26 February 2011

Welcome to the 3rd Bead Soup Blog Party!

What is a Bead Soup Blog Party? Each beader was paired up with another jewelry designer and tasked with sending the following:
~ A focal
~ A special clasp (not just a lobster claw)
~ Some coordinating spacers or beads

Using the focal and the clasp was mandatory, but we could use anything from our own stash to round out the rest, and choose to use the coordinating beads or not.

Here's what I made!

Bead Soup Blog Party Necklace #1 of polymer clay focal, lentils, and rounds (from partner Alison, aka EarthTonesOnline), denim lapis, seeds, Hessonite garnet, glass seed beads, and copper

Bracelet of EarthTones lentils, Beadfreaky ceramic button,
denim lapis, seeds, and copper
This is my second Bead Soup Blog Party, and WOW did I have fun with my bead soup ingredients! Partner Alison sent me some of her beautifully made polymer clay beads and a focal along with some denim lapis rounds, vibrant orange Hessonite garnet, copper rounds, a cool copper clasp, some crescent-moon seed or wood beads, and a brass rose and length of chain. I saved the latter two for another project I'm working on (which also involves some of Alison's beads; I had fun shopping on her Etsy page!) and parlayed everything else into no less than four different pieces! I so loved the "Adobe" rounds and lentils she sent me that I bought more from her because I just had to make a matching set...
Earrings: EarthTones rounds,
glass leaves, crystal, copper
I love earthtones but haven't used much in the sienna/brown range lately, so it was a bit of a challenge to work in this palette. The perfect blue in Alison's beads helped a lot; along with the denim lapis rounds she sent to complement the polymer clay beads, I used a bunch from my stash. I also used glass and crystal, as shown in these earrings, and added a lot of copper from my collection -- Alison's beads go beautifully with copper, as you can see, whether it's oxidized or not. I also did a bit of embellishment of both focal pieces; on Alison's wonderful nut bead in the top picture I rubbed a bit of gold Rub 'n Buff to bring out some highlights and help the focal blend in with the other components, and on the Beadfreaky ceramic pendant below I used acrylic paints and a bit of the Rub 'n Buff, finishing both with some Renaissance Wax to seal them up.

Bead Soup Blog Party Necklace #2 of polymer clay rounds and lentils (from partner Alison, aka EarthTonesOnline), denim lapis, bronzite, copper, silk/nylon ribbon, and altered ceramic pendant (from Beadfreaky)
HUGE thanks to Lori Anderson of Pretty Things for setting up the party; she put in a huge effort to make sure everything ran smoothly, and I especially appreciate that she has provided such a fun opportunity for us to meet fellow jewelry artists and bloggers! Here are the other participants -- enjoy the party! I know I can't wait to see what everyone else has created!

1.  Lori Anderson, Pretty Things
2. Kitty Durmaj, Perles and Life 
3.  Michelle Heim, Life In the Bead Lane 
4.  Lisa Petrillo, Lucid Moon Studio
5.  Anitra Gordy, Leelu Creations
6.  Paige Maxim, Paige Maxim Designs
7.  Marianna Boylan, Pretty Shiny Things
8.  Cheryl Roe, BeadRoe
9.  Heidi Post, Ex Post Facto
10.  Cindy Wimmer, Sweet Bead Studio

11.  Terri Gauthier, Blooming Ideas
12.  Rachel Walsh, Balanced Crafts
13.  Marian Hertzog, M's Place
14.  Mary McGraw, MK's Musings
15.  Sarabeth Burke, Chronicles of Sarita
16.  Deci Worland, Gem Trails 
17.  Erin Prais-Hintz, Treasures Found
18.  Laura Zeiner, Stick Lizard Designs
19.  Kristin Latimer, MJM Jewelry Designs
20.  Cathryn Brooks-Williams, Chile Cats

21.  Holly Westfall, Silver Rose Designs
22.  Janna Harttgen, Palima-Lim 
23.  Libby Leuchtman, Libby Leu
24.  Rebecca Anderson, Songbeads
25.  Deb Hunter, Living On Air
26.  Diana Ptaszynski, Suburban Girl Studio
27.  Jennifer VanBenschoten, VanBeads 
28.  Margot Potter, The Impatient Crafter
29.  Cyndi Lavin, Beading Arts
30.  Courtney Breul, Beads by Breul

