I was very excited to learn that a local glass artist named Brian Serck had found a way to remove and save the coating from dichroic glass. I love the look of dichroic but there really wasn’t a good way to add it to enamel before now.
I took an online glass about the substance through Glasscraft and was really impressed … and quite surprised when they sent me a free sample.
That tiny bottle contains about $50 worth of the extract … good thing it’s used sparingly!
I couldn’t wait to try it out in the studio and the results were magnificent! Brian sandblasts his pieces and lets the dichroic settle in the grooves, which allows him to create beautiful shimmering color pictures. For my first piece I just brushed a little on, and I must say I’m really pleased with the results. Photos do not do it justice.
I have a fair amount of wildlife drifting in and out of my yard and I always enjoy watching them. Usually they get named collectively: the baby bunnies are called ‘Puffball’ and the robins are all ‘Rob.’ Every once in a while though, a few become special enough to get named individually.
My favorite visitor is a old rabbit I call BrokeLeg. BrokeLeg has a twisted hind leg, but she gets around great and is often accompanied by Puffballs so I know the injury isn’t holding her back. She’s quite laid back … except when her babies pounce on her in play and then she joins in the game.
The other special animal is a squirrel that lives on my roof. ScarNose is very curious and enjoys looking in the windows to see what we are doing. She’s a fierce little thing.
As the studio tour coordinator for the East Boulder County Artists, I have been incredibly busy these last few months. This year we will have 39 artists showing in Longmont, Erie, Lafayette, Louisville, and the easternmost end of Boulder itself. There’s a lot of fantastic things to see the weekend of May 4 & 5th … but you don’t need to take my word for it! The preview show at pARTiculars opens on April 3rd giving you a sneak peak at all our great artists’ work. You can pick up a studio tour brochure and map, and start marking the studios that you want to see.
We will be having a reception on April 19th from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm where you can meet the artists. Hope to see you there!
Meditation isn’t just about sitting on a pillow in a quiet room, there are many forms of meditation that revolve around doing ordinary things in a more mindful way. Some tradition activities are flower arranging or archery, but I also know people who meditate when they wash dishes or dust. For me, it’s all about the jeweler’s saw. To saw effectively, all of my concentration needs to be focused on two things: the blade and where it is going next. I can’t look off to where I will be in a half inch, or hum along to the radio, or wonder if it’s time for lunch … the second my concentration wavers, I will hear the awful ‘ping’ of a broken blade.
Today I am getting a lesson plan ready to teach a very interesting group of young people. We are going to make paper beads out of old magazines, junk mail, and scraps of wrapping paper. I am also making them each a copper pendant that they can decorate with colored pencil.
This is something I do to give back to my community, but in doing so I get so much in return. The young men and women in the class have a really interesting perspective on life and I enjoy listening to their stories. Each of them faces challenges that I can’t imagine and they do it with grace, courage, and good humor. Sometimes there are tears or anger, but no more than could be expected from anyone struggling with a difficult task. Their smiles when they see the beautiful things they have made more than make up for any despair that might creep in along the way.
Taking lots of photographs this week to get ready for this year’s summer shows (and hopefully adding some earrings to Etsy)!
A cute enamel black lab.
And of course, my booth shot!
Here’s my photography assistant, Kif Kroker from Futurama, hard at work balancing a reflector on his head. Oh Kiffy, what can’t you do?
Is there a jeweler that doesn’t go into overdrive in November getting ready for all the holiday shows? Here’s a sneak peek at some pieces that will be finished by the end of the day!
Sometimes insight into the artistic process comes at the most unexpected times.
Recently I attended a banquet to celebrate my husband’s graduate school advisor, Blas Cabrera. Dr. Cabrera is a celebrated experimental physicist, professor and person, and there were many fantastic and moving speeches by his colleagues, students, family and friends.
One of the speakers was Dr. Eric Cornell, one of the recipients of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Physics. Dr. Cornell spoke of a time when he was an undergraduate working in Dr. Cabrera’s laboratory, full of promise and excitement, whose talents could have led to many promising careers … he just had to make up his mind.
He made that decision during the development of a new piece of equipment. He described the intense conversations that occurred as the group struggled to find the best way to prove the existence of an elusive theoretical particle. Once a plan was in place, the discussions turned to more mundane topics such as hardware selection. Dr. Cornell described his surprise and delight when a conversation about selecting the right bolts for the project turned out to be just as intense and serious as the more esoteric work that preceded it. He spoke of how exciting it was to consider a career where difficult science and simple mechanics coexisted, and success demanded excellence on all levels.
Now, Dr. Cornell was talking about science, but the experience he described is a main motivator of craftspeople as well. It’s one thing to develop a successful piece of art, one that expresses complex thoughts and philosophies with clarity and desirability. But when that piece of art needs to be functional as well, it adds a whole new layer of difficulty. Some people would rather not be bothered with function, but others thrive on execution.
When I first design a piece, I am fully concerned with the artistic element. I don’t want to miss out on a good idea and I might, so I have to let my mind roam free of constraints, especially the constraint of practicality. Only when I have an idea fully fleshed out on the artistic level do I put my engineering hat on and spend time, a lot of time, working out the logistics. In the process try to alter the original concept as little as possible, which often requires intense decisions. When it comes to enamel, there is a delicate balance between strength and wearability. Not only does the piece need to work, it needs to work for everyone. I don’t mind if a person doesn’t care for something I’ve made because it doesn’t resonate with them aesthetically, but I never want to see someone put down a piece they adore because they physically can’t wear it.
So experimental science and functional art: both extending our limits without losing sight of the nuts and bolts.
I had an opportunity recently to spend a weekend in the California bay area, which afforded me the chance to see “Beyond Borders Experimentation and Innovation in Enameling” at the Richmond Art Center in Richmond, California.
The show did not disappoint. The juxtaposition of metal and glass is always alluring, and this is an especially attractive show. Beauty is a useful but underrated value; a gorgeous but challenging piece seduces its viewers into spending more time with a work that they might otherwise dismiss with a glance. One of the nicest aspects of an enamel show is that no matter how challenging the work is most, if not all, of it is quite beautiful. Thus the pieces at the Richmond Art Center command attention while they invite the viewer to reassess their notion of what is glass on metal.
The most commanding piece is Gabrielle S. Castonguay’s Corset – Le Lac, a full sized corset made from enameled copper panels and dimensional enameled flowers. The outside of the corset featured a flock of red birds on a bright blue and green background. Inside the colors were muted and featured a lengthy message in French. The tag mentioned that the corset was wearable, perhaps the only quibble I might have with the exhibit is that there were no photos or film of the piece in use.
Another piece I quite liked was Dianne Reilly’s whisper, an angle raised silver vessel covered with enamel. The surface, both inside and out, looked like a glossy translucent shell which, when combines with Ms. Reilly’s inventive use of cat whiskers, resulted in a piece that transcended the natural and manmade.
The show at Richmond Art Center features a nice overview of contemporary enamel: jewelry, wall pieces and vessels were all represented with several striking examples in each category. It is a must see for fans of glass on metal.
“Beyond Borders Experimentation and Innovation in Enameling” will be at the Richmond Art Center from Sept 15 – Nov 9, 2012.