Friday, September 30, 2016

Painting with.... Fiber? Felted Tapestries!

Felt. Fiber... Not my usual materials...but its so much fun!

I am always looking for ways to evolve my work, and creatively challenge myself. And as an artist/business person I am also thinking of ways to offer my pieces to consumers in a new and enticing format. These felted tapestries hit on all marks, in my opinion. My pendants are the star, yet showcased in a non jewelry fashion. I can satisfy my Muse's love of color and touch on my painting background - in a fast and immediately satisfying genre. Here - let me show you...

I often start with a shape cut from an up-cycled felted sweater. It's a great cost-friendly canvas. Here I am needle felting with wool roving, onto a navy sweater piece. I plan to pair this with my mermaid ceramic pendant... and a few curly locks were the right "splash" of accent color.
Felting, finishing edges, and embellishing... 
I also use "pre-felt" as a canvas. I like to use the focal as the starting point for the wool palette. Here the focal is a polymer and resin mixed media piece with a vintage Art Nouveau illustration. (Please note: I am not going into the HOW of needle felting here. That could be a topic in the future. I will list resources below.) 

Felting the tapestry, folding and felting the edges. 
The joy to me is adding beads! But hang on - lets get the focals in place... I use waxed linen and a tapestry needle. A few simple stitches and done. They disappear into the felt texture... Or you can leave the waxed linen ends on the front of the piece and embellish with a few beads there too!

Waxed linen to attach the piece to the felted tapestry. 
Here is this batch ready to go - but the larger rectangular pieces need something else...

Waiting for bead embellishment... 
Excellent! Stamping blanks from Nunn design are the right size and scale.
A little word play... 
Alright - time to bead. I'm off. What no bead pictures? Here let me tide you over with this one until next time - when I will talk beaded embellishments and framing/presentation for these lovelies.
Stay tuned for beads and framing next time! 
Stay tuned for next time: beading! Framing! Secrets exposed! (Or at least happily shared...)


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Inspiration from Cornwall

Four weeks ago I was on my summer holidays in Cornwall, a place that I will forever love!
There is such a wonderful laid back and artistic vibe down there that I really feel at home whenever I visit. There is also so many beautiful and inspiring things to see....

St Michael's Mount
St Michael's Mount is a stunning small tidal island, during low tide you can walk the causeway to get to the island but during mid to high tide you can only access the island by boat.
The island is seeped in history stretching back millennia, with discoveries of flint arrow heads to a Bronze Age hoard and many wonderful legends.

Views from the Castle
The Island partly owned by the Nation Trust and run by the St Aubyn family (who still live in a portion of the castle), has its own harbour, a handful of houses, a church, an underground tram line that runs from the harbour to the castle (that is closed to the public because it is so steep), a cafe, a few lovely little gift shops, and wonderful and exotic gardens that thrive in the Islands micro climate, to name but a few of the attractions.

Maps and Models
The side of one of the houses had the most beautiful old map painted on it, and then among the treasures of the castle (which included a mummified cat and a samurai suit) there was this beautiful ornate map above. These photo's make me want to make resin and map jewellery components! 

The Giant's Heart
Legend has it that the Island was once home to Cormoran an 18ft giant who lived there in a cave, He was said to eat cattle and small children and terrorised the local people until Jack a young farmers son trapped him in a concealed pit and brought his ax down upon his head. Jack was henceforth known as "Jack the Giant Killer" and the Giant's stone heart was set into the path way leading to the castle! 

Stained Glass Featuring St Michael's Mount
The Castle even has its own built in church, with breathtakingly beautiful stained glass windows. The one above even features St Michael's Mount in the background.

St Ives Beach
Then there is St Ives! My all time favourite place. The beaches are crystal clear and there is so many art galleries (real artist galleries not those ones that just sell mass produced prints) many of them are also working studio's so you can go and talk to the artists and watch them working, they have every kind of art you can imagine ranging from raku ceramic clocks, amazing glass sculptures to very beautiful paintings and mixed media pieces. I wish I had taken photo's of the studios but I was in somewhat of a daze (think small child in a sweet shop)!

Sea Glass Glore
We have even found the best little beach for sea glass, I don't know if you can see from the photo but there is just so much of it and it is the nice well worn without sharp edges stuff too!

Light House and Boats
Every time we visit we are always drawn to the light house and I intend to use this as inspiration for a necklace I plan on making.

A Shop Full of Treasures
I don't know about you (I guess a lot of you do this too) but when I go some where I always keep my eye out (and some times check with google) for bead/crystal shops as there are none close to where I live. So I always make a point of visiting this little shop that is just off the high street in St Ives, and the best thing is that it is open this 8.30 so you don't have to hurry!

"Emjems is a family run shop that has been selling jewellery, crystals, fossils, incense, singing bowls, stones and more unusual treasures for over 40 years!"

Crystals and fossils make me very happy and here are a few of the treasures I have managed to take home with me from Emjems (looking at the photo's I really wish I had brought that stone green man he would have been perfect for the September theme challenge!)....

Treasures From St Ives
Mostly due for wire wrapping except that piece of turquoise that will go into my light house piece.

Sun Setting Over St Ives
It is hard not to be inspired by a place as beautiful as this, the colours, the scenery and the wonderful calm and peaceful feeling it gives you....

Carn Brea Castle
Carn Brea Castle can be traced back as far as 1379. The stone twin towered fortress was built by the Bassett family and is built on the remains of a Iron Age hillfort that has been restored and extended over the years and now looks somewhat like a folly. It is truly stunning and really worth googling just to see more photo's of this amazing place that is currently used as a very unique middle eastern restaurant it is however a bookings only venue or we would have been tempted to try it!

The View 
The spectacular views from the castle even left the most talkative amongst us (pictured above) stunned into silence!

And then of course there is Falmouth, this photo just makes me smile! With it's beautiful rolling hills full of patchwork fields and clusters of trees, stunning blue sea and the adorable little boats. Whats not to love!

Found Treasure
Plus there is all of those new beach find/treasures to add to my over flowing hoard!

Monday, September 26, 2016

In Prague: Art Part II

As I mentioned in my last post, things fell into place enough that I was able to travel to Prague this summer - the art and buildings there are so great, I really want to share more with you!

Alfons Mucha was an Art Noveau artist who was born in the Czech Republic (Moravia to be more specific).  Many of you may know him by his posters of Sarah Bernhardt.  (It is here that I will tell you that while at the Mucha Museum, one was not permitted to take photos. However, I cannot control my children any longer as they are both adults and these are their photos!)

He also designed many other things, such as postage stamps, posters, wallpaper, theater sets and cracker tins to name a few.  Mucha designed a stained glass window that can be found in St. Vitus Cathedral (Prague Castle).  Below is my photo of the window.

His biggest project, which took him years to complete, is The Slav Epic. It's a series of 20 very large paintings that celebrates the history of slavic people.  He considered this to be his life's work, and gifted it to Prague, which is housed in the Narodni Gallery in Prague where you can take photos.  Here are the photos I took.  They don't do it justice!

They are quite beautiful in a very somber way, and as you can see from the one photo, very large!  The last photo, Slavs in their Original Homeland, is my favorite.

While we were there, we also saw an Ai Wei Wei exhibit of his Chinese zodiac sculptures.  Ironically, he has an exhibit here in Pittsburgh which I did not see, but did see it in Prague!

You might have guessed that my birth year is the Year of the Snake, which is why I took a separate photo of it!

In the Jewish Section of Prague, called Josefov, one can find many beautiful synagogues.  One in particular is the Spanish Synagogue and oh my is it beautiful!  Here are a few photos I took there.

When we left the synagogue tour area, we came upon a market, and purchased a handmade clay Golem!  We were quite excited!

I hope you enjoyed my photos today - next post, I'll share my side trips to Kutna Hora and Cesky Krumlov, very interesting and beautiful places!  Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hello There

I'd like to start off my introduction by saying how delighted I am to be a new member here at Art Jewelry Elements. When I was first approached by Jenny Davies-Reazor to join I was flabbergasted!
Jenny did an interview with me back in April, you can read it here. I was completely amazed when she asked me for the interview.  Well, when she contacted me to join the AJE team-I was over the moon! Then all of a sudden, the little demon of self-doubt popped up and said NO: it's over your head, you're not capable, you can't do it right now, it would consume too much time, blah, blah, blah.
Guess what? I won. Beat that little demon right back into his box on the shelf.

So, here I am-Cathy Spivey Mendola, jewelry and fiber artist. I have had a long journey of creative endeavors over the years. Like my fellow newbie member Cooky, I was a nurse. Even while I was working as a nurse I was creating. I made teddy bears, rabbits and sheep as well as making dried and silk flower wreathes and arrangements for a local business.  Once my daughter was born I became a stay-at-home mom and the creative juices started to flow a bit more.
Frida Art Quilt, Circa 2007 With Minimal Beading

In the last 26 years I have made children's clothing, art dolls, jewelry, ceramics, mixed media paintings, collages, assemblages, art quilts, felting, knitting, etc, etc etc. Actually, it would take less time to list what I haven't attempted creatively over the years.  You can check out my blog to link to more of my past creations.
Beaded Buddha Art Quilt, Circa 2015 With Millions Of Beads

I just recently moved to NC from the Chicago area. I was very fortunate to have been a member of the North Suburban Needle Arts Guild; Womens Journeys in Fiber group; and a couple of smaller groups, one of which was a bead/fiber group named the Crazy 8's. Being a member of these groups helped me expand my skills in fiber arts as well as jewelry on top of making many great, creative friends along the way.

Beginning in 2013, a friend of mine and I decided to do an art journal. I had been feeling stuck and a little confused about the direction in which I wanted to go, artistically speaking. I thought joining with a friend would help keep me accountable. This wasn't your typical journal, this was a creative exploration that we came up with--try new techniques, new ideas, new media, and especially try all those new products we tend to buy and never use!

The very first month of the journal I decided to teach myself how to do a beaded peyote stitched bezel.
The Beaded Bezel That Started It All Done On Wet Felted Fabric

That was all it took. I became hooked on beading and bead embroidery.
Even though I had been making jewelry for years I had never really used seed beads (gasp!) except to embellish art quilts. I had never even WANTED to use them in jewelry! After I made several bead embroidered pieces to use in my art quilts I decided to try making a bead embroidered breast plate for the Shaman sprirt mask that I was making for our yearly project with the Womens Journeys in Fiber group. Once I created that piece I became obsessed with making pendants for necklaces.
Breast Plate For The Shaman Spirit Mask

I have had a lifelong habit of collecting sea shells, rocks, driftwood, anything I come across at the beach. So naturally, I started using these bits of found treasures in my beaded jewelry.
I was fortunate to have my beach themed jewelry featured in the summer issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry.
Belle Armoire Jewelry Summer 2016 Issue

Ammonite & Fossilized Shark Tooth Pendant
Now that I have joined the AJE team, I have a newfound love and appreciation of art jewelry components as well as my found treasures. I will keep exploring and expanding my beachy themed jewelry but I am also looking forward to using ceramic, glass and polymer clay components.

After AJE's headpin challenge last month, I realized just how much I have missed working with metals. It was so energizing to combine bead embroidered elements with the metals.  My enthusiasm for jewelry making has increased exponentially since joining, so stay tuned for more mixed media creations from me. I am really looking forward to being a team member here!

Beaded Moon Goodess Necklace