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Sunday, September 20, 2009


Creating jewelry is a very satisfying process for me. I find it a very enjoyable way to spend my time, losing myself in the creative process. I lose track of time with favorite tunes on for hours and hours as I "work"

Because almost every one of my pieces is a one of a kind unique creation, each one is also an experiment. I experiment with materials, design elements, textures and colors, and most of all, techniques of fabrication.

I make all of my works from scratch. Aside from some earring wires recently, i do not purchase pre-made components and put them together. I fabricate all of the parts of the pieces I make from scratch; everything from finding and cutting and polishing the stones/ materials to cutting melting, forging, milling, rolling and shaping the silver and gold. I find this to be very satisfying as none of my parts are standard sizes or shapes, everything comes from the creative process of dreaming of something and then manifesting it in the "real" world.

Sometimes this process amazes me even more by surprising me with lucky accidents which later become useful as elements on other pieces or as new techniques of fabrication or assembling. Recently I had to devise my own way of attaching silver to brass since the two metals seemed to be incompatible for simply soldering them together.

My latest ring, the Full Moon ring really stunned me with its surprise gift. The ring began as a nice lump of recycled silver which i textured in the brief moments while it cooled. It revealed itself as slightly moonish and so I re-melted it and re-worked it till i was satisfied with its moon-likeness. I like to have a lot of content in my pieces at least while I work. I find it very satisfying, so i began to contemplate and remember moon symbolism.

. . . ahh, the full moon, a symbol both simple and complex, speaking of completion of cycle, abundance, and symbolic of the height of power, the peak of clarity, fullness and obtainment of desire . . . and lunacy. In alchemical teachings, the moon is ...a facet of Silver.

Instead of any of the previous forms of ring shanks i have crafted, it struck me that a nice design element could be added to the piece by the mirroring of the full moons circular shape in the band. This was a great way to integrate the main of the ring with the shank, allowing the shank to be more artful on top of being functional. I decided on two large circles with a smaller one in-between which when laid out measured the requisite length to create a size 7&1/2 ring shank, a safe "average" and very common ring size for women. What I found after creating this ring astounded me.

These circles when observed from the bottom appear as another full moon with a waxing crescent moon to the left and a waning crescent moon to the right!
(this photo was taken before i brush-finished the piece)

This was a completely serendipitous aspect of it's design, not an aspect i had intended, but an unforeseen aspect manifest in the form of my design. It blew me away. I wish i could say that i had intended it to be this way, however, i am completely satisfied, and a bit in awe, with the way it came to be.

Sometimes things just happen this way and i take great joy in it.

The moon of this ring is of brushed Sterling Silver with a modicum of patina for the craters and seas. This sits atop a found White Agate which is set in lightly brushed Sterling Silver bezel.

This ring is a size 7&1/2
Main Bezel and stone of this ring measure 1" x 3/4"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Orlin Helgoe's Visions of the Prairie

When you google the web for Orlin Helgoe, you don't come up with much. He's mentioned briefly by name a few times and, oh, there's an out of print book about him and his paintings . . . and there doesn't seem to be any copies available. It gets even worse when you search web images with his name, all you come up with is misleading photographs of other peoples paintings which would lead the unsuspecting investigator to have a very wrong picture of his work. To me, this is a shame.

Lucky for me, I live in Pueblo Colorado. Now, I haven't used that sentence an awful lot in my life, and I do not use it lightly in this instance. This is Orlin Helgoe's hometown and so there are clues about him to be found here. Many of his paintings are collected at the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center some of which are displayed through the year. The Pueblo City County Library District has a copy of the out of print book. There are other local artists living here who were students of Orlin Helgoe. His family and friends still live here.

The late Orlin Helgoe is known by some as "The Shaman of the Prairie." His work often depicts life and inspired moments on the prairie which he both loved to roam and paint. To me he was one who had absorbed the spirit of earth and sky, and took strength from the visions he recieved of the prairie. His powerful paintings exhibit that he was one who sought to pierce the veil between the seen and the unseen, to unify the outer landscape with the inner world.

His paintings are, well . . . full. Full of images and emotion and something else. Something they draw from the observer, elements which lead the mind of the beholder to translate, or fill in the blanks. Some of his paintings are close up shots of something, like the one of the dead deer he painted after killing his first and last deer on a hunt, or bleak landscapes with mysterious circles floating in the air, or some like the one these pictures come from which is an enormous painting depicting a scene which seems like a multiple exposure shot of several moments and perspectives at one level and then one finds that this multiplicity of scenes is comprised of many other smaller elements, smaller scenes and micro-mysteries.

When I found this stone the scene depicted in the picture jasper was instantly recognizable to me as Helgoe-esque. Although nowhere near as colorful or complex, it definitely reminded me of the elements in his work. When my subconscious mind sought to interperate the imagery of this stone it's only corroborating connection was "Helgoe." Here was a desert scene of mystery complete with the floating wheel within wheel orbs. No mistaking it, this piece was some kind of memorial to Helgoe and and the mystery of the wilderness of the local landscape. Were the stones speaking? Did they miss their lone wanderer? Did they miss the seeker of meaning and mystery, the "Shaman of the Prairie?"