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Laura Jane Bouton
res·o·lu·tion noun \ˌre-zə-ˈlü-shən\: the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something
: an answer or solution to something
: the ability of a device to show an image clearly and with a lot of detail
It seems like a New Year Resolution is finding problems that you may have and finding a way to fix them. I would like to eat less sugar, less carbs, I would like to lose weight, I don't work hard enough, my art isn't making enough money, blah blah blah... It seems like it's the same issues every year... Well, I've come to the conclusion that my life isn't so bad... it doesn't need 'fixing!' I'm just going to do the best I can each day and enjoy it while I'm doing it!! Although I may try to show images more clearly and with a lot of detail!!
Time for the Blog Carnival! What patinas do you use? Any favorite recipes?
Any disasters? Techniques & tips?
I do a lot of torch fired enameling. I like the colors you can get with enamels, but a lot of the time I think of enamels as a patina. Not trying to get a solid even color, but a color mixed in with metal, leaving a more weathered, aged look. The benefit of using enamels in this way is that the look is relatively permanent. I don't need to seal it in any way.
BUT one of my favorite things to do is experiment. AND patinas on metal just cry out to be experimented with. You also have to give way to complete control when experimenting with patinas. For me, part of the fun is seeing what happens when you mix it all up. (Also when experimenting with patinas, it is a good idea to be sure to wear the proper protective equipment – goggles, gloves, dust or fume masks, etc.)
I like to collect patinas. That means when I'm doing other processes like etching or pickling, I can't help but notice the reactions on the metal when I leave a piece out (for a long time - I'm a little sloppy!) after etching and noticing the natural patina it has. So I gather the materials that created that look and match them up in different ways. I have an old plastic muffin tin (is it still called a tin if it's made out of plastic?) and I'll put the bits I have left over or mix up some new combos. Later I'll add water and paint them on metal.
Check out and see what other Etsy Metal Members do with patinas!
May 22 is Buy a Musical Instrument Day (according to the 'Bizarre and Unique Holidays' website!) Have you ever bought and played a musical instrument? Any funny or interesting stories about that? Is any of your metalwork musical in some form?
Ack, yes I have played musical instruments... however I am not very musical. My father was a singer, sang Come Back To Sorrento in Italian at my wedding and my brother and sister's weddings. He also played the violin well and was able to play other instruments a bit too. I remember my brother and sister (who are both older than me) taking violin lessons when they were young. They are not very musical either. I remember them practicing... sounded very much like cats being killed.
I played flutophone with the rest of my third grade class (group lessons in school.) I remember Hot Cross Buns. I was jealous that my elementary school pal, Debby, could play the piano. When I was 14, I took guitar lessons from Mr. Luscre, down the street from me. I could read music and could pick out tunes, but I think my lack of rhythm wasn't helpful. Also, the choice of music wasn't thrilling... I did play The Lonely Bull (by Herb Alpert) fairly well!
When I was in college, I took piano lessons and bought a small piano. In my head, I sounded awesome... occasionally I would record what I was playing... not so awesome.
Then some time in 1976, me and my friend Nancy decided to become rock stars. We practiced several times a week - she played guitar and we both sang. In our heads we were awesome! We had our first performance in a bar that I worked at called the Wooden Hinge. We called ourselves New York City, because we both had NYC T-shirts and thought it would look good if we were uniform. We weren't really ready to play out yet. We only knew 2 songs and we didn't know them well enough - so we needed our little tape recorder to help us along. That night I had 10 shots of ouzo and Nancy had 10 shots of Jack Daniels. We were performing 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling' (along with the help of the Righteous Brothers on our little recorder) to a full house, when we realized that they had the juke box on in the other room so I went to ask them to turn it off and Nancy kept singing, difficult song to sing harmonies by yourself... well, I'm not really sure I knew what harmonies were back then and even if I did I certainly couldn't sing them... so I guess it didn't really make any difference if I was in the room or not. Everyone thought we were pretty funny, and we could be flexible so figured we would be a comedy group instead. We performed every Wednesday night for the next year. We wrote every show and even wrote and performed some songs. We always opened with 'Heart Break Hotel.' Oddly, even though we wrote a lot of the songs we could never remember all the words so we would write them on our arms. Even more oddly, the only song where we could remember all the words was 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' by the Beatles IN GERMAN. Go figure.
