Fish Fry

I look forward to summer a little more each year, I think.

Today it’s raining here in the Portland, OR area, and I kinda like it. Soon the rains will stop for a few months and things will heat up, and while summer is a wonderful time to enjoy the sun while surrounded by the greenery that the rain provides, it does mean watering the garden and turning on fans. Most folks here do not miss the rainy months, but there is something about the dripping lushness of the trees and world when it rains.

Plus, strawberries. It’s STRAWBERRY time and it only lasts literally a few weeks, for the best ones of the season. They are so fragile they can’t ship anywhere and are a completely different experience than the ones found usually in the supermarket. A container must be eaten the same day it is bought, so I usually buy one at least every other day and chow down until like that, they are gone until next year.

So fleeting. But maybe why they are so delicious, and perhaps summer is the same, so fleeting compared to the rainy months.

Anyway, the long days are great for good light in the studio, and I’m trying to get back to work in earnest. It’s been a hard month, as the last blog post alluded to, and things are slowly moving forward in life, as they always do. I have found it hard to settle in at the bench, I miss my shop cat, who was there with me most days. It is just so very QUIET, with no other soul there with me. I was avoiding the studio at first, but work demands I keep going.

It’s a bad idea to have one’s heart set on a specific show, or gallery, but I have for awhile. I’ve applied a few times and gotten rejected, and that’s something I expected. It is a HARD show to get in. My new strategy is to find a different kind of work to submit each year. And it involves… fish.

These are the first two, ever, that I have made. They are pretty small, less than an inch across. I have a long way to go with them before they look the way I want. And then, once they do, I need to sort out ways to incorporate them.

I am hoping to have a few decent ones to take to my Andy Cooperman class in July, which is about setting oddly shaped things.

So I expect a lot of fish to line up around here. I’m using enamels and powders with them, something new for me. I don’t have it all managed yet to keep things clean and not wasted, in terms of excess powders that are sifted over the glass but fall off the sides, etc. I also have to wear a mask while using them which looks very fetching indeed.

Would you wear jewelry with fish on it? Do you  have a soft spot for certain species? Salmon might do very well up around here, for example, but some folks enjoy the more domestic species like the two goldfish above.

With that, I have a lot of glass waiting for me to be set, incorporated, used. I  hope to do that with the next week or two. Show up, get it done. Back in the saddle. It’s kind of hard, but I’m working on it.

And I dream of the new bench companion. By summer’s end, a new furry cat fuzzball will be here, another rescue. My son wants another black one. If we can find a great personality, I’m agreeing with him.

Death and Art Therapy

I am much in need of some art therapy this week. The unexpected death of my deranged yet beloved cat has left me reeling, and I fled to the coast for healing.

It’s not a story I want to hash out in my art blog,  but it is a huge event in my life and has colored this past week, as it will for weeks to come. It’s unavoidable and I am just surfing on the pain and sadness, as life goes on, and joy slowly trickles back in. Art helps.

I spent a few hours at Alder House Glassblowing this morning just watching the glass move and flow. Glass always makes me feel better, it is such a wonder to watch what it can become. Pressure, heat, fire, stress… all shape it, the way life shapes us. All I know is it helped a bit. I am grateful to the art space  found at Alder House to watch… and feel.

This place has been in business for decades,  I think it is the oldest glassblowing shop on the coast. The years of work hang deep and rich in this place, and you can see it even in the tools. The edge of the bench, with the metal worn away from years and years of work… you can’t get to this shape without time, and mountains of work, which brings this bench, to me, to a state of beauty visible in the proof of years of creation.

I was the only one there for the first hour, and a few others trickled in over time.  It felt like time for me to leave at that point. Grief can be private or public, and while no one could look at me and know,  I was indeed grieving, even in the soothing happiness that glass gives me as I watch. It felt good. It felt like forward motion, but it wasn’t something I could continue to experience with a small crowd, but I also do so love watching people be amazed by glass. That part was good too, watching those less familiar with the medium be mesmerized by the material I love so much myself.

I bought a small piece when I left, that I hope to hang in the garden as a memory for my cat. It’s beautiful and will catch the light in a lovely way, but also is a sad piece, with a dollop of glass on the bottom that looks like a tear drop. There’s nothing else I can do but remember and love, and be gentle with myself as best I can. I have no alternative route around this.

Thank you, Alder House. You gave more than you were expecting to this morning. Art helps heal.

