Blue Cloud Gallery anniversary bash

I have a longer post to write up with lots of pictures of the completed Dig box, and some other things, but first, an important announcement:

The Blue Cloud Gallery, where I sell earrings, is having an anniversary bash on Saturday, April 21, from 2-5pm. It is located in Ball Square, Somerville, at 731 Broadway.

The gallery shows work by local artists and craftspersons, and has A LOT of variety in a fairly small space. I highly recommend checking it out any time!

The party next week will feature a free raffle of items from the artists showing work, and (I have it on good authority) good wine and tasty treats.

Upcoming craft fairs & recently completed things

I will be at two holiday craft fairs in the next couple weeks:

December 5, 5:30-8:30pm: Kennedy School Gift Fair (FB event link, sorry, that’s all I got), 2 Cherry St., Somerville. The Kennedy School is an elementary school in Somerville; the event includes a raffle that will benefit the PTA.

December 10, 1:00-7:00pm: Underground Artist & Burner Bazaar 2011 (FB link only, sorry), Redtail Collective, 369 Congress St., Boston. Includes food and music performances, as well as lots of crafts!

I will also be showing some work at the Arisia Art Show in January, and I’ve signed up for a table in the Artist and Author Alley. I don’t know what time slot I will get, but I’ll update that when I know it.

I’ve been making good use of my space and membership at Artisan’s Asylum, and am now almost completely out of ear wires. Oops.

Here are some terrible images of some recent work – click to view much larger (only way to see the colors in some shots):

Stainless steel, glass, and stone.

I am quite pleased with how the fairy earrings turned out. I’ve made earrings very similar to that style before, but not exactly; the method I used to hang the charm is new – just a loop in the wire, rotated 90 degrees from the rest of the wire, which means I don’t have to make a separate loop to connect the charm to the rest of the earrings. Saves time and space in the design!

More lousy photography:

The boot earrings are HEAVY.

Those are some serious charms, those boots! They are fully 3D, and solid. I see many more earrings in the style of the fairies/dragonflies. It works well for a lot of things. And I have a lot of charms, which until now, I’ve struggled to incorporate into my work.

The beads are cloisonne, I think, and are mostly blue.

Close up shot to get a better sense of the bead color.

The beads have some great iridescence.

I also made a leaf necklace, using stainless steel wire and cultured pearls, instead of my usual brass and glass leaf beads. It’s harder to get nice leaves with the stainless steel, since it is so much stiffer.

The pearls are greyish purple.

I’ve been naming the brass leaf necklaces “Spring Rites,” but that doesn’t seem appropriate for metals and beads that are the color of the late autumn and winter sky. (Oh! This just occurred to me: I must – MUST – make one like this with the BRIGHT PURPLE pearls, and call it the “Beautyberry” necklace. Though it would be more seasonally correct if the leaves were just bare sticks, to match the one in my yard. Hmm. Whatever. “Artistic license!”)

I also spent a couple of hours last night working out a composition for an elaborate collar, along the lines of the Machinist’s Collar, but on a sort of pirate queen theme. AUGH IT WAS HORRIBLE! I spent most of the time feeling completely incompetent and certain it will All End in Tears and Failure, but at the same time I feel compelled to finish. I’ve known enough other artists who have written similar things about their own works to know that this is normal and probably means it will be just fine.

I think this is part of the problem with letting one’s nonverbal mind be involved in the decision making process.

I have a picture, but I’m holding off posting it until I’ve committed to putting it together. Because then there will be no turning back.

Cake & Robots and Anti-Surveillance Eagles

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past few months on some 2D projects. If pixels are even 2D, that is. Does information have dimensions? Whatever. They can be printed out, that’s close enough.

So.

I’ve got a shop set up via Printfection, at Feather Forge Prints (and also Zazzle and Cafe Press), where you can see and buy t-shirts and mugs with the following art:

First, Cake and Robots:

Do I need to explain this?

I’m not sure I can.

