Monday, May 31, 2010

Mondays with Marly - Cottage Season

By Guest Blogger Marly
Marly and Angie are owners of Studio 28, Waterloo, Ontario

Those of us who live in Southwestern Ontario have our own "West Coast" along the shores of Lake Huron. Back in the 70's, (I was merely a child), Dad and I went looking for cottage land and we were very fortunate to find a rare lake-front property just north of Kincardine. Mom and Dad spent every weekend and the summers for the next few years building the cottage and putting the finishing touches on the inside. Both Mom and Dad had busy and demanding careers in Waterloo and the opportunity to get away and shift focus to cottage projects always lifted their spirits and gave them renewed energy. This is one of my favorite pictures of them as it reflects their happy playfulness when they worked together at the cottage.

They aptly called the cottage "Huron Haven" and it became a relaxed and peaceful gathering place for friends and family. The highlight of every evening was watching the amazing sunsets over the lake.  The beauty and majesty of this natural wonder would draw us to the beach or to the cottage deck and we would end each day gazing at the ever changing reflections of the sun on cloud, sky, and water.  This is a picture taken from the deck of the cottage.

When I started creating with metal clay, I knew I wanted to work on a Lake Huron Series to capture some of the magic of my cottage memories. First, I started with a very simple representation of sky, sun, water, and sand by making a texture plate using sandpaper and wallpaper textures along with a hole punch to create the circle shape for the sun.

I also wanted to capture the beauty of the trees lining the shore, so I twisted some copper wire into a tree shape and made a mold of the tree with the textures from the domed pendant in the background.

I, then, decided to use some gemstones to represent the sun or the moon over the lake. I have various stones in different pieces including garnet, oregon sunstone, and citrine to represent the sun, and opal to represent the moon.


I have truly been touched by the response to my Lake Huron series as so many others have shared their special memories of summer days on the beaches and in the cottage towns along Lake Huron. 

Dad passed away in 2002 and Mom continued their tradition of welcoming friends and family to their beautiful cottage home for seven more seasons. It was with a mixture of sadness and gratitude that we opened the cottage this spring, the first time without Mom or Dad. It is the end of an era. There are so many of us that miss Mom and Dad's kind and generous presence, but I know we feel grateful for their hospitality and the many beautiful memories they helped to create. I know that they will continue to inspire us to take time to enjoy nature, each other, and to end each day looking at the sunset with a peaceful and happy heart! I love you, Mom and Dad!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday's spotlight - Bloggers Block

By guest blogger Pete.

I get up from the comfy chair in the conservatory to go and write this blog and Pam asks, "What are you going to write about this week"  I answer, "I don't know".  This could be a very short blog.

Some time ago I said that I'd give you some "T.T.".  That was "teenager talk".  Do you remember?  My younger grandson, Peter, has written out some "cool" sayings or writings for texts and I lost the list (not so COOL).  Well, I've found it so here goes as I give you some of the more respectable versions:
LOL ------laugh out loud.
ROFL----rolling on the floor laughing.
CBA------can't be asked.
CBB------can't be bothered (to answer).
EFFORT -- same as above.
SSAD ---- cleaned up version of "same situation another day".
Now you'll all be with it.  With what?  DAM.

The garden is beginning to show a bit of colour now.  The major bulb explosion has come to an end and the longer lasting flowering plants and bushes are beginning to come into their own. Of the "nearly" 120 bedding plants that I have put in only 3 look a bit sick.

The firm,  "Green Thumb", who are trying to rescue my lawn from the ravages of moss, are due to make their 2nd call on June 6th.  Already, after just one visit, the grass is more than holding its own, which means more grass cuts.  It's a bit of a dull day today but I'm hoping that the photos I just taken will be okay for this blog.

Lincoln is in chaos at the present moment.  Every Tom, Dick and Harry (County Council, City Council and a few other councils thrown in) are having a picnic revamping and repairing the roads.  The quickest route from our house to uphill Lincoln is now via Skegness!!

Two questions.  1) Why is it that all road repairs and revamps are undertaken at the same time?   2)  Why is it that they insist of putting a top layer of grit/small stones on the tarmac.  This makes the lifespan of a car windscreen so much shorter than it need be.  Answers, please, in pencil around the border of a £10 note.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Field Guide to Bird Tracks bracelet

I've decided to change my bracelet design a little by making some of them elasticated instead of closing with a clasp.  Some people find clasps on bracelets very difficult to operate - no matter what type of clasp, so I thought this would be a nice option.

Here's the new design on my Field Guide to Bird Tracks bracelet:

I like it and am going to change my own "be as a bird" bracelet to elasticated.

