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.


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!