Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Deeper Roots...

When I was growing up, we didn't have a lot of money and there were problems at home. Books were one of my safe places. In them, I could escape any trouble and let my imagination run wild. Reading was a gift that helped me better myself.  I found my wings in the pages of books and those wings could take me anywhere!

I was lucky that the librarians at my school didn't mind my insistent questions. When I had exhausted our library and sought deeper insight on subjects, my librarian said, "You know, there is a bigger library."

I used to bum rides with neighbors and even my older sister's boyfriend at the time. When that failed, I would ride my bike five miles along a busy highway and then five miles back when they kicked me out. I can see my 10-year old self with my ratty combat boots, cut-off denim shorts, a Dollar Store "Welcome to Florida" t-shirt, and a backpack held together with safety pins and patches, peddling frantically across one of the most dangerous intersections in the county. Sometimes I would treat myself with a can of Sprite and a roll of Lifesavers purchased at the 7-Eleven down the street. This was luxury to me – a can of warm soda, hard candy, and a book.

Education is so important, especially in these uncertain times. Reading opened my eyes to the possibility that I could make my life better. I could create any world that I wanted. I could overcome anything, if I embraced my imagination and let it fly.

That's why when I heard about the Ligonier Valley School District Foundation and their efforts to help raise money for the local Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, I jumped at the opportunity to help.  Winter is a slow time of year at the shop and we don't have a lot of extra money right now, so I gave what we could, but I still wanted to do more.  So, I embraced my imagination and creativity and created these Deeper Roots Pendants.

They're made out of polymer clay and feature a quote by Dolly Parton.  It reads, "storms make trees take deeper roots".  I love the words, the message, and the symbolism; I thought that it was very fitting for this project as well.  We'll donate all our profits from the sales of these pendants to this fundraiser to hopefully increase our contribution.  To see the pendant in our Etsy shop, CLICK HERE.  To learn more about the fundraiser and to donate directly, CLICK HERE.

Please consider helping another kid out there find a safe place in the power of words and give them wings to soar!

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Broken Things...

I've always had a soft spot for broken things – the things that get left behind, discarded, or passed over.  And it's not just with things either.  Some of my favorite people were the ones that were last in line, never picked first, and have known great hardship.  Even if we never actually talk about what we've had to endure, we look at each other and we just know.  There's a tribe of the wounded hearts and broken spirits.  There's a family of people who have had to overcome and rise up and are stronger for it.  These are my people.

When I'm making things, especially to fill an order, I usually make a few extra just in case.  I've been in situations where I've made just enough and then something happens and I'm short.  So nowadays, I make a few extra just in case.

I have a drawer that's filled with the pieces that are not perfect.  It's true that all of my pieces have little hallmarks of the human hand, tiny nicks and dings and fingerprints, but some have more than others and I pull those.  I don't want a customer to question the quality if they got one that was defective.  So I keep the broken ones.  And I have to admit, sometimes they're my favorite.  I never sell them, but I keep them and mend them and make them whole again.

In Japan, they have a method called, "kintsugi".  It's also called, "kintsukuroi".  It's a technique of repairing broken pottery and ceramics with a lacquer mixed with gold.  Instead of discarding or hiding a broken piece, it celebrates them and elevates them.

For instance, I recently made a bunch of these bronze coins.  Sometimes when I'm pressing them out, there are certain areas that are thinner than others.  And sometimes in the firing process, the area is so thin that it burns away and leaves a little fissure.  I can't sell them like that, so I keep them.

I keep them for a rainy day, when I have time to sit down with them and see how I can help.  Usually things hang around a long while before I get back to them.  I so rarely have free time and sometimes the fixes are easy and sometimes they're more involved.  So that drawer is awfully full.

With these pendants, I ended up patching up the tears in the coins.  I soldered them shut with a few metal shavings.  Even though I've fixed them, they're still a little wonky.  I won't sell them.  I'll just hold on to them for myself or maybe I'll leave them some place, so that just the right person will find them and hopefully cherish them in all their imperfect glory as much as I do.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

New Fine Silver Pendants...

