Sunday, October 30, 2016

Art Elements Component of the Month

I just love the team over at Art Elements!! Since joining I have been inspired to produce WAY more work than I would ever have created 'alone'. It really does take a village for me to get creative and work in my studio!
Every month there is a theme or a component of the month challenge at Art Elements.
Sugar skulls were the component of the month for October and was hosted by Jennifer Cameron. Jen creates beautiful lampwork glass beads and headpins. Fittingly, for October she created glass sugar skulls and distributed them amongst the group.  I also received the wonderful antique key with the glass bead on the end:-)
As soon as my sugar skull arrived I knew exactly what I wanted to create. (haha)
I happened to be working on the caged trinkets tutorial for the AE blog when the skull came so I had wire weaving on my mind. I cut some pieces of wire, flattened the ends into paddle shapes and twined thinner wire around the padddles. I ended up with a flat woven piece that fanned out at the top. Like the photo below.

I then wired the sugar skull onto the woven piece and HATED it! It did nothing to enhance Jen's work.
As I was taking the skull off the woven wire thingy I saw a piece of copper that I had cut and shaped a while back to be a loose bezel round a cab (which never came to fruition). When I put the sugar skull in the copper shroud I loved it-until I began to create the necklace for it.
Here's that version below.

The wire it was hanging from was just way too long and the ceramic spike from Scorched Earth that I hung from the bottom was just way tooo much. I could've shortened the wire it was hanging from and switched out the spike dangle but I didn't. I decided that I would just do a complete turn-around. And I was really determined to use that blue spike dangle! I thought the color blue of the spike blended so well with the 'eye' glass bead on the key as well as matched the eyes of the sugar skull.
Sooooo, then I decided to try my hand at some micro macrame. I did a LOT of macrame back in the 70's and have done a few very simple knotted necklaces but after seeing fellow AE member Cooky Schock's lovely work, I thought why not give it a try.
Here is that version.

Meh. Note to self: practice your half hitches before attempting to create something pleasing to the eye. It's not completely horrible but then again it's just not working for me. I wanted to enhance Jen's sugar skull and the macrame wasn't highlighting anything other than my need to work on my knots.
Sooooo.... I left it on the work table for a week, mulled it over at 4 am when I couldn't sleep and decided to revisit the copper shroud and make the sugar skull into a grim reaper'ish looking fella.
 Reluctantly, I changed out the blue spike and used a glass headpin from Nikki Thornburg. The black/white of the glass headpin leads your eye up to the mouth of the skull quite well I think. Plus the headpin isn't as long as the spike was and the blue of the spike was such an 'attention hog' that the black/white combo looks so much better. What do you think?
Besides, I had already planned to repeat the blue of the glass bead on the key and the skull eyes in the necklace with sodalite beads. I definitely have enough blue going on without the spike.
As you can see in the photo above,  I used copper that I hammered into bone-shaped paddles and used the blue sodalite beads between the 'bones'.
I had a bit of a dilemma with the sugar skull pendant sliding all around the key and also the copper wired loops holding the necklace also slipping. So I wrapped enough copper wire around the key between the pendant and the wire loops to keep them all pretty stable.
Here's a better look at that magnificent glass bead on the key & the sugar skull. Awesome work Jen!!!
Hopefully, after so many incarnations I have done justice to these beautiful glass pieces. I don't think I have ever re-made anything that many times.

The necklaces below aren't part of the sugar skull challenge but I wanted to share them since Halloween/Day of the Dead/All Hallows Eve/Samhain is almost upon us.
I've already worn the above necklace a few times. The raku pod came from Marianne Kasparian and the little skull came from Nikki Thornburg.
The one below is also a skull from Nikki Thornburg. She ended up looking rather queenly don't you think?
I am looking forward to seeing what all the other paticipants have created with Jen's sugar skulls.
Here's a list of everyone who decided to join the fun.


