I decided to make peace with the month of May and the dreaded and intense garden tending work that takes me away from my studio time. I've decided to embrace May fully and just step up and declare it garden tending month. It is now what I do in May. Meeting a challenge is always about the way you frame your thinking. On the first day of June as I return to the studio, I know all that tending is worth it. I hope my studio muse will agree.
May garden clean up time is a big job that takes me away from studio time. The shot below is of the west quarter of our yard and it is a very slow work in progress. As much as gardening feels like a sacrifice of studio time, I do it with joy because the garden feeds my soul as a sanctuary, it provides me with the flora I use in my jewelry collages, and it pleases "The Invisibles" that I feel so closely in my creative life. One of my favorite philosophers, John O'Donohue writes that, "Soul is the natural shelter around your life" and quotes Blaise Pascal that in difficult times, beauty will save us in the end. My greatest happiness and desire is to create little shelters of soulful beauty.
This is also my biggest challenge, because the rest of my "slow work in progress garden" is complete chaos...because, then, there are all the other projects that need tending as well....Maybe I just need to acknowledge that my life is about tending and creating and let go of any notion that there will be completion. Maybe soulful shelters of beauty can be a slow work in progress.
I found this interview with the deeply connected Dr Martin Shaw on Kathy Van Kleek's website. His words resonated with such familiarity. He speaks my language and he speaks of the essence of what inspires my work. Bone memory. I've struggled articulating where my design ideas come from. I've described my work as other worldly, tribal, inspired by antiquity but now I know it is bone memory, that memory in our bones that is deeper than our life experience, deep as all that has come before and all that will come after. After hearing his words, I recognize that this is what I tap into when I am in my studio and I bring up the mind picture of my Muse in her cottage at the edge of the forest by the sea. "Trailing ideas that may be a god in disguise".
In a letter Vaclav Havel wrote to his wife from prison...“Only by looking “outward,” by caring for things that, in terms of our survival, he needn’t bother with at all, by constantly asking himself all sorts of questions and by throwing himself over and over again into the tumult of the world, with the intention of making his voice count—only thus does one really become a person, a creator of the “order of the spirit”. a being capable of a miracle.”
It may be that making jewelry by hand, each piece it's own unique expression is not necessary for my survival nor any one else's. However, if I stopped, something in me would surely go quiet, be lost. The many ways this work challenges me, requires me to ignore the dark voices of subterfuge, is the lesson in survival, in perseverance that may be the necessary thing. And to you, what I want to say with this work, is that with all the tumult of the world, there is still beauty and mystery and places for the soul to feast. I train my mind's eye to it.
I'll also be throwing myself into the tumult of the world by joining the Women's March this weekend. Be the light.
I have a particular fondness for the archetype of the goddess Artemis. Yes, she is considered a steward for the creatures and the natural environment that nurtures them. More, Artemis, meaning "water", is a complex symbol of the independent and free feminine spirit who is deeply introspective. When we look deeply into ourselves and all that is around us, we see a complexity that includes the energies of darkness and light, peace and aggression, chaos and opportunity. Invoking thoughts of Artemis and what she signifies helps me make meaning out of all that I'm feeling as I try to understand what is happening in our present cultural challenges and how I will participate in what unfolds. She reminds me that these are the timeless challenges of humanity. What will we choose to make of our miraculous potential? What will I choose? I love this time in winter at the year's ending/beginning that brings me to a contemplation of what was and what next.
Like so many artists, putting my work out into the world is not as intuitive or easy as the making. My designs are not very traditional and I struggle a bit describing what I do. What I tend to express is otherworldly, ancient and symbol rich. It is imbued with my love of the sciences, the sea, the forest. It's bold, yet feminine. I'm so pleased with how the professional photographer, Doreen Wynja, has captured the feeling of what I want to say. All of these pieces and more will be going into my Etsy store over the next few weeks. Doreen's beautiful work can be found here: http://eyeofthelady.com
Bold, Symbolic Jewelry for Strong Women
My last show of the year will be next weekend, November 5th as I participate in the Stormy Weather Festival in Cannon Beach. Along with Sally O'Neill and other artists, I'll have a Trunk Show at the Haystack Gallery. I've been busy in the studio dreaming and making. Here a a few one of a kind pieces I'm bringing to the Trunk Show.
