Tag Archives: works in progress

Into the Wild

aldar eye

Right now, the signs of Fall are everywhere in the  Pacific Northwest. Lately I have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the woods, witnessing the changes of the season. And extra lucky to have as a forest companion an 84 year old man who has spent his life working in the woods. His name is Marv Jones. His son, Bruce, who has been taking us on weekly excursions into the wild, compares his father to the original Jeremiah Johnson.

Marv reads the forest both as a living journal of current events and history book. For example, the faintest scratch along a logging road tells him a good sized buck deer was here, the direction it was headed and how long ago. Once a professional bear hunter for the State, he points to Cascara trees with bent branches, a sure sign that bear were here eating berries within the last day or two. He explains to me why one tree is left standing in a clear cut, (as a seed tree) and  recalls planting trees in the 1960s for a timber company, using tree planting machines (that were later discarded because humans do it better.) He shows me  where the timber camp was located. It’s hard to imagine that buildings once stood here, the only marker now is a tree stump with a rusty bucket perched on top.

He gives me a bear tooth for a good luck piece, which I now carry in my pocket.

Marv, photo by Bruce Jones

Marv, photo by Bruce Jones

An avid photographer, he has a keen eye for the beauty of dew coated  spider webs shinning in the sunlight or mushrooms freshly popped up from the forest floor. Speaking of fungi, the first rains of the season have spurred overnight mushroom growth.  I think about the campy Japanese horror film MatangoAttack of the Mushroom People, as I encounter mushrooms of incredible size and colors.

matango

We pick chanterelles, a highly prized seasonal mushroom by the bucket fulls…

chantrelle mushroom

chanterelle mushroom

What follows are some photographic highlights from these “sashays”, as Marv would say…

Bear claw marks

Bear claw marks

Elk graffiti-marks left on tree from where elk polished his horns

Elk graffiti-marks left on tree from where elk polished his horns

mushroom

fungi

fungi

The forest provides an inspirational photographic setting for jewelry…after years of shooting on the beach I am excited by the filtered light and moodiness of the woods.

men's copper cuff

men’s copper cuff

musroom rings 2

Mist Ring on alder leaf

Mist Ring on alder leaf

copper cuff and lycopodium moss

copper cuff and lycopodium moss

 

cuffa and mushrooms

so many mushrooms, so little time!

labrynth and mushrrom

 

black beach stone ring and maple leaf

black beach stone ring and maple leaf

After several  weekends spent tromping through the woods, I dive back into the studio with fresh ideas that practically explode off the bench!

And speaking of new work...I will be showing at the fabulous Santa Cruz Sea Glass Festival   November 7 and 8th. To see more new work , I invite you to follow me on Instagram

in progress on the bench

in progress on the bench

sea glass and eel grass

sea glass and eel grass

I have to thank Bruce and his father Marv for giving me a real insider’s tour of the forest that I have lived so close to and yet never really known before. I hope to share more photos in future posts with you.

October sunrise by Marv Jones

October sunrise by Marv Jones

In closing, hope you are having a terrific Autumn, and taking some time to enjoy the changing of the season.

 

 

The Spirit of Materials-Earth, Water, Air and Fire

metal etched and chased.2jpg

MATERIAL ~The Matter from which a things is or can be made.

The dictionary definition of material lists it as a noun or adjective, a name or a description. Used as an adjective, it describes something that is “important, essential and relevant.” 

Recently I have been a participant at several art events where the material shines through and guides the process of art making. This post will be about those materials -clay, paper, metal and wood, and show the process by which they are transformed into something new.

 

Sophia and I attended a cultural exchange workshop in Astoria, Oregon that featured six indigenous Maori clay artists from Aotearoa, New Zealand. The accompanying art exhibit, art lectures, and hands-on clay workshops were called Uku-Aotearoa-The Spirit of Materials.

baye riddell

Artwork by Maori clay artist Baye Riddel

I have not really worked with clay before, except for an ash tray I made in second grade. It was made with coiled rings of clay. It had a green glaze and marbles melted in the center. ( I gave it to my grandfather, who smoked.)

