Saturday, March 20, 2010

M Likes Gin

I know people say it all the time, but it really is a small world. I was at a small art show here in south Florida, always on the look out for new artist. I found an amazing potter from Michigan, Miles Stearn. He throws and handbuilds pretty shapes, but it's his glazes that put his work over the top. Really wonderful, luscious colors. I know, a bit over the top, but I said it...luscious. Miles doesn't have a website or blog, and from our conversation, isn't interested in having one, so you'll just have to check his work out on our site. But this post isn't really about Miles, it's about how small the world is.

My mother, who was with me, is originally from Michigan. While Miles is from lower Michigan, my mother is from the upper peninsula. Now, if you don't know what the upper peninsula of Michigan is, I'm not particularly surprised. Time Magazine once left it off the map of the US, including it in Canada. The village she's from has a population of less than 900 and the entire county has a population of about 36,000.

During our conversation, Miles mentions that one of the few galleries he sells his work to is in my mom's home town. My mom looks at me as says, "I wonder if it's the gallery M works in?" M is her cousins wife, a piano teacher who works part-time in a small gallery and has a preference for dry Beefeater martini's. Miles, who was busy packing up my purchases, looked up at us, smiles and said, "I know M. M likes gin!" Yes Miles, you do know M.

So, you see, it really is a small world, and now you all know...M likes gin!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Wooden Maps

It's pretty rare for me to go to an art show and see something new. I spend most of my life looking at fine craft. While a show may be full of beautiful pottery, unique jewelry and outstanding glass work, it's rarely something completely new and different. When I see something new & different, I tend to get excited. That's how it was for me this weekend, when I discovered Abby Bay Designs.Abby Bay starts with nautical charts and topographical maps of area's that contain large bodies of water. The silhouette of the land is cut from fine hardwoods. Each depth of the body of water is cut from another layer of the same wood, then stained a beautiful blue that lets the natural grain of the wood show through. The layers are stacked up, topped with glass and framed in a contrasting hardwood, leaving you with something more than an ordinary map...a truly unique piece of art. My favorite was one of the great lakes, done in birds eye maple. The pictures really don't do the pieces justice, but maybe they will help you get the idea.As I was standing in the Abby Bay booth, I couldn't help thinking how much my father would love these pieces. That is something I rarely think when looking at art.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide

We've put together a gift giving guide to help you fill those difficult slots on your holiday list. And don't forget to check out our Stocking Stuffer ideas. All fun gifts priced $20.00 and under.

If you're in the Naples area, be sure not to miss all the fun events happening on Fifth Avenue this December. The Downtown Christmas Walk is on Dec. 3rd, the Christmas Parade on Dec. 8th, Holiday Wishes on Dec. 10th, and the Hanukkah Celebration on Dec. 16th. If you're attending any of the events, stop in and say hi!

For the Romantic....Is she a hearts and flowers kind of girl? We've gathered a collection of both the beautiful and the unusual. You're sure to find something she hasn't seen and is sure to love!

For Mr. Impossible...There's one on every list. The guy who's got it all, doesn't want or need anything. That's Mr. Impossible. We've gathered some of our more unusual gifts here, things we're sure he doesn't have and didn't know he needed!

For the Beach Babe...She's the siren of the seas. Water and sand are her favorite things. Here we've gathered baubles, trinkets and treasures sure to delight any beach babe!

For the Party Girl...The table is always perfectly set, the food is always wonderful. She is, in fact, the "Hostess with the Mostess". Here we've gathered some wonderful serving and entertaining pieces guaranteed to get you a return invitation.

For the Tree Hugger...Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse!!!! These gifts are sure to delight all of the eco-warriors on your list.

For the Sassy Girl...She's fun, she's edgy, she's a little bit unique. You're not going to find her gift at any chain store. But you're sure to find it here!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Birds Are Back In Town

No, I'm not talking about the snowbirds (although, they are back too). I'm talking about those wild, wacky, wonderful long legged birds from artist Aletha Rector.

These birds have always been very popular, but due to an artist illness, we haven't had any in quite some time. Aletha's better now and up & running, or maybe I should say up & potting. We're thrilled to have a small flock of birds right now. And they've brought some friends! Along with the birds, there are sheep, camels and bunnies.

A Florida native, Aletha learned the basics of clay while residing on the island of Okinawa. Many years later and a continent away, she has developed these early lessons into her own unique style and method. She sculpts each creature in clay and kiln-fires, then pit-fires them to achieve it's unusual color and texture. She's basically a one woman operation, except for a little help from her husband (he pours the cement bases for the birds).

