Monday, November 28, 2016

11.28.16 Thankful

My mother in law's beautiful Thanksgiving table
Thanksgiving was wonderful.  We spent it at my mother in law's with all three of our children, and both our sons brought their girlfriends for the weekend.  It reminded me of all I have to be grateful for...

Let's start with my husband, who has supported and encouraged me for nearly 25 years.  Without him there would be no blog, no jewelry, no opportunity for me to make art and support the work of others.

My children, my daughter who will turn 21 in just a few days and my (step) sons, I've written about them before - I call them my "gift with purchase" for marrying their dad.  They are the source of limitless joy and pride, and have grown into some of the finest adults I know.

My mother in law, boy did I hit the jackpot.  Not only is she the best Mimi any kid could ask for, but she has been there for me - especially in the years since my own mother died.  She also puts out an amazing holiday meal year after year.

My friends, old and new, real life and virtual.  You have cheered me on, read my blog (almost 10,000 times), and bought my jewelry.

Creative Side - the staff, teachers and my fellow students and benchmates.  I learn something new every time I walk through the doors - and look forward to being at the bench for a long, long time.

I try to get up and count my blessings - which are so many - every day.  It seemed appropriate to take a moment and share my gratitude with all of you.

Until next time.

Monday, November 21, 2016

11.21.16 Shop Local upDATE - Holiday Art Fairs 2016

If this post looks a little familiar, it's because I wrote about my three favorite local holiday art fairs around this time last year - and I thought you all might like updated information on dates and locations (especially if you didn't see last year's post).

Blue Genie Art Bazaar – November 25 – December 24
Cherrywood Art Fair, December 10 and 11
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar – December 14 – 24

Photo credit: CHULA

While it’s the smallest of the three, the Cherrywood Art Fair is nearest and dearest to my heart.  Started in 2002 as a way to support neighborhood artists and elementary school art programs, it has grown into a very big deal.  In 2003 it moved to Maplewood Elementary school (our neighborhood school), where it is now one of the most anticipated events of the holiday season.  With over one hundred artists, musical performances and food vendors, it is great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Not only can you support these great artists through your purchases, a portion of the proceeds from the event goes to support the Little Artist BIG ARTIST program.

Since 2007, Little Artist BIG ARTIST has provided an opportunity for fifth-graders from East Austin elementary schools to work with BIG ARTISTS to create their own art.  BIG ARTISTS provide their time and professional experience as working artists to guide their Little Artists to envision, plan, and create at least two pieces of artwork during their 10 week one-on-one collaboration.  The artwork is part of a silent auction each year at the Cherrywood Art Fair.

Photo credit: Blue Genie Art Bazaar
Just up the road a piece - in their new location at 6100 Airport Boulevard - and open for nearly a month starting the day after Thanksgiving, is the Blue Genie Art Bazaar.

What started as some creative people deciding to have a little holiday fun has become one of my favorite must shop Austin holiday traditions.

According to the history on their website - "The first Blue Genie Art Bazaar was held in 2001 at the Blue Genie Art Industries (BGA) shop, where we mostly sold items made by Blue Genie employees. Without putting much thought into it, we built a few walls, hung up some clip lights, and swept the floor — and then we opened the doors. It was quickly apparent that we had something exciting on our hands. Now, the bazaar features the handmade, unique work of over 130 artists, whom we select from a talented pool of more than 300 applicants. We have spent over a decade refining the bazaar, and we’re quite proud of what it has grown into."

I ALWAYS find something at Blue Genie, sometimes it's even something for me!

Photo credit: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
Art by Aly Winningham

The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is the oldest and longest running of the fairs.  If you REALLY want to make a day of it - get tickets to Ballet Austin's Nutcracker (which runs through December 23, right next door at the Long Center for the Performing Arts), then stroll over to the Palmer Events Center for a different kind of Texas culture.

With artists from all over the country, it's not just a great place to shop for gifts - but a wonderful way to entertaining out of town friends and family wandering from booth to booth while hearing great Texas music.

In case you can't one or more of these events - or aren't fortunate enough to get to Austin at all - here are links to a few of the Austin-based jewelry artists I've shopped with over the years:

adaptive reUse - Christine Terrell uses vintage tins to make one of a kind earrings, necklaces, belt buckles and cufflinks.
Dish it Out Jewelry - Holli Brown brakes vintage plates - and turns them into wonderful earrings, pendants and bracelets.
Fail Jewelry - Christine Fail works in gold, silver, brass and gemstones to create beautiful contemporary wearable art
Lisa Crowder Jewelry - Lisa Crowder creates distinctive floral and geometric jewelry in silver, gold and enamel.
Metalsgirl - Lisa Gibson combines stones and silver in wonderful, colorful, wearable works of art.
Poppy & Fern - Rachel Pruitt creates tiny embroidered works of art to wear on a chain or hang on the wall.
Steve Kriechbaum Goldsmith - Steve Kriechbaum is a master bench jeweler working in precious metals and gemstones.  Fun fact - he and his associate Nora McMullen are also instructors at Creative Side Jewelry Academy.
Stones Throw Studio -  Kyle Goss works primarily with silver and stones to make jewelry with an organic look and feel.

