Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When Your Ho, Ho, Ho Leaves You Low, Low, Low...by Karen McGovern

This entry began as a simple post I made to the LMAJ admin Facebook page.  I was commiserating with my fellow LMAJ artists about how I had officially started “Holiday Head”.  You know—that thing that happens when the holidays arrive, and you start reminiscing about holidays past, people you can’t be with or can never see again, and you find yourself drooping into your eggnog, but not in a good way.  Holiday Head.

I was on the verge of a spiral into the dark the other day, but pulled myself out of it by standing up, hitting the studio, and making ONE THING.  One simple thing.  Not something I needed, not something new, just something that I knew I could complete from start to finish rather easily and would please me.  A simple bangle.  I beat it up with the hammer (no need to consult Freud on that one…), patina’d it, polished it and then sat and looked at it.  Then I gave it away.  It was IMMENSELY SATISFYING and pulled me out of my funk.  I’m sure it had everything to do with taking control, accomplishment, moving my mind off sadness and into creativity and giving.  WHATEVER, IT WORKED.

This bangle is so simple, yet really lovely.  16 gauge copper wire wrapped
four times around a steel bracelet mandrel.  The ends are soldered using
sterling silver easy solder paste, and I also soldered the wires together at
midpoint or more stability and structure.  Hammered, liver of sulfur patina,
polished with a polishing cloth to bring out the highlights then
sprayed with two coats of clear gloss Permalac metal sealer.

I believe artists “feel” more than others may.  I think that’s how we tap into whatever creative mojo we have.  We are emotional beings that not only respond to beauty, but want to create it and give it to others.  So do that.  Giving something away when you are feeling depressed can really, really lift you up.  I wish more folks would realize this and do it.

Holidays are rough on just about everybody.  On the one hand you are surrounded by hyper-happy imagery and expectation, on the other, you may not be able to fulfill what may seem like holiday OBLIGATION to be Super-Elf or whatever.  Especially if you are alone, or without your loved ones near.  You can easily find yourself hopping a candy-cane festooned train to DepressionVille.
For the next couple of posts we would like to hear from you—artist or not—about what you do to help creatively life yourself up when feeling low during the holidays.  Please share—you may be offering a perfect piece of advice or have the perfect idea that can help someone else who may be struggling to stay “up” during this time of year.

AND, for those of you with holiday show on the schedule, make them as fun as you can. Wear a stupid hat (I totally believe in the restorative powers of a stupid hat....).  Give away mistletoe or pine sprigs.  Use humor--it is a superpower.  I just finished a holiday gift show held in a cool converted barn/studio.  Made a display box for my work from a wooden crate I got on sale at Joann's.  Beat it up with a chain and a hammer, stained it, stamped it, and used rusty cup hooks to hang necklaces.  Simple, I know, but man do I like it and I MADE IT MYSELF.  The show was lovely and I sold enough to be able to donate over $200.00 to the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation for Ninita's toothbrush fund.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, click the links...please.  I guarantee you will feel better!

Thanks in advance….I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, comfy elastic waist pants and a spectacular food coma. Now, GO MAKE SOMETHING!!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

how did you get to here?

mary jane dodd

small offering bowl - mjd 2014

first of all, i would like to wish that you all be safe. there are parts of the country where changes in weather threaten your safety and we are thinking of you. 

a friend and i were speaking the other day about things that really impacted us as we were trying to find and define our voices as makers of adornment. 

three books came out in 2008 - and they blew our minds. i remember falling asleep with one of them or another on my stomach. semiprecious salvage by stephanie leea charming exchange by ruth rae and kelly snelling and making connections by susan lenart kazmer

grungy and tattered? yes, please. providing fascinating, interesting ways of designing and solid techniques, these women inspired so many of us. 

it takes years to pick and choose techniques and materials, to find what works for you. i had many 'awkward' designs - where my inspirations didn't quite come together as harmoniously as i wished. but i learned. 

i think one of the reasons i thought back to this was staci's post on chain. these books taught us how to make chain in addition to so many other things. i think they are definitely worth a revisit. 

the gift of time and experience is that you build up an arsenal that you cannot even necessarily catalog. over the past 6 months or so, i have had a project in mind. i want to make pieces that can help a person create small sacred spaces in their home (or work or wherever). places to stop, take a breath, get centered. a place to do whatever makes you whole. 

one of the items is a small offering bowl - because i understand copper i was able to move to a slightly larger scale in my shaping. and i ended up forming a base with copper pipe and plumber's solder. something i learned years ago from these books but hadn't used in a very long time. 

are there any books or teachers that created such fireworks in your mind that you were overcome with ideas and couldn't even work because you didn't know where to start? 

let us know!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Getting over the Big Hump

By MaryAnn Carroll

This year I started to direct my creative energy into another part of my life. We built our house eight years ago and moved in when there was still so much work to do. Both Bill and I worked as teachers at the time and we each came with one teenager in tow. They were our youngest from our previous marriages. Together we have six.

Needless to say, what you want to have happen and what really does happen are two totally different things. What did happen in terms of designing our interior to fit our style was pretty much


This summer, during my break, I was hell bent on painting and remodeling. It was time to start weeding out the old so that I could bring in some new old.... We (I) were on our way to becoming a little obsessed with antique shopping, which lead to an auction addiction. I discovered through this process that my addictive personality can cross over to other areas at any given time. I tend to get a little obsessive until that energy or money (whichever happens first) wears out.

