Sunday, February 24, 2008

New Jewelry

I have been doing a lot of beading lately, perhaps because it is so cold and going out to heat up my studio for clay seems daunting many days.

I have been experimenting with thinner bracelets in peyote to see if they could look nice. I ususally do cuffs but I am very happy with this one and another one I am almost finished with.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fun in the Sun Stringing Magazine Challenge

In January Stringing Magazine ran a challenge titled Fun In the Sun. I entered a bracelet that I made with my ceramic Fiesta Beads and Melanie of Earthenwood Studio handmade porcelain snack charms. I guess being outside and eating outside are two of my favorite summer activities.

You can visit the Stringing Magazine site where all of the entries are featured with a photo. A winner will be picked by the public. Anyone can vote on a favorite. Feel free to cast a vote for my piece if you like it.

Stringing Magazine posts the following about the contest:

Fun in the Sun Stringing Challenge Gallery
About the challenge: The challenge theme was "Fun in the Sun" Stringing publishes stringing and simple wirework designs.
Voting: Voting ends March 12, 2008.
In the spirit of fairness and friendly competition, please vote only once and from only one e-mail address.

They have already posted their next challenge which is called: Channeling Cinderella

Entries are due to no later than May 16, 2008. Voting will be held between May 30 and June 30. To enter send a clear, high-resolution TIF(better) or JPEG (good) photo that is 300dpi at 3"x5".

Foremost Focal Featured Artist

I am excited to announce that I the current Featured Artist on the website of Foremost Focal. They have a long article about me and are carrying an assortment of my handmade ceramic pendants and beads. You can read about it by clicking the Foremost Focal link above.
Here is an excerpt from the article.

Mary has been making artwork for most of her adult life. She began making ceramic beads and pendants in 1998 when she had the good fortune to take a ceramic class with Ann Burnham and renew her ceramic skills. Soon, Mary was continuously engaged by the excitement of each new kiln load of beads. She was first inspired at that time by the need for larger holed beads for the macramé jewelry she was designing. However, after seeing ancient beads in museums and on a trip to Mexico, she began to experiment with glazes and stains that would create the look of an archeological find.Out of this search she became very committed to using stains and smoke, along with some commercial glazes to color her beads and pendants. Mary feels that too much colored glaze removes the presence of the clay from the bead and no longer draws the eye into the clay to experience it. The viewer needs to enjoy the many nuances of surface, texture and aleatory (unpredictable) markings. She uses earthenware and porcelain clay fired at low temperatures to keep the clay open to receiving these stains, colorings and smoke.Mary’s artistic influences have been such masters as John Cage, Marguerite Duras and Freda Kahlo and the folk artists she researched in Northern New York and Mexico. She grew up in the Southwest which has certainly had a lasting influence on her love for southwestern and central American art. Moving to New York State fulfilled a wish to live in a land with green meadows and lots of water. Her recent work of gathering the plants of the pastures of northern New York to decorate her ceramic pendants is a form of folk history that she has imaginatively interpreted by making colorful renderings of these resilient green beauties. (to read the rest please go to Foremost Focal.)

Foremost focal was recently written up on ArtBeadScene. In this article you get a good overview of this wonderful site that features only handmade glass and ceramic focals and beads. They also offer suggestions for other kinds of beads that would go well with their focals. The site is run by Chris Thommen who is located in Michigan.

Winterlude for a Beader Part II

Clearly the winter weather continues up here in the Northeast. But oh so beautiful on sunny days. I took the photo above when I was snowshoeing this week. I was standing on the river which is now frozen completely.

My third winterlude class was with my friend Cait Throop, who is an amazing weaver. The class I took is called Triangle weave. This class intrigued me because I love all the new fibers but don't really know how to knit, crochet (beyond making bracelets) or weave. Here was a chance to spend the day with a great friend and some wonderful fibers. She was so kind to make a trip to the fiber shop to help me pick out what I needed. I chose some lovely shades of burgundys and had a wonderful day with Cait, the other students and some great fibers.

The photo below is at the beginning and gives you a good look at the triangle looms that we used. She likened them to the potholder looms we (some of us) used as children. And indeed the technique is similar.

The pattern we used is called a Log cabin pattern but it doesn't show up much in mine because of the colors I chose. Below is a photo of another student's piece that shows off that pattern nicely. I like the caotic pattern of mine quite a lot too.

Below you can see a photo of mine almost finished. We all finished our scarves before the class ended so we could take them home and wear them. I am really happy with my piece. It is warm and pretty to wear. I am planning to add some beads to the fringe at some point.

Cait is now teaching this class at the St. Lawrence County Arts Council.

Winter footsteps. Windswept.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Winterlude for A Beader

Near where I live the college has a special name for that time between Christmas Vacation and the beginning of the second semester. They call it Winterlude and offer classes that students would not ordinarily take.

This winter I seemed to need a Winterlude and took some jewelry related classes that I would not ordinarily take either. In December I was invited to participate in an ornament making class at our local arts council. We made lovely ornaments out of plated silver wire and beads. It was fun to be a student. In fact it was very relaxing and I had a great time and used my new wire working skills to make some cool presents for family members and friends. My winterlude has continued on into January when I got together with a few friends, Sally Hartman, Vlema Bolyer and Kim Klatt to learn how to fuse pure silver wire. What fun.

Up until that time I was leary or more accurately afraid of torches. But that little baby is such fun to use I could hardly stop myself from making more and more. The thrill of watching the little ball of silver jump up the wire, and the excitement of watching the thicker wire turn molten and then magically fuse was addictive. I had to stop when I was getting my tab too high, as that wire is expensive.

Here is the set up with a small micro torch, safety glasses, and a heat proof surface in a cookie sheet to work on and prevent drops of red hot silver.

Here I am trying to heat a piece of wire and make a ball on the end of it.

I probably won't have much luck as this was copper wire we used for the picture because I didn't think of taking the pics until we were almost all packed up. When the wire is pure silver little round drops form on the wire and grow by jumping up the wire. We did a number of these for head pins as seen the the next picture.

They make very elegant findings, and despite the high cost of fine silver wire they are still economical to make.

Then we learned how to hammer and shape the silver ring above into a very chic

pair of earrings using the head pins we made to wirewrap a bead for each loop.

Our helper for learning to make these fine silver findings was Kim Klatt who is a great jewelry maker in her own right, and a superb teacher.

Our hostess for the day, and some more days planned for the future is Isis, a wonderful spinner and weaver and owner of a new pup named Casper.

Thank goodness for Caspar and for this wonderful day making fine silver findings.

Raku Bead Video Part III