Put a Little Heart Into It

Here is what caught my eye today.Anna Kokareva uneven heart earrings I decided to peruse Flickr this time and came upon the pages of Anna Kokareva (aka Annie Bimur) and although there were a lot of pieces to grab my attention, it was this pair of not quite matching earrings with the heart just hanging out among all the crackle that really grabbed me.

I was a little thrown by that initially since I’m not much of a heart girl but the contrast of the simple sweet heart in all that texture really spoke to me. The uncomplicated things in life, like pure love and joy, set against a back drop of chaos … this is often what life is like, isn’t it? We just have to stop and appreciate the beauty within the bedlam. And in this case, we can appreciate the differences between the two earrings and probably find a smile on our faces when the little heart catches us by surprise.

The one thing I would improve is actually the background of the image. It is usually better to use a contrasting background, especially where texture (and color) is concerned or your work can blend too much with it, as it tends to here.

More little surprises as well as a riot of color and texture can be found on Anna’s Flickr photostream.

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A Different Kind of Happily Ever After

16260765847_497fb9958b_zSo this is the week I thought I’d try putting up some love stories and some art to go with those stories as a little homage to the upcoming Valentine’s holiday. I’m not a huge Valentine’s day person, more because of the commercialism and pressure it puts on couples but the general sentiment of the holiday … well, I think we should celebrate the love in our lives every day if we can.

I was talking to a friend of mine this weekend about this week’s blog project and was trying to explain the interesting mix of responses I got. I only got a few classic happy tearjerkers but then I got several sad but very loving stories. Half of the people who sent me stories did not not even want them posted. They just wanted to share it with me. My friend offered a couple suggestions as to why this was. She thought a lot of people might not share their story because either they don’t think its that special or because the best love story they had didn’t end with them staying together. So then the question arose, is it a love story if the people involved were no longer in love. “Well,” she said,”we both know a really good story that didn’t end with the couple staying together but its still a great story?” So I’m going to tell that first this week. This is a story about two people we used to know. We changed the names and a few details to protect the innocent  that don’t know we are writing about them.

We chose this heart off Pinterest to go with this story. It is a wonderful little piece by Betty Jo Hndershott and matches another conversation I had this week about simplicity. Simple is actually really hard to do well but this is one such example of a great success with simple things. This very solid faux ceramic heart has inside of it a wrapped up little wire heart. It has a great contrast in color, texture, size and line. When I saw it, I thought, the wire heart is like that fragile little thing inside the big love we all have, the thing we try to protect even though we can’t always keep it from harm.

So here’s the story, as best we can remember.

A Different Kind of Happily Ever After

It was James’ birthday and he was sitting at home alone. He had just moved to town after years of basically being a hermit. He felt misunderstood and had a violent childhood that had left him angry and closed off. But he wanted to change. He got online and posted a simple message on a message board:

“Songwriter/musician, new to town, just would like to have a drink and maybe see a live band with an intelligent pretty girl today because it’s my birthday. I’m smart and funny but I’m not tall or rich. Just an ordinary guy turning 31. Would you come make my night?”

He got a lot of responses like, “Ok, where do you want to meet?” But only one stood out:

“Hey songwriter/musician, new-to-town guy. Just wanted to drop in and wish you a happy birthday in case no one else does. I’m not the one to take you out for a drink though. I’m not ordinary, I’m tall for a girl, 8 years older than you, not a live music fan and I’m not much of a drinker. But know that at least one person out there is thinking of you and wishing you the best!”

James couldn’t resist. He wrote her back. They went back and forth, he giving her a hard time about not wanting to go out with a poor, short, young, ordinary guy and she coming back with funny quips about how he’d hate to hear about her crazy busy life of running charity events and trying to be an artist again. But then she stopped responding. He felt bad. Maybe his jokes went too far. But somehow even just that brief exchange made him feel better.

Valentine’s Day was a few weeks later. He decided he’d try his luck at getting out again. He read through some posts and this caught his eye:

“Anti-valentines Date—I don’t want to go on a Valentine’s date but don’t want to stay at home either. Feeling the same? Propose some wacky night out and let’s spend the night on our own terms.”

He wasn’t against Valentine’s Day but he did hate how society made you feel like some kind of loser not having someone on that day. So he wrote back. A minute late he got this:

“Lol. I don’t think you want to go out with me. You already kicked me to the curb on your birthday.”

It was that same woman he thought had stopped writing him! Apparently their last messages on his birthday didn’t make it through and they both thought the other had decided to end the conversation. He decided he wasn’t going to wait for Valentine’s. He wrote her back and said “What are you doing right now?”

A few hours later, they meet for coffee. He thought she was beautiful and she found his humor irresistibly charming. They talked and laughed for hours. They decided to have dinner the next night but that didn’t go as well. She had asked what he wanted from life and he said he just wanted something ordinary–work 9 to 5, come home, hang out with his girl and do simple things. She looked at him intensely and said, “No, you don’t.” It made him angry although he wasn’t sure why.

When they parted that night he thought he would never see her again. He was too ordinary and she was too driven for him. But he stayed awake all night thinking about it. And when he woke the next day he called her and said “Do you want to hear the story of my life.” She said yes and he told her all about it. She cried at moments and eventually told her own story. They both had been through a lot of difficult times. He dealt with it by being angry at the world; she dealt with it by constantly helping others but could never ask for help herself. They both distrusted others but in their hearts they wanted to. Their first big step came in trusting each other enough to fall in love.

