Well it’s January 5th, the 12th night of Christmas.
Most years I celebrate the season from the Winter Solstice straight through to the 12th night. Of course this year was different, no parties, dinners or gatherings. One thing that wasn’t different was the steady stream of orders from my websites, custom work and online shows. I’m grateful for the opportunity to exhibit my work online, from my home and to complete a number of different custom pieces, from my niece Katie’s wedding rings early in December to a set of anniversary keychains that will be presented later this week.
A highlight for me were the pieces that finally arrived at their recipients today, who are parked at a goat farm in Arizona, just in time for the last day of Christmas.
See, my kid and their best friend, Coriander who is really more like a sister, have been off traveling the country in Gerti, their RV, for the last six months. It’s an interesting story, but it’s their story, not mine, so if you want to learn more about their grand adventure follow their Facebook group, the Cryptid Camper Crew .
For Gwen’s gift, I got to a long imagined redesign of my puzzle ring and since the kid has been wanting my hand wrought version for a number of years now, I sent the first version of the new design to them. Now me and the kid are wearing matching rings.
Coriander told me about an idea for a ring last summer. It’s been on my mind for a while and I managed to squeeze it in with all the other work this holiday season. Her ring says, Be Curious Be Kind. Coriander wrote a post about its meaning on her Patreon page. Which I highly encourage you to join if you love to look at beautiful art adventures. Both of these rings will be available for sale.
Moments like today I feel a deep gratitude for my tools and their history.
There are times when I can’t believe I’m working at my mentor, Leonard Wilson’s jewelry bench. Using his old torch and pliers used by his hands. The holidays always bring back memories of working in his store in Bristol, having a holiday drink which usually resulted in many broken sawblades. Lesson learned, Barb doesn’t have a drink until all the sawing is done. Ah, to be in my twenties again.
While cleaning up castings this morning, I needed a rough file to start and noticed it was a Disston file. Made right in the neighborhood here at Disston Saw Works in Tacony, this was one of Jack’s dad’s or granddad’s tools. I’m grateful to be in the house Jack’s dad purchased brand new in Fall 1941. Jack wasn’t one for fine tools, he was more a duct tape and epoxy clay kind of guy, but his father and grandfather’s tools were here in the house, along with wooden home made tool boxes made in the 1930s. I hold this file in my hand and feel it’s history. It’s still a very good file.
I had a little incident casting last night. I allowed too much metal for the button and the nose of my crucible fused to the button metal. I had to break the nose off the crucible to get the flask free. Not the first time it happened and certainly not the end of the world.
I cut the castings off and in order to free the crucible nose out of the silver, I would have to break it up. I pulled out a hammer made for breaking mortar. It belonged to my grandfather who was a brick pointer. I have many childhood memories of his work, his truck with the old English lettering he did himself, helping my dad build new steps at our house in D Street. Grampop supported a family with 11 children by brick pointing. I remember especially his emphasis on keeping your tools clean and cleaning them promptly. Eventually my dad inherited those tools and he used them to point his entire house. They’ve been sitting unused in my dad’s workshop since he passed away and knowing their history, I figured I’ll take them. Some of them I can use once in a while like this morning. I may be able to purpose some others into jewelry tools.
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!
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!
For Lord of the Rings fanatics like myself, September 22 is Bilbo and Frodo’s Birthday.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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