October 20, 2015


I dislike this time of year. Don't get me wrong, I love this time of year for the weather, the changing seasons, getting jackets out again, and preparing for the cold that is sure to come up here in Wisconsin. What I don't like is that this time of year is full of such sadness. As I mentioned in my last post, my grandfather and brother passed away in 2013. Today is the two-year anniversary of my Paw's death. Six days from now is the day my brother was born. Plus, it's the start of the big holidays, none of which are as joyous as they once were now that two people who should be there, aren't. But I'm not looking for sympathy. While today is sad in some respects, it's also a day for reflection and celebration.

Paw was the perfect example of what a man — no, a person — should be. Kind, loving, generous, determined, persistent, honest, well-spoken, educated (though, not in the ways of academia), forthright, trustworthy, and appreciative, amongst other things. And, while today is sad because I really wish I could chat with him on Facebook and give him a hug, I'm more happy to just spend some time remembering him and all the good memories I have of him.

One particular memory goes way back, yet still feels like yesterday. For as long as I can remember, Paw would put his arm around you and firmly clap you on the back, and somehow, it was like he cupped his hand and always managed to hit the small of your back. He did this always. It didn't hurt, but it didn't feel good either, and it certainly made you squirm. I think he got a kick out of it. :-) Even now, I feel that loving sting.

I don't remember this picture, but this is one of my favorites of me and Paw. Me, as a little kidlet, picking at his toe. It's perfect, and perfectly captures the pure inquisitiveness of a child. (Also, how is it possible that this was 30 years ago?!)

Shortly after Paw died, Nana sent me this photocopy of a note Paw had written. I have it hanging on the wall in the hallway and I look at it every day. This is my daily reminder (in addition to the photo of me, him, and David that hangs by the door) of Paw. And I love and miss him dearly.

"One of the most important keys to success is having the discipline to do what you know what you should do, even when you don't feel like it."

March 25, 2015

SNAG pin-swap brooch: Polymer, colored pencil,
copper, nickel scatter pin
After a long hiatus from blog updates, I'm going to try and challenge myself to post more regularly. To be honest, it's hard to think about sitting down and writing when I get home from work — where I'm sitting down and writing most of the day. Most days, my head is so fried by the time I get home that I do what I can to turn it off a bit. And, given the choice between sitting in front of the computer for even longer or hopping into the studio, I more often choose the studio. And, come on, none of you would blame me for that!

Given that my last post was back in 2013, I've got a bit of catching up to do. Actually, instead of catching up on what I have done, I'm going to use this as a forum in which to show/talk about/explain what I am doing. And it might not always be pretty. You've been warned! I've struggled for a while with staying in the moment rather than focusing on the past, and I hope this blog will help me keep my eye on the present.

But before I dive into what's currently going on in my work/jewelry world, I want to mention a bit about what I've been fighting against (or for) since 2013. The past couple of years have been a whirlwind of heartbreaking events, including the deaths of both my grandfather and younger brother (who knows, I may write more about them later), and it's been a constant struggle for me to just get through the day, much less create major concept-driven work. Although I've been consistently making and working in the studio, it hasn't been easy. Nor has it been all that satisfying, if I'm being truly honest with myself.  I have not had to deal with death often in my life, and trying to handle two in a single year has proven to be something more difficult than I could ever imagine. I know I need to create to feel sane. To get my hands dirty. To fully focus my attention on something physical. To distract myself. And the tactic of (sometimes) dragging myself to the studio and just working has been a great therapy. Maybe it's like the gym...getting ready and walking out the door is the hardest part, but once you're there, you feel great. My life since 2013 has been a struggle in trying to maintain  some semblance of normalcy, but at the same time realizing how important it is to focus on the present and not dwell on the past or what may or may not happen. Am I succeeding at this? Definitely not. But am I trying? Absolutely. And making jewelry is a big part of that.

SNAG pin-swap brooch: Polymer, colored pencil, copper,
nickel scatter pin
But now, back to the present! One thing I'm working on right now is a series of polymer and copper brooches exclusively for the SNAG pin swap. I'm heading to SNAG in a couple of months (it's in Boston this year) to represent Art Jewelry magazine, as I did last year, but this time I'm bringing pins. At every conference is a pin swap on the first night. Folks make as many pins as they want to trade, and everyone gathers to chat, drink, eat, and trade brooches. This year, I'm not making very many pins, so I am going to be selective in my swaps. So if you want to trade, let me know! These are a few of the pins I've made so far. They're each about 1 1/2 in. tall, give or take a bit. The central portion is gray (or a pastel color) polymer colored with Prismacolor colored pencils. The pencil is sealed, and then I tab-set the polymer in a hand-sawn, filed, sanded, and patinated copper backplate with a nickel scatter pin on the back. Each piece is signed and dated.

I'm really looking forward to SNAG this year...it's become a reunion of sorts for friends I've known for many, many years and friends I've only met (or "met" online). For one crazy week it's like the outside world disappears and all there is to think about is makers, metal, everything non-metal, jewelry, craft, networking, friendship development, deep discussions of the field over drinks, spur-of-the-moment excursions and dinners, laughter, excitement, and more. And this year, I'm bringing pins!

P.S. Thanks to Anne Havel for putting the bug in my ear and spurring me on to get going on the pins. Can't wait to trade with you!