I.E:: Japanese early 20th C black lacquer hibachi

imageHow we look at things is the foundation for how we make things. In sharing how I look at the world around me, you’re invited to notice more, and respond to more, of your own world. The longer posts on my site are a survey of inspirations. This series goes deeper with single objects.

First the object, one of a pair found at The Zentner Collections
“A pair of Japanese hibachi, or braziers, done in black lacquer decorated with chrysanthemums in gold and mother of pearl, inspired by Ogata Korin and Kenzan of the Rinpa School. The motif is also known as manju-kiku since it appears similarly to a red bean filled mochi sweet. Two lacquer techniques are used for the hibachi: The top and bottom is done using a technique called, tataki-urushinuri and the center is simple shin-nuri. Early 20th century. Height 8.5″ Diameter 13.5” “.


Every aspect of this object is carefully considered. An example of deliberate intention, whose clarity and congruity of aesthetic is everywhere in the piece. Abstract organic style, beautiful craftsmanship, and minimal materials that have more impact because of their scarcity.

The overall shape, simple yet not simplistic, is an abstraction: not quite round, not an oval, not a pillow. It has integrity because it is precise, purposeful, despite its uncommon profile.

Showing the interior metal dish that acts as brazier

Dividing the black surface into thirds frames the central decorated area, drawing attention to it. At the same time, framing bands cut across portions of the motif, right through a highly stylized chrysanthemum.

This cutting-off of seemingly important elements is a classic Japanese compositional move. To me it implies that these are natural forms in situ, where the unpredictable, the uncontrollable, happens routinely. Here the lacquer and inlays are not so much decoration, as hommage to what is already all around us: the beauty of a single observed moment. So this present moment itself is the motif here, as in the butterfly tray below. There’s a link too between the confidence of an artist and her willingness to remove parts of the design to strengthen the whole.

Back to the hibachi…picture4

This detail illustrates the glorious play of different surface effects: gold, textured matte black, mother of pearl, glossy black lacquer. Three variations on irregular ovals made of gold and nacre. Simple but non-repeating shapes that show off the beauty of the materials themselves, particularly when applied in this subtle relief, and adding the impression of depth as the chrysanthemum leaves lie above that golden oval.

These hibachi are dated early 20th C, when art deco, itself already influenced by Japanese organic minimalism, was leaking back into Asian art. I’m not an art historian, but an artist, although our long human history of cross-pollination is intriguing. For now this is about integrating inspiration into our work.

Let’s digress a moment. Black lacquer tray by Shirayama Shosai (1853-1923). I believe those are tiny mother-of-pearl chips inlaid into the upper edge of the tray. 

It’s not enough to say ‘I love Japanese art’. We all love Japanese art. If I want to emulate it I need to figure out what about it I love specifically. Then bring those approaches into my own work. That is what using something for inspiration really is about.

In this object’s design I see a wonderful balance between large glossy black areas, and small, potent touches of gold, nacre and textured black. My attention goes back and forth, sinking into the black, then being pulled back up to the surfaces. There’s simultaneously an organic nonchalance with sumptuous materials here. A very Japanese dichotomy.

The unusual shapes of both the object itself, and the design elements, reinforce each other. Variations on surfaces: textured and opaque, pearlescent and iridescent, thick gold, and that luscious black, all animate the piece so that my eye goes around and around discovering. Placing  elements, like these chrysanthemum ovals, in a organic and random array is challenging but a worthwhile effort.

Try this. Look very closely at something that makes you catch you breath, take your time, and list three things you notice.
Where do you want to do more of those in your own artwork?








please click through to the blog to comment! Thanks.

