29 August 2010

the quest for 40" cord + some philosophizing

In the few weeks that I've been making my own silk cord, I've been trying to refine my technique and make longer and longer cord.  With my existing set-up, the longest length I could make was about 28".  You see, there was the length of my work table combined with the length of me - I'm 5'2" and, though I do have long arms for a short person, there's only so much those relatively long arms can manage.  So a few days ago, I got to thinking about what it would take to expand my possibilities.

First, there was the centerpiece of the process, the fixed location of my bench vise at the end of my worktable.  The other crucial tool in the equation was my flex-shaft for twisting the silk, also in a fixed location.  Enter my new favorite tool - a dremel stylus rotary tool with a charging dock.  How cute is this???

It fits my hand perfectly - ergonomic grip and all.  I did spend an extra 10 bucks for a keyless chuck, but am very glad I did.  This afternoon I set about learning how to use my new toy.  There was a bit of a learning curve to figure out the logistics of making 40" cord, but figure it out I did ... and in relatively short order.  The tools of my cord-making adventure ...

And the finished 40" lengths of cord .....

A little side note ...  I have a feeling when Nina reads this, she's going to chuckle.  We had a short visit this past Friday and at some point she mentioned my orderly (not the word she used) approach to things.  I can't help it, I'm very methodical and pretty well organized.  It's an ongoing challenge to keep that over particular part of myself in balance with the creative side.  For most of my adult life, organized and logical had the upper hand.  In 1992, inspired by the tribal looking bracelets Lorraine Bracco wore in Medicine Man (lord I loved that movie - Sean Connery with a ponytail!), I strung together a length of seed beads on quilting thread to wear on my right wrist.  The idea was to wear something creative on my logical and dominant right side - a physical reminder, a creativity talisman.  I wore increasingly long and complex variations of that bracelet 24/7 for the next 16 years.  Here you can see the longest version - 16 feet.  

Through the years, it got to where I wore a lot of jewelry all the time - and I do mean all the time.  A couple of years ago, I was compelled to take it all off.  It was ever so strange, but very transformational.  These days I go back and forth, some days fully decked out, other days nothing.  There are times when I load up and put it all back on - full armor - mostly when I'm heading into challenging situations and need all the good juju I can muster.

Hmmmm, I digress.  I guess the point of the digression is that I believe to my core there is enormous power in how we adorn ourselves.  I believe that what we wear and the intention behind how we make those choices can either uplift and engage our creative spirit or, if the choices don't come from an authentic place, be equally debilitating.  My primary motivation for making jewelry is to share work that always comes from a heart-centered place, that uplifts and empowers the wearer.

There's great power in words, there's also great power in objects.  One of my favorite quotes is from Tabra (remember her?), "choose your magic carefully, and keep it with you always."  I'm with her.

Magical blessings - kvk

28 August 2010

jumpin jive

lawd lawd I think I'm in love.
This morning on Weekend Edition ... Caravan Palace ... French Gypsy Swing Electronica ... absolutely impossible to sit still ... impossibly fun and incredibly infectious. 
Django and Benny's feet must be tappin' in heaven.

from my happy feet to yours
blessings - kvk

26 August 2010

indigo obsessions

Interesting how one thing leads to another ...
I bought Sibella Court's book Etcetera ETC and keep returning to these images .............

which lead to perusing on-line for vintage Japanese textiles and discovering SRI Threads - oh . my . goodness ... and further obsessing about boro and indigo ...............

 then I found Kimono Boy and, among lots of other things, vintage indigo hemp yardage ...................

Okay, so I succumbed and two of these are on their way from Japan - one cotton/hemp blend and one all hemp.  Both vintage homespun and woven from early 1900.  I cannot wait to get my hands on some of this ... I'm thinking hand-stitched curtains in the kitchen, maybe a cushion for my meditation bench, maybe I'll just leave pieces sitting around.  Indigo - even the name is enticing.

