Sunday, November 23, 2014

Artist's Sunday #10: Thanksgiving, or "and now, for Something Completely Different."

I'm going to change it up a bit this Sunday, and instead of featuring other artists' works (yes, I know, that was the entire point of Artist's Sunday and all that), I'm going to present a story, and call for you  artists, crafters, writers, and all you other creative people out there to do the same. I'm going to tell you the story that best demonstrates why I continue to create and share my art.

I'm going to tell you the story that shows most perfectly why I am thankful for the talent and skill and opportunity to make art and share it with the world. (See what I did there, I worked in Thanksgiving. Hee hee.)

In truth, the point to Artist's Sunday was, is, and will always be communion between like-minded individuals. Whatever our internal disagreements - over mediums, materials, techniques, pricing, advertising, etc., etc., etc. - we are still artists, still of like mind, still creating beauty to share with the world.

So here's my story:

It was the Stone Mountain Highland Games of... oh, several years ago, back when I was first learning some of my now-favorite techniques and mediums, back when I was still affiliated with the Wild Highlanders, selling my jewelry under their aegis. I had just finished some classes at a local jeweler's, on Precious Metal Clay(PMC) and chainmaille jewelry. The PMC pieces I'd made went on the table next to my beadwork, my purposely primitive ogham pieces and equally (but not as purposely) primitive wirework... and what do you know, the PMC got the most attention that year. Part of the class had been on how to create a PMC box and include gems in the piece. Mine was an (I thought) ugly little abstract trapezoidal thing with three little gems embedded in the random, pointless swirls on its face. 

Someone didn't agree with my assessment of the underestimated little box, however. A woman stopped by the tent, browsed over my now-ex-husband's handmade knives (the Wild Highlanders tend to celebrate the more ancient and primitive Celtic ways over the more modern Bonnie Prince Charlie stuff), and then gave my jewelry a quick, brushing glance. Now, I'd seen this woman stop at several other tents, give their merchandise that same brushing glance, and move on. I noticed she was wearing jewelry from a couple of the other artists at that Games, namely Marc of Kent and the Crafty Celts, and with an idiotic, delusional certainty, I just knew she'd pass by my work, same as I'd watched her do at the other tents. 

I was dead wrong. It took her less than five minutes to decide she wanted that ugly little box. I was thrilled, because her eyes sparkled with a delight that lit up my life. Now, un-remembered to me, this dear lady was the same customer who had, the year before, purchased an antler pendant inscribed with a harp and the ogham for Taliesin the Bard. I told her a little of Taliesin's story, and as things will go, I'd forgotten the incident. If you've ever been a vendor at a craft fair, you know how it goes; so many people stop and chat, some purchase and some don't, but it ends up being hard to remember faces after a while. So, anyway, I told her how excited I was that this particular little piece was going to a good home, and she looked at me in this piercing sort of way, and told me that the Taliesin piece had been a blessing. It took me only moments to put it together - the Taliesin piece had been one of my favorites, after all - and as soon as she saw the recognition in my face, she went on to explain it. She was a harpist (harper?), specifically playing the Celtic lap harp, and she'd fallen out of practice for a few years before purchasing my Taliesin piece - health, life, etc getting in the way. The pendant had been like a talisman for her, inspiring her to get back into playing, and she wore it every time she sat down to practice.  Due to my work, my art, this dear lady had gotten back into doing something she loved, that warmed her heart and blessed her spirit. 

Come to find out, she was the wife of one of the Games commissioners, and her purchase of the ugly little box came just as some inner commission politics were trying to edge the Wild Highlanders out of the Games. She and her husband (who was proudly wearing one of my ex-husband's knives in his sock), argued our case to the Games Commission, and ultimately won.

Not only was my art instrumental for this lovely lady's own artistic life, but it aided in avoiding an unpleasant situation and the loss of the biggest Games the Wild Highlanders attended. And this is why I continue to make my art... because it touches lives, in ways I can never predict, and I can't wait to see how the ripples spread. 

