cobra consciousness poem

Posted by Annie Olson on January 30, 2014. Continue ReadingAnnie's Arc

Guiltless Shell story Last day of the show 2001

This is Saturday March 8, 2014.   The last day of the Shell Fair on Sanibel Island.

I'm sitting here in our garden/reading room looking northwest.   It's sunny out.  About 35 degrees.   We went downtown for a cup of coffee and hot chocolate.   My Mom is sitting on the couch a few feet away reading a book about the secret life of elephants.  We're going to get a pizza in a little while.

Oh, how I wish I were there!

I hope you have enjoyed this flight with me.   The story of how the shells came into being.   What they mean to me.   And these past three days have been a riot.

We all hear the concept of having a bucket list.  And I mentioned that before.   Now maybe it really makes sense to you.   After being here with me, like a feather on my shoulder.

Most things on a bucket list we won't do and ones we'll experience, we never would have considered.   Like today for all of us who serve a great breakfast at the Seminary would say this.  We never would have thought it would be one of the highlights of our lives as a group.

It was a Sunday.   The show went for 4 days back then.   It was warm.  And we all were so relaxed with each other.   Knowing we wouldn't see each other again until next year.

It began to get dark in the early afternoon and we knew a storm was brewing.   And we also knew we'd have to pack up our exhibits and carry them across the street to the parking lot in the rain.

I will never forget what it was like for me!

If you saw me, you'd see a slender "white" woman, brown hair, fifty-ish.  Acting like a five year old!

Remember when I began the story, telling you how my relationship with shells began right here.   Well, life has come full circle!   I'm five years old again!

I packed up all my stuff and began to haul it to my mini van .  That van I didn't want to drive.    And I remember the puddle of mud!   Blue Mud!

You haven't lived until you've been able to splash with your bare feety in a Blue Mud Puddle!

The calcium carbonate of the pulverized shells that compose the soil of Sanibel create this lovely mud!

There's a movie I love.   People Will Talk.  Cary Grant and Jean Simmons.  One scene has Cary Grant, Walter Slazk and upstairs.  With model train sets all over the floor.   The three grown men in their 40's and 50's and 60's are running their respective trains from different bedrooms.   Each has a different beep beep.   And they get mixed up and the three trains into each other in the hallway.   And the argument that ensues is hilarious!   Three young boys in the bodies of older men!   And Jean Simmons remark to Cary Grant, her movie husband.   In tears she says,   "You're only 8 years old".

Well, that's what my friends all said to me that day.   Watching me get soaked and enjoying every minute of it!   Creating these shells, being allowed in the show, making so many good friends and experiencing four days of magic.   That is what they were seeing!

I'd come full circle.   I really was 5 years old!







Posted by Annie Olson on March 08, 2014. Continue ReadingAnnie's Arc

Annie's Mernagerie----King Cobra

Quote on Miniature Art I found January 9,2014 written by Marty Munson 1992 for Miniature Artists of San Fransisco

"The range is impressive, but on closer inspection the winners are always the same.....they hold up under the harsh eye of the magnifying glass; they bridge the paradox of being balanced but dynamic; the use of size not as a restriction but as an intimate area for experiment.....they have spirit...they go beyond the visual facts to show you the significance of the subject."

Exhibition judge commenting about miniature art.  On the website of   Wes & Rachelle Siegrist   

It's an odd animal for me to pick as my representative for the wildlife creations I find myself birthing of polymer clay.   But I didn't choose the King Cobra on purpose.   The poem Cobra Consciousness decided that for me.

Posted by Annie Olson on February 12, 2014. Continue ReadingAnnie's Arc

My new website

I’m as shy as the snails that make seashells. So the art I create of clay and the thoughts I express with words are really ME coming out of my shell.

In 2004 I had worked with a gentleman to build a beautiful website. But this was his first time to construct a site for someone. And also a brand new experience for me. It was lovely. But the one thing I realized as people ordered; I can’t make cookie cutter animals.
It was painful for me when an order came in and I had to make art on demand. So last year I had to “kill” the old site so a new site could be brought to life in its place.

As you are seeing right now, the site is full of holes. I have lots of text I’m working on to insert and many animals aching to get out of their cages.

I love the feel of polymer clay! I love to form animals of this clay! So I look forward to populating my site. But I need to create the site as I create my art. Without putting UNDO pressure on myself. I just got back from strolling through the Tulip Time art fair here in Holland and one of the artist and I shared together. She does beautiful calligraphy of quotes. She too, needing to not put UNDO pressure on herself to produce. Nice for like minded people to meet each other.

What follows are my thoughts on what I hope my site does. So try to imagine with me what I’m building; a website that is a kind of museam (a place to muse) with the store and education departments all mixed together. When you click on an animal, there will be pictures of the very art that’s for sale. But along with each one will be text of my relationship with that animal and science data. It is my hope that as you go through my site, you will have fun, laugh at times, relax if you’re stressed, moved, educated a bit, and maybe find a piece you will want to “adopt”.

What I hope to do is create kits for most of my animals. That to me is what I most look forward to. To pass on what I’ve learned and what others have taught me.

Posted by Annie Olson on May 03, 2009. Continue ReadingAnnie's Arc

Musings on my jewelry

Human kind has been using seashells to adorn clothing, musical instruments, create jewerly, embellish clay pots and recently are made into all sorts of animals etc. with tiny shells.

When I was finally able to create my shells in a way that looked real in form and color, I was caught off guard; faced with a dilemma I hadn’t planned on. “These tiny shells, they each are like an artwork of sorts for me! People want me to drill holes in them and make jewelry for them. I can’t do that yet!” That’s where my emotions were in January of 2001. In two months I was to exhibit my shells for the first time in the Sanibel/Captiva Shell Fair. Since I’m all about helping us to appreciate the environment, it was easy for me to see the potential of these shells to be used instead of real ones. If I don’t wear one as jewelry, I’ll be limiting their application. These photos of my attempts of escaping the inevitable have helped me to better understand myself and my motives.

