Made with Code: No 3D Glasses Needed

July 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm (Art Unravelled, Project Runway)

Tonight is the premiere of Season 13 of Project Runway, and  while I won’t be launching another “Project Runway Studio 109A” Challenge, I will be watching.

Last season, designer Justin LeBlanc became a fan favorite with his streamlined, architectural designs. As a finalist showing his work at New York’s Fashion Week, he wowed the judges with his accessories, many of which were printed at the North Carolina State School of Design using a 3D printer.

Project Runway fan favorite, Justin LeBlanc at our school's Reflections Celebration.

Project Runway fan favorite, Justin LeBlanc at our school’s Reflections Celebration.

While 3D printers have been used in the manufacturing industry, the technology is crossing over into other industries, including fashion. Although the technology is expensive, some companies are working to make this technology accessible to all of us. Home Depot just signed an agreement with MakerBot to sell its line of replicator machines. Shapeways is making it easier than ever for users, including jewelry designers, to customize and print their designs affordably.

As computer technology continues to cross over into every field, the need for Computer Scientists will only increase. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: “Employment of computer and information research scientists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. As demand for new and better technology grows, demand for computer scientists will grow as well.” []

Both my children attend STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) magnet schools, so I have seen first hand how educators are working hard to make sure students not only computer savvy but career ready.

Even Google is jumping on the STEM bandwagon with its Made with Code initiative designed to “help ensure that more girls become the creators, and not just the consumers, of our collective digital future.”

“For students today, coding is becoming an essential skill, just like reading, writing, and math. If you have a daughter, niece, or other girl that you know, encouraging her to learn to code can open up countless opportunities for her future. Whether she’s an athlete or an artist, loves animals, or wants to explore medicine, coding can help her pursue her interests now and create greater career options and job security for her future.” []

Google’s Made with Code website features a variety of free online projects to encourage girls to start “writing their own stories” using code. One of the projects is a coded bracelet in which girls can experiment with Blocky software to create a customized 3D bracelet. []

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter and I tried our hand at coding a 3D bracelet. Just yesterday, our creation came in the mail courtesy of Google and Shapeways.

3D "Made with Code" Bracelet

3D “Made with Code” Bracelet

Technology not only presents artists like me with a new set of tools, but also a new set of challenges. While technology may be changing the way we think of art, I hope the relationship between artist and audience, creator and consumer, will go unchanged.  “It’s what experience can I deliver to you that is provocative, that can change how you think. How can I, the art piece, change your relationship — not to me, but to something else or to the world? That question has nothing to do with technology at all.” [John Maeda, President, Rhode Island School of Design on How Technology is Changing Art]










Permalink Leave a Comment

Revisiting an Old Friend, Peter Pan

June 30, 2014 at 3:34 pm (Art Unravelled, Artist Musings, Work in Progress) (, , )

IMG_1391 (3)“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” from J.M. Barrie]

In October 2007, I premièred a series of pieces inspired by J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan for a solo exhibition at Artspace entitled Beyond Neverland. Included in the exhibition was a necklace I called the Peter Pan Heart. Stamped into the fabricated silver heart pendant, in J.M. Barrie’s handwriting, is the following: “When the first baby laughed for the very first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”

A few months later, I took the piece to New York for the Holiday Crafts Park Avenue show at the Lexington Avenue Armory. There, I met a woman named Lisa who bought the Peter Pan Heart. I have always said that I never know who I make a piece for, but when that person puts the piece on for the first time, I know. The Peter Pan Heart was made for Lisa.

I duplicated the heart pendant a few times, but always wondered what happened to the first exhibition piece.

Two weeks ago, Lisa called me in a panic.  Her Peter Pan Heart, one of her favorite pieces of jewelry, had been damaged during what she called a “closet explosion”. She asked if she could send the piece back to me for repair and talked about the joy it had given her over the past seven years.

Last week, I received the broken necklace. As I emptied the contents of the inconspicuous manila envelope onto my studio table, it was like being reunited with an old friend.

