Still here.

November 7, 2010

There’s a rumor going around that I’ve thrown in the towel on jewelry. While it’s true that I haven’t made anything in awhile and have grown to loathe shows, I certainly haven’t given up.  It’s a weird time in my life, and I’m trying to find a place for jewelry that doesn’t drain my time, resources, and patience.

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Behind the Black Curtain

August 24, 2010

I finally got off my ass and registered for a tax ID last week to fulfill a requirement for next month’s show. While this itself is as exciting as a trip down the frozen food aisle, that magic ID number got me behind the black curtain at the gem & jewelry show.

For those out of the bead whore loop, the black curtain is what divides the public area of the show from the wholesale-only dealers. It’s the same stuff on both sides, but a few bucks less behind the curtain.

Even though I felt like I belonged to a special club with my star-stamped hand, there wasn’t much difference between the areas. Sure, a few strands were cheaper, but I’m pretty sure it was a vendor thing. It’s easy to find the same beads at different tables in the public area with a wide range of prices. Foot traffic was WAY lighter behind the curtain, and it was nice not to swear under my breath every time a wheel chair ran over my foot or someone lugging an oxygen tank snagged their tube on one of my bracelets.

The only thing that really felt like a score was an antique Tibetan silver and jade cuff from Afghanistan.  Just looking at this thing made me itch (as pretty much all non-silver/steel/gold/platinum makes me do), but I bought it anyway because I loved it and ten bucks seemed like a deal. After wearing it to a party over the weekend, I was relieved to have passed up the matching necklace. My wrist is still covered in welts and raw spots, and I can’t imagine what would have happened to my precious chesticles if a nickel-laden necklace had been draped across them for one sweaty, alcohol-fueled night.  Even after coating the inside of the cuff  with clear nail polish, my mouth still tastes like I’ve been sucking on a battery. “Metal sensitivity” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Jewelry vs. Graphics

February 25, 2010

In a former life, I’d fill sketchbooks within a matter of days. Most of them are still around, though looking through them is unpleasant to say the least.

Surrealist overtones were present in most of the work, as Dali was (and still is) one of my “Big 3” of inspirational artists (the others are Jim Henson and Shel Silverstein). The ability to package an extreme personality in an irresistibly cool way was always something I aspired to.  Unfortunately no such thing was within my ability, and most of my pieces had the unintended effect of inducing furrowed brows and long term relationships with school administrators.

During my brief yet memorable adventures at the prestigious Cheshire Academy in Connecticut, the art  teacher (can’t recall his name) was a temperamental character who understood the relevance of 50 people drawing the same frickin’ basket of fruit.  He told me something that pieced together every intentionally artistic experience up to that point in my life: everything is a self portrait.

Whoa.

I drew for a few more years with this in mind, and became decreasingly comfortable with the figurative mirror emerging on every page. Looking at the work objectively, the reasons for being escorted on to the short bus as a teenager became more apparent to me.  After awhile, everything besides technical sketches and schematics faded into memory.

With little effort, an observer  see right through the artist whether it is  the artist’s intent or not. A person can’t hide from anyone (including themselves) in drawings and paintings. Having jedi-like powers when it comes to repression,  I shifted focus to less telling mediums and evolved into a jeweler.

When I was your age, “emo” wasn’t an available condition. We had goth, freak, and several flavors of depression to choose from. Life was hard, and we liked it, dagnabbit.

As a veteran of Special Ed, I feel entitled to certain jokes that others would be deemed assholes for laughing at… nevermind telling.  I’ll snicker at the short bus, roll my eyes at a smelly awkward kid with weird habits, and make jewelry mocking teenagers who scar up their bodies trying to get love. Yeah, I said it. I lol at cutters. Of course its a sad and horrible thing to feel so alone and inwardly distraught that one maims the only body they’ll ever know. Of course these people deserve love like everyone else. Of course I have to take a fashionable jab at the shitstorm the school system threw me into.

Seriously… the only way to deal with riding the short bus to school, dodging flying desks all day, and being surrounded by behaviorally challenged kids is to develop a sense of humor about it. Survival, folks. survival.

So here is my little ode to all the kids who felt their bodies weren’t worth leaving intact.  I hope they found what they were looking for.  Click for the listing and more pics.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, and have discovered that books on creativity are bullshit. Since the one that inspired my last post, several more pieces of Freecycle fodder have graced my bathroom bookshelf. Why are there in the bathroom? well, I could say that its because its my thinking spot, but its really because these rapid-fire textual insults to common sense irritate my digestive system… and sometimes its just easier to start off at the final destination.

In addition to having pages with as much text as a fortune cookie, this book is blatantly geared toward painters, a detail that was conveniently left out on the author’s website.

What am going on about? “Get a plant”.  An entire page of this book (3 sentences) is dedicated to the benefits of having a plant in your studio. What? WHAT? Really? I just paid $18 to be told I need a plant?! Wait… it gets better. “Wear pearls”. “Make faces at yourself in the bathroom mirror” I’m a dermatillomaniac… its a given. “Read a trashy novel” how about a trash book on creativity? “Wear you jammies in the middle of the day” Thats kinda… status quo. “Embarrass yourself” Oh please, lets not go there. In fact, lets not go anywhere else at all.

Did Peggy Hill write this book?

I can’t wait to talk to my life coach on Monday and tell her the good news; I’ve decided to throw up on a stack of copy paper, tape it together, and announce my first publication on the creative mind.

Really though, this rash of disappointing books has moved me to write down ideas for my own on the same topic. Why do I keep buying these? I guess I’m hoping for something groundbreaking I hadn’t thought of; something that will change my world.  I  need a book on creativity that doesn’t audibly suck, and I probably have to write it myself.

Marrying my mistress

January 28, 2010

I recently read a book on creativity that was pretty useless aside from one tidbit; a quote from James Goldsmith that says “When a man marries his mistress, he creates a vacancy”.

A lot of people I’ve talked to disagree with this, and I’m not sure why. In the book, the quote referenced pursuing your passion as a full time job, thereby creating a vacancy for another passion… or something less exciting than a passion that just happens to fill that extracurricular void.

Taking on art full time has always been fruitful for me, but never fulfilling. Its awesome to work my ass off in preparation for a convention and then make great money selling my work, but it isn’t something I could do full time. It gives me nothing to look forward to. The days and weeks after cons are usually spent in a state of creative bankruptcy… like I’ve shot my proverbial wad and thats the end of it. Pressure to come up with and execute original ideas is frickin’ awful, and I’m honestly surprised I do it for fun.

So back to the “mistress”. We all have one. Some people knit, others smoke, cook, garden, you get the point. Whatever yours is, shut your eyes, go to lala land, and imagine an average day in your life after working at your passion 40-70 hours per week until you retire. Seem like fun? Get your ass back to lala land and visualize again… this time realistically. Its like a pizza lover getting a job at a pizza joint and then never wanting to see one again after some time.

This thing came into my life at just the right time. How often do we buy iffy stuff and get to use it the same day? Papercraft isn’t my thing, but that hasn’t stopped me from collecting bits of pretty papers, punches, and the like. Buying this set ($6 with the weekly coupon at JoAnn) was more of an attempt to satisfy curiosity than anything else.

As soon as I got home with it, and Etsy sale had gone through and I had the perfect reason to try it out;  I tie a business card and a thank you/reciept card to every jewelry box with a piece of ribbon.  Sometimes my kung-fu grip pulls the ribbon a little too tight and the cards rip… what about a grommet to hold the cards together and… oh my lawdy loo! Its amazing. it really is.

The pics suck today, as they were taken pre-coffee.

The grommet tool is about the size of a pencil and comes with approximately one bazillion tiny 2-piece grommets in 5 colors/assortments.

Here is how it looks on my cards

This instant success with a tool I was sure would invoke my deepest darkest spazziness spurred me to start grommeting my paper scraps. Oh man… gift tags. I just made gift tags. Whoa.

Cardboard, scrap paper, metal sheet, nothing has been safe since I got this tool. So now I’m cankle-deep in frickin’ gift tags, and without gifts to put them on. Etsy seems to have a ton of them listed, but papercraft isn’t something I want to break in to. Jewelry can be fixed if anything happens between listing and shipping, but paper is schmutz-prone and well… I blame the cat.

Wallpaper fail.

January 10, 2010

In my hunt for banner backgrounds (which I use wallpapers for), I came across the one below. Looks neat, yes? Blow it up and look closer. I only saw this after finishing a very cool banner… there are dicks in this wallpaper. Thats right, look again. I tried to tell myself that nobody else would see it and the banner was fine… but no. These dicks are all up in it.

Its ok to laugh at me now.

Craft Swap!

January 6, 2010

…and social media overload! MAN this stuff is hard to stay on top of. I’ve been working on my consulting business non-stop for the past couple of weeks; getting independent artists started with all the cool(cheap/free) tools and resources I’ve discovered over the years in tandem with my marketing coach savvy is my new day job. Pretty sweet, yes?

I’ll get more into the consulting thing later, but right now I want to t talk about my craft swap booty. No, not OrigamiZen Jen’s eye-talian booty, but the booty she shipped all the way from the exotic reaches of Des Moines… a place that many shamefully admit to visualizing as a giant ear of corn with people living around it.  This last craft swap package changed my life. No, really. It contained something called bacon salt, and I swear this is the spice that Dune was talking about. If you happen to be a Facebook buddy, my assertions of bacon salt making everything better are no mystery. Hell, it could be the new ‘tussin(#3)!

On to the actual crafty stuff… she made these super-cute 1″x1″ tiles with ceramic and origami paper that solved my biggest problem with scrabble tile pendants. Wood jewelry and I don’t get along so well… it usually looks like it went into battle with a garbage disposal by the end of the first wearing, so Jen’s tiles were perfect; I added some of my handmade spiral bails and made a bunch of pendants for friends.

Someday I’ll get this background/lighting thing right… an Ottlite is definitely on the wish list.

I’m not sure if these sweet tiles are for sale yet, but check out her store for some very cool (and almost bulletproof) origami pieces.

Another treasure from the last package were these impossibly cute black sakura hair pins. Cute isn’t usually my thing, but I absolutely love the way these look tucked in to my luxurious, upswept jewfro.

Cold Hard truth

November 28, 2009

How many people do you know who think the world is out to get them, or that bad stuff always happens to them just because? Bad relationships, constantly  losing jobs or friends, you know the type.  Everyone has at least one friend like that.

I had a friend like this for many years, and never really understood how they could keep drawing from this seemingly bottomless well of blame without ever accepting responsibility for anything that went awry.  This piece was made as a reminder to myself to avoid such a life by maintaining realistic perspectives.

The sentiment has become an important part of my growth as a person and an artist, and the time has come to pass along the wisdom to someone who can benefit from it.