Friday, September 30, 2011

Trapezoid as Muse...

Way back in the distant past, I encountered the trapezoid. Maybe it was 10th grade geometry class. While the teacher rambled on about finding the area of a trapezoid, I got lost in a daydream about how cute they were.

Since then, I've always drawn them in my doodlings. And once I became a metalsmith, I brought them to life in copper.

I love to applique (by sweat soldering) shapes and forms onto their surfaces. Sterling, brass and bronze are used for the details. I fabricate each piece and solder them to the trapezoid.

Brand new in this line are my Copper Trapezoid Earrings. Reminiscent of my Trapezoid Fan Necklaces, the trapezoids in my earrings are smaller in scale, but host nearly as much detail.

They are asymmetrical in their detail, but balanced by their matched trapezoids. They're also hand stamped, on the copper and on the leaves and blossoms.

You can see these Copper Trapezoid Earrings, plus others, by following this link to my Etsy shop.  I have Trapezoid Fan Necklaces there, as well as other Trapezoid Earrings!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Buy Handmade This Holiday!

The notion of 'handmade' has exploded in the past decade, and nothing is more perfect for holiday giving than original gifts of high quality made by artists.

It's great to buy directly from artists, whether from their studios, online sites, or at art shows and holiday bazaars. It's also great to support the locally owned galleries and shops in your community.

So I and my fellow artists have launched this 'Buy Handmade This Holiday' project to get the word out.

We hope you'll join us in the cycle of crafting and gifting in the season to come!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reintroducing myself to my Muse...

Life is busy. I'm a wife, a daughter, a sister, a mother of two grown sons, a pet owner, a social networker and a member of my local community. And I'm a studio artist, a metalsmith.

I often walk around muttering to my Muse. She sits on my shoulder and whispers design ideas to me all day long. She tells me bedtime stories as I close my eyes at night. She makes me twitch and itch to spend hours and hours and hours in my too-tiny home studio, trying to make that ever-elusive 'breakthrough' to the other side.

I seem to remember some character in a book long ago, whose quest was for an Original Idea. This is also part of my conversation with my Muse.

I found her so long ago I can't remember when or how. But I have also lost her many times. The most important story on this that I have was a moment more than 20 years ago, when I had not made art in many years and found myself in the Laughing Horse Inn in Taos, New Mexico. In deep pain and feeling lost, I encountered two older women, close friends who met up in Taos every year to take art classes together. They drew my story out of me and when I said that, on top of everything else going on in my life right then, I was in deep pain because I wasn't making art, they said that getting back to artmaking was the most important issue for me to tackle. That everything else would fall into place if I would just do that. This seemed so impossible at the time.

But, eventually, I found jewelry design and, with halting steps, began to make and sell bead jewelry. I traveled to market it. I gained new confidence in myself and my life. And, most importantly, found happiness in building upon jewelry-making skill sets. I found a great many excellent teachers along the way. I found that, having stated my intent to be happy making and selling jewelry, that the resources in the universe lined up to help me do it.

Along the way, I became a happy person instead of someone off-track and in pain. I met my husband and began a long marriage. My own son grew up and I gained a younger stepson. The computer age arrived and I began to learn it. The social network age arrived, and I learned that too. I opened and ran a beautiful gallery for four years and then returned to making and marketing my own jewelry design again.

I push myself forward, always. My Muse sits on my shoulder and fuels me with that promise of a 'breakthrough.' She reintroduces herself to me daily, and I accept her insights and companionship and her admonition to get busy with that Original Idea.


This article is written in conjunction with my Etsy team: Aspiring Metalsmiths on Etsy, which organized a 'blog roll' on the topic of: Finding Your Muse. Here is the list of links to other team members' blogs on this topic!


September Project Blogroll - Finding Your Muse

Each month the Aspiring Metals team chooses a topic and each write about that topic on their blog. This month we want to know what inspires you, and where do you look for inspiration?

