There were six of us seated at the picnic table in the common area of our campground. Three couples, along with Thom’s alter ego, Juan Moretime, and Brett’s alter ego, Donald Duck, bringing the total to eight people. Thom was telling a story about a conversation on his CB between Juan and another trucker. His narration of the story was punctuated with comments from Donald Duck, as the Pilot kept pouring wine for everyone. Need I say that we were laughing the whole time?
By the way…Thom, Brett and the Pilot are the “Dudes” referenced in the title. The designer rose above all the fray!
I’m telling you this story because sitting beside her husband was Karen, smiling while Juan cracked us up with his tale. When the talk finally turned to different topics, I was surprised, and then in awe, to learn of Karen’s accomplishments .
Karen Metcalf is one of our neighbors while we’re here in Angel Fire. In the course of talking with her I found out that Karen designs and creates jewelry. It wasn’t that she was bragging about it. Far from it. It was because Dianne, Brett’s wife, was raving about Karen’s creativity. I knew I wanted to know this woman who had deep reserves of experience, intelligence and complete artistry. You may think that I’ve gone a little bit overboard in describing her but wait until you read the rest of this story.
Karen has a Master of Arts Education and has taught high school and college in Massachusetts, Florida, Denmark and Venezuela. She also teaches privately. Karen and Thom’s home base is in Green Valley, AZ when they aren’t on the road doing shows. This is where she has her studio.
While Karen was in college she took courses in textiles, ceramics and metalsmithing. It was during this time that she developed her love of making jewelry. Her favorite metal to work with is silver and she has created some uniquely beautiful pieces.
I asked her what she used for inspiration in designing and making jewelry. Thom laughed and said, “Wait until you hear this.”
“I get inspired by funny things. My husband was showing me how to check the oil in the RV. He showed me where the dipstick was and made me pull it out to wipe it off. I liked the pattern on the bottom of the dipstick where it tells how much oil you have. When I finished my lesson I went inside and designed silver dipsticks! I put a pattern on the bottom, just like the dipstick, and a loop at the top that mimics the finger loop on a dipstick. I then added some decorations and stones to make it fancy. It’s now called an Egyptian Stick.” Karen said.
This is the end result of Karen’s lesson on checking the systems of an RV! This should give you some incentive to become creative too.
This is Karen’s signature piece. This photo doesn’t begin to show you the depth and beauty of this textured bracelet that holds an ebony treasure.
WARNING: This next paragraph and photos are for the ladies!
The photos above are Karen showing me how to measure a cuff to see if it will fit your wrist. Hold the cuff over your knuckles and if you can see three knuckles, you’ll know you have a good fit. The next photo shows you an easy way to slip the cuff on…and off. Slip a plastic bag over your hand and slide the cuff on. When removing the cuff, slide the plastic bag on your hand, tuck it under and beyond the cuff and then slide the cuff off.
Karen’s pieces are three-dimensional artwork and sculptures. She showed me the necklace on the right above. I was going to ask her the name of the stone encased in the silver when I realized there wasn’t any. It was all in the way she had created the piece that made it appear like a stone was encased. Rather, what I saw on the inside was gold reflecting from the back. That’s artistry. These pieces are like little pillows in shape. The picture on the left is the same as the one on the right except for an embossed design on it.
“I sometimes get ideas from just looking at nature. I love to look at flowers and plants. I get a lot of ideas from Lowe’s Home Improvement Store’s garden section so I make buds or abstract flowers. The good thing about that is I don’t have a green thumb so instead of planting flowers in my garden and watering them all the time, I decided to start making flowers out of metals. And, they don’t die!” Karen laughingly told me.
Here is Karen’s whimsical side…a chain for your sunglasses. People have stopped her to ask where she got her chain. She’s been known to sell the chains off her neck!
This is a tube choker. She has made seven of them for Thom…and sold all of them off his neck at her showings! This habit of selling items they are wearing carries on! She has since made Thom another one that is silver and gold and has promised him, no matter what, she won’t sell it off his neck!
Above are some more cuffs, heart necklaces and pins that Karen has created. She purposely designed the cuffs to be worn with the opening on top of the wrist. The reason is…bracelets like these normally fall to the back of the wrist as your move your hand. Now, as they fall naturally you are still left with a beautiful design. Pretty creative isn’t she?
This piece is genius! This necklace is called “Tribal Paddle” and the name should tell you where she got her inspiration. This is a good lesson in looking around you to see what inspires you.
Last, but certainly not least, is the turquoise necklace that the Pilot bought for me. Did you honestly think I could get through this interview and not buy something? Before you ask…yes, she’s making me matching earrings.
And, if all that I’ve told you of Karen’s accomplishments isn’t enough…she also went on archaeological digs while in college. Little did she know when she was talking about it that I’m writing a book and my protagonist is an archaeologist! Now, don’t you think she deserves the high praise I gave her in the beginning?
I love meeting our neighbors in the different RV Parks where we stay. You never know who you’ll meet and what you’ll learn. If you want to contact Karen for any information or questions, you can email her at email@example.com
Stay strong and steady with the wind always blowing at your back
as you travel down the road to your next adventure.
Until next week…keep creating Sentimental Journeyz in your RV.