Monday, December 1, 2014

Autumn in North Florida...

From afar, it's easy to think Florida is always hot and sunny and life is lived only at the edge of our Gulf and Atlantic Ocean on sugar-sand beaches.

But living in Tallahassee, in our part of north Florida, is a bit different.

Here, we have rolling hills, an inland forest, and a small city known more for its great universities and for hosting our state government than for our local life on the ground.

In fact, utter the name 'Tallahassee,' and you realize it's usually a stand-in for the functioning and decisions of our governor and our legislative houses.

But, our deeper truth is that this is an ancient land. A land that saw Paleo-Indians, and then Spanish Conquistadors, and later Spanish missionaries. A land that grew shade tobacco just to the west. A land that is the northern-most region for many southern species of foliage -- and the southern-most region for many more northern species.

We're about 40 minutes from the nearest spot to dangle our toes in salt water. And, before we get there, we pass a multitude of freshwater rivers with cold water, snakes and alligators. And holes punched into our karst (limestone) layer that we call sinkholes. Cave divers know our land well. So do cyclists, poets and artists. To those of  us living here full-time, these things are truer for us than the add-ons of college football and the shenanigans of state government.

My yard, these days, is a riot of fall color. These are my trees in these photographs, and my little slice of sky. My Scottish ancestors pioneered near here beginning in the nineteenth century. I'm really a Floridian, and not a transplant from somewhere else. At least not since the 1840s.

I hate our summer heat. My Scottish DNA never has gotten used to it. But I live for this season and the next. Our winters are sometimes very cold. Like below 20F degrees at times. But we always default to warmer temperatures. Last week, two nights plunged to the low 20s and those days were cold (for us), too. Today, temps soared to 80F. And I rushed home to take off my long-sleeved garb and boots and spent the afternoon sleeveless and in open sandals. Even before climate change became a thing, north Florida did this.

I am pleased that our exterior household projects have been completed, allowing me to go back into my studio and be a metalsmith again.

Upon my return, I finally made some of the tiny houses I'd long thought about. And a friend inspired me to make jewelry with rustic stars.

I found a handful of chunky faceted labradorite cabochons in my studio and built my little houses around them.

You can see several of these in my online shop on Etsy by clicking on this link:

CityRusticJewelry on Etsy

These are handmade and one-of-a-kind using darkened sterling silver (with patina).

The Starry series of earrings and pendants feature tiny gemstone cabochons or vintage glass rhinestone cabochons and are encrusted with sterling stardust.

This is a non-glamor shot of the whole group of Starry pieces I have made. Those still available are also in my Etsy shop.

Wishing all of you in the northern hemisphere a wonderful autumn-into-winter, and those of you in the southern hemisphere a wonderful spring-into-summer! Please let me know if I can help you with anything!

Friday, October 3, 2014

I've been busy this summer, but not in my studio.

Oh, I moved my studio back home and set it up and made a few things. But my focus has been on a lot of outside projects around our home.

You see, we finally gave up on the idea of selling our home and relocating sometime in the future. And decided to really put our roots down here for the long haul because it will make our lives decidedly simpler and more enjoyable. But we wanted to make some changes. And we're so happy that we did.

It was the swampiest and most humid of summers in north Florida. Our young workers did an amazing job holding up against the sun, rain and humidity day after day. I ran around in the heat a lot more than usual, too.

Eighteen years ago, we moved into this small house I've long called a 'bomb shelter.' Built for only $9,000 in 1957, I've often wished they'd splurged originally and spent $11,000 so we'd have a bigger kitchen and a second bathroom. Yes, weren't mid-century housing prices amazingly low?

For my studio to move back home, we had to add some storage on our property. And we had to improve some existing storage, because the house itself doesn't offer much.

Now all my art show booth stuff is tucked away with myriad other things. A potting bench has been built and all of our potting materials have been organized around it.

Mowers and tools and bikes have secure homes. And our two cats have nice shelters to scurry to, to avoid the rain.

We still have hardscaping and landscaping to do.  We've only made a small dent in these so far. Soon we'll see cooler weather and that will be our cue to build the stone patios and move plantings to new locations.

It's kind of nice to live in a 'vintage' dwelling on a modest bit of property. Its affordability will allow us to do the traveling we want to do, and maybe even to avoid the hottest months of summer in years to come. We dream of renting for a month or two each summer in the Appalachians, when sun and rain beat upon Tallahassee.
There were several spots around our yard that were muddy and hard to traverse. We've improved those with 'dry streams' made of pavers and river rocks. I love how much cleaner things are where we've done this, and how much more easily traveled.

