Wednesday, November 20, 2013

T'is the Season!

Coming up on 'Thanksgivingkuh,' I, like most crafters, am very busy every day in my studio. And, if I'm not there, I'm most likely at home on my computer, creating in my virtual world. 

So, I just wanted to check in to say hello and that I hope your Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are warm blessings to you and yours.

If you're looking for early handmade gifts, I invite you to visit both of my Etsy shops. I'm on alert for quick shipping.

If you're local to Tallahassee, I'll be seen in a couple of local venues. First, the LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts' annual holiday show/exhibition opens the day after Thanksgiving. I have a lot of handmade jewelry in the show, as well as my new reclaimed brass ornaments!

And, I'll be in the last Downtown Marketplace of the seaon, the "Just One More" show, which is a 2-day show for the first time this year: Saturday and Sunday, December 14 and 15.

Here are the links to my two shops on Etsy:

Both are filled with jewelry (and CRJ also features my ornaments!) that I hope you'll find perfect for giving!

Friday, October 18, 2013

When Macro = Micro

I spoke by phone today to a dear friend who's had some success this year in her Etsy shop. Finally, she had gained some momentum with sales and was seeing a profit, enough that she could buy some of the household groceries and supply her shop at the same time. Quite an achievement for a little shop only two years old!

And then a cadre of Republican representatives in the U.S. House shut down the government and she saw her sales plunge. International sales, too.

Which brings to mind the reality that even the tiniest little business suffers when the macro-economy falters.

We are both restimulated about the fiscal events of September 2008, when the stock market crashed several times and a worldwide depression loomed. At that time, she and I were running a brick-and-mortar gallery shop in our town. At the moment when our initial investment should have begun to pay off, we instead faced days and weeks of inadequate sales to keep our business open. Again, it was a tiny business responding to the macro situation.

It is clear. It is a closed system and we are all inter-connected. We have to support each other in a time in history (at least American history) when politics and banking policies at the top can weaken small fish at the bottom.

As the holiday season comes on, you might want to remember those fish near the bottom. It is they who make their own wares by hand and wear all the hats required by their businesses. And, this is where you'll find the greatest originality and quality.

We who make our artful things by hand, or provide DIY materials so you may make your artful things by hand, are in the business of providing quality goods and excellent customer service.

We think about you, our customers, all the time as our work finds its way to market, whether in an online Etsy shop or personal website, at art shows or in consignment galleries, or our own brick-and-mortar shops.

And so again, as the holidays approach, let's all remember the message of this meme and support the providers who create excellent and original items that make such great holiday gifts! Whether strictly 'local,' or 'local' on online sites owned by the actual producers, let's enrich each others' lives by voting for them with our dollars!

In this small way, we ensure that our lives and gift-giving remain rich, diverse, delicious and interesting! When you know your vendor, you know where your item is made and you enhance the bottom, or micro, line even when the macro-economy falters.

These two pendants are in my handmade collection. The top pendant is found in my Etsy shop: 

And the bottom pendant is found in my Etsy shop:

I will soon launch my new website, in early November! I'll announce it here when it's ready.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Website Underway!

I'm busy, behind the scenes, working with my website designer to launch my new website, which will be an umbrella over both of my Etsy shops and their Facebook pages, to give a comprehensive view of what I make and sell.

It won't have its own shopping cart, but will utilize the Etsy shops' catalog appearance and shopping carts. I'm doing it this way so I can keep my creative energy focused in my studio and listing on Etsy.

Etsy shops have their own shopping carts, which offer two different payment systems: PayPal and Etsy's Direct Checkout.

I will also have a new blog attached to the website. Its working title right now is 'Butternut Patina.' But this blog will remain alive, too. Too many cool things have happened here to let it go. I'll link the website and its blog to this one, once the new things are launched.

Please visit both of my shops on Etsy!




Monday, September 16, 2013

Riches on the Internet... my team on Etsy and Facebook!

One of the things that holds me together, makes my life interesting and teaches me a lot is my membership on the Etsy's Best Kept Secrets team. Now that I've learned how, from time to time, I take a turn at constructing the weekly collage of 'What We Have Made This Week.' 

