The importance of paper

I had another one of those flashes of inspiration this morning as I was lying in bed reveling in the fact that we didn’t have to get up early and rush around getting ready for school etc.  The last time this happened to me was when I started working on my Captured Strata series.  The idea just wouldn’t let me stay in bed.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that today’s idea will work out as well as the Strata one did.  It’s a simple idea: basically I want to make a longish chain of polymer filled channels linked with rings.  I’ll need to play with the scale and construction to make it work.

Today, however, I can’t rush down into the studio and immerse myself in this design idea.  This idea is going to have to stay “on hold” until I can give it time and attention.

All of this started me thinking about how important paper has become for me as a tool.  I’ve been using sketchbooks and slips of paper to record ideas for years, but more recently I have begun to use paper as an integral part of my design process.  Silver is an expensive material to work in.  And metal is slower and harder to work than polymer clay.  My old design process when I was working exclusively in polymer clay, had me diving right in and trying things out.  When I started incorporating silver, I found this style of work not only added up to expensive mistakes, but it sapped a lot of my creative energy as well.  It made the process of refining a design arduous to the point where I’d get frustrated and stop before I worked the problems out fully.

A selection of my templates (some a bit worse for the wear)

This year, I started making paper mock-ups of my design ideas and it has helped me immensely.  I generally use index cards, construction paper or card stock so that the paper models are sturdy enough to try on.  Not only does paper help me refine my ideas, but it gives me a pattern to follow when cutting the silver sheet.  It’s a fun process and it keeps me excited while I work out some of the basic issues of scale and placement.

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Captured Strata Series

The Connecticut Bead Society’s Annual Bead Bazaar is next weekend and I’ve been busy making work to sell at the SCPCG booth.  I have a pile of silver boxes I made over the summer ready to be filled, but instead I’ve been working on a new idea.  I’m calling the series “Captured Strata”.  This was one of those ideas that quite literally dragged me out of bed last weekend.  Fortunately, I’m happy with the results.

They’re pretty straightforwad to construct, but the soldering gods have not been smiling on me so I have had some trouble with the bails.  I think when my metalsmithing class starts up again in a few weeks, I am going to have to spend some serious time practicing soldering.  The limitations of my tiny butane torches, coupled with my inexperience, really make soldering challenging.

In addition to the Strata series, I’ve got a few other pieces done.  You can find my latest work on Flickr.

If you are in the area, check out the CT Bead Society’s Bead Bazaar, Saturday & Sunday, September 13 & 14, 2008, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, North Haven, CT.

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The pleasure of like minded company

I had a delightful weekend. I was at a Sherry Serafini workshop at my local bead shop, Beads East. I took a workshop with Sherry last year at Bead & Button, and I jumped on the opportunity to take a class with her in my neighborhood. Apart from the class (which was wonderful) and the treat of hanging out in one of my favorite bead stores for a couple of days, it was wonderful to spend a couple of days with a group of interesting women who appreciate the lure of beads.

All the beading classes I have taken up to now were at the Bead & Button. It’s a great event, but the classes are generally really large and you sit in rows at long skinny tables, so it isn’t usually the most sociable of class settings. The class this weekend was a much friendlier format. It was serious fun for me to spend a couple of days playing with sparkly beads. The bracelet project we worked on uses a combination of 24 karat gold hex delicas, flashy cabochons and various crystals in blues and AB finishes, in other words, WAY outside my typical comfort zone. It was refreshing to work in a style totally different from my usual.

An added benefit of this weekend, was the opportunity to show a bead artist I truly admire, some of my current work and ask her opinion on approaches I could take with a really “out there” project I have in mind. It’s a complex piece with a lot of possibilities. I’m not even sure how I am going to construct it or what materials I will use, but it was fantastic to get Sherry and Ann Benson’s feedback on the overall design, and how I might use beading techniques to make it happen.

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