Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And Sometimes I Make Something Just for Me

During my thrift store hunts for unusual metal that could somehow become a piece of jewelry, I find that I just can't resist beautiful, old flatware.
Some of the flatware that I find to be especially irresistible is from the early 1900's, often made by Rogers Bros. or by Oneida.
I never know how I might use the spoons and forks that I end up claiming, but they come home with me because they're like small pieces of sculpture that deserve more than being relegated to the often-neglected kitchen wares section of the thrift store.
The spoon with the $1 price tag is a sugar spoon with the Orange Blossom pattern, made by Wm. Rogers & Son in 1910.
I love how the  flowers have the look of repousse metal work, one of the reasons why I have not yet been able to take my saw to this spoon.
The top spoon is a Florida commemorative spoon made by Oneida Community, possibly in the 1940's.
The state spoons by Oneida are so rich in detail, and so much more interesting than the contemporary commemorative spoons that some people purchase today as a keepsake of their travels.
When I found this Florida spoon a few years ago, I also found one for Illinois.
I immediately knew that the Illinois spoon would be used to make something for me.
I spent two years in Illinois, attending graduate school at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign which is where I met my late husband.
All of my in-laws are in Illinois, and the state will always be a place that has part of my heart.
I saw cut out the 'ILLINOIS' section and drilled a hole at each end.
Sterling wire was used to wrap connectors of garnet and sterling beads along with heavy gauge silver links.
Because my hands are so busy with different projects, I don't typically wear bracelets....
but when I do,
my Illinois bracelet is usually the one that I choose.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Presenting My Paintings

As I continue with my painting endeavors, I have begun working more earnestly to seek out opportunities to display my work....
and hopefully, sell my work.
I currently have work at the following locations...
Last month, my brother treated me to a birthday dinner at this great, new restaurant in Lansdowne.
In addition to having a fantastic dinner, we realized that they had dedicated one of the dining rooms as a gallery space for local artists.
Before I could open my mouth, my brother said,
"She's an artist. You should have her artwork here."
The owner was interested, and...
a couple of weeks ago I hung a display of 12 pieces on the walls of Patrone's dining space.
Do people buy art when they go out for dinner?....
maybe not, but it's definitely better to have these pieces hanging where they can be seen rather than hanging out in my basement.
That's my 'The Fields Before Me' at the far left on the wall.
When I dropped off this entry, I found out that several people wanted to purchase the painting that I entered last year.
Of course they did...because it wasn't for sale.
This year's painting is for sale, so we'll see what happens.
I entered two pieces for this show which opened last Thursday.
My painting, Echinacea, is in good company.
It was placed over the award winning 'Some Trees', beautifully painted by Ona, another student of Georganna Lenssen.
The other painting I was entering, 'Summer Sky', presented a bit of a challenge for me.
It's a small painting, and I thought it really needed some kind of frame for it to be effectively presented.
At 4" x 12", it appeared the only frame I would be able to get would have to be a special order which is code for too much money for me.
Time to be a little industrious.
I went to the hardware store and bought a miter box and saw.
I bought some 1/4" x 2" poplar.
I got to work.
I made a very simple frame that has a smidge of a reveal on the front.
I hammered two small pieces of scrap wood into the upper corners to fasten a couple of eyelets for the hanging wire.
Nice and simple and done.
I decided I like the look so much...
that I've been making similar simple frames for some of my other paintings.
So when I went into the gallery to look for my 'Summer Sky' painting, I didn't see it right away.
That's because my small, little painting is very low on the wall, just above the air vent.
Oh well...last year the painting I entered was almost down at the baseboard, so at least I'm moving up in the world.

A few days after the opening, I was back at the Art Center and found a red dot....

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Seeing Eye

My son and his guide dog...
featured on The Seeing Eye web site.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Shopping My Way

Earlier this year, I received a phone call from the accountant who was helping me prepare my taxes.
He asked me if I had made purchases in Delaware (land of tax-free shopping).
He asked me if I shopped on line.
I told him that I really don't do much shopping.
There was a long pause in the conversation and he said,
"You are a very interesting woman."
Actually, given the fact that he was looking at my financial status, he probably should have understood the reason why I don't shop much.
When I do shop, it's often for items that some people might find curious...
like these awesome chisels.
Actually.....3 chisels, one railroad spike and 2 iron thingies.
I recently found these pieces of heavy metal wonderfulness at local thrift stores, and they are now part of my arsenal of texture-making tools.
One of the chisels was used to texture the discs for this batch of new earrings....
being delivered to Woodmere Art Museum this afternoon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It's a Journey

Shortly after I started painting at Wayne Art Center a couple of years ago, I did this painting of Echinacea from a photo I had taken at Chanticleer.
My Instructor, Georganna Lenssen, kept trying to draw more out of me as I painted, talking about creating atmosphere, selectively blurring the edges, layering more paint in a painterly way and 'nevermind the photo....make it interesting.'
I remember thinking, "What is she talking about? This is good!"
I now look at that earlier painting and think, "Oooohhh...this is not so good."
I can appreciate how uninspired it is.
The colors are flat...there's not enough paint on the canvas...there's no depth.
Two years ago, I did not have the critical eye to understand my shortcomings.
I also had no idea what a 'painterly way' meant.
That's the difference that some time and some learning can make for me.
I heard another local artist, Valerie Craig, say, "If you want to learn how to paint, paint."
I took that to heart and continued painting at Wayne Art Center as well as at home.
After my son is cared for, the dishes are cleaned and the laundry is underway, I often set my easel up in the kitchen and paint.
It's definitely an awkward set-up, but I want to learn how to paint.
So I paint.
I'm in the midst of working on another Echinacea painting from another Chanticleer photo.
I know this is better than my earlier effort, but I can also see how this should improve before calling it completed.
Looking at jewelry that I made several years ago, I also think, "Ooohhh...not so good!"
At the time, however, I thought that I was making pieces that were fun and whimsical.
I still have a fondness for some of this earlier jewelry as one has for some childhood memories,
but I've grown up a bit.
I had a stash of earlier pieces that I did not want to sell because they no longer tell the story of where I am as a jewelry designer and craftsperson.
I also didn't want to throw the pieces away, so I took them to donate to a local art center.
The art center was happy to take the pieces of jewelry to sell in the gift shop.
I thought that was great, but insisted on one condition...
my name could not be associated with the pieces.
They could only be for sale anonymously.
Like with my paintings, I've moved on to other and hopefully better things like the most recent pieces from my workbench.
I want to focus on getting represented by more exclusive galleries, so I have to focus on more dignified work.
My new portals charms are made with hand textured sterling silver that I cut into discs and shaped into formed bezels containing semi-precious and precious, faceted gemstones.
The formed bezels are riveted with sterling silver wire to discs that are also hand textured.
I like to think that, little by little, I'm making improvements with both my painting and my jewelry.
It's a journey.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

New Portals

I've been busy at my workbench making pieces for new projects. 
The most recent pieces...
new 'portals' charms featuring freshwater pearls, chalcedony and iolite.
Still working at keeping the back of my work interesting...
with etched, stamped and filed textures.
Finished pieces of jewelry soon.
I think.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

New Jasper Necklace

I liked my recent jasper bezel necklace so much that I just finished a similar piece which also features a bezel set piece of jasper.
As in the previous necklace, I again set a bezel on a piece of etched metal which is riveted to a base of copper, also etched.
The chain portion of the necklace is made with hand formed links of recycled, heavy gauge copper wire, sterling wire-wrapped beads of citrine, crystal and honey jade and textured rings.
Once the necklace was assembled,
I treated it in a warm bath of liver of sulfur, creating an instant patina on the metal.
I used my sanding block to clean the necklace, leaving only highlights of the dark patina.
The pendant was made with a jasper bead set into an etched copper bezel which was soldered on to a square of etched silver nickel.
That square of silver nickel was riveted on to a piece of etched copper which has 3 soldered jump rings for making connections.
 Once again, the copper bezel was a bear to work with since the gauge was a bit thicker than ideal for bezel work.
Oh well....sometimes I just work with what I have at hand.
I didn't like working with it, but I do really like the added texture that the bezel adds to the pendant.
I also really like the etched copper that I used for the pendant base.
This copper was etched months ago and sat on my workbench just waiting for the right project.
I'm still deciding if I like the bottom of the pendant.
I tend to repeat myself by adding clusters of wire wrapped gemstones at the bottom of my pendants but chose this time to use one of my recently made fold formed leaves.
Keep it....change it...
I haven't decided .