Friday, January 12, 2018

Polymer Clay Daily...

What a wonderful surprise to wake up to!  Thank you, Cynthia Tinapple for spotlighting my coin pendants and for all that you do for the polymer clay community! I appreciate the mention and all your hard work! CLICK HERE to take a gander at the article.

What are some words that you hold dear as words of empowerment or encouragement?  Are there any sentiments that you love and have a special meaning for you?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New Horizons...

On Sunday evening, the Golden Globes award ceremony aired.  A highlight of the festivities included Oprah Winfrey receiving the Cecil B. DeMille award and giving a poignant and timely acceptance speech.

Now... before I continue... if you're looking for an article about whether or not Oprah Winfrey should run for president in 2020, keep on scrolling.  This is not about that.

This IS about finding inspiration in her words.  If  you missed it, you should definitely search it out and watch the video.  If that isn't an option, here is an excerpt from the transcript:

"In my career, what I've always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave.  To say how we experience shame, how we love, and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome.  I've interviewed and portrayed people who have withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights.  So I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon... and, when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody every has to say Me Too again."

I watched the speech several times, allowing the rhythm of her words and the cadence of her voice stink in.  We live in a very exciting and scary time, a time when silenced voices are finally being heard.  The conversations aren't always easy.  Sometimes they're acutely difficult, rehashing some of the most traumatic experiences a person has carried with them.  Some may argue with my usage of the word "exciting", but if you've ever been told to sit down and shut up, being able to finally speak your truth is very exciting.  Allowing your voice to be heard is empowering and cathartic.

After I let the speech soak in, I was inspired to create something.  I believe in the power of creativity and how we can craft better lives for ourselves through the things we make and how we express ourselves.  Again, it goes back to allowing your voice to be heard, even if it's spoken in the language of images and adornment.  I made this polymer clay coin pendant with a quote from her speech.  I carved the mold, pressed each one out, and then finished them with coats of paint and protective sealer.  In the design, I wanted the daybreak to peak up over a jagged horizon, a symbolic mountain range, because we as a society have certainly had insurmountable obstacles in the past that were once thought to be unscalable.  The light still comes and the clouds depart.  Hope persists. #timesup

If you're interested in acquiring one of these as a personal talisman for yourself or for someone you love, they will be added to the Allegory Gallery Etsy shop soon.  So keep your eyes peeled for them to debut.

Temperance & the Bat...

1/10: Temperance,  The Wild Unknown TarotBat The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Good News...

Yesterday, over on Facebook, I teased that I had some good news!  I had all kinds of guesses about what the news actually was.  Lots of really interesting thoughts!  The actual good news is that I'll be going to Tucson for the annual gem and mineral shows! With all the house stuff, I didn't think I'd be going this year.  With the rare exception, I've been going almost every year for over a decade.  So it'll be nice to go back.  I really like Tucson and think it's a great city!  Plus it is made even better with the influx of some of my favorite jewelry-making people.

So... where will I be?  I'll be at the Whole Bead Show at the Viscount Suite Hotel.  I'll be helping out at my family's booth.  So, come see me and Cynthia at the Green Girl Studios booth!  I'll have a few of my goodies available as well.  If there's anything you want me to bring, make sure to let me know! I'll do my best to accommodate!

The show looks like a really good line-up.  Carl Clasmeyer, Anne Gardanne, and Brenda Schweder are just a few of the artisans that will be represented.  There will be bunch of other vendors, including Ava Motherwell and all her vintage treasures (and more).  So make sure to come and see us!

Seven of Cups & the Horse...

1/7: Seven of Cups,  The Wild Unknown TarotHorse, The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

A Place Called Home...

The basics of physical survival rely on a need for shelter, food, drink, sleep, and air.  When any of these needs aren't being met, our very own mortality comes into question.  We know that it's more complicated than that, but at the core these primal necessities guide our actions and have profound impacts on how we live our lives.

Just over two years ago, William and I set out to find a home of our own.  To be honest, it's not something that I ever thought would happen for me.  When I was younger, I lived a more transitory life and moved every year or so.  The idea was appealing, but it didn't seem like a match for my lifestyle.  Later, it just seemed impossible.  I accumulated a huge student loan amount and that had long-reaching effects.  When I was 18, I didn't know anything about debt to income ratios or credit scores or deferment.  The words "principal" and "interest" had far different associations back then.

