Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mermaids On My Mind...

With our recent Fathom art exhibition at Allegory Gallery, I've had mermaids on my mind.  I wanted to create some components to go along with the show and sculpted this "mermaid stone".

The idea is to cast it in resin and then drill it from side to side.  I could probably also make some cabs by filling the molds halfway.

I've taken a picture of it next to a penny to show the scale.  While I do little things, I don't generally get this small.  I'm pretty happy with it!

I've already made a mold and done a few pourings.  I probably need to let the mold off-gas a little more though.  With such fine detail, I've noticed a lot of air bubbles and one stray air bubble can make the mermaid take on a more zombie-like appearance with half her face missing.  I'll post more pictures once I have a finished sample.

Faux Roman Glass Experiments...

I love ancient Roman glass.  I remember walking down the dimly lit corridors of the Metropolitan Museum, moving from one illuminated case to the next.  Several contained unearthed glass vessels, glowing with a certain timelessness.  There's something magical about the iridescent finish and crusty beauty.

But there's a couple of factors that inhibit me from working with it more.  Firstly, it can get pretty pricey.  Since it has an ancient source, the material is finite.  It is currently excavated in Roman glass bottle dumps in Afghanistan.  Another thing that keeps me from using it more is that it is very fragile.  And while I love the beauty of fragile things, I like things that can take a heavy beating.  Sure, it has survived for thousands of years, but that was under layers of protective earth and not dangling from the human body.  The iridescent finish is also pretty delicate and experiments with clear coating it have been less than awesome.   ("Less than awesome" translates as disasters that ate up all the rainbowy flash in a few sprays.)

So I set out to work on my own experiments to create similar looking pieces in polymer clay!  I'm getting there, little by little.

In my first experiment, I made texture sheets and used those to texturize some nuggets that I made.  I shaped them to look like river stones.  I was happy with the texture and I was happy with the iridescent finish.  I used a variety of opalescent paints with fine interference pigments.  I was also happy with the alternative shape.  Usually it comes in curved elongated ovals.

My problem was opacity.

They didn't look like glass.  They were still very cool looking and I'm sure I'll use them in some project, but they just weren't "right" yet.


I figured that since I wanted more translucency, I should make thinner pieces.  When you get translucent polymer clay too thick, it's a little milky.  I also experimented with tinting the clay with other methods to retain as much clarity as possible.  This round was better!  
One of the other restrictions of using real ancient Roman glass is that there's a limited color palette.  It's a lovely color palette, but if you want to work with something else, you're sort of out of luck.  With this experiment, I played around with a peachy, pink color.  I'm going to hit it with some gold accents and I think it'll really make them luscious.  It's still not as transparent as I would like, but it is getting closer.  I've ordered some other clay and I am excited to try it out.

I'm sure that I could have looked up various recipes online with how to fake Roman glass, but there's something nice about doing it myself.  I like the process of experimenting and figuring it out.  I also like that along the way, I learn more about the materials and processes and can then translate what I've learned into other applications.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Club Reminder...

Tomorrow (Tuesday) evening is the meet-up at Allegory Gallery for the in-person Inspired by Reading Book Club.  We will be discussing our January selection, "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer.  The meeting is from 6PM to 9PM.  (Though you can come earlier if you like.)  We'll be discussing the book for the first hour and sharing our creations.  Then we will be screening the film based on the book!  Come by and join the fun!

Inspired by Reading Book Club 2015/2016 List...

This is the reading list for 2015/2016 for the Inspired by Reading Book Club.  For 2014/2015's list, CLICK HERE.  (For 2013/2014's list, CLICK HERE.)  To participate, all you have to do is read the book selected for that month and create something (artwork, jewelry, components... etc.) inspired by what you've read.  At the end of each month, there will be an opportunity to share your work in the Facebook Group and through a blog hop.  (I'll post the dates of the reveals here and on the Facebook Group.)  CLICK HERE to join the Facebook Group.

July 2015 - "Swamplandia!" by Karen Russell
August 2015 - "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern
September 2015 - "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" by Robin Sloan
October 2015 - "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ranson Riggs
November 2015 - "Serena" by Ron Rash
December 2015 - Happy Holidays!
 January 2016 - "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman
February 2016 - "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle
March 2016 - "The Swan Thieves" by Elizabeth Kostova
April 2016 - "A Girl of the Limberlost" by Gene Stratton Porter
May 2016 - "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" by Aimee Bender
June 2016 - "Drinking the Rain" by Alix Kates Shulman
July 2016 - "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green

I did a check and all of the books are available and still in print.  Most of them are available in paperback and can be picked up fairly inexpensively used.  All of the above links will take you to Amazon and you'll find some great deals!  And don't forget, you can always see if your local library carries these titles or will order them for you.

