wire ... metal ... fibre .... unique handcrafted jewelry and accessories for men and women

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

string theory

chaos and string theory
painted cotton yarn

The last few weeks of creative block have been um ... interesting. Usually I can kick start the process with some old standards or by working in a different medium, but this dry spell has been all-encompassing :(

Last weekend I felt inspiration creeping back. I converted some of my very boring yarn stash into less boring, less white versions of the same by handpainting some hanks. Lack of skill, technique, equipment and so on was no obstacle but the resulting knotted string soup hammered home the 'thou shalt tie thy hanks securely' message.

It also reminded me that I knew nothing about string theory.

For the uninitiated and the curious, string theory is a concept in physics which explains why you cannot walk through walls à la Men Who Stare At Goats. It has its own website and vocabulary (confusing vocabulary) and threatens to expose the great meaning of everything.

According to string theory, electrons and other subatomic particles aren't discrete zero dimensional objects. It ascribes physical characteristics to the paths they follow, rendering them as strings (or branes, a sort of membrane). These have characteristics, which alter the perspective of the viewer, and thus underlie the theory that one string could be seen as different subatomic particles depending on its oscillation or tension at that moment. The size of the string varies and is dependant on the tension it is under. You will no doubt be relieved that, although it can approach unity, a string will not become a single point as this would confound the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (or would it?).

In traditional particle physics this principle could theoretically be applied to almost describe a theoretical situation in which electrons and the spaces between them in two discrete masses were aligned thus allowing solid A to move through solid B. String theory explains why all you will get if you try to walk through walls is a bloody nose (unlike the X Files). Though not scientifically proven, lying in the la la land of the scientific mind that is theoretical physics (theoretical by virtue of there not being enough engineering on earth to build a research facility with sufficient frictionlessness and vacuum to test out even the most basic of models), string theory does however suggest that somewhere out there in academia, someone is feeding hash brownies to particle physicists. CERN is in fact a huge bakery and hydroponics lab. I won't even mention the God particle or the 6th, 7th and 8th dimensions.

But that's not what you're here for! Hanks of Cottonease were handpainted with dilute acrylic solutions after pre-washing in a 1:3 vinegar solution. Fibres were heat set for approximately 3 minutes on full in the microwave before tumble drying, then rinsed thoroughly to remove unconjugated dye particles. The colour is very much paler than the initial paint session. My technique needs a little tweaking, or maybe the fibre doesn't obey the elementary rules of string theory in the first place. Anyway, they'll make a nice scarf.

chaos and string theory

Monday, May 30, 2011

a journey through homesickness

treevolution: i am home
treevolution: "i shall live here" - brooch (nickel silver, sea glass, felted fibre, copper wire)

Today I dismantle the "home is where the heart is" exhibition at Port Moody Arts Centre. This was my first solo exhibition and I'm really pleased that a. it was in my home town, and b. I shared the space with Tanis's incredible work. It really has been an exciting period in my (new) career. As a friend pointed out, I am now a mixed media artist!

The theme was completely up to me. This caused some initial head scratching. After a lot of sketching, scribbling, pondering and despair I plumped on the totally obvious idea of exploring the concept of homesickness through wearable art (!) which isn't quite as obscure as it sounds.

When I first started making jewelry I wired up chunks of seaglass from my childhood beach back in Scotland. In the first throes of homesickness, it was a great way to carry some of the memory around with me in my new homeland. The treevolution brooches and the 'embrace' series developed this theme. The little metal tree brooches, which first evolved for the 'Roots" exhibition, 'grew' from chunks of this same sea glass as their branches blossomed.

