Friday, February 26, 2010

New shapes, new glazes...

Those of you who are very familiar with my work know that I have many styles. I love vintage inspired pieces, reproductions of designs that were created over 100 years ago... that kind of thing really makes me blissful and long, in a big way, for time travel. But I also love modern. Modernist to be exact. When I look to jewelry makers who inspire me, who make me want to be a better maker myself, I look to the modernist jewelry makers of the last mid-century. There are too many to name here but you would be doing yourself a huge favor by picking up a few copies of Marbeth Schon's books Modernist Jewelry 1930-1960 and Form and Function: American Modernist Jewelry 1940-1970. These books will make your brain explode. In a good way.

Lately I have been playing around with simple shapes and marveling at how bold these shapes can look just because they are simple. Does that make any sense? Sometimes simple is risky. I mean, not many of us would walk around completely naked, right? It would be the simple thing to do but most of us would feel better layering on the clothes, hiding the less-than-attractive bits and maybe glitzing up our look with a little bling (and thank god we do this... can you imagine?). So when designing simple jewelry there is much to be considered. Are your foundation pieces in good enough shape to get naked for all the world to see?

OK, so this is getting a little silly. I'm tired and need to sleep but first I wanted to share with you my simple shapes and new glazes. I've been testing a bunch of new glazes and these are two that have passed the test thus far. They aren't perfect yet. I keep tweaking them and so far they haven't come out the same twice. But I'll keep at it and figure out just what they want.

Antique Amber is what I am calling this one. It's my idea of the perfect yellow. Golden but not too GOLD. Rustic and organic. It makes the simple shapes look not so simple.

This pair is in the same off-kilter rectangle shape as the amber pair, just a little bigger. This glaze is amazing. It has a slightly rough texture, or tooth. The color is like patinated metal with rusty bits peeking through. It's wonderful.

I call this pair CHOMP Hoops. Because they look like someone took a chomp out of the top of them. See? Not just simple shapes, but simple(minded) names as well. :)

These little treasures can be found in the shop.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Round Rabbit Extra Update!

I just finished loading alllll these pieces in the Extra shop. There are a lot of new designs so be sure to take a look.





No, I didn't list Petey and Laurel in the shop. I just thought this photo was funny and had to share it. Petey is super grumpy because he has a Vet appointment tomorrow (notice the evil eye he is shooting me) and Laurel is showing off her girlish figure. (Yes, I know they are both a little on the chubby side. We are working on that...)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New jewels

I put some new fancy jewels in the shop today. First up is Marie Antoinette, before and after. I am very pleased with how these pendants came out (and I'm still giggling over them). I glazed them in a style that was keeping with the antique/French vibe. I'm also quite thrilled with the new sterling silver chains that I oxidized. They came out very peacock in coloration which is pretty darn pretty.

This school of horses also made their way into the shop today. Seahorses, that is. I'm in love with these guys!

I listed the green one but you actually get to choose which color sets your heart aflutter. What color are seahorses, incidentally?

The final new design is a lovely open oval. It's a bit like wearing a picture frame on a chain, only it's tiny, and pretty, and people will be inclined to say "oh my! What a unique and wonderful necklace! You are too cool for words!" :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

These people are losers... pass it on!

There is a company called Forever Silvers whose entire inventory consists of metal bead and component designs that were stolen from other artists. They have blatantly made copies of the work of different artists, claiming it as their own. And by copies I mean they purchased the original beads, made casts of the original pieces and then made replicas to sell. It doesn't get much sleazier than that.
DO NOT PURCHASE FROM THESE PEOPLE. Please. And while you're at it feel free to pass this info along on your blogs, in letters to the editors of your favorite beading magazines and the organizers of various bead shows and conventions. Let them know that by knowingly allowing unethical sellers to advertise, sell or be represented by their publications or shows they become an accessory to perpetuating illegal behavior (and that their names will be plastered all over the blogosphere ad nauseum, and that ain't pretty) .

For more information directly from one of the artists, Cynthia of Green Girl Studios, see her blog here. And please pass this information along to any and all. The beading community is a strong and mouthy one so let's all do it proud and shout it from the roof tops!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Revived and ready for action!

