Thursday, July 31, 2008

How does your garden grow?

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells and pretty girls all in a row.

Was this a nursery rhyme you used to say as a child. When I found out what contrary meant - I liked it even more, as my sister is called Mary!!!!!

We have a wonderful garden at our home. Some of it was planted by the previous owners but we have done quite alot of new areas ourselves. It is quite the English garden - and by that I mean that there are a lot of plants, all thrown in together - and in no way is it formal! We also have quite a few fruits trees, a little raised bed area for our tomatoes and other vegetables..and relatively new is our arbor above one of our outdoor dining tables. We planted table (ie eating) grapes over it and last year they had some mildew, the previous year some animal (raccoon?) ate them all one night before we had any....but this year, we have a good crop and are enjoying them every day. They are seedless green grapes as opposed to our red merlot wine grapes that we grow. Quite small however..... as we joked last night. We made chicken skewers for dinner and had marinated the chicken and were alternating the chicken with our own grapes on the skewers. My husband was moaning that the grapes were so small - until I pointed out that really, there wasn't alot to complain about! How many people can use their own grapes on their skewered chicken!

Anyhow - my husband does alot of work in the garden and I do very little. The majority however is done by Hector and his crew. We inherited Hector as our gardener when we bought the house - and I'm so glad we did too! He's wonderful - and all his various family members who seem to help him.

Even though I don't spend alot of time working in the garden - I love it! It is so pretty and restful....and looks wonderful year round. We have many roses - hundreds - a big bank of lavendar...a few of our favorite English plants like aubretia...and countless others I could mention.

When I started working with silver clay, I made quite a few different silver flowers....but then I seemed to move on to other things. A few months ago however, I went back to the garden scene and made this watering can. I've often thought of putting some flowers in it - but then revert back to it just being a watering can. It is entitled "how does your garden grow?" and I think the answer to the question is really Hector! Thanks Hector for all you do!

I think it's a lovely necklace for a keen gardener - little details like the holes in the rose spout, the little "screws" on the handle. You can wear the chain either through the top handle or the one on the side. And when you are not wearing it, you can take the chain out -and it's a little decoration!

So how does your garden grow? What is your secret? Let us all know........

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Triangular tower

Well it may not seem like a good starting point...but the inspiration for this piece came from the brickwork texture! The texture came from a hobby railway set of a small building and so I made my own brick texture plate with it, from two part silicone rubber. I didn't want to just make a house with this lovely texture - so this "olde" castle idea came to mind. The triangular part just appeared as I was troubled how a square tower would sit/hang properly. So I made a support from a card and wrapped some silverclay around it. Then I added the textured layer.

I love the idea of little ramparts... I think every castle tower should have them to shoot those arrows out of.....But then sometimes castles seem a little scary so I made the door partially open so that it would look inviting...make the viewer want to peer inside and "enter". I put the bail on the back to hang the chain from....but then the idea of winding stairs up to the top of the tower, to the ramparts...has that sense of I decided to add something just for the wearer that others wouldn't see.
I added a cobalt blue stone in the top - so when the wearer looks down - they see this gorgeous colour. Also when outside, the light hits the blue stone and casts a general blueness to the inside of the tower, like there is a light on inside...
(I have this idea to create a piece with an actual light inside ....but that is a work in progress....)
So the wearer has their own secret that they can choose to share or not.

I've actually done a few castle pieces....from 'talking towers', which were round tower earrings that seemed to be saying something to each other, to 'Rapunzel's towers', to 'An Englishman's home is his castle', to 'Tuscan towers' to 'Home sweet home'.. The idea of architecture really interests me. And it was piqued even more when I recently read the book by Ken Follett "Pillars of the earth" - but that inspired another piece of jewelry which I'll relay another day.....

The pictures of the castle here are Castello di Amorosa - a new winery that has recently opened in Napa Valley. The owner spent $36million creating this castle - which he doesn't even live in! It makes me laugh. It is a brand new castle but he spent such attention to detail to make it look like an authentic old castle. Its amazing. You just have to love it! There are three storeys below ground for the wine to "live" in and three storeys above ground to "play" in. Alot of events are held here and the owner likes to be the "king of the castle"!!! A fun place to visit if you are in the area....
Anyhow - hope your home is your castle..... and is full of surprises!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The spirit of treehouses

So what do treehouses mean to you? What does the idea of a tree house stir within you? For me, it is recapturing some childhood dreams, something whimsical, something that makes you smile....a place for magic to happen escape from the rest of the world....a place to dream...a place to create...a place of peace.....a place of fun!

Everything happy!

And a little while ago, we were thinking of building a tree house as my studio. We had Pete Nelson - a tree house designer and author of this book shown above - come and look at our property and think about the feasibility etc. The trees he considered most suitable were a stand of redwood trees down my the creek. They are actually high up from the creek and look down to the water. Seemed scary to me.....

But I could just imagine having my own little space.....I already thought I'd call it "magpie's nest" - as magpie's like to have shiny things in their nest - ie in my case, a home with silver!! We went through some design ideas.....and I just loved the thought...we'd have a rope style bridge = aka a jungle get to it.....we'd have a little porch so my husband could join me for cocktail hour...I'd have a day bed in lie and browse through my books.....

Oh, it seemed great - but then the practicalities came into the how far it was from the house.....the neighbours.....the amount the trees swayed in the wind (- Ahhh!)......the fact that another stand of redwoods we had by the creek recently fell into the creek......

After much umming and ahhing, we have decided that we won't build me a treehouse as a studio. It is the right decision and maybe one day we will one somewhere else - but it just didn't quite feel right in the end! I think maybe looking at another tree, not so near to the creek would give us a little more comfort feel......I feel there is a treehouse in me somewhere..and maybe someday I'll have one...but to commemorate my happy dreams and the feelings that treehouses create in me - I made a pair of treehouse earrings.

I made them by starting with a textured rectangular background. I then cut out some silver in the tree shape and cut a little window/roof motif into that. I joined the trees to the background and then placed the windows in, and cut out the ladder! Little stylized treehouse - to suggest playfulness, happiness, whimsy, escapism! All in fine silver.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bronzclay Update

So I got to spend a bit more time on my bronzclay pieces from the workshop today.

This first one, entitled "Comfort me", was the very first piece I made with the clay. It is a slightly domed circle. I used a tearaway texture for this piece and the script on the circle is from the 23rd Psalm - it includes:
and though I walk in the "shadow" of death, I will "fear no evil"...."rod and your staff"....."comfort me". On the front of the circle is a separate quotation, lengthwise - which says "comfort me".

The bronzclay was fired in coconut carbon for a total length of 9 hours. I love the colours this gave - this soft golden - tones really nicely with "flesh" - and looks great with blonde hair! To finish the piece I brushed it and then highlighted the text to make it more legible.

My second piece is Quentin Quail. He is my latest desk buddy! He will be sitting at my desk, with Mac (my computer) and my other little friends (Robin and Ding...maybe I'll introduce you to them later!). His basic shape I create by hand, adding the wings as separate pieces of clay. I tried some carving on Quentin - adding details to his wings and feathery texture to his chest. The biggest challenge with Quentin was that I tried to combine fine silver wire into his topknot and his legs, with then adding shoes. When you use silver clay, the clay shrinks and grabs hold of the wire strongly. It seems that the bronze is holding on tightly to the silver in Quentin's topknot - but not on his shoes. His legs are secure and his shoes don't fall off - but they do twist....Maybe he is just a dancing quail!! I finished him off by sanding him but I'm waiting for a new polisher to arrive in the mail and then I'll shine Quentin up even more...but for now, he is a nice little desk buddy. He is about an inch tall.

And thirdly I made a bronze flower. I shape the flower by hand, first forming it into a pyramid, then using scissors to cut the petals and then shaping them by hand. Hanging from the flower, to suggest the stamens, is a small bead. I have ordered some bronze cable to make this into a necklace as the gold cable seen here isn't quite the colour - but you get the idea. The photo seems a little glarey as well..... Surprisingly, the flower was the piece I made that didn't have any cracking problems during it's creation. Not sure why - but the other pieces needed quite a bit time to fill the cracks during their construction.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My family and other animals

A few months ago in the spring, we went back to England to see our family. We go back twice a year and spend a couple of weeks catching up with everyone. On this last trip we met up with my sister and her family at her new holiday home at Windrush - Heronslake (be sure the check out her website as I built it!!!). Anyhow, the first evening there we went to the local brasserie with my two nephews, Matthew and Peter.....and so this charm bracelet came about.

