Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Very Productive Visit!

I recently had an appointment with a potential new place to sell my jewelry. When I got the address, I kept thinking it sounded familiar. No wonder. It was the first location of my retail saddlery business. Duh. So, being the directionally challenged loser that I am, for once, I knew where I was headed.

I have to admit, I wasn't sure if my jewelry would be a good fit. The name gave me pause as it's very deceiving; "Consignment Boutique". Hmmmm. . .

But WOW. What a surprise! The shop is lovely. Not only is it very tastefully decorated, but the merchandise is GORGEOUS! There is designer clothing and accessories, pampering beauty supplies, paintings and home decor, and jewelry. Everything is first class, top quality, and the items that are second hand are in like-new condition. I was shown some beautiful new items that the ladies have imported from Europe. Other exciting things are yet on order, too.

I met with the shop owners Marilyn Naylor and Sheila Ralph and was able to show them my jewelry. I normally keep all my inventory in a salesman's case so I took it all in with me. I thought they might pick a few pieces out and that, would be that. I'm very excited and pleased to say that they liked my jewelry and took almost ALL that I had!

I'd spread my jewelry on the counter for Marilyn and Sheila to review, and was happy that several customers walked over and admired it. I must add here that the store was JUMPIN'! The entire time I was there, the shop had customers - which in this economy is something! And we're not talking about a junky, second-hand store, we're talkin' high class BOUTIQUE! Yet, the prices are very reasonable. I was very, very impressed.

While I was there, a woman came up and asked if she could take a photograph of Marilyn and me looking over my jewelry on the counter. It turns out that she was there to interview the ladies for "Talk Loudoun". It's an e-zine that promotes the community in Loudoun County, Virginia.

I have to guess that my picture may be published in the e-zine. Once Marilyn introduced us, I had the opportunity to tell the reporter how I'd met Marilyn (through the Round Hill Arts Center). Well, one thing lead to another and the woman was quite excited to learn about all my various connections; especially about RHAC, and the Gateway Gallery (the new co-op) . So, I may be getting a phone call for more information and possibly an interview.

I feel very honored that the Consignment Boutique has chosen to carry my jewelry. I noticed that I'm in with some great company too. My friends Mary Kenesson and Katie Stidley had some of their jewelry in there as well. Which, I feel I must put a plug in here, that they are both teaching jewelry classes at the Round Hill Arts Center.

Especially with the holidays looming over us, the merchandise is definitely worth checking out. I promise you, you will find some perfect gifts for friends and family, and probably one or two things for yourself!

Life in the Too-Fast Lane
Or dreams of the overworked

Wow. The last several months have been crazy. I literally feel as if I've been buried alive. There's just too much going on!

It seems as if there's something pressing every day, and sometimes I get double and triple booked on things. In addition to my home duties, there's running my daughter to school, gymnastics and piano lessons, my full time business, my father has been in the hospital for weeks, I was accepted on to the board of the Round Hill Arts Center, I've been working like crazy to get the artists co-op off the ground, then there was my cable interview, I've a commission I'm trying to work on, I'd also been prepping for a consignment interview with a potential new shop to sell my jewelry, and I agreed to make 21 charms for a SATeam exchange. Oh yes, and a couple of Etsy sales to ship out (but no complaints there!)

Whew. I'm ready for a vacation. My six year old keeps saying she wants to go to Hawaii, of all places, but that sounds great to me!

While a trip to Hawaii would be lovely, it just ain't gonna happen. Actually, I really, REALLY would like to go to Arizona this February to go to the Tucson Gem Shows, but mostly I'd like to attend the Rio Grande Catalog in Motion (see the video below).

*sigh* No Hawaii or Tucson for me. Maybe one of these days I'll make it to King of Prussia and attend a Interweave Bead & Wire Fest. I notice there's one coming up in April of next year. Oh well, that's not likely to happen either.

I do have more jewelry classes lined up to teach in December and January. I'm looking forward to those, but I have to wonder if it's just too much?

Oh NO! I've completely forgotten that it's almost Christmas!!

I KNEW I'd forgotten something! So, now we add shopping to the list.
Thank goodness for the Internet!

Friday, November 27, 2009

My (cable) Television Debute

Imagine my surprise when I received a telephone call from Judy Sheehan of the Artscape Cable show inviting me to be a guest. She asked me to come speak with her about my Wire Jewelry classes and about the Round Hill Arts Center. After I picked my jaw off the table, I told her I'd love to! Ms. Sheehan asked me to bring along something to demonstrate as we spoke.

Everyone I told about the upcoming interview asked me when and where it would air. Not knowing, I called the studio and asked. I was told it would repeat throughout the month of January and part of February on the local (Ashburn?) cable network. Everyone then encouraged me to try and get a copy of the interview from the studio.

So on Monday, November 23rd, I was to drive into Ashburn to the Comcast Cable Studio. I have to admit, I was pretty nervous. That morning, Ms. Sheehan called to remind me of the interview. As if I'd forget! I asked her was was best to wear - would I be seen from the waist up or full body? She said we'd be viewed from the waist up, and she was planning on wearing jeans, so I could as well. Whew. I decided to wear a nice shirt and tailored jacket over my jeans, and of course, wore jewelry that I'd made. I wore the new copper and sterling flower pin that I'd just finished and the heavy copper bracelet I'd made out of 1/4" pipe. I topped those off with my pounded penny earrings.

As nervous as I was, I gave myself plenty of time to arrive. Good thing. I did get lost briefly. I arrived with some time to spare. I met the director, and as I was to be the first guest at 3:00, he showed me to a break room to wait for our hostess. He asked me what I'd brought with me and verified my personal details such as name spelling, web address etc. He explained briefly to me how the interview would go. He reminded me that the show wouldn't air until the first of the year, so not to make any references to Thanksgiving or Christmas. I then asked him about getting a copy of the interview and he said to talk to him after the taping. He then went off to do important studio things. Finally, at almost 3:50, Judy arrived, having had some sort of emergency at home. Needless to say, the waiting had made me nervous as a cat.

The director collected me from the break room and we went into the recording studio. Bright lights and large television cameras were aimed at a "stage" consisting of two chairs with a small table between. Ms. Sheehan came in and introduced herself and I was a bit dismayed. She wasn't wearing jeans, but a lovely - what looked like a cocktail - dress. Oh great!

Before the taping, she asked me several questions about myself and made notes. As I sat there fidgeting (should I cross my hands in my lap, or should I put them on the arms of the chair? Is my hair okay? Will the camera show my jeans? Should I cross my ankles or keep my feet flat? Oh, why didn't I check my hair and makeup while I just sat in that break room??) I could see the director in the glass booth. He appeared to be giving directions to the two camera men in the studio with us. One of the men seemed more important and he had on a head set on that the director was giving instructions through.

The lights were pretty bright in the studio, and I couldn't see the second camera man very well. As Ms. Sheehan sat studying her notes the camera men adjusted camera angles and hooked up my microphone. We did some sound tests and once the director was satisfied, they did the countdown and we started. Judy introduced me and asked me the first question. I'd just started my answer when the headphone camera men stopped us. Evidently, the director noticed some sort of problem, and wanted to start over. Eek!

When Judy started again, she kept stumbling over her words, so we had to start two or three more times. To be honest, by that time, I don't know whether I did well or not. I was so nervous throughout the interview. I was told I'd have a total of 8 minutes. I'd felt like we were pretty rushed to get though it all. I was asked several questions, then we "broke" and I set up the demo I'd brought. I think they said I had two minutes for my demo, so I was a little panicked to rush through it. The next thing I knew, the headset camera man thrust my briefcase and my purse into my hands, unplugged my microphone and pushed me out the door. I stood in the hallway a moment a bit dazed and realized it was time to leave. As I headed out the door, the director stopped me and gave me a form to fill out and to return with $20 to get a copy of the interview. I asked him if it seemed to have gone well and he said "yes, yes, thank you" and off he went. As I left, I saw them rushing some woman into the studio. I imagine she was the next guest. And so, the show goes on!

Now, I just need to order my copy of the interview, and hope I don't look as foolish as I felt. I guess Andy Warhol was right. Everyone has their 15 minutes of fame - or in my case, 8 minutes. Who knows? I could come across brilliantly, and get a lot of students from the broadcasts.

Hey. It could happen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Taking a Scratch at Scrimsaw

A while back I'd seen an artist's work that I was really impressed by. She had incorporated real Ivory into her metal work, and I was intrigued. Knowing the ban on Ivory, I wondered how it could be used. I did some research and found all sorts of interesting things. Did you know that while ivory was outlawed in the 1980's, you can use pre-embargo ivory in things?

So, I searched around for ivory, and finally found some old ivory piano keys for sale. I learned in my research that you can tell if a piano has real ivory by looking for two pieces on top of the keys. There's a strip next to the black keys and then a separate one for where you place your fingers. Fake ivory (plastic) covers the entire key top in an "L".

Once I received my piano keys, I ended up shelving them due to lack of time to piddle with them. I recently pulled them out and wondered what to do. I was afraid to do anything for fear of damaging, thus wasting the ivory. My husband, Chris, told me to go ahead and sacrifice a piece; play with it with the intention of "killing" it. That broke my stalemate and allowed me to work with it.

The most obvious thing was to attempt Scrimshaw. Knowing almost zilch about it, I did what I always do, dove into research. I found out all sorts of interesting things about Scrimshaw, too. Did you know that is one of the very few indigenous American crafts? Practiced for centuries by the Inuit and other native groups along the Northwest Coast, it was adopted by the Yankee whalemen of the early 1800's. The name Scrimshaw roughly means "idle time". That's evidently what sailors had a lot of on the ships, and used what they also had a lot of ... Whale bone. They scratched images onto the bone and then applied ink into the scratches to bring out the image. I found that Scrimshaw became popular because President John F. Kennedy was an avid collector. There are all sorts of interesting things to know. Here is a good source to read more about Scrimshaw's history.

I learned that you can use a pin or an old compass to start, and that's just what I did. It turned out that I even had an ancient bottle of ink buried in a box of art supplies. Of course, the first image I'd attempt would be a horse. The end result is TINY as you can see in the photo below. The sacrifice piece was one of the very narrow strips of the piano ivory; one of the key tops that ran next to the black key (which was probably made of Ebony).

Once I make some more pieces, I'll post the photos here. Hopefully, I'll get some things incorporated in to some jewelry to sell on Etsy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

SATeam Wrist Candy Holiday Giveaway

The SATeam Wrist Candy Holiday Giveaway has begun!!

I belong to the Starving Jewelry Artists Etsy Street Team (SATeam). It's a group of jewelry artists that all have an Etsy shop. It's a way for us to help promote each other and hopefully get sales!

I also belong to the WHOA Team, which is a group of Equestrian Artists, each of which does some sort of artwork/jewelry that's specifically HORSE related. I'll have to do a blog on that group sometime.

Not long ago, the SATeam decided to come up with a Christmas/Holiday promotion, and asked anyone interested to contribute a charm for a bracelet they would assemble and GIVE AWAY!! I contributed two charms.

One of which is shown in the photo above, front and center! That sterling Christmas tree right in the middle, is one I made! I can't believe that one of my charms made the center of one of the promo shots... I also made a cute little gingerbread fella, but I don't know where he got to. Probably on the other side of the bracelet...

Anyway, I wanted to help promote the Bracelet Giveaway, and announce my sale, too. During this event, I'm offering a 15% discount on anything in my Etsy store. So, without further ado, here's the promotion information:

The Starving Artists Etsy Street Team is a having a sale – this isn't a normal sale, but a super DUPER sale, so if you're planning your Christmas shopping – now is the time to get organised and get in early!

Several members of SATeam put their talent together to create this beautiful holiday themed charm bracelet, and it's looking for a good home on the wrist of one of our fabulous customers.

Every time you purchase an item from one of the participating stores, the participating shop owner will put your name into the draw to win this stunner.

You might even find some special deals at some of these participating stores:
The sale started today and runs until December 6, 2009, so on your mark, get set, and GO! Enter early and often! Items included in this sale can also be found by searching SATEAMWRIST.

So, avoid the stores and the last minute rush – you KNOW that online shopping is now the best way to organise your Christmas list. Get organised early and visit you won't be disappointed and as an added bonus, with each purchase, you go into a drawing to win this stunning bracelet.

Featuring artisan handmade creations by the Etsy Starving Artists Jewelry team. SATeam members create handcrafted jewelry and beads. More information about our team and its current etsy shop owner members can be found at

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Northern Virginia Artists CoOp

With the move and reorganization of the RHAC, it had been decided that they wanted to concentrate their efforts on their well run art center and not have a gallery/gift shop as well. Which makes sense to me. The are all about education, not retail ventures. They'd suggested that the artists and consignors from the old gallery start a cooperative. RHAC has very kindly agreed to help in any way, and would like it to still be a part of the RHAC family.

Well, for the last several weeks a bunch of artists (a group made up of some RHAC's teachers, board members, consignors from the old gallery and local artisans) have been attempting to start an Artists Cooperative. We'd gotten a bit of a rocky start - a room full of self assured, creative people, each with an opinion... well, it was like herding cats. But, over the last several weeks, a core of people have put their heads together and have really made some progress!

It's been a very interesting process so far. We've had to work up financial information, consider space requirements and leasing options, creating standard operating procedures and by-laws. Whew! The RHAC have been VERY supportive so far and would like us to take adjoining space to their new facility at the "Hill High Plaza". It looks like it will be a very good joint venture.

The progression being made is exciting!! Please check us out on and watch us grow! Especially if you are an artist in the Northern Virgina area, we'd love your input AND participation. If interested, now is the time to get involved, because there will be a limited membership.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Heavy Copper Cuff on Etsy

Here is one of my latest postings to Etsy. This piece was started during the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour this past summer. I was set up at the Round Hill Arts Center since my studio isn't finished yet. I had a booth of my jewelry for sale and was doing metal smithing demonstrations.

This was a really nice HEAVY piece of copper that worked perfectly for doing demonstrations of annealing and shaping metal. I kept bending it, re-firing it and just playing with it. All of a sudden the design just sort of formed on it's own!

Heavy Copper Cuff Bracelet

This is one chunky cuff bracelet! It's made out of solid 6 gauge Copper wire giving this cuff some real heft! The copper was soldered together into a sinuous curved design. The bracelet was then patinated and sealed with an archival wax to protect the finish and retard oxidation.

The center focal curves are 2" at the widest point, and the arms of the cuff turn in opposite directions to easily slip on your wrist.

This bracelet is totally adjustable, fitting either a man or a woman. Give me your wrist measurement at purchase and I'll size it accordingly.

Check out my Esty shop for more photos of this and other jewelry items. I'm hoping to keep adding new pieces to my Etsy shop every couple of days...

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Happy Birthday Money Clip

Being a jewelry artist is great when it comes time to give a girl friend a gift. Most of my friends are happy to get something I've made for them. Unfortunately, I'm still stuck when it comes to guy gifts. Most of my male friends wouldn't be too excited to receive jewelry.

A good friend of mine had a birthday coming up and I wanted to give him something he'd hopefully like and use. I came up with the idea of a money clip with an equestrian theme. Mike breeds and trains horses, so usually anything horse related is a hit.

I came up with this horse head design, and made it out of sterling silver sheet metal. It's all hand sawn and soldered. I was tickled to finally be able to use my new logo stamp on the back.

I gave the money clip to him this past weekend and I think he liked it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Round Hill Arts Center Moving to New Location!

It's really starting to get exciting around here. Things seemed pretty glum when RHAC had to move from their old location. The director began to work very hard to come up with a new location. Wow! Did he ever hit pay dirt!

Locally, we have an old apple packing plant that's been housing an eclectic country store, deli and pie shop. Located right on a very major road, the place seems to do a brisk business. The location is fantastic. During the winter months, the store occasionally hosts a farmer's market that also brings a lot of folks in.

It turns out that the country store is using only a tiny portion of the warehouse space. The rest of the building has been sitting idle, just collecting stored junk. The landlord has decided to convert the remaining area into finished retail space along the lines of an upscale mini-mall. In addition to the Art Center, there's talk of space being rented by a vintner, a music shop and our artists' cooperative is working on getting a gallery in there too.

RHAC has signed a lease, and the construction has begun! I got to see the floor plan and then take a tour of the space under construction. The Art Center will be so much better off in the new location. It will have a modern pottery studio, class rooms and space to hold all sorts of events. They think they might even be open in November!!

Our co-op is working hard to get a gallery in there. The Round Hill Arts Center is really supporting our work and hopes that we'll get in there as part of the RHAC organization.

Here is a recent press release, check it out! I was even quoted in the release. Gosh. It almost makes me sound important:


If all goes according to plan, the Round Hill Arts Center will be established in a new home in the Hill High Orchards building before the holidays.

According to RHAC Executive Director Frank Naylor, the Center has signed a letter of intent for the new space, which will be behind the existing Hill High Country Store. The space will include a brand new state-of-the-art pottery studio, art studios for classes and room for a new gallery.

The Center has grown exponentially since its inception in 2000. Interim Board President Lisa Zimmer-Chu explained that over the summer, the Board of Directors made the decision to move from the Center’s original location in the Old Furniture Factory in Round Hill “in order to pursue a location that would better support the Center’s mission and continued growth.”

“The new location keeps us in Round Hill but with quality space designed to be an art center from the ground up with room to grow,” Naylor said. “It will meet code, be ADA accessible, and be more economical to operate.”

In addition, the Hill High Orchards location is in a high-traffic area, has ample paved parking, outside space with tables and a small lake to facilitate outside events and classes in season, Naylor added. “It is an exciting start,” he said.
The Board envisions and is working toward an artist supported co-operative gallery space that would be staffed by the artists themselves. “This will be the only artists’ co-op in western Loudoun County,” Zimmer-Chu said.

“In talking with other artists who’ve sold and worked with the Center, we’re all really excited about actively supporting and working with the Art Center board in their new location,” said Waterford fiber artist Mary Kenesson.

Local artist and member of the co-operative committee Meredith Hilt agreed, saying she is “really excited to see the Round Hill Arts Center expand its horizons and be able to offer so many more wonderful opportunities for artists and the community.”

While the Center’s primary focus will be on visual arts classes and the artists’ co-op, Zimmer-Chu said a variety of musical events, in keeping with the Center’s popular Bluegrass Jam Sessions at the Old Furniture Factory building, are being planned for the future.

The Center has already moved out of the Old Furniture Factory and expects to be operational in the Hill High Orchards location within 30-60 days. In the interim, arrangements have been made to hold classes in temporary off-site locations.

“As with all non-profits,” Zimmer-Chu said, “ongoing community support is critical, especially during transition periods.” The Center is encouraging continued community input, attendance at classes, volunteerism and tax-deductible financial donations.

The Round Hill Arts Center is a community-based and community-supported 501(c)3 nonprofit organization devoted to providing opportunities to explore the creative arts through classes, exhibits, musical events, artist meetings and more.

Friday, October 16, 2009

RHAC: Intro to Wire Jewelry Classes

I'd been approached by the Round Hill Arts Center to possibly teach some classes through them. Cool! I jumped at the chance, since it sounds like a lot of fun!

Since The Round Hill Arts Center is still in transition (they are in the process of moving to a new, FANTASTIC location which is not completed as yet), they've had to rent spaces to hold their current class offerings.

I contacted some of the people on my mailing list and there seemed to be a lot of interest. The classes are to start next weekend. I know there have been some sign-ups, but I have no idea how many as yet. I'm not sure what minimums are needed to make it worth renting the facility. So we'll see how this shapes up. Also, I've been told that the economy seems to be hitting the local art centers in the shape of lower class sign-ups. I know another teacher's classes were cancelled due to low enrollment. *glup*

Here's the information on my classes from their web site:

Introduction to Wire Jewelry
with Meredith Hilt

Saturdays October
24, November 7, November 21
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.,
Purcellville Community Center
$75 each class
(plus materials fee)

Registration discount if taking more than one class

Learn the basic wire jewelry techniques needed to design and create your own beautiful sterling and copper jewelry. These classes are designed for the beginner, or for those who want a refresher, to learn the correct way to tackle the basics. We will spend some time becoming acquainted with jewelry tools and wire. Then move on to making jump rings and links, clasps, wire charms, and various types of chain. Finishing techniques will also be covered. While learning these skills, you'll create several elements in each class resulting in jewelry to proudly wear home or give as gifts. Once you learn these techniques you'll be able to be move on to designing and making your own bracelets, earrings and necklaces!

These individual classes are designed to be progressive. But you can take one or all to advance your skills. Click here to register

I'll fill you in on how the classes progress. I hope they come to pass! I've already stocked up on supplies for the class. I've ordered sterling and copper wire, various beads and have created tools kits. I guess if worst comes to worst, I'll save them for future classes or else use them myself.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where's the Champagne?? Let's Launch this Ship!

"Meredith Hilt is a Virginia based artist who makes her home in the Blueridge Mountains. Although born in Virginia, Meredith's life has taken her through Europe, the United States and Asia. After graduating from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh (PA), she spent years in the trenches of graphic and web design. Meredith now paints, and creates unique jewelry for fun and pleasure. Her speciality is designing fine jewelry of precious metal and wire, using metal-smithing techniques. Her artwork can be found in boutiques and galleries in Virginia and Maryland."

Well, the above blurb is the commonly published Artist's Bio I use. But gosh, it's hard to sum up your life and artistic ambitions up in one paragraph!

In the past, my skilled abilities have mostly been devoted to two dimensional skills. Graphic design and paint are normally limited to canvas or paper, and the Internet to a flat screen. While I love to relax by painting (when I can) I find that my creative juices have been devoted exclusively to jewelry lately. I've discovered a whole new world of fulfillment! Where my artistic Muse was occasionally delinquent in the past, I'm now almost overwhelmed by jewelry ideas on a daily basis! I see possible jewelry pieces while looking at leaves, trivets and even cars! I've taken to carrying a sketch book with me to scratch down ideas as they pop into my head. Now, if I can only find the time to actually be able to produce them all!

I hope, with this blog, to be able to give some insight into my creative world and also to keep you up to date on things. I'll post about what I'm working on, my latest inspirations, my Etsy shop, upcoming classes and how my relationship is progressing with my Muse.