Monthly Archives: October 2012

3:30 boat ride on Wednesday


After the ferry dropped passengers at Great Cranberry, the sun started to light up the fog and drizzle.  I like to keep my camera in my back pocket when I ride the boat. At any moment there can be a scene to make me leave my seat and run out hoping to capture it.




It all looked like a black and white photograph and yet there was blue sky showing up overhead.


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Hoop challenge revealed!

A few weeks ago, Lorelei Eurto offered a chance to have one’s name drawn for a design challenge with ceramic hoops made by Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio. I was delighted to have my name picked along with the other great designers whose links are at the bottom of this post.

As usual, I waited until late in the game to finish my challenge pieces, though I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do.

One of the things I hoped to gain from this challenge was to get back to working with precious metal clay. I had some of the fine silver, set aside since August, with plans to make some new beads and clasps.

I knew I wanted to use one of the hoops as a toggle clasp for a necklace. I also wanted to combine some of the other ceramic beads I had on hand.

I’m pleased with how the first piece turned out, though I don’t know how “outside of the box” it was to make a necklace.

First the clasp,



Now, the whole necklace.


The textured rondelle inside the other loop is made by LeAnn Weih of Summers Studio. The other green ceramic beads, both round and flat with texture, are made by Keith O’Conner, and purchased at Beadin’ Path in Freeport, Maine. The texture on the silver beads and toggle comes from a texture plate I carved from a soft cut printing block from Dick Blick. The necklace is strung on two strands of Beadalon. The small green beads are size 6 seed beads, also from Beadin’ Path. All the silver beads are made by me.



The second piece was much more of a challenge for me. I had several buttons, made by my friend Kaitlyn Duggan, who is a fellow resident of this tiny island. I strung and restrung a necklace, trying to use the buttons as a clasp with the third ceramic loop, and as beads for the necklace. One of the buttons fit perfectly inside the loop. I tried ribbon and I tried leather. Nothing laid flat. The buttons kept flipping and I was running out of time to finish the piece. And… another necklace…ho hum. How was that going to be a new and different way of using Karen’s loops? After three attempts, and three finished pieces I disliked, I gave up on the second necklace, and took a shower. That’s when I came upon a new idea for the third loop.


Two of Kaitlyn’s buttons made it into this piece, but they are hidden when it is worn. I was happy to use some of the fiber wire that I had purchased earlier from Starry Road Studio. You can see it between the copper wire coils. This is a pretty simple piece, with no clasp. It fits easily over my head. Looks like a necklace, right? (And by the way? Why does a mannequin need to have such erect nipples?)

But here’s what it’s really for:


Many thanks to Lorelei Eurto for the challenge and to Karen Totten for the ceramic hoops. You guys did just what I hoped you would do if I was chosen to participate. You kicked my butt back into the studio!

Now you’ve seen what I made. Please be sure to look at what these artists did with their hoops.


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On Sandy’s edge

When Bruce knew he was going to miss several days of hauling lobster traps, he suggested that we do something we have put off for over a year; paint the living room. The laundry was done, the gas cans for the generator were full, chili was made for supper, and the dishes in the dishwasher were clean. We figured we could get a day of painting in before the power went out.

We started by taking everything off the walls and moving stuff into the center of the living room.


Testing the color. (Something we probably should have done before we moved everything. Fortunately we liked it.)


While waiting for the first coat to dry, we took a walk to check on the weather. The wind had picked up quite a bit. We tried to take some “selfies” with the wind at our back.




Here’s what it looked like facing into the wind….


Low tide, looking east. It’s going to get worse tonight, but we’re much better off than others in New York and New Jersey.


It’s now 8 p.m. and we still have power. The second coat is on the walls but we’ll probably wait until tomorrow to do the trim and paint the dining room.

Tomorrow is also the big reveal day for Lorelei’s ceramic hoop challenge. I finished my pieces, and hope we still have power so I can post what I made and see what everyone else made. We may have a generator but if the island loses power, we lose our internet signal. So, if you don’t see a new post tomorrow, you’ll know what’s going on up here on our little island in Maine.


Here’s a sneak peak at my finished piece…..


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Tuesday afternoon clouds

I’m glad I looked up!


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At last. Back to work with PMC.

I feel like I’ve been away from my studio for a long time. Last week I finally started to get back into the swing of things. I have a number of designs in my head, but I wanted some silver components to include in the finished pieces. What a great feeling to get out my precious metal clay, start listening to a new book on CD, and spend a couple days cranking out some of the beads and components I’ll be using this week.

Leaves are a recurring theme for me. I like the simple lines of the bunchberry leaf because it looks great on its own and it combines well with other shapes. So, the first components I made were from the familiar leaves that grow along the side of the road by my house.

Next, some small textured teardrop shapes. (Hmmm, kind of like an inverted leaf!)

I also made several shapes of my hollow silver rock beads, and some flat and domed spacer beads. Here’s the kiln load, before any of the finishing steps. I know, the dish towel looks a little gross.

Why make flat spacer beads with expensive PMC when they could be chopped out with a disc cutter? Because I can make them thicker than the gauge of sheet metal I would be able to cut out with a disc cutter, the holes are easy to drill before firing, and I make the flat spacers out of rehydrated PMC scraps. I can tumble them for a good long time and the edges will sparkle. I use the spacer for accents, so most of what you see are the edges. I’ve never been able to get that reconstituted clay to be as smooth as fresh clay. It doesn’t take a texture as well, and it is more porous. I learned this spacer trick from Fred Woell, and I use it a lot when I have old clay scraps I want to rehydrate.

With this batch of components I also wanted to try something I read about on Vickie Hallmark’s blog.  She has shared a lot of information about fusing Argentium with fine silver and sterling silver metal clay. (Argentium is sterling silver, but instead of sterling as an alloy of fine silver and copper, it is an alloy of fine silver and germanium.) I fuse Argentium wire to make my own closed jump rings and chains, but I have never tried fusing Argentium to any of my fired PMC pieces.

I used to solder the ends of sterling silver wire to the edges of these leaves to have an attached wire for making a wrapped loop of an earring.  It was hard to hold the wire in place while waiting for the solder to flow, and I usually ended up with solder flowing onto the front of a few leaves. That is not where I would ever want to see it. (Oy, I hate to solder!) Then I tried imbedding fine silver wire in a small ball of clay at the back of the leaves so I could fire the wire in place, omitting the need for soldering. This worked okay, but it used more clay than I wanted on such a thin leaf, and the softer fine silver wire did not have the strength I wanted for an earring. Even with work hardening, there was a little weak spot where the wire went into the clay and I couldn’t reach it to harden with a hammer or burnisher.

So today, I coiled a bunch of Argentium wire ends (20 ga), hammered them, and set them on top of the leaves on a fire brick, and fused them with my torch. There was a little trial and error with overheating the wire, but I quickly got the hang of it. It was so much faster than soldering and so much stronger than imbedded fine silver.

Tomorrow, these pieces will all get a little liver of sulfur bath and  some hand polishing. Then they’ll be ready for jewelry action.

Thank you Vickie Hallmark and everyone else who shares information so generously on their blogs! I have learned some of my favorite new techniques and gained so much inspiration from reading the blogs of other artists. I hope I am paying it forward with my own blog.


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Wooty woot!

One of the blogs I like to check regularly is the one written by Lorelei Eurto. She is always finding unusual beads and components to use in her jewelry designs, and she has an amazing eye for creating asymmetrical necklaces. Her pieces are sophisticated and funky with an inspiring sense of playfulness.

Lorelei and her fellow jewelry designer Erin Siegel wrote a book, Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry, published in May of this year.  It’s full of new ideas for using a variety of beads and fibers in necklaces, bracelets and earrings.  I’m  happy to have it on my bookshelf, and I find it evocative every time I look at it.

Lorelei offered a challenge on her blog last week. She would randomly select 6 people to receive identical sets of ceramic hoops, generously donated by Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio. All we had to do was leave a comment, and our names would be thrown into the pot.

Well, wooty woot! I was one of the 6 people chosen by random! Thanks Lorelei, and thanks Karen. A challenge is just what I need to urge me back into the studio.

These cool pieces arrived in the mail on Friday. I have until the reveal date, October 30, to design something new. To think outside the box.  I can’t wait to see what we all come up with.


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To get back into practice…

…of blogging more often, I started to sort through my photos tonight, looking for something to post. I came across this great blue heron that I saw on one of my early morning walks in the summer of 2011.

This is a special bird to me for many reasons. I love seeing them return to the island in April, and I miss seeing them in October when they have headed south.

That’s all I’ve got for a Saturday night.


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Too long away

The last two and a half weeks I have not been quite up to par. My stomach has been running the show, stealing my energy and causing some pain. I’ve been too long away from the studio and too long away from blogging.

I tend to lean into depression when I don’t feel well, especially when it goes on for more than a few days or when I can’t figure out the cause. I feel like some kind of slacker or lame ass who can’t get her act together. I try to work in the studio, but find it hard to focus. With plenty of work  to catch up on I can’t figure out where to start or what to do first, so I judge myself harshly and decide I’ve done nothing.

That’s how I felt today and it’s time to draw my brakes and stop the downhill slide.  I have not done nothing. I may not have finished the work I wanted to but I have been working on bits and pieces that I’m excited to pick up and use as soon as I can. Taking photos to put up on the blog helps.

Here are some leafy headpins I made last week with translucent polymer clay.

I used some of my down time to wrap a bunch of copper and silver-filled wire into small leaf shapes. I hammered them to flatten and harden the wire, making it a ready base for thin layers of translucent polymer.

I colored the translucent clay with alcohol ink and rolled out thin sheets to apply to the wire frames.  I sandwiched  microbeads between the sheets of clay for most of the leaves. It wasn’t until later that I thought about trying some waxed linen between the layers.

I’m pretty happy with the results, and I have a bunch of ideas that will “stem” from these.

Tomorrow won’t be a studio day for me as I’ll be off the island to get a CT scan to see if we can figure out what’s going on in my stomach. Yeah, it’s hard not to imagine dire things, but I’ll balance those thoughts with the thought that this could be nothing more than a weird reaction to stress.

Meanwhile, I’ll be thinking of plans for these leaves. Maybe I got more done last week than I thought.


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