Forgotten Treasure: Old Bells

June 20, 2009

Last night I got a phone call from a Tucson art gallery that used to carry my work.  I sold gourd rattles and copper jewelry there in 1992-94, and when we moved back to Arizona in 2000, I put several of my bells in the shop. A year or so after that, the gallery came under new management, the inventory changed drastically, and my remaining bells were nowhere to be found when I asked for them.  So I forgot them.  In dealing with art galleries (even those that are very well known), it’s been my experience that having work stolen/lost/damaged is common, and it’s unusual for the gallery to consistently pay the artist the promised 50% of retail.  This gallery was a rare exception for awhile – they sold a lot of things, paid the artists each month, and held a nice artisan fair twice a year.  But times change, and by 2000 Tucson’s art “scene” had long since become corporate and conservative, with many galleries closing or substituting inexpensive mass-produced imported items for high-quality work by local artists.  The market simply isn’t here anymore, which is why I offer my work for sale only on website.

Anyway, the phone call was to inform me that the gallery still had some of my bells, and they wanted me to pick them up.  When I got them this morning, I had no idea what would be in the box.  There were five clapper bells:  one in my usual triangular “wild ginger flower” shape, two in a similar triangular design but with the edges curled under and three additional domes on the corners (a lot of work and I never made more than those two), and two unique designs made from flattened discs.  All were forged while I lived in Cheyenne in 1999.  All need better clappers, minor refinishing (none meet the higher finishing standards that I have now), and additional links and ornaments, since they were just strung very simply on leather cords.  The old clappers will be re-forged and finished as pendants.  It is good to have these old friends back after ten years, and it will be fun refitting and improving them!

Five Clapper Bells

Five Clapper Bells

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