Saturday, December 5, 2009

State of the Arts Gallery

I'm pleased to announce that my work is now available at State of the Arts Gallery in Olympia, Washington.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New items at Wandering Turtle!

I just delivered a fresh batch of goodies to the Wandering Turtle-- lots of earrings in all styles, from dyed paper and mosaic to wabi-sabi leaf earrings. Get 'em while the gettin's good! (I'm talking to you, Hoosiers!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

...and now for something completely different. Hand-embossing is the brave new frontier I'm exploring lately. This piece involved several layers of embossing on creamy Arches text. The title, of course, is a reference to the ee cummings poem....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

River of Fire card

No text on this one, just the beautiful serendipitous design. Sometimes words aren't needed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Etsy store up and running again

Ok, I've officially resurrected my Etsy store to carry my new greeting cards, some original 2d works, and other papery goodness as-yet-unimagined. There's not much there just yet, but I'll be adding things at a reasonably steady pace, so do check in from time to time.

A. A. Milne card

Other than Winnie The Pooh, I hadn't read much Milne. He wrote all sorts of other things, you know, in particular mysteries. I recently began perusing the works of his available on Project Gutenberg, and came across a collection of essays-- some whimsical, some serious, all written in his characteristic style-- called "If I May". The quote featured on this card originates there, in a narrative piece written in the second person plural about luring a friend away from work to go on a day-long springtime walkabout through the countryside.

Of course, there are many times when one may wish to leave the road. Sometimes all one requires is a little encouragement.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chekov greeting card

Well, I know, when you think 'greeting card', probably 'Anton Chekov' is not the first author you would think of to contribute text. Nevertheless, I did this as an ACEO earlier this year, and thought that the text could make an unusual card-- one perhaps to be used when getting in touch again with someone temporarily lost. Or just to send to a Chekov fan. Better yet, a Chekov fan you haven't communicated with in some time. (A Chekov fan would like this kind of thing, trust me).

The text reads,
"At times one catches a glimpse of cranes on the horizon, and a faint gust of wind brings their plaintive, ecstatic cry, and a minute later, however greedily one scans the blue distance, one cannot see a speck nor catch a sound; and like that people with their faces and their words flit through our lives and are drowned in the past, leaving nothing but faint traces in the memory."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thank you card

I was planning to add the greeting cards to the Paypal Storefront, but I'll tell you. That dang thing is worthless. First of all, it freezes my browser halfway through adding an item (a process that doesn't involve that many steps, so it's kind of amazing that it does this so faithfully). Then yesterday, as I tried to add a greeting card, it persistently disagreed with me that the URL for my photo led where I said it led. So I couldn't get a photo up, so I couldn't add the item. So when my browser froze, I gave up. I've decided to chuck the whole thing. I'm going to find another solution-- perhaps reopening my Etsy shop, perhaps finding a different type of shopping cart. When it's all up and running, you'll be the first to know.

Anyway, here is the next new design! This one comes with a hot pink envelope. Zowie!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mosaic greeting cards

I'm pleased to unveil my new line of artist greeting cards based on my paper mosaics!

These are prints of the original work, mounted on a top quality white cardstock A2-sized card. On each I hand emboss a panel to frame the piece, and select an envelope to match. I kind of have a thing with colored envelopes-- I do use some white, but only if I don't have a colored one that will work. The envelope is the first thing the recipient sees, after all! The 'winter greetings' card comes with a pale, pale blue flecked envelopes. Both the cardstock and the envelopes are made from 100% recycled, acid-free paper. They come packaged in a resealable clear bag.

Stay tuned to see all the new designs!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Whitman sampler

I've been backsliding! I was doing so well with the frequent blogging for a while there. I was in a bit of a frenzy to finish getting things ready for the River Arts Fest-- I'll blog about that soon-- and then I went to Memphis for a week for it, and then earlier this week I returned home and had to recuperate.
Ok, enough excuses. Here's a little eye-candy for you.
I made this piece for my philosopher for an anniversary present-- it's one of his favorite quotes, and very appropriate for a philosopher (especially one who has an interest in human rationality, or lack thereof). The geometric shapes that form the border are hand-embossed (well, debossed, technically). It was a bit tricky since I don't have a light table. But it turned out perfectly. Blind embossing may be my new favorite thing.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gallery by the Green

I've been remiss in my blogging, I know! In the meantime, fall has fallen here in southern Indiana. This means, in part, that everyone is flocking to Brown County and the little town of Nashville (that's Nashville, Indiana-- not that other Nashville!) where the leaves are beginning to put on their best show, and so are the artisans, who make their studios open to visitors every October.

I'm not lucky enough to have my studio in Brown County, but my work is available there at Gallery by the Green, located just a block off the main drag at 23 North Jefferson. I dropped off some fresh work to them on Monday, while on the way to my annual pumpkin-buying splurge at Kelp's Pumpkin Patch in Gnaw Bone.

Fall leaves, art, and pumpkins. Good stuff.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Autumn winds

I would be lying if I tried to pretend I am not very pleased with myself for this one.

It all started with an invitation to donate an item for the silent auction at the Memphis River Arts Festival opening party on October 23rd. I have donated to auctions in the past, usually just little things. This time I decided that I could use this as an opportunity to challenge myself (it didn't hurt that artists whose work sells for more than a certain amount get a cut of the selling price and automatic acceptance to next year's festival-- excellent incentives to give generously!). I wanted to make something new, something bigger and more detailed than ever before, something that would really attract attention at the opening party and bring people to my booth the next day.

