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 as  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.

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.

Beat the heat during ArtBeat – stop in at the Burren’s SLAM

Somerville’s awesome ArtBeat festival is tomorrow.

Coincidentally, tomorrow is also another fun SLAM at the Burren, located conveniently in Davis Square, right next to many of the art and craft booths of ArtBeat. I will be there in the back room, enjoying shade and air conditioning and the company of fellow artists and crafters (though I do hope to make a brief tour of ArtBeat; I need to replace a glass hair clip, and want to check out the dragon being built by friends from the Asylum).

Stop by! Enjoy the coolth and the nifty handmade stuff! (And the $5 lunch specials, if you are so inclined.)

I’ve been busy during the last month with Asylum stuff (lots and lots of graphic design, much of it for our recent Open House – hey, we’re moving to a big new space!) and with building a UV-reactive art installation for Firefly and attending said event and recovering from it and so on. No good pictures of the glowfish, alas; my camera is lousy at taking photos in the dark, but the fish don’t look nearly as interesting in broad daylight.

Experiments with titanium, Swapfest loot, and other progress

So I finally started playing with the titanium wire I ordered recently.

It is very lovely stuff – matte metallics colors (it is anodized), and a soft surface unlike any other metal (probably from the anodization).

It is also, as the website said, difficult to work with. I cannot put sharp bends in it; it will break. Right away. It work hardens FAST. And, like the website said, its temper is similar to spring steel, so I have to bend it well past where I want it to be in order for it to stay where I want it. It is also very light; holding one of the small coils, I had a hard time believing I was holding a metal (well, maybe aluminum).

An ear cuff, necklace concept in progress, and random bent shapes.

I don’t feel like I’ve got a good handle on how to use it yet; perhaps if I made the entire necklace from the same color? (The test piece is stainless steel for the support structure, and two different colors of titanium for the layered leaves.)

I do like how the colors of some of the wires work with the rainbow hues on my grey glass beads:

Shiny! The wire is a greyish blue; the bead has some similar colors in it.

In other exciting materials and supplies news, I made it to Swapfest, and got:

– 2 exceptionally lovely bearings

– 1 mystery object that might have come out of an old textile mill

– 2 hard drives with platters held in place with screws and not the mysterious unremovable mechanism some of my other junk drives have, not that I’m still bitter about that

– 1 box of random metal junk, which cost me $1, and was worth at least $2 in entertainment value

Everything from the box of random junk, laid out nicely. (plus hard drives and bearings from other sellers)

There are some small wrenches in that pile of stuff. And by “small” I mean “about the length of my finger THEY ARE ADORABLE.” Most of the weight of that box is made up by things that I think are bike parts. I don’t need them, but lugging them around was a reasonable payment for the small wrenches and other random small metal objects that I am going to clean and keep and eventually incorporate into . . . something.

There was also a piece of lead, in sheet form, in the box, which is now safely contained in a plastic bag. I don’t need a piece of lead sheet metal running around loose and contaminating the place.

The disk drives were also entertaining. One has unusually dark platters; the other had some fantastic machined pieces of metal separating its platters.

Yes, the platters really are dark brown.

Here's the metal piece separating two platters in the other drive.

Later, I discovered that if you hold a platter up so you can see your face in it, you can get some really odd effects if you move the platter around while looking at the reflection, because you will also see two blurry circles of the background at the same time. If you close one eye, you will only get one blurry circle, which leads to fun things like moving the platter so that the circle (the hole in the center of the platter) is where the reflection of your eye should be. It’s like being inside a Magritte, only instead of having an apple for a head, you have a potted plant for an eye.

It is very difficult to get good photographs of this.

Um.

Anyway.

I’ve also (finally) got two tiny book pendants put on cords and ready to photograph and eventually list on Etsy. I’m seriously considering opening up another online store on another site, but there are SO MANY other sites that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with trying to choose.

Oh and I decoupaged the mannequin! At least partially. I didn’t think it was necessary to decoupage the entire thing, since I won’t be photographing the whole mannequin, just the portions necessary to show up jewelry. So she looks like she’s wearing a very stylish sort of crop-top, since the decoupage, which has uneven edges, stops somewhere above her navel.

Neat wire jewelry by other people

Part of my motivation for making wire jewelry was to learn how to turn pretty stone beads into pendants and the like, which meant I had to learn some basic wire-wrapping techniques. Lots of people do this kind of work, so I’ve had plenty of sources of awesome inspiration and eye candy.

Another part of my motivation was to explore an idea I had for making ear cuffs, which a lot of people also do with wire, except that one thing lead to another and I found that making interesting shapes with the wire was more intriguing than dangling beads from a basic ear cuff, and I have become more focused on using the wire to create the majority of the piece, to be the focus, rather than be used as primarily connective, structural material, or the framework.

But I have not seen many examples of this kind of work, focused on using the wire as the primary source of form and interest, which has had me at a bit of a loss in some ways.

Until recently, when I started finding other jewelry designers working primarily with wire to create their designs. And the excellent thing about them is that they are all strikingly different.

Beautifully simple mechanics; industrial

First (somewhere), I found this link to an interview with Brenda Schweder, who not only makes jewelry using wire, but steel wire!

Oh my god. I am not alone!

There are a lot of awesome photos of her work on her Facebook page; it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I really like the simple forms of this piece, and the design of the sections that go around the wearer’s neck:

Winterfrost Pod by Brenda Schweder

Three-dimensional organic forms

Also from Lark Crafts (that post has a free tutorial in it), I found the blog and jewelry of Kathy Frey, who also makes sculptural jewelry out of wire. Her gallery and her Etsy have plenty of examples. Her pod shapes, and the nest shapes, are my favorites.

Suspended Hidden Pearl Pod Pendant, by Kathy Frey

Simple geometry, reminiscent of mid-century Modernism

And via a post on Kathy Frey’s blog, I found Tia Kramer, who makes her own paper and combines that with wire forms. The combination of simple geometric shapes and rich colors (from the paper) just blows my mind. She has some very elaborate necklaces that incorporate other pieces of jewelry in them (like earrings and a bracelet) that can be worn as one piece or separately, as well as many simple, stunning pieces.

Crescent Eclipse, sterling silver and handmade paper, by Tia Kramer

Science fiction, high-tech

Going for a totally different style is this choker reminiscent of cyberpunk (found via someone’s board on Pinterest (they linked another piece by the same person)):

Bionic choker by DominicElvinDesign

I am not entirely sure what media are used in this piece, other than wire. Polymer clay? Precious metal clay? Random found objects?

I don’t really care, because the part of my brain that loves high-tech science fictiony design thinks this is the best thing ever. (It is currently engaged in a standoff with the parts of my brain that prefer Modernism, or an industrial look, or organic shapes.)

Now with crossposting!

This blog will now automagically crosspost to:

My account (feathersmith) on Dreamwidth from which it will even more magically be crossposted to my account (feathersmith) on Livejournal.

If you’ve been reading via the syndicated feed on LJ, I recommend adding feathersmith to your flist, because if you comment on the syndicated post, I will probably never see it. Also, the syndicated posts eventually expire, but posts made in an actual journal do not.

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.

SOS spells success!

Put that dictionary down before you hurt someone; you know what I mean.

The exhibit looked great, thanks to the hard work of a bunch of folks at the Asylum, especially Ecco and Carolyn, who organized it all. We – and I mean mostly other people – gave a lot of tours of the space to visitors, and people seemed really enthusiastic about it.

The art was great, too. I didn’t take many pictures, but other people did. Eventually I will have links to those photos. In the meantime:

Art! And a go-kart! There's more on the left; click the photo to see the whole set.

Part of my display, showing off my wire trees and some of the necklace busts.

Here are more photos of the construction of the necklace busts, which were made from cardboard boxes (and covered with the kraft paper the boxes were stuff with, except that black one, which I covered with a layer of black art paper, all the better to show off the necklace). They pack mostly flat when disassembled.