Polymer Epiphany!

Having given up my knit wire fine art jewelry over a decade ago, for the last few years, somewhat unconsciously, I’d been longing for a new primary material to work with. Stringing someone else’s beads can be fun, but it gets old after a while! Yet, at this stage in my life, beginning anew? I couldn’t imagine what medium that would be.

Then, Labor Day Weekend 2013, in Portland, I happened into the Museum of Contemporary Craft. It was like coming home. I felt so welcome, so embraced. As I looked at the work in the museum store, it seemed these artists were my people, doing what made me feel complete!

I was about to leave and happened on a display case with several pieces of  jewelry by Cynthia Toops. And BINGO! It was instantaneous! An epiphany! Polymer clay! Here was a material that could offer me endless creative possibilities through my later years.

Into fall of 2013 I busied myself becoming acquainted with the feel of working polymer, learning new techniques, seeking top workshop teachers and online tutorials. In February I went to the east coast to study with top polymer artist, Jeffery Lloyd Dever and others.

Recent months have found me working long hours in my new studio to develop a body of work. But the greatest challenge is and will continue be to find my own unique voice in a field of many well developed, creative artists in this young fine art jewelry medium.

The May 2014 purchase of my jewelry by the Marin Open Studios organization for a gift of gratitude to a major donor is a welcome, early affirmation of my direction.

Design Inspiration for a Special Wedding Bracelet

Having found my online shop while planning her wedding, Ghazal and I communicated off and on for a few months regarding which earrings she would get for her wedding in Tulum, Mexico. She ended up ordering two pairs. This one and also this one, not being sure exactly which she would want for that special day.

We also had much conversation over how best to send them from the US to Canada. When they arrived, I got this lovely note from her . . .

“I’ve received them! They look just great, thanks! I love the earrings I ordered first. My fiance likes the 2nd look. I guess I’ll have to see what they look like on the day. I will definitly send you a photo.” You can see which pair she wore at the bottom of this post.

Then Ghazal added, “Was just wondering, is there any way you could make a bracelet that would match?” Well, that got my design juices going that very night. By the next day, after several iterations, this is what emerged. And you can see it and another view here in my online shop.

And here is Ghazal, radiant on her wedding day in Tulum, Mexico!

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Jewelry Photography with an iPhone!

www.annbrooks.net-silver Tibetan Butterfly pendant on shell mala necklace

 

 

For several years I’ve used my Canon 40D on a tripod to photograph my jewelry. Recently I’ve been getting lazy and sometimes use the camera in my pocket, my iPhone 4s! Here’s my latest necklace and the photos which I’ve used in my online shops.

Have to confess I’m thrilled with the way this necklace turned out. Loved the design challenge of how to show this gorgeous Tibetan Butterfly pendant off to it’s best. Actually, before I was out of the gem show where I found the pendant, I knew I had to find a shell mala with beads to harmonize with the beautiful old shell cabochon at the center of the butterfly.

Turns out that shell malas are getting a bit rare but I did find one. Unfortunately the one  I found had been stained and covered with a very shinny clear coat. I wanted natural shell – which happily got solved by putting the beads in a tumbler with sand for a few hours.

You can see the necklace description and all the photos I used for it at my online Zibbet shop here.

Further confessions. I still think the jewelry photos I’ve taken with the Canon 40D are better but, hey the Apple 4S works! Take a look around my Zibbet shop and see what you think – the Tibetan Butterfly has the only photographs I did with the iPhone.

For another comparison, on my website, www.annbrooks.net, all photos were taken with the 40D or one of the Canon Digital Rebel series.

Dia de los Muertos altar exhibition at Art Works Downtown

The art center, Art Works Downtown is such a stimulating place to have a studio, especially one right down the hall from the gallery – you can see the “Ann Brooks” shingle just above my door on the right.

The communal altar above was created by students at San Rafael High School. Detail is below, left.

 This selection of Day of the Dead altars is from both groups, as in the case of the San Rafael High students and individual artists or general public who wish to honor departed friends and family members.

Several of the altars honor the people of San Rafael of the past as well as early settlers like Don Timeteo Murphy.

The exhibition was juried by Sharon Christovich, Folk Art Gallery owner, and Carol Durham, Art Works Downtown studio artist.

Above and right, an altar which invites the public to write their own wishes, prayers for people dear to them – see the detail below on the left.

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The altar directly below by Petrina W. was given the Jurors’ Award. In it she pays homage to so many friends and relatives she has lost. She writes about them with such elegance that one ends up breathless over the losses she has suffered, yet wonders at her open, friendly personality!

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To the left, Patrick Gavin Duffy has created an altar honoring one of San Rafael’s earliest founders, Don Timeteo Murphy, the legendary six foot, 300 pount, red-headed Irishman who was granted the “Rancho de las Gallinas” and most of the former mission lands by the Mexican Governor. This altar references items from the Rancho period when this western edge of the ‘world’ system was Spanish, not American.

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Fine Arts Department student at College of Marin, Novato. Isabel Hayes’ altar “Home is Where We Rest Our Bones” is a memorial dedicated to the people of San Rafael, then and now. Isabel calls San Rafael her home.

Friday, November 11th Art Walk will be the closing reception for this very stimulating show.

All photos by Ann’s iPhone 4s with post production in Photoshop.

