Tag Archives: artists

Some of My Favorite Things



From an Old House-Joseph Cornell

I love to make jewelry but it wasn’t my first love. I studied drawing and painting as an undergraduate. I attended grad school believing I would continue that path. In graduate school a huge part of the curriculum are Critique Classes in which artists of all genres are mixed together. We “show” our pieces several times during the semester and are showered with compliments or beaten to pulp with criticism. (I was the beneficiary of the latter.) It was in these classes that I discovered my affinity for tactile items and a fascination with 3 dimensional objects. I was very fortunate to find two professors who encouraged me to move in that direction.

I miss my studio. Most of my jewelry making is on the floor of my living room. Jewelry is wonderful because it doesn’t take a lot of space and you can easily put it all away when you are finished. Jewelry does give me the satisfaction of creating. I am thankful for that.


Monogram – Robert Rauschenburg

Flag painting

Three Flags-Jasper Johnes

In the mean time, I collect objects that inspire me or remind me of long past memories. I paint on little pieces of wood and I gather wooden containers. Cigar boxes, ornate cabinets, wine boxes, anything that can hold other objects of my affection. I haven’t figured out how to make it all work together, but I know I will.
Joseph Cornell’s work had a profound influence on me as well as the work of Robert Rauschenburg and Jasper Johns. I will never forget the day I went to Houston to “just see art” and realized that there was a Robert Rauschenburg Retrospective going on at galleries all over the city. It was a religious experience! Seeing all of the work I loved and adored up close, I felt like I could smell the paint.

I will never forget that all consuming sense of being an artist and what I would be driven to do for the rest of my life .
Here are some of my favorite things.

frames, paintings

Frames, Cabinet and small paintings.


Boxes and things I’ve collected to use.


Buttons, Bye Gone


Buttons Bygone, brass charm bracelet

It’s finished! The bracelet that took forever is finally finished and listed on etsy. This project was really tough for me. It required a lot of planning and executing. There are 25 individual pieces on it. Nine are hand-crafted findings. Creating those findings took quite a bit of experimentation to get the look and length I wanted.

I’m not complaining by any means. I know it takes time and effort to accomplish your goal. I’ve learned that time and time again with running and weight lifting. You can not make your objectives happen over night. There is no amount of hoping and praying that will work. You must put in the time and dedicate yourself to the task at hand.

Buttons Bygone is a piece that I’m really proud of. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and I’m super excited to do it again. Attaching the charms to the chain will be less time-consuming now that I know the proper way to do it. There is a method. I’m inspired. I can’t wait to go out this weekend and look for charms and items I can make into charms.

I have to admit, I am a little sad about giving up the buttons. I have a bad habit of getting attached to certain objects. The look or feel of an item will appeal to me. Sometimes it’s because I bought it at an estate sale and I feel like I know the person who used to own it. They kept for a reason and although I don’t know their reason, it makes it special to me. Other objects come from a thrift or antique store. I’ve made friends with the owners so I think of them when I see the objects and that gives them meaning.

Brass Buttons

Maybe I’m just a sentimental person, but I think that describes most artists and in particular jewelry artists. You are making pieces for people to adorn their body. Most jewelry is given for a reason or sentiment. It only makes sense that jewelry pieces have meaning.

Ultimately, I’m glad I was able to finish because now I’m ready for a new challenge. Like any good race, you savor the ecstasy of the moment you finished. You enjoy bragging rights for day or two. Then it’s back to work. It’s the same for artists.

So bye-bye buttons….Be gone! Bring on the next challenge…

Buttons Bygone, a labor of love and learning...

The Pinnacle Moment


Black n Blue cluster ring

Sometimes as an artist you find yourself where and when you least expect it. You work and work and make a lot unique pieces. You explore different materials, styles and genres trying to figure out what you and your work are about. Then there’s a day when something you created provides you with divine insight and you understand who you to the core. It’s profound.

I began retailing my jewelry on Friday. The salon where I have my hair done also carries a variety of accessories. My stylist suggested that I bring some to her to sell. I had my hair done that day and took 10 pieces with me to sell.

I’ve learned that I’m not ready for retail, especially the display part of the business. I made my cards and tied and taped my jewelry on to them with hand-written descriptions. Hopefully the jewelry will speak for itself. Removing almost half of my pieces from my etsy shop left it quite empty. I also sold a piece on Thursday to a friend. YEA!!!

