Friday, December 31, 2010

It's almost gone, or almost here, depending on your outlook

Bow Wow

It's been quite a year, not without challenges, but also not without reward and joy. I'm not sad to leave it behind, as usual, and am eagerly looking forward to the next set of days.

I'm not much for resolutions, but as I teeter on the brink of a new year I feel...resolved. I stumbled upon a great inspirational post in one of my new favorite blogs, a post on the concept of "release" and it started with a quote that resonated with me:

“Three rules of work: out of clutter find simplicity; from discord find harmony;
in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein

Many of you have embraced a single word as your mantra each year. I won't pretend that I can stay fascinated with or motivated by only one word for an entire year, but I can say that the word "Release" has about as good a chance as any with me, and I plan to cozy up to it as long as I can. I think it holds lots of potential for me, and I'd like to explore it. Here are some of the many ways I hope to honor this word in 2011 (they're not resolutions, but "thought projects"!).

I would like to release more physical things from my possession, such that other intangible things may return to me. I would like to free my mind from emotional clutter.

I would like to release myself from the fear of moving forward, of succeeding, and of doing.

I hope to let go of preconceived notions I may have about people and how they should act, or what they should be or do, about artistic media and which are "appropriate" for what purpose. I would like to open my mind to more possibilities.

I want to release myself from activities that I've gotten used to doing just for the sake of doing them, for familiarity, and focus on doing things that I truly want to do. I want to have no regrets, and to make each day count. I want to make my bucket list, and feel at peace knowing that I am living with intention.

As a way of closing this book and preparing to open the next, I'll share some highlights from my year.

Some of the things I've learned this year:

1. In age and femininity there is wisdom and power, and the world has known this for some time.
2. I can make sets of beads if I want to.
3. The Sea of Cortez can be delightful in June.
4. Don't. Miss. Your Mammograms.
5. I can design a functional, beautiful bathroom!
6. You can never have too much inventory.
7. I can take pretty good pictures with a relatively inexpensive camera.
8. Boys will always be boys, and moms will always love them no matter what.
9. Some dogs enjoy a kayak ride.
10. There is no end to the beauty all around us in nature.
11. Never lock the lock unless you're certain you have the key.
12. A hug is wonderful medicine.
13. Sometimes you just have to let go and hope that they make the right choice.
14. It's not that hard to make good sourdough bread.

No wild parties here, just some contemplative time, attention to year-end paperwork, a warm fire, and preparations for a Southern-inspired feast on the 1st. More to come.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Next time I need to get a little more air

Thought you might enjoy this little video from our winter playtime at Lake Tahoe...

Superior, Speed Fly from Marshall Miller on Vimeo.

Just kidding. But isn't this the coolest thing ever? Kinda makes me queasy - glad this isn't an IMAX blog.

Book Review: The Jewelry Architect, by Kate McKinnon

Greetings! I'm back from holiday travels, but still sorting through the debris so I thought I'd share a post I did for the Love My Art Jewelry blog. Hope you're warm and enjoying the drift (so to speak) between holidays, and I'll be back atcha with a blog update very soon.

Book Review: The Jewelry Architect, by Kate McKinnon

I buy very few jewelry making books, and was delighted to receive Kate McKinnon's new book, The Jewelry Architect: techniques + projects for mixed-media jewelry, for Christmas. While I haven't yet viewed the DVD she included, I have been through all 143 pages and found it very inspiring. Possibly inspiring enough that I might actually attempt some of the sewn beadwork projects.

I first met Kate about 5 years ago, when she lived and worked in nearby Pacific Grove. I had stumbled across her excellent blog and saw that she was having an open studio (a rare event, I gathered, given the stern warnings on her website about drop-in visits), so a friend and I made the hour long drive. From the moment I met her she was free with her knowledge, and even helped me to solve a crimping problem I was having that very visit. It was enough to encourage me to sign up for her PMC class, which taught me how to make my own handmade fine silver clasps and more. Her previous books on Structural Metal Clay are valued residents of my bookshelf.

Kate's Ouroboros bracelet features a handmade fine silver (PMC) clasp, lampwork glass
beads (or felt, as you choose), and delightful sewn beadwork.

This book is a delectable smorgasbord of color, material, and technique, which not only enticed me to try some of the projects but to dream up new ones on my own. She offers basic skills in beadwork, metal clay, and stringing that you can incorporate into your own work no matter what style you embrace, and she teaches you how to build it so it will last a lifetime. I value books that can give me a foundation in some area that I may build upon later with my own experimentation.

