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Denver Vendor Spotlight: Lostgirl Metalworks

Meet Robbi Farscman of lostgirl Metalworks.

While working as a community organizer on the east coast in the early 2000s, I started making jewelry as a hobbyist. Then, it was bead work, including those I made with polymer clay, and the focus was on design – which leaned solidly towards the asymmetrical and quirky. I gave everything as a gift, and when folks told me, “You should sell,” I would laugh and respond with a hearty “No!”

My work later took me to New England, where I continued designing (and giving away) jewelry in my spare time. The reception was similar to that from down south, though “You should sell!” was met with a more tentative “Nooo….” When I relocated to NY in 2008 and heard the same encouragement, I said “Damn right!” (I can be a bit slow on the uptake at times…)

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My first metalworking course was a two-week one called “Rings and Things.” I babbled about it for months beforehand – some might have said ad nauseam – and couldn’t wait for the first day. After seven hours in the studio, I came home defeated and answered the expectant question of “Did you love it?!” with “Not really…”

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Sawing metal was a pain, and I broke blades quicker than you could blink. (Later, I learned that having the right blade for the gauge of metal you’re cutting makes a world of difference!) My soldering skills were also pretty tragic, and the little pieces would jump off the metal whenever the torch flame would get anywhere close. I considered ditching the whole affair after the first day. But I’m pretty determined by nature, so I went back. The second day was a little better, and by the end of the third, I was hooked and began dreaming about my “next life” in metal.  

In February 2012, with only two metalsmithing courses under my belt, a basic skill-set (to say the least!), and just two pairs of pliers in my toolbox, I decided my next life started then and I made the leap to be a full-time artist. Shortly thereafter, lostgirl Metalworks – a nod to my tendency to wander, shun roots and find inspiration on the unknown path – was launched.  

Like the way I live my life, my work tends to be experimental in nature, with middle-of-the-night visions constructed (sometimes awkwardly) in metal the next day.

I work primarily in sterling, though copper and bits of gold find their way into my work, and drool-worthy stones are the norm. Much of my current line contains bold pieces that celebrate both structure and the beauty of decay. (I think of them as modern heirlooms.)

Wings Found earrings.jpg

Life-by-hand, as I call it, isn’t always an easy journey. Some days are smooth sailing and others are complete melt-downs (literally, if I keep my torch on something for two seconds too long). On the smooth days, I leave the studio invigorated and excited to return. On the others, I remind myself that I am a maker, not a machine, and nothing that I do will ever be perfect (though that doesn’t stop me from trying!). 

Whichever the day, I have no doubt that I’m fortunate to have the freedom to create whatever crazy comes to mind and continue to find my voice.

Denver Vendor Spotlight: Copper and Stone

How would you describe your style?  
Minimalistic and earthy.  I want to make my pieces raw and unique, but polished enough to be easily wearable by all. 

 

Are there any artists / designers that you particularly look up to?
I am always inspired by fellow artists that incorporate themes of nature into their work.  I’ve looked up to Andy Goldsworthy for years.  With the rise of social media and independent artists being able to make a name for themselves on these new platforms, I’ve found so many inspiring artists on Instagram!  @sistergoldenshop makes absolutely stunning portraits out of flowers and plant medium and @jessweymouth_ incorporates crystals, wildlife and other nature themes into her watercolors.  I’m also constantly inspired by all of the amazing crafters and artisans that I find around Colorado—I’m so proud to be surrounded by these talented folks. 

What sort of things inspire you?  Where do you look for inspiration?
Mother Nature!  I have a background in geology so it’s really difficult for me to look at a stone without thinking about its entire journey and the story of how it got to me.  Because of that, I try to stick with minimalistic designs for my pieces so each mineral has a chance to shine and tell a story.  Whenever I feel in a creative rut, I simply look west to the Rocky Mountains.  I also draw inspiration from daily life around me—changing seasons, music, night skies, architecture, almost anything.

When do you feel the most creative?
Usually late at night when I am reflecting on my day.  I’ll remember a cool building, an odd plant, or something I saw that day and a new idea will come to me.  Traveling to new places always comes with a flood of creative ideas as well.  I am always jotting down notes and reminders because my best ideas always come to me when I am not at my workbench.

 

What's the coolest artistic tip you've ever received?
Be fearless.  It can be really scary to be vulnerable and put yourself and your craft out there, but the more you push yourself out of your comfort zone, the easier it gets to really start pushing boundaries and explore new territory.  I find that the more I heed this advice, the more rewarding my journey becomes.

Where can we learn more about you?  
CopperandStoneCO.etsy.com is my Etsy shop! 
https://www.instagram.com/copperandstoneco/ is where I post product shots, behind the scenes snaps, giveaways, and just general day to day thoughts 

Scottsdale Vendor Spotlight: Tumblestone

My wife and I were driving through the Texas panhandle when she spotted her first tumbleweed tumbling down the middle of the road, "just drive over it”, I said, “people get in accidents when they try to miss them... it'll fall apart when you run the car over it." One mile later, on the side of the road, as I dug the surprisingly tenacious tumbleweed out from under the car, we decided on the spot that such a determined “weed” should have a place in our home.


After several years of spray paint and tinsel, Halloween ghosts, and Christmas ornaments, our mascot tumbleweed just fell apart into an eclectic display of dried sticks and stems in a beautiful array of colors, resting in the bottom of an old clay pot. The first thought in my artist’s brain was, “if I can get those bits and pieces to stick together, I can sculpt something unique.”


My beginning attempts to dye and press tumbleweed into a viable medium (stable and visually stimulating) for sculpturing firstly became a weekend hobby, then a part-time project, then a full-time obsession! The first try failed, so did the second and third, so did the 78th! With the needed equipment becoming more complex, supplies costlier, patience waning, my commitment often failed me, but I continued to come back to the “vision” of tumbleweeds resting in the bottom of that old clay pot.

Finally, in September of 2012, the very first “fossilized” tumbleweed brick was produced! The first cut into the brick revealed a stable and stunningly beautiful product. When I finally held the very first tumbleweed gem in my hand, with my wife and grandson gathered around, we knew something (never seen before) had just blinked into existence…. And that moment is truly the beginning of my family’s journey.

Mature tumbleweeds are gathered from the Arizona desert, debarked, and dyed vivid colors using plant ­based pigments. The dyed sticks and stems are heated and compressed for 30 days, producing a brick of "fossilized" tumbleweed. From the first cut to the finished piece, each handmade stone is unique in size, shape, color, and grain pattern. Appreciate the slight imperfections that naturally occur during the dying and pressing processes of this re-purposed southwestern icon.

Learn more about Tumblestone on their website at  http://www.tumblestonejewelry.com/

Phoenix Vendor Spotlight: Melis Accessories

How would you describe your style?  Are there any artists / designers that you particularly look up to?                                                                                                                                                     

I guess the best way to describe my style is a gypsy rockstar!   A bit of an edge with a free spirited gypsy vibe.  I love the freedom of expression and sharing in spreading positive energy and happiness to one another.  

We are all energy and the positivity of enjoying each moment is contagious. If I can help my customers focus on today and enjoy the little moments, then my job is done and my journey as a designer has purpose.  

What do you feel makes your work unique and truly your own? 

I feel my work is unique because of how the accessories make you feel!   Many times we buy accessories because we like them, which we all want of course.   But my accessories bring out something different in everyone. 

Countless times I get feedback from my customers that my cuff or bracelet makes them feel so “cool," even if they are very conservative and do not wear statement pieces or much jewelry at all.   Their vibe changes while wearing the jewelry and there is not a better gift than that as a designer.   

What sort of things inspire you?  Where do you look for inspiration?

I have to say I am truly inspired by color and textures. My process always begins with something raw that I see; a material, a stone, a piece of art or sculpture.  I then create incorporating how I feel and the message that I want to convey or inspire someone else to feel.  I went on a very personal journey about a year ago and through that very positive and enlightening path I designed my new lines Energie and Henergie. I definitely learned that when you are authentic and true to yourself as a designer, the designs and inspiration are one in the same.   

When do you feel the most creative?

I am actually most creative when I am sad or on crunch time…it is such an extreme difference I know.  But both actually do not allow too much time to think and I am forced to make decisions instead of the possibilities of change or direction.  When I am saddened or stressed, my mind shuts off and my feelings go into my designs, but I will not put the time into it as I would if I was happy thus not a need for change. When I am on crunch time I have to make the decisions and my mind chooses things and processes differently.   The need to not have the “Maybe” is extremely important in my creative process.  

What is your creative process like?

My creative process really begins with an idea and the medium I choose comes second. The design process determines the medium. I always say that there is something about an artist’s mind that allows us to see and create without barriers. There are challenges and we always find the solutions.

What's the coolest artistic tip you've ever received?

The best tip I received was from a very successful man a long time ago.  He said "NEVER listen to someone else’s ideas or opinions!!   Stay true to yourself and your designs.”   We all have a message to share in all aspects of design including painting, sculpting, music or designing.   We create from our soul and it is an expression of who we are.    Others like to project opinions and unsolicited advice that can steer you in the wrong direction.   

If you stay uninfluenced by others and believe in your path, no matter how many No’s or negative feedback you receive, you will get where you are supposed to be.   Stay Positive and Stay True to yourself and the possibilities are endless.  

Where can we learn more about you?  

You can find out more about me on my website at www.melis.com

 

 

 

Vendor Spotlight: Storytelling Strands

I describe my design style as earthy chic with a rustic glamorous vibe. I am naturally drawn to very raw stones and I think that is attributed to the fact that my husband and I have a daughter, Mo, who graduated with a Geology degree. We were always collecting rocks when she was growing up! She gave me the love of "earthy" gems and each piece of jewelry that I make comes with the history and metaphysical properties of the elements used in the design. 

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Megan, my oldest daughter, is my source of all things "color" and texture! She is a self-taught, and very accomplished acrylic artist, who paints with an extremely cheerful and vibrant style. She pushes me to get out of my comfort zone by mixing metals, textures and colors together in ways that I would not have thought of on my own. 

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I'm certainly inspired by my family, but nature also gives me a boost to the creative process. Whether I'm on a walk with my dog, or a marathon course with Megan (we've completed 7), I find ideas and think about new designs. I want each piece to be meaningful. For example, I've just recently produced some hammered metal necklaces called "Stepping Stones" that were inspired by polished river rocks along a mountain stream. The name Stepping Stones" can symbolize a way to move forward, or heal, or reach our goals. I like to solder three beads onto the metal cutout to represent mind, body and spirit, but some people have customized them for number of children, anniversary dates, numerology, and so on.

I've also started hammering some new rings in Brass, Copper, and Sterling Silver. They are a wide band with a simple, yet dramatic, diagonal cutout and they are named "Pathway" rings. Megan and I were on a marathon course in Couer d'Alene, Idaho when we started talking about letting go of control and letting the path choose us, instead of the other way around. I think a lot of people can relate to jewelry with meaning. It makes a piece very special and can be a fantastic gift for someone. 

You can find other examples of my work on my website at www.StorytellingStrands.com and there is a link to my Etsy shop on that site, as well. Not everything is listed because I'd rather spend time making things that I can show at events like the Jackalope Art Fair!!!

Shop Storytelling Strands at Jackalope Art & Craft Fair on July 25th & 26th at EXDO Event Center.

Vendor Spotlight: Bevruwink

How would you describe your style?  Are there any artists / designers that you particularly look up to? 
I think the work I make reflects the edgy forward thinking of the west coast combined with a quirky sensibility that I attribute to my Dutch roots. I am a huge fan of Dutch Design, which often imbues the practical with humor and a frankness that is refreshing.

I came to ceramics after a life of making and a crafts background but not having ever studied it.  My dad was and is a ceramicist and until just recently, all I knew I learned from just being around him.  Previously (and still!), I made mostly larger scale sculptural and wall pieces and still the things I make are very much inspired by sculpture. I think of them as sculptures to wear or sculptures to live with.   Brancusi brings me to tears. Cy Twombly, Calder, the Bauhaus and particularly the textiles, Eva Hesse, and as of late, I have been really into Sonia Delauney.  Everyone is suddenly into the Memphis Group and I cannot deny an affection for them, Ettore Sottsass is genius. 

bevruwink

What do you feel makes your work unique and truly your own
I don’t take myself too seriously!  There are way too many things happening in our world that bring me down and I want to make pieces that bring some brevity to the world. 

I strive to make pieces that provide a little lightness, make you smile, there's always a little humor or a wink involved.  The pieces I make are unique & clearly handmade to combat our world of mass-produced sameness.

What sort of things inspire you?  Where do you look for inspiration?
Being in LA for 11 years now I draw a lot of my inspiration by these sprawling urban mongrel; from the street signs, to graffiti on the stairs and walls in my hood, to the architecture and our dessert foliage. I particularly love the patterns that emerge after the graffiti has been painted over as the colors never match exactly.  If I am in a rut, I return to my books, I have an extensive collection of “art books” that range from Andy Goldsworthy to Vik Muniz, to of course, Ken Price.

I also listen to a lot of podcasts such as 99% Invisible, RadioLab, Ted Talks, and Marc Maron.  I dream of becoming interesting enough to be on Marc Maron’s podcast!  Words become very physical to me, I seem to see and think in shapes and forms.

What is your creative process like? 
I learn through making and may make a quick sketch; I often dive right in to build.  I actually see this as a shortcoming and wish I focused on process more but as I work full time, studio time is nights and weekends.  I always reserve time to make new ideas and to play.  My happiest discoveries is when something goes wrong but then you realize it is actually better than you intended and it pushes you into new territory

What's the coolest artistic tip you've ever received?
“Don’t get married until you are a famous artist!” followed by, “If you are a famous artist, why get married?”.  He also included in this list of do’s and don’ts “Don’t make political art”.  This came from an early and very dear to me instructor that I adored whom also never followed his own advice.

Where can we learn more about you?
www.nicolavruwink.com
www.bevruwink.com
IG @nicolavruwink

SHOP Bevruwink at our upcoming Jackalope Art & Craft Fair at Central Park in Pasadena CA on April 25th & 26th from 11:00am to 6:00pm.