In the final weeks of prepping for exhibition my homesickness peaked - every piece I touched brought home to me how much I missed family, the village I grew up in, friends, and reminded me how isolated life as a trailing expat spouse can be. Then I settled down to work on my last treevolution brooch; instead of scottish seaglass I rooted the trunk over a piece collected on the Sunshine Coast. Instead of wiring the brooch pin, I rivetted it in place. The original 'heimweh' tree has a tiny glass heart nestling in the foliage. For the new one I added tiny copper wire maple leaves to the branch tips. Tanis's work on the walls of the Plum gallery was originally titled "we shall live here" which explored the concept of house, home and where to live. My new tree became "i shall live here" to show commitment to and peace in my new home.

After all, ten years is enough time to settle in.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

little house 'embrace' brooches

little house brooch
brass house brooch with sea glass
the "home is where the heart is" exhibition closes tomorrow evening

The series of little house brooches are part of the 'embrace' collection within "home is where the heart is".
Each of the metalwork houses hold a tiny shard of beach glass as a window. The windows are formed from a modified claw setting made by raising 'claws' from the sheet metal of the brooch body. The two holes above the sea glass are for the rivets which hold the brooch back in place.

There's a neat tutorial here for a more traditional claw setting for a regular gemstone cut.

Friday, May 27, 2011

the 'treevolution' brooch series

four seasons 'treevolution' brooches
These mixed media brooches sum up my conflicted feelings about making a new life as an immigrant in Canada, while being so far away from the land of my birth, family and friends.
The roots of the homesickness (heimweh) tree grow around a chunk of Scottish sea glass from my childhood beach.
The “i shall live here” tree has its root stock embedded around
Sunshine Coast sea glass and tiny copper maple leaves flourish on the branches.

'treevolution' heimweh tree brooch

Thursday, May 26, 2011

sea glass and faux pearls necklace

wired sea glass with vintage faux pearls
This was the first: my attempt to wire the sea glass from my childhood beach and make it portable.  These little chunks of washed glass were gathered on my ‘final’ trip back ‘home’ to sell our London maisonette and embark on Canadian residency and property ownership.
It seemed significant – we were cutting ties and making a new life. Suddenly, after four years of playing at emigration, our relocation to
Canada was permanent.
Homesickness kicked in.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

copper mermaid necklace and earrings

yes, i always look this glam

My father’s mother was a redhead so naturally I inherited a lot of her jewellery. She had a fondness for yellow, warm reds, amber and citrine. The vintage yellow glass beads in this set are from an amazing multi-strand necklace of hers, incorporated into new heirlooms with a modern slant.

Monday, May 23, 2011

chainmaille charms, new from old

charm bracelet

Cast-off and out-of-fashion jewellery make great additions to a simple chainmaille byzantine weave bracelet. Each charm has a story to tell – old coins from a great uncle, luckenbooth charms from an aunt, found beads, broken earrings, … history.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

sisters necklaces

My mother’s mother was a twin; she and her sister were as different as chalk and cheese but they insisted on matching accessories. So if one twin got a crystal necklace, so did the other. This necklace and bracelet are made from cut crystal and tiny glass flowers beads on two separate chokers belonging to the sisters. The originals were falling apart when I was given them. Instead of re-stringing I decided to incorporate them into wearable modern pieces. Since I am also a sister, I mingled the two chokers and made two sets to share the inheritance.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

fresh from the garden

flower G, originally uploaded by ebbandflo_pomomama.

Some more garden-inspired digital art.
Although some basic shapes are used in this outline, the flowers were created by hand then coloured and resized to suit the project.

MS Publisher

Monday, May 16, 2011

'beach' series

beach ACEO in wire and fibre
Some of my earliest childhood memories include beachcombing on a family holiday spent in south-western Scotland. My dad used to take me out for the morning, while mum dealt with my new baby sister. We would scan the highwater mark for valuable flotsam – wood, plastic, nails, string – which we could use to make sailing boats.

Monday, May 9, 2011

the 'embrace' series

'embrace' copper wire and fibre stranded collar with sea glass
These pieces were designed to hold treasures and mementos securely and in return embrace the wearer with a sense of warmth, comfort and security.

