Saturday, August 1, 2015

Come on folk, we fest!

No rest for the weary (or fly-bitten); making shepherd hooks on the beach during a camping trip.

It's August!

I used to think this was the half-way point of the summer, but weather-wise I'm having to adjust that mindset.  Maybe as we gather at the folk festival in a week we can celebrate it as the beginning of summer this year - one can hope!

The Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival, as I'm sure I've said before, is my favourite event to participate in as a craftsperson.  August 7, 8, & 9th in Bannerman Park will be hopping with folks anxious to revel in this annual summer celebration of fantastic music, food, and craft.  With headliners like Bruce Cockburn, David Francey, Fred Penner(!), as well as well-loved local groups The Fables, Hey Rosetta, the list goes on.... all putting on a great show in the newly renovated Bannerman Park, I do believe it'll be a festival to remember this year!

I've been working on some new jewellery for this event, as I do each year.

There are many tried and true ways of incorporating colour into jewellery.  Unfortunately many of them are also very time consuming, which utltimately adds to the price of the finished piece for the customer.

I've also wanted to explore using alternative materials in my jewellery for some time.  The pieces I've made so far this year may be the beginnings of a whole new line, depending on the feedback I receive on these initial few.

The material I'm using is melamine, also known by the trade names Formica, or Arborite.  Using heat and pressure, resin is bonded with patterned and wood layers to create the durable surface that we more commonly see used in counter-tops.  I'm intrigued with how differently we can appreciate the subtle nuances in the pattern when such a small piece is used, as in jewellery.  These patterns feed my craving for, and appreciation of, designs that reference topography.

The necklaces I've made also incorporate components I've etched, whereas I've left the earrings simpler, as more of an exploration of shape, movement, and the patterning on the melamine.

Of course I also have been hard at work building up the inventory of my more classic designs and a fresh batch of them will be ready by the time we set up on Friday.

I hope to see lots of familiar faces next weekend in the park as we celebrate good music, tasty food, fine craft, and the people who love and appreciate it all.

This is also the final week for the Newfoundland & Labrador Craft Council Gallery's Annual Member's Exhibit.  You can view most of the work online, but to truly appreciate the fine craftsmanship be sure not to miss the opportunity to visit the Gallery on the second floor of Devon House in person.

I'd also like to share the exciting news that a profile of my studio practice written by curator Gloria Hickey, was published by the Metal Arts Guild of Canada in their latest issue focusing on Canadian jewelers.  I was honoured to have my ring, Sedimentary Journey, chosen for the cover image.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Exhibition Openings! Plural!

Thursday night I'll be in Toronto for the opening of the Great White North Exhibition!
I'm so honoured to have my neckpiece, Drifting, selected for this national show.  I extend my sincere thanks to the Newfoundland & Labrador Arts Council for their support of my attendance at the exhibition opening.  I invite everyone to drop by 18 Karat gallery to see the array of work on display.  The exhibition runs from June 25th to July 30th.  If you can't attend in person, there's a pretty fantastic catalogue online at the 18 Karat website.  You can also read more about the inspiration and creation of my submission specifically in this previous blog post.

I'll enjoy being in Toronto for a few days, but unfortunately I'll be missing the opening in St. John's of the Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador's Annual Member's Exhibit.  The opening is Saturday June 27th, 2-4 pm in the Gallery upstairs.  It will be on until August 9th.
This is my favourite exhibition of the year, and the variety of work on display is quite incredible.  This year I'm incorporating some alternative materials into my jewellery to add a pop of colour.  Two necklaces and a matching set of earrings using this new combination will be in the Annual Member's Exhibit.  I've also made a necklace using a recent design inspired by basket fungi, from fine and sterling silver, with a heat-coloured copper focal component.  Here's a sneak peek of my submissions below:

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sending my prints out into the world to be more easily found

Have you been to Tors Cove?  It really is worth the trip.  Amongst the many reasons to go, Running the Goat Books & Broadsides is out there!  Marnie Parsons is embracing her second summer in her beautiful new studio with gusto by expanding the range of local work she is carrying, and I'm thrilled and honoured to have four of my prints for sale there this year.  The printshop will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:30 to 5:30 from mid May until the end of October.  Be sure to stop in to Five Island Art Gallery while you're there.  There is also easy access to the East Coast Trail directly across from the church parking lot.

Here's a peek at the prints of mine that will be available at Running the Goat this year.  From top to bottom left: "Here",
"Moving forward, Looking back",
"Rooms in Memory" - which depicts the view from the tower of the now deconsecrated church in Tors Cove,
and "Marking the Journey" - similar to Moving forward, Looking back, but with a collaged drypoint on rice paper strip incorporated.

"Marking the Journey" has also been submitted to the St. Michael's Printshop Annual Member's Exhibit.  The opening is this Saturday from 2-5, and the exhibition will be up until June 20th.  See invitation below.

What do you think of digital watermarks?  This winter I took an introductory Photoshop workshop, and from it I figured out how to make watermarks on digital images.  Are they too distracting?  I haven't bothered with them before on images of my jewellery because I've figured there isn't as much value in duplicating an image of jewellery.  And if someone is that dedicated to copy a jewellery design, they also need the technical skills to do so. 

I say this in no way to diminish the skill required to hand-pull prints, but with images of prints online, all that's technically necessary to have the image for your very own would be to print it off from your computer.  Obviously someone doing this doesn't have much respect for the actual work involved in the printmaking process, or the unique texture and feel of hand-pulled prints.  But much as I hate to mar the images you see here, I feel it is becoming the new (unfortunate) "normal" in this digital age.

I'm excited to have printmaking as another creative outlet.  While it initially was the commonalities between etching jewellery and etching prints that drew me to it, I am now intrigued by so many more of the printmaking processes.  We'll see where it all leads!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The making of "Drifting" for the Great White North Exhibit

Winter is a hard time to keep up on blog posts for two reasons: first, many of the projects I'm working on are commissions and I just can't spill the beans on my customers by leaking images of the works in progress, and secondly, this is the time of year I tackle my submissions for the annual national jewellery exhibition in Toronto and it's verboten to reveal the finished piece before the jurying is done.

But the jurying is done!  And this year my piece has been accepted into the show!  Yay! 

The national jewellery exhibition has been hosted by Zilberschmuck Gallery for the past ten years, but with the unfortunate closure of that spectacular space last year, the torch has been passed to 18 Karat Studio and Gallery, also in Toronto.  They have taken on the not insignificant challenge of this exhibition and have run with it! 
Red Maple, A.Y. Jackson

The show now has a name that will carry it from year to year: The Great White North Exhibition.  This year the chosen theme is The Group of Seven.  Participants were to choose a painting or artist from the Group of Seven and make their work based upon it.  I chose Red Maple, by A.Y. Jackson.  And my neckpiece, Drifting, imagined a moment in time after the one depicted in the painting, when a stiff breeze had lifted the turning leaves from their branches and set them floating on the churning river beyond. 

In making this piece I began with the leaves, so as to establish the scale of the piece overall.  I roller-printed a skeleton leaf into copper, before sawing out each shape by hand.  Then I heat-coloured the copper with a torch, quenching them in boiling water.  This gives the copper a bright red colour.  Using my dapping block, I then put a gentle curve into each leaf.

I referenced the river in the painting to create the sterling silver swirls that suggest the eddies in the fast-flowing water.  These I etched, and shaped using my dapping block.

Because the neckpiece would require quite a quantity of silver, I did a mock-up first in copper, to determine the length of wire I would need, and to establish that the design I saw in my head would actually look the way I imagined.  Once the copper necklace was made I laid the leaves in place to see how the proportions were working out, and I also marked where I'd be soldering on the silver "eddies".  Then I twisted silver wire, soldering it together, and giving it a hammered finish so the light would bounce off it in a pleasing way.

All in all it came together much as I'd hoped!  And crossing my fingers for yet another year, I mailed it off to Toronto.  I'm so happy that it was chosen by the jurors to be included in this year's exhibition.  And I'm even happier that the tradition of this national juried show will continue with the enthusiasm of 18 Karat Studio and Gallery behind it.  I'm looking forward to seeing the exhibition in its entirety, and seeing the inspiration other artists drew from The Group of Seven.

If you are in the Toronto area, you can see the exhibition this coming week, as it is to be included in Toronto's Art and Fashion Week, April 21st-25th, 585 Dundas St. East, 6-12pm.

In the month of July the exhibition will be on display at 18 Karat Studio and Gallery, 275 Dundas Street West.  A reception is planned as well, and I will pass along details as they become available.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

It's February. There's no denying a new year is well underway.

This year I'm once again attending Gallery @ ACTS (Atlantic Craft Trade Show).  This is a wholesaler's event, for craftspeople from all four Atlantic provinces to market their wares to buyers from across the country and the US.  The Gallery portion is a smaller venue alongside the main buyer's marketplace, where artists who wish to solicit gallery interest in their one-of-a-kind work can display it for the visiting gallery reps who come to the event for this purpose.  I participated in Gallery @ ACTS in 2013, and found it very educational.  Last year I didn't want to take time away from preparing my work for my gallery exhibition in St. John's in order to attend, but this year I am returning - with some of my more sculptural work.

The first year I attended gave me lots to think about how I would approach it the next time I attended, and improving my gallery displays was one area I wanted to do differently.  I've probably mentioned before that I love thinking up and designing new displays, and if I weren't so far down this jewellery path I might just go into display creation simply for the never-ending puzzles it presents!  Portability is always a huge factor for me, and since I am transporting my display to Halifax, on a plane, I had to think "lightweight", and "disassemble-able".  I settled on shaping blue insulation foam and using dowels to create platforms.  These are then covered in a stretchy black fabric held in place with pins.  The photos (above, and at right) are not great, but hopefully you get the idea.
February also brings with it that ultimate of heart-encrusted holidays - Valentine's Day.  It's difficult as a jeweler to let it slip by without producing something for the occasion.  This year there is a perfectly timed exhibition opening in the Annex Gallery at the Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador entitled All Kinds of Love.  I don't do much wire work, but the idea of a bleeding heart necklace has been rolling around in my mind for some time, and this provided the perfect reason to execute it.  

