The Way of the Maker
The Great Equalizer October 03, 2018 13:47
For many years, I have been a working artist, supporting myself by my craft. Technique is important to me, the foundation of my work. This part flows easily; my hands remember the tools which are the extensions of my intent.
The imagery is another story. This is more work for me than the carving or fabrication. At night, I think about the work I want to make, and when things are going well, I see pictures in my head before sleep stops my busy brain. The next day, when I am in the moment of creation, there will be the physicality of the piece, resolving into existence. I only have to remove the material from the block of wax that is covering up the shape I know is waiting for me, inside.
If I can't get to the bench right away, I will put the idea on paper. Here the work is sketchy, lines free, concepts loose until something in the line quality or the forms, strikes me and I have what I need for metal to transform in my hands.
Sometimes I will have the inspiration for a new series or a special piece, but the feeling doesn't come through in the sketches. There are the days where I sit with a blank page in my sketchbook, and nothing moves onto the white space from the thin lead of the mechanical pencil.
I make art to survive, to support myself and live in the world. I make pieces that represent my ideas; the life of the mind in the aesthetic appreciation of nature. To satisfy my spirit, emotional meaning must be woven in to the work in some form or other. In wanting my work to be accessible, attractive, compelling, I have kept universal themes and imagery in mind.
But I also make art just to talk to myself. This is work that I don't normally show as part of my public persona. Small aspects of this these ideas may come through, but rarely do I go all out. It's a big commitment of resources to make art only for myself in metal.
In the drawings, though, I let myself be free. My favorite palette is monochrome, like the silver I work with every day. I use thin precise lead, which lets me cut a line into paper like a sharp tool into wax, and make light and dark with shadow. I don't think about how others will see this work. Instead, I tell myself stories, visual allegories to explain where I am. I create an environment, and fill it with symbols. My own meanings, for myself.
There isn't a lot of time to make images like this. So I steal moments from the in-between spaces.
When I am on the road, and at shows, my life is in the booth. I have a 10 x 10 space to call my own, and I 'm there for a few days, carving out my niche. When it's busy, it's the best. I love talking with people, showing my work, connecting about ideas.
When it is slow, I am suspended. We are waiting, us working artists, all in a group, but separately placed, hoping to make enough sales to make more art and get to the next show, the next weekend, the next summer.
This is the space-time of these drawings. The Mariner series is different from my jewelry pieces. They are not from my public persona, making work for the many. These drawings are for me, a way to speak to myself while sitting within the moveable walls of a pop-up canopy. I negotiate the journey, the small details of life on the road, by giving myself the space to make this private art.
Don't be put off by the skeleton. That's abrupt, I know, but there isn't any soft way to introduce you. Her name is Tilly, although, in the way of all human bones, it is very difficult to tell her gender unless you are specially trained.
Tilly is my muse, my alter ego. She goes places and does things that are only in my head. She is a one-third size model of an actual human skeleton, made in Germany. The detail on the bones is incredible. Her skull swivels at her neck and her limbs move, although I am constantly frustrated that I can't bend her fingers. I am always bending mine.
The skeleton is the great equalizer. This supporting system of interlocking shapes is our foundation. It is what allows us to stand, bend, twist and move against gravity. Bones keep us upright, and that notion is so engrained culturally that we often say someone has backbone when they are strong and can overcome adversity.
Skeletons are inside us, each and every one. It is maybe appropriate that I am sharing these drawings with you in October, the month where the skeleton is paraded through our social structure as a harbinger of fear. In our current culture, the skeleton is used to scare people by reminding them of death. The skull is often shown with a frightful scowl or leer to accentuate the terror.
Yet remember, each one of us has this foundation supporting us through our daily lives. It is an integral part of us. I see the skeleton as a symbol of life at the core of who we are, with no judgments of race, color or gender.
These drawings are on display at Terrain 11 on Oct. 4th with a paid Preview Night or on Oct. 5th, Open to the Public and free for all ages. I will have prints of each of the drawings available at the show They will be available online, on this page, later on.
The drawings here have been watermarked to protect my copyright. Prints and the originals have no mark.