Now, it's your turn! My call out to all you other artists this Sunday, is to dig deep (or maybe not so deep?) and find the story that best displays why you continue to make art in spite of all the mud that life flings in your face.

Live, Love, and Make Art
-your Artful White Fox.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Artist's Sunday #9: Delicious, Rich, Creamy, Sensual...


I bet you were expecting something like "lotion" or something foodie-related... but instead today is about Amber.

Amber is a fossil; tree resin (sap) that hardened and fossilized to form the delightful gemstone that ranges in shade from an almost-white cream to a deep brown that is nearly black. There is also Green Amber and Blue Amber, which is the most rare, and found almost exclusively in the Dominican Republic. In fact, blue amber only looks blue in certain light, because of its inclusions. Some of the most desirable pieces have preserved insects or small lizards captured within. Its colors are perfect for harvesttime, blend seamlessly with silver, and go with nearly any other color imaginable. It's the perfect statement accessory, and can be found in so many varieties of color and shape that the possibilities are endless. It is easily carved, polishes beautifully, and even looks gorgeous in the raw! When in the raw, it exudes an oil that is mildly anesthetic, hence its popular usage as a teething remedy, effective for both moms and babies. Essential oils and perfumes can be made from it.

This is, in my opinion, *the* gemstone for autumn. If you've ever seen it or touched it you know what I mean. The colors mirror the changing leaves. The texture is smooth when polished, like a misty autumn day... and it's one of my favorites, if you couldn't tell.

Now, on to the arts!

I have featured this artist before, but these wearable sculptures were too perfect for this edition of Artist's Sunday, so I had to feature another piece:

Until next time...
-your Artful White Fox

Monday, October 6, 2014

Artist's Sunday #8: October, an Introduction

For those of you who haven't been with us, I am the Artful White Fox of this place, Twinflame Studios. I craft a post on Sundays (I would say every Sunday, but I am a chaotic creature and it doesn't always work out the way I'd prefer) paying it forward to other artisan crafters out there whose art speaks for itself. If you want more details, find them here. Yes, I know it's not Sunday. Bear with me, as yesterday was the first Sunday in October, and it has been a very long week for your Artful White Fox and her Dragon. I won't bore you with details; that can be for another post. Instead, I'll get right to the fun parts, the artistic inspirations and creations:


October. Warm, spicy apple cider (and/or mulled wine!). Trees shedding their suits of green in favor of gowns in gold and crimson. A chill settling into the wind, in some places already bringing snow. In more southerly climes, it merely heralds a change in what blooms, and what will grow. Animals make a final push toward hibernation, scrounging for the last bits of calories to pile on. Giant, noisy machines begin to harvest fields ripe and ready. Pumpkins and gourds are ripe on the vine (and in our supermarkets!), ready for harvest, for carving, for pies and muffins and anything else you can imagine flavored with pumpkin spice... like the caramel apple cider and pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks. I know, I know, they're made with terrible ingredients and not always fair trade... but even your Artful White Fox has her guilty pleasures. Don't hate me.

Autumn, the time of year when the warmest colors herald the coldest days. What does your autumn look like, feel like, smell like?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Foxfire Daily: Art as a Business

A friend and I were recently having a (slightly) heated discussion about to sell or not to sell art. It got me thinking...

He made a simply stunning butterfly-wing rose trellis, which I spotted pictures of on his Facebook, and then he made a comment that he has a problem with charging people for his art. "It's a moral dilemma," he said. "...the Greek word for art is tekne. The Greeks never separated art from technology, so as I see it, whether I'm machining, welding, wood working, fitting pipe or otherwise, as long as I put love in it, it is art. The things that I make at home, I make out of love and share with love. If you want me to post pictures fine. But I don't like selling art."

