Interview with Christine Fragment

Some of her work

What is your training in Art & Design?

I have actually never had any formal training in either art or design.  I started using Illustrator, Publisher, and InDesign at my office a few years ago.  I fell in love with it.  Everything I know is self-taught.  I’m now currently learning 3D modeling for construction management use too.  I can’t wait to move from my department to the other.  It may also help that my step-dad is a well-known artist (www.GeorgeMcMonigle.com

What significance does the name LilGriffin have?

Griffin is my maiden name.  Because of my older brother, all through high school I was known as Little Griff.  My dad & step-mom used to call be lil’ bit (and they still do).  I just couldn’t part with the name.  🙂

Tell me about your background.  What path lead you to what you are doing now?

I’ve been working with a local Construction Management company for the past 6 years.  I love it there.  My husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, had a brain injury back in 2006.  He’s been on disability ever since.  To save money on our wedding, I made our invitations, favors, and centerpieces myself.  I instantly fell in love with it.  I started making my own cards for people’s birthdays.  That led to invitations, which also helps pay the bills.
I use recycled or “tree-free” paper / envelopes.  I earned my Green Advantage certification through work (www.GreenAdvantage.com), which basically documents my knowledge of sustainable design, and energy efficiect products & techniques.  I have become quite passionate about recycling and using renewable resources.
Mini Card H #1


Of all your creations which are your favorite?

I honestly love the mini-cards, but they don’t sell well online (pics attached).  They usually sell better in person.  However, I love when I get to do custom work; which is pretty much any invite or save the date that I do.  The pickier the person, the more fun it is for me.  And I sometimes still amaze myself when I fulfill their wants / needs.


What are you looking forward to?

Right now – the summer.  Hehe.  This is actually going to be quite a busy year.  My husband & I have 5 weddings to attend.  We’re each in 3 of them, but not all the same 3.  I’m doing the Save the Dates and Invitations for 4 of them.  That’s keeping me quite busy.  Also, I have a niece or nephew due in the fall.

An interview with Sarah Lewis – a metalsmith and lapidary artist – and owner of Adorn, a new jewelry shop in Northern Liberties

 

1.Please introduce yourself – tell us who you are and how you view your work. 

Hello! My name is Sarah Lewis, and I love to make jewelry! I work mostly with sterling silver, glass, and stone. I see my work as stylish and unique, funky, and bohemian. 

 

2.You are a metalsmith and a lapidary artist – and you create the most amazing geode rings using faceted glass. Could you describe your process to us? 

Sure, the rings are quite a process, but I’ll do my best! Some styles are all blown glass. For these, I first create the inside design. This can be almost anything, but my common designs are my “honeycomb”, “imploded flower”, and my sparkly dichrioc “galaxy”. I then usually top this with a clear lens, and then build up layers of glass powders and frit around it. The layers of glass colors are inspired by natural geodes, and that is why I call these styles my “geode” rings. 

I then form the ring band. All of this is done molten using a big torch, and many tools. I am literally playing with fire and with a liquid in the air, using gravity and centripetal force. I also have developed, over the years, an understanding of how to work the glass color – how each will react to different types of flames, to get the effects that I want. 

After the hot work is done, my “geode” rings must cool in the kiln, and can then be cold worked. At this stage, some styles have stones fused into them. My current collection features ammonite, labradorite, and crazy lace agate. I use my lapidary wheel, to grind the surfaces of the glass and stone flat, and chemically bond them together. All styles – both the all glass – and glass/stone – are faceted using my lapidary wheel. This is an extremely tedious process. I use a diamond grit wheel to remove most of the material, and get the general shape that I want. I then must grind each face of the facet, with four different wheels. Each higher grit wheel will remove the scratches from the previous wheel. Finally, I use a cerium oxide compound to get a nice final polish. 

I recently have added another feature – electroforming and gold plating the ring bands! Electroforming is an electro-chemical process that builds up a layer of copper on the glass. I then must plate the copper layer with nickel, and then plate the nickel with gold. I am a little obsessed with combining glass and metal, so this is really exciting for me. And, I do all of this in my studio, right in back of adorn! p.s. – this will all make sense if you check out images of these pieces on my website – www.sarahlewisjewelry.com

Geode Rings

3. You’ve recently opened a store in Philadelphia with Jaime Melfi and Greg Droggitis called “Adorn”. What made you decide to open your own store and why did you choose Philadelphia? 

