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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed...

I have tried and tried again, believe me.  I have five sets of photos for my challenge entry this month, and I think, I sincerely HOPE, I finally have the thing right.

I started my leaf just after the challenge was announced. I got it half finished, and set it aside for a while. I finally got back to it last weekend, and when it was finished I was really pleased with the result. BUT, what was it?

A brooch?

A pendant necklace? 

I tried several things, and liked some coral I had. But the bead caps weren't quite the right thing, plus the configuration was too formal for the organic leaf form.

Sunday I went the the Minneapolis Gem and Lapidary Workers Show, with the leaf in hand.  I found some more coral, and a new vendor for me,  had some splendid findings I fell for instantly.  They are naturally oxidized and fire torched copper!  I think the colors are spectaular.  I even did a little work with my pliers to make the bead caps fit my coral.  And somehow, the mismatched nature of these findings suggested an assymetrical treatment for the stringing, just the organic feeling I needed!

I finally got it strung and adjusted my listing, and then spent today looking at the piece and deciding I had the leaf upside down.  DUH. 

It should have been a clue to me that all the photos I liked displayed the leaf point down, but I had strung it point up on the necklace. 

In any case, I am FINALLY through editing and re-stringing... although, I am just not sure about those earrings...  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Daywear Pendants

I have had several nice jasper cabochons for a while, and in preparation for a holiday show jury I have finished three of them and have two others begun.  The jury closes Friday, so we'll see how many more I finish between now and then.  The first is a Rocky Butte Jasper round, which suggests a lovely little landscape, looking a bit Asian to me.   It has a delicate cluster of three bugle bead dangles, and an equally delicate bugle bead neckstrap and earrings.

The second is a long and beautiful teardrop shape.  I don't know the name of this particular Jasper,  I do love the teal in it, and that prompted me to string it with one of my favorite new Jaspers, Aqua Terra.  I used rondelles in the neckstrap and some nice drilled rectangles in the larger pair of earrings.  The browns and bronzy golds call to mind piles of fall leaves.

The third in the series is this Ocean Picture Jasper oval.  I love the multitude of golds and the wonderful spotted texture.  It reminds me of a Gustav Klimt painting.  All three feature lots of 24k gold delicas and seeds and seem elegant and subdued to me, although my treatment of this oval is a little sparkly, thanks to some Chinese crystal in the neck strap.  I've been making them all long, so they can be easily shortened to preferred lengths for buyers.

Thanks for taking a peek!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Don't Count Your Chickens...

Image from the Cafesjian Carousel, St. Paul, Minnesota
Sometimes, things happen that are almost too wonderful to be believed.  I have decided to take a "wait and see" approach on this one, but I am hoping that I will not have to pinch myself, and wake up shivering.

Last Wednesday morning, I got a phone call from a man who introduced himself as an "agent."  I was immediately suspicious, because on Etsy, that usually indicates a scammer.  Fortunately, I listened to what the guy had to say.  He represented a gentleman who wanted to buy my "January Dawn" necklace from the recent State Fair exhibit, and asked if it was for sale.  I had not planned to sell it immediately, but thought I would do so eventually.  He mentioned his buyer had galleries worldwide, and that the piece would be shown in them as part of the man's collection.  I said I would consider selling the piece, but that it would cost at least $1000, and asked whether this would be off-putting to the buyer.  The agent said the price would not be a problem and that he would be in touch with me.  I thought, "we'll see about that," but I did begin to think about a price. 
Although I had not kept track as I went along as I usually do, I had timed certain operations, and felt I could reasonably extrapolate time and materials, which is how I price my work.  I think many beadweavers just guess what they think a buyer might pay, but having made custom costumes for a living for 25 years, I take a more practical approach.  I decided 60-70 hours was the right time range, and that over $150 worth of materials were involved.  I got out my calculator and created a price, but I was not holding my breath.

That afternoon, about 30 minutes before the dentist appointment where work would begin on the new crown, (partially paid for my my state fair winnings) the agent called again, and this time he wanted me to talk to the buyer, "Gerry."  I think the agent had mentioned the buyers last name, but I did not remember it, so I asked. Being a kind gentleman, the buyer spelled his name, very slowly and carefully, GERARD CAFESJIAN.  The name rang a bell, but nothing specific popped into my head.  I talked with him and discovered he did indeed own a breathtaking, state-of-the-art gallery, Cafesjian Center for the Arts, in Armenia.  He is additionally responsible for the Gerard L. Cafesjina Pavilion at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.  He also has another museum project in progress, the Armenian Genocide Museum of America  in Washington DC. 

