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December 13th shop update + year end SALE!

leather raven necklace with iridescent gemstones

New work just added ~

I’ve just posted a small shop update, which includes a small collection of necklaces, leather pendants, and hair accessories!

While I’d hoped to have more to share tonight, it just wasn’t in the cards. As is typical for the Pacific Northwest this time of year, it has been dark and gloomy and dumping rain all week. Not ideal weather for photography (in fact, I’ll likely go back and re-photograph many of these pieces the next time that the weather is favorable). Perhaps I’ll trickle in a few more pieces over the weekend if time and light allows.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy the pieces that I’ve shared tonight! Also, just a friendly reminder that my holiday ordering dates are coming up quickly. If you’re in the US, there’s still time to order for the holidays, though I’d urge you not to procrastinate too much!

Year end Sale  (*added 12/15) ~

Enjoy tiered discounts through the end of 2018:

* Orders of $50+ enjoy 10% off

* Orders of $100+ enjoy 15% off

* Orders of $200+ enjoy 25% off

Hopefully, this helps you with your holiday shopping, and it certainly helps me to clear the way for new work in the year ahead! Thank you for empowering me to do what I love for a living!

Sale runs from 12/15/18 – 12/31/18

Cali Love Fire Benefit Tattoo & Holiday Gift Bazaar on Sunday 12/16 ~

Last but not least, I mentioned in my last post that my November giveaway winner is choosing to donate her prize to the Cali Love Fire Benefit Tattoo & Holiday Gift Bazaar this Sunday 12/16 at Eye of the Tiger Tattoo in San Francisco. The proceeds from this event will go to benefit the families who are working to rebuild their lives after the #Campfire in Paradise, CA last month. Two of my friends’ families lost their home in that fire, so this event is near and dear to my heart. With that said, I am choosing to match Angel’s donation of my Sacred Heart sugar skull mask, by adding a second “Abuelita” sugar skull mask. If you’re in the Bay Area this weekend, please consider attending and supporting this special cause!

leather sugar skull masks

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Disaster Relief Offerings

 

leather rose hair stick barrettes

These leather rose barrettes , shawl pins, and monarch wing earrings were inspired by my desire to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Before they were completed, disaster touched down in Florida and Puerto Rico as well. Thus, 50% of the proceeds from these pieces will be donated to the American Red Cross.

leather monarch butterfly wing earrings with glass flowers
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Water is Life

blue kyanite and sterling silver pendants
blue kyanite and sterling silver pendants

When I learned about the stand off over the proposed pipeline near the Standing Rock reservation, my heart went out to all of the good people fighting for clean water. I fantasized about going out there to help – and really tried to find a way to do so – but at the end of the day, that’s not really a viable option for me. Not only would that put a financial strain on my family, but even if I could figure out a way to get there, I’m not in good health. They need able bodied workers and warriors who can pull their own weight, anything less is a drain on much needed resources.

When I finally realized and accepted that fact,  I tried to think of something positive that I could contribute. I’d already donated what little money I could spare, so I decided to donate my time and creativity instead. I remembered that I had these beautiful kyanite beads that I’d been hoarding for several years, and that I bought them because they reminded me of sparkling water droplets. I spent an evening wrapping these stones with sterling silver wire, and praying for the people of Standing Rock – and for all beings who need clean water to live. I strung the pendants on some sterling chains that I’d been hoarding (yes, I’m a bit of a hoarder – this is the nature of beadworkers) and hoped that a few people might be willing to buy them for a good cause.

I listed the necklaces here on my website and then shared their story on social media… and I was completely blown away by the response! The pendants sold out within 3 hours, and I received several requests to make more. I made a second batch over the weekend, and those sold out in less than half an hour after being listed. That’s a sign of how much people want to be able to help. All told, we raised $400 to help support the folks at Standing Rock! In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge sum of money … but I’d like to believe that what we did together was about more than money. I mean, yes – money is important too. The people out there on the front lines need food, water, shelter and all that good stuff, and the funds that we raised will help them to keep doing their good work. But we also raised our prayers; I sincerely hope that every time you wear your necklaces, it reminds you that water is sacred and to live in a way that reflects that. I hope that these pieces will be beautiful and special enough to prompt questions, so that you get the chance to tell people why you wear them. In this way, our prayers and hope can ripple out and help to raise more awareness about what’s happening out there in North Dakota, and at similar waterways around the globe.

