Why I hate New Year’s Resolutions…

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I hate New Year’s Resolutions simply because there seems to be this mass need to redefine, redesign and analyze our errors in order to improve our lives. What if things are pretty good and we just want to carry on?

I feel that the driving force behind New Year’s resolutions is that you look for what is bad about yourself or your life, or maybe your art or studio. I get that. I worked really hard on totally cleaning out my studio last summer. My studio was not working for me, it was cluttered and full of stale ideas. But I had to forge ahead on it on my own terms, at my own time. New Year’s resolutions feels like a forced march to me. Continue reading…

Metal Clay Textures Are Everywhere You Look! By Margaret Schindel

TexturesOne of the key reasons for choosing metal clay as a jewelry making material is that it allows you to create or reproduce virtually any texture in metal quickly and easily.

What Can You Use to Add Texture to Metal Clay?

Although it sounds clichéd, you really are limited only by your imagination. There is a dizzying selection of commercial plastic, polymer or silicone texture mats and sheets, rubber stamps, texture rollers, molds, etc. that you can purchase to impress patterns in fresh clay. There also are many different ways to make your own one-of-a-kind texturing materials and tools. You can use water etching, carving, drilling, filing and metal clay appliqué on dried clay. After firing you can use traditional metal working techniques such as hammering to alter the topography of the metal’s surface. Continue reading…

STUDIO BUSINESS: Creative Sparks and Embers by Linda Stiles Smith

Creative Sparks – and Embers By Linda Stiles Smith

creative_sparks_cutie_mark_wip_by_aqwrao-d5ot53nWhat sparks your creativity? Do you need a bag of materials to play with? Do the sparks fly when you read the details of a challenge? Or can you launch into creative euphoria just at the mention of a word? Can you turn it on – and off – with little effort, or does it take a level of concentration that requires a block of time and a specific place? Does a visual cue sprout wings and become an artistic image in your mind? Continue reading…

Tips: Keeping Metal Clays Moist.

Whenever I teach a metal clay class I always see students carefully re-wrapping their metal clay and putting it back into the packaging. I hate to see fresh metal clay dry out so I show my students several ways to store metal clay. Here are a few of my favourites for keeping metal clay either lump or syringe types ready to use and in their optimal condition.

111831Long Term Storage
Clay: There are several ideas for long term storage. Some people like to use pressed powder containers with a wet sponge on top. Others have purchased different storage containers from metal clay sellers. I find the lotion sample containers from the make up counter to be cheap and plentiful. I like to have containers dedicated for one type of clay. Simply write the type of clay on the lid. A small piece of wet sponge can be added for really long term storage.
Syringes: I have a few containers that hold water and seal off the syringe. I like this one by Linda Stiles Smith which is sold by Rio Grande. Continue reading…

What’s in a name? My Struggle to Choose a Business Name.

name tagChoosing a name for my business has proven to be harder than it was to name my children!

I have had several businesses over my career as an artist. Each business name seemed to fit the business at the time, but now looking back some of the names seem lame. For example: I live in an old fashioned red schoolhouse—complete with a belfry. When we moved here I named my studio…. “The Schoolhouse Studio”. Yup. Wow eh? Okay it fit the location. When I started a magazine for Metal Clay artists it needed a name. I agonized over that name. Then I realized “Metal Clay Artist Magazine” fit…most of the time. Some newsstands insisted on putting the magazine in with Ceramics for the first few years and not in jewellery making section. Clearly there was room for improvement on the magazine name. When I had a brick and mortar bead store…the name was simple and clear. Guess what I named it…. wait for it… “The Bead Store”! Despite this clever name I still had people come in and ask what we sold. Ugh. Can’t win maybe? Continue reading…

A Lack of Focus

IMG_25051“A Lack of Focus” by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

“I’m not going to limit myself just because people won’t accept the fact that I can do something else.”― Dolly Parton

I love that quote. I started to think of it this week when a friend who was visiting my studio remarked that I have “so much going on” and that I should just pick one art media. ~Maybe. That does seem logical. Even the head of the ceramics department at the University of Regina would agree with my friend as he said the same thing to me 24 years ago. Well his words were harsher, “You’ll never have a career in the arts if you don’t focus.” I did focus. I focused on ceramics. Loved it. (Ended up as a potter for 15 years.) But I also enjoyed the painting classes and photography classes I took along with my major. Looking around my studio it seems I never was able to focus on one thing, to fit into one media. I have a painting easel, canvases, a sewing dress form, a potter’s wheel and kiln, a sewing machine, a grinder, sheets of glass, beads by the pound and a jewellery bench….

