Getting inspired for the New Year

[caption id="attachment_1152" align="aligncenter" width="383" caption="Welcome to my newly organized work room..."][/caption] Happy 2012!   I find my self looking ahead to an exciting year--new creations to be made, new techniques to be learned.  Last year I made a list of all the jobs I do--about 11 came up.  Have I farmed out anything?  Not really!  But I've learned to be more forgiving and more organized.  I recently moved out of my work room, and then back in after removing old carpet and painting the walls, and having the floors sanded.  Next time I'll remember not to schedule floor sanding in the fall!

[caption id="attachment_1153" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="the PMC area, and cat window"][/caption]

I recently received an annual report from WordPress, in 2011 I made 18 new posts to my blog, uploaded 40 new pictures.  I have the intention to blog more, hopefully I'll be more organized to do that.  My new year's resolution is to manage my time better!  I look forward to making a trip to Tucson this winter and I hope to travel to the PMC Conference in June.  And this is the time of year to look at summer art festival schedules and make sure I know when the deadlines are.

[caption id="attachment_1154" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="a few cats hanging out"][/caption]

Last year I wanted to add more color to my work--I succeeded in setting quite a few stones.  I also did some mixed metals, a bit of enameling.  This year I want to do more with color--and try new things.

[caption id="attachment_1166" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="Thanks to Ikea and my handyman, Paul, new shelves in the bead area"][/caption]

That was a trip around my work space, newly decorated and still in progress.  Curtains yet to be hung.  The new IKEA was a big help with my new desk tops, cardboard organizers, bookcase.  I found a great space for this painting by Julie Puma from 2002, Grandma Rachel's desk, and the cat tree was last to fit in.

[caption id="attachment_1155" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="back to my desk and calendars"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1173" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="painting by Julie Puma, famous artist & teacher"][/caption]

And a few finds from my travels to Cedarburg, and Columbus.  (Wisconsin & Ohio that is)

[caption id="attachment_1172" align="aligncenter" width="308" caption="yes, it does"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1174" align="aligncenter" width="279" caption="how I felt at the end of this season!"][/caption]

Workshop with the Artists' nook

[caption id="attachment_1075" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="Ode to Robert & Tony"][/caption] I took a fun workshop through "The Artists' Nook" in Fort Collins yesterday with Richard Salley.  It was called "The Over-the-top Hinged Bracelet" class--what fun to spend the day with old and new friends and an amazing teacher/artist!   Thanks to Christine for offering this class.  I had a bead I bought from Tony Blackwell that served as the focal, and under that I used some "faux bone" from Robert Dancik.  And with Richard's help, we constructed the cuff, and made the hinge with cold connections.  I learned a ton, and was inspired by all the talented artists who attended the class.  I've had the faux bone for a few years, and the focal bead, it was a good challenge to get the two to work together.  My other challenge today was to set up my photo area in my garagio studio, in hopes that I shoot more photos of new work.  This shot was the second batch.  The fun with using a digital camera, is running back and forth to my desk in the "bead room" to look at the photos on my computer, going back to revise the set up for a better shot.

I added links to all the above mentioned names, The Artists' Nook has lots of classes upcoming, one in fact with Robert Dancik coming soon in October.  She also offers lots of journaling workshops, a great way to express yourself.  Subscribe to their e-mail notification for notices about upcoming workshops.

Back to work, my head is swimming with new ideas--focus, focus!

The Muse Personality

[caption id="attachment_986" align="aligncenter" width="432" caption="one of the first pearl vessels...."][/caption] I was suggested by my friend and amazing artist, Candice Wakumoto to be interviewed for the "Muse Personality" on Tonya Davidson's Musings and Mullings of the metal clay variety, April 18th, 2011. You can read both of our interviews by going to Tonya's blog. I met Tonya many years ago, my first trip to Tucson, at an informal Flame Off, where Bronwen Heilman and others were working their magic on a few torches that were set up at someone's home.  Her company has grown into a large business, supplying metal clay and all kinds of tools. I am honored to be included in her series of interviews!  And read about my friend, Helga, the current Muse Personality.

[caption id="attachment_987" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="intricacy in nature"][/caption]

In the interview, I mentioned nature as inspiration.  When you look at all the intricacies and colors, the details in nature, amazing...

[caption id="attachment_988" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="orchid"][/caption]

The garden in the spring is so fragrant, delicate, in bloom...

[caption id="attachment_989" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="bleeding heart"][/caption]

And in the sea, circular patterns inspire...

[caption id="attachment_990" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="intricate shell"][/caption]

On to art....Amazing patterns and colors appear in art, this mask, made by an unknown artist we bought in Costa Rica, I love all the detail and again color..

[caption id="attachment_992" align="aligncenter" width="448" caption="Costa Rican mask"][/caption]

And a very old section of a stained glass piece we installed 20 years ago in our house, the detail and color I love.

[caption id="attachment_1004" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="stained glass"][/caption]

As we sit down at our bench to design, hopefully these colors & images will inspire.


  [caption id="attachment_850" align="aligncenter" width="378" caption="red flower"][/caption]



[caption id="attachment_851" align="aligncenter" width="378" caption="orange flower"][/caption]



[caption id="attachment_852" align="aligncenter" width="378" caption="purple flowers"][/caption]


I am looking for inspiration for color.   That said, how to do, how to achieve?  I like creating small paper images and covering them with resin.  I like coloring resin.  On the list to try & perfect: enameling, colored pencils, setting more stones.  Tomorrow I challenge myself in the ceramics studio by glazing some of my olive dishes and salt bowls.  Glazing is always a tricky thing for me.  I'll also work on some metal clay.  I like to patina metal.  I like the color that bronze clay & copper clay can achieve.  I like the surprise when opening a steel firing container filled with charcoal & digging for the treats. Side note: these shots were taken in California with a point & shoot camera.  I'm amazed at the technology, or maybe it's my amazing Mac monitor....

Spring Feast

[caption id="attachment_712" align="aligncenter" width="373" caption="roasted vegetables, yummmmmm"][/caption] Okay, I've been cooking & feasting instead of blogging!  We had a big Easter Eve celebration with friends.  And we had leftovers to make a second great meal.  Risotto with ginger, & sweet potatoes, roasted cornish game hens, roasted beets, red & yellow, turnips, and asparagus.  Great carrot cake.  The blessings of friends.

[caption id="attachment_717" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="salt bowls"][/caption]

I've had my hands back in the earthenware clay, throwing for the upcoming Colorado Potters sale & show.  Makes for dry skin!  A suggestion from a friend, calendula helps, my hands feel young again.  More to come....

Back in the Saddle

[caption id="attachment_667" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="raku birdhouse"][/caption] I'm back from a short break, spring break, as it's called.  Hope to start working on raku clay, to do some raku firings.  This old birdhouse was made & fired during a Bob Smith workshop.  The colors & textures are amazing.  A bit burned on the top rim of the pot, markings from the straw we used, the unglazed lower half.  I tried once, to fire a piece of metal clay with raku glaze on it.  My kiln at the time was firing strangely, and the entire piece melted into a blob in the bottom of the kiln.  Still have the jar of glaze.  Will use it on some raku clay instead. The metal clay experiment was an expensive blob!

[caption id="attachment_663" align="aligncenter" width="378" caption="Found art, Winter Park ski area, Colorado"][/caption]

Came across this sculptural piece of art in the woods today.  I'm calling it "found art".  As you can see, a ski patrolmen is skiing by.  I'm not sure who shimmied up this tree trunk to place the antlers & skulls there, will have to do some research, I guess.  Glad I had packed my camera in my backpack.

It was a good break, no TV, no internet, had to travel to see a few of the NCAA tournament games.  Must get back to the work mode now.


[caption id="attachment_649" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="trying to photograph resin..."][/caption] As you may have noticed, I've been trying to post a daily blog.  (Sometimes I take the weekend off.)  I am trying to set a record for myself, as in the past I blogged 7 times in my most prolific month.  In February I hit an all time high of 18 posts, and for March, I'm trying to top that.  It makes me think about what I've accomplished that day.  Some days involve getting all your consignment items inventoried and making new inventory sheets.  Sometimes it means cleaning your work area.  I think of it as "I have to Feng Shui" my space so that I am inspired to work again.  Some days are spent trying to figure out how to photograph resin!  Some days are spent pondering what to do, making lists, looking at schedules.  I've been trying to get a walk in daily, and without my dog, who went to dog heaven last November, there are days that I need motivation.  Clean out the cob webs, breathe in some fresh air!  Sometimes that involves creating a new playlist on my iPod to truck down the street to.  I saw some crocuses peeking through the dirt today.  Spring is coming...And one thing I know for sure, the last few days have flown by--does the clock have anything to do with that?

