Yarn Bombing in Cianfrani Park

I’ve written about yarn bombing before. Yarn bombing is a joyful form of street art that takes knitting and crocheting from the fireside and the easy chair and the knitting circle outside to trees and fences and telephone poles and anything that’s standing still for awhile and can be covered in colorful granny squares and pom poms and stockinette. Always surprising and delightful.

Inspiration Makes a Clasp

I haven’t been making much jewelry lately, but when I do, it always comes back to clasps. I love clasps that are elegant, simple to use, and reliable. I don’t like to struggle to put on and take off a piece of jewelry and I dislike losing it even more. A good clasp doesn’t call attention to itself because it is part of the design. By that, I mean it doesn’t stick out like someone who crashed the party. Even if it functions as the focal in a piece, it should be a working part of the design.

Sometimes, I start a piece and then consider what the clasp should be. Sometimes I start with the clasp and build the piece around it. And sometimes, someone’s else’s jewelry inspires me to create something new. The following necklace is a case in point.

This necklace belonged to my mother-in-law who loved midcentury modern studio jewelry. I think it’s made of onyx and it’s got a lot of heft. The beads are about 25 mm and the necklace is about 18″ long including the clasp. I think the clasp is the best part of the necklace.

The clasp is silver. Note that the open ring to the left it slightly open and ajar. The closed ring slips right onto it. You can put on the necklace with your eyes closed. The weight of the beads pulls in a manner that the open part of the clasp remains on top so the necklace is secure.

Here’s my take on this clasp with a polymer necklace.

Again, I have very big beads. In fact, most of them are bigger than the beads in the onyx necklace. Except they aren’t heavy because they’re hollow. Can you see the clasp? It’s on the right above the red round bead.

The polymer beads are strung on 16 gauge dark annealed steel wire and connected with loops. The back of the choker-length necklace is 16 gauge wire which works because the beads are so light that it doesn’t bite into the neck. This piece of wire is permanently fastened on one side of the necklace and finished with a tiny hook on the other side that slips into the loop coming out of the round red bead. The opening on the hook points to the side and holds the necklace closed and secure.

Here’s a picture of the polymer choker. The wire is rigid enough to hold the beads in place but not so rigid that it’s stiff. The onyx necklace keeps its shape by virtue of the weight of its beads. It’s a heavy necklace and not everyone would feel comfortable in it. My mother-in-law was not too concerned with the comfort of what she wore, as long as it was fashionable. But the clasp is very comfortable and makes up for the weight of the beads.

And here’s a picture of the polymer choker with the onyx choker. As you can see, they are about the same size.

WANTED!

I have a bad cat. Yes, Boris is wanted for Destruction of Furniture. This is a Felony in my house, but cats and small children get automatic immunity.

Exhibit “A”

We have some storage hassocks that we use as foot stools and coffee tables in our living room. When you live in a small (916 sf) house, every piece of furniture has have more than one function.

Boris keeps his sleepy pad one one of the hassocks where he hangs out with his stuffed mice. The little monster does not deserve a new cover on his hassock (never mind that he has three scratching posts on the first floor, plus a cat tree and he uses them all) but I decided that a pandemic sewing project might be interesting.

I used some heavy canvas fabric I got in a free bin at a house sale. I added a design with some fabric paint. The hassock was an 18″ cube, so I measured a strip of fabric 72″ long (the material swatch was huge. I could have also cut and sewn a strip 72″ long) plus an extra inch, and 22 inches wide. I made a giant tube snug enough that I had to finesse it over the hassock. The bottom of the fabric was already hemmed.

The fabric pulled over the hassock. I stapled it to the inside.
The finished hassock

So, what’s to keep Boris from destroying this? And I also decided that I didn’t want to make three more covers for the rest of the hassocks. And I’m not crazy about the fabric. Light colors don’t work to well for a foot stool. Replace the hassocks? And have them destroyed again? But I think I found a solution.

To be delivered this week. I hope it’s Boris proof!

Procrastination

When I was in the first grade, my father promised to build me a desk. He finally started building it my senior year in high school. He completed it and painted it in my room while I was in bed, violently ill with the flu. I didn’t dare ask him to finish the desk when I felt better because it might have become one of my wedding presents.

My mother painted our whole house except she stopped in the upstairs hallway and never did finish. You could see where the paint just stopped. And we never get the house fully furnished because she had a hard time making up her mind.

My brother had a hole in his dining room wall for months. During one visit, my father asked him when he was going to fix it. My brother didn’t answer. I remembered the desk and felt smug enough for the both of us.

My niece gave birth to a little boy a few months back. My brother let me know she was expecting a few months before she was due. I found out she had a little boy after the fact. Better late than never.

By now, you have probably realized that I come from a family of procrastinators. The trait runs sluggishly through my blood. Nothing to get upset about once you accept it. It’s there like the Rock of Gibraltar.

Which brings me to the baby dishes. I made them after my great nephew made his entrance in October. Or was it September? Anyway, the pottery studio closed because of the pandemic and they went unglazed until 2021. Then I packed a box with the baby dishes and some other items I thought my niece might like, and found her address. Next stop, post office. Here are some pictures.