Allo you! FullSizeRender
We were talking, an Inner Sherpa client, and me, about what makes work special. Swivel-your-head special. ‘Unexpectedness’ came up. We talked about it and I wanted to share the ideas with you, they were interesting.
What brings your eye back to something? Makes you pause, look again, contemplate….?
Unexpected colors and patterns, of course; then unexpected forms, materials, scale, content, context and more.
As we talked about these styles or types of unexpectedness, artists came to mind:
Joyce Scott for the content and material exuberance in her sculptural beadwork.
Nick Cave the mixed media performance artist for everything about what he makes and how he shows it.
Kiff Slemmons for materials and content, and sheer unexpected design sense.
Andy Goldsworthy for context, materials, process.
Maya Lin artist and architect for unexpected power, the content and evocation of her work from such simple materials.
E. E. Cummings and Bashō , poets as writers.
Stomp the musical performance group for materials and concept.
There are so many more: Robin Williams the actor and comic for irrepressible vocal and physical unexpectedness….
It’s possible to make wonderful and successful work without unexpectedness – but that is another blog post.
Unexpectedness, like perfection, is one of the tools in my toolbox to get my work to its intention most cleanly.
Me, hm. I see the unexpected in my materials choices, sense of scale, in my design sense, my tendency for trompe-l’oeuil because it amuses me. Content. Mostly anything with movement- of you the observer, of a part of the piece, of ideas and thoughts.
What about you?Spring Bowl
Where do you notice something because it is unexpected?
Is your work gentle or vigorous in its unexpected nature?
Click here to comment www.toryhughes.com/news/
Please leave comments on my blog, not as replies to this email (unless you want no one to see them but me!)
Images: The first image, above, showed up at my feet in the Trader Joes parking lot.
This one’s my Spring Bowl.
Incidentally you’ll make a Spring Bowl of your own in our ‘Take Two: Moving Along’ workshop in three weeks. www.toryhughes.com/home/ – one weekend spot left.

Enjoy the unexpected delights of the summer- Tory

Big Art, Big Events, Birthdays: or: dsddaf Revisited!

Santa Fe Plaza Bandstand June 2013Allo all! Greetings from sunny Santa Fe, where Adventures Abound and Art Happens. Gosh.
Here’s a typical summer evening: Santa Fe plaza, live music, dancing, families picnicking, lots of great easy delight, dogs and kids and flowers everywhere…. Happy times.

FIRST! Those of you who clicked through for yesterday’s post, my apologies, I’d been testing something, and it was published inadvertently.
You were NOT spammed!
Your emails were NOT compromised!
Not to worry. Would I let that happen to you? naaah.

Today’s post is more substantive, in fact will probably have many exclamation points. Brace yourself!
Today, June 29, is my birthday. It started at the garden patio restaurant at Inn of the Loretto here, and when the hostess learned it was my birthday she brought a box of fresh red rose petals, still cool from the refrigerator, and sprinkled them about on our table.

Yeow, this year has been just brimming with changes and transformations. For all of us, yes?

life travel check-in

At breakfast, I gathered my ‘life travel’ pieces and a hand-painted and lettered card my friend Barbara Wolff made me. I made a list of things I’ve accomplished during my life so far, to see within mewhat has been going on while I’ve been running around being me.
To my delight and surprise, things that as a kid I assumed I’d neveraccomplish have quietly happened. A background doubt of everything has evaporated. Santa Fe means ‘home’, in a way I’ve never felt before. More for later. Seeing these accomplishments has opened a new trust in myself. You may be pleasantly surprised at your own progress and accomplishments if you do this. Try it, let us know!

Oh for being excited. Please consider joining us for these, they are sooo delicious!

Trebizond Sanctioned PostcardCreative Hands-on Artmaking Retreats at my studio here:
“A Week in Trebizond”: five-day exotic artifact-making in polymer and mixed media, July 14 to 19

“Handbook of Personal Alchemy”: five-day inner journal and artists’ book-making in polymer and mixed media, August 12 to 16

Trebizond detail

>> Artmaking Retreat in Mildura and Lake Mungo, Australia:
“Double-dipping: Deep Play and Creative Joy to Feed your Artistic Soul”: four-day creative event with ideas, experiences, practices, journaling, art-making, conversation, and transformation, with mixed media of all kinds,Tory's Turquoise and Coral Beads Melange    Tory Hughes©2010   Polymer, acrylicSeptember 19 to 22