It was a good opportunity for beginners mind, also known Shoshin. This is a concept in Zen Buddhism that refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject. Also inspiring was the opportunity to see experienced  artists build clay sculptures using age old techniques. There was a grace in watching coils of clay transform into an abstract angel, the artist’s hands building and smoothing every bit of it inside and out. The workroom filled with the energy and camaraderie of students and professionals, each making something with their hands. Maybe it was process that informed the final shape, for some it was an idea wielded and realized through process. The heart beat of it all was the building of a paper kiln. Like paper wasps building a home, the group slathered paper and mud to make a giant hive that breathed fire!

paper kiln7Step one: shelves are assembled to hold ceramics

This is an ancient, changeable and customizable method of kiln construction. The paper kiln uses simple materials-tree branches, paper and mud to construct an oven around stacked shelves of ceramics. These low-tech, versatile kilns are used in India today.

paper kiln6Wood is stacked tipi-style around the shelves.

paper kiln2

Sheets of newspaper are dipped in mud, then wrapped around the frame

paper kilnA fire is lit outside the kiln

The heat is from the fire is drawn into the structure. Coals are shoveled inside and a close watch is kept, repairing the walls as needed and keeping the fire stoked. (It was lit around 4:00 in the afternoon). Flames shot out of the top before it collapsed into itself around 1:00 A.M.

paper kiln opened up

Aftermath-a pile of burned paper, mud and wood coals surround the fired ceramics

paperkiln fired potOne of the fired pieces-organic material including mosses and shells were attached to the piece with copper netting to produce the random color and markings.

After returning home, steeped and stimulated by what I experienced, I started texturing sheet copper for a wood and metal sculpture collaboration with Jeffo . It feels great to work big-much bigger than jewelry mode. I will share more on our project in a future post.metal etched and chased

metal etched and chased.2jpg

Last week, Jeffro and I showed at the studio/ showroom of HIIH Lights in Astoria, Oregon.  Lam Quang and Kestral Gates are a husband and wife team who make handmade paper light  sculpture at their wonderful farm.

hiih barn

hiiih jeff photo

papermaking hiih 3Lam demonstrates paper making…

papermaking hiih

Wet mulch drying on the screen

 hiih papermaking

a few hours later, it starts to look like paper.

hiih show me

I need some of their lights for my display!

jeff horse hiih

Jeffro with Arabian Horse Bust, constructed from driftwood with his partner Zela Dove

jeff and zela

 

And more raw materials: piles of small wood that will eventually become part of Jeffro’s art:

woodpile

woodpile3

 

“From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me the chance to prove that this is no lie.”

-Hokusai Katsuhika

 

This quote was hanging on the wall of the ceramics classroom at Clatsop Community College in Astoria. It certainly expands the art and age horizons!

Going to close post with a photo of a recently made pendant, featuring an ancient Greek coin.

artemis on the beach

Artemeis Solteira. on the beach- ancient bronze coin from Syracuse, Sicily 317 B.C

bud namaste Bud, my studio mate

Until next time-may you be inspired!

You Are Here

timbers mermaid Copper etching of Timber’s Mermaid

I am writing this post on the Lunar New Year-goat or sheep-take your pick. (I choose goat.)

Here in the Northern Hemisphere we are at a seasonal crossroads. The last weeks of winter linger, while the days grow longer and warmer.

Everywhere signs of Spring are emerging: the sounds of frog choruses at night, cherry blossoms in bud, robins singing in the early morning. The sap is moving in the trees and I feel a corresponding awakening within.  Winter’s sequestration is nearly over and it feels good to be outside again!

Something I do when the weather is good and the garage doors can stay open is etching metal (copper and shibuichi) in acid baths. The drawings of five year old Timber, daughter of Jeffro and Zela, were among my first projects.

In less than a month I will be in  California for the Cayucos Sea Glass Festival, where the theme is mermaids. Timber’s drawings will translate into great display pieces for my booth.

Here is a sneak peak at what I will be showing there:

caycous ringblue

scott2

After a long period of grey skies and heavy rain, when the sun comes out its a call to action for beach photo shoots!

Like the changing seasons I have been developing two lines of work-one sunny and bright (the sea glass) and the other deeper and more mysterious. This has been my Winter’s endeavor. Time consuming, skill challenging, pushing my vision further. It is only the beginning, but I share it here with you:

Bacchanal Rings~

dionysus coinphoto by Marcy Merrill

Dionysos ancient Greek coin (3rd Century B.C. ) with 22kt gold, ruby, reticulated silver and 18kt hand formed band.

beecoin 2

Honey Bee coin, Ionia c. 305-288 B.C. with 22kt and 18kt gold, reticulated silver and yellow diamond. Photo by Marcy Merrill

stagphoto by Marcy Merrill

Artemis-Greek coin from the 2nd-1st Century B.C. featuring stag. 22KT,18KT gold,reticulated silver.

octo coinNymph- ancient Sicilian coin with octopus on reverse side, 22KT and 18KT gold, reticulated silver, diamonds. Photo by Marcy Merrill

In closing, I would like to share two  photos taken this past week on our beach here in the Center of the Universe!

cathenge

Daybreak-Cat Henge!

tokeland skyine1Sunset, Tokeland Skyline-Sophia and Raleigh

 

scotsunset

Time to get back into the studio-hope to see you at Cayucos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!)

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…

005004

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.

375925_406451936059673_1326369276_n 011012017

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~