Saturday, September 17, 2011


I have the wonderful pleasure of being a member at AMOCA's (American Museum of Ceramic Art) new ceramic studio.  It is a great space for me to create my work and there is never a shortage of feedback from other members and artists.  A new tradition has been started by the studio to hold a potluck during Pomona's 2nd Saturday Art Walk.  People can stop by, try their hand at clay, eat food and just absorb the positive energy of the studio community.

This past Saturday found me at the most recent potluck trying my hand at wheel throwing bowls after a few glasses of wine.  Those of you who have seen my work know that I've been focusing recently on hand building techniques, so the combination of red wine and less recent practice wheel throwing produced some interesting results.

My bowls (not all of them even survived to be pictured!) turned out a little warped, off-center and not quite as perfectly round as one attempts to achieve when throwing.  So, I decided to "fix" them.  The first couple I squared-off the corners to disguise the warping.  However, when I went to do the same for the third bowl I kind of tore the newly formed corner.

Never fear!  I "fixed" it!  The quotes are added since my fellow studio members got a huge kick out of my continued attempts to save each piece.  There is much debate about what the shape on the third bowl is ... a beak said one person ... some of the other suggestions are probably not fit to print!  I'll let you make up your own mind about what it might be.  I have no idea, so feel free to let me know your thoughts!

All of my efforts remind me now of the phrase:  "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."  Not so sure if I was successful creating lemonade, but all this "fixing" ahem altering, sounds more intentional doesn't it, has given me some ideas to take back to a hand building series I've been working on.  Hmm ... maybe I'll make lemonade yet.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


It seems like everyone I know has been discussing religion these past couple of weeks.  I don't even need to pose the question, what is it about religion, because its obviously a deeply personal belief for each and every one of us.  Regardless of your religion or spirituality, each of our opinions on the subject are deeply entrenched.  I went through a sort of spiritual journey during my college years.  Growing up Catholic, attending a Jesuit university what did I "get" out of the organized Catholic religion?  What do I believe?  So many years later I think I'm still fine tuning my answer to these questions.

What I've never had to fine tune or even really give much thought to is the subject of religious art.  The symbols of religion expressed through the artist's eye have always brought a measure of peace, comfort and connection to something so much bigger than me.  The symbol and its expression in art has even been more important than what religion provided the symbol.  Regardless of belief structure, I find that they still speak to me of universal truths ... love, kindness, peace, faith.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting an artist, Julianne Carson, who has a stunning pendant titled Virgin de Guadalupe Luxe Necklace.  For me, this necklace is the age old symbol of the best part of the Catholic religion.  That core of love, a mother's love, that can sometimes get lost amongst all of the other parts of Catholicism.  I love that Julianne created this necklace to portray the beauty of her family's faith and honor her mother's strong beliefs.
Virgin De Guadalupe Luxe Necklace

Today is the tenth anniversary of September 11th, a day that will live on in the memory for all Americans unforgotten.  Echoing through the years, each of us will always remember where we were, who we were with, what we were doing ... Me?  I was blocks from the Sears Tower in Chicago's financial district and certainly a potential target  in the moment when no one knew what would happen next.  I remember being worried, okay freaked out, but I was also with my mother.  She gave me a ride home that day.

That day will always remind me of many, many terrible things, but also of my mother's love and all of the beautiful goodness of the human spirit.  How wonderful each of us have the capacity to be towards ourselves and each other if we let ourselves.  This essence captured in a beautiful necklace of how connected we all really are and can be.

Julianne began making beads and pendants about 16 years ago as a hobby giving them to friends and family.  She now has a wonderful business that I hope you will take some time to explore!  You can find her online at

Thursday, August 25, 2011


What is it about sunsets that is so all consuming?  The sheer awe-inspiring beauty of the reds, yellows, blues, shades of colors that don't even have names, but resonate with my soul has long been a source of calming comfort for me.

No matter how many sunsets I've had the pleasure of seeing, each one gives me something new and special.  I think my favorite sunsets were viewed from my balcony when I lived in Miami, FL.  Daily, well almost daily, I would take part in this evening ritual.  There is something about the regularity of viewing a sunset from the same spot that allows you to truly notice and appreciate the tiny nuances.  Never before had I been in tune to the shifting of the sun's position in the sky.  Never before had I been in tune with the effects of weather patterns on the colors.

