Friday, July 31, 2009

July in movies and books

As the last day of the month, it's time to recap on what books and movies I've read/watched this month.

Movies first:

Conspiracy Theory
Cinderella Man
I've loved you so long
Three Blind Mice
7 pounds
Under solen (under the sun)

Well, there were some misses amongst those - for example 3 blind mice. Don't watch it! Waste of time. But my favourite was I've loved you so long. It's in French with subtitles. Kristen Scott Thomas is just beautiful in it. And very slowly, secrets are revealed.... Just a great film.

As for books:

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Senator's Wife by Sue Miller

I enjoyed both of the books. One part early on in The Shanghai Girls was particularly interesting as after leaving Shanghai, the girls were kept on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. We love hiking the Island and had heard some of the history of the island, but this really put it into perspective. I am now reading Peony in Love by the same author as it is our book club book for August. I liked the first part of it, but the second half just isn't doing it for me...I'm ready to quit - and even more inclined to as I won't be here for the bookclub!

But July's book club was The Senator's Wife and I think it gave us one of our best discussions ever. The book seemed a little slow to start with, but it was interesting in our discussions how different we all felt towards the characters. I enjoyed the book - glad to have read it - and fascinating to see different readers perspectives. Great ending to the book - not as you'd imagine.....

So what have you read or watched this month? Any recommendations or suggestions....?

Merry Go Round - Inspiration: pinboards, journals, folders etc

It's time for another ride on the merry-go-round! Jump on and join a group of 10 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 other merry-go-rounders will answer is "What inspires us? - a peak into journals, pinboards, folders or wherever we keep our little snippets of inspiring stuff...

My everyday visual "pinboard" is, in fact, a nest. Well, it is Birdland!

I have this little nest hanging from my ceiling in my studio. The ceiling to start with is very low and you can only stand up in the room right in the middle.....but I hang this nest that is very difficult to avoid and inside go little "trinkets" that I like and make me think of new designs.

Inside there is a kaleidoscope, a yo yo, a couple of birds, frog, horse, flower, car, truck, duck, spinning top, windmill, mannequin...and a few other snippets! I enjoy a little rummage through when I'm looking for inspiration.

I also have a couple of folders and little books that I keep ideas in.

And inside I scribble! Alot of my scribblings are words - quotes or song lyrics or poems or ... Quotes and poems are increasingly inspiring to me lately.... I love collecting quotes as I come across them - the little stack of green cards in the photo is a different quotation on each page...some in different languages too....

And then two books that I have that I find inspire me are:

Hmm. What does this say about me? I guess there isn't the usual "cut this out from a glossy magazine"....But if I am struggling for a new idea ( and thankfully, I don't seem to struggle very often) I suppose it is toys, kids illustrations, and quotes that are great sources of inspiration for me.

I photographed all these items on this little rug that only just fits in my studio. This is where I sit and rummage through my nest, folders, leather books and nursery rhyme books when I'm looking for new ideas! So now you can picture me, sat on the rug, reading nursery rhymes....

Let's go and see what inspires the other merry go rounders in their art. Here are their links:

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
Nikki at Beaded Zen

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Lemon Tree

When we were at the Sonoma Film Festival this spring, one of the movies we watched was entitled "The Lemon Tree". It's all about life in Israel and Palestine and tells the story of conflict between two cultures. The conflict centers around a woman trying to protect her lemon tree grove that has been in her family for generations. It's a good film. I recommend you see it.

Before the movie started, I overheard the people sat behind me say how much they liked the title of the movie. They said they didn't even read what it was about but just felt attracted to the title.

So what does "lemon tree" conjur up for you? For me, I think of a tranquil scene, smelling the perfume that has to be one of the best scents in the whole world......The glossy leaves...the bright yellow fruit....and then the thought of cocktail hour also comes to mind, with a nice slice of lemon in my vodka and tonic.....

We have quite a few lemon trees growing in our garden and we get masses of lemons each year. We have both Eureka and Meyer lemons - both used in different ways, but you can't beat a meyer lemon. It doesn't even make you pull a face when you eat it! Oh, my mouth is watering as I type........

Since hearing the comment at the movie, I decided I'd make a necklace called "the lemon tree" and finished it yesterday. I haven't made one in a while - I did an "oranges and lemons" one before after the nursery rhyme song.....So here is my new lemon tree..... Hope it makes your mouth water, and doesn't make you pull a face!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Home is where the dog is - silver necklace

I've just finished off a couple of new pieces today so thought I'd share the first one with you.

When I was making the "anyone can train a dog" piece last week, I actually made two dogs - so I decided to use the other dog in a new piece - "home is where the dog is"!

Yes, it's like my "home is where the heart is" - but instead of the heart, is the dog!

So for all those dog lovers out there........

Willard Wigan continued

My friend C-G just forwarded on these two additional links about Willard Wigan. The first shows the Obama family micro sculpture and also mentions that his sculptures are made from particles of sand and grains of rice and sugar...

