Wednesday, April 09, 2014


Boy, did I love this cat! I painted his portrait, carried little tiny Polaroids of his face and stared lovingly into his eyes everyday. Folks would be like 'damn, you are obsessed with that cat!' and I would be like 'isn't everyone?'. Anyway, the picture is easily 15 years old, back when I used to make him fanciful collars (which he loved to wear - he would get really mad when our other cat Paddy would try and fight them off him). I was thinking  about his gorgeous face and wondered if it was time to get another cat......maybe I'll just wait awhile longer. He would be a hard act to follow.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Gilders Paste Patina

Hey there! Here's a quick tutorial on how to apply a colorful patina on metal. 
•Gilders paste in your choice of colors ( I use four: tulip red, iris blue, white and canary yellow - from this palette you can get every color). I bought mine from Rio Grande on the website:
•Paint thinner
•Gloves, I use non slip fabric gardening gloves by Atlas
•Cheap paintbrush
•Paper towels
•Cardboard work surface 
•metal charms - I use this technique on my pewter and bronze beads and expect this to work on any metal.
First, get everything ready and work in a well lit, well ventilated area. Use a fan, since the paint thinner can give you a headache.
Dip the brush in the thinner and work into the paste cake, you don't want to soak the cake, just wet it enough to pick up some color. I use the lid as a palette to mix colors, wipe it off when the lid gets murky.
Apply the color over a clean metal charm, using the brush to scrub the patina into the recessed areas. Its easy to get lots of variations in the color, just dab a coordinating shade next to one already applied and blend. This part should be fast, don't agonize over it, get the patina on and move to the next one. 
I work in an assembly line, quickly brushing on the paste, keeping my brush somewhat clean by dipping it into thinner and wiping it on a paper towel. 
The colors shift between pieces, because I'm wetting the brush in thinner and picking up a little paste, mostly mixing on the piece itself. This method will give lots of variations, if you want pieces to match, premix a dollop of color on the lid.
Wait 5-10 minutes, then use a paper towel to remove the excess color. If it's still a bit damp, more will come off, giving a more subtle look. The drier it is, the harder it is to remove, although the high points of the design will polish readily. 
I put on gloves while handling the pieces, because I don't like my fingers to get stained. Plus, it helps grip little charms.
I let the finished pieces dry completely and give them a light polish. The wax in the patina shines up nicely! I used to coat the pieces in Renaissance Wax to seal the surface, but found that it was an unnecessary step, since there is wax in the patina. I started using this technique after years of fiddling around with various recipes of patina and having some items continue to erode. This method doesn't alter the metal itself, just adds a tough layer in the recessed areas. If a solid color is desired, try metal inks, although both methods will wear off with time and use. The subtle coloring in the design sets off the metal itself, adding another dimension to the piece.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Gaston Collective

Hey there! I have some interesting news! My good friend Jessica Gaston has just started a new endeavor called Gaston Collective, a jewelry design company featuring the work of American artists with the goal of making meaningful, symbolic pieces made in the U.S.  The exciting thing for me is that I'm one of the artists! It's a great opportunity for me to be a part of this design group, since it will generate income that will be used to upgrade our equipment here at GGS. Also, I get to make things with my buddies Kate Richbourg and the master of wax, Bob Burkett. I'm really proud of my friend Jess for putting forth so much effort to get this project underway. She's like a force of nature, her enthusiasm is so great. She started a fundraiser on Indiegogo to help buy equipment and more materials, here's the link to check it out:
The prizes that will be offered are pretty outstanding, plus it's a great opportunity to help a great group of artists reach their dreams!
Here's a painting of Kate's eye.
Some of the lovely charm bracelets we are offering (note the sweet bead caps - they are carved to look like the bases of flowers!).
Check out the website to see more:

Monday, December 09, 2013


Ok! Here's a progress shot of the painting, after working on it all weekend. I think another two days will be enough. Then it's pieces for Tucson! 

Friday, December 06, 2013

Typhoon offering

Hearing about the devastation in the Phillipines was terrible, especially since my moms family is there, trying to pick up the pieces. My mom ( and the rest of my family!) has coming up with ways to help. The picture above is a progress shot of a painting I'm going to make prints of to benefit my faraway family. It's pretty loose now, but it will be built up with layers of egg tempera and watercolor. I based the mermaids face on my mom, when she was a teen.
This was the first sketch, really quick, done in pen and watercolor washes. 
Here's one of my reference pictures - I think my mom wouldn't approve of this tousled look, but she never looks at my blog, so I'm safe! Anyway, I will be posting more pictures of the painting until it's finished. Hopefully it will be done by Monday!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Hello! Here's a progress picture of a little embroidery I've been working on. I carry this in my purse, or leave it on my desk, where I can pick it up and sew a few stitches here and there when I have a moment. I find it helps to stir up creativity when my hands are occupied. That old proverb my grandma used to say: 'Idle hands are the Devils playground' sort of stuck with me. I always have some kind of handwork: knitting ( which I am not very skilled!), twining miniature baskets, sewing tiny doll dresses, beading ( of course!) or just my sketchbook. Since my livelihood depends on creativity, the small practices that nourish inspiration are something I try to do every day. It staves off the dreaded ruts and staleness that can find an artist. 

So, this little piece of linen fabric and silk thread will eventually turn into a small pouch, for earphones, or prized beads. I like the idea of objects made by hand, they seem to have a magical quality that machine made things lack. 

