Thursday, January 14, 2010

Upcoming: 8-week Pratt Class

Starting in April, I'll be teaching an 8-week version of my "Jewelry that Grows on Trees" workshop at Pratt Fine Arts in Seattle. Here's the course description:

"Beautiful, versatile and widely available, wood is an ideal alternative material for jewelry. In this class we'll learn to make the most of wood's palate of colors and textures using tools and techniques appropriate for use in a home studio. Topics will include basic shaping and finishing, surface embellishment and creating more complex dimensional forms such as rings and cuffs. The instructor will also introduce basic carving techniques that rely on a minimum of hand tools. Prerequisite: Jewelry/Metalsmithing I or equivalent"

This will be the longest class I've taught yet, and I'm really looking forward to seeing ambitious projects and blossoming skill sets. Judging by the amazing work that comes out of a weekend workshop, I'm totally prepared to have my socks blown off and handed to me on a plate.

We'll meet on Thursdays, 6-10pm, April 1 to May 20. Students will also get FREE Friday access to the jewelry studios--perfect for all that homework I'll be assigning!

(Only kidding! Well, sort of.)

If you'd like the nitty-gritty details, go to
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to e-mail them to me.

And please spread the word to anyone you know who might be interested!

3/4/10 update:
The class is a go with 6 fantastic students! Thanks so much to everyone who helped to spread the word; I am so grateful for your support. Please check back to see what we get up to...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Generous Ring

Generous Ring

My first finished piece of the new year was brought about by something I read in People magazine probably 15 or 20 years ago. Asked to describe his accessories, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards mentioned a sterling silver skull ring he wore regularly. Although skull jewelry is more usually associated with the principle of memento mori ("remember that you will die"), Richards said the ring reminded him that, "We're all the same under the skin."

Like much that I've read in People over the years (but unlike the Japanese lesson that I read only yesterday, sigh) this really stuck with me. It highlights something I find peculiarly seductive about jewelry, namely its instructive potential. While most forms of jewelry are capable of carrying a message (think slogan badges, fraternity pins, or pendants religious) rings are especially interesting because they spend so much time in the wearer's own field of vision. Say you need to remember to buy milk or pay a bill: a string tied around your finger is probably going to be a better reminder than one looped around your ankle, right?

So what do I want to be reminded of? Well, in the wake of a difficult few years, I want to keep in mind that as a rule people are kind and generous. Although my motif is admittedly heavy-handed (part claddagh, part Allstate ad) it manages to cue my memories of the innumerable people who've housed, fed, hired, supported, and encouraged me, who've taken my classes or purchased my work, who've given me a genuine smile or accurate directions. This ring also reminds me that although I may continue to depend heavily on the kindness of friends and strangers, the time to start returning those favors is now, not some fictional and far-off "good time".

[The first installment in my "repayment plan" is the photo below, which goes out to my recent and future carving students. Although I'm squeamish about showing unfinished work (I'm still not over the time someone called one of my unfinished female figures a "fattie") I think illustrates something that's crucial for any aspiring carver to know: a carving looks awful until suddenly it doesn't. Don't loose heart!]