Wednesday, December 7, 2011


If you teach metals, and you are (like me) a little obsessive about keeping organized teaching samples of all your small metaly stuff, let me recommend these AWESOME photo storage boxes from the Container Store.
Yes, they're pricey, but now the samples for my entire beginning Jewelry/Metals class are organized into this one, portable, box. And I love being organized.

Plus, they're made in the USA.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

San Antonio at Christmas

lights on the trees along the Riverwalk in San Antonio.

We went to San Anton last week for the opening of La Noche del Brooche; an invitational exhibition of brooches at Equinox Gallery. N and I both had brooches in it, and you can see all the brooches in the show here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Back in the saddle...I hope

It would be an understatement to say that I have been struggling to work in the studio after Italy.

First, it was because we moved over the summer, and I have a hard time getting motivated when my life is in upheaval. The other part of my problem is that I don't have a proper work space at the moment; I'm working out of our bedroom, which is not ideal.

But really the problem was not knowing what to make. I'm tired of my old work and really don't want to work with plastic for a while, so I've been searching for a new source of inspiration. The most inspiring thing I've seen this past year was the amulet collection at the National Archeological Museum in Perugia, Italy, which I mentioned on this blog in March.

You'd be hard-pressed to find the jeweler or metalsmith who isn't at least partially interested in amulets, but contemporary versions are often so cliché that I have typically avoided them like the plague.

And I'm still avoiding them. I am not making amulets.

I have finally started a project partially inspired by the sense of fragility and vulnerability of those amulets, however. My goal is to make at least 100 copper quatrefoil charms that will be altered using some simple, straight-forward method. I plan to enamel them and hang them on a handmade safety-pin.

Time will tell if these pins have the feeling I want, but so far, I'm enjoying it and keeping busy. Which is good.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thought for the day.

"—art is so persistent in all our cultures because it is a means of the culture to survive. And the reason for that, I believe, is that art, at its fullest capacity, makes us attentive.

...I also believe, curiously, that beauty, which is very often something we confuse with art, is merely a mechanism to move us towards attentiveness. You realize we all have a genetic capacity and need to experience beauty, but beauty is not the ultimate justification for art. It is merely the device by which we are led to attentiveness.”

-Milton Glaser

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Charles W. Cushman

Today posted a selection of photos taken by Charles W. Cushman. He donated over 14,500 photographs taken on Kodachrome slide film between 1938 and 1960 to Indiana University and the entire (at least it seems like the entire) collection is browse-able online.

The photos are so clear and colorful. There are genre headings, like Night Photos, where I found the above photo of San Francisco taken on July 4, 1940.

And subject headings like dirt roads, where I found the above: a corn field in Indiana in 1938.

If you have a couple minutes, or a couple hours, to kill online, I highly recommend taking a look.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Baking Affirmation

After 3 pathetic attempts at making flaky homemade biscuits over the summer, I really needed some success in the kitchen. My most recent crappy biscuits were over the weekend, which means I had buttermilk on hand and nothing to do with it.

Add buttermilk to the need to bake something that doesn't suck and you get scones!

I found this basic recipe for Coffeehouse Scones and switched the white sugar for brown sugar, added a cup of chopped toasted pecans, a splash of cinnamon, and a generous handful of chocolate chips.

And they are fantastic.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Not a necklace person?

I'm not really either.

Well, sometimes I am--it comes in fits and spurts.

But right now I'm into brooches. They're feminine, vintage-e, and they make me feel artsy. This is a new brooch I just posted in my shop. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More Austin fun.

Sunday morning we had brunch at Frank in downtown Austin. Their specialty is all-things pork, especially bacon, and hot dogs.

They had a great selection of drinks featuring, you guessed it, bacon infused liquors.

As this was brunch, a bloody Mary seemed in order and Frank did not disappoint. Their bloody Mary is made with bacon-infused vodka, a full strip of bacon IN the drink, and a beer chaser. Delish!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Just the sort of thing you'd expect to do in Austin.

This weekend, N and I went to Austin to visit N's brother who just moved into a new house. Saturday night we went to the Austin Texas Roller Derby championship bout. It was our first roller derby and we both really enjoyed it.

The Hustlers upset the Hotrod Honeys for 1st place.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Busy bees

Last weekend N and I made an ottoman out of a salvaged piece of foam my mom gave us and some legs from the hardware store. Also made a couple throw pillows for the couch to match it. We, and the cats, are enjoying them.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I love him.

This is a Yaka owl mask from the Democratic Republic of Congo (20th cent.) at the Menil Collection here in Houston. He's adorable.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

If you ever had a reason to go to Marfa, TX...

the Thunderbird looks like a really nice hotel.

Found on Poppytalk.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Charles LeDray

Undoubtedly among my favorite artists Charles LeDray currently has a retrospective on view at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and N and I went to see it last week.
One of my favorite works in the show is his installation "Mens Suits." It features 3 vignettes of a used clothing store in miniature. The first area (above) is the receiving/basement room where the clothes come in.

And there are 2 display rooms; each room features an authentic drop ceiling, complete with dust on top, and a shabby, hand-made linoleum floor.

Reviews of LeDray's work usually focus on how amazing it is that he actually makes every part of the work, all the tiny clothes with working zippers and buttons, etc., and that is spectacular. But as a person trained in the crafts good craftsmanship and skill are not such novelties to me. His detail is impressive, but not the most impressive part.

This installation was so poignant and sad, mostly because of the scale. Most of us have been to dreary stores, but seeing it on this scale and looking down on it makes you think about the fictional lives of those tiny clothes and the people who discarded them and the people who will buy them. Like the reviewer in the above linked-to review says, "(LeDray) looks with infinite compassion on the belongings of the dispossessed and the down and out, the downside of the American dream."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Commission

I received a commission this summer to reset a faceted blue topaz in a similar fashion to this style of ring I made.

I was a little nervous about it because the stone has a fancy cut, and setting faceted stones is not something that was much covered in my training, which means it has taken some trial and error for me to learn how to do it.

I would have to say that I'm pretty pleased with how it came out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Last Venice photo

an image into a canal.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A couple photos of Venetian walls

I realize that anyone can and does take amazing pictures in Venice; it's just that picturesque. I saw many of those photos before I went and they gave me pretty high expectations for the city. I wasn't disappointed.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Venice Canals

from my Venice set on flickr.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ah, Venice.

I have lots of other pictures of Italy, like these from all the towns we visited on the weekends, and these images of reference pictures we took- basically stuff we want to remember- but I'm going to end my Italy blog posts with images from my favorite place in Italy.

We ended our 3 months in Italy with Venice. I was excited to see it, because it is so unusual, but I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. I heard the "elegant decay" description used before we got there and it is appropriate.

Above is the Grand Canal.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Do you have a ticket? the gun show? Well, not that gun show, but N and I did accumulate a fine collection of photos of Italian guns and weapons. See them here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cortona, encora

We spent the bulk of our time in Italy in Cortona, a little town in Tuscany and it was every bit as charming as one would expect.

The photo is above is the view from our apartment window showing the bells of the church of San Francesco.

Fun facts about that church: built in 1245, it was designed by Friar Elia Coppi, who was the same person that designed the famous Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.
This friar was excommunicated twice during his lifetime and died in Cortona in 1253. After he died, the church sort of 'lost track' of where he was buried until Renaissance renovation on the church dropped a beam through the choir floor revealing a body in monk's robes. There was no name, but they suspected that it was Brother Elias.
In the 1960s, researchers from the university in Perugia were able to verify that the bones belonged to a man who died approximately 700 years prior and who was between 70 and 80 old when he died, confirming it was most likely Brother Elias.

For the rest of our images from Cortona, look here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Vespa means wasp, in Italian

Not surprisingly, we saw many Vespas and other beautiful scooters in Italy. N loves the shapes and details of such things as inspiration for his work. Here are the pictures we took.

Friday, June 3, 2011

After Rome

We went to Florence.

It was a welcome change, I thought. The people were friendlier, and the pace was slower.

Here is the green Arno.

And the obligatory photo of the Duomo. It's kind of busy, don't you think?

But our favorite place in Florence was by far La Specola, a natural history museum opened on February 21, 1775! It had taxidermied animals unlike anything I've ever seen before and is famous for its collection of 18th century anatomical wax models.
Here is a flickr set (by someone else) with great photos of the models.

For more pics from our time in Florence, visit my flickr set here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Not to be morbid, but...

reminders of death and the dead were pretty prevalent in Italy. Which is OK by us, 'cause we think that can be interesting.

We especially enjoyed the representations of skulls, which were everywhere.

And, as metalsmiths, we were excited about all the reliquaries, which are containers for holding all, or part, of a saint's body.

The rest of the pictures are in my Reliquaries and Skulls set on flickr.

One of the coolest places we visited, dealing with the dead, was the Cappuchin Crypt in Rome. We couldn't take pictures there, so this one is from

A very interesting place, to say the least.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

In Rome

I started telling my story of Italy in non-chronological order. We actually started our trip in February, in Rome.

I don't know if I was tired, or stressed, or intimidated by my meager language skills, but I didn't love Rome. I still have some good memories of it, like Sant Eustachio coffee , supposedly the best coffee in Rome and I have no reason to argue with that, since it was delicious.

And the Pantheon; absolutely spectacular. Completed in 126 C.E., it was originally a temple to all the gods, and is now a Christian church--probably why it wasn't destroyed during the Middle Ages. This photo is a view of the oculus (opening) in the top of the domed cieling.
It was an amazing space because it is spherical inside: the height from the floor to the oculus is a tall as the diameter of the dome and the effect makes the ceiling feel like it's simultaneously very light and open, and closing in on you. Awesome.

I also really enjoyed the Roman Forum and Coliseum. Crowded with tourists, yes, but truly impressive.
The English literature professor with the program read some poems by Lord Byron when we visited and this was my favorite section:

CXXXIX-- from Lord Byron's "The Coliseum"

And here the buzz of eager nations ran,
In murmur'd pity, or loud-roar'd applause,
As man was slaughter'd by his fellow-man.
And wherefore slaughter'd? wherefore, but because
Such were the bloody Circus' genial laws,
And the imperial pleasure. -- Wherefore not?
What matters where we fall to fill the maws
Of worms -- on battle-plains or listed spot?
Both are but theatres -- where the chief actors rot.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Italian Jewelry and Metalwork

We saw tons of wonderful metalwork and jewelry in Italy. And we took many illegal photos of them.

There were pinhole spectacles in the Galileo Museum in Florence. You can take a virtual tour of the museum and look at the objects here.

A golden earring in the Archeology Museum in Perugia.

These pierced bowls from the Villa Giulia in Rome.

And, my personal favorite, amulets from the amulet collection at the Archeology Museum in Perugia. I blogged about them once, already, but it was such a cool collection that it bears mentioning again.

More images here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

So, how was the food?

Number one question people ask me about our trip is, "how was the food?" Well, it was pretty delicious.
I won't lie, three months of strictly Italian food gets old for Americans who are used to lots of variety, but in general, we had some pretty fantastic treats.

Like pecorino cheese from Pienza. Our favorite was the variety with black peppercorns.

And, from our favorite haunt in Cortona, Bar 500. N exclusively ate the pizza 500, which had sweet corn, roasted red peppers, spicy sausage, red onion and pecorino and mozzarella cheese.

Of course, there was gelato.

And wine and drinks galore; this is a festive sangria.

For more photos of our food treats, visit this set on flickr.