Albuquerque Sky

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In the fall of 2010, I traveled to Albuquerque, NM to visit my son and his family a week after my precious grandson, Landon, was born. Landie had surgery when he was only one day old so it was a challenging time for our family but it was also a celebratory time as his healing was going very well. He came home from the NICU the day after I arrived there. I spent a wonderful week getting to know my courageous little grandson and also having loads of fun with my beautiful granddaughter, Ella, then 2 years old. Her exuberance and excitement infused my life with a breath of fresh air. It still does!

One evening, my son and I went out to pick up dinner at a traditional New Mexican style restaurant. I wish I could remember the name of the place because the food was excellent. Anyway, as we turned west onto a main thoroughfare, I looked up and I distinctly remember that my jaw literally fell open as I beheld the sunset. The whole immensity of the western sky was ablaze in brushstrokes of fiery orange, shimmering gold and twilight purple. We have great sunsets here in New England but with our hilly terrain and lots of trees, you see a much smaller portion of the sky. Here in the flat desert landscape of New Mexico, the sky was a huge expanse, saturated with color.

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That experience inspired me to create this necklace, which I have named “Albuquerque Sky”. I made the polymer clay focal with my favorite mokume gane layering, this particular one being Barbara McGuire’s Shimmering Gold technique using gold leaf, translucent clay and alcohol inks. Even the name is perfect. Yummy.

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Starting with the sunset image that had been emblazoned in my imagination on that fall day, I chose my seed bead color palette with the aid of Beverly Ash Gilbert’s “Eye for Color” color wheels. They’re a wonderful artist tool for creating “bead soup”, as Beverly calls it. I’ve created bead soup before and wrote about it here and here.

I was also inspired by her netting technique for beading necklaces. For my freeform beaded pieces, I usually use a one-bead peyote stitch and sometimes use multiple beads in one stitch or to create “bridges” within my work. Beverly’s technique uses 3 beads in one stitch, which I found worked up much faster. That said, this necklace took many hours to complete. I don’t mind. I love the process and find it meditative and soothing.

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I bead embroidered around the focal and then improvised a netted frame around it. Instead of fashioning a clasp from beads or wire as I usually do, I sewed on 2 dressmaker’s snaps, which are hidden when the necklace is closed. Another inspiration from Beverly, thank you!

This necklace is the manifestation of a treasured memory, one I will always hold dear in my heart. As always, thanks for stopping by my little corner and allowing me to share my work with you!

“Memory is the diary we all carry about with us.”  ~Oscar Wilde

Spacetime Necklace

A fusion of an earthy past with an abstract future in the spacetime continuum, this necklace is completely out of the box for me. None of the “out of the box “steps came easily, in fact, one could even use the word “struggle.” I had an image in my mind that I didn’t quite know how to go about manifesting, especially the way I wanted the lentil beads to hang with the stone jasper spears.

The polymer clay lentil beads were formed from a caned sheet I had made after a demo at a polymer clay guild meeting a couple of years ago. I used one of those beads in my “Spacetime” bracelet, posted about here.

Instead of drilling a hole through the beads themselves, I attached a piece of clay to the back and wired through that so the spears would appear a bit recessed from the lentils.

The hand-forged copper chain was inspired by 2 of my favorite wire artists, Cindy Wimmer and Kerry Bogert. The copper clasp came out of my clasp treasure box, created earlier this year in Deryn Mentock’s online class, “The Art of Closure.”

As always, thanks for visiting  and sharing in my creations!

Ripe Berries Necklace

As it happens with a lot of my creations, I start out by playing with a technique or a concept and then it evolves into something entirely different. Such it was with my Ripe Berries necklace.

About 4 years ago, I was experimenting with creating a beaded tube using herringbone stitch, one of my favorite beading stitches. You can read my thoughts about that stitch here. I beaded a 6-inch length of tube, played with some ideas, none of which inspired me and then that tube sat in my studio until a couple of months ago when I picked it up again. Does that ever happen with your creative process?

