Delaware Bound

At the end of April, I left off with news of a job opportunity, but no details.  My friends, I am happy to report I have accepted a position as a gallery assistant at Heidi Lowe Gallery in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware!  For those of you who have visited, you know that Heidi's is an art jewelry oasis.  And for those of you who have visited again and again, you know there is always something new and exciting waiting for you in that tiny white house.  With the busiest season quickly approaching, I hit the ground running at the beginning of May and won't soon be stopping.  If you are in the area, be sure to stop by and say hello; I would love to meet you!



Travels, Talks, and Workshops

MFA Show Lillian

April proved to be quite a productive month, and in unexpected ways!  It brought some long awaited events, a few unexpected ones, and many hours in the car - but all for the love of demos and supporting friends.

The Long Awaited: I can always count on the first weekend in April for the UMass Dartmouth MFA Thesis Exhibition opening.  It's a day of celebration with friends, family, studio mates, and colleagues after three years of hard work.  Having been there myself, I look forward to not only visiting my alma mater, but also supporting the jewelry/metals candidates.  Those graduating from the program this year hold a special place in my heart as they started their graduate work when I was in my last year and preparing for my thesis show.  It's a come-full-circle type of thing, I suppose. And so, a very hearty congratulations to Cuong Sy, William Vanaria, and Lillian E. Webster, who's neckpiece is pictured here!  If you're in Boston during the month of June, be sure to stop by Bromfield Gallery to see selections from the MFA Thesis Exhibition.

Another thing I can count on is an invitation from my friend Mr. Chase Stevens. Previously, he invited me to be part of a (Side)show at Guts & Glory Ink, but this time he asked if I would speak to his high school Art Club students, and what better time to stop by the Hudson Valley than on my way out to Massachusetts.


When I was in high school, I didn't know the worlds of metalsmithing and art jewelry existed.  I wanted to introduce these students to jewelry that goes beyond the readily available, easily accessible, and mainstream that we so often see.  And, I wanted to share with them metalsmiths who create sculpture, furniture, flatware, even machines in addition to jewelry, to show the versatility of these artists and their skill sets.  Of course I brought a lot of my own work so the students could get a hands on understanding of metalsmithed objets.  Chase let me know it was a successful and inspiring talk, especially for one of his students, who will soon be off to college in pursuit of a fine art degree!

A couple weeks later I was on the road to Pittsburgh for a little pin back action!  I volunteered to demo for the Allegheny Metals Club, which meets at the Society for Contemporary Craft.  It's a bit difficult to compete with a warm and sunny spring Saturday in the Strip District, not to mention a hammer workshop by Mr. Glen Gardner in the next room (I was sad I could not attend the 'hammershop'!), but it was great to be in such a lively studio!  I demoed a pin mechanism that is simple, yet effective, and also showed a variety of successful (and not-so-successful) samples that led to some great conversation about what to look for in a mechanism, how to make it, and even some problem solving.

SCC Demo
SCC Samples

The Unexpected:

My weekend stay in Pittsburgh was extended when my sister connected me with the art teacher at the high school where she teaches.  I met Ms. Hess, who was excited to have someone show her 3D classes, who have completed some jewelry projects, another aspect of jewelry making.  We decided on a quick and simple introduction to enameling, and after a short demo, I was managing kiln traffic.  The energy and interest of the high school students surprised me, and just as with Chase's students, I think this mini intro to jewelry caught the eye of at least one college-bound student.  Unfortunately for me, these students knew their class schedules better than I and were out the door before I thought to snap a picture.

Finally, at the beginning of the month, a very unexpected email regarding a job opportunity arrived in my inbox.  Indeed, one leg of my travels this month incorporated a trip back to the coast, this time a bit farther south than New England.  I'll have more on that soon...


Kickin' Winter Blues

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Cold and cloudy, northern PA winters inevitably make me feel like hibernating, hence the double sweater combo above. Fortunately, between a bit of traveling and some very special projects, I have resisted the urge to curl up in blankets and snore the day away, unlike my cats.

Every January I count on the East Carolina University Metals Symposium to kick my winter blues.  With inspiring lectures, demos, and exhibitions, this year was no exception.  And of course, I love having the opportunity to meet and reconnect with incredible thinkers, makers, and craftspeople.  Highlights included a thoughtful artist talk by Lauren Tickle, a pin back workshop by Marissa Saneholtz, the Smitten Forum 2015 exhibition, and chatting with both Mr. Chris Hentz and Mr. Leslie LePere.

Being in North Carolina, I decided to hop on over to Asheville to see my good friend, Jo Anna Hickman, who is currently a craft fellow at Warren Wilson College.  The whipping wind of an impending snow storm kept me from exploring Asheville, but I was able to preview the craft fellows' exhibition.  I was especially delighted by the felted dress forms and mixed media Miniature Collection of Jess Self.

After a week on the road, I was ready to get back to the bench, and I had a few projects lined up!  On the docket were two custom pendants and a brooch.  I still have one pendant pending, but for now I'm happy to share what happened with that empty setting pictured above.  If you've read my post, Old Experiments, New Thoughts, you know that I am exploring empty settings and thinking about the question, "Is this seat taken?"  Although that seat was, in fact, spoken for, I had to photograph the piece before setting the enamel.  I decided to wear the brooch, on a whim, and snap a shot.  It has turned out to be one of my favorite images, and I wonder if it is because this piece now only exists as an image. . .  In any case, here is the actual, finished piece, a donation to Contemporary Craft for their annual benefit auction, Out of Hand!


Here's to this piece melting someone's heart and finding a home in a lover of the handmade!


Mindful Video


The Society for Contemporary Craft just published this great video about the exhibition Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art!  It gives you a bit of a peek at the gallery as well as thoughts from some of the participating artists and those who put the exhibition together.  If you'd like to know more about my experience at Mindful's opening weekend, please continue reading here. Be well!


Old Experiments, New Thoughts


This little piece has me so excited!  In my last post I wrote about looking for a community of makers and craftspeople.  While visiting Contemporary Craft for Mindful, I expressed this want to a few people who were able to point me in the direction of metalsmiths who teach or make at SCC's studio.  I was happy to accept an invitation to attend a meeting of the very newly formed Allegheny Metals Club.  The particular meeting I was able to attend was a pinswap; how could I resist?!  A swap like this is a great way to meet people in my field, introduce myself and the work I make, and is the best way for me to make something (relatively) quickly.  Another jump-start project was in order!  I had some ideas swirling around in my brain that I hadn't yet gotten out on paper, let alone in metal.


Those ideas started forming a few months ago when I was given a small gold ring to use for scrap because of a broken prong and missing stone.  There was something about the empty oval setting and the three remaining prongs that I found very intriguing.  I began to think about empty spaces within a jewelry context, their ambiguity, and their potential.  Is there a part missing, or is that space a placeholder?  Could the space eventually be filled, and for how long will it remain empty?  When paired with another element, I imagine these questions as a conversation, and I especially think of the question, "Is this seat taken?"

What could I pair with an empty seat to evoke the questions I had in my mind?  When I started looking through potential objects, I came across some experimental enameled tiles I made a few years ago.  Although the experiments, silver knots embedded in opaque enamel, never evolved past their sample-like nature, I never completely forgot them.  When I considered the questions I was asking, the enameled knot samples mirrored by an empty setting fit the bill.

The things that have me so excited are a handful of never-would-haves.  I never would have come to this composition when I first made the enamels, which in itself feels like an accomplishment that has been a long time coming.  There's a feeling I wanted expressed, but it needed a few years to be realized a bit more accurately.  I am satisfied with this in part because I never would have used that setting for anything, and the decision to do that comes from thoughts and questions spurred by the little gold ring.  Finally, I never would have parted so easily with something I felt so good about.  However, I was making quickly and with the intention not to keep; I didn't have the opportunity to become attached, as I so often do with my work.  The makings of successful endeavors on all fronts, I think!



Creative Community: A Need

This past weekend I had the very wonderful experience of seeing my sister read poems from her collection, MAMMAL ROOM.  It was an adventure, driving to Brooklyn and finding the funky little bar/bookshop, but I had my trusty navigator and fabulous friend, Monica, to help me out! Monica and I were fascinated by Kristen and the two other poets reading that night because, as visual artists, the poetry world was one we had not yet discovered.  It makes me happy to know there are these little pockets of poets and writers, a small community of creative people who make events like Triptych Readings happen!  It makes me happy to know that happens outside of the craft world. As part of my adventure to the big city, Monica took me to Brooklyn Metal Works, where she has a dedicated bench for making her jewels.  Right now, though, she is preparing new work for an upcoming show at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston.  We happily pushed cast parts and pieces around the table as we brainstormed and problem solved.  It was a bit like grad school again, only way more fun and with a better doughnut shop near by.

Seeing my sister read, spending time with Monica in the studio, and of course my visit to Contemporary Craft a few weeks ago has me longing for a creative community.  I did not realize how important that type of community is to me as a maker and artist because, until recently, I had not been without one.  I enjoy the energy and buzz of a studio; it encourages me to make.  I enjoy attending artist lectures and gallery openings; they encourage me to explore, read, and think critically.  And I enjoy speaking about and exhibiting my own work; it encourages me to connect with people I may not have otherwise.  Each of those points may only be scratching the surface of a larger issue for me because it is less about enjoying these aspects of community and more about needing them.  With that realization, finding a new community is something I am working toward.

In the mean time, I've been feeling like I needed to get my hands working on something new without my brain getting in the way.  A jump start project, RJM (Radical Jewelry Makeover) style, was in order!  I recombined components of a broken bracelet to create miniature pendants in gold with oxidized silver chains.  It was a good project for me: necklaces (or, not brooches), multiples (or, not just one piece), salable (or, not emotionally attached).  This may be expanded upon...but that is another post for another time.

RJM Style Jump Start

If there is one thing I know for sure, it feels good to make, and I'm going to keep on doing it!


The Story of Wishing


This brooch is called Wishing. After writing some thoughts about brooches in Why Brooches? I wanted to provide a bit of insight to this piece. It is the image you see on this website and, after all, it is a piece that contributed to the development of the brooches and objects I would make next.

In the summer of 2013 I made this brooch for my sister. It was a celebratory piece. She had just earned her MFA in poetry and would soon be moving to Boston. At that point in time, I was preparing to enter into my last year of graduate school and was, after two years, still struggling to fine tune the aesthetics of my making. But it was summer and I didn't have to worry about editing artist statements or meeting critique deadlines. I was just making, alone in the stuffy studio with the lights off. What I made was large and wearable, a piece that would call attention to itself and to the wearer.

Large, wearable, and attention grabbing had never been intentions with which I ever set out. Of course, large to me at that point in time was barely over an inch and fifteen sixteenths. However, in letting this piece breathe, by making this world just a bit larger, I began to see how those who handled it remained curious about and engaged with it. What followed was a study in form, color, and texture through the format of brooches. I was able to take what I learned in making those brooches and translate it, even if I did compress it, into my objects.

As to the title, well, I had been introduced to Neko Case's Blacklisted ten years late. But I fell hard for her music and listened to that album almost non-stop. I Wish I Was The Moon, as well as Hard Way Home by Brandi Carlile, were at the top of my playlist. Between the songs I was listening to and the observations of those who saw the brooch often comparing it to the moon, my thoughts gravitated toward the curiosity and wonder surrounding the unknown, the anticipation of meeting it, and even the wanting and wishing for it.




My older sister, Kristen, is a reader and a writer.  To be specific, she is a poet.  Collaboration has been on our minds for years, but it wasn't until last February that it finally happened.  I picked her poem, Who Needs A Stomach Except To Be In Love With A Man, and made an object to accompany it.  Here's the exciting part: Kristen's collection of poems, MAMMAL ROOM, was selected to be published by SpringGun Press!  Another exciting part: she showed them an image of the piece I made in response to her poem and they are interested in using it!  It is all very much in the works right now, but I'll be sure to update with more exciting parts as I hear about them!  And if you're on Twitter, follow Kristen at @paperalphabet.


Naughty Narrative: Lives Revealed


Naughty Narrative: Lives Revealed is an exhibition curated by Andrew Kuebeck and Danielle James that will be showing during the East Carolina University Material Topics Symposium at Art Avenue in downtown Greenville, North Carolina.

"For over a decade the lines between our private lives and the public world have become so blurred that there is now very little that one doesn’t know about or can’t discover about someone from an online search. This causes one to ask, “What is private?”, “What do I keep secret?”, and “Why am I keeping it secret?”. Naughty Narratives: Lives Revealed calls for works that deal with the precarious balance (or unbalance) found in the mixing of our private lives and public personas. Naughty Narratives: Lives Revealed seeks traditional and experimental works that deal with the politics of the public/private, secrets, personal narratives, and other “naughty” things we do everyday."

This prospectus had me so excited, because the type of work I had been making dealt exactly with that "balance (or unbalance)" of what I choose to show the public - a calm facade - versus what I feel internally - sometimes very anxious and unsettled.  Three of my objects were selected and I cannot wait for the symposium to see the show!


What Are You Thinking? Project Update


Tonight was the opening reception for the University of Massachusetts Artisanry Alumni show, What Are You Thinking?  Although there were only a few in attendance, it was great to have my work in the company of so many talented artists, and see some of the things they've been working on.

Above is the piece I made, 'Wobbly.'  A small brooch, only about 2 x 2", 'Wobbly' is the first piece I made after graduating.  I have a few more of those wobbly, moon-like rings, so this could be the start of a small series!  It felt so good to make this little piece and I look forward to more post-graduate making.


What Are You Thinking?


What Are You Thinking? is an upcoming show featuring UMass Dartmouth Artisanry alumni.   Anything goes, from a sketch, to a piece in process, to a finished work, as long as it is 6 x 6"!

Bench Shot

My brain has been occupied with a few things as of late, but this show is coming to the forefront as it is very quickly approaching!  Here are a few different things I am thinking about: Wobbly hollow formed rings, hole-y enameled domes, and...


a new place to work!  I found a small desk, but it was about ten days before I took out that Plano tackle box holding all of the essentials.  In simply setting out a few of my most basic tools, I felt a deep sense of joy and satisfaction.  With a few modifications, this little desk will be a great place to use those lovely tools and to finish the thoughts started earlier this summer!  Be sure to check back soon!