Friday, October 28, 2011

Learning As We Go!

Viking knit is the oldest method of chain making and I've become fascinated by it.  Once I conquered the single knit, I decided to add beads.  I could have googled or asked how it was done but it seemed like something I could just figure out.  And I've learned a lot as I proceeded first with tumbled turquoise beads and then with pearls.  I thought I'd share a few of the things I've learned. 

Iif you want a great tutorial on viking knit technique, Trina Ann at http://blog.trinaann.com/ has written a clear concise easy to understand tutorial.  I highly recommend it. 

 
Tumbled tuquoise beads in viking knit

I used tumbled turquoise beads in the first viking knit chain and I did not really know what I was doing.  But I went right ahead and as it turned out, I liked the end result.  Since the beads were irregular in shape there was a random quality to the finished product.

During that process, I began to really understand the technique of viking knit.  Loops need to be in as straight a line as possible and pulling the finished chain through the draw holes evened the chain more. 

Nice rows of knit!
When I started the most recent necklace, I decided to use pearls and was careful to keep the lines of links pretty straight.  I added a pearl inbetween each loop for one round and then I did a round with no beads.  That made a cage around each pearl and was easier to  thread the wire correctly without doing too much damage to the pearls. 

Making room for the wire.


Adding a pearl between the loops.

The viking knit loop after adding th pearl.

Ready to start the row of knit without the pearl.
 I really like the finished look of the pearl tube.  If I will use them again I will wrap or cushion them some way because they are so delicate and it is so easy to damage them.   I pulled the chain through the draw holes until I got it the size I wanted on each side of the pearls leaving the chain the original size in the center with the beads.


One half pulled viking chain and one half ready to be pulled.  Notice the difference in the length.

Copper wire makes a lovely chain that can tarnish and if you are sensitive to copper, it can turn your skin green.  I used Everbrite's ProtectaClear in aerosol form www.EverbriteCoatings.com after antiquing the chain with liver of sulphur and am pleased with the result.  Three coats seems to do a good job and shaking the chain loosens the links enough to be flexible.  I also found that spraying the chain flat and then hanging it on a hook to dry works well.

Finished

Have fun with your viking knit creations and let's continue to share our 'learn as we go' experiences!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pouring A Soleri Bell


Just how I felt!

Last week I went to Cosanti, Paolo Soleri’s Gallery in Paradise Valley Arizona.  This is a place I have wanted to go since getting my college design degree. 

Ceiling of the Gallery


Soleri is a world-renowned architectural innovator and Cosanti is a place that he designed and built that features experimental earth-formed concrete structures in terraced landscaping.  It is once again gaining in popularity because it was originally built to be ecologically friendly.  More with less!  It is one of Arizona’s historic sites and over the years many architectural students have studied here. 
Cosanti  (http://www.cosanti.com/ ) is a non-profit organization and  produces bronze bells that Soleri is famous for designing.   There is a foundry on site and I was able to watch the process of the pouring of the bells and of course take pictures.  Some bells are polished, some have patina, some are signed by Soleri and the prices range from $79(sale price) to many thousands.  The natural shapes are highlighted by the sun as they hang from eaves and trees on the site.   Enjoy the pictures of the process. 



Lifting very hot bronze from the heat.

Carefully carrying the molten bronze to the molds.

Getting into position to pour the molten bronze.

Pouring

Molten Bronze

The bronze is cooling in the forms.  The metal (to the right) was removed from the ash forms.


Breaking the ash and finding the bell!

A set of somewhat cooled bells just out of the ash.

A bell that has been cooled and is ready to finish.

I’m inspired by the philosophy and the architecture.  I bet some of my new silver clay pieces will be inspired by this visit.

A vey large bell that hangs in the gallery.



Friday, October 21, 2011

Variations on a Theme – Black and White Keys

Remember how it feels when you see something you’ve always known about and all at once you realize you’ve never really looked at it?  That’s what happened when I started taking pictures of early music keyboard instruments.  I realized that I had never really looked at the black and ivory keys on a keyboard. 

