Amulets, Talismans, Polymer and Wire

There are two new books that will enhance the library of anyone creative.  Both  show you how to elevate non precious material into art imbued with special meaning.

The first one is  Amulets and Talismans by Robert DancikI took Dancik’s class on cold connections last year  and put the book on pre-order as soon as I could.  I was not disappointed.  The book is crammed with information on cold connections techniques,  and full of ideas on how to take ordinary objects and showcase them in original, one of a kind pieces of jewelry that  tell a story that could be about the wearer, maker or materials themselves.

If you are a tool junky like me, you will relish Dancik’s ideas for making custom tools.  He shows a nifty little jump ring cutting gizmo you can make yourself.  I made one.  There are no directions, but one look at it is all you need. (If Truman Capote had met me when he first came to New York, his book would have been entitled Breakfast at Harbor Freight.)

The next gotta have it book is Ancient Modern: Polymer Clay + Wire Jewelry by Ronna Sarvas Weltman.

Weltman’s  designs have an inimitable   primitive sophistication that’s fresh and inspiring.  Her projects and instructions will stoke your creativity and have might change the way you think  about polymer clay and wire.

This time last year

The Soul of a Tree

Nak037Last week, we made the trek to the Nakashima Studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania. My in-laws made this trek in 1959 with Shari and my husband in tow.  They put a deposit on  a slab coffee table and hanging wall cabinet, and were nervous about spending so much money.  Who in his right mind would spend $300.00 on furniture with knot holes in it and cracks fixed with inlaid butterfly shaped pieces of wood that didn’t even match?

The furniture was delivered to their suburban home a few months later and they enjoyed it for the next 48 years. That furniture saw a lot of parties and family celebrations.  When Milton died, the guest book for the memorial ceremony sat on the cabinet for guests to sign.

When Vicky died, the furniture passed to Shari who enjoyed it every day of the short time she had left.  Shari longed to make one last trip to the Nakashima Studio but was too sick.  At her memorial ceremony we set a beautiful wooden box holding her ashes on the coffee table along with her glasses.

Last week, as I was walking on the gravel paths that lead from one studio building to the next, I realized that trees tell a Nak020story.  You can read history in trees if you know how.    Nakashima understood the soul of trees; he did not alter or mask a tree’s spirit with detailed carving, paint or heavy hardware.  Instead, he engaged in a dialog with it, and listened-really listened-to each whorl, knot and wormhole.  George Nakashima’s work is a reminder that imperfection has its own beauty.   If we could take those principles and apply them to each other, we would understand  that our imperfections are what make us remarkable.  And beautiful.


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We gave the furniture to family members who we hope will enjoy it for the next 48 years.

What I Learned from Susan Lenart Kazmer

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Mike Models Susan’s Bracelet

If you read this Blog last week, you know that I was heading down to Damascus, MD to take a class with Susan Lenart Kazmer at Polymer Clay Express. The two-day class was fantastic. Here’s some of the things I learned:

I learned how to drill a hole in a stone.slk4
I learned how to fabricate a cone out of metal.
I improved my torch enameling skills.
I learned how to make and use different kinds of rivets.
I  learned a cool way to put a red patina on copper.
I  learned how to preserve found items like paper and twigs with resin and incorporate them into my jewelry.
I  saw an ingenious way to make hinges that I’m going to try because now I am more confident in my sawing skills and I think I can do it!
I  saw how to make dapped forms to turn into cool rings and pendants.
I  learned new ways to incorporate fiber with beads and metal.

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Now every day the sidewalk holds more treasure than ever before.

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Thanks Susan for teaching this class and Terri for telling me about it and giving me a ride! 

My Lust For Rust

I came upon Altered Curiosities by accident. It’s not the kind of book I would usually buy. But boy, I am so glad this book made it to my door. Don’t pass it by like I almost did. It’s packed with information on all kinds of crafts that seemingly bear no relation to one another. Yet author Jane Ann Wynn pulls them all together, with unconventional materials, and makes art. I didn’t try any of her projects, but I read through the book more than once and am taking inspiration from it for my own work.

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For example, I love the look of rust (but not on my appliances, please! ) and patinas. I picked up a rusty washer on the street the other day and struck up a conversation with it. When I was finished, I had this pendant. I added a silver plated spoon hammered flat, gold filled wire, turquoise and copper. I think that Altered Curiosities got me thinking in a new way.

While running errands today, I found all these cool rusty bits on the sidewalk. These are going to end up in something. I’ll wait for them to talk to me first, like the washer did.

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If any of this appeals to you, check out the art of Annette Tacconelli’s Urban Artifacts. If little washers talk to me, bridges and pieces of buildings talk to her. Not only is her art beautiful and hard to forget; it will stoke your creative juices even more.

 

 

 

Final Pictures from Synergy

 The View from My Hotel Room

 

  Some of the other things I enjoyed at Synergy were Jana Roberts Benzon’s Dimensions in Polymer Clay workshop, Tim McCreight’s Design Decisions, Good, Better, Best presentation, Blogging workshop with Cynthia TinappleSusan Lomuto, and Alison LeeCraft in America lecture with Art Historian Jo Lauria.    I hear they are already thinking about Synergy 2010. Enjoy the slide show!