Sunday, December 20, 2009

Featured in Art Jewelry magazine!

About 2 years ago I submitted a piece to the Gallery section of Art Jewelry magazine. It took a while, but here it is in the January '10 issue! And a nice big picture, too. My work has changed a bit since I submitted the photo, but it's still one of my favorite pieces.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Avoid the malls and shop handmade!

Now in it's 6th season, this year's SoWa Holiday Market will feature 80 artists and designers from around New England. From the fashionably chic to the hip and cutting edge, shoppers are sure to find an original gift for everyone on their list. Expect to find an exceptional array of indie goods, including: handbags, jewelry, pottery, letterpress stationery, silk-screened t-shirts, baby clothes, re-purposed wool accessories and more! This handmade holiday spectacular will take place in SoWa's Cathedral High School Gym, located in Boston's trendy SoWa arts and media district. Within walking distance to Boston's best galleries, boutiques and international cuisine, the SoWa Holiday Market is at the center of one of Boston's most diverse and exciting neighborhoods!

Event information
When: Saturday & Sunday, December 12th & 13th / 10am - 6pm
Where: Cathedral HS Gymnasium, 74 Union Park Street, Boston MA 02118
Admission: $5.00 for adults, Children under 12 free

Phone: (800) 403-8305

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Boston Handmade returns to Downtown Crossing!

Now in its 2nd season, the Boston Handmade holiday store returns to Boston's Downtown Crossing. Located on Wshington Street, right across from Macy's, it is chock full of fabulous and unique handmade gifts. Be sure to stop by - we open at 11am on November 27! And meet our artists and artisans at the opening reception on Saturday, November 28 from 5pm-8pm.

Boston Handmade at Downtown Crossing is located at 505 Washington St. and will be open Wed-Sun from 11am-7pm from November 27 until December 24.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Don’t miss the 2nd annual Design Salon Holiday Sale, taking place at the Kingsley Montessori School in Boston’s Back Bay on November 21st from 10am until 5pm. The 19 exhibitors were cherry picked by “The Salon” jury from about 50 local salon members. “The Design Salon Holiday Sale is the best kept secret for holiday shoppers seeking unique and chic”, says design connoisseur Jill Shah of the South End. “It is an opportunity for Bostonians to rub elbows with the designers of crème de la crème.”

The Boston Design Salon was founded in 2007 by a small group of local female design professionals. At the first Salon gathering, there were about six women sharing a bottle of wine and their realization that there really could be a design community in Boston. “I just wanted to get to know more designers in my community. All types of designers: graphics, fashion, architecture, web. Knowing each other helps us to help ourselves,” says founder and ceramist Jill Rosenwald. Within a relatively short amount of time, membership has grown to over 200 women. Design Salon gatherings have become a cozy sharing of ideas, opinions and business discussions. Female industry experts, such as Boston Home Magazine Editor Rachel Levitt, Mariposa’s founder Livia Cowan, and Design*Sponge
founder Grace Bonney have been invited to speak to the group. “We have been able to grow our network while keeping an underground, hip edge to The Design Salon” says Jill Palese, fashion designer. “There are no dues involved,just talent and the desire to inspire and to become inspired.” The Salon Sale is open to the general public and 20% of all the proceeds will be donated to Kingsley Montessori School.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Winter Whites and Neutrals

Now that my outdoor show schedule is over for the year, I've got to get going on listing new work in my online shops. I'll get these studies in neutrals up this week ...maybe.

Techniques include image transfers, mica shift and silkscreening combined with either satin finished or hammered/oxidized silver.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tree ornaments with a twist

We've always had a Xmas tradition in our family - only unusual ornaments are allowed on the tree! No Santas, Rudolphs, Frosty the Snowman or glittery snow scenes allowed. I guess this all started when we were kids in Mexico. I remember those early trees with with colorful straw garlands and repousee tin ornaments in bright colors and all sorts of shapes - roosters, tucans, parrots and even pigs. The ornament collection grew as we moved on to Panama, the Phillipines and Brazil. The Phillipine tree was the most unusual. Firs and pines were not imported, so our tree consisted of a bare tree branch painted white. Perhaps considered chic today, but weird when you're a ten year old kid.

