While working as an art director and graphic designer for Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., artist Jim Garrity and his wife Diana drove through blizzards to reach the Tucson Gem Show.
These yearly cross-country adventures led them to retire in Payson.
"There are so many things you can do with jewelry," said Garrity, a jeweler of 40 years. "The variations are infinite."
Garrity stumbled upon art metal while attending the University of Wisconsin.
"I discovered it by accident because I had a hole in my schedule," said Garrity, who began by carrying a small tackle box with essentials such as jewelry saws and tools to polish stones. "I became enthralled."
Garrity specializes in setting cabochons -- domed, opaque, pre-cut stones -- into silver and gold, his primary mediums. He uses a wide variety of unique stones, such as "butterscotch amber" and "lemon quartz."
Featured Artists ReceptionArtists: Jim Garrity and Alan and Carole SnyderWhen: 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday, July 7Where: Artists of the Rim Fine Art Gallery, 408 W. Main St.Cost: FreeContact: (928)-472-1159Refreshments will be provided.
Garrity said designing is his favorite part of the process.
"The fun part is the creative part," said Garrity, who listens to classical music while he works.
"Very often I'll start with a sketch, and as I go along different things will suggest themselves."
Almost every piece Garrity creates is one-of-a-kind.
"When I'm done with a piece, it's an entity in itself," said Garrity, who boasts a 35-year career in advertising art. "In advertising, you pick up a completed brochure and it's one of 40,000."
Customers wanting a custom piece can also be involved in the creative process.
"I'm always welcome to ideas," Garrity said. "Being young creative-wise means not shutting your mind and being ready and open to do whatever."
After hunting in Africa, Garrity created a zebra pin using an overlay technique. He soldered individually cut stripes onto a solid silhouette of a zebra head.
"I oxidized the silver, or blackened it, so the metal gets a contrast between the two areas," Garrity said.
Garrity also dabbles in sculpture, taxidermy and composing birthday cards.
"Writing the verses is fun," Garrity said. "I like to play with words."
Garrity also likes to play with clay, as he took pottery classes several years ago from Alan and Carole Snyder.
Although these two create separate projects, both infuse their pottery with added elements such as wood, stained glass and metal. Each is enthusiastic about the other's work.
"Sometimes in the studio, we get a little amorous and throw clay at each other," said Carole, who married Alan 35 years ago, after he introduced her to ceramics.
She points to a piece of Alan's consisting of a small pot attached by ceramic tendrils to a long, slender base.
"The base was thrown upside down," Alan said. "The potter's wheel was anchored in the rafters."
"A potter's biggest problem is gravity," Carole said. "If you turn it upside down, you're able to make the walls thinner."
One of Carole's signature techniques is incorporating pine needles and copper wire into hanging ceramic flower vases.
The pottery is made with small holes through which copper wire is strung to hold the pine needles in place, Alan said.
"The pine needles are colored with homemade dye," Alan said. "We like to mix it up."
"We both love working with different things within the clay," Carole added.
"Snyderite" can be found on both artists' works.
"Snyderite is a secret gemstone that Alan created and named after us," Carole said, smiling.
Turquoise-colored droplets, an example of the "gems," decorate the shell of Carole's ceramic turtle, along with copper dust and scrap silver.
Not all of the couple's art is of this earth, as evidenced by Gwendalyn's Pride, a feminine alien bust. Designed by Alan, who has a fixation with extraterrestrials, it exemplifies the effort of certain alien species that are in danger of extinction to appear attractive to humans in order to procreate and form a superior race.
"All of the pieces were made on a potter's wheel and then assembled, except for the ears," Alan said.
Alan also creates functional items such as pitchers with handles of manzanita wood. Large discs can either decorate a wall or act as a table with the aid of a stand, Alan said.
The Snyders said they are proud to be part of the gallery.
"It's a great feeling with all the different mediums coming together," Carole said. "Everyone brings something special."