Together Festival; new art; oil paint is Bad News; probably some other things, too

NEWSY THINGS

I will be vending at the Together Festival on April 7 from 11-5. The festival itself runs from April 2-8. If you came to the Burner Bazaar in December and liked what you saw, you should come check this out, too!

And I submitted an application for this year’s CSArt program, run by the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. I won’t know for a while whether I’ve even made it through the first round of selections. It’s a really fantastic program, and I hope I get in. If I don’t, well, the proposal I submitted is something I’d like to try out anyway; it’s nice to have another art concept lurking around for days when I get bored with the same old business.

ARTY THINGS

Speaking of lurking concepts, I’ve had this one skulking about in my head for months and months, and I finally took the time to track down some reference images I could use to create the silhouette and cracked pattern:

silhouette of a raven in flight on a shattered heart

"Raven heart" needs a better title.

References used: Raven 13, by EquineStockImages, and Broken by devradiopooh (that link no longer works but it did as of 5 days ago). I have a couple other variations over on deviantART.

One of the ways I pay attention in meetings is to doodle in my sketchbook. It’s a good way to come up with new ideas and work out a million zillion variations before trying them in wire. Here’s one of them in wire now:

Variation on the tooth theme. These are rather large, but very light.

GRIPEY THINGS

OH MY GOD OIL PAINT!!!

So on the advice of several people who sell paint for a living, I bought some Serious Oil-based Paint for painting the Dig Box. And I put on a first coat, and I waited for it to dry so I could apply a second coat, because the first coat wasn’t completely covering the original paint. The cans of paint say “Dries to the touch in 3-4 hours. To apply a second coat, allow to dry overnight.”

And the next morning I checked on it, and it was NOT EVEN DRY TO THE TOUCH!!! In fact, where I touched it, the paint wrinkled up.

That was Friday morning.

Today, Monday, I came in to sand the damn thing and put on coat #2.

GUESS WHAT.

The surface is now dry to the touch, but it’ll still wrinkle up, which means NO SANDING, unless you want to immediately gunk up the sandpaper beyond salvation.

So I spent almost two hours scraping paint off the damn box, so that it might someday dry enough that I can sand ALL THE OIL PAINT OFF and go for spray paint. Or maybe latex, because that was also an option for super-duper, resistant-to-weather paint, and I should have gone with that from the start.

So. Oil paint. I have almost 2 quarts I will not be finishing off. One in a lovely dark green, the other in the wrong shade of pale blue.

Anyone want it? The paint store claims it’s awesome!!

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.

I like long walks on the beach, and picking rusted things up off the street

A lovely flat piece of rusted metal

I found this lovely thing on the sidewalk this morning while I was walking to the T.

Most things I pick up like that are smaller and not terribly fragile – old nails or bolts, pieces of chain – and I can immediately stuff them into a pocket, where they will either languish for months (if in my jacket), or be discovered in the washing machine in a week or two.

This was too big and too fragile to fit into a pocket, but I had some time while waiting for the train to arrive to carefully stow it inside a notebook, like a pressed flower.

A closer look at one side of the metal thing.

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

I don’t know what I’ll do with this. I think it is probably too fragile, and possibly too big, and too corroded, to be used for jewelry, though it would be amazing as the main piece of a necklace. I suppose it could be made into a necklace or pectoral that isn’t actually intended to be worn, but at that point, I’d rather make something that is definitely NOT meant to be worn. While I appreciate art that results in something that appears functional but is really just meant to be looked at, I also find it kind of irritating, so I am disinclined to do that sort of thing myself.

Besides, I still have plenty of materials for making actually wearable pieces of jewelry; here are the first things I made in my first day using my space at Artisan’s Asylum:

Stainless steel wire, glass beads, lava beads

It was fantastic having a work space that isn’t doubling as kitchen counter, miscellaneous craft table, or horizontal surface of holding all the stuff. I’m realistic enough to know that my uncluttered work surface won’t stay that way for long, but I am enjoying the hell out of it while it lasts (and at least it will NEVER be competing with the production of a big meal, so there’s that).

These are not new designs, but OMG I am out of practice. It took way too long to get those damn spirally earrings right; in the process, I created and then had to cut up another 2 pairs (had to cut them up at 80% done to free the beads).

The workspace isn’t completely set up yet: I bought 3 full sheets of OSB to lay down as the floor, thinking it would be nicer to walk on that than concrete, and also less likely to end in the destruction of fragile dropped things, but the walls of my space are not quite big enough to just lay the boards down.

They are supposed to be 8 feet apart, which would be perfect, but they are about 2 inches too close together.

So I have to haul the OSB all the way to the wood shop, trim 2 inches off one end of each sheet, and then haul it back, and I am not fit enough to do more than maybe one of those a day.

The 1/3 of the floor that I have put the OSB down on is much nicer to walk on, however, and the sooner I get the rest cut and laid down, the sooner I can bring in more shelving and work surface and . . . stuff.

The floor, in progress, with anti-surveillance eagle sign, and penguin.