As I played around with the tube and some gemstone beads, I began to think of how much I enjoy taking a palette of beads and creating one of my fringy bracelets, which I have been making for over 10 years now. You can see one of my bracelets here. I start off by stringing a length of size 8 seed beads and then I add a beaded fringe in between each bead. It’s a wonderful way to bring together an eclectic mix of beads and you can make the fringe as thick or thin as you want.

Anyway, how about if I added fringe to the tube, with the gemstone beads I had gathered? And that’s just what I did! However, instead of adding longer fringe as I usually do, I just added one bead at a time for a tighter, encrusted look. If any of you have seen Laura McCabe’s beautiful beadwork, that was definitely an inspiration for me.

It took many hours to add all of the beads but I am quite happy with how it turned out! A strand of amethyst rondelles along with a sterling silver box clasp finishes the necklace.

This necklace is one featured on the homepage of my new portfolio website created in the website design class I’ve been taking with the fabulous Susan Lomuto. I invite you to take a look at Karen Park Studio and welcome any feedback.

As always, thanks so much for visiting and sharing in my artwork!

More Excavations

Back in the spring, I wrote about my creative adventures in digging into baked polymer clay with a carving tool. You can read that post here. At the time, I constructed a bracelet of my carved components. Recently, I created a necklace using a pendant from that series of components. I went on an archeological dig peeking into colored layers of polymer clay.

At first, I thought that a simple buna or leather cord necklace would let the pendant shine on its own. But then I did some more digging… Using some of the colors from the pendant, I rolled each color into a “snake” and covered it with a thin layer of black. I fashioned individual round beads and textured them with a nifty hardware tool I received in Julie Picarello’s workshop 2 years ago. Once the beads were baked, more digging commenced. The beads were strung with cobalt-colored seed beads and small copper jumprings I made with a knitting needle and a pair of sharp snips.

This necklace is all about texture and color, two of my very favorite art expressions.

The copper wire clasp is one I had forged in Deryn Mentock’s “The Art of Closure” class. It’s an online class I took last spring. I have one of those Chinese food containers that I cleaned out and filled with clasps I made in that class. As I finish a piece, I like to look in my clasp treasure box to see if one of them will look good with my creation. I thought this clasp worked out very nicely.

Thanks for visiting and allowing me to share my creation with you!

It’s all about sharing

I recently came across this on Donna Downey’s blog, Simply Me. It just resonated with me so deeply that I thought I would share it with you.

As I browsed through Donna’s blog, I thought about how this amazing mixed media artist personifies the word sharing. Her posts are filled with tutorials and videos sharing her love and passion for her art with others. Wow.

I started making jewelry back in the early 90s. At that time, there was no internet, no bookstores in my small town, no jewelry classes, no artists’ groups. As you can imagine, I knew what I wanted to do but I just didn’t know where to start. So, I traveled to a craft show about 45 minutes from my home, hoping to meet some artists, namely jewelry artists, who could give me some advice on where to start. I had an experience there that I will never forget for as long as I live.  I wandered around the show and finally found the table of someone who made jewelry. As I was admiring her work, I asked her how she got started and where she purchased her beads and components. She literally hissed at me, “I worked hard to come by that information and I”m certainly not giving away any of my secrets to you!” I was stunned and left the show in tears, thinking I had done something really wrong.

Over the years, I’ve thought about that experience and discovered what a great teaching it’s been to me. In the years to come, whenever I was asked that very same question at a show where I sold my jewelry, I freely shared all of my “secrets”, where I bought my beads and components, often writing down the information about the bead shows I attended every year. Yes, I did have to work hard to obtain all of that information but I wanted to share it with an open heart with as many beginning jewelry artists as I could.

It’s amazing how a negative experience like that will stay with you and shape your future. Have you ever had a similar experience?

