Monday, November 30, 2009

November in Movies and Books

This month has been a little low in both movie watching and book reading. Not quite sure why the lack of movies, but I know the books have been down as I've been listening to The Economist on my ipod when I drive to the city, instead of books. Not sure how long that will last....:-D

Anyhow - the movies I watched this month were:

King of California
The Jury
The real dirt on Farmer John
The life of David Gale
Turandot - live HD broadcast from the Met.

I loved the opera Turandot. If you haven't had a chance to catch one of the Met opera HD broadcasts at a movie theater, you should try. They are wonderful. Turandot had amazing settings and costumes....and we just loved it. It was funny as we saw the matinee of Turandot and then that evening we watched The Life of David Gale and Turandot was featured in it!!! There was a poster of it in one of the scenes that we spotted and then the last scene was part of the production of Turandot! If we hadn't been to the opera that morning, we would have missed what it was all about!!!

Anyhow - I highly recommend The Life of David Gale too. Gosh - very clever. Can't tell you much about it as it may ruin it, but what I can say is it is about a man who is an activist against capital punishment who ends up on death row accused of the murder of a fellow activist. Kevin Spacey and Kate Winslet.

The other one I recommend is The Jury. This was actually a 6 part series on British Television quite a few years ago. I hadn't seen it then, but we watched it on Netflix. It was a good jury twisting plot - but great characters in the jury too.

As far as books go, I only read one this month - non-fiction. It was "The End of Overeating" by David Kessler. David Kessler is a former FDA commission who did a lot of work on food labelling and also tackled the tobacco industry. The book is just a fascinating look into how our minds and bodies change when we each foods containing sugar, fat and salt and how manufacturers use this information. It's not a heavy read at all - and quotes interesting studies.

Wintery hair barrette

Here's the third hair barette I made recently......little fir cones and leaves...

I didn't polish it at all - it seemed to want to stay as it was, fresh out of the kiln....with a sense of frostiness to it.

Definitely a wintery feel to it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday's spotlight - Lincoln's Christmas Market

By guest blogger Pete.

They say that you can tell Christmas is close when you can buy Easter Eggs in the shops. Guess what?

Lincoln's famous Christmas Market begins next Thursday (December 3rd) and runs for four days. This market really is the city's Festive highlight and in the present financial climate many of the local businesses see it as the last opportunity for them, at least, to break even for the year. The original idea for the market came from Lincoln's twin German city of Neustadt. The first market had 11 stalls but that has grown to well over 300 this year. Neustadt will, once again, be well represented by stalls from that town. Most locals who visit the Market do it on the comparatively quiet Thursday evening when the market is opened. I emphasise the words "COMPARATIVE" and "QUIET". One stall, I notice, is advertising seating for up to 80 people. With the thousands that come each day that will be but a drop in the ocean.

The market takes places around the Cathedral and the Castle so the setting is ideal for the Victorian costumes that the stall holders adopt. The Christmas lights are on, all the shops are open, carol singers entertain, the Cathedral is open, various hot toddies and refreshments are available (all of a seasonal nature) and so the atmosphere of Christmas is found around that ancient part of the city. For anyone who likes photography this is an unmissable opportunity although I would suggest Thursday as the best day for this because the crowds are lighter then and there will be more chance of a good sharp photo.

The really busy day - when the locals who don't have to go uphill spend time at home or as far away from the city as possible - is Saturday. The city is then swollen with folk discharging from special trains and coaches arriving from all parts of the country. No where else in the U. K. is there a Christmas Market that can compare with Lincoln's. Experience has taught the authorities,the police and the other services how to deal with such crowds. Parking takes place outside the city in the show ground with special buses bringing people in from there. Coaches are allocated strict unloading and departure times and places so everyone has to be on time or their coach will have to do the trip around the city and come back in for them. Such a trip wouldn't make the latecomers the favourite passengers amongst their fellow travellers.

If you live in Lincolnshire and have never been then shame on you. You really should come if it is only for the experience of the event. If you live outside the county and have the chance to visit the Christmas Market then I would recommend that you accept that chance.

As I write this blog I am recovering from 'flu. I do hope that they are "aaahhhhhhhs" that I can hear! No visit to the art group this week so no new painting begun.

Enjoy the preparation for Christmas and don't let BUSYness get you down.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Quentin is on his travels!

Quentin is all ready for a little trip. He heads up to Vancouver, BC today with me to see my aunts and uncles and cousins.

He wanted to get organized himself, so he packed his own suitcase. I did warn him that even though his case is bigger than he is, he has to carry it himself. He assured me it was full of lightweight things. (I wonder what a little quail packs for himself?...any ideas?)

And as we are going into Canada, he hunted out his passport, flight tickets, (yes, just between you and me, I don't think he's quite at his peak, physically, at the moment so isn't up to flying all that way) and camera too.

Maybe he'll share some of his photos on the blog here.

We'll be gone for a few days, back Monday.

"Ready to head out Quentin?"

I guess he is!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Merry go round - What's your purple cow?

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: What's your purple cow?

Yes, it may sound like an odd question for us all to discuss, but if you've heard of Seth Godin's work, you'll be familiar with the concept of the "purple cow". He's written a book entitled "Purple Cow: Transform your business by being remarkable".

Basically, by the purple cow, he means that the key to success is to find a way to stand out and be remarkable - to be the purple cow in a field of monochrome Holsteins. So our "challenge" this month is to write about what our purple cow is...what makes what we create remarkable? What is it about our pieces that make them stand out from the crowd?

Remarkable adj.
1. Worthy of notice.
2. Attracting notice as being unusual or extraordinary

I've been thinking about this "merry" topic for quite a while. It's a toughie, I think! Do I even think what I make is remarkable?

After mulling over this for a long while, (which has been useful insight), I've come to the conclusion that my purple cow is that I make anthromorphic jewelry and narrative jewelry. Both of which, elicit emotions in people.

Anthropomorphic adj. 1 : described or thought of as having a human form or human attributes 2 : ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman things

Or in other words, the pieces I make suggest that the piece isn't just a lump of silver, but has a personality and human characteristics and thus has it's own story, or else the piece tells a story, and thus connects with the wearer and observer.

For example, there's Quentin. Well yes, he's a bird but he has many human characteristics.... You'll see him tomorrow heading out on his travels.....he has adventures.....he has an expression, he has his shoes on - ready for action.... He's not just a shape of silver. He has a following!!!

And what about "Anyone"? Wow - he has a busy life - falling in love, juggling, flying a kite, riding a bike, riding a horse. Maybe he's even superhuman?

And through this anthropomorphism, these pieces elicit emotions.....either inspiring the wearer or viewer to take action (like "anyone can change direction") or to feel something (like "remember the little things" where the birds are reminders for what is important in life).

Even those pieces that aren't sculpted figures have their own story. For example, " Cobblestone Hill". I have this necklace and every time I wear it, I hear from people that it reminds them of one specific place.....and the memories associated with that place...and how that place makes them feel.....

Or "Oranges and Lemons"....who can look at the image of a citrus tree and not have some emotion.... a memory of the scent of the blossom....the image of warmth and vibrancy...?

And "songbird"....which has become one of my key "birdland" pieces.....the softness of the bird...the idea of a song too....memories of listening to birds.... That little bird is narrative....he is telling a different story to everyone.

Through the human characteristics or stories of my pieces, I believe they connect with people. It's not looking at something and seeing it is pretty or beautiful, it is that connection with the on-lookers and the eliciting of emotions that is my purple cow.

So I guess now that I have struggled and found, what I believe, to be my purple cow, I need to make sure that everything I create is anthropomorphic or narrative and thus "remarkable"! Somehow I don't think the term "anthropomorphic jewelry" is going to catch on and be a great "search" tool for me however, but maybe I should start using the term "narrative jewelry" on my website etc....

