Sunday, November 8, 2015

Flat Screen Eugene

I have a second-hand tv in my studio, that often keeps me company while I work. I call it Eugene, and when I'm not using it, it hides behind two doors in a niche. It's great for background noise, and I sometimes play music on it. But I mostly use it to listen to PBS specials and old movies. I say listen, because most of the time I can't look at the screen while I'm working. So I sometimes find myself looping the same media a few times back to back to hear everything.
Today I nerded out to Nova while painting. I "watched" a special about my favorite stone, amber, and its prehistoric origins. Then another about the Parthenon. Couldn't look, but I painted and yelled architectural terms over my shoulder at the screen as they discussed theories about the original construction and rebuilding of the Parthenon. (Doric! Ionic! That's entasis, people! Come on, say it!). My art history professor might be proud to know that stuff stuck with me all these years, lol.
Anyway, when I flick Eugene on and get busy, time always flies. Paintings painted, forms sculpted, photos taken, descriptions written, orders packed, whatever needs to be done. But it feels like time well spent, and I love it. ♥

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Go With the Flow

I used to annoy my Art School professors with my insistence on doing things [creatively] in a manner different from the established approach. I wanted to sketch things from what they sometimes called "oblique" or awkward angles. I would start a project with a step that was typically designated for midway through. I would sit down at the computer to build a graphic layout of letters and symbols without first spending hours brainstorming with pencil and paper (a mortal sin, according to my award-winning typography teacher). But aggravating them had little or nothing to do with my motivation. My motivation, which has admittedly taken years even for me to understand, was to find a comfortable starting point. To break a creative goal down into bite-sized pieces and start with the easiest to digest. This approach saved me all the times when I was clueless as to where or how to start, and even when I knew what I wanted to create, but was overwhelmed with how to do it. For me, to this day, the point is to start. To use whatever inkling I have, rub it together with a little focus and discipline until I catch a spark and the embers of inspiration begin to grow. Pablo Picasso said "inspiration exists, but it has to find you working". Picture standing on a trail with a bike, undecided where you want to go. Then once you get on and start peddling, the path opens up to you, and you're on an exciting ride with some awesome scenery. Forcing has never worked for me creatively.
But going with the flow, and tinkering with the [small] portion I'm clear on works all the time. It almost always gets the ball rolling.
I recently posted about a wire figure I had started, and today I finally found a few minutes to finish the wire portion of that sculpture. With a piece like this, more often than not, I do go the traditional route of planning prior to starting, even if it's just a quick sketch to decide.
But in this case, I pictured in my mind the form, size, style, and textures before I decided one big thing. The pose! I formed the frame and even the base on which it will stand. I decided what will happen with the surface once the pose is chosen. But I won't just do "eeny meenie" and settle on, say, "I'm a little teapot" or something. I want something good. So I'll probably pause on this one again until I really connect with the perfect pose/energy.
My point is, take a task, creative or otherwise, by the horns, or the snout, or the foot, or the tail. Not necessarily what someone else tells you is the "right" way to do it. Whatever it takes to get rolling. Before you know it, you've finished.  And hopefully I will, too! I'll update this post with a link to this piece when it's complete.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Various Dummies

It's a little known fact that I have my very own team of models for my online shops. Well, actually, if you've browsed the jewelry section of my shops, you might have spotted them working their magic for the camera. I'm talking about my quirky collection of busts. 
I have slowly, over many years, accumulated a group of various types of display busts in my studio. Some I made myself, some that came from a store. But they each offer a different vibe to suit pretty much any piece of jewelry I want to figure out how to complete or  to display in a [somewhat] human way to help people picture pieces on themselves.  Here they are!
click to enlarge
A. Stella is a miniature dummy created using a store bought papier mache form. She's due for a makeover, because, well, branding. I made her wire base from scratch and decoupaged scrap paper on her. I have some newer paper that will give her the perfect look!

B. The Cyclades are papier mache forms I made, which look a little like bowling pins, but are intentionally stark so the focus is on the item they display. The big guy is finished, his buddies are new ones in progress.

C. Jezebel was ordered online. She's pretty sassy, with her low cut neckline. She has an ear with a hole, so I use her mostly to display earrings.

D. Cooper is the coolest DIY bust, made years ago using the instructions found here. This one is made from heavy card with muslin glued onto it prior to folding. This blog demonstrates a great similar approach. You could make all the busts you'd ever need, in all sizes and colors using this easy technique.

E.  Ebony is a traditional black flocked store bought bust. She's great for elegant pieces, but she attracts lint like a cat lady's sofa, so she has her own lint roller.

F. India was started eons ago, using papier mache, before I knew all the tips and tricks I would learn by just doing. I finally finished her a couple of years ago. Her top layer is pretty printed tissue, salvaged from a purse I bought ages ago (do they even stuff purses with tissue anymore?). She has adhesive backed copper tape on her neck, and yes, that's a papier mache pear where her head would be. You could ask, but I don't know why a pear, lol. I felt I needed to put something up there, and it was laying around the studio, so. Anyway, her job is usually to display long pieces or lots of pieces together.

