Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I have so much to be thankful for this year. I have a wonderful family and friends who truly love me. I have found my health and get stronger every day, thanks to my CPAP. And I have finally found love... rather love found me. I am so grateful and blessed... I am thankful for the person I am... the many facets that make up my uniqueness... the good and the bad. So today, I hope to inspire you to appreciate and be thankful, for not only what you have, but who you are.... My new love, Scott, shared this thought with us a few months ago on Flickr, along with this picture of some of the stained glass in his home.

"What do we absorb?
What do we transmit?
Where are we bright?
And where are we dark?
And does it all not make us who we are?"-Scott Schreiber

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Bizarre Bazaar! This Saturday, November 28th

That's right! It the annual Bizarre Bazaar this Saturday, November 28th, from 9:00am tho 5:00pm at the Lawrence Arts Center in downtown Lawrence, KS. Every kind of art and craft you can imagine! Really cool stuff! Along with an eclectic mix of vendors, artists like Kathie of Paper Treasures, Rachael Sudlow, and Angelia Perkins, as well as myself, will be showing our best wares. Come out and get some Christmas shopping done, and enjoy the bake sale while you take it all in! Angelia Perkins, Funky jewelry from fishing lures. Rachael Sudlow, metalsmith and organic jewelry Kathie of Paper Treasures

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finding your voice...artistically

Regality by Dawn Blair (me)

I think a lot about this topic, because so many people talk about how my work has a certain identifiable look that is mine. I often hear things like, "I wish I had my own style", or "How do I develop my own look". People want to know what my secret is. Well, here it is. There is no secret.This is how my look happened for me, and I believe can happen for anyone. I spend a lot of time looking at what others are making. But not wire workers necessarily. I find it very important to feed my mind with the richness of nature, and with art forms of all kinds. Inspiration 1- Vifilfell Errupting by Orvaratli on Flickr

I don't seek to make this particular thing or that. When I sit down to work, it is always my goal to explore my medium more than I did on the last piece I made. I believe my look has developed out of proficiency with the materials and tools I work with. I don't look at a piece someone else has made and say, "Gee, I wish I could make that". It is more of a question of wanting to know what skill made it possible for that artist to create it. I think it is important to develop a "vocabulary" of skills within your medium before you can express what you want to say in your designs.Inspiration 2- PixilexiP by Xose Zalgado on Flickr

Developing your own artistic voice requires time and commitment to learning processes and learning the limitations of your working materials. It requires practice, so that the "look" that becomes your look isn't the result of not being able to do this or that. Your look should result from wanting to keep doing those processes that you enjoy the most, and the prep work necessary to support what you really love doing the most. It is when we are mindful to pay attention while we are working, creating each piece, that we can observe our skills and seek to improve them, or realize that this part or that really isn't something that will bring personal joy in the process. If there are too many parts to the process that you don't enjoy, then maybe exploration in other mediums is needed. Ask yourself, "Why did I start working in wire to begin with", "What was the initial draw?", "Why have I stuck with it?", "Do I truly love working with wire?" Answer these questions in whatever medium you are working, and answer them honestly. This will be very enlightening. Maybe this will confirm that you just need to get focused, or maybe you will realize you need to try other mediums.It takes time to develop your own artistic voice. It is about practice, practice, practice..... and adding to those skills a little something here or a little something there. Making small changes as you get better and better at your art form. Never a giant leap. With me, it is developing a new weave, using the weave in a different place in my design, adding beads in a different way or a different place, using less or omitting materials for effect, using different colors or gauges of wires. It is usually only ONE of these various things I choose to focus on per piece. This keeps my look very consistent. I use the skills I have the way my own eye finds pleasing, then add a new element to that. It is not about how many skills you have, but rather what you do with the skills you have. The beauty of making changes gradually is that you can look back and see exactly where you used this or that technique for the first time. I helps to be able to see a clear chronology in the development of your skills, and often makes it more clear the direction that might be best as a "next step". Inspiration 3- Eastern Tailed Blue Butterfly by Sienna62 on Flickr

I hope this has given everyone some food for thought. It is not difficult to find your own artistic voice, but it does require mindfulness and focus....and most of all a commitment to spending the time exploring the properties and limits of the materials and tools with which you are working. I created the above piece for my grandmother using a technique I had never used before to make the bezel. It was tedious for me because I had to count how many times I wrapped the wire around for every little section. I may not do this again so soon, but I took the time to try it and now have the skill to create another bezel using the technique. It is all about trying. I started the bezel three times before I came up with a pattern I liked enough to spend six hours on. It was worth it, as you can see...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

39, my NEW best year!

That's right! You heard it here 39th year will be the best year of my life. I am confident of this being fact. I have wonderful friends. I have my health, thanks to the acquisition of my new CPAP machine. And I have love. Love for those dear to me, love for life, love for music, love for God. I am confident that this year will bring twists and turns, and unexpected adventure. I believe fully in making my own adventure, one day at a time. So for this, my birthday post, I will share with you pictures from "Huff N Puff". Hot air balloon launch that took place at Lake Shawnee a few weeks ago. So here's to life, and living it to the fullest. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Your work, your "self"

Today I have been listening to a podcast with Alison Lee interviewing Michael DeMeng, mixed media artist. In the interview there are many topics brought up that I think are worthy of thinking about. What is your relationship to your work of art/design, while you are working on it? What does it depend on? Does it depend on whether or not it is "going well"? Does it depend on how well planned out the piece is beforehand? Does it depend on your love or dislike of the materials you are using? Do you make the piece and then form your feelings toward it later, after having spent time with the finished piece? Or, do you just make beautiful things, without much or any mental involvement at all?

I believe these are things we need to think about and be aware of, just as we need to be aware of what our "creative habit" or studio process is. I think knowing these things, or at least taking time to observe them makes a difference in both what we make, and how we feel about what we make. Ultimately, it is the connection, or the "story" behind a piece that will capture the heart of our customers and ultimately cause them to buy. I really do believe this connection can be as simple as, "I love forming the metal by flame. There is something about the physical action of working the metal with a hammer that really draws me to create this way." Being aware of things on even this very basic level enhances the experience of creating for you. And the joy of creating will always translate into the pieces you make.Skipping Stones, posted June 17, 2009 to Flickr.

Even when I struggle with wire that is really stiff, or struggle to make a workable design with the materials I selected, I understand that it is the process of working the wire that I truly enjoy. Often the pieces I really struggle with are the ones I end up valuing the most. I believe it is because I learn things through the struggle. When I am able to solve issues in my designs to satisfy my own eye, the end product is always so much more exciting. Often titling those pieces becomes much more special as well. Then when someone purchases the piece, and they understand and see what I saw in the finished piece, it gives me unimaginable joy.Golden Rain, posted June 16, 2009 to Flickr

I don't think it is important to say, "This is my personality, and this exact thing represents that". I think it is more about standing back and observing our own ways, habits, processes, and tendencies. I think being aware, and in the moment during the creation of pieces that can make them more rich with creativity. These are just things to think about today as you spend time in your studios making what you are to make. I would love to hear what you all have to say about your creative process and relationship to your pieces. Leave a comment, or email me at, posted July 29, 2008 to Flickr.

All of the above images are of pieces which I struggled with in one way or another, but which became some of my most treasured designs. I persevered and trusted my process. I believe that the lessons I learned through the struggles are what continues to draw me to these pieces. I learned that there was more in me than I had thought before the process was begun.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Getting back to my "roots"!

Title: Rooted, Brazilian stripes agate, 20 gauge non-tarnish copper wire, 24 gauge gunmetal "Artistic" wire

Recently, I had the displeasure of dealing with a shameless copier. The "shameless" part is that it was a person I considered to be a close friend. I freely taught her things, and never imagined that I would be taken advantage of this way. But, these things happen. We learn and move on... am I right?

So in cutting the fat from my life, I have decided to explore the "roots" of my jewelry design, using concepts that I began using very early in my jewelry designs. I am spending some time further investigating "nesting". By that, I mean nesting two or more wires together and designing with them as one unit. In this first piece, entitled "Rooted", I am laying down new roots by exploring old ones. I am excited about the wave of creativity I feel bursting from me. More one of a kind, original art jewelry soon to emerge! AND... altogether NEW experiments in jewelry creation.

Happy creating everybody! Don't be afraid to step out an make something no one has ever made before. If nothing else, it might make you laugh!

Monday, September 14, 2009

New jazz-world-blues CD!

The whole group (minus Michael Kora, drums) Left to right: Ted, me, Steve, Jack, Christian, Milledge

About the CD, Sometimes Things Work Out, Steve Pinkston and Friends

Back in 2006, I began searching for my birth parents, seeking medical information to explain why at 34 years old I was having so many issues with my health. Very early in the search, however, it became much more than that. My birth mother was very difficult to locate, even after I had been able to unseal my adoptive records and receive the name from my real birth certificate. Eventually, I found her picture in a Manhattan High School year book, and then, finally her current address and phone number in another state. I had never expected to be making contact, but it was necessary. I fully expected that she would not want contact with me, since it had been a closed adoption. In fact, the first time I made the call, she denied that she had given birth to me. I certainly understood. After I provided proof of who I was, and the adoption record etc., she changed her mind and we were able to talk for a little bit.

Christian Botto, guitars

Right away, she expressed that she was grateful I had contacted her and that she was relieved I was okay. She had wondered and worried about me all these years, and even tried to find me once. I never could have imagined it that way. She had never had any other children, because she didn’t want children. In fact, I am the same way. I have never wanted children either. She was apologetic and ashamed. But I emphatically told her that she had absolutely made the right decision in giving me up and that I have had a wonderful life with great parents. They were high school students, both planning to go to college in the fall to study music. I was born their first fall semester at college.

Early in that first conversation, my birth mother gave me my birth father’s name. Steve Pinkston.

Steve Pinkston, bass and composer *** Steve's Blog, The Fretful Bassist

Dawn Blair (me!), cello

Right away, after getting off the phone with her, I did a Google search on the internet and found him. I look just like him, and over the past few years have discovered I am just like him in most ways, although I do share my mother’s genetics in the humor category. They were both musicians, she a violinist and he a bass player. Both were very talented classical musicians. In fact Steve had been a cellist, just like myself, through his high school years, and then switched to string bass as soon as one became available. He played jazz on electric bass and began writing his own music. Eventually Steve left Kansas and moved to Hollywood where he played jazz and rock through the 70’s and produced three albums. Steve is a brilliant musician as well as composer. When we first met, in Portland, he brought his records and hours and hours worth of recordings of music he had written. CD’s of music he had recorded with his music partner, pianist Paul Bass, who unfortunately died of cancer ten or so years ago.

Milledge Bennett, percussion

Jack McCreary, flute and alto sax

Steve had wanted to make a CD of some of his favorite compositions, but hadn’t really done much with it up to the point when we met. After I had played cello for him over the phone one night, he decided he should do the CD and include me on it, with his other wonderfully talented musician friends. In August of 2007, we began recording. That visit to Portland was the very first time Steve and I had gotten to play together. It was an emotional, life changing moment for both of us. All my life, I had known they were musicians, and as a young girl and teenager, I used to fantasize that someday I would be somewhere playing and they would be too, and that we would figure it out, and somehow know…

Ted Clifford, keyboards

A good portion of us in the recording session.

We finished my part of the recording in Kansas City in July of 2008, and Steve got to meet my parents for the first time. It was amazing how much he and my dad had in common, swapping stories of playing at Ft. Riley and all over Manhattan and Kansas City. Steve had the chance to express to both my parents his appreciation of the sacrifices they made raising me, and I think that provided some closure for both Steve and my parents. The CD went into production this winter and now is finally published. This is a fantastic, quality CD featuring jazz, blues, and world music, and is the most meaningful project I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of.

On the cover: This is a photograph of Steve’s bass and the card I made to give to him when we first met in person. Notice the puzzle piece in the center. My feelings about finding my birth parents, my birth father in particular were that of having found the missing piece of the puzzle. There had always been a part that was missing in my life. I was never truly sure of who I was or where I was heading in life, because I never knew where or who I came from. You must know where your journey started, I feel, in order to know where you are on the path of life, or where you might stop and rest, or aspire to go to. When I met each of them, a part of my life was solved. The mystery of why I am so different from my parents and family. Although my dad is a trumpet player and also a brilliant jazz musician himself, and my mother crafty and artistic like I am, our personalities and ways are so vastly different. We don’t understand each other or why I am like this and they are like that. Knowing why, and that it is largely genetic, was the missing puzzle piece. Now I am not grabbing at straws trying to figure it out, because I know now.

Dawn Blair (me!) outside recording studio dock

When we met in that hotel in Portland to meet, Steve played the song, the title track of this CD for me. One of the lines in the song is, “.and it’s like a puzzle, when you put the last piece in.” We both wept meaningful tears as I listened to that song. It was a true reunion. Something that we had both longed for over thirty years, he had realized and I had not until that moment. The pain and wonder, questions and doubts, and for Steve, the worry, all melted away in that moment. The burden of not knowing was lifted from our shoulders and a new life of completeness was begun. We are both on a surefooted path and we communicate through the internet nearly every day now. ******************************************************************************************* To find out much more about the CD and where to purchase it, visit Steve's website Fin de Mundo Music ********************************************************************************************