Monday, February 28, 2011

Etsy Adds

So I finally got some new pieces listed in my Etsy shops. Mostly necklaces in the jewelry shop; earrings and rings will come later this week. And new to the paper shop, handmade books! These are small blank books, good for whatever. They come in sets of three at this point and I have a variety of covers to pick from. I have a bunch of single books, and I can't decide if I want to list them separately, or as a group where you can pick the three you want. What do you think?

Happy Monday!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Progress Report

Wow, February is coming to a RAPID close, which give me only about another 6 weeks until D-Day. My thesis paper has to be submitted by April 15th, which is also the same say as the opening for my exhibition. I am running out of time.

I feel like I had a fairly productive week, despite feeling a bit under the weather. But there's always tons more to be done. Here's my "To Do" list for the weekend:

- Finish Flows Like Water
- Finish Save Me from Myself
- Finish first draft of thesis paper
- Empty dishwasher
- Fold Laundry
- Cook an actual meal
- Take some pictures with my new camera
- Update my Etsy Sites
- Spend some time outside
- Get wicked drunk (by "get wicked drunk", I mean have one beer and fall asleep)
- Watch the Oscars

A tall order, but I think it can be done. Happy weekend!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thesis People

I mentioned yesterday that there's 11 MFA's showing in the Gray Gallery this spring. Since we all felt that the show cards the gallery puts out have been kinda lame in the past, we decided to try something a little different. I blame Laura Wood; she's such a mover and a shaker. The first idea was something with our faces, or a group shot like this one. And while I'm very opposed to having my face on anything, it is kind of nice to have a shot of the people I'm graduating with (minus the two who unfortunately couldn't make the meeting).

Our second idea was to have everyone bring a tool, and then take some images of those. I like these much better, and I hope we go with one of those. I'm going to be ordering postcards of my own, and I think I have my image picked out. I plan on ordering them in a couple weeks, so if you'd like one in the mail, let me know your mailing address and I'll be sure to send you one!

Monday, February 21, 2011


There's about 13 MFA's graduating from the ECU School of Art this semester, and 11 of us are showing in the school's main gallery, the Gray Gallery. It's a fairly large gallery, but with eleven people, space is a little tight. Especially with three sculptors, a textile artist, a wood artist, a painter, two ceramists, and three metals grads. Two of us work larger than your typical metalsmith, and the third is displaying her work on vintage furniture.

Well, we had a meeting this morning to divide up the gallery and pick spots. It actually went rather smoothly, and everyone seems pleased with the floor plan we came up with. I'm getting the enclosed space that I want, those who need floor space have it, those who need walls have walls.

So now that I have a better idea of the space I actually have, I can figure out how much work I need to make. I'd still like to have 12 neckpieces (I currently have 7.5) but I wanted to know just exactly how many wall brooches I need to have by April. I did the math and played around with spacing and came up with 190 to fill the one wall that I have. I'm going to round up to 200 because a few always seem to fall apart when I pull them out of the box, and this way I can cull out some of the weaker ones when I go to install.

It feels good to have a more defined goal. Although I am still near panicking about the amount of work left to do. I have started my thesis paper, but it is going s-l-o-w-l-y. I've started putting together neckpiece #7 and I have #8 designed and the parts made, but not finished.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Progress Report

It's Thursday and I'm tired. But, I've accomplished a few things this week, so I'm feeling semi-ok.

I got a new computer last week, and on Monday I got all my backed up files. I also ordered a camera this week, so I'm on my way back to being normal. I finished up two application packets and got them in the mail, and I finished up my printmaking incomplete from last semester. I had a couple great conversations on curating the other day and sat in on the Enameling I crit today. I finished a neckpiece and made about a dozen wall brooches. I got a page of word vomit for my thesis paper. I've gotten nearly enough sleep and eaten some relatively nutritious food.

I also made a bunch of charms just because that's what I felt like doing. I'm not even going to tell you how many, since I'm kind of embarrassed I spent so much time on them when I need to be doing other things. I've also started a sketchbook of collages centered around color schemes for enameling. They look really good, but again, this is not something I need to be spending my time on. I don't know what my problem is.

I've also listened to this song about 50 times.

Happy Weekend.

Day 2: Mineral Pigments with Ken Bova

We're very lucky to have Ken Bova with us this year, since Linda is abroad with a group of students in Italy. And while we miss Linda very much, we're all super happy about working with Ken, so we asked if he would teach a workshop at this year's symposium.

Ken Instructing Us on Color

Ken has recently been working with mineral pigment temperas which he mixes himself. I've heard him talk a little bit about it, so I was very excited to see his demo. He started off with a brief power point on the history of mineral pigments as used in Renaissance manuscript illumination. It was really fascinating, especially since these things are still intact today. Works done uses this technique last for centuries or more.

Demo Table

Ken's work table was AMAZING! Colors, gold leaf, rocks and small vials of mysterious powers, some of my favorite things! His samples were simply stunning. I found myself not really caring what kind of jewelry he's made using this technique; I just wanted his sample sheets to frame and hang on my wall.

Tiny Mineral Pigment Paintings

A painter at an artists residency he was attending told Ken her secret to egg tempera. This egg tempera recipe has been handed down from master to student for centuries, and Ken was nice enough to put in all in a handout for us! He also had a recipe for sizing or mordant, the adhesive used in gold leafing, which he also demonstrated. Ken talked at length about color theory, and the minerals he uses, which provide a very specific color range.

Ken Applying Gold Leaf.

Ken showed us how to make the gold leaf sizing, how to apply the leaf, how to grind minerals and how to make the actual egg tempera. This involved Ken doing the most incredible thing with an egg that I've ever seen, and I can't really describe. All I can say is that it took him three tries and he was somehow left with just the egg yolk, absolutely no white. We were all super impressed. After he mixed him color, Ken showed us how to apply it to the paper in thin, even coats.

Ken Bova, (you can get )From There to Here

Ken's workshop was incredibly comprehensive and I can't believe how much testing and troubleshooting he's done on this really obscure (at least for jewelry) technique. I know some artists (myself included) that can be a bit proprietary with their methods, but I think Ken literally told us everything he knew about this subject that he's spent so much time testing and perfecting. I'm excited to see where he goes with this.

Be sure to check out Ken's brand new website!

Thanks for reading!

Ken Bova, Earrings

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Quote of the Week

"Therefore the sage produces
without possessing,
Acts without expectations
And accomplishes without abiding in her accomplishments.

It is precisely because she does not abide in them
That they never leave her."

~Lao Tzu, Tao te Ching

I got three rejections in four days, which, I understand is all part of being an artist, but it just seemed like a lot in not a lot of time. Plus, it absolutely wiped out any shred of confidence I may have had in the batch of applications I just sent out, even though I know there are a bunch of different factors that go into who gets chosen for what. I feel like I have to constantly remind myself why I make my work in the first place, because it's main purpose is not to get into shows. I get too caught up in this stuff, and I wonder if it gets any easier as you progress in your career?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Google Art

I know we all love Google for various reasons, including Google Images, but a friend of mine showed me another super cool Google tool. Google's "Art Project" links you to some of the greatest art museums and galleries in the world, including the MoMA, the Uffizi, the National Gallery and the Hermitage. You can take a virtual tour, click on individual paintings and zoom in right up close so you can see the brushwork. You can even make your own personal art collection and add notes.It's pretty incredible. Check it out!!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 2: Wood Carving with Dan DiCaprio

After Caroline's lecture, everyone dispersed into the workshops. For the workshops, we have three people present on Saturday, and they teach the same workshop twice. Students choose ahead of time which two workshops they would like to attend. We do the same thing for Sunday's workshops, with three new presenters. So, students get to attend 4 out of 6 total workshops. Not too shabby.Dan demonstrating at the bandsaw.

My first workshop of the day was Dan DiCaprio's Woodcarving for Jewelry. Dan started off with a brief power point on his work and the work of some other artists who carve wood on a jewelry scale. I really enjoyed his process images, which documented each step he takes in creating a piece, from layout, to final finishing. It was also really great to see the work of other jewelry artists using wood, and helped me understand the context of Dan's work a lot better.Pieces in Progress

Dan took us through his entire process, starting with glueing his basic shape to a piece of wood. Next is cutting out the shape with the bandsaw. He gave a lot of tips on how to get into tight curves and how to safely cut something small and/or curved on the bandsaw. I always viewed the bandsaw as a tool for just roughing things out, so it was really cool to see just how well Dan thinks out his final product at this stage in the process, and how detailed he can get at this early in the process.Carving with a bur.

Dan then demonstrated carving and finishing the wood with burs and a flex shaft. I never realized that most of his forms are actually hollow, and he talked a little bit about at what point in the process he slices the form in half in order to carve the interior, then glue it back together. He talked about an easy method of repairing cracks in the wood, and shared resources for materials and tools. Last, he showed us how he inlays silver into the surface of the wood, and talked about adding pin mechanisms.

Dan Dicaprio, Wrap, Ebony and Silver, 2" x 3" x 1.5", Courtesy of Charon Kransen Arts

I found Dan's workshop fascinating. Even though our time in grad school at ECU overlapped by one semester and we still keep in touch, I guess I never realized how little I actually knew about Dan's work, other than I love it. I'm always impressed by people that can carve like this, since I have such a hard time thinking subtractively. I'm very much an additive person. But the methodical detail Dan puts into each piece, how considered every aspect is from the very beginning, amazes me, since I have a completely different way of working. All that care and thought into making something that looks so simple, elegant, and effortless.

But I guess that's what it's all about.

Dan Dicaprio, Curl, Ebony and Silver, 2" x 3" x 1.5", Courtesy of Charon Kransen Arts

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Artist Statement Anxieties

I'm going to start out by saying that I'm a fairly decent writer. I give all credit to my high school English teacher. I can crank out an eight page paper in a weekend, and the first draft is always pretty close to the final product. I even enjoy writing at times, I wouldn't keep up this blog if I didn't.

But. . . . . I hate writing artist's statements.

Never in my life have I been so sure of what the work is about, and I could not be having a harder time putting it into words. And, I have about 50 quotes from people who say it far better than I ever could. And I'm terrified to start my actual thesis paper. I'm also terrified by the fact that I haven't started yet.

Here's what I've got so far:

This work is driven by a deep personal interest in the science of stones, rocks, geologic processes and the shaping of the physical earth. There is spirituality as well as beauty in something so magnificent and so unspectacular as the earth beneath our feet. Rocks, sand and dirt can convey as sense of sacred space. A stone worn smooth by tides can be soothing to the soul as well as the hand. A humble prayer bead becomes a pearl.

Spirituality also dwells in the very act of making. If one is open to it, each part of the creative process can be a step in the long inner journey towards enlightenment. Repetitive action becomes meditation; each piece becomes a prayer. This work is a reflection of my own inner journey, a consecration of both the mundane and profound, and my search for transcendence.

I swear, next time I'm going to make work about something that's easier to talk about. Like firetrucks.

I'm going to go start breathing into a paper bag now.

Quote of the Week

"You can walk out of your life
if sadness properly instructs you"

~Stephen Dunn, A Good Life

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 2: Caroline Gore Keynote

I was surprised and thrilled when I found out that Caroline Gore was going to be our key note speaker this year. I've been in love with her work since even before I saw her solo show during the SNAG conference in Houston. Caroline's talk Shifting Tradition: A Journey Through Lineage covered the work she completed while in graduate school here at ECU, and during several residencies including the Fiskars Residency in Finland, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska,Florence, Italy and a workshop with Ruudt Peters.

Brooch: Shadowpants 2010
Oxidized sterling silver, gold solder, cotton, silk, thread
21 x 12 x 5 cm
At Palazzo Acciaiuoli, Certosa of Galluzzo, Florence, Italy
photographic reference to site observation, 2007

It was fascinating to see how much the environment affected her work. I love seeing the images next to the jewelry pieces, that direct influence. But Caroline also talked about the intangible aspects of the environment: the city noise in Florence, taking daily walks in Finland, and the storms in Omaha. One of my favorite things she spoke about was seeing moon jellies in an aquarium in Australia, lit in red. She took dozens of pictures, but didn't really do anything with them until years later. I love this example of how as an artist, you just physically and mentally collect whatever speaks to you, not knowing when or how it's going to manifest itself later. This story really resonated with me, since this sort of thing has been happening in my work for the past year or so.

Brooch: Micro/Macro 2010
24K gold leaf, oxidized sterling silver, leather, bone, glass, thread
8 x 10.5 x 2.5 cm
Along River Tay, Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom
photographic reference to site observation, 2007

Caroline also gave some great general advice on making work. She talked about not letting your own expectations, or those of other people get in the way of your work, and on the value of letting things go. She told us all that what we make is unique and valid and never to question that, and that authentic work sells itself. Two things I know to be true, but too often forget. She said as artists, we need to know when to shout and when to whisper, something I'm still trying to work on.

Necklace: The Shape of Absence 2010
18K gold, silk ribbon, thread
71cm in length
Absence: by Train & on foot, Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom
photographic reference to site observation, 2007

It was great to see all of these examples of Caroline's work, even just as images, and to hear how they came about. But I think what sticks with me the most is her attitude towards her work. You don't make work because of some class or assignment. You make work because you need it as much as you need to breathe air. And you make work about what speaks to you, whether it be your dog, or some rocks on the ground, or something you saw years ago. You don't have to make the type of work other people expect you to make. Or even what you expect yourself to make.

I'd like to leave you with three short bullet points from my notes, which I'm going to go post up in my space. Again, these are things we know, or should know, but always bear repeating:

- loosen up

-don't worry so much

-work from the core

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 1: 20-3-20

20-3-20, University Book Exchange, Greenville, NC

After the Tin Show, everyone headed over to 20-3-2: Rings on display at local art supply store/gallery space, University Book Exchange. 20-3-20 was curated by Justin Klocke, and Mike Ruta and was intended to "get the work into the hands of people". They invited 20 emerging artists to make a ring in 3 weeks, resulting in 20 rings. Origionally shown in Chicago during SOFA, 20-3-20 was then invited to Athens, GA, and Greenville, NC.

Mike Ruta, Gold is Just Metal

The set up of the show truly did get the work into hands of people. Attached by cables to a long, suspended board, the rings were free to be picked up and handled, without the risk of having them walk off or be pocketed. I love this idea. Seriously, does any piece of jewelry ask to be picked up and tried on more than a ring? Especially this rubber stamp Gold is Just Metal ring, by Mike Ruta. The wall behind this piece was covered in post it note, where viewers had tested its stamping properties.

Justin Klocke, 10-SS-AU-X

Joe Churchman, Cabochon

There were many excellent rings, but my absolute favorite was Laura Wood's Tribute Ring. This ring consists of an antique engagement ring incased in abaca paper, framed in silver. This is such a beautiful way to re-purpose, but still preserve a family heirloom. I love the clean, elegant design. The engagement ring becomes a cameo like portrait of its previous owner.

Laura Wood, Tribute Ring

These shows made an awesome start to an awesome weekend! Next up: Caroline Gore's keynote lecture.

Thanks for reading!

Click here for more information on 20-3-20.