Thank you, everyone, for all your very encouraging comments after my bout with the workaholic blues yesterday. It was fleeting, thankfully. This morning I woke up so anxious to get to the studio and pop open the kiln, I couldn't get out of the house fast enough. It was still pretty hot but I slipped on the leather gloves and melted my finger tips off just to get my little pile of pieces. It never ceases to amaze me how seven hours of glazing can fit neatly into a Chinese take-out container with ease.

There are a lot of beautiful pieces in this batch and I can't wait to turn them into jewelry (Headless Marie is in the house!). There are also a lot of new pieces for the Extra shop so look for an update sometime this week. :)

In between drooling over my goodies I worked on this week's batch of molds. I have so many new designs these days that I seriously wonder if they will all see the light of day. I usually try to make several pieces from each new mold, just to see how it looks, but then I tend to pick my favorites and focus on them. I need to show my love equally to each and every mold and give each of them their chance to shine... And then I need to check myself into the mental hospital so that I will stop talking about molds as though they were actual living entities with feelings.
(That's nothing. You should hear me talk to my rabbits...c-r-a-z-y)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My pity party... and you're all invited

So so tired. This has been a very busy week. Many, many hours in the studio. Many, many hours sanding, glazing, loading kilns, unloading kilns... There are days when I wish I could chronicle just what goes into doing what I do. I know there are many of you who understand completely. Those of you who make your entire living from what you make with your hands. Those who sell online, do shows, sell wholesale, promote, photograph, network, blog, ship... and that isn't even the actual making part. My work day lasts all day, every day. I feel guilty when I stop for even an hour. I can't even relax and watch TV without feeling like I should be working at the same time. So I do. I make pieces, I make components, I stamp bags to get ready for shows, I line boxes with tissue, I make lists of supplies that I desperately need and rarely can afford, I fill out show applications, I write articles for publication... suddenly this time of relaxation is no longer that.

It's a different ballgame when creating isn't your hobby, it's your living. It is both stressful and therapeutic. It is both enslaving and liberating. It is often solitary and solipsistic. There are days when it feels effortless and others when each and every move drains all the blood from my body.

So this is the part where I'm supposed to say "And yet I would have it no other way! I love what I do!" Well, yes, it's true, but still... it's hard and don't let anyone tell you differently.

Having said all that and gotten it out of my system, I am done feeling whiny and sorry for myself. And please, don't feel obligated to cater to my mood. I know you all know where I am coming from and have felt the same way from time to time and I thank you for indulging me during my pity party (...if you read this far, and I would not blame you if you didn't!).

(Yes, I changed my background again. I think I am done now. I needed some color, the last brown one was just toooooooo brown.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I'm gonna sit on this one.

Alright, this is it. For now. I think this background is pretty, modern and neutral and it doesn't compete with my photos. It might be a little too brown for my liking but I am going to live with it for a while and see how I feel (and a new spanky fresh banner will probably spice it up a bit). Thanks so much to everyone for your feedback. I liked the other two backgrounds a lot but they felt a little too I'M A BACKGROUND LOOK AT ME! Ya know what I mean?

Tell me what you think of this one. I think I like it. It seems friendly.

(Thanks to Doreen for compiling such a great list of free blog backgrounds! Check out all her hard work here.)
(And Erin, your description of getting Petey in a modeling mood was spot on! He is a true diva - snacks and wind machine for sure...)

How's this one?

OK. So I have to agree with what a bunch of you said.. the last background was just too distracting. It was competing with my photos. I really liked it but it just won't work so I am trying a new one. I am going to work on a new banner so that will probably change at some point as well (have to get Petey in the modeling mood).

So what do you think of this one?
(I really appreciate the input. After all, it is YOU who is looking at this blog so I want it to be super inviting and extra snazzy.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Busy?

I should be posting about The House at Riverton (late as always). Instead I am showing you my new owl bracelet and my new blog background. I like the bracelet. Not too sure about the background. It might be a little busy. And yet, I like it somehow. Maybe. I don't know. What do you think?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy, shiny silver

I've been making ear wires all day. It's a chore I've been putting off for a while but my earring inventory has gotten so low, I had no choice (show season is just on the horizon - must have zillions of earrings!). I have to say, though, that the new tumbler I received for Christmas makes this task almost a pure delight.

Boy, does it cut down on the clean up! I plop the pieces in after I pickle them and a little while later I have sparkly, blindingly shiny silver ready to be transformed into snazzy ear wires. Love it! How did I ever live without one for so long?

