If you've been following my blog or my jewelry-making over the last few years,
you'll know that I have a deep affection for china-painted
I remove the old (normally about a century old!) porcelain brooch from the brass c-clamp, clean it gently (the old-timey numbers on the back are such a great part that I don't get a chance to show - they're from the maker of the porcelain blank, and the script is so loop-de-loop and special)
and set it in sterling and fine silver.
When I first began this process, I would get rather weepy over these pieces:
I wondered over the maker, thought about how they would feel knowing that their work would
a more modern song, surely....
I wonder what they looked like, what they talked about as they painted with friends
or if they were alone with the phonograph
like I am in my studio with my country radio...
Mostly, the painters are completely anonymous, and their work is not original, per se, but created from the fashionable templates of the day:
gold at the edges
arts and crafts designs
There is a woman whose work stands out to me with such clarity it's nearly astounding:
She began painting her little cameonas (as she called them) when she and her husband moved to Florida.
They depicted scenes of a rural south, swamps and oceans and
Pretty soon, she was running quite an operation as the popularity of these little things grew:
the one in my palm above is 5/8 of an inch wide by 3/4 of an inch tall. Details
Olive Commons was a small-business owner and a trailblazer:
before I was lucky enough to find her work on eBay, I bought a decal-imitation brooch that was made around the time of her heyday -
a company developed a line that was meant to look like her pieces, just like they do today when a small artist gets popular now!
I have been taking china-painting classes on Tuesday mornings:
me and a quartet of women over 55 and a man who loves to give me a hard time, to whose bait I rise and give him a good "what for!" as the ladies say.
It's quite a delightful scene, with chocolate chip cookies and coffee,
me and the conservative republican china painters of San Jose.
I love every minute (though I resist the urge the defend my beloved POTUS because seriously, what good would it do? I am not going to change well-entrenched opinions!)
Now that I am learning the art, I hope someday to introduce my own pieces into my work
for now, I troll the internets,
searching for the good old stuff that abounds in the right places.
I've still never found anything quite like the tiny art of Olive Commons, and I doubt I ever will:
she was a wonderful artist and an inspiration to me.