catalog model profile seven

After the Walker shoot, Paige and I were exhausted and a little overwhelmed. We kind of over-stimulated ourselves with the 2-waves of multiple models all packed-in to a few hours. But we learned a lot! We had our last shoot scheduled for 2 weeks later - but as I was driving my son to my mother-in-law's house one morning, I started thinking ... about the progress we had made, the pieces we had shot and those that I needed to make sure to cover in our last shoot. The MATTI pieces were at the top of the list and suddenly I had an idea! Some of you (who've been reading for a while) may remember the history of MATTI necklace : last summer a group of my distant Finnish relatives came to Minnesota and my aunt Marlene asked me to design a piece of jewelry as a gift from their trip and the necklace (& pin) are the results. I named the pieces MATTI after their/my family name on my father's mother's side of the family.
So, as I was driving that morning, it occurred to me that it might be nice to have my 70-year old Aunt model those pieces for me - because she was the one who commissioned me, because she is a Matti descendant, and because I think that she is one of many types of women who (I imagine) wear my jewelry.
When I called to ask her if she would be willing to model, she was hesitant at first - probably for the same reasons I would be hesitant (because of the prescribed standard of "beauty" that we associate with models) - but I hoped she was also honored to be the one wearing the family jewelry in my catalog...and of course she agreed to do it! So, this is Marlene. She is the one in our family who has kept an exceptional record of all of our distant relatives in Finland, as well as kept us all in contact with them.
For the shoot, we decided to keep it very simple. Just Marlene, at her home, with a strict, pre-determined number of pieces (I didn't even bring back-ups to the shoot) ... and I would have to say that it was the smoothest shoot we did of the entire project. We were like a well-oiled machine, we were there for about 2 hours and that included a nice snack after the shoot of banana bread and iced-tea. It felt so good to have it go so well!
The house that you see in the shots is actually the very first house that my father designed - over 30 years ago - for his sister (Marlene) & her husband Ernie (whose hands you see in this shot of the the WOOD bracelets on my wrist) and they still live there today. Somehow, the inclusion of my father's architecture allows me to pay tribute to the role that he has played/continues to play in my design career.
I really could not be happier with the photographs from this shoot. Thank you so much Marlene!
All photos by: Paige DeWees

catalog model profile five & six

One day last spring, after Paige and I had met a handful of times to define the scope of our project, she called me. "I just did something I NEVER do...." She had been shopping at Target and had noticed 2 women in the shoe department that she described as "stunning" and because she never does this sort of thing, she had to circle the aisle where they were about 5 times before daring to approach them. She told them about our project, said she'd love to have them model for us, but to think about it and call her if they were up for it. There was a glimmer, of that adrenaline-rush that you get from putting yourself out there, present in Paige's voice even over the phone.

One thing led to another and Betsy and her grand-daughter Latilah became our second-round of models at the Walker shoot. I had never met them, but within minutes we were chatting-up a storm, as if I'd known them for years. Betsy told us stories of how the timing of this project fell in line with another recent spot of modeling. Latilah told us about her pregnancy and the baby-name she had picked-out. We laughed a lot and had so much fun!
Paige and I had previously decided that we'd try to change the scenery/feel of the this second shoot, particularly because we were at the same location. We had asked the models to bring a couple changes of clothing, but we ended-up using what they arrived in.
My stomach does flips when I see the Drape earrings in purple-heart wood next to Betsy's soft purple-checked dress.
And when I see her hair paired with the breath-taking concrete work at the Walker (this is the entrance to the underground parking garage) .....
And the rolling topography of my TOPO necklace with Latilah's belly and the rolling green grass.
All of these things are beautiful, subtle connections that we noticed and that Paige translated like magic - but the one thing that she captured, that cannot be mistaken, is the love between these two. The look in Latilah's eyes in this photograph captures the loving energy that bounced back and forth between them the entire time we were together. You can't make that up and often it is even hard to capture ... but there it is. Wow.


catalog model profile four

This is Connie. Connie was scheduled in the first "wave" of models for the Walker shoot. She is someone that Paige has known for a few years and I met her for the first time at that day. She was full of positive/playful energy and you can see it in the photographs of her. She was ON that day, ready to be a model and I can't thank her enough for that!
I love so many of the photos of her and Mohannad and this one that I chose to print as a postcard for my trunk show preview party invitations and for continued promotion of my work. But, I also love the photos of just her.
Paige had told me that Connie worked as a cashier for Cub Foods in Fridley and so you can imagine my surprise when I walked into the Cub that I frequent (not in Fridley) and found Connie standing there in the Self-Checkout aisle. We made eye contact and it was as if you could see little gears clicking back in our brains to all the times we had seen each other before technically meeting eachother at the photoshoot. Months and months of encounters. (She's seen me with my son, my friends from Finland, my husband...) We have many more meetings to look forward to in the future.
In fact I've just come from visiting her this morning at the store. I went to drop off these temporary business cards that I whipped-up last night for her. She is starting a small box-lunch business and I hear she makes a mean peach-cobbler. I can't wait to try it for myself!
Thank you, Connie!
all photographs by: Paige DeWees
(snapshot of cards by me)


catalog model profile three

This is Mohannad. I don't even know where to begin telling you about him. I first met him close to 10 years ago, when he was a roommate of a friend of my sister-in-law. I hadn't seen him for at least 4 years when he came to our house for a bbq on Memorial Day this year. It was a pleasure to see him again - and I had almost forgotten the wonderfully fresh perspective he brings to conversations, the honesty and forth-right nature that he possesses, and the depth of vocabulary and artful mix of words that he uses. I think it comes from the fact that English is not his mother tongue -- in fact he speaks with a British accent because he started learning English at the age of 3 from a tutor in Saudi Arabia who spoke Oxford English. (yes, it all makes sense now!) He was born in Pakistan (moved to Saudi Arabia) and came to Minnesota (Mankato) to go to college and is still here. (I hope I got all of the history right.)

So, he showed up at our house on Memorial Day and was full of stories about an independent film that he was working on. He is a producer and the lead actor in the movie, which completed filming in August and is currently in post-production. But that day, he also could not stop beaming about his new love - this vintage Mercedes. I won't try to tell you about the make/model because it all just went over my head - but he let Souliyahn take it for a spin, and I got to sit in the front seat - and let me just say that it was a lot of fun to cruise down the highway with the windows open. As Mohannad says,"She is a high-performance vehicle" .....
The night of our first photoshoot, Paige, Phon, Souliyahn and I were sitting down to a tasty stew and one thing led to another and I ended-up calling Mohannad to see if he would let us use his car for our next shoot. He said he would love to support me in that way and of course.
So, he arrived to the second shoot (the one with Beverly) right from work (he's a teacher at Dunwoody)and Paige thought that in addition to the car, it would be fun to add Mohannad as model in some of the shots - and I am so glad she did, because I think he brings something entirely fresh to the mix. He is a natural in front of the camera.

I hadn't spoken to Mohannad much after the shoot because I knew that he was in the middle of filming. But I shared some texts with him on a random day off .... and he informed me that he had crashed the car. Yes. This car! He had rear-ended a big truck of some kind and the whole front-end was smashed-up. NO WAY! Can't even imagine it, and I don't have to, because I can look at it fully intact. These photographs are a time capsule of sorts. Lovely timing!
Thank you Mohannad! For the car and for you.
All photos by: Paige DeWees


catalog model profile two

This is Beverly. I met Beverly after our first shoot with Phon and about a week before our second scheduled shoot. My husband had invited a small group of neighbors to our house for a light dinner before heading over to the grand re-opening of the Capri Theater in North Minneapolis. Beverly and her husband Bill were among the group that came for dinner. I took Beverly on a tour of our garden, we chit-chatted about numerous things before dinner.
That night as I was getting ready for bed, I asked Souliyahn if it would be weird if I asked Beverly if she'd want to model for our project. She had a beautiful energy about her, a wonderful smile, and she carried herself in a way that was wise. He said I should call her. A day or two later we received a thank you note from them and I decided to go for it. She was my neighbor, after all. I got ahold of her right away and she was free and willing! Perfect.

At the (second) photo shoot, we had scheduled multiple models and arranged for them to come in 2 'waves' so that we only took a couple hours of each person's time. I was about to introduce Beverly to one of the other models and before I could get my words out they held their had out to her and said something like "Oh, I have admired your work from afar for quite some time." (I had no idea, but I do now.) A friend of mine who works doing fund-raising for the arts asked me at the trunk show, "How'd you get Beverly Cottman to be your model? She's like Arts Royalty." Perhaps I should be embarrassed that I did not know who she was, or all of the art/work that she has done in her career and in our community - but I'm not. I think this is but one of many magical relevancies that simply happened during this project. In each shoot, and with each person, there is something more than the surface shows. There is meaning and there are ties to something bigger than simply my jewelry. And collectively they tell a story about this place that we live: Minneapolis: Minnesota. It reveals depth - even if I'm the only one who knows all of the connections.
Thank you, Beverly!
all photos by: Paige DeWees

catalog model profile one

Over the next several posts, I will be featuring some of the people involved in the catalog/book project.
This is Phon - a total city-girl. She works in downtown Minneapolis for a major bank and I can't even wrap my mind around the work that she does. It involves processing/testing projects & data. She is a very social person and loves spending time with friends and family.
Despite being extremely fashionable when it comes to clothes and shoes and hair-dos -- she very rarely wears jewelry (even engagement rings!) I was hoping these photographs might convince her that she SHOULD wear more jewelry, but I'm afraid old habits might die hard. Only time will tell....
Her dog is named Charlie and he behaved (and performed!) so well during this photo shoot that he should get a medal!
I have known Phon for 10 years. She is my husband's sister, my sister-in-law, and god-mother to my son. She lives 1 house down from us and the majority of these photos were taken in/around my backyard, driveway and alley. Thank you, Phon!
More photos can be viewed on our website here and in the digital catalog down-loadable here (11MB).
all photos by: Paige DeWees


post-show post

It is hard to believe that the trunk show & catalog release party that I've been preparing for for months is over...not in a longing way, but more in the amazing way that time can pass when there is work to do. I thought I'd share a few snapshots of the way the space was set-up for the show.
The Danish Teak Classics showroom is a huge, gorgeous space in and old factory building. There are columns throughout the space that create order and my little L-shaped space was nestled into 2 of these such-bays. on one end of the L were 2 tables containing my jewelry. It also hung from hooks on the wall. On the other end of the L we set-up a projector showing all the images from the 4 photo shoots that Paige and I completed as a slide show.

when people entered they could also explore our website and look through the physical catalog/book.

Steve, the proprietor of Danish Teak Classics, made a bunch of these gorgeous white wall hooks that housed my jewelry so perfectly. He made a batch of them and I would encourage anyone who is interested in them to contact DTC. --- You can see that I had several BUNCH necklaces for the show - each one of a kind - that sold really well.
I also "unveiled" the WOOD-STRIPE bracelets that I've been working on for a while now. They are yet another refinement upon these original wood-layer bracelets, only they are much thinner which makes them extremely elegant and refined in a way that makes me almost amazed with myself. I started with even stripes (inspired by marimekko t-shirts) and have since been playing around with the composition of the layers & am experimenting with a glossy finish.

an enormous THANK YOU goes out to Danish Teak Classics for hosting me so graciously in their space. Thanks to the lovely family and friends who helped prepare everything. Thank you's also go out to the local press that gave my show a mention: MN Monthly magazine, MSP's SWAG email newsletter, Star Tribune and the Popfizzdaily blog. and of course Paige DeWees, who I've thanked before, but will continue to thank for an amazing collaboration that is hopefully only the start of many more fun projects together.
This trunk show really feels like a launching point - as it marks the start of some BIG things coming my way in the future (will share more soon) and most importantly - an opportunity to really step back and take note of where I am in this jewelry business of mine. I feel that I have gained a new perspective and a fresh and inspired outlook on where I need to go from here. Never before have I felt so hopeful for what the future might bring ... and I know that it is the result of 2 years of continued hard work and persistence, and it will require much more of the same, but I love what I am doing and and that is what makes it so rewarding.


live site

a big THANK YOU must be extended to my brother KAI SALMELA, graphic designer extraordinaire (who btw designed the hot new Hero typeface for Guitar Hero through his work at pentagram. it is all the buzz in the graphic design world) ... who re-visioned and conceptually re-organized our website -- and of course to Jake Ingman, webmaster extraordinaire who is so tech-savvy that he sometimes makes me feel like frank loyd wright trying to turn on a computer! but it is aaaalll good, because we have a new live site that at once encompasses the broad scope of silvercocoon (architecture to jewelry) and then also has a built-in flexibility that will allow me to grow a jewelry business without having to create a separate website. i could not be happier!

as previously mentioned, a download able PDF version of the catalog/photography book that I've been working on all summer with Paige DeWees is also accessible through the SHOP section. (there is also a link that allows you to print your own from lulu.com )
---When the first sparks of vision for this project started prancing around in my brain back in April, i envisioned a book that was equally a representation of mine and Paige's work. i envisioned a book that could function as a coffee-table photography book and a catalog to represent my jewelry designs simultaneously ... we had extensive conversations about wanting it to speak to our midwestern-ness, to speak of real women of different ages, sizes and colors, and we wanted it to capture and tell the story of lifestyle and simple everyday moments. because our lives are made-up of those simple moments - they are strung together in ways that define us and inspire us and allow us to see time and growth and change. we also talked about weddings (Paige is primarily a wedding photographer) and the notion of "big" or "important" days. i want people to think of my jewelry in everyday terms - as if our every days can become our own special occasions simply by the addition of some jewelry that helps celebrate ourselves on a daily basis. logistically, we tried not to style or stylize things too much. we worked entirely with each woman's (& man's) own wardrobe and relied entirely on the hair and make-up that they showed-up with. we also worked with locations that are a part of my everyday, or the person who was modeling for us: my back yard, the walker art center-minneapolis' backyard, the csa farm where my friend has worked for the past several years, and the very first house that my father designed (before i was even born!) ... all in all, i am proud of what our book is and i hope Paige is too. I am grateful to her for this experience!
Always thinking ahead -- I will begin work on a derived version of this book that gives more specific/detailed information about each piece of jewelry - and that could be printed more cost effectively, allowing me to actually print a decent amount of them to disperse. one step at a time, though... right?


the word is out....

news of the trunk show that i've been planning is out via the September issue of the regional publication Minnesota Monthly. they gave me a lovely mention in their 'The Look' section. so thankful!

invitations/postcards are out in the mail as well! the trunk show is intended to kick-off the fall with some new work, but also to celebrate the unveiling of our new website (can you stand the suspense until next week?) and perhaps most exciting - to celebrate the new catalog that i've been working on all summer with Paige DeWees. a digital version of the catalog will be unveiled with the website. i cannot wait for you all to see it. i am so grateful to everyone who has been involved and i look forward to sharing a bit about each of them here in the coming weeks.
i have been working some long nights - into the wee hours - preparing for all of these elements to come together. i cannot entirely grasp the joy that comes with things falling into place. but they are and the next week will be one for the books...i hope.
TRUNK SHOW: SATURDAY . 12th September 2009 . 11-5pm . Danish Teak Classics - Northrup King Building