Lots of stuff in the works…

What a busy summer it’s been, and I am so looking forward to the next couple of months. I can say with certainly that I see God’s fingerprints all over my life right now, and it feels so good! Mark your calendars now for a big announcement here and on the Roadhouse Arts Facebook page on October 1 – some very exciting things happening, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

In the meantime, here’s a little glimpse into what’s been going on in my life:

Beadfest Philly 2015

This was my first time teaching for Beadfest, and I had a BLAST! I had wonderful students…

Steve, one of my students in a chain workshop, repairs musical instruments. He showed us a new way of wrapping our charcoal blocks that makes the wire tighter. I love sharing what we know!!

Awesome Keum Boo and Roll Printing Students….

…. and their gorgeous work. We had so much fun!!

I don’t often get a lot of men in my workshop – but Al completely rocked it!

I really don’t do “selfies” but we made a couple of exceptions – this was such a fun group!

And then several of us went to dinner at the most amazing Italian place – I got all emotional about the food. No joke.

Janet asked a simple question that transformed how I’ll teach a fused chain workshop from this point forward. It makes me so happy when we get to share ideas and energy in a creative environment!

… met friends old and new …

Two of my favorite artists… Richard Salley and Gary Wilson. I spent way more at Gary’s booth than I should have!

This is probably one of my favorite photos from Beadfest – my dear friend and helper Letty Wilde and the very wonderful Richard Salley. This hour of friendship and talk and sharing meant a lot to me!

… and even caught up with some of my Art Jewelry Elements teammates (I haven’t met most of them in person, amazingly).

Me with the awesome Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Studios

And from across The Pond, Lesley Watt of Thea Elements – so wonderful to meet her at last!

New explorations

I had a chance to dig into some new work that has grown out of the design intensive at our Metals Retreat this past spring, with my dear friend Melissa Muir and Connie Fox, my new dear friend, whose work inspired me to dip my toes into metalsmithing to begin with six or so years ago. (Ahem. You really and truly are going to want to mark your calendars for the October 1 announcement. Just sayin’.) Friends Andre and Virginia Bally of Bally Studios put together Art in 3 Dimensions, an exhibition of dimensional work in clay, metal, glass and textiles, and I was so honored to have been asked to participate – like, in a real gallery and everything! If you’re in San Antonio, the show runs through September 29 at the Centro Cultural Atzlan – and if you’ve never heard of it, Centro Cultural Atzlan is one of the coolest little venues I’ve ever seen. Check it out!

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I also spent some time indulging my love of silks and silk dyes – I don’t get much time to experiment with it, but I took a day when I got back from Beadfest to dye up a bunch of scarves that had been sitting in my workroom, untouched. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out!

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New ways of connecting

It was on my list of goals for the year to start doing some videos from the studio, and I posted my first one this past week for the Art Jewelry Elements blog. Way, way back, I promised to do a post about taking care of jewelry hammers and it never materialized. This is my mea culpa!

The Homestead

The chickens are enormous…. but no eggs yet. I check every day, and every day my hopes are dashed. They’re pretty cute, though, and many evenings I am able to go out at dusk and sit on a straw bale and watch them be chickens while I sip a beverage before tucking them into their coop for the night.

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I was so busy I didn’t really get a fall garden planted in my new beds, but last week I did run out and snap up the last of the tomato, herb and pepper plants at the local nursery and I hope to get those in this week.

So, as usual, I’ve been going 120 miles per hour – but the busyness has mostly been really good and very fulfilling, and I am extremely excited about the path that is unspooling in front of me as I write this. I hope that as you’re heading into fall, life is treating you well and you are finding opportunities to create and connect with the experiences and the people that bring you joy and feed your spirit. More soon! Can’t wait to share!

Where I’ll Be…

It’s March already and time is just whizzing by. Lots of updates and photos and information coming, but in the meantime, I’ve added a link up above to a page with my teaching information. I’d love to have you come to Roadhouse for a play date, but I’m also going to be on the road this year – maybe that’s closer? Check it out and let me know if I’ll be seeing you at an upcoming event.

Gail and I just spent a week in the Texas Hill Country with Melissa Muir and Connie Fox – Connie is the reason I became interested in metals in the first place, so I had a little bit of that star-struck thing going on. Thankfully, she is just the nicest and most down-to-earth person and we had a really good time together. The retreat attendees were amazing – I even got to meet some of my online friends! But the best part was finding a voice and vision inside myself that I didn’t know existed – and I have a whole new excitement and inspiration waiting for me at the studio!

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My retreat project – roll printed scrap silver decorated with 24k gold, 18k gold, a tube-set peridot, and liver of sulfur.

