Friday, November 23, 2012


I love Thanksgiving. I love having a break from work, time to spend with family, and time to reflect on the many things I am thankful for.

I am so grateful for my loving family, my amazing husband, and beautiful, imaginative and spirited daughter....for our safe and comfortable home...for dear friends near and far....for my job, great co-workers, and benefits...for the opportunity to run my own business that allows my creativity to flourish...for my good health...for a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner yesterday.

I am grateful that we are able to afford a safe home and that we can afford nutritious food, as much as we need, when so many do not have safe housing and enough to eat. I am grateful that my daughter is able to go to a school with loving, supportive teachers.

I am grateful to live on an earth that sustains us in so many ways, and that provides us with so much beauty. Take time out from this busy, commercial season, to breathe in the air outdoors, really look at the trees, the sky the clouds, the beautiful leaves.

Below, some images of fall, taken on a trip to Missouri in October.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Etsy Metal Blog Carnival: Why do you make jewelry?

This month's Etsy Metal team blog carnival is on the topic "Why do you make jewelry?"

Pendant purchased in Athens.
When I was younger, I always like to accessorize with interesting jewelry. As an art major at a liberal arts college, I was schooled in the traditional art making 2D and 3D techniques (painting/drawing/sculpture, etc.). At that point in time, I was mostly interested in drawing and painting. However, I was able to spend a semester abroad and purchased jewelry as souvenirs. After college, I traveled again, and did the same thing. In Athens, I bought a large silver and brass sun pendant from an artisan at a market (see image at left). That’s when I started thinking, "it would be so great if I could do this."

First piece of metal jewelry, a linked silver chain

Fast forward several years, and I started taking classes and loved metalsmithing. My first piece was a simple linked, hammered chain,
but I was so proud and excited when I finished it. Along the way I’ve learned enameling, granulation and stone setting, but mostly I am drawn to the simplicity of forming, shaping and forging silver and copper.

Here’s what I like about it:
  • It is small scale art that can be worn. It also doesn’t take much storage space, so people (including myself) can own a lot of it! When I was painting, it was a challenge to find space for everything I produced. Now I can fit a large number of pieces in just a shoebox!
  • I find it what you can do with metal interesting and challenging—for example, taking a rigid piece of sheet and forming it into a soft-looking flower. There are infinite ways to work metal, add color, texture it, etc.
  • Making art is meditative and calming and satisfies a deep creative need for me.
Read what other Etsy Metal team members have to say about this topic.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Etsy Metal Blog Carnival: Back to School

The topic for this month's Etsy Metal Blog Carnival is "Back to School" (you and/or your children).

My husband and I have a five year old daughter who started kindergarten last month. She is going to a Quaker school, and so far we are all loving it. Kate comes home telling me how much she loves school, and is excited about everything she's learning. This school is unique in a couple of ways. One is that they have mixed age classrooms, so they have 5-6 year old's together (kindergarten & first grade). There are two teachers, and they separate the grade levels for math and reading, but for most everything else, they are together. The kids stay in the room for two years. The other unique thing is that they integrate the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship into the curriculum. We figure if a Quaker education is good enough for presidents' daughters, it will be good for ours! The only downside to this school is the commute; it's about thirty minutes in traffic, but it's in the direction of my other job. We have to leave pretty early, which has been kind of a challenge for my husband and me, but not for our early-bird daughter.

When I'm not making jewelry, I have a part-time job in the dance department at Emory University. One of the great things about working at Emory is that I can take (audit) classes if I can fit them into my schedule. I've taken several dance classes since I started working there, all in modern dance. This semester they are offering Gyrokinesis movement training for the first time, so I've been trying that out. It's often referred to as yoga for dancers, and helps to mobilize the spine and strengthen the core. It feels so good if you sit most of the time, as I do. I do some yoga almost daily, but I really like Gyrokinesis because of the fluid movements, and the fact that you are moving pretty much all the time (no holding of poses). Here's a video on YouTube if you are curious what it looks like:

To see what other Etsy Metal team members have to say about this topic, follow the links below.

Evelyn Markasky
Kate Jones:
Abella Blue:
Mary Anne Karren Studio: http://silverpearlmetalworks.wordpress. ... to-school/

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Inspired by Alexander Calder

The Etsy Metal team that I'm a member of has monthly challenges to create a piece of jewelry around a theme. In July the theme was to make something inspired by Alexander Calder. I've always loved his mobiles, for which he is best known. He also painted, did stationary sculpture, and painted. So, here's what I created, inspiration photo first.

Untitled by Alexander Calder, 1930 (courtesy Calder Foundation)
Pendant inspired by the painting, sterling silver and copper (the piece with the copper swings freely)
International Mobile by Alexander Calder, 1948 (photo courtesy Calder Foundation)
Kinetic earrings inspired by Calder's mobiles. The pieces at the bottom rotate with the motion of the wearer.
Check out the Etsy Metal blog post about this challenge.

I've always enjoyed looking through art history books looking for jewelry inspiration, so this is not the first time I've created things inspired by modern art. Some of the others:
More earrings inspired by Calder
Earrings inspired by Joan Miró
Pendant inspired by Joan Miró

Earrings inspired by Henri Matisse

Monday, July 2, 2012

Etsy Metal Blog Carnival: What in the World are you Doing?

The topic for this month's Etsy Metal Blog Carnival is to talk about your current "goings on." I hope to get back to some posts about jewelry soon, but in the meantime, here's a little bit of my personal life.

First, our daughter graduated from pre-K at the end of May and will be headed to kindergarten this fall. I am so proud of her! Below is a picture of Kate, me, and my mom at her graduation.

Then we took a trip to St. Louis to visit family. We saw the Chinese Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden (always a great source of inspiration for me). Chinese artisans came from China and lived in tents at the garden for several months while they constructed these beautiful structures of steel and silk. They are lit at night, but we were there during the day. There were also two incredible, huge dragons made of blue and white plates, cups, and saucers (bottom of the four pictures below). While in St. Louis we visited the Magic House (children's museum) and ate plenty of Ted Drewe's frozen custard (my fave: raspberry with chocolate chips). Yum.

A couple of weeks later we flew to Pennsylvania to visit my husband's parents. We took Kate to Sesame Place (Sesame Street amusement park), and Tim met his childhood hero, Super Grover. Kate's favorite part was getting her face painted. We also visited the lovely Tyler Aboretum. And when it's hot out, what's better than a Slip 'n Slide?

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday on a 106 degree day with friends, sangria, homemade vanilla ice cream, and peach pie. I love summer food! On the jewelry side of things, I'm working on ideas for some new pieces, hopefully coming soon!

See what other Etsy Metal members have to say on this topic:
Evelyn Markasky -
Victoria Takahashi -
Gracebourne -
Beth Cyr -
Rebecca Bogan -
Erin Austin -
Danielle Miller -
Nodeform -

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fairy Houses

When I first visited the coast of Maine on vacation with my family about 12 or so years ago, we took a day trip to the beautiful Monhegan Island. Our hike took us through Cathedral Woods, where we discovered several little fairy houses, made with materials found on the forest floor. They were so charming and imaginative, and it was fun to look for them on our hike.

Fast forward to 2011, when we took our (then four-year-old) daughter Kate to Maine (her first time there). One of our first stops was the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, which has a wonderful children's garden, and an area for kids to build fairy houses. You are only supposed to use found materials, nothing artificial, and nothing picked off living trees or bushes. We had a great time making fairy houses, and when spring came around this year, we took to the nature trail in Stone Mountain Park near our house to create some there. Some neighborhood friends from South Korea (with a daughter about Kate's age) came with us one day and we introduced them to fairy houses. Both little girls, even though they spoke two different languages, communicated through the language of a shared task (and a love of Tinkerbell).

Kate working on her house.
Kate's finished house, with a path to the front door.
Home under construction by our Korean friends.
This is the house I constructed, an A-frame.
This is part of a beautiful stream in the park that seemed enchanted this spring with multitudes of mountain laurel in bloom.
In the stream we made fairy boats (bark with a leaf sail) and let the gentle current carry them.
This is such a great activity for kids--and adults! We have a really nice story book by Tracy Kane and a DVD about a little girl in Maine who creates fairy houses (goes nicely with the story book). See:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Inspiration from an Old Sketchbook

After I graduated college, I went to New York for the summer to intern at the Museum of Modern Art (a great experience), then in the fall traveled to Venice for a three month internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (incredible experience). This was such an amazing time in my life, full of art and exploration. I kept a sketchbook while in Venice, and tended to focus on small decorative areas of larger medieval and renaissance artworks. After Venice, my friend Heather and I traveled to some other places in Italy, then on to Greece. Then she returned to Italy and I went on to Turkey, back to Italy, then Spain (by way of Nice), and finally, Switzerland. Even though I had never made a piece of jewelry at that point, it was on my mind a lot during these three months of travel. In fact, most of my souvenirs were pieces of jewelry made by local artists. I knew I wanted to make jewelry someday, so my sketchbook included interesting pieces of jewelry and other art that I saw along the way..

Recently I pulled out this sketchbook hoping for some inspiration for a new piece of jewelry. I found a drawing of a floral decoration from the Accademia Museum in Venice. I didn't note what it was, but I think it was probably a decorative element on an altarpiece frame. Here's the sketchbook page, and the flower I wanted to use is in the lower left.

And here are the resulting pieces of jewelry:
A 1" wide flower pendant (I also made a smaller one that is 3/4" wide.)

Matching earrings with pale pink pearls
The jewelry above is available in the "Flowers" section of my Etsy shop:

Who knows? Maybe some other new pieces will come from old sketches. Meanwhile, just for kicks, here are some other drawings from that sketchbook.
Sketches from the Archeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete (Greece)

These sketches are from the Byzantine Museum in Athens (Greece). I actually made a pendant many years ago, inspired by the drawing in the upper left (see below).

Now for some non-jewelry decorative sketches...

From Durer's "Jesus Among the Doctors," Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

A work by Goya in the Prado Museum, Madrid

Not sure what this was from, but it was a work in the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

My beautiful Venice

Monday, April 2, 2012

Nobody's Perfect

Last month I was invited to join a great group of metalsmiths who all sell on Etsy--the EtsyMetal team. Once a month they have a blog carnival where several group members all blog on the same topic. This month's topic is "Nobody's Perfect," blogging about pieces that didn't happen as planned, or some variation on that theme.

I feel like I have too much experience in this area! What you see in my Etsy shop or on my website are the pieces that did turn out right. The ones that didn't have either been recycled, relegated to scrap, are in my personal jewelry box, or sitting in my studio half-finished (and there have been many of them).

Things usually don't turn out either because of faulty design, or for one of the following reasons.

1) Gravity, or not thinking about the laws of physics. I like asymmetrical things, but asymmetry still has to be balanced so that things don't hang at odd angles--this has happened to me several times. It can be a challenge to figure out what will work during the design and construction phase of a jewelry piece. It is often hard to test  the gravitational pull on an object until is is done. I wish I had some images to show you, but these pieces have all been recycled or put into the scrap pile!

2) Forgetting about mirror images. Earrings, to look right, need to be mirror images of each other if they have an asymmetrical design. Assuming they are hanging right (see #1 above), I also need to make sure they don't look exactly the same (see below for what I'm talking about). The flower on one of these earrings should be leaning on the opposite side of the frame.

3) Never finishing. I have several projects that didn't turn out the way I intended because they've never turned out! I occasionally start a project and then get frustrated halfway through and never finish the piece. Or I get nervous I'll mess it up so I don't finish it. Or I feel that the design is not right, and start over with something new. Below is a granulated silver bead that is tarnished because it's been sitting around for about 10 years. The problem? I'm afraid to drill a hole in it so I can actually use it! Below that are some Egyptian inspired cloisonne components I made while learning enameling. I would love to put them into a pendant along with the star sapphire pictured with them, but I messed up on the pendant design (melted a bezel when I was almost done) and was so mad that I never got back to it. That was probably about 10 years ago too! One of these days I will, because  I really love them, and they'll make a dramatic necklace. Maybe I'll hang it on one of the fine silver chains I started to weave and never finished!

Part of being an artist is trial and error. You will always have some things that work better than others. It's all part of the process of learning and growing!

See what other EtsyMetal team members have to say about this topic:
Inbar Baraket:
Beth Cyr:
Wildflower Designs:
Michele Grady Designs:
TK Metal Arts:
Evelyn Markasky:

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Blooms in My Yard and Studio

What was blooming in my yard last week. It's amazing to have so much inspiration right outside the window.

Cherry Blossoms

Wisteria (invasive but beautiful)

Dogwood Tree

Inspired by the Cherry Blossoms:
Cherry Blossom Pendant

Cherry Blossom Earrings

Cherry Tree Pendant
And inspired by the spring in general:
Circular Flower Pendant