Sunday, September 27, 2009

Shows are SO hard to do...

Well, the Arts on the Side show in West Jefferson yesterday was acutally Arts on the INSIDE. Rain was predicted and the Ashe County Arts Council folks wisely decided to move us into the elementary school gym. It poured rain all day. Therefore, there were very few customers. I don't blame people - if I'd had a choice I would have stayed home in my nice dry, warm house too! And, my friend Janet who usually comes down from Virginia to spend the day there with me was suffering with the swine flu so she stayed home in her nice dry, warm house, too. It was a pretty boring day. And I didn't make much money. And everything got soaked when I was loading up the car. And the one credit card transaction I had got F*&^ed up somehow and put $8,000 on the woman's card for a $110 purchase.
I was so discouraged when I got home that I went on to to look at the forecast for next weekend, when I'm supposed to be at the Chatham Hill Winery's Harvest Festival. It says thunderstorms on Saturday and rain on Sunday... that's six days away, so I hope it's wrong. I don't think they have a Plan B in case of rain. Damn! This is a hard way to make a living sometimes!

Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm Charmed!

There's a team of artists on Etsy that consists of nothing but Metal Clay Artists. We call ourselves the Etsy Metal Clay Team (EMC Team). I'm proud to say that I'm part of that team. A few months ago we decided to do a charm swap and there were 25 of us who signed up to participate. We each made 27 charms and sent them to one team member who coordinated the sorting of the charms. Yesterday I received 24 charms back plus the one that I created. (Mine's the one on the upper right.) The photo above shows what an incredibly talented group this is! Most of them are made from silver clay, but a couple are made from bronze or copper clay. The extra 2 charms that each of us did will be made into two bracelets and donated to charity. One of them will go to New England Celebrities Tackle Cancer (read about this organization at ) and I don't think there's been a final decision made yet about who will get the second bracelet.
If you'd like to see the rest of the work by members of the EMC Team, go here. I think I'll be working on making my own charm bracelet just as soon as I can get to it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Update on the Arts on the Side show...

I just found out that, because of the rain predicted for this upcoming Saturday, that the Arts On The Side craft show in West Jefferson will not be held outside on the grounds of the Arts Council building. It has been moved to the elementary school gymnasium, which is just up the street. Whew! I'm glad I won't have to deal with everything getting wet. Come see me!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall Show Schedule

I have several shows coming up in the next few weeks that I wanted to tell you about. I always enjoy meeting my customers in person, and this is a perfect opportunity to catch me live.

The first one is next Saturday, September 26th in West Jefferson, NC. It's called Arts on the Side and is sponsored by the Ashe County Arts Council. It's a small, informal show on the grounds of the Arts Council and inside their gallery. We'll be set up from 9:00 until 3:00 and my friend, Janet, will be spending the day with me.

The following weekend, October 3-4, I'll be part of the Chatham Hill Winery Harvest Festival in Morrisville, NC (near the Raleigh-Durham Airport). The hours are 12:00-6:00 on Saturday and 1:00-5:00 on Sunday. There will be wine tastings, of course, and several different craft artists an well as some community interest groups. My sister and her husband will be there selling items to benefit the American Cancer Society.

On October 17 is the Valle Country Fair in Valle Crucis, NC from 9:00 to 4:00. This is not too far from home, and one of my favorite shows. It's an over-grown church bazaar that has turned into one of the best shows in the state. It occurs at the peak of fall color season and its bucket loads of fun with music, great food, and 135 craft artists. I've done this show every year for almost 15 years. We've experienced all kinds of weather, but it's only rained on us one year that I can remember. It's usually chilly in the morning and one year we had a few morning snow flurries, but normally you can count on a clear, crisp fall day.

Then a few weeks break until the evening of November 20. I'll be doing a benefit Trunk Show for Hospitality House of Charlotte. This wonderful organization offers low-cost housing to out-of-town people who have family members in Carolinas Medical Center, which is right across the street. I'll be donating a portion of my sales to them. The details haven't all been worked out yet, but I think the date is firm. We'll probably start in the late afternoon and go until around 7:00 or 8:00. We'll have wine and food and this will be a great opportunity to help out a deserving organization.

If you are part of a local charity and are interested in hosting a benefit Trunk Show for your organization, please contact me. Or, if you'd like to host one in your home for your family and friends, we can do that, too! Those are always a ton of fun.
Even after this blog post moves down your screen (assuming I continue to blog on a timely basis!), the schedule will remain to your right. So -- now you know where to find me!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

On Downsizing and Living Smaller

I love what Kate McKinnon wrote on her blog today:

"When you have Things, you have to house them, clean them, maintain them, and protect them. When you have nothing but what you need to survive, and nothing any man wants to steal, your life is your own. There is a balance in there that we all need to find for ourselves."

