Monday, November 20, 2006


In general, I am working non-stop. In my studio creating. On the computer writing, reading, researching, number crunching. I wake up with ideas in my head that I want to explore and create. There is a fertility to my creativity right now that blows me away.
But now and then, the slump settles in. Often, as now, it is when I am feeling under the weather. Or after a lousy show. I begin to question what has been a relentless motion forward. Am I heading in the right direction? Or am I just moving without enough consideration for where I am going?
At these times, I look at my work with nothing but critical eyes. It is hard for me to see where I thought I was going with a piece, because it now just feels wrong. One minute I am in love with the work, and the direction it is taking. The next it is all wrong. In need of a complete overhaul.
What I have learned is that there is some truth and some exaggeration in all this. Sometimes these periods of slowing down and questioning, being critical, can be the most helpful in moving my work forward in the more subtle but important ways. I start to pay more attention to the finer details. Asking myself if it could be better, and how I could do that. I am not riding the big wave now. I am looking into the tide pool. A careful study. Looking to find the details that have been elusive in the wild ride.
Sometimes this period feels completely unproductive. But often, I feel re-energized when I emerge with a deeper understanding. My skills grow. My attention is sharper. Pausing can sometimes make you feel like you are going backwards after flying at a rapid pace. The change in momentum can be so drastic. But in the end, it is necessary for growth.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Walking the Dog

About three and a half years ago, I gave in to the relentless begging of my daughter, and we adopted a dog. She is part terrier, and part something. She is the ultimate shaggy dog, but with adrenaline. With a lot of time and patience, she has come to be a mostly well behaved dog.

It is my job to walk the dog in the morning, and at night, and if my daughter is not around to walk her in the afternoon. Some days I hate this task. I have things to do. It is raining, or cold, or I am just plain tired. But then when I get outside, for all but a few days of the year, my grumpiness shifts.

Sometimes it is just getting out and walking that can erase a grumpy mood. But usually it is just because each day is different. The temperature, the brightness of the day, or of the moon. I am still stunned at those times when the moon is full and high, at how bright it is. For so many years, when I was out at night, I was rushing from a building to a car. Not really noticing my surroundings, or how they changed. But that act of going out everyday and everynight, shifts the perception. Subtle changes become more pronounced.

Today I was noticing how the wind of a week ago has wiped out virtually all the leaves on the trees. Neighbors, and my husband, were out over the weekend, raking up the leaves. Gardens have been put to bed, so to speak. The debris of the the brilliant flora of the summer, is now faded, wilted, and removed.

My garden is quite a bit messier. I have less time to tend to my garden these days. I let the wilted foliage lie. Ultimately turning into food for the next year's growth. I try and remove some of the weeds, and clean it up a bit. But all in all, the skeletons are left to rot, slowly, over the winter. I use to view this with guilt. Another sign of my inadequacy. But over the last two years, the garden comes back anew. If anything bigger and stronger than the last year. The earthworms are thriving when I dig into the soil.

What is the point of all this rambling? I guess the realization that even in a life that is full beyond capacity with things that have to get done, there is room for quiet observation. That sometimes all the things we think need to get done are self created work, that isn't really as essential as we think. A little perspective for me, and maybe for you as well.

Friday, November 3, 2006


Today is one of those days where I feel like I have way too many balls up in the air, and that half of them are crashing down on the ground, bouncing around me. But then again, this time of year it is almost inevitable.

A show next weekend. Wholesale orders for the cranes. My daughter's birthday tomorrow. A friend's show to visit this weekend. An article to write. Show applications to send in. Another piece to send off for photography. All good things...great things actually. But there is hardly time to savor the experience, let alone breathe and get the kids off to school, homework done, fed, showered, etc., etc. The last few months has been a tsunami of opportunities and creative growth. But sometimes I want the pace to slow down enough to really register what is going on.
Three years ago I did my first craft show. A "juried" show in the loosest of terms. I was on the front end of the learning curve, but already, I knew, and customers knew, this was not the right show for me. So I have worked slowly up the ladder. Finding, and getting into better and better shows. Gaining confidence in the whole process of doing shows.
Three years ago I began selling my work in a local museum that sold work of members and other local artists. Then another gallery took in some of my work....pens, clocks and bottle stoppers. Things I no longer even make. Now my work is in nearly thirty galleries across the country. I will be doing my first wholesale show next spring.
Three years ago I was reading magazines and books about polymer clay, jewelry and craft business, absorbing as much as I could. Experimenting and discovering everyday in my studio. Today, my work has been in numerous magazines, and I have won several awards, and I am still in that studio nearly everyday, experimenting and discovering.
Three years may see like eons to my kids. But for me, my head is spinning at how this has all happened so fast. I have worked long and hard over those three years. But it has been driven by a passion for what I am doing and a desire to get it out into the world and share it with others.
I had several other jobs/careers along the way before I stumbled into this gig. Nothing has ever come together in this way before in my life. Of course, I can see so many things in my past that have helped me in this journey. Skills I have added to my repetoire or knowledge I have gained that have helped me find my way now.
I still feel like I am at the beginning of this journey, and that there is so much more to discover. But I am grateful to be right here, right now, doing what I am doing, and being able to share it with others.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Open See

Twice a year, Henri Bendel in NYC, hosts an "Open See". This is an opportunity for designers of clothing, jewelry, handbags, accessories, and giftware to present their work to a buy from the fabled department store. The most recent event was this past Monday, from 9 AM to noon.

I had heard about this event about two years ago. But each time I looked into it, it seems, the event had just occurred within the last week or two. Well, last Thursday I decided to check and see when it was happening again. In four days. My DH agreed to get the kids off to school in the morning and be there in the afternoon, if need be. Another artist friend volunteered to make the trip down to NYC with me. All my excuses were evaporating as fast as I could list them. So, I hit my studio, and barely emerged for the next few days. By Sunday night I had some new pieces of jewelry, and I packed up several cranes and vessels for good measure. And finally, at 11:30 went to bed for a few hours.

Three AM seems like the middle of the night....because it is! What was I thinking!? But as DH so generously reminded me, I had someone waiting for me. So into the shower, and out of the house by 3:30. Not another sole on the road for the 1/2 hour ride to Deb's house.

The trip down was suprisingly easy, and we had lots to talk about. There is nothing like a road trip to have time to talk. By a little after 8 AM we were in line. The line had now traveled up to Park Avenue, and turned back down 55th. Tired and anxious people were lining up, holding various bags, or keeping a close eye on their racks loaded down with garment bags. It was pretty clear that this event was a big draw for the jewelers and clothing designers. But here and there, there was someone with a rolling bag full of handbags, or various gifts.

My friend Deb stood out in the crowd, and drew double takes on our walk from E63rd. Her brightly colored brooms brought smiles to the serious New Yorkers all along the path. Of course the look was re-inforced by Deb's brighly colored skirt. Color seems to be absent from NY in the fall. The greys of the buildings, pavement and curbs are repeated in the blacks, greys and navys of the average person walking the streets. You can see more of Deb's fun and funky work at her website,

Promptly at 9 AM the line took a sudden surge forward, as they began to let people in. The next thing we knew we were standing on Park Avenue. Someone from H. Bendel was walking the line, looking for people with handbags, gifts, accessories, or skincare items. This was Deb's call. She got to move to the front of the line, and I got a chance to meet my two neighbors behind me in line,....both jewelers of course.

The line moved ahead every few minutes. Not too much later we were starting down E 56th St. And then Deb was back. A smile on her face, as always, but no order...."they need the right contextual environment"...translation, not the right venue. But all the positive feedback she had gotten and continued to get as she rejoined me in line, was well worth the trip. As she said, "I'm not going anywhere without my brooms again."

The Bendel rep was again scouring the line for giftware, accessories, etc. This time I was able to move ahead, in spite of the fact that jewelry was my primary work. I felt just a twinge of guilt as I moved to the head of the line, and went inside the doors. I was directed downstairs, and then in line again, near the employees lockers. Soon there was another call in this line for those with gifts. Once again, I was able to move ahead. The next stop was a sign in table. Clipboards were set up for each category. I signed in for jewelry and giftware, and again was whisked past the next and shortest line, to the two buyers without an anxious artist in front of them.
They perked right up as I approached, and were ready to listen. I had postcards ready. This gave them a quick preview of what was to come, as I talked and opened my case to take out my work for viewing. First were the cranes, and then the vessels. Questions, feedback, more questions, and ....who knows? It was not a no. It was not a yes. But they wanted my contact information, and we will see if anything more comes of it.
Deb and I, and several other artists had been meeting for about a year, following Alyson Stanfield's Art Salon program Each time we met, we rehearsed our elevator speech. Suddenly, this part that we wanted to skip over seemed so much more valuable. I was silently thanking Amy for pushing us to do this. And for my friends/fellow artists for their feedback that helped me refine my intro.
The meeting with the giftware buyers took all of a few brief moments, and then it was back in line...a short line, to wait for the buyer of jewelry. I was happy about how the previous meeting had gone, and now looked forward to showing my jewelry. I met a no. "Not what our customers are looking for..too contemporary, arty....." It was okay. I had been given a chance to do something few people get, or take the chance to do. Show my work to a buyer from Henri Bendel in New York City. I still loved my work, and do not feel like I need to go in a completely new direction because they did not take my work. I took a chance. And in the end, that is what it is all about. Puting yourself out there. Maybe being rejected, but maybe not. Stay tuned about the giftware......