Using S P A C E as a Design Element

In the very beginning there were possibly very few stones in metal sheet and wire...the same ingredients that have always been involved in my work. And a third ingredient: space. Which I use very accurately very concretely...somewhat because of my own orientation towards designing that way but also as a very cheap component...you can find it and make it tangible.
— Art Smith, Modernist Jewelry Designer
Modernist Series, #1, #2, #3; Stacie Florer 2016

Modernist Series, #1, #2, #3; Stacie Florer 2016

Space...(cue in the theme music from Star Trek here). 

For me, in my current evolution as a jewelry designer, space may be my own final frontier. How to use it in such a way that it becomes, as Art Smith says, 'tangible'. 

In this post, I wanted to share with you how the above quote that I read from Art Smith's Oral History affected me deeply regarding this journey into the Modernist's mindset. 

It never occurred to me to consider space as a tangible element in design. Never. I've always known on a deep level that I love the look and feel of the modernist movement's explorations into architecture and art...but I don't think I knew what that one thing, space, had to do with it. 

I am really showing my ignorance here, I know. But for some reason, it just never occurred to me to think about space as a tangible thing. 

I am sure I have been exposed to this essential modernist concept about space many times...but it clicked hard within me when I read this oral history regarding how Art Smith thought of it as tangible. 

And by the way...consider reading the linked and supremely fascinating interview with Art Smith. Wow! All kinds of things to resonate with as a designer!

As you can plainly see in the above photograph of the first three designs...I added space as a design element in the #2 and #3, and I now I can't imagine not using this free material going forward.

That one insight about space and using it in the design of jewelry just altered my consciousness in a profound and exciting way. I can't wait to see what happens next with tomorrow's explorations!

Turning this inward, how can I use 'space' in a tangible way in other areas of my life? In my thoughts? In my actions? In my home environment design? Outside under my trees?

Space is the silence between the notes that makes the tune, right? 

I will be adding #3 to my Etsy shop tonight! I am calling them Wind Dancers...

 

 

What Modernist Jeweler Art Smith taught me this week...

A piece of jewelry is in a sense an object that is not complete in itself. Jewelry is a ‘what is it?’ until you relate it to the body. The body is a component in design just as air and space are. Like line, form, and color, the body is a material to work with. It is one of the basic inspirations in creating form.
— Art Smith, Jewelry Designer

I am falling in love with creating jewelry again...and am finding a new voice through the study of the Modernist movement. 

Modernist Study #1, Stacie Florer 2016

Modernist Study #1, Stacie Florer 2016

Ah, this was a hard start for my summer focus project. I wanted to do something new-to-me with a piece of wire that is curved into a horseshoe that was so popular during the Mid-Century Modernist period of jewelry fabrication. 

Modernist Study #1, Stacie Florer 2016

Modernist Study #1, Stacie Florer 2016

I made the horseshoe and then bent one of the 'legs' and it offered a little different twist on this widely used element in wire jewelry fabrication. Starting last year, I became much more interested in fabricating earrings that have dimension from all directions. This little turn of the leg allows for something interesting to look at from the side view when wearing them. 

I toned down my love of stamping and texture on these..went for straight lines instead of a random sampling of my available tools. A simple horizontal line seemed to balance the long vertical length of this design nicely...and offers up a subtle distinction. Equilibrium is important for me right now, as I am learning to balance my own life and how I live it. 

I have been using sandpaper a lot in my work since I left Asheville last year. The disc was punched out of my disc cutter, but I don't like the sharpness that just cutting it out offers. I wanted something geometric, but soft. 


TIP: Take a disc of sheet metal and sandwich it between two pieces of fine grit sandpaper and strike it many times with a chasing hammer. It lightly textures both sides and distorts the hard edges of the disc. 


The coin pearls that I pinned to the disc further accentuate the round form, but a natural round form. Organic yet structured...I'm not especially fond of geometric forms that are hard and cold. I still want soft and feminine...and I am consciously contemplating what femininity means to me, now, as a woman past childbearing age. 

