Hello! I am Patti Vanderbloemen – the newest member of the Love My Art Jewelry community! I am humbled and honored to be included in among this group of truly talented artists, whose work I have admired (and coveted!) for years! This is my first posting – I do hope you will stick around to the end (I was a writer in my "past life" and my blog posts tend to be lengthy)!
I fell into this medium by accident – my mother, who lived in Florida at the time, had been creating all types of jewelry through the on site lapidary store located in her community. She came up North for a visit and wanted to make a “quick trip” to the local bead store. Quick – ha! As I watched her stare at the hundreds and thousands of findings on the wall, my eye caught a book on the counter. This book, by Irina Miech, is what did it for me. It was not just the beads – but the METAL elements that drew me in.
I bought the book that day, spent HOURS (could have been DAYS) on the Fire Mountain Gems website, and patiently waited for my order to arrive. In the weeks/months that followed, I attempted (notice the key word is attempted) each and every design in that book. That was December 2009.
The experience of working through the projects was an eye opener. Most ended up in what I now call the "scrap pile" - but it did not deter me as I was intrigued. The picture below (I am cringing here) is my first completed jewelry project. I only wanted to make the bracelet, but there were so many extra beads! The bracelet took me FOREVER! The loops on those "handmade" eye pins are not even round!
It was not long before I discovered art beads. I immediately fell in love with lampwork beads, and I once again bought book after book so that I could understand the process. This bracelet below is one of my first creations that I sold in 2011 using gorgeous filigree lampwork beads by Susan Kennedy.
|Lampwork Beads by Susan Kennedy of Sue Beads|
On a side note, since I began selling my jewelry online in 2011, my least favorite thing to do is take pictures – it has always been such a struggle to find the right lighting, background, layout, props – you name it. I have no idea “how” this bracelet above sold, as the picture is awful! I have spent so much time researching how to take an adequate picture of jewelry. I have done the foray of using an all-white background (HATE IT- so much editing involved and my jewelry looked altered in some way). I have tons of scrap paper to be used as a background, which meant the background always seemed to distract the eye from the actual piece of jewelry.
I have tried natural light – both inside and outside – but never seemed to find the right “angle”. The picture of the earrings below, circa 2012, were taken on my back porch stoop. As I look back on this photo, I see the reflection of my patio furniture umbrella – ha! I did however, prefer the gray color of my concrete stoop to the all-white background.
|Lampwork by Pomegranate Glass - Enameled Bead Caps by Susan Kennedy|
So, I tried taking photos at a different time of day – look at the horrible shadows!
|Lampwork Beads by Maryse Fritzsch-Thillens of GlassBeadArt|
Anyway, because I just could not find the right time of day (if the sun even made an appearance), I went back indoors. I made a trip to the local nursery and picked up a HUGE slab of granite, and purchased two photography lamps. I used this slab for well over 2 years – maybe 3. Last year, it finally dawned on me (I am a slow learner) that the granite has a “green” tinge to it and made all the colors of the beads blend into the background.
|Basha Lampwork Beads|
I am surprised that the earrings above actually sold – one cannot even begin to appreciate the beauty of those opal Basha Beads with the granite background – it blends right in! After years of trial and error with my photos – and lots of research – I now use an 18% Photo Gray card (link here) and photography lights (link here). My studio is in my basement, and there is no natural daylight. It is also too cumbersome to drag everything outside to take photos (this translates to being lazy). So for now, I am happy with the pictures.
For the first couple of years, I only used sterling silver - I did not even try using copper until late 2012. I am so sorry I waited that long! While I loved the look of "antiqued copper", I had never used liver of sulfur and wasn't even sure of the complete process. Everything I read said it smelled of rotten eggs (it does!) and I wasn’t sure I could handle the techniques required to achieve the antiqued look that I wanted. But, I have to say – I am used to that smell and using it on a daily basis is now second nature.
|Lampwork Beads by Donna Millard|
Since the beginning, my journey in jewelry design has incorporated wire, usually with art beads. I have taken a handful of jewelry classes through ArtBliss Workshops, a local (Northern Virginia) retreat that was the brain child of Jeannette Blix Oliverio-Ryan and Cindy Wimmer. It was cancelled last year, and I am not sure if/when it will be resurrected. Regardless, I am forever grateful for the few classes I did take with Richard Sally, Jessica Jordan, Kerry Bogert, and Stacie Florer. These classes have proven invaluable to me for learning specific techniques and tips that I could not glean from a book or a video. Soldering is the perfect example here.
|Tiger Eye Cab and Ceramic by Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio|
Now, as my work evolves, it includes almost all components made by me (except the beads, of course)! Sheet metal has become a recent favorite as well – there are so many things that can be made from a simple sheet of metal! And texture – oh my goodness – next to the caramel color achieved through the oxidation process, my favorite techniques ALWAYS incorporate some sort of texture.
I feel very blessed that I am able to create “what I want”. As such, I donate the proceeds of my sales to Miracle Horse Rescue, a wonderful organization located in Idaho dedicated to saving abused and neglected horses.
I am always excited by the possibilities of “the next” piece of jewelry that I am able to create and am so grateful for the support of the total online experience of like-artisans -- from blogs, to Face book, to You Tube videos - who share, encourage, and contribute their knowledge of this fabulous medium we call jewelry design.