Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Home Making MIxed Metal Jewels

Our two spring fairs are done and were both very successful for us as well as pleasant and easy. A big thank you to both Chico and Los Altos. We've taken some time of from making jewelry as I was getting ready for one of my book sales in Caspar as well as organizing the annual flea market at the community center there. All went well but I'm glad my life is a little simpler now. We started working in the jewelry studio again tonight and will be focusing on making jewels in the upcoming weeks before our two summer shows in Mendocino in July. I hope to be making bracelets soon as I have a number of people interested in them. You might think that I'm in charge of what I make but that's not exactly the way it is for me. I sit down at my bench and it sort of happens to me as much as me deciding what to make. So far this year it has been mostly pendants with a few rings but I think I feel bracelets coming. I've found that if I try to force things to happen the work doesn't go as well. If I just sit down and let my hands start making what they want I find that I make better pieces, I'm happier, I'm healthier and I make more money. Well, that seems like a winning combination of factors to me. It's also true that I can always sit down and make beautiful jewels that sell well but I'm not always creative, which is trying new things and jumping into new and uncharted territory. Creativity is not something I can turn off and on with a switch, I can only try to be ready for it when it comes and practice certain things that help it arrive. When it comes it's kind of electric and exciting and ignites my passion and sometimes leads me into really interesting new areas of work.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mixed Metal Jewels from our New Studio

It took us longer than anticipated to get our new studio workshop set up and running in our new house in Ft. Bragg. It's been so long since we had moved that we forgot what a substantial effort was required to do it. Now we are comfortably working in the studio and enjoying our new living place and being in town for a change.
Our spring show schedule has a very big change in that we are taking a year off from the Whole Earth Festival this year after having participated for the last 37 years consecutively. We enjoy Whole Earth and usually do well there but it's a very energy intensive event to do, so, after all the work of the move and setting up the new studio we decided to take a vacation from it for this year. We will be back in Davis at the art center holiday fair in December and in Sacramento in November. More details coming on our show schedule page.

We've been walking a lot in Ft. Bragg and have been exploring the alleys of which there are many. I've been taking pictures of things I find interesting and have posted some on my picture blog at www.floweringpixels.blogspot.com Another nice thing about having a larger space in this house is that I have a permanent space set up for taking jewelry pictures so I hope to post more of those in the near future.

Friday, March 7, 2014

In Our New Home

 I haven't posted in a while because after living in the same house in Caspar for 17 years, we have moved about 10 miles north into the coastal town of Ft. Bragg. Quite a change in some ways but mostly ones that we like. We have a lot more space in the new house, so if I can resist the temptation to fill it up with stuff, it's good. I was amazed at how much stuff I had collected in 17 years in the Caspar house. WOW. And I had to move it all. Thinning out though, as part of the process, 20 boxes of stuff have gone to the thrift store or the dump. We like being able to
walk to things we had to drive to before, the post office, hardware store, yoga class, food stores, movie theater AND the ocean. I took these pictures today at glass beach which is about a 12 minute walk. It was so pleasant sitting in the sun. A harbor seal crawled out of the ocean to the rocks just to the right of Carlie and a giant V of 60 or so geese flew by overhead while we were there. Crabs, sea gulls, cormorants in abundance of course. I got our new jewelry studio set up and functioning

a few days ago and we are starting the process of making new mixed metal jewels. I'll be posting pictures of some of them soon. We don't start doing art shows until May this year so have a little time to play and be creative. We'll see what comes from our hands and minds. I'm excited also because I have a very large room upstairs that I'm setting up for a drawing/painting/collage work studio as well as a book sorting/working room for that side of my life. Will post our upcoming show schedule soon.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mixed Metal Jewels in Chico

For the 34th year we are in Chico for our annual selling visit to the Bah! Humbug Festival of Crafts. This year we are at the Senator Theater on Main Street. The last time we were at this location was in the year 2000 and we had a very successful show that year. We probably have the best selection of mixed metal jewels that we have ever had at this show, that's what happens when you cut way back on the number of shows that you do but keep making the same amount of jewelry. We are happy to report that we had a good first day at the fair, a number of our regular longtime customers came to see us and many left the fair with a new mixed metal jewel to enjoy.
We are looking forward to day two and the rest of the fair.

Over the many years we have participated in the Bah! Humbug Festival it has been in many different locations in Chico but because of our almost 40 years of satisfied customers in the area we have always done very well. A great number of our jewels are being worn and enjoyed in Chico.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Our Newest Mixed Metal Jewels

 This is recent work, most of which we will have at the Mendocino Art Center's fair on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. A couple of these pieces were sold at the Sacramento Arts Festival.
I just finished taking pictures of all of the pieces to the right here a couple of hours ago. We will have all of these new pieces and more at the Mendocino fair. As you can see, we have been setting a lot of pieces of abalone, probably more than we ever have. It is such a special material. We are enjoying finding other stones that go with it in jewels. The multi colored iridescense in the abalone shell has a multitude of colors in it that blends with other stone colors.

