new work meet the maker


Snowpocalypse Round up

We’re buried in snow. BURIED. With our sixth foot of snow in 19 days (and, dear God, more coming tomorrow), we’re not exactly sure where to put all that powder. We’re starting to get antsy, even though there’s plenty of time for outdoor snowy fun because the kids hardly. Ever. Have school anymore, for all the snow days.

All these snowed-in no-school-no-work days have given us lots of time find some yummy recipes, explore some new art, watch plenty of movies, and get crazy in the snow. Here’s a list of some of the goodness we’ve kept busy with lately:

The Tall Girl has a renewed interest in drawing, so I hooked her up with Creativebug, and she’s going through Lisa Congdon’s Line Drawing class, and loving it. (as a bonus, I’ve listened in on her lessons and done some linework and doodling myself.)

For Valentines Day, the Small Girl is bringing these Oreo pops to her classmates, and I’m making these strawberry roses for my peeps.

With all this snow and ice, I’m dreaming of the surf and sand, and loving these images of waves crashing.

This Creamy Chicken and Rice recipe was a cinch to make, and delicious to boot.

I’ve become mildly obsessed with Jeffrey Hunt’s shockingly gorgeous gemstones. I mean. What I wouldn’t do to be able to design some pieces around a few of those beauties.

I enjoyed this worthwhile article on being an artist. Here’s a quote from it:
“Being an artist is not just about what happens when you are in the studio. The way you live, the people you choose to love and the way you love them, the way you vote, the words that come out of your mouth, the size of the world you make for yourselves, your ability to influence the things you believe in, your obsessions, your failures — all of these components will also become the raw material for the art you make.”

If you’re in need of a chuckle, check out this video of American kids trying breakfasts from around the world.

Two weeks ago, I had a blizzard sale in my shop. Today, I’m upping the ante, and having a now-this-is-just-getting-ridiculous sale. Enter “snowpocalypse” during checkout for 20% off in the shop through Saturday. (Does not include custom items).

I’d love to hear how you’ve been passing your cold, snowy days away.


If you’ve been to Squam Art Workshops, you don’t need me to tell you.

If you’ve seen the 6 years worth of blog posts, instagram pics, Facebook updates, and twitter quips from other attendees, then you probably have a good idea.

Everything you think about Squam is true: Simple, rustic cabins. An overall scent of pine needles. Twinkling lights. The earthy smell of so many crackling fireplaces. Postcard-pretty dock and lake views from every cabin. It is woodsy perfection.  It’s even better than you imagined, but you know what? This is not at all what makes Squam, Squam.

Of course it’s the people, who make Squam what it is.

Seldom does one get to be completely immersed among a group of creative thinkers and makers, brought together by a woman who is an intuitive soul, a gracious host, and an inspiring spirit. A maven, she is, connecting folks from all over the world, who just so happen to all be part of the same tribe.

Well, I am here to tell you: when you’re surrounded by your people, your “tribe,” a whole lotta magic happens.

It happens when you’re sitting by the fireplace, getting to know each other. It happens when you’re eating copious amounts of bacon together at breakfast. It happens when you’re belly laughing like you haven’t done in a long time, and when you’re tearing up because someone feels so comfortable that they tell you about their hurty heart. Sparks fly when you’re in class, when you’re swimming in that glorious lake, when you’re lounging on the docks with a glass of wine in your hand, and when you’re headed back to the cabin but run into some new friends in the middle of the dark road, and decide to linger with them instead. Creative chemistry abounds. It fuels connections and collaborations, and it pushes you to be brave in your art or craft.

It makes you dream bigger than you ever thought you would.

Counting Down

We’re looking forward to so much in the coming days and months. Our household has several calendars, denoting a slew of things to be excited for.

We’re counting down to:

The last day of school: 10 days

Last day of soccer: 1 day (unless the Tall Girl’s team goes to the State Championship, in which case I fear soccer will never. end.)

Beach days: ASAP

A cabin in the woods: not soon enough

Surfing in New Jersey with cousins: a month

The fair: 6 weeks

A handful of camps: all in August

Squam: 3 long months

There’s so much to look forward to in the coming months, but I also know that some of the best memories come from the in-between times. The long, warm days bring impromptu gatherings, sweet lazy moments, and those inevitable fun-filled late nights where the kids run wild in the dark and the parents laugh into the wee hours.

Ten! Nine! Eight!…

On March. (and marching on)

This. month.

This month is…challenging. Here in New England, March is the month of unmet weather expectations, dirty snow, gray days, and mud.

In a funny blurb I saw yesterday, someone is quoted as saying, “To me, the months between November and April are set aside for shivering and depression, with occasional squalls of rage.” At the moment, I concur, but the truth is: I love winter. Honestly, I don’t mind the shoveling one bit. Bring on the drippy icicles, the sparkly blanket of snow, and the snuggly hibernation. I’m game. But along comes March and suddenly I am done with all the cold and snow already. I start to plot our move back to San Diego. I wonder why anyone lives in the north. It devolves quickly from there.

