A Life of Varied Endeavors

Tag Archives: metals

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…..

August Little Altars – A feather, some brass, some copper

August Little Altars Project-3 After all the ideas and iterations that I went through, I’m not sure what inspired me for August’s Little Altars spot!  There was that feather. I kept wanting to use it, to play with it.  It’s off a larger piece of feather trim that I have, but it’s been on its own for quite a while.  More delicate and enchanting as one than among many.  And then there was the TEENY scrap of 80 mesh brass screen I found from somewhere, but couldn’t find any more, so I had to go buy some more.  Luckily, I found it in a real brick and mortar store, so my ideas could progress.

Originally, I was going to use a right-angle weave beaded heart in this month’s spot (a sweet little thing I’m still very fond of), but things evolved.  So I think what inspired me in the end was the process.  The process of evaluating my choices, listening to my aesthetic, and sensing the right and wrong and good and bad.  It was one tiny inspiration leading to another:  link, link, link.  One might ask, as my husband did, “What is it?”  I said, “It’s cute.”  Nothing more, just that I like it.

I added the little leaves because I liked the spark they provided and I had the opportunity to use them (link, link). They are cut out of copper, primed with Daniel Smith watercolor ground, and colored with watercolor. I used copper tabs on the back to fasten them. More experiments with color on metal; this one is fun.

August Little Altars-1

August Little Altars process

August Little Altars Project-2

August Little Altars

Steel Wire and Niihau Shells

Steel Wire and Niihau Shell Earrings

Steel Wire and Niihau Shell Earrings – click to enlarge

A few days ago I sold these earrings in my Etsy shop.  They are a favorite pair, and I want to mark for myself the realization that I’m accomplishing one of my goals of moving into working with metal: the joining of beadwork and metalwork.

Niihau shells are special to me because they were treated as very precious things when I was growing up in Hawaii.  Many years ago (now) I inherited a couple of Niihau shell leis and love them dearly.  But my life does not lend itself to wearing them, and I decided to take a few shells off to play with.  This is one of the results.  I’m feeling like I want to do more.