Friday, December 30, 2011

Human Nature...

Here's the postcard for the latest show at Allegory Gallery!  The new show is called, "Human Nature" and features work by Lorie Lee Womack.  The show runs from January 6th to February 2nd.  The opening reception is Friday, January 6th from 5PM to 8PM.  If you're around, you should definitely stop in to see these hauntingly beautiful photographs!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Embracing Color...

Last year in Tucson, I took a workshop with the very talented Barbara Lewis.  I had a wonderful time, but was reluctant to put together my enameling workstation.  I had all the equipment, but there was just this mental block that prevented me from getting things setup.

When Barbara came out with her book, Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry: A Workshop in Painting with Fire, I simply couldn't put it down.  It's just full of beautiful projects and tons of inspiration!  I used it as a prompt (along with my "resolution" to complete projects) to finally get things put together and start enameling.

Above are the results.  I'm slowly playing around and testing out the various color combinations and the reactions to the flame.  It's my hope to build a recipe book and a color-wheel, so that I can recreate particular colorways.  It's very exciting and my brain is buzzing with all the potential things I can make!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Completing the Circle...

Somehow in the rush that is the holiday season, I neglected to stop in to wish everyone a happy Yuletide season!  I do hope that everyone had a most spectacular holiday season and will have the brightest and best New Year ahead.

It's an odd time of year.  Usually it's so packed full of activities that it's hard to find time to do anything but what is most urgent and unfolding right in front of you.  But in the quiet hours, I'm left thinking about the people in my life who have passed away or are still missing.  I've been having the most vivid dreams about my brother.  Even though it has been over twenty years since he went missing, I still think of him.  I dreamed that he was sending a package from Germany and that it had a video of us when we were kids.  The images were scratchy – captured with a Super 8.   We were happy.  Playing in the yard.  All of us.

While I do still think of him, what I remember most is the void that was created when he left.  The memories of him before he was gone are harder to pin down now.  It has been such a long time.  So I am grateful for those dreams that come in the night, that hold a clarity that my conscious mind cannot.

Whether or not it is connected, I've also been thinking a lot about all the open projects that are still in the works.  I think it's time that many of them be completed.  It's not just a New Years resolution to declutter my life, both of the physical and mental piles building up, but a way to find closure.  So in the coming weeks, I will be addressing finally finishing many of the things that were set in motion, but have yet to be ticked off the list.  It won't be easy, in my zealousness to remain creative and fluid, I've started many things that have been pushed to the side.  I've let life get the in the way.

So if you've been waiting for something from me... know that I have not forgotten you and that things will be righted in short order.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Artists Helping Artists Silent Auctions...

You might have noticed that there are three different (recent) posts titled "Artists Helping Artists" on this blog, featuring three different artists for three different auctions.  Confused yet?

Instead of having one post with all three of the silent auctions going on at once, I've separated things out into three different posts.  Each silent auction comes with its own distinct prize.  In these posts, you'll find a very special necklace by me (Andrew Thornton), a beautiful ceramic Spirit Rattle by Nan Emmett and a very chic necklace by Maria Richmond.  You can bid on one or ALL of the auctions, if you like.

CLICK HERE to vist my auction.
CLICK HERE to visit Maria's auction.
CLICK HERE to visit Nan's auction.

While there are three different auctions going on – all of the money goes to one good place.  The funds raised go to Penny of SparrowSalvage.  She was in a horrible car accident and was injured; she also lost her mother in the accident.  She didn't ask for us to help, but we banded together to help make this hard time a little easier.  The three of us were not alone!  There are also several other artists who are participating, but (thankfully and less confusingly) on their own blogs or partnered with a friend.  Definitely check out their beautiful work:

Artists Helping Artists...

This silent auction features a piece by the talented Maria Richmond!  She's put up for auction a stunning necklace! The focal is a vintage button surrounded by her gorgeous wirework. It is paired with a handcrafted clasp and vintage chain.  It really is a work of art!
The starting bid for this piece is $14.