Started long before I joined the team, the collage is posted in the team's Facebook fan page and each of us does our best to broadcast it as widely as we can.

This is the second one I have made. It was fun and it was a challenge. But the work within it is gorgeous and diverse, just as we EBKS teamies are. It's  not a large team, but it is international.

We live in Greece, Sweden, Hong Kong, Australia, Finland, England, Ireland, and several points in the U.S. Hope I'm not leaving anyone out!

Please see all of this collage's details on the Etsy's Best Kept Secrets blog:

And you're invited to visit and 'like' our Facebook fan page:

In other news... Although it is mid-September now, here in Tallahassee it is still very-hot late summer with no real end in sight for awhile. At this point in our long hot season, my nerves are screaming and it's hard to accomplish anything. I clearly live too far south in the U.S., but such is my lot in life. In fact, my Scottish ancestors arrived here in the 1840s, but I am not adapted to this climate. I do know that as soon as the first real hint of cooler fall weather arrives, I will be full of creative energy and jumping for joy. Fortunately, that's just weeks away.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Etsy's Best Kept Secrets

One of the really great things about social networking and being on Etsy and Facebook, in my life, is the support and interest I get from my teamies on Etsy's Best Kept Secrets.

EBKS is small but international in scope. We make all sort of things.  Some of us have two shops on  Etsy.

Today, I produced the group's weekly collage, which is called 'What We Have Made This Week.' 

This collage is our of our recent work. Isn't it gorgeous?

Click on this link to find the interactive version of the collage, complete with live links to each of our artists' shops!

Sorry I've Been Gone So Long!

I haven't blogged in quite awhile, but I have been busy. With jewelry. With family. With pets. With life.

And it's summer in north Florida, when the weather alternates between searing heat and drenching rains.

In the time since I returned from New Mexico in late May, I've opened a second shop on Etsy, TanaMcLaneJewelry.

Here's the link to it: 

My original shop, CityRusticJewelry, remains open. Here's the link to it: 

Why two Etsy shops? 

Well, CityRusticJewelry is served by the Muse who loves experimental design, mixed-metals, and one-of-a-kind pieces.

The Muse of TanaMcLaneJewelry loves mostly just-sterling jewelry (although there will be occasional jots of mixed-metals, as seen in these Gingko Leaf earrings which are sterling with little drops of recycled brass).  

The new shop has jewelry design lines. 'In The East' and 'In The West' are two of my initial lines there. I invite you to click on my two links and see all the new works I've posted in both shops. I'm on a roll and will be adding more as the summer hums along. In north Florida, remember, we consider it 'summer' up until mid-October!

I also invite you to visit and 'like' the TanaMcLaneJewelry Facebook fan page: 

And, if you haven't already, you're also invited to visit and 'like' my original FB fan page for  CityRusticJewelry:


In other news, my out-of-house studio's entrance has been freshened and our shingles have been hung.

This is where the magic happens. My metalsmith studio is here, and so is a display area of available work. We don't keep regular hours yet. Maybe sometime in the future...

I share this space with the artist/architect, Valerie Goodwin, who make studio map quilts, which are gorgeous visually, but are also gorgeous in content and subject matter.

Valerie's work is often off on exhibition. But you can see it on these links:

Not only is Valerie's work beautiful and intriguing, but the content of her social networking pages is, too. I learn a lot from her, about design, about interesting art out in the world. We work well together, in our corners of our large studio and a lot of art is born here!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Road Trip to New Mexico and Back Again

My husband kept asking what I wanted for my 60th birthday, hoping to make it very special. It took about 10 seconds for me to tell him, "Taos, New Mexico. A road trip!"

We live in north Florida. Taos is about 3 full days of driving from our home. This meant we needed to be gone for two weeks, to make it all worthwhile. But he immediately agreed. And so I got Taos, or my version of it, for my birthday.

First, we drove to New Orleans and spent two nights with dear friends. And then we hit the road and drove west and then north through Louisiana, over to Dallas/Ft. Worth, and then out to Amarillo. On the third day, we arrived in Santa Fe to stay with two more friends for a night. And then it was on to Taos!

We stayed in a cozy adobe patio home on the south side of Taos. From there, we made day trips to Ghost Ranch, Ojo Caliente, and places all over Taos.

One of the places we visited was the Millicent Rogers Museum. The collections of pueblo pottery, Navajo rugs, Spanish iconography, and Indian jewelry are not to be missed.

We also alighted at the home of Mabel Dodge Luhan and her husband, Tony Luhan, for a sweet respite. Their home, also once owned by Dennis Hopper (who discovered it and Taos while filming 'Easy Rider'), is now a conference center. It's also a wonderful example of pueblo-style adobe building.

This was the spot for intellectual and artistic discourse in the early twentieth century when the likes of Georgia O'Keeffe and DH Lawrence stayed there.  

O'Keeffe is a particular favorite of mine. The first time I visited Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu, in the Chama River Valley, she was still alive (but very old and living out her last few years in Santa Fe). I have read many biographical books about her and she is very alive for me. And I love her art. She invented a modern genre and sometimes I am able to see the natural landscapes she painted as if through her eyes.

I first caught a whiff of the Navajo artist, RC Gorman, in the early 1980s, when I drove from LA to Denver with my sister and we passed through Albuquerque. Merchants on the plaza in the old city of Albuquerque told us he had just relocated to Taos and, since we were also heading on to Taos, we found our way to his beautiful Navajo Gallery. We caught a glimpse of him there, but were most enthralled with his mesmerizing work. Amazingly, I was allowed to take photos all over his gallery that day, film shots I still treasure. 

On this recent trip, we were sad to hear that Gorman had passed away a few years ago. His last works have been reproduced in lithographs and on calendars, mugs, and other products, and many are also on display in the La Fonda Hotel on the plaza in Taos. We visited both the hotel and the gallery and, when I got home, I dug out my old photos of that long-ago trip when he gave me free reign of his gallery with my camera.

You can find many of Gorman's images on Google. Here's one link:

One day, when Glen was not feeling well, I drove out to Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch with a friend of mine who once lived in Tallahassee. About five years ago, she moved to Santa Fe. We had talked about one day visiting the Chama Valley together and, on this day, it happened.

I told her there was a labryinth far in the back of Ghost Ranch and so, after lunching in their cafeteria, we set out to find it. The gorgeous cliffs in the background make walking this particular labyrinth a very special thing.

After we walked it, we went to sit under what is probably my favorite tree in all the world: the cottonwood tree. On that day, the wind was very stiff. But the shade of the tree protected us from harsh desert sun as we gazed at cliffs and over to the Pedernal, a distinctive mesa so often present in O'Keeffe's work.

This was a day of adventure, but also a day of peace and healing. I think this is the day I began to let go of some of the sorrow I've felt since Dad's passing last October.

I come from a land of sunlight and blue skies, but the sunlight and blue skies of that high desert plateau are different. The particular orangey-pinks of the soils and cliffs in the valley are colors I lust for when I don't see them often enough. Reminiscent of red Georgia clay, they also derive from iron. But many of these cliffs are prehistoric sand dunes from ancient seas.

Ghost Ranch is kind enough to place some Adirondack chairs under 'my' tree and it is in this spot that I most relax.

Glen began to feel better and within a day was out adventuring with me again. On one of those days, we drove out to see my little speck of land in the desert beyond the Gorge Bridge in Taos. About 10 miles beyond the Rio Grande Gorge, my little piece of land in a vast sagebrush desert is found. What is most magnificent about it are the mountains in the background: Cerro Montoso and the Sangre di Cristos.

This desert gets much more rain than many. Yet, New Mexico itself has been in a long drought.

The desert plateau near Taos was formed by volcanoes, which are now extinct. You can see the dark lava rock below the surface of the canyon gorge. Near Taos, the Rio Grande River is at its very most impressive. Here, it has cut down about 800 feet through the lava plateau to create this dramatic gorge.

The Gorge Bridge is a great place to view the river below. On one side of the bridge artists and vendors sell their wares by the side of the road.

We cannot talk about this wonderful trip without mentioning the goldsmith/jewelry designer Emily Benoist Ruffin, who hosted us in Taos! She also made a fabulous gumbo at her home one night, for a dinner that included the jewelry artist James Binion and his wife, Terry.