The stencil version of the anti-surveillance eagle works quite well asĀ  stencil; I used it to make a large sign on foamcore. The penguin supporting it I deny all responsibility for.

ANYWAY. As soon as I get more work surfaces set up, the sooner I can lay out and admire the contents of my various boxes of random rusted metal things (I got 26 pounds shipped to me from home recently!), and figure out if I can find a good use for my newest acquisition.

Next: Somerville Open Studios and beyond

The Spring Fever Market was fun! A bit cold, but I can’t complain about having a table in between a chocolate maker and the great and wonderful seller of cider donuts.

We had quite a lot of people ask if we’d be back in May; the answer is still “Don’t know, no plans as of yet . . . ”

I, however, will definitely be at Artisan’s Asylum in just over a week for the Open Studios. We are number 99 on the map, and are conveniently located on Joy St., a short walk from the Joy Street Studios, which has several of its members showing work at their location. Parking on the street is free! And we’re on the trolley route!!

I have a particular necklace idea I want to finish by then, as well as what might be a really awesome display for pendants and earrings, made from a chunk of the massive tree branch that fell in our backyard during the first big snowstorm of the winter. It’s got some really fantastic patches of lichen on it.

I’m also working on making more earrings along the lines of these:

Three pairs of wire earrings, shaped like vines, with glass beads dangling at the end.

Three pairs of "Little Vines" earrings, awaiting ear wires. Brass or stainless steel, plus glass beads.

Earrings made with wire shaped into two spirals, with glass beads dangling from them.

Stainless steel and some of my favorite glass leaf beads.

Earrings with wire spirals and glass dangles

Sterling silver spirals and glass beads.

I’m finding that I can only make 3 or 4 pairs of the spirally kind in a session, because at that point I run out of patience for getting both earrings to have the same shape. I need to develop some really good jigs and clamps, I think.

Also coming up, I’m donating some work to Jumpstart’s Literacy Olympics, happening May 11, so I have that to work on. My original thought was to make some pieces similar to what I already have, but then I got to thinking about the subject of the event.

And then I went looking for book charms, and I found some really neat ones!

And then . . .

I found tiny books.

TINY. BOOKS.

I was so excited by the impending arriving of the TINY BOOKS!!!! that as soon as I could lay hands on my wire, I mocked up a tiny book out of some cardboard and started to work out how to incorporate one into jewelry. Without damaging it. Or letting it get lost. But still being accessible for writing tiny notes in it (these are blank books).

It’s probably a good thing they won’t get here before the weekend (maybe. maybe not), because there is work I need to get done for the Open Studios.

Although . . . I am getting several tiny books. So I could probably do some work using them and have it available during Open Studios, too.

Process and progress

Back in September, I was playing around with a bunch of sea-themed beads. I had this really amazing large mermaid charm/pendant, but I couldn’t quite see her as just a pendant. Or even as just a pendant with a lot of interesting supporting beads and wire around.

I thought the centerpiece of an elaborate necklace would be nice, so I did a crude sketch and laid out some beads in a way that seemed reasonable:

A large metal mermaid charm with some beads arranged on a sketch of a necklace design.

This is more or less how I design necklaces: sketch out what I think the structure will be, put beads down on it, then photograph.

I didn’t quite feel like making it then. Or maybe I was really busy. Or both. But periodically I remembered (like when I was pawing through beads, and be reminded there was this piece lurking, completely unfinished), and I’d want to get back to it.

Well, what with Arisia coming up, I have suddenly felt spurred to action!

Tragically, I took no more in-process photos, but here is the completed piece:

Completed collar. Necklace. Whatever.

The structure is, as usual, stainless steel, in three different gauges. The swoopy, wave-like wires are sterling silver. HOLY COW, is silver wire easy to bend! After spending quite some time forcing the stainless steel (and it is a soft temper steel!) to do what I wanted, the sterling felt like putty. Wow. So nice.

Components are: big metal mermaid charm/pendant, lots of different glass beads, and a couple of pieces of dyed shell. The circle that the mermaid is facing is dyed shell, and there’s a chunky green rectangular bead on the other side that is also shell.

I put one of the pale green beads behind her head to make her face stand out a little more.

This was the most painful piece I’ve done. I am used to my finger pads feeling tender after bending a lot of stainless steel, and I occasionally wind up with minor stab and scratch wounds from unfiled wire ends. But working on it last night, I managed an impressive puncture wound as well as an embarrassing incident with the flush cut pliers. (Embarrassing because seriously, it isn’t that hard to keep the soft bits away from the sharp parts of tools!)

In other news, I made a bunch of earrings, and a couple more pendants. I am liking this productivity!

THe usual sorts of things: brass wire, sterling silver wire, stainless steel; glass and stone beads.

Still to do for Arisia: title all of these things. And the other things. And submit all that plus size info and pricing. And work out table layout; I think I am NOT going to use slabs of rock this time, because it is heavy to carry around! And I do not have enough slabs for every necklace anyway.

I do have a chunk of a tree branch. Maybe I can hang things off that.