Mariner at Sea
Voyage On, Mariner
The Spiritual Meaning of Gems ~ Boulder Opal July 12, 2018 11:33 2 Comments
Boulder opal was first discovered in Quilpe, Western Australia, around the year 1870. Almost all boulder opal available today is from Western Queensland's opal-rich fields, confined to an area of about 200 to 300 square kilometers.
Boulder Opal was formed millions of years ago from a solution of silica from decomposing rocks mixed with water flowed into seams, cracks, and cavities into a type of sandstone known as Ironstone.
This solution hardened in underground cavities and fissures where temperature and pressure fused it into the Ironstone. The ironstone matrix enhances the stones durability and vibrancy of color, often increasing the desirable effects of 'play of color' and 'opalescence'.
This hydrated silicon dioxide, with a high water content and an amorphous crystal structure, is composed of an arrangement of very small silica spheres. The play of color in Opal is the result of the diffraction of light by the spheres and the spaces in between them.
Boulder opals are mostly found in free-form shapes and slabs that maximize and preserve the weight of the precious opal strip. They are most often cut into low domes, or flat cabochons, but the final shape truly depends on the thickness of the opal's color bar.
Opal's name evolved from the Roman word "opalus" which was taken from the Greek word "opallios", meaning "to see a change of color." The Greek word was a modification of the ancient Indian Sanskrit name for opal, "upala", which meant "precious stone."
The early Greeks thought that opals gave their owners the powers of foresight and prophecy, and the Romans adored it as a token of hope and purity. Eastern people regarded it as sacred, and Arabs believed it fell from heaven.
In today's world, as a metaphysical stone, the beauty and subtle intensity of Boulder Opal has no parallel. The unique properties of color and light in each stone play off the depth and strength of the Ironstone matrix, creating a wonderful sense of balance.
The Earth of the Ironstone, combined with the Water of the hydrated silicon dioxide, blend the powers of these two important Elements. Earth strengthens and supports, and Water creates as it flows. Fire is born of the mix of the two.
The brilliant color is called "Play of Fire" for good reason, as the different tones and hues flash under various lighting conditions. It took only the last Element, Air, to bring this precious gem into the human realm, where we could appreciate it, and use it for the highest Element, Spirit.
Boulder Opal calms the inner soul by representing the interplay of emotional elements, as seen by its refracting colors. This gemstone, which yields one-of-a kind-pieces that are unlike any other, facilitates personal actualization and self-awareness. It is an excellent stone for progress, expansion, and development.
Unique and beautiful Bolder Opal can help one connect the conscious and subconscious aspects of Self, providing a way for a clearing understanding. In addition, Boulder Opal promotes communication between the Earth plane and the Mystic Realm, and can aid connection to hidden information with dream work and vision questing. Boulder Opal can also clear and brightens one's aura, stimulating spiritual and emotional healing.
The Spiritual Meaning of Gems ~ Tourmalinated Quartz April 22, 2018 21:30 1 Comment
Tourmalinated Quartz features needle thin spears of Black Tourmaline embedded in brilliant Clear Quartz. Most often the Quartz is bright white, but in some cases, the Tourmaline can be found in Smoky Quartz.
The unusual combination of deep, dark Tourmaline in bright, white Quartz creates a marriage of opposites, and can represent bringing together diverse aspects of Self. Tourmalinated Quartz can bring conflicting elements into harmony. It balances yin / yang energies and can be seen as a symbol of unity.
Black Tourmaline purifies the wearer's energies and protects from negative influences. On its own, Black Tourmaline has long been a stone of personal protection. When combined with Clear Quartz, which amplifies energies focused through it, this gemstone combination becomes a powerful ally in dispelling negative energy. Some feel it can even convert negative aspects into more positive forms.
When found in Smoky Quartz, the levels of protection and safety increase, since this is a key aspect of the beautiful grays and light browns of this member of the Quartz family.
Tourmaline Quartz strengthens the body's energy field against external forces and helps deflect harmful environmental influences, both practical and spiritual. An effective grounding stone, this mineral can eliminate crystallized emotional patterns that have not been in one's own best interest.
Tourmalinated Quatrz is said to release tensions at many levels. Its liberating power against negative energy can be used to help us come to terms with the strength needed to address negative situations. It helps to integrate and heal the shadow energies, freeing one from self-sabotage. It harmonizes the meridians, the subtle bodies, and the chakras.
A excellent ally for spiritual journeying, Black Tourmalinated Quartz has deep grounding properties. When one is in contact with this gemstone, the stability and solidity of the Earth can be felt strongly. This mineral can help bring the mind and spirit back to each present moment, and is a good meditation stone. Being grounded helps clear the mind and brings a renewed sense of clarity to your healing intention.
The combination of clear white and radiant black in Tourmalinated Quartz are believed to create a perfect polarity of energies, a manifestation of light and dark forces united together for a common goal. It is regarded as a symbol of the strength and commitment it takes to bring opposing forces together.
The Spiritual Meaning of Gems ~ Shattuckite, Carnellian and Girasol April 07, 2018 08:41The First Three ~ A beginning explanation of the minerals in Spring Equinox Layout.
Personal Journey Work ~ Spring Equinox, 2018, Introduction March 29, 2018 09:19 1 Comment
Over the years, many people have asked me where I get my inspiration. It has often made me think hard about my process, the source of my impulse to make art.
My relationship with nature and my response to the events in my private life are always the starting point for my visual expression.
Custom Work ~ Metaphor and Symbolism February 05, 2018 09:36
The Mayan Pair
This pair of wedding rings was designed around the intricate glyphs of the ancient Mayan culture. In addition, it uses symbolism from the location and environment of the Mayan culture, which was primarily jungle and ocean.
The couple who commissioned these rings had a touring company that took travelers into Central America to see and study ancient Mayan ruins. The location of these historic sites were in the jungle, which was cut back almost daily to keep the buildings and sculptural carvings free from plant life.
This portion of Central America is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Atlantic on the other. Although not directly on the ocean itself, the sea, its life forms and its influence were are an important part of the area.
The couple wanted to use water motifs, the Mayan glyph for the most important ancient Mayan city, Copán, and the foliage of the jungle for the design basis of their rings.
In the center of the ring is the glyph for the city itself, which combines a stylized bat head with other written notation. This one glyph became the visual symbol of the name of this sacred city. In the rings, the bat's eye becomes prominent and significant by using a large oval diamond in the location where the eye would have been carved. This refers to brilliance of vision, and the uncanny way bats "see" with sound. The sparkling light of the diamond helps represent the vibration of sound.
On either side of the central image is a glyph denoting water. It is used in both ascending and descending form, and is a reference not only to the humidity of the jungle, but the importance of rain and the water cycle.
Next to these symbols are banana and palm leaves, whose striking shapes add wonderful texture to the rings. The foliage is followed by an interlocking wave pattern based on the idea of yin and yang, with male and female opposities curling together in the curve of the flowing water.
The material is 14K yellow gold, and G color, VS quality oval shaped diamonds, approximately 1/4 carat each. The band is tapered for comfort, especially the gentleman’s band, which was quite large at a size 12. We wanted to be sure he could close his hand and grip well without interference from the shank of the ring.
The inside is engraved with the date of their wedding in Mayan numerical notation.
The Maya hieroglyphic writing one of the most visually striking writing systems of the world. The "Maya" in general were actually not a single people but many nations with different but related cultures, religions, and languages.
Mayan writing was composed of glyphs, which were symbolic pictures similar to Egyptian hieroglyphics. They also used a phonetic system, where the various shapes and marking represented letter or specific language sounds. These were often combined into a group, with one glyph becoming the symbol for the entire concept, such as in a personal name or place.
Of the many Maya languages, only two (possibly three) were written down with the hieroglyphic system. They had a complex system of numbers written with a curving shape with lines that represented zero, and a combinations of dots and bars to represent the other numbers. Their number system was based on the position of the numbers in the written form to denote value, and the powers of ten.
The Maya also had an incredibly intricate calendar system. The Maya time-keeping involved several interlocking cycles, some of which tracked astronomical events while others followed time intervals modern interpretations have yet to unravel. In the ancient world, the Mayans were the most accomplished astronomers and mathematicians. Some of their calculations weren't reproduced in Europe until the 18th century.
One of the major discoveries of this brilliant culture is the ancient city of Copán. Located on the border of Guatemala in present day Honduras, the city was built around a temple complex and is home to the most astonishing Mayan art. It dates back nearly 2,000 years and was once the easternmost city-state in the Maya World. Copán is considered to be the most "artistic" of the Maya cities and is most well known for an impressive staircase with the entire history of Copán written on it in Mayan hieroglyphs.
Copán began as an agricultural settlement around 1000 BC. Over the course of 400 years, Copán was shaped from a small valley into a great city with pyramids, temples and statues, many of which were painted in brilliant colors. As it grew, the site functioned as the political, civil and religious center of the Copán Valley and a larger territory that covered the southeast portion of the Maya area.
From the early 400s to 820 AD, a series of 16 kings ruled Copán, all of them belonging to a single dynasty.
During the 8th century the kingdom gradually declined and eventually disappeared. The decline may have been caused in part by internal revolts, war and disease. At its peak, it is estimated that Copán was home to as many as 20,000 people.
Today, you can visit the site and see the intricate stone carvings, the soaring temples with their multitude of steps, and the numbers stone pillars, called stele, which told stories of the ancient kings and their relationships to the gods.
Spiritual Meaning of Gems ~ Amethyst February 01, 2018 09:09
Amethyst is a variety of Quartz found in many locations around the world, and forms as transparent, terminated crystals of all sizes in geodes, clusters and long single terminations. The presence of manganese in clear Quartz produces Amethyst, while additional amounts of iron vary the purple coloration. Amethyst ranges in hue from pale red-violet to deep violet, and may be transparent or opaque.
Amethyst is a remarkable stone of spirituality and contentment, known for its metaphysical abilities to still the mind and inspire an enhanced meditative state. Amethyst stimulates the Third Eye and Crown Chakras, enhancing one's ability to think deeply and develop intuitive ability. It initiates wisdom and greater understanding.
Amethyst's high frequency purifies the aura of any negative energy or attachments, and creates a protective shield of Light around the body, allowing one to remain clear and centered while opening to spiritual direction.
Amethyst’s ability to expand the higher mind also enhances one’s creativity and passion. It strengthens the imagination and intuition, and refines the thinking processes. It helps in the assimilation of new ideas, putting thought into action, and bringing projects to fruition. This beautiful purple stone can be a talisman of focus and success.
Often viewed as a stone of peace, Amethyst’s calming presence is thought to produce soothing dreams. This clarity and peacefulness also extends to the waking mind. It is said to improve intellectual and cerebral thought and can help mitigate impatience. It can help you think both soberly and critically about the situations you face, which will lead you to far greater success in handling them.
Emotionally, Amethyst can be used to help heal personal losses and grief, bringing one gently past painful experience. It also is said to bring stability and inner strength. This stability and strength not only helps one hold firm in one’s life, but it can enhance flexibility and cooperation.
Amethyst has long been said to promote sobriety – both in the literal sense of preventing drunkenness, and in the metaphorical sense of developing an ability to think more clearly and not be clouded with emotion. This is a wonderful crystal to use if you find yourself in a situation where you are unsure how to take action. Amethyst will help you listen to deeper issues behind the surface and formulate solutions in a highly practical, helpful way.
Amethyst is ruled by the planet Jupiter, and it’s the zodiac gem for those born under the sign of Pisces. Both traditional and modern birthstone lists include amethyst as the February birthstone.
Amethyst is an excellent crystal to enhance physical vitality, especially after chemotherapy or radiation. It’s an energizing healer on a physical level because it can strengthen the adrenal glands, the reproductive organs, and the heart. Amethyst is said to aid in the health of the lungs, pancreas, and spleen. It can also stimulate fertility and support the reproductive system. It can be effective when it comes to cell regeneration. As a natural stress reliever with calming properties, Amethyst can help relieve anxiety and detoxify the body.
Spiritual Meaning of Gems ~ The Wonder of Created Gems January 31, 2018 13:03
Raw Lab Created Ruby, Sapphires and Emerald
Grown in a high tech lab in fascinating process, these gems are the exact same material as natural sapphire. Yet they cost a fraction of natural stones and the environmental impact to produce them is vastly less than traditionally mined gems.
A synthetic gem material is one that is made in a laboratory, but which shares virtually all chemical, optical, and physical characteristics of its natural mineral counterpart.
Some gemstones are very rare, since they don't occur as frequently in nature as other varieties. They can also be more difficult to extract from the Earth, which makes them harder to obtain. Mining stones that are difficult to find uses more resources and takes more exploratory searching which are both hard on the environment. So the rarity and toll on the Earth tends to make these kinds of gemstones much more expensive than more abundant varieties. That's why lab-created gemstones make a great alternative.
Lab created gem crystals have been manufactured since the late 1800s. The first success was producing synthetic ruby of faceting quality. Lab grown crystals were used for gemstones, but also in industrial applications, such as communications and laser technology, microelectronics, and abrasives.
Diamond, emerald, and corundum are favorite lab-created stones. Sapphires and Rubies are both corundum, but the change in color is due to different trace minerals when the crystal is forming. This is one reason natural sapphires come in a wide range of tones.
Stones created in a lab are chemically, physically and optically identical to those mined underground — and have many advantages over a natural stone. The created gemstones are not imitations; they are the real minerals in every way except the elapsed time and location of their growth.
Natural Sapphire Crystals
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission requires that any gem material produced in a laboratory be described in a way that leaves no doubt about its origin. It is considered to be a deceptive practice if synthetic gem material is not clearly disclosed to the consumer. There are also a number of industry organizations such as the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) that have formulated specific guidelines regarding the disclosure of synthetic gems at the time of sale.
During the last century, researchers have developed a number of different ways to create synthetic gem materials in the laboratory. Most of these methods fall into two major categories – melt or solution.
In melt processes, the chemical composition of melt is the same as the composition of the resulting crystal. The first commercially successful synthetic gems of this type of process were created by Flame Fusion. This process involves dropping finely ground chemicals through a high-temperature flame, where they melt and fall onto a rotating pedestal. This action produces a synthetic crystal.
The crystal still needs to be cut, faceted and polished the way a natural gem does, and in this respect there is no difference between the two. Skilled cutting is an important part of the beauty and sparkle of any stone.
There is another melt process called Crystal Pulling. Here, nutrients are melted in a crucible and the synthetic crystal grows from a seed that is dipped into the melt, and then slowly pulled away from the melt as it grows. The only difference in these two types of melt process is the way the mineral it is formed.
In Solution processes, the solution has a different chemical composition than that of the resulting crystal. Constituents are dissolved in the solution or melt at high temperature, and the crystal forms initially on a seed crystal as the melt temperature is lowered.
One set of techniques in this process is called Flux Growth. Flux is a solid material that, when melted, dissolves other materials in the same way that water dissolves sugar. As the dissolved chemical solution gradually cools, synthetic crystals form.
Growing a synthetic gem by the flux method requires patience and a significant financial investment. Crystal growth can take up to a year, and the equipment is very expensive. But the results are well worth the time and effort.
There is another technique called Hydrothermal Growth. Like the flux process, the hydrothermal growth process is slow and expensive. But it’s the only method for successfully growing synthetic quartz.
This process requires heat and pressure and imitates the conditions deep in the earth that resulted in the formation of natural gems. Nutrients are dissolved in a water solution, and then synthetic crystals form as the solution cools in a specially designed chamber under great pressure. This is the closest process to the natural formation of gem minerals, but also one of the more difficult to produce. The pressure is necessary to form certain types of crystals, such as diamond.
Spiritual Meanings of Gems ~ Iolite January 26, 2018 09:01
This series focuses on the significant emotional and spiritual properties of Gems. These dazzling Earth Treasures have been admired through the centuries, their beauty and rarity making them objects of reverence and desire.
My interpretations of the meanings of Gems come from decades of research. They are a synthesis of ideas from ancient cultures combined with my own direct experience with these stones. Each individual stone is unique and has its own story, while knowledge of the specific mineral of the Gem is derived from the wisdom of the ages.