Edie Allen – Alphabet Animals

Edie Allen – Alphabet Animals

What you’re saying

  • This wonderful quilt brightens my day! Chris P.
    W. Concord, MA
Liz Hyde shows us how she puts her leafy designs on her bowls and platters.

I’ve been making my Alphabet Animals name signs for over 20 years. The concept has always been the same: each animal has something that illustrates a letter in a name. The animals have evolved, along with the tools and materials that I use to create them.

Liz Hyde shows us how she puts her leafy designs on her bowls and platters.

This is one of my earliest name signs.  Mice were the only animals that I made. I cut out everything by hand, including their eyes. One of my mother’s friends said it had the perfect CQ (Cuteness Quotient). I appreciated the compliment but knew that there was room for improvement.

Customers offered many suggestions. Could I do other animals? Use other colors? Make something besides apples for the A’s and nightgowns for the N’s in a name like Anna? Could I make the names easier to read?  The answer to all these questions was YES!

What you’re saying

  • We love the variety of handmade crafts. Leslie T.
Liz Hyde shows us how she puts her leafy designs on her bowls and platters.

Old books of wallpaper samples provided a treasure trove of material for the animals’ clothing. When wallpaper lost its popularity, I purchased scrapbook paper. When it was hard to find bright stripes in primary colors and other patterns that customers requested, I designed my own with markers (an unforgiving medium).

I acquired many craft punches: circles, stars, leaves, anchors and tiny little cars. To make the letters, I bought an Ellison die-cut machine.  I ordered custom dies, based on my drawings of my animals. This spared me a lot of repetitive work, such as cutting out mouse’s tails.

Then one of my tools broke: a hand-held punch with cassettes of little letters and numbers. Nobody made them anymore and I really needed numbers to illustrate the letter N. It turned out to be a lucky break because it pushed me to buy a Silhouette cutting machine, which could do a lot more than just cutting out numbers.

By scanning my drawings, it let me make patterns of all my animals, vary their sizes and increase their CQ in many ways. Now my elephants could raise their trunks! I could cut out objects like the guitar, the oar, the valentine, the Earth and the recycling bin with a degree of precision that was impossible before. I could print Milo’s name on an envelope and make a tiny stamp for it. When a customer requested blues, greens and purples for Vera, I could download a splash pattern from the Silhouette store and create designer clothing for the rabbits. It has helped me raise my own CQ (Creativity Quotient).

The name signs are not just for babies. Over the years I’ve done signs for a 92-year old grandmother who collected mice, a hamster, a pet rabbit and a dog named Lilly. My reward is knowing that I may be creating a work of art that a family will always cherish.

Click here to learn more about Edie.
Click here to order a name sign.
Vist Edie’s website, Alphabet Animals.com

Nancy Rich Photography – Art Afloat

Nancy Rich Photography – Art Afloat

What you’re saying

  • This wonderful quilt brightens my day! Chris P.
    W. Concord, MA
Photographer Nancy Rich

My passion for photography took hold over 50 years ago while on a second-grade field trip to the Bronx Zoo. At that young age, I was fortunate to own a Brownie camera and have easy access to developing film at my father’s drug store. While most aspects of my life at that time were out of my control, I found it powerful and magical to be able to create a record of my life’s special moments.

Photograph of wooden boat by Nancy Rich

My interest in small boats began in the summer of 2000 when I was taking a photography class at the Maine Photographic Workshops in Rockport. I attended classes there for three summers focusing my efforts on capturing images of the small boats that dotted the waters in and around Rockport. Wooden boats intrigued me most. I saw in each a distinct and beautiful character revealed through the scars, peeling paint, and worn surfaces.

Photograph of wooden boat by Nancy Rich

Sadly, small wooden boats are now difficult to find, in large part because they are expensive to build, buy, and maintain, and their constant exposure to salt water and sun eventually breaks them down.

Photograph of dinghies by Nancy Rich

Once ubiquitous along the northeast coastline, small wooden boats are being replaced by boats made of durable and significantly less-expensive materials, such as aluminum, rubber, plastic, and fiberglass. To help preserve their memory, I sought the dinghies, prams, and tenders that serve as both pleasure boats and workboats ferrying lobstermen and women to and from their larger craft moored offshore.

Photograph of small wooden boat by Nancy Rich

In the fall of 2009, I was very fortunate when Sheridan House published Afloat on the Tide, a 208-page book of my wooden boat photographs. It serves as a historic record of these special boats. The magic and power of photography endure.

Photograph of seaweed by Nancy Rich

With wooden boats becoming more and more elusive and Afloat on the Tide in print, I became excited about photographing other subjects. I made a transition to shooting the beautiful and eye-catching shells and plant life that I had collected during my years walking along the shoreline.

photograph of oyster shells by Nancy Rich

This change in subject led to a focus away from landscape-type photography to a fascination with macro photography, taking images up close to the subject, at times 1-2 inches from it. I titled this new collection “Glass and Ice Capades.”  It includes photographs of objects floating or frozen in liquid or ice.

photograph of rose petals by Nancy Rich

Now that I have retired from my professional life as an educator and administrator, I have time to devote to sharing my love of wooden boats and my photography. The Clever Hand has given me a steady platform for showing my work, and I enjoy speaking before community groups. I was recently honored to have a solo exhibit, titled “Afloat,” in the Class of 1925 Gallery at my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Nancy Rich at University of Wisconsin Class of 1925 Gallery

Liz Hyde: Impressions of Nature in Pottery

Liz Hyde: Impressions of Nature in Pottery

What you’re saying

  • This wonderful quilt brightens my day! Chris P.
    W. Concord, MA
Liz Hyde shows us how she puts her leafy designs on her bowls and platters.

