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31 May 2011

Verse & Vision: Whiskey Light

"Night time is really the best time to work. 
All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep."  
~Catherine O'Hara

This is the fourth and final post about the pieces I created for the Verse & Vision show on now through June 25th, a collaboration between Wisconsin poets and the Gallery Q artists. You can read about the others here, here and also here.

I do my best work at night.

I often call this my "9 to midnight" job. And although I would love for it to be a full time gig, it is really more of a hobby gone wild. While my most fervent wish is to have daylight hours to create, I am certain that even if I had them, I would be doing most of my best work at night.

So when I read the poem by Josh Wussow called "Whiskey Light" I had this immediate image of the moon in my head. The sort of moon that hangs low in the sky like a big orange ball of light. The kind that is so close you can touch it, so real you can taste its creamy coolness.

I love the way the full moon paints the world with a touch of titanium white and a softer blue gray of the shadows. The trees look taller in moonlight with their limbs stretched out reaching over hills and valleys to touch each other like so many people holding hands.

But it was the last line of this poem that grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I knew that there had to be a lunar reference in this piece, but that last line begged to be incorporated as well. Full of double edged meaning, yet brimming with possibilities.

I thank Josh Wussow for penning these lines and for allowing me the honor of sharing them with you.

Whiskey Light
by Josh Wussow

The restless moon
has drawn me
into the calling dusk

My dull
whiskey light
a haze, etched in amber
hovers thick and
full
bodied
over yellowed streetlamps
and empty roads

I taste its essence
cool
in the quiet air
dash of dreams
pinch of sin
the tacit scent
of things
best done
by night

{Whiskey Light}

I am very proud of this piece. But it almost didn't happen.

This being the very first Verse & Vision collaboration, we had only from early February until mid-April to complete our art. That wouldn't be too terrible of a timeline if I didn't have traveling basketball, dance recitals, a trip to D.C. and the launch of my new 'simple truths' pendants happening at the same time. Not to mention all the dancer necklaces I did during those few weeks. 

I completed the first three and got them to the photographer for the book layout well before the deadline of April 20th. I just didn't have time to complete what I wanted to do for this one. 

I had sketched a design that looks nothing like this. With the mention of the 'haze, etched in amber' I had grandiose plans to etch a copper moon, add a bezel and then add some resin tinted amber to that focal. And that never happened. 

I was in the Gallery to pick up my pieces the first week in May to be sure that they were tagged and ready for the Gallery to hang them, when one of the committee members came to me in a panic: the poet would be there to read his poem that night and if I didn't make the art, there would be nothing to show for it. Would I still make the piece? Could I do it in time? That was Wednesday. All the pieces had to be logged in by Friday. 

I had committed to doing this piece but I had failed to make it a priority so that just about shattered me. Wearily, I said yes, I would do this. 

I went home that night and sketched a new design, one that wouldn't be etched and bezeled but that would show that I could completely fabricate a piece from start to finish.

I started with circles cut out of copper. I hammered texture and added some round bubbles to make the disks represent the phases of the moon. From just a sliver of the moon to full, you can see them all if you look closely.

But flat just wouldn't do, I wanted it to have a sculptural sense, and also movement. I had been studying the works of Calder and spirals are very prominent in his work, which was influenced by primitive artifacts. The construction of Calder's works are so kinetic. I wanted to attain a freedom of movement in my design. So I started with spirals of copper wire connecting each link through a riveted hole. Why not just leave the holes punched raw? That small rivet in each hole is a detail that puts a polished touch on the piece.

I crafted the swirl clasp to connect to a similarly embellished copper washer. I wanted no pre-fab parts to this design.

The central focal is a crescent moon with the last line of the poem 'things best done by night' and a solitary rough faceted carnelian drop in the perfect shade of whiskey. That stone is the only thing I didn't craft by hand.

Someone at the opening was interested in the piece and questioned why it was priced so high. It was then that I explained that I cut, filed, textured, stamped, riveted, dapped, coiled, hammered, patinaed, tumbled, polished and sealed every single piece on this necklace. From concept to completion, I did it all. I think she walked away with an appreciation for what I did that went beyond admiring it. And I also said that even if this wasn't the one for her, I could certainly apply those skills to something custom just for her.

I worked on this two straight nights working from 9pm to 2am. At 1am on the second day I almost thought to ask for an extension until Saturday so that I would have the extra day to finish, but then I decided that I was so close and I just kept going. I was beyond exhausted when I finished. But the important thing is that I completed it to hand in to the committee by noon on Friday.

They were stunned at what I created. But truthfully, so was I.


I guess it is true that I do my best work at night.

