Sunday, November 21, 2010

Holidays, Here We Come...

Thanksgiving is only a few days away, and they're forecasting snow for Portland tomorrow, so I'm thinking about the holidays all of a sudden. If you are too, here's some information you'll want to have...

Holiday Specials

To kick off the holidays, I'll be running a few specials over in my etsy shop.

From November 26 through November 30, purchase $180 worth of jewelry or headbadges from my etsy shop, and receive a FREE pair of Seedlets earrings (your choice of seed). All orders will also ship with FREE SHIPPING.

Holiday Events

This year, I will only be participating in one Holiday Craft Show... BikeCraft. I'll be there with headbadges, the Bike Mustache, and some bike-touring-themed goodies. If you're in or near Portland, Oregon during the weekend of December 4 and 5, I invite you to stop by, say hi, and take home some handcrafted goodness. The show runs from 10am-6pm both days.

Holiday Order Deadlines

If you're ordering gift items from me, please take note of these deadlines. I need to have orders placed by these dates in order to be able to ensure they are delivered by Christmas day (and still be able to enjoy my own holidays).

December 9 - Last Day to place orders for Custom work (this includes headbadges)

December 18 - Last Day to place orders for items in stock (after this date, we'll have to look into expedited shipping options and I may not be able to guarantee a before-Christmas delivery)

Thanks everyone - and have a happy holiday season!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Wander Series

I have always been fascinated by maps, and the way that looking at a map can call you to adventure. For the past 15 months of traveling, I have been using a wide variety of maps. Road maps, tourist maps, park maps. I marked them up with all manner of notes, and then I saved them, because they hold moments of our journey. But I didn't just save them to look back on them at some distant point in the future - I wanted to incorporate them into earrings and necklaces.

Now, the first pieces in this Wander Series are available in my etsy shop! Wear a pair of these earrings or one of these charm necklaces and let it whisper to you of far-off places and wonderful experiences waiting for you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Telling Stories...

The short version is that I've been traveling for the past 15 months and the experience has completely changed my life and the way that I think about what I'm creating. Traveling wakes up the dormant parts of you as you interact with entirely new landscapes. And my mind has been reeling, awake and aware, soaking in the beauty and the complexities and the wind in my face.

I haven't created any new jewelry in several months. I sit and think about designs and then stop - because things are changing in my brain and I think I need them to gel before I dig in again. But as I sit and look out the window at the beautiful oak tree outside, with its golden leaves and the way it dances when the wind blows, I know that the ideas are coming together, and it's time to get back to it.

Traveling has also reinvigorated my love of writing. Before I discovered metals, I wanted to be a writer. Non-fiction, preferably, but I wanted to tell stories. This trip has turned out to be a very long series of stories - short moments and detailed experiences. As I move forward, I realize that I want to illustrate these interactions and experiences in both words and metal.

Which means that, as I get back into making jewelry, my challenge will be to put these stories into each piece I create. Little snapshots of a life-changing experience, neatly strung on a sterling silver chain.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Fall - Time for a Sale!

Hello, poor neglected blog! I haven't forgotten you, I've just been focused elsewhere for the past few months.

If you've been following our cycling journey, you'll know that we're currently in Boston, Massachusetts. It's fall up here, complete with beautiful red and yellow leaves everywhere - and we're getting ready for winter. We're headed to Portland, Oregon in a couple weeks for a winter travel break - time to work on lots of exciting new projects!

For the past few months, I've been milling over new design ideas, as well as the direction I want to be taking with this business. I'm excited to sit down with all of the trinkets I've collected and all of the things that I've learned while we've been on the road - and I look forward to sharing all the new pieces that I hope to make!

In the meantime, I'm running a small Pre-Holiday Sale! I'm clearing the decks a bit in anticipation of this new stretch of work time - and you get to benefit. Select items are on sale, up to 30% off, and everything has Free Shipping. Take a stroll over to my Etsy Shop and check it out...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

New Pendants!

Just wanted to share the last few pieces I wanted to finish up before leaving Nashville. Each of these is inspired by the Natchez Trace Parkway and the Tennessee countryside. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

3 weeks in Nashville = lots of jewelry finished!

