Friday, March 18, 2016

Freak (Like Me, too)

This eye and ear, alpha wave candy is my current guilty listening pleasure. The second half features Clair de Lune and slow motion sirens and gauzy fabric in water. Even if the video is too sex, drugs and California for you, close your eyes and just listen to the onomatopoeia. Forget gravity. This is all heaven and bright warm bliss with some tripped out bass.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Jellyfish Earrings

With Cody recording in Stillwater and Mason tucked away at a sleepover, I spent Sunday am in my studio lost in Alpha-Bliss. I initially thought I would sort beads again, but then I decided to make a pair of Jellyfish earrings instead.

When it comes to enamel, freshly pickled, slightly domed and lightly sanded pieces of copper are the cheapest, best bet. I cut the body forms then drilled the tiny holes with my pen drill. I didn't measure the copper thickness but I think it is probably about 20 gauge.

Enamel must be fired on special trivets that lift in and out of the kiln easily. It's best if the enamel and the copper edges do not touch actually the trivet, otherwise glass will fuse the piece to the metal or cause dent marks. Transferring from station to trivet to kiln is precarious. One tiny bump sends minutes of placing fine glass grains down the toilet. I did this at least twice while making these. The photo on the right shows the first side coated with gold shimmer clear and one of the back sides freshly scrubbed and waiting for counter enamel. Any layers you add to one side of the metal you must do to the other or the glass will be unstable. So why does it look so red? The copper interacts with the class. Below you can see a hot trivet cooling. The edges of the copper after the first firing must be cleaned, or they will stay dark forever. The exposed Copper oxidizes with the heat so if you add glass on top of the oxidation, well, it's there forever. Lucky for me, I like the look of darkened edges.

It was about right at this step that I realized I forgot to drill holes in the Jelly bodies for the ear wires! So, I got to hand drill through metal while trying not to crack the glass. Some did crack, so I just re-fired and hoped for the best. When the layers of glass are is thick enough it can migrate and cover holes. This equals more drilling. Lots of firing, lots of drilling. I actually used 5 kinds of enamel to make these earrings and fired at least 10 times. My kiln spent 3 hours at 1500 degrees.
I added more green to these before adding some rock opal glass for texture/variety and fired one last time.

 I then balled 6 pieces of silver wire and flattened the bottoms of 4 pieces of silver wire, added beads, hammered at the straights and looped on the tendrils to finish the earrings.

About four hours later, I'm pretty pleased with them. 
I just stuck with the shimmering clear coat on the backs, which works well with the blues & amber chips on the tendrils. See how I hammered part of the silver wires flat? See how I added jump rings then the tendrils? Both of these steps make the tendrils actually swing and dangle more like tendrils. The photo below shows the pair of earrings I found in an auction that I based my design on. Since the enamel was damaged in the auction pair, I decided I'd rather make my own than bid on them. I do love the design!

Blorggggg, Mind Dump and Oceanic Astronaut (and not in that order)

 Blogging with pictures is requiring too much of me to keep up with during this season of life. Lame, I know, but true. If you want to see what I am working on these days, your best bet is Instagram. I am painting, sketching, writing, making jewelry, etc. 

I do want to share the progress of this painting here. I added the long and wavy O2 line early on Tuesday morning. Had to wait until Tuesday night to get the gold leaf on the line. It's always tough to walk away from a painting and wait. It ended up being a good thing, because Chloe came home for a few hours. I showed her the sketched in white line and she helped me balance it a bit more before I actually applied the gold leaf. She also helped me figure out that the OA had disappeared into the nimbus/moon. Obviously the white brings OA forward. I won't leave it white, though. I want to use warm tones b/c I know that brings it forward. The thing about having that gold on the painting is that it becomes the most forward thing no matter what. 

So, Tuesday night I brought the painting back inside and exhaled a few times. I thought it was at a good point to hang it back in it's space (haha, I DO still have a sense of humor) without too much tension for me. Then MASON came in and said, "Hey Mom. Why is it's helmet peeing?" Before I could even get over his comment he walked up to the gold wavy part in front of the helmet and using his hands, said "Chicken lips." Then CODY added, "The chicken wants to breastfeed" and my resolve quickly turned into seeing the adjustments needed. I texted the boys' response to Chloe. Her words: "Lmao boys right?"

Even with the chicken lips and the peeing helmet, I am still thrilled at the connection the OA finally has with the rest of the canvas. That gold line is pretty exciting to encounter when I walk past the painting and as the light from my East and West windows changes. My icon feels iconic. And now we're both breathing a little easier. 


I would like to note the intensity of my professional life here, during this time, too. The artist and the therapist in me are becoming more and more intertwined as I no longer have entire days off for my studio time. I'm not sure how I would be painting/creating through my time at Excel if I were coping as I used to. I bet a lot of my paintings would look like the black Rothkos in Houston or just be solid blue and gold. Anything to cool and calm my brain, body and spirit. 

