Freitag, 22. Dezember 2017

Ornaments - Art Elements Design Challenge

I have a lot of plans every year -shortly before or directly after Christmas- what I want to do for the next one. A year seems a long time until... yes, until Christmas surprises me again. Like snow, who would guess it can snow during winter time?!

A long time ago I had a fabulous plan: I wanted to create an ornament every year! Not only for me but for all my family, with the year written on it... and so on and on. I actually did manage one time perfectly, other times only for some, but more often than not: Total failure!

Truth to be told, I am to old to change my habits. Just by planing something it won't function. I need some backup plans to trick myself somehow. Like cleaning up our apartment, my husband and I are often just to damn tired and both o us also often work on weekends.So no regular schedule will work and even if there are people who enjoy to sort and clean, we don't belong to them (we just enjoy a finished clean apartment ;) ).

So, as I said, we are both to old to change habits... so what does the trick? Invite people! Because I actually am able to sort and clean in record time, go to the tiniest spot to find the dust, and so on. After all I work in a genetic lab (one of my "hypothesis" is that there is just a certain amount of tidiness available in me and it is all used up in the lab ;) ) and there I run a nightmare regime (actually all of my former students become as nightmarish in the lab as me! Soooo proud of them all!).

Our apartment is our deeply personal cave, our safe hiding spot of the world and yes, there are very, very few people allowed to see it as it is. This trick works really good for me (not for my husband) even though I know it is a trick.

To come back to the ornaments. If something doesn't work for years, it also probably won't work next time. So my trick is to go away from the same ornament and just experiment with shapes and textures what would actually work to "become" an ornament!

Works wonderful for me! I love to play and experiment (I hate repetition) and after a while I have enough ornaments for christmas presents!

This year I worked with ceramic clay instead of polymer clay and I love them all! I used wooden fabric stamps, fabric lace, and silicone texture baking mats.

Thank you for joining our ornament design challenge this year  and I hope you will have a look at what everyone else made! :)

Guest Designers

Art Elements Team
Claire Fabian (you are here)

Dienstag, 31. Oktober 2017

Find the hare - Component of the month at Art Elements

The component of the month (COM) at Art Elements (AE) was made by Niky Sayers this time. It was one of her gorgeous coin claps. I love her work for years, her creations really speak to me. Especially how she uses old coins and creates something new out of them.

I have to admit there was only one problem...

It was a struggle to take images! The silver of the coin shines so brightly that it reflects the light and makes it difficult to capture the hare image. This is actually not a problem in real life but moreover a problem of not having a professional camera on my side ;)

So you will have to believe me on this!

I used some green leather scraps. It was a rather accidental choice since I am cutting leather right now for some book binding (christmas is right around the corner) and loved the green scraps too much to throw them away (it may be a massive problem to be able to use nearly anything... it may accumulate the stuff one have....).

So I cut them to thinner stripes, knotted them several times and combined them with rustic beads. The blue ones are made by Grubbi ceramics and the round ones by me. Also I just went with it. There are also some other beads hidden, a single blue dyed seed and some glass ones.

The clasp will be one the side when this necklace is worn. So the weight of the (mostly) ceramic beads will further secure the hold and it adds a wonderful accent.

Thank you so much Niky! I may finally be ready to also use the other precious pieces made by you I have hoarded until now. :)

Please have a look what everyone else made. I can't wait to see it myself!

Guest Designers

Art Element Team

Samstag, 30. September 2017

Zom-Bee! - Component of the month at Art Elements

Time really seems to fly. It seems Laney Meads adorable little zom-bee beads just arrived and now September is already nearly gone...

This year seems to fly especially fast. So many things happened -good and bad-, so many problems came over from last year, and the general workload from my husband and me seem to have triplicated this year.

We didn't even manage our time out at Formentera and it pays for him as well as me. It is a kind of deep exhaustion and nerves are laying blank. But sometimes it is... like it is. Even in hindsight, I don't know how we could have managed it any other way.

Of course there were a lot of good things (and he is a constant good "thing", even when we fight ;) ), for example some of the research grants I applied for were granted.

But back to the component of the month (COM) of september at Art Elements (AE). I tried a lot with this cute little bee (look at the eyes!) but most didn't work out. Most failures were due to the fact that the zom-bee was not the main focus anymore and somehow got lost.

So I went with a cleaner design with only a few elements: A matte big glass drop to counter balance the zom-bee, tiny beads to get the overall shape right with some metal elements added and a drop of blood red at the top.

The chain is adjustable due to the added rings on top of the pendant. I like both ways.

