Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty, and always remember to live life with your head in the clouds!

Clouds aren’t exactly a new obsession with me, but I am happy to be a brand new member of the Cloud Appreciation Society.

A few weeks ago when I read an article in the NY Times about the society’s founder, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, I was exhilarated to realize there exists a large international group of fellow cloud enthusiasts and photographers. In a nutshell, Mr. Pretor-Pinney’s philosophy is that our lives are far too busy and information-loaded, and we have forgotten how to relax and daydream. Being still and watching the sky is good for our psyches. What Nebraska lacks in mountains and shorelines, it sometimes makes up for with it’s vast, dramatic skies. A solid blue sky is, well, kind of boring. Here are a few samples from my immense photo folder of sky shots from the ground and from the air:

Mammatus clouds during Tour de Nebraska.

Cirrus clouds, mimicking the palm fronds on Tulum beach.

Lone cloud reflecting light on a large spherical sculpture, Omaha,

Sunset with solar halo, Monterey, CA.

Rainclouds over Iowa, preparing to land at the Omaha airport.

After a storm, driving through Wyoming.

And then there was yesterday’s sky over Lincoln, while I was on my afternoon bike ride:

SNAG Conference follow-up

Mid-month I spend several days in Asheville, NC, at the annual conference of the Society of North American Goldsmiths, both as a speaker and as an attendee. My apprehension about public speaking went right out the window after a day of chatting with fellow jewelers, both veterans like myself and newer artists looking ahead to their careers.

This year’s conference was focused less on academia and more on the practicalities of making a living with your craft. Since I have done just that for more than 33 years, I was selected to give a presentation about my own experience with an eye to offering insight to newer jewelry artists. No tidy formula or simple answers exist, but the talk generated plenty of conversation and questions. Being immersed in a group of fellow jewelry artists was energizing, educational and fun!

Party at a group studio. Jeweler Molly Dingledine (in white) shows a visitor around her bench.

Sign outside a hair salon in downtown Asheville.

Downtown sidewalk.

Colors and textures, downtown.

Anna Johnson in front of a case of her work at Mora Gallery. Anna is a rockin’ young designer!

I had to have these earrings by Nikki Coupée of California. Mora Gallery.

Going to Vegas in the morning!

After getting home from Asheville, I had a little over a week to finish up final inventory and the myriad details of show preparation. It’s likely that when you read this newsletter Craig and I will be in the air somewhere over the southwest on our way to the JCK wholesale show. A very condensed view of the final stages of getting ready for a show:

Once the collection is completed, I always work out my displays on the studio floor. This takes hours and a lot of arranging and rearranging. At the show we only have 90 minutes to set up, so knowing exactly what to do ahead of time is imperative.

I photograph each case, then print them out to use as a map when setting up at the show.

Believe it or not, it all fits in these boxes which travel with me. For the most part, the jewelry is organized one case at a time in layers so I can unpack it case by case.

And voilá! Here is last year’s show at the JCK Design Center.

A glimpse of some new pieces

A new Cascade necklace: boulder opal, spessartite garnet, tanzanite, pink tourmaline.

Flamenco earrings

Ripple necklace

Instagram shot in the back yard, featuring rose cut garnets.

And then there’s biking….

We had a group of friends over the other night for a lovely Memorial weekend back yard party. In discussing everyone’s summer plans, a couple of people looked at me quizzically, wondering why on earth I’d want to ride 250 miles in 5 days on the upcoming Tour de Nebraska. Admittedly, it can be a love/hate experience, and between the rain and my travels I feel under-prepared this year, but I’m ready for the challenge! And I love being out on the open roads, even when I’m cursing every hill!

But this is what I’m ready for right now:

It has been a busy month, and things aren’t slowing down anytime soon, so I think a quiet half hour on the patio, looking at the clouds, glass of wine in hand, sounds about perfect!

Summer is here, so get out there and enjoy it. And remember to slow down and watch the sky.

–Sydney

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