Thursday, December 31, 2009

Oops - I forgot (must be that darned Eclipse!)...

This was in my box this morning from Tut -
Have you ever noticed how folks instinctively know that creating wealth is much more fun than spending it, yet they dream more about spending it than they do about creating it?
Could it be, Teresa, they've momentarily forgotten that they're supernatural, that they can have whatever they want, and that life is but a dream?
2010 is all yours, baby -
    The Universe
Don't you love it?!
Now, I am off to fix a "special" celebratory drink:
  "Spiced Cow"
Heat a cup of milk (I prefer almond milk or coconut milk), throw in sugar to taste, remove from heat, sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg after you toss in your rum (I am using whisky. My Mother always told me that rum makes a person crazy. I still obey that rule.) and a few shakes of bitters (they are good for you) and a splash of vanilla. I suspect that Captain Morgans Rum may be very good in this concoction. A dark rum may also be splendid (and have a higher alcohol content than the Captain).
I might get crazy and top with whipped cream. Yee Haw!!
In Love, Peace and Beauty ....

A Blue Moon, an Eclipse and Brian Eno...

It is December 31, 2009.
Tonight is the Eve of the New Year, 2010. It is an auspicious evening for cosmic types - it brings us a blue moon (the 2nd full moon in one month - will not be another until 2028 - is that right?), as well as an eclipse. YIKES!!! I will NOT be driving and drinking on this night!!
The Eve of the New Year usually means drunken debauchery, staying up until midnight, kissing strangers and celebrating 'out with old and in with the new'.
For many years, I lived in the city of St. Louis. I would hear handguns being randomly fired (usually announcing a crime, not the New Year) or pots banged with kitchen utensils at the stroke of midnight.
Firing weapons is the announcement of choice in my new locale. Friendly Fire. I hope.
I used to look forward to a New Year....but for many years now, I have felt fear. As a friend of mine used to say - "Wonder what train God is going to roll down my track?".....
I can tell you this, if it is a pleasure car, I want to knock all the women and children aside and jump aboard!
I am growing weary of all work and no play. And time grows short, my friends....
2010 means another birthday rolling around. Just don't know what to make of that....the older I get, the less I know. There was a time in my audacious youth that I thought that I knew many things. Oh - to have that self-confidence, or just plain youthful folly back! Ignorance may truly be bliss.
I will probably be fast asleep before midnight thanks to chemical assistance.
I am going to take a cue from my style guru, Jerry and adopt this haute couture look (below). I have already donned a similar ensemble in honor of the evening's festivities. I don't care if Jerry does have better legs than me! Dammit! I am wearing it!

Lastly, I have been thinking about Brian Eno (who knows why?). He was one of my avant-garde, intellectual  heroes when I was in art school (happiest days of my life....the years ahead appeared to loom with infinite possibility. Clearly, I was delusional).
I recall his attractive cross-dressing in Roxy Music. 
I owned "Music for Airports".
I read one of his scholarly contributions to an art anthology - something about the fusion of all art forms. It made sense at the time.
Here is a recent quote:
“I'm struck by the insidious, computer–driven tendency to take things out of the domain of muscular activity and put them into the domain of mental activity. The transfer is not paying off. Sure, muscles are unreliable, but they represent several million years of accumulated finesse.”
Hmmm....I do not know what to think about this - was it not Eno who was light years ahead of everyone in the music industry? Did he not get there via "technical wizardry"-  not by physically playing an instrument? He pioneered ambient sound and computer-generated visual and sonic art.
See? Just goes to show you - the older I get, the less I know. Told you so!
I want to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a safe and happy new year- actually, a new decade!! 
I would also like to ask for the one thing that seems elusive - PEACE.
Let us each be the change we want to see in the world.....this is a widely quoted, but rarely practiced statement from Gandhi.
Yours in Peace, Love, Truth and Beauty ....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

End of the year

It is a cold, lazy, yet sunny Sunday afternoon.
Perhaps my lethargy is due to the fact that I ate and drank too much over the Christmas holiday. Or, more sinister and truthful is the real reason for my blatant laziness -  snow is in the weather forecast again.
I know, I know - many people have been hit with more difficult weather than my recently adopted homestead.  I should be silent like the night.
There was a time that I loved winter - snow, warts and all.  My favorable attitude has significantly waned this year.
I have held an obviously misguided notion that when most of the summer is spent near or in triple digit temperatures that the subsequent winter should be mild.
My belief has been proven wrong! 
Why did the Bush Administration categorically deny global warming?
I suppose that I could take some tiny amount of satisfaction in the fact that "W" resides not too far from my household and now he knows that global warming is real.
No satisfaction to be had in that presumption.
Meanwhile, I will have to warm myself by the fireplace (pictured below).
Thank Goddess for heat!

