Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Twenty years ago today, our only child, Andrew, was born, and the world got a whole lot more wonderful. His prodigious gifts were apparent early on, and to this day we continue to marvel at the sweet equanimity with which he relates to the world. Happy Birthday, baby, and thank you for the best days of my life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

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Journal Pages

i don't get to do a lot of this kind of work, but am beginning to see how it can be so compelling for a lot of artists. i could do this kind of thing all day, and i think one reason good reason to avoid it is because it scares me to see how deeply focused i become and how many hours can fly by while i cut eyeballs from the New York Times Sunday magazine section and every other magazine and circular i can get my hands on. i hope the recycling people don't look too closely at our old magazines. they would get very, very scared.
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Monday, March 16, 2009

I am sooo glad I signed up for the Amulets and Talismans class with Robert Dancik that Alison Lee of Craftcast set up, sponsored by Whole Lotta Whimsey! Tonight's the last class and I'm sad already -- what an informative and generous instructor Robert is. The class format has been interesting too, with a ning group set up for the class members to share photos of their work and communicate about what they've learned. Cyberclasses are nothing new in the academic world, but in terms of an art class, this was my first experience and it worked out really well. Last Monday night, I was in the midst of working with a new realtor and keeping up with my son's comings and goings on his spring break home from college, so I was kind of distracted, but Alison graciously posts the recording of the class so we can catch up with anything we missed. I understand these recordings of all three classes will be available for sale sometime in the near future from the Craftcast website, and I recommend them to anyone who is interested in introducing narrative into their work.

The pieces I've created so far are not too different from my previous work, because I have never been able to get comfortable making work that is merely decorative. I want everything I make to call upon the power of the ancestors in some way, to evoke a feeling of spiritual blessing or protection in some way. Ancient-looking surfaces and the wabi-sabi look of wear and use have always compelled me much more than a highly-polished surface of sterling silver or gold, though the high degree of craftsmanship required to produce these surfaces is certainly worthy of the greatest respect. It's just not compelling to me personally in any kind of art, but specifically in jewelry, where I like to see evidence of the hand of the maker and to feel that there is a historic basis for the form.

In college, I majored in art history and minored in anthropology, and I have always been particularly interested in the material cultures of Asia and India. A few years ago I began to explore the idea that polymer clay could be manipulated to recreate the materials of the ancient amulets and talismans I found so fascinating. This interest escalated to an obsession after I made a strand of graduated amber beads following the color recipe in Polymer: The Chameleon Clay by Victoria Hughes. I had seen many examples of the real thing and had the opportunity to closely examine some in a friend's collection, and knew I would never be able to afford a strand of the real buttery gorgeous glowing real thing. The strand I made back then convinced me that polymer clay could be used to make a very convincing substitute, and I spent the better part of a year making jade, lapis, turquoise, and coral artifacts to populate my little museum of reproduction artifacts. With each successful reproduction, a little of my resistance to the idea that "it's only polymer clay" continued to fall. The techniques I had learned from books and developed on my own convinced me that polymer clay is nothing to apologize for and is a perfectly valid art material on its own. Soon an intense desire to add metal to the pieces drove me to learn basic silversmithing skills so I could set them in bezels. This particular Buddha is set in a fine silver and sterling bezel and represents the overcoming of my last reservation about this exciting medium which continues to challenge and stimulate me to this day.
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Friday, March 6, 2009

Wonderful video!!

Love it!!
A talisman for spring to come -- a Green Man kind of figure, except she's female -- some sort of nature goddess, definitely -- surrounded by hydrangea blue glass crystals with magically matte but iridescent charlotte seed beads. Sterling wire, silver-plated antiqued bead caps.

Well, that's a start. I'm having the darnedest time writing descriptions of my jewelry for etsy; so I'm practicing here. Photographing the etched items is way beyond the limits of both me and my camera, so that's another challenge, but I'm determined to keep learning about this camera, because I'm sure the "right" setting is in there somewhere. Perhaps if I shake it really hard like an old Eight Ball toy, I'll get the answer I'm hoping for! (like "You totally deserve a new digital SLR!")

I'm taking Robert Dancik's Amulets and Talismans teleclass sponsored by Alison Lee of Craftcast, and it's been totally worthwhile so far! Not only is his work very sophisticated -- I can't wait for his book to come out -- but he is also a really good teacher, and you can tell he wants his students to go forth and do great things on their own.

Speaking of photographing jewelry, Jen Kahn's blog post from a few months ago still continues to inspire and inform me -- not that I've found all the perfect settings on my camera yet, but thanks to her, I'm feeling less inclined to "accidentally" drop it down the nearest storm drain. And speaking of hydrangeas, we're thinking ahead to our June/July visit to Cape May, which has to be the hydrangea capital of the world. Something about the soil or the seaside weather conditions combine and conspire to promote the most spectacular heavenly blues, and if that color has the same effect on you as it does on me, well, you should definitely plan a visit to the southernmost tip of New Jersey, which also offers jaw-dropping Victorian architecture, great beaches and an astronomically high concentration of excellent dining options. Oh, and a great bookstore, too. Just about all my favorite things in one place!
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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

These etched earrings were really hard to photograph, and I just realized it took me longer to take the pictures than it did to make the earrings. Still, I could not resist adding the film grain, which seemed to suit their antique-lookingness. I'm listing them in my etsy shop this afternoon -- after I make another pot of tea.
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