Wednesday, November 6, 2013

From the Classroom

This past weekend I taught a Level Two Certification class. My students worked very hard for two days to design beautiful pieces that would incorporate all the techniques and design elements in the required projects. As sad as my photography is, their talent shines through.

Leslie Esterrich made a credit card sized pendant for the Three Texture Pendant project. Her mirror finishing was flawless, but as soon as I evaluated it, she dropped it back down to a brushed surface. In fact, this is the correct way to produce an even, soft, untextured finish. First, sand out all flaws, divots, and scratches and then use a brush or fine finishing/sand paper to apply the finish. This is the way jewelers have been doing it for eons. When you simply wire brush a piece of metal, whether it's kiln fired metal clay or milled sheet, you're just putting a shine on flawed metal. Taking the time to remove anomalies means the final look will be professional and long lasting.

Leslie also opted to curl a corner of her piece, which added to it's visual interest.

All of the ladies created beautiful enameled pendants. Two with a scratch foam texture, and one with a Photopolymer Plate that she had made in a separate class.

Leslie Esterrich, Jane Stark, Kathy Kennedy

The other projects were equally successful. The photos less so. Looks like I need to take some classes to improve my skill set too.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Visit to Somewhere

This past weekend I went to Atlanta to visit an L.A. based cousin who happens to be staying there this summer. It was amazing to see Joan and her husband and catch up on all the family happenings. One of the first things we did (after having lunch) was visit a wonderful craft gallery called Signature, and it formed the tone for the rest of my stay. There I discovered a wonderful sculptor named Kirsten Stingle whose figurative work is at once thought provoking and whimsical, vaguely disturbing (depending on your point of view) and engaging. Kirsten uses mixed media objects to bring her beautiful sculptures to life, including an antique riveting machine that she found at the Nashville "American Picker's" Antique Archeology store, a bottle washing rack, vintage millinery feathers, Ostrich eggs, and other interesting rusty bits and bobs. Right up my trash collecting alley!

When I got back to the hotel, I started stalking her online (better watch out what you post!), going to her website, then to her blog where I learned that she was preparing for her first museum show, then to a link to the gallery I had just visited that featured the work that would be included in the show - complete with a buy it now button. So I did! Buy something that is. The piece is in the show, so I won't actually receive it until after December 15 when the show closes. Ahh... sweet anticipation.

Character Block by Kirsten Stingle

Reading Kirsten's blog all the way back to the beginning (it's relatively new) was just as inspirational and thought provoking as her work is. Earlier posts were matter of fact observations of daily happenings, but soon she began to focus on this show and the preparation that was going in to it. She documents the building, finishing, decoration (glazing), and construction of each figure. The way Kirsten incorporates found objects into her character's narratives is so beautifully handled that a viewer/reader can't help but be struck by the thought and planning that she obviously puts into the design of her pieces right from conception. I'd love to look through a window into her brain - or even into her sketchbook, so I could observe each decision and choice. (Does that sound a little scary? I told you I was a stalker.) 

Kirsten is sharing the museum show spotlight with an encaustic artist named Lorraine Glessner whose work is equally engaging. If you're in the Atlanta area I encourage you to take a trip to see their work in person. I wish I could.

Reading Kirsten's blog has also reinvigorated my own creative proclivities. Although I'm not necessarily preparing for anything - no shows or sales in my near future, the urge to create (other than teaching samples) has been re awakened, and I'm itching to get into the studio.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Eye Candy

From my 'Hands' pin board

It's been another blog drought and the truth of the matter is that my hands have felt bound, wooden, uninspired, and lazy. And so has my brain for that matter. One of the 'benefits' of MS is the lovely side effect of fatigue. Which affects almost everything I'm discovering. Body, mind, will, and spirit.

Now I'm a very lucky girl as far as multiple sclerosis goes. I have full bodily function, live on my own terms, 'suffer' only very slight symptoms, and feel very grateful for my mobility. And the fatigue I feel is really not debilitating, as it is with other sufferers. It's just enough to bug the hell out of me. And make me long for days gone by when I actually had a creative idea in my head! Or more accurately the days when I had more creative ideas than I could produce.

I don't think my muse is gone forever, and I know there are things I can do to entice her back. But sometimes "Just Do It", just doesn't work. I'm taking life one day at a time. Today I'm in the studio, working on an Exploded Lentil sample (it's in the kiln or I'd show you), writing this blog, and prepping for my first day time class at The Visual Arts Center. Six weeks starting Thursday morning from 10:00 to 1:00 if you're in the area.

I've taught individual 8 hour daytime workshops, but this is a month and a half, 3 hour format that mirrors my evening classes. I've just never been sure that anyone would commit to a long term daytime class. I'm really excited that 5 people have signed up! So today is a good day. I'm looking forward, feeling the creative impulse, and am really happy to be here with you.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Certifiable Weekend

This past weekend I taught the first class in my (not so) little, private studiolo here in Richmond Virginia and I'm pleased to report that it went swimmingly. It was so nice to have everything I needed right at hand, without the muss, fuss, and struggle of lugging all my tools and equipment to another location. I have two small rooms that border a larger conference room. One is my working space where I have a table for metal clay and a bench for hard metals fitted out with a Foredom, soldering station, and bench pin. The other room holds bookcases of supplies and a lovely table from Harbor Freight supports my two kilns (an SC2 and a brick Spitfire One). The conference table is large enough to accommodate 7 students with me at the head. I had 4 students this weekend, so they could all spread out while still being close enough to bond as they worked.

The projects were a three stone ring, woven PMC sheet,
Pillow bead with carving and syringe drawing.

3 of my students were very experienced, and one was a total newbie! I was so proud of how well each one of them did in this very fast paced class. A certification class is not really the place for a beginner as Kathie discovered. Certain skills were difficult for her to master, and learning the idiosyncrasies of the material was a bit more challenging than she had imagined. To her credit, she decided to think of the workshop as a learning experience and opted not to try to finish the projects. The lentil bead and one stone ring she made were really well done for a first timer and she's determined to become more proficient with metal clay. Each of the students learned a new skill, and Pam found that she liked drawing with syringe!

Jane Stark, Pam Duska, Kathy Kennedy. Syringe Drawing.

I'm really looking forward to working with them again in November's Level 2 and am excited to be working on other advanced classes that I'll offer here. I like this teaching in my own space! I think I'll do it again. :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Eye Candy - Patina

A selection from my 'Wonderful World' board

Oh, the beauty of patina! I'm known for my use of pure, black, patina's in my work. I use a hydrochloric acid type solution, like Black Max - often applied with a toothpick to get into tight spots. I've found that if I apply patina to fine silver and then use a polishing pad to remove it from high points, the pad may take off too much color, but the porous metal clay retains enough under the skin that it looks more like sterling than fine silver, making the surface more uniform than I intended. Because I love high contrast, I apply patina only where I want it so that the polished fine silver stays as 'white' as possible.

How do these images inspire you? Isn't the black lion spectacular? His coloring is due to a condition called 'melanism' - the exact opposite of albinism. Nature never ceases to amaze me. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Eye Candy

Pinterest board: Decreptitude
Isn't it so interesting how, at the height of our technological prowess, we as a society seem to be reaching towards the past for inspiration? And not just the past per se, but the poor, falling down, ready to return to nature past. The appreciation for 'Shabby Chic' focuses on not only old worn design elements, but on pants that simply must hang down to the lowest common denominator (born out of hand me downs from elder siblings), depression era oversized dresses (remember the dress clips we wore in the 90's? Just like they did in the dust bowl depression?), peeling paint, broken statuary, abandoned estates... the list could go on and on. 

