Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Canyonlands - Utah


  Canyonlands is a wilderness of rock.  It is vast and sculptural and colorful.  It is fascinating to see the various rock formations, canyons, and mountains that make up the expanse of this National Park.
There are three areas, Island in the Sky, The Maze, and the Needles.  The Maze and the Needles were a little too remote and needed a 4 wheel drive, lots of water and supplies.  We explored the Island in the Sky.  From the broad mesa, you can see views spread before you that stretch for a hundred miles in front of you and 1200 miles beneath you.  Views abound that take your breath away and are difficult to comprehend. 
 

Rain is scarce but it is spring/summer and when we rounded a corner we had to stop and look.  There below the very tall rock formation were a lovely variety of wildflowers blooming.  What a sight!
Yellow and purple wildflowers

Quite the View!
Lizards find rock shelves where they can bask or get into the shade to cool.  They really blend into the rocks.
There are a variety of breathtaking rock formations.
There are no services or water available except at the visitor center.  It’s really important to be prepared... water, food, hat, binoculars, camera, good climbing/walking shoes and a map from the visitor center!  I took my sketchbook and have so many ideas for jewelry that I know it will take until the next trip to produce them.  Take a look at the Canyonlands Bangle from last week's post for instance!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Canyonland's Bangle

As most of you know, my Tuesday blogs for a few weeks will be about my trip to several Utah monuments and parks.  Friday blogs usually have something to do with jewelry and creativity. 
I always take a sketch pad and camera with me on trips.  So many things I see spark an idea for a piece of jewelry I want to make.  This trip was no different and one of the ideas I had after seeing the magnificent rock formations was to combine the vertical slabs of rock with the angled layers. 
Since I’ve been taking several polymer clay classes, I decided that would be the medium.  Rock colors (copper, black, white, gold) mixed with some metallic mica powder and pepper represents the minerals.  I made some canes that combined the colors and that I could flatten for the long vertical rock formations.  For those of you who don’t know what a polymer clay cane is, picture a long cylinder of clay that has a design running through it.  You slice off a thin slab and apply it to a base of clay.  That’s how I got the dark edge around some of the rocks.
The center twist reminds me of the angled organic looking rocks and the gold foil represents the sun hitting the rocks at different times of the day. 
The coke can is the right size for a medium size bangle and it is so easy to use as a round form. 
Once I was satisfied with the bracelet, I fired it in my little oven at 250 for 30 minutes.    I’ll seal it and have a very unique Canyonland’s bangle to remind me of a great camping trip!
 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Study of Rock Formations, Textures and Colors – Day 1

The first day of our trip led us through Flagstaff AZ with the beautiful juniper and pine forests, past Sunset Crater, Wupatki National Monument, and Navajo National Monument.  We stopped at those three places on the way home.  The Little Colorado River has a dramatic bridge alongside the road where we climbed around on rocks to look down into the river.  I started looking at the dry river bed with the idea of making texture plates for jewelry.  This one would be great to imbed in wet clay.


Spaces were vast and sometimes the placement of the advertising made me smile!






With lots of interesting cacti and wildflowers! 

We wanted to get to Monument Valley and camp there for the night.  Never have I seen so many rental RV’s as I did on this trip.  All the campgrounds were full and this was early in the season!  We drove through the monument and took some side roads when all of a sudden we saw a very large arrow pointing into the ground with ‘Sleeping Bear Campgrounds’ printed on it.  No one was in the campground.  I mean no one!  It was clean, had an outhouse (with a cushion seat) and a nice picnic table. It also had a sweat lodge.  We set up camp.
Morning View

Setting up camp for us is pretty easy.  We set up the camp stove and while Peter got his homemade chili heating and my salad ready, I blew up our mattress and got the sleeping bags ready.  We had a yummy dinner and watched the sun set on those gorgeous mountains.  Morning came, a few birds sang and we fixed breakfast.  Coffee never tasted so good!  The owner of the campgrounds came but no one else ever did. 
It became apparent that this trip was going to be about rocks, colors, textures and formations as we drove to Mexican Hat.  There is no doubt why the town was named after the Mexican sombrero.  The balanced rock makes a great landmark!
Mexican Hat
Color and Shape
Look at the smaller formations within the larger mountain

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sometimes You Just Have to Try It!