This effort is certainly not over, and the water protectors have a long cold winter ahead. They’ll need our support – our prayers, voices, and resources – if they’re to succeed. I vow to keep praying, to keep calling our elected officials, and to keep sharing information and raising awareness. I’ll also make another effort to raise funds, though it may not be as much as last time (sorry, I’m just not in a financial position to give as much as I’d like to!). I hope that you will join me in any way that you can.


love water not oilMost First People have chants or songs about the sacred nature of water. Water is even used for baptism in Christian religions. I hear that even the waters have their distinct songs as they journey toward the oceans.

We live on a single globe of water, all of it one entity. It is alive, this elemental force, this yearning sacred creation, longing to reach an ocean. This is our body, and perhaps we are a part of its soul. It is always moving away, traveling and then returning, in its glorious circle. And we know that when we sing for water, we sing for ourselves.

~ Linda Hogan

 

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Stories of the 9/11 Bead Quilt Squares

Last night I was flooded with memories of working on the 9/11 Bead Quilt Project, and the many beautiful stories behind the squares. This project touched my life in a profound way; while it demanded an incredible amount of time, energy and commitment, I can honestly say that what I gave is a fraction of what I got back.  With that said, I wanted to share some of the beautiful, loving efforts that the beading community created during a difficult time <3

I’d like to share this first image in acknowledgement of one of our most dedicated coordinators, Rosa meyer. The bright blue squares (“our beads help…”) were her brain child, and this theme is repeated at the center of each of the 3 quilts. The one for DC has a series of red squares that read “Our beads help to remember the fathers, the mothers”. The one for PA has white squares that say “Our beads help to comfort the sons, the daughters”, and the one for NY (shown here) has blue squares with the words “Our beads help to honor the heroes, the victims”.

Thank you Rosa for your enduring passion and commitment to this project, and for keeping it visible in the (many) years that we searched for permanent placement!

9/11 bead quilt block
“Our beads help to honor the heroes and victims”

The 4 squares shown in this image were created by Julia Pretl, who was not only our coordinator for the MD area, but our (extremely talented) web designer. She helped to problem solve for the BQ project starting from day one, and on up to nearly 10 years later, when we finally secured permanent placement for the quilts.

Thank you so much Julia, for all your help and for putting up with so much of my crazy over these past 15 years!
dc3_a2

This block includes squares by our NM coordinator, Nikia Angel (thank you Nikia!) as well as Rita Sova (angel) , Lisabeth Tafoya (in high resolution microbeads!) and the ever awesome Mary Tafoya. Her square commemorates the life of a NM man, Al Marchand, who was a flight attendant on flight 175.

ny3_a3

Notice how several of the squares in this block are from Japan? There are many others throughout the quilt, most with the same red/yellow/green pattern as the one in the lower left corner. These came from a group of Japanese artists who worked on their squares together … many of them learned how to bead in order to participate in this project!

dc1_a1
This block represents some of the MANY beaded squares collected by our AK coordinator, Jeanette Shanigan (I don’t remember exactly how many AK contributed, but it was a lot! Jeanette will tell you the exact #).

The one in the lower right (by Karen Palmer) showcases one of the most popular designs used in the quilt, a rose/flag motif, designed by my sweet friend Charlene Hughes, who was our CA coordinator.

Next to that (lower left) is a square by Kate Boyan, which especially touched my heart. She has been – and still is – one of my favorite bead artists, so it was a wonderful surprise to me when her square came in! There were many “famous” bead artists who contributed to this project, but to me they were all just good people coming together for a special cause … in her case, I have to admit to feeling a bit star struck!

dc1_a2

These two squares by Anne Brazeale of AK are just a small sample of the many squares that we received from Native American beadworkers. I think she is Tlingit, but perhaps one of the beaders from the Mat Su Valley Bead Society will see this and let me know for sure.

dc3_b4

There are so many special stories that I could share about these squares, and about our travels with the quilts as we worked to find permanent placement for them! I need to get on with my day today, but I will try to remember to share more of these as time allows. Many thanks to all of the wonderful people who helped with this project – artists, coordinators, supporters, viewers, and more. I appreciate you all, more than I can say.

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Such a long long time to be gone…

“You need music, I don’t know why. It’s probably one of those Joseph Campbell questions, why we need ritual. We need magic and bliss, and power and myth, and celebration and religion in our lives and music is a good way to encapsulate a lot of it.”

~ Jerry Garcia

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We stand with Orlando

An old friend posted this to Facebook the other day. Her words are such an apt (and eloquent) summary for my own feelings; I wanted to save them, and to share them in hopes that others might be moved as well:

This is for all of the people from all walks of life that stand in unity with the people that died in Orlando and say “We are All Orlando.” In a greater sense it is true. We all could be killed at a bar or a dance club (Orlando). We could be killed at a work holiday party (San Bernardino), at a school (Sandy Hook), a concert (Paris) a college campus (Virginia Tech) or a restaurant (Paris, also McDonalds USA). We could be killed for having a sense of humor (Charlie Hebdo, Paris). Everyone’s life mattered. Everyone was important. Thank you for knowing that.

At this time we mourn for those that died in Orlando.

Please do something to foster harmony in remembrance. Volunteer at local center, help your neighbor, sign a petition, give someone you love a hug, and know that you are lucky to be here. Live more. Love more. Be better. Everyone.

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Wednesday Inspiration – Baked Alaskan Designs

baked-alaskaMy friends Phil and Julie are a couple of hippies who live up in Alaska, in a house that they built themselves. Now some of you might react by thinking “ewww, hippies!” but rest assured that they’re the cool kind of hippies; they are homesteading, homeschooling, organic gardening, child rearing, chicken raising, art making hippies who make the world brighter just by being in it.

Julie is a beadworker, and Phil helps with her small business, Baked Alaskan Designs . As you can see
from the photos, she creates gorgeous, heirloom quality bead baked-alaska3embroidered barrettes. Her “Stealie” barrettes are very popular, though I’m especially fond of her rosette style barrettes. They remind me of the type of beadwork that I used to see at Pow Wows – bold, elaborate and carefully crafted. Recent instagram posts from Julie suggest that she may have some new tricks up her sleeve as well. I’m excited to see the new ideas that she’s working on; so far, they look stunning!

She opened their Etsy shop a little over a year and a half ago and quickly found her niche, not only in terms of her work, but as far as community. She gravitated baked-alaska2toward groups of artists that network and encourage each other, and she clearly strives to support her fellow creatives. Julie often shares tips and info with me, and she shares my work (and the work of her many creative friends) on social media. Those things may sound small, but they’re actually HUGE. Making a living as an artisan is no small feat, so it means a lot that Julie not only  focuses on trying to make her business successful, she actively tries to bring others with her on that road to success.

With that said, I’m inspired by Julie’s art AND by her attitude. Thank you for being one of the good ones, may it come back to you tenfold <3

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The Return of Wednesday Inspiration (featuring Mermaiden Creations)!

Those ofBrown velvet tricorn hat you who follow my blog (all two of you) may remember way back when I used to do this thing called “Wednesday Inspiration”. It served two purposes: one was to celebrate and promote other artists that I admire, and the other was to give myself a writing prompt in hopes that it would get me to blog more regularly. So every Wednesday (or every other Wednesday… or as often as I could find the time) I would share images and links from artist friends and strangers who inspire me to be more creative.

butterfly wing earrings
“Waiting on the Eastern Glow” earrings

I’m bringing that back – in part because I’m trying to post more often, and partially because I realize that I fret and complain too much about copycats and jackasses. While the latter concerns are real and should not be swept under the rug completely, there is GOOD stuff happening in the creative community too. I’d like to make a greater effort to celebrate that. My motivation for this is summed up nicely by this quote: “Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate”.


So without further ado, today I’m sharing a few pieces by Mermaiden Creations. My friend Julie creates work that”is the stuffs of fairy tales and legends; curious offerings of nature, weird beauty, wild and fey-inspired organically imperfect designs”. She moves fluidly from jewelry design to millinery work, to hair accessories and home decor.

Sterling and labradorite ring by Mermaiden Creations
“Midnight Moon”labradorite ring

Her work is imaginative, dreamlike, organic, untamed… and skillfully crafted. I own a few pieces of her jewelry and one of her scarves, so when I attest to the quality of her work, I am speaking from affection and experience. I’ve showcased a small handful of my favorite pieces here, but I encourage you to visit her Etsy shop or to follow her on facebook in order to see more of her beautiful work!

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Featured Artist – Aaron Silverman

Aaron Silverman of Silverman Workshop is a fellow mask maker. He was one of the winners in the recent “Mask of Death” contest over at the Leather Mask Art group on Deviantart; his entry is shown below:

Bog Mummy by Silverman Workshop
Bog Mummy by Silverman Workshop

In his own words: ‘I chose to model my mask after a picture I saw of a bog mummy named, “Tollund Man”. It amazed me how well his face was preserved! He looks as if he just laid down and fell asleep. I can even see ancient stubble that grew on his face. Because of his remarkable preservation in a Danish bog I would consider his face a mask of death.’

When asked for a bio, Aaron said “I’m not professional by any stretch of the imagination. I mainly just consider myself a tinkerer of sorts. I think since I’ve started about 2ish years ago I’ve really been trying to find a style of my own. Emotion is really what I’ve been wanting to convey in my mask making. Like the one I made for the contest and I made another like it a while back called the crying mask.

Really though, my collection of mask styles have been pretty diverse. I was enjoying making Mardi Gras or carnival masks just because they are outlandishly decorated and historically rich.

So yeah besides that I’m very much a hobbyist, though I’m not one to turn down a commission.”

I’ve just liked his facebook page, and I hope you’ll do the same. Between his innate talent and his willingness to explore and take risks with his work, it’ll be fun to watch him develop his style and skills. On that note, please enjoy these images of Aaron’s work:

The Crying Mask by Silverman Workshop
The Crying Mask by Silverman Workshop

He posted a very cool back story on this piece over on his DA page.

Royal Jester by Silverman Worksho
Royal Jester by Silverman Workshop

 

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Questions for the mask making community

A recent bout with copycats made me realize how many other artisans struggle with this issue. While it may seem like a personal problem, I think the long term effects are problematic for the whole community. Hopefully, prompting a discussion can also prompt solutions …

In the last few years, leather mask making has become wildly popular. What was once a fairly obscure craft is now a rapidly growing niche, with an abundance of newcomers. It’s great for the art form – new blood brings fresh ideas and energy, and established artists can pass along their techniques, ensuring that they won’t be lost over time. What’s not so great is that many hobbyists aren’t taking time to develop their own style before they start selling. Instead, they replicate established artisans’ work and sell the copies at discount rates alongside the originals. This practice is counter to the spirit of good craftsmanship, and it’s damaging to everyone involved: A flooded market decreases uniqueness, quality and value, and it confuses customers. Experienced artists are forced to compete with low quality copies of their own work (often priced at or below wholesale) and the copycats barely get paid for their materials, let alone their time.

I’m really feeling the impact of this and sadly, I’m not alone. Some mask artisans no longer show their work online, while others have simply given up the craft in frustration. It’s hard to feel excited or inspired when your ideas and livelihood are copied before you’re finished exploring them. That may sound like a whole lot of whining, but really does go deeper than that. When talented artists stop showing their work or leave the field completely, it’s a loss for the whole community. While experienced artists are giving up, there’s an incoming crop of artisans that aren’t actually learning to create. They’re hungry for (and sometimes demanding) free tutorials and patterns, yet they seem afraid to experiment on their own. A critical facet of creativity is being willing to take risks and make mistakes. How will the art form grow if everyone just plays it safe and regurgitates what’s already been done?

Let me clarify that I’m not hating on beginners. We all start somewhere. Some of the newer mask makers are creating outstanding work. They’ve used tutorials as a springboard for their own ideas, with innovative, high quality results. What’s more, they acknowledge their teachers, graciously showing appreciation and building community. With this mutually supportive approach, artisans of varying experience can build each other up and expand the art form. And why not? There’s enough room at the table for everyone, as long as we’re all being authentic and respectful. If you’re a mask maker, you’ve probably made (or will make) a dragon, skull, fairy, cat, owl, wolf or Anubis mask at some point in your career. This overlap is inevitable, but it shouldn’t be a problem if each artist is exploring these themes using their own vision and style.

So if you’re still with me, here are my questions:
How do we foster a healthier community?
Is it possible to share while still maintaining good boundaries?
Is there a way to teach skills and techniques, while also teaching ethics and craftsmanship?
How can we encourage people to refine their skills and personal style before jumping into the market? Likewise, can we encourage respectful competition?

Please forgive the length, and know that I’m not out to preach or put anyone down. I’m sticking my neck out here in an attempt to spark discussion and positive change.