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Sue McNenly – Secret Garden

I first met Sue McNenly at a Metal Clay conference a couple of years ago.  I’ve followed her blog for years as her fanciful vignettes and creations are just so fun and whimsical!  Recently Sue invited me to participate in an Around the World Blog Hop where we write about our work and link to other artists and creatives to share eye candy (photos), processes and thoughts.  I jumped on this opportunity to kick start my blogging and participate in a fun hop!

1. What am I working on?

I am currently developing jewelry lines for wholesale where I sell to retailers and they sell to the end customers.  I also do some retail/craft shows but find that wholesaling fits my temperament and time schedule better at this stage of my life.  This means coming up with designs, ensuring they are repeatable and cost-effective, creating line sheets and catalogs, and all the other fun things that go with marketing and selling.

Bellflowers

Ripples

Tendrils and Dewdrops

Nature’s Palette

My main medium is metal clay which contains microscopic particles of silver, copper or bronze and works like ceramic clay to make textured and sculptural components.   When fired in a kiln the metal particles fuse and the piece becomes solid metal.  This allows me to incorporate a lot of texture and sculptural forms in my work.

A couple of years ago I also found a local Geology Club where I can cut and polish my own stones.  I am working towards doing some one of a kind pieces incorporating these stones.  This is one of my favorite pieces to date, I left the one edge natural and it’s a one of a kind piece.

Crazy Lace Agate stone set in Silver – Red Tree Studio

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I always struggle with this type of question because as an artist you’re always striving to be different but also realize that everything is a riff on something that’s been done in the past.  So I generally put my head down and create things that I prefer to wear.  My jewelry is characterized as nature-influenced with subtle textures and simple, elegant designs.

New Growth Ring – Red Tree Studio

3. Why do I create what I do?

Studio Minion!

Why do birds fly?  Because they were born to…and so was I born as a creative.  I haven’t always been actively creating but throughout my life I’ve played music, sang, danced and just made stuff.  Even on the technical side (I’m also an engineer) I’ve preferred designing websites and being part of the development process.

Why jewelry?  I started in late 2010 when I felt overwhelmed with work, and having two young toddlers in the house.  “Yes!  Let’s add more to the pile,” I said to myself.  I was lacking balance at the time and needed to do something for myself and allow my creativity to flourish again.  Admittedly I rarely wear jewelry (though I try to more often these days), but I needed something that was small enough to fit in my house and I could pick up and put down at any time.  I found a tutorial on creating a pair of Chinese button knot earrings in wire and became hooked.

Now my girls are starting to grow up I’m sharing that love of creating with them.  Plus, hopefully I’ll have some helping hands in the future!  😛

4. How does my creative process work?

Sketching is not in my wheelhouse so my design process is more off the cuff.  I try to start with a texture or a specific technique I want to work with.  Then I’ll start creating around that texture or technique and come up with different variations.  Variations can be in size, color, shape, metal or repetition.

Vickie Hallmark – Meadowlark Earrings

I love collecting and learning new techniques but suffer, as many artists do, from a lot of collecting and not as much implementing.  So, I’ve slowed down on the learning and started focusing on the doing.  Next up is incorporating more traditional metalsmithing techniques into my work and what I’m most excited about is fusing with Argentium silver (a variation on sterling silver) because I can integrate my metal clay work with the sheet and wire.  Vickie Hallmark, a fellow “Around the World Blog Hop” participant, is a prime example of work that melds Argentium silver and metal clay.

 

Who is next in the blog hop?

On or around December 22, my friends Anna Mazon and Carol Scheftic will be next stops in this worldwide journey.  I have also followed both of their blogs for years.

Anna is from Poland and I met her at a retreat in England.  Her work is influenced greatly by mythology and nature.  Her sculptural work is just divine!  http://drakonaria.blogspot.com/

Anna Mazon Eye pendant

Carol I met a couple of years ago at another Metal Clay conference in Kentucky.  I admire how she combines different metals together in a very textural manner.  https://convergentseries.wordpress.com/

Carol Scheftic woven pedants

Also, because they’re cool, please check out some of my other friends who have already participated in this Around the World Blog Hop

Michelle Loon Mermaid cuffs

Michelle Loon

Helga van Leipsig Furrows and Ridges ring

Helga van Leipsig

Vickie Hallmark Sprig stud earrings

Vickie Hallmark

Thanks for reading!

