Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Finishing School for Modern Women + Mandalas with Melanie

I had another awesome experience with Jill and several beautiful, new friends at the Finishing School for Modern Women tonight. I am always amazed by the power of human connection...experiencing it, witnessing it, honoring it. THIS is how we were designed to learn about ourselves---to be in relationship, to be connected, to share, to grow! I promised the class I'd find a way to get my mandala videos back online (since I left FB and the group had to be terminated, too.) tonight, so here they are! I will also post additional examples of each kind (my own or my friends'---not clients) in the coming days.

Here is the Free Association Mandala: 
Free Association Mandala from Melanie-Pearl on Vimeo.

Here is the Mindful Mandala:

Mindful Mandala from Melanie Cloud on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Oceanic Astronaut/Ethanospheric Diver Finished

Finishing a painting like this feels so amazing. I know when it's done. I know when it's good. Only because of the magic that happens in that moment. I can never say when it's going to happen...or the details of how it just happens.                                                                 The rush of feelings in that moment are something akin to the resolution/renewal/restoration/refresh/rebirth that happens after engaging the ambiguity/trust/tolerance of any encompassing process. It reminds me anxiety is just a feeling...not necessarily truth. It reminds me of the purpose in process. It reminds me there are things at work which I cannot see or know or understand. It reminds me to engage the moment, to stay curious.

Chloe says this star looks like it's running with a gold streamer.

Letting go is also part of the process. I love when a painting transcends my own meaning/purpose. I am always relieved when a friend purchases my art and I know where it lands. I can go visit it if I need to remember/be near its resolution again. I am grateful to Amy and all of the opportunities she creates for me (and others). She inspires me to be a better patron, myself.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Banquet, 1958

I got to take my kids to see my favorite gallery at the Art Institute in Chicago. As I dried my hair at the hotel that morning I anticipated seeing the Cornell boxes and this painting:

Why this painting, of all the masterpieces at the CAI? Though I try, I can't put it into words. I know it has something to do with the thin veil.

Remember the magical night (Sept, 2015) I stepped out of Mom and Dad's front door to find this?
Both Magritte's painting and the experience I had while snapping this photo are something I continue to feast on.

Friday, July 15, 2016

My heart goin' boom, boom, BOOM!

"Son," He said, "Grab your things I've come to take you home."

I loved hearing Solsbury Hill live. Peter skipped like a child across the stage as he sang it. Sting sang along with the backup singers. They were so happy and having so much fun. So awesome to see the expression in Gabriel's face is still there...even after singing the song for 30 years!

Music is such a healing gift. I believe it heals through bilateral stimulation and hearing to get the brain parts/somatic states integrating. I am grateful my dear babe "gets it" with me.

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!

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.