Creative Sprint – a 30 day creativity challenge. I signed up ages ago, and forgot really, so I wasn’t exactly prepared when the first email landed in my inbox!
For those who can’t be bothered to go to the website (really, just click it!) I get a daily email with a theme or task designed to exercise the creativity muscles
I’m going to condense my tasks into grouped blog posts, partly because I’m already a little behind, and partly because I’m sure some of these will be pretty brief!
Day 1 – fits in your Palm
My initial plan was to make an origami bird, though its never been something I’m good at, they turned out far too big and unbirdlike, and thats just the ones that got finished! Either I’m not good at following instructions, or they weren’t very clear. Likely a bit of both. and I wasn’t entirely happy about ‘creating’ from instructions, rather than from my own head. so I went back a step, something small, and simple. The paper I’m using is the sheet from underneath a mandala drawing I did recently, where the pens bled through.
Day Two – Letters of my Name
This was quite the challenge I set myself! spelling out my name in gemstones, fine, but gemstones I can get hold of (thankyou job at Monty’s Beads for making that one much easier!) and that look nice together, sizes, shapes and colours? Trickier.
I finally settled on the following:
Moonstone, Amethyst, Druzy, Emerald, Labradorite, Iolite, Nephrite Jade and Emerald again (yes ok, maybe there should be at least two, but they’re big ok? and yes, Maybe the M should be the big bead…well some other time maybe!) Some other options were white moonstone rather than the orange, lapis, dalmation jasper, malachite and apatite. There were very few options for I, E and N, in fact none that I could get my hands on in time.
I’ve been meaning to do this type of simple wire wrap for some time, the one on the emerald, but it didn’t work that well with the random rough shapes, I still struggle with rustic! The emeralds also make these far too heavy, I’ll likely re-make these without those big emeralds and I know that will just make them Madlin, but I’m ok with that, as I like the colour combination so much, even though, or perhaps especially because it’s so unusual, and I most definitely would not have come up with it any other way!
Day 3 – Faces
This one made me smile to myself, a few days ago a friend did this:
The strangest thing about this photo (and nobody noticed!) is that I’m wearing a PAIR of socks. Those who know me, know this is rare.
so as for faces I created…
I was at work on my lunch break when I got the email, I looked up and saw some tools on the opposite bench, I didn’t have googly eyes to hand, which would have been the easy and fun way to do this, or I could have taken pictures and digitally painted them in…but I didn’t.
so I drew them later.
In the initial email, it said that you could choose a theme to stick to with your challenges. You might see mine emerging…
In my last post I introduced you to my making process, and left you tantalisingly close to seeing how its starting to look together…
Its really starting to take shape now!
so, now its in one piece, next stop try it on!
now gravity is involved, I can start to make adjustments, the double strand section needs something to the right as its not sitting the way I want, the goddess does need something above her, just not the flower, and the big pyrite, not that you can quite see it in the picture, but it looked wrong! so out it will go.
also, those silver beads are now black silver beads!
at this point I got rather lost in it, the end was in sight and I completely forgot the pictures!
These beads are in fact two different colours, a red orange and a hot pink. I’ve sorted a few out as I think this needs to be one or the other, not both.
I switched out the tiny mauve crystals that didn’t quite work for the pink beads above, on looking it as a whole, the only pink anywhere was in the lampwork, and it needed to tie in, but as I said before, not a flat pink, and not too much of it
so now it looks like this:
and it was such a beautiful afternoon, I headed to the garden for some pictures of it being worn
Thanks for sticking with me on this journey of a necklace!
I suppose I should mention that if you wish to make this necklace yours, its available in my etsy shop
Its what I strive for in my designs. But its more than physical balance, which in itself is a tricky line to tread when working with drastically assymmetric pieces like these, coupled with using my handmade beads, which by their nature are heavy, I don’t really do small, and they are glass! I also dislike putting them in the middle, that would be like, too easy?!
In addition to the physical balance, there is colour balance, and visual balance. oh and a balance of ingredients, of handmade components, gemstones and glass, sterling silver, bronze! it will be different for each piece of course.
But theres still more, theres another balance I strive for
That between the jewellery and the beads. By which I mean, I want people to notice the necklace as a necklace, but I also want them to see the pretty amazing bead I made it around. For the necklace to be as good as the bead, and vice versa.
I really do not like to make things easy for myself do I?
Guess what though? I love it! this bit, the challenge! Yeah you knew that already.
So, how does one of these necklaces begin?
as you might expect, it starts with a bead, the feature bead.
I’ve chosen a Goddess.
She’s been photographed in the same light as I’ll be working in, rather than the usual daylight I photograph my beads in, this is so the colours look the same throughout.