Hurricane season was always the most beautiful time for sunsets.  The shifting clouds and atmosphere made for particularly spectacular views.  Almost as if it was nature's way of making up for the potential for destruction during this time of year, a gift of beauty for the risk endured. 

I recently met another lover of sunsets, Kimberly Turnbull, an artist from Gibraltar whose inspiration comes from the realm of African art and Georgia O'Keefe's approach to sunsets to create a wonderful piece called African Elephants at Sunset.
African Elephants at Sunset (Original Watercolour) - Kim.T 2011
I love the colors in this work.  Kimberly has managed to capture so many of those colors that I've seen but never been able to name.  The dark outlines of the elephants highlight even more the brilliance of the setting sun much like the clouds during hurricane season did for me in Miami. 

So early in the morning as I draft this blog, all my memories of sunsets are crowding into my head urging me to go find one now to re-experience the wonderful calmness and connection to nature.  I'll certainly seek out a front row seat for tonight's show.  I hope you join me and find a little inspiration as well!

Kimberly learned to draw and paint at a young age and has loved painting ever since.  You can see more of her work online at

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Like No One Is Watching

as though no one is watching you,
as though you have never been hurt before,
as though no one can hear you,
as though heaven is on earth.
- souza

This has always been my favorite quote.  It reminds me that I shouldn't get caught up in what I or others think is right, but to focus instead on what brings me joy.  The fact that I often dance in my living room and hope, okay pray, that no one is watching has little to do with it!

There is a certain freedom that comes from connecting to your body and expressing that connection through dance.  I especially love to twirl.  The spinning around and around, faster and faster until I get so dizzy I'm almost sick brings me back to the carefree mindset of childhood better than anything else.  I find that I am not alone in the joy and inspiration I get from dance.

I was recently introduced to a photographer, Jillian Milam, who was a dancer in her former life and still loves the grace and effortlessness that dancers bring to movement.  Her recent fine art photograph entitled Dance Like You Mean It ( ) absolutely captures my sentiments about dancing.  Jillian got into photography during grade school and has been capturing the world on film ever since.  You can see her passion for photography yourself online at

So, take a page from two Jillians this week!  Find some music that you absolutely love.  You know those songs that you can't help dancing discretely to in your chair!  Blast it over your iPod speakers, or if you're technologically challenged like me over your boom box, clear some space and let loose in your living room.  You just might find a little bit of joy, a little bit of freedom and some artistic inspiration.

Don't worry!  Even if someone does happen to see you their laughter just means they were caught up in your passion for life!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Twist of Fate

Recently I had the pleasure of being introduced to the work of Liz Tylecki-Kuniej.  She has fallen into her art, metalsmithing, through a wonderful twist of fate and the source of her inspiration.  If every individual could be so blessed as to find their true passion in a similar way.

As I sat down to recount Liz's story for you, I found myself returning to her words and descriptions.  Her passion for her work simply leaps off the page, so I'd like to share with you here her journey in her own words.  I'm sure you'll find as I did that any attempt to tell the story differently would have been a poor man's version!

What is the piece or series of work you feel most connected to?

Liz:  Most definitely my sea turtle designs. The first two pieces I ever created were the swirl turtle necklace: and the bezel set turtle:  Both carved out of wax, and it took me months to do each piece but it was worth it. I had no idea at the time that I would become a fulltime metalsmith when I carved those two little turtles. I was just so inspired by the history,beauty and grace of sea turtles and wanted to create something tangible from that feeling.

What was your inspiration for this piece or series?

Liz:  Sea turtles have been around for over 150 million years. The first sea turtle was literally a dinosaur! But because of human interference their numbers have dwindled to where they've become critically endangered. A few years before I decided to move to the island of St. Croix and work in conservation, I swam with a beautiful green turtle in Hawaii. She taught me something that day. The way she moved with the current instead of trying to fight it. She was so peaceful and yet so powerful, and the whole experience had a huge impact on me. It actually changed the way I viewed life and it was that experience that started a snowball effect which brought me out of my cubicle in NY City and to the caribbean islands with a newfound passion and purpose in life. Since then I have been volunteering every year with various sea turtle conservation programs, trying to at least do a small part to hopefully put back a little bit of what we have destroyed. Being out on the beach working wi th these goreous, ancient creatures has fed my soul more than I could ever express.