I had had the idea of making some silver animals - whimsical animals but wanted them to all have individual names. I'd begun naming a few - but then mentioned it to my nephews and sister as we were sitting over dinner - and the rest of the evening was then taken over with coming up with animal names for all these different animals. I think I could spend a year making animals and I would still not use up the names.

We decided on two names per animal species so that if they were earrings, each would have a different name.

I think the first name that came up was Matt the sheep and Ted and sheep - ie in wool???....
Now I'm not going to explain all of them to you - you have to read it and figure it out...... My eldest nephew is Matt - or Matthew - and so after all the naming, and creating the animals, this bracelet became "my family and other animals"!!!!

So - the names - we have:
Matt and Ted the sheep
Curdle and Cud the cows
Trotter and Truffle the pigs
Wattle and Comb the chickens
Welsh the rabbit and his friend Jack (ever had Welsh rarebit?)

and the not on the bracelet...and in many cases not even created yet....we have:

Ebony and Ivory the zebras
Mozzarrella the mouse
Greg and Gruff the goats
Bill and Trill the birds
Claude and Claudia the cats
Dig and Doug the dogs
Pete and Pilchard the penguins (Peter is my nephew!)
Cliff and Bob the seagulls
Gulp and Fin the goldfish (Fin is my brother in law!)
Over and Fore the bears (not my nephews contribution as you can imagine - but their dad!!)
Lionel and Lilly the lambs
Eg and Bert the chickens
Ee and Ore the donkeys
Spike and Needle the hedgehogs
Clip and Clop the horses
Giddy and Up the horses
Crispy and Peking the ducks
Tad and Pole the frogs
Incy and Wincy the spiders

You can tell that we have amusing times when we get together! I have yet to make Peter the penguin - but I was drawing him out he will be the next creation I think. I've sold Matt the sheep, and Matt and Ted the earrings...and Mozzarrella the mouse. And not forgetting of course, Quentin and Queenie the Quails...!!!

Do feel free to offer up more naming opportunities for animals... I'm sure there are plenty more out there....and all I need is more silver... or maybe there are some bronze animals waiting to come out in the new bronzclay????

Monday, July 21, 2008

Duncan duck's bathtub

Rubber ducks! How happy they make the bathtub. And if you've ever visiting our home, you will know that we have a fair few rubber duckies. Our guest bathroom is bedecked in ducks of different styles and shapes, from duck soaps to duck towels, to duck shower curtains to genuine rubber ducks! And yet, nowadays, how often do people sit in a bath? When was the last time you had a bath and not a shower?

It seems that in England, people take baths more often - preferring it to a shower????? Or maybe it's just that they have never got around to putting a shower in their bathroom so only have a bath? And yes, a shower is efficient, quick, a great wake you up, makes you feel good.......but a total different animal than a bath....where you can relax, unwind, listen to some soothing music...

We have a bathtub outside. These two photos are it - well - the taps at least! When we moved here we thought about having a hot tub outside etc etc, but they never looked very nice and didn't seem to go with the house and we found this French bathtub instead. It's made of zinc and copper. A beautiful tub. It's plumbed into the guest house hot water system - so always ready to be filled.
We always use it on special first thing on Christmas day we go it - rain or shine or cold.....and have a glass of champagne....or birthday breakfast time - again with champagne. It's such a nice thing to sit outside and here the birds, or watch the bats fly over head...or have cold drips of rain water from the oak tree trickle down your back :-~ And sometimes a rubber duck joins us!

So I recently created a rubber duck necklace and earrings set. Duncan duck's bathtub! It comprises a claw foot bathtub made hand formed in fine silver and sitting in the tub, taking a dunk, is Duncan the duck! The "water" is actually resin. To go with the bathtub, there are earrings of Duncan duck and Dippy duck, hanging on ear chains so they bob around, like ducks!!

So what does the necklace conjur up? Somehow, I don't think it is that relaxing, unwinding long soak in a bath - rather that more playful time when you had toys in the water too! Little ducks and squirty plastic things...when you were a kid - or maybe even as an adult.

I remember a hotel we went to recently where they supplied a rubber duck. We played with him alot in the hot tub - spinning him around in the jets.