On October 7th through the 9th I'll be joined at studio #2 with 3 other artists who work in pottery, stained glass and the literary arts. Take a break for a colorful fall drive through the beautiful countryside to view 11 studios and the work of 26 artists. My work will be located at 18882 S. Forest Grove Loop in Oregon City but for a full list and map of all the participating artists and details click: http://openstudiosofbeavercreek.weebly.com
I've found myself using more and more color in my work lately. Usually my colors are complex but subtle. Lately, I'm drawn to colors full of energy. Maybe this is a reflection of pushing to step outside my introverted self to engage with people and the happenings around me a bit more. There have been so many deeply satisfying and heartfelt connections with others this summer from choosing to be brave in this way.
So color is happening and my favorite is this one full of symbolic images in enamels, silver and resin. It speaks of energy, alive and flowing, evoking our deeper wisdom.
More color with enamels, Afghan Lapis and Turquoise. This one may be calling on that bravery that exists in us to move us towards our greatest good.
More color exploration with handmade papers and dried flowers from my garden encased in sterling and resin. Sometimes we just need to have fun.
The Oregon City Fair is over and I have such good feelings about my experience with this venue. It was a well organized fair in a beautiful park setting in the middle of one of our main cultural sites. I met so many very interesting people, including a soulful woman who likes to wear earrings that don't match. I do to, but she has some kind of strong clarity about how she feels when she wears earrings in this way. I imagine it is like finding balance within all the parts of our lives that seek to throw our balance. She requested a custom pair just for her. I made two so she could choose. The other pair will be in my Etsy store soon, which you can access by clicking on the link below.
I love the opportunity to meet people and share stories about the pieces I've created.
Working as a studio jeweler these days requires you to spend a lot of time on your business outside of creating in the studio. I haven't found a balance yet that feels satisfying, but experimenting with my new camera to learn how to take better pictures is really fun. Amazing what a good camera can do compared to my old point and shoot. Some new works photographed with my new camera.
I've given myself the luxury of disconnecting just a bit from the noise and lists of responsibilities to return to the blissful land of scientific exploration. I'm experimenting with metal reticulation. What happens to the properties of silver when you heat it to the edge of changing it's form from a solid to a liquid? How does that change occur in different gauges or thicknesses and shapes of metal? What happens when you do some forming before or after reticulation? What changes in the colors of the metal if it is patinated and then tumbled? Here are some of the products of my first explorations. The textures that result allow some control but are still unpredictable, kind of like watercolor or the glazes on pottery. So much fun.
A machine could likely make something similar in less than an hour. It took me four days and in the four days, this shimmering sheet of sterling is imbued with the organic marks and soulful energies of the maker. You can feel it when you are near an object that has been made by the heart and hand of a maker. You can feel the life in it. That's the difference.
Tucked away in a little box I've saved these beautiful sunset pink rhodochrosite stalactite slices waiting for them to call to me. How do I describe this...they come to my mind a pull me in. Textures, lines, shapes, colors swirl around them and begin to settle into form. Sometimes a story will give them a form that carries them into into a place and time that want's to be remembered.
These rhodochrosites, with their cosmic circles of pinks, creams and amber, their organic, craggy quartz edges, settled so fittingly into my winged series. So a day or so is spent in relationship with the stone, thinking about it, listening, responding as this swirling and settling into form takes place. I draw it out, erase, redraw, fine tune, until the shape "feels" just right. Another day or so in planning and preparing the materials. I can't just leave a piece of metal in it's flat, milled, shiny form. I have to bring out it's organic texture so I hunt around for bits and send it through my rolling mill. The first run of imprinting a handmade paper wasn't enough, so I sent the sterling sheet through again with some fringes cut off a scrape of vintage material.
