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Thursday, October 20, 2016

My Armory

I don't know a single creative that hasn't swooned over the pages of that beautiful, glossy magazine, Where Women Create. The photos are gorgeous, the vignettes so perfect. Not a paint drop on the floor or an overturned glitter jar anywhere. No half baked project strewn all over the place. No real fucked up painting sitting in the corner while the artist contemplates gessoing over the whole thing because its a 24X36, and its way too expensive to just chuck.  And there are always stories of how the artist picked up their fabulous supply or featured storage piece in some exotic place while on some life altering adventure. I guess a utilitarian treasure plucked from the Goodwill on your way to pick up the kids, isn't really print worthy. And don't get me wrong, I have a whole stack of those wonderful magazines right here in my studio. And yes, occasionally I do covet. I mean seriously, I would have never thought to use vintage sterling salt shakers as a way to store and display my copious amounts of glitter. I have to admit, they are beautiful AND they work. Now that tip was worth the huge price I paid for it, even if my frequent shopper card didn't get me any discount.

But it got me to thinking about how fake and sterile those studios appear and why there is a need to hide the real things, the life altering things, the messy things that happen in them. And I will be the first to admit I'm just as guilty when it comes to my own space, as evidenced by the scrubbed photos below. I have a huge space that's arranged like a small sweat shop so I can move from one project to the next without having to clean up one to start another. I like to couch that in saying that I'm trying not to mix medias, i.e. clay on one table, paper projects on another, or that I'm working on multiple projects at once, but in reality it is because I'm kinda lazy and I never work on multiple projects.  My insane penchant for finite details and perfection just simply won't allow the willy-nillyness of jumping from one project to the next! And everyone that comes into my studio talks about how organized it is. When all I want to say is "no bitches, what you are looking at is my need to control being manifested right here, out in the open!" And have you ever noticed how those sterilized photos never feature the artist's true stash? I think that's because we really do covet stashes way more than spaces. And I think that's because of the endless possibilities one has with a great stash...

Have you ever asked someone to tell you about their studio or describe their ideal creating space? Well, I have yet to see a fellow creative not transform into her whole self whether she is in her studio or just talking about her studio. Magical things happen in those spaces that are all ours. We surround ourselves with things of sentimental value, odd collections, pieces of our childhoods, evidence of both dreams deferred and dreams manifesting, things that make us laugh, rocks our kids collected, pictures of our grandmothers.... physical reminders of belonging.

Our studios are our sanctuaries, our places of refuge and safety. Places where through the creation of art, we confirm our self worth, expose our vulnerabilities and become brave. We find new beginnings in each fresh watercolor page. There is hope in glitter and comfort in the well worn rusty findings. We  get lost in our art and find our best selves. And here in our studios we form connections and build tribes.  Our studios are our armories, providing us with weapons and armor to defend ourselves against the wear and tear of our worlds.  So maybe this is the reason for all the glossy pages. They mask the revolutions that are happening inside. And by camouflaging these revolutions, it allows us to become skilled warriors in our own time, giving us resilience for our journeys. And for that, I will renew my subscription and edit my photographs.

Until Next Time...spend time in your armory...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Time To Cut The Thread...

Meet Atropos, the oldest of the Fate sisters! Being the oldest, she was of course the inflexible one. And once you met the other two sisters, meeting her was inevitable. Guess what her job was? She was the sister responsible for both the mechanism and time of your death! I wonder what she did for fun? I wonder if she had a sense of humor? I wonder if she had a favorite pair of Fiskars that she just dared her sisters to touch?

My version of Atropos

I first covered her in obituaries from the local paper, and then I went in and highlighted words that I thought were important and symbolic, such as loved, wife, was, home, sister...
Her eyes are vintage train tokens that represent both the payment and passage of the soul through the underworld. Her mouth is stapled shut with waxed linen thread, a practice still in use in modern day mortuary science.  And since I am a jewelry artist, I had to make her a necklace out of vintage watch faces and ceramic skull beads, both of which symbolize the passage of time. Her hair is made from matches, representing the ritual of cremation and the moss around her neck represents burial in the ground. I decided to cover her in a glass cloche to symbolize our modern day mausoleum trend. 