Our time in Nashville has been extremely prolific for me. And I've been able to finish up a bunch of random projects and start focusing on new pieces.

One of our homestays here was with a fellow metalsmith and jewelry maker, Lisa Aronow. I love being able to stay with jewelry people - in part because I simply love being able to connect with other folks who are making their livelihood in the same way I am, in part because it's a great way to learn and grow beyond what I already know, and in part because I get access to tools that I'm not carrying (like a torch!).

I have a few other pieces that I hope to finish up and list in the next couple days. And then I'm seriously going to return to my previous commitment to focus on one new piece per month, pushing myself to step outside of what I've already been creating. I'm really feeling called to shake up my style a bit, so I'm kind of excited to see what happens...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Last of the Desert Pieces...

Well, I haven't exactly held myself to my timeline. Oops. I'm just now finishing up the rest of my desert-inspired pendants and listing them in my etsy shop. I'm really happy with how they turned out, even though it took me a lot longer than I wanted to wrap them up.

We're in Nashville, Tennessee now for the next couple weeks, which means lots of time to finish up other pieces that are half-made and dive into lots of new designs. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Making Connections

One of the goals that I set for our current bicycle journey was to meet and connect with metal and jewelry artists around the country. I wanted to get outside of my "working-on-my-own" bubble and see how other folks make what they make. I wanted to grow in my designs and be inspired by how others are making a "successful" living off their work.

Slowly, as we inch our way east, I'm meeting more artists and I'm able to start delving into these hopes and goals that I had before we left. In San Francisco, I met Elizabeth Rosas. In Fort Worth, I got to work with Ashley Akers. In Shreveport, I had a great show-and-tell and conversation with a 20-year-veteran jewelry maker friend of our hosts. In Jackson, Mississippi, I got to connect with Stacey Hansen. And when we get to Nashville in a few days, I hope to connect with a few other jewelry makers that I'm aware of only through the internet.

Each conversation and interaction is different and each is amazing. There are similarities and differences in jewelry style, work style, business goals, as well as in the ways that I've been able to connect with folks. And I wouldn't trade any of them!

One of the most interesting things that I've discovered is that a "proper" studio is just not required. I used to think that I was a bit of a hack, because my studio space was a workbench in the corner of our living room, with a soldering torch in the bathroom. As it turns out, that's more or less the same set-up of everyone that I've met up with. Which I think proves that all you need to make it work is whatever will make it work for you.

Meeting other jewelry people has also been incredibly important to my sense of self as an artist. When you work by yourself and your interactions with other people in your field is only through the internet, it's easy to feel like you're just playing dress-up and your customers are imaginary friends and maybe you're not as much of a professional as you thought and your designs aren't as strong as they should be. "They" say that, as an artist, you should just make what you like and not worry about the outside world. But, sometimes, you can make what you like and then step back and wonder if anyone will ever see it the way that you do and if you will ever find an audience. Having the chance to interact with other jewelry artists has forced me to stand up for my designs, talk about them, examine them. And it's made me more confident in what I'm making and how I'm doing it. Plus, nothing beats having a life-long jewelry maker tell you that your work is impeccable and rare and needs to be seen more!

The first few conversations that I had were unsteady and I didn't ask all the questions that I wanted to or that I should have. It was weird to meet these people who had previously only existed on the computer screen and who might tell me things that I didn't want to hear. And, in truth, I'm still learning how to reach out and make these kinds of connections, but I know how extremely beneficial they are for me (and, hopefully, for the person on the other side of the conversation). So I just wanted to say Thank You to everyone I've been able to meet as we travel! You are all wonderful and generous and inspiring.

If you're an artist also and feeling unsteady about your own work, I highly encourage you to get out of your bubble, however uncomfortable, and talk with other folks doing something similar. And if you're a jewelry maker on the eastern part of the US and want to connect with me, drop me a line, because I'm eager to keep meeting folks and having these kinds of conversations.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Hooray for Soldering!

We're in Fort Worth, Texas right now - staying with a great fellow jewelry maker, Ashley Akers. We've had a great time in town over the past few days - we gave a presentation about our trip to 100+ local folks, and we've explored some of the museums and shops and the Trinity Trails system.