What do you think?  Which would you prefer - a clasp or elasticated?

 "Hmm... I wonder which bird I'll grow up to be?"

The bird tracks bracelet can help you identify bird tracks that you may see in the soil or sand or wherever...The tracks shown are for the following birds (starting at the duck as that is easily recognizable!:

Duck; Bald Eagle; Canada Goose; Wild Turkey; Great Blue Heron; Sandpiper; Northern Flicker; Raven; Snipe.

I'm going to do a few new bracelets - do you have a theme you'd like to see on a bracelet - 9 different something-or-others???

Friday, May 28, 2010

Merry go round - Networking

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 questions that we will answer are:
What do you do to network?
In what ways does it work or not work?

A dictionary definition of "Networking" defines it as "a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest."  I like the "supportive" part of that definition.  And also the "sharing" part too. In all my networking, I try to pay attention to the fact that it is not just a one way ticket and an opportunity for me to get my work out there, but that it is also important that I listen and see what others are doing and creating and offer them support.

Here are some of the internet based ways I network and what works for me:
  • Blogging 
I really enjoy blogging and think it's a great way to connect with people - both potential buyers, other artists and also, family and friends ( who are, of course, potential buyers and  great for word of mouth marketing).  I publish my blog here on Blogger, and then it is set up to also automatically publish on:
This means that one action gets to hit 4 different avenues which I really like!
In addition to my own blog, I also read and comment on lots of other blogs too.  I have quite a few blogs set up to come to my Google Reader and generally read them every day or every other day.  I love Google Reader as it brings all your favorite blogs to one place so you can read them all together rather than keep searching lots of different sites.

  • Etsy
While I have my storefront on Etsy, I'm not one who likes to hang out in the forums and chat. For some people, I know that is a great networking opportunity, but it's not my thing.  However I am part of the Etsy Metal Clay Team and that is a lovely way to stay in touch with other artists using the same media as myself.  It's a friendly team and both inspiring and supportive.  I've met a few members face to face and look forward to meeting more in the future.  We have our own team website and blog and so promote each other and metal clay.
Having a store on Etsy seems to be a great way for other stores to find your work too and I've had quite a few wholesale requests come from Etsy.  While I don't really do much wholesale work, as my pieces tend to me one of a kind, I am working on what could possibly be a great wholesale project at the moment for a company that I really fingers crossed for that - and they found me on Etsy.
  • Dawanda
As well as a storefront, Dawanda seems to offer me quite a few interview opportunities and features in other people's blog. This Monday, in fact, I am going to be interviewed for the Dawanda blog, so hopefully that will generate some interest.  Last week one of my products was on their newsletter which got me three sales that day, a blog feature and an interview request. 
And of course this "merry go round" originated from other sellers I "met" on Dawanda and the merriers are definitely a supportive networking system!  I do love Dawanda!

  Cartoon by Oliver Widder
  • Facebook
I initially joined Facebook as just somewhere to publish my blog...but now I enjoy it as a place to catch up with friends, previous customers, family etc.  While I'm not one of these facebook addicts, I enjoy seeing what everyone is up to and it's a great, easy way to keep up to date with everyone.
  • Twitter
I've never really got into Twitter. I don't do anything there except let my blog automatically publish there.  Maybe one day I'll get it....but then maybe not!
  • Flickr
Flickr is probably my most recent networking avenue.  For ages I couldn't really see the point of it, but then I gave it a try and have been featured on a few other blogs from people seeing my work there, and it's a great place to see lots of beautiful things.  I guess I'm quite an inconsistent Flickr user but that suits me.
  • Online galleries
There are few of these around where you can submit a photo for consideration for their gallery.  Craftgawker is one that I really like and  has brought me several customers.  You need to submit a photo of your work from your website or blog as it has to have some content associated with it - not just a photo.

A couple of blog style galleries are Try Handmade, Etsytacular, and Must Have Cute.  Must Have Cute sent me an amazing number of viewers after featuring my Nate and Kate octopuses.  They found my work - I didn't submit it - but I got hundreds of visitors from them.  They do have a submission process too but I'm not sure how often they use what is submitted as opposed to what they find.

I've found and purchased some wonderful things from these galleries too so they are definitely worth looking at.

What are your most successful networking efforts?  Any you'd like to share or suggest?

Take a look at how other friends on the merry go round network by visiting their blogs via the following links.  Remember that we live on different time zones so some may post later than others.
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 -

Thursday, May 27, 2010


v.  v.intr
1. To grow well or luxiriantly;thrive
2. To do or fare well; prosper
3. To be in a period of highest productiviy, excellence, or influence

All the flowers that are definitely flourishing in our garden are inspiring me to make more flower!....and add some color.  Here is my latest entitled "Flourish" - a fuschia in pretty pink with green leaves.

