Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tears of the Oak

This time of year rolls around and there's always the inevitable giddiness about the falling leaves.
The bright exploding bursts of color, tall hardwoods that suddenly look like flames in the most gorgeous shades of rust, orange, burnt sienna....
We ooh and ahh over the falling leaves, but I wonder what it's like from the trees' perspective?
I'm not one who believes in the sentience of plants or flora with souls, but I think about Tolkien's Ents and I can't help but wonder what the Oaks feel when Fall comes.

Is it like their Spring? Do they toss leaves to the ground, shaking them from their branches the way we peel off jackets and scarves at the first hint of sunlight come Spring?
Do they drop the burden of bird's nests and spider webs and squirrel's stoops to feel the cool breeze on naked branches?
It is awe-inspiring for them or a time of mourning?
Is there a sadness in the loss of the bright green summer foliage? Do they miss the rustle of leaves as the wind blows or the weight of summer rain coating their branches?

I made this in honor of the Oak.
It's Pilbara Jasper, but not to me.
To me, it's the teardrop of the Oak.
I don't know when they mourn, or if they do, but I imagine if Treebeard shed a tear, it would fall to the ground just like this, a solid piece of wood, with grain and color and he would leave a trail of them as he went.
There's a tiny leaf, sawed from silver on the back, with my mark.
It's a heavy ring. Not for the faint of heart, but for a heart of Oak.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Production Mode Part Deux

I told y'all that I signed up for a show, right?
Did I also mention that I'm a bit nervous and I have no clue as to what I'm doing?
I honestly haven't heard from the organizers whether or not I got in, but I'm plowing ahead as though I did mostly because if I don't I won't be able to have a good stock when show day rolls around.
To that end, let me show you what I've been working on:
North Carolina necklaces. I'm planning on taking about a dozen of these with me. Some in college colors, but others in some funky shades that are just fun to wear. These still need their chains.

I've cranked these babies out over the past week or so and plan to have about a dozen more of these made up.
Here's where y'all come in.
I'm partial to the bright kind of funky colors seen in this photo:

But I also like the warmer fall tones in these feathers.
Which do you like more? What would you be more likely to purchase? 

I've also been working on some birdies.
My plan is to offer a kind of "you pick" with the birdies and feathers. I've purchased some ball chain in a few different colors and I think I'll just lay out the pendants and allow the customers to choose what color chain they would like with their pendant, that way they can have a hand in the final creation of their piece.
Does that sound like something that would interest you if you were there?
Also, remember the bangles?
These are the front and back of the current collection and I need to make at least 10 more of these. I'm trying to make them in medium and large sizes, using my mandrel as a guide.
I wouldn't want someone to miss out because the bangle doesn't fit them!

 Also, I'm planning on carrying a few simple rings.
The show itself has a price cap and you can't sell anything over $250 so when it comes to the sterling, I'm planning on making things that I can sell for right around $50.

I know I need some things that are going to be showpieces.
Rings and pendants that are a bit larger and one of a kind.
I finished this piece up a couple of days ago, but honestly, I don't know if I can bring myself to part with it!
Laguna Agate in sterling on a feather band.

I know, right, what's the point of a show if I keep all the merch?
So, here's where my loyal readers come in:
The show is a month before Christmas meaning that most people are going to be in full Christmas shopping mode.
What are some things that you look for when shopping for jewelry at shows?
I know earrings sell super well, but I don't feel comfortable making earrings when I NEVER wear them and don't really have a feel for weight, size, etc....
I feel like I'd be misrepresenting myself making something that I wouldn't wear.
Also, in terms of my booth, what are some things that attract you to one seller vs. another?
I've been sifting through ideas trying to put together what I want to do and I'd love to hear from those of you who shop at shows, but who also have done booths in the past.
What kind of advice you got for me?
Thanks to all of you who read, I know sometimes you can't comment, (I understand we're all pressed for time), but I do see the little view counter and know that you're reading. I hope that you come across something here that sparks your creativity or gives you a smile for the day.
That's what it's all about. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Production Mode

Remember the double sided flip bangles?
I made more.
Allow me to explain my thinking in this design.
I've seen charm bangles before but the charm was always one-sided which left a bit of the design aspect hidden depending on whether your arm was up (we'll say you're texting) or down (not texting). And also, I don't like the fact that the charm was kind of uncontrollable. I know the purpose was for maximum jangle factor, but sometimes I don't want my cut charms all up in my food.
Here's what I did.
First of all, each bangle starts as a length of 10 gauge copper wire, I cut the size bangle I want, anneal it, hammer the ends flat and then put a tube rivet in the ends to create the bangle.
I leave the rivet facing upon the bangle instead of out.
This means that when I put the jump ring through the charm and the rivet, the jump ring will allow the charm to rotate so that it always flips from one color to the other as you move your arm up or down.
Because it is locked in the tube rivet, the charm will never slide around the bangle, which means, you can push it up your arm to where it sticks a bit (a la Cleopatra...though I'm not making them big enough to go up your bicep) and rotate it so that the charm is on the top. No jewelry in your food and vice versa.
The best part though by far is the constant change of color as you move your arm, oh and also because I use 26 gauge sheet for the copper and the charms are laminate, they weigh nothing, so even though it is a bit of a substantial charm (almost a full inch). It feels completely weightless.
I'm trying to keep them monochromatic, just varying the shades of the color so that it will match whatever you're wearing.
I've already done the birds and they are in the shop, I've got the two butterflies above, and also two more butterflies in the works, a hummingbird, and maybe a moth.
I think it's pretty much my best design idea so far and I'm just making a blue million of them.
I took the plunge and applied for a show this fall, never done a show before and I'm hoping that they'll accept my work.
For that reason, I'm kind of in production mode right now and not listing things in the shop.
However, I will say that if I don't get accepted, there will be a giant shop update at the end of October with bunches of goodies.