Thanks C-G! Now we all know what he uses, I'm sure we can do it too!!! :-D

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Commissions - VII - Hands

Another commission to show you. This is an anniversary present that I made for a friend that I met at the Chanticleer workshop. He wanted something in bronze that would symbolize the support and energy in their marriage. After discussions back and forth, I made him some hands and have left it open for how they will be worn/used so just put a simple bail on the top.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Micro sculptures - Willard Wigan

As I was driving yesterday, I was listening to NPR and heard the tail end of an interview with Willard Wigan. Ever heard of him?

Well, the interview got me curious. He was talking about these micro sculptures that he creates - sculptures so small that they sit in the eye of a needle....... like his sculpture of Henry VIII and his 6 wives, and his latest of the Obama Family.......all in the eye of a needle... It sounded all a little bizarre and as it was an interview on the radio, it sort of lost a little in the visual side of things!!! He mentioned using eyelashes to move pieces on to the sculptures and how he worked at night as there was less movement and interference from road traffic...and how he held his breath and the such.....

Anyhow, when I got home, I looked Willard up online and sure enough he does create micro sculptures. It doesn't say what material he uses to makes them..., but they are definitely tiny and many of them can only be viewed through a microscope. He lives in England and has recently been awarded an MBE for his contribution to art.....but he's also sparking great interest from scientists - like micro surgeons and nano technology experts....

His story is so sweet....he wasn't very good at school so he'd skip lessons and go back to his shed at home and watch the ants. It seemed they didn't have a home, so he started building little apartments for the ants, then made them little shoes and hats.... and so his micro sculptures began......Some of his current sculptures take 2 - 3 months to complete.....and his work has been described as "the eighth wonder of the world".

Here's a little YouTube video from Blue Peter about him:

He will be touring the USA soon, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston - where his sculptures can be viewed through microscopes!...but still no idea what he makes them out of.... If any of you have a chance to see his work, do let me know about it! Just sounds so different to spend all your time creating something sooooooooo tiny....what patience he must have.....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday's spotlight - International Photo Walk

By guest blogger Pete

For a number of years now, Napp (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) has organised an international photo walk. Why the title has the word "professional" in it I don't know. Members number both professional and amateurs. I was a member until some 2 years ago but left because the members area became swamped with Adobe Lightroom rather than Adobe Photoshop. But if you are interested in photography (and haven't yet done so) you can have a look at what sort of things they get up to by logging onto But I deviate from my first sentence and must return to that.

The photo walk involves that, on a certain day, people from cities, town, villages and hamlets throughout the world go for a walk and take photos. Easy as that! The best photo from each participating group is then sent off to NAPP and the winners of the competition are awarded with some really good prizes.

I belong to a group called "Lincoln Photo Nomads". Membership is open to all and activities are arranged very competently by Richard, who founded what he refers to as "the most unorganised group of photographers ever". However, Lincoln Photo Nomads ended up as the Lincoln representatives for this competition and last Sunday some 40 or so members met together at the "Wig and Mitre" pub before setting out on the walk. The Wig and Mitre" serve a very good and reasonably priced cup of coffee - the pub is situated at the top of Steep Hill (next to Brown's Pie Shop), if you're ever in uphill Lincoln and fancy a coffee.

Anyway, after an initial briefing, we all separate and go our own ways for the photo walk. If we went as a group we fear that all the photographs would be dominated by studies of photographers taking photos of photographers taking photos of photographers taking photos, etc.

It's not easy to be original in your own city. In Lincoln we have many historical and attractive buildings but they've all been photographed by so many folk that's it's difficult to find an angle that hasn't been used before.

This year I made my way to Lincoln Castle. CCs have a reduced entrance fee so an investment of £2.70 seems potentially to be good value. "CCs", by the way, stands for Crabby Crinklies - not that I'm at all crabby and I haven't got a wrinkle or even a "crinkle". It was one of those days when the weather couldn't make up its mind - bright one minute an overcast the next.

I wasn't terribly thrilled with any of my photos so I decided that rather than send them in their original form I would doctor them up a little and see what results. I'll let you know when I'll be off to the States to collect all my prizes!

Lincoln is in chaos at the present moment.It's the height of the tourist season so the city fathers have decided that it's the ideal time to have the main arterial road into the city dug up. What is this essential work that JUST has to be done? Replace pedestrian road crossing lights and add some 25 yards of beige colouring on the asphalt. It took ten days to complete the first one an now we're well into the second. For anyone intending to visit Lincoln then let it be known that the High Street SHOULD be clear and open again by the end of November unless.....................

Keep on trying to get into Lincoln -- surprisingly, it is worth the struggle."