This month's question is "What are your thoughts on what is considered art or craft? Does the value lie in the process, technical ability, monetary value, meaning, lack of meaning...?"
Seems like I've been talking to friends about this topic quite often lately. Actually, seems like I've been talking about this topic for years and years and years.
I think that art and craft can be tied together, well then again, maybe not...
It seems like art goes in cycles and artists start to take themselves too seriously and then someone comes along and says life is art, this urinal is art, paint dripped on a canvas is art and they get a lot of money for it... but anyone could do that, why is there such a high value on it? Does money make things more art-like?
Sometimes to do art well you have to know the craft of it well. Sometimes.
Most of my favorite artists are the ones that question what art is. Andy Warhol hands down. I just went and saw the David Hockney exhibit at the DeYoung and my favorite part of the exhibit was his iPhone and iPad drawings and his experiments with video. Vito Acconci's crazy performance art, Christo's obsession with wrapping things... Another favorite of mine is Vincent Gallo. His website is an interesting work of art as are his movies, Buffalo 66 and just watched Truth or Consequences NM last night.
The movie Tim's Vermeer brings up a lot of questions about what art is. Tim is an inventor, not an artist and documents how he used a camera obscura and mirrors and lenses to copy a Vermeer painting. It looked pretty good. Was it art? It took him almost a decade to do it... does that make it more valuable and art-like?
I think everyone just needs to find their place in what works for them and then remember that that keeps changing.
What do you think?
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March is Irish-American month, you may not be Irish, so tell us who you are. What are customs you grew up with, foods you eat, how your ethnicity may influence your work.
My father's parents owned a restaurant in downtown Youngstown called Hermes. It left us with restaurant-size pots and pans and dishes. Cooking and food were pretty important – eating, as well as for socializing, and my father cooked a lot, too. I remember coming home and my mother and father were huddled over the stove frying big slices of zucchini. I remember how bad I thought that smelled then! We had a huge backyard and my grandparents and parents had an incredible garden filled with vegetables and fruit trees.
Before I was born, my grandmother had a still in the basement and made her own ouzo, (my mom had to stand at the top of the stairs and be the lookout) and there were also big wine barrels and accessories for making their own wine.
When I was little, I remember serving guests small glasses of ouzo on a small black tray with flowers painted on it.
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Laura Jane Bouton
Our Etsy Metal blog carnival topic for this month is 'How do you celebrate the holidays? Which holidays do you celebrate? What foods do you make? (of course we have to discuss food!) What special holiday jewelry do you make?'
Well my family just celebrated Thanksgiving in a meek and mild way, mostly by cooking, watching football, relaxing, eating, and pounding a little metal.
Now that it's December, we'll be gearing up for Christmas. My husband is a guitar builder and owns a music store so he spent Black Friday putting up all his store decorations. For many years, he'd usually spend part of the day on thanksgiving putting Christmas decorations up on our house - lights and Frosty and Santa and his sleigh on the roof. Traditionally, 2 weeks later (every year) there would be high winds that would blow them all down. We don't put them up any more!
We do get a tree and decorate it as close to Christmas as we can (not because we necessarily like to do it that way, but it just ends up that way!) Sometimes it actually is on Christmas Eve, always an adventure!
For New Year's Day, I always make spanakopita (Just like my mother did) with a coin hidden in it somewhere. Whoever gets the piece with the coin is supposed to have good luck throughout the new year.
I've been thinking of making some holiday ornaments with metal and enamel for about the last 4 or 5 years. I had an actual idea for them this year and maybe I will get some done for 2014! Time goes by way too quickly!!
What businesses have you started in your lifetime? Yes, that can include a lemonade stand or dog-walking business when you were 9! Which were successful, which weren't, which were a total nightmare.
