Sunday, August 28, 2016

the conversation of things

Every couple of months I get together with a friend and over a cup of coffee we catch up on what’s going on in our lives. We talk about work, travel, husbands and life in general. But because we both make jewelry we talk about business, marketing and different fabrication techniques. It’s an enjoyable couple of hours and the time flies by. A couple of things I recently shared that I thought I’d mention here are two of my favorite books on living a creative life.

I’ve reread both books several times and any time I’m stuck or avoiding my studio I turn to them and they help me break the funk I seem to be in. I think this happens to all creative people at one time or another and both these books are a simple and fast read to get me back on track.

The other thing we have in common is our love for tools, particularly hammers. My friend keeps her hammers in a drawer but I like to keep as many tools visible in my studio so I don’t forget what I actually have at my disposal. So I built this cart that sits next to my work bench with an assortment of my most frequently used tools. Not only is it handy but helps keep me organized and helps keep my work surface clean which can really become a mess rather quickly. Plus it just looks cool. At least I think so.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

the lesson of things

I spent the last 8 days at an art retreat. As expected, most of the workshops I took were in metalsmithing but a couple of them were in subjects totally unrelated. One class was in book binding where I learned to do the Coptic stitch and the other was rib basket weaving. Yes basket weaving. I know it sounds strange but there are reasons I do this. Sometimes we get tunnel vision when we focus solely on our primary means of expression. I find that trying other forms of being creative allows me to see new possibilities with my art. Plus some of the techniques I learned can be translated to working with metal. So if you're a potter, maybe try glass blowing and if you're a painter take a wood carving class. You will be amazed at how it will get you to look at your work with fresh eyes. I can't wait to get back in my studio and try out some of the things I learned but first I need to unpack my car. I think I took half my tools with me.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

the zen of things

I’m not a practicing Buddhist but I’ve always believed in their teachings that suffering and disappointment are caused by our expectations and attachment to things and ideas. Over the years I’ve tried to incorporate this philosophy into my life, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. But something interesting is happening to me lately, I’m feeling very content. I’m usually wary of saying such things so knock wood. They say there are seasons to life and maybe this is the season of my content because lord knows there have been many of discontent.

Perhaps this blog which is more like a journal for me is helping sort out my thoughts because I look back at things I’ve written and think that’s not quite what I meant. It’s hard for me to put my feelings into words.

My new state of mind may also have something to do with aging. For a while we fight the notion of getting old and then realize that it’s inevitable so we might as well get on with life and do what we can. Or maybe it’s a combination of things.

I’ve been spending more and more time in my studio, designing and fabricating my jewelry, and I’ve become aware of this new lightness of being. It happens while I’m doing the most simple of things like shaping or filing a piece of silver. And without realizing it I become part of what I’m doing. My mind aligns to the movement. I give no meaning or label to these sensations. I accept my thoughts and release them. No judgment. I’m in the moment.

It’s not the only time this happens. This may sound crazy but there are some days when I choose to do the dishes by hand instead of placing them in the dishwasher. Filling the basin with water and watching the suds rise from the squirt of dish soap and then dipping my hands into the warmth and cleaning each glass, each plate and each cup, I become one with it.

And so I’ve realized that if you don’t attach an outcome and an expectation that an activity or event must make you feel a certain way and you do away with your definition of things; making art, washing the dishes, going for a walk or pulling weeds; they all become the same. I’m someplace out there but still here. Each activity just is and I just am. Mindful. Aware. And maybe that’s the reason for my contentment…I’m letting go. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

the story of things

My favorite part about a small business website I visit is the “about” page. I love to know who’s behind the item/object I’m considering buying. I call it the story behind the story. Who is the person? What are they about? It’s also the reason I like to read their blog. It allows me to know them on a personal level not just a commercial one.

I don’t know about you but I’ve become more particular about the things I buy. There’s a real movement right now about tiny houses, minimalism and over consumerism. I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with owning stuff, I’ve just become more mindful of my purchases and like to think there’s meaning in what I own. I would rather own a couple of really nice handbags than dozens of cheaply made ones, same with shoes (although this is a personal weakness…I love shoes). I also prefer to buy handmade. There is something wonderful about owning things that enrich our lives and make us feel connected to our environment and to each other.  A beautiful painting that you purchase from a local craft show that greets you every night when you get home from work can lift your spirits. A hand made quilt at the foot of your bed in your favorite colors does more than keep you warm. I’ve tried to surround myself with these kinds of things, things that express my aesthetic and keep me grounded, and I believe that is what drives me to be a designer and artist. If I can make someone feel special when they wear one of my necklaces, well then what more can a person ask for?

Friday, July 15, 2016

rock on

I love rocks. Along with steel they were the primary medium in my wall sculptures.

I also combined them with wood. After all what’s more architectural than steel, stone and wood.

Sometimes I even used shells.

And while I’ve substituted silver for steel, these materials still play a major role in my work. The ones I'm most attracted to are never polished or shiny and tend to be a little rough around the edges. I like the rawness in contrast to the silver which I consider more refined.

Living is Arizona is a rock and nature lover’s dream. There are mountains in every direction and hikes into these areas allow for many scenic encounters. I remember having to take a science elective in college and I chose geology. I enjoyed it so much I considered changing my major but of course I didn’t.

 I also love stacking all these elements. They’re like miniature buildings.

People often ask what inspires me and when I tell them about my career in architecture and design and the influence of living in the desert southwest it totally makes sense that I would use natural materials and create the types of compositions that reflect my love of the built environment. I feel it’s important that these things are represented in my work. It gives meaning to what I make.

Wearable nature with an architectural influence.