Arte Es Vida

Soul Collage by arteesvida
December 25, 2006, 4:10 am
Filed under: Book Reviews, Mixed Media

I found my packet of unfinished SoulCollage cards when cleaning out my garage studio this week.  So I went and dug up the site where I had posted my mostly-finished ones a few years ago.  It’s still active!  Yet another project I really need to finish one of these days.

 SoulCollage is a great book, my mom stole my copy of it so I haven’t seen it in awhile, but still…I have fond memories of it.

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!

Wild Color: The Complete Guide To Making And Using Natural Dyes by arteesvida
December 23, 2006, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Book Reviews, Fabric Arts

Up until the mid 19th century, all fibers were dyed with natural sources. Although textiles decay very quickly, archeologists have found some textiles colored with natural dyes that are at least 6000 years old….many from sealed tombs and burial chambers.

The first synthetic dye (a purple color) was created in 1856, by chemist William Perkin who was experimenting with the hydrocarbons in coal tar. Synthetic dyes rapidly became popular because they were more cost effective to produce. But ironically, they never really did improve upon the color palette of the homemade dyes…they synthetic indigo developed in 1904 was no richer or more vibrant than the real thing!

While it makes sense to use synthetic dyes on a larger scale, for costuming purposes the natural dyes can be wonderfully fun to work with. The natural variations lend a wonderful authenticity to your work!

Wild Color by Jenny Dean is as about as complete a resource as you can get if you are interested in doing your own dying.

The first section covers all sorts of dying techniques and methods, preparing fibers (whether animal or vegetable), using and making mordants, and modifying colors. But don’t let all of these ideas and new terms scare you…it is all broken down in to easy steps and alternatives. Jenny Dean is definitely of the Don’t sweat it…just give it a try! school of thought. The wonderful chart that shows how 25 different shades can be made from just one dye bath…by applying different mordants and color modifiers. For those of us who are visual learners, this is a big help.

The second section covers different dye plants you can use for natural dying. Each plant has it’s own color chart, so you have a good idea of what colors you can get from the flower, the leaves, or the bark. The different shades crated with mordants and color modifiers are also listed. These color charts are also listed on the right edge of each page…you can literally flip through the book like it is a color chart until you find the shade you want…how easy is that?

Whether you want to dye cloth, yarns, or even buttons (mother of pearl takes dyes beautifully…who knew?) this book is a wonderful tool. Check it out!

The Chameleon Clay by arteesvida
December 22, 2006, 1:03 am
Filed under: Book Reviews, Clay Jewelry

“As you read through this book, you’ll notice a few underlying concepts. These are the basic concepts of creative action. Consider for a moment that all of life is creative action. Art is just the tip of the iceberg.”
–Victoria Hughes–

It has been a long time since I have been really excited about a new book. I almost always glean some new ideas, and learn, if not a new technique, a new twist on an old one. But this book, Polymer: The Chameleon Clay by Victoria Hughes was a rarity in that I found it truly exciting. The book introduces with more than just the normal overview of techniques and materials. Tory Hughes also offers advice and motivation for readers, whether new to the medium or old hands, that reminds me of the warmth and artistic support of Holy Moly Mackeroly: Reflections On The Business of Art and The Art Of Life by Gloria Page, which as many readers know is one of my all time favorites!

The Chameleon Clay focuses on techniques for re-creating the look of expensive natural materials in clay to a beautiful result. Her projects include an ivory brooch, beaded necklaces in polymer coral and turquoise jade ginko leaf necklaces, and many others. Although finely attuned to detail, none of the projects have that you’ve got to be kidding! element of complication. Even if you are new to working with clay, she baby-steps you through each project in a way that is a guarantee of success! One aspect of the book that I greatly appreciated was the actual visuals of the color mixes she uses. Instead of just saying “1 ounce of translucent to one pea sized bit of purple” you actually see pictures of her amounts before the clay is mixed and conditioned. VERY helpful to the numerically challenged.

Although there isn’t an enormous number or projects and recipes, each one is a keeper and a very true duplicate of the material it mimics.

My fight with creating a faux turquoise is legendary. I have made some truly awful versions until I tried the recipe from this book. On my first try I got amazing results! Even allowing for the time to condition and chop clay by hand if you don’t have a dedicated food processor and pasta machine, you can still create a piece for resale for a tenth of the cost of real turquoise.

I have also been playing with her jade recipes (and quickly learning, that it doesn’t translate well to more complicated designs) and I am excited about experimenting with other techniques from the book. Besides the projects in the book, the author assembled a beautiful gallery of work from ten other polymer artists that is truly amazing. This title is definitely a must-have!

About The Author: Tory Hughes is a self supporting artist has been making and selling artwork in polymer clay for more than 30 years. She started her business ArtRanch (formerly known as Art For Life) in 1982. Her development and use of innovative techniques has influenced a generation of polymer clay artists, both through her jewelry and sculptures. Her work is seen in galleries nationwide and in numerous publications across the United States and Canada. She travels nationwide teaching her ArtRanch techniques.

Simple and Stylish Beaded Accents by arteesvida
December 22, 2006, 12:44 am
Filed under: Beading, Book Reviews, Home and Garden

It’s easy to tell apart those of us who think beads belong on everything from the rest of the (more normal) population. We’re the ones in the fringed jackets, beaded flip-flops, and glitter in our hair. Katie Hacker’s new book Simple & Stylish Bead Accents is definitely the book for us!

Because this book starts with the basics (how to use crimping pliers, how to make a beaded daisy) it is also a wonderful resource for anyone new to beaded embellishment that is looking for some great projects…there are some really wonderful ideas that could be incorporated into accessories for Prom and other formals! With one of a kind beaded sandals, scraves, belts, and several handbag ideas there is no need to inflict another pair of Payless Dyeables on the world…with a little beadwork you can wear something really unique.

The book also has sections on Home Décor and gift ideas such as journal covers and picture frames. Many of the techniques on these pages, such as the hemp and wood bead macrame she uses to embellish a basket, have lots of other uses as well…Katie’s technique for creating beaded tassles is the easiest to follow I’ve ever seen!

With over 45 projects to choose from, you are sure to find something that appeals to youe inner embellishment diva!

Rubber Stamped Jewelry By Sharilyn Miller by arteesvida
December 22, 2006, 12:31 am
Filed under: Beading, Book Reviews, Metal Work, Mixed Media, Rubber Stamping, Wire Work

Sharilyn Miller is the well-known founding editor of Somerset Studio, Bella Armoire, and Art Doll Quarterly…three magazines on my must-buy list every time they are published! She has published two other books, Stamp Art and Stamp Artist’s Project Book: 85 Projects to Make and Decorate (which includes some of Gloria Page’s work), both of which I have read, enjoyed, and found to be incredibly creative and useful. So being a worshipper at the altar of Sharilyn, you can just imagine how excited I was when she published “Rubber Stamped Jewelry” devoted solely to what creations jewelry artists can make with stamps!

One of the best things about reading her books, is she never makes assumptions about her readers level of skill. So whether you are brand new to jewelry making, or have been making jewelry longer than I have been alive, you will find this book to be a great addition to your library.

The book includes greatly detailed sections on wire work (including beautiful S-Links and S-Clasps), working with rubber stamps, working with polymer clay (including creating beads, molds, and antiquing), fiber arts embellishments (including knotting, braiding, and embellishing), shrink plastic embellishments, and other embellishments (foam, copper sheeting, glass, and paper eyelets). Some of these techniques were brand new to me so I found this an excellent resource guide!

I have always been a big fan of “creative use of materials”. I love taking odd bits and pieces and turning them in to something beautiful. Many of the projects in this book accomplish this task. One of my favorite projects was the use of tiny 5 sided sales tags. With little holes punched in, and gorgeous stamps and embellishments they made gorgeous jewelry! She also creates amazing projects utilizing vinyl tubing from the home improvement store, glass marbles, and dominoes.

I think my favorite project in the book was “Copper Sunrise”, which used rubber stamps to emboss copper sheeting, and a butane torch to create fabulous colors on the copper. (If you haven’t yet discovered the goodness of a butane torch, they are hugely fun to play with, and only cost about ten dollars for a small one at your local Home Depot.)

Some of the projects require specially ground glass and soldering skills, but the directions are walking you through what to purchase for these projects, where to purchase them, and how to use them correctly. If these techniques are as new to you as they are to me, then !you will find this attention to detail very helpful!

To find out more about the author, see more of her jewelry designs and her workshop teaching schedule, check out her homepage,

Polymer Clay Creative Traditions by arteesvida
December 21, 2006, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Book Reviews, Clay Jewelry

Polymer Clay Creative Traditions By Judy Belcher is the most unique take on polymer clay projects that I have seen in years! Because polymer clay is so versatile, it is often used to mimic other mediums. This book embraces that idea and sections off the projects inside based on the medium that polymer clay is used to imitate. The sections include glass traditions (where polymer clay is utilized to mimic lamp work glass, slumped glass, fused glass, and mosaics) metal traditions (which covers the traditional Mokume gane, enameling and annealing), fiber traditions (including different cloth looks including a clever take on batik fabrics), painting and drawing (with projects that honor O’Keeffe, Klimt, Escher, Seurat, and Polluck), sculpture and ceramics (including metallic and crackle raku) and natural materials such as stone, bone, and wood (including a polymer clay parquetry that is stunnying!)

My favorite projects include the Chinese Eye Beads (which look breathtakingly like the real thing) and the Enamel Pin, however the gallery alone is so inspiring and idea-generating that the projects almost play second fiddle! There are fantastic projects from all of the “big” names in polymer clay design and they are all new works that I haven’t seen before!