Monday, December 16, 2013

Gaston Collective

Hey there! I have some interesting news! My good friend Jessica Gaston has just started a new endeavor called Gaston Collective, a jewelry design company featuring the work of American artists with the goal of making meaningful, symbolic pieces made in the U.S.  The exciting thing for me is that I'm one of the artists! It's a great opportunity for me to be a part of this design group, since it will generate income that will be used to upgrade our equipment here at GGS. Also, I get to make things with my buddies Kate Richbourg and the master of wax, Bob Burkett. I'm really proud of my friend Jess for putting forth so much effort to get this project underway. She's like a force of nature, her enthusiasm is so great. She started a fundraiser on Indiegogo to help buy equipment and more materials, here's the link to check it out:
The prizes that will be offered are pretty outstanding, plus it's a great opportunity to help a great group of artists reach their dreams!
Here's a painting of Kate's eye.
Some of the lovely charm bracelets we are offering (note the sweet bead caps - they are carved to look like the bases of flowers!).
Check out the website to see more:

Monday, December 09, 2013


Ok! Here's a progress shot of the painting, after working on it all weekend. I think another two days will be enough. Then it's pieces for Tucson! 

Friday, December 06, 2013

Typhoon offering

Hearing about the devastation in the Phillipines was terrible, especially since my moms family is there, trying to pick up the pieces. My mom ( and the rest of my family!) has coming up with ways to help. The picture above is a progress shot of a painting I'm going to make prints of to benefit my faraway family. It's pretty loose now, but it will be built up with layers of egg tempera and watercolor. I based the mermaids face on my mom, when she was a teen.
This was the first sketch, really quick, done in pen and watercolor washes. 
Here's one of my reference pictures - I think my mom wouldn't approve of this tousled look, but she never looks at my blog, so I'm safe! Anyway, I will be posting more pictures of the painting until it's finished. Hopefully it will be done by Monday!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Hello! Here's a progress picture of a little embroidery I've been working on. I carry this in my purse, or leave it on my desk, where I can pick it up and sew a few stitches here and there when I have a moment. I find it helps to stir up creativity when my hands are occupied. That old proverb my grandma used to say: 'Idle hands are the Devils playground' sort of stuck with me. I always have some kind of handwork: knitting ( which I am not very skilled!), twining miniature baskets, sewing tiny doll dresses, beading ( of course!) or just my sketchbook. Since my livelihood depends on creativity, the small practices that nourish inspiration are something I try to do every day. It staves off the dreaded ruts and staleness that can find an artist. 

So, this little piece of linen fabric and silk thread will eventually turn into a small pouch, for earphones, or prized beads. I like the idea of objects made by hand, they seem to have a magical quality that machine made things lack. 

Friday, November 01, 2013

Magical moments in SF and Montara

There's nothing quite like enjoying a feast with friends at SF's famous Zuni's. Pictured above from the left: Saara, Kate and Jess. 
Jess Gaston and Kate Richbourg giving inspiration for treasure lockets at a trunk show.
Odd metal goats grazing on a hillside.
Ken is an amazing chef at Zuni's and made a sumptuous meal of Porqueto (pork belly wrapped around a roulade of pork shoulder and orange and fennel).
A lovely dinner that Ken and Chris prepared (fresh black eyed peas, squash, white sweet potatoe, roast chicken and mustard greens). Southern cooking at its best! 
Katje and Chris preparing fresh oysters while I enjoyed spicy clams and white wine.
Beautiful lichen and moss growing high in the mountains. The hike up was steep and covered in mist, probably the reason the trees were so covered in lichen they looked furry.
Gooseneck barnacles and tiny shells. Don't they look as though they could start chattering and squaking? 
Huge sea anenome on the beach. I'm totally enamoured with tidepools and could look at them all day.
More tidepool finds, this time with seaweed and starfish.
Kate knitting by the fire at Montara House. Part of the charm of staying at this seaside house is sitting by the fire, listening to the ocean, chatting and sipping nice wine. 
A view of Montara House from the sea side.
The docks at Montara is the best place to find delicious fish. Unless you get there late and it's all gone.
An opalescent hermit crab nestled between rocks.

I really love visiting my friends on the West Coast, especially our time at Montara House. It's a wonderful house party of creative folks enjoying good food, tasty cocktails and lively conversation. So many good ideas and artistic revelations happen, it's a place full of bright energy. Also, I think the slow pace is a perfect setting for painting, knitting, sketching and jewelry making. We enjoyed many evenings wax working with Bob Burkett, who joined us for a few days of intense technique building. It's simultaneously exploding with creativity and calm relaxation.

When I leave, I feel like some of the magic of those golden afternoons follow me.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

You make jewelry?

Yes! I still do! I also really love it too, after all this time. I was looking at my dragons horde of beads and organizing it, which I had been putting off for ages, when I found myself making a little pile of beads. The resulting necklace features beads from ( going top clockwise) Bobby Rhodes, Joanne Zekowski, 8 boro rondelles from various artists, pewter that we make, the brown an ivory bead is from Joanne,the real and ivory from Patti Cahill, the gorgeous rondelle in ivory with dots is from Wendy Bergamin out of Australia. The blue spotted big bead is from Calvin (Rene Yoshidas husband, can't find his last name). The last amber bead is from Joanne. I love this collection and have been wearing it everyday. I think I'll make another one in pinks.
I painted the insides of these lockets with acrylics and matte medium. I was going for a magical feel, like if you opened it, you would find yourself in another world. I might make some paper dolls to put on string for some movement. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

More fun!

