Back in the Creative Groove

The original intent of this blog was to share my jewelry, my creative process, and the ways in which my life influences my jewelry and vice versa. My plan at the beginning of 2013 was to step my life-long jewelry hobby up to a business, but I got married that year instead.

I thought I’d try again to launch the jewelry business in 2014, but instead I became a full-time mom when my stepdaughter came to live with her father and me. The first half of 2015 was an absolute whirlwind with job changes and lawyers and school and cello lessons and moving to a new city, but things are starting to settle down now, and I’m finally finding the time to get back to my personal goals.

Having been out of the daily habit of making jewelry for a very long time, I decided to get back into the groove by honing my metalworking skills and experimenting with some new wire-wrapping techniques. The following images are the results of some of my first focused attempts at wire work in… well… a very long time.

Nicole Hanna of Nicole Hanna Jewelry has long been an inspiration for me. Where she finds the time and energy to do all that she does is beyond me, but besides making gorgeous jewelry and writing fabulous tutorials for aspiring wire wrappers, she also runs a great page on Facebook that’s become a sort of gathering place where artists help artists by sharing tips, techniques, and tutorials. The page is relatively new, but I’m amazed by how quickly its membership has exploded, and that’s largely because Nicole has a huge following in the wire wrapped jewelry world. Seriously, if you’ve never heard of her, it must be because you’re not a wire worker. Or a hand crafted jewelry lover.

Anyway, long story short, Nicole has this way of getting people to step out of their comfort zone and create stuff they might not ordinarily attempt. This month she issued a challenge for group members to create something with a leaf theme using only wire, a single bead, and no tools besides wire cutters and a single pair of jewelry pliers.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s not. Particularly if you’ve taken a couple of years away from wire work in order to focus one some huge life changes. Add to that the fact that I love tools. I generally work with a minimum of three different sets of pliers, so committing to using a single pair for this challenge was almost physically painful for me. This piece fought me every inch of the way. I scrapped my first attempt and restarted the design. I broke several wires. Nothing flowed properly or ended up looking quite the way I saw it in my mind, but I finally ended up with a piece I liked enough to submit for the contest. And then I broke the bead while I was doing the final polish. Ugh! Another repair (and more wire added to my scrap bin), another round of the whole clean/patina/clean/polish routine (my least favorite part of the whole process); and this is the result of all that wire and frustration (not to mention some pretty colorful language):

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Dew-laden Aspen Leaf – design inspired by Nicole Hanna of Nicole Hanna Jewelry.

It’s my interpretation of a dew-laden Aspen leaf in the fall. The colors are peaking here in Colorado this week, so it’s a timely tribute to my favorite season. The design is also a nod to Nicole Hanna’s style, which I adore even though I’ve never quite been able to do her designs justice.

As a jewelry artist, I don’t wear a lot of jewelry that I didn’t make myself, but I make an exception for Nicole’s work. I own three Nicole Hanna originals, and I gush about her work like a proud parent whenever someone compliments me on one of those pieces.

The second big challenge I took on this week was a pair of earrings designed by another jewelry rock star whose work I shamelessly worship. I mentioned Sarah Thompson in  a previous post after I’d taken her online course through Craftsy.com. I first discovered Sarah’s work a couple of years ago while I was looking for wire wrapped inspiration on Etsy. It was there that I first saw her Scorpio earrings, and I fell in love with her work the moment I laid eyes on them. As luck would have it, Sarah included that particular earring design in her new book, Fine Art Wire Weaving.

Here’s my first attempt at that design:

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Scorpio Earrings – Design by Sara Thompson

Fricken fabulous, aren’t they? I can’t begin to explain how inspiring her work is, so go check it our yourself at Sarah-n-Dippity! And tell her I said hello. Cuz that’s not creepy at all.

Now that I’m finally back to focusing on jewelry, this blog might start to have fewer words and more pictures. Probably not a bad thing, given my tendency to ramble.

Oh, one more thing… Welcome to all the new followers I’ve picked up over the past few weeks. Thank you for taking the time to read and share my blog.

Now, go make something beautiful!