So, when I decided to make a line of tree ornaments, I naturally looked to the non-traditional. My work this year has been heavily influenced by traditional Asian design elements, so what better subject than geishas and Chinese landscape scenes? I'll soon have a whole series of polymer clay ornaments with image transfers of bijinga (beautiful women) from ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) by printmaker and painter Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806). Stay tuned - they'll be listed in my 1000Markets shop soon!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New for Fall

Not only do I have a bunch of new work for the fall and winter seasons, but I now have an absolutely incredible online shop in which to put it! 1000Markets recently revamped their site to make it even more beautiful and buyer friendly. They've done a fabulous job! Click on the picture to take a look at my shop and then go on to browse the rest of 1000Markets - I know you'll be impressed!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Handmade Life

Fellow Boston Handmade'r, Mimi Kirchner, has been featured on Etsy's Handmade Life! I absolutely adore Mimi's dolls and really enjoyed a peek into her process and inspiration! You can see more of her dolls in her Etsy shop. And be sure to follow her fantastic blog!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Outside the Box

I'm artistically curious. I love to get a glimpse of the process behind the finished product, and one of the best ways to do that is to take a workshop. One of the first things I did when I left my corporate job a few years ago was to take a mixed media class at the Museum of Fine Arts here in Boston. I had already discovered polymer at that point and had no intention of pursuing wood block printing, pen and ink drawing or mono printing, but I wanted to get my head around how it was done. Workshops also give me a healthy respect for fellow artists and crafstpeople - only when you try your own hand at something do you realize just how much talent, practice and vision is involved in the creative process.

I also take workshops in my medium of choice - polymer clay. I love watching the masters at work and I get something out of each and every class I take. Sometimes the class is an epiphany - Maggie Maggio's color class completely changed the way I approach my work. Usually, though, it's not so much the technique, but one or two details that influence and inspire me. From Kathleen Dustin I learned that there is rarely a mistake that can't be fixed. Louise Fischer Cozzi taught me to just relax and be joyful in my work, and Seth Savarick taught me the importance of flawless craftsmanship. I also love meeting fellow polymer aficionados at these classes. I met Melanie West at my first workshop and we have gone on to take several workshops together - she has helped me enormously in making the transition from hobbyist to artist.

The picture is of a Japanese style inro box that I learned how to make in Seth Savarick's class. Vessels are lots of fun and a pleasant break from jewelry. So think outside the box and have fun - take a class!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I was browsing the Etsy forums the other day and came upon a thread about how someone decided to try polymer clay, because, and I quote: "I thought, how hard could it be to roll out a couple of flat globs and cookie cutter out some circles and rubber stamp em and bake em, right? HOW HARD could that be?? Well, if someone can tell me how to get the polymer clay boogers off of my little plastic rolling pin and work surface and rubber stamp, I *might* be able to clean up and throw the stuff away! urg!!". It never fails to amaze me how some people think they can try something for the first time and be perfect at it. And, incredibly, how they think it's the medium's fault when it doesn't come out right!

All of which made me think about a trait that most dedicated artists and craftspeople have in common, and that is persistence. You hear about passion and creativity and vision, but it's the dedication to keep working at something until you get it right that sets them apart. Or conversely, being comfortable in going in another direction if that's where it takes you.

I'm sure glad I didn't "throw the stuff away!" after my first try! Here is a photo of some of my early, and very amateurish, attempts at polymer. And another of my humongous reject jar (it is 24 inches tall and it's almost full):

Because I'm a persistent person and dedicated to good craftsmanship, my work has progressed to where I feel I'm in control of the medium, instead of the other way around. But I still contribute regularly to that big reject jar in the corner of my studio!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Work

I've been having a busy summer! I have a hectic show schedule and during the week I try to keep up in the studio replacing inventory. I always set aside a few hours a week, though, to just play and experiment with new techniques and designs.

When I saw the fabulous jewel colors of Byzantia textile paints by Stewart Gill, I just had to have some! I'm just starting to play around with them, but so far so good. I see an elegant series of pieces in the works!

I made these pieces last week, took them to a couple of shows over the weekend and already sold three necklaces and some earrings! It's nice to get something right immediately - usually it's weeks of trial and error!