This necklace set is the result-- it's evocative of the season, but also related to the region-- you can't really read it here, but the panels on the necklace include the text, "Autumn winds roll through the dry leaves", a fragment of a poem by Arkansas poet John Gould Fletcher. The many paper pieces are reminiscent of a drift of fall leaves, and the spirals are the little whirlwinds that scatter the leaves around you.

I believe I have the start of a new line of jewelry here-- I want to make a few more showstoppers like this, but this style is also very appealing in a version with fewer pieces-- just a few inches of paper and metal 'fringe' at the center. And the earrings, well-- lots of fun on their own.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

A neighbor cat. A roly-poly little thing. That's 'little' in the affectionate, diminutive sense; obviously not literal. He was in the midst of a face-off with Persistence when I took this picture-- looks like he's afraid I'm going to jump on him.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jewelry + power

Madeleine Albright has a new book out about her collection of brooches and how she used them to good effect in her diplomacy-- and it seems, her messages always came across loud and clear. Here's a woman who knows that jewelry can be used for a lot more than looking pretty! I'm putting this one on my wishlist for sure.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Whence 'jewelry'?

Yesterday someone found this blog by searching for "where did the word 'jewelry' come from?". I realized that they had probably gone away unsatisfied. Since I do have full access to the Oxford English Dictionary online, and since this is a nice intersection of linguistics and jewelry, I'll answer! (Although, please note, I never really did etymology, even though etymology questions are the ones I get asked most frequently. Well, etymology and, "Do you have this in a different color?" But since I'll be here till my dying day waiting for someone to ask me about, say the semantics of temporality in Swahili, which was what I used to spend my time on, linguistics-wise...well, I'll take it where I can get it, is what I'm saying.)

'Jewelry' is historically composed of 'jewel' + 'ery'. (The British spelling makes this clearer, 'jewellery'). 'Jewel' in turn is from Old French joel (found around the 12th century). Where the Old French came from is still a bit of an open question, but probably from either Latin gaudium or jocare . '-ery' just turns a verb into a noun-- originally it was used with only words of French origin, but generalized a bit after that to words of English origin, too. It's the same -ery you'll find in 'bravery', 'cutlery', 'treachery', 'bakery', 'pottery'....

There you go! Here at My Word! we have (or can find) the answers to all your linguistics-related jewelry questions, and your jewelry-related linguistics questions.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Overthinking Jewelry

Time for everyone's favorite feature of the week-- overthinking jewelry! I've noticed a decided dearth of (readily findable) jewelry research that I can really sink my teeth into. But it turns out that I might be a researcher myself: a practicioner of performative research. The description sounds good: "(practice-based researchers) may be led by what is best described as 'an enthusiasm of practice': something which is exciting, something which may be unruly, or indeed something which may be just becoming possible....Practice led researchers construct experiential starting points from which practice follows. They tend to dive in, to commence practicing to see what follows. They acknowledge that what emerges is idiosyncratic and individualistic." That sounds like me! Unfortunately, the article is a bit vague with respect to what the goals are supposed to be, what the output might look like, and of what use it might be in the end. I was confused. What I got out of it, though, is that me engaging in the practice of reflecting in writing about jewelry, may well count as research in this paradigm! Good news.

(I'm sorry, I'm being totally sarcastic. I love me some quantitative research methods, I can't help it.)

So anyway, back to the jewelry. Just an observation, really. There's this widespread idea that the meaning of a work of art resides in the intent of the artist. Or writer. The assumption is that art is an act of communication, and in order to understand the message, we have to be able to get at what the artist/writer was 'trying to say'. I think this idea goes away pretty quickly (or at least becomes disputable) with some careful reflection, but nevertheless, it's out there. For the 'fine arts', anyway, it's out there. Shift focus to jewelry. As often as I have people enter my booth and tell me that my work is Art, only very very seldom do people ask me to tell them about my intent with a piece. Actually I think it happened just once (yes, I was gratified). The rest of the time, they freely engage in discussing what the piece means to them, without any reference to what I may have been "trying to say" or asking me "what it means". I think that's wonderful! After all, that act of personalization and interpretation is exactly what much of my work is about. But it's an interesting contrast. I'd be interested in knowing whether it has to do with the marketplace where they find my work-- perhaps abstract oil painters exhibiting at art fairs have noticed the same contrast, and the main difference is between works that have entered the canon (by being chosen for exhibit in a museum) and works available for purchase, where a person does need to think explicitly about how it will fit into their life and their home before buying. Or maybe it's a fine art vs. fine craft contrast: perhaps in Art, the artist as auteur is more salient, whereas the functionality of craft makes the end user the more relevant member of the pair. I don't know! But I think that there is a difference between where people instinctively locate/construct meaning in one type of artistic product versus another.

I'll close with a bit of Billy Collins (it's only half the poem, forgive me, but go buy the book it's in if you want to read the rest):

Would anyone care to join me
in flicking a few pebbles in the direction
of teachers who are fond of asking the question:
"What is the poet trying to say?"

as if Thomas Hardy and Emily Dickinson
had struggled but ultimately failed in their efforts--
inarticulate wretches that they were,
biting their pens and staring out the window for a clue.

