Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Eight Counties" Exhibit

I am honored to have one of my neckpieces selected to be in the upcoming exhibit, "Eight Counties," at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. 520 artists submitted 1,550 pieces of artwork for consideration, so I am thrilled that my neckpiece made the cut. Held in the Art Center's Collections & Community Galleries, the juried exhibition will present the final selection of nearly 150 works by over 100 artists. The exhibit opens on January 24, 2010.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Registration For Classes At Valley Ridge Art Studio Opens Today!!!

"Art is the result
of a creative impulse
derived out of a
consciousness of life."
- John Sloan
Registration for classes for the 2010 season opens today at Valley Ridge Art Studio in Muscoda, Wisconsin, and I am privileged to be one of the instructors they invited to teach there. I will be there May 1 and 2, 2010 teaching the workshop, "Re-sin-blage: a charming exercise in jewelry adornments."

(Re-sin-blage Workshop Examples)

Come and experience the magic of creating resin objects. We'll make molds, fill bezel cups, and will explore the myriad of ways in which resin can be used. We will transform objects into elements which can be incorporated into unique jewelry pieces and embellishments to enhance your assemblage and journaling work. We will then take these elements to the next level, to assemble your own signature, one-of-a-kind, "charming" bracelet or neckpiece.

Valley Ridge is known for its beautiful surroundings, fabulous studio, yummy food, and top-notch known and published art instructors from throughout the United States and Australia. I've been taking workshops there for the past 5 years, and highly recommend going there. You'll be hooked, just like me!

If you are interested in registering for my workshop, or any of the other workshops at Valley Ridge, click here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Girls Day Out

"There is no wilderness like a life
without friends.
Friendship multiplies blessings
and minimizes misfortunes.
It is a unique remedy against adversity,
and it soothes the soul."
- Beltasar Gracian

My friend and fellow artist, Bernie Berlin, rolled in from Tennessee yesterday after delivering a precious cargo of dogs to Chicago. I hadn't seen Bernie in ages, so I was excited to get together with her, Kim, and Debbie for the afternoon. We planned to meet at a Cafe in Mequon at 12:30 p.m. Kim, Debbie, and I arrived there a little early. Bernie, on the other hand, got there a little late. But anyone who knows Bernie, knows that she has the best intentions of getting there on time... she just gets a little sidetracked!

(Kim, Deb, Bernie, and Myself)

But we didn't have to wait too long before she showed up. It was sooo much fun catching up with her! That girl always has a million different things going on in her life - I don't know how she does it! We did a lot of laughing, and never ran out of things to talk about.

When we left the cafe, we went to some nice shoppes and looked around. - And I thought I used to be a shopaholic... Geez, Bernie's got me beat! She did some real power-shopping and got a lot her Christmas gifts bought. And I'm proud to say I got a little Christmas shopping out of the way, myself.

But finally, it was time to say our goodbyes and head for home. I love getting together with the girls, and look forward to the next time Bernie comes to town.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I Can't Believe It...

My husband just got fired from his job, and for no reason! The boss didn't even do it himself...he had another employee over Mike do his dirty work for him.

Yeah...Merry Christmas...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Gift From My Friend

"A true friend is the best possession."

Today, my friend Kim came over for one of our usual 'playdates' in my studio. We spent the entire afternoon working on projects and catching up with each other. Because my birthday was last week, she came over bearing gifts. Here is what she brought for me:

It was all tucked inside this wooden cigar box, topped with a bow (recycled from a gift I gave to her for her birthday).

When I opened the box up, I found a collection of found objects to add to my stash! Here are some close-ups of the gifts that were inside...

The first thing I saw were some old window markers. Kim made sure I knew these babies were hard for her to part with!...

She knows how much I love old religious items. There were two wonderful rosary boxes, and inside each one she tucked in some vintage medals...

This is a medal from the other rosary box...

And this is a tattered piece of old leather. You never know when you'll need that little added touch on an assemblage piece...

She even packed some 8mm film. Too bad we couldn't figure out what was the subject matter was...

And here is a strand of the cutest little pearls!!...

She even dismantled her husband's old binoculars, piece by piece...

And here's a tiny little bottle...

...And an old tintype....

And some brass doo-dads...

...And a box of cool little screws with numbers on them...

And last, but not least, some small stencils. What a fun gift!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Last Workshop For The Season

Last night, I returned home from Valley Ridge Art Studio in Muscoda, Wisconsin, where I took my last workshop of the year. I usually only take metalsmithing/jewelry workshops, but this time I went 'out of the norm' and chose to take a bookmaking class by Shanna Leino. We each assembled a book, but the focus of the class was really on making different types of clasps, hinges, and other decorative metal embellishments to add to the outer covers. The books that Shanna makes are absolutely beautiful, and that is what prompted me to sign up for her class. I saw some examples of the books which were made in a workshop that she taught last year, and I couldn't believe they were completed in only 2 days! They were outstanding! Many of the people in the class had experience in bookmaking, but for me, this was a whole new world...and I really loved it.
So here are some pictures of my book, in various stages of completion...

Here is its humble beginning...the pages are in little bundles between two wooden covers, waiting to be sewn together...

I sewed the pages together, adding the heavy cord to the spine. The cord will add a wonderful look to the book when the leather is adhered over it...

The cording is in place, and the book is now ready for the leather...

This is just another view...that's the leather that's going to cover the spine....

The leather is now on, and the wood still needs to be stained, but now it's time to move onto making the clasp and other decorative touches for it. My jewelry-making experience came in handy for this part, because I cut pieces from brass sheet to embellish my cover...

And here is the finished book. I made my clasp quite small, and was very unhappy with its size, so I designed a plate to go around it. Anyone who knows me, knows that I like big and bold, not small and dainty, so I 'Jill-afied' it.

On Saturday evening. I left the studio earlier than I usually do. I was not happy with my dinky clasp, and I was tired and my shoulder hurt. I went back to the farmhouse and put on my pajamas. I decided I'd deal with book in the morning. My friend Kim Nugent, who I brought along with me for the workshop (she's never been to Valley Ridge before), came in shortly after I did and put her jammies on too. We decided to sit at the kitchen table together and work on our journals that we each brought along.

But an hour and a half later, there was still light on down in the studio, and it was bugging me what the other gals were still doing in there. I thought they were getting farther ahead of me with their books, and I guess 'curiousity killed the cat.' Kim and I headed back down to the studio in our pajamas to see what they were up to. But they were just sitting around talking. So Kim and I wandered back to the house...but not before we each grabbed a cookie to munch on. And no, we didn't plan on coordinating our sleepwear. It just happened that way!~

And finally, here's the group shot which was taken yesterday afternoon, just before we all started packing up our things to make our long drives back home.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Yesterday Was A Busy Day!!!

Yesterday, I had the privilege of assisting Thomas Mann again in teaching his "Found Object Sandwich" workshop. He was the keynote speaker at the National Art Education Association Conference, which was held at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. He held a special workshop on the last day of the conference for 20 art teachers who came from all different areas of the state. It was a busy day. The workshop started at 8:00 a.m., and we worked straight through until 5:00 p.m. Usually this is a 2-day workshop, but everyone really worked hard, and many even completed their projects. Myself, along with Sarah Mann (no relation) were there to answer questions, assist anyone who needed help, and give help with design and layout problems anyone had. I also gave a step-by-step demonstration on how to etch metal. I'm really honored that Tom asks me to assist him whenever he is in the area. He's going to be having a booth at the "Bead and Button Show" in Milwaukee, Wisconsin again next year on June 6-13, 2010, and he is also going to be teaching several workshops there during the event. He has already asked me to assist him with his workshops, so I'm looking forward to going there again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

'Tis The Season For Workshops!!!

"I wish to be of service
to the artists of our own day,
by showing them
how a small beginning
leads to the highest elevation..."
- Giorgio Vasari

I am finally beginning to get back in the groove again with my art. I'm still going to physical therapy several times a week for my shoulder, but I am now beginning to work with wire and sawing metal again - in moderation.

I had registered for quite a few workshops this Fall. These are some that I recently took...

(Myself with Susan...she's a great instructor and a lot of fun to be with!)

I went to Valley Ridge Art Studio in Muscoda, Wisconsin on October 14th for two workshops with Susan Lenart Kasmer. I had never taken any workshops with her before, so it was a real treat to finally get to work with her in person!

The first workshop was all about working with resin, and discovering all the different ways you can use it. I made a lot of resin paper using pages from an antique German Bible, and also filled a lot of bezels for future jewelry projects.

(A bezel I filled using flowers from my father's funeral)

(My workspace - this is a typical sight at workshops)

See what utter chaos my workspace is??? Well...this is how everyone's area looks when you go to art workshops. You pack anything and everything you think you might use for your project. Even if the odds are slim that you'll need it, you pack it anyhow - just in case.

(This is a sampling of some of my stash that I brought along)

The second workshop focused on metalsmithing. Susan showed us a lot of different techniques for making charms, rings, and pendants. She even showed us how to do enameling on copper, using a torch. I really enjoyed that...I've always wanted to try enameling.

(These are some charms I made)

Just a few days later, I attended RaeVn's Nest Art Retreat in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, to take three workshops from Richard Salley. He's another artist that I have never taken any workshops from, and I love his jewelry. I think I'm particularly drawn to his work because he works with iron wire like I do.

(Myself with Richard Salley)

These are the pieces that I made in his workshops. It was so kewl to start working with wire again, but after each workshop, my shoulder was absolutely killing me! I went home each night and put an icepack on it.

(Pendant I made in the Friday Workshop)

(The interior of the pendant - Yep, the roman numerals are upside-down, but that way I can find my way around when I'm wearing it, 'cause there's a compass in the middle!)

(The faux bone bracelet I was working on Friday nite -I still need to finish it.)

(The pendant I made in Saturday's Workshop. I plan on adding some found-
object dangles to the bottom curved wire.)

(The Interior of the Pendant - the round plate began as a large washer, and
I cut the center hole into a heart shape.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Who's Your Dada?" Is Published!!!

"Who's Your Dada? - Redefining the Doll through Mixed Media" by Opie and Linda O'Brien is now available at Amazon.com or at your local Barnes and Noble Bookstore. And I am proud to be one of the guest artists featured in it.

Each artist that they invited to contribute to the book had to make an 'odd doll' - something created with objects that took on the form of a doll. And this is the piece that I made. It is called "Treasure"....

The piece began with a ring I made from precious metal clay, fired in a kiln, and topped with antique Bible text set in the bezel. For the body, I made another bezel from an old brass rosette and sterling silver bezel wire, and placed a photo of my great-grandmother inside, and set an old lens over it. The ring is secured behind that bezel, and is constructed so the ring can be taken off the piece and worn separately, if desired. The body is comprised of an antique victorian wall clip, part of an antique iron thumb latch and an old silver serving fork. I assembled the piece by doing extensive wire-wrapping techniques, using various gauges of iron wire. The chain is also hand-forged from iron wire, using an antique key for the clasp.

And this is how the piece looks without the ring attached.....

I am soooooo honored that Opie and Linda asked me to be a part of this wonderful book. It is jam-packed with techniques and examples, and all of the artwork is truly amazing!

Ebay Auction to Benefit "A Place to Bark" Begins This Week!!!

The auction will go live on eBay at 12:00 am on Oct. 15th, and will end on Oct. 19th. Each piece of artwork is listed as a separate auction. Each piece in the auction has the title "Party Animals Auction" so when you enter that search keyword, everything should come up. Check out my July 28th post for more info!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Long and Slow Recovery

It has been a long and painful recovery since I had my shoulder surgery. And what made matters worse was that I also had another unrelated health problem that cropped up after my surgery which caused me to be bedridden for about a month. So the first four weeks, I was camped out in the bedroom. My two little 'boyz' were always eager to visit me, but when I wasn't up to having them playing on top of the bed, they were resigned to watching me from the doorway, where I had a baby gate placed to keep them out.
Kim Nugent came over to visit me many times during the course of my recovery. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful friend.
She even brought me some cool gifts while I was recuperating. I got a nice assortment of found objects, including odd dental items she scored during one of her rummaging excursions.
Over Labor Day weekend, I felt well enough to go to Valley Ridge Art Studio, where I had signed up for a soldering workshop with Thomas Mann. I knew I was going to be unable to do any sawing or pounding, but I was keeping my fingers crossed that I would at least be able to attempt a little soldering. At that time, I was still wearing that huge sling that I came home from the hospital with, but I took it off when I tried to solder.

Tom was great, and had metal pieces sawed out for me ahead of time, since he was aware that I would be unable to do it myself. I tried very hard to solder the little pieces together like everyone else in the class, but my shoulder just couldn't handle it. So Tom cut out and formed a much simpler "handicapped" version for me to do.

I managed to get half of it soldered, but that was it. My shoulder was too weak and terribly painful, so I reluctantly had to give up. And that was sooo difficult for me, because I wanted so badly to be able to fully participate in the class. The tears were in my eyes many times when I couldn't do what everyone else was doing, and I became quite frustrated at my inability to do something that I was looking forward to for months.

Fortunately, I have signed up for several other workshops in October and November that I am looking forward to. I am still somewhat limited in what I will be able to do, but I am in much better shape than I was a month ago.

A few weeks ago, I stopped at a rummage sale on the way to a doctor's appointment. It was an assemblage artist's dream-come-true! Junk, junk, and more junk!!! Three big hay wagons heaped with knobs, antique tools, old castors, and gadgets galore! Karl, an old antique collector/dealer that I knew from years ago along with a friend of his, had set up this array of goodies behind Karl's barn. I hadn't seen Karl in years, so he was tickled to see me. There was sooo much to see, but I was pressed for time. I quickly scanned over each wagon, and picked out a few things I wanted. Karl told me not to worry, he would set my stuff aside, and I could come back later when I had more time to look.

When I got home from my appointment, I immediately called up Kim, the rummage 'queen,' to see if she wanted to go back to the sale with me. She didn't have to think twice, and before I knew it, she was already at my house, ready to go. We had sooo much fun there. Karl is quite a character!
Kim was thrilled to find a box filled with old castors. She's been using them in some projects recently.

Karl took us on a special tour of his 'war room,' where he has a collection of old memorabilia from world war II and the Korean war.

Finally, it was time to pay for our purchased and say goodbye to Karl. I came home with a bunch of treasures, but Kim found even more stuff than I did! We both almost peed our pants laughing when we realized that we were there for 2 hours!!!