Wednesday, August 26, 2009

(Kind of) a Celebrity

The title of this blog post was provided by my dad in response to an email I sent some friends & family about my news.

I was contacted by Fire Mountain Gems several months ago about being one of the featured artist "success stories" on their website. Jessica King with the company was a pleasure to work with. She was always upbeat, prompt and fun. She sent me some questions based on my work, blog and other info and we went from there. Thank you so much to Jessica and FMG for this opportunity. I'm flattered beyond belief!

A direct link to the article is here. You can also get there by following the right navigation bar on any page of the Fire Mountain Gems site to the Jewelry Artists link. They even took the time to cross-feature me in the Featured Artists and Beading Contests sections. They linked to all of my Gallery pieces, including the Bead-It-Forward beaded squares that I did with the fabulous Etsy Beadweavers.

Many thanks to the awesomeness of Libby with the Bluegrass Etsy Street Team, as well, for plugging this on our team blog so quickly after I tweeted this earlier in the week.

I'm still waiting to hear back from Bead&Button about the project that I submitted. I had an email from Lora stating that they had a meeting on the 21st, but I don't know when I'll hear back regarding that. Eep.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy Week - Friday

One of my muses needs to be mentioned during Happy Week - music. I can remember back to the time when my parents had just moved from Paducah to Eminence, living in the house on Fairview Court. I remember my dad would leave the stereo on at night in the living room. I would sneak out of my room at the end of the hall and dance around the living room to the music. My favorite song at the time, that I remember, was Xanadu by Olivia Newton John from the movie of the same name. Oh yes, you have to believe we are magic :)

I grew up in a household where music reigned. None of us were particularly musically inclined, though my mom did sing in the church choir and once played the clarinet. However, the images of me curled up on the old, black leather sofa with my dad's gigantic headphones on make me smile. I remember dancing on my dad's feet or watching him play air guitar when he rocked out to Black Sabbath, Cream or Eric Claptop. My mom listened to Simon & Garfunkel, Conway Twitty and Alabama. I lapped it all up - my first 45 was Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" and I vividly remember my Shaun Cassidy album and doll, as well as the giant pic of Barbara Mandrell I had. My taste was, and still is, quite eclectic.

Music has always been there for me. There was a period of time when I listened to classical music on public radio as I went to sleep, the dance offs I'd have with my friends at their houses, the endless school dances that I went to despite the fact that I never really fit into any real group, singing in chorus and the church choir and the obligatory singing at the top of my lungs when I'm alone in the car.

Music moves me. It can make me cry, it can make me bounce around the room, it can help me express myself when words fail me and I need to borrow song lyrics to do so.

Music has gotten me through some rather rough spots in my life. Hearing Pearl Jam's "Deep" and Tori Amos's "Me and a Gun" helped me face my darkest moments. Simon & Garfunkel's "Cecilia" never fails to make me cop around the room. Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" makes me smile and weep at the same time. "Head Like a Hole" was an anthem during college, dealing with ignorance and apathy.

When I can't create, I turn to music. I can't paint in a quiet room. Give me a glass of wine, some music and I'll grab a canvas.

Happy Week - Thursday

I know I'm actually running a day behind & this will mean two posts today, but honestly, I'm not sure I could have posted a happy week entry yesterday if I'd tried. It was a bad day, coupled with not getting my Zoloft refilled in a timely fashion which resulted in my being a slight wreck.

But, throughout the course of the day, I was reminded of something, or rather certain someones, who make me happy. My friends.

I'm not talking about fair weather friends, acquaintances or the like, not that they don't have their places in each of our lives, since I do, truly, believe that everything happens for a reason. I mean the friends who tell it like it is, know what you're going through, pick you up when you fall, dust you off and help you get back on your feet.

There's Dawn... wow, where to start. This girl, woman, crazy insane chick calls me her best friend and vice versa. I don't know what I'd do without her. Dawn and I met in 1998 when we both worked at Office Depot, Business Services Division (an office, not a sales floor, thankyouverymuch). I have never clicked with anyone like this before or since. I swear we've known each other in past lives. From 2000 miles away, she can call me and ask me what's going on - why am I upset? I'll call her and tell her to quit emoting because I'm feeling it across the country. She tells it like it is and doesn't sugar coat it and I do the same for her. I love her, seriously, in a "I will do anything for this woman" kind of way. I think the heavens for her. Our biggest problem is that we don't get to see each other enough, since I'm in Kentucky and she's in California.

My mom. Yes, she's my mom, but she's also one of the best friends a person can have. She's honest with me when I don't want to hear it, compassionate and there for hugs when I need them and there for a laugh when I need to be picked up. She's a beautiful soul who puts up with more crap than she should, but that's just the way she is.

Lega. He'll probably kill me for mentioning him, but he's a bright spot in my life. I can have intelligent conversations, meet him for a drink or just zone out. If he knows I'm having a craptastic day, he'll come over bearing Monty Python. He's good for giving me a hard way to go!

Paul. We might not be married anymore, but he remains one of my best friends. We can still crack jokes with each other, discuss our daughter's trials and accomplishments and call each other if we need something. I treasure his friendship.

Patty. I've known Patty since high school (um... 1992), through college and beyond, but it's really only in the last several years that she and I have truly connected on a "what in the world would I do without her?" level. We entertain each other in the mornings with emails, kvetch at lunch, offer advice and support on jewelry making techniques and understand raising a child as working moms. She's supportive, honest and I'm damn lucky to have her in my life.

Chris. He's always been up front with me, given me good advice and offered a smile when needed. We don't always see eye to eye and we've definitely pissed each other off, but that just happens to be the way that our friendship works.

Amber. My daughter, my life, my friend. I hope that she and I can continue to have the kind of relationship my mother and I have throughout the years.

There are others out there - Kassy, my coworkers at the library, the insane people at the radio station, fun people at the Chamber, etc.... people who have blessed my life in some way. They have shaped me and allowed me into their lives. I thank them for that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Week, Wednesday

Thinking about things that make me happy has been an odd kind of homework assignment. We spend so much of our time focusing on what we "need" to fix or what's wrong that we forget about everything else.

There are times when I'm at peace, when I can allow myself to be calm and feel without going over the edge one way or the other. I might not be bouncing off the walls jubilant, but the world is right and life is good. This is happiness. How do I classify this? Is it one thing that does it? No, I know of several off the bat, but one stands out, especially with my upbringing and education.


Be it creating, viewing or even just thinking about it, art makes me happy. I can be angry and focus that energy on a piece and be calmed. I can listen to music and put my feelings about the lyrics or music onto canvas. Letting my fingers sink into clay as I sculpt is pure bliss.

I love walking around art museums and galleries. When I lived in Southern California, I would make frequent trips to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. Their collection of Impressionist art was quite large and I loved visiting Degas' Little Dancer, Age 14. There was something about her that spoke to me, as well as Degas' chalk pastels. I enjoyed seeing the strips of paper he would add on to the side because he wasn't happy with the composition and thought a piece needed to be larger this way or that.

I took trips to Chicago to see the Degas & Monet retrospectives, as well as to LA to see the Van Gogh exhibit. These artists were passionate. Their emotions were conveyed through the years to me through their brushstrokes on canvas, use of color or fingerprints in clay.

Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party

I'll never forget stepping into the Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. I was working on a project for college, taking slides of works for my own catalog. There happened to be a Feminist art exhibit, featuring the Guerilla Girls, Miriam Shapiro and others. I was stunned. I was... I was happy. Seeing these women take on art as a social medium just blew my mind. What I didn't know was that a life-changing exhibit had been brought out of storage and was on display in the lower portion of the museum. There... there before me was Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party. I smiled, I cried, I rejoyced at what I saw before me.

I knew then and there what had been buried within me and who I was. I was, am and will always be an artist in some way, shape or form. That knowledge, plus seeing art from the masters, lesser knowns, those just starting, my friends and even my daughter, that makes me happy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy Week - Tuesday

Yesterday's happy post featuring Amber was easy to do. Trying to figure out today has been off & on my mind through working at the gallery & the library.

I suppose it should have hit me like a ton of bricks, or at the very least, a cascade of seed beads. Beads. They make me happy. I can't pass the vials of tiny seed beads without stopping to see if there's a color that catches my eye. I see beads or findings and think about how I can put them together. Most of the time I start a project not knowing where I'm going. I pick out colors that I like and see what comes along or buy a bead buy another artisan and see what I can do to enhance the beauty of that piece.

I started beading almost 7 years ago. It would have been September of 2002 when I got pregnant and it was shortly thereafter that I found out. One of the first things that happened was my OB/GYN kicking me out of my studio where I painted. I searched for an outlet and came across Bead&Button in a local store. I figured what the heck, bought it and some inexpensive beads.

What started as stringing and learning basic techniques has escalated into an obsession with beads of all kinds - gemstone, crystal, polymer, silver clay, lampwork, but mostly, my tiny little seed beads. I adore all of the vials of Delicas and boxes of Czech seed beads in various sizes that hang on the pegboard on my wall. I relish learning new techniques and seeing what pops into my head.

My favorite way to bead is just to let go and let it be. Freeform work used to frighten me, but asymmetrical pieces and those that just make themselves up as they go along now thrill me. There are exceptions to the "rule" (like my love of beaded beads), but for the most part, I just let the beads tell me where they want to go. It is said that Michelangelo spoke that his sculptures were inside the marble already. I'm not saying I'm Michelanglo by any means, but I feel that way about my beadwork much of the time. They move me where they want to go. Heaven help me if I try to make them do something they don't want to!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday of Happy Week!

I almost forgot about Happy Week, as I've been dragging today, my body a little wilted from the Woodland Art over the weekend. I did well, not gangbusters, but I sold some of my favorite one of a kind pieces, including my crazy quilt bracelets.

What makes me happy? #1 is my daughter, Amber. I never really thought of myself as the "motherly" type and probably still wouldn't classify myself that way. Nothing in this world makes me as happy as this crazy kid. She extremely sharp, funny and talented. When she hugs me or wants to love on me, nothing else matters.

There are times when she reminds of me of myself, other times when I can see her dad in her. She cracks me up when I hear my grandmother's laugh come out. That belly laugh and cackle are like my Meemaw is here, smiling at me from somewhere beyond.

I'm sure as she gets older, we'll butt heads about boys, dating, curfews and the like, but until then, I'll take the arguments about school day bedtimes , sugar intake and how long she can play in the shower. If she takes after me even more, I'm sure she'll tell me how I'm wrong and verify everything with her teachers, just like I did to my mom.

I love her more than I ever thought I could possibly love anyone or anything.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oh Happy Week

The fab Tab at TabMade blogged about her involvement in Curious Girl's "Happy Week" next week and I knew it was something that I wanted to do. I've been rather stressed lately and a happy week is definitely in order!

So, next week, every day, I'll post a photo and some ramblings about something that make me happy. A jump start is the photo to the left of the best thing in my world - my daughter Amber. She's nutty, brilliant and has such a sharp wit that she makes me giggle constantly. Nothing better in the world than that little girl's belly laugh.

Today is the unveiling of the Spragens Memorial that our Arts & Humanities Council raised the money for. Gene & Nadine Spragens were great benefactors to the arts in Marion County, bringing in performing arts, giving away tickets to shows and establishing scholarships for music students. The sculpture is absolutely gorgeous - brushed aluminum music staffs with blackened music notes spiraling in a double helix. It stands in front of the new Performing Arts & Culture Center and will stand as a testament to their influence in this community. I'd like to someday be remembered as someone who helped promote the arts, especially the visual arts, within the community. There's something to be said for what the arts can do, be it in education, therapy, release or just plain enjoyment. I owe so much to the arts, visual and performing alike.

Tonight, we unveil the sculpture, revel in live music, relive history and peruse original works of art in our little ol' town of Lebanon. And it makes me really happy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Treasuries!

After a bit of a dry spell, I woke up to my work in not one but two treasuries this morning!

The first, "Shades of Red", was curated by WhimsyBeading of the Bluegrass Etsy Street Team. It's gorgeous! Many thanks to her for including my Autumn Colors Crazy Quilt bracelet.

The second, "They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab" is a hilarious homage to the Etsy Beadweavers' collective obsession with color, primarily purple and green with a little turquoise thrown in for good measure! Many thanks to LittleStoneDesign for including my What If I'm a Mermaid bracelet.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mom's Outer Banks Necklace

My mom came back from the Outer Banks, North Carolina last year with a hand full of shells and one request - for me to make a necklace for her. I really agonized over it for a while: Do I try to drill through the shells? Do I back & embroider them? Do I use bails and make some funky charm necklace type piece? In the end, I decided to make right angle weave bezels for them... all 18 of them. There are 16 shells on the necklace and two that I used for a pair of earrings.

The center shell posed a different problem with its shape. Mom had originally requested that I try to drill it, but I was terrified that I'd break the shell. Instead, I used a minimal amount of silver wire to wrap it.

The shells are an off-white and lilac to medium purple mix and I used gray Czech seed beads for the bezels. The shells are interspersed with stick mother of pearl beads. I'm really happy with the results, as is she!

In other news, I submitted my project to Bead & Button. I should know by September if they've accepted the project. First time for submitting a project!

I'm still waiting on news from the Use the Muse project and the FMG results.