It seems we love the aesthetic (me included!), but romantically delete from our frames of reference the actual living conditions and day to day hardships that people from the chosen era had to endure. Would reenactors really like to fight in a civil war battle if they had to rely on 19th century medical practices? Would we find ancient Roman and Greek sculpture so elegant if it were painted with the lifelike (perhaps garish) colors scientists have found evidence of? These thoughts are what drive my personal design ethic. They are what compel me to pick up bits and pieces of flotsom and jetsom, to use found objects in my work, and to decorate my home with architectural salvage and hundred year old family photos.

How do you feel about looking to the past as a way to inform the present?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Return of the Eye Candy

I spent a couple of hours today cleaning up and rearranging my Pinterest boards. I think I made my first pin sometime last year, and now I have 2,721 pins on 66 boards. Wow!  Very prolific. But as often as I find beautiful images to upload and re-pin, I seldom take time to review and renew their inspiration. Today's exercise was a treat. With a purring kitty on my lap, and so many images to re visit, I almost didn't want the organization to end.

I found so many stunning images that I had forgotten about, that I thought I'd share them with you. One per week, with a little added commentary. Now, don't let me tempt you into looking at all my pins! Anticipation is a good thing, and waiting to be surprised each week will bring it's own kind of pleasure. But if you find yourself with time on your hands and a sketchbook in your fingertips, Enjoy.

Niebla combeoides (syn. Vermilacinia combioides, "bouquet fog lichen")

I thought this image of lichen clinging to a rock somewhere on the California coast would be a perfect inspiration for a brooch or pair of clip earrings. Wouldn't those little floral forms be wonderful with some powdery enamel? Fabricated from bronze or copper a verdigris finish would add the perfect realistic touch. This image is from my "I see Jewelry" board.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Jewelry Artist in Art jewelry

Many years ago I was asked to submit some photos to Art Jewelry, I no longer remember why. Well, they never used any of the photos I sent along. Until the July 2013 issue. Color me gobmsmacked. And delighted!

I originally made the copper focal element in a hydraulic forming workshop with Cynthia Eid many years ago, and it sat on my bench for a long while until I finally got the bright idea to use it in a class sample illustrating how to set an unusually shaped cabochon for the Level Three certification project. While this isn't a cabochon per se, it is an irregularly shaped object with a flat back - and that is all that is really needed.

This project is successful in many ways. Not only do the partial bezels and clay prongs function to hold the copper piece in place securely (which is the crux of the project), but the whole setting compliments the focal and repeats decorative elements, which reinforces the design. Notice how the spirals (made by curling a piece of wire and pressing it into the copper sheet) are repeated with metal clay syringe on the top of the silver setting, how the scalloped edges of the camera left side of the copper (perhaps obscured by prongs) are repeated in the scalloped edges of the bezels, and the scalloped edge of the backing piece, and a syringe squiggle is repeated three times on the upper right, upper left, and bottom center of the backing. On the back, I left a window in the silver, covered by a piece of thin glass, that reveals the underside of the hydraulic form.

All these repetitions create an inviting sense of rhythm and encourage the viewer's eye to travel around the piece. The longer someone's eyes linger on a piece, the more interesting they find it, the more they are drawn to it, and in the case of a potential collector, the more they may be inclined to want to buy it.

Using the principles of design in your work - balance, proportion, rhythm, and emphasis - will help you to create strong, dynamic pieces.

Friday, June 28, 2013


I didn't mean for it to last this long! I just wanted to take a little break from social media.

