Friday, August 28, 2009

Hunting for Tiny Treasures

I am drawn to old things. Overlooked scraps of history that still have stories to tell. Forever perusing flea markets, antique stores and estate sales for something small-but meaningful that I can incorporate into a new wearable design.

It seems I'm always hunting for old:
• yellowing pages;
• love letters;
• post cards with handwritten sentiments;
• skeleton keys;
• rusty nuts and bolts
• poetry books
• maps
• pieces of metal
• scraps of ribbon

A recent find of mine was a fragile book of poetry by William Clemens Brightrall, published in 1925. The pages were yellowing and the text was a good size. Perfect, I thought, for the project I was working on. A new series of earrings featuring tiny words set in a bezel and filled with clear resin. New pieces with a nod to to the past.

But as I went through the book cutting words from their intended meanings, I came across a poem that made me stop. I read it. I reread it. 14 powerful lines. I wrote them down. I committed it to memory.

But in the process of my work, I had cut apart some of the words of this poem. I now had to search for another copy of this book that was undisturbed. Searching all over the internet I continued to come up empty handed. It was out of print and unavailable. After several weeks, someone responded to a post I had left. They had the book I was looking for! When it arrived in the mail, I was delighted to find that it had a faint hand written inscription from the author, "May you find a line to make you smile and a thought to linger for awhile. Sincerely Wm. Clemens Brightrall... 1966".

My Yesterdays...  by Wm. Clemens Brightrall
If I could gather my Yesterdays,
I'd sort them one by one;
I'd take the dark and gloomy days
And lay them in the sun.
And they would be the better made,
By being shone upon.
Then I'd take my shiny days,
The days that knew a smile,
And heap them with the other days,
To rear a radiant pile.
For they would cleanse the darker days
Of all their hurts and sorrows,
Then I would live them o'er again,
In all of my tomorrows.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Random Fun Paintings

I've always had a love for great trompe l'oeil
Whenever I come across any spectacular or funny ones- I always snap a shot. Here are some very life like chickens that were in a hotel sitting area in Napa Valley. Click on any of the picts for a close-up view.

This was an umbrella painted on a back door of a parade of homes tour in Madison, WI.  Very realistic. Bet they never forget to bring one!

And this last one.... okay so it's not a painting. But sure was a take-a-second-look, life-like dog. It had a real leash and all.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lake Geneva's Refined Rustic Studio and Gallery .... Oh what a store!

My husband and I were in Lake Geneva, Wi this past weekend when I discovered a store that made my heart flitter with excitement! Upon walking in, I stood and marveled at all the reclaimed, refinished and tweeked assortment of tables, artwork and lighting fixtures. It was an edgy-funky combination of industrial chic meets roadside antique.

I was pleased to meet owner and artist, Philip Sassano, who creates most of the items. He has an excellent eye for design and the repurposing of old into new. There were baseballs and buggy wheels turned into wall art; drawer faces that became card holders; a phonograph made into a pendant light; wine barrel lids that held wine bottles; old metal baskets turned lighting fixture, it just went on and on.

I love this type of art. I've dabbled in my own versions and can appreciate the cleverness that goes into all of his pieces. Be sure to stop in either location: downtown Chicago at 3924 N. Milwaukee Ave., or the new Lake Geneva Gallery at 231 Cook Street. Be sure to send me a picture to post of your purchases!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Artist Studio in the Making

