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Celtic Chasing in Ireland

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In August I traveled to Ireland to take a class in Celtic chasing with Brian Clarke. He is a world renowned silversmith who in the past has taught classes all over North America. However nowadays  if you want to take a class with him it requires a trip to his studio in Ballinaclash, Co Wicklow. He teaches 3 one week classes per year, all in the month of August. I felt very lucky to get one of four spaces in the class. I learned about Brian from my friend and teacher Bill Dawson of Mud Bay, WA who has been to Brian’s twice before for classes and study.

IMG_20140808_090353224_HDRBrian’s studio aka The Old School House

I stayed in the nearby  village of Rathdrum. A small town with two butcher shops, seven pubs, (not all currently open) a post office, druggist, small grocery store, two bookie shops, two takeaway shops, (one Chinese, the other fish&chips) two B&B’s, and two Churches on either end of the main drag. Also a beautiful park.

IMG_20140804_072308931_HDR Main Street, RathdrumIMG_20140804_072538315 storefront window display

IMG_20140803_163312254beautiful water main hole covers along the sidewalks!

moores
Moores Family Butcher Shop. I suggested they have t shirts printed with their logo for tourists like me to buy-I got a bemused smile in return….

IMG_20140804_073147758 The Stirabout Inn offered a full Irish breakfast, cooked to order by inn proprietor Daphne. She even picked me up at the train station when I arrived from Dublin. A true home away from home!

Meanwhile, back at the schoolhouse:

We were learning top down chasing-an ancient technique using various metal punches and a hammer to create a dimensional design on the surface of metal. The metal (copper) was stuck into a bowl of warm tree pitch. when the pitch cools it holds the metal firmly as it is hammered.

Two examples of top down chasing by Brian

brians chased design 2

brians chased design

Beginning the first project:

 

IMG_20140804_144602720_HDR The first project was to chase a concentric circle design in copper. First an outline is chased…

IMG_20140806_162247913 Brian positioning a metal punch onto the copper.brain demoanother view

 

heating pitch

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Brian demonstrating heating the pitch (carefully) with a torch until soft, then embedding copper into it. He is using a cold metal tool to apply pressure so no air pockets form beneath the copper( the pitch doesn’t want to stick to cold metal.) The heated pitch has a wonderful pine smell!

We worked steadily, the sound of metal tapping forming a hypnotic rhythm, silenced  only for occasional breaks for biscuits and tea or coffee. The breaks gave our fingers a chance to rest-this is pretty intense stuff. (Pushing through the hours was a good thing-my left thumb went from soreness to numbness after a day or two…) Everyday around 1:00 the class stopped for a lunch at Brian’s house. His beautiful wife Yvonne prepared  delicious meals and joined us at the table for some great conversations.

Back to the studio:

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Brian’s wall of hammers

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tree stump work stations (not for our class)

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My third project, a Celtic knot, in progress measures about 4×4 inches

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To remove the piece, the pitch is heated up again and metal is lifted out. Sometimes a cool design imprint  is left in the pitch, like this one…

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The metal is carefully flattened on a sandbag to even out the edges. It can be remounted into pitch for further refinement or reshaped, patined, or polished as a finished piece.

The “commute”to Rathdrum:

I took this snap from the passenger seat of my classmate’s Porsche-funny to be passing a horse and wagon on the highway!

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Other nearby sightings:

IMG_20140806_181956693_HDR Roadside shrine

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The nearby Wicklow Mountains were once home and hideout to Ireland’s rebel fighters:

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I was taken to the mountains after class one night by Liz and Trevor, friends of friends back home. They pointed out some of the sights along the way as the sun was setting. We had a delicious dinner at the historic Glenmalure Lodge. One of the best sights there was a ninety year old retired sheep farmer named Jim, playing cards with a table of ladies. They used matchsticks to keep score. Apparently he comes there every night!

old jim

 

 

Back to the Schoolhouse:IMG_20140808_143516425

Brian gave a toolmaking demo, using old tool steel an (allyn wrench) to make a liner punch…

 

chasing tool

Two different types of puncheschasing tool 2

Basically punches are used to create lines or texture. Brian said he could get by with seven different punches, however his studio has thousands of them!

Some of our finished projects after five days of class:

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IMG_20140808_170619409 Fellow classmates (minus one) and teacher…

dragon cloud

As I rode the train back to Dublin Friday night, I knew the trip had been worth it in so many ways-too many to put into words right now…Since returning home I have been putting the lessons learned into practice.

Here is a recent piece, chased in silver:

silver spiral earrings

A few pictures from Dublin before we part:

IMG_20140802_135221527 National Museum

 

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The Brazen Head-Ireland’s oldest pub-it came highly recommended  and did not disappoint!