Until next time...sharpen your scissors!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Rolled A Seven....

Are you a middle child? If so, are you flexible and diplomatic? Maybe the mediator between your siblings, as so many psychologists have reported you to be? Or are you an attention seeker and ultra competitive because your parents are too busy dealing with the other life sucking bookends in your overlooked existence? The middle child can run the gamut...a game of dice personified.

The three Fates in mythology were no different. In my last post I introduced you to the first sister, Clotho, the spinner of the thread of life. She was the over-responsible one. The controller. She managed to get your life going, being the high achiever that she was.  Now, meet the middle sister, Lachesis. She was the allotter of life, the determiner of your destiny, the assessor of your thread. Oh yes, she was THAT sister! She was always negotiating lives and tried to keep the peace between her other two sisters, a difficult task that even Zeus wanted no part of. Yeah, I'm betting she was often misunderstood and that she didn't get many dates at Mt. Olympus High either. Now, depending on what kind of day she was having when she measured your thread with her fatalistic tape measure, you may have a long, joyful life or a short, painful one.  I'm hoping when she measured mine her sisters were nowhere around and she was having a good hair day!

This is my version of Lachesis

The steampunk gears represent the constant motion of life, and the notion of one being a cog in the wheel of humanity. I took the literal representation of measuring life with the tape measure choker. Her ears...don't really need explanation...

Here's a tip for you-if you are going to use a gazillion screws for hair, paint them BEFORE you adhere them! 

Until Next Time...quam mensurae ad te? (How are you measuring up?)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Girl Next Door...NOT!

Want to know a secret about me? I can conjugate verbs in Latin! Impressive, huh. Yep, 'cause when I had good intentions of going the medical school route, the thing to do was take Latin to prepare for that. You know, to learn all the "roots and meanings" of words, to give myself the competitive edge...Do you know how many times THAT has come in handy during ANY of my careers? NOT ONCE! I wish I had taken way more Spanish or ANY other spoken language for that matter, so that I could actually converse with my patients and give myself some real job opportunities...yeah I'm a bit salty over the lack of a real guidance counselor back in '87! Oh and guess what comes along with learning how to read a dead language? An inordinate amount of mythology! Oh yeah, small talk with me, at a party you didn't really want to attend in the first place, is a real ball of fun!

However,  I am amazed that the general education of most "educated" people leaves them with knowing very little about mythology at all, save for Zeus or Medusa or possibly Poseidon, now thanks to Disney...And it further amazes me that we use terms in our everyday language that we don't know the origins of. How many times have you heard things like "fate brought us together" or "fate worse than death" or "seal someone's fate" or my personal favorite, "twist of fate"? Ever wonder where we came up with those idioms? No? Well, maybe I'm the odd one... anyway, when I was preparing for Artomatic, I really started thinking about my fate, which then got me to thinking about THE FATES. As in the three sisters in mythology that control your life and the lives of the gods. Yes, those powerful women! Not familiar with them? Well, let me fix that now.

The three Fates, also called Moirai, were the three goddesses who personified the destiny of every man, as well as the gods. Their names were Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. For us mere mortals they determined when life began, when it ended, and everything that happened in between. For the gods, they declared their divine privileges and functions. Yep, there was no glass ceiling for these girls! It is believed that the three Fates were sisters, and each had her own task when it came to determining one's fate. In this post, I will introduce you to Clotho. She was the youngest of the sisters and was "the spinner" of the thread of life. She spun the thread of destiny with a spindle, determining the time of a person's birth.

My version of Clotho

I used doll arms and legs to symbolize her role in the birth of a person. I wanted her to be as minimalist as possible to further symbolize the idea of a blank slate... of endless possibilities... 

A close up of the nest used to symbolize the security of home. The yarn is used to symbolize her role as the spinner and the multi-colored yarn represented multiple paths in life...

