Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jewelry Designing in Progress

Here's a glimpse of my jewelry design table. In days gone by we dined at this table. All my components and beads are in labeled bags. The majority are stored in plastic trays by color families in a cabinet to the right. The small drawers to the back of the table were purchased at Lowes and I store basic components in them. While working on a project, I pull out several bags until I find the "right" combination. Once the design is complete, I record all parts used on an index card - just like a recipe. Each item is tagged and given an inventory number which is also recorded on the index card. Sometimes I ***sigh*** at all this record keeping, but it has worked very well for me.
I'm working on a necklace that started with a set of lampwork glass beads from Johanna of Canyon Echoes. I love her beads. I decided to only use the focal bead from the set for the necklace. The smaller beads will probably go into a bracelet and earrings that will coordinate. I'm using Australian Jasper, Iron Tiger Eye and Hill Tribe silver so far. Check back later for the completed design.

Frosty Mugs

I finally sat at the jewelry design board long enough to get a necklace and earrings made earlier this week. This necklace started with a set of lampwork glass beads I found at a bead show in Des Moines last spring and they were made by Tanya McGuire. It's great meeting the artists who make lampworked beads. I admire their skill and ability to work with fire.
This set was etched for a soft look. Each bead has a swirl of silvered ivory. While designing the necklace, the lampwork beads made me think of root beer floats, creme soda, and dark ale - so that's how I came up with the name "FROSTY MUGS". Some designers name all their pieces, but not me. I guess I could work at it more.
Sometimes I labor for hours over a design before the final stringing, but this one came together relatively quickly. I needed that encouragement while getting ready for Nevada Uncorked on Oct. 6th. I used freshwater pearls, Czech glass, Swarovski crystals and sterling silver to complete the design. I made a couple pair of earrings to coordinate and have more beads that would work for others, but it was time to work on another necklace.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Poppy Jasper & the Petrified Forest

Photography - I've been playing with different backgrounds behind my jewelry so my Etsy listings would have more color. "What if?" could be my motto. I paired a photo from the Petrified Forest with a Poppy Jasper necklace and was pleased with the results which you can see by clicking on my Etsy store to the right. Today's picture is what is behind the necklace. It's AMAZING to see all those colors in the petrified logs. Magnificent!

I still have problems to work out with my photo set-up. I'm getting a lot of hot spots on the polished stones. But I can't complain much, because my set-up was very inexpensive as compared to the commercial products available. It was fun brainstorming with hubby at Lowes & Hobby Lobby for what we could use to build it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Petrified Forest

A friend emailed me plains/badlands photos that reminded me of the vast, wild spaces of Arizona's Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. Hubby & I were there in late May 2006, 24 years after our first time there. I LOVE this place. It's so different from the lush, moist, green of the Midwest. The soil is chalky white, purple, green, red, tan, and black. Simply amazing! We marvel at the imagination and diversity of God's creation. Photos just don't capture the atmosphere and mood of the place, but I've posted one anyway.
I have a set of Daniel Smith watercolors that are made from genuine earth pigments such as Lapis Lazuli, Minnesota Pipestone, Amazonite, Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, and Hematite. I use some of these same stone as beads in my jewelry. I found that many of these paints were perfect for rendering the Western landscape. So far, I've just played with some ideas, but hope to do a more detailed painting in the future.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More Sunflowers - New Etsy Listing

Here's a peek at one of my summer projects. I handpainted this tote bag with Setacolor paints and embellished it with beads, ribbons, crystals and sequins. I've just listed it on Etsy. Hubby noticed that I paint and sketch a lot of sunflowers. I just love them. But I do paint other flowers. I was inspired by a hummingbird and Siberian irises for another tote I painted. It's currently on display in my friend's store - The Prairie Fiber Company - on Main St. in Ames. There's a link to Kimberly's blog on my side bar.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Sunflower Pie

For many years, my primary painting medium was water colors. Last Fall I decided I'd like to explore working with acrylics. I wanted to play with texture and have more freedom to revise a work in progress. "Sunflower Pie" was one of my first works on gallery stretched canvas. I based it on a doodle I worked in Sharpie marker & watercolor. I love the way sunflowers make me feel when I see them. The colors are so happy and the centers get my imagination going. I was working on the finishing touches of the painting when I realized the area between the petals and the center reminded me of a crimped pie crust - and there you have it - "Sunflower Pie".

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Lucky Ducks

This summer I met a wonderful artist, Brandie Isley, whose business is called "Little Pieces of Art". Check out her blog which is linked on my side bar. When I saw her art, I finally understood the attraction to collage art using vintage ephemera. Brandie has a gift for this style.

I was inspired to put together my own version to give my very dear friend, Jutta. She would often say, "We're such Lucky Ducks."

I started by selecting a digital image of Jutta and me. Using Photoshop Elements, I removed the background and color to end up with a gray scale image. After printing the image with a laser printer on regular paper, I coated the image with Liquitex Matte Medium. Once the acrylic medium was thoroughly dry, I wet the paper and carefully rubbed it off with the pad of my thumb. I was left with a transfer image. I repeated this process with print outs of text and music.

The art was placed on a gallery wrapped canvas. I started by layering thin glazes of acrylic paint. After deciding where to postition the transfers, I began painting the sunflowers. The transfers were applied with matte medium. Once these were dry, more layers of paint were added. Texture was added by using stamps, sponges and cheese cloth. I applied the same techniques to the wrapped edges of the piece. A fine art marker was used to add subtle details and my signature. I finished with a few layers of matte varnish.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Little Signs of Autumn

Never mind that temperatures are still in the 80's and 90's, the first signs of Autumn are out there. If you have allergies or hay fever, all you have to do is breathe to know the season.
What struck me was observing the sudden touches of golden yellow in the lush green soy bean fields. Now I know that every day the visual palette will change until the soy bean plants are shades of tan, brown and russett. Then comes the harvest. I know it's inevitable. "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven- A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted." Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
This is the imagery that helped me last November when Dad lay in a hospital bed, gravely ill. He was a farmer and his body showed all the signs that "harvest" was near. It helped me let go, Dad's time with us was nearly over. God was calling him Home. Now, when the seasons are changing, I'm thinking of Dad's last days in the hospital with my family.
I've been reminded that Dad influenced my interest and appreciation of nature. He shared his love for God and His creation with his children. Those are gifts I am very grateful for.

Today's pic is a group of pears I shot around this time last year. They're another sign of the changing seasons. One of these days they will be the subject of at least one painting.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Show Preparations

Tonight we ordered business cards, labels, postcards and note cards. I suppose I'll do it on my own one day, but it's great to have a techno savvy husband to make sure everything is formatted correctly.

I decided to try having some notecards printed with the image of one of my acrylic paintings. It's called Daffy-dil.