Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Breaking out of the box

I have a very bad habit. 

I like to stay in my comfort zone.  It is rare that I venture anywhere outside of it.  Hey, why would I?  I like it!  My comfort zone is clean, planned and organized.  As you can see in this picture of my latest fine silver earrings

Clean, simple lines.  I love how the enamel just glows and really sets off the leaf pattern inside. 
Another example of my comfort zone are these rings

Yet again, clean and simple, makes a statement without being too "in your face".

So why do I have a problem? 

Because I know that to grow as an artist I have to continually push myself out of my box, out of my comfort zone and test the boundaries of what I think I can do.  Easy to type this, a lot harder to put into practice! 

For me, anything organic is hard.  To just go with the flow of a piece, let it dictate where it is headed...not my cuppa tea!  As you can probably tell I do have some control issues.  I like to tell the clay or metal what to do and then I expect the sucker to behave!

But recently I decided to try to let go of the steering wheel and let the piece do the talking.

First off was a ring....yes it is still a tad organized but the layout and the eventual result just happened as I was sitting at my table.  I didn't know what stones I would set, if any.  I didn't know what the shape would be or how it would sit.  I decided to let it make those decisions.

I have to say the end result wasn't too shabby!

But it was still simple, elegant....not organic.  I wanted to see if I could let myself go enough to create something so outside my comfort zone.  The result?

This was a milestone for me.  Do I do wirework?  No.  Do I do organic shapes and mixing and  But I did.  And even though it isn't something I would probably wear, I think it turned out ok.  It is for a school auction so I hope other people like it!  I paired it up with these earrings

Now these are totally me.  Can't wait to make more of them and see if others like them as much as I do!

So what did I learn?  That it is okay to let go of the controls every now and then.  It is okay to experiment and see where it takes you.  It may not be comfortable but it is a growing experience that produces fine results!

And what do I want you to do?  Comment and tell me how you have pushed your boundaries with your art.  How have you stepped outside your box and what did you learn?  I look forward to hearing your stories!

And if you like anything you have seen, check out my etsy shop where most of these things can be found!

Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Sometimes less is more!

Ever have a grandiose wonderful idea?  Of course you have, we all do!  But sometimes we can get bogged down in these ideas, overwhelmed to the point of being able to accomplish nothing.  The whole picture can get quite daunting at times.  But if you break it down into bite sized pieces, not only do you find yourself less intimidated but all of a sudden you are accomplishing things left right and center!

Here are some of my latest creations and listings on my etsy site:

Some adorable conch shell stud earrings made out of fine silver

Some starfish earrings with colourful accent czs

Some cutiepie palm trees

And finally some sweet little sterling studs with a lilypad texture

I have more intricate pieces on my desk....for instance a ring to go with the lilypad earrings, but yesterday decided to do something sweet and simple to clear my mind.

Check out my etsy store to see more!
MonaLisa Creations

If you find something you like, in the comments section tell me you follow my blog and there just might be something a little extra special in your package!

Also I am completely open to feedback and criticism so tell me what you think!  Changes I should make, kudos (loooove those :) ) anything you think I should know!

Friday, 8 November 2013

What to do when your creative juices stop flowing

Wow, has it been forever since my last post! 

Seems like it has been months since I have felt any creative juices flowing through my veins.  It wasn't that I wasn't thinking of wonderful things to create, or dreaming of spectacular designs that I would love to see come to fruition.  Nope, it was just getting those things to the next step was next to impossible.  It seemed that every time I even sat down at my desk, I had no desire to do anything.  Seriously, no desire at all.  So that of course made me feel even worse, which of course made it impossible to do anything.  Hubby having major shoulder surgery and needing care for weeks didn't help. 

So what did I do?  I sat my tush down and forced myself to clean up.  I have to admit, when my tabletop is covered with bits and pieces of projects that I haven't finished or the mess from my last great creative moment...I feel less inclined to do anything.  So for all of you out there who are feeling those creative blahs, my recommendation?  Go clean up your table, desk or wherever you work.  Once you see that bright shiny clean surface you will WANT to start something new.  Next step, try something different.  Change up your art...whether it is painting instead of claying...drawing instead of sculpting...anything just to switch up your brain for a bit.  It works, I promise!

So instead of panicking about this copper and bronze piece that I just couldn't bring myself to work on, I started back with silver.  Fine silver, sterling silver, didn't matter, any silver would do.  And once I started playing around the juices started flowing.  What resulted were some pieces I am pretty damn proud of!

 First off I made this fine silver enameled pendant that I paired with handmade silver links, BC jade and some citrine beads.  Turned out so much better than I expected and it was auctioned off at a recent event with proceeds going to our local Humane Society.  I made a pair of earrings to go with it so it was a pretty cute set when it was all done.

I hope the person who won it enjoys it as much as I did making it!

So then the creative well was overflowing with ideas.  Next on the list, sterling silver.  Can I just say I adore this stuff?  Once I had the firing schedule down, it was a blast to play with.  I just started making ring after ring....which led to this:
A beautiful collection of adorable stacking rings.  Once you start making them I swear you can't stop!  Next step, taking the plunge and getting the old etsy shop back up and running.  If you have a moment, please pop by my shop and check the stuff out Just the rings right now but I will be adding things slowly but surely!  Let me know what you think!

So now what do I do?  Well I think I have taken enough time to refresh my creative juices...they are flowing now baby!  So back to the copper and bronze and try to figure this stinking thing out! 

Have a great day and go create!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Have you graduated?

Yes, graduation season is upon us.  Whether it is high school, college, preschool or anything, it seems like everyone around me is graduating.  My daughters are almost there...not that I am ready for it!

But my question today is, have YOU graduated?  To me graduation means an end to one learning environment and maybe a move to another.  I think I should rephrase that question though.  The real question is...should we ever really graduate? 

Life is learning.  It is expanding our minds and taking in knowledge.  As an artist we need to keep that information stream flowing.  Whether we are taking classes, reading books, teaching others, even just looking at the world around us, we should always be learning.  Our path ends when we think we know all we need to know.  The world around us is full of new things and experiences that we get to enjoy everyday. 

So enough philosophical stuff....on to some pictures!

I love to learn, and am always reading and watching tutorials.  But living in the Bahamas kind of puts a crimp in my!  So I am now the queen of online classes.  One of my favorite sources is Craftcast where you can watch live classes or even prerecorded ones.  An amazing metal clay artist, Wanaree Tanner (a recent Saul Bell award winner!) taught a wonderful class that I enjoyed taking.  Here are my attempts at following

This is the first copper torc bracelet I made.  It is COPPRclay set with Smokey Quartz bullet cabs.  It was so much fun, it opened me up to so many new ideas of what you can do with copper clay and copper tubing!

This is my most recent bracelet.  It is ArtClay Copper and Silver set with garnet bullet cabs.  Holy crap was this fun!  It really fed into my anal retentive side...I love spending time putting all the pieces together.  I plan on making many more of these and see lots of ideas and paths to go down with it!

So topic to discuss is, how do you keep your creative juices flowing?  How do you keep learning and growing? 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Opening my eyes to the joys, and woes of Sterling Silver

"Failure is not falling down, failure is not getting back up again"

This is what I am trying to live by...but not the easiest thing to do or so I have found.

I decided to try some new techniques and some new (to me!) products.  I have never played with Sterling silver clay before and have just started using my Silhouette Cameo. 

This is a pendant in progress.  It is a labradorite cab set in SS bezel wire on a piece of SS that I have textured and engraved on the back.  As you can see there are holes where I plan on adding doodads and hanging a chain.  What did I learn from this?  I learned how small I can go with the engraving as the saying on the back is a tad too small to be legible (at least I know what it says! lol) 

Now this is the piece that I have to remind myself not to see the cracks, the mistakes here and there but see what I learned and did well.  This is a ring that I made after taking Wanaree Tanner's class on Craftcast.  She taught us how to use the Cameo to make texture plates, how to use it to engrave and how to construct the ring.  What do I love about this piece?  First off I love how well I soldered the bezel and the ring shank.  I have to pat myself on the back for that! I love how well the engraving of the Chinese symbol for hope turned out on the inside of the ring panel.  I did learn how to do so many different things with this, and I can't wait to start another.  I did have a b$%#@ of a time firing this sucker.  For some reason my Magic Carbon refused to work...and after refiring in my original carbon some pieces sintered and some just would not sinter no matter what I did!  The band that was supposed to go with this ring panel didn't sinter so I used another ring shank that I had made to make another ring.  I am going to have to allow myself to have the learning curve that is necessary and not judge myself by my mistakes but rather learn as much as I can with each and every piece.

