Sunday, 20 May 2012

Having Fun with Beads and Crystals - Sami Lapland Bracelets

I enjoy working with beads and crystals in my bracelets, they add another dimension and texture to the pewter wire braids.   The magpie attraction to sparkle and glitter is not strange in Sweden.  Living in darkness and cold for many months of the year anything that attracts and reflects the light is appreciated.  Crystal beads are truely magical in the way they catch the light and reflect a multitude of rainbow colors

The black bracelet is made with Swarovski crystals and silver beads.  A glamorous and sophisticated look, even in the  forest we have occasions to dress up and have fun!

This bracelet has amethyst colored crystals added.  The great thing about using crystals in jewelry is that it is an affordable way to add glitter and sparkle.  The hard thing is choosing the colors.  When I order from my supplier I want to buy every color!  I guess I am attracted to amethyst because it is my birthstone - February birthday.

 Pale ice blue and steely silver beads, very cool. very Swedish.

 The sterling silver beads in these bracelets are fun to work with.  They have a wonderful feel and heaviness, it reminds me of playing with ball-bearings when i was little.

One thing I love about my work is the input from customers. The bracelet above without beads is in my shop. A customer asked me to custom make this bracelet with silver beads with special instructions on the placing and weave.

 The result is much more interesting and lively than my original!  The customer really knows best!

This bracelet is made with pretty seed beads. I like the opaque pearl like finish to these beads.  The pale pink leather contrasts and compliments the beads nicely.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Swedish Lapland Bracelets Made With Spun Copper Wire

This braid was meant to be sewn onto black leather.  This barbie pink caught my eye.  I love the pink and copper together, an unusual and uncoventional combination.
Copper wire is fun to work with, it adds another dimension and so many artistic possibilites to this craft form.

I couldn´t resist this wonderful green enameled copper wire, so fresh and bright.  It reminds me of the pine and spruce during the winter and the age old Christmas tradition of decorating the house with evergreens.

Less is more, the single strand of gold wire in this braid gives a sophisticated and elegant look.

Turquoise and brown is a lovely combination, the tiny beads give the bracelet another texture.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Winter Landscape - Reindeer Lapland Bracelet - A Haiku

I kept this rather clumsy watercolor sketch of winter birch trees as a reference for future work using this pallete.  There is something very calming and restfull  in the contrast of the cool greys and blues (paynes grey, neutral tint) and the warmer earthy colors raw sienna, burnt sienna, sepia and burnt umber.

Winter landscapes provide a remarkable variety of color - subtle, shifting and almost elusive during the darker days.  In this dormant but nonetheless beautiful time of year there is a stillness which leads to inner contemplation and a restfullness after the hectic activity of the previous months.

 I was delighted when I ordered some white reindeer leather from my supplier.  I had expected it to be really white and brash but instead it is a natural white color with a grey/blue tinge like the reflection of the winter sky on snow.  I was reminded of an episode in one of the Clan of the Cave Bear books where Ayla tans some leather to make for her wedding dress. She bleached the leather white by soaking it in urine - nowadays I suspect the principle is the same but probably with a refined form of ammonia rather than raw urine. I had this leather for months not quite knowing what  would do with it until now,  the icy Northern winter has set in and given me inspiration for this piece of jewelry.  I combined sepia colored leather to represent the color of the bare trees on a dark blizzardy day. The pewter wire shines bright like a frosty morning.

Just as I´m writing this a snow blizzard is blowing. This haiku by the master Matsuo Basho  is in essence what I´m seeing from my studio window at this moment..

Winter solitude--
in a world of one color
    the sound of wind.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Autumn Inspired Lapland Bracelets

Whether creating a painting or a piece of jewelry, color is my main inspiration.  Living here in the forest one is alwas surrounded by the colors of nature and aware of the changing of seasons.  Nature provides us with a remarkable pallete, which like fashion changes with every season.
I love the way in Autumn when the green vegetation becomes faded and takes on more gentle softer tones  than the bold brashness of Summer.