 

IMG_20140803_114031631_HDRPeople watching…

IMG_20140801_165432244Temple Bar district on a bank holiday weekend- it is rather quiet during the daytime hours.

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Until next time-Cheers!

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Sea Glass

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I dreamed last night that I was on an English beach with my mother and sister. The tide was coming in, but I took a quick look on the beach and instantly found two fist- size pieces of sea glass. Both were globular shaped with blue stripes and frosty pitted surfaces. On the ground at my feet were sea marbles sitting on top of the pebbles. I picked those up and some smaller deep blue pieces of glass. Went back to get my mom and sister to join me…

I had planned to start writing about my recent trip to Ireland and England in chronological order-starting with Ireland, where I took a metal smithing workshop with Brian Clarke, and then a second post about hunting sea glass on the NE coast of England. After last night’s dream, I am changing that.  I rarely dream about my mother. She has been dead for twenty years now. But everything was so vivid in that dream-sharing my excitement with her at finding the sea glass made everything fresh again-so here goes….

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First off, I have to say that the sea glass was not easy to find. Also-as I tell my tale, the names and locations of the beaches visited will not be revealed!

I have been buying Victorian era sea glass and using it in the jewelry I make for years now. The glass is found on the NE coast of England and Scotland. It was once factory waste from the many glass manufacturing plants along the coast. Over the years of buying glass from a few collectors who live along the beaches there, I became especially friendly with a woman named Jane-(aka Jazomir sea glass.) We seemed to share certain things in common, and struck up an online friendship through Facebook. Jane generously offered to host me should I make a trip out to her part of the world. (In preparation for this, I developed a taste for Newcastle Brown Ale…)

newkie brown aka Newkie Brown

Last month, I flew from Dublin to Newcastle, and Jane met me at the airport. Thus began my up close and personal introduction to the world and culture of English sea glass. I saw some of the collectors I knew from online  sites like Esty, Ebay and Pinterest, strolling the beaches in search of glass. It was a true Who’s Who of sea glass folk..it was almost dream like to see names connect to actual people, many not at all as I had envisioned.

hunters note the sea glass stance-it makes for a sore neck after hours of this on chilly beaches!

 

At a party that night at Jane’s house, I met the Queen of Sea Glass herself, Laurel , She brought a gift to me of a huge champagne colored orb of sea glass, larger than the palm of my hand. Laurel has been collecting sea glass on the local beaches for twenty years, and has coined a lot of the terms used to describe its many shapes and forms. There are also highly specific names for colors, as I was to learn…

But more than the physical properties of sea glass, there is a philosophy to collecting-at least according to Laurel. She abhors those who use sticks to poke through the deep layers of pebbles to uncover glass as it causes damage. She holds those who actively seek it by sitting down on a pile of rocks and covering every inch with distaste. Laurel’s method is to stroll down the beach at a reasonable clip, letting the glass catch her eye. It finds HER.

Laurel’s tiny dog, Pepper, is also good at finding glass-as are Jane’s two border terriers, Poppy and Levi…They both laughed about the times when cleaning up after their dogs they find an especially fine piece of glass that they hadn’t noticed earlier.

levi    Levi (with rock in mouth) Heidi

Another huge no no is to name the beaches where glass is found. Laurel joked about blindfolding me before going to a very private beach, but it wasn’t ALL joking. The popularity of English sea glass has created a market  and determined collectors who are out rain or shine to harvest sea glass and sell it for ever rising prices. The old timers say it is not as easy to find, and lets face it, there is no more dumping of glass factory waste to create a new supply. The average time glass has been tumbling on the rocky shore there is about one hundred years or so.

As a beginner, I saw white and green glass on occasion, while next to me, Jane would pick up a beautiful multi colored purple and blue piece, or a sea marble. Jane said that you learn to filter out the extraneous things like rocks- and see the glass. I was absolutely thrilled to find a small rose colored piece-a rare color indeed, raising a heartfelt “well done!” from Jane instead of her sweet “that’s nice” response to my previous finds of green and aqua shards.

jane Jane

sea marble a sea marble-as found on rocks

me first marble On my last day I found my first sea marble!

The next day we went to the secret beach, lets call it Hex beach. Earlier that morning we had been to two other more popular beaches. We walked about 45 minutes through beautiful fields overlooking the beaches to get to the trail approach. As the low tide was nearly over, we knew there wouldn’t be a lot of time to spend on this beach. You had to wind around  rocky outcrops which lead to a series of small beaches. At high tide it would not be possible to get around those rocks. If we did get stuck by the tide, there was an escape route that Jane knew about-an almost vertical goat trail leading up the muddy cliff side. I did not fancy taking that route!

