Monday, November 12, 2007

Building a better Mousetrap

Okay, maybe I'm not building a mousetrap, but I have been building. After having reserved my domain name over a year ago, I decided it was time to actually do something more than have a page that said "Under Construction". Last week I decided to move my domain to a new server and have been actively working on building my website. I'm feeling pretty happy with the overall design that I have set up so now it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty and add actual content. Since I am a novice website designer, I welcome all comments and critiques of my site. The site is If you get a chance to stop by, please let me know what you like, what you don't like and any other suggestions that you may have.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What do you do between answering the door on Halloween?

You make jewelry, of course! Okay, maybe not everyone does but that was what I did between doling out candy to the cute and creepy trick-or-treaters prowling my neighborhood. I have been wanting to improve my beading skill of making bead dangles and I decided it was the perfect activity for when you get interrupted alot. The result of my Halloween handiwork is this Cha-Cha bracelet.

I had posted this in my gallery at and I had a request for here they are (from a newbie beader). The items I used were the following:
  • Needle-nose plier
  • Round-nose plier
  • Wire cutter
  • 7.5 inch large link chain w/clasp
  • headpins
  • pre-mixed Czech glass beads (66 grams-but I have some left over)

Since I was using a pre-sized bracelet chain, all I did was make the indivdual dangles that are on the bracelet (which, if you remember, was why I decided to make this in the first place). Each dangle is between 1/2 inch and one inch long. Each link on the bracelet has two dangles attached to it. One is longer and one is shorter. Each dangle is made by threading the desired number of beads on a headpin and then the headpin is cut and the end shaped to form the loop that allows the dangle to be attached to the chain link. For my dangles, I simply started with a larger bead directly above the head and then added additional beads, alternating colors. The tricky part to the process is forming the loop. Here are a couple of links that show the process: Bead and Button magazine and I particularly like the example in the second link but since I didn't leave a neck on my headpin like they show in the example, I wanted to include both. The process is really the same. Here is another picture of my bracelet that shows it in more detail. Also, I made sure to add the two dangles that were on each link to the opposite sides of each link. I think that after making more than 50 dangles, I feel much more confident in my wireworking abilities. The unexpected benefit of this bracelet has been the soothing sound it makes. It has been compared to the sound of a rainstick.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Creative Process

I have been thinking a lot about this lately. Mostly because I have been reading "Fearless Creating" by Eric Maisel with a group of fabulous artists that I met through at the beginning of the year. We were all interested in working through "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron and started meeting twice a month to work through her book. We have since finished that book and decided upon the Eric Maisel book to continue our journey for a more creative life. Last Sunday we discussed the first chapter, which I had a really hard time reading and relating to my creativity issues. We are meeting again tomorrow to discuss chapter two, which deals with choosing a project. I don't know if I am just the odd-man out with this subject but I just don't seem to be finding the exercises meaningful. One of the big topics in the second chapter is not discounting the difficult project ideas. Maybe it is the type of art that I do, but I never eliminate any of my ideas. Sinced I have been working on more assemblage and found art pieces, I tend to "see" the start of a piece when I find an object. It may take months before I find the right combination to actually begin a piece. But other times I can see something and know immediately where to start. I may not know much more than the start but the first step has such a strong pull that I "know" it is it right. The perfect example is a piece that I finished about two weeks ago.

This shrine began life as a capiz shell bowl I bought on clearance at Target. I actually bought three of them because I thought they would make lovely candle holders on some black bookshelves I have in my living room. It wasn't until I got them home and was removing the labels that I found that one of the labels was actually embedded in the finish of the bowl. I decided it wasn't worth the $1 or less per bowl to return them to Target but I just shoved them in a drawer and forgot about them. That is until about a month ago when I came across them and immediately had a vision of cutting the part of the bowl with the label off and using the remaining part of the bowl for a shrine. I'm sure part of my "vision" came from my recent acquisition of a Dremel tool and my discovery of all the wonderful things it can do. But anyway, the point of my story is that even when I first started this project, I had little more envisioned than a piece of a bowl on its side. The rest of the piece grew as I worked. So I don't think I ever "give up" on a project. I just haven't found the right starting inspiration. I truly hope that my enthusiasm picks of for the book. I am to be the discussion leader for chapter three, "Belligerent Commitment: Starting Your Work", which I chose because it seemed to encompass my feelings for the book at the time.