Saturday, April 11, 2015

Wine Country Tessellated Necklace and Bracelet

The Wine Country necklace is finished. It proved a challenge since I wanted the kaleidoscope beads to not rotate and therefore made two channels for stringing. The round beads only have one hole, so the challenge was to find appropriate accent beads that would gradually channel into the one hole beads. A close-up view is below:
click on images to see larger versions
The clasp is also handmade, from coated brass wire:

The co-ordinating bracelet will be auctioned off in the ARCAC fund-raiser tonight and is pictured below:

Please feel free to leave comments or questions below. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Perfection = Predictable = Boring! The Artist's Mark

It feels great to be back in the saddle!
pattern assembled from scraps cut from the kaleidoscope cane

I've touched on this before. We create art because we have something to say, something that can best be said visually, not verbally. The viewer of our art completes the creative act by responding to the art. One thing that can derail this interaction is boredom (there are other things which I'll talk about another time).

For many, anything predictable is quickly glossed over. The brain likes to be engaged, and when it can predict the outcome or the continuing pattern or the next step it yawns and moves on.

Why is it, then, that many artists struggle so hard to make their work perfect?!

In any work of art it is the unpredictable colour, the unfinished line, the hint of something partially erased, that intrigues and makes the viewer stay a little longer, savoring incongruity.

In polymer clay, perfection can be achieved and repeated ad nauseum by a well-built machine. Why would we want to turn out art that looks like it was made by a machine?

The mark of the artist is unique to that artist and distinguishes a piece as hand-crafted, unique, special. That's why I've named my new studio The Artist's Mark. It's to remind me to remember to let my individuality be an integral part of my work, and to leave it visible so no one can mistake it for 1 of 100,000 produced in a factory.

I'll be demonstrating Kaleidoscope Caning at an art event at ARCAC this Saturday evening. There is very little exposure to polymer clay out here on the east coast of Canada, and I hope to stir up some interest. I've developed a palette for this cane that I call Wine Country. It is rich and elegant with a deep metallic colour that I call Madeira Wine colour, a soft, pale neutralized green called Celadon, a deep woodsy dark green called Deep Woods Moss, a soft white called Ivory, Black and a soft yellow called Sunshine.

If you would like the formulas for the all the colors in the Wine Country palette, leave a comment at the end of this post and I'll make it available at no charge, either via email or in the blog if there are enough requests.

Here are the beads that will be assembled into a necklace and bracelet to auction off at the event on Saturday.

extruded cane slices on co-ordinated spacer beads

beads ready for backing, then second curing and finishing

canes ready to tessellate

Hollow focal bead for the necklace, slightly irregular, definitely hand-crafted!
I'll post a picture of the necklace and bracelet when assembled.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Beach House and The Artist's Mark

We survived! What a year! I'm back by the ocean, only the one off the east coast this time, the same ocean I swam in till I was 7. I feel I can wave to my cousins in Sola, Norway and they might see me and wave back. There's something about coming back to the familiar, like putting on an old sweater that bends exactly where you bend. It looks right, smells right, sounds right, and it feels right. I have posted a bunch of pictures at the bottom so you can see the studio, the home, the view, the surroundings, and the moods of the sea. That feels right, too! The Arctic Fox asked if I found the storms and surging waters depressing or unsettling. These suit me. They suit my moods, fire my imagination and I find I sit and watch nature unfold in all it's power and beauty and can't be bothered with television. There is even a sound, quite distinct, that you hear when the tide comes in.

The new (old) studio is up and running and working perfectly. I can get as messy as I want! I have room to dance and there's even the odd little field mouse that shows up to see what I've been up to.

Hello, I'm back! Thank you to all of you who have patiently hung in there. I hope to share some interesting things with you this year.

To start, here are some very rustic, hollow beads. They fascinate me. Pods. In the garden. In the studio. Claire Maunsell gave a 1-day surface technique class in Montreal last spring and I'm so glad I was able to take it before the move. She's a lovely lady, talented, totally forthcoming, and a great example of "mining a vein". Look her up (she has a blog,, a flickr site and an etsy site).

This is my starting point for this year in polymer clay:

The bead we made in the class using various surface techniques:

The goal, in taking any workshop, should be, not to do identical work to that of your teacher, but to apply what you've learned to your own work, thus broadening the creative application.

Here's the subsequent development in my own work:




mounted as a pendant





These beads are all hollow, looking substantial but light in weight, yet very strong!

