Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stiff - Another edition of the Inspired By Reading Book Club

I’m back!
It was an amazingly busy summer with many successful fairs and the Farmers Market in Southampton.
The most stressful event was the sale of my house and temporary move to a small cottage. We are so lucky to have neighbors offer us their summer cottage.

I’ve missed a few challenges and book club hops, but am ready to jump back in with a short post.

In August, the Inspired By Reading Book Club, hosted by Andrew Thornton, read Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach.  Actually, I listened to most of it. I love audio books while working.

According to Amazon “Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem.” I found the book to be very entertaining and informative. As usual, I had notes on many sections, but the discussion on the need to use cadavers in addition to crash test dummies, struck a personal note. In particular the explanation of how cars have changed over the years and how hoods are now made to just fold up like an accordion.  Friends will recall the time I literally drove my car under a school bus, and, yes, the hood crumpled up to the windshield so there was no impact.

So how I do I portray that in a piece of jewelry? ---  Fold-formed copper, of course.
Have I ever used that technique???
nah –

Thanks to Kim St. Jean’s video, I came up with this bracelet, which was purchased last week!     

I love the colors from the torch!

The other members of the group have also read Lavinia, by Ursula K. Le Guin.

 Be sure to visit Andrew’s blog for the full list of participants.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Drunken Botanist ~ Inspired By Reading

The Drunken Botanist, by Amy Stewart is one of those books that I will need to buy. Stewart combines science, history, folklore and recipes to introduce us to “the plants that create the world’s great drinks”. It’s a book that I will continue to return to just to read a small snippet.  

For the Inspired By Reading Book Club I decided to try my hand, once again, at etching. Actually, I have successfully etched since I disintegrated my copper back in March. This time, I thought I’d try a copper cuff.  I chose copper because the old stills were made of copper. I rounded the ends of a 1”x6” copper strip from Impress Art/PJTools and used a leafy rubber stamp to represent the grain.     
This is my first cuff like this, and I have to say I'm pretty excited with the results!

As far as I know, the birds have no significance. Since I was etching I thought it would be fun to practice with the rubber stamps and try out my new disc cutter by making some 1”circles.

When I learned that gin is made from juniper berries, I knew I had found a use for the vintage German glass beads left over from October's book My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me.
I’m really into dangles these days, so I made a copper circle to hang the “berries” from. As you can see, this time I created a mixed metal piece, with a soldered copper ring and sterling silver dangles and chain. The chain is about 24” long, but if the wearer prefers shorter from time to time, my handcrafted hook will slip into any of the chain links.


Check out the other creative folks in our group.
And do consider joining us next month as we read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Andrew Thornton, Laurel Ross, Alison Herrington, Constance Vale and Karen Hiatt

Monday, June 23, 2014

Blog Hop Overload

Note to self -
Resist commiting to new blog hops.

Don't get me wrong - I love a good challenge. Some of my most creative work has been done in response to challenges.

The problem is - This is my busy season. I have a show or market every weekend through Columbus Day. yikes!
 I just don't have time to hop and comment on the other participants creations.  That's not fair to them. Especially if I want them to visit me too.

That said, I will continue to participate in the Inspired by Reading Book Club each month. And I have another of Andrew Thornton's challenges coming up in August. Besides them, I will concentrate on creations for my shows.

AND my goal is to hop to a few other blogs each day.
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


*Bead Soup Blog Hop is here.
* Ocean Blog Hop is here.

If you’re looking for the latest installment of the Inspired by Reading Book Club, this is the place.
This time we read An Object of Beauty, by Steve Martin. Yes, that Steve Martin; comedian/actor. Who knew?

It’s a great book about the world of art dealers and collectors in New York City in the late 1990’s through present time. Martin follows the main character, Lacey, who will do just about anything to further her career.

This book offered connections on so many levels.
One story line referred to the 1990 art theft at the Gardner Museum in Boston – you must read The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro.

The narrator’s description of walking into the Basel Art Fair in Miami reminded me of my first visit to JOGS in Tucson – “a humongous convention center with its 17 entrances”… a “labrynth” which he did get lost in. I might have to check out one of the major art shows that pop up in The Hamptons this summer.    

I particularly enjoyed the references to places in NYC and the Hamptons that I am familiar with. I have dined at Saint Ambreous - in Southampton. Although lunch was all my wallet could manage. Nello was also in Southampton for a time. Many artists also had studios or second homes out here; Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollack, Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol, etc.

Intriguing also were the references to Maxfield Parrish, as the Parrish Art Museum has been part of the Southampton community for years. The museum was the brainchild of Samuel Parrish. I must admit that I did not realize they were two separate people. One (Samuel) loved art while the other (Maxfield) created it. My research shows that they both came from Quaker families in Philadelphia and probably were related – perhaps distant cousins.

