Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday's spotlight - Master Muses

Our usual Sunday's Spotlight blogger, Pete (my dad) has been away for the week - so I have given him the week off blogging! I think it's his first week off in a year!  Moral of this tale - don't comment negatively on your daughter's blog or you'll be asked to be a guest blogger and not get any time off!

So instead of my dad's post, I thought I'd take the spotlight - and spotlight the Master Muses.  You may recall that Tonya Davidson at Whole Lotta Whimsy came up with the Master Muse idea - where she has created two teams of metal clay artisans and each team has a challenge to create something and then write a step by step project on it.  Each Wednesday, Tonya puts up snippets of a different tutorial on her blog and the tutorials will then be for sale at Whole Lotta Whimsy.

To date, there have been 5 artists who rose to the challenge to  "create an unusual and fantastic clasp using metal clay".

Anne Mitchell started it off with a steampunk clasp; Barbara Becker Simon with a lovely copper swirl clasp; Vickie Hallmark made a ball key type clasp for a bracelet; Angela Baduel Crispin made a key slot clasp; and Patrik Kusek made a peek-a-boo clasp!

It's great to see what each has made and I'm looking forward to the full tutorials.  The second challenge starts next week.  The challenge was to use the technique of stenciling combined with the theme of Steampunk!  My creation will be on Tonya's blog next Wednesday morning! Hope you'll take a look.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Please walk on the grass

Just finished a new necklace this week..."Please walk on the grass" - thinking of spring and Easter and mother's day and......

It's a family of little birds, taking a stroll in the grass.

Just listed it on Etsy and it's featured in a lovely treasury made by Cyn.  I've shown you some of her treasuries before - she always brings such interesting pieces together.  Thanks Cyn.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Merry go round - What do I hope to learn/achieve this year?

It's time for another ride on the merry-go-round! Jump on and join a group of 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 do I hope to learn and achieve this year?

What I want to achieve this year is fundamental.   Through my creations, I want to make a difference/an improvement in how people feel when they see and wear my jewelry.  As we all need a way to measure our goals, I was thinking about having my goal be to receive more emails and messages like the one I got this week from a customer who received my necklace "I am strong".  She, unfortunately, had way too much sad stuff to deal with all in one weekend but still emailed me to say:

"WOW...This piece came to me at the perfect time.....I am so thankful for you making this piece and mailing it when you did. It really helped me through this tough weekend........really all I can say is THANK don't know how much it has touched me!"

Naturally,  I don't want people to have a hard time so they can appreciate something I make, and I'm not after recognition and people saying nice things - so maybe the emails and messages aren't important....I just hope I can touch more people through my creations -  and make them smile or give them strength, comfort, or......

Now the tricky bit - what do I want to learn this year?  I feel that right now, I am at a junction....and that I am a sponge.
I want to spread my wings and dabble in a few new things.  I feel that my wings have been clipped somewhat and I am creating to sell, rather than creating sometimes just for the pure joy of it.  So I want to branch out and try something new.....I have a list of ideas, some of which I know won't happen...but my vague list at the moment includes:
  • screen printing 
  • learn Illustrator
  • try larger sculptures using different media - for both indoors and outdoors
  • practice my drawing
  • create with nature
  • carving
I want to keep doing what I'm doing.. I do love making my whimsical jewelry and selling it -  but I came into this with no other previous creative outlet in my life and it just seems to be catching up with me a little - so I feel I just want to soak up some new stuff and stretch a little....I guess it's all about balance...finding time to keep doing what I love but making time to try some new things too.
    I guess my final thought on this blog post topic falls into both the achieving and learning categories...... I really want to do more collaborative work this year.   I have lots of ideas of what this could be, but won't give those away right now.  There are so many possibilities for collaboration.....If you think it would be fun to collaborate with me  - just get in touch! Let's do something different together....

    So 2010 is the year to create more smiles, to soak up new stuff and to stretch myself!

    Now I hope you'll head off and read what the other merry go round participants want to learn and achieve this year.  We have three new members this month: Alison, Mitsy and Kim.  Wendren is busy at a show so won't be participating this month....but it's still fun to check out her blog.

    Alison at Tweed Delights -
    Mitsy at ArtMind -
    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 -
    Wendren at Wren Design -

    And what about you?  Tell me what you are thinking the year has ahead for you....

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    The winner of the caption competition is......

    It was sooooooo difficult to choose a winner!  There were many wonderful ones...... I think next time I might have to put it up for a vote....the pressure and all that..... I loved reading them all.  Thanks for entering.

    And the winner of the caption competition is Kathy McTaggart Voss

    Yeah Kathy - well done!!!

    She submitted two great captions but my favorite was:

    His parents were suddenly overwhelmed with guilt at the argument they had over Rupert losing his report card the previous night. 
    "I should never have said - 'You'd lose your feet if they weren't attached!'" lamented Trisha.

    Her other - briefer caption was "Rupert felt so defeeted"

    Please send me your mailing address Kathy, so your little prize birdie can fly over to you and sit by your computer and keep you company.... He's excited to meet you (doing somersaults as I type this), and he's going to work hard to remind you not to get defeeted........

    Here are all the entries so you can see just what a tricky job I had!  Sorry you couldn't all win!

    Tangled stitch said:
    Why don't the chicks let us hang out with them?
    Clever Endeavor said:
    This is not what Trisha had in mind when she said she wanted to "get a leg up" on the day.
    Zsazsazsu said:
    Did a cat pass by ?
     Hamish said:
    I've heard of crows feet but bird feet without an owner!!
    Joy Funnell said:
    Time to give up the new diet I think.
     Christine Street said:
    Head in the clouds, feet on the ground
     Mary said:
    Is it my turn yet on the zip wire?
     Fabienne said:
    We always knew he had a split personality...
     Christine Street said:
    Hoohoo are these?
     Colin said:
    "He just took off!"
     Carrie Benvenuti said:
    "For The Birds"
     Bev Miller Gallerani said:
    "Looks like the kitchen is missing some of the ingredients for the dim sum."
     Kathy McTaggart Voss said:
    His parents were suddenly overwhelmed with guilt at the argument they had over Rupert losing his report card the previous night. "I should have never said 'You'd lose your feet if they weren't attached!'" lamented Trisha.
    Catherine Witherell said:
     Honey, I told you pinning those on wouldn't work! Sigh!
     Carol Paxson said:
    Hanging out in the yard, the jailbirds realized what it would take to fly the joint.
    Steve Clary said: 
    I TOLD Jimmy not to eat the Alka-Seltzer!
    Nicola Callow said:
    Robin found a significant clue in the mysterious "Case of the Missing Wine"....
    Christine Street said:
    Good Lordy! What's this then?
    Ruth said:
    "I agree Doctor. This is the worst case of Restless Leg Syndrome that I've seen too! Let's hope it's not contagious!"
    Hamish said:
    Having two left feet, he had real trouble with the tango
     Hamish said:
    Jim was just getting ready to venture out when he got cold feet.
     Hamish said:
    The birds were against the new perch laws so they voted with their feet
    Deb Gassman said:
    We told him to "knock his socks off", but apparently he took it to the extreme!
     Joy Funnell said:
    That New Years diet seems to have worked a bit too well!
     Sandra said:
    Jimmy's new invisibility cloak just wasn't long enough...
     Patricia said:
    So, kids--fitness, like everything else, in moderation
    Kathy McTaggart Voss said:
    Rupert felt so defeeted.
    Katherine Malm

    I could've used that extra set of legs at my last marathon.
    Wendy said:
    Oh lord Eggbert, he did it again, he flew the roost and forgot his feet were nailed down!
     Patricia said:
    "I thought his doctor said it was a *retinal* detachment."
     Mary said:
    When are the next winter Olympics, as we want to enter the pairs skating.

     Thanks again for entering, and helping my birdies find their voices!