Well, all my life I have always had a 'great' idea for a business. I grew up in Ohio and I did freelance graphic art there for a few years and then learned sign painting from these 2 really old guys, very old school. It all served me well, though.
Awhile ago (now in California), I learned how to use Weebly and designed my website with it, then I made one for a friend. Seemed like it could be a good business... I invited a friend of mine to go to the Big Foot Museum with me and asked her if she wanted to start a web design business. She replied that she didn't know anything about web design and I said that I didn't either. Hence, our business started. We've actually designed quite a few websites and even teach a workshop on how to build a website using Weebly.
When the websites got a little slow, we decided to make and sell mini-pies. CA just passed a new law regarding the cottage food industry where you could bake in your own kitchen as long as it was food that didn't need to be refrigerated. We got the license, took a food handling class, and I even got my kitchen inspected! Well, pies don't make you a whole lot of money, they are a lot of work, they don't keep for very long, and I gained 10 pounds. Exit the pie business or 'pie-gate' as we refer to it.
I used to work for a family resource center and whenever we would get sick of our job we would create fantasy businesses, always with the intention to really do it.
Our first fantasy job was to become childbirth assistants. We took a 3-day workshop to get our careers started. We don't really want to talk about what we had to do there, let's just say, it didn't work out.
The next great idea was to open a fairy store. No we are not 13. We had visions of sugarplums... uh, and dressing in full fairy regalia in the store full of fairy items catering to the wee people... you know little girls and their moms. We like to make things and went off on some fairy idea, maybe it started with a pin, we really can't remember. And we were going to have one of our other disgruntled co-workers work there also. We were creating jobs!
When the fairy idea got to be too weirdly whimsical, we grew into another fantasy business. It was hard to find a good vanity, you know a desk-like thing with a mirror where you sit and do your make-up and hair. After finding exactly 2 affordable semi-antique vanities and buying them, our business became 'Vanity Fairy.' We were going to paint the vanities and still sell fairy items. We thought carrying the furniture would legitimize the fairy part. However, 1st you have to know how refinish furniture. This was hard... Too hard. We moved on.
Another of our business habits was to go to a book store and buy a craft book and bring it to work and make that our next business. One such book was on making lampshades. 'That would be a good idea, wouldn't it?' And how about using felt board cutouts to attach to the shades? Or how about just making felt board stories?!
Then the next week we realized that a good (otto)man is hard to find. And we don't mean auto. "How about making ottomans?" That seemed like a good idea. Of course we really didn't know how to make an ottoman, but we did spend a little time looking at wooden footstools, which lead us to making 'Stools for Stools' a small bench to put your feet on while you are pooping (this is anatomically a better way to poop!) However, when you have one of these little stools in your bathroom and you don't have a small child who needs a stepping stool, people start to question what it's for. So we moved on.
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Laura Jane Bouton
What are your photography secrets?! Any tips, tricks, what works best for you, what doesn't? How often do you photograph your work? Do you have an expensive set-up or a homemade one. Your best piece of advice for photographing jewelry. Show us some of your best photos.
I'm a metal smith. I make jewelry and small sculptural pieces. I'm not a photographer. But I need to take pictures of my work and it's expensive to have to keep paying someone else to do it and I'm not usually happy with the results. So out of necessity, I've had to learn to photograph my work. It's been a long process (and I'm not done yet!) I did take a couple of photography classes in college, but that was a long time ago in the days of actually putting film in your camera.
Early Crappy Photos
It's hard with jewelry, because what works well with one piece doesn't necessarily work well with others. I use PhotoShop to add backgrounds, adjust the exposure, contrast and clean up any dirt and dust. The one thing I'd really like to learn is to do gradients using lighting and the camera... my brain can't seem to get a grip on that yet!
To see more photography tips, check out other
Etsy Metal members here:
Laura Jane Bouton
Mary Anne Karren
Deborah Lee Taylor
Etsy Metal Blog Carnival
Etsy Metal Blog Carnival