What an Expresso Cup Taught Me About Prosperity

I was walking in downtown Asheville last Monday, and it was cold.

There were two young men playing their guitars and singing, and they were pretty good, and dedicated to their art, considering the weather. 

But as I stopped to enjoy their music, I noticed that their tip jar was a TINY expresso cup, sitting on top of a saucer. There was one lone dollar bill rolled up, sticking out of the cup about halfway, and maybe a few quarters. 

Instantly, a wave of repulsion washed over me, surprising me with its strength. 

I turned away from them and walked on to my next destination, stunned at how I felt energetically about the paucity of that small cup meant to receive appreciation for their music. 

And it has stayed with me all week.

What size is your receptacle for receiving? It's a question I have been considering all week.

I want to address my feeling of repulsion that was so overwhelming I had to walk away from the music.

The moment that wave hit me, was the moment I understood that they had little to no value for what they were presenting to the world with their particular gift of making music.

Before I saw the tiny cup...I was charmed by their music, and felt that it was good. After I saw the cup, my initial attraction to what they were offering went the opposite way. 

It turned to repulsion. I was very uncomfortable in their presence because of the lack of value they put into their offering as it pertained to receiving. 

There was no room in their cup for me to show my appreciation. They were, in effect, telling me to shove off. 

As artists, whether we write, draw or manipulate metal, how big is our receptacle for receiving?

Do you have a container that is large enough to receive appreciation for the things you put out into the world so that it continues to attract prosperity?

Or does the small size of your container repulse others from supporting you?

I've thought about how I value my own time and output, and whether or not my capacity to receive needs a serious overhaul. 

Self deprecating comments about what you do, energetically, will attract those that feel the same way, and repulse those that think your work is good and valuable enough for them to want to purchase. 

Sellers that don't offer numerous ways for compensation, like offering to take credit cards, often lose out on valuable sales. 

I needed dog food last week, and ran down to my local pet store. For whatever reason, there was a poorly written, handmade sign on the door letting people know they would only be taking checks and cash. 

I felt, energetically, the lack of respect and value of the service they provide, in both the content and delivery of that message.

And it made me think also about the receptacle the pet store uses for the check out process. I always feel uncomfortable checking out because the check out area is in an awkward position at the front of the store.

It is like it is trying to hide. 

And there is always confusion about which register I am supposed to go to in order to check out. 

I walked away, and went next door to a health food grocery store instead because their receptacle for me to give them money for what I needed was bigger, more joyful and always appreciated by the staff they employ. 

On a personal level, I've been thinking about the receptacle I've been building lately to receive more support for my work on a physical, as well as personal, level. 

Moving into a larger space is sure to help me attract those that want to learn about making jewelry and purchase handmade jewelry that is made from my own inner explorations and excavations about my life experiences. 

I now have the space to receive them physically, as well as heart-fully, too.

I opened up a Square account last week to better serve my customers that would rather pay with their cards in person and not shop online.

With a bigger space, we get to connect offline and I'm grateful for the opportunity to share what I do with the people that wear my jewelry...in person. I am now in a much better position to connect with them on a deeper level.

The house that Shayne and I will eventually purchase must have either a big guest room or even a mother-in-law apartment, so that I can receive guests. I want them to have a comfortable, warm experience staying with me in my home. 

If I have the space to receive them, I am confident they will come. 

For prosperity to flow, gratitude and love for what one receives, as well as what one can give, is paramount to the equation. 

Having gratitude, love and value for what you do and what you bring forth acts as an energy attractant to others.  

But once you attract them, make sure you offer them a way to continue that back and forth flow of energy by having a receptacle big enough to handle it. 

Otherwise, stagnation and repulsion happens...

And what is trying to be built, won't. 

Applying this line of thought to my relationships with others has been enlightening too...if our heart space isn't big enough to gracefully handle and receive love and appreciation from others, it can repulse them like that expresso cup did to me on Monday. 

A lot to consider during this season of reflection as it pertains to giving and receiving. 


Studio Grand Opening

The last month has been a flurry of activity for me...painting this huge new studio, getting electricity put in, moving all of my work stuff out of the storage unit and into this building, along with getting ready for the opening tomorrow with jewelry ready to offer for Christmas presents...