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Last day to enter the caption competition

    Today is the last day to enter the caption competition and win the little birdie shown in the photo below.  To enter, click on the competition at the top of the side bar if you are reading this in blogger - or else leave a comment here or on facebook.  You can enter as many times as you are inspired to!

    The winner will be announced here tomorrow!  This little guy is excited to  learn where his new home will be...yes, a little apprehensive too!

    Waddle and Toboggan - new penguin friends

    Two more introductions today - here are Waddle and Toboggan - cute little penguins:

    You can call them Wad and Tob - as I know you'll make friends with them quickly enough.....They love to snuggle up together when it gets really cold....

    Other times, they keep a watchful eye out....looking this way....

    and then that way.....

    making sure there are no predators around.....Phew - it's all clear, so they can just hang out for a while!

    Don't you just love their little webbed feet that move as they hang out - yes - like they are waddling!!!

    (Month of earrings # 15)

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    Month of earrings update

    Here are some more earrings that I've included in my "month of earrings" challenge - these are # 10, 11, 13 and 14 (the lime green ones I thought were too similar to another pair so I didn't count them as another entry!).

    The top row are "lavender fields" and "lavender essence" and the bottom row are "the colors of freshness" - turquoise, aquamarine and lime green. 

    In the "month of earrings" group on flickr, there are now 115 photos of earrings made by participants in the challenge so far!  It's a good collection. The goal is for each of us to make 30 pairs by April 1st. As it is the 23rd Feb today, in theory we should have made 11 1/2 pairs of earrings to far! Yeah - I'm ahead of the the moment.....

    Second round of experiments with Prometheus bronze

    Someone asked if the first cats  I made in Prometheus bronze were available for sale.  As I wasn't happy with the little chunk that fell off one of them, even after I'd sanded it, nor the mottled color, I said I'd try making her another pair. Here are the second pair - a definite improvement on the first pair:

    More predominant rosy color than yellowy bronze......  I prefer the cat on the right - shown below:

    ...but then I guess when making two of something, one will always be "better" than the other!

    I'm trying a repair on the first pair of cats I made - by adding a new layer and refiring...I'll see how that goes today.

    Bye for now...

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    Monday's Millinery Musings - Nesting place

    Written by my new guest blogger - Jennifer
    See the sidebar for Jennifer's etsy store or click here:

    On St. Valentine's Day I read Ruth's post about National Nest Box Week, a yearly event, sponsored by  the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). For a week beginning on Valentine's Day nest boxes are placed in gardens all over the UK.  I was galvanized to get a nest box in our garden! The birds in North America, as  well as in the UK, have lost many of their natural nesting sites and their populations have been dwindling. The birds could use our help.

    I clicked onto Ruth's link for the BTO where there are simple instructions for building your own nest box.  I printed out the instructions and gave them to my Valentine who is very clever with a cop saw, hammer and nails. In no time at all, as you can see, he made 2 lovely nest boxes from scrap wood found out in the garden. We hung one box on the grape arbor and the second in the apple tree (not too close together - birds like their space) and are hoping the song sparrows will be tempted by these comfortable lodgings.

    The BTO began National Nest Box Week in 1997 and over the years there are believed to now be 5 - 6 million boxes in gardens all across the UK. They have significantly increased their bird population one box at a time! This makes my heart glad.

    On February 14, my Valentine presented me with two  abandoned bird's nests that he found while pruning: a song bird's pensile nest (not shown) in the lemon tree, and a jay's cup nest (shown) found buried in the front hedge. I meant to take a picture of them for you (they were side by side) since they were unusual Valentine's Day gifts but someone (a bird!) has made off with the pensile nest! Thief! To be fair, how could any bird resist a pile of ready nesting materials? Now I'm curious to see if the robins or jays will start robbing twigs from the cup nest. It's always exciting out here in nature.

    Rapunzel - let your hair down!

    My Rapunzel's tower is featured in a delightful treasury.  I thought this one was so sweet that I'd share it with you.

