This is a wonderful short documentary on a talented jeweler. Its well worth the watch.Read More
Friends treated Dave & I to a day trip down the Deschutes River last weekend. It was beyond wonderful. And symbolic…..in a sappy way.
In my world of summer shows once April-May comes I feel like I'm on a river trip dropping into a rapid. And I don't pop out of it until September. For me it means paddling as fast as I can all summer long, never looking up, and hoping all turns out well. Last year had its rocky spots; we lost our canopy & all of our display to freaky wind in Des Moines & I managed to break a shoulder running for the porta-potty at Art in the Pearl. But it had its highs, great shows…and our dot was married to a most wonderful man at our home.
This year it was a great year, minus any rocks, flips, or personal injuries. We had interesting weather, snow in Laramie-Wyoming, hid from a tornado in Seibert, Colorado, 3 days of rain and great sales in Belleville, Ill. We made it thru Des Moines with only one threatened wind storm that never came, more great sales and a beautiful drive home that took us north of Joplin, Missouri the day the tornado hit there. We were lucky. While we were saving a turtle that day in Missouri, helping it cross the road, Joplin was hanging on.
We had more rain in Salem (the first rain on the show in 35 years!) and welcomed being in Bellevue, Wash in a lovely inside parking garage. At Art in the High Desert-Bend, Oregon, the show we help produced with 3 other board members...we were honored, surprised and deeply touched to be awarded a Bench Mark Award by the AHD artists to us for putting on the kind of show they wanted to come to.
And we ended the show season at Art in the Pearl, Portland, Oregon...our other "home" show. We love the Pearl.
…And now its September the post show month. And this year I am determined to take September off, the calm after the rapids. A corny analogy to be sure, but apt.
I’m cleaning the studio….which you can see it badly needs, packing for a wonderful trip our son and his lovely lady; planned by them just for us, taking long naps, riding my bike, and enjoying the delayed summer as it finally is hot in Central Oregon.
A fine end to a wonderful show season. Thanks all for making it memorable, profitable, full of laughter, and coming along with Dave & I for the ride.
Here in Central Oregon, head down, tail up, working working working. You'd think I could get to the computer to type a few words but I always want to "craft" the words on this blog, add photos, etc. so I make it more time-consuming then I should and nothing gets done.
But to catch up since December!
January 2011: Relaxing thinking all my life was up-to-date, could let go for a while. Working on jewelry commissions, life was good, cold-snowy, but good. I was in control. Silly me.
February 2011: Damn me. Art in the High Desert was in Jury Mode had a pile of work to do to organize that.
March 2011: Jury results were released. Lots to organize that, work with accepted artists, write 86! detailed jury feedbacks for artists who requested them. So much work, but so important to do. I also etched 10 sheets of expensive! sterling silver to hold me thru the summer.
April 2011: Hummm, show season is coming, still working on jury feedback, have commissions I'm trying to get done, but summer is still far far far away.
May 2011: Damn Dave! He pointed out that Belleville, Illinois---a great show is just around the corner. Panic mode....Art int he High Desert still needs my time, the studio needs my time, wasn't I going to cross country ski more?
I made it through May, went to Belleville's Art on the Square 2011, had a wonderful show. Followed that with a trip to Indianapolis for an art/show directors' conference. And now am home.
May's photo for you is Dave & I and our trusty mini van hiding from a tornado in Seibert,Colorado. Can ya see us?
Off the subject of jewelry, I am happily wallowing in the leftovers of a wonderful, way-too-busy summer, happy wedding memories, and some gorgeous Fall weather.
Our dot is now married to a most wonderful man, who brings with him a great family. The Fox Fam has been enlarged and enriched! This was an unexpected bonus to marrying off the kid. I had only thought in terms of her being married happily and moving all her stored stuff outta my house, finally. To have her find a man with a great family is an unexpected delight. Extra bonus, our son-her brother & the groom's sister were the officiants for the wedding. And as the son told people all summer, "I'm going marry my sister this September." And that he did, sorta, while wearing his beloved grandfather's re-tailored summer "ice cream" suit.
Friends were married the next week in Napa/St.Helena, California. They did so to give all us guests a present of being in Napa during the crush (when the grapes are picked and smashed for wine) and to let us discover this most amazing area. A most sublime-dreamy wedding it was.
