Friday, May 22, 2015

Enshrined: Musings on the Shrine

Survey of my sculptural ceramic shrines; old and new. 
1: to enclose in or as if in a shrine
2: to preserve or cherish as sacred

Shrine: 1. a : a case, box, or receptacle; especially : one in which sacred relics (as the bones of a saint) are deposited
b : a place in which devotion is paid to a saint or deity : sanctuary
c : a niche containing a religious image
2: a receptacle (as a tomb) for the dead
3: a place or object hallowed by its associations
Sculptural ceramic shrines in progress for an upcoming firing/workshop. 

I build shrines. I want to create a special space, apart, and elevated in importance to house objects. I often enshrine natural objects, and things that have symbolic meaning to me personally or in a larger mythic/cultural context. Last week and this week I have designed and constructed more ceramic shrine forms than in the entirety of last year. (Thats a guess, but I'm 75% sure its accurate.) Why the "creative frenzy"? I have signed up to do a workshop at month's end, where I will be wood firing and salt glaze/firing 20-30 pieces. That's quite a lot for me... 

But it has had me reflecting on the shrine idea... its an idea I return to again and again in sculpture and in jewelry. This first piece was a reversible mixed media locket of sorts. It was themed around research I had done into my German heritage and the town of Stade, where my maternal ancestors originated. ( Done for Tesori Trovati's "Challenge of Travel" it is on my blog in detail.)
My heritage/history piece: copper, mica, paper, resin, map, key, micro beads, tube rivets, micro bolts. 

 Since I have been working in polymer these last few years I have tried my hand using that medium in a similar fashion. I have recently been experimenting with a few new ways of fabricating shrines in polymer - Ill share those soon.
Polymer shrine pendants showcasing Italian Tarot images from the late 1800's.
There are many artists that conceptually share the "Shrine" concept that appeals to me  - from metal clay, traditional metals/fabrication to mixed media/found objects. Let me take you on a brief tour of inspiration. 

Jen Crossley - "A Mark in Time" blog

     I haven't had the good fortune to meet Jen in her teaching travels when she is in the States from her native Australia, but I hope to some day. I love the sense of age and mystery that comes form integrating found objects into new pieces. I also find the book form a very meaningful and potent symbol. 

Christi Anderson: "Elemental Adornments"

     Thank you Pinterest for taking me here. I am in awe. What else is there to say?! I an fascinated with enclosures, and the revel/conceal contrast. The wearer holds the secrets, the knowledge, and can choose to share that with the viewer. Or not... 

Christi Anderson: "Garden of Good and Evil"

Michael Thee: Michael Thee Studio

A more modern industrial look, and some tongue in cheek humor. Again the reverse reveals a hidden message...
Michael Thee: "Start Something"

Dana Stenson: "Dreams in Metal" blog

    From Dana's site: "...that this necklace will be included in Showcase 500 Art Necklaces, being released this summer by Lark Publishing!  I am so happy to be included in this wonderful collection.  The locket was created as a portrait of my great-grandmother, Georgia Helen Griffith.  She was was an independent, college-educated woman who traveled to Jamaica in 1890 as a Quaker missionary.  The materials in the locket include etched copper, sterling, sapphire, garnet, and found objects; elements are hand fabricated and lost wax cast.  Above the antique map on the back of the locket is the Quaker star. "

Dana Stenson: "Portrait of my Grandmother"

Wanaree Tanner: Tanner/Teiken  Again - this piece is a locket and a shrine. I can't find the words. So stunning. 

Wanaree Tanner: "Year of the Dragon"

Thanks for taking that tour with me. I am always striving to present a cohesive body of work from shrines to decorative tiles to jewelry. I see a series of shrine pendants in my future, echoing motifs in my tiles... And I have wanted to do shrine structures with removable/wearable pieces for years!

I look forward to what ever future inspiration brings!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Soothing Spirals...

In my last post I spoke about using spirals as a decorative elements in my most recent work and how relaxing and it was to hand carve these. Spirals have many symbolic meanings including balance, progress, direction, initiation, centering, expansion, awareness, connection, journeying and development.

Hand carved ceramic beads by Lesley Wat
They have long been a popular motif in jewellery and bead design often derived from natural representation like shells, horns, snakes or whirlpools. Today I've gathered together some fine examples to share with you today... enjoy!

Raku cat by Spinning Star Studio
Bead by Mitosis Glass
Spiral bead set by Joan Miller Porcelain
Bead caps by Cathy Daley
Spiral Fossil connector by Karen Totten
Bead by Natalie Pappas
Spiral Bead set by Sue Kennedy
Spiral spike pendant by Diana Ptaszynski
Bead by Holly's Folly
Ceramic pendant by Tina's Bead Mind
Barrette by Ildanach After Dark
Earrings by Lesley watt
Necklace by Tommy Singer
Bracelet by Hodgepodgerie
Bracelet by Lesley Watt

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Because I'm all bout the sets, no orphans.

Yes I did hear the song in my head and I am sort of sorry if I gave you an earworm.

I am like most when it comes to inspiration to start a piece of jewelry.  I have something that inspires me and go with it.  Sometimes it can be a necklace sometimes it is a bracelet.  I love creating.  Just take a peek at my tray.

Here is where the tricky part is.  When I make jewelry for myself I like having matching sets.  It sounds real easy.  I have found that it can be far from easy.

Like this necklace,

or this bracelet.

Both I loved making and both are so pretty but for some reason there is no spark to create a matching piece.  In fact I have to tell you that I have quite a few orphan pieces as I call them.

I have been in the midst of a medical issue, nothing too serious but does require outpatient surgery, when those come up either my muse disappears or she shows up with a vengeance.  Well she has actually shown up and she had a specific mission.   Pair up some orphans!

I actually did not have a plan when I started.  Then I found some beautiful round beads by Diana of Suburban Girl Studios that happened to match another necklace with a pendant of hers and just played around with the beads.

I used to think sets had to be matchy matchy but to date I have been breaking many of my own rules and I love this set.

I was lucky enough to get some amazing Czechmate Crescent beads a while ago.  I am pretty sure I have told you about them before and from the moment they came out I had a design in mind and it just so happened I also had a orphan begging to be mated.

The cab in the necklace is from Lisa Peters Art and is one of my absolute favorites to where but I have had no bracelet to match it.  I am extremely happy with this set as well!

And finally I recently had the opportunity to work with Erin who is a blogger for Halcraft USA as well as her own blog Treasures Found.  Erin has a monthly challenge she hosts choosing a palette and coordinating beads and asks designers to play along.

The bracelet came first in this set.  And honestly I might have to make a couple more of these in different colors because I really like the way is wears.  I had a heck of a time getting a necklace that would work for me.  Finally I decided to just let it flow instead of fighting and I really love the way the necklace finished.

Do you like having sets of jewelry?

Monday, May 18, 2015

First attempt at working with gold

For as far back as I can remember I have always preferred silver to gold, even as a small child when I was aloud to pick out a necklace or ring to wear from my grandmothers jewellery box, I would always pick out the silver pieces. Gold was yellow and I did not like yellow, simple as that, well until recently that is.....

Gold Body-Chain from the Hoxne Hoard in the British Museum
I blame all the recent trips to the Museum's that I have been to! Seeing all the ancient jewelry, the history, the story's behind the pieces and the pieces them selves, so much gold and all so intriguing! How could you not LOVE this Roman body chain with it's garnets, beautifully created shape and it even has a coin on the back.....

Back Join Comprises of a Gold Coin of Emperor Gratian (AD 367-383) 
And just look at this stunning gold bangle, the colours, the stones, the shapes,  just amazing....

In the collection of the British Museum
All of this exposure to this amazing gold jewellery got me thinking, I would quiet like to have a play with some gold, to see what I could create. The most unactractive thing about gold is the price, oh wow the price! So I wanted a design that would not require much gold, light bulb moment, prong studs!

9ct Gold Wire, Ear Pins and Butterfly Backs
6 inches of 0.8mm 9ct gold wire, 6 ear pins and 6 butterfly backs later and I was well on my way to making my first pair of gold earrings. Making them was pretty much the same as making them in silver although there is the slight fear at the back of your mind of how much the gold cost if you mess it up, which of course I did!!!

Prongs Soldered and Shaped
I managed to slightly melt some of the gold, but luckly not too much that I could not use it! One of the things I did notice about the diffrence between working with silver and gold was that after soldering the silver is very soft and pliable where as the gold was still rather stiff and much harder to bend over the stones.

Finished Gold Studs
I have now made these earrings in gold and silver and I suprisingly like the gold ones more! The colour seems less harsh and it seems to suit the stones mores. Which do you prefer?

Gold Studs Compared to Silver Studs

As much as I love the gold studs I don't see myself work with much gold in the future, the prices is just way too high and if you think soldering is scary, try soldering with gold, I was so worried about melting it that I held my breath the entire time! Still now I have decided that I quiet like gold I may well try some mixed gold/silver pieces maybe even some Keum-boo. As always the best thing about trying some thing new is the places that it may lead! Have a great day.

Niky Sayers Artisan Jewellery

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ceramic Art Bead Market

Hey everyone, you may have heard about a new way to shop for hand crafted ceramic art beads. It's called the Ceramic Art Bead Market.

Joan Miller kicked off the idea to a small group of fellow ceramic bead artists (including me), and we decided to run with it: a Facebook-based auction group featuring original ceramic art bead artists. About mid-March, we managed to set up a group with an initial group of artists, and started accepting buyer members. We also set up a jury to admit additional artist sellers. The sellers are all fabulous artists, tops in their field both in terms of originality and craftsmanship. We also have wonderful buyers. Bottom line, it's been a positive experience all around and we've grown faster than we could have ever imagined. After just a couple of months we are already 1,000 strong.

Here is just a tiny sampling of some of the beautiful art beads you might find there... also, be sure to read the exciting special announcement at the end of this post...

Ceramic focal by Mary Harding
Ceramic focal by Lisa Boucher

Ceramic bead sets by Diana Ptasynski

Ceramic bead set by Michelle McCarthy

Ceramic bead set by Terri DelSignore

Ceramic Bead set by Joan Miller

Ceramic beads by Karen Totten (Starry Road Studio)

Ceramic bead set by Gaea

Ceramic bead sets by Marsha Neal Minutella

Ceramic bead set by Sarah Kandell-Gritzmaker

Ceramic beads by Lesley Watt

Ceramic bead set by Sharleen Newline

Beads by Jenny Davies-Reazor

Ceramic focal by Caroline Dewison

Ceramic earring pair by Mari Carmen Rodriguez Martinez

I also have a very exciting announcement. To celebrate the milestone of 1,000 members, we are having an all-day giveaway special. Every hour starting at 10 AM today (May 17) we will feature a new art bead giveaway. So come see us at Ceramic Art Bead Market and comment on the giveaway posts that you would like to have a chance at winning. Good luck!