“The Annual Art Safari!”: five-day retreat in getting that idea out of your head and into the world: polymer and mixed media, October 21 to 25

Ah, Big Art, I’ve been gearing up to this for years. Larger, multimedia wall pieces. Some polymer, some other materials as well.melting lexan ribbon Interactive. Outdoor installations.The new materials and techniques make what I see in my mind much easier to bring out as tangible objects. Some process shots as I go along, you’ll see lots more in the weeks ahead:
three forms

Experimenting with forming acrylic and lexan has been fascinating: given my background in polymers, the addition of other types of polymers, and their attributes, has catalyzed my excitement for these media.
Working bigger changes everything.
After forming and shaping, I’ve been experimenting with various surface coloring and adding other media onto the lexan. Finally having complete transparency is more exhilarating than I can tell you. Stay tuned!cropped color forms

—–> And please come to a retreat here, to activate and transform your art too!

Best to all of you,

Take good care of your hearts and minds-


YinYang Creativity: 2nd Milagro Hacienda Retreat in October

Well hello you!

You’re invited to this year’s 2nd Annual Milagro Hacienda Creativity Retreat.

This year’s theme is YinYang::CreateGenerate.


Jump into the heart of your artmaking.

Come back up with gold.

You know how you have these absolutely amazing ideas? and you can see them in your mind? but every time you try to get them out you can’t make it work, then you get sooooo frustrated? And doubt your idea?  Have you perhaps gone through this more than once?

If you said yes, this retreat is for you.

We’ll focus on the core of your artmaking process.

And you’ll learn how to take your amazing ideas all the way into finished reality.

Create the idea. Generate the object.

After all, my dears, this is 2012. It’s time we go all the way, yes?

At the Milagro Hacienda this year, arrive with the most exciting yet frustrating ideas you currently have.

Leave with solid plans, and part or all of your piece finished.

I watched this happen with my most recent masterclass student. Her sudden leap into a new, brilliant, and decisively personal body of work was thrilling to see. Neither of us could have said what would happen, but I knew something amazing would appear. Not because of me, but because when you set your intention and follow your own path, your road will appear as you risk and rush into what is most important for you.

At the Milagro Hacienda, you’ll be in the heart of your creative process.

Dancing between practice and experiment, work and dream, concept and reality, black and white.

The heart of YinYang. Creativity endlessly ebbing and flowing from form to form.

Or, like Rumi put it, “God’s joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box”.

Create the idea. Generate the art. The art leads to a new idea, the idea to new art.

Oh la!

Practical details:

October 22-27, Monday morning to midday on Saturday.

$1395 total fees, travel from the airport, most lunches and dinners.

Housing: I’ll work with you to line up the right place for you, and you pay them directly.

Limited class size: 8 people absolute max. Everyone gets room, time for power tools, space to hang things on the walls or from the ceiling.

Held in Santa Fe at at my studio; short artist field trips one day.

$500 holds your space. The remainder is due by September 29.

Send us a check:

1519 Upper Canyon Road, Santa Fe, 87501

Or pay with Paypal.

Please contact me with questions: victoria@toryhughes.com

ps: The NeoYinYang brooch above is from my VR series, an evolving series of pieces for a very specific client. I approached this work with the concepts I’ll share with you at the Hacienda, for the process and the results.

pps: if you’re really stuck, but know there’s good art in you just yearning to see the light of day, then work with me individually.

The first half-hour is free. We get to know each other and make sure we fit.

Schedule one with me now: email me victoria@toryhughes.com to set a time.

And all best wishes to you, as you create your own life!


Treasure Necklaces, Dancing, and You!

Ha! Artists live longer with clearer minds: just get out there and dance! This recent article from Stanford, based on a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, writes that

Frequent dancing apparently makes us smarter. A major study added to the growing evidence that stimulating one’s mind can ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, much as physical exercise can keep the body fit.  Dancing also increases cognitive acuity at all ages.

