Friday, July 3, 2015

We're All Ears :: July Inspiration

When I was attending the UW-Madison campus in the late 80s-early 90s the most popular class to take was African 210: The African Storyteller. This class was taught by the dynamic and engaging Professor Harold Scheub. He was well known on campus and over his 40+ years there he taught the African Storyteller class to over 22,000+ students!

I remember coming into the lecture hall for the first time. It was jam-packed, one of the largest on campus in Bascom Hall. I am sure it was a fire hazard as every seat was taken, and people were standing or sitting in the aisles. He would pass around these clipboards that had lists of the class names and you would be required to sign in that you were there. Attendance was mandatory. And you better not be a minute late. That was never tolerated.

Prof. Scheub was a masterful storyteller, although he would say otherwise. I believe that his time spent with these skilled tale-tellers taught him a thing or two! He artfully mixes ancient tales with modern literature, giving us a glimpse of this faraway land through words. Armed with a clunky tape recorder, Scheub lived among the people for 10 years in Southern Africa and logged four of those years walking the tip of the continent and logged over 6,000 miles. He could speak many languages, including the clicks and clacks of the Xhosa tongue along with Swahili, and Yoruba. He collected over 10,000 examples of this rich oral tradition, including some epic tales that would go on for days.

If you are interested, here is a little video of Prof. Scheub as I remember him telling one of his favorite tales, The Tale of the Beautiful Partridge.

Quite by accident, I stumbled on the primitive folk art quilts of the Siddi people. Coincidentally, an exhibit of these quilts was mounted by a professor of art at UW-Madison named Henry John Drewal called Soulful Stitching.

The Siddi peoples of Karnataka (a South Western part of India) are descendants of early African immigrants and slaves brought to India by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. They escaped slavery and moved to the Karnataka area to form their own independent African diaspora community.

They have maintained their African customs and identity while also adopting and adapting many aspects of Indian cultures. The patchwork quilts, known as kawandi, have a uniquely African vibe to them. You can spot them hanging on the lines to dry and draped over walls, each with a highly individualistic look that gives it sort of a fingerprint of the maker as well as special touches for the one who has been gifted this quilt. Often these quilts are given to children, hanging in their suspended cradles, to comfort them during the monsoon season.

The textiles mix together a well-worn array of discarded clothing fabrics in vibrant colors, and I think that each one really tells a story. While each quilter has a distinct style, they all seem to share the same opinions as to quality, beauty and the need to "finish properly" the corners. They use triangular patches called phulas or flowers, to add that little bit of flair to the edges. Crosses or crescents are sometimes incorporated into their designs for women who are Catholic or Muslim. Baby quilts in particular are often bejeweled with lots of small, colorful patches called tikeli. The back of the quilts are discarded sari silks.

Per Prof. Drewal, Siddi quilt making can be either a solitary or communal event, with a large one taking up to 4 months to complete.. "The quilters start at one of the corners of the sari and work their way around it, usually in a counterclockwise direction," he says. "They fix patches made from the family's old clothing to the sari with a running back stitch that eventually covers the entire quilt, both patchwork top and sari bottom. Some quilters create small, close-spaced stitches, others spread them further apart. The stitches exhibit a distinctive rhythm that is part of the individual quilter's visual signature."

Prof. Drewal has set up the Siddi Women's Quilting Cooperative to sell the quilts as an income generating project. He also takes the 32 quilts to display them in galleries around the country. Wouldn't it be amazing to own a piece like this filled with light and love and history?

Our inspiration for July are these folk art patchwork quilts from the African diaspora Siddi peoples. I think that they look like visual stories played out in bright colors and special fabrics.

Show us your interpretation of this primitive African art and storytelling.

To participate in the We're All Ears creative challenge:

Make earrings inspired by this inspiration.
Write a post on your blog.
Add your exact blog post URL link to the
InLinkz code right here on 
Friday, July 17th.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happy Accidents

Sometimes I could beat myself round the head. You know when you do something very stupid and vow to learn from it? Well, some time ago, I came up with this idea for a pendant/charm that I wanted to make - a calla lily sort-of-a-thing, like these:

I spent several hours figuring out how to form them, then making a batch of about eight. I was mid-bead-making-marathon, so rather than move the new things that I'd spent all that time making out of the way, I put them in a little tray and shifted them to one side of my table. You can guess happened. Some hours later I caught the tray somehow and sent all my hard work tumbling to the floor. Where it smashed into pieces. Excellent. 'What a fool', I thought, amongst other thoughts, 'I won't do that again!'

Recently I started making these cone caps. 

I've since made them in a number of wares, but these, and the first ones I made, were made from porcelain. I'm not sure what I was thinking as porcelain is far more of a fiddle.  Anyway, I made a tray of them and.... 

I really was furious with myself. But when I picked them up I found that only two had broken - and they were a matching pair.  And, with a very gentle bit of hit-it-and-hope, I manage to get the breaks on the two cones to mirror each other.

My sneaky wee inner-goth couldn't resist colouring the interiors red, and giving the outsides a black satin finish. Given what I used to colour them, I expected the black to be totally matt, but I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the kiln to find that the vitrification of the porcelain had turned the surface to something like vinyl, or even leather. This is one of the things that makes me love porcelain in particular. While it can be unforgiving to work with, when it is fired it transforms itself into such a beautiful material, and in doing so it can ultimately be the most forgiving of wares. 

I'm sorely tempted to keep these earrings as I'm unlikely ever to replicate this happy accident. For now they're listed here on Etsy. As for knocking trays of greenware off my desk, I have no doubt I'll be doing that for a good while to come.

