Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pumphouse Studios - The Art of Julia Janeway

O.K. I have to warn you these could be addictive. Artist Julia Janeway’s love for books has been translated into ceramics. Ceramic books? No, book illustrations have inspired her. Julia uses the techniques of wood and lino cuts to cut into her ceramic pieces. The results are whimsical, fun and beautiful book inspired pieces. Yes, they have birds on them. I know my fascination on birds is now teetering on the obsessive but wow do I love Julia’s bird. Here is my interview with Julia.

One of my favorite art forms is wood and lino cuts. What was your process of using these techniques with ceramics? How did that take place the first time?
I have always loved books, especially illustrated ones. I think a lot of people have had this experience-- think of those images from books that have stayed with you since childhood, maybe ones you have even forgotten, that you suddenly remember as an adult. Right now, I am having a wonderful time reading children's books to my kids that I read as a child, and while they are not all print illustrations, the images still inspire me-- that bee looking up at Ferdinand's backside...Petunia walking through the weeds with a red book under her wing...the vines growing up the walls in Max's bedroom in Where the Wild Things Are.

My favorite and most inspirational printmaker is Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990), who did amazing woodcut illustrations for classics like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. What I like about wood and lino prints is the graphic quality. Contemporary artist Nicky McClure-- who makes wood cut-looking illustrations out of cut paper-- is another inspiration for me. Again, I love the cleanness of the line and the things one can accomplish with black and white or simple blocks of color.

As far as ceramics, I suppose I should credit a young potter I met in Steamboat Springs, Colorado the year my mom died (1994.) This girl and her boyfriend were making black on white cups and planters-- the boyfriend threw the forms and the girl would carve them. The technical term is sgraffito. I had created pottery off and on ever since I was little, mostly because my mom was a high school art teacher and wonderful potter. But I was grieving my mom's death that summer and, although I had inherited all my mom's pottery gear, I was doing nothing in the way of ceramics, and nothing in the way of art. I was that sad.

Still, I bought a cup "handmade by Leah and Scott" (as it says on the bottom.) Little did I know years later it would inspire me to do that style of pottery. It was so unusual to me. I love the illustrative aspect of carving, and how it allowed me to set my own ideas-- about animals, birds, words-- in stone.

My work is obviously such a marriage of my love for books with my love for art.

Birds are such inspirational creatures. You use them a lot in your work. What do they represent for you?

Birds represent so many things! I "knew" my birds as a kid, and the other day my little 2-year old daughter shocked a visitor by looking out the window and saying, "There's a scrub jay." I think birds are fragile and hearty. I think they are the vital heartbeat in the background that you don't notice right away.

Like the goldfinch that come in the winter and cheer you up with their little flashes of sun in the rain.

Like the robins who bounce around on your lawn like comical clowns.

Like the barn owls, who spread out their wings and seem so silent and holy.

Like the chickens. Was there ever a more humble or necessary bird?

Please tell us how you came to be a ceramicist and about the connection you have with your kiln, wheel and glazes.

My road into ceramics has been filled with sharp diversions and a lot of bumbling. As I mentioned before, my mom was a self-taught potter and art teacher. I can still remember her on the weekends or during the summers down in the basement of our house throwing pots. I remember the crazy kiln experiences we had, from setting up her electric kiln in a meadow near Hahns Peak, Colorado to me waking up in the middle of the night in Colorado Springs in the back of our car, and realizing my mom had driven me down the mountain to check the gas-fire kiln at the high school.

I got a PhD in English and Writing when I was in my 20s. (...see, I loved books...) But, when I moved to Oregon in 1999, I found myself drawn into ceramics. I still really enjoyed teaching but I was tired of abstract thoughts. It was so amazing to turn pieces of "mud" into stone!

I had a lot of failures, but just the joy of the transformation of some intangible idea into wet clay, and then into solid form was thrilling. Like magic.

What is your favorite book?

I read so much and such a variety of things that it is hard to choose a favorite book. I delight in the poetry I find in the most pedestrian of things-- like pamphlets from the 50s about "dining out in a foreign country" or offhand phrases a friend might write in a letter.

What wisdom would impart to someone that would love to give ceramic work a spin?