Well, I actually moved to Philadelphia about a year and a half ago for a job, designing accessories for another company. I was laid off last summer, and it was actually a blessing, because it gave me the push to do my own thing. I absolutely love Philadelphia, and especially my neighborhood, Northern Liberties, so I knew I was already in the right place! Philadelphia is supportive of small businesses, and has a great art and craft community. It has always been my dream to open my own shop, and develop my jewelry into a business, so I am really excited to finally be doing it! With the help of my business partners Jaime Melfi and Greg Droggitis, I am able to keep store hours, while filling my wholesale and custom orders, and running my website. Adorn has only been open since January, but we have had a great start, and have big plans for our future. It has been a lot of work, but we are learning so much, and we love every second of it! Please come visit us!         

 

Reported by: Carrie Biegler – aka: bud and branch    www.budandbranch.etsy.com 

I became an admirer of Sarah’s work as soon as I stepped into her store and it was a pleasure to interview her. I wish her much success with her new shop.

Interview with Wearable Artist Jessica Singerman

 

  What is your training in art & Design
I have a BA  in Studio Art from College of William & Mary, Virginia and an MFA in painting from the University of Delaware.
During my Jr. Year Abroad, I spent a semester studying drawing, painting, graphic design, and jewelry making in Florence.  The other semester was spent in Paris with Parsons School of Design.
 When and how did you begin.
Some of my earliest memories are of sitting at the dining room table and making things with my mom—miniature food out of salt dough, miniature books for my dolls (I’ve always been obsessed with miniature everything), origami, knitting clothes for dolls, etc…
By high school, I was drawing and painting a lot, sketching wherever I went… I took my first life drawing class when I was 15 and living in Tours, France.  That was an important point for me—I’ve always been in love with the figure.
Jewelry-making: I had been making things with beads since I was really young- I started playing around with metal my sophomore year in college, and ended up running a jewelry-making business out of my dorm room (so pro!)  That’s actually when the name “naida’s notions” came about (Naida is my maternal great grandmother’s name)
 How would you describe your work
some words I think of are: organic- nature based – biological – my husband says my use of color is fearless
I’m very interested in relationships between line and form, in pushing color around until I am surprised by the reaction or relationship created.
I started using pinks, reds, purples, magenta (I love magenta) in grad school, and it really rocked my world!  I had stuck to fairly conservative color throughout my work with the figure.  It’s funny- my last year in college I was doing sort of feminist work—very political in my mind—really trying to say something.  In grad school, once I embraced using those very “feminine” colors, it was a big turning point for me.  I had also made a shift to doing mostly abstract work rather than figurative.  I actually started doing abstract work in a sort of counterintuitive way.  I had never really worked from photographs before, and in order to start abstracting my work, I began using photography to help me see in a different fashion.  I would move the camera while shooting, get blobs of color and light, and motion blurs.  I painted what I saw in the photo and ended up with abstract figuration. From then I moved away from the figure entirely (well, for the most part)  It’s interesting to me that most artists would use a photo to make work look “real”(and there is nothing wrong with this), while for me it was a tool to bring my work more into the realm of painting for its own sake.

I love this photo of Bear- he looks like he's daydreaming.

I love your use of color.  Where do you find inspiration for your paintings.
being outside- the way light falling on something creates shapes and changes a color- light falling through foliage in the forest- paddling down a river, hearing rushing water around me, and watching the water play- microscopic, biological images
I can’t really pinpoint everything, because in a way everything inspires me.
The Bay Area artists of the 50’s and 60’s, primarily Richard Diebenkorn (and not just his work from that time, but also later- Embarrassingly I once actually cried when talking about a painting of his in a job interview for a teaching position. Not surprisingly I did not get the job. I really don’t know what came over me. Must have been nerves.)
Agnes Martin’s meditative, subtle, slightly imperfect grids
the fact that Gerhard Richter can flip from figuration to pure abstraction and back (where a brushstroke is literally it), and that he is OK with it
Mary Oliver’s poetry
Andy Goldsworthy’s use of color, form, and line in his landscape installations
the Japanese idea of “wabi-sabi” that values imperfection and impermanence
 I see you are fluent in quite a few languages.  How has that influenced your work.
That’s a tough one! Since I was old enough to realize it, growing up both bilingual and bicultural (my mother is French, and we moved back and forth between the States and France growing up) affected how I see myself-my identity.  I have a hard time identifying with a nationality or group of people, and have usually felt more comfortably and more at home in entirely different countries, namely Italy and Costa Rica.  I am sure that this sense of self must influence my work, but am not sure how…
They say that multilingual kids have a greater capability for creative thinking because you do not associate the usual meanings and connotations to a word that one language attribute to it.  Instead you have the range of meaning ascribed by all the languages you speak.  I guess this creates a kind of plasticity in the mind. who knows?
 

As far as making jewelry is concerned, it is refreshing to be able to make something that is unabashedly pretty!

