Saturday, January 30, 2010

steampunk and calder

Steampunk and Alexander Calder... huh? I know - an odd combo, but miraculously, lovingly placed before me in a most appetizing way this week. I had no idea what "steampunk" was when my friend Jean Yates told me she had a necklace in the book, "Steampunk Style Jewelry: Victorian, Fantasy, and Mechanical Necklaces, Bracelets, and Earrings", by Jean Campbell, so I googled over to Wikipedia and found this: "Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction and speculative fiction, frequently featuring elements of fantasy, that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date...". This turns out to be something I like.... a lot.

The idea has got my head spinning, and the word steampunk coming out of my mouth just about every other word. I'm sure I'm really annoying to the people around me, but what can I do? Doesn't this stuff just scream jewelry? Why, yes! Look at this most marvelous ring by Etsy artist Daniel Proulx of Catherinette Rings Steampunk. I must possess...

The gears are turning madly in my brain, and steam is jetting out of my ears. Oh, the things I want to make with beads and wire and other strange bits... after I buy one of Daniel's rings, of course... not to copy, no, no, no... but to give me courage and super powers.

And as if this wasn't enough, Mitzi started talking about Alexander Calder, the guy most of us remember, at least subconsciously, as the artist who put mobiles on the map.

He did a lot of other work too though. There were paintings and sculpture, as you might expect from a "real" artist, but what grabs my attention is his love of wire. Oh man... beautiful, humble, exquisite wire. He made wire sculpture and jewelry and even kitchen utensils for his wife because he wanted even the most functional items in life to be beautiful too. I am completely smitten.

Connecting the dots, Mitzi and I are going "thrifting" in Yreka again today, in search of odd kitchen tools that need repair, love, and embellishment. That's Mitzi's project, and a worthy one I might take up myself. But my focus is still jewlery; personal adornment to empower the very spirit of the wearer. Where will all this manic inspiration lead? How should I know? My job is only to pay attention and follow along. Off to Yreka!

Monday, January 25, 2010

change one thing

I read somewhere once, "if you want things change, go outside and move a rock". It's true. At least I believe it's true. If you change one thing, you change everything. It's the Butterfly Effect, where the ripple of a wing affects everything around it, and on, and on, and on...

I did not see these beads coming. All I did was move to a lake, and set up a tent. I changed something, and in the process, everything changed. I've never made anything like these before, and I didn't plan to make them when I sat down at the torch the other day. All I knew was it was time to get back to work, and so I sat down to play. I'm not responsible for the results. All I need to do is show up.

There's a lot of comfort in letting go of control. The little changes require our participation. We're the ones with the hands. After we do our rock-kicking ceremonies, all we have to do is get out of the way and see what surfaces. If it can happen with beads, just imagine...

Thursday, January 21, 2010


The wind last night was the worst yet. Somehow I managed to just check out, and slept through it until after eight this morning. A good sleep does wonders. When I woke up, the wind had stopped, the sun was shining, and I had bead ideas in my head for the first time in months. A friend suggested that I start drawing. Draw anything, she said. So I drew the beads I saw in my head. It's a good thing I make beads better than I draw them. At least the sketches help me remember those early morning wake-up thoughts. Those are the inspirations that are so easily lost, so fragile they can wander off with the steam from my tea cup, lost in the mist... poof... gone forever. A habit I haven't very successfully developed is to always keep a notebook handy. Always. I'm practicing. Always practicing.

Ready to get back to work, Rick helped me set up the new EZ UP so we can get the studio together. I love how it sits there on its little hillside, with a sweeping view out the front to the lake. It feels like a little clubhouse all my own, with a noticeable absence of laundry machines and garden tools. It's mine, all mine, the first dedicated studio space I've ever had. I am absolutely giddy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


The wind tramples through here like a freight train. I hear it off in the distance, down in the canyon, and listen tensely as it rolls closer and closer, louder and louder, and then blasts the side of the trailer, startling the dogs and tossing us like a boat at sea. Moments later I hear it move off into the distance, up the hill above us, dragging along stray leaves and occasionally knocking down a dead tree branch.

Could these be the Winds Of Change I've heard so much about? Unseen and undeniable, impossible to ignore, demanding full attention and awareness. Stay awake!, says the wind no matter if it's day or night. Wake up. Listen. Let go. Watch what blows away, and what blows in...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

moving on up

Notice anything different? I just found this most marvelous new "skin" for my blog. It was hard to choose from all the beauties offered to me, so I might decide to switch it up fairly often. After all... change is the only thing we can really count on. Might as well make the most of it.

We've moved ourselves up to Emigrant Lake. I adore it here so far. We've come from the cozy little glen by the stream to what feels like a big wonderful tree house. We're up high on a hillside, looking down to the lake, and up the slope behind us through hundreds of oak trees. We really do live a charmed life. And to think, three weeks ago we nearly took a hideous space in a ghastly park in town, just to be sure we had somewhere to spend the summer. SO glad we decided to trust that something better would find us. We didn't do it. We just waited and trusted, and here we are. The more I live that belief, the more it proves to be true. Constant practice is all it takes, and we know how easy that isn't!

Lucy and I rode in the trailer, to be sure nothing crashed in transit. We didn't take a lot of time to stow things, since we were going to get them out again just a few minutes later. The entire trip, from campsite to campsite took five minutes. That's my kind of move. Now as it starts to get dark, we're all settled in and ready to make some gooey-good mac & cheese, and pop the cork on some cheap champagne. And this is the view from our front door. Not bad, huh?

Friday, January 15, 2010


Moving through this odd vacuum I seem to be stuck in, I realize that if I stop struggling, there is no more struggle... Now I'm just floating, keeping my head above water, waiting to be guided to shore. I know that nature doesn't do vacuums. The void will be filled, and it's not up to me to fill it. Interestingly, and I'm sure not merely coincidentally, I have lost my voice. Unable to speak, I can only shut up and listen. Hmmm...

A new gig of sorts has presented itself, and we've accepted. Rick and I are to be volunteer "camp hosts" at Emigrant Lake this summer. And in this case, "summer" starts early. We're pulling up stakes tomorrow morning, and rolling the old gypsy wagon across the highway, about a five minute trip, to our new "home". The park doesn't open to campers until March or April - I'm not clear on that yet - but we get to be up there, helping ready the place for the summer crowds. Rick and I will be on the tent side of the campground, but will have a nice (free) RV site with hookups as our payment for volunteering. We will be in charge of things like hanging "reserved" tags on camp sites and selling firewood to the happy campers. Not too difficult. Maybe best of all is that we get to be up there for several weeks while the park is closed. I think there's only one other seasonal employee living up there, and county parks folks who come in during the day. Sounds beyond wonderful to me.

So here we go, floating, waiting, breathing. Remember to breathe... Once the trailer is set up and leveled, we'll pop out the new EZup and make a studio. I guess I'll make beads, but maybe something else will occur to me too. I'll be quiet and listen...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


If you've been riding along with me here for a while, you know I can get more than a little discouraged sometimes. We all do... don't we? I see it all around me, and it's usually my job to say something comforting and encouraging. Cheer up, Ducky; everything's gonna be fine. And I believe it when I say it to somebody else, but when I'm the one bumped into the corner, banging my head on the wall, unable to find even a little window, let alone a door... well, then it's not so simple.

My dilemma at the moment is I just don't know what to do. I've had doubts about the reliability of beads as little income producers for a long time, but now I'm even beginning to doubt my own instincts. This is not good. This week, for the first time in years, I have not sold one single bead. Not one. I'm baffled. Have I been fired from my job? Isn't someone supposed to tell me? Don't I at least get to put all my stuff in a box and wander out to the street, dazzled by the blinding sunlight I'd forgotten to go out and play in for so long? And what about unemployment? Where's my little government subsidy? Where's my severance package? Where's my pat on the head and mumbled excuse? Thanks Kim. You've done a great job, but we just don't need you anymore...

OK, I'm being dramatic. Artists are like that. We can also be intensely self-indulgent. I sat up late last night, crying and drinking wine. Not pretty, and it didn't help. This morning I've taken it to a new level. I've caught Rick's cold, which is something I never do. I do not get sick. I'm too busy, too mean, too focused to get sick. I can't even say, I don't have time for this. I do have time. I can lounge around all day, for days even. It won't make a bit of difference to anybody but me. And I'm so mad at me right now, for not knowing what to do, I feel some sort of punishment is in order. Crazy. I know.

But way underneath it all, I also know that everything is temporary. Everything. This mood will pass. I'll hibernate for a few days and rest up for... whatever is next. Something is next. I just can't see it yet. Maybe it's still beads. Maybe it's something new. I've been playing with an idea that could possibly become a sweet little business. It's too soon to tell. I think the message I'm getting here, is something like, Shut up Kim. Stop trying to figure it all out. Rest, read, drink tea, knit. Rest some more. Wait and see. It will all be alright...

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I knew this studio limbo I've been in would pay off in some way. I can never predict how or when, and I think patience is one of my big lessons in life. I'm getting better, little by little, but some days my battle cry is still ,"Patience Now!". These last few weeks have been a nice change of pace, with a rattled schedule, infrequent studio time, and some nice hits of travel. I've had an idea brewing on a back burner for weeks and weeks, and it's finally emerging in a somewhat complete form. I spent all day yesterday working on samples for this new "product", obsessed to the point where I didn't notice until well after dinner that I hadn't been outside all day. I looked out the window and let Rick take the dogs out. I was not going to be distracted.

This New Thing is a bit of a leap for me. Yes, it's still a bead, and it's not even something I haven't made before. What's different is I feel drawn to allowing other people into the process by inviting them to personalize these beads with their own tiny mementos. This could totally blow up in my face, but I've had a dirty face before...

What is it, what is it? Well here, I'll show you. It's a bad photo, irrationally snapped under a yellow light bulb, long after dark. I will take better pictures today...

I call these Treasure Globes. They're hollow glass bubbles, like the ones I've made Beach Bubbles and Snow Globes with, but these are to be filled with personal trinkets, sent to me by the buyers of the beads. They're like tiny wearable time capsules or scrapbooks. The ones you see here are filled with various things from my own little/big world. Sand from Monterey, combined with tiny glass balls, big sparkly CZs, and itsy bitsy seashells. A scrap of lace, a tiny hand written note, and two heart shaped CZ rubies. A lock of hair, glass balls, dried lavender, CZs, and a little pink heart. The silver end caps are stamped with names and dates. Each one is a breath, a moment, a momentito, captured in time.

And interestingly, to me anyway, is that I've had a budding interest in collage art recently. I'm beginning to see how the pieces of all this newness will all fit together (pun intended). And best of all, I'm relaxed enough to enjoy this weird progression without putting too much pressure on myself do deliver. It's a little like having a baby. The baby will arrive when its good and ready. All I have to do is show up and breathe, and be willing to do the work.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

all i want is a room somewhere

I've been putting off work for a couple of weeks. It's pretty convenient to blame it on the holidays, but the truth is, I'm just kind of stuck right now. Forced creativity, for me anyway, just turns into a big pile of poo. (I know there are at least a couple of kids who read this, so I hesitate to use some of my favorite words, like shit, for instance. Please feel free to insert such words wherever you think I might use them, because you're probably right.) Forced creativity does little more than create constipation, sometimes literally, so the best thing I know to do is forget about making stuff for a while. There are plenty of other long-neglected things just waiting to be done.

I have three big projects in mind this week. Maybe four or five. I'll feel good if I get even one of them done. First, I have beads to post in my BeadShop, which would be a good idea, since the beads are still our only source of income. I also have a new "product" in the works. I want to offer "custom stuffed" globe beads, like the Beach Bubbles and Snow Globes, but with the buyer's own bit of personal niceness inside. There are details to be worked out, and I'm on it. Really. Then there's the loading of music to the new ipod my kids gave me, the testing of the new MiFi we got from Verizon to insure internet access in our weird little world, and the designing of a new website and biz card for Rick (more on that later). I'm exhausted already, and I'm still in bed! But the one Big Thing that really needs to be done is to move my studio from Mitzi's garage to my own little space...

Yes, it's time to move again. I've been sharing my dear cousin's garage/studio since October, and while it's a pleasant arrangement for both of us, it's not a very productive one for me. Sucks to have to make a living, but it's likely to be necessary for the rest of my life. I've been pondering my options for weeks now, considering renting studio space or a little house, or even trying to buy a modest little condo to flip in a couple of years after we sell the Taos house. Nothing seemed quite right. We actually like living in the trailer, bizarre as I know that sounds to some of you, and the expense of the other plans was more than we really wanted to commit to. Remember, the idea here is to live small and simply, and not to spend every waking moment working to pay a mortgage so we have a place to work. Did that already. Didn't like it.

So I thought and I thought, and then I just let go of it. And as soon as I did that, a different idea came to me. Funny how that happens. Why not set up my own little studio, right here at "home", in a cheery little EZup? Why not indeed... It makes perfect sense. It's compact, but big enough for my needs, it's portable, it's inexpensive, it's heatable and well ventilated, it's wind resistant, water resistant, and fire retardant, and best of all, it can be set up right outside my own little door. This is a head-smackingly good idea, if I do say so myself, which I do, because I know it wasn't really "my" idea at all. I continued to think about it for another week, and talked to Rick about it, and looked around online for other options, just in case. Finally, yesterday, testing my new MiFi "personal hotspot" in the truck on the way home from Medford, I took a deep breath and ordered a gleaming new EZup. It will be here in three days, so I have some prep work to do.

I'm excited about this next turn of events. I need this. Need to have my own little studio, free of distractions, just waiting there in easy reach any time I feel inspiration strike. And I know it will, once I give it some space. Inspiration needs a room of its own, even if it's only a little 10x10 tent. And of course, you know me, I'll probably dress it up a bit...