Something I read in Vickie Turner's blog really impacted me today.  She was talking about her painting and how she had to remind herself that yes, she is good enough.  If I only take what other people think as what I am worth, then I will only be disappointed.  I have to remind myself that yes, I am good enough.  So everyone, give yourself a gentle reminder today that you ARE good enough, no matter what others think!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Many firsts...

This pendant pictured above is the result of many firsts for me.  First time ever using COPPRclay, first time ever making a sized bezel for a specific stone, first time firing two separate moving parts together and first time ever taking a pretty good pic! lol

I have no clue what kind of stone this is so if anyone has an idea, please feel free to comment on it. 

I have been very nervous about doing this kind of pendant for awhile but after taking a class from Wanaree Tanner (the MOST amazing teacher and metal clay artist IMHO) I decided to go for it.  It turned out so much nicer than I had hoped for.  It took a lot of time and many different steps were involved but it was a lot of fun.  Since COPPRclay has a large shrinkage rate I made a much larger polymer clay blank to use to fit the components around.  I was worried that I made it too big but it turned out perfectly.  My local business shop had quite the giggle when I took a bag of stones in to get photocopied and enlarged on their machine...but it was worth it!

Here you can see how the pendant moves freely on the bail even though it was built and fired together.  I wasn't sure that would work but it did and has really opened me up to a lot of ideas I now have to try!

Here you can see the textured back of the pendant.  The COPPRclay really takes texture well and the colours on it are gorgeous.  Only thing to do now is seal it so it stays like this!

Overall I have to say I absolutely love COPPRclay and can't wait to work with it in the future.  I have a project in the works that I hope to have done by next week, a torc bracelet that I think will be awesome!

Thanks for checking this out!  Off to the studio (aka my closet) on this rainy muggy day to keep the creative juices flowing!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Why do people carpet their ruts?

Now that is a title eh?  lol!  You must be wondering what Lisa is on these days.  Read on and all will be explained!

Woke up to a beautiful rainy day today and decided to get off my butt and do something other than waste time on Facebook games!  Well, at least waste a little less time...

Why does it seem that when something goes wrong, EVERYTHING has to follow?  Over the past few weeks we have had both cars in the shop (one is still there!) and a couple of days ago our water heater burst.  While that was being fixed sure enough, our garage door busted as well.  I am so done with this month....can't it just be June already?

So, back to the title of this blog....why do people carpet their ruts?  Let me clarify the question. I want to know why it seems that not only are people stuck in a rut seems they love their ruts so much they have carpeted them, made a really comfortable home in them. They don't leave their comfort zone, they don't think outside of the box....and they don't acknowledge those who do.  They seem shocked when someone wants to go further.  And if you aren't one of the rut carpeters then we are back to the whole high school scene of the "cool kids vs the nerds".  I happen to fall into the "nerd" category. 

You might be asking where is this venting coming from?  I have been fortunate to be involved with a great group of people since the beginning of my polymer clay experience.  Over the years I have learned a lot from some very special people who have gladly shared their knowledge and experiences with me,  and I have grown and progressed in so many different directions.  But I guess I failed in not kissing the right behinds as I went along....

I happen to know an amazing polymer clay artist who shall remain nameless that does spectacular work.  This individual does techniques and colourways that are new and exciting.  She reinvents herself on a regular basis and shares everything she knows with anyone who wants to learn.  She is totally about the whole community and not just selfishly focused on herself.  But she will never be included in the "cool kids" group and I have wracked my brain to try to figure out why.  She is never on the teaching list which is shocking as I for one, would take her class in a heartbeat.  But no, it is the same old group over and over again, teaching the same old stuff over and over again.   And if there is a newbie added to the list?  It is the bestie of one of the original members.  And then their bestie gets added....and so on and so on.

What happened to wanting to grow, to change, to see where art will take you?  Why do people get so afraid of change, when change is life? 

This whole realization has afforded me the clarity to realise some changes I needed to make in my life.  I can't change people, the only thing I am in control of is how I react to them.  And since I value myself and my time, I won't be wasting anymore of it trying to figure out why these people are the way they are and what I must have done wrong to upset them.  I realized I didn't upset them, they are just so self involved that I never even entered their radar in the first place. 

Okay enough blog will be about my first experience with COPPRclay and sizing a bezel!

Feel free to leave a comment on how you feel about this subject, good or bad.  And if you are really daring, look at yourself and ask "Am I in a rut?  Do I want out or am I just too comfortable here?"