At this time of year, inspiration, bright colors, and adventure are utterly necessary. So, to bridge the pretty days of deep winter and the sweet-smelling days of early spring, I’m on a mission. I’m doing my best to make every day this month a little bit happier, from keeping creatively engaged, to cooking new foods.

Here’s what I’m up to:

It’s always good to be reminded how to stay cheerful and recharge in these late-winter doldrums.

I’ll be making these potstickers to keep things new in the kitchen. And I’m hoping that the girls will like at least a few of these granola/granola bar recipes. We’ve tried lots of granola recipes over the years, and they are so hit or miss in my household.

These giant crepe paper roses would be a lovely burst of color.

My family has planned a local museum tour. We visited the Museum of Fine Arts last week, will be exploring the ICA this week, and next week it’s the Fuller Craft Museum. We’re so lucky to live to close to such great institutions.

(I’m struck by this Neil Welliver painting. How did I not know about him until now?)

This kitten cam is filling any gaps of cuteness we may be experiencing.

I read this article, 18 Things Highly Creative Things People Do Differently. Of course, the “shake things up” point is hitting home right now.

How are you keeping things bright and fun in this patience-testing time of year?

Mid-Winter Mind Wanderings

I’ve been settled into the new studio for a few weeks now and oh, the natural light. Even in this cloudy, freezing weather, the presence of light has an uplifting affect.

The reality of the transition to working out of the home was presented to me loud and clear when, in the first full week I was to be working there, my Tall Girl got sick and was out of school for days. The very next week? A snow day. Initiation by fire, I guess. A couple of the things that had me fretting about not working at home have happened, and everything worked out just fine.

I’m in a groove now, and my new routine is refreshing.

I thought I’d share a few things that have been on my mind this winter:

>I sent out New Year’s cards this year (pictured above), which will be the new tradition. I just can’t make sense of — or time for– sending holiday cards out during the busiest time of year. But it was so very nice to sit down mid-January with a cup of tea, and write out my postcards.

>I’ve been drooling over the sketches in pencil and paint by Andrew Wyeth, that I found in this book. With just a few quick pencil lines or brushstrokes he conveys a story, complete with history and mood.

>Heard (from local delight-maker Eling) about this website that will make a font out of your own handwriting. If only I had a font-worthy hand.

>I’m doing some business soul-searching, and thinking about bigger vs. better. I’m considering paring down my offerings, in order to make my body of work more cohesive. Do you have experience with this? I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice.

> I stumbled across Hula Seventy on Instagram. Thoroughly enjoying her photography.

>I have committed to running  1000-miles in 2014, by joining a “1K Wonders” running group. So far, I’ve logged in a whopping zero miles, and I offer no excuses. Others in the group have already logged over 100 miles (I’m so impressed!). I’ll certainly have some extra mileage to crank out this spring, to catch up to everybody else. This article is getting me motivated to hit the road again.

>I’m in the midst of my annual winter purge-and-rearrange routine. Re-reading lots of old posts from Small Notebook  and trying to get a handle on the clutter that inevitably creeps back into our home. Next project? Tackling that junk drawer. Wish me luck!


Big News, Part Two

Big news abounds over here. Last week I announced that I’ll be teaching at Squam Art Workshops this coming fall. Today, I’m happy to announce that the AG Ambroult studio has moved!

I’ve left my super-convenient home studio behind for a gorgeous light-filled space just a few miles down the road. This is something I’ve been dreaming of for a long time, but family obligations and the obvious added expense of having a separate place to create kept me from taking the leap. At this point in my life, I’m ready. My family is ready. AG Ambroult, the brand, is ready. And now that I’m in that space I can tell, there’s no turning back (at least to my basement shop).

The building I’m in is one of those big old brick factory buildings. It’s full of creative and enterprising people like painters, furniture makers, claw-foot tub refinishers, antique dealers, and my favorite stained-glass artist and friend. The building had me at “art school smell” (fellow art school grads: you know). Solvents, compounds, sawdust, and paint — oh, it’s just heavenly!

My studio is long and narrow, with more than enough space to spread my wings (and my stuff). I have it divided in to two halves. One half will serve as the office, shipping station, and display area. The other half is the dirty, dusty side: my workbench and soldering station.

Best of all, I now have plenty of space to teach. This new setup allows me to expand my teaching offerings, which I will be doing promptly. In fact, before I had even worked a day in the new space, I taught a Wedding Ring Workshop there. Having a sweet couple in my studio to make their own wedding rings was the perfect way to christen it. They even brought champagne, so at the end of our session we toasted to their new rings, their upcoming marriage, and to my new shop.

As you can see, I still have some cleaning, setting up, and organizing to do, but that will all fall into place as I settle in to the new surrounding and find out what works best for me.

If you are local, come visit and see where the magic happens. If you’re not, I have a feeling I’ll be posting many more photos, as things start to take shape and it feels more broken in.

I’ll be posting some more info on my expanded class offerings, soon. Exciting!



Big News, Part One

Big news! Not breaking news, but still…huge.

No, this is not the newest, most up-to-the-minute update, as the official word was released in early December, but this is the first time I am shouting it out to the world. And I mean shouting. In fact, I’m bursting, so here it is:

I’m teaching at Squam this coming fall!

Eeeeek! I’ll be guiding students through a “cold connections” class called Oh So Chill, where they will learn various methods of joining metal without the use of a torch.

I am beyond excited but, alas, the wait is an eight-month-long one. Frankly, I think I’ll need the full eight months to come to terms with this amazing opportunity.

I had the pleasure of participating in the Squam Art Fair this past September and, while I have dreamed of someday attending a Squam retreat for years now, I never thought it would be a reality for me. Suddenly, I’ve been granted the chance to teach my craft to a group of creatives who likely have plenty to teach me, too. I have huge hopes for what might transpire that week.

2014 is shaping up to be nothing short of epic. There’s this news, yes, but there’s also a big studio move, and all kinds of other plans that I’ll be telling you more about soon.

Happy New Year!

Gift Guide

I put together a little gift guide this year. I could have gone on and on, deciding which pieces are perfect for which woman, but I stopped at six. In reality, all of my pieces are for every type of woman. I have been taught that time and again at my shows when the unlikeliest of people buy the most surprising pieces for themselves. There’s such delight in that for me!


A Soggy Finish

Yesterday, I did my last outdoor show of the 2013 season, and boy was it a send off. What was forecasted as “showers in the morning, turning to a cloudy Autumn day” should have sounded more like “downpours for the entirety of the show hours.”

C’est la vie. I do a good amount of shows, so I know they can be hit or miss, especially outdoor shows where weather can make or break it. And yesterday, well, the weather definitely broke it. (Let us not forget that garage bands can break it, too.)

wet tent walls

Today, I’m in rainy-show recovery mode. My studio is barely navigable, blocked in every direction by my still-dripping-wet tent walls that I hung up to dry. Paperwork is laid out on tables, and table coverings are tumbling in the dryer. Everything looks a little worse for the wear, all dirty and damp. My moss platter display, however, never looked better.

The event was held on a nature reserve, in the loveliest of settings. Stone wall-lined paths, open fields, hidden bridges, and trails. This place was classic New England, and with the Fall colors starting to explode, it really was a pastoral wonderland. I am positive that had it been a crisp Autumn day, that place would have been rockin’.

bridge in autumn

At the end of the day, I was relieved to schlep my tent, tent weights, etc…into the garage one last time, where they will sit until next May. And next May? I’ll enthusiastically pull them out again, blow the dust off, reorganize, and clean it all. Then I will head off to start another outdoor season full of sun, fun, and yes, I suppose rain, too.

Telling the Stories

We all have that one piece that we will always treasure. It’s a ring, or a brooch, or some other bauble that was gifted to us, one that we inherited, or a souvenir from a special place. We keep it tucked away safe in our jewelry boxes, and pull it out when we feel sentimental or when we need a little bit of connection. It is a link to our past, the catalyst for a memory. What makes it precious is not necessarily the dollar value, but the story.  From my own personal experience as both a jewelry owner and a jeweler, I know this is true.

jewelry stories, jewelry box

As a maker, I hear the stories first. Warm, sad, celebratory, caring, and humorous — the tales are human emotion needing a new presentation. It’s not fantasy, or spectacular fiction. For me, it’s beautiful prose, waiting to be translated into precious metals. Told with the help of tools, yes, but delivered with all the emotion and life experience the artist can bring to the project. A funny travel story, a sweet sentiment, an interesting material source, a fascinating factoid, a curious custom request, an emotional, heartfelt commission –I’ve been lucky to have had all of these “stories” behind pieces I have made, and these are the ones that stay with me.

From my personal jewelry box, the items I hold close are the things that belonged to my grandmothers, the pieces my parents gave to me when I was way too young to take good care of them (of course I was thrilled to receive those pieces at the time, which include a pearl ring, and a name plate bracelet), the necklaces my husband has given to me, and the things I bought on a trip around the world.

I recently wrote the story of a bracelet I purchased at a pre-dawn, high-altitude craft bazaar that I stumbled upon in the Himalayas. It’s over on My Life in Jewels, a blog that tells the stories of what lies in our jewelry boxes. I love the concept of a whole site dedicated to these tales, because we all have pieces we hold close to our hearts. From fancy family heirlooms to precious macaroni necklaces, each piece is equal in emotional value because of its history.

I’m willing to bet you have a jewelry story or two to share. Please do!

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