Friday, May 6, 2011

fibre friday: 'embrace' wire and fibre collar

copper wire and fibre collar with polished beach pebble
My mother taught me to crochet.
My mother taught me to sew and embroider.
My father taught me to beach comb.
My mother picked and polished the pebble.
This is all held in an embrace within the necklace.
In return, the collar embraces the wearer in safety, warmth and security.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

studio thursday: QR codes and promo stuff, oh my!

QR code and logo cards

Promotion is the name of the game (la) and I want to play the game with you (with huge apologies to Bruce Forsyth).
Part of my promotion and marketing strategy (used in the loosest sense of the word) is advertising future 'in person' events to people passing by my table at craft fairs. They may not want to buy there and then, but maybe the time would be right at another occasion. Usually I print out a list of upcomings for people to take along with a business card.

This time I'm being a little more high tech.
Dear readers, may I present to the first pomo mama design QR code.
The QR Droid app on my smartphone generated the code which I then sent as a jpeg so I could download and print out.
Using MS Publisher I designed a cute 3cm square card with my logo on the reverse.
I'll let you know how they worked out at Got Craft?

promo cards for Got Craft? this weekend
QR code (go on, scan it! (you now you want to)
i will be selling here on Sunday


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

wordless wednesday: just sayin'

fine silver 'little forest' pendants with freshwater pearl or peridot

fine silver'little forest' pendant series

fine silver maple leaf with freshwater pearl
fine silver maple leaf pendants with moss agate, denim lapis and freshwater coin pearl

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

home is where the heart is

Leaving home, leaving the country of my birth, leaving my family, putting down roots half a world away. The old familiars are no longer at hand beside me.
Yet I look up to a new night sky so similar to the old one I used to gaze at as a child from the shadows of my childhood garden. I orientate myself with familiar constellations; Orion the Hunter, the Plough, the Milky Way though it is dimmer and the stars sparkle less. So comforting, knowing that over the seas my family are rooted under the same sky. Even the water I dip my toes in is remotely connected through the great oceans to my childhood beach where I gathered shells and sea glass treasures. I carry my memories as wearable, portable touchstones of those precious to me.
I remain connected. I make my home.
One of the first reasons for making my own jewelry was extreme homesickness experienced after moving to Canada, selling our UK home and putting down roots here. I missed and still miss my family and friends as I make my new life in BC. Emigrating exacts a huge price on social networks, family ties, and security, especially for the non-working, trailing spouse who has no familiar work routine to slot readily into. On the trip back to the UK to sell our home I spent a few weeks with my parents in the Scottish seaside village which I grew up in. I came back to Canada with almost a kilogram of beachcombed sea glass from my childhood beach and over a hundred photographs of my childhood garden. Somehow they developed mystical qualities, tying me to the homeland I will probably never live in again and influencing my work. My jewelry-making initially focused on creating portable mementoes using sea glass, vintage beads from unstrung hand-me-downs, and other souvenirs of a former life, so I could carry them with in my new homeland.
So I can remain connected to who and where I used to be.
So I can feel safe and secure and put down new roots.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

moonlighting and career development

interconnected social media metwork for Blackberry Artist's Society

Readers of my other non-business blog will know that I am attempting to branch out career-wise by taking a part-time diploma in professional writing studies. As my son gets older my life as a work-from-home mum is changing and I have more time to reflect on what I would like to do in, around and in spite of my family. The jewelry design and crafts teaching business has been a great introduction to being self-employed in Canada, and also a boost to my own income/confidence/self esteem as an unemployed, former career gal ... but I'd like to do more. Hence exploring writing as a career, either self-employed, contract, freelance, or within another organisation.

As part of my new career 'development' I'm trying to write more. I blog regularly for the Blackberry Artist's blog and occasionally pluck up the courage to submit a guest post. The latest is a description of the first 12 months of a new social media network which I set up for the artist's co-operative. Read all about it on my guest post on Full Bleed Arts Marketing (thanks John!).

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