5 Favorite Cards For Thanksgiving and National Family Caregivers Month

November 13th, 2018

Here are seven wonderful greeting cards you can find at Greeting Card Universe. Click on the links to view individual cards and learn more. As much as I love showing off my own work, I think it’s also good to show off the work of other artists I admire.

This first card is by Ramelle Richardson whose cards make use of her own original paintings.

I love the very bold colors of this leafy card by Ron Magnes, a professional illustrator with over 30 years of experience.

A welcome vision of calm for Family Caregivers by Denise Trocio.

Another card for Thanksgiving, all about the elegance of calligraphy is by Teri Nelson Kuster, who aims to spread joy with greeting cards.

I’ll end with one of my own cards for National Family Caregivers Month. It features a list of tasks the card giver can volunteer for (or the recipient can request!).

Rain in November

November 6th, 2018

Pen and ink on watercolors of rain drops hitting a puddle, fine art by Patricia C Vener

“A Little Rain” © Patricia C Vener

Today is voting day in the USA. The weather is cool but not cold, though the drizzling rain makes it seem a lot colder. It’s also so dark at midday that I have the lights on! All in all, this should be a very dreary and depressing day. And although I am one of those affected by SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) I am not at all depressed!

Is it my lovely piece of artwork at the top of this post? Is it the gorgeous red of my Autumn colored Japanese Maple outside my window? Is it the CBD oil I took this morning? Is it the fact that I voted already? Or maybe the Cuban espresso I made after I got back? I have no idea, but I’m feeling as if, with patience I can accomplish anything.

What a great feeling! I wish I could bottle this and give it away. The best I can do is offer this blog post with its pretty picture and a virtual smile or hug (as you prefer) to you.

Red Sand on My Easel

October 2nd, 2018

Adding the bead base for the next stage.

Adding the bead base for the next stage.

After adding some glazing to the sand side of the painting I decided the best way to get the look I want is to lay down a “ground” that will capture the various strands of netting. If I was doing a free standing net piece I would be adding these decorative swirls, increasing the size of the piece as I go along. In deciding to fix the netting to my the canvas, the size of the work is laid out before I begin the netting weave.

It’s taking a while to do. I broke my needle and the new one I’m using now, keeps poking into me. Ouch! Also, despite the free form style, I am careful about where I place the little circlets. Not too far or too near each other. But I’m also excited to see where and how this piece (as a whole work) progresses.

There’s the verdant side to think of as well.

Learning on a Curve?

September 25th, 2018

Hoops and Loops earrings with red Czech Cathedral Beads

Recently, I attended an Eastern Star event as one of the vendors. I haven’t done a table or both event for quite a number of years due to caregiving responsibilities. Thankfully, I was sharing a table so didn’t have to be there alone. I limited my works to earrings and brought three different lines at three different price points. The most expensive were one of a kind dangle earrings that are the most ornate and they are priced at $35.00. I also brought some of my Improv earrings ($24.00). These are one of a kind as well, but in some cases, if asked, I can make multiples (when I have sufficient beads of the same type).

Finally, I had my newest line, Hoops and Loops, one pair of which you can see at the top of this post. These are all sterling or Argentium sterling silver hoops of varying diameter each withe a bead either directly threaded on or dangling by way of a smaller loop of silver. The bottom half of these earrings are hammered so as to have a bit of texture.

I want to start making some of the 3D sculptural looped wire as I shared with you in Metal in Massachusetts: Wire at Snow Farm. These would be rather daring, I think. Although I suppose I don’t have to make them all large.

On the announcement side of things, I’ve linked my Artwork Archive public inventory to my website on the Bead Weaving page. I’m planning to very soon break this up and link by collections of my work rather than everything all at once. Please take a look at Bead Weaving. Feel free to as about commissioning custom work!

And She’s Off!

September 4th, 2018

It pays to rehearse the set. Photo of a display arrangement for a small space.

Testing a display for a small space.

I’ve been invited to offer for sale my latest series, hand made silver wire loop earrings. I will have a small space on another artist’s table. The event is two days long in the middle of September. I am planning ahead! I’ve got three different earring collections, my Improv earrings, these new hoop and loop earrings (some are visible in the photo at the top), and my elegant dangle earrings which include not only some rare beads, but a bit of wire wrap using Bali silver findings and beads. three different price points, too.

I posted a photo of the loop earrings on facebook and already sold a pair from there.

What I am most pleased about, however, is that I have actually planned out all my tasks in advance and scheduled them on my calendar. I feel a great sense of relief when I am in control of things. Don’t you? You know, ’cause there’s no reason to panic.

Anyway, as I have more explicit information, (time and location), I’ll be letting everyone know! I appreciate your support.

Two Terrains Up On the Big Easel

August 28th, 2018

Painting in Progress in my studio

Yes, it’s a landscape but originally from a satellite’s perspective. Looks a lot like an Abstract, doesn’t it? Well, maybe an Abstraction? In any case what we see is a verdant region of pools of water connected to one another, and to the huge river down the center, by undulating streams. While on the other side a desert. Nothing flows in or out so the river neither feeds nor removes water from that arid region.

Given the nature of humanity’s influence on our climate and environment, what is the future of these places? For now, they inspire this work of art which is presently waiting for me to start the bead weaving layers.

I’d love to hear what you think about this work in progress. Please comment below and make me happy.

Metal in Massachusetts: Dance til you Drop

August 14th, 2018

Dance til you drop formed copper wire by Patricia C Vener

Dance Til You Drop by Patricia C Vener

Experimentation always leads somewhere. Experimentation is an important part of my creative process. I will work with something, learning as much as I can about the process and its results until I am satisfied that it will or won’t (at least for a while) become part of my repertoire. In this case, I experimentation lead to experiencing ow wire (copper and silver) behave and react to forming machinations. I experience what the material can do and how far I can start to take it. And what this might mean for artistic expression.

