We are a group of artists who call ourselves “Nine Lively Ladies.” A year ago, I had to come up with a theme for our 9th show. What better inspiration than our name – Nine Lively Ladies.

Each of us would produce 9 pieces, 9 x 9 inches and sell them for $99 – the show would open on the 9th of the 9th month – a good publicity gimmick yes, but a real challenge. For my pieces, the frame would be 9 inches square using a 6 x 6 inch, thin, white enameled steel that I painted with oxides in oil – one of my favorite techniques.

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For the sea life pieces, I cut fish shapes from soft rubber to use as stamps while the paint was damp, let it dry thoroughly over night then dry-dumped the powdered enamel with plastic spoon-shaped tools for picking up and dumping the powder. Try practicing letting the dry enamel slide off the side of the tool. This can then be pushed around with a dry brush or pointed wooden tool, then fired one time.

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For the pieces where I added fish or silver foil, I had to do a second firing. On some, I cut fish from 26 gauge copper, enameled onto the piece in the first firing. I did whales, dolphins, seahorses, bubble fish with only one firing, and glued magnets to the backs.

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Same thing with the flower pieces, only painting grassy backgrounds, then dry dumping flower shapes – quite fun! Once fired, butterflies with magnets complete the picture.

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One and one half inch squares with letters composed of glass threads, wire or beads on magnets were made for the “Celebrate” piece using a plain 6 x 6 inch steel panel. The letters may be moved around to make many different words… making a game of it.

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