I would not just apply this advice not just to ceramics, but to anything you are thinking about doing: will you have fun doing it? Things that come out of the heart's desire are so powerful. Even when I was making pottery in a little 6X6 foot uninsulated pumphouse, I knew I was on to something because I so looked forward to being there. Then, when I stopped teaching and had children, the desire to play around with ceramics was still there-- and even if I worked late at night or took a precious kid's naptime to work, I was sustained by what I was doing creatively. Whatever you love, whether it is ceramics or something else, drink it in. See if it is the cool glass of water that quenches your thirst.

So, Julia what's next for you?

I am the country mouse going up to the big city of Portland, Oregon in less than seven days to participate in one of the largest ceramic artists' shows in the country-- OPA Ceramic Showcase-- over 200 potters at the convention center the first weekend in May! Of course, I am freaking out. But I hope to make some friends...and, as an added bonus, scope out Crafty Wonderland, which will be at the convention center at the same time!

I'm constantly trying to improve my etsy store.

And, most exciting to me, I started a blog in January, "Was I There?"-- --- which I think only my Dad reads. But, still, it's been so wonderful to tell stories about my life (illustrated with good art and photos), share what inspires me, and, well, to paper my ordinary days with a lot of jokes.

Julia, Thank you so much for this interview. I had a great time getting to know you and learning about your beautiful work.

Please visit Julia at the following location:

Her blog:

Her Etsy shop:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Handmade Lace and Courtney Love?

Wow, sometimes you find something that is just too beautiful. I have done just that. A line of jewelry so delicate and gorgeous I swooned. Ivy Long literally weaves gold into romance. Her Edera Jewelry line would have surely been the cause of Marie Antoinette losing her head instead of that nasty ol' guillotine. Please enjoy my interview with Ivy Long.

Ivy, your work is so intricate and elaborate. How did you come up with the idea for your Edera Jewelry line? It's been a gradual evolution. My mother is a milliner and textile artist, so from a young age I learned to sew, knit, embroider and was always working on some creative project. I became interested in jewelry making as a teenager, and went on to work with several jewelry designers before launching Edera Jewelry. About ten years ago I taught myself how to crochet, and I became fascinated with the versatility of the craft and started crocheting hats, bags, and headbands using my own designs and patterns.

I've also always been interested in historical costumes and I remember looking at a book full of Renaissance lace patterns at around the same time and feeling a strong urge to recreate those patterns with the crochet technique. I began experimenting with very fine threads and very tiny crochet hooks, converting the old drawings of bobbin and needle lace designs into patterns for crochet. I began compiling these crochet lace patterns mainly as a hobby, not really sure how to apply them. I didn't make the leap to creating lace jewelry until a year or so later when a woman I knew showed me a necklace that she had crocheted with beads. Then it clicked: I could combine my lacemaking skills with my jewelry making techniques. I've been doing so ever since, constantly refining and expanding on these techniques.

How long does it take to make a piece? Lets take your Dauphine Necklace. (one of my favorites) Walk us through your process. Needless to say, all of my designs are pretty labor-intensive--the time it takes varies depending on the complexity of the lace motifs. The Dauphine Necklace took 10+ hours to create. Like all of my designs, it started as sketch in my notebook before coming to life. I sketch loosely, and in black-and-white, because I like to select the color palette and stones right before I begin working on a piece. The colors of the Dauphine Necklace were inspired by a famous portrait of Marie Antoinette as a girl--I loved the powder blues and silver greys of the dress she was wearing in the painting.

Once I've settled on the shape and color scheme for a design, I chart the lace pattern and bead placement so that the beads are neatly interwoven into the lace as it's being created. The Dauphine Necklace has a rather layered design, so my next step was to create the little flowers and lace appliques in the center of the pendant. This is a more free form process--I rearrange the beads and motifs until I'm satisfied with their placement, and then sew them down.

The final step is to attach the jewelry findings to the lace. In the case of the Dauphine Necklace, I created a chain from scratch--wrapping by hand the dozens of wire links. The stones on the links were embellished with lace bead caps to tie in with the lace of the pendant. I then attached the clasp and vintage rhinestone drop and the design was complete!