Monday, June 29, 2009

2nd Annual Boston Handmade Marketplace at Union Square in Somerville

The Somerville Arts Council and Boston Handmade present an ArtsUnion Event: The Boston Handmade Marketplace. More than 25 artists, artisans, and craftspeople will be showing and selling handmade jewelry, clothing, accessories, housewares, art, photography, toys, and sculpture in Union Square at the intersection of Washington, Prospect & Somerville Ave.) on July 11, 2009, 3-7pm, as part of the Somerville Arts Council ArtsUnion series.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Boston Handmade at the SoWa Open Market on June 14!

The fabulous artists and artisans of Boston Handmade will be joining the other fabulous artists and artists at the SoWa Open Market on June 14. The Market has been awesome this year, don't miss it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Coolidge Corner Arts Festival this Saturday!

I'll be doing the Coolidge Corner Arts Festival this Saturday, June 6 from 10am-6pm. I'm really looking forward to it - it's a well known and tightly juried show with some of the best artists and artisans of the area.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Branding and Marketing

I posted this a couple of months ago as part of a series of marketing articles for 1000Markets. With show season upon us, I thought it timely to review some of the basics of branding and marketing.

Before you jump into that complex maze we call 'marketing', take a step back and systematically look at your product and goals. All the marketing in the world won’t help if you have a product that lacks focus, quality and branding. This applies whether you are selling cars, corn flakes or art.

I worked at an ad agency for almost 20 years before becoming a full-time artist. Even though I ran an administrative department, I absorbed the basics by osmosis. After all, most ad people will tell you marketing is mostly common sense. Here are a few things to think about before you start actively marketing your product.

Product: Take a long hard look at your work. Is it ready to be sold, or still in the prototype stage? Have you achieved a high level of craftsmanship? Do you have focus? Or are you still finding your voice? Are you able to balance production work with creative work? If you dislike making something, but make it anyway because it sells, will you still want to be at it two years from now? Be comfortable with your product, but don’t get so comfortable that you lose your artistic vision. If you’re passionate about a style or technique that is not commercially viable, set aside time to work on it anyway. This will keep you fresh and challenged.

Niche and Demographic: In order to be successful, you need to know who buys your product. Sometimes it’s not the folks you thought you were targeting. I started out thinking I would sell to a young, hip crowd, but it turns out my demographic is the 30 plus stylish, professional woman. But I also have several styles that have universal appeal, which balances my collection nicely. Which brings up niche marketing. You need to decide whether you want to cater to a target audience or have a broader appeal. This is where a little market research comes in. Local shows are probably the best way to gauge customer reaction to your work. Ask for opinions. Talk to gallery and shop owners, an invaluable resource for understanding consumer mindsets and trends. Above all, keep an open mind and be objective. Easier said than done when it comes to our art, but necessary!

Branding: Okay, so you now have a viable product and know who you want to sell it to. The next step is branding yourself and your work. Branding is more than a logo and a color scheme. It defines how the public perceives your work. First impressions are usually lasting impressions, so it’s important to get this step right. If you have found your voice as an artist, you will have a recognizable aesthetic in your work and branding should be easy. If you flip flop from style to style, medium to medium, with no consistency, branding will be difficult. This is not to say you can’t have different mediums under one brand. You can if there is something that ties them together. For example, your work is organic and inspired by nature. Your jewelry, handbags and illustrations all have a common denominator and chances are, work well together. On the other hand, if you make opulent, jewel encrusted necklaces and toys for children, you’ll probably need to separate your brands.

Building your brand: Make sure your business name is universal enough to absorb future changes. For example, you are a photographer and call your shop XYZ Photography. Your photography leads you to experiment with digital collage, or you decide to sell your illustrations. Suddenly, your shop name is no longer indicative of your entire body of work. XYZ Designs would have been a better choice. Make sure your business name gives you future flexibility.

Decide on a consistent theme, color scheme and style for you logo, packaging, show displays and collateral (postcards, business cards, brochures, newsletters, etc). It has to fit with your work. I have a friend who makes wonderfully quirky jewelry out of vintage components. Her sales skyrocketed when she switched from solid color earring cards to ones made out of postcards of WWII pin-up girls. Extend your artistic vision to your packaging, displays and shop visuals. Again, if you have a recognizable voice, you will instinctively know what will work. Keep it simple and cost effective. Never allow packaging and displays to take the focus away from your work. I see this all the time in shop banners. If you have a knock ‘em dead banner, make sure your product photography is equally good!

Establishing a sound foundation will make marketing much easier. You are now ready to tackle the myriad of marketing opportunities available to artists today!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tutorial Time

I'm often asked if I teach classes on polymer clay. Teaching isn't really my thing, but I do think it's important to share information about my craft. Particularly in a relatively new medium like polymer clay. I own just about every book published about polymer and have taken workshops from polymer masters like Kathleen Dustin, SL Savarick, Louise Fisher Cozzi, Maggie Maggio, Dan Cormier and Judy Kuskin. Each class I take gives me a greater insight into the wonders of polymer and opens the way to further experimentation and inspiration.

Fortunately, the DIY revolution has given us an audience eager to try new crafts. PDF tutorials on just about every conceivable subject are available on Etsy, so I thought I'd publish one on how to make a polymer clay focal bead and pendant.

It took about 15 hours to set up, photograph and write. Each step was photographed numerous times, usually one handed or with a precariously balanced camera on a timer. Then came all the tweaking and re-writing. It seems that it was well worth the effort, though. It's selling very well on Etsy and several of my buyers already have work for sale using the technique!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mother's Day at 1KM

How cool is this????? I'm so honored to be featured - there are so many talented artisans and artists at 1000Markets!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Market Day

New markets are popping up right and left over at 1KM these days! It's a really exciting time there with the official launch going on. The targeted co-op mailings with Amazon are bound to bring in many new customers!

I was recently invited to join the Passport market - my Maya Collection fits right in! Shopping by market is such a time saver. No more wading through thousands of disparate items. Plus it's really fun to browse through the more unusual ones, like the Day of the Dead market, the Steampunk market and the Just Hats market!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Don't look now, but the 80's are back....

This past week I finally got around to reading my growing pile of fashion magazines and checking the web for current fashion trends. I used to love lolling about reading Vogue, but now it's like reading a trade journal. I do it at my desk, I take notes and I think about how my jewelry aesthetic will fit with current styles without compromising my creativity and voice. Sometimes it's easy - the bright colors popular this spring work beautifully with my new Maya Collection that incororates a technique I've been perfecting over the past year. But other trends, like voluminous harem pants, are ridiculous, so I'll just ignore them.

All of us in the artisan community should take high fashion with a grain of salt, though. Pay some attention to it, particularly if you make a living selling your work. But remember that our niche demographic is not a slave to fashion. These ladies appreciate innovative design and craftsmanship. They understand the significance of buying local, thinking green and buying quality as opposed to quantity. And they certainly don't want to wear the same thing as a million other women.

Even though I keep an eye on fashion, my real gauge for current trends is what I see at high end shows like CraftBoston. I'm glad to report that the overriding feel to the show this year was flowing, organic and highly tactile, as seen in the photo above. My jewelry would look fabulous with any of these gorgeous items! That tells me I'm doing something right.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Art Next Door

My neighbor, Sophie Lowery, has some fabulous new work. I've watched her work evolve over the last couple of years and she's so found her voice. The landscapes of her native France capture the colors and clarity of light so typical of the area. She's also captured the essence of her adopted Charlestown - her paintings and cards of the Bunker Hill Monument are a huge local hit!

Her work is available on her website, her 1000Markets and Etsy shops and locally at the Joy of Old in Charlestown.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Market Day

With the upcoming official launch of 1000Markets, I thought it might be nice to feature a market every week or so. For those of you unfamiliar with 1000Markets, it's a new shopping and community site for quality handcrafted items. What sets 1000Markets apart is the philosophy of the market. As CEO Matt Triffiro puts it: " I have always been fascinated by marketplaces – the real, human-scale marketplaces like the farmers’ markets you find across the U.S. or the street vendors in Marrakech – These markets are populated by people, not just "things." They are a kaleidoscope of human activity: entertainment, history, art, community, and, of course, commerce. These are profound and vibrant human institutions."

Today I explored "Come to Asheville". It's a group of immensely talented artists residing in Asheville, NC. After seeing the work, I have to put Asheville on my list of places to visit. What an artistic mecca!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sunny and warm.....wait a minute, cold and snowy!

Well, it is New England and, as they say, if you don't like the weather, wait a minute. The weekend was balmy and sunny, with temperatures in the low 60's. Today it was 32 and snowed all day. At the risk of overdoing the adages, will March be in like a lion, out like a lamb? I sure hope so.

To celebrate the craziness of March, here's a sunny new piece

and one that is all bare branches and snow and wintry.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Maya Collection

I've been working on a new line lately, inspired by the vivid colors of the Yucatan. The azure blues of the ocean, the yellow/greens of the lush vegetation, the desaturated reds and oranges of old hacienda walls and the texture of Mayan artifacts all combine for a vibrant new collection.

My connection to Mexico is strong. I was born there, and my sister and brother-in-law own a historic hacienda hotel in Merida, Hacienda Xcanatun. I love ambling around the lush gardens soaking it all in. So very different from the cool light and softer hues of New England! I also use photos I take in Mexico as image transfers on polymer - the blue plumbago picture is one of my favorites!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chica and Meche

I recently contributed to a Boston Handmade post about pets hanging out in our studios. While looking for a photo, I came across early pictures of my kitties. They were so darned cute! They still are, but are now mature, stately 7 year olds. The mosaic shows them at 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 13 weeks and 1 year. They're even bigger now, as you can see in the photo below. Maine Coons are a large breed and don't achieve their full growth until they're about five years old. Chica weighs in at close to 20lbs and my little one, Meche, at about 13lbs.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Studio Re-Do

When I left my corporate job to be a studio artist a couple of years ago, I just threw a studio together. It was functional, but pretty ugly. And just kept getting uglier and uglier as I added plastic drawer things, boxes and general junk.

My Xmas present to myself was new studio furniture. Between Ikea and a propitious trash find, I now have exactly what I need for an awesome studio. It took me a couple of days to put it together (it takes a while to translate those Swedish pictures), but the effort was well worth it!

I left my studio layout the same, because it works well for me. I have four stations: a polymer worktable, a metalwork area, a jewelry assembly and finish area and an office workspace. Oh, the joy of not having to clear my polymer table to set up my metal stuff!

What about that lucky trash find? Well, it's my new metalsmithing table. I found it not more than 20 feet from my front door - it's a wood kitchen island that a neighbor left out with the trash. The funny thing is that I found it the day after I finished setting up my studio. Furniture karma...

I took some close-ups, too - of my polymer tools, color chart and color scales, my comfy chair(a must in every studio!) and a bunch of my new Maya collection earrings ready to be packaged.

Why am I making such a production about an attractive studio? First, because a nice environment makes my work better. And second, because my studio is in plain sight of my living room!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Just another reason why I'm loving 1000Markets!

Matt, the guy behind posted the most wonderful photo of potter Rob Drexel and his baby on the site's Community page this week. Not only is Rob's work fabulous, but his shop is a delight. Kudos to 1000Markets for giving artists like Rob a place to showcase their work, life and inspiration in such a heartwarming way!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Goings on at Boston's MFA

One of the joys of not doing weekly shows during my 'off season' are regular visits to the MFA. Every year I purchase a $75 membership that allows me unlimited visits, a couple of tickets to their special exhibits and a 10% discount in the museum shop. They also have a great film series, lectures, art classes and even events for artsy singles. Strapped for cash? No worries, admission to the MFA is free on Wednesdays from 4pm-9:45pm!

The MFA is known worldwide for its fabulous collection of Asian art. Right now they have a couple of exhibits featuring Kyoto, Boston's sister city: Visions of Kyoto and Celebrating Kyoto. And I'm really looking forward to the upcoming Shōwa exhibit, newly acquired artworks depicting the art deco period of 1930's, a time of sweeping modernization and westernization in Japan.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

From Nudibranchs to BioBangles

My good friend and polymer mentor, Melanie West, came down from Maine this week on her way to a polymer retreat in Jersey. She brought along her latest BioBangles - what a trip! These bold pieces are absolutely stunning. No wonder she was instantly accepted to the prestigious Philadelphia Museum of Art show on her first try! Melanie's blog is a great read as well, covering every conceivable topic from science to jaw dropping art.