Friday, December 31, 2010

Merry Go Round - Collaboration project: Eliot and Murray

On the last day of the year, as it's also the last Friday of the month - it's another Merry Go Round blog post.  Our merry go round is where a group of 8 artists/craftwomen link together around the world and tell you a little about their art and craft, through blogging on the same topic.

For this month's topic, to end the year,  we decided to collaborate with each other and make something involving two of us.  Names were drawn out of a hat and the first person had to send their partner a little something that they had made.  The second person then had to create a collaboration piece, combining their art/craft with the creation from their partner.

My collaboration partner was Mitsy from ArtMind and she sent a wonderful little package from Belgium. It was such a delight to open up  - beautifully packaged with her signature doll in a fabric little purse.  Mitsy had previously asked me what my favorite color was - so it was extra special to see lime feature in so many of the pieces:

The piece that first caught my eye, inspiration wise, was the top piece in the above photo - the oval.  It immediately made me think of my old pet, Eliot the tortoise. I called him T. S. Eliot for tortoise-shell Eliot.  The ceramic looked just like a tortoise shell and it was all that I could see for a while, and so, a new Eliot was born - with a happy smiley face. Meet Eliot:

T. S. Eliot

I checked with Mitsy and she confirmed that the ceramic was fired at a much greater temperature than the silver clay, so I formed the clay around the ceramic "tortoise shell" and then fired them both together.  There was a little bit of browning on the edge of the green glaze but otherwise the silver and ceramic were very compatible.

My  other piece of Mitsy's that inspired me was her flower, shown in the center of the first photo.  I decided it would be nice for one of my silver creatures to be the bearer of Mitsy's flower - presenting it to someone.  And so Murray was born.  He is a creature of my imagination - not any specific animal - but a bringer of flowers to those who need cheering. Meet Murray:


What I really enjoyed about the collaboration is that while making Eliot and Murray, I had Mitsy in my mind.  I've never met any of the merry go rounders but we know each other through our emails, blogs, etc. It felt different creating something with someone else's work and spirit involved too.  In fact, Murray has now travelled back to Belgium.  When he was born, we whispered in my ear that he wanted to go to someone special so off he went and got there safely. I hope he is bringing happiness to his new friend.

Collaborating seemed a wonderful way to end our year of Merry Go Rounding.  It's been another great year of interesting interactions, blog posts, and learning and supporting each other.  I do so enjoy our monthly merry go rounds! Thank you all, merriers!

As my last blog post of the year, I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year with lots of creative time too!  I'm so happy you take the time to read my blog - and I look forward to keeping in touch with you all in 2011.

I hope you have time to click on the links of the other merry go round team and see what collaboration projects they came up with.  I sent a little something of mine to Sara at Crafts of Texture. We live in all different places around the world, so time differences may impact when we all get our blog post up.

Kim at Vilt a la Kim -
Sara at Crafts of Texture -  
Fabienne at Easterya Jewellery Creations -
Mariana at Florcita -
Agathe at Le Bar du Vent -
Lily at Lily Pang Art and Design -
Mitsy at ArtMind -

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More New Year traditions

Following on from yesterday's "eat 12 grapes with your champagne toast for good luck in the new year", you may have read as a comment on yesterday's blog, that my friend Lorena from Mexico added another local tradition for New Year so, along with hers, I thought I'd share a few more for you to consider!

The first involves underwear! The ritual is that underwear that is worn on the last night of the year must be new and given to you by someone else.  The color should be red to attract love and passion, and yellow to attract money and success.  You can indeed where both red and yellow underwear to attract it all!

And as Lorena mentioned as a comment on yesterday's blog, if you want to travel in the New Year, you should keep a couple of suitcases ready at the door of your house, stuffed with clothing. In the first few minutes of the year, take them out of your house and walk them as far as you can, to attract lots of trips in the new year.

Photo by malias
A couple more:
  • eat at least a tablespoon on lentils to attract wealth and prosperity in every way, especially for a business; 
  • with a broom, open the door and sweep out the bad vibes and let the good vibes come in; 
  • have a lot of coins and money on hand that you can count when the clock strikes midnight which will bring you a lot of wealth.  Some place it in their shoe to bring more prosperity!
So what are you wishing for in the New Year?  Do you need to get someone to buy you some new underwear tomorrow or will you be packing your suitcase???

Whatever your hopes and dreams,  enjoy making them come true!