So, now it is your turn...
When do you do your best work? Are you more capable in the morning? Does your creativity ebb and flow throughout the day? Or are you a night owl like me?
Have you ever completely hand fabricated something? Do you bake from scratch... plant from seeds... or grow amazing kids? How does it feel to be the creator, the originator, the guiding force?
Do tell!
Enjoy the day!

30 May 2011

May Art Bead Scene Challenge

 "To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment."  ~Jane Austen

This month's painting was Cache-Cache by Berthe Morisot.

I love this painting with its quaint little village in the distance, the fun that the mother and daughter are having, the ruffly umbrella and the peek of sky in the clouds. But I will admit that the color palette stumped me a bit.

I am drawn to the dark green and the pops of red, so that is what I pulled out first. Green goldstone is one of my favorites, with its flashes of sparkle in the right light. The red blooms on the tree were the red velvet glass rondelles. To repeat the oval pattern I pulled in some great hammered oval chain. I am hoarding the last foot and a half that I have of it, I love it so. I needed to pull the greens into the piece. I found this Mary Harding toggle that was perfect in tone. I added the goldstone into it, and raided my stash of silks from Marsha Neal and came upon these different shades of green. I decided to wrap the links. No other embellishment is needed to highlight the toggle by Mary. And the best part is that you can wear it any which way...with the toggle in front, or off to one side, depending on what you feel like.

I call this necklace "Seeking Solitude."


I really loved the little village in the background of the painting, so I decided to do one more. I happened to find a pair of little house beads that I believe are from Jubilee that was a perfect match. I used the same green goldstone this time paired with cranberry colored pearls and brass bead caps. I have these funky marquise shaped links from GemmeTresor. I decided to use the same seed beads in the beaded part to wire wrap the links just for interest and to tie in the beading wrapped on the hook clasp.

I call this bracelet "Finding My Home."

Be sure to stop over to the Art Bead Scene on May 31st for the monthly Blog Tour that I host rounding up all the fabulous pieces that were inspired by this months' art.

(And I will also be announcing the ONE WINNER of the HUGE BEADS 2011 GIVEAWAY at the end of that post! Someone will be very lucky indeed!)

Enjoy the day!

27 May 2011

Verse & Vision: Angels Among Us

"If one looks closely enough, one can see angels in every piece of art."  
~Terri Guillemets

The third poem that I chose was more like the retelling of a time-worn story. 

(If you want to read more of my inspiration from the Verse & Vision show, please go to this post or this one.)

The styling of the poem was more in a paragraph with fleshed out ideas and sentences, but the poetry is really evident in the selection of the words in a way that forms a picture in your mind. That is the sort of poetry that really resonates with me. I can see and hear and smell and taste and touch every thing that is being written about. These words from Janet Leahy truly make my senses come alive.

In the Church Yard Beside the School House
by Janet Leahy

A boy in red boots is making snow angels with his
small body. Old ladies on their way to mass, fold
their arms around themselves to keep warm. The
boy jumps up, brushes snow from his jacket, smiles
with delight at the perfect forms carved into the snow.
Behind him the church bell tolls, a black hearse arrives,
carrying the most recent dead. Now the boy turns
to watch the procession of mourners. His eyes fix
on the people walking behind the casket, their arms
wrapped around each other. He knows something
of death, his grandfather, his dog Cyrano. He knows
when people die they need angels. As the church doors
close, he falls into the snow and spreads his wings.

patina-ed wings from MissFickleMedia (thank you Shan!)
sterling silver heart
snowflake cracked quartz rounds
black onyx irregularly faceted nuggets
sari silk wrapped beads with Swarovski crystals
hand made clasp from galvanized steel wire

***************************************************

I know something of death.

I remember vividly the day that my grandmother died. 

I was a smug 18 year old away at UW-Eau Claire for my train wreck of a freshman year. Coming home at Thanksgiving, my parents insisted that I go to see Bousha ('old lady' in Polish, but a term of endearment to us). I didn't want to go. While there, my dad asked me to address her Christmas cards. I did it, but grumbled as I went, each envelope met with a heavy sigh and rolling of the eyes. When the last envelope was addressed, I rushed to leave. She held my hand in hers and promised me to come home soon. Her cheek was soft and smelled of powder when I kissed her goodbye. 

That was the last time I ever saw Bousha.

Just two weeks later I made my way down the great hill from my dorm to my afternoon classes. On the way I made a detour to the bookstore and bought a card for Bousha. It was a Boynton with a funny little cat on the front.  I trudged through the wet snow that darkening Friday afternoon to the class I dreaded the most: algebra. I knew that if I made it through this class, the weekend could officially begin and finals would be the following week. Lots of studying to slack off on for sure.

