Monday, July 7, 2014

Blog Hop! Four Questions.

Lovely Jiorji has nominated me as next to answer some questions in a blog hop.  I am posting this rather late and having a few technical difficulties with photos, so I will be adding more photos to accompany my answers hopefully by the end of the evening.  At the latest, tomorrow (Tuesday.)  

What am I working on? 

Right now I'm going through what has become a biannual phase (or whatever the correct term for twice a year is)--a need to get organized.  I've  been spending lots of time putting vintage and destash strands & lots together for my supply shop. I already have so many things set aside to photograph that it is absurd.  An entire dresser full.  So although it seems kind of unnecessary to keep putting such things together, I've found it's a good way to get my things organized in general.  My amount of supplies is so enormous and so unorganized that I don't ever "know where to start" in an attempt to organize; it's all so abstract and openended; I don't really know what I'm doing and get very sidetracked. So putting strands together for my supply shop is kind of like a device I use; it's got a practical objective and when I get sidetracked it's not bad because I just end up finding components and tools I forgot about and making places for them and I'll also find things and get an immediate urge to use them, so I'll sit down and make a necklace or something.

On the strictly creative side, I've just come out of a big bead making blitz and now I'm making a lot of necklaces and earrings.  Within the bead making blitz, I was experimenting with a new tool--a heat gun.  I was using it to cure superficial applications of liquid polymer clay on beads to make faux glazes and lampwork-style effects, and also on wire and metal components. 
 Examples of the heat-gunned liquid polymer faux-lampwork experimenting.
I ended up making a ton of beads and charms using just steel wire so I'd have lots of things on which to apply the liquid polyclay. But that was so much fun that I've just kept making them.  So I've had my attention focused on the idea of making complex, Edwardian-era-style chandelier style earrings out of nothing but steel wire.  I like to take the notion of something traditional and make a monster out of it, an effigy. 

 I am also in the process of writing  a tutorial for painted floral beads. By 'in process,' I mean I am procrastinating finishing it.  I have it all written, and just need to take how-to photos, though. 

 Tutorial: coming soon.  Really.

I also have been putting sets of vintage papers together for use as photography backgrounds and whatever-you-wants.  I've received a few inquiries about some of the hand-drawn frames and such I use, so I thought maybe it's viable as an actual product.  No takers so far, but I just listed the first one last night.  We'll see. There's a lot more where this came from. 

These, for example:

Good idea, right?  No?  Anybody can draw frames on old book papers, I know.  But DO THEY?

 How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I guess I can only really answer this question under an assumption that my work does differ from others of its genre.  Truthfully, I think it's probably quite similar in a lot of ways, and lots of people would find it typical of its genre, because there are so many levels of 'looking.'  Looking and seeing never ends, it's infinite like everything else.  The more one looks and sees, the more there is to see and know.  It's a funny paradox that you can see it exemplified in the curious dynamic of mothers who don't see the twin-like resemblance of their own face in their child's, or between their children.  The resemblance is so uncanny to outsiders and the mother is so perplexed and mystified--she only knows her love's completely unique face.  It's because she sees more deeply and frequently.  The mommy has been looking at her own face in mirrors and photos for decades and by the time her child is two years old, has physically seen his/her face more than her own.  It's all so familiar that there is more subjectivity than objectivity--one's own eyes become the subject and object. It's a more intimate way of seeing, but not necessarily more or less True.  She's just crossed the bridge of similarly-shaped jawlines; it's an unnecessary type of vision for her. The obvious is obscured by insight.  Levels of looking. 

So, my jewelry would likely be categorized most objectively in an 'assemblage' genre, and features things like: vintage tin, found objects, distressing, unusual or unexpected materials, a preponderance of artisan components etc.  For those looking more closely, though, and since I am analogous to the mommy of my work, I see my signature in things like specific color choices and combos, tapering silhouettes, the notion of decay and ruin and uberodd juxtaposed with sweetness and traditional.  That's pretty abstract, but it's a way for me to sum it up vs. drone on with an essay about it.  

More tangibly though, to note some actual differences between my work and other assemblage artists: a lack of anatomical imagery; I see a lot of faces, bodies, arms, hands, eyes, etc., decoupaged and/or used as charms, like frozen charlottes, doll parts like arms, brass stampings of Victorian hands, etc.  For some reason, I just don't incorporate human imagery into my stuff.  I think I'm less expository in general.  There are exceptions, of course, but I don't incorporate a lot of letters or words either.  It's interesting because I used to use a LOT of faces, anatomy imagery, and words in collages when I was making those.  For example:
This is a combo paper and digital collage.  Most of my stuff isn't scanned or totally digital so I have limited examples.  I made this to accompany a short story which can be read/viewed here. It's been recently enhanced during a photoshop marathon.  The collage, not the story.  But it could probably use some recent enhancement as well.

I also don't use a lot of other identifiable type of objects that seem to be very common to assemblage jewelry, like keys, hardware, coins, crosses, milagro-type figurals, silverware, small found objects like glass vials, etc.  In their place, I think I tend to choose the same symbols/shapes over and over: stars, flowers, and dagger-shaped things that might happen to be feather or tusk charms.  I also do include animal imagery and shapes every now and then. 

