Memories – Oksana Prokopenko

11 11 2009


The Image Not Made By Human Hand

The Image Not Made By Human Hand




I got this photo yesterday and it brought a wave of emotions and memories. This is the first icon that I made in glass. This is the one that got it all started. I carried this image in my mind for years.
It’s a very strong icon, strength being a spiritual quality primarily, and aesthetic one when it come to icons.

I remember being taken over by something larger than life itself from the very start. The only way to describe the creative process that was happening is to call it mystical: time expanded and stopped, eternity took over, glass seamlessly flowed into place, all the while I existed in a state of profound peace.

When it was done, my husband and other practical voices around me strongly advised me to put a price tag on it and put it out on the market. Instead, again in that same state of peace and quiet, I brought it to a friend’s house-a friend who happened to be an Augustinian priest. His house was filled with monks and nuns that day, something was celebrated when they looked at it, their faces changed and there was quiet in the room. My husband knew what I had known from the start-this was not for sale, neither was is for keeps.

The icon now is the sole image in the office of that priest, who is now the Head of the Augustinian Order of the Eastern Hemisphere, in Villanova, PA. Everyone walking into his office sees it. He told me, ” I sit them in front of it, and leave them for a few minutes alone, and half of their problems go away. ” Those that do not, acquire a different taste, a different perspective.

I sometimes get asked, why did I let that one, the first one go, without even taking a picture? Well, not taking a picture was silly, I agree but letting it go was not. It was an act of reciprocity, what I received – I shared. And in giving it away- I came alive, and continued on creating, or as iconographers say — co-creating.

The icons travel. Sometimes, when there is a place for an icon out there, and in a strange mystical way, spirit (what they call inspiration in the art world) finds an iconographer somewhere and besieges him to create. And create he does, not knowing where the icon will go, not knowing why. But trusting, trusting fully, listening, following on the subtlest of hints, and then letting go.


The Creation Process – Annette Piper

17 08 2008


A lot of people ask me how I manage to create the pieces that I do.  Its not that they’re that complex, but even simple pieces can take a lot of organizing!  


Unlike some designers who start with a design in mind, I start with a beautiful stone or strand of stones.  Beautiful to me of course.   When I look at them I see the possibilities of how they could be in a finished piece that would be attractive to wear, even if they don’t look that spectacular all by themselves.  


Some pieces you just know are going to be stunning and going to be snapped up quickly.  Others may quietly achieve and these can’t be discounted as there has to be items for those people who don’t like their jewellery to loudly announce their presence.


Once I have the stones I look at the colour, patterns, texture and automatically, possible combinations are being imagined.  I consider them all and those that may have some merit I haul out and place next to the stones, to see if there is that ‘spark’ that will make them irresistible, or whether there is a gentle acceptance of each other. 


Sometimes the possibilities that I imagine so vividly end up sitting there with their backs to each other in a standoff situation.   It’s okay, I realize I’m not always right.


After the basic combination is there, this is followed by moving things around and often a partial mock up to see if it will work.  Once that shows promise, it is ready to be completed.  

A combination like this can take quite a while to get just right

A combination like this can take quite a while to get 'just right'




With some of my more complex combinations it starts off the same way – to see if the individual stones looks great together.  Once I have that right, then I start tipping quantities into a container and keep adding to the mix until the overall look is ‘just right’.   Then comes the construction.


It can be quite a lengthy process.  The actual creation time may take half an hour or it may take days.  (Some pieces are very reluctant to change their state in those latter cases!)   The actual construction is usually fairly fast, but I have to be in the ‘mood’.   If I’m not, regardless of how good the combination is, it just won’t have the pizzazz of the pieces I make when feeling quite passionate about them.


It could reasonably be said that there is a little bit of me in all my pieces – through the creations process of my inspiration, my skill and my passion.  So when people buy my jewellery, they are buying a little touch of me too.

The Creation Process: Divine Tribulations – Oksana Prokopenko

29 06 2008

The Angels knew it was about to happen. I had been swimming for a while now, and, emboldened by the smoothness of the journey, I started to believe I was the one in charge.

Swimming had been a perfect metaphor for life creative. Until I hit a bend in the river, that is. Unable to see what was ahead, gripped by a sudden fear, I tried going against the current. When that failed, I decided to build a house on the river bend. A solid house, for I was convinced that I knew how things ought to proceed. A house on sand it was.

The angels came bearing gifts, gifts a creative could only dream of: new ideas, new images, new ways, a fresh new start.

But my house was closed. I shut the windows and locked the doors. I lowered the blinds so that not a shard of light could get through. I was convinced I could go on doing what I had been doing. I refused to let go of the ways that had worked before. I refused to acknowledge they weren’t working.

The angels camped outside, waiting.

Part of me yearned for them to break through – they would not. Patience and compassion were more their style.

My defenses gave in, I slipped into mourning of ways long gone.

“Let it go, let it go,”- they whispered.

“No, no, no,”- I whispered back.

They proceeded gently.

“Yes,”- eventually answered my soul. I surrendered to their magic, letting go at least for now of control, my idea that I could control!

No, I do not, I control little if anything.

I slowly allowed myself to go with the flow, guided through the up and down of the waves, until the next bend in this river, and another visit from the angels.

The Creation Process – Maria Iliadou

21 05 2008

I am presenting myself to you here as a doll maker. I am an artist that deals with many forms of Art by being (usually) good at it. But I am here to share with you my experience (not a long one I might have to admit) as a doll maker.
The process of creating a doll needs time and patience. The dolls I am dealing with are rag dolls. They are one of a kind (like many other handmade items) and rare in the market business.

pandora - one of my sold creations

Usually artists that make hand-sewn dolls start with a pattern. I don’t use any patterns. I draw the doll’s body each time on a piece of white fabric (the size is random but they come out from 17cm to 20cm, but they can be made also much bigger when it comes to custom orders) then I cut off a big piece of it (with spaces around the doll’s body) and I start sewing it with my hand (I don’t use a sewing machine). I sew it twice and then I start filling it with cotton. The body parts of the doll don’t come out always the same, because sometimes the fabric might rip off from the sewing or while I fill it (you have to follow a certain technique so that you can make the doll’s body parts same in size and length and it needs patience so that you wont rip off anything while you fill it). I usually rip it off with the small pair of scissors I use while I push the cotton in, basically because I get angry quite easily. I am hot blooded after all and that’s not a benefit when it comes to doll making! Usually this is the longest procedure until you fill the doll’s body with cotton. Also the head might not come out round cause after sewing it, it might take different kinds of shapes if you don’t pay attention to that while you make it! But this can be useful if you make the spooky dolls I make! At that point, the doll’s body doesn’t need to be perfect!

After that I am “sewing” the doll’s hair. I am using different kinds of yarn. The mohair is my favorite because its really soft and looks like real human hair! Most doll makers that make fabric dolls tend to use sock yarn and the regular kind of yarn, which makes the doll’s hair look like she has dreadlocks! This doesn’t look good if you want to leave her hair down! On the other hand if you want to make her a ponytail or different haircuts but with her hair up, then this kind of yarn can be useful. So, let’s get to the process again. As I’ve said before I use different kinds of yarn, a different for curly hair, a different for long and rich one etc! I sew it with a needle that is used also for knitting. That may take some time but that’s the fun part. I like putting their hair up or just making different kinds of “haircuts”. I love putting for my dolls’ hair different kinds of yarns with different colors!

mohair yarns

Then I fix the face. I either draw her eyes and lips, with a thin paint brush and fabric paint or I put glue and stuck beads for eyes and draw her lips or make up (if I chose her to have one). When you draw her characteristics you have to be careful because If you make any mistakes and you ruin her face you need to make the doll all over again or sew a piece of white fabric on her face to cover the mistakes you did. One time that I really ruined a doll’s characteristics I just paint it with white fabric paint that actually didn’t really match the doll’s skin color so the doll ended up looking like a vampire in the end! Fortunately it was a custom made order and she was meant to look gothic so by accident I made her look even better! Another thing, I might even give her the traditional look and sew her mouth like some of the old rag dolls mouth would look.

Even if I can’t find the appropriate beads or buttons I want for my doll’s eyes I might improvise and simply take her eyes out and put 3D paint that will look like blood is coming out of her eye sockets. A solution can always be found! Wire, metal, 3D paint, fabric paint, beads anything can be used!
So, after I am done with the face, I have to dress up my doll. This is really random. Depends on my custom order or on what I might come up with as her clothing. In this case really again anything could be used. Leather, fabric, ribbons, wire, 3D paint or fabric paint, everything is perfect! These are just only a few of the materials you can use for this.
Of course if you have a custom order and a really specific design for it then you have to follow it. Again if the customer said that you can improvise then, use whatever it’s in front of you!
The process of the creation of the doll really depends on what kind of doll you are making and what style she will have!
I once made a girl with bat wings and another time an evil doll that was chocked by her alien baby which came of her womb with its placenta. She looked like a fly and her baby like a… well! As I said, whatever comes into your mind use it, and this has to do with any forms of art!
Just find your theme and style, release your thoughts and… CREATE!

jezebel - a doll made under a custom request Oya

I will just stick to my nightmares and … turn them into reality for you.

MySpace SpookiePookie Doll Shop
my Etsy shop

The Creation Process – Suzanne Tate

8 01 2008

I find it a bit hard to write about this topic.  I’m afraid, despite my Fine Art background, and my career as an Art Teacher, that I am a bit haphazard to say the least about my creative process.  I don’t really keep a sketchbook or visual diary, and I don’t often respond to external stimulus. Not even my amazing trip to Europe and Egypt last Christmas produced inspiration for my glass. I rarely even have an idea in my head when I head to the torch.  I just don’t seem to work that way.  For me, it’s more about combining colours, and utilising skills. 

