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Of Union, Skillfulness, and Craft

A functional business partnership is not dissimilar to matrimony; minus of course, certain degrees of familiarity: you experience one another at your most functional and at your least, you strive to balance those strengths and vulnerabilities, you can find yourselves with differing perspectives on the piloting of people and other concerns, and you must communicate more than you ever imagined possible (all right, more than I ever imagined). You must exert acceptance and tolerance of ways not your own and navigate the differences with a deep appreciation of the very traits and abilities that are not your own, but that you could stand to sometimes adopt.

John Daniel Walters and I have a unique alliance and what I think of as a respectable business. Our joint and individual willingness to learn, to nurture, to nudge one another, and our operation inspires me independently of the work that we do. This business of being human is no insignificant matter. The business of business is no insignificant undertaking. Envisioning a livelihood and an enterprise, plus its organization, is a significant chunk of consciousness. Like anything in life that we come in contact with, all points stand to be altered by the tiniest brush with what resides nearest.

I find my creative drive taking new form now: "business woman", which means to me, being a producer and being a creative problem solver, as much as accentuating my own artistic inventiveness. A business is no different than anything else in life- there are ebbs and flows, there are successes and shortfalls, there are moments of brilliance and of doltishness. Some of John and my noblest moments have been the unplanned and the near misses, the saves and the hilarity of providence intercepting at a moment of miscalculation.

Add to our collaboration that of our recently hired personnel and you have a family- sometimes of greater functionality, sometimes lesser, but always evolving and trying new approaches to better both communication and practices, so that a successful business, and advantageous and pleasing working environment can be enjoyed by all. The word "team" might be too sportsman-like a term; perhaps my love of the west makes us more of a posse, but whatever we are, we have evolved and managed to design and fabricate a line of tables, benches, pedestals, and object surfaces that are now ready to be made visible.

Why am I bothering writing of teamwork and communication, of the prickliness and pleasures of human exchange? Because they are all what goes into the design and manufacture of what our newly produced line of furniture is. Labors of love are not without the other thing(s) like aversion, dislike, futility, and the fumbling of vision as it smacks up against practicality. It all, every last little nuanced bit, goes into the design and production of anything of quality and relative permanence. Though you can't be ambivalent when it comes to launching from design to production you do, in the end, navigate all contradictions in the process of creating anything of worth.

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I am Surrounded by People and Things That I Love

I am surrounded by people and things that I love. That encircling includes items that were made or salvaged or rescued by those to whom I am, in some fashion, attached, or by myself, and I am in continuous reflection on the connections that my environment prompts. I am, in general, deeply affected by my habitat. Aesthetics are paramount to my sense of pleasure and to my overall wellbeing.

If I make a one week stand in the Buckaroo Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico, the room is reinvented according to my pleasing. If I am driving cross country, from Baraga to Bisbee say, my car is my mobile home and adorned, like my more stationary residence, with the objects of well wishing and safe travels that are presented to me: an iron pocket goddess, a glow in the dark Virgin Mary, a small tin of assorted good will objects, an Hopi crow, basalt from Lake Superior and even red dirt from Conchas, New Mexico.

The desire to create is not unrelated to the desire for beauty and, in my case, poetry and the physical reminders and remnants of a life lived, of lives lived, the lives being the living done by those whom I love or have loved or who have, in some fashion, crossed my path.

I emphasize the poetry because that is the drive beneath all others. The first thing that I remember being absolutely immersed in was writing and in particular writing poetry. A newly minted teen I knew that a small press and learning bookbinding was in my future. But somehow that love, a love of books, of old books, of typography, of objects with history and or making do with what is reclaimed or repurposed evolved into a delight in the old and metal and then in the making of metal objects and then in the business that is METAL.

People like to know what it is that I do with the sorts of things that are sold in the gallery or that John and I, and now Drew, might design and fabricate. So, with the help of friend and photographer Patrick Young (http://www-personal.umich.edu/~patyoung/) I am including some ways in which I have utilized the treasures that come to me or that I have rescued and resuscitated. Patrick was set loose to find the collections and assemblages that caught his eye - like most of how my my living flows - it all amounts to the acts and spirit of collaboration.

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As a Small Business Owner

As a small business owner, a woman, and one half of a partnership bold enough to commence a business two years ago in Michigan's, and the globe's, challenging economic climate, I'm pretty excited to have, a mere 17 months after officially throwing open our portals, hired two full time employees. We (John Daniel Walters and myself by way of METAL) have doubled our staff and I hope more than doubled our opportunities even as we exponentially intensified our responsibilities.

This occupational expansion is both a risk and a necessity if we are to develop and better METAL's concerns. We want the best opportunities for our business, our community, our staff, and, actually, for each world economy and their populace. We want to improve conditions for the many rather than the few and so we dare to remain in motion and strive to effect "sound business practices" (in the vernacular of the day) but also to have the temerity to leap into some less trodden courses for a business of our size. Our quest to be a culture and community over a mere point of commerce is based on the striving of John and myself to remain aware of our effect on the environment via conservative use of resources and acts of reclamation and the sharing of materials (we share utilities and conveniences and even collaborative projects with Pot & Box our northerly neighbor) as well as feeling that "community" is the way in.

Life, economies, business, etc., all run in cycles, it is true. Innovation, creativity, inventiveness, however we reference the energy that sparks the imagination, also have cycles, which function like the tides. To stay in balance requires us to navigate the ebb and the flow of economics, inspiration, human exchange and swift moving technologies. My business partner and I, and now our staff, have to work smart, and diligently, to survive and to thrive AND to meet our goals of creative, visionary, enterprising and expressive works in an age and in a culture where "art" is frequently deemed valueless to a large majority of the citizenry and where the well designed, strongly made and beautiful is challenged by the cut-rate.

This employer, this artist, this, to hone it down, problem solver is gratified by our clients satisfaction and pleasure in our designs and in our constructions. I am fascinated by how others utilize what goes out of our gallery when they make off with a salvaged piece. I am ever curious about the fine art that people gravitate to and solicit us to make. I am eager to see how e-commerce connects us internationally and if it does so as much as our design capabilities have. I am, simply, and perpetually, intrigued and interested to see what happens next and how it happens.

As a small business owner, a woman, and half of a partnership that is artful and enterprising, functional and bold, I am excited about the possibilities that I see but that are, by no means, a guarantee of a favorable evolution. I am measured and yet brazen and fully acknowledge our need of both patrons and personnel that invite our very best and, in their trust and surrender, allow us to do what we do with verve and optimism and attention to the slightest detail to design and to make goods of the highest quality.

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