Tuesday, May 31, 2011

winged things

This is a new version of the bird clasp that we carried for years. The original was misplaced (an unfortunate occurance that happens sometimes) and the mold broke, so I decided to redo the whole thing, rather than cast from one that had been polished. Casting from a second generation piece results in a smaller, less detailed finished item, since the wax shrinks slightly. I like this one better, it has a more refined shape and the loop has more detailing. I've also improved the fit, carving the loop a touch smaller, so the bird has to be jiggled a little to remove it.

This is another piece I retooled. I love this little bird girl, but her mold broke several years ago and we never got around to fixing her, so the design was shelved. Greg found her languishing in a box and asked me to fix her up, so I detailed her wings, changing the shape and also carved her little feet so that they have holes - perfect for gripping bits of chain or briolettes. These two will also debut at the show, so stop by and check them out!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

butterfly key

This is a silver master of one of our newest pieces. It will be slightly smaller (since the molding process shrinks the final piece about 5%) and cast in pewter. We will cast a few in bronze for the show and a couple for my personal collection. One of the best things about this key is that there is a hole drilled through the bottom part, to hang crystals, or to use as a link.

Here's a shot of the other side. I'm looking forward to stringing up a bracelet with this! Or a necklace featuring a collection that includes Andrew's skull key and a skeleton key from our line. I love the look of antique keys, there's something about the shape that's bone-like and botanical all at once. The mystery of keys is universal, it sparks curiosity as one always wonders what the key unlocks. I think this one opens a tiny red door, a meadow of blue poppies and black butterflies just beyond the threshold.

Friday, May 20, 2011

calm afternoons

Max is so handsome with his new haircut! I think he looks a lot younger and sweeter, probably because more of his plump face is showing. He's peeking through a playhouse window, where he and his big sister were playing Dr. Who (Azalea is always The Dr., I'm always a monster and Max is the alien baby who needs to be rescued).

Here's my girl, caught up in her game with Max. I love watching my babies play. I remember the excitement and sense of adventure a few hours in the backyard could yield. We lived on a sizeable piece of property growing up, some of it wild and overgrown, with huge trees to climb and a tangerine grove to hide in. That was the perfect hideout since it was cool under the shade
of the twisty limbs and the tangerines were sweet and tart and peeled easier than bananas.

This is a drawing Azalea made of our day at Disney, showing everyone that was there that day

(from left: Azalea, my brother Andrew,my sister Sheila, her boyfriend Steve and myself and Max). Don't you just love the bun on my head, the pink shoes and the little detail that she drew me taller than my sis (since Sheila is just a hair taller!). My girl is so talented. I save her drawings and plan on making a book of them one day, starting from her earliest doodles to her more polished pieces.


Thanks for all the suggestions! I think I'll make it a surprise to see what I chose to carve on the back. I'll show the results before we cast it. And now for the winner! The name that came out of the hat was #4 Rebecca! So, shoot me an email with your address and I'll send you your prize! Get ready for the next giveaway, which go up some time this weekend. Have a great weekend.

Monday, May 16, 2011

friday giveaway!

This is a new charm for the 'little blessings' line. Its carved from polymer clay and features a sweet image of a mother cuddling her baby. Its about the size of a dime and the thickness of one side of an Oreo. I have an idea of what I want to inscribe on the back, but I'm sort of waffling between a couple of things, unable to decide.
Which brings me to the next thing on my list, a giveaway for Friday! Leave a comment about what you would like to see on the back of the mama charm and I'll draw from the comments section. The winner will receive a pack of the beads shown above. They are from our latest batch of new pieces and they are some of my favorite! The small floral clasp is perfect for a bracelet or a delicate necklace of faceted stones and the coral branch link is great for an asymetrical summer piece. Ok! Let's hear those suggestions!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Evenings at our house are spent together, cooking dinner, playing rambunctiously, quizzing spelling words (my girl gets 100% every time!) and talking about the day.

I am addicted to ball jointed dolls. Maybe its the whole crafty part of painting their faces and making wigs, clothes and shoes that reels me in. Or maybe its creating the characters. Or choosing from hundreds of eyes. Whatever it is, Azalea shares my obsession and is always ready to participate in any dolly endeavor. Here's my girl posing with our latest doll, Buttercup (a Fairyland LittleFee creation). I love her and try really hard not to bring her everywhere, so Greg doesn't have to feel embarrassed that his wife is so weird. Poor Greg.

