Clean Living and Renewal

Winery in France

Winery in Sessel, France

Sometimes-you have to go away and do something really different.

I am lucky enough to have friends who live in the French Alps.  They live in a remote village of 60 or so people many who have grown and lived there all of their lives.  This village is one of many in the region, separated by rich farmland and vineyards with tiny winerys attached to them.

The charm of these villages is unsurpassed.  Everywhere you turn, there is a nook and cranny that is interesting, with ancient hardware, giant wooden doors, old classic vehicles long abandoned with flowers growing around them, and gardens everywhere. featured-blog-france1

They don’t believe in using chemicals of any kind on their gardens or lawns, yet the vegetables are beautiful, and do not have many issues with disease or mold.  If a problem does come up with the garden,  they use organic means to combat the problem.  YellowSpider

Very little English is spoken here.  I never studied French in school, so I worked hard on my own before coming to France—studying the language to be able to carry on short conversations, to understand, and be understood.  I have to admit, I was only partially successful.  I was naive in thinking that the people on the French Language tapes sounded like the people in a region with a strong Bugey accent.  But we got on!


I found the people more than welcoming here.  The clean living, beautiful views, fabulous wine, and quiet lifestyle are a real contrast to the fast pace and busy-ness of the Northeast United States.  There is no choice here except to slow down.LAC1

Yesterday, I found myself in a beautiful garden with Gil, who quickly became a good friend.  Even with my very poor French, we got on, discussing the vegetables while picking string beans together.  She took me down a wooded path where she explained that as a child, she walked to school—literally over the river and through the woods.  The water in the stream was so clean and clear.  Lily Pad in France

Then I realized as we walked that we were not bothered by flying insects! No mosquitos, gnats, or black flies or ticks.  It was actually a pleasure to walk through these woods.  There are no screens on the windows in the gite we stayed in—no need.

This lifestyle is in such contrast to mine-and I love it.  I feel as if I have gone back in time, yet I have all of the modern amenities of today. (Yes I have internet).

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life in New England, but to go and immerse in a bucolic setting with clean living, clean food, clean water and clean air—THAT is a privilege I have been lucky enough to experience.

To see Nature’s beauty at its finest—to remind myself to slow down, refresh and renew.

And I will tuck this place into my soul for those days when I will need to go back and remember.

Full Moon over Village

My Name is Artist, And I Have a Problem…

Tool Bench 1

All right, My name is not Artist, but I DO have a problem!  It is TOO MUCH STUFF!  

One of my biggest fears is that I will want to make something–that I HAVE to make something, and I won’t have the items, tools or equipment that I need to make it.  Artists, Crafters, and Makers create by inspiration.  When inspiration strikes, there is a feeling of urgency, before the inspiration goes away.

One of the hallmarks of an artist is that feeling of being driven to create something.  It is almost as if you have OCD–if you DON’T create it, something bad will happen.  This isn’t necessarily rational, but it is real.  There is that fear that if you don’t act on it, you will forget and everything you are will be diminished in some way. Tools8

So when you have that inspiration, you need to have the stuff to create it.  I feel sometimes as if I have an anxiety disorder.  Since I make jewelry with stones, I feel as if I see a very special stone–I MUST buy it–because if I don’t I will miss that opportunity to make something great with it.  Last month, I counted my stone cabochons, and I have over 1300 of them!  YES, 1300!

I also have tools that I have never used.  Many of those are because someday I want to try a new technique, but most of them are “just in case” I might need them.  I also am so afraid I will run out of sterling silver–so I have more supplies than necessary.  Not necessarily good for making a profit for my business.Tools1

So, yes, I have a problem.  I have more tools than my husband. I have a full finished basement where my studio is.  And it is completely filled up with stuff.  I constantly must re-organize, because I get new stuff and I need to find a place for it.  And I can’t throw away old stuff because if I get the inspiration, I must have the STUFF!

Yes, my name is Lynne, and I have a problem! Tools3







Lynne Patnode is the owner and artist at SilverSpiralCreations. She makes Jewelry that is inspired by Nature, using Sterling Silver and Nature’s most beautiful stones.  You can shop for her jewelry at SilverSpiral Creations on Etsy

Is HandCrafted Jewelry Becoming Obsolete?

