Time just keeps marching along, doesn't it? Crazy how the older you get the shorter the days seem.
How long does it take a ding in a truck to rust through?
I've learned to compensate by staying up all night at least once a week. Seriously, I do and I get more done that way. The house is quiet and I can focus on what I'm doing. Like right now.
I'm keeping my self occupied and entertained. I'm learning as much as I can about the things that interest me. I've been thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas gifts and I try to make plenty of things that you can't find in a store. I revolted about the commercialism of these two holidays many years ago and I'm not turning back. If you know me, you know that I would rather make things than buy something from a store. I will buy things from artist friends and gift some of those things too but I only go to the "mall" if I was sent there for something in particular that could only be found there. I like Amazon. I don't like driving to 5 stores to try to find what I want. I like my free time too much.
I like to plan out what I'm going to do in my free time. I don't always follow the plan but when I do, I'm usually taking a class to learn something new to add to my skills.
I went to the Mendocino Art Center last month and took a great class called "Old World Hand Engraving and Toolmaking" from a man named Hratch Nargizian. He's a very accomplished engraver who teaches engraving at the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco.
OK, engraving is hard work, takes hours to do and has a long learning curve and you have to be patient because if you hurry you can make a mess of your metal and your hands.
Look at this small sampler made by the instructor:
It's incredible from my perspective as a beginning student. He had us start working on brass. Brass is pretty hard, harder than silver. Here's my first piece of metal, mangled by me . . . although it's not too bad.
The little rectangle I drew in red sharpie is where the instructor showed me how to do it the right way. Yep, it's going to take a while to get good at this.
However difficult it is, I kept my nose to the metal and worked on my pieces for three days. Here's another piece I worked on in copper:
and no, it's not any good but it IS practice. In this next photo are the last pieces I worked on, on the last day. We were learning how to engrave script. I do think I have a grip on it but it's still very messy. After lunch that same day the instructor says "Does anyone have silver?" So we got to take out a little silver and work on it.
It was very different from the brass and the copper and it worked like a dream. The graver tool cut thought the silver much more easily than the other two metals. I'm so relieved because I really would rather work in silver than in brass or copper. See, my last little flower on the silver turned out pretty well . . . for someone who is maybe . . . 12 hours in.
So now I must practice as much as I can. And I will but I need a break from that and so I went off on a polymer tangent as soon as I got home.
I took a look through a book called "Patterns In Polymer: Imprint and Accent Bead Techniques" by Julie Picarello. It's a very good book and I've been reading as I go along following her directions. It's mostly about the mokume gane technique of stacking layers of polymer colors together and then printing into it with little tools and then slicing through the blocks to see the inside.
Julie Picarello makes a lot of beads but I'm planning on making little bowls to hold jewelry . . . precious little dishes for holding your favorite pair of earrings or whatever. There are great projects in this book and I may get to them but for now I'm slicing a lot of polymer into pieces.
Here's another color scheme or two:
and yet another:
That was one of my all-nighters . . . I still have blocks to slice and then it will be time to assemble the little dishes. I have more ideas to implement with this technique. I think I have only scratched the surface. I hope to finish some of them for Christmas.
Then I went on a rampage a few nights before the "Call of the Wild Soul" retreat and stayed up all night working on a big set of Artist Trading Cards.
Some of my favorite ATC's from the bunch.
Each card was different.
Each one was 2-1/2 inches by 3-1/2 inches tall
with some elements that were the same and some that were different. Random, serendipitous, and colorful.
I traded with all the new people I met.
The retreat was held at a beautiful place up in the hills of Petaluma at the Earthrise Retreat Center. I hadn't heard of it before it popped up on my radar. It was a spectacularly beautiful place at the top of the hill and when you looked down into the wilderness, you could see the freeway, Highway 101 that cuts through California, wending it's way up north through the trees.
Look at how beautiful it is!
stairs take you though the trees:
a little bridge:
and the scene at night fall:
Absolutely serene and restful.
On my first day I took a class with a woman named Madelyn Mulvaney and we got to go for a walk, find a spot and make an altar. I discovered that the retreat center has a labyrinth, a huge crystal out on the top of the hill and unusual constructions in special places. I found a framework that was built of branches in a semi-circle and hung my treasures up on there.
We took photographs and then went back to meet up again in the classroom and go off for a tasty vegetarian lunch.
Everything looks gorgeous when you're on a vacation.
We gathered things on our walks and then went back to class for some sunprinting. What fun!
In the last half hour we all conributed the things we found and made a big mandala on the floor
and then we were done for the day. I went home each day because I live only 10 minutes away.
The next day I got to take a class and hang out with Teesha Moore. It was a fantastic day getting to hear her stories from the last three years. I used to work for her teaching metal clay classes at Artfest in Port Townsend, Washington. It was great to catch up and even better to hear how her life was going. It gave me a sense of completion and comfort to know she's well and to get to connect again. We made big journals and used some of her collage sheets to create our own whimsical images. While she told us stories and we would laugh and interupt, we all worked in our journals. Here is my impression on that afternoon:
and then the face painted over:
and then another page that was made up of all kinds of patterns and shapes around the cartoony bust of Marie Antoinette and I painted in the background.
Channeling Teesha, a mentor and creative beacon in my world. It was a wonderful experience and I got exactly what I came for.
On the very last day of the retreat I took a class from a very talented and sought after painting instructor named Tracy Verdugo from Australia. All I can say is that if you ever get a chance to take a class from her, you really should. Even if you're a beginner, it's worth taking a chance to learn to make a painting with her guidance. It will open your mind to a new understanding of paint and mark making. My mind wanted to know and it was blown!
My painting that day:
I'm naming it "The Tree of Plenty". I love it! I think my understanding of painting is growing. I don't know yet how my own painting will evolve but you know me . . . I will use what I learned somehow in my own way. THANK YOU TRACY!
So, I'm nearing the end of my post here and I wanted to tell you how grateful I am that there are people out there in the world who are still interested in reading my posts. This is my third one since coming back to blogging after a two year break and it's been very satisfying to hear from those of you who have written comments here or on facebook.
Have a cozy fall and enjoy the weather . . . it will pass.