Monday, October 17, 2011

The Flaming Forest

Every autumn in Vermont, Nature bestows one last spectacular riot of color on those of us priviledged enough to live here-- warm blazes of reds, yellows and oranges to keep in memory and warm us through the long, frigid winter to come--the color of flames, the color of passion, the color of carnelian and amber gemstones. Some of us call it "The Flaming Forest".

Taking my cue from what's around me is one of my tried-and-true methods for putting my senses ahead of my technique. I find if I lose myself in color and texture first, the design will blossom from this pure inspiration and the piece will express my unconscious intentions more fully.

I actually started this necklace back in the summer, after finding some polymer beads in my stash that I had forgotten about, my "Little Bumblebeads". These were based on the “watercolor” technique invented by Maggie Maggio, an artist that has pioneered an amazing color system and method for use with polymer but that can be applied to any medium. Her blog is very enlightening and expands on the color theory outlined in the recent book co-authored with Lindly Haunani, Color Inspirations.

Little Bumblebeads

The watercolor technique beads were a perfect complement to my husband Douglas' repousse leaf pendant, which he made a few years ago. It was languishing forgotten in one of my many boxes of work-to-be-completed until I decided to punch up the copper color with some heat patination. That brought out some beautiful metallic lustres and then I added a twisty wire bail.

I've been experimenting for a while with layering my necklaces, wearing two similar ones together for a more sumptuous look but I make them as separate strands in case I'm wearing something more casual. I recently purchased one of my dear friend Erin Prais-Hintz's beautifully-crafted owl charms, from her recent Simple Truths collection. It's nicely abstract and not too cute--looking more totemic-- more like the true essence of this noble creature. I really didn't have a use for it in mind when I bought it but soon realized that it was a perfect focal for the inner strand of my composition.

Owl from Erin's "Simple Truths" collection

"Wisdom" necklace - inner strand

The outer strand necklace was completed by the addition of Czech glass beads and leaves, larger Bumblebeads, and a magnetic clasp. Color of autumn, color of maples, the Flaming Forest.

The Flaming Forest

Heartwood earrings

Friday, October 7, 2011

Storing Up the Bliss

It's been over a week since I taught my first class at this year's ArtBliss outside of Washington, D.C.

I'm still full of happiness at meeting all my great students and all the wonderful friends I only knew from online conversations and from all the super-positive feedback I've received from everyone at the event.

I work in a home studio in a rural area and the majority of the feedback on my work comes from comments on photos posted on this blog or on Flickr. Hardly anyone sees the pieces up close and personal so it was a real treat to see how people reacted to my display of work at the Meet & Greet. I had brought most of the pieces that I made for my recent article in Belle Armoire Jewelry and I was very gratified by the reactions of the attendees.

As I commented to Cindy Wimmer, a good friend and co-organizer along with Jeanette Blix, it's like storing up sunshine from a fine summer's day. When I think about it--with the cold autumn rain coming down outside my window for a week now-- it's warming and energizing and I can't wait to start planning another class for next year! I'm so curious about how what they've learned will influence what my students do next in their own individual art-- I do so hope that their experience in my class will have some positive effect, some lasting inspiration.

Because that's why you teach-- not to become a millionaire. Organizing and schlepping close to the entire contents of one's studio to a venue is exhausting and teaching an all-day class at peak energy is like running a marathon but I would not ever turn down the opportunity to do it all again.

I only have a few photos of the event to add to this post, as I was so engrossed in what I was doing and making sure I covered all the material that I forgot to have someone take photos! Luckily, one of the ArtBliss staff took a few. I'm planning on contacting all my students soon and asking for some shots of finished or work-in-progress pieces.

When we got to our suite at the hotel, a fabulous bag of goodies was waiting for me-- including an antique stand used by offices to hold those old-fashioned stamp pads with handles. Cindy knows what an inveterate antiques hound I am. Doesn't it have the perfect patina and woodsy style as a holder for my Passion Flower brooch? I think I'll keep this one right on my desk staged just like this!

 I adore antique jars too and this zinc-top one is full of shells that Cindy's boys picked up on one of their last days at the beach this year. I'm thinking that each and every one of these was specially chosen by one of them and imbued with their happiness and wonder. What a very special memento, with its tag “Near the Sea we forget to Count the Days”!

And to accompany it was a big, fabulously-illustrated book on shells. I can't wait to delve into this one and create some new patterns in my clay work.

 One of the reasons that I teach is that I come home filled with new ideas and enthusiasm for my medium, polymer clay. I am so blessed to be able to pass that on to others but an equally special reward is that they re-inspire me. One of my students gave me some wallpaper squares that she brought to class. Thanks, Judy, and here are some little samplers I made with the textures. I used Genesis heat-set oil paint for the black base and highlighted the designs with silver gilders paste. Some of these may end up as bases for owl or dragon eyes for my porch pumpkins this year. Students also let me make copies of some of the mold-making originals that they brought to class.

 Finally, a few class pictures. If you go to the ArtBliss site and the instructors list, you can see other shots on their blogs. It's not as good as being there but maybe it will get you thinking about attending next year and joining the fun that we all had-- being together, talking about mixed media for three days and hanging out with good friends. It doesn't get any better than that!

 Gigantic thanks to Cindy and Jeanette for a well-run, energizing, and totally enjoyable event! I felt very taken-care-of by both of you-- you thought of everything! And special thanks to my students for being courageous, inquisitive, energetic, affirming and completely wonderful!