Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Let's Celebrate!!!!

Three years ago on January 29th, Sunny Rising was born. Originally I thought it would simply be a leather endeavor, but about 2 years ago I added silversmithing to the mix and thus a whole new thread of adventure began!

To celebrate the third year of being my own (sometimes unbearably stern) boss, I wanted to have a contest and offer you this as a prize as you've long traveled the road with me:

a $65.00 gift certificate to either shop, your choice upon winning!!


All you need to do is leave a comment here: you get your name entered twice if you are following my blog (just let me know you follow in your comment).

I'll be on the road until the 7th of February, so keep those comments rolling and I'll draw a name when I get home

I cannot wait to be on that desert highway watching the landscape change.... Tucson, here I come!

Monday, January 25, 2010

For Out of Death Comes Life

In this complicated life on earth we experience loss over and over again, from the grocery run that yielded none of your favorite jelly, to the indelible ache of death.

We lose keys, we lose lovers and we misplace our dignity now and again, but if we're lucky enough to have pluck and support we move through our grief and into a wiser, larger soul.

We shed our outmoded selves. 
We welcome in strangers who become friends. 
We learn the hard-to-explain lesson of wisdom with each heartbeat that carries us past caverns that losing has carved into our heart.

There is no life without death, and there truly is no death without a life.
In the spirit of winter, grief and rebirth I built this clutch from scratch, each rivet hand-set, each stitch hand-pulled.

Immortalized in leather is the Wright's Beach bird skull that in real life is a silent blessing on the third shelf of my studio hutch.

On the back is the skull's shape, reversed and inlaid with a panel of leather featuring an explosion of ripe roses.

On the inside, held firm and steady by nearly 100 rivets is a vintage cloth with the warmest touch, edges hand-frayed to create an inviting softness.

The bag closure is a buckled soft leather pull.

It measures 10X5 and can be filled with all the essentials of a night out or a day with friends.

This is most assuredly one of a kind, not to be replicated, but to be cherished by someone who understands what beauty can come from something that hurts.

In the Leather Shop soon.

Moss Feet

For Lisa :)

Incredible Feather Sale!!!

In the Leather Shop: 

20% off the clutch
50% off the original price of this stunning necklace!


Saturday, January 23, 2010

34 Year Ago Today...

...The Answer to all of my Questions was born.
Happy birthday to Anthony Schmill, co-founder of our incredible marriage and king of my heart.

We're off to have a wonderful day of Museums and Sushi and San Francisco adventure!!!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Bit of Heaven, a Bit of Earth

In the Metal Shop this afternoon!!!

The Great Beyond

I have been a working artist for three years in March: March 31st, to be exact.
That was my last day as a receptionist in Los Angeles.

These three years have been the most incredible, challenging, gratifying, lovely and short years of my whole adult life. Working for yourself pushes every boundary you try to construct, undoes your most concrete plans and sometimes leaves you breathless, without a rock to stand on.

This is exciting; this is life at its least predictable and most raw. I would imagine having a baby or being a field journalist in a war-torn country would be much more intense, but for now, for me, this is the knife edge I choose to balance upon.

Having my work copied has been such a remarkable, infinitely valuable gift - the feeling of safety I had from creating what I found to be completely original pieces was a lullaby I wore like armor... a myth, really: there is no safety in creation.

This realization has made for dark moments, has sent me down rivers of icy fear and left my tooling bench empty for the better part of a month, save custom orders and feeble attempts at 'pushing through', which any artist knows is a fallacy:
you are either filled or empty: very seldom is there a half-way point, and when you incorporate muscling into your creations it has a tendency to crush the very delicate thing you most want to set free:

This brings me to the point of sharing: I have found inspiration in this season of death, meaning I have embraced my winter, held the sense of cold and still that change brings.
My biggest inspiration over the last few weeks has been the bird skull found on Wright's Beach:

I am tooling something using its image.

It is on a canvas that may be finished.

In my dream last night, Anthony told me what kind of bird it was: I woke up without the knowledge, but I remember it was a bird I really loved and Dream Allison was very, very happy to learn its identity.

After three years of tooling things that are alive and vibrant, I am reaching down deep to retrieve a pearl buried in a piece of something once living, now gone.

This is a very new place, a thrilling new adventure.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Two Week Rainstorm

It is very dim inside of my little house - observe the rich, noon-time sun:

We've had nary a drop of the good golden light stuff going on one week now, and they say another big rainstorm is coming through this afternoon to provide another week's worth of rain - What?

Well, we MADE some sunshine last night:

Homemade chicken soup with handmade noodles, a recipe from the Schmill Family cookbook. It was wonderful being with my husband in the kitchen, laughing and cooking and hugging
and stealing kisses.

Rain on, Sonoma County sky: I've got my love and my soup to keep me warm!!


Sunday, January 17, 2010


New Techniques
Marrying Leather and Silver to make a Compass for the Spirit

Opals.... fiery, lovely sunshine-y opals
from Mexico with love.

On the left: a melted sterling backplate
Delicately sawed flowers
A really big orange fire opal
a super-luxe chain

On the right:
Compass - on the back, the word 'guided'
given to me in the morning yesterday, a gift of inspiration
Mexican fire opal
sterling polished to a low shine 




Friday, January 15, 2010


With the power of a jeweler's saw, a piece of jewelry becomes a lovely play of light, metal and negative space.

I rarely post pictures of pieces that are not done yet, but these looked so delicious together that I could not resist. 

They have a bit of clean-up left, but they will all be in the shop on Monday, along with some custom pieces I've nearly finished!

On the left:

Agua Nueva and Mexican Jelly Opal, size 10.5


Mexican Jelly Opal in mid-century architecture, size 6.75


Chevron. Amethyst, size 7.5 !!!

I recently acquired a parcel of Mexican Jelly Opals with very little fire, but oh my goodness, the luminous-ness... a new word for stunning eye candy ;)

Have a spectacular weekend - tonight I am noticing that the evening light is lasting a little bit longer.....
Hello, Spring?
Ah, well.... come back soon.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Saving Grace

I am working.

There are custom orders I am completing and a bevy of rings and necklaces I am currently in the middle of making, but mostly I am working at something different in my life right now.

I am toiling in the field of my spirit, working at strengthening my sails.
Painting - and soon I will be incorporating gold leaf into my latest canvas, based on the bird skull I found at the beach - GOLD LEAF!!!!

I am studying failure, opening doors that I can only reach through rough passages of emotion and thought.
I am mining my resources for the great strengths I know are in there, somewhere, feeling underused and undervalued.

This body and mind are working through ideas that are new to me:
incorporating death into my work
Getting outside the box I've made into a new place whose atmosphere I am still adjusting to.

I have a feeling that February will be an explosion of design and inspiration after I meet Jillian for some Stone Shopping and much needed girly-sleepover time at the Tucson Gem and Mineral show.
I will pass through Los Angeles and see my friends
Drive through Redlands and stay the night with my peoples...
Rinse and repeat.

For now, though, January is something different: a grand pause, a re-wiring of something kind of broken...
I wish there were better words
but for now it is just this moment, this place and a studio that is calling out to be used.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chakra Suite

Today in the Metal Shop: 

-4 Chakra Necklaces-

Solar Plexus

Each necklace has the individual chakra's (energetic center)
sound printed on the back, which can be used in meditation and chanting.

The trinkets are meant to be light and airy, each with their own shapes and textures

Root: Sound - LAM.... stone: Garnet with host rock
Solar Plexus: Sound - RAM... stone: Mexican Opal
Heart: Sound - YAM... stone: Beach glass
Crown: Sound - AH... Stone: Impeccable Boulder Opal with tremendous fire!

These four will be in the Metal Shop later today.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Portuguese Beach/ The Bodega Dunes

Oh, the Pacific.
One of the Seven Sisters who always manages to pull out what hurts and clean the wound with a clarifying hand.

I came to the sea confused, waiting for an answer that will affect our future deeply and I came away allowing the question to live in my life with grace.
It won't be long now.

We were with Anthony's family; my family now, too....

I told Anthony how nice it must be for him to have a wife that continues the family tradition of digging for things in the sand and in the dirt:
 my Mama 2 (Bonnie) sits right down in a trove of beach rocks and hunts for beauty, just like me!

And oh my OH what incredible treasures we found.... sand dollar, bird cranium, driftwood, agate...

Beach glass, shell fragment, jade, worry stones....

Laughter, SkipBo, hobo hamburgers, freezing cold shower badges, racoons in the garbage cans, coffee with condensed milk, heart-to-hearts, starting a campfire, PJs all morning, stories from when it all began.....

Patience, insight, a heart full of love and family.

The best gifts you cannot ever see with the eye: they are in the ether, a tale waiting to be shared again, a memory floating above the more difficult day-to-day,
whispering words like 'hold on' and 'soon'.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Happiness is a Warm Torch

Today I was able to finish two projects that have been keeping my heart light and my hands warm for the past three days:
This piece above is entitled "Portrait of a Fox" because, well, do you see it there?

It is a gorgeous piece of Agua Nueva Agate and I framed it in twisted sterling as one might frame a portrait painted by a human hand.

This ring is a size 7.25 and will be in the shop later with this looker:


This is a Big Bang ring using the second-to-last eclipse stone in my posession, and it's a doooozy of a stone: swirls of creamy yellow and a background of deepest ebony...

It's surrounded by all manner of cosmic sterling and a wee 14k gold dot.
This stunner fits a size 10.5.

See you in the Metal Shop!


Thursday, January 7, 2010


New Goggles arrived today... too tight behind the ears, but the silhouette?



Wednesday, January 6, 2010

For Nancy

Your Celebration of Tea as an art inspires me to treat the time sipping as sacred and special:


Tea from a dear, dear faraway friend

Cup from a Pittsburgh thrift store, tucked into the 'expensive' section (20 dollars give or take)
that reveals a bouquet of flowers as the cup contents are drained....

Allowing a sigh of relief, calming the whirlwind.

Thank you for touching my life!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Beat The Drum

The necklaces I have to show you today are a result of the last week of my thoughts and prayers.

They are a more definite, less fluid design than I am used to making and the beauty in that newness is that they reflect my current state of mind.

Because we change, our art changes, too.

Lately I have felt more fierce, less delicate.

Dripping with the water of a new land, I am learning a new language, foraging for sustenance after what felt like a great fire swept through my life.

I don't have a branch to offer in this in between place: I have war paint under my eyes and I am watching the forest waiting for movement, anticipating things that aren't sweet to pass before me on their way to survival and growth.

The pieces I made are thumbprints of this experience: pieces that one might pass before a mighty door to be granted entrance.

They are a language, they speak of identity and clarity. They cannot pass themselves off as anonymous, they cannot feebly attempt to destroy things: 

these pieces are keys, they are courage.

I can practically hear their heartbeats.

Of the two, the larger contains a Koroit Boulder Opal with rainbow pinfire: my camera was aching to show you:

The best way to see the colors? Click on the pictures: I guarantee you will be thrilled by the sparkle that lies just beneath the surface.

Both pieces will be in the Metal Shop this evening, along with something both vintage and new, sweet and rugged.

I am currently going to go drink some African Cream tea and come back to this small town, this gentle life after a week in the wilds of the in-between.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The World....

...According to our new Nikon 60mm AF Micro Nikkor Lens:


Beautiful Pests

Studio Warrior


The Secret Life of My Houseplant

I reckon my photographs will never be quite the same after this, my first Macro lens.

Today I worked on a very very very deluxe piece for the silver shop, a necklace which combines koroit boulder opal with beach glass in a very strong, definite way.

I look forward to sharing it with you soon!