Leaf and Tiger Dangles, earrings

This created a situation in which I had to pump out the pieces. I completed 4 rings on Saturday with some new black coated copper wire that I bought from Sea of Beads. I really like the way they look and I especially love the back in black ring.

Back in Black ring

Sunday was earring day. I began by cleaning my desk and organizing tools, beads, buttons, keys and wire. I found two navy blue buttons in the back of my top desk drawer. The feel and color of the buttons caught my attention, so I made a mental note. I also organized my loose chain. This is like trying to pull apart live snakes, maybe not as dangerous, but just as frustrating. I separated this beautiful brass chain that I had bought because the chain was rustic and looked hand hammered. The horrid large blue pendent was obviously a later addition.

As the earring making frenzy started, I remembered the little blue beaded bracelet I found on Saturday at a sale. I bought it with several other pieces and added it to the pile. On closer investigation, I realized that the bracelet was a hodge podge of vintage blue glass beads on brass wire rigged together with the icky plastic sun charm. I love it when you uncover something really special.

Black and White Dangles, earrings

I created 5 pair of earrings before I was mentally exhausted. The silver pairs are nice, well thought-out designs, executed to the best of my ability. The brass earrings with the red crystal leaves and tiger crystals are another example. The beads were purchased at various bead stores because they appealed to me. The chain and jump rings were obtained in a similar fashion.

Hematite Dangles, earrings

I find myself drawn to the brass chain earrings with the buttons and the beaded chain earrings. It’s a gut reaction that words can’t describe. I used the items I most adored and that had a history to them. The thought process while creating them was completely different. I didn’t analyze or fuss with the design. What I discovered is that these two pair of earrings are true expressions of me. They encompass the materials I love to use, the way I love to work, my philosophy of re-purposing and a deep appreciation of things that have history.

Blue Button Dangles, earrings

It’s the pinnacle moment when you say to yourself DAMN! This is what I’m about.

I realize that this is just a moment. Ten years from now, I may be influenced and inspired by different materials and objects. As an artist you always want to be growing and progressing. I know that I will take this moment with me and it will make me a better artist, not just because I had it, but because I took the time to realize it. Keep working for your pinnacle moment. It’s humbling and exciting at the same time. I just wanted to share mine.Blue Bead Dangles, earrings



The brass chain

Charm bracelets are hard to make. I’ve been working on the same one for several days. I have an idea in my head and I have some awesome charms, buttons and beads to add to it. I just can’t seemed to place the items on the chain in a pattern that suits me.

1 option


It’s much easier when you make a beaded bracelet and can make a patten with the beads or just add them randomly using color or size as a guide.

A necklace is simple because their is one focal point, the front of the chest. The catch is almost always in the back so it’s usually not a consideration in the design. Every once in a while you will see a toggle or a lobster claw as part of the “front” of a design.

Another option

A bracelet is in the round so the focal point changes depending on how it’s resting on the wrist. The catch has to be incorporated into the design because it’s always visible.

Honesty, I’ve probably made 10 different bracelets in my attempt to complete this one. I’ve used a lot of metal making connectors. I consider that practice, although I hate to waste supplies. I’ve added and removed buttons and beads so many times I’ve lost count.

Red flat beads

Finishing this bracelet will happen. The labor costs alone on this piece are ridiculous which leaves me no choice. For this reason the labor will now be referred to as “schooling”. I hope my “schooling” paves the way for many new designs that happen a little faster.

Another idea

I’ve never been one to begrudge gaining knowledge through experience. New things take time to learn and it’s not a wasted effort for me. I do know chained is where I’ll be until I find the key, or figure out how to make this damn bracelet work.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon


In my garage sale and estate sale adventures, I’ve gained quite a bit of knowledge. I garage sale/estate sale to get about 80% -90% of the items I use in my jewelry making, painting, sculpture and crafting. I would like to share some of my finds and the lessons I’ve learned.

There is an art to getting good stuff at a good price…Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

This past weekend, I bought approximately, 30 tubes of acrylic paint, including some of the larger tubes for $5.00. The seller wanted 25 cents per tube. I took the time to count them all, let him know the total and asked for a bulk discount. I got 33% off and a nice rubbermate container to take them away. Someone’s craft gone bad turned into my painting booty. SCORE!

Acrylic Paints

Lesson: Buy in bulk or bundle. The more you buy, the less the seller has to carry back into their house. When buying 5 or more items, always ask for a price break. On more than one occasion, after I paid for my purchase, the seller would remember another 1 or 2 items that went with what I was buying, find it for me, and give it to me.

A couple of weekends ago, I came across a honeyhole of jewelry. Unfortunately, the seller had lost his Mother and he was selling off all of the items the family did not want. I gathered several sterling charms, chains and complete necklaces along with some quality costume jewelry pieces. I asked him how much for everything and just when I was about to say a price, he said $3. OKAY!!! I was going to offer $5 and go up a bit if I had to.

Broken copper necklace

Broken copper necklace

Lesson: Let the seller offer the first price. You can always negotiate to get the price lower or accept the offer. By speaking first, you put a price in the seller’s head and worse, let them know how much it’s worth to you.

At a flea market, I picked up several necklaces and asked the seller how much? She quoted me anywhere from $5 – $10. I passed on them because all I really wanted was the chain. I kept searching and I came across a gorgeous brass linked chain, no pendent or findings. When I inquired about it, the seller said $1. That was the one piece I bought. I found a beautiful cooper chain with and ugly purse charm at another booth. The chain was broke. I asked the seller how much and when he noticed it was broke, he offered to give it to me. I gave him a quarter for the piece. I was just happy to get it. SMILE!

Brass chain

Lesson: Look for quality items that are broke and or missing a piece. Sellers will always make a deal on them or even give them to you. They feel a little guilty about broken items or items missing parts and this is your advantage. I ALWAYS buy single earrings. Most of the time, they will give it to me because there’s no match. If happens to be sterling or gold, I get it for fifty cents or less.

Sterling single earrings

I bought a perfect, unused wine bottle opener for ten cents last weekend. It was a garage/estate sale and the family members who were running the sale, had everything priced to go. Various candles and glass vases were 5 or 10 cents each.

Lesson: Carry change with you including dimes and nickles. People use the garage sale stickers and those packages includes 5 and 10 cent stickers. If you only have quarters, you are asking the seller to break a quarter or keep the change. The bad is that you buy additional items to use the entire quarter. It’s also good go carry ones and fives so that you can give exact change. It’s just bad karma to give someone a ten to pay when you bargained them down to seven. Twenties suck because you take all of the sellers change, making later sales harder when they have no ones or fives. Again, it’s a karma thing. DO NOT give someone a twenty when your purchase is less than $5.

Rule of Thumb: When you walk up to a sale in which clothing is on hangers and hung from sleeveless to long sleeves, every item including pencil erasers have tags on them, and items are organized on tables according to type and kind…BEWARE. This will be the sale with the highest prices (99% of time). You are buying their beloved items that they have decided to part with and are allowing you to have. There is a surcharge for them being so anal and taking the time to sort and price each perfectly intact individual item. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a deal, but it won’t be easy, proceed with caution.

Estate Sales: Put yourself on their mailing list so you know when they are happening. You also get to preview the items before the sale opens to the public. Keep a mental note of the items you are interested in when you do the walk-thru and only buy the ones you think are super duper special. Go the last day of the sale when everything is 50% – 75% off. That’s the deal day.

Chained, new earrings with brass, garnet and crystals

I wish you much luck and lots of fun when you go out and find your treasures. It doesn’t hurt to have a shopping list so you don’t get distracted by all of the deals you could make. When the sales aren’t all that great, don’t force it and buy something you may regret. Go to your local art supply, jewelry supply or craft store and check out what’s on sale. Window shop and gain inspiration to fuel your next g-sale outing!

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon!

The first cut is the deepest


I’m always looking for new ways to express myself. I crochet, make over fashion dolls, cook, make jewelry, and paint. I give myself a new challenge and I go for it. No fear! I’ve decided that I enjoy blogging so much, I want to write. I’ve written a few short stories here and there and all of the obligatory papers and reports for grad and undergrad classes. I now dare myself to write at least 1 maybe 2 short stories in the next few months. I have a goal of getting an article in a lifestyle magazine and possible a few short stories published. I live in Austin and we are an extremely literate town (although, while on the college campus, you might think otherwise).

Passion, new ring in bronze

Why do I think I can write? It’s not that I think I’m an expert in a certain field or that my observations are completely brand new. I would never be a critic! I do believe I have a unique way of seeing things and therefore, writing about them. All anyone can tell me is no. No doesn’t hurt. I’ve learned that you mine as well do what you want. Life is too short to let anyone stop you, a lesson I learned in a very hard way, while in Graduate school. I did my undergraduate work at UT Austin. We focused the cognitive part of art creation, artistic philosophies and executing our ideas. Students worked in a variety of art forms and traditions, including performance, installation and video. It was an extremely nurturing environment.

We choose to go to graduate school in Nacogdoches, located in East Texas, about 1 1/2 hours from the Louisiana border. I got in by the skin of my teeth because I had a good GED score and great recommendations from my former professors. The faculty hated my portfolio! I should have known then and there that the fit for me in the program would not be easy. I was young, full of my artist ego, and 100% naive.

Sunny, new ring in gold

My artwork was constantly challenged on the merits of craftsmanship, how it was hung or installed and the feminist ideas driving the work. I took my fair share of verbal beatings in formal critiques as well as some extra ones thrown in here and there in my studio. I have to admit, I did have a couple of incredible professors, who understood what I was doing, supported my work, and even defended it. I choose 3 of these people to serve on my committee for my thesis. These would be the people to lead me to artistic victory in the department. I had a very successful Master’s exhibition. This was the final piece to the puzzle of having your thesis accepted. My written thesis proposal had been accepted and I passed orals. I made it through all the bs and now I just had to work on my art.

The morning after my exhibition, I bounded into the chairman’s office ready to hear my accolades, finally! I had the few normal detractors (As an artist, not everyone will love your work. That’s just the way it is.) My thesis committee gave me glowing reviews, well 2 of them did. One was quoted for saying I was one of the smartest people to ever come through the program. WOW! But, he continued to say that after seeing my show, he didn’t know if he can further support my work or my thesis! WTF!!!! I left from the office and almost wrecked my bike on the way home. The tears streaming from my eyes blinding me and the horrible hyperventilating that comes from crying so hard, strangling me at the same time. I was destroyed!

Rumors later surfaced that the person who once loved me and now seemed to think I was crap, had a bad opening for his show the weekend before. To his credit, he is a master painter of still life and continues to teach, paint and exhibit his work in galleries throughout Texas. I guess we all have our bad days, but if this was indeed the case and I got blasted for his failings, then I don’t have much respect for him. If he honestly believed my show sucked, he should have been thoughtful enough to speak to me in private before I heard it from the chairman. I survived the ordeal and found another great person to serve on my committee. My resolve was stronger and words like his would never cut so deep again. Those wounds are now calluses.

I’m not scared to do what I want because I learned to survive the haters. They are everywhere and it’s best to let them be the fuel to your fire. I will write and I will be published because I want it and I’m not afraid to go out and get it. Rejection is part of the process and whatever doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger. You can’t let fear of approval and harsh words keep you in a cage or stop you in your tracks.

Give the bird to the naysayers when they try to hold you down. They can stand there and watch as you fly away!

Ocean, new ring in gold

Spinning Out of Control


The perfect spin.

Think of a spinning top. When it first starts, it spins very fast and stays in one place. As it continues to spin, it slows, wobbles, spins out of control, and falls over. I haven’t fallen over yet.

I stared with a ton of energy. I created a lot of pieces, set-up my etsy store and started a blog. I accomplished all of the back end work that needed to be done. I made logos and banners and posted pictures and wrote profiles. I was completely driven to make all of this happen. It’s all up and running now and at this point, I find myself slowing down and getting wobbly.

Ballchain, earrings with cloisonne and chain

I will find the mojo to spin fast again! There is so much that must be done. It’s almost the weekend and that always rejuvenates me. On Saturdays, I go to garage and estate sales and I visit my local bead shops for supplies and inspiration. This is my auger. (The metal shaft that you pump to make the top spin.) I wish I had more of these days per week as a way to wind myself up more often.

Dangles on the Dark Side, earrings with black rhinestones

I continue to design more pieces and I’m full of ideas. This is a definite plus. It’s natural to have a humongous amount of momentum at the beginning. As time ambles on, if we’re not consistently gathering our forces, momentum slows, we loose our balance and, topple over. I’m the type of person that recognizes whats happening, says it aloud and then holds myself accountable for taking care of business. I will spin out of control, but I will not topple!

Dangles 3.1 chain, garnet,glass crystals

An interesting fact is that the top is one of the oldest recognizable toys found in archeology. They developed independently all over the world. I find it interesting that a top is a perfect metaphor for our lives as artists and people all over the world and for a very long time have concurred. Keep spinning my friends.

The slow, wobble spin.