Photo of the necklace as a work in progress:

Your work is 1 part historical reference, 1 part romantic whimsy and 1 part technical perfection. But jewelry isn't all you do is it? Please tell us about the Courtney Love piece. That was a really fun project! I knew that Courtney shopped on Etsy, but I was still completely surprised when one day I received an email from her asking if I could create a bodysuit covered with handmade lace and embroidery appliques. I'd never made anything on such a large scale before, but I was excited about the challenge. Courtney actually used to work in wardrobe for movie productions before she made it big as a musician, so she had lots of great ideas about the project. We emailed back and forth, she sent me a box full of antique textiles to incorporate for the design, and I made a lot of sketches for her, to which she would add her own notes and revisions. Then I began the very labor-intensive process of creating literally hundreds of handmade lace motifs, embellishing some with chenille embroidery, and stitching them onto a sheer body stocking. The body stocking had to remain on a mannequin while I stitched the lace motifs to it so that the suit would be form-fitting when worn--quite a challenge! I also cut up embroidered, antique piano shawls, reassembled their flower motifs, and stitched them onto the suit. It was a three-month project, but she was very happy with the results and we've been talking about me possibly making another one in the near future.

Photos of the bodysuit:

I noticed that you have both an Etsy site as well as a 1000 Markets site. Which do you prefer and why? Etsy is my main venue for selling online right now--it has much more built in traffic, so I've chosen to focus my efforts on it. That being said, I really do admire 1000Markets--it has many wonderful features and I like the concept of the juried groups. So for the time being, I plan to keep both shops open.

Please share with us your favorite quote. Hard to choose--but this is one of my current favorites: There are two ways of spreading light: To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it– Edith Wharton

What's next for you? Any fun projects on the way? This time of year is a very busy time for me, as summer brides are preparing for their weddings, so I'm working on lots of custom designs right now.

Ivy, thank you for your time. I had a great time with this interview and LOVE your work.

Please follow Ivy and Edera Jewelry at the links below:





Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Update to My Trials & Tribulations Post

I have been a jewelry making maniac the last 2 weeks. Over 20 new pieces made. I still need to antique a few of them but most of them are completed and ready to find new homes.
I posted a unfinished piece in a previous blog entry and I wanted to show the finished piece.
I loved making her. I really liked playing with the re-coppering and antiquing on this piece. I really love that she turned out old and well loved looking.

Check out to see her and other pieces.

Prior to re-coppering and antiquing

Completed piece.

Thanks for taking a look. I'm working on a tutorial for May on this project keep an eye out for it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Day - The Tale of a Loggers Son.

Earth Day is April 22.
I'm a big tree hugger and have participated and organized efforts of save forests and protect wildlife. My father however worked for a company here in Northern California that built logging trailers. He and I were never in conflict over this until my first year at college. I had over heard a conversation between my dad and his boss about plans to tour the area in question and have local logging companies make some recommendations for use. I and a group of nature lovers chained ourselves to a group of tree and ran chains across the road to protect this section of forest for the Spotted Owl. Here we are 16 of us chained around these huge trees and up rolls my father, his boss and team of logging company owners. My dad never acknowledged he knew me. 5 hours later after the sheriff was called we were cut apart and sent home as silly kids. Thanks in part to my dad convincing the sheriff not to arrest us. When I got home things were a bit different.

I thought I'd share a few earth friend pieces from artists and crafts people that I enjoy.
I hope you enjoy as well!
Dekt Out Belt Buckle
Made out of reclaimed Skate Board Decks
Recycled Boylan's Lemon Seltzer Bottle Glass
Reuseable Sandwich Baggie
Elana - Tree Doll

Check out for things you can do to protect our planet.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bird & Blue Bug

O.K. I've been bitten by the bird bug as well as the blue bug. No I'm not sick, I don't have some contagious fowl flu and I don't need a miracle cure! I have no idea where this has come from but I seem to be finding these luscious, luminous and inspiring shades of blue. I am also on a bird kick anything with a bird has me gaga. What is up with that? I've always bee attracted to bird, especially Ravens. They fly for goodness sakes. I had dreams of flight as a kid and alwys flapped my wings and saw great wonders.
I wanted to share a few of these beauties that I've found. Look for some of them to be blog entries all by themselves.

Sculpture by:

Hybrid Sculpture by:

Folk Art Doll by:

Sparrow Necklace by:

Ceramic Prayer Flag by:

Blue Bird Cake Topper by:

Blue Jay Etching on Copper by:

What is your passion this season?
Please leave a comment. Feel free to send me a link at and I will try and post a few other passions from readers.