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

I Finished The Coin Pendant!

I started the story of my attempts to make a coin pendant  with a post a couple of weeks ago.   I am happy to say that I have finally made a respectable pendant which I intend to give to a friend whose story is much more interesting my story:  Friend got married and started a family soon after high school.  She got divorced and worked at several kinds of jobs before remarrying.  When she was down sized from a job, her current husband reminded her that she had always wanted to go to college and thought that if they looked hard enough, they could find some scholarship money.   She did, they did, they did and she enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania.   And emerged with a Ph.D in Anthropology in 2015.   Since her dissertation was in the field of Irish Studies,  I came up with the idea of setting an older (pre-Euro) Republic of Ireland coin into a pendant  for a graduation present, and I begged some coins from her obliging husband who is a little fanatical about Irish culture himself.   I am only 2 1/2 years late.  But after I got my brilliant idea, I had to learn how to execute it.  I could not find any new instructions (not that they would have helped.)  I finally got inspiration from two YouTube videos by Online Jewelry Academy on how to make a gallery prong setting.  You can watch the videos here and here.   And I got the basic instructions on how to make the bail from a Soham Harrison video you can watch here.

 

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I milled some 14 gauge square sterling silver wire, measured and cut it and soldered it and formed it into a circle.  I wanted it to be the exact diameter as the coin so you didn’t see it from the front, and for there to be a frame on the back of the coin that did not obscure any coin markings.  I decided to have three prongs hold the coin in place and to make the prongs from 14 gauge half-round wire.  The picture above shows a notch I filed for one of the prongs.

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Checking the fit of the wire.

 

04.4SolderSetup

Here is the assembly laid on the soft brick before soldering.  The ring is already soldered. The prong bottoms are pushed into the brick to steady them.  I had a few soldering failures until I made some changes that I think helped.  First, I laid out everything and then made holes for the prongs so I could get them right into the notches and up against the circle.  Secondly, I put a pallion of solder between the prong and the circle right in the notch.  Third, I bent the prongs inward slightly to be sure they were really hugging the circle. I also soldered the ring, quenched and pickled and then tackled the prongs with a softer solder.  I didn’t try to solder all four elements at once like I had done before.  It worked! I had total soldering success! 

05.4a before trimming

Here’s the assembly before I cut the bottom of the prongs flush with the bottom of the circle. 

 

06.5ProngsTrimmed

The cleaned assembly with the prongs trimmed.  They still have to be filed and sanded so they look good and don’t catch on clothing.  

09.7Markingareatobefiled

The coin sits on the circle and the prongs are folded over, trimmed, filed and sanded.  But the inside of the prongs have to be filed to allow the coin to sit perfectly flat on the circle.  So I had to mark the thickness of the coin on the inside of the prongs and then file-very carefully-so the coin fits in without a gap. It’s fiddly work; if you file too much you’ll weaken the prongs.  Too little and the coin will sit askew.   But it’s not really difficult.  

07.6AdjustingFit

Still need to file a bit more.

08.7BendingProngs

A perfect fit!  I start to bend the prongs over gradually.

10.8SolderingBail

The bail has a prong soldered on the inside front which feeds through a hole in the back.  I altered the bail a bit so it wouldn’t open.

11.9Front

 

01.10 Back

 

And here’s the finished pendant!  Still learning, but I like the way it came out.  Finally!

Pain and Soldering Revisited

 

I am making a setting to hold a coin.  Or I am trying to.   I set a coin in Richard Salley’s metalsmithing class at Hacienda Mosaico a couple of years ago.   I didn’t like the results and vowed to try again.  I had my class notes but wanted to find something a little more tailored to my capabilities.  And so I looked for a tutorial in every dog house, out house and waffle house and didn’t find anything I like.  So then I decided to improvise.  Uh oh.
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This is the coin.  A lovely specimen (from before the time the Republic  of Ireland went on the Euro)  that a friend gave me so I could make the pendant for his wife.  I would love to show you the other side, but I have lost it.   My husband says it will turn up somewhere.  Brilliant.  Maybe on one of the moons of Jupiter or the other side of the state, but not with me.