He said he had seen "January Dawn" at the Minnesota State Fair, and had to own it for his collection, which contains glass by some of the foremost artists in the world. This was a puzzle for me. I could not imagine a world class art collector snacking on a corn dog and wandering into the Fine Arts building, but there is a connection (the bell that rang in my head) that explains how he came to be there. Mr. Carfesjian is an entrepreneur and philanthropist, and one of his first projects was the restoration and preservation of the historic carousel  from the fairgrounds in St. Paul, which now bears his name.

By this point, I was feeling overwhelmed and rather speechless, but I tried to keep up with the conversation.  He was pleased to find I did not make copies of my work, disappointed that I was not a full-time artist, and sad that many of the things he had seen in the gallery on my humble blog were already in other collections.  He liked the "Daisy Buchanan : Innocence in Decay" work in the ISGB show, which he also expressed interest in purchasing.

I went off to the dentist in a state of dumb-struck awe, and it did occur to me that perhaps the rest of the crown would now be paid for.  I am carefully not counting any chickens yet.  "January Dawn" has moved to another exhibit at the Textile Center of Minnesota Library, and can't be released until November.  But it was a most amazing day for me, and I am still a bit speechless.  The world is a huge and dazzling carousel, and one never knows who or what will be on the next pony that comes around.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I cannot remember an Etsy Beadweavers Challenge with so much participation, and particularly with so many elaborate and beautiful entries.  "Bollywood"  seems to have been a very inspirational theme.  Please visit our team blog, enjoy the wonderful beadwork, and vote for your favorite entry between the 9th and 15th of Spetember.  This is my entry, #7, and I have made a pair of earrings to go with it as well.  Take a peek!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Meet Gina Mars

I recently sold a necklace to a buyer whose name seemed familiar to me.  I googled her, and discovered to my delight that Gina Mars is a ceramic artist who specializes in gorgeous raku!    I asked if she would allow me to feature her in my blog and she kindly agreed, and told me her Raku work will be featured in the new book 500 Raku Pieces, scheduled for publication in January of 2011.  This really thrilled me, because three years ago, I got the Lark book, 500 Beaded Objects as a birthday gift, and it was what inspired me to start beading.  That provided a logical first question.

How did you begin making ceramic art?
I became a ceramic artist in college while studying to be a history teacher. I had to take an elective and decided ceramics could be fun and easy. My professor thought I was very good on the potter’s wheel and offered me a full scholarship for undergraduate and graduate work in teaching and ceramics. Because I came from a poor family, I could not afford any more schooling anyway, and the scholarship was a blessing. After finishing college, I continued to teach at the college level and at the high school level until I decided to have a family. A few years later, I opened Mars Pottery and have been in business for 24 years. All my work is created in my Huntington Station, NY studio that is fully equipped with everything I need.

What drew you to raku?
I enjoy raku because of the brilliant colors and quick firing technique. You can fire a raku kiln in 20 minutes, as opposed to 12 hours for a regular kiln. Each raku piece is glazed and then placed in a raku kiln. It heats up to 2000 degrees and then you go into the kiln with gloves and remove the piece. It is then placed into a pit with combustibles such as straw to create a fire. Then the pit is covered with a can to smother the piece. The pit can no longer get oxygen so the glaze interacts with the smoke and creates the colors. Then the piece is taken out and sprayed with water.

What inspires your work?
My latest inspiration comes from middle eastern architecture. The pieces have minaret like tops on them and some are covered in gold or copper leaf. I also enjoy adding sculptural elements to my work.

Do you participate in any ceramics or raku-specific organizations?
Once a year I attend the NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) which is a major conference for ceramic artists all over the world. In 2011, it will be in Florida.

How and where do you market your work?
I conduct over 50 workshops all over the world each year and sell my work through my web site, galleries, and shows in the New York area. My work can be found as far away as New Zealand.

Have you ever seen a raku bead or cabochon?  I imagine such things could not be thrown, but would you ever consider giving that a try?
Of course I can make a raku bead. It's easy, maybe you have me thinking now!

That thought has me practically drooling!  Gina purchased the necklace below, and I think it fits nicely into her artistic aesthetic with both the color-shifting Aurora Borealis finish of the focal druzy, and contrasting rough and smooth textures.  I am so pleased she visited my shop and provided me with the opportunity to learn more about her breathtakingly beautiful raku, and to feature her work here in my blog.