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Back on the Water

Shortly after returning from the SNAG conference this past Spring I had a realization. I haven’t been sailing in a long time.

For an artist who makes work about boats, sailing, the wind, waves and water, I felt thirsty to get back on the water and experience again the things that inspired me in the first place, so I started to see what I could do about that.

S2, tentatively named Suzie Lightning in her new slip Dredge Harbor after our two day trip from the Chesapeake.

I checked into chartering in the Chesapeake or the New Jersey shore and was floored by how much the prices (and requirements?!) had increased in the decade since I last went sailing on OPB (other peoples’ boats). Then, just for giggles I started looking at the price of used boats. That’s when I realized it’s a buyers market out there for old plastic sailboats.

Now wait. For the cost of a weeklong charter in the Chesapeake, I could own my own boat and pay the marina fees? I had a chat with my husband David and instead of having an expensive weeklong adventure, I was going to become a boat owner again.

Never owned a boat on my own. It was always with my ex-husband, Lary.

Lary passed away suddenly this past March. I found myself thinking about the boats we had owned when going through some of his things with our kid, Gwen. I think this may have been where the initial longing to get back on the water began.

Of course I was overeager to start and initially purchased a very inexpensive boat that I realized too late was going to be much more work that I was willing to do. It actually took until early October until that boat was off of my hands.  But in late July, I found my boat. A 1981 S2 8.0m (26 ft) sloop. My friends Fran and Shirley lived on a center cockpit S2 at one point and I remember it was very well designed. This one just had a familiar feel as soon as I stepped aboard. Lary and I lived aboard a 27 ft sailboat for about 2 years, so I was feeling pretty comfortable on this one.

Any boat needs work, even a perfect brand new boat still needs maintenance. This one needs work, but is usable in the meantime. She was in a marina in Havre de Grace, MD and was ready to take a trip home.

Taking a selfie with as we pointed the boat out of the Chesapeake Bay and up toward the C&D Canal.

Gwen and Keegan signed on as crew and in mid- August, we pulled away from the gas dock at the marina and pointed the bow towards Philadelphia. The first day was a long one. Heading across the upper tip of the Chesapeake Bay we sailed for a little while and dropped the sails to power through the C&D Canal, we had the strong current with us only part of the day.

Gwen down below in the S2

The long run up the Delaware had the wind and the current opposing one another which made for a rough ride a good bit of the day and knocked a few knots off of our speed. This only compounded the slow progress up the river as the current turned against us.

The sun set while we were still several hours from where we could stop for the evening. I thought about pulling out of the channel and anchoring, since I really hate navigating the Delaware river at night, but we motored on, watching Aqua Maps on the ipad and all three of us keeping watch on the heavy commercial traffic around the Marcus Hook area finally gliding under the Commodore Barry Bridge with the lights of the traffic reflecting on the water around us.

Barb looking at the moon rise while navigating up the Delaware River
Barb looking at the moon rise while navigating up the Delaware River. This photo was taken just after we passed the Commodore Barry Bridge and finally began to relax as we left the commercial shipping channel.

We arrived in Essington after 9pm and it took two passes in the dark to find the gas dock where we were going to tie up for the evening. To our surprise, David was there to meet us and drive to Wawa for some sandwiches. We slept under the approach for the Philadelphia International airport which made for some interrupted rest, but we were up with the sun to finish the journey up the Delaware.

We encountered very little commercial traffic that day and arrived at the marina in Delran about noon. It took some time to get tied up since there really wasn’t enough water in the slip we were assigned. We had to move it to a different spot the following week.

Keegan steering through the Philadelphia/Camden waterfront approaching the Walt Whitman Bridge.

It is now late in the season and I’ve not had a lot of time out on the water with the boat, but I spend a few hours on board every week. Cleaning, repairing things, adjusting the dock lines. The marina will be pulling the boat out soon and placing her on stands for the winter and that’s when I’ll get the fiberglass work done, rebuild the fresh water pumps and give the outboard a good once over.

Best of all, I feel more connected to the source of my work. I’ve been thinking about new pieces inspired by the bottoms of bridges, waves and wakes of tugboats. It’s going to be interesting to see what comes of it.

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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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What is that Tacony LAB place all about?

When I’m not working in my studio this is one of the places where you can find me. I really appreciate all the support of the Northeast Times, and reporter Logan Krum, in shining a light on the emerging arts scene in Northeast Philadelphia. This week Logan came out to the LAB for an interview and to get a look around. Here’s the article he wrote.

Check out some of the photos

Photo by Logan Krum of the Northeast Times

Photo by Logan Krum of the Northeast Times

Photo by Logan Krum of the Northeast Times

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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