Thursday, January 31, 2013

Handmade Bead Pairs Process

When I have time to work with clay in my studio, there are a few "modes" of process that I fall into.
This is my most comfortable, my meditation... 
My handmade production mode.
 I roll out clay coils, cut them into sections, roll them into balls, then form them into beads (here they are being made into my clay shards for a custom order and Etsy shop update).
After they are dry, they are loaded into bisque containers to load into my kiln for a bisque firing.
I load in the mornings so the kiln can fire during the day as I can be present to tend to it.
Peeves, our cat, loves the early morning one on one time.
 When pieces are unloaded the next day, the pairing begins.
I like to work in pairs.
There are lots of reasons in my mind that justify this way of working...
From logical marketing to whimsical visual thoughts to romantic ideals of things that are meant to be together... 
 There are many that do not have mates, and they go back into the tray for sorting through later.
But I find that since I work in batches, and when I work with clay, my mind and heart take over and things never quite turn out the same. 
Imprints of things going on in my life are put into these small objects - my physical and mental state affect how the clay works in my hands as well as how the glaze is applied to the work.
 So working in this routine and rhythm of pairs works for me.
Because I have been firing my beads and pendants for years in the same manner (on hooks, on rods, on racks, in kilns to Cone 5/6) I have a firm grasp on how to load and fire efficiently.
I cringe at wasted kiln space and using excessive energy, so I avoid that.
Keeping pieces together in pairs allows for more controlled results in the firing itself as the kiln atmosphere varies and can change a glaze easily.
 Opening a glaze fired kiln is like receiving a gift that was unexpected and very thoughtful and perfect for that moment - a pure delight... For the most part (there are those disappointed times too).
With unloading there is a process as well.
I have different size hooks rods that need to go back into their proper containers.
And pairs that need to stay together to avoid excess work later...
 Looking at a tray full of finished beads is such a delight.
Taking them off the rods to see their entire surface is beyond words at times.
The way the clay texture and glaze interact is so awesome.
Ceramics and Glazing can be magical...
And for me, this process of working in batches, keeping things in pairs, keeps me organized and helps cut down on excessive repeat sorting work, which could take hours - not to mention the headaches of matching (and matching, and matching...)
In the end, this process of making handmade beads in this sort of production mode will allow me to have more creative time to see what other new ideas will emerge.

Etsy shop and website updates are happening very soon!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Progress and Thoughts

Finally! I spent some time in the studio with these pieces again. It has been far too long...

I cut and cleaned the steel wire for these head pins (my friend Nikki of Thornburg Bead Studio makes them).

And used Epoxy to set them into place. Now they are dry and I could play with then.
Just like anything new - I like to see how they look and hold up. Do I need to change anything before selling them?

Now for photographing them. How do I want to do that?
I need to get some nice house plants and terrarium shots for some that I have in mind, but what about the every day sell them shots?

So I grab what I can find: I had a brand new block of that green oasis (must be in that "safe place where I can easily find it" because I cannot find it...
Oh we'll. the one that was poked at by my Chloe (5) will have to do.

I remember being a kid and loving to do that too (heck - I still do!)
Just fill it in with little other bits - not a big deal for this purpose.

Cover it with moss (just randomly spritz the moss with water to keep it alive over time). This is a messy process, so do it somewhere that can be wiped easily.

Then fiddle with accents.
Wait. Isn't this a prop for photo shooting? ADHD kicked in and I totally started fiddling...

Oh - wait didn't I make other things intended to use in little terrarium type planters?

The little turtle I made for Chloe (was in one of those shape cutter sets from the store and I added some texture to the shell).

My friend Nikki sent me a photo of a few sets she had fiddled with, and she added a couple of her head pins that she spiraled the steel base, then put them in as accents. Perfect!

But this is such a small space, and my brain says too much. Well maybe. Then decided upon that this is one of the joyous things about this line of work I am now making... That it is a changeable display. It will change to suit your mood as you move pieces. Remove some. Add others.

And then there is the "put some into house plants to be found by curious eyes". It reminds me of the holiday tradition of hiding the Christmas pickle ornament on the tree. Makes people stop and take a look at the details when they know something may be there hiding - waiting to be found...

So this is where I am at with this.
I am dedicating more time this week coming up for photographing this new work.
Then a website and or Etsy shop update...

- Posted using BlogPress from my mobile device

Friday, January 4, 2013

First Friday Art Walk Weekend on

It's First Friday Art Walk Weekend on!
And the AWETeam (Art Walk Etsy Team) is hosting this monthly weekend long event of artwork on Etsy by AWETeam members.
So I'm going to quick show off some of my work that is over in my MarshaNealStudio Etsy Shop, something I should have done back in December. Some work is new, some is from December.
Marsha Neal Studio Line Curls Crescent Earrings
Marsha Neal Studio Porcelain Clay with Patina Glaze Disc Bead
Marsha Neal Studio Chocolate Clay Crescent Spiral Textured Beads
And realizing that my OOAK random 2mm silk strand color palettes were down to a couple,
I spend an afternoon relaxing with the kids watching some movies, and pulled a bunch of new palettes and then listed them in my Etsy shop.
This is one of those things that happens 2, maybe 3 times a year.
So grab some while they are fresh!
Marsha Neal Studio offers 2mm Hand Painted Silk Cords
Marsha Neal Studio offers 2mm Hand Painted Silk Cords
Marsha Neal Studio offers 2mm Hand Painted Silk Cords
Marsha Neal Studio offers 2mm Hand Painted Silk Cords
Which now makes me think. Darn. I just reshot a bunch of the ones I keep in stock and have multiples of. Do I need to re-shoot them too? Eh. Not right now...
Marsha Neal Studio offers three kinds of silk cords/ribbons (2mm, Fairy, Silky Silks)
Also, I just purchased a self paced improve your photography class:
Photographing Fine Art & Craft by Brit Hammer
Which I found through an email I received from Susan Lomuto of  Daily Art Muse

So far, I read up through page 41 and I am digesting it all.
Letting my mind get around some of the basic concepts she puts forth and letting my mind settle in and relax a bit to be able to enjoy photographing my work instead of getting overwhelmed with it.
(I'm not to lighting yet - and that is the part that always frustrates the heck out of me - so we'll see...)

The new terrarium pieces are still being glazed and preparations are underway for them being photographed with this new state of photographing my work in place...

And don't you know... I got a summons from the State of DE for Jury Duty on Jan. 8 (figures!) so their arrival into the public realm will definitely be more mid-month than early.

Happy First Friday!
Hope you are out there seeing some amazing art (or if online, checking out some of the awesome work that is out there!)