Monday, November 29, 2010

Silver Collage Pendant Workshop

Written by guest blogger Marly Penner at Studio 28

I've always loved collage. Whether it was tearing up watercolors I didn't like, or working with a variety of Japanese washi papers, I became mesmerized by the task of arranging and rearranging bits of paper and color to make a pleasing composition. When I first began working with metal clay, I was instantly drawn to the possibility of making collages of texture. The process I was taught involved texturing small pieces of clay and laboriously attaching each piece to a dried base of metal clay. I was delighted when an idea I had of making a textured paper plate actually worked and I was able to create a collage of textures with one simple roll. Last week, I taught my first workshop using this technique and was excited to see such beautiful results from our students!

The first step in this process is to create a small plate of textured papers. Any kind of textured papers can be used. Plasticized textured wallpapers work well along with many types of textured plastic, sandpaper, tear-away textures, as well as textured Japanese washi papers.

Here are examples of finished texture plates created in the workshop

The next step is to oil the texture plates really well in order that the metal clay will take on the textures without sticking to the paper texture plate!

Rose's very first "roll" in metal clay! Beautiful!

Everyone in the workshop had great success in creating a one-of-a-kind textures in metal clay by rolling it on the texture plate they created. Now they would have to wait until the next afternoon to see how their clay creations had magically transformed to beautiful fine silver through kiln firing. Now it was time to learn how to use the rotary tools and patina to finish their pendants and earrings.

Dipping jewelry into liver of sulphur to add a patina that will highlight the textures

And the finished results...drum roll please!!!!

Wow! Angie and I were so pleased to see the amazing jewelry created by our students who had never worked with metal clay before! Very exciting for everyone! We always have so much fun introducing people to the wonderful creative possibilities of metal clay and seeing their enthusiasm when they leave the studio with such beautiful creations.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday's spotlight - Goings on in Lincoln


There are some quite strange things gong on in Lincoln  at the present moment.  I'm not claiming that Lincoln is unique with strange "goings on"; doubtless other urban - and even rural - communities encroach upon the strange and unusual from time to time.

My morning ablutions are invariably accompanied by Radio Lincolnshire.  On weekdays the early morning programmes are, until 9 a.m., devoid of music and instead the listeners are kept up to date with such important things as the cricket test scores from Australia and one or two less important matters!

Photo by Foto43
This week it was announced that the city fathers are introducing a special Christmas Guide to the city. "In what way "special"?" you may ask.  If you didn't ask this then perhaps you'd prefer to ignore the rest of the paragraph and go on to the next one.  Well, in keeping with the Christmas festive season this guide (paper variety rather than human) is being imbibed with the scent of mulled wine!!!!!!!  If you come across any bleary eyed citizens wandering aimlessly around the city then it will probably be a safe bet to assume that they've been reading that new guide and haven't been frequenting any place of adult potential intoxication.

Photo by MiqsPix
Readers of last week's blog (thanks for being there!) will recall that when writing about the Christmas Market and how early the shops begin to sell Christmas goods that I remarked that I wouldn't be surprised to find Easter eggs on sale already somewhere in the city.

Well, on  Tuesday I was sitting on a seat in Lincoln's High Street (pedestrianized so no danger from traffic!) waiting for Pam to finish a spot of shopping (surprise!!!!!) when my eyes were attracted by an unusual poster advertisement.  It was advertising the services of "Western Union" and their ability to transfer funds on behalf of their customers.  All straight forward until your eyes take in some of the detail and then you read "make some one's Easter egg complete"!!!!  There you are.  I told you that there were some strange Easter goings on in the city.

I hesitate to say that Lincoln's Cathedral is the best in the country but I do agree with John Betjman when he remarked. "Lincoln may not be the best Cathedral in the land but its definitely worth any two of the others!".

