In the last nine months my father passed away, I chose a graduate program, and I moved across the country. More changes are on the horizon, too, ones I know are coming and others so intangible it's nearly impossible to even imagine them. Yesterday another big change happened: I started my graduate program, and a new way of being an artist and a new way of living. I had an inspiring talk with my mentor, Lori Talcott, recently and she told me I have to "submit" to school, meaning I must put aside most everything else and devote myself to my studies. I've been thinking a lot about this word "submit" and what it means to me. Then I found a quote by Henry Miller that defines it in a really beautiful way and articulates how I feel:
"True strength lies in submission which permits one to dedicate his life, through devotion, to something beyond himself."
So I submit to school and to my work in a way I have not done before, and in doing so, a few more things are forced to change:
my new studio at California College of the Arts
My Sienna Patti Contemporary solo exhibition has been postponed. Sienna and I decided to put the show on hold until I'm done with school. It's just not the right time. What about the Pearl Piece you may wonder? I will continue to work on it (and accept contributions), and when it's done, it will go out into the world. I've said "no" to a few other exhibitions and projects recently, too, and my Etsy shop is now closed.
I started working at Velvet da Vincione day a week. It's great to work alongside Mike Holmes and will be a great way to stay current in the world of art jewelry while providing me with some structure and regular income.
And, finally, I'm going to take a long break from blogging and other social media that's focused on my work. These things, although I truly enjoy them, take a tremendous amount of time and I know I will need all the time I can get in the coming weeks and months. My work is going to change a lot over the next two years, too, and I think I need to keep things to myself, for the most part, as I move through school. Starting with this entry, I'm going to try a new approach and post only once a month, and I will no longer post here on Blogger. I'm moving over to Tumblrwhere you will find me at"I live here now." I will continue to actively post on Instagram and will Tweet occasionally, too.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for being a wonderful audience... please stay with me.
I received my tiniest contribution just after moving to California in June. It was from Natalia Araya in Valencia, Spain and inside the mailer addressed in sweeping handwriting was a small, oval-shaped trinket box. The box, with its embossed leaf-pattern texture, had a mosaic of pink, yellow, and blue flowers on its hinged lid. I carefully opened the box to find a folded parcel, sealed with gold tape. I carefully opened this little bundle, too, and discovered five loops of thread-like black wire, each strung with seed pearls. I immediately wondered what the story was and how old they were.
I sent an email to Natalia to say thank you and let her know the pearls had arrived, as I always do with my contributors. I also asked her if the the pearls were old and, later that day, she replied with a detailed story about how she acquired them. She told me when she first moved to Spain, she bought some tools from a 78-year-old jeweler named Don Juan, "a retired man who lived in the middle of nowhere yet specialized in Victorian jewelry repair." She said they became friends and had many great conversations. One day he gave her a box full of old gems and pearls, including the ones she had sent to me. She asked him about the pearls and he explained they had been a part of something he had repaired once and the wire they were on was original. Natalia went on to say, "I treasure them, they are just so little and such a special gift, I am glad to give them to go to a big project, they have been around [and] I feel it's a good way to finish their story..." In another email, she sent me some photos of her with Don Juan, one from the day she bought the tools and another from after they had become friends. In this picture, the two are out for a walk one weekend during a visit with his family at their country house.
I like to think about the events that lead up to these emails and that will also, eventually, lead to me adding the pearls to the Pearl Piece. What an interesting series and wonderful connection between the three of us and then to all the other people who sent pearls as well. I like that these tiny pearls were once a part of something and are now finding purpose again, much like the pearl I described a few weeks ago. And, once again, I find myself in awe of the possibilities of human connection.
"Island of 14,264 Days is an imaginary island that represents my life. It presents my experiences as an independent landmass seen at once in a far away and a close-up view. It is also a self-portrait, an abstract interpretation of my physical form and persona. I made this piece to spend deliberate time processing and making sense of my experiences, both wonderful and troubling. I felt it necessary to slow down and consider each moment individually and collectively, and embroidery was the perfect way to do this; it is an innately slow and methodical technique. The moments captured in the countless knots comprise the number of days I had lived when I completed the piece, as the island itself established a place of existence and home for me."
This week is the final week for my Etsy sale and then at the end of the day on Sunday, August 30, I will close the shop indefinitely. Every item listed is basically the last one I have and the piece in the picture is the piece you will receive. Your order will ship, most likely, the day after I get it. I added an "Under 50" section where you will find a number of nice things, too... I do hope you will visit the shop in the coming days and feel free to email me if you have any questions.