Peter (my significant other) has an avid interest in early music especially the harpsichord.  He planned a trip to England and Scotland around collections of harpsichords, virginals, forte pianos and other early music instruments.  What an amazing trip and I’ll talk about it in other blogs.  He also planned a trip to the National Museum of Music in Vermillion South Dakota.  Check out their website and you just might want to go too!  http://orgs.usd.edu/nmm/ 
 After taking hundreds of pictures of keyboards, I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the variations.  Remember my previous posts about ‘The difference is in the details’?  Here is another example.  This post is just about the keyboard – the black and white keys, their edges, and decorations.  I’m not going to go into the technical issues here so don’t stop reading yet!
As a teenager, I taught music using a modern piano so I know about the octaves, the naturals and the accidentals for sharps and flats.  I did not know about earlier keyboard instruments like harpsichords and forte pianos.  I did not know anything about the history of the keyboard.  
In researching the keyboard I found that long and short keys dates back to the 15th century.  In general, the colors were reversed to ours.  The long keys were black usually made of ebony and the short keys were light usually made of ivory or white bone covering wood.  When those materials were not used, Boxwood was used for the lighter keys and the black keys were ebony or rosewood stained with iron dissolved in acid.  In the 18th century fashion changed and dictated the long keys be white and the short keys be black.   The edges and the fronts of the keys had a variety of decorations that captured my interest as I focused on them.  Just enjoy the pictures below and the variation on this theme!


















Have you ever heard JS Bach played on the instruments of his time, harpsichords and clavichords?  If not, it just be worth your time to listen!  A number of modern day performers play these instruments.  Look for Trevor Pinnock, Pierre Hanti,  Roberty Woolley on Amazon. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Owls Get a Bad Rap!

  In many cultures, owls are omens of death, destruction and harbingers of bad luck.  Fortunately in our Western culture, we see owls as a symbol of wisdom.  Their image is used often in our art.  And the ‘scary’ Barn Owl is associated with Halloween.  The Barn Owl is white and hunts at night taking on a ‘ghostly’ quality in moonlight and their screech ends abruptly sounding like someone just died.  Good time to find out more about owls!

It turns out there are 19 species of owls in the U.S. and over 200 species in the world.  Many of them like the climate and terrain of Arizona.  I’ve seen only a few because they hunt during the night and rest during the day.  Just opposite of my activities!   
Great Horned Owl - Portal AZ


Owls have large round heads, forward facing big eyes (about the size of ours), sharp beaks and long strong talons.  The placement of their eyes allows them to see straight ahead (binocular vision) as well as incorporating the side vision of each eye giving them about a 110 degree field of vision.  The binocular vision allows them to see things in 3 dimensions and judge distance much like we do.  No wonder their eyes are so fascinating to us. 
Their ears are behind the eyes and are covered with feathers – ear tufts in most species.  The feathers are used for displaying and not hearing.  Their ability to fly silently combined with their acute hearing make them great predators on night hunts.
Some owls have feathers covering their feet –protection from cold weather and maybe help with sensing their prey when they attack.   Each foot has four toes and as you would expect three toes face forward and one backward making it easy to perch on a branch or clutch their prey.  What I did not know is that the outer front toe on each foot swivels to face the rear because of a flexible joint.  Isn’t that convenient for them?
If an owl is relaxed, his feathers are fluffy and if he is on alert, he and his feathers will become streamlined.

There is a Great Horned Owl that lives at the local Lowe’s in Prescott.  We’ve named him Otis and always look for him when we go there.  He has a female friend and I understand they have had several clutches of babies.  Great Horned Owls can be 2 feet tall, weigh 3 pounds and have a wing span of 55 inches.  Big! 
Two Burrowing Owls - CA.
The Burrowing Owl is a small owl that lives underground.  He is often seen on fence posts and in dirt fields.  We always look for them along the banks of fields as we drive through farm country in Arizona and California.  There is a program to save them from housing developments and an interesting video you might enjoy.  http://www.azgfd.gov/video/BurrowingOwls.shtml
Northern Saw-Whet Owl - Tucson AZ
The Northern Saw-Whet Owl is found in high elevations in Southeastern Arizona.  We were very fortunate to find this small owl tucked in a tree on one of our walks in much lower elevation.  Their call sounds like the whetting of a saw.  When they are threatened, they elongate their bodies to look like a tree branch.