Guest Designers
Staci Louise Smith
Karin Grosset Grange
Solange Collin
Art Elements Team
Caroline Dewison
Susan Kennedy
Laney Mead
Claire Fabian
Diana Ptaszynski
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Lindsay Starr
Niky Sayers
Lesley Watt
Cooky Schock
Jen Cameron

 Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

AJE September Tree Challenge Reveal

The theme challenge of the month over at Art Jewelry Elements was 'trees'.  I was delighted that Caroline chose trees for the month of September. Trees happen to pop up quite often in my work.
I also happen to take a LOT of pictures of trees. They are a constant source of inspiration.
What's not to like about trees? They are beautiful during every season. In fact, I think during winter they might just be at their most beautiful.
If you read my last post, you saw that I ordered some fabulous jewelry elements from blueberribeads.
The first thing I made with trees in mind were these cute little earrings using the gingko leaf headpins. I paired them with Czech glass beads and some copper washers that I distressed and aged. Can't wait to wear these!!
Gingko Headpin Earrings
                                                Trees and leaves and acorns-oh my!!
Trio of Tree Themed Necklaces

The next tree piece I created was the necklace (above left & below) using a gorgeous porcelain tree pendant made by Caroline over at blueberribeads. I wanted to showcase this lovely pendant so I didn't want a lot of busy beading on the necklace itself. I did use some smooth black river rocks that I drilled holes into and threaded the rocks with a couple of matte green jasper beads between them. I used two pieces of dyed silk fabric that I ripped to size in a shade of green that complemented the pendant.
Porcelain Tree Pendant Necklace

The next tree related piece was also one of Caroline's cute little gingko leaf beads and one of her acorn pendants (above right & below). I also didn't want anything heavy or busy to distract from the focal bead & acorn so I threaded the acorn pendant on copper wire and up through the bead. Then to add a little more green I hung some green Czech glass beads from the copper wire holding the acorn. I used the same green Czech glass beads to thread onto C-Lon bead cord and crocheted the necklace.
Gingko Leaf Bead With Acorn Pendant Necklace

Next up for my tree inspired pieces was a piece of copper etched with a leaf that I hung from African Opal beads knotted on waxed linen (above center & below). I added the little fetish turquoise bird just for fun.
Etched Copper & African Opal Necklace

Of course I couldn't do a challenge without doing some bead embroidery so I decided to use this Chinese Paintbrush jasper cabochon that looks like a landscape. Remember when I said I love trees in winter? Well, to me this looks a bit like a forest where the trees have lost most of their leaves. And because I just love those little acorns that Caroline made I wanted to dangle an acorn from this pendant. It was the perfect color and acorns are a promise of rebirth, growth and potential. Perfect to hang from a forest that has lost all its leaves.  I attached the beaded pendant to a piece of driftwood and created the necklace from Chinese Paintbrush jasper coin shaped beads knotted on waxed linen.
Chinese Paintbrush Cabochon With Acorn Pendant
Chinese Paintbrush Jasper, Acorn & Driftwood Necklace

And last but not least........I received this lovely 'Greenman' cabochon from Jenny Davies-Reazor and naturally he needed to be included. So I started some bead embroidery around him and lots of fringe that hopefully mimics foliage. I am sorry I didn't get to complete a necklace using him but it's on my to-do list.
GreenMan Pendant

I have so many tree inspired necklaces, art quilts and felted pieces that I created previously I might just have to do another blog post on tree related art.

Thanks for stopping by. Please have a look at all the participants for the tree theme challenge this month.

AJE Team
Guests

Until then, live your life creatively~
cathy




Saturday, September 17, 2016

Creative Impulse

Have you ever had such a strong desire to create that you had to drop everything else you were doing and just go for it?
I had an episode like that recently. I recently joined the team over at Art Jewelry Elements blog.
I ordered some beautiful ceramic components from Caroline Dewison at blueberribeads. Caroline is a
fellow member at AJE. As you can see she makes gorgeous pieces! Check out her website.
I was thinking about the September tree challenge over at AJE when I placed this order.
When I deposited this package of goodies on my work table the raku bunny bead called out to me- use me first please!!  In spite of working on 14 other things at the moment I just had to create something right then and there with that rabbit.
I began pulling out an assortment of beads, wire, chain and some hand dyed silk fabric and ribbon.
I was so excited about the color of the silks bringing out the rusty color of the rabbit. I knew it had to have a tassel hanging from it.
First Version
The above photo is the first version. I really like it but the soldered copper pipe that I used as a tassel cap was a little too overwhelming for the raku hare. I wanted the tassel to complement and enhance the color of the raku glaze not overpower it.  I also thought the silver solder was a bit too much with all the copper & rust. So I brushed it lightly with some copper alcohol ink. Meh...Still not what I wanted!
Soooooo...
Second Version
I found a vintage copper filigree cone in my stash to use for the tassel. It is not nearly as bold. Now the raku bunny bead is the star of the necklace instead of the soldered copper pipe.
I finished the necklace off with some textured black resin tube beads, copper beads, seed beads, copper wire and copper chain. I also added some smaller copper chain in with the tassels and attached a metal leaf, metal acorns and one of my polymer clay headpins from the August headpin challenge.

Close up of first version

Close-up of second version
Looking at these photos I still like the soldered pipe version but the copper filigree cone is a better fit for the look I was going for. What do you think?

This necklace looks like fall with those bronze, gold, copper & purple colors. It also reminds me a little of witches and sorcery! I never imagined having a rabbit as a familiar but it's possible.

After creating this necklace I was able to move on to all the other projects that are in various phases of development. I am working on several pieces for the tree challenge. Check it out over at AJE and join us. You still have time.

Until then-live your life creatively~
cathy

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August Design Challenge-Art Headpins!

This was definitely a challenge for me... I have just recently joined the Art Jewelry Elements group and thought I would sit this art headpin challenge out. Then after returning home from a quick trip to visit relatives I figured I should just go ahead and jump right in. 
Well...I didn't have time to order some of the lovely glass or ceramic headpins that some of my fellow AJE members create so I decide to just make my own.
So what do I make? How about polymer clay?  I haven't played with it in years, but what the heck, let's try it.  When I went to my stash the only colors I happen to have are black and purple. Hmmm-Ok, I can make it work.  Used a bit of Pearl-Ex powders on the clay before cooking and here they are.
Polymer clay headpins
 I thought it was too much Pearl Ex, so I sanded them. Then they were too blah, so I added dabs of gold ink here and there. (sorry I forgot to take photos after the sanding and dabbing of ink)
I attempted to go for something fun & funky and a little bit out of my comfort zone. I used a copper pipe (with patina added) to hold my tassels made of strips of sari fabric. I used several lengths of chain mixed in with the sari strips and dangled the polymer headpins from the chain, but first I threaded a mix of metal and ceramic beads on the headpins. Sorry these photo are not doing the headpins justice. They really aren't that black. They have splashes of purple and gold.
Close up of chains and dangling headpins

Silk sari tassel pendant
With so much going on in the pendant itself I decided to keep it simple & just hang it from 2 pieces of soft black leather. The colors have a kind of Mardi Gras look to it.
Funky tassel necklace


Not completely happy with just the polymer clay headpins I turned to my wire. I curled and hammered and then when I went to give them a nice patina with my liver of sulphur IT DID NOT WORK! It was the powdered form and it is quite a few years old. I tried doubling the amount-nothing. So I used heat to give a little color to my wire and then used a patina for metal to give some of them a blue/green color.
Here's my collection of brass & copper spiral, twirly headpins.

Copper & brass wire headpins
 And here is what I did with them. The headpins didn't turn out to be the stars of the show but I do like how they enhance the project.
Spiral headpin with patina added
Especially when I decided to pull out the wire to create a little basket to hold a piece of beach glass and brain coral in. This little spiral headpin with the patina gives just the right amount of color.
Woven wire basket with headpin attached
I added a necklace made with chain and recycled glass beads as well as some Czech glass beads.


Woven wire necklace
Since my true love is bead embroidery I just had to come up with something that I could incorporate a headpin with.

Close-up of twirly headpin
Close-up of beaded ceramic face
I used a ceramic face cabochon I made years ago when I used to play with stoneware clay and beaded around it. I paired the beaded head with some copper discs (etched & domed slightly) with a blue/greenish patina added. Used regular old copper balled headpins to connect the discs to each other and the beaded piece. Then used a swirly headpin with metal bead to dangle from the bottom.
I hung it from a piece of copper wire that I flattened in areas. Again, no liver of sulphur meant I had to try and patina with heat. I added some matte amazonite beads and a clasp to finish.
Mixed media necklace
Creating this piece using the bead embroidered cab along with metals and wires really made me rethink my whole jewelry making process. I have been so focused on bead embroidery that I forgot how much I love metals.
close-up of copper headpin
So I had to start another pendant that incorporates another wire headpin.
It isn't finished YET. I will do another piece of bead embroidery to hang the metal pendant from.
This is a piece of brass, flooded with solder and embedded with a brass filigree flower and a metal ring around it. I threaded an African opal bead, turquoise fetish bird bead & metal beads onto the spiral headpin. I believe I have a stone cabochon that will be perfect to pair with this. Stay tuned for the finished piece.

And finally I made a pair of earrings just because I needed another pair.
I did take the quick and easy way out and used store bought ear wires for photographing. I will probably go back and make my own ear wires so that they will look more cohesive.
Etched brass earrings with brass spiral headpins
The earrings were made with etched brass. Metal and glass beads were threaded onto the brass spiral headpins.