I wasn't particularly engaged in this class. It actually felt like they were speaking a different language. As the minutes ticked by on the large clock above me, and the professor droned on like the teacher on Charlie Brown, I suddenly felt very anxious. Trying not to attract attention, I dug out the card for Bousha and frantically started writing her a letter, glancing back up at the clock with each word. I remember telling her over and over that I loved her. And also that I was sorry that I hadn't spent more time with her at Thanksgiving. Could this class get any longer? Could time tick by any slower? Stuffing the card into the envelope, scribbling her name and address, licking the stamp, I bolted out of my chair as soon as the clock struck 3:00 and raced down the hall to the lobby where the postman was just collecting the last mail for the day. 

I felt light and happy climbing that slushy hill. I didn't even care that the wind was biting into my bones. I felt at peace.

As day drew into evening, I was alone in my communal dorm room hanging white lights on the window, the sounds of Christmas carols coming from my clock radio. My roommates were across the hall giving Diane a perm in the bathroom. The phone rang. I was surprised to hear the voice of my older cousin Mike, who lived in Minneapolis. I only saw him at holidays and I didn't think he even knew I was at this college.

"Do you need a ride home?" Mike asked.

"Sure! That would be great. I have finals next week, but that would be so awesome because then my parents won't have to trek over here," I said. "When are you thinking of coming home?"

There was a brief and awkward pause on the other end of the line. 

"Uh... um... I thought you knew," said Mike in the most apologetic voice. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Erin. Grandma died this afternoon. I thought you needed a ride home tomorrow for the funeral."

Clunk.

The phone dropped to the floor and me with it. I may have managed to pick it up and tell him that I had to call him back. 

Grief gripped me and would not let go. I tried to stand but couldn't. Crawling across the hall, I leaned into the bathroom door and collapsed in heavy sobs on the cold, white porcelain tile. 

Diane rushed to me, hair dripping wet with the acrid smell of permanent solution piercing my nose, and grabbed me, holding me up in her embrace. 

The only words I could choke out between heaving sobs were, "Grandma... died... no!"

To this day, I cannot stomach the smell of a perm without that memory bubbling to the surface.

When my parents finally called it was with the realization that I had learned of grandma's passing in the most abrupt manner. As in a twisted game of telephone, the message was relayed all wrong. My parents had called Mike's dad to ask if he might possibly be able to bring me home, and they were waiting for that information before calling me with the news. But Mike didn't know and called me instead. It must have been awful for him to share that shocking news with me. I recall that the two hour car ride home to Stevens Point was mostly in silence. 

For the funeral, I was selected to carry in the half finished afghan that Bousha was crocheting. It was the softest cream colored yarn. She could knock one out in a day or two and everyone had one...every grandchild, friend and maybe even a few passersby. Each one had an embroidered tag that read, "Specially hand made by Grandma." This cream one never got that tag. I laid the unfinished masterpiece with the ball of yarn and the brightly colored crochet hook stuck in it on the top of the coffin. I don't recall anything else.

After the slow motion motorcade to the cemetery, I stood by the graveside that Saturday in the snow, my toes numb from the missing socks I forgot to pack in my haste, wishing to be rolled into my own blue and white herringbone blanket. 

Retreating to the warmth of my grandmother's house to go through the motions of selecting what to keep and what to give away, I heard the mail slot open. I wandered over to retrieve the small stack on the floor. And there it was: my card. 

I sat down on the mauve velour couch, the one that was only sat on during holidays, and opened the card. As I reread those words that I so hurriedly wrote, the emotions flooded me. I let the tears roll softly down my cheeks. Bousha never read these words, my apology at being so rude, my love for her.

But I think she knew.

I wish that I had kept that letter. I think that I likely threw it away because my emotions were so raw, and it was stunning to read it at that time. Plus, I didn't immediately connect that Bousha was guiding me that day.  I found out later that my parents were with her in the hospital when she died. And it was around 3:00 pm on Friday, the same time that I felt so frantic to get that letter posted. 

I do believe in angels. I believe that there are angels among us working to push us in the direction that we need to go, and supporting us when we feel that all is lost. It is not just astral spirits with wings and bright lights, but those that are among us working every day. They are in the checkout line at Copps Food Center when picking up the $20 bill that fell out of my pocket and giving it back to me... there is one that makes my coffee at Emy J's each morning named Mindy with a bright light of sweetness and an extra dose of happy to wake me up... I see them in each person who deposits a bag filled to the brim with food and toiletries at the special collections my church does for Operation Bootstrap... and I can see them on the television when they rush to help a local woman rebuild her horse barn and clean up her farm after the tornado that touched down not far from where I live. I believe that even when we least expect it there is an angel there watching out for us, those special guardians that we loved in life who are looking down on us from heaven, but they are just as certainly right around the corner or down the street keeping an eye on us. 

