Tuesday, May 29, 2007

packing up the studio and the Daphne Farago collection

Last night I packed up a good part of my studio to ship it to Georgia - I'm taking a certification class in Art Clay Silver with Pam East next week, and will need a goodly number of my tools and metal clay paraphernalia down there. Since I'm flying and my last couple of experiences with the "inspectors and handlers of checked bags" has been less than stellar, I figured shipping with insurance might ensure that what I shipped got there.

and now my metal studio looks pretty empty - yes, the big stuff , like the kilns and the drill press and grinders are there - and I didn't ship most of my molds or textures, but now through the end of the week, I'll probably be playing with polymer in my spare time, rather than metal clay. not that there's much "spare time", as the real job is intruding into my "free" time this week with Town Meeting - a uniquely New England experience. I'm thinking about an article in the Boston Globe last week about a new jewelry exhibit at the Boston MFA - "Jewelry by Artists: The Daphne Farago Collection"- about 300 pieces, mostly by studio (as opposed to production) jewelers that Mrs Farago collected over a 50 year period - two of the pictures in the Globe really caught my eye - a Calder necklace that is very evocative of his mobiles, and a John Paul Miller pendant entitled Polyp Colony that uses granulation and enameling to replicate the amazing colors and textures of a sea polyp. the MFA website has a interactive preview program at . When I viewed it, a few of the links appear to be broken, but try all 15 screens.

Perhaps in thinking back over some of the artworks I enjoyed in museums around the work, I can come up with a jewelry design that evokes one of them - maybe watery green-blue opals (to replicate the brush strokes in one of Monet's Giverny paintings) in a silver and gold waterlily setting. A good way to spend 4 hours in an uncomfortable seat in a high school auditorium, while those around me debate prudent spending policies.
If you go to the interactive MFA program, be sure to go to screen 13- where there's a Jan Yager sterling silver dandelion that reminds me of the metal clay over botanicals that I do from time to time. Would be interesting to hear how the artist captured the veining in sterling- probably not as easily as we do in metal clay.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

the disposable life and why education matters,even to an artist

As I'm new to this blogging thing, I hope you can forgive the lack of fancy bells & whistles at the moment - I have to find out how to have the link appear with a picture, rather than just doing the addresses as I've been doing - this too will come if you have patience.

The disposable life

for 30 years, I was a dyed in the wool Minolta SLR fan. I have 5 35 mm minoltas, ranging from a SRT101 to a 570 to a 700 to a XG7. these are workhorse cameras- I rock climbed with them, bashing them into rock walls at Yosemite, dropping them as I fell into a tide pool at Big Sur. heck, I cross country skied through the Sierras, falling occasionally into snowbanks with them. I have a plethora of lenses that fit all the cameras, most with multiple dings on the cases. The 101 was my favorite for ice & snow- with manual everything, I didn't have to worry about the batteries dying. all metal bodies- and the lenses were mostly metal, too. and with all those dings and drops, I never had a piece of equipment fail on me.

then digital came along. I'm a late converter. It wasn't until a trip to New Orleans in the late 90's that I finally picked up a little digital camera - the gateway DC50. small, but not so small my chunky fingers had trouble with control, it served me well in a 5 megapixel world. but I yearned for a digital slr and last year invested in a canon digital rebel.

sure, the body is mostly plastic and the lens is too, but it does do 8 MP of glorious picture. and it looks and feels and behaves more or less like a SLR. Until last week, while trying to get reshots for a Step by Step Beads article, and the camera dropped out of its case as I opened it, and fell approximately 24 inches onto a heavily carpeted floor, landing lens down. well, I have a recommendation for you if you own one of these babies - don't take them rock climbing at Yosemite...don't take them to Big Sur....forget about cross country skiing with them...don't open the camera case unless it's sitting on a table. You'll notice the pic at left shows a slightly larger space to the left than the right of the
lens cap? and that silly little difference means that nothing automatic on the camera worked. called Canon , since the camera was less than a year old and was told that their warranty doesn't cover stupidity (well, they put it nicely but that's what they meant). when I mentioned how I tortured my minoltas, there was a pause, then the nice young man responded- "that's probably why Minolta got out of the camera business. Would you like to order a new lens?"

He may be right. I used to buy a tire that guaranteed me 40,000 miles - I regularly got 50-60,000 out of them. they're not made anymore. I think canon and their lenses are like the printer companies, who low ball the price on a printer, but the price of the replacement cartridges kill you. maybe that's why the landfills are are becoming "landfulls" = full of last year's cellphones and pda's and computer monitors that no one wants. give your old cellphones to your local women's shelter or police department - they'll recycle them for abused spouses safety nets.

why education matters,even to an artist

it's a strange world we live in. yes, I bought the replacement lens because a week from today, I fly south to Atlanta to take a Sr. Certification class in Art Clay Silver with the divine Pam East. Yes, this is on top of the old format 3-day level 1 and 2 certs that I hold from PMC Connection. I am so excited about this class. I've had to work around a move at my "real job", and Mom's illness, but it's finally going to happen-and I want to be able to take pictures during the class.

Pam (in case you don't know her) is one of the few US ACS Master instructors, and an enameling whiz. she has a book (http://www.pinzart.com/product/0413) coming out shortly on the art of enameling on metal clay and I'll be coming away with 6 projects, a wealth of information- and an idea of what 3 projects I need to submit to the jury to qualify as a sr instructor.

so there is a goal in mind for this class I'm taking, but even if there weren't, I'd probably still be doing it.

Just as I've signed up to take a class with Kelly Russell (http://www.beadfuddled.com/)

and just missed a class with Jana Roberts Benzon (http://www.janarobertsbenzon.com/) .

I'm a firm believer in learning, and whenever possible, learning from someone who's the very best at what they do - even if it's something I may never use again, once I learn it, it's mine and no one can take it away. and someday (like those physics classes back in high school- as I stood last year with a chainsaw in hand and a tree on my garage roof, I was able to calcualte where to tie the rope from the car to the tree- and where to cut the tree so that it came down exactly where I wanted it to with minimal damage to the roof) it may come in handy. and both these artists are genuinely nice people, in addition to being fantastic artists.

I met Kelly at The Bead House (www.thebeadhouse.com) in Bristol, RI, during one of Celie Fago's Hollow forms and Keum Boo classes (www.celiefago.com) and she blew me away. and Jana left us speechless last July at the SO CT Polymer Clay guild's retreat - Clay Connections- when she showed us her method of getting canes moving to reduce them (and these were HUGE canes) - by flailing them on the floor. her demos at this event were SRO - and filled with laughter. that's been one of the great things about working with metal clay and polymer clay - the wonderful, sharing people I've met along the way.

Lindly Haunani (http://www.lindlyhaunani.com) was able to help me 'see colors' (no small feat as I'm colorblind to browns and greens) while we were "dancing with the rainbows " at a weekend with the Lexington MA polymer clay guild.

Christi Friesen (www.cforiginals.net) got me hooked on sculptural techniques with that same group- and taught me that it's never too late to have a happy childhood.

Sarah Shriver (www.sarahshriver.com) taught me not to be frugal with my clay when making canes (what do you mean, reduce the cane down to 1"? I started out at 1"!!!), so when I met Jana and her 25 pound canes, I didn't write her off as a crazy lady.

can I replicate anything that any of these magnificent artists taught me? not exactly, but I find myself incorporating pieces of things I learned from each of them into my work - and it makes me a better artist. ...and a less boring person.

so keep taking classes - and maybe take one from me (www.silvergoldnglass.com), so I can afford to take more......

a first for everything

After following a couple of my favorite blogs - http://www.polymerclaydaily.com/ and http://www.squidoo.com/preciousmetalclay , I've decided to add my thoughts to cyberspace, too.
I'm one of those odd artisans who came to polymer and metal clay late in life - made a conscious decision to add Metal clay to my jewelry making repertoire about 5 years ago, when two unfortunate events occurred - my mother, who's lived with me since my dad died, developed colon cancer and I developed carpal tunnel syndrome. I knew my hands were giving out and it was going to be very hard to drag stained glass around to chemotherapy sessions- that had been my creative outlet for about 15 years.

I started with beading, making tons of beaded bangle bracelets while mom underwent CT scans, chemotherapy and surgeries. Beading is highly portable, and it became almost a form of meditation for me during mom's many medical procedures. As long as my hands were busy, my mind remained calm....

then I moved on to move complicated peyote stitch necklaces, but was frustrated by the focal beads I found in local bead shops.

I'd seen work that Barbara Becker Simon (http://www.bbsimon.com/) had done with metal clay and thought - I can do that.

Looking around, there were almost no general or introductory classes in metal clay available in the area, but I did spot a level 1 certification class taught by Cathy Szemanek about an hour away. 2 hours before my first day of class was to begin, mom suffered congestive heart failure and I spent the day at the hospital with her. days 2 and 3 were busy, busy , busy as I played catchup with a medium I fell in love with. Level 2 cert followed and several classes in specific techniques.

In one class we used polymer clay to make molds of antique beads - and that was my polymer experience for a couple of years. then a friend said "you know, you can do a lot more with polymer . the local guild is hosting a 3 day retreat - why not come along...." and another yellow brick road opened up to me.

the members of the NH and central MA polymer clay guilds that hosted the event (the inaugural Klay Karma in 2005) were very welcoming.
poor Judy Dunn (http://www.moms-studio.com/) had me as a table mate and she very patiently introduced me to skinner blends and clay extruders. The members of the So CT guild held and comforted me as I talked about Mom's cancer . As a result of the retreat, I joined the MA guild
and about 6 months later, I joined the NH guild to take a class with Kathleen Dustin (http://www.kathleendustin.com/) at Wingdoodle (http://www.wingdoodle.com/) in Warner , NH. Boy, talk about jumping off the deep end. before that class, I could make 4 different canes. At the end of the class I was layering gold leaf with translucent clay , slicing the resultant cane at an angle and overlaying those slices over drawings I'd made on the base bead- and several other canes - then sanding the baked piece to bring out the translucence, It may not have come up to the standards of the other, more experienced, participants in the class, but I'd moved light years ahead of where I'd been 3 days earlier.

Mom's health continues to be a roller coaster ride. but during her good periods, I've found time to expand my interest in polymer and metal clay and fused glass- started teaching metal clay through the Brookline (MA) Adult Ed program, where I'd previously taught stained glass, and jumped off the website bridge with a basic personal website - http://www.silvergoldnglass.com/.

and now a blog... stay tuned for my ramblings.