Showing Up and Playing By Catherine Davies Paetz

JustShowUp_ChristinaRosalie1The other day I was at Trader Joe’s, checking out with my bags in hand. The cashier asked if I wanted to enter a drawing to win a gift card–a “reward” for bringing my own bags (as if saving our planet isn’t reward enough, but that’s another story). I almost said no, because I fill out a ticket every time and I haven’t won yet. But then I thought about the saying, “You can’t win if you don’t play,” which I often use to encourage people who ask about entering a show or submitting work to a book or event. So I filled out the ticket again.

That experience got me thinking more about entering, submitting, and the whole jury process for artists. Woody Allen said, “80% of success is showing up.” I think that goes hand in hand with “You can’t win if you don’t play.” Many people don’t even try to submit work because they don’t think their work will be accepted, or they fear rejection. But in order to have any chance of being accepted, you have to show up and play. Continue reading…

With These Hands by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

 

I make jewellery.  No wait.  I MAKE jewellery.  workingThese days my hands are never clean looking. Normally I don’t really care what my hands and nails look like. But recently while out to dinner with some friends I felt like the “one of these things doesn’t belong.”  Each of my friends had such nice nails.  Nicely painted nails, clean hands.  We were sharing sushi so I felt the need to announce that my hands were in fact “clean”.   As I said the words, I realized that I wasn’t ashamed.  The public announcement was to put the other diners at ease.  I am actually very proud of my raggedy nails and the permanent black stains.  To me it is a sign that I am working in my studio.  I am making jewellery. Continue reading…

Artist Profile: Michela Verani by Julia Rai

I’ve known award winning artist Michela Verani for a while now, having first met her at a metal clay conference in the US. She and I share a love of sci-fi and we are also both participating in the metal clay Masters Registry programme so we have lots in common.Verani - Phoenix full necklace

Visitor to the studio1Michela lives in Londonderry, New Hampshire with her furry friends, a dog called Tolliver and a cat called Yang. “Tolliver is a Bouvier des Flandres and Yang is a dumpster kitty,” she explains. “My home is at the end of a dead end dirt road and is surrounded by hundreds of acres of woods and my messy gardens.  Whenever I am at home Tollie and I take a daily walk in the woods.” Continue reading…

Metal Clay 101: Where to Begin: Choosing Your First Metal Clay By Dona Miller

101 montana-agate-pendant-Dona-Miller-DesignsWorking in a new medium can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. As anew metal clay artist, your first question may very well be “Where should I start?” There are many varieties of metal clays to choose from and where you start your journey can have an enormous impact on where it leads.

Looking metal prices, one would think that base metal clays would be the best way to get started in metal clay. However, the firing of base metals is complex and often takes trial and error to get it right. In addition, base metal clays must be fired in carbon in a kiln.

So which metal clay should you choose to start? I start my students with PMC3.

101 Donna 1PMC3 is a fine silver clay (.999 silver). True, fine silver PMC3 is more expensive than base metal clays. But the ease of working with and firing fine silver clay makes it a much better choice for beginners. From start to finish, PMC3 is the least complicated of all of the metal clays, which means that students can focus on the basics of construction, firing, and finishing without having to worry about complications created by the clay itself. Once you have those basic skills under your belt, there is an entire universe of textures and colors available to the metal clay artist.

101 mountain-night-sky-custom-silver-ring-Dona-Miller-DesignsWith all metal clays, getting the basic texture and forming in place before the clay starts drying is key. Make sure your clay is sealed in an air-tight container when not being worked, and don’t hold the clay in your hands when you are not shaping it as your skin will pull moisture out of the clay.

Most important is to stay relaxed, have fun and experiment.

Still wondering about the other varieties of PMC clay? Here is a quick summary:
PMC3 – great for beginners; can be fired with a torch; low firing temperature allows for inclusion of findings, glass, and fire-able stones.
PMC3 paste – good for joining pieces; can be used for adding texture and painted designs; can be used with PMC3, PMC+, PMC Flex, and PMC Sterling.
PMC3 syringe – good for making repairs and filling grooves; can be used for drawing, building up forms and setting stones; can be used with PMC3, PMC+, PMC Flex, and PMC Sterling.
PMC Flex – designed to stay flexible when dry; good for bending, twisting and braiding; low firing schedule and can be fired with a torch.
PMC+ Sheet – flexible and does not stick to itself; great for origami, folding and weaving; can be laminated and used with paper punches.
PMC Sterling – great for added strength and shine, must be kiln-fired in carbon
PMC Gold – great for accents; low firing temperature; can be fired alongside silver PMC and can be torch fired.

dona-n-logan-5Dona Miller: “Art, especially jewelry, is very personal.  Through the constant inspiration of nature, animals and my dogs, I interpret the spirit around me into jewelry, using my love of stones and shaping metal.  My designs and metal work incorporate the use of cut and natural stones to reflect the peace, love and joy of nature.”

