Saturday, November 29, 2008

Birdies breakfast

I wanted to make a couple of new pieces for my home show tomorrow but didn't have much time after just getting back from England on Tuesday. Anyhow, I have managed a few and wanted to share one of them with you today - as I was pleased with how it came out.

When I was in England, I went up to stay with my parents for a while in Lincoln. They really enjoy watching the birds in their garden and have feeders and skewered fruit and fat balls and a little shelf that they put nuts and other food out on.

When it's breakfast time for us, it is also for the birds there. You can sit and watch this big fat pigeon hoover up a line of peanuts in record time....but I have to admit that a big fat greedy pigeon did not inspire me to make any jewelry. However, their bird feeder did. It invariably had more than one bird on it at a time - or some waiting in the tree ready for their turn at the thistle seeds. So to remember my Lincoln breakfasts, here's my feeder, with four little birds : Birdies Breakfast.
The birdies are very tiny and were tricky to make. Gosh, I even tried making a plastic cocktail stick into a filing stick by wrapping sandpaper around it to get into all the little spaces - but it broke! Talk about fiddly!! But I'm pleased with how it came out. A real nature and bird lovers necklace!

Hope you like it! I'll post my other new pieces next week!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Seasons - Merry-go-round

It's time for another ride on the merry-go-round! Jump on and join a group of artists/crafts-women as they link around the world and tell you a little about their lives in art and craft.

This month's question that myself and 8 other women will answer is seasonal and related to it feeling so wintery - "How do the different seasons and weather affect you in your art and craft?"

The cold and damper months actually make working with metal clay alot easier. It is a product that dries out quickly so in hot dry summer months - "quickly" gets even quicker! The cooler winter means that I don't have to rush to create the first basic shape of anything. I feel I have a couple of minutes to create the form before it starts to dry and crack. I then use a coffee warmer to thoroughly dry it - which I hate to use in the summer as it just heats my studio up even more. Then of course, later in the process, I have to "cook" the silver in a kiln at 1650 degrees F for 2 hours. I have to say that it is too hot to sit in the same room with a kiln on for two hours whether it's summer or winter, so my kiln now lives outside of my studio!!!! So creating with metal clay is much more comfortable in the cooler months.

Apart from the practical side of creating, I don't feel that the seasons affect my actual design significantly. I tend to make flowers, for example, when I feel like it or something inspires me. Doesn't matter if it's summer or snowy. Often they don't sell until it's spring or summer, but I like to go with what comes into my head as an idea - rather than block it as it's the "wrong" time of year.

The seasons do, however, influence the types of pieces I make.

Take lariat style necklaces as an example. I really feel these are fall and winter pieces. They look best when they are worn over a plain jumper/sweater and so are ideal for the colder months of the year. I want to wear these all the time right now..... they catch people's eye against a solid color and add real interest. Personally I've also worn more pins/brooches in the colder months, as I always have one pinned to my jacket or coat. Again, it is adding something pretty to what would otherwise be a plain item of clothing. In spring and summer, clothes are more patterned themselves and so lariats and brooches would tend to get lost or it all look too busy.In the summer, it's more short necklaces - things you can wear with summery clothes. When it's hot you don't want something long - just something that sits nicely at the neckline. I guess I don't really change the style of earrings and bracelets throughout the year....

It'll be interesting to see how others are affected as we all do very different crafts or styles of art. I know I always want to knit and felt in the fall and winter - just adds to that snuggly feeling to be immersed in cozy yarn......Here are the links to read the other artists' blogs and find out about their seasonal effects:

Turkey day video

And for all those American's reading this on Thanksgiving - here is your own special "turkey day" video.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Click here for Mrs Turkey

Birds play tennis

As I enjoyed last week's little bird video, thought I'd share another with you. This one is again by Pixar and was used in England for an advertisement/commercial for a phone. Sorry little birds - both this and the last one are a bit sad.... Hope they don't upset you too much.

Click here: for The Tennis Match

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Home again

I'm home again now. Had a great time in England - really good visits with everyone - but quite exhausting. Home now for a rest!..... but somehow, I don't think so as I have my home show this Sunday at my house!!! Better create a few new pieces before then!!!

Off to my little studio.......

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 launches

A singing friend of mine has just launched her website - which is devoted to providing products to singers so that they can perform in comfort. The items include un-scented toiletries/personal care products, tuning forks, folders, attire and non-bling jewelry.

I have made a set of jewelry for her store - including the songbird "suite", and commissionable jewelry including mens cufflinks that feature your favorite piece of music, and some solfege cufflinks.

She has lots of plans for the future for other ideas for choir members and directors - including check lists and etiquette guidelines and all those things that directors don't seem to want to talk to choir/choral members about.

I wish you lots of luck with your new venture Jo - and thanks so much for including some of my creations!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

For the birds

It's tricky writing my blog regularly while I'm away - especially as it's all the more interesting with photographs and I don't have any new ones.

