Here’s another recent commission for a feathered moth mask. It went to a repeat client (thank you, I appreciate you!) who already owns a similar mask that I made in olive green. She wanted this one to have more of a steampunk vibe, with rich browns, metallic golds and coppers, and just a bit of green. It’s the first time that I’ve created one of these masks in these hues, and I really like it! Even more importantly, my customer was very happy with it.
My Pacific Northwest home is surrounded by old growth maple, cedar and fir. We share these woods with many wild creatures, including a family of owls. For whatever reason, they’ve been far more active (and interactive) these last few months. They sing us to sleep at night, and in the mornings we often find evidence of their hunts. Not surprisingly, owl imagery has been cropping up in my work more and more.
Here’s a little preview of some of the leather owl feathers that I’ve been working on lately. They’ll become hair accessories, and you’ll find them (along with other new work) in my next shop update on Monday 8/21.
I finished up all those hair accessories that I posted about last week. Now I’m on the rather tedious step of getting them all photographed. While I’d much rather be creating, this part of the process is not entirely awful. As I crop and edit the photos, I see my work with fresh eyes and find new details.
This one’s my favorite … at least for today. A fantastical peacock feather in shimmering purples and greens, with an artisan crafted wood stick topped with a genuine amethyst point. Very magical, if I do say so myself. You can find it here.
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.
This is the 6th version in this series of masks since 2009. Each one is a bit different, but they’re all made from the same pattern. This one is a gorgeous electric blue, accented with peacock, parrot and pheasant feathers in shades of blue, green and bronze. At the forehead is a shimmering green beetle wing, set in a bezel of glass seed beads.
I’m not doing the “inspiration Wednesday” thing today, cause I’m just not feeling it at the moment*.
Instead, I’d like to reflect on some design progress that a friend recently pointed out. In 2009, I started playing with a new (to me) earring style that makes use of some of my smaller leather scraps. There were several styles of leaves, and of course, lots of feathers — especially raven feathers (if you scroll through this blog, you may notice that I have a thing for corvids ;). These were accented with mixed metal wire, Swarovski crystals, and assorted gem stones. I debated whether or not to add real feathers.
blue jay earrings 2009
When I created their facebook photo album, I asked my fans if they were “Good, Bad or Ugly?” — which hints at how unsure I was about the style. They were well received, and I kept playing with the designs. These were somewhat tricky at first because I’d never really done such small leather projects. They’re simple enough to make, but working with leather at this scale was new and challenging for me; in addition, I’ve never been much of a wireworker. There are people who can do amazing things with wire, but I am not one of them. My knowledge and experience with that type of jewelry design is limited to the most basic skills.
peacock earrings 2011
I’ve continued to play with this style over time, and I suspect that I’ll continue to do so. They’re admittedly simple designs, but I think the little projects tend to be the ones that build your skills the most (see this earlier post on formative work). There are many artisans who claim that every single piece they make is a one of a kind design. That is admirable — though I always wonder if they are actually selling their work as a substantial portion of their income. As a working artist, it seems like it would be incredibly challenging not to repeat designs, and still create enough to support oneself. But I’m getting off track — my point is that I actually find value in revisiting designs. It helps me to hone my skills and also gives me a yardstick for progress.
raven earrings 2012
The current variations are still not exactly what I saw in my mind’s eye when I began making these; I hope there will be more permutations as time goes on. Still, it’s nice to contrast then and now. I often get restless or frustrated because my “creative vision” is usually far ahead of my actual skills. This is probably a good thing in that it keeps me striving — but sometimes it leads to feeling impatient or being hard on myself. When I can stop long enough to notice progress, it motivates me to keep exploring.
* As to the “Inspiration Wednesday” posts, I think they’ll become a bi-weekly thing. It’s a fun theme that challenges me to think about what inspires me, and having a “prompt” does get me to blog more. I love being able to share these things, and to promote other artists and creative spirits — but it’s starting to make me feel pressured and I don’t like that. Every other week seems more balanced and comfortable for me 🙂
Since it’s the summer solstice (the longest and lightest day of the year) and since I love ravens, I made these little raven feather earrings today. The feathers are made of leather, and all of the wire and earwires are sterling. The stones include rainbow obsidian, gray moonstone and rutilated quartz – all of which have fun play of light effects.