Happy shopping - and stay tuned for at least one more "shop local" post.

Until next time.

Monday, November 14, 2016

11.14.16 Holding it together... feels like that's what a lot of us our trying to do right now.  In the few days since the US Presidential election, we are trying to hold ourselves, our communities and our country together...and we're doing it with safety pins.

Such a simple thing, the safety pin.  I always have a few of them in my handbag - most moms I know do, too.

A few years ago, when a friend of mine got married, the bustle on her gown wouldn't stay buttoned up during the reception.  "Do you have a safety pin?" she asked.  I did, and so did a few other guests;  we pinned up the hem and bustle of her dress and danced with her.  It was a beautiful wedding and a lovely memory.

Photo credit - adaptive reuse

You may start to see more safety pins over the next few weeks - for reasons much darker than my wedding memory.  People have begun wearing them to hold together the fabric of our nation.

It took almost no time after the election ended for acts of violence to begin -  directed at women, people of color, religious and ethnic minorities and members of the LBGTQ community.  As are most of the people I know - regardless of political inclination - I am saddened to see just how deeply divided we are as a country,  and desperately wanted to do something, ANYTHING, to outwardly demonstrate my objection to this kind of behavior.  I am an ally, and I want everyone who is fearful to know that.

Photo credit: JenniferHeartsArt
Then I started to see the posts about safety pins.  It started in Britain, after the Brexit vote - so similar to our own election - which spurred violent outbreaks.  Over the past few days, it has come across the pond to America, people are wearing them, and the hashtag #safetypin has reappeared on social media. 

Some Austin artists have started making safety pin jewelry.  One is making safety pin necklaces, with the proceeds going to SafePlace, a non-profit organization that serves the survivors of abuse and neglect, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence. Another is making small upcycled solidarity hearts to be worn on the pins.

Photo credit: BuzzFeed

It's a good thing, a small thing, you can do easily - BUT DON'T DO IT WITHOUT A PLAN.  Wearing a safety pin is not about making you - the wearer - feel better, it is about sending a visual message to someone being harassed or bullied that you are a safe person and willing to help them.

BuzzFeed has a great video based on this illustration - and this technique can be used when any type of harassment is taking place. If you witness this kind of behavior, you can report it to the Southern Poverty Law Center. SPLC is tracking hate crimes in the wake of the election.

Don't stop with a a safety pin, because it is a short term solution. Our national fabric is ripped in so many places - and mending will require vast amounts time, energy and standing up for each other. 

Until next time.

Monday, November 7, 2016

11.07.16 Shop Local: Lea Smith Designs

Halloween is over.  Merchants, if they haven't already, are pulling out the winter holiday decorations, and folks are starting to think about gift giving!  To be honest, I think about it pretty much all year - because I have two kiddos with December birthdays, and eight nights of Hanukkah for all three of them - so if I waited, just wouldn't be pretty.

Last year I wrote about the wonderful, creative people I have gotten to know and work with at Creative Side (follow the link and read about them again), and this year, I'd like to add my fellow CSJA member and frequent benchmate, Lea - of Lea Smith Designs.

Lea and I are at opposite ends of the "mom-ing" adventure, my kiddos are all out of the house, and hers are little - but her "leap" into jewelry is motivated by the same things that lead me to set up my consulting business nearly twenty years ago...she wanted more flexibility and control over her own time.   She started her business just two years ago, and between developing her "modern bohemian" designs and doing custom work, she's up and running - and following her dream.

I've already shared the story of the petrified palm earrings I bought from Lea, before she'd even finished them - but I'd like to tell you a little more about her - and give you the chance to shop for yourselves!

I love her work - she uses great stones, and has a real eye for putting together pieces that catch your attention without being overwhelming.  This one of a kind bracelet - which she calls "Modern Magic" is a wonderful example of how she mixes complementary stones - in this case labradorite and amazonite - together.   The look great with the Zebra feather earrings, too.

Lea also designs beautiful necklaces and pendants that can be dressed up or down.  Her necklaces, such as the Omicient (shown above) or the Ocean Bell, (shown below) can be layered or worn on their own.

This post is just a small sample of the great stuff that Lea has on her website - and I encourage you spend some time perusing all her work with your shopping list in hand.

Until next time - remember to shop local!