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Rubbing Elbows with Jewelry Rockstars

WP_20150731_016It’s impossible to create in a bubble. For me, anyway. I find that my work is continually influenced and challenged by that of other artists I admire. One of my biggest wire-wrapped jewelry idols is Sarah Thompson of Sarah-n-Dippity. Her work is modern, yet romantic with just the right amount of edginess.

Sarah has been getting quite a bit of press in the jewelry world lately because her first book, Fine Art Wire Weaving, is scheduled for release in September. I’ve been inspired by her work for a couple of years now, so I’ve been dabbling a bit with jewelry in her style through online classes and excerpts from her book that have been featured recently in magazines such as Belle Armoire Jewelry and Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry.

These four bracelets are some of the results of my exploration of Sarah’s style. I’m looking forward to seeing how her style and the techniques I’ve picked up from her influence my jewelry. The two love knot bracelets are m y own designs, using the techniques and concepts I learned through creating the other two bracelets, which are Sarah’s designs. I’m toying with a few more knotted designs in my head right now as I type.

WP_20150731_004I shared these photos in the projects area of Sarah’s wire wrapping course on Craftsy today, and I was thrilled to get a response from her. It turns out she’s working on a similar knotted bracelet design for a future Step-by-Step edition, and she liked my spin on that idea. She said it was “super cool”, and I’ve been grinning like a fool ever since.

Some people get excited about a close encounter with rock stars. I get excited about a complement from one of my jewelry idols. Today is a good day.

Does Happiness Kill Creativity?

I used to crank out jewelry like a machine. I’d come home from a stressful day at work, and I’d sit down and lose myself in the process of cutting, shaping, hammering, and wrapping wire into pleasing forms. It wasn’t uncommon for me to make a half dozen pairs of earrings in a single sitting, and designs seemed to flow effortlessly from an image in my mind to the wire in my hand. That process seemed so automatic at times that I wouldn’t fully realize all I’d accomplished until I lined everything up on my workbench to determine how many batches I’d need to tumble polish overnight.

And then I got married. My life is so very different now. I no longer have a stressful job. I no longer work in an office full of snarky coworkers continually looking for ways to get under each other’s skin. I’m no longer responsible for keeping hundreds of thousands of dollars steadily flowing into the company’s coffers each month. I’m no longer fighting an up-hill battle against a CEO who can look me in the eye and (with a straight face, mind you) say, “I’m not a manager. I’m a nurse.”

Work was just part of the pre-marriage stress in my life, though. Some of the other stressors I left behind when I got married are my alcoholic father; a small, backwards town that is essentially owned and operated by some of the most corrupt people I’ve ever had the misfortune to know; and struggling to make ends meet on a diminished salary because I was underemployed when my husband and I started dating. Making jewelry back then was a welcome escape from an unpleasant and seemingly hopeless reality.

Today I am living a very different reality—one from which I have neither the need nor the desire to escape. I can’t recall another time in my life when I felt so content and carefree. I have an amazing husband who is my partner in every aspect of the word. I have a bright and beautiful daughter who fills our home with music and laughter. For the first time in my adult life, I have the luxury of not needing to work for a living. That’s big. Prior to marrying my husband in 2013, I’d worked full-time and lived solely on my personal income for nearly twenty-five years.

Sometimes I worry that I’m going to turn into a bored housewife, but I’m never bored. I’m never lacking for something to do, so boredom is perhaps the least of my concerns. What does concern me, though, is that I seem to have lost both my ability and my desire to create jewelry. I still have plenty of ideas in mind, but translating those ideas to wire no longer flows effortlessly. Rather than making finished jewelry ready to be antiqued and polished, I find myself making large piles of scrap wire and walking away feeling annoyed and frustrated. I’ve even tried new media recently with the hope that learning new techniques and working with new materials might reignite my creative spark. It hasn’t worked. Yet.

When I agreed to quit my job and move to Denver so my husband could advance his career, I imagined myself turning my jewelry hobby into a home business. I was excited about the prospect of working from home and finally having the time and energy to focus completely on something I love. And now that I have an abundance of time and energy to focus on making jewelry, I no longer have the urge to create.