So I hope you like Duncan and Dippy and that they remind you of playful times!He's just been sold and will be travelling shortly over to Germany. Hopefully Duncan won't lose too much bathwater on the way! I know he'll have a great time when he gets there.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


It's busy here! Lots of lectures and seminars and friends to have fun with - so no time to blog I'm afraid. I come home Sunday night - so I'll share some more stories then....and hopefully get around to finishing some bronzclay pieces off too. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BronzClay II

I had another great day 'playing' with the bronzclay. It was fascinating to see all our pieces come out of the kiln after 9 hours of firing. They were fired with 2 different types of carbon (the pieces are buried in carbon to block oxygen from the firing)- and each one gave differing results in terms of the patina it created on the pieces. My photograph of my pieces - still components - came out worst than yesterday's on my phone - but I'll attach a small one to show the variations:
You'll see that the two circular pieces in the middle are quite different in colour and have dark greens and blues in them - with polished high points showing up in golds (maybe you can't see - but take my word for it!!). They are leaves on one circle and flowers on another and will become day. They were fired in the carbon derived from coal and it tends to give the darker colors. The other pieces (apart from the tiny I-don't-know-what at the bottom) - were all fired in carbon from coconut shells. It gives a lovely golden finish.
My birds and more sculptural pieces are firing tonight - and its a mystery to know how they will turn out. There were some surprises today - mostly pleasant - amongst everyone's pieces -and the favorite being some bells and "ringing" pieces! I tried a little noughts and crosses game today, some hand cymbals/chimes...and lots of other little things...can't even remember them all.... Tomorrow we'll pick them up - but won't be able to finish them off and polish them until I get home.

Looking forward to the start of the conference tomorrow.....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

BronzClay (Trademark) - or Bronze Clay

So I flew to Chicago yesterday then rented a car - ( why do they always want to give you a minvan when you order a compact??????!!!!!) and drove to Purdue university - West Lafayette in Indiana where I will be for the week for a conference and workshop. This morning I got up at the equivalent of 5am California time and it did not feel good! Anyhow - went to my first day of a two day workshop with Celie Fago - using the brand new product BronzClay. It is just being launched this week here at the conference. It is like the silver clay that I use for my creations - but obviously, is bronze! Only a handful people have ever used it and they were the testers......but it seems that we are really testers too. There aren't answers to the many questions we have - it is new stuff and we need to try and see if something works. Obviously, the testers have come along way and it was really helpful to hear from Celie about her experiments and see her beautiful results. Very inspiring.

Bronzclay is 11% tin and 89% copper along with water and binding materials. And we had a whole day to play with it. Here is a photo of some of things I made - pre-firing and finishing.
Apologies for the photo quality - but I only had my phone with me. Anyhow - you will see some flatter pieces, some curved pieces and some more sculptural pieces (yes, a Bronze version of Quentin sneaked in....if he works out). One of the biggest differences between Bronzclay and silver clay is that when you fire it, you need to deprive it of oxygen. All pieces are therefore fired in activated carbon in the kiln. The whole firing process takes about 9 hours - and so the pieces above are "cooking" as I type.

Here is a photo of the pieces created by the class and just going into their stainless steel container with the carbon.
As bronze is cheaper than silver - alot of us wanted to work larger than normal - without that fear of "wasting" money if it didn't turn out well that goes along with using silver. To that end - Quentin quail in bronze today may be too large to fully sinter in the kiln....but you don't know until you try.

There are two types of activated carbon you can use and depending on which you use, you get different patinas. And I think it is the patinas which are going to make this such a popular product - not only for the artist but for the buyer as well...the lovely green and blues and golds......Hopefully I'll get photos tomorrow to share with you.

Its just great to be at the forefront of new products. I have a whole day to play again tomorrow - so fingers crossed that some of our experiments have worked! We'll learn from them, whatever happens!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Silver conference

I'm on my way to a "silver" conference in West Lafayette, Indiana! I'll tell more when I get there. Looking forward to it - especially as it is the launch of a new bronze clay that I will get to play with for a couple of lots of other interesting sounding presentations......and I'll get to meet some other silver clay artists.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Quentin Quail and family

Finally I got a photo of Quentin and his new family. Not a great photo as I didn't have my camera - but at least its a few glimpses. Q is very protective - we often see him in the garden - standing on something to give himself a little height to see what is going on - like here on our bench by the pond - and then down below him is Queenie and the babes. Anything gets close to them, and you hear a few squeaks and all the babes run together.

