“Where did you get those lovely earrings?” asked the elegant Santa Fe lady in her New Mexican style dress, wearing lots of silver and turquoise jewelry.
“My sister, Su Lawson, in Vancouver,Canada, made them” I said, proudly.
When I visited my older sister in Fairbanks, Alaska, and she introduced me to her friends, the question was always “Is she the one who makes the earrings?” to which we chant in unison “No, she’s the other one.”
Mary Ann (right) and I(left) wear Su’s earrings with pride.
Here are some balloons she made for the Albuquerque balloon fiesta in October.
And lots of other shapes and sizes; one of my favorites is a set of sea creatures, necklace and earrings. I call the Question Mark & Exclamation Mark my academic earrings, and wear them when I am with schoolchildren. Many others are jointed and jangle beautifully. They are made of aluminum so very light.
“How do you do it, Su?”
“I paint small sheets of aluminum, sometimes differently on both sides, then anneal or heat them in a little bath to toughen them and make them less brittle.”
“The shapes and designs are so varied! How do you ever think them up?”
“Oh, that’s not the hardest part, I have lots of ideas.”
“What’s the hardest part?”
“Cutting out the shapes, and filing the edges smooth. My poor hands and fingers are not as young as they used to be and it has become a bit hard to do that work.”
“You always give Mary Ann and me lots and lots of your great pieces, but you must sell some.”
“I go to craft fairs when I can afford a booth, and have enough to sell.”
“They are so terrific and unique, you must make a lot of money.”
“Ha! There is no way I could charge enough to cover all the work that goes into making a pair, and there is so much cheaper jewelry around, it’s difficult.”
“And I know the artist is usually the worst business person.”
“You know we couldn’t sell many at your Balloon Fiesta, and when they eventually paid me for those they had sold, the US$ had changed in value to the Canadian$, so I actually lost money. Very disappointing.”
“If only people knew what a lot of work went into making your unique earrings, they might be more willing to pay a proper price, but we have the same problem in New Mexico about high prices for the handmade Indian jewelry and rugs.”
“I’ll never be rich.”
“But you’ll always be famous, as everyone comments on the earrings Mary Ann and I wear.”
“I love you for that.”
“And we love you too.”