You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2009.

Last year at this time Studio 219 was but a tiny ember in the back of my mind. And now here we are celebrating our first Valentine’s Day. In honor of such an occasion I’ve designed a new pair of earrings: Handmade for 2009 Heart Earrings. In conducting my informal market research today at the yoga studio, the preschool parking lot & with my soon-to-be 7 year old. I’ve learned a few things: they’re pretty. some people are heart people & some are not. some people love to wear hearts all year round. others like to save them for special occasions. everyone loves handmade.

A little bit about these little charmers…The hearts are made of fine silver. I’ve fused and hammered and shaped and tumbled and patina’d them to get them where they are now. And may I say I love the fusing process. While it is not servicable for all your jewelry needs…it is a lot of fun and a fast way to get to the making of something without all the prep & clean up of soldering. That being said, soldering can be great, too. Glad I now know how to do both.  Everything else is connected with sterling silver wire; the pearls are freshwater. 

I’d love to play you some nice background music and extemporate on the value of love and having an open heart. However, Jayne Seymour & Kay Jewelers ruined that for us all, didn’t they? If you want to chat about that or what I think her Open Hearts design looks like, send me an e-mail.

So show the love for Studio 219, yourself, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a lover, a stranger ( I think you see where I’m going with this).  This Valentine’s consider going handmade. It’ll look like you love them more. 😉 Okay, okay love is not a contest. But it *will* look like to tried really hard this year and didn’t just cop out and do the Hallmark-for-the card/grocery-store-for-the-roses run on the way home from work. It’s early.  You have plenty of time to plan ahead and not end up at the mall. You can do it. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you. 😉

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Honestly, December could have easily been a no brainer. There are lots of choices everywhere you look. And though I know absolutely nothing about charitable giving trends, I would guess that numbers inch up just a bit during the holiday season. If I’m wrong, someone feel free to set me straight and let me know how it works. I may need the information for a game of Trivial Pursuit or just to spout off a random bit of  information that comes seemingly out of nowhere. Not the point.

We toyed with lots of ideas for our December challenge. Lo & behold we were delivered from our quandary by cable television. (this is where I need a good emoticon for eye rolling) We saw a commercial (of all things!) for The Great Sprout Tuck-in. Sprout has formed a partnership with the Pajama Project to provide new books and pajamas for children in need. The Pajama Project operates nationwide and many of their pajamas & goodnight books go to children in foster care. For the first year of The Great Sprout Tuck-in, Sprout will match donations for up to 100,000 children in need. Not a bad deal. Again, since one of our goals of the $30 Challenge is that the donation be something the kids can relate to, this was our December no brainer. My kids are  big fans of the get-into-jammies-and-Mom-read-stories routine. We practically jumped in the car and left for Target immediately.

Now here is the part I have come to love about this little challenge, even in the short time we’ve been doing it. Inevitably, we get to work on other lessons while getting our donation taken care of. This go round: the kids got a big lesson in making your money go farther. Carol Anne first picked out a lovely pair of Nick & Nora jammies for $14.99. She was thrilled with her choice so off we wandered to the boys’ section for Patrick to make his selection. Easy-peasy: a two pack of dinosaur jammies for $14.99.  Instantly, Carol Anne’s brow furrows: Patrick’s getting two pairs. So we had a brief lesson on how we were spending 30 dollars, they each got 15 dollars to spend, Patrick’s pick was the same amount of dollars but more jammies.  I swear a little lightbulb appeared above her head: Can I pick again? So we ended up with 4 brand new pairs of jammies to send to The Great Sprout Tuck-in. The Christmas miracle: neither child asked for a pair of pajamas for themselves.  (This trip. Baby steps…)

All in all, everyone was very pleased with our December choice for the challenge. Now when we see the commercial on Sprout, we have to rewind it and talk about the jammies we sent in and lots of , look, look we did that. And sometimes the jammies conversation leads to a reminisence of the November challenge and then, when are we going to pick for January. This is all quickly followed by an announcement that Carol Anne gets to pick for February since it is her birthday month*.   Maybe not all commercials are evil.

 Jammies for The Great Sprout Tuck-in

 

*She’s right, one of the rules is that most months we pick the charity together, but in your birthday month, you’re in charge. In charge of picking the charity. Let’s clear that up not,  ‘In Charge’-in charge

This time of year, everyone is making plans and resolutions. We’ve reviewed the past year and are mapping out how to make 2009 the best ever. Fine.  These days, personally, I have been reviewing the past decade and a half or so. I have two little personal anecdotes that keep running through my head as I continue on my Studio 219 journey (the ones for my regular life will require a password protected blog 😉 ).

I now have a business selling my jewelry, some of you are reading this with a Studio 219 bracelet on your wrist or a pair of Studio 219 earrings dangling from your earlobes (and if not, well you need to fix that & I happen to know just the girl to hook you up!) I can’t pretend this was a life long goal of mine. I’ve never really been a life-long goal type of girl more like a let’s give this a try & see what happens. When I was at the University of North Texas, I decided I had to have a degree in Art History. Well, there were two degree plans back then for Art History majors: Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Fine Arts. Long story short, my decision hinged on this alone: BA=math & science courses, BFA=no math. I would do whatever it took to avoid the math classes, so art studio hours it was for me. I needed like 12 studio hours and at the dawn of my sophomore year, I figured I had *plenty* of time to get around to them. I took my 3 required drawing classes and nearly died. Taking a three-dimensional object (be it a plant, a building or some random nude person), lopping off a dimension and smashing it onto paper was not my forte.  I started to get a bit nervous about my options. I, clearly, was not going for anything related to painting or drawing or printmaking. The sculpture department was sort of testosterone fueled & since I run on estrogen, didn’t feel like waging that particular battle. Fiber arts, well, I was already getting an Art History degree & fielding lots of underwater basket weaving-type comments, so I skipped that, too. Which left me with ceramics & metalsmithing. Sign me up! So my last year in college I took beginning metalsmithing & beginning ceramics in the fall, the intermediate dose of those two in the spring and graduated on time (if you put a four-year degree on a five year calendar). I also wanted to change my degree and be a metalsmithing major. But my corporate sponsor (thanks again, Dad) didn’t think it made a whole lot of sense to start at least half-way over at that point.  So graduate & move back to Houston it was for me. But even as I sold tower packing and apparently adopted (some of) the vocabulary of a chemical engineer*, I still kept an interest in the arts. I visited museums, got a Master’s in Art Education and tried to figure out ways to make jewelry without a full studio. And eventually the sophomore that couldn’t imagine lighting a torch is now selling her jewelry and teaching herself fine silver fusing (which clearly cannot be done without the flame).

My point is that after almost 13 years I finally feel able to let myself recognize the value in my degree. I mean *I* always saw some value (though not the kind of value that comes with dollar signs) in it: I loved it, I’m not afraid of museums (don’t laugh, lots of people harbor anxiety about art), and I know some really cool tidbits that have enabled me to become a supreme repository of random information. But with the benefit of time and experience I  can now see how my decisions and choices lead me down to the path I’m on now. Basically, all I’m sayin’ is,  it’s just interesting to look back every now and then at the threads in your life that come together to make your tapestry. (I hear that’s how tapestries are made, since I skipped the weaving courses, I have no direct experience 😉 )

My intention here is not to distill out a life lesson, ’cause I’m not comfortable assuming my life has lessons for you. I could start with all the hindsight’s 20/20, never give up on a dream, live for the moment, find your passion business but other people have build their fortunes on selling you that. But this more along the lines of how fun/beneficial/therapeutic it can be to look back and see the threads that connect the past to the present  May I also add that perhaps my let’s just give this a shot and see where it ends up is not necessarily the worst philosophy on the planet…it just sometimes takes a while to be able to actually find out where you end up. Maybe I’m not as impatient as I thought. Trying to force the future doesn’t seem to work for me.

And the other anecdote is much shorter. In graduate school,once again browsing the class catalog trying to figure out some elective courses,  I came across a class offered through the art department called something like Writing for Artists. I remember asking my professor what on earth that was, she said it was to help artists learn to write about themselves (like for artist statements, bios,etc.) and about their art.  At the time, I conceded that well, I guess sometime those that express visually may not be as strong with verbal expression. My program focused pretty heavily on verbal expression, so at the time it didn’t apply to me at all. But over the past few months trying to write all that kind of stuff about myself and my work…well, it’d be nice to have that experience in my arsenal.

And here she is, the one & only drawing to survive my adventures in drawing at the University of North Texas. And she only exists because I figured out that I could only begin to approximate life on paper if I drew with my left hand (I’m right-handed) and in red. True story.

 

*True story, take 2: One day I was on the phone with a customer trying to explain how and why he need to be treating his water with sequestering agents to keep the minerals from precipitating out of the water and finally he says, well, since I’m not a chemical engineer like you are, could you run the data and let me know what I need to fix this problem.  I almost laughed out loud/fell out of my chair/fainted dead away. I could run the numbers (thanks again, Dad for the calculator program) but he was no more talking to a chemical engineer than, well, I was. He had an art history major that was working on a Master’s in art education that had *never* even set foot in a chemistry class room on the other end of the phone. Poor guy.