Enough background you say…
What did I create???
First my inspiration… Pop Art and Andy Warhol’s Marilyn and Flowers.  I so enjoyed the illustrations in the book.

Off to my stash to search for blue and yellow beads. Instead I found Andrea Pirkey’s fabulous glass bead, “Dots”. 

Apatite chips and carnelian came off the shelf. The apatite went back after a visit to Island Bead and Jewelry(just to say hi – yeah, right!). I walked out with some lovely Czech glass ovals, a nice contrast to the circles in the bead. I also added small, round  African opal beads and knotted it all together with two strands of silk thread.

 Wait – “Where’s the new technique?” you wonder. Well, I’m thinking maybe it’s time to broaden my scope with all I’ve learned in the past year. Horizontal growth we called it when I was a first grade teacher and staff developer.

The hammered, soldered silver ring and toggle did come off my bench.

By the way, Warhol did create a blue and orange Marilyn! 

Please visit our host, Andrew Thornton’s blog for the list of participants.
And do consider joining us next time as we read The Drunken Botanist, by Amy Stewart. Andrew hosts a meet-up in his shop, Allegory Gallery, in PA on June 24. The hop will post the next day.

Ann Schroeder

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ocean Blog Hop

This Ocean blog hop is hosted by Lisa Lodge. You can find the other participants on her blog, A Grateful Artist.

I decided to join the challenge because I love ocean blues and greens.
So imagine my surprise when I found these lovely oranges in my mailbox...

I will admit the package sat on the shelf for several months while I contemplated what to do with it.
Finally, the inspiration hit me.

The two large pieces cultured sea glass screamed lariat. So I went in search of the right cord. I found the great orange cord locally at Island Bead And Jewelry. It was the only component I had to go out and purchase.

I colored the starfish charms with alchol ink and sealed with glaze.

Lisa encouraged us to use all of the beads in the kit. So, I crocheted the czech glass beads with copper wire to make a bracelet.

I finished it off with bead caps and a toggle clasp from my stash.

I finished up with a few pairs of earrings...

More alcohol inked starfish and orange crystal dangle from sterling silver chain.

This time I dug into my staff for these adorable pewter puffer fish from Green Girl Studios.
I picked these up in Tucson. It was so much fun to finally meet and chat with Cynthia Thornton. I've been a big fan of her creations for years.

Once again, I altered the starfish.
This time I coated front and backwith Vintaj patina in "lapis" (and sealed with glaze).
They're topped by sterling silver rings that I soldered and textured.

I hope you'll visit the other participants. Click on the link to Lisa's blog above.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bead Soup Blog Party

Party Time!!!
Lori Anderson's done it again ~ Today is the reveal for the the 8th Annual Bead Soup Blog Party!
Somehow she's managed to partner up a few hundred people to swap beads. We had to send a clasp, a focal and some coordinating beads.
This is my second time participating. It's great to meet jewelry desingers across the country and work with new and different components. You can check here to see what I did last year... BSBP 2013

This year my partner is Jayne Capps from Oklahoma. I had already "met" Jayne during one of Andrew Thornton's destash events. We had a great online chat and I learned more about Jayne through her blog. I especially related to the post about fixing up her workspace. Make sure you check out what she created with the beach glass I sent her. Jayne's Blog
It was so much fun to get find this package in my mailbox!

And look what I found inside...

Don't you love the way she tagged everything?!

I want to know how Jayne drilled the bakelite mahjong tile.

The group of glass beads told me they had to become a bracelet. I grabbed a few bead caps and spacers from my stash, whipped up a toggle clasp and wire wrapped it all together.

The mahjong tile has so much character on its own that I decided to keep it simple. Jayne's linked beads are now connected to chain and hang from the bottom of the tile. A few spacers, some sloppy wraps and an extra long chain ~ it's good to go!

I combined several different components for this final piece. The hammered tubing is really cool. (so cool that I almost picked some up from Home Depot last week. I love their plumbing and electrical aisles for supplies!)

My original plan was to hook the necklace in front in the smallest ring. When I headed outside for photos, I realized you could actually hook it in any one of the rings. I think I like the hook in the middle ring best.

Anyone who follows me know that whenever I participate in a challenge I have to try something new. My Artistic wire was too shiny, so I torched it to add color and age. (I'm not sure if that shows up in the photos.) It was also a bit tricky to solder the jump rings connecting the copper tubing and chain.

I still have plenty of turqoise nuggets to play with. Earrings!
Thank you so much Jayne for this really fun soup!

And.... huge thanks to Lori Anderson for organizing the group once again!

