Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Metal Clay Heads Giveaway

Every other month my fellow Metal Clay Heads and I do a giveaway on our blog and feature the artist who is giving away the piece.  This time it's me who is being featured.  You can see the blog post here:

I am truly humbled and very pleased by the comments so far.  Thank you all so much for your support.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Shopping Schedule

I am very excited to announce that I will have times for viewing and purchasing my handcrafted jewelry, just in time for the holidays!  Beginning Friday, December 10 through Monday December 20, I will have studio and retail hours at 130 Oak Street, Suite 2, Ellsworth, Maine (beside Hewins Travel).  Please come by and visit!  The hours will be:

Holiday Shopping Schedule

Friday, Dec. 10 and 17:  3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 18:  10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 13 and 20:  12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m.
Additional hours by appointment

130 Oak Street, Suite 2, Ellsworth (Beside Hewins Travel)
www.willowandme.com  info@willowandme.com
(207) 460-1077

My jewelry will still be available for purchase at www.willowandme.etsy.com. 

Metal Clay Class and Open Studio Schedule

I'm pleased to announce the schedule for my Metal Clay Class and Open Studio Hours, which will be held Mondays beginning December 6, from 4:00 to 8:30.  The hours are open to those who would like to work with metal clay in the company of other metal clay enthusiasts and have access to tools and materials.  Each week at 5:30 a new technique will be demonstrated and discussed:

Technique demonstrations begin at 5:30

Dec. 6:    Make a framed photo pendant or pin
Dec. 13:  Photo inlay with resin
Dec. 20:  Rubber stamp making
Dec. 27:  Polymer clay tearaway technique
Jan. 3:     Lentil beads

These will be at 130 Oak Street, Suite 2, Ellsworth, Maine (beside Hewins Travel) 
$15 per evening, plus materials purchased  includes use of tools, kiln firing and instructor assistance ~ please pre-register
Advance reservations are requested.  Please call (207) 460-1077 or email info@willowandme.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Classes and an Announcement!

I have some new classes and exciting news to share with you!  First the classes:

Fine Silver Pendant Workshop
Saturday, December 11, 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Greene's Hill Artisan Studio, 65 Ellsworth Road, Blue Hill
Cost:  $60 (includes PMC and findings to finish necklace)

To register, call (207) 374-5148 or  1-866-676-7530

Using rubber stamps, natural items or a variety of items with interesting textures, you will create a one of a kind fine silver pendant from (PMC) Precious Metal Clay.  You will come away with a finished necklace and a taste of working with PMC.  This is a short, project-driven workshop.  While some background and information on PMC will be given, the focus will be on making and finishing the piece.   All skill levels are welcome.

All materials and tools will be supplied by the instructor, including the PMC and the findings to finish your necklace. 

If you have ever wanted to try PMC, this is a great chance to try it without the pressure of purchasing tools.   PMC is a very easy-to-use medium which allows even beginners to make beautiful, pure silver jewelry.

I have also submitted a proposal to Ellsworth Adult Ed. for a mixed level PMC class.  It will start sometime in January.  It will be on Monday nights from 5:30 to 8:30, but I do not have a start date yet.  Once I do, I will let you know.

In addition, I hope to be teaching a class at Sweetland Retreat in January or February on making a peekaboo lentil bead.  The proposal has been submitted and once dates and times have been ironed out I will post more details here.

And finally, some exciting news for me:  Beginning December 6th,  from 4:00 to 8:30, I will be having PMC Open Studio evenings.  The students taking my current class have expressed a desire to continue even after the last class on November 29th, so I have arranged for temporary space at 130 Oak Street, Suite 2, Ellsworth, Maine (it's the office right beside Hewin's Travel).

The studio will be open for anyone who wishes to come meet and work with other PMC enthusiasts.  Everyone is welcome to work on their own using any tools and materials I have available.  I will also be there for assistance and direction should anyone need that.  There will be one kiln firing each evening, between 7:00 and 7:30 and anyone attending can put pieces in.  I hope to cover one topic each evening as well.  I am working on a schedule and will post that when it's all worked out.  The number of weeks this will run depends on when the January Adult Ed class begins.

