Saturday, January 31, 2009


I couldn't be more excited! I'm leaving Wed night and going to Tucson!
I'll stay with very special people :-)
and visit also with a good friend. And then... the Tucson Gem and Mineral shows! Woo hoo!
What's not to like? The fact that I have to come home on Sunday!
So I'll be loving seeing my daughter and her guy, will be looking at stones and beads and supplies, and soaking up a bit of that Arizona sun. The hot tub is waiting. :-)
I cannot wait! What should I pack? It has to fit in a carry-on, and I may just keep extra space in the bag for my 'finds' from the show. Too bad I can't squish my kids in there to bring them back to NC, but lots of hugs will come home with me to sustain that 'hug bank' for a little while and hugs don't take any luggage space.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Just because

I really don't know why. But I just wanted to make a duct tape wallet. It isn't the one pictured. The one pictured is from a site on how to make them. Click on the picture to go to the site and you can make one too.
Mine is orange.
I started thinking about multicolored duct tape wallets. Wallets with snaps, wallets with pictures made of duct tape.
What is this saying about where my brain is right now? Really what would I do with a duct tape wallet? It's sitting on my desk. Maybe I'll put it in the car and keep all those cards that you use in stores, and punch cards for coffee, and coupons and all that other stuff.

I'll bet you want one too. Let me warn you. It's very very sticky stuff. It sticks to your scissors.
You have to be very careful with placing the tape because one bad move and you have sticky stuff showing and you can't use that part of your duct tape 'fabric' .

Go ahead. make one. ;-) I just know you want one. Really even if you don't think you do...........

Monday, January 26, 2009


Now here is a question/suggestion for glass artists. Do you own a color wheel? If not, then make one or buy one and try some color theory with your work. Do you ever wonder what makes some work 'pop' and some soothe?
There is a whole psychology to color that is used in buildings, restaurants, schools. You probably know that. Like for instance, you wouldn't paint a middle school classroom red!

Anyway if you get a color wheel, then you can play with the combinations but you need to know how to use it, and then you need to start thinking of different tints and tones of each color. That's where it gets difficult.
A quilter's color wheel is a nice one to work with as it shows tints and tones.

Try using analogous color groups. Which means the colors are 'friends'. They are next to one another on a color wheel. Make one of those colors transparent. For instance, transparent striking red, opaque orange, and coral. Beautiful.
Now want to make it 'pop'? Add a compliment. (Gee you smell good haha) A complimentary color is across the color wheel from it's partner.
So the complement of coral is turquoise, or the complement of red is green. Add some dots of that complement and see what you think.

:-) color class is now over for the day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Do you Facebook?

A few months ago, I had an invitation to facebook. Ok I joined. Never did check it. Then a person added me as a friend so I went to the facebook pages and did the profile etc.
Well... it's pretty neat! The neatest thing about it is that I found some people I graduated from HS with in 1971! People I grew up with in a small town with a graduating class of 123, many of us from kindergarten on. I moved from that town, and my parents did too so the only contact I've had is at two class reunions. Plus my sister, my kids, my niece, are there too and we send each other hugs and kisses and little messages.
What a nifty surprise to visit and catch up, to see what people are doing. And it makes me think of how so many things in our world have changed since 1971. The opportunities that are available to women are now endless, and it's good to see youth interested in physical fitness and sports. We didn't even have sports for girls in 1971! I remember one year we had a girls track team. A goal for so many of us then was to be as skinny as possible. Now I see girls who lift weights and play sports and are taught to be healthy. And technology... well.. I'm starting to sound like my Grandma who said she was born in horse and buggy days and lived to see them put a man on the moon.
I think I'll go get my ipod, send emails on my computer, put some food in the microwave, and hmmmm what other modern conveniences ... oh let's not forget the blowdryer and curling iron! uggh I used to put my hair in rollers at night! Forgot about that! eeeew!

off and running........................

