Tag Archive: metal clay

A portrait in SS metal clay

A portrait in sterling metal clay

Fired and finished metal clay portrait with patina.

Fired and finished Sterling Silver metal clay portrait with patina.

Do the minds of creative people work differently than the minds of others? I know my mind isn’t anything at all like a mathematician’s mind. I knew this at a very young age….it wasn’t that I couldn’t do the math, I just didn’t want to do it. (You may be wondering what this has to do with the interesting woman featured on the cameos. Don’t worry, I’ll eventually get to the connection.)

At age seven I was pretty sure I would never need math, so when the other children were diligently working away at addition and subtraction, I was inventing personalities for all the numbers and using them as characters for my own amusement. I have creative friends that tell me they had similar experiences as children. My friend Kaitlin is a story teller, and instead of figuring out those ridiculous math word problems, she would write elaborate stories explaining where the people on “the train going 25 miles an hour” were traveling and why “the other train was going 100 miles and hour”…. never quite bothering to solve the actual problem.

I still like to make up characters and scenario’s for my own amusement, only now I write them out in a writing circle I attend and people think I’m a jewelry artist/writer (it’s mostly because of the company I keep and not because I have actual writing skills, which is evident in this blog.) One of the women in the group, Anne, often writes stories that she calls “polaroid chronicles.” The way these stories come about is ingenious. While Anne is out and about, she sees a person that catches her eye for one reason or another and she mentally snaps a picture of them. Later she recalls that mental image and makes up a story about them.

That was the inspiration for this cameo. I was at my grand daughter, Dylah’s first birthday party at a park and I noticed this woman pushing her children on the swings. Perhaps some day I will write her story but I really wanted to do was capture her beauty and strength in metal.

So tell me, do the minds of creative people work the same way as other peoples minds? Am I an artist because I have an aptitude for it, or do I have the skills because I’ve completed the Jewelry Arts program at the California Institute of Jewelry Training, done coursework at the Revere Academy, and continue to take jewelry making classes to keep my skills honed? Would I have put in hours of practice to learn and refine those skills if I didn’t have a love of art? After all, art was always my favorite subject from the very beginning, even though I wasn’t very good at it…. I really wasn’t! While other’s in my class were making cool t-rex’s and brontosaurus’ I  made a Pterodactyl that looked like a big, brown X. Fortunately for me my artistic abilities improved and somehow, through the persistence of my teachers, I even managed to pick up some math, English and history through osmosis!


Copyright © Mary M. Ehlers, Good Muse Designs 2014. All rights reserved.

It’s time for the 2012 Tucson Gem show!  This show is one of the largest shows of its kind in the world…yes the entire world and it’s right in my back yard. (Doing the happy dance, I’ll be posting pictures soon…of the show, not the happy dance…) The Tucson gem show is actually many different shows with hundreds of vendors, that all come to town the end of January and beginning of February.  If this is your first time visiting Tucson during this fun and crazy, shop till you drop (and then get up and do it again for two – three weeks solid) extravaganza there are a few things I have learned that will help you survive!

1. Bring your credentials

Many of the shows require you to have a business license or tax ID  in a jewelry related field like a designer, a manufacturer, retail store that sells jewelry (so no, your Uncle Bob’s Sporting Goods store license won’t get you in to the hard-core shows). You will also want to bring business cards, address labels printed with your contact information and business license number, this will save you lots of time and a trip to urgent care for writer’s cramp.

2. Bring a light weight but sturdy backpack or a small rolling suitcase.

Your treasures will get heavy really quickly.  Plan ahead even if you think “you aren’t buying today”…trust me on this one… If you choose to bring a rolling suitcase PLEASE don’t leave it in the aisle…. I get inside those big tents filled with sparkling and shining gemstone and I am not looking down, I haven’t fallen over a suitcase yet but I’ve seen it happen and it’s not pretty!

3. Don’t forget the essentials

Coffee may be necessary after a day or two of power shopping but what you really need is WATER….Tucson is in the Desert, bring a refillable water bottle, you will get thirsty…. (This may show up as a head ache caused by dehydration.) Lip balm is your friend. Baby wipes or anti-bacterial wipes are indispensible. One last thing…. don’t forget to bring pain reliever and any medicine you might need, better to be safe than sorry!

4. Bring a list of “must haves”

Go through your inventory before heading to the show this way you can replace items you need and not over buy on things you might not need.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it is for me to get home with 2 millimeter silver tubing when what I need is 3mm! If you are looking for beads that match some you already have, string them on a stretchy bracelet so you can compare them at the show.

5. Budget

Know what you want to spend on your must haves and add some splurge money…. There is so much eye candy here that it’s soooooo easy to get carried away and blow your entire allocation in a few days.  Tally your totals at least at the end of every day.

6. Cash is King

For small purchases you will want to bring some cash.  Many vendors will not accept credit cards for under $100.  It’s also great to have some small bills to tip the shuttle bus drivers.

7. Click it and Zip it!

I like to bring a retractable sharpie marker so that I don’t have to keep track of a cap and I bring my own zip lock bags for stones and small findings.  Often vendors will bag the entire purchase in one large bag. By bagging items myself I can write notes on the cost of each item for inventory. I also add information about the names of stones and attributes the gem dealers share.

8. Dress for comfort.

Tucson is not known for being the fashion capital of the world. Not to say that we don’t have some pretty stylish individuals, but pretty much anything goes here most of the time. I have even seen people in shorts at weddings and funerals, and no one batted an eye, (God, I love it here.) Comfortable shoes and layered clothing will get you through chilly mornings, sunny afternoons and even a little rain if we are lucky (we need the rain)!

9. Pack a snack.

This is really important if you are shopping with what I call “power shoppers.”  Once they start gem show shopping they don’t stop…really, from the moment they open the doors until they lock them up they won’t stop to eat, converse, take a phone call…well you get the picture.  There are usually some type of food vendors but if you want something healthy, you had better bring it yourself….

9) Buy tools last.

Tools are heavy and they get even heavier as the day wears on. Scope out the tool vendors and make a list of the things you want and how much they cost so you can return at the end of the day or at least before you leave that show. Also look for free magazines. Remember to get them on your way out the door rather than on your way in. :)

10. Take a fun class

There are all types of jewelry related classes and activities scheduled during the gem show from how to make jewelry, to photographing your jewelry or even jewelry business classes. Do an online search for the type of class you are interested in and sign up.  I will be teaching metal clay classes in my studio www.goodmusedesigns.com! I hope you will join me for a fun, easy afternoon. I can show my tips and tricks and you can create something wonderful in Metal clay.

Copyright © Mary (Marnie) Ehlers, Good Muse Designs 2012- All rights reserved.