Saturday, August 30, 2008

Off for the weekend!

We're off to cool green western Pennsylvania for the weekend for Michael's 25th high school class reunion. Goodbye Virginia humidity! See you next week!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

thinking about things

Nine months ago yesterday my brother in law died suddenly. Several months after his death, my husband's remaining brother burned a CD of tunes that John loved. I listen to it often, and when the CD is off the songs often still run through my mind. Dire Straits, Cranberries, U2, Counting Crows, Johnny Cash. It's uncanny how each song is perfect for the memories, good and bad, happy and sad, I have of more than ten years of knowing my husband's oldest brother. It's funny how a person can just disappear from the face of the earth. It's like he's still here but we just haven't seen each other in a while. Even all these months later, when we visit his old place, I expect him to walk out with a big grin on his face. It's the weirdest feeling and I often have to work to keep my spirits up. I guess this is prompted also by working on some commissioned memory necklaces.

"People do not die for us immediately, but remain
bathed in a sort of aura
of life which bears no relation to true immortality
but through which they
continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as
when they were alive. It
is as though they were traveling abroad." ~Marcel

Monday, August 25, 2008

new earrings

This is one example of what I am doing with the sticks. This pair is available on my etsy site. This has been a day of running errands after a late start. A long drive to Yorktown to Lucy's vet to get three cases of prescription dog food. Lucy has had a long odyssey with leg problems and was ordered to lose weight, not an easy task for a twelve year old couch potato. But, we started her on Hill's Prescription RD and she has lost a whopping 17.2 pounds since March! So she is within her targeted ideal weight of 45 pounds by two measly pounds. Good girl! She has so much more energy and is so much more alert, it's like we have our old girl back again. Happy!

Then, there is Mango. :( After an illness that put him at death's door last year, he had to go on steroids and gained a whopping 9 pounds, putting him at 19 pounds. Poor cat. The weight loss formula Hill's makes him sick, and he's not inclined to play much due to the couch potato factor, so we're still figuring out what to do with him. He's an ornery little bugger, too. Good thing we love him.

Who could resist this bundle of orange love anyway? In his favorite spot of the moment, my grandmother's chair.

I'm off to my next dr. appointment. Oh, joy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

sticks and more sticks

I'm developing a real "thing" for sticks. Hammered copper sticks, hammered brass sticks, copper sticks with heat patina, brass eyelets to set them off. Mixing them up with gems and stones, they really are an eye catching addition to a funky necklace or earrings.

All day I've been at the bench, sawing and hammering and firing these little guys and then wrapping them up into earrings and connecting pieces for an upcoming art show in Richmond- Arts Around the Lake at the University of Richmond.

Brass connector with sterling loops on the ends... for charms, perhaps?

When I originally pulled this out of the etchant solution, I thought it was a goner-- too deeply etched after I flaked out and forgot about it, sitting in the chemicals, being eaten to the quick. Oh, rats, (ok, I didn't say rats...) I said when I remembered it and pulled it out. It's been perched on my bench for months now, but after some time has passed, I'm really liking how it turned out. Only a few words can be recognized, but the deep recesses of etching on the other words make it look like an ancient text or scroll. Kinda cool! So, I put an eyelet in it and posted it on Etsy. Ya never know...

This is a double sided piece of etching I did yesterday in brass. I traced an old Spanish coin that I found at the beach years ago (yes, I really found a coin from the early 1700's on Assateague Beach near where my parents live-- how cool is that?!) and used the rough shape as a template for this pendant. I don't have a fancy punch machine to cut out shapes, so I do it the old fashioned way, with a jeweler's saw- even round shapes. Anyway, on this piece, one side has a medieval lady on it, the other side has coral. I'm really pleased with it because it really looks like an old coin, which was the whole aim.

Reverse side, although really they are interchangeable. Look for Tosca coin pendant on my etsy site.

I haven't done squat today as far as cleaning things up or doing laundry or any other household tasks. This is thanks to Deryn Mentock, who kindly sent me a book during my healing process called The War of Art, a quick read with a huge punch. Basically it lets the artist know that the art isn't going to get done by itself and get the you-know-what out of you-know-where if ever you want your art to go places farther than the back of your mind. Good stuff. Thanks Deryn!

Even this early, we are starting to plan our trip to Italy. So far, we have forty bucks saved for it. :D Are we on top of things or what?
But, in a huge stroke of good fortune, a friend of my husband has a girlfriend who has a brother who lives in, yes indeed, Rome! And better yet, I've been in touch with him and he not only is a tour guide, but also got us an apartment in Rome for the duration of our stay for free. So things are looking up. So far, tickets- check. Accommodations- check. Passports- somewhere at the state department- check. Spending money- uh.... well, we're working on that one....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

sticks & stones

I've re-worked this necklace from weeks ago. It just didn't seem to have enough jingle-jangle going on so I added a piece of hammered hand stamped copper with brass eyelets and a Peruvian blue opal drop. Adding the text "sticks and stones" seemed fitting since that is exactly what it is, brass stick, copper stick, turquoise stick, pearl stick and then stones of opal and crystals. I just got this order of opals and wow, are they ever gorgeous. I will be using them quite often, I think. Check out the re-worked finished piece on my etsy shop.