G. Abbie- a small, store bought linen covered bust often helps me when I need to design or pin options together onto a bust for customers to consider.

H. Eve- my very first bust, was made by me in papier mache. You can tell she's been hanging around the studio for many years, because she has paint splatters all over, but I think that only adds to her charm. And she's proof that you don't need much to get started.

And that's all of them (for now)! Now that you've met them, how bout something extra?
Browse the jewelry section of my web store, shop Created by Renée, and paste a link in comments on this post to a jewelry item featuring one of the gang in its pictures. I will then email you a discount code for 20% off that *piece!  This offer is good through 11:59 ET Sunday, 10/4, so hop to it! I'll be accepting links until then, and the coupon will be good through 11:59 ET the following Sunday, 10/11.

*Must provide a link to a jewelry item in my webstore (linked here) and a valid email. No links will be accepted after 11:59pm 10/4/15. Offer good for one piece only through Sunday, 10/11/15. Free domestic shipping. Discount does not apply to international or expedited shipping costs.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Creative [Personal] History

I love wire sculpture. I don't often have the time to do it, but today I made some time for the sake of an idea that's been hounding me for a while. Here's the work in progress: 
The idea is an offshoot of an exercise an art teacher gave me to do when I was a kid. She showed me how to sketch what I called "scribble" people, so I could practice figure drawing. Soon I was drawing them constantly, in various poses, then referring to them for more traditional sketches.
click to enlarge
I think they helped my understanding and technique in life drawing. 
At least, my life drawing professor at college years later seemed to appreciate what I was producing by the time I reached him. I had left the figures on the page and had been constructing figures in clay, wire, and whatever else was handy, culminating in a life sized wire figure sculpture, which won me his seal of approval and a spot in a student exhibition.

Fast forward to today, and I'm picking up an old love to use in new work. I'm a big believer that whether we seek it or not, life mandates an accumulation of bits and pieces that fit together into a bigger picture. It sometimes takes time to reveal itself, but makes so much sense in the end. Sorta like pointillism, lol.

I made a quick video to demonstrate, but as I was working around things propped and finagled to get the angle right, my hand and the sketch are kinda clumsy. I hope you get the idea, lol. 
Try some scribble people yourself!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How-To: Salvaged Paper Envelopes

Earlier today I posted a pic on Instagram of some fancy bubble mailers I made from salvaged mailers and calendars. I also mentioned having made regular letter and note card envelopes from magazine pages. Well, I wanted to share a quick (please be quick, please be quick!!!) how-to on those, for anyone who wants to make some for themselves. Here's the breakdown:

How to by Renee Parker
click to enlarge
You will need:
  1. Templates. Find them online and print them out or pull open extra envelopes you have laying around and trace them. I like to trace them onto heavy old fiber board that I've saved from the backs of writing pads. They are a pain to cut out, but the heavier they are, the longer your templates will last.
  2. Glue sticks. I've used the fancy "strong" ones made by the popular brands, but, to be totally honest, the cheap ones seem to allow for pulling off and repositioning, and seem to hold best once dry. I don't like to have to go back and glue edges and corners again.
  3. Scissors that cut fancy edges. These are totally optional, just nice for a fancy finishing touch. 
  4. Regular scissors.
  5. Salvaged magazine, catalog, calendar or other pages with colors and images you like. 
  6. Colored printer paper. 
Not shown: Ink pen.
Quick, easy steps:
a) Lay your envelope template onto a salvaged page and trace. It's best to trace onto the BACK of the page/image you want to use, so you don't have pen marks visible on your finished envelope.
b) Cut the envelope shape out of the salvaged page. 
c) Use the glue stick to attach the cut out to a piece of coordinating colored paper. This will be the lining for strength and, well, style. If you want to get extra fancy, use a printer to print things (quotes, initials) onto the colored paper BEFORE gluing it to envelope cut outs.
d) Cut the envelope out of the colored paper and fold together, with the colored paper inside and the salvaged paper outside.  Glue the folded in edges together. Use glue stick, tape or a seal to close the envelope.

The bubble mailers I mentioned are made similarly.
How to by Renee Parker

 Simply snip the top edge (including used adhesive flap) off clean. Coat sides and apply salvaged paper, one side at a time, folding over wherever possible. Leave enough excess salvaged paper at the top to create a fold over flap. Trim edges after gluing paper on, if necessary. Optional: trim flap with fancy edge scissors to create a zig zag, wave, or other edge. Seal with glue stick or tape to mail. Hope that's quick, easy, and clear! Feel free to hit the share buttons and pass it on, or add your own tips, ideas, or spin on this project in comments!

Updated to add: The USPS does accept these for mail (I've mailed them!), and they do call for either printed or handwritten address labels.  I recommend white paper you can tape on, or adhesive backed white labels.