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Inspiration and Epiphany

I have written and erased this blog about 5 times already. I feel compelled to blog, because I’ve been told by many that it’s an important part of marketing myself…but I honestly find it one of the most difficult parts about what I do…putting my thoughts into words and sharing them with the universe…soooo, yeah….I’ve been making an attempt also to grow my social media presence, and have started to document what I am working on at the bench to give followers a behind the scenes look at the making of my work, and well, me.

I was encouraged to focus on Instagram (are you following me?? DebraAdelsonJewelry), and started to post.  I began to post works in progress, finished pieces and images that inspire me…and hold the phone…who knew that people were actually surprised that I had some thought behind my work, lol. It was eye-opening to me, and opened up many, many conversations with my inner circle (aka Janine DeCresenzo—follow her too decresenzojwlry ).  So, I continued to post “inspirational” images, and even posted images where the finished piece in posted next to the image that inspired it.  The feedback was enormous, and I was even stopped by several people in real life that said something to the effect that they “knew I was a jeweler, but had no idea I was an artist”, lol *head smack*.  So, I marinated on this whole concept for a few weeks, and have come to the conclusion that perhaps, if your work is abstract, people just assume it’s random, and that you don’t have the skillset to do something realistic. Huh. My mind was blown!!

Anyway, a whole new avenue has opened for me in terms of communication…I now realize, after over 18 years at this,  that people want and need to know that there truly is a story behind each piece. I’ve always thought about what I make in terms of art, and not as a product…though maybe I wasn’t presenting it that way? Point taken, universe. Point taken.

With this revelation, my work has been evolving at break-neck speed…I’ve made the conscious decision to not limit my experimentation with the glass like I had with the acrylic—so as an idea comes to mind, I’m allowing myself to explore it…most recently, I’ve stepped away from my much coveted engraving machine, and have started carving the glass with diamond wheels.

My main sources of inspiration at the moment are water (always a theme in my work, though, who knew?), sunrises/sunsets, clouds, as well as  rocks and ridges. I am really digging my softer color palette, and have started to bring more texture into my work than ever before.

Inspiration

Post Show Report

Well folks, after months of designing, planning, making, stressing…and burning the candle at both ends, the show came and went, and I am officially on the other side of the hump.

My challenge was to  design a new body of work in a new medium and re-brand myself, while maintaining my artistic voice…not an easy undertaking at this stage in my career! As you may know from previous posts, I switched from working with acrylic for almost 20 years to cold-working and engraving glass (see previous posts)—anyway, setup day arrived, and after all the months of work and anticipation, the day got off to a pretty rocky start…my car was packed to the gills (I not so affectionately called it the “clown car of death” and left the house in torrential rain…only to drop my iphone between the car seat, deep into the abyss of stuff.  I arrived in Baltimore after several white-knuckle hours on the flooded roads, only to find that I jammed my car so full, I had broken one of the bottles of red wine that I had packed to help me relax in the hotel. Yeah…it wasn’t pretty…and the smell….

Anyway….it took me hours to set up my new display…and I’m not exactly sure why it took as long as it did…but it was finally up, and the work was laid out, and I took a look around and said a prayer to the Show Gods…

The show begins with 2 days of wholesale (which means that stores and galleries have the opportunity to place orders without the throngs of retail customers)…the wholesale days  generally move at a slower pace because there are not that many buyers as there used to be in past years (a whole ‘nuther topic to write about). But, I did write several orders, one of which was rather large, and I know will lead a great new relationship.

Friday began the retail portion of the show…my nerves were frazzled…how would customers react to not only the new work’s aesthetics, but to work that is significantly more expensive????? I was a nervous wreck!!!  The show opened at 10 am, and by 11, I had sold one of my favorite, more  substantial pieces…and I was busy the entire show!! I’ve been doing this show for many years  (I’ve lost count, but I think somewhere between 12 and 14 times) and this was my best year there by far. My relief is overwhelming.

Now, I can relax for a few days, and get back to making work that I truly love and enjoy! I have so much room to grow as I learn more about my new materials and gain more skills on that side of the work. This business is full of ups and downs…acceptances and rejections, I’m gonna ride this high just a little bit more… then back to work!

And did I mention that out of the over 600 artists, my new work was chosen for the cover of the show guide?

ACC Baltimore 2016

 

Random Thoughts from a Stressed Out Artist

I’m coming down to show time after a few months of being home…I’ve made the decision, in case you are unaware, to reinvent my work, and move on from the materials that I have been using for nearly the past 20 years…I have officially retired my acrylic work, and am fully committed to working with glass as the main component of my jewelry line.

With that said, I have given myself the challenge to not only re-brand myself, and my work, but amass enough stock in a very short period of time before the show season to keep my business up an running. This is no small feat, and I’ve been somewhat crazed trying to do what I set out to do.

