Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dreams Become Reality

I'm always designing in my head.  No matter how busy I am, my thoughts inevitably turn to some sort of creative endeavor.  Sometimes being too busy to actually sit down and create can be a good thing.  This pendant, "Arbor Boy" is a good example.  I'd been imagining this pendant for weeks, going over every detail in my mind, but had no time to actually work on it until yesterday.  When I finally sat down to make it, the design flowed like water!

I created him from a tiny antique porcelain doll head set on an etched/heat treated copper "stage".  A hand made tree grows from his head, and below an antique sterling silver fork acts as roots, holding a French blown glass level.  Copper, brass and pewter gears accent. 

Arbor Boy represents my belief that we must think and live  "green" to restore balance to our planet.

So, don't be too impatient to create your next big idea/design.  Let it live and grow in your imagination for a bit, and the final result may be all the better for it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Surviving the Streets of St. Augustine

This is an odd post for me, a small departure, but I wanted to share...
I am a 45 year old runaway.  Yes, this weekend I ran away from home.  It's a struggle, living on the streets.  The mean streets of St. Augustine.  The constant assault of local live music wafting through the air, tripping over street musicians and performers with tiny dogs dressed as pirates.  The wonderful indie art galleries and restaurants in every nook, cranny and hidden side street.  Don't get me started on the antbellum architecture or how the place reeks of painstakingly maintained Spanish history.  It's Hell, I tell you, Hell!

Just to survive I've ducked into a new little place called "Rhett's", right next door to "Scarlet O'hara's" on Hypolita Street.  Those marketing wizards!

Where Scarlett's is a multi-level, old home turned into pub-style restaurant and college hot-spot, Rhett's is a new, super-cool, upscale piano bar and gourmet dining experience.  Sort of like what I imagine Mr. Butler would also be...but that's another story.

I can hardly manage to wolf my Caesar salad with all the burbling piano music, lovely and attentive staff, and don't get me started on the saxophone guy...oozing talent and fresh-scrubbed college cuteness. 

My lovely waitress just stopped by to ask what I thought of my salad.  I so wanted to drawl, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."  Don't worry, I didn't.  But I could have!

So, I sip my beer (yes, I am not afraid to order a draft in a place like this, after all, I am a street person), and stare at the antique tin tiled ceiling, plotting my next move.  I am interrupted by the arrival of my lobster stuffed chicken breast on truffle-infused mashed potatoes.  Oh. My. God.


I don't want to simply eat this meal.  I want to marry it.  I want to wear it next to my skin.  I want to take it for a long walk on the beach, holding its hand.  In case you don't get what I am saying, this meal is an orgy in my mouth.  Wait, that is really gross.  This meal is...delicious.  Simply, elegantly, delicious.

If I could eat like this every day I would become one of those house-bound people who eventually make the news because a wall of their home had to be destroyed so they could be removed by crane.  And I would be grinning ear-to-ear while dabbing at the truffle oil staining my chins.

I ran away to St. Augustine because many, many, MANY moons ago I used to live here, and to this day I adore the place.  Don't get me wrong, St. Augustine, America's oldest city, has its share of ridiculous tourist-traps.  Many crap shops selling T-shirts and chocolate on a stick in the shape of an alligator, "ghost tours" on every corner, and sangria bars with exhausted locals sweating their asses off dressed as Spanish soldiers, grinningng through gritted teeth at drunk, fanny-pack wearing families from Wisconsin taking their pictures.  But, as I sit under a painting of the Battle of Atlanta, sipping cappuccino, I marvel at how hip little places like Rhett's coexist with the Nation's Oldest Drug Store and Ripley''s Believe it if Not!  Somehow, St. Augustine has managed to grow up, while still retaining it's core personality.  Kind of amazing, really.

By the way,  I am totally getting into this whole runaway street person thing.

I was about to say that my dining experience was marred by the arrival of a huge party of really loud people seated right next to me.  I was, until the woman in charge of the group came over to me and apologized in advance for her boisterous group, and offered to buy me a drink to make up for it. God, I love St. Augustine!

Holy crap, I just realized that after it gets dim in Rhett's, they give you menus that LIGHT UP WHEN YOU OPEN THEM.  I can't stand it. You crazy kids with your fancy toys.  God bless you, no more squinting, or lighting your menu on fire because you held it too close to the table candle in a vain attempt to read it.

Back to the charm that is St. Augustine.  One of my favorite memories is of walking down a side street one evening after a great meal, and hearing laughter and music coming from a hidden courtyard.  The yard was surrounded, as many are, with an ancient stone wall.  I peeked over and found a group of locals, off work but still dressed in their Spanish period costumes.  They were relaxing, drinking beer, and cranking some great tunes.  They saw me and immediately insisted I join them, a total stranger.  Of course I did, and had a great night getting buzzed with soldiers, pirates, and wenches.  Totally awesome.

That is why I run away, as often as I can, to St. Augustine.  And you should too.  Living on the street has its advantages...

So, Rhett's, I'll let you carry me up that gigantic winding staircase anytime.  Really, you can, because I am so stuffed I can't walk right now.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thank You Kim St. Jean

It's funny what gets me to finally bite the bullet and try something new. I've never taken a jewelry class in my life, and am grateful to be alive in the digital age, where you can find almost anything online. There is a video for just about everything (YouTube) and great books and DVDs at our fingertips.

I mentioned Kim St. Jean's new book, Mixed Metal Mania, in a previous post. It's great, go get it right now. Because of this book, I finally tried using stering silver solder paste, wire and sheet to create my own bezels. I am a huge fan of copper and brass tube bezels, which I make using recylcled pipe. But, I also wanted to learn the traditional methods of creating bezels, but didn't have the courage to go for it before now.

Turns out, in my recent studio cleaning frenzy, I found a tube of sterling silver solder paste I totally forgot I even had (and don't really remember buying...Jeez, I'm old) as well as a nice selection of solder wire and sheet. I guess at one time I thought I might actually give this a go! Good thing I did stock up, and I'm very proud to say I now am a soldering fool.

Kim made it look and sound so simple, I figured I had to be able to do it.  The photo below is of a ring I created from scratch--sterling on brass bezel with a nice hunk of Boulder opal.  I am pleased with the results, need to perfect my finishing a bit (you can see the line where the bezel wire, but overall I think it 'aint bad for a first try.  FYI, the ring is available in my Etsy shop...just sayin', a girl's gotta eat, so take a peek if you like opals...

I am eager to try more complex designs now, just wish sterling silver prices weren't so crazy.  Remember the days of silver at 50 cents a gram???  Thems was the good ol' days, that's for sure!

Oh, and I also just ordered my very own Fordham FlexShaft.  I burned up my third Dremel set up trying to make it behave like a real machine.  So, that's exciting and totally emptied my wallet....wish me luck!!!