Here is our new place:

Unaltered photo!!!!! Sunrise on the salt marsh, from the deck.

same time, rotating 45 degrees, ocean view from the deck, tide is out.

view from living room window, tide is in

Some of our neighbours enjoying the sunlight on the crumbling pier.

other neighbours going for a stroll on the beach

"MY red cliffs"

tide is in


View of The Arctic Fox (in yellow, bottom right), pier and house from 800 feet out (low tide)

165 year-old house built by Capt. John Ross with beams and planks from a ship that went aground in St. Mary's Bay, across the street

The Artist's Mark, my new studio! Painting

metal and wire work

more painting

polymer Art

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Oriental Influence

I'm working with my Burlesque Blend, the red/bronze/black. It's my second favorite colour mix because I love those colours, for one thing, but also because they lend themselves to oriental designs. This is a necklace for a friend. It was a process piece, which took a long time, but was very gratifying since I had no idea of what I was going to end up with. Having spent the last month and a half process painting, I decided to work with the clay in the same manner, letting each choice/decision inform the next choice. I'm very pleased with the result. Earrings to come. I'll try to photograph the earrings at various stages so you can see the process.
Close up (lousy lighting - it's minus 42 degrees outside, pitch black - what else?!!!!!)
please click on images to enlarge

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sorry - I Had to Paint!

Metro East
The energy in this amazing city really influences me. I'm just glad I don't have to drive here!
Living on The Edge
I'm still working out the titles - have to live with them a while yet. Below is a new start with the next stage beside it. Much more still to come.

    Process painting, that's what I do. Sometimes I'll document my process and put it on my painting blog ( 
simply because I love to watch the process of other artists.
I'll continue the process on the other blog.

Next week, back to polymer clay

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Creative Well

Sometimes we get out of the habit of making stuff, and it's easy to think the well has gone dry - I have nothing more to offer creatively - who do I think I am anyway, an artist? Hah!

The Creative Well is a very special place. It never runs dry. Every time we look at something or smell something or touch something or hear something we are adding to the Creative Well. It's usually not something monumental and it's frequently without deliberate intent, but just as drops of water can erode rock, so drops of observations can fill that well. We just need to dip in.

So, when the blank page or canvas stares back, mockingly, haul out your "stuff". Go outside your comfort zone, grab a surface you don't usually work on, do something to it - anything - hammer nails into it, throw (carefully) bleach at it, use a tool you've tucked in a forgotten corner of your stowage, and, once you've done something, scatter your "stuff" around on the surface. Before long your right brain wants to play on the new, unfamiliar surface with old, familiar "stuff" and it starts arranging, manipulating, CREATING.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Sand Sweeper - Completed

The Sand Sweeper, version #1
The Sand Sweeper, version #2
As an abstract artist, one thing I sometimes struggle with is getting too literal. This unfolding saga has exacerbated this problem, especially if I name a piece before it is completed. I then agonize over making the piece fit the title. With this one I had partially built the vessel and hung a "tassel" from the keel, including the "brush" and the quartz crystal, and this had led to the name.

Now, how to complete it! I got stuck until I got frustrated and angry (ok, I got mad!!) and that's when I'm able to throw caution to the wind and just play "what if?"

I find I tend to set problems for myself, simply because I get a lot of satisfaction from solving problems. In this piece I had created a very strong asymmetry. With jewelry one has to establish not just visual balance but also physical balance - you don't want this thing swinging around as you walk and hanging on an angle, especially since I had restrained the asymmetry with very symmetrical links going up to the neck. The kinetic (yes, it spins) polymer clay "wheel" sitting at the stern of the vessel increased the "weight" on the left side, but continued the visual line up from the tassel, so it "felt" good there. 

I needed considerable physical weight to balance the right, also I needed something relatively dark and not too small to balance the visual weight. I chose a large fossilized shark's tooth, discovered on a beach in Ponte Vedra, Florida, during one of many times my family exiled me to the beach to dispel my depressive episodes (I have over 6,000 shark's teeth! Maybe that says a lot about my state of mind at that time! See, I need the beach - it keeps me sane!)

The effect was that of an anchor, but it created a problem - it visually takes your eye down rather than up to the face, and that's not good in jewelry.

Furthermore, the piece hung too low for such a relatively large focal point, so I enlisted the eye of a fellow artist (my younger daughter - I knew all the difficulties of raising children would pay off someday!) and the decision was made that the piece had to hang higher, which meant the two mokume gane beads had to go. 

The shark's tooth "anchor" was exchanged for a heavy, dark glass bead bracketed by two heavy copper endcaps to bring the eye up on the right.

The three white seaworm casings  with swarovski crystals at the tips are very kinetic and also move along the black wire, creating a strong, light focal area as well as eye-catching movement. They also add a feeling of fragility to an otherwise substantial piece.

Detailed images follow: