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Down the Laser Rabbit Hole (pew pew)

I know, I’ve been super quiet lately. Two months ago I was given the (incredible!) opportunity to test a pre-release unit of the new Glowforge hobby laser. Since then, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of lasering all the things.

Here are a few examples of my early experiments. I’m still learning, and still figuring out how I want to use this amazing tool, but one thing’s for sure… it’s a huge game changer. This is the first time in many years that I have been able to work without pain. I’d become so accustomed to working through the aches and pains that I didn’t even realize how much it was holding me back. I am so excited about the possibilities ahead!

Again, these images reflect early experiments and drafts. They’re not final projects, and they’re probably not significant indicators of how I will ultimately use this tool in my work. For the time being, I’m just learning slowly and translating all of my existing leatherwork patterns to digital files.

1st attempts at engraving glass.files.

It’ll be a while before I’m 100% confident of the direction that I want to go, and begin designing new work with the laser. For today I’m giving myself time to go slowly, take risks, make mistakes, and just enjoy the learning process. I’m having a lot of fun with it, and looking forward to creating some larger, more elaborate works.

laser engraved leather mandalas

Glowforge production units are starting to ship now and based on my experience with the pre-release unit, I can heartily recommend this product. If you’d like to order one, please consider using this referral code for a $100 discount off your purchase. In the spirit of full disclosure – I’m not being paid for this endorsement (I am a very satisfied user) but if you do use the referral code that I just linked, it’ll give me a bit of a discount on my order too. Win-win.

laser engraved bone beads
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Be honorable

"Venetian Bird Mask"
“Venetian Bird Mask”

I designed this original leather mask in 2013. It’s part of an ongoing series that began in 2001 – each one is unique, but shares similar lines and details. It would seem that the design has recently been copied by another artist, who is marketing it as his own.

Sadly, this stuff happens daily. If it was an isolated incident, I might be more able to let it roll off my back – but it’s not. It’s extremely frustrating, but I try to keep my mouth shut, because everyone tells me to take the high road. To “be better, not bitter” – and honestly, I want that too. Unfortunately, there are so many of these copycats these days that the “high road” is starting to feel like a lonely ledge… and it gets harder and harder to make a living doing what I love (or to love what I do for a living) from that place. 

This really hits me where I live, and I don’t know how to put a “positive” or “professional” spin on it. To my fellow aspiring artists, I cannot encourage you enough to be respectful of your peers (and yourself). Be honorable, be original, and don’t steal.


This gallery showcases many (but certainly not all!) of the designs that I’ve done in this series. It’s included to give you a sense of the time that I’ve spent honing and evolving these designs, and also to show how many people have commissioned these signature pieces from me over the last 15 years. Please be respectful of my art, my livelihood, and the wonderful people who have helped to support that process.

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Full Circle?

I’m a bit hesitant to post this, simply because my creative work has been moving so slowly of late. There’s a superstitious (?) side of me that fears that sharing this idea before it’s complete will somehow “jinx” it… but I’m pretty excited about it, so I’m choosing to let my enthusiasm outweigh my fear.

For some time now, I’ve been wanting to play with purse designs again. Those of you who have followed my work for a very long time will remember that I used to create a variety of purses and bags. In the late 90’s, the demand for my leather masks grew, and I sort of meandered away from making purses. Another big factor in this was the fact that all of my purse patterns (and several works in progress) were destroyed by water damage… or so I thought.

The other day, I was rummaging through an old box of beads that I’d packed up long ago. I thought I knew what was in there (and for the most part, I did) but there was a surprise! At the bottom of the box, I found 4 purses that had been cut out and partially sewn, as well as a folder full of my old patterns! I’m not sure how these pieces survived the flood, but I’m so glad they did.

Hand sewn and braided leather purses, circa 1997-ish.
Hand sewn and braided leather purses, circa 1997-ish.

The purses shown here are in various stages of completion. They were probably created some time between 1995 and 1997. There are two light brown cow hide purses (one small, one medium) as well as a medium sized black buckskin purse and a larger buffalo hide purse with cowskin lacing. All are entirely hand cut, sewn and braided. The one on top has holes punched for some leather braiding, which was going to outline a beaded mandala. Not sure if I still have that piece of beadwork, but I’ll probably create something similar for it.

These are quite a bit different than what I’d like to make today, but finding them seemed like a little sign from the universe that I should pursue the purse idea. I’m not sure how soon I’ll finish these, or when I’ll start introducing new designs… but I’ll definitely keep everyone posted as I roll them out!

 

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Full Worm Moon

beaded triple moon pendant
beaded triple moon pendant

This piece seemed to fly off my needle last night. Not at all what I intended for this cab, but it seemed to have its own ideas as to what it should be!

The next morning, I read on the Farmer’s Almanac site that the March full moon was traditionally known as the “Full Worm Moon” and it heralds the end of winter and the onset of spring. It’s been a hard winter, so I’m celebrating the idea of spring and change

The Almanac explains:

As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.

Made with : Bali carved bone triple moon, titanium quartz points, shimmering blue kyanite, rutilated quartz and vintage Swarovski.

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Artchain Day 4

Artchain (nonconsecutive) day 4 – I was nominated  to post an item of artwork a day for 5 days, and to nominate others…

This necklace is another “failed” attempt. Made with Baltic amber cabochons, vintage Italian bronze & sterling silver plated seed beads, tons of swarovski, amber, topaz, citrine & Bali silver beads in 2001. I was unhappy with the neckline, and kept ripping it apart to redo (beadworkers call this “rippit stitch” 😉 ). I was so tired of fighting with the neckline that I let it sit unfinished until 2011. Even then, I was wary because I knew that it would only drape properly on a well endowed woman. I decided that it was time to let it go and move on. I listed it for sale – including the information about who/how it would fit – and received an inquiry within a week.

The woman who bought had been looking for an amber statement necklace for some time, and she had a very specific concept for it. This piece connected *perfectly* to her personal mythos (too personal to share, but trust me — perfect match). When she sent me the picture of her wearing it, I knew that it was truly made for her.

I find that intricate beadwork often sells more slowly than simpler/faster crafts, but when those pieces do sell, they seem to go to the exact right person… as if the piece was just waiting for that person to find it.

Baltic Amber Necklace © 2011 Andrea Adams
Baltic Amber Necklace © 2011 Andrea Adams
Baltic Amber Necklace © 2011 Andrea Adams
Baltic Amber Necklace © 2011 Andrea Adams
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Artchain Day 3

Artchain day 3 (I’m still doing it, just not consecutively 😉 ) I was nominated to post an item of artwork a day for 5 days, and to nominate others…

I’m choosing my “Snow Queen” headdress, because I think it illustrates something important about the creative process: You have to be willing to experiment, take risks and make mistakes.

This piece began as a mask, around 2004. I was going for a “north wind” theme, but the overall shape wasn’t right so I chucked it in the reject pile. Once a year or so, I’d pull it back out and fiddle with it some more. No matter what I tried, it just didn’t fit nicely. It also looked more like an octopus than a cloud spirit, so it kept going back to the reject pile.

In 2012, I decided to give it one more shot. When I realized that there was no way this thing was going to become a cloud, I decided to hack it in half, and turn the top half into a headpiece (the other half is still with me, waiting to become a crown). This piece has been very popular, and I’m often asked to recreate it, or to riff off of the original design… but it’s worth noting that it started out as a “mistake” that I rescued from the reject pile.

Ice Queen headdress © 2012 Andrea Adams
Ice Queen headdress © 2012 Andrea Adams