There’s a reason the image of the tortured artist is so pervasive. Art, I suspect, is something akin to gemstones in that a certain degree of pressure is necessary for its creation. So I find myself wondering, is it possible to create art without stress?

Does happiness kill creativity?

Taking the Plunge

Earrings 037I’ve been talking about this since 2010 when I found myself suddenly, if not unexpectedly, free of the soul sucking Twin Vortices of Evil. Back then, making jewelry was my particular brand of therapy. Hammering wire was a safe and welcome release for the pent up frustration that comes from working within a spiritually draining organization while weaving chain and wrapping wire gave me the sense of achievement that my day job failed to provide.

Since then, my path from hobbyist to professional jeweler has proceeded in a two steps forward; three steps back fashion of fits and starts. I realized recently, after reading a wonderful post from Charrette Metal Crafts, that the one thing that has been keeping me from taking the plunge into entrepreneurship is fear—not the fear of failure, which would actually make sense, but a completely irrational fear of success. As 2015 approaches, however, I’m finding my stride. I’m finally ready to move beyond the fear and take the plunge into self-employment.

Door 44 Designs is beginning to take shape, and my jewelry will soon be available for sale online. In the meantime, I’ve renamed my blog to more accurately reflect what I’ve always intended it to be: a behind-the-scenes glimpse into my creative process along with my thoughts about life, art, and the myriad connections I find between the two.

I’m excited to unveil my re-branded blog, BeyondDoor44.com, and I look forward to connecting with you there. Thank you so much for reading, following, liking, and sharing my posts. I’ve met some wonderful people here—some truly amazing artists—and I learn something new every day from your insightful posts and comments. So, thank you, too, for sharing your own unique perspectives.

Life is short. Don’t let the fear of success stop you from doing what you love.

Happy Medium

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My first attempt at making a braided cord necklace (waxed nylon jewelry cord with Czech glass and metal beads) . The leather monogram pendant was made by my good friend, Laura Hansen.

Every artist has a preferred medium—the go-to material that provides the foundation of their work. My favorite material is metal, and I’m not very particular about the type or alloy. I’ve worked with lead, copper, silver, bronze, gold, aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, iron and brass. Each one has unique characteristics and even a personality of its own, but something all metals have in common is that they are predictable.

Being a bit (okay, maybe a lot) of a control freak, I like the precision I can achieve with metal. I’ve dabbled with other media—wood, for instance—but I inevitably migrate back to metal when I can’t achieve the level of precision and the clean lines that sooth my inner perfectionist.

Early in 2013 when I started dating my husband, I was happily making chain mail and wire-wrapped jewelry, and I was starting to explore increasingly more intricate styles of wire wrapping. I discovered amazing artists like Nicole Hanna, Ivona Posavi Pšak, Sarah Thompson, Kornelia Kubinowska, and Iza Malczyk. I dove into learning new techniques through Nicole’s and Kornelia’s tutorials, and I was immediately hooked.

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This is my first attempt at the macrame bracelet technique taught by Sandra Younger, creator of the Knotty Do-It-All. See theknottydoitall.com for more info.

I spent every spare minute working with wire, and then life got in the way. I started spending more of my spare time with my husband and less learning new wire-wrapping techniques. Pretty soon, I stopped making jewelry altogether because it wasn’t long after we started dating that we decided to get married. The next several months were a whirlwind of packing, moving, getting married, unpacking, merging two households, purging excess belongings, and adjusting to being a full-time stepmom.

Now that life is finally settling down into what has become my new normal, I’ve tried to pick up where I left off on wire-wrapping, and I’ve been horrified to discover that I apparently lost my edge. The precision that once came so easily seems unattainable now. I’ve started countless projects only to toss them into my scrap bin in disgust when it became painfully clear that the finished piece wouldn’t meet my expectations.

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This is a simple copper wire monogram I created out of scrap wire so I could experiment more with this macrame technique. I kinda like the way it turned out!

At some point amid all that frustration it finally occurred to me to try redirecting my creative energy down a new path. I wrote about that insight here, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see forward progress with something as simple as a change in medium.

