This is what I have been so excited over: in the course of the next few weeks I will be revealing a new line of leather bags and keychains and necklaces and pins in this:
I am so excited. It is such hard work and requires many many woman hours, so the bag I am working on ( a clutch that is fully covered in fully-tooled and meticulously painted print ) will be mondo expensivo. Knowing these times we live in are different for many economically I am making small things, too so that everyone can enjoy the luxe-ness of it all.
I hope to get the clutch and a few other things listed later this afternoon in the Leather Shop.
In stone news, this is the most beautiful thing I have ever beheld that came from the earth besides mountains and oceans:
It is a drusy from AZ and I suspect the blue comes from blue chalcite. It is HUGE and so valuable that I don't even know if I can sell it in a piece of jewelry. The weight is also incredible: I opened the box it came in and sat transfixed. What treasures the earth holds!
Love is a fierce and inexplicable force of nature that shapes our lives like wind and water. My friend Jillian wrote an amazing and moving post about it recently that your eyes would benefit to behold!
Sometimes our creative lives can take on the role of lover. Most often my relationship with my leathercraft is respectful and divine, full of gorgeous inspiration and tender moments.
Sometimes, though... hm.
These last few weeks have been.... interesting. We had no interest in each other, my chosen craft and I. I flirted and dabbled in other things: metalsmithing and painting were the objects of my passionate focus.
My patterns and leather sat by in the same room, seemingly unaffected by the lack of attention, growing no less beautiful without my eyes to behold them.
As the days passed I became fearful and slightly angry: this has been my life for two years: fallow periods of days were the most I'd ever been away from tooling, mostly due to travel and social engagements. This fallow period began in late December and it was now January 25th - where was my muse?
Where was my love? I remembered Julia Cameron writing about this in The Artist's Way, her groundbreaking book on creative nurture. Reading her words again I felt lifted: Oh! This happens to everybody.
This was not to be treated as an outbreak of Rubella or a case of food poisoning - there was nothing to figure out: just like any love, this one had cooled as love can when left untended. With people obviously it's HARD at times - but you always have a listening ear. You and your partner get to discuss the ins and outs of love together in concert.
You and your art are strange bedfellows, unable to communicate in anything other than the most subtle energies of sort: the "Aha!" in the shower or the slow solo smile of realization. There is no "I feel".... no blaming and no reconciliation.
How odd!! All the trappings of a love affair and all the problems that follow suit, but a much more one-sided communication.
I'd like to think that my hides missed me... that somehow inaudible as it was, my little hand-drawn koi pattern wept as I did at our strange absence. Perhaps my marble block felt a slight resentment at the dishes and ceramic squares it bore as I smithed upon it, thinking, "This isn't what I am here for!" In reality, I'll never know -
But I do know this:
Today I tooled again. It felt AWESOME - like waking up from a really perfect amount of sleep into a day you know holds some amazing things.
I am shy about it a little, but I know the reasons why I fell under a grey cloud and I will take a little more tender approach to my creativity.
There will be silversmithing.
There will be leathercrafting.
There will be time made for play and social ease.
Most of all, there will be a healthy love between all three no matter what we experience - of that I can be certain, if for no other reason than today's timid first dance with an old flame.
Sunday I had a moment, after having been on edge since Friday ( earthquakes really make a mark on me: it's a reminder that we're so very mortal, which is good in so many ways and terrifying in others. They're like little dress rehearsals for complete chaos and maybe even death ) where Anthony looked at me from across the room and said, "Let's get out of here some day this week." Amen! Yesterday we took our poor spent minds and healthy bodies into the desert to Quartzite, AZ. This is what was there: The Annual International Gem and Mineral Show!!! I came home with some of the most gorgeous and gentle stones: Variscite, Turquoise, Blue Chalcite, Prehnite, Mookaite, Rough Fire Opal, Sonora Sunrise and Pink Opal.
My favorite? Honduran opal, which is a rainbow of flickering fire and huge to boot! This picture is 1/100th of its grandeur. Thousands of little fires in rainbow colors burn brightly over the whole stone. Unreal!
In the car on the drive home I got an idea that is my exit from burnout using leather: a line of beauties that I will be making in the next week - omigosh leather.
Retro. Elegant and a little bubblegum-snappy. Oh MY!!!!
It's back to the studio for me, custom orders abound and I did a bit of rearranging: I took the keyboard out into the sunny living room and put in a second chair so that the half of the room that isn't equipment has a look of rest about it. That makes me feel more inclined to be there even more than I wished to be! Jones was destroying the right corner of that chair, digging his claws into the original maroon velvet with intent to un-stuff it, so the new arrangement doubles as historic preservation! A beautiful, productive day to you all, my dearest friends.
Since so much of my thought revolves around leather ( even in this period of letting that field lay a bit more fallow! ) I decided that in the painting my thought bubbles will be the very images that find their way onto so many of my pieces.
This makes the painting mixed media, which is surprising as I expected it would be paint only. I love when the unexpected makes its way unguided into the mind.
Today is Anthony's birthday and to celebrate we are going to a new and exciting south-of-the-border restaurant in Culver City called Gloria's - it's only new and exciting to us as it is quite the long-standing neighborhood staple.
33 years ago he arrived on this earth and I could not be more grateful for my Schmilly!!
May you all have a joyful and wonder-filled weekend, friends!
I was driving today to Venice Beach to pick up a check from an art show I did: it is overcast and cozy here in Los Angeles today ( see snuggly duo for reference ):
So there I sat in traffic getting more and more annoyed in response to my environment as I waited and I had a moment of such crystal clarity - I want to share these realizations with you in case any of you may echo something similar in your experiences.
I had a wonderful chance given to me this week ( musically ) and after doing the hard work of amassing a wonderful, professional package to ship to someone very important I felt blessed and also responsible: this 'crest' of emotion - this JOY in all caps had to be tempered with an even and grounded center:
I used to get so high and so low in my early twenties when opportunities came and went. Everyday life was a rollercoaster of epic scope and it exhausted me and depressed my ability to live with balance.
The chance in front of me created a high this week, and I wanted to see where it took me by observing the emotions instead of investing in it as I used to.
What I saw more than anything was how deeply I resist letting joy simply BE in my body: how firmly I attach myself to finding the logical 'downers' in life. For example, there I sat today under a cloudy sky ( my favorite kind ) listening to a CD I love on a street that I know and my default setting was to find the things NOT to like.
I stopped. I remembered what really matters and I found myself breathing with relief the way we all do when we let go of our resistance.
In these next few weeks while I wait for reverberations from this beautiful reminder of musicianship I will keep a vigilant heart. I will witness my resistance and remember that good things need space to come into our lives.
If we are concentrating on what is wrong, will we miss the subtle breeze from somewhere delicious leading us towards a better path. Instead of tipping our nose and turning into the mystery we will hear that heaven was near from someone else and voila: one more thing to get grumpy over. Something else we missed.
I for one am going to try to create more room for miracles by letting go of my resistance one short drive at a time.
This is one of the most tender things I have ever made, and it fills my heart with the deepest love. It is a Botswana Agate that is shaped like a bird with a little bird inside of it. It is delicate and amazing. It is dedicated to my father who has long called me songbird, and on the back is written ( or stamped ) the words "Sing Your Song from Your Heart". It is so full of goodness and love for someone who loves me. All that love encased in silver and stone. It will be in the metal shop this afternoon.
Observe: the purple hairband. Jones has been obsessed with these things for the past year and a half. I think all ten of the ones he has played with this year are under pieces of furniture. He will try to take them out of our guest's hair if one is wearing a ponytail. He stares at them Pounces on them from across the room Janey steals it from him He Lurks Gets it Back Drops it in his food dish for safe keeping, mindful never to nibble on it The process repeats Until it is batted into a closet Or under a dish hutch I buy them in packs of ten or twenty knowing that for every two I use in my hair Jones will need one, too. This particular hairband is brand new. He is looking at it with these slightly narrowed eyes. He is completely obsessed and will think of nothing else today: trust me. This is Jones observing the 'toy'. Alert. Intense. Fetching it from my open hand. As I write this he and Jane are tearing around the house, losing and finding this glorious thing. In one week it will be a tattered shadow of its former self, forgotten and seldom played with.
This week I am working on custom orders and the big purse of bees and flowers. I experienced a very acute feeling of burnout with leather in particular after the new year, which is why you've been seeing so much silver. The pendulum swings.
Now after a few weeks of metallic love I find myself yearning to imprint designs on leather. I like the swinging from one aim to another - it means I will never be bored.
Be well, all - this is a happy and historic day filled with joy for so very many people :)
The Agua Nueva in the picture looks like a nebula: I am excited that it is obscured so you can see it in its full glory, set into the piece ( with handmade chain, even! ) tomorrow. The chain was based on a request from a customer, but this isn't a custom order - I was so inspired to try and make my own giant chunky chain!
Metalsmithing appeals to the child inside of me who stared at the night sky with an unbearably big love in her heart.
I had no idea what to do with the overwhelming sight of constellations and shooting stars but to allow the warmth in my chest to grow and grow.
When I first started silversmithing I wanted to put tons of silver balls on everything and then I wanted to put stars on everything. Lately I have discovered the joy of 14k gold: making orbs by melting the metal and then hammering the resulting piece flat as a coin. I cannot stop using them in everything!
So I won't.
Tomorrow I am listing a ring that is the culmination of all my night sky love. There are orbs and a shooting star and a boulder opal with a flash of the red fire people pay a lot of money to see.
More than anything else there is love in this ring and a strong sense of a very important arrival:
I now know I can make what I choose.
I can have an idea in mind and make it real. Past the fears, past the limitations of flux ( a real problem for the first six months of making things ) and into a bold new open space. I crave the melting and I can now anticipate when technical things will happen and loosen my breath as I work.
Tomorrow I will share an immensely joyful creation.
Two new things in the Metal Shop: a custom order Little World ring and a gorgeous little larimar pendant. This stone is from the Dominican Republic, and the blue is the result of cobalt in the formation of the stone. It is filled with tiny crazings ( cracks ) which are actually a part of the stone. It is gorgeous and wee and in the shop today!
Remember that slab of King Cobra Jasper I showed you in December? Well, it yielded five stones for me: I left the rest for Ed to have and enjoy - the triangular stone with the lilypads of orange is going to be mine, but everything else will be made into something shiny and gorgeous.
Thank you Ed. You are an amazing lapidary artist.
Some other stones arrived, the last of my cabochon purchases for the entire year - I have amassed quite a collection and am enjoying the combinations of color. I do a lot of simply sitting still and staring at my cabs.
Here are a few more heirloom Agua Nueva:
Some Fairfield and TeePee Agate:
Oh, the gorgeousness in my house today... It's like Christmas again.
My advice? Huey Lewis and The News. Greatest Hits. I am actually wringing major smiles out of a rather blue day, but mostly because Mr. Lewis is coaxing them out with his stellar arrangement and insanely amazing melodies/hooks and that VOICE!
Take two uptempo songs and call me in the morning.
If this is an emergency, play "Happy to be Stuck With You" on repeat or listen carefully for the prodigious cowbell on "Heart and Soul". Cowbell heals many ailments.
This bracelet, if cared for properly ( caring well for leather means keeping it dry, keeping it out of prolonger direct sunlight, oiling it once a year with a soft cloth - or - depending on how it is painted, one might opt for a spray of protective lacquer, which can be found at Tandy Leather Supply so the paint isn't disturbed ) can last generations.
The tooling is old as the hills, and the tree can grow waaaay into the future.
I am a wife and proud mama, a leathercrafter, silversmith and singer/songwriter living in the Bay Area with my wonderful little family in a century-old cottage.
Here you'll find my honest and sometimes profane thoughts on motherhood, love and work.