Well this morning, we looked out of the door near our bedroom and all the quails were on the wall....all except Junior that is! As you can see from the photo - there is Quentin and Queenie...and lots of tiny little babies...but Junior is down on the ground.... Junior looked up at all his family as they looked down on him - but he was stuck down there, as he can't yet fly - so he didn't know what to do. Poor little Junior. Now it gets a bit scary - read at your own risk! Queenie took the babes to the back and out of the way so no one else fell off and Junior suddenly ran to the left onto the grass. Gosh - he runs so fast - especially considering his legs are sooooooo tiny. Anyhow, he ran...and Quentin followed him - but still on top of the wall. Then Junior ran back to the right....and then back the other way again.....and so it continued for a while, back and forth. Quentin kept an eye on him and you could hear little squeaks.......but everyone was up on the wall, except Junior.

Junior was getting quite distraught by this stage, so eventually, Quentin jumped down to be with him. "Yeah" for Quentin! At this point, Queenie reappeared with Junior's brothers and sisters and now they all ran along the length of the wall to where it joins the ground. The little guys then all had to jump a short distance to reach the ground and then Quentin lead them up this leaf undergrowth area back to the higher ground. If you look carefully - you can see a few little babes in the undergrowth picture!
Luckily the adventure was now over - all babes were reunited together with Daddy Quentin and Mummy Queenie.

And the question that you are about to ask is many babes are there? Looked like 13 in total!!!

So now we have to come up with 13 new Q names for all these Quentin and Queenie babes.

A few minutes later, Quentin was back in his protective mode - this time sitting on top of one of our solar lamps - keeping an eye on who was around his family.

I know - it's not really a post about jewelry - but Quentin did inspire my original Quentin necklace - see July 2nd post and here too. Send you name ideas in the comments section!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Riding along in my automobile....

So I'm looking to get a new car. I've had mine about 5's out of warranty, and it seems that lots of little things go wrong with it. To be honest, it's probably not lots of little things, but one thing that didn't get resolved for ages......and meant the engine light kept coming on...which was always worrying..... I have now got it mended - but the service I've had is just awful! I've found someone local who was nice and easy to get on with - but they couldn't find what was wrong with it. When I finally found someone who could repair it, they were rude and patronizing and ...just a horrid experience. So...moving on....... Try something new.

So I recently test drove a mini cooper s. It was fun. I liked the drive. Very different from my current car. I was half thinking about the convertible, but I don't like the design. With the roof up, there is such a big expanse of "black" in the back and visibility looks bad through the back window. With the roof down, the roof has nowhere to go? It just hangs out in a mess. So I'm thinking the hardtop. Maybe in a few years they will improve the design of the convertible...

But then you get all these choices! Build your own mini!!! Great idea - but I'm just not used to choosing the design of the dash and trim......never mind what mats I want in it and what about stripes on the front and roof color......It's a great idea - if I ever make up my mind.......And as long as I can stop my husband always going on about the "old" mini he used to drive back in England......Hmmmmmm.

Anyhow - after test driving the mini - I made this little car necklace. I know it doesn't look like a mini - more like a VW bug...but it was meant as a "generic" car - a cute and playful design. That's what I'm looking for in my car.....
My latest thoughts for my mini were to get a yellow one with a white top...and maybe get a large flower decal to go on the door.....but then with the flower, my husband might not want to drive it!!!!

What I'd really like however, is a lime green one.....but it's not a color they can do and it seems a bit silly to get a new car and then respray it. But, as my nephews know - lime green is my favorite color! How cool to drive around in a lime green mini....... Maybe I'll just have to settle with adding some lime green to a car necklace!!!

Anyone out there got good mini stories and ideas for me??

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hair barrettes

It's always been one of my gripes in life how, if I'm going out for an evening, or just somewhere nice, I put on my nice jewelry, then go to clip something in my hair - and the clip is always so basic! It's either plastic or a base metal....and I've adorned my body with precious metal - and cheap looking plastic goes in my hair!

So finally I got around to using some of my silver clay to make some hair "jewelry". Barrettes came to mind and so I've tried a few different designs - the "flowers in my hair" one, pictured above; a more everyday one, like the "village" below; and the "love birds" below - but since starting on these, I have ideas for more elaborate ones with dangly bits as well.