 

Above: detail from “Home is where we rest our bones” by Isabel Hayes. 

At De Young Museum’s 2011 Ethnic Textile Bazaar with jewelry

Ann Brooks with Jeanmarie Nutt at De Young Museum's 2011 Ethnic Textile Bazaar

Ann Brooks and Jeanmarie Nutt (seated left) at the De Young Museum’s 2011 Ethnic Textile Bazaar in San Francisco.

Sunday, for the second year, I participated in the De Young Museum’s Ethnic Textile Bazaar, selling my ethnically inspired jewelry from my World Peace Collection.

Book and fiber artist Jeanmarie Nutt was, again, a great assistant. In the spirit of the day, we both wore Guatemalan hupiles we had purchased in Oaxaca. Mine is an “eagle” style from the village of Chichicastenango with it’s sunburst around the neckline.

Some of my most popular items at  the Bazaar were my Tibetan Buddhist mala earrings, and red vulcanite (vinyl) bracelets from Africa, one with turquoise, Baltic amber and Tibetan mala beads, and another new design, red with black and “silver” Fulani tribe prayer beads from Africa.

You can see more of my jewelry at www.annbrooks.net or in my online zibbet shop.

Creating jewelry to deal with grief

In the early 1990s a dear friend of the family’s passed away. He had been in college with my parents and had known me since I was born. When Bob died at a ripe old age, I was disconsolate!

I had recently given up weaving and, continuing to honor my love of the fiber arts, had just begun creating whimsical brooches, hand knitting hardware store wire!

In the middle of my grief, it occurred to me that it might be eased if I made a brooch to honor my grief and love for Bob.

So “Bob’s Gone Fishing” came into being with his blue eyes and big heart, the rancher in coveralls who loved fishing.

My creativity had eased my grief then and over time it had been forgotten. Yet finding this old photo inspired writing this post and in the doing, more than fifteen years later, I find my grief is not gone. Like picking a forgotten scab, it can still bleed.

. . . a reminder that bleeding and healing are part of life and loving.

[ Please click here to see the archive of my knit wire jewelry. ]

photo: Kate Cameron

1950s North African market influences my jewelry today

The North African souq which was to influence my travels, my photography and my jewelry for years to come. Taken with a Kodak Baby Brownie.

I was a very impressionable teenager in the 1950s, when I first set eyes on a North African souq.

My grandmother and I had been traveling independently in Europe, from Ireland and Scotland, south through England, France and Spain. It was not all that long after World War II and Europe, itself seemed very “different” to this American teenager.

But I was in no way prepared for what I would see across the Straights of Gibraltar in Morocco, in Tangiers. The French were still present there and it was not unusual to see a European woman pushing a stroller on the same sidewalk with an Arab woman, covered from head to toe, with a toddler in hand. And Coca-Cola signs in both French and Arabic — on the same sign! The snake charmer! I found it all quite amazing.

But it was the sight of the the Arabs gathered in a souq, that North African market, that sunk deeply into my psyche. That view would influence where I chose to travel in future decades and even the jewelry I make today, a half century later!

It was my first view of how other people in the world lived that seemed in no way connected to the life I had known growing up in California. It stirred my my curiosity, my passion. I knew I wanted to see, learn more about other people, far away lands.

But then, time out to marry, raise a family and I was pretty tied down for two decades. I did manage to take my own children to Europe in 1973.

The yearning did not go away. Mexico was near and satisfied some of that need. Finally, in 1989 I saw India for the first time, but it was not till 2005 that I was able to return to India and made contacts with a Muslim family in Rajasthan that I would end up doing a photo documentary about their teenage daughter the following year.

That North African souq had a major influence on my current jewelry World Peace Collection ” . . . Creating a vision . . . beads from the world’s cultures and religions coming together in harmony.”

Here’s our next Ornament Magazine ad!

Jewelry of Barbara Cromer, Sharon MacLeod and Ann Brooks in Ornament Magazine

Gotta love teamwork!

Once again three of us, jewelers who met while participating in the forum of an online site where we all had shops, coordinated our efforts to come up with new work that would harmonize well in another, our third Ornament Magazine ad.

The new issue of Ornament will be out in early March. We look forward to seeing where our ad will be placed among the ads of many  jewelers we find very inspirational.

Also in this beautiful magazine will be new features showcaseing some of the top jewelers and other wearable art artists from around the world. The current issue has a feature about North African jewelry.

Additionally, we’ll be checking out reviews of exhibitions in top museums and galleries in the US and Europe.

You can see more of Barbara’s jewelry here, and Sharon’s here. The two necklaces of mine are part of my World Peace Collection and you can view them here and here.

Silver Ruffles earrings in AWD “Small Works” show

My Silver Ruffles earrings are one of many works of art featured in the current Art Works Downtown exhibition, running  November 18, 2010 – January 7, 2011. There, you’ll find lots of art for giving during this holiday season …

… and more in my Art Works Downtown studio or at my online shop.

Preview of World Peace Collection

World Peace Collection: Creating a vision … beads from the world’s cultures and religions coming together in harmony.

Below is a preview of some of the jewelry in this series. It will be available in my studio, and on Sunday, November 14th at the Ethnic Textile Bazaar in San Francisco, sponsored by the deYoung Museum’s Textile Arts Council.

See more of this jewelry here.

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