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SNAG Loop – Chicago May 2019

Each year I try to attend the annual conference of the Society of North American Goldsmiths aka SNAG.  Since the first time I joined this group, I’ve felt like they are my art jewelry tribe and each year my friendships there deepen. This was my fifth time, so I did a few Instagram posts to cover the highlights, follow the links in the images to see more.

I’m really excited looking forward to next year when the SNAG conference will be taking place here in Philadelphia!





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Life Rolls On

I usually describe myself as a jewelry artist and educator. There’s so much to the many jobs and roles I play in both my personal life and my community. In the last year my life has been shaken up a bit on the transitions of life.

Losing my friend Sophia spring gave me a wake up call that our life can end at any time, a lesson we all come to learn at some point. My father’s illness dominated most of Fall 2018 with my sisters and I attending to his direct care on a daily basis in addition to keeping up with our own lives. He passed just after New Years and the fragility of my mother’s condition immediately moved to the forefront. Several hospital stays, heart catherizations, weekly blood counts and she seemed to stabilize about mid March.

Then a call from Florida that rocked our world. My former husband, Lary passed in his sleep, a tragic surprise to everyone that knew him. We have not been together for fifteen years, but this loss hit me in the heart, both for my kid and for me. He was such an influence on my life and although we were no longer a couple, I thought of him as a friend.

With all this going on in the background of my life, my work continued. I’m continually refining my offerings of Fair Winds Jewelry and designed a new line of earrings based on the shapes of ships hulls during my father’s illness. I exhibited at CraftBoston Holiday in December and then the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore in February. Both shows were successful thanks to new pieces that were both hand fabricated in sterling silver and hand-dyed in 3D printed nylon.

And of course teaching continues to be a vocation for me. I taught Digital Object Design at Towson university this past Fall as well as CAD (Computer Aided Design) II at Tyler School of Art. In the Spring, I taught CAD I & CAD II at Tyler. I’m constantly inspired and impressed by the imagination of my students. I’ll post some of their work shortly.

I have continued to be the coordinator for Tacony LAB Community Arts Center. Scheduling and teaching classes, facilitating open studio times, organizing exhibitions and continuing to engage the community in arts is my daily mission there.

I hope this summary of where things are rolling with Fair Winds Jewelry and myself will serve as an introduction to the good things to come. Keep on reading!

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Just Call me Celembrimbor

Happy Birthday!

For Lord of the Rings fanatics like myself, September 22 is Bilbo and Frodo’s Birthday.

Custom ring with powder coat inlay

I’ve always felt that my journey as a jeweler started with these books as I first read them back when I was an apprentice jeweler in high school. I fancied myself as Celembrimbor, the ancient elvish smith who made the 3 Elvish rings worn by Gandalf, Galadriel and Elrond.
Although this is older custom work, I’ve always loved the visual quality of the Elvish letters.

Custom pendant reading the work Precious in Tengwar letters.

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It’s your Jewelry- why should you care?

It’s important to safeguard your sterling silver jewelry from the atmosphere. It is also a good idea to have it checked periodically by a qualified jewelry to inspect for wear and tear and prevent damage.

The care of your jewelry is something that every jewelry owner should keep in mind. At Fair Winds Jewelry, we distribute a small note with your purchase to remind you about how to store and care for your new piece of jewelry art.

Because most of Fair Winds Jewelry is hand made from fine silver, sterling silver or hand dyed 3D printed materials that sometimes include sterling silver details, it is packaged in a resealable plastic bag. When you aren’t wearing your jewelry it should reside in this bag.

The reason for this is because tarnish is a result of the silver reacting with the oxygen in the atmosphere. Although some portions of our sterling silver designs are intentionally oxidized to appear dark, you want to keep your silver bright.

Whenever any of your jewelry needs to be cleaned we are happy to perform that service free of charge. Having your jewelry professionally cleaned is always a good idea as a professional jeweler is qualified to check the integrity of stone settings and check for stress cracks, as well as cleaning and polishing your pieces to look like new.

So why should you care for your jewelry? Because it is a personal expression of who you are.

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An Ancient Viking Ship in Modern Times

The swooping hull forms and the blocks on the end of the spars in this piece were influenced by my visit to the Draken Harald Harfarge.

It is possible to view ancient Viking ships in person in museums like the Viking Ship Museum in Olso, Norway.  Their amazing preservation after being buried for centuries helps us to understand their construction and design. Although I personally have not visited these ships, many others have and there are many resources online for research which I have used in my work.

In Fall 2016, I was about halfway through grad school and I was working on a body of work based on the forms of traditional ships, I came across an amazing video showing the construction of a modern version of a Viking longship. The Draken Harald Hårfagre was designed using a combination of designs using artifacts in museums along with the shipbuilding traditions of Scandinavia, this ship was built from May 2010 – Dec 2011 to sail the seas in the wake of its forebears. Continue reading An Ancient Viking Ship in Modern Times

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Creativity as an Alchemical Process

I’ve always been interested in inspiration and the creative process.  Where do our ideas come from? How can two different artists find different impressions from the same content?

Three stunning pieces by Giovanni Corvaja that I was lucky enough to see in NYC in Fall 2015.

As individual artists, we look at the world in front of us and find the fuel that powers our ideas. But that fuel is processed through our individual experiences and knowledge. It is changed and filtered with the vision of what we have seen and what we visualize.

In grad school I interviewed one of the world’s most accomplished goldsmiths, Giovanni Corvaja. As I usually do when speaking to someone I admire, I asked about his creative process and received one of the most intuitive answers to this question.

Continue reading Creativity as an Alchemical Process

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My Artist Way

It was early 1999 when I received my first copy of The Artist Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. The book by Julia Cameron was touted as a breakthrough for blocked artists to renew their work and their creativity.  Little did I know that it would change my life.

The last few years of my morning pages journals.

It was a late Christmas present from my best friend Pat. She had already had the book and worked through the 12 week process within it and felt that I would really benefit from it as well.

The exercises within the book help the reader to explore their motivations and history while delving into new ideas and ways to be more creative in one’s life. Each chapter explores a different area of our lives, but the biggest tools to come out of The Artist Way for most people are the artist date and the morning pages. Continue reading My Artist Way

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Navicella Fibulae at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

It’s no secret I’m a boat geek. I admire the lines of a well-designed vessel from ancient times to the present. Center of Effort vs Center of Lateral Resistance is the naval architecture jargon for it, however such a techy phrase translates to the graceful movement of a boat harnessing one natural force- the wind to move through another natural force- a body of water.

Of course it was inevitable that my Masters of Fine Art Thesisexplored the idea of vessels becoming wearable by interacting with the human body and I have continued this work in recent pieces as well, such as the Viking Ship penannular pin. I constantly find connections between jewelry and boat design. So naturally I’m delighted when I find more of these connections.


Tiny Pendant in the form of a gorgoneion from Cyrpus 450 BC

Yesterday I found myself at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. My best friend, Patty and I try to go on an immersive “artist date” at least once a year. The Met is one of our favorite venues and we both have enjoyed looking at the images of Medusa in art history together so we decided to make sure to see the special exhibit Dangerous Beauty: Medusa in Classical Art. It was a small exhibit, but we enjoyed it.

Continue reading Navicella Fibulae at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Craft Pusher

I got a new title this past week- Craft Pusher. I think I’ll embrace it.

It happened when I was teaching an introductory workshop in needle felting, also known as dry felting, at the Tacony LAB. The “LAB” is a community art center in the local neighborhood where I live in Northeast Philadelphia and I work there as a coordinator as well as instructor. I had eight students around the tables shaping wool roving into small whimsical forms. None of them had ever tried needle felting before and each person was enjoying it immensely with the room experiencing periods of near silence with only the sound of poking needles.

The classes at the Tacony LAB are free and include all supplies. Introductory classes like this are a great way to try out a craft you are interested in without investing in tools and materials. In the course of the workshop, it became apparent that many of the participants wanted to continue in the new techniques they had learned.

“These free workshops are really starting to cost me.” one lady said with a laugh. “I’ll need to go buy some of these needles and the wool.”

“Tell me about it!” said another. “I took the Intro to Enameling and enjoyed it so much that I bought a kiln!”

In the course of the discussion that followed, I was labeled as a Craft Pusher. I’m happy to embrace it, as I have found it a delightful experience to bring new techniques and art forms to students who may not otherwise get the chance.

In the course of the workshop, I was busy working on an experimental piece that combined both vitreous enameling and needle felting into an eye pin or brooch.

My life has always been surrounded by craft. Tools, materials and processes have shaped my approach both as an artist and educator. It fuels my curiosity about the ways that different techniques can be used in new ways. As a jeweler, interaction with the body and wear-ability are as important as the quality of the work, but as an artist and process geek, I can not help but constantly investigate new ways of making.

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The Middle Eastern Puzzle Ring

Middle Eastern puzzle rings have been a part of my life since childhood. My father purchased two of them in Pakistan in the early 1960s when he was in the merchant marines. They bore the rough texture of sand casting in several places and they were very thin in the back.

Mom's puzzle rings
Puzzle Rings purchased by my dad in Pakistan in the early 1960s.

So thin in fact that I had to repair them for my mother several times over the years even though she rarely wore them. This was a design flaw in my opinion, but perhaps they were produced for tourists like my dad. After all, he only paid one American dime for each of them. He immediately threw away the instructions and entertained himself on the ship by trying to figure out the puzzle.

My mother called them “trick rings” and kept them hidden away for the most part. (With five children, I would do the same.)  In my early jewelry career, I wanted to recreate them and asked to borrow them. They had such sentimental value to her that she wouldn’t let them leave the house. So I spent some time drawing each individual ring as well as how they were assembled. It was necessary to study the “puzzle” of how they fit together – taking apart and reassembling them many times. Then I went home to my shop and spent about 12 hours creating my first puzzle ring. Continue reading The Middle Eastern Puzzle Ring