Medical, Magical, Mystical Copper

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If you Google copper you’ll find it has purported medical, magical, and mystical powers.  Wiki thinks so highly of copper I’m not sure if I believe all of it, even with the 130 references. Being a nurse, however, I am aware of the necessity of having the right minerals in your diet.  I once read about a condition wherein if your body is low on certain minerals, you’ll be inclined to eat dirt.  Eewe.

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Well, if copper really is that good for you, I should be in great shape because I’ve been handling it for almost three weeks straight. Aside from the trace amounts I am absorbing through my skin, and which will eventually make it into my bloodstream, tonight I got a big fat sliver of it in my finger.  Not comfortable, and it took awhile to get it out.

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Rainy Days and Jewelry

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Unlike the summer of no rain (literally three months without), we’re now getting that gloomy, redolent, rainy weather I crave. What is better than a pajama day in the studio creating? The cats love to watch me work.

I’ve learned much in the past few weeks experimenting with copper, snips and my torch. Clearly I gravitate toward the knobbly look. There’s no question that my pieces are handmade, and my goal is not to get my creations looking more professionally made. On the contrary, it’s the unusual and whimsical that I’m trying to capture.

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With all the new tools, patinas, textures, findings, connectors, charms, and chains, there is no end to this.  And that suits me just fine.

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Stargazing Rabbit, Copper Art Jewelry

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This piece posed one of my biggest challenges.  But my friend Beth had the solution which, simply put, was to punch two holes instead of one.  Wire wrapping dominated the project, and I wound up making two sets of these wires.  I got so frustrated with the first set, I destroyed them in a crafting meltdown.  One thing I learned was that I need glasses when wrapping.  It’s close-up work and requires two tools in two hands at once.  Hum…  But I like the effect.

The backgrounds are both embossed with normal scrapbooking embossing powders and then sealed.  Champagne for the top and black and white mix for the bottom.  I used two different texture stamps.  I tried enameling in class but found that enameling cracks when the metal is bent.  I’ll stick to this embossing method until I get more experience.

The rabbit is another charm from the cross stitch stash, and it appears I won’t be running out of these any time soon.  Perhaps I’m photographing these too closely (on my macro setting) so that you can see the detail.  But in fact, they look much better hanging around my neck.

I’ve worn two of my creations out, and each time I received multiple compliments, comments, and questions about where I got them…from strangers!  I love being able to say:  “I made this!”

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A Bee in a Box, Copper Art Jewelry

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Not having a square punch was not a deterrent for me.  I simply took a small sharpened chisel and after marking the square on the copper, I placed the metal on a wooden block and pounded out the square. I used the natural indentation from the chisel to pull and smooth the interior edges of the square toward the back.  Two sterling eyelets stabilize the top piece and then both pieces of copper were connected with tabs cut from the back piece and pounded around the edge of the top piece.  The shiny silver panel is melted heavy-duty aluminum foil, an inexpensive and yet attractive alternative to sterling.

The textures were done with a texture hammer, and the 20 gauge wire across the top was shaped into a curve using a specialized pair of pliers while the tips were torch fired to bring out the red balls on the end.  26 gauge silver wire was wrapped around the copper wire to bring down the silver color into the piece from the silver chain.  I used a tiny bronze bee from the cross-stitch stash and buried it in non-yellowing crazy glue.

All this might seem pretty easy, but this piece took me over a day to complete.  And worth every minute.

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Two Easy Pieces: Copper Art Jewelry


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Putting a square on a square is one of the basics in making art jewelry.  And while it would sound incredibly simple, it’s not as easy as you think. There are logistics involved, and I have found that making a template out of paper is the first thing you must do.  From there I make a mock piece, finding out before it’s too late where to add the rivets and tuck the ends of wire.  I’ll make numerous configurations with charms, textures, colors, and metals before I actually make a pendant.

I had the good fortune the other day to find a box of at least fifty gold-plated and sterling silver flat charms in my stash of cross-stitching stuff.  Back in the 80’s, cross stitch patterns often came with these little add-on’s to bring more dimension to the stitching.  Apparently I had more charms than projects, so now I can add these to my jewelry.

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Getting the right bail or jump ring, and the right chain is important to the outcome, and recycled chains from old jewelry will be my major source.

The piece to the right has a brass background. I found the brass at a junk shop for $1.  It was the solid brass kickplate of an exterior door, which was a find because now most, if not all kick plates, are brass plated.  At 14 guage, it’s difficult to work with, but it makes a strong and weighty foundation for any design once you figure out how to punch holes through it.

