Tuesday, April 21, 2015

When Inspiration Strikes...

... you must follow her wherever She leads!

You might know that I do a little thing called Simple Truths. And I offer these Simple Truths in a Sampler Club. Over the course of the past few years of doing the Club it evolved into being about the Art Bead Scene. The purpose of the Simple Truths Sampler Club is threefold: (1) I want to push myself to come up with a new design each month; (2) I want to challenge myself to learn new-to-me techniques in polymer clay; and (3) I want use the inspiration artwork for the month to guide my creative endeavors. Basically, the members of the Club on any given month are fans of my work and must love surprises. That is not only a great honor, but a nerve-wracking proposition! I truly don't want to disappoint.

One my greatest disappointments is that I am not usually ready to go with the pieces to send to my Club members in the first week of the month. That has happened on occasion, but often I have to wait to clear my schedule to have a play date and then hope that Inspiration will come to play. Now I do get a bit of a heads up as an Editor to see what is coming... and I print off those inspiration artworks making notes about what I might do or what motifs grab my attention... and I even go about ordering supplies for things I think I might need (I am waaaayyy ahead of the game for October right about now)... I even seek out tutorials or books or online classes that might help me with my quest to learn. But that desire to learn and try new things often means that it takes me longer to fit it into my busy life than I think!

With every installment of the Simple Truths Sampler Club (participants sign up for 3-, 6-, 9- or 12- months at any time (and there is a limit of 20 in the Club at any given time - but I have never come close to filling it up), I send the piece with a full page synopsis of what I made, what inspired me about the artwork challenge, and a little bit of my process. Normally, that is reserved for my Club members, but at the risk of ruining the surprise for what is coming to them this month, I am going to share with you the letter that is on the way with the bead for the month along with some of my in process shots.

Simple Truths Sampler :: April 2015 

I have to admit that I didn't know much about Frida Kahlo before this month, just that she was a fiery Mexican artist who painted a lot of self-portraits in a hyper-realistic style. Oh, and she had those eyebrows. 

So on Saturday, I finally had a chance to sit down to devour this art. I sat with it. I put it as the background on my computer. I re-read Tari Sasser's post with the back story. I poured over every detail. Truthfully, there was so much going on in this painting that I think I was having a sensory overload! 

Layered leaves, transparent dragonflies and butterflies, the monkey, the cat about to pounce, the dead hummingbird dangling from the thorn necklace, the drops of blood, the infinity shaped knot in her hair... where to start? 

You know that I love quotes and words. So I turned to the prolific writings of Kahlo, who kept diaries throughout her short, tragic life. A few that stood out to me...

"Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly."

"I want to be inside your darkest everything."

"Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away."

"At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can."

(That last one is my favorite.)

But I still wasn't sure how to pull this all together. So I watched the 2002 movie with Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo. (It is a great film, totally transporting, evocative, tender and passionate.) What I kept coming back to was that Kahlo lived life deeply. She tasted every experience with a great hunger for more. She painted not because she needed to, but because she had to. Her body may have been broken, but her spirit soared. 

Looks like I am ready for the bonfire! ;-)
Her paintings are very raw, deeply personal and highly symbolic. That is when I remembered a tutorial that I had purchased from CraftArtEdu called Symbolic Beads by Aussie artist Debbie Crothers. I really enjoy her style and knew that these beads would be the perfect way to capture the meaning and beauty of Kahlo's style. 

Hard to see when everything is all in white. Sometimes the details won't even be clear to me until the next step!
It took me some time to get the first two beads done, as it was all just an experiment at this point. That is what I love about doing this Club, that you all trust me enough to let me be freely expressive in my miniature works of art! Part of this technique involves making a lot of molds. Thankfully, I had a lot already but it was a good excuse to make some more. I found some things that worked perfectly... a bunch of leaves, a tiny dragonfly, a hummingbird, a butterfly, and even some twigs that looks like those tangled thorns. 

Misshapen lumps of clay magically transform with antiquing. Now I can see the details! Time to hand paint each one.

I created the bead cores and then used the molds to create a multi-layered effect with the clay. Layers of patina, added color and sealed for durability. A true labor of love. Each bead is completely different and has either a hummingbird, butterfly or dragonfly on it along with leaves and flowers and twisted thorns in a soft matte finish. I think that Miss Frida would approve!

I call these beads 'Frida's Triumph', the first in a series of Symbol Beads. Click HERE for a link to purchase your own Limited Edition 'Frida's Triumph' Symbol Bead.

 Where is your INSPIRATION leading you today?


Ann Schroeder said...

Wow! These are absolutely fantastic. I appreciate all the thought and work that went into them. Beautiful!

Kristi Bowman said...

You are amazing Erin, those are just beautiful!

Staci Smith said...

They are beyond beautiful! . The depth of care and time you put into this honors Frida's own depth!!!! Thank u for sharing!

Katherine Thompson said...

I'm totally enthralled! I wake up each day thinking of what I'm going to do in regards to jewelry!

Alice said...

Oh how I loved the days that your simple truth sampler came in the mail. It was a happy day.
But now that the gallery I sold at shut down and sales are slowing down I have decided not to buy any more beads.
Thanks for sharing the process of making the beads. The finished bead is beautiful!

Divya N said...

These are wonderful, Erin. I love the beads with the poppies and the blue butterflies the most

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

Erin, these beads are stunning! You never cease to amaze me! The detail and colors, all on one bead, wow. Beautiful works of art! The members of your club are going to love these. Thank you for sharing your thought process.

Kathy Lindemer said...

I admire your attention to detail in the painting, I completely overlooked the infinity symbol in her hair as well as the butterflies and dragonflies. I love cats so I guess I was captivated by the one in the painting. I was also really focused on the colors. I feel you are right that there is a lot going on in the painting, I will take a better look next time.

Kim Stevens said...

Erin, oh Erin...you really never cease to amaze me with your creativity and talents. This bead is fabulous!!! xo

Carol Briody said...

Those little beauties are stunning. Lovely!

Karin G said...

Erin, your beads are absolutely fantastic!

Erin S said...

WOW--these are totally amazing. I also like them with just the antiquing and no color added. They remind me of carved bone.

Kristen Stevens said...

You do know you blow my mind!

Shaiha said...

Those are incredible! I am just sad that I joined the club too late to get any of these. Reading this post did give me some inspiration for this month though. Now off to find the art beads I am thinking of.

Katherine Thompson said...

What did you use for the antiqueing?