Monday, November 18, 2013

Ocracoke Treasures, Peace, and Thanks to Linda D.

"Ocracoke Treasures"
"Magical" isn't a word that I use lightly, and it's interesting how frequently my time on Ocracoke Island is described in exactly that way.  Our last trip there in October felt long overdue.  Life at home was stressful, and we were anticipating our visit with even more enthusiasm than usual.

On the day of our departure, we left home at 2:00 in the morning so that we were sure to arrive at The Cedar Island Ferry in plenty of time for the first crossing of the day.  Tired and happy, we landed on Ocracoke a few hours before our rental home was ready.  Ken indulged me in my need to immediately feel the sand between my toes, and I indulged him in his need for a nap.  

While he was snoozing in the truck, I made a beeline for the Pony Pen Beach.  It was just what the doctor ordered!  It was a perfect breezy fall afternoon.  With the sun on my face, I walked in solitude in the surf for about twenty five minutes before beginning my return trip. 

Because I'm not truly happy on the beach until my pockets are overflowing and my hands are filled to capacity, I picked up oodles of treasures along the way.  Then, just when I thought that I couldn't squeeze one more morsel into my collection, I spied a flash of color on a piece of driftwood that I'd passed earlier.

"...and let it begin with me..."
Imagine my surprise when I drew closer and found these.  I quickly realized that they were even more precious than I'd imagined.  "Peace" was exactly what I was seeking on Ocracoke, and to find such a physical manifestation of it within hours of my arrival can be defined as nothing short of Magical.

Thank you, Linda D. for sharing your talents in such a generous and selfless way! Your gift touched my heart, and I hope that your time on Ocracoke was every bit as Magical as ours.  (If you happen to be reading this, Linda D., please let me know. I would love to be able to thank you more personally.)

Friday, November 8, 2013

What A Difference A Day Makes

From the crispness in the air to colored leaves to pumpkins, I love the Fall Season.  This year my travels took me from Pennsylvania to New England and back to North Carolina.  The time on the road allowed me to experience nonstop autumnal beauty for weeks on end.  Here at home, fall arrived softly.  I live in The Sandhills, home of the majestic Long Leaf Pine.  While they offer stunning beauty year round, they just don't provide a whole lot of fall color.  ;-)
This photo is similar to one that I posted on Facebook.
Notice the heart shaped hole in the leaf on the top left.
About a week ago, I noticed that the small maple tree in our front yard had begun to turn brilliant orange.  As the days passed, I appreciated it as I gazed out the window or drove in and out of our driveway.  Then two days ago, as I rushed home after an appointment, I paused to visit the tree in person.  It was awesome!  Its leaves were rustling gently in the breeze; bees were languidly resting amidst its branches; and the Carolina Blue Sky provided the perfect backdrop for its vibrancy.  I posted a photos of the tree on Facebook that day, and I was amazed by the positive attention that it received.

Yesterday dawned to mist, fog, and gray skies as I made my way to yet another doctor's appointment.  When I returned home, I was stunned to see that our beautiful little tree had shed almost all of its leaves overnight.  If I hadn't paused for those precious moments the day before, its beauty would have existed only in my mind.   

I know that there's valuable lesson in this experience, and it's one that's been on my radar for the past few years.  Our time here is precious and fleeting.  We need to make the most of it; we need to appreciate those we love and the beauty that surrounds us; we need to focus on the things that matter most; and we need to do it right the moment and amidst the chaos.  Life is beautiful, and I for one want to fully appreciate every last drop of it!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Broken Shell Beauty

I love surprises. 

Today, when I placed my hand into my jacket pocket, I came away with a sprinkling of sand from my most recent visit to Ocracoke.  It instantly brought a smile to my face, and mentally carried me away to my all time favorite beach. 
One of My Favorite Things...Broken Shells.
When I reached into my other pocket, I was rewarded with these three beauties.  I found a number of perfect shells during my visit...a scotch bonnet, a sand dollar, and a variety of others...but I continue to be drawn to the parts and pieces.  These shells have survived; their strength is apparent; and they have a history that I can only begin to imagine.  Worn smooth by their journey, their beauty is beyond compare. 

