Saturday, October 31, 2009

October in books and movies

October was a month of lots of movies. Not sure why - but as I'd make my list, it just kept growing.

Here's what I watched this month:

The last house on the left
The soloist
Invention of Lying
Flash of genius
The truth about Charlie
Point Break
Sunshine cleaning
Goodbye Solo
Flowers for Algernon

The sad part is, I can't remember a lot of them, so obviously they weren't great. I think the one I liked best was Derailed with Clive Owen. It's not for the gentle hearted - or squeamish - but a clever little tale.

For books this month I read:

Same kind of different as me
Elegance of the Hedgehog

My favorite was definitely The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I struggled with it to start with and it didn't really interest me until the new man appeared on the scene. Then I just loved it.

Have you read it?

Did you read or see anything good this month that you can recommend?

Theodore Bear

Meet Theodore Bear.

Now a little trivia! Do you know who is responsible for giving the teddy bear his name "Teddy"? It was Theodore Roosevelt. In 1902 he attended a bear hunt in Mississippi and during the hunt wounded a young bear so ordered the mercy killing of the little bear. The Washington Post ran an editorial cartoon that illustrated the event and one version included the bear drawn as a cuddly cub. The cartoon and story became popular and the cartoon bear became a toy for children called the teddy bear!

Thus, this one is named Theodore....

Maybe one day Quentin will be as famous as Teddy? And in fact, I can let you in on a little of the winners of Quentin in my caption competition is drawing a cartoon of him.....So you never know!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Merry go Round - Failure sucks, but instructs

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: Failure sucks: but instructs.

"Failure sucks, but instructs" is a key phrase from Robert Sutton, Professor of Management Sciences and Engineering , Stanford University. He says that the only way to avoid failure is to do nothing - but doing nothing is a form of failure too.

The word "failure" to me seems such a strong word... I try not to think of anything that I do as being a "failure" but rather that it just didn't go as I had hoped.....Maybe that comes from my years as a scientist and numerous experiments didn't go as we had planned. But we did always learn something from them and never progressed to another experiment until we figured out what was going on. The next experiment was then ever better. And in fact, other people's research has shown that people think more deeply and learn more after a failure than a success.....

Or to put it another way:

So in the life of Birdland Creations there are many examples of things not going as I had hoped. I think one of them that I have had to go through a couple of times before I've learned from it however, is that I spend time trying to develop my own little niche in the market through my individual designs, my own branding, but then expect to sell everywhere.....instead of looking to sell in my niche.

I've tried selling on a few different artisan online marketplaces and in some galleries and sometimes it just doesn't work. The audience is just not right...... For example, I tried a couple of artisan websites and got zero or very few sales. Both sites were more what I would call "serious" art. Here I am developing my whimsy niche and I try and sell on a non-whimsy site! It just doesn't work. Same with galleries where there is also the added issue of someone else presenting your work and not you....Often the owner wants to display my creations on "black velvet" as all the other jewelry is set up that way.....but my jewelry is definitely not black velvet style and never aspires to be.....

So I have learned that people go to galleries - online or bricks and mortar, because of the general style of the majority of products. Yes, there may be the occasional casual visitor looking around, but.. My jewelry it not the traditional style, so I need to keep thinking in a non-traditional, and whimsy way to sell it too. I don't need to adapt my jewelry to suit the selling place, as some people advise, I just need to find a new selling place.

And right now, I'm not looking. I am busy with what I have, it's working well and I am enjoying it immensely....But if I ever want to branch out into pastures new, I'll make sure they are pastures where Cher the sheep, Trotter the pig and Quentin Quail will be happy to hang out too!

Hope you'll take time to read what other "merry-ers" have learned from their tricky times by following these links. We are from all over the world so excuse us if some haven't posted due to time differences.

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

Anyone can fall in love.....

I've made a couple of different variations on this piece and here is the latest with a different style "heart". It shows little "anyone" falling through the heart - and thus "anyone can fall in love".

There have been lovely stories from people who have bought this necklace in the past....from "anyone" being the messenger for a guy who didn't quite have the courage to tell his girlfriend he was in a good luck charm for someone looking for I wonder what the next story will be.....hope they tell me......

