Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Easter Jubilation

I was feeling quite festive at the weekend with the start of the Easter celebration. Pixie face had an easter bonnet parade which, as usual meant painting and gluing at a time when we should both have been in bed. The finished product turned quite a few heads:
Sadly, the prize for the best one went to a purchased-pre-prepared one. Needless to say I was fuming, but didn't let on to my little daffodil who very proudly sat on the front row in the church service blocking everyone's view.
To cheer us up and rejoice in the spring sunshine ( the first rugby match of the season where we haven't returned with hypothermia), I prepared a mediteranean-style feast:

Stuffed peppers, salads, dips, organic home made bread, frittata, spinach and feta pies - YUM!

But try as I might, my cheese cake would not set:

It did taste yummy though.

Followed by easter cakes for tea:

Yes, I did make more than three, 2 dozen, in fact. They just disappeared soooo quickly.

A friend gave me a little tub of fossil treasures to play with. She knows how much I like found objects and the challenge of incorporating them into my artwork. I've started by making some earrings with some:

I like the fact that each pair of earrings is two halves of one fossil..

..and so match each other beautifully, even though they might be asymmetrical individually.

Anyone know how old they might be?

Friday, 26 March 2010

Step By Step Pet Portrait

I thought I'd post on my figurative commission work for a change as
a) I've been overloading my blog with my jewellery making obsession
b) I haven't posted on pet portraits before
c) almost every time I get part way into a portrait, I think I've lost the necessary skills, my thinking brain takes over and I'm all set to tear it up. This post will serve to remind me that this nearly always happens and I can usuallly work through it.
My latest commission is of a young black Laborador. Solid colours are often the most difficult to portray & don't even attenpt one unless you have a good photo taken in daylight

I draw an accurate outline onto the paper in pastels. It needs to be extremely accurate - a line 1mm out can change who the picture represents& this is what owners / parents notice.

Next I shade in the darkest shadows with purple and dark blue ( this would differ between colours of dog, but I usually use some kind of blue for the shadows.)

After this I block in the remaining fur with dark grey:

And then go over the whole lot with an even darker grey:

The purple and blue is now being covered, but will still show through enough to tell the unconscious that these are shadows ( Look at shadows on snow to see how much blue is in them).

This is now at the stage where I think I don't know what I'm doing. I start to add some colour for the eyes as this brings the portrait alive for me. This is the only time I add light colours first

Now it's starting to look more like a dog, my thinking brain starts to interfere ( ie- it tells me " noses don't look like that" etc.). If I listen to it, I'm in danger of painting what I think I know, rather than what I see. At this point, I often turn my picture upside down to complete it. This cuts out my thinking brain as it doesn't look like anything and I can simply interpret the shapes from the photo and reproduce them on paper

The first introduction of black contrast with the existing grey to produce highlights and depth. This is enhanced with lighter grey and blue again

The eyes are darkened and the whole thing tidied up.
The final touch is tiny flecks of white on the nose and in the eyes. The black is strengthened and some fur defined:

Some of the blue paper shows through with pastels which helps to unify the picture as a whole

Not a bad likeness - it's a surprise for someone's birthday & I hope she likes it.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Proud Mother Moment

My chest is all puffed up with pride for my eldest daughter Phoebe at the moment. It often is as she is a good girl despite the obligatory 14 year old outbursts which incidentally are more often than not directed at her father or her brother (phew). My latest pleasure with her was watching her pass her black belt karate grading:
It's quite difficult to snap her as, like me, she hates being photographed; which is a shame because she really is beautiful ( not all down to me).
She's been learning the art of karate for almost 6 years, training 5 times a week so it was well deserved.

Today I took delivery of ear wires courtesy of Cinnamon Jewellery via her Folksy shop. She too seems to be addicted to spirals, but her work is much more refined than mine - ah well! I've decided that I should make a feature of the more rustic style of my stuff & I've set a friend the task of coming up with some marketing words that reflect this ( that's you Dave!).
Receiving the wires meant I had to spend a couple of hours making earrings ( I know, it's a hard life!):

Beaten Silver Spirals

My favourite: Sea Glass encased in silver wire with spirals

Another silver clay nugget ring:

And then I finished off a "proper" ring that I'd started at the weekend. This I cut out of sheet silver, soldered, retriculated & soldered more. I do like it, but it's taken an absolute AGE to make. I'll wait for your verdicts to see if it's worth the effort. I'm calling it my Lady Morgana Ring:

Friday, 19 March 2010

In Praise of Bloggers

Just a few images of spring first while I've been out and about:
Growth bursting forth:

..and friends return at last:

Isn't blogland wonderful? I just wanted to share a couple of my experiences over the last couple of weeks. As you know I've been bitten by the jewellery-making bug but had 1001 questions about how to do things. Maggie who lives nearby and has made loads of lovely stuff kindly gave me a lesson in soldering and lent me some of her tools, despite the fact that I'm encroaching on her territory. She has been so generous, I wanted to send her a cyber-hug, as well as the lino-cut for her packaging that should look less blurry than this when it's printed up:

Secondly, Poppy Cottage who had offered a pattern for a bag, and I thought she would just give me rough instructions through her blog, but no, although we've never met, she very generously posted a selection of knitting patterns to me at her own expense. Thankyou so much, if I can ever return a favour, please let me know. And finally a mention for my good friend Felted House who offers me support, tremendous faith in my artistic ability amongst other things, and 'talks me up' ( to quote Lis) in a way that I never could but one I hope I can live up to. Bloggers - I salute you.

Now a sneaky peek at my first soldering attempts:
(Waxing and Waning)

I only pushed the earrings into blutack to hold them upright, but I just realised it looks like a funny face wearing glam rock shades doesn't it?

Two out of four being invisible isn't too bad I hope?

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Moments of Domesticity

I was thinking today of all the tasks that go to make up my daily living, brought to the surface, no doubt by completing forms for car insurance. Let me explain: on said forms, I describe myself as an artist, whereas my husband describes me as a housewife. Now I hate that term, it implies someone is married to the house and that is their priority. If you saw my house, you would see within a few minutes that it is definitely NOT my priority. So I got to thinking about all the things that take up my time. The biggest portion goes to things that if I was rich, I would pay someone else to do. My role in the home is earthmother in addition to man about the house - there is nothing I don't do and it's pretty tiring. But I don't want to list all of that so I thought I'd post on more lighthearted aspects of my week.

First, unexpected visitors:
Whilst pegging out the washing, I had a feeling I was being watched. I heard a rustle in the bushes behind me, my heart quickened its pace, my mouth went dry...... and then these two ladies appeared.

I left them to wander around the garden thinking they'd find their way back home, but when I fetched the washing in, they came running up to me. I put them in the rabbit run (watched by 3 disgusted rabbits) and walked the streets knocking on doors and getting very funny looks. By the time I discovered where they were from, it was dark and the owner didn't know they'd gone missing (he only has 5 so you think he'd notice their absence).
They came back to visit me 2 days later - if they come again I'm tempted to adopt them, it brought back happy memories of keeping chooks.
For World Book Day, youngest pixie face was going to school dressed as a horse. We stayed up the night before painting and putting finishing touches to her costume. We got up early to assemble it and paint her face in case she wanted to remove her mask. We left for school:

And as soon as we got there, she whipped off her mask and hooves saying "I don't want to wear these". At these times, I wonder why I bother, but I refuse to let her go in a 'bought' costume. It was nice to see one other parent who obviously felt the same as me (only 2 of us!).
Finally, I'll sneak in a few pictures of my latest jewellery projects for those who are interested:

Some cornish sea glass earrings - you wouldn't believe how difficult it is to find two almost matching pieces of sea glass - how many shades of clear glass can there be?

I then had my first try with silver clay. Thank goodness I bought slow dry - It was dry within a minute! I wanted to make something organic looking, so pressed the shapes out between scrunched up silver foil. I made holes in it before it dried, but when it was fired, the holes had shrunk! So I ended up having to drill them - exactly what I wanted to avoid; silver clay forms pure silver and is rock hard when fired:

I really like this one & want to keep it, but I'm going to run out of fingers soon ( I'm sporting one of last week's spiral rings as I type).

These are a little proud of the finger, so I made a couple that would sit flatter:

I might treat them to a boiled egg.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Ta Da!

Yesterday I posted on the uses of a boiled egg. I thought I'd quickly share the results. Having boiled the egg, I peeled and split it open, placed it in a plastic container with the jewellery ( not touching) and placed it over the pan of freshly boiled water ( it works faster if it's warm).
Half an hour later, it was changing colour. I left it for another half hour and it was suitably tarnished:

Today, I have cleaned it up a little with a nail buffer and the results are:

I'm going to clean up the chain as I don't like it- it's too brassy looking, but I've got the desired effect on the pendants and rings:

Now I'm going to eat the egg for lunch.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Things To Do With a Boiled Egg...

I have spent this morning beavering away with fresh supplies of silver, converting some more ideas into reality. Most of the time was spent making chains for the pendants to go on. I thought this would be fairly straightforward, but I'd reckoned without the fiddliness of jump rings - so called I think because they 'jump' out of your fingers and roll away to hide somewhere on the floor. I made a few more pendants, firstly incorporating smoky quartz from a beach-combing stint in Cornwall:

Then one with sea glass from the same beach-combing episode:
I really like this, so made a matching ring to go with it:

Then I decided to make a matching ring to go with the clear sea glass pendant I made at the weekend:

And a couple of plain silver spiral pendants:

Now these beaten ones I am going to try and oxidise. I don't like the idea of toxic chemicals, never mind the expense, but I've heard putting the piece in a container with a freshly boiled egg (peeled & split open) does the same and then I get to make egg mayonnaise afterwards. I'll let you know how it goes.

I was getting tired of the bolt clasps I was using for my necklaces, so had a little play at making my own:
With a little beating and oxidisation, I think they'll be perfect!