The charge for an evening will be $15, and I will have a limited amount of supplies and PMC available for purchase.  If you wish to have something specific, that I don't have available, let me know and I can order it and have it for you for the next class.

Currently, I am asking that people notify me in advance by telephone:  (207) 460-1077 (leave a message if I can't answer) or by email:  info@willowandme.com if they intend on attending the first evening.  At the first evening's class, I will have a sign up sheet for the next weeks' classes.  If you cannot attend the first week, let me know which weeks you can attend by calling or emailing.

These studio evenings are intended for those with some basic knowledge of metal clay, if you have never worked with metal clay, you may wish to take the December 11th pendant class, which will give you a taste of working with PMC, or the January Adult Ed class which is intended for both beginners and more advanced students.

It is my hope that I will be able to expand these nights further to some weekend classes and workshops as well as other open studio times.  That is dependent in large part on the numbers of people interested.  So if this sounds like something you may like, please attend!  Thanks.

I would like to add a word of thanks here as well:  I have truly enjoyed teaching PMC and I want to thank Joy and Jamie of Sweetland Retreat who gave me the chance to teach my first class, as well as the students in that class who were very patient with me.   The students in my current Adult Ed PMC class also deserve thanks:  Mary, Tess, Deb, Beth, Amy, Jeani, Kristen, Hilde and Vicky have encouraged me right along and helped spark the idea of this open studio time.  Thanks to all of you!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sneak Peek and the Gifted Hand Show

I've been furiously working to make a few new things for the Gifted Hand Show,which is tomorrow and Saturday at the Ramada Inn (formerly the Holiday Inn) in Ellsworth.  Click here for more information on the show.

Here's a sneak peak.  I've made some new designs as well as a few of my most popular pieces.  Some of them go quite fast at shows, so be sure to get there early if there's something you might be interested in. 

I will also be doing something slightly different for some of my pendants.  They will be available to purchase separately from chains for those who have their own necklaces.  There will also be a selection of sterling silver chains and rubber and leather cords for purchase with the pendants.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, November 5, 2010


Gratitude Wood Letters by Such Simple Gems

I have something I really need to say... Thank you!

Who am I thanking?  You.  If you are reading this, I'm thanking YOU!  Why?  Well, because you are reading this.  You're either reading it because you follow my blog or you are a Facebook fan and for both of those things, I want to thank you.  I do keep an eye on the numbers of followers I have both here and on Facebook and both those numbers have been steadily increasing.  Thanks to a good friend who shared my Facebook page with tons of people, I have a whole boatload of fans on my Facebook page.  I thought it would reach a point where the numbers would stay steady, but they have continued to slowly climb.

I have fewer followers of my blog, but still many more than I ever imagined I would have.  And I appreciate each and every one of you.  Some of you I know through my Etsy teams:  the Etsy Maine Team and the Metal Clay Heads Team, while others I don't know at all.  I'm not sure how you found me or what your reasons are for following  my blog (or fanning me on Facebook) but I want you to know that I certainly am grateful.

And I would like to hear from you.  What would you like to see on my blog and on my Facebook page?  I try not to overdo the spammy sort of things, and try to post things that will either be informative or entertaining to you.  When I try a new technique, I like to let you all know of it, but are there other things you would like to see?  On my Facebook page, I try to limit my postings to things metal clay or jewelry related and any new items I list on my Etsy shop.  Would you like to see more?  Or maybe less?

I am truly interested in your opinions and value each and every one.  Please feel free to post suggestions and opinions in the comments section on my blog or Facebook page, or you can email me if you prefer:  info@willowandme.com.

I wish there was a way to thank each of you separately, but I respect people's privacy and don't want to spam you so I thought this might be a better way to do so.

Appreciation Cards by Little Gracie Cards

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


That's "Finally!" for two reasons: Finally, I am updating my blog because FINALLY I had a bronze clay firing that actually went right. Prior to this, I've done two batches, with a total of four pieces and only one actually came out useable. One over-fired and melted and the other two cracked and are unfixable. So it was with fingers crossed but without high hopes that I put this last batch in.

I should say that I'm using the new "Fast Fire" BronzClay.  You can read about my first attempts at using it here.  I have not used the original BronzClay so I can't compare the two.

So what did I do differently in this firing to make it successful?  Absolutely nothing that I can tell.  I think it was just luck or happenstance.  Other than that the only difference was size and shape of the pieces.  The larger pieces were completely flat and the other pieces were quite small.  I made some plaques that are to be Christmas Tree ornaments.

And here is a photo of a couple that I have finished.  The round plaques are about 1 3/4 inches in diameter.

I also made some bells.  Ever since I went to Haystack this past summer, I was inspired by Donna Penoyer's whistles.  I have though it would be really interesting to make my own type of musical instrument and after having read that large bells are generally made from bronze, I thought the bronze clay would be a good medium to try for bells.  My favorite is previewed at the beginning of this post and all are shown below.  They do actually ring and each makes it's own sound, apparently dependent on the size and shape of the bell.   The tallest of these bells is about 1 1/2 inches. These were experiments but I had so much fun making them I would like to make more, maybe even some that could be tiny earrings!

It's great to have a medium that doesn't limit me as to the size of pieces.  PMC is and will always be my favorite, but I can't imagine making large Christmas ornaments out of it - they would have to be so expensive!  I can only hope that my future firings will be this successful because I would love to experiment more.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Making of a PMC Piece: The Video

I have posted before that I have a slideshow that I show on an electronic frame when I'm at craft fairs explaining the process of making a PMC piece and I photos of that slideshow on this blog a while back.

I have been working on the slideshow and have created a Powerpoint presentation that has transitions and animation and I think looks a bit sleeker.  I've used a website called AuthorStream to convert it to a format that is viewable on my blog as well, so here is a short video on the making of a PMC piece.  It doesn't have any sound and it's about 3 long.  I hope you like it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Upcoming Classes

I've finally worked out the details for some new classes with Ellsworth Adult Ed.  I'm very excited to be teaching these.  The first will be a Beginner's PMC Class which will be on Mondays from October 4 through the 25th from 5:30 to 8:30.  The second class, on Mondays for three weeks, beginning November 1, is called "PMC Experimentation" and will be a bit more informal.  It will cover some of the subjects that the students in the first class would like to go into in more depth.  If no one has anything in particular, I will cover things like adding color to your PMC work and perhaps hollow forms if time permits.

If you are interested in taking either or both of these classes, you can register with Ellsworth Adult Ed here:  http://ellsworth.maineadulted.org/courses/course/precious_metal_clay_pmc_for_beginners

The dates and times on the listings are sort of messed up right now, but I have been in touch with the Adult Ed schedulers and they assure me that the classes will be held on Mondays and are as I have listed above.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I just recently spent a week at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine.  It was an absolutely magical week!  I took a week-long workshop in Precious Metal Clay called Holding Dear and Breaking Free: Dynamic Hollow Forms in PMC with Donna Penoyer, an extremely talented PMC artist.

Haystack is built on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea.  I needed only to look out the window I sat beside to have beautiful views.  I am really bad about taking pictures, but there are plenty on Haystack's website and I encourage you to visit it as well as Donna Penoyer's site.

The atmosphere at Haystack is one that promotes creativity.  There's a special energy running through the place.  With many workshops running concurrently, there are students exploring many art disciplines.  During this particular session there were workshops in clay sculpture, glass, blacksmithing, writing, book making and basket weaving.  I felt immediately comfortable there, arriving in time for dinner and orientation on Sunday evening.  

The food is phenomenal and all meals are provided so that all you have to do is think about creating.  Our studio started right off after the orientation with introductions.  There was a good mix of experienced PMC artists (extremely talented artists) and newbies.  All of the people in the PMC workshop were artists in some discipline and several were silversmiths.    

We were encouraged right from the beginning to push our creativity and technical skills and to try new things.  As I have said before here, I have never really considered myself an artist, never having had formal artistic or design training, but through some discussions, Donna helped inspire me to think differently about what I was working on and to make it more than just a piece of clay, but something with meaning.  We focused on containers, hollowforms and hidden objects, but were not by any means limited to those.  

During the week, I was able to get to know many of the others taking the workshop.  Due to the closeness of our workbenches, there were some I got to know a bit better than others, but everyone I met was wonderful.  Donna is an outstanding teacher, giving plenty of demonstrations and instruction, but also allowing us time to explore on our own.  She was always available to answer questions I had, technical or otherwise.  Donna has worked with PMC just a bit longer than I have and I am so impressed by her work, which is very intricate and detailed.  Her specialty is PMC whistles and we had a chance to make a small one. 

It was so wonderful just to be able to create without worrying about interruptions or whether or not I would be able to sell a piece.  To create for the sake of creating is a luxury I haven't had very often.  The array of tools Donna had available for us to use, as well as the metalsmithing tools in the studio allowed me stretch a bit.  The creative atmosphere of the people in my group made it a magical time for me.  My life is rooted firmly in the reality of a stay-at-home mother and all that entails, so being able to put all of that aside to focus on something as enjoyable to me was a gift.

My only regret is that I did not stay there.  I registered as a day student and commuted an hour each way every day.  I think I missed out on a lot that way as I didn't get to socialize with the others in my group as much as I would have liked.  There were nightly lectures by the teachers, but I only stayed that late one night.  Apparently there were also several late nights in the studio, the stories of which I would listen to with envy the next day.  I regret not being able to get to know some of the people better.  To be with others who love working with PMC as much as I do was another gift, one that I don't often experience.

I hope to be able to take more workshops at Haystack and I also hope I will be able to take another class with Donna Penoyer.  She definitely has a talent for teaching and for working with PMC.  I told her I wanted to be her when I grow up and I truly mean that.  I admire her work and what a wonderful, happy, encouraging person she is.  (Thank you, Donna, for inspiring me!)

The ring at the beginning of this blog post was made at Haystack, with my own texture sheet (we learned several techniques for making your own textures) and the piece below is entitled Look What I Have and was inspired by one of our discussions about hidden objects and containers.  Other pieces I made at Haystack can be seen here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wegener's Update

It occured to me recently that after all I wrote about my Wegener's Granulomatosis last April, I haven't said a thing about it since.  Usually I don't like to bore people with my aches and pains and whatnot, but since you all were so wonderful sitting through my whining that month, I thought I'd let you know what's been going on since.

I have found a local rheumatologist who is awesome and is working with my Boston doctor well.  My first local rheumatologist was a strange chick indeed and didn't play well with others.

I have been trying for months to get off of prednisone with no success.  Everytime I'd get down to a low dose, the arthritisy pains, especially in my hands and wrists, would come back.  Then I went on vacation to Prince Edward Island and ran out of meds.  I don't know if it was the relaxation or what but I didn't hurt.  So I just kept not taking the prednisone.  Now, about five weeks later, I have some morning stiffness, especially in the wrists and elbows, but generally I'm feeling pretty good.  Naprosen seems to take care of the occasional little flair.  I've also stopped doing my inhalers and, knock on wood, I can still breathe okay.  My new rheumatologist has suggested that I can try to go without the singulair and see how I feel.  That would be another pill down.

I recently went to Boston to see my doctor down there and as long as I'm still feeling okay come December, I can start tapering off the methotrexate too.  Yay!  That one is what keeps the immune system from attacking me but it also causes me to get some really lovely infections.  Or rather it stops my body from fighting off infections, so I get everything going.

So all in all things are going well.  I hope now that I'm off prednisone I can lose some weight.  My ultimate goal is to get to a point where I've only got to take a multivitamin, some vitamin D and maybe my antidepressant.  That's the one pill I don't think I'll ever be rid of.  Or at least I don't want to.  Every time I've tried over the years has been a very bad scene so in the interest of my sanity and that of those who have to live with me, I'll continue on that.

So that's my update.  For the moment, the Wegener's is being kept at bay.  If all goes well when I taper off the methotrexate, we may be looking at the R word (remission), but I don't like to say it too loud yet, just in case.  Don't want to jinx anything.  I know I'll have some bad days, but hopefully they will be few and far between. 

Friday, August 27, 2010


Now through September 8th I am having a sale in my Etsy shop.  It's 20% off everything in the shop.  Even things that are already marked down - and there are a bunch of them scattered throughout the shop.  I will refund the 20% via PayPal.  And check out my Facebook page for something special!

I'm also very excited to announce that I will be in a week long class at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts next week.  An entire week to play and experiment with PMC will be heaven and I can't wait!  I will be home at night and so will still be able to check my Etsy shop and messages, though.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fast Fire BronzClay - My First Look

I have had a packet of Fast Fire BronzClay sitting on my bench beckoning to me for a week or so, but I haven't been able to sit down and try it.  Finally, I was able to make some time.

I have not used the regular BronzClay due to the long firing time required.  Turns out my kiln, which is a fiber kiln not a fire brick one, is probably not ideal for long firings like that anyway.   I have tried both of the copper clays:  ArtClayCopper and CopprClay and the jury is still out on them.  I haven't been able to get consistent results from them like I have with PMC.   PMC3 will always be my favorite, I think.

I had read that the new BronzClay feels like marshmallow.  I can't compare to the old, but I can say that I do see why people would say that.  It's got a lighter, less dense, feeling than silver or copper clay.  I kind of liked the feeling.  It didn't seem to dry out too quickly and took a texture quite well.  I only bought 30 grams, which didn't go very far because I made a fairly large and thick piece from a butterfly metal stamping.

Once dry, the BronzClay feels more flexible than silver and copper.  Silver, especially, is fairly rigid when fully dry, but the BronzClay was bendable and I was afraid I would break it.  It feels softer when filing it as well.  Wet clay seems to stick well to dry so it's easy to fill cracks and holes.

I fired it in carbon for two hours at 1525 degrees as per the directions.  I put it in the kiln before I went to bed and just waited until morning to take it out.  It was covered with a crust (oxidation) that wouldn't easily wash off in running water (although the instructions said that it would).  Pickling removed some, but polishing with my 3M polishing wheels removed it better (I started with the yellow wheel and moved up). 

I am not entirely happy with the finished product.  The bottom of the butterfly's left wing has lost some detail and also has some pitting, and it was hard to remove the crusty stuff from the pits.  I bent the wings a bit to put the butterfly in a bit of a curve and it separated from the part of the body that I had added to the wings.  It does seem to be sintered all the way through, though.

Here is a photo of the bronze piece (right) beside the metal stamping I used for the design to illustrate the shrinkage, which is significant.  Even though they look the same color in this photo, the bronze butterfly is a nice warm gold, but polishing did not get it as shiny as I expected.  I did not try tumbling it.

All in all, it might be worth trying again.  Like the copper clays, I think I will have to experiment a lot before I can rely on it to do what I expect every time, like silver clay does.

One final note:  I found when first working with copper clay that I must be sensitive to copper, as my hands itched and I sneezed a lot when working with the dust.  Unfortunately, the bronze clay gave me the same reaction, which only stands to reason since bronze is an alloy that includes copper.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Gallery Pieces

A while back I mentioned that I was accepted into a gallery and I have been working on pieces for them ever since.  I'm very excited to announce that today I sent a package to Trinket & Fern in Portland with some new pieces made especially for them as well as some pieces chosen from my inventory to compliment the rest.

With an eye toward Fall, I made some leaf pieces with autumn colors.
Maple Leaf Necklace

Autumn Leaves Post Earrings

Autumn Leaf Necklace

As well as a more subdued set.

Leaf Impression Necklace
Leaf Impression Earrings

My favorite piece is this Sea Urchin Necklace with a champagne cubic zirconia in the center and a sterling silver chain that was hand-knit by me.

As I said, I have also chosen a few pieces from my current inventory, including my Copper and Silver Flowers and Leaves set, a bracelet and a butterfly necklace.   To see the whole collection and for some alternate views, you can click here.

Also, a reminder:  I will be at the Winter Harbor Lobster Festival this Saturday from 9:00 to 4:30.  I will have some new pieces for that show in nautical and botanical themes.  I hope to see you there.

Lastly, some news:  For those of you who have been interested in taking one of my classes, but cannot during the day, I am working on something in the evening.  I'll post more information as I have it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Time Flies When You're Having Fun (?)

Wow!  Has it been a week already since my last blog post?  By this time I had planned to have a blog post all written about the new Fast Fire BronzClay I received, but I haven't even opened the package yet.  I'm itching to, but I have been busy... Mostly I've been busy being sick with a nasty non-strep throat infection.  Thanks to the medication that keeps my autoimmune disease from attacking my body, other organisms can sneak in and wreak havoc.  I'd like to say I've lost weight because eating anything felt like swallowing razor blades, but I'm sure the high calorie ice creams I managed to choke down made up for any calories I might have lost.

But I've tried to keep busy.  I have been accepted to a gallery in Portland for which I am making new pieces and a show this weekend as well (Saturday: Winter Harbor Lobster Festival).  I am working on pieces and displays for that.  I have been able to procure some more louvered closet doors (cheap!) and I'm expanding the upright displays I first tried in Belfast.  I'll post photos once I'm done.

In the meantime, a sneak peak at what I'm putting in the kiln.

And what has been out of the kiln and is in various stages of finishing.

And don't forget to check out the first ever giveaway by the Metal Clay Heads going on right now!  It's going to be awesome!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Couple of Little Changes

I'm always trying to make my life easier, especially when it comes to updating my website.  A while back I made some changes so that my blog feeds directly to my site so I don't have to put important things in manually.  That saves a ton of time.  Another time saver has been linking my website to my Flickr page so I don't have to manually make new pages for photos every time I want to add new pieces to my gallery.  Now I just upload to Flickr.

And now I have discovered Google Calendar, so instead of just having a list of upcoming events, I have a calendar which I update on Google and then it's automatically updated on my website.  There are also some tools for my followers, too.  You can go into my calendar to get more information on an item (I think you might even be able to map it with Google maps, but I haven't tested it yet).  The calendar is also searchable and can be viewed in several formats.  For those who want to be reminded of events on my calendar there is a button for that, too.  And for those who want to add my whole calendar to their calendar or get a feed of my calendar, you can do that as well.  I was thinking the search tool might be useful for those looking for upcoming classes.  Here is the page:  http://www.willowandme.com/showschedule.html

I have also put a feed of my upcoming events on my blog and you can click on any of them for more information.

For those of you on the Etsy Maine Team, I am trying to work on something similar for our team site so that everyone's events, shows, etc. will be on there and easily searchable.

Probably many of you who are more tech-savvy than I will have known about this for a long time.  I have known for a while that there was probably a way to do it, but I just hadn't taken the time to investigate and figure it all out.  I hope that this little change will be useful to you and time saving for me!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Slacking ...

I have just realized that I haven't done a blog post since before I went on vacation.  Oops... I'd like to say I've been busy working hard since I got back, but I've also been visiting with friends, both new and old but newly found.

Vacation was a very restful week on Prince Edward Island, which is beautiful and quiet - just what I needed.  Lots of farmland (with some very tame foxes) and gorgeous beaches with the coolest looking rocks.  I even found some sea glass.  I did have a brief encounter with the Canadian health care system, which was brief and relatively inexpensive and painless.  I have no complaints there and the out of pocket expenses were probably not much more than I would spend here with copays and deductibles.

I got to hear a lot of people speaking French and even listened to a bit of French radio.  I'm pleased to say that I understood a good part of it.  Unfortunately, I chickened out and didn't dare to speak French to the family in the camper right behind us.  I spent a lot of time just reading (Under the Dome by Stephen King, which I highly recommend - the best I've read by him in a long time).

They have lots of wind turbines (not windmills as my son informed me - they are not grinding anything).  There has been a lot of talk about wind farms here so I was quite curious.  These things are absolutely huge and there are several wind farms on PEI.  We saw one that had at least 50 turbines.

I can honestly say that I found them graceful in the way they turned and I didn't think they took away from the beautiful vistas at all.   At the large wind farm, we got out and listened, because there has been lots of talk around here about how noisy they are.  To me, they sounded much like wind in the trees with an occasional mechanical humming - much less loud than the traffic on the road in front of my house.  I know there are some that will disagree with me, but I didn't see any problem at all with them.

And now back to work.  Here's a sneak peek at what's on my bench right now.  I have 48 grams of clay in various forms drying right now, including pieces for some more sea urchin stuff and some sand dollar pieces as well.  Willow pendants have been selling well so I am making a couple more of those.  I don't have very many bracelets in inventory right now, so I have plans for some.  I hope to work on some copper clay this weekend, but I also may be visiting with some friends.  I haven't spent time with friends in so long and it's delightful to have a bit of a social life again.  Also, I have just ordered some new bronze clay which I am excited to try.  Hopefully, I will have some finished projects to post soon, but I also have some socializing to do.  You know what they say about all work and no play...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Back and Forward

This past weekend I had a phenomenal time at the Belfast Arts in the Park.  On Saturday it rained for a bit in the afternoon but it didn't stop the people from coming out.  Sunday was a different story.  It rained all day, but I was surprised at the number of people who ventured out anyway.

I changed my booth setup a bit, removing a couple of tables and using some old louvered closet doors as makeshift walls on which I hung flat neckforms.  I was very pleased with the look.  The "wall" contained my beaded jewelry and the tables my PMC and silver pieces.

This week, I will be taking some much needed time off.  I will be leaving my Etsy shop open for browsing and purchasing but items won't be shipped until July 22.  Have a wonderful week.  I will leave you here with a picture of Daisy, the very cute and well behaved dog who belonged to the booth directly behind me (in fact, in the photos of my booth she is asleep under the umbrella that is under the tree).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Custom Pieces

I like making custom pieces.  It gives me a chance to try something different.  I thought I would give you a peek at the custom orders I have made lately.

Thank you to all who requested these custom pieces for the privilege of working with you!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On Perfection

I like to walk alone because that's my time to think.  This morning I was also on the hunt for some leaves and flowers to use in a class I will be teaching this coming weekend.  As I stood looking at a bush, trying to decide on the perfect leaf, I thought of that word:  Perfect.  Perfection.  What is it?  What was I looking for?

The idea of perfection is something that I have been chasing all my life.  As they say, we are our own worst critic, and I am sure that is true for me.  I measure myself by that elusive perfect and always fall short in my own eyes.  But I don't expect perfect from others.  Why should I expect it for myself?  I suppose I could trace it back to something in my childhood or spend forever talking about it in therapy.  In fact, I have talked about it in therapy.  A lot.  It is the root of all my problems, I am sure, my pursuit of perfection.

My brain equates imperfect with not good enough.  In everything:  The way I look, the things I do, the jewelry I make.  But, the truth is, I am imperfect.  So are you.  So is everyone.  If you think you're perfect, then you have more problems than I do.

I give great advice.  To other people.  So when I think about something like this, it's best for me to think about how I would talk to someone else about it.  So here's the part where I tell you that imperfect does not equal not good enough and that it most likely is not only good enough it is the best it can be.

If I keep telling myself this, maybe one day I will believe it.  I am what I am and I'm not perfect.  But I do my best and, while that is not perfect it is the best I can do.   It's tiring and self-defeating to continue to chase perfection. Also, futile.  And our imperfections are what make us who we are and aren't necessarily bad.  What I see as an imperfection in a piece of jewelry I have made, someone else sees as a quality that comes from being handmade, or they don't see it at all.  Like Willow's eyes.  Crossed eyes are considered a defect in the Siamese breed and a disqualifier in shows.  But I wouldn't have her anyway else.  Her crossed eyes make her the goofy-looking, clumsy, sweet cat that she is.

I know I would tell you here, if you asked, to accept your imperfections, and perhaps even embrace them, but while I think I've become a bit easier on myself as I have aged, I'm not sure I'm ready for that. 

As I thought of these things, I chose my leaves.  And they are not perfect, but they beautiful as they are and the best they will be.