30 January 2011

Looking At The Week

This photo was taken Wednesday afternoon. 
The sky was amazing - blazing colors with 
alto cumulus clouds heralding the approach of a frontal system

I have been finding that having my little gem of a pocket camera ( Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7) with me at all times has greatly boosted the number of photographs I take in a day. I keep the camera in my purse and can easily pull over on the road and snap a shot. I love my Nikons - both SLR and DSLR- but they they were more cumbersome to tote along all the time. I've started taking a picture of tree that's outside my office window several times a week. It's going to be a year long exploration. It's a willow tree - and they are special to me anyway.
 Thursday morning a fog bank had settled in over the island.
The fog was thickest mid island where the valleys dip in and 
the fog sprites opened their cloaks to cover the land
This is a tree that stands by a lake on my route to and from town.
It's where all of the cormorants hang out.
When the sun is out they spread their wings and preen
 The willow tree that's outside of my office window. 
My corvid friends like to hang out in the branches looking 
over the landscape in search of a tasty morsel- even in the cold and fog.
Yesterday we had a Textile Guild meeting on one of my favorite island - Shaw. 
The ferry docks were cluttered with sea birds trying to stay out of the worst of the weather. 
Staying out of the storm can make for odd dock fellows!

 I don't get to see friend Jan Renzelman too often since she lives on Orcas
but she brought this beautiful show and tell item.
It's a "Fiesta Cloth" (from Handwoven magazine) 
that she had just taken off her loom! It's cheerful colors brightened the day!
This is the wonderful Shaw Island Community Center where the meeting was held.
Shaw is a small island with only one, very small, very limited, general store. 
I always look forward to visiting

The presentation yesterday was given by Meli of Melitours. Meli conducts textile travel tours of Turkey (her homeland), Syria, Jordan, the Silk Road and Morocco. We learned a lot about the history Turkey and the history of their famous textiles. It was very informative and very well done. If I ever win the lottery I would happily embark on a Silk Road tour.....well, after I revisit Britain, Ireland and Italy that is !

I hadn't felt like going to the meeting yesterday. Weather and fatigue conspired to make it an uncomfortable day - but I am very glad that my friend, Janet, fussed at me enough that I got out of the easy chair to join her! It was well worth the journey to meet up with with old friends and enjoy meeting some new ones too. Friend Susan even provided rides - making it a much more comfortable day! Thank you friends!

24 January 2011

Stamped Metal Valentine Hearts and the book "Stamped Metal Jewelry" by Lisa Niven Kelley

 My most recent interest has been metal. I love embossing metal foil and, I suppose, stamping metal was a logical progression.  I want to learn some wire wrapping techniques (thanks to a necklace that I fell in love with on a jaunt to Roslyn, Washington last Fall). I am fighting to restrain myself from becoming enamored with jewelry making, but I wanted a book that would teach me a bit about the ins and outs of stamping metal to use in my mixed media work. I happened upon the most excellent website called Beaducation. Lisa Niven Kelly is the owner of the site and I found that she had recently published this little treasure of a book called "Stamped Metal Jewelry". You know I had to have it!

 This book is exactly what I needed. It comes completed with a nifty instructional DVD. The book covers all of the basics about tools, gauges of metal and metal wire, dapping, riveting, applying patinas, hole punching and drilling, oxidizing, annealing and polishing metals. That's just the beginning! The projects in the book follow a logical progression - an easy introduction to the basics and then moving on to more involved concepts. The book is very well illustrated with clear, concise photographs and written instruction that follows along with the photos. I dislike books that have photo instruction separated from the written instructions - making you flip back and forth to correlate the written instructions with the photographs. This book is really well done in that area. The projects are not only instructive but they are also things that you will enjoy making and wearing. The author does suggest that your first attempts at stamping be done on less expensive metals like copper before moving on to precious metal work. That is good advice because there is, most definitely, a bit of "stamping" curve to learn - since things like pressure, tilt (no!)  and hammer weight can all affect the quality of your finished impression.

This is one of those ah-ha! kind of books that would be a really good addition to the library of any artistically minded person - because who knows where this path could lead you! I love this book - and Lisa's website is one of the best I have ever been on. No matter what your artistic medium is you should do yourself a favor and check it out !

 These are just a few of the projects in the book. The pendant is among the first. Nice!
 If I wore bracelets this would be a joy. I think making it would be more fun than wearing it !
The project below is among my favorites - and is one of the techniques I want to learn.
 In the photographs below  you'll see some of my own "first impressions" - stamping that is! I made this set of Stamped Valentine Hearts for an "Inchie" swap that I am in over on Roses. Once again the dank rainy weather precluded my ability to take a photo in flat light and my laziness prevented me from dragging out my photo cube - so the lighting could be better! I am really enjoying this metallic journey. It's another one of those things that I thought I would never do - I've never been into bling and I don't wear much jewelry. Imagine my surprise and delight as I become more and more fascinated by metal work.
Stamped Meta Valentine Hearts.
Painted chipboard back, embossed metal, stamped brass heart with ink and paint

In this photo you can see the embossed copper colored aluminum metal layer that was torch grazed and painted with metal paints. The brass heart was textured with a hammer, slightly colored with metallic rub on paints and sealed with acrylic spray.
One thing I found was that holding a small piece of metal and hammering could become mutually exclusive! I found that using a small "pop-up foam square" solved the problem handily.I used one square per heart and found that having the metal stabilized like this gave me more confidence to give the metal a solid whack without fear for my fingers!
These are the 3M foam squares I used. My small bench block is becoming well used and, although I I did get a larger block, I find the smaller size well suited to small piece work. The heart in the center has a foam square underneath it. The torch grazed aluminum copper colored foil was well embossed over a sheet of alligator glass (an architectural glass that has a significant pattern of raised dots - like an alligator's skin!)

22 January 2011

Welcome to MZ Johansen & Peregrinations

As some of you know I have been considering a different blog for some time now. After realizing that I was so comfortable with Blogger at this point I didn't want to change blog platforms . Of course next thought was what to call it. I felt as if I might be somehow 'cheating' people who would come to my blog, ZQuilts, looking for all things quilty. only to find pages about paints, metal, knitting, ATC's Journal Pages or arts books. I feel that I have changed my focus a bit - not that I am leaving my beloved quilts and quilting behind by any means - but I have become so enamored in things that I wanted to incorporate. I also wanted to 'brand' my work more under my name - rather than under ZQuilts. This was the means to make that change. 

Peregrinations is the new blog title. It's an intransitive verb that means to wander from place to place.
The new blog address is:    http://mzjohansen.blogspot.com

One day as I drove home from work this week I was amazed at how the views changed every several hundred feet. Our island is only about 12 miles long - and I live at the opposite end from where I work. The photos on this page were all taken on the same day. I found the fog entrancing and could easily have watched it until it grew too dark to see!
Photograph - fog flowing over the fields
I will be working out how to change me domain name for my website as well - but, because I  don't know how to make that all work I have to figure it out. I know I need a new domain name - and the part that generally stumps me is configuring the domain name to the site. So I'll tackle first things first. You will find the same content here as always- just under MZJohansen rather than ZQuilts. I hope that you will  updating your subscription or Google Reader to continue following!

Photograph: Fog flowing over the lake and white swans
I will be restoring side bar information and gadgets next. My plan is to streamline my categories so a blog search will be easier. Things I have learned over the years that I had no clue about when ZQuilts was started. Hints, tips, tricks and ideas are always appreciated - some of you have so much more experience in this than I do!

Photograph: Fog flowing across a pond