Monthly Archives: April 2012

My first challenge from SueBeads

When Sue Kennedy posted a challenge on her blog last week, I thought, “Sure, I’ll add my name!” and I crossed my fingers to be picked. I check quite a few beady blogs every day and the generous jewelry designers who write these posts often have giveaways or challenges. Leave a comment on the site and your name goes into the hat for a chance to participate. In the case of a challenge, those who are picked come up with a design using the chosen beads and then post a photo of their piece and the links to the blogs of the other lucky participants. It’s known as a blog hop.

Hmmm…..earrings, necklace or bracelet? I’m still mulling it over while I work on other deadlines. The reveal for this challenge is May 26.

Thanks Sue!       I love Sue”s beads. You can check out her amazing stuff for yourself at her Etsy shop.


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SOFA and my favorite bits

After spending not enough time with my friend Holly in her Connecticut studio, I went on to Rye, NY to see my friend Susie.  We spent Friday catching up with each other and visiting some of our favorite places on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx; which include Vincent’s Meat Market for lamb sausage and Casa Della Mozzarella, where there is always a line but who cares? The fresh mozzarella is worth the wait!

On Saturday we drove into the city to attend the 15th New York SOFA exhibition at the Park Avenue Armory. SOFA stands for Sculpture Objects & Functional Art. What a collection! A feast for the eyes!  Some of it puzzling and some of it awe-inspiring. It was hard to take it all in. There were two artists whose work really stood out for me. One was a woman named Sue Lawty. From a distance her pieces looked like large paintings made with small gray dots. Nice, even soothing maybe, but not so spectacular at first. Then Susie said, “These are all tiny rocks!”

Calculus, 2010     natural stones on gesso           78.75; x 118

I took a closer look at her work from several angles. Fascinating! (And, in case you don’t read more about Sue from the link above, you should at least know that “calculus” is Latin for “small stone.”)

The other work I really liked was by a glass artist named Steffen Dam.

The shapes, colors and translucence were a perfect follow-up to inspire more polymer clay experiments. I could have looked at his pieces for a long time.  Though I took very few photos, I can look  through the images of sold art on the SOFA site to be reminded of many of the pieces I saw and liked, and of several  I could not imagine anyone buying! There was a lot of interesting jewelry, too,  but strangely no photos of the pieces that were sold.

I had a great trip. On the way home I spent the night with my son Fritz and his girlfriend Meg and their dog Rocky, in Portland. After stopping to stock up at Trader Joe’s, picking up some fish for dinner in Ellsworth, and dropping off a new orchid plant during a brief visit with my mom, I made it back home on Tuesday’s  3:30 boat.

I love going away, seeing good friends, and doing different things, but coming back to my home on the island is the best part of any trip.


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Beads took a back seat…

Where to start?  There were so many possibilities, it was hard to decide which direction to take. I really thought I was going to make some hollow  beads, but I lost interest quickly. Fortunately the translucent polymer clay needed to be conditioned and colored, and the mindless task of running it through the pasta machines opened our minds to using some copper wire as a form for the clay.

Holly worked with circles.

I went for leaf shapes.

Holly’s daughter, Maia, joined us and inspired us with some of her own ideas.

Neither of us knew that leaving an edge of clay around the wire was called a “shadow cut,” until Maia told us. Her design of the tiny beads inside the wire, with a shadow of  clay around the outside, was my favorite of the day.

Of course the day ended too soon, even though we worked into the night. We’ve taken workshops together, but this is the first time Holly and I have been together, in one of our studios,  just to bounce ideas off each other. We had a blast. We each ended up with some ideas about translucent polymer clay that we’ll continue to explore. Thank you my friend! I can’t wait to see what you make next. My own explorations will have to wait until after my visit with Susie in N.Y.


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Clever cats and the polymer play date

With just one day to spend together, Holly and I weren’t quite sure what we would do in her studio. We knew it would involve using translucent polymer clay, since we each wanted to try some bead ideas. We looked through a few books after dinner on Wednesday, and dreamed about polymer components for necklaces and earrings.

Holly’s cats, Cocoa and Yeti, know how to open the door to her studio by reaching up and hanging onto the door handle to pull it down. So far they can only do this while standing on the floor. They are deterred by the stool. For now, they can’t figure out how to open the door from a higher perch.

Something tells me they won’t take too long to figure it out…


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“Now, don’t get all in a swivet”

Well, I did. Yesterday. As I was trying to get some pieces together to drop off at the Center for Maine Craft in Gardiner, on April 18 when I travel south to see my friend Holly in Connecticut and Susie in New York.

I  went through a jury process 2 years ago at the CMC and was told I was accepted. I was also told they had plenty of jewelry on hand and that they would get back to me when they had an open space.  After a while of not hearing from them, I put it out of my mind. A  few weeks ago I was contacted by the manager and told that I could bring work in if I was still interested.  (Of course I am!)  They wanted it there by May 1, in time for Mother’s Day shopping. Could I bring a selection in sooner so they could choose what to display? It all seemed to fit well with my travel plans, but could I get enough work done in such a short time?

