A friend recently asked me what inspired me to work with metal? I’m kind of a girly girl and not one to get my hands dirty, so I can see why she asked. Because metal is dirty, and grimy and gritty. So I had to think about why I was drawn to it – because I have always been a beader and a crafter, but why metal?
I guess my interest in metal is intertwined with my interest in my husband, Kyle. He is a sculptor who creates large scale, immense, heavy metal sculptures and over the years I have seen him work with all kinds of metal – pouring iron and bronze and fabricating steel. I had been to countless iron pours and sat while he grinded or welded pieces. I’ve marveled at how his simple, small sketches become these looming, exquisite sculptures.
In theory I knew about welding and casting and how to rust or patina metal, but I never thought of it as a medium that I could work in. That is, until one day I picked up some copper wire we had laying around and I got our utility hammer and just started whacking at it and shaping it. Then, as it flattened and crumpled and dimpled, my wheels started turning.
Before I even took my first class, I started sketching. And my sketches were very much inspired by the shapes and the simplicity of Kyle’s work. Arches and negative space. Orbs and extensions. Rusty, patinaed, earthy textures. Tension and suspension. Of course, as a still developing artist, some of these sketches remain on paper, but some I have been able to bring to life.
Essentially, in Kyle’s artist statement he talks of how God’s creation inspires him, and I think it is those same elements of nature and earth that inspire me as well. I interpret it a bit differently, but I guess both of us are ultimately inspired by our Creator and his handiwork. And I am thankful for the opportunity to express that every day!Filed under Inspirations & Musings | Tags: copper, iron, iron pour, kyle van lusk, sculpture, steel | Comment (0)
This past Christmas was perhaps the most special of any that I have ever known. We decided that my husband, children and I would make each other gifts instead of buying them. It turned out to be a wonderful lesson for all of us on giving from the heart.
My kids, ages 10, 8 and 4, of course were visited by Santa Claus and got tons of “store bought” presents from aunts, uncles and grandparents. And typically we unleash them in Target to buy yet another toy or trinket for their siblings and for myself and my husband, Kyle. But this year, we thought it would be a great idea to help cultivate their own talents to create something for each other, and really think about the person and the meaning of the gift. We are Christians and thought this would also be a way to talk about the original gift that was given to us in the birth of Christ.
It all seemed like such a good idea, that day in early November. But then reality began to sink in–three kids with four gifts each to make. That meant 12 gifts for Kyle and I to assist with in addition to the plethora of gifts that he was making for teachers (pottery) and the gifts I was making for female family members (jewelry). It became a bit daunting, but it was still fun.
Ian, Age 4
We began by asking each of the kids what they wanted to make for each other. Ian, my four-year-old, actually turned out to be the easiest one to work with. He knew exactly what he wanted to make and he had such awesome ideas. Of course Kyle & I pretty much “crafted” his presents but he contributed greatly to them.
For his sister, Julia, he said he wanted to make a “pillow with a sheep on it.” I had him pick out some fabric and I used some roving to “felt” a sheep and we even found some ribbon with sheep on it. Then I took a photo of Julia and Ian together and printed it out on iron on material and made a pocket on the back. This was her “dream pillow” and the pocket was for her to write down her wishes and dreams. I sewed the pillow but Ian helped me with that by pushing the pedals and he helped me tie the ribbons, etc.
For my oldest son, Declan, Ian wanted to make a sword so Kyle took over on that count and made a sword to Ian’s specifications. He crafted it from wood and then made a traditional leather wrapped hilt.
Ian told me he wanted to make a video game for his father but we decided to make a “movie” instead and Ian sang, told stories and told things he loved about his father, all while dressed in his Thomas the Tank costume!
Julia, Age 8
Julia makes me something every day. She draws pictures for me, makes cards for me or will take tiny scraps of yarn and make bracelets for me. She is a natural born handmade gift giver!
She decided to paint something for Kyle and for Declan so I bought her 2 canvases and she painted away.
Then for Ian she wanted to make a train so Kyle took her into the studio and she worked on the lathe and with other tools – then she painted it. It was really nice – the wheels move and everything. For me, she made a little purse out of a basket and made me some ornaments – one I especially love with our photos in it.
Kyle bought a glass ornament and helped her print out photos, etc.
Declan, age 10
Declan is so loving and he wants to do wonderful things for people but he had a bit of trouble thinking of what to do. But I knew he loved to watch me torch and hammer things in the studio, so for Julia, I suggested he make a hammered pendant.We originally decided to make a pendant with a bee stamp and the word “happy” but my bee stamp was a bit hard for him to manage so we just went with a flower and the word “happy” on a copper disk.
Declan knew he wanted to build something for Kyle but wasn’t sure what to do. I found a kit in Lowes for a pencil cup/photo frame and he built and painted that.
For me, he made a beatiful pendant that Kyle helped him refine, paint and fire. It is so amazing!
Kyle & Heidi
This year I made Kyle a belt buckle. This is the first bucklet I have made (and maybe the last – ugh!). The trickiest part is the findings! I tried making the top part out of nickel silver and copper but it was so heavy so I used aluminum and copper and just used cold connections.
Kyle made me a yarn bowl to trap my yarn in while I knit – but it didn’t survive the kiln so he is remaking it – I’ll post a photo of it as soon as he remakes it (which should be by 2012).
It was a wonderful experience making these gifts. Our children thought about others in a way I don’t think they had before and the true meaning of giving of themselves became apparent. Those were the most special gifts I have ever received – except for the gift of salvation.Filed under Inspirations & Musings | Tags: family gift giving, gifts from the heart, handmade gifts, kidmade gifts, making gifts for christmas | Comment (0)
I’m an instant gratification kind of gal and after trying so many different media and exploring clay in so many ways, I was delighted to discover polymer clay. A few years ago I began working with it, but it wasn’t until I began taking classes and tutorials and became inspired by other polymer clay artists, that I dove in with both feet.
My initial problem was bright colors. I love bright colors but somehow, because my jewelry is more natural or organic, I didn’t think that I could work with polymer clay and stay true to my inspirations. I found a tutorial by Cindy Lietz, on Faux Carved Beads that really helped me to see that it could really take on an organic look. The tutorial shows excellent carving techniques and also how to use paint to highlight the recesses and age the piece. I also discovered the more muted, suede-like Studio by Sculpey polymer clay that incorporated well into my designs.
I put this together with some of my copper, wire wrapping and also began forging my own clasps, a technique also inspired by one of Cindy’s tutorials on Hammered Copper Wire findings–which was honestly the beginning of my love of metal (I have now taken several metalsmithing classes and love it). That really gives my necklaces and neck collars that finishing touch and makes my pieces truly entirely handmade.
Below are some photos of some of my polymer clay neck collars and necklaces:
Mountain Fossil Necklace
Mountain Mud Necklace
Blue Mud Necklace
These necklaces were some of my larger pieces that were perhaps less functional and more “artsy.” I’m working on adapting these into some smaller versions and also offer earrings as well.Filed under Inspirations & Musings | Tags: antiqued polymer clay, faux carved beads, organic look for polymer clay, polymer clay, polymer clay necklace, polymer clay tutorials, studio by sculpey | Comments (4)
I am currently exploring the use of more than just the sense of sight to create my jewelry. I love the aged look of patinaed silver and copper, and the feel of smooth, yet topographical hammered surfaces. I like the sound of my substantial ring hitting the table, or the delicate clinks of my cha-cha bracelet. I also love the way a balanced pair of dangly earrings sway during conversation and the feel of the ripples and bumps in my mother-of-pearl coin ring.
When I first began to design jewelry, I thought it was all about visual appeal. It wasn’t until I made my first pair of heavy, stiff, metal earrings that I realized it’s not just about how gorgeous the piece is, but its also about comfort and appealing to the sense of touch. My favorite ring isn’t fancy, but is so comfortable and has interesting twists and turns around fused wire. I love the look of the ring, but I also love to twirl it around my finger and trace the grooves.
Smell isn’t a sensual factor in my jewelry–I’d love to find out how to create that experience but for now, not part of my prowess! In fact, most of the processes I implement to create the jewelry involves a lot of mask wearing and nose holding, so I think I’m doing well for them to be void of smell!Filed under Inspirations & Musings | Tags: comfort jewelry, hammered jewelry, jewelry design, jewelry for senses | Comment (0)
It’s really silly. For years I have been trying to create natural looking pieces with synthetic materials. I was creating fossilized pieces from polymer clay (have to admit I still love that, though). And when I started studying with Ruthie Cohen, I met a lapidary named Susan Drumm and she introduced me to natural stones.
When I say introduced me, that’s not to say that I hadn’t used them in my work before, because I had. I used tons of natural stone beads, but in beadwork, I had been fairly confined. I began to see the potential for cutting (or having stones cut) from slab. I realized what an integral part of designing this can be. To look at a slab of stone and find just the right angle, the right corner, or a scene in the slab that speaks to me. I’m still very new to this–mostly I’ve been using cabs that I either buy or have given to me by benevolent friends, but I am so intrigued by this process.
I started researching the stones of North Carolina–I knew it was a state that was rich in minerals and gems because my graphic design work has me dealing with lots of tourism groups and many of them have mines and attractions centering around mining. But then I read further about how old these mountains are and about how much they have eroded over the centuries. And that is peaking my interest even more. In fact, I bought an awesome book called Exploring the Geology of the Carolinas by Kevin G Stewart and Mary-Russell Roberson that gives some excellent information and even includes field trips (hopefully I can take the kids on a few of these).
So now I’m officially obsessed. I keep thinking I’m going to stub my toe on a giant emerald (ha ha) or find the motherlode in my back yard. I look at everything so much differently now and I’m enjoying finding the beauty in these stones.
Anyway, I’m going to my first show this weekend in Franklin. I’d love to hear about any other good shows or events in the NC/TN/SC area.Filed under Inspirations & Musings | Comment (0)