Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In Honour

A month ago today, my dear friend Sonya Scott unexpectedly took leave of this world. She had only been in my life for a handful of years, but she had an enormous impact. Not only that, but she was one of the only women I have met who I have instantly connected with and felt immediately close to. Being with her felt like being at home.

Sonya and I met over facebook--she contacted me in early 2010 to invite me to be in a group exhibition in Sydney, Australia (she was from Australia, which definitely factored into our connection). The exhibition was titled Reality Vs. Illusion and challenged me to flex my conceptual muscles and work with something I'd been wanting to explore for a while--my dreams. Over the months from invitation to the opening of the exhibition, we corresponded regularly, and continued to do so after the exhibition was over. I believe in the package that I sent over with my pieces, I included a pair of my Flower Earrings, as a little "thank you." Months later, I received a package from Sonya containing a gorgeous neckpiece from her Marked exhibition at Gaffa--I was stunned! Not only by the beauty of this piece, but because she had made interconnected links out of chalk. Woah.

That was the thing about Sonya. She was this beautiful, fiery little redhead who was never afraid to try something new, and always did so with this forward momentum. She was a force to be reckoned with, truly. She was proud of her Sydney roots and held on to the edginess that she loved about that place. She was a woman of vision, filling her life with creative people and projects. In Sydney, she joined up with &Company, as well as Gaffa Gallery. She taught, helped create collaborative maker spaces, and created exquisite work of her own that always left you in wonder at how it was made and the beauty and perfection of each detail.

When Sonya emailed me a while ago to say that she would be coming to the States, I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to finally meet this girl in person! And when we finally did meet, my heart filled with even more love for her than before. We would skype while she was in Seattle, meet up when we could (us visiting there, or she and her partner visiting here), and then skype more when she was in Australia. I was doubly excited when she fell in love with her long-time friend Gabe, who she had been staying with in Seattle, and decided to move to the States. Gabe and my husband got along wildly and I was so excited to have this beautiful person in my life for longer.

The last time I saw Sonya was a few days before she took her own life. She and her husband came to Portland for the day--he worked and she and I spent the day together. We met up for coffee, chatted and schemed. We were working on a collaboration for an exhibition called Co:operation Garnish and had been sharing a notebook of ideas--I would do some ideation, then send it to her, and vice versa. So we were finally able to brainstorm together--about salt, roman influences, trade, neckpieces, etc. We perused Powell's Books and bought matching books on salt, and explored the art area as well. Then had a wonderful lunch at Dick's Kitchen, where she laughed at the "American" portion of gluten-free carrot cake. "I thought I was going to get a Sydney portion!"

We walked up to The Meadow on NW 23rd while talking about the differences between Australian and American architecture. "What's with all the wood houses? You guys are insane! They'll just burn up!" I joked that all the brick houses in Australia look alike (well, in Adelaide at least). At The Meadow we explored the different salts, investigating their structure, crystal size, location, and how they were colored. We tasted vanilla salt, which had many layers of flavor, and gawked at all the labels on the wall of chocolate. Then, we hopped next door to Barista, ordered some tea (chai for her, jasmine for me), and sat outside for more brainstorming. It started raining at one point, which neither of us were prepared for clothing-wise, but we stayed. There was enough tree cover to shield us from too much rain, allowing us to just watch and listen and laugh a bit at how we managed to stay dry.

I will always cherish that day. There are stories from it that catch me off guard now. I'll see something in passing and be transported back to those conversations. As much as my heart has been absolutely shattered by losing Sonya, I try to remember the gifts she gave me. The gift of more critical thought in my work and in my practice. The gift of running (she roped us into a 5K earlier this summer, which pushed me to train like never before). A wonderful friendship with her husband, Gabe. The gift of abundant connections, new perspectives, and focus.

I will be continuing with our project. I am working through the research, which is fascinating and painful at the same time. The notebook has gone missing, so I have written down every little detail I can remember of those conversations. My hope is to live up to her standards, her expectations--her drive and innovation.

There are so many more words I could say, and yet at times it feels there will never be enough.
To lose someone as incredible as Sonya is a hard loss to navigate. And yet, it is all one can do.

I pray that somewhere, she knew how much she was loved, and find peace knowing that now she is finally free from the pain she was in. And each day, I tell me husband how much I love him, and hold him a little closer. I hug my friends a little tighter. And I reach out a little more.

Peace be with you, dear friend. You are always in my heart.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A space of my own

Here she is--a space of my own. The studio is almost all completely set up, and it has felt so good to sit in there, doing inane things like filing and sanding. As always, even on the worst of days, my studio can calm all of my fears and hurts, taking me into a completely different state of mind. Everything just falls away. It's just me and what I'm making.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Turning points

Perhaps it is the changing seasons, but maybe it is something more. I can feel things changing within me.

I haven't been journaling, although I know I should. Time has been a precious thing around these parts lately.

Summer has wrapped up nicely. School has started again (not for me--yay!!) and it's been fun seeing all the new students, as well as returning ones. There have still been adventures--archery, hiking, ventures to the coast (on what was a 90+ degree day in Portland...and it was 20 degrees lower than predicted at the coast). September will be full of birthdays, weddings, and more adventures. I'm definitely looking forward to the slower seasons of fall and winter.

The studio is coming along, slowly. Between working two jobs, working out at the gym, and housesitting, I have rarely seen the inside of it. Yesterday was going to be a big push to get it finished, but we were waylayed by having to take our Siamese cat, Sammy, to the ER Vet. We spent 6 hours there. Today is full of two more vet visits, including one to an internal specialist.  Admittedly, I am struggling to maintain my normal levels of positivity while watching my cat suffer.

