Week #6 Musings and More    Friday, February 14, 2020

Wow, what a week.  I'm going to start off with my weekly jewelry update this time, then we'll follow up from last week.

So... I did NOT meet my quota of 10 pieces of jewelry last week and it's okay.  I give myself a pardon when something out of the ordinary comes up... and it did.

Last week I had the great good fortune of being able to take a four-day intensive workshop with guest instructor Valentina Caprini.  She is a traditionally trained Italian filigree artist as well as being just a really awesome artist all around.  The class was being hosted by the Metal Arts Academy in Auburn, CA.

I won't get too much into explaining the things we learned (sorry, I'm behind in everything), but I will definitely say Valentina pushed us all out of our comfort zones (in a good way).  At the end of the workshop, we each had a unique and personal piece displaying the traditional technique of filigree with a contemporary jewelry flair.  I wish I'd taken photos of the works of the other students... I was so impressed with everyone.

Here's my piece...



The other things I made this week (four jewelry items in total) include, two pair of the hammered heart earrings...



And one pair of large(ish) hammered disk earrings...



So that's four pieces for the week, but I think next week will make up for this.  AND... now I have a new technique/skill to work on and throw into my own jewelry mix.  Yay!

Now, as a follow up to last week, I want to share with you some of the comments that people wrote about my blog post.  As you may recall, last week I mused about how some people discourage rather than encourage artistic creativity on the internet.  This seemed to be a real hot topic and I was touched by the outpouring of support in defense of being a nurturer rather than a critic.  Although some people misunderstood and thought I had my feelings hurt... that was untrue and it was not what the blog post was about.  I was perfectly fine but I was appauled to think how newbies may have been interpreting the criticism.

Anyway, I wanted to compile some of the love :-) and share it with you here.  Since my Facebook profile as well as this blog are public, I feel I am not taking liberties by sharing public comments in one place.  The reason I want to share these comments is because some of them are extremely eloquent and because I want more and more people to know that there are totally a ton of inclusion nurturers out there... also to know that many of us have experienced this negative type of criticism, so if it ever happens to you, you're in good company.  The following are not all the great comments by a long shot, but I wanted to at least post some of the ones that I thought shared extra supportive sentiments.

"Everyone starts somewhere and sharing allows us to learn and grow. One of my favorite book recommendations is Show your Work by Austin Kleon. Show Your Work!"

"Thank you for sharing your heart, we have all prob experienced "this" person at some point or another. I actually had a glass peep stop me at a show when I was wearing a best selling design offering to demo how to do it "correctly". I just smiled and thanked HIM and walked on."

"As artists we all have felt the cut of the negative comment. Pulling ourselves out of the hole it leaves us in is another challenge that we shouldn't have to face."

"Laura, your blog post really touched my heart! I also love that you are trying new techniques and pushing your skills. Its the only way to grow. When I see "critiques" go off the rails like that... ugh. I'm sorry you experienced it directly, and you have exactly the right perspective about learning techniques and baby steps, etc. I'm with you 100%!"

"I just read your blog and it really spoke to me. I feel that some people are just bullies who hide behind the veil of social media. Their purpose is just to criticize, not give helpful advice. The only way they can feel better about themselves is to put someone else down. Logically, you know what they’re doing, but emotionally it has an effect."

"If your spirit is flying as you make then that is "art" regardless of some high definition of "ART" may be for some. I wonder if some consider Andy Worhol was just a clip-art guy or Marcel Duchamp and the "Readymade" genre to be on a par with "Sham-WOW""

"For me the negative comments get stuck in my head, much more so than positive ones. I was never encouraged to pursue art growing up or even as an adult. Positive feedback helps us know we're heading in the right direction. Very few of us are masters of a craft when we start out, those who are, that's great but most of us need to learn. I'm grateful to people like you who freely share knowledge and encourage others along their journey."