This is supposed to fun and inspiring and I hope everyone who participates has a good time!  If you have any questions, you can always email me: ardenttie@yahoo.com

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pottery Shard Pendants

A few years ago, I met someone at a trade show who had boxes of broken Native American pottery from the Southwest.  I mentioned that it would be fun to make jewelry out of the pieces and promptly filed it away under "cool conversations from the road that will turn into anything".  A few weeks later, a surprise package arrived filled with pottery shards!  There was a quickly scrawled note on a torn out sheet of spiral notebook paper.  It said, "Have fun!"

Over the years, I thought about the box.  The shards were pretty coarse, so I thought that I might throw them in the tumbler and see what happened.  I did with mixed results.  Some of the pieces had nicely worn down edges.  Others... well... they completely dissolved and created a grainy sludge at the bottom of the barrel.

I decided to do a soldering experiment and used the tumbled pottery shards to create the pendants.  They're not perfect, but I'm glad that I finally got around to working with them.  I still have a box left and plan on revising this idea and expounding upon it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

30 Words Thursday...

I am the water running over cold stones and broken pottery.  I am the tapping drops, drip-dropping from icicle tips.  Flowing and moving, then frozen solid again.  Steady motion stopped.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

30 Words Thursday...

Fragile, fleeting thing, here in this moment.  Never again exactly so.  An outline of a shape, a leaf on the wind, traced out in salty ice crystals, soon to melt.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Wild Borders...

"Wild Borders" by Andrew Thornton
8"X10", Mixed Media and Collage on Masonite 1/12/15

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bead and Craft Bloggers...

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Check out the latest challenge Andrew hosted on his blog, Star Frost, and see all the different pieces the talented participants made!

I'll Live the Life
Cherie gives a step by step in creating a mixed media painting.

Hats Off!
The Crafty Princess reports some more knitting success as she works through a Craftsy.com knit class.

Turn Wine Glasses into Romantic Tea Light Candleholders
Easy-to-make wine glass lampshades make romantic little candle lamps.

Carmi's Art/Life World
My super New Years news is a new blog dedicated to my resin work and all things about this amazing medium!  I Love Resin!

Beading Arts
Are you ready for another year with the Bead Journal Project?  Cyndi shares her plans for this year.  Want to get involved?  She'll be glad to tell you how!

Raised Between...

"Raised Between" by Andrew Thornton
4"X7", Mixed Media and Collage on Paper 1/11/15

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Slight Separation...

"Slight Separation" by Andrew Thornton
4"X7", Mixed Media and Collage on Paper 1/10/15

Friday, January 09, 2015

Across the Aisle...

"Across the Aisle" by Andrew Thornton
4"X7", Mixed Media and Collage on Paper, 1/9/15

Spring Awakening Challenge...

This is the latest Design Kit Challenge!  Let me introduce you to the Spring Awakening Challenge!  If you're not familiar with the challenges, it's a fun and informal way to play, create, and challenge yourself with a pre-selected set of components.  Let's see what you can make!

To participate, you must purchase a Design Kit. This kit features a selection of premium Czech glass (both new and vintage), vintage lucite, African glass, carved jade, magnesite, waxed Irish linen, calsilica, vintage Japanese seed beads, and a Luxury Bead Blend.

The Luxury Bead Blend consists of Japanese Miyuki seed beads, Toho seed beads, freshwater pearls, vintage trade beads, Czech glass (both old and new), African recycled glass, jade, stone, vintage sequins, Germain glass, vintage Japanese glass, and glass pearls.

But wait... there's more!  The pictures show a luscious mix of materials, but what isn't show is the Mystery Component!  Each kit will come with a special, handmade component that will remain a mystery until it arrives at your door!

The Mystery Component will be publicly revealed on Monday, February 16thth, 2015!

I've really been enjoying the Pantone Fashion Color Report for Spring 2015.  In the Spring Awakening kit, I wanted to focus on bright combinations of greens and blues – capturing the freshness of earth and sky after winter.  I blended Aquamarine, Scuba Blue, Lucite Green, Classic Blue, Tree Top, and Woodbine to create this kit.  I wanted to capture the feeling of things bursting into life!

If you've seen the challenges before, then you know that there are lots of different design choices that can create unique pieces, and a single kit can produce several pieces if one desires.

With your kit, using as much or as little of it as you like, create a piece that showcases your creativity, individuality, and artistic expression. Ideally your creation will spotlight the great assortment of beads included, but the sky's the limit with what you can make! Keep your project secret until the reveal date!

The reveal date is set for Thursday, March 19th, 2015!

Post a picture on your blog or send one to me to post on your behalf (if you don't have a blog of your own). The Spring Awakening Challenge will end in a blog hop, sharing all the lovely creations with your fellow participants!

There are only 20 Design Kits available (with one set aside for myself)! Once we receive your order, we will process your kit and send it out within five business days. Hurry! Supplies are limited and are on a FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE basis! (Sorry, no exceptions!)

I also wanted to mention that all the Design Kits will be shipped with Priority mail. This can take anywhere from one business day to fourteen. For international participants, it may take longer! If you know that it takes a long time to reach your destination (from Southwestern Pennsylvania) please place your orders early! I will do my best to get your kits out as early as possible, but unfortunately can't be held responsible if it arrives late due to the postal service. All sales of the Design Kits are final and there are no returns or exchanges. With that being said... I hope you have lots of fun and I can't wait to see what you make!

CLICK HERE to get your Design Kit!

Disclaimer: This challenge is not associated, affiliated, and/or sponsored by Pantone.

Premium Gemstones Launch...

Over the past year, we have been gathering some really lovely gemstone strands and I have just gotten around to photographing everything, writing descriptions and posting them to the Allegory Gallery online store.  These are some of my favorite stones and cuts.  I've tried to add really unique things that you don't see everyday and I hope people will be as delighted as I am with the selection.  (It was hard for me to let these beauties go, because I wanted to hoard them all!)

CLICK HERE to take a look at the new Premium Gemstones section on the Allegory Gallery online store.  I'll be adding more as time goes on, but this is a good start!

To celebrate the launch of the new section, use coupon code "GEMLOVER10" to save 10% off the new gemstones.  Don't delay though!  This coupon code will only be available for a limited time.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

30 Words Thursday...

Slow shuffling steps in the dark, making my way in the shadows.  Tentatively finding purchase on wet earth.  Above, a singular candle of night burns white, caught in bare branches.

Star Frost Special Challenge Reveal...

Today is the Reveal for the Star Frost Special Challenge!  If you're not familiar with the challenges, I put together a Design Kit and offer them on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Challengers claim their kits and I then send them off around the world!  Each participant has about two months to create a piece and at the end of the challenge, everyone shares what they created!

It's a fun way to challenge your creativity and it's always fascinating to see what each person will make with the nearly identical kits.  Sometimes there are overlaps in the ideas and themes, and other times... things are vastly different from each other.

I wanted to do a special "holiday edition" of the challenge and created a wintry blend of frosty clears, cool blues, chilly grays, and icy whites.  I wanted to put together a kit that celebrated the time of year.

To learn more about what went in the kit, CLICK HERE.

One of the fun elements of the kits is that there's a Mystery Component.  It's usually something handmade by me.  This time it was a polymer clay snowflake pendant.

And without further ado... here's the REVEAL:

I created this bracelet.  I dug through the Luxury Bead Blend and found these clear drops, which I liked very much and wanted to use.  So I located another tube to augment what was in the kit and paired the drops with a silver-lined frosty blue seed bead.  I used Spiral Stitch to create the base of the bracelet.  The drops give it a fun, textural element that reminds me of icicles.  When I finished, I thought it needed to be jazzed up a little, so I sewed on a decorative ring and added some wire-wrapped dangles strung up with opalescent glass from the kit.  It gives the piece a little bit of movement and catches the light nicely.

These pieces were created by Cheryl Tucker.  Here's what she had to say about them:  "I separated the beads into two stringing projects and made matching earrings for each piece.  For the first project, I added blue beads to the necklace with the Mystery Component.  I love that icy blue combination."

"The multi-strand white bracelet should be good now with a sweater but may be better with a tan next summer!"

Mia Nutick made these pieces.  Here's what she had to say about them:  "I have a few things but I am going to have to do some for the Catch Up Reveal.  I'm moving, so things are in a massive disarray!  I got SO many more piece out of the Star Frost beads than this!  It was GORGEOUS!  The choker is on memory wire with an added snowflake charm."

"In this necklace, I used elements from the kit, but I also added Japanese cultured pearls."

"For this necklace, I made matching earrings and a bracelet.  I added Swarovski crystals from my stash to elements from the kit."

"I'm glad I started doing these challenges!  I am going to go back to selling jewelry on Etsy under the name Bauble Yaga... that is... AFTER we move and get everything set up and I sell my back inventory from Chimera Fancies."
This necklace was made by Joanne Goldberg.  Here's what she had to say about it:  "I'm traveling and I knew I wouldn't be here for the reveal, so I sent my piece in early.  I strung the necklace and added a cluster of vintage Japanese glass."

These pieces were made by Lisa Mendum.  Here's what she had to say about them:  "Thanks again for a wonderful kit!  You always put together such wonderful textures and colors.  I love layered jewelry and decided to make a set I could wear together or separate.  I made a short wired beaded section that I could wrap around the multi-strand necklace and a pair of beaded hoop earrings."

But wait... that's not all!  Please swing by the blogs of the other participants from around the world!  Check out what they made for the Star Frost Challenge!

Carolyn Lawson 
Carole Carlson of Beadsophisticate 
Shai Williams 
Karin Grosset Grange of Ginkgo et Coquelicot
Ann Schroeder 
Tammy Bowman of Inner Muse Jewelry 
Alison Herrington
Kari Asbury of Hippie Chick Jewelry Design 
Alice Peterson
On Andrew Thornton's blog:
Andrew Thornton, Cheryl Tucker, Mia Nutick, Joanne Goldberg, Lisa Mendum

The Desert Sands Challenge is up next!  The reveal is scheduled for Thursday, January 29th.  Check back here to see all the lovely creations!

ALSO, tomorrow (Friday, January 9th at 7PM EST) the next Design Kit will be revealed and go on sale!  Swing by tomorrow and get ahold of your kit!  If you're interested in participating, the kits sell out super fast, so make sure to grab one while you still can!

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The Last Gate...

"The Last Gate" by Andrew Thornton
4"X7", Mixed Media and Collage on Paper 1/7/15

Start and Finish...

I started this scarf last year.  Life got hectic and I laid it down.  It rested in a plastic bag, waiting for me to finally pick it up again.  The cold temperatures prompted me to pick it back up and finish it.

Getting back into the rhythm of knitting was a little tricky and I had to look up how to perl again.  The finished piece is far from perfect!  I dropped a stitch, the tension varies from tight to very tight, and the scarf wants to roll up into a tube... but I still like it.  Even though it isn't perfect, I'm proud of it.  It's my first "real" wearable knitting project that I finished.

I have a feeling that it'll get a lot of wear this season.  The truly cold weather has just begun.  Plus, it's the Pantone Color of the Year and pretty much goes with everything that I own.  So, I'll wear it with pride, – a memento of learning something new.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Desert Sands Mystery Component Reveal...

I've been meaning to post a picture of the Mystery Component for the Desert Sands Challenge for awhile now.  Today is the day!  I included in each kit a polymer clay pendant made by me.  When I sat down to make the pendants, I thought back to an image of a decorative Moroccan stained glass window.  Some of the panes were busted out and through the broken pieces and colorful shards, you could see slivers of desert.  I wanted to translate some of those forms into the Mystery Component.  I also wanted to capture the colors of the kit and used earthy tans and beiges, highlighted with antique gold.

Don't forget!  The reveal for the Star Frost Challenge is on Thursday!  I'm super excited to see what everyone makes!  Also, on Friday, the new kit will debut.  I think it's really cool and hope people will enjoy it!   The kits will go live at 7PM EST.  Keep your eyes posted here and on Facebook for the live links.

Still Bright...

"Still Bright" by Andrew Thornton
4"X7", Mixed Media and Collage on Paper 1/6/15

Monday, January 05, 2015

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Drifting Contents...

"Drifting Contents" by Andrew Thornton
4"X7", Mixed Media and Collage on Paper 1/4/15

Saturday, January 03, 2015

A Deepened Understanding...

"A Deepened Understanding" by Andrew Thornton
4"X7", Mixed Media and Collage on Paper 1/3/15

Friday, January 02, 2015

Loose Associations...

"Loose Associations" by Andrew Thornton
4"X7", Mixed Media and Collage on Paper 1/2/15

Thursday, January 01, 2015

A Slippery Hold...

"A Slippery Hold" by Andrew Thornton
4"X7", Mixed Media and Collage on Paper 1/1/15

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Desert Sands Challenge...

When we originally debuted the Desert Sands Challenge, it was a complete mystery... except for the challenge image and a snapshot of the Luxury Bead Blend.  The rest of it was a surprise and up until now, only the participants of the challenges have been privy to the contents of the kit.

Here's a picture of what the kit included.  It's a mix of vintage and new Czech glass, brass chain, antique seed beads, pineapple quartz, and vintage Hamilton Gold.  The kit also included a Luxury Bead Blend and a Mystery Component made by me. I'll reveal the Mystery Component in a few days.

The reveal date for this challenge is set for January 29th!  I can't wait to see what everyone makes!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Fathom Art Exhibition...

