Fleisher 121st Annual Faculty Exhibition

exhibit

I’ve started a new semester at the Fleisher Art Memorial but can’t do much in the pottery studio because of my hand (surgery next month).  But I went there today anyway  to check out the 121st (yes, you read that right) Annual Faculty Exhibition which is in full swing  and will be open for another week.  Here are some highlights from the show.

Bermudez
Henry Bermudez The Girl
TheGirlDetail
Detail

 

Budayev
Aleksandr Budayev Two Figure Drawing
Stirton-Broad
Carol Stirton-Broad  Dashes and Dots
Woods
Joni Woods Shuttle
Brett Lukens
Emily Brett Lukens Near or Far

 

There are many other fine works in the show which closes on September 21, 2019.    Don’t miss it if you are in South Philadelphia.

Home Organizing Tips and My Old Camera

I spent today cleaning out old paperwork and files that were taking up precious space in my small home.   I work fast.  I am not one to get sentimental about old tax returns or even the copy of my marriage license that I found buried in a file.  And I didn’t find any pictures to take me back to my (not so) wild youth.  No cat pictures either (except a blurry Polaroid of my Bridge Kitty Pooky sitting by our old rowing machine.  I don’t know why I kept it.)

I have learned some things about home organization in the past few weeks.  Tools, boxes and bags that are supposed to help you stay organized are no good if they have nooks and crannies where things can hide.  That’s why I spent three years wondering where my miter  vise and  the wedge to my ring clamp were hiding.   They were under my nose the whole time, secreted in one of these.  And some things are so big (I tossed this behemoth after I had emptied it) that it’s easer to store  the things they contain in a drawer and have done with it.  Enough of that.

My cleaning out trip down memory lane didn’t stall due to sentimentality  until I stumbled on my first digital camera hidden on a shelf behind some books.  (Fortunately  for me, I was almost finished purging, so the discovery didn’t derail  my good intentions.)

My first digital camera  was a  Fuji Fine Pix 2800   It only had 2 megapixels but it also had 6X optical zoom which was unheard of for a budget camera in those days (2002). And it took beautiful pictures although the files were small and not really suitable for print media.

Here are some of the pictures I found on the huge  Smart Media  cards used with the camera:

 

AfrBeads1

GlassBeads

 

Afrbeads3

ClaspMakingBeadSwapBarcelona Cat

I took some new pictures of a project I am working out to see if  the camera still functioned:

ClothBangle1

I would keep the camera for web-based photography, but I  like the flexibility that larger files give.  So, I will erase all the media cards, find a spare card reader (the big media cards won’t fit into a standard computer slot) and donate the camera to a thrift shop.

 

Bye old friend!

What I learned from Susan Lenart Kazmer at Beadfest

Some Yoga breathing and stretching before you start the class sets a good tone for the rest of the day. I love Yoga but it can be tedious torture in the wrong hands.  Susan’s warm-up exercises lasted just long enough, and were very effective.  The soldering gods were with me the entire day.

AAclassroom
Our Classroom

I have never before taken a class at Beadfest.   I made an exception this year because the prices were attractive, ($165.00 for an all-day  metal class with a great teacher like Susan Lenart Kazmer is  a bargain) and because I needed to pull myself out of a slump.  I knew the class would be great because I took a wonderful class with her a few <ahem> years ago.

AAAmyworkstationandtools
My jumble of tools

There were only 8 people in the class (most people took classes earlier in the week) which meant it was easier to get help if you needed it.  But Susan’s demos and explanations were so good that I didn’t need much assistance.

Susanatthetorch
Susan Demonstrating

The class was on box making.  Only the boxes didn’t open.  Instead, you could write on the boxes or leave a hole to slip a message inside the box and only the maker and wearer would know what it was. A kind of talisman or prayer box.  I liked that idea.

Oneof Susan's box pendants
Here’s a side view of one of Susan’s boxes.

Here are some process pictures of my box as I assembled it.  We could elect to make earrings or a pendant and I went with the pendant although I started on a pair of earrings that I didn’t finish.

mybox
Here’s my finished pendant

I tried hanging the pendant from a silver chain.  That didn’t seem right.  The pendant demanded something a bit more substantial.  It is, after all, a box.  Then I remembered the fabric necklaces I have been making. Check my Instagram feed for some pictures.

 

BlueNecklace

I pulled out three fabric ropes I’d made from silk, fabric I’d screen printed, and  part of an old curtain.  I think I’ll use the box pendant with these.  I am in the process of deciding whether I want to make sterling end caps or fiber end caps.  But I think I already have the perfect clasp.

I learned many more things in the class but I don’t want to post them on-line out of respect for the teacher’s work product.  But there is something I will share and believe me, if I had learned nothing else from the class, it would have been worth it to learn an incredible bezel-cutting tool.   I am not ready to throw out my miter jig, but I will never again use it to cut bezels.

The Whaley Precision 90 Degree Bezel Cutting Shears have a guide attached to one of the blades that insures  you cut a straight edge every time.  Eurotool makes this incredible tool, and you can buy them here.   For a video of the shears in action, press here.

MiracleBezelCutters.jpg
Miracle Bezel Cutters!!!

 

Thank you Susan Lenart Kazmer and Beadfest!!!

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?”

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

2
Work by Winner Ella King Torrey Young Artist Prize Charlotte Rohland

 

5
4th and 5th Grade painting and drawing
9
Photography
1
Masks and Collage

84

6

        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.

Making a Box

Continue reading “Making a Box”

Beyond The Words: Robin Hiteshew’s Portraits of Irish Writers

 

It was 1989 and my friend Robin Hiteshew asked if I wanted to attend a poetry reading by Seamus Heaney at Swarthmore College.  I was familiar enough Heaney’s work to jump at the chance.  Later I got to meet him, but was too shy to do anything but mumble and shake his hand.

 

 

Thirty years later, at the opening of his show, “Portraits of Irish Writers” Robin compared  a photo portrait of Heaney he took during that visit to Swarthmore with one he took almost a decade later in Cambridge where Heaney was teaching at Harvard.  In the first photo,  a slightly disheveled Heaney struck a casual pose under a tree on the Swarthmore campus.  In the second picture, Heaney was wearing a tailored jacket  “Look,” said Robin pointing to the first picture, “his trousers are rolled.  That’s before he won the Nobel prize and the game got more serious.”

Robin Hiteshew has been photographing Irish writers (and musicians) for more than forty years and it has been a labor of love.  His portraits are personal and revealing in a way that is truly beyond the words.   And he has a story to go with each one.

Robin’s new show, “Beyond the Words: Portraits of Irish Writers” will run until June 26 at the McNichol Gallery which is located in the Thomas A. Bruder, Jr. Life Center at  Neumann University. Admission is free.  For directions, press here.