Friday, October 31, 2008

Song For Change

My friend Tom just put this out on YouTube and so I have to share. I like to spend Wednesday nights listening to him play his guitar and sing his songs with a glass of good red wine and the good company of friends. Watching this little video made me feel a little teary, just thankful for having good friends to hang out with.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dark Side of the Moon


Moon and stars, sun and distant worlds, that is celestial bodies, have always had a powerful draw on me, but I have tended to avoided them in my adult art as I try to find expressions less used. However no matter how many times I gaze at the moon it never fails to fascinate or draw my gaze from crescent to pink and fat.

I felt free to call this series of necklaces after the moon because I feel they are abstracted rather than direct representations. This latest piece, Dark Side of the Moon, is created with black onyx and with a beautiful floral coconut button stained black. I kept it very simple and celestial with orbiting silver planets. If the button should turn in its orbit a silver line appears reminiscent of the rings of Saturn.

The other symbolism of the name of this necklace, of course, corresponds with Pink Floyd’s seminal concept album Dark Side of the Moon that was first released in 1973. I would have been only ten years old, but I’m pretty sure I was listening to it by eleven or twelve so the incredible evocative sound texture of that album has been with me a long time and is appropriate as inspiration to my art of adornment. When I was on the Searchlight on the Thames in England I remember wearing ‘cans’ over my ears to fall asleep to the sounds of footsteps running from ear to ear over the top of my head or the clinking of coins in a ceramic bowl. I believe there is some connection between the fact that my necklace can show more than one face and the textures of that album. It’s perhaps tenuous, possibly indescribable, ineffable, but it’s not non-existent in the landscape of my inspiration.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ramblings on a Dark Morning...


Yesterday was exciting at Etsy in that my latest treasury, the one I mentioned in the previous posting, made it to the front page for about half an hour. I garnered some hearts which was nice - means that people do visit the curator of a treasury, and I noticed that three of the items I featured sold, which makes me feel all puffed up with pride for being a good Etsian. I can only hope such good fortune is contagious. So last night, with an another packet of new beads in hand, I fashioned four pairs of earrings - or was it three and a half as one had been begun previously but abandoned when I ran out of jump rings. Anyway they are all sweet and attractive but all derivative of earlier designs so no new inspiration hit, but I was productive.

I have to play domestic goddess today, but hope to get some time to work on some writing. I particpate in a writing/roleplay community site called Panhistoria and tomorrow when I have time to log in there, I will need to be posting as there are big happenings in one of the stories I write in. It's a fun site, quite addictive (if you like to write or you used to love to play dress up or pretend as a kid) once you get the hang of it, and I have always had to learn to restrict myself timewise there, or I would never get my work done, or my jewelry made, or my paintings painted!

You know I had some big thoughts about what my next blog would be about, like the environment or music or some incredible inspirational insights I had, but I've just rambled. If you have read this far, I salute you. Oh! Breaking news, my work is featured in another treasury this morning, yah! I must be doing something right because that's the third in a row.

And just to be sure I have some substance here is a little video for you to watch:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

All the Birds Are Leaving...

Let's just get it out of the way straight away: yes, I managed to snag yet another treasury at Etsy today. This one was inspired both by my own recent swallow themed chandelier earrings and by the falling leaves. The name of the treasury is "Where Does the Time Go?" and was inspired by the wonderful soung "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" by the late great Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention, a folk singer extraodinaire. Swallows arrive with the summer and leave with it - and so it's perhaps very apt that I have been inspired to memorialize them in my jewelry this autumn. Now it would be quite something to see Sandy wearing those while singing, but that is, alas, never to be. She's largely forgotten I think by the fact that she died so very young but her voice is quite remarkable and pure.


I also received some lovely new beads from one of my favorite Etsy sellers Carrodar and once again I'm excited to start creating something. I have made three orders now from Carrodar and each time been very happy with the gemstones and with the wonderful service. My latest purchase begs for a necklace and earring set, this time far more rugged and chunky than my more recent creations. You know I do actually sit around and think I should stick with one style or unifying theme but it just can't happen, not to a Gemini on the cusp. I just keep thinking of new ideas and inspiration comes from so many different places. One thing I do want to do is start an ideas journal/sketch pad (just like I have encouraged past students to do! I'm so bad at taking my own advice).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Age Cynicism