Since I had quit collecting live animals for their shell homes, my respect of the shell increases dramatically. And in turn, respect for the art that was coming through me had to be honored also. But, being a practical person, I knew I had to imbede wire into my soft shells so they could used as real collected shells are.

Hence, my shells jewelry.

Posted by Annie Olson on November 21, 2008. Continue ReadingAnnie's Arc

My Dear Sanibel

My Dear Sanibel

50 years ago we met. Me, a young child of 7 and you, an Ancient Island of broken shells. It was love at first sight for me. As if I was newly born and you were the first form I saw as I left the womb. So I naturally imprinted upon you as a cygnet imprints upon the first moving object it sees after breaking forth from its shell.

Physically, my feet have not had the opportunity to spend but a drop of time walking your beach face, but the influence of your presence in my life has been central.

The totem animal of my life is The Snail.

In 1976 I bought my first box of polymer clay. During these 25 years my hands have sculpted many animals, but the life form I delight the most in bringing forth is my Beloved Snail.

You, Sanibel have been like a parent to me; silently nurturing me all these years. The 7 year old child in me hopes you like the shells Ive made for you.

(Text accompanying my exhibit for the 64th Sanibel Shell Show, March 2001)

Posted by Annie Olson on October 25, 2008. Continue ReadingAnnie's Arc

The Guiltless Shell Story

Years ago I took hundreds of live snails from the tidal flats of Florida – just for their shell homes. With the passage of time, wisdom came of what Id done – along with regret which gave way to forgiveness, and from this fertile matrix these Guiltless Shells appeared, as if by magic.

We live in a world shaped by addiction. The Drug manifesting itself in a multitude of forms – none of us able to escape Its net. Today in the newspaper I read of a “ghost net” found in the ocean – 500 yards of mesh – so heavy with dead sea life the Coast Guard was unable to retrieve it. Evidence of one addiction – greed.

I was once a shell collector who found and killed the life form that had made the shell I wanted; shell collecting was my addiction. I quit cold turkey in October 1987, never to collect again as I’d done in the past. But the desire to collect shells was and still is there. This desire became the fuel that burned within me, that with time led to these “Guiltless Shells”.

In 1976 I bought my first box of white polymer clay; an oil-based clay that I could fire right in my own kitchen. It was easy for me to see the potential of this clay for a crafter like myself. But making seashells of this clay never occurred to me.

I can still remember where I was when I formed my first yet unnamed shell of clay. It was a cold winter day, just like today, sitting in front of a wood fire, with clay in hand, trying again to make a white spiraled shell. And then it happened: I made my first crude shell. For the next few years I practiced making the whorls of the gastropod form, not focused on color. I was much like a composer who had finally been able in melody to express his beloved object, knowing that words, like color, would come later. Spending years fine tuning the melody, aware that the very form, melody, couldn’t truly blossom until it was joined to the yet unknown lyrics.

I must admit I was getting frustrated. All my attempts to capture my color lyrics to complete my shells failed. Mechanically I colored my shells with acrylic paint, or rubbed the white clay over colored newspaper ads to add tint cheaply. Rolling the clay back and forth to make as perfect an elongated cone as possible to form the spiraled whorls.

But one day the magic happened! It was as if my hand took over and had a mind of it’s own, and rolled the clay in one direction, over and over again – not back and forth. My eyes looked down, and consciously I finally caught on. Here was how to express the essence of coloration of natural seashells. The rest is history.

Annie Olson
January 2004

Click here to see the Guiltless Shells currently available for sale

If you’d like to create your own Guiltless Shells click here for starter kits.

Posted by Annie Olson on September 26, 2008. Continue ReadingAnnie's Arc

The Hatchery

Last night I had a dream. In my dream I found myself with a statement that expresses the continuum between art forms.

The sculptures I create of clay are three dimensional paintings as paintings of oil are two dimensional sculptures.

I’ve been trying and trying to write about all the animals I gently pull forth from my clay.

Yes, The Clay! I call It My Clay! Knowing though that millions of people all over the world enjoy this clay I call mine.

That's how it is! The canvas and oils become very personal for the painter. The brushes too. Favorites. Same with me. Favorite tools. Favorite board. Colors I like. Certain tensile strength for the clay for each animal. Stiffer for some, softer for others.

Could it be I need to write about them all at the same time?

I love order. So the sense of having a page for each animal appealed to me. First an egg of clay, then the text and then the finished animal that had hatched from the egg. Same format for all of them. But that isnt how it is.

There are no fences, no cages, no barriers between the animals in my sanctuary. They are able not only to co-exist but also help each other to come into being and mature. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. Practice making one animal increases my proficiency with the clay. Just like a violinist improves his technique no matter what he plays. So maybe I need to just start. Start with the clay. When I bought it, where, why. And what happened next.

I’m letting you know, you who are now visiting my website. Aware that knowing better the journey of the art itself will better reveal for you the essence of the art itself.

I use to think craft and art weren't so different. But I'm learning that like oil and vinegar, they are different. Don't mix well together yet can be blended to make some really fine dressings to put on our walls, our shelves.

Art without craft is like thick olive oil weighing the lettuce down. And craft without art is like vinegar so acidic that only a drop or two is possible.

But put oil and vinegar together with spices and whip them
up you get delicious wholeness.

THIS IS ME! So aware of the power of diverse components combined being more than the sum of their distinct parts. This is UNITY IN DIVERSITY!

Posted by Annie Olson on September 13, 2008. Continue ReadingAnnie's Arc