Friday, August 23, 2013

Designing a Bead for a Fabric



My friend, Luana, makes beautiful quilts and fabric purses/bags.  When she asked me to make 4 large beads for the rope she wanted to use in her latest ‘origami’ bag, I was flattered!  And of course I said, ‘sure’.   And we all know it wasn’t as easy as that!
 
I had a package of Sculpey’s Ultralight Clay that had not been opened and I thought this would be a great time to learn to use it.  It was such fun!  I molded lots of large beads with the idea that 4 needed to be about the same size.  These were going to be handcrafted and I did not want them to look perfect (like a machine made them).  After forming the bead and made a large hole in the center, I cured them in my convection oven. 
 

The colors in the fabric turned out to be a challenge with lots of pinks and oranges.  I started polymer flower canes and made several and did not like any of them with the fabric flowers.  I made more.  And then I realized that if I combined the pink canes with the orange canes and added the turquoise canes it just might solve the problem.  And it worked!  I sliced the canes and placed them on a thin polymer backing, smoothed everything into a sheet and cut circles to cover the ultralight beads.  Cured and finished the multi-flowered beads.
 
The only problem was that the holes were not big enough.   Drilling larger holes was so easy.  Absolutely no problem!  The origami purse/bag is finished and we are all happy!  
 
p.s.  I had enough scraps that I made Luana a pair of matching earrings.  Probably over the top to wear all that at once! But it was fun to do .












Friday, August 16, 2013

The Plumes of Prescott – The story behind my pendant design






The stone I selected for my class project is a Plume Agate.   I did not realize how healing the process of setting it into silver metal clay would be.  As you know, Prescott had two fires close by this summer – the Doce Fire and the Yarnell Fire.  It is not possible to have a fire close to your town without being affected.  It is not possible to lose 19 firefighters in one of those fires without being affected.  When I selected this stone, I saw plumes of smoke with the sun setting behind them.  I saw the burned ground with the lacy texture at the base of the stone.  I saw the beauty and the destruction of fire and I knew this was going to be my commemorative piece. 
As I sketched the design for the setting, I wanted to emphasize the texture at the bottom of the stone.  I wanted to keep the main part of the setting simple so the eye would go to the plumes and I wanted to continue a flame from the front to the back.   
The fine lacy texture at the base of the stone continues onto the silver metal clay.  The flame starts at the top of the stone, becomes the bale and flows onto the back around the opening or ‘hot spot’ of the fire. 


I may never look at a stone cabochon the same way again!  Lisa Barth’s class, Setting Stones Elegantly, at Metal Clay on the Bay in San Diego cemented the idea of ‘listening to the stone’ and seeing what it offers before designing the setting. 
Analyzing the cabochon’s shape, texture, and color made me aware of the difficulty I would have setting the stone and made me aware of the elements I would need to incorporate into the setting.  It gave me the opportunity to tell my story.

I have to say that I don’t usually spend that much time communing with my stone!  I also have to say that taking the time to look at my stone and designing the setting for it produced a great piece.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cedar Breaks National Monument

There are so many amazing places to explore in the Southwest and so many surprises.  I had never been to Cedar Breaks National Monument (near Cedar City, Utah) and in fact, I was not even aware of it.   Peter had been there and wanted to show me the area and we both wanted to take photographs.  As we drove up the mountain to 10,000+ feet, the trees thinned to a few. 
 
It was a surprise to step out of the car, walk through the bristlecone pines, juniper trees, wildflowers and grass to look out 3 miles and down into a half-mile deep natural amphitheater.  Breathtaking actually! 
 
This monument is open June thru October (snow in the winter precludes travel) and I understand that the fall colors are incredible in September/October. 
The rock colors come from iron and manganese in a varity of combinations to produce reds, oranges and yellows with some purple.  My colors!  The Indians used to call this area the ‘Circle of Painted Cliffs.’  Again the repetition of shapes captured my imagination.
 

Cedar Breaks national Monument, established in 1933, had a lodge that was torn down in 1979 because the monument was not profitable.  The uproar from that caused the Park Service to think again about tearing down other park lodges.  






