Saturday, December 31, 2011

Weekly Bird in the hand

Here is the last "grateful" list of the year - my "bird in the hand" for this past week:

Reflections photo by Debasis ~~

  • Reflections. Having time to reflect on the past year and plan for the new year
  • feeling connected to family even though we aren't together physically
  • fun times with friends
  • great California weather
  • yummy food
  • tasty wines
  • the life of John's cousin Andrew, who died on Boxing day.  Always a happy soul.
  • good walks
  • challenges of starting to build a new website and business
  • wonderful Christmas gifts
  • happy memories of Christmases past
  • all my Birdland Creations customers, blog readers/followers, supporters, and online friends/peers. Thanks for being a great part of my 2011.
Wishing you all a healthy, fun-filled, fruitful 2012.

Looking forward to having you in my life in 2012 xx.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Weekly Birds

Here is a slideshow of all the birds that were created as part of the bird a week challenge.

We started the year with 33 members, many of whom had never even made a single bird before.  Not everyone managed to complete a different bird each week, but every bird included was a delight to see.

There are, I think, four of us who did make a different bird each week for the whole year: myself, Joy, Linda and Riet.

It was the first time I had organized anything like this and I'll definitely want to do it again.  I had never met any of the people who joined me in the challenge, but over the year, I feel we've become friends and now know each other's work well.

There are some new challenges starting next year, but I'm going to take it a little easy to begin the year, and just continue with the bird theme - but only one a month.  I know Joy is doing this too, plus another challenge, so we will see how the year transpires.

Thanks for following along with all our birdies and their journeys.   Time to fly now!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review of my "bird a week" challenge

Yesterday I finished my 52nd bird of 2011!  They were all part of my "bird a week challenge".  If truth be told, I made more than 52 birds in the year, but for the challenge, we only counted those that were a new design, and some of my extras were repeats of designs that I'd done before.

Looking back at them, I used 17 different materials to make the 52 birds.  Here are the main media:
  • 18 were made from silver
  • 12 were made from aluminum
  • 5 were made from steel
  • 3 were made from food items
11 of the 17 media I used, I had never tried before, so it was a big learning year.  The new media included encaustics, printing from zinc plates, plaster wrap, wax, and plasticine illustrations.

Most of the birds were "generic" but there were 9 specific species that I made, as follows:
  • 1 eagle
  • 2 bluebirds
  • 2 herons
  • 2 quail
  • 1 robin
  • 3 penguins
  • 1 owl
  • 1 parrot and
  • 1 kingfisher
If I were to choose two techniques that I now wish I'd explored a bit more and tried more birds with, they would both be illustrations - one was a pencil drawing and one was a illustration with plasticine.   

Screaming Eagle - week 1

Great Blue Heron

I would really like to be able to illustrate and as I was lucky enough to get Adobe Illustrator for Christmas, I'm hoping that this is a skill that I can develop in 2012.

Here is a slideshow of all the 52 different birds.  Tomorrow I'll let you know about the others who joined me in the challenge.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

52/52 Bird a week challenge - Given wings, where might you fly?

Gosh, the last week of the year and that means my 52nd bird of the year.  Yes, this year I have made a different bird each week of the year for the "Bird a week challenge" that I started.  To end the year, I wanted my piece to somehow take me into the New Year...and to be an inspiration for what the new year will bring.

And thus, here is: "Given wings, where might you fly?"

They are ear thread earrings of flying silver birds.  Ear threads are my favorite style of earrings and of course, birds are my favorite subject, so it seemed fitting to end the year with favorites.

And the title I find inspiring as it intimates that we all have wings...all we need to do is decide where we want to fly to.  The New Year is bringing lots of new things to my life - new opportunities, new challenges, new experiences - and so I'm going to spread my wings and fly!

It's been wonderful to do this challenge and have other artists join me on the way.  I'll do some summary posts of the the whole challenge over the next couple of days, but in the meantime, click on the links below to see this week's birds.