Art in the Pearl, Portland. Wowsers! what a show. Its always our best and such a great way to end a summer. Its nice to finish a season with such an appreciative audience. We must jury into the show each year, so we cross our fingers and put our best images out there and hope the jury likes us, so we can it all again next year.
And speaking of the Art in the Pearl. What is wrong with this picture?
This would be my broken right arm. Not a good thing for a right-handed metalsmith. I was running to a porta pottie switched directions quickly and my feet got way behind the rest of me. A curb & I met rather abruptly. Damn. Not my best move. It would have been so much better if I'd been in a bar fight.
I am one-armed for a few more weeks. And I must say its a raging bore. Each day tho' my right hand and arm sneak in to do more things that the left arm has been doing, so I should be back up to full strength soon.
My next show is a ways off, Local 14 in Portland, Oregon; October 14-17. I'll be there, with a reduced inventory, but there.
Whatta summer. Its been 5 months of all out hurrying as we went from one show to the next, to 2 weddings, one at our home! First things first. We have recovered from our Des Moines blow-out.
I am again humbled and grateful for the friends we have. They supported us in all ways as we set about returning our booth to its full form. Without these friends we would have never made it through this summer. Here we are a mere 2 weeks after losing our booth in Des Moines back up and running at Salem Arts Festival here in Oregon.
My rings were even part of the massive I-5 freeway billboard. It's quite a surprise to see one's rings so BIG.
From there we went immediately to the Bellevue Arts Festival in Bellevue, Washington. This is a wonderful show, with some of my favorite artists. Extra bonus for us weather weary is that it is inside a parking structure that provides shade and protection from rain, hot sun, and winds!
Then it was on to Art in the High Desert - the show we put on with a group of local artists, here in Bend, Oregon. This is our baby and we had 3 weeks to put the final touches on it before welcoming this year's artists. We in our 3rd year and it gets better each year.
A week after Art in the High Desert we were at Art in the Pearl, in Portland, Oregon. This proved to be an eventful show in many ways for me. But more in the next blog.
Happy Fall, all. Sign up for my newsletter. Once Fall is well-under way I will be starting online sales and discounts! just for my mailing list clients. If you signed up at a show, you can wait for me to add you, or add yourself. My program, MailChimp eliminates all duplicates.
Thanks for a great summer!
But the in between was grand.
The house sitters were in place, the dog sent to the dot for a vacation, and we hit the road to Belleville, Illinois, just south of St Louis. For two weeks, Dave, the hub, had been giving me updates on the weather in St Louis. "It's in the 80's," he's been repeating. Sounds wonderful to me. I packed my accordingly, I was tired of a sloppy wet winter-spring.
As we pulled out of Bend on an overcast day I looked forward to driving into warmer dryer weather. Hey, we were heading south. I pulled on some early summer clothes hopped into the van and bid the house and studio a fond farewell. This is what we drove into.
In Laramie, Wyoming-May 12, 2010, they closed all south and east highways. With 500 miles a day to do, sitting on the edge of a snowy freeway was not in the game plan. But it was Mom Nature's plan. We joined a long line of trucks waiting for the freeway to be plowed and reopened. Sigh.
Our next decision was to go through Kansas or Nebraska? I voted for the southern route as it had to be drier and warmer, but as we checked we found that route had tornado warnings on. Nebraska it was.
No storm can cover a country from the west coast to the midwest, but seemingly this storm did or it was chasing us. We finally pulled into Belleville, Illinois Thursday eve in the rain. And so the weekend went. Rain, some clearing as a tease, and more rain.
The good news is that Belleville folks are no more intimidated by a little rain then they are in the Pacific NW. The crowds were out, they loved the art, and best for us artists they bought. Hooray! Thank you Belleville. One can withstand a soggy show if company and appreciative clients abound. We were treated like royalty, given great food, show every hospitality by the 500+! volunteers and even awarded a prize for excellence that came with $! This show rated as one of our best ever shows, even with the rain!
We packed up Sunday eve, damp, but happy and it was on to our next show. Problem is that it won't happen for 5 weeks and is in Des Moines, Iowa. We decided that the best thing to do was store the van with the booth and fly home. This good decision turned into a great decision when it rained the last few minutes as we loaded up and all our carefully dried out things got wet again.
