Monday, October 10, 2011



For quite a while I have wanted to make sterling silver buttons. I would love to make some as wearable art for a show jacket that I could wear to an art opening....maybe the theme of the buttons could match the theme of the show. I kept getting bogged down in thinking about what gauge metal would be best?....should they be domed?....Should they be removable for laundering?...etc.

Recently my friend, Kristi, mentioned that she would like some buttons, also. We had a discussion about what kind of imagery or words she might be drawn to. Kristi loves the poem JABBERWOCKY by Lewis Carroll and can recite every word from memory. With her birthday being in September, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try etching some buttons. The photo etching technique I use is a wonderful way to get small lettering on a silver button without distorting the metal.

These buttons are just 1 inch flat discs of 22 gauge sterling silver. I etched a plate of metal first and then punched the buttons out with a disc cutter. When I try this again I think I will go with a slightly heavier gauge metal. Kristi was interested in flat disc type buttons but I still think it would be fun to try some other styles....domed....irregular shapes....etc.

Here is an image of the buttons on Kristi's favorite hemp jacket. You can see one of my HOUSES THAT MEASURE UP pins on the jacket....I think it lives there....a gift from another birthday. She only needed 4 of the 5 buttons and so sewed one on the pocket....I love that idea.


by Lewis Carroll

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011



Recently I was asked to make a commissioned box as a 50th birthday gift. This box was going to be a surprise for Kaci Cronkite...a local Port Townsend woman, an adventurer, a writer, a sailor/wooden boat owner and my friend. Right away I knew this box would be different from the others I have made.

Kaci was born and raised in Oklahoma on a ranch where the wind was a daily part of life. That same wind moved she and a friend, Nancy Erley, as they circumnavigated the globe in a sailboat (1995-2001) and moves her today when she is aboard PAX, her 28' Danish Spidsgatter built in 1936. Wind seems to be the common denominator of Kaci's life. As an artist, I was intrigued by this notion of making a box about the wind....a subject that can't be held in your hand or easily drawn or depicted. This was going to be a challenge.

Kaci is also very into books and writing and it was decided that this box, even though it is wall hung, would resemble a book....this was a first for me. The cover and spine are photo etched red brass. The cover depicts Kaci's boat, PAX, navigating the windblown waves of a wheatfield....melding her past and her roots with the present. A narrow piano hinge mimics the look of the hinge on a book cover. The over all dimensions are 8 x 10 x 1.5 inches.

On the backside of the cover I have etched the Beaufort scale, a scale developed by Francis Beaufort in the 1800's for determining wind force. The wording of this scale is beautiful and poetic. I especially love this description.... "Large wavelets. Crests begin to break. Perhaps scattered white horses." I added moon phases above and below the scale to show the passage of time and Kaci's connection to the natural world.

The back wall is photo etched nickel. The map is a symbol of Kaci's world travels and her circumnavigation. I have placed a small magnet on the map and eventually a tiny bronze sailboat will be attached there. Right now Kaci is wearing that boat (made by local artist, Cavin Ritchie) around her neck on a cord.

The bag, under the map, contains various life tools necessary for the navigation of Kaci's journey...a compass to find one's way....a sextant....a length of rope....etc.

A list is included in the box....things to remember to take. Kaci can lean that against the back wall as a reminder.

Even the edges of the box are etched parallel lines in nickel that resemble the edges of the pages of the book.

I like to use Japanese yen coins as the hangers on many of my boxes. As I was doing this I was pleasantly reminded that there is a stem of wheat on one side. This seemed so perfect for Kaci's box and a fitting end to my journey of etching the wind.

Saturday, September 17, 2011



Come join Shane Miller and Kim Kopp for an art talk at 2pm on Sunday September 18th at Northwind Gallery in Port Townsend, WA. If you haven't seen the exhibit STORY/LINES yet, this would be a great opportunity to peruse the show. Kim and I will be talking about what inspires us....our processes and techniques...and much more. See you Sunday....

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I was invited, along with Kim Kopp, to participate in a two person show at Northwind Gallery in Port Townsend, WA. Saturday night was the opening. It was a beautiful evening and a large turnout. I am showing a selection of my narrative jewelry and Kim is showing a selection of her paintings. Many of Kim's pieces use metallic paints or gold or silver leaf which makes her work a perfect partner to my boxes which are photo etched brass, copper and nickel. These images don't do Kim's work justice....they need to be seen in person to understand the depth and layering in her paintings.

Even though I have shown my boxes at my annual GreyBird Barn sale for 3 years, this was the first time they have been shown in a Port Townsend gallery. The evening was filled with questions about the work and the techniques used. It was quite fun for me....a sort of coming out in my own home town.

The show will be up through September 26th and Kim and I will be giving an art talk on September 18th at 2pm. If you live nearby please come to the talk or stop by the gallery during open hours and spend some time with this show.

Here are a few images from the show. Remember to click on an image to see a larger version.

These look like some suspicious characters looking at art in another part of the gallery. Actually they are dear friends. Kate Snow is the center character....the curator for this show.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011



It's that time of year again....the 3rd ANNUAL GREYBIRD BARN sale is just around the corner. This is always such a fun event....a charming barn housing incredible art...lemonade and homemade cookies....old friends and new friends...a time for swapping stories and just being in the company of like minded people.

Save the date and come spend some time at GreyBird Barn....June 25-26th.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011



"IN WILDNESS IS THE PRESERVATION OF THE WORLD"....this quote by Henry David Thoreau has always been a favorite of mine. It's a wonderful way to believe and an even better way to live.

