Earrings from the Seashore

When I was a kid, we would challenge one another with tongue twisters.  One I remember is “she sells sea shells by the seashore.”  I often wondered how anyone could make money selling seashells near a beach.  That was then and this is now.  Shells are harder to come by on the beach nowadays.  Still, a friend did manage to find some seashells which she asked me to make into earrings for her.

The shells looked like small mussels to me and were pretty delicate so I decided to give them a reinforcing coat of epoxy resin after I drilled tiny holes for jump rings.  2DrilledCoatedShells

My new dehydrator came in handy for drying the shells after I coated them because the weather is humid around here.  By the way, this dehydrator was $24.99 when I bought it on Amazon a couple of months ago to use with metal clay.  Now it’s selling for three times as much and  I have no idea why.  But there are plenty of dehydrators to be had for under $40.00 if you shop around.

6 Dehyrator

I like to weigh my resin on a gram scale.  I put a silicone egg cup on the scale, calibrate  to zero, and pour in equal parts resin and hardener.  When I am done,  I let the remaining resin resin cure in the cup, pop it out and throw it away.  Voila!  The silicone cup is clean for the next resin project.

 

I used real 24 K gold leaf for one pair of shells and fine silver foil for the inside of the second pair.  I attached the leaf with sizing and coated the shells with Pebeo varnish. I laid the shells on an old silicone pot holder to dry and sanded off any blobs before I applied the leaf.

 

 

 

And here are the finished earrings: gold filled wire for one pair and sterling wires for the pair with the silver leaf undersides.    The earrings are extremely light and a lot more durable because of the resin coating.

Earrings

 

 

A Favorite Book and a New(ish) Video

Years of metalsmithing, pot throwing, beading, fabric cutting and general crafting mayhem have have taken their toll on my hand and wrist. I am having surgery in a few weeks. No hitch hiking for me until the bandages are off and the therapy is over. I would like it if Boris could act as my studio assistant, but I am afraid he sleeps too much.

I have been working with fabric lately and have revisited one of the classics of fabric surface design,  Complex Cloth by Jane Dunnewold.  Complex Cloth covers  dyeing, stamping,  stenciling, screen printing, and almost any other fabric surface alteration technique you want to know.   There are newer books out there covering more techniques, but if you are just getting started and need an intro to the basics, grab a used copy of Complex Cloth and get started.  You can get it here.

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Polymer Artist Ana Belchí’s videos never cease to amaze me.  This one is not exactly new-it’s seven months old-but her demonstration of six variations on the lentil swirl bead is fascinating and makes me wonder what other polymer techniques I could try, change one small thing, and get a completely surprising result.    But that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?  The “What If?”

Flower Challenge

I am delighted to be taking part in the Art Elements Blog Hop for July.  The theme is one of my favorites: flowers.  I’ve written about flowers on my blog many times.   But  I usually photograph flowers instead of trying to make them (unless you count my felt flowers).

I took the opportunity of the July Flowers theme to complete a project I’d left unfinished for some time.   I had fired a batch of bronze clay and had been making rings and embellishments from 10 gauge bronze wire I was annealing and shaping in my rolling mill.   I had some bronze clay flowers I made in molds that I wanted to attach to milled rings.  I have been a bit challenged in the hand department lately because of some kind of tendonitis or impaction and can’t do much with my right hand.  But I was able to finish some gentle shaping of the wire that I had previously hammered into shape and to solder it on to the flower.    Here is a brief explanation of the process:

The bronze wire is  stiff and hard when it’s 10 gauge thick but I love the look of thick wire and the versatility a thick gauge gives me.  You have to anneal it often as you pass it through the rolling mill.  I changed it to a square shape.raw materials Bronze Clay

The bronze clay behaves very much like ceramic clay in its unfired state, so I was able to push a bit of it into a silicone mold to make the flower. I had to let the flower dry and refine any cracks and sharp edges before firing it in activated carbon.  The firing was successful and I got metal which I then soldered to the bronze wire ring I had previously made.Flower

 

ring2

The ring is fun to wear.  Not too flashy and it looks at home next to the stack of bronze and silver rings I wear every day.

 

terra cotta flower magnets

 

And here are some fun flower magnets that I made from Terra Cotta clay and a press mold.  I painted them with underglazes and finished with a glossy clear glaze.

If you are interested here is some of my flower  photography from past travels.  Mendocino, and Singapore,

Please visit all the artists participating in the Art Elements Blog Hop for July:

Visiting Artists:
Alysen
Cat
Divya
Evie and Beth
Jill
Kathy
Linda
Martha
Melissa
Michelle
Rozantia
Sarah
Sarajo
Tammy
Alysen
Cat
Divya
Evie and Beth
Jill
Kathy
Linda
Martha
Melissa
Michelle
Rozantia
Sarah
Sarajo
Tammy

and the Art Elements Blog contributors:
Caroline
Cathy
Claire
Jenny
Laney
Lesley
Marsha
Susan

 

 

 

 

 

More Adventures with Fiber

I have put away the metal clay for awhile and have resisted firing up the kiln until  the hottest days of Summer are behind us.  I also have a load of Cone 6 porcelain to do but I think that one is going to have to wait for the fall.  In the meantime, I am taking a pottery glazing and surface design class (more on that later) and and continuing my work with cloth and fiber in the coolness of my basement workshop.  I have been screen printing on fabric and here are some of the results

ScreenPrint1

ScreenPrint3

ScreenPrint5

The idea is to combine this fabric with other elements and make some wearable jewelry.

