Monday, February 28, 2011

Marvelous Monday

Using recycled knits and fabrics, GREEN OAK creations creates these Epic Fantasy sweater coats,  Her goal is to capture some true fantasy magic and create coats that you would wear in your daydreams.  Each Green OAK creation is pieced together by hand. 

If you like color, texture and a little fantasy, take a spin through her shop and enjoy her wonderful designs. I want to put one on and do a real BIG twirl . . . wheeee! Have a marvelous Monday.

Friday, February 25, 2011


I've been working on a few things in the studio this week.  One of them is Hadar's white bronze clay.  A friend had sent me a photo of something she made with it, and I knew I had to try.  White bronze has a nice rich silver like appearance.  I ran my first two test pieces as I decided the best approach was to keep a firing log book.  Things didn't quite work out as planned (as you can see by the photo below).  There were a number of emails back and forth with Hadar (who is a saint, extremely knowledgeable and very helpful) who suggested a few things I might try to help.  Every kiln is different and you have to really get to know your kiln.  I had purchased one of the fiber boxes from the PMC Connection.  They're great, except I didn't really know how much they held the heat.  So much so, that if I took the box out of the kiln and left it out for the night, my carbon would turn to total ash.  So, the only thing I could do, due to Hadars 2-phase firing (and the piece, as well as the kiln, had to be cooled down for the next phase) was remove the box and literally remove this extremely hot carbon out of the fiber box to cool it down.  The first time I did it, I have to say was a little nerve-racking.  I was waiting for the phone to ring just when I had the carbon in the spatula which would cause me to jump and thereby having these red hot flakes fly all over.  You get the picture.  And no, I usually don't jump when the phone rings, but I might have been holding my breath, just a little.

This was my first test piece.  Actually, it was two lentil shape pieces which one had blistered from overheating .  The two smaller pieces to the left was what came off of the piece on the right.  They were a surprise when I found them in another area of the box.  Needless to say, I had to reduce the temperature for the first firing (and the second as well).

After the next piece was fired through the 1st phase, I wasn't sure the binder had burned off, so I put it through for another phase.  And finally the sintering phase was reached.  It's magical when you take your piece out of the kiln, (when it looks like something that's been sitting out in the yard for a few years) and begin to clean it up and turns out looking like this.

The biggest lesson I learned working with Hadar's clay is you have to do test pieces.  There's no way around it.  And if you keep a log book, there's no guessing involved.  Everything is documented.  It's something that is so unlike me to do, to be that organized, but it will serve me well in the future. 

Right now, I've made a test piece of her pearl grey steel. and hope to fire it tomorrow.  I wanted to be able to compare her white bronze against it.
The other thing I've been working on, if you've been reading this blog, is faux morrisonite.  It's definitely a process but each day I seem to learn a little more.  Yesterday I worked on a pattern I was trying to replicate - not morrisonite, but ocean waves.  Last week I had made a bead for the BAO color challenge that I really liked.  It had a nice ocean kind of feel to it.  But of course, I couldn't remember for the life of me how I did it.  (Log book here would have helped - another lesson learned.).  Anyway, I think I've figured it out and the bead on the left was the first bead I made in that process.  The idea was to have one daylight ocean waves on one side and an evening ocean on the other side (bead in the middle).  The bead on the right is the original I was trying to replicate.  So yeah, there's room for improvement. But through this process, I think I've learned something that will help me get one step closer to the morrisonite.

And lastly, I took something from my studio that was a gazillion years old and am finally going to use it.  How many of you have tons of projects that you started, or have supplies hanging around you keep meaning to get to?  When I did my first metal clay workshop, it must have been 1999 or 2000.  I've literally had a lump of metal clay that was now hard as a rock, unfired.  But through the guild, I learned of something easy I could use to help with this clay.  It's a pill crusher.  I took some pictures so you get the idea.  Once I shaved pieces off the lump, put them in the pill crusher, they basically turn to powder and can be reconstituted pretty easily.  I have done this with some PMC 3.  But take a look at the date on the left.  It had an expiration date of 8/31/01!  I can now add sprays of distilled water to it and make it workable again.  How awesome is that?  

Tell me your studio stories, what's in your closet and how long has it been there?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Baby Steps

I was wondering today why I felt compelled to continue this quest on making faux morrisonite or any other jasper for that matter.  Do you ever get ideas that you just can't seem to let go of?   I'm still working on some of the color formulas as they're not quite right.  But here's a mosaic of what's evolved this week. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Marvelous Monday

"Their sprawling decaying root systems still anchored them to the forest floor as they soar upward; they were once the pillars of the forest canopy.

Visually deafening, yet peaceful, these now epic sculptures of nature stand majestic. Sculptured by the wind, the rain and the miniature life forms that leisurely consume them, their haunting silhouettes tell enchanting stories of the aggressions of time and moments of tranquility.

For these icons of the forest, this is now the final phase of their existence, as they gradually and gracefully contribute their whole to the biomass beneath them."

I'm not sure what I like more of John Goodyear.  His powerful work or his powerful words.  So few a time is it that you land on someone's website, and are so taken by what you read.  This is one of those few times, for me at least.  I hope you take a moment and scroll through his website and explore his work.  It's as luscsious as the rainforest.  Have a marvelous Monday.                 


Friday, February 18, 2011

Beginnings - The Making of a Jasper

Last month I blogged about my love of Morrisonite.  I'm a bit obsessed over it actually.  Two nights ago, I had my first dream that involved polymer. So, I figure it's time to attempt to work it out.  I can see it's going to take some time.  For fun, you can see some actual stones that I had blogged about here.  And now, here's my humble beginnings.  But as they say, Rome wasn't built in a day.

One of my favorite things about Morrisonite, is the cloudlike forms that appear in the stone. 

First, what I was trying to accomplish was to create some of those cloudlike patterns.  Ironically, the pattern on the top left was my first attempt.  My goal in the end is to combine colors and create patterns that makes sense.  Patterns that feel "natural". In the other photos, I was experimenting with a couple other colors you'd find in Morrisonite, as well as some striations and fissures. Towards the end of the day, I discovered what was working and what was not. . . what I needed to explore and what I needed to let go.   One step closer.  Sigh.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Out of the Studio Wednesday

Every couple weeks my Etsy BAO team does a color challenge.  I've been meaning to blog about them because it's always fun to see what other members do and where they take it.  Here's the photo we were use as our inspiration.

This challenge was no different for me.  Mud.  Again.  Anyway, having procrastinated in my usual style, I had to come up with something quick.  That's when I gave up trying and began playing a little.  Here's what I came up with.

Lucky is all I can say.  I'm going to re-create a similar bead today.  We'll see if I can backtrack a little.  I was using translucent clay and I'm beginning to realize how much I really like that clay.  I go back between carving designs now and translucent.  They both have a totally different look to them.  It must be a yin yang thing going on in my head 'cause I can't seem to shake it.  We'll see what evolves.

And here's what the other members of my team created.  This time we had five members who participated.  For more info, see the links below.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Marvelous Monday

"By using hands-on processes of coiling, fraying, twisting, wrapping, glueing and knotting, I transform industrial screening, wire, silicone and monofilament into organic constructions. My desire is to create works that appear to have grown into being. I love the natural world and am constantly inspired by its beauty and infinite varieties of form. This, in combination with my fears, quirks and joys, results in works that celebrate the wonder of it all."

This is the artist statement of Lanny Bergner.  I would love to see a fast-motion video of his process - shredding, twisting, and coiling mesh wire.  Is it basketry . . . is it fiber art . . . sculpture?  Or does it fit neatly into all three categories?  Certainly mixed media.  His work could be made from any combination of mesh, silicone, origami paper, glass frit, recycled ground plastic, gourds and the list goes on and on. 

Is this a high tech wall sculpture (shown on left)  that ironically references organic form?  Where does he even begin?  To see more of Lanny's work, you can go here and here.  And have yourself a marvelous Monday!         

Friday, February 11, 2011

Studio Sharing

Earlier this week, I had two women come and work in my studio for a couple days.  It was two days of sharing, mentoring and learning.  Ruth is certified in both PMC and Art Clay, and Donna has been learning metal clay for a couple months now.  As for me, I'm learning to work with the new clays.  And the choices are grand! 

