Thursday 23 February 2012

Rose ring & heart ring...

Two more rings from this morning. has a number of cool ring tutorials, all free. Yay. Here are my first versions. As always, I try to improve on Mother Nature and/or my own nature to abscond with ideas and run with them in a totally unnatural direction.

Made the goinks in the band to see if that was a way to shorten the band a bit.

Too many wraps, though: now the decorative goinks are hidden.
My version of a heart ring design I found online, with a couple of variations.

I didn't like the wires crossing through the heart, so I started my wraps on either side of the heart without doing the cross. This means my heart is somewhat adjustable -- not to mention, if I use finer wire it will too easily come apart. I think this is about 12 or 14 gauge wire (it's from the 7-strand copper wire you can buy at the hardware store off a huge spool).

It just occurred to me that there may even be a way to combine the rose with the heart... back to the drawing board.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Pewter skull ring

I think this turned out really well. Made this in 20 gauge, but I don't know if it's a little too fine for its size, which is 9. Fits my index finger. I will make it tomorrow in 18 gauge and 12 gauge, and see how they compare.

And another Kingman turquoise ring, playing with a wave pattern to hide the fact that the wrapping was really loose and wonky. Size 5.75... said it was wonky.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Wrapped copper rings...

Well, I was going to make more tree of life pendants today, but then I got distracted. Holy moley, these are messy. But they're kind of fun to make. Just wish I hadn't run out of 20 gauge wire on a long weekend. 
This was the first one I made, with Artistic Wire. It's going to be way too floppy to hold up to wear. But I like the gold/brass colour.

Clockwise left to right:
Square pink dyed jasper or agate(?), brass Artistic Wire;
Kingman turquoise, 20 ga copper;
Kingman turquoise, 18 ga copper, with 20 ga wrapping the stones onto the 18 ga;
Matte faceted lapis lazuli, 20 ga copper wire;
Matte faceted lapis lazuli, 14 ga copper wire.

If anyone feels like trying this out, here is where I got the tutorial for the rings. She makes it look sooooooo easy!

Friday 17 February 2012

Turquoise tree of life pendant

This is another variation, dull silvery-coloured tinned copper to give that driftwood feel, on a copper frame, about 2" diameter, Chinese turquoise chips.

This is for sale, please email me for details. $30, includes a Greek leather cord or deerhide thong, colour of your choice, plus shipping & handling ($5.00).

Thursday 16 February 2012

Pendant with 2 carved bone bears & turquoise chips

I have no idea what this represents. It started out as a tree of life with a bear, zoned out and this is the result.

It's about 55mm/2.25 inches in diameter. Note that the bears are a little more beige and the turquoise chips a little warmer than it shows here. Chinese turquoise chips, possibly colour washed, but for sure these are not dyed howlite.

$30 with a beige or black Greek leather cord on it -- or I have some deerskin lacing -- or black cotton. Email me at

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Raku sculpture... A blast from the past...

I've been asked by Roses-to-Ashes on how I came up with this sculpture. This is a 9-pound raku-fired ceramic scupture, an assignment in first year Sculpture at art college.

After my house blew up in Whitehorse in January 1988 (I wasn't in it at the time), I got my old job back with the geologists down in Vancouver and signed up for art school in Vancouver with visions of life drawing and anatomy and Paris garrets dancing in my head, and ended up broke-down, broken-hearted and seeing a shrink. Sigh...

But the good part -- and the value of art school, if anyone is wondering -- is I drew and painted and sculpted and read about art every single flippin' day 24/7 for two whole years, and then went on a 3-month trip to Europe with 48 of my closest friends to do my last 5 or 6, I forget, university credits in Art History and English literature. There I went to every famous and not-so-famous art gallery, museum and ruin you can think of every day for that three months in Rome, Florence, Venice, Lucerne, Zurich, Paris, Amsterdam and London. Now THAT was a hoot. But I will never ever ever go anywhere with 48 people ever again in my life. Holy crap.

But back to the sculpture. I am a confirmed 2D artist. Portraits. Body parts. Monochrome. Pen and ink and conte. Representational to the max. Expressionists rule. Lo and behold, surprise, surprise and whaddaya know, I fell completely and totally in love with ceramics and scuplture. Not with the bullshite and bafflegab that went along with it -- I completely did w/o that! -- but just playing with shape. For sure, it made me a much better drawer... at least I think it did.

The project was "metamorphosis". I'm sure there were all kinds of b&b that went along with it in class, but it's an extremely useful conceptual tool to have in order to come up with ideas. (I also recommend Experimental Drawing to get past blocks, either 2D or 3D.) If you've ever picked out shapes of animals or whatnot in clouds, coffee dregs and/or (foreshadowing here) driftwood, that's metamorphosis. Rorshatz blots come to mind here, as well.

We had to bring in a favourite object/item/shape that we loved. I'm sure the reality is we all grabbed the first thing that caught our eye as we rushed out the door that morning. One guy grabbed a wrench, someone else fished in their pocket and came up with a quarter. I got lucky and happened to be wearing a silver-mounted bone claw or fang pendant that I'd found in a junk shop and turned into an earring.

We had to do drawings and render them in perspective... I was a mechanical/engineering draftsman in real life -- before computers, btw -- so I knew perspective inside out. I was verrrrry lucky in that regard.

First, I tried building the shape using the slab technique, rolling out clay with a rolling pin and then cutting the pieces into roughly triangular shapes and getting them to stand up long enough to be glued together with slip. That didn't work... at all, particularly given that the sculpture was going to be at least 12" high. I tried coil building and that worked much better. As I was pushing and pulling this roughly triangular colied blob into shape, it started to look (because the clay was grey) like driftwood. I should mention here that I had spent years in BC on the coast as well as in the Yukon by this point and I loved nothing more than looking at driftwood on the beach or at shapes in firekill. It was at this point that I decided to make a driftwoody-type of sculpture. More additive/subtractive, scraping, pushing, pulling the shapes, and the eagle and then the snake just kind of evolved out of the clay.

Then came the firing. I'm starting to think now that this project must have been done in the spring term because we were using the outside fire pit and we were all getting pretty good at raku firing. No major disasters like setting ourselves on fire.

This piece took an inordinantly long time to dry in the drying cupboard in order to avoid any cracks. The teachers were either very encouraging or very discouraging. Interestingly, Judith, the course instructor for this class, was the most negative person I'd ever encountered. The "real" sculpture teacher, who I never did get to have as an instructor because of scheduling conflicts and from whom I could have learned a ton of useful stuff, and my ceramics instructor, Don Hutchinson, who I had for two years and who everyone absolutely loved and admired to the skies, both were so very, very encouraging. They were encouraging not in the ridiculous and useless self-esteem way of today, but in telling me how to make this work, that yes, there were huge techical problems to overcome, the first one of course being how thick and thin the walls of clay were and how heavy this sucker was going to be. Drying it extreeeeeemely slowly in a drying cupboard -- and absolutely completely -- was the first trick. Second was for it to survive the bisque firing. Just getting through the bisque firing was nerve-wracking because it was a large kiln, and I had to trust the people loading it -- and unloading it.

Then came the raku firing, which was done in a propane tank-fired open fire pit, with Orwell -- for that had become his name and gender (The Politics of the English Language, by George O. if you must know -- this was art school after all) -- placed on the bottom underneath a messpile of pots and sculptures all dripping glazes every which way, but he emerged miraculously undripped-upon. For those who don't know, raku pots are fired in an open pit with a high flame (don't remember the temperature) until the ceramic is literally transparent. My best pal and I had rehearsed picking him up with tongs together -- he weighs 9 pounds -- out of the fire and walking him over to a prepared smoke pit filled with newspaper and sawdust. And that's what we did.

It worked and you see the result.

Fast forward 20 years, never having touched clay or scuplture again, I discovered PMC, and, drawing on my years with the geologists where I got into learning about rocks and seeing the cosmos in the patterns and colours, I started making jewellery. To me, jewellery is the ultimate in kinetic sculpture. It's about balance and off-balance, positive and negative space become live. Every single person who wears a piece will change it; it becomes something unique via that individual.

I finally figured something out...

I'm at almost 3,000 page views on my blog. Wish that they were all subscribers! That's still stuck at 11 loyal readers.

I've been trying to figure out for the longest time where the little blips of readers, or at least clickers-on to the page -- maybe they run screaming in fear back into cyberspace from whence they came -- where they're coming from, because they're from all over the world -- and I can tell that because of the stats/tracker function on Blogspot -- but what has been spurring it? The penny dropped this morning: the blips of readers come every time I add something to my deviantArt page, and particularly if one of my pieces gets picked up by a totally different group there, two of which I've just joined -- and which opens up whole new audiences. Verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry interesting. All that from one website -- and that is also what is driving the people from Etsy (deviantArters all) who add me to their circles there.

Meanwhile back here on snowy earth, I haven't heard back yet from the clients of the big transcription job (the one that was missing about 3 to 4 hours of tape!) if they've found the missing speeches, so I'm spending this week making jewellery -- and sleeping. I went to bed at 6:30 last night, read for 20 minutes, and except for Max getting me up once, I pretty much slept for 12 hours straight. Max, of course, is back hard at it:

Happy Valentine's Day to you all, especially the cynics among us. And as someone wrote elsewhere:
Be grateful for Valentine's Day... 
50% off on premium chocolate on February 15th!
Chocoholics of the world, rejoice!
And stock up!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile, back here in the real world...

This is another in my minimalist wrap series I made for the guys. Hemp-wrapped resin eagle talon pendant with copper jump rings. I must have spent an hour wrapping and rewrapping this to try to get it right.
Funny how the more wraps I made every which way, the less stable the whole thing became. But this won't slip off either end of the flat part up top. 
The talon itself is about 2 inches high. I left the hemp strings long if someone wanted to add some beads.  

A very dramatic vision of a pair of "market-priced" crystal earrings. Silver-plated ear wires, Chinese crystal rondelles (my new favourite shape, they are sooo useful), two 4mm Swarovski crystals (the real thing!), pewter daisy spacers, silver-plated ear wires. A lot of bling for not much ka-ching. 

This is the real colour of the earrings above, although the picture above shows that bronze-coloured crystals would be very effective. I plan to do a whole series of these in birthstone colours once I get a chance to get to Toronto.

Today and the rest of the week... I'll be wrapping some sodalite puff hearts in sterling silver, making the tutorial for that which I promised two weeks ago, continuing on with another Tree of Life pendant... more earrings and necklaces...

Sunday 5 February 2012

Another Stunday spent typing... but here are some purty pictures anyway

...and not making jewellery. I have two typing deadlines, one this coming Wednesday and the next one on Stunday the 12th -- oops, typo alert, but so very, very appropriate -- at 10 pm. Then, possibly, I will be free... Valentine's Day has really crept up on me again -- too late to make very much.

But here's what I did manage to put together the past few days.

This last pendant is really pretty -- I think -- and I want to get more of this rondelle shaped crystal to make bracelets. As much as I don't like using elastic, since the fixed-length bead soup bracelets are just sitting there, essentially unwearable unless the one you like happens to fit your wrist perfectly, then elastic seems to be the way to go, but I will double or quadruple it to keep it from breaking.

I've been getting very good response on deviantArt to my single Tree of Life pendant. I plan to make more. Will they still be called Trees of Life if they're not very tree-like?

If anyone knows how to put favourite online store logos permanently onto the side of the blog, could they please let me know? Like this one...

...from whom I got the coolest bear fetishes in my last order.