I am pretty much tuckered out. 

But I am loving all the energy and excitement about finally realizing a long held dream to be in the River Arts District of Asheville permanently. 

It all started a few years ago during a Studio Stroll in Asheville. I was instantly smitten by the wide open studios and the vibe of artists intent on making a living doing with they love. 

I've wanted this for a long, long time. 

And tomorrow, my jewelry will be in a case; I will be working on my red truck stool, listening to music, talking with my studio partner, Jessica; and being in my complete bliss

I've been working late all week, and going in early.  I love our new space so much that I didn't want to go home tonight, even though dinner and a foot rub were waiting for me. 

That's how you know you are where you need to be...it's not like I am working at all...there is more to do, more to learn, just...more.

Our studio is going to be a great place for one-on-one instruction and sharing what I know with those that want to learn. We procured a big workbench this week that came loaded with studio equipment that made both of us drool...a mini-press, an old, but solidly built drill press, a hammer sawhorse, an anvil and too many other goodies to list here. 

People were wandering in today...looking at our space, our creative playroom and were buying jewelry!

I am so giddy...so happy...and so TIRED! 

But in the best possible way. 

If you are in town, please come see us...we have lots of twinkle lights and jewelry for you!!!




Are you on your level creatively? Or is it time to jump?

Here's a common problem with creatives...

Is it time for me to jump up to my next level to fully express my ideas? 

How do you know if it is? And if it is, what do you do about it?

I've been making jewelry for about 10 years now. I started out stringing beads. I wasn't interested in selling my beaded creations, it was enough to just work with the different little pieces of artwork that I enjoyed collecting when I got off of work.

But then, Shayne and I left Oregon and went traveling around the world with his business. I was jobless, and freaked out about what to do next. 

I saw a psychologist for a few weeks, and she told me to just follow what I was interested in doing in my spare time, and let it unfold.

We had just moved from Singapore to Houston when on a car trip, Shayne suggested I figure out what to do with myself now that we were back in the States. I had an amazing awakening in Singapore about wire jewelry after seeing some old tribal wares in a little shop in in the Arab part of of the city. 

I wanted to add wire to my little beaded creations, so I bought a book and for my birthday, Shayne bought me a class in Louisville about wire wrapping. That was my first opportunity to jump to my next level. 

It involved investing in different tools...and buying silver wire and actually using it was a huge leap. I was initially afraid I would ruin the wire and be out the money. A terrible Catch-22 for newbie creatives is allowing ourselves to make shitty things out of our expensive supplies while we learn. 

I wire wrapped for a long time. It allowed me to experience my first outdoor show in New Orleans. That was a new jump...actually putting my jewelry out there in public to be judged worthy enough to pay money for was a huge leap. I had to learn about tents, props and displays..filling out show applications, getting a local tax license...all sorts of new things in order to reach for a new level of my expression. 

It was fear and breathless anticipation all mixed into some unidentifiable emotion for me at the time. I was beginning to marry what I do with who I am.

After a while, I felt that inner tug again to jump up to a new level by incorporating sheet metal and soldering to my jewelry skill set. I took baby steps...had to conquer those feelings of "Am I worth the expense of learning? Am I worth the expense of new tools?" "What if there is no appreciable payoff to jumping up?"


All of those feelings are part of the process for many of us that make jewelry, paint, quilt, sew, knit, whatever. 

The important thing is to jump when you can't get the curiosity out of your mind about what you 'could' do if you just knew how, or if you had the right tools or even if you have a dedicated creative space in order to find out what you can do! 

I spent two weeks with an amazing art jeweler in Black Mountain a few years ago when Shayne and I were traveling. It cost me some money and my time, but having that level of access to someone that had all the tools and the knowledge about how to use those tools to express himself was hands down the best way to jump up to my next level that I have ever experienced. 

It opened my eyes and imagination in ways that I would never learn from a book...no way. I needed some serious hand holding and one-on-one time with someone to see what the possibilities were for my own growth. How to use a flex shaft to make my work more professional...how to carve in wax...how to find a caster...how to fabricate a ring with prongs and how to cut cabs...I learned and was exposed to more in that two weeks than I could explore deeply in a lifetime. 

I learned that when you restrict your materials, your imagination has much more room to roam. That a design problem was an opportunity to travel down a road much less traveled than what you can find in a tutorial...that your solution could BE a new tutorial!

Every time I have spent time and money on jumping to my next level, the payoffs trickle up and up and up...they have lead me to levels never before imagined back when I was putting a bead on the end of a headpin and celebrating my ability to make something with my hands. 

So...that is why I am now offering one-on-one workshops that are based on what YOU want to know more about regarding metalworking and I'll be there to hand-hold, support and share what I have learned so far while you do it.

Those of you that have taken the few classes I have taught know that I am an open book. I don't hold back, but I will meet you where you are and we will forge ahead discovering what is currently holding you back from expressing what you dream about in jewelry. 

I know. I have been there. Many times, in fact. Purchasing Marie Forleo's $2K B-School was a huge investment jumping up to that next level in developing a website business!

But that investment is still paying off as I gain more knowledge about how to present myself online to attract those that I most want to work with...and if you are reading this...you are who I am talking about!

Ok...I have much more to write about on this subject of levels...it has been showing up in my life A LOT over the last few weeks. But for now, I wanted to share with you a bit about my own journey, and that I am making myself and a metalworking studio available for you if it is your time to jump. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving...I am so grateful for the life I have, the friends I have met and the ongoing adventures I am having that metalworking has afforded me. 

Follow your feelings...your feet will follow and your heart is always the best indicator about what to do next. 

Just listen to it..and act if the not acting is more painful than staying where you are.

Click the photo below for more information about private studio instruction...



How to texture rings

Feel free to pin this little reminder!

Feel free to pin this little reminder!

I received an order this week for three of my skinny textured sterling silver rings, and thought I would share some of my tips for texturing rings.

One of the ways you can vary your design, or add some interest to a really simple design, is to add texture. 

I am crazy for texture! I am always looking for new tools to use to add more texture and dimension to my work.

Yesterday, while in my soon-to-be old studio (yes, I am moving, again...), I decided to use the leather sandbag to shape my skinny rings instead of the ring mandrel holder I have been using for years. 

Oh. My. God.

It was so much easier to make those rings by placing the ring mandrel with the ring on the leather sandbag and THEN chasing it with my hammer. 

The sandbag, acting similar to a pitch pot, grabs the mandrel and the ring at the same time and gives you more stability. You can move the metal easier and have more control. 

When I make skinny rings, I generally solder the ring about 2 sizes smaller than the actual size I need. I texture my skinny rings a lot, and need those two extra sizes to account for the shaping and texturing that I do to my rings. 

Another great tool to use is, of course, masking tape. 

Once I get the out ring mandrel portion of the shaping and texture finished, I move to my bench block, where I flatten out the ring with my chasing hammer just a bit, so I have a small, flat portion on each side of the ring to add texture too. 

Once I have it flattened enough, then I tape down one side to the bench block and use my metal punch, or assorted texturing tools to finish adding lines, dots, or stampings to each side. 

Nobody really sees the texture that I put on either side of the ring unless the ring comes off of the finger. 

But like good underwear, YOU know that it is there...and it just adds more energy to the little ring. Plus, it looks rather old and weathered when you take the ring off at night ( which I do!) and it gives the wearer a certain feeling of fulfillment when she slides it back on in the morning. 

Small, intimate details are those little pearls of happiness that can make your day great or just so-so!


Swirly Hoops Tutorial in Step by Step Wire Jewelry Magazine!

Early this summer, I was contacted by the Denise Peck, editor of Step by Step Magazine about being one of the 2015 Artists of the Year for the magazine...well, heck yeah I would be interested!

Every two months starting last August, I have a new tutorial due for next year's publications. All in all..there will be six new tutorials that I am responsible for. 

Oh the pressure to come up with something that is new and different for you to try at home!

I love hoops..but wanted to try something that was fun and funky...and that would act as a transitional project for those of you wanting to try a simple solder with your butane torch. 

I was really happy with this first project that is now available for PRE-ORDER on Interweave's site for you to try with this new issue of Step by Step Wire magazine!

There are lots of ways to personalize them via your imagination...you can use different wires choices and gauges, textures and even the shape!

I painstakingly show in precise steps how to make earrings like this in the tutorial, and I can't wait to see what others end up doing with their interpretation of this idea. 

Things to consider...

  • Adding a hole to the bottom of them and attaching a favorite bead
  • Using copper or brass wire
  • Different texturing techniques
  • Making them bigger or smaller (technique works either way!)
  • Wire wrapping a portion of the hoops as a focal point
  • Connecting a small hoop at the top for a double hoop look

Use you imagination and see what you can come up with! One thing is for certain..these hoops will get a lot of attention...I don't think I've seen any quite like them before!

Have fun with this technique and if you get a chance, email me a photo of what you come up with in the next few months and I will do a showcase post with the photos I get. Maybe even a contest of some sort?

I'm open to any and all ideas as I celebrate being a featured artist for the magazine this year...your ideas are welcome!

Go crazy! Individualize them in ways I can't even imagine!





My Deepening Creative Process

Where do you find your inspiration? 

I just got back home after spending a week with my father in East Tennessee. While eating breakfast at a local diner before I left him, Dad asked me where I get my jewelry ideas from.

"My life...inspiration is everywhere!" I replied. 

And it really is. Your life...the one that you are creating each moment, is your best place to find ideas as they reflect what is important to you. What fascinates you...what causes you to just stop and ponder a shape or a color combination? Start there. Build from that. 

I find that any time I am stuck for an idea or a new direction, I just need to stop and look around what is in my immediate environment. Yesterday, there was a flat, metal sculpture hanging on the wall behind my father's head as he asked me that question, and right before he asked me, I was sitting there wondering how to incorporate a shape within the sculpture into a new pair of earrings or a pendant for the next Step by Step Wire Magazine article that is due in a couple of weeks. 

I believe that we are consciously and unconsciously creating our life each moment we take a breath. So it stands to reason that you are already creating your reality based on your thoughts, beliefs and feelings...turning those into decisions that you use like a paint box set to color your canvas called life. Why not grab what you are already mentally creating and turn it into something that is tangible and meaningful to you?

Once you get that intriguing shape or color combination, drill down and really play with it. Don't muddy it up with more than three elements. I try to keep it to just two.  There is much more creative power in using less materials in new and interesting ways. 

All of the above earrings mostly use two elements...sheet metal and wire. I use beads or stones only as accents. I believe this makes the design much stronger...more focused. 

The current element I am exploring in metal is very simple. I am splitting sheet metal and curving it into a hinge shape. I will most likely explore this simple element for the next year...seeing how to minutely vary it each time I use it. Eventually, it will turn into something completely new...or lead me someplace else that I can only get to by going deeper with it. 

Every single one of the tutorials I release I try and show what the variations can be. That is really what I am trying to share with you when I write a magazine tutorial about a particular idea or technique. 

You can take a technique and apply your own preferences to it...your own way to express what it is that makes it yours, and not mine. 

Sheet metal can be

  • sawed
  • pierced
  • filed
  • hammered
  • rolled
  • textured
  • bent
  • twisted
  • patina'ed
  • enameled
  • melted
  • reticulated
  • combined
  • flattened
  • soldered

These are just a few things that can be DONE to sheet metal to vary the design. Same thing with wire...you can vary wire by all of the above and also by just varying the gauge, length and amount. 

You can apply this line of creative exploration to any medium. You can also apply it to your life. Find one thing you want to explore and instead of going horizontal with it, exploring it in a shallow way, go vertical instead. 

Going deeper allows for insightful perspective...digging deep gives you the more most seek when they try and add more stuff to their designs...and life. 

Going deeper...discovering what is at the bottom of your own creative well by getting rid of the extraneous and often distracting glitter and clutter is liberating and instructive on many levels...and not just in making jewelry. 

I've been looking at my living and working environment and asking these questions:

  • "Does this make me feel light or heavy?
  • Does it add joy to my life or does it bring me down?
  • Is there anything that inspires me to go deeper with it? Or does it bore me?
  • Does it sabotage me or does it liberate me?" 
  • Do I find it beautiful? or ugly?
  • Is it helpful or is it just sucking energy from me?

I am learning that my environment, which I create either with purpose or without, is instrumental in allowing my creative river to flow. 

How about you?