So that was it in short. I will be in Berlin (again) on saturday, come back in the middle of the night, because sunday is my husband's birthday. Maybe I can find some sleep in between ;)

Thank you so much for this cute little zom-bee Laney!

And please have a look what all the other participants made! (I'll also come over to have a look but it may be late sunday)

Team – Lesley  Watt  –  Jennifer Cameron  – Diana Ptaszynski  – Jenny Davis-Reazor – Susan Kennedy – Caroline Dewison – Lindsay Starr– Cathy Spiey Mendola – Claire Fabian (you are here) – Niky Sayers – Laney Mead

Freitag, 1. September 2017

"The whole universe - inside my hand" - Art Elements Component of the Month [August]

Edit: I am sorry for the late blog post. I had problems with my login. :(

Time just seems to fly. I am not sure where the year went by, let alone summer...

Everything is okay but I need more time to actually stop and realize this. I try to find some time in between, to have a day without any plans, to just sit on our balcony, drink some coffee and do nothing.

Still, I am at unease and realize now more than ever, that I have to take care to stop more often. To make it a habit and not the last safety line. I tend to overthink, to worry, to panic... and then to freeze. I work hard to differentiate what I can do and influence and what I just have to left to chance because I can't do anything about it. It sounds easier than it is especially if your heart is in it.


I don't want autumn and winter to come. Every year I like them less. Trust me, I have no problems being cozy in summer time! ;) But I hate the dark times more and more, I hate the cold and even more the dirty snow and ice in a city, and even more that the days seem always to be too short. Yes, there are a few beautiful days and it is nice when I am on holidays and maybe in the country side. But a few nice days... in contrast to a lot of wonderful days in summer? No comparison.

So here I am contemplating and rambling and whatever while it should be about the gorgeous beads from Caroline (you can find more of her beds here). She send them to us for the august "Component of the Month" (COM) challenge over at Art Elements (AE). They are little treasures and I played with them a lot, just looking at them (yeah... reading this again, it sounds a little bit strange? But I do love the tactile quality of beads).

Choosing what would go along is a quite meditative process and this time it got me thinking. Maybe it were the stars, maybe it was reminding me of the nightsky you can see during summer time on Formentera (we didn't manage to go there this year, one of the reasons I am a little bit down)...

I went with the combination of earth and sky. The more rustic beads combined with the shiny nightsky. I tried to link it all together by adding these small amber glass beads as spacer to repeat in a more subtle way the gold. I wanted to tie it together without overwhelming everything.

I also repeated the blue and gold using the same amber glass beads and some blue glass beads at the end. For me it holds everything together. While there are a lot of different colours, surfaces and textures used, I always try to get them coherent by the general shape of the work (here the bead sizes along the necklace) and like these repeating colours. By the way, the necklace can be worn as a choker or as a long necklace. Both works very well because of the nice weight of all the beads (you need some weight for a necklace to have a good fall).

Since Caroline send three beads, I used the big one for the necklace and the smaller ones for earrings. No, they are not meant to be worn together but of course can be! While the creation of the necklace was a nice flow as soon as I knew which beads I wanted to use and what kind of feeling it will represent (for me at least ;) ), the earrings were another story. I took them apart several times. Too much, to big, too.... I don't know. Often just not right. One version was combined with some gorgeous silk and it looked really good, but way too loud.

I love big and strange and weird and loud jewelery, don't get me wrong. But it has to be coherent. With the silk added, it seemed like two different stories. So it was a no again. In the end I used a very simple design. I turned the ends of copper wire so they would not go through the beads, wrapped it on top and finished. Let me tell you, simple as they are, they look stunning when worn! The pictures just don't give them justice.

Thank you so much Caroline! I really enjoyed working with your little galaxies!

And now please have a look what all the others made!

Sonntag, 30. Juli 2017

"Time-worn" - Scarabs - Component of the month july (AE)

Scarabs... what a wonderful fitting component, like made only for me! (I guess there may be several people thinking that ;))

The component of the month was a lampwork bead made by Susan Kennedy (you can find her shop here and her blog here). Actually I cried out for this special scarab during a bead sale she had... and she send me this one for the component of the month challenge over at Art Elements! Thank you so much!

You can easily see why this bead was (in my mind) made only for me: Insect, rustic, turquoise, ancient looking, crusty, organic... and with a definitive tribal vibe.

This time I went again for an overall quite simple necklace shape but I wanted the scarab to be the focal piece while having an easy to wear necklace. I try to balance the jewelery I create. Here all the special details are in the single parts.