Trying something new!  I was in Joann’s recently and was looking for a Nifty Knitter to see if I could make chain with it.  There were several sizes of round plastic disc with a series of knobs or spokes to wrap yarn around.  The smallest one was 4” in diameter and while I wanted something to make a larger diameter chain I thought 4” might be a little large.  Then I saw the specialty knitter.  Check out that picture!
Nifty Knitter Specialty Loom
Several posts ago, I compared a spool knitter with another product and now I have to share this one! http://www.lindabrittdesign.blogspot.com/2012/02/adventure-of-making-chain.html  I made my purchase and went home to try different gauge wire with it. I found the technique for the Nifty Knitter’s to be very similar to the Spool Knitter.  Using the small end for knitting lets the knitted wire pull through the center hole with no problem – just like the wooden Spool Knitter did. This plastic one was a little easier to hold.  It went so well, I made this necklace and put the knitted chain through a draw plate.  This evened out the knitting some and made it a little more durable.  There are two strands of magenta silk cord threaded through the chain and the shell drop is attached to the cord.  That gives the necklace a nice organic look I think. 
26 gauge wire knitted on the Nifty Knitter
I wanted to see how thick a gauge wire I could use and found that a 22 is good.  Here’s the chain in 22 that I also pulled through a drawplate.
22 gauge wire knitted on Nifty Knitter and pulled through a drawplate
And then I decided to knit on the larger end….the knitting went well until I tried to pull the knitted wire through the center hole.  The knitted wire feeds through the center allowing you to make the chain any length.  If you look at the Nifty Knitter you will see the large end going to the small end with a neck in the middle.  The larger diameter knitting would not pull through the ‘neck’ and I ended up taking the knobs or spokes out and removing the knitted wire from the top.  As you can see, I have a blue chili pepper or something I don’t want to discuss!  Any ideas on how to use this creation?   I really just had to share this experience. 
Blue Chili?  22 gauge wire - 5" long!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Birthday Trip in Arizona and Utah

Last night we returned from a week of camping and driving and exploring some of Utah's monuments and parks.  We celebrated my 65th birthday with this trip and it did take my mind off the number of years.  Something about that number that makes me ... nervous!


Camping with Peter is so easy.  We took Peter's incredibly delicious chili and a salad for the first night's adventure.  He is very good about finding lovely secluded places to camp.  Most of the places we landed either had no campgrounds or they were full.  I like to think of it as being 'closer' to nature.
Our supplies included lots of water, canned chicken, bread, various kinds of soup, cokes, cereal, milk, bananas and coffee!  We were sure we could find a store and reload supplies.

Utah has vast areas where there are very few towns with few stores (at least the part we traveled).  We stopped at Moab and had a wonderful lunch, got gas and continued on.  We explored Monument Valley, Natural Bridges, Watupki, Canyonlands and lots more.  Incredible scenery, lots of cultural history and time to be part of vast open spaces. 

I will be sharing those excursions each Tuesday for the next several weeks.  It's a good way to share pictures and my journal.  I used "My Daily Journal" app for my ipad and had a lot of fun experimenting with it.



So tune in next Tuesday for the first chapter of my birthday travels.



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May and My Love of Hats

May makes me think of hats…maybe it’s the Kentucky Derby.  Maybe it’s remembering the black straw with the big turned up brim that I wore to church in high school.  Such a fashion statement!  Or it could have been the hot pink derby hat I wore with the faux black suit I designed in college.  Whatever it is, May just says ‘HATS’ to me. 
You might like to check out this link to see the current Kentucky Derby Hats!   http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/04/living/kentucky-derby-hats/index.html?hpt=hp_abar
I thought it might be a great time to share the story of one of my vintage hats that is on my etsy site www.etsy.com/shop/brittdesign .
Many years ago, I started collecting hats.  I love to wear hats that are unusual and as people discovered my love, they started giving me their old ones.  One of those gifts was this Archie Eason hat that looks like three doves were swooping around and decided to land on my head.  It was just unique enough to become one of my favorites.  I also love to research fashion items and see who made them, where and why.  The why is harder!

First label

Archie Eason Hat
As I researched, I found that his trademark was the green rhinestone.  He designed in the 1950’s – 1970’s and I would love to know who wore this hat and to what function!  I found his niece on the internet (isn’t it just an amazing tool?) and sent her the pictures.  Her aunt, Archie’s wife, told her that this hat with the signed label inside was one of his early creations.   His niece also wrote, “He created hats for Mamie Eisenhauer and Queen Elizabeth, numerous other famous people. The movie Bonnie and Clyde that Faye Dunnaway wore the Berets in was his creations and started a craze for berets.  He also created the head dresses for the Miss America pageant one year.  Archie was a very flamboyant person as you can tell from this particular hat.”  What a treasure!

Green Rhinestone Trademark

By the way, I have worn this hat to a couple of special birthday parties with a hat theme and had a great time.  Hats are certainly personality showcases!
 
I think it needs to come forward and perhaps have a different outfit!  But it was a great birthday party!


Friday, May 4, 2012

How much is 10 Grams of Silver Metal Clay?

May 26 (mark that date on your calendar!) I’m teaching a silver metal clay class at Bead-It in Prescott AZ.  I placed a limit of 5 people on the class so if you are interested call Bead-It (928-445-9234).  Yes, this is free advertising!!

We are going to make a pendant from 10 grams of silver clay with a fold-over bail with tiny clay shapes and a CZ gemstone.  Because I want the class to be somewhat cost effective, I ordered 10 grams of silver clay for each student.  I’m used to having packets of 50 grams of clay to work with and I really need to know how big a piece the students can make from the 10 gram packet. 
10 grams of silver metal clay next to a penny

My task was to make a pendant as an example and to show at the bead store enticing students to sign up.  Yesterday I designed and made the piece.  And yes, I used every bit of the clay.  Today I torch fired the pendant and finished it. 


It was my first time to torch fire a CZ stone.  CZ or Cubic Zirconia is a man-made faceted stone that can withstand the heat of firing in the metal clay.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_zirconiais  It worked fine.  So I’m ready for the class.  I’m giving guidelines (not patterns) for the project because I love to see the creativity of each student.  I’ll share the finished work in June.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tracing My Jewelry History


Mother's Cool Necklace




When I was young, I wanted jewelry like my mother's.  She was an art teacher and pretty cool.  I always wanted to be grown up like her!  I even wore her white wedge shoes to school in the 6th grade without her knowing.  Yes, our feet were the same size then and, yes, the teacher did call my mother!





When I was in college in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I was first an “everything must match girl” before I moved into the hippie flower child period of bright colors and macramé.

Matched my red suit!


Macrame!  And this was Mom's too!!

 When I married, my husband made our wedding rings from pieces of family gold jewelry and some new.  He finished them the evening before the wedding.  Fortunately for me, his mother and father had taught him the value of good handmade.  The rings are timeless and beautiful. 
When I was working as an interior designer, my jewelry was usually ethnic .Since I lived in the Southwest part of that time, I learned Navajo weaving and was enamored with American Indian silver and turquoise.  My dad and brothers also had mined ‘Mojave Stone’ in the Mojave Desert and local Missouri silversmith’s made one of a kind pieces for him that I claimed!  In fact, when I went back to visit the family, my mother always threatened to go through my suitcase to see what jewelry was leaving her collection!  I always liked what she wore. 
Now that I have retired as an interior designer and am making my own jewelry, I usually wear something I’ve made.  The funny thing is that I often forget to put any jewelry on and have to go back and accessorize.  I like the process of designing and making.  And I understand the value of test driving the pieces by wearing them.  I also like showing them to anyone interested!  Check out my etsy store to see some: www.etsy.com/lindabrittdesign
I'd love to hear how you have changed in your selections of jewelry and why!  Please share.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Canyonlands - Utah


  Canyonlands is a wilderness of rock.  It is vast and sculptural and colorful.  It is fascinating to see the various rock formations, canyons, and mountains that make up the expanse of this National Park.
There are three areas, Island in the Sky, The Maze, and the Needles.  The Maze and the Needles were a little too remote and needed a 4 wheel drive, lots of water and supplies.  We explored the Island in the Sky.  From the broad mesa, you can see views spread before you that stretch for a hundred miles in front of you and 1200 miles beneath you.  Views abound that take your breath away and are difficult to comprehend. 
 

Rain is scarce but it is spring/summer and when we rounded a corner we had to stop and look.  There below the very tall rock formation were a lovely variety of wildflowers blooming.  What a sight!
Yellow and purple wildflowers

Quite the View!
Lizards find rock shelves where they can bask or get into the shade to cool.  They really blend into the rocks.
There are a variety of breathtaking rock formations.
There are no services or water available except at the visitor center.  It’s really important to be prepared... water, food, hat, binoculars, camera, good climbing/walking shoes and a map from the visitor center!  I took my sketchbook and have so many ideas for jewelry that I know it will take until the next trip to produce them.  Take a look at the Canyonlands Bangle from last week's post for instance!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Canyonland's Bangle

As most of you know, my Tuesday blogs for a few weeks will be about my trip to several Utah monuments and parks.  Friday blogs usually have something to do with jewelry and creativity. 
I always take a sketch pad and camera with me on trips.  So many things I see spark an idea for a piece of jewelry I want to make.  This trip was no different and one of the ideas I had after seeing the magnificent rock formations was to combine the vertical slabs of rock with the angled layers. 
Since I’ve been taking several polymer clay classes, I decided that would be the medium.  Rock colors (copper, black, white, gold) mixed with some metallic mica powder and pepper represents the minerals.  I made some canes that combined the colors and that I could flatten for the long vertical rock formations.  For those of you who don’t know what a polymer clay cane is, picture a long cylinder of clay that has a design running through it.  You slice off a thin slab and apply it to a base of clay.  That’s how I got the dark edge around some of the rocks.
The center twist reminds me of the angled organic looking rocks and the gold foil represents the sun hitting the rocks at different times of the day. 
The coke can is the right size for a medium size bangle and it is so easy to use as a round form. 
Once I was satisfied with the bracelet, I fired it in my little oven at 250 for 30 minutes.    I’ll seal it and have a very unique Canyonland’s bangle to remind me of a great camping trip!
 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Study of Rock Formations, Textures and Colors – Day 1

The first day of our trip led us through Flagstaff AZ with the beautiful juniper and pine forests, past Sunset Crater, Wupatki National Monument, and Navajo National Monument.  We stopped at those three places on the way home.  The Little Colorado River has a dramatic bridge alongside the road where we climbed around on rocks to look down into the river.  I started looking at the dry river bed with the idea of making texture plates for jewelry.  This one would be great to imbed in wet clay.


Spaces were vast and sometimes the placement of the advertising made me smile!






With lots of interesting cacti and wildflowers! 

We wanted to get to Monument Valley and camp there for the night.  Never have I seen so many rental RV’s as I did on this trip.  All the campgrounds were full and this was early in the season!  We drove through the monument and took some side roads when all of a sudden we saw a very large arrow pointing into the ground with ‘Sleeping Bear Campgrounds’ printed on it.  No one was in the campground.  I mean no one!  It was clean, had an outhouse (with a cushion seat) and a nice picnic table. It also had a sweat lodge.  We set up camp.
Morning View

Setting up camp for us is pretty easy.  We set up the camp stove and while Peter got his homemade chili heating and my salad ready, I blew up our mattress and got the sleeping bags ready.  We had a yummy dinner and watched the sun set on those gorgeous mountains.  Morning came, a few birds sang and we fixed breakfast.  Coffee never tasted so good!  The owner of the campgrounds came but no one else ever did. 
It became apparent that this trip was going to be about rocks, colors, textures and formations as we drove to Mexican Hat.  There is no doubt why the town was named after the Mexican sombrero.  The balanced rock makes a great landmark!
Mexican Hat
Color and Shape
Look at the smaller formations within the larger mountain

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sometimes You Just Have to Try It!


Trying something new!  I was in Joann’s recently and was looking for a Nifty Knitter to see if I could make chain with it.  There were several sizes of round plastic disc with a series of knobs or spokes to wrap yarn around.  The smallest one was 4” in diameter and while I wanted something to make a larger diameter chain I thought 4” might be a little large.  Then I saw the specialty knitter.  Check out that picture!
Nifty Knitter Specialty Loom
Several posts ago, I compared a spool knitter with another product and now I have to share this one! http://www.lindabrittdesign.blogspot.com/2012/02/adventure-of-making-chain.html  I made my purchase and went home to try different gauge wire with it. I found the technique for the Nifty Knitter’s to be very similar to the Spool Knitter.  Using the small end for knitting lets the knitted wire pull through the center hole with no problem – just like the wooden Spool Knitter did. This plastic one was a little easier to hold.  It went so well, I made this necklace and put the knitted chain through a draw plate.  This evened out the knitting some and made it a little more durable.  There are two strands of magenta silk cord threaded through the chain and the shell drop is attached to the cord.  That gives the necklace a nice organic look I think. 
26 gauge wire knitted on the Nifty Knitter
I wanted to see how thick a gauge wire I could use and found that a 22 is good.  Here’s the chain in 22 that I also pulled through a drawplate.
22 gauge wire knitted on Nifty Knitter and pulled through a drawplate
And then I decided to knit on the larger end….the knitting went well until I tried to pull the knitted wire through the center hole.  The knitted wire feeds through the center allowing you to make the chain any length.  If you look at the Nifty Knitter you will see the large end going to the small end with a neck in the middle.  The larger diameter knitting would not pull through the ‘neck’ and I ended up taking the knobs or spokes out and removing the knitted wire from the top.  As you can see, I have a blue chili pepper or something I don’t want to discuss!  Any ideas on how to use this creation?   I really just had to share this experience. 
Blue Chili?  22 gauge wire - 5" long!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Birthday Trip in Arizona and Utah

Last night we returned from a week of camping and driving and exploring some of Utah's monuments and parks.  We celebrated my 65th birthday with this trip and it did take my mind off the number of years.  Something about that number that makes me ... nervous!


Camping with Peter is so easy.  We took Peter's incredibly delicious chili and a salad for the first night's adventure.  He is very good about finding lovely secluded places to camp.  Most of the places we landed either had no campgrounds or they were full.  I like to think of it as being 'closer' to nature.
Our supplies included lots of water, canned chicken, bread, various kinds of soup, cokes, cereal, milk, bananas and coffee!  We were sure we could find a store and reload supplies.

Utah has vast areas where there are very few towns with few stores (at least the part we traveled).  We stopped at Moab and had a wonderful lunch, got gas and continued on.  We explored Monument Valley, Natural Bridges, Watupki, Canyonlands and lots more.  Incredible scenery, lots of cultural history and time to be part of vast open spaces. 

I will be sharing those excursions each Tuesday for the next several weeks.  It's a good way to share pictures and my journal.  I used "My Daily Journal" app for my ipad and had a lot of fun experimenting with it.



So tune in next Tuesday for the first chapter of my birthday travels.



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May and My Love of Hats

May makes me think of hats…maybe it’s the Kentucky Derby.  Maybe it’s remembering the black straw with the big turned up brim that I wore to church in high school.  Such a fashion statement!  Or it could have been the hot pink derby hat I wore with the faux black suit I designed in college.  Whatever it is, May just says ‘HATS’ to me. 
You might like to check out this link to see the current Kentucky Derby Hats!   http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/04/living/kentucky-derby-hats/index.html?hpt=hp_abar
I thought it might be a great time to share the story of one of my vintage hats that is on my etsy site www.etsy.com/shop/brittdesign .
Many years ago, I started collecting hats.  I love to wear hats that are unusual and as people discovered my love, they started giving me their old ones.  One of those gifts was this Archie Eason hat that looks like three doves were swooping around and decided to land on my head.  It was just unique enough to become one of my favorites.  I also love to research fashion items and see who made them, where and why.  The why is harder!