I'm pretty sure everybody who reads this blog knows that I recently re located from Los Angeles, where I was born and have lived all my life, to Richmond, Virginia.  I'm also confident that I've reported that as much as I'm loving the East, my cousins, and my new home and studio - I've had a hard time acclimating. Not to the weather - it never got too cold for me, I've been in snow before, worked in it, played in it, tried to get 'from here to there' in it; certainly not to my apartment, it was very easy to get used to 750 sq ft of hardwood floors and turn of the century moldings after living in builder grade, carpeted 300 sq ft for 26 years; and not to my lovely cousins Sally and Pat who have made me feel so very welcome and cared for. Yes, I've missed my friends in LA, and California cousin Joan, and my day to day habits and goings-on - but sometimes one takes things for granted without ever realizing it. I knew I loved living by the beach (although I seldom set foot on the sand in the last 10 years), driving up the coast, and enjoying all the other amazing natural gifts California has to offer. But it wasn't until I went home for a visit earlier this month that I was gobsmacked with a realization.

A view of Santa Monica from up high.
Photo by Amy Lewis Madnick
The vast difference between LA and almost all of Southern California, and the parts of Virginia that I've explored so far, are the terrain and the flora. And the impact they have on my psyche. Los Angeles is actually a mountainous desert. Water is imported primarily from Colorado (remember the movie Chinatown?). Many trees and other plants are imported from Mexico, Australia, Africa, and other dry climates. Which ultimately means that although I certainly wouldn't compare metro LA to the Gobi Desert, as far as an overabundance of vegetation - LA is rather sparse.

Richmond on the other hand is completely flat with nary a mountain in view, rich with forested land, green leaves, and short, quaint buildings. What do buildings have to do with it? Vista! Even the highways are surrounded with corridors of tall foliage. And in winter when leaves have dropped, the skeletal limbs provide a woody curtain that obscures the view of the passing countryside.
There's life outside of those trees, but
 it's all hidden from sight.

When I first visited Virginia the beautiful highways were one of the things that most attracted me. No tagged graffiti on underpasses, no homeless communities along the sides of the roads, no trash, no mess, nothing but verdant curtains and considerate drivers. But although I knew I loved sitting on the beach, contemplating a horizon of blue water into blue sky, and knew how much I'd miss it - I hadn't realized just how important wide vistas were to me. Until the beginning of this month when I was stuck in traffic on the 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, right near the buildings with murals of the orchestra members (if you know the area) and was looking off to the left and realized I could see forever! There's a reason 'On a Clear Day' was written. It's an amazing feeling of expansiveness and calm to me. Then when I was back in Virginia and took my cousin to the hospital for an outpatient procedure, and was in a 7th floor waiting room, that same feeling of peace came over me again as I gazed out the window over the tree-line, saw the horizon, and gave a deep sigh of satisfaction.

I've felt closed off from myself for a reason. Closed off from creativity, from activity, from ambition, from so many things - and this latest realization may hold a clue to why I've felt the compulsion to isolate. My hope is that the realization itself will also hold the key to recovery.

I am finally feeling more comfortable here. Loving going to the studio every day (well almost every day at least), loving nesting in my new home - choosing just the right pieces to share my habitat, of course loving how much the kitties love their new expanded playland. I'm back to submitting proposals, and working on new metal clay techniques, and now feel like rejoining the social media world. A bit at a time. I may still be absent on FaceBook from time to time. And may only tweet occasionally. But I have thoughts and plans and hope to put them into place as life goes on.

I've started a monthly newsletter and certainly hope some of you will send me your email addresses so I can sign you up (still haven't figured out how to link to a sign up here) and have made one video (with 4 more in the planning stages) and added it to my nascent YouTube channel.

Thanks for sticking with me, and for reading, and for all the support always. Here's to a place to feel at peace, a place of comfort and expansive emotions. Here's to all of our soft places to fall.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Best Laid Plans...

Well, the week just got away from me. No posts, no brooches, no eye candy. But I wrote an article for the next Metal Clay Artist Magazine, shredded receipts from 2004 and on, and am now getting ready to travel to Baltimore to check out the American Craft Council (ACC) show with Vickie Hallmark, Cindy Silas, and Donna Penoyer.

The ACC show is a high end craft show, with both wholesale and retail days. We'll be going to the retail portion. I don't think I'll buy anything, but there will be lots to drool over. Hope you have an inspirational weekend!

Monday, February 11, 2013

BAW 52/6

Feeling a little under the weather. I promise a real brooch next week. 

Kawp Owt. Found objects.
It's the dedication and the commitment that counts sometimes. ;)

Friday, February 8, 2013

BAW 52/5

I can't believe I didn't post last week's brooch, so in lieu of the usual Weekend Eye Candy, I'm rectifying that oversight.

I quite enjoyed using a jewelry saw to pierce the 44 in last week's offering, so I decided to continue the exercise with a little football in honor of the Super Bowl. The piece of metal I chose to use was 17 gauge copper that had the most beautiful naturally aged patina, which reminded me of a mottled pigskin ball. I snapped 7 saw blades piercing out the roman numerals, and then broke two drill bits when making the holes for the laces. I wanted to use very thin wire, which required small drill bits, which were probably not hefty enough to survive the trip through 17 gauge metal. Drat! To remove the bits from the holes, I needed to dissolve the steel with an Alum/water solution. Which I also use as a pickle. Which means that it removed my beautiful patina. But it also removed the broken drill tip - so bonus! (The recipe is 2 parts Alum - which you find in the grocery store, spice aisle - to one part water. I had to do it twice. The process is faster if you heat the water. Much like pickle.)

My design included using a single piece of copper wire (which I knew to begin with is NOT a hard enough metal for a pin stem) to act both as the ball's seam and the pin mechanism. Then 22g fine silver wire was used to replicate the lacings. Which look an absolute mess on the back of the brooch. I don't know how wire weavers create such tight, straight, beautiful looking weaves!

You can see that the turns in my piercing still need a lot
of practice. Too many round cut out dots where there should
be sharp corners.

But the front looks almost exactly how I first imagined it. I forgot to texture the football portion of the brass (it turns out, after pickling, that the beautiful patina was actually on a piece of brass, not copper), but I'm still pleased with my learning experience and the final brooch.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

BAW 52/4

BAW 52:4 by lorahart
'Traveler's Chatelain', Mixed Media.
I went to Washington DC this past weekend to visit with my cousin who was there for the inauguration (!). In addition to my visit to the Renwick Gallery to see the '40 Under 40' exhibit and that wonderful glass dress by Karen La Monte - I had a chance to visit congress (not in session) and the senate (talking about the immigration bill). I'd been there when I was little girl, and more recently to a craft show with a good friend, but I'd never had the chance to explore the city on foot, use the Metro, and stay in the heart of the city (Dupont Circle). Even with three days under my belt - I know I only scratched the surface. Can't wait to go back!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Brooches Week Three - Multiples

This week I'm struck by how the use of repetition in design can lead to progressive experimentation - as in Victoria Takahashi's use of leaves, then wings made of leaves, to wings made in copper; or create a line of colorful brooches that would display beautifully together - like Stacey Maddock's greeting card and sterling pins; or allow for an exploration of materials - such as with Shae Freeman's sweater pins.

Monday, January 21, 2013

BAW 52/3

Well, it looks like I'm continuing on with the fibula obsession. This week I took direct inspiration from Mark Nelson's video, and the 2nd inauguration of our 44th President.

I started by opening a 'Word' document and sampling a variety of fonts. I decided to use the 48 point, number 4 and affixed it to a piece of 18g brass sheet with a glue stick. Next a #3/0 saw blade pierced the two 4's, the oval, and the two long 'sticks' out of the brass. After filing and sanding the perimeter of the oval and interior of the numbers, I forged the long 'stick' into a roundish shape and filed it into a perfectly round wire!

Then I curled the long wire into a double loop, trimmed and shaped the pin catch, and voila! A fibula! I absolutely don't consider myself any sort of real fabricator. I dabble in hard metal work (as opposed to malleable metal clay). So I'm pretty impressed with the fact that I did this on my own - not in a class. I love learning a new technique.

