Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Happy New Year to everyone out there!  I hope you are all happy, well and warm!  Here's hoping that the coming year treats us all better than last year and that we all stay healthy so we can enjoy it together!   It's a year of hope.

Monday, December 29, 2008


 Unfired lentil-shaped pendants from today's class.

Lentils, fresh from the kiln.

Today I had a rare weekday afternoon class at Bead Haven in Cedar Rapids.  We made hollow, lentil-shaped pendants, which are one of my favorite things to make.  We had lots of fun despite the fact that the teacher was having one of those days where she dropped everything she touched!  
Thanks to Cindi, David and Rosalee!

Friday, December 26, 2008


We had a really nice Christmas with my sisters, my nephew and my parents.  We ate too much and gave and received lots of nice gifts and spent time thinking about how really grateful we are to have each other for another year.  It's really hard to think about your family being altered by time, distance or death.  I know it happens to all of us, but the thought of it makes me feel as if my feet aren't on solid ground.  So this year, I'm grateful that most of us are still here.  I hope you had a great holiday with people that you love. 

 I forgot, until I saw on CNN this morning, that today is the 4th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Four years ago today, an enormous, magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean spawned a horrible series of powerful tsunamis that devastated the coastlines of Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.  The tsunamis killed more than 225,000 people, many whose bodies were never recovered.  One of the things at the time that amazed me about the tsunami was the fact that the earthquake and tsunami were of such force that the entire planet wobbled on it's axis by about a half an inch.  Islands off of the coast of Indonesia were permanently moved by 20 meters.  Amazing.  We like to believe that the ground beneath our feet is solid.  Clearly, that is not always the case.  The morning of December 26, 2004, the people who lived along these coastlines started their day just like any other and then, just like that, it was all ripped away from them.  It makes me really thankful for what I have.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Merry Christmas!  I wish you all peace in the coming year and always.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Photos from tonight's class

Thank you to all of the students that braved the frigid temperatures tonight to come to my resin class at Chameleon Cache.  It's wonderful to have students who will excitedly come to a class in freezing weather during Christmas week.  All of the students tonight have taken classes from me before, so I guess I must be doing something right!  I really do have some of the most fun people in my classes and I do appreciate the support of my students.  
We had so much fun tonight cutting out papers and embedding things in resin.  It's another case of giving a bunch of people the same supplies and the same instruction then sitting back and watching the divergent paths that they take.  I really do find that fascinating.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Send your own ElfYourself eCards


Winter Solstice in Iowa

Winter Solstice at Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain In England

Winter Solstice at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico (Sun Dagger solstice marker atop of Fajada Butte)

My homage to the Solstice, in bronze

Today is the shortest day of the year and probably more significant to the ancients, the longest night of the year.  Imagine in ancient times the long, dark nights of winter.  In bad times there wouldn't be much food stored and the fear of not knowing whether you and your family would survive the harsh winter must have been unbearable.  So it's no wonder that many civilizations marked this time on their calendars and celebrated with rituals, feasts and celebrations.  The solstice meant the return of the light, the rebirth of the sun.  It must have been a beacon of hope during the cold, dark nights.  It's funny how the tradition of celebrating rebirth during the midwinter has survived from pagan times to now.  I like the thought that we are in some ways connected to those who came so long before us.  
The word 'solstice' derives from the latin, sol (sun) and sistere (standing still).  It should serve as a reminder to take some time to be still and enjoy the season.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Beautiful Sophie wishes for porch weather

Winter view from my porch

White pines in winter

Winter doesn't even start until tomorrow morning and yet we have blizzard and wind chill warnings.  It is very cold, but I must admit I actually like winter (except for driving on ice!).  I think it's really beautiful.  I love how still it seems to be outside at night when it's snowing.  It's one of my favorite times to go for a walk.   Not tonight though.  The wind is buffeting my house and I'm happy to be inside writing this in front of the fireplace with a kitty on my feet.  
I've always loved extremes of weather.  This is a lucky thing considering that I live in Iowa where people joke that if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes.  

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I believe there could be no other choice this year for Time Magazine to have made.  For many reasons, but none as important as something as simple as hope.  Many people choose to discount or even ridicule the power of hope.  It was hope and belief in the future that pushed the early leaders of our country to greatness.  It was that same hope that spurred the industrial revolution and later that got us through the Great Depression and World War II.   Hope for a better world fueled the civil rights and women's movements.  Hopes and dreams of worlds far beyond ours, sparked our amazing trek to the moon and beyond.  Hope is what drives a single mother to get up every day to go to a dead-end job so that her kids have chance at something better than she will ever have.  Hope leads to optimism, optimism spurs on hard work, can-do spirit and the belief that anything is possible.  There is nothing more American than that belief. There is nothing ridiculous about hope.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The necklace pictured above was made by Julie Campbell and includes some of my bead caps and one of my toggles.  Julie teaches some great classes at Bead Haven in Cedar Rapids.  I'm always amazed by what people make with the parts that they buy from me.   I love it when they send me photos of their work.  They consistently come up with things that I never would have conceived of.  One of the beading magazines has a regular feature where they give several people the same supplies and then see what different things they'll make from them.  I think it's cool how differently and creatively our minds will work if we just allow them to.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


So, tonight I was supposed to teach my first resin class at Chameleon Cache.  Mother nature had other plans, though and dumped 5 or 6 inches of snow on us and we felt it was best to postpone until next Monday night.  It's going to be a fun class.   We are going to play with bottle caps as bezels and sterling silver bezels soldered by yours truly.  We will have all kinds of fun papers and transparencies and other bits to embed into the resin.  I'm really excited by this class and will eventually do a workshop employing PMC with the resin along with found objects as bezels.  