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Art Jewelry Class with Mary Hettmansperger

First Completed Piece

First Completed Piece

My friend Beth and I hit the road last Sunday and spent a week in Gatlinburg, TN making jewelry under the tutelage of Mary Hetts {sic}.  The week was full of surprises and fun, including a birthday gift from Mary, pictured bottom right.  The photo at left is the first piece I finished, and I brought home many more.  But beyond my new jewelry, I learned so much in this one week.  It was like a year’s worth of watching videos.  If you click on the above link, you will see a representation of every technique she taught us.  I can now make any of these pieces with the knowledge I gained.

Arrowmont is an “immersion” experience.  You live on campus, eat in a dining hall, and sleep in dorms.  Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, but my heater was broken and it got cold at night.  There were no more rooms, so Beth and I stayed at the gorgeous Fairfield Inn down the street and didn’t mind one bit the TV, telephone, new beds, and those little chocolates on our pillows.  We even had connecting rooms.  Given the comments about Arrowmont’s accommodations, we feel we lucked out.

We kept our meal tickets and enjoyed the experience of meeting many new people.  There were seven different programs this, the last, of Arrowmont’s 2016 season.  The campus is on the side of a steep hill right downtown, but it was incredibly quiet at all times.  The fall leaves were peaking, though there was some smoke in the air which didn’t seem to diminish the bright blue skies and 65 degree weather we had every single day.  Except for a head cold, the experience could not have been better.


A gift from Mary

I will post again about the techniques and more pictures of what I accomplished.  But let me say this now:  If you ever get a chance to take one of Mary’s classes, DO IT.  Even though I am prone to hyperbole, I can not overstate the value of her instruction and the fun you will have in the process. We had students from across the country, including Oregon and San Diego.  She’s that worth it!

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Baby Owl Painting

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Will be offering this little owlet as class number two in the series later in the summer.  But right at the moment, I’m noticing that my cats keep looking at this painting.  Maybe they look at all my paintings, and I just haven’t noticed that.

Where have my watercolors gone?  And why is it so much easier to paint with acrylics????

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Got Milk?

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Been working in acrylics again because I’m getting ready for two teaching opportunities this summer.  This cow is a composite of several cows I found on the Internet.  I think animals are easier than anything, and acrylics are far easier than watercolors.  But as soon as I get all my plants in, I’ll be outside with my little watercolor box, painting some flowers before they turn.

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A Week of Bliss: Lian Quan Zhen

I schedule these classes a year in advance; you have to because they fill within days of being offered.  This past week could be considered the best art instruction I’ve ever had.  Lian Quan Zhen was at Cheap Joes, and I got there early enough on Monday to get a front row seat.  And it was worth it.

If you are an artist you already know this.  Continuing education is paramount to keeping up your skills.  The costs can be daunting for the five days, but they do provide tasty lunches.  And all of these classes, without exception, are rolling advertisements for products, “highly recommended” and available right through those adjacent doors.  Of course many of Zhen’s originals and prints were displayed on the walls around the classroom, begging your attention and money.  But if you can resist all the temptations and simply concentrate on the demos of the class, you will learn so much from this man.

I did three paintings, none of which I feel happy enough about to put up here, so instead I’ve displayed one of his that is similar to one we painted during class time.  And therein lies the best part.  While many instructors have you sit in uncomfortable chairs watching them paint, whistle, and occasionally make a remark about what is good or bad about that last stroke, Zhen paints quickly, noting each color often, each stroke and how he did it, AND reiterates often to get his point across.  “Change color; change shape; …. Never put dark next to dark…. Hold your brush like this…”  His demos were short and we were back at our painting tables applying what we just learned.   Several students agreed that many instructors should take Zhen’s class to learn how to instruct.”  And I agree with them.

The first two days were Chinese painting with Chinese tools and paints.  I have a new appreciation for the art form and will continue to learn it.  The rest of the week was conventional watercolor, but several of the Chinese painting techniques crossed over easily.  Zhen paints a lot with his fingers.  He uses spray bottles, straws, and a variety of items to remove paint when things get too wet.  He throws paint on the paper and watches it do its own thing, or coaxes it to move and blend.  It’s almost like magic, and I wound up referring to him as the “Go-Go-Gadget of Watercolor.”  I should have taken notes, and I regret I didn’t because at the end I found myself buying several of his DVD’s for reference.

The moral of this post is to recommend his class.  There wasn’t one moment of boredom or confusion.  He’s a great teacher, a fantastic watercolor artist, and even if you don’t have an interest in painting like him, you will still learn volumes that will enhance your own style to a measurable degree.  Check him out.

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First Sheep…acrylic on canvas.




I’m selling this one in the art co-op.  It’s 18″ X 24″ and the first of, hopefully, many sheep.  The background, which is dark enough to confuse my camera, is deep purple.

Thank you everyone:  Cobs, Dale, Averyclaire, Karen, Donna and Cindy for your kind words and support, and to everyone who has “liked” my recent paintings.  I’m just taking a very small break from watercolor, but I’ll be back to it this fall at a week-long seminar with Lian Quan Zhen.  Very excited.


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