It's also been really great to meet Ashley in person, after getting to "know" each other through etsymetal and the wonders of the internet. Staying with her and Frank has also meant that I've had access to a proper studio for the first time since I packed mine away.

Access to a proper studio means that I've been able to pick up a torch and solder a few pieces. I was a bit nervous, since I haven't soldered anything in months, so I wasn't sure I'd remember how. But, it's kind of like riding a bicycle, and Ashley's acetylene torch made soldering a breeze compared to my little propane torch that I had back in Long Beach.

I put together a small handful of my "Mini" pendants that have been so popular. I'm still working on finishing them all up, but I've been able to list the first two in my etsy shop. So, check them out!

Thanks Ashley!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

the Desert as Inspiration

New pieces now available in my etsy shop! Sterling silver, copper, and materials I've collected over the past few months of cycling through the desert.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Working on the road...

A few days ago, Russ and I celebrated eight months on the road. Wow... eight months of continuous travel! We made it through one of the coldest and wettest winters on record... and now it's spring here in Texas. Flowers are blooming, everything is bright green... it's an incredibly beautiful change from the months of cold, dry desert.

The more we travel, the more I think about how to work on the road. Like everything else, I have had to completely re-conceive of what it means to work on jewelry while we're traveling. Yet, unlike figuring out how to cook, navigate, set up camp, stay warm, etc., setting up my studio and creating new pieces has been a real challenge for me.

For so long, I've worked in sets... simultaneously creating several pieces at once. When you have a studio and can leave things spread out, it's a great way to work, because you can fit bits of work into random chunks of time, and you can knock out all the sanding (for example) at one time (not to mention, the more you stare at something, the more you can refine the design). As we travel, however, I don't have the freedom to just leave things laying around. And my brain, in all honesty, isn't adapting so well to this. Which is why I've been ever-so-slowly working on the same ten pieces for the past three months. Yes, three months.

Now, to be fair, I have worked on other projects during this time. For example, these custom head badges for a bicycle frame builder in the Sacramento area...

My goal is to finish up these ten pendants before we push out of Austin, and get them listed in my shop. These are all pieces that are inspired by our desert crossing... the brown hills, the skies full of stars, the bright red and orange desert plants. And now that we're not in the desert, I want to wrap them up and start looking at all the trees and fresh spring greens for new inspiration. I've made it my mission for the next few days, so I'm actually making a fair bit of progress. Take a look...

And, then, I'm making a radical change in how I work on jewelry. This sort of came to me the other night as I was going to sleep... and I think it'll help me focus better on each piece and not feel so overwhelmed. My plan is to work on and complete one piece, inspired by our travels, per month. If I get that one piece finished up before the end of the month and want to move on to a second piece, great! But, I'm going to finish that one piece first.

And I want to push myself to document the creation of these pieces... where I found the inspiration, what I'm incorporating, the various stages of making each piece, all the back-stories. I'm really excited about this new challenge, and I hope you'll follow along.

But, first, I gotta finish up these desert pieces...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Just in case you were curious...

I am managing to squeeze in some work on jewelry while we travel! (Photo of me at Guadalupe Mountains National Park)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ah, Jewelry, I remember you...

As it turns out, carving out the time to work while traveling is a LOT harder than I ever imagined. Or, rather, it's a lot harder to prioritize my time so that jewelry-making gets an equal share (it's just so easy for the studio time to get squeezed out, in favor of cycling and exploring new towns and talking to people and connecting with our homestay hosts and relaxing in those few moments we get).

And now that it's officially winter all around us, I have to contend with the cold factor too. A few days ago, we planned a rest day at a state park. 'Great!' I thought, 'I can get some work done on these pendant ideas that have been floating around in my head for weeks.' And then it rained. All freakin' day. And at about 2pm, it was a whopping 38 degrees outside. Not exactly conducive to setting up shop at a picnic table.

So, what can I say but that I'm a bit frustrated by the situation and I'm still trying to figure it all out.

Which brings me to something that I have been able to do... drumroll please...

This pendant was a small idea that kept popping up and rolling around my head for weeks, in different combinations, until finally it made sense one day (I love when that happens!). And I scored enough downtime in Tucson to finish it up. It's made of sterling silver, copper, and bicycle inner tube. And the idea is to bring together all of the inspiration of the desert that we've been riding through for the past many weeks... vast, brown hills and skies full of stars.

The pendant itself is way too heavy, especially with this small chain (which is the only kind of chain I have with me right now), but I wanted to show it off. Especially since finishing this pendant started my head buzzing with smaller, lighter, more wearable variations of this design. So, whenever I can finally carve out the necessary time, I've got a whole desert series to work on.


All of this brings me to my next great idea... collaboration! One of the other things that I have wanted to do while traveling is connect with other jewelry and metal artists around the US. I have done an absolutely crappy job of this so far, so I'm really trying hard to make it more of a priority. What I'm thinking so far is this... What if I could connect with other artists in various parts of the US, as we travel through, and spend a couple days sharing ideas and studio space? It could mean working together on some sort of collaborative finished product or using the opportunity to learn (together) about some new skill or just spend the time swapping tips and suggestions. Or any number of other ideas that I haven't made their way into my head yet.

Interested? Our rough route for the next few weeks is as follows... Alamogordo, New Mexico... Marfa, Texas... Big Bend State Park... Texas Gulf Coast... San Antonio... Austin... Ft. Worth... New Orleans... then on to the East Coast somehow and then North and then back toward the West Coast. If you're along that route, or near that route, or think we should make our route go through your neck of the woods... and you want to work on some sort of collaborative something... let me know (email: tangerinetreehouse AT gmail DOT com). I'm excited just thinking about the idea, so we could start brainstorming today. :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What Happened to my Twitter...

Many moons ago, I was convinced by several someones that I really needed to start up a Twitter account. Not only would it be good for promoting my jewelry, it would help me connect with people, and I could then be a part of a brewing, top-secret plan. I hemmed and hawed for a long time, thinking about whether I really wanted to delve into this new media, what my feelings were about Twitter and the way that it enables connection... and I ended up caving in and opening an account. (I even had a small contest to help me figure out what to do with my name.)

After just a few short weeks, I gave up with Twitter. It felt utterly pointless to me. It felt like I wasn't doing anything but re-post what I'd already said somewhere else. Perhaps the audience was a bit new, but the content wasn't, and I ended up feeling like I was just putting out a stream of commercials (and, at that, commercials that I wasn't really sure anyone wanted to pay attention to).

Several months have now passed since I gave up on Twitter, and I feel guilty a lot about it, especially since I had such great help in finding a Twitter name. Did I not give it enough of a chance? Should I try again?

This morning, I read a great article about Stock & Flow (found through Megan's new CraftMBA site). The gist of it is that Stock is what we produce that has long-standing value, while Flow is the stuff we put out of a more temporary nature. Stock is the jewelry, while Flow is the blog. And there is a great string of comments after the article about how we've become overly adept at Flow, bogging ourselves down with all this temporary stuff, while not producing enough Stock to keep people around for a long time. As a result, everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame, and then they're totally forgotten. (I really recommend the article!)

And, suddenly, in reading the comments, it hit me why I really gave up on Twitter... It's an overflow of Flow. Because I don't quite understand Twitter enough and haven't become creative enough with it to use it in a way to keep people around longer, I only know how to put out the sort of drivel that doesn't add anything to the greater conversation.

Which isn't to say that Twitter is at fault. I think there are ways to use Twitter to great effect, i.e. when Russ tweets for @PathLessPedaled (our bicycle journey), which works because (often) there's a point beyond just driving folks to the website.

Anyway, this is a big rambling, round-about way of saying that I've finally figured out how to make peace with quitting Twitter. If you've been following me, wondering when I'll start babbling again, you can officially un-follow me. But, thanks for your support!

And I'm excited to have words for this nagging feeling I've had lately that I need to create more depth in my blog and my work, something more substantial that holds up over time.

Take a few minutes to scoot over to Robin's article. (Thanks Megan for pointing me to it!)