Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mother Nature's Sidewalk Art

There's nothing like a twig-eating puppy to help you be observant. While on the lookout for those twigs (and other consumables), I've had the opportunity to appreciate the world beneath my feet. The lighting can be very dramatic on our early morning walks and the sidewalks in our area (made from natural stone) are approaching the century mark - some have weathered just beautifully. One day the puddles froze into beautiful crystal patterns. Here are some images I was compelled to capture with my phone. A few were manipulated with some photoshop effects for fun. Hope you enjoy... click on the pictures to see them larger.

Monday, November 28, 2011

ArtCraft Holiday Sale

It's that time of year again–time for my favorite show. Of course I'm still madly creating new work... and I'm really looking forward to meeting new people and seeing old friends, fellow artists, and the wonderful customers who return every year. Join me on December 3 & 4 for great shopping in a festive atmosphere–hope to see you there!

Friday, November 11, 2011

PMC Sterling!

So it's finally happened - you may have heard that Mitsubishi will release PMC Sterling in December. I was hoping that a little more info might start to appear so I could pass it along, but guess we'll have to wait. 

If it has the greenware strength and flexibility of PMC Pro, I'll live with the carbon firing just to be able to use a little less material for the same effect and greater strength. The price is estimated to be less than PMC 3 so it will be great to save a little on the price of the clay. It will be well suited to making stronger clasps and bails and we will able to say a piece is sterling silver and not have to explain the fine silver difference... here's the info on the package insert.

If you just can't wait to try sterling metal clay, you can read Metal Clay Artist Magazine's' article by Lisa Cain (in Vol. 2, Issue 2) on making your own sterling metal clay, or watch Lisa's video. I have a bit of Pro on hand, so I think I'm going to mix up a little sterling clay just to see what happens...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fibula Workshop at La Ruche Davis

Seems like the weeks are flying by this fall. This August I had a great time teaching a class on PMC Pro - we made lots of rings! My classes at the Valley Art Center are in the 3rd week already and I'm preparing for a fun workshop next month in DC.

Ever want to try your hand at water etching and enameling? This could be your chance...

I'm excited to be teaching a water etched and enameled fibula workshop at La Ruche Davis - an extension of Ann Davis Studio (just outside of Washington DC) on October 15-16. But don't wait too long - there are only a few spots left - contact Ann for more information.

And if this isn't your cup of tea, Ann is offering several other classes so you can see what else she has scheduled!

If you haven't seen any of my water etched and enameled fibula pins, here are a few examples... 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Yes, but what have you done lately?

It's been a while since I've posted... life has been very busy. Some of you may have seen Tonya Davidson's blog where I had the honor of being featured as a "Muse Personality" a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed Tonya's great interview questions - I love reading the Muse interviews. Ask yourself the questions. It's fun to think about the answers.

So what have I done lately? When I've had a chance to do anything jewelry related, I've been playing with PMC Pro again. This is a ring made with Pro. I've worked on pieces designed to test the strength of the fired material and the handling in the greenware state. If you haven't tried Pro, you'd be amazed at the strength and flexibility of this metal clay as greenware.

Now, the hinge for this ring is made entirely of Pro... and while I worked on the ring I opened and closed the hinge at least a few dozen times. I shared the process of construction with my students and they couldn't believe how much handling the ring could withstand without breaking. The sections are pretty thin (about 3+ cards) and stayed firmly attached to the hinge knuckles throughout construction and clean up.

There are 3 white topaz faceted stones fired in place. One is on the top of the hinge, the other two are on either side of the center section.

And speaking of firing, I recently tried a Square HeadTM pot for firing the Pro and loved it. I'd been using soup cans but had been too busy to spray them with high heat paint so they quickly disintegrated. This ceramic pot was great - fired perfectly the first time with NO MESS!!!

And finally, what I've really been doing lately is this: surviving puppyhood. I've been absent from blog posting, Facebook, crafthaus, etc for a while.... and this little guy is the reason why. He's a four-legged-fur-covered creature that we adopted (at 7 weeks old) from a local rescue organization. He's FULL of puppy-ness and recently found his "big dog" bark (he's gonna be a big guy... and is already a great watch dog!). I'm exhausted (and sleep deprived), but he's worth it!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's a "Mentorial?"

It's a clever idea developed by Lora Hart. She took "mentor" and "tutorial" and put them together into one concept. The purpose is to help creative entrepreneurs "discover, re-imagine and refine their artistic voices; develop a conscious intention for their business; and fine tune their working practice."

Lora is the Artistic Advisor of the PMC Connection and a national PMCC Senior Instructor. Her "historically inspired" work has been featured in many books and magazines and she was one of the Whole Lotta Whimsy Master Muses. We are lucky enough to have her scheduled to come teach a class this summer for our local chapter of the PMC Guild!

Many people are turning to coaching for life and business. It seems that the chance to work with a talented, accomplished, supportive person could be really useful for developing a plan for success. People like Lora and Tonya Davidson are generous and supportive by nature. They love to teach and seem perfectly suited to guide others along the artistic adventure.

P.S. I'm sharing the info on Lora's and Tonya's mentoring programs (previous post) so people can learn more. These posts are not intended as an endorsement or advertisement - I just happen to think they're creative solutions for supporting artists and hope some of you might benefit from their experience.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Helping Artists Soar...

Tonya Davidson is busy helping artists soar. As long as I have known her, she has been very supportive of her fellow artists - as a teacher, nurturer of the creative spirit, and the energetic force behind Whole Lotta Whimsy. I'm always amazed at all the things Tonya does. She's always generous with her energy and ideas and has now developed a program for Artful Success, yet another way of "helping artists soar." My head just spins thinking about what her day must be like, yet she's always so calm and collected. She even started a Facebook page for the Artful Success program!

And speaking of Facebook pages, if you haven't seen this yet - Tonya created the Whole Lotta Whimsy Sunday Social Circle - a group for artists to meet, share ideas, experiences, and help one another. If you want to be a member, you can stop by the Whole Lotta Whimsy Facebook page on a Sunday and join. The group is very active - I can't keep up with all the posts - but I'm pretty sure Tonya is reading them!

Check out these resources... Tonya will gladly help you soar too!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Metal Clay Artist Magazine!

The metal clay community celebrates the second birthday of our very own magazine. Publisher, editor, and artist, Jeannette Froese Leblanc, had an idea for a magazine to support artists working in metal clay... lucky for us, she pursued that idea and Metal Clay Artist Magazine was born.

Since metal clay appeared on the jewelry scene (more than 15 years ago), it's gradually been gaining ground as a respected material/technique for jewelry making (fellow metalsmiths - listen up... metal clay is here to stay). Over the years, more articles about metal clay began to appear in the jewelry magazines. But was it enough to feed the growing interest in this new material?

Launching a print magazine devoted solely to metal clay at a time when print has been seeing a decline was an act of faith in the metal clay community. Jeannette was not disappointed - this international publication has a large circulation (growing every day), with the magazine available in major bookstores, craft stores, as well as bead/jewelry suppliers. With the help many supporters and contributors, including fellow editor Margaret Schindel (author of many informative Squidoo lenses), the magazine has blossomed into something really special.

And in addition filling the need for a print publication, Jeannette launched an online version for those wishing to read the magazine that way. This set MCAM apart in addressing those of us who like to hold a physical magazine and others who like their reading material delivered via computer. It's both tech and tactile...

For those of you who don't know, I started working with MCAM earlier this year selling advertising. This was a new challenge; I'd worked for a magazine, but on the graphics side - creating some of the ad artwork and working in production for a large local magazine and later art directing a smaller publication. But since I love working with the jewelry world and support the efforts of MCAM to bring information to artists, when Jeannette asked if I'd be interested I jumped at the chance. I've seen my mission as making connections for our readers with advertisers who have products they can use.

I like the idea of helping readers learn more, and many of the advertisers are small companies looking to find more customers - I really like helping them too. It's a win-win. I'm not a high pressure sales person, but one who likes to work with the advertisers to find what's best to fill their needs and budget. And it's a good fit because sometimes I wear my graphic designer hat so I can help with ad creation if someone needs it. If you are interested in advertising for your company, products, or classes, you can contact me at cathy (at) metalclayartistmag.com (ok, you had to see that coming... what kind of salesperson would I be if I didn't say something?).

Happy Birthday MCAM, here's to many more!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Penland Glass Book

Since the winner announced for the Penland Book of Glass never contacted me, I've drawn a new winner at random from those who originally commented and expressed interest in either book or the glass book. 

It's Pam! 

Nothing like a second chance :)

To the original winner (Laura) wherever you are - I waited a month for you to appear and even posted my search for you on the Lark Crafts Facebook page...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

New Directions: Powder Metallurgy in a Sheet Metal World Part 1


I'm excited to be a part of the current online exhibition on crafthaus - New Directions: Powder Metallurgy (Metal Clay) in a Sheet Metal World Part 1 is the first of a multi-segmented exhibition celebrating the unique personality that metal clay brings in the form of jewelry, vessels, functional and decorative objects. New Directions: Powder Metallurgy (Metal Clay) in a Sheet Metal World Part 2 will debut July 17, 2011 on crafthaus.  A print exhibition of the entire Powder Metallurgy exhibition will be on view at the Metal Clay World Conference to be held in Chicago July 14 -17, 2011. 
The show was organized by Susan Breen Silvy and Christine Norton; Juried by Ann Davis, Jeannette Froese LeBlanc, and Gwen Rukenbrod.
An expanded collection of images will be released in an exhibition catalog titled, New Directions:  Powder Metallurgy (Metal Clay) in a Sheet Metal World to be released at the Metal Clay World Conference in July, 2011.

crafthaus is a "lively online social network/community of contemporary art and fine craft practitioners and enthusiasts." It's a place where craft artists can connect with other artists. Artists can have a web presence (if they don't already), share work, participate in discussions, learn about calls for entry and much more. There have been several excellent online exhibitions and if you'd like to see some of the excellent past online exhibitions on crafthaus, follow this link.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Penland book winner? Hellooo?

Well, I heard from Kim, but not Laura. Hello Laura? Where are you? I'd like to send you the book. I'm afraid if I don't hear from you by April 19, I'll have to draw a new winner. I mean, that's a month, seems reasonable? So if you entered a comment on the book review, I'll draw from those who commented by the original deadline. The instructions to contact me are on the winner post.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ring A Week #4,5, and 6

Goodness... the weeks do fly by. I had posted some more rings to the flickr Ring A Week group a while back but never got a chance to post them here. Oh, I'm still behind... working on weeks 7 and 8, when the group is on 13. But nothing can be done about that - I'll have to press on in my own time, which is often behind schedule... and for anyone who wants to complain, you try fitting 25 (or more) hours into a 24 hour day. It's a real challenge!

But I digress... this is about posting rings, not about lacking time. I've written plenty about that already!

So here is the ring for week #4. It's Faux Bone again (yes, it's a series...) still just working out design ideas. This one uses a glass bead. These aren't finished rings. But Faux Bone is great to work with. I love making the shapes in this lightweight and easy to manipulate material. I'm going to use it again when I get around to a resin series for this challenge.

And week #5... (this and weeks 2 and 3 are my favorites so far) it's a coral bead.

And here's the ring for week #6. It's copper tube rivets holding Faux Bone and copper discs together.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

We have winners!

As promised... winners for the Penland books were chosen today using a random number generator. Congrats to the winners - wish everyone could win a copy... thanks for participating - I hope to be able to do this again so keep your eyes peeled!

And so... without further ado, the winners are:

Kim for The Penland Book of Jewelry 

Laura for The Penland Book of Glass


Please send your name and address to cdp(at)cdpdesigns.com so I can arrange to send the books to you!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Penland Books

Have you ever seen any of the Penland Books from Lark Crafts? These are beautiful books that function as master classes in technique. The Penland School of Crafts is an influential and highly respected center for craft instruction in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Each of the books showcase the work of 10 instructors who have taught at Penland and offer hands on technique sections by each of these artists. In addition, the books are filled with relevant technical information and plenty of inspirational examples created by other talented artists. These are just two of the books in the series - they are wonderful - see the end of this post for special surprise!

I love the Penland Book of Jewelry. It has been a favorite of mine since it was first published in 2005. Lark recently released it in a sturdy paperbound version. In this book, you'll experience the teaching of Marilyn da Silva, John Cogswell, and Tom McCarthy to name a few, along with seven other wonderfully talented instructors. The book is filled with page after page of inspiration - if you're a jewelry lover, you won't be disappointed.

