Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Line Drawing done for newest Oil Painting

Line Drawing for newest Oil Painting:

Well, 12 hours later, 4 inches of pencil shorter, and with crossed eyes, I can finally say I've finished the drawing for my painting. I don't know if I mentioned that the size of this is 16 inches x 20 inches. Not very big on a gallery wall but pretty big for a line drawing. The combination of my gesso coat and the cotton weave of the canvas just wore my pencil to a stub.

This is the most ambitious perspective drawing I have ever attempted. The castle is a wee wonky to begin with, mostly in the roof lines, am thinking that the braces for the spires may have warped a bit over the centuries :D And I never saw so many different vanishing points in my life...I thought my brain would vanish before I was done! I did my best, checking and rechecking angles and I'm pretty satisfied with it, overall.

It's times like this that I wish I wasn't such a purist in wanting to do my own drawings...I could have cut the time to an hour if I used a photo enlarger. I try to tell myself that it's just a tool and it's not that I can't draw but I just can't get past the thought that it would be 'cheating'. Sigh.

I've decided to cover the drawing with a very translucent wash of gesso. Because of the rough texture I had to go back over and strengthen the lines and I don't want the graphite to migrate into the oils, and the retouch varnish I had planned to use may not quite do the trick. I took the photo now, because that will really lighten the lines.

I'm afraid that's all I'll get done tomorrow as I have company coming in the afternoon. But it's good to take a little breather so I can step back and think about my color palette and work out my plan of attack :D A line drawing doesn't catch any of the nuances of light and depth, so that's all got to be worked out in my head ahead of time.

I also think I'm going to approach the painting aspect a bit differently than normal. Usually on portraits I do the background first but I think I'll start with the focal point of the bike, then do the castle and bring in the background last. I have three reasons for this...first, I won't lose the edges I need for my perspective; secondly, when I put the background behind it I will be able to lose some of those hard edges and give it a sense of soft distance and last but not least, landscape is not my forte' and a little procrastination will warm up my courage and technique. 

Thanks for following along, am not sure when I'll be updating this...depends on how ugly the beginning stages are :D


Monday, December 29, 2008

First drawing for newest painting

This is just part of the drawing for my next painting. I realize that it's hard to see, it's drawn very lightly in pencil on a textured gessoed canvas. Line drawings are not very pretty anyways but I need to do them on anything that has to be kept in perfect perspective. It is just a guideline for the painting, you can't really just fill in the lines with paint :)

I had hoped to get the whole drawing done, but I'd forgotten that I wanted to put a light coat of new gesso on the canvas. I've found that when you buy gessoed canvas it is rather slick, the new layer gives the paint a better bite. I've learned you have to let it dry very well so I lost a couple hours waiting for it to dry.

For those of you who have never done a grid drawing, here's how it works. I put together a ref in photoshop (actually Gimp), sizing the whole piece to be 8x10 print size. I then combine different references as layers, moving them around until I'm happy with the composition and print it. I then grid the print into one inch squares. Then I draw out a grid of two inch squares on the canvas. I use the squares as guidelines for positioning as I draw. I can and have free hand drawn other paintings, but it is way too easy to get off on angles when doing mechanical work. 

Once I get done with the drawing I will erase any unnecessary lines with an elastic type eraser. I then coat the drawing with a layer of retouch varnish. This seals the graphite in place so that it can never migrate into the paint. I could also use an almost clear coat of gesso, but I draw fairly light and that can obscure some key points. 

If you follow along on this WIP you will be amazed at the changes it goes through before the final touches. All that the line drawing really does is save me some work positioning things later, I can paint a bit more freely once I have a map in place. 

So, are you wondering what this is? If you can see it good enough (I tried to up the contrast a bit) you'll see that it is a girl (me!) riding a Harley (1200 Sporty to be exact). You can probably see a bit of an odd shaped building behind me and a curved wall to the left of the bike. That is the beginning stages of a walled road that leads to a castle. The small building is probably a coach house that sits across the lane from the main building. 

I don't usually do paintings specifically for gallery shows but the concept for this particular show intrigued me and I immediately saw my interpretation in my head. The show will be at the University of Idaho during March, National Women's History Month. The Woman's Studies Program at the University puts on a yearly show. I had a piece in it two years ago but was not painting last March. 

The theme for the show is: "From Cinderella to Fiona: Reconstructing Fairy Tales from a Feminist Point of View:. It is supposed to be an original and innovative way to teach girls and young women about what it really means to be a woman.

I grew up in an era when women were expected to fill a certain role. Nothing wrong with that role if a woman chooses it, but there really weren't places for women to step out into other fields.  It didn't take much for me to figure out that this was not fair...I knew for a fact that I could out think, out run and out dare any boy I knew, so no one was telling me that they were better than I and therefore should have more opportunities. 

I've always had a bit of rebel in me and yet like any girl I loved to lose myself in fairy tales. The funny thing is that as a tomboy, I did not see myself as the fairy princess, no, I rather liked the idea of riding my own white horse off into the sunset (maybe I'm mixing up fairy tales and westerns here lol). I also had noted that women throughout history had not always played the expected role either. Amelia flew off into history, Susan B. Anthony had her home in the town I grew up in and Cleopatra may have been a queen but she didn't really fit the stereotype either.

I wondered for a split second how they broke the mold others made for them and it came to me...they just decided they were going to do something and never let anything or anyone stop them. Stubbornness is one of my character traits, so I decided that that was just how I would do whatever I wanted in life, even if others said I couldn't. I worked construction when it was pretty much a man's domain and I got my own Harley despite the common belief that I belonged on the back and not in the front. Oh, I took a little crap, but I gave back as good as I got and I earned my respect along the way. They have a saying that a woman has to work twice as hard as a man to prove themselves but I found that all you have to do is get your scoot to the next traffic light twice as fast  :D

Anyways, this is what I'm drawing on for this painting. It is going to be titled with my own favorite private saying...'I am, therefore I can" It will show me riding out of that really-not-so-fairy-tale castle on my own damn steed, grinning bigger than the Cheshire Cat. :D 

For me that's always been it...I've always known that I can ride off into the sunset any time I want. It doesn't mean I have to leave responsibility behind but it's me that gets to decide where I should be, because it's nobody's life but my own. 

Now I just have to get my fairly realist painting to convey all that without words lol


(Just for cuteness sake I've thrown in a photo of Boots playing in the snow below)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Introducing my New Art Gallery of Paintings to 1000 Markets

I've painted seriously for almost 15 years, but I have recently been on hiatus due to health issues. Luckily, and unexpectedly, the muse has returned and now that I'm working on a new painting I've decided to add a collection of my paintings to my existing Nine Dragons Sculpture Art store on 1000 Markets.

