Art Festivals 2013
posted 2013 Jun by Sam Kaffine
OH, maybe I should share my plans for the summer, just i case you want to visit me and handle the jewelry in person! Barring last minute additions, this summer I plan to show at the following festivals;
Cheeseman Park Art Fest, July 27-28, 2013 10-5pm
1599 E. 8th Avenue
Denver, CO 80218
Crested Butte Arts Festival August 2-4, 2013
Steamboat Springs 15th Annual All Arts Festival August 15-18
Commonwheel Artists 39th Annual Labor Day Arts & Crafts Festival, Manitou Springs CO August 31-September2, 2013
please come by and say hello, and let me know if you go to any other fabulous festivals that I should know about! Thanks so much, Sam
posted 2013 Apr by Sam Kaffine
Hello, is anybody out there? I have had a few comments from friends who have actually READ my sad neglected fount of ...words, so perhaps I should put something else out there. I *thought* I had written a whole bit about Argentium Sterling Silver, but see it nowhere, so perhaps that was just a particularly vivid dream. Who blogs in their dreams? Maybe I'll find it somewhere.
So I have taken a break from watching Hoarders and doing Soduko, dusted off my camera, and TAKEN SOME PHOTOS!! Of jewelry!! Still learning to use the camera, still learning to use Adobe Lightroom - but the pics don't look half bad! I'm rather excited! Ever have a task that's so intimidating, so exacting, that you'll do anything rather than begin it? Me, too. Usually I use that procrastination/motivation to do something only slightly less yucky that I have been putting off. Example, you really don't want to clean out the dryer vent hose that goes outside, or haul 5 gallon buckets to water the trees, or mend holes in your favorite cashmere sweater - then suddenly, it's tax time, or oil-change time, and those tasks get done lickety split!
So, what task is so horrible that it makes a Nikon camera (which could probably drive my car) seem easier by comparison? Um, I don't actually remember. Maybe I'm just wading through yucky land, crossing off tasks just so they don't overwhelm me. Either way, feels pretty good. I mean, I've been making jewelry like a crazy person, just haven't taken any photos of them for the website, to share with you - until now! :) See what you think, let me know OH!! I remember why I am finally doing this!! I got an awesome email from a lady pointing out something wrong with one of my photos - motivated me to make a new piece, take the new photo - and while I'm at it, take a whole bunch more, edit them all, measure weigh and post them. Thanks Kay!! Not only do I feel better about my website (never did like that old photo) but I now have a great new friend. This one's for you, Kay - let me know how I did!
Any yucky/scary tasks you all have completed lately? Brag here, we're cheering for you!
posted 2012 Mar by Sam Kaffine
Well, it's Sunday, the one day a week I have to do whatever I want, or whatever needs doing that's not work (usually catch up on housework). Today, I spend some time setting up my new toy - The Ringinator EZ. It's amazing - a gentleman took the idea of a table saw, I guess, and miniaturized it for cutting jump rings, you know, for jewelry or chainmaille. It's awesome - I've been looking at buying it for a few years, couldn't justify the expense - until I broke so many $14.50 blades on my Pepe Jump Ringer that I wound up paying the price of the Ringinator in broken blades - and not getting better. So I bought the Ringinator, it's all set up (contrary to his claims, he sent it already set up - I had 4 bolts to tighten, but don't tell my husband because he was REALLY impressed with how well I built the thing from the ground up) and I can't WAIT to use it!!
When I think of all the jewelry I made when I was just getting started, winding the coils by hand then sawing each individual ring with a saw frame until my thumbs bled, then hurriedly weaving them together until I ran out of rings and had to sit and cut some more - I can't believe it!! I was so excited to get the Pepe Jump Ringer for Christmas (thanks honey!), and I used it faithfully for 6 years or so, but with the volume of rings that I cut, it's really not a production machine. And now I can cut my own Titanium rings! As well as silver, goldfill, copper - maybe the local bead store will purchase some rings wholesale, and the Ringinator will pay for itself!! (If I'm breaking fewer than $25 in blades a month, it will pay for itself BIGtime!!)
Well, if you want to see my new machine, there's a great YouTube video or two on it, made by people with more time on their hands than I have, or you can check out the website right here;
Thanks for listening!!
I GIVE UP!
posted 2011 Dec by Sam Kaffine
OK, I give UP. I concede. I had SO much fun writing the last blog, and started taking note of other phunny, stoopid stuff to write about, when my inner voice (oh, you have one too? Mine sounds a little like my mom) started in about how I was going to be all negative, how focussing on the ridiculousness of modern life would make me all snarky and passive-aggressive - so I've been holding off, waiting for a fantastic POSITIVE interesting thing to entertain you with. And it's been awhile, because the perfect thing has been eluding me. When ALL OF A SUDDEN, I find myself struggling for air in a whirlpool of phoolishness, and all I can think of, besides please don't snort spiced cider all over the new keyboard, is OMYGODIHAVETOSHARETHIS. Where WAS this fascinating scintilla of stoopid, you ask? WELL, beloved reader, you may well ask. You may feel free to send me money and gratitude in whatever form feels most appropriate, because you might never have found this phount of phunny all by yourself. I am talking, of course, about www.LoveSac.com.
LoveSac - it's not a damn beanbag! is their (probably highly effective) slogan. Home page copy goes on to inform that, "LoveSac® is the creator of the original Oversized Sac®, designed to be of the highest quality. Everything else is just a cheap knock-off. More than a quarter-million LoveSacs have been sold since 1998." Yes, they officially registered the word 'Sac'. Oh, but the phun is only beginning! Because, for a mere $799 (reduced from $1200) you can have your very OWN 'Cow Phur Super Sac Package'. Say it out loud and proud. 'Cow Phur'. I can't stop wheezing - I went on to find alternate finishes for Love Sacs Alternative Furniture - there's Rhino Plush, there's Green Wildthings, there's Blackbear Phur, there's Eskimo Phur! I wonder how many Eskimos go into a single Love Sac? Do they have an Eskimo Pharm? Are they igloo-phree or do they keep them cruelly caged? They also have Beaver Phur. That's just going too far - I can't address that.
