Sunday, August 25, 2013


When I'm feeling sentimental, I feel like expressing it by writing it down. My mind wanders, and I can be very close to a good way.

There are a few things I saved of my Dad's. These were personal items that possess a tactile memory, a scent of his, that provide comfort for me in some way ~ that he is still around somehow.

His shaving brush, worn down because he knew this one would see him out, is just like the one I used when I was a kid pretending to shave alongside him in the mirror. He would lather it up nice and foamy using the cake soap that had a circular concave path worn in the middle. I can smell the soap deep in the bristles. There is a magnet glued to the base so that it could be hung upside down in the medicine cabinet to dry properly.

I think we all have things, objects that quench our need to stay connected and remembering. I saved his glasses and case, his comb which has now lost the smell of his hair (hint of Brylcreem), and his pillow cases. I spent a lot of meaningful growing-up time with my Dad. SO many great memories.

I stay connected with my Mom through her jewelry ~ the same pieces that I tried on growing up. The jewelry that came from Malta, from Cairo, and Krakow, and many many other places far away. We connected on many many levels, but jewelry is the object we shared.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hand Engraving

Back in the late 80's I started taking jewelry making classes at the Technical College in downtown Minneapolis. I started with casting, because I had never learned that during my college experience the previous decade. Little did I know that it would ignite my interest in jewelry making.

A unique class that was only offered a couple of sessions was hand engraving. It was taught by Joe Manges, a self-taught perfectionist who worked on his craft and scaled the tool-making and cutting learning curve for 15 years. I took both of his classes and really liked the traditional rules and history. His advice to me about sliding off...."Just don't do it!" His voice is what sits on my right shoulder when I am working. It's strict and not very forgiving. In spite of his voice, I enjoy doing the work.

My knowledge about engraving is limited - limited by what I could learn from my engraving mentor, and time and guidance to push forward. There is so much I don't know and so much I need to learn that would add so much beauty and uniqueness to my pieces.

This September, I will be traveling to Emporia, Kansas, to take a week-long class in hand engraving. I'm really excited to dig in and learn aspects I have not attempted. I am ready to push forward!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Traveler's Talisman

As with all of my current jewelry designs, the Traveler's Talisman was completely inspired by the stone - oh, that tiffany stone! This stone was a true find. I fell in love with it and started designing this most recent pendant by gathering up ideas. I saw a weary traveler in the stone, resting on the mountainside. He's wearing a pointy white cap, pointy black shoes, and a striped coat. Do you see him? He is a traveler of the land... a traveler in life!
 I have done a lot of traveling. Each time I traveled I considered what jewelry to wear, what jewelry to pack, what was comfortable and easy and what worked. Often I wore things that I didn't have to take off. If it's ON me, it can't be left behind, dropped, lost. It's funny, but I think this idea stuck with me through my life. It needs to be well-made and not fragile. It needs to be able to stand up to wear, gathering patina along the way, traveling or not. Enduring.

When traveling in Buenos Aires (this could have happened anywhere) I was attacked for my gold necklace. It was on a short chain and visible, obviously made from a piece of substantial gold, and it made me vulnerable. The thief lunged at me with his grabbing hand headed for my throat. At the time I didn't know he was after my necklace... I thought he was after my throat. (He didn't succeed in stealing the gold ingot/zodiac pendant I had made - the one that matched those made for my daughters!) So here are the considerations I had for my Traveler's Talisman:
- The pendant should be able to hang inside or outside of a shirt... visible sometimes, but tuckable.
- Comfort is essential so it is suspended on a rounded double strand of rolo chain.
- While the front is beautiful and significant, the goodies of gold and amethyst and hand engraving are on the back. It can be reversible, but lovely for the wearer to know they are wearing a unique and personal piece...kind of a secret.
- If the necklace were grabbed, it would break away (the chain that was ripped from my neck was a single strand of gold rolo chain. If it had not broken, my neck would have been injured).
- The amethyst, set in a 14K gold bezel, is a stone that through time has been thought to be good fortune for the traveler. The compass rose that radiates from the amethyst is a traditional fixture on maps. The design ideas for the compas rose (radial design) are endless.

Whether we are travelers of the land or simply travelers through life, the Traveler's Talisman holds beauty and significance.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nature's Perfection

Going back here to around the mid-60's... so many great memories of going around town with my parents. My Dad's love of rocks and polished stones took us to many places and on trips dedicated to picking rocks.
Dave's Rock Shop in Evanston Illinois, neighboring my home town of Wilmette, was a frequent stop for us. My dad had mom pick out 'as close to matching' polished stones for him to make into earrings, by gluing on backs. Bill, my brother, and I wandered around fascinated by fossils and cool stones. The selection was endless, and displayed for touching. In later years, a basement museum of artifacts was added. What a great place to take kids!

When designing jewelry with stone, my aim is to 'honor the stone'; design is totally driven by what I love most about the stone. These pieces have been my favorites to date.

Here's a gem that I'd like to go back to sometime soon! Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


This was my Mom's neck piece. It's noisy, it's tribal, it's raw. I'm not sure where she found it, but she thoroughly enjoyed wearing it  - especially around my girls when they were tiny. I know she delighted in the impact of this piece, and I loved seeing her wear it. She would so easily drape it over my toddlers as they ran around the house, and I loved seeing it being shared and enjoyed.

I've been thinking about this piece lately. I am getting reacquainted with it and love it all over again. It has a great feel - hefty and substantive. The components are simple, but blend and mesh in a really great way. The pieces are strung on 'whatever was available at the time' - an old piece of fabric... and yet it endures.

This piece is an inspiration to me. As my Mom inspired me, she continues to inspire me. Remembering how she was with her many precious jewels and how she appreciated the most basic, is where it's at for me. Rich.

Monday, February 11, 2013


The art that I make at this point in my life makes sense to me. Knowing the reasons for 'making' and why I make what I do has brought clarity to my designs. Having this clarity about design brings about clean and simple things that work...getting rid of the chaff. I am seeing and finding the wheat in my process. Finally.

I am not painterly with my work - my jewelry nor my painting. I thrive (yes, thrive) on formulaic structures and patterns. Knowing what comes next helps drive my processes of getting there, and I want to get there efficiently and cleanly. This is not to say that I don't want to get my hands dirty... I love the mess and smells and serendipitous twists and turns. I find comfort in walking into a space that smells like 'wax-clean', liver of sulfer, torched surfaces and shellac; toxic smells that center me... make me feel at home. After all these years, it's jewelry that continues to turn me on. My drawing and painting is always there ready and waiting patiently for my attention. My mainstay in the storm.

It is not surprising that I seek some chaos in my creative life. Studying and performing improvisational comedy has provided my brain a source of having no clue about what will happen next! Working collaboratively with NO control continues to be challenging and exciting. I appreciate this new avenue very it simultaneously moves my creativity forward and scares the hell out of me. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hand Finished

Dusk and Dawn
Sagrestia Nuova, San Lorenzo, Florence)

These figures adorn the edges of a sarcophagus. They are beautifully sculpted with Dusk almost featureless, with unfinished feet and hands. Dawn, is turning purposely toward the viewer, exuding power and vitality. (Surprisingly, this is the only female nude Michelangelo ever sculpted!) Both of these figures are beautifully finished... finished with that final extra step, to make the sculptures exemplary.

When I was 13 traveling with my family, we took many tours in many different places, and saw many beautiful things. I remember bits and pieces of information - ideas and thoughts that have been tucked away somewhere and remembered briefly here and there throughout my life. I remember the tour guide saying that these particular sculptures were finished by hands...hands rubbing straw over the surface of the marble for hours upon hours. The straw not only burnished a beautiful shine (almost skin-like) on the surface of the marble, but left a beautiful, warm tone over the stone. I remember looking at them, understanding in another way, why these artworks were exemplary.

Finished artwork, whether rough or smooth, figurative or not, has the touch of the hands. This is the intimate connection between the artist and the work. To finally touch, polish, and proclaim it done, the artist seals the end of the process. That final lingering is that final touch. Hand finished.