Posted on

Flowers, fireworks and jewelry design

My inspiration comes from everywhere. This flower makes me think of fireworks and mixed-metal pendant and designs.
My inspiration comes from everywhere. This flower makes me think of fireworks and mixed-metal pendant and earring designs.

One of the things I love most about my personal creative process is that I find inspiration from everywhere. The world is my muse. In some respects it makes my life difficult in that it’s almost impossible for me to completely stop working. In other ways it makes me lucky because I am rarely at a loss for ideas (though sometimes my own skills have not yet developed to the point of implementing them).

A few days ago I was feeling a little bored with my current projects so I went through the photographs I took a few years ago when my sweetheart took me to the Butchart Gardens. This photo caught my eye. At first glance it reminds me of my favorite fireworks from the shows I used to in Grand Coulee during my childhood. But on closer inspection it makes me think of design elements for a pendant, earrings and maybe even a cuff design. Mixed metals, perhaps brass (or gold) and silver…

For better or worse, my initial design drawings are outside of my current skill range (and I don’t yet have all the tools I would need to implement those ideas); I’ll get there eventually but for the moment I’m unable to bring them to reality. But, therein lies another challenge. How can I get creative, with the tools and skills at my disposal, to make something else- just as beautiful and with similar characteristics as my original designs?

 

That challenge fuels my creativity. What tools can I make to expand my options? What techniques can I learn to further evolve my art? It’s these questions that keep me making new designs.

Posted on

Intersectional Cuff

Intersectional Cuff with Heat PatinaLately I’ve been reading about “Intersectional Feminism.” And, while it’s a lot more detailed than what I’ll get into here, I love how it approaches things. The basic concept is that it is necessary to look at people/life/situations from a multitude of perspectives in order to understand and address a problem. It fits in well, in my mind, to the holistic approach I learned in graduate school through the diversity classes which were part of my Clinical Psychology training. None of us are “one” thing or identity. Within each of us are representations of an assortment of “identities” including gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, cultural identity (which may not match our ethnic heritage), age, etc. Any time we face a form of privilege or discrimination, it could be a response to any one or combination of these.

 

It is in the huge diversity within humanity and the world that I find beauty. I find joy and inspiration in the “intersectional.” As messy as it can feel to try to understand people and situations through this lens, I love the ways in which it stretches me as a person. It makes me grow into a better human being, even as I struggle against our societal pressure to be “one” thing (a task at which I will- always- fail joyously).

 

In this “Intersectional Cuff” jewelry piece I wanted to create a beautiful artistic representation to remind me of the beauty of intersectional identities and the infinite possibilities they can embody- even within a single person (or piece). I also wanted to capture the rainbow of diversity which intersectional identities create, and so added a rainbow heat patina to the design.

 

In my case, I hold many identities within myself. I am woman, victim, survivor, disabled, multi-racial… and my list goes on. I have been discriminated against during my life for any number of these things in isolation or combination. I have been told to pretend that some of these identities, part of who I am, do not exist…. and yet they all exist, in me, and I would not be the person I am without them or the experiences I have had because of them.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about intersectional feminism, here’s an article from Everyday Feminism to get you started!

Posted on

An Inspiring Wine Date

On a recent wine tasting date with my sweetheart, I had the opportunity to enjoy some (absolutely magnificent) wines at Terra Blanca Winery. While I generally worry it’s in poor taste to pull out my pocket sketchbook at the winery while tasting, I freely admit I was fighting the impulse. Their wines are AMAZING! As soon as we got out the car, after tasting, I pulled out my sketchbook and started putting my visual representations of their HEAVENLY wines on paper for future jewelry designs.

 

Now, I’d be hard-pressed to choose my favorite wine (I need to go for several more tastings before I have any kind of firm opinion on the matter) from their collection, but I can tell you… I now have two pages in my pocket sketchbook of designs inspired by (just) their wines (necklaces, bracelets and earrings). They even have a chardonnay I really wanted to take home with me (shocking, as I have always favored the reds).

 

One of the things I love about Terra Blanca’s wines is the complexity of the layers and flavors. Each sip is an experience in and of itself. I feel like I’m sitting down and having an intimate conversation with the wine, getting to know a soon-to-be best friend.  Truly, they have mastered the art form that is the creation of wine…. And theirs is very worthy of every tribute.

 

Here is a picture of the first design, now part of the Tendrils of the Vine Collection, inspired by one of their red wines….

These "Tangled Vine" earrings, a new addition to Butterfly Sundries' original Tendrils of the Vine Collection, was inspired by a Terra Blanca wine!
These “Tangled Vine” earrings, a new addition to Butterfly Sundries’ original Tendrils of the Vine Collection, was inspired by a Terra Blanca wine!

 

Find this and many more designs inspired by Washington wines on Etsy!

Posted on

The Sleeping Tree

Recently, while on a day trip with my sweetheart, I found myself momentarily overcome with feelings of sadness, loss and longing. It had been a great day- but looking out the window I was surrounded by a dark, drizzly winter day. Fog and bare trees were all around me and I longed for the warmth and color of spring. As I looked at the trees, seeing their limbs reaching for the hiding sun, I began to think of their sleeping potential- waiting for the right time to blossom.

 

This "Sleeping Tree" copper pendant is a brand new addition to Butterfly Sundries' new "Beautiful World" Collection!
This “Sleeping Tree” copper pendant is a brand new addition to Butterfly Sundries’ new “Beautiful World” Collection!

Our lives, I believe, mirror those of the natural world around us in many ways. We go through cycles of birth, growth, death and rebirth. And for those of us sensitive to the seasons, we feel the need to hoard, hibernate and await the appointed season to reemerge refreshed and rejuvenated- ready to blossom with our potential.

 

Nature is beautiful. The sleeping winter trees, which have withdrawn into themselves until the time is right to bud with their potential, are beautiful in their promise. They remind me that this season of dark cold shall pass. Spring will come again and the sleeping creatures shall awaken.

If you are in your dormant state this winter, get ready. There’s hope. There is light at the end of the darkness. And, it’s almost time for you to bloom.

 

Find more designs in the Beautiful World Collection  on Etsy!

A snapshot of one of my photos, available through Butterfly Sundries, taken in the Okanogan Valley.
A snapshot of one of my photos, coming soon to Butterfly Sundries, taken in the Okanogan Valley.
Posted on

Designing Dancing Women (and Men)!

Women, in all their forms, are beautiful and celebration-worthy.
Women, in all their forms, are beautiful and celebration-worthy.

I’ve been having a great time designing new pieces for Butterfly Sundries’ Dancing Women Collection, several of which will be unveiled soon. But, it’s also been a very mind-bending experience. I started the collection knowing I wanted to feature diverse representations of beauty, including women with visible disabilities and a wide range of body types. I never expected that to be the easiest part of the design process.

The challenging part of the process, as it turns out, is choosing powerful dance representations and postures for the designs. As I began designing I realized that so many of the dance positions I learned as a child and can draw at the drop of the hat make women appear graceful… but somehow smaller. Many of them are overtly sexual (and while sexuality and sensuality are both good things, these things are not part of the focus of this collection). They make us take up less space. My quest has been to find and choose artistic representations which are fluid, graceful and still empowering. I want a woman to feel encouraged to fill the space she occupies with her own power and beauty.

The first Dancing Women Etched Cuff sold within less than 2 weeks!
The first Dancing Women Etched Cuff sold within less than 2 weeks!

By contrast, it’s also been an interesting process considering the possibility of exploring a customer’s request for expansion in the direction of Dancing Men designs. I never realized how little I’ve thought of what men look like when they’re dancing. Imagining them in body postures similar to the ones in the Dancing Women Cuff bracelet is counter-intuitive to me (I am embarrassed to admit that my first conceptualization was of men of all sizes and shapes in various body building poses- which then led me to question my own preconceptions and biases; my second thought was of a scene from the movie Hitch).

It’s amazing to me how the simple process of creating a line of socially-conscious jewelry which seeks to combat the bias of media depictions of beauty can be so enriching to me personally. I never realized that I’d adopted gender-role constructs surrounding dance, but- now that I recognize how I’ve internalized some of our cultural values- I look forward to the process of creating and adopting new, healthier, and more empowering constructs!

Meanwhile, you can kind find these designs- and many more- in Butterfly Sundries’ shop on Etsy!

Posted on

Custom Hair Barrette

This beautiful 80mm etched copper hair clip was created as a custom order for one of my clients.
This beautiful 80mm etched copper hair clip was created as a custom order for one of my clients.

In general, I’m very particular about which custom orders I’m willing to add on to my schedule. After years of making jewelry and accessories, I’ve learned there are qualities that have to exist in the relationship between myself and a potential client before it’s worth the effort. Recently I accepted a custom order and remembered all the reasons I enjoy doing custom work (in the best-case scenarios).

This original Butterfly Sundries hair clip, currently available on Etsy, was the starting point for a client's custom order request.
This original Butterfly Sundries hair clip, currently available on Etsy, was the starting point for a client’s custom order request.

I received an inquiry from a client about a hair clip which is available in Butterfly Sundries’ shop on Etsy; she liked the design, but wanted a larger barrette and a different size copper plate. Reworking a design, which was made to fit a wider plate, to be attractive with smaller (width) and longer dimensions is a challenge.

 

Because the design was a modification of the existing design, and something I could translate to new designs, I waived my usual artist design fee. But, I still had to pick out the key design features of the original and modify them to be attractive on a smaller scale. I drew up three initial modified designs using the measurement guidelines given to me by my client. Once completed, I sent the sketches to my client so she could tell me which she liked best and give feedback.

I did three initial design sketches, using some of the primary design elements from the original hair clip design.
I did three initial design sketches, using some of the primary design elements from the original hair clip design.

 

When my client responded with her preferences (she liked designs 1 & 2). I combined those two designs and moved them to the copper plate for etching. Using tape to protect the edges and the back of the copper, and my favorite resist to protect the areas I didn’t want etched, I sent a picture to my client for any last minute feedback of changes she might want before etching.

 

This photo was sent to my client before etching for any last-minute feedback before etching.
This photo was sent to my client, before etching, for any last-minute feedback or changes.

 

Once etched, the remaining solution on the plate had to be neutralized and the plate needed to be cleaned. After applying a patina to provide an “antiqued” appearance, a wax was applied to protect the surface.

 

After neutralizing the etching solution, applying the patina, and some initial clean-up, it's finally possible to get a real idea of how the design will look as a hair clip!
After neutralizing the etching solution, applying the patina, and a little cleaning, it’s finally possible to get a real idea of how the design will look as a hair clip!

 

A little shaping, drilling and riveting… Voila! A brand new custom hair clip is done and on its way to a new owner!

 

It's done! This gorgeous etched copper barrette was a fun custom order... and thanks to the inspiration of my client, some new (different) hair clip designs will be coming to Butterfly Sundries soon!
It’s done! This gorgeous etched copper barrette was a fun custom order… and thanks to the inspiration of my client, some new (different) hair clip designs will be coming to Butterfly Sundries soon!