Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quick and Easy

I love old Roman Rings and have always wanted to make myself one but never did. Then when I was trying to come up with a riveting project for a class, I looked at my friend Dona's hand and saw this. Well, one like it. Hers was a forged band with three brass beads riveted in place.

Perhaps taking pictures in the early morning light is not such a good thing.

So cute. So easy. I'm spending the rest of the day making more to take to my show at the Contemporary Crafts Market the first weekend of November. (Sans fabulous woven PMC paper barrel bead)

This one's mine. I drilled the first holes too low and the ring didn't fit.

I'd love to see some of you there! Click on the link above for a get in free ticket!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Liz Steiner Edition

Liz Steiner is a new Flickr discovery for me. I recently happened upon her photostream and fell in love. Beach Cycle consists of black sand; beach stones or salt sewn into delicate, transparent fiber pouches and jagged bits of slate bound with string. The collections of nature's flotsom and jetsom, Cad/Cam designs and sun printing/cyanotype experiments in her pages are equally fascinating.

I don't know her at all yet. Haven't read any of her commentary, just found her blog five minutes ago and don't know what the inspiration behind her work is, but this quote from her blog gives me a hint into her process:

" I only make brooches and neckpieces. Large neckpieces. I think this is because I love these things I work with so much and what they represent to me, that I literally want to wrap my self in them. Cover myself. Swathe my self in them like a favorite blanket. I love these things and I want them on my person. I want them within reach."

I so agree! I want them within reach too. ;-) I'm so happy to have discovered her imaginative; thoughtful and unique gems.

Drop by Paige, Christine and Michelle's blogs to see their sweet treats too.

Welcome to the Carnival...

Step right this way... Each month a group of jewelry artists use their blogs to get together online and answer the same question - each in their own way. The topic this month is:

"Out of all the pieces you've created, which one means the most to you and why"

This one's easy. I still have three of the pieces that mean the most to me. They're battered and scarred, but I treasure them because they changed my life.

For 17 years I had been a make up artist doing commercials in LA when the actor's strike of 2000 hit. I ended up being out of work for 6 months. Besides being broke, I was bored out of my mind and was doing anything and everything I could think of to both entertain myself and pay the rent. During the span of the strike a couple of events converged that helped me imagine my life in a new light.

Luckily, a friend who was an Imagineer at Disney needed help on a big project and hired me to create some props for a Sinbad ride that was going into the new park in Japan. I painted children's toys in exotic designs ( I especially loved a small horse on wheels - wish I had a pic of it) and strung miles and miles of crystals, gem chip beads and plastic pearls into the strings of bling that spilled out of the many treasure boxes in Sinbad's cave. After the job was done I was cleaning out my couch cushions and found quite a collection of goodies that had migrated into the depths. I couldn't just throw them away - so I made my first piece of beaded jewelry with a focal piece that I bought at the local bead store. Which I had never stepped toe in before. Fun!

Being a make up artist consists of a lot of running around the set - back and forth to the trailer, over to craft services and sneaking in front of the camera to powder noses. The strike was wreaking havoc with my non exercise work out regimen! So I started to take a long morning walk around my neighborhood. I live very close to a charming yet touristy Main Street shopping area and early morning window shopping seemed just the thing to take my mind off the fact that I was actually doing something healthy.

About 3/4 of a mile down there was (and is) a storefront with pretty jewelry in the window called Precious Metal Arts. A jewelry making studio! Oooh! I decided to go back when they were open to enquire. I did. But found out that classes were around $400.00 and as I've said before - I wasn't makin' much money. Disappointed, I walked back out the door when I noticed a piece of paper far down the window that had $50 printed on it. Well, that was worth stooping for so I took a look at the description of a class on something called Metal Clay. Hm. What did that mean? So I went back in, asked and signed up on the spot for my first experience with the great grey goop.

Well, I fell in love, started making beaded jewelry with PMC focals - mostly words and custom initial earrings - and selling in Farmers Markets and craft shows around town. A few years later someone at a show suggested that I start teaching and the rest is history.

What happened to my make up career? Honestly the strike couldn't have happened at a better time. I was never good at the networking thing, was tired of the egos and the long hours and decided to let that phase of my life mosey off into the sunset. I got calls for work for a couple of years, but wasn't doing any active campaigning for jobs so when they fizzled to an ember - I let the job die a natural death. And I've never been happier. I totally miss the money. Any job in the industry pays stupid big wages, and craft service (a table loaded with food at all times) was fun, but the lack of stress, addition of sleep coupled with the ability to set my own hours making beautiful fine silver jewels? Priceless!

Be sure to check out the other carneys to see what they have to say:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name

There's an interesting thread being discussed on the Orchid Forum over at Ganoksin - again. (to follow the thread keep clicking on the blue "Thread Next") "What Makes a Goldsmith?" It's a question that is repeatedly raised and I'm not sure that there will ever be a definitive answer. What are we? What term is the proper one to define what we do?

Van Eyck, The Goldsmith's Guild

Strictly speaking a smith is one who smites metal with a hammer. A Silversmith is one who uses hammers and stakes to form 3 dimensional objects like sugar bowls, trophies and platters (no matter what kind of metal is being used). A Bench Jeweler is one who is skilled enough in so many aspects of jewelry making that they can set stones and do repairs on just about anything. A Stonesetter is an expert who specializes at setting every kind of stone in every type of setting. A Jewelry Maker is just that. Someone who makes jewelry. An Art Jewelry Maker is one who uses alternative materials or works in an unconventional style. To the best of my understanding an art jeweler and a studio jeweler are the same thing. One who works for themselves in their own studios, creating their own designs.

A Jeweler is one who works with every kind of metal from copper to titanium to silver to gold, sets stones, perhaps casts, fabricates from scratch, does repairs expertly. I think of a Jeweler as one who makes what Maggie Bergman described as red, white and blue jewelry. Ruby, diamond and sapphire. The types of pieces you might find walking down the red carpet or in the cases at Cartier or (gasp) Zales. A Goldsmith is the creme de la creme. A master with years of experience behind them. One who can do all of the above and then some. A Master Goldsmith is skilled beyond even that.

It's a little easier to understand the nomenclature in Europe where they've had guilds that have defined each technical level since the middle ages. In America the terms Apprentice, Journeyman and Master are used in theory only. In Europe they are very highly regarded, much regulated and guarded.

And what about the term Artist? Are you an artist because you think of yourself as one? Because you work with your hands and imagination? Or is it an honorific that others bestow upon you (collectors, customers, fans, so called experts)? Are you an artist because someone else views your work to be exceptional? Or because you do?

I consider myself an artisan. A maker of art jewelry. I do some smithing when I forge wire. I know how to solder, admittedly not very well. I know how to set cabochons so that they stay put. I'm (arguably) an expert with metal clay. I'm not by any stretch of the imagination a Jeweler.

So, what do you call yourself? What do you put on your income tax form where it asks for profession? (my accountant insists I list 'jeweler' and I've acquiesced - but feel it's a fraud) Do you think the entire discussion is much ado about nothing or is it food for thought?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Back in the Saddle

I was in a bit of a funk last week and got absolutely nothing done. Wahhhh. Okay. Those are enough tears. Especially since it's only mid morning and I've finished one necklace and am 3/4 through another one. Maybe I'll have some new things for the Contemporary Crafts Market in November after all.

Blue chalcedony, quartz and aquamarine on the chain and pearls to come. Gotta take a trip downtown.

Black star sapphire and pearls. Might have to keep this one. There's a small flaw on the stone.

I might have been in that funk because my beloved kiln is in sad shape. I might need a new muffle. Must get off the computer and call Paragon. They were so nice when I called with my problem. I sent off a million (or maybe only 10) pictures and Paragon will research it and tell me if there's something I can do on my end or if the kiln will have to be sent back to the factory. And if that's the case - do I do it or simply buy a new kiln (which I can ill afford). After the new part charge, the labor charge and the shipping charge it might run to around $400-500 bucks!!! Damn thing is only 4 years old. Say a little prayer for me won't you?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Sarah Hood Edition

I first became aware of Sarah Hood through Lark's 500 series. Her work has been featured in Pendants and Lockets, Earrings, Necklaces and Enamel.

One of the things that really intrigues me is how she has taken a single interest, nature, and explored it in so many mediums and styles. From actual leaves, pods and spices to model railroad scenic props, to iconic Hindu imagery. Whether she's fabricating a one of a kind showpiece or casting multiples for a more universal commercial line - each design she creates speaks to every other.

Her pieces are playful, thoughtful and energetic. A delightful example of natures gem's translated into precious jewelry.

Be sure to check out Paige, Michelle and Christine's blogs to see their great eye candy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Home Sweet Home, Part 1

Well, I went to San Francisco - but although there were no flowers in my hair I had a fantabulous time! Miss Catherine picked me up at the Oakland airport and then we drove into the city where we met up with Ruth, Jennifer and Sue for lunch. Velvet Da Vinci was wonderful and I so recommend it to anyone going to Northern California. We spent about two hours looking at all the work , and then looked at it all again and again and again. The sales person was really nice and showed us many pieces, allowing us to try on, examine and dream a little dream of ownership. Sigh.

Catherine, Moi, Jennifer, Sue, Ruth

Later on Catherine and I went to the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park to get our culture on. There were galleries with wonderful art of the (south) Americas, glass, and 18th century oils.

At one point I looked from one gallery into another one and saw a taxidermied swan hanging on the wall! As I walked closer I was flabbergasted to discover that it was a trompe l'oile oil painting. The photo below does NOT do it any justice at all.

Sadly I neglected to note the artist. Bad !

We saw a couple of contemporary sculpture/works that I've seen in magazines. Karen La Monte's Glass dress was un believably beautiful. I soooo wanted to touch it. But the guard was right there. Fooey.

And then there was the striking sequin ... sculpture? suit? artwork by Nick Cave. Even more amazing than the photos in Ornament magazine promised.

I was even lucky enough to see one of Georgia O'Keefe's glorious flower paintings.

Of course the De Young has many fabulous Museum Stores which Catherine and I just had to visit too. And somehow, magically, our wallets opened and green paper floated out of them and into the coffers of the De Young. How did that happen?! In exchange, we each went home with earrings by one of my favorite jewelry artists, Eric Silva.

Antler and ruby. Mine!

All in all, I had a grand time. Must go back soon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Weekend Wanderings

Hi All,

I'm going to San Francisco this weekend to co teach a Level Two Certification class with Mary Ellin D'Agostino. Something I have to do before I can teach one myself. I haven't been to "The City" for twenty years or so and I'm so happy to be going back.

One of the things I'm really excited about is that I'm going to meet up with some of my Etsy Team Mates and go to Velvet Da Vinci Gallery and out to lunch! Catherine Witherell is picking me up at the airport in Oakland at about 10:15 (Diety willing and the creek don't rise). Then Jennifer Smith-Righter, Ruth Baille and Sue Urquart will meet us at the restaurant and we'll begin our adventure.

I've always wanted to go to Velvet. They represent some of the most amazing jewelry artists on the planet. And I wanted to share the experience with y'all a bit, so today's Eye Candy is taking a little trip too. Do be sure to visit the online gallery yourself to see more of the glorious jewels that live in the city by the bay.

Monday, October 5, 2009


What a great weekend. I'm exhausted, but happy. I led three, count'em, three Intro to PMC classes in a row! Friday in Tustin, Saturday in Glendale, Sunday in Sierra Madre. Great students, all. Really - I must remember to bring a camera to these things. They all made such lovely pieces.

I'm also terribly excited that three of my rings made it into the PMC Guild Annual! (Volumes 1 & 2 now available on Amazon - volume 3 to follow) This is my third year to be represented in that gorgeous publication. Whooppee! I'll also be featured in TWO calendars. Holly Gage's "The Art and Design of Metal Clay Jewelry Calendar 2010" and Marjorie Oxman's "2010 Metal Clay Calendar" featuring the members of the Etsy MetalClay team (available soon).

AND Whole Lotta Whimsy and PMC Connection have both honored me by wanting to use my work in ads that will appear in the new Metal Clay Artist Magazine! The premier print version will be out soon, but the website has a digital sample you can take a look at.

Many thanks to the Diety and to the humans who thought my work was inspirational enough to include! *doing a happy dance now*

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Weekend Eye Candy - Andy Cooperman Edition

This is Andy Cooperman's photostream in it's entirety. 12 shots of 8 pieces of jewelry. If you count the ring group as a single piece. I'm posting it because I'm hoping it will inspire some of you to explore more of his work.

He's been a hero of mine for a while. His fabrication is absolutely perfection. His use of materials is always unique. His design aesthetic makes me want to know more. To look more closely. At the image I'm viewing at the moment and into my own thought process.

I really love that Andy (or an assistant) started this Flickr page and hope that someday he'll remember it and add more gorgeousness. I wish more of the top jewelry makers whose work we're familiar with through Metalsmith and other magazines would also start their own photostream. If you know any, would you ask for me? ;-)

I'm teaching all weekend, including Friday, so I'm posting early. Don't know if Michelle, Paige or Christine will post some candy too, but why don't you go take a look? And have a creative weekend!