The painting above is titled The Sultress. It was featured along with another of my paintings on a full back cover ad for Shiva paintstiks in the Pastel Journal. It's a favorite of my husbands and he's been reluctant to part with it but the time has come for her to find a forever home :)

The painting I'm working on now is for entry into a gallery show at the University of Idaho. The theme is deconstructing fairy tales to show a feminist point of view....right up my alley teehee! Tomorrow I'll start a base drawing and hopefully put oil to canvas the day after.

I'm really looking forward to painting again. I know I'll have to make a lot of adjustments in how I work so that I can handle the long hours but I think it'll be worth it. Because I paint with oils there is a lot of down time while I wait for the oil to dry between layers., so I plan on keeping up with my sculptures and jewelry during those times.

It's really exciting to put up a new art gallery of my paintings and it's an awesome way to artistically greet the upcoming New Year! Woohoo!


Friday, December 26, 2008

Art & Vision

photo of sculpture Leapfrog
As the New Year approaches I'm taking a good hard look at my own artistic vision and where it stands. Lately I have been concerned with the marketing aspect of my work, something that is much needed for a successful art career. Unfortunately, sometimes in the act of marketing we forget the art. 

There's an endless amount of discussion over what constitutes the definition of art. Is it talent? Is it marketability? Is it fine art or craft? Does it need to be traditional or expressionistic? I don't think any of that is art, rather just labels for art. 

Art is the vision of the artist, no more, no less. If something is made for the sole purpose of selling it is a product. Art can be a product but a product cannot be art. If that sounds a little confusing, well it is, especially when the artist is the one that gets it mixed up.

This photo is of one of my first sculptures after changing over to sculpture from painting. I had a vision that was all my own. I even had to create a new 'life form' to be able to express it. I called them Jammins'© and this sculpture I created was called 'Leapfrog'. 

Now, my forte' in painting was realism. I can sculpt realist too, but that was not my vision. Perhaps a large nude or animal bust would be considered more serious sculpture, but again, that was not my vision. My vision was all about expressing an emotion...joy. I think I did that and did it well and certainly in no one's voice but my own. I'm very satisfied with this piece and I know the owner loves it. 

But, not every one gets it. Just like everyone didn't get Vincent Van Gogh's paintings, not really a fit for the times, so to speak. So I stretched my scope a bit. I started turning mini-sculptures of animals into jewelry...people like animals and they like jewelry, so it sounded good. I like those too...it was a creative solution and I was still enjoying it. 

Well, they didn't move quickly either. I know that lots of people like them, just haven't been breaking sales records with them. So I expanded into more conventional jewelry. I've done a few custom pieces that I'm quite happy with and have opened a new avenue of expression, and that's all good.

But suddenly I find that I'm thinking more about product than expressing my vision. Or maybe thinking about vision as a product...either way it's not good for the vision, or in other words, the art. I'm not following my vision like I need to be. I'm not expressing joy and I'm not feeling joy in my work right now and that is so not good for the art. Somehow it's become more about proving myself than making art, more about selling the product rather than the art.  I haven't made a Jammins© sculpture in ages. And why? Because it wasn't selling well. Shame on me, how can I call myself an artist?

The New Year is just around the corner and so its time for new resolutions. I'm going to take my cue from Vinnie...he knew his vision clearly and even though he was never successful in his lifetime he knew that people would one day see it for the art that it truly was. As an artist, you sort of have to believe that to keep creating or else it has no value... monetarily or otherwise.

I see no problem with continuing to create in the newer directions I've found, but I need also to get back to basics.  When you have a vision then you have to fight to make it become reality. You have to stay true to that vision or it becomes valueless. I'm all for marketing my vision, I'm not at all for just marketing a product. If I don't protect and nurture my vision then product is all I will have and the world is flooded with product and doesn't necessarily need more of it.

But I do believe that the world needs vision...it's not always a joyous place and perhaps a humorous little sculpture isn't going to bring joy into the world per se. But if it brings a little smile, if it reminds you that there is such a thing as joyful abandonment, then that is all I really want. 


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays from Art Ravings

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and a very happy and prosperous New Year!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wearable Art Market feature - Constance Rose Textile Designs

Don't you just love this hand-painted silk chiffon scarf by Constance Rose? Every time I see it I think of the story of Joseph and The Many Colored Coat. 

Connie is a member of the Wearable Art Market at 1000 Markets. Each week I am featuring the work of one of our members to give people an idea of the wonderful selection we have in our market. You can click on the photo above to see details about this item, and be sure to check out the rest of her shop...she also offers beautiful art cloth and handwoven wearables.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Can I have it now, puleeeze?????

This is Boots. Boots is doing what we call his 'bear trick'. He does this when he wants something (like a yummy treat). Boot's is a very polite dog, he's never messed with the Christmas tree or with the presents under it. But he loves Christmas, and knows exactly when it starts...the day I pull out the decorations.

He will not leave my side until everything is in it's place. He noses each present as it goes under the tree, but he knows, just like any little kid, that he has to wait until Santa comes and makes it official.

There is no cue when that will be though, and the anticipation builds and builds. Last night a new present went under the tree...he 'helped' to wrap it even. I walked out of the room and when I came back I noticed him with his head to the floor and thought I heard a paper crinkling. 

I rushed over and sure enough he had a present there...nice and soppy wet from him licking it. Now here's the thing...when he's given a package he rips the wrapping right off, just like any eager kid. This wasn't torn at all...but that's not what is amazing. He had pulled HIS present out from under the tree. 

There was no give away that it was his...no scents, no sounds, no obvious shape. And he had to go through a few other presents to grab this one. How did he know? Even if he figured out it was the only package that he hadn't helped put there...how did he know that? Sometimes I think these doggy friends of ours hide their 'light' behind affable grins just to keep us guessing. 

Anyways, I put the package right back where it was and told him 'not yet' and it hasn't been touched since. But I think Santa better hurry :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Latest Wearable Art design - Shimmer

Shimmer Designer Necklace
This is my latest Wearable Art necklace, Shimmer.

I designed this one to be flexible so that it would have movement and catch light in different ways. It wasn't really an easy design for a perfectionist...I like every i dotted and t crossed.

I had to let go of that, though, wire is springy and although it is a thick enough gauge to be sturdy it is still bendable, so the many components are able to be shaped to an individual person's form.  

The bell cones are based on the practice of Native Americans use of cone shaped shells as decoration. The cones are made of a pale blue polymer clay and then hand embossed with a fine silver metallic powder, then sealed. So they look blue, silver or a combination of the two, depending on the light.

If you notice, the glass beads around the neck are glittering in some places (click on the photo to see this piece on my shop, then zoom to see detail). That is because part of the beads have been treated with a photo emulsion and as the beads spin on the wire base they sparkle like little jewels :)

Every component on this piece moves in one way or another, bouncing or turning. But the main frame does hold it's shape unless manually adjusted.

It really shines on bare skin, so would be lovely with an open necked top or dress.

