Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


The Amphitheatre at Pompeii, with Mt. Vesuvius in the distance.

Ok, this may possibly be one of the coolest things that I've seen on the Internet. Google Maps now has a street view tour of ancient Pompeii that is very cool. When I was a senior in High School, the first exhibit outside of Italy of artifacts from Pompeii came to Chicago. Our senior class trip was to the Field Museum to see the exhibit and the top of the Sears Tower and all of the other good stuff that you do in Chicago. I don't know why it is, but that experience has always stuck with me. It's sort of the same thing as how the tragedy of the Titanic lingers in so many of our imaginations. I suppose that it's partly the sudden and great loss of life that was the ultimate equalizer between the classes. The iceberg and the volcano care nothing for your social status. But I think it's something more. I think it's about how quickly everything can change, especially when you don't heed warnings. I think there's something captivating about all of the fabulous architecture, art, wealth, commerce and simple everyday life being completely covered over in 20 feet of ash for all of those centuries, waiting to see the light of day.
I've always wanted to travel here, and I hope one day I will. Until I do, this very cool street view will make me feel at least a little like I'm there. Check out the link in this article by Discovery News. Once your at the street view, scroll in the direction that you want to see and double click.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Dad in the hospital, desperate for reading material.

Wow, I've been gone for a while. My Dad wasn't feeling well last week and ended up in the hospital. He's doing fine now, but hanging out in the hospital is no fun for anyone. He was short of reading material so I lent him my favorite magazine, Art Jewelry. I'm not sure he was impressed. His tastes run more towards Ducks Unlimited or Wood Carving Illustrated, but beggars can't be choosers. He probably won't like seeing his picture here, but I figure you can't see him behind the magazine anyway.
This afternoon I had the nicest group of ladies come to the studio to shop. They were so sweet. It's nice to see a group of friends like this. We had cupcakes, wine, sparkling cider and lots of laughs. Thank you so much Barbara, Nancy, Kate and Joanne! Also, Happy Birthday Joanne!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Mom and Dad at last year's Thanksgiving.

Wow, I haven't posted in a week! I didn't mean to do that. I got preoccupied with making bronze chains all week. My hands are so sore now from manipulating stiff bronze wire (which, I don't care how much you anneal it, it never seems to get soft!) that I'm not sure I'll be able to grip a fork during Thanksgiving dinner.....snort! I'll take some pictures this weekend and post them. I'm getting much better at soldering bronze. It's a lot trickier than silver, at least for me.
I have so much to be thankful for. I have a wonderful family who I love more than I can say. I have a nice place to live with sweet Paul, filled with love and warmth and 2 sweet kitties and happy memories of another, Maxie who I loved so much. I have another precious family of friends, some here where I live and some scattered far and wide, who mean so much to me. I have a purpose in life and I hope a little skill and am lucky enough to be able to do the work that I want. I am healthy and strong. Most of all I am thankful that most of us in my little world are all still here and that we can be together, in spirit if not physically. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Paul and Lily hanging out in my studio.

Lily's getting her big girl teeth.

I can't believe that we've had Lily for almost 2 months already! She is such a sweetheart. She and Sophie get along so well, which makes me happy. They play like wild things. She weighed less than 2 pounds when we got her and last week at the vet she weighed in at 4.5 pounds! The vet doesn't think she'll be a very big cat though. She was growing like a weed, but that seems to have slowed a bit. She has really long legs and an extremely long tail and she talks a lot. Last week, she started chewing on everything, including us. The vet thought she was starting to get her adult teeth, and sure enough, this week they sprouted. In the second photo, if you look closely you can see her new canine teeth coming in in front of the baby canine. How cool is that? I wish I could find them when they fall out. They'd make cool earrings, don't you think?

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Tonight I will be teaching a resin class at Bead Haven. We will making miniature paintings to embed into these cool pewter bezels. This is always a popular class and the results are really cool. There are still a couple of spots available, so if you are interested contact the store at 319-247-2323.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


"I wear the chain I forged in life...I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girdled it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it".
Charles Dickens- A Christmas Carol

The last couple of days I've been working on making chains. I cut about a million jump rings of different inside diameters and then turned them into literally yards of fine silver chain. This winter, when things quiet down, I'm looking forward to assembling all of of this chain into necklaces and bracelets. I never seem to have enough time for assembly. I sell a lot of components and pendants at shows, for other jewelry makers to make into things. Whenever I make finished jewelry, it sells well, so I'm determined to spend my snowy quiet days doing just that. I have some amazing stones that I've been hoarding from the amazing Gary Wilson, a lapidary in Tucson as well as a lot of wonderful things I bought last year at the Gem Show. Heck, if I don't get these things made into pieces, how on earth can I justify going to the shows this year?

Friday, November 6, 2009


I just wanted to post this little piece of video of our new kitten for no other reason than it made me smile. It must be wonderful to have no other thought in your head than,"what's to play with?, what's to eat?, whatcha doing Cris?, can I play with that?, hey, where ya goin'?". I hope it makes you smile too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Keum Boo from tonight's class. The 2 rectangles on the left and the dragonfly are mine, the charms on the top center are Nancy's (who got great color with the liver of sulfur tonight), the bracelet links are Pam's (I love the way she highlighted the high spots with the gold), and the rich-looking paisley pendant was done by Alice. Good job ladies!

I drove to Bead Haven this afternoon for a class this evening and it was fall. When I drove home tonight after class it was sleety and blustery and seemed like winter. I don't actually mind. I sort of like winter. I love the snow, fires in the fireplace, soup, and the short days. I love to hole up in my studio with a cat or two sleeping on a chair in the corner and working without the distractions of warm weather. I'm looking forward to getting lots of work done this winter for the Bead Fest show that I'm doing in March in Santa Fe.
My class tonight was on Keum Boo, which is the Korean art of fusing gold to silver. A while back one of my students said she saw the class listed on Bead Haven's website and wanted to know "who's this Keum Boo dude and why is he teaching one of Cris' classes?". This made me laugh hard. Thanks for watching my back Nancy!
The class tonight was fun. This is one of my favorite classes. It's such a cool technique and pretty easy too. I love seeing what everyone comes up with.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Football Saturday again today. It was a blustery day, 50 degrees and 35 mile an hour wind gusts. Iowa did it again. That crazy 4th quarter dance that they seem so fond of doing. The wind, the jitters, Halloween hexes? Who knows, but we looked like we'd blown it. By the half it was 21-7 with Indiana on top. In the 4th quarter Iowa scored 28 points. Yes, 28 points. Iowa has come from behind to win 8 of their last 9 games. These boys are going to be the death of me. And I wouldn't trade an afternoon in Kinnick Stadium for anything. Happy Halloween everybody!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Hand-carved bronze "shields" waiting to be made into earrings.

Well, another Fall Open House at Bead Haven has come and gone. I want to thank all who came out and made it such a success. Friday night there were so many people that I didn't get a chance to talk to you all. I'm always sort of sad when the open house is over. I really work hard to get ready for it and I look forward to it a lot. Thank you to Cindi for having me and working so hard to make it special, and to Suzi for all your help, you really are a good friend. And a special thank you to Susan, who bought my favorite necklace. I know it will have a good home with you.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Cindi, at last year's Halloween Open House.

I will be at Bead Haven in Cedar Rapids this Friday and Saturday for their Fall Open House and Trunk Show. Lampworker, Melissa Rediger and Metalsmith, Anne Mitchell will be there as well. It's sure to be lots of fun. If you are free on Friday and/or Saturday please stop by and see us. The hours of the show are 4-7pm on Friday and 10-5 on Saturday.

Monday, October 19, 2009


A Japanese Maple from my yard.

I have always loved fall. Crisp air, impossibly blue skies, fires in the fireplace, football and the beautiful changing leaves. The leaves are changing beautifully right now in my part of Southeast Iowa. I'll try to take some photos in the next couple of days and post them here. The fall colors are one of those things that even the most grumpy of people tend to enjoy, but have you ever thought much about why the colors occur. I really hadn't given it more than a passing thought, choosing instead to just enjoy them. I did know that individual trees have certain colors programmed into their DNA, but I never knew why. Today I read a fascinating article on Discovery Channel's internet site about how the brilliant colors are actually a survival mechanism that trees have evolved over millions of years to fight predator insects. And here I thought it was just pretty! Read about it here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Just a few of my carved charms, made into permanent master copies.

Some time ago, I started carving and sculpting my own molds and textures in order to have unique designs for charms and pendants. I model some molds from polymer clay which is then baked and others I carve from a white eraser-like material called Master Carve. In both cases I then make molds of finished pieces using silicone molding compound. Those molds last a long time, but I have started to notice that the ones that I use a lot are beginning to deteriorate. Not wanting to have to re-carve molds, I decided that I would make permanent copies of my favorites out of bronze metal clay. The bronze clay is relatively inexpensive and when fired correctly, very hard and sturdy. If a mold becomes unusable or if you lose it as I recently did, you always have a copy from which you can make a new mold. If you make your own molds and textures, I think this is a good practice to get into if you want to preserve your designs for future use.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Fidosaurus 2 (from the Max-Cast website).

I've been remiss in my blogging lately. My camera seems to be broken, leaving me with just my Iphone to take pictures. The phone takes pretty good photos, but I never think to take pictures until night time and without a flash they don't always come out so well. I think there is an app for a flash, but I haven't seen it yet.
Yesterday, I took a little road trip south of Iowa City with Cindi to visit a friend. On the way back, we stopped in Kalona to get a treat in the bakery and to wander around a bit. While wandering, we came across a gallery and workshop that seemed quite out of character with Kalona's quilt shops and antique stores. It was a gallery called Max-Cast. The artists are metal casters Stephen Maxon and Doris Park. I was really impressed by their work. Some of it was truly bizarre and darkly whimsical, coming from a wonderfully twisted imagination. While still other pieces were based on forms found in nature, realistically and wonderfully executed. They work in bronze, cast iron, and aluminum. I found a piece there that I think I'm going to go back and buy. While I was on their website, I got very excited when I found that they offer workshops in lost wax casting, a skill that I have always admired and longed to learn. I think I'll go back down soon to buy the little piece that I'm thinking about and talk to the artists about a workshop. More on that later!
If you'd like more information on Max-Cast, click here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Lily, on her toilet paper bed.

Sophie and Lily together on their Lily-proofed chair.

1. No matter how much money you spend on a heated, orthopedic foam cat bed, said cat will always prefer to sleep in a basket of toilet paper rolls.

2. Just because a kitten weighs only 2 pounds, don't think that you can clip her toe nails without an extra pair of hands (and maybe a pair of oven mitts!). If you do decide to do this alone, have some Band-Aids on hand. Seriously.

3. The cuter you are, the easier it is to get your way.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Photos from last Saturday's enamel class.

More enamels.

Calla Lily Pendant.

Resin Hearts.

I had a busy week. I taught three classes (enameling, a metal clay calla lily pendant and a resin class), helped Cindi put together enamels for Bead Haven's enameling kits, picked and canned the last of the tomatoes from my garden, did a bunch of paperwork (which I hate more than I can say), started the daunting task of cleaning the studio. Oh yeah, and then there's the new kitten. She's so sweet and hilarious, but I had forgotten about the energy of kittens. Sophie was already almost full grown when we got her. We got Maxie when he was 7 weeks old, but that was 20 years ago and time hazes over all of the wildness. Actually, she's been very good so far, but you have to keep an eye on her. She's already pried open the door of an access panel in the bathroom and climbed into the wall. I could hear her meowing from very far away. Luckily she's highly motivated by food and that's how I coaxed her out. Then she crawled beneath a cabinet and nearly got her head stuck (I had visions of crowbars!). She's a little Houdini. So, I'm tired and there is a football game tomorrow (GO HAWKS!) and I am teaching an all-day enameling workshop on Sunday at Bead Haven. I think i should go to bed. Any bets on how long Lily will let me sleep in?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I haven't posted so far this week, but I think I have a good excuse. Her name is Lily and she weighs less than 2 pounds, but boy does she have a lot of energy! We adopted her this week from Bonnie, one of my students and friends. It wasn't an easy choice for me to adopt another kitty. My heart is still so broken after losing my Maxie last year. But, when Bonnie contacted me about this little sweetheart, something inside me said that my other kitty Sophie would be happier with someone to play with. I know she misses Max as much as Paul and I do. No kitty will ever replace him, he was the only being that I can honestly say that I loved the first moment that I saw him. I think I will miss him for all of the rest of my days. But I'm beginning to see that having another little kitten in my life doesn't mean that I have to forget him, in fact quite the opposite. She reminds me of all of the goofy things he did as a kitten. She makes me smile and I think she'll be good for all of us.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Iowa 21, Penn State 10

