Thursday, August 22, 2013

Adventures in Jewelry Making


I've been having a blast in my studio creating designs for my own jewelry, primarily using upcycled, reclaimed, and recycled stuff.


Cool stuff

I believe I now have enough older Canadian copper pennies to last my lifetime or until my arm gives out from hammering them flat on the bench block.  It takes about 50 blows with a 24 oz hammer to flatten each penny.  Oh, to be ambidextrous!  Friends and family know what kinds of treasure I covet so they watch for cool stuff wherever they go - old jewelry, beads, electrical wire...  

I first started making simple beaded jewelry about 25 years ago but I was more passionate about collecting pretty beads than I was about actually making the jewelry.  More recently, I became inspired by all the beautiful creations showing up in jewelry making publications on the market and started looking for more information.
 
I loved the look of metal but was intimidated by all the technical information.  I was wishing I could afford to take a course somewhere when I discovered a wonderful book called "Making Metal Jewelry" by Jen Cushman, an awesome designer and writer, who delivered the information in such a friendly way that nothing seemed too difficult to try.  That was my course!  I highly recommend this book.

Of course I had to set up another zone in my studio to accommodate my newest passion.

Jewelry making zone (shared with encaustic painting cause I really didn't have the space for another zone without giving something up and that's not likely to happen!)


One of my favourite techniques is creating a patina with the heat from my MAPP gas torch like on this pair of earrings that I made from copper pennies.


It's a good thing I did this blog post cause my work space was a bit of a mess and I had to tidy up to take the pictures.  Now I have enough room to spread out again, so... back to the studio!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summertime and the living is...busy!

Summer is way too short!  We're lucky if we get 2 months of real summer weather so every minute I get to spend out on the water is precious.

That's me in my floaty chair!
Summer is also when I gather most of the plant fibres for my handmade paper.   Rather than give up any time on my lake, I take the plant stalks with me out on my floaty chair and, as I drift happily in the sunshine, with a nice cold beverage beside me in the cup holder, I strip fibre.

Stinging nettle fibre stripped from the stalk.
July was super busy this year so I'm making up for lost time.  I can make the paper in my studio anytime but it's a very messy process so I'm glad for the nice weather to do it outside.  The fireweed and stinging nettle are already almost too dry to strip easily so I'm a little frantic to gather as much as I can now. 

Paper drying in the summer sunshine.
It won't be long before the flowers I need for my natural dyes are faded and gone, too.

Goldenrod blossoms for natural dyes.
With so much pulling at me to be outdoors, it's a challenge to find the time to spend indoors in my studio.  But when I do, I've been having a great time making jewelry and trying out new techniques.  I'll share more on that later, including some sage advise about chemicals and common sense! 

Check out these links for complete tutorials on making handmade paper from plants and dyeing paper pulp with natural dyes.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Now I'm back...really!!

Sorry, friends!  I did mean to get back sooner.  I had trouble getting back onto Blogger but I got that part figured out now so hopefully I'll figure out any other changes as I go.  My goal is to post once a week but here's a bit of catch-up.

I had a solo show of my encaustic paintings a year ago February.  Our local arts council sponsors excellent cultural performances throughout the year and they invite one artist to show their work at each performance.  It's a great way to get exposure in the community and the arts council gets a commission on sales made at the concert.  Here are a few of my favourite pieces from the show.

Vincent  
 
Festival of Friends

Here Comes the Sun

Moon Shadow

Moonstruck

Colours

I'll have to work on my photography.  The shiny finish to the encaustics is a bit of a challenge for me.

My Etsy shop has been "on vacation" as long as my blog has so I'm gearing up to get active there again, too.  I sell locally through our Lakes Artisan Centre and at craft fairs but I haven't been travelling to sell nor teaching workshops for the past couple of years. Perhaps it's time?  I've recently added jewelry making to the list of things I do and I seem to be a bit obsessed!

Another birthday has just passed and each year I reflect on how I'm spending my life hours and evaluating how I want to spend them in the years ahead.  Sometimes my head feels like it might explode with everything bouncing around in there but from what I hear, I'm not alone!