This wonderful reindeer leather is vegetable dyed and I love using this particular green color.  The color shifts from an earthy browny green to a delightful moss green, depending on the light.  Because of this, it is hard to describe, it can be the color of pine trees or like the moss that grows so thickly on the forest floor and the highlands around me.

With these two bracelets I have added heather colored elements.  Heather is one of the last flowering plants before the hard grim winter sets in.  As I beekeeper my long Autumn walks are taken up by discovering how much heather is growing in my area.  Heather not only yields the most fabulously tasting honey but it is the last natural food for my bees before the winter´s syrup feeding.

No color represents Autumn more than this tawny tan color. Autumn leaves, faded bracken and the creatures of the forest who become more visible as the leaves disappear.  The silent forest becomes alive with the frenetic activty of the red squirrels. Foxes stealthily watch their prey knowing that they face a long winter of near starvation.  The roe deer  bravely movemore closely to human habitition enjoying  the delights of a cultivated garden. My favorite sight is the magnificent coppery foliage of the beech trees.  The leaves stubbornly hold on to the trees long into the winter so bright, cheerful and comforting on the darkest days.

Autumn is also time for the rich abundance of berries that grow so prolifically in Sweden. The forest is carpeted with jewel like lingon and blueberries.  Aromatic juniper berries are collected for a warming seasonal stew.  For me there is nothing like my own blackcurrants made into jam, cordial and frozen to make pies, cakes and even smoothies during the Winter.  These underestimated fruits are fantastic packets of vitamins and energy, perfect for revitalising a tired body on a sunless Winter day.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Making Lapland Jewelry

I started making these bracelets a few years ago. Although I love painting sometimes I need a break to refresh - artists need a hobby too.  These days the hobby has taken over and there is not so much time left over for painting projects.

The craft of pewter embroidery was developed by the Sami people who live in mostly in Northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Penninsula in Russia.  Traditionaly the Sami people live by reindeer herding, fishing and hunting.
Hundreds of years ago the Sami people travelled to Norway to trade at the markets there.  Here they bought pewter which came from Cornwall and Ireland.  The Sami developed a method of spinning the pewter into a thread which could be used to decorate clothes, jewelry and other objects such as knife sheathes.

The problem with pewter is that when the temperature reaches under 15C, the pewter crystalises forming a grey powder.  Nowadays 4% silver is added to the pewter which prevents this process.  When the wire is new the metal is a wonderful frosty white color.  With use and wearing the wire takes on a lovely silvery patina.

The pewter tread is a fine material to work with.  It lends itself to plaiting or braiding and amazing designs can be made by combining different braid patterns.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Upcylcled Chair, Decoupage Project

I bought an old school chair from a flea market on a trip to Norway. I was actually looking for a chair to paint folk art style but I also found some vintage Donald Duck and Micky Mouse comics at the same time and it seemed a good idea to make this a decoupage project instead.

The hard work was preparing the chair for decoupage, sanding by hand and filling dents with wood filler. When the surface was clean and smooth I applied 2 coats of gesso.The gesso acts as a primer and surface to glue to.  Then I set about cutting out sections from the comics. I glued the comic pieces to the chair with acrylic gloss medium (it was what I had at home at the time). Then sealed the decoupage with 3 coats of the same medium.

I left the underside undecorated to preserve the chair´s history - I love the pencil scribble mark made by some child.  This was a fun, easy and low cost project.  It´s a great way to add color and life to drab and worn furniture.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Watercolor Monoprints - Autumn Birch Leaves

The exciting thing for me when I make these prints is the tension between abtsract and realism and control and spontanaity.  My need to play with paint is satisfied at the same time the paintings have a subject or theme.  Here I have added quinacridrone magenta to my usual pallete.  The pigment explodes when dropped onto wet paper and spreads itself beautifully.