When we bought our home, it had suffered a 'scorched-earth' treatment from its former owner. The whole property boasted about three pitiful trees. In our first year here, we planted a number of trees and bushes, to the point that our formerly sunny yard is now mostly shady. Our eyesore of a house is now a woodsy parkland abode and we love it. We've even painted it a sage green. Our landscaping phase will see the advent of a butterfly/pollinator garden. I'm very into bees and butterfliesI'm happy to report that north Florida's honeybees are doing quite well. We have colder winters than you might expect in Florida, and the cold holds back the Africanized bees of south Florida and out west. Our beekeepers are so successful with honeybee hives here that we actually rent hundreds of hives to California and other western areas, to pollinate their bee-dependent crops, like almonds. When we get our bees back, they need rehabilitation. And this is where homeowners come in.

Planting flowering plants that support bees and butterflies helps those populations stay strong and healthy. Even a few butterfly plants in pots are helpful to the pollinators. Entertaining, too. I love sitting in my red deck chairs and watching the bugs work. And we've had lots of cardinals and hummingbirds this year. We keep the feeders full and are entertained by busy critters grateful for food and drink. Right now, the earliest clues that autumn is coming can be seen. The light is buttery and the nights are cooler. Some of the trees are a little rusty. This awareness always gets me going: studio time!

The winter holidays will soon be upon us. I'm excited. I always am. I love the energy of the holiday season and the mission it gives our lives. But, for now, I'm content to hang around the house with the nectar collectors and invite my jewelry Muse to lead me back to my workbench. Happy autumn, to all of you in the northern hemisphere, and happy spring to those down under.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer in the Northern Hemisphere...

Summertime, and the living is easy... maybe even for the artists on the Artisan Anthology team. Each week, this little international team publishes a collage of our recent work and this is this week's collage. 

Here in the subtropics of the U.S., we're having a warm, muggy summer. It's been a little atypical, in this time of climate change, with some cool spells breaking up the heat and humidity every once in awhile.

In the north, artists participate in nearly weekly art shows and festivals, but in the deep south, we hibernate for awhile and then get busy for autumn and the winter holidays. 

Taking a quick glance at my calendar, I realize I must get busy soon!

But this summer, for me, has been about building infrastructure for the next long, happy phase of our lives. Creating onsite storage, new outside living areas, a screened porch and a new home studio has been the work of summer around here.

From that platform, I hope to get back to creating new work. Having my studio at home again will let my nightowl tendences grow more productive again. This time the studio is as far from our bedroom as I can locate it, so I can do all but the noisiest of production activities late into the night.

At this point, my Railroad Square studio is a thing of the past, for me. But my studio mate, Valerie will continue her work there and she's getting a new studio mate -- one of my favorite people! -- in my place. And I will continue my close association with both artists there, even though I'll be working at home.

The focus of my jewelry business is shifting to my online shop on Etsy, a few galleries I supply with works, and a few local activities -- including meeting up with friends for coffee, bringing my work along. If you're local and would like to meet up with me, contact me via my Facebook fan page and leave a message!

The link to my fan page:

And my work is always available in my Etsy shop. See the slideshow from that shop in the sidebar, to the right side of this blog page.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


For the past several years, I have been making my jewelry in a studio outside of my home. During that time, I produced work for the big art shows I have done over the past 20 years.

This past spring, I decided to 'retire' from doing shows I have to travel to.

I decided to put my efforts into building my online business on Etsy. And to move my studio workspace back home. Though I have loved my commercial studio and have produced and sold quite a lot of art jewelry there, I thought the time had come to integrate my creative and domestic lives again, into one. And a health issue has arisen over the past year, requiring me to take full charge of my nutrition and food preparation at a level I'd never had to before. Having my workspace at the same location as my kitchen has become necessary.

Preparing my home and the property around it has been critical to moving my studio home. This summer is all about getting those projects done to make it possible to live and work happily where we live.

I'm excited about having this come together. In a few weeks' time it will be accomplished and I will then take an early autumn trip and then settle down to make new jewelry in my new studio. This pic is one view of my new workspace! (You can see Clover's little bed in the bottom right corner.) This is where the magic will happen!

Monday, May 5, 2014


This is the most recent collage of new works by the Artisan Anthology team on Etsy. 

Once known as "Etsy's Best Kept Secrets," our team's name changed in late 2013 when we ran a naming contest and offered a fun necklace comprised of charms by each of the team's members.

This week, it was again my turn to produce the collage and I was drawn to the aquas and teals, mixed with rich warm colors. I think it turned out beautifully. The team's work is gorgeous.