Moving on, www.LoveSac.com also carries sactionals. SACtionals. For the bag aficionado with control issues, apparently. These are offered in the standard alternative phurs, of course, including Rhinoplush, but also in Herringsuede (THAT'd be a hell of a job, sueding herrings, dontchathink?) and in Leszure, which I prayed was a typo but is, in fact, a fabric. Or should I say, a phabric?
And not to limit our comfort options, there are accessories, natch. A TubeSac on which to rest your weary head, perhaps? A SodaSac in Red Velvish to hold your carbonated beverage close to hand. A ....wait for it.... Squattoman for the feet - perhaps in Chocolate RhinoPlush?? "..the Squatt feels squishy on top, where its pleated head allows the beads to expand and squish around, when sat on the Squattoman becomes instantly turgid--ready for action." Really, what more CAN one ask of a footstool?
To wind up this phun-phest, I must share my two phavorite products - the KhakiSac (once again, out loud - sounds like a hairball, don't it?) and the MicroLeather option for all Sacs. MicroLeather. Like, from really small cows, no?
And with that, I must leave you. Mostly because my husband just walked by and groaned (ever notice how close the words, "grown-up" and "groan" are?) so now I can't tell if this stuph is ACTUALLY phunny, or if I should have used respiratory protection whilst painting earlier, and have substituted polyurethane for brain cells. Thoughts??
my new display
posted 2011 Jul by Sam Kaffine
Hello friends and customers - I wanted to show off my new booth display.
This upgrade in professionalism came about because I was turned down for some nice shows due to my old display. My last display was - well, easier to show you -
OK, I'm seeing their point. WOW. At the TIME, of course, I felt perfectly justified and elegant with my custom faux suede table drops, which no longer fit the narrower tables I had moved to. The word "schlumpy" comes to mind. Yikes. The annoying part, (see Murphy's Law) is that although my display is, oh, well, 10,000X better now, my sales have dropped. I'm going to blame that on the economy and not on my elegant new display. Unless you have some thoughts? Anyway, if you see me at a show near you, please stop in and say hello. I'll be in Telluride Aug. 13-14, Commonwheel Festival (Manitou Springs) Sept. 3-4, ArtFest Castle Rock Sept. 10-11, and Estes Park Sept. 17-18. And let me know if there are any spiffy shows near you that I need to go to - so many Art Fairs, so little time!!
ps if you'd like to see more work by the very talented and handsome photographer who kindly took my new display photo, he's Brandon Beaty Photography - www.brandonbeaty.com . Thanks Brandon!!
posted 2011 Jul by Sam Kaffine
Geesh - where does the time go? I've been thinking a lot about etiquette lately, about how much it annoys me when other people display their lack of - like the supermarket clerk who carries on her private conversation over your head as she rings you up, the fast food cashier who accepts your thanks with a condescending nod (instead of a "no, thank YOU!), the driver going a steadfast 5 miles under the speed limit in the passing lane, guests who don't RSVP at any point, moms who treat you to a steady diet of 'helpful suggestions' (aka criticism) that remain in your head long after the visit is over, gift recipients who can't be bothered to thank you, or even let you know the gift has arrived, customers who don't send payment for months at a time, festival vendors who boom loudly, interfering with your sales, your space, your thoughts. Oh - I could go on. Two thoughts follow this train - #1 has this been going on all along, and I'm just starting to notice, or has my patience erroded? Possibly a little of both? And #2 isn't leaving an exciting blog post interrupted for months at a time the worst kind of etiquette breach? I mean, I have no idea if anyone is actually reading these, but that's not a good excuse - the thing needs to be finished, the page turned, the pause earned. My most abject apologies to any theoretical readers - I believe my procrastination was an unconscious desire to not let go of my New York visit, to still be "in" it - and time is a very subjective yardstick to me. I mean, I FEEL as if 4 weeks have gone by since my trip, when it's actually been more like 12. YIKES!! Husband is understandably miffed that I haven't seen (or done!) anything concrete with my efforts - I just can't believe that much time has passed!
In the interum, I have; hosted my husband's family for a wedding picnic, including the exwife and exmother-in-law (good time had by all), my mother for 2 weeks, my stepdaughter for a week before her move to Germany; participated in Strawberry Days (Glenwood Springs), Boulder Fine Arts Festival, Estes Park Fine Art Festival, Aspen EcoFest, Farmer's Market in Vail; stocked three new galleries ( Z Place, Ironwood MI; Fogdog Gallery, Arlington WA, and Uptown Consignment, Aspen CO), and kept up with most of my usual commitments. Oh, and suffered through the MOST exhausting bout of whooping cough imaginable. Honestly, if you haven't had a vaccine, go get one - or can you schedule daily 4 hour naps into your life? Weak, helpless, droopy - no energy, no breath, no sleep, just endless hacking life-draining coughing - FOR 6 WEEKS!! Ugh. Had I known, had any idea whatsoever, I would have shot up the vaccine myself. Apparently, whooping cough has been mostly absent for adults (life-threat for children and agers) until recently, where it's been showing up in record numbers in CA, CO and NY. You know, the only three states I've had contact with in the last year. Enough about that - just skip it, given the chance.
New York was magical, as I mentioned before, the energy, the sights, the organized and efficient bee-hive activity visible everywhere, at every hour. Tulips blooming, light rain washing the streets clean (NY is the cleanest big city I've ever seen - no trash, no litter, no dog poop - these people take PRIDE in their city. I did see rats, but that was on trash night - while impressive, truly not unexpected) - every little patch of 'nature' tended and manicured - trees in square planters busting with daffodils, landscaped yards measured in square inches, window boxes overflowing with happy plants. New Yorkers themselves seem to bloom in the spring, everyone so happy, helpful and none of the fabled "New York" attitude - I see more of that in Santa Fe, NM, to be honest! I saw traffic cops greeting middle-aged dogwalkers by name, stopping to pet the pooches, bus drivers handing out free bus tickets to confused tourists (OK, it was me and Shen, but still impressive) and the one "Ya KILLing me heah!" altercation between pedestrian and driver was followed by gales of laughter from both. Such a happy place. Sigh.
I walked Brooklyn,Soho, Little Italy, The Bowery, Noho (where do they GET these names? No one seemed to know!), Fifth Avenue, Upper West Side until I had to actually buy new tennis shoes - neither my Born cork wedges nor my Vida Verde clogs were up to NY standards - I covered miles each day. I would troll neighborhoods, looking into boutiques, shops, chain stores, getting the feel of the area, the people - and when I found a store that seemed copacetic, speak to a clerk. Snotty? BuhBye. Friendly? Introductions, show some of my pieces, ask for the wholesale buyer's contact info, or to speak to them in person. I came home with 28 different business cards, all excited and naive, made up some pieces, photo'd them, posted them to my website........and came up against the wall of my own ignorance. What do I do now? Do I really want to offer handmade chain for wholesale? What if they want 100s - will my wrists hold up? Ooops, gotta go make jewelry for a show, I'll think about it later. Sigh. Sad, huh? So, I've decided to approach the issue from the side, rather than head on - took a photography tutorial to improve photos, signed up for a class on wholesale marketing this Saturdy (missing THE picnic of the season in the interest of professionalism - although if I had wandered about half-assed and just DID the contact thing, it wouldn't still be an issue), gathering advice and encouragement along the way. There just doesn't seem to be ONE way to establish oneself in the wholesale market, except do an incredibly expensive wholesale show on the East Coast, and how does one prepare for that? I've done one wholesale show, 4 years ago, and concluded I wasn't ready for wholesale. Now, I'm ready for wholesale, but don't have $4000 to do a show. I'm blathering, aren't I?
On the up side, my webmaster recently erased my entire archived email account, so any undelivered orders (as well as 8 years of contacts and addresses) are now in etherHell. It shortened my ToDo list considerably - and started me thinking about etiquette. My lack of. How taking a jewelry order is the same as making a contract, and if I don't deliver, I have failed. So I think I'll go finish the accursed butterfly ring that has been giving me fits (I'm on #6) and the turquoise ring that is being patiently awaited. Contracts to fulfill, etiquette to repair. And a resolution to say Thank You, and to study Ms. Manners, the ultimate etiquette snark, tonight.
Blessings to any and all who follow, if you have a moment why not let me know you're out there?
posted 2011 May by Sam Kaffine
SPROING!! That's an energetic reference to Spring - you know, like it has sprung, although here at 7000*, we don't really get Spring as celebrated elsewhere. This year we're getting beautiful sunny mornings, mid 50*s until 11:00 or so, then a light blowing snow and temps in the low 40*s for the rest of the day. Don't ask me how it can snow when it's that warm, I'm just telling you what I see, every day for the last week or so. Before that, I couldn't say, as I was On the Road. I luuuuv to travel, and as dehumanizing as flying is getting, it's still magical and amazing, to fly across the country in a few hours. I got a last minute invite to accompany a friend to AZ then NY, and I have to say, I don't turn down trips to NY. It's like a *rule*, you know?
So we fly into Phoenix - I'm to act as my friend's (Shen) personal assistant, help her organize and take advantage of her recent hailstorm of opportunities as an artist. She was doing demo's at the NAMTA - National Artist Materials Trade Show - which was amazing. I took notes, took photos, followed her around and goggled at all the beautiful rainbow displays of colored pencils, pens, paints, brushes, handmade papers, organizers, and artist materials so esoteric I have no idea what they were. We stayed at a lovely old hotel (think Grandma's house, with chandeliers and an elevator) until the last night, when we moved to the Hilton for some luxury. Phoenix was gorgeous, gentle breezes, 80* days and 70* nights, sipping wine and noshing sushi on the patio while chatting with Prada toting matrons and gentlemen with strong French accents. Lovely. Our fourth and last day, after the trade show was over, we rented a car and drove to Scottsdale, to explore the Old Towne Arts District. Amazing enclave of money and taste - like a summer Vail, really, or a more genteel Palm Springs.
Monday morning found us in the Bowery district of Manhattan, crashing at a $35/night youth hostel I wouldn't recommend to my worst enemy. I mean, I'm not high maintenance (hello, wildland firefighter, 8 years - I've lived in my pickup truck for a month- no shower, no toilet, slept in the woods, slept on fire trucks, curled up under trees, shared a single bathroom with 40 bikers and loggers - but that's DIRT. Germs are different.) - this place was rough. Our 'rooms' (cells) were 6'x4' - mine had a 24" square closet - it was a cross between a handicapped bathroom stall and a solitary cell in jail. 40 rooms on our side, one common ceiling (noisy as hell) and common toilet stalls. I kept thinking about a coworker who dropped a contact lens into a nightclub sink, resulting in a virulent pestilential eye infection that her doctor couldn't figure out. Ish. Blech. But this hostel was how this trip was do-able, so I dealt. OK, I whined when the first bedbug attack hit - those bites ITCH!! - but other than that, I tried to deal. Shen, of course, got not a single bite, bringing home to me, once again, the power of our minds. I KNEW there would be bed bugs at a $35/night hostel in the middle of Manhattan - Shen thought positive, and didn't get bit. I got ATE up - upwards of 20 incredibly itchy, crazy-making welts. Luckily, Manhattan is the one place I can think of where you CAN just sleep in your lodging - the rest of the time you want to be out there, in it. So we did. The first two days, we traveled to Parson's, a school in....somewhere, forget, but it was a $40 train ride, to watch a silkscreening demo with some of Shen's associates from Daler-Rowney - one of the biggest art supply companies in the country. The next day was Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and after that we were on our own. We spent the days walking around Manhattan seperately, each of us looking for promising galleries and boutiques who might be interested in carrying our art. I enjoyed it SO much, I haven't words. The people, the energy, the beauty, the ..differentness. It was amazing.
Too much, actually, to write about at one sitting. So I will carry on later, to drag out the experience in my own head, to relive the dare-I-say-it synchronicity and wonderfullness, to savor it fully - that is, when it's NOT 12:38 am and I am alert enough to share, not ramble. Rambling here. Sorry to do this in episodes, but there it is.