There is a new softness to my features I've noticed, and a squishy-ness or a feeling of soft focus when I look at my changing facial structure.  My eyes water more...blurring my makeup when I desire to wear it. That squishy-ness is exemplified with those round coin pearls and the slightly miss-happen discs. 

The color of the pearls reflect this love of diffused light that I search out in my photography and what I am discovering about my desire for lamplight and candlelight in my home environment. Soft...gentle light that caresses and creates more intimacy. That is important to me now...and is reflected in these earrings. 

When I was a little girl, there was a softness that my grandmother had that I loved. She had soft skin, and fuzzy features that were blurred by life's experiences. Her face, her lines and her warmth were a haven for me. No hard edges.

I had a substitute teacher in the second grade that I adored, and I would search out ways to be closer to her because she had the same qualities of my grandmother. As I approach the age my grandmother was when I was born, I am starting to notice my own softness in a way that is novel.

I am more emotional now...about the little things. Water has become so important to me in many ways. Baths instead of showers most nights...a lingering in water that has become a daily craving. To be held tenderly by my warm bath water helps to soothe and comfort areas of my body that are used much more than before I became a homeowner with a big yard. 

Watering of my newly planted herbs...and filing my vases with water for fresh flowers. Drinking water in my big blue glass bottles...to hydrate myself and keep me soft, to cushion me when I fall. Tears that flow freely...releasing what needs to be released as my situation changes daily with myself and those that I love. 

The pearls are about that too--the softness that forms from what comes from mild irritations of aging.  Pearls are from filtering creatures that live in the water.  My God...how many times have we used our bodies to filter out the sorrows that move through our lives as we continue to grow in experiences?

So yes, Art Smith, the body is a component of the design. Just like space...which is what I will discuss in my next post. 

Here are the first two earrings in my series...can you see what happened in the next pair that is derived from the first? Space is a component in design, too. As Art Smith describes, it is plentiful and free to use as a material in your design work.

Series #1 and #2 comparison, Stacie Florer 2016

Series #1 and #2 comparison, Stacie Florer 2016

Both of these are now available in my shop. All of my jewelry in this series will be stamped with my maker's mark and .925 sterling as applicable. 

Modernist #1, Stacie Florer 2016

Modernist #1, Stacie Florer 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May Showers and New Flowers

Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.
— Don Miguel Ruiz
Sterling Silver and Amethyst Earrings/2016/StacieFlorer

Sterling Silver and Amethyst Earrings/2016/StacieFlorer

The clover in our back yard is in full bloom, and just like when I was a child, I find myself picking the flowers and twisting the stems...and fighting the bees for a fresh whiff. 

I have so enjoyed my yard this Spring, although in the last week, it has turned into a delicious rain forest from all of the water we have received.

My home studio is really coming along. It takes time to see what wants to be where...and frankly, I haven't worked enough to really know where things will ultimately end up. But I am slowly figuring out how to use my space. 

During this period, I had a commissioned ring from a customer I met last year during the Divine Love conference I was a vender at, and I was so happy with how it turned out. My customer is a big fan of a book series by Kathleen McGowan. The book, The Expected One, described a ring that the heroine is given at the beginning of the book... a cosmology ring that is in hammered copper with 9 planets surrounding the sun. There is a small illustration of it in the book, and I used that as a template for the actual design of the ring. I used a sterling silver ring band instead of copper so it wouldn't turn her finger green. I love how it turned out.

The Expected One Ring, Copper and Sterling Silver/2016/Stacie Florer

The Expected One Ring, Copper and Sterling Silver/2016/Stacie Florer

I made some new earrings for my mother for her first trip out of the country. My brother and she left last week for Scotland, and she wanted some fresh and pretty earrings to wear on her trip. I had posted these earrings on my Instagram feed and she adored the Rose Quartz and wanted her new pair to incorporate these beautiful daggers, too. 

Rose Quartz Pinned Daggers/ 2016/ Stacie Florer

Rose Quartz Pinned Daggers/ 2016/ Stacie Florer

So, I found two more similar to those above, and fashioned her these...they have a commercial ear wire on them, as she didn't want fish hooks since they could fall out easier since she will be wearing warm clothes and a rain jacket. I designed these with her in mind...her passion for plants and I used my curved hinge because it is just so feminine. She was pleased with them, and I am begging my brother to take a photo of her in Scotland wearing them. 

Mother's Day Earrings with Rose Quartz/2016/Stacie Florer

Mother's Day Earrings with Rose Quartz/2016/Stacie Florer

This is the first pair I've made with a hole and the curved hinge...and I will be making more as I adapt this design going forward. As you can see, I am beginning to incorporate a lot more stamps into my work. I have purchased an entire collection of fauna stamps that I am really itching to see what I can do with. 

I am pretty sure this new direction is coming from my love affair with all the nature that I am surrounded by!

Dagger SS Necklaces/2016/Stacie Florer

Dagger SS Necklaces/2016/Stacie Florer

The necklaces above are a new design concept that I came up with to showcase these beautiful daggers that I found at my local bead store. She happens to be going out of business and I am able to get wholesale pricing on the daggers. I really love where this new design can go, and I have been wearing one of them that I kept out of my latest shipment to Blue Skies in Chattanooga. I especially adore the way these feel on...they are lightweight and the metal and stone just have a nice feel when you run your fingers down them together. I am also using my new stamp to mark these babies with!

Sterling Discs with Colorful Beads/2016/Stacie Florer

Sterling Discs with Colorful Beads/2016/Stacie Florer

These lightweight and fun discs are a simply summer design to brighten up rainy summer days! These are getting shipped to Reciprocity in Asheville, but I wanted to show them to you because I am really feeling the need to revisit my bead collection and start incorporating more color into my work. I have so many beads...and it will take me a lifetime to use them all! Ah...a bead addict I was before I started banging metal!

Amazonite SS Daggers with Curved Hinge/2016/Stacie Florer

Amazonite SS Daggers with Curved Hinge/2016/Stacie Florer

I am revisiting in a big way the curved hinge that I started using before I moved here to Roanoke. I wanted a different hinge than the horseshoe one that I have been making for years and years. I love how this design looks great from all angles. Many of my customers have very short hair, and I wanted to make some earrings that look great from behind as well as full frontal. This hinge is a wonderful way to showcase more daggers and points, as well as discs too, as shown below. 

SS Discs with Curved Hinge/2016/Stacie Florer

SS Discs with Curved Hinge/2016/Stacie Florer

These little beauties were shipped to Chattanooga and my social media feeds gave this design a big thumbs up! These are stamped on both sides of the disc, and are just great everyday earrings. I will definitely be making more of these as time goes on!

I have so many new ideas floating around my head, and I am so ready to start creating them. Now that my neck is better and my studio is actually put together, I will be showing up here more, too. 

I also got some great news about a tutorial that was featured last year in Step By Step Wire Jewelry magazine...the Nautilus Earrings are now available in an E-book!

 

I sent out a newsletter to my list of subscribers letting them know that I will be doing small updates periodically here on my website...if you are interested in getting a notice when I update my online shop, please sign up for my email delivery on my main page. 

I hope you are having a wonderful last week of Spring...and have enjoyed all the color that is popping up in our yards! XO!

 

 

Embracing your shift

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.
— Steve Jobs

I'm often asked how I come up with new designs and I identify with a certain feeling of guilt that I really don't know how I do it. 

I am wired in such a way that I try to make sense of all the stories I find myself in throughout my day...the day I made these Eyeglass earrings I was focused on looking back to a moment in my life, when I was around 12 or so, when I was fitted with contact lenses for the first time. 

I ditched my glasses so that I could have peripheral vision again. 

My early childhood is rich in memories of being in nature because of my penchant for trying to see my world from every perspective I had access to. 

I clearly remember spending hours on the ground in our backyard, imagining life from the perspective of what I used to call the Roly Poly, or the Pill bug. These little creatures would transform into a ball when disturbed, and I was a master at disturbing them. 

