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'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 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!

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 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.