Thursday, February 23, 2012

Weekend Eye Candy - Texas Tarts Edition

I'm packing up for a little jaunt to Texas to see my dear friends, Lorena Angulo and Vickie Hallmark for a prolonged weekend play date!

I'm so excited to be able to see these girls in person again. I last spent time with Vickie last year at Idyllwild's metals week, but I haven't seen Lore since the 2010 conference. Woo hoo!

While I'm there I'm also thrilled to be able to meet a jewelry artist that I've been stalking in cyberland. I think I first became aware of Laura Wood's gorgeous work at an exhibition at Arrowmont and later on CraftHaus. She's a wonderful fabricator who uses handmade paper and sterling silver in her work.

I'll see you all on Wednesday with a full report. In the meantime, Have a creative weekend.

Monday, February 20, 2012

First Four a Month - Check!

I've taken lots of classes. Most of the time I never actually complete the proposed project, but I absorb skills and techniques from each teacher I meet. I also 'take classes' during my day to day activities by practicing what I call 'Mindful Observation'. While looking through books, surfing the web, and handling work in galleries, I look at construction details and try to see if I could recreate a setting, clasp, or other working element. I don't think that appropriating the mechanics of a design is the same as copying or usurping another artist's voice.

Joanna Gollberg, 'Reds to Yellow' Brooch.
I recently made four brooches for an online personal challenge by adapting a prong design that I first admired in Joanna Gollberg's work. I tried to replicate her technique in a ring I made last year for Ring A Day. But it felt too similar to what she is known for, so I decided not to make it again. I've since seen other artist's use the same design - there's nothing new in the world - but I'm still not comfortable using it in exactly the same way that Joanna does.

My attempt at Joanna's setting technique
This year I decided to adapt the design to marry a metal clay element to a hand made porcelain shard for my first entry to the Four-a-Month challenge. To make each setting, I first bent 20 gauge wire into a loop that would support the porcelain shard. Then I soldered prongs to capture and hold the shard in place - some horizontally, and some upright. I was able to solder them together using a butane torch, but I have to say - as simple as it looked to me at first, completing so many joins at once is not an easy task. I'd get three finished and move the flame to the fourth - only to have the first lose the connection! These settings were a study in patience for sure. But I really liked doing them and was much better by the fourth brooch. I'll definitely use this technique again.

Brooch skeletons
After I made the backings I soldered a metal clay piece to each setting, a 'scatter' pin to two, a fine silver tube to the others, patinated them, and set the porcelain bits. Then I inserted steel wire into the two tube sections to make double pin stems. I'm really thrilled with this design and can't wait to expand on it. I'd love to make a multi piece neck collar, earrings and perhaps even a bracelet to fill out the series.

I'm really excited to be teaching the texturing technique I used on the metal clay elements for Craftcast on March 12! Hope to see some of you online in 'Learn to Stencil Using Metal Clay'.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Know Thyself!

A week ago Sunday I taught a live version of 'Crafting Your Artistic Voice' for members of my local metal clay guild. I've been working on a draft of a long conceived e-book for almost a year and with only one exercise yet to develop, I wanted to find out how other people would interpret my ideas and use them to re-imagine their personal jewelry making styles.

Without a point of view, people don't know what they're coming to you for! Joe Zee

Crafting Your Artistic Voice uses collage techniques, writing exercises and personal challenges to help a maker gain focus into their own intentions, develop a signature look, and feel confident in their own artistic identity.

We had the most amazing day of talk, fun, arts and crafts, insight, Aha! moments, and exciting creative discoveries. I'm so grateful for and humbled by all the lovely, supportive, comments that my friends made.  They gave it such a good review at our meeting this past Sunday that I'm going to offer an encore to members who weren't able to tear themselves away from the Superbowl to attend the first class. After that fabulous experience I'm really excited to finish the text, gather images, format a downloadable PDF and put it online so I can share it with all of you!

Here's just a tiny smidgeon of one of the exercises from Chapter Two - 'More Than Words'. Make a list of words that define your interests, inspirational imagery, and working methodology. Enter them into this program, print it out and paste it on your wall to use as inspiration when you come up with new designs for your work.