A collection of imprints from New Mexico and Colorado
Over 40,000 words and counting on the novel. Still, I took time to create a couple of new pieces for you today. Here is the first one.
Two new offerings for you today…
A wild and organic talisman necklace made with naturally-shed deer antler
A grouping of desert wabi sabi elements on a silver chain
I’ve been getting some jewelry work done in the midst of writing, which is going very well! The one you see here is just full of great pieces from far and wide across the Southwest. In my Etsy shop, there is another talisman necklace with two pendants and an antler ring. Be sure to check those out as well!
Here are two new items for you today, a fused silver bracelet and pair of earrings. I had just enough silver to make them! The novel manuscript stands at over 26,000 words so far, with the first section nearly complete. It’s coming along well! Next week I’ll be driving to California to hear my friend Steve Roach in concert in Pasadena, then on to the Mojave for some quality time. Summer is almost over…
A simple link bracelet with bronze fossil impression discs
The simplest forms, hammered rectangles, linked together to wear on your ears
Work on my painting has continued, but I am focusing on writing right now, so these two passes were done a couple of weeks ago. I have photos in my phone of every stage, but have only been able to get these two off of it. Ah, technology.
The upper pass shows the rocks in the foreground and the sky roughed in.
Now I have to concentrate on the background before the foreground can go any further. The sky has a couple more passes and the salt flats and distant mesas have been roughed in. The sky will need to be completed next.
So it goes…
A single shard of mastodon ivory on an elegant strand of mixed seed beads
Here is a really special one for you today, a hand-polished mastodon ivory shard. Extraordinary material.
This has been the strangest summer. The creative energy is running at flood stage, but it had run toward painting and, for the month of July, writing. I have decided to write a speculative fiction novel. The seed ideas were born many years ago and suddenly it has come back into my life and taken over. I’ll keep you updated!
Well, you’ve probably been wondering what I’ve been up to since you’ve not been seeing a lot of new talismans appear in recent weeks. It’s because I’ve decided to start painting again! Some of you may know I started out life as an sci-fi/fantasy illustrator and then fine artist, but about 10 years ago switched to jewelry full time. Recently the desire to paint has returned in a powerful way and even though I have four large pieces still awaiting completion, a new one has come through and I’m going to go with it since it’s been rather insistent.
Preparing for a painting is a lot of work. The first stages are all about concept and preliminary sketches. This one comes from an old pastel piece I did a few years ago. It was fairly well along and I liked where it was going, but when I went to spray it with fixatif, the stuff spattered all over it and ruined the piece. I set the piece aside but thankfully kept it, and a couple of weeks ago I decided to develop the idea a little further, as you can see from the sketchbook and another quick color piece.
Most of my sketches like those in the book are just a few gestural lines as I start pulling a concept and composition together. I did several of those. Next I wanted to work up a loose chalk color study in the correct proportion of the final piece, which would be a 20” x 44” panel.
Like the one that was ruined, this is on blue toned paper. The scene is on a desert planet, set high on the edge of a red rock mesa which overlooks a vast plain of salt over a thousand feet below. The sun has just set and the afterglow has painted the rocks with flamelike color. In fact, this section is called the Fire Altar. The rock formations are actually closely layered fins, very broad when viewed from one direction, but when seen edge on, as they are here, they look like flames. The idea for them came from the granite formations of White Tank in Joshua Tree National Park and the Fiery Furnace in Arches.
I also played with the composition and dimensions a bit, giving it a more panoramic line.
The moon is rising; the planet actually has a second captured moon, a tiny irregular reddish rock that I was going to put into the frame, but found it distracting. What you don’t see well are the linear arrays of thousands of pylons of luminous green, aqua and blue stone out on the salt. This is a breathtaking sight that I’ve wanted to paint for years. That will come out more in the final painting.
At this point I was ready to start the painting, which meant prepping the panel. So, on to Home Depot where I purchased a 4’ x 8’ sheet of hardboard and had them cut it to size. Then the real work began. I like a very smooth surface, which means several coats of thinned acrylic gesso, sanded between each coat. Thanks to our hot high desert sun and single digit humidity, I was able to complete the entire job in a day, but it was a workout. Each coat was brushed on, then the board was set out in the sun to dry, then brought back in and sanded. I did this eight times to get an even, bright white coat…messy, sweaty work. The next day I gave the coat a final sanding with 400 grit sandpaper, bringing it up a vellum-like surface.
After three days to let the panel dry, today it was ready for the ground. I brushed on a thin layer of tanzanite-hued pigment thinned with turpentine, then removed most of it with a rag. This emulates the toned paper of the studies, and as the image is built up on top of it, it will impart a luminous glow that subtly shines through the layers. The base color of this ground will also help chromatically unify the piece…kind of like its soul color.
Ah, the smell of turpentine. I’ve missed it. Once this dries, I’ll start working up the underpainting. Until then, it’s jewelry making time!
Have a great weekend!
From the ancient turquoise mining area of the Ancestral Pueblo people, soft green turquoise set in a Desert Primitive ring
…and there is another new turquoise ring in my Etsy shop!
Deep organic desert style…wild ocotillo textures
A rare and unusual material in a striking shape…unique drop earrings
Earrings for you today! Also new earrings and a fused silver bangle in my Etsy shop!
An exceptional fragment of ancient ivory, polished to show its incomparable patina
A beautifully preserved prehistoric horse tooth fossil totem pendant on pearls and silver
Two bold and beautiful Desert Talismans for you today, full of ancient energy…
Three earthy and organic necklaces…desert treasures
ALSO today…two new medicine bags in my Etsy shop!
Three new pieces for you here today, and one in my Etsy shop!
All of my pieces are now infused with Reiki energy, once while I work and again when I pack them up to go out to you. Reiki is a wonderful healing energy straight from Source. I have been infusing my talismans with energy and intentions for you all along, but have recently been inspired to use Reiki specifically as well. If you would like to know more, please ask!
An ethereal evocation of sunlight glittering off gypsum dunes…
A bracelet of heavy, primitive silver links with an ancient ivory artifact and bronze charm
Fantastic, deep impression of the bark of a living Joshua Tree in the Mojave desert
A set of Spirit Beads that you can wear as a lariat necklace, featuring stunning green turquoise, ancient ivory, and Baltic black amber
This is an amazing one…!
Timeless beauty…a simple statement of desert textures in bronze and earthy rose gemstone beads
This very special set of prayer beads, or Spirit Beads, has just been listed in my Etsy shop. It was modeled after my own set of Black Madonna beads and is even larger and more elaborate, with vintage, antique and handmade elements that are one-of-a-kind. It is a very powerful offering.
Unique cluster earrings with impressions of New Mexico desert rock in bronze
Here’s the result of three days of intensive work, plus a trip to Mesa Verde. I just finished these bronze metal clay pieces, 39 in all, the entire contents of a 200 gram pack of clay. The impressions run the gamut from New Mexico’s Chihuahuan desert out to the Sonoran desert of Arizona and the Mojave in California, and there is a suite of pieces I created onsite from the sandstone and trees of Mesa Verde in Colorado. (Utah and Nevada are missing….hmmm…time for a road trip?) And of course there are some fossils added to the mix as well.
Bronze clay is so beautiful and strong but boy, is it a bear to work with. The unfired clay is much softer and more breakable than silver clay. When it’s fired in the kiln it must be buried in a pan filled with activated carbon (think charcoal), which means a very messy cleanup involving scrubbing with a stainless steel brush after it comes out of the pan.
I hand-finish each component so it has just the patina and level of polish that suits it best, something that wouldn’t be possible if I just tossed all the pieces in a tumbler. But it takes a lot of work, and today I spent 6 hours of constant sanding and scrubbing to finish this batch…ibuprofen time!
I began this morning with cleaning the freshly fired pieces, then the rubber gloves came off and the alligator skin tape went on my fingers and thumbs before I began sanding. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s necessary to wear protection. The gator skin tape was black and shredded by the time I pulled it off today, but in the past it was blackened and painfully split and shredded fingers instead.
After the cleaning I went into the studio and spent several hours sanding. Each piece was gone over with two different grits of sanding sponges, with some also getting a preliminary reduction with coarse sandpaper. It takes a lot of elbow grease to refine the hard bronze surfaces. Then it was back to the kitchen sink where each piece was dipped in hot liver of sulfur, which smells as good as it sounds, and then it received a final going-over with steel wool and and an abrasive pad. Once everything looked good I gave the pieces a thorough washing in warm, soapy water and they were done.
The pieces look a little harsh and silvery in this light, but it’s been a cloudy day. The patina will deepen and mellow over time to the warm golden hue we associate with bronze. Look for these beauties to start appearing in the shop soon!