Getting it together…

Earlier this week, I wrote a post over at Art Jewelry Elements about my reflections on 2014 and some things I want to do differently in 2015. I suppose I could sum it all up with one word: planning.

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This month is a time of recalibrating for me – I am so very pleased with so many of the things I accomplished last year, not least of which was the successful launch of Roadhouse Arts. That said, there are things I want to do better and things I want to be able to focus on and at the top of that list: more time making things and developing my “voice.” Towards that end, I temporarily pulled all my things out of the Roadhouse gallery so I can evaluate each piece of work and decide if it really represents my current skill level and aesthetic.

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It was a scary step but an oh-so-necessary one. A little judicious editing is necessary from time to time, so that I am putting my best creative foot forward the majority of the time. Along those lines, it’s way past time for an overhaul of this site – it’s nearly three years old and I’ve neglected it badly. In the works: new photo galleries of past and current work and an online shop, in addition to a new logo and blog layout.

And now my sweet Nick is retired, so the overall shape and pace of our days is dramatically different. The truth is that I love nothing more than hanging out in our new little house with my hubby, chatting, sipping coffee, reading, watching the news. The draw of being home with him is tough to work against, and it’s much harder to maintain the discipline of a schedule when the only one enforcing it is you!

So…. yes. Busy. But “good” busy, and grateful for a renewed sense of focus and purpose. Happy 2015! What does your year hold in store??

AJE Component of the Month – November edition!

I am late getting this post up today, mostly because I fussed and fussed over the components throughout the last week and only just got the design to where I wanted it last night. By then I had lost the light to take good photos and between church obligations this morning and getting run off the road on my way thereto (I’m fine and the car’s fine, thank God), this literally was the soonest possible opportunity.

So, with apologies to Kristen Stevens, this month’s component hostess, here is my offering:

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One of the things I love about doing these monthly challenges is that it encourages us to work with components and materials that we wouldn’t otherwise work with on a regular basis. Kristen sent us these very beautiful beaded circles, which I have long admired but which I probably wouldn’t have ever picked for myself. Although I occasionally do some beading, I’m really all about metal and rocks, and the beading I do doesn’t play well with metal (yet).

Even so, these proved to be more of a challenge for me to work with than I was expecting. My initial design was a necklace, where I planned to use these as connectors, and while I liked the idea in theory, the whole thing wound up looking really forced so I scrapped it. (Because I like the theory, though, I’m probably going to go back and revisit the concept in some way….) Then I came up with the idea of nested silver rings as the starting point for earrings, so I fused some Argentium links together – it took me a couple of tries before I got them the size and shape I wanted.

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And this is the point where I really stalled out – I just could not come up with a connector between the two components that looked right. I tried everything: fabric, leather, wire, cord. It all looked…. not right. Not bad, just not right. Kristen’s beaded circles are very lightweight, but both components have a significant visual weight and everything I tried looked too “poofty” with them or too overbearing. (“Poofty” is a technical term.)

I was closed to scrapping the whole design and starting over when I decided to take a break and clean off my bench to clear my head. Lo and behold, I uncovered a long piece of 12 gauge half-round sterling under the pile of crap works in progress mess, and one end was bent into a half circle. I made oval jump rings out of it, and then textured the curved surface by just pressing my round-nose pliers into at random intervals. They feel clean and simple, but have enough visual weight to hold their own against the other components without overwhelming them.

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I rarely sell my Component of the Month pieces, because they seem like documents to me – documents of a new place in my creative journey, a mile-marker of sorts, that defines a point in time. I love these earrings, not just because they include something made by my friend Kristen, but also because they represent a creative struggle that was overcome. I’ll be wearing them a lot.

To see what everyone else came up with, head on over to the Art Jewelry Elements blog and check out all the links. And don’t forget to leave a little comment love as you hop through the designs!

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

I have just gotten back from a wonderful week in Salt Lake City with the amazing Melissa Muir.

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In addition to some badly needed play time, I took photos of several projects for her new book. We had a blast and I got to have a road trip, which is one of my favorite things.

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I’m safely home again and spent all day yesterday teaching a class with two of my favorite students – so much fun. I put together a tutorial about one of our projects over on the Art Jewelry Elements blog today – check it out.

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And today is the birthday of my sweet husband, Nick. I can hardly talk about him these days without becoming emotional with gratitude for him. Funny, generous, wise, loving, selfless – there really aren’t words to capture the man that he is. His retirement is coming up fast, and honestly? We can’t wait. On this birthday, the greatest gift I can think of to give him (besides the studio we’re building him after the first of the year!) are my passionate prayers for years and years and years of rest, creativity, and renewed purpose. He’s been painting up a storm, and I am so excited to see what this next season brings him. Happy birthday, babe – I love you and I thank God for you every single day.

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