September ABS - Expression of impressions

 As a design student in the early 2000's the art movement that I was most drawn to was impressionism. Everything about the movement - from how it came into existence, it journey including Neo and post impressionism, the artists, their style, and the range of subjects fascinated. The more art and design history I studied, the more I started relating to the overall Positivist philosophy of art which is the rejection of Romantic subjectivism in favor of the objective description of the ordinary world. Impressionism, Post-impressionism, Expressionism, Fauvism are all the art movements of the positivist age and are linked not just by the time period or the striking brushstroke technique but also by the treatment of a subject that implied a certain degree of distortion. The paintings of this period depict what the artist feels (his/her impression of the idea, object or the people) rather than what is seen. Though the subjects are tangible, the presentation is mostly intangible and sometimes even abstract. Some differences do exist between the movements. For example, while Impressionism is more fluid and spontaneous, expressionism is more intense and emotional. Artists like Van Gogh were able to successfully bridge both.  

Pebeo paint jewelry

September's Art bead Scene challenge is to create an art bead/components or Jewelry with art beads inspired by Paula Modersohn-Becker's "Old Woman from the Poorhouse in the Garden with Glass Ball and Poppies" which is an expressionist style of painting. While I found the colors in the painting calling to me, I somehow could not comprehend the imagery. I found it closer to Paul Gauguin's primitivist impressionism works maybe due to the presence of brown skin tone and rust colored clothing.

You might wonder how difficult can it be to decode a picture of a woman holding flowers, but I didn’t find it compelling. So I took a leaf out of Edvard Munch's Scream and Anxiety - the classic textbook reference in Expressionism, I decided to make pendants with streaks of colors and visual texture that is visible in Paula's painting. Again I wasn't very convinced by the color palette that was provided, so I proceeded to make my own from the painting. In usual design school style (where only a maximum of five colors are allowed in the color board) I picked an unconventional palette of reddish rust, muted blue, pale green, deep mustard and one neutral black.

Pebeo paint jewelry canvas

Expression of impressions 
Beyond the given painting, my inspiration comes from me visit to the Modern art gallery - particularly the Impressionist wing at the Metropolitan museum of art. So I call my work as my Expression of impressions on my mind there. 
The first pendant is based on an idea I have been wanting to try for a very long time - Mini canvas like pendants. For this piece I used artists' canvas as the base and played around with Pebeo Prisma colors that I got at Michaels. In my metal image of  the inspiration picture I saw bluish purple ( I guess that was my impressionist brain mixing colors by itself) so the pendant has a large dose of bluish purple in it due to which it looks cooler than the painting. I am still exploring bail and necklace options for it (nothing seems to work) so I am open to suggestions.

enamelled metal pendant
I was not sure if just a colored canvas pendant would be considered a valid entry for the challenge, so I made another. I used an embossed copper circle, that was flame painted and partially enamelled with Vitreous crackle enamel (made by me at beadfest). I added pebeo paints and Ice resin jewel tints to get paints streaks and texture on it. This just has a hole on the top as I am figuring out bead options to make it into a necklace.
air chasing on copper jewelry
By this time I was on a coloring spree and I chanced upon an air chased piece of copper that I had made months ago with had bud and stalk like impressions reminiscent of the painting. I then cut it to size and colored it with patina inks and ice resin tints ( I seem to be reaching out for them for almost piece these days).  I strung some faux gold pearls, ceramic and glass beads together and quickly made a necklace.
patinaed coper necklace with beads

I hope to make the remaining pendants into necklaces for my upcoming festive line, but until then they must sadly, remain as components. In the meanwhile, here are photographs of some of my favourite impressionist paintings by Renoir, Claude Monet, Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas and Statues by Auguste Rodin taken during my recent visit to the Met, 5th avenue.

