Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lookin' Good...

I'm giving these little pendants one more day for the shellac to dry fully, and then I'll start listing them in my etsy shop. I'm quite happy with how they've turned out!

(The one on the left has a single small flower bud and the one on the right has lots of little bits of leaves.)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Studio Weekend

Ahhh... how nice to spend some quality time with my studio and all my tools. Lately, I've been so busy with a gazillion other things that I haven't spent any time actually making anything. So, I spent the whole day yesterday and today creating a pile of charm-style pendants. My fingers hurt and my body is tired, but I'm so excited about these little guys.

It takes some time for the shellac to dry fully. But, I hope to have these new pieces finished up in the next day or two, so that I can start listing them.

And the aftermath at my workbench...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Vote for us...

As I can't stop babbling about, Russ and I have a dream to go on a really long cycling adventure. Across the country, around the world. Being on a bike is now the most natural thing for us. We're completely car-free and totally entranced by all that you do and see and experience on a bike.

Where am I going with this? Well, Russ and I have slowly been hatching an idea to ride around and connect with other cycling people and folks working toward a sustainable future.

"People need to know that there is hope, that around them are others who are working in ways no matter how small or large to make our lives better."

And, now Microsoft has launched a "Name Your Dream Assignment" contest... Submit your idea for the most creative, inspiring photo shoot. Needless to say, we've entered. And we'd like your support. The 20 dreams with the most public votes will go on to a jury panel.

If you want to support our crazy dream, head over to the website. You need to register first, then hit the "Pic it" button on our entry.

Thanks!! :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Checking things off my to-do list

Finished updating my artist's statement, and I'm quite happy with it. I had Russ read it and he didn't have any comments, which is amazing since he was an English major. It's that much better than before. You can read it here.

Started updating my website. It needed it. Tweaked some of the text and modified a few details. I still need to update the jewelry photos (but I think I need to take some new photos first). And, really exciting... bicycle head badges are back!

I'm also slowly finishing up components to my catalog. Like... page 2 is done! I'm printing samples tomorrow to see how they translate from my computer screen to paper.

I've been feeling like I have the never-ending to-do list, so it's lovely to actually complete something! Hooray for productivity!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The statement from me, the artist

My task for this weekend... Re-write my artist's statement. There's nothing really wrong with the one I've been using for the past year or two... it's just time for a bit of an update... or, rather, a complete overhaul (sometimes it's easier to just start over than try to edit something that's been done and set for so long). After many hours yesterday and today, I have a first draft! A re-vamped artist's statement is one of the components to my new catalog that's been hardest for me to complete, so I'm excited that I'm getting closer. My goal is to have my catalog to the printer next weekend. Whew.

In other news, it's incredibly windy here in Long Beach today (as in rattle-the-windows kind of windy). I might have to go collect some branches later. :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Durability Test

Over the past few months, I've been hearing more and more concerns over the durability of my jewelry. I'm a complete perfectionist, so it's been hard to not take this personally, as I've always worked so hard to ensure that everything I make will hold up over time (and possibly become an heirloom in the distant future.) And, because this question has taken me by surprise, my answer has been a marginally-defensive one... "Of course it will hold up!"

But, no matter how much of a perfectionist I am, I've come around to understanding that this is actually a very legitimate question. Dried leaves and flower petals are quite fragile, so it's only natural to wonder if buying one of my pieces is a worthwhile investment.

In order to put my own mind to rest and to answer these questions definitively and non-defensively, I devised a test to check the durability of my jewelry-making methods... I would wear a pendant on one of my long-distance bike tours. And, our most recent tour to the desert seemed like the perfect testing scenario... long days of riding, hot days, cold nights, lots of sand and dust and dirt and sweat.

I usually don't wear jewelry while I ride, so I almost forgot to take the necklace with me, and had to come back to the apartment to get it while we were working out the last kinks with our riding companions. I wore it the entire first day. I wore it outside of my shirt, and tucked inside, and it bounced around a lot.

And, then, at night, I took it off and put it neatly in the pocked of the tent... and completely forgot about it the next morning when we packed up. My necklace got rolled up inside the tent, and probably squished as I was pushing out the air and strapping everything to the back of the bike. We stayed in a hotel the second night, so my necklace ended up rolling around the tent and bumping around on the back of the bike for 30 or so hours. And when we finally pitched camp on the third night, I found it in a pile of dirt at the bottom of the tent. Was I nervous? You bet. But, I blew off all the dirt and discovered that the leaves were still perfectly in tact. There wasn't even so much as a scratch in the shellac coating the leaves! I put it back on and rode with it for the rest of our trip.

We rode for five days, 243 miles, 85 degrees during the day, with only two showers the entire trip. By the end of that fifth day, I looked pretty ragged, but my necklace looked fantastic.

I'd say that counts as a passing grade, right?

The "After" Photo... slightly dusty, not as shiny on the front edge, and a bit of a seasoned patina... and I'll be wearing it every day, since I know it can take whatever I throw at it...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In town again

Got back today from our trip to the desert. Has it really only been six days? It feels more like three weeks...

Cycling through the desert is an amazingly intense experience. You're in the middle of absolutely nowhere, surrounded by a vast landscape that changes very slowly over all those many miles. It's incredibly beautiful (especially at this time of year, when everything is surprisingly green and the wildflowers are in bloom), and it's incredibly challenging. I came back stronger, nicely tanned, and eight pounds lighter, with a brain full of stunning memories.

A few highlights...

.. Standing at the edge of a windy hill just off I-10, surrounded by hundreds of windmills

.. Soaring 10 miles downhill into the valley of the desert at Joshua Tree

.. Making the somewhat risky decision to follow a 20-mile-long road through BLM land with no facilities instead of hopping on the freeway and being rewarded with a long, slow descent through a beautiful canyon I never would have thought even existed

.. Listening to music under the stars on my surprisingly good $10 speakers

And, like always, Russ shot many more photos than I did... check them out on his flickr.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

That sweet siren song...

And we're off... again... Leaving Thursday for a long six-day loop out to Pioneertown, Joshua Tree, the Salton Sea and back. Should be close to 300 miles, sunny and dry, and probably a bit surreal. I'm really excited. My brain needs something new to look at for awhile.

But the past few days haven't been solely dedicated to packing and getting maps and making that last trip to REI... I've been working in my studio too. I created myself a small charm pendant to take on our trip...

I've been thinking that I need to make myself my very own necklace to wear on our trips (and anywhere else that I go), so that I can easily show people what I do when asked. But, truth be told, most of what I make, I'd be a bit nervous to take on the road (I can be a bit rough with my things when camping). After much brainstorming, I hit on this lovely little design. It's only about .75" wide, which makes it pretty hard to get at those leaves in the middle (it made it pretty hard to get the leaves in there in the first place!). I'm excited to road-test it and see how it holds up. If it does well, I think I might make a bunch of these.

Back next week!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

On orbiting...

I'm discovering, with all the muck I'm wading through at my day job, that my creative brain goes into serious hibernation when I'm under a lot of stress. And the only daydreams that pass through my consciousness are ones involving long, escapist bike tours (Salt Lake City to San Luis Obispo, via Jackson Hole, Montana, Portland, the Bay Area, and Big Sur, for example). So, I'm not getting done any of the work that I would like to, and I'm feeling a bit guilty about it.

Last night, I went trawling through my book shelf, looking for something to read. And I stumbled upon a book that was gifted to me years ago... Orbiting the Giant Hairball, by Gordon MacKenzie. If corporate bureaucracy is a swirling mess of a hairball, keeping your sanity is the act of orbiting - drawing from the energy of the hairball without getting sucked into it. I think I'm going to work on my own orbiting skills. And maybe stop getting sucked into the muck and help my creative brain to start functioning again.

In the meantime, I have a new guest post up on Epicurean Cyclist, about wool sweaters.