Saturday, May 31, 2014

Laurel Elliott Jewelry Designer

We met Laurel years ago on a trip to NYC. We were taken with her gentle nature and thoughtful jewelry. We have been carrying her work ever since.

The style continues to evolve and her following continues to grow. We have a beautiful collection of her work. Here is a little about her and what she does.

“Art is not the possession of the few... it is the authentic expression of any and all individuality.”
-John Dewey      

      My work expresses the phases and stories of my life.  
In 1980, I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The curator showed me antique and ancient rings inscribed with enchanting short poems of love or poesys.  These rings from the past inspired me to create replicas of the originals and share them with small retailers, museums and catalogues.  I opened my workshop in SoHo, where we have remained ever since.

As my experience broadened, so did my creative palette and means of expression. Yoga brought me to reflect on Eastern thoughts and symbols that would become the basis for our Silk Road collection. It also inspired me to develop jewelry shapes reflecting ideas of the infinite that became the foundations of our entire line: the Chinese Pi Disc and the Mobius. I reflected more on my own relationship to the jewelry I designed, I came to the realization that what we wear is also a reflection of who we are and where we've been. Donning a piece of inscribed jewelry is both a reminder and an affirmation. From a prayer that has offered us comfort in troubled times, to a quotation that has inspired us to aspire to more than we are, or a song that reminds us of the beauty of life, wearing the written word expresses and affirms our individuality, our own art. Our collection has emerged from these insights.

I am grateful to be part of the long history of the written word that connect us all through time and across cultures.  I hope the pieces in our collections will resonate with your individual experiences, express your hopes, desires and dreams, and, when worn, serve as a daily reminder of your past and inspiration for your future.
All of Laurel Elliott dvb new york’s jewelry is made in Manhattan on the edge of historic SoHo in the 19th century Cable Building. The huge, arched windows in this McKim, Meade and White building introduce wonderful light, creating an open work space for a group of dedicated artists and craftspeople. Designs and inscriptions are carefully considered for months and sometimes years.
When developing a new piece, we often begin with a hand drawn, two-dimensional design that is then rendered into a three-dimensional object through the state-of-the-art CAD work of our model maker. The model is then completed by hand to our exacting design standards. Once the model is finished, molds are made for casting by the lost wax method, a technique in use since ancient times. Molten wax is injected into the molds to produce wax replicas of the model.

The waxes are covered with a medium called investment. When heated, the investment hardens while the wax melts away leaving a hollow core.  Molten metal flows into this core producing the castings. The castings are then cleaned and finished by hand. The final step is polishing to give it the striking, reflective surface of fine jewelry. It is a time consuming process involving significant care and work, all completed by craftspeople in our studio in the USA.
How should I care for my jewelry? We recommend polishing your sterling silver jewelry with a dry silver polishing cloth available at most grocery or hardware stores. Storing your silver in the jewelry bag in which it came will help prevent tarnishing. is antiquing?  
Most of our jewelry is "antiqued" with a patina during manufacturing to enhance the legibility of the inscription. The piece of jewelry is submerged in liver of sulfur to create the darkened color, and then polished so that the antiquing remains only within the inscription. We incorporate this process to replicate original antique jewelry, which naturally forms this darkened color over the centuries. 

Will sterling silver tarnish?
Sterling silver will retain its luster for years and frequent wearing of your jewelry will help prevent tarnishing. It will tarnish when it is exposed to certain chemicals found in makeup and perfume, salt air and sulfur. We do not recommend polishing with silver polish as this may remove the antiquing.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The changes we've seen commentary

When we opened in Downtown New Bern in 1990 there was hardly one second story apartment, shops closed on Wednesday afternoons, the Post Office was in the Federal Courthouse, there was a creepy pool hall where the fountain is beside Carolina Creations.

     There was an empty lot where Nauti Paws and Fraser's is, Captain Ratty's was on the corner of Pollock and Craven St and was a nautical gift shop. There was a newsstand where Captain Ratty's is now. The expansion of the Baker's Kitchen was boarded up and had no roof. There was a building that had been a car lot where the Bank of America building is and Barbour Boatworks building was where the North Carolina History Center is now.

     There was a breakfast/lunch restaurant in the bottom of the Elks Building. The lot where the Convention Center is now was empty and there was no "new" part of the DoubleTree.

     Where Carolina Creations is now was a Chinese Restaurant which didn't look like much from the outside but the food was wonderful. There was a gas station across from the Convention Center, on the corner of Pollock and East Front Street where my house is, on the corner of Broad and East Front Street.There was a tank farm on the north side of Union Point Park, and the park looked pretty shabby. There was a Woolworth's where the Baptist Church Park is, and a pawn shop where the Olive Oil shop is now.

     Hearne's Jewelers was where the Pepsi Store is, a dead Holiday Inn behind the Galley Store, and on and on.

     When we first started thinking about moving to New Bern we dreamt that it would be what it is today. What's next?

     What I would like to see is a storefront on the corner of Craven and South Front Street, the Elk's Building renovated, a parking structure in the parking lot across from City Hall encompassing the County Building, a grocery store, the starting line of a dedicated bike trail and a brewery!

     Friends from Miami have been here for a few days and were talking to a waitress who has always lived here. She was telling them how much she'd like to move to Miami, or anywhere for that matter. It was neat to hear them tell her how wonderful New Bern was and that she was lucky to be here, and that Miami has nothing over New Bern.

     So for our town we'll see what the next few years bring, it is an exciting time to be in New Bern!!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Stephen Palmer and his wonderful work

Reprinted in part from "The Northern Express".

He’s no angler, but for the last three years Michigan artist Stephen Palmer has been lured by fish.

Using everyday items like crutches, screwdrivers, yardsticks, thimbles, and tiny tins, the retired educator has handcrafted more than 400 of the eye-catching multi-media fish since 2012.

The whimsical creations come in two major types, either fashioned from wooden crutches or using Ping Pong paddles to form the body.

Each fish is unique, formed from a stash of wooden crutches, plus dozens of bins that hold children’s blocks, Lego pieces, screwdrivers, buttons, toy soldiers, and all sorts of other everyday items.

“Each fish has a tin somewhere in it and most of them have a screwdriver,” said Palmer, who spends a lot of time visiting thrift shops, auctions and garage sales collecting items for his works.

Working every day in his spacious home studio, Palmer, also a glass fusion artist, typically works on about six fish at once.

I was born in Berkeley, Calif. and raised by a poet and a painter, so it was in my blood to become an artist. One of my earliest memories is being with my mom while she painted by the ocean, using our car as an easel.

I’ve always enjoyed art. When I started taking college classes, I taught myself how to do stained glass. I made terrariums and sold them to green houses. Later I made boxes, panels and more.
My wife and I had collected a lot of old items, including a great selection of screwdrivers and an old crutch. She also had a large collection of small things she used in her artwork and had collected since she was a child.
I made my first fish about three years ago.

It was more than seven feet long and had screwdrivers for a fin. I entered it into the Michigan Fine Arts Competition and it won third place and a $1,000 prize. It also sold.

Since I really enjoyed making the fish and my first was successful, I started making others – all different kinds. And now I regularly work on both glass [fusion] and fish.

I hope people will see the connection between the use of things that might otherwise be discarded and the pollution of our waterways. An annual percentage of the sales from our fish help support environmental groups.

I love working in glass and have really enjoyed making these multimedia fish and continue to evolve my technique. This year I started making two-sided fish, which are challenging to construct, but are really special. Over the next few weeks, I will send the first of these out to galleries.

My wife Raenette and I are a team. While we both work on our art separately, we love spending time together and working/supporting each other in our endeavors.

Alzheimer’s disease has afflicted both of my parents. My father died a few years ago and my mother, who lived with us for about five years, is now in a local care facility. One of the things Raenette and I have been doing this year is memorizing 250 famous paintings/artists. We are up to 200 and working on completing the rest.

While I have really appreciated Rothko, Hopper, and Rousseau among others, I have grown in appreciation of many others including: Modigliani, Balthus, and Hockney.

Art is a critical aspect of a successful life. The creative spirit is an asset no matter what career students choose. Creativity spawns unique ideas; learning and improving one’s own work takes thought, care, and wonder. Art opens expression and adds dimension to the quality of life.

At 40 galleries throughout the country including Carolina Creations, New Bern, North Carolina.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Robert Rigsbys Show at Carolina Creations

Our current show at Carolina Creations features paintings by Robert Rigsby.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 31 Michael

31 Days of Thanks Day 31

And last but not least  the support of my husband Michael has allowed me to concentrate on my art and growing our business. We have collaborated on a lot of things. He throws bowls that I decorate. He frames pictures that I paint.  He is the one that keeps everything running, he's always behind the scenes, while I get all the accolades.

The thing is, I could never do what I do without him.

Both of us grew up with mid-western values, working hard and supporting each other.

It's been a fun ride, we balance each other, bouncing ideas back and forth until we come up with a plan.

Looking forward to many more years and adventures together!

Thanks to all who have followed my 31 Days of Thanks! Our posts will continue with news about what we're doing, our artists, new work at Carolina Creations, view from the porch and so on.

- Jan Francoeur

Friday, May 16, 2014

We always love being in pictures

Our Sticks and Peace Pole Corner!
We sold this bench the other day, need to get another, it was really neat with the matching chair, families would gather and sit over there and chat! In the back ground you can see a couple of Stephen Palmers fish and one of our garden poles.

Another favorite corner with a sticks chest, a dust shelf, a Sekoya table, mirror and lamps, a Sally Anger painting, Shayne Greco pottery and a wall sculpture by Stan Harmon.

The front of Carolina Creations in the daytime
and at night!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 30 Carolina Creations Crew.

31 Days of Thanks Day 30

While I get all the glory I wouldn't have the time to do what I do without the help of Lou, Donna, Irene, David, Lori, and Donna.

They are the faces you see most of the time when you come into Carolina Creations.

They give me feedback, (sometimes people will say things to them that they would never say to me), they give me great ideas, they keep the gallery running, shipping done, orders taken and filled, make people feel good when they come in, and so many things I can't list.

They've been with us for years and don't know what I would do without each and every one of them. Each person is talented in their own way and each is best at something so all together they have made Carolina Creations.

Thank you Lou, Donna, Irene, David, Lori, and Donna!

Friday, May 09, 2014

New Copper Enamel Tiles

We met Houston a little over a year ago and have been thrilled with the response to his work.

Glass on copper is his art form.

We just got some beautiful new pieces in!

The Process

The glass is applied to one side of the metal using stencils and relying on precise layering with hand sifters. The piece is only fired once.

After firing, a pin is rolled over the enameled metal to form intentional crazing marks in the glass. Although it goes against the medium's traditional teachings, Houston says this technique creates increased light refraction, particularly in the transparent glass, and allows for easier malleability.

Like all beautiful enamel works, the results are best seen in person to fully appreciate the effect. 

Every Spiritile is handmade according to the same dimensions following the golden mean ratio. With a quirky smile, Houston likes to say these artworks are “Created as windows of the enlightened spirit,” inspiring those who interact with them.

While every piece has its own unique essence, all are created to live in community with the others, giving an eclectic collector limitless possibilities of personal expression.

 It is Houston’s aspiration that every gallery representing Spiritiles be a place to seek the unusual - the moving - the enlightened element for the environment of the collector.

A great gift - a delightful and cherished collectible to be enjoyed every day for generations. Spritiles bring smiles, inspiration and light everywhere the go. There's a perfect Spiritile for every special occasion.

Hang them - on walls, patio, porch post. Spiritiles find good homes in quiet corners and busy, sunny spaces Sunshine never fades them, they just shine all the brighter. A little rain won't hurt. Spiritiles bring light and levity everywhere they go.

Display them - on your windowsill, mantle, bookshelf or desk. Spiritiles stand up alone and like to cozy up with budding flower pots, warm fires and good books. 
Collect them - to lighten the spirit of your world. Spiritiles love to shine together - and make glowing friends for other eclectic art.

Admire them - from daylight to dark. Spiritiles shine a little different as the light changes and capture your eye at the most surprising moments.
Here are a few of the newest and you can see more on our website

Sunday, May 04, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 29 Always Learning

31 Days of Thanks Day 29

People often think that an artist does what they do and just learn on their own as they go along. Once in a while I'll take a class or buy a new "how to" art book. I've heard Michael say "I don't know why she's taking a class, she could teach it." You always learn something, and just like in the rest of our lives we need to keep improving, changing and learning.

I've talked about Mike Rooney and Ken Auster. Then there is Dan Nelson and Sally Sutton.

Dan is amazing and we've had him teach a couple workshops through Carolina Creations. Painting with two hands, never make an ugly mark, do your darks in transparents, your lights in opaque. Make 75% of your painting dark, 25% light.

I never take everything any one says and incorporate it 100%. Maybe just one thing adds to how I do something.

Last fall I decided I really wanted to get into oils, I've messed around with them, I've done some nice paintings but I don't do it enough to really come up with a style. That being said people say they can tell its my painting even though it's done in a different medium. Maybe style isn't the word, Maybe way of doing one is a better thing to say. Every time I start one its like starting from scratch, I need a road map, do this first, do this second, etc.

So my friend Sally Sutton (who has also done a couple workshops for us in my studio) was teaching an oil painting class at Craven CC last fall. I thought because it would go for several months it might really help me, and it did. A couple things I've incorporated into my way of doing things is to do the underpainting in the opposite of the local color, and use her painting medium.

The class gave me enough confidence to take on a big commission.

I'm doing 1 huge 48 x 60", and 2 smaller 24 x 48" oil paintings for a public building here in our downtown. I'll post photos of it in phases when I'm finished with it.

I'm about 1/2 way done with the giant one and 1/3 done with each of the smaller ones.  One thing I've learned already on these is how to paint a huge sky. Rather than just start on the canvas I prepared it by using my medium (or should I say Sally's!), adding a little bit of white and cover the sky area. Then go in with my sky color, wow, what a difference, so much faster and looser. I had a LOT of canvas to cover so this really helped a lot. Plus it helped it dry faster.

So from each artist you learn, from each painting you learn, you learn from hearing people talk about your paintings.

Same with running a gallery. Whenever we go to a show if educational seminars are offered we always go to them, even though we've been in business 24 years we always learn. We always say if we get just one thing out of it it's worth the time and money.

I'm not really much of a teacher, I don't really have the gift for it so this post is a huge thank you to all of the talented people who have been generous with their knowledge, contributing to making my art and Carolina Creations what it is today.

-Jan Francoeur