Just making them pretty and with some movement too.... I haven't made any of these more elaborate ones yet.... - but that is what is in my mind! It's a great shape - just a rectangle to work with - you can add what you want for a design and I do attach them to a base metal clip - as it is a secure means of staying in the hair (- and is not visible!). Functional, but now jewelry for the hair!

So, of course, what happens? I went to my hairdressers this week...was a little fed up with my hair and hanging flat - so she cut it! So now I can't wear hair accessories in it any more!!!!

Well I guess we don't always design for ourselves...I mean, I make cufflinks occasionally!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Happy flowers

This is my happy flower necklace and earrings set. It has been an interesting set as I have refinished it several times. I guess therefore, it's story is more of an epic - but I'll keep it brief!!

I first made the piece a year or so ago by shaping the silver and then cutting out the petals and stems. For a while I left it like that - and here's it's photo below:

But it didn't quite do it for me. So I had another idea, I would put polymer clay in the cutouts and give the pieces a little color. I really love color - and working with silver doesn't exactly satisfy my bright color I added some green polymer clay and it took on a more four leaf clover look rather than flowers. I left it like that for a while......(Sorry - no photo I'm afraid.)

But then I didn't like that. The clay looked too heavy and solid for delicate little flowers or leaves, so after a few months, I took the clay out and so now I'm on my third and final (?) rendition! I used a uv resin to fill in the petals and leaves. I decided to have different color flowers for the necklace and earrings. To fill in the resin in a piece with no back - ie cutouts - I had to secure the back carefully first and then color the resin, then cure the resin in uv light. The resultant look is what I was after all the time however - a translucency that reminds me of the delicacy of petals and flowers. When the earrings hang, the light shines through them so nicely with a delicate but definite color to them.
So, some stories start in one direction, go off on a tangent for a while, then end up somewhere else. Now when I look at this necklace and earrings, it makes me happy and makes me think of real flowers....which is why I call the piece "happy flowers"!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Quentin and Queenie babies

Yeah! Quentin and Queenie quail have had babies (see post July 2nd!). Just saw them for the first time today. Couldn't count them all - but it looked like 12 or so........They were running along the path into the lavendar - Quentin leading at the front and Queenie following up at the rear, making sure everyone kept up. I'll keep trying for a photo..... The babes are soooooooo tiny and soooooooo cute.

Need to start thinking of names for them.....All suggestions gratefully received......

Vegetarian bracelet

A couple of months ago, I got into making texture plates. Texture plates are made from silicone rubber or polymer clay and you press a texture in the rubber/clay, let it set and then you can use it on the silver metal clay that I make my jewelry from, to put the texture onto the silver.

I'd tried a few different object...shells, shoe soles, fabric......but then I was in the grocery store one day and all I could see was the textures of the vegetables! I figured it might be fun to make a bracelet out of vegetable textures. Maybe then if you wore it, it would count as you having your 5 veggies a day!!!!

So I set about making the texture plates and hunting out new vegetables, that maybe I didn't eat regularly but that had a good texture! I had hoped that it would be easier to identify the veggies textures once they were in the silver - but I think it's too tricky. A couple are easy I think - the corn on the cob and the frozen peas. Can you see them?

As for the others, I'll list them otherwise we could be here forever!
In the photo above, start from the square with the circle cut out of it as square 1, and the veggies I used are:

Square 1 - brussel sprout (cut surface)
Square 2 - broccoli
Square 3 - celeriac
Square 4 - corn on the cob
Square 5 - avocado (skin)
Square 6 - dried morel mushroom
Square 7 - romanesco cauliflower
Square 8 - frozen peas
Toggle - same as 1 - brussel sprout.

Can be worn by meat eaters too!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Charm swap - Wine time

I've been busy making charms for a charm swap. I'm going to a conference and workshop on the 14th of this month, all about metal clay. Part of the social time of the conference is that, if you choose, you can bring a number of charms, all the same design and then on one evening, there is a social gathering and people exchange charms . I haven't been to one of the conferences before so not really sure how it will all work -but it sounds like fun. Some people have reportedly made 50 charms to swap!!!!! Wow - a bit beyond this first timer's goal I think. Especially as I'm not really a charm bracelet sort of person in the first place. In fact, I think I'm going to put the ones I swap onto a silver bangle instead of bracelet........See how it looks. I've made 20 charms - will be interesting to see what I get in return.

The tricky part was coming up with a design. Simple and quick were two words that came to mind if I was contemplating making 20 of something!!!! But I also wanted it to say something about me so when people see them, then could connect it back to me. I read on the yahoo group that some did charms in the shape of their state, or as a shell if they live by the ocean or.......

After a bit of umming and ahhing - I decided on a wine bottle. We have a small vineyard and grow merlot grapes - selling most of the grapes to a winery, but keeping some for our own wine. I plan on taking a couple of bottles of our wine to share during the conference - so therefore thought maybe the wine bottle would be a reminder for those who get the charm, to connect it to me. I put the B initial on the wine label - as our vineyard is called Birdland Vineyards and also my surname begins with a B......

Hope people like the charms. The photo of them all makes me think of the children's counting song "Ten green bottles"! I'll post some photos of the ones I get in return when I get back from the conference.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Call for artists - and share the creativity

I'd love to hear the stories behind some of the art or craft that you have created and where your ideas came from. They can be simple stories or more meaningful ones - just a way for people to get to know the artist a little better. Please email me with you stories and photos . I look forward to publishing them on this blog.

A study has recently be published by the Northwestern University entitled "The Participation Divide: Content Creation and Sharing in the Digital Age". The research found that men are more likely to share their creativity while online. Men and women were seen as equally like to pursue creative endeavors over the internet, but women were less likely to post their creations.
The researchers concluded a possible reason was a "lack of perceived skill is holding women back from putting their creative content out there"....but there was no clear reason for the discrepancy. So let's make an effort and share that creativity!!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Picnic time!

Happy 4th July! Maybe today is picnic day.....the sun is shining, there are 4th of July parades in the US pack up that picnic basket and find a nice place in the sun to eat lunch...maybe take a bottle of champagne and have an easy day.

I love picnics! Especially since we've moved to California where you can just trust the weather! How many picnics did we have in England where it was freezing cold or drizzly or just miserable. My dad often jokes that all picnics with my sister mean that the weather will be bad! But we would try - sitting there shivering and pretend to be enjoying our outdoor meal!

But maybe you need to choose your location carefully. Because if you go down to the woods today........

you maybe have to watch out for the teddy bears' picnic! Teddy bear earrings and a little teddy bear on a picnic blanket with a slice of cake, cup and bowl of fruit!! I made this set for my friend Janet. The teddy bears' picnic story has always been one of her favorites and she shared it with her daughters and son and now shares it with her grandchildren. The grandchildren's bedroom in her house is decorated around the teddy bears' picnic theme with a gorgeous mural painted on the walls. It looks just wonderful and now she gets to wear her teddy bears' picnic too.

The other picnic basket is hollow formed in fine silver and supplied on an interchangeable charm necklace, so when picnic time is over, you can take it off and add another charm or pendant instead. This is available for sale here.

Anyhow - hope you have a good 4th July - and find time for a picnic.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I'm a little teapot

I'm a little teapot, short and stout
Here's my handle, here's my spout
When I hear the teacups, hear my shout,
"Tip me up and pour me out!"

Do you remember the little teapot children's rhyme? Did you used to do the actions? One hand on your hip for the handle and one hand raised for the spout? Or is it only an English thing?

Yes, tea still has a great association with England, even though everyone seems to drink it all over the world. Well, not quite everyone. I hate tea. Ugh! Can't stand it - even the smell of it. And I'm English. I think really that was the reason I had to leave England and move to the US. The tea association was just too much for me. So I move to the US and think I'm saved from all those tea drinkers......but then I find new friends invite me around to their house -and they think "ah - the English - I'll get some tea in for her and make her a nice pot/cup". Ugh!! So yes, when I first moved here, it was like I was haunted by my English tea phobia!!!! Everywhere I went, someone made me a nice cup of tea!!! Out of politeness I did try to drink some of them - but then couldn't do it!

So, it seemed fitting that as I can't escape tea, I had to make a teapot! I've made a couple of versions/sizes of this and the design has just been accepted into the finals of a design competition here in the US! So fingers crossed!

The small version of the teapot is currently available for sale here in Euros and here in dollars.

Anyhow - to all you tea drinkers out there - enjoy!!!! And to the rest of us - put the coffee on!