Aug 30, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - S = Stained Glass

The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works produced from it. Although traditionally the term was predominantly applied to windows in churches and other significant buildings the creations of modern stained glass artists also include sculptures and other items.

Coloured glass has been produced since ancient times. Both the Egyptians and the Romans excelled at the manufacture of small coloured glass objects. Evidence of stained glass windows in churches and monasteries in Great Britain can be found as early as the 7th century.

Stained glass as an art form reached its height in the Middle Ages when it became a major pictorial form and was used to illustrate the narratives of the Bible. Stained glass as an art form saw a revival in the 19th century with new techniques added to the more traditional techniques. The copper foil method was invented as an alternative to lead and saw stained glass evolve into sculptures and other decorative items as opposed to just windows. Artists sought to transform an ancient art form into a contemporary one exploring the medium of glass in different ways.

Here are some great examples I have found of hand crafted stained glass:

Aug 28, 2011

Sunday Theme - White

White is a colour the perception of which is evoked by light. Since white is the extreme end of the visual spectrum, and since white objects such as snow, clouds and flowers, appear often in nature, it has frequent symbolism. Human culture has many references to white, often related to purity and cleanness.

Snow and ice are normally white due to the diffusing structure of transparent water ice crystals. The same is true for many types of clouds where droplets of water diffuse the white light from the sun. Beaches with sand containing large amounts of quartz also appear white.

White is frequently associated with both purity and peace. This symbolism has long roots as seen by the white dove emerging from Noah's ark. The white ribbon is worn by movements denouncing violence against women and the White Rose was a non violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. The White flag is an International sign of either surrender or truce, that is, it is a sign of peaceful intent.

In Western weddings, a white dress is thought to be symbolic of purity. In Japanese weddings white is thought to symbolise the "death" of their former family and their introduction into a new family. In English heraldry white symbolised brightness, purity, virtue and innocence.

Of course the colour white is frequently used in craft, both as the only or dominant colour and also as a complimentary or contrasting colour. My Sterling and White Crystal Wired Watch pictured above is a great example of white being used as the only or dominant colour. 

Here are some more examples from the Jet Team:

and from members of the BrisStyle team:

Aug 27, 2011

Yellow and Green Bi-Coloured Quartz Earrings

When I saw these beautiful bi-coloured Quartz briolettes for sale I just couldn't resist them. I had never seen such distinct two colours in one stone before and thought it was pretty special. 

When it came to deciding what to team the quartz up with when making some earrings with them, the olivine coloured Swarovski crystals was the obvious choice, with olivine being such a good blend of colour between green and yellow. I therefore wirewrapped the Quartz briolettes in sterling silver, set the crystals on hand balled sterling head pins, and set the lot on jump rings suspended from hand forged ear wires. So, my Yellow and Green Bi-Coloured Quartz Earrings were complete.

Aug 25, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - R = Rug Making

Rug Making is one of the oldest crafts known and can be traced back through the ages to various civilisations. The oldest found rug, found largely intact due to being encased in ice, has been dated to the 5th century BC.

It is believed that various Eurasian, Mongolian and Siberian first engaged in rug making thousands of years ago.  As shepherds, the nomads experimented with wool for rug making and these rugs replaced animal skin coverings. Because of the nomad's mobility, the art of rug making was exposed to other people, and in this way the craft passed to other cultures. 

It is widely agreed that rug making found its highest and most elaborate skilled expression in Asian and Islamic cultures. Initially made strictly for utilitarian purposes, over the years the rug has become not just a useful floor covering, it has become an art form in its own right.

Rug making covers various techniques including braided, hooking, rag rugs and woven.

Here are some great examples I have found of handmade rugs:

Aug 23, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - Q = Quilling

Quilling is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped and glued together to create decorative designs. The paper is wound around a quill to create a basic coil shape. These shaped coils are arranged to form flowers, leaves and various ornamental patterns similar to ironwork.

During the Renaissance French and Italian nuns and monks used quilling to decorate book covers and religious items. In the 18th century quilling became popular in Europe where ladies of quality practised the art. Quilling also spread to the Americas and there are a few examples from Colonial times.

