Monday, May 31, 2010

gone fishing


We were Up North this holiday weekend, enjoying some unseasonable warm temperatures. Leisure weekends at the Lake, how do I love thee, let me count the ways
{ a little girl, rapidly gaining independence, knee deep in the water. the edge of her favorite sundress saturated. as she practices casting and reels in another plastic butterfly
{ generational bonding and idle prattle
{ blue skies with creative clouds - fighting dragons, begging dogs and silly penguins
{ a drought - creating a beach where there used to be a shoreline
{ dragonflies dive bombing without abandon - eractically changing directions and erotically joining mid-flight
{ a crane gracing the water in clear view so we can witness it's huge prehistoric beauty
{ long shadows and rose highlights on the water just as the spark is started in the fire
{ bouquet of water lillies picked with the instructions that I should wear it in my hair
{ visiting - coffee with one of my favorite people in the Northwoods - customer, friend, confidant ~thank you
{ fruitful trip to the local bead store - a buying precursor to my Bead and Button adventure - just over a week away
{ a bit of creating, but mostly recharging and taking it all in
ahh... xoxo

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

wise eyes charm - the process

LOOK! THEY'RE HERE! I love to receive surprises in the mail, so when my self-address package arrived I wasn't even in the house before I opened it.
Here are my characters, right before I sent them out.
I love combining mixed-media with my Precious Metal Clay especially with a swap, it's a bit like sending a little extra piece of me.  I shared some of my inspiration a previous post and I had quite a few ideas, but I guess I'll just have to save them for the next swap. But all my ramblings seemed to kinda "poof" come together one day. And like most of my ideas, they always seem a bit clearer on paper. Even with a few set backs, I'm so happyto have a wonderful team to challenge me and make me see my ideas through.
So, if you are interested here is my process:
I found this hinge at a scrapbooking convention. I really liked the femine shape. I used it as a template for my original piece. I started with rolling out a chunk of PMC Standard 6 cards thick. Standard shrinks 30%, so that would help me achieve the final "charm" size. I put the hinge on the rolled out clay and with a needle tool started to cut around the shape. I wanted it a bit shorter, so I did the top first than moved the hinge slightly to achieve the squatter appearance. To create the bezel, I used coiled clay around the perimeter. So in the pic above there is the original hinge, the original fired shape and then I made a mold of the original. PMC3 was used for the actual charms which shrinks about 10-12%. The final charm is shown in the foreground (which I think makes it look a bit bigger than it is? But you get the idea.)

After pressing the clay into the mold, I gently took it out, pinched it back into shape, let it dry and added any syringe to the bezel to make the inside a bit more deep. Honestly this mold process was not as smooth as I hoped, I think the bezel was just to shallow. But hey, there was a deadline to meet! Here are a few all sanded and ready for the kiln.
I patinaed the fired pieces to give it a bit more definition. But realized early on, that buffing 24 charms in the time allowed was just not possible. Once again a bit of stress comes over me. But I instead just fire the patinaed pieces in my kiln again and it takes of most the black. I proceed to tumble while getting the ready for the "fun part" - Mixed media.
Using Golden's fluid acrylics: Naples Yellow, Raw Umber and Titanium Buff I start the backgrounds and let dry. Then, I got ready for the drawings.

I first set up a sheet with guides, so my illustrations weren't too big for the charm. I tested different pens - pitt pens, rapidiograph, extra fine sharpie, really sharp pencil, even thought my hand carved birdie stamp might work, but no. Then I took out my favorite drawing pen - an extra fine ball point - and that worked like, well, a charm.
Placing a tissue over the guides, I started to doodle. Little scapes, cute roses, sun, pebbles, then eyes, tons of eyes. The children's book, Ping came into my head. Ping, the little lost duck was looking for his home "Their home was a boat with two wise eyes on the Ynagtze River..." It really wasn't until I did all this random doodling that I knew what would actually go into my fine silver frames. Doodling in the sunshine, just letting my head wander and all these little characters started to appear.
Since the tissue paper would turn clear once resin is applied, I painted the back of the eyes white, so they would pop. Then added color to each eye from the front with watercolor and a bit of acrylic. (I tried color pencil, but it kept ripping the tissue.)
I cut or in some cases tore out the eyes and placed them in their frames. I started to like the look, but they didn't have as much impact as I thought they would. Then another ah ha moment - thinking back to figure drawing. They needed a highlight. That twinkle of white made all the difference I think.

Placing the charms on plastic material (in this case a plastic bag) would help if any of the Ice Resin seeped out. And before pouring the resin, I used a small cotton swab saturated in resin to gently burnish down the tissue, then using a toothpick, I dropped resin in the bezels and guided the fluid into each corner. They took about 3 days to fully cure, then I attached the jump rings.
Here are a few of my favorite characters. I think it's interesting how much unique expression is in each one. Sometimes I ask myself, why do I force myself to do these collaborative projects? The stress, the deadlines? It's to help work out my ideas, to focus, to actually FINISH and share my ideas with wonderfully talented artists. I truly hope their wise eye creative charm always helps them find their way home to where they are the most creative.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

random creating

I've been a bit blog quiet. But here are a few fun things keeping me busy.

Girl's craft Night. A few beers, great company, hot glue gun and a fun project. Of course I made a few modifications, including adding some color with an ink pad but you can find the wreath instructions here.




Finished my project started at the February Collage meeting. A magnetic board for my Mom for Mother's Day, complete with little magnet pictures of her grandchildren.Presented a fun mixed-media project for the Art For All group. Which was inspired by a booklet I made for my boss for her birthday from the original pieces I created for the 2010 calendar we sent out during the holidays.
A pendant for my sister, heartful wings, a bit similar to this pendant. Created in memory of loved ones that lost their struggle with cancer.

landscaping and gardening.
And here is a sneak peek of the charms I created for the EMC Team Charm swap. I can't wait to see what everyone else came up with. Hopefully, I receive the 22 original charms this week. I'll post the process of these charms soon.
Wishing you a productive and creative week.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

weed or not a weed ~ that is the question

Springtime... ahhhhh... pips popping... tulips bursting... brushes with colors of fancy. Love the freshness of Spring!
But with all the newness comes a resergence of WEEDS! And I find myself ever year with the same dilemna "weed or not a weed?" "Did I plant this?"  If you saw my haphazard gardens you would understand why. Everything is a bit messy, no symmetry, random flower here and there - a little crocus that got accidentally buried by a rock. And I like it that way! I like the surprise of a single Iceland Poppy hidden behind the forsynthia bush in a somewhat neglected garden in back. (I wish my daughter hadn't picked it, but that's another story ;)
But back to the weeds. I know the true weeds - sticker bushes with thistles and tap roots, crab grass, clover. Hey, I've even neglected them so long they were beautiful. But a few years ago in a desperte search for quick color in a garden I dug out late in the season. I scattered wild flower seeds. A bunch of them. And since then, I question everything I pull out in that area. But I left a few this year, that looked promising, wondering weed? not weed? I'll let them grow, possibly flower, then I'll decide.
Last year I had a few such suspects, they grew fearlessly and their flowers were lovely - bunches of muted purple flowers on a tall sturdy stalk. I asked my neighbor if she knew what they were, being brought up in Nebraska she identified them right away. "yeah, that's milkweed" - after she said it I kinda remembered milkweed but I said "really? but it's so pretty" - she said, I guess? but if you don't want the whole garden to be overtaken next year, pull it. I pulled them thinking "wow, how was I fooled, how did I let them get so tall?"
So while I was weeding (or selectively non-weeding) this year, I thought how weeding relates to design and art. And I guess I have this dilema in the studio and office sometimes too. I know the true big ugly ideas(weeds) that pop up in my head, but have to let them out - so they don't get too far and squelch a good idea that might reveal itself. It's the one's that have potential, that are a bit less nasty, that I seem to have a hard time weeding. It's like my garden, if I don't give it a chance, I will never know. But on the other hand, they soak up my time and energy, just to be pulled? you see, dilema. So I have a few weeds in my garden right now. I actually thinned and spaced them out! So they'll grow better. And I'll nuture them, let them grow - but I'll have to know when to pull them when there true nature is revealed. I have to be more diligent on my pulling. It's with this editing that encapsulates the art.
I have learned that if you don't let the ugly out, you won't know the beautiful.
And sometimes it's from the most unsuspecting seedling, that become the brightest petals. But not everything is a flower. And sometimes, even if it is not a weed, if you didn't intentionally plant it - it's most likely a weed.
Happy Spring, happy planting (generating), sowing (creating) and pulling (editing).