I have always been entranced by the living world around me, the play of light through leaves, the glow of colors in a bed of flowers, and the feel and smell of earth between my fingers.

My childhood in the Far East fostered a sense of animism, where everything in the natural world possesses a life force, an energy, creating a tension that constantly shifts into different energies as light changes, rain falls, or evening sets.

A walk in Liz Hyde's garden is an inspiration for her pottery/

I have tried to convey this force in my pottery by creating a tension between the lyrical flow of plants and glazes, and the geometric designs of the bare clay. I want them to work off each other, yet compliment each other.To add to this, the pottery has to have meaning, to be functional, to be instilled with its own life force.

Close up of platter by Liz Hyde showing pine needles

Bowls or platters are thrown on a potter’s wheel from dark stoneware. I feel the stoneware best reflects the earth from which all plants grow. To illuminate the canvas for the plants, a coating of porcelain slip (a watered-down clay) is applied to the center of the piece.

bowl by Liz Hyde before any leaves are added

Plants are arranged and pressed into the clay, and then removed, leaving a clear impression of the plant behind.

bowls by Liz Hyde showing how pine needle impressions are put in the clay

An intricate design is then pressed into the rim of the bowl or platter with a specialized tool. The design needs to have movement, taking the eye from the center of the piece to the outside rim.

bowl by Liz Hyde show pine needles impressed in clay

After trimming, the piece is bisque fired and ready to be glazed. The plant impressions are painted with diluted layers of underglaze, the colors flowing throughout the veins and adhering to the walls of the impression, bringing life to the leaves.

Colors for Liz Hydes leaf bowls

A single coat of celadon glaze over the center of the piece, leaving the edges raw, finishes the process.

The piece is now ready for the final glaze firing, mimicking the heat and metamorphosis going on deep within the earth.

Ceramic bowl by Liz Hyde with impressed pine needles and tooled edges

Late May update – With spring here, I’m making my first fern bowls of the year.

 

Liz Hyde fern bowl

Links to the Past by Ruth Treitman

Links to the Past by Ruth Treitman

Jeweler Ruth Treitman in her studio in Wellesley, MA

Here I am working on one of my “signature” loop-in-loop silver chains. The technique is at least 5000 years old. It’s a way of joining links without soldering them together. Try making a chain of elastic bands to get the idea.  Gold, silver and bronze chains made this way have been found in burial sites in Middle East and Europe. The gold chain below is from ancient Yemen. (Photo courtesy of the British Museum.)

Gold chain from ancient Yemen. Photo courtesy of the British Museum.

I first tried the technique while taking a jewelry making class at an adult education center.  The teacher recommended a book, Classical Loop-in-Loop Chains, by Jean Reist Stark and Josephine Reist Smith.  Jean is a jeweler who has accompanied archeologists excavating tombs in southern Greece to analyze the techniques of the Bronze Age artisans. She wrote the book with her sister, a biology professor. I took a one week course from her in Lenox about 15 years ago, where I learned many derivatives of the basic chain.

Examples of Ruth Treitman's silver chain bracelets

I often feel a connection with the craftsmen who made these chains so many centuries ago.  They worked with tools of stone, wood and iron. The techniques I use today are not that different. I can control heat better with my torch, but it’s still basically heating and pounding, heating and pounding.  

Ruth Treitman creates a link of silver chain

In designing my jewelry, I enjoy combining the ancient techniques of chain making with pieces made from modern materials. I sometimes work with a very new material, Precious Metal Clay (PMC) which originated in Japan in the 1900s. Metals such as silver, gold, bronze and copper are granulates in an organic binder, giving it a clay-like property. Like clay, it can be shaped in molds or pressed into intricately patterned objects like leaves. When PMC is fired in a kiln at high temperature, the binder disappears, leaving pure metal behind.

I invite everyone to join me on Tuesday, February 16 at 6:30 when I talk about my work at the Hills Branch of the Wellesley Public Library as part of their Artists Perspective Series. The Library is located at 210 Washington Street, Wellesley, MA.

Snatches of Memory by Nan Burke

Snatches of Memory by Nan Burke

What you’re saying

  • This wonderful quilt brightens my day! Chris P.
    W. Concord, MA
Nan Burke at work on glass landscapes

When I think of favorite places, I have snatches of memory to choose from: a sunset at a beach, several trees up on a ridge with a tinge of fall color, a mountain stream. As an artist, I abstract key elements, recreating and reinterpreting them in glass.

Details of two glass landscapes

When viewers see my landscapes, they invariably speak of how it reminds them of their own special memories of vacation spots, backyards, or a beloved getaway.  The landscapes have a sense of place, but the exact place depends on the viewer. With memory comes mood.  I aim for my work to be both serene and uplifting.  My trees in the falling snow are not firmly rooted; rather they “dance” in the moonlight.

I have choices of how I might depict my subject.  Do I want to construct a piece that depicts an actual place that is identifiable by those who know it?  Or do I want to abstract it so that more people relate to its composition? Generally, I go for the more abstract, minimalist approach to landscapes.

In an earlier career I studied human cognition and perception.  I learned that how people see and remember things is not at all photographic, but is actually very conceptual.  Objects are recognized by a few distinctive features or spatial relationships. These I abstract.

 


With my torch, I pull out strings of glass to ripple or bend as I like, and set them down on the base glass as trees, waves, or the crest of a hill.  I use crushed glass called frit for leaves, and larger grades of crushed glass as rocks and even stone walls. For the sun or moon, I use dichroic glass that shifts in color depending on how the light hits it.  For hills, I prefer a green “swoosh” with an upward bend, beckoning the viewer to climb up and join the trees there in memory.