Bob’s Garden May 2018

The bigs news is that Bob built a new Koi pond this year. The other big news is that Turtle has a brand new perch and a big pot of water hyacinth to munch on. He seems happy and does not appear to be eating the new guppies that Bob has added to the pond.

Bob has added new plants, but think he is still deciding on the final design of the garden. He also has a little collection of plants that people are free to take if they want. While I’m sure Boris would like a plant to chew on, I think I will pass on the offer.

Here are some pictures.

Enjoy the Koi pond!

What I Learned in Bonnie Bishoff’s Class

Last week, I took a two-day workshop with Bonnie Bishoff entitled “Polymer Meets Wire,”  sponsored by the New England Polymer Artist Guild.   Bonnie is probably best known for the extraordinary furniture she made with her husband and artistic partner, J.M. Syron, and her superbly-crafted cane work.   But there was no cane making instruction in Polymer Meets Wire.  Instead, the class was packed with information on how to construct lightweight and durable open forms, findings, and components by first making cores of epoxy clay and wire and then covering them with polymer veneers.  Then she showed us how to assemble them into delicate-looking necklaces, pins, and bracelets that did not rely on soldering to hold them together.

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I am really excited about what I learned because now I have the means to address some design and construction problems that have been dogging me for years!  I also learned about the properties of various metals and why some are better for building inner cores than others.  Good to know.

Class

Bonnie also showed us some clever wire measuring tricks and taught us the ins and outs of working with epoxy clay, Genesis  Heat Set Medium and liquid clay.

My head was exploding by the middle of the first day and I still need to process all I learned.  Fortunately, Bonnie provided us with detailed written materials and drawings.

Here are some pictures of a cuff bracelet that I started in the class and finished when I got home.  Not my favorite cane work, but I have a feeling that I will be making more of these.  Thank you, Bonnie!

 

The class was held in the home of Ann Marie Donovan, who was a gracious, welcoming and friendly hostess.  Not only did she open her home up to 14 students, she provided us with a delicious lunch both days, coffee and snacks.  Thanks, Ann Marie and thanks to Kathryn Corbin for organizing the class and laughing at my jokes.  Well, most of them anyway!

To see more of Bonnie Bishoff and J.M. Syron’s work, check out their Pinterest board.

Looking for Inspiration? Try a Flea Market

Spring is when the outdoor flea markets spring up in Philadelphia.  My favorite Saturday activity is to take long walks through the neighborhoods and hit house sales, sidewalk sales, and flea markets on my way.  I usually look for household items I might need at sidewalk sales.  Estate sales are especially interesting because they are usually held in affluent neighborhoods and you get to see some pretty impressive homes from the inside as well as antiques and art.  You also learn that money does not always equal taste, but we knew that already, didn’t we?

Flea markets are fun because the sellers are generally pretty friendly in my experience and some are eager to talk about their wares even if you don’t buy.  They’re a place to learn, meet people, and relax.

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John S. Whitney, Jr. has a clever way of attracting buyers to his table filled with antique art and jewelry.  He also sells from his store, the Nue Gallery, in Lansdown, PA.

While I don’t collect antiques or vintage items, and rarely buy jewelry,  I find plenty of inspiration at flea markets.  You will find plenty of shapes and color at flea markets, in the form of old pottery vintage clothing, brightly colored cloth, old appliances, or just plain rusty stuff.  I have found some great old tools at flea markets, but I also look for things I can incorporate into my art, like old jewelry, metal objects I can cut up and repurpose, ephemera,  or anything that I can fit into a bezel.

Here are some pictures from my last flea market foray

 

And here’s what I bought: two cheap copper cuff bracelets and two cheap brass ones.  Total, $5.00.  I plan to reuse the metal to make something new.  I also found a vendor selling cabochons and treated myself to some lovely striped jasper for another $10.00.

My Haul

Two Must-Have Jewelry Design Books and Three Great Technique Books

Elizabeth Olver is currently the design director for Annoushka Jewelry was formerly the jewelry designer for Links of London. She’s written two books on jewelry design that belong in the library of anyone interested in  improving  their jewelry design skills:

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Jewelry Design: The Artisan’s Reference includes hundreds of pictures of shape, texture, and finishes for all kinds of jewelry along with an explanation of how the piece was made.  This not a how-to book, but rather, an inspirational reference guide.

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The Art of Jewelry Design: From Idea Into Reality explores the process of making jewelry from the initial design stage,  to prototyping, choosing materials, discussion of fabrication techniques and examines practical considerations for designing and making a new piece of jewelry.

Both books are out of print but you can find used copies for sale on Amazon.   There are other printings of these books with different covers, but they are the same books as those pictured above.

Elizabeth Olver also wrote a quick, dirty compendium of information on a myriad of jewelry making techniques.  It does not fall into the ‘must have” category because there are a number of very good technique books but, it is an excellent handy reference source.

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The Jewelry Making Techniques Book is also available on Amazon.

Finally, two more excellent technique books I highly recommend for reference and information

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The Complete Jewelry Making Course by Jinks McGrath, available on Amazon, and

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The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques by Anastasia Young,  also available on Amazon.

Happy reading!

Rings For Friends

I used to love to bake.  I would try any recipe-the harder the better-and was generally successful.  But learning how to make petit fours was difficult.  Not the baking so much as the assembly and decoration.  Each little cake was a project in itself and if I  had an exposed cake crumb or a blob of icing, the cake was no good and had to be discarded.  Or fed to a friend who would sit happily in my parent’s kitchen (this was while I was in high school) and gobble down whatever rejects came his way.  And still managed to maintain his girlish figure, I might add.

Nowadays I am learning how to make rings and set stones.  One good thing about learning how to make rings is that they’re small.  You can make a ring a day for a month and still fit them in a small box.  (Not so when you are learning how to throw pots.)  Another good thing about making a lot of rings is that you can give them to friends.  Oh, I know, people ask me why I don’t sell them.  As if all I’d have to do was open up an Etsy store and the orders would come flooding in.  And then I’d have to make them.  I’m not sure I want to go that route.

Making rings is fun and designing them is fun and giving them to my friends is fun.  Here are some pictures of rings I have given away and some that have been promised to adoptive fingers:

Chalcedony and sterling silver.  I am having fun with twisted wire shanks, too.

I  made three of these rings and still have to give two of them to their new owners.  The stone, an Amazonite, is actually a bead that I  set to look like a cabochon.

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Here are three love knot rings.  The one in the middle is the one destined for a friend’s finger.  It’s made of 16 gauge sterling wire.  The one on the right is 14 gauge sterling and it’s really too thick for this design.  The one on the left is 18 gauge white brass and a little too delicate for my taste.

This is my split-shank “Sword in the Stone” Plume Agate.  Why Sword in the Stone?  Because I didn’t think it would ever fit anyone, but it fits my friend, Sherman, beautifully.  And so it is his when next I see him.  I should have given it to him when he first tried it on, but we were going to wait and do a trade.  We probably still will, but it is his in any case.  Hear that Sherman?