2010 September Archive | Amber Jean

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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Stetson Legacy (and a proud mom)

Tears sprung into my mother’s eyes Sunday when I returned from the Women Who Design the West show in Cody, Wyoming. Sporting my new black Stetson hat (given to me by Pam Fields the CEO of Stetson when I was inducted with nine other women into Stetson’s Craftsman Alliance) mom smiled with her voice full of emotion as she remembered my grandfather’s pride when he could afford his first Stetson hat. Mom was about 10 years old when Grandpa bought his first Stetson. He was a farmer in Nebraska who raised endless fields of wheat along with twelve children. My precious beautiful graceful and tough-as-nails grandmother was by his side for fifty-seven years (and many Stetsons).

Earlier Sunday morning, Cliff and I were busy loading the last of my art into Paul’s trailer outside the auditorium. We had to dodge a fresh pile of deer poop left by the beautiful momma (or one of her two babies) on the sidewalk. The sweet big-eared-bright-eyed family enjoyed munching at the buffet outside the auditorium (trees and grass). Once the trailer was packed and road-ready, Cliff and I gorged on the buffet at the historic Irma Hotel. I hit the road with a buzz from the special whiskey sauce poured onto my bread pudding at breakfast – an Irma specialty. We pulled out of Cody and headed toward Chief Joseph Highway; sore from moving heavy sculptures. I wore a grin.  My whiskey sauce buzz was only partly responsible for the smile – the whole event was spiked with talented women and new friends.  We rambled home in the late afternoon sun past sagebrush, mountains, small farms and autumn colors; my new Stetson hat packed away carefully in the back seat of the truck.   

Stetson photos take by XiaoLi – a talented filmmaker and Fullbright scholar.

“Making things right and the best they can be”

That’s Stetson’s motto, “Making things right and the best they can be.”   I will be honest. I had no idea what Stetson’s motto was until today after meeting Pam Fields the CEO. Stetson’s motto makes the honor of being inducted into the Stetson Craftsman Alliance meaningful. I don’t cut corners when it comes to craftsmanship in my work. Never have. None of the 10 women inducted today make things less than the best they can be. Individuality, integrity, and lasting style define western values according to Stetson. I agree. 

Thanks Stetson. I appreciate your decision to honor women who embrace qualities inherent in your products. The big black hat bestowed by you on each of the women chosen to be recognized today is a dandy. I’m honored.

Countdown ’til Cody

The studio smells like fresh varnish, Chinese food and chocolate as I pull lonnnnnnnnnnng hours preparing for the Women Who Design the West show in Cody Wyoming where I will be inducted into the Stetson Craftsman Alliance along with 9 other fine gals.  Come visit the show September 23-25. 

Hard Wood + New Bits = Progress

My new Eagle America router bits cut hard wood like butter. No kidding. Slick. Smooth. Fast. Maybe “butter” is the wrong description since it implies the potential for mushy cuts but there is nothing mushy or sluggish about these precise crisp clean cutters. I cut deep. I remove LOTS of wood. I am working with raw logs not select precut prepared lumber. My current project is mesquite. Each 2000 pound log has intensely hard knots, sneaky soft spots and hidden holes – a combination of variables like little traps just waiting to muck up that perfect cut when free routing.  Dull, quick-to-dull, or easy-to-chip bits make the project of routing one inch deep in moody hardwood a potentially expensive disaster. Wrestling with low-quality bits turns the joy of working with wood into a task – much like trudging uphill on a slippery jagged slope with a ridiculously heavy pack and boots that hurt. 

Climbing mountains is one of my favorite outdoor pursuits. Running is a good way to stay in shape for my outdoor endeavors but I have never really liked running very much, especially uphill.  Jogging downhill is a welcome confidence boost. When my travels take me to sea level, I run with the theme song for “Rocky” in my head while resisting the temptation to throw up my arms and do the Rocky dance.  Do you remember the dance?  Sylvester Stalone does it at the top of the Philadelphia Art Museum steps (where I went to art school).  Eagle America recently sent me some complimentary new router bits to try and I can honestly say the theme for “Rocky” bounced in my head while the chips and sawdust piled up around me. Satisfying.

Lay-away for me…

 “I haven’t done lay-away since high school” I quipped excitedly as I skipped out the door of Tart. I jumped into my truck and scooted across town to take the fresh grouse leftovers from dinner to my mother for lunch. Then I remembered. I actually have done layaway since high school; twice. 

My sweet stove was bought on layaway. Used. White. Gas. The friendly looking Wedgewood sports a built-in grill, broiler drawer, and room heater.   I just had to have it. Luckily the fix-it fella at the cluttered appliance repair shop was willing to accept $25 as down payment.  Several months and $175 later the classic beauty was mine! Smooth enamel rounded corners and plenty of chrome, my little cabin kitchen didn’t have electricity but my “new” stove sure made it homey.  The guy who installed my gas line offered $2,000 for the stove – enough money to get me through winter (in those days). Glad I kept the stove.
The only other layaway purchase since high school hangs in my cabin – an original artwork by Natalie Sudman.                                                                    Once again I have put money down on art. 
I am pleased! 
I’ve admired Gabriel Kulka’s work during the past year, made pilgrimages to his exhibits and read the excellent article written by Michelle Corriel – a local writer who has a special knack when it comes to understanding artists and their work. Gabriel Kulka is a visual poet who packs a lot of punch into his timeless soul-licking intimate and interesting sculptures. Although I am still catching up in the studio and with life after an especially challenging year outside the studio – I feel re-charged with the promise of a new inspiring art piece by an artist whom I admire. Know what? I may have to make a habit of purchasing art on lay-away.  Feels like christmas ‘cuz I have the tantilizing anticipation along with the good feeling similar to the gifting part of christmas since the purchase directs moola to both the gallery and the artist…a good feeling.

Pick of the Week

"Rabbit Moon"

We’ve had a rabbit year.  They are in abundance!!  As the nights grow longer this seemed an appropriate art piece to select.  Each week I pick one item to offer at a special price….just another way to have fun and give back since each "Pick of the Week" goes towards charity.

NEW art


Three days of working in an air conditioned studio on a BIG beautiful ranch in Texas sandwiched between two days of travel last week. Travel days would be fun if it weren’t for the fact that I am easily prone to motion sickness. “Easily prone” means that I can get sick on a swing set. No exaggeration. But the recent commission is complete. I returned to my Montana studio yesterday and took a nap since I was too tuckered from my flight home to take after the big mesquite scultpures with power tools. 

Before the Texas trip, Patron Members got to see a preview of seven NEW artworks. “Jubilee” found a home right away and two other artworks were snatched up by my collectors. Thus, four new artworks have been posted on my site today. If you can identify just one of them as brand new then post a comment with your guess and if you are right, I will let you pick a limited edition print for free.

Take a look. Venture a guess…

Texas frogs

The cutest frogs live in Texas. Seriously. I know Texas has HUGE toads and such but the regular little o’l frogs that hang out on the porch at the ranch early in the morning and on the country club sidewalk at night are simply better looking than frogs I have seen in other parts of the world. The Texas frogs are even cuter than the teeny tiny Coqui frogs that sing like birds in Puerto Rico. Perfectly proportioned with round little bellies and BIG eyes, they are beautiful…well…good looking anyway. 

Anyone who has visited my little cabin at the end of a road near the top of a mountain in Montana knows that I have a thing for frogs (and birds, and bunnies). I collect the little critters. They have also hopped into my paintings and even my favorite bronze piece (cast from a wood carving) features a frog. The frogs in Texas would make perfect models for future art projects. 
You’ll see…

Pick of the Week

I believe his name says it all. “Hamlet” has a Shakespearian quality that is rough and ragged yet poetic and polished. I’m tempted to adopt him myself but would be happy if he found a loving home since the total purchase price of the "Pick of the Week” always goes toward charity. Visit the charity section of my blog if you’re curious.  Hamlet is half price this week. Enjoy