My Etsy sale is still underway for the weekend and for about ten more days. It's been great so far and, as I've said before, this is kind of it... come the end of the day August 30, the shop will close. I do hope you will visit my shop and check out my limited but lovely selection. Then get a gift for someone special for now, or later, or maybe get yourself a little something. Your purchases will help me clear out my remaining stock and support me in my pursuit of graduate studies here in San Francisco. Here are a few of my current favorites:
Kathleen Edwards Hayslett sent her contribution to me in late April. Inside the mailer was a short, handwritten note and a single pearl earring tucked inside a small fabric pouch with a drawstring closure. I read the note first, as I always do, and then opened the little bag to see its contents. Kathleen wrote she had been given a pair of pearl earrings from her dad when she was in her 30s but had lost one of them... and was now passing it on to me for my piece in memory of both of our fathers. This short but poignant message and the simple pearl earring brought me to tears. This kind of connection, this kind of shared experience, is why I make my work and why I wanted to make the Pearl Piece. My intention for this sculpture was reinforced and magnified with Kathleen's simple and layered addition.
With the end of my 10 year posts yesterday, it's time to talk about something new, namely, my new home in San Francisco. I've been doing a lot of walking--exploring new places, revisiting old favorites, and just wandering around my neighborhood. Here are some observations gathered in my first month:
one of my absolute favorite pictures from my original collections by Hank Drew, the Bamboo Necklace
One final 10-year post, and in this one, I want to say thanks to the people I consider part of my "team." My photographer, Hank Drew, my graphic designer, Brandon Dawley, my editor, Katey Schultz, and my mentor, Lori Talcott. I have worked with these wonderful people for years and I am grateful to them for their expertise, hard work, insight, and patience. Hank started taking pictures for me in 2004 with my production collections and is now taking beautiful images of my larger, more sculptural and installation-based work. I have known Brandon since high school and he's been creating logos, ads, banners, and posters for me for a long time. He also got my new website going. I met Katey at Penland in 1999 and recently she began editing for me from grad school essays to artist statements. Lori was one of my first teachers and continues to guide me today. In fact we had a long talk just a few days ago about grad school and, as always, she questioned, challenged, and supported me. These gifted, generous individuals know my work, they pay attention, they listen, they advise, and they communicate effectively and thoughtfully. There is a balanced, natural give-and-take that occurs between us and we work well together. I feel very fortunate to be able to work with them and consider each of them a friend, too. I hope you will take some time to visit the links included in this post and check out their incredible work.
current installation shot by Hank Drew,
Silently (I Saw a Robin Today)
the logo Brandon designed for my solo show I Live Here Now
Lori in her studio
I am devoted to observing the world that surrounds me and questioning the human condition through the lens of my own life experience. Through a variety of traditional and exploratory multi-media techniques, I create jewelry, objects, and installations that hint at memory, time, loss, and the layered sense of self I believe we all carry. I intuitively select materials and forms to represent the intangible and to create abstract narratives. Using my own memory of people, places, and objects, I seek to communicate the duality of the human experience, convey emotion, and connect with others.
my most current artist statement written with help from Katey
Claire MacDonaldfrom Toronto, Canada sent me a teardrop-shaped pearl in the most beautiful pinky-peach color. It had a delicate gold bail attached, too, evidence that it was once part of something. The letter inside the package detailed how it had been an earring and half of a pair given to her by an aunt a few years ago on her birthday. She described how the earrings had quickly become favorites. She also mentioned how as a jeweler she doesn't wear much jewelry but when she does, she chooses pieces that have "sentimental value, or nostalgic meaning," points I can relate to. These earrings, worn almost daily, were special. She continued that one of the jump rings would come loose and she would temporarily loose one of the pearls from time to time. However, somehow, she would always find it, repair the earring, and wear the set once again. Unfortunately, the last time this happened, just a few weeks before I announced my Pearl Piece, she lost one of the pearls for good. When she read my post about collecting pearls from people everywhere, she "couldn't think of anything better than to send the lone remaining pearl to [me]." Now this single pearl is once again a part of something.
I recently got a few older pieces back from a gallery in London and, instead of shipping them to another gallery, I decided to put them on Etsy. I don't offer many one-of-a-kind pieces there so I like adding a few now and again. Getting these pieces back was perfect timing! You'll find unique Line Drawings and two enameled necklaces, all included in the 25% off sale. The Line Drawings have a sculptural presence and the enameled pieces were based on winter observations made while living in Penland, NC. Each enameled plate depicts a different observation of snow and ice.
The sale is on... please enjoy 25% off all regular items and 10% off sale items in my Etsy Shop. Shipping is free in the U.S. and the sale runs through August 30. At that time, I will close the shop indefinitely. This sale is another way of celebrating my 10 years as a full-time artist, to usher in a new phase in my career, graduate school, and to say thanks to you for all the support over the years.
