Updates… and a GIVEAWAY! [UPDATED]

Last week, I talked a little about a revelatory experience I had in the studio – an idea that came to me more or less fully-formed and that I was able to execute pretty much as I envisioned. I’ve been playing with it a lot – probably more than any other thing right now – and here’s a photo of one of the pieces that’s come out of that:

 

Handmade Artisan Jewelry by Francesca Watson Designs
 

This piece – and the others I’m working on – is inspired by scenes from my childhood. It’s intended to recall the small stones and patterns left in the sand when waves pull back from the beach. When I was four, my parents divorced and my mother was left a single mother in a time when that wasn’t the norm or widely accepted. We were living in Manhattan and she was eager to find a way to give us time outside of the city. She and her married best friends pooled their very limited resources and bought a small house on Shelter Island, New York, out between the forks of Long Island. It’s now a haven for the wealthy, but 45 years ago it was a remote small town on a little island about as different from Manhattan as you could get. And my mother, God bless her, would pack up me and my two-year-old brother on weekends and take the train all the way out to the end of Long Island, get on the ferry to Shelter Island from Greenport, and then walk from the ferry all the way to our little house, carrying my brother and our single suitcase the whole way. We didn’t have a lot of money – my mother and the husband in the other couple were free-lance musicians, so we lived on thrift store clothes and hand-me-downs and budget meals. She and our fiends would arrange their schedules so that us kids could spend entire summers away from the big city, playing on the beach and in the woods and climbing trees and chasing fireflies. For $5 each summer, we could get a license to go clamming and fishing, so we ate a lot of clams, mussels and fish caught off the dock, supplemented by the fresh produce from the farm stand down the road from our house. As kids we spent whole days biking around the island or hitch-hiking to the library – it was an amazing childhood, and of course, I had no appreciation for it until long after I grew up.

So I’m working on refining these pieces, which are very evocative and emotional for me. They are probably the first pieces I’ve made that have such personal meaning beyond the making of them, and I want to get them right. I’m also trying to decide whether to call this series the Shelter Island series or the Water and Sand series. What do you think?

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And guess what? There’s a giveaway today! My friend Melanie Shankle (aka Big Mama) is having her first book published early next year. To celebrate, I made her a pair of earrings… and I made an extra pair for her to give away to one of her readers.

Handmade Artisan Jewelry by Francesca Watson Designs

So head on over to her place for details and a chance to win! [UPDATE: Mel is leaving the comments open through noon on Monday, so you can enter to win all weekend!]

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Tonight, I start a three-day series of classes with Thomas Mann. I’m a little nervous – for two reasons. First, he’s starting with a class in using a jeweler’s saw, which is a skill I desperately need to learn.It’s a three hour class, so we’ll have to be focused and efficient with our time – and I have these nightmares of being “that” student who just can’t get it right and who bogs the whole thing down. Second, Thomas is one of those scary-talented people who just seems to see and perceive things on a whole different level. I just hope I don’t embarrass myself.

I hope you have a great weekend! (Did you watch the VP debates last night? Don’t forget to vote on November 6!!!)

9 replies
  1. Susanne Wisyanski
    Susanne Wisyanski says:

    I love the name Shelter Island for the jewelry series – that name brings to mind and heart how our God is our shelter in life.

    Reply
    • Francesca
      Francesca says:

      What a great perspective, Suzanne. I’m still very much on the fence about it – Shelter Island may be too personal a reference. I’m still at the stage where I get emotional about the work – it speaks so powerfully to me!! So I don’t think I can make a decision about the naming right now – too close to it. Thanks so much for your input – I’m filing it away for the time when I have to make the call! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Katie Hanrahan
    Katie Hanrahan says:

    I love the name Shelter Island for the jewelry line. And what a wonderful story of your childhood! The island truly was a Shelter for you kids to have wonderful childhood experiences outside the city.

    Have FUN with Thomas Mann’s class. If it’s not fun, what’s the point? The trick to using a jeweler’s saw is to keep the saw straight up and down, and to relax your hand and arm – keep it loose and let the saw do the work. You’ll be fine!

    Reply
    • Francesca
      Francesca says:

      Thank you so much, Katie – and I had a blast in the class. It really stretched me – I was working completely outside my usual design aesthetic, among other things, and when you add in the newly-learned skill of sawing that was integral to the success of the projects, it was a taxing few days. All good, but tiring! 🙂

      Reply
  3. CraftyHope
    CraftyHope says:

    While it sounds like a heck of a time for your mom, your memories of Shelter Island are really fabulous. You’ve made me miss my childhood somewhat. The piece you’ve shown for the series is really lovely. As far as naming them, I think Shelter Island might be perfect since that’s more personal. . .and your series is more personal than a generic ‘Water and Sand’ name. As well, something that specific might be better for branding as well. Just an idea though.

    Reply
    • Francesca
      Francesca says:

      Thanks so much for that – without exception, everyone picked Shelter Island for this series, so that’s what I’m going to go with. Thanks so much for the input – the show is this weekend, and I’m excited to see how people respond to them!

      Reply

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