Thursday, August 31, 2017

Not so long ago in a Galaxy far, far away...

...I won a spot to participate in the August Art Elements blog hop!  Caroline Dewison, ceramic artist extraordinaire created awesome little iridescent blue & gold "galaxy beads" and shipped them over the big pond for me!  (Thank you!)

Even before I received the beads my creative cogs began turning.  First, I thought about using a donut focal for a simple necklace...but simple isn't really my M.O.  My next thought was to create a "Space Siren"...a come-hither beauty calling all astronauts into meteor belts only to crash their spaceships...or some such. As per usual I pulled a whole load of things that were good options and then obsessively checked my mailbox on the daily.

My poor empty mailbox...
Once the beads arrived I realized the face cab I originally pulled was definitely not the right I began searching again. Eventually I came across a polymer clay face Lindsay Starr gave me AGES ago...and it was PERFECT.  Now I will be honest here...It is not easy to change direction on a dime when you have this great idea you sold yourself on.  However, sometimes you have to let go and let the muse take you where it travels...even if in the midst of that journey you are lead off the main path.  That is pretty much what I did with this piece...I let go.

I immediately knew I wanted a stripy bezel but when I pulled gold Delica beads for this project I noticed that the gold used in Caroline's beads were a more realistic gold tone that your typical "gold color" beads.  So back into my stash o' awesomeness I went and pulled out a tube of Delicas I have had for pretty much as long as I can remember.  They are gold...REAL gold...24K gold to be exact and at the time I bought the wee tube (seriously wee tube), it was $8.00....I don't EVEN want to know how much they would be now.

I threw in some Eggplant and Navy Iris Delicas to match the little moon-girl's face and quickly had her ready to go!
I had also pulled some sweet little star cabs by Sue Kennedy that I just HAD to incorporate.  I didn't even intend to do it but 3 Art Elements blog contributors' work is incorporated in this piece!  After gluing and re-gluing said stars (insert incorrect glue mishap here) I traced around their shape with more of the stupidly expensive gold Delicas.

I took great amusement in the next series of pictures...they may not be great pictures but they definitely tell the story as I beaded...and beaded...and beaded...and beaded some more with Navy Iris size 15s.  (What was I thinking?!)  At one point I had these pics cropped and lined up in a row on my computer and could click thru them really fast and see the design grow! (It's all about the simple pleasures!)  I probably stabbed myself more times in the beading of this piece than I have in all my beading years...apparently working on this scale with 15s is a bit more hazardous than the norm!

The next step was to 'help' the empty space of the piece...I fretted over this some but finally decided to try rays of the gold beads and ended up with this:

When it came to backing this piece, I wanted to give it a little extra support since it is a bit floppy so I decided to put a piece of cardboard in-between the beadwork and the Ultra Suede.  I have to admit there is a part of me that finds the back of a beadwork piece beautiful (particularly on this one) - all that stitching...there is something more personal about that might be hidden to have a more finished look but there is beauty there...even on the "ugly" side.
When I glued down the moon-face cab, it was to the left of a large piece of Lacy's.  I thought I knew what I was going to do. Well, I ended up not giving myself a whole lot of room to work with on the left which mean that the piece was more elongated than cloud shaped.  Sometimes following the muse means you also have to adjust for limitations you might not have realized you put on yourself.  I also ran into strangeness after adding the fringe - the fringe distracted from the piece itself.  All the sudden there was a strange imbalance to the piece.  I loved everything about the fringe by itself...but it took away from all the work in the embroidered portion.
This is definitely the ugly duckling phase - though I am pretty sure that without starting entirely over on the fringe, it won't escape this phase.  All I can do is learn where I 'went wrong' and move on.

I think the biggest issue is that I added such large lampwork that it took over...I also think that the messier style of the fringe exacerbated the problem.  Had I left the messy fringe but eliminated the lampwork it would have worked far better. Now I have some hardcore decisions to make...either rip out the fringe and start over entirely (with very little time on the clock) or leave it as is.  Rip it, it is!  So...with only about 24 hours to go I removed the fringe putting me back to square 1ish.

Post ripping of fringe..."squid tails"!
Artists tend to surround themselves with other artists...they may not work in the same medium but they are "my people" and typically have a similar way of thinking.  I find that the more I surround myself with other artisans the more they influence my work.  In this case a good friend of mine, Kara Clouse of Iridescent Eye, was the one that prompted me to use the little gold stars.  She had some in silver for using in resin and they were PERFECT so I ran to the store and snapped up some gold stars and quickly reworked the fringe.

YAY!  I like this much better - I feel like the new fringe suits the piece and isn't so distracting.  Last but not least come the straps.  I felt like even though this piece was smooth in its creation - I didn't get too hung up on indecision like I have in the past, it was fraught with challenges.  I believe it turned out really well in the end, which I guess is the important thing.  I do find it rather interesting that stars have played such a role in life this month...including but not limited to seeing my first solar eclipse on the 21st. I hope you have enjoyed this journey with me - please make sure to hop to the other amazing artist's blogs to see what they created with these amazing galaxy beads!  And without further ado, here is my final completed piece:


Cheryl Zink
Kelly Rodgers -- Chewie, we're home!

Art Elements Team:

Diana Ptazynski

Cathy Spivey Mendola

Niky Sayers

Laney Mead

Susan Kennedy

Claire Fabian

Lesley Watt

Lindsay Starr

Caroline Dewison

Friday, August 4, 2017


Recently I caught a fascinating Facebook post/conversation instigated by Christi Friesen asking, "Why do you create or make things?" Such a seemingly simple question.  While I pondered how I would answer I realized that while most everyone has a good reason to create, it can be hard to express why - especially the deeper why.

In this post I want to explore a few of the reasons why *I* create but I want to also challenge you to ask yourself the same thing.  Be warned: This is a word-heavy post!  Art is not just a form of self expression but also a form of self exploration and when we dig deep to discover what makes us tick it can help us hone in on our journey and the future direction we want to take our work in.  This brings me to my first WHY:

1) Self-Expression/Exploration (Uniqueness)

I believe that every human being is unique and diversity is a great asset, however, looking at mainstream goods production would make you think otherwise.  For instance, the amount of mass produced every-one-looks-the-same jewelry out there is evidence that trends rule and that the masses flock to the same things.  This is why we have so many cheap jewelry stores with people's names in the title - I mean, who is Charlie anyway?

Personally, I enjoy having something no one else has.  This in part may be personality but I like big, you-can't-miss-me, you've-never-seen-anything-like-it jewelry.  I relish displaying my taste and if it is bold, funky and strange...fine by me!  But frankly, I generally can't afford one-of-a-kind jewelry for everyday life...leading me to my next reason:

2) Affordability

Okay so I realize that creating ISN'T cheap...and honestly if I spent as much money on unique jewelry as I did on beads I could probably afford some cool stuff.  However, there is a freedom in being able to take things in the world around us and create whatever our imagination concocts.  And even $150 in beads will create a necklace WORTH far more than that - time is money, people!

3) Boredom

Let's face it - we NEED to be doing things.  When I think back to how I began my beading journey boredom played a big part.  I was a high school freshman, I was bored, and had a cool beaded pansy necklace pattern for pony beads that I adjusted to suit seed bead bracelets, > plastic! Eek that was a long time ago!  I have found that beading fills and satisfies a certain area in my brain but I usually watch TV and bead because I need more than just 1 part "working".  I need things "going on" to get things done.  It's an extravert thing I guess.

4) Peace/Tranquility/Calm/Stress Relief

There are real physical benefits to creating.  Research has found that hobbies trigger Eustress (positive stress), lower blood pressure, help with depression, and even improve brain function!  There is a sense of peace, relaxation and happiness when you create - dopamine anyone?  So, the next time you have a horrid knot in your thread or a disastrous bead spill, don't throw in the towel - creating is good for you!  I call myself the idea girl - I can come up with ideas like crazy - more than I could ever create in my lifetime.  Actively creating focuses all your ideas on a single point - there may be many directions you can take but they are focused on the current project...and that can calm the storm raging in our heads.

5) Recognition

You might not want to admit it...but I will.  I take GREAT pleasure in being recognized for my work.  Sometimes this is a driving force, "I need to make something new so I can get more compliments". (Thought but never said!)  I will also throw in here that sometimes seeing other people's reaction to your strange necklace or weird design is amusing.  Either way, it's as if we wear our heart on our sleeve.  Art is deeply personal and in many cases reflects a part of who you are to others.  Humans love compliments and when you get one about something you made it helps validate what you spent valuable time on.

6) To Solve A Problem

I often need a necklace to compliment a particular outfit - how better to resolve this than to create something myself?  Almost like trying on jeans to find a pair that fits, finding the right jewelry can be a lengthy process.  When you make your own you don't have to go searching hoping to find the perfect thing.  For me, this is almost a lifestyle...when something breaks or a problem arises I often find alternative means of resolving the issue.  For instance, many years ago my car ran out of gas.  I had a gas can in my trunk so I walked to a gas station, filled it and returned...but then I had a bigger problem.  The gas can did not have a neck to extend into the would just pour gas down the side of my vehicle.  I looked around for help but all I had was an empty water bottle and a knife.  I cut the bottom out of the water bottle to create a funnel, stuck one end into the car and poured the gas in.  THIS is a creative solution to a problem.  Just call me McGuiver.

7) Financial Gain

This might be a reason you create - for the extra income...or it may be an outcome - because you have too many necklaces to wear yourself.  Either way, being creative can afford you anything from supplemental income to your entire income.  Thinking out of the box gives us the ability to address problems in a new innovative ways and that is a marketable skill!  This is why pricing is important...paying yourself a fair wage that still is a competitive.

8) Unexplainable Internal Drive

I think almost all of us would say that we create because "we have to".  I do think that we are made for a purpose and sometimes our purpose is this.  Artists are the color in between (and outside of) the lines of life.  There is something within us that urges us to make things and to color outside the be different and pay no attention to the rules.

While this is far from an exhaustive list, I hope this helps jumpstart your self-exploration into WHY you create.  Some of these may be a reason and some of them may be an outcome. out those reasons, find the direction they lead and pursue them!  And let me know...what other reasons are why you create?