Please visit some of the other participants!!!
You can access the extensive list on Lori Anderson's post - Welcome to the 8th Bead Soup Blog Party

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Deep Waters Challenge

Today is the reveal for Andrew Thornton's Deep Waters Challenge. (You can click on the link for more info.) And here I am, once again posting at the last minute. As usual, I bit off more than I can chew.
This time Andrew provided us with a kit of lovely ocean blues.  
As usual, he included a "mystery component" - one of his delightful ceramic pieces. I truly enjoy Andrew's challenges because they encourage me to use materials I probably would not pick out for myself. And because I always challenge myself to try new techniques.

As soon as I saw the waxed cord, I knew I'd be tying knots. I decided to make a lariat. I love the versatility of lariats - they can be tied anywhere you want for different looks.

Aren't these aqua blues so summery???

I just had to highlight Andrew's seahorse pendant, so I made silver circle to frame it. I.m having so much fun with my torch and metal stamps! I used the 6mm swirl from Impress Art. Then I wondered how Vintaj patina would work on silver (here's my new technique!) I chose lapis from my supplies, put it on pretty heavy and wiped it off. Yay! The patina stayed in the stamped impressions. After steel wool and the tumbler, I was thrilled with the results!  

I wasted a lot of silver figuring out how to get it to all hang just right, finally settling on chain and jump rings. (Don't worry, scrap silver is Never wasted.)
As an afterthought I strung the rectangular seed beads with some round spacers and Bali beads. I really like the way it brings out the blue in the silver ring and Andrew's pendant.  The two parts can be worn separately or attached like I have them.

Don't forget to visit the other participants!
It's always fun to see how different artists approach the same materials.
Kari Asbury
Shay Williams
Christina Porter
Molly Alexander
Andrew Thornton, Marian Howarth, Julie Katz, Crystal Farrel, Laurel Ross, Alison Herrington
Carolyn Lawson

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Inspired By Reading ~ April~ interpreter of maladies

I enjoyed the April selection for the Inspired by Reading Book Club. For this month, our moderator, Andrew Thornton chose the Pulitzer Prize winner, interpreter of maladies, by jhumpa lahiri. It is an engrossing collection of short stories set in India and Boston. The stories opened my eyes to the customs and culture of the people of India in both settings.

I found inspiration in many of the stories and was able to complete two pieces. I actually combined inspirations from 2 stories for my first design. In, “A Temporary Matter”, the character consults a calendar of William Morris Wallpaper designs. And in the second story, “When Mr. Purzada Came to Dine”, Mr. Purzada's clothes always consisted of plums, olives and chocolate brown.

I searched the internet for William Morris Wallpaper in plums and olives and found “bird and pomegranate" at The Original Morris and Co. 

I made a bezel with 14g copper wire which I hammered and soldered. The oval bezel was soldered to a copper plate which I then textured with metal stamps. The metal was oxidized and tumbled.

Some of you may remember that last month I swore I would never again tumble chain. Well - I did.

Luckily there weren't too many knots.

I asked Andrew for his thoughts on sealing the picture in the bezel and I've decided to wait till I have time to practice on something I don't care about.
(btw - for those who have been following my progress - this piece represents my new skill this month!)

I recently traveled by car from Long Island, NY to Portland, OR with my husband. It was great to have small snippets to read along the way. I read "Mrs. Sen's" as we drove through Ohio. There were several references to the powdered vermilion she put in the center part of her hair - an Indian custom for married women. As I finished the story, I looked up - 
we were just about to cross the Vermilion River!!!
 I quickly jotted a note - I knew I had to find a way to represent that line of vermilion. 

Teepee Canyon Agate and
Rose Quartz from South Dakota
Before visiting Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, I insisted we stop at The Rock Shed in Keystone. My husband would have loved to bring home a large landscape speciman - the South Dakota rose quartz was gorgeous! Unfortunately that was impossible as we were flying home. After a while of wandering around the small shop and chatting with Gene, the lapidary, I chose some tumbled rose quartz and Teepee Canyon agate cabs. 

click this picture to see shape of cab

In Portland, I found matching seed beads at Let It Bead. What a great shop!

I kept the wire wrap simple and neat so the pendant could be reversible. I'm planning to let the copper oxidize naturally. I love that rustic brown.   

The necklace is about 22" long to offset the 2" cab.

Check out Andrew's Blog for links to all the other participants!
The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton

There is one more piece I want to make. In "This Blessed House", the main character wears a "pearl choker with a sapphire at the center". 
Yes, I found sapphires on my trip! Specifically, rough sapphires from the Missouri River at Opal Mountain Gems in Philipsburg, Montana. 
But first I have to tumble and polish them. A project (and learning experience) for another day!

*A little more trivia about the book 

  • it was featured as a question on Jeopardy
  • it has been used in high school English classes in Lansdale PA

I can't wait to see how our next book An Object of Beauty, by Steve Martin inspires me.
Won't you join us???