So a big thank you goes out to my baby brothers, Joshua, Patrick and Donald! You guys totally rock (tumbler)!
(Ha! Get it? Rock tumbler... oh, I've been cracking myself up so much lately...)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tee hee...

I probably shouldn't be enjoying this as much as I am, but... yesterday when I was cleaning up my new Marie Antoinette pieces for the bisque firing I came up with the bright idea to...

...chop off her head.


I can't stop giggling over this! Yes, simple pleasures, I know. This is going to be my new favorite necklace for the summer. I can't wait! :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Still catching up

Look below this post for my Bead Soup Party piece!

I don't know about you but I am still reading all the Bead Soup blogs. I've still got quite a few to go, actually. Has everyone been inspired by all the amazing pieces that are out there? I know I have! The wire work in particular has my brain all swirly with ideas.

I'm also trying to finish up The House at Riverton for the book club, but I am running behind. I know there are several of you who have already completed your pieces (they are amazing and I will comment on them very soon!). For the rest of you who might be like me, well, I guess we need to hurry up! Yikes!

In other news, isn't that new piece at the top of this post just lovely? I knew the moment I saw that stamping that I had to make a mold of it. I have a great need to see everything made out of porcelain. My goal is to make molds of everything in my house and replace the originals with porcelain replicas. OK, not really... but if my life were a Tim Burton movie, that's what the set would look like. :)

Both the new piece and this pretty lily of the valley piece can be found in my shop. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Let's get this party started!

Ok ya'll, here we go! To see the complete list of the Bead Soup Party participants please visit our ringleader, Lori Anderson's, blog.

So, these are the beads that my wonderfully talented bead partner, Sue Kennedy, made and sent me. Gorgeous, aren't they? I stared at these beads for a loooong time wondering what to do with them. I really wanted the focus to be on the beads so I tried to come up with a way to showcase them.

And this is what I did. A little different, maybe even odd, I'm not sure yet. All I know is that I like it. :)


As you can see this piece is all about the massive pendant that I created from the beads that Sue sent me. I started by making a copper frame which I hammered for texture and then oxidized. I threaded a piece of sterling wire through one of the large focal beads and balled the ends. This is what the copper frame hangs from. Then I made four rows of beads that are wired on to the frame with sterling wire, creating an abacus effect (except you can't slide them around, I really packed them on there).

It was at this point that I realized that I hadn't included any of my own porcelain pieces. Not that I really needed to but I wanted there to be a little clay in this piece so I added one of my butterfly beads to hang at the bottom, complete with copper chain, another SueBead and an antique brass ball button.

I had a minor crisis over what to do with the rest of the necklace. I mean, I put all that energy into the pendant, how could I finish this off without getting really gaudy? After trying different chains and links I finally decided upon this excellent dusty purple leather cord that I found in London last September. I had been hoarding and protecting it but once I laid it next to the pendant and saw how well it matched I knew I had to use it. (And I still have a nice bunch of cord left to hoard away forever, tee-hee...)

I capped the ends of the cord with copper tubing that I hammered flat and drilled a hole to attach the sterling toggle that Sue had sent with the beads. The toggle was a little on the super shiny side so I oxidized it to bring it down a bit and I think it goes rather nicely with the overall piece.

And that's that! What a fun project this was. A big thank you to Lori Anderson for hosting such a great party! Be sure to head on over to her blog to see a complete list of the participants. And also be sure to check out my bead partner, Sue's, blog to see what she did with the beads I sent her. Have fun!

And while I've got your attention feel free to follow my blog by clicking on the link to the right and/or sign up for my new newsletter. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Once again...

...I have given my heart over to color. This gorgeous "dirty" turquoise glaze is my latest love. It's a combo of aqua and robin's egg blue with just the right amount of shabby chicness. This new ruffled fan earring design makes me happy too. Oh how I love to make pretty things! :)

In other news, tomorrow is the big Bead Soup reveal. I finished my piece yesterday. I NEVER finish things ahead of schedule so I am kind of in shock that I did it this time. I'm not sure what came over me. Anyhoo, tomorrow will be a fun day of blog hopping. There are so many people participating in this party and they will all be posting their finished creations so brace yourself for a busy blog reading time. I am going to try to visit each and every participant. It may take me a few days, but I shall do it! There is bound to be a lot of inspiration floating around! :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Thanks Dani!