I’ve been meaning to make a goddess into a necklace for a while, such a complex bead I feel must be designed around in one of two ways,
1) keep it simple, perhaps as a pendant on a nice silver chain. nothing too fancy, shes fancy already.
or 2) this is a really fancy bead, lets go to town on this and give it loads of lovely quality ingredients and shiny things, like she deserves!
so, into the stash I go…
this is so not the easiest of colours to work with! red…are you kidding me? and with pink? and gold? and deep amber?
the wrong red will clash, the right red risks blending in, the pink is kind of there in flashes, not a flat pink, so I can’t use too much, the gold is both peachy and yellowy, tricky!
first, I’ll pull out anything I think might go. some of these things once offered up, will go straight back, and some of them did, when I forgot I was meant to be photographing as I went along!
you can probably see some things glaringly wrong already, I can!
so next I do some thinning out, and we get down to something a bit more managable
some things still might, go, and others might get added, but I think this is looking good.
next, some planning where some of the key ingredients might go, I’m going for a multi strand necklace here, to keep some visual and physical bulk at the centre front to counter all that weight (shh! shes sensitive!) on the right hand side.
so heres the 2nd row being roughed in. you’ll notice that for this, I’m not working with paper, I sketch in beads, I often keep my phone handy to snap pictures of different layouts as I go along, in case I want to go back, or compare.
Next I need to start threading some things up, seeing how they actually sit when strung together, some things don’t behave, and may need spacers or something to keep them where I want, and some just don’t look right. At the back there, I’ve threaded up sections of the smaller glass beads, as quite often they’ll look very different strung than in a heap!
I tend to work at little sections at a time, and move around the whole necklace trying out and refining here and there, getting closer and closer to a point where I can hold it up and see how it hangs.
See how this flower on top of the goddess starts looking like a head? but somehow that’s just…wrong! so that will have to go.
This little combination I feel is working nicely
This one is not, the carnelian is too dark either side of the bigger bead, and I’m not entirley convinced about the gold altogether, it does overall lighten the piece, but I’m not sure thats neccessary. also the drape of my temporary thread there is poor, so I’ll switch to something more like what I’ll use for the final threading. I’m sure you’re starting to see that theres a lot of threading and rethreading that goes into one of these!
so either the gold or the carnelian has to go, lets try these…
Though the sterling silver beads are way too bright, they do sit nicely into the lampwork beads, so those will be getting oxidised.
Next I need to thread up a little more, so I can start to see how it hangs, and I’ve added in that little pink combo
still not quite sure about that carnelian, or is it the little gold bead? I think the gold needs to go.
moving on, to the part above the clasp, I decided on the larger one.
I’ll leave it there for now, so as not to make this post even longer!
More coming up soon in Part two
A little while ago, I went to London, to visit my Best Friend in the world, we had ourselves a deliciously art filled feast for the eyes.
Destinations included the Tate Modern and the V&A, we also had a look at the Southbank Gallery and Skylark 1 & 2 at Gabriel’s Wharf, and the OXO tower, had a lovely talk with an artist at skylark, the piece ‘balance’ I liked, and not just because that is one of my favourite words.
This piece includes silver leaf, which as she expained to us, will tarnish over time, giving the piece an evolving feel, it changes with you, and grows, becomes something more than it started.
I’d like to Thank Gill, for being both interesting, and interested! We were made to feel very welcome in this small artfilled space, something which not all gallery owners and shop keepers are good at. It seems all to easy for some to assume that people are ‘just browsing’ and not buying, and lose interest in you, as if all they care about is your money (or lack thereof). (It probably doesn’t help if you go around looking like an art student, but what do they say about judging a book by its cover?)
The featured artist was Colin Ruffell, The style and the colours in this print spoke to me, those exciting bursts of orangey red against the turquoise shades…yum!
Mainly London landscapes, many featuring the cranes that seem to be a constant feature of London’s ever changing skyline. I feel I need some sort of time lapse video here…oh Thanks Youtube, don’t mind if I do!
This brings me to my own photos, our walk along the Southbank to the Tate modern, complete with a fair few cranes!
This is what I was actually photographing (well trying to!) the outer edges of this cloud looked like it had been drawn on.
These silver birches were just saplings the first time I visited the Tate modern, many years ago, when my memories of it included the large eye spinning op-art paintings of Bridget Riley.
This was the first time I’ve visited the Tate modern since being an art student, where you were expected to look, read, and worst of all document your experiences…
You HAD to see this or that exhibit, and you had to do it all in very little time too. You spend so much time wrapped up in this bit, its easy to not actually look properly, and experience fully, rather like watching something happen through the lens (or indeed digital display screen) of a camera.
Visiting by choice was a different experience, without the pressure to fill a notebook up with pointless comments, rubbish sketches and writing down all the titles and dates and things. (these days no doubt you’d also be filling up your smart phone with rubbish blurry pictures inside galleries too…smart phones weren’t really a thing when I went as a student, we had pretty rubbish digital cameras instead)
and yet here I am, documenting, by choice, my experiences and thoughts on some of the pieces! (though I think if I had been able to use the medium of a blog, I might have done better!)