As it is a three dimensional piece, I made it into a long necklace so it doesn't lie at your neck, but is free to move at opera length - either 30 or 36 inches. 

What I really like about this piece is the little sound it makes.  It seems funny that I'd like the noise - but I guess most of my pieces never make any sound.  This has a very tiny sound as the leaves hit the flower.

Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry based on it's sound?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bud over in the vineyard

It's been busy in the vineyard this week, with mowing, suckering and "bud over" of a few vines.  "Bud over" doesn't mean you've had some friends round for the day - rather we are changing some of the vines from Merlot to a Spanish white varietal.

This involves using the current root stock from the merlot, cutting off the top and then splicing in a bud from the new varietal.

It's an interesting and precise technique so thought I'd share some photos so you can see what it involves.

Here's what the vines started out looking like:

Next, using a chain saw

the horizontal parts of the vine are cut off - the cordons.

The outer part of the bark at the top of the trunk is then stripped off exposing the old bud sites:

Where there were previously buds,  the bud is removed and an incision made at that point

Next, the new bud wood is prepared.  The bud wood just looks like little sticks:

One little bud is cut off from the bud wood:

And this is then inserted into the incision area on the trunk:

This process is  then repeated on the other side of the trunk so each original trunk has two new buds.  If you just use one, it grows too fast and isn't very strong.  By adding two, not only do you get two chances of them taking, but it slows the growth so they are stronger.

Next the top of the trunk is wrapped up, so that the buds are held in place with just the very tip of the bud showing through:

And now we wait and see!  We have to make sure all suckers (leaves growing on the base of the trunk) are pulled off regularly from these vines now - as they would want to product merlot and instead let the plant use it's energy for the new white varietal.

We decided to "bud over" because a couple of wine makers approached us and asked if we'd experiment with them on this new-for-California white varietal.  We are only doing about a tenth of the vineyard to see if it works and if the terroir is good for this varietal or not.  If it works out, we'll do a little more but still have Merlot as our main grape varietal.

I'll let you know how it goes. Hope the piccies gave you some idea of the process.

Go buds!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quentin's Back!

Yeah!  I've been hearing Quentin calling for the last couple of days - but now I've seen him too! He's back in the garden...running across the lawn and scouting out the place - hopefully for a nesting site.

Quentin - and all quails, hang out in "coveys' in the winter - large groups of up to 100 quail and we occasionally see the covey but they don't venture as a group into Birdland in those numbers.

So it's great to see Q back again!  What a happy fellow he is - strutting around, with his distinctive call...

And if you haven't met Quentin before, he is a very special California Quail.  If you click on the caption competition tab on the top of the Blogger blog or here -  Quentin's Adventures , you'll see a few things that Q and his pals got up to last year! or else search on this blog for "quentin" and you'll see even more! 

Welcome back Quentin. Hope we get to see Queenie around the garden too and that you find a nice place to build a nest......  Wonder what else you'll get up to this year....

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday's millinery musings - Mr. John: King of Millinery, my hero

By guest blogger Jennifer
Jennifer's Etsy store

A few months ago I took my first hat blocking class from the fabulous milliner, Wayne Wichern, and received initiation into the special mystery of the flat travel hat which has been popular for decades. With a steam iron Wayne turned a shapeless straw bag (hood) into a hat that could be packed absolutely flat and then could pop up to be a real hat when worn. It is quite a remarkable thing to see since it has not a single sewn stitch and is created entirely with the iron. It is a technique passed from milliner to milliner and is best demonstrated. It is feminine, simple and elegant.

Mr. John (1902-1993) gave us the flat travel hat and his legacy to milliners runs deep. For 50 years he reigned without a second. He was the highest paid milliner in the world and has been described as being as famous to millinery as Dior was to fashion. An irrepressible exhibitionist with a Napoleanic streak Mr. John made hats for 1,000 films, hats for celebrities and the famous of each decade of his career, a stainless steel hat, a banana hat with a zipper, an airplane hat, an Eiffel Tower hat, a hat for a live elephant to wear to a Republican convention (requiring Mr. John to stand on a 10 foot ladder in order to fit the hat on the elephant himself) to mention a mere few of his accomplishments.  He was a witty visionary, full of humor and honesty. Women loved his hats, still do, and on occasion a few can be found for sale on ebay.

If you are an old movie buff you'll recognize a few of Mr. John's hats:

Greta Garbo's jewelled  helmet in Mata Hari

Marilyn Monroe's showgirl headdress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Vivien Leigh's wheel hat in Gone with the Wind

Marlene Dietrich's veiled cloche in Shanghai Express

For a long and fascinating article about Mr. John, read Drake Stutesman's article: "Gives Good Face: Mr. John and the Power of Hats in Film". It is interesting that no book has been written about this remarkable man and his life.

As I labor on in my little workroom, making inventory for my next teaching and vending adventure, I find myself thinking a lot of Mr. John. Ironing hoods into "Mr. John travel hats" I am encouraged by his advice, given long ago, to young designers: "Buy buckram, select materials, and start: practice. Your factory must be in your head."  It says to me to keep things simple, build skills, and trust my intuition.

A Flat Travel Hat with Dot and Bow Veil

Mr. John finally threw in the towel and closed his business in 1970, done in by what he described as "orthopedic hairdos and french fried curls". He couldn't get over that women had traded in their milliners for hairdressers.

Mr. John died at 91 and to the very end bemoaned the loss of women's hats and the beauty and refinement they gave women.

Do you know what Mr. John did for you that you benefit from daily? He put a strap on your purse. He was the first to do it! He also put soles on ballet slippers so they could be worn outside and opened the door for flat shoes. Mr. John liberated us from teetering around on high heels clutching our strapless purses (they aren't called clutches for nothing). Try to picture it,  and if there's time read the article so you can really appreciate Mr. John, King of Millinery. My hero.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday's spotlight - Birthday party

By guest blogger Pete.

The "nearly" lady, I mentioned her in last week's blog, kindly invited Pam and me to Birthday tea to celebrated the fact that I'm now "nearly" 80. There were sandwiches and cakes, coffee and tea in plenty.

My mother always had the idea that sandwiches were good for you and that you ought to be forced fed them before you could begin to sample the real tea time goodies like tinned fruit or cake.  By the time I'd ploughed through all the sandwiches she's made and insisted that I eat I really didn't have any room left for the real food.  My elder brother  (15 years older than me) also had the same idea; perhaps passed on to him from our mother.  He married a Yorkshire lass and in that county the normal thing is to begin the Sunday roast dinner - traditionally roast beef - with a massive Yorkshire pudding EACH that absolutely filled a large dinner plate.  That Yorkshire pudding was then filled with thick gravy.  After you'd ploughed through that lot you had trouble facing the smaller helping or roast beef and the rice pudding to follow that.  Mind you, I've always had trouble facing a rice pudding even when I'd had nothing to fill my stomach beforehand!

Both our girls were very fortunate - even if they tell you otherwise.  On a Sunday afternoon we always STARTED with the really tasty bits and then had the sandwiches if they were wanted.  Oh, Pam and I were real saints!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh!  Something I forgot to mention.  Pam, nearly lady and I were the only ones at my birthday tea; lots of cake and a token sandwich!

For the last couple of blogs I've included some "outlined" photos of this and that (mainly that!) and Ruth has asked me how I achieved the effect,  It's very much "trail and error".  I came across web suite called "".  Topaz specialise in filters for Photoshop, Elements and PaintShop Pro.  The set of filters I used for the effect of outlining with some colour is called "Topaz Adjust 3".  You open this program (obviously!!!!)  and then, bearing in mind what you goal is, you experiment with the various sliders until you achieve what you are looking for.

In the meantime you have the bonus of some very interesting looking photos as you manipulate the sliders,  I've included some more of these photos in this blog.  This time they are adaptations of photos I took at this year's Gosberton Flower Festival.

England cricketers won their FI|RST world championship this week - first world title ever despite the fact that we invented the game, as we did with football and numerous other things like the ball point pen and television.  Just thought I'd have a little plug there.  There were and still are great celebrations from all true Englishmen (and quite a few English women as well).  Can't understand why some folk don't enjoy this game.  Mind you, there are some who drink instant tea instead of the real thing.

Off to Tiverton next week-end for my nephew's ruby wedding anniversary - it's his wife's ruby wedding anniversary as well so that is a useful bonus!!  Doesn't seem like forty years since I married them -more like sixty!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Anyone can....

Heading out for the day today but it's a surprise so I can't tell you where or with whom!!!! 

In the meantime, I've  been busy making some new "anyone can fly" pieces -  as someone just requested one.  I always enjoy going back to my first "anyone can...." creation where "anyone" is a little bird who has spread his wings, ready to fly....but now just needs the courage to let go.....

Yes, when the "anyone can" series started - "anyone" was a bird. 


After this first design, I knew I wanted to create a figure but just wasn't sure how I would do it and what it would look like there was a lag before the next "anyone" piece was created.... but since that time there have been quite a few in the series.

He's such a clever little fellow, inspiring us to try new things.  Here's a few of them: