Monday, February 28, 2011

Decisions, Decisions - Work in Progress

Sorry not to have anything to post today but the background on my Bead Soup necklace is taking longer than I thought! But I promise if you stop back tomorrow, there will be something interesting to read!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal - Cue Fireworks!!!

Welcome to the 3rd Bead Soup Blog Party!

A Bead Soup Blog Party is a large collaboration project, brainchild of Lori Anderson, for lovers of beads in which each beader was paired up with another jewelry designer and tasked with sending the following: a focal, a special clasp (not just a lobster claw) and some coordinating spacers or beads.

Using the focal and the clasp was mandatory, but we could use anything from our own stash to round out the rest and choose to use the coordinating beads or not.

Here's what I made!

Mistress Boleyn's Necklace

Found object focal, center made with lampwork ruffle bead and headpin by Lyn Foley, stacked on a polymer clay disk and wirework by Stories They Tell

Antique lion drawer pull clasp with hook from old coveralls

My partner was the talented and generous Lyn Foley, who sent me a fabulous selection of items. It was a real challenge to make the flirty, sparkling lampwork ruffle beads work with the steampunk-flavored focal and clasp!

In my blog on Monday, I'll share my inspiration for this piece and break down the construction, and show other photos of the details, as well as the photo of the components I started with. Thanks for visiting!

Come see what the rest of us made! 
1.  Lori Anderson, Pretty Things
2. Kitty Durmaj, Perles and Life 
3.  Michelle Heim, Life In the Bead Lane 
4.  Lisa Petrillo, Lucid Moon Studio
5.  Anitra Gordy, Leelu Creations
6.  Paige Maxim, Paige Maxim Designs
7.  Marianna Boylan, Pretty Shiny Things
8.  Cheryl Roe, BeadRoe
9.  Heidi Post, Ex Post Facto
10.  Cindy Wimmer, Sweet Bead Studio
11.  Terri Gauthier, Blooming Ideas
12.  Rachel Walsh, Balanced Crafts
13.  Marian Hertzog, M's Place
14.  Mary McGraw, MK's Musings
15.  Sarabeth Burke, Chronicles of Sarita
16.  Deci Worland, Gem Trails 
17.  Erin Prais-Hintz, Treasures Found
18.  Laura Zeiner, Stick Lizard Designs
19.  Kristin Latimer, MJM Jewelry Designs
20.  Cathryn Brooks-Williams, Chile Cats
21.  Holly Westfall, Silver Rose Designs
22.  Janna Harttgen, Palima-Lim 
23.  Libby Leuchtman, Libby Leu
24.  Rebecca Anderson, Songbeads
25.  Deb Hunter, Living On Air
26.  Diana Ptaszynski, Suburban Girl Studio
27.  Jennifer VanBenschoten, VanBeads 
28.  Margot Potter, The Impatient Crafter
29.  Cyndi Lavin, Beading Arts
30.  Courtney Breul, Beads by Breul
31.  Stefanie Teufel, Stefanie's Sammelsurium
32.  Patricia Gasparino, My Life Under the Bus
33.  Tari Khars, Pearl and Pebble
34.  Kristi Bowman-Gruel, Kristi Bowman Design
35.  Jayne Capps, Mama's Got to Doodle
36.  Becky Fairclough, Chameleons Designs
37.  Evie and Beth McCord, EB Bead & Metal Works
38. Lynne Bowland, Islandgirl's Insights
39.  Barbara Lewis, Painting With Fire
40.  Lorelei Eurto, Inside the Studio
41.  Stacy Hartis, Sissy & Jack's
42.  Jennifer Cameron, Glass Addictions
43.  Marcie Abney, La Bella Joya 
44.  Johanna Rhodes, Fire Phoenix Creations
45.  Nan Emmett, Spirit Rattles 
46.  Melissa Mesara, One Eared Pig  
47.  Amanda Davie, Articulations
48.  Cherin Poovey, Lanyard Lady
49.  Virginia Joste, ViviBijoux
50.  Andrew Thornton, The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
51.  Lori Dorrington, Lori's Glassworks
52.  Melanie Brooks, Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
53.  Kate Gardenghi, Tropical Blonde
54.  Serena Trent, PinkIce Jewel's Blog
55. Malin de Koning, Beading by Malin de Koning
56.  Shai Williams, Shaiha's Ramblings
57.  Francy Inman, 8 Second Studio 
58.  Amy Freeland, Copper Diem
59.  Lisa Liddy, Joolz By Lisa
60.  Sandi Lee James,  Do Be Do Bead Do
61.  Mary Harding, Mary Harding Bead Blog 
62.  Stacey Curry, Star Hitched Wagon
63.  Leslie Gidden, Mad Maggie Designs
64.  Elisabeth Auld, Beads For Busy Gals
65.  Niky Sayers, Silver Nik Nats
66.  Linda Djokic, Lutka and Co.
67.  Tracy Bell, Copper, Glass, and Recycled Trash
68.  Laurel Steven, Rue's Daftique
69.  Ingrid McCue, Wrapped In Silver
70.  Birgitta Lejonklou, Create With Spirit
71.  Diana Hawkey, Diana Hawkey
72.  Norma Turvey, Moonlit Fantaseas
73.  Jeanette Ryan, Jeanette Blix
74.  Jackie Ryan, Silver Lodge Gems
76.  Debbie Goering, Prairie Emporium 
77.  Valerie Norton, Hot Art 
78.  Jana Trupovniece, Stories of the Secret Garden  
79.  Amy Severino, Amy Beads 
80.  Emma Thomas, Fred Beans Nook
81.  Karen Zanco, Everyday Gypsy
82.  Suzann Sladcik Wilson, Beadphoria
83.  Janet McDonald, Singing Woods
84.  Dana James, Dana's Jewelry Designs
85.  Kristina Johansson, Wild Roses and Blackberries
86.  CJ Bauschka, CJ Bauschka
87.  Angela Barribea, Re: Angela Rae
88. Marcy Lamberson, Studio Marcy
89.  Tanya Floyd, Glass Migrations
90.  Lisa Kavanaugh, Beading Bliss
91.  Sue Hodgkinson, Hello Gorgeous 
92.  Jenni Connolly, Jenni's Bead 
93.  Nally Parfyonova, Nally's Creations 
94.  Karyn White, Releases By Rufydoof  
95. Emanda Johnson, Artemisia Studio 
96.  Sandy Richardson, Sandy's Coloring Box
97.  Cindy Dolezal,  Cindy Dolezal Designs 
98.  Stacie Stamper, Park Avenue
99. Mallory Hoffman, For the Love of Beads
101.  Nicole Valentine-Rimmer, N. Valentine Studio
102.  Jacinta Meyers, Jamberrysong's Creations 
103.  Charlene Gary, Gray Girl Studios
104.  Rubiee Hayes, Glitter and Keys Galore
105.  Marge Beebe, Rock Creek Creations