New Year, New..Me?
posted 2011 Jan by Sam Kaffine
Hello again - it's been awhile, I know, but I'm back - hope I still have a few readers out there. I'm starting the new year off the same way I usually do, with a few resolutions for a better year. Each year I try to be a little more realistic, judging from the success (or lack) of the previous resolves. This year my resolutions are two; I am trying, every day, to do *more* of the things which make me feel better about myself, and *less* of the things I may WANT to do but which make me feel guilty. Like eat an entire bag of my homemade toffee - yeah, it feels great at the time, but the next day I feel disgusting - fat, hungover from all that sugar, and ashamed of myself. My hope is that such a humble resolve will result in a less 'shamed', more 'quietly proud', me. The other half of this is to reflect, last thing before I drift off, on the things which I accomplished that day which have made me happy. My second resolve, a cliche I know, is to get 1/2 hour of exercise each and every day, and the days which I skip add up, but not in a shamed way. I try my best to get my half hour, because I've gotten to the point where that 1/2 hour actually DOES make me feel better physically - more energetic, more limber, breathing better, and because of resolution #1. If I don't have time, can't stand the thought of it, whatever, no big deal, not going to work myself up about it - I just do a full hour the next day. I L.O.V.E. to sweat but HATE to exercise - the mind numbing boredom, the lack of productivity - focussing on how good it feels to have DONE it, rather than the sublime (yeah, right) experience of DOING it, helps me a lot. And I don't want to pull into the second half of life all crippled up and pathetic.
OK!! enough about that, personal, exercise, old age and all! I have been taking a silk-dyeing class and I am SO EXCITED to start making fabulous luxuriant silk scarves - I mixed up some awesome colors last class - a rich deep teal, a warm cinnabar red, a perfect milk chocolate, a moody gray-blue and a serviceable olive green - now I need to order my own dyes so I can compliment these with some base colors, or different tones. I also want to do a whole series of 'sky' scarves - indigo shibori on white ground, moody gray-blue with rain drops falling, blue streaked with white cirrus - I want to make scarves that reflect some of the majesty and moodiness of the beautiful Colorado sky I see all around me.
I've also been thinking of which pieces of jewelry are essential in every woman's wardrobe - next month I will post my list, and you can see what you think. Feel free to comment with some ideas - obviously one woman's essential may not be everybody's.
Have a wonderful, happy day - I am off to prep for taxes (see resolution #1) and walk in the snow (#2). Blessings! Sam
posted 2010 Oct by Sam Kaffine
Hehe. Well, I think I'm funny, and that's what counts. So, what's up? I realize you can't answer, and that's because I STILL have to figure out to enable comments on the site. Honestly, given my family and upbringing, you'd think enabling would come easily to me, and usually it does, but my mind does not "get" computer-ese. So... what's new with me, you ask? WELL! I have just been interviewed by a lovely and professional reporter for the Ute Pass Courier - my first interview ever! Of course I spent too much time telling fire stories and talking about my PREVIOUS career, and not enough time rhapsodizing over my CURRENT career, but... I'll do better next time. Really!! I prefer to do things perfectly the first time, but don't, more often than not. And any experience that teaches us something is better than not having that experience. And it could have been way worse - at least I didn't talk about my health, or my family, or sex, god forbid!
Recently I attended the MOST amazing 2-day workshop with Mr. Bill Fretz, of omigodIhavetohavethosehammersandstakes fame (you've no doubt heard of him), at the Denver School of Metal Arts. We learned convex and concave raising, and combining the two for Mobius shapes (I can make them better than I can spell them) which rock my world. I purchased two beautiful hammers, which Mr. Fretz was kind enough to sign for me, and am saving my pfennings for a cunningly wrought set of miniature raising stakes. $400, very sexy. If you ever have a chance to take his "Using stakes" workshop, I highly recommend. TONS of hands-on, practical learning, tips, encouragement and more techniques than you'll have time to absorb. Well worth the money.
I had a chance to buzz out to WA to see my bestest friends in the whole world who recently relocated there from NM - they are well, their new house is amazing, and I had a wonderful visit visiting thrift stores, admiring fall foliage, terrorizing the chillen. Spending time with good friends is the best way to recharge, don't you think? Next week I fly to WI (The Land of Fried Cheese) to spend a week with the in-laws (including my sweet grandbaby Saxon Grace - can't wait for that!), and to eat my weight in, you guessed it, fried cheese!! Don't tsk-tsk at me unless you have experienced the oral nirvana which is freshly fried cheese curds, dipped in ranch. They're like nothing else I can think of, but my mouth is watering, so you'll just have to take my word for it - and that word is YUM.
Well, I woke up feeling extremely productive today, so I should get back to the studio and take full advantage of the organized energy coursing through my brain. Happy Autumn to all!
If you'd like to come see my goods in person, (and I know you do!) my fall shows are thus;
Art in the Hills, Chapel Hills Mall, Co Springs 10/16 11-8
6th Annual Mountain Holiday Arts & Crafts Festival, Woodland Park High 11/13 9-5pm, 11/14 10-4pm
The Colorado College Arts & Crafts Show, Co College, Co Springs 12/3 4-8pm, 12/4 10-5pm, 12/5 10-5pm
Hope to see you soon!
Susan "Sam" Kaffine
Sterling Bliss, LLC
posted 2010 Aug by Sam Kaffine
long time no update, no? Well, we moved into a new house and it took 4 months! to get internet at the house. Now, I know it's been more than 4 months since I updated, but I'm not wasting a perfectly good excuse on technicalities. If you can just imagine sitting in the Safeway parking lot every other day for 4 months, checking your email on a laptop while sitting sideways in your car, I'm sure the pity will kick in and I'll be excused for my laxity.
So today I am totally excited about the weekend I've just had - I'm telling you, if you ever have HALF an excuse to see Telluride, it may just be the prettiest site on Earth. And if that excuse happens around the time of the Telluride Fine Arts Festival - well, jump on it. You drive through this beautiful river valley, red earth and green mountains on both sides, to arrive in this picturesque town filled with funky clothes, exquisite food and friendly relaxed people. It's like if you took Cripple Creek, CO, threw out all the chain-smoking drunk gamblers and replaced them with healthy wealthy happy people, dogs and bicycles. It's a wonderful place! You hop on the (free, no wait, live-people-attended) gondola to ride 1,000' straight up the mountain in the sunshine, to Mountain Village (elevation 10,000'). Mountain Village is like if Eddie Bauer designed a nature Disney Land in Europe. Beautiful paved streets (you can drive up from Telluride if you want to skip the gondola) wind around 4 star hotels with shops on the ground floor, scattered around (heated) paved plazas interspersed with natural ponds and lush wildflowers. I fully expected to see deer with rhinestone collars. Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder...The winter skiing may be great but apparently the summer bicycling is even better - ever seen a 3 yr. old tearing down a mountainside on two wheels? The bicycle paths are so dang beautiful, winding among the aspens and through meadows - it seems like EVERYONE takes a daily hike, walk or bike here - you can get a bike at the LIBRARY for the day.
The festival itself, set in this idyllic atmosphere, did not disappoint. It was not overwhelmingly attended, no hordes of folks rifling through your creations and walking on, but everyone you encountered seemed present, aware, relaxed. The person you spoke with MET your eyes as you talked and LISTENED to you - they didn't look beyond, around you, already planning their response. The second day of the festival, 35 extra booths were set up amongst the artists for the Telluride Culinary Festival, one booth for each local eatery. OMIGOD my cup runneth over. We were each given a wine glass and 20 tickets for the gourmet sampling about to happen - the only way I knew I hadn't died and gone to heaven, seriously, was when I looked down and didn't see the Angelina-Jolie-as-Tomb-Raider physique I was hoping for. It was that good. So when my booth was vacant, I trotted (gracefully, natch) over to a wine table and sampled chardonnay, hooking an elk carpaccio nibble and a creme brulee on the way back. Next break, spring roll (the nibble, not the action) and mango dipped in chocolate and chilies (YUM) but I think the best was the artisan rum drink with muddled pineapple and ginger. And of course chatting in the gathering twilight, listening to the live music, making a few unhurried sales to the smiling, fashionable crowd. It was the single best day of my new career. I may be irrepairably spoiled now. Oh, and at the end of the next day, they LOADED our things into little golf trucks and DROVE us to our vehicles. Oh yeah, I'm going back (if they'll have me)!
So, if you get a chance, check out Telluride. I'll be the broadly beaming vendor in the big new tent - come have a glass with me!
posted 2010 Mar by Sam Kaffine
This is a (poor) picture of a beautiful commissioned piece I finished recently – the client had some silver wire, and asked me to make it into chain for her. She came over, we designed it together, and incorporated some of her gorgeous Tahitian black pearls – to represent each of her three children. The chain incorporates her own silver wire and some goldfill wire of mine – the “pendant” of chain and pearls is removeable, and on either side of the necklace you can see 2 pr of earrings, one shorter for more options. She seemed very happy, and I thought it turned out quite nicely. The picture was intended more as a record than an example of photographic excellence, taken with my Panasonic DMC-TZ3 point-and-shoot, but the finished piece is so nice I’m hoping that shows through.
I have been getting into photography, or at least the idea of it, as my pro camera body does not at this time, actually work. Mr. Ken Wyatt generously made room in his busy schedule to come over yesterday and take some AMAZING photographs of some of my things – it was SO exciting to see a professional at work, and he gave me lots and lots of tips and techniques – worth every penny and more besides! (If you’d like to see some of his amazing work, go to www.wyattphoto.com, or check out this photo of my new heat-patinated copper and sterling earrings. Yummy!!)
My new endevours have included burnt copper earrings, heat-patinated copper earrings, and more in the Discs Unite! series (different size options). I have also been experimenting with different metals (Titanium, Niobium, Aluminum) for the permanent color options they offer. No photos as of yet. I was motivated to directly address my image quality when I received the (sad but not yet hopeless) news that I have been waitlisted for the Downtown Denver Arts Festival – my first big show ever, which I got into last year with the same photos that reflected poorly on me this year! Waitlisted means someone else needs to drop out before they’ll let me in, or in other words, I’m on the “B” list. :( I also applied for the Commonwheel Co-op in Manitou last month – very excited about that opportunity, but unfortunately they chose not to choose anyone at this time. The feedback I’ve gotten is that my image quality does not reflect well on my work. The BAD news is that it is, right now, time to apply to all those fun fairs and festivals for the summer, and I have not the photos to do it with, nor the camera body to take them with. Thanks the heavens for Ken Wyatt!! So right now I have some amazing photos, and some not so amazing – I look forward to finding another camera body, and to all of my website looking more professional!
Be well, be happy and fer heaven’s sake be healthy!!
Susan “Sam” Kaffine
February - all about Argentium
posted 2010 Feb by Sam Kaffine
So, there’s this new product (well, it’s been around since 1996, but it’s new to me!) on the market that you will be hearing a lot about. The short story is that Argentium silver is tarnish resistant and firescale-free, meaning it is easier to keep clean and it stays shiny longer.
The long, involved and incredibly interesting story is that Peter Johns, a professor of silversmithing at England’s Middlesex University, invented Argentium sterling silver in response to a request from a manufacturer who asked that someone figure out how to use their byproduct germanium. Mr. Johns replaced a small percentage of the copper (which is added to pure silver to make it harder but unfortunately tarnishes and produces firescale in response to heat) with germanium, producing a sterling (92.5% pure silver, remainder copper and germanium) which is tarnish resistant, more malleable than traditional sterling, easier to fuse and weld, and tolerated by some people who are allergic to traditional sterling silver.(1) How wonderful!!
