A (somewhat) daily rambling on the life of a polymer Clay metal clay and Fused Glass artist/teacher/author.

Very soon my blog will move to my website...as soon as it is done that is. This blog will be my Theatrical life of directing The Secret Garden

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

One More Time for Philip Edward Davis

Here he is with his out of breath, side holding laugh.
Below are the words I said at his memorial service on Saturday the 20th. Sandy Peirce held her hand at my back to give me strength.
Phil, my love, my rock, by stabilizer…my honey.
You were the light of my life
I will look no further.

You were a son to be proud of, watching over your dear
Mother and pappy with a true son’s love.
Caring, shopping, loving… just being there for them.
You even helped build our home. Your parents home. You told me you were using a pick axe on the quartz rock in the back while a teenager. You got to a point where you told Pappy you could go no further. He said, “Well, we’re done then.”
So the back concrete patio has always been stepped. Then, later, you got to watch your son, Derek, build a deck to finish that area off. The circle was completed.

You were a father-in-law so grateful that your daughter, Dana, was protected, loved and deeply cared for in a strong relationship.
You were a son-in-law to my parents that made them proud.
They knew that you loved me deeply…. And that was all that mattered.
You were a ‘tough love’ grandfather to your Ben.

You could apologize. Much better than me. What a man.
What a strong man.

You were always studying your spirituality… growing learning and
Sharing. Politics, the world situations and 2012 were always at the forefront. And you would talk to a post if you thought it would help.

The kids,
They will always be the kids. Thank you for my children.
They were the light of your life… our lives. You loved them
With a fathers heart that would get mad at them
When they erred or you burst with joy on their successes.
Your love for them was pure and innocent.
If your grandson, Ben, tries to attain your goodness,
Even if it is only halfway, he will be a raging success.

Your innocence, your childlike love
Of everyone and everything.
You pointed out the rainbows to me,
The aspen in the fall, the snow capped Sierras.
The robins on the toyon, the bossy blue jays,
Even the barking squirrels. You would pull me away from the computer to watch the morning sunrise.
You shared your spirituality with me and all who cared.

Oh, you will be missed.

You made friends so fast and easily that it made my head spin.
Anyone who was lucky enough to be your friend knew it. They really knew it. Your face would light up with a smile
So bright when you would set eyes upon them.… they felt your warmth
Surround them with pure love. They could hear it on the phone.
They loved you so much they would tease you and
Pick on you…. And you would love it and giggle or give it right back.
You would laugh so hard you would hold your sides and run out of
Breath. I loved tickling you to that point.

I will miss your old hands, your telling me you were
The ugliest man in all of El Dorado County. I will miss
Us holding hands in movies, walking down the streets of
Placerville, Killarney, Ireland…and the cobbled alleys of Barcelona. How you protected me at every moment in our lives.
How we would fight and make up.
No matter how loud we shouted…. It was because we cared.

You hated it when I told you you were cute.
You were an awesome sculptor who made what you wanted,
And stopped when you didn’t want to do it anymore. I treasure our
Stonework you made.

I will miss your unadulterated joy on the high rough waters
of a Mediterranean storm. The painful walk through the Vatican you took;
You with your bronchitis and horribly bad back … in the rain. And then our giggling like
Kids because we used the Basilica bathrooms.

Maybe your leaving us will remind people to be nicer to
Each other more often. You never know when a loss will occur.
I feel sorry for those who knew you not. Who only
Looked for surface beauty in friends, for you had a depth that,
Even I, could not fathom.
They missed the essence of your being,
And I will miss it forever.

Regretfully, I must let you go.
We must let you go.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Darling honey

I won't be blogging for a while. My dear sweetheart, Phil, passed away on our European trip last Friday the 5th of December.

This image was taken in a restaurant in Barcelona, Spain.

See the joy in his face..... he was the light and love of my life.

This image was taken in 2002 in Montmarte, near the Sacre Coeur, on a butte in Paris. We had a pizza and wine in a outdoor cafe. This is the area where Pissarro, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Modigliani and Picasso created some of their incredible work.
Click on it, I made the background artfull but pale so he would stand out.
He was looking at me with such love.... I didn't see it until I worked on this image. I will miss him forever.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jewel Carnival! What I am grateful for in Jewelry

Click on image to enlarge.

I know that most people praise their parents for the inspiration in their lives... but, for me, it is really true. This image is one of my first attempts at using the Painter program. I used an old black & white photo of them my great-uncle took. They were visiting him on his ship....he was a merchant marine. For some reason they were standing on some sort of hatch top. This was taken in June of 1936.... 6 months before they wed. They were so much in love. Go find old photos of your parents.... it is such a warm fuzzy thing. I had such a great time altering and drawing them in my own version of their world.

Okay, my mother started my jewelry quest off when I was very young by not having a fit when I drew on the walls and protecting my 'artwork' from the teacher when I was seven and encouraging me to play with ceramic clays. But, her biggest influence was her love of beautiful fine jewelry. She had gobs... and loose beads. I think she really wanted to create her own. She was the first person to teach me how to knot between pearls with a 'T' pin. Her jewelry was beautiful. She also had no problem changing something. She had her favorite jeweler re-create jewelry she purchased at antique stores and thrift shops into incredibly beautiful and valuable bling. Later on we, my sister Lelana, mom and I, would go to the Jewelry Mart in San Francisco and shop for pretties. I was majorly into beading at that time and we'd spend ALL DAY there. I remember one time we came outside just before sundown and the sky was beautiful with colors and clouds. We were so rummy, I remember saying, "Just look at the rose quartz and blue lace agate sky and the opal clouds...!" We chuckled over that one and then shook our heads because we stayed at the Mart tooooooooooo looooooooong. Heh, heh.

