Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Made in America

For those of you interested in making purchases of 'Made in America' products, there are some wonderful venues in the Philadelphia area that might be of interest.
I am shamelessly promoting the following selection because, along with a collection of other artists and craftspeople, these shops and shows feature my jewelry.

Woodmere Art Museum Gift Gallery
Located in Chestnut Hill, the wonderful Woodmere Gift Shop expands into one of the galleries to display a wide variety of unique, handcrafted gifts, featuring local talent. The gift gallery is open through the end of the year.

Sweet Mabel is located in Narberth, PA.
This small shop is a treasure trove of delightfully quirky one-of-a-kind items with a focus on American folk art. Tracy, the always smiling owner, works hard to find new artists which keeps the displays fresh and captivating.

The juried Holiday Sale at The Community Arts Center in Wallingford, PA really is one of the best ever!
Artists from eastern Pennsylvania and selected surrounding states will be selling their original creations in the beautiful Duke Gallery.
Yes, that's my bracelet in the top right corner of the promo image.

The Main Line Art Center in Haverford, PA begins this Friday and continues through December 11.
This juried show also features artists and craftspeople form the Philadelphia/east Pennsylvania region. I set my display up today and was wide eyed as I looked at the fabulous displays that were already in place.

Buying products at any of these shops/sales will satisfy any 'Made in America' urge that you might have.
It will also satisfy that 'Support those Starving Artists' urge.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Thanksgiving Tale

Years ago, as I prepared to graduate from Cook College of Rutgers University with a degree in Landscape Architecture, I was trying to figure out where I was going and what I would be doing. I had several job offers that were being considered, but none of them were leaping out as the obvious and exciting path that I absolutely had to explore. The exciting opportunity came when the head of our department asked me, along with Ed (another graduating senior), to meet in his office.
The Chair of the Landscape Architecture Department at the University of Illinois had called, asking if there might possibly be two students who would consider entering their graduate program. The list of incoming graduate students did not have the right candidates to fill 2 teaching assistant positions, and they did have a special fondness for Rutgers graduates. Our Chair said, "I think I have 2 perfect seniors for you." And that's how both Ed and I ended up at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. I was the Teaching Assistant for the Site Technology classes and Ed was assigned to one of the Introductory Design classes. Full tuition and a salary made this decision easy to make.

During our undergraduate years, Ed and I were always friendly but were not really friends. Ed was way more cool than me- not a hard thing to accomplish since I would not even register on the 'Scale of Coolness'. He had his circle of friends and I had mine and we comfortably coexisted in the same program. When we both moved out to Urbana-Champaign, our amiable friendliness continued as we again found friends in different circles. We would often be at the same event or party, but we did not have the kind of friendship that included calling each other to chat or to make social plans.
That is one of the reasons I was surprised when my phone rang early on Thanksgiving morning of our first year in graduate school, and it was Ed. Being a desperately poor graduate student, I was in town since I couldn't afford to go back to New Jersey for the holiday weekend. I don't recall if I had any plans for the day, but I do know that I would not have planned on calling Ed to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving, nor was I expecting that he would call me. But there I was, wakened on Thanksgiving morning by a phone call from Ed thinking, "This is weird."
Ed needed a favor. He was going back to New Jersey for the holiday and needed help getting to the airport. Ed owned a car and I didn' exactly could I be of help? He explained that he couldn't afford to leave his car parked at the airport and wanted to know if I could drive him to the airport and then drive his car back to the campus area. The Willard Airport that serves the University of Illinois is just south of campus; why not take the shuttle bus? Ed was not flying out of Willard, right down the road. Oh no....he was scheduled to fly out of Indianapolis International Airport, as in Indiana, where he had found a ticket price that he could afford.
Ed had had a brilliant plan. He woke up early and carried his travel bag along with his "INDIANAPOLIS AIRPORT" handmade sign to interstate 74. He figured he would have no trouble hitchhiking to the airport and be there in time for his flight. He clearly figured wrong. He stood along the highway long enough to realize that if he didn't enact Plan B, he would probably miss his flight. 
I was Plan B. 
I told Ed there were some problems with this plan including the fact that I didn't know I was Plan B and that if I dropped him off at the airport, that meant I was in Indiana. He said there was a bonus for me....the use of his car while he was away. Not quite a bonus. Ed had an old Ford Capri, and...sorry Ed, but those of us who knew the car referred to it as The Crappy. In addition, although I was in grad school, I had hardly ever driven. At that point in my life, I had never owned a car. My mode of transportation was either foot or bike. I wasn't too excited about the idea of driving The Crappy anywhere. But I was even less excited about saying no to Ed who desperately wanted to make it to his parent's house in time for the evening meal.
I was more than a bit irritated when I told Ed to come pick me up, and we began our journey to the Indianapolis International Airport. After almost 2 1/2 hours of driving, we pulled up at the terminal in time for Ed's flight and I turned around to make my 2 1/2 hour trip back to my Urbana apartment. Driving The Crappy seemed fitting for the Thanksgiving that I was having.

There are a couple of lessons from my Thanksgiving tale. Make sure that you are always on good terms with a few completely uncool people. When problems arise, they may be the only ones available to help you out since they will have no other plans. Also, when turning your car over to someone who has hardly ever driven, make sure to let them know that you have engaged the parking brake so that they don't drive 2 1/2 hours wondering what that funny smell is.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Poppies Part II

And a few days later....
the poppies are becoming sweet necklaces.
Sterling chain with a sterling clasp and jump ring.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Yes, I Make the Components

Earlier this year, I took part in a one day street fair that was a juried 'Fine Art & Craft' show. I don't typically do this type of show, and I enjoyed meeting the other artists/craftspeople and those people who pause at my booth. Most people are very friendly, and I appreciate the feedback that I get on both my jewelry and display.
You may notice that I used the word 'most'.
One gentleman was coerced into stopping at my booth because his wife wanted to look at my display. She clearly wanted some of my earrings, and I had the impression that the husband clearly did not want her to make a purchase.
He looked at me and said, "You made all this stuff?!"
I explained that yes, I had made everything and that everyone in the show had made all of their 'stuff'. That's kind of what these juried shows are all about.
He then pointed at one pair of earrings and said with more that just a little bit of dismissive aggressiveness, "How long did it take you to make those?"
His tone suggested that he didn't think my effort was worth the whopping $37.00 that I was charging.
I explained that it was difficult to know how long it takes to make a particular piece since I make the components in batches before I can start assembling any finished piece.
He looked at me as if I were telling him an egregious lie and said, "You make the components?!"
"Yes, I make the components."
I was thinking I could explain the process, but I didn't feel like engaging him in further conversation. Plus, I know that he wasn't interested in understanding my process; he was interested in making sure that his wife didn't spend any money at my booth.

My process for one type of component:
I cut discs from a piece of sheet metal.
All edges are sanded smooth.
The discs are then annealed, making the metal softer and darkened from the oxidation that occurs when exposed to the heat of the acetylene torch.
Stamps were selected for texturing.
Using the stamps, textures were hammered onto one side of each disc.
The discs were sanded to clean up some of the oxidized finish, better revealing the stamped textures and holes were punched in some of the discs.
Some had another disc cut out.
Those tiny cut out discs were sanded along the edges
and then drilled and domed.
After completing those steps, I had components ready so that I could design and assemble a selection of earrings.
So....yes, sir.
My jewelry is hand made and I do make the components.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Still in a dash to make items for the upcoming holiday sales, I spent last night making my interpretation of metal poppies.
I began by cutting two sizes of copper discs. Using my half round hand file, I created an uneven texture along the circumference of each disc, followed by a thorough sanding to smooth the surfaces.
Addition texture was added with one of my favorite tools- an old chisel that I found at a flea market. I always pause at the flea market booths where lots of tools are laid out on tarps. These booths are almost exclusively run by grandfatherly gentlemen who are usually amused to see a female take interest in their old, rusty items.
Some of them will ask me what I'm planning to do with my purchase, and when I explain that I'll use it to make jewelry, they almost always say, "Huh?!....." and turn away.
I don't think that many of these men are at all interested in discussing creative pursuits.
Once I used the chisel to texture the edges, the discs were domed, and holes were drilled.
Small segments of sterling wire were torched to make tiny balls and the three parts were then soldered together using paste solder.
After a cleaning in the pickle, the poppies were treated with liver of sulfur. Highlights were brought out with a fine grit sanding block.