View Jessica’s work at

www.naidasnotions.etsy.com
www.jessicasingerman.com
I am a new blogger for Handmade Philly.  This is a first in a seies of interviews I will be doing.  I hope you enjoy them and give me feedback.
  Thanks Joanne Litz
http://www.steelpony.com
http://steelpony.com/blog

Sewing Tutorial #1 – Threading Your Machine

I’m excited about this tutorial by New Hope-based artist, MaryJo Rosania. In her video below, MaryJo takes us through our first lesson in sewing: threading your sewing machine. As someone who once cheated on a timed sewing test in Mrs.Weller’s 6th grade home economics class, I am relieved to find MaryJo’s tutorial easy to follow and much more pleasant to listen to than a lesson from Mrs. Weller. Continue reading after the video for my interview with MaryJo.

KH: What attracts you to your particular crafting method?

MR: My artistic path has been complicated and diverse—I have a bachelors in sculpture from Kutztown and for a long time worked very conceptually. I did  a lot of installation work with a variety of materials: fabric, plaster, found objects, drawing, etc. I have never been able to stick with one material very long. Although, I have always loved sewing and at one point thought about working with costume design. Then when I was getting my MFA I began to create conceptual garments that I used in performance videos. Creating these costumes really sealed my love of sewing and constructing something to be worn. What we wear says so much about who we are, or who we are trying to become. At the moment I am working on a second MFA in Fashion Design from Academy of Art University. I am not sure what will come of this leg of the journey, so to speak, but I am loving the classes so far and learning a lot.

KH: Who inspires you, professionally, personally or both?

MR: I am a high school art teacher, so I have to say, my students have inspired me a lot in my work. Literally through their fashion choices, but also, at my job I have taught ceramics, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, painting, photography. An art teacher has to be well versed in basically all modes of art making . . . so through this I have learned ways to use these materials for my own work. I also see my students create ways to express themselves . . . this is very inspiring!

KH: Do you have some advice for people who are just getting started with sewing?

MR: Be patient, read the directions (if you are using a pattern), PIN and IRON (very important . . . never underestimate the power of ironing!). Don’t cut corners at first. It’s like anything—learn the rules first—then you can break them when needed.

KH: What is one of your favorite pieces that you’ve made?

MR: That’s a hard one . . . there are a few: the fascinator for my wedding, this little felt bird book that I initially made for a small works show (and couldn’t part with it so I never entered the show) and my bottle gown (which doesn’t exist anymore—it was made from fabric, latex and beeswax— the latex and beeswax started to lose form after a few years). I also really like the most recent embroidery I am doing. The images below are for a book I am making for a friend’s new baby I am using simple materials—black thread on muslin—I like how it looks like a line drawing.

KH: What other types of crafting would you like to try?

MR: I would like to try silk screening and textile design. I also would love to quilt someday.

KH: Tell me one other person who is part of the Handmade Philly network of whom you are a fan and why.

MR: This is also a hard question—I admire everyone who has a shop and sells their work. I have an Etsy shop but at the moment it is not operating. I have trouble making enough of one thing to sell—but would love to do custom orders. I am a fan of Linda Johnson  of Little Flower Designs. I LOVE her pottery and have a few pieces that we received as wedding gifts (we registered with her!). Also, Jen McCleary—she just seems to be so motivated and  works so hard—always making new pieces! I love the layered quality of her work.

MaryJo Rosania lives in New Hope, PA with her husband and two cats, Neko and Nori. She is an art teacher and head of the art department at Voorhees High School in Glen Garder, NJ. Her website is www.maryjorosania.com

The post author is Kate Holeman, a Philadelphia-based artist and graphic designer. Her blog is www.theletteredset.com and her graphic design site is www.kshcreative.com

Spring Flowering

Just a wee bit of color pushing through the wintry landscape…perhaps a tinge of gold at peel of a birch, a glimmer of purple-hued crocus sparkling on the forest floor, dewy moss casting a brilliant green to the edge of a creek, or the whisper of a snow drop petal’s sweet welcome. All of these things bring a feeling of renewal, revitalization, and quiet awakening as we emerge from our wintry dens to feel the balmy new breezes of springtime. In perusing the artistic coffers of Philadelphia artisans, I found the following gold-tinged blossoming gems. That delicate eruption of color from the milky whites and frothy cream is enough to remind me that warmth is nigh, even if I still have to pull my hood up over my head for a few more weeks.

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These absolutely stunning fairy wings are the exquisite, careful work of Rebecca Dixon, proprietor of etsy shop, Up from the Ashes I just hope that one day I can become the owner of one of these accessories to fantasy delight!

