Have a cow

'Mover and Shaker' Pin, pendant and bag tag
‘Moover and Shaker’ Pin, pendant and bag tag

"You Moove Me" Pin, pendant and bag tag
“You Moove Me” Pin, pendant and bag tag
"A Moodern Heart" pin, pendant and bag tag
“A Moodern Heart” pin, pendant and bag tag

Three of my latest cow pins/pendants/bagtags are available for bids this Saturday at the Salmonberry School Silent Auction and Dinner on Orcas Island – the school’s annual fundraiser. Each pin measures 2.5″ x 2″ and is handstamped and carved from brown clay that is then glazed in iron oxide and satin white. If there’s one you like, contact me at optimismandco@gmail.com with your bid (any amount) BEFORE 3pm Pacific Standard Time, Saturday, May 4th and I’ll put your name on the bid list. I’ll contact you with delivery details if you win!

My 110 year old find – the beauty in age




IMG_8878I am drawing inspiration from this palm-sized leather-bound book with a gold stenciled cover that reads “Guide To Piety” and is very likely over a 110 years old! A schedule of holy days in the beginning pages starts from 1902 and ends in 1928. I can barely make out the cursive handwriting in faded pencil on the inside cover. Perhaps it was a gift that became a reliable talisman on a bedside table, held so much the leather is worn.

Let me explain. The Orcas Library holds a book sale a few times a year and last Saturday was the Winter Sale. We always make a point to go – one part out of an obligation to support one of our favourite places on Orcas, one part something to do with the kids and one part succumbing to the thrill of the hunt. Books, mostly donated by islanders – from gorgeous coffee table books to Beginning Readers – are priced from 50 cents to $2 for hardcovers. Isn’t it bewildering that the books are cheaper than gift wrap, not to mention premium rolls of toilet paper? And yet, the sale was a quiet affair. If this had been at Walmart and on DVDs…

But I digress, I wanted to show off my score – this little book was too beautifully distressed for me not to pick up. There is something so simple and quiet about its appeal, sitting on that ‘Religious’ sale table amidst newer titles that just seemed to demand your piety, and loudly too – so loud I usually shuffle past. *Laugh* Which has left me wondering, is this some sort of sign? In the middle of Lent, too.

Putting it out there

Display box of 5 ceramic pendants, embellished with seashells, found beads, jadeite stones and vintage buttons.  For individual purchase.  Prices from USD68 to USD128.
Five handcarved ceramic pendants, embellished with seashells, found beads, jadeite stones and vintage buttons. Available as a set or individually.

My first showing of work on Orcas Island!  I exhibited two sets of ceramic jewelry in keeping with the show’s theme of Wearable Art.  I was surprised to find myself the only artist to show jewelry (not a bad thing on hindsight), which serendipitously complemented the sumptuously handmade, hand beaded cloaks, costumes, fabric, masks and puppets on display. The costume works of Judy Tepley was astounding in their detail and intricacy, and I felt humbled thinking of the effort I spent in the mere bits of beading and threading I incorporated in my set of ceramic pendants above.

The show opened on Dec 1 with a warm reception that was perfectly family-friendly, with artists on hand to help with mask making and sock puppet creations, not to mention a delightful spread of pre-Christmas bites.  My boys thus occupied, gave me time to chat with other artists and guests I have never met.  It was a nice low-key debut personally.

I love the custom-framed box above and want to give special mention to its designer and maker –  the very creative Andy Troxel – who used seasoned wood reclaimed from the humble pallet, and pulled it all together  at a week’s notice.  Thank you, Andy!

Hung at the entrance foyer of Orcas Center for the Wearable Art Show.
Hung at the entrance foyer of Orcas Center for the Wearable Art Show.
My second display at the Show – a collection of elegantly simple ceramic pendants in earth colored glazes, inspired by the twigs and the curled shavings of tree bark picked up while beachcombing on Orcas Island.

Duck, Duck, Goose

I agree, the title for this post needs reworking, but it’s the newest game Sammy picked up at preschool and he has been walking around saying “Duck, Duck, Goose”.  In any case, this waterfowl pitcher is a different form I am experimenting with.  It has a more elongated base and a wider mouth.  The effect, to me, is a bird on the water.  The combination of form, texture and glaze recalls the style from a couple of decades earlier.  Don’t you think?

Hand-built ceramic slab with handcarved surface detail. Commercial glazes of contrasting colors on the inside and outside, iron oxide wash, fired to Cone 6.



Mr Jay Next Door

The idea for this little guy came from the beautiful midnight blue family of jays that lived in the tree next door all summer long.  I miss them.  The photo does not do enough justice to the actual glaze, which is a deep, dusky charcoal with undercurrents of blue.

Mr. Jay
Hand-built slab with hand carved textured details. Commercial glaze fired to Cone 6.
Mr. Jay (Top)

Past Life Of A Pendant

When I design something, I do think about how it can be used, but this little piece surprised me.  Can you tell what this pendant was originally designed for?

Anvil Blue on waxed cords

Not so successful in its original purpose, I strung it on three waxed cords on a whim, the night before a sale, and sold four of these the next day. Something about the shape, the way it sits on the neckline or where it leads the eye, flatters the wearer.  Dare I say sexy?   Someone said it had a retro reference, well, an added bonus.   It looked good with the bare shoulder styles in tropical Singapore.  I left it at that.

Anvil Blue on Wool

On Orcas, where the pacific Northwest summer breeze is more unpredictable, I strung the last pendant in this style on a necklace that I had made using curly knitting wool that I had woven like a ‘friendship band’ in some sections, and it changed the look of the pendant immediately.  It can be worn lower on the front, over turtlenecks and sweaters, almost like a long, loose scarf, warm and fuzzy around the neck. Neat.  Now I have a versatile accessory that adapts to the seasons.  It would be fun to wrap around the waist as a belt buckle too.   To think it started life as a napkin ring.

I once was a napkin ring