Wednesday, July 22, 2009

bamboo thingy is done

This pendant is proof that you can begin a gemstone earring project. Fail. Redesign the pieces of the project into earrings without a stone. Fail. Redesign the pieces of the project into a larger and heavier pendant. Fail. Try again adding back the stone, and finally succeed.

Just goes to show that without any know-how, no game plan, no ability to learn from your mistakes, and no vision for the future, you can actually accomplish something.

The general design is an attempt to make something that looks halfway between an Oriental sketch, and a real stand of bamboo.

Most pieces I start these days are part of a larger set of designs; that or tests for more complex pieces. This piece is the exception, and stemmed from a comment from my wife, "We really need more cool earrings." That and an attempt to copy some earlier two-dimensional nature pendants made in the past.

The project did not turn into earrings.

I tried.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


So I have finally completed the visual manifestations of Dr. Bard's otherworld.

The floating jellyfish earrings from Dr Bard's first real adventure are made with top and bottom cast silver sections, and a center 8mm black onyx round. They had to be earrings, since they would lose their floaty-ness as a necklace. In actuality, it is just a beaded earring, with top and bottom bead caps. The most elaborate beaded earrings on the planet, but that's what they are, just the same.

Most of the items I am finishing now are less complex tests for larger projects planned for the future. I may be making some cast metal beads and bead cap in the future, and these caps answered a couple of questions concerning the metal casting part.

The tentacles are tests to convert the vinelike texture used on the back of spooky window to a more animal-like look. I am really pleased with the wispy, organic look. This will be used on a couple of 'alien-infected' pendants in the future, including the revised mindworm pendant, and an infected egg which is the most technically challenging design I have ever come up with. The egg has possibly our best accompanying sci-fi pendant story to date also - mum's the word.

The garnet door started as a small project to complete a casting run. I wanted to remake a door pendant that I had made a decade ago when I was doing art shows. The nice thing about casting is that you can spend an elaborate amount of time on a piece, and spread the initial cost over more than one casting. This time I wanted to use a faceted stone instead of a rounded cabochon - it seemed more fitting.

The piece was turning out so well felt it needed a story. The door became a portal for an arcane technology that opens time and space: the result was that I then had a catalyst for infinite story lines. Thus Dr. Bard was born. I tacked his name onto a story snippet I wrote for the veggiescape pendant I had designed earlier; which fit nicely, as it was made as a Jules-Verne-esque piece. The floating jellyfish were designed from his first adventure. Who knows what work Dr Bards adventures will inspire in the future, if I can get him out of Nowhere

Sunday, July 19, 2009

a journey into Dr. Bard's mind

part two of Dr Bards infamous trip to nowhere

(Although not a requirement that the reader begin in any particular place when reading about Dr Bard's adventures, it may be helpful before reading this story to start with part one of Dr Bard's infamous trip to nowhere.)


Day 43

It has been forty three days since the garnet door's madness infected my soul; since I became stranded in Nowhere. This is based on the assumption that my care-givers are telling me the truth regarding the correct date. - That I am sane enough to process their speech correctly. - That they really do exist. - And that I still exist.

Across the room from my hospital bed, slowly pouring in from a barred window, dim light from an overcast sky confirms the time of year; a dreary, late fall day. The window, complete with it's own rusty restraints, has been placed too high on the wall for offering any pleasure other than watching the sky change from gloomy to pathetic. Sounds from the English countryside carry through the thin pane of the window; the start of branches at the latest surge of winter's approach; small creature's muted prayers for an early spring. The asylum is sufficiently removed from London's noise so as not to disturb my fellow comrades, sectioned in their own rooms, battling their own psychic demons.

Dr Purdue has allowed the loosening of my arm restraints between episodes, so that I can attempt writing in my journal. He is convinced that a madness lies within my own psyche. He seems unaffected by stories of 'magical doors' in tropical forests. I am convinced the door's trickery has captured my soul.

[Dr Bard does not notice that the door of his hospital room has opened slightly. Opened just enough for the snakelike creature to wedge it's way through, slithering on the floor, moving towards the foot of Dr Bard's bed. Through the opening in the door one can see that the hospital hallway no longer exists, in it's place, the Pool-Room.]

to be continued...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

a mad chemist's dissection of the elements

This is the second work in a series of darker themed pieces that I will be concentrating on for a bit. The first completed piece drew loosely from the works of E. A. Poe. A future piece, in the designing phase, is based on Kafka's 'Metamorphosis'.

The inspiration for this piece comes mostly from the various 'noir' movements in film, including stop motion animation. I attempted to make the piece work on more than one scale. The feature photo was shot so that at first glance the pendant could be the size of a large animal cage sitting in the middle of a rain soaked road. This piece continues with experimenting with natural decay as a primary element of design. The idea is to present somewhat ordinary items well along on the continuum of what they were, to what they are becoming. There is a conscience effort to not have any given element overpower the overall 'mundane feel' of the completed project. I wrote in detail about that process here. The piece can appear dismal to some. Hopeless. It was not designed as a nihilistic statement, but rather a tangible manifestation of an emotion that we can hold in our hand. The sound of blues music that you can feel between the fingers.

I have quite a few sketches of addition pieces with the same influence and 'feel', but I have got some major tech/mechanical issues to solve. Once I overcome the technical issues, I plan to add some mixed media elements into this style. This is one of the primary directions we plan to take with our future work.

Friday, July 17, 2009

where we are going

"Leaning back against the soft stem of the mushroom, I could observe the pearl plant in it's entirety. Atop it's wide base sat a pale peach pearl-like structure measuring nearly three meters in diameter."
- from The Adventures of Dr. Bard


The pendant shown above is an attempt to create an item with multiple 'scales' made in a way that no single element immediately draws the viewer's eye. This is usually not the objective with wearable art, nor with jewelry in general. In most cases the entire point of an item is to showcase a geometric shape, or a single element, such as a cut gemstone, in the most appealing way possible.

The idea was derived from the way nature presents itself to the observer. For example, a decaying log on a damp forest floor. Viewing the log from a distance, most of what is going on within, and on the log, is not instantly registered by the observer. At first, there is just a natural 'completeness' in what we observe. Examining the shape of the log, you can usually ascertain what the log looked like before it began to decay, and can imagine it in a larger setting, or scale, as part of a tree - the tree part of a forest. Looking closer at the log, you will notice moss and fungus growing at one or more scales. Looking even closer, there may be an entire village of insects housing in, and feeding off of one single piece of fungus. Another scaled reality. Backing away from the log, each of the scales and elements disappear to create a single 'whole' again. Backing further away, the log disappears into an even larger whole.

I have always been amazed at how early sci-fi writers could create mystical worlds by altering the scale of natural elements- Giant ants. Micro-worlds in the center of our own. Giant squishy creatures running amok 10,000 leagues under the sea.

How to represent these concepts in a piece of jewelry. Furthermore, would it be wearable? Not to mention marketable. OK, do your best to make it wearable, and hang the whole 'marketable' thing.

I began with a cross-sectioned slice of a nutshell. Butternut, I believe. The shell would be the 'base' scale of the piece. I then made a mini-environment within the shell, each component complete in itself, but being careful to avoid any single element taking center stage. I added vines on a different scale than the interior components. The vines do not obey the confines of the interior space, as the elements of decay on a log do not follow the rules of a log still alive. The vines pour out of the interior, travel at will around the exterior, and are used as the bail that holds the piece to a necklace. I then added shelf fungus to the outside at yet another scale.

All the while the piece began to take on a Jules-Verne-esque quality. I then created a snippet of a fictional story where the interior elements of the piece would tower over the character in the story. The reader must then shift their perspective- Instead of thinking of the piece as a tiny item being held and observed in the palm of one's hand, one now thinks of the piece as an unnaturally large landscape. A landscape where the discoverer in the story struggles to find footing and handholds on the giant, gooey outer shelf fungus, eventually climbing into an alien world. A world where the discoverer must adjust to a new scale of reality. A world where the discoverer becomes the oddity among what he perceives as giants.

Many future works will draw heavily on the lessons learned from this study. Instead of attempting to showcase any given element - be it the shape, design, stone or surface texture, the focus will be on integrating the elements until the overall volume of the piece is only a whisper - a subtle study of the mundane.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


When these newly frozen charms depart, do they carry a residual fear of the greater expanse? - an image of the point where their soul was reshaped?

Do they clutch fearfully on the arm or neck as days and busy streets, and nights and lights hurl past? - when looming buildings, distorted by perspective, point to even greater heights and distances?

Do they blush in crowded rooms? - unsure and terrified of hidden meanings, or lost phrases in too many voices?

Is there some reprieve in their frozen state? - a passive, dreamlike trance, shifting from scene to scene?

Do they find solace? - a private space where their thoughts can warm, and weave molten tales?