Three more days until the release of the second Mermen of Ea Series book, Into the Wind on Monday, May 5th! I’m counting down with a contest that ends this Sunday, May 4th, at 11:59 p.m. EST (one minute before release day!). You could win your choice of a cool, nautical leather wrap watch, or a signed paperback copy of Stealing the Wind, the first book in the Mermen of Ea Series. US readers only for this one, please.
Then, starting at midnight on May 5th, I’ll be running a great giveaway with some terrific prizes, including a handmade EA tail-fluke pendant by the talented Martin Brodour. Other prizes include a Mermen of Ea gift basket, an autographed copy of Stealing the Wind, and some more goodies suitable for non-US readers, including Dreamspinner Press gift certificates and ebooks.
So to get the party started, I’ve invited Martin to share a bit about his artwork and also share some photographs of the process he used to create the pendant. Don’t forget that, starting Monday, you can enter to win this gorgeous piece of art.
Thank you, Martin, for joining me today! And thank you for the gorgeous pendant. I absolutely love it! -Shira
PS: Martin’s going to come back and share some of his writing with us! Can’t wait!
SHIRA: Martin, your artwork is so amazing. Can you tell us a little about how you got started in the visual arts?
MARTIN: Thank you for your kind words! It’s really wonderful to know that people think so. Well, I’ve loved drawing since I was a really young and always excelled in art class, but I never really took it seriously. I got a job in a business office, but never stopped making art. Fast forward a few years, and the office moved to a larger city, and I was left without a job. My partner told me that I should go back to school, which sounded great, but I didn’t know what to study. He said, “You love art, so study art!” And that was that. This is my second year in school, and my second semester in the jewelry program. My professor really pressed me to consider jewelry design and metal fabrication as my major, and said that I “have an intuitive talent for it.” I went and changed my major that same day.
MARTIN: The days tend to be really long. I usually wake up at around 7AM, and go to bed at about 3AM during the week to fit all of my school work in. We end up putting in 20 hours of time in class per week, then I take work home which accounts for about another 10 to 15 hours per week on top of my other class’s homework, and reading. I have two classes for my jewelry major, so on Tuesdays and Thursday I have class at 10AM, and stay there until 6PM. That’s one thing that this field requires: time. For example: on the iron maiden locket that I recently finished, it took two class days to solder the hinge, and a class day to the attach the clasp on the side. A lot goes into coming up with ideas for projects, because I have to think of how it will look in three-dimensions, and a lot of time goes into preplanning every single step of a project from start to finish, or risk making a mistake that can ruin the entire piece. When I write my schedule out like this, it makes me really sad for some reason.
SHIRA: Sounds like you have a lot on your plate! I know that can be overwhelming at times. But I think it’s wonderful to get a glimpse into the creative process and it’s pretty amazing how much time and effort goes into the making of a single piece. More to appreciate! And I hear that, in addition to your art, you’re also an aspiring writer. What genre of stories do you like to write?
MARTIN: Yes, this is also one of those things that I never thought about doing, like jewelry, but that I stumbled into and really enjoyed. I had never written anything before, so it took me a while to really get comfortable with my writing style, and learn as much as I could about writing. Thus far, my stories are all set in an urban-fantasy type of setting. Something about having an existing world prepared for me to destroy with out of control magic, and monsters really appeals to me. I feel really comfortable with this genre, but I have some story-seeds that take place in a more fantasy/medieval type of world. I wouldn’t mind taking a shot at writing a horror story at some point in the future, as well.
SHIRA: What kind of stories do you like to read?
MARTIN: Other than yours? Haha. I like reading a lot of different genres from horror to fantasy, and urban fantasy, to books about ancient weapons and customs of China and Japan–I don’t know how I got into those. Since I have to read a lot of non-fiction novels for my classes, getting away from that genre, and escaping to a book that takes place outside of this world is a real treat. I like to read stories that I can’t put down, even if it means that I am cutting into sleep time. I love reading books with excellent characterization. To me, a book or story that creates characters that I believe are alive and breathing somewhere is the epitome of a well crafted story.
SHIRA: *blushes* Thank you! I’m definitely with you on the characterization. Characters make the book, IMO! So, can you take us through the process of creating something like the pendant for the “Into the Wind” giveaway? How do you come up with the idea for a piece? How do you go about making the actual piece of art (what are the steps)?
MARTIN: First, I come up with the idea. For a custom piece, like this one for the “Into the Wind” giveaway, I take into account what my client and I talked about for the design. You mentioned a tail-fluke, and that idea really stuck with me, because it seemed to be the core of the story of the mermen of Ea. To keep the tail-fluke from looking like a dolphin tail, I came up with the idea to engrave the word, “Ea,” on the piece itself. I added a few little design aspects in, and it was done. Then, I glued the paper to a piece of carving wax with rubber cement, and cut around the image with a wax saw to get the basic shape of the tail-fluke. After I’ve got that done, I carved the wax into its final shape. I have a lot of wax carving tools, but 90% of the work I did on this piece was done with an old X-Acto knife. After that’s completed, I placed it onto a rubber seal, fit it to a metal tube, and filled
it with a high temperature plaster. That went into a kiln where the wax evaporated. After taking it out and letting it cool, I placed the tube in a machine called a centrifugal caster. Then I melted the metal, and released a switch on the machine, which flung the metal into the mold. A few minutes later, the piece was cool enough the dig out of the plaster. I filed everything on the piece smooth again, and then added a patina, which turned the piece black, then polished it. And that was it.
SHIRA: What do you see yourself doing with your artwork in the future?
MARTIN: I would really like to make more pieces to sell. To be honest, it never occurred to me that people might want to buy my work, be it drawing, painting or jewelry, and it wasn’t until recently that people started requesting work from me, so I would definitely like to set up a little online store. I still love making custom pieces–especially nerdy stuff–so I would definitely want that to be at the core of my business. Long-term, I really want to teach a jewelry class at my college. I think I would enjoy that.
MARTIN: I don’t have a website set up for purchasing work yet, but if anyone would like purchase anything I have on hand, or would like to consult with me on a piece they have an idea for, I would be more than happy to see what I can do for them. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through Facebook.
SHIRA: Thanks again for joining me today and for creating the Ea pendant! I can’t wait to see the finished piece, and I know you’re going to make one lucky reader very happy when she or he wins it!
Want to read an excerpt from Chapter One of Into the Wind? Click here. Then go snag yourself a copy at Dreamspinner Press and don’t forget to enter the pre-release drawing by commenting on this post! Here’s the link for the pre-order at Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4975