Sunday, April 3, 2016

Swept up by a new project!

Hello! Despite my lack of news here on the blog, I have been quite busy with various jewellery projects since the beginning of 2016.  The trouble is that the most exciting projects are often ones I'm not allowed to share with you because they are being submitted to juries for consideration for exhibitions and such.  It is a conundrum - I'd be thrilled to share images of what I'm working on with my readers, but I don't want to jeopardize my eligibility for my work to be selected by a jury.

As I mentioned in my last post, I did submit a sculpture to the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council for their call for proposals to create the awards for their annual awards show.  I really enjoyed making the piece and I'm thrilled with how it turned out.  Unfortunately my submission was not selected by the jury.  I would share it with you now except that I plan to submit it to the Craft Council's Annual Member's Exhibit!  Sorry!  But I will share this sneak peak with you.  The overall sculpture is approximately 4"x 4 1/2"x 3".  Familiar imagery for me to be sure, but this sculpture is curved - and I see great potential for taking this idea further.

I also submitted a set of brooches to the Metal Arts Guild of Canada's 70th Anniversary exhibition, Innovation to be held in Toronto, hosted by 18 Karat Gallery.  Again, I can't share images with you of the finished pieces, pending my acceptance/rejection for the exhibition.  I can tell you I decided to make work that incorporates 3M reflective fabric, with the thought that when you dress up to go out on the town, you might also wish to choose classy adornments for your coat that have the added bonus of being reflective at night.  No need to resort to the less than classy arm bands or *gasp* vests!

The images I will share with you now are from my current project.  Salmonier Nature Park is celebrating their 40th Anniversary with brand new facilities that will open to the public this spring.  The exhibition, Spirits Sheltered, will be a fundraiser for the Park.  It's a very exciting project to be involved with, and I will keep you updated as the preparation for it continues.

We (the participating artists) were invited out to the Park a month or so ago for a tour of the new buildings, and a comprehensive presentation on all the rehabilitative, educational, and tourism-focused programming they do there.  We visited the animals currently in residence, and were invited to come back in our own time to do further research as necessary for our artwork.  This is what I did over Easter weekend.

The Park is not yet open to the public, and the staff onsite is the skeleton crew necessary for animal care and administrative work.  There was a cabin available for me to stay in, and I had the freedom to wander the trails at my leisure observing the animals.  I accompanied Karen, the animal care-person, on her rounds one morning as she distributed food and water to the animals.  That was fantastic!  

Based on my initial visit to the Park, I decided I wanted to do a print and a piece of jewellery based on one of the white animals.  I'm still pondering this whole idea of "home", and how we feel "at home".  My plan is to make an embossed print of a mostly white animal, on white paper, with just enough ink to highlight the dark areas of the animal: its eyes, nose, and any dark markings on its coat.  Once I've printed the edition I will turn the printing plate into a brooch.

Based on this idea, the animals that were the main focus of my sketches and photographs were the snowy owls, the caribou, and the taxidermied ptarmigan and least weasels they have on display.  I had thought before I went out for my 3 day stay, that the snowy owl would be my primary focus, but because of his elusive nature I wasn't able to study him as well as I'd hoped.  The caribou, on the other hand, were incredibly engaging.  There are three; a mom, her yearling son, and an older male.  He became a resident of Salmonier Nature Park after becoming a nuisance animal in a community.  Because of this he is exceptionally friendly, even playful.  I must admit I was little smitten by the time I had to leave.  So he has become the focus of my primary sketch for the print.  I may well go on to do a series of these using the other white animals, as I really like the idea.
Hope you enjoy the photos!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A brand new year.

2016 still smells new and fresh, and I'm looking forward with anticipation to having some time to explore the new projects that have been waiting too long on the back burner.

While a couple of them are jewellery related, most are more sculptural in form.  I also have some print making ideas I'd like to try out.  I know from past experience that the long slow winter months when I can work on these ides will pass all too quickly. So I'm eager to get started!

One idea further examines the theme of habitat encroachment, that I have explored in previous sculptural work.  And it requires me to order a new tool - that's always a bonus!  I want to create a bunch of metal spirals that depict a variety of silhouetted landscapes. These spirals could then be interconnected in a variety of ways to depict different natural vs. manmade environmental scenarios, and the degree to which they intermingle. The tool I'm going to order will be a deeper throated jeweller's saw, as the one I have now only has a 6" throat and that will limit how long I can make each spiral.

I'm also thinking of submitting a proposal to the Arts Council, who currently have a call for proposals out for the creation of their annual awards. I've never submitted a proposal like this before, but I have an idea for some small sculptures that I think would be just the right form for an award. They would be similar to the silhouetted tree shadow boxes I've done on the past, but triangular shape to give them a more three dimensional form.  The trick will be to compose a proposal that adequately conveys my idea!  It will be be a learning experience, whether I'm granted the project or not.

The third sculptural series I'm keen to make I've had on and off the back burner for some time. It is a series of rocking birds - pierced and etched to give them visual texture. I had started one of them, hoping to have it ready for the Craft Council's annual member's show this past summer, but production work and life got in the way. At
least it is started though, and that can sometimes be half the battle!

In terms of prints, I have designed a couple of art books, but I've gotten no further than that with them - yet. One is an autobiography of the moon, and another is a three dimensional mushroom shaped book incorporating felt. I've also been photographing beaver lodges with the thought of making a series that explores the idea of "home".

So I have no shortage of ideas, and for that I am grateful! While I do wish I had more time to execute them all, a worse fate would be to not be able to think of what to make next!  So, as I wish for myself, I wish also to all of my readers - a brand new year full of inspiration that pulls you in exciting new directions. Find the passion in 2016 and grab hold of it!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Big Fair Season!

