Thursday, April 14, 2016

That's so Bowie...

It's only been almost two years since I posted to this blog. No big thing, right? Sigh...

I am a contributor for Love My Art Jewelry and blog there quite a bit, but have woefully neglected this page. Sorry....BUT HERE I AM!!

Today's post is in support of LMAJ's current Blog Hop of jewelry and art inspired by David Bowie. Bowie was such an artistic force of nature in so many ways. Music, fashion, film, a writer, a philosopher, A REBEL. A truly "otherworldly" figure that inspired generations and will continue to inspire even in death. He launched his last album three days before he left this planet for good and now millions play the music on repeat searching for hidden meaning in what has become a musical will and testament. In a nutshell, the dude was unfathomably spectacular.

When Staci Louise Smith suggested Bowie as our inspiration for this blog hop I know that most of us at LMAJ figured "No brainer". So much material to draw from, so much to use for inspiration. BUT, I now know personally and from chatting with my blog-mates, this challenge has actually been difficult for many. I believe because Bowie was SO MUCH MORE than one thing. How do you dive into all that amazing madness and hit upon a singular design element to work with? The obvious choice for artists would be his DELIRIOUS aesthetic in clothing and make-up. Micro-mini kimonos and go go boots--check. Neon striped space-suits--check. GLAM ANDROGYNOUS ROCK GOD--CHECK! Talk about an endless pallet of in-your-face designs to choose from....

But wait...

What about the urbane, wickedly handsome thin man in the PERFECT suit? The shot cuffs, crisp lapels, soft color pallet, SLICK AS HELL runway-ready man who looks as though he just stepped out of a GQ cover shoot...what about him?

All this, and OH YEAH, THE MUSIC!!! It's all Bowie, and we haven't even begun to scratch the surface. Soooo, how do you create a piece of art around this brilliant chameleon? Well, here's what I did.

I decided to use the physical man himself as my inspiration for a mixed media pendant. What he looked like in the flesh, words he wrote and spoke, along with imagery celebrating his most famous work, Space Oddity. His eyes were so amazing. One brown, one blue. I focused on that face, the face of an adult who had seen and done what we mere mortals can only imagine. His face is under an optic lens from about 1940. Mr. Bowie saw the world through a very unique lens, and I wanted to nod to his insights. The lower half of his face is covered with a bit of transparency film imprinted with a vintage postcard from Paris. Bowie loved Paris, center of the Fashion World he floated through his entire life. Above, a brass bee. Bowie was a bit of a mystic--a dabbler in many beliefs. Bees, in ancient cultures, were believed to be the sacred insect that bridged the natural world to the underworld. This is a strong subject in much of Bowie's work. I used a hunk of fossil coral to represent the moon, and a sterling silver stars and moon bead floats near his face. Both nods to Major Tom.

On the back, a Bowie anthem. "We could be heroes, just for one day". Nuff said.

Finally, the silver capsule. Another nod to the Space Oddity, and inside a Bowie quote that sums up so much of who Mr. Bowie was...

"I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring." Words to live by.

Occasionally a person drifts through this tiny planet and amazes absolutely every individual he or she crosses paths with. Bowie was that person. Whether you were/are a fan or not, you cannot deny the man's talent, courage, spirit and fierce independence. Corny as it may be, the Heavens gained another star and the night sky is brighter for it.

Be sure to visit all the other artists' blogs and posts featuring work inspired by Bowie. you can find links right now on the LMAJ blog. Thanks for hopping along....

Friday, June 20, 2014

Oh Ricky You're So Fine...Man, That's Awful.

I recently began following Ricky Gervais on Facebook, and discovered that he is a passionate animal welfare advocate.  I already knew him as a ridiculously talented actor, comedian and all-around outspoken individual, but didn’t know about his interest in critters.  Cool.

So, I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if I could somehow get him to notice RSCF?  Wouldn’t he love to come meet Delilah and Ninita and be our new best friend and advocate?  I mean HOW HARD COULD THAT BE, RIGHT???  Yes, I am that na├»ve and pie-eyed.

Who could possibly resist this??  WHO???
So I sent him some pictures and links on Facebook, and wrote a probably way too long message, and asked all my Facebook friends to like the message and beg ask him to contact us AS IF THAT WOULD WORK.  Well, it did….sort of.  Mr. Gervais posts pics every few days of something mind-blowingly adorable with the caption, “I found this in my belly-button.”  I had the brilliant idea this morning to send him a photo of Ninita with the post, “Mr. Gervais, Ninita, our baby pygmy marmoset, would like to know if you have room in your belly-button for her.”  GENIOUS, AMIRIGHT????  Anyway, he actually responded today in the comments with a smiley-face emoticon, about which I am totally excited and consider “first contact”.  Don’t judge, I have no idea how you go about reaching out to famous people these days.