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why teaching is worth it

I often say the best thing about teaching is June, July, and August, but really if you know me well, you know I'm joking.
I like to teach. It's fun to interact with kids and introduce them to Art. There is always a student who catches on, becomes interested, and life changes for them because they have found something that pulls them to school and helps them enjoy their day. It did for me. Art took me to school. Some students are 'trouble' in other classes and never in Art. It's their place to shine and some find working in Art a soothing session for their brain. My boss in Houghton Lake told me when they cut so many classes (due to financial difficulties) "We can't cut Art! So many kids stay in school because of Art class." He mentioned a couple students who, yes indeed, loved Art and it kept them in school.
I've met all kinds of kids. Had all kinds of experiences. I loved my High School students because they are grown up to a certain extent, planning their lives, or sometimes floundering and yet they can be helped. Or they are already the awesomely, incredible adult they will be, just a fledgling, but you know by knowing them that you are lucky to have the experience of spending time with them in the Art room.
I've had students who enjoy art and have no skill, students who I think should probably be tattoo artists, students with tethers, students in Advanced Placement, students who are studying Ministry, students who take a few weeks off to have a baby and then come back, students who drop out, students who graduate with honors, students who are now in jail. I even was lucky enough to babysit one students chihuahua for 9 months (and loved that dog) Where else can you meet such an incredible sampling of really neat people and sometimes even touch their lives in good ways with lasting effects.
I am in a middle school now and it has it challenges, but very good experiences also. They are more raw in their emerging personalities and so full of energy. Please can I have that energy??
It's been mentioned to me that the High School would be 'lucky' to have me, but you know, I don't want to pack everything up, start all over again in another building, learning new faces, new procedures, even where the staff restroom is. So I'm staying where I am and enjoying this place in time and space.

Anyway. Yesterday I got the sweetest note from an old student who found me through a google search and I just have to share part of that note.

It's so hard to believe that it will have been 3 years since graduation come this May! I'm sure your time in North Carolina has flown by as well. I just wanted you to know that I am going to (name removed for privacy) college now for Fine Arts Painting and Illustration. I want to be a college professor someday! I thought you might like to know that because honestly I have you to thank for it! Even though you weren't really a painter yourself, your passion for art always inspired me. Whether we were making altered books, or carving plaster, I enjoyed every minute I spent in your classroom!

And that my precious readers, is why every minute spent in a classroom, every evening doing all that 'extra stuff' no one knows about really unless they teach, the early mornings, the going to work sick, the day before holidays when the kids are climbing the ceilings, buying materials a budget doesn't include, fundraising, progress reports, etc, including that most difficult last few years up North with the school's 'issues' there......... a note like this puts it all into perspective.

So, if any of my old students slip by here and read this. I want to thank you for letting me be part of your life, and for helping me have a career that is entirely fulfilling and memorable!
I'm still plugging away in my Art room, still have that messy desk, and still love to laugh and make messes. :-)
thank you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Last Man

I am totally hooked on this series! Graphic novels are you know.... comic books.
This series has 10 books and it's about the one guy who survived a plague that killed all the men on earth and only left women.
I'm on book 5 now.
You know what's neat about graphic novels? There is no 'he said' 'he thought' 'she looked and saw' type of words because it's in the pictures. And the pictures are sooo I don't know .... graphic novel-ish! ;-)
I don't know what to read when I finish these up. Although my son sent me another graphic novel _Watchmen_
so that'll last a while longer.
Fun to read and not have to 'think' but just look at the pictures and let my imagination run. I keep thinking about what is going on in the books so being obviously a very visual person anyway, these are way fun for now.

I linked the title of this post if you are interested. I am not getting anything from Amazon... just doing the link because.... I can.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Here's a t-shirt my son and my honorary son Matt designed. I like the sweatshirt myself.

Want one? Click on it to go to Cafe' press.

I sure hope this coming presidential term will make things start moving forward.
In the meantime, perk yourself up and buy some beads too! ;-)

Friday, January 16, 2009

silver clay

Have you worked with silver clay? If you see a jewelry piece that says it is 99% fine silver or says it's fine silver in the description, it is most likely metal clay. There are two companies that make it.. one type is Art Clay Silver and another is Precious Metal Clay.
It really isn't clay. It is particles of silver in a binder and it feels like a small piece of clas. You form pieces with it using certain techniques and you fire it. There are many many things you can make with it.
Before I moved to North Carolina, I would do silver casting in a studio in Michigan. That equipment isn't available to me and I sure don't need more stuff, so I work with metal clay when I need components of silver.
For Christmas, my sons bought me everything I need to work with bronze clay. That big package of clay is sitting there ready to be used. I have been planning and planning what to make. So next week when I have a couple days off, maybe that package will be opened and formed and fired to make some nifty brass jewelry pieces.

The above picture is just a simple bead cap for discs made with art clay silver and then a large headpin was formed to use with it, working both pieces together will make a nice pendant.

I wonder how many of my readers have used metal clay.

Monday, January 12, 2009

effective whining

Ok four phone calls to customer relations didn't do a thing about the disparity in price of my airline tickets. However... an email that I wrote was somewhat effective and they are going to give me a voucher. I can live with that! The fact that the consumer was acknowledged and the problem was addressed. Thank you .. ok American Airlines, I like you more now! I'd like you even more, though, if my ticket was the price it was on line this morning... a savings of $70.

I was thinking about that. A customer is a valuable person. I know that with my Etsy shop. Treat your customers well. Timely shipping, a guarantee and a little extra something in every package. That's good business.
Having jumping up and down prices and defending that (without a leg to stand on if you ask me) is not good business. I do see this same thing happen with train tickets too. There should be some regulation here if you ask me. And if you didn't ask me...... well haha I do certainly have opinions on 'stuff' like that.

In the meantime, the prices on my beads are staying the same although it might be fun to go add $70 to all my prices. ;-)

air fares

I bought tickets last week to go see our daughter in Arizona. I purchased my husband's ticket (he's taking a different plane on a different day)
and then I purchased mine. In the 5 minutes it took to make his reservation MY ticket went up $60. Where is the justice in this?
I think I'll sell beads that way. Whoa.. wait a minute, I only have 20 of those left, so you have to pay $60 more.

ugh. Don't you think a plane ticket should be a plane ticket and the price should be the same for every seat?

I looked up that same ticket this morning and now it's $70 less than I paid! Farecast doesn't predict the price on that flight or I would have waited. probably anyway.

phhhhhhhhhhtttttt on American Airlines, whose customer relations department has no sympathy. 'That's the way airlines prices tickets' I was told. But in my opinion just because it's done a certain way, that doesn't make it the correct way.

I need to make some kiss my a$$ beads!

see this heart bead? I don't heart American Airlines!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Art Criticism

My son Joe got me this totally fun book for Christmas called Art Criticism 101 (you too can be an art critic)
I used to go to museums and copy down 'Artist's statements' because I find them so entirely bulls**t-ish. Like ummmmm "My Art reflects the natural environment in an industrial world, showing the depth of humanity and it's place in the universe" kind of Artistic statements. You can find them everywhere and they are so ambiguous, and so 'not' a real idea. It's something someone writes because they 'have' too and the statement is something the 'deeper' it sounds, the better. But I think artists don't really think that way. We just create because we must. We live and breathe creative works and thoughts and can't get through life without making 'stuff'. Art reflects our inner thoughts and brain. Is it screaming pictures? Maybe you aren't screaming, but you find it amusing or fascinating, the look and the sound. ok now I am probably not making sense, but see, I don't have to make sense. I can just write an artistic statement!

So these art criticisms rather follow the same line of thinking. If you memorize one and use it once, then memorize another--people will think you know what you're talking about. And according to this book, if someone asks you to tell them more, you just remain 'cryptic' .

so let's try it. Look at the pictured beads above, and here is my criticism. ;-) coolness......

The sensuous play of surface overflows the eye with such force that the viewer cannot be detached from the surface.

it works!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

applying for art fairs

Do you participate in art fairs? I've been selling my work in shows since 1993. Things are different but still the same. Applying for shows still takes the same type of thinking and careful preparation, no matter what type of show or if it is an electronic application or paper.

My first time selling jewelry was at a flea market in my home town. I remember how exciting it was to get the letter that I was accepted! (I'm sure anyone with 10 bucks could get in, but hey, it was my first show!)
I drove there in the Suburban and set up a table with a cloth on it and an easel with pieces pinned to a big board. I had some pendants strung on leather and lanyards for sunglasses. Well, the wind blew a lot and it was easy to see the easel was a real bad idea. I sold a few things but nothing all that great, and when I went to drive home, the emergency brake on the Suburban stuck, so I drove home with it stuck (this was before cell phones, and gee, it was only 6 miles, so I figured I could drive home like that since I couldn't call and ask my husband if it was ok) Well. The brake had to be repaired (ooops!) and hmmmm I think I made a grand total of $40.00, but I was hooked, beginning to apply as much as I could to craft fairs and art fairs, hoping for entry in the better shows.
At the time, I would take pictures with our home camera and take a zillion pictures, take them in to be developed and then also had to do the same with slide film. It was horrid expensive to try to get three good pictures of jewelry and very frustrating. There were many shows I was turned down from and then some I got in to.
You learn as you go, and pictures truly are key in entering shows.
In the years of applying for shows, I learned that pictures are THE most important thing about applying for the jewelry category. So ok, good work is important too, but no one can see that good work without a good picture.
With digital photography, pictures in applications are better and better. You can have the best jewelry in the world, but if the pictures aren't good, you can forget about getting into any show.
And I have been in shows with some people with the absolute worst work and wondered 'how did they get in?' and figure, no doubt, they had great pictures.

There are tricks and tips to photos and I am no expert but will try to share some of my findings.

I did try having pictures done professionally a few times and they were never what I wanted. Two expensive ventures were deep disappointments. One with a photographer who just threw my work on a matte board any which way and took pics with his very expensive giant camera. One piece was just a beautiful work of handwoven off loom beadwork and he even had put it upside down to take it's picture. I paid him quite a bit for that work. This was before digital and he handed me the film to be developed. Another time, I went in with the jewelry and helped set it up. (another professional photographer) and again took the film to be developed. That time was 'ok' but cropping was bad and you could see all kinds of lint on the displays even though we cleaned meticulously for lint. There was a lot more background in those pictures than jewelry and that was sad because he had a giant lens on that camera and the tripod and lighting, but the pics weren't 'right'.
Even a professional jewelry photographer who took wonderful pictures didn't have exactly what I wanted. My fault on that one. He felt my three slides should be themed and connect and he picked through my work to get what he thought was best. One picture was of a simple piece that really took no technique. It was just an accessory to my better pieces, and I felt getting a picture of that was a waste of my money. Another was a close up of a pendant and it seemed to 'hang there' with nothing to hang on! It needed a good chain, and a good handmade chain would have been the best choice. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. ;-) And I learned that when taking pictures for shows, you need pieces with every element 'right'.
Having slides done with him was a good experience, and I learned a lot from it, one thing though was that I shouldn't settle on having a really nice picture taken of a piece I'm not real excited about. His point that the work should connect though, was a real learning experience. I used the pictures for a year for juried shows and didn't get into all of them, but that is not the picture's fault. That's when I learned. You need pieces that photograph well also. Pieces that are full of personality and technique. Do everything you can to make your work as well made as possible. Do you have a toggle on that piece? How can you find a unique toggle that could make your work stand out from others?

So my first rule for photography is to have pieces that reflect my artistic personality. Pieces that are fun, that have as many handmade elements as possible. I try to have a piece no one else has made and if it's really awesome, it's no one else 'could' make because the elements would be all made by me. Maybe some silver casting or PMC along with my glass work.

Jewelry categories are very competitive and you have to stand out.
The jury committee has maybe a minute or two to look at your slides and you want to be memorable.

I am not in every show I apply to. When it's a good show, there may be 200 jewelry artists applying for 7 slots. A promoter told me that! Amazing, yet not surprising. So I try not to take it to heart when I am turned down. Just determine to do better.

If your work has handmade elements, you can think/hope your slides stand above slides of jewelry that is strung with no handmade elements.

I could write about pictures for art shows every day for a week and will hopefully as time allows, tell more about jewelry photography and applying for shows.
That's my goal for this week. Have pieces ready for my show applications. I have been procrastinating, but in some ways, I am thinking. Mulling over what to have put together, and how it will photograph. Looking on the internet at good art shows and the pictures they have from their jewelry artists. I ask myself, 'what is it about this artist's work that the jury liked?"

Try it. It's a good exercise. Then get out your most unique pieces and take some pictures.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Learn to Metalsmith

Are you interested in learning metalsmithing? I was perusing Smartflix and see they have videos on how to learn just about anything.
There are some wonderful videos on metal clay, which is why I went to the site, but I see there is one by Tim McCreight who is the author of _The Complete Metalsmith_

If you order from smartflix, you rent the video for $9.99 a week and that includes shipping. I'm thinking it's a great way to learn something and not have to 'buy' the video.
Which fits into my New Year's Resolution. (an easy one since it seems I'll never lose those 10 pounds anyway, or exercise every day, or not eat junk food, or organize my desk) I am hoping to recycle....reduce and reuse. So using a dvd that is shared and I don't have to buy it or store it, fits right into my plans.

The Complete Metalsmith with Tim McCreight

check it out!
I'll be looking for more good jewelry making videos to post here and if you click through to smartflix from my blog and order something to rent, I get credit. :-)