Saturday, September 28, 2019

Art Elements Design Challenge and Blog Hop - Foliage

Here I am publishing something on my poor neglected blog for the first time in nearly two years!  I've been wanting to get it going again and I can thank my dear friend, Cat of Cat's Wire for suggesting that I participate in this month's Art Elements "Foliage" Design Challenge and gently prodding me until I actually made a commitment to do so.  Thanks, Cat!

I'm very excited that the Art Elements Design Challenge will be the catalyst for reviving my blog and I'm very excited to be part of a challenge and blog hop that includes so many creative and talented people. I'll warn you all ahead of time that this is a very photo heavy post; in my excitement, I just couldn't narrow it down anymore than I have.  Please forgive me for going overboard, but the floodgates have been opened!

Leaves, leaves, leaves!  This month's foliage theme is right up my alley as I have been on a creative journey for the last few years making leaf jewelry.  I seem to be obsessed with leaves, and unlike many of my past obsessions, this one has really taken hold. A part of my mind is always thinking about leaves even when I am doing things that have nothing to do with leaves.

The fascination with leaves and jewelry making began when I made leaves out of copper sheet using form folding techniques.  I was and am intrigued by form folding (which involves heating metal, forming it into a shape, reheating when it gets too hard to work, more shaping, etc.).  Leaves were a fairly simple shape to make when learning this technique:


My next experiment with leaf jewelry involved carving tiny leaves into small pieces of cork, dipping them into acrylic paint and using them as stamps.  The cork stamps were used to stamp leaves onto this piece of leaf shaped metal which was then coated with resin to protect the paint:


Next came wire leaves which were made with the help of a wonderful Birch Leaf Tutorial by Albina Manning at WireJewelry.com





A couple of years ago, I decided to experiment with preserving real leaves in resin and fell in love. I read all I could about it, but there wasn't much out there.  I was pretty much on my own.  After a lot of trial and error, I feel like I am starting to get it.

Throughout the year, I gather leaves, but when fall arrives it is an especially exciting time for me as the leaves begin to change color.  During the months of October and November, I pick up hundreds of leaves and press them between books to dry in preparation for the creative journey to come.


Once they are ready, I go to work.  While learning how to preserve the leaves, many leaves and much resin has been wasted, but I eventually started to get it.  I suppose the materials weren't truly wasted as they helped me get to where I am now.  These are some of my early results:




I'm not working with these types of leaves as much lately because I've found the points to be fragile and easily damaged.  This issue is something I'm going to try to resolve, but at this time leaves with rounded tips are much more sturdy for my work.

As I learned and became better at preserving leaves, the quality of my work improved and became more intricate.  These leaves are from a Western Red Bud which is found on the west coast of the United States.


Pear leaves from the tree in my yard:


What you see in the necklace posted below are not leaves but seed pods from the Lunaria plant which is also known as the money plant or silver dollar plant due to the silvery color of the pods as well as their size and shape which resembles coins.  The pod is really quite unremarkable, just a plain drab brown, but rub it between the thumbs and fingers and the brown husks peel away to reveal the shimmery pods inside.  They make beautiful arrangements either alone or paired with flowers:




The Lunaria pods are quite delicate and fragile, but they are much easier to handle and wear once they've been preserved in resin:




Copper sheet was cut to the shape of this pear leaf and became a bezel into which the leaf was attached:

This past year, the leaf journey has evolved into cutting leaves to fit vintage bezels.  I have really enjoyed the entire creative process of this technique and I have also been quite pleased with the end results.










Some leaves are too big to be made into jewelry, but too pretty to cut up or throw away.  They are just perfect for making into magnets!








Now that I've given you all this background, you must be wondering if I will EVER get to the actual Foliage Challenge.  Fear not, we have arrived at our destination.

This is the first of three pieces I made for this challenge.  Consisting of an orange leaf and painted wood beads (I did not paint the beads), it is not an elaborate or complicated piece, but it's interesting to look at due to the brilliant colors and subtle patterns of the leaf and even the bezel itself:

 

 Scrap booking paper sealed in resin was used to complete the back of this pendant:




 While I plan to continue to work with leaves using all of the various techniques shown above, for the past few months I've had this thought about making little scenes or pictures using leaves as well as dried flowers and other materials.  When I became aware of the foliage challenge, I thought it would be the perfect time to get busy.

Both of these were completed just this weekend and just in time for the challenge.  I'm feeling good about having made something that looked like the ideas I had in my head, but a little nervous about showing it to others.  But, that's what art is all about - experimenting, learning, trying new things, challenging our skills and putting ourselves and our work out there.

The background is an autumn leaf.  Small dried flowers and a butterfly make up the foreground.  The butterfly was constructed out of a real butterfly wing I found on the ground and cut to size.  The body is a seed and the antennae are a couple of tiny "hairs" that grow on a type of grass in the area where I live.






Scrap booking paper was used for the back of the pendant:



This one is more elaborate with a leaf background, smaller plants and flowers in the front and a small metal bird flying over to survey the scene.  It is also a WIP and has not yet been made into a necklace.  I simply strung it on black cord for this challenge, although it may very well end up on a simple cord to balance out all the other stuff that is going on here:



For the back, I used one of my own photos which is something I would like to do  more often as I feel that it gives the pendant a more personal touch:

 While I was typing this, it occurred to me that fall has arrived and it is time, once again, to gather fall leaves for future projects.  I never tire of the leaves; maybe it's because each fall brings wonderful colors and unique patterns.  It seems the leaves are similar to snowflakes, no two are ever the same.

Thank you so much for having me in this month's Art Element challenge; I promise that future posts will show more self control when it comes to posting photos!

To see what the other participants of the September Art Elements "Foliage" Challenge have to say about this theme, please click on the links below:

 Arts Elements Team:

Lesley
Susan
Marsha
Claire
Cathy
Jenny
Niky
Caroline

Guests:


Dawn (me)
Hope
Alison
Beth and Evie
Laurie
Kathy
Sarajo
Michelle
Tammy
Divya
Karen
Alyson
Mary
Cat
Jill
Sarah
Anita

40 comments:

  1. I am so happy that my more than gentle nudging got you to participate!
    Not only did I love seeing your leaf journey, but I'm blown away about the secret you kept so well with your new designs! I have always liked miniatures, and these little miniatures scenes are wonderful!!

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    1. I'm not so sure about gentle, Cat, but here I am - ha!

      Thank you so much; yea I had to be sneaky so I could surprise you. I'm very glad you like them because there will be more coming in the future!

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  2. All your leaf jewellery is very beautiful but I especially love the resin pendants, they look so delicate but so vibrant too

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    1. Thank you, Jill! The delicacy and the way the resin makes the colors come to life bring me a great deal of pleasure during the preservation process.

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  3. I love seeing what you created with resin. Your pendants are beautiful.

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    1. Thank you so much; I'm happy you enjoyed looking at all those photos!

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  4. I loved seeing all your past work and how it evolved to the pieces you made for this theme challenge! Just lovely! Also a big thanks to Cat from me to nudge you to participate :)

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    2. Thank you; it was kind of fun for me to see the evolving work as well! It happens so gradually that I sometimes think artists don't realize how their own work changes over time.

      That Cat - she is a persistent one, but I'm glad she kept after me!

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  5. Welcome back to blogging. I'm so glad you jumped in with this challenge and shared some of your recent journey with foliage. The evolution of your designs is so cool and the results are absolutely lovely!

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    1. Thanks, it is good to be back at blogging! I'd forgotten how much I enjoy it. I also very much appreciate your kind words about my work. It's been quite the learning curve and a bit frustrating at times, but the effort has been worth it.

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  6. WOW - I love all the different experiments you have been doing with leaves - I especially love the leaves that you collect and then use resin to preserve them. Those are fantastic!
    The pieces you made for the challenge are amazing. I love the little scenes you created for the pendants. AMAZING!
    Welcome back!

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    1. WOW, thank you so much! Your comments have made my entire day! It's that kind of encouragement that keeps me going on days when nothing goes right!

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  7. Lovely work with resin and leaves!! I especially like the leaves in the bezels. Gives them a great context.

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    1. Thank you very much, Mary. The leaves in bezels have been one of my favorite projects. There are a lot more of those in the work over the next few weeks/months.

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  8. I'm impressed with your leaves in resin! Once encased in resin, they don't discolor? I also love your last pendants, little framed pieces of art that are soooo cute and somewhat playful.

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad that you see the whimsy in those last two pieces.

      I went back through my photos and the first leaf I preserved in resin was done in October, 2016. That piece had it's flaws, but the leaf is just as vibrant now as it was the day I poured the resin. I haven't noticed any fading of the leaves over time.

      They don't discolor when encased in resin. If anything, the color becomes brighter and more vibrant. It's really an amazing thing to watch and I get a thrill out of it every time. There was one time I had some redbud seed pods turn from a reddish orange to a bright green when I preserved them in a quick drying product called Glossy Accents but the green was such an awesome shade that I considered that a happy accident.