We did have an agenda and I have to say, we stuck to it pretty well.  The first day was a metal clay project, and the second day was polymer clay. We all use and prefer Hadar's clay.  It mixes up beautifully and easily.   Myself and Donna combined bronze and copper.  Mine is the lentil, Donna's is the elliptical.  And yes, the photo from Wednesday (upper left) was bronze clay. (I thought the color in the photo made it look like a carved eraser).  I would be filling in the carving with copper clay.  Donna's approach was a little different than mine.  She made her copper shape, and then embedded it into the bronze clay.  Ruth, on the other hand, was busy mixing up measured parts of copper and bronze to make the rose gold. 

So far, the biggest problem we've come across is the carbon.  After both phases, I needed to replace all the carbon that was in the fiber box.  That's one thing I've noticed is the fiber box holds the heat better (good and bad as it's better for burning the binder and sintering, but is probably responsible for the carbon loss).  The carbon had lterally all turned to ash. 

As I mentioned before, the clay choices we have now are many.  We even have stainless steel, white bronze, and pearl grey steel.  Here's one of my favorite rings Ruth did with stainless steel inlaid with bronze. 

I hope you all have a creative weekend!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Out of the Studio Wednesday

I've been blogging a lot lately about whose work has been inspiring me.  But I've also been busy in the studio as well.   Going back a bit, remember my electroform experiments?   Even though I haven't had much time to get new projects done, I've been mulling over some ideas in my head.  So I made a cabochon and wanted to see if I could electroform on thin air.  Well, kind of.  OK, not really.  But it looks like it, right?  This is just the first of hopefully more experiments to come. First I just wanted to see if I could create space within the design - and how much space as well.

Also, remember my first go at bronze clay?   Like many of you, I'm sure, I was taken in by the gorgeous patinas that were created in the kiln with bronze clay.  But this rusty old looking piece is all my kiln left me.  I've come to learn firsthand how fickle patinas truly are.  I've fired with two different carbons, but I have yet to get a nice patina.  But when I get an idea in my head, sometimes I just can't let it go.  I keep on plugging.
So I finally got around to torch firing it to see what colors would develop.  Here are the colors I got.
Then I remembered some patinas I had from probably at least 10 years ago or so. So, I pulled them out, and applied this blue/green patina.   I guess they must have a nice long shelf life.  I thought I really liked the results, but then I had to ask myself - is it too much color?  And when is it too much?  Or can there ever really be too much?

So, I figure I'd see what others thought.  Which do you like - the raku-like patina, or the green/blue?  OR . . . forget the patinas - just show me the metal.    And make it shiny, too.  Where do you stand?

And here's a sneak peak at what I'll be blogging about on Friday.  What do you think this is . . . carved polymer, a carved eraser, a cookie or bronze clay?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Marvelous Monday

Maria Goti is a 26 year old jeweler/gemmologist from Spain.  You can find her complete jewelry collection on her website, it's extensive and pretty astounding for someone her age.  She's definitely someone I want to keep an eye on.  Her style is modern and she uses a lot of texture, oxidized sterling silver, splashes of gold and gemstones. 

I had originally seen Maria's work on Flickr.  She has some amazing sculptural rings.  Just be prepared, you may find yourself getting lost in her 45 pages!  Grab yourself a coffee, put your calls on hold, and begin your week with a little inspiration.  I hope you have a marvelous Monday!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Taming the Tangle

Kathy Frey is an artist who makes beautiful sculptural wire jewelry.  Her use of gold and oxidized sterling just hits the spot.  Although trained as a graphic designer, jewelry has always been a passion and Kathy has been a life long maker, designer and crafter. 

The Anenome series was first designed as a suede belt accent for an evening gown.  Her Anenome Brooch is pictured below.   Do you see sort of skinner blend in this piece?  It's what she calls a gradient patina technique.  She dips the piece in liver of sulfur in intervals with rinsing it under cold water in between.  Quite nice.

She restrains from the use of color in her work, yet the addition of it in small amounts is powerful.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Do You Have Controller Clutter?

I love it when I find a product that's simple, has a nice design and solves a problem, especially one that has to do with organizing. There's a shop on Etsy called laboratory424 that makes clips for computers and video games. Like most people, I'm not a big fan of clutter.  We have a Wii and I think this looks like a really nice clean solution to ending some of our controller clutter.  They come in an assortment of colors and designed in such a way that you can adjust them to suit your needs.

And here's their video showing the process.