The Birth of a Studio, Part 1

Where shall I begin?

I started bringing my art supplies over to my new home a couple of weeks ago. I was very lucky that I had time to do that instead of having to get it accomplished all in one weekend. However, now that I look back, it might have been a good idea to set up the structure – shelves, tables, portable storage – first before I dumped everything in the room. Now it looks like this.

The room is actually a downstairs family room in a split level house. There’s even a brick fireplace on the left hand wall behind where I was standing when I took the photo. I can have some nice cozy fires in the wintertime while I work. A couple of months ago this room was walled with dark wood paneling. I think the “slipper shell” color we painted it really brightens the room. My studio space is approximately 11′ x 12′. I’d like to have 3 work areas for beading, polymer clay and metalwork. This weekend I’m going to take a ride over to BJs to check out their portable tables. I’d like to purchase two 6 foot tables, one for beadwork and one for polymer clay. I’d love to find a jeweler’s bench for the metalworking area. A good friend suggested that I make paper cutouts of the components for my studio area and play around with placement. I love that idea and will probably play around with that this week before I get my tables. So, step one is to make paper cutouts to determine how the structure of my studio area will be setup.

Libby Mills has been interviewing artists and their studios in her blog posts, Studio Snapshot. You can read the latest one here. Knowing that I was setting up a new studio area, I’ve been avidly reading every interview. Two important considerations that have been consistent in each interview is lighting and the ability to face outside (if you can) while working. As you can see from my photos, I do have a sliding glass door leading out into the backyard. There’s a wooden deck over it so that does limit the light. Right now I just have one portable OTT lite so I’ll have to invest in more lighting.

Does anyone know where I can purchase a wooden jeweler’s bench?

Saturday Morning Tea on Sunday

I’m all moved into my new home here on Ramble Road. It’s a wonderfully quiet place, surrounded by woods in the back. The physical move was so amazingly easy, taking only about 3 hours. I’m very blessed to have 2 big strong sons who helped their old Ma out on moving day. What a wonder to watch them take over and methodically dismantle my apartment and put it back together at another place. We are definitely even now for all of those early morning hockey practices!

This morning I am sipping a flavored Sweet Almond green tea. The dry leaf is a blend of green tea, slivered almonds, cinnamon bark and lime leaf.

The liquor has a very sweet “almondy” aroma and the taste is the same only not as sweet. Usually, flavored and scented teas smell stronger than they actually taste which is fine by me because I don’t enjoy a strong sweetness. I like to be able to taste the tea notes underneath the added flavor.

This tea would go well with an almond flavored cookie or, my absolute favorite candy, chocolate covered marzipan. Marzipan is a delicious confection of ground almonds and sugar. When my brother lived in Germany about 10 years ago, I visited and found it right in the candy aisle at their local grocers. I was in heaven and brought home a whole stash of it.

Now that I am all moved in, it’s time to start putting together my studio. Right now the floor is covered with all of my art supplies. Stay tuned for the birth of my studio!

Saturday Morning Tea and moving

How do some people move all in one weekend? I so envy them. I’ve been packing and moving stuff over to my new home for weeks now and I still feel like I have much more to do. The physical act of moving doesn’t take too long but it is the sifting through of all of the things you have accumulated over the years that is such a major part of the moving process. I’ve learned so much about myself during this process – what I choose to hold onto and what I choose to let go of. I have been laughing one moment and crying the next as I find old photos and mementos of past experiences. My children are all grown now but I still have their baby teeth, shoes and locks of hair. These are little parts of them that are sacred and precious to me. They will travel with me wherever I go. Then there are the gazillion bottles of nail polish that have been sitting in my medicine cabinet forever. Why have I kept all of this stuff??? I ask myself over and over again because with each object I throw away or donate, I feel so much lighter. At this point in my process, I am vowing to go through a cleaning and purging process every spring. The season of rebirth is a perfect time to do this.

Ok, on to my cup of tea! A beautiful green Darjeeling from the Makaibari estate, the leaves are long and twisted.

I steeped them for 3 minutes with 180 degree F water and they opened up to reveal some whole intact leaf. You can even see the serrations on the edge of the leaves.

The light amber colored liquor has a sweet slightly vegetal fragrance and a fresh pungent flavor that reminds you that it is indeed a Darjeeling. Another good green tea to enjoy if you don’t like an overly vegetal quality to your green tea. I have observed that it is this “green” taste that is the most challenging for traditional black tea drinkers to get past when they decide to try green tea for the first time.

