Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Well, I'm back from Artbliss in DC and I was greeted by these beautiful welcome home flowers! They look like Fall in a vase!
It sure didn't feel like Fall yet, this was the reading on my car as I was travelling in traffic on I-495 on my way to the retreat friday.

I can't say enough good things about this retreat.  Cindy and Jeanette really created a wonderful atmosphere for everyone.  The venue was intimate and conducive to friendship and learning. We felt at times like we were the only ones at the hotel! There were giveaways, great food, a meet and greet with shopping and trunk shows held in peoples' hotel rooms where we were treated to beautiful creations along with snacks and wine. It would be an understatement to say a good time was had by all!  The leaf trade was fun and some even attached their charms to bracelets and necklaces on site.

So much time and attention on both the charms and the packaging, they are so lovely!

I thought I was taking a lot of pictures but came home to find that I took a lot in class and none outside of class, so i missed pix of good friends, boohoo.
Saturday's class was Hard Candy with Melissa Manley, one of the nicest teachers I have ever had, very knowledgable and laid back. I recommend her classes to anyone if you have the opportunity.
Here is Dawn and Christine at the torches firing their enameled pieces.
I made one completed bead and 2 pair of earring components during class and I'm hooked! Torch firing was so much fun, instant gratification and the possibilities are endless!

Saturday evening I had a class with Deryn Mentock wire wrapping and using resin to create earrings.  Deryn's display at the meet and greet was like looking in a huge vintage jewelry box FULL of treasures, which made it so hard to choose but my friends and I all left with some wonderful pieces of hers! So glad that she came out to the east coast to teach us, hope to see her back again!

On Sunday I had another class with Melissa, this time creating a locket using the rolling mill and hydraulic press ( insert Tim the tool man Taylors' growl here)
I'm afraid these new toys will have to be on this years' Christmas list!

This is where the magic happens,  that is my dear friend Bette on the left,  Ann Schermo at the press and Melissa seated at the bench.

Bette and I were table mates and shopping partners in crime for all 3 classes and i'm afraid her Christmas list looks a lot like mine!

To all those who were unable to attend this year, I would definitely try to make it to next year's event! I'm looking forward to it already!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Follow your bliss!

I'm off to ArtBliss, a new retreat , to meet old and new friends and take some great classes! These are the charms I have made for our "leaf" charm swap. The backgrounds are images of Van Gogh's trees and I have attached patina'd leaves to the back of the charm and wire wrapped Czech glass leaves and flowers to the tops, there are 22 in all, each different. I will post about my adventures as soon as I get back!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Summer Ends...Fall Begins

The past 2 weeks we have celebrated many things.
The official end of summer, Labor day,  always marks the slowing down of our pace at the restaurant and is a welcome time. My daughter always has a picnic at her house and this year was no exception.  However, they surprised us with a cake in honor of our 30th anniversary and then my parents surprised us further, arriving from Florida to take part in the fun! 

Our family remembered how we enjoyed our visit to Ocracoke Island N.C. so they got together to give us a trip back whenever we can schedule it ( hoping the hurricanes leave us something to revisit!)
We spent several days at the beach soaking up the last summer had to offer. This is my favorite time at the beach, only a few people, warm water and temps in the 80's.

There are some things that never change, generation after generation
-kids will forever run away when waves approach

-They love to be buried in the sand

-they don't mind at all if you have to dig, redig and dig yet again, their little tidepool

By the third time while I was digging I asked my Mom why was i doing this again? She replied , "you are making memories" I told her to remind me of that the next morning when I couldn't move!
At one point while I was taking some pictures I heard all this ruckus behind me and turned to find that a flock of seagulls had ventured over to our cooler and stolen a bag of chocolate animal crackers and were dividing them amongst themselves. I'm sure someone has a pix of me retrieving the bag, thankfully, it hasn't surfaced!
We enjoyed the unexpected company and my parents left to return home this past sunday. On monday the 20th our son left on his first ever flight, a trip to Alaska for his new job ( started Aug 27th with LJT and associates, an electrical contracting firm for NASA, as a remote telemetrist)

He did well for his first flight and is very excited to be there. Can't wait to hear all the stories and see the pix when he returns. The aurora borealis is over where he is staying and I told him to take plenty of pix for me, i envy the opportunity! Our daughter ( pictured above with her boys) began nursing school on the 20th also. 
So we have had a busy couple of weeks and now I am playing catchup getting ready for ArtBliss this weekend, making charms for our swap and gathering tools and supplies!

So goodbye to Summer, and hello to Fall and all the adventures it holds!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life!
30 years ago today ( my we were so young then!)
Our invitation read:

This day I will marry my friend
The one I laugh with
Live for
Dream with

I am happy to say that 30 years later I still feel the same way and more!
It hasn't always been easy but i'm glad we stuck it out and worked through life's trials and are getting to share in the rewards of our hard work.
Everyday i receive a thought for the day in my inbox and ironically this is today's , I thought worth sharing-

Friendship and Love
Friendships or marriages based on "dire need" or physical security are doomed to fail if each person in the relationship does not grow beyond his or her limited ways of thinking and reacting.

The ideal relationship is one in which each partner strives to grow. It is an ever-expanding commitment, mutually supportive of healthy interdependence. A healthy relationship encourages the seeking of wider mental and spiritual horizons; it is never threatened permanently by them.

TODAY Do I give my loved ones enough room to grow? Do I encourage my friends or mate to do things without me? Am I threatened by change or do I welcome it? Do I have the courage to do things on my own, even if my loved ones do not give me support? Do I have the courage and consideration to share my changes with those I love?

Let the purpose of all marriages and friendships alike be the deepening of the spirit and the enrichment of the soul.

You are reading from the book:
The Reflecting Pond by Liane Cordes

Sunday, September 12, 2010

All The Comforts Of Home

OK, if you've been following along, you know that before I went back to school I had a business called Comforts Of Home where i made custom quilts.  Well, one of the classes I took while in school was ceramics which rekindled in me a love for all things clay.  The same year that i stopped going to school, my parents retired and moved from New Jersey to Florida.  One of the things that i purchased from them before their move was my Mom's old hobby kiln.  This is when i was making porcelain dolls for everyone and every occassion. 

 But my attention soon turned to historic pottery, predominantly redware. I loved redware. I took every opportunity to study historic pieces, travelling to museums, reading books, anything i could get my hands on.  I even timed a visit to Plimoth Plantation to coincide with our trip to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island so that i could take a pottery workshop there! Through trial and error ( lots of trial and error, there are no how to books out there for redware) I found my way through and soon hit upon a signature look. I formulated my colors and glazes and techniques to give just the appearance I longed for.  My Dad is a woodturner and made some of the wooden molds that i drape my plates over.  Soon after i began to make some of my own molds for larger pieces.  I started doing shows to sell my work and eventually in 2000 started selling online at Ebay.  From there I created my website.
My husband and I renovated an old store near our home and i moved my studio in and began working there in 2002.  I enjoyed everything about what I was doing and the ideas flowed.   Time would disappear while I was there. 

I prided myself in making original designs with lots of historical flavor and would get so annoyed and discouraged to see others copy my pieces. I guess that's what's happens when you put your work out there on the net as so many artists have found. But I had a loyal following and was very grateful for everyone's support.  One of my original ideas was that i would do patriotic pieces and fire them in the kiln on the 4th of July each year. These pieces all were marked with my original Fire-Works signature. It was the only time i would do patriotic themed pieces.

 My pottery actually carried us through a dark time when we had the fire at our restaurant in Nov of 2003 until we reopened in April of 2004.
 I continued to work in my studio along with the restaurant until 2008 when my second grandchild was born.  My daughter could no longer work in the office with the 2 children ( my grandaughter would come to work with her, but 2 would be too hard to do).  I couldn't do both anymore either. Pottery takes a considerable chunk of time that i no longer had.

Feel that wind blowing again?  What did John Lennon say "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans"?  I have always loved that saying,  just never expected it to be my theme song!!
If you were to go into my studio this day, you would find pieces of pottery, drape molded trenchers and plates and other goodies just sitting there on the table awaiting my return!

I had to find a new creative outlet, one that would allow me to work a little here and there , leave and come back to it and not lose the piece as I would with pottery.
I started to learn jewelry techniques and am expanding on my skills all the time. I have learned lampworking, metalsmithing, cast and fused glass. I have 5 kilns to my name.

This is where you came in...with my first post, here on this blog in June,  "just who do i think I am?" 

In recapping my life thus far i have found out certain things.
  • I Love all things historical
  •  I love glass in all it's forms, mosaics, lampwork, glass glazes on clay, glass enamels on metal, fused glass, stained glass, roman glass, czech glass,  sea glass, you name it, glass wins me every time!
  • I have to be authentic, original
  • I love to learn
  • I. have. to. create. something. all. the. time.
  • I am strong. determined. ambitious.
Now to take everything I know and find my direction!

P.S. I had a small epiphany last night after writing this post. I started to see very clearly why I am finding myself  unsure of my direction. My husband has questioned whether I may be in the wrong medium. I considered that as well but I think it might be more this- as i look back over everything I have done, with each endeavor I started with an idea, a vision, a passion.  I did all the legwork myself, teaching myself what i needed to know and finding my way through all my ideas. 
 With jewelry it has been just the opposite. I have started with classes, instructions in techniques and all the technical aspects of the trade.  I am struggling to find my own way with this medium.
The one series that I did that was original work of mine, Vintage Metamorphosis, I created in 2008 and had copyrighted in March 2009.  I want what i had with all the other work that I have done, a look of my own, identifiable as my own, not just as a student of someone else. Perhaps this will require nothing more than what i gave to everything else, time and effort. I used to have a lot more time to "just be" in my studio. I think that is what is most needed here. Time alone in my studio to think through ideas and find my own way again. With this medium or maybe even another, who knows? That is where my muse resides and I trust she will guide me yet again.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Backstory Next Chapter

I had hoped to complete all of my backstory during the course of the summer, but if I plan on keeping that promise to myself I have a lot of catching up to do!
When I last wrote I spoke of changes afoot.  I decided that I wanted to pick up a few classes at a local university, some things that would help me take my design ability up a notch or 2. So I enrolled as a "non-traditional" student and signed up for 2 classes, Color Theory and principles of Design.  I figured I could apply both of these to my quilt design. The year was 1990 and my son was just 19 mos old and my daughter was in elementary school. I would drop her off, head up to school ( an hour away) and be back in time to pick her up. 
 As it turned out, these were the best 2 starter classes I could have chosen, I LOVED them!  At the end of the semester, my professor approached me and said" I would like to see you apply to go out for the Fine Art program, I think you have what it takes to be really successful.  "Who Me? Are you talking to me? Really????  It would entail getting a portfolio ( Oh yes, say it's true!) together of my work and submitting it for review along with the application.   Happily I was accepted.
The thing that separated the Art degree from a Fine Art degree was the degree of work involved! Each semester I had to do an independent study that i received no credit for but which was required.  My Area director as he was called, told me he would like to see me advance my design ability by either making non traditional quilts or make traditional quilts in a non traditional way.  What??? He suggested I sew quilts out of paper or something like that.  Uhh, I don't think so, not for me. But I pondered the suggestion over the summer and came up with an idea of my own. I would make quilts out of my own handmade paper. 

Transforming from traditonal to non traditional
In those days not much was available concerning handmade paper and the books that i had to search and learn from were very old and very few.   Step by step i experimented with different materials,  tweaking and refining my methods until I found what worked.  My first piece looked like a sheet of dryer lint!  Once I hit on the process I was off and running. The designs and ideas were just flowing through me and i couldn't realize them fast enough.

At the end of my second year in school, my area director told me he felt I deserved a show of my own and arranged for me to meet with the gallery curator who agreed. I was set to have a show of my own at the start of the new school year in the university gallery.

Please forgive the quality of these pix as they are scans of the originals taken at that time.

It was my so called 15 minutes of fame. The local TV stations came and interviewed me, articles were written in the local papers. I was entering shows and winning ribbons, it was all very exciting. And very exhausting. I was being torn between following my ambitions and keeping my attentions on my young family.

I wasn't willing to compromise on anything.  I was trying to juggle being the perfect mother, wife, housewife and artist.  It was only a matter of time before I hit the proverbial breaking point.  I was set to start my 6th semester when I came to the decision to stop going to school. It was 1993, My son was about to turn 4 and would only have one year before he was in school full time and I felt I was going to regret not being home with him more.  It wasn't the amount of time I was attending school, it was the demands to do all the extra work. I was distracted half the time with projects and reports and homework so that even when i was here i really wasn't all here with them.  It was one of the hardest decisions i have ever made in my life and to this day a part of me regrets the decision i made. Not because i chose my family over my own ambitions, but because when i was there I felt i was in my element, I belonged there. I belonged to be doing what i was doing. I was good at it. I left school with a 4.0 GPA.

I continued to learn and create on my own. I was a member of the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Old Town Alexandria and was juried into many shows, winning ribbons and a place in what was known as the Bin Gallery there.  Every month a friend of mine from school and i would go out there, work the jurying process for our membership and come back home the same day.  I did handmade paper, silkscreen prints, Polaroid image transfers, art quilts, Ukrainian eggs, & porcelain dolls. I went into the schools and taught what i knew, handmade paper and Ukrainian eggs to classes from second grade to high school. I always taught my children any new skill I had acquired.  Both of them won acclaim with their image transfers and photography.

It wouldn't be long before the winds of change would blow through my life again.

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