Totems

Freedom

So, for 2013 I have started to go back to allowing myself a little more freedom with my drawings and paintings.  I will probably always be a fairly "literal" artist in that I don't "do" abstract art.  I can appreciate it and love the flow and feel of it, but am a more restrained artist myself.

But for the past couple of years I have been focusing on drawing birds and animals in a mostly lifelike manner.  Trying to get the colors right and focusing on the animal itself.  This year I am going to explore my own interpretations a little bit more and see what I can come up with. 

I still like to add in all of the detail, but I think it will be more in a fanciful and determined way.  My first batch of pieces (besides the large totem I am still working on) have come out of the kiln and been mounted and titled.  You can see that I have taken liberties with the colors and have been working on creating an atmosphere with each little piece by expounding on the backgrounds and settings that each bird is in.

Ground Cover 1"Ground Cover"

Blue 1"Blue"

Extended 2"Extended"

About Town Card Holder 3"About Town"  Business Card Holder



We will see where this takes me.  I will probably still do some realistic birds to please the audience (and stay in practice) but I am really liking the freedom of color, pose, shape, etc you see in these pieces.


Tree Boxes

I had a brilliant idea!  Well, we all have them from time to time, don't we?

Turn some of my glass on wood pieces into boxes!  These could be for jewelry, paperclips, found shells, pet ashes.... the list goes on.

Early Dawn Tree Box 2

Early Dawn Tree Box 3

I took chunks of tree limbs, cut off the bottom, slice into the edges of the rest of the chunk to create a cavity, then glue all those pieces back together.  Then take a slice off of the top of the piece from the inside to glue onto the bottom of the glass for the lid. Then, of course, make the reverse glass painting to fit the box.  Once glued together, the box is heavily sanded and has a coat of satin varnish to protect the wood.

Remember Me Tree Box

Remember Me Tree Box 3

So far I have only done some of my tree designs, but I could see all kinds of animals and even pet portraits for pet urns.  They are all around 4" in diameter and varying heights from 2-1/2" to 5".

Willow Tree Box

Willow Tree Box 3

Love them!!


Shoreline

This latest piece, titled "Shoreline" is an example of technique and material coming together to create a unique art piece. 

I am getting ready for a booth space I will have at the Monterey Bay Birding Festival this coming week and wanted to make a bunch of bird pieces and especially some shore birds.   While rifling through my extensive pile of wood pieces, I realized I have some great driftwood pieces - perfect for shore birds.

Also, do you remember the double sided hanging birds I made a month or so ago? And the totem I made just last month?  Well, they brought together two techniques that melded together to create this shore bird piece.

I cut two exact outlines of the shape of this Black Necked Stilt.  The beak is quite thin and was quite a challenge to cut.  Next I painted the details of the bird in my 4 part process, firing it after each painting stage as I do all of my reverse paintings.   But on the final firing I inserted a small piece of fiber paper a short way under the bottom of the bird to become the hole where the metal rod would be inserted.  Both sides of the bird are glued together and the rod is glued in the void space to create a "bird on a rod". 

The wood was sanded and varnished and came out a lovely, rich, dark brown - which I adore.  A hole the size of the metal rod is drilled about half way straight down into the wood.  I then glued some well worn pebbles and  a couple of shells that we picked up years ago during a vacation to Catalina Island in a meandering path along the top of the wood.  The rod with the bird is inserted into the hole of the wood and Voila! "Shoreline" is born.

Loving this piece!!

Shoreline

"Shoreline"  Overall 18" x 4" x 10"

Shoreline 4


Broken Wing

Okay, so I finished the long task of adding the colored paint to all of the pieces of the totem last night. Added the frit and got them into the kiln just before heading to bed. 

I was so happy to be on schedule for getting the whole piece finished and to the show this weekend.

Until I dropped one of the wing pieces.

  IMG_1383

I have not dropped a single one of my reverse painted pieces and had it break.  Ever. Of course I have broken plenty of glass in my time, but this one killed me.  It hit another piece of glass in my lower shelf storage on it's way down which is probably the reason it broke instead of just bouncing off of my rubber floor mat.  Bummer.

I wanted to cry.  But Mark was quite reasonable and just said - "well, just re-paint it and we can get this done".  He was right.  Firing just this one small piece by itself I have been able to rush it through 3 firings today.  

And while the kiln was running Mark helped me work on the wood base portion.  He had gotten it sanded for me yesterday so today he varnished it and we fashioned an awesome base to stabilize it and I added wire wrapping with beads to tie the whole thing together.

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You can see the all of the smaller pieces in the background cut and ready for sand and prep.

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Close up of the wire and bead portion of the base.

These pictures are a little washed out, but this wood is stunning in person and I can't wait to see the glass all finished on it.  

Here is a little sneak peak of the glass pieces before the final firing which will happen tonight if I am lucky, but probably tomorrow morning.

IMG_1382


Totem Pole

Regarding Totem Poles:

I have been mulling over ideas for glass totem poles for at least 2 or 3 years.  

I created the idea of the glass animal and pet totems that I custom make from a customer's photographs.  

I would love to see a full size mountain animal totem pole erected in my town and maybe some day I can get a grant or funding for a public art installation of one.

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So, when one of the logs we carried home recently had a couple of sections that were of decent size in diameter and pretty darn straight I decided to take advantage. Keeping in mind that I wanted to be able to carry this piece easily to shows.

We cut a length about 32" then cut a flat face for most of the length on one side to apply the glass to.  I mulled over some ideas of what should be on my totem pole and looked at images online every evening.  I had originally imagined it with wild animals similar to what I have done in a smaller scale in the past.  But the faces I found online really took me to the crux of what I wanted - raw, bold colors and shapes.


IMG_1355

Inspiration

I sketched out some faces and an eagle body.  Then I cut the glass to fit the shape of the wood.   Many traditional totem poles have an eagle or "thunderbird" on top. In this vein, I drew out an eagle head and wings.  The glass will be applied in segments with the head and wings added on in a unique way.  You will see as this progresses how it all comes together.  

Working on a flat surface as opposed to the artists and craftsmen that carve into the wood was more of a challenge than you might think.  It's hard to get the feeling of depth and shadow on a flat surface.  I am hoping the shading stage of my painting gets that feeling across.

For now, here is a taste of one of the segments in the making--


IMG_1381

I should be finished with this totem in time to have it at my booth at the Art on the Lake show in Big Bear this coming weekend.  I will post more progress and finished pics here, but if you are nearby please come and let me know what you think.  Maybe this piece will speak to you or I can make another one that suits you.  


Sophie and More

You remember that I had a booth at an art and craft show in Alpine, CA several weeks ago?  Well, a woman saw my sign and sample for custom pet totems and ordered one of her little dog, Sophie.  I could tell right away that Sophie was very special to them.  They had a small photo album with just pictures of Sophie in it.

DSC_0026"Sophie"

They were also describing their backyard and we discussed ways for them to display her portrait. After some debate and deciding, they went with a tile portrait mounted on metal with a chain so that they can hang her outside on their stone wall, but still be able to move it around as they please if necessary.

I have also been busy making more pieces to show at art faires this summer.  I finished several last week that I had available at the Art & Wine in the Pines show in Crestline on Saturday.  And I am working on more for a show that I am doing called Art on Millionaire's Row in Altadena.

Blondie 3"Blondie"

There is an artists' reception on Friday night from 6 to 9 where you can meet all of the artists and purchase some art.  If you are around this weekend, please stop by and say hi.  The actual show is from 10am to 6pm on Saturday in the Library parking lot.  The weather should be perfect for it!

Majestic 1"Majestic"

 


Pets

Pets are such wonderful beings.  They can be fun, playful, sweet, rambunctious, soulful, calming and so much more.  And we are so lucky to be a part of their lives.

I have had several requests for custom pet totem orders lateley. I completed 3 of them just recently as Christmas gift orders. 

JJ Meyer totem with photo

Meyer - photo and totemIsn't this just a sweet picture??

 

Olendorf - photo and totem copyThe customer supplied the wood for this piece.  He is going to oil it to finish it up.

My own pets are keeping warm and safe and seem to be happy.  I hope you and your families (including pets - dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, etc) are all enjoying the holiday season!

 


In Memorium

Richard "Dick" Chapman
9-3-39 to 7-6-05 

Pet Totem 008

My very first reverse glass painting of a person.  This is my husband's father who passed away 6 years ago today.  My husband requested a memorial plaque with his favorite picture of his dad from his years in the British military.  This is the tester piece and I am quite happy with it overall.  Only the beer came out gray instead of gold, but I know how to fix that for the final piece.

Rest in Peace, Dad.

Dad tattoo


My Furry Friends

Well, I completed the totem of my little fur-balls to be used for my display for custom pet totems. Lacey, Bonnie, Clyde and Vinnie - all forever live on this totem.  The glass is about 3" x 12" and is mounted on a wood block. 

Pet Totem 001

I think 4 would be the maximum number of animals I would do on a wood block piece.  The wood must be taller than the glass and I need to allow 3" in height for each animal.  This wood came out approximately 15" tall.  

Pet Totem 003
Pet Totem 004

I am still working on the web page for the custom pet totems and the display for them.  I have been busy making pieces for the upcoming holiday weekend shows.  I will certainly let you all know when I've gotten this all done.

Pet Totem 005
Pet Totem 006
Pet Totem 002