Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Technique!

I stumbled upon a new technique for wire-wrapping briolettes and teardrops: using headpins. As an example, take a peak at nonakednecks "Rose Quartz Trio" earrings.

If you're not a jewelry maker, or if you've never wire-wrapped before, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about.

For those of you who do know, I thought I'd share this with you. I am currently infatuated with briolette shapes, but they always give me trouble when I try to wire-wrap them. My biggest problem is with tiny brios - I tend to break them in the wrapping process. It is very frustrating to invest in sapphires and watch them crumble in my hands because I used too much force.

My hands just don't have the strength they used to. I also have problems with shaky hands and mild arthritis. This is not the best combination when trying to do wire wrapping!

But when I saw some earrings using briolettes wire-wrapped with headpins, I felt like I'd stumbled upon a miracle! I am dying to try this out for myself, because I think I'll have an easier time manipulating the wire and beads. Plus, there is a little less wire involved, so the stones get to show off a little more of their natural beauty. It seems to let more light hit the beads so they appear just a bit brighter.

Something I've debated with myself in the past is the line between learning or finding inspiration from another person's work, versus stealing. Every artist in every medium uses a bit of something they learned from someone else, something they saw somewhere else, something that inspired them into emulation. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Well, I had this debate with myself earlier today. I had never seen this technique before, never heard of it, never thought of it on my own. It is such a small change to a basic technique, how come everyone else wasn't doing it too? I worried that it was so rare that maybe it was someone's trademark. I would feel very bad to rip-off anyone's signature style. So I quested, courtesy of Google and Etsy.

After an exhausting (and yet not exhaustive) search, I now know there aren't many people out there using this technique. However, there are definitely enough designers out there who are using it to nullify my concern over infringement. You should check out their stuff - it's all gorgeous!

jahnavidesigns, passementerie, GaHooleTree, isler, shopshrew, ACelticgirl2, theodate, CoryellDesign, elainehaydonjewelry

Does anyone disagree with my conclusion?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tacoma's Museum of Glass

I have been wanting to go to the Museum of Glass (MOG) in Tacoma since before it was even open to the public in 2002. The biggest draw is Dale Chihuly's Bridge of Glass, which extends over a highway to provide free-to-the-public access between the three downtown Tacoma museums. The bridge was not quite what I thought it would be (you don't walk on glass), but the incredible array of colors and forms definitely exceeded all my expectations! I took a million pictures, which I hope to post some of later. But first, let's talk about the MOG itself.

The MOG is architecturally intriguing, very modern with lots of chrome and concrete, but something about the space saves it from being cold and boring. Maybe it's the sky? It is on a little waterway with moored boats, and in the background you can see Mt. Rainier, The Tacoma Dome, and an impressive suspension bridge. Personally, I think it is the sun hitting the outdoor glass instillation, illuminating clear glass forms so they appear whitish, reflecting off the shallow pool they are set into.

Inside the MOG are some incredible pieces, most notably an enormous glass triptych entitled Gathering the Light. Painstakingly created in a multitude of stages by Cappy Thompson, the riot of color radiates from within. Add sunlight, and it shines like a creation of the gods. Also not-to-be-missed is the gallery of works designed by children and recreated in glass onsite by the Hot Shop team - there are over 50 whimsical creations to enjoy. The gallery of Preston Singletary is quite impressive as well, recreating Tlingit (Native American) designs into glass sculpture.

Unfortunately, there isn't much more to talk about in the MOG. There are only 2 galleries, a shop, a cafe, a theater, and a children's learning room. For some reason there is a long hallway to the bathrooms entitled "Alley of Art" that has NO art in it, although the glass wall allowing you views of the domed courthouse is impressive - if you manage to overlook the depressing train tracks immediately outside. We definitely enjoyed ourselves, but at the cost of $12 per ticket, we were not impressed.

That is, until we plopped down in the Hot Shop and watched a team of glass makers work for over an hour. Watching the techniques, seeing the transformations through various stages to create a final product, was all riveting. There are some dull moments when the piece is in the furnace and everyone stands around waiting for a minute,  and yet you still can't look away. I'll be posting some pictures here soon that show the progression of one piece - I missed the initial stage and the final product, but it's still fascinating.

In the end, was it worth the $12? Yes, but only because of the Hot Shop. I would have felt better if there were separate admission prices, say $7 for the Hot Shop and $5 for the museum. Even $10 to see the glass making in action would have been worth it, then they could charge an extra $2-$3 to see the museum. Oh well, in the end it was all quite enjoyable, gorgeous, and definitely worth the price of admission.

Friday, April 16, 2010

EtsyBloggers Blog Carnival #1 for April 23, 2010

Happy birthday Joey & Aleethea! In your honor, this week's Blog Carnival is about birthdays: "Tell us your birthday/what astrological sign you are/what are your plans for your birthday this year?"

Well, my birthday for the year has already passed - January 14. On the standard Zodiac I am a Capricorn, the steadfast worker who perseveres, which is usually true. Things are a little trickier when you move to the Chinese Zodiac however. 1973 is the year of the Ox, which seems quite familiar to the Capricorn in me. However, Chinese New Year is not January 1st - it's actually a few weeks later. In the year I was born, Chinese New Year fell on February 2. So after years of anxiety over being compared to a big dumb cow, I discovered that I was actually born in the year of the Rat! Now, rats aren't exactly favored here in the U.S. But check out Wikipedia's description of a Rat on the Chinese Zodiac:

"Forthright, tenacious, intense, meticulous, charismatic, sensitive, hardworking, industrious, charming, eloquent, sociable, artistic, shrewd. Can be manipulative, vindictive, self-destructive, mendacious, venal, obstinate, critical, over-ambitious, ruthless, intolerant, scheming."

To me, the Rat makes so much more sense! I am actually dual-natured, sometimes quiet and reserved, but behind that is the crazy, wacky, wicked, and demanding. The Rat just sounds so much more balanced to me than Capricorn.

And then there's the fact that Rat is interchangeable with Mouse, the animal I associate with because of my name. The pronunciation of my name leads to all sorts of misspellings and nicknames, my favorite of which has always been Mousegirl.

Doing all of this fact checking, apparently there are more designations to determine your true zodiac, together called the Four Pillars. Here we go:

First Pillar (Ancestry and/or Early Age): Year of the Rat (Water, Yang)
Second Pillar/Inner Animal (Parents and/or Growing Age): Month of the Ox (Earth)
Third Pillar (my Upper Character, spouse's Lower Character; or Adult Age): Day of the Dog (Metal)
Fourth Pillar/Secret Animal (Kids or Late Age): Hour of the Dragon (Metal)

Supposedly, the Hour designation is supposed to be the truest representation of yourself. I'm kind of doubting this one:

Dragon - Magnanimous, stately, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, jealous, eccentric, intellectual, fiery, passionate, decisive, pioneering, artistic, generous, loyal. Can be tactless, arrogant, imperious, tyrannical, demanding, intolerant, dogmatic, violent, impetuous, brash.

While there are some things in there to relate to, the majority of characteristics are actually quite contrary to who I am. Hmm...

So, in summary, I am the Rat Ox Dog Dragon Mousegirl. They don't exactly sound like they would play well together, now do they?