106.  Elizabeth Freeman, Turquoise Sky
107.  Shelby Foxwell, Sundown Bead Designs Rhetoric
108.  Lynda Moseley, Diva Designs
109.  Grace Danel,  Grace Beading
110.  Lois Moon, Que Onda Quitman
111.  Agnes Shapiro, Beader Bubbe 
112.  Terry Carter, Tapping Flamingo 
113.  Judy Glende, Judith B. Designs
114.  Mary Ellen Parker, Bee Tree By Me
115. Barbara Bechtel, Second Surf
116.  Charlene Sevier, The Bead Dreamer
117. Alice Craddick, Alice's Beads and Baubles 
118.  Cory Celaya, Art With Moxie 
119.  Ronda Adams, The Ravished Heart 
120.  Sandi Volpe, Sandi Volpe Designs 
121. Anna Lear, The Laughing Raven 
122. Susie Hibdon, Vintagesusie & Wings  
123.  Amanda Austin, Sea Shore Glass 
124.  Jennifer Velasquez, Jen Judd Rocks 
125.  Hazel Ward, All Those Things 
126.  Brenda Salzano, Salzanos 
127.  Dee Gordon, Runako Designs by Dee 
128.  Anna Denisova, Anita-M 
129.  Margaret Saari, Mags-Jewelry
130.  Genea Crivello-Knable, Genea Beads 
131.  Penny Neville, Copper Penny
132.  Angela Blasingame, Hopemore
133. Helena Fritz, Beadwork by H's Blog
134. Stephanie LaRose, Confessions of a Bead Hoarder
135. Stephanie Haussler, PixyBug Designs
136. Diane Cook, Rosa & Josies  
137.  Maryse Thillens, Glass Bead Art
138.  Jennifer Pride, Jewelry by J.P.
139.  Shannon Chomanczuk, For My Sweet Daughter
140.  Lisa Godfrey, Bead Happy
141.  Heather Pyle, Welcome to My  Muse
142.  Regina Santerre, Regina's Writings
143.  Liz DeLuca, Creative Arty Facts
144.  Sig Wynne-Evans, Beaded Bear's Nonsense
145.  Loretta Carstensen, Loretta's Boutique
146.  Raida Disbrow, Havana Beads 
147.  Amber Dawn, Inventive Soul 
148.  Shelly Graves, Stars Dance With Me  
149.  Jess Italia Lincoln, Vintaj Blog 
150. JJ Jacobs, Coming Abstractions
151.  Carrie Tahquechi, Carrie T
152.  Staci Smith, Staci Louise Originals
153.  Katarzyna Kwiatkowska, Quiet Area 
154.  Ema Kilroy, Ema K Designs
155. Magdalena Sikora, Poranna Gazeta
156.  Nicole Keller, Nicki's Reef
157.  Ann Rishell, My Critical Eye
158.  Noemi Baena, Fire, Metal, and Color 
159. Christa Murphy, Adventures of One Beady Woman 
160.  Barbara Blaszczyk, Labotorium Flory
161.  Collette Collins, Firefly Myst
162.  Carola Greiser, Polymer Clay Shed
163.  Joanna Kopijczuk, Bizuteria z Filcu
164. LeAnn Weih, Summers Studio 
165.  Cassandra Watsham, Design by Cassandra
166. Anna Motz, Stunning
167.  Shea Zukowski, Gr8findings
168.  Susan Kennedy, Sue Beads
169.  Lisa Boucher, Lisa's Clay Happenings
170.  Hope Smitherman, Crafty Hope
171.  Alison Crenshaw, Beads by Earth Tones
172.  Dorcas Midkiff, Wondrous Strange Designs 
173.  Melissa Rediger, Sea of Glass 
174.  Marina Dobrynina, Savon Feutre  
176.  Menka Gupta, Menka's Blog
177. Patsy Evins, Patsy Evins Studio
178.  Cherrie Fick, En La Lumie're
179.  Suzette Bentley, Ellie's Bijoux
180.  Molly Alexander, Beautifully Broken Me
181.  Lyn Foley, Lyn Foley Wearable Art
182. Tara Plote, The Newbie Beader's Blog
183. Natalie Schuetz, Natalie S Perlen 
184. Kim Hutchinson, Running on Ink
185. Haley Frank, Wide Eyed Smilin 
186. Grace Caputo, Suddenly Last Summer
187. Marie-Noel Voyer-Cramp, Skye Jewels 
188. Erin Siegel, Erin Siegel Jewelry 
189.  Janea McDonald, Organized Chaos
190.  Kristi Evenson, Colie Bug & Co.
191.  Linda Inhelder, Must Haves Jewelry
192.  Hilary Frye, FryeStyle
193. Whitney Lassini, Whitney Lassini
194. Nancy Schindler, The Rabbit Muse
195. Pam Brisse, The Blue Between
196. Beth Bricker, Vintage Sweets
197.  Ruthie Stickney, Rose Works Jewelry and Gifts
198.  Rose Noble, Lady Noble Designs
199. Karen Williams, Baublicious
200.  Claire Maunsell, The Next Bend
201.  Christine Damm, Stories They Tell
202.  Kerry Bogert, Kab's Creative Concepts
203.  Wendy Blum, Sand & Sea Designs
204.  Juli Cannon, Julsbeads
205.  Jenny Robledo, La Dona Boutique
206.  Krista French, French Elegant Jewelry
207.  Pam Krinski, Ewa Beads
208.  Melissa Meman, Melissa Meman, Art, Life, Love
209.  Dana Jones, Dana's Jewelry
210.  Shirley Moore, Beads and Bread