Would you like to call this lovely wearable art your own?

Please leave a comment on this post for this necklace by Maria Richmond with your bid.  If you are the winning bidder, you will receive an invoice after the close of the auction.  The auction closes at midnight EST, Wednesday, December 28th!  There must be a way for you to be contacted.  If you have your email preferences turned off, please leave your email address.

You can also bid on a fabulous ceramic Spirit Rattle on this blog by CLICKING HERE or a necklace made by me by CLICKING HERE.

And don't forget that there are other artists who want to help Penny out:

Artists Helping Artists...

For simplicity's sake, I've divided each of the auctions up on this blog into three separate posts.  This silent auction features a piece by Nan Emmett of Spirited Earth.  She's contributed one of her handcrafted, ceramic Spirit Rattles.  The piece, measuring 4"X3"X2", is hand-painted and makes a musical tapping when you shake it.

The starting bid for this piece is $14.

Would you like to call this beautiful piece your own?

Please leave a comment on this post for this Spirit Rattle made by Nan Emmett with your bid.  If you are the winning bidder, you will receive an invoice after the close of the auction.  The auction closes at midnight EST, Wednesday, December 28th!  There must be a way to contact you; please leave your email address if your email preferences have been turned off in your profile.

Don't forget, you can also bid on a necklace by me by CLICKING HERE and a necklace by Maria Richmond by CLICK HERE.

And while you're at it... please visit and bid on the pieces by these amazing artists:

Artists Helping Artists...

Once again, several artists from the blog community have decided to band together to help a fellow artist in need.  This time, the proceeds go to Penny of SparrowSalvage.  She was recently in a terrible car accident; she was injured and her mother passed away.  My heart and prayers go out to her in this dark time.

For me, the holiday season has always been about giving.  And in this spirit I created a necklace to auction off here on my blog.  BUT... as I stared at the piece, I wasn't really satisfied.  It was pretty and all that... but it didn't really mean anything to me.  So, I decided to go BIGGER.  Not so much in size, but in emotional value.

The piece that I'm auctioning off contains a focal lampwork glass bead made by the late, Shannon Hill.  He was a talented artist who added beauty to the world and was always friendly.  He faced his illness bravely and embraced life right up until the end.

I've held on to this bead for years, wanting to use it in some special way.  It has seen many incarnations, but finally found its way into this piece.  I've set the bead in a unique fine silver prong and basket-weave setting.  The pod-shaped form dangles from handmade, fine silver rings.  The focal is paired with ceramic beads from Keith O'Connor, Swarovski crystals, faceted amazonite, Thai silver, and faceted pearls.

I definitely don't have a lot of extra cash laying around, especially this time of year and with the store, but I wanted to contribute to Penny's recovery and to help ease a painful time.  I wanted to donate something that really meant something to me.

The starting bid for this piece is $20.

Would you like to add this piece to your collection?

Please leave a comment on this post for this necklace with your bid.  If you are the winning bidder, you will receive an invoice after the close of the auction.  The auction closes at midnight EST Wednesday, December 28th.  There must be a way to contact you.  If you have email preferences turned off in your profile, please leave your email address as well.

But wait... that's not all!  Many other artist are auctioning off items to help out as well!

Maria Richmond and Nan Emmett have both generously offered up pieces for auction.  CLICK HERE to visit Maria's auction and CLICK HERE to visit Nan's auction on this blog.

Other artists have decided to help out as well!  Please visit these other artists listed below and place your bids today:

Thank you for bidding and happy holidays!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Beaded Links...

A Bead A Day 
Share your holiday jewelry on A Bead A Day blog. Just leave a comment or send an email to get your work featured! Jewelry Making 
No time to make beaded ornaments? This is so not true when you have this super fast and inexpensive tutorial to help you.

Art Bead Scene 
Jennifer decks the halls with a super colorful, Jangles styled bead garland, and her free tutorial will show you how to make one too!

Beading Arts 
Every new year should bring a new challenge. How about getting inspired by the Ring A Day challenge...and maybe win a copy of the book?