My favorite part of the birds....because they come apart, you can change their socks! Dress them up for the holidays. I've got a bag of Christmas socks waiting in the wings for our flock.

See the whole flock and their friends at Random Acts of Art.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Those Cute Little Mice

One day, several months ago, a customer entered the gallery, a little upset looking and clutching a small color catalog. She asked, in a frantic voice, "Do you carry Wee Forest Folk?" She was so upset, I had to ask her to repeat herself several times until I understood what she was saying. When I told her I didn't, she asked if I would please carry them. The owners of the store she had buying them at had retired, closing up, the artist doesn't sell direct, and she had no place to buy them. It was at this point I had to admit I had no idea what Wee Forest Folk were.

She showed me the catalog she was clutching. It was full of mice. Mice all dressed up and doing things. OK, I'll admit it, I thought to my self, with a great deal of disdain "Mice sculptures? Really? You've got to be kidding." I thought it, but I never let that show. I asked the women a few questions about the mice...were they handcrafted, made in America, etc? The answers were all the right ones for my self imposed criteria, but still...mice sculptures?

I asked the customer to leave me her information and I'd see what I could do. I figured I would do some research and, if the minimum order was low enough, offer to order them for her. I had no intentions of caring them in the gallery. I got in touch with someone at Wee Forest Folk and got the whole story. It seems that the mice first came into existence 37 years ago, crafted out of bread dough by Annette Peterson. Bread dough doesn't hold up very well, so now they are molded out of a stronger material. Each piece is a casting of an original sculpted by either Annette or her children, Willy and Donna.They are then meticulously painted with great detail. They are produced in small amounts and retired regularly. It all sounded great, but still...mice sculptures?

They offered to send me a sample, a beach bound mouse called The Little Dipper.I was amazed when I opened the box. First of all, they are so much tinier than I expected. The Little Dipper is only 1 1/4" tall. And the amount of detail on such a little! From the spout on her inner tube to the starfish on the beach to her pink cheeks, it was all there. I'll admit it, she was a cutie. But still...mice sculptures?

I decided I would do a very small order and see what happened. Those first few mice have spread like...well, like mice. They now have their own shelf in a case and new friends arrive regularly. The Halloween ones just showed up and they are as cute as can be.

So, mice sculptures? YES!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Craft in America

Craft in America, the Peabody Award winning series, premiered season two last night on PBS. Season two features two episodes focusing on the origins and processes of craft.

Craft traditions didn't just appear, fully-formed and mature. Episode IV - Origins focuses on craftspeople with a long history in the craft world. Include in this episode. just a few of the artist featured, are Jugtown Pottery and Teri Greeves. Jugtown Pottery was started in 1917 and, drawing from the tradition, creates traditional jugs, candlesticks and tableware. Teri Greeves, a member of the Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma, uses traditional Kiowa beadwork methods to tell the story of American Indians. Her work includes beaded books, jewelry and high top sneakers.

Episode V - Process focus's on what inspires a person to choose a career in craft. What makes an established professional give up everything to take up a career in arts? How do they learn their crafts? Along with several artist, Process looks as several important craft schools. The visit to the North Bennet Street School in Boston, with its emphasis on violin making, was fascinating. The Kansas City Art Institute has a ceramic arts program that produces many of today's prominent contemporary ceramic artist. And New York's 92nd Street Y...oh, to have access to the kinds of craft programs and classes offered, both for children & adults, would be such a gift.
While the episodes premiered last night, many PBS stations will be replaying them through out the month. If you love fine crafts, love beautiful handmade items, you should check you local station for airdates.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bonnie Perry - Bold Glass Jewelry

A native of Cape Cod, MA Bonnie Perry found her love of creating at the torch in the early 2000's. For the past seven years, Bonnie has perfected the art of glass beadmaking.

Melting rods of Italian glass in a torch, she coaxes glass into shapes to form beads. The hollow beads are then annealed to insure that the bead is sturdy. She then turns these miniature glass sculptures into one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry that are bold and daring.

"My respect for the flow of the glass and its properties makes the glass and I equal partners in this creative process. My artistic journey began with exploring color, design and texture using textiles, and today I continue that exploration with glass which is a mix of art and science. The colors in glass come from their metallic content. Melting colored glass rods is combining metals in heat. The possibilities are endless and always exciting. My current work is big, bold and whimsical and reflects the joy and excitement with which I embrace each new day. What will come next? I’m open to the journey and will follow the flow of the glass."
Teaching her gift to others is one of her passions. Her seven year old grandson has been known to work at the torch alongside Bonnie.