November 09, 2010

One Night Stand

Last weekend I was invited to sell my jewelry at the Oakland Art Murmur with 16 other artists. For weeks I had agonized over making jewelry to sell. It doesn't usually work this way for me. The act of making jewelry for sale is stressful to say the least.

In the background I hear the ca-ching of of a cash register ringing as I add this little 30 cent ring here, make some ball-end headpins for dangle, 3 feet of chain at $6.45 a foot, oh my silver is at a 30 year high, let's spend 20 minutes on the bail top and another 30 minutes adding patina and then polishing it off.
I'm impressed with those who do this for a living. Ok, nightmare jewelry making fears set aside, it was time to come up with some new designs and not keep making the same 'ole stuff. So I set aside some time and started playing back and forth with finishing things I had already begun and trying to make something new.

Then two days before the show it hit me. Bird's nests. To be exact it was crochet wire bird's nests. Oh my, these little guys are so lovely and sweet. I made about a dozen in no time and was so proud that for once I made something that worked up fast and easy.  Later that night I bit my tongue, as my wrist ached from working the wire into that cute little shape. So now I hear the ca-ching once again as I add the repetitive motion injury surcharge. Oh well, I never expected to pay the mortgage with birds nests anyhow.

Oh yeah, I should mention, I sold one $45 necklace at the event but I did get to talk to several other wireworkers throughout the night.

And now for a little audience participation. What steps do you take protect yourself from injury while making jewelry? Please Comment.

October 12, 2010

Time Flies When We Aren't Even Looking

Oh my, it's October! Suddenly when the months turn to double digits it feels like the end. I have the desire to drink warm cider and curl on the couch with a blanket but it's 90 degrees today.

The biggest question is what is happening in the studio. I admit, besides a few bead shows I took much of the summer to leisure about.

My niece visited and we signed her up for a arc welding class at The Crucible in Oakland. They have a sweet setup there. She made a sculpture of Wall-E for the yard as a thank you. Then she recommended that I take a tig welding class as that's more my style. I took her advice and signed up. Man, I sucked. I made a flower for the yard and it took a lot of the instructor's help to get that far. Guess I'm not as refined a welder as I had hoped.

I have been working though, little by little on my jewelry. Two of my newest classes include Fused Ball Link Chain (who doesn't love melting wire into balls) & Crochet Wire Rosettes. Both of these classes will be offered at my local store and Bead & Button in the summer of 2011. Yep, we are already working on 2011.

April 12, 2010

Bead & Button: Memory Lane

Yep, it is right around the corner!! The Bead & Button show is much like attending the Super Bowl of bead shows. With nearly 650 classes to chose from you can't go wrong. Of those 650 classes I will be teaching a mere 11 of them. It is akin to a marathon of creativity and jewelry making!

When this show first began it went under the name Embellishment and was first located in Texas. In those days I was a budding obsessive beader who dreamed that one day I would be able to attend. The chance came when the show changed its location to Sacramento, CA for one year.

The day before the big show I went on a date. We ended up going to a nude beach (I was 20 something and a bit firmer) in Marin County. Lesson learned: wear waterproof sun block at nude beaches when swimming. Needless to say, I burned my top half to a light shade of purple. But there was no way I would miss that show! The temperature in Sacramento during that weekend was a paltry 108F. I didn't know if the stars before my eyes were of excitement or heat stroke.

I haven't missed a show since. These days the show is located in Milwaukee, WI. I am looking forward to this years show, busily making mental notes of what to bring and jewelry to wear.

I'd love to hear from the other side of the monitor. What are your favorite shows and why?

April 05, 2010

Alverda's Collar

This is a story of finishing something I began before I knew what I was starting.

I admit there is quite a lot of laziness to my work. More often than not, the goal of my work is to complete enough structure that the piece can be worn and pose as jewelry. For those of you who are familiar with the blog you have heard this story before and finally it is coming to a close. Or so I believe at this moment.

The crocheting began with my grandmother Alverda Moore's death in September 2009. Funny how we take something so crushing and remake it into something of a dream that glistens in the light. I think she would be very proud of this piece.
After returning home from her funeral I found regret was deep inside me, as I am sure it is with all of us after losing someone we love. Why didn't I call more, why didn't I take more time to sit with her, why didn't I pay more attention. Why do I still resent her attempts to make me a calm girl who can cook, sew and serve her family well.

A bit obsessively, I began crocheting wire with her crochet hooks.
At first I did not intend to incorporate beads into this project. But as time passed, I noticed I was losing my focus and lifting many of the rosettes to complete other projects on the side. I began using beads as a means of claiming certain pieces to my grandmother project. Solidifying them in stone so to speak.

After completing the rosettes I decided to patina the metal. This was a hard call, as polishing crocheted wire with beads is no easy task. But life tarnishes use all in the end to some degree so why not embrace what we know will come with or without us.

Over the course of creating this piece the layout changed about many, many times. My first intention was to keep it small but impressive all the same. Deciding when we are finished is one of the hardest choices we make. Letting this project come to a close is the end of a chapter I have spent nearly six months on. During the entire process I have felt that I was serving the memory of my grandmother, but what does it mean now that I have finished?

