Whenever I sit down to work with polymer clay, I have a craving to make handmade pasta or bread. It’s one of the reasons I took up this chameleon-like medium a little over a year ago. I knew its malleability would be a satisfying change from metal, which I still love, but being a tactile person, I need that experience of exploring different mediums.
In July, I’ll be teaching a 2-day, 2-hour/day workshop called Polymer Clay & Surface Play through Pocosin Arts School of Fine Craft. The main focus will be black and white image transfer, which can add an exciting dimension to your clay work, especially for those of you who love drawing, black and white line art, photography, vintage graphics and more.
I’ll also offer up a variety of surface treatments, which will barely scratch the surface (no pun intended) of what you can do with polymer clay. But this will get you off to a good start.
I’ll also sprinkle a lot of tips and best practices throughout the workshop, such as mixing colors, proper curing (baking), finishing your work, adding findings, and a review of tools.
You can also wait till after the first class before buying any materials so you can see what you really need. I’ll probably set up a private Facebook group for to share your work, questions and more. Join me! Register here ››
Seattle’s Danaca Design Studio is at it again with their second Battle of the Rings. This is an elimination-style competition pitting 64 juried rings against one another in a public voting extravaganza via Instagram.
As luck would have it, my Presto Change-O Gemmy Ring made it into the competition. I can’t decide if it’s more like a children’s toy block ring or a sideways double layer cake. Either way, the faceted “gemstone” shapes connect via magnets. You can wear just the gray central piece, add a little green or go for the gusto and wear them all. The perfect cocktail ring conversation piece. Read more
Meet and shop from artists in Baltimore and across the country, and celebrate its regional craft scene
Normally I travel back east for this 600+-artist show. Though I’ll miss seeing my Maryland friends and all the artists I’ve come to know, I’m quite happy to be an armchair traveler…and seller this year.
One of today’s highlights (okay, it was a slow day) was this Twitter post image with the caption, “This note that arrived with an Etsy order is… the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. WTF Peggy.”
A few astute readers wanted to know how the note ended up in the package if Peggy’s daughter-in-law did the packaging. One person theorized, but it’s anyone’s guess. Inquiring minds (this one) want to know just what the purchaser ordered. If I’d scrolled any further down in the Twitter comments, I would probably have landed on the answer, but I didn’t want to ruin the fun.
I can’t quite picture an exquisite handmade item accompanying such a delightfully crass note as this. Hidden away in Peggy’s seemingly rude note is someone who really gives a damn about quality packaging. You gotta love her for it.
And much as I’d like to write notes that, you can count on pretty pleasant packaging from me. But Peggy, you do you.
Did time seem to expand and contract in 2020? It did to me. Some days I had surges of positivity and energy, emboldened by a studio full of art supplies, the promise of a new creation, only to settle in and binge watch a Neflix series.
When the pandemic started, I subscribed to MasterClass.com, a website where you can take courses from famous chefs, writers and directors. I was determined to become a genius in something by the end of the year. I made it part way through a writing course with David Sedaris, sort of learned to make a few cocktails, and I now know how to make an Italian-inspired hamburger so long as I can find wild boar somewhere. Read more
I’ve been trying to cull stories of what I call Creative Coping—businesses or people using creative solutions or workarounds during the pandemic. Sometimes they’re business strategies, often they’re just ways of adding delight in a dark time. In my pandemic fog, I often forget to write them down when one crosses my path.
Curators of color. Designers of delight. Purveyors of play.
Join 3 colorful makers for an evening of show and tell, a peek in the studio, Q&A the artists, and toast a new, and hopefully, better year. We make modern, playful, smart, handmade objects to brighten your life and make you think.
GAIL HEYMANN / Modern ceramics that are functional, sculptural, political Visit Gail’s Etsy shop Follow Gail on Instagram
KAORU SANZEZ / Modern, colorful, fun everyday items with original textile designs. Visit Kaoru Sanchez website Follow Kaoru Sanchez on Instagram
JANE PELLICCIOTTO / Contemporary jewelry for design lovers Follow me on Instagram
The pop-up will run approximately 30-40 minutes. Registration is via Zoom. Click on “register” below.
Want to join in with a colorful cocktail/mocktail? Here are some recipe inspirations for red, blue and green drinks.
Have your drink ready and we’ll do a jewel-toned toast at the end with all participants.
Plan to shop after? All the artists offer free shipping.
I wrote this a few days before the election, then headed off to a fellow jeweler friend’s for a little distraction. My intention was to post this before the election but realized soon enough that the delivery date didn’t matter. It didn’t matter who won the election. It just matters that you follow where the path leads and make lemonade from lemons.
Four years ago, a few days after the election, I got shingles. I won’t say where.
