My first impression of my surprise box of “jewels” was a little disappointing. Lots and lots of beads, which I expected, and some shiny stones I have no idea what to do with. A few interesting figurative things which I liked but didn't quite fit my voice. But I think this is part of the challenge. To take materials and transform them. To many people a roll of raw copper is not that appealing. It is to me because I see possibilities. So I did an attitude adjustment and started giving everything a chance by investigating with an open mind.

I started by sorting things and putting them in boxes and laying them out on white paper. This is a regular part of my process - it helps me to see things better in order to find compositions and opportunities. I arrange, then rearrange them, as I walk by them in the studio.

I have to admit that I wanted to send most of my stuff back yesterday. But I came in today and a few things started to speak to me. On my walk with my dog this morning, I started sorting the red beads in my minds eye, with the holes up, and I could see a promise for a piece. I went back to the studio and started setting them out side by side. Their small, quirky differences began to emerge. Nothing is truly identical is it? At first glance maybe. That's a nice thing. The challenge is to find the hidden “precious.” Not everything shouts out beauty and intrigue like gold. Some materials take a sensitive eye and the right situation to shine.

An interesting thing is surfacing about limited resources...what makes an object precious? It is rarity I think more than how much it costs. Just think of the last piece of cake or the last bit of an ice cream cone. Some of these silly little beads are becoming precious to me, which is something I have always tried to resist. I like to use things with no value, then bring the value to them. It is fear based I think. I do not have to risk ruining anything if it began as unwanted. But if I only have 2 white plastic beads, I find myself feeling hesitant. They are not replaceable. They become one-of-a kind and rare in my pile of discards, taking on a completely new life. Experimenting with abandon is an important part of my process, yet I am finding that this requires quite a bit of waste. Even if the materials can be easily replaced, I am creating waste. But experimentation is dependent on making mistakes and moving on. This is a sticky issue for me. Not the first time – but lately this keeps coming up – and it always takes me by surprise.

There is a scene in the movie Harold and Maude, where the two are sitting in a vast daisy field. The sky is huge and blue. As I remember it, the camera pans far away from them, so they are small things in this big field of flowers. The camera zooms in. Maude is holding a daisy and telling Harold how each daisy is unique if you take a closer look. She goes on to explain that the reason why so many people are so sad is that everyone wants to be “this” (she holds up the one daisy) yet they feel like this (she sweeps her arm towards the vast field of many). As I go through my materials, I am trying find the potential beauty hidden inside. Just another thought about the meaning of precious and wondering if it exists in us all.

I planned a gathering at my studio with the other RJM artists living near me to swap materials. It was a great excuse to get together and share food, then switch our jewels and wonder, “How are we going to do this?” What was fun for me was knowing that some of the items I left behind would be inspirational for a specific artist. I didn't really gather many new pieces for my own inspiration, but something else more valuable occurred.

In my original stash was 1/2 of a green, wooden bracelet. I thought it was a good color, and I love using found wood, but this was truly flawed. There were a bunch of holes drilled in it, and not so skillfully, plus a big, ugly crack down the middle. I decided to put it in the give-away pile. I even laughed and told everyone I think this piece was ready for the compost pile. But later on Marilyn picked it up and said, “Deb, this so looks like you.” It had been taunting me there, on the table as I would walk by it through the days working in the studio. I decided to take it back and give it another look. A hard look because I still felt those uneven holes just ruined the form. I started filing at them, then sawing through a few of them, and then I had an epiphany and decided to saw it in half, right down the middle. I slid my saw blade through one of the holes and found a great treasure hidden inside. The unevenly drilled holes left their memory in the wood and became a fresh design element. The two parts now formed a circle. Adding a precious red bead, and a little silver handmade square completed the sketch. At this point, it’s my favorite composition. Sometimes you have to dig deep, and then a little bit more to find the true potential.

Deb Lozier started her explorations with torch firing enamel at a small bench nestled in a corner of her bedroom in 1986. Her work and studio methods have evolved and expanded, but her core belief that experimentation is the root of innovation has stayed true. She lets the materials lead her, allowing the magic of the process define and create new possibilities. She is a senior adjunct professor at California College of the Arts and has taught countless workshops across the US and England. Working with students from such diverse walks of life has informed her studio practice with a rich tapestry of artistic approaches. “I gather information from a room full of creativity. It is amazing what comes to the surface when you give students permission to wander and explore.” She authored a chapter on torch fired enameling for Lillyan Bachrach's book Enameling with Professionals and has been included in many publications, including six of Lark Books 100 Series. Exhibiting both nationally, and internationally, Deb stretches beyond her personal studio practice to include public and private commissions along with community outreach. She received her BFA in crafts in 1984 from Arizona State University and currently lives and works in Oakland, California.