Renoir painting
Pierre-Auguste Renoir La Grenouillère 1869
van gogh
Vincent van Gogh -Wheat Field with Cypresses

Paul Cezanne
Paul Cezanne - Still life with Apples
Sunflowers, Claude Monet
Sunflowers, Claude Monet
Edgar Degas
Edgar Degas - Ballet Dancers
rodin statues
Auguste Rodin - Two hands, Thinker
Further Reading: Impressionism Vs Expressionism
I hope you found it interesting
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One day in New York City

If you are here for the We're all ears Challenge reveal , then skip to the end of the post to see the earrings. But if you have five minutes, you could read about my recent  travels and my "New York State of Mind". 
In a New York State of Mind
My USA journey began with a flight to JFK where I was picked by my Aunt and Uncle, and driven to their home in the picturesque Albertson. It was everything I had read about American suburbs - calm and quiet, yet not very far from the main road, surprisingly dotted with Indian and Pakistani stores. It might as well been a villa colony along the ECR if not for the American flag fluttering in the porch of many a house.

The next morning, after depositing my luggage at a charming place in Woodside, near Queens Blvd I left to board a train that would take me to Hudson yards station, wherein began my sightseeing Trip. They say that New Yorkers walk a lot - and by the time I reached Pier 83, near the Intrepid Air and Space Museum from Hudson yard, I realised the truth behind that remark. It was a long brutal walk, considered peanuts by NYC standards. Thankfully, the warehouses along the way provided much needed shade during that terribly hot day. I soon boarded a cruise boat and after securing a seat at the upper half covered deck, waited in anticipation to see Lady Liberty. 

The Landmark cruise, a 90 minute ride on the Hudson river was a great and comfortable way to see the famed Manhattan skyline even on a very hot day. Within minutes of the cruise I could see the Skyscrapers - all concrete and glass. World Trade Center, 9/11 memorial, Empire State building, Battery park were on one side while the other side offered a peak into New Jersey. Contrary to the note on the Cruise website, the cruise neither goes around the Statue of Liberty nor do we get to see it twice. After a brief glimpse from a good distance we took a U Turn to see the famous Brooklyn Bridge and the Williamsburg bridge. I felt sorry for the folks who did not rush to the deck to take their pictures but waited patiently for the boat to turn around; they never got a chance to take pictures of the SOL after that. Sometimes, patience doesn't pay.

The commentary was very informative to begin with, but it got boring towards the end with the guide going on and on about the 9/11 memorial, the great "New York rush hour" and Captain Sully's landing on the Hudson. Maybe with the movie coming up (it has been released now) the guide thought it would be interesting to people, but people got bored and started talking really loudly during the return journey. Instead, we could have spent more time at the statue of liberty as 5 minutes is hardly enough to soak up her splendor. It was however, very interesting, to see people take ferry rides, helicopter rides, go yatching  and yes go jet skiing on the river.
After a quick lunch consisting of a muffin and an apple, I ubered to the Met. The Metropolitan museum of art is heaven on earth for artists, designers and connoisseurs of beauty. I really missed my mom and wished that she got an opportunity to see it as well, so I called her (woke her up in the middle of the night) and described the exhibits as I was walking through the Greek section. People say that those who are not artistically inclined can see 4 sections in a day and those who love art can only see 2. I, on the other hand saw 8 exhibits. I rushed through them as FOMO (fear of missing out) gripped me until they basically threw me out at 5:30 PM. "When am I ever going to get an opportunity like this again", I told myself, forcing my brain into absorbing everything I saw and wishing that I had skipped the cruise and been at the Met at the opening time instead. I will write soon about extraordinary jewelry exhibits and Manus Machina very soon.

I chose to see only three places in NYC and the last on my list was the "Sunset view from the Top pf Rock". I had gotten a glimpse of Central Park earlier on my way over to the MET but as I travelled towards TOR, I was able to appreciate Central park once again, this time only for $5 as I was driven along the 5th avenue. Thank God for share -Uber that nobody wants to share :D My Driver turned out to be a freelance Graphic designer and so he was happy to point out signages and thematic displays of Fashion stores along the famous street. 

