Monday, November 30, 2009


It has been a difficult month. A month of bruised and broken promises, of closed doors. A month of bills and bad news. A true fall.

The one shining light at the end of this November tunnel was the promise of escape; a vacation, a seasonal celebration, but not in the traditional sense. I ran away with my family to the Current River in south Missouri and spent nearly four days wifi free and far out of cell tower range.

It was bliss.

Thanksgiving day we floated the river in canoes, watching wildlife. The morning air was crisp. We layered our heavy winter clothes and slipped silently through the water, guests at the table of eagles and otters, of trout and a lonely coyote.

That evening in the cabin we circled our holiday feast with thanks.

My offering went something like this: I am thankful for the many challenges this year has presented to me. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn more about myself, to grow and change, and I am thankful for all of the people who love me enough to help me evolve.

And I feel ready, if not prepared, to face the rest of this year, this decade, with a grateful and happy heart.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

l.a. in october

I spent the weekend at the L.A. fashion mart for work, viewing spring styles for ’10, and I’ve been scrambling all week to catch up! Amazing what kind of craziness can happen when you slip out of your world for three days.

In between appointments, I did get to spend time with my friend Brook, who is lucky to live in this land of sunshine and flowers. We took a walk down the beach before dinner on Sunday, and I enjoyed the nautical compositions that trace a line between sand and water. I can see them all as bracelets, or pendants, or rings, and I’m home in the cold rain now, dreaming of seaweed in silver…

Sunday, October 11, 2009


My new pieces are up on etsy! I'll be posting more this week...

Friday, October 9, 2009

handmade nation

The Handmade Nation documentary will be out on DVD November 3, 2009. I can’t wait! You can get your own copy here.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Thanks to everyone who stopped by my booth at Weston’s Applefest this weekend. I am so grateful for all of the support and positive feedback about my work. I’ll be posting new styles from this show on my etsy site this week.

Many, many thanks to my family who let me borrow tables and a tent, helped with last minute display preparation, transportation, set up and takedown and general maintenance of my frazzled little mind. You all kept me sane!

Weston, MO is such a fun little town. We enjoyed a break in the rain, and even some sunshine on Sunday. My booth was close to the stage, and while it was incredibly loud, we enjoyed the entertainment. I have to admit that the bouncy banjo sound is delightfully contagious. My favorite group from the weekend was The Prairie Acre, a bluegrass band from Lawrence Kansas.

I didn’t have time to explore the stores, but did enjoy a lovely cup of tea at Artemis, and a tasty vegetarian squash stew of sorts from the Vineyard Restaurant’s booth.

We spent Saturday night at Saint George Hotel (the building in the front right of the photo), an historic site. The space was clean and comfortable, and after our very long Saturday we enjoyed a drink and live music in the wine bar, complete with ghost stories. Our room is apparently haunted by one of Weston’s ladies who, um, ‘worked’ the hotel. If we were visited in the night, I was too exhausted to notice!

Monday, September 14, 2009

small stones

Three weeks to go before Weston’s Applefest! Little plastic bags filled with finished pieces keep pilling up, and I took time this weekend to play in between soldering and hammering to-dos.

The lovely little beads above were born of scrap silver. I squirrel away filings, destroyed creations, and any extra pieces of metal as I work. These little bits were piled into a well in my charcoal block, and heated until they melted and pooled together.

It was delightful.

…until I had to drill the holes, which demanded deep breathing and zen-like cursing. (Do zen masters curse? I would.) Eventually I was able to line them all up into this row of uneven, textured beads, each like a small stone. I can’t explain how incredibly happy they make me.

Below are two of the beads decorating a simple, curved earwire.

new book

Need an end of summer read? I have a new addition to my bookshelf, The Zamler’s Last Stand, a first novel by our friend Matt Caldwell. Finishing a book is a seriously cool accomplishment, but most importantly, Zamler’s is a wonderful coming of age tale. The story is complex and human, mixing friendship, baseball, and mystical Judaism against the New York skyline.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

jangle your bangles

brendesign will have a booth at the Weston, Missouri Applefest October 3rd and 4th! It’s my first arts and crafts festival and I really have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into, and I have a lot to do, and am trying to not get freaked out by the limited number of weekends between here an there.

Every spare minute is spent working producing for the show, but still have a long way to go. The above and below pics are an assortment of bangles that will be included in the group.

I do have most of my booth ideas in motion, and will just need to confirm tables…and figure out what do to about covering them. You see, I’m not exactly a table skirt kind of a girl, and I tend to channel my inner Ms. Hyde when forced to sit at a sewing machine.

I also need to design and order new business cards.
...and figure out tags.
...and bags.

Nope. Definitely not going to freak out.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Missing: One Tomatillo Plant from Garden #4

Returning to the garden after a long holiday weekend I find half of my little lettuce row cut off at the ground. Someone enjoyed a huge salad. Huge.

Curiously, this does not bother me. I’ve been eating lettuce for weeks now, and planted too much for two to eat anyway, and am ready to move on to my beautiful new green beans. I’ll plant lettuce again in the fall. Also, we’re eating the first tomatoes, an indescribable thrill. Not enough to taint with a recipe, the Early Girls are eaten sliced, with salt, and the Sun Golds are popped into the mouth right off of the vine.

With a bag full of zucchini, beans, basil, and tomatoes I turn the corner of my tiny garden to pull a few beets and notice…something is missing. Strange to detect an absence in such a crowd, but, there is the disturbed earth, and my tomatillo plant that was tall and happy and healthy and blooming last week…is gone. Not cut, or bent or crumpled. Not holey or yellow, or curled from insects. Gone.

It makes my heart hurt…not really because someone pulled it, more that a new experience is taken from me; this was my first tomatillo plant, and I was excited to see the bloom curl into a papery lantern and the green fruit fill the inside. I was excited for salsa verde for two (or one—who knows how much one plant produces).

But I realize that this year I’ll be buying my tomatillos from market, and I start to feel quite despondent about myself and the sorry-ass human who felt a need to destroy.

I am not relying on this garden for food. But I depend on it, desperately, for my sanity. Working all day at a computer in a tiny apartment, it is my chance to be outside, to relax into a rhythm of weed pulling and watering, to get my jeans dirty. I feel welcome in this bouquet of gardeners, bound together from the possibilities of space and time, seed and water and sun. I know their names, and they know mine, and in a new city there is nothing more wonderful than that. I give my time to the garden, weeding once a month and lending a hand with the youth garden…but often what we need to give is not what we offer. I know that being apart of a community (the garden, this city, the world) involves exchange. Some of the give and take is tangible, and some, not.

I’ll offer this tomatillo plant up as a part of this exchange. It wasn’t really mine to begin with, the genetic makeup developed before me and will long outlive me. So, I’ll relish the bounty from the variety I’ve planted, appreciate what I’ve learned from this one lost plant…and plan to put in five extra next year.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

more than a month…more circles

Yes, it has been more than a month since I’ve blogged.

Cue: Guilt.

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that summer can be deliciously deviant. Every day has an indolent manifesto: Must Be Outside! Must Garden! Must Play Tennis! Must Take An Hour-Long Lunch In The Sun!

…so it’s not that I’m not busy…just not exactly productive.

The one new piece I have to share has been my favorite thing to wear, an extra long chain of circles. This 32” chain started out as 100” of 16ga recycled sterling silver round wire. I cut, soldered, pickled, sanded, and hammered it into a string of bubbles, which can be worn long, or doubled over, or worn as a belt over a dress. The perfect piece for these long summer days.

And just in case you were wondering, I thought I would share a few things that have been fantastic distractions:

1. The Katy Trail: Pell, Mom and I spent Memorial Day weekend biking 51 miles along the river bluffs, listening to blues, watching hula-hoop dancing gypsy children, and ultimately walking away with sun tans and sore bums.

2. Kids: I was midwife-in-training for the birth of two goats (my parents keep a small herd).

3. Scuba Diving: Under the instruction of a very patient Father/Instructor, Pell and I completed our confined water dives for our PADI scuba certification. Next up: Open Water.

4. Vegetables: I have a garden! The fantastic group at Gifford Park Community Garden has welcomed me into their world, and I’m happily enjoying basil, lettuce, spinach, zucchini, beets, arugula…and more from my 5 x 15' plot.

5. Film: Sita Sings The Blues. My new favorite film. A funny, creative handmade work.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I can brag about a new toy in town, an addition to my studio collection, a defining tool that separates the metal workers from the metal players: The Torch.

It rests, with its torch tail sweetly curled on one corner of my desk, waiting for the whoosh of the regulator valves and scratch of the striker before bursting into an elegant little 4800̊ degree flame.

I admit I’m still slightly terrified of this thing.

But, I am willing to grit my teeth and face my 5th grade fear of power tools to make a circle. It is magical, this ability to take a piece of wire and connect end to end, so perfect now with the cyclical season change from cold into this blessed sunshine.

This new tool crowds my desk with its friends, a turntable with charcoal blocks on pumice, and a pickle pot. In my effort to maintain a sustainable studio I’m using a mixture of water and citric acid for my pickle rather than the standard sulphuric acid, which is toxic and quite scary to use. The citric acid is food grade, and won’t burn holes in my skin or clothes if I accidentally splash, and it is much easier to dispose of. The only disadvantage is I have to leave the metal in the pickle a little longer to remove any oxidation…long enough to have a cup of tea. Not a bad trade at all.

The above and below photos detail my first hoops. What began as four pieces of recycled sterling silver wire ended as 2” hammered hoops and ear wires finished with a beaded end…another fun metal melting trick.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

leaves, la, and love

A new design for spring…whenever she finally decides to show up. This organic leaf shape was hand cut and pierced from a 22ga recycled sterling silver sheet, then hammered like crazy to end with a crinkled, curved surface. At 1 ¾” long, they make a statement! I enjoyed wearing them out last night for a dinner and movie date.

Last weekend I traveled to LA for my day job. And it rained.
I refused to believe and packed sandals and a skirt anyway. I was freezing. Now I’m home and we’re back to 30 degree weather, and I’m still freezing.

Mr. Brainwash, an LA graffiti artist, left this message outside of the fashion market…

...and my husband left this message in our living room…

I think they are both quite right.

The very big news (that I should’ve shouted about first) is that I have finally updated my etsy site, new policies, and most importantly, new pieces! Check them out here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

steel and stone

My next door neighbor is a construction site.
From my desk I witness carefully choreographed cranes dance above a ribbon of cars, piecing together eight stories of steel and stone.

These three pieces reflect imposed order, cut from a 22ga recycled sterling silver sheet with slightly irregular rectangular piercings.

window 5/8 x 1/2"

door 1 1/4 x 1/4”

building 1 3/4 x 5/8”

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Change can be addictive.
Just as I started to settle into this new version of normal, boxes unpacked, work schedule in place, insomnia routine established…I felt like there was something missing I had left to do—something that I did not purge myself of before leaving Oregon.

It was my hair.

So, Friday I headed to the salon, whipped out a downloaded photo and declared: “It all must go!” My stylist, after clarifying that I wasn’t joking, separated my hair into three pigtails (to be donated to Locks of Love), picked up her scissors…and cut.

I thought the two women on either side of me were going to run out screaming.

They didn’t. And neither did I.

I arrived home Friday night a new person, free of all of those heavy, bothersome curls.

Saturday I woke up, looked in the mirror, and cried.

Today I think I am coming to terms with my altered reflection. A lot of hair-control-paste-goo helps, and the fact that at least my three pigtails will be put to a good use…and my hair grows quickly anyway…

Ultimately I have learned two important life lessons from this:

1. Never make rash decisions in February in Nebraska. It doesn’t matter if it is 4 degrees outside. The sun will shine again and you will miss your hair.

2. Never, ever, ever, cut your hair to match a character in a movie (mine was Jack’s Girlfriend’s hair in Hotel Chevalier, the prelude to Darjeeling Limited). You cannot look as cute as a movie star. Accept this. Buy shoes instead.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

2000 miles to a new home

We moved from Oregon to the Midwest last month, cardboard, cat and all.

Traveling across the country with a cat is not an experience I would wish on anyone. Our kitty, The Bubbs, is normally quite shy and lazy, preferring to spend his days napping and eating, and napping again. Once placed in his oh-so fancy padded carrier he channeled Mr. Hyde and shredded through the zipper closure to run loose in the cab of the moving truck. We received horrified looks from hotel staff across the country as we carried our “one well-behaved animal weighing less than 60 lbs” in a carrier held together-barely-by duct tape.

It was a long 2000 miles.

We made it, thankfully, through the mountains without any scary weather, and when the Great Plains unfurled at the feet of the Rockies, my heart was so happy. I’m home again.

The above photo was taken in Colorado, looking back to say goodbye to the mountains.

The photo below is a view from the back porch of our tiny Omaha apartment. I’m adjusting to a new city, and it’s time to get back to work…