I posted my 365th blog post yesterday! Phew - a full year's worth! and two extra - this one and tomorrow's! Thanks for reading and sharing my year with me!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year Rituals

We've enjoyed learning about the New Year Rituals that go on in Mexico and hope to include some of them in our celebrations this year.

Our favorite one involves grapes - so is perfect for us with our vineyard.

The ritual is that when making a toast with champagne for the New Year, you should have 12 grapes for each person, one for each month in order to attract good vibes throughout the coming year.  With each strike of the clock on the final seconds of the year, you have to eat the grapes - one on each strike with the wish that your projects and hopes will come true.

The grapes can be presented as little bunches for each person, either green, purple or a mixture or you can put all 12 grapes on skewer and place that in the champagne glass ready, as shown in the above photo!

What New Year rituals do you like to participate in or what is traditional for your country?

Whatever you'll be doing - I hope you'll be sharing the time with special people in your life.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cowboys in San Miguel

Yesterday we got to be cowboys in a stunning canyon outside of San Miguel!! It was an amazing day.

We took a trip organized by Coyote Canyon Adventures led by Rodrigo - who comes complete with spurs that jingle jangle as he walks! I think we all had a touch of spur envy!

Rodrigo in his spurs
He picked us up in a van from San Miguel and drove us to a ranch about an hour away.  Actually, when we got off the main road, his 11 year old daughter took over the driving!!! Hmm....A little scary!!!

Adam - totally at ease on his horse
Then we each got on our horses and headed off from the ranch, accompanied with some of the ranch dogs, and gently meandered through the roaming cattle towards the canyon.  We then started our descent into the canyon and ambled along the river bed, in and out of the water.

Chui before the big descent
It was all so picturesque. Rodrigo encouraged those who wanted to, to try galloping.  I have only ever been on a horse once before and that was with my nephews quite a few years ago when they were little and we went on a brief "gentle trek" at Center Parcs.  So  I was content with just getting comfortable with my horse at a slow pace and gave the galloping a miss. 

Craig heading down into the base of the canyon
 After an hour or so we made a stop for a "beer" for those who wanted it - and this meant going into this village which seemed to be occupied mainly with noisy barking dogs! As the ranch dogs were still with us, there was a cacophany of sound as each dog defended their territory and deafened us!!

 "Refreshed" - or not, we got back on our horses and continued in the canyon with lots of great splashing through the water.  As my confidence grew a bit, I decided to try galloping!  Phew! Quite scary when your feet fall out of the stirrups, you drop the reins and you know you only have the saddle to cling on to!! I did manage several gallops during the rest of the trip - but don't recall that they got any less scary!  But it was exhilarating.

John - - before we'd tried galloping!!
John's pretty horse
The other hazard we had to deal with was that we were in the high desert and thus just about every plant is prickly and sharp and seems to want to prove that to you all the time - whether cactus or spiky bush or tree!  Especially during the galloping, it seemed the only thing I could manage to do was to hang onto the saddle so opportunities to direct my horse out of all the prickly areas didn't seem to exist.  The result was that Chui and myself ended up with what looked like a porcupine in our legs at the end of the final gallop! It was not fun pulling out cactus spikes from the front of your leg, I can tell you!!

Me - in shadow - on my horse!
My sweet horsie taking a well deserved rest
The scenery was incredible - and I especially enjoyed going through the river on the horse.  At the end of the day - despite my cactus impailed legs, I had enjoyed my horse riding immensely and felt I had progressed a lot!

By the time we got home, the saddle sores and aches and pains were coming well to the forefront - and have continued today!  Chui reckoned two of her cactus spikes were still in her leg so that was a good distraction from the other sore areas!!

But what fun! We had a wonderful day.

And it may come as no surprise that tomorrow we have all booked to go and have a massage!  ;=D

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Time of Celebration and Calm

written by guest bloggers Marly and Angie of STUDiO 28

December is a month of contrasting rhythms. The first three weeks are spent busily preparing for Christmas. Shopping, staff parties, get-togethers with friends before the gatherings with family, open house and studio show preparations, in our case, decorating, food shopping, cooking for Christmas eve and Christmas day.

A Christmas Show in Campbellville

Our 3rd Annual Studio Sale and Open House

Decorating the Garden Entrance with Christmas lights

Aaahh, and then, the glorious week between Christmas and New Year's Eve arrives. For many people, if they are lucky, December 26th until January 1st is a time for calm reflection. Yesterday, was the beginning of our retreat time. Whether its staying in our jammies until noon, putting on the second and third pots of coffee, finishing that great book, sitting beside the fire, or bundling up and going for walks, we revel in this new found freedom to slow down the pace and enjoy the quiet moments.

A Walk in Waterloo Park

It's a time to remember highlights of 2010 which include a spring adventure to Santa Fe in March to learn new metalsmithing techniques, camping and music festivals and visits to the cottage in the summer, an opportunity to learn from Celie Fago and visit with friends in Vermont in September, and both of us being able to create full-time for STUDiO 28 this fall. One of the best memories of this year was Ruth's visit in August. What fun it was to show her our house and studio here in Waterloo, and to spend time creating, laughing, and dreaming together. Ruth has become such a dear friend and mentor to both of us. As this will be our last post as guest bloggers, we both want to thank Ruth for the opportunity to share stories and ideas on this blog and for giving us the inspiration to start our own. We hope that Ruth may want to be a guest on our blog from time to time and we invite all of you to follow us at
"In and Around STUDiO 28." We have posted some new workshops for the winter months and hope that some of you can join us by the fire in the studio and share in our creative adventures. We wish all of you much joy and happiness in 2011.

Here's to a peaceful 2011

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Feliz Navidad

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.

Sharing my all time favourite Christmas video - you just have to see it every year. I love the  reindeer solo!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Colors of San Miguel

I had some time to do some more dyeing of aluminum today and was attracted to teals and oranges - then realized that it could well be due to the fact that there are a lot of those shades around me in San Miguel right now.

You can see from the photo that I have done four bands - still to be sealed, filed and shaped into bangle cuffs. The band on the right is orange on one side and brown on the other - as shown below. Not quite sure yet whether to shape it with orange or brown on the outside.  Brown is normally a color I avoid but......

I haven't found a great place for photographing my creations here excuse the photos that don't show things off to their best.....

The class I'm hoping to take here in San Miguel doesn't start until the New Year, so I'm hoping to try a few different things in the meantime...maybe some cooking ....some dancing....some.....????

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Learning a new language in Mexico

These past couple of days, I've been working hard to learn a new language while living in Mexico.  And, you may be surprised to hear that it's not Spanish - but Bella-ese.

Yes, our friends left us in their house on Sunday to go back to the US - but they didn't take their little dog Bella with them. Instead, she is in our care.

Now we know Bella quite well.  When our friends come to our home in the US, they normally bring Bella with them and while we go out for dinner, she stays home with Harold our parrot.  Harold talks to her all night - but Bella stays quite quiet.

Anyhow, since we've been her carers for the last few days, I've been trying to figure out Bella's language - ie Bella-ese.  I have to say her vocabularly is limited.  It is also situational in that one word may mean something in one context, but something else totally different in another context.  So it gets tricky!

Here's what we have understood so far....
  • "Ruff, ruff" in a gentle way, when on the floor by the bed means "Lift me up. I sleep on a bed too but my legs are too small to jump up there".  She is having to learn however that in our world, dogs don't sleep on beds!  This is proving to be a tricky lesson for her and we get more and more "ruff, ruff's" every night - and even in the middle of the night!
  • "Woof, ruff"  spoken with a big dog attitude means "get away - don't come in.  I'm busy".  These words are only spoken when we are in the house and the same room as Bella and someone comes in the front door.  If we aren't around or it is us coming in  - she doesn't even stir.
  • "Buff, bruff" means "I want to come up and sit with you so that you can do nothing but stroke my head and give me all the love you have!"
  • "Riff, ruff" means "I want my basket.  As I'm not allowed on the bed, you've left it in the bedroom and now I want to sleep in it downstairs".
So yes, we are all finding our boundaries during this time of learning.  In the meantime, Harold is far away at home winding our friend Cassie around his little finger. Cassie is kindly taking care of him while we are away and no doubt he is busy talking away to her too!  I guess we'll all be bilingual when we get home!

And as this post is all about dogs, I have to conclude with my favorite dog Christmas video. I shared it with you last year - but it's still worth watching!

Monday, December 20, 2010


Each day as we walk into the center of San Miguel, we see more and more Christmas decorations. I particularly love the lanterns that are hanging in El Jardin: 

So nice to see all those bright colors. I hope your run up to Christmas is bright too!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Poetry on Sunday - Horoscopes for the Dead

As my dad has "retired" from his Sunday's spotlight - (thanks Dad for all those blog posts xx) - I thought Sunday could now be my regular day for non-jewelry blog posts (although whilst in Mexico, there may be rather more of these than normal!!).