Yes, it seems that Whitman, Amy Lowell
and the rest could only try and fail,
but we in Mrs. Parker's thrid-period English class
here at Springfield High will succeed

with the help of these study questions
in saying what the poor poet could not,
and we will get all this done before
that orgy of egg salad and tuna fish known as lunch.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Snoogly kitties! Snooglysnooglysnoogly! In case you were wondering how Ballyhoo and Persistence get along with each other.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The occasional real leaf

Wish I could get this color red with the pigments I use. Alas, the only thing that does the trick is cadmium red-- a carcinogen. So no bright reds for me! (At least not without dye)

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Remember how the other day I was talking about my approach to words on jewelry, and how some parts of speech/ phrases require that the viewer/reader fill in context and make their own personal interpretations of the piece? (If not, go reread it.) Well, today I was perusing one of my regular blogs-for-perusing, and the guy talks about the exact same thing, except with blog pictures. He also does it less pedantically.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Some calligraphy for late summer

Here's that calligraphy piece I did the other day-- I never did get the scanner to work, but by some miracle I was able to take a decent photo of it. (Good thing it's not too big (6x8) or I never would have gotten the whole thing in focus).

I started with a segment of dyed paper in rich late-summer colors, and then went on a search for the right words. I ended up with a portion of a poem by John Gould Fletcher, courtesy of Project Gutenberg. I had not previously been familiar with his work, but am glad to have discovered it. I'll definitely be coming back to him again.

The text reads: "I wait here dreaming of vermilion sunsets:
In my heart is a half fear of the chill autumn rain."

Captures perfectly that mood of hanging on to the last remnants of summer while knowing that soon it will be gone. September always feels like that.

A side note: I seem to use this hand a lot (for non-calligraphers, I mean the lettering style I used there)-- it's the one I use most often on my jewelry, too. Well, in case you think I'm not trying to extend myself, I did try several other hands before finally settling on this one. I see it as very personal, based as it is on my own non-calligraphic handwriting. Very well suited to first-person, subjective sorts of texts.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Have I told you about Vindaloo and her obsession with mint? I may have mentioned it in passing, but here's the whole story: It started with some mint-scented soap I bought a while back. I'd catch her on the edge of the tub, licking it. Seriously. It was handmade, natural ingredients, so I didn't worry about it. (She still does it when I have minty soap, and also with cinnamon soap). Then, after that, she began to come after me when I go to bed. You see, just before I lie down, I put on some lip balm, also mint-flavored. If she catches me right after I've put it on and it's still very strong-smelling, she'll actually try to lick my lips. I'll be laying there trying to sleep, and here comes this cat, sticking her nose in my face. I do try to discourage it. Ok, last piece of evidence: now that I'm letting her out on the deck, with supervision, she's discovered my mint plants. Here she is this morning, nibbling at my chocolate mint. It needed a trim anyway, it's ok. Yo'd think her breath would be much improved, but no, not really. Maybe I should try giving her Altoids.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Something I made recently

I call this one "Shadows". It's another piece I made during my recent bout of productive creativity-- the same bout that produced the ginkgo set, the super-dangly leaf earrings, and the Three Petals necklace. Man, that was a good week.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Overthinking Jewelry: some navel-gazing about text selection

Wandering off the topic of jewelry a bit...but we'll start there.

Much of the time I feature single words on pieces, for practical reasons-- the pieces are small, a single word of reasonable length is all that will fit! But I also do larger pendants sometimes, or multi-tile necklaces, and then I have more room to play. But the principle is the same-- I like to choose text the full meaning of which is somewhat open to interpretation. It may just be a phrase, but if I can (if I have room), I like fragments of narrative that invite the reader/wearer/viewer to fill in the rest of the story for themselves. This makes the meaning very subjective-- I lose some control, since you never know how people will fill in the blanks, but often the piece ends up with a very personal meaning for the viewer, a meaning I'm not privy to. I love that.

Venturing away from jewelry, I have the same approach to calligraphy. I'm always interested in the creative process of calligraphers-- do they start with a text, or with a visual image, or do the two co-evolve? I have trouble being inspired by the Words Of Wisdom so often chosen for calligraphy pieces. You know, of the form "X is Y", e.g., "Wisdom is..." or "Art is...". Not that there aren't beautiful pieces that revolve around such text, but I myself can't find that I get anywhere with an incipient artwork when starting with a quote like that. I prefer an evocative fragment, torn from the middle of a story. A landscape, a characterization....

Often I start with a piece of my decorated paper, and search for a text that will fit it best. I can delve into my own journals, into my own imagination, into my files of quotations-- sometimes coming up empty-handed, or with not enough. Lately I've come upon a different way to locate text. After staring at my blank paper for a ridiculously long period of time waiting for something to come to me, I pick a phrase-- a short snippet is all that's necessary-- and use advanced search on google to search the Project Gutenberg site. It brings up all texts containing the phrase, often in interestingly elided forms, and I browse through to find one that I like. I can use it as google delivered it, oddly truncated, or I can search through the entire file to find the complete quote (or to discover something even better in the text). It's wonderful-- if you like unusual, decontextualized text fragments as much as I do, anyway.

I did a very nice piece yesterday with this method of text location, but I can't show you-- my printer has decided to deny that it has ever had scanner capability. Grrr.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009


First, some belated Friday Cat Blogging. I took these pics as I was getting ready to leave for Penrod. Persistence was being very helpful (the box she's sitting in formerly held my jewelry boxes, fortunately put safely out of the way of cat butt before she arrived). And Ballyhoo was supervising. Thanks, cats!

Here I am, after most of the work of setting up was done, but before the crowds arrived on Saturday. (My belly is supposed to look like that, by the way-- I'm about 5 months pregnant.)

Here's the philosopher, in his role as Carrier of Things, Fetcher of Snacks and Water, and Provider of Moral Support and Occasional Breaks. Note how he fits so well into the art show setting in that Hawaiian shirt.