If you're keen to learn ways to create your own handmade components that will enable you to build lasting, functional, beautiful pieces of jewelry, I highly recommend this book. I follow Kate's blog regularly and own most of her books, and found plenty of fresh inspiration and information in this one.

Kate's book is available at your local bead or book store, or you can get it from

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Art in the Garden

A few years ago I took a lot of my photographs outside in the garden. I'm a bit torn about whether this could be considered art in itself (I really do love the shot above), or whether the flora detract from the beads. I guess it all depends on the purpose of the photo.

I had the shot below made into a poster to have in my booth at art shows, so that people walking by could get a better sense of what was within if they dared enter.

A funny thing happened one year - the woman who purchased this necklace came back to my booth, and was startled to look up from my table to see her very own necklace framed, on the wall. Startled, but excited. That was fun.

I love this succulent, particularly on wet mornings when each little crevice offers me a shimmering drop of magnifying water.


Right now I'm thinking that maybe the two realms should be separate, except for special shots like the first one. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Scenes from Carmel in December

We were recently lucky to spend a balmy, wonderful weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea (yes, Clint Eastwood's former stomping grounds), and I thought I'd share some moments with you.

Dogs and dog lovers rule this beach near La Playa hotel.

One of these guys was determined to be in every shot, throwing himself in
front of the lens each time I raised the camera.

One of the loveliest, most stylish women I know.
Do you know anyone who could rock an evening gown with a metal spike studded leather bracelet?

Swine of all types grace the Hogs' Breath Inn.
This was my favorite, outside by one of their great fireplaces.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Solstice!


The winter solstice is here! It's a wonderful thing, at least for those of us who love light. I adore where we live, but our particular property is quite deficient in winter photons. From here on out (until the Summer Solstice in June) the days are getting longer. We must endure the longest night of the year first, but after that, the time we spend in the dark will be waning.

This year is extra special with a total lunar eclipse thrown in, but we're clouded in with storms and likely won't see it. Happens too often here - we missed the last great meteor shower due to fog.

So, it's a turning point, and one worth celebrating at least in some small way. Ours will involve a fire, some snow, and likely some rum cake. What will you do to celebrate this day?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Checking it twice

The Snowbunny Family

This is the season to make lots of lists and check them twice. Here's some items off of mine...

1. Adorn anything not moving with festive lights
2. Put rusty angel and wooden stars on the mantel
3. Find Bacardi Rum Cake recipe
4. Pack snowboard and thermals
5. Make ginormous lasagna
6. Wrap uber secret gifts before they're discovered
7. Locate doggie antlers, take cute pix
8. Shop for special groceries
9. Prepare for massive rain/snowstorm heading our way
10. Keep my family stoked up with extra hugs and kisses and the fire stoked with wood.
11. Replace broken welcome banner flag pole and put up Christmas banner.
12. Squeeze in impromptu lunches and dinners with friends.

christmas flag

Friday, December 17, 2010

Flashback Friday

In Montana there is a river that you can float and camp on if you're lucky enough to win a launch date in the lottery they have each spring. Well, you also have to be planning to go on a date where the flow will be enough to float your boat, so to speak. Sometimes there's just not enough water and we have to cancel, and other years it rains some or all of the time and there's too much. You just have to take your chances.

We've done this float several times with inflatable kayaks, carrying all of our gear for the week.

The river is typically very tame, with only a Class III rapid (or less) to face on the last day. Some of the bends against the cliffs can get sporty though. My son handled his boat very well on his own.

I caught a very nice brown trout (we released them) on this trip, and was very stoked. Isn't he gorgeous?

Have yourself a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Capers

I've been feeling very warm and fuzzy about all of my wonderful customers this year, and decided to pick one of my Etsy customers to be the target for a surprise gift attack, aka a giveaway. I randomly chose from my 2010 sales list, and drew...Shelley! I decided to base the gift bead choice on purchases that the customer had made, so that it would be something they'd probably like.

Shelley, you have won this focal bead from my Aquatic Series, and it's going in today's mail to you. Thank you for your support, and I hope your holidays are wonderful!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Scuba Training

A while back I saw a video on Facebook of a dog swimming under water, and lamented, "I wish my dog could do that!".

Now, after several training sessions, here's where we are:

I think we need a pool for the rest of the training.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beads of Courage on CBS Sunday Morning Show

For those of you who missed it, Jean Baruch's amazing Beads of Courage program was featured on CBS's Sunday Morning program yesterday. The segment was a great little summary of the wonderful work they do.

I was happy to spend a few hours yesterday with Jackie Marr and friends at Kiss My Glass in Santa Cruz, making beads for the program. Knowing how much good comes from these little tokens, and how much of Jean's heart has gone into this incredible project makes it very easy to do.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Flashback Friday

I thought it might be fun to start a Friday tradition where I would pick a photo or two from my archives and share them with you. Maybe stuff from years ago, maybe more recent, and the sky's the limit for content. I'm sure there will be some chuckle worthy images.

Let's get this party started!

This one is from some years ago. Don't panic - they're magnetic. Do all boys do this?

This was also the year I got my first pair of didymium lenses, the birth control model. My brother in law tried them on, and none of us realized that the little wedges with the holes in them go on the SIDE of the glasses, not next to your nose. Hmmmm.

I think this was the same winter. Don't they look lovable and cuddly?

I miss those smooth cheeks.

Have yourself an incredible weekend, k? Take a break from the shopping, or crafting, or bead making, and just relax with some tea and a good read. I'll be back soon.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Frosty Delight

I love how a simple thing like the temperature and humidity can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Nursery Pot

Nursery Pot
A discarded nursery pot.


An abandoned toy.

Frost on Deck

Frost on Deck
A weathered deck railing.



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thanks for a great time, Bargetto!

by Patty Lakinsmith

The year is soon coming to a close - can you believe it? I had my final show of the season last weekend and had a great time. Winery setting, lots of festive decorations and souls, and many friends and customers dropping by. It was my best show there in 4 years, and it really felt great. I got into this business as the economy was heading South, so it seems like each show has been a little worse than the last, but maybe this is the turnaround.

Whether it is or isn't a reversal, I always like getting out there with my work, talking about inspiration, and spreading the good word that beads can be made instead of imported. I do so appreciate my time alone at home, to imagine, and create in solitude, but there is a side of me that needs to get out from time to time and connect with others who appreciate art. Kind words and genuine curiosity about what I do with hot glass go a long way with me, and are nourishing in their own way.

It was fun to be part of several super top secret gift wrangling operations for the companions of some of the shoppers in my booth. The objects of longing glances were noticed, winks were exchanged, and notes were passed concerning certain surprise gifts that would be appreciated more than surprising. I love that.

Here's as much of my 4' x 12' booth as I could get in a reasonable photo:

My space constraints didn't allow me to get behind the table (which poses some challenges for customer engagement), so it's up against the wall and vertical. My earrings and check out stand are to the right, out of the picture. If you follow my blog you know that I'm on a constant quest for the perfect booth setup, and each show has different demands. Much as I love what others do with the artfully cluttered merchandising approach (maybe you know what I mean), I'm determined to scale back on the props for both visual and logistical reasons. I also don't feel terribly confident staging such displays, and worry that they might look silly. I'm also trying to find displays that show the work well, but are also fast to set up and tear down. So, here's where I'm at for now with this show. And yes, it all fit in my Prius. (happy face)

From here on out I'm going to be focusing on getting ready for the holidays, preparing for a little pre-Christmas fun in the snow, and making some lists of some things I want to accomplish next year. I'm thinking that some serious prioritization, and possibly some radical changes to my normal routine might be in the works.

How about you? How is your year winding down, and what are you dreaming up for next year?

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's time to start the festivities...

I am so excited to be a part of this annual event at my favorite local winery near Santa Cruz. The car is all packed and I'm shortly headed over there to set up. I hope to see some of you there this weekend!

Here's some of the work I'll be bringing with me to the show - click to see it in higher resolution:

Some of my new work for the show is already in my Etsy shop...take a look.

See you soon!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You could even grows

Stretchy bracelet with my Earthy Orbs beads and antique brass findings

Whodathunkit - my Earthy Orbs make the cutest stretchy bracelet with these antiqued brass bead caps. Yep, it's headed for my show this weekend, and yep, it's highly affordable. Soquel is the cuuutest, tiniest little suburb of Santa Cruz, with loads of antique stores, the most wonderful restaurant called Cafe Cruz, and the Pacific ocean right there too.

Bargetto Winery is a wonderful little family winery that has a beautiful outdoor patio for tasting and art events in the warm weather, and a classic cellar that has the wonderful old smell of wine and wood. It was established over 75 years ago by Italian immigrants, during the Great Depression. We'll be tucked in every nook and cranny among the barrels (trying to keep warm, as usual), with loads of fresh greenery and little white twinkly lights all around.

bargetto show
My little booth. Yet another use for the fabulous 2' x 6' grid panels,
with triangular corner shelves.
I can post a little tutorial on this setup if you like.

The first time I visited the show as a shopper I decided I had to become a part of it. There are no conventional booths there, just nooks and crannies and flexibility is key for artists and shoppers alike. It's just so...intimate and I love the vibe, the smells, the sounds (is that another cork popping?). Saturday night after the day shoppers are gone the show continues in the evening with a special wine club event, with fancy catered food, carolers, and even more holiday cheer.

So, you'll come then? I'd love to see you. Tasting is optional, but highly recommended.

Wordless Wednesday

Recently my family enjoyed a trip to the Memphis Zoo, one of the country's finest, without the usual warm weather crowds.

In my next life I want to be an otter.

I hope you rock your day. Be safe out there.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Silver Prices - The Good and the Bad

First the bad news: The price of silver is through the roof. Many jewelry artists depend on this metal for their work - some exclusively, and others partially. Either way it's not good, as the cost of buying it as a material or a finished product has never been more expensive.

I started out using exclusively sterling silver findings (headpins, ear wires, accent beads), and over the years have used more and more fine (pure) silver as I worked more with precious metal clay. The two materials work well together - you can embed fine silver wire into metal clay to make very functional components.

What are my options? Well, 50 grams of metal clay that cost me around $70 at the beginning of the year now cost close to $100. I could bit the bullet and buy more, or I could consider other materials. Perhaps the key is to just use less silver in my work, and to consider it more of an accent than a main element. Raising prices right now is not something that artists want to do. I've recently been using more alternative metals like brass and copper in my pieces, and liking the results.

One of the bright sides is that maybe this pressure will nourish a spate of creativity in us all as we look for new alternatives. Maybe (I hope) we will come to appreciate more kinds of beauty than just that associated with this one particular metal. Maybe repurposing and recycling itself will become the sought after, instead of some arbitrary, manipulated commodity.

This necklace by Reworkd on Etsy incorporates recycled vintage typewriter keys and steampunk elements, typically consisting of watch parts and other mechanical bits. Typewriter key jewelry is rampant on Etsy.

There are tons of recycled elements found in jewelry these days, from scrabble tiles, bottle caps, license plates, skeleton keys, dominos, plastic shopping bags, bullets, saris, broken china, skateboards, vinyl records, and even recycled sneakers and more.
Kathleen Plate is using recycled wine bottles for jewelry, home decor, and even clothing. This kind of work just makes me feel good inside. You know someone had a good time drinking the wine, she likely loves making things from the bottles, and when you bring one of her pieces home it makes you happy to look at it and for helping the planet.

I doubt that a rubber bracelet will ever convey as much value to its wearer as a silver one, but the other bright side of this is that now is a great time to sell your silver scrap. I'm also taking it as a personal challenge to find more creative elements to use in my jewelry, and I think that's a good thing.

How are you dealing with the price of precious metals these days?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Have you tried these?

If you told me that one day I'd be blogging about a cracker I'd have raised an eyebrow. But here I am, enjoying some homemade white bean and ham soup, and some of the best crackers I've ever, ever eaten. They are the Raincoast Crisps, and this one is the fig and olive variant.

Canadian chef, philanthropist and entrepreneur Lesley Stowe has found the perfect recipes for these amazing gourmet carbs, and I'm aiming to try each and every one. These preservative free crackers have been around since 2006, but I've only discovered them in the last year in our nearby mountain market. They come in the original recipe, rosemary raisin pecan, salty date and almnod, cinnamon raisin, fig and olive, and cranberry hazelnut. They're great on their own but are amazing with other toppings such as cheese or olive spread.

If you want to find out if they're in a store near you, click here.

Practical Jokes for Home Builders

Neighborhood development entrance seen in a recent trip to Memphis.

Ahhh, the power possessed by the developer. Can you imagine living there?


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