Carmi's Art/Life World 
This week I made a beautiful component even better!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done! 
Jean has fun being a new designer blogger for Nina Designs! Come and see what she made! 

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton 
Andrew shares a couple of magazines that he was recently published in.  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another Magazine...

Another magazine that recently came out that features my work is the latest issue of BeadStyle.  It's the winter issue and is loaded with lots of lovely seasonal jewelry and lustrous pearl projects!  The project that I made is a multi-strand pearl affair featuring a lovely piece by Gail Crosman Moore!  Definitely check it out!


I had mentioned on Facebook that I was working on a surprise for the store.  One of our regulars heard that I was in search of another big table and brought one in.  I loved it!  But I wanted to incorporate it better and thought that a coat of paint would help tie it in nicely.

So... seven coats of acrylic enamel called, "Catwalk" later... I present the latest addition to the store.

The color inspiration for the new table came from one of the lanterns that I use to decorate the store.  Since everything else in the store is relatively subdue with dark wood, pale blues, whites, and metallic pewter colors... I wanted to add little pops of color.  The bright, saturated color of the lanterns and now the new table, help to add a little visual excitement and act as focal points around the space.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Some Magazines...

It just occurred to me that I never wrote about two of the magazines that I was recently in.  Both of them are special issues from Interweave.  The first one to come out was Creative Jewelry.  I've got a few projects in it AND a feature called, "Say it with Stones".  The next that came out was an issue of Handcrafted Jewelry.  I've got two projects in there!  I made variations of those projects and will post them shortly.  I encourage you to check these magazines out if you haven't already!  They're killer!

(Oh! Creative Jewelry and Handcrafted Jewelry are also available for download!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Brio Scribble Earrings...

The next class that we're hosting at Allegory Gallery is Maria Richmond's "Brio Scribble Earrings"!  I'm really looking forward to this one; it looks like a lot of fun!  The class is this Sunday, December 18th from 4PM to 8PM.  For more information and to sign up, CLICK HERE.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Future Projects...

A blog reader wrote in after I posted about the Mystery Destash and asked what specifically were the future projects that I'd like to tackle.  The truth is... I don't know.  I can think of a dozen or so different things that I'd like to do.  I'd love to do more felting and silk painting.  I had such a blast making that Merino wool scarf the last time I was in Asheville!  Speaking of fibers, I'd love to work on my sewing skills.  It'd be interesting to explore creating jewelry components and adornment out of these materials.

Another project would be to work on my own line of cast components.  I'd love to get some pieces cast in bronze and shibuichi.  I'm just smitten with these metals.  I do love making the pieces that I currently sell out of metal clay by hand, but it would be nice to have some of the more popular ones cast.  It'd open up the selling possibilities and allow me to spend less time on production and more time on creating original designs.
I would also love to add color to my new porcelain pieces with glazes.  Most of my training is in painting and I am curious to fuse these different aspects of my "creative personality".

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted by the new Sterling PMC and Sherri Haab's electroforming kit.  I have so many different ideas of how I could use these new products.  The words "hog wild" come to mind when I think of all the things I could make!

A few extra bucks would definitely go a long way in my creative endeavors.  With the new year about to begin shortly, I want to make creative exploration my biggest goal.  My future projects, whatever they may be, are all about returning to the joy of making.

More Things I've Made...

The first award I ever won for something I created was for a little stoneware pot.  I made it in art class while I was in kindergarten.  The crude little earthen vessel was formed using my elbow and adorned with "magical symbols".  Mrs. Dillard, my first art teacher, liked my descriptions of the powers of bowl so much that she had me demo making the pots at the year-end student talent showcase.  My class had been chosen to perform "Ten Little Indians" earlier in the evening and I was dressed up in a stamped pillowcase, a macaroni necklace and a construction paper headdress.   I think the outfit did much to complete the scene as I regaled the audience with stories of "witches bones and warrior faces".

It's no surprise that in my quest to return to joy of making things that I should go back to making little pots.

