Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Little Help From My Friends

"Propulsion" by Diaspora

Procrastination. Quiescence. Hard to get past. Momentum. Propulsion. Hard to implement. Sometimes force is needed propel energy into motion. I'd like your help in encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone. To break my standard modus operandi. 

I wanna start on my projects for the Masters Registry. Part of my problem is that I can't decide where to begin. So I'll offer 5 choices, one from each category - and I'd love it if you'd proffer your opinion (is that the correct use of that word?).  The project that gets the most votes will be my first foray into this adventure. Here goes.

Construction - Syringe Project
Metal Clay with Other Materials - Combine Metal Clay with Steel
Miscellaneous - Stencil Process

I'll begin the process on October 6. Rosh Hashana. The Jewish New Year. A perfect time for new beginnings.  Actually Rosh Hashana ends on October 1st, but I'm taking a little creative license. L'shana Tovah to members of all the tribes of the world. And wish me luck on my venture.

Addendum: I've gotten some comments and notes to my personal mail about this post, and in case it wasn't clear, I want your help! Your opinions! Your suggestions on which project to start first. Pleeeease leave a comment.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Sweet Smell of Success

Dichroic Glass projects - fresh from the kiln

Okay, so we all get nervous about things that maybe we shouldn't expend energy getting nervous about. Maybe we should have more confidence in ourselves. Maybe we should realize that our years of previous experience will stand us in good stead in new situations. Maybe we should stop talking in the third person.

Marcie and Leila deep in discussion

My very 1st certification class went really well. I had 6 very nice and talented ladies, two of whom had never touched metal clay before! Everyone made top notch work and of course, everyone passed. In my most evil fantasy of pickiness and examination, there was nothing on any of the projects that stood out as unworthy. I'm so proud of each student.

And I remembered to take my camera! Woo Hoo! Unfortunately, the pics were awful. Boo hoo. I'll have to bring something other than a black velvet board on which to document the finished projects next time. You'll just have to take my word for it, there were some lovely and very creative designs.

Robin, Gayle, Lynne and Irma hard at work

The next class is scheduled for January 10th and 11th, so save some of your Christmas bonus and reserve your seat. Now I'm sure that we'll have a really great time and that you'll learn alot.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Weekend Eye Candy - Inspiration Edition

View these photos individually HERE

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye." ~ The Little Prince ~

If you can open your mind and heart to the endless inspiration of the world, you'll never be without a reason to create. And just imagine what wonderful designs you might dream.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My So-Called Life

Three incisions this time.  Pretty.

Yesterday I got my stitches out!  Yay!  Still no bath for ten more days and Cling Wrap to protect it while taking a shower, but I'm so happy to have a naked foot (instead of a bandaged one). But why is it that when you're told "no" about anything at all, that's all you want. No chocolate? Gotta get to the ice cream shop right away. Grounded at home? There's a party, concert, lecture, fill in the blank - that you simply must attend. No bath? That's all I dream of. A good long soak. With really hot water. Mmmmm. Heaven.

Today I had lunch with my friend Lori and created some documents to post on the Etsy MetalClay site. This afternoon, I'm back to preparing for my class this weekend.  Packing things up, making sure I have every tool and supply that I might need. Then laundry, shower (complete with a Cling Wrapped foot) and beddy bye. Too much boring, personal information right? I lead such a glamorous life. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Are You Ready?

Project Sample #1 - Fold Over Bail with Dichroic Glass and CZ

Yes I'm Ready... Well, almost. Gettin' there. For my first Level One Certification class.

These are some dichroic cabochons I'm bringing for my students to use in one of the projects. I bought them at a bead shop. They're really pretty, but a bit pricey so I think I'll take a class and learn how to make my own. There's one coming up at San Gabriel Bead Company in October that I can actually make since it's on a Tuesday night. If it had been Wednesday, I'd be teaching a class of my own, so I lucked out.


I'm making lists, trying to figure out an agenda, trying to remember interesting tidbits to include in the introduction, wondering if I should incorporate Robert Dancik's habit of using a singing bowl and talking about a favorite car or movie at the start of a class. Robert believes that it encourages the left brain to take a breather and the right brain to gear up and get ready for creativity. I love it when he takes the time for this, but not sure it's really true to my own personality. It really helped me focus though, so maybe I'll try it. Or adapt the basic idea to fit my style.

I have a few more samples to make before Friday.  If I can, I'll give you a sneak peek.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I've discovered that BronzClay is so much harder than silver clay that it takes much longer to drill holes in the fired metal. Note to self: ask the experts if I should use a different type of drill bit.

I've discovered that hydrochloric acid (aka Black Max) just rubs right off. It's more time consuming, but LOS is the thing to use for sure.

I've discovered that gold fill looks just fine, but that I need to place an order for bronze wire, chain and findings with Vintaj.

I've discovered that I love the warm tones of the bronze.

I've discovered that I'm sad that soldering will be more difficult. I'm not a real fan of wire wrapping in my own work (although I like it in others).

It was supposed to look like this, but broke as I was distressing the edges.

I've discovered that accidents and unintentional breakage can be a very happy occurrence.

Available for sale on Etsy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Welcome to the Carnival!

Step right this way... Each month a group of jewelry artists use their blogs to get together online and answer the same question - each in their own way.  The topic this time is:

What was your path to designing jewelry?

I've always been creative. When I was a girl I made miniature shoebox living environments for my Liddle Kiddles and Barbies. Beds out of check book boxes and couch patterns made out of cut and scotch taped cardboard from my father's dry cleaned shirts.  

Later in Jr. (Portola in Tarzana) and High School (William Howard Taft in Woodland Hills California) I got into the choirs - which ruled my life for years afterwards. My college group was a jazz choir and we were so good that we entered competitions, toured and recorded. I've sung at the Playboy Mansion, The Hollywood Bowl and The Montreaux Jazz Festival.  One time in an airport in Hawaii I was asked for my autograph.  The only time.  Must have made a big impression 'cos I'm still talking about it. In 1983 we made a record (flat black round thing? remember those?) using some new type of recording process and were nominated for a Grammy! Manhattan Transfer won of course, but what a thrill.

For reasons I won't bore you with I left music and wandered for a while. Taking lessons at American Bartending School (hate drunks - never got a job) and doing the books at a Moroccan restaurant. Then I decided to take an extension type class in Hollywood make up techniques. A life changing decision.

From that little class came a 17 year career doing make up, first in very low budget films and then in commercials. Then the actors decided to strike and I was out of work for 6 months. I was interested in a traditional jewelry making course being offered within walking distance of my house, but decided that spending $500.00 when I wasn't bringing in much money wasn't very smart. Then I glanced down at the bottom of the shop's window and noticed something that said $50. That caught my eye. It was about something called metal clay. Didn't make sense to me, so of course I had to go in and ask about it. Another big life changer.  By the time the strike was over, I had lost 3 of my biggest clients and my fascination with the movie industry. Metal clay and jewelry making came to me at just the right time.

I started making things to sell at farmer's markets and local art shows and did pretty well, although it was a good thing that I had movie savings tucked away. Then after a couple of years I met a gal who worked at a bead store and told me they were looking for a metal clay teacher. That possibility had never occurred to me and I didn't think I was qualified, so I smiled, said "thanks for the suggestion" and blew it off.  Well, she worked at the store and knew I hadn't gotten in touch with the owner and for the next five weeks she kept bugging me about it. I finally capitulated and made an appointment. Great Decision.  

I can't imagine doing anything else.  And when my hands are old and too decrepit and unable to perform the small muscle group tasks I love, I'll probably open a bead shop of my own so I can hire other talented folk to teach the medium that has become such a very large part of my life.

The other carney's and I decided to interpret this topic very loosely and I can't wait to see what they have to say.  And this month we're welcoming Tonya Davidson to our midst.  Be sure to check out everyone's posts and  be sure to leave comments.  We looove comments.

And more to come...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Little Tidbits ...

