Friday, May 29, 2009

Three artists

These vine silver earrings are made by Anakim in Tel Aviv. I can see the years spent as a graphic designer in Anakim's jewelry. Each piece has this stark simplicity and meticulous craftmanship. As her bio says, "Living in a country located at a crossroads of diverse cultures, history and landscape, and as a constant traveler throughout the world, I'm inspired by people, scenery, local aromas, colors and shapes."

Veroque is another Israeli jewelry artist with a very unique style. How can you not LOVE her Volcano bead woven pendant!!!! I've tried a bit of bead weaving, and can so appreciate the hours and skill that went into this beautiful creation. I especially love how Vered's pieces have strong colors that work successfully by nuetral surrounds. Her bio says, "Beads and needlework tap into my inner peace and I hope I can share that with you." Shalom!

Cocoa Ocean, by sharonclancydesigns, has exquiste Peruvian blue opals and faceted smoky quartz gemstone beads, with a hammered silver chain. I can see the influence of Sharon's Sedona, Az home in her work; each piece is breathtakingly beautiful. I've priced gemstones for my own creations and think that the quality of materials and craftsmanship offered by Sharon Clancy designs is unsurpassed at her Etsy prices!

These are three jewelers whose shops I check often, and you'll see their work repeatedly in the treasuries I curate on Etsy. It is like a journey into an enchanted inner landscape to look through their new works, or to revisit older favorites. These are women who chose carefully and knowlegably, whose work has a radiance within. I am dazzled but not assaulted by the sparkle, and this is the true artistry of jewelry. It is easy to make something pretty, but to make something of true beauty, the piece must hint that behind all outer beauty there is a unifying inner light. A true work of art always has that quality of something deeper.

Monday, May 25, 2009

obsessed, I admit it

The problem with loving art and crafts is that everything becomes an art project, and it's exceedingly difficult to let anything be ordinary or mundane. I can't even set a table for dinner or put a few books on a bookshelf without arranging everything as if HGTV were coming momentarily to record my efforts. So these were the cupcakes I maniacally frosted by blending the shades from one to the next, as seen in Martha Stewart Magazine. Martha is like the bartender or pusher for my Homemade obsession. They were pretty tasty, though.

One of my favorite party foods that I served up Saturday was my Grand Marnier fruit salad. It's pretty easy. To a bowl of cut up mixed fresh fruit add this dressing:

3/4 C orange juice
1/4 C Grand Marnier- a liqueur
sugar to taste (about 2T usually does it)

The other big hit with the kids was our Hebrew National hot dogs. A hot dog that is not mystery meat always stands out! We usually buy cruelty free meats, but Kosher is close.

Hope you all had a nice backyard gathering this Memorial Day weekend, and if you didn't, come to mine next year! I need another reason to play with food.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Make a Wish!

My baby girl turned 16 yesterday. Her party is Saturday, and we had a family celebration last night. Being the perpetual craftster, I made her a card but really did not like any 'Sweet 16' poems that I found online, so I wrote this for her. It's not great literature or anything, but I thought I'd share it and if any of you want to use it, please drop a comment here. Otherwise, just tell me where the last 16 years went- it seems like maybe 2 years ago when she went to first grade.

Make a wish! And keep on wishing
For whatever sweet sixteen dreams can bring
Reach for the keys, freedom, and friends
Sing the song you were born to sing!

Today your journey as a young woman begins
You've grown more beautiful every day
You don't need my hand but I'm still in the stands
Cheering you on all the way!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Since my world came crashing in late last October, as my husband lost his job, I've been privileged to see a quality of humankind that I hadn't noticed as poignantly before. Many, many, many people are kind. I don't mean nice, which here in the south can mean having the grace not to say what you really think. I mean having a thoughtful, sensitive nature that offers whatever this world has given to you freely to others.

As Naomi Shahib Nye wrote, in her poem, Kindness (excerpts):

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
Before you know kindness
as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow
as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness
that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day
to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

I posted on a thread yesterday, entitled 'Out of work? I'll buy something', started by VintageCarolina, whose alphabets are posted above. It was a generous offer, and what particularly prompted me to post was the expressed sentiments of some that "you've just opened up the door to more sob stories than any human should have to endure." and " I thought Etsy was some sort of loser magnet." I thought I'd stand up for myself and the other millions of families who are dealing with unemployment. So I posted:

'For Bruce, and any others who feel like they are reading sob stories from losers, read this:

We did not become losers or pathetic people when my husband lost his job, in my opinion. That you see it that way says everything about you and nothing about me.'