They're more refined than the ones that I made in kindergarten, but not by much.  I kept them simple on purpose.  These ones are made of porcelain and meticulously pinched out.  They fit in my hands perfectly and retain the finger-prints – evidence of their handmade origins.  For more texture, I used shells and porcupine quills.

I tried to make them as thin as possible.  After they were fired they took on a musical, bell-like quality.  I must confess that I delight in flicking them to make them ring.

I've made dozens of them now.  Some of them fit together.  Others stand alone.  I've glazed them with clear glaze and am dreaming of adding color in the future.  I don't know what to do with them besides look at them and examine them.  Some have suggested that I might sell them in the store, but for now I'm just happy with the process of making them and returning to a child-like glee, telling myself stories of magical bowls.

Mystery Destash...

This is a fun way to add to your bead collection while helping me reduce the size of my bead hoard! Purchasing a "kit" also allows me to buy supplies for future projects and keeps me creatively busy. There are only 20 Mystery Destash "kits" available. Each one is a complete mystery and is unique and different from the rest. No two kits are exactly alike. Only I know what's in them until they arrive at the buyer's doorstep.
Here are the details:
Only one (1) kit per person.
All sales final and no returns.
All orders will be shipped out first class mail.  Have questions about shipping?  CLICK HERE to visit our shipping policies.

Mystery Destash "kits" are available while supplies last.

CLICK HERE to visit my shop to get your Mystery Destash kit before they're gone!

Artists Helping Artists Silent Auction Winner...

With a bid of $100, Karin of Backstory Beads landed this necklace I made to help raise funds for a fellow artist in need.  Please stop by Karin's blog and congratulate her on supporting the community and this great cause!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Beaded Links...

A Bead A Day 
If you are looking for some fabulous giveaways by a wide variety of artists and crafters, Lisa is linking you up! Jewelry Making 
Time and money are items many of us don't have much of right now, but not to worry. These simple projects are just what you need to inexpensively spread some holiday jewelry love.

Art Bead Scene 
Erin provides an inspiring treasury of architecture inspired jewelry compontents to give us some ideas for the Art Bead Scene December challenge! 

Beading Arts 
Wanna learn to work with chains in your jewelry designs? Cyndi has a copy of "Chains Chains Chains" up for grabs! 

  Beads & Books 
Michelle turns an inexpensive printer's tray from a craft store into a beautiful display for a jewelry show.

Carmi's Art/Life World 
Carmi has a series of bezels filled with last year's Christmas cards to share this week.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done! 
Jean hosts a very lovely giveaway from the sublime bead and jewelry store in Florence, Italy, Beaded Lily!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton 
Andrew creates a piece to be silently auctioned off to help a fellow artist out! Bid on his necklace to win and check out all the other fantastic auctions going on!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Here's What I Made...

 I've been busily making things in the background.  I try to squeeze in a few projects everyday.  The other day I made some bronze pieces for my own jewelry.  I've also been wire-wrapping like crazy.  There's something calming about the repetitive motions and I'm a smitten-kitten with the end results.

Above is a new owl pendant that I created.  It's really simple and almost a "primitive caricature".  It has a nice weight and shape to it... kind of like a worry stone.  I put it on a long chain in this necklace and paired it with some Czech glass, Swarovski crystals and pearls.

These earrings are really simple as well, but I love the way the little bronze pendants twinkle in the light as they are being worn.  It almost looks like the birds are ruffling their feathers in their floral perches.  The pendants are matched with some Czech glass and some copper earwires.

 This necklace didn't start out like this.  Originally, I had this huge cascade of rough amber with these dangle-embellished bits of chain hanging off of it.  But I wasn't quite sure about it.  It looked too busy and too disparate.  So, I took the necklace apart and this piece resulted.  I used the chunky amber components in another piece.  In this one, I decided to highlight the fringe-like embellished chain and use a ceramic focal bead by Keith O'Connor.  It matches the orangey coral bits perfectly.
 I added little bits of blue to this bracelet.  In the picture, it's hard to see them, but they're there.  And I think the provide a nice contrast to the metallic cranberry color.  The link is of a bird with a heart on its chest.  I'm considering filling the heart in with a bit of colored resin or enamel. We'll see.  I sort of like it without the extra dot of color.