The table of figures in the article listed these tested activities against a reduction in your mind’s acuity
“Bicycling and swimming – 0%
Playing golf – 0%
Reading – 35%
Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week – 47%
Dancing frequently – 76%.”

When I get involved in intricate stringing in a necklace, like this newest Treasure Necklace, “Peruvian Spring”, developing those intriguing and always-changing patterns of beads has always felt like puzzle-solving. I love crossword puzzles, especially those fiendish cryptic styles. And since I’m very kinesthetic, making these necklaces has always felt like I was dancing back and forth across the curves of the necklace, improvising patterns and establishing unexpected relationships between colors, textures and shapes. Balance, move, adjust, add, balance, turn, and on and on. Of course my feet are not so involved, but the rest of my body and mind is, and benefits as a result.

My dear artist-pal and dreamer Victoria Rabinowe got me dancing again- it’s brought great joy back into my life. Bead artist Babette Cox gave me her gorgeous silver-enhanced lampworked bead for this necklace.

So why are you sitting here reading this? Go dancing!

Afterwards, come to my jewelry trunk show this weekend, where this brand-new sweetie and others will be available for you.

I’ll have new and special things in my studio that will not be on my gallery shop, so remember, 12-5 Saturday and Sunday if you’re local.

Mambo-ing for good luck, healthy minds, and creative lives for all of us-

Gloriously Moving Forward

'Lemmings' Rachel Gourley©2011 digital print

Ready? Set?
Here we go, bravely heading into 2012!

You’ve been on my mind since last week.
Many thoughtful, appreciative comments came in on The Realm of You. What an intelligent and capable group of people you are.

Here’s part two:

How to Gloriously Rule your Realm in 2012.

Yes, this year will be turbulent.
That doesn’t necessarily mean destructive, although some concepts and systems will be destroyed, and others will be created.  That’s just life on Earth though.

‘Lemmings’, the image above, is from Vancouver artist Rachel Gourley.
She creates elements in polymer, then photographs them in selected sites. The images are her art form.
Artist and historian Rachel Carren calls Gourley’s work  ‘an Andy Goldsworthy approach with polymer’, and a playful, exploratory edge. She’s using secret knowledge in her work. Gourley is one of my mentoring clients: I’m excited to be working with her. When I opened this image, I burst out laughing, what a hoot! How delightful! She’ll have a website very soon, after Susan Lomuto’s Artist Online course, and I’ll send you all the link.

Back to you. Secret knowledge? Yep. LIghtening up.
You can actually have fun during the remaining 363 days of this year. How? Why?

Because of all you did last year.
Because you have your own secret knowledge.
Because you showed up yesterday, Jan. 1, ready to go, with hard-won and glorious willingness.

Transformations this year will come directly from your creative nature.

I’m not saying this to make you feel good, though that may happen.
I’m reminding you of WHO YOU ARE.

Look at yourself. What a great design!
Quirky holographic mind and big heart.
Clever hands and capable body.
Unique ideas. Curious and playful.
Sense of possibility and how things connect.
You’re designed for creative action.

Creating feels good to everyone. You LOVE having creative jobs.
Because when you approach things creatively,
you’ve FINALLY gotten the individual parts lined up right, and set them working together.
You’re supposed to do this, like a Ferrari should go fast or a virtuoso should play the right instrument.

You’re happiest and you work best when you see your life as creative opportunity.
Every event in your life is offering itself to you this way.
I guarantee it.

The next step is easy. Pull last year’s lessons into your creative approach

You have built-in SECRET KNOWLEDGE of how to do this.
Secret mostly from you, because you were probably told not to believe it about yourself.
That’s why we’re having this little chat.

Secret knowledge shows up at the crossroads of your conscious and subconscious minds.
Creative types spend a lot of time at this intersection: they put up market stalls, start gardens, invite friends, get married.
You know how it feels here.  Things are a bit easier, kind of exciting. Giggling in the background. Getting things done flows here, with less effort and more glee.