Today quilling is seeing a resurgence in popularity on every continent and in every walk of life. The craft has become increasingly popular due to the low cost of the material. It is used to decorate all sorts of cards, scrapbook pages and boxes. Quilling can be found in art galleries and is an art that is practised around the world.

Here are some great examples of quilling:

Aug 21, 2011

August Birthstone - Peridot

My blog has been a bit of a miss over the last couple of weeks because of some health issues but I aim to get it back on track now - starting with a post about the birthstone for August - the Peridot.

The Peridot has become very popular in recent years, but it is actually a very old gemstone used in Egyptian jewellery as early as the 2nd millennium BC. The ancient Romans too were fond of this gemstone and esteemed its radiant green shine which does not change even in artificial light.

The Peridot is one of the few gemstones that comes in one colour only. The rich, green colour with the slight tinge of gold is caused by very fine traces of iron. The intensity of the colour depends on the amount of iron actually present. The colour itself can vary over all shades of yellowish green and olive, and even to a brownish green. 

My Green Gemstone Charm Bracelet, pictured above, includes the gemstone Peridot.

Here is some more Peridot jewellery from some members of the JET team:

Aug 5, 2011

Friday Favourites


A to Z of Crafts - P = Pottery

Pottery is the material from which potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. Pottery is made by forming the clay body into objects of a required shape and heating them to high temperatures in a kiln to induce reactions that lead to permanent changes including increasing their strength, and hardening and setting their shape.

The earliest pottery vessels found include those excavated from the Yuchanyan cave in Southern China, dated from 16,000 BCE, and those found in the Amur River basin in the Russian Far East, dated from 14,000 BCE. The invention of the Potter's Wheel in Mesopotamia sometime between 6,000 and 4,000 BCE revolutionised pottery production. Specialised potters were then able to meet the expanding needs of the world's first cities.

Here are some great examples of hand crafted pottery from members of the BrisStyle and Cast teams:

Aug 3, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - O = Origami

Origami from "ori" meaning "folding" and from "kami" meaning "paper" is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding which started in the 17th century AD and was then popularise outside Japan in the mid 1900s. It has since then evolved into a modern art form. The goal of this art is to transform a flat sheet of material into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques, and as such the use of cuts or glue are not considered to be origami.

There is much speculation as to the origin of origami. While Japan seems to have had the most extensive tradition, there is evidence of an independent tradition of paperfolding in China, as well as in Germany and Spain. In China traditional funerals included burning folded paper, most often representations of gold nuggets. It is not known exactly when this tradition started but it seems to have become popular during the Sung dynasty (905-11255 CE). The earliest evidence of paperfolding in Europe is a picture of a small paper boat in Tractatus from 1490.

In the early 1900s Akira Yoshizawa was responsible for a number of innovations such as wet folding and his work inspired a renaissance of the art form. During the 1980s a number of fo9lders started systematically studying the mathematical properties of folded forms which led to a steady increase in the complexity of origami models, which continued well into the 1990s, after which some designers started turning to simpler forms.

Here are some great examples of origami that I have found from some fellow Australians:

Aug 1, 2011

Sunday Theme - Cubic Zirconia

Cubic Zirconia has been widely recognised gemologically as the most important synthetic substitute for diamonds since it first began to be commercially manufactured in 1976.

Cubic Zirconia or CZ is actually the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide. The synthesised material is hard, optically flawless and usually colourless but may be made in a variety of different colours.

Some of the key features distinguishing a cubic zirconia form a diamond, other than price of course are:
  • CZ has a rating of approx 8 on Mohs Hardness Scale vs a rating of 10 for diamonds
  • A CZ will weigh about 1.7 tomes more than a diamond of the same size
  • A manufactured CZ is virtually flawless whereas most diamonds will have some sort of defect
  • Some CZ gemstones are cut with facet shapes that differ from those typically used for diamonds
  • Only the rarest of diamonds are truly colourless whereas CZ can be made entirely colourless
My Gold and Silver Bangle with Red CZs, pictured above, is a bangle I made using Cubic Zirconias.

Here is some more jewellery made using cubic zirconia from members of the Jet Team:


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