Saturday, April 26, 2008

Artists Foundation Survey - Stand Up and Be Counted

Short post today - but very important, especially for MA artists. The Artist Foundation in MA is currently running a survey for all artists (full-time, part-time and "hobby" artists). The survey is called "Stand Up and Be Counted" and is going to be used to show the state legislators that we are a constituency to be recognized. It is modeled on the 2007Minnesota "Artists Count" survey. To take this survey (only takes a few minutes) go to There is an optional section on your 2006 reported income but you are in no way obligated to complete that section. They also break it up into sections so if you only have time to fill in section one your survey still counts!If you are not from MA you might want to look at this survey and push your state's arts organization to conduct a similar survey.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Design what you know

Based on the concept used by writers to "write what you know", design what you know really means design your art from what lies deep inside of you. The best art comes from designing from your heart.

I started playing around with the idea of jigsaw puzzle pieces as a basic shape for some jewelry based on ideas in Cece Wire's book on Metal Clay Creative Metal Clay Jewelry. As I played around with this concept, I started seeing the corner of a puzzle with a loose piece. I have childhood memories of the card table going up in the living room after the Christmas tree came down and Mom, Dad and I would start working on some 1000 piece puzzle. We always put the edges together starting at the corners and then the first piece to go in not part of the edge or the corner always seemed so difficult to find, So often we tried to fit in a piece that looked right but was just a little different then the one that really fit there. A the same time I was mulling these thoughts in my mind, I also became aware that the organization "Autism Speaks" uses a symbol that looks like a puzzle piece that also looks like a person.

My beautiful and bright oldest god-child has Asperger's Syndrome, a type of highly functional Autism. She has a high IQ, plays the violin, can tell you everything and more about the environment and grey wolves, is a Girl Scout, and always makes me smile when we see each other. But she had to work hard to learn to fit in socially - with her mom and dad's strong efforts to make the school system address her needs while still recognizing her intelligence. The design I had in mind came together, the piece I created is a pin from PMC with one loose piece hanging from the three puzzle pieces making up the corner. The hanging pieces "almost" fits right but not exactly. I call it "Trying to Fit In" to recognize my god-daughter's efforts to learn how to handle the social challenges that Asperger's present to her. I am proud of all she does and continues to do as she grows in talent and social skills.

This was my first pin and I used a technique new to me to make my own pin back from sterling silver. I had a few challenges with attaching it and finally decided to use depletion to bring up the silver in the pin back (using heat to raise up a layer of fine silver on the surface of the sterling) and then fire it in place with more PMC. I learned a lot with doing this and will make this pin again now that I have worked out the challenges I had making this. When I wear it and people comment on it, I use it as an opportunity to talk about my jewelry designs AND Asperger's Syndrome (and to brag about both of my God-daughters).

So what have you created from your heart? I would love to hear about it - please feel free to add your story to the comments section.