Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Upcoming Events

Presley, Personal Assistant at Heavens to Bessie LLC

I am well on my way to crippling arthritis this holiday season and while I won't like it when it happens I am having a great time now! My studio looks.....well I suppose like a well worked in studio. I look like a drunk, sleep deprived college student trying to study for finals and my assistant is falling a sleep on the job.
But I have been so enjoying the work, especially the custom orders! I do have a couple great events coming up for all of those who have waited to do their Ho Ho Hoing until the week before Christmas.

Saturday December 17th & Sunday December 18th 10:00am-6:00pm-
The Towson Arts Collective has put together an event that I am so happy to participate in called Off the Mall Craft Ball. There will be other local artisans as well as some live music at the Towson Commons Rotunda. Check out the Baltimore Sun article,0,6514573.story

Monday December 19th & Tuesday December 20th 9:00am-2:00pm (closed event)-
I will be at the OPS1 party room next to the cafeteria both days. This is a perfect opportunity for employees to get that last minute shopping done!

You can always visit but time is running out!

Hope to see you all around!

Find me on Facebook "Heavens to Bessie Jewelry" for updates and on Twitter @heavenstobessie

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Goings on....

Well, It's been a busy little bit here in my house. But aside from the ill timed home demolition, recent discovery of Pinterest and the ongoing self improvment missions, I have been crazy busy working away in the studio, filling orders and working on commissions. I have had some really fun ones, these are just a few, but I thought you might like to see them!

"I Like Dirty Men" Necklace.
"I Like Dirty Women" Keychain.


Making 18k gold grain
Attaching grain to ring
Finished product, Recycled Sterling Silver Ring with 18k Gold Grain

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fly Your Geek Flags High

A while ago I wrote about my self assigned self portrait, for which I created a necklace that I wear nearly everyday that says "I love tall brown eyed men and nacho cheese". Between this and my recent openness about reading highlander romance novels I am realizing how fantastic and fun it is to just put it all out there and quite frankly I am inspired by it. It is sort of like post secret except with out the anonymity.

The more I talk to people about this discovery of wearing one's weirdness on the outside, the more people I find that are feeling the exact same way. This past weekend I was lucky enough to participate in the Carroll County Artists Studio Tour, where I showed this silly weirdo geeky jewelry for the first time and I nearly sold out! People seem ready to advertise their quirkiness and I think it is amazing!

Check out some of the new pieces and tell me what you think!

Oh and PS Holiday Sale get 15% off by using coupon code HOLIDAY15 at checkout!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Interview with Melinda Byrd of Byrdcall Studio

Melinda Byrd is an artist I met in the past year and while we haven't known each other forever, I have so much admiration and respect for her and her work. She has been running Byrdcall Studio full time for nearly 13 years now and her business is a beautifully oiled machine. Her quality of work, her dealings with customers, and her passionate connection to her work proves everyday that Melinda chose the right path for herself.

Melinda, a former Park Ranger, carries that love of nature throughout the broad spectrum of her work. While most of her works are carved woodblock and linoleum prints, she paints murals, glassware, floor mats among other things. The breadth of her work is amazing! It seems like there is nothing she is not good at.

The hand printed t-shirts are what Melinda mainly sells at shows, and let me tell you, having helped her at shows from time to time, there are Byrdcall Studio t-shirt collectors out there! Her shirts are awesome! Each one is so special. Whether its cats you like, or dogs, or beer, or the blues, or fishing or you are just an environmentalist....there is a shirt that you will feel was made just for you. That's because it was. Each time Melinda inks up that hand carved woodblock and set it to a shirt, she is spending quality time with it. Then each shirt is hand signed. Each one, a work of art.

Be sure you check out her website at and her etsy store to see all of her amazing work for yourself!

After the excitement of The American Visionary Art Museum's annual Bazaart Holiday Marketplace this past weekend, I had a moment to talk to Melinda about her take on the show. Here is what she had to say...

How many years have you participated in Bazaart?
 This year was my fourth year at AVAM's BazaART and I'm already looking forward to next year.

What do you think sets Bazaart apart from other shows you do? 
Most shows where I set up my hand-printed woodcut shirts are geared to be attractive to "the masses" where beauty and interest are expected but maybe only in predictable "socially acceptable" ways.  The BazaART is different because everyone exhibiting their work has thought out of the box and created art that amazes the visitors.  There is humor, skill, simplicity, and a connection with things that are more meaningful in life--to me personally anyway.  The patrons of the event spend time with each artist knowing that there is something special within each booth and each artist.  Patrons of BazaART really appreciate the work that goes into my shirt-printing...and they buy which is so appreciated.  The BazaART is a wonderful alternative to the Black Friday craze.

 As an artist myself, I know I always have a favorite piece I have made. Do you currently have a favorite piece of your own work? 
While I tend to focus just on the hand-printed shirts when I do a show--so as not to confuse visitors which the multiple art forms I enjoy--my favorite individual pieces are probably not the shirts.  I mean I take the shirts for granted since I wear them every day.  What really excites me is anything new I am learning at the moment.  Like right now, I am fascinated by with pastel paintings I have been working on.  I'm learning new techniques which are very exciting.  I also love each floorcloth I make, but they go off to a new home as soon as they are done, so it is pointless to fall in love with them.

I know you didn't get too long a time to walk around but did you have a favorite vendor from this show? 
I wish I had picked up a card from the birdhouse maker.  A couple created the most beautiful birdhouses in lots of gorgeous colors.  The thing I liked most was that they were made to really go outside and last many years.  Metal work surrounded the cavity holes so gnawing creatures would not destroy them.  They were very artistically created...and did I mention colorful!?

Are there any exciting up and coming events for Byrdcall Studio that you would like to mention?
 Well, yes.  Next weekend, Dec. 3-4 I am participating in the Carroll County Artists Studio Tour both days from 10 AM -5 PM.  This is the first time I've opened my studio doors to the public (without appointments).  There could be a few people at a time or there could be dozens at a time.  I'm making cookies every other night to have enough to offer to my visitors.  The special thing for me is that I do so many artistic creations that few people know about because I don't take them on the road so to speak.  people in my studio will see the effects of a busy artist playing without limitations among papers, canvases, glass,shirts, and lots more.  I'm going to be straighten up all week, but surely the studio will retain its "workshop qualities."  Check out the Studio Tour map .  And check out my web site while you are at it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bazaart Fun!

This blog is a bit longer than usual but think of it, not as a blog, but as a helpful guide to finishing your holiday shopping!

This past weekend the American Visionary Art Museum held their annual Bazaart Holiday Marketplace and my friend and fellow Etsian Melinda Byrd ( )was one of the vendors. When she asked if I could give her a hand I was all in. Not only would I be spending the day with Melinda but I would get to see the show I had heard so much about but never had been to before. I arrived early. Earlier than a lot of the vendors so I had the opportunity to peruse a little bit and chat with a couple of the artists as they started filtering in. I fell in love over and over again that morning with the many amazing things the 50 some vendors created.

One of the first artists I had the opportunity to chat with was a woman named Patti Backer ( Her work is awesome! It  became clear to me in that moment how wrong I was to start my holiday shopping early because I saw several of her pieces that I could have purchased for more than one person on my shopping list. On the back of her post card that I picked up it says simply, "whimsical art" and I can't think of a better word to describe her work. From owls to octopus Ms. Backer has covered it all but in her work its like these animals are in their own little dream worlds. One bird has little white teeth and long almost human like legs, the octopus is floating above a bird nest filled with eggs and a rabbit sits with a tiny owl on its head while carrots with wings fly by at night. But almost all of the animals have these very human like eyes, which makes you connect with them I think. Just do yourself a favor and go visit her shop!

Greenstar Studio's booth, which will be relaunching as MIGHT in January 2012 (, looked as warm and colorful as always! Danamarie Hosler is the artist behind these colorful, fun pieces. I had the pleasure of meeting Danamarie briefly at the Columbia Arts Festival this past summer and she is so sweet. Just like her work. She makes the most huggable little plush creatures and coloring books for kids (OK yes, I want them for myself) along with things like bobby pins, coffee collars and prints. I made a purchase for a friends child but I purchased one of the prints for myself. I love it! If you still have some shopping to do for a child or a big child give her store a visit for sure!

Art Head Studio creates amazing figurative sculptures from vintage tins and cans as well as other salvaged items. Each one has it's own personality, and being a person who gives emotions to inanimate objects, this was easy for me to spot!  They are super awesome and I can't wait to have one in my home. Visit or to check them out for yourself. Her work is really special!

Diane Koss who makes a whole collection of monsters. Plush cupcake monsters, monsters on mugs, onesies and t-shirts. But my favorite thing was her monster hoodies. Cutest thing ever! See and shop her work at

Fuzzy Mug!! Graphic designer Brooke Behnken has created so many items with beautiful items of beloved fuzzy faces. Digital images are printed onto shirts, towels, note cards and notebooks among other things in bright beautiful solid colors. My favorite item of Fuzzy Mug's is the doggie calling cards. Check out this great store! Fuzzy Mug does custom work too so you pet owners out there, keep that in mind!

The Littlest Bean was there with super fun colorful items. Jen Menkhaus is the artist behind The Littlest Bean. She works mainly in felt and yarn. I love, love, love her barrettes and headbands but she has so much more than that. Wreathes, necklaces, business card holders and pin cushions! She has something for anyone who loves color! Check her out at

All in all Bazaart was an incredible event. It was super busy from the time the show opened at 10am to 2 or 3 pm. The vendors were amazing but the shoppers were crazy cool. They were so much fun and so eager to hear about the artists' processes and to SHOP! I can say, a lot of folks out there will be getting some great hand crafted items this Christmas. There was an over all energy to this show, unlike any show I have been to. I have my fingers, toes, legs....everything crossed that next year I will be participating as a vendor.

I wish I could write about each and every talented vendor here but there were simply too many. But please, do yourself a favor and visit these stores' links. Especially if you didn't make it out for this crazy event. If you are still working on your holiday shopping, try keeping it local. I am sure I can speak on behalf of all the artists mentioned above when I saw we all appreciate it!

Now you've got my two cents on Bazaart, but read on for a brief interview I did with Melinda Byrd of Byrdcall Studio to hear the perspective of one of is outstanding vendors!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Things I am thankful for.

It is the eve of Thanksgiving and I am sitting here, a slave to social media marketing and I decided to turn all that loathing into a list of all (OK just a handful...I am Thankful for a lot) that I am Thankful for. So here they no specific order. Some are huge, some are just the small things that make life a little sweeter.

1. I am thankful for hair dye. Being a red head is part of my identity but the sad truth is, I am not one. I am boring brown at best with a whole lot of grey happening up there, however they grey I am actually thankful for. Perhaps this seems strange but I feel it reminds me I've done some living, I've seen some things, I've been broken and I have healed and I am not as young as so many people think I am.

2. I am thankful for coffee. Strong coffee. No narrative needed here.

3. Spell check...for I have already used it 100 times today. I'm sure I still have managed to spell something wrong along the way. Perhaps I will next be thankful for you kindly ignoring my errors.

4. Romance Novels about highlanders. They are trashy lady porn and I love them!

5. Music. The way hearing a song can take you back to a time, a place or even a person is breathtaking.

6. Laughter...causing it and giving it. Both are beautiful.

7. Jane Austin, I swear reading her books has caused me to value things in my life differently and I am better for it.

8. For the years of my life I spent dancing. I may still move a bit when I am alone but it is not the same as the freedom, the company and mentors I found while being in school for it. It has shaped me. I miss it every day but am eternally thankful for the time I had and I will never forget what it felt like to claim space in that way.

9. Every friend that I have. Each one so special. Each one offering something so different to the world. They give me gifts I hope to God I can begin repay over time.

10. My husband. He is supportive. He mows the grass. He does the laundry and more importantly he deals with my crazy day after day and still comes back home.

11. My mother. Who would I be with out you letting me grow into my own person? Who would I be with out every lesson you ever taught me about...well everything? I am thankful. More thankful than I can say for everything you are and everything you have ever done.

12. My whole crazy, freaky, weird, funny, loving family. Each and everyone of them are beyond amazing. I am thankful I have you all and I am very thankful we all actually like one another. That seems to be quite rare in this world.