Mythical stories of finding treasure in secret coves or caves as hot lava flows or angry gods approach were going through my mind as every beach led to more incredible sea glass. With one eye on the tide and the other on the ground, I enjoyed the thrill of knowing how close we were cutting it. It was raining and I was thoroughly drenched but didn’t even realize it!

As we timed our way back around the rocks to the brief ceding of wave motion, I knew the thrill and sport of extreme sea glass hunting! (okay, others would argue that diving off the N California coast is the true extreme sea glass hunting, but I will NEVER be doing that)

jane mud prints Jane looking smashing in her mud printed leggings, as we climb off the beach.

I brought along some finished pieces of jewelry with the intention of photographing them on the beaches where the sea glass was found-a full circle, if you will..

Here are a few photos:

pink sea candy pink sea candy ring

saltwater ring england Salt Water ring

IMG_20140811_102245724 Infinity ring

IMG_20140811_110140619_HDR Gauntlet cuff

trevors beach Trevor’s Beach

I must say that the genuine friendliness that Jane, her husband Trevor (aka Ocean Wanderer on Etsy) and their family showed to me was something i will always treasure. We made a real connection via our love of the ocean and  sea glass. We discovered we also shared a love of gangster films (thanks for introducing me to British gangster genre, Trev) good food and drink, music and so much more.

After four days of beach combing, it was time to say goodbye…I never did make it to the local museum which would have given me more information about the area’s industrial roots in coal mining, glass making and more. Guess that means I will have to make another trip….

As Jane and I sat in the Newcastle airport, sipping cappuccinos and  spending a few  minutes together before I boarded for London (my suitcase loaded with sea glass and rocks) we vowed to meet up next summer and take a road trip to Scotland. I will drink to that!me Cheers!

Trippen

labrynth garnet earrings detail Chartres Labyrinth earrings, photo by Marcy Merrill

It seems somehow appropriate to start this  post with an image of recently completed earrings. They represent the sum of my explorations into etching and using Japanese patina on shibuichi alloy-and the image of the Labyrinth, which is etched on the metal surface, is highly symbolic of my own creative quest.

Long used in spiritual rituals world wide, labyrinths can be walked or danced, representing an initiation-a transformative, mysterious and universal awakening into a “universe larger than our inspirations, richer and more complex than all our dreams-it is the call of the larger cycle, the dance of the larger life.”-Helen Curry

labyrinth eaaling st marys

The long anticipated journey to Ireland and England begins this week! I am beyond excited at the thought of exploring Dublin, taking a week long workshop in Celtic Chasing with Brian Clarke, and meeting my sea glass friend Jane  in Newcastle, England. The timing for hunting sea glass couldn’t be better, as it coincides with a Super full moon on August 9th (this wasn’t intentionally planned by me-or was it?!)

I will be taking an assortment of sea glass jewelry with the plan to shoot it on the beaches in England where the glass was found. To see some stunning photography of these beaches, check out the link of photographer Ray Etchells.

Here are some shots of recent work  taken by my dear friend Marcy Merrill in her North Cove Washington studio:

sea candy collection 2 Sea Candy rings in rare shades of Victorian era sea glass with reticulated silver, 22kt gold and small diamonds.

sea candy blue 2sa

bee coin ring ancient Greek coin with honey bee, circa 350 B.C.

labrinyth earring turqs

Labyrinth shield earrings-etched shibuichi with 22kt gold rivets and turquoise.

And…here are two shots from Spring and Summer2014 as featured by Kucoon Designs, Los Angeles:

!cid_C9027FF2-5E8C-4DC6-B7A0-1B4686DD048E@socal_rrCrusader Cuffs-etched copper with sea glass and moonstones, photo by Daniel Jung

kucoon burning man

If you would like to see photos of my adventures, check out my facebook page for updates when on the road-unless that is, I decide to unplug until my return!

In the Good Old Summertime

gothtini

Summer began with a family visit that is still partially going on…this post will be brief in words ( I think) but hopefully show through photos that which has been keeping me so busy that I haven’t had time to share much via my blog recently. In the last post I was preparing for my Los Angleles based family to arrive for an extended stay. My brother Joey, his girlfriend Amy Jo and her 13 year old son, Jaydon made the trek to the great Northwest by car with our 85 year old father as their precious cargo. Joey likened the 1200 mile  trip as a cross between the films The Long Long Trailer and The Grapes of Wrath…

wrath

Arriving safely, we began a very pleasant round of  barbequed meals, beach walks, playing guitars, campfires,  movie watching,  and two visits to Astoria and Cannon Beach, Oregon. And yes, summer rain just for the Angelenos!

astoria rain ecola beach 2 Ecola Beach, Oregon

On our small island in Tokeland, Joey found an old bottle with cork intact. In raised lettering on the front side of the bottle is the inscription:  “Dr. Price’s Delicious Flavoring Extracts”.