    Lisa from Moon Spirit Studios created the treasury. Thanks Lisa.

    Does it make you want to escape?....or let your hair down????

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Sunday's spotlight - I wouldn't have thought it possible

    By guest blogger Pete.

    No.  I wouldn't have thought it possible.  I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't witnessed it myself and seen it with my own eyes.  What is this miracle of the second decade of the 21st Century?  Well, yesterday the 19th day of February in the year 2010, Pam went into the garden and worked there for approximately  half an hour!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Photo by Nganguyen 

    I just couldn't believe it.  Now, don't get me wrong.  The unbelievable part isn't the fact that Pam went out to work in the garden.  Far from it.  In fact, she, rather enjoys a bit of gardening.  I must confess to enjoying it more in the warmer months than in the colder ones.  The unbelievable aspect is that since our marriage - "??" years ago -  there has been an unwritten rule (also an unbroken rule) that the earliest we'll get out into the garden is late March or early April.  Yet here was Pam cutting back the passion flowers as if it was mid-summer's day!  I couldn't believe it.

     Photo by DaveandEmma
    I also find it difficult to believe the weather we've had this week.  We have had the inevitable rain, a smattering of snow, heavy frosts, black ice and two days of sunshine for yesterday and today.  So in a week we've experienced something I wouldn't have thought possible.  AND there are 12+ hours remaining for a tornado to turn up.

    Perhaps cutting back the Passion Flowers was a wee bit early - could be that a heavy frost or two will come along and those passion flowers will move to that glass house in the sky.  Not a disaster, though, if that does happen but I will be surprised if it does.  The flowers have been in their present location for over ten years and a non passion flower plant might make a nice change when we go to the garage.  Ruth and John had a passion flower when they lived near Hereford.  They rashly asked me how they should look after it.  I recommended cutting it back March or early April.  Their passion flower died.  I couldn't believe it and they've never forgotten it.
     Photo by Spakattacks

    Do you know how the passion flower got its name?  A little work for you to do then.  Look at a picture of a passion flower and find the following:
         a)  Crown  of thorns.
         B)  Multitude.
         c}  Disciples.  (You may not find more than ten.  Judas Iscariot is missing and, from time to time, one of the other disciples slips out for a cup of coffee)!  Bet you didn't know that.  It's impossible to believe .
         d)  Marks of the nails.
         e)  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    I wouldn't have believed it possible if I hadn't heard it with my own ears.  G. B. has won a gold - spelt G - O - L - D  - medal at the Winter Olympics.  Amy Williams was our successful candidate and I can't believe that she doesn't come from Lincolnshire!   It's our first gold - spelt G - O - L - D  -medal from the Winter Olympics for 30 years.  Hard to believe that.  Especially as this year we've had more snow in Lincolnshire than they've had at Whistler!!!!

    Go on looking.  You may be surprised by the things you see.  You may even say, "I can't believe it!"

    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    Introduction time - new connections

    Thought I'd take a little time to introduce to you some new people whom you will meet via my blog.

    First of all, I have a new guest blogger - Jennifer Whitmer.  She lives in Sonoma - a few miles away from me.  I met her when she came to one of my jewelry open house shows a couple of years ago with her mum, whom I knew from the Sonoma Newcomers Group.

    Jennifer is very creative and teaches classes locally and not so locally too.  She creates "Impromptu millinery and accessories".  I helped her set up her Etsy store a few months ago and she is thinking about creating her own blog....but while making her mind up, I suggested she write a few guest blog posts on mine as a "warm-up" and to get in the swing of things!  You'll read her first guest post later this week....not about her creations, but her husband Dave's instead ! - but you'll hear about her's sometime soon I hope.  In the meantime, here is a snapshot from her etsy store:

    The other three people I want to introduce you to are all joining our merry go round.  For those of you who don't know, the merry go round is a group of craftswomen/artists who join together once a month to blog about the same topic and link to each others blogs so we can see how we all respond to the same topic.  We live all around the world and have a wonderful time blogging together and also supporting and encouraging each other.

