Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Creative Process

It's important, from time to time, to turn from your favorite media and work in a different way. Changing your materials can make your work more fresh and allows many more opportunities for exploration and discovery of  form.

Today I'd like to share with all of you a selection of my watercolor studies. These exercises did not all result in a piece of jewelry, but they lead to many exciting discoveries about form, color, and composition. Most importantly - they were super fun!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Process of Making: Preliminary Sketches

Since I often work in expensive or hard-to-get materials, it is very important to make certain design decisions before work on the final piece begins. The process of making a piece is so fluid - it starts with drawing upon drawing, followed by mock-ups in clay or paper, and then finally working in the final material. Any single work can go through several transformations, and can often look radically different from its original source material.

Just for fun, let's look at a few sketches, and the pieces they turned into!

Culicidae (2008)

This piece was originally going to be a more abstracted form, a la the bottom drawings. (Good thing it didn't turn out that way!) You can tell this was the first insect, because the forms were a lot more simplified. The wooden body is all one piece, as opposed to later works which were divided into sections like a real insect.

Apocrita (2008)

Some changes happen due to conscious design choices. Others are dictated by the demands and limitations of the medium. In this case, the design remains relatively faithful, except where the technical needs of the medium require a different solution. The three-dimensional form is much more expressive and alluring because the body appears frozen in action. This is because the body was put together in a curved profile rather than perfectly aligning each section like the sketch.

Cicada Killer (2011)

This is a piece that underwent many changes during its creation. The first sketch is very faithful to the original creature because I was working from the form itself. I had found a dead Cicada Killer specimen in my yard and kept it to use as reference. It is SO much more helpful to work from a three-dimensional reference than from a picture, especially when you yourself are working in three dimensions!

In the second picture, you can see that the piece was originally much more cluttered. In the original concept, this piece was a wasp hair comb with a honeycomb form. I ended up scrapping the honeycomb - the piece was much stronger after editing that out!

The third picture is the piece as it was originally intended to be worn. I'm ultimately happy it became a brooch - it is certainly much more practical this way.

Ombre Earrings - Production Work



This is a great example of the power of editing. These were originally going to have bees at the top with a gradient cascade of amber. It became clear that the strength of the concept was in the play of color and didn't need the extra element of the bee. I was able to continue the thought in "Worker's Repose", which takes elements from the original sketch but goes in a different direction.

Next time, I'll share with you some pretty paintings that didn't necessarily become their own jewelry pieces but helped inform a lot of future designs.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Moving Forward

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show was so amazing. I had such a blast talking to everyone and seeing all of the lovely works. In fact, I had such a good time that I decided I wanted my own booth this year!

When the thought entered my brain I thought "What are you, a crazy person??" (Answer: Very Likely...) Yes, I did have a lot of fun helping at the UARTS Alumni booth in November. But assisting a 21-person group booth and manning my own are two very, very different things.

First and foremost, I'd have to get juried into the show. After that, there's quite a bit of booth fees
(all proceeds help the Museum, of course!). 

Then I would need to design and build a booth. 
And most importantly, I'd have to make alllll the work to fill it!

 That's a lot of money and even more work! I must have been crazy!
But great things never happen when you do what is comfortable.

So, I submitted my work to be juried. This involved making some new works, since I'd sold quite a bit at the Craft Show last year. Then all I needed were some gorgeous photographs.

(Photography by Ken Yanoviak)

Unfortunately, I didn't make it into the show this year. However, just the process of applying was really exciting and pushed me out of my comfort zone. It gave me a chance to assess where I want my work to go and what I want to do with it.

Now, on to bigger and better things! 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Catch Up Time!

It's been awhile, folks! When I'm busy in the studio, I often get so lost in the work that I forget to update the rest of the world. It's time for a little catch-up! 

I've had a lot going on, and I'll bore you with the details later. In the meantime, I have a lot of studio photos I've been dying to share.

First, let's check out some in-progress photos of my piece
"Worker's Repose"!
(aka: "I make too many brooches!")

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Craft Show Wrap-Up

Hey y'all! It's been a whirwind few weeks, but I wanted to check in and share my experience of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show with the blogosphere.