... Of information

* There are still three spaces available in my 1st Level One PMCC Certification class on September 27 & 28. Certification gives an artist a thorough education in many metal clay techniques.  You'll learn how to set stones and dichroic glass; make hollow forms using cork clay, form perfectly sized rings, master the syringe and do dry construction & carving.  I'm sure I'll also be passing along many tricks and tips from my own Intro to PMC class that I've developed over my 6 years of teaching.  Besides, we'll have tons of fun and who would want to miss out on that?  If you're in the Los Angeles area and are interested in signing up, please contact PMC Connection for pricing information and to get on the list.

* The Carnival is coming to town!  Friday is the day that many members of our blog carnival will be getting together to discuss the burning question " What was your path to designing jewelry". This month we're welcoming Tonya Davidson of Whole Lotta Whimsy to the midway. I'm sure it'll be a fascinating history of our lives.

* Did you know that there is a Flickr group dedicated to Etsy Front Pages?  If you've ever missed seeing your work on the FP or are just a fan of the lovely collections that are featured there, join the group to see Treasuries dating back to July '08.  Doesn't seem that long ago, but the Front Page Treasury changes many times a day and there are over 1,100 images to gaze at. Just go the the group and then do a search for the shop you're looking for. Fun for a rainy afternoon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Fame Just Keeps Piling Up...

.... As a brilliant man once said to me.

I'm very pleased to say that my Percheron Earrings have been chosen to be featured in Holly Gage's 2009 calendar " The Art and Design of Metal Clay Jewelry"!  And I'm in really good company.  Three other members of the Etsy MetalClay team that I founded are also featured. Jennifer Smith-Righter, Dina Alexander and Liz Hall are all wonderfully talented ladies and have made our team so much stronger and more dynamic .

And I have many other wonderful friends to keep me company in the calendar's pages.  Maggie Bergman's gorgeous bracelet (made for the Master's Registry) is featured on the cover and Angela Crispin, Deb Fitz , Linda Kaye-Moses and 27 other innovative jewelry makers help make keeping track of appointments and important dates a delightful task.

This is the second year that I've been included and I'm really honored to be keeping company with such amazing artists. Why are you still reading this? You should be surfing over to Holly's site to reserve a copy of your own right now!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Like The Beat, Beat, Beat of the Tom Tom...

Machine made by GE. They bring good things to life. Ha!

What an interesting experience having an MRI is!  You lie down on a table that is attached to the big cylindrical machine and place your head in a cradle so you don't move.  That's the moment when I close my eyes. I have a touch of claustrophobia so I don't want to see them put the head gear on that completely immobilizes you.

Then they roll you back all the way into the guts of the machine. As you move backwards your arms are pressed against the side of the tunnel so that you quite understand how a sardine must feel packed into it's tiny tin. The technician doesn't want you to move a muscle, so you better like your hand/arm position. I chose hands folded across my chest.  Very coffin like indeed. The moment  you're in position, the machine starts it's percussive dance. You hear a series of clicks, thumps and buzzes that last anywhere from a few seconds to maybe 30 seconds at a time. It's quite the cacophony. A heavy metal drummer gone mad.  They give you earplugs, but the sound bleeds through.

Sometimes the table actually vibrates, which feels rather good. A  bonus massage. Sometimes it moves back and forth in a robotic cha-cha. After about 15 minutes, they pulled me out to inject a contrast dye into my arm. The contrast allows them to see certain aspects of the brain more clearly. You don't feel it at all. Then the jungle rhythm starts again. Ten minutes later you're all done. Put your jewelry back on, walk out into the sunshine and it's like it never happened.

Now they have to compare the results to the EEG I did last week and sooner or later my Neurologist will tell me what they found. Probably nothing. Sometimes stuff just happens with no rhyme or reason. Kinda like life.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I'm Having My Head Examined

I really should have done this post this afternoon.  I should be getting ready to go get an MRI on my brain.  They're looking for teeny tiny lesions that might tell them I've been having little silent strokes.

For those of you who might not know, I had a minor stroke on the 4th of July in 2007. Fireworks in the sky, and fireworks in my head.  It was pretty scary, but had completely resolved itself in 5 days. Folks were amazed when I told them I was downstairs doing laundry the following Sunday.

Anyway, I'm having some vision problems and although I have an appointment with optometry in December (that's public health care for ya), they want to take another look inside.  I had a CT scan, an MRI and a spinal tap when the stroke happened, and then last week before the foot surgery I had an EEG on my eyes and now another MRI.  Boy, someone out there knows the real me REALLY well.  Good thing.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Weekend Eye Candy

1. Right-Handed Thistle, 2. Lei-Series Single Flower Side-ish View, 3. Ring, 4. Piercinged Ring (2008. IT) Ring 120.2, 5. Watoahi Earrings, 6. Prismacolor, 7. Ram's Horn Shell Brooch, 8. gothicfeltheartdetailsneak, 9. peanut ring * sterling, 10. WIWT: 9/4/08, 11. Salt & Pepper, 12. N587- tines

I'm recuperating this weekend, but I think I'll get a little work done in the Studiolo. I really want to finish the wedge bead pendant and do a little more experimenting with BronzClay. And I have to take pictures for the San Gabriel Bead Company's winter catalog.

In the meantime, here's some great jewelry from my Flickr friends. Go and explore their photostreams for more amazing creations.

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I've got a screw loose

All four of these were in my foot!

I woke up early this morning to get ready for my second surgery. They took the pins out of my not-so-little-anymore foot.  This time I got there at 9:00 by permission of the surgeon and they brought me in at 11:30.  I woke up in recovery at 2:30 and was home by 5:00!  It was a much better experience than last month.

While I was waiting for Paige to pick me up, I had about five minutes to waste, so I cruised the Etsy Treasuries just to see if I was featured in any.  Lo and behold, I was not in 1 treasury, nor 2, nor 3.  No, my work was represented in no less than 4 treasuries!  And two of them were curated by people I didn't know!  Too cool.

Then, while I was waiting for my dinner to heat up (after having come home from the hospital) I decided to check e-mail and found a message titled "The fame just keeps piling up" from Mr Tim McCrieght himself which read:

" Hi Ashley, Joanna, Lora and Patrik, When you have a minute, check out this link at the online portion of Art Jewelry magazine. As you'll see, your smiles are now available around the world. I hope this finds each of you well and enjoying the closing days of summer. Tim"

A great beginning to the day and an equally auspicious ending. Only wish what transpired in between was just as notable.  Well, I guess it actually was notable. The beginning of the end of my ordeal. With a taste of fame to act as bookends!  Lovely.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Morning Mosaic

View individual images via Flickr

Put on your red shoes and dance as if no one was watching!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Partial Success

Woo Hoo! Here's the wedge, made into a pendant - complete with soldered jump rings and dangle. Patinated and polished. Another homage... to Barbara. Two leafs and a heart. I call it La Witty's Folly.

Now what to do with it? Just string it on a chain? Pair it with a couple of sympathetic beads? Make a gemstone necklace? I'm at a loss. I'll probably just sit with it for a while until it speaks to me.

If you have a suggestion or an inspiration picture you can share, post a comment won't you?

Girl Interrupted

Okay.  I've been  a slacker.  I apologize. The Monday after the workshop I was just exhausted and slept almost all day.  The rest of the week I have no excuse for.

So these are the fruits of my labor.  Notice how my Lemon Wedge looks nothing like Barbara's. I simply must be different.  If I had done the project the way it was designed, and then cut it apart and modified it afterwards, I'd have had an easier time of it.  I had to finish at home because I got so frustrated.  But I only stopped working about a half hour before the end of class, so not too bad.  And I'm really happy with the way it turned out.

I love the bronze ring immensely. The carving is a tribute to Celie. I know she's been doing this kind of  carving since before she ever handled the great grey goop, but it's not easy to carve on a small rounded surface that might break at any minute. I have lots of respect for her work now.  Because of course, I had none before. (is sarcasm hard to understand in the written word?)

The other three elements started out as a single round pendant with a hole in the middle.  Of course it broke as I was sanding it.  So I made a little lemonade.

It's my goal to turn the Lemon Wedge and the bronze bits into finished jewelry today.  Wish me luck.  I'll show them to you as soon as I'm finished.  Honest.