Wire Art Jewelry by Mel: I started making jewelry over 10 years ago, even longer if you count some jewelry I made with my father while I was still in grade school. I am basically self-taught with the experience of working with several great artists and teaching. My degrees are in art and psychology from a small liberal arts college. I moved to California to go to grad school, but never made it. I started creating jewelry as my main source of income there and began working for a company (whose name I cannot legally mention) making jewelry showcases for department stores. So, you may have seen my work without even knowing it, since they did not incorporate the artists names. I moved back near Chicago a few years ago and continue my passion for art, working from a studio in Wheaton.
There are so many talented artists out there creating beautiful, functional works of art from re-purposed and recycled materials. One of my favorite trends right now is the application of old re-purposed barn wood into projects like the ones shown in this post.
The handmade owl rack shown above is available at HappyAcresArtworks. It is made from re-purposed barn wood and has been hand painted to give a natural, worn-in look. The artist from HappyAcresArtworks was raised on a 150 acre dairy farm in rural Chester County Pennsylvania and credits her upbringing for her desire to take inspiration from nature in her work. Use this owl rack to organize and hang your treasures in any room. The color scheme of her items are especially well-suited for a nursery or young child’s room.
TrueConnection is another wonderful shop specializing in one of a kind pieces made from reclaimed wood. From their wedding decor to their home decor, each piece is beautifully crafted and has it’s own unique character. The wood used for the items at TrueConnection comes natural with nail holes, knots, and a natural wood grain variation. The farm house entry table shown above is rustic and charming. Use it to keep your shoes off of the floor and out of the doorway and to keep your everyday items like keys, mail, or even your umbrella neatly placed at your home’s entry for easy access.
Last but not least, check out this simple, adorable earring holder from ParadiseHillDesigns. Keep your earrings neatly and artfully organized with this rustic, yet refined handmade frame. The weathered pine used to create this piece was gathered from the side of an old cabin and has been carefully sanded, but otherwise has its natural beauty shining through. The interesting character of each piece of wood is what makes projects like these so beautiful. The artists at ParadiseHillDesigns create many other earth friendly products such as picture frames, decorative boxes, home decor, desk accessories, and more.
Have an item that you created from reclaimed wood?
We’d love to see it! Link to your projects in the comments.
Art galleries have definitely gotten a bad rap, and sometimes deservedly so. Oftentimes, us regular folks feel a little out of our element in them. They are the realm of people in the know with money to burn. And the owners are just expensively bespectacled gatekeepers to a place to which you might as well have worn your “Ignorant Hick” t-shirt.
Walk into The Brigantine Gallery in Downer’s Grove, Illinois and you’ll see what you might expect to see, beautiful paintings lining every square inch of wall space, sculpture, and decorative art. But, stay a while and you’ll find, perhaps, something that you did not expect, handmade jewelry and crafts, high-quality pieces produced by children and teens, and a happening neighborhood destination where people gather to learn about art, take lessons, show their own handiwork, listen to music and have fun with family and friends, with not a drop of pretentiousness to be found. Put away that t-shirt, Ma. These people are nice.
For two and a half years, gallery owner Joan Ramp has been providing a place for local artists and craftspeople to be promoted and supported as they build or nurture their careers. I asked her how she came to Downer’s Grove Main Street and what her reception has been like. “Prior to moving to this location we’d been in LaGrange Park for seventeen years, so we’re not really new kids, just new on this block. We looked at eleven different locations and just loved the community involvement we found here. All the festivals, the hometown feel, the close knit community. We decided this was the place and we love promoting the local artists. One of our favorites is C. L. Smith who is a long-time Downer’s Grove resident. His amazing paintings of trains have garnered quite a following.”
Joan comes from a family of gallery owners. Her father opened the first gallery and now she and all of her siblings own their own galleries. “We started out with just one artist, Charles Vickery, who is just the premier seascape artist, world reknown. But we realized that there were many talented people out there, who just needed to be given a chance.” Not the least of which is Joan’s long time friend and resident framer, Noel Grabbow. Noel handcrafts every frame and has been doing so for years. He has a wonderful artistic eye and has helped discover many new artists. He’s also very passionate about fine art and craft. “Out of the seven million people in Chicago, probably about 100,000 claim to be artists,” Noel states. “Let’s just say, not all of them are marketable. But sometimes a new talent will show up and just blow you away.”
