Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mardi Gras Dark Chocolate Goose

A chocolate mold in the shape of a goose.  I used a gun finishing compound designed for old muzzle loaders that gives a plum brown color to oxidize, 'cause I was really thinking about chocolate. Then I made two chain fragments with old wooden rosary beads, with a hazelnut I found in the woods -- a lucky hazelnut because it escaped the squirrels.  And some wonderful swirly glass beads that look like chocolate and buttercream, and more of my beautiful antique gold lame soutache braid.  And the piece de resistance, an old feve (king cake charm).  It all seems to be about mardi gras, that last bit of indulgence before Lent.

My love for Nola will never die.

I collaged in a bit of text from a French
language grammar on the back.

A close up of the feve, which is an old custom -- 
they are baked into a "king cake" as a charm for
a lucky person.  In most places, the king cake
is a custom for just after Christmas, the feast of the
three kings, but in dear, sweet Nola, the king
cake comes before Lent.

Just as with the Watch Cat, this one is very comfortable, light weight, and quite girly, for all the somber, oxidized, antiquey color.  It's French Quarter-ish, to my mind.  Who dat?

Listed in my Etsy shop here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Watch Cat Antique Chocolate Mold Assemblage Necklace

I had a watch cat once, when I lived in an upstairs apartment.  She would go to the door and growl when she heard people in the hallway.  Really.  She had been rescued from a dumpster, and I think she was going to defend her good home.

Here's a necklace made with an antique chocolate mold which I oxidized, and then foiled the eyes for a little drama and fun. It is half chain, half tied-on antique lame soutache braid. All the beads have been salvaged, some from an old rosary, some are seeds, some wood, some glass, and one tiger eye, linked into a chain assembly and then linked to the soutache.  A salvaged spring ring clasp is just next to the bird charm, in the front, so you don't have to untie the beautiful textile part. I added a perching bird charm and some bells, not loud ones; they make the softest little sound.

I collaged the inside of the mold with a scrap of from an old children's reader, to add a bit of weight and interest.

I think it wears well and it's very comfortable,
light-weight, and dainty.

Friday, August 23, 2013

We Need Smell-o-Vision

My friend Al brought me some plums from a crop that is cluttering up his yard and drawing bees. A dozen of them, plums, that is.  This means it's dessert time here at Fort Readbetweenlines.  An easy recipe found here.  Pure midwestern soul.  Now, to brew a fresh cup of coffee.  Maybe some cream on top? It's time for elevenses in the Great Northwest.

Fragrant, bubbly, crispy on top, gooey underneath
sweet and tart, ruby fruit, honey amber crust--
Jewelry for the tummy.

PS:  It's a good idea to slip the skins off the fresh plums for cooking, since the skins will make the plums more bitter than when they are fresh.  Not sure why this is so, but it seems to be the case. To peel them, boil water, briefly spin the plum in it and quickly dunk in ice water.  This will make the skin slip right off. It works for peaches and tomatoes, too.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Is it a book or is it a box? It is ah-sem-blahjj.

This one's the most ambitious in scale yet. 7 x 4-1/2 x 1-1/2.  All of the board is from a retired book, which you'll notice if you read the red stamp on the inside, "this is no longer the property of the Everett Public Library."  I love the font, so mid-century brush, and the great names of constellations.  Somehow it nudged up against an old cactus catalog and they made friends, even mated, as you will see, and, what with the star cactus and adventures in gardening, it is revealed that we are all sprouted from star seeds.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


I mentioned in a previous post that I was thinking about boxes, but as small artworks, of an intimate scale. While we're at it, they can have function, which I suppose to some means they are craft. Well, OK, call 'em what you like, but they are assemblage.

From my little chests of old paper, and scraps of cloth, cigar boxes and book covers, and made with an intuitive process. I can't seem to find a way to cut an accurate mitered score to bend them up from one flat piece (the old cigar box cardboard and bookboard is too thick and often rather brittle).  So I began collaging over corners and making cloth hinges to fortify them.  They have been kept in my jar of potpourri, so they are fragrant, too.  My original idea was to use them for packaging my jewelry sales, but I think they may stand alone as ah-sem-blahjj (a la Michael DeMeng's favorite way of saying it).