In other news, I have been thinking more about my business lately, and all the little things that make it tick. Rather, WILL make it tick. Which social media venues to concentrate on, redesigning my website/blog/etsy, etc. Retailers to pursue, designs, etc. Dave suggested putting wood laminate flooring down in the new studio and for half of yesterday, it was all I could think about. But, I'll be quite happy to just clean and seal the concrete floor and get set up again. Waiting to get set up is giving me the itchies to get working again!

Additionally, I have been thinking about salt. I am pairing up with a good friend (and metalsmith) to collaborate on a piece for Co:Operation Garnish--we are very excited!

More soon!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Paint it white

Summer is winding down here, and with those changes also come new beginnings. Specifically, a new studio for me! We are lucky enough to live in a 4-plex that has studios in the converted garages--one of which I have taken over and am in the process of painting. Admittedly, it's been a long process trying to fit painting in between two jobs, managing apartments, and working out so much. We finally have the coat of primer up and soon will start on the wall color--a beautiful white.

When I first walked into this studio, it was all plywood walls. My hopes of moving in right away were dashed--I knew immediately I needed to make this space my own and make it beautiful. Painting it white cleanses the surface, creates a canvas to build upon. Creates light.

(And living in Oregon, light becomes extremely important come Fall, Winter, and Spring.)

DW has been helping out a lot--caulking cracks and gaps, patching and sanding, installing base trim, and painting. I am so blessed to have such a supportive husband and partner--hopefully he will join me in the studio, working on his own projects.

After we finish painting the walls, I can move my bench in (and paint it before it's in its final place), as well as my hydraulic press, stump, and soldering station. I can't wait to get back to work again!

Thank you for reading.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Other peoples' houses

If you know me well, you know that I am a Jill of All Trades.
Metalsmith, woodworker, nanny, house-sitter, pet-sitter, studio manager.
It all started when I returned to the U.S. from Australia and came back to school. I started nannying, thinking it would be a temporary gig (9 years later....), and slowly families started asking me to watch their pets and homes.

Staying in someone else's home is always a bit funny. There are quirks in each one. Kitchens without salt. Freezers without ice. Fridges without hot sauce (?!). Finding dishes, pots and pans, and cooking utensils can be an adventure. And there are plenty of weird noises at night.

This week I am staying with two adorable, fluffy black and white cats named Fig and Quince. They are lovely boys. The house is quiet and comfortable, with a HUGE back yard and lots of light. As much as I miss my husband and kitties, I love these weeks. I need these times to just be. Here, I cook for myself. I clean up after only myself. I boil eggs, make too many cups of tea, randomly bake things like rhubarb peach cobbler. I catch up on emails, phone calls, and books.

I sit in quiet.
I read.
I don't speak a word.

All I can hear is the kitten boys snoring and the whirring of the central air system.

Right now, this is bliss.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Inspiration from many corners

Amy Tavern | We Walk on the Same Ground | Image by Hank Drew

Inspiration comes to me from many corners of my life. I was recently tagged in a 'blog tour' by Amy Tavern, a friend and fellow metalsmith. I have admired Amy's work for many years--not only the end products themselves, but the process that she works through to get there. In more recent years, Amy has branched out in her use of materials and media, bringing her work and concepts to new levels. She recently completed a journey to northern Europe and residency in Iceland.

You can find her blog here and her blog tour post here.

Now, onto a few more blogs that I turn to for inspiration. As I said, inspiration comes to me from many corners. The blogs I read generally have little to do with my own artistic practice--I read them because they bring me joy or beg me to be more introspective with myself. I learn from them. I find comfort in them.

Jillian Lukiwski | White Sands National Monument

Jillian Lukiwski is a fellow metalsmith (The Noisy Plume) and friend who I have been in touch with for a few years now. Not only do I love Jillian's use of materials and imagery in her metalwork, but in her photography as well. I find so much vibrancy in her words and images--I often save time just to sit and soak it in. If we could all live life the way this firecracker does, the world would be a very different place.

You can find her blog here.

Brittany Chavez | The Hospital Street

Brittany Chavez is a friend from Oregon College of Art and Craft that I met a few years ago. One thing I love about Brittany is her openness. She is a photographer and writer and has this spectacular talent of being able to make the mundane beautiful. Her writing is honest and vulnerable, often exposing things that people won't normally talk openly about. It is like a breath of fresh air.

You can find her blog here.

Sonya Scott | Dripstone

Sonya Scott is an incredible metalsmith and designer from Australia. In 2010, she curated a show called Reality Vs. Illusion for which I made three lockets. Sonya has an incredible design sense, and her work is subtle and effective. Her most recent exhibition work, Dripstone, tackled personal subjects beautifully and I cannot wait to see what she creates next.

You can find her blog here.

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Real Life (A Little Glimpse)

Real life has been filled with many things...

Friends, who have barbecues, house warming parties, and surprise me multiple times for my birthday.

Gardening, where I find myself in constant battle with rose bushes, and hoping that my baby veggies will grow big and strong.

Adventures with my hubby where we play with horses or climb up hills to the almost-tippy-top.

Running, yoga, and the gym (need I say more? All that thesis energy has to have somewhere to go!)

And work, which is never just one simple job for me but usually the layering of 2-3 different jobs. I prefer to think about the more fun things.

Soon, there will be studio time added into this mix. I don't know how, but it will be.

You can find more here.