You  lined the parts up, and now light can shine all the way through.

Here are some examples of what I mean.
Tell us where you’ll act on these in a creative approach to your life.


Everyone knows that playfulness and creativity are linked, and we crave a more creative life: yet we think adults should give their playfulness up. It is possible to be brilliant and playful and successful though. Practice a lot, if this is hard right now. Find a kid or a puppy, a book or movie. You’ll get better as you remind yourself how. You have a sense of humor: this is the year to relax into it.


The universe is too complex to think we can sort out contradictions. The yinyang symbol is a circle first:  then is both black and white simultaneously. Seek out paradoxes. Gently hold both / all aspects, see what happens. No wrong answers. Hint: it’s not what you think. The yinyang makes sense to you because you can see it from a bigger perspective. 2012 will be full of paradox. It’s the universe winking at you. Wink back.


Practice this one too. At least once a day, notice a habit and deliberately be unexpected instead. Write with your left hand. Lie on the floor and put your feet on the chair. Walk backwards around your yard. Juxtapose elements out of context. Make yourself laugh. Get radically simple. Neuroscience can now show you pretty pictures of your brain making new connections and increasing your ability to think more widely when you do this.


You’ve got vast extra smartness below your conscious mind, like an iceberg but warmer. Confident risk means even if your analytical mind can’t say why, your smart holographic mind knows exactly what to do, because you have lots of extra information. Scientists have shown this over and over. So trust yourself.
An example: The island nation of Samoa and neighboring Tokelau this year voted to skip December 30, 2011, and be the first countries in the world to celebrate the new year, rather than the last. Nothing bad happened, other than more tourist money. This leads right into-


Know the difference. Limiting your self-identity to what was given to your country centuries ago may not be effective.
Limiting your spending on materials when you don’t have much money for them is effective. Deciding that therefore you aren’t an artist because you can’t make anything because you have no materials is not effective. Ditto for tools. Ditto for processes. If Gourley accepted polymer as only a jewelry medium, we wouldn’t be looking at her image of an art installation in the Canadian Rockies.


Which you can’t get your conscious mind around, and that is as it should be. As a marvelous illustration, a woman in Sweden lost her wedding ring 16 years ago in her kitchen. They found the ring this year, tightly fastened around a carrot in her vegetable garden. Apparently it fell into the compost, was dug into the garden and a carrot seed grew up through it. You really just never know, so don’t invest too much energy in a small picture when you can inhabit a bigger one.


You know what these mean to you. In giving you receive, in receiving you give.


Creativity is to art as transcontinental flight is to a nice airport.
The power and the magic are in the flying.
Not in which airport you’ve landed.
Do not confuse the two.

To put it another way:
Creativity is your ability to move, not the footprints you leave.
Love your footprints, but don’t confuse them with loving to dance.
As you master your dance, your footprints become more purposeful and personal. You are mastering your dance itself, not the making of intricate footprints.

GLORIOUSLY RULING means accepting your natural creative design and using your own secret knowledge.
Everything flows from these: the most practical, pragmatic actions to the most sublimely mystical.
I have total faith in you.

In my own news: I’m no longer teaching polymer classes in the US.
I continue to offer retreats and master classes in creative development, like the 2012 Milagro Hacienda, and Creative Sanctuary Masterclasses – in fact, Rachel Gourley will be working here with me in a few weeks.
I am gloriously heading back to my studio, after fifteen years of turbulence…
These things I tell you? They come from decades of intense personal experience, and there’s more.

Also I’m expanding my mentoring programs.
At this time, I have room for three new clients. We do phone  or Skype sessions, so you can be anywhere. 90 minutes long, usually weekly. They’re $150 each, and  you get a discount for five paid together. People have found them effective. You might too.
When you are interested in truly honing your creative approach to your art, career, and life, and making 2012 your most fruitful year so far, contact me.
505-301-9142, or victoria@toryhughes.com
Work with me individually if you want effective help getting your natural creativity gloriously active again.

