Friday, June 26, 2009

Bead, all that you can Bead

In a attempt to extend my line of necklaces, I spent a fun afternoon searching through beads at a Rings-n-Things Bead tour location a week ago. What a wonderfully tactile experience! I touched many more beads than I actually purchased. Am I the only one or does anyone else out there have this "need-to-touch" issue with beads?!

Anyway, its good they don't charge you for just picking things up. ("Um, excuse me, Miss? I am sorry but you've caressed that strand of huge turquoise beads three times now - that'll be $30.)

The serious "beaders" were purchasing mountains of beads. I controlled myself realizing that I was there just to choose compliments to my polymer pieces but it wasn't easy. The photos show some of my purchases...beads of glass, jasper, labrodorite and agate, Masai trade beads from Africa and silver beads that actually set me back the most.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


As an island in the subtropics, Saint Helena has some amazing vegetation not the least of which are these towering eucalyptus trees that stand in groves on steep mountainsides.

I modified what I do for my grass/flax design and used it as stripes that mimic the peeling bark of the eucalyptus tree. Researching the trees a bit more I learned about the painted or rainbow eucalyptus. I'll be exploring this design for a while in both greys and color. I chose brass findings in warmer choices to sterling silver.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sip summer with a spoon!

Creativity doesn't just happen in the studio!

A brief break in the rain gave the kids and I a morning to pick strawberries at a local farm. At just $1.50/lb. why not pick the "big box"? Little did I realize that the "big box" resulted in about 13 lbs. of strawberries. That makes A LOT of strawberry soup which fortunately freezes well. The idea of a fruit soup sounded strange to me at first but now we are hooked on this yogurt, strawberry, smoothie-in-a-bowl concoction. The recipe follows.

Chilled Strawberry Soup

1 cup/250ml apple juice
3/4 cup/175 ml water
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Combine and bring to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat; cool

3 cups/750ml strawberries, washed, capped
1/4 cup / 60ml water (this can be omitted for a thicker soup)
Puree until smooth.

2 cups/500ml plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
Add to pureed strawberries with apple juice mixture. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Garnish with additional strawberries (optional). This soup freezes well and can be served frozen, like a sorbet.

This recipe contains several of my modifications but the original was taken from Simply In Season - A World Community Cookbook which was commissioned by the Mennonite Central Committee.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Things are heating up

After quite a search and several returns, I have finally found a new oven for curing polymer! The Black and Decker one did not, over a serious of tests, keep temperature precisely enough. An Oster convection oven is the winner and I'll be running some test pieces tonight. (below is one of the last pieces completed before the death of the trusty old oven - may it rest in peace)

During this whole process I have wondered (aloud) about the cost of just going whole hog and setting up the metal studio. My husband seems to think its not quite as costly a venture as I suspected - after all I already have some of the equipment. Hmmm...I don't want to get too excited...but its difficult.

We are waiting to find out if my husband will be awarded another grant that would take us out of the country for a longer period of time and all things considered, if that happens, sinking the money into something I couldn't take with me wouldn't exactly be wise. Can you tell I am waffling here?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

One Year Ago, Thousands of Miles Away

One year ago today my family and I awoke a long way from anywhere and began our first full day on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Saint Helena is 1200 miles from the west coat of Namibia and only accessible by a five day journey by ship. It is considered to be one of the world's most isolated communities.

My husband had received a grant to do photo documentary work for the island's museum.

I awake many days wishing I was there with our view of the grand remains of a long extinct volcano and ocean beyond, air swept clean by the Trade Winds, living a simple life with little more than what fits in a suitcase.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Necessity...the mother of re-invention

The very first pieces I posted to Etsy were my mini watercolor illustrations set in polymer bezels. (polymer + interest in illustrating children's books = watercolor illustration jewelry...follow the math?)

I worked for months before I made one piece that I was happy with. But even after that each bezel was a struggle because I didn't want to use a mold and lose that slightly organic look. I can not tell you how many bezels I formed around the glass, then scrapped. Formed another, then scrapped it.

Finally, after a year and a half I had a eureka moment while wrestling a bezel and came up with a different, significantly better, cleaner, more consistent method. I can't say I "invented" anything here. Surely all I did was realize I could use my tissue blade in a different manner but wow, am I happy with the results! Its more geometric (although I can totally lose those corners if I want to) but I really like that contrast to the round glass. This new earring design will hit the shop soon.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Almost there now

We are nearing the end of our 7th year of homeschool/charter schooling and although I KNOW it is gets easier every year, the end of each year is usually a bit of a crunch. Thats where we are right now. I ease the tension with thoughts of the long stretch of summer the lies not too far ahead! (This new bracelet was great to work on days when my brain has felt fried - repetitive and time consuming but not rocket science)

A stomach bug and the death of my polymer clay oven have not made life any easier for the past 5-7 days. My germ free and ever supportive husband is testing out two new ovens for me now with even temperature control being the top priority. Based on temperature tests and the advice of Ronna Sarvas Weltman (gosh, she is nice!), I have decided to go with the Black and Decker convection oven. I hope to "christen" it by the end of the week.

Check out Ronna's new book and her amazing polymer rings (see one of my favorites below)! I sometimes feel a little stunted when I think of things I want to make in metal but can't figure out how to translate into polymer. The first time I saw Ronna's rings I realized I should reverse my thinking. Imagine all the things that polymer CAN do?!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Nix that

Nix the last post...

Due to a minor family crisis, I will not be attending the Crafty By Nature market this Sunday, June 7. When push comes to shove, family comes first. I won't bore you with the gritty details.

Please don't let this stop you from attending this new indie market! Get out there and support the artists and craftsman and enjoy the great weather!

Monday, June 1, 2009

To Market to Market

I am busy preparing for my first craft market of the year -
Crafty By Nature ------------------------------------------------>
being held at Shupp's Grove in Reinholds, PA. Its about half way between Lancaster and Reading, PA just off of route 222. The antique market opens at 6am and the craft market at 9am.

I'll have some new designs that will be available for the first time at the show. Wooden rings, mini (read: very affordable) pendants that could also serve as charms, rolodex style stretch bracelets, new necklace designs, new earrings...suffice to say lots of "new".

In addition, I've been taking some imagery (such as the stones and grass/flax designs) one step further by changing color, shape and findings. I really like the grass design. I like it better now that I am using it less literally. Its very experimental because I lay the blades of polymer grass over the background color, inbed them slightly and then cut circles. Yes, I realize, probably not the most efficient way of working with a material (I am TRYING to get myself into caning, really I am) but I so enjoy the asymmetrical results that this technique provides.