In The Breaks

I am sipping an Americano in Great Falls in the brick and stone historic downtown.  Tater lays at my feet on a sidewalk that is warming in the late morning sun.  Everyone walking past me pauses to pet him and they lift his face to meet his eyes with their own and they declare, “He is beautiful!” And it’s true.

Every woman I’ve seen on this city sidewalk looks lovely and put-together in skirts and heels, make-up on and hair smoothed.  I look like a tangle of Provence and hippy in a beautiful pocketed linen skirt, a sloppy tank top, layers of wild jewelry and bed head.  I did sleep in a tent last night.

I slept in a tent last night alongside an easy curve of the Missouri River beside the shadows of the cottonwoods that grow so wide and resplendent in this part of the state.  I like this part of Montana, beneath the High Line in the Missouri River Breaks where the land looks like deflated lungs and the deer grow big.  It’s my sort of country, scrappy but secretly tender; true to itself to such a degree that it is entirely unfettered and free as the wind.

In the morning, I stepped out of my tent and felt the sun on my face.  I stretched my arms out wide and found myself suddenly surprised by my wingspan.  It is wide.  It is wider than ever.  I slid my feet into my shoes and began walking.

When I pass through, when I slip through the golden grass beneath the cottonwoods alongside the river, I imagine myself quadruped and fat on summer.  It is late in the season now and the fresh shoots have to be sought out thoughtfully and teased up out of the dry earth so that the simple action of feeding myself the richest things resembles a kiss.

Some things may come and go but I think my inspirations are always going to revolve around these things:

Idaho & New Mexico

Catholicism (more specifically liturgy and icons, more specifically than that —> Mary/Virgin of Guadalupe/doves/flames/hearts)

Antique Mexican Jewelry

1930s – 1960s Native American Jewelry

High Desert Light (high desert everything)


Mortality vs Immortality (life and death cycles and energy transference) —>bones —>wildflowers—>ethers

American Country Culture (cowboys and indians, steel guitar, trucks, boots, bandanas, horses, dust, grit, rodeo, love and stars and heartbreak and freedom)


For years I’ve resisted referring to my jewelry style as “Western” but I think it’s safe to say I make Western jewelry.  When I say it is “Of The West” I am talking about a spirit, not a specific look.  I feel the same about my photography efforts.  I shoot the West, my interests lay in capturing the West, so my pictures are of the West.

I heard an interview with John Denver once and he spoke of how his music is classified as “country” but he has never felt like a country music musician.  Instead, he called his music “western” because he was singing of the people and the land of the West.  That portion of his interview really resonated with me as I feel most of my work could be seen in the same light.  Also, just so we’re clear, I really adore John Denver, I am listening to him on vinyl as I write this and it’s beautiful.


I found myself with a clear studio bench this week, for the first time in months (maybe years) and I decided to let myself play, to take hours to sketch and draw and fiddle with shapes and forms and to build a few things off the cuff, to not worry too much about perfection and straight lines, rather to allow myself to color outside of the lines and wing it.  The result is some reimagined settings for motifs I’ve been working with for years.  Rustic statement pieces that hold a splash of the mystic.  This is my love for the high deserts of New Mexico and Idaho rising up out of me and a dash of Catholic iconography mixed in with my simple, hayseed heart.

This is:

+Of The West+

A simple, unadorned key turned the gears of a rusty lock and I felt heavy shackles fall from my heart. The strongest chains of all are the chains we create for ourselves.

 Truth is found in the moment we are able to be honest with ourselves. What is true of me?

This I confess: I’m a beautiful, twinkling and precious piece of junk (and sometimes the junky part of me is my fault and sometimes it’s not my fault) but I’m working diligently on eliminating the “junk” part of this statement.  In the meanwhile, the most difficult thing of all is being merciful to myself, being kind to myself in the face of all my jagged flaws.  Taking my lessons from and then letting go of all the moments I wish I would have done things a different way.  To groan under the weight of learning, to tack the lessons to the walls of my heart (so they don’t blow away), to move forward — always.

I often think about how incredible our world would be if we all tried our hardest to do our very best every moment of every day. Perhaps this notion is idealistic and hyper-simplified but I’m not sure being human is terribly complicated.

Show up.  Work hard.  Be honest.  Choose to care as much as you can.

And so, be free.


Pertaining to this topic and worthy of mention:

I’ve probably listened to this interview 20 times.  I play it when I want to feel inspired and when I want to believe I can change the world by simply changing what needs changing in my own heart and life.

Meanwhile, at the farm…

…everything is growing beautifully, I am at war with a skunk, the kittens are hunting, I’ve started my 2017 canning/preserving as well as infused oil and tincture crafting (wildcrafted and homegrown), we took our second cut of hay, the orchard is about to be ready for the first harvest of plums.

Variations on the Uplifted Necklace — similar configurations with turquoise instead of chalcedony.  LOVE that guy in the center with the bi-layer concho-esque connector component.  Actually, I loved that concho style piece so much, I made a necklace and ring set.  I don’t know why it’s taken me ELEVEN years at the bench to finally make a matched set of jewelry…

I am planning on updating my shop on August 8 at 1PM (Mountain Time Zone).  I hope to see you there!