Friday, August 29, 2014

The Week to Relax and Enjoy Life


All of a sudden it is Friday!  I look around at a few projects I've started and decide they will be good for another week’s post – once I finish them. It’s time to take inventory for the week.  You know, just go over what I really did!  It seems I enjoyed nature by taking walks between storms.  And I want to share some of that lush area!  

Watson Lake has a lovely walking trail that is pretty flat.  I live in hilly terrain and need to find flatter places to walk because of my knee.  The lake is the place!  No ‘bathtub ring exists on the rocks anymore since we had so much rain.  First time I can remember the water level is this high in 4 years. 



Weeds and wildflowers are in bloom.  Butterflies, grasshoppers and whip-tail lizards play on the trails and in the rocky areas.  A red-tailed hawk circled over head and barn swallows played around the water’s edge. 





What else did I do?  Signed up for a Monarch Butterfly Workshop to learn to catch and tag the butterflies.  Yes!  I ordered a butterfly net!


Bought a beautiful new copy of the opera ‘Marriage of Figaro’.  I heard about it on NPR.  The conductor is Teodor Currentzis and he uses period instruments. It is so lovely listening.  http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Figaro-Deluxe-Edition-Blu-Ray/dp/B00GK8P1EG


And I've read some, played with my lizards and began practicing on the harpsichord!  I have not played a keyboard instrument in 40 years and I have a lot of practicing to do!  It’s been a wonderful week!   I hope you enjoyed yours too!



Friday, August 22, 2014

Changing the Emphasis

This week I've been thinking a lot about how changing the emphasis on what I’m doing affects the outcome.

I used to weave and my husband made a beautiful vertical loom so I could make tapestries and flat rugs.  I really did not have time to use it because I was running my own interior design business.  I kept the loom along with some wonderful yarns because I knew someday I would have time.  That loom and the yarn moved from Tucson to Prescott with me and sat in the closet for 5 years.  I've done no weaving in 10 years.  The emphasis was on what could have been and on a dream that was never going to happen and in fact I did not want.  I sold the loom to a young woman who is collecting tools she wants to use in the future.  I understood that.  The yarn is now listed on my Etsy site in supplies.  I had to examine what I really wanted and why before I could let go of the past.

It was the same with moving from my Tucson home of 25 years.  My husband died in 2002 and 4 years later I met Peter.  Eventually he moved into my home where I had my business and all my things and all my husband’s tools etc.  We stayed there for 4 years and I finally realized it was time for me to retire, close my business and to find a home that would be Peter’s and mine.  We found that in Prescott.  Once I changed my emphasis from status quo to what would expand our lives, moving was not so traumatic.  And we are very happy in ‘our’ home making our new memories.


Recently I took many pieces of my metal clay and knitted wire jewelry to Tucson to a boutique (AK Jensen in St. Phillips Plaza) to see if she was interested in taking some on consignment.  She sold several pieces in the past and I was interested in her opinion.  She took 51 pieces and I was ecstatic!  Only a few weeks before that happened I was wondering what to do about my jewelry business.  I love creating the pieces but I do not like marketing and don’t want to do craft shows.  If I was going to keep the business I was going to have to change my attitude.  After much soul searching, I decided that I could have a hobby and if someone wants my creations that will be lovely.  I can be much more relaxed, be thankful for any sales and have a good time.  It is a good place for me to be mentally.  My emphasis changed from being profitable to the joy of creating.   


I’m learning to put my emphasis on enjoying the moment.  That will undoubtedly be a life time endeavor!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fun at Art Unraveled 2014

My Rendition of Starry Night!
 silver spiral, silver star that moves and star beside a moonstone.
 Wire weaving on the edges.  

I've been going to Art Unraveled (http://www.artunraveled.com/ARTU14/AUindex.htm) for many years and always learn something new.  This year my good friend Judi and I roomed together and attended the same classes.

‘Fun, Affordable and Classy: Composite Laminate Earrings’ taught by April Bower (http://www.downthestreetartgallery.com/april.htm) was the first class we took.  In the 3 hour evening class we learned to saw laminate resin – most of us call it Formica!  We were to design earrings using laminate and accenting with wire or beads or metal.  The trick was to cut 2 of each shape the same!  Not such an easy task.  So here are some of the examples and products from the class.

