Sunday, January 24, 2010

Studio tour

January has been "organization month" in my little corner of the world. I've spent the beginning of the year on "housecleaning" (though my actual house has not been the beneficiary of this effort). The website has been redesigned, the Etsy shop has a new banner, paperwork is pretty much in order (including sales tax and prep for filing THE tax return), some new photos were shot, plus - I cleaned up the studio. There is more to do, but the month isn't over yet...

Of course we all tidy our workspaces with some regularity, but I recently spent several days creating order out of chaos. It was the chaos manifested by that craziness which begins every October and lasts through December (the rest of the year is a more like an ebb and flow of "controlled chaos").

This week, flat spaces were uncovered. Tools, trays of findings, beads and such, were returned to their proper places. And now, I'm really looking forward to working on the many projects I have planned for the next few months - in my oh-so-tidy space.

Since the studio was all picked up, I snapped a few pics. Here's a "photo tour" of the entire 180 square feet that is my studio.

the view from the doorway

close-up of the metalworking bench area

the metal clay side of the table

the enamel side of the table

the kilns and soldering corner (beyond the table)

Friday, January 15, 2010

A new website and the KISS principle

"Keep it simple, stupid." KISS is a design principle that suggests unnecessary complexity should be avoided. I sure learned that lesson after trying to maintain the last website I designed. This time around that principle guided my design. Plus, it works well with another design principle - "less is more."

Last time I built my website (was it really 5 years ago?), I created all these cool, fancy rollovers, which resulted in a lot of cursing while I worked. And what do you think happened later when I needed to change or update one of those "rollover" words? More cursing. And do you really think anyone noticed that when they scrolled their mouse over the navigational words that the words changed colors? I'm betting not. Nobody but me probably gave it a thought or said "ooh cooooool."

There were layered galleries with complex rollovers for showing and hiding images and their names. A real bear to create with the program I was using-it was a fussy series of arranging and naming parts and if you got one little thing out of place, it failed-but it wasn't always readily clear what the problem was.

So what was the end result? Certainly not much updating of any of those gallery pages, that's for sure. As a matter of fact, I had a gallery named "new" (never do that) with images that were 5 years old. Now that's an up-to-date website.... yeah, right.

This time around? A logo, navigational words that don't do anything fancy, and pictures that just sit there and look pretty. One gallery. It will be easy enough to add pages to the gallery later - I know I want to put up another page of work since I have none of my earrings shown. But seriously, this took sooooo much less time - and in the end, does just as good a job (maybe better) of showcasing my work and linking to places like my etsy shop and blog. Why all the fuss? Here's my advice: keep it simple... ;-)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Making connections: resources for jewelry artists

There is so much great information on the web. For those of you who are involved in the jewelry arts, I wanted to share a couple of resources that are both interesting and valuable.

Some of you may be familiar Harriete Estel Berman for her amazing recycled can artwork. Some may know of her from SNAG and her work with professional guidelines. The professional guidelines (which she has developed) includes things like contracts and inventory lists and loads of other information you can use to grow and support your professional life as an artist. She writes a blog called Ask Harriete which has excellent information on various topics and professional issues for artists. If you didn't know of Harriete, you do now - you can marvel at her work and appreciate her generosity with all the helpful information she has to offer.

You might like to listen to an excellent interview with Harriete Estel Berman on Metalsmith Bench Talk with Jay Whaley on Blogtalk Radio. This is another fabulous resource. You can listen online or download podcasts of the weekly programs. You'll find great interviews by jeweler Jay Whaley with a number of people in the metal arts and related fields. I've really enjoyed listening to other interviews as well - Andy Cooperman, Tim McCreight, Michael David Sturlin, James Binion, and more. Give it a listen.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Friendship and Outreach

"Our lives are filled with simple joys and blessings without end, and one of the greatest joys in life is to have, or be, a friend." This quote has always been a favorite. I wish I could credit the author - I googled it and found something close to what I remember, but with no credit given.

Earlier this week I read the blog of my friend Gail Lannum, who talked about her friend Michele Goldstein. It seems that some of Michele's other friends, Gail Crossman Moore and Anne Mitchell started an effort to help their "friend in need... caring around the clock for the dying father of her children." She has had to cancel shows and is looking at an uncertain future for herself and sons.

By all accounts (Michele's friends), Michele is someone you'd want for a friend. According to her friends she is "the kindest of souls and is always generous." These friends have asked people to "read and pass on" their requests. Since I don't know Michele personally, I didn't feel I could just paste and forward, but I plan to help and thought that at least I could make the connection for anyone else who might feel likewise. So if you want to learn more, click on the links above. I hope this outreach does her some good.

Michele, my thoughts are with you. Gail, Gail and Anne, you too are kind souls reaching out for help for your friend. May she be blessed with all she needs.

"One of the greatest joys in life is to have, or be, a friend."

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy (creative) New Year!

The other day someone asked what I like most about the start of the new year. Jokingly, I answered "consignment checks." I'm relieved to say that it seems like the economy (in our little corner of the world) showed some signs of recovery this holiday season. But what I really look forward to in a new year is the prospect of some quiet time (after all the wonderful holiday noise) for creating new work.

And it's a not only a new year, but a new decade. So what are you going to do to cultivate your creative life? That's what I've been asking myself this week. I'm not much of a "New Year's Resolutions" person (if you want to do something-just do it). And big resolutions are often difficult to keep anyway. I prefer to think about what steps I might take to shape the year ahead. "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao-tzu.

This year, I enjoyed making many new "art friends" (and got to know some others a little better). I'm looking forward to those associations with the hope that we can all encourage and inspire one another. "Encourage" seems to be the word I keep using lately. Maybe it's my "word" for 2010... seems appropriate for a teacher, doesn't it? Here are a few of the steps that I hope will shape my creative journey:

Make more time to experiment. While I already do this to some degree, I want to make it a regular practice. At least once a month, I will try something new or do something I haven't tried for a while, just to shake things up... it doesn't have to be a grand project.

Visit the art museum. It's a great source of inspiration. I am ashamed to say that I went to our amazing museum once this year - once. It's 10 minutes away (and free). This year will be different...

Draw more often. I used to be really good about this, but have been less so in recent years (especially last year). Gotta work on that.

Use my camera creatively and not just for documentation. This past year I found some time to do that a little bit. It's a chance to shift your focus - especially doing macro photography. And I like to manipulate the photos too... all this can inspire other ideas. Watch for some more of that.

Remember to keep it simple/don't over do it. For me, this includes not overcommitting and having reasonable expectations of what can be accomplished in a certain amount of time. Sometimes I thrive on creating under pressure, but other times it just creates more pressure. Mostly, it's just tiring. THIS is going to be a challenge. =)

Blog more regularly (at least once a week) and read more blogs. It's tough to keep up with all the wonderful blogs that I discovered this year, but I will to try to read a few more than I do now.

And of course, I want to continue working toward being the best teacher I can be.

Wishing you all a happy, heathy, joyful, prosperous, creative New Year!