But as our small business dreams grew and we set down roots in the community, homeownership seemed more possible with each passing day.

After searching for awhile through the conventional means, we turned to... of all places... Facebook.  We had just looked at a house, but it fell through because it was in a flood zone and the flood insurance was more than the mortgage.  We were sort of desperate and had already mentally started the process of moving on from the place where we used to live.  I put a post out on Facebook not knowing what to expect, if anything at all.  Surprisingly, at least for me, I heard back about this house.

The first time we saw it, we both loved it.  It wasn't "perfect" or "fancy" but it felt like home.  The people who had the house before us lived here for years. They raised a family and now their children have children.  The house was cared for and loved and a place where those happy memories could be felt.  While the house that we looked at before this one was nice, there were a lot of compromises... including a basement that flooded.  This house had a better energy and felt more... right.

And then things fell through.

Because of the situation of the homeowner and our finances, we just couldn't make the numbers work out.  It was disappointing.  I saw myself with William swinging on the porch, talking and laughing.  I saw us planting a garden and playing with Paulo and Babette on the stairs.  When I dreamed, I dreamed of this house and I could see it so clearly in my heart and mind.

When we couldn't make it work, we were crushed.  But we were hopeful and kept looking.

We were about to place a bid on another house, one that we didn't love, but could see the benefits of.  And then we heard from the daughter of the homeowner.  We had grown friendly over the course of us looking at the house and they wanted to make it work.  So, we set up a lease to own option.  Of course, this oversimplifies everything, but despite the highs and lows, we finally found a place called home.

Two years passed in the blink of an eye.  A few months ago, our contract ended and we began the process of officially purchasing the house.  Much had changed since we first started looking, including William moving over to the store full-time and becoming fully self-employed.  Being self-employed (and not being rich) and trying to buy a house is an exercise in endurance and torture.  The amount of paperwork and back and forth between lenders, banks, lawyers, credit card companies, and everyone else is truly astounding.  When I read articles about Millennials not buying houses nowadays, I can see why!  It's not the easiest thing to do when you're an entrepreneur.

We finally got everything to align.  Many thanks to our financial people, our family, our friends, the family we are buying the house from, and everyone involved.  To get to this point has required so much patience, fortitude, and good-will.  We so very much appreciate everything and for enabling us to live our dream.

The last step was an appraisal and home inspection.  This is very nerve-racking for me.  For one, I'm somewhat territorial.  When I've created a nest, I only allow a few people into it.  I also have this somewhat irrational fear of being judged.  So an appraisal is sort of a double-whammy of anxiety.  Strangers coming into your home who's sole job is to judge you and your house.  Our small business spills over into our home a lot and that means that it isn't the tidy, neat, organized abode straight out of the magazine pages.  It's not "dirty", so much as visually chaotic and cluttered.  I know where everything is, but it doesn't look like anyone would.  In addition to our everyday clutter, we have tackled a few DIY projects that we work on as time and money allow.  Also, in my mind, the worst case scenarios play out... where they'll notice a hairline crack or a chip in the paint and everything will fall through again.  I think that because I'm also gay and a minority, it adds even more pressure, because I'm always worried that they might not have worldviews that align with ours and they'll retaliate.

I try to engage in positive thinking and manifesting the best outcome, but when one of the basic needs for survival is threatened, such as shelter, it can heighten the emotions and up the crazy factor by ten. I know that worrying doesn't make anything better, but it's easier said than done.  For the past few weeks we've been cleaning, stressing, finishing projects, stressing, cleaning some more, stressing some more, and just sort of trying to maintain life all while internally freaking out.

We got most of the major projects out of the way, including finally finishing painting the cabinet doors and hanging them.  We have been without kitchen cabinet doors for the last two years.  I have been up for two solid days cleaning until every muscle aches and my hands are bleeding from a combination of dry winter skin and cleaning chemicals.  And while it might seem like I'm complaining, I'm happy to do it.  I'm happy to do whatever is needed to make sure that everything works out.

And... now... we... wait.  We are hopeful that everything works out favorably and we can finally put this process behind us and finally enjoy living in our own home.  We are ready.

Ace of Swords & the Oyster...

1/4: Ace of Swords,  The Wild Unknown TarotOyster, The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Picking Up the Crown...

A few months ago, my friend Lennis of Windbent sent me a link to an article.  The post was called, "Becoming Sovereign" and was created by the fine folks of One Willow Apothecaries.  CLICK HERE to take a look at it.

The words and images stuck with me.  As the world descends into the depths of winter, we are called to look inward.  The outside world, cold and uninviting, becomes a mirror that asks us to look deeper and to examine who we are and how we live our lives.

Over the last year (and before that), I've been swept up in politics.  Many of the things that I care about deeply have undergone attacks at the hands of the current administration.  I am happy to agree to disagree, as we all have our own reasons and motivations for doing what we do... however, after daily threats to the things I love, there has been this psychological breach and it feels like I'm hemorrhaging all my energy.  I feel tired and worldweary much of the time.  I grieve for those without voices and am angered by the blatant hostility and derisiveness.  I've grown to feel powerless.

And as I sit in front of my window and look out on the cold landscape, I go inward.  And I see that I've allowed outside influences to diminish my personal power.  I've given control over to others and given permission to others to determine my mental wellbeing and emotional equilibrium.  And that just doesn't sit right with me.

So, I was moved to regain my personal power.  To win back my clarity and focus and realign how I let the outside world impact me.  Easier said than done!  Basically I've had to do a lot of self-work on finding out where I want to go and how I want to get there.  One of the ways, is to embrace my creative process again.  When you make a living off of what you create, it's an easy pitfall to allow your physical needs to take priority over your mental, emotional, and spiritual.  "I'm going to make what sells so that I can pay my bills."  There's this sense of satisfaction when you're engaged in making, but it's a false sense of satisfaction if it isn't rooted into something deeper.  So, I have been mindful to follow my muse and not get distracted.  Again, easier said than done.

One of the things that I did to kind of embrace my thoughts and feelings was to create this polymer clay coin pendant.  It says "sovereign" and pays homage to the original article.  In all likelihoods, this will probably not be a best seller.  It's an obscure enough word not to have that ready accessibility.  It also has a lot of connections to monarchy and that isn't always a popular idea.  Even so, I wanted to tap into something deeper and harken back to the original post – to regain personal power and follow your own heart and mind and not be subject to the whims of the outside world.

These will eventually make their way to the Allegory Gallery Etsy shop and the brick-and-mortar.  CLICK HERE to take a gander at our online shop and see some of the fun things we've got there, including some of my quote and word pendants!

The Lovers & the Lamb...

1/3: The Lovers,  The Wild Unknown TarotLamb, The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Christi's Creative Neighborhood...

I adore Christi Friesen!  She's so witty and creates such whimsical creations.  Plus, she's just "good people".  I've known her for several years and she's always been someone to encourage and uplift others.  One of the ways that she does that is that she has a group called Christi's Creative Neighborhood.  (CLICK HERE to check out the Facebook group.) She is one of the most generous artists that I know and is constantly giving away tips, tricks, and techniques.  The Circle is where she goes one step further with paid content.  I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate as a guest artist contributor.

January's theme in the Creative Neighborhood is "New Beginnings".  How apt!  My contribution focuses on some of my philosophies as an artist and talks a little about some things you can do to keep your process fresh and inspiring and constantly moving forward.  Hopefully participants will find it useful and motivational!  CLICK HERE to find out more about Christi's Creative Neighborhood.

Ginkgo Leaf Bracelet...

I've been on a bracelet kick lately!  This is unusual for me, because I usually tend towards making necklaces and earrings.  This latest bracelet is made up of a sterling silver chain embellished with electroplated faceted druzy rounds, faceted labradorite, teeny tiny Swarovski crystals, and ginkgo leaf charms.  To bring it all together, I used a swivel lobster claw clasp.  (Which, by the way, I can't sing the praise of the swivel lobster claw high enough.  They make putting on bracelets easy-breezy!)

This bracelet has a surprising amount of shimmer and sparkle.  The wire-wrapped dangles really give this bracelet a lot of movement and it makes the facets dance!

When I initially set out to make this bracelet, I was just going to focus on the stones.  The more I looked at it though, it needed something.  I had these great little ginkgo leaf charms and I thought they were just perfect.  The ginkgo leaf is a symbol for longevity, endurance, and strength.  They are also representative of hope and peace.  As we embark on another new calendar year, I think these are all good things to carry with us.

If you're interested in acquiring this bracelet, you can email Allegory Gallery at info@allegorygallery.com.

Ace of Pentacles & the Frog...

