Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Morning Coffee and Etsy - 03/29/09

Good morning all! It feels good to be back on schedule. It really is Sunday morning here in the Eastern Time Zone, and I really am drinking coffee and pondering what to write about while I am waiting to catch a treasury when it opens up in an hour or so. Eureka! One of the picks for my 'Clouds of White and Golden Honey' treasury has sparked the subject for this morning's post. Earlier this week, I received an email from Abby Horowitz that she had featured my Lush Pearl Dangles in her spotlight on the Found-Handmade website.

I never tire of looking at other artist's creations, so of course I took a peek at Abby's shop. There I found this amazing white turquoise Buddha pendant, along with many other treasures that reminded me of my love for Tibet, the Himalayan mountains and the teachings of the Dalai Lama. One of my favorite movies of all time is Seven Years in Tibet, which adds Brad Pitt to these wonderful things - does it get any better than that? (but I digress....) This movie is the true story of Heinrich Harrer, and his experiences as a tutor and friend to the young Dalai Lama in Lhasa, Tibet during WWII. Hans Harrar's books are on my 'short list' of books I want to read the minute I get a chance.

What fun I've had this morning searching for items related to the Dalai Lama and Tibet on Etsy. One of the most meaningful is the mixed media piece titled Tibetan Reliquery by Kage Harp of Rusted Wings Gallery. This piece is a poignant reminder of the sad situation of the Tibetan people.

I also did a search on 'Tibet' which brought me to the Silk Road Jewelry shop.I love the combination of white and gold (I guess you probably figured that out from my treasury choices!) and this gorgeous Chank shell pendant is a stunning example of these colors. (A Chank is a Conch from the Indian Ocean) In this pendant, the lovely shell is surrounded on all sides by heavily repoussee'd brass. It was handmade in Kathmandu, Nepal by a skilled artisan.

I love how the Silk Road shop supports small artisans from around the world. Here are Designer Anne Singer's own words about her art: "We gather unique handmade elements from artisans in Africa and Asia and combine them with genuine gemstones and a variety of metals to produce unique, one-of-a-kind wearable art. SRJ's purchase of their artisanal works helps to support many extended families living in difficult circumstances.

When you purchase a piece of Silk Road Jewelry, you are also helping to provide a livelihood for Tibetan Refugee/artisans in Nepal, as well as women and extended families in Afghanistan, Bali, Ghana, India, Israel, Morocco, Niger, Tibet, Turkey, Yemen....."

Another piece I love from Anne's shop is a stunning turquoise necklace with a focal pendant that was made in Adil Qazi’s shop in Kathmandu, Nepal. He and his brothers are Tibetan artisans living in Nepal since the Chinese Invasion, and the sale of their works provide a comfortable living for their large extended family.

All these gorgeous pieces have me inspired to go down to the studio and start creating, so I'll finish the last of my coffee and say goodbye for now. Hope to have pictures of some of my new work, as well as the custom pieces that I've been working on in the next few days. And maybe some more copper fusing...... and ..... and...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Night at 1000 Markets - 03/28/09

Yay for categories!!

Things are getting exciting over at 1000 Markets these days. Not only is there buzz about a "Grand Opening" this Spring, maybe even in April, but categories have finally arrived!! (If you aren't yet convinced that 1000 Markets is going to be the best handmade shopping site in the world, read this interview) The artists and admins are working hard to get all the category names finalized and our products sorted into them. I've always loved 1000 Markets as an artist, but as a shopper I was always afraid I might be missing something great because I couldn't browse by product categories. When I'm in the mood I want to see every single one of whatever it it I'm looking for!

Even though the categories aren't fully stocked yet, I've already found things I never knew were there. Or re-found things I forgot were there. Like this great clock from Mad Tea Party. This shop was one of the very first I ever discovered at 1000 Markets, and it was love at first sight. I could decorate an entire room around this clock!

And speaking of decorating, I also found this lamp titled 'Touch of Whim' in the shop. It would be completely perfect in my living room. This one is definitely on my wish list, right under the clock!

I also discovered that Mad Tea Party is a member of a great new market - Magical Talents, where I rediscovered Karen Sugarman's amazingly beautiful Peruvian Pink Opal Parfait necklace. This one just leaves me speechless - I can't stop looking at it! A year or two ago I made a bracelet out of gorgeous pink opal beads, and it would be just exquisite with this necklace. (hmmm, I need to go find that bracelet and wear it!)

Another piece of Karen's that I adore is 'Alexendra', another piece made of dreamy pink, and highlighted with citrine and pearls, and a lovely, regal focal pendant.

Karen's pink lovlies put me in the mood for more pink, so tonight's 1000 Markets Search Engine find is the word "pink".

And who wouldn't want a pink leather collar complete with jewels for their sweet little puppy? I think my Roxie dog would just love this! It's from Greenbelts' shop, and is made from a recycled full grain leather belt and pink rhinestones.

And on that pink note, I will close for now. I am falling asleep at the keyboard, a wee side effect from my lovely morning of gardening in the light misty rain. Picked the first bouquet of the year - Pink tulips and purple money plant. Good night!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Morning Coffee and Etsy - 03/22/09

My apologies to my fellow Etsians for the unscheduled break in Etsy finds. I am once again back on schedule. I must say, while some may complain about the size and the quality of Etsy, I continue to be fascinated by what can be found there. I decided to go on a little adventure this morning and search for fabulous, over-the-top expensive jewelry, just to see what I could find.

One of the first things I happened across that I think I totally need is this pair of handcrafted Rose Colored Glasses by Michelle Robison. Not over the top, or completely out of reach price-wise at all, these little glasses will come in handy when looking at the remainder of the lovelies I am posting today.

Also in Michelle's shop is her 10 carat tanzanite and chrome diopside Fairy Fantasy necklace which is a tad bit out of my price range, but lovely, none the less, and completely hand made. When I wear my rose-colored glasses, price is never a problem, anyway! Michelle has a BFA from Defiance College and has been a studio sculptor since 1992. Her background in sculpting is obvious when looking at her beautiful Art Nouveau style pieces. She also sculpts one of a kind artist dolls, which can be found here.

Another stunning find is the incredible gold wire-wrapped pendant titled "Incident at Gate 7" from the shop of Sarah at Paradigm Shift Jewelry which showcases a jaw-dropping watermelon tourmaline stone. It even has its own video! (flash version here)

In the shop of the amazingly talented Joan Dulla, you will find the completely mesmerizing "I Can Wear a Rainbow" necklace. This masterpiece has been crocheted out of niobium wire which is colored to match the Swarovski Crystal used. The piece won 2005 American Vision Award and one is also in the collection of the Swarovski Corportion.

If you prefer the classic and understated elegance of gold and pearls, then you will love the gorgeous 18kt gold hand crocheted tube that is encrusted with 3mm pearls. Inside the tube are two 10mm pearls that move freely - something to keep your hands occupied when you are feeling fidgety.

And lastly, I leave you with the perfect artist's statement of our times - the "We Might as Well Wear It" necklace, made of gold colored crocheted wire and, what else - MONEY! You may order this one with 14kt gold wire, if you prefer. On that note, my friends, put on your Rose Colored Glasses, and Have a Wonderful Sunday.......

Saturday Night at 1000 Markets - 3/21/09

With the arrival of Spring, and Easter just around the corner, I thought my first spring garden photos, plus a bit of whimsy and rabbits were in order for the 1000 Markets shopping post this week. I love sweet little rabbits (unless they're eating my garden plants) and I was thrilled when I saw this great garden bench at our local salvage store a couple of years ago.

You can see what a messy gardener I am, too. I never clean up the previous year's garden until spring so the birds have goodies to eat all winter.
Isn't that a lovely reason to not do the fall 'cleanup' chores? My little tulip patch is getting ready to bloom, though, so it's time to get busy now!

It's also time to start dreaming of my wonderful fragrant Rugosa rose blooms - my sweet Moje Hammarburg is off to a great start already. Check out those thorns, too. (but I love her anyway)

Now, on to the spring shopping....

I fell in love with the whimsical art in the Blue Dog Rose shop the instant I saw it. I love the delightful creatures peeking out everywhere in her paintings. In my little dream world, this is how things would be - all the different creatures (including us, ha ha) living together in perfect harmony. My favorite painting is her Crossing the Lake limited edition print. I can just see a child's room decorated in this theme - or better yet, my studio wall! Her rabbits remind me of the rabbit in the wonderful story of The Velveteen Rabbit, recently mentioned in Nicola's last blog post.

Another painting that caught my eye is the Mushrooms and a Nap limited edition print. This one reminds me of my introduction to wild mushrooms on one of our family vacations near Rhinelander, Wisconsin. The family in the cabin next door to ours happened to be mushroom experts, and they took us on a mushroom hunt in the woods. We dined that evening on sauteed mushrooms that made me a mushroom lover for the rest of my life. One of these days I'm going to get someone to take me out hunting for the delectable Morels that everyone loves so much. Tennessee has wonderful wild plants, including great morels, so I'm hoping to find some one of these days.