And sometimes we are called to be angels when we touch another person's life and make it better. 

I most certainly think that Bousha was reaching out to me to let me know that it would all be alright and that was why I had that sudden urge to contact her. And although it was my words in my hand writing that I read on that card that cold December day, I feel that really it was her telling me she loved me. Her first act as my guardian angel.

So now it is your turn...
Do you believe in angels?
Have you ever had an experience where you felt protected and loved but could not explain it?
Are you open to the possibility of angels among us?
How have you been an angel to someone else?
Do tell!

Enjoy the day!

25 May 2011

BTW: The Do Over Challenge

"My Mama always said you've got to put the past behind you before you can move on."
- the movie Forrest Gump

Jeannie Dukic is hosting a blog hop that is really intriguing to me called the 'Do Over' Challenge.

If you have been creating anything for any length of time you likely have a back log of pieces that were done early on that were not as successful as you may make them now. But you can't dwell on those past pieces. You have to move on by building upon them. Those pieces might lack pizzazz, or use materials that were not as unique. They aren't failures because they didn't sell, because they may show that your style has evolved and your taste in materials has grown more expensive. I applaud Jeannie for having the guts to put these pieces out there and ask for a 'do over'. I think it is exciting to see what other people can do. In fact, it reminds me that I have a whole dresser drawer of these potential 'do overs' that perhaps I should giveaway!

The piece that Jeannie sent me had white glass tube beads with a painted design, white plastic lantern shaped beads, golden pearls and small faceted cherry colored beads with a hint of AB all with a gold metal for components.
{do over before}

I tried and tried to use those white glass tubes but I just could not make it work. So I abandoned those to another day. But I ended up using the remainder of the beads in the piece, the pearls, cherry faceted beads and even the white plastic because I liked the shape.

{how do they make these bottle cap beads? I don't know but I love 'em!}

I dug through my stash and found my bottle cap beads from Glass Garden beads. I love this one with the bold graphic design and the words "Ale Asylum" on it. I have come to find out that Ale Asylum is a brewpub in Madison, WI where I went to college. So a place where you can claim freedom and protection from the crime of poor beer, might be a good place to be if you are in college!


I went from a traditional symmetrical design, to an edgier darker design. I added a great gunmetal heavy link chain with this kick ass industrial trigger clasp toggle. The bracelet is 9" long but that big clasp allows you to hook it wherever you like! To that I added gunmetal faceted glass beads, the bottle cap bead and some little gunmetal rounds. I like the little pop of color that those cherry beads add to this. I can see that this would be fun to wear out on the town!

I call this do over
"Refuge From What 'Ales' You."
 
(Get it? Teehee ;-).

{'Refuge from what ales you' available for purchase on Etsy}

Thanks, Jeannie, for letting me play along with you on this challenge. It certainly stretched me creatively and that is what I like! Now go on over to Jeannie's blog and check out what the other participants did and share some comment love!

So, now it is your turn...
Do you have something that you created... a wreath, a sewing project, a jewelry design, etc that could use a little 'do over'? 
Do you think that since your style has changed over time you might be able to look at it more objectively and breathe new life into it? 
Do you think it would be easier or harder to breathe new life into someone else's creation? 
Do tell!

Enjoy the day!

24 May 2011

Verse & Vision: A Change in the Weather

"A lot of people like snow.  I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water."  ~Carl Reiner

When I first sat down to read the verses submitted for the Verse & Vision project it was the dead of winter. There were many feet of snow covering the ground layered over ice. The landscape was bleak and lifeless. So I must have been seeking spring at that moment.

If there is one thing that I loved to teach when I was a 7th grade English teacher it was poetry. I prefer poems that transport me or have me saying 'aha' or are so filled with imagery that the words leap off the page and into my heart creating a picture more vivid than any photograph could ever be. 

I read all 62 poems in the bunch pretty rapidly. Partly because I only had so much time to read them all in one sitting, and also because I wanted the poems I chose to grab me and take hold of me at first glance. Plus, I knew it was first come-first served. And if a poem grabbed me at the first glance, then I knew that it was for me.

When I came to the poem "A Change in the Weather" I felt an immediate grab. I printed it out and started sketching my ideas immediately (sorry for the poor scan!).

When the poet, Joy Kirsch, read this verse on Friday, she prefaced by telling the story that back in January a slip of the tongue by a radio announcer sparked her imagination and she wrote these lines.

A Change in the Weather by Joy Kirsch

Early January
Ten below
The radio announcer misspeaks
"Today a chance of flowers"

Oh, yes, please
Give me pansies and peonies
Larkspurs and lilacs
Clouds of cosmos
Roses and more roses
Let the petals fall...
Like Rain

It wasn't until Joy was reading her poem, that I thought that she looked familiar. Turns out, she is a member of my church! It has been delightful to know her through her verse, and now we have an artful bond when we see each other on Sundays.

I am a big fan of pansies, my favorite flower, so that spoke to me right away. I wanted to have a pansy in my design, but that did not happen. However, my design is pretty close to the original drawing above. I originally thought that I would use vintage brooches in an explosion of colors with icy and snowy beads making up the other half. But as I was trying to make this, I just could not make the colors mesh.
But then one day I was at a local consignment shop (sadly going out of business) and there was the large white enameled bloom. I told the shop keeper what I was up to, but that is all that she had in stock. But I brought it home anyway and noticed that in my stash I had a lot of other white flowers. So that changed my direction a bit. 

You might recall that back in March I used a teaser of this piece in my Bead Table Wednesday post. The challenge for me was to get all of the vintage pieces to connect and also lay properly without being pokey. You see, unless the piece is already broken, I like to leave vintage things as they are. So each and every one of these pieces is wired to the next. So if the owner wants to remove the pins (especially should they become valuable in the future - none of them are now) then they can do that.

I present 'A Change in the Weather' inspired by the poem of the same name by Joy Kirsch. 

 Vintage petals
Frosted faceted glass beads for the snow
round bluish opalite coins for the cold
large irregular faceted clear quartz nuggets for the ice

I see this as a ravishing look for a bride, especially if she is also carrying one of these, which is similar to what Miranda Lambert carried down the aisle for her recent wedding that weighed in at over 4 pounds! This necklace is no shrinking violet either, but a complete stunner for the right bride (and for sale at the Gallery Q)!

So now it is your turn...
The weather can inspire so many different emotions. Have you ever been inspired by the weather to create something special?
Do tell!

Enjoy the day!

23 May 2011

Verse & Vision: Home in the Hive

"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others."
~Jonathan Swift

Friday was the opening event for the First Annual Verse & Vision exhibit at the Gallery Q in downtown Stevens Point.

I came to find out that this event was spurred into being by my show from last summer called "Inspired by..." where I interpreted the works of the artists at the Gallery Q through my jewelry. The artists that mounted this show wanted an event that would connect an even wider pool of Q artists with the community and be inspired by poetry. So the idea of Verse & Vision was born.

The idea is simple: have the artists at the Q interpret verses from Wisconsin poets through their medium. Two artists from our gallery put the plan in motion in December 2010. They thought that they might get about 50 poems submitted. They received nearly 300 entries from all across the state! A UWSP English professor and her upper level students acted as the jury committee and culled that number down to 62 poems.

Then they were brought to the artists at the Q and there was much excitement over the selection. We were allowed to read through the poems blind (no names attached) and choose those that spoke to our heart. It was first come, first served and so there was much wrangling among the artists. No more than two artists were allowed to portray each poem and overall 29 artists participated, some selecting more than just one. I chose four.

Then on Friday, during the 6th annual Arts Walk in the downtown, we invited the poets to come and read their verses. It was a packed house. A standing room only crowd. We had an after party that was well attended, and sold so much that we could scarcely close the till. The art and poetry will be on display until the end of June. And a book was made of the poems and the accompanying artwork. What a fine gift to give to someone who loves poetry and art!

The first time that I knew the authors of the poems I was drawn to was when they came up to read their lines. I was pleasantly surprised to have a connection to two of them.

I have spoken to the poets, or am in the process of speaking to them. I want to thank them for writing these powerful words. And I wanted to ask them if I could share their words to accompany my jewelry designs. I have a hearty approval from two of them, so I will share them first this week, and hopefully hear from the others.

This first poem is from Lesley Wheeler, who happens to be married to the son of a family from my church. Her husband is a musician and her parents are as well. In fact, I am a cantor at Newman Parish and her mother-in-law is the music director. Lesley and her husband Karl did live in New York but have since moved to Iowa, so Lesley might be the poet that traveled the farthest for this reading! I am delighted to share her work with you.

Home in the Hive by Lesley Wheeler

At home in the hive
of convergences, we
sit back and drink
lemonade from jars.
Cracks in the comb
reveal views of clipper
ship sails which pass
by slowly, decks laden
with crates of worry
disguised as treasure.

(P.S. I did take video of Lesley reading this, and I have my original sketches. I will try to add those later, but I wanted to get something out there today!)

And here is my interpretation:


Beautiful copper chain given a rich patina and the clipper ship silver clay button
by artist Shannon of MissFickleMedia
Brass bees
Honeycomb inspired gold sunstone quartz beads
Antique skeleton key
Ceramic honeycomb round by artist Kylie Parry
White linen yarn


So now it is your turn...
Has a poem ever inspired you? What was it - do share!
Is there a favorite poet that speaks to your heart?
Can you see the reference from poetry to art? I would love to hear your comments!

Enjoy the day!

P.S. Stay tuned for the rest of this week when I reveal the remaining poems and art jewelry.

19 May 2011

i thank You God for most this amazing day

"It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way."

~Warren Ellis

I love macro photography.

There is something so special about being able to see so closely and clearly what your naked eye cannot discern. It feels a bit like looking into an otherworldly landscape that is at once alien yet familiar.

There have been a lot of blogs lately jumping on the macro picture wagon. While most of the photos on my camera are of the jewelry variety (always shot with macro), with the occasional baseball or dance picture thrown in, I would love to jump in an participate just to see what I could do. So last week, Friday the 13th, I took my camera on a walk with me in along the banks of the Wisconsin River and set the lens on the macro setting. I am quite certain that people thought I was ridiculous as I marched right up to trees and pointed the camera inches away! I was surprised at what I got when I got back home and logged these into my Flickr account.

This gray day seemed devoid color. But I couldn't be more wrong. Just the variety of greens was staggering!
And I love how the macro makes textures the star.

I thought that these images should be accompanied by my most favorite poem by poet e.e. cummings.

Enjoy!


{this is the one and only birch tree on this stretch and each side was different}


i thank You God for most this amazing


{my favorite shot of hostas in front of my house... i didn't even know there was dew until i took this off the camera!}

day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees

{new buds - in front of a mossy tree}
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything

{pussy willows in a jar at the main grain bakery just begging to be touched}
which is natural which is infinite which is yes


{a notty tree]
(i who have died am alive again today,

{the great divide - looks like an otherworldly relief map}

and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth

{like a 3 inch square forest}

day of life and love and wings: and of the gay

{willow buds blowing in the breeze}

great happening illimitably earth)

{this looks alien, or like a coral reef - one of my favorite shots!}
how should tasting touching hearing seeing

{the bark on this tree was paper thin and all rusty, curling every which way}

breathing any-lifted from the no

{little islands of moss on the deck at my office}
of all nothing-human merely being


{daffodil}


doubt unimaginable You?

{dahlia from my mom's present for mother's day}

(now the ears of my ears awake and

{tulips standing guard - they are my sister's favorite flower and make me think of her!}
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
 
 
(all photos by me with a little help from Picnik ;-)
 
Now I am definitely off to treat myself to some macro filters in lieu of an expensive macro lens!
 
 
This stuff will be addicting for sure!
 

16 May 2011

A Little Like Miracle-Gro

"This very moment is a seed from which the flowers of tomorrow's happiness grow."
~Margaret Lindsey

You may have thought that I fell off the face of the blogdom. Or maybe that I was buried alive and I am now clawing my way back to the surface. Or perhaps I could plead that Blogger told me to go stand in a virtual corner (but after what happened with them last week, perhaps they should be the ones being punished). But more than likely I was just sucked into the swirling vortex of my real life.

The simple truth is that I needed a break.

But I am back! I missed you all so.

Thanks to those who wondered where I went and hoped I would come back. You always make me smile. ;-)

Whatever the scenario, I can tell you that there was a lot that got done while it appeared that I was not doing much of anything.

For three years I have wanted to set up an email campaign. To use the names that I have collected from shows, through my blog, those who started as customers and now are truly friends...but I just didn't know how to go about it. Which is surprising, really, since my day job involves internet marketing and custom database list creation for clients. Or maybe it is just that after doing that all day long I want nothing to do with it when I am at home and can play with my beads. Uh-huh. That last one must be it. (Either that or I am incredibly lazy. ;-)

So this past week I did a few things that I am pretty proud of and have been dying to share with you (but given Blogger's woes, I am just as happy to have waited a few more days).

All of these things that I did this past week and then some center around my new 'simple truths' starting to blossom and grow.

It started as the tiny seed of an idea: create a line of jewelry and components that I would be proud to share with the world. Last September I found my inspiration, developed the concept, decided on test marketing different options, bought a lot of tools and materials to play with, targeted my audience for feedback... yet it wasn't until I stumbled on a tutorial on polymer clay that I was able to pull it all together and that germinating idea started to sprout roots. And grow in a different direction than I ever would have thought. But I can tell you that I more than succeeded at my original plan.

