The Zen of the Process

As I go around the country teaching jewelry making workshops, the students are astounded when I push certain techniques like hand filing and burnishing.  To my full time students at Baum School of Art in Pennsylvania, and at the different colleges I have taught, it’s just part of a natural process.  In fact, in Pennsylvania, it was joked that if you took my classes, you would learn to make Amish jewelry….that is, I use no electricity, and expected my students to do the same thing.  Yes, it has paid off, like the night that I had my pieces due for a gallery show the next morning, and one of those severe Pennsylvania thunderstorms struck, and I was without any electricity all night   So I finished the pieces with hand sanding and by the light of 4 candles and my cell phone!  They looked just fine.

While teaching a week-end workshop a few months ago, a student from the third semester class left the room, and I asked where she was going.  She said  innocently, “Over to the belt  sander to  sand my piece.”  “Oh NO NO NO!” , was my horrified expression as I handed her an #0 Grobet.  “Here. Learn the old fashioned way.” She grumbled a bit, and sat back down at her bench,  tried to sweetly glare at me, and a few moments later  was learning to work a file.  I was shocked that she had ALWAYS just put her work on the belt sander, and had never really held a file, much less a #6  finishing file (Oh be still my heart–such a delight to hold and fondle–such a magnificent little file!  But I digress.) But, 15 minutes later she said she was really enjoying putting her “spirit”  into the piece.  And she was humming and smiling.

Last week, Kathleen Krucoff, my sister, student and best friend, wrote a post on her Talking Tools blog about files.  While she was really writing about files, if you read between the lines, what she was really blogging about was The Joy of Filing, kind of like “The Joy of Cooking” and that other more infamous “Joy of”  book.  (blush). But anyway, as my student,  she has learned to sit at her bench and simply file.  We recently participated in the Boettcher Mansion Arts & Crafts festival, which celebrates the joy of the Art & Crafts period.  Yes, there was electricity back then, and even a treadle buffing wheel or two around.  But part of the the Arts and Crafts philosophy was the rejection of the industrialization of goods,  furniture, pottery, jewelry, etc.  and the lack of fine craftsmanship as everything was made by a machine.    However,  the joy that came to Kathleen as she sat there and simply filed one of her elegant  pieces was a thing of beauty.  She smiled, no, she beamed, as she looked at her handiwork, and I know her blood pressure dropped.

So as I think about it, yes, as I get ready for 3 large upcoming shows,  I do find myself panicking and wanting to whip out 5 pieces this afternoon.  But life is full of compromises.  I don’t make my living through doing shows, so I admit I’m a bit spoiled. But I do have a hectic teaching schedule, so  I only make about 150 pieces a year.  While I’m not saying this will work for you, give it a try some afternoon when you are not so rushed.  Cut your pieces out by hand, and go from a #0 file  to a #2, then a #4 and finally, if you have one, a #6 ( pattter-patter-patter goes my heart again).  And then hand sand, (YES!)  using the 3M finishing film, no buffing wheel or flex shaft.  AND THEN…..use a burnisher and hand burnish your edges.  (horrors!  No one uses a hand burnisher any more, do they?!)  Hey, I even have a set of Thrumming strings…. I’m really antiquated!  But by doing this, and when I hand my piece to someone at a show, they usually say  “WoW!  This piece feels powerful” , or  “This has a great feeling to it.” It makes me smile.

So what I’m saying is, enjoy the “Zen of the Process”.  Maybe you already do this, but if not, try it.  It’s not for everyone, but give it a try.  My mentor and good friend Harold O’Connor says “If you don’t enjoy the process of making jewelry, why are you doing it?”  He has given me so much good advice over the years.  My “Conversations With Harold” series is dedicated to him and  his years of sage wisdom.