13. The March of Dimes and the amazing staff and University of Maryland Medical Center. Without them two very important members of my family would not be here. Jayden and Gage my nephews, born 4 months early are miracles and touch everyone they meet with their drive, will and determination to be here and LIVE!

14. Calendars and address know the kinds filled with paper that you write on with pens and pencils. Remember those? Well I love them. I love actually writing stuff down. I am thankful that companies still make these simple things in our digital world. I feel like a minority but I don't care. I love the act of writing.

15. The postal service....the one that handles mail, not the band, though I am thankful for them too. I love to send letters. I love getting letters. I am thankful that someone, still does the work in between.

OK....I could keep going but if you made it this far, surely you are bored to tears. But maybe you will be thinking of the things, both big and small that you are thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Upcoming Events

As the holidays near, my schedule is filling up with some very exciting events. A few of them are right around the corner. First up is The American Visionary Art Museum's annual BazaArt on Saturday November 26th from 10am-5pm ( ) I will be there supporting an amazing artist and great friend Melinda Byrd. Her work is incredible, ranging from oil paintings, to Framed woodcut prints, to amazing hand printed t-shirts. Her mediums may vary but her subject matter remains mainly nature with few other joyous images mixed in. I have purchased her shirts for friends in the past and they have been well loved. Check out her etsy store at and her website at Melinda is such a talented artist! So come down to BazaArt and check her out along many other amazing artists! Admission is free too :-)

Next up on the calendar comes Cyber Monday! I'm diving right into this American Shopping Tradition and giving you all a coupon code to SAVE 30% by entering Nov28 at checkout. Yeah you read that correctly. For 24 hours save 30%! Merry Christmas to you from me! All week I will be posting new pieces many of them are one of a kinds so be sure to check back often.

After that comes the very exciting Carroll County Artists Tour December 3-4th 10am-5pm. I will be at the home/studios of Sarah Abel-DeLuca and Stephen DeLuca, two artists with crazy talent. They both will be exhibiting and selling work throughout their beautiful home and were so kind to ask me to come and participate. I will be there both days with my a lot of my NEW pieces that I have been working on as well as writing about. For more information on this fabulous weekend long show check out If you are making a point to check out the studio tour (which you should) go to visit Melinda too, who is also participating in this great event. More information for her stop can be found at

Well folks I think that is enough to keep you all busy for the next couple of weeks so I hope to see you all around. Please remember that handcrafted items are treasured forever. What better way to make the holidays brighter than supporting local art and local businesses.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Commision fun!

I got a commission a week or so ago for a sterling silver feather pendant. I was very excited because I love working with my saw. It seems the more detail needed to be cut the better for me. I did however find myself at that scary midway point where I was afraid to proceed. I loved the basic cut out but more detail was wanted so I hesitantly began after many drawings. I have to say, I am pretty happy with the results!

 About a month ago I received a lovely email from a woman who bought one of my tree pendants from a shop in Evansville Indiana. She told me about how it reminded her of a tree at her family's home and it made my day. She even sent me a picture of her wearing the necklace. What a huge complement!

This feather reminded me very much of those tree pendants so between this commission and that fantastic email I decided to create a tree for the first time in years.

It ended up being a frustrating day in the studio between paper work and broken saw blades but all in all I am excited about  the final product!

The holidays are on there way so expect more fun pieces like these to make their way to my up coming shows.

November 5th  my Annual Fall Party will be held in Mt. Washington MD from 2-4pm. Light bites and great company. Please email for the details.

December 3-4 I will be at the home of fellow artists Sarah Abel-DeLuca and Steven DeLuca taking part in the Carol County Artist Tour. Their home is open from 10am-5pm. My work will be there the whole time but I personally will be there from 1pm-5pm. There will be plenty to see! Details can be found at

December 3-4 I will also be at Greetings and Readings in Hunt Valley participating in their First Floor Arts program. I will be there from 9am to 12pm but my work will be there in the capable hands of an assistant from 12pm until 6pm.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Self portraits

Until recently I was feeling stuck in the studio. I was in a phase where I wanted desperately to make something brand new. I started thinking back to the days of art school where it was much harder to get stuck because you always had a new assignment ahead of you. I decided to play the part of my own professor and give myself an assignment. I thought immediately of the self-portrait. Of course this has been assigned and tackled in almost every art class I have ever had but never once did I ever have to to a self portrait in metal, and definitely not in jewelry. As soon as I challenged myself with this new project the familiar internal dialog began. How would I go about this? What techniques would I utilize? Would this be something I did to simply fulfill the assignment or would this be something that I would hold dear? Something I would wear?

I decided immediately to write out my self portrait. No drawing, no sketching. Just the words that make up who I am. This is the full version I came up with.


Former dancer who mourns the loss of movement and suffers terribly from wanderlust. fascinated by the sea, the capabilities of the human body and late night infomercials. Sings in the shower. In love with a Mr. fitzwilliam Darcy, so sure he smells of England and lavender. Obsessed with red hair dye, impractical shoes and the eternal quest for the perfect bra. Troubled sleeper yet still a morning person, though strong coffee is a necessity. Loves cucumbers, dogs, Elvis, archery, and kisses for no reason. Curses to much and drives too fast...always feeling late and always arriving 15 min early. Needs change for survival. Finds most things funny, feeling most particularly the real joys in life like running in the rain. Lives in sunglasses and with the hope that I will die unafraid.

Now, obviously this is impossible to wear around ones neck so editing was key. I found it tough to edit my life so I decided to break it apart instead, mixing the semi-serious with the totally ridiculous. These pieces may ring true for a lot of folks which I find so fun. Already I have sold one that said simply "unafraid" and I hope it makes her feel that way.

I found this project so interesting because it brought something to my attention that I can't believe I never noticed before. My whole creative life, I have used words in whatever it was I created. I wrote prolifically when I was younger and used it in everthing I did, whether it was a collaboration with another artist, or a multi media piece I was doing for fun. Even in dance I choreographed a whole piece set to nothing but my dancers reading my favorite childhood story and a poem I had written. How is it that I lost this over the years. Something that was so clearly important in everthing I did. This was a welcomed rediscovery for me.

What I really learned from this is sometimes you need to really stop and make something for yourself. Sometimes you need to be your own professor, you need to challenge yourself. You never know what can come out if it. Perhaps it will just clear your head. Perhaps it will make you fall in love with what you do all over again. Perhaps it will snowball into a new product line. The point is, there is nothing wrong with taking time to make art for yourself!!
"I love tall brown eyed men & nacho cheese"
-Sterling silver with gold plated accents

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Our Greatest Assets

Today was a fabulous day! I knew waking up today that I would be having company over, so I got out of bed extra early and cleaned up the disaster area which was my studio/office and the hair ball that was the rest of my house. I just love a clean house, but when I am in the midst of a busy streak, like I am right now, cleaning becomes a very low priority. My entire desk was nothing but a mess of stones, wire and plastic bags and I would just sit hunched over working on my lap, cursing because I kept dropping everything or sitting on my tools. But I just couldn't bear to spend the 15 it would have taken to just put things away. Some call this laziness, I call it an uncanny knack to focus solely on work and lunch. Naturally I would never let the outside world see that I am such a dirt ball so I clean for company. Cleaning for company is the best! I love entertaining as much as the bi-product which is the drive  and ability to clean your whole house in under an hour!

My reward was the company of two fellow artists. Talking to them was a treat that I do not often get. This little community I have found myself in is something I value so much! I have been working as a jewelry designer and a small business owner now for about 5 years, full time for the last two years solid, and in doing that I have so longed for the camaraderie that I have now found.

This past fall I had the opportunity to go back to the University of Evansville to speak to the senior art students.  I told them all, be confident in what you do and how you work because when you graduate, your artistic sounding board is essentially gone. It is something I wish someone told me when I was approaching ex-art studenthood (like adulthood...but not quite). It came as such a shock to me when it finally dawned on me that days were spent alone in one room with no one to talk to other than my dog...who is great to talk to but is not as skilled on giving feedback.

The full time, self employed artist is perhaps not as rare of a breed as it once was thanks to the surge of people coveting all that is handcrafted, but we do work in special circumstances that others do not. I was told by one of my artist friends this morning that when she was in art school artists were so competitive with one another. This, I am sure, is still very true in many ways and places but you can find people out there who are there to support you and you should find joy in supporting those artists right back. I am going to say this...I am going to put this out there for anyone who has perhaps not realized it yet, but for us artists.......OUR GREATEST ASSETS ARE EACH OTHER!

Thank you Melinda ( ) and Sarah ( for the inspiration, conversation and coffee talk this morning.

Friday, April 8, 2011

One Woman Show

I have spoken before about being a one woman show. Until recently I was simply musing on the challenges of being a working artist, now I write seeking support. For those out there running their own businesses perhaps you know the feeling.

Finding balance it not always easy. I am a jewelry designer. I am an accountant. I am a marketing director. I am in Public Relations and sales. I am a financial planner. I am a buyer. I am both boss and employee. I am a master of social networking and technology......ok with that I am a novice at best. I am simply a one woman show and I may be in need of a nap.

How does one find the time to do all of this in one day? I am at the computer for hours taking care of the business side of things while my bench sits waiting for me to come and create. I can't possible do one without the other but it just seems there are not enough hours in the day to do everything.

I feel unbalanced today. Even as I write this my hands are itching to use my tools, and to play with metal and fire. My brain is tired and my task list is still far from complete. If you are a one person show like myself, do you ever have days like this??

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wedded Bliss and NYC

I had mentioned in my last post about the wedding my husband and I attended in St. Augustine Florida. It was an Etsy lover's dream! Everything was handmade, if not by the artists about to get married, then by crafters of the Etsy community, including yours truly!

When the bride asked me to create something for her ladies to wear I knew I had to do something very special. This was not your typical wedding as the groom's men were wearing there sleeves rolled up, suspenders and floral bow ties, and the ladies were wearing navy blue dresses with cowboy/biker boots.

I decided to create a cuff for her bride's maids to wear. I created a 1" thick cuff frame from 16 gauge sterling silver and then did my signature wire work technique to create the actual cuff. I learned alot in making these and each one became better than the most new designs generally go. I am so pleased with these. They are now a feature in my etsy shop. Take a look! (

Just when I thought I was done traveling, a surprise opportunity to go to New York came up and I pounced on it. There were many reasons as to why I would drag my well traveled body onto a bus. Reason #1...I don't grow weary from travel, I live for it.  Reason#2...I love, love, love New York. This is not a crush, it is true love. Reason#3...Too many friends to count live there and I haven't seen many of them in years, if not a solid decade. And Reason#4...the most important of all of them was to see He Who Laughs, Live.

About 10 years ago, I was sitting in American history class, bored out of my mind. Lucky for me I was sitting in front of one of the most entertaining people of my acquaintance. A boy named Isaac. We passed the time passing notes back and forth and it was something I looked forward to each B day.

We attended a magnet school for the arts. While I was there dancing, Isaac was there for writing. I used to go to the coffee houses that the literary department would put on and was always mesmerized by my friend's talent. To say we haven't seen each other in almost 10 years seems totally crazy, but it is true. Thanks to facebook I feel like we haven't lost touch. We have messaged each other from time to time. I'm still up to date on what he is up to, and what he is up to is totally spectacular.

In 2008 Isaac, started his blog . His posts are beautifully written, brutally honest, often times poignant and laugh out loud funny. He Who Laughs is so different from what you would consider the normal blog. His posts are written as mini plays, sketches really. They cover the day to day life in New York, love, the pursuit of Jake Gyllenhaal, and of course one of the loves of my life...Starbucks. He writes inanimate objects and emotions as characters in his plays that he himself interacts with, which is a much more interesting way of writing about self discovery than anything I could ever write or have ever read.

He Who Laughs, Live had a very small cast of 6 and Isaac, who served appropriately as the narrator. The actors performed the scenes from Isaac's life and mind and the audience along for the ride. What a ride it was. He and the amazing cast took us all from tear jerking laughter to sober reality, all the while delivering jaw dropping honesty. The whole thing was beautiful.

About my friend Isaac there are many things I admire, but what I admire most, above all else, is his bravery. Not everyone can lay it all out there for all to read, see and experience as he does. His writing brings humor to things in life which often times are not so humorous. I would imagine that brings hope to some, and I know it brings joy many and I for one am thankful for his talent and for him.

Seeing him again after all these years was so awesome. I felt like writing him a little note and passing it to him quietly for old time sake but I couldn't juggle my glass of wine, pen and paper.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Recent Happenings

March is coming to a close and I can honestly say that it has been one of the busiest months of my life! I have been traveling almost every week and "businessing" the rest of the time.

I went to Las Vegas as a surprise trip for my sister's 30th birthday (Happy Birthday Brooke!) I have never been there before and had an absolute blast! Then my husband returned from overseas. He was gone for 5 weeks or so this time. Me and Presley (our 5 year old puggle) are so so happy to have him home. We then left immediately for Florida for a wedding of our amazing friends Evan and Jess. (More on that later!) Somehow in between all of that traveling I still managed to complete a wholesale order for Azura Clothing in Rehoboth Beach DE (, take a small torch class with the Gem Cutters Guild of Baltimore, and attend my very first Baltimore Etsy Street Team meeting ( I am about ready for a nap but there is no time!

The small torch class I took with the Gem Cutters Guild was awesome. I signed up for the class to familiarize myself with the small torch, but I was a bit worried when class began as it seemed to be geared towards those who had never soldered at all before. My fears were eased as everyone began working on their own projects and I just kind of got into the groove and did my own thing. I was pleasantly surprised to figure out that the butane torch suits my needs perfectly and can do pretty much all that the acetylene tank can do. I am bringing fire home and to my work. I can't wait!

The Baltimore Etsy Team Meeting was great. It was so awesome to finally get to meet some of the people who's etsy stores I have been admiring since joining the team. It is also nice to have a community of artists to talk to. The solitary life of studio work is tough sometimes. It is great to have the opportunity to talk to people who are in the same boat as you. Some of the new members brought some of their creations to the meeting and can I just say, I am amongst some fantastic talent! Go B.E.S.T!

That is all for tonight but stay tuned for more on the amazing wedding and the jewelry I created for it!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Playing With Fire Part II

Last time I wrote I spoke a little about the time I was spending in the metals studio on the campus of The University of Evansville. I mentioned very little as to what I was doing in there, other than the fun and enlightening conversations between me and my former professor. My hours spent in that studio over the last couple weeks were all about discovery....and perhaps a bit of re-discovery.

While in school I had all the equipment needed to solder, proper ventilation, tanks, pickle and all the forms and and hammers I could imagine. I sadly, took all of this for granted. Since graduating in 2005, I have been working in cold connections, which means simply, finding ways to connect metal with out soldering. I have been happy to work this way, in fact I felt that it perhaps made me a bit more creative when it came to designing with out immediately reverting to soldering. I felt, and still feel, that working in cold connections was like problem solving.

It has been in the last year or so that I have been seeking growth and change in my work. I have sketch books filled with designs I have had rolling around my head for years now with no way of bringing these to light with out the use of fire. So why, you may ask, did I not just purchase the equipment necessary to work this way. The answer is really not very interesting. I have felt uncomfortable having tanks in my house, I have no ventilation and it had been so long since I have worked this way, would I even remember how to do it.

Turns out, playing with fire is like riding a bike. I am not sure you really forget. As soon as I heard the "pop" of the torch as I lit it, I felt right at home all over again. Back in college, I was working on very "clean" pieces with bezel set stones and quite frankly, that work was not for me. It is still not. I am just not a precise enough person to work that way. This time, I was determined to work in a whole new way. I came to the studio with a large jar of sterling scrap. This jar contained every scrap of sterling I have created since 2003. I went into the studio with one goal in mind.....up-cycle these scraps.

I carved various shapes into charcoal blocks and laid my scrap in the fresh grooves and carefully, heated that metal until it was molten but not liquid and worked it around with my pick until I was pleased with the shape and texture of it. I couldn't stop. I couldn't get enough. I am not yet sure where I am going with this technique but I am in love. I would leave the studio feeling sunburned, my hands red and dry from the heat, but I was instantly hooked.

It reminded me a lot of when I started taking ceramics. I began taking the required course my Junior year of college, after I began taking painting and after I began taking metals/jewelry courses. The biggest problems I had in both classes was my fear of messing up, my fear of the blank canvas, my fear of marring that sheet of metal, my fear of not being good enough. Ceramics changed all that for me for the better. The very process of using scrap clay to make new clay to throw a bowl only to have it flop and send it right back to the scrap clay bin, I found very freeing. In going through these steps day after day in the ceramics studio I learned the very important lesson of letting go. Every time I would throw a bowl and it would flop, instead of getting upset, I would just smile and remind myself 'it is just dirt'. This philosophy stayed with me in my painting studio where I began painting on old canvases. Painting on surfaces that were already messy, alleviated my fear of making a mess. I stopped cleaning my brushes while painting, I allowed my colors to get muddy sometimes, and I became a better painter for it.

Somehow, even though I realized this discovery, it never made its way into the metals studio with me, until these past weeks. Up-cycling these silver scraps was my way of making new clay into a new bowl. It was fascinating and addicting.

It just goes to show that as artists, discovery is the ongoing theme of our lives. Whether its self discovery, the discovery of a new process or a new material, this evolution is ever present. It is a good thing I love change!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Playing with fire.

So after a 12 hour drive through terrible weather yesterday I arrived in Evansville Indiana, the stomping grounds of my college days. I have maintained several precious friendships with people in the area after moving to Baltimore and I come back as often as I can to see my "adopted family" as I like to call them.

Today I spent time in the metal studio at the University of Evansville with my former pprofessor Francis. I can't tell you, by the way, how great it is to get out of your own creative space for a little bit and enter another. Just being around the other tools and equipment alone makes the creative juices start flowing, but being there with Francis I consider a huge bonus.

I don't think we have worked side by side in the studio since before I graduated from college, but we have had many phone calls over the years and chats over coffee when I am in town. Francis and I  now have a reciprocity to our relationship that we obviously didn't have when I was her student. She is, and will always be, so much more knowledgeable than me when it comes to metalsmithing and I will continue to come to her for guidance for as long as she is willing to give it to me. In turn, running Heavens to Bessie has been my job for the last 5 years, which by no means makes me an expert, but there are things that she can now pick my brain about. Francis has just begun her business ( and it is amazing! Her website is awesome and her work in incredible. It is so amazing to have someone to talk to about things we have discovered both in the studio and in business, like what works, what doesn't and sometime we come up with ideas or solutions to problems together. The give and take is stellar and so valued!

My Heavens to Bessie energy has been so high lately but being in the studio with such a great artist, mentor and friend for a few hours has me super charged. I played with fire today and realized how much I have missed the feeling of the torch in my hand and can't wait to play again tomorrow.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Entering the world of Blogs.

Why I am so hesitant to enter the world of technology, I am not quite sure. Perhaps it is because I feel uncomfortable entering a world that I don't understand. But don't we all live in a world we don't understand in one way or another. As people there is much we don't understand about this earth that we borrow time from. Maybe there are many out there lucky enough to choose their life's path or there career and it all makes sense to them. All I know is that from what I understand of the life of a working artist, there is quite a bit that may not come as naturally as creating. With out a doubt we artists are thrown into the business arena and many times we are clueless.

Well, I would like to say that I was as resistant to the business world as I am the technological world, but I can not. When I was about 9 I remember deciding I wanted a garden. I began by taking the sales papers and circling all the items I would need, shovels, seeds etc., adding up the costs to  find out how much I would need. To fund the project I went and dragged all my old toys and books to the front lawn and sold them. I made my money, bought my supplies, and planted my garden. Now it turns out that our yard was mostly clay so nothing grew, but the concept of the project I will never forget. In high school I started my own business. I sold earrings that I had made. I made my own logo, business cards and packaging and sold to everyone I knew. A few months after college graduation opened an art gallery and began Heavens to Bessie all at the same time. So you can see I've been somewhat business minded and entrepreneurial for most of my life.

But those days are long gone. It is now 2011. Business is no longer simply advertising, cost of good, profit etc.. It now encompasses the all intimidating technological realm. And I find myself nervous feeling out of place, like the new kid in school. But here it goes, the swan dive! A website ( that should be done any day now), an online Etsy store ( ), and now the blogosphere.

Do I have anything to say really worth reading? I really don't know. I am just an artist making her way through this crazy world, but now I will be recording my discoveries along the way for anyone to read. Stay tuned for the fabulous follies I will with out a doubt have as I attempt to activate the other side of my brain.