Multiple hats to wear every day

Running a business should be a choreographed dance between the marketing department, the research and development department, upper management, administrative staff and the production department with a general clean up every evening by the janitorial staff.

When you are an artist/crafter, you are (to paraphrase Billy Idol) dancing with yourself.  Too often, you are also dancing in the dark as Bruce Springsteen likes to point out.

Many days I find that I’m starting in on an administrative task (oh, like going online to answer a question about my sales tax certificate) and I get distracted by an email from a vendor with a sale on stuff that I’m almost out of.  Checking on my stock to make sure I really need more (insert just about anything here), I take a quick look a bracelet that I need to finish and the ideal clasp springs to mind.

As I’m sitting at my bench, having wrangled the clasp into the right shape and about to sand away the inevitable tool marks, I get up to wash my hands and decide to check my email, blog and deviantArt site, which reminds me that  I need to finish looking up stuff for a 2 day business license for Los Angeles city. 

Instead, I put more food in the cat’s bowl and clean out the litter box.  The cat thanks me by pulling the bracelet off my workbench and scattering a pile of cut jump rings.  The phone rings.  An hour later, I hang up – it was a friend, a client, my Mom, my spouse, the vet, the doctor’s office reminding me my glasses are ready or possibly all of the above.

Having retrieved as many tiny jump rings as I can find, I decide to vacuum, but realize that it’s 2 pm and I had coffee for breakfast.  One peanut butter and honey sandwich later, I figure out what’s for dinner and head back to the bench to maybe sand out those tool marks.

Having finally finished the clasp and gotten it securely attached to the rescued bracelet, I drop it in the tumbler for a final polish.  I get the vacuuming done, jump online to finish my research and place an order in between cooking dinner and washing up some of the dishes.

The tumbling done, I eat dinner, rescue the bracelet again from the cat and take some photos of both the bracelet and the cat. 

Then  it’s time to see if I got a good photo [of the bracelet – the cat always photographs well 🙂 ], upload the photo to whatever site I think I need to put new photos on and write something about the bracelet.  Sometimes, I need to write a blog post or answer some email, but both the cat and the spouse want to talk to me, maybe even do something like play a game or watch The Big Bang Theory.  I write the blog on commercial breaks and realize pretty soon that it’s about bed time.

I guess the point is that being an artist and trying to have any commercial presence at all means being a lot more than an artist.

Therefore, when someone helps you out with any of your jobs, it’s like getting an early Christmas present.  Especially, for me anyways, when someone helps out with the PR type jobs.

Therefore, a ton of Thank Yous to both Brian Thao Worra and Aaron Vanek. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Aaron Vanek has helped by getting my info onto the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival website [http://hplfilmfestival.com/los-angeles-ca] and in general  answering my questions about the show.  Both he and Brian answer emails really fast, which is so incredibly helpful.  I love getting an email reply after 11pm – let’s me know that I’m not the only person with a crazy schedule!  Aaron’s emails are also very reassuring and I’m looking forward to saying thank you in person. 

Brian Thao Worra is an artist (of the written word persuasion) himself as well as incredibly involved in several aspects of the larger community.  HIs blog is titled The Other Side of the Eye.  http://thaoworra.blogspot.com/   He is posting interviews from the guests (plus being a guest) for the film festival as well as the vendors.  I highly recommend checking out not just the interviews, but also taking a look at his other posts as there is a lot going on that many of us never realize exists and Brian has taken his time and talent to create an opportunity to educate ourselves a bit.  He also shares some very thoughtful poetry.  You need to read it for yourself.  Really. 

 For me, today, it’s back to wearing as many hats as I can before sleep overtakes me.  I’m gonna channel my inner Doc McCoy (Damn it Jim! I’m an artist, not the bookkeeper…) and get all my receipts entered into QuickBooks, then I’m gonna saw out another pair of bat earrings.  Right after I make dinner and brush the cat. And maybe play Minecraft with my spouse.

The Oft Rescued Cuff.

Etched Brass, Stamped Copper. Riveted to leather with brass jump chain mail closure.

Etched Brass, Stamped Copper. Riveted to leather with brass chain mail closure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Folding and folding and folding

Took a break from wire and metal last week, since my hands and wrists need the rest. I also realized that I need to clean up in the workroom, so of course I decided to work in the dining room. Out of sight, off the to do list, right?

Being organized is an ongoing fascination for me; not that I’m terribly organized, it’s a case of needing to be more organized and fighting the process of getting there.

I use things more often if I like them and I really dislike wallets, so I use a small folded paper case to house my business cards, credit cards, club cards, driver’s license and other small, flat items to keep them all together. I call it a Card Keeper.

Card Keepers

I make both the covers and the inside pages and decorate the ribbon ends with small charms from my metalwork or pearls and beads. Then comes the really fun part. These are sitting on a white linen cocktail napkin that is hand hemmed using a drawn thread technique. Yeah, I do that too.

Backs

Stamps and ink! Yay!! Each Card Keeper is it’s own miniature work of art on the inside. I imagine that if someone wanted to, they could use it as a small art journal as well since black ink would show up over the stampings. In any case, keeping that small part of my life organized is now a fun mini art experience instead of a chore.

Inside

I will have about twenty of these Card Keepers at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival September 27 – 29 in San Pedro, CA. The festival looks to be a terrific event again this year (last year I got to see the Coon Trilogy for the first time!!!! I must have been living under a rock before.) and I’m excited to be part of it.

Check it out at :

http://hplfilmfestival.com/los-angeles-ca

Sneak Peek at the U.F.O. I’m working on

Chained 'thul

Pierced copper, box chain in copper.

