30 November 2008

Clear Water, Clear Mind

SCUBA diving in clear warm water clears my mind, and a result I have new ideas for some earrings to create for this next weekend's The Virgin Artists' 6th Annual Show and Sale in Cupertino.

Look at the lush coral landscape in this minimally impacted area of the Carribean.

And, views like this when I'm above the water sure help!

Code request

21 November 2008

Coral: Slow, Beautiful, and Precious

I ran across the Too Precious to Wear website today http://www.tooprecioustowear.org/
I think the site does a nice job of providing an overview of the affect that coral collecting has; both scientifically and on the local economies. The site also provides a list of alternatives to using coral.

Those of you who know me already know that the sea environment is important to me. A trip to Cocos Island years ago highlighted the difference in fish and crustacean populations in a managed marine reserve vs. the open fishing which goes on in most of our oceans. The marine reserve around Cocos was lush relatively speaking, but our dive guide who'd been visiting for 20 years said that even the reserve was far less lush than it had been in the past. The creatures go in and out of the reserve, and many are fished and can't come back.

On several trips to Belize over the years, I've noticed the dwindling coral populations and the decline in reef fish populations. Since the fish help the coral by cleaning off algae and the coral are often the nurseries for the fish, when one or both are affected, both populations decline.

Growing at rates of 0.6 cm - 3.9 cm / year, the colonies of tiny animals known collectively as coral are very vulnerable to man made disruptions. And, since they are animals (not just the calcified shells of these animals that people collect in their homes once they are dead), I prefer to leave them alone. My jewelry is designed to showcase their beauty and share the experience of seeing coral without using coral directly.

I travel with molding compound and sit on the beach with dead coral, shells and lava bits I gather from the beach. I mold these natural objects so I can take their textural beauty home with me. When I'm finished molding the coral, shells and lava bits, I put them back where I found them so that nature can continue on with it's processes. The bits eventually decompose, but in the meantime they can be homes for tiny creatures.

Once I'm back home, I use the molded textures in my creations, and all these years later I'm still amazed by the variety of shapes I find. I'm also amazed by the similarities I can find in coral textures from different parts of the world.

I've include two pictures that show some of the coral diversity I've found and incorporated into my jewelry. The "Modern Cameo" line of jewelry as seen in "Craters" at the top of this post, ask the question "What's more precious? The profile of a person you don't know in a traditional cameo, or nature?"

If you're interested in the science, you can read more about coral growth rates at these sites:



If you'd like to see more coral textures in fine silver, check out my website: http://sherrycordova.com/

20 November 2008

Hydraulic Press Demo

At last weekends Metal Arts Association of Silicon Valley meeting we watched a demonstration of the Hydraulic Press by local artist and educator Edith Sommer.

Here are some of her aluminum dies and resulting copper forms, along with some of her other tricks such as gasket rubber to make the shape deeper and wire taped to cardboard for embossing.

Edith Sommer demonstrating the hydraulic press

18 November 2008

Summer in the City

View of the Cliff House from sea level

There's nothing like a November day that feels like summer with clear skys and temps in the high 70s and low 80s. :) And, it was on the first day I've spent time in this part of Golden Gate Park - right on the beach. Soooo perfect.


WPA Murals in the Beach Chalet

A Beach Chalet "Sand Castle"

Some friends, who are fellow jewelry artists, and I visited the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design on Sutter St. We viewed the jewelry exhibits, participated in the toy jewelry / photo exhibit, and made some jewelry out of toys.

Catherine Witherell and her toy jewelry creation

Patrik Kusek and his toy ring

Pat Accorinti and her pipe cleaner and button necklace

13 November 2008

Updated the Website for an Upcoming Show

I've been very busy lately updating the website for my upcoming group show with The Virgin Artists. Fellow artist Adea Fong created new buttons for the artists joining the show this year, and she also created a new button for our newest category "Home Decor." 

The site design we collaborated on 3 years ago has been nicely received and we hope you enjoy checking it out. We've freshened up a few of the general information pages with images from our artists that Adea has added text to. It's really nice to have a graphic artist help us look as professional online as we do in person.

In this 6th year of the art show and sale we'll have fourteen artists, 3 of whom have never sold their work before. Eight of the artists are returning from last year. All the artists live in the San Francisco Bay Area and create their art by hand themselves. We have artists who create art jewelry, art glass, ceramics, gourds, home d├ęcor objects, and fiber arts.

If you've enjoyed the show in the past, you'll notice that we have a new venue and new show days. We've listened to your feedback, and are holding the show on Saturday and Sunday December 6th and 7th from noon - 6pm.

Our new show location is
The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, located at 10060 Bubb Rd, Cupertino, 95014.

08 November 2008

Bactrian Treasures, Velvet da Vinci, Maya Lin, YSL, and Stanford Taiko

Friday was a gorgeous fall day in San Francisco.  Clear skies and warmer than average temps were much appreciated in our day spent out and about in the city.

In the back of my mind, I knew there was a  mint in SF; and I had visited mints in other cities. Friday I noticed the fortress-like SF Mint for the first time just as public transportation was rolling by.

The Bactrian Treasures at the Asian Art Museum were worth the visit. They were made of very high karat gold, and made with different techniques. Many were made of sheet, many were created with the repousse' and chasing technique, and some looked cast (although the descriptions on technique were often missing from the descriptions.) The pieces had great range, with the clearest garnet cabachons I've seen, inlaid turqoise, and elaborate sword decorations.

The crown shown on the National Geographic site for this exhibition can be taken apart and laid almost flat; fueling conjecture that the crown was worn by a nomadic princess.

The Pendant Show and re-invented recycled jewelry of the Radical Jewelry Makeover sponsored by Ethical Metalsmiths are accompanied by an exhibition of Jillian Moore's new work at Velvet da Vinci. The friendly staff at the gallery was very informative about the jewelry makeover project. 

At the De Young Museum, Maya Lin's installation art, Yves Saint Laurent's artwork, Ruth Asawa's hanging wire sculptures, and a view from the tower at the de Young Museum were capped off with a listen to the Stanford Taiko groups first two songs.

The Academy of Sciences as seen from the tower of the De Young Museum.

Maya Lin's "2x4 Landscape" installation in the lobby of the De Young reminded me of favelas.

If you know if anyone wore this YSL wedding dress, I'd be interested to know who it was.

Having learned Ruth Asawa's basic technique from Nancy Banks at a Metal Arts Association of Silicon Valley meeting this year, it was very nice to see Ruth's work in person. 

The Stanford Taiko group performed in front of Maya Lin's installation inside the De Young Museum.

01 November 2008

Going Vertical

Thanks to Richard Hart. His Aug 2007 Ganoksin post for the idea to create a custom flex shaft hanging stand with hardware store parts has come to life. We spent some time in the plumbing aisle at the hardware store (believe it or not - only 1 trip!) and made Richard's idea come to life in our garage today.

I was sooooo tired of the old stand banging the flex shaft into the wall, that I traded it with a friend last month for a stationary stand for the "real" workbench. That left a void in the 'dirty' working area of the garage, and the new industrial looking hanging system fits in well.

With 3 preset adjustable heights and 3 spots to hang the flex shaft on the cross member, I'm all set. The shelf bracket is already coming in handy as a place to hang the rubber fish pen. :-) Now I'll be able to find my pen, the cut-anything-rough cutters, as well as the copper tongs for the nearby pickle.

Halloween Candy - Eye Candy

On Halloween, friends and I admired the work of Michael Zobel and Peter Schmid of Atelier Zobel. Both designer/owners were at de Novo gallery in Palo Alto for a trunk show.  The artists are as enthusiastic about their work as the rest of us are.