13 April 2010

Undergraduate Art Show

Every Spring, Idaho State University's Art department holds a juried art show for undergraduate students. The show is open to students who are taking at least one art class, and are enrolled either full- or part-time at the school. Students may enter up to five pieces, in any medium, for the jury. Each year, a different juror is selected to decide which pieces will be in the show. This year's juror was Ellie Moseman, Assistant Professor of Art History at Colorado State University where she serves as Coordinator for Art History Foundations. She has an extensive background in Central European art, and is currently curating an exhibition of drawings by the German Surrealist artist Richard Oelze for CSU's University Museum. It was an honor to have such a knowledgeable juror choose the best from over 230 submissions (the most the school has ever had!). It was also a great learning opportunity for participants to hear her criteria for choosing the pieces she did.

In the statement she gave at the show's opening, she said that she looked for works that invited the audience to engage with the piece beyond the personal conversation between artist and artwork - works that could sustain a visual dialog with the viewer. She looked at content, craftsmanship, finishing and presentation. It was quite an honor to have four of my five submissions selected.

I was deliberate in my own personal jury process as I chose the pieces that I would enter in the show. My four steampunk pieces that were featured in the Spring 2010 issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine would probably have garnered a spot, but I wanted to enter pieces that had not been featured before, to show a greater body of my work. I looked through all of my jewelry cases for the pieces that had a strong visual presence.

I knew that the Tribal Tundra Sapphire hoops would be one that I would choose. Sometimes I am lucky, and stumble upon a shape that just "works". These earrings pegged it! In all of my jewelry designs, one of my most important considerations is how the piece will feel when worn. I strive to make my work feel like a natural extension of the wearer's body. I succeeded in making these larger hoops very light in weight, while being visually full. I went all out in details on these earrings, using the finest gauge wire, and wrapping each filigree swirl to give it a wonderful texture. The most time consuming part was the outer edges of the hoops, which have a length of sterling rolo chain wrapped with tiny round silver beads and sapphires.

My second choice was one of my steampunk necklaces. Since I decided not to enter any of the ones that were featured in Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine, I chose Steampunk Cleopatra II, which was built around the sample winged scarab I made for the step out article included in the magazine. I was experimenting with Egyptian coil links, and included sections of the links wrapped with wire and watch parts.

The butterfly hairpin I made as a theme challenge piece for the Etsy Wire Artisans Guild was next on the list. I felt that it was a visually strong piece, and had a lot of interesting detail, so it had a good chance of being selected.

Number four was The Queen of Hearts pendant I finished the weekend before entries were submitted. It was another piece loaded with details, and I knew it would be a strong contender.

I wanted to include at least one of my signature seahorse designs, and thought of entering my personal one, but couldn't bear the thought of not being able to wear it for a whole month, so I entered the copper and seed bead seahorse earrings I made last summer. These were the only ones which weren't selected for the show, but they sold in my Etsy shop the day of the opening, so it all worked out quite well.

The show is open to the public, and is located in the John B. Davis Gallery in the lower level of the Fine Arts building on the ISU campus. The show runs through April 30th. Come take a look if you are in the neighborhood!


04 April 2010

Queen Of Hearts

One of the jewelry making groups I belong to posts daily mini-challenges for the members. This past Friday's theme was, be inspired by a deck of playing cards, and my first thought was to make a queen of hearts card out of wire. I looked at pictures of different playing cards to get an idea for the design, then set to work. Of course, once I got started, I went a little over board, and ended up working the whole weekend on the piece. I had the presence of mind to take pictures as I worked, so I could share the process with all of you.

The first step was deciding on the size, and making the hammered sterling frame. I thought it would look better to have the card hang from a corner, and added a section of coiled loops to the opposite corner to balance the design. After I made the frame, I started wrapping it with 28 gauge, fine silver wire. The spiral end of the frame reminded me of the letter Q on a queen card.

Once I had the frame completely wrapped, I started netting the whole surface with 30 gauge wire. It took 10 feet of wire to net a rectangle 1.25 x 2 inches!

After the frame was completely netted, I started adding the image of the queen of hearts. I used a keishi pearl for her face, as it had just the right shape. I wrapped the top of the face with a herringbone of fine silver wire. I braided four strands of 14K gold-filled wire for the edge of her headdress and the cuff of her sleeve, and anchored it to the netting with tiny faceted tundra sapphires in a mix of colors. I twisted and hammered the wire for the heart, and wrapped a faceted ruby rondel into the center for color. I made a bunch of ball end headpins for the fringe on the corner, and wrapped a few of the rubies and red sapphires onto the corner to get an idea of how it would look before stopping for the night.

The next day, I jumped back into the project, and started in on the crown. I shaped the frame for the crown, then hammered it. The bottom edge was wrapped with fine silver, but I wrapped the points of the crown with more of the 14K gold filled wire, and wrapped bright red-orange fire opals into the valleys. I used the ends of the silver wire on the bottom of the crown to "sew" it onto the netting, and wrapped a frame of silver around each of the fire opals as I fastened the crown to the queen's head. A paraiba blue tourmaline in a heart cut is positioned in the center of the crown.

You can see the frame of the crown before I wrapped it with the gold in the picture below.

The next step in the design was to make the flower held by the queen. I used 4 tiny, VS songea sapphire briolettes, which sparkle incredibly, to make the petals of the flower. I noticed that on all the cards I looked at when researching the design, the queen's flower has only 4 petals. I am still trying to find out why this is so. The stem of the flower is another section of twisted and hammered wire, and the smaller keishi pearl I used for the hand curls around the stem like fingers wrapping around it. And while I didn't use the upside-down repeat of the queen in my design, I did want to suggest it, so I repeated the twisted heart with ruby center in the lower corner, but put it upside-down like on a real playing card.

Today, I couldn't wait to finish my queen! I added hammered looped wires for her collar, and added a fringe of those tiny red tundra sapphires to the loops of the upper collar, so they give her robes movement when the pendant is worn. I finished wrapping the rest of the rubies and red sapphires onto the lower corner of the pendant, then added the finishing touch - a stunning, 9.68 carat ruby briolette hanging from the cornermost loop. I had been holding this amazing stone in my collection of "exceptional gemstones waiting to become a part of a special piece" for a while now. The queen commanded this ruby for her own!

I decided to enter this piece in the Idaho State University's undergraduate art show. The entry date is tomorrow, so I finished it just in time! I am entering 5 of my jewelry pieces into the show. The show is juried, so my pieces have to be accepted first. I will let you know how it goes.

Thanks for stopping by!

We have a winner!

Thank you to all of my followers, both old and new! I just wanted to announce the winner of the seahorse pendant: Melissa Sutton Boos. Melissa has been blogging here on Blogspot.com since 2007, on her blog, The Wired Quilter. She is another crafty person, like me. :) She is an avid quilter, and has recently started making wire jewelry, as well. I loved looking at the pictures of her quilts, as I have been a quilter myself for over 20 years. She has a great eye for design, and I look forward to seeing more of her wire jewelry, too!

For those of you who didn't win this drawing, don't despair! I will be doing more drawings for my jewelry in the future, so stay tuned!


03 April 2010

Jewelry Give-Away For My Followers

I am almost up to one hundred followers here on my blog! As a thank you to all of you, I will be doing a drawing (once I reach my 100 follower milestone) for one lucky follower to win this lovely seahorse pendant. The drawing will be for the first 100 followers only. As of today I only need six more people to reach my goal. I will post again when I do, and will randomly draw the winner.
Thank you all for your support!