Callanwolde Arts Festival, January 2016

After missing last year’s show due to waiting too long to put in my application (it happens!), I was back at the Callanwolde Arts Festival this year. There’s a lot to like about this show! It is one of the few winter options available in the area, which is nice since Life prevents me from doing the winter circuit in Florida. It’s held at the Callanwolde Arts Center, the Tudor Revivalmansion that was home to the Charles Howard Candler family. Yes, THOSE Candlers, who brought us Coca-Cola and contributed large amounts of time & money to Atlanta during the late 19th & 20th centuries. It normally draws a good crowd because of the timing and the opportunity to see the mansion for a much smaller fee than normal.

Callanwolde Arts Festival booth

I had a great spot this year, in the upstairs Gallery right at the top of the Grand Staircase. With painter Demone Phelps on one side and a watercolor artist on the other, their panels gave me a nice backdrop for my corner. I was able to try out a new layout, which I was pleased with and will likely use again when the situation arises. The large pedestal accessible on three sides made up for having a smaller space than I am used to. This was also a great opportunity to test out the lighting setup I’ve been working on, allowing me to discover that I really do need clip-on lamps for the frame holding the earrings so they won’t keep disappearing into the shadows. After all, every time you do a show you can try something new, see what works and what doesn’t, and keep or discard as results and circumstances dictate.

Turbine Pendants, Callanwolde Arts Festival

The threat of wintry weather kept a lot of people away, but those who came were an appreciative audience.  The turbine pendants remain a big hit, while a number of other items garnered many compliments and some sales. The Callanwolde Arts Festival makes for a nice break from my usual winter studio hibernation, plus I get to see some of my art friends during that gap from November to early April.

Earrings for the Geeks

Maker Faire Atlanta is coming up in just a few weeks (Saturday/Sunday October 3-4) in downtown Decatur. As a definite Geek in Good Standing, I’ve participated in it every year except one. It’s always one of my favorite events of the year just because it’s so different from the usual art festival. The focus is on not just having work available for sale, but on showing how I do what I do. I enjoy demonstrating, so this is perfect! I get my husband to handle the sales while I play around with whatever tools and materials I am willing to haul over there. At an event like that, I don’t feel the pressure to create perfect items — I can experiment and be spontaneous in public, and the attendees enjoy both the product AND the process.

Last year one young woman came by with a pair of RAM sticks wondering if there was any way to make them into, maybe, earrings? Well, why not?? I had a saw, I had findings, I was good to go. Within about 10 minutes I had cut down the circuit boards, added ear hooks, and she had a beautifully geeky pair of earrings to go with her technophile necklace.

A Happy Customer

On Saturday at the Piedmont Park Arts Festival, a mother and her young children stopped in to my booth on their way to the pool. They looked at some of my pendants, and then asked if I had any stars. I showed them my chainmaille Celtic Star pendants, but they were just too big. The mother explained that she was looking for a star pendant for her four-year-old daughter, whose beloved necklace had broken.

Well, of course my adult-sized pendants were going to be too big for a four year old! But I had an idea — I showed her the stainless steel Northern Star earrings I had, and asked if a pendant the size of one of those stars (about an inch in diameter) would work. She thought it would, and her daughter liked the look of them, so I offered to make a special one for her while they were at the pool if I wasn’t swamped with customers.

It was busy, but I got it made, putting in the last rings just as they came back from the pool. We put it on one of the leather cords I get from Valerie Stickles, a short gray one, and placed it on her daughter.

Happy Young Customer
Wearing her custom-made Northern Star pendant

I think she’s pleased. In fact, when the family came back to the pool on Sunday, she insisted on coming by my booth to thank me again, with a big smile on her face. Plus, as an artist I have to enjoy the fact that her mother was willing to buy her a custom, handcrafted piece of art rather than a imported mass-market trinket!

New beads 7/25/15

Beads made 7/25/15 (not cleaned)

I finally dug my way through my studio to my torch this week, thanks to cleaning out the office closet for some added storage. Any time it’s been a while since I’ve turned on the torch, I kind of wonder if I’ve lost my touch in the interim. So I didn’t try anything tricky last night; I started with a couple of twisties, and then used them for some basic beads of various sizes and shapes. I only burned through one mandrel, a 1/16″ one while making three beads on it, but I actually managed to save all three of them. These haven’t been cleaned yet, since I wait until I have a big ol’ batch to do before I sit down to clean them all at once.

The tiny ones are for fellow artist Polly Becton (Treasures From the Sea). She uses some of my beads as accents in her seashell jewelry, & I had promised more earring beads to her some time ago. I don’t have any plan for the larger ones yet, so I will just have to see what they become.

Beads made 7/25/15

Mermaid Pendant Chain — Work in Progress

Mermaid pendant chain for Momilami, in progress
Mermaid pendant chain for Momilami, in progress

At TribalCon, a fellow dancer and professional mermaid (yes, there is such a thing!) asked if I could make a new chain for her beloved mermaid pendant. It had to stand up to both salt water and chlorinated pool water as well as be strong enough to hold the pendant. The pendant itself is Tibetan silver and carved bone, so the only real possibliity for the material was stainless steel. She liked the look of the Full Persian weave, so I’m creating a graduated Full Persian chain in square wire stainless steel. The square wire rings do make the piece heavier but their strong edges enhance the carved look of the pendant itself.

In this picture, I just have the back part of the chain to go, but have realized that I have no clasp that will be strong enough to hold it, so it is going to be a continuous, slip-over-the-head chain.

Spring Festival on Ponce

Our 2012 outdoor show season started this past weekend with the Spring Festival on Ponce, put on by the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces. We could not have asked for better weather over the weekend, though a little less breeze might have been appreciated since our drapes kept blowing around and the banner kept trying to hit Julia in the back of the head!

We had our same spot from the summer show, between a large tree a lovely planted area, rather convenient to the portable toilets and the Food Court — always important! Our neighbors Diane Dean and Jennifer Ingram were pleasant company, and we stayed well-fed courtesy of S & J Woodfired Pizza (YUM) and the King of Pops. On Saturday Andrea brought her current foster Great Pyrenees, Buster, to show him off and socialize him while raising awareness of the breed. Buster was certainly a hit — everyone wanted to greet and pet him, which drew attention to our tent, of course.

Saturday afternoon there was HUGE excitement through the festival grounds, as a small contingent of VIPs made their way along the pathway — several large intimidating gentlemen in suits and with earphones surrounding…former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn. We did not actually get to speak with them, being busy with customers, but it was exciting to know that they were there! Later on in the afternoon Andrea and Buster did get to speak with civil rights movement icon Congressman John Lewis (D-GA).

One of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution photographers was out taking pictures and asked if he could shoot some at our booth. We didn’t make the newspaper, but we DID make the AccessAtlanta photo gallery for the festival:

The Olmstead Linear Park is just a beautiful venue for an art festival. Add in a beautiful spring weekend and crowds of people admiring our beads and jewelry and what more could we want? The only bad thing that happened was when three containers of Julia’s jump rings took a nosedive onto the turf and a number of the compartments popped open — jump rings ALL in the turf! We got most of them up, but what a mess! Julia will be, no doubt, sorting rings for WEEKS to come.

We love doing the AFFPS shows because Patrick Dennis and Randall Fox do such a great job of organizing the events and take good care of their vendors. So here’s another shout-out to them — thanks, gentlemen!!

Playing with maille on my break

Between shows, our teaching jobs, occasional commission orders, and everything else, neither Andrea nor I have had a lot of time to make anything for ourselves. So I, at least, am taking advantage of the holiday lull to do so. I have had a couple of chain maille kits from Blue Buddha Boutique sitting in my drawer for months now, so I pulled them out yesterday. I don’t often get kits any more, but I had gotten these two because both weaves use a variety of different rings, and the kits were the quick & dirty to get exactly what I needed to try each one out.

After looking at the tutorials to refresh my memory about what each one looked involved, I decided I’d start with the Glass Caterpillar bracelet. Mine has copper rings, hematite glass rings, and blue iris beads, and I’m liking the contrast as it goes together. I have to say that putting together the center part of the bracelet was easy-peasy, but now that I’m going the edging down the sides it’s a little more challenging because things are tightening up.

Once I get this one done I’ll switch over to the Cylon kit, which is going to be very different for me color-wise — jewelry brass and copper for the chains, and BBB’s Fire Mix (reds! yellows! oranges!) for the connector rings. I’m not sure what possessed me on that one, unless I was trying to break out of my normal blue/purple/green color rut, perhaps?

I’m excited about having a couple of awesome new pieces for myself. I just am not sure, though, what I am going to do if someone tries to buy either of these right off my wrist like that customer did at the September bead show with my European 4-1 stainless steel cuff! Oh, right, and I have to make another one to replace that also — then I guess it’ll be back to production for spring.

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