Arte Es Vida

Junk Charm Bracelet by arteesvida
February 11, 2009, 1:07 pm
Filed under: Art Of Jewelry Design, Metal Work, Mixed Media, Non-Traditional Jewelry

My mom saw one in a store recently and fell in love with it, so I made her her own, personalized version (modeled in the picture by my daughter) for her birthday this year. The charms are bits and pieces I have collected over the years and couldn’t seem to get rid of, including ones I made myself, like the resin filled bottlecap. The links are prebab, but when I soldered them shut I used extra solder to texturize the surface of each link. This gave it a one-of-a-kind hand-hammered appearance. Super easy!

Artist’s Journals and Sketchbooks by arteesvida
December 23, 2006, 5:50 pm
Filed under: Art Of Jewelry Design, Book Reviews, Creativity, Journaling

“Lynne Perrella’s book? Why are you reviewing Lynne Perrella’s book? It doesn’t have anything to do with jewelry making!“

All teasing aside, I think my friend is just jealous I got a copy of this fabulous book before she did! I have been a huge proponent of art journaling and keeping a design journal for a couple of years now. Always one to do things obsessively, I went from never keeping any kind of diary or journal to keeping three! One is for notes, ideas, quotes and pure “writing”, one is a pure art journal that I use for experimental and artistic “play”. My third is a jewelry design journal that I use to sketch out ideas, make notes for projects that intrigue me, and paste pictures of jewelry and other objects from magazines that I find inspirational. While this may sound obsessive (ok, maybe I am a weeeee bit obsessive), they all actually work together.

Sketchbook -- Dragonfly Pin

Design Journal Page

The design journal is the most important one for jewelry makers (for obvious reasons) and also the first sketchbook I ever started. I fill up about two blank books a year of notes, drawings, and magazine clippings. My big rule with this journal is that I allow myself to be ugly, and messy and scrawly. I have found if I don’t worry about “pretty”, I don’t limit and censure my self and my ideas. The above page are the notes and rough sketches of the Dragonfly Pin Project. When I am working on an idea that I think I may eventually turn in to an article, I usually go in to more detail so it is easier for me to recreate my directions at a later date. My other pages tend to be even messier and shorthanded.

Art Journal Soul Blooming 1

Art Journal Page One

Art Journal Soul Blooming 2

Art Journal Page Two

My second journal, a pure “art” journal is prettier by default. Since I use it to play with color and texture and elements of assemblage and collage it doesn’t relate directly to jewelry design. But I have found it to be a fantastic source of design inspiration. And fills my obsessive need to make something pretty after working in a messy design sketchbook. As you may have noticed already, this two page spread from my art journal was the inspiration for the dragonfly pin project.

Although I was already an art journal convert when I received a copy of Lynn Perrella’s book, I found it to be incredibly inspiring and useful, not just for journaling but as a source of jewelry design ideas. Besides being a physically beautiful book, it holds a huge amount of practical information. Including tips and ideas on:

· Working with photocopies
· Use of color using paints, washes, chalks, and textured mediums
· 9 different image transfer techniques
· Using slide mount frames (which can make gorgeous little photo frame pins)
· Attachment techniques, including brads and grommets
· Stamp carving
· Making faux postage stamps

The collection of featured journals themselves are of a huge variety. Besides the “typical” art journals (although art journals tend to be anything but typical) she includes photos and resources on an incredible array of sketchbook ideas. If you are interested in starting your own journal, you are sure to find an idea that appeals to you! She includes a decorator’s sketchbook and file, a project sketchbook (both are very similar to a jewelry designers sketchbook), travel sketchbooks, a mixed media epherma collection, a diary collage made out of rolled paper beads, and even diary quilts and skirts! Of course since this is the densest 130 pages I have seen in a long time, I am barely scratching the surface of what is included.

I may sound like a bit of a sketchbook zealot, but the amount of grown in my work I have gotten just from keeping a journal is amazing. My mom is very supportive and has even been wearing my jewelry for many, many years, but isn’t someone who is interested in the subtleties of design and technique. She commented to me a few months ago about the difference in my work over the past couple of years. She had noticed that I had started to make the leap from stringing beads to creating wearable art. Thinking about design, experimenting with technique, and giving myself permission to play on paper has made all the difference for me. Whether you are thinking about taking the next step design-wise, or just looking for a great creative and emotional outlet, this book is a FANTASTIC resource!

Reworking Existing Jewelry by arteesvida
December 21, 2006, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Art Of Jewelry Design, Beading

My brother bought me a necklace in Italy for my birthday this past winter. My brother is a world-ranked athlete, a star student, and an accomplished artist…but he has really bad taste in jewelry.

Fortunately, he is aware of his deficiency and he buys me things with the sure knowledge that I will probably take them apart and reuse all the elements in something new. For the record, I don’t ALWAYS do this (I have a necklace he bought me in Costa Rica strung from indigenous nuts and seeds that I haven’t changed a bit), but for the most part he looks at the elements of the piece rather than the design.