Monday, December 15, 2008


Bria toasting finals week with carrot-ginger juice, wearing one of my bronze pendants for luck!

Lately, I've been thinking about all of the friends that I've made directly and indirectly from my jewelry business.  People that I really can't imagine not being in my life.  Bria is one of those friends who lives far away but is close to my heart.  Isn't it amazing where life takes you?   I can't imagine doing anything else now, but I certainly once did.   I had a conversation a while back with my friend Gail who was sad that she didn't find her bliss sooner in life.  I said that I thought that all that other stuff that we do first is part of the journey of who we are.  I think without that we wouldn't be doing what we are now and certainly wouldn't appreciate it as much.  I know this is true for me and that I wouldn't have met all of the great people that I have in the last few years!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Last night I went out with some friends for a few adult beverages and to hear Iowa City blues, honkey tonk icon, David Zollo.  Dave is a nice guy with an incredible talent, and if you've never heard his music, I'm kind of sorry for you.  Dave formed a band in the early 90's called High and Lonesome, very coolly named after the Jimmy Reed song with the same name.  They were so amazing.  Think Rolling Stones mixed with rock/country alt thrown in for good measure.  After 3 great recordings, 200 shows a year, scary health problems and whatever other band drama that might have occurred, Hi Lo broke up and Dave went solo.  He has since recorded 3 solo albums including The Morning Is A Long Way From Home, whose title track is still one of my favorite songs, bar none.  Dave has also played on countless other's recordings, including the legendary Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey, Dave Moore and Joe Price.  Dave will be at the Mill in Iowa City on New Year's Eve and it's guaranteed to be a great time.  Do yourself a favor and go see him and buy a CD or two.  You won't be sorry.


Thank you to all of the wonderful folks that I met this weekend at Chameleon Cache.  At the end of the day I met a really nice woman named Anne who bought a gift for someone, I won't say who, in case they should read this!  She really made my day and helped me remember why I make things with my hands.  Thank you Anne, you're a sweet person!  This is a good time to say thank you to all of the people who help me do this crazy thing that I love so much.  Times are hard for all of us and I am so appreciative of the people who choose to spend their money on my jewelry.  You have no idea how much this means to me, especially now, when money is so tight for most of us.  I also want to say thanks to my wonderful friends Cindi and Erin who own the bead stores that sell my work and that I teach in.  You guys are the best and I can't thank you enough.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Yesterday, the Bush administration announced that they are overturning a 25 year old ban on carrying loaded, concealed guns in our nation's national parks and wildlife refuges.   I realize that it's a tradition for outgoing presidents to push pet projects at the end of their terms while no one is paying much attention, but can anyone other than the NRA actually think this is a good idea?  The new rule, which goes into effect in January, will allow concealed weapons even in parks that are located in states that have their own bans on concealed weapons.  The administration stresses that you still will need to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon and you will have to leave it in the car when you enter the visitor centers in the parks.  Also, gun are still banned from national treasures like Independence Hall and the Statue of Liberty.  Oh well then, I feel much better now.   I spend a lot of time every year in our national parks.  When we go on vacation there is rarely a trip that doesn't involve a national park.  I know that some of the parks have had problems with crime, mostly theft related offenses.  I have been to most of the parks in the western U.S., and I can honestly say that I have never felt unsafe.  I do not understand the rational here.  How is carrying a gun into our country's most sacred of places an essential right?  If you really feel so unsafe, why not just stay home?  I wonder how long it will take before a couple of over-stressed campers at Yosemite, one of the most overcrowded parks in the system, shoot each other in a dispute over a parking space?  Why overturn a rule that has stood and worked well for 25 years?  So that gun owners can exercise there rights?  What about my right to enjoy the parks without worrying about what some fool has hidden in his pocket?  I'm sure that I've offended some people, and that is really not my intention.  I simply feel that there are so few places in this country that are so essentially American and that truly belong to us all.  Why make them less safe for all of us?

Thursday, December 4, 2008


BRR.  It's cold here.  I actually like winter, but this is crazy.  Tonight will be our coldest yet, and man is it going to be cold.  The low for tonight is 3 degrees.  That is not nice.  Oh well, as long as there's snow for Christmas and it's gone by the end of January, I'm happy.

If you want to get out of the cold this weekend, I am having a trunk show at Chameleon Cache in Coralville, Iowa.  How was that for a segue?  I will be there tomorrow, December 5th, from 2-8pm and on Saturday, December 6th from noon-5pm.  I will have lots of finished jewelry as well as charms and toggles and other components for those who like to make their own jewelry.  I will have silver and a lot of brand new bronze pieces.  I hope to see you there!

Monday, December 1, 2008


Well, here it is, December 1st and on cue we had our first snow of the year.  It is so beautiful.  I love to go outside really late at night when it's snowing and walk around.  For some reason when it's snowing, it's so quiet outside.  I also love how bright it is late at night when it's snowing.  The low ceiling of clouds traps the light and reflects it downward making it look almost like daytime.
The best thing about this particular snow is that it's perfect snowman and snowball snow.  If it's still here tomorrow, maybe I'll get outside and build a snowperson.