Stampbord Drawings

July 29, 2011

I recently bought a package of Ampersand Stampbord tiles.  It contains about 50 assorted tiles in four sizes:  1 x 1 inch, 2 x 2 inches, 1 x 2 inches, and 1.25 x 2.5 inches.  (Stampbord is also available in a business card size, which I may try next time).  As the name suggests, stampbord is sold primarily as a surface for decorative rubber stamp projects, including mixed media collage.  The smaller sizes can even be drilled and made into jewelry.  Although not marketed as a drawing surface, stampbord is nearly identical to Ampersand’s Claybord Smooth, a multimedia artboard that I use for most of my ink drawings.  The only difference is that the stampbord surface is less consistent than claybord.  The stampbord has slight variations from piece to piece in the thickness and hardness of the white clay layer, and many pieces have tiny chips, dings, or discolorations.  None of this would matter for crafts like rubber stamping, or even for pencil drawing or painting.  It is probably only an issue for scratchboard, and even then it’s minor and easy to work around.

These tiles are perfect for tiny drawings and for experimenting with new techniques, media or subjects.  Obviously they are well adapted to any project that calls for multiple drawings.  (Creating a Tarot deck causes a permanent rewiring of the brain, causing some artists to become permanently addicted to working in a series – it’s hard for them to make just one of anything.)

Here are Midnight Louie (left) and Lin (right) as ancient Chinese tomb guardians.  The cats were drawn from photos, and you can see how different they were – ML had a big head, heavy body, and unusually short legs, while Lin was small, wiry, and muscular.  The Chinese tomb guardians, sometimes called “earth spirits”, were clay figures that were supposed to protect the soul of the deceased.  They come in pairs, and often have elaborate wings, horns, hooves, etc.  One is usually stout and seated, with a man’s face with large pointed ears and a single twisted horn, and the other is thinner and more active looking with a feline or canine face with a pair of horns.  A few months ago, I took a photo of Lin with half-closed eyes that reminded me of one of these figures, so it seemed like a natural memorial for him.  These are 2.5 x 1.25 inch tiles.

Tomb Guardians

Tomb Guardians

Here are the smaller 1 x 2 inch boards with feathers from a male Arizona quail (also called Montezuma quail), drawn life size.

Arizona Quail Feathers

Arizona Quail Feathers

Here’s the larger rectangle again, with three similar species of Usnea lichen.  All three are shrubby grayish-green species that grow on twigs and have abundant cuplike apothecia (spore-bearing structures).  These are drawn about twice life size.

LEFT:  Usnea strigosa, Outer Banks, North Carolina.  Apothecia are pinkish on top and have scattered fibrils on the underside.

CENTER:  Usnea intermedia (U. arizonica), southern Arizona.  Apothecia are green on top and have rare elongate fibrils on the underside.

RIGHT:  Usnea cirrosa, southern Arizona.  Apothecia are green on top and have abundant bristly fibrils on the underside.

Usnea Lichen Apothecia

Usnea Lichen Apothecia

I’m still working with the 1 and 2 inch sqares tiles, and plan to try some mixed drawing/painting/metal projects with those.

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Pink and Iron Necklace

July 28, 2011

I’ve had these beads for awhile, intending them for several different projects, but they work very well together.  I’ve always liked the pink/black color combination, especially when one of them is metallic.  Today the idea of a simple necklace of earthy, comforting, and familiar materials was very appealing.  It made an easy, peaceful project for the waning moon.  This Pink Earth choker is made from antique African forged iron heishi beads, Mexican terracotta beads with a shiny pale pink glaze, two pieces of sterling silver tubing that I cut, filed, and polished, and a pink agate bead that I carved last year from a pebble that I found in the Empire Mountains.  The purplish-pink color in the agate comes from tiny flecks of dark red hematite scattered through translucent chalcedony.  This is the same type of inclusion that forms “strawberry quartz” but it is rare in agate (hematite in agate is usually finer grained and brighter red).  The clasp is 14-gauge sterling silver wire.

Pink Earth Necklace

Pink Earth Necklace

 

Amethyst Ring Set

Amethyst Ring Set

Mined and Refined:  Amethyst is a set of two rings that can be worn together or separately.  The larger one is made from a piece of iron pipe that was hot-forged to the proper size, then drilled, carved, and polished.  The silver bezel cup is riveted to the iron ring.  It is set with a very pale natural amethyst crystal from a small “Keokuk-type” geode that I collected on the North Rolling Fork River in central Kentucky many years ago.  I’ve seen hundreds of these geodes but only one with amethyst crystals and a couple with smoky quartz.  Most sedimentary geodes of this type have colorless or white quartz crystals.

The companion ring is hammered sterling silver 14-gauge wire, set with a 6mm faceted light purple smoky amethyst.  The point on the underside of the stone had a small but noticeable chip (this is a common flaw in round faceted stones, and is why “brilliant cut” diamonds have a culet, which is a tiny facet that blunts the point).  I polished a tiny dome on the point.  It removed the chip and gives the stone a visual “hole” in the center, like the pupil in an eye, which looks unusual and adds a bit of interest.  Although this is considered a low quality stone (high-grade amethysts are darker and more intense purple), I thought its subtle moody color made it a perfect match for the pale, slightly milky crystal in the iron ring.

These are small rings (size 5) that I made to fit my pinkie.  Both stones have sentimental value for me but are not worth much by traditional gem-grading standards.   One reason that I don’t make more rings is that I do not feel (at least in my own work) that the end result justifies the amount of time involved.  The iron ring in particular was a lot more work than it looks.  But it was an interesting project and should be fun to wear.

Iron Ring with Amethyst Crystal in Silver

Iron Ring with Amethyst Crystal in Silver