A good resource

[caption id="attachment_628" align="aligncenter" width="452" caption="By Linda Darty"][/caption] I found this book in my collection.  It looks like the source for using enamel on metal.  After perusing the book, it also looks like I have been torch enameling all wrong!  I should order a few more supplies for sifting enamels.  The author, Linda Darty, will be the keynote speaker at this years bi-annual PMC conference at Purdue University this July.  I hope to get to the conference, I haven't missed one yet. The first one, at University of Wooster, was epic, the first major gathering of PMC enthusiasts.  It was a big PMC love-in, with people from all over the world attending.

I had a copper clay play date with a friend today and we made a few fun pieces.  It's a different feeling experimenting with the copper & bronze clay--I've been working big, where with silver clay, it's costly to work big.  So, it frees you up to experiment & push the limits and you are not as worried about cost.  Now the firing is another story, as I've said, I want to install solar panels to run the kiln at 1700 degrees for 3 hours!

The Creative Life

I took a few days off & did some skiing.  Nothing like the soft snow under your skis, the turns happening freely, effortlessly, gliding along uninhibited.  Amazingly, poof! Back to the drawing board of life!  I set a personal record for number of posts in one month.  And tomorrow begins a new month, where to go from here? [caption id="attachment_576" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="resources"][/caption]

I looked through my bookcases and found some resources I've accumulated.  Notice how four of these five books have a derivation of "creative" on the cover?  You may recognize at least four of these books, the fifth, Soul Catcher, is illustrated by a local woman, Michelle Barnes.  From the intense, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, to the fun, A Creative Companion, by Sark, and some in between.  Some insights from these pages:

"What is creativity anyway?"

"Laugh as much as possible."

"Live juicy."

"Every day is loaded with creative potential."

"Artists are visionaries."

"Celebrate every gorgeous moment."

Back to work!  And as my yoga-pilates teacher says at the end of class...."go out and live your perfect dream".

In the Bleak Midwinter

My back yard on a snowy February eve, my ceramics pieces and a few other things,
trying to survive one more winter.
Reminds me of a song.....
In the bleak midwinter, frost wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

[caption id="attachment_540" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="CC bird bath"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_541" align="aligncenter" width="456" caption="CC bird house"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_542" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="purchased in Steamboat Springs, CO, unknown artist"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_543" align="aligncenter" width="409" caption="CC fountain"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_544" align="aligncenter" width="325" caption="raku feeder made by Jean Boch"][/caption]

A moose in the woods & perfecting the pizza

[caption id="attachment_499" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="a moose in the meadow"][/caption] Kind of a Where's Waldo picture--can you see the moose?  He was munching small aspen trees near our favorite weekend retreat, outside of Winter Park, Colorado.  I don't think the owners of that log home were there. That evening the temperature dropped to a brisk 20 degrees below zero!!

We once again tried to recreate the amazing pizza we had on our honeymoon in Italy over 20 years ago. The most memorable was a simple cheese pie with a delicately positioned sunny side up egg in the middle. It was heaven!  A few years ago in Food & Wine magazine I came across an article entitled "Perfecting the Pizza".  Here's the link:

The key is to make the dough a day or two ahead of time, and have the pizza stone ready & hot when you begin.  Some of our favorite toppings besides the Margherita are: proscuitto & mascarpone; sausage with carmelized onions; pesto, no tomato sauce, with fresh mozzarella & fresh sliced tomatoes.  The artist in me loves to cook--is that true with all artists?

Exploring Tucson

[caption id="attachment_441" align="aligncenter" width="378" caption="Gargoyles in Tucson"][/caption] Leaving one of our favorite small drive through restaurants, we turned into this neighborhood to get to another traffic light.  This compound had high cinder block walls, and gargoyles perched atop.  It was a small fortress, with a beautiful iron gate.  I suppose they wanted privacy!

