Thursday, July 9, 2015

Of Snake Tails...

In Progress
I didn't set out trying to make a piece the looked like a snake's tail.  But that's what it looks like to me.  Snakes are not usually something I look to for inspiration, but I respect them like all other animals, and enjoy seeing them in nature when the opportunity arises. And if they are poisonous I like them at a safe distance!

Maybe I chose to make this piece that looks like a snake's tail because it says something about my life right now or how I am feeling.   Or perhaps it was the pretty little snake I found under a rock one day next to my hives.

Once in graduate school we had a seminar with Charon Kransen.  He spoke to us about ideas and inspiration.  And one of the things he said has always stuck with me.  It was something to the effect of:  True work never lies about the artist.

I'm not exactly sure what this piece is saying about me right now, but never the less I am pleased with its execution and the way it turned out!  I incorporated some found rubber I liked, recycled antique roofing copper that was die-formed, and sand casting to reproduce the bail I had first carved out of copper.
Finished Piece
Have a lovely Thursday everyone!


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Portrait of an Artist

A year ago one of my students in a workshop Linda, said her and her husband were visiting from the Vancouver area. She mentioned that her husband is a photographer and loves to do portraiture of people in their natural work environments. She said he had already done quite a few in San Miguel but is always looking for more people. She gave me his information and when I had a look at his site I was really blown away. I got back to Linda and said I would love to be included in a shoot if it worked out.

Last year it did not, but this year when they were here visiting again we got it together. We set up a time a few weeks ago and I was really thrilled to be able to invite Linda and her husband Richard Paris to come for a visit and shoot here at my studio.

The whole experience was fun, and they were both such a pleasure to work with! This was really good because Richard took fotos for 4 full hours to get all the details he wanted just right. Have a look at the great shots Richard ended up with, giving an insiders glimpse of me and my studio! And if you have not seen his work before, it's really exceptional so go and check out his website when you have the chance!

Happy April 1st everyone!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Old and the New

In pre-hispanic Mexico during the bronze age metalwork played an important role in all different parts of life. One example are the beautiful little bells that were made in the northwestern part of the country in the several hundred years preceding the arrival of the Spanish. These bells were important especially in aspects of religion and ceremony. During my travels in Mexico I have taken pictures of a variety of artifacts in different museums. Once while I was in Jalapa Veracruz I took this foto of examples of these bronze bells and tucked it away.

Over the last year I have found myself particularly fascinated and drawn back to this form of the bell. Once inspired, it was then time to dig the pictures back out, study, and begin doing a little more research. Although the original bells would have been cast using the lost wax technique, I began an exploration of the bell form using sand casting.

The sand casting technque is another ancient method for the reproduction of objects. It has also been used in this country for many generations. My goal in using sand casting for this project was to find a less intensive fun way to develop a product which represented this old traditional form, and in doing so,be able to share an interesting part of the history of Mexico with my students.
If you are able to join me for my summer workshop at the 92nd you might go home with a great little bell something like this!

Have a great creative Thursday everyone!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Speaking Your Language

I think the people you are meant to encounter will always find you in this life, whether they be new friends, partners or even clients.

This weekend I participated in a nice little art walk they did in my neighborhood.  There were maybe 100 people that came through my studio those 2 days, most were pleasant and showed an interested face but only a few really stuck out in my mind after the cards were folded.
My Bench
One woman I know came early one day and bought a tiny little sculpture she said she had been thinking about since last year.  She said if I still had it, it was meant to be.. well indeed I did still have the object and so it went home with her even though it was the last thing I ever would have expected anybody to buy!
Anti-War sculpture
I also spent time chatting with some old friends as well as meeting a few new interesting people.  A woman I met for the first time is a beekeeper and we hit it off right away, and we talked for quite a while.

Just like those few “right” people who found me this weekend at the art walk I too found some great  new friends last spring when I did the 2-week Residency at Haystack mountain school of crafts. Some of the people were a joy to be with at the time and I have not talked to them since, others I have almost weekly contact with and I suspect I will be in touch with for years to come!  Among those I met at Haystack a few have had a very positive affect on my career in the past year!

One of the great recent opportunities for me has been getting to know and working a bit with Whaley Studios in San Diego because of one of my friends from Haystack, Tara Magboo who works there.  Among teaching some great classes Whaley studios does an online interview of a great person in the jewelry field once a month. In January I was lucky enough to have them interview me!  So if you would like to know a little bit more about me and my work please check out this link:
That's me casting.

Happy Miercoles everyone!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Food For Thought

 This brooch was made for Cristina the woman that owns a small studio in Mexico City called Taller Tierra y Plata. It is a wonderful place, I have given a class there at least once a year for the last 7 years.  It was going to be Cristina’s birthday and since her sister already knew my work, she contacted me to make a gift for her. 
Making this present for Cristina was something I was happy to do because Taller Tierra y Plata has played an important role in my professional development over the last 7 years.  At first I wasn't sure what I was going to make but Cristina’s sister gave me full artistic freedom.  So on my next trip to Mexico city I stopped in to visit Cristina at her studio and drop off some of my honey. 
While I was there I took a look around because apart from making jewelry Cristina is also a designer and potter (a good one I might add).  She always has cool contemporary designs she is working on, and one was a ceramic "molcajete" form.  Molcajetes are traditionally made out of volcanic rock, and used for making and serving salsa here in Mexico.


