Thursday, December 31, 2009

In terra pax...

My wishes go out to you all for a happy and healthy 2010. Enjoy your celebrations.

And as this necklace says - "In terra pax" - "On earth, peace."
The music is from Handel's Gloria.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry Go Round - These are a few of my favourite things

It's time for another ride on the merry-go-round! Jump on and join a group of 9 artists/crafts-women as they link around the world and tell you a little about their lives in art and craft.

This month's topic for discussion is: "These are a few of my favourite things"
...yes like the song from the Sound of Music: "raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens"....its a chance to look back at what we've created this year and see which are our favourites.

The favourite piece I created this year was my "Be as a bird" bracelet, depicting the Victor Hugo poem. The sad part of it is that I never sold this piece. I sold quite a few other bracelets of similar designs, but not this poem one. I made one for myself and I wear it everyday. I just love it - but for whatever reason, it's not appealed to anyone else enough for them to buy it.....but it doesn't make me like it any less! And it's quite an ambassador for my jewelry as I always wear it so show it to a lot of people!

Now the fun part! I want to show you some of my favourite things created by the other merry go rounders.

First Fabienne. One choice is easy! She made a ring of a merry go round! And now it's mine ;=D Thanks Fabienne. Take a look - it's wild!!..and the horses even twirl!

My other favorite is this beautiful amethyst pendant - it shows off the beauty and intricacy of her work, and the lovely colour combinations.

Wendren: I just love her little bird pouches. She has them in many different fabrics and they are just so sweet.

Here are two pieces each from Sara and Jenny:

I just love Sara's sheep and little flowers and the freshness of the green bags by Jenny really catches my eye.

Here's one of Charlotte's beautiful adorned textile jewelry pieces:

Just wonderful colour combinations...such richness...

And Marian who seems to be able to turn her hand at everything! Here is a corsage in felt and one of my favorite paintings of hers:

And here is a ring made from metal clay by Agathe! This was her first attempt at metal clay and I love the little salamander. Hopefully she'll get around to making more things in metal clay next year. Also, two gorgeous laptop covers from Lily - the owl one I have on my laptop and the hummingbird one is so delicate and pretty - just like the birds.

So I wonder what we'll all be up to in 2010? What new directions will we take? What new skills will we learn???? You'll just have to keep coming back to our merry blogs to find out! Yes, we normally post on the last Friday of the month, but as that is New Year's Day, we decided to post a little earlier this week.

I hope you'll check on the links below and see everyone else's favourites. Charlotte is busy moving house and business so can't post this month - but I keep her link there, as it's always great to check out her blog!

Fabienne at Easterya
Wendren at Wren
Sara at Sara's Texture Crafts
Marian at Florcita
Agathe at Le Bar du Vent
Charlotte at FancyPicnic
Lily Pang at Lily Pang Art
Jenny at Jenny Karlsson design

Monday, December 28, 2009

Heading out

Heading out today....going back to England for a couple of weeks to see the family.

Hopefully the airport and flight will be OK - but we are allowing plenty of extra time for check-in etc.

I'll still be blogging - and maybe Quentin will too, as he's coming along! Tomorrow is our Merry Go Round post (Tuesday instead of Friday as Friday is New Year) - so hope you'll come back and read that.

The two pieces shown - the plane and car - are early pieces I made, soon after I started working with metal clay!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday's spotlight - Dancing Santas but not around our Christmas Tree

By guest blogger Pete.

In last week's blog I wrote to you about our adventures with the real Christmas tree that I had been entrusted to obtain. However, last week's episode wasn't the complete picture because, as everyone knows, Christmas trees, real or artificial, need decorations and lights. We do have some but these have been used for years to beautify the artificial tree we erect in the lounge. It must be something like ten years since we last bought those lights for the artificial tree (and a very realistic artificial one it is) and no mean achievement that they're still lighting on demand.

The best place to buy Christmas tree lights in Lincoln is from a large D.I.Y. store on the outskirts of the city. Thus it was to this D.I.Y. Nirvana that Pam and I set off. Upon arrival we were met by an astonishing array of tree lights for outdoor use, indoor use and for both outdoor and indoor use. Now this visit took place some 3 weeks of so before Christmas so imagine our surprise when we found that the store has sold out of a large proportion of their lights, even some of those on display, Talk about "whetting the appetite"! However, the good news was that the remaining lights had been reduced by 50% so, consoling ourselves with this information, we bought two sets of lights from the real tree.