fifth avenue new york

Even though I was late for  my TOR appointment I took my time in seeing portions of the Rockefeller center and browsed at Anthropologie to my heart's content. But I missed seeing the inside of St. Patrick's Cathedral and going through more high end stores on that street. If given an another chance, I would do it differently. 
 My image of New York city, like most other Indians is  created based on stories of cousins or relatives who live abroad or is crafted through American Television shows. In my case it was the TV shows like "Sex and the City", "White Collar" and "Castle" that made me visit TOR at sunset. I fell in love with how the Empire state building looked in the "so called evening light" in the shows but only when I actually reached TOR, I realised that the light in those scenes come from the opposite side, meaning that they could been shot during sunrise. I reached the 67th floor around 7 PM awaiting the 7:55 PM sunset but the sun tested all of us by setting at 8:20 PM. By then, both the 69th and 70th floors had become extremely crowded, filled with frustrated people who were disappointed with their dull, unsharp pictures on a very humid and cloudy day. I guess 'just seeing' the Empire state building in all its splendor doesn't hold the magic that it once did in the minds of people. 

 empire state building

Ten minutes after the sunset, I gave the Empire state building one last look and left with a heavy heart for I was leaving New York without seeing my favourite Chrysler building properly.  My return journey was full of drama for I got lost in the subway maze. New Yorkers, I realised much Chennaites are perfectly capable of giving contradicting directions. GPS was also useless considering the number of roads that had closed due to ongoing constructionOne side of most roads were dug up and it took all of my Chennai street smartness to avoid falling into any of them. I was thankful that I had been a city mouse for a while now. After wandering around lost for nearly an hour I reached the Times square. Maybe I was extremely tired and hungry, but to me it looked like someone had setup huge TV screens in Ranganathan Street. I was once again transported to Chennai and quickly reversed my steps to the station. But in a way I was blessed for I got see another glimpse of the Chrysler building as though it was poking its head to say hello to me. 

empire state building at night

After shopping for band aids for my bruised feet and inexpensive drugstore makeup (which is very good btw) I finally reached the alarmingly quiet Woodside by 10:40 PM and heated up some soup that was to be my dinner. My day however was far from being over. My Airbnb host turned out to be a FIT graduate of Indian Origin and we ended up talking about uptil midnight about design, fashion and our ethnicity despite my blasting headache. She was quite surprised at how much I had packed into one day in Manahattan.
The next morning I packed my bags, bid my host and New York adieu as I travelled to New Jersey and that my dear readers was my day in New York. We have come to the end of a long post, which was supposed to be the first in my US series. At some point during typing this post, I started imagining myself to be Carrie writing her column and got carried away, sorry!

  New York Sunset earrings

Coincidentally, this month's We're all ears Challenge is all about skyscrapers and the inspiration post features quite a few from New York. So it only fair that I wrote about my New York experience.   Both the earrings - New York Sunset and Boxed up sky scrapers were made using the Niobium components that I made in my Rainforest leaves earrings class with Marti Brown at Beadfest. I have used the boxy rectangular shapes of the buildings and the sunset colors for my earrings. The seed beads represent the lit up windows and the scrunched up textures (and folds) represent the repair and construction work happening in the streets and in the buildings.

That was my Day in New York City,  I hope you found it interesting

PS: If you are like me and like Billy Joel pop over to listen to his famous In a New York State of Mind  Tamil Folks can always listen to New York nagaram orangum neram
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Budget Shopping in USA

My last post on Beadfest beads was filled with photographs of colorful beads. This one on what I bought is a little duller - monochromatic as I mostly bought metal or metallic paints. You can buy anything and everything you want in USA but when you are on an extremely tight budget, shopping for art or jewelry supplies can be considered a frivolous pursuit. Still, I managed to shop and here is my haul - artsy/crafty and jewelry related things that I bought at Michaels and at Beadfest. Apart from these items I shopped only for food, Disney souvenirs, and yes "Foreign" Chocolates to feed 100 hungry mouths back home :D

Outside the US, the word 'Michaels' conjures strong images of a treasure filled cave like structure (from Alladin) in the minds of crafters. You imagine endless aisles of crafting supplies that are to be reverently bought and carefully used. So when you step in to the store, it is a sort of an anticlimax moment - it is after all, just a craft store, that is going to tempt you to spends three times your budget.
I loved the flowers and art materials (at the King of Prussia store) but felt that the beads were far too expensive. Most beads sold there are from India or China and even at 50% off they were atleast twice their original price. So I bought some artistic wire, wire gauge, mini canvases, Prismacolor pencils for coloring on metal, Pebeo paints (my biggest splurge there), metallic alcohol inks, some rhinestone connectors and metal texturing plates. I also found a really cute Mickey - Minnie T shirt in the kids coloring section for $3.5 that was surprisingly well made and I wore it to Disneyworld. 

