Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jump for Joy!

Here's a new silver birdie that I've just finished which was inspired from my cartooning class.  He's called "Jump for Joy!"

In my class we were looking at expressions and all my drawings of birds had open beaks as it's difficult to show expression on a shut beak.  But I'd never done an open beak in metal clay before - so why not give it a try?

Add to that that my cartooning teacher is always trying to get me to create wings that look more feathery or at least fingerly and thus we got an open beak and open wings to show off his finger feathers.

Yes - there also seems to be an element of surprise in the little guy - so I think someone or somebird has just told him some wonderful news. What do you think?  I'm off to my cartooning class this afternoon so I'll take him along and see what my teacher thinks!

And for all you Joy's out there - how great that people will jump for you!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Colorful Houses

I showed you a piece in progress a little a while ago called  "colorful houses" - and I've just finished some colorful house earrings too!

The earrings are made in bronze with color anodized aluminum behind:

The row of houses will be a brooch and it is made from copper with color anodized aluminum riveted to it.

I think I should create a whole town of houses!

What color would yours be?

I wonder if I could have a lime green house??

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It takes guts......

I was thinking the other day, as I regularly do, about how the individual 'me' comes through in my jewelry.  With my silver work you see whimsy reflecting my sense of humor; flowers, birds and animals reflecting me as a nature lover; stained glass windows reflecting my singing at Grace etc etc..... So I started wondering how the 'me' can come through in my new aluminium work.

At the moment I'm trying lots of new things and techniques with the aluminium and being open to it all and seeing where it'll take me...but I thought I should try and think of what makes me who I am and put a little of that into my aluminum work. This bracelet is a result of that!

It illustrates the biologist in me (my undergraduate degree was in Biology) - and also a little of my gut issues - I am Celiac. Thus if you look carefully, you'll see some microvilli...and different cells.... and membranes from our body and guts..... and maybe even some good gut bacteria!  And as my favorite color is lime green, I chose to depict them all in shades of green - the perfect shade for a queasy tummy!!!

I used little rivets to hold it together...I'm hoping they don't indicate kidney stones or something.....

I mentioned this unusual "creation" to my sister a few days ago and she seemed to think that I wouldn't elaborate about it in my blog!  Well here it is!  Can you see your gut lining in it?????? :=D

Hmmm. Now what should I call this????

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cartoon caption No.1

If you've been following along in my latest adventures, you may recall that I've recently started a cartooning class.  It's not that I want to learn to draw comic strips or the like, but I really can't draw at all, so thought it might be a fun place to start...and also might help with the character development of my little silver friends like Humphrey, Trisha, Rupert, Quentin etc.

So when I'm brave enough, I've decided that I'll show one of my drawings and see what caption YOU can come up with.... go on - give it a try! Here's the first drawing....what are the two birdies saying?

Here's my idea:
"Have we met before?  You look kind of familiar?"

Guest bloggers

Things are a-changin'.

As you may recall, my Monday guest blogger Jennifer has decided to stop blogging. Her posts here were her trial at blogging to see if she would like it enough to start her own blog.  But she decided it wasn't really her thing as it took up too much time when she wanted to be creating instead.  Anyhow it was great to have our millinery musings.  Thanks Jennifer.

My other guest blogger Marly has gone the other way! She and Angie have set up their own blog - IN AND AROUND STUDIO 28! Yeah! Their first blog post was yesterday so I hope you'll go and take a look at what they have to say and subscribe to their blog, so you can keep up to date. 

It seems great that out of my two guest bloggers, one decided it wasn't for her, and the other decided it was.  Marly will actually keep writing as a guest blogger for me for now - and maybe Angie too?....but if any of you readers want to try your hand at blogging but aren't yet ready to take the plunge for your own blog, do let me know and we can talk about you starting out as a guest blogger here.  I'd be happy to help you get started...or even if you have your own blog and want to be one of my guest bloggers, just let me know....and who knows where it'll lead....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday's spotlight - Would Derby be as disastrous as Doncaster?


Regular readers of this blog may remember the pretty disastrous trip Pam and I made to Doncaster a few weeks ago, when about 50% of everything was either closed for the day or permanently closed as a result of the recession.
Photo by orangeacid
It was, therefore, with some trepidation that we set out for a trip to Derby; it having been something approaching two years since we were last there.

One of the factors that decided us to take the plunge and go to Derby and risks seeing 50% of everything closed was that the particular day we chose to go was the last day of our O.A.P train concession pass. It cost us £20 each to buy this pass but it meant that we could get 25% off the train fares.

Photo by ~Duncan~
On the bus taking us from Derby railway station to the city centre Pam  began talking to a fellow passenger and he said that he thought Derby was a mess right now. This was not exactly cheerful news and also not very well timed because we just spent one and a half hours on the train getting there.  This fellow bus passenger went on to say that they, by which we took him to mean the city council, had gone mad with a rebuilding  and road alteration changes to such an extent that the city wasn't worth visiting now. We didn't think of asking him why he was on the bus going to the city centre. Pity!. A lady from Belper, with whom we shared a lunch table, was of the same opinion even though she didn't express herself in the same graphic fashion.

Photo by  orangeacid
In actual fact we thought the new buildings and the changes made since our last visit there greatly enhanced the city centre.  For a start the city now had a bus station and this meant that passengers didn't have to queue out in the open weather waiting for a bus because now they can queue  under cover.  A great deal else had been improved as well.
Photo by *Debs*
Derby Boasts of two indoor markets.  It is true that in the larger one some 50% of the stores were closed but whether that was because Tuesday wasn't a particularly profitable day for the stallholders or that they were feeling the financial pinch is something we didn't know. The second indoor market with 100% open so perhaps the stores in the first market were the result of the recession. I can't remember seeing any shops in the city closed so, on the whole, we had a good day out.

Photo by eamoncurry123
Pam had an especially good day. She found a craft shop and as her main hobby is making greeting cards she was in her element. I haven't seen much of her since we got home!

We even caught the right train home! That's more than could be said about the aforementioned trip to Doncaster!!!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Weekly Bird in the Hand

Photo by Merriepix
Here's my weekly "bird in the hand" - the things I'm grateful for this week:
  • the smile and hello from a stranger
  • the little turtle in the pond who sits on our duck nesting platform every day to catch the sun's rays
  • the two little green herons we saw this week also on our duck nesting platform (we'll have to start taking reservations soon!)
  • the fun of trying new techniques and designs with my aluminum jewelry
  • the great comments and feedback that I got on my blog, facebook and from other friends on my new aluminium jewelry
  • teachers - I started a new Spanish conversation class this week, and also had a great cartooning class
  • my merry go round friends - wonderful supporters
  • the warm sunshine that helps the grapes ripen and increase their sugar levels
I hope you had a good week too and had lots to be grateful for.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Merry Go Round - what's your favorite colour and how does it show in your work?

It''s time for another ride on the merry-go-round! Jump on and join a group of 8 artists/crafts-women as they link around the world and tell you a little about their lives in art and craft.

This month's question is : What is your favourite colour and how does it show up in your work?
And my answer is:
Hugh the Chameleon - "show your true colors
This is a perfectly timed "merry" question for me!  As you know - most of my work to date has been with silver - and silver is not my favorite colour!  I've tried different ways of adding color to silver over the years and while some have worked fine - like "Hugh" -  they haven't been quite "it" and I've still craved bright colours.  But recently I've been working more with coloring anodized aluminum to get that spark of colour in my work, either with aluminum on its own, or combining it with silver.

Fresh leaves
I just love bright colours and if you've ever been to my home or met me - you'll know that I surround myself with a lot of silver is in that way quite limiting. I started working on anodized aluminum at the beginning of the year...and my success was slow to start with.....but now I'm finding lots of new ways and techniques to work with it.  The colors it produces are so vibrant.

Garden seat
So yes, lime green is bursting out of me! It just always makes me happy when I see it.  I am so attracted to it.  So it is coming through now in my aluminium this space... you will see more and more...

Bangle  - work in progress
Faux bone bangle bracelet
If you want to learn about the other members of the merry go round and how they use their favorite color, please click on the links below.  We live in all different places around the world, so time differences may impact when we all get our blog post up.

What's your favorite color?

Mitsy at ArtMind -
Kim at Vilt a la Kim -
Sara at Crafts of Texture -  
Fabienne at Easterya Jewellery Creations -
Mariana at Florcita -
Agathe at Le Bar du Vent -
Lily at Lily Pang Art and Design -

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Harold and the Purple Crayon

When my sister and her family were here this summer, we noticed that all of them wore quite a bit of purple.  It's not a color you see very often here in the US.....Then when we went back to England last month, we noticed that all the shops were full of purple!!  No wonder the fam were wearing it! It's I did buy myself a couple of purple sweaters to bring back.....

Fast forward to trying a new technique with coloring anodized aluminum....and out came the purples! And pinks!!!  As I was creating them, with all the different patterns, I thought of the lovely book Harold and the purple crayon.

If you haven't read Harold's book - go and find it now!  It's delightful. It all begins with a little boy Harold deciding to go for a walk in the moonlight and he takes with him his purple crayon......  Perfect for all ages.

And talking of the book....let me briefly digress a little.... A while ago when I was singing in a quartet, we would rehearse at my house and my pet parrot Harold would join in our singing - especially the high notes.  At the time, we contemplated calling ourselves "The Purple Crayons" as we were really just Harold's back up vocals!!  Wouldn't that be a good name?

Anyhow - back to the earrings.....I feel they are somewhat Zentangle-esque?  (assuming you know what Zentangle is?)...... and not that I've ever done any Zentangle before..... Anyhow, I started by coloring and dyeing a large square of aluminum, sealed it and then cut it up in different directions to make the earrings. 

Vibrant colors?  Well, you no longer have to be bold (or old!) to wear purple - it is the season's color!

Wait until the see the Zentangle-esque bracelet I've been working on!  Not purple.....but...

"Inside the artisan" blog featured in Metal Clay Today Magazine

I was delighted to open up the Fall edition of "Metal Clay Today" magazine and see that my blog "Inside the Artisan" is featured in the "Best of Blogs" section by Lori Phillips.

Metal Clay Today is an online quarterly magazine, full of lots of techniques, inspiration, interviews, competitions etc etc all about metal clay. And it's FREE. You can sign up to receive it as an email attachment so you don't miss any issues.

I love what Lori wrote about my blog (thanks Lori), mentioning not only my metal clay work and whimsy, but also our vineyard.

Go take a look at the magazine - I know you'll enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Birdie story....continued

Last week I posted some photos of a new bronze bird with a silver bird and I asked for your input on their names and what you thought was their story.

Here are the great stories I got back.  Please let me know which is your favorite!

1. Finch and Robin.
"Hi there.. new in town?... I'm're tall and a bit of a different color...interesting..but hey!..birds of a feather...flock together! Nice to meet you Robin!"

2. Piano bar hangouts.
They met at a piano bar during Spring break. Being a bit older, they both had to abandon their beachside digs for the evening because of all the racket caused by the college students. Hitting it off over subjects like Chopin and politics, they eventually sold their nests and settled down together in the forested countryside.

3. Abdulla and Chad.
The taller one is Abdulla, the shorter one is Chad. They're deep in discussion about they're both in Israel at a summer camp for the FFW. Future Friends of the World.

 4. Clyde and Joan.
The taller one is Clyde; the shorter cuter one is Joan. They are old friends who just accidentally met on a street corner in Berkeley. Clyde is currently working on his masters; Joan is a professor.

5.Wit and Pip.
The taller one is Wit, a wise old bird who is listening to Pip who is just leaving the nest, about to go out into the big wide world.

6. Brassy and Serious.
Brassy with the new top curl and anatomical eyelids met up with Serious outside and he said "Hey Babe, how about a walk on the wild side?" as he winked at her.

7. Father and Junior.
Father Feather is listening to Junior Feather's confession. Nods in sympathy but tells Junior to say many, many Hail Marys.

Obviously they are two very intelligent birds, having an in depth conversation.  I love it!  I'll have to make some more and see what you think their story is.  Thanks for joining in!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cathedral rose windows

I've made a few pairs of earrings based on the design of the Rose Window of Grace Cathedral, where I sing every week.  Previously I've created the "stone" part of the window in silver and then used hand colored resin to represent the "glass".  In the style of my new "bright flowers" earrings, I thought I'd try a different approach on my own pair of rose window earrings - namely remove the resin and hang a piece a colored anodized aluminum in the back to represent the "stained glass". What do you think?


Do you like the look?  I colored the aluminum with splashes of color - trying not to make too much mess!!!  You can see here the aluminum layer:

This combining silver with colored aluminum really goes a long way to satisfy my lust for bright colors.  It means I can still use the silver, but add color as a backing.

I'll look forward to wearing these at Grace on Sunday. I wonder if anyone will notice......

Monday, September 20, 2010

Beautiful Vermont!

By guest bloggers Marly and Angie from Studio 28.

We are here in Vermont, to take another course from a wonderful teacher and mentor, Celie Fago, and take in the beauty of this breathtaking part of the planet. Call it rejuvenation/inspiration for the soul.
A key part of our metal clay journey began here a mere two years ago when we took a lentil/Keum-boo workshop from Celie. Angie then had a further opportunity to learn with Celie at the PMC Conference later that year, when bronze was introduced to the market. It was all very exciting!
Below are some of the pieces made at Celie's courses.

Angie's lentils with Keum-boo

Marly's lentil front view

Marly's lentil back view

Angie's bronze pendant

Vermont is a beautiful place to visit. There is such commitment and pride in supporting artisans and their unique forms of expression, as well as the local farming community. It is a "foodie's" delight! There are amazing fruits and vegetables, mouthwatering cheeses, breads, crackers, chutneys, jams, maple syrup...shall we go on?! We managed to visit the Grafton Cheese Factory which began creating cheese in 1892. Talk about a sense of history! We also discovered that we were in the land of covered wooden bridges-there was even one at the cheese factory. We visited one of the longest covered wooden bridges in the United States, the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge as well as the Dummerston Covered Bridge.

Such beautiful country...stunning vistas, fascinating architecture...breathtaking and inspiring...

Now for the jewelry you read this, we will be in the middle of our learning with Celie. Stay tuned for our next post to find out what we created.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday's spotlight - Burghley House

By guest blogger Pete

Far down in the southernmost part of Lincolnshire can be found the large Elizabethan stately home of Burghley House. I didn't ever think I will be writing about Burghley House even as a passing comment in this blog but nevertheless here I am mentioning it as the main feature of this Sunday's writings.

Photo by Acradenia
I'll begin with a confession. Burghley House is a place that I have never visited. Having said that, or rather written it, it might well be a place worth visiting when Pam's sister, Ann, and her husband, Alan, visit us next year. Burghley House can be found about a mile from the major A1 road and close to the market town of Stamford.  It is a "Nirvana" of three days for horse lovers: For them it is a place that must be visited at least once a year.

I write "for horse lovers " because Burghley House and estate is a location for  the famous horse trials well-known throughout not only the U.K. but also the rest of Europe. The local Radio Lincolnshire provided some interesting bits of information about the event which recently took place.

Photo by ~Duncan~
 There are only four four-star horse trial event centres in the country and Burghley is one of them.

 Over the three days it attracts something in the region of 140,000 visitors.

A tented shopping mall of considerable size is a major part of the event. Many visitors use it for their Christmas shopping. It really is that large. I suppose they could argue that doing your shopping there isn't really avoiding the Christmas rush because many of things you'll find at Burghley will not be easily found elsewhere.

This year a local rider qualified to take part in the horse trials. Her stable borders the Burghley boundaries and she can see the House quite clearly from her home. She is one of the few who didn't have to struggle to find accommodation. However she did have to stable her horses within the Burghley estate even though their home stables are so close.  This is a requirement put in place to protect against drug abuse.

There is one jump on the course where the rider takes off in Lincolnshire and lands in Cambridgeshire.

Although the house was built for Queen Elizabeth the first it was never used by her because its completion came after her death.

Have you ever been there?