The next party's sign ups begin August 1-3, 2011.  Don't miss it!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Risk and Reward

Living as I do in a remote area, I am frequently grateful for the Internet and the ability it gives me to keep in touch with other artists around the country and the wider world. I can tailor-make my list of blogs, choosing only those that are specific to my interests. I can surf museum sites and online galleries, browsing the best modern and ancient art and craft and I don't have to go further than my home office.

When I was in an artists' support group some years ago, our only means of communication was by phone and the only artists I had met locally all worked in a two-dimensional medium. We do have lots of fine craft artists in Vermont but you could only get to their studios by trekking through snow or over muddy roads or just wait until they had gallery shows and hope that they were staged in the warm months.

So with the advent of the Internet I now have many friends online who work in various media. We have Facebook, Flickr and the blogosphere where we meet and converse and share ideas and critique each others' work.

But I think there are true dangers to the creative life in the trend to present your work in the social media. It's great to get your work out there to a wider audience but are we becoming approval junkies? Do you ever find the need to be liked shaping your art? Causing you to re-think a design? The risk is that staying in the same groove may win approval and nice comments on Flickr or Facebook but may cause us to play it safe when it comes to swinging out there to make innovations or try new techniques.

Although what I do is not driven by the market--that is, I don't sell my work to earn a living, I have heard from other designers that their customers do appreciate innovation and new designs. So the many online opportunities that exist to challenge your creativity are excellent motivators as long as you're not just turning in work to meet a deadline at the expense of quality.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I am participating in Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party Three and our reveal date is this Saturday. I have a beautiful stash of beads and objects from my partner this time, Lyn Foley and although I have a design already sketched out, I'll be disappointed if I'm not challenged in making it all come together. For me, that's the reward for taking the risk of putting myself and my work out there. To find out something new as I'm working. To discover a new technique or a new material. To make a new connection with another artist. I'm taking a pledge to quit obsessing about recognition and get on with tuning in to the creative Muse, to let her inspire new breakthroughs and insights in 2011.

Here are a couple of photos of work that I did for a recent online challenge that has inspired several notebook pages' worth of ideas. It doesn't get any better than that!

Lantern beads - polymer clay and oil pastels

Evening of a Summer's Day
Polymer clay, agate, pearls, African glass spacers, Czech glass beads

Monday, February 14, 2011

Friends and Lovers

It's Valentine's Day and the popular media would like us to think that it's all about romance, candy, flowers, and jewelry. But I say it's about the gifts of inspiration that flow throughout the year from our relationships with creative friends.

It's a very new thing for me to have friends that support and praise my work. In art school, there was a lot of competition and negative criticism. We were told by our teachers that maybe 1 in 10,000 of us would actually succeed as professional artists. Of course, that meant painters. If you mentioned textiles or pottery, you would get a sneer and jokes about basketweaving courses.

After I attended the School for American Craftsmen at R.I.T., I began to see fine craft coming into its own in curatorial circles as a valid artistic medium. These days I would venture to say that people are collecting handmade furniture, ceramics, jewelry, baskets, and textiles as much, if not more, than they are buying art to hang on the wall.

This past weekend, I literally devoured the photos of the incredible work my friend, Cindy Wimmer, has done for the new Wire Style 2 book. I was so inspired by her bold, imaginative designs and meticulous wire work that I decided to transform a heart shape I was working on with wire, to strive for more than the simple polymer shape I originally planned.

Entwined Heart pendant

I've been working with tangling and kinking wire in combination with polymer clay for about a year and now have a much better idea of the properties and idiosyncrasies of this material. I've embedded clay into wire-wrapped bezels (see Belle Armoire Jewelry – Summer 2010 for a tutorial) but I'm also liking the airier feel of the floating tangled wire embracing the polymer shape--like the vibrations of a heart beating in synchronicity with her love's heart. Yes, I am a romantic! I'm sure there will be more work to come with this technique.

Around this time of year, and it's been a pretty snowy one for most of this country, I like to work in the color red, even more so than in other seasons. It's intense and warm, it reminds me of the heart's fire and passion and .... well, I just love it! I did up some mokume gane in reds in anticipation of getting some things into my Etsy shop for Valentine's Day but got sidetracked by a custom order. But I will be listing them anyway. You can never have enough red, in my opinion!

Watercolors cuff

Watercolors earrings

 When we woke up this morning at our customary 5 a.m. my husband, Douglas, handed me a card. It read “When my mind wanders, it always finds its way to you” -- opened, it played Sam Cook singing “You Send Me”. He had written some amazingly sweet sentiments inside-- no, I'm not sharing those! But heartfelt gifts like this mean more to me than diamond earrings and fancy dinners. Since his job supports me in my jewelry-making, I made these earrings for myself yesterday and counted them as a Valentine's present from Dougie. He approved.

Greensleeves earrings

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Once Again into the Creative Soup

Soup has got to be my favorite food. Stew, goulash, cassoulet, stufato-- whatever the culture calls it, the melange of flavors, the cornucopia of ingredients, the surprising little bits of this and that-- it all comes together in the pot in a surprising triumph of cooperation of many disparate elements. As you're simply chopping all the pieces up, you cannot predict what the final result will be. That's the crap shoot, the risk, taking the leap of faith that you will get something great in the end from things that don't even look like they belong together.

It's 20 degrees this morning in central Vermont and lightly snowing. I can see my snow-covered meadow from the window above my workbench, where there are a number of projects in various stages of completion-- Valentine's presents for the women in my family, a funky little heart framed in wirework with its patina curing, lots of pairs of earrings that need finishing.

It may seem chaotic but I find working like this to be the best way for me to let the lessons learned from one project spill over and influence others I'm working on. Since I've become a serious, every-day-at-the-bench artist, I need to put myself in the way of design problems to solve-- they don't just show up in my workspace. As I've mentioned before, the Art Bead Scene challenges are very stimulating and I've followed Michelle Ward's challenges as well. Now I've got a new “design addiction”-- Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Party!I know several beaders/designers who have done a couple of these with Lori and loved them so I decided to jump in.

Lori asked each one of us to define our style so she could try to pair us with someone who was the opposite of that style. The method in her madness: “to get you to challenge yourself, help break you out of your design rut, so to speak”. And it works.

I was so fortunate to be paired with a very talented lampwork craftswoman and designer, Lyn Foley, from Texas. We immediately e-mailed back and forth and checked out each others photos and in a few days I received this bountiful box of loot from Lyn.

The only rule is you have to use the focal and the clasp your partner supplies in your creation. You are free to use any of your own stash for supplemental beads or the ones that your partner sends. I had immediately admired Lyn's ruffly flower beads and was so happy to see some arrive for me wrapped in palest turquoise tissuepaper! But then I noticed the nifty Steampunk-style found object focal in bronze that she had included. How to make a harmonious piece out of two dissimilar styles? Well, that's the whole point, isn't it? To give your creative problem-solving muscles a challenge, to jog you out of familiar paths and ways of working.

I'll be teasing you with some little glimpses of work in progress in the next few weeks-- the big Reveal Party will be on February 26 and all 210 (yes-- you read that correctly!) of us intrepid designers will be blogging our results at the same time. Fireworks in midwinter!

For more information on the Bead Soup Party, go to Lori Anderson (Flickr group

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wirework – What's Ancient Becomes New Again

When I first started doing polymer clay, I knew I wanted to incorporate metal into my work. There was something for me about metal as a supporting cast member that was important. Something about it that gave weight and stability to clay-- more than adding mere actual grams and ounces--grounded it, if you will.

Metal plays such a large part in our world of jewelry-making. Clasps, chain, bezels, jumprings-- all have their own special design capabilities and can be so much more than adjuncts to gemstones and beads.

As I was writing this blog this morning, I dug out some pieces I've made in the last year and found that more and more I depend on wire to provide an important design element.

From Kandinsky necklace

Copper wire experiment

Focal from Dark and Stormy Night necklace - Available in my Etsy shop

Wire element from unfinished necklace

Detail from Silk Road necklace

Clasp from Dzi bead necklace

Last year I sent a selection of my beads to a good friend, Cindy Wimmer who had been invited to submit projects for a new wire book by Denise Peck, editor of Step by Step Wire Magazine and author of 101 Wire Earrings and Wire Style.

I'm happy and proud to tell you that my little "Fallen to Earth" polymer focal pendant and beads are now gracing the pages of Wire Style 2, strikingly showcased in Cindy Wimmer's necklace of the same name. I haven't seen the book yet so I don't know if there are polymer beads used in other artists' work but I thank Cindy for championing the use of polymer beads in wire work in an important popular venue such as this. In the past I've provided beads for other artists such as Sharon Borsavage and Deryn Mentock and seen what amazing things a talented designer can do with them.

Rambler by Live Wire Jewelry - Pale blue faux jade beads by Stories They Tell

Vedauvoo Blooms by Deryn Mentock - Large beads by Stories They Tell

Among other contributors to the book are Kerry Bogert and Lisa Niven Kelly, whose informative and comprehensive website Beaducation has taught me so much about using metal and wire. Wire Style 2 is available now from the Interweave site and after March 1 from other booksellers.

Fallen to Earth beads

Fallen to Earth pendant