Aaaaaaaand we’re off!
Stay in touch.


Art-making, Wine-making and Your Life Now.

“We live on the leash of our senses”
Diane Ackerman wrote, then added
“There is no way to understand the world
without first detecting it through the radar-net of our senses.”

Ready to become the artist of your own life?
Deliberately re-engage with your senses, one by one.

Consider: Everything you know and believe, all that inspires you to action and expression, arises when you take in a word, a sound, a gesture, a feeling, a touch.
These elements combine in your mind and heart, then are integrated and interpreted and prompt your behaviour.
Like Ariel and Caliban in ‘The Tempest’, your senses are magical sprites, leading, tempting and informing you throughout your life.
You can become an artist of the exquisite, savoring your senses and letting your experiences keep you solid and happy in the world, right now.
And now, this moment, this light and air, is where you take action.
You have no leverage, no traction in ‘then’ and ‘soon’.
But you do in ‘now’, and ‘now’ is the sum of what you are sensing and what you are thinking.
Re-engage with your senses. Let them take you by the hand back into living – and creating – fully present.

[We’ll be doing this in depth in our Milagro Hacienda retreat – and yup, you can still sign up. If you can’t get traction in your art and life right now, this may be right for you, because you’ll leave our retreat feeling more grounded and confident than you have in some while. Click here. And you’ll have a wonderful time in Santa Fe’s galleries, museums, and general ambience .]

I took the photo above on a midafternoon in southern France last week.
The air was warm and slightly muggy: densely scented with grape juice and the slight tang of fermentation. Interlacing alleys weave through these ancient wine-making towns.
Here, I’m in Luc-sur-Orbieu, having just taught at Corbières Créatives III. The old buildings are a pale limestone, covered in veils of ivy: daytime is sunglasses-bright southern light, here 30 miles from the Mediterranean. Colors are pale and still vivid.
Because my senses are so open, the unexpected, like that luscious violet water running along the street, appears to me everywhere, and inspires me as an artist. A question for myself – How to get this ‘oh!’ into my work?


Sixty-Second Senses
Do this> One minute each:
•Close your eyes. For sixty seconds pay attention to every sound you are hearing.
•Get comfortable. For sixty seconds let your eyes roam and investigate color combinations.
•Go for a walk. For sixty seconds sink into how your skin and body feel as you move around.
•Drink something. For sixty seconds notice every part of you responding to the taste and liquidity.


The difference between ‘technicians’ and ‘artists’ came up in conversation.
Not with an artist, but with a very skilled and experienced chiroprator,  talking about his field.
You can easily percieve this difference in people around you:
take a moment and notice who are the technicians, and who are the artists.
This distinction carries engagement and integrity.

Someone may not be a professional, but still create with the engagement and integrity of an artist.

Where are you an artist?
Where is being a technician good enough?

There are no wrong answers.
Leave a comment on this blog and tell me what you think

This distinction is everywhere, and is an attitude, a position you choose to take in your life.

Oscar Wilde said “Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul”

Now would be a very good time, as Chekov says in Star Trek IV.
The Milagro Hacienda retreat is in three weeks.
If you are waiting till the last moment, “>sign up now. You’ll immerse in delicious, inspiring sensory experiences- a chef teases your taste buds with delicious mystery bites, an aroma-energetics specialist made a menu of scents and fragrances to take you on a journey, an internationally known artist opens her collage and bookmaking studio to you, and more – then delve into synesthesia, as a springboard into artmaking that comes more deeply from you. I’ll teach abundant polymer and mixed media techniques so you’ll leave with a sense of accomplishment, greater ease and lots more confidence.

Click here to sign up. I’ll send you out a package of info and goodies this afternoon.
Questions, call me 505-301-9142

And let us know your take on technicians and artists.