Collaboration

Talent lies in each of us, often in a dark, unexplored corner. A while ago, I had an artist friend, CAL, over for the weekend and we played with paper, ink and paint all day long.

Now, our talents lie in opposite directions- she is very fluid thinking while I’m more of a straight line. When we work together, I do things like base coating or tracing while she does the interesting things if we work in paint, dye or inks. If we work with fiber or material, she does the cutting out of numerous little pieces and I do the folding, stitching and embroidery. She does the beading, since I get mad when beads fall off.

She wanted me to do some paper marbling and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be any good at it. We were both surprised that as long as I used a color wheel to assist with color choice, I turn out some amazing results!

Pretty soon, every flat surface in my living room and balcony was covered in drying rice paper, copy paper, coffee filters and even manila folders that now had the strangest, yet compelling, images we had seen.

We divvied up the loot and went about our pursuits according to our interests. I used some stamps on some small scraps and incorporated the results into bracelets (riveting paper onto metal is an interesting process), earrings, pendants and whatnot.

A month or two later, we got together again and she showed me what she had been doing with her part of the loot.

Seascape of Dreams -Pen and ink on marbled paper.

Seascape of Dreams -Pen and ink on marbled paper.

Red Tide - pen and ink on marbled paper.

Red Tide – pen and ink on marbled paper.

Framing was now up to me. I’m working on a frame with copper and red brass elements for the Red Tide and a frame with patinaed copper and silver for the Seascape of Dreams.

It’s hard work since each time I get these out for reference, I can get lost just looking at them.

Prints of both Red Tide and Seascape of Dreams are available at DeviantArt under my Hawkston account. Hopefully, the frames for the originals will be done in time for the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival (September 27 – 29) in San Pedro. I’d like to have the originals out for public viewing at the event.

Working on a Chain Gang

Still getting ready for the HP Lovecraft Film Festival at the end of September. Still working on metal/wire projects.

Decided to have some chains for sale and display, so been working on finishing chains in progress (the Gas Mask chain and others) and starting some new ones. Inevitably, I will have the wrong length, metal or thickness of chain for most of the attendees, but I am also putting together an order book that will let a customer order exactly what metal, length, gauge and style of chain they want.

All I have to do is one or two full length pieces of each type for the table and 2″ samples for the book. Oh, and I have to decide what kind of chains to make.

Top to Bottom: Box chain in copper Oval link Spiral chain in sterling silver Round link Spiral chain in copper

Top to Bottom:
Box chain in copper
Oval link Spiral chain in sterling silver
Round link Spiral chain in copper

Chain is AMAZING!!!!! Links are bars, round, square, oval, fused, tensioned, coiled, hammered, polished, patinaed, waxed, drawn, sawn, beaded, composite and any number of other things. Chain is light, heavy, shiny, matte, complicated and simple. Chain is ancient, modern, minimal, elaborate and absolutely necessary for a pendant but not so wanted for a letter.

Chain is for glasses, necklaces, gemstone bearing, a badge of office, decorative, functional, to keep something safe, to keep something imprisoned, to keep something out or in, to raise things up and let things down.

Top to bottom: 3 Pair base Roman chain in copper 2 Pair base single capture Roman chain in copper Foxtail chain in sterling silver 2 Pair base 2 link capture Roman Chain

Top to bottom:
3 Pair base Roman chain in copper
2 Pair base single capture Roman chain in copper
Foxtail chain in sterling silver
2 Pair base 2 link capture Roman Chain

So often, chain is overlooked and the attention is given to another part of the piece, until the chain fails. Then we realize just how important that chain really was.

So that is the kind of thing that I think about as I saw, shape, solder, stretch and join each little link. I’m duplicating an activity that has been done for thousands of years in much the same manner.

Links can be any shape.  The middle is actually one continuous strand of copper in a Viking Weave.

Links can be any shape. The middle is actually one continuous strand of copper in a Viking Weave.

I often wonder if Etruscan chain makers had as much of a mess on their benches as I do. I don’t wonder if they sometimes played with their work in progress; hypnotized by the look and feel of links sliding and turning while catching the light – I just wonder if they did it as much as I do.

Something old and something new

Sometimes the best part of a project is starting it. It’s exciting to think about all the possibilities, but it is less exciting once you are down to the repetitive part.

I like to do small, repetitious things for the most part, but sometimes I’m not so sure of the end result that I start to lag. Then the project sits on my bench taking up room and silently rebuking me every time I move it so that I can work on something new.

A very good example is the gas mask pendant.

Work in progress.  Going to remain in progress until I cut another billion jump rings

Work in progress. Going to remain in progress until I cut another billion jump rings

All I need to do is finish the chain (which means winding some 18 gauge copper wire and sawing about 100 more jump rings). The problem is that I ‘ve been unsure as to what kind of closure I want to use.

An S clasp seems sort of dumb and lately what I really want to do is a small biohazard symbol as a toggle clasp. I’m pretty close, in my mind, to knowing what that toggle would look like, so I’m ready to get back to doing the jump rings.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on a couple of things, mainly this soldered link chain.

22 gauge copper wire.  individually soldered.

22 gauge copper wire. individually soldered.

That’s 22 gauge copper wire, in case you were thinking “Hmnnn… that looks pretty tiny.” The pattern is a single weave Roman Chain. Most Roman Chain is double weave done with a 2 link base, although I also have a 3 link base chain that I need to make end caps and a closure for. Hmnnn… maybe that should be my next post.

In any case, I’m trying to combine one UFO (Un Finished Object) with a new project to keep me working happily as well as clearing my bench.

If that doesn’t work, maybe I’ll bribe myself with ice cream for each UFO completed.