 My friends later told me, that they never shop at Michaels without a coupon. I didn't have one, so I checked the price of everything in Indian web stores, their availability or lack thereof and only when I found a bargain I bought it. I swear I have never made so many currency conversion calculations in a single day at the end of which I became fluent in the multiplication table of the number 69. Inspite of my crazy calculations, I still spent about $132 there, which was 2/3rds of my shopping budget for the entire US trip. I left Michaels thanking God for wonderful relatives, who believed in giving me cash gifts, that I could spend on art supplies.

Since I was at Beadfest the entire weekend, I was able to look through the booths more than once which translates into - going overboard my budget even though a lot of what I wanted to buy wasn't available to. My first bead purchase were the decoupaged and resin beads. I have great plans for the Frieda beads and the banana fiber horn. I bought a Xuron cutter for 12g-18g, hard solder paste, a cup burr (which was quite difficult to find) Apart from these I spent bulk of my budget at the Metallaferous booth buying textured metal, chain, bracelet blanks and a locket and at the Parawire booth buying (yes) more wire and 5 in 1 texturing hammer which has been on my list for 3 years now.

I also bought some UV resin to try as my students keep asking me about it, some casted metal for coloring and really cool enamel headpins which was my "best buy". The Artist was selling it for just a dollar a bunch on Sunday afternoon as end of show special. On the last day, I finally gave in and bought some beetle wings and Afghan coins. My mom has been behind my life to get myself some swarovski or cubic zirconia earrings that look like solitaires and not wanting to disappoint her I finally found some luscious earrings with Cubic Zirconia (mine look like solitaries and hers are snowflakes) for the both of us. Also, my parents were getting our apartment painted while I was away and in the middle of all that chaos my mom lost her new (aka my old phone) and was extremely upset. So I got her some swarovski pearls because I was feeling really bad for her and put away some cash for a new phone.

My purchase list had ren wax, polishing pads and Clauss scissors in list none of which I could get at beadfest. So just before I left Philly I had this brainwave to order them on Amazon and get them delivered to my Disney Resort. Unfortunately, only the Ren wax qualified for Prime shipping and was delivered on the last night of my stay in the US. I am still looking for people who are likely to travel to India in the next couple of months and will be willing to carry the rest for me.

What is a good haul post without some freebies thrown in? I got awesome swag from the Ice resin booth - you guys are the best !! (the full story on this later) and some really yummy beads made by Lori Schneider who along with Robin Showstack were my roommates for a couple of days. It was so much fun being with them.

Out of the three beads, the beetle is my favourite (the hieroglyphics beads is the back of the beetle) and I am so happy to have some really cool artisan beads that I can use for challenges and contests.

I realize that I have been incredibly slow in posting about my trip and even when I do, its not in the right order. But then, with one infection after the other, I am all wiped out. All my energy is spent on just preparing for class and getting there on time, that I just don't feel like doing anything else. Finally I made some Jewelry the past weekend for the BNB "A day at the beach" Challenge - Beach sparkle necklace and Color pops necklace. Do check them out and like them to vote for me 

I hope you found it interesting
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How to: Write a DIY Tutorial

