Monday, April 7, 2014

The "elemental nexus" in my mind.

Brooch/Pendant working title: "Tick Tectonics"
One month and three days until the opening of the exhibit, Elemental Nexus, May 10th which will feature my work, along with the work of three other artists, at the Craft Council Gallery.  Tick-tock, tick-tock!  I trust you will understand if this is a short post.  I am channeling my excited energy into creating, creating, creating!

I've learned a lot about the rewards and pitfalls of pacing my production as I've prepared this body of work.  This article I read recently, enforced a hunch I've known, but have never fully understood regarding that "high" one feels when one's day has been particularly fruitful.  I know I feel my mood lift when I've had a productive day, even if it's been a non-stop-busy day.  While obviously it feels good to have something done, as opposed to nothing done at the end of the day, I've struggled to understand how, in contrast, a day spent in utter relaxation often leaves me feeling hollow, or unfulfilled.  And yet, as I suspect is the case with many folks, the inertia of stillness can be hard to shake sometimes.  I encourage you to take the time to read it, it is enlightening.

The second penny dropped regarding the satisfaction of production as I've been learning a tiny bit more about meditation and yoga.  Understanding the link between focusing on the rhythm of one's breath, and getting more from daily life has become clearer.  My sister helped me see this connection, along with my own exploration as I re-acquaint myself with yoga.  The key it seems to me, is not so much in taking the time to fit meditation into one's day, and thus finding that sense of calm spilling into the rest of one's life, as it is about adapting the increased ability to focus that is gained through meditation and applying that to the activities of daily life.  My sister and her husband have two young children, and are freelance musicians in Toronto.  Making the most of their time is of the essence.  She recently expressed to me how much more efficient she has become when a nugget of time for practicing arises, and how her focus and efficiency in those spare moments has increased.  I have found in preparing my work for this exhibition a greater sense of productivity and drive than I've previously had.  I didn't connect it to my yoga practice though, until chatting with my sister about her meditation practice and her increased efficiency in seizing the spare moments.  It really is a training of the brain that one is then able to apply to different scenarios without as much mental strain to remain focused on the task at hand.  The spin-off benefit is that things get accomplished, and that is immensely rewarding!

Now, I must redirect my attention back to my jewellery bench as I tackle the last few items that will be in the exhibition.  Today I picked up 7 shiny new custom plexi-glass cubes that will sit over my work in the gallery.  I am overly excited about them.  I think they are making the inevitability that this exhibition will actually happen more real to me!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Earrings for you; soup for someone else! Make it a Happy Valentine's Day!

The beginning of February is upon us, and with it the approach of Valentine’s Day.  There is a belief (true or not) that this most lovey-dovey of holidays was created entirely by-and-for the profit of the greeting card industry.  Along with most other holidays, Valentine’s Day in recent years has blossomed into a mega-marketing event, projecting the image of an ideal day of gifts and romantic adventures to top anything that happens throughout the rest of the year between you and your significant other.  That’s a lot of pressure! 

Also on my mind at this time of year as we snuggle up in our houses and retreat from the overload of social engagement that often describes the Christmas season, are the folks that are left out in the cold.  Those, that when we stop participating in the socially-conscious giving that is especially highlighted over the holiday season, still experience daily challenge to put a meal on the table.  As a producer of such an (often perceived-as) frivolous item like jewellery, this weighs on my mind. 

And so, all of this preamble leads to this: I’d like to propose to you a chance to give back to the community as you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year.  One of my most popular pairs of earrings are pictured here.  I designed them with no specific image in mind, but a lot of customers have commented on their resemblance to soup ladles.  As jewellery is an oft-given item on Valentine’s Day, I have decided to donate 50% of the sale of each of my “soup ladle” earrings to Street Reach, which operates many services to the public, among which is a soup kitchen.  This offer will be valid for earrings purchased in person, (while supplies last) at my booth this weekend during Some Good Market Goes to Town.  As usual this event will be held at Canon Wood Hall on the corner of King’s Bridge Road and Military Road, on Feb. 8th from 10am - 4pm.  Here’s a chance for us all to feel good about giving at this time of year!

On Sunday, Feb. 9th, please drop by Alexis Templeton Studio where I will be participating in her annual Chocolate & Handmade Hearts event which runs from Feb.7th - 14th.  Try your hand at forging your own copper heart charm to take home!  I will be there on Sunday from 12 - 4pm, but be sure to drop by throughout the weekend to see what other visiting artists are demonstrating.  There’s also chocolate and pots as always, to tickle your fancy.  

One week later on Feb. 15th, the Quidi Vidi Plantation will have a Snow Day Open House, at which I will have a booth.  There will be live music, sweet treats, and of course the artists in residence will be there to showcase what they’ve been creating in their studios!  A great day out for the whole family.

Happy Winter, my friends!  Enjoy the wealth of opportunities this season has to offer us!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Countdown to May 10th!

A brand new year is stumbling out of the gate.  As the hubbub of Christmas and New Year's ends, and we shovel ourselves out of yet another snowfall, all the while anticipating the next power outage, I'm trying to bring my focus around to the next big deadline I am facing. 

I have had a proposal accepted by the Gallery at the Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador for an exhibit in their main gallery, along with three other artists.  Opening on May 10th and running until June 24th, "Elemental Nexus" will feature the work of Urve Manuel, Heather Mills, Colette Samson, and myself.  Urve and Colette work in glass, Heather works in glass and metal, and I will be featuring my metalwork.  In different ways we are each exploring the themes of interaction in the natural world.  I am tackling this exploration from the perspective of the human impact on animal and bird populations, as well as on the topography of our environment.  I am excited to be making some sculptural work as well as jewellery pieces for this show. 

The ideas in my head are bursting to find tactile expression on my workbench, and yet, as with every piece I make, there is a certain trepidation that the perfection I see in my mind's eye will fail to be executed satisfactorily by my (only too human) hands.  I have begun work on this collection of pieces, but now I must ramp up production so that I don't feel rushed as the exhibition date nears.  I would also like to gratefully acknowledge the support of the Newfoundland & Labrador Arts Council as I prepare this body of work.  Their contribution will allow me a greater freedom in my choice of materials than I would otherwise have been able to incorporate.  Without revealing too much before the opening of the exhibition, I hope to provide you with sneak peaks of the work as it comes together.  As always, please visit my Facebook Page to stay up to date with my activities between these (approximately) monthly blog posts.

I will wrap this up with just a few images from my Christmas holidays in Ontario.  Thank goodness for digital photography, as I certainly found lots of beauty that simply required photo-documentation!
Hope you all had a safe and festive holiday, and all the best to everyone in 2014!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Balancing the Christmas Distractions, I mean Inspirations!

I have mentioned the balancing act that I struggle with when it comes to allowing myself to work on projects other than jewellery.  (The previous post on that topic is here.)  Well, Christmas-time magnifies this dilemma for me.  There is a desire to present new exciting jewellery pieces at the myriad of craft fairs throughout the holiday season, but I also used to, (long, long ago,) make Christmas gifts for people, as well as tackle crafty projects in general.  This has fallen by the wayside in recent years, since I've gone 'entrepreneurial'.  The regret of projects not tackled, in lieu of jewellery, gets tiresome to be quite honest.  So as this festive season ramps up, I've just chosen to seize upon my success with being most productive in the mornings and into the afternoons (and so I make jewellery then), and I leave the afternoons or evenings open to different creative whims.  It's working!  I have found a balance of sorts. 

Above are some heat-coloured, folded copper bird ornaments that I thought had a whimsical appeal.  The inspiration came from a bird on my advent calendar, and I went with it.  These will be available along with my jewellery, at the Anna Templeton Christmas Tea & Sale this coming weekend Dec. 13,14, & 15th.  This is the last event for Susan Lee Studios this year!  Below are some new pieces you can find at my booth located at the back of the second floor.
7 brand new photo-etched Porthole necklaces

Roller-printed reversible necklace and earrings in sterling.

Photo-etched brooch and necklace in sterling silver.

May this festive season bring joy to your household that spills on and on into the new year.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ready or not, here comes Christmas!

I blinked and the Christmas season is upon us once again!  It begins fast and furious for craftspeople this week in St. John's.  Tomorrow is the opening of the Craft Council's two gallery exhibits: Comfort & Joy in the main gallery, and Fire & Ice in the Annex Gallery.  I hope you can join us!  2-4pm

At right is a sneak peek at the work I have in these two shows. 

Comfort & Joy will run Nov. 2 - Dec. 18th, and Fire & Ice will run Nov. 2 - Nov. 23rd.

And then next week the biggest and best craft event of the year starts!  The Craft Council's Christmas Craft Fair is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and the caliber of juried craft just gets better and better. 

You'll find my booth upstairs this year, near the south entrance to the theater auditorium, booth #S211.  The fair opens Wednesday, Nov. 6th, at noon and runs until Sunday, Nov. 10th at 5:00.  Full fair hours and other details can be found here.

I've been exceedingly busy making new work and I'd love for you to drop by and have a look.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Reinventing my booth

My booth, Christmas 2012
The Craft Council Christmas Craft Fair is looming scarily close.  Less than a month away in fact.  I'm steadily working away at my jewellery.  I will have lots of one-of-a-kind work as well as some of my more standard favourites.  This year however, I've committed myself to a larger (and much more expensive!) booth at the Arts and Culture Centre.  I'll be out on the concourse, near one of the auditorium doors.

And so, I'm taking to heart the advice from the many marketing gurus that preach "if you double your space, you'll double your sales".  This is a simplified soundbite of course.  But there certainly is truth in allowing enough room at a craft fair for customers to browse.  I know that as a customer, if it's too crowded, I don't linger long to look at the work on display.  When it's busy, my booth has been crowded, and with the small size of my product customers will pass by rather than elbow their way in to see what I'm selling.  However, with a bigger booth I must reinvent my display.

I enjoy this planning.  It's a bit of a puzzle, considering all the factors that make a successful booth display that works for me, as well as my customers.  One factor is cost - as my display must morph from one craft fair setting to another, I can't break the bank on any one display set-up.  Another is portability - all the component parts must be carried to and from my small car, often within the bustling chaos of all the other booth holders who are also setting up.  And because I share my humble abode, I must also consider the storage of the display components between fairs.  The display components themselves must also function well once they are set up - it is alarming to customers if the display is wobbly or they're uncertain of whether they can touch the product without something tipping over.  Uncertain customers don't linger, and therefore don't make a purchase.

I've been wanting for some time now to figure out a way to move my display from primarily horizontal surfaces, to more vertical ones.  The challenge here is the traditional "pipe and drape" set-up at the fairs.  Drapery, obviously, doesn't provide a stable surface for mounting things on.  This year I think I have figured out a solution, that still meets all of my criteria above for display components.  It will no doubt need some tweaking, once it's in use.  But between now and then I'm trying to foresee glitches and remedy them.  

I will have this one big plinth for some display items as well as storage.
And so:

I'm sewing a long narrow curtain to wrap the booth at eye-level.

I've been collecting boxes, and had hoped to find green tights to cover them.

Since green tights couldn't be found, I've resorted to spray paint. These boxes will hang in front of the long, narrow curtain, and, with the buttons I will attach to them, will hold my jewellery.

This is my pricey experiment: some warm LED lighting tape which I'm hoping to suspend in front of my vertical display.
Hope to see you Nov. 6 - 10th at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John's.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Full Tilt

Audio interlude:  Mo Kenney with Joel Plaskett

 Audio Interlude: Katie Baggs

Visitors, traveling, craft fairs, and the glorious folk festival: it's been a busy summer.  Now ahead of me I see time free to tackle ideas that have been on the back burner, waiting.  There are many exhibits with open calls-for-entry this fall, and I've jumped with both feet into a much larger booth for the Christmas Craft Fair in November.  I don't want to disappoint myself by not meeting my own expectations.  So now: to work!