To start this off, I wanted to share a poem with you that I heard on the radio before we left the US. It is written by Billy Collins. He has just published a book by the same name as the poem "Horoscopes for the Dead".

In his interview on the radio, he said that he, like me, isn't a great reader/believer of horoscopes but when he does stop and read his own in the newspaper, he then goes on to read the horoscopes of other people close to him.......and thus he found that he was actually reading the horoscopes of people who were dear to him, but had actually died....and this is how his poem "horoscopes for the dead" came about!  I love it. Hope you enjoy it too.

Horoscopes For the Dead

Every morning since you fell down on the face of the earth,
I read about you in the newspaper
along with the box scores, the weather, and all the bad news.

Sometimes I am reminded that today
will not be a wildly romantic time for you,
nor will you be challenged by educational goals
nor will you need to be circumspect at the workplace.

Another day, I learn that you will miss
an opportunity to travel and make new friends
though you never cared much about either.

I can’t imagine you ever facing a new problem
with a positive attitude, but you will definitely not
be doing that or anything like that on this weekday in March.
And the same goes for the fun
you might have gotten from group activities,
a likelihood attributed to everyone under your sign.

A dramatic rise in income may be a reason
to treat yourself, but that would apply
more to all the Pisces who are still alive today,
still swimming up and down the stream of life
or suspended in a pool in the shade of an overhanging tree.

But it will come as a relief to learn
that you don’t need to reflect carefully before acting
nor do you have to think more of others,
and never again will creative work take a back seat
to the business responsibilities that you never really had.

And don’t worry today or any other day
about unwanted problems caused by your failure
to interact rationally with your many associates.
No more goals for you, no more pressing matters,
no more money or children, jobs or important tasks,
but then again, you were never thus encumbered.

So leave it to me now
to plan carefully for success and the wealth it brings,
to counsel the dear ones close to my heart
and to welcome any intellectual stimulation that comes my way
though that sounds like a lot to get done on a Tuesday.

I am better off closing the newspaper,
putting on the clothes I wore yesterday
(when I read that your financial prospects were looking up)
then pushing off on my copper-colored bicycle
and pedaling along the road by the shore of the bay.

And you go on being perfect just where you are,
lying there in your beautiful blue suit,
your hands crossed upon your chest
like the wings of a bird who has flown
in its strange migration straight up from earth
and pierced the enormous circle of the zodiac.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weekly Bird in the hand

Here is my weekly bird in the hand - the things I am grateful for this week:

  • our friends D and K - for their friendship and for sharing their home with us in Mexico
  • cultural variations
  • the colors and music of Mexico
  • safe travel
  • sunshine
  • interesting foods
  • Mexicans who understand English better than I understand Spanish!!!
Hope your week has been different too!


We joined our first Posada in San Miguel de Allende this evening.  Nine different posadas are taking place this week, from different churches and neighbourhoods in the city.  A posada is a type of parade which shows a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph's pilgrimage to Bethlehem asking for shelter.

In today's, a small truck had a scene of Bethlehem created on the back and three children dressed as Mary, Joseph and an angel. They were carefully secured to the truck so there would be no injuries as they drove along!!  The parade set off at 7.30pm, escorted by the police, and a crowd started to follow on behind.

As the parade moved, a band played and then the crowd sang a chant/song which is Mary and Joseph's request for lodging.  After each chant, there was no room at the inn and so they continued to move forward...  and the crowd kept growing and growing......with two very tall ladies bringing up the rear!!:

 and some smaller ladies peering from their their balconies....

It was fun to see everyone joining in - there were hundreds of people by the end and the parade lasted a long time. It all ended at one of the churches with Mary and Joseph knocking on the door and everyone being let in. Finally there was room at the "inn".

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Milliners on Etsy

I arrived in Mexico late last night - actually early hours of today.  Just unpacked and ready to get out there!!!

But before I head out, I wanted to let you know about Jennifer. Remember Jennifer who was my guest blogger for a while and wrote  "Mondays Millinery Musings" about her Millinery work ( and lots of other things too!)?  Well, she and other Etsy milliners are featured in a great article on Etsy Storque blog post this week. 

She is part of "Milliners on Etsy"  - an Etsy Team - and they created a challenge for themselves that mimicked a Project Runway challenge.  They had to create a hat inspired by a garment or fabric they found on Etsy.

This photo shows the dress that Jennifer chose and the hat that she made. Doesn't it look fabulous and I love the way she picked up the pin tucks in the dress and reflected them in the hat.

Well done Jennifer. How great to get that good exposure!