Many of my best designs derive from dots, as that is a technique that I have practised and developed a level of skill. But I do love to produce designs that practise various skill, such as stringer control, encasing or sculpture.  I guess I am more often moved by what I can accomplish, rather than expressing emotions or inspiration. 

I do have one area of influence that frequently affects my glass.  I am a member of the SCA – a Medieval recreation society, and like to research and produce period style glass beads. That often means producing replicas, which isn’t very creative, but I do love to incorporate the period techniques and styles into more contemporary designs. 

My favourite dot beads are an example of that, as they are heavily influenced by the Chinese Warring States Beads.

So, more often than not, the creative process for me is sitting at my torch, picking up a colour glass that appeals to me at the moment, and making the first thing that comes into my head.  Or, making a conscious decision to focus on a particular skill.  Trying to make beads on a theme is a new process for me, but one I am working on for my involvement in the Modern Savages group. 

Sometimes I think that my working style tend to lean more to my glass as a craft, rather than art.  And I don’t see that as a bad thing. I think I’d rather be a good craftsman (creaftsperson?) than a mediocre artist….. 

But that’s a discussion for another day.


Dreamsickle – Connie Wyatt

1 11 2007

I was a wee lass all of about 7 years of age when Daddy came home one day on a motorcycle!  Everyone seemed giddy with excitement and my siblings were clamoring for a ride.  NOT me, however!  I was terrified!  But, as the oldest, I was obliged to experience the first ride on the seat behind Daddy.  He told me to hang on tight, which I did, but I was stiff and rigid, eyes as big as saucers and screaming the whole way around the block.  I didn’t understand that I should have melted into his back and go with the flow.  I think he was more than happy to dump me off safe and sound back in the front yard, and take my sister for her wild ride, for which she screamed with hearty giddy delight!  From that time on, I have always looked at bikes as a horrifying apparatus that can kill and maim.  I have never had anything positive to say about them. 

I confess that story to tell you the next one.  A few years ago, the Discovery Channel aired a show called “American Chopper” and my husband and I began to watch the show together, as we are always looking for those programs that are a compromise of our very different tastes so that we might sit in a companionable atmosphere in our living room and enjoy a bit of camaraderie.  This show was supposed to be about building choppers.  Why in the world was I watching this program with my uncompromising attitude toward bikes?  Quite simply, I was attracted to the fiery relationship between the volatile father and his artistic son.   My sympathies lay with the son for the most part.  But, I was further drawn in by him because of his creative process.  I felt I understood him and had a kindred spirit with him on some level, even thru the television!  So, this show became a weekly habit for my dear husband and me and it garnered great discussions between us about the artistic process as well as the business aspect of the show.

One week they were working on a custom bike for someone, my memory as to who the customer was escapes me at the moment…perhaps it was the “Go Daddy” bike.  All I recall was that the colors were orange and green.  For some reason, I was so drawn to that bike.  I was attracted to the colors they were using.  As the show progressed, all their parts were coming back from the chromers and the painters, and they were opening the boxes and removing the parts from their protective bubble wrap I realized that I was watching while holding my breath, so excited I was to see the reveal of each part and piece.  While all this was going on, another part of me was taking note of my reactions and pondering over it.  Why was this thrill passing over me?  Why did I care so much?  What was it about seeing them open their boxes that got to me in that way?  And then it hit me!!!  All those parts looked like jewelry to me!  I had that same sense of thrill whenever I received a shipment of beads and jewelry findings.  Opening each component of my order is always a thrill of discovery.  But that was only part of it.  I was so enthralled with this particular build; I was mentally designing jewelry in my head as I watched the show!

After the show, I excitedly went to my bench and started pulling out beads.  I already had a name for my new necklace to be!  I was going to call it “Dreamsickle” and it was going to have the lovely orange colors that I saw on that bike Paul Junior was building!  Unfortunately for me, my first attempts did not excite me.  I pulled out so many different beads and kept trying to put them together in a myriad of combinations and was not coming up with anything that had that “wow” factor that I was looking for.  So, in frustration, I put all the beads away, and shelved the project.  But, it never left my mind.  Every time I sat down at the bench, I would keep trying to find just the right combination of beads to create my “Dreamsickle.”  Finally, after about a month, one day, it just came to me, and when it did, the necklace just fell into place for me, practically stringing itself together and I knew that at long last I had my special piece! 

 In the creation process, things can come together for you in different ways.  I have had pieces that just came to me out of the blue and fell together neatly in one try.  I have had other ideas that come together after much struggle and frustration.  There are also those elusive ideas just on the tip of your brain, and when you sit down and try to remember that stroke of creative genius, it escapes you altogether.  In truth, I think the process is difficult to pin down and it probably differs from one artist to the next.  For me, the “Dreamsickle” necklace set will always represent that moment in time when I recognized my own creative process.