I think maybe I've strayed a little from my usual minimalist approach but sometimes whimsey is just as appealing :)


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fantasy and Reality

A few of my fellow members at The Wearable Art Market live in the southern climes and have been saying how much they are missing the change of the seasons, and mostly, snow.

So I thought I'd give them a nice snowy little view of the hills behind our house. I took this photo early this morning and about five more inches have fallen since then.

One thing about pretty little fantasies is that there's usually a not so lovely reality lurking around behind the scenes. 

The photo below (and my aching back from shoveling the driveway and front stairs) is a good example :D

Enjoy those balmy days, ladies!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wearable Art Market feature - Art for Your Head

I've talked about being a member of The Wearable Art Market at 1000 Markets on this blog and while you may be familiar with my wearable art jewelry maybe you haven't had a chance to see some of the other member's work there.

So I thought that each week I'd feature one creation from each member of our group, starting with DreamWoven, our Market manager, just to whet your appetite.  

The name of the hat featured here is 'Ambrato'. This is part of the description of this fantastical creation:

This hat is a freeform creation done with a combination of techniques.... felting (fulling)and needle felting. She is made from bits and pieces of fulled (felted) merino, alpaca, llama.... needle felted to achieve the 3 dimensional quality (the ridges as well as the ruffles in the back)... I used an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous amber ("Ambrato"), honey, butterscotch, hand dyed merino as the accenting colour to the different shades of greys and browns. The embellishment of the domed vintage wood button (very reminiscent of the contours of the hat itself) along with the handsewn Adventurine beads, makes for a wonderful focal point.

Trust me, this is just a wee taste of  some absolutely beautiful and innovative pieces of her art that are also wearable. I've an eye on her fey series hats...they have adorable side tassels that look like the cutest little pigtails, I think my granddaughter would love one :)


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Artistic Vision

I just read a blog by "thebeadedlily" about the value of a vision and it got me to thinking about what exactly my own vision is. In a nutshell, I want to create totally unique, wearable art, jewelry designs that involve thnking outside the box, things that could only come out of my own little warped mind :) Every time I approach making a new concept piece I'm either thinking about how to use materials in a new way or how to take a technique from another medium and use it in the medium I choose. I take inspiration from anything that catches my fancy at the moment, and I stretch the boundaries of that object to fit the boundaries of jewelry...it has to have flow, craftsmanship, imagination and beauty. The uniqueness is my own thing, I personally love to own the unusual if I can, so that's the type of person I create for. I also take inspiration from other artists, but instead of using their design I like to take individual components and tie them into a piece I'm working on in a new way. This is a lot harder than it sounds, but it's also a lot more fun than doing something that's already been done. I usually start out with one idea that goes through 20 or more design phases before I get a finished piece. Some ideas just won't work, or they work and don't quite give me the effect I want. If I change one component, then the other components have to be re-thought...or else there won't be a flow. I also very much create for myself...as far as the design goes, it has to fit my aesthetic. But as far as wearing the piece, well, I will enjoy it for a little while but my neck or wrist is not the one that the piece is meant for. That person is out there somewhere and it is already theirs, they are the one person in the world that I created it for, they just don't know it yet. "thebeadedlily" started her blog with a quote from Vincent Van Gogh; “I can't change the fact that my paintings don't sell. But the time will come when people will recognize that they are worth more than the value of the paints used in the picture." Vincent had it right...he knew he had a vision of worth and he never quit even though he only sold one painting in his whole life. A vision has to be made real to have value and is something that evolves with each step; they take a lifetime to achieve. I'm with Vincent, I believe a time will come.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hand carved ornament elves by Kathy Robbins

I just love getting ornaments for Christmas  because I get to open them early!

These adorable little guys were made for me by my artist friend Kathy Robbins

They stand from 3 -4 inches high and each one is unique. Some have deep incise marks on the clothing but my personal favorite is the one that allowed the shaving marks to show...I think it's just wonderful to see the mark of the artist in their work. Kathy also handpainted each one of these once they were carved. 

So far she has just carved these for friends and family but I think I've convinced her to open a shop at 1000 Markets after the first of the year where I'm sure these will sell like hot cakes next season...meanwhile she'll have lots of other carvings to tickle your fancy too.

Thanks, Kath!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Are you looking for something unusual for the holiday?

1000 Markets

Ok...so I belong to 1000 Markets as a merchant, and of course I like to promote this venue, it's only natural since I have a business there. I already have badges on the side of my blog for both my own store and the market I belong to there. So why this extra post?

Well, today is one of those days that my creative juices decided to take a nap without me and about all the energy I have has been spent cruising around the 500+ stores at 1000 Markets to check things out. I also like to write a blog post every day and when you're not creating and the brain cells also went on siesta, well, you gotta write about something, right?

I've also gotten some environmental news email today, urging people to stop wasting gas and shop online for their holiday gifts...yeah, I say...good idea! There's a glut of advertising on the net, usually for either mass produced goods or top fashion designs. There's a lot of unusual shops out there too, with really innovative and/or beautiful craftsmanship but they're really hard to find. So what to do?

Well, that's the driving idea behind 1000 Markets. It's not just another online site for handcrafted warehousing. It's juried-acceptance multiple artisan shops featuring high quality workmanship gathered together in one place. These shops in turn are gravitating towards markets....regional, item specific, style...wherever they fit well.

Want something modern and sleek to give your significant other? Have a new baby in the family? Is there someone in your house with a sweet tooth? How about someone who loves to turn their bathroom into a personal spa? Want some high fashion wearable art? Or maybe just some lovely unique cards to send out. You can find markets that will cater to each of these things and then pick the shops that strike your fancy.  Or you can just cruise the shops or even just check out the product photos and click on what appeals.

What makes this place different is that, although you get a market experience, you also get quality and uniqueness. And you get love.  Yep, that's right...I never yet have found love at the big department stores or high end boutiques, have you? Do you pick up something you admire and marvel at the craftsmanship and actually feel the love that went into it? Do you know that when this piece is given as a gift that it passes on more than your own love to the receiver? Yes, you can't touch and feel things online, but you can see it and even feel it at 1000 Markets. 

And did I mention unique? The thing about artisans is that when they see a need, they invent something to fill it. There's some pretty innovative stuff in some of these shops...something you might just have wished you had. And loads of things you may not need, or ever thought of wanting, but the sheer inventiveness tickles your acquisition bone :)

The artisans themselves are a pretty special group too...they may be your neighbor (the nice one) or live just down the street. They may live across the country in a place you'd love to see and feel. They bring their world to you, through their eyes and hearts. They give you quality and pride of workmanship and yes, love...love for what they do, love for sharing what they do. And although everyone hopes to make a living doing what they love, almost all will agree that they just want a loving home for that part of them invested in their work. They want you to be happy and will go out of their way to make that happen for you in exchange for your business.

