Thursday, September 29, 2011

Adventures in Bad Photography

One of my biggest challenges in being a jewelry artist has been in the photography department.  If I lived in a world where I was happy doing a few great shows a year (Patchwork, Uptown Village Market, etc), I'd be fine with my lack of photography skills.  But, I want an active Etsy site.  I want a beautiful blog.  I want to show off my adventures in creativity.  That's difficult to do without good photography skills.  

I've read tutorials.   I've experimented with my D60 and it's various lenses.  I've set up light boxes and experimented outdoors.  I still take awful jewelry pictures!  

Now, I have a decent eye for composition.  Years of art history critical thinking taught me well in that department.  It's the technical stuff that gets me every time.  So, bear with me as I experiment with things.  I hope one day I will turn some magic corner and suddenly "get it" but that day hasn't magically appeared yet.  Meanwhile, that critical eye is really doing it's job!

Too shiny!

Washed out

Unfortunate reflections.

No depth.

Maybe I should just name my pieces after my photo criticism. :)

So, here's a pile of new pieces.  One day soon, I will photograph them in a way that will make me drool over them.  There really are some pretty pieces here!

Thank GOODNESS there are 4 great shows coming up where my work can be seen in person.  

Long Beach - November 6th
Culver City (NEW!!!) - November 13th
Santa Ana - November 27th
December 2nd and 3rd.

I'll be back with more bad pics very soon!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

I have Lamp Lust

Anthropologie is the cause of it all (of course).  They have a line of One-of-a-Kind lamps by Robert Ogden.  They are industrial beauties made with random parts and I want them all.  Want is about as far as I'm going to get since they are HUGELY expensive ($800+).  I wonder if I could make my own version........?

Art Bead Scene September Challenge

Every Month, the Art Bead Scene Blog has a monthly challenge that is inspired by a particular piece of art.  This month is a Gee's Bend quilt titled "Housetop".  I saw the Gee's Bend show in San Francisco a few years ago and it completely changed my attitude about quilting.

So, this is the inspiration piece:
"Housetop"--twelve-block "Half-Logcabin" variation, ca. 1965
Cotton, Wool Corduroy, 77"x 65"
Lillie Mae Pettway, 1927-1990
Gee Bend's Quilter

1. Create something using an art bead that fits within our monthly theme. We post the art to be used as your inspiration to create. This challenge is open to jewelry-makers, fiber artists, collage artist, etc. The art bead can be created by you or someone else. The challenge is to inspire those who use art beads and to see all the different ways art beads can be incorporated into your handiwork.
The challenge rules are: 
***Beads strung on a chain, by themselves and beads simply wire or cord will not be accepted.***

I started playing with a bezel, some wool fiber and felting tools too "quilt" my own mini quilt in the bezel.  I did a collage using the words House and Top on the other side.  Once that was complete, I made a little house bead out of polymer clay then combined these components with some art beads and antique beads from my stash (See, stashes are a GOOD thing!)  The end result:

It is pretty comfortable to wear - and I'm not usually a big bracelet wearer!  The Green Lentil bead is my Elaine Ray and the little blown glass beads surrounding the house are by tanyamcguire.  

This is the first time I've put any of  my work out there in this way and it's a little nerve wracking, but why not?  
There's nothing to lose and I got a great bracelet out of it. :)


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Going Batty!

I usually don't focus on theme-specific work.  Nor do I do what I consider "production" work" very often.  I make jewelry because I enjoy the creative process of taking raw materials and making something pretty.  Or, finding and being inspired by a vintage piece of jewelry, a piece of art, or even a bowl full of tomatoes.  You'll probably never see me making and selling "Christmas" jewelry.  However, Halloween gets the exception.  It is one of my favorite holidays and I've always LOVED all things spooky.  The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland was always a favorite of mine and, as a punk rocker, spooky was always enticing.  

Several months ago, I found an old bat stamping in a stash collection and it all went to "hell" from there.  I found the very same bat is still being made today, bought a bunch of them and went to work.  

The main components are a piece of stamped metal, the bat which I treated with some color, some chain, some beads and a bat bracelet is the end result.  

So, here's how it's done....

