Darlings, I must start writing again. With the five children and the career and the husband and the life swirling around me, my concentration is not good. I’m very much doing that whole young family thing all over again, but now I’m old enough to know how well my head can work when all these wonderful, beloved people aren’t constantly around me. I’ve been waiting for my ability to concentrate to come back, but I don’t think that is going to happen any time soon, and I miss blogging. I miss life outside of this new house and studio, I miss Karen, and I miss the way that writing centers and clears my head. I want something back that’s always been and always will be mine. I’ve been waiting until I get my feet under me, but I am constantly finding and losing my feet again and again in this new life of mine.It might not be grammatically correct or even make sense half the time, but post I will. Seriously, it’s like my brain is like a puzzle that has a different piece missing everyday. Yesterday’s missing piece might be back, but SURPRISE! A new one is gone! So ok, I promise it won’t be grammatically correct or make sense half the time; that should be exciting. You can rate my ability to think on a one-out-of-ten scale in the comments.First, I’d love to show you what I’ve worked on lately, ok? Ok.
Back to work! But, if any of my old readers are out there? I would love to hear from you!
If someone said to me, “Katie, if you could make for yourself ANY piece of jewelry –regardless of cost– what would it be?”
Go on, ask me.
I would, my inquisitive friends, make myself a big ole’ emerald ring. I’d get an enormous emerald-cut stone (big enough to be truly vulgar. As big as a baby’s head. A really big fat baby.), and I’d set it in 20k.
In the meantime, while I wait for a baby-head sized emerald to fall at my feet, I made this!
This stone is 5mm, and I don’t think I’ve ever set a 5mm stone that pops the way this does. The 18k certainly plays up the green, but emeralds have a vibrancy and luster no other gem does. So full of life and joy; how can anyone be sad wearing an emerald?
Today I also touched up the bezel on the granulated garnet ring from yesterday. Take a close look, and see if you notice the difference.
And with that, my darlings, I think it’s time to get my weekend on. I hope you all have nothing but the best of weekends!
Earrings! Let’s talk about these, shall we? We’re going to learn, and learning is FUN!
I cast these earrings using cuttlefish bones.
“But Katie,” you might say, “However did you get the cuttlefish to hold still and help you make these lovely earrings?”
You crazy kids, the cuttlefish were DEAD! They had ceased to be; they were no more. They were EX-CUTTLEFISH, so don’t be daft.
Cuttlefish are in the same family as octopi and squid. Unlike octopi and squid, the cuttlefish possess a soft, porous internal structure which helps regulate their buoyancy: a cuttlefish bone or cuttlebone. Cuttlefish bones often wash up on beaches, and are also harvested when cuttlefish are caught for their meat.
These bones have been used as a tool by metalsmiths for thousands of years;we saw them in half, carve them to make molds, and pour molten metal into them. The cooled metal retains the texture of the cuttlefish bone, which looks a bit like wood grain. That texture can be played up or down, and for these earrings I played it up.
And because diamonds can take the heat of molten gold, I cast these champagne diamonds in place. Stuck them right into the cavity I had created, and doused them with gold.
TBI and hand forging don’t go well together, and so I experimented with casting while Riley was sick. The cuttlefish bone technique is a keeper.
Hey! Here are some pictures of Matt using cuttlefish bone to cast a piece of silver. He forged a spoon from this piece.
But, before we get to the pretties, I suppose I need to tie up loose ends. Ready?
OK. We good? Alright then, do you want to see the new pretties? I’ve tried to keep things simple while I let my hands and brain remember their jobs. I’ve also made some SILVER pieces! I should get a sticker for being such a good sport and making a new friend of silver.
Starting over is scary and happy and exciting. Well, it was more scary than exciting until I sold that ruby ring within a week of listing it. Now it is much less scary.
I was foolish when I stopped working 2+ years ago, and shut down the Etsy site. Sadly, I couldn’t get the name back. You’ll find me under Vakastudio on Etsy, and these will soon be listed on my regular site: Vakadesign.com.
And now I must stop uploading images and go make dinner.
Working on this painting (below), listening to this, headed to Mass at 12:15. This afternoon I’ll finish some custom pieces, and maybe post photos of how the painting is progressing. Maybe, blogosphere. I promise you nothing.
I’ve temporarily given up on the last painting (here, here, and here… see the problem?).
Sometimes a painting flies out of me (figuratively not literally, because that would really hurt. In fact, if paintings literally flew out of me then I’d probably stop painting, because ew. ). Sometimes a piece deserves abandoning: once you get started it just does not pull together, and the concept or idea is weak and not worth pursuing. And sometimes–like this time– the concept is deeply compelling, yet the piece is really hard to get.
One night, Vinnie and I were talking about the nature of the universe, and I said that trying to understand the universe made me want to cry. It was too much, too big, too complex, too indefinable. Vinnie said that understanding the nature of the universe through string theory made sense to him, and that he found it quite reassuring and beautiful. Curious, I set out to understand string theory. And because I am me, I felt the need to process this concept visually.
“But you can’t draw string theory,” said Vinnie. “It’s a concept.“
Oh Vinnie, concepts are meant to be drawn, painted, sculpted. That’s what art is: visual communication where words fail.
Vinnie’s painting, then, was about connectedness; about emotional string theory. It was about the almost spiritual feeling of being gently connected to another entity within endless planes and dimensions within endless time and space. To paraphrase Rick in Casablanca, “of all the gin joints in all the world…” What are the odds of that connection? What an amazing thing, and yes, how very reassuring and beautiful.
In the second painting I wanted to explore the multi-planed individual components of Vinnie’s painting further, but…… but I can’t f***ing make it work, blogosphere! Honestly, I think the subject is just too emotionally loaded for me at the moment; my feelings about it change day-to-day and moment-to-moment, and so I can’t find clarity in either my head OR this work. Confused and yet compelled to clarify my thoughts and the work, I’ve gone at the painting from every direction, and to no avail.
And so…… that painting is out–placed out of sight and out of my mind– and this one is in. Interestingly, today’s painting is one I abandoned in frustration once before. Perhaps there is something for me to learn here: understanding and resolution will come when they will, and not a moment sooner.
My mom loves the Netherlands. She loves the wide-open green flatness, the canals, the skinny city houses, the Noordzee, and the spring flowers. But most of all, she loves the Dutch. There was never a Friday when she left the office without her Dutch coworkers making sure she had plans, never a moment when she didn’t feel welcomed and included. While she’s enjoyed the people most everywhere she’s worked around the world, the Dutch became family.
After years spent living and working in The Hague, my mom has come home for a job in San Diego. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. While there were many compelling reasons to move back to the States, it was so very hard for her to leave her friends; her Dutch family.
As my mom readied herself for the move to San Diego, her beautiful friend Susanne emailed–on behalf of all the Dutch friends– to ask me for ideas for a parting gift. I suggested they take her for a tattoo, but the Dutch are way classier than me: they opted for jewelry, and ordered my Aquamarine Waterfall Pendant.
And that would have worked out just fine, if my mother wasn’t so damn full of damn opinions. Luckily, her Dutch friends know that she’s a veritable opinion piñata.
Mom asked that I use a stone she already had instead of the aquamarine cabochon (above) my design called for. Her stone was a big, gorgeous, faceted aquamarine she had purchased from a British friend in The Hague shortly before he died (we’re going to call that the new aquamarine from here on).
The challenges? The new aquamarine wasn’t interchangeable with the stone in my design, and a new design was needed to account for the stone’s unique attributes. I did, however, need to keep with the two-stone look of the pendant I had been asked to make.
Where the original aquamarine cab in the design was all about watery relaxation, the faceted aquamarine was all sparkle and glamour, and just didn’t work well with the laid-back moonstone cabochon of the original pairing. I opted to pair the new aquamarine with a gorgeous cornflower blue, flower-cut sapphire.
Another challenge was the cut of the new aquamarine: the stone was incredibly deep--half as deep as it was wide– and I needed my design to creatively account for that depth; to allow the face of the sapphire to be on the same plane as the face of the aqua, without looking awkward.
My solution: A medieval-looking b0x setting, stones set with prongs to keep them open and airy.
I hope all of my mother’s Dutch friends love what I came up with, I’m really pleased with my design, and my mom loved it. After gasping, she declared, “I’m going to get mugged wearing this!”
This started off even more monochromatic, and I really wanted to love it. I did. I wanted to love it in the way a kindergarten teacher really wants to love all the wee little children, but just can’t warm up to that one prickly five-year-old who never smiles and never has anything nice to say.
I loved the more monochromatic version in theory, but it was just so cold. So, I’ve added color, removed color….added and removed AGAIN, and this is where I am right now. I want to love it, but it still doesn’t sing for me. Now it’s stuck in the middle, it feels anemic and chilled, and I desperately want to give it a warm blanky, a nice cup of tea, and a place by the fire.
Back to the studio it goes.
And it really doesn’t help that my camera just…well, my camera is useless.
The process of painting is a lot like naming a baby.
Some people have the name all picked out before the baby is born. The baby WILL BE Joseph Jumping-Geranium Smith. There is no wiggle room. Everyone will be told far before the due date of the baby-to-be’s name, and when Joseph Jumping-Geranium is born, no one will even consider that he might look more like a Peter Potted-Petunia Smith. Oh no, no. JJGS he is, and JJGS he will be. These are the painters who set out to paint exactly what they will have painted when they are finished. I don’t think many of these painters are ADD.
Some people pick a likely name or two, and when the baby comes flying out into the world they quickly decide which name the baby shall have. “We’re thinking Pookie Punkinhead, but we might go with Lola Lemondrop or Suzie Salmonloaf.” These are the painters who set out with a somewhat solid idea in mind, but there’s wiggle-room. I sometimes paint this way, but I’m more committed to the wiggle-room than the solid idea.
Then, there are the people who decide that the baby will present the world with its own name upon its arrival. “Oh! He looks like he’s laughing! Let’s name him Isaac.” Or, “Look at that red hair! Let’s call him Rufus Henry!” Some of these people might wait and wait for the baby to give some indication of its moniker, and these people live in communes and have children who are called Lalalala or Mine!, until they are five. It’s all wiggle-room, all the time. In my painting, I often hang with this crowd. I just….. start, and see what happens; see what and where the painting feels like it’s doing and going, and I happily change course until I hit a sweet spot.
Painting is like a relationship. There is me, and there is the painting. The painting is always changing; colors and textures popping up in ways I didn’t quite expect. If the painting is never static, then how can my idea of its outcome be so?
When I go the let-the-baby-name-itself route, remnants of earlier ideas are often visible, and lines or shapes or colors I put down when I had a different path in mind now glow through and assert themselves. Incorporating them into the newer incarnation is a puzzle that is joyful to solve; these old fossils are like gifts to a new painting. They’re found money and they’re always welcome.