December 2008


2390016I try very hard to create beautiful, unusual, artisan jewelry that meets a certain level of quality in design.  Most of the time I succeed.  Once in a while, I put something together, look at it later, and have the “what were you thinking” moment.

That happened with the first piece I made using the dark green drop at the bottom of this necklace.  I think my mistake was trying to use the drop as a focal point by itself .  It did not have the presence that it now has used in conjunction with the coin and wrapped wire.  So, I cut the – shall we say – less than successful piece apart, let the green drop hang out for a while, got this idea, and tried again.  The result is so much better.  As we move into 2009, is there anything you would like to make over?

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cameron

In between working on other pieces, and squeezing in tasks here at home, I have been working on the shadow box series and finished the second piece shown above.  I named the first shadow box necklace after my niece Haley.  She visited recently and was enamored by it, so I decided to give it her name.

This necklace, I am naming after another niece, Cameron.  I love the rich tones in the piece – deep pinks, reds, burgundies – strong colors that would normally compete with each other for attention.  In this piece, they play nice together calmed by accents of golden toned glass beads and strong repetition in the necklace part of the piece.  I also like the narrow silhouette and again the single pearl resting at the bottom of the piece.  I have started on the third pendant and keep telling myself I need to make earrings, but am drawn to the necklaces at the moment.

nandinaRight now it is winter where I live and anyone who knows me knows I prefer warmer weather.  I love it when the flowers are blooming, the leaves are out, and the world is alive with color.

Winter has a quieter beauty.  You notice the bones and structure of trees without their leaves.  It is the time of year that evergreens show their stuff.  One evergreen that grows very well in my area is the nandina.  This is the one in my front yard and this time of year it treats me to a blaze of color with its vibrant berries.  Just beautiful.

These are my top five tips for artists, artisans, and craftspersons.

Do what you love.  If you love it, you will pursue it in a way that connects with your inner spirit.  If you are passionate about it, people will feel the energy you put into it and will respond.  If you love it, you will move beyond the rejection letters, horrible craft shows, and moments of feeling invisible.

Challenge yourself.  To grow, experiment, stretch.  Take classes, read books, make crazy art you think no one will understand.  Learn from those who have mastered your craft.  Learn from life.  Take it all in – the color of sky, the touch of breeze on your skin, a well turned phrase, graffiti – and express it.

Give freely.  Have an open heart and be glad to share what you know with others.  Contribute to the body of knowledge in your area of expertise.  Join guilds,  clubs, or societies in your medium and participate.  The universe rewards the cheerful and generous giver.

Understand pricing.  The business side of art should not be ignored.  Know what you put into each piece.  Value yourself and your unique contribution.  Take time to understand pricing structures and models and never sell yourself short.  Be fair.

Care – really care – about the customer.  Treat every customer, really everyone you come into contact with, the way you would like to be treated.  Be polite, prompt, and honest in your communications.  Bend over backwards to handle problems.  Have that little extra polish when it comes to packaging, business cards, and other materials.

conceptQuite some time ago, I got the idea to make a necklace from pieces of felt I bought at a local quilt show.  I remember being mesmerized by the colors and beauty of real wool felt.  Growing up, I knew felt as the type you would buy in a craft store – inexpensive fabric in very basic colors.  At the time, I had no idea any other type of felt even existed.  So when I saw real wool felt, saw the colors and sophistication – how could I resist?

I got the felt home and it sat in a closet – a while.  I pulled it out to try and make something, but  the concept just wasn’t coming together.  I made this little mock-up and put it in a plastic bag to do something with it later.  Last night, while I was looking for something else, I saw it, and the idea of what to do with it immediately came together.  I am glad, so very glad, that I learned not to kill little seedlings of ideas because they are not fully formed upon initial thought.  Some ideas have to hang out a little while.

daughtersbraceletThis is the bracelet I made for my friend’s daughter.  I made a pink bracelet for my friend that kept being borrowed, so she requested one for her daughter.

I had a little trouble finding the right focal beads but after a some searching, I found these lovely pink gemstone faceted rectangles.  I created a bracelet around them using tiny bits of tiger’s eye to accent the colors in the pink stone beads.  My friend is happy, her daughter is happy and has now ordered earrings…

beadsThis is the cabinet where I store most of my beads.  Here you can see a good bit of them – not all.  I store them in divided plastic containers sorted by color.  In some cases, within a color range, they are organized by shape and size, in other cases, not so much.

I really, genuinely love beads and derive much of my inspiration from them.  They can be temperamental.  I have beads I might have bought 4-5 years ago.  I bought them because I liked them and when I got them home they didn’t really want to get along with anyone else.  So, I let them be.  It is amazing, sometimes years later the exact right compani0ns come along and I see a possibility never before imagined.

It would be awesome to have room for another shelf like this – I don’t.  So I store beads where I can, move things around, and make the best of what I have.  And I try, really try, to honor what is beautiful about each and every one of them.

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