Items C and E are mine. You can see who's made each of these pieces if you'll visit the Artisan Anthology blog. I'll provide the link to that, below.

Late April-into-May is a busy time for me this year. I'm between trips, an art show and a buying show. Life is demanding. And I'm still sorting out my jewelry inventory and revamping my shop on Etsy.

A limited version of CityRusticJewelry on Etsy is open now. The little slide show app on the right side of my blog page will take you there.

Soon, there will be much more available in my online shop on Etsy.

Soon. As in when I get back from my next trip and have the chance to list new items!

Meanwhile, I'm trying to catch up on rest, taking care of my nearly 90-year-old mom, reorganizing my studio and cleaning my house, which sorely needs it following the blizzard of activity it went through in the lead-up to the show!

Be sure to click on the link, below, to visit the Artisan Anthology blog, to enjoy all the details of this collage of what the team made this week!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Changes in the air...


I find myself at a crossroads these days, contemplating next steps in business and creativity.

Just as Ruth Stout, author of "How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back," felt about being able to garden into advanced old age, I want to be a metalsmith until the end.

At left, some gemstone cabochons I've used in pendants... on my way to the gem show to acquire some new ones!

The thing is, I'm already getting older just as I'm getting better at what I do, at what I love to do. I want to keep going. I'm not ready for the adventure to end.

But, I'm finding that doing outdoor art shows -- especially those far away from the city I live in -- just saps me. And they're not as profitable as they once were. Everyone I've ever known who's done shows says pretty much the same thing.

I'm also not really a 'digital native.' Computers and cell phones and social networks were not around when I was young. Not even when I was in college, or raising my young son, or getting started in jewelry design -- which is my third career! I think I've learned a lot for a 'geezer girl,' and am certainly ahead of most of my contemporaries in this regard. But algorithms still mystify me and I find I just don't want to do some of the things one 'has' to do to ensure online success.

What I want to do is to go more deeply into artmaking, not just merchandise making. And I find that art shows require a lot of merchandise to fill a booth. Maybe more than any other business model. And so, while I sold a fair number of pieces at my recent show, I have many more that I pushed myself to make. And these wonderful things will soon fill my Etsy shop.

Right now, my two Etsy shops are on hiatus. I closed them for the art show to be sure I didn't double-sell anything in the shop. And also to give myself some time to revamp one of my shops with delicious new things not seen there before. It'll reopen in later May and this link will take you there:

Meanwhile, I hope you'll stay in touch with me via my Facebook fan page, City/Rustic Jewelry (Tana McLane):   There, we can dialogue and you can keep up with my art jewelry news.

Before I reopen my shop, I will be traveling again, this time to a gem show to acquire semi-precious gemstones for new pieces I envision.

I'll spend the summer exploring some new ideas and recapturing some old ones, too. And I'll see you farther down this road.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Magical Thinking

Spring is always the magical season for me. And I spend time working hard in my studio, making new works for the season and for my biggest art show: Magic City Art Connection.

This year's show dates are: April 25-27. It takes place in downtown Birmingham, AL, in Linn Park.

This year, older and wiser, I've decided that I will place my two Etsy shops on hiatus while I'm in Birmingham. In fact, I'll put them on vacation beginning this Sunday. This will prevent the possibility of selling a piece at the show and then selling the same piece online, which would be problematic, since I produce one-of-a-kind pieces!

When I get back from Magic City I will reopen one of my shops, CityRusticJewelry. I'll evaluate my inventory, post-show, and consolidate my listings into my original shop, letting my newer shop, TanaMcLaneJewelry, remain open for awhile, to direct traffic to CityRustic. I've found that keeping two shops operating takes too much energy, energy I'd rather use in the production of new jewelry! 

I'll be sure to place an announcement here when CityRustic has reopened. Once I put it back together, I'll get busy in my studio again and create some new things to list in my shop.

I'd like to invite you to learn more about my work and studio by visiting my website:

And if you'd like to stay in touch and 'chat' with me, please visit and 'like' my Facebook page for City/Rustic Jewelry (Tana McLane) at: 

I love talking jewelry design and metalsmithing and often post my first pics of new work on my page. I'd love to dialogue with you about these things. Twenty years in, and I never tire of the subject. 

(Both of these pairs of earrings feature Cherry Creek Jasper cabochons, a stone that can present in many colors. The stones are set into fine silver onto sterling silver. The pendant's cabochon is a Painted Jasper, and that stone's colors are repeated in the array of stone and glass beads dangling below.)

Two years ago, I collected some interesting, pretty semi-precious stone cabochons and then my father became ill and passed away, and I never built the jewelry for those stones. The next year was so very busy. But this late winter/early spring, I pulled the stones out and felt very inspired by them. I have made them the basis of this spring's collection.

