• ragandstone

The wheelhouse of collaboration and Explore: Material with Heidi Haugen

To risk sounding cliché,

I drove home from Portland in April,

And I never was the same.

I know this doesn't seem like it's relevant.

But, let me explain.

I came back into the studio ablaze with intentions,

still high from that west coast vibe,

still reeling from a wonderfully full week away,

after a mind-blowing creative dose of retail therapy,

a good ol' dose of the Pacific ocean,

and the best Thai food I think I've ever had.

There was FASHION.

And MUSIC.

And ART.

And dear dear sassy-ass friends.

AND DAMMIT.

I was going to take that home with me.

I was going to channel PORTLAND.

........

ENTER the month of MAY.

...........

I think there comes a time in everyone's artistic endeavors

where making the same thing over and over again becomes wearisome.

Not just wearisome, but irksome.

I felt, early on this year, like I had worn out my collections.

That my stuff was stale.

That, really, I needed to refresh myself.

That if I made another pair of silver loop-in-loop earrings for my wholesale accounts,

that I might just burst into tears, flames, and frustration.

I hate to say,

but in Montana,

that creative ditch is sometimes hard to get out of.

Maybe harder because it's really a small community of artists over a large state.

Maybe hardest because we are, in fact, one of the most rural arts community in the US.

But really, for me, I think that ditch was overdue.

I've been feeling bored and burnt out.

Since Christmas really.

And I knew it.

Even before I took the month of April to get the hell outta dodge.

So I faced my truth.

Called one of my sassy art friends, Heidi Haugen.

And shoveled my way out of that ditch.

With clay, collaboration, and a little Portland angst.

.........

ENTER miss Heidi Haugen. and Clay.

...........

Heidi is a local potter and dear friend whose studio and work space actually inspired my own bungalito. Nearing my 8th year in business, her 20th, and our seasonal MAY studio sale at her home in West Glacier, I felt it imperative to bring some collaboration to the table.

Like, I NEEDED it. BAD.

After many trips back and forth from her studio to mine,

(and back and forth from firing her kiln)

after realizing clay shrinks significantly (14%!)

and a few long and curse-word-filled days on my end making clay rings,

(which I now look back on and would TOTALLY do differently)

we had a small collection of handmade beads made from her Chocolate Clay body,

an opaque shiny white glaze on some,

and a chalky white slip wash on others.

We also had teeny tiny rings I carved that would end up shrinking in the kiln so no one but tiny elves would fit in them. (Sizes 4 and 5. If you're a tiny finger, you're in luck!)

So, in an effort to make rings that actually would fit someone of average finger size,

I used the delft clay for sand casting to make casts of the ceramic rings we originally made.

Because I can control metal.

I like metal.

And come to find out,

I DO NOT like clay.

These rings.

They are lovely.

Rough.

Rugged.

Modern.

Rich.

And I love them, maybe because they were so fucking hard.

The struggle of sand-casting is not when it will fail,

but HOW MANY TIMES it will fail.

All in all, I successfully casted 3 silver rings and 3 bronze rings,

in various sizes and shapes.

And I know I'm on to something good here.

The best part was this:

Even in newness,

even in some seriously new territory (i.e. clay?! Wtf?!)

I could stand on my metal skills.

I could make a collection from concept to end product.

I could DO whatever I wanted.

I had the skills.

I had the tools.

It was like an old door swinging open, and slapping me in the ass after walking through,

"HEY! I was here all along! Now, MOVE IT!"

During this creative process and exploration, with miss Heidi at my side,

she showed me rolling techniques for ceramic beads too.

Textures I could apply.

Colors I could glaze.

Ways to coax clay into something beautiful.

Something I could easily translate into functional, wearable, jewelry.

She coaxed the collaborative project along, too,

kindly offering help, space, and instruction...

but as I sat at my kitchen table with a few tools and a big hunk of mud

I knew that this material

just wasn't *me*.

I called her multiple times, whining about how dirty this material was.

How sloppy. How sluggish.

And that's okay.

Because I LOVE metal.

I love the rigid rules of metal.

I love the hardness.

I love the feel.

I love the tiny tools and specialty equipment.

I love what I know and can do with the material.

I love the strike of a hammer on a cold anvil with my favorite hammer.

I love the heat of a torch.

I love the magic of solder.

THAT, friends, is what I learned.

Collaboration.

A means to find *you*

..........

ENTER TASSELS FOR SASSY ASS WOMEN.

(Because, in my head, Portland was all about sass.

And fashion.

And big-ass, loud-ass accessories.

And fun.

Looooots of fun.)

................

ALL collaborative work will be in the Etsy shop this week.

Thursday MAY 25th at 5pm MST.

Thank you for letting me play.

XO Erin

#collaboration #ring #beads #heidihaugen

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