Drawbacks? It won’t take, or is extremely resistant to patinas, which means you won’t see it in any of my hammered or stamped rings. Argentium is slightly more expensive than traditional sterling silver, and has been anecdotely reported (no studies yet) to OCCASIONALLY turn skin black – this is usually related to the use of sunscreen, and by a very small percentage of people who have tried it. We don’t know why yet – the infrequency suggests hormonal or chemical properties of certain people’s sweat. It is fragile to move while under a torch’s heat, and most of the literature recommends keeping seperate files, cutters, picks, soldering boards, pickle pot and sanding paper for your Argentium, so as not to introduce microscopic particles of copper and/or traditional sterling, which may compromise the tarnish resistance of the Argentium. Quelle pain! (I have trouble keeping my two sterlings seperate, especially once they go into the tumber to shine up, but I hope to get a handle on that by tagging, labeling and keeping more records.) The only other drawback I’ve seen is that the “official” Argentium stamp, which you ought to use on Argentium pieces to prove they are truly Argentium, is a esoteric flying unicorn – honestly, does that say “tarnish resistant” to you? – and costs $85, as opposed to a stamp which says “sterling” or “.925” for $14.
On the other hand, the lack of firescale is truly a godsend to people like me, who HATE sanding out the faint reddish tinge that can go layers deep into sterling, in response to a torch’s heat. And it FUSES to itself, whch means, if you are careful with your prep and get your edges perfectly filed flat, there is no need to introduce solder, which is a metal of lesser melting temp, therefor lower silver content, used to “cement” sterling edges together, to make a ring, for example. Having no solder means no filing, or less filing, bumps of excess material, and no seam of another color, which may tarnish at a different rate than the rest of the object. It’s just beautiful, if you ask me.
So how does it work? SO glad you asked. Silver is oxygen permeable, which means that while you wouldn’t want to breathe through it, oxygen does move through it very slowly. So, and I don’t get the technicalities of this, while traditional sterling silver is buffed or tumbled to harden and shine, by subtle realignment of the surface molecules, Argentium sterling is HEATED in an oven to bring the germanium oxide to the surface, forming an oxygen (and therefor tarnish) resistant layer to the surface. As I understand this, and more study on my part is needed, this process takes 20 minutes at 250*, while heat hardening requires 45 minutes at 580*.(2) (There have been different reports, different studies done, but Cynthia Eid is generally recognized as the expert in Argentium sterling, so I go with her recommendations.) But both of these actions simple jump-start the process, as Argentium’s tarnish resistance increases with exposure to oxygen. So the longer you wear it, the more tarnish resistance it displays. I wish the same could be said of MY properties – how cool would it be if your teeth got whiter as you aged, your hair darker, naturally? Hell, why not go all the way – your middle would get slimmer, your joints more flexy – I want to be made of Argentium!!
Well, thanks for listening. You can tell I’m pretty excited about this alloy – I welcome comments and questions, but unfortunately have not yet figured out how to open that application in this forum. So email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to hear from you.
Blessings, and here’s to “younging” instead of aging – my thought for the day!!
Susan “Sam” Kaffine
(1) “Road Testing Argentium Sterling” by Cynthia Eid, September 2006 (www.ganoksin.com/borisat/nenam/argentium-testing.htm)
and if you had told me I would EVER use a footnote after leaving college, even incorrectly, I would have told you that you were utterly and completely insane. All right, all right – I’ll admit that SOME of that crap can be useful, after all.
posted 2010 Jan by Sam Kaffine
Hi all! Was your holiday season as strenous as mine was? I’d say I couldn’t wait to pack it all away, but in point of fact my cards are awaiting pen yet, so…the tree is down, the wrapping paper is packed away, but I still have Christmas cards yelling at me. After I send out a “post holiday letter”, THEN the holidays will be over for me. Is that a sign of getting older, that the holiday season more resembles a marathon than a wonder-filled treat? I suspect that’s EXACTLY what it is. Eh, so I’m getting older. Only smart people get older, you know. It’s an evolutionary system that works for me, so far!!
I am excited to ring in the new year, hoping that I can use all the things I’ve been studying and learning for a more prosperous, healthier, happier and more peaceful year than the last. What have I been learning, you ask?? SO glad you did – I have taken some accounting classes, some organizational workshops and books, resulting in a more efficient office space. (Also resulting in the concrete goal of hiring someone else to do the books!) I have reached a new plateau in soldering, with the use of an Optivisor (it is truly amazing how much better I am when I can see!), so expect more soldered and fabricated items to appear on the site. I have purchased an entire photography set-up and I CAN’T WAIT to start taking better pictures of my jewelry. Tomorrow I begin – today I am completing an application for Commonwheel Co-op, a highly respected and active local artists co-op – cross your fingers for me!! And I now have a daily schedule, for better focus and productivity. And more frequent blogs, I’m sure. Wednesday is the day for webiste updating, so I shall tackle the inability to receive feedback on my blog, on that day. Meantime, should you wish to contact me for anything – orders, questions, comments, rants, WHATEVER, send it to email@example.com and I shall post it here for you. Thanks so much, and blessings – Sam
posted 2009 Oct by Sam Kaffine
This is a cuff I created for my first project in a jewelry class. I learned a lot, and turned out fairly happy with the end result, although the lessons learned made me happier. The idea was to reticulate some silver, but I didn’t realize reticulation silver is different from sterling – Lesson #1. I took some bench dust and balls of silver, fused them to the sterling, then ran them through the rolling mill to flatten for the “moonscape” effect. (Lesson #2 – I NEED a rolling mill – what a super cool tool!!) Then I domed the silver piece slightly. Next I drilled pilot holes and sawed star shapes into the copper – freehand (Lesson #3 Freehand is for OTHER people. BAD idea) Soldering the metal (don’t remember the gauge but it is heavy duty – Lesson #4 keep production notes on ALL pieces) together was problematic, as the school’s acetylene torches didn’t seem to give me the heat I needed, even ran two at a time. We finally fired up the oxy-acetylene torch that was “too hot” for everyone else and I felt like a brain surgeon – flame being 6500* and the size of a thread. (Lesson #5 I ran out and bought the super-scooby Smith Little Torch kit that I’ve been contemplating for a year. Better tools=happier smith.) The plan was to run a heavy gauge sterling wire around the piece, but I kept burning it up, no matter what torch I used. The copper piece took so long to heat up that the wire just kept melting on me. After 6 tries and numerous curses I recalibrated the plan (Lesson #6 um… Silver melts at lower temp. than copper – SURELY I’ve read that somewhere!) I could have used lighter copper, or tried again, but was running out of time, so it is what it is. Not, I’m pretty sure, the lesson I was supposed to have learned there – smiths I admire would have stayed late, redid the cuff, did whatever to ensure the original version happened. I took the class specifically to get over 8 years of torch phobia – achieving greater torch abilities would have dovetailed right in. Instead I settled. Get over it.