And  if you are in a dry spell right now, with no new ideas coming to you, don’t dispair.  Know that as you were full of creativity  and ideas 2 months ago, now you will need to plant new seeds to germinate for your new ideas.  Its a simple yin/yang thing… involution and evolution …yin…spiraling inward to darkness,the esoteric, the involution,  and contemplative self examination,  growth. Then, sometimes, and even without warning,  here comes the yang, the evolution, as you spiral outward,  and you create and manifest your new project. It’s something I believe in strongly, partially because I grew up in the American Southwest. The people of Taos Pueblo celebrate “The Quiet Time,” as Mother Earth sleeps and prepares for Spring,  when her greatness bursts forth in all it’s glory.  But it’s a natural process, and its all around us with Mother Nature, with the dark seasons and the light seasons, the dark of night and the brightness of day.  So enjoy the entire Zen of the Process….the involution and evolution, the contemplating and the creating. And know that when your evolution comes, the sun will shine brighter than ever before.   Enjoy the blessed Zen of the Process.  End of lecture.

Crying may endure for the night, but joy commeth in the morning.  Psalms 30:5

Love and peace to you all–

Lexi

Our First Denver Botanic Garden Show

OH WOW!  I can’t even begin to explain how I feel right now.  First, to have the gorgeous Denver Botanic Gardens as a venue for us was astounding, especially when we are showing alongside of  a fabulous presentation of Henry Moore sculptures.  Second, it was two of those Colorado fall days—not a cloud in the turquoise sky, and snow clad mountains in the distance, while Denver was a balmy 70 degrees.  And then, add  25 spectacular tables filled with glowing and colorful baubles.  OK,  now you have a picture of our First Jewelry Show at the Denver Botanic Gardens.   We were inside Gates Courtyard, with full picture windows and tall glass doors behind us.  It was spectacular.  Just as much fun was looking at the individual diplays of each artist.

Harold O’Connor’s display was elegant and sparse, with trays lined with white Japanese paper, which showed off Harold’s exquisite craftsmanship to a “T”.  His newest collection, “From My Backyard” was composed of artistically cast elegant rings and pendants of twigs, string and unusual pods he found  in his Salida, Colorado yard. Exquisite Spectrolite from Finland accented several of his pieces. It was such an honor to show alongside of one of the True Masters of Metalsmiting in the world.

Kathleen Krucoff had a stunning display of lanterns, which showed off her earrings and pendants.

For my usual art festival display, I dress in my archaeology gear, and have trowels and archaeology tools in my display cabinets. But for this truly upscale show I had a collection of “antique” suitcases, from which spilled my treasures, and I forewent my archaeology khakis.  Since it kind of went along with my adventure and travel themes, I was happy with my display.

For weeks before  the show I had nightmares that here we were all at the Botanic Gardens, all dressed up  and just standing around visiting with each other because no one came in to see our jewelry.  Well, nothing could have been farther from the truth.

We opened at 9 on Saturday morning, and our first customers started arriving at 9:27. By 10:00 we were having a light stream of customers, and by 11, we were constantly busy.  Jennie Milner said that she didn’t expect it to be like a cocktail party.  There was a constant flow of new people.  The wine and music started at 1:00, and there was not a moment to stop after that.  Sales were brisk, and there were lots of questions about our jewelry, the artists, and  Colorado Metalsmithing Association.  We were packed with customers who were actually buying, not just “thinking about it”.  Customers returned to tables several times to make their final choices.  Gallery owners talked to many participants about showing in their galleries, and the jewelry market seems to be returning.  It was a joy to watch everyone.  It was so great to see so many of you COMA members and friends, and I really appreciate each of you for coming out.  And in addition to that, it was great to sell so much jewelry. As artists we felt validated and appreciative that so many of you like our work well enough to purchase and wear it.  We are truly honored.

I have already started plans for next year’s show.  New ideas are flowing, and I want to start drawing in my sketch book right now.  But my precious 4-year old grandson is spending the week with me as his mom and dad return to Austin and pack and move back to Denver.  I am thrilled. They will live nearby, and I don’t have to make that 1100 mile trek down to Texas 4 times a year!  They are just as exited to be returning to Colorado.

So to each of you, I had a vision.  I acted upon it and didn’t let anything stop me.  The Denver Botanic Gardens Show was the result of that dream.  So follow your dream, follow your passions. Were there some nay-sayers? Oh yeah. And one really hurt my feelings.  But I knew in my heart that this would be a hit, and with the talent we have in Colorado, this would be a stunning show.

I want to thank Harold O’Connor for the initial inspiration from something that he said about 3 years ago, and I thank my sister, Kathleen Krucoff, for the poster and postcard designs.  She made us look beautiful before anything ever happened. And to the artists and Board of Colorado Metalsmithing Assoc, thank you in letting me, as a new Board member with a dream of where we could go, have free rein in doing what I visioned.  To each of you, GO FOR IT!   Follow your Passion! And watch this space for updates about our next show.

Passionately Yours,

Lexi

The Life of A Jewelry Artist

Hi Everyone–

Here in the Rocky Mountains, the aspen are turning bright gold and some are burgundy.  They are truly magnificent against the turquoise Colorado sky.  But the true mark of autumn is the Denver Gem and Mineral show, which just finished last Sunday.  Though in reality I needed nothing, I cannot help going to see what Mark Lasater at The Clam Shell, Gary B. Wilson, Greg King-Falk Burger (the duo humorously known as “Burger-King”), Michael Hendrix and many more  have in stock.  They had less in stock after my friend, student and sister, Kathleen Krucoff, my students and I left.  And remarkably, we do not fight over stones.  We all have such different taste in our jewelry and colors that there is always plenty for all of us. Well, truthfully, Kathleen and I do tussle a bit over red jasper, Chinese Writing Stone, and petrified palm wood, but if you follow her blog, you know she is a purple lover, so she buys a lot more purples, while I go for the “earth tones”. (I’m such a child of the 70’s).  As I predicted on my Tucson blog, Mark Lasater had some gorgeous Red Creek Jasper.   Funny thing about names, it’s now called Cherry Creek Jasper, Cherry Creek Valley Jasper and just plain old Red Creek jasper.  That’s the name the owner of the mine calls it, so I’m sticking with that until further notice.  But there was a lot of it at the Denver show.

Fall is also the time for the Castle Rock Art Festival.  The gem show starts the Tuesday after the Castle Rock weekend, so I’m pretty exhausted.  The Castle Rock show was pretty good for me this year, though not even comparable to “The Glory Days” of the 1980-90’s art festivals.   But I had a great time and I always love meeting the other artists.  This year I traded some work with my newest friends,  fabulous wildlife watercolorist Stephen Koury from Lakeland, FL  and metal artist Pamella Goff from Brighton, CO.  Pamella makes diverse art from old spoons, and her pieces are totally delightful.  Her spoon flower hangs in my kitchen.  It reminds me of a delightful and spiritual sister.   Stephen does these unbelievably realistic nature paintings, and my painting features a Harris Hawk and my favorite petroglyph, the “Moab Man”. It is being framed now, and I can’t wait to hang it in my entry hall.  Both of these artists are so outgoing and wonderfully talented that it makes it the whole show experience pretty wonderful.  Plus, the Castle Rock Festival is one of the best run I’ve ever participated in.  They take such good care of their artists.  Kathleen and I have decided that it’s easier to do some shows together so we are  looking forward to doing more shows next year.

Photo of me (on the right) with Kathleen (on the left) at the Castle Rock Festival this year.

A few blogs back I expressed my feelings about galleries and shows, and thought something has to be done about the way we get our work out there, and yet allow us to do more than “break even” on an event.  After some thought, I realized that what we need is a group of sincere artists who come together and present their work at a well-known, but non-gallery,  location and perhaps start a tradition.

Well, I’m very lucky to be on the Board of Colorado Metalsmithing Association (CoMA), so I took my idea to the Board, and they were receptive to trying something totally new.  Previously, CoMA has only shown at galleries.  Now we will have 28 artists, famous, notables, and emerging, those who answered our Call for Artists, and we will be showing and selling our work at the beautiful Denver Botanic Gardens on Oct 16 and 17.

What is so amazing about this venue is that it is timed to take place along with the showing of Henry Moore’s monumental sculptures.   It was Henry Moore who commented “The most powerful artworks are the largest and the smallest”.  I was thrilled to find that quote, and we put it on our postcards.

I would like to thank Kathleen Krucoff of Krucoff Studios for the design of both our poster and postcards.  Everyone has commented on how stunning and professional they are, and it makes them proud to be a part of the show.

Jewelry at the Gardens ~ Post Card


28 Artists at the Botanic Gardens ~ The Poster

So what I’m saying, along with please come see us at the show and sale,  is that we, as artists, are creative people. If you are unhappy with shows and galleries, please take this idea and run with it.  It’s nothing new, but it is a first for a great group of metalsmiths in Colorado.

Look for willing locations in your area.  Look for people who will help sponsor a show, and put one together.  Is it a lot of work?  Yes, tremendously so. Maybe a later blog will be a step -by-step of how to do this, but I’ve put together many shows in Texas and PA.  All it takes is a spark, and you can ignite a whole group of people’s creative processes.  Helping others get “out there”, in turn energizes me, and  I feel a lot more creative.  I hope you will come to see us.  I can promise you it will be worth your time to see what these artisans have created and maybe you will find that right item and become a collector!

Show dates / times / location: October 16 ad 17,  from 9 AM -5 PM, Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, Denver Co, 80206.

I’m off to create  something for this “New Tradition”– I look forward to meeting you at this new event, “Jewelry at the Gardens”.  Please mention you read about it in my blog as I would love to know.  Thanks.

Lexi

Live From Lexi In Tucson

Hi Everyone, Here we are in my last day at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, just generally known as “Tucson” to those of us who make jewelry.  The big question for the last 3 months among jewelry people  is “Are you going to Tucson?”  Everyone knows what that means. You aren’t going for the sunshine, spas or cuisine, though all are excellent.  To borrow, and modify, a current Olympic expression….”Go for the Rocks!”  And we did.

My buddy Helen and I started out in my husband’s big old 3/4 ton pickup, because with Helen, I didn’t know if I would be hauling back rock cutting equipment or  500 pounds of rough.  For me, I might find a T-Rex  fibula that I couldn’t live without.  We drove from Denver to Albuquerque and spent the night with my friend Mary, a fabulous potter, who is such an inspiration to me in so many ways. The next morning we all started out.  Mary was looking for unusual beads from Nepal for her unique spirit necklaces and goddess figures and urns, so she thought Tucson would be good for her.

We survived the boring drive from Hatch, NM to Deming, though Helen, being a Jersey girl, was fascinated with miles and miles of nothing but sage and yucca, without a tree in sight.  She kept her nose pressed against the window, with an occasional “Wow!” or “Cool!” or “Look at those rocks!” escaping from her lips.  After the awe inspiring ride through Texas Canyon, we came into Tucson, and got excited to see Zee Haag’s advertisement out on I-10 as soon as we arrived.  We were finally in TUCSON!!!

We stayed with our good buddy, Terri, in her beautiful Tucson styled home, along with her 2 dogs and cat, the Spawn of Satan.  Well, his name is Yote, but Helen calls him the Spawn of Satan because of his actions.  He just needs therapy. Then we were off to the show.  Our first stop was at AGTA where we got hugs from Todd Reed, who was finishing up his show that afternoon and flying to Philly for the Rosen Show. (How DO you do it, Todd?)  Then we were off to see the rock guys.  OK.  Helen and I had this margarita bet as to who would buy the first stone.   Well, 10 minutes into the show I spent the first money, but it was for my good Chile/Boulder buddy, jeweler Maria Roditis, who at the last minute couldn’t make it down for the show.  So TECHNICALLY,  that didn’t count.  The first money was spent with one of my favorite couples in the business, Mark and Christa Lasater, at The Clam Shell.  Again, I had to pick up 5 gorgeous amethyst sage stones that Kathleen Krucoff had ordered.  Then I had pre-ordered some equally fabulous amethyst sage, so that didn’t count, either. THEN IT HAPPENED!  Helen and I both spotted THE  new stone of the entire Tucson Show, and Helen pulled out her wallet and bought the stone on the spot.  I bought 7 pieces of the petrified sequoia stone, which was the Smokin’ Stone in the Feb issue of Lapidary Journal, (it’s very, very rare) and  I also bought THE stone.  Well, 2 of THE stones.  More on THE stone later.  Then we caught up with the editor of Lapidary Journal, Merle White, and solved the problems of the world, and were off again.  We rocketed through the place, stopping to see some fabulous new pink Oregon Sunstone from the Ponderosa site, and I could have easily dropped big buckage there, but didn’t.  I mean, it was only  30 minutes into the show and I’d already spent a lot of money.  I was already in deep coprolite!

We crossed the street to the GJX Show, and saw rubies, sapphires, diamonds, finished jewelry, ( ho-hum) but we were looking for cabs and rough.  The only thing I wanted was dino doo-doo and dino bone.  I have plenty of everything else, or at least my patient husband thinks so. Lo and behold…suddenly there was Gary B. Wilson’s booth,  my other favorite cutter.  I immediately picked out more things for Kathleen, and Gary had been holding some matt red jasper, the same stone that was on the cover of the Dec issue of Lapidary Journal.  I found a large round beauty called Hidden Valley Jasper.  It’s has gorgeous colors, looking like pinky gold Aurora Borealis lights.  And I finally got an “8 Ball”!  If you are familiar with Gary’s work, you know what that is.  I have waited years for an 8 ball slice. I bought more of my favorites, Chinese Writing Stone, and jaspers. But still no dino doo-doo.  And that was the only thing I came to Tucson for.

The next day was Electric park…and cold…and rain.  We met up with Mary and toured the tents.  Lots of Kwan Yin statues, Budda Heads, Kent’s Tools in the big tent, and I bought a splendid red and yellow African basket from a Denver guy! There were these wonderful things from Madagascar (Hi Noel!  I will be sending you a list, but get us some labradorite and those large tumbled carnelian stones.)  We talked to these cob-web encrusted grizzled old miners, and met Gator, who is Queen Elizabeth’s 16th cousin. (Aren’t we all?)   In other words, lots of characters.  And finally, doo-doo!  Biff Billings had the coolest stuff.  I got dino bone beads and a gastrolith, and very rare bone and doo-doo beads.  (OK, Mom, coprolite beads.)   He’s a retired archaeology professor, so no wonder I like him  We had lots of friends in common. I had a ball looking thru his stuff. I wanted to spend the rest of the day there, but the proverbial sun was setting in the west, and we had evening plans.

The next days flew by as we shopped The Holidome and  “The Strip”, seeing Anasazi pot shards, legally obtained, we were told, and trays of  repros of old religious objects, and tons of boxes of cabs and slabs, most just carelessly thrown in boxes, some that had been stored in people’s basements for decades. We saw lots of dealers buying from each other, and never once had to stand in line to purchase anything.  I don’t know how the dealers thought about this years show, economically wise.

Then it happened. And it brought tears to my eyes.   The thing that got to me was the scarcity of my favorite stones, Chinese Writing Stone, Picasso stone and palm wood.  There is a limited supply of good cutting material of any stone.  There were many cabs from China, cut there because it’s cheap.  So many cabs were crudely cut, or chipped from being thrown in a box. The words of Jeff Wise came to me so many times…”Who will speak for the stones?” To me, these are the gifts of our Earth Mother, who has cradled these treasures within her bosom for years. They deserve to be respected and honored.  They are the history of our home, our planet. To see people scruffing thru boxes of stone cabs, chipping or breaking them, marring their surface as they scratch against other harder stones touched me deeply.  Each stone deserves to be cut to it’s most beautiful shape and polished to bring out it’s natural beauty, and presented for your enjoyment, not tossed in some dirty old cardboard box.  I learned I don’t have to go to Tucson to see the most gorgeous stones.  I already buy from the best cutters out there, men who respect the stones and work hard to bring out each stones unique beauty.  And that’s why I continue to buy from Mark Lasater (The Clamshell) and Gary Wilson.  They are true artists, with the heart and spirit of the artist.  Their life and love is the stone, the backbone of The Earth Mother, our Madre Tierra.   I don’t mean it to sound snobbish or elitist, but the stone deserves this.  And when you make your piece of jewelry, present the stone to best best of your ability.  Make the stone proud of you.

Tomorrow I will reveal THE stone, what several of us have decided, in our unscientific poll, what was the new surprise this year.  And forgive me for my soap box stance. Just give it some thought. As jewelers, we have the power to stop what is happening.

From Tucson,

Lexi

Creativity, Art and Spirituality

In the continuing search for how to become more creative, I add several new suggestions.

#7.  You must have a connection with the arts.

It is my firm belief that a civilization is remembered through its arts.  Knowledge of the history of your art form will serve as an inspiration and allow you to carry on conversation about your artform in an intelligent and cultured manner.  You don’t have to spend the afternoon in a museum.  How about an afternoon at your favorite book store?  Recently, my friend, student and sister, Kathleen Krucoff, purchased a book of Mucha’s paintings. ThoughI have loved his work, which he produced during the fin-de-siecle, I never realized how much the colors spoke to me.  When Kathleen shared the book with me, I fell in love with his work and colors all over again.  Later, I pulled out my old 19th century art history text, and spent a snowy afternoon in front of the fireplace looking at the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and reintroduced myself to one of my favorite paintings, Flaming June, by Frederic Lord Leighton.  This Victorian era painting has held my attention for many years, and I have a small   reproduction in my study.  Suddenly I realized just how much I love the color orange.  There is power and majesty, mystery and magic in orange.

Suddenly so much color has come alive in my world.  I am stopping by windows in the mall while Christmas shopping, and looking at color.   I realize that whatever connection you have in the arts, and art comes in many diverse forms,  it will effect your life.  At this time of the year, here in the mountains of Colorado, the cold, crisp mornings  bless us with rosy Alpenglow on the mountains, and deep evenings grace us with magnificent blues.  As I drove home from our gallery in Fairplay,  Coyote Creek Studio Arts, it was about 7 degrees, with imminent snow, and crystal clear.  The world was a deep periwinkle, with yellow tiny twinkling lights of ranch houses in the distance.   Mannheim Steamroller’s “Silent Night” was playing through my  car speakers on my iPod. It was like a scene from a Meg Ryan movie.  But it was also the color of the blue Swarvoski crystals.  So a new beaded bracelet was born, and today I’m cutting out snowflakes,  (Ok, maybe  only one, since they are so complicated) and have made a new bracelet for a gift for my neighbor.   All of this has come from my friend, Katheen, casually showing me her new art book.  Thank you, my friend.

Along with this comes another suggestion, and the time is right for this one.

#8  You must have a spiritual practice or belief.

I am an archaeologist by schooling.  I have studied many cultures, but two in microscopic detail.  One is a neolithic pre-Judaic/Christian nature based culture.  The other is a collective ethnic grouping of stone age/contemporary cultures, again with an Earth based spirituality.  One thing I have learned from both cultures is they are art-based, and in one culture, the word “nung” means both people and pottery.  Their art is so inter-related with their spiritual practices that you virtually cannot tell where one stops and another begins. In that culture, they do a private ceremony before they start their artwork.  At that time, they ask for the Earth Mother’s guidance in their work, and thank her for her gifts and offer that their work is acceptable in Her sight.  I find this extremely comforting and calming.  As Julia Cameron states in her inspiring series, “The Artist’s Way,” some people are uncomfortable with the word “God”.  However, it can stand for Good, Orderly Design.  So at this time of the year, when we speak of many miracles,  stop and thank the Earth Mother for her goodness in supplying the materials with which you work.  Those materials, themselves, are a pretty fantastic miracle. I’m fairly certain that whatever you work with has been mined from the Earth Mother,  and she has kept these treasures safe in her bosom for eons,  offering them to you as a vehicle for you creativity.  Try to do your part, and make Mom proud.  Who knows, she may put a photo of it on her refrigerator door.  The world of nature and art is a banquet, and yet so many people insist on starving.

May the beauty and quietness of the snow delight your senses.

Lexi

Mokume-Gane Pendant

Plate Techtonics, sterling and mokume-gane

Hi everyone–I thought I would insert a photo. Kathleen Krucoff is just teaching me, a very non-computer person, how to do this.  So I thought I would share a photo that Jim Lawson, from West Chester, PA took of my mokume-gane.    Jim is an excellent photographer, who makes your pieces “sing”.  Please check out his site…it is amazing.  I highly recommend him for jury slides and studio shots.  He does all my photography for Lapidary Journal, and is quite reasonable.  Plus, he’s just a really nice guy!

Mokume-gane is a Japanese swordmaking technique, and this is composed of 27 layers of copper and brass for the bail, and 20 layers of copper and sterling for the bottom section.  In the middle is a roller-milled textured  piece of silver.   The chain is a graduated Viking Chain knit, a labor intensive technique I learned from Sally Snow.  I promise, making this 20 inch chain is enough to drive you to drink!  Plus my hands really hurt when I finished it.  So all together, this piece probably took about 24 hours to finish.

So hope you enjoy the piece, and now that I know how to insert photos, my blogs will be a lot more colorful.

Thanks everyone–

Lexi

Creativity

Hi everyone, I know I haven’t been on for a while.   Sometimes life gets in the way.  I’ve been teaching a lot, and have traveled to Tucson , AZ and Austin, TX these last few weeks, and all this traveling has given me a lot of time to think.

After the Gelattos and Sunset evening with my sister, good friend and student, Kathleen Krucoff, I started thinking of where our creativity comes from.  I came up with several “rules” (or suggestions) to follow if you feel uncreative, or have “hit a wall”.  Sometimes just sitting down and thinking where you are going will help. Sometimes you feel overwhelmed, sometimes you feel totally uninspired.  Either way, look where you are going.

I will write these “rules” as a serial over a couple of weeks.  As always please feel free to comment.

1. You will be given what you want, but you must know exactly what it is you want.

This is nothing new.  It’s the old proverbial “Be careful what you ask for, you may get it.”  Well, you will get what you ask for, that’s why I have learned that you must word your desires carefully.

Do you want to make jewelry for just yourself, your friends, or a gallery?  Do you wish to teach, to own a shop or to have a nationally recognized name in jewelry?  Where are you going with your art, whatever the medium?    The decision is yours.  Only yours.  Think this through.

A friend wants to be a “big name” in jewelry. She only has a dream, no plan.  She submitted a piece for acceptance into a holiday gift catalog.  There will be 600,000 catalogs sent all over the U.S.   The piece was accepted. She is thrilled.  Now what?  What if it gets 400 orders?  What if she only gets two and she has 200 pieces made?   Give your decision a lot of thought.  Can you fill the orders?   How long before they pay?  What percentage will the company take? Don’t set yourself up for surprises.  Plot out a map of where you want to be in six months, in a year.  Make goals, both long term and short term.  Write them down. Review these goals every few months, and if you feel you are off track, it’s not too late to correct.

As a logical part of being an artist, you need a good consignment contract.  Most galleries work on consignment.  I had a really long one, too long, in fact.   Everything was covered, especially  bankruptcy/closure by the gallery.   The Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) has a great contract.  Look at (bear with me here, it’s worth it) http://www.snagmetalsmith.org/.docs/pg/10025   (whew!) for a really organized consignment contract, look at the contracts section and then select either the PDF or Word version of Guide to a Model Consignment Contract.   If y0u scroll down to the end of the document, the actual contract is there, following a detailed description of what everything means.   Edit it to fit your circumstances.   It will help you set your goals and organize your thoughts.

While speaking of goals and dreams, I grew up in a household where Lapidary Journal and National Geographic were the magazines to which we subscribed.  I became an archaeologist and a jewelry designer.  Never doubt the power of the printed word.  But I digress. As a teenager, I laid under the covers at night with a flashlight, reading exciting stories, long past bedtime. My dream was that one day I would be in one of those magazines.   This month, I am the cover artist with one of my designs for Chinese Writing Stone, one of of my favorite stones.

ja-november09

Here’s a shot of the cover.  I also have an article about pliers and the step-by-step on how to make the cover piece.  I was inspired by the Chinese chrysanthemums and fireworks of the Beijing Olympics.  Stop in your local book store and please pickup a copy  If y0u like jewelry arts, it’s full of cool tool tips.  I will be the cover artist for the December issue, also.  It’s a brand new look with a brand new art director.  I was really  thrilled that he liked my red jasper piece enough to choose it for the cover. (Remind me to send him Holiday cookies!) I am  so honored to be writing for Lapidary Journal, now for the last 2 years. It’s part of my dream come true.

So think about the direction your art is going. Visualize where you want it to be.  Think of how specific you word your goals.  Plan, write and organize,  and it will come true.

Sweet, successful dreams.

Lexi