For now, I've returned them to my pocket.  They'll live there with the sand for a while; both serving as a gentle reminder that these words are a true for us as well.

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Personal Pause

One Perfect Pause...taking time to appreciate the little things. 
(Ocracoke Island, North Carolina)
Lately I’ve noticed that I have an increasing need to pause.  From the briefest of pauses to more long and leisurely ones, at times the desire to pause overwhelms me.
Pausing quiets my mind. It provides me with time to consider my options; it allows me to reflect on the consequences of my actions; and it permits me to respond to various situations instead of reacting to them.  This may sound like a subtle difference; but it’s made an enormous improvement in my life.  In the ever increasing rush around me, pausing centers me.
Sometimes I silently summon a personal pause in the midst of chaos.  This type of pause tends to be transparent to those around me.   At other times, I verbally declare my need to pause.  I wasn’t even aware that I did this until a friend noticed it.  When she brought this behavior to my attention, I realized that the gentle act of pausing is one manner in which I care for myself. 
Rushing through life is overrated, and I’ve done it for far too long.  I’m now ready to embrace my personal pause.  Care to join me?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Whoopi Goldberg Raises Awareness of Lewy Body Dementia

Just about a year ago....after a lengthy period of misdiagnosis and extremely bad reactions to the wrong medications...we received my Mother's diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia.  

Thanks to Whoopie Goldberg for helping to raise awareness of this disease.

Thanks to The Lewy Body Dementia Association for all that they do to raise awareness while supporting patients, their families, their caregivers, and the medical community at large.


Monday, September 9, 2013

My Really BIG Announcement - Introducing ReMe Retreats!

When I was twelve years old, my Aunt Stella, my Grandma, my sister Janet, and I made a trip to The Outer Banks.  It was the first time that I'd ever seen the ocean, and I still have vivid memories of the experience.

Twenty years ago, I ventured with a friend for a week long vacation in Nagshead.  It was lovely, and as the week progressed we were drawn farther and farther south to the land of lighthouses, sand dunes, and undeveloped wide open spaces.  I'd never experienced anything like it, and I was hooked.

Shortly thereafter, I began a love affair with Ocracoke Island.  Ocracoke is a magical place.  During my years in corporate banking, my journey there and my time on The Island provided much needed stress relief.  In fact, as Ive faced most of my life's challenges, I've been able to find peace and clarity there.

My artistic vision and career were shaped on Ocracoke.  As a budding art photographer, my first show was held there; my photo was published for the first time on the cover of a local newspaper; I made my first sale to anyone other than a friend there; and I received my first gallery representation there.  Later, as my creative muse turned toward mixed media art and jewelry, I participated in my first festival, The Ocrafolk Festival, on The Island.  During my time at that event, I met Leslie Lanier,; her amazing shop, Books to Be Red, became my first wholesale customer.  Each of these events provided a huge boost to my confidence, and each was a major milestone in my life.  And that was just the beginning!

In October 2000, while visiting Ocracoke with my oldest and dearest friend, Theresa, a chance meeting changed my life.  It was then that I met Ken Skipper, and our long distance love began.  We've been married and happily living in North Carolina for almost ten years now. 

Through all of this, a dream has been dancing around my mind and my heart.  I wanted to be able to share the comfort, inspiration, and magic that I found on Ocracoke and in my career as an artist.  Piece by piece, the image of that dream began to crystallize; my family and friends loved the concepts that I shared with them; and in January 2012 the dream began to become a reality.

Jodi Ohl, an amazing mixed media artist, and I were on a road trip for a show in Florida.  I mentioned my ideas to her, and she loved them.  While on the road, we reached out to our friend, mixed media, paper, and book art maven Penny Arrowood, and our excitement about the possibilities grew exponentially.  By the end of that trip, we'd already reserved our dream retreat house on Ocracoke Island, and the hard work began.

From January 2012 through May 2013, ReMe Retreats was born.  We planned, planned, and planned some more.  We knew that we wanted ReMe to be an intimate experience filled with time for creating, time for reflecting, and time for just being with our fellow artists and friends.  In May, with eight of our nearest and dearest friends, we hosted a trial run of ReMe on Ocracoke Island.  From the moment we set foot in the door, we knew that we'd found our home.

