If a Thing Loves, It Is Infinite.

She had a positive  influence on  most of the pivotal events of my adult life.   From where I stand today,  I can look back and see that  the gifts she gave me continue to to  impact the lives of  people she will never meet.  That’s why they call love eternal.     Acts of love do not diminish the giver; they enrich the giver and the receiver.  Love lasts as long as  the  wave  it sets in motion continues to travel.   As long as her waves ripple through the years, she is still here.


Love  is  Infinite

                 -William Blake


The Art of Sherman

Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild member Sherman Oberson made these wonderful chess pieces at Clayathon this year. I can’t wait to see the rest!

The Queen

Her(?) King


Special Forces

The rest of the Pawns


A Second Rook

A Knight

Your Other Knight

The Bishop

Are Knights on the rim grim?

Epaulette Mate

The Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild is holding its annual fundraiser in support of its Guest Artist program this Sunday. For more information, press here.

And we have a new YouTube channel!  Awesome!  To see it,  click here.  We’ll be featuring our own  videos and playlists of  videos from around YouTube.

Meanwhile in my Workshop

I’ve been a little scattered these past months last through months  jumping from   beading to  quilting to casting glass to polymer clay and crocheting without much focus.   I’ve also been practicing my soldering  and playing “let’s put that through the rolling mill and see what happens.” Or arranged components in different combinations to see how they look. The picture below  shows a copper spiral I put through the rolling mill,  some bent wire, and an enameled metal scrap.  I don’t think  the pieces go together, but you don’t know until you try.

Here are some  ceramic shards from my pottery days.

I used high fire white porcelain  with mason stains to color the clay.  I had previously  tumbled the the with cheap cleanser  until the surfaces were a buttery matte. A couple of years ago I took the same shards and tumbled then with the polish meant to be used in the last stage of rock tumbling. Boy was I surprised-they got glossy shiny. 
Some shards were finely crazed on the surface and I rubbed ink and shoe dye into a lot of these. I have made pendants out of some of them; you can drill holes in them the same way you drill glass.


Here’s my box of  of metal scraps. I should call it my magic box because whenever a need a certain piece of metal, I can find it in there. The brass pieces in the left compartment of the middle shelf are these cool fixtures of a chest of drawers. I am going to use them upside down as focal pieces in necklaces. I am still thinking about the design

Here are some bezels. The one in the foreground holds a bullseye glass cab I fused awhile ago. The curl of copper in the back (left)  is what remained when I cut a thin sheet of copper with metal shears. The metal curls up and looks so interesting. I still have to think of a way to use these.

Fold forming and patina experiments.  I think the verdigris needs to be toned down  or eliminated.  This might make for an interesting pendant.

Here I am trying to hold a piece steady for in order to solder one little thing to it.  When you solder, anything  you use to clip or bind pieces together draws the heat from your torch and makes the process more difficult.   
Bead caps are easy to make.  Just take a disc (bought or cut  with a disc cutter) make a hole in the center with a hole punch, and shape  with a dapping die and punch.
More components looking for  a home.  The white bead is polymer clay.
You enamel the bead caps after you make them.    You don’t have to use them as bead caps.  The above dangle could be an earring or an embellishment.
More enameled scraps
A few years ago, Theresa Mowery of Patina Studio suggested Miracle Gro plant food after reading one of my posts on patina experiments. It works great! But I live in an urban area where my own garden is a weed growing out of a crack in my front steps. So I got liquid plant food that has similar ingredients to Miracle Gro ( just compare the labels) so I would not have to buy a large box of plant food and mix it up. The liquid plant food even comes with an eye dropper.
Here are some finished copper pendants tucked into my patina jar that’s filled with Kosher salt. I screwed the lid on and will check it after a few days to see how the patina is developing.
Here’s  some other pieces.  I put on the patina and am leaving them in the open air to see what happens.
The pictures below show the front and back of a pendant in progress.  I etched a piece of brass and patinated it with the ammonia and salt method.  Then I  cut out the shape, made a hole and shaped it in a swage block.
I filed the edges smooth and added a ring, washer and dangle with  enameled ends.    I think this pendant will undergo some more changes before I’m happy with it.

 Once it’s the way I want it, I will finish the pendant with a coat of Renaissance Wax to protect the patina.
If you’re in Philadelphia this weekend, don’t miss the Spring Art Star Craft Bazaar Saturday, May 12th & Sunday, May 13th, 11-6pm at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, which is along Columbus Blvd, between Walnut & Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA

Inspiration from The Infant of Prague

I’m not producing many finished pieces  in my workshop right now.  I’m in a playing phase.  I collect  materials and make components  without any idea of what I am going to do with them.  I solder things together,  and  try different patina formulas and  techniques that are new to me.    At some point,  I’ll plan out  a project  using what I’ve learned.  Sometimes I even make something I like.   Maybe.  Or maybe I start all over.  But since I’m playing and having fun it’s ok.

I don’t have to worry too much the cost of materials because  I get a lot of them  from  sidewalks and house sales.  When I something interesting  that could work as part of a jewelry design  I grab it  if I can.  (Assuming it’s not someone’s hood ornament or something.)     I’ve become more selective as my collection has grown which is a good thing.  I don’t want to be a mindless collector of domestic detritus and end up on a reality show about hoarding crafters.  Most  of my metal is reclaimed electrical wire, and brass and copper that had previous lives as plumbing or refrigerator parts, kitchen ware and the like. I’ve bought more than one brass tray at a garage sale for next to nothing and used it for jewelry. I understand that this is now the “in” thing to do, but it’s frugal too.  That’s why I started doing it.

Which brings me to the Infant of Prague and his role in my jewelry making inspiration.  (If you are confused, feel free to continue reading.)

 I was at a flea market and saw the crown you see in the picture above.  When I asked the guy who was selling it (along with other assorted piles of junk) how much it was,  he responded with a question.  (Don’t you hate it when people do that?)

 “You ever hear of the Infant of Prague?” 

 “The Infant of Prague, ” I repeated to myself . . “Infant of —

All of a sudden,  cars screeched to a  to a halt.  Dogs stopped barking, children stopped playing.  The earth’s rotation stopped (OK, it probably didn’t, but it seemed like it) while  I had a flashback to my childhood.    Memories of  dark churches,  smoky  incense,  tall ornate  statues and  ill-tempered Nuns in ankle-length habits started flooding my brain.  I could hear the ethereal tones of  a Gregorian chant  off in the distance-and bells.  I swear I could hear bells.

Let me explain.  I suffered through twelve years of Catholic school.  That included forced conscription into the annual  May Procession,  Stations of the Cross, and choir practice.    My suffering took on a whole new meaning when I attended church  Wilkes Barre Pennsylvania where I had relatives.  Wilkes-Barre had been a destination for many Catholic  immigrants from   Eastern Europe.  It seems like there was a church on every corner (What do I mean “seemed?  There was a church on every corner) where one could hear Mass in the native tongue be it Ukrainian, Croatian,   Slavic, Czech, or any dialect or sub dialect.  And there were  there touches of   scary and exotic (to me) Eastern Europe in the rituals, ceremonies, vestments and church statuary.   The immigrants brought their special icons and saints with them-St. BarnabasSt. Olaf – Saints  we didn’t read about much at my school where mostly everyone was of Irish descent (and all the boys worshiped the Notre Dame football team; what’s up with that anyway?  My husband is Jewish and he sure doesn’t  tear up the living room sofa  when Brandeis takes the field.  Am I missing something?)  There was nothing very exotic about  my Catholic school in New Jersey- especially after Vatican II.   Tedious yes.  Painfully tedious.  Exotic-no.  Going to church in  Wilkes Barre  was tedious too, but at least the churches were exotic; the  relics of ancient tradition and worship  were very important in to the immigrant congregations Northeast Pennsylvania.  And  one of them was the Infant of Prague.

The Infant of Prague entered my life when someone  gave my  cousin an Infant of Prague doll.  It sat on a dresser in his room covered in plastic to keep the dust off  its lace and brocade robes.  The Infant clutched an orb which looked like a softball that someone had stabbed with a crucifix.   I was fascinated.  But we weren’t allowed to play with the Infant who spent all his time up on the dresser staring at us.  It was only when I reached adulthood that I released  he was  spying for my  Grandmother.

 I always  wanted pry the orb from the Infant’s  hand and try to roll it across the floor like a  bowling ball.   I never did, but it was tempting.  To this day I am certain that if I had done so, I would have gone straight to hell  when I died.  It was only the likelihood of my Grandmother creating a hell on earth for me if I got caught that saved my mortal soul.  Maybe.   We were Catholic after all and as that famous Catholic George Carlin said, “It was a sin to wanna.”  And I sure did wanna.

 When my niece was about three,  one of  her grandmothers gave her  a quilted nylon bathrobe  that came down to her ankles.  You know-the kind you wear on Christmas morning and take to the hospital when you have your tonsils out.   When she first put it, on I burst out laughing because she reminded me  of the Infant of Prague.   (The John Waters version from his movie Multiple Maniacs.)  I shared my opinion with her parents and maybe that’s the reason I was never-never mind.    By now you must be wondering what this has to do with inspiration and making jewelry.  That  must mean that we  have reached the end of the flashback and   need to get  back to the flea market  to see what happens  next.

“Yes,” I gulped to the man with the piles of junk for sale.   “I have heard of the Infant of Prague.”

‘Well, this here is from a statue of the Infant of Prague”, he explained  handing the crown to me.  “I don’t know what happened to the rest of it.  You can have it for fifty cents.”

“Sold American!”   I hooted,  fishing two quarters out of my pocketbook.  I took my prize home and tried to put it on the cat’s head and take his picture, but Plumpton was having none of it.

The Infant’s crown now sits on the top shelf  of my jeweler’s bench.  I think it’s brass.  I’ve already used one of the  pieces as part of  an embellishment.  But since it is the crown of the Infant of Prague,  I can’t waste it on just anything.   So there it sits waiting for the right project.