Hollow Form Pendants, Rose Cut Gemstones, oh my!

Hi everyone!

I really hope that this spring has been a time of joy for you. The world, at least here in America, is pretty tumultuous right now, and I am finding solace and calm in my immediate surroundings of friends, family, my pets, the flowers and trees coming into bloom, sunshine on my face.

It’s time to look towards summer almost, can you believe it?

I dropped off a lot of work at the Jennifer Sears Gallery in Lincoln City the other weekend, and hope to have a little more to bring out for them next weekend. And after that, I start working on website stuff, creating a method to sell directly through juiceglass.com. And getting a schedule together for that. All the while still creating, still making. Scheming.

A new seaside ring is almost complete.

 

I’m working on some new price points for my infrastructure collections. The hollow pieces have had great reception, but they are on the high end due to all the silver involved, so I am working on ways to make versions that aren’t as silver heavy and still delightful.

Also, I purchased my first gemstones ever! To set in my work! I am hoping to use them as accents to my glass “stones” to add extra sparkle and shine. This means they are fairly small, which makes them a challenge to set, but I am working on mastering it. I love the look of larger gemstones, but for now, I will keep them small for my work, so it’s not all crammed with gems and glass all over the place.

My son got on my glass torch for the first time! He did an excellent job and is showing interest in working with glass, which is delightful to me.  I love working on him with new things and if he wants to keep learning glass, I’m all for it. Maybe sometime he will try metalsmithing, too!

Wind Turbine pendant from the Infrastructure collection at Drift Creek Falls, OR. Renewable energy!

We are due a stretch of sunny days here in the Pacific Northwest, starting today, and I am looking very much forward to my morning coffee in the sun, a few moments of calm before digging into the work every day. I hope the sun is shining in your life as well, and I should have lots of information about buying my work online by midsummer, which isn’t that far away!

Can I take a breath?

Gathering of the Guilds is done for another year.

Phew.

It was fun! But it did have challenges for me this year.

 

Moving my booth to CMAG, the Creative Metal Arts Guild, was going to cause some steps backwards in my business, as far as the show was concerned. I had new people to introduce myself to, new procedures for guild workings and show flow to learn and figure out, and I had to present my work in a new way, and offer it within a different context from previous years. Plus, I’d lose people. They wouldn’t know where I went, or wouldn’t recognize me surrounded by metal work and higher end jewelry vs. the glass artists making dishes and bowls and clocks I used to be surrounded by.

In some ways, it was starting over. I have to regain my ground of loyal fans, to a degree. Not as much as if I was just starting out completely for the first time, but I have lost some momentum by switching it up. It will take time, years, probably, to regain a following like I had before, when it comes to this big show that I love.

But it’s just one venue, one show a year. So much room for growth and new venues, and new work to fill them! And when the show rolls around next year, things will look very different. Different price points, different types of work, different levels of complexity of work, and new skills, always adding to the toolbox. I’m eager to see where I am a year from now.

So now my hands and eyes and designs and work swing towards the summer. I’ve got a couple galleries to get to work to, and I need to start thinking about what comes next. What skills I want to add and what new visual components to my work. And I am eager to dig in.

And I’m so excited the days are longer, the trees are bursting into greens and the flowers are throwing their riots of colors around. And, a big deal here in the northwest… it’s almost STRAWBERRY TIME.

I can’t wait!

Metalsmith Adventure

I’ve done something this week that I haven’t in a long time, and something else that I had been talking/thinking about for a few years now. The two things coincided nicely in the second half of this week.

 

One: Having a solo adventure. It’s been awhile since I did any sort of small trip alone. Traveling with Grant, my partner, and/or  Derek, my son, is really fun. I look forward to when we go new places, kid-friendly, romantic, both, whichever! But traveling alone does have it’s own appeal. Stay where you want, eat where you want, stop for rest breaks whenever you want, fill the days with your own agenda.

And with Grant doing his own travel adventure to Baltimore this week, the timing was perfect. My son is with his dad for a few days in the middle of each week, and so the days and road were open… so I went to Bend, Oregon to visit my friend Jim.

Several years ago I met this guy sitting in a bar on the east side of Portland, just a gathering of friends of a friend of mine that I went to. I was just starting my glass journey, and he was a full-on metalsmith, making high end rings for couples and clients. We talked a little, and stayed in touch. He used to have his studio in Portland, and I visited a few times. The bench block and chasing hammer that I own were gifts from him that I still use.