I used fiber paste to create her textured face and then inked it. 
Here's a tip: fiber paste will suck up/attract/ (whatever annoying verb you want to insert here) any and all pigments that are remotely close by. Wear gloves and make sure your workspace is pristine or else you may end up with fiber paste that isn't the color you want it to be!

Creepy, I know! But oh so much fun to keep ogling!

 And here she is in the process of having her own yarn spun!

Deinde usque ad tempus (until next time for you non Latin speakers)...be in charge of your own fate!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Art Sparks and Artomatic!

Ever join an online dating service or just call an Uber 'cause it's the cool thing to do? Yeah, me either. And you want to know why? Well, cause I'm scared that whoever answers the ad or pulls up to the curb will snatch me up and proceed to make a nice coat out of my velvety smooth skin! Oh, and the fact that I'm married might make that online ad a little awkward, but I digress...So you can imagine the angst I had signing up for a Meetup group for artists, but I was desperate to find a tribe in this new place I now call home. Well, I can happily report that after some vetting (the likes of which I haven't seen since my job with the VA, and much appreciated due to the above mentioned paranoias) my new tribe is called Art Sparks! And girrrrrl, they are a talented and fun bunch! And you know how tribe pressure can make you do things you may not normally do...alone...well, these sisters talked me into doing Artomatic. Now, let me explain that. Artomatic is a huge, nonjuried show. You pay for your wall space and you hang up your art. Easy enough, right? Except it wasn't. See, the show was in thirty days and I had NO work ready. NONE. And besides that, I'm primarily a jewelry artist and my work generally doesn't go very well in those types of shows. So what did I do?  I summoned my muse back from her six month sabbatical, handed her Steven Pressfield's, The War of Art, and told her to get to work. And work she did! I drank lots of coffee and I think she smoked meth (I would say crack, but we're both from the South, and you know how we like to cook..) And in the end we turned out a whole wall of wonderful, edgy, thought provoking, colorful, controlled chaos...totally Circus Meets Boardroom! But I wasn't the only one to do that! Several of my tribe members participated too, and they all created fabulous spaces! It is truly amazing what you can achieve when you have a supporting tribe and a muse that's high on glitter dust and resin fumes!

Until Next Time....Seek Your Tribe!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Surprise-Out Of The Oven!

What? Not what you were expecting? A Girl Scout Surprise rarely is...
This is what happens when you mix paper, punches, inks, paints, beads, and resin! The possibilities are endless really, but currently I have an obsession with paper and a large set of patterned hole punches to play with. The petals are made of various forms-circles, stars, hearts and even butterflies. 
I layer them over precut floral embellishments and then trim the edges so that you can once again see the petal shape. Then I ink the edges, add a dash of paint and coat them in ice resin so that they are durable enough to wear as jewelry. Finally, I layer them together and add beads to make the pistil. Not a bad surprise, huh? They aren't hard to make, they just take some time. I encourage you to grab your supplies and start mixing. Create your own surprise! 

So until next time....Get Cookin'!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Girl Scout Surprise!

Growing up we had some interesting dinners in my house.  I'd love to report that my mom was a great cook, but she miraculously didn't acquire her culinary skills until after my brother and I left the house! I remember one time we had strawberry rhubarb pie. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? And I'm sure it would have been if the rhubarb had been cooked down and not left in its celery like form! Have you ever had your mouth set for a delicious piece of hot, sweet strawberry rhubarb pie topped with vanilla ice cream, and instead cut into a stringy hot mess of what looks like strawberry mush and celery? That kind of experience will scar a child! To this day, my brother claims he is allergic to rhubarb! Another time, my mom served cheesecake. I grabbed the plates to help her serve it, and she clinked the pieces onto the plates. Yes, you read that right. They clinked. I said "Mom, these are frozen!" and her reply was, "Well, it says keep frozen until ready to serve, and by God, I'm ready to serve it!" I kid you not... 
So you can imagine the horrible things that went through my mind when mom told us that we were going to be eating Girl Scout Surprises for dinner. I thought most of our dinners took a horrible turn and ended up surprises, so surely this couldn't be good. I will never forget the first time she placed that hot, aluminum package on my plate. It smelled so good! My brother and I took turns opening ours up, much like presents on Christmas morning. Inside we found a hamburger patty, onions, potatoes and carrots all bathed in this wonderful au jus. They were incredible! 
From then on anything that had great ingredients and the possibility to turn out unexpectedly fabulous became known as "A Girl Scout Surprise".  This applied not only to dinners, but life in general. There is something very comforting about approaching things with the idea that even if things look bad, they may just end up being a Girl Scout Surprise.  Here are the ingredients for my version of a mixed media Girl Scout Surprise. It takes about a week to cook, so you will have to come back next week to see the end result.

Start with great paper

Mix in these ingredients 

Top with beads

Until next time, gather your supplies and don't forget the Samoas!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Running in Circles

You know what they say, "When life hands you a blizzard...make beads!" What do you mean you've never heard that?? What's a snowed-in girl supposed to do when she can't decide whether to bead or create something with paper? The only thing I could think of was to combine the two, and if I tweeked it just right I could work in my love of all things miniature too! So first I grabbed some cardstock and punched out tiny circles...
Then my AR brain just had to ink the edges! Thanks to Seth Apter I am obsessed with inking the edges of everything now! This involved tweezers and was very tedious to say the least, but was more than worth it in the end!
Next, I grabbed my wooden bead and proceeded to layer the inked circles over the core. Not that I counted them or anything, but each contains 110-125 carefully inked circles of cardstock! What, do you think my AR brain would just let me ink them all and NOT count them? I wish....
Finally, I gave them a good coat of Ice Resin so that they would hold up well during wear, and then I added some Swarovski crystals, seed beads and bead caps and strung them on head pins for later use. 

All were made from the paper they are sitting on. The above bead is inked in silver metallic. 
And this is what I call the "money shot" for size reference...

Until Next Time...try combining...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

All Fired Up!

Inspired by Barbara Lewis' book, Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry, I decided to take on yet another endeavor and teach myself how to enamel beads! And once again, I misjudged the depth of THAT rabbit hole! And like all new art adventures, this one required new supplies and of course, more space! Who knew that there are like a gazillion colors AND different opacities of enamels?! And those tiny jars of enamel aren't cheap, so you have to choose wisely! I started out putting all my enamels into cute metal cans-just like in the book-but those suckers get very hot when you have molten metal beads being dunked into them...so I then had to hunt down and purchase small glass jars for my ever growing enamel collection..by this time I have several colors (more than I need) but how can a girl pass up peacock blue and ALL of its possibilities? Could you? So by the time I'm finally set up and ready to work,  I have enough canning jars of enamels that I'm fairly confident that if this enamel thing doesn't work out, I'll just rinse them out and start a small scale jelly operation that would probably rival Smuckers! And then there was the torch dilemma...No one would think that since I've traveled around with huge propane tanks and hot gas forges in my truck when I was a farrier, that I would have one bit of trouble with a tiny MAP gas tank, right? WRONG! See having those compact, potentially explosive devices just being handled willy-nilly by the yahoos at the unnamed big box stores where I purchase them, threw my AR and paranoid mind into motion! What if they dented the tanks, messed with the pins, stripped the tops? So of course I had to have the pristine, top shelf, untouched box of MAP gas tanks from the upper supply shelves! Now here's a tip for you-wear heels when requesting those-they tend to climb the ladders a bit faster...You're welcome!
Have you ever seen two enameled beads made with multiple colors of enamel that look alike? Me either? You know why? 'Cause its FN impossible to make two alike, that's why! I thought it was just me and my fledgling skills, but an online search turned up a whole bunch of other souls like me, just out there rowing the same boat in circles, trying to make two perfectly matching beads! Now, you can make matching beads all day long if you use the same color, but who wants to do that when you have peacock blue in your stash?! 
Now if I had to do it all over again (and I'm still talking about enameling beads here, not my life in general, 'cause that's a whole other blog in itself..) then I would start out by enameling flat pieces on a tripod first and then move onto round beads! Seems like I never do things the easy way...
I did manage to get quite a few that I really like and you can purchase them HERE IN MY ETSY SHOP.