The metal component (I used some metal blanks both in rectangular shape and cut out in a leaf shape) are taped down with painters tape and the word is stamped into the piece with metal stanmps.  I used 1/4" letters for this project.

I then punch holes in both the pat wings and in the metal strip pieces with my favorite metal punch tool (what a work horse this tool is!).

 Rupert has been very helpful with the project, providing lots of spooky inspiration (and black cat hair)

I then color the metal with Gilders Paste.  I used 2 colors of metal (an antiqued brass and a rusty black finish) and about 8 different colors of gilders paste.  I applied it with a horsehair brush that I cut down to about 1/4".

The pieces are then formed on a braeelet mandrel with a rubber mallet.

When all of the components are prepared and the gilders paste is dry, I seal it with a matte finishing spray.  When everything is dry, the assembly work starts.  No two pieces are exactly the same.  I've added different charm elements, chain, colors, words and shapes.  Some of the charmed I made using antique Swarovski bat crystals and resin.

Here are all 19 of them all lined up and ready to go to Bella Cosa.  They will get an exclusive on these pieces.  Im not even going to put them on Etsy!

Here's a few of the pieces up close.  I've been experimenting with photographing my work.  Not quite the perfect photos yet, but maybe some minor improvement.  

So, there you have it!  They are not difficult to do if you're doing only one or two.  Making 19 was more of a challenge and took several nights of concentrated work.  I hope they are popular!

If you would like one for yourself, please go to Bella Cosa Boutique in Bixby Knolls, Long Beach.  It's a fantastic store and there are always tempting goodies to be had.

Next Up.....The Art Bead Scene Challenge and the piece I'm entering (first time!!!)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Spooky Some More

Today was tombstone day.  I had an idea while riding the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland to use polymer clay to create tombstone bezels.  Today was my experimental phase.  I like some results better than others, but it was fun to play more with polymer clay.

You can't do spooky things without a black cat around.  Rupert provided his assistance (and his black cat hair)

Before baking. I decided to imbed some charms into the pieces as well as use them as "carvings".

After baking and highlighting with paint and gilder's paste.  Some are more difficult to read - especially the Momento Mori pieces.  I decided to put them on a simple silk cord instead of elaborate beading.  Although, I may do more of the small portrait pieces and do something a bit fancier.

my far my favorite spooky thing I've created so far are my bat bracelets.  I love bats.  I love Halloween!  I'd wear these all year round!
The metal backs say different things: "Spooky" "Fly By Night" and "Batty".  I need to come up with some more batty phrases to stamp on the metal.  I'm also going to try some alcohol inks on one or two pats and see how that turns out.  

Oh, and Sid wanted to say Hi.  He says his white belly is a nice counterpart to Rupert's blackness.

Have a Happy Long Weekend!  I'm going to see if I can power through some more pieces while I have the time.  Next week starts a busy pet sitting week and I may not have even a moment for the fun stuff.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Finally, Some Focus!

As the anesthesia slowly leaves my body, my creative brain is waking up.  I didn't have any dog walks today, so after a few life errands, I was able to spend some quality time at the bead table.

Staying with my desire to create for fall, I started with this amazing pendant and ceramic crow by Kylie Parry and worked in some wooden beads I picked up from Pudgy Beads a while back.  I mixed both Vintaj Arte Metal and Bronze and topped it off with a piece of hand dyed ribbon.  It's very earthy - a different style for me, but I like it.

I went back to my favorite hobby re-use of vintage materials and used this broken antique pin I have had in my stash for a while.  Vintage glass beads in gold and green compliment the enamel of the pin turned pendant and I added some new hand blown glass beads from Blue Seraphim.  I don't know if I can part with this one.  I LOVE these vintage colors.

And, I had to start playing around with a Halloween take on my bird cage earrings.  This time with crows and skulls.  This style of earrings is always difficult to photograph, but I can't keep them in stock when people see them in person.

And, finally a pendant I made.  I'm not sure how I'm going to incorporate it into a necklace yet.  I have some dupioni silk ribbon that night be nice, or I may just simply put it on a chain.  The orange flowers are lampwork by Serena Smith, the yellow glass leaves are vintage and the butterfly is a brass piece I painted.  

It was a good day for creating.  It is rare that I have the leisure of several hours strung together to make things.  I feel very spoiled when I get this opportunity.