Sunday, December 9, 2012

FoundryM Thankful Collection

Foundry M Thankful 

I am thankful for a great family, fabulous friends, a beautiful world, and the ability to enjoy all of it.  Recently we all took time to celebrate what is important to us on Thanksgiving.  This celebration last year was the inspiration for my latest Foundry M collection “Thankful.”  After a year of working on it, I am thankful it is finally worked out, completed, and on display.

Last year I cooked Thanksgiving dinner and roast a turkey.  I loved doing it and it was delicious.  Then I decided to use the remaining bones and bits to make turkey stock.  This was a new endeavor.  After hours of boiling, probably longer than needed, bones began to float to the top of the pot.  As I strained them out I was amazed at the intricacies’ and shapes that emerged.  Fan shapes and curves, sling shot shapes, and vertebrate, so many unique pieces, and such detail and symmetry that normally goes unnoticed as we celebrate our meal. 

I was intrigued to take a closer look.  With gloves and kabob skewers as tools I carefully picked apart what was left.  I separated bone from meat and tendon and marveled.  I felt a bit like an archeologist uncovering some new find and I thought about the many ancient cultures that used every part of their meal for something useful, spiritual, or decorative and was inspired to do something with what I was uncovering.  Before beads, before cast metal and precious gems there were the jewels and the structures nature provided.  I thought about all the cultures that elevated these natural elements to art.

The principals of reduce, reuse, and recycle weigh heavy on my soul.  I accredit this to my family that throws few things away, and especially my grandmother who recycled, composed, and repurposed things long before it was cool.  Foundry M was born when my grandparents passed away and I came across a closet full of 40 years of building materials.  I drew a parallel between my family, and families through history that made use of all they had available.

Not ready to discard all that I had discovered after cleaning the turkey bones I bleached them.  Then I dried them and took a good amount of time trying to figure out what to do next.  I continually envisioned gold bones with bright electric red as a breastplate, or with a dark contrast on a black chain, on a necklace, or glistening bones by themselves as earrings.  A bold vision and very different, was it too bold?  While I was thinking about this I began going through another closet in my basement filled with craft supplies.  I found a plastic box filled with dozens of dried wishbones.  Upon further investigation I learned my Grandmother also had a similar notion years before and had collected and dried chicken wishbones with the intention of Christmas ornament creation.  She felt every tree needed a gold wishbone.  This discovery could not have made me happier, both for a sense of kinship with my missed Grandmother and as a sign of confirmation that this was an idea I should pursue. 

Finally, after much consideration, I gold and silver leafed the dried bones and coated them with a sealer…Then they turned green.  I again spent a bit of time considering what to do next.  I feel like I need to give a word of thanks at this point to the fabulous Cincinnati mixed media artist Tina Westercamp, and the Contemporary Art Center. 

At one of my favorite One Night One Craft events at the CAC focusing on mixed media art Tina gave an incredible amount of information on materials and techniques she found successful.  I described my project tenaciously, “I know this is going to sound weird but I bleached, gold leaf painted, and then sealed turkey bones to make jewelry and they turned green.  I am interested to hear your thoughts on the best mediums to use so they don’t turn green.”  To my relief she had great solutions and started by indicating, “Oh yeah, I’ve done that.  Sounds like a cool project.”  I always knew mixed media was one of my favorite art forms.

Take two on the bone prep: I again sealed them with the medium Tina suggested, re-leaf painted them, wire wrapped them and then applied another sealing top coat of gel medium.  For anyone uncomfortable with wearing animal bones, these pieces are completely cleaned, treated, and sealed.

For the necklaces I used a few different weaving techniques.  I wanted the necklaces to be soft, a contrast to the hard look of the natural shapes, and I wanted them to be wearable in warm and cold weather.  I cut strips of cotton jersey knit fabric and hand wove chains on my fingers using a simple technique I also learned at a Contemporary Art Center One Night One Craft event.  From clouds of jersey fabric dust emerged dozens of soft and cozy chains.  The breastplates are still in progress as the breastplate weaving is a bit more complicated.  I used a weaving technique often used for rag rug weaving and slowly formed the shapes I wanted. 

With the addition of a few bold beads of African brass and mixed metal, the gold and silver bone necklaces came together.  The Thankful necklaces and earrings are surprisingly light.  They are somewhat fragile.  They are conversation starters and not for the demure.  The Thankful collection is an exciting addition to the Foundry M offering.

While each pair of earrings and necklace is unique here are some examples

My new favorite accessories

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