Putting up the hay


Yesterday on our family vacation, I got a taste of Ohio farm life. Our cousins, who are hosting us, had to pick up 150 bails of hay to feed their horses throughout the winter. If course we volunteered to help as we do for family.

As its summertime and I’m on vacation, I didn’t bring any jeans or tennis shoes. It didn’t matter though because I had offered my muscles. So out I ventured into the hay field in my denim skirt and sandals, looking like a city girl in work gloves.

Of course we had to pick the hottest day of the summer – it was 100 degrees in the mid-day sun. With the humidity of Ohio, it felt as blistering as 115 degrees in Phoenix.

I was hot with sweat dripping down my back as I worked to pick up the bails and load them into the trailer. I kept thinking to myself how lucky I am to spend time my studio making art and writing for a living. Working the land is tough and I can see how it needs to be in your blood to truly love it.

Our hard work was rewarded with some thankful relatives, a hearty lunch and and the rest of the afternoon hanging out in the cool swimming pool.

Today we are helping people picking up items they won in a family auction. A cousin passed away earlier in the year at 93 years old and her estate and contents have gone to auction. I won some really great vintage treasures that I’ll show here soon.

For now I just had to show proof of the tough farm chick that’s been dormant inside of me. I’m living proof you can take the girl out of the city.


Family vacation time

vacation graphic

I’m putting the auto reply on for my email and finishing up all the last-minute things one does before annual summer vacation time. Tomorrow at this time, I will be with my family heading to Ohio, the home state to aunts, uncles and cousins on my husband’s side.  Last time we saw this side of our family was when my son was 5 months old. Considering he is on the brink of being a teen-ager, it’s been much too long between visits. My daughter is thrilled to be boarding a big airplane tomorrow, her blue eyes growing wide each time her brother tells her that will we be flying even higher than the clouds.

Our sweet friends are house and dog sitting. I made sure to stock up on some of their favorite goodies as a way of saying thanks for ensuring my home front is safe and sound while we’re away.

The thing I’m most looking forward to is staying at my husband’s aunt’s home, which is a 180-year-old farm house with a big, white picket fencing running nearly a mile across the front of their farmland. It won’t be quite the same, as Uncle Johnny passed away last year, but I can’t wait to spend the evenings sitting in the handmade rocking chairs on the porch after dinner each evening talking and watching the fireflies flit about the yard. We don’t have fireflies in Arizona so I can’t wait to view my daughter’s expression as she see these tiny dancing lights twinkling next to her.

My husband used to spend summers on his aunt and uncle’s farm, getting up at 5 a.m. with his four boy cousins to milk the dairy cows. They would work hard until noon, called in by his aunt with the proverbial iron dinner triangle for glasses of cold lemonade and sandwiches stacked high on the plate. There are less than a dozen cows on the land now — a big change from the 500–head dairy they used to have. Just enough to keep Aunt Joanne content.

Last time I was there, when I was having an identity crisis going from reporter to at-home mommy, Joanne proudly declared to me that she “was a farm wife through and through.” I admired how hard she worked to take care of husband, 4 boys and a farm. I also admired her award-winning pies at the country fair and her complete no-nonsense approach to life. I can’t wait to see this salt-of-the-Earth woman again and give her a big hug.

Other plans include visiting my mother-in-law’s best friend since they were both six-years-old in her hometown of Millersburg. We’ll be spending a day amongst the Amish and I’m jonesing to visit Lehman’s, the old hardware store where the electricity is cranked on each morning. I can spend hours in hardware stores looking for cool stuff for art projects, and even longer in Lehman’s with all its throw back to simpler times. The kids are also ready to do some swimming and fishing and I’m looking forward to some pure downtime.

We’re also trying to figure out how to get to Cedar Point to spend the day with Susan and her kids. I can’t imagine going all the way to Ohio and not checking in on our company offices and spending time with my friends/family. All in all, it’s looking like a nice, relaxing time with some long hours of family bonding.

I sincerely hope you are having a lovely summer and getting in some much-needed creative time for yourself too.

Studio Solitude

beautiful typography

I’m back into the studio for a few days finishing up some variation pieces for my book. My editor has gone through and organized the book and done a thumbnail layout so it can go to design. It’s during this process when the book comes together with the visuals and the text that you find out where the “holes” are, meaning blank pages or blank half pages etc. that needs to be filled in. The easiest and most sensible things to fill these few editorial holes with are inspirational (beauty) photos to show alternatives or variations in design of the techniques being taught or explained in the book.

I have a list of three projects that I need to make some variations for, which is what’s up next for me to do as soon as I finish checking and responding to emails and updating my blog. The hardest part about this process for me has not been anything to do with the book, but rather having so many things going on behind the scenes that I have nothing I can really show you guys on my blog. In the world of social media where information is instantaneous, it’s terribly hard to write “I’ve been busy for months on end working on wonderful things…I promise to show you soon”. (grin)

This is why I used the photo above saying Forget about the jewels and gems. But only for now, just for a little while longer until I can start showing and talking about the end result, rather than the process.

I’m off now to the solitude of my studio to make some more metal jewelry. The pickle is warming up in the crock pot and my torch is waiting patiently for me to anneal some metal. Nothing else to say except to wish you all a very Artful day!

Brews and Bling


It’s taken me a week to be home from the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee to get back into the swing of things. With back-to-back teaching/shows I had a ton of family things to attend to as soon as I touched my feet back on Arizona soil. Laundry, grocery shopping, finally spending time with kids on summer break and getting date night with my honey.

I did discover the most amazing handmade bottle cap beads when I was at the show. I bought a bunch because our dear friends just turned their restaurant into a microbrewery. The beads are made from discs cut from two identical bottle caps, domed and then soldered together. There were so many good beer and soda company beads that it was really hard to choose.

I wanted to keep the necklace design simple so I made my standard headpins by drawing a bead on bronze wire, threading on a crystal, a rondelle and the bottle cap bead and then drawing a bead on the other end before I made a wrapped loop. Once the pendant was finished, I threaded it onto leather cording and voila, super cute necklaces to sell at my friend’s new microbrewery

If you happen to live in Arizona or are passing through the Rim Country to escape the Phoenix heat, be sure to visit That Brewery for some great beer and food, and if course to also see my necklaces. (grin)


My book cover!

new metalsmithing book

Here is the very first peek of the cover of my new book, Making Metal Jewelry, due out December 13 by North Light Books. I know what my family and friends are getting for Christmas this year. (grin)

Seriously, it is such a big thing to write a book. It’s an honor, a chore (at times), a thrill, a fear, an exploration, an inner excavation and dozens of other emotions all wrapped together like a giant ball of string!

Tomorrow I will get my first glimpse of the entire book with my author review pages. I need to make the edits and answer all my editor’s questions by Friday so that’s what I’m doing the rest of the week. After that, design happens and it gets wrapped up pretty quickly.

I’ll share more as I can. Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day!

An incredibly great time CREATE-ing

Jessica making her clay beads

I know an instructor is not supposed to ever have favorite students, but I can’t help it when it comes to Jessica. She is just such a wonderful, sweet soul. She and her mother took my class last year and came back again this CREATE for my Mermaid Dreams class. I just adore her!

I honestly had the most amazing time at the CREATE retreat put on by Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine in Orange County this past week. My classes were big time fun, my students were incredibly creative women and I sold lots and lot of earrings and books and mixed-media goodie grab bags at the Artist Faire Friday night. I also got to room with one of my bff’s, the talented Kristen Robinson. It was like having a slumber party, and we didn’t get to sleep before 1:30 a.m. any night of the week. Then up at 6 a.m. Whew! Haven’t done much of that since collage and I can tell you I feel like I’m getting old when I work on 4.5 hours of sleep for nights on end.

Some of the molds a student made

Mermaid Dreams was all about making your own molds from found objects and then casting them in resin clay. One of the students took this concept and ran with it. She even brought some taxidermy eyes to add to her cast focal beads. Love the little mold of the skeleton key for a mustache!

I also took two classes, which was just heavenly for me. I took Jenn Mason’s Dirty Little Secrets Gelli Printing class as well as Alisa Burke’s Larger Than Life Canvas class. Since both of these were printmaking/painting classes playing with all kinds of surface treatments I was just in Heaven to be playing with my paints again with mixed-media. I also got to spend some time with my sweet friends Pam Carriker and Kari McKnight Holbrook. It was wonderful to see them and chat.

crafty friends at lunch

Tami and Elena are both local so they whisked me away from the hotel to get some fresh sunshine. We went to Fullerton to the amazing shop Gilding the Lily and then ate a yummy vegan lunch next door.

Another awesome part was having Friday day off of work, so I got to hang out with my girlfriends Elena Lai Etcheverry from Charity Wings and Tami Bayer, one of the lead Fiskateers. Tami was there giving away Fiskars tooks and spreading the orange scissor love to the students and teachers and Elena was raising money for Soldiers’ Angels. We went to this incredible vintage goodies shop and ate a healthy vegan lunch. We also watched a commercial being filmed on the street right in front of the shop. It just wouldn’t be Southern California without some celebrity or photo shoot or filming going on.

On the quick plane ride home I just kept thinking of the line It’s a Wonderful Life. It is indeed!

my table for vendor night wtih crafty goodies

My table for the Artist’s Faire. Don’t you love the vintage dress form? I wish I could say she is mine, but she belong to my sweet friend Ruth Rae who let us borrow some of her beautiful props for the faire.

Yesterday, I pulled my dirty clothes from my suitcase and put them in the washer and dryer. I took them out and repacked them for tomorrow’s trip to the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee. Back to back trips can be tiring, but I always look forward to the incredible shopping at the Bead and Button Show because it’s where I get a lot of my supplies for my classes. That and the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. I also get to meet up with Susan. I haven’t seen her in person since CHA and 6 months is a long time. While we talk all the time for our business, it’s just not the same as getting to see each other and work in person.