A couple of shopping notes ... if anyone's interested in Sibella's book, there are several available on Amazon.  It was up over $100 for new ones a couple weeks ago, but they're back down to $30.  Another note on obsessions - Selvedge is having a sale on their back issues - $11.25 plus a 3% c/cd fee.  They're normally $20-$25, so if you're wanting a taste of this glorious publication, it's a terrific deal.

okay - back to work for this little pleeb ...
blessings - kvk

p.s.  such a beautiful day but I've had to close my studio window - workmen are digging a trench in my road to bury phone cables - grrrrrrrrr

23 August 2010

new treasures new inspiration

I've been busy busy busy since my last post.  Dave's mom (Janet) was here for what turned out to be a week full of gallery visits and studio tours.  Today I'm catching up with checkbooks and stacks of mail and the explosion of chaos in my studio and sharing some of the wonderful things we found last week.

Our first day out and about we hit Weaverville and two of my favorite shops - Miya Gallery and Mangum Pottery and on the way back one of those places I've been meaning to stop into for ages, Thyme in the Garden.  As Janet and I were exploring the gardens we were captivated by all the little buzzing critters.  Then this morning while catching up in blog-land, I chuckled to see that Andrew and I had discovered the same amazing little creature last week - a hummingbird moth.

Tuesday was a big day - Penland, Bakersville, and Burnsville and some of the best artists and potters in the country.  Our first stop was Nick Joerling's studio, hands down our favorite potter of all time.  As you can see, between the three of us, we came away with quite a haul - Nick had a very lucrative day ...

Our next stop was the Penland Gallery and School, one of the premier craft schools in the country ... amazing how much talent lives and is drawn to this region - really amazing.  In the gallery was an exhibit with the work of Maggie Taylor - a new discovery for me.

Let me just say, Dave and I are absolutely in love with her work and aesthetic and were 'this' close to coughing up a large chunk of change for one of her pieces.  And me, I'm really really in love with her work.  Funny thing - we thought this tree image borrowed heavily from one of our favorite photographers, Jerry Uelsmann.  Turns out, she's married to him - we felt much better after that discovery.  Her website's got a bit too much 'flash' stuff going on for my taste, but the work is incredible.  I might just have to have a copy of her Alice in Wonderland.

Next was the studio of Melisa Cadell.  Melisa's figurative work can be quite challenging and is way out of my price range.  What I have been collecting are her small wall pieces.  I have one from several years ago that's very sculptural and just bought one of her ravens at the Guild show last month.  Janet was smitten by them as well - she got one from Melisa and another from the superb Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville.

All in all, a fun week, albeit a bit expensive.  The weeks ahead will see me back at work - continuing the re-vamp of my wholesale line, catalog and website.  The ideas and inspiration continue to flow and, for that, I am enormously grateful and super excited.

I'll leave you with three words that came together a few nights ago, just as my head hit the pillow ...

embrace  ... empower ... engage

Not sure where or if these will get used, but I like how they feel.
Now back to my sorting and organizing and being productive.
blessings - kvk

16 August 2010


I'm taking a few days off while Dave's mom is here and this is what hit my radar while getting the yard spruced up for her arrival ....

Almost immediately after buying our house we had to remove an enormous oak tree with a rotting base - it broke my heart to see that beautiful tree felled.  We gave away all the wood and only kept the wedge that was cut for the last 4 ton section to fall.  When the base was ground out, we were left with an equally enormous pile of mulch.  The mulch pile is dwindling and has turned into a lively little mushroom habitat - mother nature is so amazing ........

Such beautiful textures and shapes and subtle colors and in such a short time.  A extraordinary microcosm to ponder.

Tomorrow we're heading to Penland.  Really hoping for some new pots.  Oooooh, anticipation is delicious.

blessings - kvk

06 August 2010

silk cord and cicadas

So very satisfying ... these last couple of days.
Mornings with windows open before the heat and humidity get too intense, breeze blowing and cicadas' serenade.  Creating new silver elements inspired by an ancient stairway in Provence, swirling memories and feeling compelled to pull out tucked away treasures to touch and gaze upon - just because.

The new designs in my head required cord, preferably silk - not an easy commodity to come by.  So I decided to make my own.  I sort of knew how to make cord from twisting two strands of fibers and lord knows I've got plenty of silk thread in all sorts of colors.  Yesterday I went from laboriously hand twisting silk to using a pin vise to, wondrous revelation, using my flex shaft - my wrists and hands are very relieved.  I am a cord making machine and the results are ever so lovely. 

These will be new additions to my catalog - 25 different pendants, each one minimal and, I think quite elegant in it's simplicity.  I've got more silver in the kiln (which is why I'm taking a break for a quick post) that will be for Etsy and AOT.  This afternoon I'll be working on knotted silk and gemstone versions of some of these.  Oh I am so very pleased with my little lovelies .........

The past two days, my only 'music' has been the cicadas and yesterday's raucous thunderstorm.  But today, I've got Jim White and Cat Power for background which seems to fit my mood and varied inspirations.  It's probably because I associate their music with Wrong Eyed Jesus and that reminds me of my childhood - sandy dirt roads and sink holes, enormous live oak trees and spanish moss, rickety houses perched on cinder blocks,  my Grandfather's religious fervor which scared me back then but inspires me now, my Dad's ill-fated dream of becoming an import/export magnate and his hodge-podge of a stamp collection that is another one of my most cherished possessions.

One of the now fragile glassine pages of my Dad's stamp collection (probably from the early 40's)

I'm not sure how all this will affect my jewelry, but it's where my thoughts are wandering and I'm just going with it.  It is a hearkening back to my roots, honoring and embracing what I once disparaged and tried to ignore, a homecoming.

feeling enormous gratitude and quite blessed - kvk

02 August 2010

venturing out ... oiling up my social skills

Goodness, it's been an interesting almost two weeks since my last post.  Last week was a big one for me - about a month's worth of activities in one week - well for me anyway.

Since returning from France, you probably know things in my life have been shifting.  I've been defining new priorities, looking closely at what draws my attention, getting up my gumption to engage with humanity on a regular basis, plotting a strategy to grow my business.  I've embarked on a journey that's proving to be every bit as challenging as I anticipated.  As in all good challenges, this journey is a multi-layered adventure and, as I had hoped, the path is unfolding organically.   I kind of kicked it into gear by going to the Guild show and my visit with Crim of BeeGlobal - that would be the 'social skills' part of the journey.  Jeff had just built a new display case at their gallery and she could use some help with displays and wouldn't it be nice to put some of my jewels there as well???  - that ties into the 'expanding my creative outlets and getting my jewelry out into this part of the world' part of the journey.

So, last Wednesday, loaded with my display 'bag of tricks' and all the jewelry I had on hand (you might have noticed my Etsy shop is empty - sorry), I drove out to the home and gallery of BeeGlobal in the heavenly Stecoah Valley.  Crim was busy with customers when I first arrived, so that gave me time to wander through their beautiful garden ...

The first task at hand was to come up with some props.  I had brought several kinds of handmade paper for background and, for examples, a couple of props I had made from years past.  I guess I should say that I absolutely love doing gallery displays and designing booths for trade or craft shows.  I very much enjoy hanging shows, but my true passion is putting together jewelry cases and displaying the 3D work.  I got lots of practice while in Port Townsend, first while actually working at Artisans on Taylor and then later, when Teresa bought the gallery, working as a consultant.  PT was loaded with sources for interesting raw materials.  Between the beach and the hardware stores and the super wonderful architectural salvage store, I could gather all kinds of interesting bits to create my tableaux.  It's just so much fun figuring out all the details and bringing it all together into a beautiful and engaging display.

At BeeGlobal, the first thing we had to do was begin to define her display vocabulary.  We started snagging props in the garden, then from the bottle tree, then from inside the gallery.  We had rocks and bottles, a small concrete planter and a very cool Roman style head.  I always start with way too much and then edit, edit, edit.  For the background we chose some soft yellow paper with flecks of mica.  Then, I had this idea to dip the muslin I had brought into their huge vat of melted beeswax and see what would happen.  Turns out lots!  Dip the muslin once, you can still tear it and it makes a lovely textural contrast to the mica paper.  Tear it into smaller sections and dip again and again and, while still warm, it can be folded and shaped into 3D props for holding necklaces, poke holes along the folded edge to hang earrings or posts can be pushed right through, curl strips into rings for bracelets or stand on end for shorter displays.  Cracks or holes are easily repaired with a quick trip back to the melted wax.

Me learning how to work with my new discovery

Overall, it took about 3 or 4 hours for this little case, but well worth our efforts.  The finished product.

And the beautiful Crim - I love how the stained glass looks like a halo.  Appropriate as she is an angel for sure.
I got home early Wednesday evening, made us a quick dinner and got ready for an on-line conference call with local business/life coach Christine Kane - this falls into the 'grow my business' part of the journey.  I had kind of sworn off business coaching and was digging in to follow my own instincts.  But the call was free and I was curious to see if the hour and a half would be purely a marketing effort or if there was any real content.  Turns out there was (well for me) about half an hour of actual usable content.  I'm letting it sit for a bit and plan to go back to my notes in the next day or so, re-listen to the call and see if I pick up anything else.

Then on Saturday, I really ventured out of my comfort zone.  I took a workshop, that's the 'expanding my horizons and being more social' part of the journey.  I'm always on the teaching end of workshops and very, very rarely on the student end.  I'm terribly pigheaded with enormously high standards and I've been wanting to take some kind of workshop for years but golly there's just never anything that quite grabs me and then, as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, there it was - an embroidery sampler workshop with Heather Allen-Swarttouw at ClothFiber Workshop.  Oh and it was just a perfect day.  A lovely space, wonderful women - Heather and eight students and our host, Barbara, a low-key day filled with learning and easy conversation and a couple of new friends.  Wow, for me that's huge.

My sampler book - be nice, it's my first attempt at sewing a book together

One of my sampler pages - why does the blanket stitch make me so happy?

Heather and new friends, Clara Boza and Carol Norby

Here's the really crazy, small world thing ... Clara's been following my blog for a while, even before we moved to Asheville.  I only realized this morning, after looking up links for this post, that I knew who she was in blog-land and that we had exchanged comments on our blogs and that includes since we've been in Asheville.  It's just classic - knowing there was someone in town that had similar interests and might be someone to meet and get to know, but me being the dreadful hermit that I am and absolutely frozen into my solitary ways ........ sheesh.   And Carol, well just check out her site and peruse her gallery of beautifully crafted handbound books.  All in all, it was such a wonderful day.

I guess all of this is a really good example of how things happen when the time is right.  It only took me a year and a half to emerge from my shell and I'm so very glad I did.

And then there's a bit of delicious eye candy - my latest acquisition ... Etcetera etc , by Sibella Court.  I just heard of Sibella from the Australian edition of Man Shops Globe.  I found the website for her shop, The Society Inc and discovered she has a book as well.  The book's not available in the US, so I've been checking Amazon and found a copy for $26 - a total steal!  As I looked up the link for this post, I see the cheapest one available right now is 80 bucks!  Oh, I am really happy that I succumbed to my whim!!!! 

To make it even better, the book is beautifully executed.  The dust jacket is a ribbed brown paper with classic folded edges, has embossed lettering, and, for added dimension, the cover image is glued on.  Feast on a few images...

The cover and the davey board and linen tape construction underneath

There's translucent vellum pages mingled in with incredibly textural images.

Her color palettes are exquisite.  I'm thinking about using one when I re-do my web presence ... yes, I'm getting ready for a full re-vamp!

So, that's where I'll leave you for now.  I really am going to hunker down for a bit.  I'm sprucing up existing samples and designing new work for the wholesale line.  Then I'll be shooting new images and plugging everything into a new print catalog, then the websites.  I'm also mulling over how I might venture into the display consulting or prop building business - that falls into the 'develop multiple streams of income' part of the journey.  I've got lots of ideas and am full of inspiration and just having a big ol' time in general ... how great is that?

The journey continues ...

blessings - kvk