Grace Christie's lovely 'Rain' earrings

Grace Christie's lovely 'Rain' earrings

No one can deny the striking beauty of Grace Christie’s bejeweled creations. Like the afternoon sunlight filtering through a light spring drizzle, these earrings sparkle with a many hued light. You can find Grace Christie at her etsy site of the same name.

Sew Fragrant's Little Birdie

Sew Fragrant's Little Birdie

A delightful touch of whimsy for the Easter Basket, the Baby Shower, or any other event that delivers – in hushed tones, perhaps – spring growth, new growth, little birdie growth and happily, the arrival of little ones. Philly artisan, Patti, gives us all the chance to offer such sweet gifts at her shop Sew Fragrant.

SayHiBeth's adorable vintage magnets

SayHiBeth's adorable vintage magnets

What says ‘spring’ more than the hurry of little girls to begin skipping rope outside. I might not be little, but it seems pretty appealing to me! And I will say that for the two and a half year olds like my daughter, nothing is more appealing than getting out of doors at long last. And for such joyous weather! Say Hi Beth’s etsy shop is full of all kinds of wonderful vintage magnet sets. It won’t be long before some of these adorn my own fridge.

Harvest Sky Ring

Harvest Sky Ring

I know, I know, the name of this ring is “Harvest Sky” but who can mistake that clear blue of springtime, the golden branches merely a hold over from winter bareness, their silhouettes bathed in the hazy light following a light shower? Well, I can pretend. Isn’t that the glory of art? We see what we want to see. My stepmother already wears one of Dierdre Ryan’s photo rings, and many more can be found at her etsy shop, blackbird72.

Jen McCleary's picture postcard

Jen McCleary's picture postcard

For someone who delights in collage, Jen McCleary seems to have no end to the creative expanses of her imagination. Her artwork jewelry pieces are completely original and beautiful to behold, especially in person. And what’s this? Wonderful postcard prints of her collaged art pieces. And for a dollar? Astounding. Sign me up! And you, too, dear reader, should visit her shop for more. Find her at etsy under the name JenMcCleary

New springtime creations are all around us! Look for us locally area events, including the Trenton Avenue Arts Festival and the Fishtown Shad Fest for new, interesting, and endlessly creative creations.

Lilith's Apothecary glycerin soaps

Lilith's Apothecary glycerin soaps

Sarah Powell, is a medical anthropologist, herbalist, crafter, and the sole proprietor of the natural bath, body & herbal tea business, Lilith’s Apothecary.

More Pictures from the Monthly Team Meeting at Mew Gallery

Just wanted to post some extra info, to make sure Allison gets a deserving highlight for explaining Google Analytics to the team. Please see below.

Additional pictures from our Monthly Meeting at Mew Gallery, February 2009

Slideshow pictures by Pigeons in the Attic

The Philly Etsy Team came together for their February Monthly Team Meeting at Mew Gallery. Many thanks to co-coordinator Allison Ostertag for preparing the agenda, and keeping us on topic as much as possible. Allison and all of the team coordinators are offering a “Shop Make Over Series,” in which they will be giving us their collective advice on our Etsy shops. Make-over volunteers are able to sign up through the Philly Etsy Team’s google group message board. Allison also presented a virtual display of Google Analytics. It is an important tool for anyone with a website, blog, Etsy Shop, or otherwise. Google Analytics allows one to track every visitor to their site, how long they viewed, and how they arrived upon your site in the first place. It will also tell you the exact geographical location of each visitor, from city to US state, to international countries. Allison suggested to view your visitor statistics by US State, then simply search through Etsy and heart all of the wonderful shops in states where there has been minimal internet viewing.

Most importantly, we had some wonderful guests, Leah and Andrew, from the new “Made in Philly“. Their special project involves creating a “curated selection of handmade arts and crafts for the home” featuring artists in Philadelphia and the surrounding metro area. They expect to launch their first catalog in Mid-May, with biennial printings thereafter. “Made in Philly” has long-term goals of opening a retail venue, and carving a unique niche in the American craft market by featuring our favorite city of Philly. For more information on how to participate in “Made in Philly,” please visit their website: Tree Boom, Made in Philly.

Thank you to all of the Philly Team Members who were present at Friday’s meeting: Allison Ostertag, Pigeons in the Attic, MWM Designs, Suelynne in the City, Insitu Decorative Arts, Evening Star Gallery, Jen McCleary, Beck’s Button’s, and the new Made in Philly.

Friendly Reminder: You can find team member’s shops by using “Philly Team” in the “All Items Search“.

Team Meeting February: 3rd Friday of Every Month!

Becky Lee demonstrated how to create a Treasury
Andrew told us about the Made in Philly catalog

Suzanne told us about her South Street storefront idea

Join us for the next meeting at 6:00 pm on March 20
at the Mew Gallery at 906 Christian St.