Unlike metal, cord is not a material with which I can achieve perfection. In fact it’s infuriatingly prone to imperfection in certain ways, but that imperfection has proved to be surprisingly liberating for this (formerly?) Type-A personality.

The past two years have softened me in ways I never would have imagined possible. I’m more flexible and less attached to perfection. I’m more open to allowing a piece to evolve organically and less determined to adhere to my original vision of the finished piece. I’m less attached to outcomes and more curious about the creative process.

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Another quick and dirty wire focal piece that I made so I could master this cord technique. I’m a Leo, and I’ve always wanted to create an astrology collection. This concept has potential, I think.

This is uncharted territory for me. Historically, I’ve been a pretty driven and results-oriented individual, and those qualities are clearly reflected in my work. As I’ve explored various cord and macramé techniques, however, I’ve been surprised to discover that imperfection can be beautiful, too. I’ve included a few photos of my most recent experiments with cord techniques. Cord is still new to me, so these pieces aren’t quite as refined as I’d like them to be. I’m very pleased with my early attempts, though. Perhaps I’ve finally found a happy medium.

Life is short. Don’t waste time and energy pursuing perfection if it keeps you from loving what you do.

Thank You

I’ve picked up several followers recently, and I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and share my posts. I truly appreciate your following, and I look forward to getting to know you better.

As I mentioned in my initial post, this blog was originally intended to be a place where I share my thoughts about life, love and art with my own handcrafted jewelry providing a foundation for those discussions. I haven’t had an opportunity to make much jewelry lately, but here are a few photos of some of my favorite pieces.

Blue Moon Rising – Blue Lapis in copper wire-wrapped frames with handwoven copper chain

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Colorado Sunset – Carnelian, amethyst, and turquoise in copper wire-wrapped frames with handwoven copper chain

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One of my favorite everyday pieces (unnamed) – wire-wrapped arrowhead in copper horseshoe frame with handwoven copper spiral chain

These pieces are indicative of my work. I grew up in the southwest, and I think that influence shows clearly in the style of jewelry that I make and wear. I’m working hard to carve some studio space out of our small 2-bedroom apartment so I can get back to making jewelry full time, and I look forward to having some new ideas to share soon.

Thanks again for stopping by!

It’s All Connected

DSCN0425For as long as I can remember, I’ve been more fascinated by the connections between things—people, places, events, thoughts, emotions, etc.—than by the things themselves. For me, it’s always been about the journey between points A and B. As a result of my fascination (okay, to be honest it’s more of an obsession) with connecting paths, I immediately start looking for the next path—the next connection—as soon as I’ve arrived at some destination or another.

It’s not surprising then that connections are at the heart of virtually all of my creative interests. Chain mail, wire-wrapping, stained glass, needlepoint: these are all art forms that are based on connections. When I weave chain, I strive to close each individual ring perfectly so the connections appear seamless. When wire wrapping, I strive for tight, even wraps that look as beautiful as they are strong. The key to a structurally sound and visually striking stained glass panel is all in the solder joints; and needlework is essentially painting a picture with colored thread, one stitch at a time. Even my interest in dressage, which requires a finely tuned physical, mental, and emotional connection between horse and rider, is more about the connection between horse and rider for me than winning ribbons. Professionally as a project manager, I rely heavily on connections and dependencies to create order out of chaos and to keep forward momentum going even while connections are missed or broken.

Some people call it wanderlust. Many have accused me of being flaky. When I was younger, I used to think of it as a thirst for adventure and knowledge. Today I realized that all I’ve ever sought was to make sense of a seemingly chaotic world, and the best way I’ve found to do that is through understanding the ties that bind one thing to another. One heart to another. One event to an emotion. One planet to a solar system. It’s always the connection between two points that make any point relevant, and the answers that we seek are almost always found in the space between the mile markers of our lives.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m in the process of purging several boxes of old paperwork that date back to the years I lived in Alaska. It was in the eleven years I lived in that wild and beautiful state that I grew up. Sure, I was raised in a small town in southeastern Colorado, but I left that town with a childish and immature head filled with theoretical answers to questions I didn’t fully understand—questions that couldn’t be answered through any means but practical life experience. It was during those critical years in my 20s and 30s that I was free to truly explore who I am and how I fit into this strange world in which I live—a world I never truly felt connected to until I stripped away everything I thought I knew and threw myself into a completely foreign and unknown environment.

I moved to Alaska on a whim when I was just 24 years old. Today, some twenty years later, I realize that my journey to Alaska was inevitable; but at the time it seemed crazy and impulsive and wildly irresponsible. I quit a steady job, listed my house (which I’d just recently purchased) for sale, and moved 3,000 miles northwest to Seward, Alaska where I planned to marry a man I barely knew. We met while I was on vacation that spring, and after a whirlwind romance and two months of long distance phone calls, I found myself driving the Al-Can Highway, bound for Alaska where I didn’t know a soul except for the man I’d agreed to marry. Before we made it half way through Canada, I realized I didn’t even know him.

That romance didn’t work out, but it was the catalyst for an eleven-year love affair with nature and the most intense period of personal growth I’ve experienced until recently. If I could give one piece of advice to young people today, I would recommend that they do exactly what I did—take a wild leap into a strange environment where nothing and no one is familiar, and learn how to interact with that strange new environment.

As I’ve unpacked those boxes of old paperwork, I’ve rediscovered pieces of my past that I haven’t thought about in a long time. I’ve found old journals, letters, and emails that have reminded me of some of the amazing connective discoveries I made during those years. I’ve gotten back in touch with the adventurous young woman I once was. I’ve marveled at the tremendous strength and fortitude it took for me to get back on my feet after a devastating loss, and I’ve been both surprised and amused by the turbulence of my emotions through those years.

One significant advantage of being single through that period of my life is that I was free to indulge in some incredibly intense self-examination, and I think I came out of those years with a far better understanding of myself than most people achieve by their mid-30s because of that freedom. What’s most fascinating to me about those years, though, is how simply and elegantly I traced connections between certain formative people and experiences from my childhood and the new people and experiences I had in Alaska. Reading through those old journals and letters reminded me of one of my favorite Confucius quotes:

And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

We rarely recognize without the benefit of hindsight that the places we go and the people we meet are all part of a much bigger picture. We tend to believe—especially in those critical formative years of our 20s and 30s—that we’re alone in a chaotic world and that we’re subject to seemingly random events that shake us to the core. As someone obsessed with connections, however, I can assure you that there is far more order than chaos in this world and that very little that happens to you is truly random. It’s important  to be goal oriented, but don’t forget to pay attention to the space between your goals, for there along the paths that connect one goal to the next is where you will truly discover who you are and what you’re made of.

Life is short. Do what you love. Celebrate your achievements, but don’t forget to simply enjoy the journey.

Some Much Needed Time to Reconnect

My husband and I had a few precious hours of quality time together today. We dropped our daughter off at her mom’s house for a visit this morning and drove to Estes Park. I haven’t been there in years, so it was fun for me to see how much the town has changed.

Matt, a photography buff, had never been there before, so it was all new to him. I love looking at the world through my husband’s photos. It helps me see things from his perspective, which isn’t very different from my own, but I have noticed that Matt is more a “big picture” kind of guy while I’m more inclined to focus on details.

Here are a few highlights from today’s trip into the mountains (all photos by Matt Reamy):

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The famous Stanley Hotel. I love this old building, which is well known for its appearance in the movie The Shining.

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Once we left Estes Park, we took a short detour through Masonville, which is a place I remember fondly from my years in Fort Collins. I used to drive through this gorgeous valley frequently when I lived in that area. It’s still as quirky and beautiful as I remember. We found this gorgeous view,

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and this quirky vintage styled sign.

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I didn’t realize how badly Matt and I needed some time alone to rest, recharge, and reconnect until we hit the road together today. I arrived home feeling happier and more secure in my relationship with my amazing husband. I also picked up a few stone cabochons at The Ore Cart Rock Shop in Estes Park. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can create with those this week.

Life is short. Do what you love, but don’t forget to take some time away from your craft to reconnect with those you love.