Let me open with the disclaimer that I am not a tutorial expert and there are people who are far more experienced than me when it comes to writing design instructions. But as someone who has been writing DIY Jewelry and craft tutorials for both web as well as print, I thought I'll share my learning with everyone. 
Contrary to what people think creating a jewelry tutorial is a hard job. It hard enough when you get paid for it but harder still when you write it for free on your blog. You need to come up with an original idea (that well, will work!), create it, document it every step of the way using photographs, edit the photographs and then write the tutorial. That is just the first part; the second part is promoting it, responding to comments, answering questions, and updating it as you go.  Also ,tutorials are slightly different from "How to" posts such as this one, in the sense that there is a definite product/ process that results from following the tutorial and how to is just a series of steps leading ot varied results
When I started writing tutorials for my blog, I thought if everyone is doing it, why can't I, it must be easy after all. I learned the hard way, that there is a big difference between writing a tutorial and writing an excellent tutorial and I cringe when I look at my old posts. So in this post, I'll talk about the elements that make a tutorial stand out in a great way.

1. Show Finished product images:

This might sound like a no-brainer but there are hundreds (maybe 1000s) of tutorial on the net that do not show clear pictures of end products. Some of them have such tiny pictures enclosed in all sorts of fancy frames that I cannot see the details. Personally, I cannot follow text instructions and often learn how to make a product just by looking at the final picture and the material list. I look at the step wise pictures only if the product is very complicated or if the final product image is very small. 
Also post at least 2 pictures (one full image showing the back, clasp or hook) and one close up. They must be in large size - one landscape and one portrait preferably as it makes your tutorial easily shareable across social media channels. Showing how the item is being used is an added bonus, though not a must.

2. Write a Detailed material list
The craziest part about writing for magazines is that they want a super detailed material list. Interweave specifies that name, size, finish, number, measurement and supplier name must be mentioned for every single consumable that it used. Also, all tools and equipment must be listed. When you write online, it doesn't have to be that specific but it is good to have a clear material list so people know what exactly they need to create the item. When using Affiliate links, do not flood the entire list but use them only when the item is specific or uncommon as a common courtesy.

3. Take Step by Step pictures
A Majority of the craft world seems divided on this. Many say that a great tutorial must show every step (video tutorials might work better in that case) while others say that pictures showing the important or complicated steps are sufficient. I follow my "N-4 or above" rule for tutorials. That is, if there are 10 steps, I show a minimum of 6 steps visually. They can be separate images or a collage provided the images are clear and big enough. A tutorial is no place for tiny fudgy pictures. The idea is that a person who does not understand the language (in which the tutorial is written) must be able to comprehend the making process with just a rudimentary knowledge of the field. 

4. Offer material or technique alternatives

When we write for an international audience, we must keep in mind that materials that are easily available to us might not be available to them. So suggest alternatives. For e.g, if the material list says Swarovski crystals, mention that it can also be created using glass, plastic or coated Chinese crystals. If the tutorial uses artistic wire mention how it can be created using base metal or other coated/plated wire. It might seem self-explanatory to an experienced person but a beginner coming across your post will require that support and guidance. 

5. Discuss design Variations

Unlike Print, when we write for the web, basic courtesy demands that we discuss variations of the suggested idea. Apart from curbing plagiarism, it will encourage people to use your tutorial as a starting point to create new ideas and products. 

Though there are many more good practices, I feel that the above five are an absolute must. As a bonus for all you tutorial newbies out there, here is a sample Tutorial template that I follow for every tutorial of mine. It is not restricted to jewelry making or crafts but can be adapted to any set of design instructions. So do download and share!

How to: Write a Jewelry Tutorial
A Sample Template

1. Introduction: Background of the design, your inspiration, how you chose the materials and what is the application of the idea or design
2. Finished product image no. 1
3. Material list, Material image optional
4. Method - numbered Step by step instructions with pictures
5. Finished product image no. 2, 3.....N
6.Conclusion - Summary if required (for complicated designs), any problems that you faced in the process and how they can be resolved, tips, suggestions, and variations. Add additional images if you have them as variations.
7. Call for action

That's it for today folks, do add your tips on how to write a great tutorial in the comments section and tell me what you think of my tutorial template. If you find the template useful, please share on Social media (twitter, Instagram or Facebook) by tagging it to @jewelsofsayuri
I hope you found it interesting 
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Beadfest beads

