The Picasso Vase

I made a Picasso vase.  Or rather, the other people in the studio started calling the vase The Picasso Vase before I ever thought of it.  Probably because of the shape which would have been impossible to achieve without the tar paper technique (which I also used to make the menorah.)
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You can from the picture above see how difficult it would have been to support the vase in its wet state without the tar paper to support it.  It was three wet slabs with beveled edges, scored and pinched together.

 

    Paper covered vase on left (upside down).  Bone dry vase before bisque firing on the right.

If the vase was to be an homage to Picasso, I needed to decorate it with Picasso-style images.  I decided on a cat, a mouse, and a fish.   Here are some preliminary sketches I made for the mouse.  I started with realistic drawings and got more abstract as I went.

 

I had no problem deciding on the cat portion and the fish came to me all at once.

 

Here are the designs for the mouse and fish,  drawn on the bisque-fired vase with an underglaze pencil.

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The cat in progress.  I used underglaze chalks and liquid underglazes for color.

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        Right out of the kiln.

 

 

The finished vase.

 

Return to Rothko’s Rooms

here.I plan to return to London soon and one of the items on my list of things to see is the Mark Rothko exhibit at the Tate Modern Gallery.  I had heard about the paintings Seagrams commissioned from Rothko to hang on the walls of their new Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City.  I know that the paintings never made it to the restaurant and  wondered what happened to them.

 

 

 

Well, on my last visit to London, I learned that they are in a room at the Tate Modern Gallery.  The pictures you see here are not meant to be accurate representations of the paintings, but rather, to give you an idea of their scale.

A placard accompanying the exhibit stated:  “ROTHKO was influenced by Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library in Florence with its blind windows and deliberately oppressive atmosphere.  Rothko reportedly commented that Michelangelo ‘achieved just the kind of feeling I’m after – he makes the viewers feel that they are trapped in a room where all the doors and windows are bricked up, so that all they can do is butt their heads forever against the wall’.

Wall Text Accompanying, In The Studio Exhibit, Tate Modern Gallery, London, England.

 

 

I am not sure how these paintings would have looked in an upscale restaurant, but I did not feel trapped in the room where they are displayed at the Tate.  In fact, I found it hard to leave.  The paintings have a singular calming effect.   Viewers can get close to them or sit across from them and look as long as they want.

If you want to learn more about Mark Rothko and these outstanding paintings, watch film documentary Rothko’s Rooms.  The film charts his life, artistic development and includes commentary from his family and friends.   Rothko’s Rooms used to be available on YouTube.  You can order it from Amazon.  Just click on the graphic below.

 

 

For additional information on Mark Rothko, go to artsy.net’s  Rothko page here.

Tesla Necklace with a Nod to Cynthia

I love big beads.  Big hollow beads.  Doesn’t matter whether they’re made of glass, metal or polymer.    Maybe because it’s a challenge to figure out how to make them and probably because people are always surprised at how light they are.   And I have made a boatload of hollow beads over the years.  

Which brings me to last week when I brought a strand of big polymer beads into the pottery studio and someone was interested in buying it which was a problem because it was only temporarily strung and I had not figured out an appropriate clasp.  But it got me thinking.  

I have always admired the perfectly integrated polymer covered barrel bead clasps on Ford and Forlano’s big bead necklaces.  I wanted to make an integrated clasp myself but I did not want to use barrel bead – I wanted to use a hidden magnetic clasp.  Which brought up two problems.  First, it would have to be a very strong magnet. Big hollow bead necklaces still have some heft after all. And you cannot bake a magnet without diminishing its magnetic properties.   People used to bake their magnet clasps all time time. But we have learned that  baking weakens the magnets.

So I had to find a strong magnet and a way to integrate it into polymer bead halves without baking.  I was surprised to learn that there was a paucity of information on using magnets and polymer clasps.  I mean there are some old tutorials that instruct you to bake the magnet into the clay but as we have discovered, that’s a no-no.  

Then I discovered Mag-Lok magnets and found this video  from Cynthia Tinapple.  I put my own twist on Cynthia’s technique and  made a necklace with the Tesla beads and a magnetic clasp.   How very appropriate. 

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I will share how I make hollow polymer beads and magnet clasps at the next meeting of the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild.   Thank you Nikola Tesla and Cynthia Tinapple!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The Quilts They Are Finished!!!

I started making these quilts in 2011 right after I made Nathan’s baby quilt which was my first quilt. (I am not a quilter, so I decided I should start out with something small.) Ok, ok, it only took me four years to finish these, but I didn’t work on them continuously.

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I started with sewing scraps of fabric together just to get a quilting mojo thing going.  Then I started buying old clothes at thrift stores and taking them apart for the fabric.  Some friends gave me fabric.  Someone across the street threw out boxes and boxes of great fabric!  I bought fabric sample books
on eBay and a box of scraps from a quilt maker on  Etsy.

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Gradually, I settled on  Log Cabin Pattern.  Since the idea of making the blocks all the same made me want to stick a needle in my eye, I decided to make them all different and had fun with each one.  The only rule was that the colors had to work.  Oh,  and I settled on a size of 12 inches square for each finished block.  I taught myself to chain piece and I became a quilt block berserker for a while.

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The quilts are 6 blocks across and eight blocks long

Headboard

 Years  ago, I painted a headboard  on my wall.  Makes it hard to rearrange the furniture!

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My husband said he quit drinking in case he woke up one day and looked at his night stand.  This is from my painted furniture phase.

Quilt Back

I made my own binding, machine sewed it to the front of the quilts and hand sewed it to the back.  Here’s a good quilt binding tutorial.

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I used fleece blankets as the filling and flannel sheets on the back.  I machine quilted by stitching in the ditch around the  blocks.  It wasn’t that difficult with a walking foot.

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The view through the mirror on the wall.  This is the companion piece to the nightstand.

I don’t have plans to make another quilt although I do have a third quilt top left over.  It could happen!

Sculpture For Your Ears

A few years ago, I wrote a post about an intriguing  sculpture in the courtyard of Jefferson University a few blocks from my house called Ars Medendi.  

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At the time I wrote the post, there was a dearth of information on the Internet about the Ars Medeni cylinder or the screen, which is a shame.  As I was  reading the Philadelphia Inquirer this weekend,   I was delighted t come upon a short mention  of  music composed specifically for these sculptures. by King Britt  called Copper Speaks to Flesh, which you can download here.

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As King Britt explains  on his web site

“So I was commissioned by Bowerbird of Philadelphia to create a sonic re-interpretation of the Ars Medendi sculpture by Jim Sanborn. The sculpture is comprised of many medical terms cut into copper. The sound art can be listened thru your phone by QR Code while looking at it in person or download here. I wanted to incorporate the words in my piece, so I got Ursula Rucker to say sequences of words from the piece. I then processed them through pedals and such. I also asked two people that were standing around the piece, what it meant to them and put that at the end of my piece as a perfect ending….”

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Read my post on the  Philadelphia Percent for Art program,  here.

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I hope you enjoy this marriage of music and metal.

Pancakes for Breakfast Made With Love

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Happy Holidays from South Philadelphia!  We decided to make  plates for two little boys  for their weekly pancake breakfasts with their parents. Dad makes chocolate chip pancakes for the family every Sunday.   Yum, Yum!

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imageSo, where did we go ?  Why The Expressive Hand a charming paint your own pottery shop in the heart of Bella Vista.   That’s owner Marcie Ziskind showing Bubbie how to do lettering on the rim of the plate.

wpid-img_20141214_143135blog_wm.jpgBubbie is working hard on Connor’s plate.

imageHere’s my plate with the rim painted and the pancake design drawn out.

imageDon’t Connor’s pancakes look good?  Great job Bubbie!!

imageAnd here’s Nathan’s plate, done by yours truly.

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IMG_20141214_155236blog_wmBoy we had a good time!    Wait until the little guys see their dishes, made with lots of love and some help from Marcie.

Read more about the Expressive hand in this  Blog Post.

Beads of a Different Stripe

I have been busy trying  lamp working techniques this summer.  Striped beads are made differently than I would have thought.  Instead of drawing stripes on the bead with a stringer you  lay down dots, put on a layer of  clear glass and melt it slowly.  This serves to magnify the dots underneath which appear as stripes!  How cool is that?  Here are the basic steps:

Base bead

Make a base bead

First dotsAdd some dots.  Don’t melt in.

dotsAdd dots on top of dots.  Don’t melt in.

 Clear wound aroundAdd a couple layers of clear over the dots only.  Think of a shape like the planet Saturn with its rings.

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 Begin to heat the clear glass.  Slowly so the glass doesn’t pop or crack.

 wrapsBring up the heat to melt the clear glass.  This magnifies the dots underneath

TorchingPick it up a bit and keep the mandrel turning.

heatingWhy?

Stripes taking shape2Because you don’t want your bead to sag.

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Let the bead cool slowly and keep it turning to maintain the shape

coolerAlmost finished.

Beads2   And here are the finished beads.  This could get addicting!

Don’t forget Bead Fest this weekend!

    

Flowers of Mendocino




The flowers in Mendocino are incredible and the colors are wild. There is no bee shortage here. I’ve seen more than one hummingbird too.

We went to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens yesterday to see the fuchsias and the dahlias. Some of the pictures below are from that trip but I took most in the little town and near the shore of this idyllic place.

 

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Here’s the view from our hotel.

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Turn An Old Skirt into Something New!

I wanted a dreamy looking leather satchel in a soft, buttery leather only I didn’t want to shell out a couple hundred dollars for it. I saw a cool looking black leather skirt in a thrift shop and I suppose they were having a hard time moving it because it was marked down to $7.00. I grabbed a back leather belt for $2.00 and away I went!

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I turned the skirt inside out and marked there I wanted to cut it.  Since the skirt was lined, I could skip lining the tote.

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I had to decide how to work around the zipper and  decided that I would  make a seam there and remove it.

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I’m glad I scanned the Internet for tips (see end of post) because I got myself some heavy duty needles which helped immensely.  The leather I used was thin-it had been a skirt after all, and the Singer Slant-O-Matic had no trouble handling it.  Plus it glided smoothly because the lining and not the leather was making contact with the sewing machine.

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I cut the handles from a thick leather belt which was very hard to cut.  I used a utility blade.

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I attached the handles to the body of the bag with grommets I bought at Harbor Freight.

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I stitched the  handles to the top of the bag with a sewing awl, also from Harbor Freight.  You can see that I had to make the holes with a drill, but the awl was great for passing the thread back and forth between the holes.

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I installed a magnetic purse snap and I had a leather tote for under $10.00!

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Here’s another one made from a suede thrift store skirt

This tutorial from sewbeittudio.com was very helpful.  I also liked this one from the Vintage Ramble blog.

And here is a good video to get you started.