Saturday, April 24, 2010

And now, the rest of the story . . .

I have a love/hate relationship with challenges. Much like homework in high school and assignments in college, they frighten me and I'm the Mistress of Procrastination, Fretting and Handwringing complete with self-esteem issues so this project brought the same emotions back to the surface. Frankly, it's rare that I challenge myself enough (if at all) and I get far too comfortable doing the same old same old production work kind of thing. {yawn}

So when Lisa sent me this piece of fossil history embedded in limestone and said a brooch was what she had in mind, I said yes but was really thinking 'o.m.g. I can't do this. Can I do this? I can't. I can. I can't.' Well I did.

The stone itself presented a big problem in that it is the softest limestone material and has the texture and hardness of dried mud and I knew it could not be bezel set in the traditional way but it still needed the walled protection of a bezel. I was thinking 'box' but making it interesting was not coming to me. At one point, Lisa posted a picture of chicken feathers from two of her hens that had met their match in an owl or hawk and I thought there was a real connection there that I wanted to capture. From there the idea that fish and fowl were created on the same day hit me as I sat in church one morning sketching (when I should have been paying attention, I'm sure). There was the inspiration.

Using copper I made the strip for the bezel wall and you can see that I've stamped on three sides of the piece 'ON THE FIFTH DAY HE MADE THE FISH AND FOWL' and soldered it to the copper base.

Not being able to burnish the sides of the bezel wall in the traditional way since limestone is so soft, I made prongs from copper wire (leftover from our house wiring) and I soldered them to the inside of the box.

The limestone really needed a soft place to rest and a bit more strength and support so I epoxied a piece of grey felt to the inside of the box and I epoxied the limestone to that for stability. The copper prongs were easy to push over and I was careful not to slip and push my burnisher onto the fossil. I'd hate to ruin the piece at this point!

I formed the copper tube from sheet and soldered it to the base of the piece for the feathers and dialed the neighbors who had chickens. Happily, they supplied me with feathers from their red hen (who won't be flying anywhere anytime soon, I think) and those were culled and trimmed and epoxied into the tube. The pin back is handmade with copper tubing, sheet catches and sterling wire.

I'm really pleased with the nature of this brooch. Everything about it fits from the fish fossil, to the way the copper and limestone and little red hen feathers blend together in such an artful way.

Thank you, Lisa, for the privilege of creating this piece for you. It proved to me that I'm still up to the challenge.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My favorite new 'finds' . . . .

These are the sweetest little wood boxes and when I laid eyes on them, they were mine! I hope you can read them - one reads 'PORK BRAINS' and the other says 'SMOOTH CLIMAX'. They didn't just follow me home, I grabbed them, forced them into the car and I couldn't leave without them. Can you blame me?

I have been using an old wood milk crate and an egg crate to transport some of my display stuff to and from shows when it occurred to me that I could use one as a riser for my mirror and lamp. When I saw how sweet they looked as a contrast to the slubbed raw silk and velvet busts, I was on a mission to collect more. Honest, can you blame me?

Now I can't pass by an antique mall without cruising through and I must look like a woman on a mission. I don't browse, I cruise FAST with my eyes open for cheesy boxes with unusual advertising on them and I'm beyond hooked. It's yet another addiction. Help.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I am sloooooooowly pulling myself out of the long winter months and trying to get back to the bench if only to create a few easy little pieces. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated. Simple. Modern. Spring.