 Marilyn da Silva

John Cogswell

Tom McCarthy

Until recently, I'd never seen any of the other books in the Penland series. The Penland Book of Glass is amazing too. I really like glass, though my experience is limited to enamel (both kiln and torch work) and some very basic lampworking - I was totally in awe of these flamework techniques. Like the jewelry book, it's filled with beautiful examples and wonderful instruction by talented masters (and was just released in paperback too). Some of my favorite pieces from the book are shown below.

Elizabeth Ryland Mears
Kristina Logan
Shane Fero
Here's the best part about sharing these two books with you: Through the generosity of Lark Books, I can really share them - Lark provided a copy of each to give away! Post a comment on the blog by March 18th (indicate which book you'd like to win if you have a preference). I'll announce the winners (drawn at random) on March 19th. Good luck!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ring A Week #3

Here's the ring for week #3. I'm having a blast. These aren't about making finished rings - at least at this point. They're about experimenting with different materials - trying new forms, exploring ideas. You can see lots of cool rings in the Ring A Week Flickr group.

Today our PMC Guild local chapter had a "field trip" to a wonderful bead shop. We went to Bead Paradise II in Oberlin, Ohio. And Gail Lannum took lots of pictures! I found a bunch of great beads to use for some rings. Just need to make some sketches so I don't forget what I want to do with them. After shopping we had lunch at Weia Teia - inspired cuisine and fabulous presentation...

On another note, I've been fooling around with fold forming again. Maybe I'll find a way to work something like this little beauty into a new ring.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ring A Week #2

Here's ring # 2... another Faux Bone creation. The stone is Leopard Jasper. 

This Ring A Week challenge is shaping up to be even more fun than I expected. And the challenge I gave to myself was to try NOT to use my usual materials for everything. But if I do use them, I'll need to incorporate them with other materials in a new way - just to shake things up a little and stir the creative pot. I find I'm already sketching well into the next few weeks - excited about what is to come. The ring for week #3 is in the works and I'm hoping to finish and post it soon - so I'm all caught up by the end of the week.

The stone on this ring is secured in place with a copper rivet and insured in place with epoxy. The stone fit well without the epoxy, but I didn't want it to move. With the combination of the copper and the plastic, I didn't trust the rivet enough it to hold it tight... so it's chemically bonded. I tried a couple of different finishes on the FB but really wasn't thrilled with them. I didn't like the aged look as much as the more dramatic juxtaposition of the natural stone against the plastic. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Getting creative in the New Year

New earrings in the shop!
First of all - Happy New Year!

Ok, I know I'm a couple of weeks late - but I've been too busy getting my ducks in a row to post anything. There were photos to shoot for the Etsy shop (re-stocking), show applications to get started (thinking I'll get back to doing more this year), then there are taxes to file, you know the drill...

The first weeks have been about trying to knock off those nuts-and-bolts kind of goals so I can sink my teeth into more creative stuff. It was important to get those under way before the new session of classes begins next week.

You may remember I'm not so much into "New Year's resolutions." My philosophy is: if you want to change or achieve something, just dig in and do it now (usually this works). Last year I talked about my goals in terms of taking steps on a creative journey. Some of those steps I achieved, others I didn't - but no matter. Sometimes just putting down on paper (or into your smart phone) those things that deserve your attention can work them into your life.

I don't know about you, but I like to make lists. I don't always follow them (or even remember where I've put them), but the act of making them seems important. There are both the short term lists (get it done today or this week) and the longer term ones (the idea stuff).

My creative (goal) list is the one I'm focused on now. To get my creative brain into gear I joined the Ring A Week flickr group. It's going to be a challenge-but a good one. I don't usually make a lot of rings, but why not? Sometimes making something different helps to stir your creativity. So far I have put this first ring up (another view). I wanted to play around with different materials. It's one I started in Faux Bone (with an enamel glass bead I made) and finally got the inspiration to finish it. I've got the ring for week two almost ready - and then I (just) need to photograph it.

Hope your New Year is off to a creative start. Let the Art-Making begin!