A Change is as Good as a Holiday (they say)

If that is true I should feel great soon, I’m changing everything I can in my home studio!

The original wall - can't hang anything on it without major drama!

First some plywood on the wall, this will make it easier to hang anything whenever I want without having to use anything more than a hammer! I am impulsive, if I want to pin something up, it has to go up NOW!

New wall cladding

Plywood is on, ready for painting.

Now for something a bit different for the benchtop…. My kitchen builder husband was smiling indulgently when I started to cut all the MDF into pieces. He’s intrigued and wonders where all this is going :)

Bench cut and glued in place

Bench cut and glued in place

I got the undercoat on at 5 am. Peter sprung a weekend away to Byron Bay on me, I quickly took the chance to get it on and dry for when we get back next week. Luckily I’m one of those early risers, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready for anything:)

1st Coat of paint on the wall

1st Coat of paint on the wall

Got the first top coat on. not as dark as I was hoping, I’ll live with it for a bit and see if it needs to be darker. I want a good contrast with the benchtop.

I haven’t decided what colour the bench should be, maybe I’ll put some sort of a gradient on, from orange to yellow I’m thinking at the moment. Anything could happen though, still playing with colour samples:)

Shigeo Fukuda’s Shadow Sculpture – Lunch With a Helmet On

I got a book from the library called: ‘Masters of Deception’ I find it a fascinating subject in general.

From early childhood I remember the work from people like M.C. Esher and Jos de Mey whose prints were in everybody’s house it seemed.

Esher’s work especially would lend itself to a PPP, the strong transformational images like the fishes & ducks print comes to mind.
Then there are some artists who do the most incredible things work with type, look at Scott Kim‘s work and be amazed!

Shigeo Fukuda - Lunch with a Helmet On

Shigeo Fukuda - Lunch with a Helmet On

But Shigeo Fukuda’s shadow sculptures are the most incredible to me, have a look at this video:

I can’t even imagine the challenges he would encounter when working on a piece like this, built out of clamps! He’d have had to be in the dark a lot of the time, to check placement of each clamp, seen from a single light source.

Illusions in Art is a much bigger subject than I realised, I’ll get into it a bit more at some future date!

Is it a Brooch? – Is it a Pendant? Well….it is Both of Course!

Since I moved back to Queensland and not wearing the heavier clothes I wore in Melbourne, my brooches are also sadly neglected!
So I decided to make a simple converter, turning my brooches into a pendants.
converter piece

This one is permanently attached to a leather choker.  It is made up of 2 pieces of sterling tube, soldered together, the bottom tube is the right size for the brooch pin, the top tube is selected for the chain, wire or leather it must take.

Coverter for brooches

The Pin is put through the bottom tube and fastened as normal. Care must be taken that the sharp end of the pin does not protrude too much, it can hook into clothing or skin!

Copper & Sterling silver brooch - converted to a pendant

The brooch turned into a pendant!

Brooch converter

Here’s another one, this time for a little enamelled brooch I made years ago. This pin is a lot smaller, but it works the same way.

Sterling silver converter piece

Brooch converter

Enamelled Brooch/Pendant

And here it is, I prefer wearing it as a pendant, better than a brooch.

Although I soldered 2 pieces of sterling tube to make these findings, they could easily be made of Metalclay, just extrude 2 tubes and join them with some paste.

Minuscules – Gotta Love these:)

Have you ever seen these, Minuscules? They are a short animation that gets played here before the news. I think they should play them afterwards, to put a smile back on your face:)

Have a look at the Miniscule website:)

Have a nice weekend!

7 Simple Ways To Say “No” at zenhabits

Image Source

I don't think there's a person alive who has not been caught saying 'yes' when they should have said 'no'

When I read this post on 'zenhabits' it certainly rang true for me…..