I have been doing art shows and selling my work for almost 20 years, and it must have escaped my mind how hard it was in the beginning, or I would never have taken on this gauntlet. First, I had to come up with a concept of the work that would be not only sale-able, but a concept that had the potential to grow. One that I had the skills for, or could learn the skills for, and most importantly, one that was my unique voice. Well folks, that sounds easier to come up with than it actually is…when you see an artist’s work, and think to yourself, “I can do that”, it’s not just about the execution of the piece, but the hours at the drawing board coming up with the concept, and then hundreds of more hours on top of that working out the kinks, streamlining the idea and design, and then making the work a reality. Then, branding it, expanding on it, coming up with a way to display it, and creating all the supporting sales materials…artists like me are generally a one man band…chief cook and bottle washer so to speak…

So here I find myself less than 3 weeks before my first show with the new work, and I’m nervous. Nervous and excited, but nervous. It’s a crazy position to have put myself in, but I guess you don’t choose this path if you want to play it safe in life?

Come and see me in booth 1502 at the American Craft Council show in Baltimore—the show is open to the public Feb19-21 (Feb 17-18 for wholesale).

http://craftcouncil.org/shows/2016

Proof File

The Countdown

I first started to entertain the notion of switching my medium from acrylic to glass over 2 years ago, but due to life circumstances, and the pesky fact of  needing to learn how to work with glass…well, lets just say the change took more time than an impatient girl like me would have liked.

Now, it’s just 4 short weeks until my first show with my new body of work, and I’ve been in a cloud of nerves and excitement. There is so much more I want to have done before I present this line to the world, and there are just not enough hours in each day to get them done. The major figuring-things-out stage is at least done, and I have worked out my new aesthetic vocabulary…now to execute as many pieces as I possibly can.

Please come and see my new work…I’ll be at the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore…Booth 1502. I know this is just the beginning of the next phase in my jewelry career, but I’m pretty proud of myself for taking the leap to create something completely new.

http://craftcouncil.org/shows/2016

Wholesale Days are Feb. 17 & 18

Retail (Open to the Public)  Feb. 19-21

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The Universe Has Spoken

It’s been a tumultuous few months in my head—it’s hard to walk away from a body of work that has been successful for many years, and has gotten me into the country’s top shows…but my heart just wasn’t into the acrylic line anymore (as explained in a previous post). So, I’ve been developing the glass body of work, and, in the spirit of throwing everything out there to see what sticks, I’ve applied to a whole slew of shows with both bodies of work…and then waited. And waited.

The crazy part about this business, is it’s all one huge gamble. Every application is a gamble, and there is no sure thing (unless you won an award the previous year and received an invitation…but even that isn’t always a sure thing because but not every award comes with an automatic invitation!!)…I applied with 2 bodies of work and waited for what could possible be 2 rejections, from each show, lol. You see, thousands of people apply to the top shows for maybe around 200 available spots. Well friends, the universe has spoken, and it’s message was clear…So far I was more successful with the new body of work!!!!! Now, I can just put the acrylic body to rest, and start with a clean slate.

Tomorrow I will be heading down to Richmond for the Craft+Design Show which, as it turns out, will be my official last show with the acrylic work. If you’ve ever wanted to own a piece, come on by. There are deals to be had…make me an offer, lolpend

 

The Big Debut

As mentioned in my previous post, I spent months developing the concept behind my new body of work. Once I decided on glass as my new medium, I had a long road ahead of me to figure out what the pieces would actually look like. One thing that I knew for certain, I did not want to make something that has existed before. I did not want to make a variation of someone else’s work…I wanted this work to me uniquely my own.  I researched all types of glass, and the glass jewelry that is already out there, and all of those ideas and concepts were OUT!  So I started to make lists of words that I wanted my new line to be—how would I like the new work to feel? What kind of emotion would I like this new work to evoke? What were the characteristics of the material I’d like to highlight? I also made a list of all the words that I felt described my husband’s work, and those ideas were out as well. So, what I was left with was a long list of abstract thoughts that I would obsess about. I immersed myself in youtube and internet searches, and made a file in my computer of any image that I found  even remotely inspiring.