In New Orleans, we saw David Kronenwetter and his wife, Vera Nunez, as well as Brad Ott and Tracy Thomson, hatmaker extraordinaire.

In Santa Fe, we saw Steffie Grow and David Kuncicky, formerly of Tallahassee. And I extracted Lyric Kali, also formerly of Tallahassee,  from Santa Fe to spend the day with me in the Chama Valley.

And we must especially thank Margie and Steve Osheroff for the marvelous gift card to Ojo Caliente hot springs and spa in the desert. This took us to an afternoon of body therapies and hot soaks that relaxed us to our core. And gave us the honeymoon we missed 17 years ago!

We stayed in touch with friends all over the world via Facebook, and loved all the kudos and encouragements we received along the way. If one has to turn 60 (and it's better than the alternative... what a privilege it is to grow older!), to me, this was the way to do it. I must finally, and totally, thank my husband, Glen Gifford, for this trip. And for his delightful countenance all along the way. He made it my trip, my birthday trip, and this meant I was with him far more of the time than usual on a trip -- since he's much stronger and more adventurous than I'll ever be.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

What's Next...

My spring art show season has come to an end. 

I did one show in Acworth, Georgia, and one in Birmingham, Alabama.

In both shows, Sunday was a rainy day and I hightailed it home with a wet tent and wet equipment.

Not the end of the world. With two sturdy adult sons who'll pitch in and help me dry things out and put them away, I get things back in order pretty quickly. But, at 60, I am starting to question whether it's developmentally appropriate for me to do this!

I love talking with the show customers and fellow artists. In a perfect world, it would be sunny and cool and the crowd would be in a buying mood. Sometimes this happens!

These are pics of my show booth. It looks a little different in each environment. But I have pretty much trimmed things down to a minimal presentation so customers can concentrate on my jewelry.

This is my booth on Main Street in Acworth, GA. 

Now that I am home and the booth is packed away, I'm planning to list a lot of new work in my Etsy shop. This will take the next few days, but please do check in on my shop as it happens.

Over the summer I will be developing my Etsy shop some more and sending work to galleries. No lover of summer heat, I spend the season in my studio.

Tales of the art jewelers...

I'm feeling sort of melancholy today. One of the best jewelry designers I know has decided that, in the face of job changes in her life, she must close her Etsy shop. Designing and selling art jewelry is always a risk and always a crapshoot. However, she has been pretty successful in the online world of Etsy and her ideas are always good.

Anna-Karin of Black Daisy Design on Etsy will be hosting a sale of her available work very soon, before she closes her shop. It will be very worthwhile to you to visit her shop once her sale begins, to take advantage of spectacular deals and to help her close down in style!

The link to her Etsy shop: 

You can contact her by 'convo' through her shop.

And so, as we bid Anna-Karin's Etsy shop au revoir, we wave with a brave smile on our face and then rush, rush, rush to buy some of those incredible goodies she has created!  

Here is her post about her sale: 

In other news...

I have completed my two spring art shows. And the miracle of selling a lot and having a lot more to offer has occurred. So, very soon, I will be listing many new pieces in my own Etsy shop and will blog again when I do.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Production Season

I'm practically monastic these days, as I grind through the last two weeks of pre-show production.

And yet, life keeps offering me fun opportunities to socialize or do just about anything else but work in my studio. I have to be really disciplined with myself right now.

Awhile back, I made a piece similar to this pendant, on the left. I kept the pattern pieces I made, always intending to recreate it, in large measure. But no two things I make are ever exactly alike. By happenstance and by intention.

I call this 'Dancer II.' I think its leaves and stem are balletic. It's a piece that makes me smile.

I love the mystery of this particular druzy stone. More like titanium than amethyst, it is, nevertheless, deep purple. And I love the juxtaposition of rolling mill texture with hammered texture with layered pieces of metal. It just pleases me.

I also had fun making these brushed-sterling squiggle earrings. I'll be making more playful earrings soon.