Screen-grab of the Facebook post with Mr. Gervais SMILEY FACE ACKNOWLEGEMENT!
Another Facebook friend forwarded me Mr. Gervais’ management contact info (I have no idea how she got that), and I have decided to write a letter to ask if Ricky (yes, we are on a first name basis since the smiley-face emoticon, right??) would consider meeting us and maybe be a part of one of two documentaries we are considering.  One about the Red-browed Amazon Parrot Program, and another about Delilah and the Bongo Repatriation Program.  Both are equally fascinating—one about a species of parrot brought to the brink of extinction due to habitat loss and the black market pet trade (lots of shady characters, mob connections and even….MURDER), the other a story about the life of an orphaned baby bongo antelope who beat the odds to survive, and her new role as ambassador for a program that has brought her species back from the brink of extinction through captive breeding.  That,  and the successful-nobody-thought-they-could-do-it return of these majestic creatures to their homeland on the protected slopes of Mount Kenya. Get your tissues ready—it’s a tear-jerker. 
So, how the Hell do you put that into an email that is supposed to be two paragraphs no more than 5 sentences each?  That’s what I hear is recommended in a “cold call” like this because celebrities are inundated with requests and if your communication doesn’t grab somebody’s attention in, like, 10 seconds or less it’s one more dumped in the queue headed for the recycle bin.  Notice, I used the word “queue”, which is British, as is Mr. Gervai…I mean Ricky.  Ever since I’ve considered contacting him, all the conversations we have in my head are with British accents.  Yes, I am an idiot.
This stuff just stumps me.  I guess I’m supposed to strap a GoPro on me and run through the field with Delilah for YouTube, or stage some sort of Vine that you pray goes viral featuring Ninta and her toothbrush massages, but I HAVE A REAL LIFE SO THAT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.  I need the folks at Aardman Animations to do a Claymation video of Delilah inviting Mr. Gervais to her prom or something.  That’s still a thing, right? Young folks asking celebrities in a video to go to prom with them?  And yes, it’s Mr. Gervias—who am I kidding????  Hey, Delilah asking him to her prom is pretty damned good idea….hmmmmmmm….sigh, I need help.

Ninita getting a toothbrush massage.
The thing is, we really need someone with a supportive audience and a strong public presence to help us.  We may be a tiny 30-acre facility at the end of a dirt road, but we are home to some of the world’s most endangered wildlife and we succeed where many larger organizations have failed.  Unfortunately, we’re not so good at attracting national support, or a “face”, for our cause.  Bring species back from the brink of extinction?  No problem.  Establish vast tracts of protected habitat home to some of the world’s most endangered plants and animals?  DONE.  Contact a celebrity and get them to support us?  NOT A CLUE.
Why Mr. Gervais?  Why any celebrity?  We live in a time where a recognizable face counts. A LOT.  And more to the point, I respect the man.  He speaks his mind, seems unafraid of voicing his beliefs, and we need that.  Someone willing to tell the truth regarding the status of our world and the incredible damage we have done to it.  And also to show that we can effect change, we can preserve what’s left of nature, but it ain’t pretty and it ain’t easy.  While I am grateful to the recognizable voices behind many “nature shows”, I don’t see Oprah, Morgan Freeman or Alec Baldwin willing to stand up and say out loud what we all know is true—humans have wrought a holocaust against nature with heinous consequences.  I believe Mr. Gervais has the balls to do just that and more.
So, Mr. Gervais, if you see this—please contact us.  There is a tiny monkey, some truly amazing parrots, and a young lady bongo antelope who really want to meet you.  Who really NEED to meet you. 
Now, to squeeze this into two paragraphs 5 sentences each.  Sigh…..

Kisses to you Mr. Gervais!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

For Maya--The Naked Truth

We suffered a terrible loss this week.  The passing of Dr. Maya Angelou has left a silence where once resonated a quiet, calm, deeply emotional and heartful voice.  Her words inspired generations and the echo of her voice will hopefully roll through time forever.
Her passing brought to mind something I created a few years ago--a necklace in tribute to women and how women are perceived through time.  Created from images of vintage nudes, steel, and an aged mirror.  Text affirmations in glass vials rest in between.  I wrote something to go with it, but never published what I wrote until now.  This is for every woman out there who has ever struggled and doubted herself.  The necklace now resides with a fantastic, strong, talented and joyous woman in her own right--I could not have wished for a better person to wear this and live this.  Thank you, Durga.  And thank you Dr. Angelou, for so eloquently speaking and  joyously living your truth, and for sharing that truth with the world.
For Maya--The Naked Truth
What age am I you ask?
I'm the age where I answer to no one but myself.
I'm the age where the only opinion that matters is my own.
I'm the age where my hair, my clothes and my body are configured, adorned and displayed to please only me.
I'm the age where a great sense of humor and a strong sense of self
are a thousand times sexier than a big dick or a big ego.

