Category Archives: bird

Buy Handmade for the Holidays

In trying to do my part to support artists during this holiday season, I placed my first order to Artful Home. I ordered a pair of handmade ceramic mugs. These are technically my father’s gift to me this Christmas, but I got to do my own shopping.

Aren’t they beautiful? The light clay base is covered in black slip, then hand-carved by the artist, Jennifer Falter. For bird lovers like myself, these should be perfect for that morning cup of tea or coffee.

I hope you also have searched out some special artwork to grace your gift giving this year. Merry Christmas to all!

Bird a Week #20 — Treetop Silver Cuff

While I’m touring around Eastern Europe, I’m not at home working, but I left one new treasure behind that fit the theme.

This cuff was finished the week before I left, at least to the point that I could get it amidst all the packing and last minute minutiae. Early on I planned to add a second layer, either carved and colored faux bone or polymer clay, or maybe even enameled copper. I thought the pop of color would be exciting and the second material would add some much needed strength to an inherently weak silver clay bracelet. Alas, any such treatment will have to wait.

Now it’s only a few more days untill I board the return flight. As much as I love traveling, I’m looking forward to being home with my own kitchen (not for long), my own bed and my own studio!

It Takes a Village to Raise an Artist

Remember last fall when I shared a sneak peak of my fiber birdhouse? The time for the final unveiling has come. I agreed to make a three dimensional quilted house to be part of the Artist Village Project organized by Kathy York. Kathy was inspired by the fabulous fiber houses painted and constructed by Judy Coates Perez. I’d also admired them and thought about making a house in my own style, so the challenge to do so as part of a group exhibition was too tempting to resist. I, of course, was deep into Bird Journal pages, so my house became a birdhouse version of a journal page.

The entire exhibit is shown here displayed around the village green, a large green quilt offered by Kathy York as the perfect backdrop to showcase the houses. Along with the revelation of the group display, today marks the beginning of a blog hop to see the details of construction for each of the projects (not all of the artists have blogs, however). Here is the list of participating artists with links and the day their own fiber house will be featured. Check back here for a step-by-step layout of the construction of my birdhouse on May 13.

Susan Else (website)                       May 2
Frances Holiday Alford                   May 3
Pamela Allen (website)                    May 4
Frieda Anderson                             May 5
Lisa Call                                         May 6
Jane Davila                                     May 9
Naomi Adams                                May 10
Jamie Fingal                                   May 11
Barb Forrister                                May 12
Vickie Hallmark                             May 13
Connie Hudson                              May 16
Leslie Jenison                                 May 17
Sherri McCauley                            May 18
Judy Coates Perez                         May 19
Melanie Testa                                May 20
Laura Wasilowski                          May 23
Kathy York                                   May 24

Glass Bird Vessels Revisited

In anticipation of attending the ISGB Gathering this summer in Louisville, I’m thinking about what I might offer for sale at my half-table during the Bead Bazaar to offset expenses. Last weekend when I was at the torch, I decided to see if I could construct a bird vessel, a task I haven’t attempted in probably two years.

I admit to cracking the top once and healing it, which was always a problem with these large pieces that take a lot of time. The hollow blowpipe sucks heat away from the glass, meaning a constant bathing of that area to keep from over cooling. My wings aren’t as well-defined as I would like, but I take the fact that I could get this close on the first try as a very good sign. I’m not clear about the reason for the devititrification on the body, but actually wondering if I added in some silver glass by mistake from the mess on my bench.

Now to try some electroforming again. It’s embarrassing to admit that my equipment is still packed and unused for almost a year.

Ring a Week 14/52 — Glass Bird Rings

And now for a little diversion. My DH and DS went to an airshow over the weekend, leaving me home alone with my art supplies. I spent a lot of time on the torch, since I haven’t been out there much over the last year. I got to try out a lot of experiments from my idea stash. The foremost was to make a glass ring to keep up with the Ring a Week challenge.

Several weeks ago, I bought a large round mandrel that I thought would be big enough for a ring. My idea was to sculpt a bird ring, similar to the bird rings I carve out of bronze. Glass, of course, is a different beast. But this was the first experiment. The hardest part was to get the glass (semi)evenly deposited onto the mandrel in a ring. I decided I needed to work right at the end of the mandrel, where I had the edge to guide me, rather than in the middle of mandrel, where my wrap didn’t exactly meet up — that was a seriously jogged first ring! This first effort is rather simplistic, but it shows that I can make it work.

I ground out the inside of the ring to remove any sharp edges. It fits quite well on my size 8 forefinger. How sturdy it is? That is the question. I guess I need to wear it around some to see how it takes knocks. I made the bird fairly stocky to avoid weak glass points on the beak, wings and tail.

Since I only have the one mandrel this size, it’s a one ring at a time experiment. Next round, I’ll get a bit more elaborate.

Ring a Week 1/52

Speaking of being sucked into challenges! Last year I was insanely jealous of the treasures posted in the Ring a Day challenge, but knew for certain at the beginning of the year that 2010 was not a year that I could make such a commitment. So this year I was pleased to see a more moderate challenge, a ring per week. I decided to honor my desire from last year and take on another challenge. Normally, I’m not much of a challenge type. I prefer to do what I want to do, so the only way to suck me in is to make the challenge align with my own intrinsic direction.

I started off with a simple project, utilizing a piece that has been lying on my bench since August. There were some issues with the fine silver bezel that made it not work for mounting the enameled copper dome that was intended, so it was tabled. Polymer clay allowed me to cope with those issues, quickly finish the ring (a plus this busy first week), and still keep in step with my usual body of work.
To see the offerings of the 200+ members of the Ring a Week challenge, check out the Ring a Week Flickr account.

Flock Bead Experiments

Over the weekend I had time to experiment a bit with some new Flock beads. The question to be answered was one of glass colors. I’m enjoying a lot of the silver glasses, but can’t reliably get the colors I want from them. In particular, the fuming from those glasses often ruins base colors. I’ve found that the blues and greens behave most properly, while yellows and pinks turn muddy. This is as it should be, since yellows and pinks have sulfur in their composition, which reacts with silver to give a brown/black oxide. Of course, I could just abandon the silver glass completely, but there are certain features of it that I’m really attracted to.

In the photo, that lovely brown knob on the upper left started off ivory. I’m actually pretty happy with this color here, contrasting with the blues of the leaves. This one was envisioned as a pull for the ceiling fan in my studio.

I still can’t build the bead I see in my head, which is a take off on one of my journal pages. Can you  just imagine? My heart just wells up thinking about it.

Things I need:

  1. A way to control the background color and get the nice variations I like.
  2. A way to put in the background spiral. I tried this, but used something with too much contrast, so I need to go to something fainter.
  3. A way to put the text in. This is where the fine penwork with enamel comes in.
  4. A shape that speaks to me better; something a bit unusual. Maybe back to the clouds.

Birds on a Wire

I wish my home owner’s association didn’t ban hanging out laundry, so I could have a whole collection of these fabulous bird clothes pins for my lines. Maybe it’s better to have them holding up drawings on my shelves, though.

I brought home a set of ten bird clips from the Victoria and Albert Museum shop in London. You can order them here.

Another Glass and Silver Box

I didn’t post this one before I left for the PMC conference, because it was finished at the last minute. It’s the second version of my glass and silver box. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite place the inside rim of the lid properly, so it doesn’t fit perfectly. Now I need to make another box for this lid and another lid for this box.

I love all the original drawings on each side, and that there is a favorite quote hidden inside.

It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds. –Aesop

You can see the Master Muse synopsis of the tutorial for this box here.