Here’s wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Also, to all my dear Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah. As 2013 draws to an end, I am thinking about the countless blessings in my life. Of course, I’m most grateful for my husband, children, family, friend and business partner, my amazing friends and for each and every one of you who subscribe to my blog and take time out of your busy schedules to check in with me every now and then. Here’s wishing you the most Artful of weeks. May your eggnog stay cold, your hearts warm and your creativity continue to fuel your soul.
I’ve been making sculptural wire forms for my jewelry and mixed-media for a while now, so I decided it was high time to teach a workshop on the techniques. I have been smitten by the transformation paper undergoes since the first moment I learned how to make resin paper from Susan years and years ago. I’ve talked about this moment many times. It truly was like the Heavens opened up so new Art Muses could take my hands and lead me down an entirely new path of work. I have experimented with every type, shape, size and kind of paper over the years. We’ll be working with a dozen more of my tried and true favs during our time together. If you’re interested in this process at all and plan to be in Tucson for the Gem Show, please take a look at my class. We’ll be at the To Bead True Blue Show Feb. 2- 10, 2014. As always, I take all those experimentations in my studio — all the fails and successes — and develop workshops for my students so its guaranteed success with none of the heartache. I like to tell my students I always ask myself “What if?” so you don’t have to. (grin)
With three hours together, you will definitely be able to make multiple pairs of earrings. Or you can make one pair of earrings and use the rest of your time to make a pendant or focals for other pieces of work. While I always put together project-based classes for people who wish to walk out with a completed art project, I work space for play and experimentation in my teaching style so people leave with pieces that express their individual expression.
Come join me. Learn how to take humble materials like this:
If you adore making jewelry then you know that Tucson, Arizona is the place to be in February with all the shows that pop up in hotels and tents from one end of town to the other. I’ll be teaching ICE Resin, metalworking and mixed-media jewelry workshops again this year at the To Bead True Blue show. Susan is teaching some killer enameling workshops this year where students will not only play with both hot and cold enameling, but will also create Talisman shapes that will be the base for color. Linda McNulty, Susan’s sister and an amazing encaustic artist, is teaching encaustic jewelry techniques that can be translated to all mixed-media from collage and assemblage to jewelry. Kristen Robinson is also at the show teaching how to make some of the loveliest adornments using her Rue Romantique line.
One of my brand new workshops for 2014 that I’m really excited about is Breaking Out of the Bezel. You know how much I love making molds from found objects and casting them in ICE Resin. While it’s been awesome to see my students walk out with so many cool components to use in their work, I decided it was time to take the workshop up a notch and teach some intermediate to advanced resin techniques to create truly unique and dimensional finished works of wearable art. I am seriously so jazzed about this workshop that February can’t get here quickly enough!
I’ll be talking about and showing art samples of all my Tucson workshops on my blog over the next few days. However, I wanted to start getting the word out that registration is going on now. We’ve set a smaller student number on workshops so be sure to take a look. If you’re interested, I suggest you go ahead and sign up rather than waiting. When they’re filled, they’re gone.
Here’s wishing you a joyous weekend! I’m sure most of you are attending holiday parties or involved in family events, as I am. This means no time in the studio for real work, but it’s OK. Tis’ the season!
I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family — lots of great home cooking, talking, laughing and reminiscing with my parents and godparents, whom I love so much. For those of you who have had to watch your parents age before your eyes, you know how hard it is to see them become frail with each passing year. I’ve been so busy lately raising my kids and working and moving fast that it was painful to see how slow both my godmother and father are moving these days. But the interesting thing about stopping to notice their fragility made me consider how frail we all can be at times.
The theme was reinforced by Saturday morning when both my son and I came down with a pretty bad cold. The job to care for us fell to my husband, who did everything he could to take care of our needs and keep my little one busy so I could sleep and sleep and sleep to let my body heal. By Sunday, I felt as frail and slow moving as my elders and I think it was the universe’s way of telling me to STOP and rest my body because the pace I’ve been keeping has been a tad off kilter.
Another synchronicity appeared during this time of illness. I received my complimentary contributor’s copy to Seth Apter’s new book The Mixed Media Artist. I’ve written a number of posts on this in the past few months as he’s been ramping up for it’s release. I knew the art pieces and information I had contributed, and I’ve followed the other artists he’s featured on his blog. After sleeping for almost 14 hours straight (no exaggerating), I woke about midnight and had to get up and move. In the utter stillness of my house with my family sleeping soundly, I sat on my sofa with only my reading lamp turned on and devoured every single word of Seth’s book right there. As I was absorbing it — literally wringing it out like a sponge — I had a moment where my body is present but my mind is detached and observing, almost like watching a film. I was so engaged in the complete quiet of my home in the literal dead of night by the artists profiled in his book that the experience was nothing short of profound.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I could even re-create this moment should I wish. Not often am I in such a quiet, slow moving state where I’m a non-normal version of myself. Had it been a normal day, I would have opened Seth’s book, turned to my page to look at my photo, glanced at my work, leafed though the pages to make metal note of the work and artists who intrigued me and then put it down until I could make an hour or two in my schedule that week to read.
Absolutely I would have laughed at some of the clever responses, felt a twang of this or that at other bits and pieces of insight and been inspired by some of the absolutely amazing art within its pages. Even in a normal day I would have Facebooked or Tweeted to give Seth props for a job well done. I probably would have emailed him to send a personal note of thanks and to congratulate him. But because I was taken so far out of my comfort zone and normal routine by the circumstance, I did none of that. Instead I sat down to share my experience here.
Here’s a fact. To be a working artist now in mixed media means there are some wonderful opportunities…amazing opportunities… to get your work in front of others. One does not need to solely rely on publishers and printed books and magazines for praise, criticism and feedback. Artists can reach out though Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, forums, Instagram and so many ways to create connections and get their work seen and talked about by others.
Amongst all of this is a lot of promoting and publicity. Yep, I do it too. Mostly because it’s truly an integral part of the job in today’s world as a contemporary artist (not as in genre but as in living in today’s era, contemporary times, meaning right now). But I also do it because telling stories is who I am. I love to tell people about articles I’ve read, art I’ve seen, cool people I’ve met, opportunities I’ve jumped on and some personal details here and there as much as its possible to share without being nauseating or narcissistic.
I can tell by the book Seth just wrote (as well as his first one, The Pulse of Mixed Media) that he’s a kindred spirit in life’s unfolding. This book is not about promotion. It’s 40+ people who took the opportunity to be real and honest and raw. I see it as a moment in time telling myself and others that sometimes we need to just slow down and draw inspiration in the stillness.
When I picked my daughter up from preschool on Monday, she was so happy to show me the picture she made for us. “Mama, mama,” she said patting my arm to get my attention because I was talking to her teacher. “I made you and daddy a Thankful Chicken!” I couldn’t help but breaking into a huge grin because she seriously says the cutest things. Her teacher immediately corrected her to say it was a Thanksgiving turkey, but secretly I thought she was more brilliant than all the other kids in her class because it was indeed a very happy and very thankful chicken. Now that’s art!
A few weeks ago, I was shopping for some artisan bakery items for a girlfriends get together when I found these adorable candy turkeys. The head baker had just made them and packaged them up. Not sure if you know this, but I’ve been embedding candy into ICE Resin for a long time now. I’ve also covered Peeps in it at Easter, lips and hearts at Valentine’s Day, candy monsters for Halloween and sweet shoppe Snowmen for Christmas. This is my first turkey though.
Because I’m so thankful I get to live every day of my life as a working artist, writer, business woman and instructor, I thought it might be fun to share a little stepped-out tutorial on how I repurposed candy into a wearable holiday-themed art necklace. Of course, just as this little guy from A.J’s Fine Food Market in Phoenix, Arizona created by an unknown food artisan is no longer a cupcake topper, my necklace is not really a turkey. In honor of my smart, creative, miracle baby girl, whom I’m also so grateful for, this necklace is titled “Thankful Chicken.”
Step one: Prepare your work surface by having your candy items ready on a non stick craft mat. You can use a plastic trash bag (the heavy kind, not a grocery bag), but I prefer a silicone mat because the resin won’t stick to it and because it’s surface is completely smooth so the dried resin peels right up.
Mix up ICE Resin according to the directions and use a disposable paint brush to paint a layer of ICE all over the candy piece - front, back, sides and bottom. Set aside 6-10 hours to dry.
When the resin-covered candy is dry to the touch, drill a hole into for attachment. For less dense candies, you can use a sharp-pointed awl in most cases if you don’t have a drill. I have my flex shaft always at the ready on my workbench, so it’s quickest for me to use my drill.
Now comes the fun part. Add beads to your candy to turn it into jewelry. I drew a bead on the end of a piece of 20-gauge bronze wire and then threaded on two small spacer beads and a larger crystal rondelle bead. Then I put the ”resinated” chicken (turkey) on it. I added another spacer bead and a red crystal and then made a wirewrap loop.
To finish it off, I pulled some Industrial Chic by Susan Lenart Kazmer chain from my stash and made a necklace. Since I wanted it on the longer side, I didn’t worry about a clasp. The necklace slips easily on and off over my head.
All that is left it to wear a complimentary top for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner with my large extended family. When we go around the table like we always do to say what we’re thankful for, I will be answering my family, my work, my friends and my new chicken.
Here’s wishing you an AMAZING Thanksgiving and a truly artful long holiday weekend.
I had such a blast chatting with the fabulous Julie Fei-Fan Balzer and her mom, Eileen Balzer this week. We covered a whole host of topics, but I really enjoyed the part in the discussion about the authenticity artists’ bring to the world. Talks like these just stimulate me so much intellectually. If you listen to the podcast, you’ll hear how I get excited and begin to talk even faster than I do normally (heaven help me!) It was interesting to see that we ran the gamut in our discussion from fine art — museum and gallery quality art — all the way to the Craft and Hobby Association and what it means to walk that line as a designer/artist.
So it you want to get yourself a cup of tea and take a listen to Julie, Elieen and me for the next hour, I’d be honored. Here is Julie’s blog post with all the deets.
Yew haw, My friend Mary Beth Shaw’s brand new book is out. Stencil Girl; Mixed-Media Techniques for Making and Using Stencils has been released by North Light book. Last year, Mary Beth asked me if there was anything I could do with stencils to make some jewelry. Ummm….heck yes, that’s the awesome part of mixed-media jewelry. You can ALWAYS make jewelry using just about any technique there is. Mary Beth said, “Great! Can you do something for my book?” My email reply was one word: “Absolutely!”
I think a lot of you know that my art background is self-taught and that it began with paper crafting. To this day, I love, and I mean LOVE creating with rubber stamps. The cool thing about knowing how to rubber stamp is that anything you can do with a stamp, you can also do with a stencil. Etching onto metal is a technique that I really enjoy doing in my studio. I have quite a stamp collection of images and lots of copper and bronze metal sheet and my trusty StazOn ink pads. These basic supplies and some ferric chloride and I’m good to go.
For my etched bracelets in Mary Beth’s book, I began with 20-gauge bronze sheet metal. When Mary Beth and her husband began Stencil Girl Products a few years ago, they began with her designs. I still have her original stencils and love them for their abstract and organic nature. I pulled the stencils from my stash, taped them to my metal sheet and rubbed black StazOn ink over them to transfer the pattern to the bronze. I then etched the metal and did the metalworking to complete the cuffs. Of course, I wanted to add something more to the cuffs, but since the purpose of this art project was to showcase the technique, all I did to finish them was to add the patina of Jax Brown and then polish with extra fine steel wool.
This is the only metalworking jewelry project in her book. The focus is amazing surface design techniques and all kinds of crafty projects that you can easily create at home using stencils. There are lots of “wow” factor projects that show just how versatile stencils are for mixed-media art; such as her wood burning and encaustic art boards and her painted memories travel journal of her workshop in Durfort. (The same place Susan and I teach when we’re in France.) There are also some wonderful inspirational art samples from some of the top mixed-media teachers/artists in the field today like Pam Carriker, Seth Apter, Leighanna Light, Jane LaFazio, Laurie Mika, Traci Lyn Huskamp and others. I highly recommend buying this book for yourself or other mixed-media art/craft lovers on your holiday shopping list. Also, for more stencil inspiration, be sure to check out Stencil Girl Products company blog.
Here’s wishing everyone a truly Artful day!