There’s not much to say, really. There are robots! And cake! (There are individual robots, too.)

Second, filed under Anti-Gorgon Alliance, the Anti-Surveillance Eagle:

This was inspired by an unused security camera on the exterior of a building. Discussion ensued about what should be done with the camera, since it was not going to be used as a real camera any more.

I had the idea that a metal sculpture of a bald eagle, symbol of the United States, posed as if attacking the camera, might make a neat statement.

But I hate climbing tall ladders, metal sculpture might hurt my delicate hands, and I’m impatient. So I fired up my favorite graphics programs, and made this. (I made several variations, in fact, because it seems they are like potato chips.)

I am going to donate 50% of what I get from sales of the eagle design to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, because they do A LOT of good work to ensure we still have civil rights, even more important in times when the government keeps renewing crap like the Patriot Act, ACTA, Protect-IP, and other legislation that increases the ways in which law enforcement can spy on you without good cause. The EFF has lots of useful information for protecting your personal information online.

Privacy is an American value, it is vital for a functioning democracy, and I think it’s important to make that clear.

In addition, you can download the art for the anti-surveillance eagle. It’s a zip file with a whole bunch of different file formats.

Make your own stickers! Or posters.

Share and enjoy!

Galleries, local and online

Earlier this year, I submitted some photos to the Ganoksin Exhibition, “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder,” which is focused on jewelry made primarily from materials other than precious metals. The exhibition went live in early July, and is worth spending a good chunk of time looking through. There is a lot of fantastic art in there!

And locally, I now have several of my pieces in the Blue Cloud Gallery, which shows and sells work primarily by local artists and crafters. It’s a fairly small space, but there is a lot in there, in a wide range of media: ceramics, cards and prints, wooden boxes, textiles, etc. along with jewelry.

I’ve spent most of the summer focused on things other than crafts (like following the catastrophe that is Google+ – which has had the benefit of finding an excellent list of alternatives to various Google products), but since the fall/winter craft fair season is coming up, I probably need to dust my pliers off and start using them again.

First I need to find the pliers.

Body parts by mail and other fun

Since most of my necklaces do not lie nice and flat on either a table or a quick-and-easy necklace bust, I decided that the best way to photograph them – and form them, to a certain extent – would be to acquire a mannequin.

Here is my new assistant, who is close enough to my size that I can dress her up with my own clothes (. . . which is more disturbing to think about than I was expecting). I think she needs a layer of decoupage (her actual color is a much more unappealing brownish pink than the photo shows, not to mention the texture of the plastic). And a name.

Plastic female mannequin torso in a cardboard box

Now I know how much of my dismembered carcass would fit in a box. Most of it, is the answer. There's plenty of room in there for arms and legs. (Also note the lack of packing material provided.)

So I’m working on some projects for a literacy fundraiser, which means literary themes (hence TINY BOOKS!), and somehow my original ideas unexpectedly turned into an idea for a mess of beads and charms linked together in a way that I usually don’t work with because making links kinda makes me want to cry or throw everything out the window, but it was such a neat concept that I couldn’t resist. *sigh*

Um.

Anyway.

I decided that to make the links less tediously the same (it is contemplating the sameness that fills me with despair and loathing), I would add leaf and tendril elements to some or all of them.

Of course this means I couldn’t just decide that the first way I found to do it – which is a perfectly reasonable way! – was good enough and stick with it, oh no, suddenly I have MANY MORE IDEAS for how to make bead links more interesting while incorporating leafy things. So instead of working on the damn project, I am sketching ideas onto the paper and then compelled to test them out for real.

Because if I don’t, they will bother me until I do.

Some sketches and prototypes for ways of linking beads together while making the wire do interesting things. The link in the middle is what I am currently using; the link on the bottom I like a lot but haven't used - yet. The one on the top seemed like a good idea when I sketch it, but I dislike it now. The beads and charms on the left are part of the necklace that is troubling me; the pile on the right consists of potential components.