Photo by chapmankj75

Recently the Dean and Chapter decided that the old - nay, "the very old" -Victorian paving stones that lead visitors to the Cathedral entrance should be raised and reset in a more stable and level fashion.  No need for the expense of new slabs.  The Victorians certainly knew not only how to make them but also how to make them last.

The authorities weren't over surprised to find that there were stone coffins, dating back many centuries, under these slabs.  For some time it has been believed that there was a Christian Church on the site long before the actual Cathedral was built and that much of the present Cathedral Close was part of this Church's graveyard.

Stone coffins unearthed at Cathedral Entrance

Now one of the graves exposed had been cut in half by one of the outside walls of the 10th century Lincoln Cathedral.  That could only point to one thing.  That particular grave was in situ BEFORE the Cathedral was built, thus giving more credence to the possibility of a pre 10th Century Church somewhere under the Cathedral itself.

Makes you think, doesn't it?  Well, it certainly makes me think.  Not that I suppose we'll ever know for sure unless someone demolishes the Cathedral and finds the foundations of that earlier church.

Next week sees the beginning of the annual Lincoln Christmas Market.  Don't know if we'll be going on Thursday evening or not yet.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Weekly Bird in the Hand

As this week was Thanksgiving in the US, it was nice to read other people's equivalent of my "bird in the hand" on their blogs and facebook.  I'm pleased I introduced this weekly "bird in the hand" blog post as a way to record the things I am grateful each week.  It does make you think...and look for new things each week. I highly recommend it - once you start focusing on the things you are grateful and thankful for, you just keep finding more and more!

I found this lovely quotation this week about gratitude by Melody Beattie.  I like it:

        "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.   It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

My weekly 'bird in the hand' is the usual odd collection:
  • almonds - I use a lot of ground almonds in my cooking as I can't eat wheat and other grains. This week I did some baking and gosh - they are just so yummy!
  • blankets to snuggle under when it's not quite warm enough in the house - or even when it is warm enough but you still enjoy being under a blanket
  • the first frost of the season - seeing all the garden with it's white tinge
  • the squeeze of a home grown fresh lime in your drink
  • having time to meet up with friends for a late lunch
  • Robson Green - one of my favorite actors - I just saw yet another of his films
  • having a cup of coffee only because you want to warm your hands
I hope your week has been full of good things too.

    Friday, November 26, 2010

    Merry Go Round - How to take care of your metal clay jewelry

    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 topic is : How to care for your art - information for buyers.

    Here are few suggestions for you, that will also apply to other silver jewelry you may have. 

    Cleaning/ Removing Tarnish
    Most of my work is made in fine silver - 99.9% silver.  Fine silver tarnishes a lot slower than sterling silver, so the good news is that caring for your fine silver jewelry doesn't take as much time as caring for your sterling silver jewelry! All silver will however tarnish in time so here are a few different methods you can use to clean up tarnished fine silver (these are also applicable for sterling silver):

    1. Wash your jewelry in soap and water and a soft cloth. Dry thoroughly.
    2. Add a little baking soda to a cup of water and wash the piece in this. You can use a soft brush or cloth to get the tarnish off. Dry thoroughly.
    3. Use a sunshine polishing cloth or other commercial silver cleaning cloth to wipe your piece of jewelry.

    What NOT to use for cleaning my jewelry:
    Most of my pieces of jewelry incorporate a little patina to show up the three dimensionality or details of the piece.  This is the black colored part - for example the darkened foot prints in the bracelet shown below.  If you use a commercial silver cleaner dip, that will remove all the patina from your piece, as well as the tarnish and so the footprints wouldn't show up very clearly. So don't use a silver cleaner dip or liquid on piece that has patina on it.

    However, silver cleaner dip is excellent for cleaning sterling silver chains - so feel free to use it for chains.  Rinse well afterwards and dry thoroughly.

    Delaying Tarnishing
    To delay tarnishing even further, place either tarnish tabs, chalkboard chalk, or dessicant packs in the box or container that holds your jewelry. Tarnish tabs are small squares of paper that are treated to stop your silver tarnishing. They are made by 3M and you can get them at a variety of places including this Etsy store.

      Dealing with Scratches on your silver

      Bracelets get a lot of wear and tear - more than any other piece of jewelry, I think.  They are constantly hitting tables and hard surfaces, and this can lead to little scratches on the surface.  When I make bracelets, I always enclose a little care package with the bracelet so the owner can get rid of little scratches.  The care package includes two small squares of 3M sanding pads.  To use these pads, first  rub the red colored pad over your piece of jewelry to remove the scratches.  Then repeat with the blue colored pad.  This should remove the surface scratches but still maintain a matt finish on your piece.

      Another way to get rid of scratches if the piece, like most of mine, has a satin or matt finish, is to rub the silver will with some fine steel wool. This will maintain the matt finish but take out the scratches.  Always try on the back of the piece first to make sure it isn't too rough/coarse.

      I hope this will help you keep your jewelry from Birdland Creations looking like it was when you first bought it. If you have any questions on caring for your jewelry, please feel free to ask.

      To learn what the other members of the merry go round team suggest to take care of the art that they create, 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.

      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 -
      Mitsy at ArtMind - unable to join in this month -

      Wednesday, November 24, 2010

      Master Muse Challenges

      I'm just working on my last master muse project at the moment.  Can't tell you anything about it yet as it is a surprise, but I like it!  The idea of it makes me smile so I hope it will do the same for you too!

      I've really enjoyed being part of the master muse team. Every other month we have been given a challenge to use a new material or different technique and invariably it has been something I haven't tried before.  It takes time to learn the new technique first and I always tend to make a few different designs before I finally come up with the final project that I then write a step by step project for. 

      Hugh the Chameleon - my resin master muse challenge.

      You'll see the previous challenges in the side bar of my blogspot blog..and in a few weeks my new one will appear.

      The step by step projects are or will be available for sale on Whole Lotta Whimsy and summaries of the new projects by different artists come up just about every week on Tonya's blog. In fact, Donna Pennoyer's latest project is up today using bottle caps and prismacolor pencils.

      Donna's necklace. Photo by Drew Davidson
      Next year there will be a whole new group of artists to keep the challenges going. I look forward to seeing what they all come up with and what their challenges will be.  I've loved the opportunity and the way it's pushed me in new directions. Thanks so much Tonya, for including me.

      Tuesday, November 23, 2010

      Meditative concert this Sunday

      My women's quintet, Vajra Voices, is singing a meditative vespers service this Sunday in Petaluma. It begins at 5pm at St John's Episcopal Church.  The medieval music is very contemplative and this time, some of our pieces will be accompanied by a harp and vielle.  Here are the details.

      A Medieval Vespers
      Contemplative Music of Hildegard von Bingen
      and Polyphony from the 12th c. St. Martial Manuscripts
      Sunday, November 28, 2010, 5 o’clock pm
      Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Petaluma, California
      Vajra Voices
      Ruth Baillie, Lindsey McLennan, Joyce Todd McBride, Celeste Winant
      Karen Clark, Director
      with Cheryl Ann Fulton, harp,  and Roy Whelden, vielle

      The majority of the music is by Hildegard von Bingen.  A German film about her life is currently showing in the US in a few movie theaters. I haven't had a chance to see it yet, but hope to soon. It's called "Vision". 

      If you are in the Bay Area, it would be great to see Sunday at 5pm.  

      Monday, November 22, 2010

      The joys of dyeing

      I bought some new aluminum dyes recently so was making a couple up this morning.  The turquoise was different from the others as you had to combine a couple of chemicals with I started making it up, but then had trouble opening the little sachet.  As there was liquid in it - that made it stick closed so I was fiddling and .....

      Yes, unlike the other dyes, I have now found out that the turquoise is actually excellent at dyeing skin!!!  None of the other dyes have ever stained my skin but this one is an expert at it! These photos are taken after I've been washing, scrubbing, trying acetone etc etc!! 

      I guess I'll just have to wear turquoise today if I go out so that at least I match my fingers!! Who needs rings when you can just dye your fingers - much more eye catching, don't you think???

      Hmmm.... Maybe gloves next time :=D

      Sunday, November 21, 2010

      Sunday's Spotlight - Christmas comes a little early in Lincoln


      As I sit down to write this blog -- Thursday afternoon -- I've been down to town this morning and, not for the first time, have seen how the shops anticipate Christmas by so large a margin. I reckon that if you looked around carefully enough you would even be able to find Easter eggs on sale somewhere!

      All photos by jig o'dance

      Lincoln is preparing itself for its annual Christmas market. This is no small "hole in the wall" affair. It is the largest open-air Christmas market in the country. It begins on a Thursday  evening and ends on the Sunday evening covering the first weekend of December. Special train and bus excursions are run to it from all over the country and Darnstadt, with whom the city is twinned, always exports a goodly number of stalls as well.

      The authorities this year have stated that all the stores must have a definite Christmas theme with stall holders dressing in costumes from that period.  In previous years this maxim has been relaxed a little too much but it has now been reintroduced and will add greatly to the atmosphere of the Market.

      On Thursday, December 2nd the Dean of the cathedral and the Mayor of Lincoln will formally open the market.  Entertainment throughout the four days of the event is abundant. This year we even have a theatre company presenting various Christmas tales to entertain our visitors. Local choirs will also be in attendance singing various carols and festive songs to add to the atmosphere. If you have a secret longing to appear on BBC television then Lincoln's Christmas market is the place to come to.


      The first night of the market, Thursday, 2 December, is the time when most of the Lincoln residents who want to attend go. This is done not in the belief that they can snaffle all the bargains on offer but stems from the realisation, through experience, that the first evening is the only time when numbers will be reasonable and you won't have "to go with the flow". The market opens at 10 am on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday - closing at 10 pm - and the crowds flock to uphill Lincoln to take part in this event. The locals who live in the vicinity or who are helping with one of the stalls make up the main local attendance for these three days.


      Father Christmas ( the real one) will be there and he takes up residence in the Judges' Lodgings, which is in Castle Square with the castle at one end and the Cathedral at the other. Father Christmas is really spoilt because he meets his young visitors, and also the not so young visitors, by the fireside in that building.   Everyone else has to freeze in the cold outside. We seem to get dry weather for our Christmas market every year but we never know when that spell will end.

      If you live locally and would like to come then do so because I'm sure you will enjoy the experience. If you want more information then log on to

      Saturday, November 20, 2010

      Weekly Bird in the Hand

      Photo by Joyseph  
      Here's my weekly bird in the hand - the things I'm grateful for:
      • A happy chatty parrot when we came home.  Harold seemed so excited to see us!
      • Getting back into singing after my few weeks off
      • The sunshine and warmth when we got back to northern CA (- which has since changed to rain and cooler temps...but never mind!)
      • A good week of sales of jewelry
      • The wonderful news of my friend being pregnant - Congratulations F and M!
      • The wonderful news of two of my friends getting engaged - Congratulations E and D!
      By cupcakes for clara

      Friday, November 19, 2010


      I made a couple of simple pendants today in anodized aluminum.  I am so enjoying trying different techniques of printing and dyeing the aluminum. 

      I thought these two were happy cheery flowers for a wet afternoon in CA.

      And yes, I am still doing silverwork. I was up in my studio today working on four separate pieces...but more on those later.

      Hope you like my bloomin' flowers and that they brighten up your day!

      Thursday, November 18, 2010

      Inner Beauty

      I'm home again and have got right back into some anodized aluminum work.

       This new cuff is called "Inner Beauty"  - named by my sister.  You may remember I did a bangle like it  called "It takes guts"  where all the drawings are biologically based. At first glance, you don't see what the drawings are but on closer examination, maybe you can see different cells, villi and microvilli, nuclei, endoplasmic reticulum...... It's all about our insides and thus the name!

      Instead of a bangle that is riveted together, this is a simple cuff made with thicker aluminum so that it holds it's shape.

      It has a matt finish to it which I really like.  I have a few more in progress to show you over the next couple of days....

      Win a pair of my flower earrings today

      There is a chance to win a pair of my flower ear-thread earrings "The earth laughs in flowers" today on Dawanda.  It is part of their Christmas market with a different prize to win each day. 


      All you need to do is make a wishlist of things you would like on Dawanda and send it to family or friends and you will get  entered into the raffle to win the earrings, valued at $80. 

      Raffle prize on Dawanda
      Good luck! Hope you win! Go to the Dawanda Christmas Market to enter. And if not today, keep an eye out for the other prizes that come up everyday.

      Wednesday, November 17, 2010

      A sight to behold to welcome us home

      We arrived back in England - to warm weather and a wonderful greeting from a covey of quails.  Yes, Quentin and his buddies were in the back garden. There were more than 20 of them running around, looking for food....or maybe they were checking on us???


      And along with Quentin, it seemed the vineyard was welcoming us back with it's lovely show of autumn colors.  Different grape varietals go different colors in autumn, so it's a lovely time to drive around and try to guess which grape is producing the red leaves or the yellow or the.....

      Here's our Merlot:

      It's good to be home.

      Tuesday, November 16, 2010

      The beauty of leaves

      I have been amazed at the number of leaves that have fallen from the plane trees outside of where we are staying.  The numbers seem incredible and they have been gather on the pavement below many inches deep.  The council have been around and collected them up - but then the next day there seems to be just as many.  They are the sort of crisp, big brown leaves that you want to kick up and crunch through! To be honest, I would have quite liked to just roll in them -but it was a bit grubby and damp so not the best thing to do!

      Then I went for a short walk to get a newspaper and saw this wonderful little bit of street art made from the leaves:


      The edging leaves have all been cut precisely and the center hexagon has each leaf perfect aligned.  They are stuck to the paving stones just by the wetness on the stones.  I just love it.

      And I love the idea of someone taking the time to create their bit of art in the street using a medium (leaves) that was all around them.

      Monday, November 15, 2010

      Bronze Cuff Bracelet

      BY GUEST BLOGGER ANGIE from studio 28

      I recently completed a cuff bracelet in FASTfire BRONZclay. I've wanted to do a cuff in bronze for about a year now after having unsuccessfully attempted one in traditional BRONZclay. Really what better time than the present? As I looked over and saw Marly diligently working away creating some beautiful pieces with Hadar's Quick-fire Bronze and Copper clay for our upcoming shows, I was inspired to use some FASTfire BRONZclay to finally realize my goal of making a bronze cuff. Working with the Fast Fire bronze was extremely warping, crinkling or cracking as it was drying! Such a different experience that that of a year ago with the traditional bronze.

      The final product turned out looking like this...

      HOORAY! I was especially thrilled since my first cuff attempt last year in traditional BRONZclay came out of a double kiln firing this...yes, VERY sad!

      After its first full firing I patched some of the cracks which appeared, refired it and voilĂ -it cracked right down the centre! Frustrated to no end, I packed away the two halves and decided to try it again...someday!

      Well, that day finally came and I am VERY pleased. Working with the FASTfire bronze was a truly joyful experience! It rolled, took texture, formed and dried beautifully. I carefully nested it in its bed of carbon, said a prayer, did a dance to the kiln gods, and waited...somewhat patiently! I did hold my breath as I took it out of the carbon after firing and breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when I unburied it. Phew!

      So, hats off to FASTfire BRONZclay...I am a groupie! Now, back to finishing off pieces for our shows..speaking of shows, I think I'll be wearing this bronze cuff to them!