27 October 2011

Take Time

"Most people would rather be certain they're miserable,
than risk being happy."
~Robert Anthony


I have this little magnet that I bought years ago that is called The Daily Guide to Happiness. I have seen many versions of this poem and more seem to be written to it all time. I don't remember to look at it every day, but when it is all of a sudden unearthed from my refrigerator, it reminds me that I do indeed have all that I need to be happy. But if I have an awareness of that happiness, then I have a responsibility to share happiness with others.

It is easy to complain, to sag your shoulders and adopt a woe-is-me attitude. It is not easy to pick yourself up in the face of whatever adversities are yours to bear and smile through the tears. I am not always the most cheery person on this planet. I am a bear in the mornings and when things don't go the way I expect them to go I can be downright gloomy. And don't even get me started if I misplace something (happens very frequently) as I am a like the Tasmanian devil (just ask my family). So little reminders like this magnet that I have held onto for years serve me well to realign myself and plant my feet squarely moving forward instead of being rooted to a sinking quagmire.

I thought that those messages were ones I needed to carry around so I decided to make them into a series that I call 'take time' in my Simple Truths style. I have this great new bezel that is a long thin rectangle. Perfect for telling fortunes or carrying a mantra or word that is near to your heart. I modified the original poem slightly and added a few new ones for my own twist, but overall there are some messages here that I need to wear and be reminded of every day.

{available for sale on Etsy - custom orders welcome}

Here  is my modified 'take time' mantra....
Take time to care...it makes strangers friends.
Take time to read...it's the fountain of wisdom.
Take time to create...it's your gift to give.
Take time to think...it's the source of power.
Take time to work...it's the price of success.
Take time to laugh...it's music of the soul.
Take time to play...it's the secret to youth.
Take time to give...it brings joy to others.
Take time to love...it will lift you higher.
Take time to pray...it's the start of miracles.

Your turn...
Your happiness is not divided when you share your positivity with the world, it multiplies and is reflected back to you tenfold.
What are you taking time for today?

26 October 2011

BTW::Small Things with Great Love

"We cannot do great things in this life, only small things with great love."
~ Mother Theresa

For this Bead Table Wednesday I will show you some small things that are threatening to take over my life.

My displays from the show - by themselves they don't seem like much, but when they are amassed in one or two or five bins, they take up a lot of space. I am hoping to get that shelf up on the wall so that I can display things properly! Maybe tripping on these every day will encourage me to get that done!

The pile for the girl scout class - I am teaching a simple jewelry making lesson to 35 girl scouts on Friday. (35 girls? What am I thinking?)

We are using the Vintaj Sizzix Big Kick to emboss metal blanks and then we are painting them with Extreme Glitter acrylic paint (that is what Tiny Dancer said they would like), covering with Magic Glos and hitting with the UV lamp to make faux enamel components. Then we are layering them in simple mixed media, multi-medal charm necklaces.
{'simple truths' pair well with Vintaj embossed blanks, Humblebeads egg nest and mushroom and ForTheLoveofBeads glass headpins by Mallory Hoffman!}
The mass of 'simple truths' (I have about 100 waiting for me!) that are destined for either jewelry for the holiday shows or for Etsy.

{Small Things-Great Love}
And my entry for the Art Bead Scene for October inspired by the painting A Hedgehog in a Landscape by Giovanna Garzoni. I created a little 'simple truths' hedgie with the message "do small things with great love" as a nod to that quote up above by Mother Theresa. I used a combination of picture jasper, wood nuggets, painted wood ovals, stick pearls, shell bead, Vintaj leaf and Mamacita's pewter acorn. Squeaked in just at the last minute!

What is on your bead table today?

25 October 2011

Shift Into Iridescence

Sorry that this somehow didn't get posted yesterday...

The winner of the enamel earrings "Nothin' But Blue Skies" is Stephanie McGinley! Stephanie, please email me with your address.

The winner of the signed copy of Barbara's book Painting With Fire is Courtney Breul! Courtney, please email Miss Barbara with your address.


The Dragonfly
a poem by Louise Bogan

You are made of almost nothing
But of enough
To be great eyes
And diaphanous double vans;
To be ceaseless movement,
Unending hunger,
Grappling love.

Link between water and air,
Earth repels you.
Light touches you only to shift into iridescence
Upon your body and wings.

Twice-born, predator,
You split into the heat.
Swift beyond calculation or capture
You dart into the shadow
Which consumes you.
You rocket into the day.
But at last, when the wind flattens the grasses,
For you, the design and purpose stop.
And you fall
With the other husks of summer.

When I attended the Inspired by Nature retreat in South Haven, MI in September, Heather had the idea to do a bead mixer party. We each had to bring in a 16" strand of nice beads in the colors of green, teal or purple. We cut them all apart and put them in a big stock pot. Then one of the ladies got a big spoon and stirred them all together.

There were pearls and amethysts, crystals and pressed glass, ceramic and seed beads and every shape and size you can imagine. We were each served up a healthy portion of the bead stew and challenged to get our creative juices flowing. Then we set about to create something special from this mix.

Around this same time, I had found out about a little contest that Jewelry Television was hosting. I had heard about it through the wonderful Miss Margot Potter. Do you know Miss Madge? She blogs, and writes books and comes up with unique and crafty ways to stretch your jewelry creativity. Plus she is the on-air educator for the Jewel School videos. I have found many helpful videos on there from the likes of Sherri Haab, Leslie Rogalski, Katie Hacker and more. Check it out!

The contest rules were to make a piece of jewelry and submit it for judging. That's it. There was not even a rule that you had to use a Jewelry Television product (I checked on that) which I thought was pretty generous, especially since the grand prize is valued at $5,000 ($2,500 in cash and $2,500 in JTV credit plus the chance to have the winning design created as a kit or for sale on JTV and in the Jewel School videos!).

I wanted to find out how their products stacked up against other online vendors so I gave it a shot and found a few things to try. I bought some druzy cabochons (I am thinking of filigree wrapping them) and some clay beads (which I ended up using in my ABS entry for September) and these intriguing mosaic mother of pearl shell donut beads. I never buy that shape. I don't know why. But something about the way these donuts shimmered when the light shifted and the soft colors really drew me in.

As far as a critique of JTV, I will say that I was a bit dismayed when my PayPal account was charged a separate charge for each item, instead of one charge, and it took a bit longer to receive them than I expected, but the quality of the beads and cabs was very good. Each was packaged in a separate, very sturdy and almost decorative box. Nice touch.

I started with the donut and a Czech pressed glass shimmering dragonfly button that I bought in a little bead shop in South Haven. I wanted the donut to be the focal of this garden-themed bracelet, and so I started grouping clusters of dangles in the hole, like a wrist corsage, with the bee hovering up above. I have a few of these golden bees left that are dimensional on all sides (wish I knew where I found those so long ago!) and I thought that with all the silver toned spacers and wire I was using that this little pop of gold would draw your eye in nicely.

The rest of the bracelet came together rather quickly. I used two strands of Beadalon beading wire and started with the purple peanut beads to make a button hole for the dragonfly button for the clasp. Then I just strung a random pattern of beads, weaving them in and out of the beads for structure. A few more dangles to fill the space, and voila!

{Shift into Iridescence}

I don't enter challenges because I think that I am going to win them. Often I don't make it that far. I do challenges just for the fun of it, to stretch my creative wings and to see if I can rise to it. I am very honored to have been chosen by a very esteemed panel of judges to be in the top. I have seen the other finalists and they run the gamut from metal clay to wire wrapped gemstones. Each is very beautiful in its own way.

The next phase of the Jewelry Television contest, I am told, consists of a live broadcast on Wednesday, October 26th where they will show off all the finalists. The program guide shows it from 11:00am-2:00pm (but that could be EST). They will be kicking off the popular voting portion of the contest. If you don't get the television station (check your listing guides), they do have streaming video on their website and they are on Facebook, so there might be a way to vote through those methods as well. But hurry! I believe that they will be announcing the winners on Sunday, October 30th!

I hope that you will go and check out the wonderful finalists and perhaps think about voting.  And if you choose to vote, please vote for the design that you feel really deserves the top honor (I won't know if you voted for me anyway!). I have no illusions that I am going to be in the top three after the vote, but it is certainly an honor to be selected as a finalist.

Your turn....
If you were to get $2500 for your creative business, what would you spend it on?

22 October 2011

The Torch Fired Way: Bringing Beautiful Beads to Light

Welcome to my assigned book tour day for the new book by Barbara Lewis,
Thank you for visiting! 
{Out of This World - currently on the cover
of Creative Jewelry featuring glass by
Kerry Bogert and enamel by Barbara Lewis}
I remember finding Barbara's beads for the first time. I was sucked in by the vivid colors, the smooth glass like finish, the intricate filigrees.

When I launched my very first solo art exhibit called 'Inspired by' last summer, one of the pieces of art I was interpreting was a color-laden and whimsical acrylic painting. I knew that I had to have some of Barbara's fabulous beads to work with so I asked her to collaborate with me. I will never forget what she said to me...she said it was so much fun to play in another person's sandbox. Well, today I get to return the favor and play in a happy, color-filled sandbox of Barbara!

I love the idea of this virtual book tour (mental note: do this when you have your own book tour. No flying involved and you can stay in your jammies as long as you like!). I was so honored to be invited to participate and so humbled to be among this who's who list of incredible designers and artists (really? Do I fit in here?) especially since I have never actually made a bead. But Barbara is a kind and generous soul who has followed along with me in my journey and she knows that I took a class with Stephanie Lee this past spring which helped ease my 'fear of the flame' as she put it. Even so, I am the sort that needs to have a class. I am excited to help Miss Barbara announce that she has been accepted to teach FOUR CLASSES at the 2012 Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee next June, so I am looking forward to the day when I will meet her in person, give her a big hug and make beads (I hope I can get a spot in one of her classes)! Until then, I have this exemplary book to make me drool and pique my interest, which I plan to study up and cram like no other textbook I ever had in college (maybe I would have done better if they all were like this! ;-). 

As the 'resident English teacher,' Barbara asked me to focus my review on the readability, layout and transitions. I appreciate having something to focus on, Miss Barbara!
I am a book junkie. If it is coming out on Amazon, I likely have it in my cart or if I am really intrigued, I might even pre-order it. For me to desire a book, I do judge it by its cover. And judging by this cover, it is hard to resist.

I think I may have drooled a bit on my keyboard the first time I saw it. ;-)
The photography in this edition is first-rate. Which is good, because I am a visual learner (you mean you expect me to actually read the instructions? Just because I taught English in a former life doesn't mean that I actually enjoy reading instructions!). I am the sort that will take one look at something and just plunge right in, making so many mistakes along the way (teaching me how NOT to do things!), but determined to make it work. Well, these pictures are so detailed and close up that it would be hard to screw it up. 

What I love about the pictures in this book is that they actually slow me down to understand the nuance of each step so that I can better appreciate the finished piece. And not just the more technical shots of open flame and drill bits, but even something as simple as tying a graceful knot in the 'All Wound Up' bracelet or cutting fabric on the bias in 'Harem' are given the attention they deserve. That is the mark of a true teacher. Barbara wants to show all the steps and to make sure that there is mastery of one building block before moving onto the next. I imagine that her classes at the Bead and Button will be just like the book coming to life!

The arrangement of each project is well laid out. I love that the pictures are large and detailed, and that there is some 'white space' to let my eye rest. There is a clear 'ingredients' list for each project including a list of tools, and the most important safety tips in the beginning, which I appreciate and will be re-reading again and again. I have too many books on my shelves that I never pull down to read because they are too cluttered or not explicit enough. This book is striking the right balance with me. Oh! I just noticed the cute detail on the numbers for each page - like a little hand cut brass flower waiting to be enameled! Great attention to detail!

{from my 'Inspired by' exhibit featuring Barbara's enamel beads}

I frequently buy books that are not in my own comfort zone or medium, and playing with fire, while intriguing, is not fully in my wheelhouse...yet. I love to look at the color palettes in fabric or quilt books, and the play of pattern in black and white nature photography, and this book is no different, particularly since I have never made a bead. The reason that I challenge myself with a book that is out of my zone, is that it is just that...a challenge. Even if fire is not your thing, I challenge you to see how this book will inspire you.
I fully intend to buy the kit from Barbara and take a class from her in the coming year (Hello...Bead and Button! Squee!), but until that time, I am excited by the transference of these projects. Even if I haven't made all the beads using this method, there are some innovative new designs in this book that I could see easily translating into working with the gemstones, metal and art beads that I have. (My favorite projects? The fabric wrapped in 'Harem,' the fiber strands n 'Pink Ink,' the balance and texture in 'Winged Heart,' and the idea of a bezel setting in 'Of Space and Time.') That makes it a far more valuable resource to me. Even if you have no intention of making an enameled bead, you can't go wrong with the incredible eye candy and delightful jewelry designs. And lucky for me, Barbara continues to sell her beads so that we can make these designs! (I am SO going to make 'Harem'!)

I love how each person who has reviewed this book has taken away lessons that suit them most. There is a project for everyone to love, and a few new techniques to master, as well as a sense of how this method can be tailored to each individual style and taste from contemporary pops of color to romantic filigree shapes to rustic time-worn treasures and everything in between. Barbara makes me believe that even I, with my waning fear of the flame, can bring these beauties to light. Several of the projects even have variations to the theme which I appreciate because it shows possibility and encourages the reader to see what direction this inspiration takes you, rather than trying to replicate this project exactly as shown. And with enamels I would guess that it is rather impossible to duplicate the same effect each time. Make it your own! That is the magic of enamel!

Barbara's book has inspired me to think outside of the jewelry box, to see the potential in things like copper pipes, scraps of fabric, kinetic movement, and color. You can't forget about color. I can't wait until I can put all these ideas into practice and learn from the Master herself, but until then, I will be studying this book over and over again, finding something new each time to delight and inspire.

{Nothin' But Blue Skies - giveaway!}

In honor of this Painting With Fire virtual book tour, I have created a pair of earrings (above) featuring brilliant blue enameled fluted beads that Barbara made for me. I call them 'Nothin' But Blue Skies' for it certainly looks as if this book is creating wide open spaces for Miss Barbara! AND since I am focusing on the layout and readability of the book, Barbara has graciously donated a signed copy of the book for another lucky winner! Two winners! Yea! (You know the drill....;-)

 Be sure to check out all the fun that is happening on these blogs:

October 6, Mary Jane Dodd, http://www.mairedodd.blogspot.com/
October 7, Gaea Cannaday, http://www.gaeabeads.blogspot.com/
October 10, Andrew Thornton, http://www.andrew-thornton.blogspot.com/
October 12, Diane Cook, http://www.rosa-josies.blogspot.com/
October 13, Lori Anderson, http://www.prettythingsblog.com/
October 15, Jen Judd Velasquez, http://www.jenjuddrocks.blogspot.com/
October 17, Melissa Meman, http://www.melissameman.blogspot.com/
October 18, Lisa Crone, http://www.abeadaday.blogspot.com/
October 19, Shannon LeVart, http://www.missficklemediacom.blogspot.com/
October 20, Cindy Wimmer, http://www.sweetbeadstudio.com/
October 21, Laura Twiford, http://www.souvenirsfromlife.blogspot.com/
October 22, Erin Prais-Hintz, www.treasures-found.blogspot.com - YOU ARE HERE!
October 24, Jennifer Cameron, www.glassaddictions.com
October 25, Sharilyn Miller, http://sharilynmiller.blogspot.com/

To thank you for following along, we will have a BONUS PRIZE at the end of the book tour! All of the entries will be included in the drawing for a kit containing all the elements of "Floral Cascade," one of the projects in the book. =====>
You'll receive everything you need to make the necklace, including the chain, jump rings, clasp, enamel beads, and head pins!

For a chance to win the Grand Prize - a Torch-Firing Kit
(or $110 shopping experience at www.paintingwithfireartwear.com) -
please leave a REVIEW at 
Amazon.com by November 24.

So leave 1 comment here for 1 chance to win these prizes (earrings or book).

Leave a 2nd comment if you posted about the virtual book tour on facebook and leave a 3rd comment if you tweet for even more chances.
(Unfortunately, we have to restrict the giveaways to U.S. residents.)

We will be drawing names soon and Barbara will announce them on her blog, which I will follow up with here on my mine.

Winners should contact Barbara with their name and address through her author website: www.torchfiredenameljewelry.com so that you can receive your prizes!

21 October 2011

Color Palette Blog Walk 3: What Brings You Joy?

"Enjoy life. It is not a dress rehearsal."

My father says 'life is not a dress rehearsal' all the time. I just found this quote and it is particularly perfect since today is the Color Palette Blog Walk 3 hosted by the fabulous Miss Brandi of Brandigirl Blog. She challenged us to see the beauty around us while focusing on that which brings us joy. That is quite open to interpretation!

The only other requirement is that you have taken the photos yourself. So I set out to find those things that bring me great joy.

