Monday, January 30, 2017

01.30.17 Art Grabs Back

Emily Cawood - Art Grabs Back
Is anyone else's head spinning?  January just flew by - and the turmoil of the past 48 hours had kept me from thinking about anything other than the national news.

Even as I go about my routine - and put up a weekly blog post on - it's important to remember this is not normal.

Now more than ever - I believe art matters.

I have an especially talented friend who has launched a new FB page devoted to her political cartoons and other resistance art. It's called Art Grabs Back (I can take partial credit for the name). You should be following her.

Back at the bench - check out my Etsy store for the finished pieces

I'm been back at the bench - which is especially therapeutic.  Being able to create is a form of self care - which we all need for balance as we stand up to injustice.

I attended BlogathonATX over the weekend - it was incredibly informing and inspiring.  The blogging community has an important role to play in making people's voices heard. There will be a full post about that very soon...

I created a special pendant - also called Art Grabs Back - which I auctioned off on Instragram over the weekend.  It sold for more than $150 - and all the proceeds will be donated to civil and reproductive rights organizations.  I'm thinking about creating more pieces where a portion of the sale will support organizations working for social justice.

I also hit a milestone this month - I sold four pieces, and as a result covered all my studio and supply costs for the month! Not paying myself for my time - yet - but definitely getting there.

So, my apologies for this very short offering - but I'll be back with more soon.

Until next time.

Monday, January 23, 2017

01.23.17 Lady Bird

LBJ School Class of 87 with Mrs. Johnson at the Ranch
Being a metalsmith is my newly found alter-ego.  For most of my adult life, I've been a policy wonk. 

At 22, I relocated to Austin to attend the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.  Never expected to stay here - but it was the best move I ever made.  I found my professional calling in education policy, I made friendships that are now in their third decade, I met my husband, and I had the pleasure and privilege of multiple interactions with Lady Bird Johnson.

Photo Credit: Wildflower Center
Every year, Mrs. Johnson invited the first year class out to the LBJ Ranch for a "get to know you" event.  She was warm, and gracious, and funny - and she had memorized something about each of us. In advance of the visit, we were asked to provide personal information for security reasons, and one thing we wanted Mrs. Johnson to know about us - I shared that I had worked for her son in law, Chuck Robb, on one of his campaigns, and had come to Texas from the University of Virginia, where her granddaughter was a student.  She worked these details into the conversation when we were introduced.  

Over the course of the next several years while I was still in school, and then out and about in Austin, I would run into her occasionally - and even if she couldn't remember my name - she recognized me and always said hello.  She is the only First Lady I have ever met, and to this day, she remains an inspiration.

Photo credit: Vickie Hallmark
Her focus as First Lady was the beautification of America, and her legacy is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.   Texas is famous for its wildflowers - and I look forward to them every spring.  As corny as it sounds, my heart leaps a little bit when I see the first few bluebonnets blooming in the green spaces throughout the city.

Wildflowers have been cropping up in my jewelry recently, too.  First it was the pair of bluebonnet earrings I commissioned from Vickie Hallmark, after taking her metal clay and argentium class.  

Then I bought a millefiori glass heart from an auction on the Cabs and Slabs Facebook page.  The pattern in the glass made me think of wildflowers, so I cut a Texas out of the backplate, and called it my "Lady Bird" Love Note.

Within minutes of posting photos of the pendant, I had a message from a bride who is getting married later this year at the Wildflower Center - she bought it as a wedding gift for her mom.  My heart just about exploded!  This is the second time someone has chosen one of my Love Note pendants as a gift for a member of their wedding party, and I am so honored that my work is going to be part of such a special day.

I'm starting my year with a regular schedule of being in the studio two days a week, and not only am I finding the work therapeutic and fulfilling, but it's making other people happy, too.

That's the best part of metalsmithing.

Until next time.

Monday, January 16, 2017

01.16.17 Serendipkitty

Some days you go into the studio and the magic just HAPPENS!

That was the case right before the end of last year when the lovely folks at Creative Side had a studio "playdate" and holiday party.  The invitation was to spend an afternoon at the bench with the staff and other members (renters) creating, visiting and having treats.  It was a truly special day.

I had just finished my last holiday commission - and I didn't have anything in progress. That wasn't going to stop me from attending - I figured I'd make it up as I went along.

I pulled out my stones and started looking through them, and decided I to use one of the surfite cabochons I'd ordered a few months before.
Surfite (striped) and glass cabs

What is surfite, you ask? It's reclaimed surfboard resin, which is cut into cabochons, very much like Fordite (which I've written about before).  I'd been eyeing pieces for a while, and I finally bought some. The photo really doesn't do the bright colors justice - but they are terrific.

Often, but not always, I decide what I am going to put on the back of a pendant before I start working...but because I went into the studio without an idea, I fiddled around with a few designs before I decided...

Ultimately, a fat cat spoke to me - I pulled out my fabulous Green Lion saw and got started.  Have I mentioned how much I love this saw?  Everything I cut seems to go more quickly and smoothly since I bought it.  I'm sure practice has something to do with it - but the right tool makes a huge difference.

The cat required almost no filing, neither did this "Texas" I did for another project...but I digress...
Moving right along, I assembled the bezel and twisted wire for the setting, and lit up my torch.  The soldering and fusing gods were smiling on me, and the pieces went together almost effortlessly.  I joked with my benchmates, it must have been because I wasn't under any pressure, because the metal wasn't giving me any trouble.

...and so it went for the rest of the afternoon...eating treats, sharing good company and putting together my pendant.  It was, by far, one of the finest days I've ever had at the bench.

I was so pleased with finished piece - which I have named "Serendipkitty" because of the manner in which it came together - that I've kept it, and worn it a lot in the past few weeks.

I'm truly grateful that my husband encouraged me (last fall) to accelerate my schedule for becoming a member at Creative Side - and not wait until January.  I've been able to spend as much time as I wanted at the bench, I sold several pieces - both custom orders and from Etsy - over the holidays, and most importantly, I've deepened my connections to a wonderful community of artists.
I hope your holidays were filled with happiness, and that 2017 - despite it's inauspicious start - is full of good things for all of us.  I'm headed back to the studio to work on putting more art and beauty out in the world.

Until next time.

Monday, January 2, 2017

01.02.17 In with the new...

No "real" post today - just enjoying having our daughter at home for a couple more weeks of college break, and remembering my mom, from whom I inherited my love of jewelry.

Happy New Year.

Until next time.