I don't know about you, but these days I feel most places in the service business forgot the 'service' part. Put your money in the bank and they act like they're doing you a favor. Ask a question and get an automated machine. Expect a smile and get impatience. You will find none of that at 1000 Markets. It's real people with a real desire to give you your money's worth.

This is a time in history when things are confusing and on shaky ground. It's not terrible, but it's a little frightening and it makes people want to gather their loved ones around them and settle in to 'comfort' things. The threat of loss makes things we have so much more special and that not only applies to our families, it also encompasses the memories. My memories are tied into little keepsakes that have meaning to me. When I give a gift that is what I want to give that person...a memory. Make a memory today for your loved ones and friends...if you're going to get them a gift, then buy something special that started on the basis of love. 

That's it...give 1000 Markets a try, I bet you'll like what you find :)


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Don't you love inspirational blogs?

I do...one led me to doing my latest concept piece "Lime in the Coconut".  

It all started yesterday morning when I opened my Google Reader to check out the blogs I can't get in my mail RSS feed. I follow several artists and artisans for the most part. The Daily Art Muse is one of my favorites...she has inspiring posts but she also scours Flickr for inspirational photos to share.  

They are always inspiring but until yesterday never actually were the start of an actual piece I made. But she put up a photo of a close crop grouping of coconuts. The combination of roundish repeating shapes and texture grabbed my attention so I 'starred' it for later. At that time I was thinking of the pattern.  

But then it happened. Yep, that dreaded song-stuck-in-the-head thing...'Put the lime in the coconut..." . Over and over it played until my only recourse was to sit down and design this little literal interpretation.

It's only an inch around and it became my favorite piece (so far) once I put it on...it's very textural in your hand and it bounces merrily on your chest...and I'm not even a 'green' type of person but I love the color. Also in real life it sort of captures 'coconut' quite well.  

I love anything that tickles my funny bone anyways, and this certainly does that. So as you all sweat the mechanics of writing your own blogs out there, remember that someone, somewhere might just grab an inspiration like I did, and that makes it all worth while :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Looking for that perfect girl

This is 'Tonya'. She could be that perfect girl, but she's a bit high priced for me :) I'm sure you're all doing a double take right about now...what I'm actually looking for is an affordable mannequin I can use to design my necklaces on.

(I also need a bit of practice using my Gimp photo program on my iMac...I had it down when I had a PC but the layout is different now. I just spent two hours trying to add my last necklace design and a funky dress with no depth lol)

Seriously though, I want a mannequin. I have a design in mind that needs to exactly fit the curves around the neck and over the shoulders to hang just right. Impossible to do on myself and Chopper's neck is a bit thick to use :D

But have you seen the cost of mannequins? I've found a couple that are pretty banged up and really quite non-inspiring in an affordable range but I totally have to be inspired by how the piece looks on the model. Ethnic is great because that great honey tone works with colors so well. But I'd go for your normal WASP model if she had a bit of edginess and was affordable. 

Now, I'm on a budget (Ok...I really have no budget at all, money is extremely tight at the moment, but lets just pretend I have a small one) and it seems to me that I should be able to find a mannequin that will work in my price range (0-50 bucks top lol) 

I want at least a full half figure...I can use the arms and hands for designing jewelry , and I want the head because I'm thinking in some new directions too. I want the edgy look because I think my photographs would be nice on a 'live' model too. And ok, it would be fun to have a life size doll to play around with fashion wise :)

Now it seems to me that there are probably thousands of discarded or lost in storage mannequins out there, left over from failed businesses or downgraded to make room for newer models. I don't live in a very large city, but I'm still betting there's pretty little mannequins that would love a new home somewhere in this town.

I've searched the net and scoured the local ads, but no luck. If you have my 'perfect girl' out there, that's gathering dust in a corner, please drop me a line and let me know, I promise to give her a good home and if all goes well with my designs, I'll also make her a star!


Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Bohemian Christmas tree

This year my husband and I decided that, although we love having a real Christmas tree, our money could best be spent elsewhere. But as an artist I truly felt that I should be able to create an artistic sort of tree as a replacement. So this is what I have christened my 'Boho Tree'. 

I had a tiered lamp with 3 glass shelves...although I had to sacrifice the details to get this photo, and you can't actually see it, the shelves are holding beautiful large snowglobes that we've acquired over the years. There's also a tree skirt underneath propping up a few little stuffed Christmas characters. 

At the top hang our two most precious ornaments, one is a white teddy bear angel that I bought the Christmas after we lost our beloved keeshond, Wooly Bully...he loved Christmas and this was our way of inviting our little angel to share it with us every year. The other is also an angel remembrance portrait in silver frame of our dear friend, Jim aka Doctor Hog, who passed away this year. 

The frosted glass lampshade at the top is stuffed with 3 strands of lights and looks like a candy bowl of light. When I got all done and stepped back to enjoy it I thought of a conversation we are having at 1000 Markets in the forums, about starting up a Boho (Bohemian) Market...I couldn't help but think how this would fit right in. :)


Friday, December 5, 2008

Blue Cascades...latest designer concept piece

unique designer necklace
This is my latest design, Blue Cascades. I was inspired to do this when I saw this lovely black and white photograph by Phil Douglis 

How did I get from this photo to my final design? Well, I've laid it all out in two blog posts at 1000 Markets in my blog there. I go through the whole process of how I worked out the design to how I made it work in real life. Here are the links: Part 1 and Part 2 . Loads of detail photos too :)

This has been a great week for me. I made my first sale at my Nine Dragons Sculpture Art store at 1000 Markets and we're still in sneak preview mode. I feel honored that someone picked my shop out of the 500 or so shops that are already there. The site is just wonderful, such a supportive staff than genuinely is out to make the best site of this kind (actually, the only site of this kind...it's very innovative) and they actually seek out and listen to our suggestions as they build the site up. We all love it there.

My website just had an editing makeover and I've never had such an easy interface for being able to add and edit on my site before. I had loads of pages to update and was in and out of there in a flash...love it.

My friend Kathy Robbins just received the sculpture I did of her Jack Russell terrier, KT and loved it, (though if you choose to do artwork of someone's beloved pet, it's pretty much a shoe-in that they'll love it lol ).

And of course, I'm feeling good that I got my design for Blue Cascades to work out.

Now it's back to the everyday life things for a bit, the dust bunnies have taken over the place! And tomorrow I'll decorate for Christmas and then get those cards done and sent out. I hope you are all having good weeks too :)


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My first promo video

check this out, made free at animoto.com!

Biting off more than I can chew

Well, maybe not more than I can chew, but my mental mouth is stuffed tighter than a chipmunk's with all the brain strain of working my latest piece out. This photo is at the stage I'm at now...I'll be doing more of a step by step article on the process once it's finished, this is just the bare bones of the piece as I'm getting started on the assembly, so the form I'm working towards is not there yet.