A few years ago my sister, Lisa, shot an incredible image of a heron on it's nest. She and her partner, Greg, were on the ferry coming from Whidbey Island to Port Townsend, WA to visit me. At the ferry dock, on the Whidbey side, she noticed a heron on it's nest built on a piling right beside the ferry. Luckily she had her camera and was able to capture this great photo. If she ever wants to leave her day job...and it's a pretty good one....I think she could be a nature photographer. This isn't the first time she has been in just the right place at just the right time to capture a lovely image. When I saw the photo I thought of the Thoueau quote and decided to make a box combining the two.....with Lisa's permission, of course. The photo has the feeling of wildness/wilderness juxtaposed with the man made cable caught up in the nest...a powerful symbol of man's presence in the natural world. On the box the moon phases around the edge represent the passage of time.

This particular box doesn't have doors but instead has a narrow mirror. A great piece to use in an entry way of a home. It is 12" x 12" x 3" and is photo etched nickel with a cherry surround. This etching was accomplished using a salt water bath and car battery charger technique.

From March 4th - 28th you can see this box and several others at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts on Bainbridge Island in Washington as part of the GALLERY ARTIST SERIES.

Many thanks, Lisa, for letting me use your photo. I hope you are carrying that camera around with you all the time.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Remember to click on an image to see it larger.

LONGING FOR OPEN WATER is another narrative box that is on display this month at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts on Bainbridge Island in WA. This Gallery Artist Series will be on display from March 4th - 28th.

LONGING FOR OPEN WATER is all photo etched copper with the exception of the young woman in the boat which is photo etched nickel. I usually try to have at least 2 different metals for the back wall and the doors just to add interest but on this box I loved the richness of the all copper look. I am depicting a dark forest scene and the sameness of the metals helps with the continuity of the forest. The box surround is cherry and there is a driftwood finial on top. Within is one of my copper wire and gampi boats. This limited edition piece measures 12" x 12" x 3". When the doors are standing open the width across the front is 24".

I was a young adult before I saw the Pacific ocean and understood the vastness of that distant horizon line. It was a time in my life when I was only visiting the west coast and had to eventually go back to my home state of Arkansas and a small land locked town in the northwest part of the state. My property was about deep woods and persimmon trees and hooting owls and fireflies and thunder storms. All wonderful things but confining if you've just recently been introduced to the Pacific ocean. LONGING FOR OPEN WATER reflects that time for me. The young woman in the fern clad boat holds a chambered nautilus shell....a talisman of sorts....that helps her keep the thought of open water near. Perhaps she occasionally holds the spiraled shell to her ear....closes her eyes....and drifts on the current.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011



This month I am part of a show at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts on Bainbridge Island in WA. There are 5 featured artists: Barbara Wilson (painting)....Mark Horiuchi (ceramics)...Donald MacLane (kinetic sculpture)....Caroline Cooley Browne (textiles)....and me, Shane Miller (photo etched narrative boxes). The show runs March 4th - 28th. The opening this past Friday evening was well attended, in part, thanks to some very dear friends of mine who came out on a stormy and rainy night to support me in this endeavor. Big thanks and hugs to each and every one of know who you are...I have the best friends.

This box, BUDGIE SOCIETY, was one of the featured pieces at the opening. It measures 12" wide by 8.5" tall by 2.25" deep. When the doors are open it is 24" across. It is made of photo etched nickel and brass with the box being made of cherry. This box is an edition of 5.

If you've read this blog at all you must know by now that I am totally enamored with vintage photographs. There is always an element of mystery there....who are these people?....what are their relationships to each other?...etc. When I first saw this group of people I immediately thought of combining their sad and stern faces with some activity that would be light of heart. And so the Budgie Society was born. They have gathered for the annual meeting and a day filled with talks and lectures and the camaraderie of fellow budgie owners. Each member also receives a free cuttlebone for their budgie....a good source of calcium and helpful in wearing down overgrown beaks.

A small budgie etched in nickel quietly surveys all the proceedings from it's safe perch high above on the corner of the box. I imagine it saying, "What's all the fuss about?"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


It's a prestigious job being the keeper of moonlight, but even the man in the moon is awed by the vastness of the Milky Way.

From January 7th through the 31st I am part of a group show at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts called THE MOON. Bainbridge Arts and Crafts is located on Bainbridge Island in Washington.

I created a box for this show titled AWED BY THE MILKY WAY. It measures 20" x 11.25" x 2" and is made of photo etched nickel, copper and cherry. Technically this box is a little more simple than most of my other boxes but, in this case, I think it works. AWED BY THE MILKY WAY has an elegance that is sometimes missing from my more complicated boxes.

The man in the moon, backed by an astrolabe of copper, stares longingly at the Milky Way from his small doorway in the moon. His job is to be the keeper of moonlight and to keep track of the moon phases with his calendar etched on the inside of the door. It's a great job...he's the envy of all his friends....still he wonders what it would be like to orchestrate the stars in the Milky Way.

This moon show was one of the best that I have attended at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts. The artwork was superb and the public was very generous with their comments and their wallets. It was also a great chance to get to visit with fellow artists....including Donna Snow and Morgan Brig. Check out their's exceptional. I am grateful to my friends who came to the opening to support me and to my dear friend, Kristi, who took these photos....of course, I forgot my camera and didn't have a chance to take studio images of this piece before I had to deliver it. This box sold on the opening night but because it is an edition of 5 there is still a chance to own AWED BY THE MILKY WAY.