Sunday, December 26, 2010

Treasury Time

Etsy's new Treasury feature is so easy to use that there are literally thousands of treasury lists made by Etsy sellers and buyers every day.  I can't think of a better way to feature the enormous variety of handmade and vintage items found on Etsy - the talent out there is impressive!  So much so, that Etsy features a different Treasury every hour on its home page!  I'm fortunate to be included in Treasuries on a regular basis and will pick one to feature every week or so.In this Treasury, I'm particularly taken by Evgene's  nuno felted scarf!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Another show season over!  But don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore doing shows and, after I catch my breath, will miss them terribly until my regular show season starts up again in May of next year.

To deal with show withdrawal, I plan to keep busy organizing and painting the studio, coming up with new designs and getting ready for CraftBoston in March (my first high end show!)

In the meantime, take advantage of my Etsy Holiday Sale.  Just use coupon code  holiday10  at check-out to receive a 15% discount on your entire order.  Sale ends December 31, 2010.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday Worktable

Friday has always been my favorite day of the week.  When I was working in the corporate world, I liked Friday because it meant the weekend was just about here.  Now that I work in my home studio, every day is a weekend, but I still like Friday because it's my jewelry assembly day. It's very satisfying to see an entire week of production sitting on my table waiting to become finished jewelry.

When I designed my studio, I created separate workstations for polymer work, metal work, assembly and office work.  Here is a picture of my Friday polymer table.  I've just finished the last pieces of the week that are now on their way to the oven.   

After cleaning up my polymer table, I head across the room to my assembly table.   It's a bit of a mess, but I'll organize it into piles before I start.  I'll need to make earwires for all the earrings, make neckwires and assemble chains, drill holes in the window pendants and package everything up in time for my weekend shows!

On Saturday, if I don't have a show,  I'll take pictures, then edit and resize so that they are ready to list in my Etsy shop the following week.  I have a photo studio (I use that term generously) permanently set up in my basement - more on that in my next post.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Yucatan Inspiration

Mexico always inspires me.  Last year, I created my Maya series based on the vibrant colors of the Yucatan.  But there are more subtle colors there as well - in the deep cenotes and caves that are all over the area.  The Yucatan sits on a bed of limestone that is riddled with underground rivers and caverns.  When shafts of sunlight hit the deep sinkholes (cenotes), you get an eerie combination of light and shadow, liquid aqua blues and muted browns. This fabulous photo of the Cuzamá cenote from We Visit Mexico on Facebook inspired a new piece.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The feared "Booth Shot"

I cringe whenever a show application requires a booth shot.  No matter how awesome your booth looks in real life, when you take a picture you always manage to include your neighbor's boxes and junk, parked cars, weird people walking by and all sorts of stuff one doesn't notice on market day.  Case in point is a picture of my booth at the SoWa Open Market a couple of years back.

Last Sunday I was finally able to get a clean shot at the JP Open Studios.  My friend and photographer extraordinare, Lucie Wicker, was showing right across the street and she kindly took some awesome booth shots for me. 

I've streamlined my set-up quite a bit in the last couple of years.  My hanging boards now have removable canvas covers that match my table coverings and I've added some awesomely organic twine necklace busts.  I still go vertical as much as possible - I find it's the best way to showcase my work.  And what are those crazy blue bags on each tent leg?  Well, they are my very creative weights made out of re-usable plastic shopping bags filled with plastic bags full of pea gravel.  Easy to carry and waterproof .  And also pee-proof  - a must at all my windy, doggie friendly shows (that's Plato eyeing my weights in the top left picture).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Metal Inspiration

At a show last winter I set up next to Fran Kronstadt who makes the most wonderful belts. Her contemporary cast bronze buckles are a masterful balance of form, texture and detail. I was instantly smitten.

I ran into Fran again at a couple of shows this summer while I was mulling designs for my fall line of window pendants. The muted tones and warmth of oxidized metals has always intrigued me, so I took my cue from Fran's belt buckles and got to work combining polymer with a faux metal finish with real copper, brass and silver accents.

And, yes, I am a proud owner of a Fran Kronstadt belt!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jury Duties

Juried shows have been on my mind lately. First of all, because I've been busy filling out show applications right and left. And, secondly, to my great surprise, I've been asked to be an Invited Artist to the 2011 CraftBoston shows. My first reaction to the email was that they sent it to the wrong person. My second was doing a really happy dance and my third was relief that I wouldn't have to finish my CraftBoston JAS application!

Which brings me back to the topic of applying to a juried show. Having done a few in my time and having been a juror for several local art and craft shows and organizations, I can't emphasize enough the importance of good photos. If you can afford it, have some professionally done. But you can also take really good photos on your own. Take some time to read your camera manual. Research on the web - there some really good tips at If nothing else, at least:

- use the Manual setting on your camera
- turn off the flash
- turn on the Macro (for sharp close-ups)
- up the white balance so your pictures are slightly overexposed
- use 'center weighted metering' so you can choose where to focus
- set your camera to the biggest pixel size and the finest resolution
- invest in high quality daylight bulbs of at least 2100 lumens.
- Use a lightbox

If you use the correct settings and have good lighting, you shouldn't have to correct your pictures too much. You don't need invest in Photoshop - I use Picasa (free) to edit and organize all my photos.  Pixel size and resolution is important.  You want a nice big picture with good resolution, but you don't necesarily want to email or attach such a big file to an application.  Resize to around 1000 pixels and 300 DPI.  I use a neat freeware tool,,  to adjust size and resolution.

Once you have the pictures set, take some time to really think about your product descriptions and artist statement. Write several versions - what you send to CraftBoston will be very different than what you submit to Bazaar Bizarre!

Selecting the photos you submit to a jury is also tough. Some people think that you should submit a variety of items to show your artistic range. Personally, I think jurors prefer to see consistency in the work and a definitive voice.

Applying to shows has a learning curve.  A good exercise is to register on JAS and Zapp. Load up some pictures, write some descriptions and get your portfolio started. You may never apply to the higher end shows that use these services, but the experience will sure help when filling out the application for your local juried art festival!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

It's hot out there!

We've been having a bit of a heat wave in New England lately. Even though I grew up in the tropics, I really don't like the heat. I don't know if you can call hot, muggy weather inspiring, but it has prompted me to revisit my "Maya" work.

This piece is called "Cenote", named for the deep sinkholes with deep, icy clear water that you find all over the Yucatan. It is ink washed polymer with layers of analogous colors in greens and blues, finished with a reticulated silver accent.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A look at my work table

A peek into my studio this week shows my work in progress. On this particular day I was quite productive - making mostly window pendants and a few pairs of earrings. I find it more efficient to work in batches, so I'll make the fronts one day, sand them and then spend the next day building the pieces.

In the first picture you can see some of my commonly used tools and custom mixed polymer colors. Polymer is mixed and conditioned using a pasta machine, which gives me nice even sheets to work with. And, yes, it is a very neat and tidy scene. I work best in an organized environment. Plus it's really easy to color contaminate polymer, so you've got to keep things clean!

Monday, March 29, 2010

One thing leads to another...

I've been on a creative tear lately. Probably because at this time of year I have the luxury of time. During show season I'm in full production mode and really can't take the time to experiment. The winter months, though, are my play time in the studio.

I started experimenting with brooches, using a few more layers and textures than I normally do. That segued into a pendant design, since pendants seem to be my best sellers. Yes, there is that commercialism peeping through again. Art pieces are important, even essential, for creative fulfillment. But they don't pay the mortgage. I'm always looking for that balance between creativity and marketability.

My next step is to streamline the process without sacrificing craftsmanship. One of my strengths as a jewelry artist is that I'm good at engineering and problem solving. It takes persistence and logic and lots of prototypes. Plus a constant conversation between the left and right sides of my brain!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Synergy2 and my comfort zone

Last week I was at Synergy2, a polymer conference held every two years in Baltimore. I must admit I got more out of it this time than two years ago, simply because I am more comfortable in my work and feel that I am in control of the material, instead of the other way around.

I always like the panel discussions best - and the challenge these wonderful artists throw out to us. Susan Lomuto of DailyArtMuse says it much better that I can - be sure to read her essay on polymer and its evolution as a medium.

My head is still spinning, but I've decided to spend more time working outside my comfort zone. That's hard to do because I make a living at this and it's so easy to fall into a rut - the 'as long as the work sells, keep making it' syndrome. But here goes...

Brooches are new for me and I know they don't sell well at my shows, but what the heck. I now understand why so many art jewelers make them - they're an awesome canvas!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Skinner Blend House

When I saw this photo on Chromalab's blog, I just had to chuckle! Polymeristas everywhere will instantly recognize the Skinner Blend, a basic polymer clay technique that creates graduating blends on a pasta machine by combining two or more colors:

(house photo from ReadyMade magazine)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Mexico Inspiration

When traveling back from my yearly Yucatan trip to Hacienda Xcanatun in Merida, I had a couple of hours to kill in that bastion of blatant commercialism that is the Cancun airport. I sought refuge in the one oasis of good taste and awesome style - the Pineda Covalin store. These two designers are inspired by their rich cultural heritage, drawing on the many textile and artistic traditions of their native Mexico. The photos below are modern takes on traditional indigenous designs of the Tehuana, Maya and Huichol people.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Looking back at 2009

January is a time for reflection, so I thought I'd take a look back at what I accomplished work-wise during 2009. I keep an inventory for bookkeeping purposes, so it's pretty easy to tally my production. It's amazing what 6 to 8 hours a day in the studio four or five days a week can produce! And for every five pieces that make the grade, one goes into the reject jar....

Earrings: Almost 1,000 pairs. And since I make my own earwires, I used over 350 feet of silver wire!

Pendants on chain: 268

Neckwires and necklaces: 126

Yikes, I'd better get crackin' on making stuff for 2010! Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

What I gave myself for Xmas

It's really hard doing over 70 shows a year. Not because it's a heck of a lot of work making stuff, then schlepping stuff, then setting up and breaking down stuff. Not to mention dealing with the elements. It's hard because it is so difficult to restrain from buying half of what I see. At these shows I'm surrounded by truly awesome handmade goods made by wonderful, talented and sharing people (well, 99% of them are wonderful and/or talented). To that end, I kept telling myself all season that if I had a good year, I'd treat myself to a couple of my faves. I did have a good year and I did treat myself!

I've been coveting a SayaStudio bag for a long time. I just adore my beautiful (and practical) new bag in orange, blue and red leather and fabric. I'll take a photo sometime, but here's another one of Saya's bags to get your mouth watering.
The second present to myself is one of Chromalab's signature wall clocks. Can you tell I love orange? Tony and Alicia have the gift of color - their re-purposed furniture and accessories are all light and sunshine. My new clock is now up on my studio wall - time checks have never been so much fun!