Wednesday, February 24, 2010

ACC Show!

I just got back to Towson from the American Craft Council Show, I wish I had more time but, I had other classes I could not miss. First impression, WOW! So much to look out it was overwhelming. The time and care that went in every piece and the shear craftsmanship is something I strive for in the future.

I had some wonderful talks with some of the artists, in particular Jonathan Lee Rutledge ( and Rhonda Storm ( They both seemed generally interesting in the fact we were students and readily explained their processes and techniques.

Johnathan Lee Rutledge has some beautiful swooping hook clasps. I have seen a few of these before, but his were very elegant and well designed to match the flow of the pieces. Talking to him about his clasps, he showed me a bracelet where he had integrated the clasp mechanism in with the bracelet to the point you had to really search to find the opening. It seemed for all the world to be a continuous band.  He also talked about a technique where you take gold powered and individually lay pieces of the gold down and then affix it to the stone. It is an ancient technique and he allowed us to hold a piece with this technique on it. His had a pretty neat story of how he became a jewelry which is fun to know that he didn't plan originally to be a jeweler. It was just his calling as he said and it just felt like what he wanted to do. He really had a lovely passion for the work and for the craft.

Rhonda Storm was a fun women and well as her work. She creates these brooches with this chicken figures. They are so interactive with moving beaks and limbs. They shift as you wear them. She explained how they were affixed to each other and how the parts moved on each piece allowing me to look at a few of them in detail. They were lovely and adorable.

I also spent some time looking at the chains and how they linked to each other and how they linked to the main object of the item. A lot of them seem to be doing intricate intertwining loops. I saw quite a few that were interwoven and then rolled through a rolling mill to flatten them which morphed the designs and made them really interested. It gave me an idea to do something with a Celtic knot chain of some sort. I also saw a few that were modeled off of vines were a few strands would weave in and out of each other sometimes becoming knots sometimes being loose. It was quite interesting to see how different artists tackled the challenge of the connections. There was also a lot of rivets, more then I expected really. I guess rivets are simple and easy to do and they are also quick.

Moving on, the show had a new feature of "Green Craft" that highlighted environmentally-friendly processes and techniques. The little sustainable designer in me felt the need to talk to every single booth with this sign. The artists I talked to generally were very receptive and I had some wonderful conversations with them. They didn't seem to mind my million questions about their process, where they got the materials, their technique ect.

Three lovely green designers worth checking out are: Noelle Van Hendrick from (, Jeff Greengard ( and Michelle LaLonde (

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

AMV Making Felt!

Today was the big moment, I took all the bags of dog fur (which by the way, I have found that a 1 1/2 grocery bags of fur is about all a dog produces in a month apparently) and made my masterpiece!

So, I used the wool for the top side and used a pattern loosely based off of Native American wool saddle blankets. My Aunt is a major collector of Native American patterns and artifacts and I remember as a child going to her house for a few hours and hearing her stories. She would give me crayons and paper to draw for hours, in a way, this is a dedication to her support of me at a young age.

The underside (the top side while I was felting) has the natural dog fur. This should keep his allergies down and make it more comfortable to him. So the upper side when it is made will be the wool and the underside will be dog fur.

From there, I used dog shampoo as the soap and heated regular water for the lubricant and felted for about an hour or so ( I did not keep wonderful timing on that). It is drying now, I will trim it and go back and fix some of the thin spots either needle felting back in some of the trimmings or with fresh dog fur.

I am pretty satisfied with the look of it and I am ready to trim it, as soon as this process is complete, with organic cotton and add in the straps and leg protectors/warmers for his back legs.

Short Hair Dilemma

I am working on my felt for my AMV project and I ran into the problem that the fur was short hair and would get thin in some places. I was also concerned I would not have enough to make thick enough layers of wool. I was wondering what I could do to fix these problems and I decided I was going to mix some wool in with the dog fur. My original plan was to mix the fur all together but, I did some internet research and it appears that you can layer fur to create different effects ( I think I am going to try this technique and layer the wool on the bottom to provide an even layer and support and put the dog fur on top. When you felt they mix together, so it is not totally against the thought of making an allergen-free dog sweater and it will have more strength and support.

Monday, February 22, 2010

In the News...

I was surfing around the internet, which I do every Monday morning before Jewelry 2, and it was really a slow news week. Most of the coverage is the same old stuff from before, there is a war in Iran, the chaos in Haiti, a flood somewhere else, some peace talks and the Olympics. All of them seem to be just the regular speculation from before about what will happen and when an end to violence, destruction, and pain will come. So, I tend to avoid the typical "war coverage" news that seems to be so readily available.

Anyway, what actually caught my eye was an article about Coca-cola presenting at a food show in Florida ( Seems pretty mundane right? Well, yeah it was, but the interesting part for me was the information behind the story. Coca-cola was represented by their Latin spokesperson and talking about international sales. The article went on to state Coca-cola was ahead in profits last year because of international sales. Coca-cola has been an U.S. company for years, its very telling when they are finding more of a market outside of the U.S. then in it. Makes you wonder what is going on. Can the sakes of Coca-cola really be the true indicator of our economy? It is an interesting proposal in my mind.

Looking abroad, there news always seems more happy. In Mexico from El Pais, there was a wonderful article about music. The part that actually interested me was, the entire article was about American Actors and singers. ( This was not the first of the articles I found (in spanish) from Latin American countries about American artists and actors. This made me wonder why is there not more articles about Latin artists in the United States. It is so rare to hear of an international band in the United States (unless you are a music buff) it makes me think America really is that self-centered. I love reggaeton which is a type "urban" hip-hop in Spanish. It is hard to find new reggaeton artists in the United States (some notable ones for you all to check out that are pretty easy to find are Don Omar and Wisin y Yandel) because they get little to no air time unless they are on "spanish radio stations". I wish there were a radio station out there that would play what is popular around the world instead of the same 20 songs that are popular in the U.S. right now. The United States needs to become more international on all fronts and that is such an easy think to do.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

'10 Problems' Photos

I realized I never made it to posting this on my blog! These were the photos I took of the "problems" I have everyday.

