What can I say? My Muse has a mind of her own.
While listening to NPR this week, I caught a segment of This American Life*. The piece was entitled “The Show Of Delights” and in the prologue, Ira Glass opens by saying,” In these dark, and confusing, and combative times, where in just one month-- and it's a month that doesn't feel that atypical-- we have impeachment hearings, and Australia on fire, and a near war with Iran, and a deadly virus spreading around the world. We thought here at our show, we would try the most radical counter-programming possible. So today, we bring you our show about delight.” He then passes narration to his co-worker Bim Adewunmi .
“ So there's this poet that I discovered a couple of years ago.” Adewunmi says. “He's called Ross Gay, and he's written a book where he basically keeps track of the things that delight him. And that's things, that's people, that's moments, whatever… the word he used was "negligence." He said it's a negligence if people don't take the time to honor the things that they take delight in, but more importantly, that they share the things that they take delight in. And if you don't do that, there's a loss there. You have to do it to achieve humanity. You have to share delight.”
NPR calls it a “Driveway Moment”. Oprah calls it an “Ah-ha!” Even the ancient Greeks had a word for it. Epiphany. Whatever it’s called, I had one.
Only three days earlier, I’d set up an Instagram account. I’d done it because one of my fellow wizards suggested that it was a “good platform for creative people to share what we do”. I still wasn’t sure how it applied to me…until I heard this NPR broadcast.
During my time on this planet, I must have taken over a gazillion photographs. This is because, each and every day, I see things, which ––to me––are beautiful
After hearing about the poet, Ross Gay, who, for an entire year, charted and wrote about the things that delighted him, I thought about all the images I’d taken that filed me with delight, yet seldom shared.
I thought I might build on Ross Gay’s work by introducing the concept of “delightenment”, which I define as “the sharing of images, thoughts, and experiences with the sole purpose of connection rather than disaffection”.
Hello Instagram! And if you like the idea of #seekingdelightenment" , come follow me!
* Take this link to enjoy This American Life’s “The Show of Delights” for yourself.
It's Fall again. Leaves are turning. Branches will soon be bare. Perfect time to revisit the Out On a Limb Series.
This broach was cast in sterling using the lost wax method. I soldered 3, 4 and 5 mm tube settings to the "twig" then set them with raspberry garnets and an amethyst. Then I fabricated and soldered the bezels before setting them with boulder opals.
Here I combined a Chinese writing rock set in sterling bezel with gold chain and lost wax cast sterling twig. The 20" necklace was made from freshwater pearls.
A lost wax cast acorn cap set with a Tahitian pearl topped with a 14k loop to accommodate any size chain.
Lost wax cast pendant with Australian boulder opal, synthetic emerald set in gold, with 14k gold accents.
Lost wax cast branch with drusy leaves, wrapped in sterling wire. Chain of fancy pearls on hand forged chain. Below: A matching bracelet extends the necklace.
Happy October! Thanks to Sue Knopp's magical enamels here's some eye candy to inspire your seasonal mood.
To make this bracelet: I used blueish pink boulder opals (from Tucson Gem show 2008) which perfectly (and magically) matched the sky, and vivid green turquoise. Coiled gold-fill wire suggested branches. Then stones and the enamel were set in textured sterling silver. Adjustable link chain with rock crystal drop.
This was the first bracelet in a series of four.
Pumpkin and Black Cat Cuff. Beneath a black cat's shadow, a pumpkin grins.
Inspired by the tree branch motif (it reminded me of Briar Rose held captive behind the hedge of thorns ) I wrapped each bezel with gold fill wire. Spoiler alert: the wire-wrap also allowed me to disguise some particularly ugly soldering––the result of too much metal and not enough heat. My wire wrap solution is what we artists call "a happy accident".
A caramel colored druzy (to compliment the pumpkin) and a faceted blue topaz balanced labradorite and green turquoise cabochons . The three sections were then hand crimped for texture and polished. A hand forged chain and hook makes this cuff adjustable.
Witch Star and Pumpkin Bracelet.