I'll give you a few pointers if you decide to try your hand at a similar design.
1. Use rubber cement instead of glue stick if you need to glue a paper guide to the metal in order to pierce an intricate design. The paper kept releasing from the metal in my project and I had to both reapply the glue and hold the paper in place with my thumb as I sawed. You could also scribe the outside shape with a compass, instead of using a paper facsimile, as the video suggests.
2. To provide stability as you work, pierce the interior designs before sawing the outside shape.
3. To make a perfectly sharp corner, put gentle pressure on the back of the saw bade as you move it up and down in place, to turn the corner. When it's facing the correct direction, change the pressure to the front teeth of the blade and continue sawing forward.
4. Use a fishhook sharpener to refine the taper on the pin stem, or file a taper into your bench pin to sharpen the end of the wire. A few passes with a flat file, while turning the wire, will create a nice thin, sharp pin stem.
5. Take care which side of the brooch gets the longer wire. Most pins and brooches are designed for right handed people. A right handed person inserts the wire into the cloth from right to left, which means the pin stem should be on the left side of the brooch as you look down on it. All three of my fibulas work better for a left handed person and are kind of fussy for me to put on. Hopefully the third time will be the charm, and my next brooch will face the 'right' way.
6. Be careful how short you make the catch. The first two fibula's worked perfectly, but I cut the wire for the catch too short this time and the pin stem rests at an awkward angle when I close it.

Trying new techniques is a great way to stretch your imagination and spark the fire of creativity. Why don't you try to do something that is outside of your usual modus operandi?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Weekend Eye Candy - Brooch a Week 52/2 Edition

Week two and the pins are only getting better and better. These are all from the Brooch a Week group. I love the way some of them combine found objects with fine metal work. So whimsical and clever. It's not to late for you to join in the fun, you know!

Monday, January 14, 2013

BAW 52/2

I enjoyed making last week's simple, fibula, safety-pin so much that I thought I'd try my hand at forging a real fibula design. I saw a link to a post by a master Fred Zweig on Pinterest that was my initial inspiration, then went to YouTube to see if I could find a good video tutorial to augment what I learned in a fold forming class with Robert Dancik many years ago. To my amazement, I could only find two that directly dealt with making fibula's! Both by Mark Nelson of Rio Grande. Also both produced by Beads, Baubles, and Jewels. One worked with wire an the other one with sheet metal.  Neither were exactly what I was looking for, but I utilized bits and pieces of information from both to create my brooch.

Before forging and bending the pin catch

I'm really happy with the way it turned out for a first try, but I know I need to practice, practice, practice some more to make something that even approaches the beauty of Fred's examples. I started with 14g wire and forged the end that was to be the pin stem down to about 17g. I think I need a bigger bench block (mine is 4" square) or an anvil. I'm also not sure I was using the correct hammers. I used ball, riveting, and slightly domed planishing hammers to thin and move the metal. Files and 3M sanding pads smoothed out the hammer dimples, and a Pro Polish pad shined it up. My tumbler needs a new o-ring, so no tumble finish for me! Although I tried to use pliers to achieve the lovely undulating effect that Fred used in his designs, I think there's more technique involved than I can imagine. So instead I decided to add the lentil pendant before I forged the catch and bent it into position.

Maybe next week I'll attempt the sheet metal version of Mark's. Wonder what would happen if I tried to forge sterling clay??? Hmmm...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Weekend Eye Candy - Brooch a Week 52/1 Edition

What I love about challenges is the way they allow for experimentation and exploration. What I love about these brooches is the way each artist used found objects to create a piece of jewelry that is ephemeral, thought provoking, and that could certainly be used as a study for a metallic version.

These were all made by members of the Brooch a Day group. With 365 pins to make over the next year, using precious materials for each offering would not only be expensive, but time consuming. Using disposable materials gave each artist the freedom to experiment and just have fun.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

BAW 52/1

Well, I've done it again. I'm starting out the New Year intending to make a piece of jewelry a week and post it in a Flickr group. This time the Etsy Metal team has invented the Brooch a Week challenge. There are even some dedicated artists who are making a Brooch a Day! Now that's a challenge.

I mean to post my creations here every Monday. I was feeling a little under the weather this week, so I'm late. Oh well. Such is life.

I began with high hopes of a fabricated stick pin using elements I already had in my studio. I bought the fun ceramic eye bead years ago on Etsy, and wanted to make my own Victorian lover's eye brooch. The bezel was cut, fitted, and soldered uneventfully - but when it came to soldering the the bezel to the backing... well, you can see what happened. For many reasons that I won't go into. Let's just say it was operator error and move on, shall we?

After deciding to put it aside for another day - my eye fell on a textured piece of Creative Paper Clay that I made almost exactly a year ago in the studio of Miss Lorena Angulo. Ah! Perfection. I added some glass seed beads, embellished with oil pastels, forged a simple fibula pin, and sewed it all together with silk cord. And I love it!

Shot with my iPhone on black foam.
Not the best surface.

Tips for making a fibula pin:
1. Watch a YouTube video to refresh your memory
2. Forge the wire to thin and lengthen it (something I hadn't done in the past)
3. File the hammer marks with a bastard from the hardware store (no, not the salesman)
4. File the file marks with a needle file
5. Sand the needle file marks with sandpaper
6. Hammer the other end into a paddle shape to act as the catch
7. Bend to fit
8. Polish

This is the nicest pin stem I have ever sharpened. The others started with wire, followed by lots of filing and swearing. It's the forging first that's the secret! Finished it in about 5 minutes.

I have no idea what I'll do next week, but I'm looking forward to it. Wouldn't you love to join me?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year, New You (And Renewed Me)

What a whirlwind of activity I had in 2012! Moving from the west coast to the east was quite the experience. Not just because of the physical packing (and un-packing), but the planning and mental preparation, leaving the comfort and familiarity of a landscape and social life I had enjoyed all my life, and acclimating to a new environment were much more difficult that I had imagined. I landed in Richmond on August 1st, and it's taken me a while to get back in the groove.

My apartment and new studio are wonderful. I'm surprised by how much I enjoy leaving the former to travel to the latter. Working in an outside studio (without interruptions by furry distractors) has been invigorating. Being able to set up separate stations, leave work out at the end of the day, store supplies out of sight of visitors, and of course the ability to hold classes in my own space are all gifts that I'm so grateful for. And now coming home at the end of the day to my sweet purring pets is extra welcoming and comforting.

I have many plans swirling around my brain. I'm designing new classes that I'd love to teach around the country, making samples for the new and improved certification projects, experimenting with combining porcelain clay and metal clay, and re-invigorating the Mentorial program that I designed in 2010.

I'm so proud to have been able to help artists from around the world raise the bar on their own artistic practice. I really enjoy the one on one interaction, brainstorming together to find solutions to each maker's particular concerns. I'd be honored to be able to guide you as you transition from your current path to a more complete vision of your creative business. Whether you need help discovering your unique artistic voice, want to begin teaching, need help navigating the craft show scene, want to explore other methods of production to add to your creative tool box, or  are considering scaling up any other aspect of your art - I'd love to mentor your journey.

The method and frequency of our relationship is up to you. Voice to voice, face to face Skype meetings allow us to share work in progress and brainstorm in real time, while in-depth, written communications via Etsy's Convo system provide more time for thoughtful consideration and the ability to go back and review our discussions in a detailed manner.

Being able to choose exactly what you want to work on, how long you want to spend on each aspect of your business, and exactly when you want to meet is a very organic way of working, and the affordability just can't be beat.

Please let me know if I can help you realize your dreams. Feel free to e-mail for a free consultation. Here's to a wonderfully creative and fulfilling 2013 to all! Thank You for reading.