Old wallpaper, dress pattern instructions in French,
an illustration from a Canadian mail order catalog advertising
men's pajamas, postcard birds, sealing wax, millinery trim,
the spine of an old book cover, salvaged cloth, button,
and that's just the outsides.

Insides have more text from 19th and 20th c. magazines
(I do love those little ads with the funky illustrations;
artists made a living at line drawings in that marketplace)
die cut paper butterflies that came to me in packaging from
an Etsy seller; a hand cut stamp of my own; and that
wonderful dress pattern tissue in French, so shabby chic.

This is the one I think is closest to a stand alone art work.
I call it "Smoking With The Stars, a Midcentury Bromance."
The two gentlemen, advertising men's pjs, are sharing a smoke,
on a bookboard salvaged from a retired library book about
the constellations, with corners reinforced with scraps of text
from the dressmaking pattern, the star book, and other cute oldies.
I drilled the bookboard and affixed a Bakelite button and the rolled
sari silk scrap for a closure.  It is close to the size of a hard
pack of cigarettes.  The two gentlemen look alot like
certain prominent Hollywood stars of the day; can you guess who?

I'm listing the Bromance one, just to test the waters. It's substantial, and I varnished it so it could take some wear. I prefer the nice, frosty matte look of paper surfaces, but I also wanted this one to have some beef to it. It's so much fun; every face has a little accidental detail that comes together with others to hint at some sort of story. You figure:  "Fred", "Frederick," "Paris," "Answer to Augusta's Question," "Big Dog," "feel every beat of your heart" -- some hidden on the edge of legibility. It would be just right as a bit of heart (art) on a desktop, no?  A little provoking, at once topical and mysterious.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

You Are My Person

Mmm.  You smell so good to me.  Ahh.  Together we are one.  Bliss.

Abbie has been promoted to an administrative position in my art biz.  I expect a meteoric rise from middle management, and will be sure to keep you posted on her career.  As you may recall, she rescued me about 18 months ago.  It has been a tough job, but she has done it extremely well!  She does, incidentally, have excellent health benefits, having recovered from fully covered, no copay, back surgery last November.  And, without a leash, I can't keep up with her.  You go, Abbie.

An Honest Playmate, and Self Mastery

No problem here with the rush to sexualize the kids, or with glitzy plastic acoutrement, these are natural kids, and a natural child is a lot of fun.  They may be a little patched from skidding into home base, with grass stains and dirty feet, but they are completely loveable and just plain kids. They get along pretty well, most of the time. Their summers last for a long time, time enough for extended adventures of limitless days awaking joyous to sunlight and promise. Remember going to sleep to the sound of crickets and waking up to mocking birds?

These ones are stuffed with recycled sawdust from the local lumber store, and dressed in hand dyed salvaged fabric. They have old mother of pearl buttons for eyes, french knots for hair and embroidered smiles.

Couldn't you use a good, honest playmate?  Of course you could!

I'm relisting some of my older things, these dolls and some wall assemblage pieces from 2009. I like to keep a lot of variety in my shop, so please don't be confused by it all -- there are actually similarities between these pieces and the jewelry I make.

Should I go, or should I stay? The Chimera's Dilemma -- a little boy-faced bird perched on an old spool, in the doorway of the house, wondering whether to migrate with the birds or stay home, either way, there's yearning involved. If you go, you long for home, if you stay, you long to fly.  It is a dilemma.

Here's an altered Altoid tin (a favorite format), with a theme of "Master," and whatever thoughts may be inspired by the face I found on an antique cabinet card. He seems to have alot of composure and self mastery, but he is a bit odd, too. It features also scraps of my own marbled paper (from before you could find the ingredients or kits, from before the net, back when I was in school, mom saved it for me), a scrap of pressed brass, and a grand old key tag, wrinkled and stained, that finally found its home, just short of the trash pile, and of course the master key. And the great old electrical cord, with copper wires that got shorted, covered with fine cotton braiding. It's a bit of a challenge for some, but I do love this piece, and have kept it on my studio wall. Now that I am making more space for newer work, it's getting listed on Etsy.

