Monday, January 5, 2015

Profiles in Artistry - Monica Weber-Butler

British artist Monica Weber-Butler is a Facebook friend and recently posted a photo of a beautifully whimsical necklace she created. I was so enchanted with the construction that I had to know the story behind it. 'Bird Song' is so well thought out that I thought I'd share her process with you.  

The 2000 year old small fishing village of Beer, in south west England, has been my home for the past 14 years. Since the village sits in a cliff's crevice, the views of land and sea are spectacular, and since every road goes either up or down, perspective is ever changing. Out of my bedroom window, bird's nests are at
'Birdsong- Refuge for the Soul'
eye level even though they sit at the top of tall sycamore trees. Yet, as I walk down to my studio, I'm dwarfed by those very same trees! With seagull nests, the opposite is true: built high up among the chimneys - but at eye level as I walk down the steep roads. Time and again these sightings have made it to my sketchbook: page after page filled with drawings and doodles of leaves, branches, nests, birds and bird houses in all shapes and sizes. Moreover, my days are punctuated by bird song, from the optimistic dawn chorus greeting the new day to the soulful song of the robin redbreast bringing the day to a close, reminding me that it's time to finish up and go back home. Unsurprisingly, my "feathered neighbours" were the inspiration for this necklace.

Following are the steps Monica took to create the necklace. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Birds, branches and nests:
I drew a few patterns to use as a guide when shaping the branches.  Each branch was individually sculpted/textured and tiny cutters were used to create the leaves, flowers and the perforations at each end. The body of the birds were sculpted, a tiny leaf cutter was used to create the wings, and an embossing tool (ball stylus) was used to mark the eyes. Once the birds were dry, a hole was drilled through the center of the body. The nests were made using a mold of a tiny acorn and a dapping tool was used to shape & hollow the PMC3 inside the mold.

The bird house:
I designed several bird houses and created paper templates for each of the components. Model railway texture plates were used to create the detailed tiled roof and wood plank walls. All the parts were textured, cut, shaped and allowed to dry, and were then assembled with water (I seldom use paste!) for a clean and sharp finish.

To create the clasp and other decorative elements, Monica used a combination of molds and stamps. The individual dangling birds were hand sculpted.

All pieces were refined in the leather hard stage, fired at 900°C/1650ºF for two hours, wire brushed and antiqued with liver of sulphur patina for a vintage look.

Long "V" shaped necklaces appeal to me greatly and I revisit that design time and again; they remind me of vintage pieces. The two main branches are a mirror image, designed to frame the bird house in the center. The other branches are arranged in different directions to emulate a tree and to create visual interest. 

Decorative moving elements:
Every nest was filled with three 2mm white freshwater pearls bound together with wire to form the clutch of eggs. Individual leaves, pearls, nests, a clutch of eggs, birds, and a branch were each threaded together with wire and carefully looped in place. Other components were wired directly to the branches.

The bird house has a bird and a clutch of eggs inside. The eggs were placed inside the house first, followed by the bird. A head pin wire was fed through the bird's back, the center of the clutch of eggs and the base of the bird house, and then looped onto the flower charm, thus enabling the bird to move inside the house.

Although the hustle and bustle of daily life can be overwhelming, when I wear the necklace I'm reminded of home, and I find a refuge for my soul.


Leaping Frog Design's said...

Beautiful and inspiring.

Lora Hart said...

We thought so too Ms Frog. ;) Glad you enjoyed the profile.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the process. Inspires me to be more organized!

Martha Biggar said...

Great story!

Perenelle by Tania Marzuca, Instructora Certificada por Art Clay World México. said...

A breathtaking piece and process!! I love it!!! Thanks for sharing... Amiga linda tráetelo para que nos lo presumas!!!! :D

Gina said...

BEAUTIFUL!!! Just like my cousin!