Personal Her-story

“D” is for…

After yesterday’s post you might be a little curious about that “D” I got for my technical skills in my metals class many years ago. Let’s just say I’m not really at ease with a torch.
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Don’t get me wrong, I’m game. I jump right in there and spark that flame and get down with the flux and get jiggy with the solder. But the whole thing makes me very uncomfortable and I hate the way the pickle smells (weird I know because I really love pickles). And then there’s all the work before you even get to the part where you can seriously burn yourself. There’s the sawing, and the breaking of all those saw blades; and the chasing (that’s hammering the metal with special hammers) and getting the pitch out from under your fingernails. So I guess it’s not just the torch it’s the whole process, and it probably doesn’t help to have a voice from the past screaming “stuuupid girrrls” in my head whenever I smell the acid from the pickle or the rouge from the buffers. But I digress.

You could say that the “D” that Don Douglas gave me was for Determination. I was determined at that point to make it in the field of jewelry design and he was truly in my corner.
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Unfortunately without his mentorship it became a “D” for Defeated, and I moved on. Not so much from jewelry and it’s design, more from metal as its medium. Hence the Baker’s Clay jewelry I sold at Pike Place Market way back then, and the embroidered and beaded fabric bracelets and necklaces, and bead and charm earrings I make today.

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Jewelry is only one thing I make. Usually just a few pieces I wear myself or make for my daughter, my mom, or my best friend. And fabric and thread and beads are a familiar and comfortable medium to use. You could even say that “D” now is for domestic. No fire. No acid. There are needles. And it IS annoying whenever I prick my finger and fall into a deep sleep…What’s that? I wasn’t asleep? That wasn’t a dream? That was a Netflix marathon of Sons of Anarchy?
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Oh well, I have to have something to watch while I stitch. Who says the Domestic Arts are for the faint of heart?

Gilding the Lily

As you know, I’ve been spending a lot of time setting up my Sewing Studio and Big Ass closet and I’m very excited to have finally finished and to have the two combined into one space.
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It makes sense for me. Not that I spend any time sewing clothes. The most I’ve done is take normal jeans and make them skin tight — and that highlights my explicative vocabulary more than it does my “tailoring” skills. I just love to embellish things. To decorate them. (Run Lily, run, she’s got the gold paint!)

Here are some pages from one of my early Inspiration Books. Bear in mind “archival” was not a term with which I had any familiarity in 1977…
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Jewelry is the cherry on top of the sartorial sundae and an opportunity to play with color and pattern and have a little fun with this serious business of dressing ourselves. As you can guess, jewelry plays a big role in both my Sewing Studio and my Big Ass closet. I love to wear it and I love to make it. These are some hand sewn and beaded cuff bracelets I made.
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My Freshman year in college I studied Jewelry Design with Don Douglas at Boise State University. What a dear man. He let me spend hours in the studio outside of class time laboring over my complex designs which were far beyond my skill level.
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At the end of the year he gave me a “D” for technical skill, an “A+” for originality and design, and a recommendation to study with John Marshall at the University Of Washington in Seattle.

At UW I did start out as a BFA Metals Major, but quickly moved from Marshall whose specialty was hollowware, to Ramona Solberg who oversaw jewelry. Ramona Solberg was an amazing jewelry designer, but by the time I became her student, her love of teaching had fled. I changed my degree to BA Art, graduated two and a half years after I’d begun, and got on with my life.

My first “art job” was selling my Baker’s Clay (salt dough) jewelry at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. Many of my designs were based on the patterns on the backs of beetles. This is the page I painted to use as templates for myself from a big book of beetle photographs belonging to my parents.
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At the Market my regular fans were the Indians who slept on the street and bummed cigarettes off me, but I had one brush with greatness. Sherry Markovitz bought my work. Man, I wish I had just one of her beaded animal heads.
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Instead her work lives on inside my head. There’s no question her art continues to influence me years later at a deep level. I haven’t thought about all of this stuff for a long time. It’s good to shake things up, stir up a little dust storm, find stuff you’ve long forgotten and figure out new ways to use it.

Now that everything is in one room and all my materials and my inspiration for outfit combinations are in one place I imagine both my wardrobe and my vocabulary are going to get a lot more expansive and way more colorful!