Please understand from the outset of this essay that I am totally in support of organic, local, and fair trade. I even work in the sector and have helped advanced the cause in my area. But, and I have a big but here, but how is it that I have a choice between an organic cucumber for $3.99 from Mexico or .89 cents each from Mexico or California or Florida. That means that my organic cuke would cost from 3 to 4 times the conventional one. Now I get that the price of a conventionally grown cuke is held down by mass production, cheap migrant labor, and government subsidies but the disparity is crippling. I can’t afford a $4 cuke no matter what my values are. Now I would be prepared to pay twice as much to ensure I didn’t consume toxic chemicals, pollute the groundwater, pump more greenhouse gases into the ozone, or further the exploitation of poor migrant works, but FOUR TIMES as much is out of my reach.

I’m a ardent believer in eating my food fresh and local rather than shipped from New Zealand – unless of course it’s a banana in which case I would prefer fair trade and organic – but what is with $5.99 for local organic tomatoes from a guy that farms up the road from me and still uses migrant labor? I know - I have been on his farm. Why are organic tomatoes from further away $3.99 or $2.99 a pound in comparison? I personally believe, if I were to pay $6 a pound, someone is ripping me off. And since I know for a fact the mark up at the store I shop at that means Mr. Farmer up the road is actually exploiting my desire to eat locally.

Of course one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bushel basket, but it seems to me, particularly after visiting Expo East this year (natural products exposition) that more and more profit-only minded people are muscling into the natural foods market and taking advantage of people who are genuinely concerned for the environment and eating right. It’s becoming big business with the major corporations snapping organic natural labels and even the smaller vendors becoming jaded and greedy. I do understand the rising cost of oil increasing the cost of agricultural and transportation all around but should organic and local be almost immune from the issue of oil costs? After all they aren’t shipping long distances or using petroleum based fertilizers. At a time like this I would have expected organic local foods to drop in price relative to the conventional. It sickens me that it’s going to continue the reverse with everyone wanting the bigger price tag of ‘trendy organic, natural, and local’ labels.

Meanwhile people like me with a limited or low income and no access to my own garden find themselves filling their baskets with conventional foods when their heart belongs to organic.

This That and the Other


Yesterday was sort of weird and screwed up so I ended up not doing anything in the evening like I wanted to. I still have to create the second of a pair of shimmering swallow chandelier earrings (see previous blogging for the first pair I made) but this time in sterling silver and it's more like a jellyfish with a swallow. I'm using moonstones and aquamarine as well as the vintage iridescent swallow focal. I think they are really lovely but quite time consuming. I'm making this pair in silver because some people felt that the copper wire ones didn't lend the ears enough real value in materials to justify the cost. I'm not sure about that as I think that the combination of elements is pretty interesting actually. I love the whole magpie thing of grabbing from different sources materials that might not always be deemed to go with each other. It's perhaps a little art college of me, but I think that I need to go with my gut. However I love silver so I have no problem creating some shimmering dangles in silver.

On a happy note here is the latest treasury I created. This time I just picked out items from my favorites without regard to theme, color scheme, etc, though I did try and produce something harmonious. My previous treasuries had an eye on the Etsy front page, but neither were picked, which is hardly surprising considering the numbers vying for attention, so this time I just wanted to honor some great items from Etsy artists. And if any of those items sell because of the treasury that is one less thing I have to worry about tempting me into spending! I also, for the second time in a row, was featured in a very colorful treasury with the pictured earrings. These are getting some attention! I'll have to make some more. I like doing them and they are simple and effective.

In December I do a few Christmas craft shows and that's when I'll really get an idea which of my jewelry ideas are most successful. I'm very excited, but I sure wish I had something a little earlier as money has been tight - just as it is for everyone these days.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thoughts on Old Office Chairs


Walking to work this morning I noticed a couple office chairs parked up on the curb. I was contemplating nabbing one or two (great for the studio!) but I was going the wrong direction and had no place to stash them all day. I gazed longingly at the chairs as I reluctantly moved past without snatching. I was wondering what was wrong with them they needed to be thrown out. The answer was blindingly obvious: the fabric had worn under the knees and was now showing off the foam padding. This is the normal place for such chairs to wear and in every other way they looked entirely serviceable.

It occurred to me that nothing in the world would be easier than for the manufacturer to add some reinforcement to that part of the seat. Then, just as quickly, it occurred to me that no modern manufacturer would do that. Why not? Because they want stuff to wear out and be thrown away so you’ll buy a new one. I would bet you good money that they even research the exact length of time it’s acceptable to the consumer that a product wears out within so that they still buy the manufacturer’s crappy-built-to-be-redundant-quickly products.