dr price bottle

After some internet-searching, we discovered that Dr. Price was the inventor of baking powder. He patented a line of flavoring extracts at the turn of the century (1910-1915). There were flavors like cherry, vanilla, orange etc. We also learned that Dr. Price was the grandfather of the actor Vincent Price. As with most beach finds, there is no clear answer as to how that bottle ended up in such pristine condition on our beach-where had it been all these years? Is the caramel colored liquid inside it the remains of an original delicious flavoring? We decided to leave it corked-for now….

vincent p(Vincent Price)

 

During this time I continued to work a few hours every day in the studio, preparing for two trunk shows in the same week. My good friend Jeffro modified some beach-salvaged wood stumps to create workstations for metal smithing. I can work comfortably at standing, sitting or kneeling positions. As I am preparing for my Celtic Chasing class in Ireland in August, this is perfect for having a good place to practice before the workshop begins.

work stations 2 workstaions3

Before the trunk shows I wanted to get some photos of just finished pieces. Amy Jo was an inspiring model/ collaborator for the shoot…

Summer Solstice Photos

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131solsctice earrings

blue set

sky cuff

moonstone necklace amy

I am going to close this with one family photo and the promise to keep in touch as the summer progresses. I hope that  you have some time to reconnect with those that bring you joy, some time for solitude, and plenty of adventures!

summer bbq

Seeds of Summer

 

1956 The Bad Seed McCormack The Bad Seed 1956-there is a tie in to this teaser photo-just keep reading…

 

The past month has been one of seasonal (and personal ) transition. As the days are getting longer and warmer we prepare  for the setting in motion of ideas, goals and long held dreams…

To start with the most literal: This week the kids and I  planted our vegetable  garden. This always take longer than expected-weeding and digging, waiting out the rainy weeks and digging some more.

garden 2014Sophia (my very own Bad Seed) and Bud, planting a row of sweet peas in a small corner of the garden plot

This year we have expanded the size of the garden area because my dad is coming up from Southern California to spend the summer with us. He is 85 years old, in good health and has loved gardening his whole life. The big plan is for him to relocate permanently nearby-and the garden is one of ways we are hoping to entice him to stay beyond September. My theory: If an older person has more family interaction and social stimulation their aging process may be reversed to some degree. He still has a lot to contribute and has said he will probably live for another 15 years. So let’s keep him busy and off the streets!

Other exciting news: I have bought my plane tickets and am traveling to Ireland and England for two weeks in August. In Ireland I will be taking a workshop with renowned silversmith Brian Clarke. The class is called Celtic Chasing. Chasing is an ancient technique used to achieve a dimensional or sculptural relief on the surface of metal. I can only imagine how this will expand the direction of my jewelry…

banner9example of Celtic chasing by Brian Clarke

Following the workshop I will travel to the NE coast of England to visit with my sea glass friend Jane and her family. This is going to be a dream come true-to hang with some cool English folk and actually get to set foot on some of the beaches where the sea glass is found! (Not to mention being taken to the Workingman’s club) I plan to drink some Newcastle Brown Ale in Newcastle  and hopefully find a few treasures on the beach to take home with me. And of course, gather memories that will last forever!

ne coast of england Jane’s beach (which shall be nameless)

The photo below shows some larger size sea glass specimens from the NE coast of England. These are pieces I have bought and kept just to look at…there is also a fossilized clam from our area in the group.

sea glass and clam

And here are some recent jewelry pieces made with English sea glass:

 

sea glass stopper ring

Bottle stopper fragment set in ancient style ring band-photo by Marcy Merrill

green sea glass ring marcyprong set seaglass marcyProng set sea glass with etched copper and silver-photo by Marcy Merrill

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

jaws marquis

There is a much loved and recently renovated theater (vintage 1929) in the city of Hoquiam. (about 35 miles from where we live.)  It plays classic films and hosts live performances on occasion. I never miss a chance to take my kids and their friends to see films like The Bad Seed, (as pictured at header) Them, The Wizard of Oz, The Planet of the Apes, Psycho, La Cage Aux Folles (with live drag show!) and The Sound of Music. Last weekend we saw JAWS on the big screen. I remember standing in line to see this movie when it was first released in the summer of 1975. How fun to revisit it again on the big screen with my own kids-a rite of passage as summer (and swimming) approach!

jaws selfieL-R Leah (good friend) my son Raleigh and me…

Only a few weeks left of school for the kids-as for me-I am working daily in the studio and enjoying this last bit of solitude.

 

faceted marble ring marcy Something new: ancient style ring design with faceted cat’s eye marble-Marcy Merrill photo

In Closing….

spring sunset

As  family visits and international travel loom, I promise to keep you updated on all of the above-it should be an interesting summer. I hope you have some great adventures planned as well (and that they do not include winning a penmanship medal!)

Five Minutes

ultra violet ring chryspprase earrings

Spring has definitely arrived on the NW coast, and with it, our annual Tokeland Studio Tour. This year it is Saturday April 19th from 10:00-5:00 PM. There will be three art studios open including my friend Jeffro, Knock on Wood. A variety of area artist showing in the lobby of the historic Tokeland Hotel, and the Shoalwater Bay Tribe will have a display of work from their apprentice carvers program.

The Daily Astorian recently published an interview with me about my work, inspriation, and processes-if you care to take a look, click on the link….

http://www.coastweekend.com/arts/five-minutes-with-judith-altruda/article_02985d70-bac5-11e3-b73c-001a4bcf887a.html

Will close this post with a sampling of recent pieces to be debuted at the tour this weekend.

HAPPY SPRING!!!

salt water blue diamond

amazonite shi earringsstarburst earrings shi cuff

mer maid rocks

flame two

 

This is the City

crooked way 1949

The Crooked Way 1947

“Los Angeles, California. I was working the day watch out of Homicide…”

Recently I was in the City of Angels for a ten day visit. It was timed to coincide with the annual LA Vintage Pulp and Paperback Show and the Noir City film festival in Hollywood. My brother Joey and his gal Amy Jo were my hosts for two fun filled, action packed weekends. Better than a trip to Disneyland was walking the streets of downtown LA…finding both well known and more obscure locations for the films and  television shows we grew up watching in the pre-cable days in Southern California (when there were six television channels to choose from!

Other highlights from the trip include an art show in Chinatown, vintage shopping in old town Burbank, exploring the neighborhood of Silverlake, walks along the Los Angeles River Trail and visits to Olvera Street and Little Tokyo.

Oh yes, and waking up my first morning in Los Angeles to a 4.3 earthquake….

121                    Chinatown with full moon over head- perfect night for an art walk!

I was lucky to be in town for the opening of A Better Home For Quiet Wolf-a solo show by MatJames Metson. His assemblages are mysterious and haunting. Turn of the century portraiture is combined with obsessively worked elements like numbers, old letters, seeds and nails, wrapped objects and much more. I found it disturbing in a pleasant way-like visiting the Winchester House… The show is hosted by  Coagula Curatorial and runs through April 12th.

 

matjames-metson-bodycopy  coagula chairStudio shot of MatJames at work (and wearing one of my rings!)

Doug Harvey had an exhibit of found moldy slides with a soundtrack at the Jancar Gallery. The slides were found in the trash of the Edendale Hoarder. Some had molded or scratched, most dated from the 1970s. (Click on the link to read the detailed story of his amazing horder find and what he did with it!)

 

 doug harvey gondola

The next day, Joey and I headed out to Glendale for the Vintage Pulp and Paperback show…
There were paperbacks of every description and value, from one dollar copies of Rosemary’s Baby and The Godfather to plastic-encased rarities from the early days of paperback publishing.

homocide hussy              127

There was sheet music, stacks of Confidential Magazines, and even a rare Dragnet Script from the 1950’s radio show…

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One of our favorite vendors, Terry, claimed he had a tie that belonged to Jack Webb. It was in his van out in the parking lot. He promised to try and find it when he had a break. Joey and I waited around for a long time but never did get to see it…

123 Terry (in the hat) helping a customer

We did however purchase quite a few treasures from him and others…

 

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Other highlights from my trip:

Los Angeles River Walk

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The Los Angeles River flows 51 miles through the nation’s second-largest urban region. The Los Angeles River Trail helps to tell the story of the founding of Los Angeles.  Due to flooding in the 1930’s the river bed was channelized in concrete making it a perfect film locale for car chases and a home to giant post- nuclear ants in THEM! It is a sanctuary for birds and wildlife, also habitat to many abandoned shopping carts…

them_poster_02

And then there’s downtown:

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Olvera Street…Suddenly I had to find the perfect pair of Hurraches, and brother Joey was along for the ride…

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I did find my Hurraches with the tire tread soles and after a quick taco we were off to Little Tokyo.

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After a quick gyoza we were off to beautiful downtown Burbank…

Shopping in the many vintage shops was a great way to pass an afternoon. There is a store called “It’s A Wrap” that sells wardrobe clothing from film and television shows, many have never been worn. They are arranged on racks with the film or TV show listed-Breaking Bad had many non descript looking button down long sleeve mens shirts-just Walter White’s style.