And in the calm before the day begins, the artists put the final touches on their displays, drink their complementary coffee, and take the opportunity to walk around and look at each others' work while they have a chance.

It was a wonderful show! The weather was just perfect-- sunny, calm, not too warm. It did warm up in the afternoon, but not enough to send people away in large numbers in seach of air conditioning. I was busy all day, until the crowd began to thin out in the late afternoon. I hardly got a chance to eat my lunch! My fried-cheese-on-a-stick sat there forlorn and neglected for much longer than it should have. No complaints, though. I got to meet all kinds of nice people, saw some previous customers again, and generally enjoyed my day at the festival.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Something I made recently

In the category of new designs that I'm very excited about, I must show off these earrings. More leaves! This time, long and ever so danglesome, and with a generous scattering of 24k gold leaf.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I'm getting ready for Penrod! It's this Saturday, September 12, from 9-5, held at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Well, I have been getting ready for Penrod for the last month or so. I haven't done the show before, but I've wanted to since before I even left grad school and started doing shows. I'd walk through every year and sigh wistfully and dream about how great it would be to be a show artist, displaying at Penrod. (I know, I know-- any show artists reading this are now snickering at my idealism. I really like doing art festivals though, ok?) And now I am! Now my concerns are more practical (will I have enough earrings? Will it be windy? Will it be rainy? Too hot? Will people buy as much as I'd like them to?), but I'm no less thrilled to be in it this year. (Happily, the forecast for Saturday currently contains no mention of excessive heat, wind, or rain. Let's hope it stays that way.)

Penrod is one of the largest one-day art festivals in the U.S. It is HUGE. Walking through it, it's easy to get art overload before you even see all there is to see (lots of entertainment as well as art, plus all the yummy food). So when you come, make a beeline to my booth first: I'll be in the Yellow section, booth #56. See you there!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A real leaf

In honor of the rapidly approaching fall, I'll be photographing a leaf every now again and posting them here. Yes, it's a new blog feature! Exciting, no?

I love using leaves as inspiration for my Wabi-Sabi Collection designs, as you may have noticed, and as I was out for my morning walk today, I kept noticing all these beautiful leaves that had fallen, and thought it would not be difficult to document them and save the photos for purposes of future inspiration. So here we are, with our very first in the series!

What counts as a beautiful leaf to me isn't your usual autumn leaf caught mid-transformation between red, yellow, orange, and green-- although those are very nice--I like them with even more character. I suppose any fall leaf is a bit wabi-sabi, but I especially like the ones that have been chewed by insects, trodden upon, whipped by the wind, colonized by fungi (like whatever's causing the black spots on this one). These are leaves that have really lived, if you'll allow me to anthropomorphize.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Useful Tip

One more resin-related tip, and then I think I'm out of tips on that subject.

You can of course cast resin, as the photos on the resin box probably advertise, but you can also brush it on-- that's what I do to coat and protect my pieces. What to use for the brushing-on, though? You can't really clean resin up very easily, so you don't want to use a regular paintbrush. Sponge brushes are a good choice, but if you're doing it often, at a single use each, that's wasteful and will quickly become expensive.

My solution: Go to a local furniture store and be nice to the salespeople (who will be very disappointed that you aren't there to buy something), and ask if they have any scrap foam padding you can have. They use it for moving furniture, and usually there's a pile of it in the back room somewhere. Once you get this foam, a) store it in a closed trashbag so it doesn't get lint on it, and b) cut it into pieces and use them as little foam brushes. There's no handle, of course, so you fingers will get all up in the resin-- but you're wearing your trusty nitrile gloves for safety, so that doesn't matter, right?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Overthinking Jewelry: words

Back to words, then. Words on jewelry. Here's my approach:

Words have what linguists call 'argument structure'. 'Argument structure' refers to what goes with a particular word in a sentence. For example, some words need an additional word to go with them, as an integral part of their meaning-- you might see such words as carrying an empty slot along with them that has to be filled with another word. Verbs are the best examples of this: if you hope, you're hoping [for something]. If you create, you're creating [something]. There's a little empty piece that can be filled in. Not just the object, in fact, but also the subject: [You] are creating [something]. And also indirect objects are sometimes required: [You] give [something] [to someone].

Ok. So, nouns generally don't have much argument structure. Most nouns are ok just floating out there on their own, and they're complete that way. They make great labels, but they don't leave much to the imagination. There's not much crying out to be filled in, meaning-wise. I generally stay away from nouns on jewelry for this reason.

Verbs, on the other hand, have one or more empty slots in them that have to be filled in at least subconciously in order to make much sense: subject, direct object, indirect object. All of these are things that a person reading the word will have to supply in order to make sense of the word. On jewelry, this can be wonderfully imaginative and unique to each person. So I love using verbs on my jewelry! When you see a pendant that says give, you still have to do some work: give [love] [to everyone]? Give [money] [to the needy]? Give [time] [to your family]? All of the above? It gets you thinking a bit, and allows each person to come up with an interpretation that's meaningful to them personally.

Next we have adjectives and adverbs. These are interesting because they too 'require' things be filled in-- nouns, of course, in the case of adjectives, and verbs in the case of adverbs. So that takes us back to my stance on nouns and verbs-- I will use both adjectives and adverbs in my work, but I'll take an adverb over an adjetive any day. If you put an adjective on a pendant, it's sort of taken by default to refer to the person wearing it. "Brave", for example. "Ok, the wearer says she's brave." And that's kinda the end of it. Turn it into an adverb, though, and suddenly all sorts of questions are raised-- do what bravely? You understand there to be some verb lurking there. Then you have to fill in its argument structure. The imagination is fully engaged at this point. It's a bit more work-- ok, a lot more work-- and some people may simply choose not to engage with the piece, but others (especially the verbally talented among us) become absorbed, as they create meaning, and build a little world around the verb I've given them.