Remember when ever town had a machine shop where you could take things like the toaster for repair? Can you even imagine doing so today? And of course there were cobblers. I loved the cobblers. You didn’t just throw away your shoes when you got a hole in the heel – you had them repaired! These days it just costs more to have something repaired than the thing is worth… BECAUSE they are made to be cheap and disposable. We, as consumers, are programmed to prefer the low price points and assume we’re getting better value and stretching our dollar. But once you bought something ONCE in your life, not every three years or less. Count up the amount of times you had to fork out for a toaster, total up the cost. Bet you one in good materials guaranteed to last would have cost you less in the long run.

I won’t even go into the cost to the environment and landfill we are paying so that we can buy cheap disposable goods.

Anyone reading this I’m probably preaching to the choir – particularly to those who are proponents of HANDMADE excellence like all my Etsy friends, but I just want to add that I’m as guilty as everyone else. I’m trying to change my ways and buy good quality stuff that will last and last, even if I have to start with the small ticket items and do without for other things. It’s not easy being green as beloved Kermit told us so many years ago (how psychic was that?).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Goodies, Treasuries, Beautiful Fall!


I'm extremely proud of my latest pair of chandelier earrings in my Victoriana Collection. Each piece I do is one of a kind, though I can do a 'series' like I have been doing with the flower drops and the Victorian inspired pieces. However I have to say that this last piece (shown here) with its cascading moonstone dangles was a lot of work! It's probably just going to remain very much One of a Kind. Still it was fun to do and showed off some skills.

Other great news is that I created a new treasury: Ultraviolet and Hot Pink. I'll take a screen shot of it before it expires to capture the moment but while it's live I hope plenty of my readers check it out. One person messaged me to say that they thought it was front page quality which I thought was very very sweet. I'm not sure about that, but it was a lot of fun to curate!

At the same time I was creating my treasury Pied Crow Press was featuring me in theirs! How very cool is that: Pumpkin Pie and Chai Tea. Now this treasury I DO think is front page worthy. It's got some great products too. I have the coffee bean earrings that are on the bottom row - and those sold yesterday! So good news all around. Let's hope this is a portent for things to come. Feeling extremely positive today.

And yes, it's stunningly beautiful outside my windows. I might try and capture some of the fall foliage this year and post it here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Handmade Showcase!


I'm so incredibly chuffed by this wonderful feature in Handmade Showcase. I will be excited to create the winning earrings for the winner of this give-away and I really hope that a lot of people respond. Not only is this a great showcase for my work, with a good interview, lots of photos, but it's so much fun too! I'm very pleased with how well it has been presented. Kudos!

I'm also very happy to have put up some new earrings at my shop this morning. I made six pairs last night (yes, ever so industrious) and managed to get three of them online so far. I'll do the rest later, maybe this evening because I'll be at a trade show tomorrow. Most of the earrings I did last night are a slightly new direction for me. Even though I have put them in my "Victoriana" collection they are a little more creative in my use of the filigree elements and also very much more time consuming. I'm particularly pleased with a natty little pair that I'll try and list soon made with little vintage coffee bean beads. Look out for it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Treasuries and Accolades


I feel the need to memorialize the treasury I was in knowing that soon it will be gone forever.

So here it is. I think it looks really stunning and I'm very happy to be part of it. Of course it helps that nomeworks is good friend of mine. I featured her in my first blog and I'm sure I'll pick her out again. If you don't know her work you should take a look. She's a very a very innovative artist jeweler.

I'm find myself very inspired by her work and I'm always exceptionally flattered when I see her wear any of my pieces.

Optimism


In a spirit of great optimism yesterday I decided to be wild and crazy and just buy something on etsy! I'm a new seller on etsy and while I do great when I'm selling in person I have yet to really break into the online marketplace. So I've been holding myself back a little on spending any money, but then I decided to just put the energy out there and see what comes back to me.

So I bought these adorable little guys as a gift for someone what they would totally suit. She doesn't know about it so I hope she doesn't read my blogs, but you never know. I preferred yellow monsters myself (featured them in one of my treasuries) but she loved pink (such a girl!) and so I got the pink ones. Besides they'll match her outfits better.