31.  Stefanie Teufel, Stefanie's Sammelsurium
32.  Patricia Gasparino, My Life Under the Bus
33.  Tari Khars, Pearl and Pebble
34.  Kristi Bowman-Gruel, Kristi Bowman Design
35.  Jayne Capps, Mama's Got to Doodle
36.  Becky Fairclough, Chameleons Designs
37.  Evie and Beth McCord, EB Bead & Metal Works
38. Lynne Bowland, Islandgirl's Insights
39.  Barbara Lewis, Painting With Fire
40.  Lorelei Eurto, Inside the Studio

41.  Stacy Hartis, Sissy & Jack's
42.  Jennifer Cameron, Glass Addictions
43.  Marcie Abney, La Bella Joya 
44.  Johanna Rhodes, Fire Phoenix Creations
45.  Nan Emmett, Spirit Rattles 
46.  Melissa Mesara, One Eared Pig  
47.  Amanda Davie, Articulations
48.  Cherin Poovey, Lanyard Lady
49.  Virginia Joste, ViviBijoux

50.  Andrew Thornton, The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
51.  Lori Dorrington, Lori's Glassworks
52.  Melanie Brooks, Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
53.  Kate Gardenghi, Tropical Blonde
54.  Serena Trent, PinkIce Jewel's Blog
55. Malin de Koning, Beading by Malin de Koning
56.  Shai Williams, Shaiha's Ramblings
57.  Francy Inman, 8 Second Studio 
58.  Amy Freeland, Copper Diem
59.  Lisa Liddy, Joolz By Lisa

60.  Sandi Lee James,  Do Be Do Bead Do
61.  Mary Harding, Mary Harding Bead Blog 
62.  Stacey Curry, Star Hitched Wagon
63.  Leslie Gidden, Mad Maggie Designs
64.  Elisabeth Auld, Beads For Busy Gals
65.  Niky Sayers, Silver Nik Nats
66.  Linda Djokic, Lutka and Co.
67.  Tracy Bell, Copper, Glass, and Recycled Trash
68.  Laurel Steven, Rue's Daftique
69.  Ingrid McCue, Wrapped In Silver

70.  Birgitta Lejonklou, Create With Spirit
71.  Diana Hawkey, Diana Hawkey
72.  Norma Turvey, Moonlit Fantaseas
73.  Jeanette Ryan, Jeanette Blix
74.  Jackie Ryan, Silver Lodge Gems
76.  Debbie Goering, Prairie Emporium 
77.  Valerie Norton, Hot Art 
78.  Jana Trupovniece, Stories of the Secret Garden  
79.  Amy Severino, Amy Beads 

80.  Emma Thomas, Fred Beans Nook
81.  Karen Zanco, Everyday Gypsy
82.  Suzann Sladcik Wilson, Beadphoria
83.  Janet McDonald, Singing Woods
84.  Dana James, Dana's Jewelry Designs
85.  Kristina Johansson, Wild Roses and Blackberries
86.  CJ Bauschka, CJ Bauschka
87.  Angela Barribea, Re: Angela Rae
88. Marcy Lamberson, Studio Marcy
89.  Tanya Floyd, Glass Migrations

90.  Lisa Kavanaugh, Beading Bliss
91.  Sue Hodgkinson, Hello Gorgeous 
92.  Jenni Connolly, Jenni's Bead 
93.  Nally Parfyonova, Nally's Creations 
94.  Karyn White, Releases By Rufydoof  
95. Emanda Johnson, Artemisia Studio 
96.  Sandy Richardson, Sandy's Coloring Box
97.  Cindy Dolezal,  Cindy Dolezal Designs 
98.  Stacie Stamper, Park Avenue
99. Mallory Hoffman, For the Love of Beads

101.  Nicole Valentine-Rimmer, N. Valentine Studio
102.  Jacinta Meyers, Jamberrysong's Creations 
103.  Charlene Gary, Gray Girl Studios
104.  Rubiee Hayes, Glitter and Keys Galore
105.  Marge Beebe, Rock Creek Creations
106.  Elizabeth Freeman, Turquoise Sky
107.  Shelby Foxwell, Sundown Bead Designs Rhetoric
108.  Lynda Moseley, Diva Designs
109.  Grace Danel,  Grace Beading
110.  Lois Moon, Que Onda Quitman

111.  Agnes Shapiro, Beader Bubbe 
112.  Terry Carter, Tapping Flamingo 
113.  Judy Glende, Judith B. Designs
114.  Mary Ellen Parker, Bee Tree By Me
115. Barbara Bechtel, Second Surf
116.  Charlene Sevier, The Bead Dreamer
117. Alice Craddick, Alice's Beads and Baubles 
118.  Cory Celaya, Art With Moxie 
119.  Ronda Adams, The Ravished Heart 
120.  Sandi Volpe, Sandi Volpe Designs 

121. Anna Lear, The Laughing Raven  <--You are here! 
122. Susie Hibdon, Vintagesusie & Wings  
123.  Amanda Austin, Sea Shore Glass 
124.  Jennifer Velasquez, Jen Judd Rocks 
125.  Hazel Ward, All Those Things 
126.  Brenda Salzano, Salzanos 
127.  Dee Gordon, Runako Designs by Dee 
128.  Anna Denisova, Anita-M 
129.  Margaret Saari, Mags-Jewelry

130.  Genea Crivello-Knable, Genea Beads 
131.  Penny Neville, Copper Penny
132.  Angela Blasingame, Hopemore
133. Helena Fritz, Beadwork by H's Blog
134. Stephanie LaRose, Confessions of a Bead Hoarder
135. Stephanie Haussler, PixyBug Designs
136. Diane Cook, Rosa & Josies  
137.  Maryse Thillens, Glass Bead Art
138.  Jennifer Pride, Jewelry by J.P.
139.  Shannon Chomanczuk, For My Sweet Daughter

140.  Lisa Godfrey, Bead Happy
141.  Heather Pyle, Welcome to My  Muse
142.  Regina Santerre, Regina's Writings
143.  Liz DeLuca, Creative Arty Facts
144.  Sig Wynne-Evans, Beaded Bear's Nonsense
145.  Loretta Carstensen, Loretta's Boutique
146.  Raida Disbrow, Havana Beads 
147.  Amber Dawn, Inventive Soul 
148.  Shelly Graves, Stars Dance With Me  
149.  Jess Italia Lincoln, Vintaj Blog 

150. JJ Jacobs, Coming Abstractions
151.  Carrie Tahquechi, Carrie T
152.  Staci Smith, Staci Louise Originals
153.  Katarzyna Kwiatkowska, Quiet Area 
154.  Ema Kilroy, Ema K Designs
155. Magdalena Sikora, Poranna Gazeta
156.  Nicole Keller, Nicki's Reef
157.  Ann Rishell, My Critical Eye
158.  Noemi Baena, Fire, Metal, and Color 
159. Christa Murphy, Adventures of One Beady Woman 

160.  Barbara Blaszczyk, Labotorium Flory
161.  Collette Collins, Firefly Myst
162.  Carola Greiser, Polymer Clay Shed
163.  Joanna Kopijczuk, Bizuteria z Filcu
164. LeAnn Weih, Summers Studio 
165.  Cassandra Watsham, Design by Cassandra
166. Anna Motz, Stunning
167.  Shea Zukowski, Gr8findings
168.  Susan Kennedy, Sue Beads
169.  Lisa Boucher, Lisa's Clay Happenings

170.  Hope Smitherman, Crafty Hope
171.  Alison Crenshaw, Beads by Earth Tones
172.  Dorcas Midkiff, Wondrous Strange Designs 
173.  Melissa Rediger, Sea of Glass 
174.  Marina Dobrynina, Savon Feutre  
176.  Menka Gupta, Menka's Blog
177. Patsy Evins, Patsy Evins Studio
178.  Cherrie Fick, En La Lumie're
179.  Suzette Bentley, Ellie's Bijoux

180.  Molly Alexander, Beautifully Broken Me
181.  Lyn Foley, Lyn Foley Wearable Art
182. Tara Plote, The Newbie Beader's Blog
183. Natalie Schuetz, Natalie S Perlen 
184. Kim Hutchinson, Running on Ink
185. Haley Frank, Wide Eyed Smilin 
186. Grace Caputo, Suddenly Last Summer
187. Marie-Noel Voyer-Cramp, Skye Jewels 
188. Erin Siegel, Erin Siegel Jewelry 
189.  Janea McDonald, Organized Chaos

190.  Kristi Evenson, Colie Bug & Co.
191.  Linda Inhelder, Must Haves Jewelry
192.  Hilary Frye, FryeStyle
193. Whitney Lassini, Whitney Lassini
194. Nancy Schindler, The Rabbit Muse
195. Pam Brisse, The Blue Between
196. Beth Bricker, Vintage Sweets
197.  Ruthie Stickney, Rose Works Jewelry and Gifts
198.  Rose Noble, Lady Noble Designs
199. Karen Williams, Baublicious