Finally, after assembling all my twisted forms, Alyssa asked me to choose three and make a sentence. I made a story out of that. Can you see it in the forms? Do they illustrate the title as much to you as they do to me?

“Dance til You Drop”

Metal in Massachusetts: Textures at Snow Farm

August 7th, 2018

Very close photo of the bark of a tree.

Wood by Patricia C Vener

It was my habit, almost every morning, to take an early walk around the dirt drive of the Snow Farm compound. On this walk I would pass a very knarled, possibly dying, tree that looked like it had been attacked by a fierce wind. Every morning I’d say to myself, “gotta take a picture of that before I leave.” So I did, as you can see by the image at the top.

The photo shows a contrast of not only color, but of textures as well. And that leads me to today’s topic.

Start with a small sheet of metal. Copper because we’re novices and while silver is not as pricey as gold, why waste the stuff?

A sheet of metal can be textured, oxidized, soldered onto, milled, cut, reformed into shapes. I’m thinking that if I can imagine it maybe I can make it. Well, I learned how to drill holes, cut out circles and rectangles, (well, I meant for it to be a square, but the rectangle worked great), saw curves and ovals. Cool. I also learned how to dap. Now there’s a technique that could be fun to experiment with (copper first!).

For one pair of earrings I textured the metal both before and after oxidizing. I gave those to my sister as an early birthday gift. Another pair was oxidized and then the edges were sanded for a black and white effect.

Smoothness can be somewhat controlled by polishing. Or not polishing. The finer the grit the greater the polish. I’m a shiny sort of girl so when I made my spinner ring not only did I sand, but I also polished on the big machine with Zam, a polishing compound that is less messy than rouge. Alyssa told me I can get the same effect by hand polishing with finer and finer grit and finish with a polishing cloth. I’ll try it. I love my shine!

Metal in Massachusetts: I Love Soldering!

July 31st, 2018

Who knew?

The ultimate project at Snow Farm, my spinner ring.

Spinner Ring, My First!

The full solder technique is clean, slump, solder, pickle, clean. Not everyone slumps but Alyssa showed how it’s very helpful, making the whole process fairly easy and straightforward with a lot less extra work in the end. Slumping is the process of painting flux onto the metal and heating it (until it slumps or as my class termed it, “schlumps”) before placing the solder. We actually did some soldering early on when we soldered ear wires (that we made) to some worked silver shapes. But it was the making of our rings that we really delved into soldering tasks.

We used mostly easy solder because it melts at a lower temperature than the sterling silver we are working with. I did once accidently use medium which took longer but was not a problem because I managed to not melt my metal.

Anyway, back to soldering (and slumping). Really, it’s too cool. The metal heats up and the flux bubbles away then I put the solder bits down and apply heat to where I want the solder to flow. Not to the solder! First, the scary bit: the solder pulls up into itself as if it’s trying to shrink away. Then suddenly it’s liquid flowing to wherever there is heat! By the last day, I could make the solder move up or down flattened wire without a solder pick! Woohoo, it’s dancing!

One of the attractions of this work is that it is subjective. The materials do something or they somehow change and I have to keep my eyes on whatever I’m working on so I can react and take the next step before disaster strikes.

Once I accidentally melted a section of my silver when I was annealing it, (making the metal more malleable for shaping and forming). I still managed to recover the piece for working and Alyssa said that melting was (another) way to learn about the limits of our materials.

As much as I enjoy soldering, though, it’s going to have to wait until I can set up a soldering station in the garage. I think my garage could be pretty good metal work studio if I can regulate the temperature.

Metal in Massachusetts: Wire At Snow Farm

July 24th, 2018

Free Form Twisted Wire Earring that I made at Snow Farm Craft School

Free Form Twisted Wire Earring by Patricia C Vener

Snow Farm has a dedicated metals studio. I love that it is old and well used and that they seem to have everything! (Or almost lmost everything. Well, everything we needed, anyway. Or Alyssa had it in her on tool box – and she shared! )

The instructor, Alyssa Dee Krauss, begins with introductions then segues into the first demonstration and tool introduction. I’m hooked! We are starting the course with copper wire, quickly followed by sterling silver. And the first thing we learn is how to straighten curled, bent, and kinked wire. It is one of the most relaxing and satisfying tasks ever! Imagine, you clamp the end of your wire in a vise. You grab the other end with chain nose pliers. And you pull; ever so gently at first, (because this is new and you don’t know what will happen). Pull more! Gently you increase the force until the wire seems to sigh as it straightens. You can feel it give!

When I feel the wire relax and stretch any tensions that I am feeling, dissipate as well.

Wow.

It works not just with copper wire but with the sterling silver wire, too. Alyssa suggests that breaking the wire by over pulling is fine because this teaches us something about the metal’s limits. Copper is softer than silver but the pulling technique works for both metals. This does also harden the wire a bit so we don’t do it over and over and over.

Wire has many possibilities. We practiced forming head pins ear wires, pin backs, and (especially in my case) other free forms. Alyssa suggested I could do production pieces based on one of the free forms, especially if I build a jig so I can repeat the wraps consistently. (I’m planning on reading up on how to make my own jig at some point.)

Using copper wire I even came up with designs that can go from earrings to tabletop decor. Wear ’em then display ’em. Cool.

My Copper Wire Free Form Experiments

My Copper Wire Free Form Experiments

I also learned how to make hoop and loop earrings. Also how to make the little catches which – oops – I put wrong way around on one of my earrings. Thankfully, I was able to fix that!

This is fun stuff! I am going to start replacing the mass produced earwires on my ooak bead woven earrings with my own handmade earwires. I am so excited about these new skills!