Twenty-six years ago a shy boy named Paul asked out a geeky girl name Erin. They dated for a month before he took her to the Homecoming dance on October 12, 1985. This picture was taken at her grandmother's house when he came to pick her up. Little did she know that not only would their first kiss be later that night (one that knocked her shoes off ~ literally ~ the same as today.). That night would change the course of their  lives. Forever. I love this picture because we seem blissfully unaware of the life that lay before us, that this pivotal moment was about to come. And seven years later, on October 24th, 1992 this pair would say their vows by the flicker of candlelight in a rare nighttime wedding ceremony. Being Paul's wife for 19 years and together for 26 (but knowing each other for 33!) has been the single greatest extended moment of joy in my life.

I am so proud to be your mother, Rocket. The moment that I decided that my life was not complete without you was one that I will never forget. I love to watch you explore your God given talents and to excel at the things you love. Chief among them is your athletic prowess on the baseball field. I simply cannot.get.enough of you and your friends as you play America's greatest game. I hope to watch you play this game you love for many years to come.

I remember the day that you were born, Tiny Dancer. It was filled with such joy and an outpouring of love from your father and me. Each day you are blossoming into the most beautiful soul and it humbles me to be the witness to your transformation. Your personality is shining and those around you can't help but be charmed by you. You have a wonderful way of expressing yourself, through words, music and dance. You are my greatest treasure and being your momma brings me much joy.

I took this picture during the final game of the traveling baseball season. A storm was rolling in but up in the sky just beyond third base, it looked as if God were smiling down on the team. There was no enhancing of this photo. It reminds me that there is a higher power to believe in. Being a part of the awesome work that is to be done here on earth is a great responsibility but also a wonderful opportunity. For heaven isn't just some far away place, up in the clouds. It is right here in you and me.

I took this picture during the Inspired by Nature retreat on the shores of Lake Michigan. The sky seemed to be melting that night. I did not enhance this picture at all, and each was more incredible than the last. The joy that I felt when surrounding myself with the creative community has been the fuel for my passion. I can truly feel that I am meant to teach and inspire and encourage creativity, which is what this retreat weekend taught me. That and I value the friendships that I have made.

Looking back as I drove home from Galena, IL, I spied the most incredible sunset. Yes, I was driving down the highway taking pictures of my rear view mirror. No, I would not recommend this. But to be fair, I merely pointed and shot and I am amazed at what I got for not looking through the lens! This picture reminds me of where I came from and where I am going. And to value the journey as much, if not more than, the destination.

Working with other creatives to make art is so inspiring to me, and inspiration is the biggest source of my joy. Right now I am working on a collaboration with an artist to turn these beads of hers into something wonderful for her to share the joy of creating with women on the other side of the world. I am incredibly honored that she chose me to bring these beads to life. Aren't these beads the most awesome thing you have ever seen? Sorry to be a tease, I can't tell you any more, but soon I will reveal more about the collaboration that is causing me all sorts of joy... I promise!

Thank you for sharing in the joy that I find around me. Please visit the other blogs on the Color Palette Blog Walk 3:

Francesca at Francesca Watson Designs
Lori at Pretty Things
Marsha at Marsha Neal Studio Blog
Cindy at Sweet Bead Studio
Kerry at Kab’s Concepts
Cynthia at Ornamental Style
Linda at Linda’s Bead Blog & Meanderings
Emily at Good Things*
Erin at Treasures Found (You are here!)
Jenni at Jenni’s Beads
Shari at Exploring the Wonders of Life
Brandi at Brandi Girl Blog (the hostess!)

Your turn...What color is joy in your life?

20 October 2011

Opulent Odyssey

op·u·lent adj \-lənt\

: exhibiting or characterized by opulence: as  
a : having a large estate or property : wealthy
b : amply or plentifully provided or fashioned often to the point of ostentation 

od·ys·sey noun \ˈä-də-sē\
1: a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune
2: an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest 

My friend Miss Deryn Mentock threw down the gauntlet the other day when she posted a picture of a room taken from the blog Interior Alchemy and challenge us all to be inspired. Well, inspired I was!

I imagined that this room, with its puddles of damask bordered in deep crimson fringe, the ornate gilded molding of the picture frames, the broken marble statues, the tiled smoky mirror studded with pearls, and the soft light filtering through the hushed room. Since this is so far away from anything that I would ever experience where I am, I concocted a story of intrigue and romance in this room that must surely be found in a luxurious place, like a castle in France or Russia. 