What do you think? And what about what you create yourself? Ask yourself the purple cow question. It's a tricky one!

Hope you'll take time to read what other "merry-ers" have figured out to be their purple cows 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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hummingbird Ring

The hummingbirds are buzz, buzz, buzzing around, and still finding plenty of food with our flowers at the moment. Everyday we see hummingbirds. We don't have any feeders for them - only the natural ones ie flowers!

It never ceases to amaze me the loud noise that such a tiny bird can make - not just with their hovering, but their little squeaks when they chase each other!! And as I see them, I just feel they are buzzing at me, nagging me to make them in silver. I did make a hummingbird charm a few months ago, for my mum....and like the shape of it... the curled under wings...

So I've combined the "nagging" hummingbird with trying out a new style of ring. This is a simple style of sculptural ends on thick fine silver wire....a type of bypass ring with a hummingbird and flower together. What do you think?

The basic style of sculptural end I first saw from Kate McKinnon's work and she's recently been discussing it in her blog. I really enjoyed making it - and keep looking at it thinking it should be a neck wire or bangle bracelet or something like that....

And yes, if you are like my husband, your first thought is that it is dangerous!!! It is a cocktail ring - not meant to be worn when gardening etc - and definitely catches the eye - but hopefully, not literally :=D It's just a statement. Everything we wear doesn't have to be sensible!

So live out loud - like a tiny hummingbird!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Silver Hair Barettes

I'm growing my hair at the moment and don't have any nice hair clips so thought I'd make myself some silver ones.

Last time I made some clips, I was also growing my hair but it seemed as soon as I had made them, I had it cut short! Hopefully it won't happen again!

Anyhow - the joy of making my own is that they can be left-handed clips!

Just simple designs. These are the first two and one more is in the kiln.

I particularly like the flower one... might do another similar to that one....

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pete the Penguin

I made Pete the penguin quite a while ago....but I've never really made him into anything. He's a little too large for a I put him on a cord but I need to come up with something better for him...having the chain doesn't make him good as a key ring as he might get tangled up..... Maybe he should be a bookmark or.....

any ideas?

He's another jumping jack as you can see:

But as you know, penguins can't fly, so when you pull on the fish below him, either his left wing goes up:

or the right one goes way up high......but never the two together so he just can't fly :-(. Poor little Pete.

What do you think he should be?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday's spotlight - "Row, Row, Row your boat"

By guest blogger Pete.

It's quite an achievement to row across the Pacific Ocean. Yet that is just what two men recently achieved. They set off from Japan and didn't see dry land again until they reached San Francisco. In all it took them 189 days. That's dedication to a task if anything is! However, even their remarkable achievement had a disappointment near the end. They had wanted to be the first to complete such a trip without outside support. Unfortunately they ran out of food just a few days short of San Francisco and an emergency drop had to be made to them. I don't know how the folk undertaking that drop managed it but that evening on T.V. we had a shot of one of the rowers enjoying a hot burger. Perhaps MacDonalds have a floating restaurant now. They seem to be everywhere so it wouldn't really surprise me!

The names of these intrepid two men - both of whom found it rather difficult to walk on dry land again (they didn't offer the obvious reason for that inability) -are Mick Dawson and Chris Martin. Now, Mic Dawson is a Lincolnshire lad and the county is very proud of him and what he succeeded in doing. Our local radio - Radio Lincolnshire - kept in touch with both rowers throughout their trip and early morning listeners - plus those not quite so early as other early morning listeners are - were able to hear regular updates on their progress.

