Sunday, July 3, 2011

Consider your purchasing power every day - it matters!

How do you make your local economy healthier?

Do you buy from the big box stores or from local businesses?
Do you buy your fruits and vegetables from Safeway or from the farmers' market?
It may mean going to the hair salon owned by your neighbor.
Or buying a pair of earrings from a friend.
Or buying a wedding present from a local artisan.
Consider the impact of your every-day purchasing decisions!

- Harriette Estelle Berman, visual artist, writer, and small business guru
Lone Flower 2

I don't pretend to know how my creative process works at this point. Even after years of working in metal, doodling, experimenting, I'm just never quite sure when inspiration will strike or when I'll hit a frustrating dry spell. What I do know, however, is to be super grateful when a new idea really takes root - embrace it, bask in it, and, above all, make it happen. 

I hadn't really given much though to enamel in my work, mostly because it doesn't work well with sterling silver. Then silver hit $35/ounce and cheaper materials like copper started looking better and better. But how to make copper into interesting art? Oh yea, enamel! And how to make enamel more interesting than a bright and shiny 2-D glass-coated metal object such as the hoaky cliche Etsy-inspired sparrow? Oh yea, build up! And texture, and fuse, and over-fire, and...Suddenly enamel's not looking so boring.

The new series I'm developing glues metal to metal with heat and glass (like my perennial favorite, soldering - gluing metal to metal with heat and more metal). I'm playing with the way copper leeches into white enamels, and how bare metal darkens and creates contrast against lighter colors. 

But beyond the technical details, the important thing is that this is the first new work I've conceived in almost 2 years. Not that I don't still enjoy my other series, but a creative career needs innovation and reinvention on a fairly regular basis. Because I struggle with actually sitting down to intentionally do this, it is a huge relief when inspiration finds me. I'm invigorated, excited, to see where this goes, and grateful for the muses that pushed me to this new place.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Workin' on it - excerpts from the studio

Silver scrap
The hammering stump

Working the ingot
Bracelets in progress

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Stuff that amuses me

 OMG - yet another reason I love bamboo!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Where do we go from here?

So, Indulge, my first ever invitational museum show...While overwhelming, the whole experience felt so important to my career, and not just because it was like a shot of PEDs in the arm of my artist resume. I also learned a lot, more than at any other show, in fact, about my work, my presentation, and about playing in the big leagues.

Primary lesson? I need to focus. In all aspects of my work. For starters, I need branding - a font, logo, and business cards. People need to see my name so they don't have to ask me. Repeatedly. An eye-catching banner than can be seen across a crowded exhibition room that screams, 'Come see me! I am art worth knowing!' I have some large pictures, and that always helps reel 'em in, but without specific, identifying information, they're just pretty pictures.

I also need to focus in my pieces. Building a body of work around a technique does not cohesion create. Just because I fabricate in silver and imbed with polymer does not mean that a cabernet and lime-colored pendant can sit next to off-white, black, and red earrings next to a copper and purple brooch (think Sesame Street - 'One of these things is not like the others, one of these things does not belong...'). Looking at the other art jewelers in the show, I could clearly see how they'd each taken an idea and expanded on it completely, in as many ways as they could imagine, while still maintaining a common theme.

Finally, I need focus in my display. Showing up with some table cloths, 5 acrylic risers, fabric swatches, and a couple of boxes is an excellent way to ensure my display ends up a hodge podge of height and space. Combined with my wide array of work styles, the result is just a messy cluttered table. Instead, display items need to be constructed of the same 2 or 3 materials, built to matching heights, and take into consideration the work being presented. Displays shouldn't be distracting, they should be complimentary and uniform, supporting the jewelry, not distracting from it.

When I first accepted the invitation to Indulge I was scared, but in hind sight I am so grateful for the experience. My bar is permanently raised and my marching orders are clear. Next time I'll be ready to bring the new and improved version of myself and my jewelry that is comfortable in those big art leagues.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Widespread (Studio) Panic

Ah! 8 days until my show! Ah! I haven't made any earrings yet (my best sellers)! Ah! I haven't even thought about my display! Ah! I'm out of business cards! Ah! My house is a mess! Ah! I need to do laundry! Ah! Ah! Ah!
I have a full-blown case of show panic.
Show panic (SP) is what sets in about a week before I do a show, the voice that says, "What the hell were you thinking?!? You're not ready for this, you have SO much to do! How is it all going to come together? Maybe you should bag out..." It's this horrible fear that my whole professional reputation being on the line with one show and that my financial success at said show is directly related to how much saleable stuff I'm able to produce for it, and that if I fail even slightly I will end up on the street. Seriously.
Yet it all comes together somehow. Fortunately, my bouts of SP are getting shorter and shorter. I think that, in part, this is because my work is now more cohesive. The pieces flow together and inspire different variations on the same themes. Not only is this helpful for building an inventory, it makes the idea of displays less intimidating. Instead of trying to match disparate items, I can put an entire series in one part of my booth, and another series elsewhere, organizing them into the families of metal and mixed media to which they belong. In other words, bodies of work instead of a jewelry rummage sale.
But this speaks to a larger issue of confidence, of finding my own creative voice in this vast and wonderous medium. It's a reassuring feeling to have parameters, to have designs that are mine, that work, that are a joy to create, that people genuinely seem to like. My creative voice is now stronger and less afraid of appearing in public. Now, about that housecleaning...