Jewelry in article by Dona Miller.

“Metal Clay 101” is an ongoing series brought to you by PMC Connection and their instructors.

The Bird Who Won’t Go Away by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

 

P1230866In my opinion there are energies and forces all around.  To declare that we are separate from nature or that spirits don’t exist is to close yourself off from the wonderful vibrations of life all around.  A few years ago I learned about “spirit animals” from a jewellery artist.  I thought it was a fascinating idea.  I didn’t discount it, but I really didn’t understand it either.

Well that was until I started to have a bird follow me around for the past year.  My new friend is a great blue heron.  I started to see one every day last spring.  And in some form or another…I see a heron nearly every day.  When the first heron showed up, I was still mourning the loss of the magazine my husband and I published.  I missed the daily contact with editors, writers and contributing artists. After spending six years working on a business that was lost, not due to any errors I made, I was devastated.  The carpet was literally pulled out from under me.  I feared for our house, our finances and my family.  Our readers rallied and through contests and fundraisers they helped us recover most of our personal loss.  They saved our family. I started this site (Creative Fire) as a way to say thank you back to our community.  But I was lost.

heron logo stamp I used to be an artist.  With two little kids and the magazine, my studio was neglected.  Even without the magazine I found it really hard to get back into my studio and to get back to work.  Stresses and distractions crept into my life and making jewellery became less important.  To help me get out of this rut, a dear artist friend invited me to visit.  After making jewellery with her and enjoying some wonderful sunsets on her front deck–I declared out loud one evening that I would make jewellery.  I knew it was a long shot to make a living at art.  I had been there before.  But I was in love with the etching process she had taught me.  Ideas buzzed in my head.  I couldn’t wait to take some of my children’s drawings and to etch them into jewellery.  “Maybe that would be my new line.  Maybe I’d get back into my studio and work.”  Just then a huge heron flew inches from us making the most awful heron croaking sound.  Every day for months I saw a heron.  It didn’t matter what town or even what country I was in…I saw a heron.  Even in winter I’d see a a heron on bumper sticker or a photo online or in a magazine…every few days I’d see a heron.  Usually just when I ready to fall off the path to starting up my studio again.  It was almost a reminder to keep going.  Out of curiosity I looked up spirit birds and learned that herons show up when your life if out of balance. They remind us to follow our heart and to be determined.

Well I’m determined!  My new line is called “Sassy and Stella”.  (If you would like the back story on why I named my studio after two stray dogs from Alabama, click here.) I have a long way to go and a lot to learn about running a full-time jewellery studio business, but I’m excited at the possibilities!

Are you curious about your spirit bird?  Here is a simple chart.

Photo Credit: Heron on a beach in Florida, USA by Sandy Bowman.
Heron drawing: Sea Martini

sassyAnother of my animal friends, Sassy the dog from Alabama.

P.S. Thank you Kathleen!

 

SPEAKING IN TONGUES by Jennifer Roberts with Scott Benton and Mark Roberts

 

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NO MATTER WHAT YOUR BUSINESS, at some point you will likely have to engage a professional to help you with something. Traditionally, this has meant accountants and lawyers for most. In the past ten years, we’ve added design and technical professionals who help us create websites, manage social media, and conduct e-commerce. Continue reading…

Backs, Bails and Beyond – Give your work the finish it deserves by JOY FUNNELL

MCAM 4.1_Page_22_Image_0002MCAM 4.1_Page_22_Image_0001Backs, Bails and Beyond Give your work the finish it deserves.

Have you ever noticed how often one of the first things people do when they pick up a piece of jewellery is to turn it over and look at the back? Why do they do that?

What are they looking for? I can’t tell you why, but I can tell you that if they find something lovely, their eyes light up and they are immediately engaged with the piece. If you put as much effort into the reverse of the piece as you do into the front then you are certain to get some lovely reactions. Continue reading…

THE NATURE OF CREATIVITY By Michael David Sturlin

brain-scanArtists and makers tend to talk a lot about creativity. It is good to think about this. Contemplation of creativity allows us to understand what we do. To really develop our studio practice and move our creative expression forward, examining the nature of creativity is worthwhile. So, let’s start with a question. What is creativity? Creativity is the transforma­tion of thought into action. It is awareness of the power of creative thought and ap­plication of creative energy through con­scious activity. Creativity itself is a process. That is the way creativity becomes expres­sion. Examining the nature of the creative process enhances our awareness of the true nature of creativity, and enables us to engage it and activate it more fully.

Creativity is a resource. This is my fa­vorite thing about it. It’s available to every­one. There is no cover charge or entry fee. It is the same cost to all of us. Creativity is free!
This brings us to our second question; What is the source of creativity? Creativity is endless and eternal. It doesn’t have a beginning or an end. Creativity is like water; it’s liquid and flowing. It’s like an ocean, constant and enormous. Just like an ocean, it is always there. Continue reading…

“METAL CLAY ARTISTS’ LIBRARY” Book Reviews By Pat Evans

51uTIxgH-YL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Sculptural Metal Clay Jewelry by Kate McKinnon Interweave, 2010

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore to pick up Kate McKinnon’s newest book. With its focus on a professional understanding of fine silver metal clay, a careful consideration of studio safety, and a thoughtful approach to jewelry construction, Sculptural Metal Clay Jewelry has something to offer nearly every student of metal clay. McKinnon has long been an advocate of building metal clay jewelry in ways that make the strongest jewelry possible. When I read her first, self-published book about metal clay, it changed the way I worked. In this book, the author continues to teach methods that are not always standard, but which should be in the repertoire of all serious metal clay artists.

The ten beautifully conceived and executed projects are merely a dessert to the main course of techniques, tips, and what McKinnon calls “elements”. These elements are the building blocks of the projects. Some, such as drawing a bead or making a toggle clasp, will be familiar to many jewelry artists. Other elements, such as those which suggest forging pieces after firing will interest even more advanced readers.

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Author and Artist Kate McKinnon

McKinnon has strong feelings about the best ways to work safely and professionally with metal clay, and she is always concerned with structural soundness. These themes run though the directions for all the elements and projects. McKinnon explains the reasons for her preferred methods which are based on her long study of metal clay and traditional metal work. In order to get the most from the book, it’s important to read through all the introductory information—don’t just skip to the projects. Fortunately, the writing is so personable that it is a joy to read.

As an added bonus, the book comes with a DVD of McKinnon demonstrating most of the book’s projects and basic information. The DVD is the next best thing to having a class with McKinnon in person, and it alone is practically worth the price of the book.

Kate’s book is available through the publisher: http://www.interweavestore.com/sculptural-metal-clay-jewelry

And through http://www.amazon.com/Sculptural-Metal-Clay-Jewelry-Mckinnon/dp/1596681748

To catch up with Kate McKinnon these days please visit: www.ContemporaryGeometricBeadwork.com

941577_4891675494684_2071299978_nPat Evans (a.k.a. The Tool Diva) keeps her hoard of jewelry making tools in San Jose, CA.  She is a Senior Art Clay instructor and holds PMCC Level III and Rio Rewards PMC Certifications.  Pat has been teaching about crafts and creativity to both children and adults for more than 20 years, and she loves to encourage students in finding and playing with their inner artists (generally along with a nice selection of tools.) You can find Pat online through her website: http://patevansdesigns.com/

Man Up! by Lora Hart

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Steven Tyler at the Dark Shadows Los Angeles Premiere, Chinese Theater, Hollywood, CA 05- 07-12 © Sbukley | Dreamstime.com

Jewelry has been an important element of male style since the first caveman threaded a seashell onto a length of sinew and tied it around his neck. Perceived as a status symbol, a show of wealth, an emblem of strength and power, or simply a decorative adornment, jewelry often defines a man’s character without a word being spoken.

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HENRY VIII IN FULL REGALIA. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ File: Henry_VIII_(5)_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger.jpg
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FOULAH TRIBAL JEWELRY & DRESS. Photo: public domain. http://www.allaboutgemstones. com/jewelry_history_primitive_ethnic_tribal.html

From the elaborately bejeweled majesty of Henry VIII to the subdued sophistication of Don Draper’s elegant watches to the menacing headdresses, ankle cuffs and breastplates of an African chieftain to Dave Navarro’s and Steven Tyler’s heavy metal jewelry, men embrace the gold, silver and gemmy goodness of ritualistic adornment just as fervently as their female counterparts.

Continue reading…