What's going on here is a loom weave over twisted sterling wire, using anodized copper wire for my 'thread'. The title of the piece is "Blue Cascade" and it's representing my version of a waterfall. It took more than a week to work out the design in my head and on paper and it's taken two days just to form the variegated pearl blue teardrop beads and sand them to the polished river stone effect I wanted (still sanding the rest too). I won't be glazing these, the light picks up the little flecks of pearl in the polymer clay and the matte finish is going to contrast so nicely with the glass beads in the neckpiece.

I've got it hanging off my work lamp above my desk because if I lay it down everything wants to tangle up. The cascade is going to diminish as it goes downwards. The top silver wires, representing the water stream before it hits the 'falls', will be tightly held together with the multi-strand of glass beads I've chosen. 

I'd hoped for more movement in the beads themselves but the movement is going to have to be from the form itself, as they are having to be too tightly bound in the end as I fit them between the wires. Luckily I am still getting the feeling I was going for, and trust me, it's never a sure thing with something like this, because there's only just so much you can sketch and visualize...then it's up to the laws of nature whether you called it right or not. It would have been nice if each little bead could dance, but it just will not work that way with this design. On the good side it means they won't flip into weird positions and get tangled up (that's what they were doing before I secured them).

My first big hurdle was forming the wires so that they would fall evenly spaced in the final piece. I'm working with 20 gauge square wire and it's sturdy but can oh, so easily, be bent with just the wrong pressure while forming and shaping around it. Once I had all the wires done then I had to hold them together tightly while adding the 'step' the water runs over. Sounds simple, but those wires want to cross over each other and the loops kept getting caught too. I finally got it and then had to form the polymer clay 'ledge'. I took my time and it came out so well that I didn't even have to sand anything but the sharpish edges to round it softly after it was baked.

But then there was the fear that I had to pull the bottom ends of the wire too far apart so I could fit the beads in between them. Anything could happen at this stage...the wire could bend the wrong way and ruin the line, the polymer clay ledge could crack from the pressure...I think I held my breath the whole time I positioned them, just hoping I had done well in the planning stage for just how long the drop was going to be before the beads were dropped in. 

The anodized wire is not bad to work with really, I can loop it on the end silver loops without worrying about a knot. But it does want to kink as I try to lay the top wire over the silver wire while the beads are pushed so tightly together (a bottom wire is on the back, the beads are pushed through and then held in place by the top wire). 

I only have 3 more rows to go but it's taken me 3 hours so far just to get this far on stringing those 8 beads between the outside beads on the loop (and you can see I still have 5 to run the top wire through). I guess I should not be complaining about the tediousness of assembly when the design could have, just as easily, not worked at all. I guess I'm just trying to take a break and build up some more steam for the rest of it, fingers crossed that things continue to go 'smoothly' (it's all relative lol) 

Hopefully I'll have a finished piece to show at the end of the week!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Taking care of business

Being that it's the holidays it seems that everyone is having a hard time keeping up with all the things that need to be done. When you have a business that requires your own labor and you are the sole proprietor and worker it's even harder to buckle down and do what's needed.

So I have given myself rules to follow that ensure I don't get too far behind. The main rule is that, unless I'm flat on my back sick, then I have to work a minimal 5 day work week. The second rule is that my work is my first project of the day, no putting things off until later. 

My job involves a lot of creativity and the muse is not always there. I also have some physical limitations as to how long a period I can work for, so there are no hard and fast rules for how many hours I work. I may go for just 3-4 hours and sometimes I end up spending about 10 hours over the full day, it just depends on the project and the mood.

On days that I can't really do much physically I turn to the chore of coming up with concepts and designs. I say 'chore' because some days I'm just not in the zone. On those days I look for outside inspiration, I'll go through a 10 year collection of reference photos that I've gathered, I'll go to other art sites to see what wows me and why and sometimes I'll just google images. When I pull an image it's not something that I can or want to re-create, what I'm going for is a feeling or a certain rhythm or movement. 

Sometimes I get an instant idea of what I want and sometimes it just strikes a chord and I add it to my reference collection. But if I'm looking to do a new design then I'll just keep looking until I find 'the one'. Sometimes I have to let the idea percolate for awhile. I have certain items that I make that re-use the same design and I work on these in between new design concepts and when I weary of doing those I'll sit back down and start sketching out ideas. 

The sketches are horrid drawings, I'm just trying to figure out the mechanics of things, rarely does the finished piece look exactly like the drawing because I have to adjust for materials and aesthetics along the way. I also have to edit myself because I always think anything is possible and get a bit carried away with the idea and then have to tone it down so it's actually do-able. 

Luckily I have no deadlines but my own. Commission work was a bit different, there's always a deadline, so it keeps you on track, but, without approaching my work with some discipline, I don't think I'd get much accomplished. I'm not a slave driver though,  I set a goal that I feel I can accomplish each day and if I have other home chores to do that take a lot of energy I may just work on cleaning up my workspace and catching up on paperwork. 

So, today I accomplished what I set out to do, which was finish creating all the parts of my newest design. The plan for tomorrow is to start assembling, would love to finish it, but I still have a lot of finish details to work out, so it'll probably take a couple days minimum. Now, for the rest of the day! I have some laundry and housework to do, some Christmas cards to take care of and somewhere in this week it's time to decorate for the holidays too. 

Oh, yeah...there's gotta be some 'me' time so I don't totally burn out...the wind is howling, the skies are gray...me thinks a lovely hot soak in the tub will do the trick :)


Monday, December 1, 2008

Art vs. Flu - Round 6

I've been fighting some sort of virus the last six days, and although the flu got me with a TKO yesterday, I think I'm ready for a comeback in the sixth round. I'm still a little sluggish from that right hook, but at least my feet are back under me again :D

Really, though, it's not been a very productive week for me art-wise. I'm slowly pulling together the bones for a new concept design, though I still haven't worked out the last part. I did manage to put together our Thanksgiving dinner before I got too bad and got some Christmas packages wrapped and ready to mail out.

This year I'm hand crafting some origami boxes to put some of my jewelry in. Earrings can go in little boxes made from last year's Christmas cards and I used some art paper to make some larger boxes. And no matter how sick, I can manage to fold paper.

Yesterday I made a find in the craft section at the grocery store (it's real easy to find stuff when you stand in front of an aisle in a cotton wrapped fog for 15 minutes). It seems they make nice cardboard stock papers for scrap booking and they're already square cut. This one was called 'Once Upon A Time'. There are 24 different design pages, each design has 2 pages, just perfect for making a box with a top. 

My first two were made with pages that looked like actual pages taken from a book, the typeset is rather faded and old time-y looking and I love how they came out. The boxes are sturdy and reusable and so I've decided that I'll make my own boxes for packaging all my jewelry. 

Anyways, here's hoping Kid Sue can make a quick comeback and knock out some more art soon!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Art site of the Week...Anoush Waddington

I'm turning to a fashion jewelry designer for art site of the week this time...I just love when someone's work is cutting edge like this

I'm still fighting that virus, but made some headway on a new design for a concept piece, am hoping to put it all together this week and then I'll share the thought process when I post the final.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cardboard Harleys

I was checking out WebUrbanist yesterday and saw that the blog post was about art created from cardboard. I always expect to be wowed at this blog but my jaw dropped and hit the floor when I saw the life size Panhead and trike created by Chris Gilmour . Wow, how friggin cool is that?

Not much happening around here, I'm trying to shake the virus I caught just before Thanksgiving and working on a new design. The idea is there, but still working out all the details. I spent the day yesterday making origami boxes for some Christmas presents, if you use art paper it comes out pretty cool.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Wearable Art vessel and bracelet from latest Polymer fabric

I'm getting a little frustrated trying to photograph textured objects. In real life these two pieces look pretty clean and interesting with all the raised pattern, but for some reason the camera doesn't pick up that aspect and rather exaggerates the roughness and makes the work look rather sloppy. I think the macro feature acts as a magnifier and picks up every little nuance. 
I put extra time into making sure a piece has a professional finish and so it bothers me a bit.

I understand that handmade is not going to have the 'perfection' of machined edges, but that certainly is not what I'm aiming for. But I would like an accurate representation of the actual work in my photos, especially since in an online store those photos are the only information a buyer has. So if anyone has any tips on this issue, I'd love to hear them. I do diffuse my light to keep shadows to a minimum and I have photo programs to minutely adjust different aspects, but so far nothing seems to work.

Having said that, I do like this pattern. I think that unusual patterns are interesting and I love the tactile feel of the piece. If I could just get the photographs to relay that then I'd be a happy camper :)


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving post

I once spent Thanksgiving in a laundromat, washing one of two items I owned...I'd panhandled for the quarters and even though I hadn't eaten in a couple days I just had to get clean. I was young and it was the nineteen sixties and I was one of hundreds of thousands of other young people that went out into the world to explore without any means of supporting themselves. I can't say I regret it because I think life is for living, and at the time that was the only way I knew how to get out there and experience the world.

I also remember a Thanksgiving that found my husband and I traveling through Texas on our scoot...I can't remember the name of the little town right off the interstate that we pulled into but I do remember that they had just had a major industrial accident involving their oil wells and everyone there was grateful for surviving.

Then there was our first Thanksgiving on our own property in Alaska. It was like -20 below zero and dark as hades and the generator chugged away while I cooked the turkey in a combo microwave/convection oven and cooked everything else on top of the wood stove.

I remember celebrating Thanksgiving twice in British Columbia, just below Yukon Territories. We had a converted bus with a blown transmission and had to sit in a small town at the edge of the Rockies while we waited for it to be rebuilt. The Canadians have their own Thanksgiving in early October, they enjoy turkey too, but it sure was odd having fries and gravy with it. The people in this town were wonderful. The repair shop gave us a key to their shop (!) and let us stay parked inside the whole time. We met some fellow bikers and were invited to their home for Thanksgiving and there I was introduced to sage as a most wonderful complement to turkey.

Then there was the year that we lost our home to fire on Labor day weekend in Fairbanks Alaska. My husband's boss had given us a wannigan for a temporary shelter (that's a 3 sided porch that acts to keep the cold out when you go in and out of your home in frigid temps). Right after the fire my husband shot a moose...it was subsistence hunting for food and that moose is all we ate for the whole winter (he worked seasonal and all our supplies for the winter had gone up in smoke). So it was moose steaks that Thanksgiving but what I remember most is that we had put out snares for rabbit (moose was getting old quick). I went out to check and horror of horrors, a rabbit had been caught and was still alive. I called my husband out and we worked together to set it free...I mean really, it was Thanksgiving and he/she belonged home with their family. You know, we never set a snare again. 

I also remember a time long ago, in a different life when I was younger, of packing up a bunch of turkey sandwiches in waxed paper and driving down into the bowery section of town and finding homeless people to give them to. 

There's a lot more memories like that in this old brain but I guess the point is that Thanksgiving is not just about turkey. It's about being thankful for whatever you have when you have it and knowing that the threads of your life brought you to this Thanksgiving. It's also about being grateful in both times of plenty and times of want...sometimes just having a clean outfit is something to be grateful for. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family and to all of those I may not know but still wish the best for, may everyone find something to be thankful for. 


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wearable Art post in Born to Harley online magazine

Well, maybe it's a little hard to see, this is as big as I can get to upload here. That's my blog link in the bottom center row. The links change quickly, so I'm glad I got a screen shot.

Really, if they want to see Harley stuff then my husband's website is the place to check out, but I'll take all the publicity I can get for my artwork :) I think they either picked up on the Harley reference in my blog description or the 'chopper' part of my name, but as any artist knows, Italy is sort of a mecca for artists so maybe some Italian biker will think my stuff is cool.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wearable Art

When I was a portrait painter I was aware of how exclusive this art form of painting portraits was; usually commissioned by a family, of a family member and therefore not really available for viewing to others. When I turned to sculpting I wanted to create something that still retained that completely personal touch but was able to be appreciated by a much larger audience. Although I do create some stand alone sculptures, they still are something only appreciated in a home or office. So my solution was to incorporate sculpting into wearable art.

"Wearable art, also know as Artwear or "art to wear", refers to individually designed pieces of (usually) hand-made clothing or jewelry created as fine or expressive art. While the making of any article of clothing or other wearable object typically involves aesthetic considerations, the term wearable art implies that the work is intended to be accepted as a serious and unique artistic creation or statement. Pieces may be sold and/ or exhibited." ( wikipedia also see wikipedia art jewelry ).

I watch the Bravo series Project Runway and have noticed the use of wearable art not only in some of the fashion clothing designs, but also in the fashion accessories worn on the runway. I happen to love animals and thought how well some animal sculptural jewelry would work with some of the designs I saw. 

While researching some Wearable Art collections online I came across the astonishing fact that this is not a new concept (is anything?) and that many famous artists have created wearable art, usually in jewelry but sometimes collaborating with top designers like Chanel. I think that although I wasn't aware of this fact I still knew that this was a known concept, I mean, really, who can see the Art Deco period of design and not know that much of the work there was artist inspired?  And I guess we can take that one step further back and see that perhaps the first jewelry designs were created as art for adornment, and I know that during the Victorian period there were pendants with the eye of a secret person painted on lovely pendants. 

I was particularly excited to see that Salvador Dali had created Wearable Art jewelry! I don't know how this slipped under my radar, I've loved his paintings since I was a child. 

Anyways, this all opened my eyes to the exciting possibilities of (for me) a new art form. Once I had enough work to qualify as collections I joined 1000 Markets to open my own store and not only did I become part of a thriving artisan community, I also got to see some wonderfully talented artist design pieces of Wearable Art, not only in jewelry but exciting textile and woven creations too. 

This is such an exciting time for me...I have a forward path in my artwork that truly gets my creative juices running each morning and I am constantly inspired by the work of others. I truly look forward to the day that I go out to a mall or special event somewhere and have to stop strangers walking by to comment on the fabulous piece of art they are wearing...as someone who could spend forever in art galleries and museums, I just can't imagine the sensory pleasure of seeing a parade of art walk by in every day life...how cool would that be? 


Sunday, November 23, 2008

My muse fails me at Christmas time

I just don't get it. I truly love the Christmas season (heavy marketing aside) and I'm a sucker for all the cute little things people make for ornaments and jaw dropping beauty of some handmade card designs. But I can't make a Christmas decoration/card/motif that I like for the life of me.

It's not that I haven't attempted a few things...I painted a perfectly round tree with tons of ornaments once (yeah, I know, Christmas trees aren't round, but it was so laden with ornaments it FELT round to me and that's how I painted it). I think I did cards one year when we lived in New Mexico, something with peppers, not really very Christmas-y. 

And ok...I got some glass balls one year and decorated them with glass paint...whoop de do. I want to create something stunning...so full of Christmas spirit that it'll be a treasure to pull out year after year. But I'm starting to wonder if my muse has a part time job somewhere else this time of year, cuz she's sure AWOL around here.

No problem making gifts for my friends and family though...I pay attention through the year to see what their reactions are to different things I make, so they always get something I know they'll like. But I just feel inadequate when it comes to defining the things I feel during this time of year. 

I have a few artist friends that make the most wonderful cards...my very favorite does his in pointillism and I put the collection out each year as seasonal artwork. Funds are always tight here this time of year and it would be nice to create my own cards like that. Painting or drawing isn't the issue, it's coming up with an original Christmas theme. Perhaps my love for Christmas means I've seen it all already?

Well, it's not quite the season yet, and maybe this year I'll pull an elf out of the hat, but just in case you get yet another cute picture of my dog on our card this year, please just write it off to my obvious selective creativity syndrome :D

(....hmmm, elf in a hat? Nah....it's been done.)


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sculpture Art- combining Aesthetics and Function

I just finished this new baby elephant Sculpture Art Pendant called Baby Steps and I am so pleased with the results. I've always had a special affinity for elephants, one look into their eyes and I feel I've connected with an old soul. All babies are adorable, but a new elephant calf is especially so, with all their lumbering enthusiasm and clumsiness, and I wanted to capture that feeling in this piece. 

One of my concerns during the conception phase was how to not only make this have an appealing look but also how to make sure it was a solid sturdy piece suitable for wearing. My other Sculpture Art pendants all have a strong cross bar worked into the design. I make the bar a branch or leaf and it works with the design, but elephants aren't especially know for their branch clinging abilities :) 

I could have had the trunk wrapped around a branch, but I try to keep my pendants around a two inch diameter size, so that they are wearable without being too bulky or ostentatious, and that idea was just not going to work here. I obviously needed a solid footing for this piece. This also excluded me from using a circular wire frame as it would not give a wide enough base. 

I had a lot of ideas, but discarded them one by one, either for aesthetic or functional reasons. Sometimes the most simple and logical ideas elude me, I guess it's because an artist tends towards flights of fancy too easily. When I block on something like this I try using free form word connection to see if leads me anywhere. I just tried to think of any words that have to do with an elephant. When I got to tusks I almost kept going, it seems to be an overdone idea, plus I hate the idea that elephants are endangered due to tusk harvesting.

But then I realized that tusks are a physical part of the elephant, one of their means of survival. There's probably hundreds of ways to use tusks in a composition, but only when I started to think about the tight knit bond between clan members, did this design come to mind; a protective circle signifying group unity and protectiveness. Yes, I know...so simple that it should have been a no brainer, but what can I say?

So, once the idea is formed then I begin to think of functionality. It does no good to create a lovely sculpture and then have it fall out of its setting. The more points that connect to the setting, the better the solidity, but you still have to keep it aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I knew I could reinforce the meeting place where the tusks joined together with a good solid sterling silver wire wrap...this also gave it a loop for hanging. 

I sculpted the elephant to fit the piece, but did not affix it until the end. That way I get good 3 dimensional details from every angle, not something doable in a tight space. I constantly fit it to the frame though, so that I know I'll have some good solid connection points. I did the whole body with the upper leg bone (but not the lower leg) and then baked it. This allows me to work with attaching it since I can now put a good grip on the body without squishing it. 

The issue is that I cannot put too much pressure on the joins with the lower legs still being malleable, and although it may seem to bond, one good knock can dislodge it later on. No problem, the wonderful thing about polymer is that it can be baked repeatedly, and when joined correctly, forms a bond between the polymer particles that creates one solid piece. 

So I baked it in place and then once it cooled gave it the knock test. And just as I suspected, it dislodged. So I drilled a very small hole in the bottom of the connecting feet and in two spots on the tusk frame. I then put a drop of liquid sculpey in there, which when mixed with the clay acts the same as a slip does in pottery. I put a small glob of clay in between the two pieces and then pushed the sculpture firmly in place. I held it there while I packed the clay in and cleaned up the oozing around it. 

Once I felt I had an aesthetically pleasing finish, with a solid bonding, I then propped the piece on a wadded up piece of cotton material (at 275© it's perfectly safe) so that it would retain the position I put it in. When the clay bakes there is a moment when the piece softens before it hardens and this is when a piece can get warps in it, so the cloth pillow ensures it won't flatten or sag. 

This time (when I tested it after a good long cool down period) it didn't budge with the knock test and my eye could see a clean solid connection between the two. I always put a clear acrylic finish on my Sculpture Art Pendants, this also acts as a bonding agent and reinforces the overall piece. 

So now that I have all the work of aesthetics and function worked out I can finally sit back and enjoy the actual subject...what a cute little guy!


Friday, November 21, 2008

More clay fabric - extruder style

I usually am not very productive on Thursdays, as it seems I stay up too late to catch Top Chef :D So usually I use the time to work on things that don't take a lot of brain strain. I'm getting a little low on my last batch of clay fabric and I had recently come across this photo of a poisonous cone snail and fell in love with the pattern. I knew I could never reproduce it exactly since things stretch in the pasta machine, but I knew it would be a good extruder project and that I'd get an interesting pattern.
So first I extruded several long strips of pearl white and then covered them in a black sheet done at my thinnest setting. I carefully ran my finger down the gap between the triangle points and then used the brush of my handle to run over it once more. This is much easier than wrapping each little strip.
Then I mixed some gold and pearl white to make some gold extrusions, and some hot red and gold to make the other color.
Then I hand made varying sizes of the white and individually wrapped them in thin black. I had two short strips left over from the other colors, so wrapped them too. Then I popped everything in the freezer to harden up.
This is what everything looked like after I thinly sliced it...you can see I have a lot that I didn't even cut, so I'll be able to make a similar but different pattern later too.
I then rolled out a sheet of pearl white. I did it quite thinly, probably at about setting 5. Then I formed the pattern, piece by piece. I then took a rolling pin and did a couple light passes over it so that there wouldn't be too much smearing over the edges. This is how it looked before going through the pasta machine. 
And this is how it looked after running it through just the first and second thickness and then no more passes.