I do my best work in the evenings. I wish I could rise early with the dawn, listen to the birds awaken the world and begin work. But more likely than not I'm seeing dawn from the other direction, so to speak. Here's my latest piece, inspired by a motif on a piece of Liberty of London fabric, 'The Strawberry Theif" I think, maybe by William Morris. This is a pressing from a mold I just finished carving (its a quick smoosh of polymer in the mold, untouched and sloppy- but it shows the bird nicely). It will probably show up as a bronze clay piece, or maybe I'll clean it up and engrave a quote on the back and cast it in pewter. What do you think?

Monday, May 09, 2011

mother's day

Yesterday was Mother's Day, so we decided to load into the van and head over to Franklin, NC, where the gem show was held. I found my long time friend Jessica, from Jess Imports and we stood around catching up about the kids, my mom (and her love of Phillipine boxing star Manny Paquiao). We also planned some exciting pieces for her line (new bees!) to debut in a couple of months. Above is a vermeil ring featuring the Green Girl classic mermaid button, one of my Mother's Day gifts.
These sparklies are rose cut Champagne Quartz cabachons, destined for some limited edition pieces. I saw them at Sona's table and thought how great they would look on a ring, or even set onto a bit of enameling, to magnify and glitterize the color.

I found this unique amulet at a table selling pieces from various Boudouin tribes and couldn't resist shifting through the pile to find one with a.) a perfect stone with no cracks b.) really sharp carving. It's a quartz crystal sliced like a loaf of bread with an image of a gazelle or rabbit creature carved out. Looking at it put me in the mood to sit down at my lapidary grinder and have at it. I have some gorgeous rough stones that need attending to.

While at Sona's table, I found more stones to add to my hoard (from the top down): micro faceted sapphires, chrome dioxide teardrops, top drilled mini faceted black spinel, rainbow tunduru sapphire rondelles, rough cut diamonds, faceted pyrite rondelles and peach colored andalucite. Unfortunately, they don't have a website, so I have to wait till a gem show rolls around or call their offices in Morgantown, PA (610-856-7211) but their prices are great and I love the quality, so its worth it.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Sheila's store

Look at this lovely print I purchased from my sister Sheila! I think it would look great in my collection of drawings, paintings and prints I've gathered over the years. She just opened a storefront on etsy.com called sthorntonart and has some of her paintings and prints for sale. Many are paintings she made while traveling to far flung locales like India or Thailand, while others were created closer to home, in Venice Beach, FL. She has a beach painting I immediately recognized as her secret shark tooth gathering spot, a lovely, quiet patch of beach she took us to a few weeks ago. I like that aspect of her work, the element of intimacy and connection, of knowing these are pictures from an artists life, seen and captured.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

new stamps for Andrew

These are polymer test copies of the new stamps I carved for Andrew. Remember a few months ago I asked what folks thought I should make to help Andrew with his cancer bills? Well, a lot of folks mentioned making a painting, or a doll, which are good ideas, just a tiny bit too time consuming. Those things take ages to make, especially when my time is so limited, so he wouldn't see money for awhile. He thought the stamps would be a good idea since he could produce them himself. We talked about what designs to make and spent a pleasant afternoon sketching and drinking coffee. We agreed on these designs (although the serpent is a fun extra I knew he would like!) and I just finished carving them last night. I will carve more designs for GGS to debut at Bead and Button, but these little lovelies will only be available at Andrew's shop.


Ok! That was exciting! It also proved enlightening, as far as taste trends are concerned. There is definitely a strong pull towards detailed focals on simple settings. I wonder if this sway towards simplicity has to do with warmer weather? It's hard to say for me, since I love both ornate and simple jewelry year round. This little contest has inspired me to make some intricate pendants, ideal for threading onto some chain or ribbon.
And now the winners! The grand prize of a mechanical owl pendant goes to Patty of the Ornate Blue Bead! I think my brother Andrew was right, another prize should go to the runner up, Ann.
The drawing winner from the votes goes to #45 Heidi! To claim your prize, send me an email with your shipping address. All this month I'll be doing giveaways, so check back soon!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

which should I pick?