Being extravagant with the parts as well as the shape can be gorgeous (and I do and love that too) but it ends up in pieces for only few special occasions. I wanted something more suited to have the piece with you on (maybe nearly) every occasion - like your own little ancient amulet hidden in plain sight.

I combined the scarab with some rustic beautiful beads from Kimberly Rogers (numinosity) and some seaglass like beads from Julia Hay (yes, both some of my favorite lampwork artists ever), some matte greyish-lilac faceted beads (from The Curious Bead Shop) knotted with deep purple waxed linen with basic macrame and finished with oxidised brass fishbone chain (my all-time favorite chain - would it not be for the fact how much time and trouble it makes to create this finish).

Thank you so much Sue for my scarab (still convinced you made him only for me)! Now please have a look what the other participants made with their scarabs.


AE Team

Claire (you are here)

Donnerstag, 29. Juni 2017

"All that bugs me..." - Insects (AE June theme challenge)

This months theme challenge at Art Elements (AE) was given by Diana Ptaszynksi: Insects. What a perfect topic for me and actually one that came up quite often in my work. Bet it the use of beetle wings in my jewelery or paintings or handcarved stamps.

It is a long time ago since I carved my own stamps. But since I love monoprinting, mixed media and handmade books, I wanted some bigger motives to use. I also had some new rubber carving material to try out (the blue "stuff" and new being relative meaning unopened but lying around for a long time). I love carving rubber because I don't need a press to get good impressions. But in the past I used real rubbers (to hard or stable to really carve well) or a rubber carving material at my craft supply store (at that time the only available but it sadly crumbles a lot).

What shall I say? I love it! It is smooth and easy to carve and IT DOES NOT CRUMBLE! The "crumbling" problem was one of the reasons I stopped carving my own stamps - to frustrating and heartbreaking. The motives of course insects, in this case I started with a beetle. 

Here you see my reference image. I actually cut it out in the desired size and draw the silhouette on my stamp to have some guidelines. You could also use some copy paper but test it first with the rubber. The one I had didn't work at all on the rubber surface while it worked perfectly on paper.

And printed on a colorful background (MDF) with black archival ink. Since the background was quite dark I used some coloured pencils to draw around and play a little bit with it.

Just look at the background, love it!

In my carving process I stop in between and stamp the image just to get an overall impression and see where I still have to change something.

With a lot of background and the wings not finished...

Nearly finished but with some broken lines I didn't like. Take care to really stop in between. I know myself, after the first rough carving I need a break (or start another one) and leave the fine details for another day. Never ever worked out if I did it all in one go.

Of course I also had to test them with ceramic clay. They leave a nice impression. 

I only smoothed out the outer areas where you would see the carved background lines and a little bit in the middle. 

Both will be decorative tiles (I think).

They are still drying but I am so curious how they will turn out. I will add some black underglaze to highlight the details (not covering the whole stamped image) and am thinking about a transparent glaze on the insect and an opaque around. What also could be interesting is to add some graphic designs on the background. Mh... still thinking...

After I got my love for carving back I thought also to give linocuts another try. Our professional art supply store takes care to only provide fresh linoleum for carving since it gets hard and brittle after some time.

It is still in progress but I am surprised how easy and nice it was to carve (also way cheaper than the blue rubber "stuff"). There are differences but I just need some training to adjust. Oh, and better tools...  but that is a wish for nearly any technique, nai? *sighs*

Also I don't have a printing press and just with hand pressure it really doesn't print as well as the rubber ones. But I'll see if I can somehow adjust a little bit. All these prints are still test prints in between just to see how the carving comes along.

You know, I have a lot of my own stamps and I was thinking to show you my older insect stamps made with different rubber materials. I also love to see how my own abilities evolved (or are not so restricted anymore with problematic materials? Who knows ;) ). 

So I went to have a look and thought, oh well, why not show you my whole collections? Here it is! (there could be some smaller ones be missing but then I wouldn't even know where to start looking for them). 

As you see I used every tiny wee bit! I so loved the big dragon fly image but sadly it crumbled (right side). It is a good material for stamps like the birds and leaves (top row, middle image) because they don't have small areas but are rather massive. But I am handling my octopus stamp with the most utter care! 

And I nearly forgot my pegasus, and my tree, and my spider, and my little owl, and my flower....! I definitely need to use them all again somehow! I hope I am not the only one sometimes forgetting the little treasures in their stash.

As a last impression: Here are all my other insect stamps I made a long time ago. As a reference I stamped the little beetle on my finger nail too.

Diana, thank you so much for this theme, it was perfect for me!
Now please have a look what everybody else made!


Art Elements Team
Claire Fabian (you are here)


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