" To learn to say “No”, we have to first understand what’s resisting us about it. Below are common reasons why people find it hard to say no:

  1. You want to help. You are a kind soul at heart. You don’t want to turn the person away and you want to help where possible, even if it may eat into your time.
  2. Afraid of being rude. I was brought up under the notion that saying “No”, especially to people who are more senior, is rude. This thinking is common in Asia culture, where face-saving is important. Face-saving means not making others look bad (a.k.a losing face).
  3. Wanting to be agreeable. You don’t want to alienate yourself from the group because you’re not in agreement. So you confirm to others’ requests.
  4. Fear of conflict. You are afraid the person might be angry if you reject him/her. This might lead to an ugly confrontation. Even if there isn’t, there might be dissent created which might lead to negative consequences in the future.  read more at zenhabits

UFOs – That Means ‘Un-Finished Objects’ to me!

My lifestyle over the past 3-4 years has been a bit hectic to say the least.  But things are settling down  and I have decided that the time is finally right to tackle my box of UFOs!

This is a big box, bigger that a shoebox, filled with bags of all sorts of projects in various stages for construction. These were made as workshop projects, others just because an idea got started but never finished. Some only need a brooch pin, others were made but not soldered yet, anyway I’m sure you’re getting my drift!

This week I finished this chain. I’m happy with the finished piece, it wears well and is a bit different from my other chains. It was also started as a workshop sample, trying to show students that you don’t have to have round or oval links!

Of course everything I do is a work in progress, I might make it longer some time, I’m also thinking of applying a patina to make it black and a little more casual. We’ll see, for now I’m happy to be finishing things and not spending any money to make new stuff!

Do you have UFOs lying around? Or are you the super organised type that starts something and finishes it before starting something else?

Silver Chain - Black

I like it better with a black patina & I made some earrings to match

So it has changed again:) Black this time. I seem to get a lot more wear out of it in black.
The next incarnation (yes it’s changing again) is going to be a longer one, I can always hook it to be short again.

Swarovski at the Salon del Mobile 2010 – Milano

One of the lights diaplays at Swarovski Milan 2010I got a CD in Vogue Living Australia last week, all about the Salon del Mobile in Milan.

There were a number of exhibits I loved, but this one stood out for me even though I don’t consider myself a Blingy Girl:)

Look right to the end if you have time, that’s where the best bits are. The crystals look best with proper lighting from a reputable lighting manufacturers in Ohio.

I love to crystal ball with the natural crystal ball growing in the same room.

I hope you like it!

Creativity & Play: Enjoyment Is the Key!

I believe that everybody is creative! No exceptions!
When students attend my classes for the first time I often hear remarks like this:
“I can’t even draw a straight line” (therefore I am not creative)
“I have tried things before but never really found anything I can do creatively” (so you can see I’m just not creative!)
“I have no ideas!” (that proves I’m not creative!)

All this is rubbish of course… let’s look at these point a bit closer

1 – “I can’t even draw a straight line” (therefore I am not creative)

  • You can draw a straight line, we use rulers for that. Also…. there is nothing very creative about drawing a straight line!

2. “I have tried things before but never really found anything I can do creatively” (so you can see I’m just not creative!)

  • Trying things by yourself without having the basics, taught by self study or going to classes, often leads to failure. Which in turn sets you up for feeling even more insecure whenever you try something new again.

3. “I have no ideas!” (that proves I’m not creative!)

  • Getting new ideas is just a matter of getting ‘into’ the materials at hand, and playing with them, without looking for an outcome.

There are some great ways to learn about design & creativity, using things around the house, things you find in the garden, or on the street even!

Here’s a short list of things that are cheap and easy to find, but give endless opportunity for play:

Aluminium foil - easily shaped into all sorts of things – crunched up loosely for textures, crunch up tightly for sculptural 3D forms

String & Wire – All types of string are usable, glue them down on paper in shapes and patterns that appeal to you that day (tomorrow something totally different might come out!)
Tie things together – sticks – bits of paper – found objects etc. 
Tie them in bunches or knotted along the line, each can suggest different things to you. Wire can do all these things too, but give a totally different effect.