Once in Des Moines we rented a storage unit, unpacked and re-dried off our booth and its various pieces, gave our hard-working van a run through a car wash and locked the door on it all.
Now we are thinking we're pretty clever folks. We've braved snow, freeway closures, tornado warnings, torrential rain, figuring out how to dry out and store a very wet booth, and we have our earnings and prize money in hand.
But wait....we're not home yet. We board a plane in Des Moines with a long stopover in the Dallas International Airport. While waiting to fly home we decide to have a meal & we both pick out a healthy, fresh, yummy salad, all sealed up in safe plastic. We arrive Tuesday eve and Wednesday morn Dave wakes me up to say he's not feeling so good. Hummmm. I'm fine....must be HIS problem. By Thursday its my problem too. A raging case of food poisoning hit us both. No details, ya'll been there, done that....but yegawds what a homecoming. We both took to our bed and I didn't pop back up for almost a week. Is this a result of feeling smug and clever, I dunno. But it sure took the starch outta my sails.
Happily we're all recovered, the rain is STILL coming down, its JUNE for gawd-sakes! and I'm back at the bench getting ready for Des Moines. We will reclaim our booth from the storage facility, repack our van, and go to downtown Des Moines and do it all over again.
I hope to see you there!
Every once in a while someone comes into the booth, regards my jewelry and asks, "Are you making this with pmc?" NO, NEVER!!!! I want to shout, but I gulp and moderate it down to, "No, all my work is sterling silver and I do my own etching." Now if they are really foolish they will gaze again at my work and particularly my box clasps and tell me I should use pmc. I am usually less moderate with my next answer.
But what is PMC and why am I not happy when asked if I use it and even less happy when told I should use it? It is precious metal clay that is fine silver suspended in a clay medium. It has a great appeal to hobbyists and people without technical metalsmithing skills. I am neither. Once a piece is made in pmc it is fired and becomes (if done correctly) fine silver. I have "issues" with pmc but that is for another blog entry. Today it's about what I do to get the etched patterns on my pieces.
First, I always work in sterling silver because of its strength and its ability to accept patinas. Fine silver is not a strong metal and it won't take a patina. Etching sterling involves a vile chemical process that I have worked long and hard to perfect, plus it's just plan hard work. Stamping a design on a piece of metal clay is easy. Etching is a several day process.
Because of the time involved I always do several sheets of sterling silver at one time. This means it's expensive too, so I go slowly as I don't want any mistakes. I do have sheets of etched silver that are just downright ugly and unusable. I have learned. My etching starts long before I ever don my acid gear and put on a respirator. First, I must create patterns that I want to etch into the sterling. This usually involves many drafts and finally I scan the final version into my computer where I employ both Photoshop and Illustrator to clean up the final artwork.
Raw artwork before cleaning it up
I transfer that artwork to a resist... something that the acid (or in my case ferric nitrate) cannot eat through. This step is perhaps the most important, as a good resist makes a good etch. Once made the resist is carefully applied to my sterling sheets.If I should stop here and drop the metal in the ferric nitrate it would eat out what is unprotected, including the back of my sterling sheet. The next step is to protect the side edges and back of the pieces.
Then it is outside to set up the actually table and hardware to etch. Because of the nature of the chemical it is best to etch under a fume hood. I have none. I etch outside. This is sometimes a dilemma for me. Once the day I picked was the first over 100° day of the season. I stood outside in it all day in heavy acid gear. Another year it was cold and damp. Spring or Fall are my favorite seasons to etch, but I seem to run out of material in the winter and summer.
Here's me in my chemical gear and my etching set-up, on a moderate February day. I etched 8 sheets and it was a day long process, just to do the etching. The prep work was another day. But in the end it was all worth it. I have the etched sheets that I can make into wonderful jewelry.
And in case you are worried about the vile chemical that I am using. It is a salt, a component in fertilizer, and I always keep track of it until I turn it over to the folks at the dump to depose of correctly.
Etching sterling silver is a long multi-step process. But I like doing it. I can put my own artwork in the metal, I love the varied textures, and it makes my work more personal, more a part of me. Its one of my hard-learned skills that I am proud to share and add to my jewelry.
