Art Elements Monthly Theme: Tidal Pool

The theme for May 2018 Art Elements Blog is Tidal Pool.

I have always wanted to see tidal pools, but have never had the opportunity (yet).

So with my ceramic pieces, I approach the inspiration with color and textures.

Marsha Neal Studio Ceramic Beads. Tidal Pool Glaze on Left. Ocean Textured pieces on Right.

Collections of objects from the ocean spanning from the 1980’s.

Through my younger years I collected and purchased items (sea shell shops* at the beach here in Delaware and in Florida on vacations). After college, when I began carving texture plates to use for my reverse printed textural pieces, I decided to make some pressed object texture plates as well. When I press these items into soft clay, I usually use a sponge to press the items in as many are fragile and have sharp edges.

*As an adult my mind struggles between the arguments about taking items from the ocean for human use and overexploitation of these marine resources and the though about how like insects, many of these life forms have hundreds of offspring, so hopefully a few can make it to reproductive age. But with what destruction we humans are doing here on earth, how can those few even get to that point. My heart is torn. I still love the ocean and the life there.

Bisque Fired Ceramic Clay Ocean Texture Plate

I have always loved marine creatures. The octopus swims the line of creepy and magical. Here is one I created with wool by needle felting over a pipe cleaner armature.

My First Needle Felted Octopus (based on the Blue Ringed Octopus).

And like anything else I make, my brain goes into what I call production mode: how to make these better, faster, and with a high quality and still enjoy the process. The three smaller ones below are not yet finished.

Various Sized and Stages of Needle Felted Octopus

Thanks for stopping by my blog for this Art Elements Themed Blog Hop for Tidal Pool. Please make sure to check out the other artists work:

AE Team Members:
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Marsha (you are here)

Art Elements Monthly Theme: Equine

The Art Elements Equine theme this month takes my heart back to my pre-teen love of horses and my favorite of mythical creatures – the Pegasus. I would like to give an honorable mention to the Sea Horse because I was equally obsessed with them, but they fall into a totally different classification for this round.

And I would like to give a shout out to Jenny Davies-Reazor for coming up with this months theme!

Marsha at 12 riding her horse TwigBuster (Grandpop’s farm in Tennessee around 1987)

In the mid-80’s I was the perfect age for My Little Pony. I had about a half dozen of them and took them everywhere with me. My imagination took me to far off places. I even wanted them to fly so bad that I tied one to a bunch of helium balloons during a friends birthday party. I remember never letting her get out of my jump grab reach – oh, the horror of actually losing one! And horse themed books – my first chapter books were the Misty of Chincoteague books, and I still have some of the Serendipity books by Stephen Cosgrove and Weekly Readers, which I kept and have read to my kids. Chloe has a bunch of the newer My Little Pony toys – although she no longer plays with them like she used to.

Horses, ponies, and pegasus still pass through my imagination, but more along the lines of wonder than inspiration to create work. I decided that I would look to some books for something that may spark some creative juices flowing.

I decided to push my “muscle memory” skills with repetitive drawing as suggested by Danielle Donaldson in her book The Art of Creative Watercolor. I am a doodler, not a professional sketch or drawing artist (I was never encouraged to pursue art classes in school). So as I was working my muscle memory skills, I made the decision to forget the rules and just draw lines to try to make a horse shape. A few minutes into sketching evolved these very angular horse shapes.

I then decided to practice a bit more since I have taken a couple of online watercolor classes (Carla Sonheim and Melanie April) that I could use some of those skills combined with things I read in Danielle’s book and just go for it. The result by no means is perfect, and actually I have a lot of muscle memory skills to pick up with watercolor, but I am not disappointed (mostly because I had no set goal other than to do something with a horse theme).

I got to work wet on wet, wet on dry, sprinkled salt for texture, and used ink for definition. So many possibilities as I practice more and more. It feels great to just have fun!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog as part of this Art Elements Monthly Theme challenge. Here are the other participants in this months challenge.












AE Team Members:









Art Elements Monthly Theme: Nests

Welcome to my blog post for the Art Elements Blog Theme for Nests (March 2018).

I think about nests in a few ways:

My nature brain thinks of the place where critters can safely rear their offspring.

My mother brain swirls about trying to figure out how to balance my life with kids and making art – nurturing both.

And my creative brain likes to have little collected items around in cubby nests to comfort and inspire me.

Little cubbies with objects from friends and loved ones…

In 2007 I lost my mom to Leukemia when I was 6 months pregnant with my daughter. I never thought I would go through losing my mom like that, and becoming a parent without my mom there with me. After Chloe was born, and I got my feet under me, it was time to look upon my creativity. I was super frustrated. So I grabbed some clay and a soft rubber tipped tool and just started making spirals.

Marsha Neal Studio Spiral Clay Texture Plate

Turned out this was a beginning of a whole new line for me. Some of the first pieces I made reminded me of nests. And since I was struggling with my “mom” nest and my “creativity” nest, I though of bird nests.

I asked my friend Nikki Thornburg to make me some glass birds with the wire coming out of the bottom so I could epoxy them into my little nest forms so I could put these into small house plants to help inspiration grow for anyone who happened to glimpse them.

Small side note: My mom is the person that introduced Nikki and me at a bead show we were both selling at. She was super excited to see all of her beautiful glass beads, she had me go over and look and meet this delightful lady. To this day she is one of my best bead family friends ever (a sister really)!

Bird Nests – Glass Beads made by Nikki Thornburg.

And I started making beads from these texture plates. Small beads, donut beads and lots of other fun things.

Marsha Neal Studio Texture Plates and Reverse Glazed Pieces

I do enjoy rolling out clay and just squishing it. It is quite therapeutic. Having this spiral texture gives the glaze a place to puddle in the final piece. Using my thumbs and hands I was able to form the flattened forms into these curved nest bead forms.

Nest forms and flattened spiral beads.

I am still working out ideas on how to suspend these nests forms. I was having fun just putting beads in the middle and waxed linen with knots – but there will be more (thinking of wire forms).

Marsha Neal Studio Nest Beads

Another thing I like to do is make these little footed bird nests. I usually make beads that are cone shaped – and I can expand them to make them hollow or spiral and squish the end and stick them to the bottom of the nest. Some people ask what they are supposed to hold. Thinking about this I often say tiny objects. But if you really think about it, they can contain big ideas and imagination.

Little footed nest forms.

Thanks to Cathy for picking out this theme for us to create work around. Check out these other artists that are participating in this months Art Elements “Nest” theme (make sure to see about the upcoming April theme tomorrow on the Art Elements Blog).

Guest Participants-










AE team members-








Marsha (you are Here)


Humble Beads – Bead Table Wednesday – Stacked Earrings

My friend Heather Powers, the artist behind hosts a weekly Bead Table Wednesday live video post through her Facebook page almost every Wednesday.

This week she created a pair of earrings with my textured disc beads, her polymer clay beads, Irish Waxed linen, and Vintaj ear wires. If you have some time, check out her videos because she has some wonderful design ideas and tips for techniques.

When she let me know she would be using some of my textured discs in her video, and posting kits on her website, I thought it would be a good idea to do an Etsy shop update myself (it has been far too long).

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop Updated with Textured Disc Beads.

In Heathers video I loved that she gave 2 ways to make these earrings – with and without a bead on top. And when you watch her techniques, you may pick up a few things to put in your creative bank.

Make sure to like her Humble Beads FB page and check on Wednesdays at 1pm EST for her live videos.

And check out her Humble Beads website where you can pick up some of Heathers wonderful beads and for links to past Bead Table Wednesday Videos.

Bead Show Now – Bead Shop Now – Online Bead Show Now – Share Where You Shop via Social Media

Help spread the word where your local bead shows are by using #BeadShowNow

I am a big fan of shopping in person for handmade beads, strands and tubes of beads, lapidary items, tools and findings. If I can support a brick and mortar store or a bead show vendor so they can cover their costs, I will!

It used to be really easy to open a bead magazine and see ads for upcoming shows about 10 years ago. With the influx of social media and internet shopping I find that I am buying magazines less, and wanting to find out where shows are, but often experience: Darn! I just missed that show.

As a bead show vendor and a patron of bead shows and shops, I thought it would be great for people to use social media to help us figure out where we can find each other. Why not give it a try?!

Help promote brick and mortar bead shops by posting photos via Social media and use #BeadShopNow

Bead Shows and Bead Shops where you can physically go and shop are the main focus of these posts #BeadShowNow and #BeadShopNow

STEP 1: Go to a bead show or a bead shop and take photos of cool beads (you may want to ask the shop owner or bead show vendor if it is ok, and what their social media handle is).

STEP 2: Log into your social media platform and post your photos, making sure to tag the shop or vendor with their social media handle, use location for where the show or shop is, and make sure to use the #BeadShowNow or #BeadShopNow hashtags.

An example of what you would write attached to your photos may be:

Check out the awesome @MarshaNealStudio beads being sold at the #InnovativeBeadsExpo in Edison, NJ #BeadShowNow this weekend!

The @Name is the vendor/bead shop social media handle.

The #BeadShowNow is the subject you want to file this under (as of March 2018 Instagram shows up to 10 hashtags in your original post only).

If you are a vendor or bead shop owner, please DO post your own photos showing off your fabulous beads! And if you are lucky enough to have a customer come in and show off their beautiful finished piece with your beads, ask to grab a photo, get their social media handle and use #BeadShowAndTell or #BeadShopAndTell

If you have made something with beads from a bead show and want to show them off, please use the hashtag #BeadShowAndTell or #BeadShopAndTell to give us a peek and tag the artist/vendor/shop to help support their efforts!

If you want to promote your Online Bead Show Now use #OnlineBeadShowNow

For those of you selling through the internet or social media (Facebook Groups, Websites, Instagram, etc) use #OnlineBeadShowNow so you can post pictures of what you have and where you are going to be selling.

Please try to keep the hashtags clean so people can actually find what they are looking for and it does not become a complete mess and pointless to use.

If you want to create your own images or use these to help distinguish your post, please take a screen shot here or via Instagram. Change them however you want or make your own.

I used the Word Swag App to create these images and thanks to my friend Diane Hawkey for helping me with the #BeadShowAndTell hashtag (because Bead Show Bling – is just not where I wanted it to go…).



Ceramic Artist. Garden and Nature Enthusiast.

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