My absolute favorites are the prepositional phrases that describe manner or time. The principle is the same as for adverbs-- they evoke an event, the contents of which is left open for the viewer (or coauthor as I sometimes like to think of it) to construct. "After the moon rose", or "with a careless joy" beg for more information: what happened then? What did she do so joyfully?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

We had a new deck built! This a cause for great celebration-- the old deck was 10x10, and between the grill, table, bench, and plants, you couldn't fit more than a couple of people on it without it getting crowded very quickly. Plus, some of the boards were starting to look very precarious.

The new deck sports cool horizontal railing, now up to code with the required spacing between boards so no one gets their head stuck. The problem is, it's now also too narrow for the cats to jump on and off. It's just too high for them to jump from the top railing to the ground. Well,
we've rigged up a temporary system involving a protruding plank that they are managing to use, but it's hidden so that generally speaking, the way on and off is not clear. All this means that Vindaloo, who normally isn't allowed outside at all, can venture onto the deck a little, under supervision.

It's all very exciting for her. Here she is, nervously checking out the plants and looking for escape routes (which she will not find! Hah! Trapped!).

The little deck off to the side there is "Joanna's Deck of Solitude and Contemplation". Its front railing is cleverly removable so we can take stuff on and off the deck easily. Our carpernters rocked.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gingko necklace and earrings

Here's just one of the new designs I've come up with this past week: the Ginkgo. Stylized leaves of textured paper and pigment, hammered wire integrated with a thick dome of resin on the back. The pendant has a generous dose of 24k gold leaf for sparkle.

The color shown here I'm calling Aubergine (because it sounds so much fancier than "eggplant" and is more familiar to most than "biringanya", the Swahili word for this tasty, richly hued vegetable). I also have an Autumn Yellow version (the color that actual ginkgo leaves turn in the fall) and a Summer Green, with silver wire and leafing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Artisans

A hearty welcome to the latest gallery to carry my work: The Artisans of McLean, VA. It looks like a fun shop, and I'm thrilled to have my work there! Winging their way thither are some cute polkadot earrings, mosaic earrings in fall colors, and a couple of Falling Leaves pendants.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Useful Tip

Today's topic: gold leaf. Gold leaf is gold that has been pounded until extremely thin and light as a feather. It comes in packs of 25-3x3 inch sheets, and it can be tricky to wrangle. It floats on air like ash. Here's my tip: if you're working with gold leaf, a) remember to shut the windows so there's no breeze, and b) try not to exhale. If you do have to breathe (you greenhorn!), turn your head away from the gold leaf. Under no circumstances should you sneeze.

If you do sneeze, don't bother trying to catch the pieces while they're wafting around the room. Just keep your eye on the largest pieces until they settle somewhere, then use your brush to pick them up again. And try not to snort in exasperation as you do this, or you'll just be going through the whole routine again.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Something I made recently

I've made so many good things this week, it was hard to choose which to feature! Actually, it wasn't, because this is the only one I've finished varnishing-- the rest of them are still in the queue for finishing touches. More new design excitement to come as soon as I catch up on varnishing!

In the meantime, here's my Three Petals necklace-- torn paper, raw pigment, gold filled wire and chain, 24k gold leaf, and resin.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Overthinking Jewelry

Time for another installment of "Overthinking Jewelry"! I promised that I'd have a go at talking about my thoughts about text on jewelry, so here goes.

We put text on lots of stuff we wear-- T-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers (worn by proxy), hats, etc...most of it is fairly direct in terms of content. Short, snappy, pithy, witty, meant to reflect fairly clearly our affiliations, views, and experiences of various sorts (I like this sports team! I like this band! I have this political view! I was at this event! I visited this place!). You can certainly do all that with text on jewelry, too. But there's also the potential of being more personal with jewelry, more vague. I want to say "more artsy", but that isn't very specific. Less direct may be what I have in mind. For example, you can put a line of poetry on a bracelet, but I don't see too many people going around with poems on T-shirts. Why? What does wearing a poem say about you? Other than that you like poetry? The reader has to make some inferences to figure out what it says about you-- it's not basically a label, like so many T-shirts are. A poetry bracelet says you're a literary type, maybe you particularly love that poet, that the words and the mood conjured by the poetry are something you'd like to remember, are relevant to your inner, spiritual life. That may be it-- jewelry can say something about one's inner life, something more private, while other forms of clothing with words are public. This may have as much to do with size as anything else.

The smaller size of jewelry makes the text less visible-- you can assume that you're not broadcasting the contents quite as widely as you are when you wear a T-shirt with something written on it. It can remain private, or can be shared with people close enough to you to notice and ask, which opens a door to an interesting conversation. With more private expression, you are freer to express things close to yourself, integral to your identity. In a public forum, sure, those things can come across too, but there's often more distance. The distance provided by irony, for example. A witty shirt with a sarcastic or ironic tone creates a certain kind of public face for the wearer. Jewelry doesn't need irony. [Though it can certainly have it, I'm not disputing that.] I realize that kind of contradicts what I said in the first paragraph about jewelry being less direct than other forms of words-to-be-worn. Maybe what I meant was 'more general, less specific', rather than 'less direct'.