I hope you'll spread your wings for 2012 too.

Monday, December 26, 2011

White Christmas

Well, we definitely didn't get a White Christmas this year...and I don't know anyone who did. Maybe this will make up for it - my favorite Christmas cartoon! You've no doubt seen it before, but...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all.

Hope you are all having a wonderful day xx

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

51/52 Bird a week - Keep a green tree...

"Keep a green tree in your heart and a singing bird will come"

This week's bird is one I started a while ago, but only finished this week.   It is a lidded box with the sides of the box made from a car license plate that I bent and painted.  

The top and bottom are painted pieces of wood and the whole is then mounted on casters (to add to the whimsy). The lid is adorned with a little singing blue bird on top of a tree branch in the lid.

The bird on the branch with a red heart painted below, symbolizes the quotation "keep a green tree in your heart and a singing bird will come". 

I think it's a lovely quotation - encouraging us to keep an open, fresh heart and good things will happen.

The bird is made from plaster wrap cloth, which I wrote a simple tutorial on using, back in September.

He is my 51st bird this more to come a week today and then I'll have made a different bird each week for the whole year.  There are a few of us on No. 51 so click on the links below to check out their penultimate 2011 bird too:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Weekly bird in the hand

Here is this week's list of things I am grateful for. I think you might notice that there has been a certain theme to my week this week!:

  • Our continuing harvest. Today we picked a fridge load of meyer lemons and about 24 soft persimmons.  We still have more of them for future harvests...and also some guavas.
  • Cooking new recipes. Today I tried a persimmon pudding recipe recommended by Jennifer.  Yummy - I'm just eating my piece now...warm and a little gooey!
  • Cooking extravagantly ie unhealthy dishes, once in a while!  I made Eccles cakes with potted stilton for dinner at a friend's house this week. Gosh was it a wonderful combination.  Not something to eat every week but a couple of times a year - especially around Christmas time, and it really hits the spot.  And I made the puff pastry gluten free and it turned out great.
  • Eating out! I've eaten out so much this week, both at friend's houses and at restaurants. It's lovely to share food with good company.
  • New cookbook!  I get so excited at the thought of some of the recipes...and can't wait to try them.
  • Cold frosty mornings and warm sunny afternoons. It was 71 degrees here yesterday afternoon!
  • Having our friend's dog, Bella, back with us for a couple of weeks.
  • Making lots of sales from my website and Dawanda's.
Hope you've had lots of yummy food this week too.  What was extra-special?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

50/52 Bird a week - March of the penguins

This week's bird - or actually birds - are edible...but I don't think any have been eaten!  It was our book club Xmas lunch on Friday and I signed up to make dessert. I thought it would be nice to make individual desserts for the 10 of us, so I made gluten free ginger and zucchini igloo cakes and penguins from icing!

You may well see a similarity between these penguins and my penguin necklace "Cold hands, warm heart"!

When they were made, they all started playing together. Their favorite game, as you can see from the photos, is "follow the leader", or as they call it "The March of the Penguins".  Off they went, all around my kitchen!

Each one is sculpted from black, white and orange icing - which is made from powdered sugar with gelatine and glycerin. It's very easy to sculpt with.  You stick the parts together with either water or alcohol.

My sculpting of birds and animals in icing actually predates my sculpting in silver, and jewelry making.  In fact, it probably was a big influence in my 3D sculpting with metal clay as opposed to creating more flat pieces of jewelry.

Anyhow - at the bookclub lunch, the igloos were eaten, but everyone took their little penguin home. Some were to be saved for grandchildren, the others were going to sit as decorations for the Christmas holiday season!  Yes, they last quite a while in the open. I have three sat at the bottom of a candle!

With their igloos!
I am making dessert for a party this weekend too, so maybe some more penguins will join the march.....

To view the other birds that have been made on our 50th week of our bird a week challenge, check the links below! Yes, these little penguins are my 50th bird this year!  Only two more to go!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stained glass window bangles

I finished off some more stained glass window bangles today, in blue colors!

As I'm now looking to link back to a previous post regarding the predominantly red window bangles I've made, I realize that I didn't blog about those - only showed you the window photos

Anyhow, today's bangles contrast with the ones you haven't yet seen (!!!) in that they are predominantly blue!  They are based on the windows in Grace cathedral, San Francisco. Beautiful colors and more traditional in design that the others.  I'll show you the red ones another day...soon!

I had good news this week that the Gift Store at Grace Cathedral is going to stock some of my stained glass window necklaces, earrings and bangles...just as soon as I get them there.  It'll be nice to have my work sold where I sing.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weekly bird in the hand

Here is this week's list of things I am grateful for - my "bird in the hand":

Cold Hands, Warm Heart
  • Crisp frosty mornings with sunshine.  Puts some color in your cheeks!
  • Making time to play with food! I made igloo cakes and penguins for my book club Xmas lunch yesterday.  I'll show you them on Wednesday for my "bird a week".
  • A good bird vet.  Poor Harold hasn't been feeling well this week.  Lots of feather loss and not eating. Hoping that the vets advice will sort him out and have him feeling tickety-boo in no time at all!
  • Dinners out with friends.  This time of year it seems we eat out with friends nearly every day!  Lovely to see the friends but next week we need to eat less food!
  • Sad movies.  Watched "Sarah's key" last night. I'd read the book for our bookclub ages ago, but loved watching the movie too.  In fact, the journalist annoyed me much less in the movie than she did in the book! 
  • The anticipation of becoming a grandmother.
  • The excitement of putting up the Xmas tree this afternoon!
Hope your week has been exciting too.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Belinda Bunny

OK, I need to practice saying it.  "Grandchildren." I am struggling with the word, I have to say.  Not that there is any lack of enthusiasm for the arrival of two new babies due in the New Year, it's just that calling them Grandchildren suggests that I will therefore be a grandmother and also suggests that I am old or at least 'older'! And I'm not!!! I am only 46! Way too young to be a grandmother!!! ;-D

Both of John's twin sons are having babies in the New Year.  Craig and Chui are expecting a little girl on New Years Eve and Adam and Alexa are expecting a little boy later in January.  January is going to be quite the exciting and eventful month!

You may recall that last week I introduced you to Chilly Billy - the knitted penguin and blanket that I made for Adam and Alexa's little boy - my soon-to-be-GRANDSON.  Now I'd like you to meet Belinda Bunny (plus blanket!) that I've made for Craig and Chui's little girl - my soon-to-be-GRANDDAUGHTER!

Doesn't she look a sweetie?  I hope she is a good friend for the new baby - a soft, snuggly friend.

The baby's due date falls in the Year of the Rabbit. The year of the rabbit comes every 12 years, but for the first time in 60 years, it is the year of the Golden Rabbit (notice any connection to that fact and Belinda????).  According to the Chinese Zodiac, the rabbit is known as the luckiest of the 12 Chinese astrological signs. People born in the year of the rabbit are generally quiet and good-natured, with the rabbit also symbolizing peace and longevity.

The "golden" or the metal element of the rabbit suggests that people born in Golden Rabbit years also have a real strength inside them and resilience and determination.

Can't wait to meet her!  And I know Belinda is looking forward to meeting another Golden Rabbit soon too!

Any ideas on a name for me that isn't granny, grandma, or grandmother or some other old sounding title????

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

49/52 Bird a week - Love is in the air

A few of my friends have mentioned this week about being single and wanting a new love in their lives next this birdie ring was inspired by them and symbolizes my hope for them, that in the new year, "Love is in the air". Maybe the birds can search out some love for them?

Sculpted in silver, they form an open-styled ring.  These types of rings are very comfortable and secure to wear and also somewhat adjustable - which I really like.  I wear my "sweet nature" one all the time.

If it's what you are looking for, I hope you find some love in the air too.

To see the other birds that have been created this week, please click on the links below:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Close to my heart

I just finished a new footprints necklace today for a customer in England.  It is a gift for someone who loves dogs and ferrets!

I hadn't done a ferret footprint before, so made a photo polymer plate of one and used that to make the impression in the silver clay.

The necklace is therefore reversible with dog footprints on one side and ferret footprints on another.  I called it "close to my heart" as her favorite animals (well, their footprints) will sit close to her heart as she wears the necklace!

Any ferret lovers out there?  I don't think I've ever met a ferret????

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Weekly bird in the hand

This week is another of those weeks when my list of things I am grateful for - my "bird in the hand" - is one item long!

My choice this week is John my husband.

It is our 16th wedding anniversary tomorrow and so I am most grateful for John for being in my life, for being my life, and for our life together.

Happy Anniversary Sweetie xxxxxxxx

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

48/52 Bird a week - Chilly Billy

Who's this peaking out of his blanket to say hello?
It's Chilly Billy!

I hope you'll welcome him as this week's bird for the bird a week challenge.  Yes, a different media and technique.  Knitted (washable!!!) wool!

Actually, Billy used to be Chilly but I knitted him a blanket and now he's not-so-chilly Billy!

I made him for a baby due in the family in January.  If you read my blog, you know that we have two new babes appearing in the new year, one each from John's twin sons.  One is a little girl - and I'll show you her little friend in a few days - and the other is a boy - and Chilly Billy and his blanky are just for him.

It's an exciting time and it was lovely while we were in England to hear all the excitement about the two new births.  I'm hoping Chilly Billy will be a nice snuggly penguin for a new boy babe.

He looks pretty perky and a little naughty actually! Maybe he just likes a bit of fun.  He definitely looks like a cute Billy.

It's been a while since I've knitted so much!  I especially enjoy it when knitting for someone else, as I think of that person all the time I'm knitting.  So Chilly Billy had me set on Adam, Alexa and their special little treasure, as the needles clicked away!

And now - only 4 more birds to do this year to make my 52 total! I wonder what they will be like? I have no idea right now!

Click on the links below to see the other birds that have been born this week from other artists:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mailing items for Christmas

I sell a lot of jewelry to Germany - always have and I hope I always will!  However, the United States first class international shipping to Germany has been horribly slow recently.  I just heard from one patient customer today that her bracelet had finally arrived two months after I had mailed it to her!!

Sadly, there is nothing I can do about the time it takes for delivery.  I truly think it isn't the US slowing things down, but is the customs offices in Germany. They seem to open every single package - not only for Germany but also for other European countries.  It occasionally takes as little as 5 days for deliveries and sometimes it takes 2 months!  It's sad for the customer who is often disappointed if an item is late for an occasion, and I have to say, I hate responding to emails when I am helpless and can do nothing about it.  I feel for the buyer, but tracking is not available to other countries, so I am left only able to encourage patience.

Today I have therefore made the decision that all my packages to Europe and the US will go priority mail from today onwards, instead of first class mail. Priority mail takes 2 - 3 business days in the US and 6 - 10 business days to Europe.  Much better service for my customers - and only a little bit more expensive. 

This means that the last day that I will accept orders for Christmas delivery is:

For the US - December 19th
For European countries - December 11th

Yes, plenty of time for all that shopping yet!  Hope you are getting into the Christmas/Holiday spirit!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weekly bird in the hand

This week's bird in the hand could include lots of things on my list, but instead, I've just decided to choose one thing that I am grateful for - and that is my blog "Merry Go Round" friends.

I started the Merry Go Round on September 25th, 2008 as a monthly blog post where a group of artists/craftswomen could all blog on the same topic on the last Friday of every month.  There have always been between 8 and 12 of us blogging. Originally the group formed by my inviting people who also sold on Dawanda and who's work I liked. They then invited others to join in and so it continued with new people joining when others left. Sadly, I have never met any of the "merriers" face to face.

