Personal Entries

Blue Sapphire Ring

There is so much I want to tell you.  I want to tell you all about sapphires, and I want to respond to Crystal’s comment saying that she’d like to hear more about my new blended family, and I want to tell you all about what I am doing in the studio.  But I am working like a crazy woman to get Vaka rolling again, and I am cooked.  I kinda love this working so hard I fall into bed at the end of the day thing, though, so I’m not complaining. It feels so good to be working again!

So here is a ring I finished today (are you sick of looking at jewelry yet?).  It is a lovely 5 x 7mm cornflower blue sapphire set in 18k.  And, as usual, I am fickle and so this is now my favorite piece. 

Look!  Look!  Are you looking?


Personal Entries

A day’s work

Hello, my darlings!  How was everyone’s day, today?

I had a wonderful day, because I now have air conditioning in my studio!  It was lovely and cool in my fortress of solitude, and the new air conditioner emits a slight hum which blocks the sound of the children’s voices.  I did NOT die of heat stroke, and I also did not have to listen to most of today’s heated sibling debate: who would most own the dog we are not getting.  They were arguing about a THEORETICAL dog, while our perfectly good real dog lay nearby, ignored. I really love them.

And while I was in the cool, quiet studio, I made this: 


I’ll finish up the setting and set the garnet tomorrow morning, and then I will show you the finished piece!

Media and Art · Personal Entries

I like liberty!

“Why don’t you guys come up for dinner?”  Karen asks.

“Oh, that would be great, ” I say.  Karen’s Dad is in town, and it will be nice to see him. ” What can I bring?”

“A ring.  You can bring a ring. ” says Karen.  “A solid gold ring, with the Bells of Canterbury on it.”

“Piece of cake,” I say.

“And I want the bells LIFE SIZED–“

“Oh honey, I was going to run to Canterbury to get you the ACTUAL bells, and mount them right on the ring for you.”

“Well,” says Karen, “that would be nice!”

I am thoughtful when designing my pretend, ridiculous jewelry.

“Or!” I say,  “Or!  Maybe the Liberty Bell, instead?  It’s closer.”

“Ohhh, I like liberty,” says Karen.

“OK, then.  I’ll go get the Liberty Bell, and I’ll mount it on a ring for you and bring it to dinner.  Anything else?”

“Yes,” says Karen, “I want the word ‘LIBERTY’ written on the ring.  On the outside.”

“No problem.  In big letters?”

“Yes, an inch high.  And, I’d also like the poem from The Statue Of Liberty inscribed on the inside of the ring.”

“The ‘bring us your poor, your huddled masses‘ poem?”  I ask.   I need to be clear about what poem it is that I’m inscribing.

“Yes.  That one.  The whole poem.  On the inside.”

“Sure!  I can totally do that!  Anything else?”

“I want all the ‘i ‘s’ dotted.  With diamonds.”

“OK.  So.   Gold, Liberty Bell, the word ‘LIBERTY,’ the huddled masses poem, diamonds for the dots over the ‘i ‘s’, by dinnertime tonight. Is that all?”

“Yes,” says Karen.  “And I’d like you to deliver it on a white horse.”

“Naked, a la Lady Godiva?”

“Yes.”  Says Karen.

“And your price range?  What’s your budget?”

“Five dollars.”

I think that’s fair.


Media and Art · Studio

Today in the studio

Working on this painting (below),  listening to this,  headed to Mass at 12:15. This afternoon I’ll finish some custom pieces, and maybe post photos of how the painting is progressing.  Maybe, blogosphere.  I promise you nothing.

I’ve temporarily given up on the last painting (here, here, and here… see the problem?).

Sometimes a painting flies out of me (figuratively not literally, because that would really hurt.  In fact, if paintings literally flew out of me then I’d probably stop painting, because ew. ).  Sometimes a piece deserves abandoning: once you get started it just does not pull together, and the concept or idea is weak and not worth pursuing.  And sometimes–like this time– the concept is deeply compelling, yet the piece is really hard to get.

The newly abandoned painting was a progression of the one I did for Vinnie.

One night, Vinnie and I were talking about the nature of the universe, and I said that trying to understand the universe made me want to cry.  It was too much, too big, too complex, too indefinable.  Vinnie said that understanding the nature of the universe through string theory made sense to him, and that he found it quite reassuring and beautiful.  Curious, I set out to understand string theory.  And because I am me, I felt the need to process this concept visually.

“But you can’t draw string theory,” said Vinnie. “It’s a concept.

Oh Vinnie, concepts are meant to be drawn, painted, sculpted.  That’s what art is: visual communication where words fail.

Vinnie’s painting, then, was about connectedness; about emotional string theory.  It was about the almost spiritual feeling of being gently connected to another entity within endless planes and dimensions within endless time and space.   To paraphrase Rick in Casablanca,   “of all the gin joints in all the world…”  What are the odds of that connection? What an amazing thing, and yes, how very reassuring and beautiful.

In the second painting  I wanted to explore the multi-planed individual components of Vinnie’s painting further, but……  but I can’t f***ing make it work, blogosphere!    Honestly,  I think the subject is just too emotionally loaded for me at the moment; my feelings about it change day-to-day and moment-to-moment, and so I can’t find clarity in either my head OR this work.  Confused and yet compelled to clarify my thoughts and the work,  I’ve gone at the painting from every direction, and to no avail.

And so……  that painting is out–placed out of sight and out of my mind– and this one is in.  Interestingly,  today’s painting is one I abandoned in frustration once before.  Perhaps there is something for me to learn here:  understanding and resolution will come when they will, and not a moment sooner.

I hate life lessons.



Dutch friends, new bling


Aquamarine and sapphire pendant, about 1 1/4 x 7/8 inches

My mom loves the Netherlands.  She loves the wide-open green flatness, the canals, the skinny city houses,  the Noordzee, and the spring flowers.  But most of all, she loves the Dutch.  There was never a Friday when she left the office without her Dutch coworkers making sure she had plans, never a moment when she didn’t feel welcomed and included.  While she’s enjoyed the people most everywhere she’s worked around the world, the Dutch became family.

After years spent living and working in The Hague,  my mom has come home for a job in San Diego.  It wasn’t an easy decision to make.  While there were many compelling reasons to move back to the States, it was so very hard for her to leave her friends; her Dutch family.

As my mom readied herself for the move to San Diego, her beautiful friend Susanne emailed–on behalf of all the Dutch friends– to ask me for ideas for a parting gift.  I suggested they take her for a tattoo, but the Dutch are way classier than me: they opted for jewelry, and ordered my Aquamarine Waterfall Pendant.

aquamarine and moonstone Waterfall Pendant

And that would have worked out just fine, if my mother wasn’t so damn full of damn opinions.  Luckily, her Dutch friends know that she’s a veritable opinion piñata.

Mom asked that I use a stone she already had  instead of the aquamarine cabochon (above) my design called for.  Her stone was a big, gorgeous, faceted aquamarine she had purchased from a British friend in The Hague  shortly before he died (we’re going to call that the new aquamarine from here on).

The challenges? The new aquamarine wasn’t interchangeable with the stone in my design, and a new design was needed to account for the stone’s unique attributes.  I did, however, need to keep with the two-stone look of the pendant I had been asked to make.

Where the original aquamarine cab in the design was all about watery relaxation, the faceted aquamarine was all sparkle and glamour, and just didn’t work well with the laid-back moonstone cabochon of the original pairing.  I opted to pair the new aquamarine with a gorgeous cornflower blue, flower-cut sapphire.

Another challenge was the cut of the new aquamarine: the stone was incredibly deep--half as deep as it was wide– and I needed my design to creatively account for that depth; to allow the face of the sapphire to be on the same plane as the face of the aqua, without looking awkward.

My  solution: A medieval-looking b0x setting,  stones set with prongs to keep them open and airy.

I hope all of my mother’s Dutch friends love what I came up with, I’m really pleased with my design, and my mom loved it.  After gasping, she declared, “I’m going to get mugged wearing this!”

And that is high praise from the Bling Jedi Master.

*Thanks Mom, for the image!


Personal Entries · Studio

Naming the baby

The process of painting is a lot like naming a baby.

Some people have the name all picked out before the baby is born.  The baby WILL BE Joseph Jumping-Geranium Smith.  There is no wiggle room.  Everyone will be told far before the due date of the baby-to-be’s name, and when Joseph Jumping-Geranium is born, no one will even consider that he might look more like a Peter Potted-Petunia Smith. Oh no, no.  JJGS he is, and JJGS he will be.  These are the painters who set out to paint exactly what they will have painted when they are finished.  I don’t think many of these painters are ADD.

Some people pick a likely name or two, and when the baby comes flying out into the world they quickly decide which name the baby shall have.  “We’re thinking Pookie Punkinhead, but we might go with Lola Lemondrop or Suzie Salmonloaf.”   These are the painters who set out with a somewhat solid idea in mind, but there’s wiggle-room.  I sometimes paint this way, but I’m more committed to the wiggle-room than the solid idea.

Then, there are the people who decide that the baby will present the world with its own name upon its arrival.  “Oh!  He looks like he’s laughing!  Let’s name him Isaac.”   Or, “Look at that red hair!  Let’s call him Rufus Henry!” Some of these people might wait and wait for the baby to give some indication of its moniker, and these people live in communes and have children who are called Lalalala or Mine!, until they are five.  It’s all wiggle-room, all the time. In my painting,  I often hang with this crowd.  I just…..  start, and see what happens; see what and where the painting feels like it’s doing and going, and I happily change course until I hit a sweet spot.

Painting is like a relationship.  There is me, and there is the painting.  The painting is always changing; colors and textures popping up in ways I didn’t quite expect.  If the painting is never static, then how can my idea of its outcome be so?

When I go the let-the-baby-name-itself route,  remnants of earlier ideas are often visible, and  lines or shapes or colors I put down when I had a different path in mind  now glow through and assert themselves.   Incorporating them into the newer incarnation is a puzzle that is joyful to solve; these old fossils are like gifts to a new painting. They’re found money and they’re always welcome.

Final painting will not include large, brown dog.


Stones · Studio

Jewelry Axis of Evil: new member

Blogosphere, the Jewelry Axis of Evil has a new member.  Today, opals join silver, my camera, and white gold on the list of Stuff I Really Hate.  White gold moves up a spot on the list, because I was using it in combination with the opal.  My camera jumps two spots, because it’s very frustrating to be unable to show you a quality image of that which deeply offends me.

I’m pretty sure that the opal would have behaved nicely if not for the bad influence of the white gold.  Similar to my stance on teenagers, I expect white gold to behave like white gold; it is what it is, and it can’t help its nature. Foolishly, I expected better of the opal.  If only I had listened to the rumors about opals and their sluttish ethics, I never would have left the two alone together.

Opals, white gold, and my camera: dead to me.

This morning, as I sat polishing up this pretty opal ring, I mentally wrote a very different post; a post extolling the virtues of opals and expounding upon my new, improved relationship with white gold.  Then,  I noticed the bezel was a speck loose, on the left.  Back in the vice it went, one gentle press on the bezel’s edge, and CLICK: the unmistakable sound of an expensive stone fracturing.   A unique stone, a match for which will be difficult to find.  CLICK: the sound of yesterday’s work, wasted.

Now I have nothing nice to say about opals and white gold. Not. One. Thing.