"It is Dreadful that such a person felt entitled to give such thoughtless and cruel Posts... there are degrees of Artistry & Originality of Creativity that We All go thru as we Learn A New Technique or Skill... and We Often Must Master a Technique by Practicing the Techniques Pioneered By Artisans Before Us... This is a Necessary aspect as we evolve our Own Artistry and Our Own Craftsmanship Skills and as we go from Student, to Art Practicer, to Artisan to Master / Artist... But there is the Employment Of Artistry in every Step on Our Path... And it is only a Very Damaged Mind that Can Not Understand That!  Students learning from a Master are Often Instructed to Try a “Study” of the Masters Works by Trying to Draw or Paint a Portion Of The Masters Painting in Order to Understand Brush Strokes and Light.  Apprentices in many Crafts are often instructed to make the same item as the Master, to Perfect Techniques. This has been done for a Thousand Years... Of course as we grow in Our Own Artistry we Develop Our Own Imagery. That is Very Important. We mustn’t Copy or Plagiarize our Masters... But we can not learn and grow our skills without Studying Their Process.  Their Imagery is Precious and It Belongs Solely & Entirely to the Artist who Designed it... But The Skills are for all Artists / Artisans.  And of course Many Iconic Images are for Use By All Humans. Anyone can Draw a Heart or a Rose Etc... Even some Patterns & Subjects Belongs to All Humanity At Large. They are Part of Our Human Lexicon. They are in the Public Domain!  But I do believe that as we learn, we must endeavor to make the Heart Or Rose or Pattern Etc... Your Own Somehow... But All artists are allowed to visit the basics of world Imagery."

"There’s this pervasive, mistaken belief that one must have “talent” in order to engage in artistic pursuits. My personal experiences combined with 20+ years teaching arts to adults, I can tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Art is for everyone at every level. Practicing an art form, any art form, can be a form of meditation. It doesn’t have to have an end goal or finished product. Just the act of applying color to a page, or changing the shape of clay, can get you out of your own head for a while. The activity itself can calm the mind and bring its own joy and contentment.  I love encouraging my students to play and explore; to try and fail and make mistakes and find hidden successes they weren’t expecting. When you let go of a “finished product”, and embrace the process, it’s very freeing. By disrespecting or disparaging people who are trying new thing, you strip them of that joy and discourage them from even trying. That is what makes me the most sad about all this."

"I have felt crushed by comments, or even a lack of them. I don't share like I used to, either. But I'm probably more self-critical of my work than anyone else."

Thank you to everyone who has ever encouraged creativity!!!

Week #6 Musings and More    Friday, February 14, 2020

Wow, what a week.  I'm going to start off with my weekly jewelry update this time, then we'll follow up from last week.

So... I did NOT meet my quota of 10 pieces of jewelry last week and it's okay.  I give myself a pardon when something out of the ordinary comes up... and it did.

Last week I had the great good fortune of being able to take a four-day intensive workshop with guest instructor Valentina Caprini.  She is a traditionally trained Italian filigree artist as well as being just a really awesome artist all around.  The class was being hosted by the Metal Arts Academy in Auburn, CA.

I won't get too much into explaining the things we learned (sorry, I'm behind in everything), but I will definitely say Valentina pushed us all out of our comfort zones (in a good way).  At the end of the workshop, we each had a unique and personal piece displaying the traditional technique of filigree with a contemporary jewelry flair.  I wish I'd taken photos of the works of the other students... I was so impressed with everyone.

Here's my piece...



The other things I made this week (four jewelry items in total) include, two pair of the hammered heart earrings...



And one pair of large(ish) hammered disk earrings...



So that's four pieces for the week, but I think next week will make up for this.  AND... now I have a new technique/skill to work on and throw into my own jewelry mix.  Yay!

Now, as a follow up to last week, I want to share with you some of the comments that people wrote about my blog post.  As you may recall, last week I mused about how some people discourage rather than encourage artistic creativity on the internet.  This seemed to be a real hot topic and I was touched by the outpouring of support in defense of being a nurturer rather than a critic.  Although some people misunderstood and thought I had my feelings hurt... that was untrue and it was not what the blog post was about.  I was perfectly fine but I was appauled to think how newbies may have been interpreting the criticism.

Anyway, I wanted to compile some of the love :-) and share it with you here.  Since my Facebook profile as well as this blog are public, I feel I am not taking liberties by sharing public comments in one place.  The reason I want to share these comments is because some of them are extremely eloquent and because I want more and more people to know that there are totally a ton of inclusion nurturers out there... also to know that many of us have experienced this negative type of criticism, so if it ever happens to you, you're in good company.  The following are not all the great comments by a long shot, but I wanted to at least post some of the ones that I thought shared extra supportive sentiments.

"Everyone starts somewhere and sharing allows us to learn and grow. One of my favorite book recommendations is Show your Work by Austin Kleon. Show Your Work!"

"Thank you for sharing your heart, we have all prob experienced "this" person at some point or another. I actually had a glass peep stop me at a show when I was wearing a best selling design offering to demo how to do it "correctly". I just smiled and thanked HIM and walked on."

"As artists we all have felt the cut of the negative comment. Pulling ourselves out of the hole it leaves us in is another challenge that we shouldn't have to face."

"Laura, your blog post really touched my heart! I also love that you are trying new techniques and pushing your skills. Its the only way to grow. When I see "critiques" go off the rails like that... ugh. I'm sorry you experienced it directly, and you have exactly the right perspective about learning techniques and baby steps, etc. I'm with you 100%!"

"I just read your blog and it really spoke to me. I feel that some people are just bullies who hide behind the veil of social media. Their purpose is just to criticize, not give helpful advice. The only way they can feel better about themselves is to put someone else down. Logically, you know what they’re doing, but emotionally it has an effect."

"If your spirit is flying as you make then that is "art" regardless of some high definition of "ART" may be for some. I wonder if some consider Andy Worhol was just a clip-art guy or Marcel Duchamp and the "Readymade" genre to be on a par with "Sham-WOW""

"For me the negative comments get stuck in my head, much more so than positive ones. I was never encouraged to pursue art growing up or even as an adult. Positive feedback helps us know we're heading in the right direction. Very few of us are masters of a craft when we start out, those who are, that's great but most of us need to learn. I'm grateful to people like you who freely share knowledge and encourage others along their journey."

"It is Dreadful that such a person felt entitled to give such thoughtless and cruel Posts... there are degrees of Artistry & Originality of Creativity that We All go thru as we Learn A New Technique or Skill... and We Often Must Master a Technique by Practicing the Techniques Pioneered By Artisans Before Us... This is a Necessary aspect as we evolve our Own Artistry and Our Own Craftsmanship Skills and as we go from Student, to Art Practicer, to Artisan to Master / Artist... But there is the Employment Of Artistry in every Step on Our Path... And it is only a Very Damaged Mind that Can Not Understand That!  Students learning from a Master are Often Instructed to Try a “Study” of the Masters Works by Trying to Draw or Paint a Portion Of The Masters Painting in Order to Understand Brush Strokes and Light.  Apprentices in many Crafts are often instructed to make the same item as the Master, to Perfect Techniques. This has been done for a Thousand Years... Of course as we grow in Our Own Artistry we Develop Our Own Imagery. That is Very Important. We mustn’t Copy or Plagiarize our Masters... But we can not learn and grow our skills without Studying Their Process.  Their Imagery is Precious and It Belongs Solely & Entirely to the Artist who Designed it... But The Skills are for all Artists / Artisans.  And of course Many Iconic Images are for Use By All Humans. Anyone can Draw a Heart or a Rose Etc... Even some Patterns & Subjects Belongs to All Humanity At Large. They are Part of Our Human Lexicon. They are in the Public Domain!  But I do believe that as we learn, we must endeavor to make the Heart Or Rose or Pattern Etc... Your Own Somehow... But All artists are allowed to visit the basics of world Imagery."

"There’s this pervasive, mistaken belief that one must have “talent” in order to engage in artistic pursuits. My personal experiences combined with 20+ years teaching arts to adults, I can tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Art is for everyone at every level. Practicing an art form, any art form, can be a form of meditation. It doesn’t have to have an end goal or finished product. Just the act of applying color to a page, or changing the shape of clay, can get you out of your own head for a while. The activity itself can calm the mind and bring its own joy and contentment.  I love encouraging my students to play and explore; to try and fail and make mistakes and find hidden successes they weren’t expecting. When you let go of a “finished product”, and embrace the process, it’s very freeing. By disrespecting or disparaging people who are trying new thing, you strip them of that joy and discourage them from even trying. That is what makes me the most sad about all this."

"I have felt crushed by comments, or even a lack of them. I don't share like I used to, either. But I'm probably more self-critical of my work than anyone else."

Thank you to everyone who has ever encouraged creativity!!!

Week #5 Musings and More    Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Last week I promised you I was gonna dish.  So here's the deal.  Not everyone is self-actualized... many artists I know are thin-skinned... Do we allow people's words to affect us, even though we know we shouldn't?  There was an incident a few months back where I posted an image on social media of some pendants that were made using a technique that, while not requiring a lot of skill, can still produce some nice results and turns out a ton of people are interested in it.

