I talked up my participation in Smitten Forum briefly before it happened. And then it happened from the 27th of December until the 3rd of January, at Ghost Ranch (yes, of Georgia O’Keffe fame) in New Mexico. And I’ve been meaning to share it ever since. So, what is it? Well, it’s the brain child of two jewellers Sarah Brown and Marissa Saneholtz, who, from what I can tell, are best buds with complimentary admin skills. They like to work and holiday together, so while they’re at it, they gather a group of wonderful beings at a different location each year to join in working and playing together for a week. This year’s crew was: Sarah Perkins, Melissa Cameron, Bryan Petersen, Cappy Counard, Cheryl Rydmark, Tanya Crane, Rebekah Frank, Anika Smulovitz, Don Friedlich, Laritza Garcia, Leslie LePere, Hannah Oatman and the two aforementioned heroes Marissa Saneholtz and Sara Brown.
Our rag-tag team of local legends and talented artists from all over the country (and, it has to be said, one random from Australia via the PNW,) got together, cooked up a storm and enjoyed a wonderful creative week – that is if you weren’t one of our number downed with the super-flu and confined to quarters for most of the week. There was relative isolation which added to the atmosphere, though there was the obligatory patchy wireless internet and cell/mobile phone reception and we were only a 15 minute drive from the local store. We weren’t completely slumming it, and we were just one hour or so from a fancy resort with hot springs… Of course we went! Well, some of us 😉
I took the opportunity to gather scraps from my studio (nails Turbo pulled from sundry pieces of furniture in the basement when disassembling obstacles to the team who put in the french drains last year, washers found on the street and offcuts from my latest chain series, for example,) and sandblast them before I left. Once there, when not hiking and photographing, I was able to enamel them thanks to Sarah who lugged her kiln across the country. With this strange array of bits and pieces I created a bunch of little meditations (or sketches if you’re feeling more generous) on a theme of realignment and repair. The parts formed new coalitions (in the coalescence sense of the root word), aided by their recently acquired visual uniformity. I have plans for all the metal I magpied (past participle of magpie, v: to pick up shiny [or often rusty] discarded objects in the street) while in Marfa, TX, last year, and this was my attempt at a trial run. I could not resist the local soil though, so that became a feature too, as did a few rocks “sampled” on a hike.
It’s a really special place. If you ever have the opportunity to go, leap at it. I believe it operates as a summer camp that has art and jewellery classes. And certainly don’t equivocate if the super-duo Marissa and Sara ever get in touch.
We were all smitten.
(You’ll have to ask Sara and Marissa who I stole that last line from 😉 )