With my full immersion in the moving process, I have had to set aside my beaded journal pages and my mixed media portrait. I am looking forward to the time when I will be able to create art pieces once again. For now, my focus is on creating a beautiful space for myself in my new home.

Saturday Morning Tea

As I gaze out my window on this cool rainy spring day, I see a mist has settled gently along the treetops. This morning I am getting ready to go visit Greyhound Rescue in Mendon, MA. They’re having their annual Spring Yard Sale soon and I have plenty to donate from my cleaning and purging. As I get ready, I’m sipping a cup of Formosa Fancy Oolong Imperial. It is an Oolong with a higher level of oxidation which means the leaves were allowed to turn darker. The photo above is a beautiful example of a “fine plucking” (new leaves). Its shape reminds me of a Bird of Paradise flower.

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in water between 180-190 degrees F. The liquor is a deep amber color with a sweet aroma. The flavor is nutty and peachy and lingers in my mouth.

Time to move more stuff!

Hello Spring

Spring is blooming in the garden of my new home.  This witch hazel tree is full of these flopsy strands. Traditionally, the extract of its bark and leaves are used medicinally.

These rock iris are brilliant against the drab colors of the leaf mulch. I love their yellow tongues sticking out. It’s like they’re blowing a raspberry at the departing winter or even at us for believing that they’d never return.

The lone daffodil. With all of the buds around, it will soon have company.

Here comes the hyacinth. I am looking forward to their sweet fragrance.

Welcome back, plant beings!

You Make My Day

Within the last month, I was honored to be mentioned on 2 of my favorite blogs, Simple Studio Journal and Polka Dot Creations.  So, inspired by these 2 wonderful ladies, I present to you my “You Make My Day” list.

Lynn at Simple Studio Journal writes about so many things that interest me: tea, journal writing, walking in nature, experimenting and playing with various art medium.  We have so much in common that I feel like I’m having a chat with a long-time friend whenever I visit her blog. Lately, she has been experimenting with wire wrapping and creating the most gorgeous pendants.

On her blog, Lisa Clarke at Polka Dot Creations shares her life as a businesswoman, artist and mother of 2 small boys. The joys, the challenges, the delicious recipes, the beautiful art are all a delight to see and read about.  I especially enjoy Lisa’s color challenges and seeing how she creates a color palette in polymer clay from inspiring photos.  I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa at the Synergy conference.

One of my fellow Bead Journal Project members, Morwyn over at AnotherCountry Beadworks, creates the most fabulous beaded pieces and shares her creative process, most recently with a video. Her writing about the symbolism in her journal pages resonates deeply with me.

Susan Lomuto’s Polymer Clay Notes has been inspiring me (and many others!) ever since I found her blog a little over a year ago.  She devotes an amazing amount of time and energy in sharing and writing about the most awe-inspiring artists and photos. Most recently, she has been sharing her own beautiful creations.  I hope she continues to do that!  I had the pleasure of meeting Susan when I took Dayle Doroshow’s workshop last April and, most recently, at the Synergy conference.

I recently took a class at Joggles called Mixed Media portraits by Alma Stoller. A thoughtful and inspiring teacher, she encourages her students to use materials found at home to create the most beautiful mixed media creations. A visit to her blog is a colorful delight!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have deeply loved color so when I discovered polymer clay and the ability to mix colors with it, I had such an epiphany. One of my color heroes is Lindly Haunani who I had the pleasure to meet and take a class with at Synergy. Lindly has such a deep connection with color and shares her delight with the subject on her blog. I hope to take a color workshop with Lindly someday.

My webmaster, Dave at Clear Path Studios, has been such an inspiration to me in so many ways. In creating a website for me, he carefully explored with me what I wanted to say and do with my site. He blends the artistic with the technical in a wonderfully magical way.

Judy Dunn at Artrepreneur generously shares her experiences and knowledge as a working polymer clay artist. Filled with interesting stories and tips, Judy’s posts resonate with her enthusiasm and wisdom. Her Flickr photo albums are filled with her gorgeous polymer clay artwork.  Most recently, she has created a video about how to make a polymer clay origami crane, one of her signature pieces.  I had the pleasure of having a nice chat with Judy over lunch at the Synergy conference.

One of my fellow RIPCG members, Dora, creates the most amazingly intricate and beautiful polymer clay canework.  She recently posted some of her artwork in her Flickr album.

Last but certainly not least, my Rhode Island Polymer Clay Guild, has been an integral part of my life for the last  6 1/2 years. We get together on the 4th Saturday of the month and share stories, laughs, good food and, oh yes, making stuff with polymer clay. They are like my family and I’m so blessed to have them all in my life.

Thanks to all of you for your inspiration!