Tribal Echoes – Modern Edge…. Jewelry for the Modern Mom

Tribal Shield Necklace and Earring Set with Leopardskin Jasper Cabochon

Amazingly modern in their graphic design, primitive tribal shield patterns have clearly influenced modern art.  That is why I love working with them in designing.

The necklace set above is made using pieced images of an early aboriginal warrior shield from New Guinea. The pendant is embellished with a large leopardskin jasper cabachon.

For more detail, view this set in my shop, Serra Craft

Here is a photograph of the original shield.

New Guinea Shiled

From Africa, I used a pattern from a Zulu tribal shield for the necklace set from my shop seen below:

Necklace and Earring Set - African Elements Series: Tribal Shield Pendant Set


For more inspiring African and tribal design and decor images visit my Pinterest board, African and Tribal Influences .


Chess Anyone?


One of my all time favorite switchplate creations is Spenser’s Berserker [above]. It is composed of 2 images with corner squares of snowflake obsidian chips. The border motif is a detail from an illustration of a craftsman turning chess pieces, found in the “Book of Games,” Circa 1280 A.D..

The main image is of “the Berserker”, one of the ancient Lewis Chessmen.

The Lewis chessmen are a group of 12th-century chess pieces carved in walrus ivory, discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. They are believed to be Norse in origin – left there by the Vikings around 1200 AD.

The Lewis Chessmen

The photo above is from the collection in the British Museum.

What I love about these chess pieces is how their personalities and primal angst are so clearly read on their faces. The Berserker [the rook, in a modern set] is so tense he’s chewing on his shield!

Lewis_chess_queen_.jpg 344×388 pixels:

kingfrontback384x304.jpg (384×304) King, Chessmen from Isle of Lewis; dragon is bottom panel of back of throne. 12th century.:

The Queen [blue background] and the King [shown back and front] are shown above.

My light switch plate is named Spencer’s Berserker for my favorite U.S. chess master, Spencer Finegold, who inspired the piece.

You can see Spencer’s Berserker at my shop, Serra Craft.

The Lewis Chess Set’s history is full of intrigue and amazing facts. To read more about these amazing chess pieces, use this link.

Switchplate Art: Ethiopian Healing Scroll

Ethiopian  Magic scroll close up 2

The images used to create this light switch plate come from a 19th Century Ethiopian Healing or Magic Scroll.
Healing scrolls were used throughout North Africa in rituals to treat illness in combination with herbal medicines. While the herbal medicines focused on the treatment of physical ills, the healing scrolls were used in addressing the spiritual component of the illness. Healing scrolls were not based in the practice of one specific religion. Instead they were used multi-denominationally.
For more about the fascinating history of Ethiopian Healing Scrolls, and to explore the beautiful graphic designs of the scrolls, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History . And to see more views of this switchplate visit my shop, Serra Craft .


Watercolor Portraits – A Focus on Values

1Stan Miller has a great video on YouTube on painting portraits.  In a very refreshing change from x + y + z = s[kintone]  color formulas in so many watercolor instruction books, Stan Miller focuses on value, not color, in his approach. This is a must see [and must try] video…. because sometimes what we all need is a fresh perspective.

Here’s the link: Stan Miller’s Lesson 16: Painting the Portrait


Painting Watercolor Portraits

Just found a great video on painting a watercolor portrait and thought I’d share!

How to paint portrait Zimou Tan

Zimou Tan’s YouTube video is a joy to watch. It’s a completely talk free format. Starting with the blank watercolor paper and some great baroque music, you get a ‘voyeur’s’ eye view of the evolution of the painting process from start to finish. And there’s something clarifying and focusing about what baroque music does in the brain…. [Somebody has to have studied this…  I know it always helps me to get in the moment when doing calligraphy.] Anyway, by the middle of the short video I felt I was watching Zimou Tan’s thought process through his hand as he painted. Great video! Give it a view!

Channeling the Belle Epoque

…a light switch plate with an intriguing backstory.

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The Belle Epoch Peacock Switchplate is designed with an image of a placed fabric detail from an amazing piece of embroidered fabric. Abstractly beautiful in its own right, this fabric comes with a history…

History of the House of Worth Peacock Dress

Photo above: gown on display at the historic Curzon family house, Kedleston Hall in Derby, England.
Included below is an enlargement of a photo of Lady Curzon in the dress. I am sure she was really happy to have been seated for the photo – weighed down by all that gold!

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For more views of the Belle Epoque Peacock Light Switch Plate , and to browse other wall plate choices with exotic back stories visit my Etsy Shop: Serra Craft.

Is Airbrush Older Than Dirt?

Chevaux BisonI love images…. and hunting for images online is one of my most enjoyable pastimes.  When I was working on the Art Switchplate: The Art of Prehistory – Altamira Bison shown at left, I found out a lot of interesting info.

The image used in this plate is a detail of the ceiling art of the Altamira Caves. Located in the Cantabria region of northern Spain, the ceilings of the Altamira Caves are covered with paintings of bison, bulls and other animals earning the caves the fond nickname of the ‘Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic Art’.

In following the backstory of this image I found an interesting note. Found at the site were hollowed bones, with pigment inside the tube of the bone. Historians believe the prehistoric artists filled the hollowed bones with dyes and, by blowing on the bone tube, used this method to spray paint large areas of pigment, like the red area on the bison’s back in the picture!





Switchplate Art?

African Echoes Kuba Pattern SwitchplateIf you love art, chances are you walls are pretty much filled up. I know mine are. So I began making switchplates that displayed art.  And along the way, not only have I made beautiful miniature functional art pieces for my home and found out some amazing back history on found images used in my creations, but I also grew an artisan business at Serra Craft. The plate shown here is an altered image pattern created from a Kuba Cloth pattern, and embellished with coral and red jasper cabachons.

In this and the following entries, I will share some of my explorations in the studio, and lots of pictures.