I love Scottsdale, Arizona! Though we are back in the studio after a whirlwind trip to the southwest, we are still relishing our time there. We drove like demons to get there, had a grand time, and drove 2 long 12-hour days home, no time for site seeing this trip. The only blessing in this trip is we travel east of the Sierra. Its an incredibly beautiful side of California.
But in between the butt numbing driving, we were in heaven. We stayed with friends in their fully restored mid-century modern home. They are landscape designers so the house is a joy of great design both inside and outside. It was our own personal resort with wonderful hosts, who cooked for us and even did laundry! We were taken on a post show hike in the desert to work out the cricks before we had to climb back into our van for the 1250 mile trip home. This is a rare treat when your guides are so knowledgeable about the desert plants.
When not at our "resort" we were at the show where our booth is always an easy set up and take down. The Scottsdale show is set in a lovely park area, though we choose to stay in the parking lot. We love our "hood" as there are always great friends there as well as new friends to meet in our fellow artists. The weather this year was perfect! Not too hot, or cold, no winds, or rain.
But the best were our customers, both old and new. To quote Sally Fields, "You like me, you really really like me!" As an artist there is a lot of me in each of my pieces. I have spent much time designing, picking the right stones, pearls, walking away-coming back, redesigning, fabricating, finishing each of the pieces. Every time a piece of jewelry walks out of my booth with someone, it is a thrill. Customers take a little bit of me with them and I am always honored with each purchase. Eeeuuww, Enough! I'm getting sentimental.
What's next? Well, what isn't next? More commissions to complete. Some old, some new. The show we help organize in Bend, Art in the High Desert, is inviting artists for this year's show. I must send out invitations, and "sorry you're not invited"to 438 artists. Always an exciting time as well as sad, as I know how it feels to not be juried into a show. And our weather is springlike, so it's hard to stay inside. We want to try at least one more cross-country ski day before we dig out our road bikes and declare winter over.
Happy Spring top everyone. Keep in touch.
I'm currently getting ready for a rare February show. Rare because short of traveling to Florida there are few to none shows in the Pacific NW in the winter. But the Bellevue, Washington Art Museum folks (who also put on the Bellevue Museum Art Fair) have started a new show, just for jewelry: Indulge. Held a week before Valentine's Day it promises to be great fun. Plus the dot, Sarah is also one of the participating artists.
I've known about this show for months. I've known I need to get my inventory up after a very successful last show. So why am I now in the last few weeks working like crazy to build up my inventory when I could have done it at my leisure for several months? This seems to be a common thing for artists. While I beat myself up for not doing all things earlier, I wonder about this. And I've come up with a reason...that satisfies me for now.
For me, it takes a while to get into the groove of creating. Its a state of mind and will, and frankly once there its all-consuming. The rest of the world must wait while I create. It is not something I can switch on and off; I'm more like the little engine that could. It takes me a some time to get rolling.
I know Dave-the-hub, as well as myself would be much more relaxed if I did not approach work this way. But after years of trying to break out of this habit, I'm still in it. This seems to be an artist thing. Many friends complain of the same syndrome.
Our house is now adrift in the flotsam and jetsam of a show. We've pulled out the display pieces to sort and repair. Our old boxes have cracked and Dave purchased new purple ones to carry our traveling retail store from place to place.
The dog wanders amongst the piles. She's seen it all before. Her favorite thing is that she gets to sleep in the clean laundry that is not getting folded and put away.
And so it goes. I don't know whether I should be worried that I can't compartmentalize better so I can jump from task to task. Or I should thank my lucky stars that I can focus like a laser when I need to.
Look what happened while I was gone. A new decade has rolled over. I for one am happy to see this. The old decade was a hard one.
There can be only 2 reasons for such a long lag between posts on a blog. The writer has been to busy to post, or the writer has had nothing to post about. Fortunately I claim the former. October seems months ago...actually it WAS months ago. I could plead the rush of the holidays but that seems too easy.
My energies have been scattered as I've been working on multiple projects. My jewelry, commissions, Art in the High Desert, taking a class in Illustrator, making inventory for a gallery, of course all the end of year celebrations, and my favorite-cross country skiing.
What's up next? In February, I will be at a wonderful new show in Bellevue, Washington: Indulge. Sarah the dot, will be there too with her wonderful metal and felt jewelry. I've been working on some "man" jewelry in the form of cufflinks. I will be posting these on the site soon.
Here's to a brand new clean decade.
For years I have tossed around an idea of making a series. I like the idea of a defining set of parameters within which you design and execute your art. I think it leads to something new and wonderful, though I'm not sure what. And I like that "not-sure" part.
Poetry is full of tightly limited creations. The sonnet is a poem of 14 lines with a formal rhyme scheme, and usually 10 syllables per line. There’s not a lot of leeway to branch out. Yet English literature is filled with amazing poetry in sonnet form. The Japanese haiku (a poem of 17 syllables, in 3 line, of 5, 7, and 5) with a nature theme is something all children have worked on in schools often with delightful results. And of course, limericks are a wonderful example of how rigid limits can push creativity and humor to new and glorious heights.
Throughout history visual artists have also used a set of rules to corral and then turn-loose their creative muse.
Monet had his hay stacks.
Jim Dine-a contemporary painter, has a series on bathrobes and hearts.
Recently a friend, painter-Marla Baggetta, completed a series of 100 images of the same scene. It was her series that reinspired me to again look at doing a series.
Craft artists have also done series.
Pat Flynn has done a series of heart pins.
And one of my favorite series is Kiff Slemmons, Insectopedia. A series of bug pins, based on the alphabet. K is for Katydid.
Normally this time of year I am in Portland, Oregon at the Local 14 Show & Sale. This year I am not. For all those who are concerned it is because of something bad I assure you it is not. It is because of something good! I had a terrific show at Art in the Pearl, in Portland. I have very little inventory left.
I had September to restock after Art in the Pearl, but September was booked with other business that kept me from my workbench. Also there was a trip to Peoria, Illinois for a show artist/director conference. I gave 2 presentations as well as learned a lot from my fellow directors. It was great fun.
Afterwards I hurried home to ship promised work off to a gallery in Austin, Texas: Art on 5th. Now I really have nothing left. My goal for the next month is to complete a bunch of commissions, enjoy Fall in Central Oregon, keep biking, and watch the snow fall in the mountains.
And a bit of random humor. Maybe my life in Central Oregon is sheltered. While traveling I encountered a vending machine that offered a wide selection of items that I had never seen before in a vending machine, together. I was going for the M & M peanuts.
If you like my aesthetic in jewelry you may be surprised by my beginnings. I am.
I was rummaging through my drawers the other day trying to figure out what was in them, as most of what I wear regularly was residing on the floor. Why is there no room in my dresser for my clothes?
What I found among many other things was some of my old jewelry from my youth, way before I made jewelry. Eclectic is a nice way to describe my tastes. My favorite watch was a Minnie Mouse (not Mickey) one that I bought in Disneyland. I had earrings with bells, and macrame bracelets, yet not one peace sign. Sigh.
But the thing that made me laugh was the very first piece of jewelry, a pendant that my Dad made for me. It was my pride and joy for many years and I even resurrected it for a party a few years ago.
My older sister’s boyfriend had gone to Hawaii for spring vacation. To show his love or at least to show he was thinking about her, he brought her back a little wooden tiki head on a leather cord. I don’t think she was too impressed, but being 5 years younger I coveted it. She let me hold it and even wear it for a while but then demanded it back.
That was not okay. She didn’t like it much, I LOVED it. I watch where she put it and went and stole it. And we were off to the races. After a few days of this my father got tired of the screaming and yelling. Neither daughter was going to give in. If my sister hid her tiki head, I tore her room apart until I found it, only to re-hide it in my room. She’d throw a fit (much to my delight) and demand it back.
Dad offered to make me my very own tiki head IF I would PLEASE leave my sister’s alone. I agreed. He had teak wood he had scavenged from the beaches of Hawaii during the war. It was off the decks of the military ships. It had been removed dumped after Pearl Harbor to make them war ready and less flammable. (Or so I was told.)
Taking a chunk of the teak he carved me a tiki head and hung it on a leather cord. I loved it, wore it, treasured it. And eventually outgrew it, to bury in in the back of a drawer.