------Then left the computer. Hours later, having forgotten about this altogether, I had 3 sales in my shop! They were all from lovely Etsy sellers who had read the thread. My other two customers are hwinfield, an amazing abstract painter with beautiful triptichs, and jetflair, a jeweler working with high quality gemstones set in silver.

Thanks to these people for making a difference in my life- and to eachbeautiful soul out there who shines the light of kindness. May you all get back whatever you give through kindness tenfold! As well as the really sweet pieces of pottery that you will soon be recieving!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


The Etsymudteam is having a bowl exchange, and I am sooo excited! These are only four of the bowls being swapped; the rest are here. Barter is simply the best form of economics that I've ever found. My home is full of art for which I've traded, and it doesn't stop there. When I lived in the tiny town of Banner Elk, NC, where everyone knows your dog's name, local people at craft shows would offer to barter with me for all kinds of things. I've traded pottery for new glasses, dentistry, car tires, tree removal, and lawn care. So trading with the other talented people on the Mudteam is a great opportunity. I don't know which bowl I'll get, but I'm kind of glad because I like them all and don't know how I'd actually pick one if I had to do so.

pictured are: Brown, Blue and Rust bowl by Barbara Rog of Muddyfingers

Tenmoku Leaf, (my offering) Lee Wolfe of OneClayBead

Flared bowl
, by Mellissa Schooley of RagingBowl

Orange/Blue/green brushed bowl by Ray Bub, Susan Nykiel of Oakbluffspottery

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I changed my mind

I've changed my mind. The advantage of having lived half a century is that my mind has grown gentler in its stances, and experience has worn the sharp edges of self righteousness so that I roll more readily. Plus I live with crows, like The Crow mossie here. Whenever I am stating or thinking one of my many strong opinions, I hear a crow call out 'HA! HA! HA!'

The strong opinion that I used to have was that it was Unfair of Etsy to allow the same person to make the Front Page twice in the same day, when other equally deserving artists are rarely seen there at all. As you may guess, I was on the Front Page again last night, when a beautiful treasury made by twolefthands got promoted, and a piece of mine along with it. So that is the second in one day for me.

What I see now is the plain old hard work, meticulous attention, and willingness to learn that made both selections possible. The Big Secret IN I have with Etsy admin is that I read their Storque articles on what they are looking to feature each month. And although I do not scramble to glue flags on my pottery because Memorial Day is approaching, I do look at what I have that fits those categories. I make mugs with oversized handles that men usually prefer, and so I tagged them 'fathers day', and included a sentence in my description to that fact. Then I relisted the mugs. I'm guessing that this is how they came to the attention of whoever in 'admin' made the treasury of the hour.

As to being in a FP treasury, I make treasuries with other people's work, never my own, 3-5 times a week. I'm pretty sure that most people who I select for treasuries will at least come look at my shop, and IF they like it, and IF they are making a treasury that could use something like mine, they may return the favor. So, by making treasuries, I increase my chances of being in other people's treasuries, and that increases my chances of being in one that is promoted to the FP.

I also have worked very hard at my photography, and I am now going back and resizing photos so that they look right in the cropped 'gallery' mode. I am getting rid of backgrounds that are too dark or chaotic. This makes my images work better in the treasury format.

So these are all my D list insider secrets, for what it's worth. Plus, listen to what the birds are saying. It's fun. Pay attention to the crows. They've given me a reality check many times with their HA! HA! HA!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Etsy noticed

I made the Front Page of Etsy in a list made by Etsy admin. It feels good to know that out of hundreds of thousands of shops, one of my pieces actually stood out and got noticed! My piece is bottom center- my two mugs with large handles. I've been working really hard at revising my old copy and tags, and have even reshot some of my photos. This is like a signpost saying "Yes, you are going the right way!"

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Buy Me

Sherrie and Allison, the buyer and manager of Grovewood Gallery, were here yesterday to pick out pots for the gallery. They both had many kind words for my new work, and picked my Buy Me table clean.

Even after 30 years, I have an inexplicable level of anxiety around who likes my work, how much they like it, and whether people who liked last year's work will take the leap with me into my new stuff. I keep working on ideas and lines whether or not they sell, but it is so much easier when they do! The urge to create comes from within me, and I enter states where the sheer sweetness of color and form, the audacious purity of impressionable clay, and the timeless trance of hands/eyes/attention are reason enough to keep making new pieces. But I, like any artist, secretly want a place in the world, and the place in the world that we all want is one where what we do that moves us to joy or tears moves others as well.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Irises, wet with rain

When I see the white irises open with their petals freshly anointed in raindrops, and the sun peaking into my grey world with it's warm touch, I can't help but think that my life is echoed and repeated everywhere. Didn't we just flare up in tempers and drama, like a thunderstorm? And haven't we all hugged and talked and made our peace with each other, and basked in the warmth of familial love once again?

I think of these analogies, and remember that there is also a literal and rational interconnectedness of all life forms. I think scientists are just now catching up to what poets know.

"I would say that there exist a thousand unbreakable links between each of us and everything else, and that our dignity and our chances are one. The farthest star and the mud at our feet are a family; and there is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list. The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves–we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together. We are each others' destiny."

-Mary Oliver, Winter Hours

Friday, May 8, 2009


I had a thought this morning while looking at the flowers plucked recently from the garden, some standing perfectly; proudly - and some beginning the wilted droop. And I thought of how these fleeting perfections are sitting in a vase that will outlive even my own coming and going on this earth, a vessel which may be here in its same form even after homo sapiens are bones and relics.

The contrast appeals to me deeply. I've sought this out in my life, too. I want newness, and adventure, and fleeting pleasures, and also containers that remain unchanged.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Whitney Smith opened a Pandora's box with her blog post, The Double Edged Sword of Etsy, in which she wrote about how she took action regarding another Etsy hobbyist potter who is copy catting her work. With 35 comments now posted, and a spillover discussion onto the Etsymudteam thread spanning 30 pages, about the only noncontroversial thing to be said is that this is a hot topic with indignation, passion, defensive stances, and lines in the sand. (I made my soapbox stand here, bottom of page, as OneClayBead, if you are interested).

The subtext that causes so much controversy is in how we use the word 'inspiration.' If I say 'I am inspired by Martin Luther King', it means that I want to become as much like him as possible, and we generally think of this as a good thing. I want the things that I do to look like the things that he did, and that, too, is a viewed as a good thing. There is a messy carry-over from this to saying that I am inspired by Whitney Smith, or a particular piece that Whitney made, and so I want to make pieces of pottery just like hers, or so rawly derivative of hers that they are knock-offs.

To think like this is to interfere with a process of unfolding that takes place within every artist if you let it. There is a source inside you that drives you to create, to make something, to rearrange pencils on a table even, until they are just right, and the whole thrill and payoff from being an artist is to let that unfolding happen. Pottery is only fun when I'm lost in becoming myself.

This iris ^ may look somewhat like the one next to it when it reveals itself down to the anther hidden within, but the beauty and splendor of nature are in infinite variables, of an evolution from one generation or season to the next.

There was a time period of 2 years when I cancelled subscriptions to pottery mags, and refused to let my eyes linger on other artist's work. It is when my unfolding began.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sacred Imagery

Here are two finished pieces from my Sacred imagery series. The top one is a seated Buddha pendant with an Om sign on the back, and a wire wrapped freshwater pearl. I hand hammered the sterling silver clasp. I've strung both of these on Greek leather, but I've also done some in faux suede for vegans and those who don't want leather products.

The second one pictured is Tara, the female Buddha. I've used a sliding knot cord, so it adjusts wide to slip over your head, and then you can slide the knots to whatever length looks right with the day's outfit. I like this because it feels really light, and is also very affordable. My slide knot pieces are retailing at $10 on Etsy.

I relate to these images purely on an intuitive level. I'm not a Buddhist, although a lot of the authors and poets I love are. For me, the seated Buddha is a reminder that mellowing out my thoughts before I speak, like through meditation, is a really good idea. It is worn at the throat, which is considered to be the center of speech.

Tara, the female Buddha, seems to me like the compassionate side of Buddha. I've always been drawn to the Christian Mary and the Jewish Sophia, so when I discovered a female Buddha, I related to Her right away.

I like the way my whole One Clay Bead jewelry is evolving.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


There is a special moment when I first see that the hard rhododendron buds have bubbled over into these impossibly red red flowers. I am so happy to merely live as a witness! And though my rational mind says no, it is not so, something larger in me takes these rhodos as a sign, an omen, a message that beauty and happiness are constantly renewing resources, that nothing is ever truly lost, but merely dormant. And so I think that if I do not attach my happiness to this one flower alone, a whole summer of loveliness, surprises, and celebrations is waiting. I will not mourn the tulips as they drop their petals, nor say that only the sunflowers smile. I will wake up and look with amazement at each new form that beauty has taken. I think it will be the best year ever.