I liked this object a lot, and it sparked in me an idea for the piece for her.  
Here in my studio I already had a mold for the hydraulic press to make a "metate" form, which in some ways is sort of similar to a molcajete.  But I didn't really like the mold for the metate shape for this piece, so I made a new one that looked alot more like a molcajete. 
The molcajete die form is pressed out of old roofing copper.  The brown die-pressed form above it that kind of looks like escaping vapor was a sample I did some time back that has been floating around my parts bucket.  It doesn't represent something specific for me but seemed to match very nicely the theme or scene.  It could be vapor perhaps or as my father said: chocolate, or even wisps of thoughts, inspiration and ideas!  I know that Cristina also really likes to cook, so I thought the molcajete to be very fitting.
Bits and pieces before everything came together.
Just recently I got back one of my pieces from a gallery which had a round silver stamped area with a black glass button in the middle.  I liked it so much that I decided to reproduce it in this piece. 
Do you see that little black button? 
 It comes from a collection that my great grandma Castle had that got passed down to me from my maternal grandmother.  The ruler was an old ivory piece that was given to me by a friend in Mexico City, it seemed to fit the composition nicely given that Cristina is an artist and designer. Since it was already broken it was easy to modify it to fit the parameters of this brooch. 
Finished piece!
May food or what ever source fills you, lead you to your next great burst of creativity and inspiration! 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Do You Know Where Your Stones Come From?

As many of you may already know I don't often use stones. 
I do mount bits of things in my work but stones are rare, and if I do use them they have to be well how should I say.. a bit out of the ordinary!

Of course it would be nice if I had a "before" shot, but I don't...  

Ones of the times I was in the village of Mineral de Pozos I picked up this sandstone piece that had a nice bit of orangish quartz drooozy on it.  
It sat in my studio for a long time 
today, as I was preparing stuff for the 2-week residency program at Haystack in Maine this summer,

it spoke to me.  

So I called my friend Kim and he was nice enough to let me use his equipment to cut it up and make it into a few nice little shapes.  
Many might not like it as a stone or say that it has very little value because most of the tops of the little crystals are broke off, 
but it's something special to me because I know where it came from.  

I wonder if some one I know might call these stones Wabi-Sabi?  
And so these nice bits will get packed away for my trip to Maine, 
perhaps something very cool will come from them during my time there!!


Monday, January 6, 2014

Devices of the Creative Process

It's the beginning of a new year and a great way to get it started is in the studio, or at least by thinking creatively to get you going in the right direction!  

People find inspiration for their artwork in all different ways.  It can change depending on your medium or the approach to the type of artwork created.  So many variable factors are involved that the possibilities are enormous, it can be very exciting but also daunting.  

I don't want you to be be over whelmed with a new start, this is why I would like to talk about several approaches and techniques I use in my creative process, and one in particular that can be used in almost any medium.  So come along with me and hopefully you will find that new bit of useful information or a glimmer of inspiration for that next project!

I would say my 3 biggest areas of current inspiration are plants, architectural elements, and a 3rd one simply being piles of parts and detritus I have sitting around the studio which I have collected over time.  

My natural environment gives me insight into the special spacial structure which occur around us in organic forms.  I spend time each day with my cactus collection examining how all the plants grow and change.  Taking special note of any variations either in growth patterns or illnesses.  
The Mexican architecture is also a wonderful resource for me.  I love the structures, colonial and more contemporary alike.  The forms, textures and colors found within them and on them are incredible, many of my pieces have their foundations raised from the presence of these buildings.  Here is a great example of an old building with a blue and white facade from the village of Mineral de Pozos that became a fun brooch.

I also can get very excited and inspired to create work from the little repositories of collected elements I have sitting around my studio.  Sometimes the shapes, textures or designs of these elements will speak to me and inspire a piece.  Or perhaps I may already have a specific design in mind and then go looking through my reserves of scrap bits searching for that one little extra added element that completes the soul of the piece. 
Regardless of where the inspiration comes from there are many people out there that say it should all be put down on paper first by sketching or drawing out the idea or design.  From time to time I do indeed draw in my sketch book, and I did it for many years during my university studies.  But I have never really gotten excited about it, or felt very confident about my skills to draw or sketch, and sometimes I even get frustrated because it seems so hard for me to project on paper a true image of what I really want to end up creating in the end.  
For this reason one of the very biggest parts of my creative process is making patterns.  I probably started doing this years and years ago when I worked at a machine shop, even before I ever started studying jewelry.  Most of my patterns get made out of thick paper such as card stock that I can cut with an exact-o knife. 
But some patterns I also cut out of thin sheet metal.  I love my patterns, they are an immense help to me.  I like the fact that I can have a hard edge to push against and draw a line along, it also comes in very handy when I want to go back and make another piece the same or similiar to one I already made.  I have drawers with hundreds of patterns in them, sometimes I just like looking through them.  I can even go back and study my patterns for inspiration.  This can also be an added plus when you wish to make bodies of work that have similiar design elements, because you can build off of already existing patterns you know you love!  

Here's wishing you all a rich and productive new start in your studio for 2014!