Saturday, January 24, 2015

Do I have what it takes to be me?

Two weeks ago (has it been that long?!) I took my husband's zippy red hatchback up the road to Fuquay-Varina and held court with her majesty, Jessica Jordan of Rosy Revolver fame.
She taught me to set one stone on top of another, changed my creative life with a little thing called Prips Flux (oh, and the miter jig) and showed me a myriad of other techniques to take my metal smithing to the next level.
The whole experience boosted my confidence and encouraged me to take what I had learned and make it mine. I hold on to this sentiment fiercely as I have watched in the past two years as trends have trickled into the jewelry industry only to be overworked to the point of please...kill it before it dies.
I've also watched as perfectly good and talented budding artists have chained themselves to these trends, even stooping so low as to copy...yes, I said the "c" word...copy the work of other artists in an attempt to cash in on not only the popularity of the trend, but also the artist whom they have copied.
It's depressing really.
I found an artist on Etsy last week who was literally copying the work of another Etsy artist (albeit, with slightly different bells and whistles) and I couldn't help but ask myself if her sentiments were really hers. Who did it first? Who sawed out that first dang deer with antlers...AH!! There, I said it. (Of course, these artists aren't to blame for the gluttonous amount of antlers on the market, no, for that...I blame Anthropologie.)
I was acutely aware of this the whole time I was with Jessica last week.
She has a style that is all her own, it comes from the life she's led, the books she's read, the family she's loved, the places she's been and a million other influences that are uniquely hers.
That being said,
I would like to explain my style, the inspiration and influence that drove me to saw out...wait for it...antlers! (AH!!)
For this, you'll have to come with me to middle school.
I had a history teacher, Mr. Bender, that made everything about history seem amazing. He had lived most of his life in Scotland and having been steeped in medieval history, he passed that love along to me....he didn't mean to I don't think, but excitement is infectious.
I had never read Le Morte d'Arthur but we did in his class and I'll never forget watching this actress with black curly frizzy hair portraying Guinevere on the tv and me thinking, "That's me!!"
Of course, one fairy tale naturally leads to another and after that my library trips mostly consisted of wizards and knights and ladies with bell sleeves, but also hobbits and dwarves and dragons. Oh, and Knights Templar and the Holy Grail with a bit of chivalry thrown in.
So you see, last week after I made these:

The itch was still there to capture the imagination of that little girl who painted her room with blood red walls and cut up calendars by Edmund Blair Leighton to hang above her bed.
So I turned to antlers, but I also turned to imagery. I remember Mr. Bender talking about the Coat of Arms, the heraldic symbols used by medieval knights and families to represent themselves and their proudest moments.
Each image meant something, each moon, each sword, each laurel, each fleur-de-lis said something to your foe or friend that did not need words.
With my heart and hands, I'm creating a collection, a legitimate assemblage of an idea that has been blossoming in my heart since I was a girl fueled by the people I've known, the books I've read, and the cities I've visited (there is nothing like a jaunt through the Tower of London to make you want bell sleeves).

It started with the midi rings and it's continuing here:
The antlers of the stag represent strength and fortitude.
The moon represents serenity.
The sword, justice and honor.
They are mindfully combined to mean something for the wearer about the wearer and they are only the first in a series of pieces, all with meanings drawn from traditions that are centuries old.
I'm working when I can and I hope to show you everything in the coming week.
In the meantime, I hope you have what it takes to be you, I know I'm working with heart and hands to be me.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Midi Medieval Buckler Rings

We went and saw the final installment of the Hobbit the other day.
May I just say, Tolkien is one of the few authors that I truly admire. The world he has created feels so real, and it did for me long before Peter Jackson made it so.
Inspired by that film, I created these:

I'm calling them Buckler Rings. The Buckler was a small, round shield that could be hung from the belt and was most often used in hand-to-hand combat.
Medieval Heraldic images are sawn from even tinier shield shapes and soldered onto the hammered copper. The bands are riveted on. I wanted the ring to look beat up and weathered, as if it had been dug from an Arthurian archaeology site so there's plenty of texture and a dark patina.
The Tree symbol in this form, with branches and bare trunk represents growth and new life, a starting over.

The outline of the antlers represents strength and fortitude.

Finally, the Fleur-de-lis, while being the Royal symbol of France, also signifies purity or loyalty.

The best part?
They're Midis. So when you wear them, they have this definite armor-esque quality that will have you reaching for your sword and shield.

In the shop, here.
Fare thee well, my good ladies. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014


 I know I haven't been around much, but I've had a great Holiday season so far!
I've been working like a busy bee packing up and shipping out orders and I've also been spending a lot of time with the family just hanging out and enjoying the season.
Also, my head has been buzzing with new ideas for laminate this season, so to celebrate, I'm having a flash sale!
For the next 24 hours I'm offering HALF off any laminate piece in my shop!
Use the code RECYCLED50 and get 50% off feathers, birdies, bangles, even the wrap bracelets!
I know it's too late for it to get here for Christmas, but it's definitely not too late to snag some components for your magazine submissions for the upcoming year and also treat yourself with a slightly belated stocking stuffer!
I hope you have a wonderful holiday and my next post will definitely be a show and tell of what my family received for Christmas! (obviously, can't show that yet!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sweet Potato Casserole and Cranberry Sauce

 I have to cook both tomorrow.
I really should have cooked them today, but I didn't, so...
In the meantime, I put a bunch of stocking stuffers...also known as birdies and the shop!
I've also got a few different colors of ball chain in stock so you can mix and match.
I made these collages as just a sample, but there are a bunch more colors and textures in there.
I've been feeling much better lately.
Trying to gain back some of the weight I lost in the hospital and on the nausea meds (they called them antibiotics) and also trying to work in some exercise.
It's been six weeks so I'm also lifting baby again...some.
I'm still finding myself really tired in the evenings and even though I have a bunch of new designs in mind, I've been slow to get out there and create.
I'm pretty excited about all the North Carolina love in the shop also!
I hope you have a great Thanksgiving if you're stateside and maybe even if you're not!
Have a great week either way and if you're planning on doing any shopping this weekend, remember that the 29th is Small Business Saturday.
Support local and small businesses as much and as often as you can!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rise Above

 We are weighed down here; held to Earth by the force of Gravity that pulls on bone and sinew.

We shed pounds to lighten the load on knees and hips that take the brunt of the force, but what about the weight that can't be shed on a treadmill?

What about the force that pulls on heart and soul, the weight that's just as heavy but totally unexpected. The sickness, the job loss, the end of a relationship. This weight is just as real, just as heavy but can't be lifted as easily.

It requires something more. It requires the deep determination of a bird flapping its wings, lifting itself off the ground in defiance of gravity. Every sinew, every tendon, hollow bones, soft feathers, working in unison to rise above the forces holding the bird...holding the ground.

It has been over a month since I've written anything here.
On October 11th, I went into the E.R. with stomach pain and ended up down an organ. The appendectomy was flawless, but a week later I was doubled over with a hematoma in my abdomen. Back into the hospital for a drain and a week of IV antibiotics. Went home with the drain, after another procedure to insert a larger tube. The drain removal turned into another infection...
It seems so painless to sum up an entire month into a few sentences, but I've never been in the hospital (besides giving birth) and the weight of the past month was some of the heaviest that I've ever experienced.
Being sick is so much more than physical and pain in your body wears on your heart. CT scans and IV's and drawing blood and not sleeping because nurses are taking vitals every two hours.
Not being home with your baby and being unable to do even the most simple household chores when you are home. Relying on another person to wash your hair and help you clean your body. It's a humbling, scary, tiring, trying, and overwhelming experience and it's just been in the past few days that I've felt human again.
I made this series of bangles before this all started, but looking at them today, holding them in my hands and turning them to catch the light, I studied the wings I had cut with my saw, the tension I had tried to capture in copper and I felt like I was rising above, much like the birds.
12 gauge copper bangles, hand cut birds riveted to armor-like plates.
The whole bangle hammered and patinated with tiny turquoise dangles for movement and sound.
There are four of these in small, medium and large sizes and they are HERE.
Rise Above.

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.