It made one more appearance in my life in the late 80’s. For unknown reasons I chose to wear it to a party. A drunk with far too many drinks in him came up to me grabbed it and hung on, asking, “What’s dis?” For once in my life I was fast of brain and mouth and replied, “My first husband.” He looked aghast and rumbled off. Here it is for you to enjoy, the start of my love affair with handmade jewelry. How I have evolved….or so we all hope.
Dave (the hubby) and I like to do things ourselves. Its a point of pride. We have an eclectic background of skills to bring to any task. We've been teachers, outdoor instructors, special ed director (Dave), parents, small business owners, community organizers. I have considerable skills behind a sewing machine, Dave carpenter skills, and a life time spent with a master gardener. What we don't know we like to figure out.
Plus both Dave & I are artists; me a jeweler, him a glass tile person. I sell at shows, he works with architects, designers, contractors, & owners to make his custom tiles. He's my sous chef in jewelry, I'm his sous chef in glass. And both are part of a wonderful group of artists and arts advocates producing a fine arts show, Art in the High Desert, in Bend Oregon. We figure out tough things all the time.
But, no matter how bold and brave, trained or experienced, inventive, sometimes it is best to NOT do it yourself.
With the help of some talented people we have created a new Fox Glassworks website to showcase Dave's work.
Our fine children pushed us off this cliff by contracting with a favorite web designer and friend, Keith Buckley to put together a tease of what a new website might look like. Keith then went to work on us asking for photos and words and some idea of what we wanted the website to look like, how to navigate around it.
What looks so easy once done is in reality a series of interconnecting decisions. We struggled, we thought, we tabled it, and then our kids would remind us that they had a stake in getting it up. We could do this, we thought.
Then we had our best idea and we turned to more experts for help. The best decision of all.
Tom Hassler and his stylist Trisha spent a weekend with us photographing a variety of jobs scattered through-out Central Oregon. We added some of our fortunate shots from jobs out of the area burned them to a CD and faithfully sent to Keith. He still had questions. How was he to use them? What words did we want with them, where on the site should they go?
Oh. Wasn't that all required of us? Pretty pictures and a great product. As good as Keith is, he couldn't read our ultimate needs and intentions from our mass of photos. Ellen Santasiero proved to be just the person to help us, move beyond this. She writes the words for websites. Short, elegant, to the point, words. She sat down with us and asked many thoughtful questions to guide her words and ultimately the Fox Glassworks website. Her focus became our touchstone.
And so it went. Questions asked, answers struggled for, decisions slowly made. Ideas tried out, more photos taken, ideas considered refined or throw out. Friends finally got into the picture urging us to finish it as they were eager to see it up share with their clients. Thanks Martha.
Finally after several days of me learning way more about how domain names, dns numbers, and web host addresses work, I received a magic email from a very helpful tech and viola! Keith published the new website.
Check it out. If you find any boo-boos tell me. Its okay, we know we have a tweaks to do. But enjoy its' elegant navigation, Dave's wonderful tiles and installations, Ellen's words, Keith's web design, Tom's photos, our kids kick in the pants. FoxGlassworks.com
Thanks to all who helped with this. You're the best. Below are just a few of the glass projects Dave has worked on.
Time's short and I too busy. Two or so years ago some artists and art advocates in Bend decided that the West Coast in general and Bend in particular needed a really wonderful show. What's more we realized we had all the skills to put one on. And so it started.
In 2 weeks the 2nd annual Art in the High Desert will come to Bend. Its a lotta work. We are an all-volunteer group. Which makes it a bit crazy to work this hard. But we all agree that it is worth it. But today, for now, Arggghhh. Why do I have the good ideas I do? I'm way too busy. Our whole team is working hard, on their own art, and each of their show jobs.
Last year was our first year. We could have picked a more auspicious economy during which to start a show...but we like challenges. More important, the city of Bend, and central Oregon love fine art. They came out and bought last year, and they tell us they will be back again this year.
So while my life is filled with little details, final advertising pushes, (I even get to be interviewed on a local TV staiton) here are some images from last years show, taken by our photog Tom Hassler, aerial photograph by Matt Verdieck. Enjoy the view, come and visit us this year. We have great artists coming again, don't miss them.
Before a show I am focused, on task, getting things done. Today after the show I am bumping around trying to figure out what jobs I put down before I left I need to pick up first. They all seem to be important now.
I'm still halfway at the show, thinking about all that happened, seeing happy customers, reviewing things to change for the next show.
One thing I must say:
I must take back all the snarky remarks I have ever made about the parking lot structure that the Bellevue Museum art festival is in. I LOVE IT! Its been whitewashed so it looks good, the funky lights have been replaced, but BEST OF ALL, when it got dreadfully hot outside it was quite tolerably cool inside. Since every one of my last 4 shows have had some sort of weather issue, I was delighted to be out of the elements. The Bellevue parking garage is the BEST!
We're getting ready for our "July" show. Itsa biggie and a favorite. We've tried to catch up on things left undone before the last show, arrange for house sitters, weed a bit, enjoy a glorious summer, and keep at work. But it is hard condensing life into time slots between shows.
We will head north this time to Bellevue, Washington for the Bellevue Museum Art Festival-or BAM-or the Garage Sale. It's held in one of the more unfortunate venues, a shopping mall's concrete parking structure. But it is shady and cool, and we are protected from rain and wind. The audience is an art-savvy interested group of buyers and are there to see and buy art. The artists are always first rate.
At Bellevue we will be showing with our dot, Sarah, in the next booth. This will be a first, fun, endlessly entertaining, and a challenge. Sarah is our favorite daughter, our only one in fact, and came equipped with everything one wants in a daughter; other then that she's younger, taller, thinner, and has the most outrageous hair. Her jewelry is very different from mine, reflecting her youthful and unique outlook on life.
Our son also lives in the area so it will be a family silly time, to bug each other, laugh, eat, help out, talk, listen....but I digress.
As Dave repeatedly has to tell me I will be there to sell jewelry. And in order to sell it I must first make it. I love being a jeweler, it's home for me. But right now I wanna ride my bike, sit in my hammock chair, kayak, go for an early morn walk with our dog, or write in my blog. Of course, if I was told to ride my bike all day, I'd rather be walking the dog. If I was told to walk the dog I'd want to write in the blog all day. And if told to do nothing but write, I'd want to be making jewelry. I call it my "Grass is Greener" syndrome. If I hafta do it, whether I love it or not, suddenly I want to do something else. It's a leftover from a contrary childhood.
So back to work for me. I have some great new work on the bench that needs finishing, some oldie but goodies that also need their final patinas and placing on the cards. Bellevue is going to be fun. But I must first work to earn it .
(And oh yeah, to Johanna, from Des Moines, who reads my blog - even tho' she's not related to me, and likes it! Hi. It was great talking with you.)
What's worse for an art show artist-a raging wind storm or torrential rains? I'm not sure. But last weekend at the Cherry Creek Art Festival in Denver, we had the opportunity to deal with the rain.
Our daughter, Sarah, was in the Cherry Creek festival. So on the way home from Des Moines, we stopped in Denver to help her set up her booth, and I stayed on as her assistant while Dave flew home to the dogs and our other life.
Fortunately he hung around for Friday of the show. We needed all hands on deck. The Rockies are known for their afternoon thunder storms, so we weren't too concerned as the dark clouds rolled in, nor even when show staff came to warn us that a rain and thunder storm would hit in 20 minutes. As per the show's suggestion we had not set the tent in the gutter, the tent was a light dome and had weathered several storms with nary a leak, and we were Oregonians, we are the rain.
Be careful what you don't worry about. Cherry Creek had a huge rainstorm on Friday. We were fortunate as the river/gutter we were by flowed on without overwhelming the booth. It came thorough the booth but we made an island of plastic boxes in the center, hiked up all the stuff we didn't want wet and rode it out. Other artists were not so lucky. If their booth sat at the confluence of 2 drainage areas water rose a foot in their boothes. Some art was lost. One artist's tool box floated 2 blocks away. It was eventually returned by another artist.
And so it goes. Life in a 10' x 10' retail space....
A man stood studying our jewelry and displays. "Does the show provide you with all this?"
Nope, each artist brings their own full 10' x 10' retail store to each show. And what they bring is as individual as their art. Some fly in and ship their booth and inventory ahead. Their booths tend towards the minimalist. Others come in large sprinter vans, trucks, vans pulling trailers. What is unloaded from those would put many circuses to shame. I always think this is the most fascinating time of a show, watching the various booths be put together tinker-toy style, until VOILA! a retail spot.
The Des Moines Art Festival has a leisurely set-up day. This is good. It was in the 90's with lots of humidity. It was brutal work. Everyone moved at half speed with lots of stops for brow wiping, drinking, and dirty glances at the sun. I got a little cranky, unloading the van, putting up the canopy, setting up the display. The ever-cheerful and nothing-bothers-him hubby, kept at it saying it was fine, good for the soul and other such nonsense. Only after I threatened to kill him did he slow up his happy chatter. When one is miserable, one does not need happiness. We set-up the big stuff before I finally said "uncle" as we retreated to a cool hotel room. We went back to work some more after the sun had gone down & finished up the next morning.
The mother of invention being a weekend of intolerable heat, I came up with an idea for a swamp cooler in our booth. My brilliant idea?
A pan of ice sitting in front of a fan. Ignoring the fact that humidity renders a swamp cooler moot, it was sorta like spitting in the wind. But it made me feel like I had some control of my environment. Dave, the hubby, played along, "Yes, dear it DOES feel cooler in the tent."
The transition between being a solitary studio artist to a meet-and-greet retail sales person, is always a little rocky for me. I've had my head down nose to the file in the studio making pieces.....now its time to show them. It usually takes 1/2 day for me to get my talker going. Some of the most amazing non-sequiturs come out of me in the early stages of each show. Its as if I have forgotten how to talk while working in the studio. Our daughter calls them my "spoonerisms." I have told customers, "If I can ask any questions, let me know and I will ankwer them." Huh?
I like doing shows, I like seeing peoples reaction to my work. I just wish I could be more suave about it. The Des Moinians were patient with my first attempts. And as the weekend proceeded the weather cooled (sorta) and my talker came on line.
Like everyone else I sometimes have a hard time getting focused and getting going. Life happens and when your work is in your home, life interferes with work. I'm a great believer in my ability to multi-task, but sometimes it just leads to me bouncing around like a ping-pong ball getting a little done.
Metalsmithing requires focus and attention to details. A casual moment can undo hours of work as an over-heated piece falls apart (or melts!) under a too hot torch, a careless saw cuts a kerf into a carefully etched surface, a sanding disc is allowed to go too far.
When I get to this place I need to stop trying to do many things at once and refocus. As I retreat to my studio and sit at my bench more often then not, my thinking is still scattered and I have no idea where to start. Things seem either too easy and simple or too complex to work on until I get my brain working. What to do?
I recently decided that the best thing I can do at this point is to start making box clasps. Technically box clasps are fairly difficult, but I've done enough to be fluent in them. I know each step, how to do it, what order to do them in. Making them challenges my skills as a metalsmith, with the precision, cutting, soldering, measuring, filing; but I know what to do and have no questions as to sequencing, what temperature solder I need, what the pitfalls are. Making box clasps brings me back together and centers me on the here and now.
All the intricacy and detailed labor of the box clasp is hidden on the inside. My version of the clasp is actually a box within a box. I was taught to make a tight precise fit to insure years of trouble free wearing. It is more time-consuming but ultimately produces a clasp that will last indefinitely and never release unexpectedly. It makes me proud every time I sell one as I know its a special item with a great deal of my efforts and thought put into each clasp.
Below is the very condensed version of the making of a box clasp plus a peek at its inner workings.
1. The inner box is made & a slot carefully filled to accept the tongue of the clasp.
2. The tongue with the trigger is soldered and carefully filed and fitted to the box.
3. The etched sterling top deck is soldered in place and a the slot for the trigger is pierced & filed into a tight fit. This photo shows the box within a box, part of this clasp.
4. Once the bottom plate is added the tongue continues to get refined so it has the pleasing and important "CLICK" when it is fully engaged. Then the findings are soldered on, it is thoroughly cleaned, and is ready to be patinaed and added to a necklace.
5. Finally the clasp becomes the central part of a necklace. In this case a rough cut carnelian necklace with yellow turquoise. Its ready to go to a client.