Well, it's been a long process.... when I first started making jewelry, I carved out a little niche for myself in a corner of our mud room. It wasn't your typical mud room- there was a desktop in place and storage cabinets. And when I needed to do a mailing or some production work....well that's when I took over the kitchen table, dining room and occasionally the den. With not a lot of other options, I made do with what I had. In fact, during this time, HGTV's "That's Clever" show came calling. I was featured on an episode where I demonstrated how to make a Vintage Tin Charm Bracelet using old tobacco tins as the charms. My studio space was so cramped that only myself and the camera man could fit. The producer and lighting guy stood patiently in the hallway (take after take) geez! TV work is exhausting. So the episode eventually aired and everyone got a good laugh. "That's Clever" is by no means a serious educational show, but fun none the less. Though I will be happy when I'm no longer asked to say, "It's Hammer Time!". The producer had asked me to say this and ham it up to the camera. I obliged. Enough said.
Here's a link to the show's pictures (thank god there is no video):
The good news is.... last year my studio space expanded! Or at least it was consolidated. I moved into the large space over the garage. (My parents fondly reminisce of the times when it was their guest room) But the value of real estate being what it is.... I had to take it over and send them to a hotel during their yearly visit. Well it was either that or put a mattress in the mud room.
Well the space is fantastic.
It's bright.
It's pretty.
It has a door!

I painted the walls parrot green and hired a local handyman (got to love that Craig's List!) to design and build a 5' x 5' worktable for me. It's perfect with all it's drawers, shelves, cabinets and electrical outlets.

I also found a new home for all the antique drawers, boxes and do-dads that I'd been collecting over the years. They now earn their keep by helping me organize all my tools, beads, papers and finished jewelry designs. Here are some pictures of my desk area, photography set-up, bead organization and wall storage.
If you have any photos or tips about your "creative space", I would love to hear from you! Please post your comments below.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A favorite destination: Valley Ridge Art Studio....sssh!

I've been keeping Valley Ridge Art Studio a secret for a few years now.... it's been my little private, slice of heaven. I mean really- if word gets out- I may not be able to attend all the classes on my list! But I'm in a generous mood today so it's time to "pay it forward". Here's to all you creative souls who could use a little artistic recharge.

Owners, Kathy and Bill, created this wonderful studio ten years ago in Muscoda, Wi (just west of Madison). A creative getaway of sorts for anyone aspiring to delve into book arts, mixed media, collage, jewelry, metals, papercraft, etc. And really, it is for anyone! Even if you've never picked up a paint brush or jewelers saw - you will be welcomed with open arms here. Just ask my friend Kristi who bravely accompanied me to VR this spring. What a sport. She has never made a piece of jewelry to save her life.... but here she was making the coolest book-lace I'd ever seen! And talk about instructors... only the best come to VR. I'm talking world-class instructors who are the best in their fields! I know there are a lot of artist workshops out there.... but nothing offers quite what VR does. From small class sizes and peaceful surroundings to exceptional one-on-one interaction with the instructors, it's an experience you won't soon forget. Be sure to tell them I sent you!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Darma Came to Town!

Talk about house calls... my african bead guy, Darma, called me yesterday to let me know that he and his "van full of really old, way cool, can't find anywhere else african beads" were going to be passing through town and wondered if I needed anything. Well "Yes I do"! When the bead man calls- you answer! God forbid he crossed me off his list for inactivity! I couldn't risk the thought of it. So a few hours later, Darma pulls in and I perch myself onto a stool in my front yard. He proceeds to pull out box after box of his incredible inventory. My eyes were ablaze! Lots of Darma's little goodies call my studio home now.... I can hardly wait to sort, sketch & begin designing with these beautiful holed items.

Katcando is up and running on!

After being a frequent purchaser on, I thought it was time for me to actually add my own store front (along with the thousands and thousands of other jewelry artists) to the artist's haven "Etsy".

What could be easier I thought.... and so far, I was right! Set up was a breeze! I'm somewhat computer literate. I can take decent product shots and writing copy comes pretty naturally. So layout is done. Now I just need to let everyone know I'm open for business- right? So, how does one do that? Well, for starters- I sent out a mass e-mail to my somewhat current contact list of customers. I started this way-cool blog thing. And, I'm running an ad "of sort" on Etsy's search engine for jewelry. After that.... I'm not sure yet. But here is where you'll find my stuff: