Author Archives: Anne Johnson

Studio Visit and Science Lesson with Steve Kriechbaum

I had a wonderful morning visiting the North Austin studio of Armadillo Goldsmith, Steve Kriechbaum.

Steve has been in this studio since 1989 creating custom, original jewelry.  This morning Steve is adding a rodium plating to my wedding bands.

Steve in his studio.
Steve in his studio.

Steve has created over 1500 original molds like these…

Custom molds
Custom molds

…and has them all neatly stacked and labeled in his studio.

Stacks of original custom molds
Stacks of original custom molds

Now to the fun part! Science! Using an electro-plater at 4 volts, with beakers and anodes and other cool science things…Steve cleans up my rings with chemistry.


My custom, original wedding bands by Steve Kriechbaum are as beautiful as the day I got them <3

Anne’s wedding bands
Anne’s wedding bands

To see Steve and view more of his beautiful work, visit him at the ArtWalk in Fayetteville, Kerrville Festival of the Arts, or find him online at

Armadillo Visits Bellevue Art Fairs

My job is pretty awesome. I get to work for creative people and stay connected in the cultural community in Austin and all over the country. In July, I had the opportunity to visit Seattle to see the Bellevue art fairs. Bellevue has three shows happening at once, so it was a great time to visit and see what the art show scene is like in Washington State (not to mention trading in Austin’s triple digit weather for a cool 75 degrees).

The best part of attending art shows is supporting the art community around the country. Experiencing regional and national art shows has always been important to the producers of the ACB. We like to keep a pulse on what is happening with other art shows; what’s being done right, what can improve the artist and customer experience, observing patterns in the ever evolving art buying market, and just taking it all in.

We also like to visit with ACB artists, who we consider family. By visiting these art shows I feel like I get to peek into the life of an artist, seeing how they live traveling from show to show, dealing with logistics, weather, and being on the road. I get a chance to hear about exciting news (lots of babies this year!), see new work, and get lots of hugs.

Here are a few highlights from my Bellevue visit:

Rick and Lisa Loudermilk’s Home Studio Visit

I love visiting the studios and homes of Armadillo Artists! I was lucky enough to be invited over to the home studio of Rick and Lisa Loudermilk, both artists at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Lisa, a world traveler and great cook, generously offered to make me a home cooked lunch inspired by her recent trip to Turkey. She served a 5 course, traditional Turkish meal that was unbelievably tasty. My favorite dish (though it was a tough choice) was the roasted eggplant with gravy. Lisa kindly shared her recipe with me and I would love to share it with you:

“Eggplant Cream Gravy”
It’s the sauce from “sultan’s favorite” or “hunkar begendi” adapted from Raindrop Turkish House cooking class.

6 cups roasted, canned eggplant (with a little citric acid, but not ones marked pickled. Available at Shahi foods near Parmer and Lamar or probably Phoenica)


You can also try putting 3-4 whole eggplants on hot grill or glass stove-top burner on high to medium-high to char the skins.  Just keep rotating and use the vent fan.  I think you probably should cover them so they continue to steam after all the skin is black.

Cool, peel quickly so supposedly the eggplant doesn’t get bitter, mash by hand, strain. You may want to stir in a little lemon juice.

3 TBS flour (rice bran flour works well)

a little cornstarch suspended in water in case you’re working with a flour that doesn’t thicken
4 TBS butter
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt – start with 1/2 if using the canned eggplant

Melt the butter over medium high and fry the flour till medium yellow, stirring constantly. After the flour starts turning golden yellow, stir in the milk slowly. Some flours don’t thicken like wheat.  If it doesn’t thicken , stir in a  little cornstarch that has been suspended in water. Keep stirring! Add the salt and eggplant and cook on medium low for a few minutes.  
Besides the amazing food, my lunch included the best conversation with Lisa and Rick on art, traveling, music and of course the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar! I also got to take a tour of both of their studios inside their beautiful South Austin home.

One of my favorite parts of visiting the homes of artists is seeing what art they choose to display in their homes. I also love to see what I can recognize from the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. It never fails that I fall in love with a piece that I don’t recognize, for example, the Bulldogfish in the bottom left corner below.

Armadillo Artists pictured clockwise: Nicole Long, Plaid Pigeon, Blue Haven Porcelain. The Bulldogfish is not an Armadillo Christmas Bazaar artists but I love the work by Bennet Clay Fish!

Click their names to see more of Rick and Lisa’s work.

Funky Finds for Less than a Franklin


As the Associate Producer of the show I get to spend a lot of time scoping out the amazing work of all the artists at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. With over 160 artists and some sharing a booth, I still feel like I miss some really awesome stuff each year. I usually have an under $100 budget for each my gifts and I rarely get to shop anywhere else for Christmas gifts so I thought I would share what I found this year!

photo+2Clockwise from top: Mailing card + envelope by Nemo and Hannah Dreiss | Zipper clutch by Anne-Marie Beard | Guns and nudes gold glass etched highball glasses by Sam Jones IV


Clockwise from top: Aqua Aura Quartz from Crystal Works | Tote bag from the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar | Organic cotton handkerchiefs by Victrola Studio | Cast enamel fabricated necklace from House of Eberstein | On the Way to Imaginarium book with original prints and story by the Vladamir, Daniela and Diliana Ovtcharov | Ceramic tea cup by Jason Hooper


Clockwise from top: Skin repair lotion by Hemp 360 | Limited edition Armadillo Christmas Bazaar Ornament | Dinosaur and Armadillo succulent planters by Plaid Pigeon | Softest shirt on the planet by Sew Lala | Jasmine candle by Lights out | Necklace by Ornamental Things


This is Hank. No, I didn’t get to buy him and no, he’s not under a franklin but if I had $3500 lying around I would so buy him. The picture does not do him justice. He is actually an interactive Zoltar (fortune teller) type sculpture complete with a light at the top, his own bottle of moonshine and a spinning button device. I want him so bad!!

Austin-Center of Festival Universe.


A quick but important review of my favorite festivals in Austin in the next couple months.

Stage dive hip(ster) deep into SXSW. As a native Austinite I usually cringe at the thought, but this year with a good mate to entertain from the UK, I am embracing the city and all it’s foreigners (bloody, I may even put on an English accent and pretend to be one).

Running through April 3rd is ye olde Sherwood Faire. Just outside Austin you can scarf a turkey leg, watch a jousting match and go back in time. I go to see wonderful Armadillo Christmas Bazaar Artists like Gaila Designs & Face Painting, Two Sisters Henna & Face Painting, and Mark Cooper with Signs of Spirit. I also cannot refuse any opportunity to dress up. I love costumes!!

In mid-April, the Old Settlers Festival is held nearby in Driftwood, TX. Their lineup is right up our alley at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. They even have Armadillos crawling around on their website. Cute! The headliners, The Avett Brothers are AMAZING and I am super excited to see them live.  A few Armadillo artists are also featured at the festival like The Gourds, Band of Heathens, Suzanne Choffel, Warren Hood and our very own Sahara Smith.

Finally, my most favoritest, fun festival to frolic frantically in Austin is Eeyores Birthday Party. This is the place to see Austin at its weirdest. I’m a sucker for birthday parties, and the underdog, so Eeyore’s is dear to my heart (you get to wear costumes at this one too)!

Let’s hope I make it out of the Austin festival season alive.