Friday, November 1, 2013

After Day One of the Sacramento Arts Festival

We've just finished the first day of the Sacramento Arts Festival and had a successful and full day.
Lots of people who appreciate our work came to visit and a goodly number of them took new jewels home to enjoy. The show opened at 10am and by 10:04 we had a small crowd around our booth. A couple of fellow artists told me that there were more people there than in the rest of the show at that time. I can understand wanting to come early to see all of our new stuff because pieces start finding homes pretty fast. That is why at many of our shows the first day is often our best day. We're at our motel now, winding down, hoping to get a good night's sleep so we can be ready to do it again tomorrow.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Floating after day one of the Kings Mountain Fair

It's the evening after the first day of the Kings Mountain art fair. It was a pretty amazing day, the weather was just about as close to perfect as it could possibly have been. We saw a great many of our friends and customers from our many years of selling our work at this show and we broke all of our one day sales records for almost 45 years of
participating in arts and crafts fairs. I'm kind of floating at the moment. Hope to get a good nights sleep and go up the hill and see what happens tomorrow.

To the left are some of the jewels that we've just finished and I photographed on Thursday evening. I think we still have all but two of these items.

Friday, August 30, 2013

In the Bay Area

 At the moment I'm resting at the motel in Palo Alto where we are spending the night after setting up our display up in the redwoods on Skyline Blvd. where the Kings Mountain Art Fair starts in the morning. I'm posting the images that I sent out to my customers in the area a few days ago of work we will have at the fair. I spent a couple of hours last night taking pictures of all of our even newer stuff but I'm too tired tonight to process those images and get them ready for the web. Hopefully I'll be able to do that tomorrow night after the show and will get them up on the blog and hopefully report that we had a great sales day at the fair tomorrow.
We hope that you have a chance to come by and
see us at the fair, it runs through Monday and, for the most part it looks like good weather. It was very pleasant when we were setting up our booth between 6 and 8 pm.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Making Abalone Jewelry

 It's hard to remember when I first used abalone pieces in jewelry but I think it must have been in the early 1970's. I remember buying some polished small cabochons at a bead store somewhere in downtown Los Angeles at about that time. And at the same time some that were called Korean abalone. They were pretty interesting although I think now that they were probably dyed. They were darker than ordinary abalone and had a lot of purple. I think the first time I ever saw abalone shell it was inlaid in some wooden boxes that my dad brought back from Korea where he was stationed in the army in the late 1940's. So anyway, sometime in the early 70's I started setting abalone cabochons in simple jewelry designs. I have never stopped doing that. What has changed is that now, for the most part, I only use abalone pieces that I have found here at the ocean around the Mendocino area where I live. In the picture to the right are two images of a typical haul from two different

 trips to the ocean to find pieces. After hunting for it up and down the coast, the most consistently productive place for  finding pieces that I want to use in jewelry is less than half a mile from downtown Mendocino on the headlands. I never go there without finding a double handful of useful pieces that have been tumbled, shaped and smoothed by the ocean waves and sand. Quite often I use them just as I find them, only polishing them to bring out the pattern and color. At other times I change them buy cutting them with a diamond saw and shaping them with diamond grinding and sanding wheels. Carlie uses many of the pieces that I cut and polish and sometimes cuts and polishes her own shapes.
 As you can see in the collages I created here using images of pieces that we've made over the last 30 years, we've used them in a lot of different design ways and I expect that will continue to the very end of our jewelry making life.

Sometimes I think to myself that by now I must have seen every possible variation of color and pattern of abalone but then, the next time I visit that special place at the ocean, I find something that is new, a variation I've not seen before.

If you ever decide to work with abalone, be careful if you grind or sand it. The dust can be very dangerous to get into your lungs. I only grind and sand it on wheels that get a constant stream of water to minimize dust, I do it outside my studio, I wear a good dust mask and I do it in moderation.
I've found that the best time to look is a little while after the tide has turned and is starting to come back in. Each time the waves rush in they expose new pieces of shell. I run back and forth with the waves trying, usually without success, not to get my shoes wet. Sometimes I'll be driving to Mendocino from where I live and I'll just have an intense urge to stop and look for abalone pieces. It's always a treat.
I'll pick up a lot of pieces and bring them all home and put them in a big pan of water so I can really see how they will looked when polished. After several days of evaluating, I'll pick the ones that have jewelry potential and put the others in the paths that surround the house and lead back to our workshop. They look especially beautiful on rainy days when they sparkle.