It wasn't until December 21, 2010 that I made my first 'simple truths' and it has been like being shot out of a cannon ever since. There will be growing pains and dry spells along the way, but this growing feels good.

So there I was in early January emailing my sweet friend to let her know what I was up to, asking her what she was doing. And in the course of our emails she mentioned that she was going to send in some of her components for consideration to the annual buyer's guide. I had often wondered how those pieces were selected, so I asked her if she wouldn't mind sending me the information.

I packaged up what of my very first charms (and cringe a bit now at what I sent!) and sent them off with a note that this was a new venture for me and I hoped to be selling them soon. I told them to enjoy the day. And then I forgot all about it.

It wasn't until late in February when I got an email from Interweave asking if I wanted to buy an ad in Beads 2011. Why? Because my charms were selected as an Editor's Pick!  

Wha...?

I quickly realized that I needed to start listing them instead of just giving them away to all my bloggy buddies (I lost count of how many I gave away!).

I have sold a few here and there in my shop...and more than a few since the Beads 2011 issue came out. And have some repeat customers...and new ones who certainly found me through this magazine...which makes me happier than you know. I am working on some new packaging ideas. Overall, the feedback has been phenomenal. Being a part of this issue has been like a wicked cool fertilizer. I just hope I can keep pace with the growth.

{Custom goodies for my dear friend Malin in Sweden...check out her new Etsy shop!}
I have had the great fortune to take on many custom orders, like this one above for my friend Malin. And ones for Janet. And a few more for Janet. And Jenny. And Kaylee. And several for Susan that were made into complete necklaces.

{We raised nearly $400!)

And 27 semi-custom dancer necklaces as a fundraiser.

I live for custom. ;-)

Next I started thinking about what I would like to see from my favorite designers...I love surprises, and things that are one-of-a-kind or limited edition (if you sell a grab bag or a set of orphan beads, those are the ones I usually want to buy) so a subscription service that would surprise me with goodies, especially unique or limited edition pieces, in a price point that I could feel good about is what I would like. Which made me think that if I wanted that, maybe there were others who felt the same way.

And the 'simple truths' sampler membership was born.


I created a flyer in Photoshop (yea, me!), set up an email campaign in Mail Chimp (am loving this *free* service) and sent out my first newsletter announcing that sign-ups for the 'simple truths' sampler club was open. And I even got my very first charter members almost immediately after doing that!

If you are interested in being included in my Treasures Found Nation newsletter list, please click the tab at the top to sign up (yes...tabs are a new thing that I worked on this past week, too!) . I will send notices of pendant updates, news from the studio, what I am working on, perhaps a few words of wisdom, future challenges and special offers, including a treat from me if you tell me your birthday (you don't even have to tell me the year ;-). I am guessing that I might have someting to say, oh, monthly-ish.

So what is the 'simple truths' sampler, you ask? A subscription based service where you will receive a new charm or pendant or component every month of your membership. I will continue to offer 'simple truths' in my shop, but the sampler club will feature exclusive pieces that will only be available to subscribers. These will be my very favorite designs in a limited run, perhaps in limited colors, but all fabulous. And there is a Phase II to all this...and the sampler will give me the right soil to test it out on. Hopefully I will get feedback from respected designers on where to go next. As a member, I encourage posting 'simple truths' designs to the Flickr group... at the end of each quarter I will select a random picture and that person will receive something special just from me.

And tonight I thought about it...I think that someone who makes these into jewelry, like the oh-so-talented Cherrie Fick of En La Lumiere would have some pretty awesome ideas, but I also know that these are just as comfy on a simple chain, so getting in on the 'simple truths' sampler would work like an interchangeable charm club for anyone.
{This simple truth is 'reveal your truth' paired with incredible opal stones}

The best part is that you can try it out for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months. Commit to exactly what works for you! But space is limited to 20 participants a month. Any more would not be as special.

If I have intrigued you, click the tab at the top of the page to read more or to place your order.

And remember back in March when I teased you all with this image for my BTW?


Well, that is the ad that I created for Beads 2011. And I nearly fell off my chair when I found it on page 44 with all the other artist beads. Imagine that! I am an art bead artist!

