Monday, December 28, 2009

Doodles and Dreams

A frequent question we are asked is, "Where do you get your inspiration?"

Anywhere! After almost back-to-back viewings of "Avatar"... I have walked away with TONS of ideas! We have a vine growing around our front porch that has these spiral tendrils...I've made lots of spiral tendrils out of wire! Leaves are another favorite of mine...plenty of those blowing around this time of year! I look at a lot of pictures on line. I like to do a google search on different pendant images. I keep my favorite ones...I don't copy those pieces, I just study them for my own's an example from my notebook...

Another source of ideas are from my own doodles...mostly done during meetings at work! (I'm listening...really!!!)

Another dreams! In the image below, there is a sketch of a broken wine glass with wine flowing out of the break...the wine becoming a chrysanthemum on top of a snake spiraling around the wine glass. I drew that sketch the next day at work...along with some other doodles. The wine glass/snake was actually a tattoo on a woman's cheek in my dream. Don't know what any of that means...but the image was so powerful that it stayed with me and even translated well to paper! (sketching is NOT my strongest skill)

Last night I was having another dream. In the dream I was opening a jewelry box to show a buyer an amazing piece I had made. In the dream I had the awareness that this piece was outstanding and demanded a very high price. I was opening the box for the buyer to see it one more time before it was sealed for the recipient. As I moved the lid of the box to the side, I caught a glimpse of the silver with a spiral...and then...

one of my cats FREAKED OUT AND SCAMPERED ACROSS THE BED...waking me up before I could see the entire piece.


The frustration of not seeing the entire piece is about as frustrating as the time I dreamed I won the lotto...and was staring at my winning ticket...and could not read the numbers!!! ARGHHH!

Most of my waking hours today have been trying to remember what I knew in my dream. :)

Anyway...inspiration...comes from anywhere... from anything... at anytime. The artist's goal is to catch it when it happens...and in the meantime...always be working...sometimes it can be an accident while working on something else. You just never know.

(authored by Lisa)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pulling an all nighter

The nights preceeding a craft fair tends to be chaotic in our house...a'hem - studio. The kitchen is a mess...what used to be the dining room is ridiculous and the dining room table, which is in the living room is covered with product.

The reason why its so chaotic is because we have had back-to-back weekends of events. We will be selling our jewelry this Friday, Saturday and Sunday...and doing the same next weekend as well. And then...we both agree that we are going to take some serious time off and during that time off to slow down and create more complex pieces. We have pages and pages of ideas, just not enough time to bring them into this world.

Despite the chaos, there are moments of fun and frolic. It gets a little scary when the dining room table is covered in product and the frolicking looks like this...

That is Tarzan-the-monkey-cat above there demanding some quality time with his peeps. He is accustomed to "TV" time, and when that doesn't happen, he finds other ways in which to get attention.

In the shot you can see the backside of some of our new's a front view:

Nice table, huh? We eat out a lot when we are prepping for a show! about a closer look and a sneak peak at some of my new designs:

I've been having all kinds of fun with alcohol ink on copper. Oh yeah.

The next piece was inspired by a recent full moon rising over the hills...I have a thing for anything Luna...and have been trying for some time now to capture it in jewelry. (And even a longer amount of time trying to capture a picture of a full moon!) I spent several HOURS tonight trying to put this piece on a beaded cord, but a beader I am not...that is, not yet. However, I am really liking the results I'm getting with the ink on copper series...

This one is called "Full Moon" -

And here is one more piece "The Rising Moon" -

These pieces and many others will be making their debut in about nine hours from right now (1:00am). I'm excited to see how they are received!

(authored by Lisa)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

You Never Know

A few weeks ago Josh and I were doing some thrift store hunting. We didn't have an exact shopping list, more of a "let's see what we can find" general/vague idea. Usually that is a dangerous mind-set to go shopping with (!), but for artists out and about it creates an open-minded adventure!

We became fascinated with boxes and were opening them, checking to see if they were usable as booth decor and storage, when I open a long flat box and saw that it was a backgammon set I realized the potential sitting there! The round pieces were smooth and just about the size of a small pendant. We bought the set for $3.50. I figured, drill even one piece, decorate...sell the pendant for $10. The entire backgammon set is paid for!!

