Sunday, February 28, 2010

We Were On A Roll

Today we worked in the metals studio for almost six hours. I think that is the longest we have been in the studio for a long time. Either mom's neck gives out or I am frustrated with the way enameling is going and we call it quits. Today was also sniping at each other today. When we first got going I kept giving mom things to do and her come back was, "I only have "Blanking" two hands," and she gives me "The Look". Towards the end of our time at the studio I was sawing and mom was looking for something to do and I told her to glue down one of the patterns and she says you don't have to glue it down as long as you have the outline of it and I gave her "The Look" and she glued down the pattern. Probably swearing at me the whole time while she is doing it.
While in the studio I took some photographs of the process of us making bowls and pendants. I don't think people realize that we hand saw everything out; the pendants and the bowls. We do not buy pre-cut forms. I think that is why it takes us so long to make up the inventory, but I feel better knowing it was mom and I who cut out everything. It is our special touch in that piece.

As you can tell in the photographs mom and I spread out. It is a good thing there were no students in the studio today. I don't think mom and I would know what to do if we had to consolidate to one work station.
Mom cutting out earrings and the pile of bowls we are still working on
Kiln area
Pieces waiting to go into the kiln
Pieces just taken out of the kiln and cooling
Today I was able to enamel four bowls, two pendants, a pair of earrings and one frog (because I need to fix the pair of the frog - the last firing got all jacked up).
Misc. purples and turquoise enameled bird pendant
Black and Purple earrings - I still need to make small beads to put in the center of the earrings
One pair of frog earrings - misc. greens
Howling Wolf pendant - white, black, grey
Black and Purple Heart shaped bowl
"FlutterBy" bowl - misc. transparent yellows w/ purples on the butterfly
Folded "ThumBowLina" bowl - misc. yellows and turquosie
Leaf Bowl - misc. greens and misc. yellows
While I was taking photographs of everything I thought I would also take a photo of the completed commissioned piece mom did. It is a Sterling Silver Viking Knit necklace with one of the rings I made (black base bead w/ red dots).

Saturday, February 27, 2010

First Attempt at Torch Fired Enameled Beads

Well, this afternoon was my first attempt at the torch fired enameled beads. I think the only thing I really got out of it was a burned thumb and index finger. Though I do like how the large, clear transparent bead turned out (last bead I did, of course). I will have to make a set of those to add to my flameworking glass beads to make a necklace.
I freely admit I was an idiot for burning myself. I thought the bead was cool enough to pick up, but of course it was not and I went running for the sink to run cold water on my fingers. I tried to take a photograph of the fingers, so everyone would have a good laugh, but I couldn't get a good enough shot. Oh well. It isn't like I haven't burned myself in the past or burned off my bangs while torching.

My first attempt at torch fired beads was a little frustrating. I re-watched the video and got my directions out after I messed up a few of the smaller beads. I realized I kept forgetting to rotate the mandrel as I was taking the bead off. I also seem to have excess enamel at the end of the mandrel when I am trying to get the bead off and the bead sticks.

I know, I know, I know...keep practicing. It is like everything esle I do, but I want instant gratification damnit!
Here are photographs of my first attempt:
Set of small beads - blues; red/yellow; clear transparent

Set of larger beads of the same colors

Cobalt Blue and Atlantic Blue beads w/ clear as base coat
Red and Marigold Yellow w/ clear as a base coat
Transparent clear (2010 enamel number)
Mom and I are done for the afternoon because our feet are freezing. But all was not lost on the production side, mom completed a commissioned Sterling Silver Viking Knit necklace while I was torching and swearing. I seriously can't wait until it is warmer in the garage!!!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sonya Clark Lecture

Madam C.J. Walker

Last night Siggy had the whole class go over to see a lecture by Sonya Clark, American artist and chair of the Craft/Material Studies Department at VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) in Richmond, VA.