Tahitian Flora Sketches and Polymer Mokume Gane

Update – Studio work for my Aug. 1 show:
My theme is souvenirs of places I have visited, in real life or in my imagination. Today:

Papeete, capital of Tahiti: Floral fecundity.

In a grand and intriguing gift from the Universe (thanks!) I went to Tahiti several years ago with a small group of wonderful people.
Someday I’ll tell you the story, it’s pretty remarkable, and goes to show that all of our life experiences are part of the Big YinYang. All are personal perceptions of good and bad, embraced by change. Never a dull moment, as my friend Katrina says.

Back to art: For this necklace, I want to convey the lush, opulent  abundance of the flowers at the Papeete municipal marketplace. I want to make a souvenir for myself, and translate my impressions into a material object.”Flora” is its title until I know if it will be as I intend.

In Tahiti outrageous plantlife abounds everywhere. Hibiscus blossoms the size of dinner plates, bright blue water lilies crowding the canals, thick green fern fronds unfurling six feet tall in dense bamboo groves, enormous ginger and protea, be still my heart.

One of a kind pieces are often like this. We have a good idea and a bunch of faith, and then we plunge in.
Art is a practice, and a damn funny one for all its intensity.

So first things first. Five simple directions:
Intention, check: as above.
Start with what works: I want to use Mokume Gane, for opulent magical patterning with variations and layered color combinations. I’ll try opaque colors with a hint of pearl for this project. Check.
Schedule: heck, I need to get 15 necklaces made in six weeks. You do the math. Let’s go.

Mokume Gane is an prolifically rich and fascinating polymer technique.

1. With a rough idea for the feeling of the piece in mind, I sketched and cut out a selection of possible shapes for mokume gane elements. I make different shapes when I draw then when I work in polymer, enabling a different design approach. This inspires  – and reminds me – that there are many many more ways to do something than what has always worked in the past

2.Gathering them onto my work surface, I brought together polymer clay bodies that felt right: rich light colors, varying translucencies, pearlescents and opaques.

3.  I made a range of sample mokume combinations of colors and impressions. Some I like, some I don’t.  Some will be wonderful for brooches but are not exactly what I want for this necklace. These fragments approach the rich colors I want, but I need lots of volume, and less translucent layering.

4. These fragments were more like what I wanted, so I laid them on a pearlescent lavendar polymer, and made a trial element for Flora. Liked it well enough to proceed.

5. Here’s the pearlescent lavendar I mixed, and the color swatch for the layers of mokume gane  so that I could duplicate the pad and make more of the same patterning for additional elements.

6. The sample single element; I like it, will make the rest of the pieces and will finish the necklace, but it does not look like the feeling of the Papeete flower market, so right now, I’m calling this necklace ‘Flora’ rather than ‘Papeete’ and will continue to experiment with materials and approaches that translate my sensory experience of the  market into a solid object. This isn’t wrong or bad, I like the necklace. Just not quite what I have in my mind.

7. The group of six finished elements. I made a slight cup shape in each one before baking, pressing the back of my knuckle gently into the polymer clay, then baked them cradled in that shallow paper cone you see above.

In future posts, I’ll figure out how to attach these six elements into a durable and wearable necklace, adding beads and construction details. We’re not done yet!

8. Detail of the shallow cup shapes. Rather than have flat cutout shapes like the paper sketches, I wanted more dimensionality and life, since these are referencing blossoms.

9. Mokume gane usually results in supplemental usable fragments. Way cool, a bonus to play around and make new pieces. Here’s a few partially finished elements – fragments laid on curved supports- that will be mokume gane broochesat the gallery shop in the very near future.

That’s it for Flora right now. I’ve got other projects to do and explore while this is percolating along.

10. Next post:

In this post, kinda like a movie trailer, I showed you the Flora progression as a fast and constant flow. However there were detours here and there, when the process was ebbing instead of flowing.
In one of them, I fixed up an early favorite of mine, and in the next post I’ll take you through restringing and rejeuvenating my  ‘Coba’ necklace from 1994. I’ll be putting this in the show as well, because it is one of my favorite translations from “sense of place” to wearable art.