Bye for now, Claire

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Healthy Dose of Inner Peace and Sunshine

In an (ongoing) effort to combat my "jeweler's ass", I bought a bike last week. Because let's admit it, sitting for extended periods of time at my jeweler's bench isn't the best form of exercise. 

As a kid, we practically grew up outside---sloshing through creeks, trekking through woods, catching butterflies in fields---exploring, experiencing, growing. A big part of this involved riding our bikes. At a time when we were still too young to drive cars and unable to own horses, having a bike was a great alternative. You could just hop on and pedal away---leaving your worries behind, if only temporarily---powered by just YOU and your sense of direction. It's an empowering thing, when you think about it. 

Flash forward 15 or so years. My parents had recently been cleaning out their garage and doling out childhood items back to my brother and I. It had been years since I had ridden a bike - this was going to be great! The initial excitement about having my old Huffy soon faded when I realized the tires were both flat, the gears rusted, and the brakes dried out and cracked. Old friend, you gave me much happiness, but that chapter has ended. 

So I stewed. And stewed. And then decided to get a new bike.  Not a cheap Walmart bike, but a real grown-up bike that will last me for years. It's sleek, efficient, and just what I need to explore trails. 

I knew that I had missed biking, but I didn't realize HOW much I had missed it until I hit that first downhill coast. You know that feeling you get at the top of a roller coaster when you crest and know that you're about to head down? That delicious anticipation and excitement? And then you're speeding downhill and the wind is whipping your hair and the scenery is blurring past and you're grinning like the biggest idiot alive. THAT. I've missed that.

So instead of slaving away at the stinky claustrophobic gym like a robot this past week, I've been enjoying a healthy dose of inner peace and sunshine. Hell, I even have a little bit of a tan on my lily-white arms. Now this changes everything...

These earrings feature two incredible slabs of chrysocolla stone---the marriage of warm sandy brown to the deep teal veins struck me immediately. I like to let stones like this speak for themselves, so I very simply capped them off using silver solder, oxidized, and left it at that. Long, slender, and serene.

Wising you much peace and much sunshine this week!

LoveRoot on Etsy

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tide Pools Earrings by Cindy's Art & Soul

Tide Pools. The recent inspiration for the Earrings Everyday We're All Ears monthly challenge hosted by our talented Erin Paris-Hintz.

I happened to come across this photo the other day. Honestly I am amazed at it still. I managed to focus on the sea anemone through the water at a perfect angle to capture them so clearly.
Tide Pools, WA State Beach
I am constantly inspired by anything nautical, beach, sea creatures, watery. The colors are just fantastic! 

I heard (or read?) someone say once that Nature never lies.
When looking for color combinations you can always look to nature.
Find what colors She's put together - and be inspired!
Tide Pools, WA State
I took this photo (I can't believe it's been) almost three years ago. We took a road trip along the Pacific Coast Hwy 101 to see the sites and visit all the cool towns, beaches and see what we could see. It was a magnificent journey. One we both want to do again, one day. You cannot see all there is to see on this Hwy loop in one week. And it was great fun! 

One day.. I will go back. 
Sea Glass Ceramic Earrings by Cindy's Art & Soul
Sea Glass Ceramic Earrings by Cindy's Art & Soul
 These earrings feature natural found sea glass, handmade copper rings, vintage bronze wire, and handmade ceramic beads with seashell patterns. Available at Art & Soul Jewelry.

 (Art & Soul Jewelry is closed for vacation until 7/6. Shipping will resume 7/7 upon my return. Hope you all have a save and wonderful July 4th Holiday!)

Monday, June 29, 2015


I used to design with Thai Hilltribe silver quite a bit 10 or 15 years ago.
I was bringing kilos of it back from my travels to Chiang Mai Thailand 
I sold loads of the loose beads and earrings until the price of silver went sky high.
There was a noticeable shift in both my work and of the designers I had been associating with.
In came the copper and the mixed metals which I welcomed heartily.

Recently I have kind of been missing designing with my Thai silver so I dug out a couple of these intricately woven wafers and paired them with some dangles I made with The Blue Bottle Tree's wonderful Rustic Polymer clay tutorial. If you've never worked with polymer clay I totally recommend her tutorial. These charms were from my first experience ever using polymer clay.
They are light, long and swingy and certainly unique. 

Enjoy your week!
Kimberly Rogers

Friday, June 26, 2015

Birds In The Garden Earrings

I spent Monday with my good friend and Earrings Everyday head honcho, Kristi Bowman-Gruel.  She lives about 2 hours north of me.  I brought up my clay and we had a play date together.  As you can tell, it was a very serious endeavor.
Kristi, hard at work.
Of course whenever I am with Kristi, I have to pick up a bunch of her components!
Mine, all mine!  Squeee!

As soon as I returned home, I was inspired to make these.
 They feature Kristi's copper flower components, handmade ear wires and some cute little birdie beads.  I call them "Birds in the Garden" earrings.
Spending time in your garden is good for your heart and soul.  Perhaps wearing these earrings would have a similar effect.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


 I'm always experimenting with bits and scraps of metal strewn around on my worktable.
I had some extra heavy duty scraps left over from the edges of my copper sheeting. I had scavenged some scraps from a local roofing company. I wanted to see if I could wrap wire for some extra texture  before torch fire enameling and these globby lovelies were born.
The funny thing was that they were practically sold before I had them made into earrings.
One of my lovely local frequent customers claimed them and said she would be ready with money in hand at our next farmer's market.

That left it to me as to what extra would be required for the design.
I went with the simple is best idea after a few pairings with spacer beads.
Faerystones's tangles seem to be just the right accent!

I'm not sure how the next ones will turn out but these were a clear success for me

Thanks and Happy Solstice!
Kimberly Rogers