Oh man, I did it again. Summer’s over and I haven’t made a single brooch. I spent the first half of the summer training for the Ride for AIDS Chicago, which was amazing. I spent the second half of the summer working on my tan. Also amazing. I got into a major car accident, saw some ghosts, and sang Dolly on stage with a live band. So now it’s fall. I’m starting another semester monitoring at Lillstreet. I’m still going for the full 52 brooches, as promised. Some of them may have to just be coffee stains on a white shirt. What can I say?
In other news, I’ve been thinking of revamping this here website; including other arts & farts & crafts, distilling it down to mostly blog stuff, and updating the gallery. I’ve been thinking of revamping my life as well, but I’m not going to say anything about that until I’ve got more info. Wouldn’t want to jinx it. Let’s just say that I watched the documentary Beauty is Embarrassing and freaked out a little. I feel like I’ve spent the last year coasting on just-good-enough, when I shouldn’t be settling for any less than seriously-this-is-amazing. We’ll see. It’s totally possible that I’ll spend the entire winter playing The Cave and watching old episodes of Airwolf.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a picture that sums up my summer. All things considered, it’s been a pretty great ride.
Oh hi. What’s up? It’s been a while, yeah? About that. I’m way behind on these brooches. Weird, right? I still have every intention of catching up, but frankly my head’s not been in the game for the last month or so. We’ve had a brutally grey spring in Chicago. It’s just now starting to get nice out, and wow do we need it. Also I ran into some issues with WordPress which kept me from being able to update and made the blog real funky. Excuses. I know.
But I have been working on stuff. I poured a bunch of resin last week. I can knock out five solid brooches once I figure out how to set them. They are: far left, steel shot in resin with copper and brass tubing; top & middle, mesh origami paper; top right, peridot chips; lower right, blue eyeshadow.
And I’ve got two finished brooches to share… First is a brooch made from that same steel shot pictured above. Funny story, that material came from the inside of a wrist weight my cat destroyed. Thanks Badger. Below that is the finished brass tubing brooch that I love so much. I need to prefect the pin catch, but I’m thrilled with how it turned out.
In other productivity news, I built a new spray booth this morning. This guy’s a little studier than spray booth 1.0. And the clear plastic lets me see what I’m spraying without needing extra lights. By next weekend I should have a bunch of pieces ready for an afternoon of in-kitchen powder coating. Here’s to a blatant disregard for basic apartment safety!
We got a ton of snow in Chicago yesterday. Relentless, soggy, cold snow-rain falling from the sky. I took the day off to volunteer at Tree House cat shelter for World Spay Day. They spayed or neutered over 50 feral cats for re-release into local feral cat colonies. I moved cages full of angry cats from place to place, saw a lot of shaved cat bellies, and dealt with a lot of cat pee. Right now you’re probably either commending me on my charitable act or retching in between “Amanda is a cat lady” jokes, but I don’t care. Those are 50 cats who will never be on the Maury Povich show, and I feel pretty good about that.
Anyway, after a very cold & soggy commute, I made it home around 3pm. I snuggled with Badger and watched some TV and just generally enjoyed an afternoon off. Tuesday nights are my night at Lillstreet, but I was hoping that would be cancelled due to the Class III Killstorm raging outside my window*. Alas, the clock crept towards 6:00 pm with no word of cancellation. At 5:30 pm I peeled myself off my couch and prepared for another slog through the windy streets of Chicago.
I got to Lillstreet in a foul mood, determined to be pissed if anybody showed up for open studio and equally pissed if nobody showed up for open studio. Two students showed up right away. So I decided to stow my bad mood. Better to turn out a brooch in three hours of open studio than quietly curse two perfectly lovely women under my breath. And this is what I ended up with…
Oh holy crap! Will ya look at that! I should be in a bad mood every week. Obviously this is a work in progress, but I was so stoked about the outcome-so-far that I wanted to share it. It’s various sizes of brass tubing cut to the same length and soldered together. I plan to solder a stick pin backing on, give the piece a green patina, and then sand down the front face so the edges of the circles are a shiny brass. If last year you told me I’d be working in brass and making brooches and LOVING it… well you probably would’ve gotten my voicemail and I probably wouldn’t have gotten back to you because last year was really busy. But whatever. Brooches.
*The storm wasn’t actually that bad. I just really didn’t want to put on pants again.
So this brooch was supposed to be week 2′s brooch, then week 4′s brooch, and finally landed at week 8. It was, to put it lightly, a total bitch. I don’t know why. It didn’t require any new skills or materials. It’s just tiles set in copper bezels. Should’ve been straight forward and easy, but it was a difficult, stupid mess. Honestly, it’s not even finished yet. I need to strip the patina, sand away some of the extra solder (oh my God, this brooch is such a stupid mess) and attach a pin back.
Whew, week 6 is done. Copper and tile brooch with oxidized patina. For this guy, I made a half bezel at the bottom of the piece that holds the bottom of the tile, and folded a triangle of copper over to hold the top of the tile. The copper has a hydraulic press pattern, and I added a little hand stamp for good measure. Pretty pleased with the outcome.
The cool thing about this brooch a week challenge is quickly trying out new designs and thinking about how I can perfect them in the future. Like, this piece would work well in silver. Now that I know what I would change in the building stage, I feel better making the investment in more expensive materials. Learning! It’s terrific!