Now with all these black and white pieces, I have to admit I've been a little overwhelmed with all the possibilities...but two pieces have turned out quite well. I hand-painted a dragon fly on one, and an abstract spiral snake like thingy on another. I thought that perhaps a teenager would be attracted to these little pendants.

The dragonfly and abstract snake spiral made their debut this weekend at the craft fair at Nimbus.

There have been many teenagers looking at our work.

No one had been noticing either little pendant!


And then...look who found it, loved it, bought it, went to the ladies room, put it on, and came back to show us....

Yes...that is one happy and delighted customer. And I learned my lesson that all I can do is make and put the work out there...and just not get too caught up in the who's gonna want it game.

(authored by Lisa)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Getting ready for Day 2

One of the things I love about vending at fairs is meeting other artists. Spending hours alone in the studio can give me tunnel vision...and be a rather isolating experience. Getting out and about and seeing what other artisans are doing is a very gratifying experience. Artists feed off of each other and, while work is not copied, after a while one can see the influences. Nothing wrong with that. Everything influences something else...we all touch and bump against ideas all the time.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep.
~Scott Adams

The conversations that occur and fun...stories are shared about successes and mistakes. The mistakes are really interesting. What ends up being sold...always a surprise. You just never know what the public is going to respond to - everything you make is a risk. Little pieces of your soul out on public display. Artists seem to have a bond because of this. We know we are all putting ourselves out there, and we need the support from each other.

Over the next few weeks I am going to share some of the work of the vendors that are showing at the Historic Nimbus Winery (Hwy 50/Hazel in Rancho Cordova, CA).

I'm all about helping other artists be seen and known...supporting the artist, revealing their work.

Check out Mary's work with Sunburst Clay and Glass.

(authored by Lisa Kewish)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Burrito's Welcome!

Happy Thanksgiving to all...we have purchased our bird and other dinner items. We will be packing up said dinner items and taking them over to a friend's house to share the joy of prepping and cooking food stuffs. This works out GREAT for us as we just don't have the time to clean our kitchen properly!! Tomorrow morning we are packing up the turkey and said prepped food items up to Placerville to assemble and finish cooking...then eating. We're up there at the folk's house while they are away in Mexico! (I have my mother-in-law's permission to do this!!).

It sounds complicated I know. But I found the need to be extremely non-traditional this year. The "traditional" has fallen apart and I was feeling a bit....un-achored. So, to compensate and still get my turkey/stuffing/mashed potato/yam fix...we are doing it this crazy way.

It is crazy enough that I'm hoping it will shut my brain down from all this metal stuff and give me a break. Usually this plan works very well for me! Something absolutely different to distract me from the usual.

The usual that I need distraction from is the mode of putting one foot in front of the other and don't stop for anything! We have been incredibly busy!

Busy like twelve hours both last Saturday and Sunday and every night after work...

I have read in many blogs that craftspeople/artisans take January off. I can see why. By the time one makes product and does the holiday craft shows, taking time off to do nothing artistic is a must. I am amused that come January, when I should be taking time off...classes will begin. Both of us will be signing up for two metalsmithing classes. Two different teachers. I figure that January - May is a better time to take classes than September - December.

In the meantime, Josh and I are busy making things out of recycled materials. At first it was because we are doing a "green" show at Amanda's in Berkeley, CA. Then it became a creative challenge...what can one do with the bottom of a 7-Up can (they really are beautiful domes!!).
Josh came up with an amazing solution and I'm sorry to say that I don't have a pic right now to share. But trust me on is very, very cool!

I have also discovered black wire and have been listening to Phutureprimitive and making all kinds of neato things. Took the shots with my phone.

The other night while I was doing this wire work I thought that I should take a class at one of the local bead stores on wire wrapping. Thought about it further, and realized that I really enjoy the problem solving aspect of it...AND, since I'm not learning any of the "standard" ways of wrapping, my designs will always be unique. I still go back and forth on that one...but for now I'm good with standing in my unique-ness! :)

I do miss the hard-core metal work, that takes time...which I am looking for!

Some days it would just be great to have someone drop a burrito or two off..."I know you're's dinner..."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brass, ink and goth belly dance music

I had the dining room/studio all to myself tonight. I put on my latest music obsession...Shiva in Exile and Phutureprimitive (to be found when one searches music for "Goth Belly Dance"). Anyway, I decided tonight was going to be "experiment night". This is where I purposefully forget all the rules and make messes. To my amazement, I discovered the joy of alcohol ink on brass. OH MY GOODNESS. This discovery led me to digging out some pieces that have not moved...not even seriously considered...and dropped ink on them. Alcohol ink is made specifically for non-porous surfaces...and it is incredible on brass. I have a little bottle of Cranberry (lovely red), Eggplant (gorgeous purple) and...mmmm a green one...Asparagus? Anyway...a green one. After the ink dries, one can go back in and buff the ink off the you have these organic silver lines swimming across these reds, purples and greens. The purples are especially cool...very goth...very primitive. Totally inspired by the music. I am extremely content with tonight's experiments. Success!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Process

When I'm in the mood to create, and nothing is springing forth from my mind, I begin to peruse images online. I type in strange combinations, well maybe not SO strange, well...things like "Goth Christmas." That produced black Christmas trees and skeletons saying "What's so merry?"

I found it lacking any inspiration.

So, I googled other images...still uninspired.

Then I realized, that for me...when I'm in the mood to create, there is NOTHING out there that is going to assuage my thoughts...only my own self is going to bring peace to the creative frenzy. My own exploring, my own discoveries.

There are other times when I appreciate a good image search. Times when I feel empty and lost. What do OTHER people do with fire opal cabochons and copper?

But those times when I do something needs to issue forth, I need to just sit with myself and muck about the workbench. Something cool is sure to happen.

(written by Lisa)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Shoot

Today was all about a photo shoot. Set up a light tent, took some shots. Wandered around the deck looking for shots. Wood on the deck was nice...but its been done. Leaves, layered leaves, soft focus leaves. Dragon sculptures and jade vases. And then...she entered the picture.

Finally found a model we can work with. Opal. She’s fantastic. Quiet, still, makes no demands, can stand in the sun for hours and not burn. Now we can continue on with a theme of sorts. Before all of our work was rather hodge-podge. A lot of work, but a good day. :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Inspired by Coco

Josh and I just watched “Coco Before Chanel.” There is a scene where she is pulling together the fabrics for a dress she is having a dressmaker build for her. She chooses a black fabric, the dressmaker encourages a light pink fabric. She studies the pink, then says something to the effect of “black shows off the eyes” or “black is good for the eyes”…and turns down the pink fabric (that was popular at the time).

She sticks to her guns. Her own fashion sense. Not being swayed by the “professional.”

It hit me really hard.


I design jewelry and I am constantly asked to “make things smaller.” So I have decided.

I am NOT going to make things smaller. I will make what I make.

There is an odd thing with women and their jewelry. Either a woman sees herself as bold and so wants to wear bold jewelry…or she sees herself as dainty and wants to wear something that can not be seen in broad daylight from across the room. Why? Why hide?

I have seen delicate females wearing audacious pendants and they look fantastic. So it isn’t about size.

It’s all about attitude. It’s about wanting to be seen. It is about loving stones and metal and making a statement of, “I have entered the room.”

Time to stop hiding. That goes for all of us.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Between then and when...

An artist brings into the physical dimension ideas that sit and wait in the unseen realm. When an artist decides to sell these physical representations of visions, patience is needed to find the other human that recognizes the vision and makes it his or her own.

Sound a bit metaphysical?

All artists do it.
All consumers do it.
The only different group are the 'art collectors'. They recognize a talent/style/voice that very well could be the next Monet or Van Gogh and they invest in the early art and they the artist waits...

There is a great deal of waiting in the art world.
There is a great deal of patience needed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wow! Suddenly Busy.

We love meeting new people (well, new to us anyway!) and, frankly, that's the only way to stay in making new contacts and maintaining current ones. Of course, there is more than one business model out there, but for Lisa and I meeting people face to face seems to work best at this stage.

True, we have a web presence with this blog and our Etsy storefront, but so far our greatest successes have been at festivals where we can interact with people. And when I use the term "successes" I am not only referring to sales, but also contacts. People do not always buy one of our pieces, but seeing the work up close, talking with the artists (that's us!) makes an impression.

Perhaps as important as prospective customers are prospective business partners--gallery owners, store owners, officials from other festivals. We have met several people that fall into this second category. Many of them have expressed interest with working with us. Time will tell how many of these contacts prove fruiteful, but the simple truth is we would have met none of them if we simply sat in our house uploading images onto the web.

It is hard to describe, but it feels like we are beginning to be noticed. A few people have recognized us from other events. And we even had our first repeat customer. Yeah!

So, it was heartening to realize that the pace of our public apearances is picking up. With that in mind, here are a few upcoming events we will be selling at. If you can make it to any of them, we would love to meet you.

AUGUST 1, 2009: "Art In the Gardens." 10 AM to 5 PM. Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden. More info at

AUGUST 15, 2009: "Design Downtown." Sacramento, CA. A monthly music and arts festival. Sponsored by Sacramento News and Review.

AUGUST 22-23, 2009 (10am - 6pm) "Inaugural Newark SummerFest"
Newpark Mall - 2086 Newpark Mall, Newark, CA, 94560.

SEPTEMBER 26-27, 2009: "Pacific Coast Fog Festival" Pacifica, CA
Palmetto Ave. Pacifica, CA 94546.



Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Art In The Gardens

Well, starting any new business takes time--time to produce your product, time to market your business, time to travel, heck...even time to think. Lisa and I have been doing a lot of thinking and experimenting with different venues to sell our work.

We have setup our booth at roadside stops in the Sierra Nevada Moutains, we have setup in storefronts and even the Berkeley, CA Marina for their 4th of July event. We are seeing the first glimmers of our "niche." Events specifically meant for artist to sell their work seem to be better for us. With this in mind, we submitted some of our work to be juried for the 18th annual "Art In The Gardens" event in the Mendocina Coast Botanical Garden, Fort Bragg, CA. We are very pleased to announce that we have been accepted into this event!

This is a big deal for us, and not just because it is likely to draw more people interested in what we sell than any event so far. It is a big deal because of the sense of satisfaction we feel, the sense of acceptance. It is one thing to know that your art is good and quite another for it to be accepted by someone who doesn't know you---someone who is looking at your work with an eye toward quality. Even the most self-secure artist needs this on some levels.

If you can make the trip, this would be a lovely place to, wine, music and all in a beautiful botanical garden near the California Coast. Check out their event website for details. Maybe we'll see you there!



** Note: Postcard artwork "Back to the Garden" an original acrylic painting by artist Julie Higgins

Monday, June 29, 2009

4th of July at Berkeley, CA

Hello everyone. Lisa and I are excited to announce that we will be at the 4th of July @ the Berkeley Marina -

This event is going to be fantastic! Lots of crafters and artists will be setup at the Berkeley marina near the beautiful San Francisco Bay. The organizers insist that ALL vendors at this event are the actual artists, so everything will be hand made by the person in each booth.

Its the perfect event for people who like supporting working artists by purchasing original, hand-crafted art.

There will be fireworks over the water around 9:30 PM--a perfect end to a perfect day.

Come out and meet us and have a great time! Lisa and I are very excited about this event. It is much bigger than anything else we have done so far and we feel our work will connect with a lot of people who live in the area.

Event web site:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Closer Economic Circle

Yesterday I (Joshua) worked a table selling our jewelry in a funky-cool little store in downtown Sacramento called Bows and Arrows, while Lisa took advantage of the time to work with the metals at home.

The store sells vintage items, clothing, jewelry, furniture, etc...but all in excellent, if offbeat taste. To get a true sense of the place you only have to read their own advertising cards which proudly announce "all the dope shit" right beneath the name of the store. The fact that they played two hours of rap music followed by five hours of 1960s French pop music might also tell you something about the place. Cool.

The event is called Sellout Buyout. Every three months they graciously open up the front half of their store to craftspeople like Lisa and I to set up a table. All we had to do was deliver their advertising cards to a couple of nearby businesses a few weeks ago. We were happy to do it and it turned out to be a great experience.

The money we made was very modest, but the people! Way cool. Very diverse, Very eclectic. Very interested in supporting local craftspeople. I met so many wonderful people who genuinely loved our work. (Thank you to all of you who stopped by!)

Anyway, today Lisa and I went to a local farm called Davis Ranch and used some of our cash from the Sellout Buyout event to purchase fresh (very fresh!) fruit and vegetables. That's when it struck me how great it felt to be supported by local people who like what we make...and in turn support local farmers whom we definitely appreciate. I mean, it felt really really we were part of a community, all supporting one another.

It is a simpler way of life in some ways, but the human connections, face to face, make it a far wealthier experience.

A closer economic circle.



Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Adventures of "I 'heart' ME"

I had the day to myself in the studio. Josh was (well, still is) away working a show...and everything is mine all mine. I sat at the workbench staring at piles of copper and silver wire. I believe in working even if not inspired. Just work, and inspiration will appear as you are actively involved in creating. But, there I sat. Rummaged through this pile...gazed at that. Looked at a few stones. Nothing.

I went online to Facebook, and uncovered a post from a friend of mine. She wrote some beautiful things and at the end suggested to put on lipstick and give one's self a smooch in a mirror.

a HA!

Sat back down with a silver disc...took some wire and formed two words and one symbol.

I "heart" ME.

Took the items to the block to hammer and flatten out the words and symbol. The first "I" shot out from under the hammer and who knows where it ended. I looked around, but not for long and not carefully. Rather half-hearted as a matter of fact.

Ok..form another "I". Hm...interesting that this one came out more interesting than the first "I". Take it to the block, hammer and THIS one shot out onto the floor somewhere. Looked for a bit...well, I suppose one day when I get around to vacuuming, I will hear the "I" get sucked into the dusty whirlwind of the Great Suck Monster (our cats' name for 'vacuume').

Well, isn't that kinda how life is. You think you have it all together...and off you shoot into nowhere only to have to pull it together and re-create your self again.'s a profound thought for ME anyway!

I formed a third "I"...took it to the block and carefully hammered it flat. So far so good.

Fused the words and heart onto the silver disc. Pickle...clean...apply a texture...brass brush it...

I stood admiring it.
I do not know how it happened...but suddenly my lovely charm exclaiming one's first order of life's business...JUMPED...yes JUMPED from my hand and went flying SOMEWHERE!

Crap...I dismantled the shelves that hold all our supplies and moved the casing a few feet from the wall...THERE it was. "I "Heart" Me" laying in the middle of some dust bunnies.
OK OK I breathe to my subconscious...I GET the message.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Earth Day--And a Lesson In Ignoring Your Inner Editor

On Saturday, 25 April, Lisa and I attended the Earth Day celebration in Placerville, CA.

The day started out a bit strange when a toothless gentleman wandered up to our booth just as we finished setting up and announced that he had to kill his fish because he didn't like what it was saying to him. And for a few tense moments he just stood there going on and on about about his fish. Needless to say, this was not the most auspicious start to our day. However, he soon wandered off and the real festivities got underway.

The weather was great, sunny, perhaps more windy than we would have liked, but overall we could not have asked for a better day for an outdoor event. We were fortunate to have a place right on the grass with a view of the stage.

Lots of people stopped by our booth and most seemed to genuinely like our work, but they weren't least not at first. But then, a woman working two booths over from ours came by and fell in love with one of our simple copper hybiscus designs with a rouge patina. It was the least expensive item on the table, but she truly loved it and wore it all day. Her purchase turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. All day long her customers asked about that pendent and she happily pointed them to us. After that, sales were brisk! Thank you flower lady!!!

The funny thing is, I was not fond of that piece and wouldn't have even brought it if Lisa hadn't insisted. She saw something that I missed and rounded up the half dozen or so of those hybiscus flowers I had made and polished them and fired a patina onto each one. All four of the copper versions sold and one of the brass too! Lesson learned. Never assume you know what people will like and never underestimate the value of a simple, direct design. Every time we sold another one of those flowers it was like having a walking talking billboard praising our work. Every woman who bought one immediate put it on and proudly pointed to our booth when people enquired about it.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Noticing the Negative

In Dr. Randy Borum’s article entitled, “Re-Train the Negative Brain” (first appears in Black Belt Magazine, January, 2008, pp. 48-50) he explains that numerous studies have shown that the electrical (or neural) connections in your brain are stronger and faster when they are responding to something unpleasant than when responding to something neutral or pleasant. Since the negativity gets the most ‘juice’, it seems obvious why negativity can become the major orientation. This is a survival tactic from antiquity to insure our survival since our brain needs to evaluate information automatically and often without our conscious participation in order to remain safe. When given the choice of positive, neutral, or negative, it will choose negative almost every time research shows. (From

I have observed (over the past few years)...
Someone asks, "How are you?" If my answer is , "Good" (or something better)... there is not too much of a continuation of the conversation.
If my answer is anywhere along negative lines...then I get asked out for coffee, lunch, dinner, pedicures, massages, movies, drinks...
I began to notice this when I was very young. My mother would spend Sundays visiting the other church ladies. If one was in a positive space, the visit wasn't very long. If a woman was "going through something", there would be tears and holding and attention and yummy foods eaten. Even though I was "just a kid", I recognized the pattern.
I still see the pattern.
I've break free.
For I also read about neuroplasticity...and that we can change.
Doesn't even phase me that I'm up against evolution...or am I?
(Ponderings and Photograph by Lisa)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Forging a new trail...or making the cats deaf

Today I completed a piece using forged wire. I have to admit that forging is not my strongest skill as a silversmith, but I really enjoyed the challenge, although I don't think our cats were too keen on the loud ping ping ping of the hammer.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, forging is the process of shaping metal--typically wire--into the desired shape by hammering it on an anvil. It is a distinct skill from fabrication, which is the process of cutting, bending, soldering etc. Forging metal requires special hammers with highly polished surfaces. Striking the metal repeatedly with careful blows, you push the metal and shape it. Sounds easy, but it isn' least if you want to do anything more complex than flattening the end of a wire.

Anyway, I decided to make a pendent from a drawing I had lying around for months--a gentle "S" curve with a semi-circle cabachon nestled at the bottom. Webought this beautiful moss agate at a local gem and jewelry show and it inspired the drawing. Looking at that drawing I knew that as slender and long as the "S" was, the only viable solution was to forge a length of Sterling silver wire. Forging has the benefit of "work hardening" the metal. As you strike it, the molecules realign in a way that makes the metal more rigid. This is why forging was the solution for this project. You will see what I mean when you view the image at the bottom of this post.

I am sure a forging master could have whipped this piece out in a matter of minutes, but it took me considerably longer, but I am pleased with the result. I call it Silver Swing (Thanks Lisa for the name!) Silver Swing is available at our Etsy store, so check it out.



Friday, April 17, 2009

Ring Ring

To honor the 13th anniversary of our marriage, I made Lisa a ring. She had picked out this beautiful topaz a number of months ago and the time seemed right to put it to use. Lisa always says she LOVES "sparklies." And this rock certainly fit the bill.

She had been wearing this simple silver band for a long time, but recently she set it on our work table, saying, "You should see what you can do with this."

So, I set to work the morning of our anniversary while she was at the office. First, I used a ring mandrel to reshape the band because it had gotten misshapen from months of wear. Since it isn't a closed band it is more prone to lose its roundness over time. Next, I used a fine grinding bit to add some texture to the surface. Then, I soldered the prongs into place that would hold the stone. And finally, I set the stone. This was by far the most difficult part of the project. setting a gemstone takes a great deal of precision and patience...but it was all worth it. Lisa loves the ring and everywhere we go people comment on it. People are fascinated to learn that we make jewelry.

And on the heels of this success, I decided to make another ring (Why not? I was on a roll!), this one for the business. The new ring is made of silver, textured brass and holds a small pink quartz. We just love how it came out. Elegant, yet not pretentious.

This one went really smoothly until I tried to set the stone. For some reason I could not get it to sit still while I adjusted the prongs. But eventually, I got it right...after spending over an hour grousing and grumbling and bending and straightening prongs and generally carrying on cranky. But I still love it. It was worth the hassle!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chip Tips...

Yes, that is a fire opal resting on a tortilla chip.

Here's the back story.

April 14 is our wedding anniversary. We met for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. We ordered our usual pre-meal chips and salsa. We munched on the chips and talked about our know, anniversary stuff! We ate our meal, drank our sodas and nibbled on a few more chips. I lifted up a chip and looked at it carefully. Then I held it up as if it were a pendant. We both declared that it was a lovely shape and would look incredible in silver.
We then began to dig through the basket of chips looking for other aesthetically pleasing pieces of fried tortillas. We found one other chip worthy of becoming the model for a piece of 'fine art jewelry'.

I cradled these two precious chips in my hand as we left the restaurant. I'm sure the staff that bid us "Have a nice day" wondered why I was carrying out two tortilla chips.

I placed the chips carefully in the car, Josh took them home...and carefully placed them in our "up-and-coming" jewelry stash.

Tonight...I pulled out the fire opal and the tortilla chip.

Stay tuned for the final product!
...and if you want to know how to keep your tortilla chips fresh...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Work, New Challenges

Lisa and I recently started a new series of work where we are collaborating on the designs and sharing in the construction duties. It seemed like a great idea...and it is, but--there always seems to be a but--things don't always go as planned.

The piece in the first image (Moonscape-now available at our Etsy store) came out pretty much how we both agreed it should. We just love the blend of fused, reticulated silver, Brazilian quartz and brilliant orange opal.

Things didn't go so smoothly on our second piece (Moonscape 2-also on our Etsy). The blue crystal and orange opal are about where Lisa envisioned them in her original design, but that is pretty much where our good plans ended and our misunderstandings began.

Lisa had some strong opinions about this piece (she came up with the original design, after all) and thought she had communicated them to me. However, I also had some ideas, so I asked her, "May I play with this a little?" and she replied, "Yeah, sure." This is where I took a detour. Let's just say that I thought I had more leeway than Lisa thought.

While Lisa was at her day job, I was happily working away on Moonscape 2. Later, when I revealed my progress, she was stunned to find lines of wire running along its surface instead of just holding the blue crystal. I thought they were great, but they weren't in the original design.

There were a few tense moments with me feeling that I had stepped on her creative input and her working past her vision for the piece. So we consulted a bit and realized the design was a nice blending of our styles. It wasn't exactly what Lisa envisioned, but it was a nice design all the same.

Now that it is done we love it. And we both learned a good lesson. Communication is more difficult and subtle, even after thirteen years of marriage, than either of us realized. Be very sure your partner truly understand what you are trying to say.


--Joshua **content of this post approved by Lisa ;-)
-- except the title...I suggested "She Said, He Did" for the title...see? *laughing*...Lisa
--LOL. What about "Oops, I did it again!" Seems appropriate since you DID suggest your title before I came up with mine...Joshua

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sacramento's 2nd Saturday Art Walk

Last night Josh and I explored the art scene during Sacramento’s 2nd Saturday Art Walk. My original intention was to take pictures of a fire spinning group, see what the samba parade dance group was up to, and visit the gallery of another associate who was showing work.

None of THAT happened…although I did see a fire spinning group a block away, but we were hungry and sitting down for dinner at Tres Hermanas won the debate!

I had forgotten that it was the 2nd Saturday fell on the last Saturday of Spring Break! Therefore, it seemed that the crowds were very ‘young’ and very inebriated at a very early hour!

However, I thought I would share some of the artists that I discovered, as well as some shots that I took.

Yuko Oyaizu Carson does wonderful work that I immediately was attracted to. Bright colors and lots of cats! Her artwork portrays her love of cats, sense of humor and her excellent eye for composition. Check out her site at:

Michelle Mackenzie does "contemporary abstract paintings". I found them to be quite lovely and ethereal. She paints what I see in my head as I sit down to work on jewelry. I have not achieved enough technical abilities to actually portray these wonderful images! Check out her work at:

Finally....Kristen Hoard. HER large metal sculptures LOOK like my jewelry. In fact, she was showing a couple pieces that looked like sketches in my book! Needless to say, I loved her work. PLUS...she uses fire as an element to her sculpture. I love fire. I spent a fair amount of time taking shots of the fire in her work! Check out her site at:

The pic that opens this entry was taken at Ms. Hoard's installation.

(Lisa Kewish)

Listen to your inner voice to find inspiration

A while ago Lisa and I found these unusual beads made from compressed old furniture and other recycled bits. We bought several of them without really knowing what we were going to do with them. They sat in a box for months until just this last week when I suddenly remembered them as I was looking for inspiration for an upcoming Earth Day celebration. Earth Day...recycled jewelry components...INSPIRATION!

So now I am making a series of pieces using those beads. The first one is already done--silver, copper and recycled furniture. How cool is that? I wore it last night and got several positive comments from strangers.

The lesson? If you see something that catches your eye, but don't know what to do with it, trust your instincts. Take a moment, listen that inner voice, and if it tells you there is something there, then pay attention.

In this case, not only have I come up with a new series of work, I am helping the environment by using recycled materials. It is a win-win.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Necessity of Art

People have been creating art for tens of thousands of years. Creating is a primal urge. It is one of the main drivers of humankind's advancement throughout the ages. Why would the Ancients venture into dark caves to paint on the walls or create thousands of beads from seashells? These activities are not technically necessary for survival--or are they?

In our modern Western culture we often downplay the importance of the arts...and artists. It takes an extra special person to persevere in an art career these days. Finding a support system is key. The life of an artist can often be lonely with hours spent in studio laboring over our latest work of love. I am beginning to see the value in developing connections with other artists, for networking, for friendship, for inspiration. There are so many reasons for artists to unite. We artists expand the realm of the possible and with so many people filled with gloom and despair, what we have to offer humanity is a balm for their hearts. And by making these connections, we also heal ourselves.

I am an artist. I paint, draw, sculpt and make jewelry. These activities fill my heart with joy and contentment.

--Joshua Kewish


"Fill your life with as many moments and experiences of joy and passion as you humanly can. Start with one experience and build on it."

Marcia Wieder

The old way: "How have you been?" (sigh) "Busy"

The new way: "How have you been?" (giggle) "Actively Being."

Lisa Kewish

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Creating is About Synthesizing Many Different Elements

‘Ideas, I find, come most readily when you are doing something that keeps the mind alert without putting too much strain on it.’
Lenox Riley Lohr

Creating is about synthesizing many different elements to produce something that is unique. Sometimes the act of creating seems like it isn't happening. The process begins in the sub-conscious and eventually finds its way out.

‘I waited for the idea
to consolidate, for the grouping and composition of themes to settle themselves in my brain.’
Claude Monet

It took me awhile for the piece featured in this post to materialize. I probably have a dozen different designs to showcase the beautiful fire opal. Straight lines, basic settings, mod showcasing...none of them made the opal "sing".

This was a commissioned piece. A friend handed me this opal and basically told me to do anything I wanted. That whatever I came up with it would be "hot". No pressure!

It took several months of staring and ignoring...then drawing and asking others for their opinion. Then more attempts and some mistakes. Meanwhile time passed by and still no product. Once in awhile the friend would ask me if I had come up with anything. No.

‘One must still have chaos in oneself in order to give birth to the dancing star.’
Friedrich Nietzsche

While in the process of incubating an idea for this opal, I became fascinated with spirals and circles. I suppose it is because I'm going through a lot of internal change, and yes, chaos. I feel like my thoughts go round and round, they begin and spiral out into who knows where. I have quite a few pieces sitting around with spirals. Spiral flowers, spiral abstracts, spirals... on and on.

Enough to give me a good case of internal motion sickness. I was feeling frustrated that on one hand I had this friend's opal to set...and on the other, I had all these squiggly spirals all over the place.

And one night, as I was falling asleep, the spirals came to rest. And I saw them differently.

Things don’t change. You change your way of looking, that’s all.’
Carlos Castaneda

Although the spirals were still there, an order appeared. They all rested.

The next evening, after work, there was not hesitation. "Jamie's Fire" was put together in just a couple nights.

Not the end of story.

The silver backplate had slightly "reticulated" (more on this in other posts). The irregularity bothered me. Everything was set...there was not much else I could do. I spent an entire day at work problem solving. I would be seeing my friend later that evening at a party. I wanted to give her the piece THAT night.

‘Talk of inspiration is sheer nonsense; there is no such thing. It is mere a matter of craftsmanship.’
William Morris

I realized that I needed to change the backplate to a uniform texture. How to do that with a piece that could not tolerate any heat, and where there was no room to file. And then it came to me. I took the smallest, sharpest drill bit that I could find, and I began to scratch. I scratched the entire backplate creating a surface that is web-like, shimmery and completely different than most silver pieces.

Instant inspiration isn't always available. And sometimes it is. Eventually.
I was my own inner chaos, that fed the creation.

(Lisa Kewish)