Monday, December 26, 2011

thank you. just, thank you.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

As the days remaining in this very long, 
very challenging year draw to a close
I want to thank you.

Thank you for nourishing my artistic growth,
helping me reach for my dreams,
and believing in me.
Thank you for being there 
when I have needed a shoulder 
(more often than I care to admit),
or a laugh 
(always seeking this),
or a helping hand 
(learning to accept this with grace),
or some good advice 
(even if I don't always follow it), 
or a reminder of my inner strength.

I need to be better about
giving back more of the healing energy
that I have received in such kindness.
and as I go forward into 2012 that is my goal.

We'd never know how high we are
till we are called to rise;
and then, if we are true to plan,
our statures touch the sky.
- Emily Dickinson

I wish you the peace and wonder
of a star-filled night sky,
love it all its purity,
courage to climb your mountains,
and health to carry you through.
I hope you enjoy some precious time
with those that you love.

I love you.

- Patty

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sacramento Arts Festival *Update!*

Oh my God!  What has happened to my brain?  How could I of the most beautiful moments during the show was when I met 11 year old glassblowing phenom Theoren Hanks!  His mom reached me on Facebook and said he wanted to meet me, and fortunately this show was in their area.  What an amazing young man, and how wonderful it is that his parents are helping to encourage his artistic development.  Though I believe he's more smitten with glassblowing than lampwork, I hope to have a chance to sit next to him at the torch some day.

*     *     *

I just wanted to let you know how awesome the Sacramento Arts Festival was (again) this year, and share a few images.  Our booths were rearranged a bit as we were in a different hall than usual, so I got to meet some new neighbors.  Cerri from Crow's Feet Folk Art dressed the part every day, and her personality was as awesome as her art.

 Thank you for loaning me your wire cutters, Cerri!

Brad Henry pottery was my other neighbor and I got to look at his awesome surfboard shaped platters all day long for three days.  His work was fresh and fun.

 See that terra cotta and green one, fourth from the left?  One day I hope to own it.

I was lucky to be situated on the end of a row, probably about 15 yards from some of the best Gyros ever, and was fairly close to the stage.  The bad news was that I was so busy during the show I seldom had a chance to eat, and occasionally GG Amos played so loud that I couldn't talk to my customers very easily.  But I loved seeing them perform, and I loved how Warren booked back to back entertainment for all three days.  It's not just a show, it's a partay.

GG was dressed to kill on Saturday.
I found out just before the show that one of my new favorite artists, Kathy Frey was going to be in the show as well.  Woot!  I enjoyed several conversations with her, and told her that she had inspired by latest booth makeover.  She has moved on from the woodsy theme that inspired me to a clean look that suits her work very well.  I'm kicking myself for not taking pictures of her in her very smart looking booth. 

It was lovely seeing some of my customers from prior years return, as well as friends and extended family in the area.  It was also nice to see fellow flameworkers Rita Forman, Adi Braeman, and Harlan Simon again this year, even if I didn't have much time to visit.  It's people like this that made the 3 days on my feet worthwhile.  Next time I need to remember:  a chef's mat to stand on (my two layers of carpeting didn't cut it, and I gave my rubber interlocking floor tiles to my customers outside the booth). Visit the Love My Art Jewelry blog on Tuesday for an entire post on booth flooring.

My tabletop makeover worked pretty well, but I could have used more lighting.  I was really happy with the way my necklace busts turned out, as well as the bamboo runners, and LED lighted branches.

See you next year, Sacramento!  Thank you for supporting the arts, and thank you for a wonderful time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

How would you like to get your hands on THIS?

If this makes you giddy, then you simply must get over to the Love My Art Jewelry blog immediately, to learn the details about our latest mega-giveaway.  Tout de suite!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

And more...

Here are two more pieces coming to the show this weekend:

Another long necklace in lampwork beads in warm tones, African Carnelian, faceted Whiskey Quartz cubes (have you tried it with pomegranate juice?), handmade copper bead caps, and antiqued brass, that can be doubled up for a fuller look.  Two different clasp points provide versatility.

Another mixed media piece with lampwork pods, viney tendrils, feathers, and handmade felt on Viking Knit in antiqued brass.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New work

Well, the completion part is new, but this piece has been on my table for months and months.  It's been a while since I made one of my larger pieces on a Viking Knit base, and I've been dreaming about something like this for some time.  I made the end cones from glass using a cone mandrel, and incorporated handmade felt leftover from the Convergence II project I did with Cyndie Smith, and lots of little berries and balls made from silvered glass.  I so love working off the end of the mandrel!
My indoor photography skills are rusty!

