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Beads, bookmarks and magnets

17 Apr

2012: Lots going on in the studio the last couple weeks. Lots more pictures to share. My personal breakthroughs, too.

Although I started the bead coloring with some concerns, I ended up liking them so much more than I expected. And I also ended up finishing my original prototype Thesaurus Beads. While I was at it. And having so much fun. Of course. It felt good to see how a little color could add a finishing touch to the beads that I previously only saw as experimental pieces.

“Perhaps” is so named for the text on the bead

When I started making collage beads I didn’t know why I was but I knew that I had to and I believe it was part of my process to just do them without too much questioning. I made several attempts to highlight the beads by dangling them from artsy bases. This multi-layered piece (above) in its own oak frame is pretty cool and was fun to make but clearly, I have not achieved a $5 item. Well, I had my breakthrough when I realized the bead is art even if I can’t find anyplace on it for a signature. A signature is not what makes it art. YAY!

And, then it turns out there’s more to life than beads. I want to thank a twinkly-eyed friend for suggesting bookmarks. Who knew bookmarks could be so much fun to make? I don’t even know if people still need bookmarks but … and this might sound familiar … they’re ART so we’ve already established that it doesn’t matter what else they’re FOR. It is okay to call it a bookmark and then hang it on the bulletin board.

As much fun as the bookmarks are to make, I’ve been relentless in my mission to create something justabitfaster. I went ahead with the bookmarks and didn’t take any shortcuts. But I while I worked I felt myself being pulled really close to that big idea. And I kept feeling more sure that I could distill the essence of this work into something even smaller than a bookmark.

That essence became magnets. I’m just getting started.

Below I’m trying out the “Gallery” feature. There are 22 pictures with captions. Click on any to get the larger view and then you can scroll through. How cool is this?


Today’s Riddle

1 Apr

Found my groove finally with the bead coloring. Okay, more like I wore it down. I'm so stubborn sometimes. Side note: that's my magic pin in the upper right of the photo, I use it to pick up and manipulate the mini paper strips.

Spent quite a bit of time questioning whether the beads looked perfect in black and white or if they might be improved with color. Possibly, it came down to whether they looked better as-is or with the coloring done badly? Oh no! Not that AGAIN?! My bead-coloring fears: Too dark and they become illegible. I’m not interested in going too pastel, either. Too many spontaneous, painterly moves and I make mud. It isn’t a very big canvas!

Eventually… [after I tried different techniques and even painted over the rejects] a combo of fabric dye and watered-down acrylics meets with my approval. My delight at seeing it working is built into every bead! Yes, I like the color. Art of this tiny scale probably needs the double-take value that a little color adds. I hope this helps slow people down long enough to bring it into focus.

It always comes down to this: Maybe I could be a great artist. If I could just stop second-guessing myself all the time. But. I CAN’T DO that. Or CAN I?

I keep going as if I’ve already arrived. Trying not to give much weight to the doubts in my head, mostly because I don’t believe everything I hear. Behaving as if my quirky stuff is going to be a big hit when I start getting it out there. Which is coming up soon enough.

And, I have my answer next time somebody asks me what my art is for. I’m not being sarcastic. I don’t feel responsible to explain my art but I’m happy to do so. I made it because it amused me at the time. How true!

Circle Poems

28 Mar

Wall charms at night

I’ve finished this group of 12 wall charms. The poems start at the top and are circular but you can jump in or out anyplace. Not a lot of room makes them short and sweet. Sometimes weird. At a glance, adorable.

Just before the type went on

I was going to do more of the “No if and or but” but but but, I didn’t really have enough room to get a rhythm going that made me laugh. It works on a bead though, so I am satisfied.

No if and or but!

Stones were challenging. Got the turquoise just right. It looks good bumpy. For the next group though, I’ll need some of the stones to be smoother for a more convincing effect.

Here’s the three in turquoise. Click the link to see album with all of them

Layers of texture and color

23 Mar

Little wall charms. Easier than saying miniature sculpture-painting-collages. They might be magic. It feels good to be a little bit delighted by my own creations. I asked a friend (another artist) if it is okay for me enjoy my work so much. She said yes, as long as I can also let go of it. Thank you! What a great answer.

Everything has two coats except the "stones" in the middle are still raw.

With a little antiquing. There will be little shortie poems along the raised pathways.

I’ve gone over both whites with a sponge of yellow oxide. Two colors of copper and two colors of silver plus black. Nice. Even though I attempted to get more of a layered look with less colors, this is where I got satisfied.

Below: Pictures, captions, more or less in real time.

I like the shape of this stone and the way the bezel compensates to fit the round.

Feels like a mechanical gadget. Got hardware?

Oh my, the RED!

Photo op. The red really shines.

First coat on the stones. There will be many many more coats. Lots of extra-gloss gel, glitter, special stone-y effects. But for the moment, I am enjoying the pure colors just as they are.

I have plans to make this stone look like a pendant I've been wearing since I was 15.

What a hoot, right?

Side view.

Mirror in the middle.

While I waited for the fronts to dry hard enough for a second coat... I had a signing party. It's just me and my sharp brush. I call it a party because I'm doing them all at once. Also because I'm willing to sign them before they're finished which is a big deal. Like doing a crossword in ink.

I wouldn’t want to get carried away…

19 Mar

Night photography is so satisfying. I'm done working and the lamp light is warm. Giving the feeling that there is no need to worry about details.