My next step was taking  some pieces of cast-off glass from my husbands studio and actually playing with the material. Glass is not all that different than acrylic in looks, but very different in feel and workability. My acrylic work has always focused on bold colors and shapes that defined my general style, but in the new body of work, I am aiming  to start something fresh…something more subtle and nuanced. I have never really explored texture before, so that seemed like obvious new territory for me. I decided I would like more subtle colors—dichroic glass seemed like a perfect solution. My husband helped me laminate some optical glass to the dichroic sheets before I left for my class in Corning so that I had several pieces ready to go with an ‘engravable’ surface. (For those that are unfamiliar with dichroic glass, it is a glass sheet that is chemically treated so that  is has an opalescent quality…the pieces literally change color depending on the angle or what is backing it). For my shapes, I wanted something organic and rounded, and for the surfaces, I wanted to give the pieces an obvious human touch (without the pieces being amateurish or sloppy—in this day and age of computer generated everything, I feel that an obvious human touch is of utmost importance).  Given that I am by no means an engraving expert after one week of classes, this was a tall order!

This first series of pieces were very much inspired by my new material–I am exhilarated by the fluidity, and translucence of glass, and the play of light and depth that can be achieved.  I’ve decided to construct the sterling elements and then carve back into the glass so the metal becomes an integral part of the design, my goal is for my materials to have a symbiotic existence.

Anyway, here are some of the finished pieces from this first series. I feel rejuvenated, and can’t wait to explore and create more! I can’t wait for my engraving machine to be delivered!

Before I leave,  I’d like to say a quick prayer to the show gods: Please, dear shows gods, find this work worthy of getting into some shows. I am throwing this all out to the universe once again. Please, don’t leave me hanging. Amen.

Carved/Engraved Glass and Sterling Silver Jewelry

 

A Change is Coming

Where do I even begin his post? I guess I’ll begin at the beginning…

I began using acrylic sometime around 1995. My main focus at that time was tableware/housewares, and acrylic seemed like the perfect material to pair with silver for a functional line. Over time, I experimented and explored the medium of acrylic—carving, dying, heat-forming—any way I could think to use it, I was game to try!  My first designs were somewhat blocky—which evolved over the years into a sleek, streamlined aesthetic. Someone once described my evolution as Flintstones to Jestsons, lol.

The big question is, “Why change mediums now???” There is no simple answer to this, my reason is multi-faceted. One huge reason is my acute awareness of my impact on the planet. Over the past bunch of years, the impact of plastics on the environment has become a global issue, and I would like to use a more sustainable material. Another reason, is that although I feel as though the acrylic parts of my pieces are actually the time consuming/difficult parts to make, the material itself has very low perceived value—which leaves me feeling very frustrated. Although I might spend hours carving. sanding, etc. a piece of acrylic, the general feeling I get the past few years is that it is still “just plastic”. And the third and very major reason: I’m ready for a change! I had no idea 20 some-odd years ago that I was essentially marrying  myself to acrylic…I have lots of ideas in this old head, and many of them have nothing to do with acrylic. Life is too short to not explore other materials!

And there you have it in a nutshell.

Many of you may know that my husband is a glass artist…and over the past few years I find myself more and more drawn to glass. This past year, I decided that I wanted to formally learn some glass techniques, so I pestered my husband into teaching me some cold-working (his area of expertise). But, I do not want to produce a line that in any way competes with what he does, so I was stumped. Then, the Corning Museum School Catalog came in the mail, and at that moment, decided that I would take a class—having no idea which class to take. Lots of soul searching was involved, and I landed on an experimental glass engraving class taught by the amazing and talented Pavlína Čambalová.

Great. Now I had an idea of the techniques I would use, but what would the pieces look like?????? I spent hours online researching engraving, watching youtube videos, and sketching…I think I drove everyone around me slightly crazy (sorry)…I had some ideas…Over the months of waiting for my class to happen, I narrowed down my ideas, and had my husband help me make some sample pieces to take to Corning with me…the concept slowly started taking shape.

My time in Corning was slow to arrive, but went in a flash—I’ll need to write more about the actual experience of taking the class another time because this is getting pretty lengthy.

But, with no further ado, here is the unveiling of my new work…and the process involved in making it…process

JAS2low

A Multi-Faceted Girl

Long before I decided to become a jeweler, I wanted to be a photographer. My interest in photography started as a teenager after the death of my great uncle Isaac, a hobby photographer. Uncle Isaac left all of his camera equipment to my dad, also an avid hobbyist, and I in turn got my dad’s old equipment.  Outside of school, I carried my camera everywhere, and have boxes of old images. In the summers, I took several photo classes at Hartwick College in upstate NY, which I absolutely loved. As a senior in high school, I won a NJ state arts  scholarship for my photography portfolio, and entered art school thinking I would be a professional  photographer someday.

Well, life is full of curveballs. After my sophomore year in art school, I discovered the jewelry studio. The tools felt natural in my hands, and I was hooked. At the end of my sophomore year, I remember the huge dilemma… which career path to pursue…jewelry or photography???

Fast forward 20 years, and I feel like I’ve finally found a way to fuse my 2 passions together…I have no intention to stop making jewelry, but in addition to it, I have decided to start professionally taking on clients for jewelry/artwork photography. As a successful jewelry artist for the past 17 years, I am in the position to truly understand how I want my work to be presented, and I feel that puts me in a unique position to photograph other jeweler’s work keeping in mind how they want theirs presented. I am sensitive to the nuances of each piece, and seek to accurately capture the artwork to look it’s absolute best.  I am incredibly detail oriented, and will work with each artist to achieve the image they want.

I’ve set up a facebook album as a portfolio, and will be adding to it as I shoot more work made by other artists…click here to see the album.

 

Molly_Necklace_redo diamond_neckw-step

 

Etsy Shop Now Open!!

Due to a number of uncontrollable life factors, I’ve decide not to do and art shows this summer. As I attempted to organize my studio after the whirlwind of this past show season, I realized that I have boxes and boxes of discontinued, unsold, work!!!

The way my mind works is to make tons of work in whatever my current style is—and due to limited display space in my booth, once I move on to something new, I tend to abandon old styles (even ones that were best sellers). So, with time on my hands this summer, I have decided to de-stash, and open an ETSY shop to sell off all the back stock of abandoned items.

Among the boxes are my best selling acrylic wrap rings, which I made hundreds of, over the course of several years, and I just cannot make another one without my head exploding. I have hit the wall on that style, and it needed to be retired. Although customers still come in and request them, I am no longer interested in making them…it is difficult to work on that scale with the acrylic, and, well, I’ve decided to move on. So, the remaining pieces are all going up for adoption…and I’m not looking back!

Check out the shop—everything I post over the summer will be items that I am deeply discounting, and new pieces will be added daily!!! Get them while they are available! Once they’re gone, they’ll be gone for good!!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/DebraAdelson?ref=hdr_shop_menu

A new addition to my repertoire: photography!

This summer marks my 17th year as a full time jewelry artist. I have experiences both  ups and downs, and have been both accepted and rejected to the best shows into the country.  I have essentially been a part of this profession my entire adult life. I am now at the stage of my career that traveling to a show every weekend is no longer a possibility because it gets harder and harder to leave my young son behind.  I’ve cut back doing as many shows as I used to do, but that leaves my family at a financial deficit. I have been faced with the dilemma, “what next?” Its created a lot of inner turmoil. After a little soul searching, I realized I actually have another talent that I can fall back on—photography! Jewelry Photography! Over the course of my career, jewelry photography has become my hobby out of need, but over the course of time, I’ve actually gotten good at it. I learned to take some pretty exceptional images, to the point where this year, I actually used my images to apply to several shows, and got accepted to one of the most competitive shows in the country, the American Craft Exposition. I have no plan on quitting as a jewelry maker, in fact, I see jewelry photography as an extension of what I already do.
I’ve added a page to this site to show some examples of what I can do, and I’m willing to work for very competitive rates. I’m also capable of doing postcard design, line sheets, banner design, or anything thing you may need to have designed, I’m your girl…I know the importance of great images, and I know what it takes to make them!

Rejection as a way of life

What if the job you hold now made you interview for your position every year? Wouldn’t it be horrible to have a job with absolutely no job security??? What if you had a job where you had to send your resume and re-interview every month? Or every week? Well, that is the life of a full time show artist. And it’s not for the faint of heart by any means…

Now-a-days, it’s relatively easy to find out where shows are. There are several webpages for show listings/applications, and the whole process is electronic. However, when I started doing shows in 1997ish, you had to know about the shows (generally through word of mouth) and call he show director to send you an application. The application itself used to involve slides or images of your work and display labeled to their unique specifications (some wanted a red dot some an arrow, some your name, some a pin #, etc). It was a really annoying process. The paper part of the application may include a place for your artist statement, bio, show history or nothing at all. The application process was arduous. In current years the process has become more streamlined because of technology. The application websites store a lot of the information, so the actual filling out of the applications is a breeze compared to the old days, however now that the applications are readily available to everyone, the competition (number of artists applying for each available spot) went up exponentially.

The jury processes vary by show, but most use a ‘blind’ jury system. Therefore, the jury does not know the names of the artists that they are jurying for fairness. The applications are broken into categories (jewelry, ceramics, fibers, etc) so each artist is judged against artists in their own field. Many juries go through 1000’s of applications (not an exaggeration) over the course of several days with several rounds until they arrive at the magical number of people that fill the available spaces in their show. So, in many cases I am competing with upwards of 300 people in my category (or more — the jewelry category tends to get the most applications of all the categories) to fill maybe 20 available spots. So, the applications go out, and the rejections come back. But, when there is an acceptance letter, it makes the feeling of accomplishment extra sweet knowing how hard it was to just get in.

Do you think you could live that way???