Friday, December 2, 2011

You call it fibre, I call it fiber ...

Same-o Same-o

Working with fibers is so tactile, I love the feel of the different weights and consistencies. One might think that threads are limp and ready to go wherever you want to wrap or coil them. Au contrare! I have started many a brooch or neckpiece with fibers and let me tell you, they have a will of their own. When I thought I would turn the design one way, the fibers resist and insist that another direction is to be taken. When I thought a section of the design would be smooth and sophisticated, oh no! The piece wanted to be roughly woven or knots included.

As with life, one goes with the flow!

I've usually made brooches with my fiber-wrapped designs. But lately, I've wanted to expand beyond my self-imposed boundary, to make some lariat style neckpieces, or cuffs.

Several of my customers have urged me to make fiber-wrapped pendants. In this regard, I have started adding jump rings to the pinbacks, so the wearer can alternate between wearing the adornment as a brooch or as a pendant.

Here is the latest of the fiber-wrapped lariats:

WHAT season 'tis it ...

'Tis the season for gift buying and gift giving! Here I am scurrying back and forth from workbench to the post office. It's WONDERFUL!

I love the energy generated and focused into new creations. It imbues my days and nights with a bit of an edge, to provide a product but to also maintain the integrity of originality and design. It's sometimes a difficult line to hold to when along with "Jingle Bells" I also hear "Hurry Up! Hurry Up!"

Of course, if I had followed up on my inner critic's urgings to "hurry up" earlier, I might not be in this pressure cooker. Nonetheless, I'm a happy artisan!

Recycled Brass Shapes
and  natural Rhyolite beads

Amber, a yellow Jasper
and hand cut Sterling calligraphy
"Long Life"

I finished a couple of pairs of earrings that include copper from my patina experimentation. I haven't yet finished the ones that were the original impetus for the project, based on the Chinese Lanterns. I still have those dried pods hanging on a rack on my workbench. I love their simple, natural presence.

The bright blue patina is the result
of exposure to Ammonia

The attractive green patina resulted
from exposure to being buried in tobacco
and salt and vinegar

I'll try to maintain this blog a little more religiously! New Year's resolution!

You can check out my Etsy store for new baubles that have been added. Check out the "Solds" too, so you can see new items that have already moved out of the "Active" queue.

I'm also have a Birch Bay Kay Page on Facebook.

Enjoy the magic of the days leading up to Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Nature Inspiration ...

My sister has a Chinese Lantern tree in the backyard and she brought in a couple of the pods for me to see. I love them! I've put a little brass wire through them and they're hanging on my earring stand to continue to inspire me.

Chinese Lantern Pods
I've looked at them now for about a month and decided to sketch out something on copper and see if I can make little copper Chinese Lanterns. This will be FUN!

I've been reading about coloring copper and want to experiment with this, too. Hmmm, do I color after I saw out the shape, but before I shape the pod? Or do I saw, shape and then color?

I'll let you know how it goes ... or better yet, if you've done this process already, send me an email with your recommendation! Yeah! That's a great idea!

Here we go ...

Ready to saw out the design

A First Time for Everything ...

Today my offshoot online store, West As the Crow Flies, offering wonderful semi-precious stone cabochons and unique beads, just made its first sale! Hooray! Hoping it's the first of many to come.

Thank you, Nora, in Winnipeg, Canada!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Influence of Surroundings ...

Birch Bay Sunset

Birch Bay shells, beachglass, pebbles
Like a lot of artists, I'm heavily influenced by my natural surroundings. Having lived in Birch Bay on the west coast of WA for seven years, I still feel the water sloshing around in m'brain even though I'm now in Spokane!

A number of years ago I read a Barbara Kingsolver non-fiction "High Tide in Tucson" about transitioning from ocean to desert. If I remember correctly, she wrote of her hermit crab still moving through its cage in time to the far away tides.  (Her insights about nature, desert, creativity, politics, et cetera are almost lyrical and well-articulated. I highly recommend this as a good read!)

However, I am planted here in Spokane for the present and this is where I have to find a new ebb and flow. It'll happen ... with patience.

It will be fun to see what new Birch Bay Kay jewelry will result from this new environment in Spokane, WA!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A rosey posey "in the moment" reminder

I’ve been driving myself a little bonkers lately. You know how stress gets to your noggin, and before you know it, you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off. (Oh, dear! What a grisly image!)

This morning I found myself scratching around at my workbench, not really working on anything, just fussing. This is not a productive activity, and with the holidays coming quickly upon us, I need to focus on creating jewelry.

I begrudgingly glanced up from my mess and my eyes fell upon a little glass vase with a couple of tiny tea roses I had plucked from Mel’s garden out back. They are small, I have been distracted, I forgot I had placed them there to enjoy.

I stopped what I wasn’t doing, picked up the diminutive vase. I hopefully sniffed, and YES! It had the most delicate, beautiful fragrance. I hadn’t smelled it earlier, because the roses are so small, their aroma so faint, and my workbench is 6 feet from the cat’s box.

Now, I know these little roses aren’t here to brighten my day. They aren’t weighed down with purpose, productivity. They just exist… no stress, no mind fighting, no recriminations because they aren’t bigger, better, rosier.

But, I thank the powers that be for creating these little roses, that smell so sweetly, that enable me to clear my thoughts, realign with nature … get my shit together.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Alone and solitary, but not ...

As an artist, a lot of my time is spent creating in solitude. I distract easily, so I'm better off hunkered over my workbench, lost in musings of what-if-I-do-this.

I am kept company by little talismans that comfort me. I have some pebbles and shells from Birch Bay. I have a sterling silver cross that my younger son made eons ago when he was 12 or 13 and we took a beginning silversmith class together. He also made a sterling bug, which I cherished. I gifted it back to him a month or so ago, so he would have a memento of the fun we had together, and to look forward to the joy and satisfaction he'll have of working and creating with his children.

I also have a stone gifted to me by a dear artist friend. We met in a birthing class in Southern California when we were both preggies with our firstborn. Oh my goodness! That was over 36 years ago!

But back to the stone Karen gave me. I chose the stone. She had drawn a mermaid on it, which drew my eye. I've had it for about 7-8 years and I love picking it up and cradling it in the palm of my hand. It imparts a wonderful, loving energy. So, it, too, keeps me company at my workbench.

I was adding a chain to a neckpiece that's almost done, when Karen's stone caught my attention. I picked it up and turned it slowly. In addition to the mermaid, there are drawings of a mother with a babe in arms, an older woman's serene face, an angelic young face, and a face surprised or shocked.

My initial reaction was that they were all aspects of the roles I've played throughout my life. It made sense. But, another idea pushed its way to the front of my thoughts. I have created much with the support and comfort of friends all through my life.

Artists may create in solitude, but we're fed and buoyed up by our friends and family. Creativity, for me at least, would be impossible without interaction with other people. Interaction not only with friends and family, but with people who have purchased my jewelry and have become friends.

As I start life a-fresh here in Spokane, I need to reach out to others. Certainly this doesn't mean I'll turn my back on tried and true friendships of long duration. It means ever widening the circle of love and respect.

Just as a stone tossed into the lake creates ever widening circles in the water, so Karen's touch stone in my hand reminds me to welcome others into my circle.

If you want to learn more about Karen Williams Smith's Touch Stones, go to  Touch Stones are her newest creations, I urge you to also look at her gallery of whimsical and fine art sculptures and bronzes. She'll be exhibiting at the 2011 Winterfest in Laguna Beach, CA.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

To the post office!

One might think that shipping would be the least fun of the tasks I have to do in this jewelry biz o'mine. Think again!

I absolutely love typing and printing out the mailing label, printing a little photo card for a personal, handwritten note to accompany the purchased bauble, making sure the jewelry is polished and looking its best for the man or woman it will soon be adorning, folding everything neatly in tissue or bubble wrap, filling out the insurance form for the post office. I even like to use my glue stick to affix the label to the mailing box, and securing taping the box closed.

All the time I'm preparing the shipment, I'm thinking of the person who purchased one of my creations. I know they'll be thrilled when they get the package. The jewelry will look so much better "in person" than it did in the photograph online. I can envision them immediately going to their closest mirror and trying on the earrings, neckpiece, brooch or bracelet. I can see them doing a little sashay of happiness.

I envision them at their next book club gathering and someone admiring their adornment. "Oh, these? Aren't they FAB? I bought them online at Etsy. They were made by Birch Bay Kay. I simply could NOT resist buying them for myself!"

As I stand in line at the post office tomorrow morning, I'll be soooo happy! Another satisfied client, another validation that my work has value, another peek at my Paypal balance when I get back home!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Beginnings are invigorating, aren't they?

Bits of sterling and a Birch Bay shell
on my workbench
 Beginning a new dialog, sharing personal secrets and musings of an artisan from her studio is a little daunting. I work in a solitary environment, and seldom have anyone to chat with about what I'm creating or what inspires a particular piece of jewelry.

It's time to reach out. So many people who have purchased my jewelry online at or at shows I've done in the past have expressed a desire to know more about what goes into making the jewelry with which they have chosen to adorn themselves. They want to know more, can you believe it? What can I tell them? They have good taste in jewelry!

As I've said, this prospect is a little daunting, but let's have a go at it!

This word "prospect" brings to mind prospecting, mining, digging. With a little digging and mining, we just might uncover a nugget or two of interest. If you have specific questions, please feel free to email me and I'll be happy to reply either through this blog or to you personally.

Within the last two months, I've made a radical lifestyle change. It will be interesting--to you, too, I hope--to see what effect it will have upon my jewelry. I've moved from Birch Bay on the west coast of Washington state to just about as far east east as I can go without stumbling into Idaho. I'm now living and creating in Spokane. However, at this early stage, much of my aesthetic is still affected by the ebb and flow of the tides on the beaches of the Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia. But there is a different feel to Spokane, a different energy. How will Birch Bay Kay transition into a warm, dry environment far from my beloved beaches?

Seaweed on the beach at low tide
 Environment is very important to my sense of well-being. Although different here, I've already started finding places that feed my need for connection with the earth. The grasses sway in the winds much like the seaweed. With my eyes closed and the sun shining on my face, I could be just about anywhere ... everywhere!

Yes, I think this transition will bring about a welcome change!