May you all be warmed by the fire within........

Friday, December 25, 2009

Peace and Goodwill on Earth

Today is Christmas Day.
Here in Dallas, Texas, we were blessed with the first widespread "White Christmas" since 1926.
I am watching the 2008 video  "Coco Chanel" with Shirley MacLaine.  Gabrielle a/k/a Coco Chanel changed the world! The guy from Clockwork Orange is in this video too. Hmmm - let's see...
There is a fire roaring in the fireplace (it is 20 some odd degrees) and I have drunk too much red wine. Ahhh....the holidays.... (sigh) fraught with emotions, expectations and the Ghosts of Christmas Pasts...
I would like to see the new film with Audrey Tatou also... "Coco Before Chanel"...another time.
If you have not guessed, Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel is one of my heroines. Sigh. To be that kind of person in the world - what if?
I am an unabashed Francophile ... Napoleon is one of my idols.
Happy Holidays - and let us all do what we can to make the world a better place.
Apologies for no problems this day,
May you be blessed with Peace, Love & Understanding....and the knowledge that each of us can make the world a better place!
In Truth & Beauty...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yule: Winter Solstice December 21st

I particularly love the winter solstice...really gives me a feeling of being grounded. I have my own traditions surrounding this day and I celebrate with joy and hope.
I set aside some time to do something creative. I light many candles. I drink some mulled wine. I lay in my bed and gaze at the sun as it sets in the west. I give thanks for its light and warmth.
That sunlight is some powerful stuff!
Consider the title of an old Sting album, "Nothing Like the Sun". Truer words may not ever have been written.
My solo celebrations actually keep me connected to the flow of life, my ancestral chain and the earth. They are a reason for me to consciously mark time and set intentions.
So, on this, the longest night of the year, I want to wish each and every one of you peace, contentment and the hope that comes with knowing that there is light after the dark.
While winter seems to have been anxious to descend on us this year (all that snow!), winter will  surely give way to spring. Until that glorious burst, I find it is a good practice to welcome stillness in winter. Meditation. Slowing down. Savoring. Hibernating. Taking care of myself and all the creatures that depend on me.
All living things need a period of rest!
Though I no longer live in an area blanketed by snowfall, I love the luxury of being able to cocoon. Winter and snow days are perfect for that....and it comes at a befitting time of the Roman calendar year. Reflection on the past year as we look forward to the next year.
I am so grateful and privileged to be able to write this to you this day.
I read an article on the marriage of scent and memory today. I was thinking about the smells of winter. Some cheering, some desolate, some nostalgic.
What smells do you associate with winter?
Memory is a trickster. Be careful! Be wary of the truth of that is a topic for another day.

Until that day, I will leave you with an image of the famous painting by Salvador Dali, "The Persistence of Memory" (1931). I was never a huge Dali fan, but his iconography and imagery are endlessly fascinating to dissect.
This winter, be aware of your bright place in the universe. Take time to care for yourself and others. Pull inwards. Conserve your energies.
Spring is just around the corner.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kandinsky in NY Times today

Very interesting article on Kandisnsky's concept of the circle and the sphere.
Another great Kandinsky piece from NY Times here
I love that the author makes mention of the fact that Kandinsky dressed like the college professor he was and sounded like a mystic when he was not thinking like a scientist. To my thinking, that is an apt description. Well done!
In truth, light and beauty....

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Remain in Light

I have not posted on this blog in a few weeks. I have been busy with my soapmaking - and blogging up a storm 'over there' - I find soapmaking to be very creative, energizing, fun, surprising and, yes, I am addicted. I have been making soap for over 5 years now. It never fails to engage me. One idea led to another and very soon my house, my studio and my garage looked like Mr. Wizard's Warehouse of Crazy Chaos.
I cannot recall exactly how I made my first batch of soap. I think that is odd! I believe I started with melt and pour (generally looked down upon by 'real' soapmakers) with luxe additives to achieve some  Ayurvedic custom blends. I graduated to the cold process method (which is my favorite). I am currently utilizing the hot process 'cooking' of soap which is straight out of the Middle Ages, Folks! I discovered rebatching and milling.
Sometimes I wonder if my love of soapmaking is greater than my love of metalsmithing. This new lover has created a personal dilemma for me. For 40 years, I have been a metalsmith.
I started making and selling jewelry at a very young age. I literally grew up playing with tools and listening to opera in my father's workshop. My grandfather was a blacksmith.
Metal defined me for most of my life.
Recently, my creative impulse simply prefers soaping to smithing. I have grown impatient with age - and I want to 'lighten up'.
Metal can be a tad - pardon me - "heavy".
Soap is lighthearted.
I cannot quite get away from the fire and drama of the forge and torch - or the gleam and glimmer of metallics. The hot process soap is quite medieval - and I love to swirl a bit of gold or copper minerals in my soap batches. My wrapping is 'gold leaf' paper!
I have even produced a line of Gem Crystal Soaps. Below is my Topaz/Citrine soap:

So, soaping is consuming me now. It does lighten my spirit. I love the way it morphs and changes as it cures. It always surprises me - not unlike the metal of my younger days. The soap materials are not as pricey as gold and silver. Soap allows me to play. If a batch fails, or displeases me - well - I can recycle it or simply toss it. Metal is not so forgiving. Metal can be a harsh taskmaster. Metal does not allow me to play. I have to wear my serious hat.
Soap might just be the ultimate alchemy. It basically requires water, sodium hydroxide and fat to produce something that I think can be magical.
I was actually thinking about my current enlightenment when I came across this post in Wikipedia - This is a piece about Talking Heads and their recording of "Remain in Light". I am flabbergasted that it was recorded in 1980! How could it have been so long ago? I still have the album, fer crissake!
Talking Heads were art students from Rhode Island School of Design who became celebrated musicians. I wonder if any of them still make visual art? I wonder if they felt conflicted?
I could almost conclude that life really is about 'going with the flow'. After all, that which does not change, dies - and then it changes in spite of itself.

Above is a mixed media composition of fine silver wire, steel, surgical gauze and feathers. It is entitled "Walking With the Angels". I was fond of this wall installation. It was the first in a series of similarly themed pieces. This piece literally felt as though it created was pure channeling. As I look at the piece now, I see the taut, tense pulling apart of the anthropomorphic form. It appears to be spinal - or birdlike - and it is being pulled in many directions and pinned down. captures exactly what I was experiencing in my life at the time.
This piece also has an ethereal and airy quality to it - as though it was infused with a light from within.
As the days of winter grow darker, let us all seek to remain in light. Especially the light within.
In peace, light and beauty....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Velvet Underground, Jeanne-Claude, Dylan and astrological musings

I was reading about artist, Jeanne-Claude's death today in Lemonwade. Jeanne-Claude was married to the famed artist, Christo. The blurb about Jeanne-Claude's death was brief, but the issue of Lemonwade was packed with interesting topics.
Here is the link -
There is an article about a Velvet Underground reunion, accompanied by a photograph of the band in much earlier days. Lou Reed, to my eyes, has never appeared visually young - quite odd when I think about it. In this particular photo, Lou does have a certain youthful freshness, but I would not say that he looks young.
Upon further contemplation, I realize that I do not think that a camera has ever caught Lou's smile. Perhaps this is the reason that he has never appeared to be youthful?
According to Pisces Lou, many parts of his life have been horrific and sad. I hope that Lori Anderson (a Gemini) can cheer that old soul up.
Another article points to Bob Dylan (another Gemini) releasing a Christmas album. Some people have stated that it is frightening. Ha! I would like to hear it. I need to hear it!
That Dylan boy (for every Gemini is in a constant state of youth - observe Sir Paul) certainly is a brilliant wordsmith. I read a rare Dylan interview some years ago wherein he disclosed that he could not write songs like "My Back Pages" anymore. Apparently, Dylan's muse - who worked 24/7, seemingly suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder back in the d-d-day - is worn out. A relationship with a Gemini can be exhausting...
I believe the exact stanza that Dylan referred to during his 'Man, I could not do this now if I wanted to' interview was this:

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin' high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps

"My Back Pages", Bob Dylan

Genius! All of the old Dylan songs are stellar gems.
Makes me wonder if Dylan and Jackson Pollock have more in common than we know...
While I am on the Dylan theme, I will relay that I finally watched the film, "I'm Not There". I wish that I had not known that Cate Blanchett was playing the "post-acoustic" Dylan. I simply could not suspend my knowledge of Cate's role-playing...what did I miss?
I know a bit about Bob Dylan's history and discography so I could follow the film - sorta, kinda - well - it was almost as though I was not there.....
Maybe that was the point.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Here is one of my favorite songs, courtesy of Peter Gabriel, an amazing artist who flies a bit under the popular radar. Written in 1986, I believe, it never fails to elicit a sensual, yet spiritual and uplifting response from me.
If you click on the link, you can listen to the song at Peter's website. The lyrics are reproduced below, and you can find them on the website also as the song plays.
I hope you enjoy it.

love I get so lost, sometimes
days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
when I want to run away
I drive off in my car
but whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are
all my instincts, they return
and the grand facade, so soon will burn
without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside
in your eyes
the light the heat
in your eyes
I am complete
in your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
in your eyes
the resolution of all the fruitless searches
in your eyes
I see the light and the heat
in your eyes
oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
the heat I see in your eyes
love, I don't like to see so much pain
so much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive
and all my instincts, they return
and the grand facade, so soon will burn
without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside
in your eyes
the light the heat
in your eyes
I am complete
in your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
in your eyes
the resolution of all the fruitless searches
in your eyes
I see the light and the heat
in your eyes
oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light,
the heat I see in your eyes
in your eyes in your eyes
in your eyes in your eyes
in your eyes in your eyes

Excerpted content above is from

Love, Light, Peace

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Is a recession a stop on the way....

to depression town? If so, is there medication for a 'recession'? Or is an 'intervention' or 'talk therapy' in order? As goes this great country, so go I ... or, so it seems.
Yesterday, I had some work sent back from a gallery owner (whose identity shall remain anonymous for the purposes of this discourse. Hereinafter, this person shall be referred to as "Nameless").
I will be the first to admit my personal flaws and character defects. Trust me, I know myself better than anyone currently living on the planet. Here is a mere start of some of my shameful admissions: I can be proud, vain and I do not like rejection. Oh - I also have committed every one of the seven deadly sins.
All in one day.
Thank you very much.
What is astonishing to me is that the work that was 'rejected' is the best of the bunch. Nameless mailed back work that contains genuine, semi-precious stones (and lots of them, Baby!) that are intrinsically worth more than the retail prices I imposed for a quick sale!!! Nameless retained pieces that were - shall I say - not "my best".
This is sufficient reason for me to complain that gallery owners and other types of merchants know their inventory. Nameless claims to know the clientele, but she does not give them much credit in the knowledge department.
Now, I can get a complex - or I can increase the prices of that work to its real value .... and I wager all will then sell.
I still do not understand the mindset of work that is simply overpriced deemed by many to be 'better'. That may have been true a few decades ago (especially for quality electronics), but in these times? Please. I cannot compete with trinkets made in other parts of the world and sold inexpensively here.
What is a misunderstood, self-respecting metalsmith to do? The answer is obvious - increase prices and quit being Ms. Nice Person to give others a break at this holiday season at my own expense. I need to give myself a break!
Now - about this "recession"....

Above is one of my favorite pieces. Not one of the most complex, or labor-intensive, but still a perennial favorite. It is a fabricated construction of sterling, patinaed brass (you know I love 'dirty metal'), married mixed metals and a cabochon garnet, bezel-set atop a dome of hollow, oxidized sterling silver. The fibula construction is a pin that was favored by the Celts and the Romans. I love to make fibulas....interesting visual geometry and the all-in-one pin is quite functional.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"This Is It"

The image above is a silver purse that I made many years ago. I wove the fine silver strands on a table loom, then fabricated the clutch and footing portions in sterling silver. The purse is approximately 12" wide x 9" length. Perfect for nights at the disco, don't you know? Ah...sigh...those were the days of fantasy and happiness. Life appeared to be a wonderful adventure - full of endless possibilities and time.
This purse has been in many fine, national exhibitions. It was awarded several prizes.
This one piece took four months of daily labor to make.
These days, I have discovered that I no longer have the patience to make work like that purse. I feel a constant, ever-so-subtle pulse driving me to make pieces of artistic expression that do not consume my entire life and do not compromise aesthetics. Hmmm....may be some conflicts therein...
In my other life, so many years ago, I also had a small business. Several small endeavors, actually: a custom business, a wholesale business and a retail business. The custom and the wholesale factions financed the retail occupation, as well as a nice gallery, "Artifice". Additionally, I published art criticism and worked as a metal technician for an art conservation operation. Whew! No wonder I am soooo tired now.
At one point, I had 11 sales representatives stationed around the country. to sell my wholesale line. I had two hands back in those days and today, (thank Goddess) I still have two hands. Back then, I found myself churning out pieces in "limited editions". Problem was that my idea of a limited edition is not the same as many of the merchants who bought my work at wholesale prices.
Simply put - I burned out.
The creative process morphed into a 24/7 job....and did I mention that there were no 'benefits'?
Today, I am in a position to be able to work on what I wish to work on and when I want to work on it. Sounds enviable, doesn't it? It is - and it is not. You see - I still have that voice in my head telling me that I need money and I need to be able to justify my studio time. Creativity gets stifled a tad for the sake of lucrative commerce.
Andre Breton, the great father of Surrealism, once wrote that 'the only time man is ever truly free is in his own mind'. I cannot find the exact quote at this moment, so I must I can assure you that statement shook me to the very core of my being. I am still shaken by the deafening truth of it.
I recently saw the film, "This Is It", the documentary of Michael Jackson's last tour preparations.
A few things struck me - Michael Jackson appeared thin, tired and weary. I wondered if he ever became bored by performing the 'same old songs'.
Michael Jackson made a statement during the film about the fact that the fans were expecting to hear the songs as "the way they wanted to hear them". Translation: not too much improvisation, thank you very much.
That statement proved to me that this man's knowledge of 'the industry' and himself as 'product' was extraordinary and clearsighted. Michael Jackson was able to sustain an exceptional and quite brilliant artistic career with many ups, downs, and headstands, for so many decades. That is remarkable, a true testament  to the man's life force, creativity and sheer vitality.
Personally, I think his music and dance became more mature, sophisticated and elegant in the 1990s and early 2000s. Sadly, many people dismissed his artistic genius at the very height of his powers due to his alleged involvement in certain scandals.
I saw a Twitter post by an obviously young child-fan that she was "disappointed" in the film, "This Is It" because there was not even a decent, full-on Moonwalk. Come on, Child! The MAN had been doing the backslide ('Moonwalk') since before you, Twitter child, were born! Does she really believe that Michael Jackson needed to rehearse a moonwalk?!
I wonder if the only time Michael Jackson may have been able to feel truly alive and creative during his  elaborate and precision productions was in the improvisation of his own dance in the moment and heat of live performance.
Then I started thinking about 'time', 'product', 'limited edition' ...... and freedom.
By the way - I lost the purse during a move many years ago. I do not miss it, but I wonder where it now calls home. Everything in this life passes - no matter how hard we struggle to hang on to it. Perhaps we miss the bright, glittering things (and people) the most. The world may grow dimmer without the flash of that brilliance.
Michael Jackson, May you finally Rest in Peace, my Brother.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Hallowmas!


Happy Hallowmas, or Halloween, or Witch's New Year or Feast of the Dead! Whatever you call it, October 31st is a very interesting day to me. Today is the day we honor our dead, express gratitude for our heritage, recall our ancestors and our many gifts bestowed upon us by those in our blood lineage who have proceeded us in life and death. Blood, like metal, is magnetic, by the way....those who share our blood line magnetize us even as we may resist the attraction and pull. Interesting thought to ponder.
Today is a festive and a creative day! How much fun is it to be anyone or anything that you desire on this day? How creative to dream up a costume and put it together!
For these reasons, and many more, Halloween is my favorite day of the year.
I believe in magic, fairies, ghosts, spirits and goblins. I have an understanding of "the old ways". I know the power of good - and of evil.
I am of Celtic heritage.
Perhaps this is why fire and the forge excite me?
It is documented that the Celts were so war-like (I have a bit of a warrior inside me too!), that our bonfires come from the Celts....except their fires were "bone fires". Use your imagination here, People.
The above image is a classic Celtic design (triad) that I designed, made and interpreted as a stering silver pendant for my friend, Tami.
It always shocks me how modern the Celtic designs and symbols appear. They are ancient, but  forever young. Perhaps there is something in the symbology that most of us relate to? The designs appear the 'freshest' when there is a bit of imperfection to them after execution. Overworking a Celtic symbol is, I believe, a sin.
A few years ago, I was most fortunate to see the ancient collections of the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. Phenomenal. Such sophisticated metalsmithing (mainly goldsmithing) - unparalled! Brilliant designs and knock-your-socks-off craftsmanship. Timeless, indeed. Hollow fabrication, fibulas, jewelry and vessels that had me wondering how the ancient ones created such remarkable works! To this day, with all of the new technology, I do not think that I have seen any collection of smithing as outstanding as this!
So, with humility, honor and gratitude, I leave you with this thought:

The noblest share of earth is the far western world
Whose name is written Scotia in the ancient books:
Rich in goods, in silver, jewels, cloth, and gold,
Benign to the body in air and mellow soil.
With honey and with milk flow Ireland's lovely plains,
With silk and arms, abundant fruit, with art and men.

Worthy are the Irish to dwell in this their land,
A race of men renowned in war, in peace, in faith.

-Donatus, Bishop of Fiesole, mid-ninth century.
Translated by Liam de Paor

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Om malas and such...

I finished a few of my "Om Malas". I really enjoy making these bibelots. They are versatile, beautiful and can be personalized for each user/wearer/bearer. A mala is a bracelet-like, or rosary (necklace-like) collection of prayer beads. I have a few in my personal collection - wooden beads, carnelian stone beads and others. They are used as a tool in meditation or prayer.
My handmade malas are personalized, but bare bones, so that the recipient can add his or her own meaningful materials. I start with a drawing of the charm, seal, symbol, sigil, or amulet that I think most befits the recipient, or the dedicated purpose of the mala (Archangel, Om, Zodiac sign). The main amulet is typically made of brass, but I have used sterling silver and copper. I pierce the design into the brass using a jeweler's saw. The disc is hammered into a convex form. The piece is then stamped with my mark, and perhaps the title of the symbol.
I like a patinaed or oxidized finish, so I experiment with the coloration. I then choose a tassel, beads, crystals and various adornments that compliment the mala's dedication. For instance, in the above malas I chose rose quartz for a pink hue to enhance the love vibration of the Om symbol. The main disc was flame-colored, then hardened to get rosy tones. The other mala (Tamil Om) features a brass endless spiral and some gorgeous peach-toned agates and crystals, as well as the patinaed brass.

Above is another Om mala, resplendent with gold and deep red. This mala has a silky, generous tassel, a large wooden bead and genuine red garnet crystals. Again, the Om symbol is colored with a lovely, turquoise green patina. I think this mala is rich-looking. I was inspired by the Tulku/Tibetan monk robes of saffron and dark red. On afterthought, I should have created the Tibetan Om symbol (which is different than the above). Oh well, that is an idea for another day.
I love these pieces - and that is saying a lot. I do not like everything that I make! These malas, to my eyes, glow with a life of their own.
After these creations are turned over to their new owners, all kinds of delightful things happen. One client wears her mala around the neck with a handwoven cord. Another friend promptly clipped hers on her handbag. Another draped her mala around a Quan Yin statue in her entry hall.
Me? I display my own collection on the walls of my home.


I am so happy that I had to put my pliers down for a few minutes to share this info! A Blog Roll, please!
I am excited to announce that Critical Alchemy has been mentioned in the blogroll of, an opinionated view of arts and entertainment!! is published in that great mecca of all things artistic, stylish and cultural, New York City. Check out and see for yourself!
As always, thank you for following Critical Alchemy. Your interest, readership, commentary and views are invaluable.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Show on Wednesday, Uriel, Om malas and Wim Wenders...

Chandra will display my products at the Art & Craft show at TXU Energy, which is is fast approaching (Wednesday, Oct. 28th). It is difficult for me to grasp that it is nearly the end of October, 2009. For some odd reason, I had a time-space interruption around Y2K. Oh well, as Albert Einstein would undoubtedly say, "time is relative".
I am finishing up some malas with the "Om" symbol pierced into the amulets. The Om shapes are in various translations and visually lyrical. I will post photos here when I have completed the few that I will present on Wednesday.
The above photo is a mala with amulet/sigil dedicated to Archangel Uriel. I made this mala for my friend, Janice. Janice is a very talented Lightworker, who maintains a gorgeous website, Shining Lite. I am pleased with the way this mala turned out. The pale gold background certainly befits Uriel.
Uriel's name means "Light of God". You can call on Uriel to partner with you on any new project. This Archangel also can show us the fire and light of true love. Uriel can shed light on a situation that we may 'be in the dark' about.
I have always been fascinated with the angelic realm, art, symbols and all things beautiful. I have endeavored to see 'beyond the veil', as it was called in my paternal Irish family. When I was a small child, this ability to "see" and "feel" used to frighten me. I shut it out for many, many years. Today, I find great comfort in this ability.
Did you see Wim Wenders film, "Wings of Desire"? An unforgettable film - check it out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thinking about Archangel Michael & Michael Jackson

Above is an image of a prayer mala that I made for my dear friend and gifted Lightworker, Maria Peth. This is a bracelet mala that holds the sigil/seal of Archangel Michael. It is composed of patinaed brass, cobalt beads, brass and fiber. Archangel Michael's name means "He who is like God". He is widely believed to work with a number of angelic helpers who are rightly called "The Band of Mercy". It is for good reason that Michael is the patron and protector of police and  fire fighters. He is 'the Big Gun'! You can call on Archangel Michael whenever you need help in a seemingly impossible situation. Visualize his gorgeous color of cobalt blue to assist you in invoking Michael.
I think about another Michael a lot these days - Michael Jackson.
I was fortunate enough to see Michael Jackson perform in the 1980s. I had watched him from afar all of his life. I collected Jackson 5/MJ records, 8 tracks, cassettes and CDs. I recall being happy to have tickets to see him in St. Louis at the old Arena, but nothing prepared me for what I saw that night. Wow! Precision. Perfection. Magic. He danced as though he was skating on ice. He made it look so easy! I had never seen anything like it. I know that I will never see anything close to that performance again.
I have never failed to lose my respect for this man's artistic genius. He was a rare gem, a shooting star. Michael Jackson was a wildly creative, gifted talent who could see into the gap - see possibilities that the rest of us could not. And, thanks to the medium of video, Michael Jackson could give us a visual glimpse of his magic visions. Video? I will take it - but no one could beat a Michael Jackson "live" performance - absolutely no one.
I think about Michael Jackson these days in terms of his fear and his courage. When it seemed that most of the world turned against him, Michael Jackson kept pursuing his art. In my opinion, his strongest work was "Dangerous", largely overlooked and created in the midst of controversy. His work in the 90s and 2001 was the best of his long career! "Thriller"? Groundbreaking. Later work? Mature and polished. Definitely.
I think about Michael Jackson preparing for his last tour. I imagine that he felt crippling fear, but he, always the disciplined and consummate professional, persevered.
Some of Michael Jackson's work remains with the world. I think the world misses him. The world needs the performers, the magicians, the believers in Neverland, the artists. It is through these people that so many others in despair can be lifted up with the hope that life really is worth living - even if it is for a short time.
Michael Jackson has inspired me to work in my studio again. Plain and simple. My latest creations hearken back to my roots - a tad raw, but with a strong element of fantasy. When I was young, I sat in my family's living room, 're-purposing' my poor Mother's rosaries and jewelry. Sorry, Mom.
Thank you, Michael Jackson, for helping me overcome some of my many fears and letting me see that anything really is possible.....I had forgotten.

A new week, a new necklace, a show coming up soon!

Below are two images of a necklace that I am working on for a show on October 28th. This is a simple beaded construction with an amethyst and sterling silver cross.  The cross can be taken off and worked with a simple cord. I like that versatility. The necklace has a slight Victorian accent. What gives the contemporary edge is the sheer volume of the curtain-like drape of glass beads and wire, juxtaposed with the antique look of the chunky amethyst pendant. It also has that high-low/new-old aesthetic that is pleasing to my eye. I would wear this necklace. It would perk up my basic, nearly all-black Fall and Winter wardrobe.
P.S. The glass beads are a dusky purple. I am still a neophyte with digital images!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday, Kandinsky, sights, sounds and the spiritual path

One of my prized possessions is an old, dog-eared, yellowed copy of Concerning the Spiritual in Art, a book written by Wassily Kandinsky in 1911. This treasure was a gift from one of my college art professors. This book changed my life.
Widely credited as a theorist, the Moscow-born Kandinsky studied law and ecomomics before beginning to paint at the age of 30. He is often cited as having created the first abstract painting, but this is not entirely accurate. More correctly, Kandinsky was the first "non-objective" painter. "Non-objective" literally means 'not (derived from) an object'. In other words, Kandinsky freed the rest of us mortals from our reliance on realism.
A painting can be color and shape. A sculpture can be pure form. When you choose to create an object, it can be poetry. Art can and should be an experience that moves the observer on a soul level.
From his book's title, one can assume that Kandinsky saw art and a spiritual knowing as intertwined , all-encompassing and essential as breath. Well, the Great Man had me at the title!
To further cement my lifelong love, Kandinsky also proffered a theory that has a beautiful, true meaning for me: "music is the ultimate teacher". To that end, he wrote numerous essays on the analogy of color to shape, sound, note, volume - you name it - Kandinsky forever fused music and visual art in my mind.
Turns out, everything really is everything.
The above image is a reproduction of Kandinsky's famous "Composition VII", a painting from 1913 that he called his 'most complex' work. I call it a virtual cacophony of sight and sound.
I think Kandinsky's most complex work was Wassily Kandinsky himself.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What to do when it rains....

Another Tuesday, raining again, as so many of the recent days. I am a person who loves rainy days - especially  rainy Autumn days when the temperature dips ever so slightly. Today, there was no better place for me than my studio. I puttered around with my trinkets, lit only by work lights, and was in the good company of decent soundtracks (several of The White Stripes, as well as Dylan's latest).
Today, I did not feel like filing, sawing, hammering and soldering.
I did some "beading" work today. I am not a "beader", but I often distinguish my work with offbeat combinations of beads, gemstones, mixed materials and offbeat placements.
The above photo is a necklace that I created with glass, crystals, sterling silver and nickel. I have distressed it slightly, oxidizing and twisting the sterling wires to achieve the look of an artifact that is pleasing to my eye. 
I like this particular necklace.
There is something about the necklace's composition that looks unique to me - not crafty or mass-produced.  It is  important to have a finished product that looks handmade - not homemade. This, my Friends, is much harder to achieve than it may seem.
I am not a fine jeweler. I am not a craft person or an artisan. I am a metalsmith who often makes "wearable art". I justify my time and materials in a way that, I hope, represents style with a higher aesthetic.
I can buy fashion - style is priceless.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A quiet day - a simple gift

I made a few men's bracelets from stainless steel, culled from a recycled bicycle chain a few months back. Stainless is great to wear because of easy clean-up, but a bit difficult to discipline when working with it. I used sterling silver, commercial clasps that seriously lock for these bracelets.
I have a photo (below) here of a bracelet that was given as a surprise gift to a sweet man who manages a favorite Indian restaurant in Richardson.
I hope that he likes it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Picasso, creating like a child & the quest for perfection

Picasso is credited with declaring something to the effect of: 'It took me months to learn to draw/paint like a master and a lifetime to learn to draw/paint like a child'.
This is a profound statement for any artist, no matter the chosen media.
The child's expression is immediate, unencumbered, innocent, original, direct, real. Many times, creative people get that pure, childlike essence drained from their work in the name of 'perfection', very much to the detriment of their work.
I am a 3rd generation metalsmith. For most of my early training, I strove in vain for perfection in rather complicated fabrications.
Metal is a harsh mistress. It does not always allow the artist to control it. Often, one must submit to its demands.
One day, it dawned on me that I would never achieve perfection. Why would I want a perfect piece? It is evidence of the maker's hand that elevates the earthly work to rarefied art.

True and unique beauty is found in imperfection.
From that day forward, I decided to consciously distress and disfigure my work. A series of such work was met with critical disdain at a certain exhibition. Scandalous craftsmanship! Well...that was the point - I wanted to make art, not crafts. The battle had lines of definite division.
The irony? I effortlessly sold every piece in that "flawed" collection.
With all the machined pieces in the world, a handmade composition is a prized treasure.
We are delighted by that sublime beauty that comes from the human imperfection or nature.
I regret to admit that emotionally, I still have the desire for absolute perfection in my work. Rationally, I know this perfection is ultimately unattainable.
Nonsensical, but therein lies a hint of my own imperfection, which I must learn to accept.
(Above photos: Phul Sigil Amulet & Mala, collection of Ms. P. O'Neill; Brass, pearls, abalone, fiber; 2009 and
"Roadwork Badge"; Sterling, brass, copper, yellow gold, nickel; ca. 1980)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jackson Pollock, Jack White, Neil Young, Susan Powter & Marcel Duchamp

Every artist has times when the Muse takes a sabbatical.
I often think about Jackson Pollock's downward, alcohol-fueled spiral after his wildly successful "drip" (action) paintings. In my youth, I never understood how Pollock's once-upon-a-time brilliance could be dimmed, and ultimately extinguished.
As I fumble around my studio these days, the answer to my Pollock pondering comes to me in one word - fear. I theorize that Pollock was afraid that his post-action work would not be 'as good'. His solution? Don't produce any work and dull the creative flow with massive quantities of alcohol.
After incredible success, Pollock was unable to complete any artwork for many years until his fatal car crash.
Today, I think I understand Pollock's fear.
I often remedy my own fear of failure by observing Jack White and Neil Young, two artists who take risks by creating unique, sometimes quirky, not always sure-fire, successful pieces. Their inspiration to me lies in the fact that both of these musicians keep creating, despite commercial constraints. To my ears, both White and Young sound fresh, youthful, fearless! And when they get it right - well....words cannot paint that sound or capture that feeling.
Lesson to me? Do not fear failing - fear the times you do not even try.
Susan Powter has written this: "Motivation is in the process of doing". I have this 'just do it' nugget posted in 3 places of my home and my studio. 
Then again, a good game of chess may be a much-needed distraction from the studio. Consider Marcel Duchamp, the famous Surrealist, who declared that he was retiring from the avant garde. He announced that he wanted to play chess for the rest of his life.
Now, that move took courage.
(Above photo is a candelabra created for Mr. & Mrs. Bill Fitzgibbons at request of Mr. Creighton Michael; Brass, copper; ca. 1984)