I'm  thinking it would look nice with a gown like this (maybe with a happier princess wearing it):

Or even nicer would be this one:


Necklace bust makeover: Complete

and I'm so glad I didn't throw out all of that handmade paper. Looks pretty good on these. The tissue paper was way too thin and actually looked a little creepy on the busts, even after several coats (cobwebs? Blame it on Halloween...).

Thank you, Mod Podge, and thank you to the dusty corners of my creative grey matter for remembering this option.

Some of the handmade paper was tinted with spices from my cupboard, and some included dried flowers from my garden.
I think this new piece (SOLD) would have faded into dark oblivion on a black bust.
 They're all ready to head to the Sacramento Arts Festival this weekend.  I'll be posting one or two more shots of new work before I head to the show.  I hope to see you there!  Show info is here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Revamped necklace displays

This garden statue made a great photo op for this necklace, but it's very heavy to lug around.  I may still use it though, as it's really stunning (when she's not face down in the garden, poor girl, knocked over by an emerging gopher).

It's showtime again for me, and once again I'm spending almost as much time on my props and display ideas as I am on my jewelry. It's such a fun challenge to create a physical storefront that's cohesive with your jewelry brand, yet easy to carry around and set up / break down, and not too hard on the budget.  I like challenges like this, but unfortunately it's meant a lot of changes as I move forward from show to show.

 Sights like this fascinate me when I walk in the woods. 

Anyway, this time I'm moving toward more natural displays.  I was inspired by Kathy Frey's similar journey, and realized that most of my pieces also reflect the natural surroundings in which I create, so why not display them among the natural objects that inspire them?  Wood, water, moss and stone are the things that tend to capture my eye when hiking, and I think my jewelry looks right at home among those elements. 

The first thing I had to fix was my necklace busts.  They're functional, but oh so common, and oh so boring.  These things can be expensive, so I decided to just give mine a facelift.  I've got a mix of natural fiber (with water stains) and black leatherette busts and both need some work.  I decided to take a decoupage approach with the fiber busts, and threw all care to the wind and got out my Mod Podge and tissue paper.  I figured they couldn't look worse than they already did, so why not?  These photos show the busts with only 1 or 2 layers of tissue - I've only gotten started and more layers will be added.  I kind of like the look of the fabric texture showing through the tissue paper, but I can still make out some stains so I'll add another layer or two, and then a sealer when I'm done.

 Original vinyl bust on the left, fabric covered bust on the right with a couple of layers of decoupage.

Need some more layers on this one.
I've hated the black leatherette (let's just get it out there - they're VINYL:  eeew) busts for some time now.  When I first started out I used mostly black display props, but now I'm convinced that lighter is better with my jewelry, especially as I use more antiqued brass versus silver.  For this bust I first did a few layers of crinkled tissue paper mache, and let it dry overnight.  This gave the spray on coating a little something to cling to, a primer.  Then I took some of the spray-on faux stone paint and gave it a few coats as well.  I think this is going to look just great among the other elements.

 Faux stone spray paint.  Brilliant.

I'll be doing the Sacramento Arts Festival this weekend, November 4, 5, and 6 at the Convention Center, so if you're in the area, please do stop on by and check out my new displays.  Just give them my name and they'll put you on my guest list, and you can enter for no charge.  I'll post pictures next week of how it all comes together.  There's lots more changes afoot and I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Are you a cluttered creative?

Enjoy this mirror of my Tuesday post for the Love My Art Jewelry blog, and have yourself a wonderful, harmonious day.

My name is Patty and I am a cluttered creative.  It's gotten to the point where I need to have a few grown up words with this demon.  My creative space, my office, my bedroom closet, my garage - where to start?  There are so many targets of opportunity.  Don't get me wrong - you won't be seeing me on an episode of "Hoarders" any time soon (probably never), but the ratio of stuff to space has just become a little overwhelming in our small space.  My ability to create is hampered by my inability to find things on my crowded workbench, and there is no free space to start new projects.  I have purchased special storage containers, and have even started using some of them, but I fall down in the regular upkeep.  I am weighed down by a feeling of overwhelm.

The key, I'm told, is that once you purge your life of clutter, you make room for new things, new joy, and new experiences.  Since my mantra for this year is "Release", I plan to interpret it literally and make some hard decisions.  Release materials I know deep inside that I'll never use.  Release clothing I should have never bought, or no longer wear.  Release my mind from old ways of thinking to embrace the new.  Right.  Easier said than done.

And then I found Jennifer Hofmann over at the blog, and I am hopeful.  Her site is aimed at creative people, and she has a ton of great, gentle advice.  I clicked on the cloud tag "clutter", and found this great set of posts.  I was hooked the minute I read this "Manifesto for Cluttered Creatives", and it starts like this...
I have the right to express myself 
(c) Jennifer Hofmann, Inspired Home

to live my life as I see fit
to say no and mean it
to say yes with my whole being to what I love

I have the right to my own creative space
to draw a real or imaginary line around my domain and claim it for myself
to a door that closes
to absolute silence when I need it

I have the right to spread out
to interact with my ideas
to see them
to touch them
and doodle in the margins
until the ideas seep into my bones and become mine

I have a right to a sacred space
that is free from intrusions
that is free from guilt
that completely supports my spirit
that is truly sacred space
powerful as an ancient circle of standing stones...

for the rest of this wonderfully inspiring manifesto visit the inspiredhomeoffice website.

Invigorated by what I read, I attacked my closet last weekend, and I won.  A small closet, and as such, a small victory, but a monumental boost for my morale.  Does anyone need any hangers?  Not the wire ones from the dry cleaners - those are all bundled up ready to return.  I actually have free plastic, metal, and wooden hangars, and free cubby space in the closet.  And floor space.  And room to move hangers about on the rod.  Hot damn.  I've got a carload of items for Goodwill and a small pile of decent things that can actually go to the wonderful Career Closet.  Yay.  Baby steps, right?

My attention next turned to the guest room I use as a temporary office, and I made some headway.  Two bags of shredded paper, and dwindling piles. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Now I need to go face the hydra in my studio...

and this is only one fraction of the space...

Are you like me, or have you already found the secret to avoiding this kind of disaster?  Do tell...I'm with you either way in this never ending quest for simplicity, harmony, and opportunity. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Idyllic Fall Weekend

I have finally assimilated into Northern California Living.  On Saturday I helped a friend to harvest her wine grapes, and it was an awesome way to fill an afternoon.  My only regret is that I was too camera shy to capture more images of the people and sights when we celebrated afterwards...the lovely late autumn light in the hilltop barn among the vines, the spiny lobster sizzling on the grill, children playing among the wine making equipment, face after satisfied face around the long table we dined on.  My very first ever glimpse of a monkeytail (honestly, I had no idea this was going on.  I am the last person on earth to notice facial hair trends.  Truly.).  But I did get a few shots of our work time.

 Not a great year for Santa Cruz Mountain grapes, but the vineyard yielded an occasional pocket of goodness.

 I learned the 2 bucket trick quickly - one to sit on, one to fill.  My back thanked me hours later.  Most of the grapes were below waist level on the vine.

 Bob and the gang sorted, de-stemmed, and generally did all of the hard winemaking work.

 The destemming machine was amazing.

 Stems be gone!

Soon this will be delicious pinot noir.

Ken and his son came in this awesome amphicar, and it looks just like this one - can you believe it?  He apparently built it from a kit. In addition to the license plate required for terrestrial use it bore CF registration numbers required for aquatic use.  How cool is that?

 It's a car.  It's a boat.  It's an amphicar!

The lifejacket in the back seat was the finishing touch.

And we did get some shots with the girls, but unfortunately most of them make me look like the Crazy Chicken Lady, or the Crazy Bead Lady, or maybe just a Crazy Lady, but the chicken photo shoot mission was accomplished.  The shorter days have been mirrored in no uncertain ways with our girls - with the Princess has stopped laying altogether it seems, and eggs from Chica are becoming rare.  Lucille, our star layer, is still aiming for one a day, but misses every now and then.  I put a light inside the coop to perhaps coax a little more from them this winter, but we'll see how that is received.

 Princess Lay-A, who probably needs a new last name now that the days are shorter, as she's slacking off her duties.  Wait until she finds out about that "earning her keep" deal...I bet she comes around then.  If not, I guess we wheel the Weber down there, as some friends suggested (no!  just kidding Miss Princess!).

 Lucille has been the best layer ever, continuing to outshine her "sisters" into the early fall.  She was taken with the beads in my necklace, but not so much that she didn't enjoy a nice waddle fondling.  Who wouldn't?

Finally, I paid a visit to my friend Rachel during Santa Cruz Open Studios this weekend, and she was radiant in her new short haircut.  I loved her hair before, but I must admit that her new do keeps pace with her cutting edge artistic flair.  I just love visiting her studio, where inspiration is found in every glance.  Her space there among a number of talented artists there in the 17th Avenue Studios was animated, with lots of visitors.

The eye candy in Rachel's space is un. frigging.  believable.

 Sea Star Bangle, by Rachel Nelson-Smith.  If you want to see her amazing c.v., it's here.

Yes, I did get back into my own studio, but it was not terribly satisfying, as it was hard for me to pick up on some of my more challenging projects after my long hiatus.  I think I need to start with some of the more straightforward ones, instead of the experiments in progress I put on the shelf a while back. 

So, that's it in a rather large nutshell.  I hope the early fall is being uber-kind to you. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Yeah, this one's for you.

Bursting heart necklace by Artesserae, on Etsy.  This San Francisco-based artist does some really cool work - check out her pomegranate pieces.

My heart is just bursting with love.  I have been in a cave of self-imposed exile for some time now, mostly disconnected from all of my normal social feeds, not writing like I normally do, just trying to figure out this crazy train ride called "life", and my space has been rather empty and echo-ey.  I had a birthday yesterday and much to my surprise it was just amazing, filled with all kinds of love that caught me by surprise, since it was a regular work day (a full one, at that) and my husband was out of town.  Four different people or groups sang happy birthday to me, and tons of wonderful peeps from all over the world sent greetings through Facebook (the birthday feature is amazingly one of the best things about that site), email, and the phone, and more than one card I received brought tears to my eyes.  Much to my delight, friends I had not heard from in years reached out, and ones I see more often left me small gifts on my doorstep.  It was unbelievably sweet from the moment I opened my eyes until they fell shut late last night.

Mother nature reached out too, by presenting me with the biggest, most perfect harvest moon ever, an owl silhouetted on a wire, spectacular morning fog blankets in the seaside farm fields, and a quick glimpse of a fleeing coyote or mountain lion just outside the range of my headlights as I drove on our road last night.  The moon caught me by surprise in a big way, and I actually heard myself say "Thank you, God" when I saw it.  Yes, this Pastafarian said that, and I was more surprised than anyone.  I wouldn't hold my breath on that one happening again, but I found it very interesting.

 So, thank you, friends, for the love that you show in so many wonderful ways. I am looking forward to some long overdue studio time this weekend, and to more birthday celebrations with my fellow Librans.  And possibly a photo shoot with chickens.  What could be better than that?  

Hugs and kisses ring from California artist SmilingSilverSmith, on Etsy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, October

It's amazing how many people I hold dear to my heart were born in this glorious month.  I can't think of a better month to enter this world, can you?  How can you beat warm hands held on cool nights, colorful leaves, and cider? Or the homecoming parade, football games, or soups and stews made to stock the freezer for the winter ahead?  Or the discovery of last year's most recently purchased sweaters, not worn enough to be tiresome, waiting to keep you toasty?  Or flannel sheets?

Happy Birthday my friends.  I hope your celebration is as special as you are.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Big Projects

We all have them, but some are particularly noteworthy.  Chica Loca continues to amaze and astound us with her laying prowess, and just the other day sacrificed more than we will ever know to bring her own secret project to completion. 

Standing tall at 3.08" (1.78" in diameter), and 95 grams, this is amazingly not a record setting egg.  (Sigh).  We were sure upon discovering it that we'd be quitting our day jobs and moving to Hollywood, but alas, it appears that the record was set by a little feathered gal up at Petaluma Egg Farm (egg laying capital of the world, you know) this past 4th of July.  Hers was 156.7gms, 2.3 inches in diameter, and 3.25 inch long.

Chica laid this monster egg yesterday, shown here beside the rest of the XL eggs she and her sisters lay.  I told her to take the rest of the weekend off but she insisted on going back to work today.

Chica, you are still a star in our book.

I hope all of your Big Projects are producing great results.  Ours definitely are.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future...but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
-- Siddhartha Gautama Buddha


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