Greetings From Moscow!

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St. Basil’s Cathedral

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Le Mutt in Red Square!

I will be posting more about our Moscow experience.  Suffice it to say that the Russians are always rushing (at least in Moscow) but I had no trouble going out and finding my way around with the help of a map and occasional requests for directions (it helps to write down the Cyrillic version of your destination just on case the person you ask does not speak English).  The people I have met have been very cordial and helpful.

Adjustable Bangle (with Dangle!)

Adjustable Bangle with Dangle

This is a story of how I designed a new bracelet that are intended to be gifts. I love bangles and sizing is always an issue.  I know that the intended recipients are relatively small women but I didn’t feel comfortable enough to guess their hand sizes and make conventional bangles.  I decided to make something that could accommodate different sizes.

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I started out with thick brass  wire forms that I  purchased at Wolf Myrow  a few years ago.  I had originally thought they were tubes.  In fact, they were solid wire maybe 8 gauge.  I like the look of square wire so I annealed them and  squared the wire in my rolling mill.Stages of wire

This picture shows the same wire in three stages.  The top shows how it started out, the middle is after bending and the bottom is after a few passes in the rolling mill.  The wire gets  thinner and longer.  You have to be careful not to reduce it too fast or you will distort the edges.  And you also have to make sure the wire is properly annealed.  Brass wire is hard.

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After I squared the wire,  I annealed it again and shaped it around a bracelet mandrel.  I hadn’t yet decided what to do with the ends.  I ended up sawing off a few inches,

Formed Wires

Here are three bracelets with the ends sawed off.

Design Consideratons

I was considering soldering some bronze metal clay medallions that I had made earlier onto one of the ends or the middle of the bracelets, but I thought it would look wonky.  Plus if the medallion was in the middle of the bracelet, the solder would get wear from the bracelet flexing when it was put on and taken off.  So why not try making a dangle from a medallion? The brass is so hard that I made a mock up in copper to see how I liked the idea.

Copper detailI drilled a hole in a copper bracelet and fashioned a dangle from a copper metal clay medallion.  I like the bracelet and the medallion-just not together.  For one thing, the dangle didn’t move the way I liked.   I was limited in the side of the jump rings I could use because the hole in the bracelet could only accommodate 20 gauge wire.  And the medallion only had one interesting side.  That would work for a pendant, but not for a focal dangle on this bracelet.

holes drilled in center of bangles

Speaking of hole drilling,  did I mention that brass is a hard metal?  Still I was able to drill a hole in each bangle pretty easily, with patience, the right tools, and some safety precautions.

Drilling

When you drill a piece of metal, you need to tape it  securely to a sturdy piece of wood with masking tape.  As you drill, the metal and drill bit get so hot that the wood smokes.  See the  dark spots?  Those are burn marks from prior drillings. You remove metal when you drill and it scatters like dust.  I like to wear safety glasses and a dust mask when I drill like this.

Bdangle detail

I finally settled on dangles made from brass shapes I originally made for a necklace clasp I designed.  I drilled holes in them, added porcelain beads I made many years ago, and attached then to the bracelet with a jump ring that I soldered for added security.B2

The bangles have enough give to open wider when you put them on and you can close them a bit when they are around the wrist.  I rounded off the ends with a file and sanded them smooth to make the putting on and taking off as comfortable as possible.

By the time you read this,  I will be on my way to deliver them to the recipients.  Of course, I had to make one for myself, too!

Jim Loewer, Glass Artist and Teacher

I met glass artist and teacher Jim Loewer earlier this month on the  POST tour of  1241 Carpenter Street.  He studied fine art in college and graduated with a degrees in teaching and painting but always had a fascination with glass.  After spending a few years as a teacher, however, he decided to  follow his passion and became a full-time glass artist.   He taught himself by trial and error and now he is a  a successful wholesaler of his work.  If you take a look at his on-line gallery, it’s not hard to understand why.

Even better,  Jim has decided to go back to his roots as a teacher and give lessons in lampworking and glass blowing!  Here are some pictures of him demonstrating how to make a multi-colored  glass sun catcher.

Jim Loewer1. Jim’s torch.

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He has heated the end of a glass punty, added colors and has blown it out.

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Plunging on a graphite surface

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After some additional steps he breaks the disk off the glass punty and puts it the kiln.

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The finished product.

Jim offers regularly-scheduled pendant design workshops, and glass blowing lessons for one or two people.  You can contact him here for more information.   Click here to read some reviews from people who have taken his classes.  And check out his Etsy and Facebook pages.

Another Post on Post (Philadelphia Open Studio Tours)

I posted last year about attending the Philadelphia Open Studio Tour  of 915 Spring Garden Street.  This huge building used to be owned by the Reading Railroad.  For the past thirty years, however, it has housed around 100 artists and their studios.

No more. After a minor fire at 915 Spring Garden in early September of this year, and the City Department of License and Inspections conducted a post-fire examination and found numerous  City code violations-so many that  L&I ordered the artists to evacuate and to stay out of the building until the code violations are corrected.   The building has been closed indefinitely. For more information,  press herehere and here.

Unless the artists have binding contracts with the owners/managers of the building, which I doubt, my guess is that the building will be sold to a developer and turned into condos or apartments leaving most of the artists in an untenable position. Inquirer columnist Inga Saffron wrote an excellent article on the closing of 915 Spring Garden Street and the difficulty artists face finding studio space in a tight real estate market. You can read her article here.

For this year’s open studio tours I headed to 1241 Carpenter Street– a big old factory building right in my neighborhood. When I  walked into Stella Untalan’s studio, (Be sure to click on the links to her incredible art.  There was a reason I was hanging out in her studio! ) she was having a lively discussion with Steven Krupnick who bought the building forty years ago and operates a business there.  It turns out that he is determined to maintain this building as affordable space for artist studios.   This is not how these things usually go. The neighborhood was pretty bad 40 years ago and for someone to buy property in an area like 12th and Carpenter, maintain it (which is what you do when you are not a speculator), pay it off and not sell it  to developers so artists can have studio space is a tremendous contribution to the City. I cannot fault people who buy property and sell it at a profit, but I greatly admire people like Steve Krupnick who give back to the community.   The City of Philadelphia owes him a debt.

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1241 Carpenter Street is a big old factory building.  Some artists from the Spring Garden Studios were able to find space in 1241 Carpenter, but by no means all of them.  There is now a waiting list.

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Tim McFarlane’s cards outside his tiny studio.  Click the links below to see his work.

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PD Packard is a print maker, watercolorist and book artist from Brooklyn, NY.  She  led a hands-on shibori dying workshop.  Check out this post about her on Seth Apter’s Blog.

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Here’s my shibori-dyed paper.

PD blogs herself and she teaches.  I have one friend I think I could talk into traveling to Brooklyn and trying a class with me.

Stella Untalan Studio

Stella Untalan’s studio

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Stella Untalan from 365+1 #drawing a day

Reception

MeganMcManus1Megan McManus and  her whimsically deviant faux fingernail sculptures.  She is also a painter,

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Jim Loewer  (I will do an in-depth post on him in the future)

1241 C Hall

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I can never resist a self portrait.

Seriously,  I saw a lot of beautiful work on this tour and got to visit and and speak with many incredible artists.  Here are some more:

Tim McFarlane 

Colette Fu

For a full list, press here.

Thank you artists, thank you Steven Krupnick and thank you POST sponsors!

A Walk to the Post Office

Not much to say this week. Just some pictures of a lovely mosaic installation I encountered one afternoon on my way to the Post Office at 10th and Dickinson Streets in South Philadelphia.

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