Saturday, June 20, 2015

Louis Serafine: Inspired by her painting Art Bead Scene Editors Take the Challenge

                                                 Feuilles by Louis Seraphine
Every time I look at this beautiful painting by Louis Seraphine I become inspired again and again.  I have been making leaves all my artistic life, but nothing like these beauties.  I had to see more of her work so I rented the movie, Seraphine,  Heather Powers mentioned earlier this month and watched it over the last several days.
                                            Seraphine, the movie, available on Netflix

  It has a slow start and you don't see much of  her work until about 30 minutes into the movie. But you do see her gathering flowers to make her paints from, and collecting wax from the votive candles in her church as she often painted late into the night by candle light. She may have also used the wax to mix in with the pigments she made.  (I have not been able to verify this idea) From then on there is a great deal to see and a story that is both heroic and sad.

When I first saw this month's  Art Bead Scene Challenge painting I was especially taken with the idea of making leaves within leaves and so that is what I did.

                                  Ceramic Leaf in Blue and Yellow by Mary Harding
Ceramic Leaf in Red and Teal by Mary Harding

Ceramic Leaf in Yellow and Red by Mary Harding

Ceramic Leaf in Red , Blue and Black by Mary Harding

Ceramic Leaf in Blue and Yellow Green by Mary Harding

I cut out leaf shapes from ceramic clay and while the clay was still soft enough I incised lines of leaves into the clay, cleaned these up and fired the pieces.  Then I began the painting. I did not stick consciously to a palette but chose bright colors that I like and used them together. I only made these few leaves and some are  in my Etsy Shop.
After I made these pieces, I took a look at quite a few of her paintings and noticed that there was much more going on than just leaves.

Paintings by Louis Serafine

 I made a collage of these for you so you could have the same wonderful experience of looking into her work.  At times, it almost seems as if the leaves are moving.  Her work is a gift to us.  I am sad that she did not have a happier life.
Thank you for stopping by.  Be sure to check out what Heather Powers  made.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Art Bead Scene Editors Take the Challenge

Every morning for the past, at least 10 years, I have woken to this painting which hangs on a wall in our bedroom. I was fortunate to see it in the original when I traveled to The National Gallery in Ottawa, Canada for a major exhibition called Sol Y Vida Modern Mexican Art  1900-1950. That was in the Spring 2000.  We bought this giant poster at that time and sometime later my husband framed it.

                             When I think of Frida Kahlo, I think of big beads, big jewelry and flowers.

                Frida Kahlo, click for larger image
                                 Photograph of Frida Kahlo wearing some of her big bead jewelry

                      Photograph of Frida Kahlo wearing a necklace of big beads and large earrings

                         Photograph of Frida Kahlo with her jewelry and flowers in  her hair

Today the Art Bead Scene Editors are taking the Challenge and sharing with you some of their work inspired by Friday Kahlo and her paining Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. First I am going to  some very large beads I  made at least 10 years ago
      Frida Kahlo inspired beads by Mary Harding--each bead is a least 1 -1 1/2 inches long

              A necklace I made at about the same time using some of these very big beads

Slipping back into the present, I made a few very big flowers for this post:

                                         bisque fired ceramic big flower beads

     Large flower beads glazed and the final firing.  The two white ones have been tumbled to smooth out some of the edges .

When I thought very specifically about the painting, I  focused on the butterflies resting on Frida's hair and made several butterfly toggle clasps reflecting her use of  black and white -- in the painting they are made to look like lace.  I used some lace netting that I had to create the background for the black and white butterfly toggle clasps:

Butterfly Toggle Clasp inspired by Frida Kahlo's painting Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird

I choose to combine the delicacy of the lacy butterfly with the rigid  toggle bar as a reference to her early bus accident that cause her life long pain and confined her to a metal corset for much of her life.

Now let's see what the others have made:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Winter Blues Breaker

  After spending much of the coldest February in history inside the house and not going to my studio,i.e temps hardly every climbing about 0 degrees and sinking much lower at night--about -20 degrees F- -30 degrees F, I was thrilled when my friend  Mary Ann Evans contacted me for an Art Party in her ceramic studio!! What a great to combat the winter blues!!  

The  party began with a gourmet lunch prepared by MaryAnn:  a delicious cheddar and jalapeno dip, a salad with raw veggies, feta cheese and a yummy balsamic dressing, fish baked with fresh herb, a spicy soup  and fresh fruit and homemade cookies for desert!! Wow!!  Then this delightful group of 6 artists moved into MaryAnn's  wonderful, warm, bright ceramic studio. 

 She had set up tables covered with heavy canvas mats,

pugged some wonderful porcelain clay

                       made us a delicious bowl of slip,

 put out supplies and pots for us to decorate

And set us free!!
The stereo was playing and MaryAnn was at the wheel ready to give us each a lesson in throwing a pot. 

 As the beat of Bruno Mars' Uptown Funk flowed, some of us put down our clay work and danced! 
Together and making art, we were all joyful, happy, and breaking out of the winter blues.

What we made has been captured in this collage--not all the pieces made it to the end of the session!!!
from top left:  Sally Hartman; Mary Ann Evans; Melanie Kimbler; Ethel Slocum; Mary HardingKaran Marie Cross

The afterglow of the party has been following all of us around and everyone is madly back at work in our  home studios and miraculously, the weather has broken and Spring is just about here!!!

Thank you so much Mary Ann!!!!

Part of this post is reposted from my Inside the Studio post on ArtBeadScene.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Inspired by Reading Book Club: Into the Wild January Selection


Our selection this month, Into the Wild, is a sad story of an idealistic young man.  I tried to focus on the positive aspects of what Chris McCandless attempted to do when he gave away his money, cut ties with the materialistic world and embarked on adventure.

I chose several quotes from his journal as inspiration and created a piece of jewelry that he might have worn, or at least, summed up for me the purpose of his life.
I was especially taken by his quotation from Thoreau at the beginning of Chapter 6
 "No man ever followed his genius till it misled him.  Though the result were bodily weakness, yet perhaps no one can say that the consequences were to be regretted, for these were a life in conformity to higher principles.  If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal,--that is your success.  All nature is you congratulation, and you  have cause momentarily to bless yourself."    Henry David Thoreau, Walden or Life in the Woods
This  passge was highlighted in one of the books found with Chris McCandless's remains.

Here is what I made:  Two pendants strung on leather cord.  I made the pendants on steel forms that I had on hand and used soft solder to give everything a rustic look a la Stephanie Lee's Homesteader's Metalsmithing Revamped OnLine course

I used this map of Alaska cut out for the 2nd pendant because it seemed that McCandless believed that the key to his search lay :  in the wild of Alaska

On the back of the pendant with the map  cutout I put these words from Thoreau to sum up what McCandless was attempting to do.

This pendant is supposed to represent where McCandless felt the answer to his mission lay--  in the woods of  Alaska.

                                                       The necklace assembled.

Please visit the other blogs where participants posted their take on the book.  You can find them at our Facebook Page HERE

Friday, January 09, 2015

The Winners of My Giveaway ARE....

Congratulations ShellyKatsh  and Ashar Gems!!! You each have won one of my Adirondack Heritage Toggle Clasp Wrist Wrap Bracelet Kit.  I will be contacting you for your mailing addresses.
Thanks to all who participated: for your kind comments about my work and the paintings of Judith Utter.  Your feedback is inspiring and so appreciated!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Inspired by a Fish: Toggle Clasp Giveaway

Adirondack Heritage Brook Trout c. Judith Utter

Today I would like to introduce you to my friend, Natural Science artist Judith Utter.  She painted the Adirondack Heritage Brook Trout pictured above as well as many other plants and fish of the Adirondack and St. Lawrence Valley region of New York State.  She considers herself a naturalist and an environmentalist.  Her work reflects these themes.  

I was so taken with the colors of Judith Utter's painting of the Adirondack
Brook Trout that I have created a series of toggle clasps and a tutorial to celebrate its beauty.
To further acquaint you with Judith Utter's work, I am having a giveaway of one of my Adirondack Heritage Wrist Wrap kits.  Each kit includes one of the toggle clasps I made with the palette of Judith Utter's painting, 2 yards of Leather Lace, and a printout of the directions for making this bracelet, pictured below.
Adirondack Heritage Wrist Wrap Bracelet by Mary Harding
The Tutorial for this bracelet is being posted on ArtBeadScene today.

There will be 2 winners.  To enter leave a comment below about Judith's work and be sure to leave a way of being contacted  in case you win.  You can further your chances of winning by "liking" Judith Utter's Facebook page and leaving another comment letting me know you did. 

To increase your chances of winning even more, you can
Share on your favorite social media and come back and leave additional comments for each share

Toggle Clasps I made inspired by Judith Utter's painting Adirondack Heritage Brook Trout
                               some of these are available in my Etsy shop

More examples of Judith Utter's work in her Etsy Shop



Legumes featuring Dragon Tongue BOTANICAL PRINT

And on her website you can see the full range of the Giclee prints she offers for sale--a few examples below

Beta vulgaris

Lilium longiflorum

Ilex meserveae

As you can see, Judith creates beautiful watercolors of the plants and wild life of the Northern New York region.  I hope you have enjoyed meeting Judith and will follow her work on Facebook and her website.

Thanks so much for stopping by. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

ArtBeadScene Editors Take the Challenge Blog Hop: December

Choir of Sint-Bawokerk by Pieter Jansz Saenedam

This month some of the ArtBeadScene Editors are taking the Challenge for December and having a blog hop.
I enjoy a challenge but I must admit this month's painting, Choir of Sint-Bawokerk,  pictured above, has been difficult for me and has taken me way out of my comfort zone.  I looked at this painting a long time before I came up with an idea.  I decided to focus on the many arches that make up this painting.  I even made a drawing of the the shape I perceived-- inverted and reshaped a bit.

I made the sketch on an envelope handy on  my computer desk and then copied and resized it both larger and smaller on my printer/scanner.

Once in my studio I began to render it both in polymer clay and copper.  For technical help with the polymer version, I am indebted to my two master teachers, Claire Maunsell and Christine Damm who have taught me everything of the little I know about this amazing material.  I made a very large pendant in the polymer and used the burgundy brown in the painting for the color inspiration.
Polymer Clay pendant by Mary Harding

 The pendant measures 4 inches tall and 4 inches wide.  I envision it used in a freeform peyote stitch piece I might make in the future where it will fit in despite its large size.  I know to pull that off I will be again very challenged.  But I always learn so much when I travel unknown terrain and am grateful that our Editor in Chief at Art Bead Scene, Heather Powers, continues to encourage us to participate  in these adventures.

I tried a smaller version of my sketch in copper and envision these to become earrings.
jewelry components inspired by the ABS Dec. painting

I went out doors early this morning and picked some Holly and styled my large polymer pendant with a seasonal flair to wish you all Happy Holidays and an enjoyable, or at least doable winter!!

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I hope this post will encourage you to participate in this month's ArtBeadScene Challenge.( the particulars for entering are below)  You can see what the other editors made too.  The list follows:

How to enter the Monthly Challenge:
1. You need to have a Pinterest account. Go get one ASAP if you don't have one already. It's easy, fun and inspiring. 
2. Email us at to get added to the monthly challenge board.
Subject: Monthly Challenge Board Request
Indicate if you want to be added to the Jewelry Board, Bead Board or both.
You will be emailed an invite to the board within 48 hours. Accept the invite and you are ready to pin your entries.
3. Two ways to pin your entry to the board.
Pin your photo from the internet (on your blog, Etsy shop, etc.) 
Add your photo directly from your computer

Create something using an art bead that fits within our monthly theme. We post the art to be used as your inspiration to create. This challenge is open to jewelry-makers, fiber artists, collage artist, etc. The art bead can be created by you or someone else. The challenge is to inspire those who use art beads and to see all the different ways art beads can be incorporated into your handiwork. 
An Art Bead must be used in your piece to qualify for the monthly challenge.
***Beads strung on a chain, by themselves and beads simply added to wire or cord will not be accepted.***
Please add the tag or title DEC ABS to your photos. Include a short description, who created the art beads and a link to your blog, if you have one.
Deadline is October 31stPhotos are approved by our moderators, if a photo hasn't followed the guidelines it will not be approved. You may upload 2 entries per month.

• Beads Makers Pinterest Board-Art beads must be created by you and fit the Art Bead Scene's monthly challenge theme. They can be made for the challenge or ones you have made before. 2 entries per month are allowed. 
One entry will be picked by the editors on the 28th of each month for a free month of advertising on the Art Bead Scene. Bead entries have to be pinned by the 27th of the month.
Beads only - do not post jewelry on this board. If a post doesn't fit the challenge it will be deleted.

What is an Art Bead?
An art bead is a bead, charm, button or finding made by an independent artist. Art beads are the vision and handiwork of an individual artist. You can read more about art beads here.

***A bead that is handmade is not necessarily an art bead. Hill Tribe Silver, Kazuri ceramic beads or lampwork beads made in factories are examples of handmade beads that are not considered art beads.
Beaded beads, stamped metal pendants or wire-wrapped components are not considered art beads for our challenge.***

p.s. If you have a blog, post your entry and a link to the ABS challenge to spread the beady goodness.

Raku Bead Video Part III