Monday, May 31, 2010

Muse of the North

every once in a while I get the urge to work in Leather.
Lucky for me, I live in a town that has a good leather supplier (the leather factory/Tandy leather) so I have fast access to diverse tools and supplies and beautiful supple leathers.

this is one of the leather bracelets I made this spring. I love pairing the softness of leather with the solid structure of handmade metal elements. I think my love of leather originates from my years of working with horses as a youth.

I was a horse obsessed kid- ask anyone who I went to school with- they'll roll their eyes and agree- the only other thing I was ever really excited about was making things- Art, industrial arts and the like.
when I work with leather I feel a connection to my horse loving roots- I feel the pull of my Irish ancestors, and the soft muzzles of all the horses I have had the privilege to encounter.

This bracelet I made when it was still quite cool here in Tucson- cool meaning that I didn't have to have the A/C on while in my studio-

Deerskin, white and brown leather, brass heishi and sterling 
metal elements with turquoise and coral chip inlays 

This piece comes from a different muse- She was singing her song of encouragement from the northern winds. I imagined her as an old Eskimo woman, wintering with expertise in the North- calling her enchantments to nature, and encouraging my leather working mania in a soft, wise song.

I hope I meet her again.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Red green buckle , as painting

did you know I graduated SMFA Boston as a painter? I just haven't been working in 2 d for the past 10 years...but it's starting to creep back into my work, as in this belt buckle. Those of you who I've known for a while can hopefully see the connection....

Belt buckle, aluminum, brass, copper, penny, spray paint and enamel paint. (belt strap- not shown- is re-purposed industrial rubber flooring...a material that I love to work with)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

may 25 2010 Kathy D's button11

I had a visit from a new friend from out of town today (who I met this year during the Spring Open studios ) She surprised me with a gift of a couple of bags of vintage Czech glass buttons from her old bead and button store in the Seattle area.
I thought it fitting that today's ring be a button ring-
"for Kathy D"- leather, Czech glass button and a brass rivet
:-) thanks friend!

Friday, May 21, 2010

bench pins

A bench pin is one of the most custom tools in a metalsmith's toolbox. They start as an ordinary piece of wood and become a tool as individual as the artist themselves.

I've seen many different forms and ways of modifying them. the one from the Flickr image is an old one of mine (I swap them out every few years as they become too mangled for me to be happy with them just as a personal preference)How to start? simply saw into your bench pin- (I'd go about an inch deep) if you think a notch will help you make a notch....don't be afraid to change it around to something that looks different than everyone else's...we all are individuals, and work in many diverse ways.

here's a  a pic I took of a bench pin at a well known jeweler's shop I visited last was the first time I saw pegs attached to a pin, so I had to get a pic...
see? pretty different, but perfect for what he was doing...and quite a cool piece of sculpture too if you ask me :-)

one thing that is helpful as you sit at a bench pin is your positioning- I recommend to have the shoulder of your dominant hand (right for me) lined up with the bench pin--just shift your chair to the left slightly instead of having the bench pin straight on-- this simple adjustment in your positioning seems to help many 'smiths-beginners and more seasoned metalsmiths alike.

(this image is also the avatar for my Facebook Metalsmithing group called "Metalsmiths Unite!"  it's an informal, friendly, non-competitive community of metalsmiths...come and join us if you are looking for a group of friendly 'smiths!)

So- My advice to newbie smiths is to dig in and have fun...and don't be afraid to get your bench pin a little messy :-)
happy 'smithing!- MBZ

May 21 2010 rad #89 little carciofo 1

I was picking through my garden today, pulling weeds, checking on my plants- I was sad to see my little artichoke plant that was in front of my studio had given up for the year (it's shrunk down to a little meager plant..)

However, I did finally see that it had made an effort...and grew me a teeny weeny flower.

Good job plant! you gave me my ring of the day inspiration:-)
I paired the tiny Carciofo with one of my many Poppy seed pods from my spring wildflowers. the structure of the ring is pewter wire (wrapped in a loose "vine" ring.)

I like the gesture of the swooping wire- up to the "maraca" poppy pod.

It's very festive :-) A celebration of garden seasons! While most of the country is getting going on their gardens, here in Southern Arizona we are in our dry season. Which pretty much means it is unbearably hot and dry outside- what we call "driving with oven mitts weather"...because your car has turned into an oven.

In about a month or so we start monsoon season- when the desert sky becomes magnificent with dark rumbling clouds and flashy displays of lightning. We only hope that rain comes too...

Ok- that's my little ditty about AZ- Here's to Northern Raindrops making their way south!

ciao- MBZ

ps- Carciofo = Artichoke (singular)in Italian. it's pronounced Car- choff- oh.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

List of the day

Sometimes I just like to list is a bit like composing poetry
Here's a list that I made today

Maureen has.....
A) lived in many place

B) a lot of incredibly talented and cool friends

C) a love of making things

D) a tendency to multitask

E) a passion for creative music

F) an interesting family

G) an odd sense of humor

H) a few etsy shops

I) this metalsmithing group called "Metalsmiths Unite"

J) a new puppy

K) an American accent when speaking Italian

L) an old grouchy cat

M) Blue toenail polish

N) a few pounds to lose

O) a tendency to list things

P) an addiction to Project Runway and Top Chef

Q) artichokes in her garden

R) an ounce of fine silver on her at all times

S) a wildflower garden every spring

T) about 5 cups of tea each day

U) an Italian Astro-physicist as a husband

V) a fondness for magenta, orange and green

W) Friends that will read this entire list

X) dust bunnies

Y) not enough bookshelves

Z) little ears

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ring a day - inspired by you

Tell me your ring size! I'm looking for inspirations for the ring a day project- and I'd love to design a piece in your honor.

These will be fast and fun- I will take inspiration from what I think I know about you- and I will post an image of the piece here on my blog when it is done (and on your Facebook page if we are connected through Facebook)

I cannot promise that I will get to everyone-(but I'll try) I will be picking the names at random during the duration of my ring a day year (2010) . I make rings for this project during the weekdays only  and I am currently on ring #88.

So...what do you say? :-) let's make some rings!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Arizona SB1070- what labels?

This ring and my other "textie" label rings are my response to the current immigration debate that is plaguing Arizona (my current home) and the US. I wonder, would wearing this ring cause "reasonable suspicion?" and, does it matter where you come from, as long as you are living a peaceful and productive life?

I live in Tucson, have been here on and off for 18 years. (I'm originally from the East coast)
I love that this community is diverse and has a rich cultural tradition that stems from it's origins as a Mexican outpost. We as a family know many different immigrant families here- most of them are from Mexico- but many are also from Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

My husband is a recent immigrant to the US from Italy. He has felt the terror of "la Migra"-immigration patrol-. A few years ago we drove to San Diego from Tucson to attend a conference on Astronomy and Telescopes. Guido was set to present a paper and also had a few key roles to play in the conference as a representative on the University of Arizona.

When we were driving to California we were stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint- when I'm driving they usually just peek into the car and say "have a nice day" and that's it. (it always makes me nervous anyways) Well, at this point in the trip Guido was driving- when we pulled up to the stop they looked at him and asked if he was born in the US. Guido (with his cute Italian accent) said "I was born in Italy" and that's where it all started.... 

They demanded to see his passport- (we were in the US) he showed them his AZ driver's license.Then they asked for his green card (he didn't have it yet- was here on a work visa) and when he told them that his passport was at home (300 miles away in Tucson) the pulled the car over and started to threaten him with deportation. Yes, that's right- deportation. With his American wife and child in the car. A man who has been a key scientist on one of the most important telescopes in the world- they were threatening to deport him. Some divine power came over me and I managed to not lose my temper. After 30 minutes of this discussion with the Border Patrol agent he finally let us go- with the warning that we had better get someone to fed ex us his Passport because if we got stopped again Guido would be taken into custody. It was absolutely ridiculous and terrifying- and we have never driven to the coast since.

2 years ago Guido got his citizenship. He voted for the first time for the US president (Yay!) and he is happy to be a part of our democracy. And then, there came Jan Brewer.

When President Obama tapped our Governor Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security we knew that Arizona would take a hit. When Janet left for Washington  we were saddled with a right wing backwards thinking Governor, Jan Brewer. Since she has been in office our education funding has been slashed to pieces and the state has gone into a financial free fall. The passing of the onerous SB1070 is the final straw.

This whole debate and law in AZ sickens me and many of my friends here in Tucson. I welcome it's repeal and a healthy thoughtful concentrated debate and solution to our immigration policy. We cannot let families be torn apart by a knee jerk , poorly conceived law. Sadly I do believe that things are going to worsen because of the amount of fear that it generates and by the latent racial prejudice that it promotes. We already have had a couple of reports on the news of "illegals" committing violent crimes- only to find out a day or two later that it was no immigrant- it was an idiot meth head.
I can only hope that AZ can find a way to resolve this fear mongering and look ahead to a more thoughtful and humane solution.

One Love one heart, Let's get together and it will be alright.


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