I do hope you're enjoying the first few days of September and if you're preparing for Fall Festivals, good luck my friends!
I'll try to get some of my new pendants photographed just to show off the color combos that I'm working on!
Have a wonderful weekend, amigos! 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fallen Mountains

When I first saw these two chunks of Picasso Marble I saw two gigantic mountains. It was such a real feeling for me, holding these mountains in my hands, feeling the weight in my palms.
I knew the feeling was one that had been settling in my soul for some time.
I've changed more than I'd like to admit since the baby was born. Some of it good and some of it not so. The little worries of motherhood sink deeper for me than just worries.
They become anxiety and panic much more quickly than I'd like to admit, sometimes warranted, most of the time not at all.
It started right after she was born. I didn't suffer from post partum depression, but I did go through about a week or two of deep sinking worry and anxiety. A feeling that I couldn't shake. It wound its way around my heart and I could feel it squeezing, especially at night when it was just me and her and the responsibility of being her mother was overwhelming.
The depth and intensity of those first two weeks is gone, but like a scar, the anxiety is still there and it rears its ugly head at the most unexpected times.

 It's not a constant battle, but in those moments when I feel it in my chest, it looks and feels like a mountain soaring up out of the middle of the path I'm walking; an insurmountable obstacle and the ground around me no longer a firm footing.
I do believe in someone higher than myself and though I choose to keep that close to my heart it is in those moments that I have to trust that greater force just to stop the mountain from closing in on me.
There's a line by one of my favorite artists:
"You can move a mountain without any tools. It just takes the faith of a little seed to make a way through what might seem to be impossibility."

I believe this.
I believe it with everything in me. When I saw these two pieces of stone, I knew how I wanted them to sit: sideways, knocked down, the power taken out of them, the vein broken.
I wanted to ring to be larger than any I'd done, to sit across all three fingers, a true reflection of how big the mountains can get but how powerless they can be rendered.
This ring is so heavy and rightfully so.
Make your mountains fall.
Take the long road and go around them.
Take the hard road and go over them.
Take the impossible road and barrel through them.
Or, take the road that's long, hard and impossible, and knock them down, one rock at a time if you have to.
It's just a mountain after all.


Friday, August 15, 2014

The Simple Things

I'm finding myself kind of lost lately when I sit down to create. The spark is gone and I'm asking myself what the point is.
I'm slipping into envy, feeling jealous of those artists whose work is in such high demand that just the comment, "Shop Update!" sends fans running to their laptops and mobile devices.
It's ridiculous, I know.
I know my work is unique and I pour hand and heart into each piece, but it's a more simple body of work that reflects a more simple life.
I don't live my life on the knife edge of a cliff in Norway tending to my sheep and running with wolves while riding wild horses bareback in a handmade linen dress woven from vintage quilts found in the basements of orphanages turned military hospitals turned boarding schools.
You'll never find photos of me cuddling squirrels and whistling to robins that perch lovingly on my snow white shoulder while my daughter (with perfectly curled hair), spins with reindeer in a dress made from Spanish lace recovered from a bridal boutique destroyed during the Spanish civil war.
You're far more likely to find me tending to my ever-increasing pile of laundry and running after a 16 month old while trying to brew coffee and make sure the pancakes don't burn all while wearing a pair of soffe shorts purchased a decade ago with a t-shirt that says "Go Chargers!".
I do find myself cuddling animals, but mostly those of the stuffed variety and I do whistle, but only to my husband and mostly when a rogue cockroach comes crawling out from under my kitchen cabinets. My daughter does spin, but we try to discourage it as most of the time it results in injury when she goes flying into a piece of furniture.
Don't get me wrong, some of my favorite parts of my day and my life are the morning cup of coffee and perfectly cooked eggs purchased from the farmer's market; walking around the front yard while Rosa points to the most mundane things and babbles and smiles like she's found hidden treasure; rocking her to sleep in a quite room; trips to the library, even if I only get kids books; evening walks around the neighborhood with my mom and sisters pointing to kitties and doggies and the occasional bird; and finally, crawling into bed feeling a sense of accomplishment knowing that those that I love and who love me are tucked into bed and sleeping safely and soundly.
My jewelry reflects these parts of my life.
The little birdies from my neighborhood found their way into these bangles. I created a double-sided charm using two different colors of laminate and then added a bead for a bit of jingle.
This one features a punchy orange on one side and bright red lacquer on the other.

This one is the soft lavender on one side with this perfectly royal purple on the other.

Also, this gigantic bird slider on this thick and chunky leather strap.
It's giant.
I love it.
It's practically chirping at me right now.

Four birds in crazy-you'll-never-see-in-nature colors.
Rosa would go nutso if she saw these beauties perched on our power lines.
I also made this perfectly perfect Variscite ring, but I'm not gonna drop it in the shop because even though the bezel is PERFECT (after like an hour of polishing), the band ended up a bit wonky, so it's not up to my selling standards. (Oh...darn.)

I also made this weird spinner ring. I'm calling it the Road Trip ring.
I made a copper "road", complete with lines and bumps and a STOP sign, and then added a luggage-laden station wagon a la Lampoon's.

The best part?
It's a SPINNER ring.
Did you catch that?
The car spins, ahem...drives around the ring, ahem...road!
I love it.
The only problem?
It's gigantic.
Like, waaaay to big even for my thumb. It's like a size 11 or something crazy, I haven't even measured the size it's so crazy big.

I have no idea why I made it so big, but I did.
So, for now, it's sitting on my workbench like a piece of art. (Because it is!)

The birdies are all in the shop along with another silver ring that I finished about a week ago.
Thanks for stopping by.
It's 11:00 pm here and my pet peacock just informed me that it's time for bed. That said, I'm going to go to bed, looking forward to turning down the sheets of my farmhouse bed made from reclaimed wood salvaged from the deck of wrecked Mississippi Riverboats dredged from the bottom of the Mississippi river basin.
Au revoir. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Thinking aloud in copper

I'm still here.
I know it seems like I've fallen off the face of the planet, but I haven't.
Time is a rare commodity.
I just don't have enough of it and definitely not enough to spend it here waxing poetic about creativity and my muse and the challenges of artistry.
More often than not the day is dirty diapers, dirty laundry, dirty dishes, but a clean and happy baby who is enjoying growing up as much as I'm enjoying watching the process (I just wish she'd stop bumping her head and watch where she's going!)
I do steal a couple of hours here and there to create and I selfishly hoard the time at the bench.
My head is full of ideas and the ones that don't make it to the bench are inevitably relegated to my sketchbook.
But, these? These little beauties?
They made it from heart to head to hands.
They are the tiniest Big Dippers.
Hand-cut rounds of copper, drilled precisely to form the constellation and then soldered to open copper discs.

It seems so simple, but I wanted to push the idea further. Could I capture, not just the idea of starshine, but the actual thing?
Could I make these glow like the constellation in the night sky? Co-opt its beauty to hang around my neck?

Why yes, I think I can.
That's why they are domed. Slipped over my phone flashlight and the dome blocks all the light except just the glow that sneaks through the holes of the constellation.
There she is. The Big Dipper in all her glory, the backbone of Ursa Major around my neck.
It might be the simplest of designs, the least complex of fabrication projects, but I can't get over the secret that this tiny pendant holds. An entire constellation in the palm of my hand.
They are here for you lovers of light, you connoisseurs of constellations, you amateur astronomers and aspiring astronauts.
Another secret? I actually made four, but you can't have the fourth one. It's for me!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A pound of feathers

 This entire collection was a test of my patience. 
The rivets were a bit difficult as they kept wanting to warp and slide and move around. 

I think I might have found a way to get them to stay in place and do what I command. 
It is currently one of my favorite designs. 
A lovely mix of metal and laminate and fulfills my need for gigantic chunky jewelry and my need to hammer on some copper while keeping the recycled laminate at the forefront of what I'm making.

 I've been thinking a lot about why I've been using feathers so much lately. It really has to do with some heaviness of heart that I struggled with this winter, but here's what I wrote in the listings: 

I've been using feathers and birds a lot lately in my work. I like the idea of something that floats above the forces of gravity. The wind filling the wings and taking the bird high above mountains, trees, the weight of this world. It's a weight we all feel and though we can't sprout wings to lift ourselves above it, we can be reminded to take our minds and hearts above those trees and above those mountains, to find the thing that lifts us up and defies the forces of gravity that pull us down.

 That's a feeling that's very real to me and I think all of us find a sense of awe and grandeur when we see an eagle or hawk so high above what we would consider the earthly domain. 

I think it says something about the power of flight that even DaVinci drafted flying machines and wanted to be above the tree line long before anyone had an idea that it could be done.

I haven't worn them all at once yet. (Though really, what's stopping me?) But I did make a couple in some colors that are just for me. ( I'll be sure and Instagram those later!) 

In the meantime, all of these can be found in the shop