This is the booth itself, created by the fabulous Don Miller (pictured at left) and his crew of volunteers. It is truly remarkable how much work they were able to plan into the space - 17 alumni had work displayed, and only 4 of them were jewelers!

The lovely jewelry cases. The padded drawers slid out from the opposite side for easy access to the pieces. The artists from left to right are Joe Pillari, Kaitlin Kerr, and Melissa Gugliemlo. (And me!)

A closeup of my work, as it looked on Friday morning. You may notice some new insect pieces in the case. Everything except the bee necklace at the bottom has had a photo session with the marvelous Ken Yanoviak, and the photos are up on my website! I'll probably be posting more in-depth about these pieces later on.

Notice those red dots? Red dots make Emi happy!

I ended up selling Hive Queen, Wasp Comb, the mica earrings pictured, a pair of folded earrings, some pyrite studs, and a sterling silver/bone ring. Not a bad haul for my first craft show, and everyone who bought my pieces was really fun to talk to!

Kaitlin Kerr modeling the fabulous Wasp Comb. You'll hear more about this when I can do a dedicated "making-of" post, but I struggled a lot with how to make this piece wearable. I couldn't decide whether to make it a brooch (the safe bet) or a hair comb. I'd always wanted to make an insect fascinator, and I decided to just go for it. Then, the woman who fell in love with the piece asked me if I would turn it into a brooch for her.
Ah well, it was a fun experiment, and it will look great as a brooch!
(Although I guess I should probably give it a new name...)

The Craft Show was a whirlwind of incredible art, fun conversation, and super-nice people. I almost wish it had gone on for longer, except that the poor artists would have died of exhaustion! Doing this show was an excellent experience for me. Not only was it a firm deadline that vastly improved my artistic output, but I discovered that I really love chit-chatting and schmoozing with lots of people. It's made me seriously consider doing craft shows on my own.

Next up: some production work - like this customizable cicada ring, created today!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hive Queen's New Look

(Sorry for the crappy cell phone pic...)

Some of you may recall way back in 2010 a few posts referring to my new piece, "Hive Queen". I'd gotten an ENORMOUS 156 carat citrine and used some salvaged wings off of an old piece that had been damaged. The piece was completed in 2010 and shown in a few places.


Something about this piece never sat right with me. Not only was I unhappy with the treatment of the citrine, but the wings started to bug me as well.

Since the stone was so outrageous, it took attention away from the carved insect. It almost looked like I just glued the bee on top of it as an afterthought. As for the wings, in real life, queen bees actually have very small wings, much smaller than the salvaged wings from my old piece. And the pierced sterling wings, though lovely on their own, lacked a visual sparkle that would balance the bling-y citrine. What had seemed in my head to be an elegant solution turned out to be rather underwhelming in practice.

So I took her apart.

Re-set the citrine, in a way that was more understated, yet made sense thematically.

Gave a little extra attention to the back of the piece
(including a little baby citrine on the pin finding)

Then let the piece itself dictate the size of the wings. They are proportionally larger than a real queen's would be, but about the same as a normal worker.

And I incorporated mica. This was a suggestion from my boyfriend, who is not an artist but somehow comes up with incredible design ideas anyway. The mica added sparkle and color to the wings while lending the piece the visual fragility I'm fond of. I also popped a little flocking on the the back for some textural contrast.

So here is the final result, lovingly photographed by the talented Ken Yanoviak. The piece I had come to hate has now turned into something I really treasure. The play of colors is so much more compelling, the back of the piece got some love, and the wings are just plain lovely.

You can come see this piece and more at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, November 10th - 13th at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Details here:

And now, the big news...

I've been invited to display work with a group of other University of the Arts Crafts Alumni at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show!! This show takes place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia and is really huge.

I am very excited to have this opportunity and have been working like crazy to bring you folks some fresh, awesome work. Please, please come see me at the PMA Craft Show!

The PMA Craft show is next week, November 10th - 13th at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. You can come and see exciting work from talented artists of all media.

Information here:

I should be there for most of the show, but let me know if and when you'll be attending, and I will make sure I'm at the booth to greet you!

A quick teaser...

photo by Ken Yanoviak

("Hive Queen", above. Is she looking a little different?
I'll spill the beans on her facelift in the next post!)