I'm the age where sex, when I choose to have it, is mind-blowing.
I'm the age where the people I love and choose to spend time with understand what that time is. 
A gift.
I’m the age where time has meaning, and if you waste mine you have stolen from me
and I will have none left for you.
I’m the age when the brand, make and model mean nothing, but quality and craftsmanship mean everything.
I’m the age where art is like breathing and I choose to breathe deeply.
I’m the age where I can weep for the world, and I do. 
I’m the age where I could choose to look away…but I don’t.
My age is a wave that has carried me across a vast ocean, and I ride the swell as long and as far as I can.
My age, in a word, is enviable.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Where Have I Been??? AND, Asymmetry.

First, where HAVE I been?  In a word...WORKING.  RSCF, Beadkeepers, Facebook, RSCF...etc.  I have also been writing for Love My Art Jewelry.  What a fantastic group of amazing jewelry artists!  If you don't know them...GO THERE RIGHT NOW AND LOOK AT ALL THE BEAUTIFUL WORK AND WORDS...I write for their blog twice a month, which has sort of taken the place of writing here.  Sorry.  I have to figure out how to link my posts for LMAJ here...have to ask a neighborhood 12 year old to come show me some of them fancy computer tricks and such.
Anyway, busy on the farm, baby season is fast approaching, which means I will be hand feeding baby parrots, and who knows what else.  In the few moments before all THAT chaos begins, I wanted to bring you all up to speed on the LMAJ's latest blog subject--Asymmetry.  This post is part of LMAJ's blog hop, so please be sure to peek the fabulous works on the subject offered by the uber-creative artists in the group.

Some of my babies--red browed Amazon chick, baby bongo antelope and baby pygmy marmoset.
Asymmetry for me is an integral part of most of my jewelry designs.  Asymmetry involves embracing imbalance--tossing symmetry out the window.  While it is second nature now, it wasn't always so.  Early in my designing life the idea of an "unbalanced" design was CRAZY TALK.  All my designs had to match and balance down to the exact bead count.  The idea of incorporating different shapes and offsets was simply unthinkable.  Now, I can't imagine creating any other way. I draw my inspiration from the natural world, and NOTHING in nature is ever perfect, nothing matches, and it's all GORGEOUS. 
I strongly encourage exploration in jewelry design, and working outside the "balance" can be challenging and very, very rewarding.  I've included a few examples of my own asymmetric works, along with some amazing contemporary designs by artist I adore.  If you have never tried this design aesthetic, take a look at the posts about the subject on LMAJ, explore the Internet for inspiration, and dive in.  There is such freedom designing this way--so many possibilities from simple, elegant works to totally off the wall avant-garde expressions....Throw caution to the wind and CREATE something! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

So, It's All Diana Nyad's Fault...

So, it's all Diana Nyad's fault.  I'm sure you have heard of her spectacular achievement of big thing...just swam solo from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage.  Oh, and she's 64.  So...there's THAT!

 Anyway, her conquest of this particular stretch of ocean was many years in coming, and one of the many obstacles she had to overcome presented itself in a deceptively small package.  A small and potentially deadly package.  I'm talking about jellyfish.  Jellyfish that have caused her to abandon the swim on more than one occasion.  If you have never been stung by one, it's so hard to describe the pain.  I grew up in South Florida and have been swiped by a jellyfish or two...never anything major, just hit by a trailing tentacle and BELIEVED I WAS BEING CONSUMED BY LIQUID FIRE.  Now imagine swimming into a school of dozens of jellyfish...face first.  HOLY CRAP.  That is what Diana Nyad has done...more than once.  And she still gets back in the water.  Damn.

So, with all this in mind, and feeling so PROUD for her that this time she MADE IT, I was inspired to make a jellyfish pendant for her.  I call it "Nemesis of Nyad".  Hand constructed out of copper, brass and enamel copper, with pearls.  It should be in her publicist's hands about now, and I anxiously await Diana's reaction.  I hope she likes it!