Paul and Suzi and I watched the game tonight at our house. All week long, I had predicted, irrationally I suppose, that the unranked Hawkeyes would win against #5 Penn State. I don't know why. I think they have a lot of heart and drive and some decent talent, but Penn State had the home field advantage and the pre-game buzz was certainly that they would dominate. After the first 3 games that Iowa has played so far, I think they're far better that their unranked status. The game was at the huge, intimidating Beaver Stadium in State College Pennsylvania in truly awful weather. The book makers had Iowa losing by at least 10. Well, that didn't happen. Iowa stunned Penn State by beating them 21-10. I still don't quite believe that it was real. My throat hurts a little from all of the yelling, so I'm pretty sure that it really happened!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


A palette of enamel and fine silver hearts in various states of assembly, getting ready to be made into earrings for my fall shows. The finished ones are in the center of the palette.

A close up of copper hearts enameled in Sea Green, from Schauer Enamels. I love their enamel colors, they're luscious!

I'm teaching an torch-firing on copper enameling class at Bead Haven this Saturday, and fortunately or unfortunately (depending upon your perspective!) it's full. We've added an all day enameling class on October 17th from 10-4. We'll have time to get a little bit more involved in the nuances of enamels and work on combining colors too. Well have many delicious enamel colors to play with! If you've ever wanted to try enameling, I really encourage you to. I've been having great fun playing with it! If you're interested in the class on October 17th, please call Bead Haven at 319-247-2323

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Today was one of those picture perfect early fall days.

Paul enjoying meat on a stick. I think this a midwestern thing.

Paul in front of the bronze statue of Nile Kinnick.

Paul checking scores on his phone. We were a little early (like an hour!).

The Hawkeye Marching Band.

Final Score, 27-17.

It was a great day today in Iowa City. It was perfect weather, though a little warm for football. Arizona rolled into town for the afternoon. The Wildcats have a place in my heart because I love Tucson and even lived there for a short time. Also, their coach is Mike Stoops who was a player here during the Hayden Fry era (yet another of the many contributions Hayden Fry made to the sport of college football). The Cats looked tough in the first half, but the second half was mostly the Hawkeye's. We play Arizona again next year in Tucson and I think they'll be a force to be reckoned with. I'm gonna try to be there to see it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Riveted, enameled hearts.

I've been playing with enamels a lot lately and have been trying to find a cute way to combine them with silver. Since I love riveting and the look of riveting, so I decided to make silver overlays that are, you guessed it, riveted onto enameled copper. I didn't show a side view, but there are spacers between the silver and the enamel which adds a bit of height and dimension. I like them, they're cute and whimsical, but also kind of pointy and tough. This particular pair was for my friend Cindi's birthday yesterday (Happy Birthday, Cindi!) but I will have others in this and lots of different colors soon for my fall shows and my Etsy store.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Water-etched and molded pieces that my students did in class.

Oops! Almost forgot Sara's.

Mindy and my lovely assistant Anne.

Pat and Penny, working away.

I took my show on the road this past weekend to a store called Bead Happy in Cedar Falls, Iowa. We did mold making and water-etching. They did such a great job and I had a great time. I hope they did to. Thanks to Penny, Peggy, Sara, Mindy, Shallie, Monica, and Pat, I had a great time with you and it was wonderful to meet all of you. And thank you to my friend Anne who played the role of my lovely assistant. It was a great help and I really appreciated it.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I won't be watching the game today, I'm off to Cedar Falls to teach a class. I'll be there in spirit, though. I have Paul and others ready to text and email my iPhone during the game to keep me updated. Honestly, I really don't have problems with Iowa State. Ames is a perfectly lovely town and the vet school, one of the best in the world, is close to my heart as they took care of my kitty Max a couple of times in the past. But this one time every year, something comes over me and I just hate it when the Hawks lose to the Cyclones. The clones can win all of the rest of their games, just not this one, please. Feel free to email or text me updates during the game, I'd appreciate it. Unless of course you're a cyclone fan and you happen to be winning, then please, no gloating. Thank you.


"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember". -Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act 4 Scene 5).

Click here to see the names and faces of the nearly 3000 people who died 8 years ago today.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Earrings made with a mold made from a button that belonged to my Great-Grandmother.

A swirly water-etched piece.

This Saturday the 12th of September, I will be teaching a class at Bead Happy in Cedar Falls, Iowa. We will be making molds and pieces from those molds and unique water-etched pieces. Molds are a great way to try PMC for the first time. I have a collection of old buttons that are great for making molds as they're a prefect size for earrings. Students will be able to use these or small items that they choose to bring. We will also be making a water-etched piece in the same class. This is also a good technique for beginners as it's a bit more advanced than the molding and it creates a completely unique texture. We will also be learning about finishing and patination techniques on silver. The class is from 1-5 on Saturday. If you are interested in joining us please contact Bead Happy at 319-277-4386.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Paul loves his Hawkeyes.

The House That Nile Kinnick Built.

Half time.

Suz and Me. I look a little crabby don't I? Gary is hiding behind Suzi.


Once again, It's football time. It was pretty hot, so it didn't really feel like football, but still the Hawkeye train rolled on. We had a good time even though the Hawks nearly lost to a great UNI team. They pulled it out in the end by blocking not one, but two attempted field goals by the Panthers in the final second of the game. It was the weirdest finish that a lot of us had ever seen. That's the Hawks for you. It can never be simple. Maybe that's why we love them.
There were some other triumphs during the game besides football victories. There were a few personal technological ones too. Let's just say that I'm not the most technologically capable person out there. I got an Iphone recently and I'm determined to learn to use it to it's full capability. I haven't yet discovered all that this amazing thing can do. During the game I took all of the photos posted here (pretty good for a camera phone, huh?), posted some of them on Facebook, emailed a friend, texted another and surfed the internet for other football scores, all from inside the stadium. The only thing I didn't do was talk on it. It's so loud in there that I wouldn't have been able to hear a thing! Not too bad, if I say so myself. Maybe by the next home game in two weeks I'll post a blog entry from the game.

Friday, September 4, 2009


When Hayden chose to coach at Iowa over two other teams he said it was because of the passion of the fans. He mused that "Every time the University of Iowa would make a first down, the crowd would just erupt. And I thought, what in the world would they do if they ever scored a touchdown?"

Well, it's here again. Football season. This year the Hawkeyes kick off their season with an in state rival, the University of Northern Iowa, a tough team that nearly won their division's National Championship last year. They came within 40 seconds of doing so. The Hawkeye faithful are keeping our fingers crossed. The football frenzy kicks off today with he first annual Fry Fest which is honoring former Hawkeye football coach Hayden Fry. For those of you who don't follow football and don't know who Hayden Fry is, well you really should. Of course, he was one of the most successful coaches in college football history and is in the College Football Hall of Fame. He is the winningest coach in Iowa history. He turned Iowa, who had suffered through 17 consecutive losing seasons, in to a winning team. Under Fry, Iowa beat Iowa State 15 consecutive times, which makes me happy (sorry all of my Cyclone friends!). In his two decades at Iowa he produced countless players that ended up in the NFL and at least 10 players and assistant coaches that became college head coaches (including Kirk Ferentz, our current head coach at Iowa). But most significantly, when Fry was a new coach at SMU he recruited and played Jerry LeVias, the first African American player in the Southwest Conference. I suppose now a days, that doesn't sound like a big deal, but in 1966 in Texas, believe me, it was. The hate and abuse that LeVias and Fry suffered for that was terrible. Despite all of that Levias was an a star player who won many awards and went on to be the Houston Oilers Rokie of the year in 1969. Without Fry, Levias could never have broken down those barriers. Not too bad for a good ole boy from west Texas. Thank you Coach Fry.

Friday, August 28, 2009


The view out of the front of our hotel.

Seals lounging on Moonstone Beach.

More seals (these are for you Karen!).

Big Sur, on the way back to San Francisco.

Fog blowing over the top of the Point Sur Light Station.

I thought I'd post a few more pictures of our trip. We got home tonight. I was not quite ready to come home, but now that I am, I'm content. It's always good to be home. We missed Sophie a lot and she was very happy to see us too.
So, back to work for both of us, but I think I'll let my mind drift away to Moonstone Beach every now and then.