Reflecting on summer work, studio residencies, ‘from the field’ & ‘giving tuesday’

Resident Artist at Maine Farmland Trust’s artist residency at the Joseph Fiore Art Center. Photo by Kristin Dillon | Blue Horse Photo

Jeweler and Painter

If you received my recent email you may have already linked to the Maine Farmland Trust website page, with the snippet I wrote about my month long residence. There is so much to share! They even used my little watercolor sketch as the header of the past residents page, I am so honored. I could wax poetic about this experience for hours but here is a snippet.

Jefferson Maine is a formative place for me. I spent my childhood summers going to our log cabin ‘the camp,‘ built by my father, brothers and uncles, shortly before his life was eclipsed by cancer while I was very young.


It sits just a few miles away from where this artist’s center now exists, which would make my father so thrilled had he been alive to see this materialize. This camp I now share with siblings, is on the banks of a nearby body of water much smaller than this setting on Damariscotta Lake. The landscape is a part of my cellular memory, the plants almost a part of my DNA. This experience was a priceless opportunity to re-connect with parts of my integral artist being, for I began my adult life as a painter. This time reassured me, that my instincts are correct and I now have a path to pursue a project that will hopefully come to fruition in 2020.

Haystack and Legacies

Not only this one residency but I was fortunate to have  kicked off summer with a freezing two week residency at another precious place, Haystack.  I was accompanied by many amazing artists that I now feel are friends and colleagues.  I want to simply state how important artists residency’s are to an artist’s practice and development.

(NOTE: read more about Haystack and how it connects to my graduate school at Cranbrook and Black Mountain School, where Joseph Fiore studied and taught – click on the link above, which links to much press about the current exhibition about Haystacks formative years).

Giving Tuesday and Not for Profit Arts Organizations

So, as the paradigm  in the US does not currently support not for profit arts organizations such as these two, nor is it supportive of artists in general so please consider how you can help.

Thankfully places like Haystack School of Craft and Maine Farmland Trust continue to raise funds to support artists such as myself in our passions and our need for time and place to work. For this I am grateful… but I am also asking, as we are upon ‘Giving Tuesday’ to consider donating to as many arts organizations as you can.

I will just end with some images that Kristin Dillon of Blue Horse Photo took of me in my studio the open studio day at the Joseph Fiore Art Center.

Utricularia vulgares in guoache on 22″ x30″ BFK rives black paper. Plant was released back into the lake from my kayak.
I did not draw or paint directly from this microscope borrowed from Maine Mychological Association, but it would help me look at plant structures so I could adapt my brushstroke to reference the gesture of growth habit. Sometimes counting parts for accuracy in morphology.
It was fun to see what details Kristin picked up with her lens. Wonderful person and wonderful photography.

A watercolor sketch of the black walnut tree outside of my studio I became quite enamored with.
22″ x 30″ moss gouache painting on paper by j.e. paterak- haircap moss on rock from stonewall at Rolling Acres Farm

Photographing my jewelry being worn on “real people”

I was so excited when the idea came to me to photograph my work on my friends. Those that I see regularly, those that I sometimes run into wearing something I made a long time ago, or friends I mainly “see” on social media. I realized that if it makes me happy to see my work actually being worn, then maybe that is just what I need to show my work off to the world.

Betsy S wearing j.e.paterak
Betsy S. wearing her own “pod” earrings in silver, and my hot off the bench “seed” pendant. Betsy was a big part of the inspiration to photograph my work on friends.

Navel-gazing comes naturally to someone who has in excess of 6 years of art school. Add to that dozens of workshops (which I have to thank for my true knowledge base as a jeweler), and it is hard to “let go”.  Whether I am thinking about the world, thinking about my work, what inspires me, to “what it all means”, it is an indulgence and a gift I am grateful for, and it ultimately informs my work.

At long last, it occurred to me that if I am going to attempt to make my living from my work again, presenting the work on the body has been a a critical missing piece, until now. Seeing my work in a case or a box, is far from seeing it on the body.

So I bought a new camera (“Squee” a sound of joy at a new small Lumix equipped with just enough features for me to customize shots with its precise Leica lens). I started to invite whomever would indulge my amateur skills as a photographer, spending a little time catching up, being silly in the gorgeous light of my studio.

Tracie R. with earrings and "pod" pendant with pearl
Tracie R. with earrings and “pod” pendant with pearl










j.e.paterak jewelry
Jolene M. with “science-y” pendant in sterling and sterling hoop earrings
j.e.paterak jewelry handmade maine made sterling necklace
Derek J. wearing “bubbles” fabricated pendant in sterling and 18k







Real people. It is so special to me that my friends all seem to have their own unique style and come from many walks of life. It was important to me that I didn’t use cookie cutter model types but a cross section of hair color, skin color and age. Beauty is all around us and in us (see my next post about Iris).

Mikki L. wearing bubble earrings
Mikki L. wearing bubble earrings

Creating beauty, creating change

Holiday gift giving? We know the joy receiving jewelry can bring so we certainly hope bloomstudio jewelry might be something you are considering. Gift giving is a very personal decision and selecting something can be challenging, we are here to help if you feel like you could use some assistance, give us a call. We are available for last minute shoppers too.

Thank you to all who came out for my shows at MECA and at Breakwater, your support means a lot to me! Thank you and happy holidays!


BloomStudio Jewelry will have a POP UP SHOP at Speedwell Projects Gallery on Munjoy Hill

Tuesday December 20- 2-7 PM

Speedwell Gallery is at 1 North Street just across from the fire station, come see me, a couple other artisans and the work of Juliet Karelson now on view.


Featuring newly designed “Geo” bracelet in oxidized sterling silver.

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Iris, living fully in every sense of the word

I just watched the documentary film, Iris on Netflix. It was so wonderful, I just have to share my enthusiasm, and wonder how I missed the exhibition a few years ago while it was at the Peabody Essex Museum. “Meeting” Iris via this film’s presentation was eye opening. I cannot remember the last time I laid down my hard earned cash to buy a fashion magazine. Yet I find that  I have recently become more aware of a few hidden gems in the fashion world; like Alexander McQueen and a hat maker he worked closely with, Philip Treacy. The existence of these makers seems more interesting to me than the art jewelry world I used to aspire to belong to.

After all, this style maven, Iris,  has been around since well, practically a century!

Iris, looking much more restrained that her trademark self, but gorgeous just the same.

I loved the film and Iris for several reasons. First and foremost, this woman is not afraid to look different. How many people can you say that about? Secondly, I love her because she loves accessories, much like myself only with no restraint, which I cannot say about myself. But most importantly I love that Iris was a late bloomer. She really came to be everything she is now famous for in her 90s! She and her husband seemed to have had an endearing relationship and she thrived with his support.

The other reason why I wanted to share this film with others, is her comments in the dialog about her choosing to look her age and not being afraid of the aging process.

I recently had several conversations with my friends as I photographed them wearing my work for this website, and so many of us are apologetic about our very human selves. Our hands, our ears, our skin’s wrinkles, our skins colors and age markings, none of it seems “right” or “photogenic”. But if we can all just remember that we are all human before we are any kind of reproduced version of our selves, aren’t we all sort of miraculous and unique? Let’s just run with that idea.


earrings and ring

Staying original

earrings and ring

My reluctance to repeat designs is a tenacious way of staying original, right?

One of the best aspects of opening your studio for customers to visit, look and shop is that it is a lovely conversation. The best feeling as a designer and a maker is realizing that what you make often resonates with others, the common thread becomes alive. I have the distinct pleasure of having some wonderful artists and designers as my customers. One has been buying my work since my very first retail show back in 1995 or 1996, the first Portland Craft Show. And not just that they bought a piece of my work, but it was a “signature” piece, one that had been published in books and in American Craft. That transaction has also blossomed into a wonderful friendship between the four of us (spouses included). This particular customer was even very forgiving and supportive as I morphed out of being a jeweler, rode random career waves etc. Through thick and thin, they would inquire, what I have been making and when could they take a look.

This has been profoundly meaningful to me because it has allowed me to resurface and begin again, which is no easy feat (and I will leave it at that).

But Lynda was not alone, there others who visited I was so grateful to see, who may have known me in various capacities, but were all excited to be here as much as I was. Seeing my tools and set up in my little perch of a studio that is propped on the edge of my house, dovetailing with the plants and animals out of the windows, which give my eyes a rest from time to time.

Some friends and customers came wearing my work, many of the pieces I may have forgotten, but remembered once again as I see them come alive being worn. I realize that sometimes my best work, are things I should “put into production” because they would “sell well”. Here is where I either go right or wrong, for some reason I have a hard time repeating myself. I am easily bored, so I have to keep dreaming up new ideas and playing. Perhaps it is a stubborn inner child (or too much art school -thinking money poisons everything- and it can). But lets face it, I do need to strike a balance, we all do. But I refuse to stop playing, in fact now I am going to “play harder” if that makes any sense.

Amy wears my slanted "cluster" bubbles in sterling.
Amy wears my slanted “cluster” bubbles in sterling.

I suppose I just want my customers to know that for better or for worse, when you buy my work you are getting an original, and most likely there is only one, or possibly two, or three similar items you could ever cross paths with. While I do cast some elements and I occasionally make multiples, but after that first batch of items I am likely to have moved on. All my old molds aged out (cracked/stick together/died), and I am debating whether to go back to repeat and rebuild or tweak designs, or forego casting altogether, as it is costly.

I am no shrinking violet when it comes to using materials, when I was a painter I loved thick and juicy brushstrokes, non of that dry brush on canvas look for me, I am more of a Rembrandt (I love looking at his paintings up close), hot juicy strokes of red and yellow sitting right up off the surface. So with metal (really with wax, which is what I carve), I love it feeling solid, not wishy washy or weak. But with metal prices high I may begin studying the value of lightness, and for that study I look to Calvino, in his Six Memos for the Next Millennium;


“Whenever humanity seems condemned to heaviness, I think I should fly like Perseus into a different space. I don’t mean escaping into dreams or into the irrational. I mean that I have to change my approach, look at the world from a different perspective, with a different logic and with fresh methods of cognition {for me – making} and verification. The images of lightness that I seek should not fade away like dreams dissolved by the realities of present and future…”


So we will see what 2016 brings as I enter into a year trying to juggle fewer responsibilities, and with that I hope comes lightness. But certainly I hope to evade the trap of becoming known for one thing, I am too much of a polymath. I also hope to evade the feeling of heaviness in life.

Thank you friends and others

Well this post meandered a bit, but it was also to say a very special thank you to friends and others who took the time out of your busy weekend to come by to say hi and to shop for yourself or with others, it was so nice to end 2015 this way.

two rings on DD
Danuta and her two rings purchased in previous years.