Or, how about a dozen fabulously decorated Spring Mix cookies from Cake Box Cookies? I have been dreaming of some cookies from this shop ever since they first opened their 1000 Markets storefront. Not only are they beautiful, but their customers say they taste great, too, with just the right amount of soft and sweet, plus a hint of lemon. YUM!

If you're still dreaming of last year's garden, here is a perfect necklace for you from Bluhealer's shop. Called "Dreaming of Before" it is a beautiful glass vessel pendant, adorned with pansies and rosebuds. In fact, she has several other pansy pieces in her "Winter Garden" collection, and every one of them is gorgeous!

Not only does Bluhealer do lovely glasswork, she also has beautiful enamel work as well. (I am dying to try enamel myself!). These lovely "Summer Fields" earrings whisper of the warmth that is yet to come with lovely clover green enamel on 18 gauge copper adorned with dainty flower murrini.

So, that is all for now, as my own garden is calling my name. I must go out commence my new year of gardening.......see you all later!

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Goodness, Where Did the Week Go??

I can't believe it is Friday already! I've barely been out of the studio all week, and am finally almost caught up on orders. Not caught up on gallery items, though. I am just so excited about these new opportunities - the two new galleries I mentioned before, plus a little boutique in a mall, and a museum gift shop that is opening in June. Oh, and I will be having a booth at our local farmer's market which opens in April. They have added artisans this year, and I've also joined the new board for this rapidly growing local market. I'm also hoping to sell cut flowers and herbs from my garden - we'll see how that goes. My plan is to use the garden for excerise - hopefully this will work, since my elliptical trainer is still gathering dust in the garage. Too bad metal smithing isn't good exercise, ha ha.....

All of the above is my excuse as to why I haven't blogged all week. And, oh, yes, there are those pesky taxes that are becoming more urgent with each day that passes - eeeek! I did finish the citrine ring, though, and have a new set of stacking rings with labradorite and green moonstone, and the start of a new series I'm calling 'Silver Tuxedo' ready to photo. So, here is the photo of the citrine ring, which I also finally listed in my 1000 Markets shop today. And now, more caffeine and down to the studio. See you all later!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Saturday Night at 1000 Markets

I'm so excited - I just discovered the Come to Asheville Market at 1000 Markets! Asheville is just 'over the mountain' from me, and it is wonderful to be able to meet so many wonderful artists that are practically in my back yard! In fact, one of my favorite places is in the River Arts District - Earthspeak Arts. Whenever I can afford it, I take a class there. The last one I took was on reticulation, and I had a blast, plus I learned a wonderful new technique. That was over a year ago already - it's high time to take another one!!

On to the great shopping......Of course, the great pottery in Eileen and Marty Black's Potter's Mark Ltd. shop is the first thing I noticed. I adore the Mad Hatter's Teapot - not only the shape, but the great rich color, which is an ancient Japanese Tenmoku glaze.
Another great piece is the Earthtone Fin Pot, which was hand built, with each fin added one by one. This piece would look completely at home on my dining room table filled with pinecones from my yard.

Small worlds, and an old friend found...

Now, here is where today's story gets really exciting (to me, at least, ha ha). I was browsing through the market and noticed a unique and fascinating bracelet named The Accountant's Daughter. This piece is a study in different metal techniques, all executed to perfection. I noticed the name of the shop, Relics of a New Age, and thought "what a great name - it perfectly describes the style of this work."

Then I saw the name of the shop owner - Una Barrett. Turns out that this is indeed the daughter of the person who gifted me with a pair of her handmade earrings way back when I was a country inn owner/chef, and had no idea that 'regular people' could actually create jewelry! Of course, the last time I saw her, Una was probably 10 years old, and Una's mom was my assistant chef at the inn. She made the most fabulous soups on the planet, and I couldn't have lived without her during the inn years. I lost track of her after selling the inn, but I often think of her since I now make a living as a jewelry artist. And how ironic that her daughter Una is also a metalsmith!! I can't wait to get back in touch with her! What a small world this is, made even smaller by places like 1000 Markets!

The Come to Asheville market is also brimming with gorgeous paintings and photography as unique and beautiful as is the Western NC area. A couple of my favorites are from a new series by Lisa Ringelspaugh Irvine. Here are her words about her inspiration for this series: "I have spent many evenings in downtown Asheville, NC watching magic happen between people. This is one in a new series of paintings celebrating that magic."

Lisa's paintings do indeed capture the magic that I have enjoyed, as well, on my many trips to Asheville's ever so browseable downtown. Old Europe is another one I love that makes you feel like you are right there. In fact, I think it's about time for a weekend trip to Asheville to see what's new in the shops downtown and go back to the fabulous Indian restaurant we found the last time we were there. And if you all are too far away to visit Asheville in person, do make sure to browse the rest of the wonderful shops in the Come to Asheville Market. You are sure to find something you love there!

And now I'm off to compose an email to Una's mom to say hello - bet she'll be surprised! See you all later!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rainy Afternoons, Spaghetti, and new Pebble Road Series

Well, after a few glorious warm days, we are back to cold and rain, so no gardening this weekend. But, my camelia is blooming anyway - yay! I thought maybe I wouldn't get any flowers this year because of the terrible cold back last month. I think it did kill a lot of the buds, but its trying its best now.

It's just as well I can't get out in the garden just yet - I'm too busy making jewelry. I got a call from another gallery this morning that had my work recommended to them from one of my current galleries. I was thrilled to be able to put my work in another gallery - this one is in downtown Chattanooga - definitely going to have to do a road trip to visit, as I love the arts district there. And I should so not be on the computer now, but down in my studio working!!

With the cold and rain outside, I decided I would cook a bit of warm comfort food. I made up a meat version of my old standby vegetarian spaghetti. This recipe goes back to one of the first friends I made when I moved to Tennessee from Chicago back in 1980. I joined a hiking group, and met my friend Jan.

We used to make this spaghetti (with tofu instead of meat) in her kitchen while planning our next group backpacking trip at her kitchen table. Backpacking is one of the reasons I moved to Tennessee in the first place - I really need to make time to go hiking again! I found this list of trails today, and I've only been on 12 of these hikes. Alum Cave Bluffs is a definite favorite. Time to dig out my old pictures I think. Anyway, I've now had a late lunch of yummy homemade sauce over sprouted wheat spaghetti (really great flavor - try it, you'll love it!). I finally wrote down how I make it - here's the recipe:

Cheryl's Spaghetti

1 lb lean hamburger or firm tofu
3 carrots, peeled
1 large sweet onion
2 medium cloves garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste

1 1/2 tablesppons oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 rounded teaspoon sugar

shredded fresh parmesan

1. Coarsely chop onion and carrot, add olive oil to warm dutch oven and saute until onions are translucent.

2. Add hamburger or tofu, saute until hamburger is no longer pink. Add oregano, basil, black pepper, salt and sugar.

3. Put garlic through a garlic press, add to pot. Add tomatoes and tomato paste - make sure to chop the peeled tomatoes into small pieces.

4. Let simmer slowly for 1 hour (or however long you have, less is okay). Serve over whole wheat pasta, and garnish with shredded parmesan.

Now I'm ready to put in a productive afternoon and evening at the bench. Thought I'd show you the latest little goodies I finished up while I was working on my Etsy orders.

This is a new series of sterling silver 'every day wear' pieces that have been textured and oxidized. I'm calling the series "Pebble Road" - a pair of mini hoops, and a matching wrapped oh pendant. Next is a set of stacking bangles, I think. Sorry no pictures yet of the Mountain Sunrise ring - finishing it today, I think, unless I get distracted by something else, ha ha.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. I'll be back later with the Saturday Night at 1000 Markets finds, unless I stay down in the studio too late again. In that case, I'll see you all tomorrow morning!

Monday, March 9, 2009

What? No Sunday Coffee and Etsy?

Sunday Morning Coffee and Etsy will be back as usual next week, I promise! I was busy yesterday working on some Monday Morning Bling, ha ha..... Yes, I was downstairs playing with my new pretties instead of blogging yesterday. Saturday's mail brought a couple of faceted stones - sky blue topaz, and a rainbow moonstone. Ever since Jen got me started thinking about setting faceted stones I've been itching to get going on a few. And to help me along, there has been a great thread at Orchid about the ins and outs of getting the prongs perfectly smooth so they don't snag on things.

I started with the 8mm round sky blue topaz - what a gorgeous pale blue it is! I used my favorite patterned wire for the shank, and I am calling this one 'Sweet Blue Skies of Spring'. I got in a big hurry to set the stone (patience is not my best virtue) and didn't check my solder seam on the shank after I soldered on the setting, so the seam is visible inside the ring.