The bead at the bottom of these are vintage glass. Mostly gray, but with a bit of aqua in them. I love neutrals and earthy tones, with just a hint of sparkle.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

This isn't just a hobby...

Sometimes I disappear from the world of blogging and listing things in my Etsy shop. Especially when I jury into multiple regional art shows and have to produce at least two booths' worth of handmade jewelry.

That's what's happening in my life right now.
In just about a month, I'll have packed and priced all my available jewelry, my art show tent and my whole booth display and head up to Acworth, GA, for their two-day art festival. Acworth is just north of Marietta and Kennesaw Mountain on the NW side of Atlanta.

Then I'll be home less than 10 days before doing it all again in Birmingham, AL. So I've been keeping my nose to the grindstone and burning the midnight oil and becoming a very dull girl by doing the 'all work and no play' bit.

However, I did take an evening off recently to kick up my heels. And today I ate St. Paddy's Day dinner with my family at 'the club.' And finished my taxes tonight.

Now I'm eager to return to my studio and move many of my projects forward. I figure that if I make most of the next month 'studio time,' I'll reach my production goals. Which will satisfy me no end. And I hope to turn a profit this season so I can keep bringing the world my ideas of fun and funky and elegant jewelry.

This can never be a hobby! I'm not rich enough for it to be so. Someone in my position wears at least a dozen business hats, from purchasing agent to designer to factory worker to bookkeeper to janitor to shipping department to sales clerk to sometimes trendsetter. These interesting Trapezoid Fan Necklaces take about two entire work days for me to produce. Because they are necklaces with five pendants on them. No two of the trapezoids, or the necklaces, are alike. I even link them together in different ways!

I'll arrive at my shows with at least five of these. I have to make some other things, too!

The display area in my studio is set up like my show booth. It's exciting to see my pedestals fill with new pieces.

I do hope to list some of them in my Etsy shop before too long.

You can also check with my Facebook fan page to see what's new. If you see something you simply must have, feel free to contact me there.

You can find my fan page here:

And there are plenty of nice things in my Etsy shop, even if I'm too busy to list more right now! Just look to the 'slide show' on the right side of my blog page for works currently in my shop.

Seen here are my three newest Trapezoid Fan Necklaces! The top one is with turquoise, silver and copper, linked with hand-forged sterling rings. The middle one is with Picasso stone, sterling and copper. And the bottom one is with labradorite, sterling and copper, linked with wavy sterling links. The tiny specs you may see in the stones is from overhead lights in my studio and not flaws in the stones.

And here's a peek at what my studio looks like these days, as I fill my pedestals with new works! (I share my studio with the quilt artist Valerie Goodwin, whose workspace can be seen beyond my display.)


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Abstraction: When One Artist Inspires Another...

I'm a lucky artist. I share my studio space with an inspiring studio quilt artist, Valerie Goodwin. One-half of our space is my metalsmithing studio and the other half is her sewing studio.

I make wearable things and she makes 2-D things, large and small. When we're lucky, her traveling work comes home to roost and fills our gallery walls with dashes of color, line and form. Her subject matter is often personal cartography: mapping. Her quilt-maps are of places, both real and imagined.

She makes small works, too. And recently, a certain shape and color in one of her small works caught my eye. All sorts of fireworks went off in my brain, and I began to see renditions of it in metal and stone.

And so, this pendant was born of that process. 

It began with a drawing, which I turned into a pattern and traced onto a sheet of red jeweler's brass. Then, with my jeweler's saw, I cut the shape out and smoothed its edges.

To bring Valerie's olive green into my piece, I chose this olive green Lizard Jasper, a trapezoid cabochon, and turned it on its head. I love its little lizard eye.

I set the stone into fine silver bezel after soldering bits of recycled sterling and bronze to the surface of the piece. I hand-stamped myriad patterns and designs into the metal, reminiscent of the spatters in Valerie's fabric.

The abstract pendant is linked into an antiqued copper chain and closes with an antiqued copper toggle clasp. 

It's about 1.5" wide and about 2.75" tall. With its chain, it's about 25" around.

The pendant is available in my Etsy shop:

Valerie's work can be seen by visiting her Facebook fan page and exploring her various links to websites, etc.