Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sneak Peek

I've been busy working on a project that I've wanted to do for a long long time. Actually I have three ideas going simultaneously and that makes my head spin just a tiny bit. So anyway, I thought I'd give you just a wee little peek at what's happening here at Summers Studio.

I'm not quite finished. I need a key ingredient. And to get that key ingredient I have to go leave my nice warm house. It was 22F this morning when I got up. Brrrrr, that is just too cold for me to brave the great outdoors.

I do hope all of you who celebrated Thanksgiving have recovered from the feasting. We had a very non-traditional Thanksgiving. Just the two of us, books, naps. Grateful to have each other and our family. Grateful to welcome each new day and all that it brings.

Have a lovely week!

(PS, I know it's Tuesday and that many people might wish you a happy week on Monday. But it feels kind of like Sunday, or even, Wednesday. My sense of day of the week is all messed up with the holidays. Does that happen to you?)

Monday, November 22, 2010

You can teach an old dog new tricks

I made that! It's not perfect. It should be filled with resin but I don't see myself doing that anytime soon.

So why did I make it? I've been taking Stephanie Lee's Homesteader Metal Smithing class online. This old dog has learned some new things. It's been a fabulous experience to expand my horizons and challenge myself in new ways. Just what I've been needing to get my inspiration charged up again as we head into winter.

This really has been challenging for me. It's a whole different kind of metal smithing than I've ever done before. My dad, the renaissance man, did silver smithing and taught me lots of things many years ago. He was an exacting task master and this definitely would not have been his cup of tea. But for me, it's just opened up some new paths and I love that. I have all sorts of ideas.

This is what my young dog Alice brought in today. They are pecans. She brings them in hidden way down inside her mouth so that you can't tell that she's got them.  We have a huge crop of pecans this year. It fairly rains down pecans when the wind blows, which is pretty much all of the time. Now if I could only teach this young dog to drop them into a bucket. I would have enough pecans to last me all winter and some for you too.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A story of special

Every once in a while things come together in life to make a special moment. When that happens to me I feel an enormous amount of gratitude.

A week ago a man contacted me on Etsy to see if I had any bronze oak leaf pendants. He said his daughter was a huge fan of the Ranger's Apprentice book series by John Flannagan. I had never heard of the series. And I have absolutely no idea how he found me. He even joined Etsy just to be able to ask after the pendant.

It turns out that the author is Australian and as many of you know, I lived for quite a few years in Melbourne. So I was intrigued. The series is set in the medieval world of  Araluen and the Ranger's are a small elite force who act as guardians of the kingdom. An apprentice ranger is given a bronze medallion in the shape of an oak leaf at the end of his first year of service. You can see the oak leaf in the picture above. It's quite similar in shape to the ones I've made.

As it turns out, I had exactly one bronze oak leaf left. It is the last of only 6 that I've made and there will be no more just like it as I'm in the midst of changing the bronze material I work with.

The pendant, attached to a simple chain, is on it's way to it's new home along with the story of how they came to be. It's a Christmas present. It just kind of warms me up to think of this dad searching out a gift just because he loves his daughter enough to find a gift that will be meaningful to her. Very special dad!

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shows are mysterious things

 Hundred's of people, lots of smiles, even good sales and my last big show of the year is over. I am tired and it's taken three days to even start to get back into things in the studio. That's my friend Pauline's glass mosaic up there. She does these amazing, bright, and colourful pieces. Makes you happy just to walk into a room when you are greeted with one of these.

Let me give you a little tour of the studio tour. This is a major juried event here and something like 5,000 people attend. It's held in 10 studio locations and we had 5 artists represented in ours. I loved where I was. It was in Carol's home where both she and her husband have studios.

 Their home is this fantastic contemporary home that sets up like a gallery space when you move the furniture out and about. Love those polished concrete floors and that green wall. Carol's husband is an architect and he not only designed their home but most of the furniture for their home as well.

This is my space. I got the green wall!  I'm not sure whose backside I managed to get in my photo. And my doesn't that electrical cord look a bit untidy. Oh well.  But really, truly it was much more impressive in person :-)

This is Carol's studio. She's in a heated garage that probably no car has ever been in. Carol works with large format cyanotype collage (blue prints). Her work is quite amazing. She's collected all of these laundry tags and vintage images and had them made into enormous negatives.

This is one of the negatives being exposed out in the drive.

And now the mystery. I sold every bracelet I made. I sell very few bracelets. Why bracelets? Is there some sort of trend going on out there that I don't know about?

Thanks everyone for all of your good wishes and support over the last couple of weeks as I got ready for this show!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Finished, Done, Complete

Accomplished, used up.....all synonyms for finished, all words to describe today in the studio. I am done making things for the shows this weekend. I don't even set up until Friday. How did this happen? Of course, there is this overwhelming compulsion to make just one more thing. But I am resisting. I am all used up and really have no more creative juice left.

Did you see that plural up there? The shows part. Did I tell you this is the weekend that happens every year where I do my regular monthly art market and the studio tour? And what on earth is that daisy doing up there?

I just pulled that out of the inventory because I couldn't bear to part with it. It has it's little drippy flaws but what if somebody loved it and bought it and I could never make another one again. It also serves to soften the image of my studio. Like maybe it doesn't look like this:

Which isn't even my studio. It's my dining room. And it is much worse than it was the last time I showed you. But the good news is that the studio proper is no worse. Well, it couldn't really get any worse.

And about these studio tours. First thank goodness I won't be setting up in my studio. Because this mess isn't going away until at least Monday. But I do really think it should be a requirement to show some reality shots of working studios. By the time you all get round to one of these events, everything is all tidy and neat. But we all know that nothing ever really gets made in a state of tidyness. At least I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who lives in creative chaos. And if I am, I really, really would like to stay with the delusion that this is completely normal.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Almost like a plan

A flower here

 A bird there

Look a butterfly!

I am in the final days of getting ready for my biggest show of the year. My mind is a little like it is filled with butterflies flitting here and there.  I am a little on auto pilot when it comes to design right now. Just kind of doing what feels right at the moment.

You know, I never think of myself as nature inspired. But I looked around at the things I've made and by golly, virtually every piece has some sort of nature theme. It's almost like I planned it that way. This show is either going to look like I had a concept or it's going to look really really boring. But it will be done and over and I will clean up the mess next week.

This is what the mess looks like. This isn't even my studio. This is a folding table set up in the dining room. I am not sure where the dining room table is. I haven't really seen much of it for a month. And the studio? Well it's bad, very bad.

Guess what? That little piece in the center up there, it's a dragonfly. Yep, I am definitely nature girl this autumn.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

On Children

It's my son's birthday today. That's us a few years ago at the head of the South Kaibab trail on his birthday. He was still stationed in Korea and wanted nothing more than to turn 25 in the Grand Canyon. I was so pleased that he asked me to take this back packing trip with him. It seems like only yesterday. Today he is 30.

He phoned from Afghanistan this morning. The connection was so clear that he could have been next door. Our package arrived, today, on his birthday. He had lasagne for supper. For thirty years I've asked what he wanted for his birthday supper. For thirty years it's been lasagne. The Army does not make lasagne like his mummy :-) But it was recognizably lasagne.

So much has changed since that trip to the Grand Canyon. Now he has a new family of his own. We chatted this morning about Alyssa, who is three, and pushes the boundaries in a way that only three year olds can. We chatted about strategies on how to deal with a spirited child without breaking the spirit. We chatted about the puppy that his wife and daughter are about to bring home. He told me about the beautiful watch that Tammy sent him, lovingly engraved with 'counting the time till you come home to us.'  Even though they are so far apart just a few months after they were married, they are close in their hearts and happy.

When I was a young girl I first read Kahil Gribran's poem On Children. I was seeing from the side of the child. Now I read this poem again and I am on the other side.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

I hope that in thirty years, my son will look at Alyssa and feel as much love and pride in her as I feel for him.

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stars make me happy

I don't know about you, but the holiday season feels like it is approaching way too fast. Maybe it's the show I have coming up a week from Saturday. Maybe it's that I have to set up for my monthly market on the same weekend. Maybe it's that I have too many changes happening in the back ground of my life.

But I fired my kiln two days in a row over the weekend and it was good. It felt like a little Christmas present to myself opening that kiln and seeing these stars. I'm not entirely sure what happened in my thought process. This is not at all what I usually make at holiday time. I usually stick with unglazed porcelain. But for some reason I made a whole lot of toasty warm stars this year. 

I like stars. I made these for no reason other than it made me happy to do it. I think it's important at this time of year to slow down a little. To take stock of life and connect to the simple things that are part of everyday. To smile at life. And to do little things for no other reason than it makes you happy.