Words of late artist Frank Howell...I totally relate!

"There are few days off and no retirement from this entanglement of knowledge, passion and vision that will be molded and converted into creative expression. There are no guarantees of acceptance, understanding or reward, but...the noise inside the mind never ceases. I will paint today, tonight and for as many tomorrows as I am given..." Words of the late artist Frank Howell...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mermaid Wearable Art

After staying up late the last several nights working in the studio, I have a few pieces of jewelry in various different stages of completion.   I did just finish one, and I'm excited to show it to you. I will explain, in very simple terms, how I made it, in case you want to do something similar.

This piece started with a carved bone mermaid that I bought in the southern part of Florida about fifteen years ago.  I never really figured out what to do with her...I had tried several things, but nothing seemed "right."  

           This is where I should insert a picture of the mermaid, but I forgot to take one before I                  started the project.  Oops.  You will see her later down in the post.

So, as I was brain-storming over the mermaid, I was pulling out lots of bits and pieces, and I came across this tiny little gold frame that I had picked up at my favorite monthly estate sale in Mobile.  It had been some sort of miniature art piece before it landed in my hands, but when I found it, it was just like this.  Dirty, and with some gold "squiggles" on the mirror.

This card was on the back. (In case you're wondering, I did "Google" Jerry Burgett, and didn't find anything of interest related to his art.)

I knew that one day I would figure out what it wanted to become...

As I looked at the mermaid, and this little frame, I started seeing something coming together in my mind's eye...and I was getting excited about it.  I started pulling out elements that I could layer, along with the mermaid, onto the mirror.  These added elements needed to help the mermaid tell a story.  So, these are some of the things that I pulled out to use.


pearls and...

sparkly things.

I gathered together the tools that I would need and got to work.

First, I took the card and paper off the back of the frame and washed the mirror.

Then, I squeezed out some E6000 onto a scrap piece of foam board.  Everything I was using was tiny, so to keep things nice and neat, I used a pointed stick to apply the glue.

And I began arranging and layering...

The beautiful mermaid, with silver adornment, a vintage mother of pearl button, some pearls, crystals...

...and then some tiny seed beads and shells.

And, because I think the back is just as important as the front, I needed to work on that. When I removed the old paper, there was a "cavity" of space behind the mirror.  That needed to be filled in so that it was nice and flat across the back- I didn't want to risk the new paper being punched through with fingers handling it.  I used a foam core...just cut it to size with razor knife, and then glued it in place.  It was just the right depth to fill the space nicely!

Then I was ready to paper the back.  This part was fun- digging through all of my pretty papers to find just the right one.  Here are some of the options...

This wonderful handmade paper with marbleized gold paint...

A very dainty and delicate Florentine paper...

A fun, whimsical option that literally spells it out...

More pearls...

Or, this whimsical, fun, beachy one.

I went with the Florentine paper.  It just felt right.  After gluing it on, I used an emery board to soften the edges.

I then followed that with a gold ink pad rubbed around the corners...then, I also rubbed a brown ink pad, as well, for another layer. This also just softens the transition from the paper to the wood, and gives it a little "aged" appearance. 

Next, I measured across the top of the little frame and found the center.  I drilled a tiny hole straight down as a pilot hole for a silver colored screw eye.  I also found an embellishment to add to the top of the frame, between the screw eye and the frame.  It is actually one of the pieces to a two part toggle necklace closure, and reminded me of something that would be growing under the sea.

I added a light blue silk ribbon and a silky off-white cord.

And, here is the finished piece!


...and back.

This was such a fun little assemblage project, using some "treasures" that I had collected over time, and I think it's my favorite piece of all the jewelry I've made!  I will share more in the days to come...

Thanks for stopping by!


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  1. Oh I like your creation a lot what a tiny little frame you used for your mermaid

    1. Thank you! It was tiny...I had it in the studio for several years before I decided what to do with it. Now I wish I could find more, because it's the perfect size for jewelry!
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.