Friday, February 27, 2009

Hanging at the Baum

I just spent the day at the
Baum School in central Allentown, PA, where my friend Janna Gregonis teaches jewelry classes. The Baum is a fantastic regional resource for artists of all ages and the jewelry students are an enthusiastic mix; I squeezed into the bench between a high-spirited emergency room PA and a white-haired firecracker celebrating 61 years of marriage (or to be specific, "Twelve good years!").

My own "studio" is comprised of hand tools stuffed into a plastic box, so I get a little tunnel-vision when I have the chance to use torches, rolling mills, anvils, and the like. I worked on 4 rings, including 2 cocktail honkers that I started planning last year when such things were in style. Since I never really had much basic training as a metalsmith Janna had to provide some coaching, and I can now say with certainty that if I lived within a 3-state radius I'd sign up for her classes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Another carved alder panel--similar to
Daphne, but Glance is a single panel and the eye is considerably larger.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Well Done

In addition to my recent forays into larger work (by which I mean 6 inches rather than 2), I've also been trying to relax my finishes a little, to leave something to chance or nature. Hence, I've been soaking pieces in water, throwing them down the stairs, or, as here, going after them with a hot torch and a vigorous wire brushing. This example is beech (I think), about 11".

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wooden Earrings at the Y

I had an absolutely fantastic time leading my wooden earring workshop at the 92nd St. Y over the weekend. Two days is not a lot of time to adjust to a new material, but my students threw themselves into it and made some very hot earrings.

We learned how to use woodworking tools and how to appropriate metal-working tools for our purposes.

We learned how to enhance wood's natural properties and how to transform them by using gold leaf, makeup, paint, a steam iron, or fire.

Check out Margaux Lange's stunning cherry earrings with silver pique and resin inlay (why didn't I think of that!?!?).

Friday, February 20, 2009


I had a great friend in college who was a fellow fan of TS Eliot. We used to quote "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" to each other, especially the heartbreaking bit:

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.

This torque is my meditation on the longing and timidity expressed in that passage. The loop is solid oak, the hands are boxwood.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gearing up for Earrings

I'm off to New York in about, oh, 3 hours (!), to teach a weekend workshop at the 92nd St Y. The class will focus on wooden earrings like the demo pieces pictured above. I'll emphasize using readily available tools and materials to achieve a wide range of effects.

The students will have only 2 days in the studio (Friday and Sunday, with Saturday off), so I'm trying to think of ways to help them hit the ground running. Since I didn't really get hooked on woodworking until I'd tried a number of kinds of wood and learned to appreciate their different properties, I've put together class pack that include 11 kinds of wood, as well as bamboo and a tagua nut; above, my pack factory.

I know I've forgotten

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Daphne was inspired by the Greek myth about a woman who escaped a god's lecherous advances by turning into a tree. I've always assumed the myth itself was inspired by the ease with which one can perceive human bodies and features in trees and wood grain.

The two panels of alder, each about the size of a sheet of paper, are shallowly carved and lightly painted with gouache. The panels are unattached and changing their relationship to one another changes the expression of the eyes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Since Christmas was canceled due to snow, my parents and I just now got together to exchange gifts. For my dad, I carved a small sculpture of our mini white schnauzer, Tucker, napping in a tiny heat-conserving ball.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stuffed Bears

Thanks to all my reproducing friends, I've recently rekindled my childhood passion for making stuffed animals. These floppy polar fleece bears are destined for my faux nephew, Thomas, and my friend Yukari's impending baby. I hope they enjoy them as much as I did!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


This necklace-in-progress (currently held together with dental floss) is based on images I took last year of damaged classical statues at the Louvre. It's far and away one of the most challenging pieces of jewelry I've ever attempted, and I'm still not sure how it will work out. The wood is holly; some sections of the block were dead white, others have a blueish tinge.