While I was a “potter” by definition, I enjoyed slab work which led me to take courses in architectural ceramics–and make fireplace mantles. I also loved raku and for many years was a “production raku potter”. But slowly jewellery eeked into my life. First I started to make raku fired beads. Then I learned new ways to string them and new ways to finish necklaces and brooches. Soon my pottery booth at shows was split between hand-built raku sculptures and raku jewellery.

Enter Metal Clay. After working with 50lbs of ceramic clay at a time, teeny tiny amounts of metal clay was an interesting change. Making my own findings and jewellery in metal clay to compliment my raku beads became my new passion. As many of my readers know I started and ran a magazine devoted to metal clay jewellery. I was an artist in search of such a resource and with none available, I started the magazine. Metal clay still holds my attention 7 years later, and I have a large part of my studio set up for making jewellery. I also have a few sewing machines and shelves of fabric in my studio. I merged the two studio spaces this summer during my “60 Day Studio Challenge”. This is what my friend was passing a comment about…How could I work on two such different things? Didn’t I need to focus? Her questions made me wonder, “Am I less of an artist due to this perceived lack of focus?”. For me one media seamlessly flows into another.

The artists I would like to question are those who make the same things…for decades. I know several potters from when I was a ceramics major…who are still using the same glazes and making the same forms. How is it possible not to go crazy doing that? I don’t see having a single focus as being an asset for an artist.

Continue reading…

Kilns: Fiber or Firebrick?

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Kilns: Fiber or Firebrick?
By John S. Hohenshelt

There has been much discussion regarding the differences between brick and fiber kilns in light of the introduction of bronze and copper clays into the marketplace. This article explains the differences in these two insulating materials for kilns in relation to the firing requirements of the different metal clays. Continue reading…

Photography: The Live Model By Marcia B.

 

_MG_8662_Retouched-3c_RGB[Editor’s Note: When we started to put models on the cover our readers noticed!  The first issue with a live model featured a beautiful cover photograph of Kathleen Nowak Tucci’s piece Unidinia on a live model. This eye-catching shot generated so much positive buzz in the forums and on Facebook, we decided to go in-depth for our readers and ask a photographer for her point of view on jewellery photography.]

Shooting fashion and beauty is a creative endeavor that entails exploration in order to attain a meaningful photographic expression.

When producing a shoot as a photographer/stylist, I start off with a concept. Along with the input of my creative team, I let the photo-shoot process take on a life of its own to see what can be accomplished. First—I scout a model that suits the look I am aiming for. 1_Photography_Marcia 34221In terms of styling—with the established concept in mind, I proceed in getting the right clothing and accessories to accomplish the planned look. I then consult with my make-up artist for complimentary beauty looks to match the concept. It’s an enjoyable process that allows freedom to transform ideas into even greater ideas. Last, I seek a location that coincides with the theme of the shoot. Finding the right location with the right amenities for make-up, hair and wardrobe prep can be tedious at times. It is very exciting when all components come together on set and the creative process comes alive. When shooting, I keep my concept in mind and continue to evolve as ideas arise on set. Continue reading…

Collaborate, Connect, Communicate: Three Goals of the Impact Artist Project

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2nd Place winner in the Metal Clay Category of the Saul Bell Design Award 2015 is Holly’s necklace, “Je’taime, – Dual Flame.”.

Holly Ginsberg Gage has had a busy year. She won Second Place in Metal Clay at the 2015 Saul Bell Design Awards and now she is heading up IMPACT Artist Project: International Metal Clay Project Advancing Creativity and Talent. Holly has set up a 25K fundraiser on Kickstater to fund the project. We caught up with her during her fundraiser to hear more details.

Holly tells us that if 25K is raised that it will be just enough to launch the project, “25K is the bare minimum to get us out the door with our most basic goals, which is growing the resources on our website, and maintaining the forum, IMPACT Activity programs and Rewards, and free webinars.” If 50k is raised with Kickstarter, Holly will give away a free book to everyone that has donated.   “The Journey of Self Discovery Through Metal Clay, This book is yet to be published, and will be given away as an e-book.” Continue reading…

How to Take Your Studio on the Road.


Tintype_photoboothIt’s true that traveling to take a class to learn a special technique can be costly, but I encourage everyone who can to do so once in a while. Meeting other artists and taking part in a class led by an instructor with whom you haven’t studied before will help you step outside your comfort zone and encourage you to try new things. I have traveled long distances to attend classes several times, and I’ve learned a lot about how to make the most of these experiences. Continue reading…