I also use a lot less extraartisan components than a lot of assemblage artists.  I made that word up, 'extraartisan.'  But I mean 'artisan other than me.'  Because I do use a lot of artisan components, they're just mine.  There's no intention or ethic involved--I just like to make everything; that's what jewelry-making is to me really.This will tie in to a question below, though.  

Why do I create what I do?

I have no specific allegiance to jewelry as a medium, and I have no need to be thought of as a jewelry artist, crafter, artist in general, or anything art-related at all.  I often hear and read other artists make comments about being compelled to create art and whatnot, but I don't really identify with that sentiment.  There have been huge pockets of time in my life when I wasn't actually creating or crafting items, and I was just fine and content being absorbed in whatever I was doing.

I make jewelry because it  fulfills two requirements: it is as perfect a canvas/medium for everything I like to do right now and possibly forever, and it is actually sellable. The things I'm liking to do right now are painting, drawing, sculpting, engineering. Arty engineering to me includes things like wire wrapping, knotwork, etc.  No kidding, macrame ought to be taught at engineering school.  I can now intuitively do things like build structurally sound fences using nothing but twigs and sticks because of all the macrame-time I've spent.  (Picture coming soon!)  

But it's like a miracle that I can sculpt little round things, scribble pretty little roses on them, and people will pay me for them.  Amazing.  Why wouldn't I create what I do? I can't think of a reason.  Seriously, though, almost any art medium can be worked into jewelry making.  I just don't have a real concept that I 'make jewelry' though; it's really all the same to me.  I don't really 'go back and forth' between things like making polymer clay beads and making earrings; or even putting destash strands together--it's all seamless and related to me.  The compartmentalization I do with it is all kind of forced conceptually, in order to be able to effectively spend the proper amounts of time divided between listing things in my shops, managing space, etc.  But the 'creating' part of it is all the same to me.  

How does my creative process work?

When I close my eyes, I see an otherworld of gorgeous fractal-like patterns, shapes, and images.  I don't think of them, they're literally there to see.  It's probably diagnosable. KOO KOO!  KOO KOO! But it's the engine that seems to drive what is probably called 'inspiration.'  I'll then put certain ideas of form, color, silhouette together with interesting things that pop into my head. Literally scenes of things I've seen in the past will  pop into but somewhere along the way they got put through a fantastical alien filter for me.  So maybe in this memory there is something that catches my eye and I'll start consciously thinking of how I could make it outrageously great or 'into' something. At that point I suppose, the creative baton has been handed to my conscious brain.

 For example, I recently thought about a memory of being at this local casino with my husband.  In the memory, I saw that I was wearing HUGE beaded Indian earrings, but super colorful, bright, and even obnoxious.  It seemed so cool, walking through the casino with those rad earrings.  But the thing is, I don't actually have those kind of earrings in real life, so that part of the memory was what I'd consider 'inspiration.'  Why Indian earrings at a casino though?   Like most non vegas casinos, the casino is on an Indian reservation.  There's a boutique there that sells Indian arts and crafts.  I have no memory of anything in particular, and I hadn't consciously even remembered the Indian craft boutique.  But unconsciously, I'm putting deep ideas together for myself and it's all there to use as 'creative process.'

So I kind of looked at that idea, the idea of having really obnoxious huge brightly colored Indian beaded earrings that only kind of actually 'refer' to traditional Indian beaded earrings, how I like that idea, and how I really have been wanting to learn to do that type of beadwork, etc. So I have been putting seed beads aside when I come across them while I'm putting my destash strands together, and soon I'm going to be trying my hand at Indian beadwork.

This is a rather nutty example of how I think my creative process works, but it's the closest I can get to explaining it.  I also really believe in spending a lot of time hands-on working, even if it's just something like doodling. So much comes from that which could never actually be 'thought of.'  So for me I think there is an extremely ethereal thing going on mixed with an extremely practical thing.
I have asked four people to participate in the blog hop, so on or near the 14th, please check out their blogs to see how they've answered the four questions.  In the meantime, there is some good reading at their blogs and of course, fabulous items for sale and admiration.  Only 2 of them are jewelry-related; I thought I'd mix it up a bit.  3 of them are actually local people.  3 have Etsy shops.  1 was actually nominated by her publisher for THE PULITZER PRIZE.  You will have to click around to discover who is what.  (Do they give Pulitzers for earrings anymore?  I can never keep up.)


Kim from Fall Hill Bead & Gem. (Beads and supplies, Herkimer diamonds, pendants, gems)
Her blog:
 Eileen, from Eileen Casey Creations (Knitting, patterns)
Her blog: /
Alessandra from RomAntic Soul (Handmade jewelry & supplies)
Her blog:
And Marly Youmans (Fiction & poetry)
Her blog:



  1. wow...that whole part about your creative process kind of blew my mind. It makes no sense to me. It's so backwards in relation to how other creative minds normally draw inspiration but it still comes from a subconscious place for you ...just very interesting. This is all a compliment hahah i find the "not normal" ways very interesting

    and i think you're actually the first one who actually admitted that yes, you create to sell and make a living. For some reason there's a shame for artists, creative people, musicians, to admit they create things to sell. sellouts. nobody wants that. But we all want our work to sell.

    great read! i really enjoyed reading your perspective

    1. Hey! Glad you saw the post--I was just getting ready to send you a message telling you I finally posted it.

      It's so true what you say about it being backwards I think, because I am often equally stumped when reading about other people's creative process, sources of inspiration, and 'reasons' for creating things. I don't really know what to think. Honestly, I'm not sure it's that 'important' to me though, since it doesn't trouble me at all and never ever seems to be an issue. I think there's even a chance my approach isn't *actually* that different, but that I use different words and ways to explain what I mean.

      I've touched on this idea before a little about the notion of commerce in it all. I have the benefit of having learned a lot about the loaded ideas of value and worth as they relate symbolically and energetically to more intangible types of work. I did bodywork for decade and money/value is a big deal in that realm in a lot of ways. Really complex ideas that you are forced to take on one way or another if you plan on making a living at it in the long term. Almost everyone has emotional and/or moral type issues involving money and 'selling' , and a large percentage of such are unexamined. Examining them goes a long way to letting go of obstacles that might be keeping full success away and even blocking creativity, or opportunities, I think.

      Thanks again for engaging me in the blog hop!

  2. This was most interesting and very recognizable.
    You have a great way with words as well as with your hands.

  3. Hi Richelle--

    You know, some time when I'm at a wrestling meet in Little Falls, we ought to meet! That sort of description of how you work is familiar--the sense of things as "given," the way things just appear.

    1. Yes, definitely! How often are you in Little Falls? You have an open invitation to show up at my house. Everyone does. Well, most people.

  4. I love that you create for sheer enjoyment and that you are honest about creating for selling as well. I think it's an artist's taboo, because a lot of people think they will be labeled as sellouts...but guess what? At the end of the day it is important to share your creations and you should be tangibly rewarded as well! I mean it is a lot of work! I love your new experiments with polymer that looks like glass! Beautiful! Maybe one day I will understand polymer clay better...still working on it ;-)

    Thanks for including me in this, this is awesome, I'll work on it gradually this week and post it before I leave!

    1. I've often wondered why I have zero issues with the selling aspect. I think a lot of it is just based on my particular experiences and personality. The notion of 'selling out' simply would never occur to me because I cannot even imagine a realistic scenario that would indicate actually 'selling out.' I suppose selling out for would be something like pumping out non-quality items with some kind of misrepresentation. Selling out to me means trading in my integrity for money (or some other benefit.) It doesn't at have to do with JUST money. Lots to consider. I feel an essay coming on. I think I'll delve into this more deeply in a blog post soon. Thanks again for letting me link to you!

  5. man oh man this was an amazing post. imna have to pimp it on my blerg.
    i liked what you said about selling out. i think us artists... like, what would we even have to do to sell out? none of our shit sells that well anyways... i guess in one way of looking at it, my making tutes was a sellout- and its the reason i have any $ in my bank account at all. wish i could make myself sell out more! yeah, as an artist i feel like i have zero control over my inspirations b.c if i did, i'd just focus on shit that sells!!! haha.

    as for what makes your stuff different from others in your realm: tons of wiggly black wire, lots of grungy, hand-made beads, a complete disregard for prettiness in aesthetics, a disregard for a lot of traditional aesthetics- everything has your grungified manic energy in it somehow... yeah that is hard to put into words. also you dont care a bit for perceived value. i see cheap salvaged beads mixed into painstakingly crafted bits... you are very unique in this.
    you dont seem to care at all about how other people do what they do. lots of us get stuck comparing and being jealous of the success of others... you are so freaking refreshing its insane.

  6. Oh, thanks so much Marina. I have been thinking more about these ideas in general and I'm going to write a follow up blog post on it. I'm also going to respond in detail to your remarks/comment tomorrow. I've been up for literally oer 73 hours now and I am starting to see black cats.

    But your observations are right on as usual. There's a lot in these ideas. I love this kind of discourse & really value it because I tend to gloss over/dismiss a lot of blogspeak and bloglooking in general because to be frank, I am just TIRED OF looking at the internet and even of just touching the computer constantly that I have developed some kind of armour. I like it. It's vintage tin armour. English biscuits or something. It's welcome. I want it for now. Nothing on the internet is even my damn beeswax anyway. However, the trade off is that I tend to...gloss over. I would like balance; this is one of the reasons I said yes to the blog hop questions; they're pretty basic but sometimes those seem to be the ones that are interesting and insight-generating if answered with some introspection and most importantly, I think--if there is a letting go of the notion of 'persona curation' that is basically what these blogs are for. Even if it's not supposedly what they are *for*, it's what they *do.*

    Anyway....more soon. Thanks again for your comments!

  7. Enjoyed yours! Mine:

    1. Great post is broken in your post; here it is (hopefully will work...)

    2. I guess no links work after all...