They Are Us and We Are Them

Tom and I attended an Eagles concert in Dallas last night. Say what you will about The Eagles, their performance was professional without seeming canned, which is a talent in itself (unlike a Bob Seger concert I saw years ago that Seger could’ve phoned in – he seemed *that bored*). The band played all their old hits, to the audience’s delight. The band’s patter, while rehearsed, seemed genuine. This was their third show in Dallas in less than 6 months – the band can still draw. They could probably book another show in 6 months and sell that out, as well.

I enjoyed the people-watching opportunity pre-show. Gathered together were basically the same bunch of people who would have attended the same show 30 years ago, and indeed, many had. We’re all older, fatter and greyer, but still standing. That’s a victory in my book, kids.

And guess what! The same blond bimbo who sat in front of me 30 years ago at concerts was there! You know the one … the girl at the concert with ants in her pants who drinks too much, dances on her seat, disrupts the show for everyone, and basically acts the fool, only now, she has a cell phone to f**k with as well! She spent inordinate amounts of time filming bad concert footage with her smart phone, making out with her husband/boyfriend, gyrating wildly, and borderline ruining my concert experience. I felt the same irrational desire to hip-check her now, as I did then.

I overhead many people excitedly recalling attending Eagle’s concerts during their ’75-’76 tours. One guy behind us was telling a funny story about how, in Dallas in 1976 while hanging out in the parking lot post-show, a long black limo pulled alongside their group. The tinted window cracked open. A face with dark sunglasses (presumably an Eagle) eyeballed one of the women in the group and drawled, “Hey baby, want a ride?” The husband of said woman got a bit bent out of shape and told off Mr. Sunglasses. The window rolled up, and the limo departed. Another guy in the group said, “Hey man, one of the Eagles thought your wife was hot! Let her have that, man!” They all laughed at the memory.

Unfortunately, I was too young to attend one of their concerts in 1976, and by the time I was old enough, the group had broken up and would remain so for the next 14 years. This was an opportunity to hear the music I’d been hearing on the radio for years, live and in person.

Before the show, I kept looking around at everyone. I wistfully told Tom, “I wish I had a magic something-or-other that could, for one single moment, give me a flash of how we all looked 30 years ago.” Then, during the concert, Timothy B. Schmidt was speaking to the audience and at one point, directed the house lights to be shown to the left, right, back, and floor areas of the concert hall. As the lights illuminated each section of the house, the audience stood and cheered and waved. And for one brief, shining moment, in the glaring spotlight, the years dropped away, and I saw us as we looked so many years ago, young and free, screaming in delight for our favorite band. It was magic.



An Unexpected Turn of Events

As I attempt to become a better painter of animals, I am constantly in search of subjects. However, because of my former career as a graphic designer, I am aware and observant of the proper use of copyrighted images as painting subjects. Any of my paintings of dogs from magazines, brochures, books, and photos downloaded from the internet are for my personal use, as practice subjects. The resulting paintings are not for sale.

That being said, something interesting happened with a recent canine painting subject …

Earlier this year, I started following the Facebook page of DFW Rescue Me, a highly active dog rescue group in the Dallas metro area. They are often the last resort for the most abused and needy canine rescue cases.

In April, a post caught my eye. Or rather, these eyes caught my eye:


This is Spartacus. Here’s his story, in his Facebook post.

He had 3 strikes against him: bum leg, heartworms, and deaf. But that didn’t stop DFW Rescue me from pulling him from the shelter, patching him up at the vet, and getting him an awesome foster situation.

So up went Sparty onto my easel. I worked on him for a few weeks, eventually finishing this portrait:

"Spartacus," acrylic on 12x12 canvas

“Spartacus,” acrylic on 12×12 canvas

I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. This was my 4th pet painting.

But unlike previous portraits, it wasn’t a friend’s dog, or an anonymous dog photo from a book or magazine. This dog (hopefully) had been adopted by now, and I wanted to pass the portrait along to his new parent(s), as a goodwill gesture for choosing a rescue dog.

So I sent a Facebook message to DFW Rescue Me, with a little note about how the portrait came to be, and how I hoped it would eventually go to Sparty’s new adopters. I also offered a free pet portrait as a future fundraising item for DFW Rescue Me.