Everything was going great until one person decided to go off on a tirade about how "it's not art!".  Well, dude, first of all, I never SAID it was art.  I said, "Hey guys, here's the results of some of my experiments with blah-blah-blah technique."  And sometimes just knowing how to do something can LEAD to art as the interested party learns the technique and takes it in their own direction. And this is a great example.  The technique in question was using purchased water-slide decals and firing them onto enamel.  After learning how to do that, I now create my own drawings and turn them into my own decals.  But I *started out* by using purchased decals first.  Sometimes babysteps are involved.  Secondly, why are you being so condescending?  Alas, in my non-confrontational way, of course I said none of that aloud... I basically just ignored him.  But my post (and all the "oohs" and "ahs" for my post), must have really pushed one of his buttons because he continued... on and on ... and on and on and on.  Comment after comment about what art is and isn't and how what I was showing is a sham, etc.  And as if commenting ad nauseam on MY post wasn't enough, he went on to start two or three of his own threads informing the public what art is and isn't.  One creation might take more work and/or skill than another creation, but there is no cause to ever bash someone's efforts in public.  And as I've said, sometimes what we do is the beginning of a learned skill and we know full well we have a ways to go to work on that particular technique.

Also, no one can tell me what art is and isn't.  Art can't actually be defined because it's subjective... like "love".  I was reading an article the other day on the exploration of the meaning of art which described art this way: "Art is often considered the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions."  I won't disagree.  I don't see anything in there about "Oh, you can't use THIS item or THIS technique, 'cause those aren't art!" 

The article continues with: "The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics."  I could go on but won't because there are billions of articles on the subject of the definition of art.  

Anyway, my second point is, to me, much more serious and relevant.  What did this person's negative comments do to all the budding jewelry artists who may be currently exploring that technique or other equally less-challenging techniques?  Unfortunately, I know one of the effects for sure because I heard from more than a few members of that Facebook Group who said after reading that no way were they going to post any of their own work.  Oh my gosh, this destroys my soul.  

Please please please...  if you're anyone in power, if you're anyone full of confidence, if you're anyone who is the master of their art form... use your power for good, not evil.  If you're strong, pick up the weak, don't tread on them.  I'm here to tell you that your words do have an effect.  

I know some people believe that if a person is really serious about their work, they won't be swayed by negativity that comes their way.  But this is the real world and not everyone is so self-actualized that they can carry on confidently in the face of vitriol.  

I think you get my point so now I need to switch gears and tell you about the opposite... the nurturers.  There are people who encourage, inspire, and assist others.  There are people who seem to just naturally be supportive.  I admire these people because I know first hand the effect it can have on someone's art.  Again, should it?  Probably not, but the reality is that it most often does.  I am not a duck and water doesn't just flow off my back.  Artists are generally passionate and emotional people, and most of the ones I know do let their environment affect them from time to time.

So I'd like to give a big shoutout to two people who I admire for being, not only at the top of their respective fields in jewelry making, but two great examples of supportive, inspiring artists.  I've never seen either one of these artists talk down to anyone, disparage anyone's work, or just be negative or condescending in the slightest.  There are many, many artists like this, but these two are people I've had interactions with in such a way that I was really touched by how NOT condescending they were.  And if anyone would have the right to be condescending it would be someone at the top of their game.  Instead, they reach out to everyone equally and treat others with respect.  

So thank you Jill Tower and Pam East for being great examples of what a strong artist can do for the up-and-coming artists.  (You should click on their links because their talent is amazing!)

And now for the mundane stuff.  :-)  We're in week five now of my new year's resolution to create 10 pieces of jewelry each week.  Some were fun experiments that took me all day.  Others were... not.

The first piece I made was my third attempt at cloisonne and since I messed up the silver even before I started the enamel portion of the project, I knew I was keeping this one for myself.



After that, I made three more prong-set Jasper heart pendants, similar to but each slightly different from the one I made last week.



I made two cloisonne heart pendants...



Then I made a two pair of hammer textured sterling silver heart earrings (very lightweight).



And finally I made two double-sided heart pendants using the rolling mill.  One I took to the Auburn gallery, the other I donated to the High Hand gallery for a raffle there this Sunday.



Did I mention tomorrow I start a four-day workshop at Metal Arts Academy in Auburn?  I'm taking a class on filigree taught by Valentina Caprini.  Very excited... a little nervous (but that's just because I'm the nervous type).

Okay, see you all next week!

Week #4 Musings and More    Tuesday, January 28, 2020

I want to make another resolution of sorts.  I want to try to get a photo of every piece of jewelry before I take it to one of the galleries.  It's rather nice having a record of my work.  I go back and reference things quite a bit.

There.  Now that I'ver written it down, and in public no less, does that make it official?

So I did manage to hit my "10" this week.  I had eight, but I figured if I'm going to the gallery anyway, I should make it worth my effort so I made two more simple pendants that were in a style I've been doing with earrings for a couple weeks.

Some of my other pieces were distinctly NOT simple pendants.  So... this week I tried my hand at something I'd been wanting to do for quite some time.  I tried cloisonne.  I managed two pieces.  For the first, I used transparent enamels, but kind of forgot what I read about "warm colors" and silver.  It's okay... I'm still cool with a rust-red sun.  So for the second piece, I used opaques (just while I get my bearings on the whole "warm colors" things).  These are the two pieces and I owe a huge thanks to anyone who's ever written a book on enameling, shared a tip on Facebook, or posted an online video.  I'm most likely going to be taking a proper class later this year (I've got Merry-Lee Rae in mind as well as Pam East).



Then I made some spinner rings because I have two more outstanding custom orders and I like to make spinner rings in small batches because it's so much easier than doing one at a time from start to finish.  And next to the spinners is a ring that was going to be a spinner but I decided to just leave it as a wide band ring instead.  



Then in an attempt to be timely at something for a change, I decided to make some heart jewelry.  I wasn't really sure what I was going to do but here's what ended up happening.



So there we go.  Ten pieces in one week.  It felt really good to take the majority of these to the gallery and start to fill my case.

So the bad news is that as usual my jewelry is all over the place, style-wise... but the good news is I've been at this for three weeks in a row... meeting my new year's resolution.  Whoohoo!  

Okay, next week I may add to my weekly post with some actual musings.  I've been thinking lately about some very nice people in this industry... and some not so nice people (although it's probably not malicious... just their personality).  Okay, dishing later.  Toodles!

Week #3 Musings and More    Thursday, January 23, 2020

Sorry... no real musings this week.

First off, I'm two days late.  Apologies.

I have three custom orders on my plate and I'm procrastinating.  Anyone else feel huge pressure when it comes to custom orders?

Anyway, to get this out of the way, yes, I did meet my weekly goal of making at least 10 pieces of jewelry.  As a matter of fact, I made 14.  Twelve of the 14 were more of the hammer textured gold-fill earrings.



Here's my display at the Auburn Old Town Gallery.  You can see most of the earrings in the upper right of this photo.




The other two pieces were a bracelet cuff similar to one I made earlier... this is the new one (sorry, quick photo in the gallery)...



... and my first attempt at champleve enamel on fine silver.

 



So I'm happy for reaching the goal two weeks in a row.  Ha ha ha!  

I'm sure I had more to say but the power just came back on (PG&E scheduled all day outage) and I have so things I have to take care of so any biz babble will wait until next week.  

See you then!

Week #2 Musings and More    Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Let's see how long I can keep this up.  I'm a fan of New Year's Resolutions.  I'm a fan of starting anything.  I love starting projects!  It's so exciting with the potential and the expectations, the lists, the organizing, the research, etc.

What I'm not overly brilliant at is the follow through.  Therefore, I go into this thinking I'll be providing a couple weeks (months if I'm amazing) of these weekly posts.  But time will tell.

I have a very dear friend who tries to keep both of us "on task".  She inspired me to write out some goals.  First, I wrote a few goals for the year (2020).  That short list looked something like this:

  • Revive the website(s)
  • Blog consistently
  • Increase gallery sales by 50% over 2019
  • Learn champlevé, cloisonné, and filigree
  • Get six tutorials out
  • Make 10 pieces of jewelry per week

Following that, I made "monthly goals".  There are things I want to do and it's SOOOO easy for me to put them off one day after another until before you know it I'm some massive flake who doesn't get anything done.  So I wrote out a timeline of sorts of the things I want to accomplish each month of 2020.  Maybe looking at it (constantly!) will keep me on track.  We shall see.

Then I also made a "daily planner".  For each day, I have a list of tasks I want to complete.  At the end of the day, I strikethrough what I've done (hey, I want a physical record of my accomplishments!  Anything I didn't complete, gets moved to the next day.

Here's a typical day of tasks:

  • Write up HH meeting minutes
  • Update inventory file
  • Work on custom orders
  • Take jewelry to AOTG
  • Get SMM photos from AOTG

I don't include things on the list like: clean dishes, do laundry, go grocery shopping, mow lawn, etc.  My list is supposed to be more business-oriented.  But trust me, those other things can take up huge swaths of my time.

In case it hasn't dawned on you yet, I'm a "list" person.

Anyway, I actually HAVE started to revive the website... and blogging counts as an aide to revival.  In the first week of January, I did spend an entire day photographing then listing some earrings (sold several pair right away... whoohoo!).  But the point of today's blog post has to do with that last item there... "make 10 pieces of jewelry per week".  I actually didn't THINK of that until the second week, so there exists no "week #1".

Now, a perfectly reasonable reaction is, "Hey, quality is way more important than quantity!  What's the big deal about pumping out 10 pieces of jewelry a week.  Don't you CARE about quality?"

Yes, I do care about quality, but I also know me.  And me can find other important things to do like trying to tackle the massive burn pile in the orchard or cut down all the Eucalyptus saplings on the property or go through the storage garage and purge and organize, etc.  You see, there is no shortage of things to occupy my time, but I have to make some decisions.  And if I want to keep the three galleries as well as my website stocked with jewelry, then by golly I have to spend some time MAKING jewelry.  And 10 pieces of jewelry COULD consist of one totally elaborate "art" piece and nine pair of simple hammered metal earrings.  It's all good.  Not everything I make has to be an amazing experiment.  Nor should everything I make have to be something quick merely because my gallery spot is looking empty.   

Another cool thing about "10 pieces per week" is it gives me a chance to work on things consistently, and consistent practice of techniques results in improvement.  Yay!  You can see (below) that most of this week's creations used similar techniques so I got to practice.  Flitting from one project/technique to another (which is normally my style) doesn't work as well in regards to practicing techniques.

So here are the 10 pieces I made in week #2.  And since I've completed THAT task for this week (8th - 14th), I can spend the rest of today doing something else (I choose to blog then organize my studio).

And if you'd care to leave a comment, I'd love to hear what new year's resolutions or plans YOU have for 2020.

Organizing My Books    Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Today was “sorting the books” day.  Although I did a big purge of my books a few months ago, today I decided to organize what I had decided to keep.  I have a lot.  A lot of reference books… mostly on jewelry, of course.

What’s the point of having a book collection if I don’t reference then frequently?  So I am moving almost all of them over to the studio so I can have them on-hand.  I will also take some time to start (gradually) looking through these books to see what’s in them.  I will most likely find a few more I can purge once I flip through them and determine there are some with unnecessary information or that aren’t interesting.

I’m looking at the multitude of books I own… I finger the shelves of books on tape… why do I have so many?  Why is it hard to let them go even after I’ve read them or listened to them.  I have a guess.  I’m the “Let’s Make a Deal Woman”… the one who has that one obscure thing people might ask for every once in a while.  It’s a pride thing.  An accomplishment.  A “me” moment.

“You were asking about Japanese flower arranging?  I have a book on Ikebana!” 

“You say you’re interested in learning more about philosophy?  I have Philosophy for Dummies!”

“You were telling me you have a Tiffany lamp?  Let me show you my book of Tiffany’s artwork!”

I have to let that go.  I have be okay with being the person who says “I don’t know that” or “I don’t have that” or “I can’t help you with that”.

And what if I get rid of my books on Ikebana and then someday decide I want to see images of Ikebana?  Well, then I go to the library or search the internet or something else.  But I don’t NEED to keep three books on Ikebana that are doing nothing here other than gathering dust.  I want a “use it or lose it” attitude.

So… what if I only want to keep a book because it has pretty pictures and I like leafing through it.  Well then, the book has to move to a location where I will actually DO that from time to time… not hidden away on a closet shelf or in a box.

Does this sound like I’m trying to convince myself of something?  Like I’m giving myself a pep talk before the big purge?  I guess I am. 

So I moved the bulk of my jewelry reference books to my studio.  The next big “thing” is to sell/list my horror book collection.  Kind of a pain in the butt but these are books I paid a lot of money for so I’d rather recoup SOME if I can.  I’d like to sell them in one fell swoop rather than one at a time.  We’ll see.

I pick up a laptop case.  It’s a really nice laptop case.  But I just bought a backpack for my laptop (and for other times… dual purpose, baby!), so I’m thinking I don’t need two laptop cases (quit being the master of the “back-up”, I tell myself).  I open the case and check out all the little cubbies, making sure I haven’t stashed something important.  And as I do this I say to myself, “Oooh, this is so nice.  It’s great quality and it’s really clean.  I wonder if I should try to sell it on one of those local Facebook pages rather than just give it away.”

Eek!  Seriously, I must weigh the money that I’d get ($5-$10 bucks) against the cost of my time to photograph, list, arrange the sale/pick-up, and take the item for meet-up.  100% not worth it.  To some it may seem like I’m throwing money away… a LOT of money when you start adding up $5 here and $5 there.  But even if I throw away 500 potential dollars… I must weigh that against my time and effort.  And I don’t think I come out ahead in the long run.  And in the short run, I’ve still got a house full of stuff that I don’t want.  So… for almost everything, I will merely donate.  The things I will try to sell will only be specialty items, very niche items (jewelry making tools or supplies and rare books).  [For inquiring minds, I live in an isolated rural area so having a garage sale is not feasible.]

Now, all of this is in vain if I do like 99% of dieters and lose all the weight I want to lose then put it all back on again after a plateau of success.  So, just like the dieter, I must not think of this as a purge in order to have a clean house; I must think of it as a new way of life… something I incorporate into every day living.  Eating healthy, rather than dieting.  And surrounding myself with items that bring me joy rather than items I keep in case I’ll need them someday or because they’re worth some money. 

You doing the same thing at your house?  I’d love to hear about it.  Share your story, comments, questions, or inspiration by commenting on this blog post.

Experimenting with Enamels    Monday, October 1, 2018

Getting up at 5am has its advantages.  I was finished with my enameling experiments by noon.  That's a good thing because I don't leave my kiln on without me being there (other than for a minute or two at a time).  So on days dedicated to enameling, I'm pretty much in the studio all day long.  No leisurely lunch in front of the TV, no checking out posts on Facebook, and no answering the phone because I'm using the timers on my phone.

But I really enjoy enameling days.  There's something soothing about getting into a rhythm working on multiple projects.  When one comes out of the kiln, another one has cooled and is ready for the alundum stone, from there another is ready for another coat of sifted enamels or it's time to record my steps or a piece is ready for the drying rack (the top of the kiln), and before you know it the kiln is ticking and ready for another piece.  

There are a lot of steps that go into enameling and it can take a really long time, but I love the payoff of pulling the piece out of the kiln at the last step of the process.  I'm so anxious to see what the finished product looks like, I have a chair next to my kiln so I can stand on the chair and see the piece, taken freshly out of the kiln and placed on top of the kiln for slower cooling.  Yes, that's right... I can't even wait for it to cool for a minute or two... I wanna see it NOW!

Here are some recent test pieces.

I'm often asked how I achieved a certain effect.  If you know me, you know the bottom line is that it's hours and hours of trials and tests and experimenting with different substances and variations of temperature or duration, etc.  I keep meticulous notes (when I bother) and it got me to thinking that I could put out a little recipe book of my tests.  There may be designs, colors, or patterns that I've achieved that others may want to replicate or play around with.

If you think that's something that would interest you, let me know.  Comment here and make sure you're signed up for my newsletter because that's generally where I first announce the availability of new workshops and tutorials.

Here's the link for signing up: Laura's Newsletter (which gets emailed about 6 times a year)

Figuring Out the Best Way to Organize My Schedule    Monday, May 21, 2018

Sometimes things in our lives can seem difficult and we can't get a handle on what the problem is.  Sometimes we don't even know there IS a problem... we just chalk the thing up to "something we don't like to do".

I have a couple of examples.  I used to say I didn't like talking on the phone.  It's true.  I didn't.  I would dread when the phone would ring and I'd see that it's someone I know and then I'd know that if I answered (which I generally do), I was in for a phone conversation.  But why did that bother me?  I assumed it was because I'm antisocial and just don't like talking to people and after years of saying I don't like to talk on the phone, I began to believe my internal reasoning for that.  Turns out, it had nothing to do with being anti-social.  My brain knew I didn't like talking on the phone, but since I couldn't articulate to myself WHY, I had just made up a reason. 

The real reason turns out that my hearing isn't what it used to be.  There are three sounds in the English language that I pretty much can't hear.  But most of the time when I'm talking to people I can see their mouth moving and I can usually put two and two together and figure out what they're saying by hearing the rest of the sounds in conjunction with watching the way their mouth makes the sounds.

Same thing with my fear of heights.  I used to just think I had a fear of heights.  I absolutely loathed having to get on the roof to clean the gutters or fix the swamp cooler.  I kind of felt like I was just being a big baby and I'm sure my mom thought I was just being difficult because she mentions to me constantly that she always went up on the roof.  I don't even like climbing ladders that are only 6 feet in height.  Well, it turns out I get dizzy spells in certain height situations.  It happens so rarely but is frightening enough for my subconscious to say I shouldn't be having ANYTHING to do with situations that involve heights.  

Now for the real reason I started this blog post... One of my favorite subjects... organizing!

After watching Hellen Buttigieg’s show a few times (Hellen is a personal organizer with a TV show called “Neat”), I began to understand that not everyone can organize the same way. For years I never understood how I could get these great organizing systems (filing cabinets, storage boxes, shelved closets, etc) and still end up with piles and heaps of things everywhere. Then one day Hellen was analyzing one of her customers and assessed her as a “piler”. One who needs everything in plain site and within easy reach… and the normal way that comes in to being is by making piles. Piles of papers to be filed, to be sorted, to be dealt with. Piles of books to read, piles of supplies to put away, piles of pieces to be polished, etc. 

Hellen's solution for "pilers"?  Keep everything organized but keep it out in the open and within easy reach.  This could also explain why I prefer open-concept living over compartmentalized anything. I want everything around me, visible and available. 

I will show you a blog post later on with some of the solutions I've come up with.  I only mentioned the above story to again illustrate that sometimes we do unproductive things (like being disorganized or having clutter) without wanting to but without understanding why.  And without knowing why, it's hard to find a system that works.

So here is my final example because it's what I'm working on today.

I love lists.  They keep my brain organized AND you get to cross things off when you accomplish them giving you a sense that you're making progress.  So I used to make lists of things I had to do in a week because I felt like my energies were scattered and I was absolutely not getting the important stuff done OR getting enough done.  So I've have my little calendar list (which greatly appealed to my OCD tendencies) but stuff would interrupt my life and the whole list would be thrown out of whack.

The other day I realized that what I need is a mutable system.  So I took my large white board and drew a generic weekly calendar on it.

Then I got these magnetic white board labels and wrote down all the things I felt were important for me to do in a week (some with times attached... like "studio 4 hrs").

This way, if I get interrupted (taking Mom out shopping, friend drops by, etc) I can take the magnet/task that I was unable to accomplish and move it into another spot in the week.  Previously if something got interrupted it was just forsaken, but now I can think of my time as one week at a time in which x-number of tasks need to get done but if they end up moving around a bit it's okay.

BTW, there are lots of little things on here that you can't see.  Just as I have an "afternoon routine" showing here, I have a "morning routine" and an "evening routine".  I didn't put them on because they happen before 6am and after 6pm (the parameters of this board I made).

Some examples of things that take place in my "routine" slots include deleting photos from my phone daily, reading/responding to/and deleting emails daily, meditate, etc.

Do you have a similar system?  Have any tips for staying organized?  I'd love to hear in the comment section.

 

Colored Pencil on Metal Workshop    Monday, March 26, 2018

My first online workshop for 2018 is coming to a close and it was fantastic.  The students were awesome and creative and super learners!

That class was Jewelry Photography and I intend to continue to befriend and support however I can the people I met through this experience.  We will continue to discuss and share in the private Facebook group I created for the workshop.

If jewelry photography interests you, I am planning to repeat the workshop in the late fall.

My next online workshop is nearly sold out (I think there are 2 or 3 spots left).  It's learning the technique of Colored Pencil on Metal and how to incorporate that into the world of jewelry making.

Here are some of the pieces I made using rivet as a cold connection (the workshop includes learning the technique of making your own rivets).

I will show other techniques such as this...

Although most of my colored pencil on metal pieces are earrings, we will be working on some pendants too.  In this diorama piece, I used colored pencil on metal as my background plate.

After the workshop is over, I will have a new collection of pieces that will either be heading to the gallery or will be listed here online.

Thanks for reading my blog!  

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