My friend, Dani, surprised me last weekend at our studio clean-out with a sweet little birthday surprise. Isn't this the cutest stuffed bunny ever! And she MADE it!! Dani is the type of gal who could teach Martha Stewart a thing or two. She can make anything and does it perfectly. She even drew the picture on the card (that's me and Petey!).

I just love my new bunny and the other rabbits have all given it their sniff of approval. (Laurel tried to eat his party hat, but she tries to eat everything.)
Thank you so much Dani!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Round Rabbit Extra update!

I just listed all of these hearts and all these massive large buttons in the Extra shop!

Whew! Now I'm off to glaze. :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

60 is the new 70

So, yes, I have heat again. Hooray! It is amazing how much you miss something once it is gone, if even for only one day. Being cold sucks. I am usually cold, even when the heat is blasting and I have seven layers of clothing on. I sit at my computer wearing my fingerless gloves, sipping tea and mumbling complaints of coldness. But a funny thing has happened since my furnace bit the dust... I am now feeling very warm and cozy even at 60 degrees. This is big news for me. Perhaps I needed a day of total numbing cold to make my body think that 60 is the bee's knees. Anything above that I feel too hot. Weird.

Anyhoo, yesterday was spent in the studio making molds. I have quite a pile of buttons and other various mold-worthy things to get through so I started with around 30 and will do a little more each day. Tomorrow will be a glaze spectacular. Tonight might be a Bead Soup session. I have been mulling around some ideas for my gorgeous pile of beads but I haven't started anything yet. The deadline is approaching so I better get to work! How is everyone else doing with their Bead Soup pieces?

And the winner is....


Abeille à miel! She said:
"
My first painting teacher told me something I've never forgotten - that I had a unique way of expressing motion, and that I should continue to learn from it. That phrase still inspires me!
I'll always remember her. :)"

Congratulations! Send me an email at naneliz2@yahoo.com and I will get your information passed along to Artbeads.com to receive your gift certificate. Yay!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated! And keep your eyes peeled... I feel a button giveaway coming up...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Think warm thoughts

Right at this very moment all these beautiful porcelain pieces are firing away in a very hot kiln. How I envy them. If I could I would crawl into that kiln right now and enjoy the split second of warmth that I would experience just moments before my face would melt off my skull.

Ah yes, blessed heat, how I miss you. My furnace is still down though there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Mr. FurnaceFixerMan is working on the blower motor at this very moment and I have high hopes that the heat will begin to flow in a matter of a few hours. Until then it is major amounts of hot mint tea, many layers of clothing and the occasional nip of blackberry brandy. (As many of you know, I think that blackberry brandy is a cure-all for everything, from a cold to squeaky floor boards... in moderation, of course!)

Stay warm, everyone! I shall return once I have actual feeling in my fingertips!

PS - Don't forget to enter the Artbeads.com $25 gift certificate that I will be giving away on Wednesday!

The unfortunate fortune

"Your hard work will get payoff today."

Translation: Your furnace will die on one of the coldest nights of the year and no repairman will return your emergency phone calls.

It's around 1 in the morning and the temperature outside is 16. The temperature inside isn't far off. My furnace died around 9:00 tonight. After a look-over by my friend/neighbor it would appear that the blower motor has called it quits. Calls have been made to so-called "emergency heating specialists" but I guess the specialists are on vaca. Probably someplace warm, the bastards. It looks like this will have to wait until the morning.

I don't foresee a lot of sleep in my near future as I waver between worry over how I will pay for this latest (in a string of) expensive emergency and how well my poor rabbits will do in the freezing air. (I know, they are rabbits and many people keep them outside, but my bunnies are not used to being cold so I worry, so there.) At least I have electricity and hot water. It's just cold, right? No big deal? Right? I think it might be warmer inside my refrigerator right now.

That rather gross looking fortune above was found on the floor of the studio today as we did a massive cleaning. My friend Dani was hosing down the floor and I was scrubbing it when the fortune went floating by. We both found it very funny as we were breaking our backs (literally) doing all this work. It seemed quite fortuitous. Little did I know that fortunes found floating in muddy, filthy water were no longer good. They are past their "good till" date so my advice to anyone who comes across such a fortune is RUN!

OK, time to get under the electric blanket and watch Sherlock Holmes episodes until morning. Wish me luck.