Thursday, May 19, 2011

Exploring new territory? Anyone?

When I started this blog almost a year ago I envisioned using it to explore. One hope was that it would be a good place for me to experiment with ways to create art in new mediums and for new purposes, outside the realm of children's publishing. You may have noticed there have been no new posts here for a long time. That's because I've been exploring.

A wonderful friend of mine recently built a house. This friend has 4 sweet daughters. The oldest one still living at home is 13. Her name is Anastasia. In the new house Anastasia's closet door is quite interesting. It's meant to look like an armoire so the frame is built out a few inches from the wall and topped with a carved molding. My friend asked if I would paint this "armoire" for her daughter. The only request from Anastasia was to include the Eiffel Tower somewhere in the design. She had recently visited Paris you see.

My first sketches were small. Meant to give my clients a look at my basic design, as well as a choice of color plans. After all that was decided I did the larger sketch you see here. It's done to scale, about 1/3 the size of the door with much more detail.

During this early design process we had all decided that the outer frame of the door and most of the frame or molding would be done in a faux wood treatment. Martha Stewart acrylic house paint was my choice for the entire project. MS paints come in many great colors and I could buy small 8 oz. jars of every color I needed for just $2.50 each at Home Depot! Perfect.

Next I spent some time in Anastasia's room with the Martha Stewart color sample sheet. I needed two colors for the "wood". A lighter color for the background, a darker one for the grain, and I wanted them to be in the same color family as the real wood in the space. Then I found MS colors to match and/or compliment Anastasia's chosen wall color and the colors in the bedding she would be using. Home Depot also sells a MS faux finish kit with lots of tools and detailed instructions. I bought 14 colors of paint and two, 2' x 2' pieces of drywall to practice on. After a little trial and error using one of the MS brushes and an ancient chunk of natural sponge, this is the wood finish I came up with.

The door was then moved to my studio where we laid it out horizontally on some boxes at about table height. After completing the areas with the "wood" finish, I covered all those areas with tape and painted the thin salmon border and the light celadon green border in each section. (FYI, a lot of painter's tape is involved in a project like this!!) I could now stand the door up vertically and begin transferring my drawings to the door. My methods are so lo tech.

The vertical position was better to see if my proportions and scale were working and adjust if necessary. Then my husband and I carefully laid the door back down on the boxes so I could continue painting. With the door in this position I found I could sit in my rolling desk chair and scoot around the whole thing to paint. Very comfortable.

Here are two close shots of finished areas.

When the front and sides of the door were finished we took it back to the house where it would live. There I spent most of the next 2 weeks painting the frame and carved molding. When the door was hung I came back to paint the inside of the door and clean up a few dribbles on the surrounding wall. Here is the finished armoire!

Everyone at Anastasia's house is happy with the finished product, and I am too! Painting to illustrate books for children is still my first love. I hope to do more of that. In the meantime, painting for children OR adults on furniture or walls is another way I can earn a living with my art. And I enjoy it very much. There is a lot I need to learn but I'm excited about this new direction.

My next commission is already in! Waiting patiently in my studio is a lovely old rocking chair on which my client would like to see a sleeping calico cat painted on the seat and a favorite family quotation across the back! More on that as I go along. Thanks for checking in! All comments and suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The best calendar ever!

Today I want to tell you about a very special calendar my talented husband Pat Haverfield has photographed and art directed for the past 5 years, titled Hunger and Thirst. Pat donates all the photography each year. Central Market underwrites the project and sells the calendars in their stores, and ALL the proceeds benefit The North Texas Food Bank. So far sales of the calendar have paid for more than 300,000 meals for the hungry.

This year Pat was thrilled to work with renowned chef Kent Rathbun on this worthwhile project. Kent donated 13 fabulous recipes and prepared each one for Pat to photograph. Kent's incredible recipes are included inside. Each one is printed on a handy perforated card, just the right size to tear out and keep in your files. Even if you don't live in north Texas and can't get to a Central Market you too can purchase a calendar, or 10! They make great gifts. Just go to the North Texas Food Bank's website, right here.

Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Friend Eve

The holidays are almost here! For your enjoyment and some great gift ideas, I would like to introduce you to a very talented friend of mine. Eve used to work here in the neighborhood for Reveal Productions where she helped produce TV commercials. She began taking classes and learning the art of jewelry making in her spare time. Over the last year Eve developed a small business of her own, designing and making jewelry, and selling it online.
Things were going well and she soon decided to follow her heart,
devoting herself to making jewelry full time.


My first blog interview!
Presenting a cozy chat with metalsmith and jewelery artist extraordinaire,
Eve Allison-Maynard.

MH: When did you did you fall in love with making jewelry?

EAM: I don’t remember a particular moment, it’s just always been a calling. When I was young, probably around the age of 7, I was completely obsessed with Native American Indian culture. My mom would take me to MJ Designs and let me buy seed beads in all colors. She surprised me one day with a mini bead-weaving loom that allowed me to weave wide beaded necklaces and bracelets. I would sell my wares on our neighborhood street corner, no lemonade stand for me! In addition, I have always been attracted to the organic nature of things and have always collected small pieces of rocks and rusted metal I find on the ground. I never realized that I wanted to incorporate all these organic things until the idea to learn the art of Silversmithing hit me one day out of nowhere! By that evening I was enrolled in the Dallas Craft Guild’s Beginning Silversmithing class.