Where have you been that you’d like to translate into a wearable form? Why?

My best wishes for all your creative endeavours!


Excursions, Explorations

Ever noticed how when you start something really new, you like having company around?
I want to share a creative project with you that I just started and that I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
The process will be a grand adventure.
We’ll travel across creative action, polymer clay, aesthetic choices, jewelry construction, business planning, and arrive by August 1. There will be camels.

On The Art of You, your own creative life’s goals and paths are my topic: we’ll talk more about this project there too.

On this blog, you get me, writing to you as one artist to another.

Ready? Here we go. The Five Directions, amplified, apply here as everywhere else, so I will add them in.

Big Concept: I’m doing a month-long show at a very public place here in town. Nope, I’m not telling you where yet, but I’ll mention it later.

First direction- Intention:
• 15-18 major pieces, probably all necklaces.
• And gold frames for each.

Further intention:
• Effective, complete business materials in place: websites spiffed up, great flyers and cards, and my secret  lust: QR codes for everything.
• A fun opening.
• Establishing a balanced work practice, which includes my creative coaching practice and days off.

Goal: At least 70% of this show to be based on ideas I began to develop 15 years ago, and never had time to take as far as I wanted. I taught the rudiments briefly, so they may seem vaguely familiar.

Second direction – Start with What Works:
I work well with a theme, to focus and inspire me. The idea=
Excursions, explorations, evocations…
Travel to other cultures and places. Necklaces based on Magical Places, Real and Imaginary.
Turning journeys into wearable art. That’s my plan.

Schedule: We’ll hang the show July 31. Other important commitments, like working with my excellent creative coaching clients, take time in there too. So less than seven weeks.

Planning is clearly called for.

Regular, though short, updates are in order.
We’ll both find out together what happens August 1. Nice to have you along.


Happy Campers! Polymer Fractals Field Trip

Polymer clay iterative patterning and three-fold isomorphic replication!
Fifth grade girls!
EYH outing!

This Monday, I again taught Fractals in Polymer at the annual one-day conference “Expanding Your Horizons”. Here I am with my excellent co-presenter John Paul Gonzales.

Combining artmaking with my love of math and science inspires me into new experimental areas.

EYH’s goal is to encourage girls to maintain their interest in math, science, technology and engineering- the STEM fields. Women working professionally in these fields, or using these in their work, give short hands-on workshops for girls between 5th- 10th grades.

Secret plan: Girls see interesting, happy women using science and math. Girls retain their interest in these, and pursue degrees and careers in the STEM fields. Smith College, my alma mater, actively promotes science and engineering, so there’s great personal satisfaction in being a small part of this development.

Back to iterative patterning and three-fold isomorphic repetition in polymer.

Looks darn familiar, doesn’t it. What is it?
Check it out: Sierpinksi Triangles, aka the Sierpinsky Gasket.
Who knew?

[ A confession here: I am one of those uber-geeky types who murmur ‘it’s so beautiful, it’s so beautiful…!’ when looking at algebraic equations.So when Irene Lee, a friend at the Santa Fe Institute asked me last year to present polymer fractals as a mathematical educational tool, I jumped at the opportunity. Here’s my inspiration: Evil Mad Scientist does Sierpinski Triangles.]

The girls loved it, I loved it, we all had a great time. Sixteen presenters, with topics like LED fireflies and Space Weather. And Polymer Fractals. Ooooh.
The project was coordinated by Irene and Caroline Dennis of WiredNation. In an awe-inspiring organizational endeavour, 70 volunteers, 225 girls, and about 30 schools were involved, all for a five-hour event.

What feeds your art? What community do you have for the intersection of your heart, mind and art?
What can you get involved with, for the joy of participating and experiencing?

NEXT: I have a new project in my studio! I will update you in the next couple of days: it is going to be a busy month at the ArtRanch!

Best to you all-