 I was inspired by an ancient Roman pattern when I made the bronze pendants for these earrings.  It's like a stylized wheel or flower or sunburst.  I quite like it!   I used purple crystals in these earrings to add a little pop and contrast to the bronze components.

The last piece that I'm going to share in this post has a tree pendant that I made out of bronze.  It's layered on copper filigree and paired with what I was told was fossilized dinosaur bone cylindrical tube beads.  I created a long wire-wrapped chain out of the beads.  I'm quite pleased with the result and have been digging out all my cylinder beads to make more necklaces like this.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Learning to Unlearn...

I went to what some would consider one of the best Art schools in the country.  (There are some that would even say that it's one of the best in the world!)  What we learned was heavily influenced by the contemporary Art world and what was being made in today's Art market.  But to understand what was going on NOW, we had to look at Art history and Art criticism.  Knowing the rhetoric and theory was a way to form the appropriate context to navigate the wilderness of Art with a capital "A".

The Art world we had learned to make in was an old one, reaching back to the dawn of civilization.  It's tired and jaded and has seen almost every trick under the sun ad nauseam.  It eats up and spits out artists on a daily basis.  You'd think a creature such as this would be lone monarchy, ruled exclusively by its cynical experience.  But it has a consort.  The Art world we learned about went hand-in-hand with that of the Money market.  Money with a capital "M".  The state of the economy was tied to ebb and flow of the Art market like the moon is to the tide.  A booming economy could herald a Renaissance in Art-making and an explosion of new artists.

In that world, you could hang a blank canvas on a wall (which has already been done, by the way) and as long as you could frame it with the right Art historical context and had the right dealer, it would be valid and transcendental and a true Artistic expression.

I learned a lot in Art school.  But the thing I learned the most about was doubt.  I'd ask myself questions like, "Is this Art?  Where does this fit in the Art world?  Who would want this?  Will it sell?  Will Art collectors want to collect this?  Will I be remembered?"

What I learned... what I was trained to do... was to ask questions.  I think a true artist is someone who listens to their own voice and creates answers.  This is not to say that they're an egomaniacal Howard Roark, but someone who listens and considers all angles, but ultimately follows their own gut.  They ask questions and investigate, but come away with findings based on their experiences and their entire world... not just a single facet.

The hardest lesson that I had to learn came after school.  The lesson came when I was out of the warm cocoon of theories, classes and syllabi... it came when the economy wasn't booming anymore.

I had to learn to unlearn.

It's something that I'm still working on.  I am learning to quiet all the voices and the questions... and to simply make again.  I might have titled this post, "Discovering Joy Again", because that is the aim of this self-deconstruction.  It's all about learning to trust in my own voice again.  As pretentious and pompous as this post may seem, it's part of an explanation of my road back to something fundamental and inherent to who I am... a maker of things.  Maybe one day I'll be an Artist with a capital "A", but I'm not worried about that just now.  Instead, I'll go make something.

Artists Helping Artists...

 Several artists in the blog community  have decided to band together to help a fellow artist in need.

One of the best things about our creativity community is that we support one another.   If we need to raise a barn, there are ample hands on deck to help.  I know firsthand how generous and caring our group of like-minded individuals can be.  When I had cancer and the time when I wanted to start Allegory Gallery, the community was behind me all the way.

So I wanted to take this opportunity to give back.  The artist, who shall remain anonymous, didn't ask for help, but she is definitely deserving.  I can't go into the details of her situation, but she is indeed a valued member who inspires others and creates beauty wherever she goes.

While I wanted to give back to this beautiful soul, I don't exactly have a lot of extra funds laying around to contribute.  But what I do have are two hands, an imagination, and lots and lots of stunning beads to work with.  I created this necklace to auction off.

