Friday, April 30, 2010

Rebecca Clay

Sometimes situations which you would least expect turn out to be wonderful sources of inspiration. This is the story of Rebecca Clay, founder of The Bra-cketbook Foundation, which makes purses out of bras and donates all the profits to breast cancer research.

Rebecca grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, went to work for IBM in Atlanta and Tampa then returned to Greenville to become an entrepreneur opening an interior design business.

She lived an active lifestyle, loved to water and snow ski. At the age of 47, Rebecca was stricken with breast cancer. Suddenly her whole world changed. She said that death was the farthest thing from her mind but suddenly she had to confront it. She became more spiritually aware and found solace in the words of Mother Teresa:”We all live in quiet desperation.”

Rebecca endured a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

One day, while at an auction with friends, Rebecca had a eureka moment. She went home and began to experiment. She came up with a way to make a purse out of a bra. 

You don’t actually see the bra unless you look inside. She says,”You don’t want your bra to show while you wear it”. Her purses are like ornate works of art and she donates all her profits to breast cancer research.

These are great conversation pieces! I'll have to say when I met Rebecca I was immediately taken with her warmth and bubbly personality not to mention her great pieces of wearable art.

- Jan Francoeur

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sea Life Sculpture by Vicki Sutton

New clay sculpture by Vicki Sutton has just arrived!

These fabulous pieces hang on the wall and range from 6 to 18" tall.

Vicki, a North Carolina artist, talks about her work.

My passion for clay developed during my time as a student when taking my first life modeling class and while earning my bachelors degree in Landscape Architecture at the College of Design at North Carolina State University. For over 18 years I have been expressing myself through clay.

My forms are heavily influenced by texture and pattern. Starting with a slab or coil of clay and then then twisting, tearing or pinching a unique form emerges.

While shaping each creation, I can feel the connection between the clay and the subject. This allows each piece to have its own individual voice.

There are a lot more pieces in this collection! Please stop in and check them out or to purchase or see the sizes go to our website by clicking here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Great Timepieces by Carol Bell & Marc Gaiger

We are getting some fabulous pieces in this spring from old and new artists. One studio whose work we've been carrying for several years is Marc's Studio.

"Timepieces Clocks" are a collaboration of Carol Bell-Ceramic Artist and Marc Gaiger-Metal artist. These one-of-a-kind clocks feature assorted shapes, powdercoated color finishes and faux painting with handmade ceramic tile that has incredible glazes. The quartz movement has a lifetime warranty and they even custom paint the hands.

They are very beautiful....and the prices are great.

Marc Gaiger and Carol Bell have been professional artists for over 20 years. In 2000 they began collaborating ceramics and metal and have been producing Timepieces Clocks together.

This is the first time we've had their work on our website because the clocks fly out so fast that we don't have time to get them on the website before they're gone!

One great feature about their bigger clocks is that they can be either a wall clock or a mantle clock. They've engineer a clever system so it can be easily be changed from one to the other.

Carol talks about herself and Marc. "I have been an artist, potter and educator for over 35 years. The joy I receive from getting to make art, play in clay and show others how to think outside the box is really so rewarding to me. My slogan for life is "Be Creative Be Happy" ! My creations make people smile and that is my reward for doing all the hard work involved with being self-employed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jewelry 10 the Work of Cynthia Chuang and Tsai Erh-ping

Always a treat for the eyes our new pins by Cynthia Chuang and her husband Tsai Erh-ping have just arrived.

These two artists create pins depicting fish, lizards, birds, hippos, ladybugs, chameleons and butterflies. They bring them to life with bulging, expressive eyes of clay slip, voluptuous body sections, tendrils that wobble, slinky bead tails and thin metal legs that jiggle!

The two artists grew up in Taiwan, Tsai attended the National Taiwan Academy of Art in the late 1970s, where he met his wife and creative partner, Cynthia Chuang.

Since they found little creative opportunity in their native land they immigrated to the US and pursued Master's degrees at Parsons School of Design.

After completing their degrees, Tsai and Chuang traveled across the US, visiting museums and national parks. In their road trips, they took inspiration from the subtle hues of rock formations, the colors of fiery fall foliage, the texture of different soils and the strata exposed on hillsides.

The couple began experimenting with jewelry making techniques in 1984 while living in a small New York apartment. As space was limited, their first kiln was very small and located in the bathroom, hidden from the landlord who complained about the mysteriously high electricity bills.

Porcelain and clay inlay formed the body of the first broaches, and Tsai made these using Koji ceramic techniques. The method is found in Taiwanese temple decoration. It is a type of soft porcelain fired at low temperatures.

Our current collection contains dogs, fish, birds and other animals. See a few on our website by clicking here .

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring in New Bern NC

Every year I am delighted and astounded when April comes around! We moved to New Bern in 1989 in May, after the rush of spring flowers was over, so we lived here an entire year before we knew how breathtaking it is.

I'm having a one person show at the gallery in September so have been out taking photos of things to paint (I do this EVERY year). Over the past few years as our gallery business has grown I've had less and less time to paint. But this year I've given myself this deadline and am excited to be painting.

I have started doing some small "plein air" paintings in oil, they are more impressionistic than my watercolors, and yesterday I stretched a large piece of watercolor paper to do my new bridge/skyline painting.

Here are a few photos I took this year to paint from. I seldom paint on site. For me painting is a solitary thing, I like to get swept away and if I'm somewhere where people can talk to me it kind of breaks the spell.

When I take photos they are not always "this is exactly what I am going to paint" they are often this is where I am going to start the painting or the structure of it.

Sometimes Michael will say "what are you looking at?" because what I'm seeing with my eyes and how I know I am going to paint it are two different things.

Jan Francoeur

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Bern Cooks 300 Years of Good Food

I was asked if I would be willing to work with Merci Clinic and the New Bern 300th Anniversary Committee to produce a cookbook. ALL proceeds go to Merci Clinic.

We get asked every day for donations and frankly we just can't do it all but in this case I was honored to help.

In fact all the images we used in this cookbook are available at Carolina Creations as prints. Click here to see those.

You can purchase the cookbook online by clicking here. It's $15 plus shipping.

New Bern Cooks! offers a variety of recipes, notes and helpful hints. There are even a few recipes from Switzerland! Decendants of the city's founder, Baron Christophe de Graffenreid, were gracious enough to send recipes.

Of course, a book written in Eastern Carolina must have many traditional favorites. Everything from syllabub to cornbread and delicious seaford recipes are included.

To retain historical perspective, recipes ere also collected from the Tryon Palace library.

The cookbooks are available at Carolina Creations.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New Painting on the Horizon

A lot of our customers are asking when I'm going to do a painting of the new bridge.

This morning I went out and took some photos.

Because this is really a complex thing to paint I have to think about it for a while and do some sketches to figure out how I'm going to tackle it.

Here are some of the photos. You'll notice how the Neuse River Bridge is disappearing into the fog. It was an interesting morning on the river!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Home Tour Tiles

Every year I do tiles of the homes on the Spring Home and Garden Tour.

I just finished them tonight!

The Tour is this Friday and Saturday, April 9 & 10.

On Friday night we'll have a reception at Carolina Creations for the Home Tour Ticket holders and all of you are invited as well. Stop in and have a glass of wine, 5-8 pm.

The Arts Council will be open that evening too.

I've been doing the art for the home tour for the past 4 or 5 years and this year I even did the layout of the brochure and poster.

Here are a few of the tiles and the painting that was used on the po
ster and brochure.

They are available for purchase. $54 each. They are 8 x 8" or 6 x 8".

I can do tiles of your home. Custom tiles are $84 for the 1st one, $54 of each additional tile of the same image.

The painting of the art work on the home tour is available as a signed and numbered print. Click here for sizes and prices.

Town is just stunning right now, tulips, dogwood, wisteria, all in bloom at once. I hope you can come and see the homes and gardens!

- Jan Francoeur

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Paul Bendzunas Hot Glass

We've just gotten some new pieces from Paul Bendzunas. I think Paul was one of the first glass artists we ever represented. We've been carrying glass for about 10 years now.

Paul talks about how he makes his work. "
Our glass is all blown from molten glass using five foot long hollow stainless steel tubes called "pipes". Each piece is started with a gather of the base color. The glass is gathered by twirling the pipe with its end submerged in the molten glass. Layers are then added that either contain designs, or clear glass, or colored glass.

The largest "tank" in the studio contains crystal, or clear glass. We also have a smaller furnace which melts three smaller crucibles, or pots, full of varying colors. These run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If they are emptied and cooled for a vacation or repairs, it takes several days for the glass to become ready to use again.
When the piece is finished except for the lip, or top rim, it is removed form the pipe by attaching a solid rod, or "punty" to its bottom and then being broken loose from the pipe. The top lip is finished, and it is placed into a special kiln, called an annealer to hold it at 910 degrees F. for several hours and then slowly allow it to cool.

To see more of Pauls pieces or to order click here.

Paul was born in Oswego, New York in 1951. He earned his BSEd at the University of Georgia, in Athens. He minored in sculpture, becoming fascinated with glass while in school.

He subsequently studied at Penland School of Craft. He then joined a cooperative craft community and continued to teach himself, designing and making his own equipment, developing his colors and refining his forms.

In 1980 he married Barbara, a potter, and began his own studio and family. They have a daughter and twin boys.

In 1990, the family bought land and a hand built house "We chose our place here because I need to have contact with the land. I can walk out my door and be in the woods. Our house faces a woods, complete with a creek with ravines and beaver dams. It is like living in a park. My images reflect what is around me. When I worked in my old studio, I had to go somewhere else to recharge. Now I can do it walking from the studio to the house."

When asked why he chose glass for his medium: "I like the immediacy of glass. I can conceptualize and finish a piece in one process. Glass is like watercolor. It needs to be in your mind ahead of time and done swiftly. If you lose a piece, you learn something and go to another. You learn to see the potential of the work and make allowances for those special things that happen when it is in process. You save the 'mistakes' you like and correct the others."