    The first new "merrier" is Kim at Vilt a la Kim who does wet felt work.  She lives in the Netherlands.  I love the colors of her work - and especially her candle light holders that you can see in her etsy store:

    Next up is Alison at Tweed Delights where she creates "gifts for the home" and also "fun and funky tweedie plush" from Harris Tweed.  Alison lives in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

    My fourth introduction is to Mitsy from ArtMind  I know you'll love her blog with lots of great tutorials and ideas......  She does ceramics and lots of other things too!  Mitsy lives in Belgium.  Here's a little selection from her Etsy store:


    Our merry go round post is due next Friday - 26th -  so I hope you'll come by and see what all us "merriers" have to say! 

    It's always lovely to make new connections with other people and I'm looking forward to getting to know the new merriers, and spending more time with Jennifer.  

    Hope the weekend is a good "connecting" one for you.

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    First sign of spring - Friday's fascinations, facts, and folklore.

    In Europe, the cuckoo call is considered the first sign of spring.  In the US, it is the reappearance of the American Robin.  American Robins are very hardy and can withstand cold and snowy weather so don't tend to migrate.  In the winter they switch to a diet heavy with berries and will only migrate if no food is available.  However, as the weather warms and insects and worms begin to show, robins are seen suddenly, as if they just returned from some warmer location.

    Just over a week ago, the Robins "returned" to Birdland - and lots of them. They seemed to be eating the olives from the trees and on the lawn below and also looking for insects in the grass.....every morning there are over 50 of them, all very busy!  Welcome back Robins, even though you didn't go anywhere!

    Are you seeing and hearing signs of spring yet where you live?

    Thursday, February 18, 2010


    Feeling a little dog-eared?  Then this is the pair of earrings for you!  You'll look dog-eared - with dogs in your ears - but you'll no longer feel dog-eared!!!

    Two happy best friends to dangle and wiggle their legs from your ears!

    They have cute little faces, floppy ears, and little sticky up tails! Your perfect easy-to-keep pet that'll blow those dog-eared feelings away!

    Yes, these are #12 in my month of earrings challenge!  (I haven't shown you #10 and #11 yet...but I will! )  "Dog-eared" will be up on my site soon on the "playful" page.

    So what do YOU think are the doggies names?

    Caption Competition




    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    A garden seat

    Earrings # 8 and # 9 of my Month of Earrings challenge - a blue garden seat and a green garden seat.

    Sweet little bird silhouettes, nestled in the garden plants...taking a seat.  Different birds on each one.

    The earrings are very slightly domed.  They are made from colored anodized aluminum.  In this process, the color becomes part of the metal surface layer so can't be scratched off.

    Which color do you prefer?

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Sitting on the fence

    Here is my pair #7 earrings in my month of earrings - Claude and Claudia the silver cats. They like sitting on the fence.....chatting over things and putting the world to rights....

    They are not manx cats - they do have tails as you can see:

    Happy little cats, who enjoy each others company - and also enjoy hanging out with humans.  Don't be put off by their names - they won't claw the furniture!

    And they make the softest sweetest sound as you wear them, as their little legs jingle on their bodies...

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    A Month of Earrings

    I joined a "challenge" at the beginning of the month.  It is to make 30 pairs of earrings by April 1st....that means you make on average, one earring a day throughout February and March.  I thought it would be good to join in - because I tend to make more necklaces than earrings and also because I have very few pairs of earrings myself!

    You've seen some of my first 6 entries so far, in other posts, but I'll collate them all here.....and show you the new ones as they come along in future posts.

    As I have only 6 pairs so far  and it's the 15th, I need to finish off a few more that have just come out of the kiln to keep up to date!

    You'll notice that a couple of them are a different style for me.  They are created by coloring anodized aluminum.  I'll explain more later in another post....

    There are 15 of us in the challenge and you can see all the earrings so far on our flickr group here.  If you fancy joining in - you still've only got 15 days to catch up :-)

    Sunday, February 14, 2010