Beading in Spacetime

I’m a big Star Trek fan. I mean big time. I watched the original series in the 60s with my parents. Then came the Next Generation in the 80s. Voyager in the 90s. Deep Space Nine in the 90s. Enterprise from 2001-2005. When the J.J. Abrams movie came out 3 years ago, I went on opening night. So, you get the picture.

Anyway, they’re always talking about the Spacetime Continuum. You can read the technical definition here but it basically refers to an event as it relates to a point in space and time, with the 3 dimensions of length, width and height (space) and the 1 dimension of time.

A moment in time and where it is located.

I’ve been reading some interesting theories about the concept of time, in particular, the work of John William Dunne, an Irish aeronautical engineer who conducted some experiments with his precognitive dreams and then wrote a book about it in 1927, An Experiment with Time. Dunne posits that past, present and future are all happening simultaneously. We can only “see” the present time because that is what our human consciousness is meant to see. However, when we are unconscious in a dreamstate, our human consciousness is unrestricted and we are able to traverse all of time.

For this Star Trek fan, this is all quite fascinating stuff.

As my mind has been mulling over these ideas about time and spacetime, my imagination has been inspired to manifest this bracelet which I have aptly named “Spacetime”. Created in the shape of a watch, the “face” shows a 3-color pattern representing past, present and future instead of a fixed moment in time as a “normal” watch does.

The “face” is a polymer clay lentil bead with a crushed ikat cane pattern. I believe that Donna Kato is the originator of this cane. I learned how to create this cane from a demo at one of my polymer clay guild meetings. If you’re interested in seeing how it’s created, I found this tutorial by Mia Rox.

I beaded a bezel around the lentil bead using size 11 and 15 seed beads. The “strap” is brick stitch. I puzzled over what to do for the clasp for several weeks. One evening I happened to pick up my copy of Kate McKinnon’s “The Jewelry Architect” and there it was. Kate calls it the “Ram’s Horn Clasp”. It is positively brilliant! Thank you for your inspiration, Kate. I tweaked mine a bit from the original design. The spiral is a universal symbol found in nature and art and I have always been fascinated with its non-linear shape. Perhaps it also speaks of the abstractness of time?

So here I am, still beading and contemplating the nature of the universe…

As always, thanks for visiting!

More Ribbon Bracelets

I just love beading these bracelets. They’re a great way to play with color palettes inspired by the different buttons I use for the clasps. I first wrote about my love affair with these herringbone stitch bracelets here.

These wonderful porcelain buttons were created by Maryann Carroll of Artisan Beads Plus. The delicate, muted colors remind me of the awakening spring world outside.

Here’s another view. Maryann describes her bead/component process as follows:

– Individually hand-crafted
– Dried and then smoothed with a sponge
– Bisque fired to about 1850 degrees F (1000 C)
– Glazed with about 3 coats of glaze
– Fired again to about to 2200 degrees F (1240 C)

Amazing, beautiful work.

This color palette reminds me of sea and sand. I just love the texture on these buttons.

Herringbone stitch gets its name from the way the beads sit next to each other in a v-shaped pattern. The beads in my bracelets are woven in 2 at a time except for the single row of larger beads running down the middle of the bracelet. This stitch creates a bead fabric that feels silky and sinuous against the skin. Almost like a second skin. The button and loop clasp make for a super easy on and off that my “getting older” fingers are grateful for.

For this bracelet, I chose a vibrant color palette to match this beautiful vintage style button I purchased years ago at a Whole Bead show in Providence, RI.

For the center row of larger beads, I chose triangle shaped seed beads that interlock together perfectly. The majority of beads in these bracelets are a size 11.

Interestingly enough, I shared my ribbon bracelets last year right before a spring trip out to Michigan and here I am leaving tomorrow for a trip out there. I’ll be sure to visit my favorite bead store in Frankenmuth, Bead Haven, as well as a stop by Munro Crafts in Berkley. Stay tuned for treasure sharing!

As always, thanks for stopping by and have a most wonderful week.