That means this one is all mine, mine, mine!! I'm generally not the 'bling' type, but I really like this one. I think I will put the design in my Etsy shop and see how it does. Now I'm going to have to get some smaller stones and prong settings and do some shiny, bling-y stacking rings! And today, I hope to get to finish the Irai Citrine one that I talked about the other day. That one will be on a hammered, wavy-top shank. But first I'd better get going on the day's orders to take to the post office. Still really busy in the shop, so I'm off to 'work' now!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Saturday Night at the Market - 03/08/09

I went to bed early last night, so I'd be ready to enjoy the great spring day today, therefore no midnight market shopping last night. I'm shopping hearty this morning, though, with my cup of coffee and gorgeous warm sunshine! I am just itching to get out in the mountains with my camera. The picture above is a beautiful trillium from the Asheville, Any Way You Like It website. I'm so lucky to live near this great city and the nearby mountains. On to the shopping now...

Continuing with the idea of highlighting different techniques each week, (forgot about that last week, oops..) this week we are looking at doll making. I once worked with someone who made exquisite Victorian dolls, and I was always in total awe of her work. I decided to search 1000 Markets for dolls and see what wonders are being created.

The first one I found is not exactly a Victorian beauty, but I can definitely identify with her - meet '50 at the Beach' from Crazy Art Dolls' studio. She was created from sculpey clay, and is described as a "seasoned older women who feels self-confident in her bikini and sunscreen. You can see her down at the beach soaking up the local color and checking out the younger men."

Ha, ha - I may not be self-confident in a bikini, but checking out the younger men sounds like a good way to spend some time! Too bad the nearest beach is probably 300 miles from here, oh well... maybe I can kiss a frog instead, like this adorable daddy frog with his little tadpole, another wonderful clay piece from Crazy Art Dolls.

Then we have Major Thimmes, a stuffy old British gentlemen on his way to the golf course. Wonder what he'd think of Miss 50 at the Beach? The Major is from Studio 2n3d, and has been created using needle sculpting and paper clay techniques. He "likes to have a pint, smoke his pipe, and brag about the day's near misses, hole-in-one, and of course the other guy's mulligans."

And I completely adore "Dancing Her Dream", also from Studio 2n3d. I think I'm going to make this my motto - I am definitely 'dancing my dream' these days! This joyful little doll is just the perfect expression of pure happiness - we should all be dancing our dreams!

And speaking of sunshine and happiness and dancing, today's 1000 Markets' Search Engine Find is based on the words 'yellow, sun, happy', and brought up this perfect little card from Emerlye Arts paper shop. Take a minute to check out the beautiful paper art in her shop - I especially love her Visionary Themes collection.

That's all for now, as I must get the day going. Many pretties to make today!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Works in Progress, White Chocolate, and a Thank You

I've been busy as a bee in my Etsy store lately, and I'm sooo happy for that! Sometimes I think I must have been crazy to quit my day job and take such a risk, espcially in times like these, but I think it just might work! I'm working on a wholesale order for a little shop in a mall - handmade in a mall, how great is that!! Yay for handmade! I'm also getting ready to teach a class tomorrow - Introduction to Fire - which focuses on fusing fine silver. I'm really looking forward to it. Fusing is how I got my start with the torch, and it will be fun to 'pass the torch' to others....(sorry 'bout the pun, could't resist)

Also wanted to say thank you to my blog friends who have tagged me and sent me several lovely awards!! I promise I'll be posting and sending out my tags soon - I'm looking forward to spreading the blog love to some great new blogs I've come across lately!

Lots of things on the bench this week too. I'm working on a custom order with a prong set stone. Thanks to Jen, I've been pushed to finally get going on using my little stash of faceted stones. I've got a ring planned with a gorgeous 8mmm Irai Citrine. That one will be called Mountain Sunrise. Hoping to get it done this weekend after Saturday's class, along with the labradorite one started a while back.

I've been working on a buttercup pendant for a customer this week, too, and now I think I'm going to do something with pansies next. Check out all the tools that go into one teeny little buttercup.....sheesh!

And then I've got a couple of copper leaves going. This one will be called Dragonfly Spring, and have either a blue topaz or rainbow moonstone "raindrop" on the leaf. Probably the topaz, I think, kind of like April showers.

I think this burst of new things is fueled by the fact that I ran out of tea, and am back on coffee this week. Out of cream, too, so I melted squares of Green and Black's organic white chocolate (left from Christmas baking projects) in it. Wow, unexpectedly delicious!! I really didn't even think I liked white chocolate all that much, but this is just totally fabulous. It has 40% cacao in it, so there is a definite chocolate taste, and it also has a lot of real vanilla bean flecks in it, along with milk, so it actually is like cream when you put it in coffee. I'm going to have to make some white chocolate chunk cookies with this stuff - or maybe some of the incredible looking White and Dark Chocolate Mousse. And then eat a lot of salad.........

See you guys later, gotta get to "work"!