Christmas decorations and ornaments of the non lighting up variety were in abundance in this store. I soon had all the Fr Christmases "ho, ho, hoing", the reindeer rocking to jazzed up Christmas carols and assorted other animals doing various things. Well, there was a little sticker on them inviting me to "press here"! Every one of these ornaments had the common feature of a Christmas carol but here they were all different and playing at differing times so by the time we had some dancing Santas doing their stuff on the store floor we'd gathered quite an appreciative audience around us. The staff at "B & Q" - the D.I.Y. store in question - were most understanding about the eccentric behaviour of this elderly customer and even seemed to enjoy the fun.

The school children came to church, just before the end of their term, for the annual Christingle Service. For those unfamiliar with the Christingle idea, the children collect money for "The Children's Society" and, in return, they're given a Christingle. Now a Christingle is an orange with a candle stuck into the top. There is a red band around the middle of the orange and wooden tooth picks with sultanas, raisins and sweets on them, stuck into that orange. The orange represents the world and the candle the light that Christ brings into that world. The red band is for the blood of Christ shed for us and the goodies on the tooth picks are for the fruits of the earth given to us by God. The usual (dangerous sometimes) custom is that the candles are lit but with such young children it was thought best to light only the candles for the 6th year children, which a teacher, with a lot of puff, blew out after each child had walked about ten yards to where she was standing. Every child, however, was given a Christingle. It was a very happy occasion for everyone there.

The photos this week are of computer paintings. Hope you enjoy them.

Remember the Christmas season goes on until January 6th so keep on celebrating Christ's birth.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

All I want for Christmas

The lovely Lori got another treasury entitled "All I want for Christmas - a few luxuries" that features my "be as a bird" bracelet.

All the other pieces are made by the Etsy Metal Clay Team too. Click on the photo to see larger pictures.

The poem by Victor Hugo that is depicted on my bracelet is:

Be as a bird,
who when pausing in flight,
alights on a bough too slight
yet continues to sing
knowing she hath wings.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all - from:

...Harold, Quentin and me!

As you can see, Harold doesn't like sharing his cage with other birds - not even little Q!

We woke up to a "white" Christmas as there was a heavy frost:

Poor birdies had a chilly bath - but luckily ours was warmer!

We've had a lovely day - and hope you have too. Here's Quentin by the Xmas tree, after opening all his pressies!:

And Harold did his own rendition of "We wish you a merry Christmas" which some lucky people got to hear! He was so full of himself after singing!

Take care and enjoy those special people in your life.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas delights - White Christmas

Here is my all time favorite Christmas Youtube song - the best Christmas singing ever! Those lips on the reindeer...the dancing....the soloist...!

No apologies that I put this on my blog last year - it's worth watching and listening to every year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sam the song sparrow

As I was talking to my nephew on the phone the other day, he mentioned he had seen Wallace the woodpecker on my facebook I told him I had a song sparrow to add too...but didn't have a name for Peter came up with "Sam" - so here is Sam the song sparrow.

Many sparrows don't get much attention as they are a little drab in color... but on close inspection, they do have lovely markings and they sing with such a sweet voice. Here's a little sample:

Winter come gently....

The lovely Lori from Moda di Magno just created a treasury of wintery work by the Etsy Metal Clay Team entitled "winter come gently". She included my little "cold hands, warm heart" penguin.

Thanks Lori. Such a pretty collection. So happy to be part of this team.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Come rain or shine...

Come rain or shine....I'm gonna love you like nobody's loved you.....

It's taken me a little while to come up with a title for this latest necklace. It shows a little birdie with a flower as her umbrella or parasol - providing shelter from rain or the sun. It's not exactly a wintery piece but I started making an umbrella and then got the idea that a flower would be much nicer for a little bird.....

Anyhow - hope you like my latest bird.....and as I checked on my title I found it was in the lyrics to a song. Here's Bette Midler singing it in "For the boys":

Other titles that had come to mind were:
"singing in the rain"....but then the flower could provide shade on a sunny day too.....
"tiptoe through the tulips"....but it wasn't a tulip!
"raindrops on roses".....but it wasn't a rose!

"If love is shelter, I'm going to walk in the rain"....a quotation, but I didn't quite understand it..

"Petal drops".....a bit too cutesy.

Then driving home today, "Come rain or shine" just popped into my head!

Do you have any better ideas for the name?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Barb the porcupine

I just got a request to make a porcupine ear stud for a guy! Obviously, it couldn't be "cute" and the person didn't want it three dimensional....