The finished earrings after assembling, adding a patina and finish sanding and polish. I like to leave my pieces more organic and soft than hard and shiny. I strive for a well finished piece that still reveals the imprint of the maker.
The cozy, introspective slow down of winter is here. December was such a flurry of incidents, activity and celebration that I have been away from the studio for an unsettling amount of time. Now I can return. Studio time is not only the making but also the conversation with the cosmos, the invisibles, the tandem energies of the layered realities the are the juice of creativity.
Of course the garden always evokes, whether good or ill.
Some pics from the morning garden walk:
The fall transition has come on so quickly. Such a hot dry summer brought out the beautiful colors and bounty of life fully ripened. Now the rains begin and outside chores slow down enough for me to experiment with my new inspiration; Tree Amulets, for holding wishes, prayers, intentions remembrances. They have proven to be very labor intensive, challenging but so satisfying. I hope to make several different kinds that will carry wishes, hopes, dreams, and intentions inside the capsules and charms.
How to celebrate the beauty of fall in Oregon City: Start with my favorite breakfast place in the revitalized and charming downtown Oregon City at Yvonne’s. Follow up with a beautiful county drive to visit the studios and works of fine artists who were juried and selected to participate in Open Studios of Beavercreek. The website will give you a map, and a link to the artists information. I’ll be hosted in studio #9 with the metal sculpture of Ben Nye and the paintings of Cheryl SunRidge. Save the date for my only show of the year, and enjoy the bright October light on a drive in the Oregon countryside.
October 9, 10 and 11, 10am to 5pm
You can pick up a post card from me or in the first studio you visit that will get you a chance to win a $50. gift certificate to any of the artists on the tour.
What a perfect way to start the fall season. Here's the web address: http://openstudiosofbeavercreek.weebly.com
Why is it that there are some shapes that please us so much to hold in our minds eye, we find ourself returning to time and again. Pods are one of my favorites. I always respond with great pleasure to anything in a pod shape. What is it in my cell's memory that seeks this form? Is it a biological response to a symbol of potential, of growth, of new beginnings, of endless possibilities?
In my studio, I find myself revisiting this form time and again like a child’s request for a favorite story to be read each night as if it were new with each telling.
A friend requested a commission to give as a gift. It was to involve the theme of angels and aquamarine. I begin my process by spending a couple of days thinking about angels, what lies beneath this symbol and how we respond to the idea of angels. All human cultures have some kind of symbol for freedom, for the spirit that leaves the boundaries of earth and joins the heavens or cosmos. Wings of some kind symbolize the unique, whole and boundless spirit that all beings possess. So I begin sketches with the beauty of this idea and thoughts of the person to whom the gift is being made.
Making these sketches reminded me of a picture that resonated strongly with me, of a pictograph from Wild Horse Canyon, Utah. It was of a winged creature with a very long tail that depicted a shaman with his feet on the ground and his head in the worlds beyond. Sometimes I feel that way, grounded but with my mind traveling in a different world, operating in a separate reality, especially when I am creating. So I sidetracked and made a piece inspired by that pictograph and what it represents for me. It gave me a chance to experiment with the sketches and textures in bronze before I move to the commissioned piece. When it's finished, I'll put up more pics before adding it to my shop.
A friend asked me to make a Sun Catcher for her to give as a gift. I love Sun Catchers and have several of my own hanging in my eastern windows. They bring in a sparkle of rainbows with the morning light that paints my wall. I sit with my coffee and meditate on how much beauty and magic there is to be found in everyday life.
I tend to like things that are a little strange, maybe unexpected, mysterious. So, I brought home this beautiful Venus Flytrap. Several weeks later she bloomed! I had to celebrate by capturing her glory in a portrait.
On a day when I was feeling that kinetic energy, the kind that makes you want to run away to join a carnival, this piece came together. Jackie said it was beautiful in an unsettling way. Exactly.