Here is some fabric I sewed around welting with the idea of making a multi-strand necklace.

 

necklace

Here’s the necklace I came up with.    I  wrapped the solid color ropes with some reclaimed silk yarn that I love.  I don’t have enough of it to make anything but a few strands of it adds a lot of interest. I am not sure if I like the copper rings and the dangle.  The colors are right but the shapes might not work.

dangle

I am looking for something other than welting to fill the cloth.  I tried nylon-filled rope, but it’s tricky to shape.  The necklace has to drape the right way and nylon fiber can be stiff and uncooperative.

necklace2

I am also looking at various closures.  I am not that fond of lobster clasps for necklaces.  They can be fiddly to open and close.  I think a secure hook of some kind would make getting in and out of the necklace much easier. And it would be easy to make.

 

The necklace happens to be made from recycled materials.  The fabric  came from old clothes and remnant bins, the wire is stripped electrical wire, the yarn is reclaimed from a hat I bought in a thrift shop and the chain is from a trash-picked necklace.  The only “new” part of it (aside from the Czech beads I have had for years) are the crimp ends  holding the ropes.

 

 

My Head Is Exploding

My head is exploding this week.  I have been working with bronze metal clay and making bigger pieces and hollow forms. unfiredBronzeClayBead I am going to have to rethink my firing methods and schedules.  The folks on the Metal Clay Now Facebook group have given me lots of great advice.  Stay tuned on this one.

I went to Baltimore last week to play with  friends and to go to a sale at Maja, one of the most incredible bead stores I have ever encountered.  I treated myself to an incredible sterling bead decorated with dragonflies.  (When I manage to take a decent photo, I will post it. ) The next day, we went to the stores in the Village of Cross Keys and I saw the most incredible fiber jewelry in The Store LTD,  the very same store that Betty Cooke owns and from which she sells her marvelous modernist jewelry.

I was so inspired that when I came home, I got out the fabric stash and began dyeing and cutting silk that I’ve recycled from thrift shop finds I bought on a former fabric frenzy.

Then I got out the drop spindle  and started to make knittable fiber (could I even call it yarn?) from  strips of fabric sewn together.

Fabric of spun yarn

My aim is to ply this fiber with ribbon or cord and make something from it.  Stay tuned on this one too.

Fleisher Young Artists Exhibition

I have always loved children’s art. This years’ Young Artists Exhibition at Fleisher Art Memorial is a must see for any Children’s art aficionado.

K-1st grade Mixed Media

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Work by Winner Ella King Torrey Young Artist Prize Charlotte Rohland

 

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4th and 5th Grade painting and drawing
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Photography
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Masks and Collage

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        The Young Artists Exhibition runs through August 2, 2019.  To learn more about the exhibition, press here.  To learn more about about Ella King Torrey press here.

Happy Fourth of July!

 

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For some interesting facts about fireworks, press here.

Making a Box

Continue reading “Making a Box”

In My Workshop Right Now (as of Yesterday)

Colored porcelain jewelry elements waiting to be bisque fired.

 

Experimenting with different textures.

 

 

Colored porcelain pinch pots.

 

The cracks can stay

 

I work on fabric or canvas

The polymer side of the table

 

Making fish (taught by Amy Sutryn at May meeting of Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild)

 

One lazy Bluefish

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration?

 

I was  going to write a post a few months ago about a wonderful visit I made in July 2019 to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. But one thing led to another as it usually does. The Penn Museum post went into the drafts folder and I went on to other things. I recently returned from Southern Spain(Seville and Granada)where I was overloaded with Spanish Baroque interiors. They are beautiful, but after awhile, you feel like you’ve eaten too much birthday cake. (At least I did).

 

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Catedral de Granada, Santa Iglesia Catedral Metropolitana de la Encarnación de Granada

“Where do you get your inspiration?” is a question I sometimes hear. And while I will not be making a Spanish Baroque wedding cake any time soon, I find inspiration pretty much everywhere.  Which brings me back to the Penn Museum.  There is certainly enough to inspire anyone who spends an afternoon (or better, the whole day) there.

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Koi Pond

The Mesopotamian jewelry collection is outstanding.  Here are some pictures, but it’s better to see the collection in person.  Royal Tombs of UrUr Headdress

The Near Eastern pottery collection is also very interesting.  These pots are from Iran.

I was so taken with the pot shaped like an Erlenmeyer flask  that I decided to make my own version using the tar paper technique,   Here’s where memory and inspiration clash: I remembered the shape upside down.

3d6efd914115433b5fe2ff5655a7a570There’s a picture of the finished version in this post.  The pot was auctioned off at Clayathon  and went home with a (I hope) happy person.

But I think I love the Mexico and Central American collection best because it contains some striking Mayan artifacts as well as jewelry and pottery.

I love that turtle (I think) vessel and could see myself trying a colorful terra cotta version.

Where do you get your inspiration?