Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On turning 30...

Yesterday, I met my former co-worker for coffee, and I was musing about how far away that whole experience of that job feels, in comparison with how much time has actually passed. I've only been out of the office for less than two weeks, but it feels as if months have unfolded. It's amazing to me how much everything shifts when your routine is completely broken up.

I was also musing about how strange it is to be on my own schedule these days. For better or worse, my identity for the past five years has been, in part, wrapped up in that job - and now I get to figure out something else. It's good and exciting - and still very very strange.

And, in the middle of all this philosophizing, I turn 30 today.

When I think about it, I can't help but feel a bit awe-struck by how much my life has shifted in the past few weeks to alleviate any thoughts of becoming old and stuck.

Our apartment right now is a disaster zone, as we sift through piles of stuff and clear out the trappings of past lives to get ready for our upcoming cycling adventure. Somehow, in the middle of all this, 30 doesn't feel quite so monumental or loaded with meaning. I don't need to sit and fret over what I want to change or what this milestone signifies. I just get to enjoy the fact that great new opportunities await - and that is the best birthday present ever.

(Me, on my birthday, probably about two decades ago)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunday at the Garden

What a lovely Sunday! I had never before been to the community garden on 10th & Loma in Long Beach - it's stunning! Supposedly it's 4 acres, which it astounding as it's in the middle of the city. 70 or so garden plots. Lots of beautiful plants - edibles and non-edibles alike. The Solstice Celebration had live music, food, a cake walk - and all of us vendors. I was set up with a good friend on one side and a delightful young artist on the other - so it was a good day! Thanks to everyone who came out!

(Photos from Russ)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Solstice Celebration!

This Sunday, June 21, I'll be a part of the Long Beach Organic's 1st Annual Summer Solstice Celebration. I'll have a booth with lots of beautiful jewelry - and I'll be joined by a number of other artists and community groups. I'm really excited to be a part of this event and support the community garden program here in town. If you're around on Sunday, come join the fun! It runs from 1-6pm.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's all starting to sink in now...

Last night, over beers with friends, it began to sink in how much everything is about to change. It's all good... but, now that I'm almost done with my day job, I'm realizing how much influence it's had over everything else. I doubt anyone ever consciously decides to let a job (when it's not entirely your life's passion) take over almost every train of thought. And, yet, it does... and I realized last night that I'm going to have to come up with something else to talk about.

For the past few years, I've had a love-hate relationship with my job. Hugely supportive of the organization, overly frustrated with the bureaucracy and the day-to-day stuffs. And it became my default topic of conversation at friday happy hour and the scapegoat for why I didn't feel like going into my studio. Hmmm... again, not a particularly conscious decision.

So, now that I only have two days left after working in the same capacity for five years, I'm starting to see just how much things are going to change. Especially after July, when I'll be on the road. It's exciting and a bit nerve-wracking and extremely surreal. And, most of all, I'm hopeful that the part of me that always said "if only I didn't have a day job, I could make such great things" will actually take over, and great things will spill forth.

Who wants to help keep me honest? :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ready for Some Changes

In March, Russ and I launched the idea of The Path Less Pedaled - a long, open-ended bicycle tour around the US (and the world) with the goal of connecting with and telling the stories of people who had followed some sort of calling to live a "life less ordinary."

Then, yesterday, I was laid off from my day job. After moving past all the emotions, we realized that it meant we could leave whenever we wanted. So, in July, we're really and truly and actually going to hit the road.

I can't even express how completely and totally excited I am. I'm excited to get rid of all of my stuff and live a much simpler life. I'm excited to explore various corners of the world and meet interesting people along the way. I'm excited to see how this trip impacts my jewelry and I'm excited to play with new creative outlets (like writing and sketching).

I've decided to create a sort of "portable studio" that will enable me to continue creating jewelry and headbadges as we travel. I'm still working out the kinks, but these are the tools that I'm currently leaning toward bringing...

The glaringly, obviously missing tool is my torch. But I've got pretty much all of my other oft-used hand tools accounted for. I'm half-envisioning myself sawing and sanding away at a picnic table at a campground, but I'm also hoping that I can stop in to metals classes at community colleges or fellow metalsmiths' studios from time to time to do some soldering. It's all a part of the adventure.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to slowly start changing over the language on my sites to reflect the fact that I'll be out on the road. I've got a lot of work to do, but now I've got all day to do it, so I'm feeling pretty good.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Finding My Style

For the last year, I've been a part of the EtsyMetal group. It's a wonderful group of metalsmiths that sell through Etsy - and being part of it has helped pull me out of my shell. Recently, the idea was thrown out that it'd be fun if we all (or at least some of us) posted on the same topic on the same day - a sort of blog carnival. It sounded like fun to me, so I jumped on board for this month...

The topic? How did those of you with a signature style come to it? What inspired you to that signature style?

For me, it took years to come to my current style of simple and playful metalwork that incorporates found natural materials. I think that's part of the process of coming up with a signature style... you have to look at a lot of other work, play with a lot of different ideas, try lots of things, explore, push... and wait for it all to click at some point.

I started taking metalwork classes in January 2005. At the time, I was just diving into the issue of sustainability. (I've always been "green" - but more because that's how I grew up than because I understood anything about carbon footprints.) I was also trying to figure out how to cope with the lack of trees and greenery in Southern California, after growing up in Oregon and going to college in Massachusetts. I was really torn about living down here and the consumerism I'm surrounded with and the aforementioned lack of wild spaces - and it all started to come through in my class projects.

For my birthday that year, I was gifted a wonderful book (a collection of philosophical essays about nature that is now one of my favorite titles): The Pine Island Paradox. I read it cover to cover several times and then took a quote out of it for a project during the fall of 2005...

The following semester (spring 2006), I really dove even further into my frustration with my surroundings and worked on several pieces that helped me deal with the industrialization all around me (and the radical sustainability ideas I had at the time)...

Then, an interesting thing happened. I got tired of fighting all the time (I was heavily involved in politics at the time) and I started looking at my surroundings a bit differently. I became fascinated with the way that nature could reclaim industrialized spaces, like the grass and weeds that were growing through the concrete at an abandoned and fenced-off gas station.

And then, one day, that fall, I went for a walk in a park and I stumbled onto several trees whose leaves had changed into glorious reds and oranges and which were sprinkled all over the ground. I felt momentarily transported out of Southern California. And I was simultaneously fascinated by the fact that, after living here for four years, this was the first time I had ever noticed leaves changing colors in Southern California. I started to realize that I've been surrounded by nature since day one, but I never realized it because it's so subtle.

I scooped up handfuls of leaves and took them home. It took me awhile after that to actually do anything with them, but I knew (from that moment I first found them) that they would end up being extremely important for my artistic development.

Several months later, I finally started to hit on a way to incorporate those leaves. And then I started branching out to other found natural materials. And, lo and behold, I stumbled onto my style.

In 2007, Russ shot and put together this slideshow of me and my style - and I put it up here as further background information. Enjoy!

And check out these other EtsyMetal members' responses to the same question:
Cynthia Del Guidice
Andes Cruz
Andes Cruz
Danielle Miller
Sara Westermark
Beth Cyr
Ashley Akers
Nina Gibson