Blue drusy and enamel are separated by faceted Iolite, green tourmaline, and spessartite garnet accents. The Gold drusy, green turquoise, and blue mabe pearl were bezel set onto crimped and polished sterling silver. Sterling and gold fill chains were hand forged.
Witch Sun and Pumpkin Cuff:
Green turquoise and faceted blue topaz/boulder opal ammonite and Mexican opal/enamel of witch sun and pumpkin/blue drusy, gold coated drusy and pink tourmaline. Alll set in polished and crimped sterling silver. Joined with hand forged gold fill links and hook.
Was it really thirty years ago since my first Tucson gem show? Yikes! Time flies when you're making art!
Long ago and in a galaxy far away, I found an amazing specimen. Tourmaline within crystal. The vendor claimed it was a stalagmite. Or a stalactite. I don't remember. Up or down, can we ever be sure?
I saw living veins suspended beneath translucent skin.
Not long after, I gathered up twigs from my back yard and had them cast in sterling. I arranged and soldered them together because their delicate shape seemed to compliment the deep green tourmaline pulsing within the crystal. I added two more faceted tourmalines which I set in gold.
Something New: Here is the original pin, now repurposed and suspended from three strands of green freshwater and keshi pearls and brushed silver beads. 32" length which can be double wrapped to 16".The clasp was crafted from a scrap of reticulated silver that I've had in my storage bin for years. I fashioned it to resemble a leaf.
Inter; a prefix, “between,” “among,” “in the midst of,” “mutually,” “reciprocally,” “together."
Woven; to form by combining various elements into a connected whole.
"Meet Cori Martinez, owner of Asha Urban Baths and Asha Yoga in Sacramento. Cori is both gentle and wise. Cori is wife, mother, teacher, and gifted story teller. Shortly after we met, I learned that Cori also possessed an impish sense of humor––which identified her as someone I immediately wanted to cozy up to.
Cori's businesses are growing The bathhouse at 2417 27th Street is expanding and the yoga studio has moved to 2910 Franklin Blvd.
When Cori showed me her new yoga space, I couldn't help myself. "Wow, "I said, "Sure could use some art on them thar blank walls."
"What a great idea!" Cori said. So , I invited her for a Studio Play-Date.
We decided that fiber would be our medium of choice: it made us think of birds building nests and spiders crafting webs and safety nets and dreamcatchers. Then, like Penelope and Arachne, we went to work.
Weaving, knitting, knotting, we created our tapestries. We liked that the pieces seemed to flow, like waterfalls, over the two great pieces of driftwood I'd tucked away in a corner of my studio––for over ten years––waiting for just the right project to appear. And now...
I'd suggest that Cori add "artist" to her impressive list of accomplishments.
Awhile back, I blogged about Finding My Edge at Carmichael Yoga. Since then, the studio has expanded. It now offers classes in mat yoga, aerial yoga and aerial silks. (To learn more about this wonderful space, click here)
Recently, Cecilia Sandoval––Studio Manager Extrordinaire––offered me an opportunity I couldn't refuse.
"You know," she said, "Our students and teachers just love doing poses next to you paintings in the main studio. How would you feel about painting something for that big empty wall in the aerial room?"
All she asked was:
"Can it be big?"
"Can it reflect our logo colors?"
"Um ... sure, if you want to use gold leaf ..."
Talk about a no brainer!
I wish I could take credit for the name, but I can't. As I was slapping paint and gold leaf on top of these two 3x5' and 4x5' canvases and debating whether the Buddha's eyes should be open or closed, my Muse chimed in. She does that a lot.
"How 'bout making one eye open and one shut, sort of a yin/yang thing. And I've got the perfect name..."
Amanda Marsh and Christina Tung hanging out with Peek-a-Buddha.
Ever since I first saw the Wonderful Wizard of Oz at age four, I've coveted ruby red slippers.
Was it because footwear had the power to take a little girl wherever she needed to go or that they sparkled so bewitchingly? A longing for glitter and magic permanently hardwired my psyche.
When I was old enough to read the book for myself, I was shocked to learn that Dorothy's slippers were not red at all, but silver!
When MGM released the movie in 1939, Dorothy's silver slippers were scrapped for ruby red pumps in order to take advantage of the new Technicolor film process. (I never understood the bobby socks–– to glamor viewers into accepting a mature sixteen year-old Judy Garland as an eleven year old farm-girl, I suppose.)
Thus, film trivia taught me a valuable lesson on the importance placed on appearances––not to mention disregarding truth to favor a particular agenda.
But I digress.
For a long time now, I've wanted ruby sequined high top sneakers.
Some years back, I found them on e-bay. The online photo looked great but, the real thing was disappointing. Instead of sequins being integrated into the canvas (as the photo seemed to suggest) sparkly fabric had been hot-glued to a red shoe. The fabric fell off after the first wearing. But I saved the shoes...
And, one day when my Muse couldn't concoct something better for me to do, I got out my multi-colored rhinestones
And I pulled out my fabric paints ...
And I began the slow, tedious process ...
... I now appreciate why Judith Leiber's evening bags are so darned expensive.
They turned out magically, don't you think?
And, of course, I made a ruby red pair too!
April Fools! What you're seeing is actually a bowl of pearls on a hand forged chain. If you're curious to know how this breakfast of champions was created, read on.
To make 'Cheerios' I used 10, 12, and 16 gage gold fill wire. I wrapped the wire on a mandril to form a coil and placed the coil in a vice. Then I used my foredom (think dremel tool on steroids) equipped with a wafer thin aluminum oxide cut off-disc to slice the coil into rings. One can also use a jewelers saw to do this––which is what patient and precise artisans would use––but I'm not patient. Or precise. I like power tools!
You'll note, in this photo, broken bits of cut-off disc strewn about my work bench. One of the drawbacks of being neither patient nor precise.
I hope you enjoy a pleasant Sunday. No fooling.
My grandmother was born in an era where a woman’s physical beauty determined her value. Throughout her long life, Grandma remained secure in her worth. Even in her nineties, she was beautiful.
My grandmother adored pearls. She used to say that some women had skin so fine that they could restore the luster to pearls by wearing them against to their bodies. I always believed that Grandma was one such woman.
Her prized strand––she's wearing them in this photo, taken when she was 75––was 16 inches long on a silk cord. They were 14 millimeter cream-colored (with overtones of pink) semi-round South Sea pearls. She’d let me play with them when I was little but I wasn't allowed to wear them. Even on my wedding day, Grandma’s pearls were not for borrowing. When Grandmother died, at the age of ninety-eight––still with flawlessly translucent skin––the pearls passed to my mother.
Different generations embrace different values. While Grandmother relished her perch atop a pedestal, my mother preferred hiking or biking or reading a really good book. (Here's a photo of my mom––also at 75––in one of her favorite perches, somewhere along the John Muir trail.)
Shortly after Grandma’s passing, Mom gave the pearls to me. It made sense. Like my Grandmother, I love dressing-up and unlike my mother, I hate hiking and biking. I do enjoy a good book, however.
Also unlike Grandmother, I’m uneasy with attention, which is a problem if one is an artist. So much about making art is a willingness to be seen.
Do I hope that something more got passed down with those 14 mm luminescent orbs? If one believes that personal objects can absorb an owner’s essence, I would say yes.
I believe in alchemy. That’s what artists do. We transform, with heart and skill, a base material into something more.
With that in mind, I took Grandma’s pearls apart. I soldered up a bunch of gold jump rings. I found some watermelon tourmalines––because watermelon tourmaline is reputed to balance energies caused by conflict and confusion. Then, I assembled them all together again by crafting a handmade chain.
Here’s hoping that some of Grandma’s self-confidence is still inside those pearls.
Story by Karen Diepenbrock and illustrations by yours truly, this collaboration was so much fun! Karen and I met thanks to the amazing Rae Gouirand whose writing workshops and creative prompts inspire fabulous things.
Shared with permission of the author. Click the button to read Bruno's story.
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