I feel my whole self growing exponentially these days. Where I usually see trauma on an individual level, I am seeing trauma from multiple viewpoints. (71 to be exact. 71 people in less than 2 weeks and the count/time is expanding.) Obviously I won't talk specifics, but let's just say I am physically/psychically doing things I never thought I would do. The places my body is going physically are incredibly heavy...and just not anything I ever imagined would be required of me when I went to graduate school or took my job with Empac. Psychically...well, I guess I could type the same sentence for this one, too. It's just that both are so different in demand that they are worth mentioning separately.

The incredible things that are blowing my mind through this? The capacity of the physical, human body to be injured is so real, so fragile it's scary. The human body's ability to heal is unbelievable. The capacity of the mind to be injured is great, especially when it has faced prior physical or mental injury/challenge. Healing something unseen like the injured mind/brain is incredibly challenging---especially for those without neuroscience/psych education or prior personal experience. (Empathy is especially required for the unseen!) I am witnessing how the actions of one person affect an entire nation and community...and individuals born and unborn. Destruction is never forgotten (Newsflash, lol, the media is not an accurate reflection) and its wake bigger than even I had imagined. By the same token, any small act of kindness has rippling effects beyond my capacity to comprehend. The individuals I sit with daily have always reflected these's just mind-blowing to consider one trauma from so many angles.

A few weeks ago I co-led my first CISD (Critical Incident Stress Debriefing) at a company a few hours away from Wichita. A few days after that I went to Vegas with Andria for the first time. (Bellagio fountains! Serendipity! Cirque Du Soliel's O!) On Wednesday I took Mason to his monthly appointment in KC at Children's Mercy. On Thursday I called an ambulance from my car because my passenger was having a heart attack. Just a few hours later, we got the text about Excel. That same day Chloe called to say she was moving dorm rooms due to culminating roommate issues. I got off work at 7:30 and went to Mac until 1am. Then on Friday the Empac Excel response went into full swing and continues still. Cody started recording a new album in Stillwater, OK. (YES!!!) He returned early to spend Tuesday night in the ER, and now he is healing with the most delicious bland foods I've ever made. After Chloe visited for a flash and took a quick look at the OA painting, I loaded her up with the requested cough drops and looked at her tonsils before demanding she go to the campus doctor the next day where she found out she has strep, and ear infection and allergies. She is in KC for a few days at an art conference and then she leaves for Michigan with a friend for spring break. Mason has just been chilling and riding out his spring break with grandparents and cousins. His own pottery skills are growing exponentially over the last few months. (So exciting and beautiful to watch!)

I was made for this? I was made for this! Life is rich. (URL to Great is Thy Faithfulness) I am glad a have one central place to dump the wealth. (Let's face it...I have a zillion sketchbooks and journals.) It's 5am. Prior to this I got out of bed to roll around on a baseball wedged between my shoulders/back and the floor. Thus, I have little time or patience for dumb blog formatting issues. I'm going back to bed before I go sit with the second shifters at Excel tonight. Before I go celebrate St Patrick's day with my favorite Irish people. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

2016 Valentines

(The Diver's Treasure: Candy Apple and Oxblood Coral, Rough Sodalite, Malachite, Petrified Wood, green Turquoise, Fossil Agate, Rough Olivine, Lapis, Topaz, Pyrite, Rough Turquoise, Tiger Coral,  Blue Coral, Chalcedony, Rutilated Quartz, Geode, Kyanite, Spotted Jasper, Fossil Stone, Rough Amber, Jade, Pearls, Rhodochrosite.)
I have always liked natural things and shiny things. When I was in fifth grade I received a rock polisher from my parents and was so excited to see how the pumice and tumbler would eventually work their magic. As a child I used to read Matthew 6:21, interpret it literally, feel guilty and sad. Even after I grew older and understood the verse a little bit more I still felt bad about how much I was drawn to shiny things and "rocks".

Just yesterday at Karg Art Glass my dad said, "Can you believe all this comes from the earth?" Yes, I can, and isn't it beautiful?

Over the last several years I started routinely praying The Lord's Prayer. "On Earth as it is in Heaven." Praying this has healed so much within me and given me permission to experience "treasure" now...not just store it up for some day after I die. I began loving people for who they were made to be, as they are and as they are becoming. I have permission to love everyone now!?! (Even my clients who do those things.)

In the process of finding heaven on earth, I have grown to love both kinds of treasure more. I love connecting people in process with shiny, colorful things that represent process. This is why I keep the jewelry side of my studio. 

I keep a large polished and pointed (God forbid, right...even tho it's pointing straight up or to wherever I pray focused love) Pink Quartz in my office---and I have been asked about it several times. Do I think the rock itself holds special powers? No. Do I worship it? Certainly not. Do I love the symbolism and process (1 Cor 13:13) it represents to me and my clients and people throughout history? You bet.

People and processes are amazing. I hope my Valentine tells you I treasure and love you right now---and invites you to do the same.  

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Labradorite Ring for Star

I set this beautiful chunk of labradorite (shipped from India) for friends over the Christmas break. I wanted the back of the stone to show so I sawed windows in the base. The twist shank is more functional (pregnancy shifts ring sizes) even though it ends up beautifully balancing the design both literally and figuratively.

When pushing and polishing the original bezel, I wore right through to the rock. So, I cut a new base and bezel and set the ring again. Good thing, because, of course the second setting is much better. The first one didn't actually balance and the windows weren't as even. I would rather leave something like this in the world than the first version for sure!

Sure wish the labradorite itself was easier to photograph. I took all these photos after I hand polished but  before I tumbled the ring. It ended up even shinier! My friends were pleased.

OA Gold

I originally intended to make the moon nimbus gold simply because I wanted it to look more iconic. I lived with the silver on my dining room wall for weeks before I finally gold leafed over it. Now I might actually love the painting. There really is nothing like watching a painting change with the changing light conditions over a day. I still want to make the diver suit darker and possibly the painting itself, too. 

Now that the heart is gold, it becomes a focal point and I'm not sure about it. In some ways it makes the heart heavier and asks the viewer, "What is below?" or "Where is the rest of the heart?" or "Can I imagine deeper than this painting?"...and of course I like that. In other ways, it draws attention to the edge of the canvas and acts like an annoying sink. I'm sure designers would miss the metaphor for the technical. They probably should since I didn't do it on purpose. Well, wait a minute. I guess I did. But not because I had the metaphor in mind. More because this giant canvas (72" long!) didn't look right with a smaller diver just to fit the heart. I placed the Moon first, then the diver. The moon had to be right there and that big. I guess I will let the heart be what it is. It's probably painted for those of us who need to be annoyed a little bit.

Thursday, December 31, 2015


Cody gave me a metal detector for Christmas! (I have wanted one for years.) I am going to make stuff from the metal I find in 2016 and afterward have a show with all the jewelry/art in 2017. I started an Instagram just for this project: 2016Treasure. Please follow along if it interests you. Here's to finding new beauty in the lost, discarded or otherwise forgotten. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Good is the Flesh

 Good is the flesh that the Word has become,
good is the birthing, the milk in the breast,
good is the feeding, caressing and rest,
good is the body for knowing the world,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

Good is the body for knowing the world,
sensing the sunlight, the tug of the ground,
feeling, perceiving, within and around,
good is the body, from cradle to grave,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

Good is the body, from cradle to grave,
growing and ageing, arousing, impaired,
happy in clothing, or lovingly bared,
good is the pleasure of God in our flesh.
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

Good is the pleasure of God in our flesh,
longing in all, as in Jesus, to dwell,
glad of embracing, and tasting, and smell,
good is the body, for good and for God,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

-Brian Wren
As much as I love having my head in the heavens and my feet in the deep, I think 2016 will be a year for being in my body. Lots to look forward to.

Quantum Entanglement Illustrated

I woke up this morning, barely opening my eyes to make my son's sandwich and kiss him out the door. I shut the door and turned to find the small square books Sydney left on my porch yesterday. I grab one and quickly realize I need a blanket and couch because this is a book I will not be putting down. So much for going back to bed.

I start from the beginning. I absorb the entire book only stopping to scratch out a few notes. Holy moly new inspiration! Plus, the book is full of confirmation about my own process. I love connecting forward, backward and all-over dots.

On the last pages I find Austin Kleon's delightful note card illustration:
Oceanic Astronaut?!? Yes, this is what OA is all about!
I finish the book and make my way back to the painting to find this:

All those stars are silver. The heart weight and moon nimbus, too.

The sun is barely up and the light on the painting is perfect. What I could not capture with every effort last night, is effortless today. All I needed was natural light.

And now all I want is to hit the pause button on my day job, re-read the book, take inventory and put the new ideas to work. Interestingly enough the Mr. Kleon's book even talks about the health in having a day job. After all, the tent-making is a vital part of the whole. Until tomorrow....

Monday, December 7, 2015

Oceanic Astronaut with Silver Leaf

Under blacklight and an indirect light with shadows in between. Has an underwater effect/under trees/clouds effect.
This thing is crazy hard to photograph. The light effects happen at different angles, so when taken head on the silver just looks white. These photos will have to do until I know how to tilt angle on my computer.

I don't think it's done but I signed it to remind me not to overwork it. I would like more contrast between the diver and the moon but I don't want to add color there. Well, maybe I'll add blue. Another option would be to change the silver to gold and warm up the canvas a bit. Cody likes do I for the moon and stars but I'm so used to gold....