I'm kicking off this Christmas fair season with my biggest event of the year: The Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador Christmas Craft Fair!  This year is exciting because we're in a new location.  The Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay has TONS of parking and is an easily accessible building for those with mobility issues.  We have outgrown the cozy and comfortable Arts & Culture Centre, which is fantastic as it means there are more and more fine craftspeople who are bringing their work to market!  Yay for local craft!
With my local antique map earrings winning Best New Product last year, they were used as the image on this year's poster and other promotional items.  Such an honour.  With so many new craft vendors at this event, I can't wait to see what new products might rise to the top this year.

Some sneak peeks of new work to entice you, at the top: earrings and a necklace I'll be bringing to the CCNL Fair, and at the bottom: submissions to the Comfort & Joy exhibit at the Craft Council Gallery, opening November 28th.

I have three fairs back to back over the next three weeks, then a week off before my final event of the season.  Here's where you'll find me with my jewellery and/or prints in the coming weeks:
  • November 22nd: The Printer's Fair will be happening in the Rocket Room above Rocket Bakery. Here's a look at one of my newest prints that I'm absolutely thrilled with!:


  • November 28th: Quidi Vidi Plantation Christmas Open House: I'm thrilled once again to be invited to bring my work to this fantastic event.  It really kickstarts my Christmas spirit!  While you can (and should!) visit the Plantation anytime to see the artists at work and to purchase unique gift items, their open houses really bring a sense of festivity and celebration to act of making.
  • December 11th, 12th & 13th: The Anna Templeton Christmas Tea & Sale.  As a craftsperson this event is really like a family gathering.  Familiar, and new faces of craftspeople and customers congregate here to enjoy three floors of handcrafted goods, as well as the unparalleled inhouse cookery stylings of Katie Parnham and her crew in the kitchen, serving up soups, salads, and sweets, along with tea & coffee in the Tea Room. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Falling into a schedule of events!

August slipped away in the blink of an eye, and now we're half way through September!
As a craftsperson it's time to think about Christmas!  Not the day itself - no, I staunchly resist our over-eager commercialization of each and every holiday - but I must plan the season of events that Susan Lee Studios will participate in.

The first is the most exciting for me, because of its newness.  For the first time I will be traveling outside Newfoundland to present my work to the public at a juried craft fair!  Windfall Fine Art & Handcraft Market will be happening in Antigonish, Nova Scotia on September 26th & 27th.  I have family in the area that was impressed with the high calibre of work on offer at the Windfall Market in previous years.  I've also had the opportunity to chat with vendors who participate in the Windfall Market, and they expressed their satisfaction with how well run the event is.  It's very reassuring to me to have both these perspectives before trying out a new venue, especially when the added cost and logistics of travel must be considered.  I hope to make this the first of many Windfall Markets that I participate in!

The rest of my season is falling into place as well.  I will be updating my blog as we get closer to the Christmas season, but in the meantime a quick rundown of where you can find me selling Susan Lee Studios jewellery and/or prints in the coming months follows:

  • October 3rd: The Museum Association of Newfoundland & Labrador will be having its AGM & Conference October 2-3, 2015 at the Ramada Hotel in St. John's, Newfoundland.  The theme of this year's conference is Handcrafted Heritage.  I will be giving a presentation (sorry, none of my products will be for sale at this event) on my collaboration with The Rooms Gift Shop to create an exclusive line of Forget-Me-Not jewellery that commemorates the Newfoundland Regiment's involvement in WWI.  
  • October 6th: Lend Us Your Ears Fundraiser at the Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador.  I've submitted a few pairs of earrings to this very worthwhile cause, and am so sorry to be unable to attend in person, as I've seen a few other people's submissions too and they're very exciting!  Craftspeople across media disciplines have been creating one-of-a-kind earrings for donation.  This is an exciting chance for "supporters to purchase pieces from the highly technical to the totally whimsical, art jewellery to fashion jewellery...and beyond!", says Shannon Reid, who will curate the display happening in the Main Gallery.  This fundraiser will help us to maintain the historic structure of Devon House, where the Craft Council is located, and which takes no small amount of love (and money!) to keep it looking beautiful.
  • November 11th - 15th: Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador 42nd Christmas Craft Fair!  The big news this year is our big move!  This event will be held in Torbay at the Jack Byrne Arena.  Parking? No Problem!  Accessibility? No Problem!  Looking forward to seeing tons of folks to kick off this event in what will likely be our new location in years to come!  Spread the news!
  • November 22nd: The Printer's Fair will be happening in the Rocket Room above Rocket Bakery.  I'm so excited to be taking part in this for a second year!  I am having great fun working on brand new prints, and I'll share some sneak peeks ahead of the event.
  • November 28th: Quidi Vidi Plantation Christmas Open House: I'm thrilled once again to be invited to bring my work to this fantastic event.  It really kickstarts my Christmas spirit!  While you can (and should!) visit the Plantation anytime to see the artists at work and to purchase unique gift items, their open houses really bring a sense of festivity and celebration to act of making.
  • December 11th, 12th & 13th: The Anna Templeton Christmas Tea & Sale.  As a craftsperson this event is really like a family gathering.  Familiar as well as new faces of craftspeople and customers congregate here to enjoy three floors of handcrafted goods, as well as the unparalleled inhouse cookery stylings of Katie Parnham and her crew in the kitchen, serving up soups, salads, and sweets, along with tea & coffee in the Tea Room. 

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!