Thus Lincolnshire will soon welcome back a true fellow "yellow belly". That's rather a strange name but true Lincolnshire folk are known as "Yellow Bellies". A couple of years or so ago a large number of folk displayed "Proud to be a Yellow Belly" stickers in their cars. When I was a child - then living in Southampton - to be called a "yellow belly" meant that you were a coward. My father was born in Lincoln and although I first saw the light of day in the Channel Islands I claim his birth here in this city as sufficient reason to regard myself as a "Yellow Belly". No-one seems to know the true origin of this nick name, except that there are no cowardly connections. The most popular explanation was that, centuries ago, a regiment from Lincolnshire were fighting in some battle somewhere and had to make progress by crawling through newly ploughed fields. They mud that they picked up during their crawl was from a yellow ochre type of earth and thus the name "Yellow Belly" stuck to them. I take full responsibility for that awful pun.

Much to my relief the painting is finished. I was dreading attempting the trees and although I didn't leave them to the very last they did come just before the colouring of the roadway. When (and if) the picture is framed then the large block of foliage will be reduced by cutting it off parallel to the walkers on the far right. Hope you like it.

Keep on rowing -- you'll get there eventually.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Tea Series - Tranquility, Personality, Domesticity

Ready for your afternoon tea?

Following on from yesterday's post, the other three "tea" words in the series are tranquility, personality and domesticity.

Each can be a necklace, one of two types of bracelet or earrings.

I've been wondering what the easiest way to list them is and I think I'm going to list it as a necklace with the 5 options of word, and then a bracelet, then earrings etc etc. Hopefully that will make sense. So you first choose what style of jewelry you like, then you choose the word.

I'm hoping these will make nice gifts, with good sentiments to enjoy as you drink your tea and at other times too!

Which tea word would suit you best?

Friday, November 20, 2009

The "Tea" series - Serenity and Sincerity

I've just created a new series based on a little word play. Hope you like it. The first two in the series are sereni-ty and sinceri-ty - where the "ty" is shown as a little teapot!

The series are available as necklaces, earrings, solid bangle or interchangeable bangle. For the interchangeable bangle you could have a few word parts and change them day by day!

Each teapot is hand sculpted so they each vary a little.

The idea is that words formed by the teapot - the "ty" words - have some association with the feelings of tea....that serene feeling, that ...

.....oh, can't say anymore. I'll show you some more of the tea series tomorrow. Maybe you can guess what "tea" words I'll be serving up tomorrow afternoon!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Birdcage necklace

I've redesigned my birdcage necklace!

A sweetie little hand sculpted bird hangs freely in his cage.

This is a definitely an eye-catching necklace! And the happy part is that the bars on his cage are wide enough that the little birdie could leave his cage if he wanted to!

And I hate to disappoint you, but I'm afraid I'm just going to call it "birdcage necklace" as that phrase is one of most popular phrases that people use to find my website! Seems like I have quite a reputation from my original birdcages. So if the term works, I'm going use it! In fact, if you search "birdcage necklace" on Google, my Etsy store comes up number 1! Which is why I've been meaning to make another one for a while now!

So all you bird-cage necklace lovers - here it is!!! I'll put it up on my websites soon!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Red-nosed Reindeer

Here's a little friend for Snowman Jack ......I know it's traditionally Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer...but I feel this one is Rosemary - or just "Rosey" to her friends....

What do you think? A girl reindeer or a boy reindeer? And before you ask, yes, both male and female reindeer grow antlers.....

So little Rosey here is a pin to wear on your winter coat or jacket. Sweet happy pin to help you get in the spirit of the festivities!

Let me know what name you think he/she is....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jack the Snowman

Meet Jack!

Yes, it was Jack (or parts of him!) who was seen heading into the kiln last night, as shown on yesterday's blog post.

Jack is a cute little silver snowman necklace with his hat, corn cob pipe, coal for buttons and eyes and little carrot nose.....Have you figured why he's called Jack? Perhaps the next photo will help:

Yes, he's a jumping jack snowman necklace!!! Just pull on the little cord at the bottom and Jack leaps with joy. He just loves being able to wiggle around and do his jumping jacks! As he is quite a round snowman, he is hoping this will keep him trim and in good shape.

What a clever chappie Jack is!!

Hope you like him. An interactive necklace to enjoy, delight and surprise!