Making Potato Starch

Basically, if you take potatoes and put them with water in a blender it will become a pulp. Next, just boil it for a while and it will begin to separate into a paste (video above). That paste hardens in about 48 hours. It dries clear with the thickness of fabric starch or Elmer's glue.

So, I did my materials samples (finally) and they took longer to dry then I expected but here is a shot of them all together.

The balls on the far right are the button hardening samples. The rounded forms are the different materials cast into tea light trays (some worked some didn't). The center is just the raw dog felt and human hair thread.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

J2.Project 1. Inspiration

"Nightmares" by Eterna2 from Deviant Art
"Painted Roses" by Autonoe from Deviant Art
"Peril of the Guardian" by Alector Fencer
"Take me the Ship of my Dreams" by Osokin on Deviant Art
image search from google
"In This Land of Dreams" from Deviant Art (artist unknown)
google search image for nightmares
"Alternate Nightmares" by Gaarathehated; Deviant Art
google search of dream catchers
google search for dreams
I realized I never really posted the images I am working with for my project. So here are some of the ideas I am thinking about for Dreams. So above is the images I want to draw from.

A Little Creative Caffeine on Natural Hardening

I was trying to figure out how to make buttons for my current little pet project in materials (pun intended sorry folks!) and I wanted to keep the buttons made out of fur. It would be easy enough to model some out of bamboo or rock but what is the fun in that? So, I google'd how to make natural "plastics" and tried some at home. I am not really finished this little experiment but it was getting late last night so this is the progress thus far.

I guess you can call this the "making of" picture of the milk-based plastic. It smelled HORRIBLE (probably because I hate the smell of vinegar). Anyway, it was very think and crumble-y and not suited for this at all. I don't even think I could mold it into shapes. I have a few possible reasons in my head it didn't work; mostly I think there was not enough milk fat in the milk I used to produce curds. I am not sure exactly how it works but, let's just say this didn't. Also, it shrunk the wool ball by half it's size! That to me is a huge waste of fur.

This was fun. I took a homemade candle that I made a few days ago and impregnated the wool ball with it. It made the ball a little larger and it was pretty hard instantly. Foreseeable problem is cracking. I was hoping that my throughly coating the entire ball with wax it would fix this problem. I have to test that later tonight.

This one was pretty successful. It is just needle felted into a ball shape. I think its pretty nice and one of my favorites of the tests. It remains soft and easy to handle and retains roughly the same size and shape as the basic "felted ball". I am concerned about it breaking down with use though.

This is my favorite of all of them. It is creamer and lemon-juice "homemade plastic" (There is a video below of the making of). The plastic started out as a nice "paste" and you could just roll and squish the wool ball into it. It was nice and squishy until it started to harden. It kinda looked like a white milkdud when I was done (weird comparison I know) but, it seems the easiest to do and has the possibility for the most success I think.

***Update*** As of 8pm the cream-based plastic is still a bit squishy.
I tried to potato-based one. Basically it creates starch. I do not have an oven or the glycerin so I got a little creative and we will see how it goes.

Here is a little video of making cream-based plastic. Its just creamer (half and half) and lemon juice.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Home-made Plastics

I am trying to find a way to "harden" my felted buttons. I found a pretty neat site on how to make some homemade plastics with stuff found around the house.

I want to try the milk and the lemon ones. I don't think I will have access to the glycerin to try to potato one but that looks really fun and with my knowledge of biochemistry, I think it would be pretty strong.

Also, there is an artist making bowls out of vegetables. He uses some sort of "proprietary drying and forming technique" to actually make bowls out of carrots and some other vegetables.

Even cooler then those, there is a race car made of vegetables that runs on chocolate byproducts! It can go up to 135 miles per hour (whoa!).

How to Needle Felt

Just a video tutorial I found for myself on how to needle felt. I am trying to needle felt some buttons for my project and then I am doing a little creative caffeine on how to harden them and make them work as a button as well as what I can do with fur in general.
I want to try using milk-based polymers to see if that is a natural hardener for the wool. I am thinking I can use it as a bonding agent and hardener for the fur and then mold it into a button shape. ( how to link)

Sunday, February 14, 2010


After about a week of snow and barely any internet (to the point I am unable to open most webpages and actually see anything) everything seems to be back up! It has been an interesting news week.

The Olympics have started and before the opening ceremony an Olympic luger died ( They seem to have been able to go on afterwards but, this is something that bothers me. A lot of people have said that sports are getting to be unsafe. I am a Cheerleading coach for younger girls (7-9 year olds) and I see that in my own sport. They installed "safety padding" to make it safer but, I think its still dangerous. Sports in general are being pushed too far and athletes are becoming younger and younger. It leads be to question what is going to happen in the future. There needs to be a point where it stops or more and more people will be killed.

Next, the incident with film director Kevin Smith. I honestly agree with Southwest's policy of charging someone two seats if they do not fit into one seat ( I mean I think it was handled badly, but if you cannot fit into one seat then you have to pay for two. It is no fair for the other person who is assigned the seat next to you if you are taking up a seat and a half. I just think that they did not handle it well when they informed him. It is not necessarily a 'flight risk' as they said to him. I just think he was wrong to take it the way he did. If he flies a lot he should know the policy. The airline should have informed him of the policy before he boarded though.