I thought so. As the week ended I planned to do my pricing on Sunday.  I started to gather my finished work. Some of it was very recent and some was made earlier this winter.  I tried to get organized and I started to panic.

I was already thinking ahead to the next deadline after Wednesday. I needed to finish up work for another gallery by the first week in May. I was going to be gone from April 18 to 24. I needed to visit my mother before I left. I needed to visit her again soon after I got home. I had a writing deadline on May 5. My brother and nephew were planning to arrive for a few days on May 4. When could I get more work done? Maybe I shouldn’t go away? Why do I have so much trouble focusing? What if the manager hates my work? Why didn’t I use my time to make more of A , B or C instead of D? Self doubt was pouring down on me…and then I heard words my father used to say, “Now, don’t get all in a swivet.”

My dad has been gone for almost 17 years, and while I hold so many memories of him, I have not thought of that phrase since I heard him say it to me as a child. I even looked up the word, swivet, to see if it really was a word or one that he had created. Yes, it’s a word and it describes exactly what I was in. I remembered advice from a friend long ago, a suggestion to follow when I felt overwhelmed by work.  “Start where you are and do what you can.”

I wrote down the name of every outlet I had for selling my jewelry. I took all of the trays of work I had; including the one where I toss work to be taken apart so I can use the pieces differently, including those pieces I have already photographed for Etsy and have yet to put up in my shop, including the new work I had finished for CMC. I sorted it all. Which doesn’t look like much, but for me it was a huge step. I polished pieces and bagged each one separately with it’s own anti tarnish paper.

I did not have as much work as I thought I had for the CMC, but I had 30 pieces to price and pack up. The display space is only 12″ by12″ so that is more than enough to start with.

I was also able to set aside pieces for the next gallery deadline in early May. It’s enough to give me a head start and a clear focus on what I need to do when I get back from New York.

When I was done, I found I had the energy and inclination to clean out my freezer, another task I had put off for far too long!

Note to self: How about a label next time?  (I could not determine what this was.)

Second note to self: Don’t bother taking other people’s leftover hot dogs at the end of summer if you never eat hot dogs anyway.

Third note to self: Don’t get all in a swivet. Wear life like a loose garment.


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Hammered copper round 2…

…at the Ashley Bryan School. On Wednesday I went back for the follow up art class to work with the older students  (grades 4 through 8) to finish the pendants and charm necklaces they started 2 weeks ago. Before we got back to work I showed them an article I found, in a past Ornament magazine, about the American sculptor Alexander Calder .

The students gave a very satisfying “Ahhhh” of recognition between Calder’s pieces and the hammered wire spirals and wire wrapped pieces they were making. Technique and art appreciation rolled into one afternoon. Yes!

Everyone was happy with their work. You can’t ask for much more than that!

My participation in the class was the result of a request from Meg, one of the two 8th grade students. Thank you for asking, Meg. I had a really great time!

One of Meg’s finished pieces:

Instead of saying “cheese!” I asked the students to say…”Alexander Calder!”

Halfway through the afternoon, the older students switched rooms with the younger group, who had been in music class. These specials take place every Wednesday afternoon at the Ashley Bryan School on Islesford. This time I stayed to do a beaded elastic bracelet project with the younger students. (grades K through 3)

Serious workers! And beautiful results!

Our two-room island elementary school is the same school my husband attended as a child, and his father attended as a child. Our sons, now age 29, attended this school as well.  It is a pretty special school in a pretty special place. I never take living here for granted.


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Saturday night away felt like a whole weekend

I forgot to take any photos of our family get-together in Portland on Saturday night. It was Kelly’s (Bruce’s sister’s) big 50th birthday. Her mom Ann,  and 4 of her 5 siblings traveled to Portland to celebrate with her. Our son, Fritz, had to work on Saturday night, but his girlfriend Meg was able to join us. We spent a good bit of the late afternoon in the bar area of the Portland Harbor Hotel where a few of us were staying the night. Kelly met us there after finishing work at her store, Nomads. We all met again at Sonny’s for appetizers and then on to Ribollita for a fine Italian meal.

We met for brunch, on Sunday morning, at Kelly and Al’s house. Al had prepared a delicious spread of fresh fruit, blueberry muffins, fritatta, and bagels from her bakery, Scratch. Bruce and I finally got to see Fritz and meet our new grandpup, Rocky. (Bruce is not a fan of dogs, so he says Rocky can be my granddog.) Fritz says that Rocky is probably the closest we are going to get to a real grandchild any time soon!

Not only does Al make incredible bread to eat, she makes bread to use in her flower arrangements. I have to remember this trick.

I may not have any sisters, but I am compensated and blessed with wicked cool sisters-in-law!


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