My father was incredibly supportive too. We were very close and got closer when I spent about two years working for him in his machine shop. He gave me so much confidence.... it was amazing. I was his secretary, shipping clerk and gal Friday. He also had no trouble having me run small & medium sized lathes and one huge Bridgeport vertical lathe. Amazing. Then he had me arc welding his hinges for his tire recapping parts and testing his air valves for his balancers for the huge truck tires. Did I say that he graduated from Berkeley High at 15? He couldn't afford college so he went to the library and studied mechanical engineering and passed all the tests. He was brilliant. And shy. And quiet within himself - unless he had a few 'Old Fashions' in him. He had me working with all the ferrous metals in his shop. He invented the bubble balancer for the tire industry and always told my sis and I that we were related to Frank L. Baum of Wizard of Oz fame. He made me feel I could do anything.

But, it was 17 years later before I could call myself an artist. Some times we makers have a bit of trouble calling ourselves that because of our inherent lack of confidence. After all, we are baring our souls to the world. Instead of saying that this is my art, we are feeling that this is who I am. It took me another 10 years or so to realize it wasn't me it was various expressions of the bliss of creating.

Making jewelry has given me a functional expression of my tendency towards three dimensional art and has let me create one-of-a-kind pieces, wedding rings and divorce rings. I have made wiccan jewelry, special order cold connected work with aluminum, copper and sterling, and my favorite is a wedding ring turned into earrings. He burnt the ring when working around the car battery and wanted to make half hooped and carved earring posts for his wife for their anniversary. It was fun. He came back in later and told me his wife had purchased a new band for him. They exchanged wedding rings at their anniversary lunch. Times like that made owning a gallery/jewelry store worth it.

Yes, I am very grateful for all jewelry making has brought to my life. Especially all of the wonderful friends that have touched me. Thank you to you.... you KNOW who you are.

Whew... that is enough.

Thanks mom and dad, I will always be indebted to your love and support and encouragement.
Do visit these other wonderful 'Jewelry Carnival' bloggers today:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Just in Time for Europe!!! Gram's doing better...for now.

Murphy has struck again.

Just in time for Europe... this artist here decided to break a bone in her foot.

Thanks for feeling sorry for me... DRAT!!!! I bought new shoes too. So, I think I will go off to my studio and make some fun jewelry to take with me. I am thinking of matching my new outfit I bought for the journey. If I do (what else can I do?) I will post images later.

The really good news is that my Son-in-law told me today that he isn't going anywhere and to go ahead and take our trip. I have been waiting forever to order my clothes. We weren't sure if he would still be with us. They are calling his cancer, pancreatic, but they still aren't sure. He is having most of his troubles with his blood. We went and saw him today in the hospital just after I got my 'boot' on the leg. He really looks good.

Here he is skydiving... he and Dana did this with his brothers after seeing the movie, "Bucket List".

He is super-duper and grand.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What’s a skill you’d like to learn and why? Or what’s your favorite new technique?

Welcome to the Carnival!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I choose: what’s your favorite technique and why?

Shoot! My second new favorite technique is the one I just learned/figured out how to do. Later in the blog.
My first fav is especially with stone setting. Wouldn't you know that as soon as my book went to press in 2007 I would develop an entirely new process for post-fire setting stones. Large ones. Stones that could be fired in place but ones I choose not to set pre-firing. The whole idea behind this process is to have the inside of the setting have somewhat of a mirror finish. This is pretty darn important when setting stones in rings and pendants. It is VERY important when the gemstone isn't cut to reflect all the light (and color) back to the viewer. Then all the dirt that is caught in the rough surface on the inside of the setting will be reflected back to the viewer.

Also because I like my work finished perfectly from the back as well as the front.

So The above is my all time favorite technique.... now to my most recent exploration. I entered the NAD completion (see image in previous post) and decided to add strength to the torque neckpiece. I have been using a lot of argentium sterling lately because the germanium adds strength, has fire scale elimination properties and, most important to me, has a really high tarnish resistance. To quote WikipediA, "Argentium Silver is the result of research by Peter Johns at the School of Art & Design, Middlesex University." And it is rapidly replacing the copper alloy sterling silver that we metalsmiths have been using for eons. Note that there is still some copper in argentium sterling.

When heating common sterling via soldering or firing in a kiln, the oxygen at high heat forms a black surface coating of cupric oxide or fire scale. This needs to be removed with a very strong acid, such as sodium bisulfate. To remove this black surface one might need to soak the silver in the latter, warmed acid, for a very long time. Handling this acid or breathing the warm fumes are a very bad health hazard.
With argentium silver I have found a very light coating of fire scale on my work. And that is when it is subjected to a very high temperature for an extended time... say kiln firing. If I put the work into a pan of warm/hot white vinegar the black goes away almost at once. I found that I only had to do this twice. After my third firing the germanium coated the surface, there was no fire scale and that, marvelous, coating became the element to make the metal tarnish resistant.
My, I am going on. Well, sterling silver needs to be silver depleted by heating and soaking in acid MANY times. This makes the surface of the sterling fine silver and that allows the metal clay to adhere properly. One can use the vinegar instead of the sodium bisulfate in this process too. It takes longer because the cupric oxide is thicker and deeper in the metal.
Not with argentium AND a metal clay product from Art Clay World, USA. This product is called Art Clay Silver Overlay Paste (tm) and I don't know what is in it but it works wonderfully with the argentium. To make the torque, I first shaped the 14 gauge argentium wire, soldered the hinge ends and the clasp ends. I then washed the metal with alcohol on cotton pad and let dry. I then applied two coats of the Art Clay Overlay Paste and three heavy coats of regular Art Clay Paste. Of course I let the pastes dry between coats. Fired both halves of the torque and burnished the work in a tumbler after firing.

No peeling. No sign of the paste being weakened. Now this is my new very favorite technique because it is enabling me to try some more wild and crazy designs.
Do visit these other Jewel Carnival blogs find out what they like best or what they want to learn:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Putting the Ego in line

A very good way to get the ego in line is to enter a competition and not win ANYTHING! Okay, I am through with my infantile blabber.

Heh,heh. Yup, it is a bit damaging to the ego, but that is okay. I learned several lessons here. Don't necessarily follow the theme: the winners usually are following their bliss, and that is why they win. Also, if I ever make a torque type neckpiece again , I will not make it to fit me. One of my shoulders is higher than the other and a judge might think it unwearable. Another unwearable thingy.... don't send it with your homemade display.. (see above). Those things are not (repeat: are not) even close the human body shape.

The above work was made to the theme "Celebration"... I made it with my husband's and my birthstones and a quartz briolette for our new age spirituality. There are three diamonds that signify 'I Love You' and it is celebration of our 34th anniversary this last Monday. I tried to get a feeling of confetti flying and the excitement of our union. I think it worked. It is hinged in the back and there is a hidden gravity hook underneath the stone shield. I like to make things pretty from the back too. So I did some laborious finish work behind the shield. The metal flows in to the back of the stones.

I must admit, I had a lot of fun building this piece and thought I had a bit of a chance with this contest. It has been a few days since the 'news' was broadcast and I am so very okay with it all by now. There were great lessons to be learned and I share them below.

One thing I will do in the future is be proactive. I will find out about the jurors: Are they avant garde? Do they like contemporary jewelry? Do they have a penchant for small 'jewelry store' style baubles? What do they like? Then I will make something with their preferences while following my maker's dreams.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Time for 'economical' new work and contests

I am so lax in entering contests.... if ever. And when I do, it is oh, so last minute. Today I hope to finish the NAD, North American Design contest in Silver Clay. I have been a Master Instructor there for several years and you'd think I would enter... I will post when it is done.

Because of the, really, strong economic downturn, I made some new earring jackets out of pure silver and pure gold. They are small and lightweight and are only $54.00 per pair. And THAT is including the sterling ball posts. I needed something to hold the jackets onto the cards. If you do not know what jackets are I will try to explain. They are to enhance one's jewelry wardrobe by making all of our stud ear posts have a bit more 'bling'. In other words, say, the pearl stud post is put through the hole of the jacket, then through the hole of the earlobe and the clutch in the back holds it all together.

I had to explain it a bit at the El Dorado County Artist's Studio Tour last weekend. So, I have made a sign to go in my galleries.

It shows the jacket alone and with several gemstone studs.
(Click on image for a much larger picture)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jewel Carnival again! The path to my art!

Well, I do apologize for being late with my blog. We are hosting, at our home, a part of the El Dorado County's Annual Artist's Studio Tour. As I mentioned in a previous blog, there is a painter a potter and me. It started yesterday from 10 am to 5 pm and then I was featured at a Placerville gallery from 5pm to 9pm.


Does everyone start their path by drawing on rubber sheets as a toddler .... or on the walls with crayons? Well, if so, I am very typical. My dad must have leaned over my crib to give me a kiss and his ball point pen, prophetically, fell out of his pocket into my world. This may sound silly, but do some drawing on a piece of rubber... It is glorious. The ink just flows so smoothly, the images hint of a future Picasso.... only kidding. THAT was my start.

My mother played with ceramics when I was a bitty bit. And she let me play with some too. She let me glaze the work between the firing process... This image is of the only artwork I have from my childhood. I kinda threw everything else away. I like it because there was no religion in our family... parents were from extreme opposites. They opted for my sis and I to choose for ourselves. Where the praying priest came from I do not know. I do know that I did this when I could barely write... maybe second grade. I signed it:


I do like his smile and tiny feet... I guess I didn't know what to do with the toes... heh, heh.

Mom urged my visual and theatrical art all through school. I drew a woman, with a cigarette in her hand in second or third grade... she was quite glamorous.... teacher made me scratch the cigarette out. My medium at that time was crayons. My mother chewed out the teacher for changing my interpretation of what I saw in the world.

You Go Mom!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks...

From then on it was high school art then college. I was a drama major and an art minor. Didn't finish because I didn't want to struggle nor did I want to teach. Well what am I doing Now? Teaching. Too funny. But, hey! I do get to be the star of the classroom now, don't I?
No comment.

Mom.... my sweet one. She loved fabulous jewelry and she instilled a love of it for me. I worked in my dads machine shop in my early 20's: lathe work, arc welding and that gave me an appreciation of working with the ferrous metals.... Then of course was the jewelry class in college.

After marriage my husband and I got very involved with the metaphysical movement in the '80s and I started wrapping crystals and then soldering sterling and silver with a creme brulee torch. That led to my going back to school, Revere Academy, in 1988 and that let to us using my goldsmithing talents by our opening a gallery of jewelry and fine art, and that led to classes in polymer and metal clay in our gallery studio.

Whew! Again!

Since 2000, I have been wholly involved with my two media: Polymer and metal clay. During the eleven years we had the gallery I totally burned out of metalsmithing. When you have everyone telling you what stones to set, what metal to use and hurry, hurry I need it yesterday... well the passion for goldsmithing left. But the creativity and designing was still there.

Now I love making fused glass too. The colors I can add with the glass and enamelling and the entire world of being a maker of what I want to do.... whether it sells or not... I do not care.

And during this period of creativity I have performed in many dramas, comedies, musicals and have directed one mystery, one comedy, one dramedy and one musical.

As the cast sings in "Candide", I have the best of all possible, possible worlds...".

Images: Metal clay and fused glass...... polymer cane I designed and diamond.

Do visit these wonderful artist's below and see what they have written about during their "path to their art".

Lora Hart
Elaine Luther
Angela Baduel-Crispin

Marco Fleseri
Tonya Davidson

I will have to read later. The Studio tour starts again in 30 minutes and I am not set up.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Artist's Studio Tour - This weekend and Next

Saturday and Sunday
September 20, 21, 27 & 28.

It is hard getting new posts to the blog when you are trying to finish up work for the upcoming El Dorado County Artist's Studio tour. Not only do I have to make stuff, I get to clean the house and garden area because we are hosting one of the venues at our home.

We are featuring a painter (also a lamp work bead maker): Patty Jacobs. Her paintings are ethereal and the animals she creates on watercolor paper have great personalities. Here is

Patty Jacobs, a native of Northern California, is primarily a self-taught artist, drawing and painting since childhood. Her work focuses on her love of animals and she donates a percentage from the sale of these paintings to animal charities. Patty has shown her work around California and has been commissioned for numerous pet portraits. Her paintings can be found at Taylor's Art and Soul in Sacramento and also at Gold Country Artist's Gallery, where they have been purchased by visitors from various places in the U.S., Scotland, England, Ireland, and Australia.
You just have to see her work. This is just a sample. During the Holidays, she makes Christmas card of these guys and puts a Santa hat on them... Great Sellers.


Chris Navratil has only been potting for just a few years and is a phenom with her work. Her work is innovative, functional and full of great color sense.

I commissioned her for a set of dishes. See left. My mistake was purchasing a pasta bowl in these colors and became obsessed with having a complete set.

Am I a happy camper? You bet. Come to see her in action. She has been bringing her wheel with her these past few years and everyone loves seeing her throw her pots. Come early for she has a great following that come only to see her work.


Just finished these yesterday and am really excited about them. They are cuff bracelets made with polymer clay over a brass armature. I then added acrylic paint as detail and then covered the latter with translucent liquid polymer clay for durability.
I have some new metal clay work set up for the show too.
Saturday the 20th starts the two weekend show and it is also the third Saturday art stroll on Main St., in Placerville. So, at the end of day on Saturday I have to run to our gallery and be gracious until 9pm... it is going to be a looooooonnnnnnggggg day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September Shows

There hasn't been any post recently because I have been frantically creating new metal clay and polymer clay items for two shows.  

Right now I am being featured at the Gold Country Artist's Gallery in Placerville, CA.  So, I needed work for that. Also, this month, we have the Annual El Dorado County Artist's Studio Tour. Now this is interesting, the tour opens on Saturday the 20th for two weekends. That same night I have to run down to the gallery and attend an artist's reception.  Thankfully I am sharing the spotlight with a wonderful mixed media artist, Karen Hunziker. Here is one of her works.

I have been playing, a lot, with my polymer clay using the Able Cane Slicer. I just love the tool. It can be had at polymerclayexpress.com. One can make large canes and cut really large slices... at just about any thickness. I like really thin slices because it makes my canes go farther. Here are a few new works that I just built.

I used Susan Hyde's Faux Fabric technique on these. I call them 'Peruvian cloth'...

In addition to my Artist's Sketchbooks, there is also a covered business card holder and two cross type pens. Later today I am going to cover some wide brass bracelets.  I love this technique.

Also shown are some beads made with this cane and the ACS.  This tool is a must for any polymer clay artist. If you would like to see how it is used in an online tutorial, click here.

But Wait! Before you go.... I have a few samples here of my metal clay work for the shows.

The first is Trapeze Amphora. I have added an 8mm garnet and used fusible argentium sterling silver to hang it on a sterling snake chain.  The next is the second in my series of 'What Attitude?' women. Another amphora. I love that the 'chip on her shoulder' is a gem grade pyrope garnet.  I have been having a lot of fun with these ladies.  Notice the 'neck' tilt?  Is she not having a major 'tude'?
There is a lot more coming from yours truly and I cannot wait to get back into the studio.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jewel Carnival Blog for August: Studio Tour

It is that time of the month... we are doing a Jewelry Blog Carnival Studio Tour and thought it would be fun for other artists to see our work spaces. So not a lot of words this time. Just images. Being that I just got back from a retreat, and had to put all my clay and tools away, these shots were taken last night at O - dark thirty.

The left is the classroom / fused glass / sales / storage area. I can take 6 students, but I prefer 3 to 4. When I do not have classes it is loaded with my fused glass cutting area, the grinder and glass band saw.

This image is of my private work queendom. My artistic realm. Straight ahead is the metal/goldsmithing area and to the right is my polymer/metal clay work station. It is pretty darn organized. After I got it set up I didn't think that I could find anything. But, to my surprise - it made sense and I can find stuff.

Below is a better view of my main work area. I have my Ipod up top on my right and a mini TV on my left. It is pretty darn cool - I can put in a jewelry VHS tape whenever I want to watch or research a technique I haven't done in ages.

In this image I have been working with my polymer goodies. Inspiration came from our local Clayville-California's Annual PolyPalooza retreat at Zephyr Point on Lake Tahoe in Nevada.

The goldsmithing area is always a mess. I am constantly running over to file, solder, saw or set a stone. Of course I am always in a hurry and don't clean up... except for sorting my metal filings. Here I am waving at the camera. I try to use feng shui in the studio set up. Therefore the mirror. It is bad chi to have your back to the room and not be able to see people approaching you.

It has taken many years and many tries to get the studio/classroom just right ... it is, now for me, my heaven. I have only had ten studios/work areas ... s'bout time I got it right ... don'tcha think?

Take a moment to visit these other Jewel Carnival Bloggers today and check out their studio tours too. Some might be posting later....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Almost there... and Super News!

I am not one to turn down a commission... even when I am packing to go to the Polymer Retreat .... tomorrow!

Here is an image of a small (for me- I went to the big school of art) pendant that has a dancing illusion and that is gently arched down the center. It is embellished with a 1.5mm diamond, a trillion peridot and a fresh water pearl. I call her Peridot Dancing. Click on image for a larger view.

The super news is that after I get to the Hilton Hotel Indian Resort (Chicago) next summer I get to play with polymer buddies at the NPCG's (National Polymer Clay Guild) 2009 Retreat. I offered to do a demonstration of one of my new canes/techniques... we'll see.
But, the best news is that as soon as that retreat is over the MCWC (Metal Clay World Conference) starts... at the same location!!! How great is that?. I get to give a pre-conference workshop on setting stones in metal clay. I will be teaching some of the techniques that are in my book. And then, for the next two or three days, I will be giving a seminar on Bench Tricks for the Metal Clayer. And do I have lots of those.

Now I need to breathe....

No, finish packing.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Challenges of September.... yikes!

Well, it is that time again. Next month I get to be a featured artist at a great gallery in Placerville. Last month it celebrated it's 16th anniversary. That is pretty darn good. Galleries, in general, tend not to last very long.

So I have been madly making new jewelry. Tripley so, since not only do I need new work for this show, I need to get samples to a Portland, Oregon gallery and prepare for our 22nd annual Artist Studio Tour. The latter is the third and fourth weekend in September and Phil and I are hosting, in our back patio 'gallery', two other artists as well. A painter, a potter and me.


In three days I get to go to a fabulous polymer clay retreat at Lake Tahoe in Nevada. Clayville-California's PolyPalooza. I am so stoked I can hardly stand it. I will, hopefully, get a lot of elements made for the September shows. I am giving three demos: how to create shaped tissue blades, unusual lace canes and the Able Cane Slicer(tm). I was honored to be asked, along with Carol Blackburn and Kathleen Dustin, to beta test this new polymer tool.... I am soooo addicted to it. I will post some samples later.

But, for now, I need to make the hand-outs, samples, pack the pc and the clothes.


Better start the washing machine.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Vacation time to dance about...

So, okay, I get Cynthia Tinapple's blog every day. Today she had the greatist utube vidio ..... Really great.

I am posting the link here because it just made my day and I want to tap back into it whenever possible. What is really cool is that I've been to some of these places and it brings back wonderful memories. Such as another place in Ireland, Ross Castle at Lake Kilarney..... below.

We are heading off to Southern Europe this coming November and I hope to post some images when we get back.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hard Metal History

Every now and then I love to go back and look at my metalsmithing work. Usually it is only in images... most of the work sold. Okay, okay... I kept my favorites. Now that I am not in the corporate/business world, I don't need as much jewelry as before. I can go days in my studio without wearing a bit of baubles ~ or bling.

After eleven + strenuous years as a goldsmith in our gallery I reached a burn out stage. Now all I create with is metal clay, polymer clay, fused glass and graphics.

A Metal clay friend suggested that I join technorati and make connections with my blog. So I need to add some stuff for the connection.
Technorati Profile
Add to Technorati Favorites
So now that this has been done....

The above suite is a multi level work. The base is sterling silver with an oval tubing that supports the 18 karat gold bent metal bezel. The Stones are drusey chrysocholla and I inset diamond set with 14 karat gold bezels. This was a challenge and I enjoyed every minute of it. The pendant has a pin back on it too so I can wear it on a suit lapel or on my neck with a lot of skin.

Must be off to get some organization done in the studio. I am going to donate a lot of stone beads to the M.O.R.E. workshop. I do not do as much beading anymore and I'd like them to go and help the developmentally challenged adults find some more joy in creating.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Jewel Carnival Blog - My favorite Hand Tool

While thinking about today's blog and what tool is my favorite, I thought about the new one that I just made. I was bouncing back and forth between the chasing hammer, the hammer hand piece for my Fordom, small escapement files, plastic sheet roller or the ever wonderful slats by Pam East. Several months ago someone on our metal clay gallery asked about a finger brush. My mind went wild with the possibilities.

So, about a month ago I started buying pieces and parts, making early prototypes and starting all over anew. I spent just about a day thinking about the engineering, the wear ability, the functionality and the look of this item. Two days ago it all came together. I pulled out the brushes I was to decimate, the polymer and the holders and started the process.

That said, I did make prototypes and sold them to my students in June. They were very functional, but not artistic. The reason I hadn't put it out there that I was making them was because I wanted to make sure they held up, looked kinda cool and needed to start the patent process.

Patent process.... hey it was my wonderful husband's idea. He wants to mass produce them. I am not sure about that. I am selling them now for $7.50 plus Shipping and handling. Only have a few made... not sure I want to spend my free time building these things. But.... there is always a need for a new widget.

(click on images for a better view)

You can see that I just got sick and tired of filing the metal clay, putting the file down, picking up my dry brush - then brushing the valuable metal clay sandings off of the work, setting down the dry brush (always facing the wrong way too) and then picking up my file and starting all over again.

I made them one size fits all. After you read the following blogs from our JewelCarnival Bloggers, click here for more information on the FingerBrushes. Patent Pending.

Kirsten Skiles
Angela Crispin ---- scroll down for the english version
Tamra Gentry
Chris Parry
Lorrene Davis
Marco Fleseri

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Cane: Victorian Autumn New tool: to be made

So, while I was getting ready for sending some photos and work to this Portland,OR gallery, I got the itch to create a new cane. I love the fall colors of turquoise, adobe and pale sand and decided to use those hues in clay. Instead of just sending images of what I have to the gallery (wouldn't that have been easier?) I was aching to make something new. Do any of you get achy inside when you haven't created lately? Well, I was near to tears, it had been so long. So - okay.....

My husband, Phil, has been after me, no - nagging, to make my large bead neckpieces. Every one I have made to sell has sold. And, well, you know the guys ($$$$). He even offered to make the base round beads for me. Yikes! Can I turn THAT down? No. So, while he was using those great plastic bead making tools I sat down and drew out the cane.

Now, it is one thing to draw the cane and another to make it. Hah. We all know that so well. He must have looked over at me a hundred times and all he saw was moi staring at a sketch. The trooper he is ~ he said not a word. This time I wanted to 'engineer' it. Same size beads (large & small), same size cane slices and, of course, the same size base bead. They came out very close.

I decided that I needed a new tool. I will make one sometime this week. The process I used on this cane worked... fairly well. But, the technique I developed needs a permanent tool to grab at a moments notice.

Oh, and I developed a new tool for metal clay too. That will be on the JewelCarnivalBlog here tomorrow. Up to ten jewelry/metalsmiths blog once a month on a universal theme. Tomorrow's is "my favorite hand tool". We have other blogs here for May and June if you want to scroll down. You can click on a link to see what they have written about on the same topic du jour.

So, back to the neckpiece. I'm gonna have to sell it for a bazillion bucks. Not only did the cane take a bit o'time, but the small polymer beads that give the elements a quilted look took time-ola. Then the small tools I found in my metalsmithing grab bag were perfect for adding very small textures. Oh, my.... this might be the only one I make. Each 'leaf' was hand stamped with a very small ... I mean VERY small phillips screwdriver bit.

But, hey... I am pleased with the results. I have two images. The second is a close up for the texture and to show the clasp and earring. I like to make my large beaded neckpieces without a noticeable clasp. .... that is just me. The beads are somewhat close to a 50 cent piece in diameter.
(Click on right image to enlarge)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Home improvement vs creativity


I am having a tug of war situation. My son is finishing off our back patio and I have work to finish to send off to a Portland, OR gallery for jurying.....

So, yours truly has been out moving my planting station and spending HOURS and HOURS in Home Depot. No one can fathom how jazzed I am at both prospects. This is incredible... I have been bugging my DH for four years now. What I had to do was save my art/teaching money and a small inheritance to pay for the project myself. Do I mind? Nah! It is getting done.

I have been in a polymer phase the past few days, not only because I love it but, I want to send some of it to the Gallery in Portland. I was wearing this polymer DecoBox and one of the staff was impressed enough to get me an application. This is timely too... they only jury in new work four times a year and July is one of them.

So, with everything going on my blogging has suffered....my buddy in N.Y., DebbY has been hinting... love her.

This Friday is our Jewel Carnival time again. I will be writing on my favorite hand tool. Actually it is my newest favorite hand tool.... I developed it myself. So, if anyone is out there, come back on Friday the 11th to see it and read about it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

All things Computer.

Yes, I know I should be in the studio today....yes.

But, I am in a computer mode. Just this morining I subscribed to the blog Polymer Clay Daily and hope to recieve any new postings automatically. I don't always remember to go to the site and read what has been published. Now.... I don't have to. It will come to me.

So, I did some research and found that feedburner will do the same for my blog. If you would like to check in on my journal, and read my sporadic ramblings, then click on the subscribe button to the left.

Today's photo (click to enlarge) is in my newest glass series. It is opalescent frits, silver and black glass fused together. Then I will use my metal clay to create an artful pendant. This is a work in process.

I guess I should get to work.....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday Procrastination.

The glass is fired, ground and fire polished. What is keeping me back?

Just getting in and starting, I guess. That is what I'll do when the blog is done. This procrastination is not for lack of ideas.... I think that I've kept up such a super fast stream of life since 'retirement'. My body and soul wants me to slow down. I have been reading a lot and I love it. Now, I am getting closer to the quarterly deadline of submitting work to a Portland, OR gallery I want to get into.

What is that Nike saying, "Just do it!"?

My problem is probably stemming from a 'deadline'.... We had that every day with our gallery and I am balking at the very thought of it.

Enough of this self-pandering... I am off to the studio. I will post later.

Here is an image I took of a Tehachapie morning outside the cabin
at a Klew Polymer Clay retreat.

Hmm... feels good.

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's THAT time again.... Jewel Carnival Blog

Okay... it is Friday the 20th and the topic for this group blog is, " What is My Favorite Jewelry Book?".. Yikes, there are so many.

When I was at the Revere Academy, I bought every repair book, stone setting book, fabrication book I could get my hands on. When I finally put out the $100.00 (now it is way more) for Oppi Untrachts book, Jewelry Concepts and Technology, I knew that I had found the ultimate book.

Click image for amazon books and get this item at a reduced price.
A lovely review by Rich Waugh on this book starts out with:

"...Oppi Untracht was a Fulbright Scholar in both India and Nepal from 1957 to 1959 and 1963 to 1965 respectively, and during those stays he visited many metalsmiths, studied their art and took copious photographs of their work. Much of what he learned in India and Nepal is included in this book, including filigree, enameling (his forté), niello, bidri, kuftgari and others. The majority of the illustrations for this volume appear to originate with Untracht’s eastern sojourns, and the scenes of craftsmen producing magnificent works using the most primitive of techniques and tools are truly fascinating..."

I love this book because of the techniques he shares from all over the world.... yes, this is true. But the main passion that comes through to me is the Art Forms, the unique samples of break through artist's work that is astounding. We as jewelry artists, in the 21st century, believe that we are stretching the boundaries of the medium, that we are creating such new and exciting work that the world has never seen.

Bah! We are all using techniques that have been around for 3000 plus years. The materials may change, the tricks may change but the process is all following those before us. If you think I am mad, get a copy and look at the outrageous works using: resin, copper, plastic and more.

There are 807 readable pages in this huge tome of incredible information. Go to a library, a metalsmith's book stash and just browse... have a cup of tea and some time and you'll know what I mean.
Visit these other bloggers to find out what their favorite metalsmithing book is/are:

Angela Crispin (scroll for the English version)
Tamara Gentry
Lora Hart
Elaine Luther

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

When other things get in the way...

Yup.... stuff happens.

I haven't touched my art for Three Weeks!!!!! Yikes! But, sometimes other things have to be done. Like clean the house, go away for a week, build a closet.

Build a closet? Well, Phil built it. He did a great job. But, now I have been going through clothes trying to decide which to throw away, what to give to Hospice, what to put in a bin for when I lose enough weight to WEAR THEM AGAIN, and which to hang up in my pretty new closet. I got to help paint it and put up thin cedar sheets. But my honey did a fabulous job.

Our son is coming home to stay for a month or year and we have needed space for me for ages and he needs space for his stuff too. I have been tutoring him on computerese... he has never had a computer. Amazing.

Today I am finishing up the clothes thing-y and then going out to the studio to finish up the glass/metal clay charms I am making for the Metal Clay Charity. See my blog of March 18.
In the mean time I am totally enjoying him being here... Oh, and his son, Ben, came down from Oregon too. So we have four peeps in our small home.... a real challenge. But, it is working.

Our son-in-law, Gram, seems to be holding his own and barreling head on into his cancer... if you have a chance check out his CaringBridge site.

Well, time to get to work and finish up the clothes.....

Monday, June 2, 2008

It has been a while....

So, when life slaps you in the face you don't necessarily want to blog. Besides with a family event that just took place, I have been blogging in another way.

Friday May 23 we got the news that my dear son-in-law, Gram, has pancreatic cancer. So the last week was filled with getting information to him, setting up a CaringBridge website for him and joining them last Thursday at a chemotherapy class.

Needless to say, I wasn't in an artistic writing mood.

The good news is that he is a fighter and is in relatively good health. All his blood work came back in the normal range and his family doc said that he didn't look like a man with stage 4 cancer. Also, the chemo class gave us great hope. He is a fantastic guy who has loved, cared for and spoiled my daughter .... big time.

Yesterday I took a bit of time to start my charms for the Charms for Charity event coming up. (See my March 15Th blog.) I am making them of pure silver and fused glass. Hope that the group likes them. So, the artfulness is slowly coming back and it feels good.

Kind of like therapy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Jewel Carnival.... What do you do to jump start your creativity?

What do you do to jump start or stretch your creativity? Our Jewel Carnival group has nailed it with this one. One of the most difficult tasks to engage in is getting design ideas. I think I will pretend this blog is one of my workshops and share how I help them. How to keep original and in fashion at the same time. How to find their own voice and how to begin to shout out their art soul. This is for you.

When I teach a metal clay or a polymer clay workshop, I tell you the student, to do the basics: make tons of sketches. Don't erase! Use tracing paper over a design you 'kind' of like to make changes and to improve it. Also, buy a fashion magazine once or twice a year. If the in-thing is big jewelry, for example, don't put a lot of time into small bling. Of course, this is if you want to sell your work to enable you to buy more materials. Well, duh? Anyway.... if you have a following, then stay true to your creativity but do stretch and try new styles and materials.

Okay, that said. What if you don't know where to start and don't want to come even faintly close to copying another artists style. You will always be at an advantage if you take workshops and become a workshop-aholic. Your artistic scope will be incredible and the ideas will not stop flowing through you. BUT if you are new at this, and have no idea where to start, why not try my Michael's technique.

Go into any craft store such as Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Joanne's or even a hardware store. Grab a cart and give yourself a minimum of two hours to 'wander'. Go up and down every aisle and look at EVERYTHING! Say to yourself, "Now, what can I do with this? With That? Oh... that is cool what if I......". This will take you out of yourself and start the process of unlimited creativity. For example. I found a great textured paper in the scrapbooking section. Took it to the studio, covered both sides with Kato Liquid Polyclay and baked it. Now I have this terrific texture to use with both the mc and pc (metal clay - polymer clay). Clay cutters can be found in the baking section... which leads you to the online cook stores or paper goods..... on and on.

This can be any store: brick and mortar or online. I have found many new tricks, techniques and design ideas in online stores.

The reason for the two hour time? This process cannot be rushed. Creativity cannot be rushed. How else can you find the bliss of being a maker of art without time. Easy time. Cool time. Time alone to flow without the pressure of every day stuff. Believe me this is good. This process is meditative and by doing it you will find the world will go away and you will have become energized by the process.

Oh, and keep your camera with you, you never know when you will be inspired by a landscape, face or a shadow.

And don't spend too, Too, TOO much time looking at other's work. You can be unduly influenced or your self-esteem may suffer. Do look at other's eye-candy and tell them you adore their work. Then go out and make your own.

Hey, look at nature, clouds, trees, color wheels.... see the texture in hair, picture frames, fake leaves, rugs, your pets coating or tree bark.... look at the lines and joins of bridges, buildings and school yard gyms. Watch the movement of fractles, jazz dancers and the human body. Play with off-the-wall ideas you see in everyday stuff. Play, play, play.

Whew... off the soapbox..... for now.

If you'd like to read more on this subject. Go to the following Jewel Carnival blogs (great artist's) and scroll down to the May 16 entries.... and read and absorb. I missed the 16th deadline because I was out of town.

Kirsten Skiles
Marco Fleseri
Angela Crispin (scroll for the English version)
Sherri Haab
Tamara Gentry
Lora Hart
Chris Parry
Lora Hart

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's About Time.....

Sheesh! All I have to do is go on a vacation and I forget how to get into my blog to write. I haven't been remiss.... just kinda 'blond'.

Anywaysssss.... We went to Portland, Oregon on the Starlight Amtrak train and had such a good time. I got indoctrinated into the McMenamins Hotels and Inns. What a very cool thing they are doing. Refurbishing old dilapidated buildings, hiring full time artists to paint images on the walls that relate to the buildings history and having very fun events.

We went to the 9Th Annual UFO Festival. My hubby is into that. Well, when we were leaving the hotel, Phil tried to get reservations for next year. No dice - sold out. There was a very interesting speaker on Friday night and another on Saturday morning. Then on Saturday afternoon they had the annual Alien Parade. Oh, if I get some pictures I will post. This was the most fun. Then on Saturday night there was the Alien Costume ball. Visualize.... Talk about artful people. The McMenamins hotel we stayed at is the Hotel Oregon in the quaint village of McMinnville. I want to move there. Now. We also checked out the Edgefield Manor (an old poorhouse) and the Grand Lodge, an old Masonic lodge.

We went to a great gallery in Portland and I am going to see if I can get in. It is the Real Mother Goose Gallery. Very nice. Only one metal clay artist and no polymer clay jewelry. So, hope I have a chance.

It has been paperwork galore since we got home.

Well it is getting onto dinner time and when I am hungry -I cook.
Heh, heh.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Good news, Great news, Wonderful News!

One of the main reasons I came to the Bay Area on Sunday was to have a few days visiting with my sweet sister. I hadn't come down her way for two years... She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and while I was helping her with her new blog yesterday, her surgeon called with the news that they had got it all.

GOT IT ALLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow, didn't know I was holding my breath this long. By the way, she really likes the 'Sisters' pendant I gave her. See images below.

Okay, this is my third trip to visit her. Don't 'cha think she needs to come up my way for a few days?


Monday, April 28, 2008


I am so lucky to have an incredible, loving and 'Wind Beneath My Wings' Sister. I am in the San Francisco Bay Area for a several day visit. She is the best ever. We get together for a few days every couple of years ~ so this time I wanted to make "Two-of-a-kind" pendants. The thing I learned from this project was that, even though I made them at the same time, using the same glass, the work turned out slightly different.... just like us. The fused glass is a wonderful medium with which to work. I turned two pieces of Dichroic glass differently on the work and got a surprise.... Same but different. I ground the pieces a bit uniquely too. Not too far off... but the same. The pure silver metal clay was a great exercise.

I use Art Clay Silver, I am a Master Instructor, and learned that if you photocopy your 'stones' by increasing the size by 115%, take the images and make the metal clay 'settings' the photocopy size, you will have a perfect setting after firing. I fired these pieces up to my kiln's fire polishing temperature. This way the metal would not shrink further and damage the fused glass.

Then I tossed them into the vibrating tumbler and gave them a bit of a burnishing with the stainless steel shot.

Then I set the stones into the MC... actually they 'snapped' into place. The math worked!!! The fused glass was a perfect fit. Next I fire polished.
This process got the glass 'warm' enough to marry into the metal clay. Therefore there was no 'chemical bonding' or the use of a 'jewelers setting agent' to hold the glass into place.

Another plus was that I had extruded several bails for future use and they were at the ready when I needed them for this project. I used the Makin's Clay extruder with their hollow core adaptors. I use this a lot for my bails and the sterling snake chains just glide through.... I am liking to leave the backs open on my glass work - just because I like to sign the glass in addition to the silver.
Click on images to enlarge.
Before I left the foothills of the Sierras to come and visit, I made an experiment with different sizes of a Red Opal frit. I liked how the glass turned out and then tried another way of setting the metal clay on it. It has been fired and I will burnish it when I get home an do another blog post at that time.

I love teaching too. Had a certification workshop last weekend and have two more classes this coming weekend.

Art IS bliss....

Monday, April 21, 2008

State Fair Entries

Whew! Finally have a moment to post. Been a teacher and a maker this month. What fun is that? Major good times.

Last year I entered the California State Fair with my metal clay and gemstones (won an award) and this year I thought I'd enter with some fused glass on one and 24k on the other. My polymer entry of 2007 wasn't accepted. Drat. So, I am sticking with the precious metal this year.

This first piece was inspired by the peridot trillion stone. Wanted to stay with the triangular shape and build upon that theme with the metal clay. The pendant needed some emphasis on negative space... so I carved it out and it worked! Then the 24k gold was added to create contrasting color. The bail was set upside down... for spite. Just to be different. But, that's just the way I am.... so there! It hangs pretty cool ... surprise ~ surprise.

The next image is of my glass fusing work. I sketched an image of what I wanted to do with the glass before I took the class in March. This pendant is of my first 'controlled ' work. The glass was built upon the drawing as well as the pure silver metal clay and the Tahitian pearl is just there for glamor. We'll see if they get accepted... or not.

It is such a joy to be able to work in the bliss. To be able to create without any time constraints. When I had the day job, everything had to be done in a hurry... so the enjoyment of the process wasn't fully there. Now it is. I am torn by my three masters: metal clay, polymer clay and fused glass.

Oh, oh... I hear my house calling too, "Clean me, clean me".


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Class Section in Studio is DONE!

After much hair-pulling the class portion of my studio is done. The general organization is almost done.


Click on picture for a larger image.

The coolest thing is ... I now know where just about everything is. Amazing!!!!?!!!.

On top of the steel shelving is my supply area for paper towels, class supplies, extra materials and my photo studio in the Cloud Dome box.

The left area is where I have metal clay and polymer clay stuff for sale. I only sell during classes. Do not want to become a retail outlet... Been there - done that. The draped area is where I store all my polymer, metal clay and glass fusing things. This is for classes and my personal work. Having it covered during workshops is good for students: less clutter to mess up their concentration. I went to K-Mart(tm) and in their curtain area they had Magnetic curtain rods. Oh, this was sent from the Studio Gods. I threw the rods away, bought some doweling from Home Depot, painted them black and now have custom curtains for under $30.00. The have a tendency to move a bit. So, when I find the permanent place for them, I will put some 2-part epoxy on one base of each set and be done. Hey! If I were a student there and there were no curtains, I would be looking and saying to myself, " Oooh, whats that for? Hey, I want one of those too!.... ". The area to the right is for my hubby's storage, but I used the doors for my white board, awards, posters and certificates.

But, my most favorite area is the center. I put both 6 foot tables together and ran a power strip down the middle. Now I have somewhat permanent lighting and power for heat guns and hot plates. Or pasta machines with motors... When I do not have classes I use this ,very spacey and well lit, area for my glass cutting and fuseing designing.

You are reading a blog from one waaaaaay happy camper.

Not finished with my personal studio space and goldsmithing area. But... will post when I get a chance. This is my teaching month and my time is quite limited.

Now, on to finish the taxes for Mr. Sam. He is not my uncle... my uncles would not have wanted any of my money... they had enough of their own.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Glass, Glorious Glass

Now that the ugly chest cold is gone, I got to run some tests on fusing glass. I noticed from the workshop I attended at Arrow Springs Glass, the material, dichro and regular, can and WILL change colors after the fusing is complete. So, Monday I made test pieces. I took small squares of black and clear and put small pieces of dichro on the top. One set per dichro color and on each set I put the dichro side up and the dichro side down. Fused them and am now going to keep the sample with the actual glass. This way I can design with color as well as shape and materials.

  • The first image is the glass ready to fuse on the pink kiln-wash board.

  • The second is the above fired and

  • The third is the fused test pieces near the dicro glass.
    Click on images to enlarge.

The studio is almost done. I will post an image as soon as I can...... so, I guess I should go back and finish it.

Got a great class coming up this weekend in Sacramento at U Bead It in Sacramento. Love teaching metal clay. Love it.