Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Stuff...ing...

Oy Boy! I'm super chuffed (as they say in the old country) to announce  that I'll be teaching at the Cornwall School of Arts, Crafts, and Jewelry in Merry Old England next fall (that's 2015). So very excited. The last time I was in Europe was 1980 when my jazz choir performed at the Montreaux Jazz Festival. Our tour visited The Hague in Holland, Switzerland, a tiny corner of France (for a brief overnight stay in between gigs), Germany floating down the Rhine, and I think maybe Brussels, but not sure really. I also visited a couple of pen pal friends in Denmark (where I visited the inspiration for the castle in  Hamlet), but never got to Great Britain, Italy or France. So this gig is a return to the MotherLand, and my first long flight in over 30 years. Donna Penoyer is teaching in England and Belgium at the same time, so we're gonna take a few days to explore and make a real vaca out of it. Woo Hoo!
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CraftCast is having a 20% off sale just in time for Thanksgiving, so now is a good time to pick up my two workshops on Hollow Rings and Slip Printing (or slip stenciling as everyone else calls it). Just use the code "Harvest2014" when you check out. In each class I put together, I try to throw in a lot of extra techniques and tips, so these cyber classes really are almost as good as the real deal (an in-person learning experience). And as a little teaser, I'll tell you a little something that I thought of in a recent texture class here in Richmond. Slip Printing makes use of stencils - the kind you use with paint to decorate your walls or scrap books. You can buy them commercially - or pierce them out of thin (26 gauge or thicker) brass with a jewelers saw. But as I was demonstrating to my students, I thought of another way to use a stencil.

• Roll the clay out to the desired thickness with no texture.
• Place the stencil over the clay (and spacers) and roll again. Voila! A fancy design pressed into your clay! This is the way I created the texture for the Hollow Sculptural Form bracelet I'll be teaching in England.


• Now comes the brainstorm - for even more impact, roll with no texture as stated above, then lay the stencil over the clay, THEN lay a piece of lace, skeleton leaf, or other thin, flexible material over the stencil and roll. Now you have a double textured design! So cool. And so easy.

Unfortunately I have no pictures of this technique to illustrate the modification. I'm a bad teacher. :\  Forgive me. But it's really cool. Take my word for it, and then try it out for yourself.
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It's Thanksgiving here in the States, and I'm really grateful for all of my followers, friends, students, and fans that visit this long neglected blog and still have faith in me. Have a wonderful feast with friends and family - even if it's not your national holiday too.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

One More Time

I've just spent the best part of two hours reading a blog. From the beginning. It's a WordPress blog platform, and I think the author opted to hide posting dates, so I was hoping it was a relatively new venture. But alas - I had miles to read before I could sleep (or watch Resurrection), and I sadly decided to put it aside to binge again another day. But reading it made me miss my own blog, and I'm going to re commit to writing a post at least once a week. There. That's some kind of promise, right? Now I have to do it? And will you all hold me to it? Ok then. We're on the same page.

Let's start by getting to know each other again, shall we? I'm Lora Hart. I'm a Senior Instructor with PMC Connection and teach the miraculous jewelry art of metal clay. That's what I'm hoping to blog about more than anything else. That, and my life, and influences, and inspirations, and other day to day happenings. I don't promise that the content will be cohesive.

I moved to Richmond, Virginia 3 years ago from Los Angeles, where I'd lived my entire life. I wanted seasons. I wanted a slower pace of life. I wanted less traffic. Be careful what you wish for.

Seasons back east means 6 months of cold weather. It's relatively mild in Richmond, so the snow isn't obnoxious to me, but the cold portion lasts so long! Perhaps what I really wanted was cold weather for about 6 weeks. LA gets heat year round. Which some folks might love - but I thought it got monotonous, and really, who wants101ºF weather on Halloween?

The slower pace of life is actually wonderful, but a slow life in the south combined with older age and MS symptoms means that I have all but atrophied in the past year or so. In summer it is hot, muggy, and my porch is my favorite place to hang and watch the world wander by. In winter, it's too chilly to venture out for more than the time it takes to go from my heated home, out to my heated car, then into my heated destination. Spring and Fall (and temps in the 70's) are too short and I'm too lethargic from the other seasons to have time to reboot and really get busy. It's not that I actually spend all my time at home or at the studio, but I seem to spend all my time at home or in my studio! I had envisioned walks in the woods (of which there are many), trips to the museum (I've been less than 10 times in 2.5 years), excursions to distant lands (well, I've visited home, Atlanta, Washington DC, and a few other locations - so I guess I've done a fair bit of traveling).

Lack of traffic is bliss. I have nothing bad to say about that. If I want traffic I'll drive to DC or Baltimore, or go to Virginia Beach where I get to drive on a 5 lane highway. I'm fine with the lack of traffic.

So this is my attempt at re motivating. What I'd really like is for us to be interactive. For you to comment and ask questions and engage in mutual communication. So let's play a game. It's my favorite "getting to know you" activity. It's called "Two Truths and a Lie". I'll start. You guess which statement is NOT true.

1. I was born Laura Elizabeth Freed
2. I graduated college with a BA in psychology
3. A very trusting (or high on crack) conductor once let me 'drive' a train for a mile and a half

Now it's your turn. Who are you?  What are  your thoughts? What motivates your cyber surfing? Where shall we go from here?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sharing is Caring...

Bonjour Mes Amis! Thank you for your patience, support, and continuing interest. Still no promises regarding the regularity of my posts - but I'm feeling inspired today and wanted to touch base.

It was so warm yesterday. Spring had finally sprung. I thought. Until I woke up shivering under my covers. But the next season is so close I think I can taste it. I spent the chilly morning warming my beauty thirsty muse by surfing a Swedish blog I found through a pin on Pinterest.


Reading the translation of Hviturlakkris is an amusing exercise in futility, but the beautiful, white, imagery kept me in thrall for a few hours. Currently my home tries to attempt a mix of Moroccan, East Indian, and Spanish Colonial influences, but the clean, calming monotony of the Swedish Gustavian palette is so seductive. It makes me wish I had a summer home somewhere so I could replicate that colorless peacefulness. I think I'm too slovenly to maintain the look in my primary residence.

The red bench was cobbled together with bits and pieces
of an Indian donkey cart! I've had the oval mirror since I can remember,
and the life mask of me was made while I was in make up school. There's
another mold of my nose tucked away in my armoire "attic". 

I love my artifacts, and will continue adding to my collection, but perhaps I can incorporate a bit of Scandinavia into a little corner of my world?

My sense of nostalgia is mixed up with unrealistic memories of recreated childhood experiences.
All of these perfume bottles belonged to my Mother, who passed in 1978. The bride in the
photograph is my beautiful grandmother Henrietta Hart.

Keeping my house clean is a battle I fight with every day, but feathering my nest is one of my greatest joys in life. I'm constantly moving things around and creating new tableau's. My process of interior decoration is a never ending journey through antique stores and swap meets. Oh how I'm missing the Los Angeles Rose Bowl Flea Market!

There's my Mother, in that round gold frame. Can you see her? One of my very favorite
images. Lately I've fallen in love with glass cloches and have started to collect a variety
of sizes and contours. Finding oddities to display is never a challenge. I just open the "attic" to
rediscover a forgotten treasure. I made the yellow duck in elementary school.

Thanks for visiting. Hope to see you again soon.

Monday, January 20, 2014

No Promises


I guess you have noticed that I've been absent from this blog. I don't really understand what happened. When I started it I posted almost every day. Then it was down to 2-3 a week. Then the Weekend Eye Candy's were all I could manage (they actually took a bit of time to create). And then it seemed like I could never get the energy or think of an interesting topic and the posts just dwindled to nothing.

I'm not sure if the blogging energy will return, but don't give up on me (those of you who are still here). In the meantime - I'm hosting a live Master's Registry Prep group in my studio and will be blogging monthly about our meetings. For the metal clay makers in the group - If you're looking to advance your skill sets, artistic voice, or just wanna have fun - doing the projects in the Registry will give you a boost of imagination. You don't ever have to submit them for evaluation - you can just work on them while you work on your art. So join me at the new blog sometime during the 4th week of every month (we meet on the 3rd Saturday). http://mastersregistryprep.blogspot.com/
Thanks for reading me. [Note: Blogger was acting odd when I published this and it's not making links live. Sorry.]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

From the Classroom

This past weekend I taught a Level Two Certification class. My students worked very hard for two days to design beautiful pieces that would incorporate all the techniques and design elements in the required projects. As sad as my photography is, their talent shines through.

Leslie Esterrich made a credit card sized pendant for the Three Texture Pendant project. Her mirror finishing was flawless, but as soon as I evaluated it, she dropped it back down to a brushed surface. In fact, this is the correct way to produce an even, soft, untextured finish. First, sand out all flaws, divots, and scratches and then use a brush or fine finishing/sand paper to apply the finish. This is the way jewelers have been doing it for eons. When you simply wire brush a piece of metal, whether it's kiln fired metal clay or milled sheet, you're just putting a shine on flawed metal. Taking the time to remove anomalies means the final look will be professional and long lasting.

Leslie also opted to curl a corner of her piece, which added to it's visual interest.

All of the ladies created beautiful enameled pendants. Two with a scratch foam texture, and one with a Photopolymer Plate that she had made in a separate class.

Leslie Esterrich, Jane Stark, Kathy Kennedy

The other projects were equally successful. The photos less so. Looks like I need to take some classes to improve my skill set too.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Visit to Somewhere

This past weekend I went to Atlanta to visit an L.A. based cousin who happens to be staying there this summer. It was amazing to see Joan and her husband and catch up on all the family happenings. One of the first things we did (after having lunch) was visit a wonderful craft gallery called Signature, and it formed the tone for the rest of my stay. There I discovered a wonderful sculptor named Kirsten Stingle whose figurative work is at once thought provoking and whimsical, vaguely disturbing (depending on your point of view) and engaging. Kirsten uses mixed media objects to bring her beautiful sculptures to life, including an antique riveting machine that she found at the Nashville "American Picker's" Antique Archeology store, a bottle washing rack, vintage millinery feathers, Ostrich eggs, and other interesting rusty bits and bobs. Right up my trash collecting alley!

When I got back to the hotel, I started stalking her online (better watch out what you post!), going to her website, then to her blog where I learned that she was preparing for her first museum show, then to a link to the gallery I had just visited that featured the work that would be included in the show - complete with a buy it now button. So I did! Buy something that is. The piece is in the show, so I won't actually receive it until after December 15 when the show closes. Ahh... sweet anticipation.

Character Block by Kirsten Stingle

Reading Kirsten's blog all the way back to the beginning (it's relatively new) was just as inspirational and thought provoking as her work is. Earlier posts were matter of fact observations of daily happenings, but soon she began to focus on this show and the preparation that was going in to it. She documents the building, finishing, decoration (glazing), and construction of each figure. The way Kirsten incorporates found objects into her character's narratives is so beautifully handled that a viewer/reader can't help but be struck by the thought and planning that she obviously puts into the design of her pieces right from conception. I'd love to look through a window into her brain - or even into her sketchbook, so I could observe each decision and choice. (Does that sound a little scary? I told you I was a stalker.) 

Kirsten is sharing the museum show spotlight with an encaustic artist named Lorraine Glessner whose work is equally engaging. If you're in the Atlanta area I encourage you to take a trip to see their work in person. I wish I could.

Reading Kirsten's blog has also reinvigorated my own creative proclivities. Although I'm not necessarily preparing for anything - no shows or sales in my near future, the urge to create (other than teaching samples) has been re awakened, and I'm itching to get into the studio.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Eye Candy

From my 'Hands' pin board

It's been another blog drought and the truth of the matter is that my hands have felt bound, wooden, uninspired, and lazy. And so has my brain for that matter. One of the 'benefits' of MS is the lovely side effect of fatigue. Which affects almost everything I'm discovering. Body, mind, will, and spirit.

Now I'm a very lucky girl as far as multiple sclerosis goes. I have full bodily function, live on my own terms, 'suffer' only very slight symptoms, and feel very grateful for my mobility. And the fatigue I feel is really not debilitating, as it is with other sufferers. It's just enough to bug the hell out of me. And make me long for days gone by when I actually had a creative idea in my head! Or more accurately the days when I had more creative ideas than I could produce.

I don't think my muse is gone forever, and I know there are things I can do to entice her back. But sometimes "Just Do It", just doesn't work. I'm taking life one day at a time. Today I'm in the studio, working on an Exploded Lentil sample (it's in the kiln or I'd show you), writing this blog, and prepping for my first day time class at The Visual Arts Center. Six weeks starting Thursday morning from 10:00 to 1:00 if you're in the area.

I've taught individual 8 hour daytime workshops, but this is a month and a half, 3 hour format that mirrors my evening classes. I've just never been sure that anyone would commit to a long term daytime class. I'm really excited that 5 people have signed up! So today is a good day. I'm looking forward, feeling the creative impulse, and am really happy to be here with you.