Over the next four years, James self- managed his anger until it wasn’t a part of him anymore and Lynn made a point of asking people to help her out, even when she didn’t really need it. Together they both went out and met new people and grew a great new circle of friends. James started helping out at the fundraisers Lynn worked for and found out that he really liked organizing events which made him brave enough to get into working on music and other events. He was happy with his work for the first time in his life. Somewhere during that time James realized why he’d been angry that first dinner. He really didn’t want to be ordinary but he hadn’t known how to change that.

What he wanted–what they both wanted–was someone who made them more than they were on their own. For four years they did that for each other and grew personally and in their professional lives. In the end, they did not stay together. Lynn ended up traveling more than James could be happy with and James was heavily involved in the music community which he knew wasn’t Lynn’s thing. It came down to wanting lives that didn’t work well together. But that didn’t change the fact that they loved each other or that they still believed in each other. As far as we know, they still remain friends and as Lynn once said, “It may not have worked out but what we gave each other will last the rest of our lives.”

It was that line my friend and I remembered so well. So in a way, there was a happily ever after, after all.

 

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Floral in Fall

Working up a Fall product line doesn’t mean leaving your floral tendencies behind; the fashion designers certainly aren’t this coming year. From all I’ve read about upcoming trends, pattern in general will be a big focus and flowers, especially wispy wildflowers, daisies, and even dandelions, look to be the “in”thing. So how would you change things up from your Spring or Summer collection of blossoms?

Color will be primary in changing up for a Fall look. Although the Pantone palette for Fall has some rather bright colors, they are not pure colors or pastel. The Samba red and the Koi orange are both deeper and a step or two off their color origin, and the lighter colors are neutral more than anything; the Linden Green comes awfully close to being a kahki, and the Deep Lichen Green is more a cool gray than a green. So, can your flowers still be beautifully ornamental if toned down from their summer brilliance or if created in neutral colors? Of course!

Eva Thissen does neutral floral with a very delicate and controlled application of lines, small shapes, and contrast in color. In this case, we have a rich red heavily contrasting a neutral green (pretty much that Samba red and Linden green in the Pantone palette) with subdued blue, cream, pink, and brown flowers accenting the scene. Feminine, fetching, and definitely floral, there is the reserve and the richness associated with Fall, although I would be putting this in my jewelry rotation year round.

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Part of Eva’s distinction as a polymer artist is in her color choices. Although she is far from the only one to work heavily in the polymer embroidery technique, I find I easily recognize her work due to her color choices, not to mention the precision of application with those tiny bits of polymer and her penchant for story-like scenes. Enjoy perusing her Flickr pages and her enchanting pieces for a bit today.

 

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Transfers: A Treasure Trove of Possibilities

I have a bit of a love-hate view of transfers as an artistic technique in polymer in particular. On one hand, it’s such a cool, almost magical technique that can turn any bit of clay from flat to fabulous with minimal effort. That’s the beauty of it. However, since most polymer artists aren’t making their own images, the source of their transfers are sometimes copyrighted, which makes sharing or selling some work sticky or even unlawful. I’ve seen some gorgeous work I would have loved to share but I knew the images on the pieces were copyrighted and there was no evidence that the artist had acquired permission.

Then there is work where I have no idea if the images are copyrighted or not, which would be most of the transfer work I find online. Because of that, I’ve been reticent to share work with transfers; but at the same time, I don’t want to ignore what a great technique it can be. So I decided this week to go ahead and fearlessly share some transfer work and talk about some of the different ways you can use it and the variations that allow you to create more unique and personal work with your own imagery or imagery from other talented artists and designers.

Today, I just want to share some work that I personally really enjoy but have been remiss in sharing. Tejae Floyde is a fellow Coloradan with a penchant for hearts. And better yet, many of her hearts have secrets and surprises! I love the metaphorical use of a hidden heart embellished with a butterfly, an icon of flight and freedom,  inside a ornately decorated heart case.

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I believe the image used here is in the public domain, so reproduction is allowed. But better yet, the transfer is not the primary focus of the piece but rather part of a collective design. I particularly like seeing transfers that are worked into a design, whether they are the artist’s original image or not, because it allows the polymer’s beauty and advantages to come through so that the polymer and the transfer image complements each other.  It seems an ideal use of the technique.

If you haven’t experimented much with transfers, this might be the week to play with them. There are many different ways to create transfers, but here are a few to get you started:

A how-to from Tejae: www.tejaesart.com/how-to-polymer-clay-transfers/

If you like videos and are curious about how to create transfers on round of curved surfaces, check out this video by our friends at Polymer Clay Productions: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvQm45uQSzQ

And as for the copyright question, we’ll be saving that discussion for the end of the week. In the meantime, if you have images you would like to use in transfer and intend to sell it, familiarize yourself with public domain which can offer a multitude of beautiful images for your work. This page has a summary of US copyright and public domain terms you might want to keep bookmarked for future reference: www.unc.edu/~unclng/public-d.htm

 

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Cheery on Dark

I will be on the road for the next week plus still so the blogs might be a more brief than usual but I certainly can’t stop delving in and finding great inspiration for you daily. It’s one of the great ‘perks’ of this job!

Today, for your viewing pleasure, a pendant from Munich’s Eva Winckler also known as Chili Crab on Flickr and Etsy.

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She details this pendant with cheery, colorful flowers but on a matte dark blue, nearly black, background. Dark colors may not be the intuitive background for a floral piece like this but the contrast really makes the flowers pop and adds a bit of unexpected drama.

If you periodically question your choices for color combinations and try some different backgrounds … light bases with dark detailing, muted tones on bright backgrounds, a spot of red in a sea of calm blues and greens … you may surprise yourself. It won’t always work but push yourself as that is where the best discoveries will come from.

 

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