I'm very excited about this new work, which a fan has called 'deceptively simple.' I like the power of merging organic design with either loads of detail or, quite the opposite, almost austere minimalism, letting the materials do the talking.

Many interesting pieces are still listed in both my Etsy shops until this Sunday, April 20 (Easter Day), so you still have time to browse!

CityRusticJewelry on Etsy: 

TanaMcLaneJewelry on Etsy:

And, one more note in this blog post filled with notes...  the former Etsy's Best Kept Secrets team, of which I am a member, changed its name and online presence to 'Artisan Anthology.' I haven't had time to change the old Etsy's Best Kept Secrets meme on this blog or my website to the new identity yet (another task waiting for my return from Magic City), but here is the Facebook address for Artisan Anthology's Facebook page. Through this page, you can also reach our Artisan Anthology blog, where we publish a weekly collage of what we have made!

Artisan Anthology Facebook fan page: 

Looking forward to talking with you again in a few weeks!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Winter Report from North Florida...

North Florida's winter takes forever to get here and then is spotty on any given day. It's been as warm as 80F degrees in the past week here, but tomorrow night it will be 28F degrees! The temps will be all over the map before our typical solidly hot weather arrives to stay for a long summer season.

I've been resting, jewelry-wise, since New Year's, but am getting back into the flow again. Making it to the studio several times a week, so new things are in the works. I'll be posting new pics of finished things soon. But I thought you'd like a look at what's on my workbenches today.

As with most metalsmiths, I don't spend money on professional manicures! The grits of the grinding and polishing wheels used on my Foredom flex shaft tool are no friends of nail polish or satin buffings. I'm doing well if most of my nails are unbroken and smooth. (But I do treat myself to a pro pedicure occasionally! Nothing more luxurious than that...)

A lot of new things are currently underway and I'm experimenting with some new ideas. My studio partner, Valerie, is working with a laser cutter these day and the little chipboard houses you see sitting on my bench in this pic were cut that way. I'll tell you more about them in a bit.

Meanwhile, five copper trapezoids await surface embellishments and design. I make about six of these necklaces each year. A visit to my Etsy shop will show you the ones I have listed right now.

I'm also experimenting with making my own copper bezels, as seen in the large pendant underway, with the gray Senoran Dendritic Rhyolite pendant on the left side of the pic. And nearly finished sterling earwires await their final polishing so their ends become smooth and comfortable. 

If you look at these copper pieces closely, you'll see Valerie's laser-cut houses embossed into them. They're pretty subtle and I'm trying to decide if they'll make good jewelry pieces or not. I'll likely link these four into a single bracelet with handmade joinery hardware.

I embossed the houses into the metal with my rolling mill.

Peeking from under the wooden tray are the feet of my tiny anvils in the wire basket. I never use them, but love having them in my studio. One was given to me by my mother-in-law. The others I have collected along the way.

These six fold-formed pieces have been annealed and are drying after being quenched. My acetylene torch has also given them an interesting heat patina. That patina will ebb and flow, as they will be annealed several more times before they are opened, polished, re-torched, and then tumbled to reveal their final color. These six are destined to be on a new necklace design I'm working on. (The rectangular piece at the top is simply a piece of textured copper I'll use at some point.)

I use the hammer-and-anvil method of fold-forming, rather than a press or rolling mill. There are many ways to fold-form metal, but I like the method that gives me the most control over the results I want: an organic, leafy look.

Fold-forming is one of the newest forms of metalsmithing on earth.

Two pairs of fold-formed copper leaf earrings feature greenish labradorite stone beads and bits of silver. In this design, I place the beads on a handmade headpin inside the fold so that the pods cradle the embellishments.

But these are beautiful from the back side, too. Here, the central fold shows, as well as hammer-mark veins and contours.

These leaves have been ground and polished and then tumbled in steel shot so that all edges are smooth. Tumbling also makes their patinas more durable.

But, copper is a reactive metal and will change over time, influenced by the atomosphere and body chemistry of the wearer. I don't coat my metals with spray products.

I am enamored of leaves and flowers in my work and I have decided that my spring collection will feature a lot of them. I am resurrecting my 'Imagined Botanicals' series and will post more new work as it is ready. Meanwhile, please take a look at the botanical work in both my Etsy shops!

One more favorite to share! A pendant with a sunny goldenrod-yellow Mustard Jasper cabochon. Set into fine silver on reclaimed brass.

Best wishes to all of you everywhere dealing with a harsh winter this season! Hold on a little longer and we'll see spring arrive.