New Ways in the West

I love the vivid colors and fun effects that are obtainable with alcohol inks on metal. For my first art experiments in my new home state of Wyoming, I got all my inks and my embossing powders out for several days of summertime fun! I’ve wanted to see how the inks and powders held up to cutting and filing for some time, but life in Colorado and then moving kept nudging project days to the side. But here in my new studio spaces (I have several now–indoor, outdoor, and a shed, all  with power and lights!!) I’m finding it much easier to get some art time.

My experiments started with cutting up some 30 gauge aluminum and getting it cleaned up and ready for the inks. After having lots of fun with color, all the pieces were carefully heated to help further set the inks permanently, and then sprayed with two coats of polyurethane.

After that, I cut up the pieces, making  2″x4″ rectangle pieces for my embossing experiments, and 4″x4″ squares, and a larger piece that will get played with later and cut up to make decorative parts for boxes, mobiles, and jewelry. Some for now, some for another time! I want to do some that incorporate other elements too, like metal leaf.

In the course of our recent move, I got to see all my art supplies, and now they are out where I can see them all the time, motivating me to actually use them. While accumulating tools and supplies is a lot of fun itself, I’ve pared down to the ones I want to use, and it is very satisfying to use them. I love seeing how the different things go together.

Once I have the prepared metal pieces, I like to cut them up further and make things like jewelry components or inserts for decorative boxes. For jewelry use, I use a large metal shear to cut straight across, disc cutters to make circles, and metal shears to cut more complex shapes. In order to easily duplicate shapes, I made myself some laser cut templates of shapes that I like. I used a Open Source program called Inkscape to create my shapes and then used them with the laser cutter at Tinkermill, the makerspace in Longmont Colorado. Makerspaces are great hubs of creativity, and I hope to see more of them established.

Here are the templates I cut, with all sorts of shapes, flowers, leaves, and more. I use them in metal, paper and textile work a lot. The set on the right is particularly useful for making earring pairs and pendants or pins. Now I have a lot of different pieces and can try a variety of different things. I love the freedom to experiment and play with colors and textures. Sometimes I go too far, but I always learn things that inform more pleasing work later.

I cut out shapes and then smooth the edges with a habilis 00 file, some sanding, and then I can pierce holes with the Euro Tool punch, glue pieces to leather or other backings, or embed the pieces in polymer clay to be cured. (Pieces with embossing powder cannot be heat cured–embossing must be done after the baking step.)

The next step for me is to make some finished jewelry, and I’ll be doing that this week; from where I am sitting now I can see just the right beads to make these all up. Check back soon to see how they look when finished, and please do view the results of my ink and embossing experiments as well as other work.

Font Fun

Hawaiian quilt pattern with polymer clayI’m a happy font-fiend right now, because I found a wonderful  (and FREE!) program called The Font Thing at Downloads.com to manage my fonts for me. This is not an insignifigant task–I recently removed close to 800 fonts because they were making my computer a wee bit slow to load on some programs…and yet, I still have 785 fonts left. Almost half of them are dingbats. That’s a “pictorial glyph” for those who arent already familiar with them. Dingbats are used to pretty up the page by printers, and web designers. But what I like to do best with dingbats is to take them into Photoshop and use them to create graphics in black and white which I then send off to Ready Stamps in California to have made into custom unmounted rubber stamps and also molds (the matrix tray) for use with polymer clay. For more information about that, click here.

dingbat characters
With The Font Thing, I can easily view each character in every font, scale it up or down in size to view, and group the fonts into catagories. It can call up all the available information about the font and its designer! I can put all my dingbat fonts into a folder and inactivate them until I need to use them. That means I can go back and get all the ones that I recently deleted, or shop around the various font sites for those that are freeware or shareware. The black and white graphics seen above are from a font called “Schluss-Vignetten” and it was designed by Dieter Steffmann. Those are the letters/dings for e, f and g. The Hawaiian Quilt graphic was created using a dingbat called “Hawaiian Quilts 1,2 and3” overlaid onto a graphic made with polymer clay tiles, using Photoshop again.

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