Anyway, a few years ago, when my divorce was final and the coparenting relationship had settled into the new, amicable reality that  was the way our days went, Jim and I were talking, and he mentioned he had taken old jewelry of his and melted it into something new. I wasn’t ready at the time, both emotionally and from a knowledge perspective, but I kept the idea in my head.

And finally, that’s what my agenda is on this metalsmithing journey, both literally and figuratively. I’ve brought some rings, more than just my wedding ring, an old gold ring that housed the diamond that my wedding ring had in it, a gift from my Mom who didn’t wear the ring anymore. Together, with the diamond, which has been freed from its setting, and a couple new stones, something new will be created from something old. I hope that the piece honors its past, the relationship it came from, and brings the material into the hopeful, optimistic future, which now contains the most precious thing I have ever created in my life, which was only possible with that relationship: my son.

I melted the platinum yesterday, which was intense. Silver needs relatively low temps to melt, platinum must be taken to over 3000 degrees F.  Three Thousand.

After that, Jim showed me how to use his rolling mill with a motor, something new for me, to start turning it into raw stock wire. Today work will continue and I will get as much done as I can, before going home tomorrow. My hope is to get things at least to the point that I can finish them properly in my own studio at home, with my own experience.

Jim helped me think and take my ideas I had been mulling over for several weeks. A few choice comments and questions helped, as well as his prescribed walk along the Deschutes River, which I did for about an hour, thinking, feeling, being present. This project is exciting but it is intense. It’s hard to let go of things, let them have a new shape. It requires looking straight at what dream failed, and acknowledging once again one’s own shortcomings and failures, even when doing the best one can, sometimes it isn’t enough to make a hope hold. But that’s life, and if you are always trying, that is all you can do. But it still was an intense moment taking that torch to the ring.

And now it’s a lovely wire, that is a start of something new, freeing it to have new life instead of sitting in a drawer for decades. I’m making something new, and learning things, and so grateful to Jim for his time, his knowledge and his willingness to take me in for a day and a half and guide me on this.

Right now I am at my Airbnb, which had a wonderful coffee machine as a selling point, and yes, it’s amazing coffee. I’ve got my wire to hold and ponder, and the idea is pretty solid in my mind for the piece. In a couple hours work will be begin, and we will see how far I get today.

 

Here’s a video about Jim, and shots inside his wonderful, cozy, creative studio where I will be today, overlooking the Deschutes River.

Gathering of the Guilds 2017

It’s about a week now until I will be ready, or not, hee hee, for this year’s Gathering of the Guilds at the convention center in Portland on April 21-23.

Show info.

I’m feverishly working to finish my pieces, and hopefully will get started with final pricing and making sure I have things like sales receipts, by Monday.

This year is different, as I am participating in the show as part of the Creative Metal Arts Guild this year. I am excited to see how things go, and honestly nervous. But, I am glad to have made the move, and consider this the year I learn the new ropes.

Those of you in the Portland area, I hope you can come! If you are looking for me, I will be near the silent auction and gallery area of CMAG, NOT in the Oregon Glass Guild. But do stop by all the guilds and see all the wonderful work. I am happy that the Oregon Potter’s Association is also back this year, it should be a really wonderful event!

Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s different this  year, isn’t it? Last year I was giggling at Deadpool’s take on the holiday, and today it has become something bigger. In some ways, something more serious, and dark-seeming, but to me, it’s more full of light, because it’s full of activism and awareness and awakening.

There’s good news for women who have their own businesses in the world. This data is a couple years old, but According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s (GEM) most recent Women’s Report, there are an estimated 126 million women starting or running businesses all around the world. That’s a 17-percent increase since the prior GEM Women’s Report in 2010. As the number of women in business and leadership roles continues to climb, it’s important to continue to inspire new leaders and celebrate their achievements.

That is overall good news!

Where I live, in America, there is definitely a discord between rights here, as I know them, and rights in other places in the rest of the world. The movement for equality that falls into the domain of women’s rights is larger, and is linked deeply now to rights for those of color, or other groups that have been marginalized in the past.  Communication pleases me, so any conversation and sharing of inertia, passion, and active effort between groups that are working to spread equality and inclusiveness seems a good thing.

I am thankful for the men in the world who support women in their efforts, and their strength. We can’t do this alone. Women need men to help support them them in their loves and challenges and battles against oppression,  and vice versa. We need each other to stand against those who would belittle our standing and dreams, whomever we are.

So, today, when I am to strike to show the world what things are like without me, I  am fortunate that I can bow out of public labor and service today, and work on my own business, my own future, and the future for my son and family.  I do so with love, and as terrifying as love seems to be for many in the world, it’s still just that… love. I hope we all can be as open to it as possible, even when history and family pressure tries to block us off. We all deserve it. All of us.

SO. In other news, I am working on love for myself and my own business by working ever on new things, new ways to create and new ways to share what I can offer to the world, to help people express themselves.

One of my dearest friends was in town on Monday, for one day. I decided to make him something, which was a challenge on a few levels. I don’t really have much experience (yet!) with jewelry for men, and I wanted to try something new to me: hollow forms. So, I went for it!

He once wrote a song called “Windpower,” and while that makes a wind turbine a fairly obvious piece of subject matter for him, the turbine has a deeper connection for us from earlier in our friendship. I’ve loved their shape for years, even before I ever met him.

In 2006, he went on a tour across America, his first in many years, performing his music to old fans and new. I went along as his tour manager. As we crossed the nation, we ran across a few wind farms, and pointed them out to each other, each geeking out their own way at the giant machines, spinning like happy daisies in rows in the distance. It sounds silly, but it’s a happy memory for me of our friendship, and a shared feeling about something in the world that ordinarily doesn’t perhaps invoke fondness on an aesthetic level.

It’s the smallest thing I have ever tried to saw into being, and I think I did well. The turbine is maybe an inch high. And the hollow form was fun! It’s light and was a great soldering exercise, using my new soldering station.

The piece came out wonderfully, and I am so happy for the experience, and he loved it! It was the first piece with my new maker’s mark, as well, so there were a lot of firsts for this one.

And now, it’s time to go make more! Would you like one of your own? Let’s make you one! In today’s political climate it’s a statement piece I never expected it would be.

Business Meltdown (and melting down is good)

Oh my goodness, friends.
I’m adrift. I’m all over the map. I’m not sure what I am doing.

 

That means I am onto something.

I took this free marketing class for a week about a month ago. It was one of those things where you get a little bit of information, free, and then they offer you their full-blown workshop, for hundreds. You get some good info to make a few changes, learn a little, but then you need to commit to get the whole tamale.

I have no issue with this, it’s how seminars and info works, you exchange money for the goods. I knew I would be marketed to, and so I was ok with it. I don’t like being marketed to, even though I recognize the irony that I need to be on the other side of that hustle for my own work, exchanged for money. I knew I needed something in my business, to make a full go of it, to really get in there and try to do it right, instead of feeling my way along in the dark with no flashlight the way I have been.

So I did the week to see what I would learn, and I did learn some new things. It all culminated with a live presentation/webcast to pull things together, and give them ample time to discuss the eight-week workshop that would be starting in a week or so after the free bootcamp wrapped up.

They were offering three scholarships to people who showed up for the bootcamp. You had to write in a FB thread post about why you thought you’d be a good candidate for the scholarship to the 2 month intensive.

Derek had a delayed start school day due to ice that day. So he was home, I was making breakfast for him, after days of snow days. I had gotten so little done that week with a kiddo home from school. So I had the laptop on the kitchen counter, cooking up eggs and toast and sausage, listening to the live webcast, and typing in my answer as to why I would be a good candidate at the same time as everything else. Not very focused arena to really write something well-worded, but I did my best.

At the end of the webcast, after answering lots of questions, they announced the three winners. And, wouldn’t you know it……

I was one of them. I can’t begin to describe how grateful I felt that morning, and still do.

So now I am deep in week two of this class, and I am so deep into chaos. I am rethinking everything with the information being thrown at me. It’s wonderful.

But I am totally flailing right now in what I make, how I make it, how I present it.  How to connect better to you, and serve you with my business. I literally don’t know what to make next, but I am working how to bring more connection and joy to everyone my business touches.  How to put it all together and offer it to the world, because of what I am learning. And the information keeps on coming, relentless, each piece working to further tear down everything so I can build it back again, correctly.

I’ve spent almost no time in the studio these past two weeks. At first, it was ok cause I was learning so much. Now it’s kind of ok because I don’t really know what to make.

