Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sharing Your Stories with the World

“Stories are attempts to share our values and beliefs. Storytelling is worthwhile when it tells what you stand for, not what you do”.

Simon Sinek, Start with

A photographer I once knew shared an amazing piece of advice. He said that all artists “run dry” occasionally and discover their well of inspiration is empty. So in good times, when ideas are coming fast and furious, write them down and stick 'em in a file, so that when you need a boost to your creative Muse, you'll have a stock of gems that you forgot about.

The name of my business, Stories They Tell, came straight out of my unconscious, a number of years ago. I hadn't even considered working in polymer and had no intention of starting a business so I stuck the title in a file and forgot about it. When I opened my Etsy store, I found that little slip of paper in the file-- it was completely serendipitous and completely perfect for what I do.

I always hope, when I create a piece of jewelry, that it expresses my values and beliefs. Nothing political but more spiritual and aesthetic, more about who I am and what my life's experiences have been, how they've shaped me and what they've taught me. My life has hardly been as full of trials as some but I have had my share of adversity and disappointment and now I feel my work can show the confidence I have in my ideas and processes. If you like my work, fine. If you don't, that's ok too. I don't need to please everybody; in fact, I don't feel I need to please anybody but myself and that doesn't come from a place of ego but a place of acceptance of my own style and imagination. I greatly admire the work of other artists but these days I don't long to create in a style like anyone's but my own.

So it's perhaps an appropriate time that a magazine I greatly admire has seen fit to acknowledge that style and feature my work in its Designer Collection article for the autumn issue this year. I'm speaking of Belle Armoire Jewelry, which will do a stunning eight-page spread to be published on September 1, 2011. I'm in great company, as some previously featured artists have been Stephanie Lee, Richard Salley and Robert Dancik. RicĂ« Freeman-Zachary has done an excellent job with her interview of me and captured my personality along with the facts of my artistic life and work process. And my honest and heartfelt thanks go out to Deryn Mentock, a good friend whose strong endorsement made my name known to the BAJ editor, which started my relationship with the magazine.

I worked for six weeks on the eight new pieces that I submitted, as I wanted to send them the latest and most thoughtfully considered pieces I had ever produced. It's pretty amazing what you can accomplish when you have a deadline like that-- and spending maximum time in the studio can produce results you never thought possible. When an opportunity this big comes calling, you'd better bring your “A” game! When the work was completed and I was packing it to send off, I was actually stunned to see the results of giving my imagination free rein and letting it lead me wherever! I think it's the most creative work I've ever done. A big “thank you” to my wonderful husband, Douglas, for supporting me throughout the process and for creating my fabulous new work room.

I've seen a preview of the article and my work looks awesome. It's very gratifying to see your pieces in print, to know that your story is out there in the world. I'm also encouraged that what is presented there are my values and beliefs, not merely my process. A technique is just a technique-- it's what you do with it that really makes a difference-- in your artistic life and to the people that see it.

Since the pieces below didn't make the cut for the article, I can post them. They are a couple of my favorites and in the near future I plan to expand upon the techniques they represent.


"Poisonous" - detail


"Tuareg" - detail

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hot Summer Color

The recent heat wave was unexpected here in the cool Northeast. For most of us, "air conditioning" means opening the windows. How to deal with these awful temps? Someone I once worked with put it this way: "Do as the Europeans do-- walk slowly and smile a lot!" With a garden that is finally deciding to put out some edible produce and 30+ chickens to keep hydrated and pecking on clean grass, that's a tall order.

So we garden and do animal chores in the cool(er) early mornings and hide behind shades with our fans going in the scorching late afternoons. A perfect time to clay (if you're not doing canes and processes requiring lots of clay-handling) and think about hot colors.

I decided to make a couple of pairs of earrings that I could wear with my recent Solstice necklace. I re-visited my stringing method after wearing it, adding another strand of beads to counteract the tendency of the beads to flip around to the opposite side. I had originally put two holes in the clay pad on the back of the bead to accommodate two strands but the trick was to string the top strand first and THEN the bottom one. I use a necklace bust when I'm doing this, so I get the drape correct. I've found you just can't get it right by laying the necklace flat.

Here are the shots of the earrings before I added the earwires. You may be able to see the texture in the wire, which is the new, fabulous Whim-Z Wire from Garlan Chain Company, which comes in bronze or copper and several textures. You can see the product and buy it in bulk spools at Rio Grande. The product's distributor says it will be available in smaller quantities at retail prices soon. Check here for updates. Here I've used "Nick" in brass -- my go-to wire lately for everything from my twisty-wire embellishments to earwires. It patinates very nicely with proprietary patinas or with heat. It's very pliable but has enough oomph to hold a single loop for components or charms. And it takes gilders paste beautifully. What's not to like??

After watching a great Good Eats episode on curry, I decided to name the red ones "Masala", which means "mixture" in the Tamil language. The Kashmiri earrings have dangles ending in my new favorite stone, pyrite chips. I love that the color's a cross between gold and silver and has a nice glint to it without overwhelming the polymer.

Masala earrings

Kashmiri earrings

Jeanette Blix from ArtBliss just told me I have a new registration for my class there in September. We'll be making earrings like these and exploring many other interesting coloring techniques as well. And be sure to check out the entire lineup of fabulous instructors. For mixed media fans, ArtBliss definitely has something for everyone!