Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Be careful out there, y'all . . .

Yes, kids. You most certainly can lose control of your vehicle on gravel when it's ice-covered.

Ed and I came upon this truck in the ditch as we left our house yesterday. We were only 100 yards from our house and completely unaware that it had just happened. As we slowed down a bit to take a closer look I noticed a tiny flashing light in the window when suddenly a face appeared. There was a fellow still inside! He appeared okay but could not open the door that was now on top of the truck so Ed propped the door open and the guy just tumbled out.

It's enough to say that he was all right but here he was with a trach tube, unable to talk to us, trying to communicate with a pen that wouldn't write that he was sick and wanted us to take him to a house two miles further down the lane. Instead, I stayed on the phone with 911 dispatch until four trucks, our volunteer fire department fire truck, two ambulances and two sheriffs showed up.

Overheard, the fellow was in withdrawal and needed medication.

Lesson 1: he skidded going UPhill so don't assume that you cannot lose control at any speed and in any spot on the road, gravel or not.

Lesson 2: anybody at any time can be coming at you and cross the road, crashing into you or just the ditch.

Lesson 3: stop and help. Next time it might be you.

Lesson 4: slow down. Next time it might be me.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sustained and soothed . . .

Early last week I lost a dear friend, Roger Pabian, a retired Professor of Paleontology at the University of Nebraska. We first met 12 years ago when I signed up for a jewelry workshop and was seated across the table from him. I was new to Lincoln but my husband was a life-long resident and a fairly high profile guy, having raced locally among other things. As we introduced ourselves, Roger piped up, "You wouldn't be the woman who married Ed Bowes, would you?" Well, yes I would be and he proceeded to regale me with racing stories from 'way before I arrived in Lincoln. From that point on, we were fast friends and saw each other every Saturday night at Eagle Raceway.

I knew that Roger, or Captain Agate as he came to be known, taught a lapidary class and he finally convinced me that I should attend. Saying, "Oh that's all I need, Roger - one MORE hobby", I took the class and was hooked. I now am proud to be able to cut and polish my own stones for my work and I will forever be grateful for Captain Agate's pushing me for excellence. How many times did he make me redo a stone I thought was finished? A gazillion but I learned from the best, I think.

Roger passed away in his sleep last week, far too early in his life as he had just turned 75. It came as a surprise to all of us and it will take a while to sink in. I worked at my bench for a few hours yesterday and could not take my mind off everything he taught me and I had to laugh that his writing was still on the 'spitter' of my lapidary machine telling me 'This Side Up'. That Roger . . .

After a long day at Roger's funeral and time spent with those who knew him, I came home to a box on the porch in front of my door. A box full of wonderful things from my friend, Lisa 'Lil Fish Studios'. In the box were two wood boxes which I collect, Minnesota wild rice, pancake mix, honey (oh my, wonderful honey!) and a little Lipton tea tin. Inside - a wood spool and a tiny agate.

Although Lisa had no way of knowing it when she sent it, that tiny agate will become one of my most cherished possessions. It arrived on the day we said goodbye to one of the world's leading authorities on agates and one of my dearest buddies. I'll miss you, Captain, but I'll be able to come into my library and pick up that little Lake Superior Agate and laugh a bit as I remember you, see your eyes crinkle and hear you chuckle as you tell story after story.

Thank you, Professor Pabian. Thank you Lisa. You have no idea what a treasure you sent me, my dear friend.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday at the Lauritzen Gardens . . .

What a wonderful day out at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha. I had no idea that there were so many different kinds of Poinsettia, miniature to curly and all colors between pale cream and deep crimson. The displays are spectacular and I do want them all.

My friend Sue and I always try to hit the Lauritzen couple of times every year, especially at the change of seasons when it just gives you that tickle in the pit of your tummy to see all of the things that are new for the season. During their Christmas Open House, they feature their scaled down version of the Omaha of old, complete with old buildings in miniature and scale model trains and trolleys that weave in and out of the buildings. This year they have built a trestle bridge that grazes your head and the train goes completely through the tall, lit Christmas Tree!

It's a fun day out and I always feel so inspired to start garden planning and digging when I get home. Well, at this time of year, it's planning.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oh yeah . . .

And a handful of 'scrappy' charm necklaces.

Now I'm done. For today.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I may take up knitting full time . . .

Yikes. Seriously, yikes.

The price of sterling silver is quickly approaching $30 per troy ounce which is about double what I last bought it at last summer and it makes a craftperson like me wonder how much longer she can afford to continue creating without having to restock a slowly dwindling supply of sterling silver. Yikes is right.