Friday, November 01, 2013

Magical moments in SF and Montara

There's nothing quite like enjoying a feast with friends at SF's famous Zuni's. Pictured above from the left: Saara, Kate and Jess. 
Jess Gaston and Kate Richbourg giving inspiration for treasure lockets at a trunk show.
Odd metal goats grazing on a hillside.
Ken is an amazing chef at Zuni's and made a sumptuous meal of Porqueto (pork belly wrapped around a roulade of pork shoulder and orange and fennel).
A lovely dinner that Ken and Chris prepared (fresh black eyed peas, squash, white sweet potatoe, roast chicken and mustard greens). Southern cooking at its best! 
Katje and Chris preparing fresh oysters while I enjoyed spicy clams and white wine.
Beautiful lichen and moss growing high in the mountains. The hike up was steep and covered in mist, probably the reason the trees were so covered in lichen they looked furry.
Gooseneck barnacles and tiny shells. Don't they look as though they could start chattering and squaking? 
Huge sea anenome on the beach. I'm totally enamoured with tidepools and could look at them all day.
More tidepool finds, this time with seaweed and starfish.
Kate knitting by the fire at Montara House. Part of the charm of staying at this seaside house is sitting by the fire, listening to the ocean, chatting and sipping nice wine. 
A view of Montara House from the sea side.
The docks at Montara is the best place to find delicious fish. Unless you get there late and it's all gone.
An opalescent hermit crab nestled between rocks.

I really love visiting my friends on the West Coast, especially our time at Montara House. It's a wonderful house party of creative folks enjoying good food, tasty cocktails and lively conversation. So many good ideas and artistic revelations happen, it's a place full of bright energy. Also, I think the slow pace is a perfect setting for painting, knitting, sketching and jewelry making. We enjoyed many evenings wax working with Bob Burkett, who joined us for a few days of intense technique building. It's simultaneously exploding with creativity and calm relaxation.

When I leave, I feel like some of the magic of those golden afternoons follow me.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

You make jewelry?

Yes! I still do! I also really love it too, after all this time. I was looking at my dragons horde of beads and organizing it, which I had been putting off for ages, when I found myself making a little pile of beads. The resulting necklace features beads from ( going top clockwise) Bobby Rhodes, Joanne Zekowski, 8 boro rondelles from various artists, pewter that we make, the brown an ivory bead is from Joanne,the real and ivory from Patti Cahill, the gorgeous rondelle in ivory with dots is from Wendy Bergamin out of Australia. The blue spotted big bead is from Calvin (Rene Yoshidas husband, can't find his last name). The last amber bead is from Joanne. I love this collection and have been wearing it everyday. I think I'll make another one in pinks.
I painted the insides of these lockets with acrylics and matte medium. I was going for a magical feel, like if you opened it, you would find yourself in another world. I might make some paper dolls to put on string for some movement. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

More fun!

One of the things I've always loved is fiber arts. I felt, sew, knit and weave baskets. So, I thought it would be nice to make some pretty accoutrements for my hobby. Pictured above is an owl thimble that is close to finished. 
I love buttons and have been making them for years, but since I've really gotten into sewing clothes, I'm making more practical type pieces good for shirts and jackets.
This is the top of a linen wrap dress I embroidered. I've found it really relaxing working on a piece of embroidery and hope to someday be as skilled as my mom and grandma. My buddy Jessica Wiesel has been instrumental in my newfound love of sewing. She's an excellent teacher ( I keep telling her she should do workshops ).
Here's another top I made, with a little stitch work at the shoulder. I am dying to make more, but I'm using it as a reward for finishing my work. When one is self employed, it is a lot easier to procrastinate and do the fun stuff first. I've had to learn a lot of discipline over the years! Anyway, we are pursuing fiber arts and will be attending a  Bead Fest Stitch Craft Create Show in Charlotte, NC
October 24-26 at the convention center. Come say 'hi' to Jess and check out our new buttons, thimbles and footed pin cushions!

Where have you been?

Traveling with the Doctor! Ok, really this is a nice prop from the Asheville Comic Con. We were surprised at the turnout and are thinking about vending next year with finished jewelry.
Isn't Greg the best Jen from the Dark Crystal you've ever seen? Jessica Wiesel made the outfit, which is a work in progress. He collects new things, like the crystal and makes other items like the double flute, which actually plays. I can't decide what kind of outfit I should make for myself, maybe something steampunk, or from Game of Thrones. Or Doctor Who.
Greg won 3rd place in the costume contest! The prize was a gift certificate to the local comic shop ( I think he bought the kids some Adventure Time stuff).
The last year or so I've been really into aquariums and have slowly filled every flat surface with a tank. I have six tanks at the moment. I'm obsessed. My favorite fish are Ranchu goldfish, they are nice and plump and lack a dorsal fin, which gives them a cute whale or manatee look. The one above is called a Kirin, due to his speckled black and gold coloring. We just got him and he is just recovering from being sick. Greg named him Hiro, after the character from the show Heroes.
Here are a couple of baby ranchus with my big boy from Hawaii. 
Azalea is particularly fond of Hiro, since he always swims toward her when she approaches and watches her intently. It's cute. I think I should make more ranchu themed items. I made a pendant, maybe a button or a paper doll next. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Warm days

So happy together!
This girl wanted this pufferfish so much. Now I have to figure out how to make a stuffed version.
Loved these plants! Anyone know what they are?
Sunset on the way to Cincinnati. 
Super cute penguins at the zoo.
Little boy standing over huge fish.
Worn out after lots of walking.
I love Azaleas little giraffe headband.