Clayathon Goes Virtual

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Normally, the articles I’ve posted after the annual Clayathon conference are heavy on photographs.   But this year, we took Clayathon online because the pandemic made gathering at the Stockton Seaview an impossibility.  None of us had ever hosted an online conference before.  There was a lot to learn!  In the end, we went for three days and had more than 300 people in attendance via Zoom from all over the globe.  That’s 300 people at one time watching our guest artist Carol Blackburn in two live streams from London each day and our end of the day presenter Syndee Holt, live each day from San Diego, California.  That’s an 8 hour difference for those of you who are wondering. Carol shared a screen in Zoom with her work surface.  Everyone got a clear view. People could ask questions in the chat box.  After Carol’s demos, there were pdf handouts for paid registrants

Pit Crew including
Meeting of the pit crew

In the middle, we had presenters from the Eastern Standard time zone:  A panel discussion with Lindly Haunani, Laura Tabakman and Kathleen Dustin on the impact the pandemic has had on their art,  a live tour of Kathleen Dustin’s studio in the woods of New Hampshire and a presentation by Loretta Lam on her book (which I highly recommend) Mastering Contemporary Jewelry Design.  In the afternoon, we had breakout rooms in Zoom where people could mingle, socialize and trade ideas. 

My work station

None of this happened by accident.  We’ve been planning virtual Clayathon 2021 for months.  We had great people on the crew.  For more information, go to our web site where you can read all about Clayathon.  Be sure to visit the shop where you can buy art from many of the teachers who taught workshops in the days before and after Clayathon.

Clayathon in full swing with screens and screens of participants
Valentine’s Day morning.

Pottery in Progress

Clayathon starts this Friday, so I haven’t had much time to go to the studio lately. Today, I decided to decorate a set of nesting bowls with underglaze.

I think I’ll be better able to concentrate when Clayathon is over, although it should be lots of fun. If you’re curious about the polymer side of clay, check us out at Clayathon.org.

Glad to be Back

I’m back in the pottery studio this week decorating and glazing all the bowls I threw last year. The studio has limited access, we observe social distancing, and we all wear masks which is generally a good idea in a pottery studio. I’m glad to have a little brightness and color to add to these dark winter days. Spring is just ahead! Here are some pictures.

Beading from Wolf Hall

I’ve been doing a lot of reading during the Pandemic.  I’m currently working my way through Wolf Hall  by Hilary Mantel, a book I heartily recommend. It takes place during the reign of Henry VIII and focuses on the life and career of Thomas Cromwell, one of his closest advisors.   I’ve written before how I find distasteful (!) many of the aspects of the Elizabethan world. (Although I am also working on family genealogy and learning a little about what life was like for some of my ancestors who lived through it.)  Let’s just say that religious fanaticism is nothing new and leave it at that.

I’ve gotten to the part in the book where Anne Boleyn becomes queen.  The book concentrates more on the history and personalities and does not contain detailed descriptions  of clothing and jewelry.  Still, there are some and it got me to thinking and I pulled out some of my unfinished bead design projects.  I was trying to design a necklace as a surprise afor a person (who I considered a part of my funky extended family) who loved Renaissance Fairs and was also into beading.  But she died unexpectedly and I put the project on mothballs.

Maybe I’ll take it up again.  Many of the pieces use cubic right angle weave, a stitch that was very hot at the time.  I also love cross-weave beading (right angle weave is but one form of this)  and was experimenting with that stitch as well.  Here are some pictures. Rest easy Wendy and thanks for inspiring me.

Brunelleschi’s Dome

OK, I’ll admit that I haven’t travelled anywhere in a few months, but I am taking an online art history course and last week I learned about Brunelleschi’s dome, which is the dome that covers the the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence, Italy. What is so special about this dome? It’s huge (375 feet tall) and it’s sitting 180 feet up in the air on top of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral. Fillipo Brunelleschi designed, engineered and built the dome on the top of the cathedral and finished the job in 1436. If you want to read about how he did it, I can recommend a book, Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King, which you can get on Amazon, here, or borrow from your local library or from the Internet Open Library and read on line. (Don’t forget to make a donation if you do.) I am still struggling with WordPress’s new block editor which supposed to make blogging so much easier.

The block editor doesn’t cut it for me.

But enough of my whining. Here are some pictures from a trip to Florence.

A shot out of my hotel window
Inside the cathedral looking up at the dome.
Cathedral entrance.

To read more about Brunelleschi’s dome, press here and here.

Waiting This Thing Out

The pandemic is raging again and I joined my family on Zoom for Thanksgiving dinner. I was surprised at how well it turned out. We all just fired up our computers, parked in front of them with our dinner, and had a meal together even though we were in different locations. Much safer than traveling but we did miss the human contact.

The pottery studio is closed
My shelf as I left it.

The pottery studio is closed but I was working on decorating some bowls I had thrown when the closing announcement came down. I’m hoping to get back to them after the first of the year. In the meantime, here are some pictures. Stay safe and wear your mask!