Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stone Soup Challenge update

As promised, I want to share with you the lovely items I've bought from other artists as part of the Stone Soup Challenge.

First of all, I found this sweet little mouse ACEO by Melody Lea Lamb:

The mouse was the perfect gift for a dear friend from college. It's a long story that involves me rescuing a couple of mice from becoming a snake snack at a pet store while little kids looked on and then giving them — truthfully, dumping them on — my best friend, sneakily, while she was out of her room. Ummm... They multiplied. And I keep sending her reminders all these years later. I still wish I could have seen her face when she walked in and saw the cage sitting on her bed, but I'm really glad I wasn't there.

My friend was delighted by the ACEO and reports that Melody Lea made her feel special by enclosing several extras with it. I know that she has been a dream to communicate with, and I'm enchanted by the way she captures the essence of the little animals and birds she paints. Please take a few minutes to visit her store. Bet you'll find something you like.

Next, I fell in love with these lampwork beads by Art by Lisi

This is her "Tropico" colorway, and the breezy island colors beckoned to me while we still had tons of snow on the ground and freezing temps. I have a special plan for these beads and will show you later.

Lisi's beads are like candy: I want more and more. I'm sure I'll be a regular customer. She makes most of them to order, but it's well worth the short wait, and you know you're getting special attention, so please browse her shop. I know you'll find your own "gotta have" colors there.

On the "buy local" front, I first met Abby and Bo Coffell of Entwined Designs at a holiday show last year. Bo makes lampwork beads, and Abby turns them into gorgeous jewelry — and has begun experimenting with metalsmithing, as well. Abby is becoming a good friend, and I'm looking forward to purchasing beads from them.

And finally, I did a bit of bartering at Saturday's show. I've admired Vladimir Zhikartsev's work for years. I first became aware of him through the World Ice Art Championships held in Fairbanks every March: He's one of the top carvers with many awards under his belt, including the 2009 team 1st Place and People's Choice award in the abstract multiblock category for this piece

Besides being a world-class sculptor, Vladimir is also an accomplished painter, and I've been lusting after his work for quite some time. So when he offered to barter, I jumped at the chance to trade jewelry for prints. I chose two gorgeous framed pieces — this Birch Tree and another piece called Shallow Water. And in return, I'm flattered to say my jewelry will be headed to Russia as gifts for his family and friends.

Next I'm planning to purchase more beads from Deborah Gregory of Sweetwater Designs. She's offering a "buy one, get one" sale in her Etsy shop until May 1, so hurry over and snap up some of her gorgeousness before it's all gone.

Whew. Now I'm headed into Fairbanks to deliver some jewelry to New Horizons and the Artworks. [Edit: Didn't make it to Artworks; hope to get there Friday.] I plan to mail a package to Portfolio in Anchorage on Thursday, and I will have photos of new work up soon. It's easier now that we have all this glorious daylight!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Red Alert: EAFB bazaar is closed to general public!

After inviting the world to visit my booth at the Spring Break-Up Bazaar on Eielson Air Force Base tomorrow, I've just now been informed that the military powers that be have changed their minds and closed the bazaar to the general public. Only DoD personnel and families will be allowed inside the gate.

So, if you're not DoD, please don't make the drive. 

And I apologize most profusely for the confusion. Unfortunately, the bazaar organizers have done a poor job of informing vendors about changes, and I would not have known this had I not contacted them about something entirely different. Needless to say, finding out on the day before the bazaar when I've been advertising it since February is a huge problem.

If you were planning to go, especially to visit my booth, I hope you will visit one of the galleries and shops that have my jewelry — or get in touch with me. If you're in the area, I'll be happy to arrange a private showing; if not, I'm also happy to send photos of my jewelry.

I'm very disappointed about this, but there will be other opportunities. The Girdwood Forest Fair is the weekend of July 4th, and I'm looking for other events between now and then.

Hope to see and/or hear from lots of you soon.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The missing link

You know, I know that I'm an exceedingly lucky person. I love what I do, and I love where I do it. Even after living in Alaska for 14 1/2 years, I am still facinated by its utter difference from Georgia, where I grew up, and I know there are few other places in the world where I might encounter lynx or bears or moose on my own property. The Aurora Borealis still stops me in my tracks — freezing or not — and the Midnight Sun still gives me a huge energy boost.

Of all the "jobs" I've had — from newspaper reporting to state government work to selling office furniture to providing respite care for elders — making jewelry is what I choose to do for the rest of my life. I can't imagine ever growing tired of it or disliking it or wanting to give it up.

Still, I sometimes feel there's something missing.

And this year, I've finally realized what that missing link is. It's you!

I spend almost all my time alone, which does suit me. I like quiet — or I like cranking up the Talking Heads or B52s on the stereo. (Egads, I just dated myself. Most of you will have no clue who those bands are.)

You've heard the phrase "spark of creativity." Well, it's hard to create a spark in a vacuum.

At the new year, I decided I wanted to break out of my shell a little bit and work on developing new relationships. And like magic, as soon as I made the decision, opportunities began coming my way. (The blog has helped a lot.)

I'm thrilled to have made new connections with people who've bought my jewelry, with people who've admired my jewelry, with other artists and artisans. I've got a great email correspondence going with a couple of you, I've spoken with several of you on the telephone, and I've met more than a handful of you for coffee and conversation. One of you generously offered to help me make a banner for the blog (which is progressing beautifully), and someone else is considering photographing my jewelry on live models.

And to a person, you have inspired me. You've given me new ideas and suggestions, you've asked me for a special piece for a special occasion, you've shared your reactions to my work and even pushed me to try something different. Every time I meet one of you — whether in person or by email or on the phone — I come away with renewed energy, eager to get to the bench and make something new.

Thank you!

This Saturday (the 25th) I hope I'll meet lots more of you at the Spring Break-Up Bazaar on Eielson Air Force Base. If you're in Fairbanks, it might seem like a long way to drive, but hey: It's gorgeous out there, and all of us artists are finally stirring from the winter doldrums, brimming with enthusiasm and creative spark. Please stop by my booth and say hello!

If you're nowhere near Eielson, how about Homer or Denali or Anchorage? I recently sent a small shipment to Fireweed Gallery; I'm working on the first order of the season for the Magic Carpet at Denali (opening in mid-May); and I'll be sending a package off to Portfolio in Anchorage next week (after a bit of a hiatus, so this is particularly exciting).

If you're nowhere near Alaska, I've got some ideas percolating in my head that should come to fruition after the bazaar, and I'll be taking photos and writing about them here. You can always get in touch if you see something you like. Please do! Because I've just realized how much I need you all.

Here's a hint of one of the new things: A couple of weeks ago I picked up a book on metal embossing techniques, and I was so enchanted with it that I started looking on-line for some embossing tools. I almost decided not to fiddle with it because the new tools seemed expensive, but how's this for serendipity: I found a set of antique Japanese (I think) embossing tools in a lovely case on eBay and got them for a song. Here they are:

After this week, I hope I'll have time to play with them. My ideas about how to incorporate embossing into my jewelry are a bit hazy at the moment, but the seeds are there, and I can't wait to see what blossoms.

Happy Spring!

(P.S. Wow... It's been a month since I posted, and I have a lot more to share. So next time, look for an update on my purchases for the Stone Soup Challenge, plus a couple of new designs.)