This piece he was particularly proud of. A mixture of pearls, polished bits of branch coral, and a gorgeous shell with pearls trapped underneath its layers, this necklace was made up of some very lovely parts. But the entire effect was quickly dubbed “ghetto mermaid bling” by everyone who saw it. At the very least, it wasn’t something that diminutive 5’3 chica could pull off wearing!

Bubby Necklace

I took apart the necklace, put aside the large shell (with plans to use it in a shadow box collage at a later date) and restrung the pearls and coral into two different necklaces mixing them with simple sterling silver. Standing alone, the pearls and the coral “pop” a lot more than they did mixed together!

Bubby Necklace 2

Bubby Necklace 3

Don’t limit yourself to just jewelry making elements…keep an eye out for finished jewelry as well. Especially older pieces (or even broken pieces!) that you may find at thrift stores. I’ve found necklaces made with gorgeous pieces of malachite for under a dollar…I couldn’t buy the beads that cheap! You can take things apart and rework them into several new pieces, and erase dated styles with simple, elegant designs.

Turning Photos Into Artistic Masterpieces by arteesvida

Mei Noel was the first person to turn me on to this site…the things you can do with it are amazing, and can be used to make wonderful personalized jewelry gifts!

Face Transformer Image Upload

Load a head shot on the system and fill out the information requested in order to register the image.

The next screen will give you a box that will allow you to crop the image down (I cropped mine to face only.) The screen after that one has you use circles to mark where the eyes and mouth are so the image transforms properly.

You choose how you want the image transformed from different categories and then let the program do its work!

Right now the save button on the system is down, but you can save the image by clicking your Print Screen (PrtScr) button, opening paint, and clicking paste. That will give you a whole screen shot which you can trim down into the image you want.

You can then resize the image to fit the jewelry project you wish to complete.

These images were created using the same head shot that is at the top of every BellaOnline Jewelry Making page. Stay tuned for more jewelry making projects that incorporate these sample images!

Faith As A Botticelli

Faith As A Mucha

Faith As A Modigliani

Using Mandrels In Your Wirework by arteesvida
December 10, 2006, 5:51 pm
Filed under: Art Of Jewelry Design, Wire Work

A mandrel is defined as a rod or bar around which a material, in our case wire, can be shaped.  Mandrel’s do not have to be made out of a specific material, or even be a specific shape and size.  Knitting needles make great “traditional” sized mandrels, but I have also used a whole host of objects as makeshift mandrels, including toothpicks and popsicle sticks.  So long as the mandrel is of uniform size and sturdy enough to hold your wire, it fits the bill.

If you are new to wire work, mandrels are a fabulous play tool.   Their potential use is enormous…for zero monetary commitment, unlike jigs, wire winders, and the other tools on the market.

One of the most basic mandrel applications is making your own jump rings.  By wrapping over a standard sized mandrel, then snipping off each individual circle.  Although I typically buy pre-made jump rings for general use, I have a hard time finding jump rings made in copper or art wire colors. So if I am working with wire outside of basic silver and gold colors, I often make my own jump rings (as well as my own clasps) so I can match my current project.  For making your own jump rings, you need to use a heavier gauge wire (the lower the gauge number the heavier/thicker the wire)…16 gauge wire is standard, 14 gauge for bigger jump rings or for use on heavier projects.  Should you use a thinner wire, such as 18 gauge, you may find it necessary to double up the jump rings so they hold without losing their shape from the weight of the jewelry piece.

Mandrel’s are not limited to making findings, wrapped wire has many uses for jewelry making as well.  With different sizes and shapes, the design possibilities are endless, especially when you add beads and charms into the mix!  Over the next few months, I will be featuring some different wire work projects that call for mandrel wrapping techniques; the first one I will be putting up is an easy but fabulous self-linking copper wire bracelet, so keep an eye out for it!

The Art Of Beadwork By Valerie Hector by arteesvida
December 3, 2006, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Art Of Jewelry Design, Beading, Book Reviews

I do get a lot of wonderful books to review on a regular basis. I think I have learned something great from each of them. But every once in awhile I get sent a book that just takes my breath away. The book, The Art Of Beadwork By Valerie Hector is one of those books.

It marries the rich, wonderful history of beadwork (and with no surprise, the forward is written by the sublime Lois Dubin, who wrote “The History Of Beads) with stunning patternry, designs, and instructions.

I confess I had some difficulty finishing this book. At each chapter, I quite literally found myself jumping out of my chair and grabbing a box of seed beads to try something new. The 1960s portrait of Nelson Mandela wearing Thiembu beadwork collar had me up in the middle of the night replicating the Xhosa beadwork scallop stitch the collar was made from. My poor husband just sighed and shook his head…knowing full well the vacuum cleaner would have be unclogged of beading thread and stray seed beads within the next couple of days.

Now, this book does lean towards the more experienced beader. But new beadworkers shouldn’t feel warned off too quickly. The techinques are VERY well explained and illustratied with painstaking detial. And the patterns build up slowly; starting with simple techniques that can be built upon to create more complex work.

Valerie Hector is also excellent at giving beginner’s type advice to keep you from getting too frustrated with the more complicated works…she suggests bigger bead sizes and completing the pattern in more than one color (making it easier to chart your progress along with the pattern progess outlined in the book). These types of pragamtic tips really keep the book in everyone’s range, if you don’t mind a little patient fumbling as you get started!

The book covers classic designs (and their modern variations) from the following regions: Mainland China (Han Beadwork), Ancient Japanese Beadowrk, Indian Beadwork (Gujarat State), Indonesian Beadwork (Sa’Dan Toraja), Malaysian Beadwork, Malaysian Borneo Beadowrk (Kenyah) Papua, New Guinea Beadwork (Ambai Island), Ancient Egyptian Beadwork, Nigerian Beadwork (Yoruba), Kenyan Beadwork (Maasai), Sudanese Beadwork (Dinka), South African Beadwork (Xhosa and Msinga), English Beadwork (17th century), German Beadwork (18th century), Austrian Beadwork (20th century), French Funerary Beadwork, Native American Plans and Plateau Beadwork, Achomawi/Atsugewi Beadwork, Mexican Beadwork (Huichol), and Peruvian Beadwork (Chimu).

This is an amazing amount of breathtaking, museum-quality work from around the globe that spans thousands of years of beadweaving history. This isn’t just a how-to book…it is as complete history of our craft as one could ever hope for. It is equisitely detailed and absolutely gorgeous. If you only buy one beadwork book this year, let it be this one!

Using Images In Jewelry Making by arteesvida
December 2, 2006, 5:06 pm
Filed under: Art Of Jewelry Design, Book Reviews

The popularity of magazines such as Somerset Studio and Expression, which are dedicated to mixed media art forms, have fed a growing interest in using images in jewelry design. Combining photos and other printed images in jewelry making is hugely popular right now!

Doing image transfers from photo copies is pretty easy. Most of us are copy machine adept, and there is always the Kinko’s employees to fall back on for help.

But the real trick, is when you are capturing images (public domain images, of course) from the internet or email and/or developing your own custom images in your photo editing software. I have been plodding along decently with my photo editing software…resizing, trimming, re-coloring, adjusting lighting and the like.

I thought I was pretty smooth until I got a fantastic book in the mail, Creative Computer Tools For Artists: Using Software To Develop Drawings and Paintings by Jann Lawrence Pollard and Jerry James Little, which really opened a whole other door for me in terms of what was possible to do with images and your computer.

The book starts out covering your basic techniques and tools (after all, we’re artists, so our computer experience is not assumed!), and then each chapter takes a basic editing technique and details all the different ways that you can use it:

· Chapter One covers working with one photo. Some of the techniques in this chapter include bringing back lost colors, enhancing shapes and shadows, and bringing out lost detail.

· Chaper Two covers working with layers. Some of the techniques in this chapter include abstracting with color, staging a composition, and developing studies for collage.

· Chapter Three covers combing photos. Some of the techniques in this chapter include painting portraits, combining photos with different perspectives, and replacing a background.

· Chapter Four covers scanning sketches. Some of the techniques in this chapter include drawing a sketch on screen, developing a black and white sketch, and developing color studies.

· Chapter Five covers using digital effects. Some of the techniques in this chapter include using filters in layers, creating soft edges, and fine tuning architectural details.

With all of these tools, even though most computer illiterate right-brainer should have no problem creating exactly the image they want for their jewelry designs. Once you have the imaging down and are ready to try some projects with them, check out the link box below!

Image Jewelry Making Projects

Slide Show Necklace

Microscope slide necklaces using foil tape instead of solder.

Decoupage Bracelet

A cool project using decoupage and a bracelet form.

Nostalgia Photo Necklace

Use photos, glass, and solder to make these great memory necklaces.

Arty Bottle Cap Jewelry

Use images and resin poured in to bottle caps to make necklaces, earrings, and key chains.

Patriotic Flag Pins

Transfer images to polymer clay using this technique.

A Different Twist On Hand Tinted Photos

Copied and colored pencil transfers to polymer clay.

Picture Frame Pins

Polymer clay picture frames with baked layers of Future floor finish to create faux glass.

Framed Art Jewelry: A Gallery to Wear

Lots of good information on framed art jewerly from BellaOnline’s Fashion Jewelry host.

Polymer Portrait Pendent

Use bathtub gin to make an image transferred pendent.

Chandelier Pendent

Use flat backed chandelier crystals to cover images for a funky pendent.

Flat Backed Glass Marble Accessories

Use flat backed marbles to make cool pins and barrettes.

Children’s Art Charm Necklaces

Make reduction copies of your favorite kid’s artwork to make this “charming” kilt pin!

Nostalgic Jewelry

Use oil colored pencils to tint black and white photos and solder them into cool jewelry.

Metal Tag Charm Bracelet

Use metal tags from the hardware store to make charms out of your favorite photos.