My next step was to patina the copper a deep ethereal blue using ammonia in a sealed container – and here’s where it got interesting. Because of the repeated and I mean REPEATED heating of the copper (??), even though it was pickled clean it didn’t pick up ANY patina – remained copper colored. Instead, the SILVER turned blue (I have read that was an impossible color to create on silver – light blue that is). After much head scratching, the instructor and I decided it must be the bench filings – instead of pure silver, I had used mixed dust, including copper and gold fill – they must have
reacted with the ammonia. Last step – I textured the copper for a “weatherbeaten” look – basically because I’m lazy and I HATE polishing, but also because it seemed to go with the piece.
Well, that’s my cuff. The last lesson learned? Lesson #7 – cuff bracelets are UNCOMFORTABLE – or maybe they just need to be extra long to fit my large bones. I’ll know with the next one.
posted 2009 Oct by Sam Kaffine
Why is it that the days fly by faster towards the end of the year? Is it just that the days are shorter, or that there’s more to do w/ school starting, holidays approaching, or is it just the nature of things? I have a feeling it mimicks age – the older we get, the faster the years fly by – that’s how it seems to me.
Well, the days ARE shorter – I had no idea that holiday fairs and festivals fill up by March, so I have less to do than I’d hoped – a lesson for next year. Just returned from burying my paternal grandmother and visiting family – I’m sort of in that in-between place, somewhere between the perfectly rational existence I’ve created for myself and the emotional turmoil that is Family Land. I met a fabulous jeweler in Cayucas, CA – McLean Designs now carries my chain, so I get to add CA to my list of represented areas – what is that now, 7 down, 43 to go? I may have mis aimed that goal – it’s not the states on the list, it’s the money in the mail. Or something like that.
Hubby is doing well, safe but bored in Iraq, and I am house hunting! I’ve also decided I need to go to school. Big changes ahead – I’ll post more when I’m more firmly entrenched in Logic Land. Blessings – Sam
Fall is here
posted 2009 Sep by Sam Kaffine
Greetings to any and all. I can’t believe it’s fall already!! I have FINALLY found the wherewithall to rephoto my jewelry – I’m loving the brilliant green backgrounds, but have no idea how I’ll keep this up here in the mountains, where winter lasts… oh, about 8 months. Seriously. My tomato plants are still in bloom (boy are they in for a surprise right quick!!). Yes, school buses are awakening from their summer hibernation, children are crawling out of the woodwork, weekend camping forays are taking on the edge of desperation, and…oh hell, what do I care – I work from home!! I get to wear BOOTS and KNITS and thrift store CASHMERE and VELVET! That’s right – it’s the scrumptious textiles time of year!! (And I am SO into grey this fall – I want grey boots or booties, and grey patent platform pumps, and grey nail polish, and just everything in a rich, medium blue-grey – I’ll even take heathered grey if I have to! To assuage this urgent need, I have purchased….the nail polish. And some eyeshadow called “Dove”. We’ll see where that takes us. Although I bet I could talk my husband into buying me grey booties, just because of the name. Hehe.)
I have some new weaves for your enjoyment (and mine, let’s be honest, I’m forever trying them out), namely the Persian and the European 4-in-1, and the Denver Bead Show is coming to town – always the high point of my season.
In the spirit of the season (cabin fever season, that is), I have purchased a 4 drawer filing cabinet off Craig’s List, and am organizing, starting with anything on paper. My goal is to create a place for every little thing, and my mantra has become, “everything has a home.” Now when I see STUFF lying around, there is a 50% chance that I know EXACTLY where it should be, and I can put it there. I say 50% because I am still in the process of organizing. I tell you what though, I feel (50%) better about my clutter, and the prospect of living amongst it all winter long.It’s a good feeling.
If you feel like getting out, and enjoying our beautiful weather while we still have it, I will be at the Holly Berry House, at Rock Ledge Ranch, Sept. 18-20, then at the Art of Living Show at Rich Living Designs the following Saturday, Sept. 26.
Further shows will be posted here first, emailed out to my faithful mailing list next. Drop me a line if you’d like to be added to the list – I don’t sell or share your info, and I send out show updates 3-4 times a year. Thank so much, and happy harvest!!
Susan “Sam” Kaffine
ps let me know if you prefer the leafy backgrounds or the plain white – I could use the feedback. Thanks!!
posted 2009 Apr by Sam Kaffine
Hi y’all. I am participating in some pretty exciting art shows and festivals this summer –
May 22-26 Downtown Denver Arts Festival (www.DowntownDenverArtsFestival.com)
May 30-June 3 ACRE, Las Vegas, NV ( www.acrelasvegas.com)
June 26-28 Vail Arts Festival, Vail, CO (www.vailartsfestival.com)
July 18-19 Evergreen Summerfest ( www.evergreenarts.org/summerfest2009.htm)
I have a few more shows that I’d like to attend, notably the Commonwheel Artist Festival in Manitou in September, and the Mountain Artists Festival in Woodland Park, CO in August. I suppose I should go ahead and APPLY if I actually want to participate, huh? I’ll let you know if I get accepted.
If you know of or especially enjoy attending any art fairs or festivals in your area, please drop me a line. There are so many festivals that I only hear about after they’re done, or the day they happen!
Thanks, and I hope to see you at one of these fabulous shows!!
Susan (Sam) Kaffine
July - where has the time gone?
posted 2009 Apr by Sam Kaffine
WOW – not only is it July, but I guess I missed a few months in there – haven’t posted in awhile. Oops. Well, the Vail Arts Festival was GGGGReat – met some absolutely wonderful people, made a few sales, made a few friends. A wonderful experience, and gorgeous!?! Plus you couldn’t find a bad meal there – even the take-out was amazing. The Las Vegas show for me was more of an educational experience than profitable. I learned a lot, though, and took notes. Tomorrow is the Summerfest, so you know I have plenty to do, but I just wanted to check in and say thanks for reading – I’ll write more when I have the time.
posted 2009 Apr by Sam Kaffine
Well, how is YOUR spring going? Mine is, well, abundant. So far this month I have spent a(nother) week in Santa Fe – I was the “Nutha Mutha” for my best friend’s 8 yr. old twins. Being a mom is scary!! All that responsibility – I swear I didn’t get one good night’s sleep – I kept worrying about oversleeping, what to cook for dinner the next night, what if I scar them psychologically, what if the solar panels blow over in the wind, or the dog runs away, or the mice get out of the cage, or…you get the picture. I think probably you get used to it, and sleep, eventually, but as a single person, or “nonMom”, I just never realized the depth of the worry. It must be like the Taos hum – always present to one degree or another, but ignored for the sake of sanity. Or maybe I just think too much – I’ve been told that.
Then I had a week at home, trying to “burglar-proof” it – the theft of my motorcycle last spring has impacted me negatively. My good friend Kati, who is a saint, came by to open and close drapes – she even left footprints in fresh snow so the house looked lived in! I felt so much better knowing she was looking after our house while I was in CA. I went for a week, to spend Easter with my family. It was amazing, especially because I always work myself into a froth before a family visit, dredging up the ghosts of conflicts past, and it’s NEVER as bad as I remember. I split wood with my dad, visited my grandmothers, played with my little niece, talked with my mom – it was the nicest Easter I’ve had in a long time. I got to see my sister’s new house – if you are in need of an excellent realtor in the Sacramento region, I highly recommend Kat Kelly. I just had a great time. I guess we’ve all spent enough time elbowing each other out of our respective spaces, that we know the boundaries now. Or maybe we’re just older and a little more patient with each other. Whatever the reason, I am nothing short of blessed.
What else, you ask? Well, I have signed up with Wholesalecrafts.com – Sterling Bliss will be represented there for wholesale purchase the globe over – I’m also doing the wholesale show in Las Vegas in June – verrry exciting! And I was accepted to the Vail Fine Arts Festival, and on standby for the Telluride Festival. I’ll post show dates on my website here when they’re finalized.
Any thoughts, ideas or comments? I’d love to hear from you – it’s somehow easier to speak when you know someone is listening.
One last thought here on my side. I’ve been thinking about faith. I responded to a post to the Ganoskin blog from someone who was taking a leap of faith in their business, and I wrote (for my benefit as well as hers) that if taking the leap, to follow your heart, were easy, everyone would do it and it would be commonplace. But it isn’t. Because it’s difficult, and it’s scary. I have noticed that the people who make it big, who get rich, who invent things, who make a name for themselves – they’re the ones who don’t quit. They take the big risk, and they pick themselves up if (when) they get knocked down, and they try again. Yeah, we’ve all heard this before. But, you know, you never read that people on their deathbeds wish that they’d been more cautious. So maybe that’s something we could all hear again, and again. Until it sinks in, and we ALL follow our dreams, and support each other in that scariness. It’s like spring in the Rockies, you know. I am TIRED of snow, and hail, and more snow, and it seems like buds and sunshine will NEVER come – except that somewhere under that heavy white stuff, little green spears are already stubbornly inching towards the sun. They have faith that the snow will melt, that the sun will shine, that the world has everything they require to fulfill their life’s mission. I guess I can aspire to the same faith that a blade of grass has.
Happy Spring, and Blessings in your journey.
Susan (Sam) Kaffine
And....it's March already!
posted 2009 Mar by Sam Kaffine
Well, here we are, at the cusp of spring already. Winter didn’t seem as endless for me this year – perhaps because while it was cold, it didn’t snow all that much, or perhaps because I had an indoor job this winter – that’ll take the edge off, I tell you what!! No chain-saw cutting in the snow, no Camelback frozen solid, no numb ass, well, apart from those long, arduous days making beautiful jewelry, NCIS on in the background, my husband coming in every few hours to kiss me on the forehead. Yeah, I love my new life. Unfortunately, my learning curve has been steep, and while I am oodles ahead of where I WAS, I am not yet where I wish to be. So soon I shall be looking for a part-time job, to bolster his retirement check, to contribute something financial to our lives together. I’m bummed but not broken, you could say. By this time next year, I plan to be a fully self-sufficient jeweler, answerable to no one but you, my customer.
On the YAY!! side, I did speak to a few places in Santa Fe and in Taos when I went visiting last month, and I have a few more venues. Crown Jewels in Santa Fe is a little piece of wonderland – enter this establishment and you are immediately encouraged to don a tiara – how cool is that I LOVE this shop, LOVE the owner Shanna and very much look forward to seeing my jewelry selling like hotcakes there. I sold a few bracelets to Emily Ruffin’s shop in Taos – she called me yesterday to say she may have an order for another, which is just cool-diddly-awesome (my usual expressions of enthusiasm, left over from 8 years of fighting fire and hanging w/ the guys, tend to look somewhat crass in print, so we are exploring new avenues of expression :) – the other shop which really impressed me in Taos has a two page WAITING LIST of jewelers wanting to be represented. All I could do was say meekly “thank you”, and “please add me to the list”. Someday – I guess I have something to look forward to there, huh? Someone here in town mentioned Wholesalecrafts.com to me – I am TOTALLY going to apply for admission there – and do the Las Vegas wholesale show – cross your fingers for me. Could be the big time! And then there is Donalee Designs in WI - I met her in the fall and she asked for some things on consignment for this spring, so I do have work to do, sales to make, and hope to be had. I’ll keep you informed – in the meantime, it’s time to go make stuff! Look for some new bracelets next week, and think of Sterling Bliss for you gift-giving needs, your wedding parties, your presents-to-self – I’m here for your custom jewelry needs!
ps – web links to new venues to appear shortly. Write me with any ideas, requests, or funnies that tickle you – Sam