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. APlaceToLoveDogs.com
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:

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:



Dawn (me)
Beth and Evie