Friday, February 28, 2020

My Favorites - Jan/Feb 2020

After a long break, the Jewelry Artisans Community Blog Carnival is back.  We thought that the first month of a new year would be a good time to get started.  Unfortunately, despite our best intentions, we didn't get off to a great start.  Some of us forgot about it entirely, while others were to busy with other things to finish their posts on time.  Our solution - extend our deadline to the end of February.  Clever girls, so clever!

This month's topic is about favorite jewelry we have designed and created.  I had to give this some thought as I have a lot of favorites, but it's impossible for me to name just one.  Then I realized that my favorites represent the stages of my jewelry making journey.

First it was stringing beads together; sounds simple, but I really enjoyed selecting colors that worked together, as well as deciding which sizes and shapes were good matches.  I think mastering bead stringing before moving onto other techniques builds a good design foundation.  It was also during this time that I started painting wood beads to use in my jewelry designs.

Painting beads inspired me to try to combine my love of painting and my passion for making jewelry by painting miniatures and turning them into pendants.  Pairing the pendants with painted beads took my creativity to a new level.  These are some of my favorites:

During this time, I became fascinated with the wire wrapping and wire weaving pieces that I was seeing on the internet.  They were so beautiful and intricate; it wasn't long before I wanted to try.  I quickly found out that working with wire didn't come naturally to me but I enjoyed it so much that I was determined to learn these skills.  After much practice and frustration, I was finally able to produce work that I was proud of.

This spiderweb is a special favorite because it's one I came up with completely on my own.  No looking at magazines, reading books or using tutorials.  I felt really good about this design.

These next ones are the result of using tutorials to learn the techniques.  I am forever grateful to the designers who so generously share their knowledge and skills by publishing tutorials on their blogs or on Youtube:

Eventually, I became interested in working with resin.  The first thing I tried was coating my painted pendants with resin; I was and am extremely happy with the results. 




At the same time, I was trying to figure out a way to incorporate nature's gorgeous fall leaves and summer flowers into my work.  Preserving them in resin seemed like a natural progression. It took much experimenting and many fails to achieve success.  It pleases me no end that these beautiful leaves with their amazing patterns and colors are permanently preserved for people to enjoy.

This is where I am now - still experimenting with resin.  Using leaves, flowers, insects and other natural materials along with small charms, I am creating small scenes and preserving them in resin.  I've just barely scratched the surface and have many ideas in my head.  At the moment, these are my favorites from this period - that might be because these are the only ones I have finished so far!

I guess I'd say that rather than having favorite pieces of jewelry, I have favorites from each learning phase I've been in.  To me, they represent growth as an artist, mastering new skills, learning new techniques and that by looking back and visiting these favorites, enables me to see where my journey has taken me.  It makes me wonder what future work will look like and which ones will be added to my favorites as the journey continues.

To see what other members of the Jewelry Artisans Community have to say about their favorites, please click on the links below:

Ganison Atelier

My Bijou Life

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Art Elements Design Challenge, November 2019 - Fossils

When I learned that the subject of the November Art Elements monthly challenge was fossils, I knew I wanted to participate.  As far back as I can remember, I've had a love for the natural world, and to this day I enjoy collecting treasures found while walking in the woods around my home or while strolling along the beach.

While not all of the items in my small collection are fossils, they are all part of nature which is where I find most of the inspiration for my jewelry designs.  I rarely get to share them with anyone, so I hope no one minds if I share them now:

A tiny bird's nest, the eggs donated by a friend's cockatiel:

A skin shed by a snake once it grew large enough that it could no longer occupy this one:

An abandoned wasp nest.  I'm not crazy about this particular insect, but can still appreciate the beauty and remarkable detail of their engineering skills:

A fossilized vertebrae - based on the size, my guess is that it was from a bear:

A clam fossil found in a load of gravel that was delivered to our house:

Part of the shell was still attached:

Among many of the natural things I like to collect, there is a small collection of fossils that I always intended to make into jewelry.  Like so many things, life got in the way and they languished in a drawer until this month's challenge motivated me to finally do something with them.

For the challenge, I decided to tackle the snail fossil first by netting it in fine copper wire that had been oxidized to an antique finish.  Small copper beads were added to the last row for additional visual interest.  The finished pendant was suspended from antiqued copper ball chain.