The pendant is a hand-stamped sterling silver piece by Heather Wynn-Millican of SwoonDimples.  It has a very apt Rumi quote on it that says, "Let the beauty of what you love be what you do."  It's layered with a ceramic pendant from Marsha Neal Studio.  The focal pendants are paired with a lampwork glass "Vermont Trade Bead" by Harold Williams Cooney, an enameled toggle from C-Koop Beads, lots of Czech glass dangles, and a copper-plated chain.

The starting bid for this piece is $20.

Would you like to be the winning bidder?

Please leave a comment along with with your bid.  If you are the winning bidder, you will receive an invoice after the close of the auction.  The auction closes at midnight EST Sunday evening.  There must be a way to contact you.  If you have email preferences turned off in your profile, please leave your email address as well.

Many other artists are auctioning items to help out!  Please visit these other artists listed below and place your bid today:

Marie Cramp and Lori Anderson

Feel free to return and bid again!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quick Tip: Adding Color...

I make A LOT of wire-wrapped dangles.  Headpins are my friends and they have done their job marvelously over the years.  But I wanted to add a touch of color without having to break out the powdered enamels or wait for the already colorized ones to arrive in the mail.  So... I made a low-tech version of the popular colored headpins.

I simply scuffed up the heads of the pins with a bit of sandpaper and dipped them in some Testors Enamel Paints.  These paints are specifically designed to bond with metal.  Once the first coat was dry, I dipped them again.

So far, so good!  The paint has held and I didn't notice any significant scratching or chipping while using them.  They were really easy to make, look great, and add just a touch of color.

Day Off...

My roommate at the store and I usually split Wednesdays.  It's something we came up with to help each other free up some time and make our schedules a little easier to bear.

I had a wonderfully productive evening and stayed up late to work.  Now that I have to be at the store early (for me) in the morning and be both functional and relatively pleasant, staying up to work in the quiet of the night is a rare pleasure these days.  I am a night person by nature and my best ideas generally come when everyone else is asleep.  So knowing that I could sleep in, I stayed up.  It was delightful!  The results of my efforts are forthcoming and I'll share in due time.

In any event, it snowed this morning and Laurie told me to just stay home.  (When the weather is bad, it can get mighty slow at the shop.)  So, I thanked my roommate profusely and took her up on her offer in favor of continuing to work at home.

I got a lot accomplished.  I was even about to get some ironing done.  (I have been systematically eliminating all special care clothing items from my closet, but there are still a few things that I still wear and cannot give up that benefit greatly from a good pressing, from time to time.)

I set everything up and went into the other room to grab some starch and came back to the above scene.  Paulo had made a little bed out of the clothes piled on the ironing board waiting to be pressed.  It was so cute and he looked so sleepy and comfortable that I didn't dare wake him.  I guess I won't be wearing that shirt tomorrow.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Sale...

Along with notes of concern, I also received several requests for me to reopen my personal Shop during my "hiatus".  I was reluctant to add another task to my seemingly endless to-do list, but thought of it more of a chance to liberate some of the old pieces I made to make way for the new projects in the works.  So I've temporarily reopened the Shop for the holidays.  I've added back quite a few of the copper and bronze coin pendants and components; some of which will be discontinued and phased out permanently after the sale is over.  So make sure to stock up on your favorites, before they say goodbye for good!

I've enlisted a coupon code to help in the task to clear the area before the new things are to begin.  How apt that it's Cyber Monday!  Use coupon code "HOLIDAY" to receive 30% off your order.  CLICK HERE to visit my Shop and to take a look at the pieces and get your's before they're gone.  (The code will be good through December 1st.)

A Song for Small Things...

"One.  Two.  Three.  Breathe."  Those are the words I said as I sat down to write this post.  In the six years that I've had this blog, this is perhaps the most sporadic that I've updated.  Usually I post on a daily basis... sometimes even more!  But lately I've had a hard time connecting to this medium.  It's not for lack of things to say or because I don't want to do it.  I do.  But it has been difficult summoning up the mental fortitude to sit down and write and express my thoughts in this digital forum.

In the past few weeks, I've received dozens of emails and messages from concerned readers, asking how I am and if everything is okay.  After going back and reading the last couple of entries, spaced a week apart at a time with the occasional insubstantial filler speckled in between, I can see how my "phoning it in" could be cause for alarm.

But I am fine.  Actually, I am better than fine.  Small things have been shifting.  They are not the things one marks their life by or even particularly notice much, but the subtle changes are starting to move the pieces into place.  The puzzle is revealed to be a doorway to an unfamiliar path.  I find myself in new territory.

And maybe that's why I haven't been writing as much.  It's hard to sing confidently when you're just learning the words to a new song.  You can hum along – surprisingly well at times even – but until you've  taken time to really get to know the new material, it still doesn't sound quite right.

So in my time away, I've been familiarizing myself with this new tune.  I have been adjusting and harmonizing.  I've been singing in the mirror when no one has been looking.  And frankly, I'm excited by all the new prospects that lie ahead.

I'm liking this new song.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Have you heard about the #ShopIndie movement this holiday season?  The aim is to support independent artists and declare freedom from corporate chains and cookie-cutter products.  #ShopIndie encourages people to find unexpected items made with love from artists.

Whether you find something online via BigCartel or Etsy, in a independently-owned local shop, or from an artist directly, there are ample ways to add a truly personal touch to this holiday season!  To find out more and how you can show your support, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Beaded Links...

A Bead A Day 
Enjoying the creative process can sometimes be more important than the perfect finished product! Lisa finds that out while having fun with glitter! Jewelry Making 
Here are some tips and design ideas for picking the right bracelet for the right person.

Art Bead Scene 
Heather offers a free project: a quick and simple nest necklace that uses wire to elegantly frame an art bead

Beading Arts 
Bead a continuous loop necklace for a unique eyeglass holder!

Beads & Books 
Join Michelle's last beading challenge for 2011 with a winter-themed kit featuring handmade porcelain beads by Chinook Jewelry, Czech glass, pearls, and ribbon!

Resin Crafts! 
A brand new resin has been created for jewelers and launched on the Resin Crafts blog this week!  

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done! 
Jean reviews the fabulous book, Sharilyn Miller's Arty Jewelry III! Is Sharilyn great, or what?  

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton 
Andrew muses on the importance of having time to think and "tinker".

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Handmade Holiday Kickoff...

We've got lots of really fun events lined up at Allegory Gallery!  Starting at 1PM, tomorrow (Friday, November 18th) we've got the Handmade Holiday Kickoff Event, featuring a Meet-the-Teacher event with Maria Richmond, and an unveiling of NEW work from Hawaiian artist, Candice Wakumoto. Donna Lenzi of Everyday Therapeutics Massage will also be on hand from 1PM to 4PM to ease the stresses of entering the holiday season with massages ($1 per minute).

But wait... that's not all... back by popular demand, local singer and songwriter, Jane West, will be performing from 5PM to 7PM!  Make sure to swing by to catch her live musical performance!

Write It Down...

Sometimes when things just seem too large.. too big to comprehend, it helps to write it down.  And that's what I did.

I made a list of things that were important to me and a list of things that I can do to help promote those life goals.  The lists aren't long, in fact, the more I thought about things... the more they boiled down into a few key elements that cover many facets.  These things I want to nourish and see flourish in healthy abundance.

The deceptive thing about the simplicity of my lists is that it's easy to misread them.  Each person has a different interpretation of what something can mean and how to go about fixing or fortifying it.  A simple theme, like "LOVE" has so many different definitions and aspects already, not to mention that their meanings are tempered by personal experience and personal need.  And I think that's part of the beauty of it... no two individual's lists are exactly alike, even if they appear to say the same thing.

Writing it down does clarify things though.  The act of transforming an abstract thought into something one can hold and look at is an important step of realization and actualization.  Knowing that these lists are scribbled on a piece of paper and not inscribed in stone also helps... because they can grow and change and reflect that moment of time.

