Friday, January 25, 2013

Genius loci

From Merriam-Webster:

Definition of GENIUS LOCI

: the pervading spirit of a place
: a tutelary deity of a place

The place: Austin TX. 
The time: last weekend. 
The plan: take a walk, enjoy the weather. 
The result: inspiration!

I was born and raised in Maryland, and now live in Delaware. To be sure - I have lived other places, other countries, other regions... but I have four seasons in my blood. So when I was visiting Texas in January, and walking around in a tee shirt - I felt hyper aware of the outdoors, the environment, the ecosystem. 

Nature and natural forms always have inspired me... so trusty iPhone camera and I snapped a few pictures on a 4 mile walk...
Bare branches, net, blue sky. Patterns. 

Agave and sunbeams. 
Contrast. Complementary. 

Lone Star.

In the "spirit of the place" I was inspired to make earrings. (You have heard of our AJE earring challenge, haven't you?) 

Prickly pear: Dimpling with center punch, dimples, freeform similar shapes. Pearl "blossoms". 

Agave: shapes, marking a leaf ridge, mixing enamel colors.

The colors were as inspirational as the shapes. I am pleased with the shapes, and love the red/purple pearl "blossoms". The colors were another matter. The agave was a silvery green grey with hints of blue. The prickly pear was sage to chartreuse! I decided to experiment - feeling like an alchemist I threw together some enamel powders... opaque, greens, white, transparents...

The results are interesting, but not exact. I wish they were swapped, as one is more silvery grey...I like the speckles that result with opaque white in the mix. I could have tested the colors first, and taken notes. (No thanks). My biggest disappointment was the loss of my "dimples" - I would have needed much more transparent colors for the metal divots to show through the enamel. I knew that, but in the color mixing spontaneity I didn't think...I am going to have to revisit these, and keep experimenting.

What is inspiring you today? What new influences do you see in your work? 



  1. Is that a nest I see in the tree in the first picture, one thing I love about winter is seeing all the branches and being able to see nests that are hidden any other time of year. I love your inspiration, great post!!

  2. Great post Jenny - I love to see how other people are influenced by their surroundings...

  3. Yes - Kristi! Good eye. The nests were all exposed. Here in the Mid Atlantic its more rare to get bright blue on a winters day. And Lesley - my adult artist self was MOST influenced by my time in London and Cornwall. I wish I could schedule a field trip back to that "home".

  4. I do enjoy seeing where everyone gets their inspiration! I like being able to see all the birds nests and other hidden gems in the trees in winter. We've got massive clumps of mistletoe in many of the trees in the park near us.

  5. I love these - they're just terrific! And I am so, so sad that you were in Austin and I didn't know about it ahead of time - I'm an hour away and would have LOVED to join you for a quick coffee and to say hello. Let me know next time you're in the great state of Texas!

  6. Sweet! I love the agave leaves best! I know what you mean about testing colors and taking notes - not! I will occasionally jot down a opaque/transparent layered combo that I love, but it is more often than not 'hit or miss'

  7. You really captured the colors of the locale. Excellent post!

  8. I think these are great! I love that you use your surroundings as your inspiration and felt the need to custom mix your own enamels. I tend to layer enamels rather than mix...but that's my background as a lampworker coming through.

  9. I think these are inspired...but, if you would like to see your dimples, provided they are still there from the enameling process, you could go back to an old enameling technique of 'polishing' with an alum stone. Keeping the surface wet, you can rub the enamel with the stone in even strokes...the enamel will be removed off of the high dimples while remaining in the flatter areas. It takes a soft hand as you don't want to chip, but it gives it an etched appearance. Just a thought. If you don't have alum, you can get them at Home Depot in the cleaning's not the super fine, but they have them there as a grout cleaning stick. lololol

  10. I enjoyed seeing your inspiration, process, and lovely earrings.

  11. Thanks for the great post. It's so interesting to see the creative process.

  12. Great post Jenny! I love seeing the inspiration and the final product!

  13. What an awesome post!!! I love your artistic eye!!!


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