Hello folks, thanks for all the comments on Facebook, Instagram, blog and mail asking about my well being. I am truly grateful for your love and affection. As my trip was very short (11 + 1 extra day due to time difference it was very hectic. Out of the 12 days, I spent 4 days travelling, 4 days at beadfest and 4 days sightseeing, apart from being sick for 9 of them (and still am with a horrible cold that refuses to go). But I don't want to keep you guys waiting to hear about my adventures, and so, here is a short post on the beautiful beads that I saw at Beadfest Summer 2016, held at Oaks near Philadelphia, United states of America, between the 17th-21st of August (expo from 19th to21st)

This was my first time at Beadfest and first time in USA so before my Travel I had this question on my mind - what to buy at Beadfest?  Why, Beads, ofcourse, people said, as it is literally in the name "BEAD FEST".  I saw beads, a great variety of them and went around photographing quite a lot as well. Beads were available in every color, shape, size and material possible. It was like an exotic treasure filled cave.  
Friends, who saw my instagram posts asked me if I bought them all, Sadly my answer is no. I visually feasted on them, but I didn't buy any as most beads were from India or China and are available here at atleast half their respective fest prices and I was on a teeny weeny budget. But they were beautiful to see, and wonderful to touch and feel. Here are some of the bead pictures


Semi Precious Beads
I think there was enough Lapis Lazuli there to buy a small house in the countryside. Wonderfully blue and beautifully streaked, lapis was available in every shape possible - coins, nuggets, teardrops, rounds, and cabochons.

There was no dearth of semi precious beads like carnelian and agate either. I found lots of large agate slices in pastel colors and druzy agates in candy shades. Again just with regard to price (without thinking about quality) these were higher in price compared to even American web stores like Firemountaingems, beadaholique or even Autnie's beads (which I consider slightly pricey). But they were extremely yummy to look at.

Pearls and MOP
There were 3-4 types of pearls available - real fresh water pearls, synthetic pearls, Shell pearls, and Swarovski pearls. Most of the pearls were from China or were being sold by Chinese vendors.

The MOP connectors were fascinating and they reminded me of the printed shell buttons that I used in my Valentine showers of love button necklace tutorial here

Most glass beads were Artisan made Lampwork beads or seed beads. I know that manufactured or recycled glass beads are not easily available in America, but I was surprised to see that the Indian vendors not carry them as well. I hope they do realise the opportunity and fill in the gap soon. The following picture was taken on Friday, when the expo was relatively free, I couldn't take any pictures on the weekend as the lampwork booths and by extension the expo was quite packed with people.


Resin and Acrylic
Beadfest has something for everyone in terms of beads. While I saw individual beads being sold $12-$20, I also saw bunches of $3-$5 resin and acrylic beads and loads 1 dollar crystal strands.


I saw lots of different types of beads from across the world - African discs, Tibetan turquoise, Nepal cabs, beetle wings, and Afghan Coins. I recognised a majority of those materials I have come across them in Neena Shilvocks's Caprilicious Jewellery blogposts previously. Oh Neena! You should have been there, you could have gotten all your favourite stuff at one place :)
There were multiple vendors selling Cabochons, but this particular booth was captivating as it had a huge wall of cabs. This image only shows a portion of their display which by itself is drool worthy.

Apart from these types of beads, there are also wooden beads and disks, enamelled beads, metal beads, and Polymer clay beads. If you are in America then beadfest is one of the best places to buy beads for the variety is just fantastic. A really big crowd comes out just to shop for beads at the expo. On Sunday afternoon, I saw and heard so many Indians (Tamil, Kannada and Hindi was spoken freely) that I felt that I was in Alwarpet or RA Puram in Chennai than in Oaks, Pennsylvania. South Indians are obsessed about quality and value and the fact that they were out there, shopping in large numbers only goes to show the quality of merchandise that was being showcased and sold there. 

So what did I buy if not beads? To find out the answer to that question tune in later in the week to see my USA supplies haul.
PS:  I have a small  Giveaway upcoming for Readers in India - Stay tuned!!
 I hope you found it interesting
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