Breaking Through Resistance

I grew up with horses and dogs, and the best technique I’ve found for breaking through resistance from either species is redirection. Pulling back on the reins is unlikely to stop a bolting horse; but redirect all of that forward momentum into a tight circle, and you’ll stop your mount safely. Likewise, punishing a bored and frustrated dog by confining him to a kennel after he shreds your favorite shoes will only amplify the boredom and frustration that drove him to gnaw on shoes in the first place. A better, more productive approach is to redirect all that pent up energy into some sort of physical activity. Teach your dog to catch a Frisbee, run an obstacle course, or track a scent; and he’ll be too physically and mentally exhausted to destroy your things while home alone.

I’ve experienced resistance of my own in the form of a massive and seemingly unmovable creative block this past year. My life changed dramatically and irrevocably last October when I got married. Merging two separate households and lives was surprisingly easy for my husband and me, but the one thing I’ve struggled to integrate into my married life is my jewelry craft. I’ve made countless starts on jewelry projects over this past year, and most of them ended up in my scrap bin. I’ve finished a few pairs of earrings, but none to my satisfaction. And then I had an epiphany while thumbing through the summer 2014 edition of Jewelry Affaire. It was there that I first discovered Sandra Younger’s cord jewelry, and the brilliant jig she created, the Knotty Do-It-All. As soon as I saw her work, I realized that I just needed to redirect my creative energy with some new media and techniques.

I’ve dabbled with cord and macrame techniques in the past, but it’s been years since I’ve worked with jewelry cords. It turns out that the range of jewelry cord on the market today has come a long way in those years. It has a much more pleasing aesthetic that is a far cry from the cheesy macrame styles of the 70s and 80s. Sandra Younger’s cord jewelry is just similar enough to my own rustic wire-wrapped jewelry style to be a complimentary addition to my design toolbox, and the thrill of learning some new techniques along with the excitement of using a new tool has reignited my creative urge.

My husband got me a Knotty Do-It-All for my birthday in August (am I the only one who reads that as Naughty Do-It-All in my head?), and I’ve been having a blast learning to use the tool to its full potential. I still have much to learn, but I’m enjoying the heck out of the learning process.

My best friend, Jenn, gave me some stone beads and a sterling silver medallion that has a great deal of sentimental value last year and asked me to make her a multi-strand necklace with them. After experimenting with my Knotty Do-It-All for a bit, this is what I came up with:

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It’s not perfect, and please excuse the poor photo quality–I snapped these quickly with my cell phone before gift wrapping the necklace. A trained eye will notice a couple of mistakes, and there are several things I’ll do differently as I begin to integrate cord with my usual chain mail and wire wrapping techniques. But I think this necklace, which Jenn loves, is a pretty good starting point for some fabulous new jewelry designs that are now simmering in my brain.

Thank you, Sandra Younger, for helping me redirect and refocus my creative energy with your fabulous tool and gorgeous jewelry!

What’s Behind Door 44?

The number 44 has become something of a special totem for me. For the past several years, I’ve noticed that this number crops up frequently in my life. I see it on clocks, purchase receipts, license plates–it’s pretty much everywhere I look. And when something repeats that persistently in my life, I pay attention.

I turned 44 last August. I’ve known for a while now that this would prove to be a significant year, so I was definitely looking forward to it. Yet, even while anticipating a monumental year, I’ve been surprised by some of the amazing things that have happened in the past nine months. By the end of October 2013, I’d quit my job, sold my house, and moved to Denver (a city I’d resisted for many years). My husband, Matt, and I got married on October 29, 2013 in what must seem like an incredibly impulsive act to the friends and family who have known me to be generally cautious and methodical when it comes to major life decisions.

I finally completed the college degree program I started years ago–a BSIT with an accounting specialization–in March. My degree was conferred on May 4th, but after nearly twenty years of working in the corporate world, I don’t have a burning desire to re-immerse myself in that world. The older I get, the clearer it becomes that I’m not cut out to be a corporate drone; and for the first time in my adult life, I am completely free to choose what to do with my time and energy. My husband has very generously given me the freedom to return to work or launch the jewelry business I’ve dreamed of starting for years or to volunteer my time to whatever cause captures my attention. My challenge is to figure out which, if any, of those paths to choose.

More than a year ago I was so certain that I would be making jewelry that I commissioned this logo from my friend and graphic artist, Cindy Shew:Door44-finished

So much has changed since I settled on this logo for my jewelry business, not the least of which is my name. I hardly remember who Wendi Givigliano was anymore, so it seems strange to see that name on my logo. That version of myself has faded to sort of an abstract image of a woman bound by circumstances to a lonely existence and a life path that was continually directed toward the needs of the people and organizations that consumed my time and attention. I didn’t have a lot of spare time or energy to pursue my own interests, so I selfishly guarded my down time so I could make jewelry. It was through that solitary creative process, which I immersed myself in nightly, that I was able to restore my energy reserves so I could face another day at work.

It dawned on me recently that the act of making jewelry back then was my life line, in a sense. It’s what kept me balanced and sane after dealing with the insanity of emotionally imbalanced coworkers jockeying for position in a dysfunctional corporate organization day after day. The simple act of creating jewelry gave me a concrete sense of accomplishment, and the creative process became my chosen means of meditation and stress release.

That was then. Wendi Givigliano, as I remember that version of myself, was operating in survival mode. I dreamed of the day that I might evolve from surviving to thriving, but I had no concrete ideas about how to get there. In a desperate attempt to redirect my course toward a more fulfilling existence, I chose making jewelry as one potential means to that end. The logo above was the ultimate expression of that desire. I imagined that starting a jewelry business would open the door to fulfillment for me. Little did I know that the door would open on its own accord, and that it would turn my whole world view upside down in the process.

Ironically, I was working with Cindy on the design of my logo at the exact same time that my husband came back into my life after a two-year hiatus. I first met Matt in the spring of 2009. We were coworkers at the time. I was a project manager at a small manufacturing company in Trinidad, Colorado back then. Matt, a software developer, was hired to work on a specific project for that company. Our paths didn’t cross frequently at the office, and we never worked directly with one another, so I never got an opportunity to really get to know him. Still, I felt a strong connection to him. So when he left after working there for less than a year, I wondered if I’d somehow missed an important opportunity.

I got a chance to explore that opportunity a second time in 2010 when Matt and I connected via Facebook. Once we finally started talking, we discovered that we have an awful lot in common. Facebook messaging lead to text messaging and email correspondence, which in turn lead to phone conversations that would last for hours. That’s the only time either of us ever exceeded the minutes on our respective cell phone plans. As luck would have it, though, we still didn’t manage to get together back then.

Our lives spun off in different directions that summer, and we lost all contact until January, 2013 when the simple gesture of a LinkedIn endorsement from Matt brought the wheel of fortune back around for us a third time. We immediately picked up right where we left off two years prior, and while I finalized the logo for my jewelry business, the act of making jewelry was pushed to the back burner while Matt and I dated.

We lived 120 miles apart at that time, so we split our weekends between his home and mine. On weeknights, I was talking with him on the phone instead of making jewelry. And now I am Wendi Reamy. This new version of myself is clearly a wife and stepmother. Whether or not I am still a jewelry artisan remains to be seen. My priorities have changed. My focus has changed dramatically. I still feel the drive to create, but that drive seems to be flow more naturally into domestic activities like cooking than artistic expression.

I am far more inclined to scour the internet for interesting recipes today than I am to pick up my wire and tools. I miss making jewelry, and I hope to get back to it at some point. For now, though, my sense is that I should probably just go with the flow. The wheel of fortune brought Matt around to me three times, and it was on that third rotation that we were finally able to make what was clearly an inevitable connection. Making jewelry has been a significant part of my life at two very specific points now. Perhaps, as with my husband, the jewelry craft will finally stick if it comes back around on the wheel a third time.

Until then, this blog, which was originally intended to be focused on my jewelry business, will more likely be a place where I sort out my thoughts about life, love, relationships, and the many connections I make to those things through artistic expression–either my own or that of other artists whose work moves me.

If you are interested in discovering with me what’s behind Door 44, I welcome you to join me on this journey. In the meantime, remember this: life is short, so do something you love.