30 December 2010

"I heard a bird sing in the dark of December..."

December Dusk, Bracelet of Ceramic, Leather, Turquoise, Coral, and Copper
 I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

"We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,"
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

-Oliver Herford

Just like this time last year, I have had a strange burst of creativity recently that seems out of place in the cold, dark weather typical of late December. This year it seems to be jewelry, specifically bracelets, which, unlike necklaces, offer a fairly constrained format that keeps me from getting overwhelmed as I experiment with new techniques.

Another constraint I'm imposing on myself is to use what I have: years ago I remember Christopher Lowell (oh how I loved Interior Motives! It always left me with a smiling heart full of happy) talking about how limited resources can actually spur our creativity, and over the years I have repeatedly found this to be true. In fact, in addition to the creative possibilities I find while poking around in my stash for treasures like the beads and charms in the above bracelet, perhaps the constraints of cold and dark have awakened or highlighted something that I might not notice when the weather is sunny and warm and I'm outside taking pictures of flowers and bugs. Kind of like how a candle is barely noticeable until the lights are dimmed....

Okay, so I won't get too corny on you, but yes, work with what you have -- it always turns out to be much more than you thought. Creativity comes from within; materials help, but nothing happens to them until a spark within you illuminates the possibilities.

I bid you all a happy new year full of creativity and joy.

28 December 2010

Adventures in Sari Silk: Dragonfly Neckpiece

I consider this a signature piece and, if I even offer it for sale, will put a silly price on it so I don't have to part with it anytime soon... I started this piece in August and finished it a few weeks ago, taking time to let the elements come together and to get comfortable with the scale and complexity of the piece. I used 3 strands of sari silk yarn and ribbon, brass chain, an oxizided brass dragonfly (from Patina Queen, one of my favorite suppliers!), an enameled brass dragonfly from Nepal, lampwork glass beads in various shapes and textures, crystal, pearls, glass seed beads, and miscellaneous small gemstones. I have another one in the works that will draw more from the blue-green part of the color spectrum and will probably be more spring-like. In the meantime, more bracelets... stay tuned, I'm feeling creative!

New Directions

One benefit to hibernation is uninterrupted downtime, which sometimes (when I'm lucky) becomes creative time. Yesterday, inspired by creations from two of my favorite jewelry artists, Lorelei and Stephanie, I finally figured out some cool ways to incorporate sari silk into bracelets. Above is one creation, not quite finished (I'd like to add more danglies, aka charms). The millefiore and fancy brass links came from a necklace that I remember my mom wearing back in the 1970s; a few of the links had broken so I thought repurposing the beautiful components would be appropriate. The bracelet below uses tiger eye, dichroic glass, brass, and a scrap of sari silk; it too needs some charms and then will be finished. More pictures to come as I finish more pieces on deck while watching my favorite TV dramas and some cool independent movies on this cloudy day. I hope you all find some creative time in this quiet wintry space.

21 December 2010

A Peaceful Solstice

Kelly Church, Magdalena Mountains, NM, Dec. 2010
The full lunar eclipse very early this morning was only occasionally visible because of moderate cloud cover, but I did get a few glimpses through occasional breaks in the clouds and also noticed the eerie silence that fell as totality began. I had no illusions of getting a great photo given the limitations of my 55-200mm lens (which I might sell), not to mention the inconsistent view of the moon, which kind of took the pressure off and allowed me to just enjoy it.
This morning Dad and I took Lucy to the vet and listened carefully as he described a surgery that essentially involves rebuilding tendons and ligaments, and will help her mobility a lot. The healing time isn't as bad as I thought it might be, so she'll be able to do gentle walks through the winter and (fingers crossed) start hiking with me as I gear up for my summer "quest for the crest" or whatever it will be. Is it possible to hike the whole crestline of the Magdalena Mountains? There's only one way to find out....

Winter Solstice is always such a relief for me. The sun finally stops slipping away, pauses, and slowly returns a bit more every day. Our weather has been quite mild and lovely -- in the 50s and sometimes 60s most days lately -- so the loss of light hasn't hit me as hard as it usually does. Hiking always helps my mood, too, and after more than two weeks of sitting on my butt (to finish coursework) I was aching to hit the trail and let everything else fall away. My hikes on Sunday and today were a bit lonely but now my heart has eased considerably, and I can look forward again to hikes with my best and truest companion.

20 December 2010

Good Thoughts for My Bestest Hiking Buddy

Lucy hiking with me in the Magdalena Mountains, NM, July 2010
Tomorrow I take Lucy to the vet to see if we can do anything for her leg, which was injured when she was hit by a car in 2008 and is deteriorating fast. She's only 7, and she has so much happy spirit in her that it breaks my heart (literally, my chest hurts; sounds corny but there it is) to see her hobble and falter when she so very much wants to run. I hiked without her yesterday and felt terrible leaving her behind, and although I'll always love hiking it feels too solitary without her running along with me, chasing rabbits and deer, patrolling for bear and big cats, and just being my buddy. She goes on walks with my dad out on the property, runs along with the kids when they're out and about, and has helped me get more active again by being both a fun and a safe, protective companion. Not to be too maudlin about it but we can only take so much loss in a year, so please send Lucy good healing thoughts so she can have another 7 or more years with us. I want to hike up to and along the crest of the Magdalena Mountains next summer, and I don't want to do it alone....

Lucy hiking through a creek in Patterson Canyon, Magdalena, NM, June 2010

01 December 2010

A New Creation

Corazón Inflamado, Necklace of lampwork glass and sari silk kumihimo, Anna Lear, 2010
A dear friend gifted me this exquisite lampwork glass heart almost 3 years ago, and I knew something special was in store for it when I found some flaming bright sari silk ribbon at a fiber arts show last summer. Kumihimo (Japanese braidwork) with sari silk is no minor feat, but of course I had to try it and have just loved the results. Put this amazing heart pendant on a plain chain or thin silken cord? No way. As bright and shiny as the silk is, it doesn't upstage but rather complements the heart beautifully. And I'm very pleased to be able to photograph this creation so accurately and artfully....