Damn right.

In the fall of 1993, I started college and became friends with Marianne Brown.  Through Marianne, I was introduced to many things that would become mainstays of my adult life — art galleries, thrift stores, and jewelry making.  She helped form my concept of joy and she is a huge part of who I am today.  She once made me laugh until I peed.  Under Marianne’s direction, I first held a pair of jewelry pliers and put beads on a string.  I recall that I had given her some old costume jewelry of my mom’s and those components came back to me over and over again having been re-purposed into new creations.

Marianne has an endlessly creative mind.  She is true artist.  She is an artist in a way that I am not — she cannot stop being an artist, she cannot stop being creative.  She cannot stop being who she is.  I admire that more than she’ll ever know.  Her soul positively glows with the need to sculpt, draw, paste, string, or otherwise give birth to things that did not previously exist.

Her artwork lives somewhere in the neighborhood of folk art but with an edge.  When she makes a piece depicting a face — human or angel — I find that I can’t look away.

Today, she is Marianne Clouser, mother of two, and continues to meet life with both bravery and style that, frankly, puts others to shame.  Today, I am sorry to report that she is also very sick.  While I am very far away, my heart and soul are with her.

She told me on the phone, “My plan is to live.”  Do you hear that Universe?

Damn right.

Marianne Clouser - looking fabulous.

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Herkimer and Rivet Ring

As I have mentioned, I am in the process of learning metal work and to make jewelry.  I’ve been taking classes at Scintillant Studio for about a year.  Scintillant, which is in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco, is run by the fascinating Adam Clark.  I began my education at Scintillant with a beginner’s class taught by Aimee Golant, who is incredibly talented and a great teacher.  Since then, I’ve taken Adam’s class, which is largely an independent study style, about three times.  I am pretty sure that there isn’t anything that Adam doesn’t know — seriously, bring up just about any topic.

This is my most recently completed project from Scintillant:

The stone is a Herkimer diamond.  I cut the band and the prongs out of a continuous sheet of silver and the prongs were folded up to hold the stone.  The band is closed with a copper rivet.  It was a challenge but allowed me to practice some new skills — like riveting.  But, it was a ton of fun to make and I’ve enjoyed wearing it.

Brass and Silver Cloudburst Earrings

Cloudburst Earrings - by Noelle Powell

These little guys are very familiar items to anyone who knows me.  I made them myself and, ever since their creation a couple months ago, I have worn them frequently.  To an experienced metalsmith they are very simple pieces to fabricate.  For me, not so much.  I sketched out a design that was small and would require some tiny torch work specifically to have a reason to experiment with that skill.

The bottom of each earring, the “cloud,” was simply cut out of brass.  As I have worn these, the brass has turned several different shades.  I haven’t polished them and I just let them go until they finally landed at the patina you see today. When I cut out the brass, I left little tabs which were then looped over and the ends soldered down. Thus, the tubes were made that the earring wire goes through.

The earring wires are silver, of course, and they gave me the chance to practice using the torch to ball the silver.  On these, a good eye would notice that the silver is a bit pitted, which, as I understand from my teacher, means that I let the torch stay on the metal just a nanosecond longer than I should have.  Practice, practice.

What was I thinking when I designed them?  I was trying to achieve that casual functionality that I appreciate in jewelry.  The functional component (the earring wire) as design element.  I wanted to create something that worked with negative space and that had some movement.  In the end, I really like them but I think it could be done better.  I intend to make another version in the future with, perhaps, a focal point that has a more fluid shape.

Creekbed Ring

This is one of my own creations.  I made it by the lost-wax casting method and the small aquamarine cabochon was added to the finished piece.   The design is meant to be an abstract rendering of the stones at the bottom of a creekbed.  I like the idea of mixing organic shapes and themes with cleaner, geometric angles.  I guess I imagine a piece of a natural scene removed and fashioned into a new item with angles, sides, and frames.

It was cast with largely pure silver but some old sterling silver jewelry was melted in as well — making the ring less the 99% pure but more pure than sterling.   It is my hope to offer this piece for sale in the future.  At the moment, I am still in the process of building a collection.