The Element of Play Makes the Artist and Her Display Fresh

Preparing for a studio tour can be all-consuming.

There’s the production, of course. My list of necklaces awaiting completion continues to grow. Even though inventory gets my attention throughout the months preceding the event, it comes down to what one can produce in the last few days.

During this year’s pre-planning for the Sandia Heights Art Tour, I discovered an opportunity to indulge in pure play as I concentrated on displays for my event.

Creativity rang in loudly when I vowed aloud to present my jewelry in a unique way.

The door to the unusual opened with sculpture. Readers of this blog may recall Indigo Raffie, my first sculpture attempt.

Pat, a Collaborheartist, (a group of six artists who meet monthly to produce collaborative projects) stands next to Cougar Woman, a sculpture she designed to show my bracelets.

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Cougar Woman Bracelet Display Form

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Cougar Woman Bracelet Display Form

And, for anklets, there’s a different exhibit:

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, anklet display form

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, anklet display form

The companion leg, pictured below, has yet to be adorned.

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, anklet display form 2

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, anklet display form 2

Inspired by Cindy, another Collaborheartist, I ventured into different waters: re-inventing the plain ‘ole mannequin.

©2012, Cindy Chavez, Free Form Inspirations Dress Form

©2012, Cindy Chavez, Free Form Inspirations Dress Form

My soon-to-be-wrapped mannequin, spurred me to coffee-dye a tablecloth. Once again, it was a new experience to learn about the art/craft, and then practice it.

Coffee gently aged the fabric, intriguing me with subtleties of hue and shape. The experiment took the better part of a Saturday afternoon, but what a fun experience.

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, coffee-dye process

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, coffee-dye process

No one was more surprised than me when I ironed my newly aged piece. (Ironing hardly qualifies as one of my favorite activities.) Yet, there was something particularly satisfying about finalizing my work. According to what I’d read, ironing helps to “set” the natural color.

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, coffee-dyed cloth

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, coffee-dyed cloth

A beaded handkerchief hemline made from four coffee-dyed napkins will complete my new mannequin presentation, named Shelly in honor of the seashells involved.

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Handkerchief-Hemline Sample

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Handkerchief-Hemline Sample

Look for a picture of Shelley, the completed mannequin, in a future post.

In this year’s SHA tour, not only is my jewelry special, but so is its presentation.

How do you play with making your art stand out?