Nature Inspires This Family

Last Updated on Apr 7, 2015 at 12:05pm | Arts & Culture

"Artistically Speaking" is a regular feature of The Lake-Front magazine, in cooperation with the Garrett County Arts' Council, and is being reprinted here in its entirety with permission. This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue.
Nature provides the creative inspiration, as well as the artistic media, for mother-daughter duo, Karin Blizzard and Karina Stonesifer. Karin's passion lies in the flowers from her garden, which she presses, creating the focal point of gorgeous framed works of art. Karina's passion also comes from the earth, but in the form of natural gemstones and silver that she uses to create timeless, wearable art.
Karin's art blossomed from her desire to preserve the flowers from her garden year round. Her pathway forward became clear when Karina presented her with a framed bunch of pressed flowers as a gift from a school science project. Karin realized that she could turn the bounty of her flower garden into art for her home.
"I purchased matts and frames and went to work. Through trial and error, I discovered which flowers held their color best." As a self-taught artist, Karin's originality and willingness to experiment, along with experience that she developed over time, help her to portray flowers at their best. In addition to using hundreds of types of specially dried flower petals, her works incorporate moss, grass, bark, mushrooms, and seashells. "My goal is to present nature in an artful form that mimics natural habitats. I get most of my ideas from the movement of nature - a bird hanging onto a vine, plants blowing in the breeze."
Being a life-long gardener, Karin sees beauty in all flowers, but the ones that really stand out are the ones that dry beautifully, making them perfect for her pressed flower art. When creating pieces, "I start with a finished size in mind. I cut a matt to that size and work my composition on the matt, periodically laying the frame over the layout to make sure everything is in balance. Once I'm satisfied, I use Elmer's white glue and a toothpick to fasten the pieces." Each of Karin's compositions is a unique work of art. She also creates commissioned pieces for clients. "Lately, I've been doing a lot of wedding invitations."
Karina began making jewelry while she was in college. "I love simple jewelry made from natural materials, but couldn't find anything that I really liked that wasn't way over-priced. So I started making jewelry that I would want to wear and that was affordable." When people began complimenting her simple designs made with quality materials, the idea for a business was formed, and in 2006, Bird Dog Jewelry became a reality.
When asked what inspires her, Karina said, "That's a tough one because my inspiration comes at different times." She spends a lot of time on the road and often starts designing new pieces in her head. "Although I feel the most creative when I just sit down at my work table with no cell phone or computers in reach and start playing with different beads and designs. Sometimes I'll start with an idea and end up nowhere close to what I thought the piece would look like. Other times, I know exactly where I am headed."
Investing a lot of thought and time into each piece, Karina fashions jewelry that is meant to last, both in terms of quality and design. "A big part of the fun for me is finding the right combination using different colors and shapes of beads and stones. The styles vary depending on the mood I'm in."
As for the tools of her trade, Karina said the only special tools she really needs are a set of jewelry pliers (flat nose and round), crimpers, and wire cutters. "I only use natural gemstones and sterling silver. I'm always on the hunt for stones. I order a lot of them online, but that only gets me so far." In the future, she would like to get into metal smithing and make her own sterling silver beads.
Karin and Karina's works are on display in the show, Spring Blizzard Takes Garrett County by a Storm, that features their work, as well as the nature photography of father and daughter, Neal and Caroline Blizzard. Their award winning photography has been highlighted previously in Artistically Speaking. The Blizzards' exhibit will run through the 1st of May.
In addition to The Gallery Shop, the Blizzards' art is available for purchase at Four Storm Artists Gallery near Swallow Falls State Park and online via their Gallery website. Karina's work is also available at Cobblestone Hair Studio in McHenry. The Blizzard family participates in several annual arts festivals throughout the year, including Art in the Park, which takes place at Deep Creek Lake State Park in mid-July, the Deep Creek Art and Wine Festival in September, and the Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival during Autumn Glory in October.
You can support arts programming throughout Garrett County by becoming a member of the Garrett County Arts Council. For more information, contact the Garrett County Arts Council at (301) 334-6580 or visit its website.