First Sale! …sort of.

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The first time I bought some copper I met one of the owners who seemed moderately interested in what I was using it for.  Or maybe I simply started a conversation, which I frequently do just to make for a more pleasant day.  So today, when I revisited his shop to replenish my copper stash, I brought some of my finished pieces with me.

I was very surprised by his response.  He thought his wife would go crazy over this type of jewelry and offered to barter copper for jewelry.  I gave him his choice of what I’d brought along and he chose one of my earlier pieces (like two weeks earlier) to swap.  I came home with enough copper to last me through the winter.  I was thrilled, and I think he was pretty happy too.

It’s been awhile since I sold a piece of art.  While most people like watercolors, few are interested in buying them, even when they’re framed.  My painting classes generate some interest, but not enough to keep me motivated.  Today was significant because this was the first person, besides Beth, to see my metalwork close up.

Tonight I decided to do something different.  I’ve completed about 20 pieces from copper and felt the need to start chipping away at my massive collection of reclaimed jewelry pieces, stones, beads, bones, antlers, and the like.  This is my first try:  wood, stone, bone and copper.  That’s a hand-carved bone turtle I found in the bead shop in Asheville.  The rod is just copper wire I pounded until it became rock hard.  This piece looks great over a black sweater.

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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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SOLD!

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.

Posted in Assemblage Art, Jewelry, OMG!, Whimseytopia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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.

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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!

Posted in Assemblage Art, Jewelry, OMG!, Uncategorized, Whimseytopia | 3 Comments

Yet Another Addiction (Rust Printing on Paper)

Book cover on Tyvek

Book cover on Tyvek

On a whim I signed up for a two-day class of Rust Dyeing on Paper with the option of creating a book out of my experiments. This was in Asheville at Bookworks, and I had no idea what to expect.  But what I didn’t expect was to be almost immediately hooked on the teacher, the process, and the final product.

Mostly steel, some brass

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Unlike regular eco-dyeing on fabric, you can complete many pieces in under a day, all dry and ready to be stitched into a book.  I brought home around 40 pieces.

There’s both little and much to learn; it’s your choice.  And it is easy to get started in this with almost instantaneous results, but I’m one of those people whose mind spontaneously ignites with “what if’s” and I can’t seem to stop.  I now find myself looking at everything everywhere and questioning if it will rust and whether I can print with it.

So here are some examples of my foray into this new-to-me art form.  I am very pleased and full of wonder about what a little tea, iron, vinegar, clorox, lye, some watercolor paper and a collection of rusty metal pieces can produce.  If you’re not into this kind of thing, I imagine you’ll merely see the top of an old coffee table covered in water marks and stains.  I on the other hand see splendid chemical reactions and wondrous art surprises.

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Definitely Not a Weed

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I have a pot of old herbs at the end of my driveway.  I don’t harvest them, or prune them, or feed them for that matter.  And I’ve been meaning to pull them out and start over since they’ve been coming and going for about three years.  Mostly a weed has taken over; at least I thought it was a weed until this morning it bloomed. And with the bloom came the most deliciously weird fragrance.  It was vaguely familiar, and well it should be. I drink it in my Earl Grey decaf tea every night before bed.  It’s bergamot.

It’s beautiful in the wild, and even prettier on my dining room table.  And the fragrance, not unlike the effect of lavender, is calming.

I’m going to set this plant free this fall or next spring to spread out in a new herb garden.  (If you click this photo three times slowly, it enlarges so much you can really see the detail in these flowers!)

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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????

Posted in Painting, Sketching, Uncategorized, Whimseytopia | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

FINGERPAINTING (a class is born)

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This is being offered locally as a quick class in fingerprinting.  I’ve found that placing the background and much of the bird’s body on the canvas with my fingers cuts down on prep time.  It also allows more latitude in highlighting and shadowing without showing the brush strokes… which is how I discovered this.  When painting large areas I realized I was using my hands to smooth things out and diminish the look of the stroke work.  So why not just start out that way, I thought.  And it worked well.

The class is May 21st, a Saturday.  It starts at noon and runs until we’re finished; about four or five hours.  All materials will be provided, and the cost is $45.  Anyone local who is interested may contact me though this website or call me if you know my number.  Former students will receive an email with instructions.  Thanks for looking.

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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.

Posted in A Day In My Life, Painting, Whimseytopia | 6 Comments