First label

Archie Eason Hat
As I researched, I found that his trademark was the green rhinestone.  He designed in the 1950’s – 1970’s and I would love to know who wore this hat and to what function!  I found his niece on the internet (isn’t it just an amazing tool?) and sent her the pictures.  Her aunt, Archie’s wife, told her that this hat with the signed label inside was one of his early creations.   His niece also wrote, “He created hats for Mamie Eisenhauer and Queen Elizabeth, numerous other famous people. The movie Bonnie and Clyde that Faye Dunnaway wore the Berets in was his creations and started a craze for berets.  He also created the head dresses for the Miss America pageant one year.  Archie was a very flamboyant person as you can tell from this particular hat.”  What a treasure!

Green Rhinestone Trademark

By the way, I have worn this hat to a couple of special birthday parties with a hat theme and had a great time.  Hats are certainly personality showcases!
 
I think it needs to come forward and perhaps have a different outfit!  But it was a great birthday party!


Friday, May 4, 2012

How much is 10 Grams of Silver Metal Clay?

May 26 (mark that date on your calendar!) I’m teaching a silver metal clay class at Bead-It in Prescott AZ.  I placed a limit of 5 people on the class so if you are interested call Bead-It (928-445-9234).  Yes, this is free advertising!!

We are going to make a pendant from 10 grams of silver clay with a fold-over bail with tiny clay shapes and a CZ gemstone.  Because I want the class to be somewhat cost effective, I ordered 10 grams of silver clay for each student.  I’m used to having packets of 50 grams of clay to work with and I really need to know how big a piece the students can make from the 10 gram packet. 
10 grams of silver metal clay next to a penny

My task was to make a pendant as an example and to show at the bead store enticing students to sign up.  Yesterday I designed and made the piece.  And yes, I used every bit of the clay.  Today I torch fired the pendant and finished it. 


It was my first time to torch fire a CZ stone.  CZ or Cubic Zirconia is a man-made faceted stone that can withstand the heat of firing in the metal clay.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_zirconiais  It worked fine.  So I’m ready for the class.  I’m giving guidelines (not patterns) for the project because I love to see the creativity of each student.  I’ll share the finished work in June.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tracing My Jewelry History


Mother's Cool Necklace




When I was young, I wanted jewelry like my mother's.  She was an art teacher and pretty cool.  I always wanted to be grown up like her!  I even wore her white wedge shoes to school in the 6th grade without her knowing.  Yes, our feet were the same size then and, yes, the teacher did call my mother!





When I was in college in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I was first an “everything must match girl” before I moved into the hippie flower child period of bright colors and macramé.

Matched my red suit!


Macrame!  And this was Mom's too!!

 When I married, my husband made our wedding rings from pieces of family gold jewelry and some new.  He finished them the evening before the wedding.  Fortunately for me, his mother and father had taught him the value of good handmade.  The rings are timeless and beautiful. 
When I was working as an interior designer, my jewelry was usually ethnic .Since I lived in the Southwest part of that time, I learned Navajo weaving and was enamored with American Indian silver and turquoise.  My dad and brothers also had mined ‘Mojave Stone’ in the Mojave Desert and local Missouri silversmith’s made one of a kind pieces for him that I claimed!  In fact, when I went back to visit the family, my mother always threatened to go through my suitcase to see what jewelry was leaving her collection!  I always liked what she wore. 
Now that I have retired as an interior designer and am making my own jewelry, I usually wear something I’ve made.  The funny thing is that I often forget to put any jewelry on and have to go back and accessorize.  I like the process of designing and making.  And I understand the value of test driving the pieces by wearing them.  I also like showing them to anyone interested!  Check out my etsy store to see some: www.etsy.com/lindabrittdesign
I'd love to hear how you have changed in your selections of jewelry and why!  Please share.