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 feathers...in 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 us...to 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. 

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.