Unfortunately, since I was busy enjoying it all in this no pressure way, the piece I liked most (from the monochrome exhibit) I completely failed to get the artists name, date or anything about it! Though with a little googling later I found this sentence, which some other art student had faithfully copied down from the plaque on the wall. (or more likely, snapped with their smartphone and typed up later!)
“this work was constructed by a carpenter and a gold leaf artisan who were given instructions by the artist on the telephone”
and a search for gold leaf on the Tate website brings me to this: Mathias Goeritz 1915–1990 Title ‘Message’ Date: c.1959 Medium:Gold leaf on plywood panel Dimensions Support: 1219 x 1393 mm
Interestingly enough, the picture is not displayed on the Tate’s website ‘due to copyright restrictions’, however, I’m pleased about that, as I don’t think any photo could do this piece justice, you just have to go and be there.
The piece was very simple in contruction, a large board, covered with gold leaf.
The gold leaf itself was not 100% even, showing through in patches to a brick red, like a gilt frame sometimes does, giving a sort of rustic, antiqued effect.
Once again this piece was so much more than that, its size and placement on the wall meant that your reflection (and that of others in this fairly small, almost corridor of a gallery room) took up about a third of the canvas, the reflections themselves were not true mirror reflections, but softened, almost more like moving shadows, like a window into another, quieter, more muted world. In this respect you felt like you were being made a part of the ever changing work, you were included, involved.
Picasso’s three dancers will always stick in my memory, as we did a whole project on it, with a tutor who absolutely raved about it.
To see it from afar (its rather big!), and then up close, with its different paint textures and erm, ‘interesting’ colours was fascinating, however…I still don’t like it!
Something else I found intriguing was watching people looking at the works, you could only get near to Salvador Dali’s ‘Metamorphosis of Narcissus’ by waiting and then taking your space, viewing from further away was out of the question. And I’m sure, had someone been watching me looking up at Alexander Calder’s ‘Mobile’ they must have wondered what was going through my head.
Balance, is the answer to that. The effects of gravity on shapes, counterweights, the gentle movement with air currents, and how I can use some of these effects in my jewellery pieces, where gravity is the constant enemy to the heavily assymmetric designs in my head, and glass which, try as I might, weighs what it weighs, and will literally try to take centre stage.
By the time we got to the Rothko room, the atmosphere and heat had given us both a headache, so I have yet to experience whatever it is you are meant to experience when you sit in a slightly darkened room surrounded by giant canvases of burgundy.
Some fresh air outside, and the weather was changing fast. It brought the kind of rain I could just stand in, and get soaked, the rain that falls from heavy humid skies onto dry ground. Probably best not to though, sitting on the tube in somewhat damp clothes isn’t likely to be a wonderful experience!
I think I’ll leave it there, perhaps I’ll tell you about the V&A in another post sometime.
My dearest Friend incidentally, is an artist herself (you may have guessed by our art filled activities!)
And you should most definitely, check out her work! The best place for this in my opinion is her facebook page or SoulbirdArt on instagram, where she often posts work in progress shots which I find wonderful, like an insight into her studio, her workspace, her mind…Enjoy!
I will be returning to the fantastic MangoBeads Studio in June to teach a new class! (well its half new…)
In addition to day one from my first class held at MangoBeads, I will be teaching the 3D flower technique as featured in my tutorial, my cherry blossom bead, and also encased silver glass hearts among other things!
I seem to be a lampworker of extremes.
It’s either huge big focal beads…or teeny tiny frogs and bunnies
and now, these
They measure a total of 11.5mm across and the front section is only 4.5mm thick, so they are not heavy like some glass earrings. in fact, they weigh just 1.3 grams! The metal is all sterling silver.
I also made some as dangly earrings
For those of you interested in jewellery, they are available to buy on my website, and on Etsy.
If you can’t see the colour you want, the listing on my website is for made to order in any colour, so just drop me a message with which colour you’d like!
If you’ve never bought anything on Etsy, and you’re in the UK, you can get £5 off your first purchase, click here to claim your offer!
For those of you interested in making your own tiny lampworked cabochons…read on!
These are made on the newest size of cab mandrel from MangoBeads.
You can buy them on their website, or Etsy shop and while you’re there, they have some other great tools and tutorials too, not to mention beads…such lovely beads!
These are so small, they don’t have the usual central peg which helps keep your cab in place whilst making it.
The trick is to keep the back of the cabochon warm. This means you need to heat the mandrel. thats it. it really is that simple. keep it warm throughout making, and it shouldn’t fall off…unless you’re really rough with it!
and before you ask, I’m using fusion bead release, air dried.
Speaking of which…I think its time for me to go and dip some more! I love using these teeny tiny cab mandrels!