Convergent Series

learning, using & teaching metal clay, and other aspects of life

Posts Tagged ‘appreciation’

Studio: starting year ten!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2019/09/29

I can’t believe I’m about to start the tenth year in my studio!

Which means I’m into at least my fifteenth year with metal clays.

It’s clear when I moved into my studio, and I now can’t imagine not having it. The other date is harder to pinpoint: from when do I start counting?!! While visiting my family home in Florida, when I first saw something made using fine silver metal clay and immediately became intrigued? While I was still teaching in California, when I first succeeded in tracking down some good information to learn more about it? After moving to Pennsylvania, the first time I actually opened a package of clay? In my friend Bonnie’s barn, the first time we each held a piece we had made and fired entirely on our own? At home in my family room, the first time I felt comfortable enough with every step in the process of a piece — design, construction, firing, finishing, assembling into its final form, pricing — to consider offering it for sale? The point at which I felt committed-enough to pursue this that I started looking for a studio? All of that (and more!) developed gradually, over some years.

But what I’m thinking about today, this week, at this time… is back to when I first opened my own studio and, specifically, to this day back in 2010 when I first picked up the keys to my studio and arranged to meet my friend Jeff at Ikea; we reviewed the options I was considering; and I bought the basic tables and shelving I started off with (all of which still use). We loaded it all into our vehicles, and he followed me back to this new location. After hauling all the boxes up all the stairs, we took a break a block or so up the hill (at D’s, including a stop in their “beer cave”!). Then we spent the rest of the afternoon assembling (almost) everything. It was a magical day for me, in so many ways, made even better by sharing it as we did.

Thank you, J.e.f.f…I.I.I.
Miss you!!!

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Thanks, again, everyone!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2015/12/17

This is just a quick Thank You note to everyone who came by my studio during one of my recent Open House events. ‘Twas great to see familiar faces and to meet new folks. I am always delighted to see my creations moving on to new homes, but it’s also just fun to have folks stop by, whether you came because I invited you, or you were at an event sponsored by the Wilkins School Community Center, or (such as with the new UE members & their friends from the East End Food Coop) you were just partying at the center and followed the signs to my studio. And I also want to note my appreciation for folks who shopped at any of the other venues that carry my works!

If you missed any of those, or have second thoughts about something you passed up, or want to buy a surprise gift for the person you were with, please let me know. I won’t be keeping a “regular” schedule between now and Christmas, but I will be in the studio off and on. I would still be happy to try to agree upon a time to meet you there!

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On remembering to take photos….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2014/12/18

I like photography. A lot. I like taking photos. I buy photos at art shows and such. I frame and hang both kinds of photos all over the place.

But, much of the time, I get caught up in what I’m doing, whatever it is I’m doing, and my brain just does not go to, “Hey, stop and take a photo of this.” Even if I’m surrounded by people taking then, and anymore even if I’m at some event where my view is blocked by people holding up their phones to capture it rather than just being in the moment and enjoying the view right then, I still don’t think to do the same thing myself.

I go to some events specifically to take photos. Then, I may remember to take a few some of the time. I take thousands each summer at the various garden-related projects I work on, for example, because my role there is often to be the event’s photographer. Until or unless I pitch in to help with some task, and then it takes me a while to remember to clean my hands up a bit and re-grab the camera… On this blog you may have noted, three posts back, that I got so involved in making my woven piece that I forgot to take photos of the process I was trying to record….

Thus, I have no photos of all the wonderful shows and events I mentioned in my last post. I went to, and enjoyed, all of them. And I really should pause my story here to thank all the wonderful people who purchased some of my creations, as well as the delightful ones who just stopped by to say hello.

Back to tonight, when my brain did something ever so slightly different: When I saw Samantha Bower step up to take a photo of Adam from Wigle Whiskey at Koolkat Designs, I managed to take a few too! It’s such a great little place, jam-packed full of all sorts of goodies for this season and throughout the year.

With Koolkat reinventing itself as the Artsmiths of Pittsburgh next spring (an event I’m really looking forward to, as both an artist and a teacher!), this may be the last time I’ll think to take a photo there, so I figured I should share here one from tonight.

‘Twas a delightful evening of shopping and spirits along with the rest of the Koolkat crew & clientele.

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Wrapping Up One Year and Opening the Next…

Posted by C Scheftic on 2014/01/01

Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s time to write my fifth New Year’s Day post.

A while ago, I wrote a piece where I said that sometimes I compare beading to framing. That is, some 2-d artists offer a mix, where some pieces are “basic” ones and others have been “framed.” So the buyer has a choice: they can take the piece home and hang it plainly, or they can add their own framing. Or they can buy an already-framed piece. And I tend to offer pendants, for example, where most of them are on a plain cord so you can wear them but let the unique, hand-crafted piece itself be the focus, or you can take it home and add your own fancier chain or even string it with some beads you have. Or I have a few that I do hang in other ways, so that is an option for people who prefer that.

I got to thinking about that again, in a slightly different way, the past few weeks. ‘Tis the season for wrapping and unwrapping gifts, and for wrapping up one year and unwrapping the next. With this post are photos of a small sample of pieces I made in the process of wrapping up 2013, as I prepare to offer them in opening up 2014 … as objects of art themselves at first and, until they find new homes, as samples for a new workshop series that’s under development. For some reason, these three told me they didn’t want to be hung simply but, instead, preferred to be wrapped up with ribbons or other forms of decoration.

The “sometimes I compare beading to wrapping” analogy hit me as I hung the first piece illustrating this post (above) a hollow bronze “box” accented with copper, rose bronze, and yellow bronze. I just felt it needed to go on the collection of ribbons shown in the photo. (And the inset confirms that, yes, I’m still making reversible pieces.) With all the gift-wrapping that goes on this time of year, I felt that those ribbons wrapped up the “box” in a way that still kept the focus on the special bronze element. You could choose to take it home and hang it some other way, if you wanted, but it’s nicely wrapped just as it is.

With the second piece (left) as I made the hollow “draped” pendant, I just knew it was one of the pieces that I’d want to hang some other way, so I made a toggle clasp to match it. Then I hung the main bead on a piece of bronze wire, with some tiger eye beads that seemed to go with its coloring, plus a few spacer beads (mostly to protect the tiger eyes from the ends of the wire wraps), and then used some brass chain between all that and the clasp.

With the third piece, a hollow bead then “wrapped” in several different textured layers, I went even further. This time I added jasper, petrified wood, and garnet beads, linked together with bronze wire, plus a bit of brass chain (not shown here) near the lobster clasp I used as a closure.

Three different ways of “wrapping” a piece up in a somewhat decorative fashion. I hope those who wear these pieces (or even just view their photos) will appreciate the original bronze “focal” beads as well as the way each one has been wrapped up for them to wear. As to the workshops, I hope to have that schedule posted (at least in draft form) within a week.

In the meantime though, I still have a bit more New Year celebrating to do. Here’s wishing you a happy and productive 2014!

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Merry Christmas to All!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2013/12/25

This is a slightly belated “Thank You!” to everyone who braved the weather to head out for this year’s Art Buzz tour. Whether you faced the sleet, snow, and ice on Saturday, or more ice and biting cold on Sunday, your support of independent, local artists is much appreciated, perhaps more than you can imagine.

And, to those of you who are the recipients of gifts or gift cards purchased during that event, I hope you are as delighted with them as your gifter appeared to be while making the purchase.

For anyone trying to find my schedule of upcoming classes, I’ll be working on that later this week. I hope to have it posted on my website the first week of January (and I’ll announce it here). If you need info sooner than that, let me know, and I can give you some preliminary (but subject to change) information.

In the meantime, I hope all my blog-readers are having a very Merry Christmas, and enjoying everything about this holiday season.

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Happy New Year to All!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2013/01/01

NewYearFireworks_fromWordpressCan it really be the start of Year #4 for this blog? Already?! My, how time flies when one is having so much fun!

Most of the time, that is. I’m afraid it may have looked like I’d stopped blogging last month: my apologies!

I did need to take a few days off after the Art Buzz weekend, but I really had planned to get back online quickly and at least write a note of appreciation for all of the people who stopped by. It was great seeing and talking with everyone, sharing cider and cookies and stories and jewelry (of course!) and more. I also wanted to say thanks to everyone who attended any of my other shows or shopping opportunities this past year.

But then I just got sidetracked. No, not by holiday-season activities (though there were lots of those). No, not by visitors from near and far (though there were plenty of those too). I really had planned for all of that. What did sidetrack me on top of all that was a construction project at home, something I’d been trying to make happen for at least as long as I’ve been creating this blog.

I’d been hunting, off and on, for a contractor to work with: do you know what that’s like? Some didn’t return calls, others did but then missed scheduled appointments, some did eventually show up but then came back with bids that were way out of line (either far too high or even suspiciously low) compared to what I wanted to have done, way too many submitted proposals for projects they wanted to do that bore little to no resemblance to what I thought I’d explained I wanted, and so on. Each round of unsuccessful negotiations left me discouraged. I was starting to feel desperate: what had started as a simple extension of an earlier addition to the house (done by a previous owner) had, over the years, expanded into one that also included some very important repair (re-doing the roof of the earlier addition, which involved reconfiguring windows and more!). Finally, I found someone who gave the impression of both understanding what I wanted and having the ability to execute that plan … if, for a project likely to take four to six weeks (more if there were weather-related delays), they could start it within the next week, meaning start it ten days before Christmas. Yikes!

So every aspect of my daily schedule, many of the holiday-season plans, along with at least half the rooms at my house, were suddenly upended. Yet I am thrilled to have this project underway, and delighted to watch its daily progress.

Amidst all the confusion and after all my other daily obligations, I am also sketching new ideas for 2013’s art jewelry and other small adornments. I am seeking sources for a few specific items I’ll need for several completely new designs I want to try to create. When I do manage to get online, I am trying to sort out a handful of technical issues so that I can run a reasonable mailing list operation.

But, with my physical environment in so much flux right now, blogging is just falling off the list. I’ve noticed that a few other bloogers I follow have given it up lately (some just disappeared for months on end; others at least stated they were going on hiatus to rethink whether they’d be back) but I wanted to let folks know that is not my intent!

I expect to be back here in just a few weeks. I’ll clean up the side-bar entries and I’m hoping to get back to my earlier rhythm of posting an average of about once a week (occasionally more often, when I get on a roll about something). There will likely be another lull or two later on (two more remodeling ventures: overhauls to kitchen and garden, both of which have been waiting for this roofing+addition project to be completed) but I’ll try to at least give a note of warning when those are about to occur.

Which means I really am looking forward to 2013. And I hope you are too, dear readers!

Posted in Misc. Musings | Tagged: | 2 Comments »


Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/11/05

I led a “woven silver” workshop at the weekend. The first photo (right) shows the pieces that were made that afternoon and, um, once everyone got a roll, that evening too. (Yes, a few didn’t involve weaving. That’s OK too.) In that image, no finishing has taken place: it shows the “white” appearance of the silver crystal structure straight out of the kiln. I just wanted to grab a quick photo, while I could, to show how productive the session had been.

The second photo (left) of the folks at the west-side table at work is mostly a sort of visual note to myself to try to remember to take photos more often, in class but also elsewhere. Because the caption for that image should be, “No! I won’t look up! I will not look at the camera! No!” Still, I’d like to thank everyone who was there for being such good sports … in every other way.

I haven’t posted over the past couple of weeks because I’ve done all sorts of things where I just did not think to take any photos. You might think that I would have taken photos while attending a workshop on photographing artwork. But no, there were lots of handouts and images of copyrighted work and discussion and more. Even though I had both of my cameras with me, the only times either one came out of its bag were to show a few images that were already on their memory cards.

You might think I’d’ve taken some shots at our recent metal clay guild chapter meeting but, no, I didn’t even think to take a camera to that. We had an opportunity to play with the Silhouette Cameo cutter that one of our members has gotten; we did lots of great planning for next year; and there was all the usual sharing and showing and telling and hand-on time and more. But no photos….

I also didn’t think to take a camera on any of my recent shopping expeditions. But, now that I think of it, I have added a few interesting items to “the stash.” Maybe I can manage to (remember to) take photos and write in the next week or so, before those elements finish going to into pieces and out for holiday sales events.

It is such a busy time of year, with all the autumn chores and the lead-in to the season of holidays, I am sure you, dear reader, are keeping busy too. Please know that I hope you are feeling productive!

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A special kind of “Costume” Jewelry!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/10/11

As I was packing everything up to take to a recent off-site workshop, I had made sure that all my little oil bottles were full. I figured, that way, there’d be no way I’d need to pack the big bottle to refill in class: Five individual bottles for 8 to 10 people should be fine.

In the session, as always, I spent a moment talking about the need to place a lubricant between your moist metal clay and (almost all) your tools, and another warning not to use too much, especially when you’ll remove bits of clay you that will later be reused with yet more lubricant because the build-up can create other problems. After I got back and was unpacking everything so I’d be ready for the next workshop in my studio, I noticed the pattern in these bottles, and couldn’t resist taking a photo. Hmmm…. Do you share my impression that various participants focused more on one part of that message than the other?

Curiosities aside, it really was a delightful session. (I hope the participants agree!) Brian Russman (shown, under the clock) had invited me to be a “guest lecturer” on metal clay for the graduate students in his Jewelry Making course in the Costume Design Program in the Drama Department at Carnegie-Mellon. I used quotation marks there because there was only a little bit of opening lecture: most of it was hands-on time.

Thanks to Lena, Elisabeth, Lindsey, Mary, Sophie, Ying, as well as Brian, for such a delightful session. I hope you are pleased with the seventeen (17!) pieces you made that day! All very different, I found it a treat to see you figuring out how to express your different choices of style.

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Garden Picnic

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/10/02

Which do you think is yummier: the look of that garden or the fact that it’s a cake?!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m also a member of the Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County.

One of our many projects is to maintain several Demonstration Gardens. These showcase flowering plants and herbs that perform well in our climate and soils with minimal maintenance. The gardens include display beds of over 125 varieties of annuals. At the end of each season, the plants are evaluated based on their performance in the garden: the best ones are brought back in subsequent years, while poor performers go on a watch list and will be discontinued if they continue that pattern over several cycles. A separate evaluation is performed regarding the number of pollinators that are periodically recorded in certain specific beds.

For people interested in joining the program, there is an initial interview to ensure that candidates understand their role in utilizing research-based information to educate the public on best practices in consumer horticulture and environmental stewardship, followed by a terrific (and intense!) year-long training program. Since this is sponsored by Penn State, our calendar follows their academic year: interviews happen in August, the training starts in September, and the training year concludes the following August. Then, in September each year we have a harvest-time picnic in or near one of our demo gardens (we rotate around the different sites) to acknowledge our newly graduated members as well as the ongoing efforts of all our long-time participants.

This year the picnic was held at the South Park Demo Garden. The cake shown above is not a replica of the garden itself, but I thought I’d share it because I think it represents the delight of the gardens! And that delight is why floral themes so often appear in my artwork, one way or another….

I wonder if/how that may change next year: we just got approval to open up a new demo garden — on an urban lot! — that will feature edible plants and flowers? I’m really looking forward to working on that project, since those are the kinds of things I most love to grow myself. And I am definitely an urban gardener these days!

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Goodbye And Hello….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/09/30

I remember, when I was a child, being puzzled by the expression, “The King is dead. Long live the King,” until I heard the variant, “The King is dead. Long live the Queen!” Oh, I suddenly realized, they’re focusing on the continuity across two different people! For some reason, I was reminded of that as I thought about what to write today, except that I’m not writing about a death and I do want to say something about just one person. And, yes, I know I’m babbling, but sometimes it’s hard to find the right words….

Three years ago, Trish Morris signed a lease for an interesting little space in Bridgeville, PA, and opened a bead shop that everyone knew as Zelda’s. Her tag-line for the place was, Everyone Here is Happy!

Though it was often a traffic-congested slog for me to get down there, I made the trek once or twice a month … because it was always worth the trip!

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post where I compare beading my art jewelry pieces to framing of prints and photos, explaining that I offer a lot of pieces “unframed” so you can hang them as you wish, while I do “bead up” others for those who prefer that sort of product. I do the same thing with workshops: many of them feature the making of a particular kind of “focal element” that you can wear alone or add to as you wish, while a few are extended into the process of making fully-beaded pieces (i.e., where we make a focal element and a complementary toggle clasp, then string those into a fully-beaded bracelet or necklace).

And, for the past three years, I’ve taught classes covering that same mix down at Zelda’s (in addition to those in my own studio, and at a few other places). That’s why I made all those trips: because of the warm atmosphere that Trish and others tried to create at Zelda’s, because of the delightful customers who frequented the shop and signed up for my classes, and because I could then spend some of my earnings in the shop buying lovely beads for when I wanted to make more elaborate pieces myself.

Except, while everyone called the place Zelda’s, if you looked closely at the website and the email addresses, they declared the place to be Zelda’s Bead Kits. Kits? What kits?! Well, yes, there were a few. But, for a whole variety of reasons (some obvious, some less so), they were just a minor part of the business. Trish had opened the shop thinking that, if she needed space to store supplies and assemble kits, why not just open it up to others too. Except (as most business owners will understand immediately!) she found out that running the shop took up too much of her time. She was unable to focus on the part of the business that had inspired her in the first place, and this was not making her happy. (Remember that tag-line…)

So, when her lease came up for renewal, Trish made the difficult decision to close the shop. She ran a month-long closing sale, and is moving any remains out today. The shop will be missed. Trish is still hoping to develop the bead-kit business: I hope she does, for her sake, and that it is successful.

Clicking on most of the photos or other images in my blog posts will usually take you to larger versions of themselves, but the two with this post (which, I admit, I “borrowed” from Zelda’s website anyway) both link back to Zelda’s. As I write this, it’s still showing all the information from the Bridgeville store, but I hear there’s an update to the new incarnation for Zelda’s Bead Kits is in the works. I hope her dancing-frog logo is both waving a happy good-bye to the physical store, and a happy welcome to the new kit collections that may soon be available online.

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Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/09/29

It’s taken me a week, but I wanted to write a note to say “Thanks!” to everyone who ventured out to the Juried Artists Market at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art last week. It’s always great to meet new people, and it’s a special treat when I find out that some people who’d found me and my work online have then headed over specifically so they could meet me in person and examine some of my pieces for themselves. (You know who you are!)

Of course, I rarely think to take photos during events, but this photo shows what my table looked like before we started.

I was assigned to the space in front of the Bud Gibbons’ 1992 painting “Winter” from his Four Seasons series. You might have thought they’d’ve put Barbara Campbell there, with all her warm hand-spun yarns and hand-woven clothing, and let me have Spring at my back instead of her since so many of my pieces have floral themes. We probably could have just traded locations, if only we’d thought of it before the show opened. Oh well. With adjoining spaces, we were able to chat during the lulls.

If you couldn’t make it over to The Westmoreland, or if you were there and had “second thoughts” about passing up on a particular piece, know that I’ll be having an Open House (shopping opportunity with, as time permits, a few demos of various parts of the process) at my studio on Saturday, October 13. The Wilkins School Community Center’s big Eco Fest is happening that day, from 10 am to 2 pm, and I’ll be there, in my room upstairs (over the front door). Please come up and say, “Hello!”

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The Charm(s) of Mika Tajiri

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/08/15

This note will finish up on one item, leftover from my last post, about the charm exchange at the 2012 PMC Guild Conference….

The first two photos here, to the left, show both sides of the charm I received from Mika Tajiri in the charm exchange at the 2010 PMC Guild Conference. Although I did not make a big deal about it at the time, my immediate reaction was that, while I certainly enjoyed all the charms I received that year, this one was definitely among my favorites, both for the overall design, and for its being reversible!

But there was something else. Right at the moment of exchange, all I knew was that I was trading with a couple of “the Japanese ladies” who had come over for the conference. In retrospect, I did not recall noticing any jewelry this artist was wearing: But I remember being charmed by her, in particular, with her apparent delight at participating in the exchange.

Later, I saw her again in the “Show and Sell” area, and that’s when I did notice the jewelry she was wearing. I had just seen it in a recent issue of Fusion (which was (then) the quarterly journal of the (now much modified) PMC Guild): She had won one of the “Favorites” awards at the 2010 Hobby Show in Japan! And that evening she was wearing another piece from that collection. I recognized it immediately.

With a lot of smiling and hand-motions, I managed to ask, and she managed to confirm, that she was the person who had made the pieces (i.e., she wasn’t just wearing something gorgeous that she’d bought from that artist), and that my memory was correct that the charm I was already wearing on my bracelet from that year was also hers. Honestly, I felt like I had won the charm-lottery: a favorite charm was by a delightful artist who had won an award for a piece that I really admired!

So, at the 2012 conference’s charm exchange, I will admit that she was one of the artists I was hoping to spot for an exchange. When I caught sight of her, she was again wearing one of her signature pieces. I gave her a big smile, which she returned immediately. Which was just the friendly thing to do, right? Since I was wearing a collection of my charm-exchange bracelets linked together as a necklace, I reached for the segment from 2010, located her piece, and held it up with another smile, to indicate that I recognized her. Which brought on happy hand motions to say that, if I’d brought charms this year, she’d be happy to exchange again. Yes!

Well, the business card she included this year (photo with black background; but with no website listed … unless I just missed that in the part written in Japanese) included an image of her winning piece from 2010. And her “charm” for 2012 was a simpler, miniature piece made the same way as those other elements (the last photo, left, with this post). She was giving these lovely pieces away to others, in exchange for whatever little piece we had made. I was delighted with its design, and thrilled by this generosity!

I know, from talking with several other artists who traded with her, that we all think this one is both too lovely and too delicate to risk getting beat up on a fun-but-clunky charm bracelet. This is the one I held out (as mentioned in my last post): it has gone on a chain all by itself so I can wear it as a necklace. People I know ask if I’ve made it and I have to say, “No, but I sure wish I could both imagine and execute pieces like the charming Mika Tajiri makes!”

And this post is my way of saying an extra “Thank you!” to her for honoring me with one of these.

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Two More Charm Bracelets for the Collection….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/08/12

It’s taken me almost two months (where has the summer gone!) but I figured it was time to post a follow-up showing all the treats I got during the Charm Exchange at the 2012 PMC Guild Conference.

With a change of both venue and of overall schedule, there had been a bit of uncertainty as to whether this very popular exchange would even happen at all this time. Once there was confirmation that a modified form of the exchange would take place, and in between lots of other commitments and deadlines, I did manage to make a collection of small, very simple (but, this being me, reversible) charms in a mix of silver (some shiny; some with a patina) and bronze (some the traditional yellow color; others in the more-coppery rose bronze).

Alice and I had a great time “carpooling” out to Kentucky for the conference. Since we’d taken my car the last time we went together, this time we took hers. And she drove, which meant I was able to sit in the passenger seat and add jump rings to all of my charms while we chatted our way across five states: whew! Once I’d finished adding those, I kept going with jump rings and made a pair of bracelets: one out of Argentium sterling silver (with a sterling lobster clasp) and the other out of bronze (with a copper lobster clasp). Admittedly, a moving car is not necessarily the ideal setting for those activities, but it’s not like I was doing complex chain maille, we were mostly on good interstate highways, and Alice’s driving was nice and smooth. (I will let her declare whether that’s her normal mode or a concession to my activities.) So it was easy to complete those tasks and they even added to how quickly the time seemed to pass.

As I’d said before the conference (an event which also happened to extend over the Summer Solstice), I called mine “Moonlit Garden” charms, “not just because I cut them in a waxing/waning moon shape, but also because they have a sort of moonscape texture on one side, and some sort of garden-theme texture on t’other (cherry blossoms, gingko leaves, roses, ferns, or various daisies).” My idea was that all followed that same theme, but no two were alike.

Curiously, as I was adding their jump rings, I did notice three “pairs” that seemed to match up nicely. I stuffed those in a different pocket, thinking I could later sell those as earrings (and make a little money to help recoup a bit of the cost of all the charms…). One of the fifty charms I made went into the thank-you box that was presented to Tim McCreight and I kept a bronze one for my own bracelet as a record of what I’d done. That left me 42 to exchange: an ideal number for the two bracelet-chains I’d just made.

And, now, I’d like to thank all of the following metal clay artists for exchanging charms with me:

All but one of those charms are shown above. I’m hoping to find time to write about that other one in a separate post….

Also not shown here, but much appreciated as well, are the non-charm trades I received from:

I’m thanking you here too, because I’m not sure when I’ll get around to posting something about how I used your little treats. But I expect they will show up eventually….

For anyone who included a link on the card that came with your charm, I included that on my list. If you didn’t, but I could find you in a quick, easy online search, I added what I found. Otherwise, I’ve just listed you without a link but, if you stumble across this note and have one you’d like me to add, let me know and I will update this post with that information. (Ditto for any other changes or corrections I need to make.)

I sure hope all of you (as well as any of the other artists I somehow missed in the exchange) are as happy with your new charm collection as I am with mine! Happy claying, everyone!

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Starting 2012 with a note of appreciation.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/01/01

fireworks above skyline -- just some clipart I found online for thisFor my New Year / Blog Anniversary post this year (third time now, wow!), I want to take a moment to say a few words of “Thanks” to all the wonderful folks who have expressed interest in my art and supported my various efforts in that realm.

I’ve tried to do some of that at appropriate moments all year, and I still think fondly of y’all. But, recently, I’ve been feeling it was time for another statement of gratitude. It’s taken me until today because, although I do love all the wonderful light in my studio, we are well into that time of year, when I just need more hours of daylight! And while I am often happy to make art at night, it still seems, to me at least, like the “balancing act” that includes all the holiday-season activities (on top of everything else) is so much more of a challenge when the “balance” between day and night swings so far away from daylight. In the past few weeks, of course, the balance has already begun slowly shifting back to more daylight so, as the New Year begins, I decided I had to take a moment to stop and once again offer some words of “Thanks!”

Especially as last year drew to a close, I was delighted to see everyone who came over for my Open House during the Art Buzz tour, and for the event at Zelda’s the following weekend. I also appreciated everyone who attended any of the holiday-special shows where my jewelry was available. (The photo to the right is of my studio, turned into a shop for the Art Buzz weekend, shortly before I opened up for the second day; I meant to take more photos, both there and at Zelda’s, but just never thought to do so when the rooms were jam-packed full of such interesting people! Clearly, I’ll have to work on some better display options if I do that again but, for the moment, let me bask in having managed to convert it from workspace to shop at all!)

‘Twas really wonderful to see everyone. Especially delightful was having people turn up in my studio who knew me from when I’d lived here before, some that I hadn’t seen since before I’d moved away the last time (first to the Monterey – Pacific Grove area of CA; then to the Twin Cities area of MN; then back to CA, but down the coast in San Luis Obispo, aka SLO-town … so, you see, that could have been a while!). Also great was having other folks show up who have been customers of this current venture of mine, to talk about what they might next like to purchase or to learn. And, of course, it was wonderful to meet all the new folks: ones who’d come up to my space after WSCC’s Holiday Gift Shop or as part of the great Art Buzz tour, and others who were customers at Zelda’s and came over to see the sorts of things I offer there. I must also include my other friends who just happened to stop by at some point, and especially those who finally came to visit my studio for the very first time. Here’s hoping we’ll be able to spent time together other again in the new year!

Last but not least, I want to note my appreciation for the (increasing number of) readers of this blog. (I can see from my “statistics” page that you are out there: what can I do to encourage more of you to leave a comment every now and then?)

Best wishes to all!

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Thanks, Hadar!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/07/31

I am truly honored that Hadar Jacobson chose to include not just one but two of my pieces as examples of what can be done with the techniques she describes in her latest (fourth) book, Patterns of Color in Metal Clay.

She begins the volume with an Introduction, “How to Read This Book,” that opens with:

“The projects in this book have been written and re-written while I was teaching them over an entire year, at my studio and other places in the world.”

Our wonderful workshop in Pittsburgh in March 2011 (which I documented throughout much of April) was one of the last few “trial runs” of this material, and I am still soooo glad that I took it!

I had already devoured Hadar’s first three books pretty much on my own (though, for a few bits, I’d discussed those with a handful of guild-mates) and regularly followed her blog. I appreciated all those sources for both specific techniques and general inspiration. I think this book, on its own, is just as useful as are the earlier ones but, still, there is nothing like participating in a workshop for gaining additional insight from a talented artist-teacher and, when you’re really lucky, from your classmates too!

I did talk a bit about All Geared Up right after our workshop. Afterwards, I put up for sale everything from the workshop but this piece: this one I had determined I wanted to keep for myself as a memento. I’m especially thrilled that Hadar managed to show both sides of it, since one of the challenges I regularly set myself is to design pieces that are reversible.

That one appears early in this book, on page 7, along with the very first project. It’s an example of the “inlay” technique, which Hadar introduced in an earlier book (Mixed Metal Jewelry from Metal Clay). But she provided another description of that here, briefly, because it’s a component of many of the other techniques introduced in this book.

(Please note, however, that there is very little redundancy across Hadar’s books. In most cases, when she mentions some technique she’s already addressed, she just refers you to the earlier book. On one hand, that means for some specific projects you also need the earlier books to really follow everything but, on the other, it means that when you do buy later books you are not paying for information you already have…which I very much appreciate. I might guess that she made an exception with Inlay here, simply because she wanted to emphasize how crucial a skill it is to the success of so many subsequent techniques, more than to remind us that we can make lovely pieces using that alone as the earlier book had emphasized.)

The second piece of mine that Hadar chose to include is the one I call Mixed Metaphors, which can be found on page 124. I have not mentioned it, specifically, before this, although I did slip in a different photo of it a few weeks ago when I said a bit about firing boxes. Though the other side is illustrated neither on my blog nor in Hadar’s book, this piece also is reversible. The other side has a simple matte-finish, softly-striped, textured-copper design with the same “droplet” opening to expose the weaving. And it now hangs from a hand-made copper wire-wrapped bail. (I sure hope you continue to be delighted with your purchase, Debby!)

It’s a later piece from the series I started (right after the workshop) that combined weaving (using what I call “flexible greenware,” from Hadar’s first book) with mokume-gane (from her then-upcoming / now-published fourth volume). That entire series posed a number of technical challenges (which I figure is one reason why I’m not yet seeing lots of other examples of that combination–and could be one reason this piece was included…). In many cases, but not all, you can easily combine various different clays in a single piece. What I was trying to do with these felt like it might have been approaching the limit a bit on what was likely to work well (at least in the ways I was then imagining). I’m still testing and tweaking some ideas about mixed-metals and weaving (in between trying to build inventory for fall and winter sales of tried-and-true approaches—hey, this girl has to make enough money somehow to pay for the experimenting that leads to new styles—and keeping up with Hadar’s other new announcements, such as a new version of her Pearl Gray Steel to add to the mix). When I have enough reliably-successful pieces, I’ll write some more about what works well, and what went not-so-well.

But please don’t hold your breath waiting for that. It’s on the to-do list, but I’ve a number of other ideas I hope you’ll find interesting that are competing with it for positions near enough the top of the list to actually have a chance of getting done! Conversely, if you are experimenting with similar approaches, please leave a comment … and a link if you have any photos and/or other commentary to share!

Posted in General Techniques | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Portage Hill Gallery is now carrying my work!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/06/15

I am absolutely thrilled to report that, as of June, 2011, my work is also available at the Portage Hill Gallery in Westfield, NY. It’s on route 394, NW of Lake Chautauqua (just past Mayfield) on your way from there to Lake Erie.

Of all the possible venues for my work, I have to admit that this one is particularly special to me. Because I just love to shop there. Over the years (decades!) this is a place where I’ve bought–both for myself and to give as gifts–paintings, photographs, pottery, CDs (and, before that, cassette tapes), candles and, of course, jewelry as well as several different wooden jewelry boxes. (And that is just a sampling; I’m sure I’m missing some items!)

To have a place where I’ve shopped so happily now be interested in carrying my creations is a real delight. If you ever find yourself in the area, do stop by to check it out. It’s run by Audrey Kay Dowling and Donald Dowling who for years, in addition to the gallery, have been involved in various aspects of education and of the making and displaying of art. Which should give you a clue that they’re really interesting people. Be sure to tell them I suggested you check out their Portage Hill Gallery!

And if you’ve never been to the Chautauqua Institution for any part of their summer program, that’s really something else to check out. Their main summer program runs from late-June through mid-August, supplemented by other events off and on throughout the rest of the year. There are other “Chautauqua-style” events at various locations around the country, but this is the original one and, at least from what I’ve seen in my various travels, the largest and best of them all!

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More reasons why I love my studio!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/06/08

I had a relatively small “Big Links” workshop scheduled to be held at Koolkat Designs at the end of May.

For a number of reasons not worth going into, it became necessary to reschedule it. Three of the participants and I were all available to gather on Sunday, June 5. Except, the Koolkat folks were all tied up with the Three Rivers Arts Festival that day, meaning they were not available to open and later close the shop for us.

Not to worry, however, because Abby, Jane, and Rose were all willing to come over to my studio instead. So that’s what we did. Everyone learned several tricks needed to make metal clay links connect to each other without obvious joins, and everyone had a little bit of clay left over to make a few other trinkets of their choice.

And since I’d dashed out on the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend (the first hot weekend of the year) to buy and then install and connect to the new electrical line (that the board at the Wilkins School Community Center had approved & installed for my studio), we even had a room at a great temperature to work in. (Yes, the dehumidifying nature of the A/C led the clay to dry out quickly, but I just helped everyone to keep kneading in more water between each step, and things came out fine.)

So it was great to have a place where we could do this, and everyone seemed to agree that it was a great place to work. Thanks to all for coming over there!

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Last of the notes from Hadar’s workshop.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/04/12

First of all, for you (as “they” say) dear reader. I’ve been writing away here about Hadar as though everyone already knows who she is. One thing that surprised me about the recent workshop here was that, although most of my classmates were very familiar with her art jewelry work, owned her books, read her blog, etc., not everyone was or did. How could I tell? Mostly by their reaction to the array of pieces she spread out on one of the large tables for us to examine (shown here), and by the ones that she passed around to illustrate various points during her presentations. I didn’t bother trying to take photos of them at the time, because I knew I could find Hadar’s great photos themselves via the various links I just provided above. If you’re not familiar with them, please go take a look. The art jewelry link features plenty of “eye candy” for you to admire (and, perhaps, even purchase), while the other two have a mix of text and photos if you’re hooked by this and want to learn more about how it all works.

Since I started this series of posts with a snapshot of Hadar, I’ve decided I’ll close this set with one too. Shown, she is “sifting” the finished pieces from their carbon bed, but she’s pouring the vessel contents from such a height in order to let the very lightweight ask blow away in the process. (This is better done outdoors than in your workspace, but that’s a topic for a post at some other time.)

I got a real kick out of watching Hadar do this! Though large in “our field” she is not a very tall woman. To get the effect she wanted in this particular setting, therefore, she had to really reach to get the full vessel far enough above the sifter and collection bowl. It made her look, to me at least, like she’d stepped right out of a modern-day Avalon as some sort of “high priestess” making an offering in honor of the “goddesses of metal clay.” It was delightful to have her cross the misty skies to share those rites with us, and to encourage us to follow our own paths to enlightened and creative artistry. Thanks, Hadar!

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Thanks, Cindy G., for the inspiration!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/02/12

Where do you get your inspiration? Your ideas for what to make?

That’s not a question I’d actually think to ask of many artists, though I have heard others ask it. (Of some artists, yes, I might think it, because I truly cannot imagine what would lead someone to make what they’ve produced. But only a few of those are ones for which I’d really want to know the answer, if you know what I mean… And, of the ones where I would want the answer, I’d be more likely to ask one or more specific questions, starting from a specific piece, rather than lead with such a general one.)

I just always figure, in general, that inspiration, while not always direct, still comes from some mix of internal and external sources: something you see or do or hear or … that connects to something you think or feel or wish or dream … that connects to the specific set of skills you happen to have or to be trying to acquire and strengthen … that combines with a variety of other bits of you and your life and comes out as the piece in question.

In the grand scheme of my own life, this idea of being an “artist” myself is a relatively recent development. For decades, yes, I admired art, and bought pieces I wanted when I could, while I worked in various aspects of “scientific visualization.” There I was trying to make concrete images of abstract ideas … so I’m having fun going in what feels like the other direction now. But one thing that has surprised me, since I got involved in all this, is the number of people who try to describe to me other pieces they want to insist that I should make. That is something I never would have imagined telling another artist. Am I a couple standard deviations off the norm on that? Do lots of people think that’s a good conversation starter, one to which I’ve just always been oblivious?

Wave and Curve Toggle ClaspNone of that, of course, applies to the photos with this post. What inspired me to make the above comments just now was simply the concept of where inspiration comes from! In the case of those earrings, above, it was Cindy, a friend from the Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County. She came over to meet me at my studio one day, before we headed out on a project for that; she admired a necklace I had made (a couple years ago now, but whose clasp I still use as a class-sample) and commented on a couple pairs of earrings that I had on display for sale. Hearing her comments on both of those at the same time, it suddenly struck me to make a pair of earrings using a part of the design, and some of the same beads, as the necklace. They’re now for sale at KoolKat in Mt. Lebanon, PA.

Posted in Misc. Musings | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Thanks for the Love.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/02/12

Neither of my entries won a prize in the Show Me the Love challenge but I still wanted to post a quick thank-you to those who did vote for my pieces.

You can see the winners over at the Metal Clay Today website. Second place went to the one I would have put at the top myself. (Even though it came in second, I was glad to see it earn a prize.) The third place price went to the only one of the winners that I actually know. (I enjoyed meeting her at the PMC Guild Conference at Purdue last summer.) I was impressed by many aspects of the piece that earned the first-place prize; although for this particular challenge I wouldn’t have rated any pet reliquary first simply because, while I certainly do appreciate its “love” sentiment, that just didn’t cry out “Valentine’s Day!” to me. But that’s what “elections” are all about, isn’t it? Sorting out the differences among all our opinions.

Although it does not say this explicitly at the Metal Clay Today website right now, I am expecting that images of all the entries will appear in MCT’s Spring 2011 issue once it’s made available online. Thus, if you missed voting during the time the poll was open, you should still be able to catch all of them a bit later on. If you notice any artists whose work you particularly like, why not see if you can find them online and let them know how you feel?!

Oh, and the photo that accompanies this post is one image of another love-themed bead I made, I think it was last autumn.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/01/16

It was so great to meet all the “new” people who stopped by my studio “Open House” this afternoon.

As usual, of course, I was so engaged the whole time that I didn’t even think to take any photos, so the one I’m including shows a piece on which I used one of the craft scissors that several visitors seemed to find a surprising part of my toolkit!

Whether you came by because you’d seen my announcement on this blog, on the schedule for the Wilkins School Community Center, in Stephanie Rex’s article for, or via any other means, it was great to meet you, share interesting discussion and ideas, and imagine many possibilities for the future.

I hope to see you all again soon! (And, if you didn’t make it over for today’s event, I’ll be holding another free demo session this Tuesday evening, from 5 to 8 pm.)


Tuesday night update: Thanks ever so much to the folks who came over tonight! Especially with the breaking news, surprising for “our little neighborhood,” of the local robbery spree, it was great to have people turn out!

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/11/20

Just a quick note to say “Thanks” to everyone who stopped by during my Open House today. Whether you came because you saw the announcement in the WSCC newsletter (or on the board outside), or came up from the Trevanion Gallery show, or just happened to walk by looking for some other session and came in to see what was going on, or were one of my long-time friends who came to actually see this studio I’ve been going on and on about, it was great to see you!

Even if I was so engaged the whole time that I didn’t even think to take any photos, we (me and all those who came by) all have our own visual memories.


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