Sunday, April 25, 2010

tiny paintings

I made this miniature egg tempera painting (2"x 1 3/4") a couple days ago, after feeling a little disconnected from myself, or rather who I perceive myself to be. Oddly, I still consider myself a painter whenever I'm asked what I do, even though I haven't made a painting in forever. It's something I enjoy immensely, even though its tedious, makes my neck, back and eyes hurt. Not to mention the pigments are extremely toxic to breathe. So I don't do it very often, because when I get to paint, its ALL I want to do and any interruption is vastly annoying. Anyway, I was feeling as though I had no business even thinking i was once a painter. So I ordered some tube egg tempera from The Art Supply Warehouse (solves the pigment dust issue) so I wouldn't have to mix my own paint from powdered pigments and egg yolks. I have to say, I'm enjoying it! I started with tiny oak panels I prepped by applying layers of gesso and sanding between coats, so the surface is satiny smooth, a process I like because I feel like I'm inacting a process that is unchanged since Botticelli. It felt satisfying, building the surface with hundreds of brushstrokes, attaining colors the same way one embroiders.

I finished this little baby bird who looks like Max, this evening, just as the sun set. The untidy nest is woven through with threads and bits of paper, to make it cozy. You might be wondering why I'm so obsessed with the whole bird/human hybrid creature. The short answer is that I've always thought it looked cute, ever since I first saw images from King Tut's tomb when I was a kid. The facination continued when I discovered that almost every culture has some version of this creature: the Egyptians called it Ba, the symbol of the soul flying to the afterlife, the Native Americans used the symbol as a Bringer of Storms, the Greeks called them Harpies or Sirens. The symbol has an interesting history that appeals to me.... I'm always drawing or sculpting it. So, I now feel like i deserve to call myself a painter. Time to be a sculptor and start bustin' it for Bead and Button!

Friday, April 16, 2010


It is perfectly beautiful in Asheville right now, so much that we've spent most of our time outside. This was taken at the Bird Sanctuary, a few minutes north of where we live. It was a nice adventure, Max and Azalea were in manageable moods and allowed me to sketch for awhile.

My girl looking lovely under a flowering tree, the name of which has escaped me.
Here's a peek of my outdoor studio, the back porch. Its a high vantage point overlooking dogwoods and in the distance, mountains. Its really pleasant to work outside here, with a nice breeze and all the birds singing away (we have the usual crowd of chickadees, finches, sparrows and crows, along with more unusual broadwing hawks, pileated woodpeckers and eastern bluebirds).

This is a shot of the new bronze, silver and shibuichi pieces that finally made it onto the website. Some items have been around for awhile, but never make it to the site because they get snatched up too quickly at the shows. Greg put up about 30 pieces that haven't made it to the shop before. We celebrated by enjoying a fire on the porch and sipping wine.
In my efforts to discover the mysteries of porcelain, I was, yet again, set back. Our local shop was all out of it! Can you believe my luck? I've attempted to try this clay out for years - since high school, but was always intimidated away. Anyway, I bought white stoneware, so I could make something until I got the real stuff. These little faces have holes on the sides so they can be attached to doll bodies. They are about an 1 1/2" across and will shrink a little more after firing. I can't wait to paint them. *I recieved a package from Melanie today! It contained underglazes and porcelain! Yay! Thwarted no more!

This is my new 'necklace of power' as I like to call them. Basically, its a piece made with my favorite beads, chosen very carefully. This one was inspired by the treasures of earth and sky, carved birds and suns, opalized ammonites and star sapphires. I made the chain from fine silver and carved the ruby, labradorite (next to the fossil) and the moldavite dangle with a lapidary grinder. The three silvery beads at the top are made by Basha (and available in my brother Andrew's store). The carved crow and two star sapphires are from Pat Jordan. The tiny rainbow sapphires dangling on the chain and the tourmaline points are from Beads Forever. I'm pretty happy with how this necklace is coming along, although its not quite done, as I like to keep adding or changing it, to get it just right.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

spring break

Hi! We just returned home from Cincinnatti, where we decided to spend Azalea's spring break. The picture above (with Max in the stroller, Greg and his mom Ann and Azalea) was taken at the Newport Aquarium in a giant tube, with sharks and grouper. I love aquariums and could spend all day surrounded by the peaceful blue light and the graceful undulations of the sea creatures.

My girl was facinated by this primitive catfish. She seemed most interested in either the miniscule (like baby jellyfish smaller than a dime) or the enormous (like the ancient alligator snapping turtle with a head the size of a basketball).

Lately, she's very interested in looking very lady like. She carried that sequined bag everywhere, of course it did contain her necessary equipment: a 20 color hello kitty pen, blank index cards and stickers.

I love this picture! That girl is not afraid to get dirty.

This is funny, just moments before she was preparing to pitch a fit, then I told her if she made a nice face I'd give her some chocolate. As you can see, she wanted that chocolate!

Here's Azalea taking a break from chasing her Uncle Mike (Greg's brother) who was also visiting Cin. from Memphis. While I was there, I researched porcelain on my new laptop, which was a nice way to relax and recover from a cold. Since I've been staring at those Enchanted Dolls so much, the idea of trying out porcelain hasn't left my head. Although I studied ceramics in art school, I never explored the intimidating medium. It was reserved for the serious potters and I was by no means one of those. My pots were heavy, thick and impossible to break, hallmarks of poor throwing skills. Now handbuilding I could do and that was all I did, which in retrospect, was a bad idea. So now I must teach myself how to mold doll parts, miniature sculptures and to paint and draw on pebble-like forms. I've asked the lovely Melanie Brooks from EarthenWoods for advice and she has been very helpful and generously informative. I think she should write a book, since there are so few just about porcelain. I'm imagining carved faces, with watercolor washes and delicately drawn details, unglazed and matte smooth, for sewing onto rag doll bodies. I'm excited and can't wait to begin.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

baby teeth

My girl lost her first tooth the other day! It's odd seeing her new gap tooth smile. I asked her if she wanted to leave the tooth for the Tooth Fairy, or give it to me, to put in my tooth box and she gave it to me. Of course, I offered a Zhu Zhu Pet. When she saw inside my box of collected teeth she picked out one of my enormous wisdom teeth (that had to be surgically removed it was so large) and asked if was real. She seemed deeply impressed that it was mine and real and promptly told my sister all about it.

Ok, Max does have more than this one orange sweater, but its for 'town' and he always seems to be smiling when he's in it, either because he knows were going out or the sweater, I don't know. He really likes getting out and seeing the world, look how happy he is. Anyway, he has two little white nubs protruding from his lower gums already! Can you believe it? Seems like I just birthed him.

I made this bracelet for my neighbor, who is really nice. She rescued me a couple weeks back when I locked my keys in the house when I was taking Azalea to school. I was certainly happy I didn't have to sit out on the porch long, it was such a cold day. I used peridot and green tourmaline on fine silver wire and one owl pendant from our line. I think that piece would look great in bronze.

We are gearing up for the Bead and Button Show, so that means its busy times for this crew. We have two new clasps in the works and my bird link will probably be finished by then. I'm also hoping to have more one of a kind pieces available, like my bezels. I'm saving for an Enchanted Doll, a doll of rare and unique beauty that I must have! I'm completely obsessed and have been squirrelling away my pennies so I can get one. Look at them, you'll see why I want one so bad.