I went to Cornell University for college and periodically would head down to the Commons in Ithaca.  The Commons is a cool place because it has a lot of great places to eat (very important in college) as well as places to shop.  One of my favorite places to visit was 15 Steps which is smack dab in the middle of the Ithaca Commons.  15 Steps is an exciting store full of American Crafts.

Fast forward a number of years to where I’m designing and creating jewelry.  Now I’m in 15 Steps 24 x 7!  My Nature’s Palette and Bellflowers collections are color-packed jewelry pieces that are inspired, in part, by my years at Cornell.

My jewelry in 15 Steps, Ithaca, NY

Bellflower earrings in pink over silver

Nature’s Palette triple triangle bronze necklace in yellow, green, blue

If you’re in the area, I highly encourage you to stop by 15 Steps.  The staff is wonderful and all the work carried there is inspiring.

It’s been about a week and a half since my first big show of the season, the Athens ArtsFest in Athens, PA.  I’ve lined up an ambitious schedule for this year and I feel like I’m still trying to catch up with myself.  In addition to shows I’m also establishing a wholesale part of my business where I can sell to retailers who will carry my work, hopefully across the country someday!

As I work late nights in my studio, I have a new decoration to look at every so often when I need a warm fuzzy.

Best in Category Jewelry at Athens ArtsFest 2014

Isn’t that so cool?!?!  I was fortunate to win Best in Category for Jewelry my first time at this show!  I’ve made a lot of changes in the past six months and it’s nice to see that others also appreciate it.

My blue ribbon & I!

I hope to see you sometime this summer!  My booth will be looking something like this 😀

Red Tree Studio booth shot

 

Back a few months ago I signed up for the Bead Soup Blog Party, an event that Lori Anderson has been hosting for a number of years.  I watched it grow but never threw my hat into the ring, until this year.  The past six months have been very exciting and demanding business-wise and I wanted to give myself an opportunity to play and experiment.  How better to do it than to be challenged to make someting out of something given to you at random?

I was paired with a veteran Bead Soup party artist Joan Williams of LilRuby Jewelry.

Joan was actually kind enough to send me two bead soups!  I wanted to be able to use both of them but ran short on time.  Maybe sometime later I will finish the second.  Here’s a pic of the soup that I used:

The Bead Soup I get to play with!

Rules were I was required to use the focal & the clasp.  In this case the toggle and the big dotty bead near the bottom of the picture.  This opportunity was a big learning experience because I honestly have hardly done any bead stringing.  My main media is making components and jewelry from metal clay and joining them with wire.  My necklaces are mainly pendants or use chain with a few small bead accents.  Only recently have a truely started exploring color in my own work.  I have learned that creating a balance of pattern, size, color in beads is a task I’m not wholly comfortable with.  And those connections and transitions!  Oy!  Somehow I managed to pull something together that’s earthy and tribal.

Without further ado…

Necklace by Kim Paige Red Tree Studio for 8th Bead Soup Blog Party

The triple strand of off-white and copper beads at the back of the necklace were originally planned to be a part of a necklace that included the leaf focal I sent to Joan.  You can see it better in her post.  When she sent me the tribal set of beads I was rooting through my personal stash and realized it fit in perfectly.  So in addition to Joan & I having the Bead Soup connection, our final pieces also have a connection!  (a little corny perhaps but it’s cool to me so shush 😛 )

Most of the rest of the beads were supplied by Joan.  I had to add a little of my own metal clay into the mix.  Since I had never made a bead before here are my small attempt to create some small ones that wouldn’t overwhelm the design.  The white dots echo the white dots in the focal pieces of the necklace.

Copper beads made from metal clay

When I saw the toggle clasp I knew I wanted to do a front closure.  I also wanted a tassle to go with the tribal theme.  I had some red beading string left over from a restringing repair job.  Since my studio name is Red Tree Studio, I had to add something a little red!

 

Asymmetrical necklace Bead Soup Blog Party by Kim Paige

 

If anyone is interested in this piece email me and name your price.  I will donate the full amount towards a campership for a Girl Scout to go to Camp Amahami in Deposit, NY this summer!  Camp Amahami holds a special place in my heart as I spent every summer there growing up.  A campership will allow a girl with limited financial means to attend overnight camp and experience the wonders of the outdoors.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the blog hop!  You can find the rest of the links (the list is huuuuugggggeeeee!) here on Lori’s blog post – scroll to the bottom of the post for the list.

If you want to keep up with what I’m doing the rest of the year you can find me on Facebook and Pinterest.

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This year I felt I have to really step up my game and apply for some bigger and badder Art Shows.  I’ve mainly been doing local events around Binghamton, NY for the last couple of years.  I was rejected to some shows last year so wasn’t sure how I would do with my applications this year.  With new images in hand a a fistful of jury fees, I sent in a half dozen applications and waited with anticipation as response deadlines approached.

I am ecstatic to announce that I was accepted into ALL of the shows I applied to!  Here’s my schedule of shows so far starting with this weekend.

May 3-4 Athens ArtsFest Athens, PA

June 10-11 Keuka Arts Festival Pen Yan, NY

July 12-13 Corn Hill Arts Festival Rochester, NY

August 16-17 Art at the Gardens Sonnenberg, NY

September 6-7 Clothesline Arts Festival Rochester, NY

I will also schedule some fall/Holiday shows & will add them when I hear back!  This is going to be such an exciting year!

Whew the last 6 months have been absolutely cra-zy here!  The last time I posted I was going into the Holiday show season and sort of overbooked myself with back-to-back-to-back shows.  Well I came out unscathed on the other side and haven’t stopped since.  Usually the spring is my slow time because of family obligations and lack of shows.  I decided to kick it into high gear this year.  No slacking off this spring!

In the middle of all those shows last fall I decided to go-for-broke and signed up for my first Wholesale show scheduled for this April.  Wholesale is selling to retailers rather than the end customers.  That experience will be a whole ‘nother post here!  I’m a person who works well to deadlines, if I don’t have a deadline I’ll putter the time away.  Signing up for that show gave me the much needed push to clarify my lines of jewelry into a cohesive set.  It’s always a work in progress but it’s light-years ahead of where I was 6 months ago.  I’m starting to get my work into some new locations which is very exciting!

Bellflowers wholesale line

Speaking of deadlines here’s another one coming up…Lori Anderson’s Bead Soup Blog Hop.  I’ve been watching this event evolve over the past few years and, despite my already overfull schedule, took the plunge and signed up.  I’ve already traded bead soups with my partner Joan Williams of LilRuby Jewelry.  Here’s a quick shot of what I sent her:

Bead Soup sent to Joan

Closeup of the leaf focal in Copper

This mix is what I got in return!  And actually she ended up sending two so I could choose, which was very generous.  I’d like to do both but one may have to wait due to having a show scheduled this weekend.

The Bead Soup I get to play with!

When I’m done on Saturday, I will post a final shot of what I made & will get to see what Joan created as well!  You can find more about the whole Bead Soup Blog Party at Lori Anderson’s blog.

Oy, how is it October already?!?!?  Fall is my favorite season and the weather lately has been wonderful!  Well, ok the one outdoor show I did this fall happened to be super Chilly.  That was the Windsor Window on the Arts festival which I did for the first time.  Will I do it again?  You betcha!  The customers were great & the festival staff were so very supportive.

I debuted some new designs at the show & they seemed to be well received.  My booth setup under a brand spankin’ new tent was also just what I imagined it would be!

 

My new tent & updated display

So I’ve gotten my first outdoor show under my belt, time to turn attention to indoors.  I’m probably a little crazy but I booked a show for every weekend of November in December.  Oy!  I’ve kicked production into high gear, here’s a peek at my workbench.

Copper metal clay earrings ready to be sanded, drilled for holes, and fired in the kiln.

This pile of copper once fired in the kiln will get a wash of color and end up like these beauties!

Earrings ready to be packaged

I’m working on getting these listed on my website but I will have a much larger selection available at the following shows.  So I hope to see you out & about this fall!

Saturday-Sunday November 2-3 10AM – 6PM both days Mayday Underground! Rochester Armory, Rochester NY

Saturday-Sunday November 9-10 Sat 10AM-9PM, Sun 11AM-7PM Fibers of Your Life Oakdale Mall center court, Johnson City NY

Sunday November 17 11AM-3PM Temple Concord Holiday Marketplace Temple Concord, Binghamton NY

Saturday November 23 10AM-3PM Hillside Garden Center Holiday Open House Hillside Garden Center, Binghamton, NY

Saturday November 30 Indie Garage Sale 11AM-5PM Mowhawk Valley Community College, Utica NY

I was fortunate to be able to present about Websites at this past weekend’s Metal Clay Mojo conference for my fellow artists.  Many people are apprehensive about creating and maintaining websites so I wanted to break down some of that nervousness and provide some guidance around the process.  With today’s tools it’s not necessarily difficult but it certainly can be time consuming.  This information is good whether you plan on creating your own website or finding someone else to help you build it.

On one of the slides I ask “How do you eat an elephant?”  The answer is: “One bite at a time.”  During my presentation, I also liked to emphasize “Done is better than perfect.”  Stop futzing with it and get it out there.  You will always be improving a website so let it work for you while you consider your next move.

Many people asked me if they could get to the presentation after the conference so I am making the slides available here on my website.  Feel free to contact me for questions.  I love talking about websites!

 Artist Web Sites Presentation (Adobe PDF)

If you would like to download the file, click on the link above and then in Google Docs click File > Download

 

Back in April, I took a photography class called Photographing Fine Art and Craft with Brit Hammer.  Since then I’ve been working on some images for applying to some fall shows.  I’ll let you know when  I get acceptances but in the meantime, here are some pictures of work I’ve taken. These are more jury style overview shots which means they’re composed in a format more recommended for a craft show jury to review. In my next post I’ll share a different style of pictures that I captured.

Tendrils and dewdrops earrings in silver

 

Tendrils and dewdrops bracelet

 

I’ve been interested in photography for a long time but hadn’t really pursued it much aside from taking the standard pictures of my kids. Taking my own jewelry photography product shots gave me good incentive to get serious again.

Here’s a peek at my current studio setup.  Since my class I got creative with some PVC pipe and made myself some light stands.  My mom, who is a whiz at the sewing machine, made me some great light diffusers.

Studio photography setup

This year I’m focusing on more of the business side of running a business (rather than taking technique classes) and this photography class was well worth it! I can take pictures that reflect my aesthetic and voice. It’s fun being able to combine multiple art forms – satisfies my need to create on so many levels!

‘Til next time – Enjoy Life!

Kim

Keepsake Photo Pendant of my two children in silver

I started creating jewelry back at the end of 2010, and formally launched Red Tree Studio at the beginning of 2011.  Why?  Well, when you have a full time job and two young children (pictured right) you have to jump on the crazy train and add something else to your life to suck up your time, right?  Heh.  To be honest, I needed to do something for me.  Creating is what feeds my soul.

People talk about finding balance in life.  My full time job is technically oriented and I feel comfortable in that mode of thinking.  But I have always had creative/artistic tendencies.  I loved art class and I participated in music from elementary through high school with Winterguard was my passion.  I sort of fell out of the creative habits when I went to college.  Bringing art back into my life many years later was probably way overdue!

Another influential piece of my life that has manifested in my jewelry is the fact that I was (and am a registered lifetime member!) a Girl Scout.  Every summer I would spend weeks at Camp Amahami swimming in the pond, horseback riding, hiking, cooking and singing around campfires…so many fun things that bring back great memories.  You’ll see a lot of nature themes in my work and those experiences are a huge reason why.

So why did I choose “Red Tree Studio” as my business name?

My alma mater is Cornell – Go Big “Red”! I am of Chinese heritage and “Red” is an auspicious color in Asian culture Fall is my favorite season – and “Red” trees are the best of all! I mentioned the Nature theme above so “Tree” just fits right in “Studio” (as opposed to Jewelry or something else) is because I wanted the name to be flexible enough to accommodate other art should I decide to add or take a new direction in my work

So there you have it – Red Tree Studio by Kim Paige, jewelry artist, nature lover.

Thanks for joining me on this journey!  More to come on inspiration, process, and probably some random stuff…just because  🙂

All the best, Kim