I also started a monotype printing class the day after election day. I recall walking through the parking lot, my brain in a fog, and, admittedly, hungover. I felt a lot of things, but creative was not one of them. Read more
A good diversion to the regular studio practice is entering a unique piece into an exhibition. It stretches you, and might even inspire new work. The brooch above, Come Here, Go Away, is my response to Danaca Design Studio’s exhibition and fundraiser “STATE | Meant 2020: significant and powerful jewelry.” This virtual exhibition called on artists to create a piece of jewelry that makes a statement and to designate a non-profit/charity. If a piece sells, 50% will go to that artist’s chosen non-profit. Read more
“While we are all watching caregivers, nurses, and doctors giving all they can to our communities, risking their lives for us, we want to find a way to honor them. They should all get a medal, a votive offering given in gratitude or devotion. At some point this crisis will end and there will be a moment when we can thank them for all they do. We propose to present as many health workers as we can with a medal based on a traditional ex-voto, also to mark the moment when we can see a future.”
The Hand Medal Project, conceived of by artists Iris Eichenberg and Jimena Rios, honors healthcare workers around the world for their service and sacrifice during the pandemic. The project’s idea was inspired by ex-votos—a small devotional object given in fulfillment of a vow or in gratitude or devotion. Read more
Join me once again for my Annual Holiday Pop-Up & Open House. I usually include an artist or two but this year I’m flying solo. I hope you’ll stop by even if you’re not in the market for jewelry. I’ll have some yummy treats and libations to enjoy. Come say hello!
This August I was fortunate enough to be one of 38 artists participating in the 11th Annual Frogwood Collaborative. Frogwood started in 2007 as a small gathering of woodworkers wanting to get out of creative ruts and stretch the artistic possibilities of their work. It has morphed into a community of artists working in a variety of mediums—paint, fiber, wood, metal. And within those mediums there are coppersmiths, blacksmiths, jewelers, weavers, printmakers and painters. The idea is to spend a week collaborating on projects.
Given that most of us work alone, the idea of collaborating can be a challenge. Even if you crave an exchange of ideas and diving into a new medium, knowing how to start a project with someone you don’t know isn’t easy. One place most of us started was a huge table piled with donated items from participants. Fine wood scraps, project boo-boos, plastic, animal bones, glass, you name it. It was all there for the taking.
Veterans came with ideas. Newbies like myself wondered how to start a project. Not to mention the pressure (self-imposed) of creating a piece worthy of sale at a silent auction that took place at the end of the week in Portland. On this Frogwood auction information page, you’ll find photos of all the completed projects at the bottom.
Like most experiences that involve people, it’s the people that make it memorable. I don’t know if every gathering of a few dozen artists and craftsmen always yields good results. But I have a pretty good idea that it does. One thing that kept coming back to me during the week was this feeling of relief, of being understood. While there was little time for much in-depth conversation, I took comfort knowing I was surrounded by people who obsessively absorb their surroundings, wondering “what if,” dreaming up that next creation. Check out the 2018 participants.
We were in the beautiful wooded setting of Camp Colton in Oregon. Even being in cell phone range, it felt like the middle of nowhere. Time was divided into clear chunks—breakfast, work, lunch, work, dinner, work, sleep. I never slept so well in a tent as I did at Frogwood. Working 12-hour days helped. I kept thinking I’d want to wander the woods, sit and read a book or sketch. But all I wanted was to return to my bench and keep working every day.
I didn’t expect such a professional set up. The big modern barn, with concrete floor surrounded by enormous patio space, was filled with every tool imaginable. Nothing like this comes together with ease. Thanks to woodworker Tom Willing at the helm and his trusty board, there wasn’t a single thing lacking in this space. Well, except for nails when it came to securing hanging devices on the backs of finished pieces. All those tools and not a single nail!
I went with a goal, despite not knowing how the collaborations would work, that I wanted to work with wood. I’d been craving working with a more gentle material than metal. Most of my collaborations involved self-generated projects, getting inspiration from materials I found on the table and getting invaluable help from others. Without exception, someone would drop what they were doing to show you how to use a tool, hammer a copper head for a spoon or help figure out how to connect materials. My go-to wood guy was instrument maker Adam Mendel of Joyner Instruments. Having been a teacher, he would sprinkle each interaction with invaluable tips that I know I’l tap into if I get more serious about wood. Below are a few projects I worked on with his help on the wood parts.
In all, it was a truly memorable experience that I recommend to any artist if you can find a collaboration near you. Or better yet, start one in your community. The rewards of having three dozen new artists/craftsmen/makers/friends in my circle who I know I can reach out to is invaluable. I’m inspired to keep experimenting and being open to new materials and processes, not to mention collaborations when we’re not at Frogwood. Once a year isn’t nearly enough!