“People need to learn what is really valuable,” Noel declares. “They scoff at paying $600 for a painting, but not at paying that for a factory made table or sofa.” Joan explains the reason, “Most people don’t realize that artists and craftspeople sometimes spend years on a single piece. They don’t know that the painter was spending $75 per tube for paint and gave two years of his life to completing that painting, and is only asking $600 for it. We have forgotten what true value is. A table that is produced in a matter of minutes by a machine cannot even begin to compare in value to art and craft that is produced by real human beings.”
The gallery hosts Paint and Play Fun Night on Friday nights. Joan is very enthusiastic about the community’s response, “The gallery is a place for the townspeople to mingle, paint, and make friends. It costs $15 and it includes materials, two and a half hours of instruction, food, drinks, music and good times. It’s great and people love it. Whole families show up. Singles. Couples. They get to try out the teachers, and the teachers love it because they just love to paint and get to know their clients and neighbors. We’re happy to be able to act as hub for the community to come together in this way.”
New artists and craftspeople bring their work to Joan every day, hoping for a chance to exhibit at Brigantine. Some are children. “We get submissions from art students at the local high schools. Did you see the eggs? Those were done by a twelve year old.”
Handmade jewelry and crafts abound, from hair accessories to notecards, to puzzles, to birdhouses. Joan speaks animatedly and with obvious admiration for the craftspeople she promotes. “I find them online and invite them to the gallery. And the community also lets us know who and what they’d like to see. I love it when someone comes in and says will you look at my work? Great work is always welcome!”
“We have two goals really,” Joan concludes. “To educate people about art and how to make it affordable and reachable as an investment. And to nurture new artists and help established ones. Our job is to make art lovers.”
The Brigantine Gallery, 5149 Main Street, Downers Grove, IL, 60515, USA.
On the web: http://www.vickeryart.com
Keep an eye on their webpage for forthcoming dates for their 3rd Annual Meet The Artist coming up in mid-March.
Earth Day is here again and what better way to celebrate than by winning some low-impact, earth-friendly, handmade goods? The eco-marketplace Cosa Verde has teamed up with Modish to bring you a giveaway of beautiful handmade goods by 39 environmentally-friendly artists. $1375 in prizes will be split among four lucky winners. Click over to Modish to enter!
Prizes include the organic handbag above by Zelaya, with hand-carved wooden handles, this circle fawn pendant made from recycled silver by Figs & Ginger, and this adorable screenprinted organic pillow by Chakra Pennywhistle, along with lots of other organic, recycled, repurposed and reusable earth-friendly wares!
This week Manchester Craft and Design Centre opened a new exhibition of neon light installations by artist Richard William Wheater. The Craft and Design Centre is a fantastic local venue for artists to showcase their work, and this latest exhibition is sure to bring new customers to the centre.
Richard works in print, performance and installation and has been creating since backpacking in Europe as a teenager, where he was inspired by the sights. Now, Richard gets inspiration from speaking to people and looking out for interesting sights on his commute to and from work.
Gaining enjoyment from sharing his work with others and hoping it will provide them with pleasure, the only thing he dislikes it that he can no longer see his pieces once they’re sold! Richard is lucky enough to have his ideal workspace – a bit, minimal white space just outside Wakefield in Yorkshire, UK, and works mostly to commission – though his artist books are available through Amazon.
“Not many artists work in neon, even less are developing it in a hands-on sense,” says Richard. “I benefit from being one of only a few artists that develop and make neon. Often it’s the idea that I promote, usually through a media story or in on-line forums and what’s on guides.”
“My concern [with the UK art scene] lies with the lack of funding for material-based arts courses in UK colleges and universities. It’s here where we should be inviting students to explore the creative possibilities of such materials, though apart from Neon Workshops, there is nowhere in Britain where one can even learn about or play with neon.”
“It’s crucial to have the support of exhibiting in spaces that not only have resources to help promote ones work but the ability to financially support an exhibitor to make and install new work. Without this support, less new inspired work is made, and therefore less chance for general public to become inspired by what they might see.”
I’m Electric You’re Electric runs at the Manchester Craft and Design Centre from February 12 to April 30. Visit www.craftanddesign.com for full details.