I began my Etsy shop, AmyTavernJewelry, in 2009 and I have enjoyed being a part of that awesome community. It's a fun and accessible way to connect with other my customers and other artists. I've been debating whether or not to close the shop once grad school begins and, although I haven't come to a definitive conclusion, I have decided to close the shop for now at the end of this month. I might reopen around the holidays, but that remains uncertain. So, to celebrate my 10 years, mark my next chapter, and say thanks to all of you for your constant support, I'm having a sale starting tomorrow. Everything will be 25% off, except sale items which will be an additional 10% off. Everything pictured is in stock and orders will be shipped quickly. I am offering a limited selection at this time, but there are lots of lovely items in the mix and a few nice sale pieces. I will add a few one-of-a-kind necklaces and brooches, too. The sale will run through Sunday, August 30. Then my shop will go into vacation mode, indefinitely.
I'm fortunate to have had many wonderful and varied experiences over the past ten years. My work has taken me around the U.S. and abroad and allowed me to meet incredible people along the way. While looking back, I challenged myself to choose a favorite moment from each year:
2005, going full-time
I moved to Portland, OR in 2005 and after "doing the math," I realized I could take the big leap into full-time studio work. As I said here on the blog back in May, it was an exciting, frightening, and necessary decision, and I have never thought twice about it.
2006, peak of production
In 2006 I was making a ton of production jewelry, selling it in shops around the U.S. and a few places abroad. I had seven collections then and was selling in about 25 places. Production jewelry allowed me to make work every day which remains one of the most important things to me.
2007, assisting Raissa Bump at Penland
I assisted Raissa Bump during a Penland concentration in 2007. We didn't know each other but hit it off quickly and went on to have many excellent conversations. At one point early on, I told her I was feeling restless with my work. Raissa encouraged me to make art jewelry and helped me find a place to begin. She suggested that I simply look at what I was already making and respond to it. So I examined my production work, focused on the circle, and tried a gestural approach to construction and composition. The result was my Line Drawings series and an important change in direction.
2008, words of advice from my mom
I was invited to present at the Professional Development Seminar at the Society of North American Goldsmiths Conference in Savannah, GA in 2008. I spent months preparing my talk and felt excited to have a chance to share my experience and help others in the field. About a week before the conference I became overwhelmed with stressed and I panicked. I called my mom and, as I paced in the hallway of my apartment, she gave me some truly sound advice. She asked me if I was prepared and I said yes. Then she said something like, "Amy, as long as you are prepared, you will be fine." My talk went really well and keeping my mom's words close helped me remain calm. I continue to carry those words with me and remind myself of them often. (This photo is a favorite of mine from a trip we took to Paris.)
2009, Penland residency
I became a resident artist at Penland in January of 2009 and the following three years were huge for me. I had time to question, experiment, and learn, and my work grew and grew. I accomplished everything I wanted to and so much more. I found my aesthetic and began to discover the roots of my ideas. I started working with memory as well, the foundation of everything I have made since. I will always be grateful for that singular experience and Penland will always be one of my homes.
2010, class with Helen Carnac
My second summer as a resident at Penland in 2010 I took an enameling class with Helen Carnac. I loved learning to enamel and spent my time just trying things and making samples. It was wonderful! But, more importantly, I began to identify key parts of my process. Helen introduced me to the power of walking and observing and I also started to recognize collecting and arranging in a serious way. (The picture above was taken while on a walk with Helen.)
2011, Metalsmith Magazine and Velvet da Vinci solo show
2011 was a big year for me. My work was selected for Metalsmith's Exhibition in Print and was featured on the cover of the magazine and I had my first solo show at Velvet da Vinci. These two things were dreams come true.
2012, traveling alone to Belgium
After my Penland residency ended in 2012, I wanted to go out and be a stranger in a strange land and I got the opportunity to have a solo show in Antwerp, Belgium. This marked my first solo traveling experience, too, and every bit of it was amazing. Traveling made me feel like my best self. I had to use every bit of me to find my way around and experience everything. I saw so many beautiful things and made good friends in my gallerist and her family. It was an honor to be able to travel to foreign country and make my work. I also realized how special it is to see things for the first time and discovered just how much I love seeing new things alone.
The two months I spent in Iceland is my most special time in the last ten years and I still have trouble finding the right words to describe exactly why. The phrase I often repeat is "this place gives me room," and it really does. It changed me and my work and I imagine the things I learned there in May and June will continue to affect me for years to come.
2014, making I Live Here Now
The work I made for my most recent solo show at Four in Gothenburg, Sweden is my most personal work, and I believe my strongest work so far. This is the body of work in which I began to deliberately consider and present my concepts in other forms including 2D works, small installations and sculptures, and arrangements. I also very carefully chose metal and non-metal materials, thoughtfully using the material that best suited the idea. In making this work, I also realized I had the the power to find answers to my questions by making things and I knew when I began that I would most likely find what I was looking for when I was done. Those 13 pieces and their multiple parts defined what home means to me.
2015, teaching process for three days at Pratt
As I wrote yesterday, process is very important to me. I have taught lots of short process workshops but finally got to teach for three full days at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle, WA. I loved being able to present a variety of exercises to my students and have time to really get into things with them. I watched my students work really hard and at the end of the class each person had made some important discoveries.