Monday, September 29, 2014

Building Process

Thursday and Friday of last week I taught process workshops at Grand Valley State University. The classes began with a discussion about process as I described my own and how I came to define it. Then I had students do a writing and thinking exercise in which they listed 50 things that inspire them. This assignment, adapted from one by ceramic artist, Ayumi Horie, helps students see where their ideas come from in both a macro and micro view. Next I lead them through an hour-long thinking and making exercise in which they made a piece of jewelry using limited materials and tools. This activity is like sketching with pencil and paper only in 3D with different kinds of materials. It is an individual exercise and I always tell my students to just let go as they work.

After both classes I did back-to-back 30-minute studio visits with jewelry and visual arts students. Critiques like these are always challenging for me because I have to get to know the person and his or her work quickly so I can help. I usually begin by asking the student to describe her work and then try to question and encourage without derision.  Everyone in both my workshops and the individual sessions was open and eager and I had so much fun with them! I also loved being around Beverly Seley and Renee Zettle-Sterling, the metals faculty. They took such good care of me!

In addition, on Thursday night I gave a public lecture and I'm pleased with how it went, despite some technical difficulties. I had a few blank slides appear even though I had done a test run earlier. I kept going, though, channeling performance skills I had learned when I used to sing years ago: I did my thing and everything was fine.

Other highlights of the trip included a visit to ArtPrize where I got to see some incredible works like "Intersections" by Anila Quayyum Agha. Seeing this piece in person felt like a once-in-a-life time kind of moment. I also got to spend a few hours sitting next to Lake Michigan, which reminded me so much of being by the sea in Iceland.

Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How Lectures Help

I gave my first resident artist talk at the Penland School of Crafts to an audience of maybe 70 students and instructors in May, 2009. I was incredibly nervous and the talk was only five minutes! My voice was different when I began, it was higher or something. My heart raced and I found myself out of breath even though I was just sitting there. I read from a script, too. When it was over I was relieved and also disappointed. I didn't feel strongly about what I said and it felt like I had missed a chance, albeit brief, to share my work with others. Plus, the talk fell short for the simple, yet complicated reason that I didn't sound like "me." At that moment, I promised myself I would work on this and I would become a better speaker. Over the next three years, I had lots of opportunities to talk about my work to different audiences and for different lengths of time. I made lots of work, too, and honed my aesthetic, my concepts and my understanding of what I was doing… and over time, I became a better speaker. I talked to my audience like I was having a warm, engaging conversation and my personality came through. I stopped using a script or even notes, I learned to manage my nerves, and I became more relaxed. All that practice had helped immensely, not only for the quality of the talk, but also because I was learning to articulate my thoughts simply and clearly. It was exciting for me!

Last night I spent a few hours working on my next talk which I will give tomorrow. I began by revisiting my last PowerPoint presentation: I moved slides around, I changed images, I edited. I saw things in a new way, too, and made changes that will make the talk richer and more succinct, as well as visually stronger. These lectures are one way for me to share my work and, every time I present it like this, I get to know it a little bit better and I get a little bit better at talking about it, at connecting... and this is even more exciting to me.

If you live in the Allendale/Grand Rapids area, please come say hello at my lecture on Thursday, September 25 at 7pm at the GVSU Mary Idema Pew Library 030, Atrium Level. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Installation Beginnings


I'm preparing to create an installation in a working elevator at Velvet da Vinci in San Francisco. I've been researching installations inside elevators and thinking about how I can best use this symbolically-loaded space. I've also been looking at my own work and revisiting ideas from the past, studying the why and how behind each piece and looking for the things I would like to expand upon. My first installation happened at Velvet in 2011 as part of my solo show, "This is How I Remember It." Later I created "Ache" and, most recently, I showed "Silently (I Saw a Robin Today)."  I've been reading and writing a lot and but have nothing concrete yet, but this is just the beginning...

Collected Memories at my solo exhibition at Velvet Da Vinci

Silently (I Saw A Robin Today)

Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 22, 2014

To the Great Lakes

On Wednesday I fly to Allendale, MI to teach for two days at Grand Valley State University. I've not been to Allendale before and I'm looking forward to visiting a new place and to being close to one of the magnificent Great Lakes. I will teach two process classes on Thursday and Friday, critique student work in one-on-one sessions and give a public lecture. My schedule is packed for those two days but I hope to fit in a walk or two. Then on Saturday I will attend ArtPrize, an annual international arts competition in nearby Grand Rapids. Fresh off my last Visiting Artist experience at RISD, I am super-excited to meet and work with students at GVSU and explore a new place.

If you live in the Allendale/Grand Rapids area, please come say hello at my lecture on Thursday, September 25 at 7pm at the GVSU Mary Idema Pew Library 030, Atrium Level. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 19, 2014

RISD Visit

I took a little drive to Providence, RI on Wednesday to spend the day with a senior jewelry BFA professional practices class. I gave a lecture about my career and my work and then answered questions about my process, business practices, residencies and more. We had several hours to talk and it was fantastic to connect with them. The class is lead by Jennaca Davies and she was a wonderful host as she toured me around RISD's impressive facilitates. She also made a point to take me to the Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab, an all-in-one cabinet of curiosities and library. I could have spent hours there just pouring over every single specimen from moss to jaw bones. Finally, I made a stop in Lenox, MA to visit Sienna Gallery. This was my first time there and it did not disappoint. I loved seeing the work of Daniel Kruger, whose solo exhibition "Angle of Incidence" is currently on view.

the work of Daniel Kruger at Sienna Gallery

forming room at RISD

skeletons at the Nature Lab

moss and lichen at the Nature Lab

seed pods at the Nature Lab

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Final Day

Today is the last day of my Etsy sale… please continue to enjoy 25% off all collection jewelry all day. It's been a great sale and I'm grateful to everyone who bought pieces over the last ten days. Thanks also for liking my shop and favoriting different items. Your support means a lot to me!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Memory in Color

I really love my new Iceland Palette because it reminds me of my favorite place, obviously. I could get lost in thought looking at that Glacier blue and Moss green… I might make some one-of-a-kind pieces using my new colors this fall, but in the meantime, I'm happy to create fresh collection pieces and try older designs. For this Wednesday, here are several new pieces: a faceted round shape with a little dimension, a horizontally-oriented pin and a very happy, yellow two-part pendant. Wear any of these with you favorite t-shirt or that dress you adore, the minimal and antique-inspired aesthetic suits most anything. 

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Balance has been on my mind a lot lately, as I'm sure you can imagine given the ideas behind some of my other new Etsy pieces. Today's necklace includes two ever-so-slightly-different teardrops spaced a little bit apart and suspended from a delicate chain at the same length on either side. It's a balanced design with a mix of symmetry and asymmetry, and in my favorite color from my new Iceland Palette: Glacier... I also added Teardrop earrings in Glacier to match. 

The sale continues through this Thursday, September 18.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Little Tower

Something low-key to ease into the week: super-simple Line Drawings rings. Sold separately but very-stackable… the sale is on for four more days!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 12, 2014


A few matching pendants to complement my latest Line Drawings earrings, which I introduced on Monday... These Ovals and Arced Ovals are delicate and modern, simple and sculptural. Each piece includes multiple elements which can be slipped on and off the chain easily and worn together or separately. Please stop by the shop, AmyTavernJewelry, to view these pieces and all my other new items. All collection jewelry is on sale until September 18! 

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

In Between Worlds

Last year, before I moved to my parents' house from Asheville, I told some friends that I felt like I was "in between worlds" and this sentiment remains intact today. I find myself "in between" in my work and where I want to live; I'm split between jewelry and installation/sculpture, I'm split between the US and Iceland, and I'm split between family obligations and the studio. This divided feeling lingers at the surface and informs my work whether I'm conscious of it or not.

When I was designing new work for my History Repeats Collection, I started by playing around with existing forms and as I moved pieces in front of me, I remembered something my friend, Jen Townsend, said. It was something like "if you're stuck on a piece, cut it apart." And, that's exactly what I did. I divided my Sentiment teardrop shape in half with my saw frame and began working with the parts. I went on to design three incredibly simple pieces I'm calling "Split Sentiment," which seems wonderfully appropriate right now.

We are often split or divided in our lives in lots of different ways and these moments test us. They can also bring out the best in us. My Split Sentiment Earrings and Pendant are for these moments, both beautiful and challenging.

Please visit my Etsy shop, AmyTavernJewelry, to view these pieces and more new work. Everything is 25% off from now until September 18!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Iceland in Spray Paint

Iceland inspires me daily and I have channeled my memories of color in the landscape into a new Regal Graffiti palette. Now, in addition to my Bright and Subdued palettes, I am excited to share my Iceland Palette, based on observations of orangey-yellow, lichen-covered rocks, chartreuse fields of moss, snowy-white vistas, sprawling, black sand beaches, etherial blue glaciers and vast gray skies. Here are the pictures I used when finding the perfect Krylon cans:







I just added new Small Earrings and Badges to Etsy and you can also get any piece in my Regal Graffiti Collection in these colors, too.

Thanks for reading.