Monday, June 29, 2009


I do love intricate design. Especially intricate design that seems deceptively simple. My own design aesthetic includes a strong affinity for elaborate creations. Simplicity appeals to me to some degree. Interestingly, simplicity can often be more challenging to achieve than complexity. But I tend to be drawn to things that are reminiscent of history (such as items from the Art Nouveau period), have a vintage flavor, or that seem to resonate with the ornate colors and structures found in nature. I derive a great satisfaction in creating complicated designs that look as if someone from 100 years ago might have worn it. Of course, anything I might devise is a poor imitation of the true intricacies found in the natural world. But it is enjoyable to let those natural complexities spur my imagination.

"The whole is simpler than the sum of its parts."- Willard Gibbs

"The most complex things are the simplest."- Agni Celeste

(Earrings featured in this post are available in my Artfire shop.)

Friday, June 19, 2009


Sunset Boulevard. Rodeo Drive. Broadway. Bourbon Street. Champs Elysees- famous street names, all. When we hear these names, our imaginations conjure up pictures of these places, perhaps a personal experience or thoughts of a dream vacation. Whenever I hear these street names, or perhaps other, more ordinary ones here at home, I wonder about the person whose job it is to name streets. Ironically, I have no idea what the name of this occupation could be. (Enlighten me, if you can!) What I do know is that this is a job that appeals to me. It takes imagination and innovation to come up with interesting names. Of course, not all streets have thought-provoking names. Some are quite unimaginative, merely informative (Airport Way) or functional (2nd Street). Even then, they serve a purpose, as all names do. Names trigger recognition, act as an identity or function as a way to categorize. Names pigeonhole people, places and things- making it easier to pinpoint someone, somewhere or something.

Humans have always possessed a strong compulsion to bestow names. I, too, enjoy this pastime in connection with my bead and jewelry business. I adore naming my art! I give each name a tremendous amount of thought before I officially christen a piece. The names are inspired by patterns that emerge from the glass, striking color combinations, or thematic elements applied to my designs. Sometimes I garner names from word association or word play. The bead featured in this post is named "Dutch Baby". Now, why in the world did I name it that way? In actuality, a Dutch Baby is a type of German pancake, sprinkled with powdered sugar. Obviously, this bead bears no resemblance to a pancake of any sort. What it does remind me of is a bulb, which makes me think of flower bulbs, which leads me to tulips, which are Dutch in origin... well, you get the idea. Thus, "Dutch Baby" was born!

So, have fun naming your works of art, writings, children and pets. Names are important and can be deal-breakers if not thoughtfully bestowed. But if a name is catchy, it will linger in the memory, a desirable end.

(Bead featured in this post is available in my Artfire shop.)

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet."- Shakespeare

"Words have meaning and names have power."- Anonymous

"The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love."- Margaret Atwood

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Have you ever taken a stroll in a pine forest? There is no quiet like the quiet in a forest. A carpet of fallen pine needles to deaden your footfall, the astringent scent of pine in the air, filtered sunlight breaking through the trees, dust motes drifting in the shafts of light- you are immersed in peace. All the while, unseen creatures note your passage. Well, mostly unseen.

My last visit to a forest was a trip to southern Colorado near the town of Cuchara. We camped in a lovely national forest park called Bear Lake, high in the mountains. We had visited there twice before and had never been disappointed by the beauty of our surroundings. Never once had we seen a bear, despite the name of the place. But this trip proved to be different. We were fishing at the lake, as were many of the campers that day. Someone across the small lake yelled out, "BEAR!!". Silly me, I thought they had shouted, "DEER", and I looked around to see if I could spot it. Twenty feet away from me, I see it. Not a deer, but a brown bear. Yikes! So, ever so casually, we gather our belongings and start beating a retreat to our vehicle. Well, we intended to casually walk, but the kid opted for all-out panic and ran like the wind. After that, it was every man for himself. That bear chased off every person at the lake. I was nervous but quite exhilarated, in truth.

Later that day, at twilight, I was in the RV, alone, all of the windows open, washing dishes. The rest of the family had gone to get water. Again I hear someone shout,"Bear in the camp!". This time I look out the window and, lo, there is the large lovely creature, right there, sniffing my grill outside my camper. I was captivated. I softly said,"Wow", loud enough, unfortunately, to turn the bear's attention in my direction. He strolled right over and stuck his head in my window for a whiff of me. I did not breathe. He was one foot away from me, with only a flimsy screen between us. I started thinking of the scene from the movie, Jurassic Park, where the velociraptors open a door with their claws and wonder if this bear is that intelligent. Thankfully, right then, some of my fellow campers ran over to my site to scare the bear off. Many tent campers packed up and skedaddled. For the rest of the trip, I never felt comfortable to hike in the forest again, though there were no more bear sightings by our group. I am a city girl, after all. But, what an experience! I am still a bit skittish about encountering bears, but I love to visit their world. And I definitely respect that the forest belongs to the usually unseen critters inhabiting it.
(Bead featured in photo available for purchase in my Artfire store.)

"Camping: nature's way of promoting the motel industry."- Dave Barry

"If you tell a joke in the forest but nobody laughs, was it a joke?"- Stephen Wright

"Some men go through a forest and see no firewood."- English proverb

Thursday, June 4, 2009


What is "equilibrium"? It has been defined as "a state in which opposing forces are balanced", "the state of being physically balanced", "a calm state of mind". Sounds like a desirable quality in any definition. I often think about this quality in my bead and jewelry designs. I strive to achieve a balance in any design I create. For a long time I thought this meant I needed a perfectly symmetrical design. I worked hard to achieve symmetry at all costs. Then one day a favorite client asked me to create a purposely asymmetrical piece for her. This was a new concept for me. I felt confident I could do it. I just needed to alter how I view balance. I began to see that sometimes symmetry can be oddly disturbing. Many of the designs I make now are what one would describe as asymmetrical. I call these pieces "symmetrically asymmetrical", visually dissonant, yet somehow harmonious.

Actually, this dissonance, this off-kilter way of design has taught me a number of valuable lessons. I find that the principles I apply to my designs also have a practical application to my daily life. In my earlier years, everything for me had to be PERFECT- not a hair out of place, not a speck of dust to be seen, all in utter control. As I matured, and especially after becoming a mother, I realized that I needed to lighten up, relax my rigid standards, take a deep breath and just BE. I think motherhood especially taught me to have more flexibility. You just can't be fretting over every little toy you stumble over or you will drive yourself mad (not to mention, the rest of your beloved family). I still attempt to have a measure of control over my little world- keep the clutter somewhat at bay, keep the house fairly presentable. But who am I kidding? Life is a jumble of unexpected events, as unpredictable as the weather. We may be able to have a general plan for how we want things done, but we need to be flexible enough to complete those plans in more than one way. In jewelry, as in life, sometimes things don't go as you planned. You lose some beads, you drop your work-in-progress: frustrations happen. But when they do, cry if you need to, then gather up your pieces and begin again. Your next plan may be even better than your original intent!

"The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn."- Anonymous

"Better to bend than break."- French proverb