So while mulling this over standing at my bench and working to replenish the galleries for the Holidays, I
hit upon a stopgap solution and I feel like I'm doing some small part (in 'upcycle-speak') by creating without having to purchase more and more and more.

Sort of a 'duh' moment, I know, but I started digging into my scrap bucket which, at this point usually gets packaged up and returned to the place from whence it came to be reconstituted (or whatever happens to it) at the foundry (or whatever that place is called) so it can be rendered (or whatever the end result is) into flat silver sheet and wire once again.

As I'm digging around I come across little bits that can be made into odd-shaped bead caps and pieces that used to be something else that can now be - aha! - charms!

I dug and mixed and hammered and melted and didn't even TRY to match anything. What I ended up with was a cool collection of scrappy little silver charms that I switched and rearranged until I had a handful of earrings and charm necklaces that were far better than anything I could have planned.

All of them made
from scrap silver and orphan pieces of chalcedony and jade. I feel good. Not bad for a day.

Yeah, I'm a genius. Well, at least I feel a bit better about solving a problem with a little creativity.

Monday, November 8, 2010

1950 Dodge Pickup Truck . . .

My husband does bring me the coolest stuff!

This time it's a 1950 Dodge Pickup that has been sitting in a scrapyard in Beatrice, Nebraska, for who knows how many years. It's rusted and it's so cool I can't stand it.

As a couple of old hotrod people, Ed and I have been watching for an old pickup truck for a long time, something I could drive every single day that will haul bags of mulch, spring shrubs, groceries, my art show set up, absolutely everything - and now we have it. Of course, it's going to take a little work but, by and large, this is how it will look when it's up and running with the exception of a little chrome here and there. And a cool interior.

I have this 'thing' for patinaed vehicles - not really a rat rod but not quite a hot rod, either. I love the layers of paint and a little rust here and there. And if I know Ed, this gem will have a smokin' hot, super fast, can't catch me, engine when it gets going.

Oh yeah, I'm in love.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I'm trapped . . .

Caught once again in the production work today. I'm not one for making the same thing more than once or twice so when I get a super wholesale order for multiples, it's a mixed blessing. I'm grateful for the sweet order but longing for something a bit different. So I finished up the order this evening and decided that I should make just one thing for me. And this time I won't sell it off my body (as usually happens).

It's a plain, wide, domed, sterling cuff. Heavy and striking. A 'goes with everything', 'wear it every day' signature piece.

It's mine.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Buttons and boxes . . .

Oh yum. What a fabulous find. Bakelite buttons. Lots.

Friday was a gloriously perfect day. Gloriously perfect. My darling friend Rachel 'Two Dog Pond' stopped by for a visit and just chatting for a few hours with friends like her makes such a wonderful start to the day. She's teeming with great ideas for rearranging workspace, marketing for the Holidays, creative inspiration and I just can't get enough of standing her her aura. A really lovely person and it was sweet to spend time with her yesterday morning. Really.

Then off to join my friend Sue who loves to browse through the same antique malls as I do. Oh yeah, we always find all kinds of cool stuff that is so far beyond our price range that it makes us both giddy. The advertising wood boxes that I love being offered for a gazillion dollars, that sort of ridiculous thing. It's always good for a hoot or two.

Suddenly, a treasure! One booth had an old map chest that was labeled 'miscellaneous buttons' and in the top drawer was this little baggie chock full of Bakelite buttons! A gorgeous collection of Bakelite buttons in creams, golds, browns, oranges and greens. Some translucent, some solid. Big, little. Some round, some square. Plain, simple, sweet. Marked $16 and the entire booth was 60% off. Score! Now I'm dying to make more button box pendants. Itching.
Oh yeah, I did find one lovely old wooden box, as you can plainly see. Stamped on the side "BEEF BRAINS" and below that "GROSS". I can only assume that the 'gross' stood for 144 of something but its other meaning wasn't lost on me, astute observer that I am. In fact, Sue and I thought that maybe, just maybe, that dried stuff in the bottom of the box may have been some leftover grossness. We can only hope.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Girlfriends . . .

Ah, girlfriend time.
Is there anything better than spending time with old friends?

My two beautiful twin girlfriends, Connie and Audrie visited us this weekend from Lawrence and it was so wonderful to see them again. We've known each other since 1989 (I know, can you believe it?!) when Connie and I worked together in Kansas City and we became fast friends. Endured the same challenges of the work, shared the same experiences and commiserated considerably. It was a personal growing time for me and I learned much about myself as I know Connie did. Completely changed the way we set personal boundaries - how we let co-workers treat us. [ And I refuse to say any more than that on the grounds that it definitely will incriminate us =-) ] We revisited those events and were shaking our heads. Grateful for the experience and all the better for it. Can I get an 'Amen'?

Ed treated us to a Saltdog baseball game. Great gams.
We went to the Quilt Study Center on the University of Nebraska campus. Swell gift shop. We like to pose like Connie and Audrie's aunt taught them - one foot in front of the other is slimming she said, chest out, tummy in.

Tons of visiting, sitting on the back porch watching the hummingbirds chase each other off the feeders (who knew they were so territorial?), scratching cat bellies, congratulating each on our weight losses and encouraging each other the keep at it one meal at a time. Such a wonderful time.

I can't wait to see them again. xoxox.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Working my fingers to the bone . . .

Yes, to the bone. The buying season will quickly be upon us, sooner than we think, and it's time to keep building reserves for galleries, friends in need of last minute gifts and those Fall and Holiday Craft Shows.
I'm not really one who enjoys production work but sometimes . . . . . I've just gotta. I've been hammering silver wire into piles of skinny bangles and instead of soldering the ends closed, I rivet the ends which gives them a bit of texture and interest as well. Love 'em. Easy to wear.

And scrumptious aquamarine. Rough aquamarine. Gemmy, yummy aquamarine. Clear sky blue, druzy inclusions, clouds, beautiful rough cut. Begs for simple swingy stirrups

Back to the bench. It's still early.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Delicious prehnite . . .

Two really sweet pieces of prehnite. Apple green and glowing.

The first piece is about 1.5" long and .75" wide and the second is about 1" square.

I'm so in love with this material and the way it captures the light, the internal inclusions and how beautifully it polishes. For me, it begs to be set simply without too much pomp and circumstance - just let it be it's 'center of attention' self. To be continued . . .

Friday, August 13, 2010

Copper Button Box Necklace . . .

I've gotta say, I'm learning a lot and having some fun with this idea for buttons and setting them in a unique and unexpected way.

This pendant is completely hand.fabricated from sheet copper and is approximately 1" tall and 3/4" wide and 1/4" deep. The two.hole shell button is a lovely match for the copper and has a copper rivet in the lower hold. It is held in its box, barely peeking out, by a single copper riveted post going completely through the box and button.

The sterling silver box chain has been oxidized to more closely match the dark iridescent button and is lightly brushed for a bit of shine. There are four copper rings interspersed randomly in the chain for a bit more copper interest throughout the necklace and it is finished with a hand.forged copper hook and loop.

I'm still trying to find a good way to retain the polish on the copper without coating it with anything that would wear off or chip like a clear laquer. It'll come to me.

I suppose being somewhat self.taught in metalwork has given me an appreciation for trial and error and lets me be a bit more fearless when it comes to experimentation. I don't ever expect to master this craft but hope I'm always handling a work in progress.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Preparing for winter holidays and shows . . .

Winter's a'comin'. Sure as shootin' it's gonna get here and Lord knows I've got to be ready so I'm doing my damnedest to stock up so i'm not scrambling at the last minute. Hard to imagine (well, not really) that all of this heat is going to be gone pretty soon and there will be Fall and Holiday Shows staring me in the face so spending these 100 degree days down in the cool of the studio is just what I need to get kick started.
I've been busy for the last few days working on several simple production pieces that I can distribute to the local galleries. I'm not much of a fan of repeating a design so when I put these together I try to make them different sizes and use different stones for accent. The trio of earrings is inspired by bug wings and helicopter maple seeds. I don't feel that they need any additional accent and I'm leaving them as they are in sweet silver.

The pair of dewdrop post earrings have a small blue chalcedony bead as an accent. Really pretty and I am still madly in love with the glow of chalcedony. The companion necklace is a simgle dewdrop with a sterling silver cap on the blue chalcedony accent bead.

One last piece from the bench is this amber colored agate wheel shaped bead, still with that warm chalcedony glow, that I riveted onto a stirrup and accented with a flower spacer. Super small, maybe 3/4" overall, and perfect for peeking out the top of a tee.

I'm all about unobtrusive jewelry. Nothing flashy, complicated. These pieces would never speak louder than you - sort of like your perfume. Think of my work as your lingering perfume - easy to wear and something you'd want to put on every day.

Back to the bench.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

From Lisa's Button Box . . .

From the button box, a sterling silver boxed button.

This has been swirling around in my head for some time now, ever since I asked Lisa 'Lil Fish Studios' to send me a handful of her buttons. I love the way it turned out and I'm dying to make more. Lord knows I have enough copper so here goes.

This is an open end sterling silver box that is just wide enough for the button to slip in. I marked the button holes and drilled them through both sides. I inserted the button and torched both ends of two pieces of wire to hold the button in place. The bail is square tubing.

Simple. Easy. Modern. Fresh. More to come.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What I'm lovin' about August . . .

A few favorite things right now.

Fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes have finally come in and they're luscious and abundant. (Last year was a crummy year for tomatoes. Far too cool - not enough hot days.) If only I could save these through winter when tomatoes come from Mexico and points south and are picked green to 'ripen' artificially with gas. yikes.

And sweet corn. O.M.G. Like candy. Neighbors are leaving big bags on their friends doorsteps, there is so much sweet corn coming in. Yep, like candy.

And my favorite summer salad : tomatoes, avocado, feta cheese, drizzled with olive oil. You can only make it when fresh tomatoes are in and it's over 'way too quickly. Tomato salad and sweet corn for supper - nothing better. Nothing.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday with Words . . .

I *think* this is an Anise Swallowtail. I was trimming the grass around my vegetable garden when this big fellow climbed up out of the crabgrass and panted at the top of a seed head. I couldn't shut off the trimmer and run inside for my camera fast enough and, while I wish I'd had more time with him to take better pictures, this one turned out okay.

He's obviously yellow and black but he has a little orange spot on each wing and the blue on the bottom wings was incredibly irridescent, as only a butterfly can be. Wingspan of about 4". My Googling found that he doesn't stray far from Western Nebraska and here we are in Eastern Nebraska so he must have hitched a ride to get this far. Or maybe he was resting up from his big trip. Whatever, I'm glad he stopped here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Yes, it's that hot

Ink the Cat has the right idea for relaxing and staying cool. These days, it's good to have indoor projects and venture outside as little as possible in the heat of the day. Weed-pulling, lawn-mowing and vegetable picking should be done early in the day or after sunset. Drink lots of iced tea. Read those new library books. Clean the workbench and get ready for Autumn. O.M.G. Did I say Autumn . . . . ?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dundee Gallery Omaha . . .

I am being featured this weekend at the Dundee Gallery in Omaha for their Artist is In summer event Saturdays and I've finished a boxload of new pieces. This should be a fun day at the Gallery and if you live in the vicinity of Omaha, come see me!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Amanda's ring . . .

Amanda loves Lapis Lazuli - her grandmother used to own and wear a lot of it and after her passing, the jewelry got distributed and Amanda has none of it. So she's asked me to make a few pieces for her to remind her of her granny.

I've had the stone for a while and just hadn't been inspired by a nice design. I could always set it simply and plain but I wanted to make something special and 'granny-like'. The last piece I made for her was a Lapis necklace with scalloped bezel and scalloped edges and a heart cut out on the back.

This needed to be sweet but not saccarine, granny but modern and I think I hit the right balance. The doubled ring shank gives this a curly, girly feel offsetting the cupped flowers on the other side and, of course, all metal. I really need to do more bezel-setting as this was challenging, took some planning and thought and was all day engrossing and enjoyable at once.

Love this. Hearts to Amanda.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Not exactly a Wordless Wednesday . . .

Mama Deer brought the younguns by for a midnight snack of every Route 66 Red and Buttered Popcorn Yellow daylily last night.

We need to talk or there's gonna be trouble.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kearney Art in the Park . . .

A marvelous weekend and a fantastic show in Kearney, Nebraska! Wow - who knew someplace smack in the middle of corn and soybeans could have such an active artist community? This one day event draws about 110 artists from all sorts of media and is so well juried that even those of us in the jewelry biz weren't competing, the work varied so widely.

I've been pleased with my set up, too, as it has evolved from stuff just laid out on the table to a more cohesive flow with old wooded advertising boxes displayed with silk runners in colors that accent the jewelry. Softer looks for the softer chalcedony colors I'm using in my work. It's working much better now.

Sales were up - people were buying. Weather was mid 80s. Wind was light. Live music was fantastic and not overpowering at all, as can sometimes happen at outdoor things. If all shows could be this good (or I could at least predict?), I'd be doing many, many more but I so much want to do this one again! Happy girl. Life is good.