since he was a well-known political cartoonist of the time. Lewis Carroll's real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, writing "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" in 1865 under the Lewis Carroll pseudonymn, and the book is apparently full of allusions to his friends and colleagues.

The book was read by many on first release, such as Queen Victoria and the young Oscar Wilde, and has never been out of print. I haven't read it in many years, maybe it's time to crack it open again.

I think an annotated version would be fun, to find out what Dodgson was thinking while he was writing. But most of all I admire John Tenniel for coming up with the iconic illustrations that we all instantly recognize.

If you see the movie, I'd love to hear what you thought of it...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Week of Working, Week of Packing

I've got my supply list for Artfest printed out so I can start packing my things. Some things I won't be able to put in the zippered container until right before time to leave because I use them all the time, like my jewelry pliers.

It means I'll be away from the shop some next week while I travel, but I won't close up the shop and I'll just leave a note on the Etsy door that says things will be shipped when I get back. Like those small coffee shops where you sometimes see a note "back in ten minutes" and you just have to wait for a bit.

The theme of Artfest 2010 is Fairy Tales, like Alice in Wonderland or the Brothers Grimm. I'm still working on my trades, most everyone takes things to trade with other people, that's part of the fun.

I hope to see some folks I met last year like Nina Bagley and Catherine Witherell while I'm at Artfest. I am staying in a dormitory, it's like a throwback to years and years ago for me. Sort of an Art Boot Camp.

I'm taking two days of classes with Richard Salley and the last class with Melissa Manley, there will be some enamel torching and copper etching involved, I can't wait!

I love that part of the country too, so pretty and different from the Midwest, right by the water too.

Oops, did I give away that I'm getting excited?

Monday, March 15, 2010

New Work Looks Old

I had a productive weekend, I got some things shipped and some new things made.

When I get the chance to pour some resin, when the weather cooperates, it's almost like I get charged up with new ideas.

I created another of the pendant focals with the word "FAIRYTALE" inside, and with a small feminine bow tied on the bottom, like a little girl's fairy story dream.

And some fused glass in a pewter setting that reminds me of a lady's antique watch casing.

The glass changes color from a dark green to a dark violet, depending on how you hold it. I do love how the fused glass faux gemstones shine things up.

I made some more pewter pieces and added it all to the Etsy shop. It reminds me of a treasure trove you might find in an estate sale, or in a flea market, a little pile of goodies.

I made a faux cameo on a pewter setting. I need to fuse some more glass, and cast some pewter. And I'm working on a special project that may be for an article, got to set aside some time to work on that. Maybe I'll give a sneak peek before I send it off, the deadline is April 15.

My back is doing better, thanks for all the good suggestions.