Within a few minutes, a reply came via Facebook from Barbara at DFW Rescue Me: “Send me your email address, and we’ll talk about your painting,” it said.

So I did. We started exchanging emails, and I got to hear the rest of the story.

No, Sparty had not been adopted yet. But Barbara had a request for the painting, someone she felt would be the right recipient for it.

Sparty had been fostered and rehabilitated by Lauren, a young woman who has become one of DFW Rescue Me’s best volunteers. Lauren herself has an amazing story: After graduating from the police academy in Detroit, she moved to the small town of McKinney, TX (the next town over from my town of Prosper, TX) to try for a job on their police force. With no family or friends in Texas, and no promise of a job, she moved into a small apartment with only an air mattress on the floor. She got on the force, and integrated herself into the community. This included volunteering for DFW Rescue Me, and taking in 2 dogs. Then along came poor Sparty, with his injured leg, heartworms, and deafness. Lauren took him in with her pack as a foster, and turned his life around. He became a happy, healthy dog under her care.

Then, Lauren’s apartment complex changed their rules – only 2 dogs allowed per tenant. Lauren had to give Sparty up. She was heartbroken. She seriously considered disrupting her life by moving. But DFW Rescue Me’s senior staff assured her that Sparty would be fine (and is – he’s fostering with a vet technician and is loving life).

But Lauren was crushed to be forced to give up Sparty. So Barbara asked me, would I consider giving Sparty’s portrait to Lauren? In an instant, I knew that it was exactly the right thing to do. Yes, I wrote back, such dedication and sacrifice deserves reward. It absolutely should go to her.

Then followed a mild comedy of missed connections, trying to fit in a time to meet Barbara and Lauren and give her the portrait, as a surprise. Lauren is a busy young police officer, and had to cancel a time or two. But Barbara and I finally settled on a time that she knew Lauren would be available.

We met at an emergency vet clinic in Denton, TX. I finally got to meet Barbara Naylor in person, and also got to meet Jim and Tammy Wenger, board members of DFW Rescue Me. Lauren arrived a few minutes later, and received her surprise:

What's this?

What’s this?

And a few tears:


It looks just like him!

Maybe it’ll help soften the blow of giving him up … I hope so. I left and drove home, smiling the entire way. The gesture I had originally intended took a turn in a different, but I think appropriate direction. All in all, it turned out better than I expected, in every way.

The One Where I Explain Things



So, I’ve put jewelry design aside. Completely. Packed up all studio supplies before moving into the new house, and stowed them neatly away on shelves in the garage. And the interesting part is, I haven’t missed making jewelry one bit. More specifically, I haven’t missed making jewelry to sell one bit.

I enjoy designing jewelry. I enjoy bringing my designs to life. What I do not enjoy, however, is selling jewelry. Not one bit. Monetizing something so deeply personal and exposing it to the world — I fought against it for a long, long time. I suspected that selling my work would not sit well with me, but I didn’t listen to that little voice inside that said, “don’t do it.” Instead, I listened to well-intentioned urgings of friends and family who, for years, have wanted to see me “do something with your jewelry.”

Before giving in to selling my jewelry, I tried an end-run around sales by instead teaching jewelry design. Unfortunately, as wonderful as my former students were, teaching did not energize me. It only drained me.

My deeply private nature makes a successful social media campaign difficult – floating short, pithy, charming little Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest bon mots over the Internet transom just ain’t me. I know (and envy) several artist friends who have a real knack for it.

There were a few other issues as well — frequent, insultingly lowball wholesale requests on Etsy, the constant worry of my designs being ripped off in China (it absolutely does happen, especially on Etsy), the perception of my Day of the Dead line as “evil” and “satanic” in Bible Belt Texas, and my favorite: earnestly telling me you “like my work,” then requesting custom work that is so not what I do, so 180 degrees not what I do: mommy jewelry, “something with an owl on it,” crystals, etc. Sorry folks, I’m not a wind-up jewelry robot: request design, turn on the robot, wait 1 week, and bingo! Here’s your order.

Copyright 2012 Amy Meade Jewelry Design

These earrings don’t make me look evil, do they?

So that’s it. I’m done.

No apologies. No excuses. Just … done.

My Etsy shop is still live, but all the listings have expired.

My domain name is still active (, waiting for the next move.

What now?

I’m still here.

I’m still an artist.

I’m painting. Dogs. It feels good.

I wouldn't call you evil. You're a nice lady.

I wouldn’t call you evil. You’re a nice lady.

I’m studying painting in a real studio again (

Will I try to monetize painting? I don’t know. For now, painting pet portraits for friends and rescue organizations is enough.

To quote Forrest Gump, “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

Visiting the Morgue

No, not *that* morgue! The New York Times photographic morgue:

I like that they include a shot of the back of each image, detailing the use and even how much the photographer was paid.

“Morgue” was an old Art Department term I never really knew the meaning of, until I read the “About” page of the Lively Morgue site.

Turns out “morgue file” has a slightly different meaning in the design world. Most graphic artists maintain a morgue file: a collection of reference images torn from magazines, newspapers, brochures, snippets of type treatments or hand-lettering, etc., that are tossed into a drawer or folder for later perusal and (hopefully) inspiration. I’d purge mine semi-annually – chucking images and ideas that were dated, not needed, or just plain, “why on earth am I saving this?”

When I was a working graphic designer, my morgue files tended to be heavy on vector art and typography. Yes, I’m a total type geek. To this day, I still try to identify the typefaces used in movie credits. Here’s an easy one: every single Woody Allen film: Windsor!

At home, I have several digital morgue files encompassing various interests including jewelry, graphic design, interior design, and illustration. I have also (heartbreakingly) lost earlier digital morgue file collections, mostly due to hard drive crashes and one memorable virus that made it past my anti-virus software. Hello, Carbonite!

With the advent of Pinterest, anyone can create what is essentially a digital morgue file, and share it with the world. That’s pretty cool. However, as an artist I’m a bit concerned about Pinterest’s ability to proliferate images without proper photo crediting. I need to do a bit more research about digital image protection and identification (metadata, etc.) before I start posting any images of my jewelry.

I doubt that anyone would be able to write my obituary by looking through my morgue files, but you would find out that I like crows, crowns, crosses, and a good semi-sans typeface. And that’s more than you knew about me ten minutes ago.

Lightening the Load

What nearly 28 troy ounces of silver scrap looks like:


Granted, nearly 8 oz. was a solid silver salt shaker gifted to me years ago when silver was $8.50/oz. The rest consisted of sterling sheet scrap & wire, fired ‘n failed fine silver PMC projects, PMC scrap & sandings that were rehydrated & poured into paper cupcake liners, thoroughly dried, then fired, and fine silver wire scrap. Sent off to Rio Grande for credit … this’ll buy a lot of supplies.

Now if only my elusive muse would deign to visit.

Inching Toward Bethlehem

(apologies to Joan Didion :-))

Much progress was made in the Great Studio Unpacking of 2012. Look, Ma! I unpacked This Many boxes in two afternoon stints!


For me, amazing progress. I can easily become quite bogged down in the minutia of unpacking & rediscovery (“Why the heck do I have 6 pair of chain-nose pliars? and two file cleaners? and four solder picks?”). Then the (not) fun of setting up a functional workspace.

Smart Move: Moving the kiln to the garage. It only took one metal clay firing in the studio to make the decision to move it completely out of the house.

Even with my studio location at the front of the house, firing the kiln with the studio doors closed & windows open, there was entirely too much burn-off odor in the main part of the house.


So here is its new home, guarded by my beloved 19th century New Orleans iron cemetary cross. Me & my dear flea market buddy Tina
found this 5′ tall, 100+ lb. treasure on a trip to the Long Beach Flea Market.

Here’s a close-up (cue the Monty Python “God music”):


I pumped up the contrast & saturation in Photoshop so the detail is more visible. See the 3 cherubs clustered at the top?

The salvage dude I purchased the cross from had a stall at the Long Beach Flea Market. Along with this cemetery cross, there were several smaller ones, and a ton (literally) of antique ornamental iron — window grilles, fence segments, etc. He was pretty cagey about how he acquired the cross, although he did insist it was from New Orleans. This flea market purchase was in the spring of 2006. Tina and I speculate that it (and a lot of his inventory) may have been Hurricane Katrina salvage, since Katrina occurred the previous September?

One of these days, when Tom and I make a permanent landing somewhere (Tucson, hopefully), I’ll have a concrete footer poured for it. It’s so beautiful; it needs to be outside again.

Happy Saturday from Texas 🙂

Suit Up!

Interesting Texas Observation: I’ve had no less than 3 coworkers show off their “kid with Santa” picture for 2012, each of them independently claiming that their kid’s picture was taken with “the Famous Santa of [Blank], TX.” Apparently, there are Santa Battles here in North Texas. We have at least 3 “Famous” Santas working the shopping malls in a 25-mile radius of Frisco. And these guys are the real deal: long white hair and beard, big tummy, rosy cheeks, the whole bit.

So if you’re a middle-aged white male transitioning out of your ZZ-Top phase, think about moving to Texas, gaining 50 lbs., and letting your hair go white. You’ll be welcome, and assured of a job each December.

Get Your Wings*


11/11/11 calls for Teh Whimsy, fo sho. It’ll be either the fine silver Aviatrix Pendant, with its riveted vintage Czech glass propeller and day/night views out the plane windows, or the tiny glass bottle with antique German glass glitter & a snippet of paper from a book of poetry that says, “fairy folk.” Either way, I’ve got my wings for flight.

*The title of a favorite Aerosmith album, before they sold out and got boring.

Felt Victory!

I have a love/hate relationship with felting. I like precision, and the inexactitude of the felting process frustrates me.

That being said, I can usually wrangle a project into a finished product that I almost always end up loving and using. My latest effort, the #40 Felted Hippy Bag from Vogue Knitting Fall 2005, unfolded in predictably unpredictable fashion.


#40 Hippy Bag, Vogue Knitting Fall 2005

The knitting itself was uneventful. The felting was anything but. Most of the felting was done in my trusty old topload washer. The final finessing was done in a kitchen sink full of hot, soapy water. Ick … wrangling several pounds of hot, wet wool into submission.


One handle is about 36" ... the other, about 32". Uneven, and too long.

Post-felting, despite lots of hand-felting efforts, the 2 handles were way too long, and of differing lengths. I ended up cutting them off the bag, discarding some of the length, and evening them up. I’ll sew them back on by hand.


About 30", for a 15" drop. And they're even!

I’m rethinking the floral design, too. Instead, I may go with a penny rug-type of design, similar to an example I found online. I have a nice selection of felt, made from flat-knitted pieces.


Awaiting design inspiration!


I love that vintage penny rug look.

I’m glad to be done with the felting process and on to the embellishment, the part I really love.

CPS Took the Baby!

Oh, heck yeah – one of my favorite documentaries is on right now: The Wild & Wonderful Whites of West Virginia!

I’ll let y’all in on a little secret: These type of folk aren’t restricted to WV – travel 30 miles outside of Portland, OR in just about any direction, and you can’t throw a rock without hitting one.

I oughta know … my first husband was an timber industry worker in Molalla, OR, and he had an … interesting group of friends. The friends’ parents were even more interesting, and closely resembled some of the folk in the WV documentary. In fact, when I first started watching 30 Rock and heard Kenneth the NBC Page talk about “Hill People,” I nearly sprayed my Diet Pepsi because I knew exactly the type of folk he was talking about.

The Big City’s got nothing on the tragicomical back-country intrigue I witnessed or heard about during my married years in rural Clackamas County … feuds; marital infidelities including one revenge scenario resulting in a woman being held down and having her hair cut off by the cheated-on wife; and drunken fireside episodes of Russian Roulette (with loaded pistols) resembling a scene out of The Deer Hunter, one of which resulted in the death of my former husband’s high school classmate.

I remember visiting the wife of one of my husband’s friends late one afternoon. This gal grew up in the hills of rural Clackamas County, worked a man’s job in a local sawmill, drank as hard or harder than any man around, and was one of the nicest people I’d ever met. But she had definitely had her own way of doing things. I walked into the little lean-to that served as the laundry room, and came upon a strange sight: She was holding the family cat under its arms, dangling its body into the open washing machine. The tub was full and agitating, and the cat’s lower body was swaying back and forth with the action of the machine, its eyes closed in bliss. Obviously, this was how they rolled in this house. I’m guessing this was simply the most efficient way she knew to give her cat a bath, and because she was an animal lover, naturally, the washer was set on the gentle cycle.

I don’t miss living in rural Oregon, but catching The Wild and Wonderful Whites did make me smile. And shudder.