The canyons, spires, walls and cliffs are extremely steep making me understand why the early settlers called them badlands or breaks.  That’s how it got the name ’Cedar Breaks’ – breaks combined with cedar trees (they were really junipers)!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Bryce National Park is fascinating.  As I walked to one of the overlooks I saw such variety of rock colors and formation shapes. I was spellbound and if it had not been so hot, I could have stayed for hours.
The repetition of shapes, shapes that reminded me of pictures of Angkor Wat Cambodia from my long ago art history course, had me imagining ancient cities with ancient gods guarding those cities. While man made the Angkor buildings, nature used wind, water and temperature (freezing) to create these shapes.    
The ‘hoodoos’ are tall and slender spires that rise from the arid basins.  They range in height from the height of an average man to the height of a 10 story building and no place has as many as the northern part of Bryce Canyon.  30 to 40 million years ago this was a lake bed.  You might enjoy reading more about them at  http://www.nps.gov/brca/naturescience/hoodoos.htm 

The vast array of hoodoos and combination of colors is almost overwhelming.  There are so many details and so many repeated shapes that held my attention.  I just had to share some of the pictures with you.












Makes me want to make a bracelet in bas-relief with hoodoos!

 




Friday, August 2, 2013

A week ago I posted in Face Book that I had finished several pair of earrings made from Hadar’s clay.  I was experimenting with techniques from her book, The Handbook of Metal Clay Textures and Form, and I promised to share my experience with you. 
The larger oval pair of earrings (lower left in photo) combines Brilliant Bronze and Copper.  I carved curvy stripes in the copper oval and laid in snakes of bronze, sanded flat and fired.  I know I could polish and make them smoother and shinier but I like the more rustic look.  I used Baldwin’s Patina to bring out the color contrast.

The upper right pair of earrings also combines the bronze and copper.  The back textured layer is bronze and the smaller rectangle is copper.  I was concerned that the copper might be too thick and not bond well but as you can see – no problem!

The earring on the lower right also has a backing of bronze.  I carved horizontal strips and laid the copper snakes in.  Then a textured the snakes cutting them into short diagonal dashes.


The last two pair of earrings are made of bronze flex clay.  I had never worked with the flex clay and only did it this time because I accidentally mixed some with water without reading the label.  I’m so glad that happened because I love working with it.  I made the ‘Rubber Band Earrings’ first following Hadar’s directions. (p.106 of the book)  and love the rhythm of the earrings.  

The woven earring is just that…woven from strips of the flex clay.  I dried them on a light bulb so they would have a nice curve.

I like working with Hadar’s clay.  I’m sure part of it is the fact I took her workshop and sat across from her as she demonstrated!  Helps to have the pro that close.


The test strips became earrings too!










Friday, August 23, 2013

Designing a Bead for a Fabric



My friend, Luana, makes beautiful quilts and fabric purses/bags.  When she asked me to make 4 large beads for the rope she wanted to use in her latest ‘origami’ bag, I was flattered!  And of course I said, ‘sure’.   And we all know it wasn’t as easy as that!
 
I had a package of Sculpey’s Ultralight Clay that had not been opened and I thought this would be a great time to learn to use it.  It was such fun!  I molded lots of large beads with the idea that 4 needed to be about the same size.  These were going to be handcrafted and I did not want them to look perfect (like a machine made them).  After forming the bead and made a large hole in the center, I cured them in my convection oven. 
 

The colors in the fabric turned out to be a challenge with lots of pinks and oranges.  I started polymer flower canes and made several and did not like any of them with the fabric flowers.  I made more.  And then I realized that if I combined the pink canes with the orange canes and added the turquoise canes it just might solve the problem.  And it worked!  I sliced the canes and placed them on a thin polymer backing, smoothed everything into a sheet and cut circles to cover the ultralight beads.  Cured and finished the multi-flowered beads.
 
The only problem was that the holes were not big enough.   Drilling larger holes was so easy.  Absolutely no problem!  The origami purse/bag is finished and we are all happy!  
 
p.s.  I had enough scraps that I made Luana a pair of matching earrings.  Probably over the top to wear all that at once! But it was fun to do .












Friday, August 16, 2013

The Plumes of Prescott – The story behind my pendant design






The stone I selected for my class project is a Plume Agate.   I did not realize how healing the process of setting it into silver metal clay would be.  As you know, Prescott had two fires close by this summer – the Doce Fire and the Yarnell Fire.  It is not possible to have a fire close to your town without being affected.  It is not possible to lose 19 firefighters in one of those fires without being affected.  When I selected this stone, I saw plumes of smoke with the sun setting behind them.  I saw the burned ground with the lacy texture at the base of the stone.  I saw the beauty and the destruction of fire and I knew this was going to be my commemorative piece. 
As I sketched the design for the setting, I wanted to emphasize the texture at the bottom of the stone.  I wanted to keep the main part of the setting simple so the eye would go to the plumes and I wanted to continue a flame from the front to the back.   
The fine lacy texture at the base of the stone continues onto the silver metal clay.  The flame starts at the top of the stone, becomes the bale and flows onto the back around the opening or ‘hot spot’ of the fire. 


I may never look at a stone cabochon the same way again!  Lisa Barth’s class, Setting Stones Elegantly, at Metal Clay on the Bay in San Diego cemented the idea of ‘listening to the stone’ and seeing what it offers before designing the setting. 
Analyzing the cabochon’s shape, texture, and color made me aware of the difficulty I would have setting the stone and made me aware of the elements I would need to incorporate into the setting.  It gave me the opportunity to tell my story.

I have to say that I don’t usually spend that much time communing with my stone!  I also have to say that taking the time to look at my stone and designing the setting for it produced a great piece.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cedar Breaks National Monument

There are so many amazing places to explore in the Southwest and so many surprises.  I had never been to Cedar Breaks National Monument (near Cedar City, Utah) and in fact, I was not even aware of it.   Peter had been there and wanted to show me the area and we both wanted to take photographs.  As we drove up the mountain to 10,000+ feet, the trees thinned to a few. 
 
It was a surprise to step out of the car, walk through the bristlecone pines, juniper trees, wildflowers and grass to look out 3 miles and down into a half-mile deep natural amphitheater.  Breathtaking actually! 
 
This monument is open June thru October (snow in the winter precludes travel) and I understand that the fall colors are incredible in September/October. 
The rock colors come from iron and manganese in a varity of combinations to produce reds, oranges and yellows with some purple.  My colors!  The Indians used to call this area the ‘Circle of Painted Cliffs.’  Again the repetition of shapes captured my imagination.
 

Cedar Breaks national Monument, established in 1933, had a lodge that was torn down in 1979 because the monument was not profitable.  The uproar from that caused the Park Service to think again about tearing down other park lodges.  






The canyons, spires, walls and cliffs are extremely steep making me understand why the early settlers called them badlands or breaks.  That’s how it got the name ’Cedar Breaks’ – breaks combined with cedar trees (they were really junipers)!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Bryce National Park is fascinating.  As I walked to one of the overlooks I saw such variety of rock colors and formation shapes. I was spellbound and if it had not been so hot, I could have stayed for hours.
The repetition of shapes, shapes that reminded me of pictures of Angkor Wat Cambodia from my long ago art history course, had me imagining ancient cities with ancient gods guarding those cities. While man made the Angkor buildings, nature used wind, water and temperature (freezing) to create these shapes.    
The ‘hoodoos’ are tall and slender spires that rise from the arid basins.  They range in height from the height of an average man to the height of a 10 story building and no place has as many as the northern part of Bryce Canyon.  30 to 40 million years ago this was a lake bed.  You might enjoy reading more about them at  http://www.nps.gov/brca/naturescience/hoodoos.htm 

The vast array of hoodoos and combination of colors is almost overwhelming.  There are so many details and so many repeated shapes that held my attention.  I just had to share some of the pictures with you.












Makes me want to make a bracelet in bas-relief with hoodoos!

 




Friday, August 2, 2013

A week ago I posted in Face Book that I had finished several pair of earrings made from Hadar’s clay.  I was experimenting with techniques from her book, The Handbook of Metal Clay Textures and Form, and I promised to share my experience with you. 
The larger oval pair of earrings (lower left in photo) combines Brilliant Bronze and Copper.  I carved curvy stripes in the copper oval and laid in snakes of bronze, sanded flat and fired.  I know I could polish and make them smoother and shinier but I like the more rustic look.  I used Baldwin’s Patina to bring out the color contrast.

The upper right pair of earrings also combines the bronze and copper.  The back textured layer is bronze and the smaller rectangle is copper.  I was concerned that the copper might be too thick and not bond well but as you can see – no problem!

The earring on the lower right also has a backing of bronze.  I carved horizontal strips and laid the copper snakes in.  Then a textured the snakes cutting them into short diagonal dashes.


The last two pair of earrings are made of bronze flex clay.  I had never worked with the flex clay and only did it this time because I accidentally mixed some with water without reading the label.  I’m so glad that happened because I love working with it.  I made the ‘Rubber Band Earrings’ first following Hadar’s directions. (p.106 of the book)  and love the rhythm of the earrings.  

The woven earring is just that…woven from strips of the flex clay.  I dried them on a light bulb so they would have a nice curve.

I like working with Hadar’s clay.  I’m sure part of it is the fact I took her workshop and sat across from her as she demonstrated!  Helps to have the pro that close.


The test strips became earrings too!