MH: Do you find a stone you like and design to the stone? Or do you create a design and then search for a stone to best complement that design? Which comes first?

EAM: Honestly? A lot of both! I’m inspired by everything around me, the way a leaf sits where it’s fallen from the tree, ancient beliefs and rituals, shapes and colors I see when I squint my eyes and blur my vision…there really is no special equation for how I work. I carry a sketchbook wherever I go. Sometimes I awake from a dream and get up to sketch out an idea before it slips from my mind in the morning light. Sometimes when I’m at an impasse and searching for a direction I’ll pull out several cabochons that I’m particularly moved by. I then arrange them on a page in my sketchbook and sketch designs around them, to see where the stone leads me.

MH: Have you taken classes, if so where? Have you apprenticed with other jewelry makers? Are you largely self-taught?

EAM: I took about a year of weekly classes on-and-off from the Dallas Craft Guild, where I learned the basics of Silversmithing. During this time I pinched pennies so I could purchase the bare essential tools needed to build a basic studio at home. My wonderful husband built an incredible workbench that is super sturdy. I love him for all the hard work he put into it! Many of the techniques that I currently use I have figured out on my own, by studying books and experimenting. Of course there were (are) many failures and tears, but once I’ve mastered something new a great feeling of accomplishment overrides all that misery. I figured out etching and electroplating by myself and both techniques are used in a new line of work I’ll be releasing in the next few months. I’m currently experimenting with resins to capture delicate organic objects, and will move on to torch firing enamels next year. I’m still such a novice and have so much to learn, but I have discovered that this process of finding my niche/personal style is so satisfying. Every new technique I learn moves me forward on that path, and I believe that I will search for it the rest of my life!

MH: Have you found to be an effective way to sell and promote your work? Do you also participate in craft shows? Jewelry shows?

EAM: I found when I was just a few months into my classes at the Craft Guild. I believe it to be effective in many ways! I am eternally grateful for such a place to jump start my business! I’m just now fully understanding what my particular “branding” is, and soon plan to create my own website, in addition to keeping my Etsy store. Etsy can be extremely effective. You do have to be willing to spend a lot of time constantly listing new items, networking, mastering the art of ‘tags’, and updating your photos for maximum appeal. There are thousands of talented people that make jewelry, and it can be difficult to find ways to be seen and stand out. Still, Etsy has been good to me and is a wonderful site if you take a little time to master it. Most of my work has been custom commissions from people who have found me on Etsy! In addition, I have participated in a few small craft shows, and I find them to be a good way to hand out cards and introduce people to my work. Even if they don’t purchase something during the show, they can visit my online store for a later purchase. One of my goals for the next year or two is to work on expanding my jewelry lines, and to be accepted into some of the more serious fine art shows that happen all over the country.

MH: Tell us about “EtsyMetal Teams Monthly Challenge”.

EAM: Oh! These are so much fun ;o) I’m part of a very talented group of Metalsmithing Jewelers that all sell on Etsy. We have our own separate forums and interact as a group to share knowledge, trade jewelry in the annual ‘Secret Santa’ and ‘Charm Swap’, as well as have fun with daily, weekly, and monthly challenges. We inspire and support each other, and these Challenges get our creative juices going. In one of the recent monthly challenges the idea was to create a piece that was inspired by ancient jewelry. You can see what I came up with here. ;o)

The team also has a blog where they post photos of the work for each and every challenge. There are so many! Your readers can check them out here!

MH: I enjoy the stories that accompany each of your pieces. Does the story come first? Or does the story come to you while you are making the piece?

EAM: A story generally comes to me as I’m working on a piece. I typically start with a shape in mind, a theme, or at least a general concept. The story grows and takes shape throughout the creation of the piece. My customers also enjoy the stories behind my pieces, they help to give each one a true character and I think people can relate to that.

MH: Do you take all the photos of your work?

EAM: I do, and this has been a struggle. I’m still learning so much in this area. I actually took a darkroom photography class in college and that has helped, but every day is a new challenge. To make each photo stand out and quickly catch a customer’s eye I like to create a simple scene around each piece. I’m always searching for interesting books, rocks, or textures that I can incorporate into my photos. Throughout this process, I’ve learned a lot about Photoshop! With PS I can adjust colors and lighting so that each shot is the best that it can be. Then each photo must be manipulated to fit within the proper template to upload to Etsy. In the end, I want every aspect of every picture on my site working together to convey my style and complement my jewelry designs.

MH: Do you have any shows or special events coming up that we can tell everyone about?

EAM: I wish I did but currently I’m in a creative mode, forming cohesive lines for my work. In the search for my own style, I’m learning that it helps me to create a body of work around a general concept or design. When that idea wears itself out, I can move on to the next one. My mind is constantly filled with dreams and ideas of pieces I want to create. The hard part is editing it all down, and my current goal is finding the proper direction so that my work isn’t all over the place. Once I’ve shaped my own vision a bit more I plan to enter some of those larger shows we talked about earlier.

Thank you for your interest in my work. Please keep an eye on my blog. I regularly post new work as well as events I’m participating in.