I was gifted with time as a child to do...nothing structured.  

Lots of time spent outdoors, investigating the world as it presented itself to me afforded me the freedom to 'see' life from all angles. I climbed trees and learned on a cellular level what it means to take the 'higher perspective'.

It's timeless up there. I was able to see both sides of an outcome in real time.

My cat, Sylvester, was an expert hunter. One afternoon, sitting in my favorite tree, I watched him stalk a field mouse.

I could see Sylvester deliberately stay out of the mouse's line of sight while watching the mouse do its little mouse things.

I could see from this perspective of height the trajectory of both Sylvester's actions and the ultimate fate of the mouse. 

The mouse never saw it coming. He never had a chance, really...my cat understood his limited perspective and took advantage of it to secure a fresh meal. 

Learning how to see your life from a higher perspective allows you to perceive and 'see' your own blind spots.  

You 'see' your life from all angles and aren't as likely to get pounced upon by someone or something that takes advantage of your blind spots. 

But to live all of the time from the higher perspective means you don't get to engage in the drama of life. 

And learning in real time happens on earth, not in the heavens.

So before I was able to master climbing trees without falling out of them, I spent a lot time on the ground. 

Literally. 

We had a back porch and the Roly Polies were prolific. I would spend hours on my stomach, stretched out, looking at the world via the perspective of those little balls of buggy life. 

I learned how to focus by doing that.

It was consuming.

Their way of sensing the world is via vibration and touch. I don't even know if they have eyes...but they continually bump into things and if the vibe is wrong, they roll up in a protective, shell-encased ball.  

While they are rolled up, they are moved by outside forces...in this case, it was me. I would flick them to and fro, playing with them as if they were marbles. 

Roly Poly bugs are reactive. I learned that if we are reactive all of the time, rolling into a protective ball at the slightest provocation, that life will flick us to and fro.

Direction is left to fate, or the wind, or the playful flick of a 5 year-old child with nothing but time on her hands. 

Two different perspectives...as different as night and day.

Duality.

The game we are here to play, I believe, is all about the gray. The play of light and shadow. 

All the angles in between heaven and earth are our playground, our learning environment.

Real creativity is the ability to continuously shift our outer/inner sight from earth to heaven.

All those perspectives have something important to teach us and how we mix and mingle them on a daily basis is what living creatively is all about to my thinking. 

I like where we live because I see kids outside, sometimes doing nothing but watching the world like I did as a child. 

If we want to instill more creativity in children, they need unstructured time to play with shifting their sight. They need the natural world to teach them how to 'see'. 

Schools and day care centers and the like can't teach this seeing.

Nothing structured can.

It requires one to leave behind the ways of encasing and enclosing an experience and instead, allowing an exchange to happen that is right for the individual being to occur in the natural world. 

The world is outside, and it's perfect. 

These Eyeglass Earrings are ready to ship. Cost $65.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Things I Adore About My New Home

We are loving our new home and I thought I would share with you the top 10 things I love about where I rest my head at night...

  1. Wall Space: I have so much wall space now to display all the art I want to continue collecting. The first thing I am doing, however, is painting all the walls wonderful colors from Sherwin Williams Traditional Twist palette. It makes picking coordinating colors so fun and relatively painless. And...they have 1 quart samples for $5! Try before you completely commit! Awesome!
  2. Deer: We have about .5 acre of land that fronts a creek. And the deer have an enchanting glade where they play, eat and sleep. I watch them several times per week, and realize that I may never have an immense garden since my efforts would most likely go towards providing them with a buffet. But we have lots of organic farms around here that I will support instead, and my yard work will be taken up with wildlife watching instead. I'm cool with that....
  3. Wood Floors with Personality: Our new house is about 60 years old, and our floors have settled into some small hills and valleys. It reminds me of my youth spent onboard small ships...sometimes I feel like I am at sea with the wonkiness, but that is such a nice touchstone to my past experiences living on the water.  At least that is how I prefer to spin this...
  4. Two Guest Bedrooms: We have two guest bedrooms with Queen beds. What a luxury to have plenty of space for my cherished friends and family to stay in when they visit. This was sooooo important to me. I wanted to make sure I could provide a comfortable place for anyone that visits us...and two guest bedrooms was such a fantastic surprise. They are pretty barebones right now, but I am so excited to turn them into small sanctuaries. Total bonus!
  5. My neighbors: During our first week, we were invited to a neighborhood Christmas party and I can't tell you how much this thrilled us. We were gifted with a loaf of amazing bread baked by a local bakery on day 2 from another neighbor and just a few nights ago, I was invited to a girls' night by my next door neighbor. I am undone by the incredible goodwill that has been shown to us during our first few weeks here. Our neighborhood is wonderful. We have an older gentleman that pushes our trash and recycling cans back into place after the trucks come...truly old school and I love it!
  6. Screened in Porch: Off to the side of our home is a screened in porch with a built in wood grill. It is perched up high, giving us a stunning view of our backyard. There is so much I want to do with this magical space that allows bug-free enjoyment of our abode. It's where I watch the deer play and where I go to catch my breath from working on getting things done here. 
  7. My Studio Space: It looks like I will have about 200 sq. ft. for my new studio downstairs and I haven't even begun to unpack it yet. But I know I am going to love working down there.  The separation of space was critical to me working from home, and with Shayne working upstairs, I know that we can both work without disturbing the other. So important and I am so grateful for the space to really stretch out my creative efforts. 
  8. My stove: Our home has an original Frigidaire Flair stove that came out in the 1960's. If you are a Bewitched fan, this stove was a pale yellow and I believe, a true work of functional art. I have now cooked two big meals on it (Thanksgiving and Christmas) and I can't imagine wanting anything new since this beast is just tops. I love it...and can't wait to continue cooking with it as it is also a great conversation piece during dinners with others. 
  9. Coffee Bar: A dedicated space for our coffee and tea obsession. It feels so decadent to have a such a space...and my mother-in-law bought us a top-notch expresso machine that makes superb lattes' and expresso.
  10. Space to grow into: Shayne and I have lived so small for 18 out of the 20 years we have been together. We now have about 2700 sq. ft. to grow into, and explore what we both want to creatively. He has a huge shop with a screened in back so he can work in the garage but still have this amazing view of our park-like back yard. I have a HUGE studio space to continue exploring metal and perhaps even painting too...we have two living rooms, one that faces the kitchen which is fantastic when people are here and we are cooking, as well as a TV room and a more formal dining room. I think I love this house so much because it has the space necessary to truly enjoy the company of others, too. All of these years of traveling and staying with our friends has been amazing, but now, we are in a position to be that place where you love to go and visit. 

I feel so grateful that we have found such a home here...and all of our experiences with the people that call Roanoke home have been incredibly warm and inviting. Life is such a precious thing when you let it live itself through you. 

I am so happy I responded with a big YES to Roanoke...and can't wait to see what 2016 brings to us as we settle into our new home. 

Happy New Year everyone! 

XO!

My Joy of Teaching

True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.
— Nikos Kazantzakis

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sharing what I know about soldering with Linda, a warm and wonderful soul from Tennessee. 

She was the last student in my studio, and I am so excited for her as she starts out her own journey with shaping metal into wearable art. 

I remember when I first learned how to solder. Years ago, Mary Helen, my studio partner in Chattanooga, and I bought a propane plumber's torch with a huge head from the local hardware store. We went down into the basement of the old bank building where our studio was located, and found Pops-- a big and burly man, who was the building's handyman. 

Pops walked us through the process of attaching the gas canister to the torch head and how to light the thing. Then we proceeded upstairs to our space and promptly began our experimentation into soldering. Back then, there weren't as many videos and books available to the novice metal manglers as there are now, and we were pretty much on our own to learn the finesse required when applying lots of heat to metal and hoping for something exciting to happen. 

It helps to have a buddy when learning something new. I hemmed and hawed for months before I was brave enough to give it a go. And I was talked into it by Mary Helen, a fearless artist turned compassionate healer, not having the confidence to approach it on my own at that stage of my artistic development. 

Every time I share what I have learned with someone, I grow so much within the interaction itself.  Teaching forces you to slow down, and appreciate what you already know. In the slowing down, a space opens up within you that allows wonder and awe to enter again. I love that feeling..it's the feeling that drove me to explore making metal jewelry in the first place.

Over the past year, I opened up my studio to those that needed a short term buddy to witness their growth and understanding of the medium. We didn't really work too much on a take home project during these one-on-one interludes into the practical application of tools and supplies. It really was more of a confidence booster, a try-before-you buy sort of experience. 

I really loved it. 

Monica, another student that came in, allowed me to witness her ideas about combining metal with wood.  I know metal, and she knows wood. It was a fantastic collaborative experience that allowed me to learn something brand new to me. She was already on her way to great things artistically, but needed a little help to get her idea actualized. 

I like being that chirpy bird that is hanging out just outside of the nest yelling, "Jump! Flap your wings! The weather is fine out here!" to those that are ready to leap out into the great unknown. 

I see that more as my role rather than doing videos and such. I was approached by a company that wanted me to do videos this year and at first, I was gung-ho and excited for the 'opportunity'. But after a few weeks into the project, I changed my mind and declined.

I pulled the plug on that because I want to share physical space with those that need a push out of their comfort zone. That was a big realization for me...and although I know it would have been a nice 'feather in my cap', I'd rather keep flapping my wings to my own beat.  Besides, since I was true to myself, my bowing out opened up a space for someone else that was truly aligned to expressing themselves in that particular way. 

Win-win, and that teaching energy spreads out in the correct way for all those involved. 

My tag line has changed to Be...Who You Are. From here on out, I will be exploring just what that means in relation to my evolution as an artist and person.  Knowing that I need to share physical space with those that I chirp to about making jewelry was one important realization that I made this year about my own next steps. 

I have no idea how this will end up playing out. Maybe it means I will start applying for teaching opportunities around the country or try and teach out of my next studio on a small scale. I've no idea...but I'm excited about the possibilities and how it will all unfold. 

Now that Shayne and I will have a reliable and fixed place to rest our heads, planning for things becomes a lot easier.  Another perk to having a home. 

I want to close out with these nice words from my last student...and to say thank you to all those that came through our studio door this year. You all taught me so much...and I am so happy that you found your own wings and are flying around, making beautiful things that come from your own experiences and heart space. That is what I want most for those that cross my path...

Be....who you are. 


I recently had the privilege of taking a private lesson with Stacie at her Asheville, NC studio. Living in Knoxville, TN and having recently retired I knew that I wanted to follow my dream of creating art jewelry. After an extensive research of private metalsmith teachers in my area to no avail I happened upon the website of Stacie Florer. I was instantly impressed and could feel her passion for the art and teaching. She phoned me promptly after an email inquiry and we had a wonderful discussion about my goals and the techniques that I was particularly interested in. After talking with her I instantly felt a connection and new since of energy.

The day of my class finally arrived. I was so anxious and a little nervous. The moment we met all of my nerves were calmed. She just beams with personality and a since of calmness. She had already organized materials, supplies and equipment prior to the lesson. She talked about the importance of setting a calm work environment and more importantly working safely. She explained and demonstrated each technique in a clear and concise manner making sure I understood before moving on. When I got frustrated and my hands wouldn’t do what they were supposed to she calmly would show me how to tweak my technique to make it easier. The lesson went by so quickly and I didn’t want it to end. I truly had one of the best days and left so full of renewed energy and excitement. I knew with confidence that I could take what I learned that day and start creating. Stacie makes all the class notes so you only have to concentrate on learning. The next day I received an email with a comprehensive list of all of the techniques I learned, tools and equipment used and list of vendors.

It is clear that Stacie has not only the artistic talent but a passion for teaching others. I can’t wait until I need another lesson even if it does mean driving a little further to Roanoke.
— Linda Reed, Knoxville, TN