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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SNAG Conference - Seattle, WA (Part 1)

My, my, my... I have gotten behind again.  I wanted to post last week about the micro-raising workshop that Chuck Kennington and I taught May 21-22.  (No rapture, yay! That would have been rather inconvenient.)  But I ran out of time to post with only 3 days to handle business and pack for my next adventure, so that is just going to have to wait for a few days because I just got home from Seattle, and I'm really excited to post about the SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) Conference. 

This is an annual conference and gathering of metalsmiths from all over North America, and each year it's in a different city.  This year, Seattle.  Cool city!  It's really great to be able to be surrounded, not only by hundreds of artists, but specifically metalsmiths, enamelists, jewelers, and craft professionals.  I was able to connect with some old friends as well as meet a lot of new and interesting people in my field.

Making plans for this year was a little crazy.  Usually people stay at the hotel that hosts the conference with a group of friends sharing a room (because these are nice hotels).  My plan had been to stay with my NC Black crew, but their plans were altered, and they weren't able to stay at the hotel due to various circumsatances, including the fact that they drove across country and had a thule trailer attached to the car for all their equipment, and that could not be parked in the garage.  Great.  So I called up my friends Annie and Ben who live in Seattle, and made arrangements to stay at their house.  This all went down about 3 weeks prior to the conference.  So I got my plane tickets, rented a car, and headed out west solo.  Scary!  For me anyway.  But it all worked out.  I flew in on Thursday morning, and that night there was a "pin swap" meet & greet session to kick off the conference.  I had made 15 pins for swapping, and unfortunately, I don't have a good photo of them to post.  But they were tiny copper cones (made with NC Black tools of course) with hand-dyed wool plumes poufing out the tops.  I liked them.  And in return for these, I got all kinds of neat handmade pins!

Of the names I know (it helps if you put your pins on business cards!), I got pins from Kristi Kloss, Lessley Brooke, Melissa J. Russell, Nancy Tiska, Kim Howell, Jennifer Wall, Kathryn Osgood, Kim M. Baxter, Erin Swietnicki, Callie Shevlin, and Maggie Smith/Quirk Gallery.  Well done!

Among lectures, artist spotlights, and various other activities, I also helped out in the NC Black Co. vendor booth doing demos and helping to sell tools. Here's a photo of our booth featuring the always fabulous Andrea Kennington and the delightfully dapper Les Bryant.

and the featured hammers:

omg, <3

That was a lot of fun.  Les and I were also filmed by Jay Whaley and Greg Berg of Whaley Studios in San Diego, doing demos - anticlastic bracelet for Les, and micro raising for me.  I'll post a link to that when it's up.  I imagine they just got home, too.

I'll be back later today or tomorrow to share some info I gathered at the conference.  But for now, there are other tasks that need attending.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hammering It All Out

I am getting super-excited about my up-coming micro-raising workshop at the Sawtooth Center in Winston-Salem!  I'm team-teaching with one Mr. Chuck Kennigton of NC Black Co., and we really made a lot of progress with our tools last week.  I can really see it coming together.  Finally!

I was at the NC Black homebase Wednesday through Friday of last week.  Wednesday evening was mostly shop-talk, but Thurday we really got to work.  I had designed a raising stake for small-scale work based on a combination of two different stakes we had been using in the studio.  So we needed to make a prototype and test it out.

Stake heating and bending:

Grinding and Polishing:

So you can see, these tools are made with love, and very much by hand.

We made two different sizes, 5/8" diameter and 1/2" diameter.  Then it was time for the test!

It works!!!  Muahahahahaha!

So we made ten of each size.  One for each of us for practice, etc. and eight as a teaching set for this and future workshops!  We will also have stake holders to keep said teeny stakes snugly secured in a big ol' vise, as shown above, as well new super-sweet raising hammers designed by Chuck.

So we've got everything squared away.  Tools are made, kits are assembled, and we're on our way!  Sawtooth will be the first of many of these micro-raising workshops!  Stay tuned for a schedule of up-coming workshops and check out the schedule for the other workshops offered by NC Black Co, Micro Shell-Forming and Engraving.

I'll be back later this week with updates for the CopperTide jewelry business, so check back!!!  Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 2, 2011

From Fish to Leaves and Back

Whoops.  I've been slacking on the blog scene the past couple weeks.  It's not because I haven't been working, I just haven't had a whole lot to report.  I haven't gotten to work in the studio at all, so that is not good.  The pesky distractions of life again, among other things.  And I was out of town for Easter weekend with the family in Oak Island, NC. 

But while I was there I did take new work to TheYaupon Tree Gallery.  The work I had there in the past has not been great on the sales front.  They some pieces from my Sea Life Collection, which features champleve enameled brooches and earrings.
But I guess they were a little pricey for that venue.  It's a beach gallery that people visit while they're on vacation, and as Oak Island is a low-key family-oriented beach, it's just not a place where tourists come to drop $200 on a brooch.  I have tried dropping the prices a little, but a lot of work went into these pieces, and I just can't go too low.  It's just not their place.  That's ok.  We'll try the new reversible disc line and see where that gets us.  Lower prices, summery colors.  It's worth a shot.  But it's another consignment situation, so if these don't sell this season, I might pull everything and find another gallery in the Southport area. 

I'm also trying to set up a meeting with The Other Half in Winston-Salem NC for this coming weekend when I'll be there.  They have beautiful work, and I have bought many gifts there myself.  They will be recieving some work from my Leaf Jewelry Collection

So hopefully I can get in touch with them, and maybe Maypop Gallery in Greensboro NC while I'm in the area.  Maypop actually asked for new work a while ago when we were in the middle of our move to Richmond, and I haven't had a chance to get back down there and get them any yet.  So I think I will add that to my list for the week.

Additionally, I've done a lot of  research the past couple weeks when I wasn't blogging, and I want to share my favorite blog for advice for small art-based business owners: Crafting an MBA.  They have some excellent advice, and I would definitely recommend checking that out if you're just starting out like me or even if you're pretty established.  It never hurts to hear some new ideas.

This is going to be a pretty full week.  I had planned to leave on Wednesday to go on down to NC and work for my favorite tool company, NC Black Co. for a few days, but I can't seem to get in touch with them, so that might not be happening.  I am teaching a Micro-Raising workshop with Chuck Kennington at the Sawtooth Center in Winston-Salem in a couple weeks for NC Black, May 21-22, and we need to make sure we get all the tools made and everything in order.  I designed a raising stake that we will hopefully have at least a prototype of this week, and hopefully we can get that rolling.  By the way, if you're interested in the Micro-Raising workshop, there are still a few spots left!  It's for beginners as well as intermediate metalsmiths who just want to learn a new technique.  Check out my posting from a few weeks ago for an idea of what will be going on in the workshop.  It's going to be tons of fun!

So I'll try to do better at posting, and hopefully there will be some new and exciting things to talk about, so check back soon!  Thanks for reading!