At first I was very skeptical about going to see this lecture. Who wants to sit there and listen to an artist drone on and on about their work. Who uses high faluting words to describe something that could be broken down into smaller and easier words to understand. I LOVED IT; instead I came away from that lecture with ideas tumbling through my mind. Sonya Clark made the lecture fun and interesting. Some of her work I really enjoyed and some of the work I was like, "WHAT". I like how she uses a photograph of a little girl getting her hair braided to go through her whole lecture. Sonya talked about why she uses hair in her work. She talked about how a group of people in Africa, sorry can't remember their name, thinks that the soul is found in a persons head, and that is why hair is so important. Sorry, I could go on and on about last night, it was inspiring.

I feel like I was in a dry spell there for a bit, no new ideas were coming for my military image series. I have at least six pages of new ideas from scribbling last night before going to bed and after I went to bed (I need a flashlight next to the bed, the light from the alarm clock isn't too good).

Some of my ideas came from her talk about the tactile feelings and smells she had when she was learning how to read Braille. I know these would be hard to draw, but I started thinking about my time in the military and the smells I missed from that time. You all are going to think the smells are weird, but so am I. I really miss the smell of the range after everyone has fired their rounds; I miss the smell of vehicles just sitting around before we head out to the field; I miss the smell of "Military" men. They had a distinctive smell. I don't know if it was the Kiwi from the boots, starch from the uniform and their natural odor, but YUM (sorry, can you tell I haven't been on a date for a very, very, very long time. If you know a guy desperate to go out with a 36, in 15 days 37 year old, slightly overweight, thinks exercise is a four letter word, slightly neurotic person, I am your girl). Just kidding, maybe :)

One of the images Sonya Clark showed was called "Iterations". It was a root system of hair. She was talking about how some cultures can trace their heritage back 10 generations. I can't do that, but I was thinking about how I know my great-grandfather was in World War I, both grandfathers were in World War II, and my dad was in Vietnam and served until 1991. Then I served in the Army for almost 10 years. I was thinking I could do something like her "Iterations", maybe with dog tags.

I mean I could go on and on and on with all the ideas I had after this lecture. But you only have so much time to read and I don't want to bore you to death! So, is this what it means to be an artist? Ideas are just flowing and you have to write them down or you feel like your head is going to spin off if you don't? I am just curious because both mom and I don't consider ourselves artists; we consider ourselves craftspeople.

I finish this up with one last image Sonya Clark showed. It is based off of a childhood game, the Pinky Promise.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Photographs and Glass Tiles

Last summer mom and I took a lot of photographs of flowers, places on campus, and Turkey Run (if you live in Indiana you know the state park). I have been racking my brain on how we could incorporate the images into our jewelry.

A few weeks ago I read a blog about glass tiles. I found instructions and I ordered some 1" tiles from Etsy. Last night I finally put some of the tiles together. I like how they look, but I need to figure out how to finish the sides. The Diamond Glaze didn't cover the sides and I need something to protect the paper. Mom and I are going to have to figure something out (if you have any suggestions please let us know). I also want to add a signature to the back of the tiles so people know it was mom and I who took the pictures. Just have to write down notes to myself for the next batch of tiles to make.

The photographs I used were of flowers, a bumble bee, places around campus and then a waterfall at Turkey Run. I have already figured out what beads I want to use I just need to make the beads and I am still waiting for the bails to arrive. If they haven't arrived tonight I will convo the person on Etsy (it shouldn't take two weeks, should it?).

I have images I want to print off and make into a bracelet. I want to use the left over acid wash beads I used for January's Bead Challenge in this bracelet. The photos are of snow and those beads will go perfectly with the photos.

On other great news to make you feel all fuzzy and warm inside. Mom and I received a thank you email from my friend, who we made the necklace for and the wind chime for her new baby. She said she had her new necklace on today and felt so proud wearing it. She said she still couldn't believe the detail in the piece and doesn't have words to express her gratitude to us for making the piece for her.

Now that is why mom and I are in this. It sure as "heck" not for the money. It always makes me smile when I receive compliments like that from a customer.

Unexpected Surprise - Sunshine Award

Julianna, author of Julsbeads, has gifted us with the blog Sunshine Award. We are simply amazed and honored. Julianna made our day! It makes all the hard work worthwhile.

We are speechless, or should I say writers block, because we have no words to describe our joy. According to Julianna's blog, we are to pass this along to six deserving artisans in recognition of your expertise and dedication to making the world a better place one art piece at a time.

The six artisans we choose are:

Lori Anderson of Pretty Things

Shannon Levart of

Cat Kerr of In the Light of the Moon

Sharon P of Sharon's Jewelry Garden

Marie Cramp of Skye Jewels

Barbara Lewis of Painting with Fire

Feeling all bright and shiny now! Please pass along this feeling to others!

- Put the Sunshine image on your blog or within your post.
- Pass the award onto six bloggers
- Link the nominees within your post.
- Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
- Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Metals Studio - Baby Gift

This weekend feels like it was a whirlwind of activity. On Saturday I worked in the ceramics studio for about three hours. I was able to get three bowls trimmed, pulled two handles for cups, and threw five shaped cylinders.

The afternoon was devoted to running around town. Mom and I went to every hardware store looking for chain to use for the gift I was making for a friends baby. The last store, of course, had the size chain I wanted to use. If I ever do this project again I will plan way in advance and buy chain from Rio or someplace else.

On Sunday mom and I were in the metals studio for a little over four hours. I was able to cut out a large bowl and four smaller sized bowls. Mom then filed and sanded the edges and I then heated up the copper so she could form the bowls in the stump.

I then worked on finishing enameling the new "Fairy Jewels" bowl, abstract leaf shapes for earrings and a bracelet and two pendants. I also was able to enamel the inside of one bowl "Flutter Bye" before both mom and I were done.

Fairy Jewels bowl - mom will make Boro pendants to attach to the bowl (where the holes are)

Bracelet parts - colors were transparent purple/pink/yellow

Earrings - colors were transparent purple/pink/yellow

These two pendants I cut out while I was at Penland and I just finally got around to enameling them

When we got back to mom's house we put together my friend, Julie's, baby gift; an elephant wind chime. The colors are based off of what they painted the baby room and the elephant is from another friend's quilt, Elephunk, she made for the baby.

The elephants are dark blue with light blue speckles and miscellaneous browns with blue dots
Lily sniffing the wind chime

Mom and I also made Julie a necklace (she deserves something for carrying a baby around for nine months and then giving birth). The chain is Viking Knit and the pendant is Julie's initials from her photography blog.

The colors are blue and pink

Friday, February 19, 2010

Barbara Lewis - Bead Giveaway

Barbara Lewis, Painting with Fire, is having a giveaway on her new blog. Please go to Barbara's new blog to find out what you have to do to win!

Her stuff is amazing and she has been very patient with me in answering questions about torch firing beads.

Test Over and Ceramic Pieces Fired

Well, the test is finally over with and of course we probably won't find out our grades for another three weeks. The professor and the grad students have a bunch of papers to read and that takes time since all the questions and answers are essays. I am just glad it is over with, until the next test at the end of March, but that is for another day.

The high fire was done yesterday and I was able to see what happened to my stuff. I didn't even take a photograph of the test porcelain piece I did because IT WAS FUGLY! The outside was all brown and we think I didn't put a thick enough coat of glaze on it.

The water lily bowl was a re-do of a bowl I made last semester. For some reason the slip and glaze bubbled during the high fire, so I wanted to make another bowl to see if this problem would happen again. It looks like it turned out alright, though the lily had pink petals and the petals look grey with the celedon as the glaze.

Water Lily

I am pretty happy with the grenade piece though the color of the purple flowers didn't come through the celedon glaze. I talked with Siggy and she said she would bring in a book with a recipe for a high fire clear glaze. On some of my other pieces I really want the colors to come through and that won't happen if I use the celedon.

Grenade with flowers

I am also happy with the way my shaped cylinders turned out and a bowl I made for a friends birthday. I am sorry about the bad quality of photos because I took the pictures at work. I will try and get better photographs and post them on my Flickr account.

Friends B-day Gift - Angel Eyes, Wax Resist, Tenmoko

Angel Eyes, Wax Resist, Gold Shino

Yellow Salt
Yellow Salt then Semi-Matte Blue on top

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