Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Travels at Home

I dream of travel, the pull of far away places as strong as the moon’s hypnotic power over the ocean. I crave to walk among the moors and mountains of Scotland, experience the magic of enchanted gardens in England, have a picnic near the Eiffel Tower, and roam Italy. I hanker for the electric thrum of Manhattan, a chance to take in a Broadway play, to hunt treasure in The Village and take advantage of every pixel on my camera.

When the time is right, this will happen, and I’ve discovered that one of the fastest ways to manifest a trip is to be delighted exactly where I am. This is a win/win situation. I get to explore my native surroundings, discover new places, old things and put the camera to work where ever I am, instead of living life in a holding pattern, just waiting for the occasional trip. I get to be a tourist in my own life, examining it with a fresh eye.

You’ve heard the joke, “Kiss me where it stinks,” right? Well, sometimes that’s in Albany, due to the heady aroma of the mills, but they’ve been working hard to eliminate their bad smell reputation. So it was kinda funny to see a train passing through the middle of town, the words “stinky stew” graffitied on the side of a Southern Pacific boxcar. Truth in advertising?

This town -- south of Portland, north of Eugene -- was originally named Takenah by the Penutian speaking people who lived there, which loosely translated meant “hole in the ground,” something to do with a confluence of water that cut a hole on the river bank.

The Monteith brothers (Wally and Tommy), settled Albany the white folk way in 1846 and renamed it after their hometown in New York.

In addition to Stinky Town, Albany is currently known as “the rare metals capital of the world.” We were also hoping it was the “rusty metal capital of the world,” as we took a day trip there, searching for rich and strange things to transform into delightfully odd pieces of jewelry.

Instead of heading up I-5, we ambled the old Highway, stopping in Halsey to take photos and investigate antique stores. Again, we have paired Groom’s photos with mine. You can see our minds resemble each other, but have still retained our own unique perspective.

 If you want to enlarge the photos for detail, simply click on the image and then hit the back arrow to return to the blog. If you do that, you can see that “red” must have been the theme of the day, as in Red’s Barbershop and Antique Store, and big red Boda furniture.

With mixed feelings, we discovered a fun store in Albany called Opulence Eye Candy Antiques. I say mixed feelings because the place was so cool, yet it’s going out of business. So while the prices were definitely right and we found some treasure (like this sparkly retro hat), I’m sad to see such a beautiful place fade away.

Ha! I’m not the only one who enjoys donning a chapeau. Lookee Groom trying on one of Lil Bo Peep’s top hats. But I digress…

Walking through downtown, we had fun noticing the historic touches, harkening to days of yore when ornate buildings, curvy windows (and top hats) were a la mode.

Many hours later, we drove home through tulip fields, well, not through them, like some dinkwad did through Monroe Park this weekend, but past tulip fields, stopping to document les fleurs.

Back in Eugene, we spent the majority of our week’s energy creating jewelry and preparing for the Saturday Market. You can see the crowd of non-reserve vendors huddled around the information booth, counting points, hoping to get a spot. Thankfully, with gratitude in our hearts, we do have a reserve space, the same 8’ X 8’ square of prime real estate we’ve paid rent on for upwards of 19 years.

Two young University students stopped by the booth and interviewed me for a school project. During the Q & A phase, they asked me if I’ve ever considered moving to a different town and trying a different Market, and I answered, “Yes, I’ve thought about it, but I’m feeling loyal, this is home.”

I am happy to report that our new style of jewelry has opened to good reviews by Grant & Franklin, the maestro’s of green. Here are a few examples of what we are doing with our recently acquired metalsmithing tools.

I’ve got butterflies and fairies in my stomach, I’m so excited. For years, customers have been requesting necklaces and I’ve wanted to design them, but I’ve held myself back by the idea of matchy-matchy.

Clarification, what does that mean? Confession: I didn’t want to sit at the beading table, counting a precise number of beads and stringing them on equal sides around a square, resin-coated stamp. There, I said it.

However, in the last week or so, the Muse has finally given me her blessing and understanding that I do not have to make necklaces in that style, but can design them asymmetrically and fabricate any number of creative components for the lace around the neck, not just beads. This simple tweak on my outlook has opened a new portal and I am levitating with inspiration as I walk through it.

I could spend all day here at the computer, clacking away on the keyboard, but my hands are itching to get back to the studio and create, so for now I’ll say Ciao.


  1. oh my my my...

    i LOVE this!

    no one else i know can travel so quickly from stinky town to stunning jewelry masterpieces in one post.

    i have been excited for your progress and process as long as i have known you but all of a suddenly i feel a little weak in the knees from anticipation. something is brewing...(yes, in a very, very good way :)!

  2. The new jewelry is wonderful!

    Come visit.