See what we have to say by visiting the blogs below:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Journey Through Metalsmithing: Recent Etsy Treasuries

Four new rings using recycled patterned sterling wire with handmade copper blossoms in different styles. These are heading to Newbill Collections by the Sea, a wonderful fine craft gallery on Ruskin Place in Seaside, Florida.


My spending lots of time on my computer (working on Etsy and Facebook and Twitter) dovetails perfectly with time in my home studio. I bounce back and forth from workbench to computer desk all day long.

Recently, many of my pieces in Etsy have been removed because those pieces have been sent to various galleries who have invited my work.

This is giving me the chance to rethink what work to put into my Etsy shop next. I'm busy in my studio, filling gallery orders, making some things for Etsy, and getting ready for some local selling events in November and December, in time for the winter holidays.

In the meantime, I'm also continuing to publish Etsy 'treasuries,' collections I curate from works I find on the online site. My main treasuries thread is what I call my 'curriculum' on metalsmithing.

I am endlessly fascinated by all things metalworking. Since I came up in an era when an MFA in metals was virtually unknown -- and, certainly, girls didn't take that career path -- I've spent the past 18 years teaching myself all manner of jewelry-making skills. Since I did not take the academic path to this, I'm educating myself about metals, methodologies and design.

Thank goodness for the age of online information!

Here are 6 recent Etsy treasuries I've curated on metalsmithing and design:

The Bronze Age: a look at modern work in this ancient alloy:

Copper is the Season: A gallery of exquisite art jewelry design in copper, sometimes using semi-precious gemstones:

The Big Bang Theory: Artists expressing ideas about the cosmos in metals:

Modernist, Minimalist Metalwork:  Contemporary design in metals, sometimes with a retro feel:

Industrial Frameworks:  The use of line and form to suggest solidity:

Fiber Techniques in Metals: Handwoven: A look at works in metals that resembed loomed work or baskets:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Brick and Mortar Locations for My Work!

I've been in transition for nearly all of 2011. This means I closed my beloved fine craft gallery, Humidity Gallery, which I co-owned with a friend, in January of this year.
Then I took a few months to rest and get my wits about me. And to get my chops back as a metalsmith. And to establish my new online presence as City/Rustic Jewelry.

I started my Etsy shop and my Facebook fan page, made a lot of jewelry and uploaded it to Etsy. This has been a fun and interesting process!

I have now reached the point where my inventory has grown large enough to return to out-of-town galleries. And so I am happy to say that I have returned to Newbill Collections by the Sea in Seaside, Florida. And tomorrow I am sending work to The Tortured Heart Gallery in Gulf Breeze, Florida (near Penasacola).

It feels good to be placing work in galleries again. Annette Newbill Trujillo and Stephanie Ritchie are each incredible women. And their galleries are beautiful.

I also have work in Plum Nelly Gallery and Shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I have long wanted to enhance my collection there, and I am on the brink of doing just this.

And I have work in Crystal Connection in Tallahassee, Florida. There, I display my crocheted hats, scarves and bags, as well as beaded jewelry.

Please patronize these great local businesses! Their inventories are unique, gorgeous and interesting. They are wonderful sources for self-adornment, decor and gifts.

Following are the locations and phone numbers for these!

Newbill Collections by the Sea, 39 Ruskin Place, Seaside, FL 850/231-4500 (off the main Central Square in the art colony called Shops of Ruskin)

The Tortured Heart Gallery, 3477 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Gulf Breeze, FL 850/932-0050

Plum Nelly Gallery & Shop, 330 Frazier Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 423/266-0585

Crystal Connection, 1105 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee, FL 850/878-8500


My Pebbles Necklace in sterling silver is seen in the photo, above. It is made of silver I recycled in my own studio, from sterling scrap. I formed each pebble and fused them together. Then added joinery and attached it to a sterling silver chain. It is available, along with my entire Pebbles collection, at The Tortured Heart!