One of the things I've always loved is fiber arts. I felt, sew, knit and weave baskets. So, I thought it would be nice to make some pretty accoutrements for my hobby. Pictured above is an owl thimble that is close to finished. 
I love buttons and have been making them for years, but since I've really gotten into sewing clothes, I'm making more practical type pieces good for shirts and jackets.
This is the top of a linen wrap dress I embroidered. I've found it really relaxing working on a piece of embroidery and hope to someday be as skilled as my mom and grandma. My buddy Jessica Wiesel has been instrumental in my newfound love of sewing. She's an excellent teacher ( I keep telling her she should do workshops ).
Here's another top I made, with a little stitch work at the shoulder. I am dying to make more, but I'm using it as a reward for finishing my work. When one is self employed, it is a lot easier to procrastinate and do the fun stuff first. I've had to learn a lot of discipline over the years! Anyway, we are pursuing fiber arts and will be attending a  Bead Fest Stitch Craft Create Show in Charlotte, NC
October 24-26 at the convention center. Come say 'hi' to Jess and check out our new buttons, thimbles and footed pin cushions!

Where have you been?

Traveling with the Doctor! Ok, really this is a nice prop from the Asheville Comic Con. We were surprised at the turnout and are thinking about vending next year with finished jewelry.
Isn't Greg the best Jen from the Dark Crystal you've ever seen? Jessica Wiesel made the outfit, which is a work in progress. He collects new things, like the crystal and makes other items like the double flute, which actually plays. I can't decide what kind of outfit I should make for myself, maybe something steampunk, or from Game of Thrones. Or Doctor Who.
Greg won 3rd place in the costume contest! The prize was a gift certificate to the local comic shop ( I think he bought the kids some Adventure Time stuff).
The last year or so I've been really into aquariums and have slowly filled every flat surface with a tank. I have six tanks at the moment. I'm obsessed. My favorite fish are Ranchu goldfish, they are nice and plump and lack a dorsal fin, which gives them a cute whale or manatee look. The one above is called a Kirin, due to his speckled black and gold coloring. We just got him and he is just recovering from being sick. Greg named him Hiro, after the character from the show Heroes.
Here are a couple of baby ranchus with my big boy from Hawaii. 
Azalea is particularly fond of Hiro, since he always swims toward her when she approaches and watches her intently. It's cute. I think I should make more ranchu themed items. I made a pendant, maybe a button or a paper doll next. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Warm days

So happy together!
This girl wanted this pufferfish so much. Now I have to figure out how to make a stuffed version.
Loved these plants! Anyone know what they are?
Sunset on the way to Cincinnati. 
Super cute penguins at the zoo.
Little boy standing over huge fish.
Worn out after lots of walking.
I love Azaleas little giraffe headband.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Woodland creature

Hey there! Check out this little felted creature I made! I used some really lovely hand dyed wool my friend Kate Richbourg gave to me. I sculpted her face from polymer clay, then cast it and made resin copies to paint. The process is pretty fun. I haven't decided what to do  next with her, maybe add hooves, or beading. 

Working with fiber has taken my full attention lately. I just can't get enough! I've sewn several garments, woven a couple more teeny linen twine baskets and collected alpaca wool to make doll wigs. I think I'm going to do some embroidery now.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Enchanted Adornments Giveaway!

Hey there. Our good friends over at Fusion Beads is having a cool sweepstakes where you can win 400 bucks worth of mixed media supplies, plus a signed copy of my book! How nice is that? Here's the link:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Stamp carving process

Over the years I've been asked how I make the stamps or molds I use for my coin pendants and thought it might be nice to see my process. This is the overview version, since I'm pretty absorbed in making things for the Bead and Button Show, but it should give a good idea. 
The first thing I always start with is sketches. Sometimes I'll draw an idea over and over for years before it will look just right and I'm ready to carve it. Other times I will know exactly how I want the piece to look and all I will draw is a quick thumbnail.
 The next step is to form a lump of clay (any clay that hardens will do - in this picture I am using polymer) into the shape of the stamp. The dark purple disc is a glass sun catcher, but I often use small glazed tiles as surfaces to work on. Then I draw the design onto the clay backwards. I can do this now without tracing my design with pencil and pressing the clay onto the paper to get a reverse image, since I've done so many.
Then, I slowly begin scraping away the design. This part is tricky. The rule is, the deeper the marks, the more they will stick out in the design, so really faint, shallow marks will look far away. The first designs I made were flowers, almost like lace and they translated well in this format. The hardest things to make are faces. I avoid these as much as possible, but I like to carve mermaids, so I know there will be a lot of filling in and recarving. 
When I've finished carving, I harden the clay (curing polymer in the oven, firing stoneware in the kiln or air drying - depending on the clay) and then I get to the fun part - testing the design! I use water as a resist for polymer and olive oil for other clays, then press in clay to see my work. Sometimes it's a lovely surprise, other times, its a deep sigh, knowing it will have to be made over, with modifications. This piece is good and I'm pleased with the depth and little details. From this point, production begins and either soft wax or metal clay can be used to press into the stamp. I use both materials, depending on what metal I want to end up with. I used to use just metal clays, until the price of silver clay tripled, making it too expensive for production. 
This type of mold wears out eventually, so one can only pull a finite amount of copies. I have mixed feelings about this aspect. It's sort of precious, only getting so many copies, but since the mold is the master, its also a little distressing. I'm very much like a dragon and like to have lots of piece, in case I might run out. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Out West

When I return from being away for awhile, I feel like home looks a little different. I realize it is my perspective that has altered - but its those minute differences that make going away so interesting. I spent last week out west, enjoying San Francisco and Montara. It was wonderful spending time with good friends, eating all kinds of delicious food and looking at lots of beautiful art. Really, its such lovely experiences that make life feel so amazing.