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I start off with 18 gauge silver

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And measure very carefully.

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My trusty scribe and metal cutting scissors.  By the way, these scissors are fantastic!  I forget where I read about them.  (Maybe Helen Driggs’ column in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist?)  I have a few pair of metal cutting scissors, but these are the best by far.  You can buy them from Amazon.

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I cut my bezel.

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I straighten my bezel

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I wrap the metal around the coin, cut to fit

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and solder

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I planned to cut tabs on both sides of the bezel for fold over tabs

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Soldering on the jump ring

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And phooey phooey phooey!  But his story has a happy ending!  I managed to design a coin bezel based on a basket setting.  This took several hundred many attempts.

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In the coming weeks, I will post a tutorial on  how I made it.  In the meantime,  here are two new ideas for making your own jewelry tools!

3.Hammeringmat This one is great!  Who uses phonebooks anymore?  You can also use a thick catalog or maybe stacks of magazines.  Just secure them with masking tape or duct tape.  They make a great hammering surface or a cushion for a bench block.

 

An old hammer head secured in a vise makes a great metal forming tool.

 

What I Learned in Claire Maunsell’s Class

11.Class

I learned how to make hollow stacked beads and hollow pod-shaped beads.

I learned that hollow pod-shaped beads were only a starting point and that I could take the clay wherever I wanted it to go.

I learned how to assess whether a given paint would work with polymer clay.

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I learned that Claire is an incredibly generous teacher who prepares illustrated handouts bursting with information, ideas, resources and more.

I learned why Pan Pastels look so ##@&^#$@ gorgeous on polymer and I discovered that I need to buy them in all my favorite colors.  Like right now.  Or sooner.

I learned different techniques to crackle, seal, antique, enhance, texture,  carve, wax, paint, emboss, finish and (whatever else you can think of) polymer clay.

I learned about some new software that just might change my life. (Ok, that’s an exaggeration but Repper is pretty cool.)

If I have to  stop to think about whether I really want to leave my clay to go for Chinese food with Sherman Oberson, you know that it had to be a great class.  Here are some pictures of  what I made.   The ideas keep coming. Thank you Claire Maunsell for a great class!   

 

Artspiration 2017

This year’s Artspiration Community Festival at  Fleisher Art Memorial was a blast.  I worked at the Color Wheels table helping kids and adults make seed bombs with clay and wildflower seeds and helped out at the Open Studio pottery table.  There were plenty of free activities for kids including face painting, mural painting, spin art pictures.  Philly Typewriters was there with two tables of portable machines  and the younger attendees were lining up to try them.  

Here are some pictures

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We enjoyed music and dancing throughout the day.

02.ChalkGames06.Mural07.OpenStudioGang04.FiveYearColorVan

The Color Wheels van wore a big party hat to celebrate its 5th birthday.

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A decorated seed bomb

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11.Yarn

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Texturing the clay for the seed bombs

A Terrarium Class and One Big Fish

I  made a terrarium!  It is currently happily situated in my kitchen out of the reach of curious paws (Read Boris) and I am enjoying having a little greenery around me.  I used to have quite a few plants before Plumpton went on a feline scratch and fern mission.  I made my terrarium at a class that crafter and plant expert Masha Zelen taught at the Woodstock Trading Company in Cherry Hill, NJ (you know, the purple building with two antique hearses parked out front.)

Masha makes terrariums and fills them with succulent plants, cute little polymer clay Gnomes and toadstools.  If you like, she can make you a terrarium or teach you how to make your own.  Woodstock owner Gladys Glass was so taken with Masha’s work that she invited her to teach a class for Woodstock’s customers.  Masha showed up on class day  loaded with glass containers, potting soil, assorted pebbles glass chunks and toad stools and a group of  gnomes clamoring  to be assigned to terrariums.  We got to work as she took us through the steps of selecting plants and accessories and making our own little gnome and toadstool habitats.

 

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Masha explaining how to care for a terrarium

 

06.Gnomes

The Gnomes were very well behaved considering how eager they were to be assigned to a terrarium.

 

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Our finished terrariums.  Don’t they look great?  If your are interested in learning how to make your own terrarium or hosting a class, go to Masha’s Facebook page, Made By Masha,  for more information and her contact information.

Aside from offering classic rock and roll memorabilia, beads, vintage posters and every type of incense this side of The Land of Frankencense, Woodstock hosts rock concerts on its lawn, drum circles, a yearly Maypole celebration and other family events.  Get more information on Gladys’ Facebook page, here  or follow Woodstock on Instagram.

And what about the fish, you ask?  The big fish  was exercising its fins in a huge tank as Gladys her husband and I entered a restaurant for  dinner later in the evening.  Working up an appetite no doubt.

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Clayathon 2017

Another Clayathon has come and gone.  There was a record attendance of 80+ this year from all over the US and a delightful contingent of clayers from Canada.  Clay retreats really are a wonderful place to make friends and to rekindle old friendships.

Lindly Haunani, this year’s guest artist, shared her color expertise with six hours of presentations stretched over three days.  In  between Lindly’s demos, the attendees shared their knowledge of techniques ranging from Kumihimo, wire working and wet felting as well as basic to advanced polymer demos.  

There is a lot I am not mentioning but I am still recovering from the experience. When I got home, I went straight to bed and got up 14 hours later.

Here are some pictures.

 

 

No One Creates Alone

That’s one of the conclusions reached in an article I recently read in Psychology Today. Another one is that “discovery cannot be produced by chance.” In other words, someone who has not logged sufficient time in pursuit of a given endeavor does not have the tools to recognize a significant discovery.     Read the article for yourself and see what you think, Deciding to Create.  

My creative pursuits have been proceeding by fits and starts.  I have thrown away almost all of the pottery that I have made this year because of glaze disasters and “what was I thinking?” moments.  But I am learning and trying new things.  And I am very fortunate to share studio time with some creative and generous people.

Here are some pictures of a few things I made last year.

 

Resource and Treasures

 

 

I am so cold today!  Yesterday I had to go out in a whirling snowstorm to deliver a sick portable hard drive to the computer hospital.  Today, the computer doctor called me with the happy news that the files on the drive would live. I feel like I dodged a bullet. Fortunately, I already had the pictures for this blog post ready to go.

Which brings me to the Resource Exchange.   I heard about this wonderful place a couple of years ago as a space where film  and play companies deposited their leftover props and set equipment when production was finished.  Then I leaned that the collection of leftovers had grown to any kind of material that could be used to make art.  Which includes everything when you think of it but we won’t go there, will we?

No, the Resource Exchange offers all kinds of reclaimed arts and craft supplies that you can mention in polite company AND use to make art.     These supplies would otherwise end up in the trash.  The Resource Exchange gives them new life.  Let’s see, conservation, art, creative reuse-looks like a win/win situation to me.

And if you have a bunch of discarded art supplies, builder supplies, tools, and old sewing machine, a stuffed animal, a bolt of  cloth a case of paper clips, bring them to the Resource Exchange.  Someone, somewhere will want them.

On my trip to the Resource Exchange, I found some bead storage boxes,  jute webbing that I used to Boris-proof my foot stools, gold thread, giant wooden beads,  and some more things that I can’t remember-all cheap and in good condition.

Beading Yoda was thrilled   because now she has a place to bring all her Strawbridge and Clothier Bags because the people at the Resource Exchange know the difference between trash and vintage.

Be sure to check out the Resource Exchange’s web page and follow them on Facebook.  In the meantime,  here are some enticing pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boris Discovers the Workshop

I have to admit that I was very sad when I wrote last week’s post.    But Boris is is coming out of his shell and worming his way into my heart.  There is nothing like a kitten to beat the blues.

Plumpton used to hang out in my workshop and Boris seems interested in doing the same. It will be nice to have company s long as Boris behaves himself.  But what are the chances of that?

 

He was fascinated with the pieces of baked polymer that I am playing around with for a wall piece I am making for a fund raiser for the Fleisher Art  Memorial.  Just the thing for a kitten to bat around.

Playing with the colors, shapes and textures inspired me to try a new earring design.

So it looks like Boris might be inspiring me! That’s good. I could use some inspiration right about now.