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.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Midsummer events!


Here comes August, folks!  Don't ask me how that happened but it did.  

I've been totally engrossed with incorporating maps into my jewellery lately.  Above is an etching in bronze from a 1932 antique map of this lovely city of St. John's.  Can you see all the finger piers that originally decorated our harbour?  I've also been working with a 1794 map of the island of Newfoundland.  From that one I've extracted images from the coastlines to use in my designs.  I love the texture the maps give to the metal, and how incorporating the local imagery can tug at the heartstrings of those of us that love this place so much, yet without the jewellery becoming too kitschy in a souvenir-y way.  Below are some earrings I've made in sterling silver and copper using these antique maps.  Depending on which map I've used, I'm titling them Streets of St.John's, and Coastlines of Newfoundland. What do you think?


I first began exploring the use of these maps with my submissions (pictured below) to "Your St. John's: Our Stories", now on exhibit (until August 29th) at the Water Street Gallery above the Heritage Shop downtown.  These particular pieces are one-of-a-kind, and I will be speaking about my process and inspiration this Saturday, August 2 at an Artist's Talk along with Carolyn Morgan, Kelly Jane Bruton, & Dora Cooper who also have beautiful work in the show.  The talk starts at 3:00 and goes until 4:30.  Refreshments will be served.  I hope you can join us! 

 




Only one week later on August 8th, the fabulous Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival begins!  This is the highlight of my summer.  This year promises to be another stellar line-up of musical acts, tasty treats, and of course, great local craft.  Starting Friday, August 8th at 6:15, and continuing all day Saturday & Sunday until midnight, Bowring Park is the place to be.  Share the event on Facebook with all your friends, and come visit me in the craft tent to take a look at my new Streets of St. John's, and Coastlines of Newfoundland jewellery for yourself!  


  In the great spirit of collaboration, the Historic Sites Association has partnered with the Folk Arts Society to offer a 10% discount at any Heritage Shop with your Folk Festival ticket stub!  Sweet deal!



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Memorial Day to some, Canada Day to us all.



The sense of history in Newfoundland is very fresh.  Within living memory this little island was its own dominion in the British Empire, and not yet a part of Canada.  At the beginning of World War I in 1914, the population was around 250,000.  That's less than today's population of cities like Victoria, BC, Halifax, NS, or Windsor, ON, but when called upon to serve, Newfoundlanders stepped forward in remarkable numbers.  By the time the war ended in 1918 35% of the eligible men had served overseas.



 As 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI, The Rooms has undertaken an extensive program of exhibitions to honour the Newfoundlanders who served.  This programming will culminate in 2016 as we mark the 100th anniversary of the tragic Battle of the Somme at Beaumont Hamel.  On July 1, 1916 780 men from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment went "over the top", and within half an hour the battle was over.  Only 68 men were in attendance at roll call the next morning.  So on July 1st, while the rest of Canada revels in a holiday that celebrates this great nation, here in Newfoundland the day is also allocated the respect it deserves as a day of remembrance for those who gave so much to protect the freedoms we all share.

The poppy as a symbol of remembrance was adopted by servicemen and women from America, Canada, Britain, New Zealand, and Australia.  But in Newfoundland the forget-me-not was chosen as the flower of remembrance, and today many still wear it on July 1 as a tribute.

I am honoured to have been asked by The Rooms to create a line of jewellery based on the forget-me-not flower that memorialized the sacrifice of so many Newfoundlanders.  The design I have used was found on a set of cuff-links that belonged to a member of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.  This line of jewellery is available exclusively at The Rooms Gift Shop

Further reading about the events planned to memorialize this anniversary: