Thought I’d share these “vintage” photos from vending days gone by: The first photo is from the Chumash Pow Wow in Ojai, CA, circa 1994. We’d just finished breaking down our vendor booth. By that stage in my life, I’d already been vending at art shows and festivals for about 7 years!
The woman on the left was a sweet friend from England, who used to import my work so that she could sell it in her stall at the Glastonbury Festival! (Does that event still exist?). The babe in my arms is now 26 years old, and in grad school.
The second photo shows some beaded leather bags that I made around that same era. As you can see, my style has changed a bit in the 25 yrs since these pictures were taken. Some things remain constant: my material choices (beads, leather, natural gemstones), a love of color and natural themes, skilled craftsmanship, and passion for my work and the people who inspire me to create.
This path has not always been easy, but I love it all the same. I’m grateful for all the lessons behind me, and hopeful for many years ahead. Some of you have been with me through this whole journey (thank you, I love you!) and some are just joining now (thanks, you rock!).
Please know that I genuinely appreciate every bit of support and encouragement along the way. May it come back to you tenfold ❤
Had a rough day today, contemplating an unsavory situation. As luck would have it, I came across these words that I wrote last year. It was a timely reminder of where to focus my energy. While the lame situation still needs resolution, I’d like to pause from my pissed-offedness for just a moment, to acknowledge the good:
I’ve spent a lot of time and energy griping about those unethical competitors who copy, undercut, and just generally slither around the internet. It’s true – they are many. But perhaps I haven’t spent enough time acknowledging the friendly and ethical competitors who have treated me kindly. There are many of you as well. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to know countless artists who’ve helped me to hone my craft and to learn the ropes as a vendor.
Despite the fact that we’re “competing” in a similar market, you’ve treated me with integrity and respect, helping me to learn and encouraging me to grow. We’ve empathized with each others’ struggles, and celebrated successes.
These positive professional relationships have endured time and trends, and many have grown into genuine friendships that enrich my life. Thank you for this! It proves that “competitor” doesn’t have to be a dirty word. We all choose how we conduct our businesses (and ourselves) and we CAN lift each other up without detracting from our own goals. In this way, we all thrive.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So yeah, the jackasses are out there – but so are the good ones!
I’m grateful for those of you who choose to take the high road (even when it’s not the easy road) and I promise to treat you – and your work – with the same integrity and courtesy that you’ve shown me.
Can’t remember if I’ve shared these yet, so forgive me if it’s a repeat… Here’s a new variation of my popular raven feather barrettes. These have multiple holes, so that they can be worn with a variety of hairstyles, and they feature a funky galaxy theme. I’m debating whether to call them “Galactic Ravens” or “Cosmic Crows”. Either way, you’ll find them in Monday’s shop update.
I know, I’ve been super quiet lately. Two months ago I was given the (incredible!) opportunity to test a pre-release unit of the new Glowforge hobby laser. Since then, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of lasering all the things.
Here are a few examples of my early experiments. I’m still learning, and still figuring out how I want to use this amazing tool, but one thing’s for sure… it’s a huge game changer. This is the first time in many years that I have been able to work without pain. I’d become so accustomed to working through the aches and pains that I didn’t even realize how much it was holding me back. I am so excited about the possibilities ahead!
Again, these images reflect early experiments and drafts. They’re not final projects, and they’re probably not significant indicators of how I will ultimately use this tool in my work. For the time being, I’m just learning slowly and translating all of my existing leatherwork patterns to digital files.
It’ll be a while before I’m 100% confident of the direction that I want to go, and begin designing new work with the laser. For today I’m giving myself time to go slowly, take risks, make mistakes, and just enjoy the learning process. I’m having a lot of fun with it, and looking forward to creating some larger, more elaborate works.
Happy Solstice, and many thanks to all who’ve supported my craft!
If you’ve purchased something from me, liked or shared my work, or offered feedback or encouragement along the way, YOU have helped to support my creative process and I’m deeply grateful. It occurred to me the other day that some of you have been cheering me on and collecting my work for anywhere from 5 to 30 years! I am honored and humbled by this – may your kindness come back to you tenfold.
Winter is officially here, and this quiet time seems ideal for rest and restoration. I’ve been feeling rather burnt out for some time now, and it feels like a good time to slow down and reflect on what I’d like to do differently in the year ahead. With that said, my Christmas gift to myself will be to put my Etsy shop in vacation mode as of December 31st.
I’ve not yet decided how long that vacation will last, I’m simply going to hibernate until I feel ready to share new work again. It could be a few weeks, it could be longer. We’ll see how that goes. My personal website will remain open, but I do intend to retire quite a few items at the start of 2017. So if you’ve had your eye on one of my pieces or if you only wish to purchase via Etsy, now’s a good time to do so.
Thanks again for your support and encouragement. May you be surrounded with love and comfort this holiday season.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
These little bee and butterfly themed pieces were created to welcome summer, and to celebrate Pollinator Week (which is this week!). Unfortunately, I was under the weather for a few days and could not finish them in time. Still, the intention is there and they’ll be finished up ASAP :)
I realize that it’s hard to “see” or imagine the finished piece(s) while they’re still in progress. Truthfully, I usually have no idea what the finished work will look like until it’s complete! But at very least, I can tell you that these are intended as jewelry components. The little butterflies and at least one of the bees will become pendants or necklaces, while the wings will be used in some of my earring designs. I’m leaning toward a bracelet for the bee on the blue background, though that may change by the time I complete them all. Oh, and there are some bee wings and a luna moth that didn’t make it into the photo.
I designed this original leather mask in 2013. It’s part of an ongoing series that began in 2001 – each one is unique, but shares similar lines and details. It would seem that the design has recently been copied by another artist, who is marketing it as his own.
Sadly, this stuff happens daily. If it was an isolated incident, I might be more able to let it roll off my back – but it’s not. It’s extremely frustrating, but I try to keep my mouth shut, because everyone tells me to take the high road. To “be better, not bitter” – and honestly, I want that too. Unfortunately, there are so many of these copycats these days that the “high road” is starting to feel like a lonely ledge… and it gets harder and harder to make a living doing what I love (or to love what I do for a living) from that place.
This really hits me where I live, and I don’t know how to put a “positive” or “professional” spin on it. To my fellow aspiring artists, I cannot encourage you enough to be respectful of your peers (and yourself). Be honorable, be original, and don’t steal.
This gallery showcases many (but certainly not all!) of the designs that I’ve done in this series. I hope it offers a sense of the time that spent honing and evolving these signature pieces. Many of these designs were commissioned to incorporate symbols or ideas that were personal and significant to them. Please be honorable, and respect my craftsmanship, my livelihood, and the wonderful people who’ve helped to support that process.