by Judy Spiers
Mother’s Day came a day early this year – Saturday – for those who attended Karen Lucas’ annual Mother’s Day Tea at the Gallery on the Hill, in Graham.
The fact that it was wet and windy outside did not deter guests – men as well as women – many of whom are artists or aspiring artists themselves who gathered to leisurely view the art filling her studio. Lucas, whose festive attire included a flower and feather-bedecked hat, provided a delicious assortment of teas and treats.
“The whole Mother’s Day Tea got started three years ago as a customer appreciation time, and to show the art work of a mother and daughter, Doris Hansen and Sharon Johnson,” Lucas explained. “It turned out to be a fun time for people to get together, and to show appreciation for all the moms who support the gallery.
“As a mom, a grandma, and a great-grandmother, I know how hard it is for women just to find time for themselves,” Lucas continued, “and the Gallery gives women the chance to come in, relax, and socialize. Men and children are involved, too, of course, but the majority are women, aged 50 and above, who have lost their jobs or who have retired and now have time to do something they’ve always wanted to do.”
When asked what’s compelled her to hold the Tea, Lucas pointed to three things. “The response has always been so good. It’s a great way to show gratitude to mothers. And mothers always have so much fun with it.”
Looking from table to table of women who were relaxing, sipping their tea and chatting, it was clear Lucas was correct. This year, the featured artist was Margie Holmes who displayed her latest collection of jewelry she’s crafted.
“For us women, we like to wear our jewelry. It’s wearable art,” Holmes explained.
Jewelry is not the only art form that engages Margie’s creativity. Having written various screen plays, books and magazine articles, she is currently working on a series of novels.
“I am currently working on a mystery book series about a group of women who belong to a club called the “COWS,” or “Crazy Old Women’s Society,” (the equivalent of the Red Hat Club, but for writers). The club is dedicated to solving murder mysteries,” Holmes said seriously. She thought for a moment and then chuckled, saying she’d like to start one here.
“Writing takes a long time to do.” she sighed. “When I create jewelry, it goes far more quickly and is a welcome change.”
Margie hasn’t just made jewelry, she’s taught it as well. She expressed amazement that, even though she would give everyone in a class the same assignment, every piece came out different.
“Jewelry making is like that – unique to each individual artist,” she said. “I’ve been making jewelry for about seven years now, and there’s still more to learn. It is a very creative art form.”
The many pieces on display Saturday illustrated one-of-a-kind designs, from heavy to whimsical, and from antique to dichroic glass, which is probably the most modern.
“The dichroic glass is fused together in a kiln, then heated at 500º in the flames of a Bunsen burner. It is then formed and put it into molds of various shapes. It is when the foils are heated and fused by heat that they explode into all their amazing colors. I probably sell more dichroic glass jewelry than any other type,” Holmes said.
That certainly does not mean that dichroic glass is the end-all material used in the jewelry she makes. One necklace shown at the Tea featured long, thin turquoise cylinders with copper beading, and much of her jewelry had a variety of metals and many precious gems and stones.
“In my opinion, Ellensburg blue opal is one of the prettiest stones in the world. It’s been so highly valued by collectors that it’s getting very hard to find,” Holmes said with conviction. “I love the process of combining metals with stones and gems. For many years now I’ve attended gem shows constantly.”
Combining her knowledge of gems with classes in metals released a creative source she hadn’t had access to previously.
Holmes undertook two courses in metal and design to learn her craft and has been working at it ever since. She may start by designing on paper, but once the creative process begins, unexpected things often happen.
“Sometimes the metal won’t do what you expect it to, and that’s the surprising part to me as an artist. A fleck of metal may land in some unintended place and the art takes on a life of its own. It’s hard to ever duplicate that,” Holmes said.
“The dragonfly necklace was the hardest I’ve ever made,” she said in earnest. “The dragonfly is sterling silver with copper inlay and garnet and filigree wings.”
To the less experienced eye, it appears to be made with red and copper beads. In fact those “red beads” are actually red fresh water pearls that are placed alternately between larger silver and copper beads. The pendant is made of hammered sterling silver with a filigree, or ornamental openwork of a delicate and intricate design, in rows of tiny metal balls that line the dragonfly’s wings.
“Working on such a small scale is part of what makes advanced jewelry making so interesting and fun,” according to Holmes.
“Even though I like the challenge of working on something new like this, to me, vintage jewelry is the most fun,” Holmes said with admiration, as she pointed to another piece. “This one has pink and blue crystals, bronze fire crystals, and antique gold leaves.”
Holmes fascination doesn’t end with the jewelry, but the history of it as well.
“I’m an avid watcher of Antique Road Show. It’s amazing some of the pieces they show there.”
“I like to travel to other places and find fascinating things. For instance, what became the focal point for this necklace came from Australia,” Holmes shared, pointing to a necklace that had a pendant with two small ivory-looking pieces that suggested Aboriginal design.
She moved quickly to another piece. “This one is made of beads and vintage brass – jade and amethyst – which I found in Australia on my last trip.”
By contrast, Holmes, who resides in Buckley, pointed to a necklace with a deep, clear, blue pendant which she’d gotten from a great aunt and designed the rest around.
Also from Buckley, Tea Party attendees Judy Grimes and Joan Johnson clearly enjoyed the opportunity to hear about the jewelry maker’s first-hand experiences. But Holmes was not alone as an artist, as Johnson is one also.
“I am Aleut Alaska Indian,”Joan explained. “I’ve only recently discovered a talent I didn’t even know I had: painting on feathers.”
“In the past I did pencil drawings,”Johnson said. “But a drawing can take anywhere from one to five hours. I like using paints better because they’re so much less time-consuming. I really love painting on feathers – I think I’ve found my niche,” she said, pressing her hand over her heart.
Johnson went on to explain that to do feather painting, one’s mind must be clear of any anger or resentment, or negativity.
“I must think good thoughts and good prayers as I work – especially if my art is to be given as a gift because what you feel as you create, is what the person will feel when they receive it.”
Johnson was quite taken by the feather paintings on display in Lucas’ gallery.
“I’ve only been here once before this,” Johnson confided. “But there is so much to do here. I see there is an all-day class coming up, “Song bird on a Feather with Julie Thompson,” next Friday, May 13th, where people will learn to paint a song bird sitting on a purple thistle. I’m signing up!”Johnson declared.
Joan was not alone in her admiration for another new artist’s work, Jake Hose, the creator of the Seattle Cat Series. His work is on display at the Gallery on the Hill, which will showcase his vibrant and whimsical art next Sunday, May 15th from 2-5 pm, to give everyone the opportunity to meet this distinctly creative and talented man.
In addition, Karen Lucas’ Gallery on the Hill has a host of classes scheduled over the summer months, including classical still-life painting and a beginner’s photography class, along with painting in acrylic, oil, and water color; Lucas also has instruction in portraits and figure painting, feather painting, and classes that will help you on your own project.
For more information, contact Karen Lucas directly at the Gallery on the Hill; or (253) 847-0858 and www.lucasart.net.
© 2011 All rights reserved by Judy Spiers
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