Sunday, November 28, 2010

November Blog Carnival: Book Review French Inspired Jewelry

I recently found French Inspired Jewelry, creating with vintage beads, buttons and baubles on the local book sellers shelf.  It was a "must have" for my collection. Kaari Meng, it's author, has been designing jewelry for more than 20 years using vintage glass beads that she has hunted for all over the world.  Her jewelry has grown from her love of those beautiful bits and pieces of the past.
French Inspired Jewelry is beautifully illustrated. The entire book has a vintage feel to it. You can be inspired just slowly turning the pages and looking at it's photographs of beautiful jewelry displayed with vintage ephemera.
The book is worth having for the artwork alone, but don't stop there. French Inspired jewelry contains a wealth of knowledge and helpful hints from an artist that has learned them through experience.
Kaari's  Basics chapter has the usual discussions of tools, findings, stringing supplies and techniques. The treasure of this section is the description of glass beads written by someone that values them.  Mass produced glass beads are often overlooked and even disparaged by jewelry designers. Here they are celebrated for their unique beauty and old world charm.
The remaining chapters contain projects. Some are standard and some unique. All are beautiful. My favorite part? They are presented according to a specific palette. This author makes me want to sort my beads by color!
La Mer shows a love of the Mediterranean Sea represented by turquoise blue, coral and white.  Le Marche shares the beauty of fresh fruits and bright flower blossoms. Le Cirque is a riot of color. La Volie're, Le Vigne and Le Jardin rejoice in bold and natural pigments. The designs laid out in Le Chateau are worthy of French atistocracy.
Please don't think me morbid but my favorite chapter is the last, La Cimetiere. The jewelry designs pictured there share a subdued monochromatic palette that is soft and pleasing to the eye. The use of vintage religious medals in this chapter gave me the courage to dig out the ones that I had been saving and to use them in charm bracelets of my own.
Every chapter of French Inspired Jewelry has design tips from how to clean old glass and millinary supplies, to setting up your workspace. The author is generous in her descriptions of favorite materials and how to find them. I somehow think that for Kaari Meng that search is an enjoyable adventure.

The topic of Book Reviews was chosen as the Starving Artists Team's Blog Carnival post for the month of November. Read how other members felt about the subject.


Northern Girl

Bead Sophisticate

Island Girl

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lonely No More

Every jewelry box has a sad little collection hidden away in it. Broken chains, stones that have slipped their bezels and lonely earrings gather together useless but too beautiful to discard. It is my mission to free them from their prison and give them new life.
To see more Salvage jewelry by TheFamiLeeJewels visit:

Salvage Rose Cocktail Ring made from a lonely earring.

Salvage Sun Ring made from a lost button.

Salvage Cocktail Ring made from a tangled necklace.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Felix or Oscar What is your work style?

I am organized and methodical in many aspects of my life. Nursing in a Critical Care area demands it. Raising a family while working full time makes one list oriented and task efficient.

But when the brain shifts to the right side and my artistic side takes over I start to channel Oscar Madison.
My studio is a mess. There are two  6 foot bookshelves in the room with beads, books and magazines organized on them.
There is a 4 foot table in front of these shelves with all of my salvage and found object bits laying on it so that I can see them, fondle them and pile them in likely combinations whenever the mood strikes. I must crawl underneath this table to locate a specific book or magazine on the shelf.

A repurposed computer  desk holds the Dremel with Flex Shaft and a stand that converts it into a drill press. The desk has neatly labeled drawers, open shelves and file cabinets.
The desk usually sports a fine layer of sawdust or metal filings depending on the project last completed.

The workbench provides a wonderful surface for hammering, etching, saw cutting and using chemicals for patinas.
One must move several trays of "works in progress" and stacks of magazines to discover the bench top.

The 10x10 studio also contains a rolling cart that serves as shipping center a small encyclopedia bookcase that holds the rock tumbler and ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, a tall wooden cart that holds a photo cube, and a two drawer filing cabinet.
These remain surprisingly neat.
We will not discuss the closet.
It sounds cluttered and confusing but my artistic mind thrives in the seeming chaos. I recently found a quote that says it all.
3 Rules of Work:
Out of clutter find simplicity;
Out of discord find harmony;
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
                 Albert Einstein

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Focus on: Mark Stowe

Mark's signature piece, a silver dragonfly
This weeks feature article showcases the talent of  jewelry artist and fellow upstate New york resident, my neighbor to the North, Mark Stowe. Mark is etsy artist  SilverDragonfly8.

Mark's passion for art and jewelry design began at a young age "back in the late 60’s with bending up my Mom’s silverware into spoon rings & bracelets for perspective girlfriends."

Mark's biggest fan Kathy says about his work "Mark's items are all hand crafted, by his own hands, in his own off the grid studio. He has 30 years of experience. He cuts his own stones. Each one is unique and extraordinary. His settings are creative, sturdy and elegant. The dragonfly is his signature design, and he is very diversified as well. He features many opals, jasper's, garnets, lapis, rubies and diamonds. His training is in traditional heirloom jewelry and he uses his unique, spontaneous response to the materials to create his own contemporary Art Nouveau inspired style."

Tiny Madonna sculpture from a Lake Champlain pebble by SilverDragonfly8

Mark's combinations of stone and metal and unique designs are beautiful to behold. Many of them feature a form of the piece that inspired him, a dragonfly. My favorite items in his shop however are the rustic sculptures that he fashions from smooth Lake Champlain pebbles. Each is a tiny expressive work of art reminiscent of the Moai of Easter Island.

Sterling Silver Spiral Ring by SilverDragonfly8

Mark's own words describe his passion for  art the best:

"to create beauty where there appears to be none. So often in life we miss the most beautiful things right in front of our eyes. Were it not for the artist, the teacher or the challenge, we might not stop and really see the things which bring peace and joy into our lives. I see a whimsical face in a beach pebble. A dragonfly lands on a woman’s hat. I see a moon rising in the shapes inside a piece of stone. I would like to share that wonder. I derive a feeling of worth when I’ve created, with these hands, a piece of jewelry that becomes someone’s special and cherished gift."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Focus on: Art Snark

Stacey Merrill is an etsy seller and fellow Etsy Holiday Bootcamper who creates and sells "Art and objects for the eclectic soul" under the name of Art Snark's Artifacts.  Her unusual shop is full of fanciful work with a Victorian Steampunk style. She works in several mediums including photography, jewelry design, and ACEO. Stacey says that she has always been eccentric, and that her life full of odd jobs, interesting travel and unusual characters has found its expression through her art.
My current favorite piece in her shop is a pocket watch shrine called The Mysterious Case of Dr. Varulv.  It is an imaginative artifact and definitely one of a kind.
Art Snark and I share of love of found objects, steampunk design and being the most happy when our "hands and minds are working together".
I asked Stacey what inspires her to create and she responded by saying "A love of looking - I'm obsessed with shape & texture, and how the light falls on an object. I also have a habit of looking at something & imagining what it could become. My husband just shakes his head at whatever odd scraps I'm hauling home."
You can see more of Stacey's work and read about her artistic process on her Blog Artsnark's Artifacts Art and Musings for the Eclectic Soul.