As a person who lives in a tiny, tiny house after living in a big, big house, I appreciate all manner of personal purging (not that kind!) and Stuff Reduction. I had a crazy idea about a year ago - after my sister took me to Costco and I came home with a 25-pound box of laundry detergent. I couldn't find anywhere to put it! I started thinking about building an addition on my house. I got all excited about having a real studio space and turning my existing studio space into the second bedroom that it was intended for. Overnight guests wouldn't have to sleep on the fouton in the living room! I even drew out what I wanted on graph paper and talked to a contractor about how it could be done and how much it would cost, but when we got to the cost part, that's when I gave up the idea.

I suppose I could have looked into a loan to build that addition, but then I would have to figure out how to earn enough money to pay it back, because my finances are usually hand-to-mouth. Short of going to work for someone else, it just wasn't possible. And, I realized that if I concentrated on getting rid of stuff I don't need or really want I wouldn't need another 400 square feet to put things in. And, I don't get that many visitors anyway, AND, I'm so much happier working for myself, even though I don't have a lot of extra money. It just wasn't worth it to give up my lifestyle just to aquire MORE STUFF!

So, I ended up scooping the detergent into plastic bags and storing it in my tool shed and I'm really careful about what I buy at Costco! But I still buy a $2 Powerball ticket every week so that when I win I can build that new studio!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some New Eye Candy

Here's a few pieces that I've recently finished up. They're not listed on Etsy yet, but they might be. If you see something here that you just HAVE to have before then, just contact me and I can make it yours!

This first one is a boulder opal which has been bezel-set into the metal clay. This is a complicated process, where I first make the bezel (the silver part that surrounds the stone) out of fine silver bezel wire by shaping it around the stone and then soldering the seam together. Then I set the bezel into some polymer clay about one-third of the depth of the bezel. I mix up some investment, which is like plaster, and pour it into the space where the stone will be. After the investment sets up, I remove the whole thing from the polymer clay base and press it into the backing piece I've made out of silver clay. When it's fired in the kiln, the investment holds the place and shape of the stone, as the silver clay shrinks 10-12% during firing. After it's fired I set the opal in place.

The one below is a large purple goldstone donut with a fine silver disk. The bail is made from sterling silver wire that has been forged by hand. A rivet in the center holds the whole thing together securely, and it's the same on both sides.

Next, we have a fine silver pendant with a simple but elegant pattern and a black akoya pearl in the center. To make this one, I imbed a post of fine silver wire into the clay and set the half-drilled pearl onto that wire as the last step.

Then, I made a couple more necklaces with the seed bead chains to replace the ones that I left at the Little Art Gallery in Raleigh. They both feature beautiful dichroic glass cabachons, which can be put in place and fired in the kiln along with the silver clay. This first one is a toggle pendant - the pendant IS the clasp and it's designed to be worn in the front.

This last one features a center pendant and has a large sterling silver "S" clasp in the back.

Well, that's some of what I've been up to. I have four shows coming up between now and the end of the year, so I gotta stay busy in the studio. I'll post more about those shows soon. Also, I'm planning a HUGE sale on my Etsy site for the month of November to celebrate my birthday. You won't believe how much I'll be slashing prices on things that have been hanging around in the inventory for a long time. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thanks, Diane!

Since Diane Allison-Stroud just posted about me and my work on her blog, I thought I'd return the favor. We need all the help we can get sometimes, and I love promoting other artists. Diane was a member of Hands co-op gallery for awhile, but she got so busy making her beautiful hand-painted game boards that she had to leave! She outgrew us!

Gypsy Penny Pitch
Each of her hand made game boards takes about 3 weeks to make. They're hand drawn and hand painted - no stencils are used. They're functional as well as beautiful art to hang on your wall.

Circus Checker Board
The finishing process requires numerous sandings, but achieves the time-worn look. They're made of birch and poplar.

Chinese Checkers (comes with a bag of marbles)
Diane is honored as a 29th Guild Artist by Country Living Magazine. There are people who collect her work to create unique wall displays in their homes.
Find her work on her website: and read about another artist living and working here in the Blue Ridge Mountains at

Well? Whaddayou think?

"When the flush of a new-born sun fell first on Eden's geen and gold,
Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mould;
And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves, 'It's pretty, but is it Art?'"

-- Rudyard Kipling, the Conundrum of the Workshops

I really do believe that the argument about "what is art" started at this point in time. I remember when my mother saw her first Jackson Pollock painting, she said "That's awful! It looks like a 3-year-old did it." Then, later, she decided that modern art was cool and hung a Picasso print over the piano. When I has in high school my best friend's mother had the same one in their house.

Go to and you can practice painting just like he did! Just move your cursor around and click to change colors.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Murano Silver Give Away

"Toth" Limited Edition Fine Silver and Gold Collarette by Murano Silver

Here's a good reason for a new blog post! Nicola Callow of Murano Silver does a monthly give away and this time she's giving away two books - a signed copy of PMC Technic by Tim McCreight and a copy of Fabulous Jewelry From Found Objects. You can enter her contest in several ways and you get one entry for each place you enter. (So, the more places you enter, the better your chances of winning.) This blog post counts as one of my entries.

Nicola is a fellow member of the Etsy Metal Clay team. She lives in Market Deeping, England and is also a member of the British Jewellery Association. Her beautiful work can be found on her Etsy site.