I’ve probably said it before, but the mechanical aspects of making jewelry with wire is at least half the fun. So I may be complaining about feeling forced to experiment when I have something that needs finishing, but it’s like complaining about having to choose between hot fudge and caramel. (Naturally, one puts both on, arranged so that they can be enjoyed separately OR together.)

Speaking of exciting mechanical challenges:

Two TINY BOOKS wrapped in wire, to be used as pendants.

Two TINY BOOKS! Carefully wrapped in wire such that they can be worn as pendants! AND TAKEN OUT OF THEIR TINY CAGES!!

My excitement about these things is inversely proportional to their size.

And also, the ideas for enclosing them! TOO MANY. Or, perhaps, just enough; some of them are clearly awful even on paper. Whatever, there isn’t enough time to give them all a proper tryout.

I have another project in mind that is more of a research project than a physical making-stuff project: there are approximately TOO MANY TOO COUNT different online marketplaces focused on selling handmade stuff, and they all offer slightly different costs and benefits, and I have yet to find any single source that puts them all together so that you can, at a quick glance, compare them.

This is on my to-do list now.

A craft fair!! (Spring Fever Market at the Armory)

Arts at the Armory, located a convenient mile away, has hosted a really awesome winter farmers market this year. Sadly, the winter farmers market is over, but happily, they decided to bridge the winter/summer gap with 4 Spring Fever Markets. (Here is the Armory’s shiny Facebook page for it.)

Which includes crafts. Not just lettuce!

Wonderful though the lettuce is. (And the onions and kale – well, Edgar approves of kale – and THE CIDER DONUTS omg.)

So I signed up for one. As a craft vendor, not a farmer, because the garden this year, it is well I think it may be lying fallow this year. Yes.

I will be there with Sara of Khyamara, Sunday, April 17, from 10 am until 2 pm.

Very exciting. By which I mean terrifying. Though I think we’re safe from an attack by lettuce.

Also! The Feather Forge now has a Facebook page . . . which I can’t figure out how to link to yet. I think it doesn’t have enough fans or friends or whatevers for that to be easy and or possible. Nevermind. Got it.

At any rate, I have made a lot of interesting new things – pendants and earrings, mostly – and soon (after the craft fair, probably) I will upload more pictures. I’m excited about having worked out some designs that I really like, since I’d been struggling for a long time with those particular items. Here’s for doodling during meetings, and that’s all I have to say about that!

In “Finding supplies can be frustrating” news, I can’t find the little green oval glass beads I use in the Spring Rites ear cuffs, and I am very sad about that. I spent HOURS searching online bead stores after discovering my favorite local source doesn’t stock them any more. I also bought their last bag of some really lovely green glass leaves, but I’ve found online sources for them. Sadness. I will have to find a suitable replacement for the little ovals.

I will be updating the Etsy store soon, too, and probably raising some prices (I read several more articles about how to price things and decided that some things should be changed).

And last but not least, I will be at Artisan’s Asylum during Somerville Open Studios (April 30-May 1, 12-6), along with several others!

A collection of shiny things

First, shiny words!

One of my favorite authors, Catherynne Valente, has a new book out: The Habitation of the Blessed, the first of three books about the mythical Prester John and the amazing land he had supposedly discovered, who the medieval world got all excited and crazed about. Embedded in her post about the book release is a really awesome video explaining who Prester John was – using action fictions and LOLcats. (Plus links to the online chapters and info about how you can enter in a drawing to win some phenomenally gorgeous art.)

The first 5 chapters are online FOR FREE, and I read them, and then I found myself later in the day thinking, “Yeah, I need to go finish reading that – CURSES I don’t have the book yet! Argh.”

My introduction to her work was Palimpsest, which I can’t be effusive enough about. Her writing – all of her writing – is typically more descriptive and lush and lyrical and evocative of myth and mystery than most writers’, and Palimpsest some of the very lushest. I was torn, when I started it, between spreading the reading out over a week so I could enjoy it for more days, and spending my entire weekend engrossed in it because Oh my god. (I didn’t get much else done that weekend; I recently reread it, spread out over a week or two, and it was just as good.)

(I also recently finished This Is My Letter to the World, an anthology of short stories written for her Omikuji Project. I highly recommend it, especially if you like retellings of old myths, but if you are the kind to get teared up over what you are reading, I don’t recommend reading it on the T, unless you like risking crying in public.)

Boston area folks – she is doing a reading at Pandemonium on Dec. 11, 3pm, as part of her book tour.

Next, shiny birds!

I was poking around deviantART, pondering setting up an account, and this caught my eye:

Bird broach made out of circuit boards.

Bird broach made out of circuit boards. OMG THOSE FEET.

Thebluekraken has a lot of other jewelry made from circuit boards, much of it cut into leaf shapes. A lot of circuit board art leaves me cold, but I really, really like the juxtaposition of technology with shapes from nature.

Next, shiny free software! Named after birds.

Aviary is a suite of browser-based tools for creating and editing images. So if you don’t have Photoshop ($$$), or the GIMP (free, open source), you may want to check this out. They also have a tool for creating vector drawings, which is what Illustrator ($$$) and Inkscape (free, open source) can do. Plus other things I have barely looked at. (I have the full Adobe suite, so I have spent little time testing out alternatives.) Since it is browser based, you can access it whenever you have access to a browser, rather than only when you are using the machine you have the other programs installed on.

Last, something that should have its own post, but I am feeling lazy.

Look! Over there! In the sidebar! Yes, I finally got some items listed on Etsy.

I started with some favorites, and I have a BIG PILE of other things (well, okay, maybe half a dozen. or 10?) to get listed, but it’s a start.

Thanks to everyone who encouraged and pushed me over the last year or so to do this. Once I got through writing policies, it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be.

Bazaar Bizarre aftermath

So I worked at a craft fair (the Bazaar Bizarre, in its first-ever summer occurrence) for the first time ever, and it was only slightly less terrifying than I imagine it would have been if I’d actually been selling my own work.

I was there at the Artisan’s Asylum table; we were there to pass out flyers and show people how to make simple crafts. A couple of people were making neat hair decorations, tiny hats, and bags out of ties. We had bookbinding, and someone showing off Sumobots. Our coffee making demo had to cancel on account of it being too windy. And we had two people doing jewelry demos (the other person was showing knotwork).

Jewelry display, plus duct tape head with feather mask, plus flyers, beads, wire, etc.

I brought a lot of glass beads, figuring I could show people how to make simple dangly earrings. I even sat down and practiced by myself, so I would know how to talk someone through the process while demonstrating it.

No one was interested in learning how to make them.

People were interested in making ear cuffs, which I had on my big display board.

And of course I didn’t have any of the really simple ear cuffs there. Fortunately, I did have my brass wire, because at the last minute I decided to bring it so I could amuse myself if nothing else was going on.

I know now how just how poorly I know what I am doing, because I found myself flailing a lot trying to explain how to hold the wire and the tools – and honestly, I don’t know that -I- always follow the same process, so there was a lot of ad hockery (ad hackery?). I figure that explaining that teaching this was all new to me might be reassuring to people who were confused by the process a bit. Well, I got some laughs at least. And my victi- er students did end up with wearable ear cuffs.

Also, I got some really nice feedback about some of the wire work I had on display (the stainless steel necklace, which I finished off and now – of course now! – want to make some edits to. Guess I’ll have to make another. OH NOES.), like encouragement to make more and sell it.

I did loads of research earlier this year into Etsy and good places to buy supplies (bulk wire, especially), but time going elsewhere, and massive terror at the prospect of taking this semi-seriously, have conspired to keep me from actually setting up a shop and making items to sell. But I think at this point (and then there was a coworker this morning, who I showed some photos to), I have no choice.

If for no other reason than to subsidize my bead buying habit.