1/2: Ace of Pentacles,  The Wild Unknown TarotFrog, The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Animal Charm Bracelet...

A few months ago, I was commissioned to create a charm bracelet for an animal lover.  They wanted a menagerie of animal charms to adorn their wrist.  I just love charm bracelets!  They have such a narrative quality.  I remember looking through a friend's collection of antiques and estate jewelry once and my friend had this amazing charm bracelet from a young woman's trip across Europe.  Each little charm was purchased along the way and included drilled train tokens and foreign currency.  When I looked at the bracelet, it was like I was following along with her on her journey.  Charm bracelets have such a wonderful collected feel.

I decided to use sterling silver charms from Nina Designs.  They have a great selection of animal charms that were perfect for this project.  (We carry some of them in the shop and started listing a few of them online.) The base chain that forms the foundation of the bracelet that the charms dangle from was actually two different kinds of sterling silver chain that I've been hoarding for years.  I ended up taking apart all the links and reconfiguring them into one chain.  The wearer is active, so I used a lobster claw clasp as the closure.

I quite like the finished piece.  It has a lot of movement and each little pendant is so charming.  (No pun intended!)

The High Priestess & the Turtle...

1/1: The High Priestess,  The Wild Unknown TarotTurtle, The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Skull Dolly Collages...

Skull Dolly collages by Andrew Thornton.
After I released the Spirit Doll Series, I thought about how they reminded me of corn dollies and worry dolls given to expecting mothers. Both are connected to ideas of fertility and life. And the more I thought about it, the more that I thought about how there is no light without shadow. There is no life without death. And so... tired as I was, I got up and set to work. I made another series of affordable small-scale pieces. I call this collection, "Skull Dollies".
Detail of Skull Dolly 15 collage by Andrew Thornton.
When I work, I generally make a few extra if I can.  It's not a lot of additional effort when everything is all set up and the process is in motion.  Once they're complete, I have my pick of the litter for what I think will best suit a particular project or just strikes my fancy that day.  I had the backgrounds ready to go from working on the Spirit Dolls and once I had the idea to create the skull paintings/collages, I fell into work easily.  There's something very satisfying about this format and size.  They have a similar weight and feel as tarot cards.

In making the Skull Dollies, I revisited some of the inspiration from the previous series and pulled new insight from Mexican sugar skulls, memento mori, and masks.    CLICK HERE to see them in the online store.

Update: They are all sold out!  Many thanks to everyone who has expressed interprets in them.
Detail of Skull Dolly 11 collage by Andrew Thornton.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Spirit Doll Collages...

Spirit Doll collages by Andrew Thornton.
Here is a series of affordable small-scale pieces that I created called, "Spirit Dolls".  They're colorful and (hopefully) endearing with their little round faces and dreamy eyes.  This collection was inspired by Russian nesting dolls, Prims (primitive Americana folk dolls/toys), Japanese kokeshi dolls, textiles, and previous bodies of work. Each mixed media piece is composed of watercolors, acrylics, colored pencils, pen, ink, metallic pigment, salt, and collage on thick watercolor paper. The pieces measure 3" X 5" and are all priced $25 each.  CLICK HERE to see them in the online store.
Detail of Spirit Doll 10 collage by Andrew Thornton.

One of the things that I've noticed in working with paintings and collages again and immersing in this process is that I've undergone a "great forgetting".  I had to forget, in order to remember.  Before I went to art school, I made things because I felt compelled to create them.  There was something deeper there – a connection to half-remembered dreams and swirling faces in the dark.  And when I went to college, I learned a lot of new techniques, but I also learned a lot about art history and context and theory.  While it was empowering in some regards, it also stifled me in others.  I felt obligated to understand the artwork and be able to "Art Speak" about it.  I worried not only if it was "good" or "bad", but I also wanted to make something that fit into this great big picture of thousands of years worth of human expression and idea.  So, understandably (at least to me), I felt bogged down and burnt out.  How can you fly when you're carrying so much weight around?  Over the past decade, I've been consciously unlearning and untraining myself.  Instead of seeing something and cross-referencing it with manifestos and movements, I've tried to see the "beauty" in it first and be guided by my dreaming self, more intuitive and subconscious and less critical.  The things I've learned are still there, but I want them to take a backseat to the things I've felt instead.

I'm still working on it.

But it's liberating to finally sort of feel like my old self again.  Hello, stranger!  It's been awhile.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Ultra Violet...

Usually when I begin a new project, I start off by making inspiration boards or color wheels.  I find that it's helpful to get you in the mindset of a particular project.  I also feel that our color sensibilities grow and change over time, so it's helpful to stay in touch with our current color attitudes and aesthetics.  Before Pinterest, there were a whole lot of pins and glue and magazine clippings involved.  Now, everything is all tidy and contained on the screen.  Here are a couple of mood boards I created from images I snagged off of Pinterest and the internet after doing a few quick searches.

Sometimes when you see a color in nature or "in situ" new color stories develop. Correlations with other colors become apparent.  For instance, looking at the pictures of the mushrooms and the wisteria, a cool-tone green is a pleasing pair with the purple.  (Oddly enough, when these two colors are mixed, there is a rich, middle-tone gray is the end product.) Alternatively, look at pictures of the pansies, figs, and amethysts – to punch up the warmth of the purple, use contrasting yellows and warm creams.  To lighten the shade of purple, pair it off-white and neutral light grays, like in the image of the macaroons and the doorknob.  To deepen the intensity, match it with black and navy, such as the pictures of the galaxy and the lightning strike.

Color is a remarkable thing, because it is so personal.  When I see this color, I think of picking wild violets and carrying around a tin of violet flavored pastilles that my sister brought me back from France.  I think of the color of the desert at twilight and of old bottles in antique stores.  I think of laying on back on a bed of purple petals looking up at the twisted trunk of the wisteria in my childhood home's backyard.  I think of an amethyst slice that I saved my pennies for as a child to give to my mother for Mother's Day.  Beyond the personal connections, every color has an association and there are hundreds of reference books linking certain colors with symbolism.  Some of these meanings are derived from natural histories and the origins of the colors.  (A great read about this particular topic is "Color: A Natural History of the Paletteby Victoria Findlay.)

For some, this color represents royalty or mystery.  Some look to the earth and find a copious variety in flowers and plants.  Others look to the sky and see swirling nebulas and otherworldly displays of cosmic grandeur.  What are some of your favorite color associations with the hues of Ultra Violet?

Pantone Color of the Year 2018...

And the 2018 winner is....

Ultra Violet!  Earlier this year, I noticed that this was one of the few colors that appeared on both the New York Color Report and the London Color Report.  It's a dreamy shade of purple with a cooler base.
Leatrice Eiseman, the Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, said, "We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination. It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to Pantone 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level. From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come."

You can read the full Color of the Year report by CLICKING HERE.  I really love how thoughtful they are when they consider their selections.

Seasons...

When I was young, I was a lonely child.  I would perch myself on top of the wooden fence and would try to entice the children from the daycare center next-door to talk to me.  I would offer gifts of tangerines as bribes.  If they wouldn't succumb to citrus, I would hold their toys hostage.  "Play with me or I'll bury your action figure."

When I got older, the wooden barrier was replaced with an invisible one.  Instead of gifts of fruit, I would offer up other things.  I would dangle my time, my energy, myself.  And if that didn't work, clearly it was them... not me.

I had always wanted others to like me.  I would go to such incredibly stupid lengths to get people to acknowledge and accept me.  Like me.  Be my friend.  Give me the love that I can't give myself.

When you claim your personal power, it becomes apparent that not all relationships are healthy ones.  Healthy relationships build off of each other and grow exponentially.  The energy in a healthy relationship is cyclical and builds momentum and force.  There's a magic in finding others who click.

Once we find others who we click with, it's so tempting to try to hold on and never let them go.  But sometimes relationships are like leaves.  We want to hoard them, pressing them between the pages of a book, and keeping them frozen in time.  But these golden moments don't last forever.  Even with the utmost vigilance, they can fade and become brittle.  I remember finding a dictionary at an antique store once and within it were pressed flowers.  Such a lovely discovery, but the moment I opened it, they started to fall apart and disintegrate.  Sometimes those leaves must be given back to the earth so that they take their role in a bigger cycle of growth and decay and renewal.  Everything has a season.

Upon learning of a friend's death, I am reminded of this.  Cherish the people in your life that make you MORE.  Honor the time you have together and be the best person you can be – not only for others in your life, but for yourself as well.  Drink in the nourishment of the people and experiences that enrich your life and be thankful for their gifts.  Their time with you may be short, shorter than anyone could ever predict.