Balancing all that neat and
tidy with some spatters.

Curving the type involves making lots of slits in the paper. More cuts as the curve gets tighter. I tried to shortcut some of these by not making enough slits. As if short lines don’t need to be curved but they do, they do! Even if super subtle, it absolutely makes a difference in whether or not the words feel truly connected to the base.

On this set (the Phrase Blocks Series) I wanted to see just how quickly I could work. Definitely, I see a few that I wish I’d taken a bit more time with. But…

Picked up on a whole bunch of great ideas for the next set and how to do them better, fancier and easier. Actually, I’m already deep into them. More squares, rectangles, rounds too!

"baker's dozen" finished

Wondering now, where I might dig up more great books to demolish? My way of honoring books. Sounds weird, feels right. I’m dreaming of large initial caps, interesting folios. I’m open to old keyboards, scrabble pieces, anything I can get my hands on that feels quirky and retro. I won’t be doing anything that looks like a ransom note, no. Elegant typography, yes!

(below): After I spatter painted, I still wanted more white. So I touched the brush to the squares. Did it looking away, eyes mostly closed. For a better chance at making it random. While still getting paint on the blocks. I have to say, sponging is really more my style.

Spatters in white, this drop cloth has been used before.

(below): After the white, yellow spatters. Trying to get the color to blend with the color of the book pages.

Spattered but neatly arranged

Also working on…

You know, stuff.


Cute poem leftover from the Humorous Hearts, in a block format.

Artsy photography, with lamplight shining directly into my lens.

And the new set of wall charms…

Letting the jewel dry first makes the rest of the shaping easier, if I can wait that long.

Getting some of the details and sponging done.

Using chunks of really rough old wood with uneven character.

Willing curlicues

(above): It was comforting to have a small piece to practice my ideas on. The little chains are leftover from “finished” bird toys. This copper paint is always too, too much but I like it a lot with a layer of antique gold over top.

More little ditties drying in the sun.

Looking forward to the painting phases, always. Color is food. First coat feels like I am nourishing the clay. Second coat is candy. I could go on and on and sometimes I do!

I have stacks of these. Sometimes I use them the way they pop out of the book and others I mix it up. It doesn't take much of a deletion, or addition from another page, to really change the context! I've taken a lot of these shorties for the mini wall charms that are drying now.

And, of course, adding the letters is pure fun, I’m not going to rush.

Mended Heart Monday

28 Feb

My Mended Heart

My mended heart project is started with a light hesitation, nothing as strong as resistance. What’s concerning to me at the moment is that I don’t know if I can do it well, do a good job. Yet I trust Charlene as My Mended Heart Guide and we begin. Before I know it, I’m wondering where the day went!

Clearly, I am not the first student of the Mended Heart process. Charlene is cool as a cuke and is leading me through all the steps with precision order.

I’ll need to choose a ready-sewn heart from the stacks and stacks available. Right away I’m wondering: how do you get the stuffing inside? I find out I’ll have to cut open the heart to stuff it! Wow. Chills. I’m already feeling the magic–that didn’t take long. Without too (terribly) much difficulty I’ve chosen this colorful, kind of wild, batik style heart.

I select a yummy red fabric as the patch material and add the stuffing. Using a chopstick, I make sure to get the tip nice and pointy–the stuffing soft and even, not lumpy. Now on to the findings. There are really way too many choices. Good thing I’ve reviewed the dozens of finished hearts that Charlene has on hand. She watches for that sparkle in my eye and it helps her narrow down my options. I start with a wee bit of burlap and a length of silver chain.

Don’t remember how many ooohs and aaahs I spewed out over her basket of everything wonderful odds-n-ends, but it was a lot. This box is over 15 years worth of collecting, some of the odds are very odd and some of the beads are handmade by Charlene. Now that I’ve pawed through the box for a while, a nautical theme is emerging–seahorses, fish, shells. Again, tooooooo many choices! I never even get to the towers of seed beads that are in my peripheral vision the entire time.

What I choose is just an anchor and two bells. Charlene graciously waxes my threads so I can sew. And she engineers my jump ring situation so the bells will hang just right. At this point Charlene tries three times to get my attention to show me something and I hear nothing, so intent am I on the stitching of the burlap to the heart.

Ta da. It looks good, just… Charlene politely offers that if I want to, I can sew down the anchor to prevent it from hanging backwards. Nah, I say, just let it swing, no problem. Without missing much of a beat, I casually say that we could glue two anchors back-to-back. Oh, we are both so relieved! Apparently, we’d like for it to not bug us if it hangs backwards but in our hearts we know it will. Too funny, right?

Anyway, now we’re down to the hanger and apparently I am too tired to choose one (have I mentioned the many many choices?). Charlene chooses for me a perfect hanger and I promise to finish at home.

So I’m home. I’m looking at it. Liking it. But it doesn’t make sense. Do I really need to understand this? Yes. I’m wondering why I have the burlap completely covering the red fabric that I love so much. My first thought is to reinforce the red stitching as a way of bringing the inside out. No. Here comes the ah ha: what if the solution is not to add something–but to create the mending by taking excess away? Yes.

Pulling out every other thread from the burlap gives it a looser weave that allows a hint of the red to show through. From across the room I don’t notice the mending at all. A person must look closer to see that. I notice the happy colors, the strong chain. An anchor for moveable security. Bells to sing out that I have a mended heart, although I can’t sing, hence the bells.