It's been a great week in Tucson, shopping, of course, and taking a class in glass casting. I learned so much from all the wonderful artists here! My friend & fellow jewelry designer and I have the routine down, our 7th trip to shop & take classes.  We have our favorite Mexican food restaurants, and tried a few new ones this year. One is a possible keeper, the other will not need repeating.  Tonight will be our last dinner out, so we'll flip a coin to see which "favorite" we'll choose.  We've been known to board the plane with fresh HOT tortillas.  On Sunday, we'll shop until 3pm when we are forced to head for the airport!  I found some amazing stones to add to my work.

Plowing through January in new PJ's

January seems to be a long month for me. The fall is so busy, lots of creating, craziness, selling, so many things on my plate. After the holidays--I begin to look forward to the new year. Sales tax is due. Accounting for income tax needs to get done. Inventory, or "cost of goods sold" needs to get done.  This year I spent 3 days at my computer, entering sales, expenses, etc. I had all my sales entered by the 20th of the month when Colorado sales taxes were due. I have 99% of my expenses entered. I went through each bank statement.  Now the daunting task of counting inventory!  Help!!! [caption id="attachment_437" align="aligncenter" width="353" caption="New pajamas for the new year"][/caption]

Oprah recently did a make over show and the guest suggested that we women should get a new pair of pajamas every year.  Mine were on the way from Garnet Hill, as they had been backordered.  Funny, they arrived a few days after that show aired.  It is fun to receive a new pair of pj's.  My others are worn out!  My husband suggested donating them--and I'm thinking--cleaning rags!!  They have seen their day, believe me!

So, back to January.  Taking some time out for creativity helps.  I'm working on some new "tear-away" texture plates.  (I need new ones!)  I went to the metal studio twice this month.  Made a silver ring necklace & a copper bracelet.  Finding a balance is my new mantra for January.  Do some book work, do some creating, do some planning.  Look at what shows to apply for in the new year.  Did the shows last year work for me?  Make a game plan!

Four Hour Spoon

spoonI took a workshop a few weeks ago with Richard Sweetman, and we made a spoon.  We first made an alloy of fine silver & sterling silver.  Our goal was to have 96 percent silver.  We melted the mixture with a torch in a cucible, then poured an ingot, approximately 4 inches long, .75 inches thick.  After that we pounded for about 4 hours!  The key is to work hot, so after heating the ingot, you immediately picked the silver up with a vise grips & began pounding.  It was a lot of heating/pounding/heating etc.  The metal was not at annealing temperature, but hot.  Needless to say that evening, my arm was sore!  And I didn't have the spoon completely finished, I went back to refine it's shape & polish it another day.

Looking for inspiration

[caption id="attachment_370" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="near the waterfront, Chicago"]near the waterfront, Chicago[/caption] [caption id="attachment_371" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="at the bottom"]at the bottom[/caption]

This building in Chicago is amazing.  It was designed by a woman who taught at the Illinois Institute of Technology.  I loved standing near the base & looking up the building at all angles.  It reminds me of erosion of rocks along a shore.  What does it remind you of?

Fast summer

smpearl Did this summer blitz by? It feels like it! I participated in the Evergreen Fine Arts Festival, the last weekend of August. It was a great show, we had great support from members of the Evergreen Artists Association.

They were by to booth sit, refill water bottles, etc. The weather held until about an hour before take down, and then it rained.  Everything was soaked!  I had to set up the tent at home on Monday to dry it all out.  Luckily, most of my display is waterproof, almost all of it.  So no damage there!

This picture is a smaller version of one of my pearls. A woman asked if I ever did them smaller, so this is one of the first attempts. You can wear it casually. It measures 1.5 inches long by .75 inches wide.

Golden Fine Arts Festival

[caption id="attachment_478" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Outdoor booth"][/caption] The weekend at the Golden Fine Arts Festival was a success-not much rain, not too hot, lots of people and I had a great show!  Many thanks to all the volunteers who make that show happen.  And many thanks to my customers--thanks for supporting my work!

My next and last show of the summer is August 29 & 30, the Evergreen Fine Arts Festival.  Stop by & say hi.

More flowers...

yelflowerso soft, so small.... blueflow

and frustration!  I now have two copies of every photo I've ever taken.  Must find time to go through & delete photos.  I've lost my email address book for now, please send me an email, so I have yours!!

On the brighter side, I had a fabulous month selling jewelry at the Evergreen Gallery, I am restocking there, and Baby Does Clothing, in Golden, will be featuring jewelers they represent that are in the Golden Fine Arts Festival.  Stop in there & look at the case featuring my work!