The other thing you should notice is that it is a lariat style necklace. And of course, autumn and winter are THE seasons for wearing lariats. They are just perfect over if you don't have a lariat yet....maybe you'll fall in love with anyone..... I'm sure it will be reciprocated...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shy new friend...

A little sneak preview....

Wanted to introduce you to my new friend...but he's a little shy. He's just come out of the ocean, cold and wet, so staying wrapped up in his towel for now....but maybe when his brother and sister come along, he'll feel braver....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blue eyes - ladies cufflinks

My latest ladies' cufflinks - my little birdies with bright blue eyes.

The eyes are lab created spinel cabachons, in a nice light blue shade.... .Makes you want to sing Frank Sinatra or Elton John or ...who was it who wrote "don't it make my brown eyes blue"?

I see Talbots have just come out with new cuff shirts......I tell you - you'll be needing cufflinks sooner than you thought!

And yes - guys can wear them too - especially delightful for bird watchers/twitchers ...or maybe even twitters?????

PS Yes, I have blue eyes. What color are yours?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dandy, Quentin Crisp

I just finished making some charms for a commission that will all hang together on a charm was Dandy Lion, another was Quentin Quail and the third was a warbler bird.... Hmm. Somehow "warbler" didn't seem like an adequate name compared to Quentin and Dandy. What name could match up to Quentin and Dandy I wondered?.... I was stuck.....

So I decided to get the help of Google and put in "Quentin, Dandy" in the search box...and it came back with this article all about how Quentin Crisp was a Dandy style icon. So voila! My warbler charm is now called Crisp. Crisp the Warbler - what a clear voice he has! And now the bracelet is Dandy, Quentin & Crisp!

If you haven't heard of the original dandy, Quentin Crisp - he was British and here's his photo - looking very dandy and here's the link to an article about him.

He was celebrated in a film "An Englishman in New York" and Sting also wrote a song about him with the same title! Check out the youtube and you'll see Quentin!

Dandy is definitely a good word for him!

See what you learn when you try to find names for your creations?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday's spotlight - Winter returning

By guest blogger Pete

Winter is scheduled to return this coming week end - in fact the week end that you'll be reading this blog. Autumn in the UK seems to be the shortest of all the seasons. The clocks go back an hour on Sunday and that shortens the days quite rapidly. I know that each day still contains 24 hours but when it starts getting dark an hour earlier in the afternoon, when curtains are drawn, lights switched on and Halloween callers start practising for their big night - well, you reach for your warmer clothes and have a look to see what's on T.V. that evening.

The weather has been good this autumn. By now I am usually fully engaged picking up the dead leaves from our magnolia tree in the garden. Magnolias seem to produce far more leaves than any other tree when their size is also taken into consideration. I think ours' was supposed to grow to a maximum height of 8 foot but someone forgot to tell the tree that. Even though we looped quite a bit off the top a couple of years ago it now stand at about 12 foot, That's a lot of leaves! About ten have fallen so far so there are still a few more to go.

I mentioned in last week's blog that Pam and I had been to Bath. Soon after we arrived we set off in search of a cup of coffee - one of life's little essentials -, which we found in one of the churches in that city. Pam began talking to one of the volunteers there - if you know my wife than that will not surprise you in the least - and during their conversation it was discovered that she was from our home city of Southampton. Now the co-incidence didn't end there. She had also been a pupil at the same school as Pam. Mutual acquaintances were reminisced over and, eventually, the lady volunteer returned to her voluntering. Small world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've included an update of my latest painting above. Couldn't quite get it finished in time but I'm reasonably satisfied with it. Should sell well - when I'm dead!!!!! Hope you like it. Here's the new one I've just started:

Keep on volunteering - you meet some unexpected folk that way.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Birds with Words

As well as the bracelets that I have done in my new "Birds with words" series, like the "Bluebird of happiness", "Be as a bird", and "A little bird told me"...I've also done some as simple little necklaces.

Here's "watch the birdie" - a sweet gift for photographers or bird watchers!

Any of this series can be hung on bracelets, bangles or chains as necklaces..... and maybe I should try them as earrings with the word tag in one ear and the bird in another? What do you think?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Everlasting flowers

One of the things I love about where I live is the many flowers we have in our garden. If I want flowers in the house, I just go outside and pick a few. It is rare that there isn't something I can just pick to brighten up the indoors. But sometimes in winter, the garden is bare of color.... Then, if I'm lucky, my husband might buy me some flowers. His favorites always seem to be ones that last a long time :-) Can't imagine why?? The all time favorite has to be Proteas which we buy around Christmas time. They last years as gradually they start to dry and don't deteriorate... and voila - no need to buy any more flowers!!!

I wonder if this is the situation in Cindy's she recently commissioned me to make her a little bunch of flowers. Of course, being silver, they will be everlasting flowers! ( Shhh..just don't tell my husband - he'll get me making my own, instead of buying me the occasional bunch of long-lasting ones!)

Hope you like your flowers Cindy......they'll look good sitting near Doug the Dog, Cher the Sheep, Dandy the Lion...Yes, it's that Cindy! The one that comes up with fun ideas for commissions like her desk buddy animals. Just you wait 'til you hear the latest thing Cindy has commissioned me to make her! Flowers, lions and the such are nothing!!! Not sure I can do it yet...but we'll see...

In the meantime, enjoy your everlasting flowers Cindy.

Ever felt out of control of even your own body?

Take a look at this! Oh dear. Poor confused dog. He is not having a good day. Even his own leg is trying to steal his bone!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gift Guide

I added a new page to my website this past week. It's a gift guide - to help people make choices appropriate for different occasions.

At the moment there are 21 different "gift" occasions ranging from the usual birthday and anniversary, to illness, life change, support, winter....etc etc. Hopefully it will provide a little help for those finding it difficult...

For each occasion I have selected three different items from my collection. I'd love some feedback if you fancy taking a's the gift guide or click on one of the photos. Let me know what you think of the idea and any other categories you think it would be useful to add.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bluebird of happiness

Here's another piece from my "birds with words" series...... Bluebird of Happiness.

The mythology of the bluebird of happiness has deep roots that go back thousands of years. Indigenous cultures across the globe hold similar myths and beliefs about the bluebird. It is a widely accepted symbol of cheerfulness, happiness, prosperity, hearth and home, good health, new births, the renewal of springtime, etc. Virtually any positive sentiments may be attached to the bluebird.

I hadn't heard of the expression a "bluebird of happiness" until we moved here and I saw my first bluebird. It's always a joy to see a bluebird and that wonderful flash of color...and they eat insects too, so are particularly useful around the vineyard. Now we watch them nest every year in one of our birdhouses in the vineyard - which even includes a camera inside so we can see every step from nest building to hatching to feeding to first flight.....and snoozing too:

Ahhh..... They do evoke happiness :=D

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Creative Business Cards

Now I've always liked my own business card. I like the logo design...I like the colors... it shows a whimsical style like my creations....however, it doesn't show "jewelry" because when I designed it, I wasn't just doing jewelry. But I still like it.

The front is shown above and on the back I have all my different contact information. In fact, I have a few different versions, and I determine which one I give out depending on the recipient.

The business card is an important marketing tool and having a memorable one can really help your business. A good friend recently sent me designs of some very creative business cards - so I thought I'd share my favorites with you.

1. An architect firm - Tur and Partner

garden business card

Isn't that so cool.....a growing business card!

2. A Painting company - Agrie Paint Services:

agir paint

So simple but so clever!

3. A Yoga company - Yoga One

yoga one

Gosh - now I feel my card is soooo mundane. I'm full of new ideas.....I want a metal business card with some flat-packed, push out jewelry that you can press out and wear!... Like a ring with my birdie on the top!....I can just picture it..........but I guess such business cards wouldn't be free like mine are from Vistaprint!!!

Thanks Chui for sending the ideas. For more - check here.

Do you have a cool card? Let's see.....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cold hands, warm heart.

The weather is getting colder....I hear on the forecast about snow falling ......and so I thought I'd make a little winter warmer piece.

Here is my "Cold hands, warm heart" necklace:

Yes, poor little penguins always have cold hands - winter or summer. But this special penguin has a lovely warm heart. If he came to live with you, he'd warm your heart, for sure!

This first little penguin is just a small guy - 2 cm tall, but now I've made him, I'm going to make another one a little bit larger.....

...with a bigger, warmer heart....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday's spotlight - English Leaf Peeping

By guest blogger Pete.

We have been extremely fortunate throughout the past four weeks. My wife and I have been able to take two breaks of some five and seven days during which we have enjoyed some really great weather. September and, to date, October have both been lovely months for weather with hardly a drop of rain falling. The leaves on the autumnal trees, although not quite as picturesque as those in New Hampshire, have been an absolute picture. The oranges, reds, rusts yellows, browns, etc, set against the various greens of the evergreen trees have been quite spectacular. Sometimes rain makes the autumnal leaf season rather short for us but that hasn't been the case this year.

We returned yesterday, Wednesday, from a week's break in the Cotswolds. During that time we met up with an old friends of ours' for the week end. We had first met her in the mid sixties when we lived at Tilbury. We certainly got around during our week there. For me the only slight disappointment was our trip to Marlborough. This is a quite beautiful market town with the most fantastic buildings set out on either side of the town's main street. This is a wide street built to hold the regular markets. Unfortunately our visit coincided with that of a clamorous amusement fair leaving the whole of the street packed tight with stalls and rides and noise and the buildings hidden behind this wall of garish colour and no little decay.

Again for me, the highlight was a visit to Bath. It was a sunny day - better than many of our summer days - that we chose to make our visit on. A number of years have passed since we were last there. In the 80's we lived at Warminster so Bath became one of our favourite visiting places. Parking, though, could be quite a problem in those days. We've been to Bath and had to come home again without leaving the car. We soon learned that when visiting this spa town you had to be there by 9 a.m. if you wanted to be able to park a car. They now, however, have a first rate "Park and Ride" at Landsdown, to the north of the city, and arriving there, as we did, at 10.30 a.m. brought forth no parking problems at all.

I visited Bath Abbey. It's a glorious building outshining many of our Cathedrals. On display in the Abbey was an exhibition by an artist called Sue Symons. Sue's artwork is a combination of machine and hand embroidery, calligraphy and illuminated lettering. There must have been about 60 to 70 pieces of her work on display. That alone made it a well worth visit. I recommend it to you. Admission is free but they do ask for a £2.50 donation. Photography is permitted. Thus I not only enjoyed the architectural beauty of the Abbey but also the work of a modern craftswoman.

Keep on leaf peeping - it will be 11 months before you are able to do it again.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New Wine Label - Birdland Vineyards

We got our new wine labels this week for our 2007 Birdland Merlot wine! While we sell most of our grapes from our vineyard, each year we do keep a few to make our own wine - Birdland Vineyards Merlot.

It's always an exciting time as we choose a different color each year, but as we don't get to see a sample in that exact color, it can be a little apprehensive too!

On the back label we write a different little story each year about Birdland!

We are pleased with how this year's color goes with the previous years'! Here are all the ones we've done. We will be bottling sometime early November.

Haven't I always told you how much I love color ?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Birds with Words

I've started a little "words" collection of jewelry this week.....a range of jewelry with a lower price point for everyday gifts.

Here are the first couple of pieces - my birds with words.

Both are bangle bracelets, but the birds and words could also be hung on chains instead.

The first bangle is based on the poem that inspired my silver poem bracelet - "Be as a bird" by Victor Hugo.

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

Since I found this poem and made the first bracelet, I just think of it all the time. This version is simpler than my drawn version, but still gives the message that we have inner strength, even when times are difficult..

The second bangle bracelet is "A little bird told me". Perfect as a birthday present for someone.

This is shown on an interchangeable bangle - like the Pandora, Chamillia, Troll etc bangle bracelets. Between the words and birds are stopper beads to hold them in one general place. Additional beads could also be added to this bracelet.

I have a couple of other "birds with words" ideas coming up.....any ideas from you?

I'll be listing them soon on my website.