I love his perspective. I love his attitude about it. He's right! We shouldn't (have to) charge money for our art... but this is the world we live in. It is unfortunate. It's a hateful thing. If I could, I'd give away every piece I make. But I can't afford that. I have to buy materials. I have my family to think of. I'm slowly building a reputation as an artist, both in the artistic community and with those who enjoy our art from the other side, customers and fans. And I respect other artists, who *need* the money their art brings them, enough to support the idea that artists should be paid for their art.

We deserve it.

Now, I have to say this... I do *not* disagree with his viewpoint, nor is this an attempt to rant or argue in response to his opinion, but as I said, it got me thinking.  And we all know, when something gets me thinking, I have to write it down. And I love finding out what other people think. I think there are a lot of things we don't think about when deciding whether or not to sell our art.

Namely, that there are other things to consider as an artist besides having a fundamental personal issue with selling art, or even whether our art is only supporting ourselves. I make gifts for Christmas or birthdays, or because I think someone needed a pick-me-up; I have donated to giveaways. I even donated to a friend's church's charity silent auction. However, on a day-to-day basis, there's also the artist/artisan/crafter community at large to think of. Gifting to friends and family is one thing. If you give away art as a rule, then someone who might have given money to another artist will come to you instead, and that other artist may have needed that purchase to pay rent, or buy food, or... well, you get the idea.

And, there are certain fundamental rules to follow as an artist. Some are more important than others.

My #1: Always document your work. The reason? It's *your* work.
::Use the pictures to mark your progress, improve on old mistakes, and discover how to make new mistakes work for you. I have kept every sketchbook I've ever doodled in. I go back and look through them sometimes, just to see how far I've gotten. It's one way I encourage myself to keep improving.
::If you ever get commissioned, you're going to want examples of your work to show your customer.
::If you ever get employment as an artist, you need a portfolio.
::And God forbid anyone should ever steal your work. But someone else claiming your work as their own and/or making money off your work, (whether you do or not) without your permission, is illegal, immoral, and just plain hurtful to us artists. Always, always, always have dated & signed/logo-ed/watermarked pictures of your work. Always.

If you do or don't sell your art, remember that you are a representative of thousands and thousands of other artists across the globe. Many of them make a living off their art. Many of them have a day job and use the money from selling to put back into their art - materials, tools, etc. Some few are successful enough to be able to quit that day job and pour every waking minute into what they do. Many of them trade on a well-earned reputation as much as, if not more than, how attractive their art is to their customer base.

A lot of people don't think art should be a paid occupation. There is this societal stigma that we're lazy, that we're superfluous and even shallow for thinking we deserve payment for making someone's life prettier. A lot of people see artists as stuck-up hippie/hipster/high-society pricks. (Let's be honest; some of us are. Many of us are not) A lot of people don't understand how much work it is, being an artist. We put blood, sweat, and tears into our work. We put love and sorrow, grief and joy into our work. Heart and soul are etched and soaked and carved and painted and melted into every line of our work. Our works are like our children... beloved, worried over, sometimes wayward, but always make us proud when they go out into the world.

We deserve it, as much as the power line worker or forester or construction worker or farmer or any one of a thousand other professions that keep our lives liveable. Yeah, so we're not necessary for survival or even for you, as a customer, to be successful at your life... but we make things prettier, brighter, and what is so wrong with knowing what our hearts and souls are worth when plastered on your wall, or worn around your neck, or adorning your yard?

Live, Love, and Make Art
-your Artful White Fox.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Artist's Sunday #7: Nerd Love, Episode 4 - To Boldly Go

Foreword: I am not even going to address missing last Sunday. If you haven't figured out by now that our lives are nuts and I don't always get the opportunity to sit down and focus on this long enough to hash out a decent post, then you haven't been with us for very long. If you have figured it out, then I hope you won't get annoyed and leave us. That being said, welcome to Episode IV.

Wow, I realized after typing that, that it sounds like one side of a couple's spat. Ha. Anyway...

*ahem* That's right, this week is on Star Trek. If you're a Star Wars fan and hate Trekdom, then this is your chance to skip over to the next one. Yes, don't worry, I'm going to do Star Wars too. Trek gets its day first because I am a Trekkie, and because Dragon and I have been playing Star Trek Online in our spare time (it's free to play and gaming is quite possibly our favorite thing to do together, besides... well. *ahem*) so it's been on my mind.

Star Trek has touched the hearts and imaginations of many generations of geeks, turning them into writers, actors, scientists, engineers, technicians... well, you get the idea. There's even a documentary on "How Star Trek Changed the World" that is pretty awesome. Seriously, even if you don't like Star Trek, but you are a tech geek, you should check it out. I didn't even know how much influence my childhood fandom has had on the world we know...

From an artistic/creative perspective, Star Trek triggers the inspirational hope for a better, brighter (and, let's face it, more interesting!) future. The Original Series (and The Next Generation, too. After that it was more about adventures in space...) was all about humans getting over their differences and overcoming obstacles and threats and problems, and discovery and exploration of uncharted frontiers, by working together in a society of mutual respect. There was no currency (one of the evils of our time if you ask us, but that's another post for another day), disease had been dramatically reduced, lives were longer, and technology actually made our lives better instead of turning us into screen zombies. Not quite a Utopia, because there was still a galaxy full of messed up goings-on to deal with, and people are still people, but the idea presented, that one day we as humans will get over ourselves enough to present a united face to the rest of Creation, and tackle whatever comes our way with cooperation... that is what inspires.

And, granted, when diplomacy didn't work, they got to blow sh*t up. Can't get better than that. :D

Now! On to the arts:

Here's raising a glass of Earl Grey, bloodwine, Romulan Ale, or tranya
to generations past, present, and future,
who have been inspired by the voyages of the starship Enterprise.

"These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise, her five year mission, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Foxfire Daily: Fox and Dragon

A conversation with a friend on Facebook sparked (pun definitely intended) a thought process in your Artful White Fox's mind (while I was trying to do the first wirework I've been able to do in almost two weeks because of the sickly in the house).  It's part of our tagline - "Foxfire and Dragonfire come together and a new era of creativity is born" - but what does it mean?

The common element is Fire. But what is Fire?

Fire burns.
Fire melts metal.
Fire creates ash, from which green things grow.
Fire creates power.
Fire warms the cold nights.
Fire is passion.
Fire lives, breathes, grows, and procreates.
Fire is creation and destruction in the same heartbeat.

And both are required for life and growth.

Now... Fox and Dragon... where in the world does that come from?

I, the White Fox, and my partner, the Black Dragon, recognize the fire burning in each other, and it burns brighter, hotter, and stronger together than it could apart. It runs like liquid stars in our veins and pours from our hearts straight into our hands and mouths, where we can share it with the rest of the world.

Fire is the forge and hearth of our life together.

Dragons are fierce, proud, loyal when you've earned it, and deadly when you've not. Dragons hoard what is precious to them, and that is not always gold and jewels. Sometimes a dragon's hoard is a little less tangible... like knowledge or wisdom... or a little less cold, like friends and family.  They can be greedy, but if one is greedy for the right things... well, let's just say there are some things I don't think you can have too much of. And if one turns that greed to thoughtful purpose, instead of mindless acquisition, then it becomes passion. And God help you if you mess with what is precious to them, because they will eat you.

Foxes are wild, shy, gentle, and clever. They are great parents, and good at making safe, warm, cozy dens. They can be loyal companions when they learn to trust. They are often mischievous and love to play. They can and will vanish if threatened. They are strong-hearted and adaptable, surviving where others might not. They're ethereal, hard to grasp, like the wind... but if one comes to stay, treasure it and treat it with respect, and it'll stay with you, and work hard to make your world as bright as it knows how.

I am his White Fox, his kitsune - his bright, wild, magical, overly outspoken and often troublesome creature that comes to his call and stays by his side by choice.  He is my Black Dragon - fierce, proud, loyal, protective, and passionate, who spreads his wing so I may shelter in its shadow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Sometimes it gets to us all. The White Fox and Black Dragon have been down with this season's fever/sore throat/sinus crap but we're on the tail end of it (thank you, Nano Silver!) and hopefully can get back to (what passes for) normal in the next day or so.

Sorry about missing this last Artist's Sunday; that will resume this coming Sunday, with something geeky for Easter weekend, and maybe a sprinkle of St. Paddy's thrown in. We'll just have to wait and see what comes out.

On another note, we've (re)acquired a roommate from a previous dwelling-place. This is not a bad thing (sister-in-law, and she's a sweetheart), but it's starting to get crowded and worrisome for purely survival reasons (food, mostly), but we're figuring we can make it work. Still trying to come up with some way to get ahead when we live in a county where the number of jobs is SO much less than the number unemployed... unfortunately almost all the opportunities available are too far away or cost too much to take advantage of. What are a jewelry artist and a blacksmith/jack-of-all-trades to do with so little to work with?

Dig up the bones, dust them off, and see what can be recrafted from what's left. As always, we're open to suggestions.  There's got to be a few avenues we haven't yet explored.

Live, Love, and Make Art
-your Artful (sickly) White Fox.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Artist's Sunday #6: Nerd Love, Episode 3 - the Baby Geek

This week's edition of Artist's Sunday is going to have a slightly broader spectrum, being the midway point: The Baby Geek.

Nerdy parents dress their poor hapless spawn in the paraphernalia of the nerddoms of their choice, and it's us geeky artists' jobs to make sure they have the torture devices to do it with. From Doctor Who cosplayed by a 4-yr-old to an adorable character hat, or wall art, the geeky artists' community has plenty of work cut out for them (us).

Disclaimer: Twinflame Studios is not responsible for COS (Cuteness Overload Syndrome) resulting from reading this issue of Artist's Sunday.  ;)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Artist's Sunday #5: Nerd Love, Episode 2 - The Last Airbender

Yes, I know, it's not Sunday. My apologies for that. 

Your erstwhile Fox and Dragon had surprise company show up for the weekend, so the opportunity never arose for Fox to sit down and do the weekly Pay It Forward. I may be a day late, but never a dollar short when it comes to my writing.

This week's (belated) Nerd Love Episode is...

Avatar: the Last Airbender

An awesome animated series put on by Nickelodeon some years ago, Avatar: the Last Airbender has spawned numerous fanfiction, art, artisan crafts, cosplays, a movie (don't get me started on that, however), and a sequel series. An "airbender" is a person with a pseudomagical control over the elemental force of Air. In the series, there are also firebenders, waterbenders, and earthbenders. It centered around the character of Aang, who is the "Avatar" - a person who is reincarnated every generation or so, who can learn to bend all the elements instead of just one. It is his or her job to maintain and police the balance of power among the four nations. Aang disappears from the world, and it is a hundred years later when he reappears... into a world torn by war, where his own people, the airbending monks, have been wiped out; the Fire Nation is trying to conquer the rest of the world, and doing a pretty good job of it so far. 

A montage of the major characters:

A very nice rendition of Aang in the "Avatar State":

And now down to the nitty-gritty, the lovely Avatar: the Last Airbender-inspired artisan crafts I've found:

Pai Sho is a game similar to Go, played in the Avatar world. It mostly figures in the character of General Iroh, uncle to the Fire Nation prince, Zuko.

The Avatar: the Last Airbender world is home to many hybrid creatures, such as Tiger Seals, Badger Moles, Buffalo Yaks, Catfish Alligators, Elephant Rats, Giant Eel Hounds, Platypus Bears...

...the Pentapus...

...Momo, the Lemur Bat...

...and of course, Aang's loyal companion, the last Sky Bison...
Clay Appa Charm by minnichi on deviantART

Hope you enjoyed Episode 2! 

Live, Love, and Make Art
-your Artful White Fox.