This is the finished necklace. It makes a very nice charm jingle sound when worn and the colors are really lovely with the black shirt I am wearing right now. I'm experimenting with some more plain hammered sticks to put on etsy, with and without eyelets. Also look for some etched brass pieces that are etched on both sides coming up.

I'm finally getting some relief from this incessant pain of the last two weeks so it feels good to be making some things and getting back into blogging. Many thanks to those lovely folks who sent their good wishes! My parents little dog has been visiting us the last two weeks. She's a little bugger but of the good sort. Curious, happy, rambunctious (a little too much sometimes, to the consternation of Mango), and a good companion. She has a good spirit, always up for some fun, as this next photo captures all too well. Obviously we need to format our new memory card to 2008, not 2025. :D

May we all be this exuberant in life!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

belle armoire jewelry fall '08 issue

Feeling a slight hair on the side of the living now, I was most happy to receive my artist's advance copy of the Fall '08 issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry yesterday. As usual, lovely things in there and much to peruse.

The fuschia/pink/purple/yellow bracelet featured on the index page is one of three that the magazine published in the new issue. The title of my article is "A Tribute to Art," and shows these three bracelets with charms and mokume gane beads I created, the colors and composition a tribute to three of my favorite artists- Frida Kahlo, Henri Matisse, and Richard Diebenkorn.

This photo is my own of the one piece since I am not up to photo shopping the magazine cover and index. I hope everyone who is interested in compelling jewelry techniques and design will pick up their copy, out in bookstores September 1.

Friday, August 8, 2008

the tumble

I seem to be accident prone, a trait shared by my dad.
In this instance, a foolish tumble off a wall.
As in, see Jen want to shut the dumpster lids that are perpetually and infuriatingly left open at all times by the catering facility on the other side of her patio fence. See Jen step from the patio chair, spring up the patio wall and stand there with a broom to shut said lids. See Jen steady herself by grabbing onto a fence plank. See fence plank come out of fence wall like a stripped screw. See Jen propel backwards off wall, fall sideways straight down onto patio chair, then concrete. See heavy pottery pot fall on top of Jen and smash into many pieces. See Jen lay on concrete, stunned, gasping for air after smashing not only pottery, chair and cactus (yes, cactus..) but several ribs on left side as well. See Jen a big mess with large bruises, egg size lumps, scrapes and cuts all over.

I hope the weekend improves from here. The patio is still a mess, but the F**king lids are shut.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

finally, some new work

The title is fitting! Finally, some new work. Since I finished my portion of the collaborative necklace the other night, I've been itching to make a necklace incorporating some of my new ideas with jingly jangly dangles. So I've been stealing moments out of the day and night to wrap, solder and create this piece, which is now for sale on my etsy site.

Increasingly I am developing more and more aversion to using much of any other metalwork components than what I have hand made or created. This makes the pieces more labor intensive, but I like the look of them knowing there's not much there that was machine made, other than faceted beads and the drilled holes in them. I have made some chain, but not on this piece.

another view...

My workbench is a disaster after working on this project, when in the midst of construction, Mango the two ton kitty decided to take a flying leap from the back of the futon onto my tool, supply, bead and wire-strewn work table. Woe is me! I have a big mess to clean up from it (this is the third time he's done it) but it will have to wait until late tonight after I am finished with work. Our place is so small, it is impossible to kitty-proof the area. And he's a stubborn boy, so it's a bad combination. Fat as he is, he gets on the workbench because he loves to squeeze his fat self into the underside of the table, where there is a space with little equipment. What a zoo we have going here!

Friday, August 1, 2008

collaboration necklace- my turn

At long last my portion of the Gaea collaboration necklace is completed and ready to mail to the next contributor. Since the neck chains have already come together very nicely, I wanted to do something a little different and add some more dangles to the bottom. The vintage key, lovely as it is, was calling out for some companions to clank against. So, I added a few. A length of brass was soldered to a small silver link on both ends. To that I added a faceted green garnet drop. With a small tag of sterling silver, I stamped "love you xo" to accent the heart on Gaea's cute focal pendant. Sandwiched between the two dangles- a pretty freshwater pearl with some links above for shine.

Voila! The full necklace, ready for packaging and shipment to Lynn tomorrow. Sorry it's taken me so long to get the you-know-what out of you-know-where...

Another close up...

10:15 p.m. and we are just grilling fish on the patio. Beans are simmering on the stove. Mango is sleeping (snoring to boot) next to me on the bar.

I've been out of sorts the last few days. Anxiety has caught up to me again. For those of you who don't know me well, I have battled panic disorder for years. Some days my heart runs marathons. It's scary, even after hundreds of episodes, and wears me out after a particularly strong attack. I don't know what causes it. It strikes indiscriminately, often in the middle of night from a dead sleep. For this I take medicine and embrace holistic therapies. But sometimes, as lately, I'm still left flailing around, heart thrashing, convinced my next straggled breath is my last. Whew! I am lucky to have a supportive husband and many crafty therapies that all contribute to keep my sanity mostly in check.

This project really jump started me back into making jewelry after a lull of several weeks due to travel and the above mentioned problem. So I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope the eventual recipient wears it in good health and happiness.