So we are changing things a little today and I'm linking you to a cute little video - by Pixar. It's a short, entitled "for the birds" and a little bit of light entertainment! We love following Pixar things as John Lasseter - the chief creative office of Pixar, lives in the same village as us.

Hope you enjoy it:

Click here - FOR THE BIRDS

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New birds

Just spent a couple of days up with my parents in Lincolnshire. We had a lovely day yesterday at the seaside at Sutton on Sea. Whenever we go to the coast in CA, we always look for whales and, to be honest, most times we see some......

So I was joking about seeing whales at Sutton and then saw this big black thing come out of the water. It was quite angular, and if it hadn't gone back under, I'd had tried to convince myself that it was a large piece of wood......but it bobbed underneath and then a few minutes later I saw it again, quite a way down the beach. The rest of the family saw something too.... There was a fisherman there so we asked him what it could be and he said there are sometimes seals in the area - but this was much to big to be a seal........

It remains a mystery - although I was going to check the web in case there was this big report about unusual close up whale sightings just off the coast in Lincolnshire.....They do get whales there and a couple of years ago there were a male and female stranded very close to Sutton on Sea.... So who knows...

Also quite a good birdie day (- which is good as I don't have any whale necklaces or earrings!!!!). A saw a kite, some fast running sandpipers, a curlew and a great blue heron...Yes, I'm a little bit better are bird identification that black blobs in the ocean!!!

So for the birdies - I'll show you my latest little bronze bird. Just a simple little bird, quite elegant in shape.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Launch of Nest Marketplace - "Shop to Save the World"

Things have been progressing with Nest, the non-profit organization that I am involved with for Birdland Creations. You may recall that I first mentioned Nest on my Blog Action day post.

They launched their market-place this week. Artists can sell on the online marketplace and select to donate from between 15 to 30% of the sale price to Nest, which then goes to fund microfinancing projects for women artists in developing countries. For sale on the site are also the arts and crafts that have been made by the recipient artists and this is one way that they can repay their loans. The marketplace is at You'll see some of my creations in the jewelry section.

I am also planning a home show when I get back to the US, on Sunday November 30th in the afternoon. On the day of the show, 20% of sales goes to support Nest and their projects. If you are in the area and can come to the show - do let me know and I'll send you directions etc. There'll be wine and nibbles and hopefully time to chat....and if anything like last year - perfect weather so people can linger.....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Busy fingers

I had sort of thought that whilst in England, I would have a break from creating...but I think my fingers have a different idea. Obviously silver work isn't very portable, but I did bring some knitting with me. I've missed knitting lately. I enjoy having a mindless, easy knitting project on the go that I can do while I watch television or am a passenger in the car, but also a project that requires a bit more concentration. But for the last few months, I haven't don't either.

When I was knitting and selling my creations, I'd spend hours clicking those needles and felting, but I wasn't doing so much silver work then. Since I've been doing more silver, I made the decision that my knitting would just be for me. Since I made that decision, I've started two jackets and not finished either of them and also started a wrap/scarf made from stainless steel yarn with a very fine merino. I finished the wrap the night before we flew over - but it needs a little gentle felting. I'm curious to see how it felts with the stainless steel.......

Anyhow, when packing my carry-on bag for the plane, I put in some yarn I bought a few months ago and a new pattern book - and today I finished my project- some fingerless gloves! I knitted for a while on the plane, but then did some more today at my mother-in-law's house, as I sat and chatted to her for a few hours. They are knitted in a silk and cotton - I think - but as I'd wound the yarn before I left, can't quite remember. Anyhow - feels like that.

The photos aren't very good I'm afraid as they were taken on an iphone in the evening without good lighting - but they give you an idea! - long cuffs, frilly bits.....not my usual style of knitting at all - but I quite like them. And as it's quite a bit colder here in England than northern CA, I will no doubt be wearing them for the next couple of weeks!!!!

Now what next for those fingers....maybe I'll be typing my blog in my fingerless gloves if it gets too cold!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

News of the week!

Couple of pieces of good news this past week I wanted to share with you.

Remember my post a little while ago in October about a challenge that Art Jewelry magazine was running to see what you could create with 10g or less of metal clay - well my piece was selected!!! Yeah!!! I used it as a challenge to myself to see how small I could make an "anyone" - and so made the "Anyone can bring me flowers" earrings. They weigh only 6g!

I think Art Jewelry Magazine were selecting 5 or 10 pieces to form the basis of an article of what you can create with only 10g of metal clay. So my little anyones will be famous soon!!!! It'll be great to see them in a magazine - and a magazine that I like and have a subscription too.

The other good news is that my all-year-long-Christmas-necklace is appearing in a video! Yes, this was my competition piece where you had to guess my name for the piece. Well, The Three Wise Men, aka the Sages, will be appearing in a Christmas/Holiday jewelry video! Don't really know much else about it - but when it comes out, I'll put a link here so you can see it. The woman doing the video is the producer and host of "The Jewelry Connection" - An online radio talk show for and about independent jewelry artisans.

So how does a necklace appear in a video?? Do you think it has a speaking part or just a walk on,...maybe an extra in a crowd scene???? :-D heh, heh.......Or maybe as it's the THREE Wise Men, it has three parts - each leaf gets to talk about something - gold, frankincence and myrrh????!!!!

Anyhow - it is so very encouraging when people/peers find my pieces and then want to show and promote them to others. I'm most grateful.

And the winner is........

Yeah! We have a winner!!! The winner of the mixed metals bracelet naming competition is Chui! Congrats sweetie!!! The name chosen was Chrome-o-somes.

Thanks everyone for entering and also for voting!

And Chui, I'll bring your prize over with me.........

By the way, Christine who won the previous competition sent a lovely message about her prize. So glad you like it Christine!!!

For those yet to win - keep trying!!!

Thanks again. It's interesting to hear your suggestions and reasons why.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Men's jewelry

Trying to do a couple of things for the guys.... I know lots of men don't want to wear any jewelry - but some do - so along with my cufflinks, I've created a bangle. Actually, maybe I should call it a cuff - that sounds better than bangle??!!!! It is made from titanium and copper. Just a simple design - just a try to see if it's of interest....

Competition hotting up!!

Looks like Chui is in the lead right now with her name idea of "Chrome-o-somes"......A few hours to go yet....... Pressure is on...... Who will make it till 11.59pm tonight?

It makes me think of horse-racing! Although it's not quite neck and neck yet!!! It may not seem like an obvious connection, but I head back to England tomorrow to Cheltenham - where they have a big race course and next Sunday, we are going to the races - with Chui and family...... So the connection is there!!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vote for the name!

Time to vote for the name of the bracelet. Please see the voting on the right hand side and select which you like best.

Yes, because I can't decide!!!

And if you have a different idea or another, please add it to comments here and I'll put it up for the vote. If you want to read why someone chose the name, see the comments under the Tuesday competition post.

Please vote! Some interesting choices!

Quid pro crow

So, you know how I like a little play on words....and birds...... Well this is my latest. A little Latin phrase with a twist.....and a crow!

Maybe it'll be especially popular with the lawyers out there who spend their time thinking about "quid pro quo".

I made the text by choosing a Latin-styled font on the computer and then making a photopolymer plate of it. The pin part is fashioned in the style of a fibula pin, where the pin part is part of the design. As fibulas were Roman brooches, I thought it fitted in well with the Latin! There is quite a spring on the clasp too - so it's very secure.

Hope you like it!

Competition update.....

Any more entries then? No inspiration for a bracelet name???? I think my favourite so far is Yabadabadoo......... Those "logs" are then either bones or stones or ??????

Come on - be inspired and let me know your thoughts!!!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Competition Tuesday!

I've finished my mixed metal bracelet. It's made with three types of metal clay. Firstly, the usual silver clay, then bronze clay and also copper clay.

The design has a lot of movement as each little
piece can twist around. When the pieces are twisted and not laying flat, it reminds me of jacks - that game we played as kids with little funny shaped pieces and a ball.

I'm thinking that that's what I'll name it - maybe "relaxed jacks". But I'd love to hear if you have a better idea.

So here's where this week's competition comes in. Think of a name for my bracelet.

And please - not mixed metal bracelet! You know what sort of names I normally choose.

My other thought was "indecision day" bracelet. Especially as it is election day today. You can't decide what colour metal to wear for your jewelry today - just one too many decisions, so instead you wear three colours - silver, bronze and copper!!!

So you've had two of my ideas - none of which I really like. Let's hear yours!!! I'll give a prize to the name I select.........

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.....

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap.....

That was the distinctive noise I heard as I walked back to the house from my studio this afternoon. I knew exactly who it was!

I couldn't see him to start with as I was looking up into the trees in our woods, and he was actually quite low down - only about 6 foot up in the tree. I was close to him, but knew he was busy and wouldn't bother with me. So I went inside and got my camera.

His head moves so fast, it's difficult to get a good photo in focus - guess I needed to adjust my camera - but it was pouring down with rain. (Yes, we have rain at last...but that's another story!)

Our arborist just came yesterday to check out the trees. Obviously our friend here thought he should check them out too. Not sure how big he's hoping this hole we get.... I'll have to keep an eye on it.
And if you didn't know, our visitor is Chisel the Pileated woodpecker. The largest of American woodpeckers - they can grow up to 17 inches tall. You can tell it's a male by his little red cheeks - the females have white cheeks! And yes, the pileated woodpecker was the bird that inspired the creation of Woody the Woodpecker!