notes & reflections ...
Deer with fawn in our front yard...
Enjoying the moment
Spring has sprung - 2021
March 22, 2021
My little corner of the world has suddenly become an explosion of green! I don't ever remember the trees going from nearly bare and pushing out the last flurry of stubborn autumn leaves to full blown foliage in a week - remarkable! If only I were able to shift gears so quickly...
I had my first show in a year at the end of February - it felt so good to be back in my little white-tented kingdom, all 100 square feet of it. What a surprise to be greeted by long-time clients, Jay & Marci, there as the show opened to help me roll up the sides and start the day with me! And I was blessed to see so many long-time customers and friends stop by that weekend - even though it sometimes took a while to recognize them behind masks, sunglasses, hats (sometimes all three!) but we connected. And it was wonderful! And maybe that's what the whole thing is about - connecting with people again. My friend, glass artist Sandy Lent, stayed at our place for the show and just sitting down, face-to-face over a meal, was such a treat. It was the kind of thing that might have been taken for granted in the past, thinking - oh, we can sit down and talk anytime...
We reconnected with family after the show, too. First, to Chicago to visit my Uncle Wally, Auntie Fran and Cousin Mark (Chicago musician MarKeshe) just before my Uncle's 99th birthday. First thing he said after hugs and greetings was "Hey, I passed my driver's test yesterday!" Ninety-nine and still driving! We didn't come empty handed - when you're in Chicago, you eat pizza so we arrived with an extra large pie from our favorite place, Palermo's 95th. We had a whopping one hour to eat and visit before we had to race back to Chicago Midway Airport (which was a ghost town) and head for Washington DC to see our son, daughter-in-law, and two glorious granddaughters. I was so anxious that after 5 months of separation, the girls (4 and 14 months) might not warm up to us right away, but when we hopped in the car at the airport, it was all smiles and hugs-yay! That was just over a week ago and it's taken this long for Grammy to recover!
Now, back to the studio and looking forward to a show that's been on my radar but one I've never done before - Chain of Parks Art Festival in Tallahassee. I know I won't be greeted by long-time customers :-( but it will be interesting to try something new regardless. Just happy to be back in the saddle again! Hope Spring finds you experiencing the things you loved best "BC-Before Covid" and having some new adventures, too!
Autumn 2016 ... and still relevant today, December 31, 2020
October 15, 2016
Can't believe it's been a whole year since I've updated the website...
I'm approaching a milestone birthday ... 65 ... YIKES!!! I am caught somewhere between denial and flaunting it as if it were a badge of honor. Some days I feel as if I'm wearing the years well .... others....ugh. But I look at my own beautiful mother who will turn 96 a few days before my own birthday and reflect upon the grace with which she lived her life and continues to ... always with a smile and a kind heart (and the optimism that comes with the possibility of it being a good Bingo day). So, life is good. Life is better than good ... I'm going to be a grandmother in February!
As I've been updating my website - which had been dormant since Autumn 2016 - I reread these entries reflecting on the past and concluded that, although the section below was written for Autumn 2016, it seems even more relevant now as this wild ride of 2020 comes to a close. In the 4+ years since writing the entry, I've turned 69 (eek!), my beautiful mom passed away in 2019, and the grandchild I was waiting for then is the almost 4 year old light of my life, along with her wondrous one year old sister. Thanks for taking the time to reflect with me!
In the past year, I've reflected and come to a conclusion that many have reached far sooner than I -- the importance of "the moment." Anticipation (and reflection) can be exciting or terrifying - but often they have no grounding in reality. We can (and should) prepare- but we can't predict, and hindsight isn't always 20/20. Often our excitement or our anxiety is rooted in our expectation of what some event will be. Expectations often don't reflect reality, and we are either disappointed or relieved .... when we should probably just be embracing what actually IS. Sometimes I wonder how much of the miracle of each day is lost because we're wrapped up in the past or the future.
Life is complicated and we can't (and I certainly wouldn't want to) extricate ourselves from the complex fabric of life into which we are all woven. I'm just suggesting that living - without expectation - is worth considering. I'm new at this "no expectation" notion and still practicing, but it would be nice to know someone else is practicing with me...
Somehow, Spring and Summer have disappeared ... and now that I'm already two shows into the Fall season, I've decided maybe I should update things...
Spring didn't really "disappear" - you may have seen me at Tarpon Springs or Melbourne - but Summer did, indeed, seem to vanish. I attribute that, in part, to my discovery of Pinterest. If you don't already "pin", I must urge you to avoid starting lest it become your addiction, too! I spent countless hours immersed in viewing tens of thousands of images of jewelry - some charming and whimsical, some over-the-top opulent, and some so exquisite they took my breath away. I'm rationalizing these hours spent by telling myself it afforded me the opportunity to expand the breadth of my knowledge of art jewelry while inspiring me beyond limits but that's a little like saying devouring an entire box of Godiva Chocolate broadens one's appreciation of the art of chocolate. It broadens something alright, but not necessarily one's appreciate of chocolate. But all those images are sure eye candy... I have one friend who "follows" me on Pinterest and I appreciate it greatly ... after all, how pathetic would it be to post these fantastic images and have no one else be interested in seeing them...it would be like having no friends on Facebook...and I'm only guessing that's what it's like because I don't do Facebook ...don't even try to get me started!
I'm feeling a little bit like the amaryllis at left ... a bit of a "late bloomer." It just could not be coaxed to bloom for Christmas in spite of a house full of guests watching and waiting ... or even New Year ... but in its own time, the spectacular blossoms finally opened, one at a time. I'd never had an amaryllis before -- this one was a gift from my friend, glass artist Sandy Lent. In addition to being a gifted artist, she also has a green thumb. Me... well, there was a reason I majored in rocks. Sometimes I feel like my work "blooms" with all the speed of that amaryllis. No matter how big the show or how soon the deadline, the works in progress just seem to take their own sweet time...and I'm reminded again that patience is a virtue...
It is hard to believe it's Autumn when it's still too hot to open a window, but I always enjoy sitting on the back porch whether it's for morning coffee or "happy hour" and it's always a special treat when gentle critters come up close to the house. We've been able to watch this little family of deer grow up before our eyes all summer and enjoy seeing the kids go from gangly to almost graceful.
Fall is usually a time when things wind down a bit as the days grow shorter...not necessarily a time for "new growth," but over the summer I started experimenting a bit with polymer and now I think I'm having a little growth spurt... All summer, I had a love/hate relationship with the stuff...I'd have a modest success with it and then, BAM, I'd have just a mushed blob of the equivalent of an egg of silly putty...but then something interesting would grow out of the blob and I'd get re-inspired. I had this strange compulsion to just keep at it. My roots have always been in beautiful stones and other natural materials -- pearls, fossilized bone, coral -- and now, how do I dare bring polymer into the mix? Well, as it turns out, very carefully. Aside from my affinity for beautiful rocks, I also have a marked attraction to strong, minimal design whether modern or primitive and polymer fills that minimalist niche. Polymer can be just about anything you want it to be -- like moist clay in the hands of a potter. But all that "possibility" can also be intimidating -- how do you decide what to make when you can make anything? It's been some great artistic cross-training, given me new-found respect for a medium that was quite alien to me and I think it's brought about some interesting new work...hope you'll feel the same...
This June we celebrated a Family Event of the Greatest Magnitude: our son got married! Woo Hoo! The months of anticipation culminated in a most beautiful, warm and charming celebration just outside Nashville. It was a "destination wedding" for nearly all, including the bride and groom. I can't imagine the stress of trying to plan something (sans wedding planner!) so far from where you live, but the bride created the perfect start to their life together ... and lucky us for being there to share in it!
. . . and I had the pleasure of making the jewelry for the bride and wedding party . . .
Location, location, location: At left, what a view at the Tarpon Springs Art on the Bayou show ... I have also participated when the wind off the water almost made it the "Art IN the Bayou" show but when the weather is good, it's hard to beat a couple of days enjoying the waterfront while watching energetic crew teams, playful dolphins and the friendly faces of loyal patrons. I had to miss the show last year so it was especially nice to have had the chance to catch up with the great people I hadn't seen in a couple of years.
My first show of 2013 was Gasparilla -- always one of my very favorites. There is a great energy to downtown Tampa, and the city setting lends a sophisticated vibe to what is always an upscale show. This year, with temperatures only in the 40's and 50's, I wondered who in the world would come to an outdoor show when they could be home with their hands wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate in front of a fireplace ... but the residents of Tampa are of much heartier stock than I originally thought! What fun to see a parade of Winter fashions -- one woman told me she'd just worn her jacket the week before while skiing in Montana! These women of Tampa are true jewelry enthusiasts -- fearlessly unwinding cozy scarves and shedding jackets to try on necklaces -- I salute (and thank) you!
Tucson! After missing the big gem and mineral show last year, I was thrilled to be able to attend this year, even if just for a few short days. Tucson has traditionally been my annual pilgrimage to rock & bead Mecca for 16 of the past 17 years. It's where everybody from all over the world who has a rock, gem, bead, fossil to sell (and next year, you can be sure there will be plenty of pieces of Russia's Chelyabinsk meteorite) converges with the tens of thousands of eager buyers. As usual, I rounded up an assortment of goodies from the ridiculous to the sublime ... water buffalo horns, chunks of raw chrysocolla, rare (and getting more rare) gaspeite ... and yes, even more Alaskan coral branches ... along with some gorgeous Mediterranean red coral, luscious soft green veriscite, natural sardonyx and banded agates, seal oosiks (don't ask unless you really want to know!) ... and many more wonderful and exotic treasures.
The US Postal Service had me holding my breath for quite a few days ... I almost always send my Tucson treasures back home in flat rate boxes (for obvious reasons -- rocks are heavy) and this year the 2-3 day usual delivery time stretched to 11 days. I feared the worst for those carefully selected treasures that didn't make it into my carry-on suitcase... but finally, I heard the friendly beep-beep of my lady mailman and her truck, and my package arrived -- everything looking great. Soon a little piece of Tucson will make an appearance in my Spring shows.
October 24, 2012
We don't see much Fall color on the trees here in Florida so I was especially struck by the majestic cottonwood pictured at left as my husband and I strolled down Canyon Road in Santa Fe last week. Not that it had all that much fall color, but the texture of the bark was so seductive it would make anybody a tree hugger. And now, seeing the rather abstract photo, it looks a bit like a synapse -- hmmm ... what signal could it be sending me?
Isn't it something the way our powers of observation seem heightened when we're out of our usual space? Makes me believe that even a brief change of scenery can make a big impact on our mental acuity.
On the way to the airport on our way home, we made a stop at Petroglyph National Monument... and saw the gentleman pictured at left ... as my husband remarked, "is that what I think it is?" Well, Dear, maybe he's just taking a little artistic license ... and in that context, maybe those gradiose delusions are okay.
Sometimes, though, even the most creative minds struggle to take that leap to "artistic license." The art of jewelry seems to carry the additional expectation of being wearable. But while my newest piece may or may not be wearable in your eyes, I assure you it is wearable, and has been worn, at least by tribesmen in New Guinea. The focus of the neckpiece is a kina shell and these shells were used as currency in New Guinea up until around 50-60 years ago. Now they are artifacts used ceremonially. So now the issue becomes, how do you store jewelry that very obviously will not fit in a jewelry box? Well, you find somebody who creates custom stands for real artifacts! On my mission to find an appropriate display, I discovered Joey Hartley of Ancient Artifax at www.ancientartifax.com . While Joey's main business is the restoration of artifacts, which he's done for countless collectors and museums around the world, Joey recognized the need to properly display these ancient art works -- meaning the artifact not only needed the proper support to keep it safe and secure, but that support had to practically disappear so that it wouldn't detract from the artifact itself. So unlike a painting with an ornately carved and gilded frame to enhance it, the artifacts require an unobtrusive way to display and cradle them. I was thrilled with end result pictured at left -- I most highly recommend Joey if you're looking for a special way to display an unusual find. Of course, if you'd like this particular "unusual find," the custom stand is included!
. . .
August 27, 2012
Nothing says Summer quite like Dairy Queen . . . of course, here in Florida, it's DQ season all year long, but I can remember growing up in Chicago where the DQ days were limited and getting my favorite Jack & Jill (chocolate & marshmallow) sundae was quite an event. Of course, while in college, my tastes became far more sophisticated, with my DQ delectable of choice switching to the Dixie Belle. From college, the nearest Dairy Queen was about 40 miles west , near the Mississippi River town of Hamilton. But gas was only about 37 cents a gallon then, and my Corvair convertible got pretty good mileage, so making an 80 mile round trip with the wind in my hair for a 35-cent sundae was a wonderful adventure. And to this day, it is still my sundae of choice. I only wish I still had that car . . . but I do still have the "boyfriend" who would sometimes take me there, and we went to the DQ pictured at left on our 36th anniversary this past June.
But now, the days of summer are almost gone ... and I spent a good part of my "summer vacation" working on this new website. I'm not a professional web designer, but artists often have the (sometimes mistaken) notion that, if it's creative, we can do it ourselves, and so I took on the task. I had an absolutely dream of a designer previously, Sandra, but she has taken a corporate position and sold her web business, so this switch has her blessing. So for those of you who knew your way around the old site -- and loved it -- I hope you'll give this new one a chance.
I also took a class in kumihimo in June ... kumihimo is the Japanese art of braiding. This particular class focused on braiding with beads and pearls, so how could I resist! I'm still working on ways to incorporate this technique that is done with a very precise pattern look like it belongs with my funky, chunky, primitive natural spirit ... we'll see...
But now, it's time to look ahead toward fall and the fall show season. I have been accepted to Winter Park in October and Dunedin Art Harvest in November, and am hoping for the Flamingo Follies in New Smyrna Beach (a good excuse to go to that Diary Queen) and the DeLand Fall Festival. So, to everything there is a season, and the season now is to stop typing and start working.
Oh-- one other project I've been working on this summer has been that studio in the backyard ... After finally settling on a design, we're in the process of getting bids. I hope my dreams haven't been so lofty as to price it out of the realm of possibility . . .
Site of future backyard studio ...
with current resident visible
My old studio, downtown DeLand
March 11, 2012
There's a somewhat annoying commercial with the tag line "life comes at you fast." I suppose I wouldn't find it so annoying if I were the type of person who is prepared (or even the slightest bit organized) to handle life's surprises. I'm sure I'm not all that different from a lot of folks -- the people who are treading water to meet the demands of the day, whether it's family, work, the barrage of electronic communication that comes across our desks or our "smartie pants" phones... for me, there just isn't a minute to "get organized" even though I often find myself spending tens of minutes looking for keys, glasses, receipts, tools, beads ... the very things my mother tells me "if you always put them in the same place, you wouldn't have to be looking for them." Well, now mom gets to tell me that often and in person, as she moved in with us back in September. (There will be a special place in heaven for my husband for allowing this -- and don't tell him, but when he isn't being a total curmudgeon, he is a saint.) But I digress.... but then these are my ramblings....
Mom moving in, and the care she requires at 91 after a stroke and heart attack, have been life-changing events for all of us -- the "life comes as you fast" part. Time to ramble and reflect is pretty limited in my disorganized and ill-prepared life. Time to work is pretty limited in my disorganized and ill-prepared life. Well, I do have some excuses. In addition to Mom moving in, I lost the lease on my beloved downtown DeLand studio of ten years. (Can you imagine all the beads, rocks, tools, toys, I have collected in those ten years... and the nine years before that?) Well, now I am relegated to working in half a guest room with all my glorious materials stacked in plastic bins ... at least until I can organize my dreams enough to take them to a builder so a studio can become reality in the yard. But I am so lucky -- I actually have a 91 year old mother, a saintly/curmudgeon husband, a great kid who lives in his own place and has an exciting job (and a girlfriend who is wonderful!), and I get to create pieces for amazingly loyal (and patient!) long-time clients, and delightful people I don't even know yet. I am starting to "get my groove" back ...
But now it's time to cook dinner...
Copyright 2020 Chris Carlson | Rocks In Your Head jewelry All rights reserved.