 

         102          swizel

We found a bundle of cocktail swizzle sticks circa 1960’s. As children we fawned over these plastic sparkly canes with miniature whistles from our father’s cocktail accoutrements… Joey paid $35.00 for set of these in NYC-and it was missing one of the colors… We bought this bundle for five dollars-SCORE!

146 Unicorns Happen-Sunset blvd in Echo Park

My last night in town, we had planned to attend the opening of Noir City at the Egyptian theater in Hollywood. A fully restored version of Too Late For Tears was the feature, with a special salute to Dan Duryea. Who would have guessed that all tickets were sold out days in advance? We were just too late for tears…

Too_Late_for_tears-Title  Too Late For Tears 1

Plucky souls that we are, we still went to Hollywood….


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Hollywood Boulevard with Joey and Amy…Graumans Chinese and Ginger Rogers footprints

hollywood march 2014

#selfieswithmybesties @ Grauman’s Chinese-Hurray for Hollywood~

Back home now and making the adjustment from ninety degree temps to the breezy and wet Pacific Northwest. Enjoying the beauty of our local beaches again, but missing the shopping carts…

Till next time-Adios!

Patina Envy

 

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This winter I have been on a quest for patina. Patina is a tarnish that forms on metals such as copper, bronze or other like alloys after exposure to oxygen, rain, salt and other natural elements over a long period of time. It causes iron to rust and sometimes produces shades of green coloring in copper.

My goal was to coax  color development in metal  that is evocative of timeworn surfaces. To produce a texture and finish that works in harmony with the design  of my jewelry. Easier said than done…

 

Several years ago, I bought a book about Japanese patina methods. I made some attempts to patina shibuichi-an alloy of copper and silver that was once used for Samurai sword decoration. The results were pretty uninteresting. Maybe I didn’t have enough patience or time to invest in experimentation. (ya think?) Perhaps I was expecting to get results in a hurry (no comment.) In any case, I packed up the supplies and equipment and put it away for another time…

spanish door  door key hole

Inspirational (and metaphorical) examples of patina, doors and keyholes…..

Japanese patina trials part two:

This winter I brought out the box of supplies, re read the book Japanese Patinas by Eitoku Sugimori and decided to give it another go. This time with full surrender to the experimental process and all the mystery that accompanies it. This time with patience.

Before you can try out any of the recipes you must have a copper pot. Any other metal with interact with the chemicals used for patina. A glass pot would be an okay substitute, but the copper imparts something extra  to the coloring process.

Finding an all copper pot isn’t as easy as one might think. After scouring the internet  (they were either very expensive or lined in tin,) I mentioned the search to my sister. She was getting ready to take a load of stuff to the Goodwill-including our grandmother’s fondue set, which was all copper. Perfect timing!

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Once word got out that I was on the lookout for a copper pot, two other friends donated to the cause. Now I have three pots in handy sizes. The photo shows them after patina usage, with chemical residue building up inside. This residue strengthens the next batch of patina-it it sort of like seasoning a pan. FYI: the name patina is derived from the Latin for “shallow dish.”

 

Sakurajima_daikon

After ordering copper sulfate and rokuso (a Japanese chemical used in some of the recipes) I had to get some daikon radish. This is part of the traditional process. It is grated and applied to the clean metal just prior to immersion in the patina bath.

Of course, before this can happen, the jewelry piece must be in a near finished state. All forming and soldering completed. There is no going back after the patina bath-except to start the process all over again. If using stones, the setting of these takes place after the patina, being very careful not to mar the surface. The cuff in the patina bath below has been etched (see my January2014 post to learn about that process) formed, had rivets applied and bezels for stones soldered in place.

006  witches brew

This cuff is made from shibuichi consisting of mostly copper alloyed with silver.It can be purchased with amounts of silver content ranging from 25%, 15% or 5%. I decided to try all three and take careful notes on the differences. I am not going to transcribe my notes here-but rather show with photos the alchemical journey…I was trying out a layered patina.This is a multi step process. First, a foundation layer of patina is applied by immersing the object into near boiling Niage solution. This can create colors ranging from straw to silver grey to browns. It depends on the metal content and a lot of variables. I had no idea how much time it might take, it doesn’t specify in the book. When I decided the color was not changing any more, I removed it from the pan and rinsed.

The second part of the process involves fuming the piece. A mixture of ammonia, salt and vinegar can be used, brushing it on the piece and enclosing in a glass jar

 

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This produces a blue green color in crevices and craggy spots.

Athena-Goddess of Patina

The above piece changed a lot during this part of the experiment. I went from loving it to hating it. From bliss to despair. Deciding there was nothing to lose, I rinsed it, burned off the surface color and started over. It is still in a fuming jar as I write this. At about this time I realized that there must be a god of patina. And I needed to make a request before trying again. To ask for a little guidance and oversight (or insight!) My searches brought me back to Athena-Goddess of arts, craft, wisdom, war and metal. The rest is between me and her…

Some of the first pieces:

textile cuff wide 2   textile cuff wide

This cuff is shibuichi with  etched Japanese textile pattern, silver rivets and amazonite set in 18kt gold. It is 3 inches wide. It has a coat of wax rubbed into the surface to protect the patina and finish.

shi cuff narrow  shi raindrop cuff 2

These two are also shibuichi, variations on a theme..the one on the left has 22kt gold rivets and a diamond in the center. It is one inch wide. The one on the right has 22kt gold rivets, and a piece of Victorian era sea glass set in 22kt gold. It is two inches wide.

shi sheild earrings aventurine  tidepool dia ring

The earrings are shi as well, but a higher silver content, They were more challenging to patina, but I like the way they came out, like little shields. The ring is etched bronze with sea glass and a diamond. In the same patina bath,the bronze turned a milk chocolate brown-pretty with the blue green sea glass.

I feel that the above group was successful in that they are consistent color-wise-and now I have something to build on. Stay tuned for more as I continue to experiment and develop a color vocabulary…

I will conclude this by saying that every part of the jewelry making process is pretty much about control and technique. Until we get to patina. This is unpredictable territory filed with variables. It is a mysterious and intuitive process. It is a collaboration of science and art. It is magic, pure and simple.

textile cuff wide . inside curljpg  sunset last 2 21

RAIN

rain

Compared to the rest of the USA or other countries, our winter weather has been mild and easy. But there has been an unduly amount of rain, even for us..fortunately my favorite escape from endless grey is to lose myself in the studio. It’s better than a trip to Hawaii-even though I am sure Sadie Thompson might disagree with me on that!

There have been some bright spots to start the new year. Jeffro made an incredible display bench for my studio. He salvaged the maple top from the beach in front of my house. The support pieces are from a ship wreck on nearby Washaway Beach.

jeffro display bench    Judith 17http://www.jeffrouitto.com/

I can’t even express how much I love it-made by a good friend and truly one of a kind.

Another friend, photo journalist Erika Langley, stopped by the weekend this bench was delivered. It also happened to be Super bowl Sunday. In Washington state this was a HUGE deal. (BTW: The Seattle Seahawks won.) Erika and I took advantage of the completely empty beach-not even any footprints in the sand- to take some artist shots.

me  Judith 16

photos by Erika Langley

Without realizing it, she took a series of shots that formed a narrative of place- the source of artist inspiration, the artist at work and finished jewelry pieces.

Since I dislike having my picture taken, (unless there is wine and a fedora involved) I was trying to relax and forget about the camera. Erika made that easy. I have recently had another birthday and am now in my mid fifties. Okay I said it! Recently I have been giving thought to the aging process. There have not been a lot of widely publicized role models or mentors for women until recently for this time in life. I have decided to embrace it. Be nicer to myself. Enjoy  the little and the big things. Ditch the rules. Dream big.

On that note, I now must share a few pictures of my pet project. The restoration of my 1971 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.

I bought this car four years ago from a local fisherman. It was barely running and pretty much in shreds. My ex husband, Tom, got it into running order and did a lot of interior restoration. After saving up money and a  search to find the right body and paint man, the project started in January 2014. With any luck at all it should be drive- able by June.

ghis restortation 1743470_526872930759532_43213501_n

 1601587_526874277426064_1334216138_n    005

This is the color it is going to be-it’s called Seaside. The job is being done by Three Crows Garage in nearby Westport, WA.

Back to the studio…

Here are some action shots from our Superbowl Sunday Shoot:

Judith 21   Judith 31

And a piece of finished work. These are wedding rings for  Rachel and Nick of Portland Oregon. They will be getting married on the summer solstice 2014. Their rings feature Victorian era sea glass from the coast of England set in 22KT gold with reticulated silver bands.

Judith 48 photo by Erika Langley

And now for some shots of recent pieces:

blue lagoon ring 029 031 large008 photos by Judith

All of these feature English sea glass. Did I mention that I have recently renewed my passport? I am hoping to take a trip to the NE coast of England in later summer to visit the beaches where this sea glass is found. One of the people I buy it from has very kindly invited me to visit her and her family. (and also the working man’s club!) I am a firm believer in planting seeds for whatever you want to manifest. So taking the action to get the passport renewed was step one.

Judith 43

 photo by Erika Langley   http://www.erikalangley.com/

Hope this scattered sharing of some of the past month’s highlights has been of interest and not too rambling…Until next time, I remind you that even though it is still winter for another six weeks or so, it’s time to plant the seeds for whatever you want to manifest your life.

In the immortal ad copy of Fredericks of Hollywood (and the Rocky Horror Picture Show):

Don’t dream it-be it.”

Stormy day Musings/First post of 2014!

Happy New Year Everyone!

As I work on this draft, we are getting ready for a gale here on the coast of Washington State. It is just getting light outside, the yellow dot- to- dot of deck lights from the crabbing fleet glow across the horizon. In the relative calm before the storm I took  photos out on the beach of a new cuff bracelet , stepping back as the tide washed up around my feet…

006    002

This cuff represents many different processes-from etching the copper with a design, to forming  it into a bracelet, adding silver rivets and soldering bezels for the stones, and applying patina until the desired color/s is obtained. The rest of the post will be about the technical steps that relate to each part of the process, with pictures in progress and of the finished pieces.

Step One: Etching

Before the etching,  a  thin layer of fine silver was fused to one side of a piece of 20 gauge copper. After that I applied a resist to the copper side.  Everything that is not covered by the resist is exposed and will be etched away in an acid bath. Even though this solution does not etch silver, it was covered with duct tape to keep it from darkening.

001     006

The first photos show my low tech etching station. When the weather is warm, I set up a table in the garage with the door open for ventilation. I mix a solution of Ferric Chloride with distilled water in a plastic container (yellow colored solution). Essential supplies include rubber gloves, safety glasses, duct tape, wooden tongs and baking soda for neutralizing acid.

As an aside I should mention that when I was a student at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, my on campus job was in the printmaking lab. I loved the etching process and did a lot of photo etching of Barbie dolls in those days, printing them on alternative materials like canvas, wood veneer, leather and more, ultimately using the copper etching plates in sculptures.

The next photo shows a detail shot of a future cuff in progress. I took it out of the acid bath to check how quickly the metal was being eroded. The design being etched is a Japanese textile pattern. It was photo copied onto a special contact paper made for circuit boards called PNP paper,  then transferred to the copper with heat and pressure. The blue color is the PNP transfer which forms a resist against the acid. Everything that does not have the resist (blue ) on it will be etched. After examining it I decided to immerse it for a longer time to get a deeper etch. I would estimate the total time for this was about an hour plus…

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The second photo shows two etchings with different designs. They are taped to foam core board which allows them to float (upside down) in the acid. Note: you will see how each of these pieces looks as a finished piece of jewelry if you continue to read this post!

After the desired depth of etch has occurred, the resist is removed with acetone. I love this part of the process (no not because of the chemicals, Marcy Merrill a.k.a. Silver Nitrate Queen)   because you get to see what it’s going to look like!

010  007

When the etching is completed the forming begins…

My friend Jeffro set me up with this handy vice stand, made from a salvaged tree stump found on the beach. The steel forming stake that is clamped in the vice was made by Bill Dawson of Mud Bay, WA. The cuff will be given it’s shape by a process of hammering it around the stake until the top and bottom edges start to flare out. It is called anticlastic forming.

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After the cuff has been formed and filed, stones or rivets (or both) can be added…

026 22KT gold rivets and bezel for moonstone are added.

What follows after the bezels, rivets or other accents are applied is the patina process. Patina is the darkening or coloring of metal due to exposure to chemicals or the elements. I have been studying Japanese patina formulas and applications. More about this in a future post.

Here are the two cuff in a finished state:

072 etched moonstone cuff marcy

Gauntlet cuff– copper, silver, 22 kt gold with abalone and a moonstone that was found on a local beach (Thanks Ann)

peonymarcy 2 peonymarcy

Satori Cuff– with diamond and 22KT gold rivets.Photos by Marcy Merrill

Photo Gallery: Etched cuffs

marlene m cuff 3 marlene m cuff 4

These cuffs are made with sterling  silver that was etched in Ferric Nitrate. They have an abstract/ organic texture the result of applying traditional asphaltum resists in a free hand manner. The top two photos feature a large moonstone found on the beach. This cuff was made for the beachcombers (and friends) who found the stone.

rain cuff 2 rain cuff 5

Rain Cuff-etched silver with Ellensburg Blue agate, custom cut grey moonstones and 18kt gold. This was a custom piece for Chris of Vancouver, BC. who sent the gemstones to me for the project.

 

034  037

Japanese textile -etched cuff with coral, mother of pearl, 18kt gold

Hopefully this post has shed a bit more light on some of the processes and creative surprises involved in the making of jewelry.  Looking forward  to the projects and adventures of this coming year-and sharing with you!

PS: I just discovered this Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Connections/Magic feature. It is a four minute slideshow with Marco Leona talking about science, art and magic-the alchemy of creative experimentation.  The art images that accompany it are great. Here is a link:   http://www.metmuseum.org/connections/magic#/Feature/

Best Wishes for 2014~