We are on home stretch with this project. Next summer, we are going to work on our gallary that will be in our downstairs, which currently serves as a very large storage unit!!!

One of the last things for this year's project is that we will be adding a custom country pine table that my very talented (now retired) husband Bill is building.  It should be ready to start the urethane process before Thanksgiving gets here. Here it is upside down in our living room (try not to focus on the dog hair that has been neglected). The wood looks a little rough on the underside because it is old pine that Bill was able to gather. We had to put the rougher side down to have, what I think, is very cool pine on the top. I hope to have pictures to share when it is all done.

While this project is nearing its end, we are also preparing for a show that starts today!!!  So, last night, the table sat while we got prepared. Hopefully, our older unpredictable dog Buddy does not think that we just offered him for new posts to relieve himself on while we are gone. Throughout the week I have been working on a few things. I have wanted to make dangle earrings with ear posts for a long time. I just have not been able to make what is available on the market work with my style. At one of the auctions I went to they were auctioning off metal cutters. I won the bidding war.... yup..... the addictive personality with a credit card in hand. In retrospect, I wish I would have gotten more than the ones that I did get. This particular pair cuts triangular notches. While getting back into creating the little stuff again, I finally came up with ear posts that work with my style.

I also came up with some new styles for bangles while I was practicing my soldering skills. Soldering is a technique that I am not sure I will ever perfect, but the challenge is something that keeps me wanting to try it again and again and again.....

That is pretty much it for now. I have been going non-stop. Hopefully, once the table is all set and the house is cleaned and back in order, I will just work on creating small again. Bill just built a small gas/wood kiln out by our large wood kiln that I will write about next week. 

Wish me luck at the show!


Oh.... my current kitchen table..... a mix of everything that is going on..... pieces of wood that need practice stains before I stain the new table, a sander that I wore out refinishing furniture that just needed to have a new velcro sticky thing added, paint stirrers for all 20 different paint samples that I bought.... and, finally... jewelry on the far end.

Do you ever get like this? 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

There are No Afterthoughts in Good JewelryDesign !

by Staci Louise Smith

Those of us who make jewelry, especially those of us who use beads and gems, I know we can get caught up in the fun of the BEADS!  The colors, the textures, the flow- GAH!

For me, that is absolutely my favorite part.  Designing the layout of a piece and fondling, I mean, playing with, I mean, laying out the beads is where I would like to stop sometimes.

But we can't.  We cannot spend all that time, all that energy creating a wonderful piece, and then throw it on some cheap, un-attractive chain.  Chain, cannot, and should not, be an afterthought.

Now, this rule can apply to clasps too, as well as many other things.  Today, we discuss chain.

I am a stickler about chain in jewelry.  I think the right chain can either make or break a piece.  I think it has to be the right thickness or daintiness to accentuate your piece just so.  I also think, that once you find some chains you LOVE, they will not become an afterthought, but you will find joy in using them in your work, all most as much as the beads.

One artist whom always has fun new chains is Lorelei Eurto.  She uses chain as part of her designs almost all the time.

Here is one of her latest designs featuring a few different chains to keep it interesting!


I also LOVE the choice of rosary chain that our own Karen McGovern used to create these awesome sugar skulls.  This was definitely part of the plan for her piece.

Of course, if you are into a lot of work and torture (I kid....sort of) you can make your own chain.  It is really the best way to be sure it compliments your work, but it takes time, and tools and patience.  Here is one that I made (I didn't make too many 'cause I know the torture of it....lol)  

Another person who has made awesome chain to accentuate her work is Nikki Z. of Love Root.

Here is a gorgeous all chain necklace (that I heard she is keeping for herself- and trust me, when you have made chain, and you can't charge a million $$$ for it, you want to keep it!)  

And here is that same design of chain used to accentuate a piece made with her own handmade beads!  See?  The chain can really make a piece!!!  Don't skimp on it!

Now, not everyone has the set up (or desire) to make their own chain.  So we are forced to shop for it.  So, what do you look for?

One thing to consider when picking out chain, is how sturdy it is.  I have had too many chains that could be pulled apart by hand- and to me, that is just not acceptable.

Sometimes I prefer my chain to be soldered links, but at times, if it is REALLY strong and well made, I like the open links.  
My favorite place for open link chain is www.rings-things.com.

I use their more substantial chains, since my designs are substantial.  At first I was hesitant to try them, because they are open links, and in the past, these have come apart too easily.  I have not found this to be the case here- AT ALL.  I have to open them deliberately for them to come apart.  Why I like this???  Well, I can attach things by opening the links like jump rings- I can adjust the length of things the same way too.  I can even use the links themselves as jump rings!  Plus, their antique brass chains are plated over brass, so, I like the fact it is not some mystery base metal underneath.

Now- for my fanciest stuff i like to use a solid brass chain, and I cannot say enough good things about www.rishashay.com 

Not only do they have handmade solid brass chain, but the chain is as simple or as fancy as you can get!  If you have a design, they have a chain to match it!




I hope you will embrace and enjoy creating your pieces from start to finish.  And if chain is not what is right for your piece, then by all means, use leather, or fabric, or whatever it needs.  Just make sure its a deliberate thought.  After all, you put all that time and effort into a piece, make sure its wrapped up in a manner that will only make it more amazing!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...