There are 4 of us who have stayed the test of time from the beginning - myself, Mariana, Sara and Agathe.

I've now decided to leave the group, as things are changing and my mind just doesn't seem quite in it anymore.  But I am SO grateful for all that the merry go round has done for me.  I have "met" some wonderful people, made great friendships, felt supported, felt inspired, felt understood, felt cared for and many other things too.  It's been a wonderful group of people.

Our questions/topics each month have made me think carefully and differently about subjects and I've enjoyed the challenge of writing down my thoughts and ideas.

It has been a great journey during which we've seen each other and our businesses change and develop.  I hope to do something similar again in the future, as it truly has been a fascinating experience for me.

So thank you to all the present and past Merriers.  I hope the merry go round keeps spinning and you all stay merry. xxx

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving
for being in my life xx

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

47/52 Bird a week challenge - Home to Roost

This week's bird - "Home to roost", is timely for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, we are flying home today, back to the US.  And secondly, tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US and a time when a lot of people go home to share the celebrations with family.  So lots of people, as well as birds, will be going home to roost.

I made this bangle as a gift for a friend actually. The picture is of birds flying home in the evening at Lake Huron where she has a summer home. Sure enough, the lake house is a real place for the family to gather - both in the past when her parents were alive, and now also with the rest of the family. 

I got to visit there a couple of years ago and it was such a lovely homey place. No wonder the family go home to roost there.

The bangle is made from color anodized aluminum - or maybe as I'm typing this in the UK, that should be Colour anodised aluminium!

Hope you are going home to roost for Thanksgiving.

Here are links to other birds that have been created this week as part of our challenge:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Weekly bird in the hand

Here's this week's bird in the hand - the things I am grateful for:

  • Spending time (and eating out too much!) with family and friends
  • Going to see new properties - both ones that we might buy in the Cotswold's water park and also ones that John's sons are building in Hereford
  • Enjoying a yummy cider in a pub
  • Genius gluten free bread
  • Rachel's ginger yoghurt
  • Getting to see the new nursery ready for the Fresle-Baillie baby in January 
  • Finishing some knitting projects
  • Going shopping in the UK and seeing lots of different things
  • Getting into the Christmas spirit after wrapping up all our pressies for friends and family over here
  • Enjoying Cheltenham where our apartment is
  • No rain in England during our stay!!!!!!!
Yes, I admit. A lot of this week's items are food and drink related!  It's so nice when we come to England to eat different things and they always have such a great selection of gluten free items. I'm still trying to find the new Genius gluten free pastry over here....and so my search continues for the next couple of days until we fly home on Wednesday.  Maybe that will be on next week's "bird in the hand" list????

One sad part of our week was that the buyer of our apartment here pulled out of the sale two days before we exchanged contracts!  We were due to pack all our stuff up on Monday and put it in storage but alas, that won't happen now. But the good side is that we have sorted everything out and it is already to be packed up when needed.

I hope your week has been yummy too, and full of family and friends. xx

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

46/52 Bird a week challenge - Kingfisher

This week's bird a week is a special gift.  It was my parents' Golden Wedding anniversary (50 years) on 11.11.11. so I sculpted this Kingfisher sitting on a reed,  in silver for them.

And the reason for a kingfisher?  When my parents go for a walk in Lincoln, where they live, whenever they see a kingfisher on the river, they always think of me and think that I am close.

And so I thought if they had a kingfisher sculpture, whenever they looked at it, they would always know that I was close to them, never mind how many miles away I may be.

The symbolism of a kingfisher is also appropriate as it is a long-time symbol of peace and the promise of abundance, new warmth, prosperity and love.  These are all wishes that I send to them as they continue their married life together.  The Kingfisher is also known as the Halycon and I'm sure they have many memories of Halycon days together from these past 50 years.

So remember mum and dad, like the kingfisher, I'm watching over you and always close to you.

If you want to see what other birds have been created this week, click on the links below: