Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Shrunken Husband!

Kathy Hardy of DornickDesigns provided me with the only laugh I have had all afternoon. I happened on to her website as I was cruising around what appears to be a European version of Etsy, called DaWanda. Thanks Kathy for the good giggle fest!
Here's what Kathy says of her bracelet, "I call this my Shrunken Ex-Husband/Boyfriend bracelet ~ he's really kinda cute in his own way (but aren't they all). He is carved out of bone and then strung up with some bone skulls (his drinking buddies) and some beautiful faceted black crystals. Sterling beads & a cute little pewter toggle clasp."


When I was studying cello with Steven Elisha, he used to talk to me often about the importance of being mindful of the present, experiencing things as they actually are...in the moment. He would say during every lesson, "Be here now". I didn't really get it then, but I do now. It is important to aknowledge the now, the present moment, and just live it, not passing judgement on it.The more I pay attention to the now, the more focused my designs become. I become more active in the process and creation, and that balances my intuition. The true spirit of the design comes through. When I am in my studio and it is just quiet, I take notice and appreciate that I have a quiet moment to enjoy. Being in the present means no feeling bad about the past, and no worries or stress about the future. It's about "now". I have a better attitude about pain as well. I have chronic migraines. Instead of having my hands on my head and saying, "Why, why, why?!" "Why do I have to be in pain?! Why?" I just accept it and do whatever I have to do to put myself in a position to where the migraine might lessen. The whining and complaining (even though it's only in my mind) does nothing but make the pain worse and I just focus on when is the pain going to end. When I just accept it as "Yes, this is what I am doing now. It's bad, it's painful, I feel sick. But it won't last forever." I get less sick and generally resolve the headache sooner. Ask yourself. Are you in the now? What would happen if you were to focus on exactly what you are doing or how you are feeling, in this exact moment? For most of us, the now isn't nearly as bad as what we focus on in our past. And it certainly isn't as bad as the things we worry will happen in the future. So, take a deep breath and think about now for a moment. You'll probably feel better.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Standby mode

Well, we survived the show in Wamego. I was very sick throughout the show and still am. So, I will post all my stories about it later, when I feel better. We did well considering all of the factors that were against us. I am still very proud of all that Kassie and I accomplished. I learned so much and met some great artists, so it was worth doing. So with my apologies I am keeping you in standby mode until I feel better. Thanks to everyone who has supported me getting ready for the show. I really appreciate it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sleep deprivation and inspiration

It's an interesting thing that happens during the week of a deadline. I have set goals on what I want to make and how many. Of course what I think I can do and what I can actually do are two different things.

Last night Kassie was in the studio with me making cords for the enhancer/charms. I was making small pendants. And we listened to an art/business training CD while we worked. This effectively got us going on topic after topic about our upcoming show this weekend. We talked about how I feel about my art and calling myself an artist. I know that she is an artist, but it will take time for her to realize and accept that. For now, she calls herself an artisan. Kassie has learned every skill I have taught her with ease. She is doing beautiful, quality work in my studio with me.

Kassie is really excited about doing this show with me and helping me sell all of our beautiful creations. I am excited too. Afterall, we have worked very hard, and showing my work and getting to tell people about it will be a reward.

Well here it is, three days until set up. Every night, I work until I can't see strait. During those last two or three hours, while I am working into the wee hours of the morning, I am doing my very best work. I am more patient and more open to random ideas that float in and out of my mind. I allow myself to select materials that are more challenging, and magic happens. The next morning, when I walk into my studio, I see what I made the night before. I am always amazed and thrilled to see these pieces in the daylight. It gives me fuel for making more and more and for trying new techniques and ideas.

Often times, I'll be working in the studio by myself, and I'll be thinking of completely different things. I try to be mindful of these "daydreams" and use them for the basis of a piece or series. A few days ago, I was looking at photos of these giant jellyfish online. There was a photo of this diver amidst many of these giants. They are called Normura's Jellyfish, and they can get up to 2 meters in diameter. Holy cow!

So, that night when I went into my studio to work, I was still thinking about the jellyfish and about things that live in the ocean. Fantasing that I could just pick up and move to the Caribean. Of course, I have never been there, but I have seen the pictures of the clear blue water and white sands. I imagine swimming among the fishes and being able to see the live coral and sea anemonies. What came out of these thoughts was this piece, made with abologne shell, wire, and tiny ocean blue delica beads. It is light as air. It brings me joy to look at it with all the colors of the sea and swirls of water, like the tide coming in.

Inspirations like this are worth losing sleep over. And I think paying attention to what I see and hear, and the feelings I have, have caused my work to grow and move forward. The joy of being self taught is that there really is no right or wrong way. I make it, and if I don't like it I cut it up. If I do like it, I either keep it or sell it. This way my work is kept pure, free from some other artist's rules or asthetic ideas. I am my happiest when I am doing creative wire work. I feel that this is the path my life was meant to take. I never know what might be just around the corner. For the first time in my life, I can say that with happy anticipation.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Show this weeked!

Yay! I did it. My first juried show. I have a week of sleepless nights ahead of me, the get everything finished. But, I am excited. I'll have my sidekick Kassie with me, and this will be her very first show. I can't wait! The 21st Annual Tulip Festival Wamego, KS The 21st Annual TulipFestival wil be held on Saturday, April 19th, 2008 from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 20th, 2008 from 11:00 a.m - 4:00 p.m. at the Wamego City Park.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Well here it is the wee hours of the morning and I am posting to the blog. Kassie and I had a totally fun time drinking coffee and pop at IHOP and playing our version of "designer's challenge. I taught her how to use a "caging" technique to set cabochons in wire. And she challenged me to make something symmetrical. Kassie's work always leans toward balance through symmetry, and my work is balanced using placement of elements to make overall visual balance. Nearly all of my pieces are asymmetrical. But, I always try to keep the design closed and recirculating, so the eye moves around and around the piece and can rest in the closed space. So, the asymmetry doesn't cause the piece to be visually unsettling. This piece is by far the most symmetrical of any that I have made. I think it is also one of the most feminine pieces I have ever made. I will definately explore these ideas further and see what I come up with. Kassie's pendant turned out really great. I will post a picture of it as soon as she is willing to hand it over!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Teaching and learning

One of the most suprising things that has come out of teaching Kassie how to make jewelry has been how much my design work has benefitted. I give Kassie enough freedom that we can collaborate on color schemes and elements when putting together a series. I am always surprised at what we come up with when we put all of our ideas on the table. Kassie has an amazing talent for balance and symmetry. She has an artist's eye for color, as do I. Her color combinations are very different than mine, but fresh and exciting just the same. Working with her has really challenged the limits I put in defining my aesthetic. Kassie does quality work, and when we complete a series, she will sit back in her chair and say, "Wow! These are just gorgeous! I can't believe we made all this tonight!" She is learning my aesthetic and how to design pieces my way. But, I always balance that with open "play" time. When she comes up with beautiful designs on her own, and has the freedom to make exactly what she wants to make, it feeds her creative mind, as well as mine. This has been so much more of a valuable experience than I ever imagined. Teaching is learning. I am learning at least as much as Kassie is.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Photo via lawrence.com
KU takes all Monday night in the championship game against Memphis. With 2.1 seconds left in regulation, Mario Chalmers puts in a game saving 3 pointer that will go down in Kansas basketball history as the greatest play ever, tying the game and sending them into overtime. Kansas takes it winning 75 -68.
Kassie and I watched the game screaming, yelling, and pacing the whole time, while binging on Dr. Pepper, pretzels, and a giant crispy chocolate salmon. After the game, yelling and screaming, we made attempts to call our friends. KUs last championship was in 1988 with Danny and the Miracles. Congrats Jayhawks and Jayhawk fans. Let's revel in it!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Here are a few of my more recent designs. The two red pieces are made with beads formed out of some sort of bonded fiber. The green one is camo stone. I am looking forward to making more pieces with these materials.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dan aspires to be a member of the Tall Club

In early March, I flew out to Milwaukee to see my friend Dave. Dave and I were one engaged, but now we are the closest of friends. On the Saturday evening that I arrived, I went to an orchestral performance Dave was playing in. Some of Dave's friends from the Tall Club also came out to see him play. Dave is the world's tallest violinist standing at 7 feet 4 inches. I am six feet tall. The only woman shorter than me pictured here is 5 foot 10 inches tall. It's been fun for me to go to some of the Tall Club events and weekends. Being short is something I have never experienced. I was 5'11" by the time I was 14. This picture was taken from Dave's online photo album.
Dave writes, "Dan Lawitts is the Concord Chamber Orchestra's resident composer and percussionist. In the back are Tom, Dave, Christy, Dawn and Tim. Dawn was visiting from Topeka and Tim is from the Madison tall club."
To learn more about a Tall Club that might be in your area, or weekend events, visit the official Tall Club website http://www.tall.org/