back from finnfest

i have made it home after spending nearly 6 days in duluth. i had initially hoped to post about finnfest at the end of each day, but being a "single parent" for the week {while my husband was in the bwca} quickly made that unrealistic. so i am now faced with a recap-post and i will try to keep it to a reasonable length. i'll start with this commercial that ran for finnfest ... to set the mood.
i wanted to give you an idea of what the language sounds like. i was proudly-surprised that my Finnish came back so fluidly. i was able to speak finnish with people quite easily and i can't tell you how wonderful it felt - both to remember, but also to see that look of pleasant surprise on my distant relatives' faces when they realize they can speak their own language to me ...within reason. so, finnfest started on wednesday night with an opening ceremony. each day of the fest was filled with seminars and presentations. the schedule was so full that many overlapped in order to get them all in to the 4 days. perhaps the most monumental event in the finnfest schedule was the presentation of an honorary doctorate degree to the President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen. it was a huge deal that she came to finnfest and i must admit that i was pretty overwhelmed with pride and the poignancy of the occasion when she walked in to the arena. my brother and i had no choice but to bring our kids with us and unfortunately, i couldn't tell you too much of what she said in her speech that morning. {note to self: stay home in lieu of bringing almost-three year old son to events that require you to sit still for more than 5 minutes.}
as great as it was to see the president of finland, the event on friday night was actually more FUN: the Midnight Sun MIDNIGHT RUN 5km is a running race that my siblings put on and it is in its 3rd year. it is normally run on the friday night nearest the summer solstice, but was pushed back this year to coincide with finnfest. it is run at the stroke of midnight and follows an out and back course along the boardwalk on lake superior. let me tell you, there is nothing like running at night - with 400 other people! my expectations of my performance were pretty low because i have been doing so many long slow runs in preparation for the twin cities marathon in october. not enough speed work to feel too confident about a 5km performance. BUT, i actually beat my time from last year by about 20 seconds! the other cool thing about the night is that our finnish relatives came out to run and walk it. my sister and i even convinced them to come and soak their legs in lake superior afterwards - nothing like a natural ice bath for your muscles!
this week really proved to be a reflective time for me. the imminent arrival of my friends from finland on august 10th {tiina, teemu and their son eeli will be living with us for 10 months} meeting my distant finnish relatives and being a part of finnfest this week have truly saturated my brain with strong cultural elements that have influenced my life from birth. this saturation along side the task of articulating the ideas and instincts within my work/jewelry has allowed me to make connections that go deeper and that are more meaningful than i could have anticipated. i believe there are times in one's life when we reach an "overlook" so-to-speak...one of those places along a scenic drive that allows you pull your car over to take in a breath-taking view. these overlooks appear when the setting is ripe for them and yet, i was taken by surprise with this one.

the "big deal" event for the Luonollisesti Suomalainen/Naturally Finnish exhibit was on thursday evening at the duluth art institute in the depot and there was a really great turn-out. exhibits are different than design shops or museum shops or trunk shows. and design is also different than art. there are common threads, but also wide open ravines between the two and while it was absolutely refreshing to be back in art exhibition space/context, it also illustrated for me how much my work has been affected by my architecture and design education and how far i have come since my first art-exhibit in the local coffee-shop at age 18.

the "secondary deal" for the exhibit was the young-artists panel discussion that was on saturday morning at the convention center where the rest of the seminars were taking place. the whole program was in a 45 minute slot and there were five of us {all female} so we each had about 5-6 minutes to show some slides of our work in order to have time for a few questions. i went last, which ended-up being a great place. i hadn't prepared what i was going to say, at all, but had been percolating for about 24 hours and had a rough-mental-draft. i touched briefly on the importance of learning the difference between being finnish and finnish-american during the year that i lived in oulu, finland. and then tried to articulate the root/base of my approach to art and design. i made the mistake of bringing-up a realization i had had just this week about the fact that i grew-up without knowing either of my grandmothers.

one of my grandmothers died of breast cancer less than a year before i was born and the other died of cancer shortly after i was born. i now see the important roles that my son's grandmothers play in his life - but it wasn't until i heard my aunt talk about her grandmother this week {to our relatives} that it really hit me {and it hit me like a ton of bricks right in that spot in your throat that makes you choke-up and feel like your eyes are on fire} - she talked of churning butter and spinning wool into yarn and speaking only finnish .... and it occurred to me that i never learned those 'craft' things that grandmother's pass on to their grand-daughters while the mothers are busy working/tending to the house. it is the grandmothers that passed traditions on to young girls and while my mother taught me how to sew at a very young age, i have been so compelled to learn hand-crafted skills like weaving and knitting and have revelled in the tactile qualities of fabrics and pottery and woodworking. i realized it was in part due to the lack of that influence in my life.

.... so, i had intended mention this internal pull toward the tactile qualities of materials and fabrics and artifacts that has been paired with a life-long exposure to the organization and 'control' of architecture & design. these forces have placed me in the middle of two distinct realms - which ultimately has defined the sensibilities in my work. ... i managed to get these ideas out - but only after i got all choked-up from thinking about my grandmas and had to take a couple breathes to gain control of my speech. ....... i mean, SERIOUSLY! i could not have felt more foolish, but what can you do? in the scheme of 6 minutes, it only lasted like 15-20 seconds and i did pull it together and it ended well. but i couldn't wait to freak-out to my sister, "can you believe i did that?!?!? uuuuggghhhh" {my brothers would say "so dramatic"}

we ended the week with a sunday evening bbq on the beach along park point in duluth to celebrate my brother's {february} wedding to his finnish bride, mimmu. some of the performers at finnfest are her friends and they came to play some music at the party. this is one of the traditional finnish folk songs that one of her friends sang. we all tried to sing and keep up with her ... it was fun trying! we decorated the tables with simple sticks and blue paper flowers thanks to dozi's tutorial. my mom cut them all and they were the perfect touch for the evening.

i am glad to be back home, and feel tired, but revitalized.


my first "review" per the Duluth News Tribune

you can find the article online here..... or read below:

News Tribune Staff Writer

“Luonnollisesti Suomalainen” means “naturally Finnish.” That is, the artists are Finnish by birth, so what they do is Finnish by nature. Also, Finnish artists tend to use nature. Both threads weave through the work on exhibit at the Duluth Art Institute through Aug. 24.

Four designers — ceramicists Lenore Lampi and Kristin Pavelka, glass artist Lynn Korhonen, and jeweller Tia Salmela Keobounpheng — show work. Lampi has done ceramic vessels that look as if they’re made of birchbark for many years. This set, called “Place Setting for the President of Finland,” would look wonderful on any table. The cups’ handles are perfect curls of bark, the glaze colors rich and natural.

Pavelka’s dishes seem uneven — her nice fat bowl is a pleasant form but the rest seem almost good. Korhonen’s glass platters suffer from “almost” as well: the forms are fine but the colors edge toward muddiness. But Keobounpheng’s necklaces pair disks of fine wood with bright plastic polka dots and pierced forms, and the warmth of the natural mates well with the glee of bright colors. Their exuberant size works, too.

Painters offer the most rewards here. Surrealism and magic hover over the work, even that of the masterful watercolorist and incisive realist John Salminen. But a Salminen painting can transform the teeming detail of ordinary life into a transfigured moment. His “San Francisco Lantern” takes a morning in that city and dwells radiantly on the qualities of light that emerge just after a fog has lifted.

Joyce Koskenmaki is another secret surrealist. She has two pencil drawings of stones and two paintings of the same subject. Her drawings ignore the weight of the stones. They say, “This is not a rock. This is the thought of a rock.” The paintings, by contrast, say, “This is the real experience of a rock,” their tender rich colors like those rocks look in sun — not like when you pull them out of your pocket and put them on the kitchen table, dull and almost colorless.

Scott Murphy’s work is confounding and wonderful. He’s a furiously skilled painter who doesn’t seem to mind being ridden by spirits who rant and complain, sing and coax. In “Eve and the CIA,” the mother of the world in a pair of tacky flag-striped shorts and a carnival Uncle Sam hat has the American empire carved on her naked back. But this is no political cartoon. It gives rise to associations like a pinball game, never at rest; the meaning is up to you. “New Money” is a little quieter, but still a restless allegory with no easy solution: the ancestors, swathed in a sepia mist of history, fronted by a sprightly, beautifully painted, feral weasel.

Space forbids covering all the works in this rich show. Virginia Maki’s theatrical paintings, Laura Ahola’s subtle small windows into a Paul Klee-like world, Cherie Sampson’s photos of herself cavorting naked in a Finnish bog, Natalie Salminen Rude’s snipped collages of a dreamy avian paradise, and Tiffany Besonen’s carved log nests — all are worth more than one look.

ANN KLEFSTAD covers arts and entertainment for the Duluth News Tribune.

.......i guess it is ok.......what do you think?

shop update

i've updated my shop with the obama pin and brooch. i've only added one each in inventory on my shop to gauge people's response .. but there are more to be had....


trunk show : a success

i had a great time at the trunk show last saturday. i met karin only 2 months ago at the walker jewelry mart but i must say we are quickly becoming friends and she is a pleasure to be around {especially during the lunch-time lull when we snuck in some snl-videos online!} it was fun to be in her studio and to pretend for a day that i don't work in my basement. you can see the general layout of the space. my stuff was on the white wall on the left and karin's on the pink wall and on the right. i loved the way my necklaces looked hanging on the wall! it was a refreshing alternative to the table-only displays at previous shows, and actually reminded me of the exhibit at the Duluth Art Institute and how they displayed my work. {i just might start hanging some on the wall in my work space so that i can be visualy stimulated...}

the turn-out was for the show was good considering it is the middle of the summer and the sun was out. a few friends stopped by, including amanda {of eastvold custom} and anne {of anne's chit chat} pictured below. i put my camera away once the conversations started, so don't have pictures of everyone... but thank you beth, ryan, nicole and gabi for making your way over to see me! and thank you to all of the new people i met and who purchased some of my jewelry. i had a fantastic time!
i also wanted to include a snap-shot of some new pieces that i included in the show this time. they are an adaptation of my HOLLOW necklace and bracelet, but made out of polymer. a while back i discovered some places online that offer laser-cutting and immediately felt my heart drop ... natural defense mechanism, i guess. for several days i found myself really questioning what i was doing and what made my work different from everyone else who could have something laser cut. {doesn't really matter that i'm opperating the machine} well, it inspired me to think about my ideas/designs in a different material and i absolutely love the organic quality of these pieces. i opted to put them on loose chains instead of the neckwires, because it just seemed appropriate.
it is also ironic that karin was debuting some of her own laser-cut plastic jewelry {ordered from the site i just mentioned} and i loved to see the way that she used the tool. we had many people comment that our work compliments eachother really well, without really competing with eachother. a confirmation for me that a laser-cutter is one of many tools that designers and craftspeople use to make their own unique work. i like to think of it as a sewing machine.
i had a great conversation with willie willette {of willie willette works} at the end of the day saturday about the concept of art and ideas. he mentioned the old comment that people often make when seeing a piece of modern art or an abstract painting ... "i could do that." yes, you could, but you didn't. my work is my work because i thought to do it. and as long as i remind myself of that fact, i hope my heart will stay in the right place!
update: i should clarify ... willie willette did not say 'i could do that' ... we were actually discussing the notion that people in general say those things about pieces of work that appear to be clean and simple etc. when i brought up my own thoughts regarding tools & technology becoming accessible to the general public. he is a craftsman and has struggled with similar sorts of things. -- after reading martha's comment i realize my phrasing could be taken wrong. ;)


more new earrings

here are a couple other earrings that i will have at the trunk show tomorrow. the HOLLOW_jumbo and POMEGRANATE_earring. it has been fun to make larger scale earring options while working within the formal vocabulary of my current line. i was over at karin's studio at the northrup king building yesterday setting up for the show and am looking forward to spending the day with her tomorrow ... while {hopefully} seeing & meeting a bunch of new people. hope to see you!!



despite the fact that i finished the 27 mn_necklaces, the special order was not complete. a request for 3 pin-versions proved to be a very fun project in itself. i'm really excited about how it turned out and admit it has my mind spinning with ideas! proof of my new commitment to more brooches is the fact that i ordered a bunch of smaller boxes for them!
my first pin-endeavor after finishing the 3 special order pins was to adapt the OBAMA necklace into a pin for the male supporters out there.

i tested out 2 different sizes {both smaller than the necklace} - one that is more of a pin {appropriate for neckties or suit-lapels} and one that is more of a brooch. i can't decide which i like more....although the small one is so *cute*!!

i'm also really happy with the backing mechanisms. much cleaner than the one with the little 'butterfly-wings' that you see every where. mmmmm i love the adrenaline that comes with working on new things --- even if they are adaptations of an old idea.



i've been working on a handful of new things and plan to have them for purchase at the the show on the 19th at karin jacobson's studio. amoung them, some big and dangle earrings.


trunk show : july 19

i'll be joining karin jacobson for a trunk show in her studio at the northrup king building. you can find more info here

my friend jody in conneticut

sent me this picture of her wearing the obama necklace. {she looks so happy!} she gave one to her friend and apparently that friend has had a friend tell her it is "the most fashionable political statement they'd ever seen." .... thanks friend of a friend of a friend!