I love you Grandmother and I will think of you often and fondly. Maybe some day I will learn to sew.

March 23, 2010

Bead Fest Santa Fe Travel Notes

Leaving Oakland I was disappointed that I would miss a weekend that boasted 80 degree weather. No worries, I’m heading to New Mexico! All was well until the drive from the Albuquerque airport to Santa Fe. About 1/2 hour from the Bead Fest location it started to snow. No big deal, just a dusting? My Converse shoes and me beg to differ as over 6” accumulated by Saturday morning. I complained but I do like inclement weather patterns.

The classes were held at Ghost Ranch, several blocks from the main scene. At first I was disappointed by the off-site location. Then I beheld the large classroom with elbowroom and ample lighting. Hot coffee and tea awaited on the second day. The students were great and so many pieces were made that I didn’t get a chance to take pictures.

Of special note: Fusing fine silver wire is a bit different at 7000 feet above sea level. I had no idea; it was a humbling demonstration of my master techniques.

This year I decided Santa Fe was worth an extra day. On the way out of town we headed to Taos came upon a fantasy garden. There are some crazy things in the desert. I wanted to bring them all home with me but I was limited to my bead filled 49.9lb suitcases. So photos will have to remind me.
I imagine a garden of forever blooming flowers and cacti. The bright colors against the rusted metal is captivating.

I brought home a few Mexican tiles to put along my fence in the back yard and some terra cotta for the lobelia. Coming home, I rested my weary traveling mind (read as grumpy, drinking a pint)out back on the patio. I love this space. Each day when I enter my studio I feel transported into a secret garden, observing new life by the day. I feel the need to log each bloom.

March 08, 2010

Bead Fest Santa Fe

Join the fun at Bead Fest Santa Fe March 18-21. Not only is this a great show with wonderful classes and loads of beads, Santa Fe is a bit of an art mecca. I must admit I tend to mix this trip with a bit of personal exploration.
There is still room in some of the classes for last minute bead trip takers.

January 08, 2010

Textile Techniques in Wire Retreat

I am excited to announce my new wire retreat which will be located in Kelseyville, CA at Perlz Beads & Yarn! This is a three day workshop that explores the possibilities of creating jewelry with knitting, crochet & weaving techniques using a medium that transforms the techniques into the sculptural.

February 26th, 27th, & 28th

Cost: $295.00

"Join guest artist, Lisa Claxton, for three days of knitting, crocheting and weaving wire with beads into incredibly beautiful jewelry. This retreat combines 5 of Lisa’s best classes - including a brand new project - Spool Knitted Bracelet, Viking Knit Chain, Woven Wire Cuff, Simple Wire Crochet Bracelet and Crochet Medallion Bracelet.

Since the beginning of civilization, textiles have been a fundamental part of human life and culture. Over time, the methods and materials used to produce textile works have expanded immensely but the basic function of textiles has remained the same.

Day 1: Weaving
We will begin our exploration of textile techniques with wire by creating a woven wire cuff. Students will learn technical aspects of structure building, coiling, weaving with wire and incorporating beads into the design.

Day 2: Knitting
Traditional knitting techniques with needles do not always translate into wirework. For this reason a combination of techniques are used to reproduce a knitted pattern including spool knitting and hand knitting. Students will experience both techniques by first learning the function of a knitting spool and how to make a bead-laden bracelet with wire. Then we will take it one step further by learning how to hand knit the wire around a wooden dowel to create a tightly woven chain. Techniques include: knitting the wire, drawing down the chains both by hand and with the aid of a drawplate, and finishing techniques.

Day 3: Crocheting
Fine, annealed wire can be used in almost every crochet application so long as steps are taken by the craftsperson to properly care for the wire while crocheting and mimic the looping technique of yarn. Students will be introduced to crocheting with wire by making a multi-strand bracelet that incorporates chain stitching with beads. This technique is then built upon by learning how to crochet in the round using both single and double crochet. Finishing techniques and consistency in tension are explained in detail.

Additional materials required.

Three Day Retreat

Kit Fee: $28

If you are interested in signing up for this retreat, contact Perlz Beads & Yarn for more information.

Kelseyville, CA is located in a sleepy part of Northern California that will make you question whether small town livin' is right for you. With little to distract us from the task at hand our work over the three day period is sure to inspire obsession. Plus a nearby attraction is Clear Lake, which it turns out is not clear at all!!

January 04, 2010

Someone Put Up a Brag Pole

It's another first peek at something good inside. Lisa Niven Kelly's new book, Stamped Metal Jewelry is about to be published. There was a little dance around the house in slippers and a robe while drinking coffee right after spotting my contribution in the upper left hand corner of the cover.
Thinking back to the time I made the earrings, I was very nervous about getting it perfect as possible as LNK is the Stamping Queen. I must have made about 5 or 6 before all the stamps came out even.
Ah, but look even the title of the book is stamped, nice touch.