Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Banjo Progress Month 1

Turn your volume on low for this one!

This sound clip is not for the meek. It's not for sensitive ears either. It's my first month's progress on the banjo! I've been faithfully, repetitively and painstakingly playing the same two songs over and over. I'm doing very well with my chords- and not too bad with my strumming and picking either, but my right definitely needs to develop some more coordination.

If you are brave enough to listen to the clip- please pray that I'm much better next month. That's what I'm hoping for too!

If you're not brave enough to listen to the songs- turn your volume off, and enjoy the beautiful floral photographs that I took last summer.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Necklace In Progress

Many times a sketch just doesn't cut it. I'm trying to decide what to do for the rest of this necklace. Instead of sketching out a zillion pages, I made some links with wax. It's more fun this way.

I don't know which design to use-- and now I'm almost thinking of something very simple... instead of a "v" shaped link, I may just use a single link (a slightly curved segment of heavy round wire that tapers flat to one end). And then connect each link with a swivel rivet. Maybe adding more tube settings throughout. I will be setting amber into the tube setting in the pendant to pull the faint amber color out of the polka dot jasper. All this thinking is going to wrinkle my brian!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Setting up my new toy!

I am in the process of setting up a studio essential that I got dirt cheap. And when I say dirt cheap-I mean dirt cheap. To the point where I couldn't pass it up despite my lack of room and negative budget. But hey, all in the name of business right? I'm a self proclaimed tool addict. It could be worse. I could be addicted to shoes or handbags or some silly thing. (Although, I do admire a good looking pair of shoes.) But anyway....
I bought a dust collector table with two polishing motors. And after clearing out a wall in my studio for this massive beast, and hauling the elephant down to the basement- I am ready to get this thing up and running! But first I have to order the filter bags which cost more than what I paid for the entire getup. I'm in the process of doing that right now. Once they come in, my studio will be all cleaned up and ready for another round of productivity! Just one more phase of work that can be done at home now!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Making a Living in Crafts

While I was in the gift shop at the Penland School of Crafts, I stumbled upon this book, Making a Living in Crafts by Donald A. Clark. I picked it up thinking it would be a valuable source of information- but in the back of my mind knew I wouldn't have the time to read it any time soon.

Anyway, I got home and after a few weeks of looking at it and decided to skim through it to see what I could get from a quick glance. I got hooked in. I started reading the book and found so much crucial information for any crafts person looking to start, continue, or grow their business. I had taken a class in college that focused on the information covered in this book, but it is so great to have that information in print.

Donald A. Clark provides advice from successful well known crafters. He does a great job at making the information general so that it is useful to all areas of craft. He covers artists who specialize in production, artists who specialize in one of a kind pieces. He talks about the benefits of having your own studio vs. renting or sharing space, showing in galleries vs. craft shows etc. He also gives specific websites and organizations that are devoted to helping crafters succeed.

This book is very well written and a joy to read compared to the average text-book. It is easy to understand and straight forward. It also has plenty of images for those of us who need to be lured in by visual stimulation. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is involved in the craft field. Whether you have a degree or are self taught. Pick up a copy- the book sells for a mere $20 and is worth it's weight in gold- or wood- or clay- or whatever your creative hands itch to transform!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

With a banjo on my knee!

I have a new hobby! I have always wanted to play the banjo. I grew up singing folk songs around the campfire, and developed an appreciation for folk and bluegrass music. This is an instrument that can play the saddest of songs and still make your heart flutter with delight. I'm on week two of my lessons, and in my humblest opinion, I think I'm doing pretty darn good! (Mike may tell you otherwise, but this isn't his blog ;) ).

I am learning on a basic open back banjo in the clawhammer style. Clawhammer, or old time banjo, is a much different way of playing than the more popular bluegrass style. The style is older and was played in the mountains by miners and farmers. Clawhammer was developed because the workers' hands were crippled by years behind the plow and sledge hammer. The banjo is played with a "claw shaped hand" or an arthritic pose. I thought this was very interesting-since my hands will probobly end up looking the same way from grasping my metalsmithing tools.

While I love both styles of banjo playing, clawhammer will allow me to sing along better than the more excitable three finger bluegrass picking. I hope to get a microphone for the computer so I can record my progress. I am looking forward to seeing how fast I improve. I am also trying to learn as much as I can about the fascinating history of the banjo!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Summer's Simple Pleasures

Just some examples of the simple things Mike and I have been enjoying this summer!

Summer's Gracious Guests

Oh! Broad the range of summer's treat
But personal the favors.
For one man likes the sun's great heat
Another pines the shaders

Though Each green plant for harvesting
Is nurtured and attended
The plants, to some, most lavishing
By nature are commended

The prosper of the summer sun
For man is not, to his dismay.
But for itself is nature's cause
This concept's reach is far for some
How selfish we to impose stay
When all the world from nature draws!

Katherine Miess 2004