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.

No comments:

Post a Comment