Playing with Paper to find new shapes and designs

Playing with Paper to find new shapes and designs - by Linda Arthurson

Thin card or Manilla - not too hard to cut & easy to manipulate. 
Try cutting strips and weaving them. 
Drag strips along a pair of scissors (like curling ribbon)

Found Objects - All types of things can work. Collect things as you come across them, ready for use when you need them. Bits of plastic, bottle caps, seedpods, shells, sticks, feathers, fragments of netting or fabric, bits of rusty iron, buttons, lace, hardware stuff like washers, nuts etc, colored bit & pieces. This list really is endless!

Go and have a look what a Flickr group of jewellery artists are doing! They are really stretching the boundaries of materials and designs by making a Ring A Day – For a YEAR! I wish I had time to join them, it would be a real challenge to keep coming up with new designs!

A Ring A Day Challenge - Nina Dinoff

A Ring A Day Challenge – Nina Dinoff

So…. make time each day, just to play, whatever time you can free up to do it.
Relax and just let yourself play like a child, without too much thought and with no goal in mind.
It is about having a bit of fun in a busy life.

If you are an artist this is essential. Too often ‘life’ gets in the way, we stop playing and become stale.
To get out of a rut: Play!
- To get ideas: Play!
- To find new ways of constructing things….. well, maybe you’ve guessed the answer here:)

And don’t forget to just play for enjoyment and to de-stress! It’s a very cheap way to calm down from a hectic day.

Photo Polymer Plates for Jewelry Artists

6 Must-Have Techniques to Make Your Jewelry Totally Unique

The use of Photo-polymer Plates in the Visual Arts is extensive! Although Photo-polymer Plates were developed for Flexographic (industrial) printing, artists soon found ways to exploit this very versatile material for making art prints, etchings, artist books and more.

Today these plates are also used by jewelry artists world wide. When I first introduced the Metal Clay community to the concept of making texture and design plates at home, for a low cost and in a very short period of time, I had no idea how well they would be embraced. (You can find step by step instructions to make the plates at:

The Brooch I Wear When Teaching Jewelry

The Brooch I Wear When Teaching Jewelry

But making impressions is only one technique the plates can be used for. Once you have the set up required for exposing and making the plates, you are all set to use them for other things:

1. Printing
This is what they were designed for! Think of packaging and presentation materials and printing on materials to make jewelry from.

  • Use your logo on Card Tags, pretty paper bags, or for that matter fabric bags.
  • Print designs on simple paper box tops
  • Use for simple printing on invitations to shows or exhibitions
  • Print onto perspex or on glass for use in jewelry pieces

2.    Embossing
This works especially well when you use the harder polymer plates. All you need is a simple ball stylus purposely designed for embossing, or try an empty ballpoint pen to start you off. Make sure to use good quality, heavy paper.

3.  Using a Photopolymer Plate as a Mold for Wax Models for Casting
Making multiple, or related castings is easy when you start with a basic design in a polymer plate.
*    Use the deepest plate you can buy
*    Brush Petroleum Jelly into the grooves and all over the plate
*    Build a shallow retaining ‘wall’ around the design to keep the liquid wax in
*    Pour the wax carefully into all the grooves
*    Let it cool naturally and take it off the plate
The resulting wax can be further worked like any other wax model

4. Making Molds for Glass
Once you start making cast glass designs with Photopolymer plates, you’ll get hooked to the ease of getting intricate designs, lettering etc with absolute accuracy and so easy to achieve.

  • Use a plate thickness suitable for your design (a plastic backed plate would work better for this process)
  • Oil well in the grooves and all over the plate
  • Build a retaining ‘wall’ around the design, make it in two steps, one for the plaster and one a bit deeper for the glass
  • Pour in your casting plaster mix and let set
  • Take off the plate and dry thoroughly

Then follow you favorite casting schedule with the glass of your choice

5. Making Molds for Pottery Clay
Plaster molds you make for clay would be similar to the ones described above.
They can be simple press molds, or made with a well to take casting slip.
You could also try to dust a plate with powdered clay and use pottery clay to take an impression directly from the plate.
Use a flexible (plastic-backed) plate to make it easier to release from the plaster or clay would be advisable.
Very intricate designs can be achieved, as a base for further work, or for inlaying other colours of clay. Make lovely pieces that can be set in metal or simply strung on cord or leather.

