Monday, September 1, 2014

Bikini-Clad Amazon Goddess of Surfing

There’s a reason the musical “Annie” has run almost constantly for about sixty years. The reason is, optimism is a timeless message. Another reason is, art based on optimism can do nothing but rise to the surface, in any environment.

Today, I am wearing my optimism necklace. It is a bit funny looking, bold and silly, with a bikini clad blonde goddess who says, “Hey, let’s surf!”

I wear necklaces to remind myself to get out of the rut. I have a whole collection and each has a relevant message, to help me remember how to escape the quagmire of depression. Hey, not only is the surf up when the weather’s bad, lemons make lemonade, and flying by the seat of your pants is still flying!

So today, I say to you and me, open the window, not on what you know, but on what you don’t. Open to uncounted possibilities.

Every time I have done this, I am shocked at the sudden fire-hose flood of good turned on me by the laughing spirits. And if I don’t stay open to it, I will shed that gushing goodness like water over an umbrella. So today, I turn my umbrella upside down in the rain, and smile, and open my arms to the downpour. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Joyce Scott - Glass Artist? Artist in Glass

Joyce Scott does not consider herself a glass artist. She is an artist who works with glass.
Joyce works in glass thru another artist – a flame worker. She sits by, says, “I want a woman , well endowed, just the torso, I’ll add the other parts in beadwork later.” Then she directs the creation with comments like, “Don’t do that. What if you just kind of let go?”  And memorably, “I am an African American Woman – that butt is not big enough.”
During her lectures and presentations, these are the quotes that made it to my notebook.
“There are no mistakes, only opportunity.”
“This is your opportunity to do what YOU want.”
“Be fearless in the studio.”
“I know that’s stupid, but I’m doing it.” I nod in agreement – so much of creativity is a journey with some really really incredibly stupid first steps. Yet there is no journey at all without daring to be ridiculous, uncool, and unwise.
 “For your collectors to walk the journey with you, you have to make new work.”
“If you don’t know how to do it, learn how to do it.”
“You should be attracted to your weaknesses, usually we run from weaknesses.”
Joyce maintained that anything we are terrible at we must learn to do. I talked to her for a long time about how to approach galleries, how to get the foot in the door. I believed there was a secret password, some shortcut to entry. She said, no, just call and do what they tell you .
I went home, picked up the phone and called the Metropolitan Museum of Art gift shop. I said I was an artist, I wanted to talk to someone about getting my work for sale in their stores. They asked me which of five phone numbers I would like, or would I like the address for product development? I dove for that address. It was like a lifeline, I would send them stuff, never hear back, and be safely a failure, deal over! Easy! Simple! And exactly what I expected. An escape!
I hung up with my address in hand and could see my entire past of gallery soliciting attempts. I was looking for a way to fail. I was hunting, desperate, for a way out of the pressure of being evaluated, treated like garbage, and essentially having the door hit me in the metaphorical butt with every rejection.
  And I found myself with a pile of barriers I had erected for myself.  I am terrible on the phone. I will not get anywhere doing this. I am a failure and here is the proof, one call and a gallery owner has sent me whimpering to the dog house.  I am not worth their time, these people sell Remington bronze originals, I am not in this league. I have orders, I don’t have time for this, I am too pressured to be creative, I have to feed my tortoises!
I learned from Joyce Scott that it may be hard, but I can still do it anyway. I may even suck at it, but I can do it anyway. My excuses are just that. They are only solid barriers if I believe in them.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

MZ - New Glass and Wood Creations

More notes from The Best Bead Show, Tucson Feb 2014! Yes, enough stories to talk about for months.

Here is Margaret Zinser's booth. She has a whole new line of eco- friendly, US sourced wood jewelery. The designs are drawn by hand, then are laser cut into finished pendants and earrings. Exquisite designs continue her ongoing love and inspiration, insects.

Margaret Zinser's detailed enamel insect beads continue to grow in complexity and richness.  Holy wow, you won't believe the time that goes into these vitreous enamel painted pieces. Each piece is painted with one color, and then placed in the kiln for an entire heat, flame and annealing cycle. The next day, when cool, each piece is given the next layer of color. Often the colors are built up in layer upon layer.

 If you've ever painted on paper, just imagine working on a completely non absorbent material. Where does the moisture go? What does the paint adhere to? Yes, vitreous enamels are a labor of love, getting them to stick, stay where applied and not crawling, not running. Yet each application must be thick enough to not disappear during firing, which believe me, happens! These are her newest moths.

 And honeybees, honeycombs, and honeypots are new glass beads to make visitors mouths water!

 To see more of Margaret Zinser's work, checkout her website,

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chuck Burton

 Selling at bead shows means more than meeting new customers, and connecting with other businesses. Artists welcome each other as family, even when newly met.
Chuck Burton is a super great guy, and a fixture at many shows, large and small. This year at The Best Bead Show in Tucson, I was saddened that he wouldn't be my booth buddy. In past years we have been neighbors, and no artist could ask for a nicer guy next door than Chuck.
I once had a friend in a booth outside on a 14 degree Fahrenheit night. The wind was blowing, and she (idyllically thinking this is Tucson, we don't need no jacket!) didn't bring her winter coat. She had a leg in a cast, had the chills, and I walked thru the building asking if anyone would lend her their coat. She wore my husbands coat for a while, until he had to leave, and my coat would maybe cover a toothpick. No one would lend a coat. No one except Chuck. That is the kind of guy he is.

Thank goodness Chuck can't keep away, even when he isn't an exhibitor! Part of reconnecting with artists at shows is sharing the growth we've had in our separate worlds over the year. Chuck is taking a year off shows to work on his craft, and allow himself to play - as all artists must - to rediscover why he loves glass. He stopped by my booth at the Best Bead Show to share his recent discoveries.

These delightfully hilarious and morbid skull flowers, created using Karen Leonardo's skull stamp, represent Chuck's new artistic trail of discovery. Where has his creative trail led? To multi-media, and how rich are these little gems? He is making dioramas inside tiny little coffins, including his flowers, and creating a little world where beauty and decay laugh and dance a jig together.

Creative work requires a dialogue - the work itself can't speak to an audience without the feedback only an audience can provide. Every piece is one step in a journey, and each step is closer to the goal each artist aims for. But my steps are guided by my response to the feedback of other artists, and customers, and friendly passers by who I grab and prompt, "Hey, I need your opinion."

Shows, I find, are a great place to drink in the vital fuel, the second half of the dialogue, the response of viewers and artists.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Something NEW in Glass?

Yes, technically, nothing is new. But new to me are Shawn Tucker's awesomely cute and fascinating creatures on obsidian. He heats a piece of obsidian in the kiln, then sculpts a boro creature on the hot surface. Cool!

He also makes and sells tools for glass artists. Above is an example of a fish made with his fish pliers. Also above are the fish tools he makes and sells. Super nice, I got a pair of these and am currently exploring dragon heads by utilizing the adjustable jaws, which allow the masher to be opened and squeezed on larger items.
And the creme de la creme, the arrow marver! Shawn has built this out of graphite, and it is sweeeeet! with an adjustable mount, the tool can be left loose so the artist can spin it to where they need it or tightened to keep it sturdy. It allows for one-handed tube-opening, etc, use your imagination! Versatile and well made.

Checkout Shawn's work at his etsy site, where you can purchase his tools, or his glass work , Shawn Tucker Glass.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Midnight Earrings

“Honey, are you awake?”
“Honey, what do you think of these earrings?”
“It’s dark in here.”
“I’ve been up all night making these. They need to be ready for the show. What do you think? Do you think the glass drops are too long for the fishhook earrings? Or do you think they are simply fantastic, major overdrive statement jewelry.”
“I’m sleeping.”
“I think they’re just too long. I just spent three hours opening jump rings and closing jump rings, making these fish earrings too big, and the acorn earrings too small. I think I’m going to go back, and open all those jump rings again, and switch the fish hooks and the French ear hooks. The long dangles need the short earwire, the short acorns need the long fish hooks. What do you think, Hun?”
“I hate earrings.”
“But then have I created a whole set of earrings that are the same length essentially. Instead of having short and medium and really long, as some women have short necks, medium necks, and long necks. Or are long earrings just IN and everything should be sort of pumped up, you know, today’s short is yesterday’s hanging down to the navel.”
“Earrings give me a choking feeling.”
“Just tell me straight, you’re beating around the bush. You think one dangle on one earwire – boring! They need the third heat. The third heat! What can I do to punch these things up?”
“I hate jewelry.”
“You just won’t tell me what you really think, will you. You’re trying to be nice. What you really want to say is, ‘Those earrings make you look fat.’ That’s what’s behind this, isn’t it? You’re thinking I don’t have the neck to make these earrings work, and they make me look like a fat schlub. “
“Take those seriously sexy earrings off, and go to bed, hun.”
“Mmm. Seriously sexy? Are they really seriously sexy? Maybe I could get some sleep tonight.”
“Seriously sexy.”
“Maybe I did some good work tonight. Cool. Yeah. These are great. Yeah. I’m gonna get my PJs. Thank you honey. I knew I could talk to you. I just knew, all I have to do is run this past my honey, and I’ll know just where I stand.  Awesome. Tucson is going to be great! Love you hun. Good night.”
“Goooood night hun.”

Friday, January 10, 2014

What my Lampwork Studio has in common with the Empire State Building

They both have heat and insulation.

My husband came out of my under-construction studio one day, two years ago, covered in little flecks of spray foam insulation. He said, "I didn't know it could be like that." When I ventured out, I found the walls insulated, beautifully, looking like brain coral all over the walls and ceiling. And brain coral babies stuck to my radio, my step stool, and my husband. Everything that had been in the room and not covered, including the windows, and his glasses, was encrusted.

Another studio construction day, my husband came into the house, and puffed up with deep fulfillment. He waxed lyrical about the heater he'd just installed. "So efficient. No terrible heating bills with this." Punctuated with eyebrows bouncing, a wise nod. "Yes yes! You have heat. You'll be toasty warm in here."

And he has been absolutely right, on every count. Lovely heater, click a button, whisper whisper, and  delightful warm air gushes.

My  husband is an extremely accomplished home construction guy. He is the kind of handy who tells the architect, "Hey, you got this wrong on the drawings. We need it corrected." And they say, "You are absolutely right. Glad you caught that." Whilst drawing an eraser from behind their ears.

So I am happy to say, my studio was 55 degrees when outside, the arctic blast brought Maryland to its knees. 5 degree air froze the state into a big, crab-flavored ice-cube. Everything was peachy, and I sat in my creative oasis, thrilled to grind earrings, and wrap orders for shipping.

So its not tall, like the Empire State Building. So its not historic, it far more to me than even the Guggenheim Art Museum.  Because it is my creative sanctuary. Thanks to my honey!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

When “Just Get Brave!” Isn’t so much help.

Yes, sometimes, I feel like, “pull yourself together!” is like someone hitting me in the forehead with a baseball bat. Not so much help.

Fortunately, there are more tools in this toolbox. Checkout this awesome video.  A TED talk about how standing in the wonder woman pose for two minutes a day changes the hormone levels in the body, enabling success. 

The whole talk:

The tiny talk: