Dr. James Ciaravella retired as a heart surgeon in 2003. Jim’s story is interesting and inspiring. With a second home in Starr Valley, Wyoming, he and his wife were perusing the shops of Jackson Hole. He tells me his wife saw a mirror she admired- accented with a whimsical boot motif on the frame and Jim told her he could make one for her.
When a friend saw the mirror, he suggested that Jim should make more and gave him the name of a designer, in Jackson, to contact. Jim went to her store and noticed it was modern and contemporary, but he told the owner his friend said the boot mirrors were “hot right now”. Knowing Jim’s friend, and obviously respecting his expertise, the designer bought the two Jim had, and one he was working on. The mirrors sold well and he kept making them, each with a little different design.
Jim taught himself leather tooling and saddle-making techniques, and used those skills in his mirror frames. He began making belts and they sold well. Since then he has branched out into painting and sculpting-creating beautiful western art, and furniture, some whimsical and some traditional.
His six gun and fishing rod-belt hooks and toilet paper holders got a lot of attention at the show we participated in recently. Dr. James Ciaravella, owner and curator of Dr. C’s Designs, is a gracious Southern gentleman, with a penchant for creating art. He has an astute business mind, and is eager to see other artists succeed. We were fortunate to share a space next to him at this year’s Western Design Conference.
Does your work inspire you to try your hand at new things? What have you added to your list lately? Tell us about it in the comments below.
This Scottish Chest has 400-500 hours of Chapman’s time alone in it, and another 100 hours from local artisans in the woodworking, ironwork and silversmithing trades. Many of her tools are homemade to create the look she is after. She also uses traditional saddle stamping tools.
Chris is a certified Verterinary Technician and says anatomy and physiology studies have added to the detail seen in the animals she includes in her leather designs; horses, deer and birds are just a few.
Interviewing Chris about the work she does taught me that she is very committed to her art, her love of history and animals, and the freedom of working in her craft to make a living. It was an honor to meet her, and get a close up look at the beautiful work her hands create.
You can learn more about Chris Chapman and the work she does at her website: chapmandesigninc.com
I love a road trip, and we recently made a wind through the backroads to The Western Design Conference in Jackson, Wyoming.
The show this year was encouraging and inspirational, as well as just plain fun.
Mike did a beautiful job of designing and finishing our Vintage Rustic light sconce. It is a heavy gauged copper, glass and mica wall sconce in the Craftsman style. The warm colors of the glass are framed by hand hammered copper bands and set off by the soft glow of silver mica insets. This light is one we can imagine in a set, lining the walls of a home theater, softly lighting a hallway, or welcoming visitors as an entry light in a covered area.
It measures 28″ high with a 12″ width at the top and tapering to 9 1/2″ at the bottom, but it could be duplicated in a smaller form.
We juried this piece and were situated with a couple of other lighting pieces that were equally beautiful; a stained glass and wood floor lamp and an antler chandelier. We would like to suggest that the conference include a lighting category in the future; there are so many options for materials.
We connected with old friends and made new ones at this conference, found ourselves awed each day by something new we experienced in the talent at the show, and admired the skills of so many artisans and craftsmen. Mike’s wheels are already turning on the next project he will design if we return next year.
We enjoyed our stay with friends from our desert, who summer in Jackson-their long time home. And who wouldn’t find this view refreshing?
Has your summer inspired new ideas for home décor projects you’re ready to begin? Please tell us about them in the comments below.
The beautiful copper light sconces Mike is making in the shop these days, never stop surprising me. The colors he brings out with heat and his original hand textures are always unique and captivating.
Some of the lights are dramatic, reflecting the bold colors of the desert and the deep textures of the surrounding rocks.
Others are simple- calming and soothing. They accent their surroundings with an uncomplicated presence.
Some are whimsical . . .
Some are realistic . . .
And some are practical.
All are one of a kind, made by two people who appreciate the freedom to “live a simple life, working with our hands, and minding our own business.”
What is your favorite material for lighting? Do you like the combination of copper and glass? Let us know in the comments below.
The West is known for its simple and rustic flavor. Bringing the outside in, and the inside out is the way of the West.
Whole rooms are created without walls just to savor the fresh air and draw in the night sky, like this one by Lesa Loves Rocks.
Elements of wood and stone are brought indoors and turned into unusual and practical furnishings.
But to me, the most interesting flair of the West is the accents we use to embellish our homes and community spaces.
We use old signs, recycled and embellished, and sometimes left as is.
We can’t get enough of rusty things to hang on our walls.
We use antlers and skulls from cattle and buffalo to create focal points and frame artwork.
Symbols of the enduring hard edges of a rough environment. Reminders of the resiliency of the inhabitants.
Next month, from September 4-7, will mark the 22nd annual Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and we will be participating artists there. We look forward to seeing the incredible pieces of art that represent the West-old and new.
What is your favorite piece of Western Art? Do you mix it up with other styles in your home? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks.
The tags on the collection say the collector was Phil Smith, of the California Barbed Wire collectors Association, and the display was part of a challenge from The American Barbed Wire Journal titled- “1868-1968- 100 Years of barbed wire.”
Here we are in the thick of summer and across the nation, the weather is powerful and unusual.
In the Southwest, where we live and work, the skies are overcast and violet with the moisture high in the atmosphere-the ground still parched.
Then the evening skies are on fire with rust, crimson and gold. The iron oxide in the red rocks creates a glow in the intense summer sun.
These are the colors of copper in its unique transformation by fire.
These are the properties that draw us in and continue to intrigue us . . . that make copper art so enticing.
Do you see copper art in a neutral setting; linen walls and black accents? Or would you pair it with bold turquoise and coral? Let us know in the comments below.
Part of being a maker is being asked to “Make this work again”. Repairing broken artwork is scary, whether it’s glass, metal or wood. Undoing is always risky, and there is the pressing chance that the repair will not be successful. Then what? Start from scratch? Well sometimes that would be the easier way.
There is the essence of the art to preserve, the uniqueness to keep in perspective. Usually there is a measure of strengthening; shoring up to work into the project. And it is especially difficult if it is someone else’s art we’ve been asked to repair.
Sometimes a customer believes that since the repair is only a small part of the project- it should go quickly and therefore, cost should be minimal. As anyone knows who has taken something apart and put it back together, the time factor is huge and should be considered. If it really was as easy as pie, “you wouldn’t be bringing it to us for repair, would you?”
Most people really are aware of the difficulty and are patient, and willing to pay for the time involved. I recreated a piece for some friends that gave me new motivation when it was finished. They had purchased a beautiful gemstone inlaid globe in a copper stand. It was damaged in shipping and they asked if I could reproduce the shattered compass point. It was a huge challenge but one that lifted my confidence when it was done. They were happy and I learned some new math skills in the process- a win for both of us.
My workbench is full, right now, of pieces I’ve been asked to repair, and that seems to be the time my mind soars with new ideas I would like to undertake. But nevertheless; I must get to those restorations. They can be the test of a persevering spirit, a resolute challenge.
And when they are finished . . . Oh the sigh of relief.
Do you have repair projects of your own that you have been putting off? How do you motivate yourself to get crackin’? Tell us about them in the comments below.
The two pieces of art I wrote about recently; Copper Elephant Curiosity and Copper Solar Flare were part of a collection bound for a business in Sacramento. Thank you to The Ambiance Group for sharing photos with me of the artwork commissioned for their client’s office.
These pieces of copper art all have a different process of development, from design to finish. Some are created using separate pieces of copper with different textures, and some are single pieces with a unique story of their own to convey.
Collectively, they make up a vibrant and intriguing accent to the area. This is also the case with much of the art I have been noticing in our Health Care facility while I wait for a family member being treated there.
This resin sculpture was created by local artists 3form, Darin Harker, and PMI. It is calming and mesmerizing. The other end of the space has an orange sculpture of similar structure that is vivid and invigorating.
At the elevator entrance there is a triptych of glass and Amber Onyx. This work reflects the desert canyons around us with its simplicity and natural wonder.
Outside the window where I write as I wait, giant wind-sculptures by Whitaker Studios move ever so subtly in the almost nonexistent breeze. The beauty of these sculptures captures my attention each time I encounter one of them.
Numerous photos of slot canyons, wildlife and nature hang on many walls in our public places, but I believe it is the sculptural art that is beginning to catch my eye.
Seeing the collections Mike creates for our clients has made me more aware of the public art I experience in my everyday life. Who created it? Does it calm me or energize me? Would I like to see it hanging in my home?
How do you feel about the art you encounter in your world? Tell us about it in the comments below.