Monday, April 13, 2015

A Weekend for Earrings

One of my favorite memories of my week in Tucson was arriving early for a day of metalworking with Diane Cook and having a few quiet minutes to study the class samples. It was a class in texturing and layering metal to create earring designs. I’d long admired Diane’s ability to take simple forms and turn them into designs that have both an elegant and industrial vibe, and to view first hand the meticulous execution of her pieces was a real treat!

This was my first time using a jeweler’s saw and my first attempt at fold forming, so despite choosing the easiest earring sample, I had only a few pieces of salvageable metal (and a lot of notes!) to pack up at the end of class. But the creative juices were flowing, and the small pile of false starts had been sitting on the edge of my worktable until this weekend when I decided to try my hand at those earrings again.
Copper and nickel silver, etched, hand textured, patinaed and fold formed. Sterling ear wires.
Class samples from Diane Cook's Fold, Form, Layer & Lace class

As I was cleaning up my workspace, a collection of peyote triangles from another project caught my eye. I decided to heat-patina some of my left over copper, shined up some pieces of etched nickel scraps, and sawed them into triangles.

And then tried some more layering.

I can see these in lots of summer colors. I have some square-stitched circles in my scrap drawer – later this week I’m going to explore layering with circles. Creative juices flowing…

Thursday, March 26, 2015

March Art Bead Scene Challenge

Totem poles standing in a forested setting. Pencil and watercolor by Canadian artist, Emily Carr.
Color palette by Brandi Hussey
The colors in this month’s Art Bead Scene Challenge painting remind me of summer days – the earthy ochres and siennas, energized by that bolt of ultramarine.  Those were the colors I pulled out of Brandi’s palette to create my focal.

This collection of Hot Stix beads by Two Sisters Designs beautifully captures the organic shape of the totems and the background colors in Carr’s landscape. 

The heat patina on the copper leaf shape by Tanya McGuire adds the range of ochres from orange-red to yellow to brown.

The layered focal hangs from a chain of peyote- and brick-stitched silver and bronze links and twisting strands of delicate copper, bronze, and silver charlottes.

I had a day full of meetings yesterday, the perfect chance to take the necklace on a test drive to make sure the focal was well balanced and the necklace was easy to wear. I was early to my first event and spent a few minutes chatting with one of the leaders. She asked about my necklace, saying she was sure there must be an interesting story attached to it.  As I explained that it was designed around Emily Carr’s painting of the totems, she was surprised to learn that I had made it, but not as surprised as I was to hear that she not only was familiar with the totems, but had actually seen them! What are the chances…that I would be early…that she would ask…that a new friendship would be made! I would have gifted the necklace to her after our meeting, but hadn’t taken photos for this post yet. It’s packaged up for her now. After all, I have two more Hot Stix beads – I’m thinking I’ll use the lovely coppery one at the top of the photo, with a secondary focal in blue.

Take a moment to click over to the Art Bead Scene Pinterest board to see all the designs posted for this month’s challenge.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Back in the studio

I arrived home from February’s Art Retreat in the Desert just itching to get into the studio to try out some of the techniques I’d learned in Mary Hettmansperger’s Colors on Metals class and Deryn Mentock’s Pod class. But first, I needed to make quick work of some signs I was constructing for a church event. I loaded a fresh blade into my exacto knife ... and proceeded to cut my finger, filleted it, in fact! Determined it was not going to require stitches, I spent the next week(s) doctoring it with Neosporin and butterfly bandages. Hard to do much of any studio work without involving your index finger… not to mention the risk of infection.

Finally, my finger is healed (well, it no longer splits open at the slightest pressure), and I’m eager to get back to work!

My favorite Tucson workshop was Leighanna Light’s Vintage Metal Deck. If you don’t know Leighanna’s work, you’re in for a treat - there’s a fun artist’s profile here on Seth Apter’s blog.
Self-described Thingmaker, Leighanna Light,  and me
Our goal for this class was to create a chunky deck of cards by collaging paper, fabric and found objects onto 3x6” pieces of tin. We spent our morning learning lots of techniques from how to distress metal to tons of ways to alter the surface with inks and paints and patinas. Leighanna then turned the afternoon over to us to play with all our newly learned techniques. And fun, we had! The skill level in the class ranged from me, for whom this was the first-ever collage class, to Jill Mynarcik, a mixed media artist in her own right.  There was some serious collaborating and creating going on for the rest of the day!

Since I left with only 7 finished cards, I spent yesterday completing the last three. After backstitching a fabric dress form in seed beads, I embellished it with the focal section from a vintage necklace, above.

Like everyone else, I’m longing for Spring. The card on the left is made up almost entirely of collaged bits of napkins and torn art postcards collected on a recent trip to Asheville. The dangle incorporates one of the fold-formed copper leaves I’ve been experimenting with.

The card on the right was pure fun! I was exploring the use of different browns and coppers with the oh-so-popular-right-now aquamarine. I created a grunged-up aquamarine swatch in Photoshop, printed it onto some quilter’s fabric, wrapped it around a cork still lying on the counter from the previous night’s Cabernet, and proceeded to shred the fabric with my cheese grater so the vintage text would show through. In keeping with the vintage theme, the white bugle beads in the center of the clover are from a 1920’s flapper dress.

Now that my class project of ten cards is complete, I plan on adding another card each week until I reach a full deck of 52!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Time to Stitch 6 Reveal

The challenge Christine Altmiller and Therese Frank gave us for A Time To Stitch 6 was to follow a chart and use one of four stitches (peyote, square, RAW or brick) to create a three-dimensional design. As someone who is severely chart-challenged (this may rise to the level of a disability), I took the plunge nevertheless, because I’m always up for a beading adventure with Christine and Therese. And this challenge was just what I needed to finally try my hand at the techniques in Kate McKinnon’s Contemporary Geometric Beadwork.

Since I was already way out of my comfort zone, I settled on a Layered Rick Rack cuff and decided to stretch my color palette as well, choosing three hues from Pantone’s Spring 2015 color report that I would never put together myself: Glacier Gray, Custard and Aquamarine.

Next, I needed a graph. Despite the fact that Cath Thomas has generously done the work of estimating sizing and providing free peyote graphs, it took me an embarrassingly long time to transfer my simple color-blocking design from my brain to Cath’s coloring chart.

A trio of easy peyote triangles served as color swatches, and delicas decided upon, the real fun began. 

Peyote was the first stitch I learned and it’s still my favorite, but I can’t remember the last time I used it in a design. My Rick Rack bangle begins with a row of Modified RAW, and also makes use of a bit of square stitch, but it's mostly hours upon hours of peyote.

 So much fun, and it’s reversible! 

The model's sweater provided the perfect pop of color for my second layer. I think I will wear the bangle this way more often, with just a hint of raspberry along the bottom because the fit is perfectly snug with the second layer worn inside the wrist.

Thank you so much, Christine and Therese for always challenging us to take our beading to new levels. And now, on to the rest of today’s challenge participants:

5-Karin Slaton (you are here)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

15 in '15

I love the promise of fresh opportunity that each January brings. Every year around this time, I grab a pencil and a stack of whatever paper is my current favorite, and I start plotting how I’m going to create those opportunities.

This year, I got an early start. Daughter, Dani, was home for the holidays and we sat down at the island in the kitchen on a crystal clear Christmas Eve afternoon and began answering the questions in Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever. We spent a fun couple of hours closing the chapter on 2014 (Q. What movie genre would best describe the past year of your life e.g., adventure, tragedy, romance, drama, comedy, etc.?) and looking ahead to the new year while Dan whipped up one of our favorites…homemade goat cheese and grape pizza on a perfectly crisp whole wheat crust. We felt cared for and indulged. Very indulged!

Dani boarded her flight the day after Christmas with her 2015 goals completed and tucked in her carry-on, but I still had more work to do! Dan planned our New Year’s feast while I polished off the rest of my goals over a morning Starbucks.

I decided to share in Elizabeth Gilbert’s tradition of taking an hour at the end of each year, sitting down with some magazines and scissors, and making a collage about what you’d like the next year to feel like. When you’re finished, you have a visual/emotional wish for the New Year.

It’s an exercise in colors and images and trusting the process. I used magazines on hand and just started cutting and gluing onto a couple of pages in my journal. I was really surprised to see so many pops of red, a color I rarely use in my designs. I think Elizabeth is on to a pretty awesome tradition!

Starting this January with a plan…a visual dream…and a focus. And wishing for everyone a creative New Year!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Farewell, Radiant Orchid

A little bit brown, a touch red, Marsala is my favorite color from Pantone’s Spring 2015 Color Report, so I was beyond thrilled to see it named Color of the Year in the WSJ this week.

“It has an organic and a sophisticated air,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, Pantone’s color advisory group. If that brings to mind farm-to-table cuisine, bushy-but-coiffed beards and urban dwellers’ growing obsession with farm life, that is exactly the cultural phenomenon that Pantone—and the design world—are addressing here.”

Organic and sophisticated. Precisely how I felt about this color the first time I saw it. The day the color was announced, my Cyber Monday order of zircon rondelles in dark cognac appeared in the mailbox – and they look to be a good match for Marsala. Can’t wait to pair them with Aquamarine.

So, while wreaths, pinecones and garland make their annual appearance throughout the rest of the house, it’s beginning to look a lot like Spring on my bead table!