Personally I feel like I'm waiting for after the election though to see if things pick up for me. It's like the whole nation is holding its breath, just waiting to find out what our world will be like. Those of us that truly desire change, I see that possibility in Obama, are, I think, afraid to get our hopes too high. Whoever wins, however, I do hope that people start breathing again and we can continue with the good life. We're so lucky in this country and I think, often, people lose sight of that. We need to keep that vision and remember, and fight for our rights!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Black and Silver Dreams!


Nomeworks (who I featured in one of my earlier blogs) has included me in a stunning treasury of silver and black arts and crafts at Etsy.com with my Etsy Elephant Walk necklace. I'm really pleased and it's such a lovely collection. Later I'll get a screen capture and post it here so it won't get lost and forgotten.

The piece of mine that is featured I can picture. This is one of my very favorite necklaces and if I don't sell it this Christmas I might just keep it all for my own. One of the really fun things about this necklace for those that love Etsy is that I got all the supplies for it on Etsy. I actually do a little shopping on the site, but I get my stuff from all over, including gem and mineral shows as well as other wholesale sources so I was a bit surprised when I realized, without intending too, that all the components I had gotten off of Etsy!

Anyway here is hoping that everyone enjoys this lovely treasury!

Frustration: Mother of Invention


Frustration can actually be a source of inspiration. Last night I started working a little on my flower garden series and since I was all out of sterling silver ear wires (I have them on order!) I made a couple of pairs using the copper wire I ordered a while back and then didn’t get around to using because it was bright and shiny (not patina’d). I think it’s actually pretty neat and I had already started incorporating the brass filigree caps to a pair in silver and so naturally that extended the vocabulary used in creating these little gems.

This inspiration followed several days of very satisfying work in the painting studio so all in all I feel it was a good creative week. Now if only I could persuade others that I’m as good an artist as I want to be and get some solid sales under my belt I can feed my creative addiction. I need more precious metals and fabulous gemstones. I would also like to stock up on some lamp worked beads. I’m thinking about training in that field. I think I could totally get into glass.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Presenting The Flower Garden


Wandering around etsy I see variations on the theme, but I think each one of us that crafts handmade jewelry is bringing our own uniqueness to it and so I'm proud to present my flower element earrings. This one, in particular, I feel is fairly unusual. Simple, feather light, but soft and elegant. It's the exact polar opposite of the stuff I do with some of the earthier gemstones I am fond of, but that's my nature as a Gemini. Some days I wake up all flowers and air, and other mornings I want the rich deep veins of ore and earth.

I can say that my consistent inspiration is nature!

Finally!

Whew. I got my blog back. I was 'flagged' as spam for three days. It felt kinda dirty to be flagged like that when all I had written about was bread and and jewelry!

Anyway, I'm back, and I have more people I want to feature in my blog, and more stuff to scribble about.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Against the Grain

I don’t have Celiac Disease, but I do seem to suffer from gluten-intolerance and so I try and avoid wheat and other grains that contain gluten. It’s a little bit of a sacrifice for the sake of my health as I absolutely adore crusty artisan bread full of wheat and yeast and nothing can really replace that for me. Since I’m also currently doing the Atkins diet (it works for my body chemistry and blood type) I’m just avoiding all carbs anyway, except the green leafy buddy kind (i.e. broccoli, cabbage, kale, chard, salads, etc), so it’s not been an issue of late. I find avoiding carbs means I don’t crave them.

However I did just recently meet these folks and I can tell you that their product is delightful: Against the Grain. They are makers of excellent baked products to replace wheat-based goods. I think their bread tastes like Yorkshire Pudding but that’s not a bad thing in my mind; particularly as most gluten-free breads taste like cardboard or Styrofoam. They also do pizza crusts for those of you who just cannot do without pizza! I tried a slice of their crust with some yummy toppings the other day and it was darned tasty and really close to the real thing. They are a small company operating out of Brattleboro, Vermont, but they are starting to distribute to a larger and larger audience so look for them coming to a food store near you soon. If you’re lucky enough to live in their distribution range right now and unlucky enough to have Celiac Disease or be gluten intolerant check out their web site for stores near you.

Ooooh Thanks Juliafinucane!

Just a nice little promo here: For the Love of Jewelry

It's so nice to be noticed - thanks Juliafinucane!

More of Julia.

It was an interesting weekend – productive, but perhaps illuminating as well.