We've had a brilliant summer here, and now the first cloudy and cool days of approaching autumn seem like a loss.  Enjoy each day my friends, change is the only constant!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wunderkammer Miracle Cabbage Full of Life Seed Box, Brooch, Portable Art Work

I was fortunate to attend a class led by the Mistress of Tin, Marlene True (who is now represented as a tributary at the Metal Museum in Memphis), last year at The Ranch.  One of our projects was a hinged box. I made one of tin that I torched to remove the paint, and from there it became a little receptacle for three antique vials of seeds Randi gave me, from old hardware stock found in Maine; in my pile of antique magazines, one of them, believe it or not, The Modern Priscilla, I found an add for seeds ("Huckabee's Full of Life Seeds, Cabbage $800 an acre") and it all just fell together, the way things do when they need to happen.  It is now a brooch, or tabletop personal wunderkammer, or a wall piece, all TBD by a new owner.  I am beginning to think more of this sort of thing -- yes, it can function as jewelry, but it is really art on a personal scale, portable, adaptable to intimate spaces, and not far from being a toy, either.  I just love the little ol' thang, but thangs are piling up around here and I need to make room, figuratively (in my work generating internal spaces) and literally (in my work space).  To see more of Marlene's Work, click this, or go to the Metal Museum.  The thang is now in the statement gallery in my Etsy shop.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Virtues We Can Do Without

self-ef·fac·ing (slf-fsng)
Not drawing attention to oneself; modest.
self-ef·facement (-fsmnt) n.

This traditionally feminine virtue is not of much use when you are trying to sell your work.

Humility can be deceptive, anyway.  It is
most useful in getting a person to
share her ice cream.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Run, Don't Walk

Fellow artists, go right away over to Sparrow's latest post and even if it gives you prickly heat, read it and take it to heart.  As you read through the beefy paragraphs, don't argue, don't say "yes but," or "if only," because when you get down toward the end and read price comparisons to what can be had at trendy, up-market places, you will be gobsmacked!  Then reconsider the value of what you do, and expect to be paid for it.  Matter of fact, give yourself a raise!  If you don't, who will?

And read the comments, too.  You will have an answer for the next wannabe customer who expects the starving artist to give a discount, something along the lines of, "what would you say if your boss wanted you to take a 10% cut in pay?"

Thank you, Sparrow.  My eye is on you!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Talsiman for the Time Traveler

One of the legends of the true cross tells of the journey of Helena, Constantine’s mother, to find the cross upon which Christ was crucified, which she found; ever after throughout medieval Christendom, bits of wood were hawked to pilgrims as pieces of the True Cross. The pendant talisman of Charlemagne, first Holy Roman Emperor, contains a piece of the True Cross, enshrined beneath a rock crystal jewel, with which he was entombed. A cycle of legends about the tree that was the source of the cross includes the story that it grew from a seed placed in the mouth of Adam’s corpse. All, I think the effort of folk to give faith material substance, alas, not such a simple matter, and one that makes us vulnerable to charlatans.

This necklace began as an old rosary, of dusty dry wooden beads, with only a fragment of the broken crucifix left hanging, which did make me think of the true cross phenomenon. To this I’ve added a pendant of oxidized copper in the shape of an eye, with milagros below – leg, foot, arm and hand, with the fragment hanging below. It makes a rustic and mysterious talisman, which I have charged with the duty to protect its owner from charlatans, mountebanks, and liars of all kinds.

It just might help.  If you think about it.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Definitely Done Now -- A Swivel Mechanism

Because a hefty pendant like this stop watch reliquary will want to turn as you move about, it should be joined to the chain with a swivel, which I found out after wear testing.  After a bit of ruminating (this stuff interferes with my sleep at night, actually), I came up with my own swivel mechanism:  A length of steel wire was flattened and spread in the middle, a hole drilled, a balled head pin fit to the hole, then the length was bent around a mandrel into a sort of split ring, hardened with some hammering, and the head pin slipped in and coiled into a connection that fit another jump ring.  Now all done, and the watch spins around nicely on the little swivel.  Now I'm done.

Friday, August 2, 2013

All Done Now

No good light here today, but I wanted to post it, so here it is, all done now!

It wears very nicely, although I think a pendant as massive ought to have a swivel mounting, which is what I'll try next.  I'm thinking more nails, used to make one of these.  You'll notice on the old watches, there was a swivel connection to the watch.  What I am noticing is, when it is worn around the neck, the weight and shape of the watch makes it turn around on the chain when you bend.  I am hoping a swivel will correct that.  Besides, it will be fun to make one.  So perhaps there'll be another WIP post.