I can't wait to go blog hopping to see what wonderful things the other AJE team members and reader participants have created.
Here they are if you want to check them out:

Guests :

Alison Herrington 
AJE Team:


Until next time...Live your life creatively~
Cathy


Monday, August 22, 2016

'The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.' Socrates

Moving is hard... I knew this before we moved and yet somehow I thought this time would be different since we wanted to move and we got to choose where we moved. I was so excited to start this next chapter of our lives-heading down the path to retirement.
The good thing is, I was so busy unpacking and visiting with family and friends the first couple of months that I didn't really have time to process all the changes that we were going through.
It has now started to sink in that life is really different...
Not bad different, just different. I have had a bit of a pity party lately. I miss my art groups and I miss my art group friends. I miss my yoga studio and my wonderful yoga teachers and fellow yogis.The heat in Carolina has been a bit much especially the humidity-so yes, I guess I miss the cooler temps of Illinois. BUT I won't be saying that come January and February!
I knew this small town we moved to only had ONE yoga studio but thought it would be fine. I have tried going several times. I keep hoping I will feel more at home there but it's soooooo different from the yoga studios that I knew and loved along the North Shore of Chicago. Everything is different about the studio and the yoga. I keep researching the studios in nearby Raleigh too. I will have to put my 'big girl' yoga pants on and drive to Raleigh and check out one of those studios. In the meantime, I do my own yoga at home and there are exercise classes at the clubhouse in my neighborhood. It's very convenient and it's a nice change of pace. So I guess I need to 'build on the new' like the quote in the title says.
As far as my art groups...I mentioned in my last post that I had joined the local art group which is nice but still not quite like the group of fiber friends in IL. The good thing has been joining the Art Jewelry Elements group online. It's the next best thing to having a local, in-person group. I am 'building the new'!
So with that bit of whining out of the way and a desire to 'build the new' I am revisiting my yearly project. I put it on hold when I discovered that I chose the wrong color for the Earth element.
This is the first element I did-FIRE
FIRE element





The next element I started was supposed to be Earth. I started it the week we were in the process of moving. I thought it would be good to keep handy to bead on while the guys did the packing. It was while we were driving form IL to NC that I realized I had done the Earth element in the wrong color. When I started it I just assumed Earth would be green. Right?? Nope, it's supposed to be yellow. So after keeping it stored away in a box for the last 4 months I have pulled it out and think I can salvage it by cutting another round piece of green felt and embroidering the proper symbol for the Wood element. Wood is green. That way I don't have to toss this aside or tear out all the beading. I think I can manage to slip the newly embroidered piece under my peyote bezel. I didn't bead it too tightly so I think it will work. Below is the Chinese symbol for Earth but the color palette is for Wood. Next time you see this green embroidered piece I hope to have the Chinese symbol for Wood covering the Earth symbol up.




Since I was so frustrated with that I chose to just work on pendants for necklaces.
Here are several that are in various stages of being complete. I have promised myself I WILL NOT MAKE any more until I finish these. Of course I did start a bracelet yesterday with one of the beautiful Czech glass buttons I just got! LOL

Roan Leopard Marble cab with Onyx cab
Labradorite cabs with freshwater pearls
Turquoise Howlite cab with a Moon snail shell


There is a challenge going on at the Art Jewelry Elements blog this month and I really want to participate in that. So as soon as I finish this blog post I will head to my studio and see if I can make my own artisan head pins for the challenge. Wish me luck!
Check out the blog post, you might want to join in the fun also. 

Life your life creatively~
cathy


Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Migration to North Carolina

My last post was in February, 2 months prior to the 'BIG' move. Whew! What a flurry of activity since then...
Quick Recap:
Jan:Did a 3 day beading workshop with Lisa Binkley
Feb:Did a 2 day Indigo/shibori workshop with Akemi Cohn. Submitted an article about making jewelry to Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine. Was accepted-published in the summer edition which came out in June!!! Started my yearly beading project which for this year is shortened to only 5 pieces since moving really throws the schedule out of whack. This year is going to be the 5 Elements according to Chinese Philosphy. First element-FIRE.
March: Went to the Field Museum of Chicago for the Terracotta Warrior exhibit (fabulous) Helped set up the WJIF exhibit at Navy Pier in Chicago for the Flower & Garden Show. Most likely the last time I will ever be able to help with that exhibit due to moving. Exhibit was as wonderful as it always is!
April:I was featured on the blog Art Jewelry Elements!!!My friend Jenny Davies-Reazor ,whom I met through Instagram and Facebook is a member of the team over at AJE and asked to interview me. Very flattered and honored ;-)) Then the big MOVE...Packed, loaded, shipped out to North Carolina April 16. 14 hour journey by car with a whiney dog and a very vocal cat-not fun. We survived and the moving vans arrived April 18. (I am happy to report that the mountain of boxes they unloaded are now all unpacked!) Realized that the second beaded element I started-EARTH was done in the WRONG color. Big oops! Need to figure out how to salvage it.
May:Spent many hours unpacking, organizing, wondering why I didn't purge MORE things before moving...Daughter graduates from University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine (BIG WOO HOO) The culmination of years of hardwork finally paying off! For her and her parents :-)
June:Girls'weekend at Ocracoke Island, NC with girls/women I have been friends with since elementary school/high school! Always a fun time with them and it was very much needed. Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine issue that I was published in came out (Yay)!
Daughter moved after graduation but unfortunately for her parents she moved to Denver :-(
Maybe one day she will come back to the east coast to be near her dottering old parents.
Attended our first neighborhood gathering in our new home-a pig pickin'. Fun times, met lots of new neighbors. Got driver's licenses, registered vehicles, and researched doctors/dentists in our new area.
July:Best friend that I have known since we were 8 years old came for a visit-always a great time with her. And her daughter and daughter's boyfriend even came for a quick visit. Was also able to head to VA to visit my brother & his wife as well as my cousin & his wife. Then the following week we joined my brother and his wife, their daughter & her husband at the beach-OBX.  Just last week we decided to explore the crystal coast of NC. A little further south from OBX- we went to Atlantic Beach.  Also, getting back to my southern roots and the whole caning/pickling process. I made a great batch of peach/jalapeno jam and a batch of HOT pepper jelly. Which brings me to the current month...
August: Started with a bang!
Got a FB message from Jenny over at AJE asking me to join the group. How flattered and shocked I was. All the old anxieties: am I good enough?, will anyone want to read what I write on their blog?, can I handle the pressure?, What will I write about?, but most importantly I am HORRIBLE at staying on top of this blog, my own personal blog. Now I have been asked to join their group and I will need to commit to a blog post almost every 2 weeks. The pressure!! But as you can see/read, I have no trouble blabbering on once I get started-HA! I guess the problem will be shutting me up once I start. :-P  So that took place Monday and I thought long and hard about accepting the offer for membership but today I bit the bullet and said YES. I am now a team player at Art Jewelry Elements blog. So come on over and read about the rest of the amazing jewelry artists that are there.
Yesterday marked another big step in my creative life in my new town. I attended and joined the local art group- Clayton Visual Arts. They seem to be a great group. I am an anomaly in that I am the only fiber artist and bead artist that they have! So I must seek out more fiber & bead folks to bring to the group. They are excited about me joining. The group does a lot of exhibiting locally and also does a fundraiser to support the local art teachers. The have an Art Faire next month and I am exhibiting my '12 Months of Buddha' beaded/quilted wall hanging. I was also asked to submit a series of work for a possible monthly exhibit next year. They have monthly exhibits and usually just showcase one or two artitsts! So I need to frame my goddesses from last year so I can be prepared to exhibit quite a few pieces of my work. 
One of the fundraisers the art group does is an annual Christmas Home Tour. They showcase an artist in each home, meaning the artist brings his/her pieces to display and sell during the home tours. They are actually showcasing the neighborhood I moved to and have begged me to place my home on the tour-- Whew! Talk about pressure... I love decorating for Christmas, I really do. So it does sound perfect. I get to decorate my home to the MAX for showing and also display my jewelry for sale! The only thing is-I have already starting planning the 'theme' for decorating and I really need to be working on beading rather than even thinking about Christmas decorations at this point. I mean it's only August and it's still in the 90's! Planning the Christmas decor can wait until at least September.
Sorry for not posting any photos. I did give you lots of links to click on which will take you to see many delightful photos, blog posts and websites.
I know I've said this before, but this time I mean it. I am commited to blogging more. I have to wean myself off FB. The whole political thing makes me CRAZY. So I would much rather log into my blog and ramble on about life and creativity!
Stay tuned....I will be back soon. Hopefully with lots of photos!
Until then.........live your life creatively~
cathy