Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Beach House and The Artist's Mark

We survived! What a year! I'm back by the ocean, only the one off the east coast this time, the same ocean I swam in till I was 7. I feel I can wave to my cousins in Sola, Norway and they might see me and wave back. There's something about coming back to the familiar, like putting on an old sweater that bends exactly where you bend. It looks right, smells right, sounds right, and it feels right. I have posted a bunch of pictures at the bottom so you can see the studio, the home, the view, the surroundings, and the moods of the sea. That feels right, too! The Arctic Fox asked if I found the storms and surging waters depressing or unsettling. These suit me. They suit my moods, fire my imagination and I find I sit and watch nature unfold in all it's power and beauty and can't be bothered with television. There is even a sound, quite distinct, that you hear when the tide comes in.

The new (old) studio is up and running and working perfectly. I can get as messy as I want! I have room to dance and there's even the odd little field mouse that shows up to see what I've been up to.

Hello, I'm back! Thank you to all of you who have patiently hung in there. I hope to share some interesting things with you this year.

To start, here are some very rustic, hollow beads. They fascinate me. Pods. In the garden. In the studio. Claire Maunsell gave a 1-day surface technique class in Montreal last spring and I'm so glad I was able to take it before the move. She's a lovely lady, talented, totally forthcoming, and a great example of "mining a vein". Look her up (she has a blog,, a flickr site and an etsy site).

This is my starting point for this year in polymer clay:

The bead we made in the class using various surface techniques:

The goal, in taking any workshop, should be, not to do identical work to that of your teacher, but to apply what you've learned to your own work, thus broadening the creative application.

Here's the subsequent development in my own work:




mounted as a pendant





These beads are all hollow, looking substantial but light in weight, yet very strong!

Here is our new place:

Unaltered photo!!!!! Sunrise on the salt marsh, from the deck.

same time, rotating 45 degrees, ocean view from the deck, tide is out.

view from living room window, tide is in

Some of our neighbours enjoying the sunlight on the crumbling pier.

other neighbours going for a stroll on the beach

"MY red cliffs"

tide is in


View of The Arctic Fox (in yellow, bottom right), pier and house from 800 feet out (low tide)

165 year-old house built by Capt. John Ross with beams and planks from a ship that went aground in St. Mary's Bay, across the street

The Artist's Mark, my new studio! Painting

metal and wire work

more painting

polymer Art

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Oriental Influence

I'm working with my Burlesque Blend, the red/bronze/black. It's my second favorite colour mix because I love those colours, for one thing, but also because they lend themselves to oriental designs. This is a necklace for a friend. It was a process piece, which took a long time, but was very gratifying since I had no idea of what I was going to end up with. Having spent the last month and a half process painting, I decided to work with the clay in the same manner, letting each choice/decision inform the next choice. I'm very pleased with the result. Earrings to come. I'll try to photograph the earrings at various stages so you can see the process.
Close up (lousy lighting - it's minus 42 degrees outside, pitch black - what else?!!!!!)
please click on images to enlarge

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sorry - I Had to Paint!

Metro East
The energy in this amazing city really influences me. I'm just glad I don't have to drive here!
Living on The Edge
I'm still working out the titles - have to live with them a while yet. Below is a new start with the next stage beside it. Much more still to come.

    Process painting, that's what I do. Sometimes I'll document my process and put it on my painting blog ( 
simply because I love to watch the process of other artists.
I'll continue the process on the other blog.

Next week, back to polymer clay

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Creative Well

Sometimes we get out of the habit of making stuff, and it's easy to think the well has gone dry - I have nothing more to offer creatively - who do I think I am anyway, an artist? Hah!

The Creative Well is a very special place. It never runs dry. Every time we look at something or smell something or touch something or hear something we are adding to the Creative Well. It's usually not something monumental and it's frequently without deliberate intent, but just as drops of water can erode rock, so drops of observations can fill that well. We just need to dip in.

So, when the blank page or canvas stares back, mockingly, haul out your "stuff". Go outside your comfort zone, grab a surface you don't usually work on, do something to it - anything - hammer nails into it, throw (carefully) bleach at it, use a tool you've tucked in a forgotten corner of your stowage, and, once you've done something, scatter your "stuff" around on the surface. Before long your right brain wants to play on the new, unfamiliar surface with old, familiar "stuff" and it starts arranging, manipulating, CREATING.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Sand Sweeper - Completed

The Sand Sweeper, version #1
The Sand Sweeper, version #2
As an abstract artist, one thing I sometimes struggle with is getting too literal. This unfolding saga has exacerbated this problem, especially if I name a piece before it is completed. I then agonize over making the piece fit the title. With this one I had partially built the vessel and hung a "tassel" from the keel, including the "brush" and the quartz crystal, and this had led to the name.