I've been on a roll lately working on things.  I should be making other stuff, but I've learned not to ignore the muses while they're present.  So I ran with the inspiration and produced several limited edition pieces.

We recently rewatched the Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Even decades later, the show remains relevant.  This is both good and bad.  I think it's good, because so often popular entertainment can lose its magic once the then current events have passed and seem woefully dated.  I watched a satyrical comedy show from the 70's not too long ago and unless you are keyed into what was happening (sometimes so specifically as that week the episode aired), the punchlines fall flat.  The Mary Tyler Moore Show continues to be enjoyable and poignant many years later.  How can that be bad, you might ask?  Well, a lot of themes of the show center around women's rights and equality.  When you see Mary's character struggle for equal pay as one of her male counterparts and realize that that STILL happens is mind-blowing and a little frustrating.

In any event, when we heard that Mary Tyler Moore passed away, we were both saddened by the news.  We also rewatched the Dick Van Dyke Show and enjoyed her performance on that show as well.  Mary Tyler Moore was an advocate for the arts, for health, and animals.  She was really a remarkable person and I was moved to create this pendant.

I carved a stamp that says, "Love is all around".  This comes from the lyrics of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, the chorus being: "Love is all around, no need to waste it.  You can never tell, why don't you take it.  You're gonna make it after all.  You're gonna make it after all."  I think it's an important message to remember.  Love IS all around and each of us has to reach out and take it.  CLICK HERE to check in out on our online shop.

I originally carved this dragon to be included in my polymer clay and porcelain line.  (And even faux porcelain!  CLICK HERE to see the faux porcelain dragon pieces with the cool green celadon-inspired color.)  Dragons are curious creatures and exist in several different cultures around the world.  Depending on the culture (and the type of dragon), their symbolism changes, but a general feel of what they represent is power, strength, and courage.  They are also guardians and protectors and often times stand sentinel over mysteries, secrets, and treasure.  Dragons are often associated with the elements and are thought of as timeless.  This dragon looks like an air dragon to me.  To me, it represents a fearsome courage and freedom.  If you can face your fears, you can bask in great riches.  I've been feeling the need to call upon the dragon totem lately and as a result, I decided to make one for myself.  While I was at it, I thought others might enjoy it, so I made a few extra.  CLICK HERE to see it in our Etsy shop.

Life isn't always easy.  While there are many blessings in this world, it can seem as though there are as many or more bad things lurking out there.  It can be overwhelming and totally consuming if you let it.  The darkness sometimes feels so oppressive.  We can either give into this or we can chose to shine brightly.  To be a light in the dark isn't easy.  It requires us to draw power from a deeper place and be mindful to nurture and protect this tender flame.  In the middle of the night, when shadows loom tall and ominous and everything is swathed in a velvety blackness, a shiver of fear creeps down your spine, as you miss the warmth, radiance, and reassurance of life given from the sun... but even on the darkest of nights, pinpricks of light can be found burning defiantly in the dark.  This pendant is a reminder to "be a light in the dark".  CLICK HERE to take a closer gander at it.

One of my friends and customers recommended that I make a unicorn pendant.  Sometimes suggestions strike a cord and other times they don't.  This one hit home and I started carving immediately.  The unicorn is a really fascinating fantastical creature.  It symbolizes purity, grace, healing, joy, and life.  At the same time, it can also represent protection and strength.  The unicorn is often depicted as a guardian of magic and faith.  The unicorn has even been used to tell the story of Jesus in the Unicorn Tapestries.  For a fun read, check out Zombies VS. Unicorns.  Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier edited this anthology of colorful short stories by some of the leading contemporary young adult authors.  

I've got an order to make a few more of these in bronze, but once these are gone, I think I'll retire the design (at least for now).  It's not that I don't like it.  I do!  I just think that sometimes things, like unicorns, are special because they're rare.  I go through phases where I want to make a million of one thing so that everyone can get one and then there are times when I just want to make one or a precious handful.  CLICK HERE to get one while you still can!