 This design is now rooted in my brain, like, with tentacles or something.  I'm making a few more in silver and brass.  It's such an organic, flowing shape that lends itself to so many design possibilities.  I have a ton of ideas brewing.  One of which was to make a jellyfish bangle bracelet.  I imagined all those tentacles flowing around my wrist and figured this would be a relatively easy design to create.  WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.  What a nightmare.  It began so well...creating the jellyfish body, then laying out the tentacles, getting the flow, then trying in vain to wrap that mother around my bracelet mandrel.  My fatal flaw(s) was impatience (I didn't think ahead enough to plan for the placement of all the wonky tentacles), and not really knowing how long I needed the tentacles to be to create a standard 8-inch bangle because of all the bends and curves, which I created sort of as I went.  Well, after the initial failed wrap around the bracelet mandrel, I realized that I would need to solder the tentacles together in spots, as some were shorter than others.  I used 14 gauge nickel silver wire-- I wanted the bangle to be stiff to hold all the bends and curls.  Having forced it around the mandrel once, I had to hammer it flat again, and with all the flow, curls and bends that was basically impossible.  Sigh.  I went at it anyway, spot soldering where I thought I needed to in order to hold the tentacles together.  Here is where the swearing began.  The first spot solder was perfect.  Moved on to the next and as soon as the solder flowed the first join popped.  Fixed that and the second guessed it...POPPED.   At this point you're thinking, "binding wire, Karen".  Well, I have never used it and don't have any so SHUT UP!  This went on for about 75 years.  Okay, maybe not that long, but it sure felt like it.  Nickel silver is great to work with but the more you heat it the more brittle it becomes.  I won't bore you with all the grisly details, but by the end of it all I had created an amazing contraption using ceramic tiles, a third hand, and ceramic bead trees stacked together to cage this beast of a bangle so I could FINISH THE DAMNED THING!  And here it is.  I don't know if I love it or hate it.  I do know I will NOT be making another one like this.
 And, as I said in the beginning, it's all Diana Nyad's fault.

Seriously, I love you Diana, and I congratulate you and your team.  Hope you like your pendant, call me!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I Need Your Vote...PLEASE!

Hi All!  I made this video last night, explaining why I am so crazy to win the Martha Stewart American Made contest.  Please watch, then consider voting for me.  I would so love to share this with other artists in my community, and need your help to do that.  You can log on and vote six times a day between now and Sept 13th.  I know it's a long shot, but it would be so FANTASTIC if I won and could share this with my artist friends.  Thanks in advance...

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hello, World...Sorry We're Killing You

I've been in a bit of a dark head-space lately.  Don't ask why, just turn on the news.  If you are one of those folks who proudly declares, "I don't watch the news or read the newspaper--it's too depressing", forgive me if I want to punch you in the throat.   Refusing to acknowledge the times we live in doesn't make it all better, it just means you are actively choosing not only to do NOTHING ABOUT IT, but you are also insulting those in the world struggling to survive in horrific circumstances by pretending they don't exist.   Your pretend world doesn't interest me.

That being said, I feel that in this moment in time,  we bear witness to some of the most tragic, depraved, desperate and mindless behaviors of our species.

As we watch, we are inundated with technicolor images and bold-faced text describing and displaying the worst of humanity.  A tidal wave of despair in pixels and paper.  How to make sense of it?  How to weed through the flood of noise that is the news these days to really understand what we are being shown?  I want to reach through the screen, try to touch a real flesh and blood human being, establish some sort of contact to say, "I'm here,  I see you.  I hear you and I weep for you."

It's overwhelming.
I have a series of pendants and necklaces I call "Sacred Salvage".  Within this are "Poetry Pieces" and "Storybook Necklaces".  These are designs created around a short story or poem I have written.  They incorporate found objects, mixed metals, all manner of this and that.  I felt the need to create a new assemblage, but without a printed story to go with it.  I wanted the piece itself to be the story. 
"Screaming Silence - Read Between the Lines"

 So, I sat at my bench and started gathering bits and pieces together.  A story was brewing in my mind, a sad story but one I wanted to tell.  I've been asked what my process is when I make a storybook or assemblage design, and I have absolutely no definitive answer.  I usually begin with an idea.  Sometimes just a word.  Today two words jumped out at me--"guise" and "forlorn".  I found them on a bit of transparency sheet.  I formulated a rough picture in my brain of a window, with the cover rolled back.  Newsprint crammed full of text with a face peering from behind, trying to be seen amidst the noise--the hidden agendas.  More newsprint is jammed into the window cover.  Mind you, as I imagined this, I am sifting and sifting through drawers and dozens of boxes on my table.  It's actually kind of mindless in a purposeful way--if that makes sense at all.  I also totally lose track of time at this point.  I wanted three dimensional items to reflect the story--a tiny broken doll arm for the loss of innocence, a dragonfly wing for the desperate, futile urge to flee, a watch arm for the passage of time.  Turquoise represents the Earth to me, cracked and nearly ruined, but still blue.  A broken circle holds it all with a drop of red enamel representing the horror of spilled blood.  Held together with rivets and screws.

No, it's not a happy creation.  I made it with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes.  I wanted it to be beautiful though, because ALL LIFE SHOULD BE BEAUTIFUL.  There is beauty all around us.  What I don't understand is why, at this moment in history, mankind seems to want to destroy all that is beautiful.

So, we bear witness.
I hope this pendant finds a home with someone who will appreciate and understand this story.  I've been asked if it is hard to part with some of these designs.  The answer is no.  Stories are meant to be shared, passed on.  That's how they stay alive.  I hope someone wants this pendant to add to their own story.