Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Putting Life into Living

Finally, a new update to my blog! Since my last post, I have a new website, all new work, and a new hairdo!

So much has changed, yet some things stay the same. I am changing and growing for the better, and leaving some old fears and bad habits behind that have inhibited my ability to find out what all I am capable of creating and doing in this precious allotment of time I have here on this beautiful planet.

I am more devoted to my work than ever before.
December 2012, I decided I needed a new business plan. Some type of framework, and setting of goals to realize my dreams as a Maker. I wished for some type of a business plan for a creative type, like myself. You know the type: she has lots of ideas, is constantly inspired, yet easily distracted, and gets bogged down, and overwhelmed in the "business side" of making Art. Add to that, a heavy dose of shyness, and fear of rejection and you have a bit of a mess when trying to make one's Art viable, or profitable. I had confidence in my work, but how, and where do I begin?

One morning in January 2013 I received an Email from "Creative Live!" a website I found through my friend, Terry Golas. "Right Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee" was the title of the email. BINGO. A three day, FREE, live webcast led by Jennifer Lee. FREE? I'm in. I signed up for the webcast, bought the book and the kit. I dreaded the thought of being glued to my computer for three days, especially on a weekend. But I WAS glued - Jennifer was a very good presenter, had great ideas and knew exactly how to speak to CREATIVES. She has taken all the basic elements of a traditional business plan and tailored it to us.
I have been putting the ideas and practices to work for the past six months, and I feel more confident that I can not only accomplish my goals as an artist, and am finding more ways to grow my work as an artist.
Of course, this is a lot of work, and life has a way of sending me roadblocks, but I am learning to get back up and dust myself off, and keep going. I have learned to reach out to my wonderful and supportive friends when I need help. I can not do this alone, none of us can. I am now working with Laura Burns, of Laura Burns Consulting, who also is a teacher of RBBP. (right brain business plan) We get together and set goals for my business, and she has been excellent at connecting me with others to help me accomplish my goals.

I am working hard on this. One of my goals is to be able to teach others how to reach their goals as a Craft Artist. My passion for Art began when I was a small child, watching my grandfather make things out of wood, or any other types of natural or found objects. I knew I wanted to make things also. As I got older, I loved to draw, paint, but especially make things. I still have some of his work, these items are so precious to me. As I child I thought they were the most beautiful things in my world. He was an artist in my mind.

But I must tell the rest of the story. As an adult, I visited him in his apartment in Waxahachie, TX. I walked in and the whole apartment was filled with items he had made. Carved wooden chains, carved and fabricated objects amazingly inside of a bottle, delicate carved wooden fans, little chairs made from twigs and string, every shelf filled with his work. He gave me several items. I wished out loud for a way that he could sell his work.  After he passed away several years later, I was speaking to some people that knew him and cared for him. I asked them about the items he had made, and if they knew where they were. "All that junk? Oh, we threw all that out." was their reply.

The thought of his work being lost haunts me still. It is my fuel to guide me as I seek ways to make my work sustainable and viable. Fuel that I need to keep putting my work out there, to find those who appreciate it, so that my work, my god given talents, are not wasted or put aside never to see the light of day. I meet artists like my self often, right here in Houston, who struggle like me to make this job of "Making" work. We have to keep trying to grow awareness of the value of the work of local artists.
Recently I visited The Craft Guild of Dallas. It is a wonderful facility for artists to work, take classes, sell and promote their work to the public. The following was on a sign in their gallery:

"When you buy from an independent artist you are buying more than just a painting or a novel or a song. You are buying hundreds of hours of experimentation and thousands of failures. You are buying days, weeks, months, years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You are buying nights of worry and days of total excitement. You aren't just buying a thing, you are buying a piece of heart, part of a soul, a private moment in someone's life.  Something that puts the life into living."

That says it all for me, how about you?
Until next time,
Mary Jarvis

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Exhibition in Motion: Jewelled eXcess

I was thrilled and honored to be a model in the Exhibition in Motion live jewelry and bustier show at the Houston Museum of Art during the SNAG Conference. I am the second person you see in this video wearing "Dragon Lady" beaded armor piece by Vanessa Walilko and a bustier designed by Viet Nguyen.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Back from SNAG

SNAG? What's that? Well, it could describe a metalsmiths' manicure, but it really stands for Society of North American Goldsmiths. The annual conference was held here in Houston last week. I'm looking over my notes and thought I would add some of my scribbles from the presentations and events. The following is a jumble of quotes from the lecture and thoughts that came to mind as I listened.

Caroline Broadhead - she looks at the word extreme: first you have to have a reference point and then judge what is extreme from that. What is the reference? Where do you go from there? How far can you go?

Jewelry that makes you think

Jewelry could be a starting point. why stop there - why not include clothing as a part of "jewelry."

Caroline worked in performance - clothing for dance - aware of the body and how the clothing expressed the movements or not.

Theme - boundaries of the human body

She was intrigued and inspired by a house with a gate. No fence. Just a gate. The gate created an invisible boundary.

Themes: dance, shadow, invite touch, evidence of human contact

The Body is not a mannequin for wearables

She observed the jewelry and clothing of African Women. Many rows of Necklaces - did they wear them at night?

Randomness - - - leads to order

working randomly - - leads to beauty

Protesting measuring Protesting numbers

management of uncertainty

finding ones end what is the shape of my edge finding out the extreme

I particularly like the "protest of measuring" and randomness leads to Beauty

I experienced this as I worked on my pins for the famous "Pin Swap" event at the SNAG conferences.
My plan was to make 30 pins that would include one of my eye beads similar to the one in my "Eye Catcher" brooch I made recently. To save time, I did not worry about the beads being an exact size. After those were finished (it took me about 2.5 hours (with only one that broke.) I cut 30 lengths of 12 ga. copper wire and melted the ends of each one to make a head pin. Again, I made them random lengths some short, some long, thinking I could trim as needed. As I hammered the end of the head pin after putting the bead on, I found it was easier to hammer the longer ones. So I did not trim any of the randomly cut head pins. After finishing all of the eye pendants, I wanted to see what they would look like all together on a necklace. Each pendant would hang by a safety pin that would be easy to remove and SWAP. I began to decide how to arrange the 30 pendants. I started lining them up like a row of children: the short ones first, and on up to the tall ones. Amazingly, they began to form a graduated line. Stair Steps if you will. I thought this was beautiful so I found a long chain and hung them like graduated hanging pearls. At this point I began to wonder if I could part with this collection of beads.
This excersize of making 30 things in a random way brought much pleasure and I learned that order and beauty can come from randomness. I hate to measure anyway.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Surface Decoration using Flame and Gravity

The more I teach the more important it becomes to teach two major tools that are often overlooked. These tools aren't something you order from a catalog. If you already have a bead making set up on the planet earth, then you already have them: Gravity and the Flame. I had a student who told me after a recent class that she had never been taught to use the different temperatures of the flame. She had almost given up on beadmaking because everything she made melted too fast and therfore could not produce detail work like other glass beads she had seen.

This made me realize how important it is for students to learn to use the entire length of the flame. Sometimes when I'm teaching I remind myself of my piano teacher. "Keep those elbows up!" or "don't slouch" she would say over and over. At least I don't use a ruler to "tap" on my students when they don't listen! The flame on a minor torch has a vast range of temperatures you can utilize for various techniques. Close to the torch the flame is about 1600 degrees. Following up the visible flame (with didium glasses) the temperature drops a hundred degrees every inch or so until the invisible part of the flame is about 900 - 1000 degrees. This is where you flame anneal your work before placing into the kiln set at 960. So even more important that in piano playing, you have to keep your elbows up so that your arms are free to move your glass creation around in the flame at the right temperature. Let's say your attempt at laying on a stringer worked and the most perfect curved line now appears on your bead. If your elbows are comforably resting on the table or rests, you may not be able to move it out of the hot flame in time to save it. If you have your elbows up and ready for action, you can move that nice raised stringer line to a cooler part of the flame and pulse the heat towards the stringer to make sure it is securely melted into the matrix of the bead, yet not melt it in too much.

I recommend reading an article by Jim Smircich on using the heat to create your bead. That's where I learned about it.

Try making a long barrel shaped bead in white. Then place horizontal black stringers on the bead spaced fairly evenly. After warming the entire bead, try directing the flame towards one section of the bead while you rotate the bead in a steady fashion. for example: Heat just one end of the bead or straight down the middle. when the stringer starts to melt in, and the glass starts to slightly flow, hesitate just a nanosecond, then rotate about a 1/8 of a turn and hesitate, etc. You will begin to see the lines start to sag, making a wavy line in the middle. Continue this untill all the lines in the middle are wavy. During this process you may find that the glass starts to flow too much and so you have to rotate AND move the bead higher in the flame. Remember that glass retains the heat and so the heat is accumulated and retained in the glass so that the same temperature flame will continue to make the glass warmer and warmer and warmer. It's always OK to move the bead up through the flame to the annealing area if you want to "freeze frame" an area of the bead you are working on. You can always go back and reheat the bead and make changes or additions.