Sunday, January 25, 2009

Not a Geisha

What a week this has been! After all the excitement and tears of joy the first half of the week, I put my mind to my YOJ offering for the week. While I have been trying to build inventory so I actually have things to sell, I really wanted to try to make something on-topic. Problem is, I haven't seen Memoirs of a Geisha, although I read and enjoyed the book. I tried out any number of ideas mostly along the line of cherry blossoms, sketched, played with wire, and generally got frustrated. Nothing appealed to me.

Then kitty Clawdia, in a bout of the night-time kitty crazies, knocked over a storage bin and spilled it all over the bedroom. Of all the things to dump, it would have to be jewelry things that had been set aside a while ago. What a mess! As I was gathering up the mess, in amongst the now-loose beads and tools, I found an unopened work container with a partially fininshed right-angle-weave band. I decided to complete it, finish it as a necklace, and use it this week. It has nothing whatever to do with geisha or Japan or anything like that. However, one of the positive aspects of YOJ for me is the drive to completely finish items. Like many of us, I suspect, I have had a tendency to allow UFOs to proliferate. YOJ has helped me curb that. I finish almost every piece now, to my great personal satisfaction. So this piece just called out to me to finish it.

Technical details: RAW worked in #8 pearly seed beads and #11 translucent matte pink delicas. I love the structure the large/small bead combination creates and the color play of the dominant large beads with the color peeking out in between. The weaving was done with C-lon using the two needle method. I prefer it because I find easier to keep my place. I also think it is quicker, neater, and easier to tension evenly. The clasp is a simple box clasp. I don't usually use this kind of clasp any more, but it was in the box with the rest of the materials. It actually looked about right so I went ahead and used it. It is lightweight like the beadwork. Any other clasp that I had on hand would either have been the wrong style or too heavy. My one change from the original plan was to wire the clasp in place with 28g sterling rather than trying to tie it up with the C-lon. Actually, that was a big improvement, so it worked out well that I didn't finish it back when I was doing more beads than wire.

It came out nicely, I think. It is not really a necklace for an adult. It's too pastel and lacey and princessy for any grown woman I know. OTOH, someone might want to buy it, so I'll put it out for sale just in case. Meanwhile, it has given me a starting place for a piece my daughter wants, a Victorian-ish collar with dangles in black beadwork. That will be fun. It's also a great starting place for bracelets galore at a low materials cost, so that's a good thing, too. I'm thinking black with different color delicas, maybe.

So, not on topic, only token wire, not terribly original. Still, I'm not unhappy with it, and hope you like it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Garden of Giverny

I am fortunate to live in Chicago, where the Art Institute has a wonderful collection of French Impressionist paintings. When my daughter was young, my friend and I discovered that the calm atmosphere of the Art Institute together with their wonderful children's activity center made it one of the best bets for a morning excursion with preschoolers. The girls didn't get so overstimulated as they did at the Museum of Science and Industry, and unlike the zoo, weather wasn't a factor. So we went there fairly often with preschoolers in tow. Later when I was working on Michigan Avenue, I would sometimes take an afternoon vacation and walk there to see a special exhibit or just to look around at whatever might take my fancy that day.

The Monets are wonderful. Everything that has been said about capturing the light is true. They stand up to being viewed again and again. And the garden pictures, the waterlily series, make it clear why he loved his gardens so. Needless to say, I loved this theme.

For the last several months I have been refining a technique I call Basketweave Pave'. It is worked in 28g wire coiled over a 20g core and is based on Eni Oken's basketweave technique. Instead of making a shaped basket, the shape is worked flat, like a braided rug, and tiny beads or crystals are added every 4 or 5 coils to completely pave the front of the piece. One of my favorite shapes has been this teardrop.

Up to this time I have made only pendants this way. I decided to make earrings instead of a pendant just to see if it was practical. These measure an inch wide by 1 1/4 inches tall. I made them with posts because I thought the more tailored look fit with the geometric quality of the structure. The beads are a bead soup mix of 15 different colors and textures of Miyuki #11 seed beads, delicas, and hex delicas. I chose the colors based on Monet's palate for the water lily paintings.

I'm pleased with the way they turned out. I may replace the back with the wider support backs that you sometimes see with larger post earrings, but aside from that, these came out just as I hoped, and I will be making more post earrings in basketweave pave in the future.

I always welcome comments and critique, and would love to know what you think.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Playing with appearances

I'm trying out some different looks today, so don't be surprised if things change from time to time. I really want to start sharing this site with all my forum and facebook friends, and I want it looking at least presentable.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Making of "Stone Age Amulet "

If you came here from the YOJ blog, you know the story of this amulet.

In thinking about the Stone Age theme, I kept coming back to the idea that the only distinction between a Stone Age community and any other is that Stone Age communities do not yet use alloyed metals, but only those found in a native state. That means that un-alloyed silver, gold, and copper might be in use, but generally only for ornamentation since they are impractically soft for any utilitarian purposes.

So I decided to model the sort of grave goods that I have seen and heard described in some of the recent finds in northern Eurasia. I had some glass beads that had a patina that reminded me of the glass found in archeological sites in the Middle East, and a ceramic donut for the centerpiece. I decided that I could use a bit of copper, provided that it was considered trade goods.

I have been experimenting with the combination focal and clasp for a while now, and that was what I wanted for this. I set the donut using a coiled basketweave technique, 26g copper over 18g copper. My one big cheat was using Soft-flex wire for the stringing, but I didn't have any leather cord, and wanted to make this of found objects, in any case.

The focal measures about 1 1/2 inches across, and the overall length of the necklace is about 22 inches. It has the antique barbarian elegance that I wanted, and still gives credit to a sophisticated culture that simply happens not to be working metal just yet. I hope you like it.

Oddly, Augie, who usually is very restrained and analytical about my jewelry work, LOVES this piece. Go figure.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Year of Jewelry begins!

Okay, I started this blog specifically to give me a place to track and ramble on about my Year of Jewelry posts. I had a nice blog over on AOL Journals, but the service went away. I'll see about reposting some blasts from the past if they seem relevant to the week's theme or the piece I'm working on, but that is for later, I think.

So welcome, YoJers!

The first week's theme is Gone with the Wind. I'm not much of a movie buff so I'm probably going to do the artists and period themes more than the movies. Instead of staying strictly on theme this week, I decided to feature a piece that places me exactly where I am, home base if you like.

One of my specialities is micro-maille, using 22g sterling wire in sizes appropriate to the weave. This byzantine is 2.5 mm, and is my most favorite to make and to wear. It has more weight than most commercial chains so it balances better with a wire-woven pendant without being so heavy that it draws attention away. On this one I used a commercial clasp. I go back and forth about commercial clasps. I love to make and wear custom clasps, and you'll be seeing bunches of them this year, but in real life I have noticed that jewelry artists are all about the custom clasps while wearers of jewelry are as happy or even happier with store-bought. There is a sense of security that some wearers seem to like. In this case, I had a cute heart-shaped clasp in the right scale so I went with that.

The pendant is a Danish Knot. Way back in the beginning of time, I received a charm in a CWJ charm swap that had a tiny Danish Knot. I fell in love with it, and spent a lot of time figuring out how to make it. Since that time, it has become one of my signature techniques. This is a large one, 18g, 8mm id. I mounted it on a herringbone bail, another of my signature techniques.

The finished set was a gift to my niece, Lucy, a college student, musician, and beautiful young woman. I gave it to her on New Year's Eve, and she put it right on, so I guess she liked it. If you go to my Facebook page, you'll see it in the family pictures for the day.

I'm also planning on blogging some other topics from time to time, so if you come looking for jewelry and find a recipe at the top, scroll on down. It'll be there.

So, on to the Stone Age. I do plan to try that theme.