Our next show on the Project Wall at Allegory Gallery is a group show!  I'm really excited. We have an excellent line-up of artists from across the country.  We will be featuring returning artists that we have shown before, like Todd Beisel, Diane Hawkey, Junker Jane, Shirleah Kelly, Cynthia Thornton, and Elise Wells.  We will also be welcoming new-to-the-gallery artists, Wendy Wallin Malinow, LaLa Ortiz, Deborah Petronio, and Les Plinko.

The upcoming show is titled, "Fathom" and will be made up of mermaid-themed artwork!  We picked the name "Fathom" because it plays double duty.  On one hand, the word means an underwater measurement.  On the other, it also means an understanding or an imagining.  I think it's apt when talking about mermaids.

Not only will we have the Project Wall loaded down with mermaid artwork, but we'll also have several different bead artists represented who work with the fantastical motif.  We'll be revealing who is participating as time goes on!

The show opens Saturday, January 24th!  So mark your calendars and if you're in the area, stop by!  If you can't make it, you can always see the works online!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Feathered Wishes...

The days are full.  They are filled with a wash of activity.  It's hard to keep track of time.  I feel like a bauble, bouncing on the waves, drifting with the fast-moving current.

I can't complain.  Most days are filled with moments that are little gems that gleam and sparkle.  I'm a hoarder of these gems.  I'm a hoarder of these moments.  I think of myself as being fortunate.  I gather the little things – the smiles, the laughter, the kitten purrs, the shiny things, the sweet exhaustion, the happy satisfactions of honoring one's purpose and calling.

I wanted to take a moment out this whirlwind of moments, to say... THANK YOU.  Thank you for being a part of my journey.  Thank you for understanding.  Thank you for believing in me and my dreams.  Thank you for the little things.  Thank you for the big things.  Thank you for the ups.... and the downs.  Thank you for everything.  Thank you for sharing this world with me.  THANK YOU.

With deep gratitude, I wish you all a very happy holiday season.  If you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.  If you celebrate something else, I wish you good tidings and much joy. I hope your days are as full of good things as mine.  I hope all the best for you and your's.

While the bloom may fade and fall and turn to dust, it'll return a resplendent thing.  This is the time of filling our hearts with hopeful thoughts, feathered wishes, taking flight and carrying our dreams to the starry skies... and far beyond.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Day Trip to Ohio...

With the store and our somewhat hectic (and often times overlapping schedules), William and I don't get to take much time for ourselves.  It's unfortunate, but a reality that most small business owners face in the first few years of business.  But my sister, Sheila, and her husband were visiting from China... so we made a point to take a day off.

We couldn't go down to Florida for Christmas this year, but luckily Sheila and Steve were in Ohio for a few days before they traveled South.  We met up in Youngstown, Ohio and visited the Butler Art Institute of American Art.

I was really impressed with the collection.  I wasn't super familiar with the museum, so I didn't know what to expect.  I think everyone was pleasantly surprised by the rather extensive collection of artwork by well-known artists from a vast array of time periods and styles of art.  They had everything from early folk art to contemporary masters.  One of my favorites was the painting, "Seer" by Adolph Gottlieb.  While it's clearly Modern, there's something ancient and primal with the symbolic iconography.

After the art museum, we headed over to Kravitz Delicatessen for lunch.  Everyone agreed that the reuben sandwiches were most excellent!  I had the Reuben McMillan with a side of potato salad and a pickle!  Yum!

It was really nice to catch up with Sheila and Steve.  We shared stories and laughed.  It was interesting to hear about their adventures and the cultural differences.  I'm really glad that William and I could take a day off and that we all found a way to see each other!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Busy, Busy...

My work bench has been a busy place lately!  I've been coming up with a lot of new ideas.  I can't share all of them, but I can share some of the things that I have been working on recently.

I knew it was a tad late to sculpt for this year's holiday season, but I made them anyway.  When we were kids, we'd put pillowcases on our heads and chase each other around pretending that we were Abominable Snowmen.  I decided to make a limited edition yeti ornament!

I only made one of these, but I created a Medusa ornament.  We grew up reading the Greek myths and loved (the original) Clash of the Titans movie.  I might make more around Halloween, but will probably re-sculpt it and add more snakes to the hair.

I wanted to make something special for the participants of the holiday destash event.  I asked them to pick, "Bird, bug, or beastie".  They chose, "bird".  So I made these cardinal ornaments.  I wish I could have made one for everyone in the group, but only made enough to slip into their packages.  I thought fondly of each of them while I mixed the resin, poured each one, and then painted them.