They inspire not only my art, but my existence as a whole.

How did you get started on creating your art?

Liz:  The whole jewelry endevour started with beading for me. I used to make beaded and braided hemp turtle necklaces. I purchased the "focal" turtle beads and I would make various designs of weaved and braided hemp styles~chokers, necklaces, anklets~ very earthy stuff. I had an awesome boss who let me sell some of my work out of his shop, which I was working at part time. One day a friend of his (who is a full time metalsmith) walked into the shop and asked who made the turtle jewelry. When he found out it was me he approached me and literally dared me to try to make my own turtle carvings. He told me where to buy a wax kit and what tools I needed and said he'd come back in a month to see what I'd come up with! Well, I was never one to turn down a dare so I did it! Granted, it took me a lot longer than a month, but when he came back he was so impressed he invited me to come watch him work at his bench. He taught me some of the basics of metalsmithing and casting, and I was immediately hooked!

My wonderful boss allowed me to start selling my metal creations in the shop, and it did so well that I ended up picking up several more wholesale and consignment accounts all over the island. I started doing the local art shows, and eventually began to set up my shop along the pier where the cruiseships pulled in. After working the cruiseship circuit for about 6 months I realized that this was becoming a full time job, and I quit my day job! I am forever grateful to my boss, and his friend for getting me started. Without them, I know I would not be here.

My bosses friend, the metalsmith, is now one of my best friends. He was the one who suggested I come check out Etsy, as he thought my work would fit right in. And that's how I ended up here.~

I feel so blessed to be where I am at, and try to remember to be thankful every single day. And for me, that means stepping outside of myself to help others whenever I can.~

Liz regularly donates her work to various charities to support fundraising efforts.  Most recently she has been invovled with the American Cancer Society, SUDS (Soliders Undertaking Disabled SCUBA) and the Queen Louise Home for Children in addition to ocean conservation programs.

To see all of Liz's work online please visit her Etsy Shop at
NECKLACE - Sea Turtle Totem Sterling Silver Necklace - Individually Handcrafted 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Surrender and Breathe

My inspiration comes from many places … a conversation, something that happens to me, nature, the list goes on.  However, it wasn’t always this way.  I used to fight, or more accurately, suppress my sources of inspiration.  I thought that I had to stick to the tried and true types of work that I had always done.  It had to be perfect and even more it had to conform to what I thought it should be.  Unaware, I had stifled the best of myself.
I have worked in clay off and on for years and have recently returned to it.  The first day I sat down to get back into throwing pieces on the wheel, the universe pushed back hard on me.  Of course, I didn’t know it at the time that the universe was rebelling against the picture I had created in my mind of what my art should be … I just thought that I was having an “off” throwing day.
I decided to take a break and hand-build some pieces for fun based on a concept that had been swirling in my head ever since a conversation with a friend.  You know, one of those “wouldn’t it be cool if …” discussions.  I figured I’d clear my head and get back to throwing the next time I was in the studio.  I lost myself in the creative process.
The next time in the studio, I found myself hand-building again.  No urge to start at the wheel to “get back in the saddle,” so to speak.  As the days in the studio continued and translation of my ideas stopped taking place on the potter’s wheel something wonderful started to happen.  My work has taken a turn into something infinitely more personal, more meaningful and more unique than previously.  I’ve become more aware of my inspiration sources and the ideas flow more freely than before.  I’ve always “said” that I am an experimenter, however it is now fact.
A few days ago I found myself telling a friend that I needed to re-do the online presence for my art.  As I struggled to explain what I just somehow knew was right, a lightning bolt went through me … I had changed.  I had found my true self and the expression of that self in my work.  The realization of how I had suppressed this true self all these years became evident.  Those pieces that I created and loved the most over time were those that had managed to sneak through my unconscious suppression.
My yoga teacher always says in class that we need to just surrender and breathe.  I feel like for the first time I have truly applied that concept outside of my yoga practice.  Words cannot express how amazed and grateful I am for the results.