One night, we were having dinner at a friend’s house in Tucson and spotted a Western Screech Owl that was roosting under the eaves.  That was a great conversation booster and of course, I had to take a picture. 

Western Screech Owl - Tucson AZ

Owls are beautiful birds

http://a-z-animals.com/media/animals/images/original/barn_owl8.jpg



Friday, October 14, 2011

Getting Ready to Teach a Class

Sometimes when you finish a project or in my case a piece of jewelry, you just want to show it to someone.  So I took my just finished necklace, bracelet and earrings to show my friend, Kim, at Bead-It here in Prescott.   This group of jewelry was my experiment into using sheet metals with eyelets and rivets. 
 She had asked earlier if I wanted to teach a class in cold connections and I agreed.  Cold connections are ways to connect individual parts and make a piece of jewelry without soldering or using a kiln.  I’ve learned many techniques at the classes I’ve taken in cold connections from some of the best teachers – Susan Lenart Kazmer and Deryn Mentock .  So I thought why not?
Well, Kim was as excited about my new pieces as I was and so I will be teaching how to make this necklace. 

In order to teach a class of 4 to 6 people, I need to be organized!  So I’ve started a syllabus with a list of materials needed and how much the cost of materials will be.  I have an outline of what to do when and I need to be able to duplicate the concept of the necklace.  I don’t want to make an exact replica because each piece I make is handmade and unique.  But it does need to include eyelets, rivets, wire wrap, hammering, and texturing. 
Last night I sat down to make a similar necklace to the one for the class.  I had my pen and paper and tape measure.  I would write down the steps and measure the lengths of wire and have all my ducks in a row! 






The class is Oct. 29 (Sat) at Bead-IT
Somewhere between step 2 and 3 I took a detour and got involved in creating a different piece or two!  I forgot all about my mission!  I love the new pieces and laughed out loud at myself getting off track! 
Now I need to try again and stick with the program!  As a friend from WLWSSC (the facebook group of artists I belong to) pointed out: I’ll have more variations on a theme to teach the class. 
My teacher's websites!  Thought I'd give credit where credit is due!
Deryn Mentock :  http://somethingsublime.typepad.com/   

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Much Maligned Mushroom



see the silver metal clay pendant at the end of this post
 I have to confess that I am not a mushroom lover.  I also must confess that I am intrigued with their appearance and have taken a great many photos of them from the east coast to the west; from forests to mountains and in my brother’s front yard in Missouri. 
Many of the books I read (you know- the romance novels about Ireland and Scotland) often talk about the importance of fungi in medical treatment and in witch’s brews!  So I thought October would be a great month to share some of those pictures as well as share some of their history.
The ancient Egyptians (about 4600 years ago according to hieroglyphics) thought the mushroom was the plant of immortality.  Mushrooms were declared to be the food for only royalty; no commoners could touch them much less eat them.  Other civilizations thought the mushroom could provide superhuman strength and could lead the souls of men to the land of the gods.
 
Louis XIV is thought to be one of the first mushroom gardeners and France to be the leader in mushroom cultivation.   In the 19th century, mushrooms were cultivated in the United States and we know today many are nutritional and medicinal. 

There are over 100,000 species of fungi so my photographic documentation has just begun!
Our pine tree forests (I live in one) would not exist without these plants growing among the tree roots.  The mushroom helps the host tree with ‘mineral nutrition, resistance to disease and water stress under drought conditions.’ (Peterson Field Guides Mushrooms)  Mushrooms are also important to nutrient recycling in nature and are a food source for animals.  The variety of shapes and sizes, color and kinds of places the fungi grows surprises me.  They grow on trees, under logs, and in grass. 


  Some are edible and some are deadly.  I don’t gather them or eat them.  I just take their pictures and enjoy their visual imagery.  Mushrooms are one of nature’s many visual details that inspire me. 
 
silver metal clay mushroom





Friday, October 28, 2011

Learning As We Go!

Viking knit is the oldest method of chain making and I've become fascinated by it.  Once I conquered the single knit, I decided to add beads.  I could have googled or asked how it was done but it seemed like something I could just figure out.  And I've learned a lot as I proceeded first with tumbled turquoise beads and then with pearls.  I thought I'd share a few of the things I've learned. 

Iif you want a great tutorial on viking knit technique, Trina Ann at http://blog.trinaann.com/ has written a clear concise easy to understand tutorial.  I highly recommend it. 

 
Tumbled tuquoise beads in viking knit

I used tumbled turquoise beads in the first viking knit chain and I did not really know what I was doing.  But I went right ahead and as it turned out, I liked the end result.  Since the beads were irregular in shape there was a random quality to the finished product.

During that process, I began to really understand the technique of viking knit.  Loops need to be in as straight a line as possible and pulling the finished chain through the draw holes evened the chain more. 

Nice rows of knit!
When I started the most recent necklace, I decided to use pearls and was careful to keep the lines of links pretty straight.  I added a pearl inbetween each loop for one round and then I did a round with no beads.  That made a cage around each pearl and was easier to  thread the wire correctly without doing too much damage to the pearls. 

Making room for the wire.


Adding a pearl between the loops.

The viking knit loop after adding th pearl.

Ready to start the row of knit without the pearl.
 I really like the finished look of the pearl tube.  If I will use them again I will wrap or cushion them some way because they are so delicate and it is so easy to damage them.   I pulled the chain through the draw holes until I got it the size I wanted on each side of the pearls leaving the chain the original size in the center with the beads.


One half pulled viking chain and one half ready to be pulled.  Notice the difference in the length.

Copper wire makes a lovely chain that can tarnish and if you are sensitive to copper, it can turn your skin green.  I used Everbrite's ProtectaClear in aerosol form www.EverbriteCoatings.com after antiquing the chain with liver of sulphur and am pleased with the result.  Three coats seems to do a good job and shaking the chain loosens the links enough to be flexible.  I also found that spraying the chain flat and then hanging it on a hook to dry works well.

Finished

Have fun with your viking knit creations and let's continue to share our 'learn as we go' experiences!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pouring A Soleri Bell


Just how I felt!

Last week I went to Cosanti, Paolo Soleri’s Gallery in Paradise Valley Arizona.  This is a place I have wanted to go since getting my college design degree. 

Ceiling of the Gallery


Soleri is a world-renowned architectural innovator and Cosanti is a place that he designed and built that features experimental earth-formed concrete structures in terraced landscaping.  It is once again gaining in popularity because it was originally built to be ecologically friendly.  More with less!  It is one of Arizona’s historic sites and over the years many architectural students have studied here. 
Cosanti  (http://www.cosanti.com/ ) is a non-profit organization and  produces bronze bells that Soleri is famous for designing.   There is a foundry on site and I was able to watch the process of the pouring of the bells and of course take pictures.  Some bells are polished, some have patina, some are signed by Soleri and the prices range from $79(sale price) to many thousands.  The natural shapes are highlighted by the sun as they hang from eaves and trees on the site.   Enjoy the pictures of the process. 



Lifting very hot bronze from the heat.

Carefully carrying the molten bronze to the molds.

Getting into position to pour the molten bronze.

Pouring

Molten Bronze

The bronze is cooling in the forms.  The metal (to the right) was removed from the ash forms.


Breaking the ash and finding the bell!

A set of somewhat cooled bells just out of the ash.

A bell that has been cooled and is ready to finish.

I’m inspired by the philosophy and the architecture.  I bet some of my new silver clay pieces will be inspired by this visit.

A vey large bell that hangs in the gallery.



Friday, October 21, 2011

Variations on a Theme – Black and White Keys

Remember how it feels when you see something you’ve always known about and all at once you realize you’ve never really looked at it?  That’s what happened when I started taking pictures of early music keyboard instruments.  I realized that I had never really looked at the black and ivory keys on a keyboard. 

Peter (my significant other) has an avid interest in early music especially the harpsichord.  He planned a trip to England and Scotland around collections of harpsichords, virginals, forte pianos and other early music instruments.  What an amazing trip and I’ll talk about it in other blogs.  He also planned a trip to the National Museum of Music in Vermillion South Dakota.  Check out their website and you just might want to go too!  http://orgs.usd.edu/nmm/ 
 After taking hundreds of pictures of keyboards, I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the variations.  Remember my previous posts about ‘The difference is in the details’?  Here is another example.  This post is just about the keyboard – the black and white keys, their edges, and decorations.  I’m not going to go into the technical issues here so don’t stop reading yet!
As a teenager, I taught music using a modern piano so I know about the octaves, the naturals and the accidentals for sharps and flats.  I did not know about earlier keyboard instruments like harpsichords and forte pianos.  I did not know anything about the history of the keyboard.  
In researching the keyboard I found that long and short keys dates back to the 15th century.  In general, the colors were reversed to ours.  The long keys were black usually made of ebony and the short keys were light usually made of ivory or white bone covering wood.  When those materials were not used, Boxwood was used for the lighter keys and the black keys were ebony or rosewood stained with iron dissolved in acid.  In the 18th century fashion changed and dictated the long keys be white and the short keys be black.   The edges and the fronts of the keys had a variety of decorations that captured my interest as I focused on them.  Just enjoy the pictures below and the variation on this theme!


















Have you ever heard JS Bach played on the instruments of his time, harpsichords and clavichords?  If not, it just be worth your time to listen!  A number of modern day performers play these instruments.  Look for Trevor Pinnock, Pierre Hanti,  Roberty Woolley on Amazon. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Owls Get a Bad Rap!

  In many cultures, owls are omens of death, destruction and harbingers of bad luck.  Fortunately in our Western culture, we see owls as a symbol of wisdom.  Their image is used often in our art.  And the ‘scary’ Barn Owl is associated with Halloween.  The Barn Owl is white and hunts at night taking on a ‘ghostly’ quality in moonlight and their screech ends abruptly sounding like someone just died.  Good time to find out more about owls!

It turns out there are 19 species of owls in the U.S. and over 200 species in the world.  Many of them like the climate and terrain of Arizona.  I’ve seen only a few because they hunt during the night and rest during the day.  Just opposite of my activities!   
Great Horned Owl - Portal AZ


Owls have large round heads, forward facing big eyes (about the size of ours), sharp beaks and long strong talons.  The placement of their eyes allows them to see straight ahead (binocular vision) as well as incorporating the side vision of each eye giving them about a 110 degree field of vision.  The binocular vision allows them to see things in 3 dimensions and judge distance much like we do.  No wonder their eyes are so fascinating to us. 
Their ears are behind the eyes and are covered with feathers – ear tufts in most species.  The feathers are used for displaying and not hearing.  Their ability to fly silently combined with their acute hearing make them great predators on night hunts.
Some owls have feathers covering their feet –protection from cold weather and maybe help with sensing their prey when they attack.   Each foot has four toes and as you would expect three toes face forward and one backward making it easy to perch on a branch or clutch their prey.  What I did not know is that the outer front toe on each foot swivels to face the rear because of a flexible joint.  Isn’t that convenient for them?
If an owl is relaxed, his feathers are fluffy and if he is on alert, he and his feathers will become streamlined.

There is a Great Horned Owl that lives at the local Lowe’s in Prescott.  We’ve named him Otis and always look for him when we go there.  He has a female friend and I understand they have had several clutches of babies.  Great Horned Owls can be 2 feet tall, weigh 3 pounds and have a wing span of 55 inches.  Big! 
Two Burrowing Owls - CA.
The Burrowing Owl is a small owl that lives underground.  He is often seen on fence posts and in dirt fields.  We always look for them along the banks of fields as we drive through farm country in Arizona and California.  There is a program to save them from housing developments and an interesting video you might enjoy.  http://www.azgfd.gov/video/BurrowingOwls.shtml
Northern Saw-Whet Owl - Tucson AZ
The Northern Saw-Whet Owl is found in high elevations in Southeastern Arizona.  We were very fortunate to find this small owl tucked in a tree on one of our walks in much lower elevation.  Their call sounds like the whetting of a saw.  When they are threatened, they elongate their bodies to look like a tree branch.

One night, we were having dinner at a friend’s house in Tucson and spotted a Western Screech Owl that was roosting under the eaves.  That was a great conversation booster and of course, I had to take a picture. 

Western Screech Owl - Tucson AZ

Owls are beautiful birds

http://a-z-animals.com/media/animals/images/original/barn_owl8.jpg



Friday, October 14, 2011

Getting Ready to Teach a Class

Sometimes when you finish a project or in my case a piece of jewelry, you just want to show it to someone.  So I took my just finished necklace, bracelet and earrings to show my friend, Kim, at Bead-It here in Prescott.   This group of jewelry was my experiment into using sheet metals with eyelets and rivets. 
 She had asked earlier if I wanted to teach a class in cold connections and I agreed.  Cold connections are ways to connect individual parts and make a piece of jewelry without soldering or using a kiln.  I’ve learned many techniques at the classes I’ve taken in cold connections from some of the best teachers – Susan Lenart Kazmer and Deryn Mentock .  So I thought why not?
Well, Kim was as excited about my new pieces as I was and so I will be teaching how to make this necklace. 

In order to teach a class of 4 to 6 people, I need to be organized!  So I’ve started a syllabus with a list of materials needed and how much the cost of materials will be.  I have an outline of what to do when and I need to be able to duplicate the concept of the necklace.  I don’t want to make an exact replica because each piece I make is handmade and unique.  But it does need to include eyelets, rivets, wire wrap, hammering, and texturing. 
Last night I sat down to make a similar necklace to the one for the class.  I had my pen and paper and tape measure.  I would write down the steps and measure the lengths of wire and have all my ducks in a row! 






The class is Oct. 29 (Sat) at Bead-IT
Somewhere between step 2 and 3 I took a detour and got involved in creating a different piece or two!  I forgot all about my mission!  I love the new pieces and laughed out loud at myself getting off track! 
Now I need to try again and stick with the program!  As a friend from WLWSSC (the facebook group of artists I belong to) pointed out: I’ll have more variations on a theme to teach the class. 
My teacher's websites!  Thought I'd give credit where credit is due!
Deryn Mentock :  http://somethingsublime.typepad.com/   

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Much Maligned Mushroom



see the silver metal clay pendant at the end of this post
 I have to confess that I am not a mushroom lover.  I also must confess that I am intrigued with their appearance and have taken a great many photos of them from the east coast to the west; from forests to mountains and in my brother’s front yard in Missouri. 
Many of the books I read (you know- the romance novels about Ireland and Scotland) often talk about the importance of fungi in medical treatment and in witch’s brews!  So I thought October would be a great month to share some of those pictures as well as share some of their history.
The ancient Egyptians (about 4600 years ago according to hieroglyphics) thought the mushroom was the plant of immortality.  Mushrooms were declared to be the food for only royalty; no commoners could touch them much less eat them.  Other civilizations thought the mushroom could provide superhuman strength and could lead the souls of men to the land of the gods.
 
Louis XIV is thought to be one of the first mushroom gardeners and France to be the leader in mushroom cultivation.   In the 19th century, mushrooms were cultivated in the United States and we know today many are nutritional and medicinal. 

There are over 100,000 species of fungi so my photographic documentation has just begun!
Our pine tree forests (I live in one) would not exist without these plants growing among the tree roots.  The mushroom helps the host tree with ‘mineral nutrition, resistance to disease and water stress under drought conditions.’ (Peterson Field Guides Mushrooms)  Mushrooms are also important to nutrient recycling in nature and are a food source for animals.  The variety of shapes and sizes, color and kinds of places the fungi grows surprises me.  They grow on trees, under logs, and in grass. 


  Some are edible and some are deadly.  I don’t gather them or eat them.  I just take their pictures and enjoy their visual imagery.  Mushrooms are one of nature’s many visual details that inspire me. 
 
silver metal clay mushroom