Transferred to each bead is a piece of Barrie’s handwritten manuscript. There are fourteen of my image transfer beads on this piece, and as I re-strung the necklace, every bead unlocked a memory, reminding me not only of who I am at heart, an artist, but why as artists, we do what we do. Thank you, Lisa for the reminder. Your piece is on its way home.

All of the pieces created for the Beyond Neverland exhibition, including the Peter Pan Heart, were made with permission from The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London. In 1929, J.M. Barrie left all the rights to Peter Pan to the hospital. His gift is a vital source of income for the hospital. In 2007, the hospital granted me permission to use Barrie’s images in my work for a period of five years.


Permalink 1 Comment

Empowering Our Girls One Stitch at a Time

March 15, 2012 at 2:48 am (Art Unravelled)

My grandparents, Ralph and Rebecca

When my grandfather moved to this country, he became a tailor. He created beautiful garments. My guess is he was taught to sew by his mother, Reina (who I have a picture of somewhere sewing). He started three sportswear lines named after his three children, Renee Sportswear, Estelle Sportswear, and Mark Sportswear. I suppose he dreamed of passing those skills (and businesses) down from one generation to the next. Unfortunately, like most children, my mother, aunt, and uncle had other plans and all pursued other professions. None of them ever learned to sew. So, last year, when I took up sewing, I inherited my grandfather’s scissors. When I am at my sewing machine, I often imagine him sitting next to me and smiling, whispering under his breath in his beautiful, native Spanish tongue, “hija mia” (my daughter).

Last month, my beautiful daughter, embarked on a project, which truthfully a year ago, I could never have imagined. She and her friend, two Junior Girl Scouts, both nine years old, started working towards their Bronze Award, the highest Girl Scout award a girl at this level can receive. They conceived of a project to help children at UNC Children’s Hospital (one of the girls comes from a long line of Tar Heels). But because of their young age, they were limited as to what they could do. They could host a collection drive, which would meet some of the Bronze Award requirements, but they wanted to do more.

Enter Diane Moore, Founder, President, and Executive Director of Striving For More.  In June of 2008 Diane’s family’s life was tragically turned upside down when her daughter Colleen died of Osteosarcoma (a form of bone cancer).  During Colleen’s 9 month battle with this disease, the family had Colleen cared for at three different hospitals and saw distinctly different levels of care in the area of emotional and spiritual support for children and their families. After Colleen died, Diane created Striving for More and has dedicated her life to providing emotional and spiritual support for critically and terminally ill children and their families. Colleen was nine when she died, the same age as my daughter and her friend.

One of the programs Diane’s organization funds at both UNC and Duke is Beads of Courage. Beads of Courage are designed to let children with cancer  commemorate their personal cancer journey. Every time a child has a  procedure—whether a chemotherapy infusion, radiation therapy, bone  marrow aspirate, blood transfusion or other procedures—they receive a  special bead from a member of the medical team to add to their “courage  bead necklace.” During the course of treatment, many kids will receive as many as 1000 beads.

Diane teaching one of the girls about Striving For More.

Diane met with my daughter and her friend to talk about the Beads of Courage program. She explained to them that one thing they could do to help was to make a special bead bag for some of the 500 children undergoing treatment at UNC. Bead bags give children a special place to store the beads that they cherish when they are not able to wear them. They also give them a special way to easily carry them back and forth from the hospital or a special keepsake location to store them while they are off enduring difficult tests or procedures.

It seemed that within days of making contact with Diane, my daughter and her friend had chosen enough fabric to create 100 bead bags (in honor of the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts). The only obstacle standing in both girls’ way was their lack of sewing skills.

On a Sunday afternoon, both girls sat in my dining room for their first sewing lesson. Almost two weeks and fifty-one bags later, I think it is safe to say, that they have graduated and are well on their way to becoming skilled sewers. I have faith that my grandfather, along with Diane’s beautiful daughter, Colleen, are smiling down on them, encouraging them, and empowering them with every stitch.

Sewing a bead bag lining, wearing her gold ribbon supporting childhood cancer and Striving For More.

My daughter has been asking me to teach her how to sew for months. I always felt she was too young, but realize now that I was just being too lazy. We need to empower our children, especially our girls, which is the true meaning of the Girl Scout program in the first place.

It has to be fate that my daughter and her friend stumbled upon a project that represents a marriage between the sewing skills of my grandfather and my own love of beads.

There are 1000 children being treated at UNC Children’s Hospital and Duke Children’s Hospital combined. So far, only about 300 have bead bags. If you or your organization would like more information, or to download free instructions on how to make the bead bags, visit

Permalink Leave a Comment

Our Lady of the Perpetual Party

February 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm (Art Unravelled)

“In desperation [Janis Jopilin] dumps her bag onto the floor of the limo. Its contents are truly awesome. Janis has a baglady’s compulsion to carry her whole life with her. There are: two movie stubs, a pack of cigarettes, an antique cigarette holder, several motel and hotel room keys, a box of Kleenex, a compact and various make up cases (in addition to a bunch of eyebrow pencils held together with a rubber band), an address book, dozens of bits of paper, business cards, match box covers with phone numbers written in near-legible barroom scrawls, guitar picks, a bottle of Southern Comfort (empty), a hip flask, an opened package of complementary macadamia nuts from American Airlines, cassettes of Johnny Cash and Otis Redding, gum, sunglasses, credit cards, aspirin, assorted pens and writing pad, a corkscrew, an alarm clock, a copy of Time, and two hefty books-Nancy Milford’s biography of Zelda Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel.” David Dalton, Piece of My Heart

Next May, I have a solo exhibition of purses at Artspace entitled Arm Candy. The purpose of the exhibition is to explore the contents of women’s handbags throughout history. When doing the research for my exhibition proposal, I came across this description of Janis Joplin’s purse, which got me to thinking… how have handbags (and their contents) changed throughout the years.

Writing up the exhibition proposal is easy. Coming up with a collection is hard. So, last week, I  created a story board to help guide me through the design process. For me, a story board consists of pictures that inspire me. It gives me direction and helps me focus on creating a cohesive body of work. Normally, I would create my story board in a sketch book, but thanks to Pinterest, I can research historical handbags on the internet and “pin” inspirational pictures to my virtual bulletin board.

I have to be honest, when I was introduced to Pinterest a few months ago, I didn’t understand it. According to the Pinterest website, “Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting. We think that a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people. With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.”

So, here is the link to my virtual bulletin board. Now, it is off to the studio to create. Until next week…

Scroll to TopScroll to Top

Scroll to Top

Permalink Leave a Comment

The Invisible Children: Breaking the Silence

April 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm (Art Unravelled, Uncategorized)

In April of 2006, I saw this photograph on The Oprah Winfrey Show that haunted me. The photo was of a group of children in Uganda who on a nightly basis were being locked in cages for their own safety. Known as the “nightwalkers,” they walk—some for as long as two hours a night—to camps run by the Ugandan government and non-governmental organizations. Once there, the children agree to be locked in a cage and guarded from the marauding LRA. In the morning, the children return to their homes and work in the fields.

Aside from the humanitarian crisis pictured in this photograph,  I made the connection to the fact that this photo was reminiscent of so many pictures I had seen of children during the Holocaust. The Germans and their collaborators killed as many as 1.5 million children, including over a million Jewish children.

Two years later, still haunted by the photo I had seen on television, I decided to contact the organization behind the photo called Invisible Children. The organization was founded by three young college students who, in the spring of 2003, traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started as a documentary about the nightwalkers, ended up being a global movement. 

The Nightwalkers brooch, suspended by a "chain" of fibers stamped with the names of all The Concentration Camps.

The organization sent me over 70 photographs, as well as information about the invisible children of Uganda to use in a piece inspired by the nightwalkers story. The “Nightwalkers” brooch was part of my 2008 Out of the Box exhxibition at Artspace. The intention of the piece was to inform and educate the public about the Invisible Children movement.

Last week, the three founders of Invisible Children were on The Oprah Winfrey Show again to give an update on the children of Uganda and to promote The 25 Campaign, which started yesterday and runs through tonight with concerts to “break the silence” in various cities around the United States.
“There’s so much noise in the world,” Invisible Children’s Jason Russell told Oprah. “We thought, ‘What if we all stayed silent for 25 hours?’ So, on April 24, we’re going silent for 25 hours, and we’re asking people for their time, talent and money.”
For more information, on Invisible Children, or to make a $25 donation to The 25 Campaign, visit To hear what the co-founders of Invisible Children told Oprah about nightwalkers in Uganda today, click here. For first hand account of a child soldier, read Stephen’s Story.

Permalink 2 Comments

Day Three of Through the Looking Glass Installation: The Finishing Touches

August 5, 2010 at 9:18 pm (Art Unravelled)

Day three of the installation is behind us. Emily put the final details on the drawings, drew frames around her prints and the jewelry panels, while Nick (Emily’s very talented husband) and I finished edging the floor with black duct tape and cutting out vinyl pieces to go on the bottom of the jewelry cases.

Emily drawing a frame around The Queen of Hearts print.

Nick cutting out branches.

Emily drawing an ink blob for the jewelry case.

 A friend of mine on Facebook asked to see some pictures of the jewelry. Here are some images from the “finished” exhibition.

Table of Contents Tile Bracelet

A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky Brooch

Cheshire Cat Neckpiece

Alice Talisman

Susan Parrish Teapot

Finished "Fat" Hatter

The Mad Tea Party

“Through the Looking Glass” opens August 6th during the First Friday Gallery Walk from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and runs through August 28th at Artspace in Downtown Raleigh’s City Market.

Permalink 1 Comment

Day Two: Through The Looking Glass Installation

August 4, 2010 at 9:14 pm (Art Unravelled)

I arrived yesterday to Artspace to find Emily Cash Wilmoth putting ink to The “Fat” Hatter. Day two of the installation was packed with hanging the frames for the jewelry, installing the “checkerboard” floor, cutting, adhering Susan Parrish’s mixed media tea cups to the staircase, and mounting Emily’s prints to the walls. What a difference a day makes.

Day One The "Fat" Hatter

Day Two The "Fat" Hatter

Susan Parrish's Tea Cups

Jewelry Frames and the Checkerboard Floor

Some kids from theYMCA came to Artspace for a tour. Emily and I spoke to them and answered their questions.

Question: Were you inspired by the movie?

Lauren: My answer is no. We started planning this exhibition in January, a couple of months befor the movie was released. Personally, I didn’t like the movie, so I was not inspired by the movie whatsoever. Most of Emily’s initial drawnigs were completed before the movie ever came out.

Question: How many Sharpies have you used?

Emily: As of today, about 40.

Question: Why do you draw directly on the wall?

Emily: Why not.

Lauren: In most cases, art is inaccessible… it’s behind a glass, in a museum, in a frame. Here, you are standing in the drawing and becoming a part of it.

Question: Are those Krispy Kreme Doughnuts?

Emily: No. They are Dunkin Doughnuts.

By Day Three, the installation will be complete. Read tomorrow’s post to see finished pictures, or better yet, come to First Friday and see for yourself.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Art Unravelled: Through the Looking Glass Exhibition Begins

August 3, 2010 at 9:45 pm (Art Unravelled)

First of all, I am sorry for not posting last week, but I was putting the final touches on the Through the Looking Glass  series of pieces. The three-person Through the Looking Glass show opens this Friday in the Lobby of Artspace during the First Friday Gallery Walk. This week, I am going to post  a daily blog showing the installation progress. My friend, photographer Jim Millay is making a film about this installation, which I hope will be running in the Artspace lobby during the run of the show.

Last night, Emily Cash Wilmoth, Susan Parrish, and I met in the lobby of Artspace to begin installing the show. Emily brought with her three apprentices, students of hers from the Art Institute. Special thanks to Ivan, Chris, and Swift for helping us get a jump start on the installation.

Day one installation included painting checkerboard pattern onto the vinyl pieces that will on the floor of the lobby, hanging Emily’s large scale Cheshire Cat drawing, pencil drawing the Mad Hatter drawing on one of the lobby walls, and hanging Emily’s Alice drawing.  More pictures tomorrow on Day Two of the installation.

Ivan painting checkerboard pattern onto the floor pieces.

Hanging the Cheshire Cat Drawing.

Mad Hatter "Pencil" drawing on the wall.

Permalink 1 Comment

Too Hot to be Cool: New Works Show Opens at Artspace

April 16, 2010 at 3:00 am (Art Unravelled)

The First Friday of this month marked the opening of the New Works Exhibition at Artspace.

New Works is an annual juried exhibition for members of the Artspace Artists Association (AAA), of which I am proud to be a part.  New Works represents work created within the past twelve months. This exhibition is an opportunity for Artspace Artists to present their most current and innovative work.

First Friday, awards were presented to the best of the best. Catherine Thornton’s painting Blue Monday received Best in Show.  New AAA member Lisa Stroud received Award of Distinction for her mixed media piece, Departures 1. Susan Parrish received Award of Merit for her mixed media sculpture, Too Hot to be Cool. Honorable mentions were awarded to Scott Hazard and Gretchen Morrissey.

Catherine Thornton, Blue Monday

Lisa Stroud, Departures 1

Susan Parrish, Too Hot to be Cool


I am so proud to have my Luggage Label Necklace  included in the New Works Exhibition, with these fabulous artists. This exhibition was juried by Harriet Green, Visual Arts Director of the South Carolina Arts Commission, and runs through May 1st at Artspace.

Permalink 1 Comment

Read My Pins: Jewelry as a Diplomatic, Political and Social Tool

March 25, 2010 at 2:32 am (Art Unravelled)

Madeline Albright's Serpent Pin

My dad works as the City Attorney for a small municipality in Florida. Last year he asked me to find him a snake pin. When I asked him why, he replied that at a city meeting a community activist called him a snake. He wanted to respond to her as former Secretary of State Madeline Albright had with Saddam Hussein, that is by wearing a snake pin on his lapel.

In 1994, the Iraqi press called Albright, who was then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, a serpent.  Later that year, when meeting with Iraqi officials, Albright wore a vintage snake pin (circa 1860) as a way to send a message.

From that point on, Albright used jewelry not just to make a fashion statement, but a political statement as well.

“The idea of using pins as a diplomatic tool is not found in any State Department manual or in any text chronicling American foreign policy,” writes Albright in her book Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box. “The truth is that it would never have happened if not for Saddam Hussein.”

Liberty Brooch, 1997

Over the years, Albright collected hundreds of pins. Last fall, Albright’s collection, including the infamous snake pin, was exhibited for the first time at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design (MAD). The exhibition examined Albright’s collection for its historic significance as well as the expressive power of jewelry and its ability to communicate through a style and language of its own.

 “Secretary Albright’s approach to collecting focuses on the communicative value of jewelry, which often transcends its material worth,” said Museum Director Holly Hotchner. “The pins in this exhibition have all been used as non‐traditional tools for political negotiation and personal expression.”

Last month, Read My Pins: The Madeline Albright Collection exhibition opened at The William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas where it will remain on view until June. The exhibition will then travel to Washington, DC this summer and to Indianapolis, Indiana this fall. 

 “I found that jewelry had become part of my personal diplomatic arsenal,” Secretary Albright has said. “While President George H.W. Bush had been known for saying ‘Read my lips,’ I began urging colleagues and reporters to ‘Read my pins.'”

Listen as former Secretary of State Madeline Albright talks about her pin collection at The Clinton Library last month by clicking the video below.

Permalink 3 Comments

Next page »

%d bloggers like this: