My Towers and Turrets pendant necklace

Last August I signed up for an online class called “Of Towers and Turrets”, a wonderful melding of mixed media collage with metalwork and resin, taught by Sharon Tomlinson and Deryn Mentock. I wrote about the first step here, creating my collage.

Once my collage was created, I started work on my metal Towers pendant, which taught me about cutting metal shapes, soldering filigree and bezel wire as well as riveting, all new techniques that I was quite excited to add to my jewelry making repertoire.

Once the pendant was crafted, I chose a part of my collage to display. As this was the first face I’ve ever painted, the choice was easy! Once she was cut out and gently placed in my bezel, I carefully covered her with Ice resin, a product I’ve never used before and absolutely love now. It’s tricky mixing it up, adding just the right amount to the bezel and then getting rid of all of the tiny bubbles but the results are so worth it. A desk lamp placed right over my pendant got rid of all of the bubbles very nicely. The heat of the light bulb draws up the bubbles so they can pop.

Once the pendant was complete, I decided to create a necklace using deep purples, reds and blues to bring out the colors in my pendant image. My goal was to create a richly colored necklace full of facets and sparkle.

A queenly necklace.

I chose amethyst, iolite, garnet, pearl, crystal, moonstone and 2 raku beads. I wire wrapped each bead, adding them on one at a time. Creating a necklace in this fashion is very tedious and time consuming but gave me just the look I wanted.

The S-clasp was crafted from a thicker wire and then wrapped with a thinner wire coil and an iolite bead.

It took me 5 months to complete this process but it was an amazing journey that taught me so much about myself.

“The eyes of my eyes are opened.” ~e.e. cummings

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Playing with Towers and Turrets

A few weeks ago, I started an exciting online class that combines mixed media collage with metalwork and resin. Called Of Towers and Turrets, it’s taught by the artistic dynamic duo of Sharon Tomlinson and Deryn Mentock.

In this first step, I’ve created a painted collage with stamps, words, images, gel pens and, of course, paint. I was a bit nervous to paint a face as I’ve never done that before but once I got started, I absolutely loved it!!! I used the Golden brand of paints, both the heavy body and the liquid acrylic. Love, love, loooove these yummy paints! And my 30% off A.C. Moore coupon helped fuel this new addiction.

Stay tuned for some unique jewelry creations like nothing I’ve ever created before…

K is for Kindness

I’ve received the most wonderful gift from my dear friend, Judy, an artist who creates amazing mixed media art including personalized wooden letters. You can read more about her “love letters” here.

My “K” now hangs above the door to my studio, watching over me as I work. I am so blessed to have my art friends who constantly enrich my life with their inspiration and support.

Speaking of artists and inspiration, I’ve recently joined the 2010 Creative Everyday Challenge, a group of artists committed to doing something creative everyday whether that is cooking, painting, knitting, composing a song. It’s a very low pressure commitment with no performance deadlines, however, there are suggested monthly themes to get the creative juices flowing. If you’d like to find out more information about this challenge, just click on the button in my sidebar.

This weekend is going to be a very creative one. I’m taking a workshop at the Lexington Arts and Crafts Center in Lexington, MA. The workshop is on polymer clay mokume gane, a technique I’ve long been enamored of, given by Julie Picarello. I’m so excited!

As I have to leave for the workshop early in the morning, my Saturday Morning Tea post will be postponed until next Saturday. I’m looking forward to sharing a cup of tea with you then and also sharing my adventures in polymer clay!

“We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.”

~Maya Angelou


A Color Workshop

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My art voice has been very quiet here lately. As I have become increasingly focused on fixing up my new home and moving in, I know that I have been neglecting the playful, art side of myself in a big way. Now, feeling totally overwhelmed, I’m quickly learning how very important it is for me to set time aside and regularly nurture that side of myself to maintain balance in my life. I think that when that feeling of overwhelm creeps into our lives, it is because something important is being neglected. All that said, I embraced my art self once again when I attended Lindly Haunani’s color workshop called Dancing with the Rainbow.

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With her soft voice and gentle manner, Lindly patiently brought us to a greater understanding of the world of color and, most appealingly to my inner “Color Kitten” (my favorite childhood book by Margaret Wise Brown), how to mix colors (oh joy!) to achieve a color palette that is a true expression of your artistic voice.

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Our homework before the workshop was to gather pure color images clipped from magazines. As described on pages 44-47 in Lindly’s book (written with Maggie Maggio), Polymer Clay Color Inspirations, our first task was to sort these images into subsets of color families, those colors that “went together”. We then chose the subset that resonated most strongly with our inner spirit. As we went through this process, Lindly spoke with each participant one by one and carefully observed their body language and listened to their voice very closely for clues to individual palette preferences.

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Once we chose our subset, we created a collage with the images. Out came the scissors and glue sticks and I felt like a little kid again, joyfully arranging my images onto a sheet of Bristol board.

Fall was definitely in the air that day as quite a number of us chose a similar autumn color palette.

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Once our collages were complete, we brought them together and carefully studied each one, choosing the polymer clay primary colors that best represented our collage colors. Zinc or cadmium yellow? Fuschia or cadmium red? Ultramarine or cobalt blue?  We used the Premo brand of clay but you can use any brand as long as you have a “cool” and “warm” version of each primary.

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One of the most amazing teachings of this workshop was about “mud”, the color you get when you mix all 3 primaries together in equal proportions. We all think of mud as being, well, mud brown. Well, the “mud” mixed from my set of primaries was actually dark green. And the neatest part was when we took small pieces of mud and mixed them into our primary and secondary colors to achieve the most gorgeous earthy shades. Wow!

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With a range of colors mixed from our primaries, we then began to cover a wood framed mirror that Lindly had brought for each person. Just when I got into the groove of covering mine, it was time to go home! Isn’t that always the way of it?

Here are some closeups of the beautiful collages and frames started.

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I passionately encourage you to run, not walk, to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of Lindly’s book. If you have the wonderful opportunity to take one of her workshops, even better. It will change the way you view color forever. It has with me and I am looking forward to studying again with this marvelously talented artist.

Lindly, you are truly my color hero and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your inspiration.

Saturday Morning Tea

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The bronzed leaves are rattling across my backyard deck like dried bones as they welcome this last day of October, All Hallowed Eve. Pouring rain and wind this past week have swept clean most of the leaves from their trees to create an autumn carpet laid across the lawns and streets. As I drove home last night, glowing jack-o-lanterns brought memories of carving pumpkins, and I inhaled the woodsy smell of fallen leaves as I got out of my car and made my way up the path home. I love this autumn time of year, perfect for cozying up with a hot cup of tea.

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As promised last week, this morning’s tea is very special. Called Zhang Ping Shui Hsian (or Xian), its leaves are finely plucked, hand processed and compressed into small bricks. Each “brick” is then exquisitely packaged into a shiny red, black and gold vacuum sealed packet for freshness.

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This Chinese Oolong is grown in Fujian province and lightly oxidized to create a greener Oolong tea, similar to a Jade or Tung Ting. I gently broke some leaves off of the brick for steeping.

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Because the leaves are not as oxidized as a darker Oolong or a black tea, I decided to steep at a green tea temperature and time, 180 degrees F for 3 minutes.

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As the leaves steeped in my glass teapot, they swirled and floated downward, reminding me of the dance of the leaves outside.

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It might be fall outside but it was like a springtime garden in my kitchen. A sweet lilac fragrance drifted up from my teapot as I removed the infuser basket. Mmmmm…

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The tea liquor is a pale gold brown with very distinctive floral aroma and flavor notes. A sweetness fills my mouth and gently lingers after each sip.

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I am sipping my tea from a gorgeous coppery red teabowl, generously lent to me by a colleague/friend at work. Thanks Rebecca. She purchased it at Target. I’ll have to go check out the teaware at Tar-zjay.

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The bronze leaves compliment the darker glazing on the bowl. After the Color Workshop I attended last weekend, I notice color everywhere! And, after looking through my tea leaf pictures, I’m not surprised that I chose green and orange as the color palette for my collage in the workshop. My life is steeped in tea leaves…

Happy Halloween, everyone!

“Never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker.”

~Linus from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Dancing with the Rainbow

Perhaps the rainbow that guided us out of Albuquerque and along the road to Taos was more than just a good omen for our stay there. I believe my future was being revealed to me.

I just found out recently that one of my color heroes, Lindly Haunani, will be giving a workshop in CT, facilitated by the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild.

It’s called…………….. “Dancing with the Rainbow”.

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Lindly has recently co-authored a book with Maggie Maggio, another one of my color heroes. Dripping with page upon page of color eye candy, it is also filled with color exercises designed to help you find your own color voice. I devoured its pages as I winged my way to New Mexico, determined to start the exercises upon my return. Now I find myself looking forward to studying with the master herself and I will savor every moment.

From the Studio

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A brand new knitting project. I love to pick out my yarns.

With the Jane Thornley free-form “Come Spring” vest pattern in hand, I’ve chosen a similar color palette as the pattern photo because I love the vibrant greens and browns of this lovely season. One of my art friends directed me to a great website for purchasing good quality yarn at affordable prices. I purchased all of my yarn (pictured above) from them except for a ribbon yarn, called “Copper Penny”, I discovered while browsing at Joann Fabric’s one day for art supplies.

So far, I’m liking the contrast between the stripes of rich color.

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Last week I picked up a beading book at the library. As I have been getting into a more personally expressive and organic, free-form flow with my beadwork, I have lost interest in books and magazines devoted to beadwork patterns and other artists’ designs. However, the title of this book, “Shaped Beadwork: Dimensional Jewelry with Peyote Stitch”, caught my eye and my interest.

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In the book, Diane teaches how to make geometrical shapes in peyote stitch, starting with flat one-dimensional shapes and then building upon those to create 2 and 3-dimensional sculptural shapes. So, I started at the beginning of the book and made a triangle. Geez, that was fun. How about if I make another one? Cool! Then I sewed them together and created a little triangular pillow. This little shape is fascinating me. I find myself picking it up and turning it over gently in my hand every time I walk by my beading tray.

Now, what shall I do with this little shape? Make another pillow for a pair of earrings?  Use it as a focal shape and free-form around it? Use it as a component in a mixed media necklace? The infinite possibilities bloom in my imagination with wild abandon like the riot of pink peonies in my garden. Hehe Interestingly, my thoughts also lead me back to memories of how much I enjoyed geometry class and its spatial language.

All this from a little triangle pouch.

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The start of another journal page. I had vaguely remembered someone mentioning or reading somewhere that you could paint on used dryer sheets. This so appealed to the recycling devotee in me that I collected some sheets after a weekend of laundry chores. After dripping, brushing, and wetting paint across its surface, I let my sheet dry and then ripped a piece off to create a waterfall shape on my bright yellow page. I then glued some dried tulip petals at its base and drew some water swirls around the petals with a white gel pen.

This page is far from finished but it has a good start. As I glued and painted my “waterfall”, I thought of water and its symbolism to feelings. I thought of how my page could represent my getting in touch with feelings that are frightening to me and how I sometimes relegate those frightening feelings to a very deep place inside of myself. Can I ride my tumbling waterfall into the depths of myself and explore some of those feelings? I wrote:

I tumble down the waterfall inside of myself

to get in touch with my feelings.