A Life of Varied Endeavors

Tag Archives: copper

Kathy D’s Message in a Bottle

Message in a BottleFor November’s Little Altars installment, Kathy D. created a Message in a Bottle to send to me. She attached a little bottle to an accordion-folded card that holds several stories about “messages in a bottle” in history.

Kathy s Message in a Bottle

Click on the images to enlarge (and see the full poem)

In the bottle, she sent a poem she adapted and named “How to Be an Artist”. Since several people in the Project wanted to see the poem, and because it’s quite a bugger to get in and out of the bottle (how did you do that, Kathy?), I scanned the poem and am posting it so all can see.

What a great idea. As I mentioned on Peg’s blog, I need all the help and guidance I can get.  Fortunately I already collect rocks, but it looks like I’ll have to try a few other things.

P.S. It took me many tries and some new engineering to make this message “removable and replaceable.” I ended up wrapping the poem on a length of tiny copper tubing, and gluing a bead with a cord to the end of the tubing. It’s now skinnier, but still a challenge!

Painting the Spirit


Prepping copper – blank slate


I’m reading a book by Ellen Eagle: Pastel Painting Atelier.  It’s lovely to read and beautiful to look at (even if I am looking at it on an iPad.) I plan on saying more about it later, as it is full of beautiful insights.  Her paintings touch me deeply. Her writing is  beautiful.

Recently, Tina Koyama posted two sketches she did, and mused that one of them seemed to capture her subject’s essence, while the other didn’t.  I thought of that when I read Ellen Eagle’s book.  In discussing genres, she says (my excerpt),

“No matter what genre an artist works in, the task at hand is to weave a seamless fabric of form and content.  The content is the feeling that stirs within the artist, inspired by the subject. The form is the shape the artist finds to convey the vibration of feeling.  …. The way the artist orders the shapes and color conveys the spirit of the event and the relationship of the parts to the whole.  A great painter is always painting the spirit.”

A small copper piece to hold

Copper leaf pattern

Copper leaf pattern

Earlier this year I took a  workshop ( my second) given by Candace Beardslee at Pratt Fine Arts Center.  She teaches chasing and repousse using small Japanese chasing tools called dashitagane.  My experience this time was that I was finally getting the hang of using these tools, and I love them.

Dashitagane are small steel tools that give me the ability to do things with chasing and repousse that I could never accomplish with the usual chasing punches and tools.  For me, that means making small lines, shapes, and textures:  more refined and delicate and “intended” than with other chasing tools.

This time, inspired by the amazing work of Julie Blyfield, I started with an idea about making something I thought I’d really like (for a change – I’m usually not too fond of a lot of flat chasing and repousse pieces, especially beginners’ work like my own).

I really didn’t know where this piece would end up. In fact, where it ended up wasn’t revealed until the last “fold”.  The picture above shows the pattern I started with, in a flat sheet of copper (probably 22 gauge).  Below is the result.  A small, rounded object, folded and shaped, lots of texture inside and out.  It’s about an inch and a half in all directions (4cm).  Feels good to hold, feeding ideas for other things…..

My alcohol ink pals

Alcohol Ink Cast of Players

Over the last couple of years I’ve been using some alcohol inks on certain jewelry items.  I’m currently doing some real-world testing on finishes that I hope will seal the ink and keep it from fading or wearing off the metal.  As this process continues, I still enjoy looking at my color samples arranged on display.  Sort of a styrofoam cake of my entire cast of characters.  The alcohol inks are nice in their pure colors, and nice when gently combined.  I’m also enjoying taking the color off with a steel brush wheel, and starting over with a fresh surface.  Works in process.

Etching a Copper Label for Little Altar – don’t use Word directly

Little Altars Etched Label-0294

I haven’t etched for a while, even though I’ve wanted to. I have more time already (this “retirement” thing!), so I have made a copper label for the Little Altars project. Didn’t finish in time for the first Full Moon Date. I have plans to try a second version, and I hope to revise the patina on this one with a new oxidising product I have on order, but I’m pleased so far.

The big lesson here is the pixelation of my image that created little pin holes in the resist.  You can see the pin holes in the picture above, even more than in real life – they make the image above look grainy.

In Word, I made a reverse-type label with a black border (I found the helpful instructions on this through a Google search.)  The image is below. Then I printed the Word document on pnp paper through a laser printer.  It turns out that the really black, black, black you see below is just a large collection of black pixels to the pnp paper – and apparently not enough toner bleed to close the gaps between them.  I’ve never had this issue when going from art work to pnp.  So in the future, I won’t go straight from Word to pnp paper. I’ll try printing the document first, and then photocopying onto pnp.

In Word, I prepared a reverse of the label so only the letters would etch out

In Word, I prepared a reverse of the label so only the letters would etch out