This would likely be a wonderful place to stop and savor time standing still. If I were to be in this room, I would be wearing a fluttery and soft silk peignoir, lighting candles to illumine the reflective surfaces in the dying light and a warmed by crackling fire (on the other side of the room, of course) to keep me cozy all night long. Is this the place to insert the hot bod of a hunk with rippling biceps, a chiseled chin and an accent that makes you go weak in the knees? Why yes, please.

I love these colors and surfaces and textures. This is right in my wheelhouse. And why not a little multi-tasking to make a challenge fun? I went to my stash and found a box that had been sent to me by the wonderful people at Nina Designs. They have a new blog partner program where they surprise some bloggers with a goodie box filled with their latest designs. Did I manage to take a picture of the before? Of course not. But I will tell you that it was filled with the most lovely golden trinkets. 

 I received a stylized tree of life pendant and a cut out peacock feather among a few other things. This is part of their new bronze line. With the price of precious metals through the roof, and those metals being their sole business, it is to their credit that they have brought a line of components out that are more affordable and high quality that give you the same luxurious quality of the real thing. The pieces I received are 24kt gold plated over bronze. They are silky and highly polished, and if I didn't know it I would swear it is solid gold. 

Since I can think of no other more extravagant pet to have in a room like this than a peacock, I thought that it would make for the perfect focal.

And a few weeks ago, I returned from Galena and the Vintaj workshop all excited by the projects and possibilities that I had explored there. I picked up some of their new leaf/feather shapes in brass. I thought that this pendant could use a little layering. I hammered a texture onto the brass feather that has a square pattern that mimics the tiles of the mosaic mirror or the damask curtains. I buffed the texture to make that gilt look and added color with alcohol inks.

I love AD Adornments and always find the most unique things there. I can buy online but there is no substitute for actually touching the vintage and hard to find beads. I had picked up a lot of intriguing things this year at Bead & Button, including that vintage rhinestone ring (that I wire wrapped to a Vintaj, the rhinestone beads and the most brilliant pearl rondelle spacers (that is by far my favorite that I have never found elsewhere). 

I looked in my bead drawer and lo and behold! There was this lush strand of claret side drilled stick pearls. I am not even sure where I got those, or maybe they were gifted to me. They reminded me so much of that jagged fringe at the top of the curtains, and for a little intrigue I added some green peacock blister pearls. 

I can't leave a design alone without an art bead, and my 'simple truths' are just not exotic enough for this exquisite design, so again, I went to the bead tower and came across three: an etched dottie purple lampwork bead from gifted from a friend (but the artist name escapes me), a bronze porcelain bead from Splendid Loon Studios and a teal disk bead from Humblebeads. Then I filled in the blanks with whatever I had lying around. 

Oh, and the back is composed of an embellished hook clasp (the rhinestone ring was a bright shiny silver, too much, so I toned it down by dabbing dark grey alcohol inks all over it), and a deep burgundy silk ribbon that came from Nina Designs, too.

An odd assortment of lush and precious beads and baubles that I think would be fit for an exotic princess featuring mementos and trinkets picked up on an epic journey....... an Opulent Odyssey.

{Opulent Odyssey - click to view larger!}

 Be sure to check out the rest of the entries on Deryn's blog (a most wonder-filled place to find inspiration!).

Your turn...

If you could make an odyssey to another country or a far off or even imaginary land, where would be and why?

The materials above attributed to Nina Designs were provided as part of the Nina Designs blogging program. The author of this blog has not received any payment from the above-mentioned company. The post above represents only personal opinion of the blog author. 

14 October 2011

Inspired by Nature Retreat

My review of my recent trip to Michigan plus assorted pictures in digital slideshows from the weekend can be found on the Art Bead Scene. If you have a few moments and need some natural inspiration to recharge your creative batteries, I hope you will check it out!

Inspired by Nature Retreat

13 October 2011

Same Sea, Separate Shores

"We speak of the same sea...but we stand on separate shores."
~ inspired by the writings of Gwen Frostic

My goal last night was to create 10 things. Pretty conservative since I have no less than 70 'simple truths' all lined up and ready to make their debut, and the only show that I do each year is coming up on Tuesday, October 18th. So 10 things seemed pretty reasonable.

But then I got a phone message about an opportunity that I had to step up to when I understood that it was not due until next week.

And there is the challenge that my unintentional mentor and style guru Deryn Mentock is hosting that is due next week (still time for you to play along!).

Plus there is the blog partner program that I was delighted to be selected for through Nina Designs. (Wait until I show you what they sent me that is so lovely I can't believe they entrusted me with it.)

So I only managed to make 6 things. 60%. I believe that it is a failing grade. But to be fair, at least 3 of the 6 were more complex designs (like the one I did for the Nina Designs/Deryn Mentock challenge. See that! Multi-tasking!) Does that mean they count for twice as much?

I decided to wear one of the creations today. Partly becuase it was so pretty (and who doesn't need a good dose of pretty now and then?), partly because I like to wear-test the more substantial pieces to be sure that nothing is poking where it shouldn't (and it is a good thing, because there is a flaw in this that I need to fix), and partly since I was awoken at the crack of 7:09am this morning by my daughter as both her father and I overslept. But I did make it out the door by 7:33am to race them off to school and me to work.

I have been making a load of 'simple truths' for this show. Each is more different and special than the last. And the 'simple truths' seem to be getting more complicated, or at least I am waxing more poetic. Which I love.

I have a mostly complete set of vintage books by the late author Gwen Frostic. I discovered a tome of charming letterpress designs and beautiful poetic and environmentally sobering text in an antique book store last year. I was instantly charmed. So I did a little research on Miss Frostic. Turns out that she lived in Michigan and spent her life as an environmentalist, naturalist, illustrator and author. She had her own press and each of these books was pressed and bound by hand. That means that if you find multiple copies of her books, each will be different. I know, because the book A Place on Earth is the first one that I bought. And I have another copy. And that one is different. In a world where things tend to get homogenized and 'samed-up' I love that this not only bears the mark of individuality but it is completely hand crafted. So refreshing.

Each page turn is like finding a surprise. The papers are hand made, most with deckle edges (which I love), the colors are soft and sort of sepia, the illustrations are stunning in their simplicity, and the words are profound and lyrical.

{a set of cards featuring things with wings}

When I discovered the Frostic tomes last year there was one that was all about Michigan. My Michigan, I think it was called. I found a seller on eBay who had a complete set of the small books and I saw the value in them. I got a sweet deal. I sent My Michigan to a very dear friend who at the time was pining to be in Michigan (and who recently got her wish!). So that is the only book of the complete set that I lack. But every book I have is personally signed by Gwen Frostic. That makes them even more valuable. They are treasures to me that I turn to again and again and I always find something new. She made more tomes than what I have and I am sorely tempted to see if I can make my set complete. I am so grateful that there has been a continuation of her designs through the website as well as new ones, like mugs and card sets and pillows. I am thinking that this year I would love a Gwen Frostic calendar for my studio. How could you not be inspired by looking at her dreamy prints?

{'simple truth' pendant, Czech glass, silk fiber bead, seashells, beach stones, glass beads}
I have this idea for a new Gallery Q exhibit that would feature the works of Gwen Frostic and jewelry that I created inspired by it. That would require a trip to Benzonia, Michigan to propose a collaboration with the Frostic group. Something for the future possibly.

While I was creating these latest 'simple truths' I was drawn to the colors and natural subjects and words of Gwen Frostic and I was most certainly inspired by my recent trip to Michigan. The shores of Lake Michigan are hardly the sea, but the feeling is certainly the same. I believe that this quote is inspired by her writing, or adapted from the text in one of her books. I am charmed by her aesthetic but also gently nudged in the direction that she was pointing with her life's work. Her words and images are even more poignant today, ten years after her death at 94 (she died one day before her 95th birthday). We all have much to learn about caring for our environment as well as caring for our future.

{we speak of the same sea...but we stand on separate shores}

With the way things are in the world today, I think it is a pretty profound statement. I find that the rhetoric in our society is increasingly about who can yell the loudest over the sound of the rising tide. But when all the bravado is stripped away, and the fancy turn of phrase, and the slick production, I see that we are talking about the same sea. And although we may be on different shores, seeing things a different way, I think that we are closer than we care to admit. After all, we do care about the same sea and we should. Maybe we could stop being concerned about ourselves and our need to be victorious for once and row out to meet the other, navigating the waters and working together to not rock the boat.

Your turn...
What lessons from the sea can you learn? What is most inspiring about the sea to you?


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