Thursday, July 21, 2016

Studio Clean: Digging in the depths

by Staci Louise Smith

I know I post about "cleaning up my studio" often.  It is usually after a show, when I leave for the show with all the stuff I worked on a mess and then come home from the show and dump even more stuff in the studio.
(like this picture shows)

Once a year, or every other year, I try to do a deep clean.  It is usually around the time I am switching gears, from jewelry to mass bead making (for Bead Fest).  

This week was the week for 2016.  I am out of time and need to start making beads, and I couldn't move in there, at all!  Especially since I added in prints and bags.  More stuff to store, and less space then ever in the studio!

Thankfully, earlier this year my husband had a dumpster for a job, and we cleaned out the basement while we had it.  We got rid of all the baby stuff I was holding onto from the kids.  We donated boxes and boxes and boxes of clothes.  

It cleared space on shelves down there that allowed me to store things all together, in an organized manner.  So, teaching stuff can be down there when I don't need it.  Show stuff and displays can be down there, ect ect ect.  It is so nice, I cannot even tell you!!!

I finally finished cleaning out things that I don't use often and moving them the basement.  I have gathered a HUGE bin of things to get rid of and destash too.  It clean so much space, allowing me to organize.  

Here are some shots of the studio in process of cleaning

YES- I did store my polymer clay in the boxes it comes in under my desk.  My feet don't need to be on the floor anyhow!!!!

Now it is all in drawers in this great little dresser thing I got for $6 at the thrift store.  It all fits perfectly!!!!!

It is right next to my desk so I can reach it easily!!!

Here is part of my workbench, halfway through clean up

I also scored this great pine shelf thing at the thrift store.  It is perfect to raise up my solder station and store the tools I use underneath!!!

I had paints in a few different bins, and couldn't see them.  Therefore, I never used all the colors.  So I chucked the old dried up paints, and sorted them and put them all on the shelf where I can see them easily and grab what I want.

I think the stress of a deep clean up is, not just getting rid of stuff you don't need, but organizing it in a way that it works best for you.  so you have to figure what you use most, where you want to grab it from, ect.  I did a lot of little moves of items, organizing hand tools, grouping all polymer clay stuff on one shelf, metal clay on another, ect.....It was a lot of work!!!!

Now, the studio is set up in a way that I can move around, and reach most things without having to move other things.  

I LOVE IT.  It also allows me to have room to set up some shelves to allow beads to dry when I start producing them in droves this weekend.

Here is a video tour of my studio now, all cleaned up.  It's a small room, so I tried to get it all in the video, I hope the up and down and around and back and forth don't make you too dizzy!!!


Now that this is done, I will be into the bead making zone pretty intensely.  I also have to prep for the class I am teaching at Bead Fest.  You can sign up here .  There are still spaces abvailble.  It is a really fun class, and you will go home with a finished piece.  I am always impressed with how everyone take these sort of projects and goes home with a piece that has their own signature spin on it!  We have a GREAT time!

Even if you don't take my class, if you make it to BeadFest, come and see me!  I am in Artisan Alley in the back corner with Diane Hawkey, Marsha Neal and Nikki Thornburg.  It is crazy fun and full of wonderful and wacky art beads!  I hope to see you there!!!  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Guilty GiveAWAY!! By Karen McGovern

Well, hello there! It's been quite a while since I blogged here...been up to my eyeballs in LIFE. You know, that pesky thing that gets in the way of EVERYTHING?!? As many of you know, my husband and I run a wildlife conservation center focusing on tropical endangered species, (RSCF). Spring and summer = BABY SEASON here and I have had my hands full hand-rearing endangered sparrows and parrots, not to mention caring for our 40 acres of primates, antelope and other avian species. 

From left to right, top row mountain bongo antelope, baby red-browed Amazon parrots.
Next row Florida grasshopper sparrow chicks, Ninita, the Queen of pygmy marmosets.

It's been BUSY and I'm EXHAUSTED. So, forgive my absence, but my guilt is your gain because I to win your favor again I am going to GIVE AWAY a super-cool cuff while offering a quick tutorial on how I made it. 

I have recently begun experimenting with alcohol inks on metal. I've seen many beautiful designs created this way and wanted to give it a go. Aluminum is one of my favorite materials to work with for cuffs. It's hypoallergenic and very easy and forgiving to work with. Forms easily because it's so soft, but hardens up nicely as you work with it, shines up beautifully and will never tarnish (plus WAY CHEAPER THAN SILVER). Yesterday I stole a few minutes to head to the studio to play and this is what I came up with. 

I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type artist. By that I mean I have little time to spare, am impatient and always looking for products and methods that yield quick results. I also do not "plan" a design per se...I sit down and kind of go for it. I love "accidental" designs, and this cuff is an example of that. 

Alcohol inks are a blast to work with, providing Immediate, INTENSE colors that work well on many metals, aluminum included. I got mine at Michaels, but you can find them at just about any arts and crafts store and a million places online. GOOGLE IT.

First, I covered my work space with paper because alcohol inks STAIN FOREVER. Bear that in mind regarding what you are wearing as well (sigh...goodbye favorite T shirt....). If you are fussy about your hands/nails wear rubber gloves or something. 

Prep your metal. I texture all my cuffs by hammering the length of metal on a paving stone I have in my studio. I love organic textures on metal. You can leave it smooth if you want, but texturing gives the inks cool fissures and marks to fill and run--I like that. Next, clean the metal. I gave the cuff a quick scrub in the sink using Dawn and water. Dry thoroughly, try not to touch the surface too much with your fingers (but alcohol inks are pretty forgiving too--I've had good results on metal I totally forgot to wash). I use 6 inch lengths for cuffs and get my aluminum on Etsy. Just search "aluminum cuff blanks". For this cuff I trimmed the metal to give a tapered effect--slightly wider at one end than the other, about 2 inches wide at the widest end. 

Lay it flat on your surface and--well--splash some ink on it! I have cotton swabs, paper towel and a small paint brush handy to work the inks around as well. Mostly I drip on some ink (the bottles have a nice dropper tip), tilt the metal and let the ink flow and drip. At one point I didn't like what I saw and while the ink was wet I wiped the entire piece of metal from one end to the other with a paper towel to see what happened. It made a BEAUTIFUL base coat of pale color! Surprise! I then began dripping and swirling again. Once I got the look I wanted I let the cuff dry fully in the sun for about an hour or so, Next I bent the cuff into shape with my handy bracelet bender, adjusted by hand to fit, then sealed the metal with 4 coats of spray PermaLac clear coat for metal, letting the cuff dry between coats. THE END.

This is not my image, I lifted it from Jewelry Making Daily. It is the exact bracelet bender I use. I clamp mine in a vise.

In creating the cuff I had to clean up drips and drabs that got on the back and edges and found the inks really hold up well and do not come off easily. I used a sanding sponge to get the drips off and had to rub pretty hard. After sealing, the colors remain true and bright and really hold up well. I will definitely be playing around more with this technique!!

Sooo, all you have to do to WIN THIS CUFF is comment here with your favorite summer vacation memory. I will add all your names to a random name generator and the winner will be announced NEXT TUESDAY (July 26th). My favorite summer vacation memory is visiting St. Augustine beach with my husband and watching him play in a tide pool like a 6 year-old. BEST. DAY. EVER. Now, your turn!

If you also use alcohol inks in your designs, share an image of your work! In the meantime, I hope you all are enjoying a fantastic summer. Now, GO MAKE SOMETHING AMAZING! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Beading Introduction: Leslie Pope of Twisted Sistah Beads

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Leslie Pope or as I am now known - Twisted Sistah Beads.

While recuperating from surgery in 2001, I was introduced to beading by a good friend. To say that I feel passionately in love with beading would be an understatement. So in the Spring of 2002 I started my traveling and web-based business, and I have not looked back since.

I just love beads ... lamp work, ceramic, polymer, stone ... you name it. But my true passion is for seed beads. I can't seem to get enough of them ... all the different sizes, shapes, and finishes ... oh my!

Collage of half Tilas, Tri beads, lily petals, O beads, and honeycomb beads.

I am very flattered and excited to be a guest blogger on Love My Art Jewelry.  I hope my future posts on "all things seed beady" as my good friend Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio joking calls my endeavors will be informative as well as inspiring.
My "Peaks and Valleys" Bracelet

Until next time ... Happy Beading!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hand Pulled Prints

by Staci Louise Smith

I am really enjoying a little side track from the beads and jewelry.  I have been making linocut prints, and even doing some printing on bags and purses that I hand dyed.  It is a really fun process.  

I have always found the carving very zen.  And I keep learning more and more about how to block my color to make a bold and clean print (black and white, and the correct balance is key).

What I did not expect, was to LOVE pulling prints.  There is a great rhythm when you ink up a block, press on your paper, pull it off and hang it.  Then, do it again.  I love seeing the prints on different papers and various colors. (seeing them all hanging makes me happy, reminds me of prayer flags!) 

Hand pulled prints refers to any print that is replicated by hand, whether it is block printed, silk screened or otherwise.  It means it is NOT printed from a machine.  I thought I would take you through the process I used as I pulled prints over the weekend.

First, I inked up my block using block printing ink.  I use a soft roller, I have found I like them MUCH better then some of the others.  

I ink it in both directions side to side and then back and forth up and down.  I got into a great rhythm doing this and found myself happily going along in an inking pattern.

Then I move the block to where I am printing.  I don't ink where I print, because I am messy, and I don't want the edges of the paper to touch the ink on the table.

Lay paper on top and press.  

You can use your hand, or a barren.  I use both.  I really like this thin Mulberry Paper, not only can I see when the print comes through, it is earthy, and soft and has inclusions in it.  

Then "pull" (which is where the term comes from).  

I love to watch the mirror image as I slowly pull it off the block

Never gets old.

Then, I hang them or lay them out to dry.

That is it, hand pulling prints.  

Now, since I don't have anything fancy made to center my prints on my paper, I then have to go and trim them before they get signed and dated and framed or put into bags for sale.

I hope you enjoyed a little side trip with me, away from jewelry and beads.  I know I always enjoy learning a little something new about a different art form.
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