Bi-cone Bead in the Making

Bi-cone Bead in the Making

6. Making Impression Plates for Polymer Clay and Metal clays
This is what many metal-clay artists use to get nice clean lines in their designs.

  • Excellent as a starting point for further carving
  • Great for bold inlay designs
  • Making metal Logo tags, using computer artwork including lettering
  • Making Keum-boo texture plates and more
Bi-cone Bead

Bi-cone Bead

The possibilities seem endless,  and I haven’t even scratched the surface! In the next few weeks I’ll expand on some of these techniques, making it easier to follow the different processes.

If you’re new to PPPs, try them!  I’m sure you’ll like them too once you’ve made a few plates. Initially process seems very complex, but nearly all of my students found it easy to do them after a couple of tries, so don’t give up too early:)

Have you used Photopolymer plates in your work? Please share what you use and what your medium is and how you expose them, I’d love to know:)

The Move – The Saga Continues

Boxes in the livingroom

Boxes in the livingroom

Well, we finally got everything back to Queensland! Boxes everywhere, this seems to be the story of my life for the last 2-3 years!

It shouldn’t really amaze me how much I can accumulate in a few years, it’s ‘Abundance in Action’ I reckon!

Books, more books and then an extra stack of books…..
Tools, more tools and another lot of tools….

I admit to these being my major vices, I just can’t resist a good book! And when I go into town to buy some clothes, because I don’t have a thing to wear, I’ve been known to go to the jeweller’s suppliers first, to get the business shopping out of the way, then having to go back home because I blew all my clothing allowance on tools! And still have nothing to wear!!!!   Never mind, nobody will see me anyway while I’m playing at the bench with my new tools!

So, the removalists got to the studio in Brunswick on a Saturday morning, both of them nearly died of shock! I had everything packed and stacked. ‘The office’ had sent a man 6 weeks earlier to come and have a look and give us a quote. He had told the guys on the truck that it would be a ‘2 man job’ Of course they didn’t agree and thought 4 men would be needed. OMG what a disaster! I thought they would leave there and then!
But after much ‘consultation’ with the office, they got started. Looking at them going up & down the stairs for about 30 min. Peter couldn’t stand it any longer and decided to help them for the rest of the day. He’s so kind-hearted, of course he was totally knackered when it was all loaded up!

So now everything’s in Queensland, a 2 day drive from Victoria, all the boxes have been put in the factory next to Peter’s. I’m getting the back-half of that, it’ll be a good space for workshops. My own tools etc are coming home (3 minutes drive from the factory)  I have a single garage here, it has been converted into a nice studio, air-con etc. in place.  I have been teaching here for the past 2 years, but after January I’ll have the factory to teach from and this space will be all mine! Yay!

Stuff everywhere!

Stuff everywhere!

So, every day I bring some boxes back from the factory and bit by bit, as I can stand it, get things sorted out and put away. NOT my favourite job in the world! But I’m keeping the end goal in mind and that keeps me on track and motivated.

I tend to work in short spurts, ‘go like the clappers’ then collapse in a heap! There’s no relief at the moment, I usually ‘escape’ to my bench, but I haven’t found all my tools & materials yet, so it’s impossible to work on anything much.

Putting it all away

Putting it all away

Luckily I borrowed a few great books from Robyn (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo & The Girl Who Played With Fire, parts 1 & 2 of a trilogy) they are keeping me sane!

I hope to get at least my own stuff sorted by Xmas, I seriously need to make some work! I haven’t been able to get any jewellery made for over two months now! And it’s driving me nuts!
Okay, breathe…… calm again….:)
Remember Kaizen – baby-steps……