Nattering Nabobs of Negativity

A dear friend died in May, 2010. He was so supportive when his close friend and our friend Ray died and during Shari’s illness and death soon after.  The fact that he died so soon after they did seems surreal.  But he loved to laugh and he loved the outdoors.  He took to the Appalachian Trail in Spring of 2009.  He sent out the pictures  you see here when he returned.

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There remains the matter of the skunk.  Before he died, he gave me permission to post the video (see  below)  on this blog,  provided that I  identified him by his stage name,  Raoul McCool.  He sent out the video to  friends who knew his secret identity with this note:

“Please recall that, among the photographs of his Appalachian Trail hike that he sent to you in May [2009], were several that clearly showed [Raoul] in close conversation with a small black and white striped creature that many of you correctly identified as a skunk.  Unfortunately, [Raoul] was profoundly saddened to learn that some of you expressed doubt as to the authenticity of the said skunk.  Some of you went so far as to opine audaciously that the said skunk was, in fact, a stuffed skunk that [Raoul] had carried with him for some 50 treacherous miles over the mountains.  Some of you even stated that you would not be convinced of [Raoul’s] near supernatural ability to psychically commune with our little tuxedoed terrorists of the terai unless you saw a video of him conversing with an real independently moving skunk.

Well, you nattering nabobs of negativity.  Cast your doubting eyes upon the attached video file, oh ye of little faith, and thence go forth and doubt no more.”  -Raoul McCool

Goodbye Raoul.  You were a good friend and you made us laugh.  We will all miss you  terribly.  Especially the skunk.

The Best of Step By Step Beads

I got a nice surprise this week when I learned that  my Tokyo Rows beaded bracelet project made it into Interweave’s  collector’s edition of  The Best of Step By Step Beads.

The Japanese Flower motif is not original with me but I love it because it lends itself to so many variations.   It’s easy to take one flower and make a simple pendant, and that’s just one example.

Here are some brooches based on the same motif

I once thought that  Japanese bead work made the most interesting use of the beaded flower until  I saw some stunning Brazilian pieces using this motif when I visited Rio De Janeiro a few years ago.  Here is one of the bracelets I bought there, that’s a variation of the design.

With forty projects, there’s plenty of material in The Best of Step By Step Beads to keep you busy for awhile.  The best part of developing a design, however, is when someone takes it in a new direction.   Triche Osborne ‘s  Candy Wheels Necklace is just one example of how you can take a beading concept and make it your own.

Thank you Interweave!

New Metal Work

Soldered copper patinated with liver of sulfur

Recycled brass from an old charger plate!

Soldered copper patinated with ammonia and salt

Torch fired enamel on copper

Tuning Up My Colors

Are your color combinations flat?

Chapter 6 of Polymer Clay Color Inspirations starts with the observation, “All color combinations are not created equal. Some are more successful than others.”  I’ll second that.    How many canes have I made where I couldn’t see the pattern because the colors did not contrast?  On the other hand, I  have turned out my share of pieces where the color contrast is so great it diminishes the mood I want the piece to convey.  I want to have more control over my work and to develop the ability to compose calmer palettes that are still interesting.

I always thought in terms of hue contrasts, but Lindly and Maggie point out that there are value and saturation contrasts too, and the way one chooses to emphasize them (or not) is key to orchestrating successful color combinations.

The first exercise in this chapter is to mix seven colors from your collage and place them in strips on a sheet of mud to see how they contrast with one another.

Here are the color formulas I came up with using my personal palette. That’s a digital scale I like to use to weigh the clay.

Here are my color recipes:

1.) 5 parts white and one part  my magenta
2.) 1/2 my blue and 1/2 my yellow with a bit of white
3.) 3 parts yellow to one part magenta
4.) 4/5 blue and 1/5 magenta
5.) blue and yellow and white
6.) 7 parts yellow and one part blue
7.) 3 parts magenta to one part white

Here are the colors on the collage. I can’t believe how fast I mixed them.  Now that  color mixing is easier for me and more instinctive,  I need to learn how to use those colors  to convey the mood I want instead of leaving it to chance.

Here are my colors placed on the mud (5 parts black and one part each of my blue, yellow and magenta.)

Here are the colors baked and unbaked side by side.  It’s hard to see, but numbers 3 and 4 darkened in the baking.

On to the next exercise!