I am also happy to be invited to be a studio guest at Alexis Templeton's annual February hearts event.  On February 14th I will be doing a demo on how to create your very own bleeding heart charm out of copper wire.  This event will run from 12-4pm, please drop by and visit!  Alexis' studio is at 75 Quidi Vidi Road.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Crying "Baubles! and Linos! for sale, for sale oh"!

The Big Season is upon us! 

I’ve been working hard on my submissions to the Comfort& Joy exhibit.  Here’s a couple of sneak peeks (above, and at right).  This exhibition runs November 29th – December 19th at the Gallery of the Craft Council of Newfoundland& Labrador.  Always an impressive array of fine craftsmanship, it is sure to put you in the spirit!

Between now and Christmas, there are four venues where I will be selling my wares in person. 

At three of them I will be selling my jewellery (and my beaded wire trees if I can find room to incorporate them into my booth).  I’ve made a lot of brand new work this year, using etched antique maps, tree branches, and barnacles.

Come and find me with my jewellery at the following locations:

·      Craft Council Christmas Craft Fair, November 20th – 23rd at the Art & Culture Centre.
·      Quidi Vidi Plantation Christmas Open House, December 6th (10-4), & 7th  (12-4).
·      Anna Templeton Tea & Sale, December 12th – 14th.

Exciting news this year is my foray into the world of printmaking! 

A few years ago I took an etching workshop to learn how printmakers etch so that I could bring some skills from a different artistic avenue back to my jewellery practice.  I love crossing disciplines with technique in this way – I find it gives me a fresh angle to tackle my designs from. 

However, since that workshop I’ve wondered about trying out printmaking simply for the sake of printmaking.  Over this past year I’ve been excitedly exploring this new medium, and am thoroughly enjoying it!  The dilemma is that by its very nature, printmaking results in quite an output of prints (who knew!).  So, in the spirit of embracing my inner business-person, I thought I’d try selling some of these prints.  I’d love for them to find a home, and in the ultimate spirit of critique that is the public marketplace, I’ll learn if the prints I’m making appeal to others. 

I don’t have much in the way of teaser shots to show you; it turns out photographing two-dimensional prints is a whole different kettle of fish from photographing jewellery!  I will have to work on that.  This image is of a print I had in the Annual Member’s Exhibit at the Craft Council this summer.  Using a map that relates to the location of the image depicted in the print I hand-stitched topographical details as well as rivers and marshes into the paper.  It will be available for sale at The Printer’s Fair.  Please drop down and have a look at my latest endeavors:

·      The Printer’s Fair, November 16th, 11am – 4pm at the Rocket Room, upstairs from Rocket Bakery. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Not Christmas. Yet.

Nothing Christmasy to see here. ;)

August is an ancient memory, and September did a clever vanishing act, which means we must acknowledge that we are now officially engulfed by Fall.  This is my favourite season. 

And yet I find I am as nauseated as most people are by the appearance in many stores of "Seasonal Items of a distinctly Christmas Persuasion".  It feels far too early.  And they seem to appear earlier each year.  For me, it dilutes the significance of any holiday when we are inundated months in advance with the commercial garb that now "must" accompany its celebration. 

I love Thanksgiving, and I think its because it, as yet, seems to have escaped this smothering pressure to purchase plastic doo-dads and sparkly ghee-gaws to herald its imminent arrival.  Thanksgiving is what you make of it, as any holiday should be.  The emphasis there is on the "you" and the "making". (And preferably with an emphasis on "local" too!)

Just some totally un-Christmasy new earring designs.

Perhaps I am more sensitive to this commercialized pressure because I am already spending most of my time and energy in my own studio thinking and working towards the Christmas season well in advance of its arrival.  Obviously I cannot wait until November to start making products that might appeal to the Christmas shopper.  Christmas is the biggest time of the year, in terms of sales, for a craftsperson, and adequate preparation is essential to my sanity.  I like to be the tortoise in this race towards the gift-giving season, and so I have been puttering away making some new jewellery designs as well as re-vamping my booth display for "The Big Fair".  I enjoy the Christmasy season when it arrives, but right now it's just one foot in front of the other, one project at a time, so that when November and December arrive I am ready.  Then and only then will I rouse my celebratory spirit of the season.

Adding grommets to what will become an earring display.
Aerosol glue is a wonderful thing as long as the rest of the room doesn't get sticky too!

Stacks of new necklace displays, and finished earring display.