Since that visit in May, we've been finalizing plans for our Inaugural ReMe Retreat on Ocracoke Island in May 2014.  As we fine tuned our website and other details, we began to distribute save-the-date-cards, and we set the date for our formal announcement of ReMe Retreats to the world. our utter amazement...our first retreat sold out before we'd even announced it!  No one could have been more surprised than the three of us.  From the time of our first guest registration to our last, little more than 24 hours had transpired.  With each new guest reservation, a flurry of text messages and phone calls between us was launched, and we enjoyed every minute of each mini-celebration.     

The enthusiastic response to the ReMe Retreats concept has reinforced that we're on the right track, and we're now working diligently to coordinate a second ReMe Retreat on Ocracoke Island in 2014.  We expect to announce that retreat within the next few weeks, and we've developed a procedure that should allow all interested parties an equal chance at registration.

Now this is important…to be sure that everyone who’s interested in attending ReMe – Ocracoke – 2014 and all future ReMe Retreats will have an equal chance at obtaining one of our remaining guest spaces, we’ll proceed as follows:

If you’re interested in receiving our official early updates about ReMe –Ocracoke,and all future ReMe News and Events, please visit ReMeRetreats to subscribe to our mailing list using the box in the margin of this page. Subscribers to this mailing list will always be the first to receive news from ReMe.
At least one week before we go live with the second ReMe Retreat - Ocracoke, we’ll send a message to our subscribers. It will contain the date and time that our PayPal Reservation Button will be posted to the ReMe Retreats Website. Subscribers will have the first opportunity to secure one of our guest spaces. Then, 3 days after the PayPal Reservation Button goes live on this page, we’ll formally announce our second ReMe Retreat – Ocracoke.

Thank you again for the love and support that you've shared with me through the years.  It means the world to me, and I'm looking forward to all that the future holds for each of us!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Well Earned Patina and Comfort In The Familiar

Like a moth to a flame, I'm drawn to rusty metal.  Bright, shiny, and new is nice; but the character and history of a rich patina thrill me to no end.  I suppose that the same is true of the relationships in my life.  Those that stand the test of time hold a special place in my heart.

Since my Mother received her diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia last year, her world has been shrinking.  At first our time was filled with physical therapy, doctor's appointments, church, store visits, and her weekly hair styling.  She seemed to thrive on the activity and the social nature of these trips, and we even discussed enrolling her in several programs at our local senior center.

Then, slowly, things shifted.  One by one her activities dropped away, and her steady stream of excuses for not leaving the house grew.  I know that it's a symptom of her disease.  She now thrives on routine.  A rigid schedule helps; but it's still sad to see.  Those activities and people who used to bring pleasure are no longer familiar, and they cause her anxiety to rise. 

Her visits with Robin at Salon 165 are now her one constant outside of our home.  She loves Robin, and today as we arrived for her appointment, I heard her greet her twice by name.  This isn't always the case, and it made my day.

Salon 165 is located in a sweet cottage on Rhode Island Avenue in Downtown Southern Pines.  We always park next to the ramp at the side of the building.  This shed stands in the neighbor's backyard.  It's identical to the first one that my Dad built at our house on Highgrove Road.  He was so proud of that shed, and this one brings a smile to my face every time that I see it.
I can still feel the way that he door stuck;
I can still hear the screech of metal on metal;
and I can still smell the mix of lawn clippings and gasoline.
There is comfort in the familiar.

Some days that's enough. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Please Vote For Me

The photo below shows a few of my favorite things.
Tools are an obsession, and my studio is
usually in organized chaos.
The plastic drawers were my Dad's. :-)

Using the link below,
would you please vote for me in
Cloth Paper Scissors Go Studio Challenge?  :-)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

CREATE Mixed Media Retreat 2013

My Display at The Artists' Faire at CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in New Jersey
Could it be that a month has passed since my last post?!?!  Both at home and away, July was filled with artistic adventure for me.  One of the highlights of the month was a trip to CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in Somerset, New Jersey. 