I talk about being a magpie a lot in that I am attracted to all sorts of bright shiny things and hence I have started stringing beads on string (there is a certain lesser status to the combining of elements already in existence if you didn’t have to hammer, bend, weld, cast, or otherwise get physical I have recently discovered), but my magpie nature goes beyond my desire for acquisition of lovely objects whether they be stones, plants, books, artworks in general…

I have a tendency to do a lot of things too. So my weekend consisted of a street fair where I took my jewelry to the sidewalk and was roundly ignored. Not really surprising in October in Vermont. It was terribly cold outside and even the band hustled off early, as did I after zero sales. I did manage to force one business card on a doughty tourist so maybe she’ll discover Etsy from my efforts.

I also worked in my studio painting – which is always good on the mind and hands and terrible on the wallet. I know I’m not supposed to think about such things, but I do. Bills must be paid and where is the justification in a canvas for thirty-five dollars and all that oil paint when no one will want to hang the finished work, let alone pay me for it. Oh… I’m not whining. Really. I’m being realistic. How many of us can afford to buy art just to hang upon the walls, and if we do we want something that will go with the d├ęcor. I just can’t make myself paint that stuff. But I don’t blame anyone for wanting it – I want stuff that is soothing to the eye too! After all when you’re home you want to relax, not think. Like one of my favorite painters is Francis Bacon, but hang one on my wall? I think not! I might for Lucien Freud but even then it might be pushing it… his nudes are so heavy, vulnerable, and confrontational; really in your face, mister.

On Etsy I managed to get a bunch of photos done of a bunch more of my stuff (some of the re-shoots after learning all the stuff I did wrong the first time) and so I have my listings in my shop up to a reasonable number finally – and at the same time I finally got some interest from browsing shoppers (rather than people I sent to etsy, which is fine, but I’m trying to increase my exposure, obviously). That was very exciting and encouraging. I hope to get another set of photos done soon, particularly as I created two more pairs of earrings in my floral series. I have some more ideas around that whole series and so need more supplies…

I sell to make money for supplies! I’m an addict. We need a support group.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I Took the Pledge...

I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

Yes, of course. Not only do I make handcrafted things, but so does my partner and half my friends, and this year I plan to make the holiday resplendent with beautiful handmade things. I have encouraged family and friends to either shop at local galleries, crafts shows, or go online to www.etsy.com. I also support Fair Trade and will allow items made by craftspeople in other countries as long as it's fair trade.

Featured Fellow Etsian : Mildoo & Moss


I came across this artist in a treasury, an excellent Etsy.com treasury, and I am now coveting one or more of these delightful creatures for my own (that's Hortense on the left). One of the appealing things about what this artist does in their listings is to show the little critters in a natural habitat peeping above the flora. It really brought them to life for me and made me laugh - out loud.

This is a new seller on the craft site etsy, but I sincerely hope that Mildoo & Moss becomes a successful one, if only for the very selfish reason that I want to be able to shop there for one of the little creatures when I can afford to indulge myself. These are not toys for kiddies, but toys for the young at heart, toys for artists. Each one has a unique and distinct personality that is engaging. Apparently you can hang them, but I think a spot on the couch would work just fine if I could just make sure that the cats didn't deposit fur on those lovely designer fabrics or hook a claw in the cloth! Ah, maybe the top of the dresser... I'm visualizing the spot now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Featured Fellow Etsian : Nomeworks


I love this particular piece, a slice of pink tourmaline framed with a tendril of sterling silver, by Nomeworks. The jeweler behind these one of a kind individual crafted and silver-smithed pieces is a personal friend of mine, but also a fantastic jeweler that really doesn't need me to tell you how original she is. Just looking at her original artworks gives you an idea of the creative juices flowing in that fertile mind. She finds inspiration in a number of difference sources but nature must number one. In this series of works that she has listed for sale at Etsy she is inspired by the twists of the Banyan tree.


She also works in gold, and her work is shown in Brattleboro, Vermont at the Gallery in the Woods, a wonderful cornucopia of delights - local artists and outsider artists, local furniture makers, painters, designers, as well as folk arts from around the world. For those of you that don't know Vermont Brattleboro is one of those places you should go for the weekend and check out all the great art. Every month they have a Gallery Walk on the first Friday and many of the downtown shops, galleries, restaurants, etc., participate in the event. The streets fill with people wandering from exhibit to exhibit.