I have more to say about this, but I need to think more and if I do that here, now, I'll just keep rambling. Best to keep the rambling to short episodes. But remind me to talk about (a) topic and (b) parts of speech (oh yeah! I think about grammar! You better believe it.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

About that new cat...earlier this spring when I was working outside a lot, she started coming up and rolling around in front of me begging for attention. Soon she was up on the deck, begging for attention. And food. And then begging to come in, waiting patiently at the door, staring at us through the glass. Sometimes she'd just follow me on in like she owned the place. This went on for about 4 months. Eventually we gave in, took her to the vet, and officially welcomed her into the family. We've decided to call her Persistence.

Vindaloo is not happy about this state of affairs, and crouches down making the weirdest theramin-like growls when Persistence is near. She often tries to block her way in and take a swipe at her. We're hoping she gets used to the situation sooner rather than later.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Useful Tip

Another one for the folks who work with resin. I only use a very small amount at a time (a tablespoon at most), so this may not be as practical if you're working with larger amounts, but the instructions that come with resin are usually a bit wasteful-- you have to use a new mixing cup every time, and 2 new popsicle sticks to stir.

Here's what I do: Line a small cup with plastic wrap. I use a condiment cup, but any kind of little cup would be fine.Put some double-stick tape on the back of the cup, and fold the plastic wrap over to secure. Mix your resin in that, and bundle the whole thing up and toss the remains when you're done. Then reuse the cup.

Also, forget the popsicle sticks. Scrap cardstock or thin cardboard (from cereal boxes or what-have-you) cut in strips is cheaper and works just as well.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Something I made recently

Here's a good example of a not particularly feminine yet (in my opinion) intriguing pendant. This is one of these serendipitous landscapes that emerges in the dyebath-- the colors are dark and moody, and remind me of a night scene, where something is going on just over the horizon, just beyond the trees....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Overthinking Jewelry

These past couple of days, I've been reading this dissertation by Jean E. McElvain. She explores the details of how and why people choose to wear T-shirts expressing support for a cause (political, health awareness, etc). She asks questions like: Is there a relationship between your personal identity and the clothes you wear, when you're wearing a T-shirt supporting a cause? Do you think that people view you differently when you wear such a T-shirt? How do you feel when people comment positively/negatively/not at all on a T-shirt you're wearing? What kinds of sentiments would be inappropriate to wear on a T-shirt in public? Where would you be willing (or not) to wear a T-shirt supporting a cause?

These questions may equally well be asked of any kind of wearable object, even those not directly representing a social cause, or featuring text at all.

Is there a relationship between the jewelry you wear (if any?) and your personal identity? How do people view you when you're wearing this type of jewelry (any type-- pick one: handmade, mass produced, precious metal and gemstone, crystal and wire, clay, paper, glass...)? If your jewelry has words/text on it, what kinds of sentiments are inappropriate to wear on jewelry in public? Do you want people to be able to read and comment on your jewelry? Where is it appropriate to wear certain types of jewelry, and where would you consider it to be inappropriate?

So many intriguing questions. I'll try to answer some of them for myself.

Personally, I think that there is a hugely important relationship between the jewelry I wear and my identity. For one thing, chances are good that whatever I'm wearing, I made! It represents my identity as an artist. But beyond that, my jewelry that I wear most often represents the value I place on handmade objects, on uniqueness, on quirkiness and acceptance of idiosyncracy, boldness, and the discovery of beauty in imperfections.

I hope that these aspects of my personality are made clear when others see the jewelry I'm wearing. I think people do view you differently depending (in part) on your jewelry. The reactions may not be as strong as they are for something like a political T-shirt, but they're there. I try to avoid off-the-shelf pieces that look mass-produced, even if I generally like them stylistically. I find mall-jewelry-store type jewelry (setting plucked from a catalog, set with a faceted gemstone also plucked from a catalog) particularly inconsistent with my sense of identity. I think that the perennial popularity of certain styles and materials is wrapped up in ideals/fantasies of femininity. I reject many of those ideals, so because of that I also tend to stay away from jewelry that would give the impression that I accept these ideals.

Words on jewelry. This is a complicated question for me! I think it deserves its own entry. And I have to think more about appropriateness of different types of jewelry to different situations, too. More on those, later, then.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on these questions. Tell me, tell me!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Return of Friday Cat Blogging

I was expecting a great hue and cry in favor of the return of Friday Cat Blogging, but really only one person came out strongly in favor of it. (And surprisingly, there was no objection to the proposed The Randy Composter feature. I had thought that would unite people against me for sure.) But a hue and cry of one is enough for me to give it another go. I listen to my reading public. I still have reservations about it; this is supposed to be a business tool, and if someone thinking about buying my work for their gallery pops by, I'd like there to be a good chance that they will quickly encounter something here actually about jewelry. But I'll give it a try and see how it goes. "Frequent posting!" the philosopher advised, so that's what I'm emphasizing.

We're putting in a new deck. The cats were at first very disturbed by the disappearance of the old deck, but now the new one is together enough for them to explore. Here's Ballyhoo, checking out the new nap-and-sun-platform, as he thinks of it. Actually, that's not too far off from how I think of it.

We also have a new cat, but more on her later.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I've been continuing the Great Blog Improvement Brainstorming Session. Here are my ideas:

1. Blog with greater frequency.

2. Use more exclamation points, to lend an air of excitement and provide continuity with my business name, My Word!

3. New features, including:
  • Here's something I made! (once a week at least)
  • Here's something someone else made! (once a week at most)
  • Here's a shop who now has my jewelry, or who has a fresh batch! (as often as possible)
  • Here is a Useful Tip! (Weekly. I'll try to keep it art-related, but no promises)
  • Jewelry eggheaditude! In which I indulge my academic urges and opine insightfully about jewelry beliefs, practices, folklore, historiography around the world. Also I imagine there will be a lot of talk about performing one's identity. I'll also try to relate these ideas to my own work when possible. We're talking real content, here. I'll try to keep it to a minimum, but I'm afraid I must do it. I'll try to think of a catchy title for this series soon.
  • Here is something I did this week! Entertaining personal anecdotes.
  • The Randy Composter! A weekly short feature in which I update you on the progress of my compost piles. I'm not so sure about this one, but the purpose is to illustrate that I have a life outside of jewelry making and blogging. (I do! Really!)

So that's five weekly topics and two occasional topics, all highly entertaining, which include a smattering of themes which, if done in isolation, might be boring or pretentious or both, but when done together will, I hope, result in an ever-changing carousel of readability, illustrating the many facets of my work and life, while bringing you readers back over and over again. [10 points to anyone who can correctly diagram that sentence. X-bar diagrams only, please.]

The question that remains is, should I bring back Friday Cat Blogging? Or would that be too much?

I've been thinking a lot about this blog lately. I had wanted it to be a window into my jewelry making/other artifications so you all can get to know me better, get some idea of what I'm about and what I'm thinking and making. But, um, I'm afraid it's been a bit less interesting that I intended for some time now. Sorry. I think it went downhill when I got rid of the cat blogging.

The model I've fallen into-- "here's a thing!"-- is just not that interesting to read. Not bad to look at, sure, but not so engaging on other levels. I myself don't read blogs that are all, "hey, look at this!". So I've been asking myself, what kinds of blogs do I like to read? Maybe mine should be more like that. But I like to read things that are a) excessively whim-driven (like this), or b) excessively eggheady, like this or this or c) personal anecdotes from friends, like this or this. Sometimes, on a lucky occasion, I find one that's all three of those combined-- whim-driven personal anecdotes from eggheady people. I also like to read about food. None of these are especially appropriate to a blog about my jewelry, so I'm not sure I can adopt these as models.

Other approaches to blogging that I don't like, in addition to the "here's a thing I made!" type, include the "here's someone on the web who is interesting!", and "here's what someone else made!" and "here's a useful tip!". I don't have any useful tips. Well, that's not true (here's one: it turns out that resin does not stick to plastic wrap, so you can line your work surface with plastic wrap to mitigate disasters), but I don't have enough of them to make it an ongoing topic of discussion here on the blog. And even if I did, I wouldn't want to do that, because that's kinda boring, too.

So I'm not sure yet exactly what I'm going to do about the situation, but I hereby vow to try to mix it up a little more, at least. Increased frequency! Wider topic range! Eggheadier! And a little more of me in it, for better or worse.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More new brooches, this time with layers and adjuncts.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I'd like to offer a warm welcome to the latest gallery to carry my work, Artswork in LeClaire, Iowa. They'll be carrying a nice selection of my mosaic earrings, calligraphed initial necklaces, wabi-sabi pieces, and more. Plus, they have a (very cute) gallery cat! Welcome aboard, Artswork!

221 N Cody Road
LeClaire, IA 52753
(563) 289-3316

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New brooches

After a long period when I did not make any pins or brooches at all, I've finally discovered a way to make them work. The problem I had had with them previously was that a) pre-fab pin backs are mostly pretty ugly and more importantly b) pin backs glued to paper can pull off very easily, no matter what kind of glue you use. They just pull off, taking as much paper as necessary with them. Now armed with the techniques I've developed for making my wabi-sabi pieces, I find that a handwrought pin back looks very sharp (no pun intended) and isn't going anywhere once embedded in resin. Success! Here are the closeups of these first three brooches (the third picture is incorrectably sideways, thanks to glitchy Blogger), followed by a picture of the back with my hammered sterling pinback integrated with resin.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I'm working on dyeing papers in fall colors now (I know! Fall!), and for inspiration stopped in at fashiontrendsetter. Now, I know it's hard to talk at length and intelligently about something like a color palette. I understand that. For me, color choice is such a non-verbal process, I wouldn't want the job of having to write about it. I would probably get so far as, "I thought these looked nice together", and that would be that. Not a whole lot of story or romance there, I admit. And yet I contend that sometimes, less is more. When reading the designers' descriptions of their color palattes, my Nonsense-o-meter was lighting up, spinning and beeping. I swear, if I hadn't taken the batteries out, it would have gone up in a kerpoof of smoke and sensible outrage right there and then.

For example, here we read, among other things, that "the interaction of functional blues and structured browns open out onto turbulent explorations that burst forth in stormy alchemies." And then it continues, "Casual colors reflect the style of mixed technologies. Juicy orange tones, drunken scarlets, and neutral nuances combine in dangerous relation."

"Dangerous", sure. Last time I wore red and grey together I was nearly attacked by wasps wanting to oviposit on my hemline. Beware, gentle wearer of clothes!

Also, dear fashion designers, you really should know the difference between a palette, a pallet, and a palate. Jus' sayin'.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Another torn paper necklace, in bluegreen and silver. I got a nice shot of the back-- people tend to ignore the backs of things, but I think it's important to make the back as beautiful and interesting as possible. I love it when someone browsing in my booth turns a piece over out of curiousity to see how it's made, and then exclaims over how lovely even the reverse is. It always takes them by surprise. Sometimes pieces have become flipped around by accident and no one even notices that it's not the front....