      One of the things I've read several times is to seal the leaves in something like Mod Podge or white glue before putting in resin, but I found that noticeably dulled the colors so I no longer do that step.

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  9. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous Dawn! I love everything you made but those leaves in resin - WOW! they are amazing!

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    1. Thank you so much, SueBeads! It's comments like yours that keep me going especially when something is a big epic fail!

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  10. What an eye-catching foliage jewelry collection! The leaf landscapes you made are just fabulous!

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    1. Thank you so much, bairozan! I'm very glad you enjoyed seeing them.

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  11. You have SO many beautiful designs here on this post - just absolutely stunning!

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    1. Thank you, Marsha! I was worried about posting so many photos as I didn't want to be annoying, but I just couldn't stop myself. Your comment makes me feel better about that. I'm happy you liked what you saw!

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  12. I love all your leafy jewelry but I am really thrilled about your real leaves in bezels with resin. I just love those.

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    1. Cathy, your comment is much appreciated. The leaves in bezels are among my favorites too. I enjoy matching up each leaf to a bezel that works best to showcase the colors and patterns.

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  13. Wow, your resin coated leaves are fabulous. I've long wanted to preserve all the fallen leaves I find but resin and I are not on speaking terms. You seem to have developed a great relationship with it though. All of your jewelry is wonderful, especially the collages. Putting an image on the pendant back is the perfect finishing touch. Glad you decided to dust off your blog and join the challenge.

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    1. Hi Tammy, thank you! Yes, resin and I don't always agree either - it can be quite testy at times, but we usually make up with each other and carry on. I'm glad you liked the backs as well as the fronts - thank you! It does feel good to have posted to the blog after so long; looking forward to the next challenge!

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  14. Beautiful. I really love the tiny cork leaves in the 2nd piece.

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    1. Thank you! Those were fun to carve and even more fun to use as stamps. The cork pieces were less than an inch square so not much room to work with - a very sharp Exacto knife got the job done!

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  15. All such lovely pieces - your wire work is amazing.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lesley! Working with wire is one of my first loves but it doesn't particularly love me. Since it doesn't come naturally to me, there has been a lot of practice, frustration and more practice.

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  16. Gorgeous work! I love all the photos, don’t stop! Seeing how your mind progressed to the final projects is great. I really think these are some of my favorite of the blog. I want to try resin and scrapbook paper (a la Jade Scott, who if you haven’t seen her past work, search her name on pinterest) and you made it look easy, and i know it is not! Great Job and the way you combined the natural elements in the front bezel with the paper on the back is perfect!

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    1. Alison, thanks so much for the kind words! I'm not familiar with Jade Scott, so looked her work up and you are right - her work is fun and amazing. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos (I really couldn't figure out how to narrow them down any further) and the post as well. Good luck when you try resin and paper. I hope you will post your results!

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  17. Wow, the variety of your jewelry work is just astounding! You're amazing with the resin - I have a hard time just keeping it from dripping all over the place, lol... Your imagination and creativity are infectious - now I want to make stuff! :-)
    And it's lovely that you picked up this opportunity to revive your blog. Hope you keep going!

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    1. Your comments are very much appreciated, Anita! Ha - I know what you mean about resin dripping everywhere. It's not easy stuff to manage. I'm happy to read that you feel like making stuff - please be sure to share what you make!

      I'm also very happy that I decided to use the foliage challenge to start the bog back up. It was a great motivator and the feedback has been too!

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  18. Your resin leaves, and leaf inspired resin focals are amazing! Gorgeous! Your wire leaves are lovely. (I’m envious as I haven’t mastered making wire leaves, but I’ll get there.)

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    1. Thank you, Michelle! They are a true labor of love.

      Your comment reminded me that I meant to post a link to the leaf tutorial I used. It's there now if you are interested in checking out. Once you get the basics down, you can use the techniques to make leaves with your own personal touches/additions.

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  19. your resin pieces look wonderful. I tried working with organics before and failed miserably. So I understand the effort that you put in it getting such fabulous colours intact. Getting both the front and back finished well is hard work. Kudos to you for accomplishing that.

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  20. Thank you very much, Divya! It's comments like yours that make all the failures easier to take.

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  21. Wow! Your post and all the beautiful things you've made blew me away. I was thrilled about seeing how you made your own leaves from copper and wire, but when you showed your experiments with preserving leaves in resin - I pretty much lost it. They are so exquisitely beautiful. And I love how you made them into pre-shaped bezels and scenes as well. You knocked this challenge out of the park and I'm looking forward to more posts from you in the future.

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