Hi! I meant to announce the winner, but I have to admit I'm torn. Which of these should win? Cast your vote in the comments section. The first is by Ann Cruzen:

"I mixed the colors using the closest shades I had on hand to your recipe and I liked how they turned out. To me they had a rich medieval tone ( my husband thought I had some berries on the baking tray!) .
So then my first thought was to use your "dragon bead" but the studded beads reminded me of the mechanical owl which I thought fitting to use an owl bead. My husband loaned me his wire cutters and I *may* owe him a sharpening as I think I nicked them cutting the nails for the studs! "

I'm drawn to the shape of the piece and the intricate wire work around the owl, which perfectly sets it off. The varied use of mixed color metals is an interesting design element, making it more wearable with either gold or silver. The studded beads are also very nicely shaped and luminous looking. Well done, Ann!

This entry is by Patty Gasparino:

"I hope it's not too late I was dying to do this! This is one of my favorite books!!!

I only had a few days so it's not as polished as I would like - I used your sweet bird toggle and simple chain.I will be blogging about this tomorrow. "

Fan Page:

I love the simplicity of design in this piece, which is a great counterpoint to such an intricate bead. The sweet robin's egg blue of the clay is one of my favorites, as it goes so well with silver. The use of the flowers along with the nail heads is really creative and looks fantastic! Great work, Patty!

OK, let's decide together! This was a fun project and i enjoyed seeing the entries. VOTE and one the votes will WIN A PRIZE! I'm feeling festive, gearing up for Bead and Button and nothing says 'festivity' like a giveaway.

Monday, May 02, 2011

weekend at the farm

We spent a lazy weekend at our friend Carter's family farm in Ridgeway, SC for a festive pig roast. The farm is over a hundred acres of forest and trails, perfect for wildflower gathering and the occasional ride in a four-wheeler. Azalea and I tried not to monopolize the hammock, but it was pretty comfortable.

Doesn't Max look like he's fishing on a raft? My little camera has a 'toy camera setting' that gives the edges a grainy look, like photos from the seventies. I like the look, it reminds me of pictures from my youth.

I spotted this brilliant flower growing in the deep shade of the forest and was surprised by the almost glowing yellow set against the browns of last year's leaves.

Our dog Suni came along for the fun and ran wild through the woods, coming back to sit with us under the shade between runs. It was particularly sweet to see how she stayed near Max when he napped under a tree, or when I would let him wander a bit, she was right by his side. Those two are already best friends. I think I may have to paint them together!


This picture was taken last week at the arboretum. We go there late in the day, when its quiet and most folks are leaving. Late afternoons are my magic hours, when my best ideas bubble to the surface. I'm always ready with a camera in one pocket, sketchbook in the other.

I love the shape and color of this plant. I can't remember the name, something with 'fire' in it and probably from Mexico, but I thought it would make a nice pendant.

I've been meaning to sculpt lily-of-the-valley and iris's for years....maybe this is an sign to stop thinking about it and do it.

I've made stamps of fiddle head ferns and columbines, but only for limited edition pieces, never full production. I keep seeing them everywhere, growing wild between rocks, along sidewalks and against old, dilapidated buildings. There's something a little sad about their drooping heads and impossibly thin stems, but in a sweet way, like they are determined to grow no matter what.

I like this picture of Andrew, doesn't he look like he's thinking of something poetic and heartbreaking? But knowing him, I'd say he's thinking more about what our next food adventure will be!

Azalea looked so small sitting in the center of all those pansy's. She's a good girl, sketching her favorite flowers and making up stories about them.

When our friend Kathy Van Kleeck comes over, its always a good time- she's fun and knowedgeable and time just flies past. I find that when she leaves, I can't wait to get into the studio to make things. Some artists have that effect on people, maybe its the excitement for the materials, or the willingness to share information. Above is a picture of delicate pinch pot she gave to me to put little treasures in. I love how every fingerprint and indentation is accented by a blue wash of color, giving it a luminous glow in sunlight. The lovely beads it holds are from the talented JoAnne Zekowski of "Z Designs in Glass" E-mail: rzekowski@mindspring.com.