My Formica (oops  Laminate Resin) Earrings

The next morning after exercising and breakfast we went to ‘Silver Stitched Jewelry’ taught by Mary Hettmansperger (http://www.maryhetts.com/) What a great class!  We used copper for the first piece instead of silver and several kinds of wire.  Each piece has a front and a back that are woven together with wire.  Yes that was time consuming and got to be a bit tedious.  I’m looking forward to making another piece when I have the luxury of picking it up, working a bit, and putting it down instead of meeting the class deadline.  The weaving is really a nice accent.  By the end of the day I almost had my piece finished and all the moveable parts were working! (see first picture)

The second full day of class was also taught by Mary Hettmansperger ‘Torch Fired: Enameled Surfaces and Tab Bezels’.   I have not done much torch fire enamel and was looking forward to learning a different technique.  We played with copper foil sheeting, wire, cold connections and enamels.  I used the square punch and made domes and circles.  The variety of possibilities seems endless.  The point of the class was to play with as many ideas and enamels as possible.  And I came home with 2 pieces ready to put together and a thirst to start torch fire enamels! 

Woven metal strips and wire that is domed and enameled 


Ready to be riveted together!


Copper Foil Scrunched, Domed and Enameled 

Ready to be riveted together.


Art Unraveled went on for a week but we were there only 3 days.  Had to stay for the Saturday Sale and see all the new products and yes, we bought a little.  This is such a good event, lots of artists sharing, and lots of focus on creating.  You should think about going next year!  It’s always in August in Phoenix.












Friday, August 1, 2014

Enameling - part 2


The After Practice Piece  -  Improving
Last week I shared making the piece to enamel from ArtClay Copper.  This week is about the actual process of enameling.  If you are interested in using the enameling techniques, I highly recommend Pam East’s DVD’s.  Last week’s post has the links.

I looked forward to this part as I remembered how much fun it was to blend the enamel colors in Pam’s class.  Three pair of earrings are ready to be cleaned in PreEnamel to remove any oil or fingerprints.  I started do this at my work station and ended up at the sink because the water needed to be hot.  After scrubbing and rinsing until the water sheeted off the metal instead of beading, I was ready to counter enamel. That just means putting enamel on the back of the piece so that there will have equal amount of stress when the enamel is placed on the front and the enamel will not crack. 

The earring on the left shows the counter-enamel
The enamel colors I used are translucent and are mixed with water for easier application. 
The first layer went on and my frustration began!  I found that setting the small metal pieces on a 3 prong trivet was harder than it looked on the DVD.  How can it be so hard for me to place the piece on 3 points and have it level and balanced? If I touched the enamel (which are tiny particles of glass), the smudge had to be repaired.  When I jiggled or accidentally hit the trivet, the enamel fell off and had to be redone.  I quickly learned to take care at each step.  I think it took 5 tries before I got it right.  The rest went smoother!  After practicing with several pieces, I developed a wrist action that eliminated the problem.  My suggestion is to practice moving the trivets and learn how to use the tools before placing the metal piece on it. 

3 Pair of earrings with enamel before firing.  Look at the colors and find the fired ones on this page!
I need to get a digital timer.  My phone timer also added to my frustration!  And I have a new kiln with a window in the door so I’m learning about it.  The DVD shows the shelf on the bottom of the kiln and mine was on cones raised about an inch.  The first firing would have been great but because the shelf was too high, I could not see the top of the piece on the trivet.  That meant I could not tell exactly when to take it out. Should have thought of that sooner! The timer is helpful but you still need to see the exact time to remove the piece.  Later I lowered the shelf and things improved!  The first pieces were over-fired and the color was muddy and crazed.  It took a couple of firings before I understood when the enameled copper was ready to come out of the kiln. 

Seeing the colors before and after firing is part of the magic.  The blues and greens are difficult to tell apart before enameling.  So it is very important to label the colors! 


I fired the earrings with 3 layers of color and learned more about shading.  It is really obvious when you do it right!  The layers of translucent color add so much depth.



Now that I’ve gone through the entire process and gained confidence, I made another piece to get it right.  The first pieces are just practice pieces.  I sometimes forget about the learning curve and expect more perfect pieces the first time.  I’m much more confident and will continue on this path for a while. 

This is the color before firing.  Look at the finished color at the top of the page.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Week to Relax and Enjoy Life


All of a sudden it is Friday!  I look around at a few projects I've started and decide they will be good for another week’s post – once I finish them. It’s time to take inventory for the week.  You know, just go over what I really did!  It seems I enjoyed nature by taking walks between storms.  And I want to share some of that lush area!  

Watson Lake has a lovely walking trail that is pretty flat.  I live in hilly terrain and need to find flatter places to walk because of my knee.  The lake is the place!  No ‘bathtub ring exists on the rocks anymore since we had so much rain.  First time I can remember the water level is this high in 4 years. 



Weeds and wildflowers are in bloom.  Butterflies, grasshoppers and whip-tail lizards play on the trails and in the rocky areas.  A red-tailed hawk circled over head and barn swallows played around the water’s edge. 





What else did I do?  Signed up for a Monarch Butterfly Workshop to learn to catch and tag the butterflies.  Yes!  I ordered a butterfly net!


Bought a beautiful new copy of the opera ‘Marriage of Figaro’.  I heard about it on NPR.  The conductor is Teodor Currentzis and he uses period instruments. It is so lovely listening.  http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Figaro-Deluxe-Edition-Blu-Ray/dp/B00GK8P1EG


And I've read some, played with my lizards and began practicing on the harpsichord!  I have not played a keyboard instrument in 40 years and I have a lot of practicing to do!  It’s been a wonderful week!   I hope you enjoyed yours too!



Friday, August 22, 2014

Changing the Emphasis

This week I've been thinking a lot about how changing the emphasis on what I’m doing affects the outcome.

I used to weave and my husband made a beautiful vertical loom so I could make tapestries and flat rugs.  I really did not have time to use it because I was running my own interior design business.  I kept the loom along with some wonderful yarns because I knew someday I would have time.  That loom and the yarn moved from Tucson to Prescott with me and sat in the closet for 5 years.  I've done no weaving in 10 years.  The emphasis was on what could have been and on a dream that was never going to happen and in fact I did not want.  I sold the loom to a young woman who is collecting tools she wants to use in the future.  I understood that.  The yarn is now listed on my Etsy site in supplies.  I had to examine what I really wanted and why before I could let go of the past.

It was the same with moving from my Tucson home of 25 years.  My husband died in 2002 and 4 years later I met Peter.  Eventually he moved into my home where I had my business and all my things and all my husband’s tools etc.  We stayed there for 4 years and I finally realized it was time for me to retire, close my business and to find a home that would be Peter’s and mine.  We found that in Prescott.  Once I changed my emphasis from status quo to what would expand our lives, moving was not so traumatic.  And we are very happy in ‘our’ home making our new memories.


Recently I took many pieces of my metal clay and knitted wire jewelry to Tucson to a boutique (AK Jensen in St. Phillips Plaza) to see if she was interested in taking some on consignment.  She sold several pieces in the past and I was interested in her opinion.  She took 51 pieces and I was ecstatic!  Only a few weeks before that happened I was wondering what to do about my jewelry business.  I love creating the pieces but I do not like marketing and don’t want to do craft shows.  If I was going to keep the business I was going to have to change my attitude.  After much soul searching, I decided that I could have a hobby and if someone wants my creations that will be lovely.  I can be much more relaxed, be thankful for any sales and have a good time.  It is a good place for me to be mentally.  My emphasis changed from being profitable to the joy of creating.   


I’m learning to put my emphasis on enjoying the moment.  That will undoubtedly be a life time endeavor!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fun at Art Unraveled 2014

My Rendition of Starry Night!
 silver spiral, silver star that moves and star beside a moonstone.
 Wire weaving on the edges.  

I've been going to Art Unraveled (http://www.artunraveled.com/ARTU14/AUindex.htm) for many years and always learn something new.  This year my good friend Judi and I roomed together and attended the same classes.

‘Fun, Affordable and Classy: Composite Laminate Earrings’ taught by April Bower (http://www.downthestreetartgallery.com/april.htm) was the first class we took.  In the 3 hour evening class we learned to saw laminate resin – most of us call it Formica!  We were to design earrings using laminate and accenting with wire or beads or metal.  The trick was to cut 2 of each shape the same!  Not such an easy task.  So here are some of the examples and products from the class.

My Formica (oops  Laminate Resin) Earrings

The next morning after exercising and breakfast we went to ‘Silver Stitched Jewelry’ taught by Mary Hettmansperger (http://www.maryhetts.com/) What a great class!  We used copper for the first piece instead of silver and several kinds of wire.  Each piece has a front and a back that are woven together with wire.  Yes that was time consuming and got to be a bit tedious.  I’m looking forward to making another piece when I have the luxury of picking it up, working a bit, and putting it down instead of meeting the class deadline.  The weaving is really a nice accent.  By the end of the day I almost had my piece finished and all the moveable parts were working! (see first picture)

The second full day of class was also taught by Mary Hettmansperger ‘Torch Fired: Enameled Surfaces and Tab Bezels’.   I have not done much torch fire enamel and was looking forward to learning a different technique.  We played with copper foil sheeting, wire, cold connections and enamels.  I used the square punch and made domes and circles.  The variety of possibilities seems endless.  The point of the class was to play with as many ideas and enamels as possible.  And I came home with 2 pieces ready to put together and a thirst to start torch fire enamels! 

Woven metal strips and wire that is domed and enameled 


Ready to be riveted together!


Copper Foil Scrunched, Domed and Enameled 

Ready to be riveted together.


Art Unraveled went on for a week but we were there only 3 days.  Had to stay for the Saturday Sale and see all the new products and yes, we bought a little.  This is such a good event, lots of artists sharing, and lots of focus on creating.  You should think about going next year!  It’s always in August in Phoenix.












Friday, August 1, 2014

Enameling - part 2


The After Practice Piece  -  Improving
Last week I shared making the piece to enamel from ArtClay Copper.  This week is about the actual process of enameling.  If you are interested in using the enameling techniques, I highly recommend Pam East’s DVD’s.  Last week’s post has the links.

I looked forward to this part as I remembered how much fun it was to blend the enamel colors in Pam’s class.  Three pair of earrings are ready to be cleaned in PreEnamel to remove any oil or fingerprints.  I started do this at my work station and ended up at the sink because the water needed to be hot.  After scrubbing and rinsing until the water sheeted off the metal instead of beading, I was ready to counter enamel. That just means putting enamel on the back of the piece so that there will have equal amount of stress when the enamel is placed on the front and the enamel will not crack. 

The earring on the left shows the counter-enamel
The enamel colors I used are translucent and are mixed with water for easier application. 
The first layer went on and my frustration began!  I found that setting the small metal pieces on a 3 prong trivet was harder than it looked on the DVD.  How can it be so hard for me to place the piece on 3 points and have it level and balanced? If I touched the enamel (which are tiny particles of glass), the smudge had to be repaired.  When I jiggled or accidentally hit the trivet, the enamel fell off and had to be redone.  I quickly learned to take care at each step.  I think it took 5 tries before I got it right.  The rest went smoother!  After practicing with several pieces, I developed a wrist action that eliminated the problem.  My suggestion is to practice moving the trivets and learn how to use the tools before placing the metal piece on it. 

3 Pair of earrings with enamel before firing.  Look at the colors and find the fired ones on this page!
I need to get a digital timer.  My phone timer also added to my frustration!  And I have a new kiln with a window in the door so I’m learning about it.  The DVD shows the shelf on the bottom of the kiln and mine was on cones raised about an inch.  The first firing would have been great but because the shelf was too high, I could not see the top of the piece on the trivet.  That meant I could not tell exactly when to take it out. Should have thought of that sooner! The timer is helpful but you still need to see the exact time to remove the piece.  Later I lowered the shelf and things improved!  The first pieces were over-fired and the color was muddy and crazed.  It took a couple of firings before I understood when the enameled copper was ready to come out of the kiln. 

Seeing the colors before and after firing is part of the magic.  The blues and greens are difficult to tell apart before enameling.  So it is very important to label the colors! 


I fired the earrings with 3 layers of color and learned more about shading.  It is really obvious when you do it right!  The layers of translucent color add so much depth.



Now that I’ve gone through the entire process and gained confidence, I made another piece to get it right.  The first pieces are just practice pieces.  I sometimes forget about the learning curve and expect more perfect pieces the first time.  I’m much more confident and will continue on this path for a while. 

This is the color before firing.  Look at the finished color at the top of the page.