{Enjoy the use of this code on anything in my Etsy shop from now through 08.31.11.}

This is all happening because I took a chance and planted a seed... A chance on a brand new material, on following a little known offshoot of my planned path, on trusting my instincts for growth, and watching my vision bloom. I am truly honored to have been selected for Beads 2011 as that has been a little like Miracle-Gro for me...not only has it fueled rapid growth but it has helped me see that there are other fields to till as well. If you haven't seen a copy of this annual Buyer's Guide, you really should pick one up. It is cram-packed with beady goodness! But wait...there's more! Stay tuned Tuesday for a very special art bead giveaway that I am hosting on the Art Bead Scene featuring beads, components and products from some of the fine artists and companies featured in Beads 2011. You won't want to miss this!

P.S. I just posted an Etsy shop update! Use the code above and find a treasure just for you!

If you could get something delivered to you in a subscription of 3, 6, 9, or 12 months, what would it be? Would you choose chocolate? Or flowers? Or impossibly high and pointy shoes? What about best selling novels? Or maybe cheese? Perhaps you would choose sunny days or breath mints that give you courage? What would you like to receive tied up in a pretty package each month? Do tell!

Enjoy the day!

04 May 2011

BTW: Nesting

"Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings."

~Victor Hugo

The birds are staking out their claim on my front porch for nests.

I came downstairs the other day and came face-to-face with a pigeon of some sort checking out the options.

Our front door is all glass... from the front door to the side lights to the transom window. Sometimes it feels like I am living in a fishbowl.

But in spring it is more like an aviary, like the kind that they have at the assisted living facility. A big glass enclosure with dozens of tiny birds flitting about, perching on little branches.

We will wake up one morning and come down the stairs to find the beginnings of a nest and someone sitting in it. I always feel a bit voyeuristic when I see this. They fly away. My husband removes the twigs before they can complete it. (This is the only staircase in our house, and while it would be cool to watch the nests this close, we disrupt them every time we walked by. I don't want to be the adoptive momma to a bunch of baby birds. Plus it makes a huge mess. So please don't hate me!). Then the process repeats itself. Until one day I discovered that if I hung old CDs in the window they wouldn't like the spinning and color and noise. There are plenty of trees and bushes and other structures around. It is just not the best place to feather a nest in my glass front door. So what if my neighbors think I am crazy for a few weeks? ;-)
{New crackle components from Earthenwood Studio}

When Melanie of Earthenwood Studio sent me my last Design Team packet I admit that I set it down and forgot about it. And then I saw what some others were doing and I thought that I never received. Luckily for me, Miss Melanie is kind and generous and helped me realize that I had April's package tucked away with March. Needless to say, I am a bit behind. But with the sort of April that I just had, I hope that you will all forgive me!

Melanie sent use a few of her new crackle glaze components and I just love them. The set she sent me has a sort of soft pink creaminess to it (but I see that she offers other glaze choices). The crackles are such a delightful texture. And the shapes are great too. The little egg and the connector will have to wait for another day, because I had my eye on that egg shaped donut from the moment I laid eyes on them.

So my Bead Table Wednesday is more of a finished project since I didn't think to take a shot as I was working. Finishing something feels good!

I had a vision that there needed to be a nest in that hole. I suppose it would have been easier for me to just use it as a toggle, but I like to challenge myself...especially if it is really late at night and I have been sitting on a baseball field in cold and wind for a double header for 4 hours. (That is when my urge to challenge myself really kicks in ;-)

I made the messy nest with galvanized steel wire and an egg shaped mother of pearl bead from a defunct vintage necklace I picked up from an flea market shop.

I dug through my stash and found this sweet little bird tile from Marie at MoreSkyeJewels.Etsy.com but there were holes at the corners. Hmmm... I found the perfect Vintaj filigree to wrap it in, but the wholes were either visible or not lined up at all with the natural holes in the filigree. What to do? I got out my trusty screw punch and poked a few more holes in the filigree (one needs to be enlarged a bit but for now it works fine).


Then it was just a matter of bringing it all together. I found some turquoise nuggets, more mother of pearl vintage egg beads. I added some wood rondelles to call to mind the branch of a tree. But then the color I wasn't seeing was the soft pink of the Earthenwoods component. So I added three little mauve colored pearls that add a lustrous sheen to the piece.

I used a combination of Vintaj elements, like the leaf and the rings and the filigree, I punched holes in the branch to make it a connector, and I also used galvanized steel wire to cage the beads and add a different patina to the metals. I wanted this to be a longer necklace so I found this great textured cable chain from AD Adornments (I seem to recall that I bought the last of the roll that she had at Bead & Button), and I found a sweet little gunmetal magnetic flower clasp to complete the look.



I call this Remember You Have Wings.

Please go and visit Miss Melanie's blog to see what she is up to (it is always something innovative and fun), and also check out the other members of the Earthenwood Design Team.


What is on your bead table or work table today?

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