So here is Barb - lonesome Barb as it is a single ear stud!

I was actually quite happy to make a porcupine as I love porcupines! When I lived in NH, everytime we went outside, I'd gaze up into the trees looking for them. I also used to volunteer at a Science Center and they kept injured animals who couldn't be released back into the wild. They had a porcupine and she was soooo pretty. As a docent, my favorite prop to take out on the trail to show the kids - and adults - was a giant porcupine quill! It was over 6 foot in length and got some attention! Then I'd show the kids the real quills and let them run their fingers up and down them to feel the tiny barbs on the ends that all run in one direction. This means the quill goes in easily but can't be pulled out because the barbs.

My favorite porcupine story was about this guy who once got a porcupine quill stuck in his leg. It went right in and he couldn't get it out. He didn't have any bad effects and nothing happened for a couple of weeks. Then, as he was a teacher, he was writing on a blackboard one day and his shirt kept getting stuck on something. At the end of class, he went to have a look at what was up with his shirt - and what did he find - but porcupine quill coming out of his arm! The shirt was catching on it as he moved his arm up and down writing! He pulled the quill out painlessly and everything was fine. He had a check up with the doctor and said there was no infection, no damage at all!!! You see, porcupine quills are naturally coated with an antibacterial which is why it didn't bother him - and this coating appears to be in case the porcupines fall and impail themselves with their own quills.

So the moral of the tale is - if you get a porcupine quill in you - don't try and pull it out. That's what will cause the damage and pain because of "Barb" - but have faith and leave it in and it will make it's own way out :=D

Let me know if you try it!!!!!!! And if you live in a place with porcupines...keep looking high in the trees...I never did see one in the wild.....

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday's spotlight - Adventures with a REAL Christmas tree.

By guest blogger Pete.

We decided some time ago - that's, by the way, the "royal WE", the decision being Pam's - that this year we would have a real Christmas tree to go out into the conservatory. Mary, Fin and the two boys are spending Christmas with us this year - great! - and it was thought that the conservatory would make a good quiet room - if you can get into it - and so it was thought that a Christmas tree - real one, of course - would be ideal.

Asda, an offshoot of Wallmart, were selling Christmas trees - real ones too. I discovered this because I quite fancy the "Rizza" coffee that this departmental branch of Asda serves. To be perfectly honest with you I like this coffee so much that whenever I go to get a mug of it whatever assistant is on duty knows, with out any prompting from me, that it's "Regular Black Americano". An added bonus is that after five mugs you get the sixth free. But, I digress.

These particular REAL Christmas trees were being sold ready potted - a distinct advantage. They were advertised as having roots (real roots, of course,) but also added a rider on the notice stating that it was doubtful if these trees would last more than the one Christmas even if planted out. Being an extremely trusting sort of person (something to do with the day job, I think) I took this to mean that Asda were covering their own backs and didn't want lots of folk coming back next year complaining because their real Christmas tree, even though planted out, hadn't survived.

So, in a state of shock when I discover the price was £18 for a three foot REAL tree, I paid my money thinking A) I'll plant this out in the garden after Christmas and I won't have to pay out another £18 (or more) when next Christmas comes around and B) I won't have to go rummaging around in my very cold garage or equally cold shed looking for a pot to put this tree in.

Again, being so trusting, I supposed that Asda would, from time to time, have watered the tree. I don't know why I thought his because the pot was covered - nay, vacuum sealed - in a bright red festive plastic bag that Houdini would have had trouble either getting into or getting out of.

Eventually, I unsealed this bag and discovered: a) the much advertised plastic pot that the real tree was in was also split in four places and thus absolutely useless. Rummage here beginneth. b) We once lived for three years in the Namib Desert so believe me when I say that I know what dry means - at least I thought I did until I had undone that festive bag. I discovered a small supply "earth" surrounding the tap root and wasn't even sure if it was real earth!. It was surrounding that tap root rather than adhering to it. The only difference between this earth and the Namib's sand was the colour (in favour of the Namib sand), Thus our water rates will have shot up by another £18 or so. (Okay, I exaggerate. It will probably be nearer to £15 than £18). The tree has been re potted in a smart unsplit pot and rests in fresh earth and fertiliser. It's now a pampered real tree. We've left it outside and the abundant rain we've had seems to have agreed with it because it's doing quite well - for a real tree, that is!. Next week I'll try and remember to tell you what happened when we went looking for real lights for this real Christmas tree.

I think it was in October of this year that Pam and I went for a week's holiday in the Cotswolds. One day, during that holiday, we went to Bath. I visited the Abbey, where there was a wonderful display of needlework done by a local artist and dedicated to her nephew, Christopher. The only thing that spoiled the exhibition was the careless way in which many of the exhibits were hung. Some had been well stretched and others hadn't been stretched at all. I've included some photos this week, which will show you what I mean and also show something of this woman's skill.

Keep on looking after that artificial Christmas tree and don't fall for any potted real ones.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Delights - It's a dog's life

For all those dog lovers and dog trainers.....and everyone else too - here are some wonderful dogs doing their bit for Christmas. Lovely little video!

Friday, December 18, 2009

US Citizenship Update!

Just got my letter inviting me to the Naturalization Oath Ceremony - which means I'm through and accepted to be a US citizen!!!!

Couple of small down sides however: - the date for the swearing in ceremony is when we are away in England - January 7th!! So I'll have to postpone....hopefully only until February.... . The other downside - but I'm sure it is temporary - is that John didn't get his letter today! Only me!! (Hee, hee :0 ) I'm sure his will come tomorrow..... But as it is through him that we got our green cards in the first place, I can't gloat too much!

Wallace the woodpecker

For the last few weeks as I sit working in my studio, I've had quite an accompaniment. All I hear is this tap, tap, loud it feels like someone's tapping on my head.

I quickly realized it was a woodpecker and on several occasions I went outside to see what he was up to - but he'd fly away, squalking! Then I got smart and I'd sneak out....closing the door really quietly and tip-toeing around the back of the house. Then he'd be startled and squalk really loud and fly away!!!

Despite my sneaking, I'm still not sure what exactly he is pecking at .... We are surrounded by trees but obviously something around the roof line in my little attic studio has got his attention......

It gets a little annoying after a while.....but then I figured maybe he was trying to tell me something...and maybe that something was that he wanted a little bit of attention!

And so, I made a necklace of Wallace the woodpecker. It seemed a little odd in design terms to have a woodpecker pecking at a tile roof, so I showed him pecking at a tree...and maybe he will get the hint!

He looks so like a Wallace.....with that little bit of naughtiness and cuteness.....not that I know any other Wallaces..... Do you have any noisy woodpeckers near you, asking to be sculpted in silver?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Delights - Take a 5 minute's storytime

Take a little break - just 5 minutes. Sit down and listen to this little story. It's less than 5 minutes long, and you'll be glad you took the time. It'll warm your heart and make you feel like you've had 30 minutes instead!

I have a few little Christmas things to share with you.. this is just the first.... And if you have a favorite story or video, do let me know..... Would be good to find some new ones....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Clair de Loon

So if yesterday's blog post didn't get your singing...maybe today's will.

I'd like you to meet Clair. Yes, she is a loon - with her bright eye shining and distinctive square pattern on her feathers.....and thus Clair de Loon!

and yes, you can admit it - it made you smile to have the little play on words from Debussy's "Clair de lune". Go on - press the play button below and listen to a recording of Clair de lune and I guarantee you'll be picturing little loons swimming across the pond :=D

When we lived in NH, I loved hearing the loons singing - what haunting sounds. We'd go out in our canoe and I'd lean over carefully and try to imitate the sound....By having your voice near the water, you could see how they get the resonance that travels across the lake so clearly.....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Silver Swan

OK, so admit it. How many of you started singing when you read the heading of this blog? All those who have ever sung madrigals at one stage or other in their life must have sung "The Silver Swan" by Orlando Gibbons! I remember when living in NH we sang it way too many times. I think I actually liked it when I started out...but quickly overdosed! It's all about a dying swan who sang her last note..... Here are the lyrics:

The silver swan, who living had no note,
When death approach'd, unlock'd her silent throat;
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sung her first and last, and sung no more.
Farewell, all joys; O Death, come close mine eyes;
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.

Well, needless to say, on this occasion the song did not inspire the making of this latest necklace! It was only after I finished it and realized it was a silver swan that I became all melancholy - or depressed!

I made this swan for a friend as a gift for her mother, who loves swans! She obviously doesn't know the madrigal!!! :-D

Here's a good recording of the madrigal if you don't know it....Hmmm.. after years of abstinence, maybe I could actually quite like it again....


It is definitely time for a repose :
Repose : n.
1. The act of resting or the state of being at rest.
2. Freedom from worry; peace of mind.
3. Calmness; tranquility.

My chair necklace "Repose" is in another treasury today - this time by Rossanna Shoshana

Have you had a rest and some calm time today?