You can see it didn't smear or stretch too much. The reason is I didn't start with too thick a piece, if the base is thick and then you add another thick later you are going to get tons of smearing. If I could have only run it through once instead of twice it wouldn't have had any smearing at all, but there were too many spaces in the design and that won't wrap as well as if there's only a couple. 

Overall size is about 7 x 5 inches so I'll get a couple things off of this. Even though it wasn't a lot of brain strain and was fun to do, it still took about 4 hours to do this. But I just really love being able to get inspired by a design in nature and then create these one of a kind fabrics for myself.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Starry Night

This is a rather clean and simple design but I'm quite pleased with it because I got the exact effect I wanted for it. It started the night before last when I shut off the lights to head to bed and saw the partial moon sitting in the sky over town. It was one of those nights when the lights in town twinkle and sparkle like little stars and the moon had a lovely burnt sienna cast to it's outside edges. I thought "oh! The moon!" because it's like getting a beautiful little present every time I catch a glimpse from inside a cooped up house. 

So I went to bed thinking how I wanted to capture that. I intended to make a new bangle for my line the next day, so thought to incorporate that. I really wanted the star effect and I remember how the Milky Way used to almost overwhelm the dark of the night in New Mexico. I have some super fine glitter and thought that would work. I chose blue and gold and a little white to give it a hint of that milky effect. It does not show on a photo, but every time it moves, it twinkles...just enough glitter for the effect, too much and it would have been overwhelming, not enough and it would have looked like some just spilled on it. So that was easy. 

But if you've ever tried to create a moon that wasn't just plain white, you'll know that it's hard to catch that slight coloration and glow. So I started with some pearl white clay and then did a Skinner's blend with it and a smaller mixture of fire hot red, yellow and white pearl. 

A Skinner's blend is done by cutting the two colors into triangles and then laying them next to each other to make a square. Then you run that through a pasta machine about 20-25 times, refolding in the exact same direction each time. You end up with a perfectly gradated blend from the darker color to the lightest color. 

This is very thin when it's finished, so you accordion stack it and then cut slices from that to work with. The photo doesn't catch this part very well either...it's not the camera or my skills that are lacking, it's just a very subtle shift. It's a little better seen in the second photo. I'm never completely sure something is going to work until it's done...a lot of ideas just don't pan out, but I got lucky here.

The light hits the little pearl particles in the clay and gives it a glow effect. I wear all my bangles for at least one day to make sure that they are sturdy and will hold up to normal wear. What was so cool about this one is that when it would catch my eye (I was wearing long sleeves, so it would only show if I stretched my arm out) then I would actually think... "Oh! The moon!"

So even though it's a fairly simple and common shape for a moon representation, there's a lot more here than meets the eye. I had to call it A Starry Night, because it just really made me think of how Vincent must have wanted to capture that same feeling when he created his painting.  


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Latest wearable vessel

Well, you all know I've worked on my bottle design for awhile and I've finally got every portion rock solid, with nice finishes inside and out. I've dropped the larger embellishments to make the vessel smaller, because I didn't want to make it shorter or narrower or it will defeat the purpose of being able to use it to actually hold something. All in all I think it's a sleeker, cleaner design guaranteed to hold up to every day use if wanted.

I'm close to being out of this 'fabric' I made, it makes the pieces similar but each one ends up with a lot of variation in the pattern.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Artsite of the Week - 1000 Markets.com

If you read my blog yesterday you'll know that I recently opened up my own online store. This blog entry isn't to promote my own store, but the actual exciting new artisan venue that 1000 Markets has to offer. I think that a look at some of the exciting work there will not only make your wish list grow but offer up a lot of inspiration for your own work. So that is why I've decided to make this the Art Site of the Week. 

I found out about 1000 Markets through another artist blog. I really respect this artist (and am inspired by her silversmith work) so when she blogged about it I was naturally curious and set out to research. 

Information for artists:

All the information is on their site, I think it's an excellent and fair venue for artist/craftspeople and they solely use Amazon for their shopping cart, so purchases have great backing behind them. I think any artist would be happy with the terms, there are no fees until you sell your work. And I've found the support to be absolutely wonderful. It is a juried acceptance, so put your best work forward if you decide to join...this keeps the quality and appearance of the whole Market top drawer quality. 

Information for viewers:

Oh...go have a blast! The markets have unique offerings from fine art to culinary wonders with all sorts of creative stuff in between. I've spent hours looking through the shops when I should be working (it's like going to an upscale mall and none of the merchandise is mass produced!). I'm really impressed with the workmanship and have found some things that I've never seen the likes of before.  

Have fun window shopping for fun and inspiration!


Monday, November 17, 2008

New Nine Dragons Sculpture Art Store!

I spent all day re-shooting photographs and building collections so I could get my new online store open, so please visit me at Nine Dragons Sculpture Art and let me know what you think :)

My shop is part of a new artisan venue called   1000 Markets  that uses Amazon.com for it's shopping cart, so it comes with all of the Amazon guarantees. It's a juried acceptance and I was so pleased that once I was ready to go live I was accepted within the hour!

I also slipped in the time to make a new better designed bracelet...it looks the same as the old design but the ends of the wires are turned so that they're securely held.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

strange happenings in the night

Due to a very long and strange night I have no brain cells left to come up with a topic for today's post. At two in the morning the garage door suddenly opened...it's right under our bedroom, so sounded like a train had just exploded into the room. My dog, Boots, went crazy barking, my husband didn't even move (ears plugged by pillow) and I'm racing to the window to look out. We finally got downstairs to investigate (not as good at emergencies when eyes still glued shut) and a car drove by, went to the end of the street and picked up a passenger and then beat it out of there. Unsure if it was related or not, but this has never happened before, and so far, not since.
I didn't call the police until this morning...if it was  burglars they were long gone. No reports of similar incidents though. Could be a system malfunction, but if so it would not be traceable if it's intermittent. They said to call if it did happen again and they would check the neighborhood for suspicious activity. In this town, response is fairly quick, so it might actually do some good.

Anyways, very unsettling way to wake up and we didn't get back to sleep until 5am, and then up in four hours. I thought about skipping a post, but have promised myself that this would be a daily blog, so you're stuck with a dud today lol!

Artwise I'm re-doing some of my bangle bracelets, due to issues with the wire. The new design solves the problem. I'm also in the process of opening a regular online shop, still lots of set up and details to be worked out, so I'll update that information when it's up and running.

Hope you're having a more restful weekend!