These are my good intentions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Art of Thinking...

I think most artists who make a living (or try to make a living) off of their own work encounter, from time to time, the profound sense of not being able to produce enough and that Time is against their creative process.  There's a great post that articulates these feelings on the Sparrow Salvage blog that you might want to check out HERE.

For me, it's no different.  I have a million ideas and a sense of expectation from these artistic ambitions.  I often times have to table these creative pursuits in favor of the everyday demands that rear their head.  Now that there's the Gallery, there are even more demands on my schedule.  Cynthia Deis, owner of Ornamentea, offered up some great advice to those seeking to start their own store.  She left it as a reply to an excellent series of posts that Jennifer Jangles wrote not too long ago on the Art Bead Scene blog.  Basically she said:  It's hard to juggle customer demands and creative work.  It's important to make time to handle business and creative activities you don't want to be interrupted away from.

In times like these, where I feel as though I've lost my footing and am far from being centered, it's important to remember to take time to think and "tinker" as Penny puts it.  It's important to make uninterrupted time to think and to make and do things that are good not just for the business, but for the creative soul.  I have to remember that to be a better artist, business person and all-around human-being – I have to not underestimate the value of thinking.  The very act of thinking and communing with the Muses is a powerful act of creation.  It's the construction of the foundation for any artistic act.

Living In Alignment...

The title of this post might be more aptly named, "Living Out of Alignment".  Because that's what I've been doing.

I always end my letters with the words, "Simplicity Always".  It's not because I'm a minimalist or think that things should be the classic definition of "simple" but that our daily actions should be infused with a sense of grace and purpose – living in alignment.  It's kind of like the tightrope walker who seems to effortlessly balance a million things and easily walk across a rope suspended high above the ground.  It takes time, practice, patience and most importantly – confidence.  Having faith in yourself and your abilities to do what needs to be done and to do it well... that is a key ingredient.  Writing this out whenever I end an email or a letter is a reminder of the importance of this mantra.

But I have not been adhering to this guiding principle and I think it has shown.  I've tried to do all the things I did before, but being out of sync with myself, it's really been a mess.  At first they were tiny fractures, almost too small to perceive at all.  But then as time went on and they started to spiral outwards, the cracks grew.  Somedays I would do better.  And I would feel like everything was under control, but then the next day the feelings would return and it seemed like I had sunk that much further.  Two steps forward, three steps back.  I guess this is what they call a crisis.

So what do you do when you find yourself amidst a crisis?

The first step is to admit that there is something wrong.

Now comes the hard part... doing something about it.

For the past few weeks I have been actively weeding out the negative individuals in my life and clearing out the mental clutter that pollutes and propagates.  It hasn't been easy.  These things have roots that go deep and the only way to get them all the way out is to dig deeper. I wish that I could say that everything was resolved, but it's taking time... lots of time.. and it'll take more time as I continue to pull back the layers and fix what has been broken.

The other part of actively realigning myself is to address the promises that I've made.  They're kind of like pebbles.  One or two outstanding things-to-do don't weigh so much... but compounded by a hundred... then it starts to get heavy.  A thousand pebbles make a boulder.

I also have to remove what's not necessary and focus on what is.  What's important?  How can I best honor the things that are my primary focus?  Can I delegate things?  Can I ask for help?  Are there better ways of doing things so that there's more time to devote to the things that make me a better and happier person – someone who is aligned?  These are questions that I have been asking myself and am finding surprising answers.

As an artist and a maker, one of the other things that is of dire importance is to find time to make again.  It's about getting in touch with my Muses and allowing them to move through me, as a vessel of creativity.  Everyday I want to make something new.  It could be crap or it could be a masterpiece, just as long as it's something.  I draw a line every day to remind myself that I'm an artist, but it needs to be something more.  Those lines need to converge.

This is me and here is my confession... I am just another person, working to try and find meaning and purpose once again to be centered and to act from an internal space of peace and pure alignment.