Friday, December 30, 2011

Whistle While You Work

What I listened to in 2011...

Around ten tears ago I had the realization that perhaps I became an artist because of the time it gave me to listen to lots of music.  It's probably a bit more complicated than that, but it really is perhaps the greatest perk of the job.  I get to listen to music sometimes all day long, and until the wee hours of the night.  So this post is a list of the 10 current albums I listened to the most in 2011.  Most of these were not actually released in 2011, but rather 2010, and I would like to add, I am so not a music critic so bare with me with regards to my simplistic descriptions.   "This album rocks!" will have to suffice at times...

Joanna Newsom, Have One On Me, 2010

Ok, I am about to really geek out here.  The most significant and life altering music for me of the past 10 years has been Joanna Newsom and 2010's Have One On Me will undoubtedly be playing on my Ipod for the next 10 years.  I can admit, it is not Y's, but with 18 songs, there are around 7 that are as amazing as any of the Y's songs.  I search far and wide for a musician or band that can put me in such a profound state of tizzy and awe as Joanna Newsom.  The search continues.

i said to you, Honey just open your heart, when I've got trouble even opening a honey jar...

So the bar is pretty high, and the following albums are pretty darn amazing too.  In no particular order:

Janelle Monae, The ArchAndroid, 2010
This album can not be categorized, and that is what is so incredible about it.  Hip-hop, funk, soul, rock, folk, and 1940's movie soundtracks.  She even has songs where she sounds like David Bowie circa mid 70's and Prince mid 90's.  Your earballs won't believe it!

PJ Harvey, Let England Shake, 2011
Does Polly Jean ever do anything not amazing?  I actually like this album more than some of her other recent releases.  This is very political, less crunchy guitars, more weird vocals.  Love it.  Dry is still my favorite though!

War Paint, Exquisite Corpse, 2010

I don't know much about War Paint, other than they are from LA and they are geniuses...

 Jenny Hval, visera, 2011
This album I recently found at Amoeba and it has blown me away.  Super strange and artsy-fartsy.  She writes a lot about her clitoris and the hum of battery operated devices.

Rasputina, Sisterkinderhook, 2010
This is my favorite Rasputina album so far!  It's incredibly weird, Melora's vocals are getting more creepy and wobbly.  It's the most fairytale-ish recording they have done.

Meklit Hadero, on a day like this, 2010
 Meklit is a Bay Area gal, I think she lives in San Francisco.  This album is gorgeous and soulful and eclectic.  It's pretty mellow, good for drawing late at night.

Laura Marling, A Creature I Don't Know, 2011

When it comes to pure, clean, sophisticated and unpretentious folk music, Laura Marling is queen. This is her 3rd album, and perhaps her best.  This album has hints of Joni's Court and Spark.  Laura's voice is so beautiful and smooth and it takes a few plays to realize how powerful and uncommon it is.  I have been playing this every night since I got it.

and, she is like 17!  Well, I think now she is the ripe old age of 21...
Wild Flag, 2011
I was a little bit nervous about this new band, they are Carrie and Janet from Sleater-Kinney, Mary Timony from Helium, and Rebecca Cole who has been in a bunch of Portland bands. As a S-K freak, I feared I would be let down by this new band, especially with the absence of Corin Tucker, but I have been really excited with this album.  It really is S-K meets Helium, but with a dash of psychedelia  and some huge arena rock moments.

 I went to their show in S.F and it was so fun!  Carrie rocks out like Jim Morrison or Robert Plant, thrashing about and screaming and rolling on the stage.  They are my role models!

Pree, Folly, 2011

Ok, I have consciously put this album last because it just may turn out to be my favorite album of the year and may come close to blissing me out the way Joanna does.  I only got this album a few days ago, but I am totally in love.  It's weird folk/rock, with a Coco Rosie-esque sounding vocalist.  Super wobbly, nasal-ly and stylizedl.  My very favorite sounds...

Well, there you have my 10 favorite albums that I listened to in 2011.  It was a good year, I got a lot of work done, was very inspired and I have the ladies above to thank for that...

May your new year ROCK!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Not a Red and Green Color Scheme

Ho ho ho?
I do have a tad of Xmas spirit, I'm not all Grinch, but let me state for the record, December is the only time a red/green color scheme should ever be permitted. So, this past week I used shades of yellows, blues, and of course pinks as my sketchbook color scheme...

Of note: If you plan on doing any holiday air travel,  make sure to bring your Copics with you on the plane.  Sharpies and Prismas are way to stinky, and the mean lady next to you will make you will make you feel bad.

Merry and happy...!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pink, Purple, Yellow, Orange and Sometimes Black

I am sure by now it's abundantly clear that I am a hoarder of all this related to art and craft supplies.  My studio is busting at the seams with crafty materials of all kinds.  For example, how many markers does one gal really need? 

And this is just the pinks, purples, yellows and oranges!  So, after so many months of working on my Etsy store and on my home jewelry studio blog posts, I have decided to get back to basics.  Last week I cracked open a brand new sketch book and it feels good!  I have limited my palette to p,p,y,o and sometimes black.  I adore this extra girlie color scheme and think I will finish out the week in it.  Here's the pages I have done so far, in order of how I drew them...

Ok, I cheated here by adding green collaged bad.

It's been a fun week, I have been getting buzzed off of the pen fumes, which worries me some, I hate to damage anymore of my precious brain cells, but alas, we must sacrifice for our art....
Next week I change color schemes, but don't worry, it's bound to still include pink...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Home Jewelry Studio Part 6

This is the final segment on how to create your own home jewelry studio.  If you're new to this blog then you may want to go back and check out parts 1-5...

Today I am going to talk about 2 other nifty tools that will greatly increase your jewelry making abilities, and work great at home in a smaller space, and don't require any torches or soldering; a dapping block, and a disk cutter.

NOTE:  The premise behind these posts is to help folks create a safe, affordable studio and to teach skills that one could learn without a class.  I have not included soldering or using a torch.  I believe that you can do tons of amazing stuff without a torch, but there are of course some limitations.  Metal is obviously hard and doesn't bend or form easily.  In addition to soldering, a torch is great for something called annealing.  Annealing is a process of heating up your metals, (wire and sheet) to make them more malleable, less brittle, more formable.  If you have worked in wire before, you may have noticed that it feels like it's getting harder as you work with it.  It is getting harder, that's called work hardening.  Annealing will soften up your work hardened metals.

If you don't have a torch however, the best metal to work in is copper, it is the most malleable.  Then silver and brass.  Nickel is very hard and won't be much fun.  If you are just cutting and texturing is it fine, but if you want to move the metal, I would avoid nickel.

The disk cutter:  we call it Pepe

Everybody loves Pepe the disk cutter.  Infact I don't even tell my beginning students about Pepe because I want them to learn to saw rather than relying on him.  Also, it can get pretty boring seeing a bunch of circle designs all day long.  However, Pepe can come in handy and will be a great addition to your home studio.

Disk cutters come in a variety of sizes.  The Rio catalog has 3, and now that I am looking at them, they are actually pretty pricy.  The most expensive is $525!!!  The one I would get is $265, but I bet if you search around, you can even find them cheaper.

So Pepe will cut up to 11 different circles that can then be used in a variety of ways.  With these cutters, you want to use softer metals, mainly copper and silver.  You can cut nickel and brass, but it dulls the cutting edges on the punches.  I would recommend using a 20 gauge sheet or thinner when using a disk cutter.

When using a disk cutter it is best to use a brasshead mallet.  (Brass is also best when stamping)

There are tons of possibilites with using circles, and all  the stuff I have discussed in the previous posts can be applied to circles: cutting out shapes from the inside, texturing, patina, drilling or punching holes...
One of the coolest things you can do with a disk is to put it into a dapping block and begin to form it into a dome.

Steel dapping block, wood dapping block, punches and hammers.

A dapping block is a piece of steel or wood with different sized round cavities.  Punches are big steel rods with a ball on the end that we use to form the metal in the cavity.  To start, take one of your circles and place it in a big cavity, then as it forms to the cavity, move it to progressively smaller cavities.  Since your metal is un-annealed, you don't want to force it into a small cavity, it will get stuck.  With un-annealed metal, it is pretty hard to get a perfect deep dome.  You can still do lots with shallower domes however.   In general, it's a good idea to try to transform your flat metal into 3D whenever you can.

Use a steel hammer or a plastic mallet to hit the punch that is hitting the disk.

Textured copper, brass and nickel  dapped disks.

For more info and ideas on stamping and texturing and working without a torch, I highly recommend the website
Beadeducation will give you tons of info and ideas, and sells really cool stuff to stock your studio.

Finally, the coolest and most useful tool I have and no one should live without...A BRASS BRUSH

This is a brass brush.  It has soap on it...

 Whether you are making jewelry or are wearing tons of it, a brass brush is an essential object.  With all the processes I have discussed (EXCEPT HIGH POLISH!) the brass brush is the final step.  Use your dishwashing soap and some water and clean your final pieces with the brass brush for a beautiful luster-y finish.

Brass brush, dishsoap and H2O.
And, when all of your jewelry gets tarnished and dull looking, grab your brass brush and it will be beautiful in moments.  You can get one at Rio (tools and equipment, page 375) and you will wonder how you ever lived without it...

If you have any questions about anything, please let me know.  If you have any ideas you want to add about creating a home jewelry studio, we'd love to hear from you!

Student work: holes punched out with Pepe.

Student work:  Petals formed using a dapping block.