Now, how to complete it! I got stuck until I got frustrated and angry (ok, I got mad!!) and that's when I'm able to throw caution to the wind and just play "what if?"

I find I tend to set problems for myself, simply because I get a lot of satisfaction from solving problems. In this piece I had created a very strong asymmetry. With jewelry one has to establish not just visual balance but also physical balance - you don't want this thing swinging around as you walk and hanging on an angle, especially since I had restrained the asymmetry with very symmetrical links going up to the neck. The kinetic (yes, it spins) polymer clay "wheel" sitting at the stern of the vessel increased the "weight" on the left side, but continued the visual line up from the tassel, so it "felt" good there. 

I needed considerable physical weight to balance the right, also I needed something relatively dark and not too small to balance the visual weight. I chose a large fossilized shark's tooth, discovered on a beach in Ponte Vedra, Florida, during one of many times my family exiled me to the beach to dispel my depressive episodes (I have over 6,000 shark's teeth! Maybe that says a lot about my state of mind at that time! See, I need the beach - it keeps me sane!)

The effect was that of an anchor, but it created a problem - it visually takes your eye down rather than up to the face, and that's not good in jewelry.

Furthermore, the piece hung too low for such a relatively large focal point, so I enlisted the eye of a fellow artist (my younger daughter - I knew all the difficulties of raising children would pay off someday!) and the decision was made that the piece had to hang higher, which meant the two mokume gane beads had to go. 

The shark's tooth "anchor" was exchanged for a heavy, dark glass bead bracketed by two heavy copper endcaps to bring the eye up on the right.

The three white seaworm casings  with swarovski crystals at the tips are very kinetic and also move along the black wire, creating a strong, light focal area as well as eye-catching movement. They also add a feeling of fragility to an otherwise substantial piece.

Detailed images follow:


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Gamla : The Saga Continues

Back home, house is listed for sale, you could definitely say my trip to the beach was eventful! We're moving - to the ocean. I guess you can only keep a Norwegian away from salt water, seaweed, wind, sand and smoked mackerel for so long before she starts to shrivel and become nasty!!! So, the excellent adventure continues. It probably explains the sea-related sagas that have taken up room and board in my head.

The Troll from the Tre Bukkene Bruse Book Bracelet 

thatch-roofed house

the complete bracelet with the oldest Billy Goat Gruff

The bridge under which the troll lives

the book

More characters have appeared and I'll introduce them as they develop.

Gamla (The Olden One): More feared than the Krakken, more terrifying than Surt, the Fire Giant, Gamla sits in her rocking chair, wizened and shrunken. A mountain of pillows add nothing to her diminutive size and the heavy blankets do little to keep the cold from chilling her bones. No one is sure of just how deep her knowledge of the olden ways goes, or of how far reaching her inner sight. None call her kin, yet none dare to send her away.

Gamla stretched out a gnarled hand, gripping my arm with surprising strength. Her skin like thin parchment stretched over a bony frame with veins dancing beneath the surface like swollen worms pulsing with life. Her years stretched thin: her body a frail 4 stone, her will - iron! Fierce determination gleamed in her eye. She had lost none of her passion. "You must tell the story, Anne-Brit!" she rasped. "It cannot end with me, for then there will be no escaping the fjaerning! " Gamla coughed and wiped some spittle from her lip, "Someone must keep watching" she hissed. "Call The Gatherer." Closing her eyes she seemed to shrink into the blankets, dismissing Anne-Brit with a deep sigh.

Liv tugged urgently at her mother's skirt. Anne-Brit was white as the lace on her blouse. "Mama, what was she talking about?" she asked, fearful as much for the look on her mother's face as for the words she had just heard. "I don't know, child...... I don't know." Her mother's voice was low. "Is she a troll?" Liv's words drew a quick glance from her mother. "Don't be rude, child." she admonished. Liv couldn't stop, "But she looks just like a troll with that one big eye glaring at me like that," she muttered.

to be continued.......