Sunday, February 23, 2014

Raising the bar on my creativity - Let me know what you think!

Wonder Prayers
I've been having the best time this cold, cold winter, beading in my sunbeam that comes through the windows of my studio - if the sun is shining; sometimes I get snowflakes and white skies as I watch the birds and squirrels at the bird feeders.

My new work involves even more of what I love, and that is the art of the Golden Age of Illustration. I've discovered cabochons based on this type of artwork, and when I can't find the ones I want, I have learned how to make them -yay!

The pendant above is a detail of a Mucha illustration, and I love his artwork enough to spend 40 hours embellishing it so that it becomes a little piece of wearable art. I call this pendant Wonder Prayers because the beautiful young woman in this detail looks as if she's seen something she thinks is wondrous, so she has her hands together almost in prayer, coming up to her mouth, which she covers in wonder and laughter and excitement - what has she seen? What does she think? She is filled with wonder and enthusiasm (which is defined as "being filled with inspiration or ecstasy arising from supposed possession by a god").

Oh, it's you, wearing her! She loves you, you goddess, you!

Fluffy fringe

As you know, I love color, and this pendant incorporates the colors of the cabochon, greens and turquoise, a bit of red and orange, and lovely creme and bronze. It feels good to run your hands over the fringe, which is why I do it! The bottom beads are Czech dagger beads, made of glass. 

I learned a lot with this cab - having read how other beaders do certain parts, I found that I had better results if I went with my own stitching. The bail (the part that holds the pendant to the necklace) is done with a single thread that weaves through the beads several times for enduring strength. Tomorrow I will make her braided necklace of seed beads in the same colors that I incorporated in the fringe, with a sterling or silver filled fastener.

Wonderprayers (above) will either end up in the Green Drake Gallery or at another spot in town, such as Cafe Lemont, Gift Adventures, or a little place in Boalsburg - am figuring that out.

Little Goddess with her necklace
I've finally been able to finish my Little Goddess's necklace - had to decide what kind of style I wanted. I wanted something that would blend with the piece without detracting from it, and I wanted to avoid the somewhat dated look of a bunch of large beads strung together. The result is a braided seed bead necklace that blends with the pendant, does not detract, and feels comfortable to wear. It has a sterling silver and silver filled clasp that is easy to do up. Little Goddess stays in my personal collection since she's my first bead embroidered pendant and I love her very much.

Mucha springtime cabochon pendant
I have several Mucha cabochons that I'll be embellishing like this one - my Mucha Springtime Cabochon. I love his images of women in all their beauty and I love to celebrate this by embellishing them. This one also has the braided necklace chain with a sterling lobster clasp.

These pendants take between 30 and 40 hours to make. Hours spent listening to soft smooth jazz in Sirius radio or old time movies. Happy hours in my sunbeam overlooking the birds out in the yard. They incorporate thousands of beads, most are sewn through twice, some more than that, and yards of thread, which takes some negotiation not to tangle. 

Fluffy fringe!
As we know, I love fringe, and this Mucha Springtime pendant incorporates a nice bunch of it. It's bordered on the bottom by lovely Czech dagger beads, which give the fringe some weight so it hangs nicely. 

Good tools
These are some of the tools I use as I make the cabochon necklaces. The wooden tube labeled "Shepherdess" holds some of the beading needles I use, and the sterling silver container under the scissors also holds beading needles. That container used to be a 1920s holder for matches that you could strike along the bottom, but I've repurposed it. Also in this tool dish is my fairy thimble which my husband gave to me for Christmas one year. And beeswax for conditioning the thread, and a "sewing picker" for taking out some things sometimes, and of course my glasses so I can see what I'm doing.

Three Gnomes and a Couple of Bears with Treasure
The latest thing I'm working on is a storytelling bracelet - and I'm having a lot of fun with it. This will be a cuff bracelet. The main focal bead is a beautiful picture jasper bead that brings to mind a deep dark cave and a pathway and a bunch of cliffs to the side. So I put with it three little gnomes who live in the cave, and their friends, two bears. The moon (a beautiful coin pearl bead) shines down on them as they walk the paths to their lair, from which spill treasures of pearls. Their pathway is lit by torches along the way. 

The colors in this one are mainly blue grays, cream, tan, and brown. I have some more little gnome beads made in peru and some more gorgeous gemstone cabochon beads so will be doing more gnome cuff bracelets which will end up at the Green Drake Gallery and other places around town.

I will also have some cabochon pieces in my Etsy shop, Dreamkeeper Creations.

Magic waiting to happen
I have some cabochons I'm so excited to work on, and some of them are from Alice in Wonderland - the Queen (above) and the Mad Hatter (below). 

Mad Hatter magic waiting to happen
I've learned from the Wonderlit course I've been taking to mix my loves - fairy tales and beadworking does it for me - let me know what you think!

Signing off for now to go and create some more - ahh sweet creative hours!



Sunday, February 9, 2014

Breathing Space - The Secrets of My Studio

Sacred space with new OTT lamp - yay!
I recently spent 12 hours reorganizing my studio, and it feels GOOD. That's after my little swollen sausage fingers recovered from the work of moving out about 200 books (donated for others to enjoy) and making space for essential art tools and information to be at my fingertips. 

I LOVE my studio. 

The photo above shows my drafting table, which we got at Salvage, the place where Penn State sends its castoffs, and this table is one of the best things I've ever purchased there ($60, and it's where I spend the majority of my time every day, great investment!). It's very high, so I can sit or stand, which is good for variety in positioning while working. 

When we got the table, it had a Borco vinyl cover on it which we had to scrape off (no small feat), and Rob, my sweet husband, did a wonderful job refinishing the beautiful wood top. I love to work on it. It has all sorts of nicks and dents and stains in it after a few years of me tapping my watercolor tubes down on it to get them open, hammering nails in wherever I need them to secure a beading project, using glue, which sometimes I can peel off and sometimes I can't, and all manner of permanent ink or painting abuse. 

I know the photo above doesn't look like much, but it's one of the things that makes me feel sooo good about the reorganization. It's space! This area is just behind my little couch, and while I was working full-time, I didn't have much time to organize so it got overloaded with piles and piles of books waiting to be read, which my mother kindly gives me after she's finished with them. She's 80. She reads about 5 books a week. I can't possibly keep up with that. So I spent a bunch of time packing a bunch of them up to donate. Now I can b r e a t h e. I do keep my sewing machine there, which I use to make my crazy dolls and baby pillowcases. 

Active Etsy items at my fingertips, yay!
So when I sorted out all the books I had s p a c e on the shelves to put the things I need - such as the active items in the baskets that I have for sale in Dreamkeeper Creations on Etsy. This is lovely convenient.

These are the books above the shelves closest to my computer working desk area - they inspire me. I have several from the "Idiot" series, such as Idiot's Guide to Zen Living, Idiot's Guide to Celtic Wisdom, and Idiot's Guide to Eastern Philosophy. These are handy. Along with them are some other favorites that have helped me to build a foundation from which to spring. I can't live without books. Love the connection with authors, the smell of the ink, the turn of the page...and learning.

Beading Table
Now we're getting to the good part - the middle of the room holds my beading table. This is where a lot of projects happen. Note the ridiculous lamp - I've struggled with this sucker for several years, but recently have been able to purchase a gorgeous OTT lamp, which I love so much I got another one for this table. The OTT lamp has 37 tiny led bulbs that provide daylight color and brightness which totally wins over the 40 watt bulb I used to have to work with. Now I can actually see what I'm doing!

I love that now the beads are all organized into categories right at my fingertips - shapes, gemstones, glass, African beads, metal, etc. Finding what I need when I need it is now possible, yay! The round bowl holds the tools I use.

Working Books
These are my reference books that I pull out to learn a new technique or get inspired. I love having them all together and accessible. I've read them each several times and they're my go-tos when I want to do something I haven't done before. 

Sacred Territory
This is one of the best parts of my studio. It's right to the left of my drafting table and holds all the tools I use all the time. Pencils for drawing, brushes for painting, markers for art journal doodling, watercolor paints, etc. So great to finally have them all together and at reach. Organizing feels good!

Earth Treasures
Most artists have a special relationship with the beautiful Earth, and it's not unusual to find in their homes and studios treasures they've collected and I'm no different. My Peruvian baskets contain rocks and sticks collected across North America on hikes in several states, including Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania, etc. My favorite most fascinating rock is the square one, which I picked up in Wyoming during a stop on a 40-mile canoe trip - it has lines incised across it and rolls like dice. It's ancient. Probably part of some game played long ago. Also I do love the big rock in front that is full of fossils. I picked that one up on a hike in California. I love the spiral shells captured in it. 

Cosmic Surfer Bracelet Detail
And here is some of the work that I do in this lovely space - the Cosmic Surfer Bracelet is finally finished after two years of on and off working. It will go into the Green Drake Gallery for the adventuresome person to whom it has meaning. Made with love just for you!

All done, YAY!!
This cuff bracelet has a gorgeous soft, durable cognac leather backing and will have a pewter sun toggle clasp. It took about 150 hours and incorporates hundreds of seed beads, and a gorgeous focal cabochon. It's full of crazy color and lots of spirit - the design carries forward the waves of the cab, and the sun (male) is fully shining on the left, but a bit protected (female) on the right. These little white face cabs are carved of bone. It's a statement piece for sure. Feels very good to touch.

New Project - Mucha Springtime Woman
So now that Cosmic Surfer is about finished (toggle clasp going on tomorrow), a new project is already begun - Mucha's beautiful Springtime Woman, which will be a glass pendant with a gorgeous peyote stitched border and some lovely fluffy fringe and a beautiful seed beed necklace. (Please excuse the white semi-circle, that's the 37 led lights from the table lamp). Check back to see the completion of this one, and the new ones to come!

Einstein napping couch
Years ago when I was envisioning what I wanted my studio to be like, I imagined a Persian rug (check, Ebay), a fireplace (check, little gas fireplace), and a leather couch so my husband could spend time with me while I'm working (which is about all the time). Sometimes he sits here with the pups on his lap, and the cat over his shoulder, and sometimes I curl up here to take a nap or sleep at night - I call it pretzel sleeping cause the couch is just loveseat sized and you can't stretch out much unless you put your feet on the ottoman (which is where the pups like to sleep). Everyone should have a nap place in their studio whenever possible. Sometimes you wake up with lots of wonderful new ideas and inspirations just like Einstein : )

Sweet dreams!