Editor's Note:
Hot off the Press.........Pete just found out that his photo - the first one shown here of Lincoln Cathedral, won the Photo Nomads competition and his photo now goes through to the final in the US! You can see it announced on the Photo Nomads blog here. Well done dad!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sunday Paddle update

I got a lovely message yesterday from M, who commissioned the "sunday paddle" necklace from me - a little boat with a little boy in the front and a little girl in the back. She had asked me to make it for her as she had seen my single person in a kayak necklace and it reminded her of the treasured times when her kids go out together in their boat on the lake.

Her message was just delightful. She said she was "beyond thrilled!" and that she "sat, parked in the middle of the road, and put it on!". Luckily she lives in the country! and... "You have provided me a treasure I will cherish- just like the two little people it symbolizes". And here they are!!!:

Yes, to go with her message, she included some photos of her son and daughter in their boat and views of their lake! It's lovely to feel a part of her story and to share the photos of her family and the lake where they paddle...

So enjoy M's beautiful photos of her treasured kids and the lake.

Thanks again M. It was a treat to make it - and just a joy working with you. Thank you for your lovely feedback. Happy paddling for all your family.

No wonder I always go on about how much I love selling online! I just love being part of stories like this and working with lovely people like M.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Like a garden in your pocket...

"A book is like a garden in your pocket" - isn't that a lovely saying....

I recently used it to design a book mark for a dear friend's birthday. She loves books and words and is a wonderful source of information on literature and many other things....

So when it came to making her something for her birthday, as her skin reacts to wearing silver so jewelry isn't an option, I decided to make her a bookmark.

So I made a "pocket" and then filled it with flowers. Now her book is like two gardens in her pocket!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Commissions - VI - Anyone can train a dog

A buyer from Australia asked if I would make her one of my "anyone can train a dog" lariat necklaces. Here's the latest one:

And here's my original one:

You can see that the dogs are different.....That's just the way they are "born"!

Serious mole/gopher problem or John's putting has deteriorated?

We are having a busy couple of days in the garden this week. While the first photo may suggest that we have a mole problem or John, my husband, is struggling with his golf putting and thus putting in extra large holes in his putting green.......

the real reason is that we are moving some of our olive trees on the property. We have 6 large and old olive trees and two of them are really dwarfing the house...and three are in difficult areas to harvest the olives......And at the same time, we don't have a lot of shade area in the summer in those hot late afternoons.

Currently we have a little knoll with 3 olive trees on it that supplies lovely shade - and so we decided we would move 5 of the other ones to make a similar little "grove" at the other end of the lawn as a means to get more shade and move the trees from where they weren't optimal.

It's quite a job! These big trees are old and valuable, but also have multiple trunks, making them vulnerable for splitting. But the process has been fascinating (if also a bit scary) to watch. The Olive Tree Farm workers have it all down to a fine art - obviously they've done it before!!!!

At the moment, 3 are in place and I think they will finish the moving the remaining 2 today and then tomorrow will plant some small ones in their place.

Roll on that CA sunshine! Now we'll be enjoying it, but in the tranquility of our little olive grove!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Front page of Dawanda! - 2 items!

I kept getting all these lovely comments on Dawanda was wondering what was happening that everyone was finding me...

Took a look at the front page and there was not one, but two of my items featured there. Here's a snapshot!

See the aeroplane necklace - "fly me to the moon" (does anyone use the word aeroplane anymore..I always did in England...?!!) and birdfeeder necklace -"feed the birds"? Funny thing is, the plane isn't even listed for sale! I took it off a while ago.

Nice to get some exposure and comments!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Commissions - V - Sunday Paddle

A lovely customer of mine saw the "anyone can kayak" listing on etsy that had sold and asked if I would make another for her. Instead of having one person in the kayak however, she wanted to have a boy doing the paddling and behind him, a little girl with no paddle.

When she had seen the original necklace it had made her think of the treasured times when she would look out at the lake and see her son and young daughter paddling around..... So I created "Sunday Paddle".

In the first necklace, the kayak was a big of a squeeze for one fitting two people in, I knew would be a challenge!

Anyhow - one paddle, two children and a kayak! What a sweet scene.

Thanks Merrell. Hope you have lots of happy paddling time with your family.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Commissions - IV - Miriam's Castle

I finished another commission today. This was a great project that I really enjoyed.

A customer from Ireland had purchased one of my necklaces depicting a castle. When I sent off her necklace, I noticed her address was Old Tower House so when I next emailed her, I asked if she lived in a tower and that was what had attracted her to the castle necklace.

She explained that she looks out at a tower...and then asked if I could make her a necklace of that. So a couple of photos later and a few emails back and forth, and I started making Miriam's Castle.

Here's the photo she sent me:

And here is my interpretation in the form of the finished necklace:

Making it reminded me of how much I like doing architectural pieces. Miriam asked for a similar style to the previous necklace she had bought, with a touch of whimsy, so I kept it plain, not textured and simple.

It looks like a fascinating building - one I'd like to go and explore...such interesting roof lines and combinations of curves and straight lines.... Wonder how the tower was used?..... Hope Miriam likes her castle...