Happy holidays to all of you, and most of all, a much better New Year. Don't lose hope, let your hearts be light and free, and may your goodness spread out from you like the ripples of a stone thrown in a pond. You do make a difference.
100% recycled, vintage, miniature rag dolls, made of reclaimed and tea stained fabric remnants, stuffed with recycled sawdust, and trimmed with bits of vintage lace and beads for a gentle twinkle.
Visit them in my Etsy shop.
An amulet to help with surviving gloomy, wet days of the Northwest winter: hazel twigs, cold forged horseshoe nail, operculum, found object, rosary fragment, and a crusty glass spike from Numinosity Beads. The components provide several layers of magical protection: the twigs act as a guardian, the nail an enhancer of powers, and the operculum, much like an evil eye, provides protection and stability. Add hot ginger tea, eat your greens and take extra Vitamin D and some hikes, even with umbrella, and you should make it to spring. I call it "Sigil,"for its powers and calligraphic quality.
Another truffle mould, with agate beads strung on knotted silk, set in copper. My continuing adventures with hand engraving are shown on the back of the setting. I love the soft, autumnal colors of the beads, as if taken from a forest on the edge of autum, with soft greens, caramel browns, creams and yellows. I have used a star milagro for a chain tag, and scratched my initials on the back. Will list this soon in my Etsy store. The papoose pendant is being reworked with walnut jasper beads of a delicious color, to call to mind walnut vanilla creme.
The chocolate mold (positive part) now set as a pendant in a short necklace of hazelnut twigs, unakite, and antique carved wooden rosary bead with a handmade hook and eye catch, strung on knotted silk. The hazelnut twigs are traditionally used by First Nations people for healing purposes, and they have been found to have antioxidant properties; the similar use of copper is well known, so I think of this little necklace as a talisman for healing. The papoose looks a little like a chrysalis, too, and I find her irresistable, myself! Even if you don't go for the healing theme, the colors are gentle and earthy, which makes it good for autumn.
you want to take up an arcane and demanding art? Try hand engraving. The tools
must fit your hand ergonomically; you must have a super-expensive swiveling
vise, googobs of patience, gimlet focus, and absolute mindfulness. Of course
I have none of those. Just a roll of masking tape, a block of wood, some
tools from school that I never learned to use properly, and I am too timid to
sharpen them or shorten them, for fear of ruining the temper of the steel. But!
I am trying anyway, since it occurred to me that plain sheet metal settings
could be a bit more interesting with some patterns on them. Here are some of my
scratchings, on a copper setting of a very interesting little object: a
maquette for a chocolate mold from an out of business chocolate shop somewhere
in Wyoming. Yup, it's a "papoose" that came in a set with a war
bonneted chief, a horse and covered wagon. Very American -- wipe everything out
and turn its vestiges into souvenirs. Mow down the trees and call it Walnut
Hill, pave paradise, etc. Then go out of business.
It is high enough to put my file cabinets beneath, and thick enough for my mandrel clamp, and long enough for more tool stations. The fresh pine smells great. Next, a peg board for the wall, to hang my hammers, and with luck, a jeweler's bench, second hand. Yipeeee!
With my studio uprooted and waiting for the new built-in work table, I am taking my time with the foundations of this project. The top photo is a sheet of tin, 4 by 4 inches, with multiple layers of gesso, prismacolor pencil, and matte finish acrylic spray, baked between layers and cured. The layering and successive sealing and baking enabled me to begin to show the changeability of the fascinating octopus. Below is a preliminary sketch. The body and mantle will be die pressed, and the tentacles and other details will be riveted-on layers of tin. I'm researching the wonderful creature, as well, and am finding many admirable and loveable qualities in their natural history.
What we think of the "head" is actually the body that holds all the organs, and internal gills connected to siphons. There is so much to learn about them, it just feeds my fascination, and adds energy to my creative forces!
Chivalry's Reward -- I had to come up with a story to explain the wonky state of this ring, made with a scratched up old stone from a repaired class ring, set upside down. It was irregularly cut and gave me fits getting the bezel and the bearing to match the off-true sides. Read the fantasy in my Etsy shop, here. I have discovered the perfect tool for distressing metal to get that age-old, many adventures look: my front sidewalk, in combination with a ball pein hammer. Awfully good for getting one's frustrations expressed -- time to make another!
I can't believe how "modernistic" (mid century atomic style) these turned out to be! So far, that is. The top layer, which was die pressed from a cigar tin, has kept its finish, and the hand colored pink used in the last abyssal anglerfish is the bottom layer. I will fabricate settings for the Preciosa ab rhinestones. They will be riveted together with copper ball head rivets and finished surgical steel posts. The die pressing on these was quite successful -- I added more to the "sandwich" of z-foam, another die plate. That evened up the pressure. These were pressed at 3,000 lb. I'm lovin' the results.
This is the last of the series, I think. This time the lady has company. This species is strongly dimorphic, so that you wouldn't recognize the male anglerfish, who lives attached to the female and exists simply to provide for reproduction. So I have made a tiny greenish one that attaches with a magnet, to provide some additional play to the piece. It can be stuck anywhere, you see, say, near the mouth as potential dinner, or on the body, or not worn at all and used only when the piece is displayed. I love the idea of jewelry as a toy, a doll, a plaything!
Fresh off the bench today, a double strand, matinee length necklace of eucalyptus caps from the Atlas Mts., turquoise, steel, and my own hand made charms cut from recycled tin (steel). The eucalyptus is fragrant and warms as you wear it, to waft the fine scent to your nostrils. It's a much more subtle, sweet and woodsy scent than the sort you are more used to.
What we call "tin" is actually a form of steel. Tin is another element.
I have come to really like this metal. It's practically free, so not a sumptuary item, and working it is a form of upcycling or recycling what would be waste. That's a good thing, right?
It is quite workable if you learn how to handle it. I strip old finish off with my little butane torch (outdoors, the fumes are noxious), and then finish cleaning it with Scotchbrite pads for scouring metal, found in most hardware storers. Anneal it if needed by heating to red-hot, and slowly backing off the torch, quickly covering it with a fire brick for slow cooling. Harden it by heating and quenching in mineral oil. It oxidizes well with gun blue paste or even liver of sulfur.
And it cuts with blades 7/0 and higher. I am trying 8/0 now because newer tins have very thin metal, and remember, you have to have the most teeth per thickness of the metal you can get, about 3, minimum. I support it on a bench pin. Any flexing during cutting makes a nasty job, so the bench pin support is crucial for good work. The dust from cutting is really messy, so I catch it in a cloth or paper bag, and I cover the bench pin with wax paper (this makes for easier cutting because the wax lubricates the saw blade and makes turning the workpiece smooth as silk.
Here's a work in progress shot, with little hands cut from tin, approximately one inch long.
And here's my work shop floor supervisor:
Abbie is a real lady. Sometimes I break a blade, and if I cuss, she will leave the room. So I have to watch my language. She is contributing to my patience and serenity. Isn't she lovely?
Pareidolia is when you see faces in burnt toast or dragons in clouds. Our brains are just made that way, so why fight it? I call these ones "Crybabies." They're colored free-formed upcycled tin with wonderful pit-fired beads from Darlene of Artistic Rejuvenation, so autentico they have fingerprints in places, and sent to me from magical Santa Fe.
Silly me, I didn't think about the faces until the final stage of assembly, but nevermind, I kinda like that hallucinatory quality.