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The 3/50 Project

Click on the link above for all the details, but here's the summary:

It's a simple idea...pick three locally-owned businesses you'd hate to see close their doors, and stop in, say hello, and buy something. Commit to spending $50 a month at locally owned businesses. Go out to eat at a locally owned restaurant instead of a chain. Head to a locally owned gift shop to buy your birthday cards (and gifts!) instead of giving your money to the chain store in the mall....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Blank book bracelet

Lately I haven't been doing as much with text on jewelry as I'd like-- (been working with texture, rather than text) but don't think I've forgotten about it! Oh, no, I have not. The other day I was thinking about my ambitions with respect to worn text, and it occurred to me that if one were to do a small but very long book in coptic stitch binding, using Keith Smith's method of sewing single sheets, one might could make an interesting bracelet.
So here we have the prototype in progress. It's just under 2 inches long now, 63 pages. Only 5 1/2 inches to go! It takes about an hour per inch using cardstock and waxed linen thread. That gives me a lot of time yet to design a decent clasp. The purpose of this is to make an interesting art piece, rather than a functional item for everyday wear. So none of that, "But how will it hold up?" nonsense. That's not the point. Think of it as sculpture, not wardrobe. And true, there's still no text on there-- I just wanted to see if the idea will work, so nothin fancy. I'll use this one as a blank book once I'm done-- a very portable idea notebook/ conversation piece!

If I can figure out how to get this to work in general, I'll try doing it with a thicker thread and resin-protected pages. If I make the pages the same thickness as what I use for many of my other jewelry pieces, not only will it be sturdier, but it'll be a lot quicker coming together, too (at least during the seweing portion of the construction).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The sun cooperated a bit more today, so here is the promised photo! It's a rather more delicate-looking piece than others I've done up until now-- the length of the paper piece is about 3/4 inch. I'll definitely be making more of these...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I finished a sample of a new style of necklace I'll be introducing this fall, but it's too dark today with the rain and all to photograph it! Hang tight, next sunny day we get I'll put it up, I promise.

In other news, I was googling around yesterday for "bad calligraphy" (why? It's related to another project I'm working on, don't ask how). Sadly, despite the pervasive presence of bad calligraphy in the world, there wasn't much out there on the web. Lots and lots for bad kanji or bad Chinese calligraphy (often on tattoos, so sad), some hits for Arabic calligraphy, but very little for Roman script (with the exception of this. That's the spirit!). Why? We should call out the bad calligraphers in the world. Well, perhaps not the calligraphers themselves, bless their hearts, but the shoddy lettering. "This," we should say to the world, "is not how it's done." If the web can support sites dedicated to bad cakes and punctuation errors, then by golly, there should be a place for ridiculing bad calligraphy. Jus' sayin'.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


A new pendant I've just added to the storefront...I'm calling it "Sunset" for obvious reasons. It's 1 inch in diameter. 14k gold-filled wire bail. The back is also very pretty-- could be reversible if you're so inclined! Comes on an 18 inch adjustable length cotton cord necklace.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Results of my latest dyeing adventures. These colors make me want to do backflips of joy.

A nice transition from purple to gold (see the purple in the lower left below?)...hard to get because of the weird muddy grey that results if the colors mix too much.

I've already started turning this paper into pendants. Stay tuned for the results.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Okay, this post has very little to do with art or jewelry making, but here's the tie-in: every second Saturday I do an art show at the Bloomington farmer's market. No show today, but I went to the farmer's market anyway (as I do religiously during the season). That's all, that's the tie-in. Now I will talk about produce.

The farmer's market induces in me a sort of mania. I go to the market and find myself salivating and circling like a starving shark. However much money I have on me, I spend. I have developed a market shopping strategy that has the down side of causing me to wander around the market much longer than strictly necessary but results in me buying the best available versions of my top-priority items: first I wander around to see what's available, then I decide what are the must-haves and which are would-likes. Then I go back around and buy the best version of the must-haves, then do another circuit to pick up some lower priority items. Then I count my money, and do another round if possible. I always end up with some regrets at things not purchased; in particular, items that are plentiful and just coming into season will lose out to more ephemeral veggies. And I always seem to regret not buying more tomatoes.

This week, I scored corn (first corn of the season! It wasn't there last week), blueberries, peaches, a small cabbage, an onion, and some tomatoes. Regretfully passed on the fresh basil, black raspberries, blackberries, fresh currants (probably should have gotten those, I don't see them very often), and those tiny purple and white striped eggplants. There will be time for eggplants later, I reasoned. Eggplant is only beginning to come into its own.

Oh, and just a note about a peculiar phenomena puzzling to those new to the Bloomington market: you will notice a very long line for one vendor, and will wonder, "why are all these people standing in line in the hot sun?". The answer is: corn. The next question will be, "is the corn really THAT good?" The answer is: yes. Now get in the line. Seriously. It took me a couple of years to work up the curiousity to stand in line and see what all the fuss was about; now I won't buy my corn anywhere else, and somewhat regret those wasted years of second-best corn.

Ok, I suppose I've illustrated my summer produce mania all too well.... My next art show at the market is July 11, so come on out and make sure to get there with plenty of time to stand in the corn line!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I've finally added a pair of the purple Amara Collection earrings to the storefront! The paper beads are 1 inch in diameter, so from top of the ear wire to the bottom of the spiral, they measure a little over 2 inches long. Nice handmade 18 gauge ear wires, all in sterling silver. I think the purple was indeed just what the collection needed to jazz it up a little.