A sample created using dies and
texture plates by "Spellbinders". 
I'm looking forward to sharing
all that I've been creating
using these same tools.

This was my second year in attendance at The Retreat.  Last year I tagged along with my pal, and amazing mixed media artist, Jodi Ohl. She was teaching a variety of classes, and I appointed myself as her personal assistant for the week.  [Nice work if you can get it!  ;-) ]  This year I also decided to share my overabundant collection of supplies and my work as a vendor at The Artists' Faire there.

What a wonderful experience!  I'm still floating on the memories.  The creative community is filled-to-overflowing with kind, talented, generous, and funny women and men.  I'm grateful to count them among my friends, and I treasure every moment that we share.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Latest Greatest Tool Find

Recently I had the good fortune of discovering the Troy Antique Mall in Troy, NC, and I was charmed by the hospitality extended to me by the store's owners, Sibyl and Marty Williams.  They were friendly without going overboard, attentive without hovering, and oh so accommodating of my requests to open display after display so that I could drool over the treasures hidden within.

It's my very own World War II Era Metal Stamping Kit

During my visit, I managed to collect quite a few post cards, a vintage tin with textured graphics, and a dime dispenser for Ken.  Then, on my final walk-through, I spotted this beauty in "Case #6".  I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  I knew that I had to make it mine.

An Outside View

When I first took the mallet out of the case, my reflex was to test the weight and balance in my hand with a mock striking motion.  I didn't even realize that I'd done it until I'd replaced it, and Sibyl said, "It looks like you've done this before!" 

I hope to become a regular visitor at  The Antique Mall.  I can't imagine passing through Troy again without stopping.  And as for this set, it's found a new home and place of honor in my studio. I'll treasure it for a lifetime, and I've already begun to dream about a new jewelry collection inspired by its history. 

This kit includes individual stamps of the full alphabet,
a mallet, the case, and a specialized anvil.
One side of the anvil was used for
marking spoons, forks, and knives
from the mess kits.
The other side of the anvil was used
for marking meat cans. 
After WWI, dog tags were
no longer hand stamped as the
process was automated.

The letters and random words stamped into the wood
add to the appeal of these tools for me.

The first three letters stamped with my new set.
A nod to my Dad who enlisted in the army
during World War II when he was 17 years old.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

CREATE Mixed Media Artists' Faire Please Join Me!

Please join me on on Friday, July 19th, from 6:00 - 9:00 at the CREATE Mixed Media Artists' Faire at The Doubletree Hotel in Somerset, New Jersey.  I've managed to exceed the legal limit of mixed media art supplies in my possession, and I'll be sharing my extras during this event.  I'll also have a variety of my own work on display for inspiration.

I attended my first CREATE Mixed Media Retreat last year, and I highly recommend it.  It's hard to describe the energy that surrounds you when so many artistic souls gather to share their talents and experiences.  Over 90 classes will be offered this year, and I've already enrolled in two of them myself. 

You'll find more information about this event, and the CREATE Retreats in California and Illinois, on the CREATE Website.  Hope to see you there! 

A small selection of the treasures that I'll be sharing.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Tools Of My Trade - Honoring My Family History

Hi.  My name is Jean, and I'm addicted to my tools.
A few of my favorites. 
My first set of vintage letter stamps, a variety of texturing tools,
well worn wooden holders, and my all time favorite hammer.

I come by it honestly.  My Dad was a maintenance foreman at J&L Steel in Pittsburgh, and my Grandpap had a collection of ragtag tools that defies the imagination.  Both of them loved their tools, and I'd give anything to spend even an hour with them today in their individual work spaces.

My Dad's workbench in the basement of our house on Highgrove Road was organized to a fault.  Each tool had it's place in pegboard on the walls, and each drawer...especially the tiny plastic ones...were painstakingly organized with the contents clearly labeled on the front.  (Dad was a wiz with his label maker!)  He loved his tools, and he cared for them in a way that allowed them to last for a lifetime.

On the other hand, my Grandpap's basement shop resembled an avalanche overflowing from the top of his workbench to the corners of the room.  I'm sure that he had his own system; but it was lost on the rest of us.  The new tools that my Dad proudly presented to him as holiday gifts were often hidden away and "saved for good".  Instead he worked with a mishmash of salvaged, repaired, and repurposed cast offs, and he seemed to enjoy the challenge of keeping them going.

Today I treasure both approaches to tools and workshop organization.  I love the beauty of a brand new well designed tool, and I also adore the imperfection and history of a well used yard sale find.  I strive for a at least a bit of my Dad's order; but Grandpap's tendency toward repurposing and collecting continues to rear its head.  I'd like to think that my methods honor them both, and I hope that they're proud of my hybrid ways.  Their influence in my daily life continues, both in the workshop and out, and I'm grateful for all that they've taught me.

My favorite hammer is the one that my Dad
used  each day of his life, and now the same is true of me.
I love the feel of it in my hand, and the way that
every mark on it tells a story. 
Perfection is overrated. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wholesale Orders

I'm often asked, "Can I place wholesale orders through Jean Skipper Originals?"  And my answer is always an enthusiastic, "Absolutely!"

"Remember to Remember" a series of custom designed pendants
for a customer with gatherings on the East and West Coasts.

I love working with boutiques and organizations to meet their unique wholesale needs.  Sometimes this means selecting exactly the right combination of jewelry and accessories to maximize their sales in-store or online.  At other times, it means designing a specific piece of jewelry that represents the organization's values or their mission. 

No matter how large or how small, I'd love to discuss your next wholesale project with you.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Reminders From Class

My only regret...I have only one photo of the fun to share!
The artwork in the background is by the talented Jodi Ohl.
Last week I had the privilege of teaching a spirited class at Artful Living Group in Carolina Beach.  I gathered there with seven wildly creative students to create hand stamped copper cuff bracelets.  I knew that I'd found my home when one of the students arrived with a bottle of wine to share.  ;-)

Shortly after we began, an unexpected equipment malfunction occurred, one that might have brought the class to a screeching halt.  As a result, I excused myself to meet with one of the store's owners to discuss a "Plan B" for the class.  When I returned a few short minutes later, I was astonished to see that these remarkably resourceful women had already embarked on a "Plan B" of their own.  They were joyfully sharing the equipment that was in working order, and our class proceeded without a hitch.

As a result of this experience, I'm reminded... expect the best of others.  Most people we meet are of a kind, generous, and caring nature. ask for help when I need it.  "Going it alone" is overrated. continue to learn from my students.  I gain more from them than they do from me.

Thank you again to the wonderful women who shared this experience with me!  I'm looking forward to seeing you again for our next round of learning.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Before and After

I captured this photo during my event at The Painted Mermaid on Thursday, June 20th.  Do you see the gorgeous, well organized, and inspiring box in the background?
Neat and Orderly.  It's an effort; but I really do try!
Then came the crash heard 'round the world!  After a day of heavy duty organizing here in my studio, this photo shows a new perspective of the same box.
One step forward, and two steps back.  ;-)
Mama said that there'd be days like this...  ;-)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

This Week at The Painted Mermaid - Southport, NC

Debuting on Thursday, June 20th, 11:00 until...

This Thursday, June 20th, from 11:00, and until we run out of fun, I'll be visiting The Painted Mermaid in Southport, North Carolina.  This sweet vintage and handmade boutique is run by one of the nicest women I've ever met, Amy Atwell. 
These parts and pieces will give you a
sneak peak at The Safe Haven Collection
During our visit, we'll debut my new jewelry collection that was inspired by the book and movie, Safe Haven.  Safe Haven was filmed in and around Southport last year; the cast and crew endeared themselves to the community; and a number of treasures from Amy's store were used in the filming.

I'll also demonstrate metalsmithing techniques, and I'll be ready to personalize any of the afternoon's purchases. 

If you're within driving distance of Southport on Thursday, I hope to see you there!

The rich patina of each piece speaks to
the weathered and worn in all of us.
Cuff bracelets and necklaces will
make their debut on Thursday.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Art of Being Rejected

When talking with an artist who’s on the brink of marketing her work, the fear of rejection often plays a significant role in her approach.  This can be as obvious as, “What if no one likes it?!?” or as insidious as,”I’m not good enough.  My work isn’t ready yet.”   These sentiments may be muttered to a trusted friend or simply held in the heart of the artist who’s longing to share her work with the world.
Rejection is one of the not-so-thrilling-parts of being an artist.  It’s become a routine part of my career, and I expect that it will remain my companion through all stages of artistic development.  Rejection proves that I’m still stretching and taking risks with my work.  That’s a good thing.  And while I don’t look forward to it, I have learned to deal with it.  As artists, it’s not something that we talk about often, and perhaps that does a disservice to those who are following similar paths.
This week I received a rejection phone call from a gallery whose board chose not to represent my work.  Their reason?  My collection is too edgy for the conservative population who shops there.  What process did I go through when I heard this news?

In the moment, I absorbed all that the caller was telling me.  While I don’t take every word to heart, I do try to listen for constructive criticism that can guide my approach toward galleries in the future.

I resist the urge to defend my work.  This one can be overwhelming for me!  For whatever reason, they’ve made their decision.  Nothing I say is going to change it, and ultimately I wouldn’t want it to do so.  I try to remember that they’re not rejecting me personally.  They just don’t think that my work would be a good fit for their gallery.  My work deserves better than that.

I thank the gallery for the opportunity.  Yes.  It’s a little like saying “It’s an honor to be nominated.”  The art community is a small one, and I want to keep the door open in the future.

I take a good hard look at my work and my presentation.  Did I put my best foot forward artistically?   Was my work presented professionally?  Were my marketing materials of high quality?  Did I follow the gallery’s specific submission instructions?  If I see room for improvement in any of these areas, I work on it.  If the answer to all of these is affirmative, I let it go and move forward. 

I accentuate the positive.  Other opportunities are waiting!  I now have a full set of inventory that’s ready for a show, my online stores, or submission to another gallery. 

In the interest of full disclosure, this type of rejection still stings.  It can cause you to question your abilities.  And it might even cause you to consider the validity of your dreams.  Don’t give in to it!  This is a growing pain.  You’re not alone in what you’re feeling, and I promise that it diminishes with time.  The sweet success of your next acceptance will be cause for celebration and proof that all of your efforts have been well placed.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Blue Pelican Gallery - Hatteras, North Carolina

When in Hatteras...or anywhere in the vicinity of The Outer Banks,
add The Blue Pelican to your list of places that you absolutely must visit.
Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words, and I suspect that this may be the case with Blue Pelican Gallery in Hatteras, NC.  When you walk in the door here, you'll feel instantly at home.

Owner, Jenn Johnson, is far more likely to brag about her artists than herself. 
Be sure to ask her to share her creations with you too.

You'll find Mary Neligan's Funky Fish at Blue Pelican...

...with an amazing collection of
traditional and whimsical pottery.

The selection is a fiber artist's dream come true.

And during June 2013, The Blue Pelican is offering a special on all
"Yarn Shop" selections.              Buy 3, and Get 1 Free.

Can you say, "Kid in a candy store"?!?!?

Get your Hatteras-wear here too.

While a picture may be worth a thousand words, photos can't do justice to the experience that's in store for you at Blue Pelican.  It's the kind of place that you'll want to share with your friends, and I hope that you'll do exactly that. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Studio Inspiration - Art by Amy Smith

It was another wonderful weekend of organizing and creating in my studio.  I continue to make progress every day, and I'm finding motivation in this positive development.

While the results may not be apparent to the untrained eye, a few of my newly clutter-free horizontal surfaces have already inspired me to take action on the ideas that are dancing in my heart.  (In my world, no horizontal surface stays empty for long, and in this case that's a very good thing!)
"Oh, isn't it curious?"
Yes, indeed!
Amidst my creating, this blue bird caught my eye.  He's one of my earliest purchases of original artwork by the talented Amy Smith.  Amy was one of my first true friends here in North Carolina, and she's encouraged my artistic development from "Iwannabe" to "IthinkIcan" to "Ireallyamanartist".  For this I will always be grateful.

You can view Amy's recent work on her  Facebook Page, in her mixed media online store, or in the store that she's dedicated to her handmade glass beads.