There’s larger commitments on the horizon, with the Gathering of the Guilds show in April. Worst case, I will take some of what I am learning and make what I make, what I have made, with some alterations and expansions, mild ones, to get me through. Or, I may have time for the changes to move through my work, and what shows up at my booth is evolved in ways I can’t even think of right now.

I just don’t know. As John Taylor and AA say, “trust the process.”

I’ll just keep going.

 

Reaching Out.

It’s a rainy late morning. There is much to be done today, and once again, none of it at the bench. But I’m ok with this. It’s hard, but so much is shifting at juiceglass, the work of the brain and the pen are what is flowing right now. It’s good work and it’s hard work, and not as fun as creating. But getting the business itself in a much better place will work only to help reach out when the bench time comes back into the spotlight.
This month, I am working on website overhaul, creating a weekly work schedule, and getting the mailing list back from slumber.

I’ve had the list since 2004, but it’s never really had a direction. And that’s something I need to work out for myself. What IS the direction of the mailing list? To showcase new work? To ask questions? To keep fans updated on where new shows are? To elicit feedback?

So many ideas, and I’m going to figure it out. I like the idea of the mailing list, even with so many ways to connect online today. The newsletter on paper may be going the way of the dinosaur, but newsletters themselves are still delightful, if done right. I appreciate the digital means so that I am not using paper (trees) to communicate every month, and that will keep me connected with all of you as well as to my firm conviction to live as lightly as I can on this planet.

Do you want to join me on this journey? Are you on the mailing list yet? It’s about to be reborn! With discounts and giveaways and ways for us to get to know each other, and connect and create beautiful, meaningful things in this world.

So, that’s something that is definitely on my mind this week.
I’ve been doing this business workshop that is taking up so many hours with valuable exercises, but I try to make sure those ideas and brainstorming sessions also make constant change to the business as I go.

I’m off for a few days to the Oregon coast, for inspiration, for a breather, for a moment to just enjoy new places and new sights. One night will be in a yurt! I have never been at a campground in the winter, I wonder how many people will be there besides me and my partner. Oregon rain has a plus side on the coast, and that’s terrific storms and waves.

If you would like a few moments to see where I am going, or just to see some beautiful coastline and amazing waves, check out this video. My last night of the trip I rented the little loft that sits above the RedFish restaurant, as seen here. The trip also includes a visit to the sea wall at the beginning of this video, and I hope to see some huge waves!

Recharging is so important. I hope you are taking the time to recharge and treat yourself to new things, even just a new type of tea, hiking path, or a new knitting skill, or a new local restaurant or art gallery.  I’ll see you on the other side!

 

The Oregon Coast – A Winter Odyssey from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.

 

Back to the ocean

I’ve been working so hard on upping my silversmithing skills, and working to make pieces that incorporate both silver and glass of late. It’s a lot of work and hard and frustrating but also fun and exciting.

Each piece takes me a lot longer, however, and I have a jewelry trunk show coming up in a couple weeks. It is at Art on Broadway, where I had a solo show in November. With the holiday orders for gifts, and other distractions, making a full body of work in silver wasn’t going to happen, so I instead am focusing for this show on what I love to do best in glass: little worlds.

Instead of abstract ones, these beads have little ocean elements in them: starfish, barnacles, seaweed, water and swirling bubbles  and sand.

Sea beads - glass, sterling silver
Sea beads – glass, sterling silver

They still take time but I can produce them faster then a single dramatic focal silver necklace with a bezel set large glass cab. So I have spent more time in the glass studio the past couple weeks, and it’s cold out there! Glass work is so much more pleasant in the spring and fall, vs. winter and summer. But, work must be done in all seasons, so I have been getting the small heater I have out there turned on early, or I make straws early and let the larger kiln I call Big Mama heat the room better for me.

I asked followers on FB if they liked encased beads or beads with three dimensional elements sticking off it better, and most went for the former option. Encasement acts as a magnifier and makes the glass inside a tad larger-looking. Plus, all that luscious clear just makes things sparkle.

 

Both were enjoyed, but B was the winner. I will make both for the trunk show, but I was curious, and always am, in what people see in my work, in the glass. Literally and in terms of feelings or memories that are kindled or rekindled when looking at glass.

I have been making encased beads this week. It’s been a joy to spend so much time with glass again.

sea beads, top view
sea beads, top view