I wanted to do something based on Peruvian thread weaving for the next design as the fossil had the right shape for this type of style.  I don't usually do much planning for my designs, but for this one I sketched out how I thought it would go.  To my surprise, it came out pretty much like the sketch!

Black lava beads and red coral were used in making components that were added to the chain:

I ran out of time for the last fossil design, but this is the prototype I've been working on:

The final piece will be done in sterling silver wire and the wires that go across the fossil will have enough curve to match the lines of the vertebrae.

I hope everyone who has taken the time to check out this blog post has enjoyed the journey.  I certainly enjoyed finally having a chance to work with these beautiful fossils that have been hidden away in a drawer for so long.

To see what the other participants of the "fossils" challenge have to say on the subject, please click on the links below: 





Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Art Elements Design Challenge, October 2019 - Eyes

"Eyes" are the design challenge from Art Elements this month.

It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul.  Before starting this blog post, I looked up sayings that have been written about the eyes and I'd like to share them before continuing on.

Where words are restrained, the eyes often talk a great deal.  Samuel Richardson
The eye sees a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination awake.  Leonardo da Vinci
 My eyes are an ocean in which my dreams are reflected. Anna M. Uhlich
The eye is the jewel of the human body.  Henry David Thoreau 
And, since one of the things I do is paint miniatures of animals, I also went on a search for sayings about animal eyes.
An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language.  Martin Buber
When I look into the eyes of an animal, I do not see an animal.  I see a living being. I see a friend.  I feel a soul.
One cannot look deeply into the eyes of an animal and not see the same depth, complexity and feelings we humans lay exclusive claim to.  Nan Sea Love
Painting the eyes of the animals that are my subjects is one of my favorite parts of the process and I do it as soon as possible as that makes the painting come alive for me.  Once the eyes are done, I feel like I "know" the animal and I try my best to convey what it is feeling or thinking through it's eyes.
Here are a few examples of some of my past works all of which are slightly larger than an American quarter - I hope that you can see the feelings and emotions they are experiencing:





 For this month's Eye Challenge, I decided to revisit a project I started quite some time ago, and then for reasons that have been long forgotten, set aside and never looked at again.   Cat, of Cat's Wire  also has a hand in this as she recently challenged me to finish this WIP (work in progress).  Cat, I hope you are pleased with my progress. :-)
This project started out as fan art in tribute to the character of Wolf in the book "The Mammoth Hunters" by Jean M. Auel. Set in phehistoric times, "The Mammoth Hunters" is one of a series of books about a young cro-magnon woman named Ayla who adopts a young orphaned wolf pup whom she names Wolf.  My little paintings depict how I imagined Wolf from a pup to adult wolfhood and some of the adventures he may have experienced along the way.  As always, the eyes were among the most important parts of the paintings.  
I painted each scene on wood coin beads slightly larger than an American quarter.  There is one scene on each side for a total of eight little paintings that tell Wolf's story.  They will eventually be made into a bracelet, but unfortunately despite working on these every spare moment I had this past month, I was unable to finish them due to other previous commitments.  Yep, life got in the way.
It's always been my feeling that it's never a good idea to rush art, so I gave in to the fact that these wouldn't be done in time for the challenge, but they are finished enough to give readers a pretty good idea of where this project is eventually going to go.  I will not be showing you the individual beads that don't focus on Wolf's eyes as that would not be on topic for the challenge.
Wolf as a pup who has been rescued by Ayla and is seeing the world outside of his den for the first time:
Adult Wolf:

Wolf finds a mate:

Protective Wolf:

Wolf fights an intruder:

And, this last one - a wolf howling at the moon is reflected in the eye of another wolf.  Did Wolf or the intruder win the battle?  Is Wolf the one howling or is he the one watching?   That is up to the reader to decide as well as to decide how the story ends:
 Size reference:

Once all of the paintings are finished, the beads will be sprayed with a sealer to give them a glossy finish and to protect the paint.  They will then be made into a bracelet with reversible sides and will look something like this when done; the quarter gives another size reference:

I hope you have enjoyed the story of Wolf and that you have been able to see into his soul as well as experience the depth and complexity of his thoughts and emotions through his eyes.
To see what the other participants in this month's "Eye" challenge created, please click on the links below: