Finding My Lost Creative Mojo in Time to Help Relief Efforts in Fort McMurray

EtsyAwards_Productslide_CountrySharing news about my own work feels very strange to me. I’d share this story in a heartbeat if it was about another artist. But I’m biting the bullet and sharing a story for my local paper. I now understand that people are sincere when they say “It is an honour to be nominated”. It really is an honour! I joined Etsy in March and applied for their “New Talent” award. I’m one of 60 Canadians in the contest.

Since the demise of our magazine “Metal Clay Artist” I lost my creative mojo. I floundered in my studio not really doing much more than organizing my supplies. That was until my friend, Alabama artist Kathleen Nowak Tucci quite literally kicked me in the butt! She invited me for a visit and had planned activities to spark my lost creative mojo. Etching aluminum caught my attention. I started by etching images my kids drew and I was hooked. Of course metal clay will work it’s way back into my jewellery line…I have ideas to pair etched aluminum components with metal clay pieces. But that’s going on in the background in my studio. Right now I’m trying to establish a business with my etched jewellery.

Metal Clay Artist Magazine had subscribers from all over the world…including subscribers in Fort McMurray, Alberta. I went through our list and tried to contact some of them to see how they were after the huge forest fire that took over their city. I actually found a few who had the same cell phone number as they had when they signed up for the magazine. They were happy to chat. At the same time that I was reaching out to artists, I found out I was in the running  for a $10,000 prize…but it is a “vote for me” contest. I’m currently in 7th place out of 60. I could win it if I had help. And in turn, I could help with relief efforts in Fort McMurray. Many of you know first hand how rocky things were here after the magazine business collapsed. Your generosity and that of my friend Kathleen are inspiring me to shamelessly promote the Etsy contest as I’d like to “Pay it forward” with the prize. So please… “vote for me”.  https://etsyawards.com/ca/Finalist-33/SassyandStella

fireFor background information on the situation in Fort McMurray, Alberta Canada: 1. http://globalnews.ca/news/2679437/fort-mcmurray-wildfire-pet-owners-desperate-to-save-animals-left-behind/

2.http://edmontonjournal.com/business/local-business/insurance-losses-from-fort-mcmurray-fire-could-top-9-billion-analyst-says

Local Artist Wants to Help Fort McMurray Relief Effort as She Competes for $10,000 Prize

Froese LeBlancJeannette Froese-LeBlanc is thrilled to be one of 10 Canadian finalists in the New Talent division and she is eligible for the “Community’s Choice Grand Prize” with a cash prize of $10,000. Voting is taking place online via: EtsyAwards.com in the “Canadian New Talent” division. As her votes come in, Jeannette is dreaming of ways she could use the prize to help with relief efforts in Fort McMurray.

For the past seven years Jeannette promoted the work of other jewellery artists in a magazine she produced called, “Metal Clay Artist”. It was distributed in 67 countries and it was a growing business. “Technology made it possible for 8 people to work in 3 different time zones! It was marvelous! Our editors and designers were located in Canada, the UK, and the USA. Unfortunately, our distributor declared bankruptcy and took ours and many other print magazines down with them. We’ve moved online thanks to our fabulous artistic community and site sponsors.” The new site for jewellery artists is called Creative Fire.

“After mourning the loss of the magazine for about a year, I slowly started to get back into my studio. But I wasn’t going anywhere with my work. A good friend of mine from Alabama invited me to her studio and taught me some techniques for etching aluminum. I haven’t stopped working in my studio since” remarks Jeannette. “It’s funny how even our creative muscles can suffer and get out of shape!”

Prior to starting a magazine, Jeannette was an artist and a school art teacher. “For years I worked in silver and metal clay. But aluminum has changed how I work and how I view patterns. The process takes many steps from setting up the image on my computer to masking the metal, etching, cleaning and polishing. Each step is very different and seeing the pattern evolve is very interesting and often leads me to new ideas.”

When asked why she named her studio “Sassy and Stella” she says, “I know online well as I’ve visited hundreds and hundreds of artists’ sites over the years. But I also knew no one ever spelled my name right so I needed a simple online address. Everything I wanted was taken. I spent weeks trying new names. I asked everyone I knew for suggestions and was just about to give up when my friend’s rescue dog “Sassy” came in the room…followed by her other dog “Stella”. On a whim, I tried their names for an online shop and ‘bingo’ I could get an online site! I think the name really works for my jewellery line, plus, Sassy and Stella are two very cool rescue dogs!”

“Winning this prize could certainly be a game changer for me!” said Jeannette. “There are things I dream of for my studio work that are out of my reach. But instead I want to help someone else. My friend in Alabama was generous in so many ways and I would like to pay it forward. I have so many ideas of how I think $10 000 could help others. I named my studio after two rescued stray dogs…so I think it is quite fitting that I find a way to help some of the animal shelters in Fort McMurray. Many people had to leave quickly and some couldn’t make it home to find their pets. Some pets ran away. Others had to let their farm animals loose as there was not enough time to transport them. I can only imagine how tight resources are in that city to help animals. The prize money could go to some shelters to meet their immediate needs.”

“I also know that there are artists in Fort McMurray are who will be affected by the down time for their businesses as the city recovers. I recently talked to a jewellery artist from the area about getting art supplies in the hands of artists, art students and teachers and hiring them to give free art lessons.  A lot of the area children could benefit from art therapy.  Creativity helps with stress and depression and there is a lot of healing to happen in the Fort McMurray area. This prize money could do a lot of good there.”

etsy finalist sassy and stella dot comTo vote for Jeannette Froese-LeBlanc: https://etsyawards.com/ca/Finalist-33/SassyandStella

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