With Computer Assisted Design and 3D Printers–Jewelry Design is changing—does this mean that jewelers can no longer make a living by creating their jewelry by hand?  Does this mean the end of brick and mortar jewelry stores?  The end of “Handcrafted?”

istock_000007676349_largeIn March, I attended the MJSA conference, which is a jewelry manufacturing show, where vendors demonstrate the latest and greatest  gadgets to make your jewelry.  They also had on site workshops and demonstrations.  It was here where a well regarded guru presenter told us that unless we learned CAD-CAM, we would never be able to make a living being a bench jeweler. (CAD-CAM is a jewelry design computer program that offers 3-D imaging in a very realistic form that looks like a photo of a real piece of jewelry).

He also said we would also need to invest in a 3-D Printer to create wax designs to send off to have cast–you can make one or thousands of the same design.  Wait—What????

Not only that, but he said jewelry stores will be obsolete.  Soon, most will buy jewelry on line or in big box stores.

Watercolor illustration of diamond crystals - seamless pattern

Watercolor illustration of diamond crystals – seamless pattern

WOW!  And the person sitting next to me confirmed that she closed her jewelry store in NY and she showed me her 3D designs–she sells her jewelry online in this way.  They looked like real pieces–and she said they don’t even exist—yet.  A customer would order it, and she would promise it to them in 3 weeks–it gets sent off to be cast, and a jeweler would then finish it off (polish, set the stone, and so forth).  

Wow again!  I sat there, very deflated.  I don’t want to do CAD CAM.  I don’t want to send a computer design, I want to hand design something–to create a piece of art by hand.  I want to take the sheet of metal, and saw, hammer, shape, form, file, sand, solder and manipulate the hell out of it, to come up with something different.

I can’t put my soul into a computer program.

I can’t put my soul into a computer program.  I can only put my soul in a piece that I worked from beginning to end.  I don’t want to make a thousand of the same thing.

peach1My pieces are far from perfect–they are not machined–but they have character.

And then the lightbulb

came on over my head…My customer doesn’t want one of a thousand either.  My customer wants to be independent, wants to express, is organic, natural, wants art, and will search for the piece that matches her/his personality, mood and sense of style.

Maybe I will never be wealthy as a solo bench jeweler.  Maybe I will be among a shrinking group of jewelry artists who make pieces from beginning to end.  But what I will have is an artistic soul that will remain intact, and customers who treasure their pieces for what they are….

rings1Lynne Patnode is a jewelry artist whose mission is to create wearable jewelry art from Nature’s most beautiful stones, sea glass, and artifacts.  She also creates glass art jewelry to emulate nature’s beauty.  Her website is SilverSpiral Creations





The 800 Pound Gorilla, Let’s Get Him Out of the Jewelry Studio!

Hello again.  This is Part II of “How to Talk to an Artist,” a blog series about wanting a special something custom made just for you.  Last time, we spoke about having the confidence to approach an artist to ask for a custom order.  Today, let’s talk about making that order!

Since I am an artisan jeweler, I am going to use jewelry as my example, but this would be true if you wanted to order anywebmoonscene2 custom art, painting, sculpture, glasswork, pottery, woodwork, any art!

So what is stopping you from asking for that order?  Well there is an 800 pound Gorilla in the room, and that is price.  It seems to be the biggest hurdle for both customer and artist to jump through, and often stops an order before it begins.

webspinnergold2My thought on this, from an artist’s point of view, is to discuss this first and foremost, even before hearing what the custom order is going to be.  Most often, a customer has an idea of what s/he is willing to spend on something for themselves.  For example, I got an order the other day, where the customer says, I really always wanted a gold bracelet, a big cuff that has a flared shape, and is about 2 inches wide, with a pretty wavy pattern on it.  So I asked her, what did she think it would cost for something like that, and she answered that she thought that would be about $200.  Unfortunately, if that were to be made with gold, the material alone would have been approximately $1400 with gold prices the way they are.  But instead of discouraging her, I mentioned brasscuff1some ways she could get the look she wanted, using gold-filled metal or gold plated metal, and perhaps she could be happy if the cuff were 1.5 inches to 1.75 inches wide.  I would make a prototype in brass, and she could see, or maybe she would like it in brass, which is a gold tone.    But because price was out in the open, it became fun to discuss the possibilities!  She made an order, and ended up paying $225.00 for a gold-filled metal bracelet that was 1.5 inches wide, and she couldn’t be happier.

In other words, we found a way to fulfill her desire!  And it wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable!

What do you think about this?  From either an artist’s point of view or from a customer’s perspective?  Are you willing to talk about pricing first?  Let me know in the comments section what you think!

Cheers!  Lynne

SilverSpiral Creations


How to Talk to an Artist Part 1

newwebturquoise1So you want a beautiful, personalized piece of art.  Maybe it is art jewelry, maybe a painting, pottery, sculpture, or other art.  You want it to be unique, your own, and perhaps you need it to be affordable.  Some of us are lucky enough to not have to worry about cost, but let’s face it–for most of us, cost is a huge consideration

So how do you convey that to an artist?  If you are like me, speaking with an artist can be a bit intimidating.  You have an idea of what you want–so you wonder, “can they make it?”  “Will it be in a price range I can handle?”  “What if the artist doesn’t really understand me, and s/he creates it, and I don’t like it?”  “If the price quote is too high, I will feel embarrassed if I have to tell him/her that it is too expensive for me.”

These are all very good and very real questions and concerns.  I can’t speak for all artists, but perhaps I can tell you how I feel about these questions and what works for me. webturqflower2 I will tackle all of these questions and issues over the next several blogs, and I invite artisans and customers alike to comment and add to these thoughts.

So let’s tackle the first question.  “I want _________ art.  Can you make it?”   When you approach me for art jewelry, I love it when you start with “I have always wanted….Can you make that?”  As an artist, I will want to know many things about what you are thinking.  I will often ask for a quick sketch or outline, so I know the shape, the concept, and proportions.  I will ask if there is a color stone or jewel in mind.  I would want to know what you would wear their jewelry for, or what wardrobe you want it to be paired with.

I want to know what color metal you want-_ silver, brass or copper, or maybe even gold…Then I want to know the price range you would want to pay for that piece.  Do you want me to take artistic “license” with the piece, or do you have a very specific design.  And if so, I need lots more detail.  Most of my customers want me to take artistic license and that can be both fun and scary!

So this is how, as an artist, I see the first question.  I don’t want anyone to ever feel

abstract painting

intimidated.  I welcome questions and inquiries.  And if it is something I cannot make, I will be the first to tell you that, and hopefully I could refer you to someone who can.  Also, if your ideal piece cannot fit into your price range, there may be other alternatives to give you what you are looking for.  It’s all about working together, and communication!

In the next blog, we will discuss price ranges, how this topic is so often uncomfortable, and perhaps explore strategies to make this a satisfactory discussion for both artist and customer.  We will discuss how price can often seem like a barrier, and how this might be overcome…Until then–have a wonderful week!

Lynne SilverSpiral Creations Website Here


Who Am I?

newweblynneWell, it has been awhile since I posted…I have been going through an identity crisis of sorts. As a jewelry artist–I wondered, what makes me make what I do? Does it speak to me? Does it speak to others? Then one day, I was doing something unrelated and boring–and it came to me.

I have always loved pretty rocks–ever since I was a small child. But you can’t easily carry bunches of pretty rocks to share with others. I almost became a geologist–but I didn’t want to do all that technical stuff. So for years, I did nothing with that passion–and pursued my other love, music.

In my later years, I was in a store one day and saw some beautiful stone beads–and was overwhelmed by the urge to make a necklace–so I purchased the requisite tools and made my first necklace—I figured it out!!! I can wear beautiful stones and share them that way! Beading became metalworking, eventually culminating in many jewelry pieces. I had too many to wear, so I began to give some away, then I opened a store (after all, I need to fund this passion). I buy all of the beautiful cabochons and beads that I can afford and transform them into wearable stones!

That is who I am! I transform nature’s beautiful stones into wearable art–therefore my designs are simple, to show off the natural beauty of nature’s work! Now I feel like I have more focus—and understanding of what I am doing as a jewelry artist–

Oh yeah–and sometimes I play with glass–trying to mimic nature’s beauty—