200.  Claire Maunsell, The Next Bend
201.  Christine Damm, Stories They Tell
202.  Kerry Bogert, Kab's Creative Concepts
203.  Wendy Blum, Sand & Sea Designs
204.  Juli Cannon, Julsbeads
205.  Jenny Robledo, La Dona Boutique
206.  Krista French, French Elegant Jewelry
207.  Pam Krinski, Ewa Beads
208.  Melissa Meman, Melissa Meman, Art, Life, Love
209.  Dana Jones, Dana's Jewelry
210.  Shirley Moore, Beads and Bread

The next party's sign ups begin August 1-3, 2011.  Don't miss it!

25 February 2011

Is February over yet?

The first flower of 2011!
For being the shortest month of the year, February sure can drag itself out. It started with record-breaking, pipe-busting bitter cold weather, brought several cases of creeping crud (I'm finally recovering after a week of being almost bedridden), and also graced me with several strange technology failures, most recently a burned out modem that I didn't even notice for two days because I was so sick. But the sun is also getting much stronger as it ascends toward equinox, which warms us up into our normal February range of 50 to 60(F). I was surprised to see, just two weeks after that sub-zero stretch of weather we had, tiny crocuses blooming from the bulbs I planted last fall. Daffodil leaf tips are emerging now, too, along with new shoots from my perennials. The sun is definitely working its magic.

Yesterday I was, thankfully, feeling well enough to interview for internships for my counseling program, and I think I have a good shot at the perfect gig to start in July! That is a huge relief; I've been plugging away at this masters program (marital/family therapy) for almost two and a half years and as I started researching internships I discovered that they are nonexistent in my area and difficult to secure even in the major cities here (100 to 150 miles away). I did, however, take advice from one of my professors to bombard my preferred sites with phone calls and faxes of my credentials, and finally got a few calls back, including one from a clinical director who was very interested in my previous graduate work in cultural anthropology. I really enjoyed our meeting and think they're doing great work, and I would be totally thrilled to learn and work there.

So today I can breathe a bit about being able to actually finish my degree program; and my Internet is back up thanks to a new modem, I feel well enough to sit up at the computer, and it's sunny and warm outside. Oh, and the Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal starts tomorrow -- I can't wait! I've missed blogging this week and reading your blogs, and look forward to catching up. Have a great weekend!

18 February 2011

One World, One Heart 2011: What a Ride!

The final One World, One Heart blog event has come to a close, and as before it has been a really fun way to get to know other bloggers and see what they are all about. I'm a little sad to see this event come to an end, especially since I haven't had a chance to visit many of your blogs yet because of serial colds/flu/ear infections and a heavy course load, but over the next week or so I plan to stop by just to say Hi -- especially to the 519 of you who commented on my OWOH post!!! I'm just amazed that so many people came by and said Hi, and I wish I had something for every single one of you! Thanks to the cool Random Number Generator thingie I was able to pick 3 winners for my giveaway (based on where they were in my comments list; I tried basing it on the whole OWOH list but kept getting people who hadn't visited). So here they are:

#7: Michaele at Twigs and Tulle
#197: Martina at Stempel-Gewerkel (in Germany)
#334: Kim at Queen of Arts

I'll be contacting the winners by email and sending the goods out as soon as I receive mailing addresses. Congratulations to you three, and again many, MANY thanks to you all! I look forward to getting to know you all better and hope you've enjoyed this event as much as I have! Oh, and stay tuned: having passed 100 followers (I'm up to 109, more than double of a month ago!) I'm thinking of doing another giveaway! Happy blogging to all!

16 February 2011

Bead Table Wednesday: Endless

The bead "table," shifted from the bedroom and tidied up just a bit...
Color/texture sort; I see 2 or 3 projects developing here
I hear and read about people complaining of boredom and think, My God, how can that be -- there is just not enough time in the day, week, or year to do everything I want to do. When my grandfather's health was failing at age 87, he lamented that he wasn't close to finishing all his projects, and indeed he left behind notebooks filled with writings and sketches of paintings he wanted to do, places he wanted to go for inspiration, classes he wanted to take.... Last summer my mom faced the same dilemma as she found herself too weak from a ruthlessly aggressive cancer to sit up in a chair to paint, so she bought a woodcarving kit figuring it was something she could do semi-reclined in bed. This kit, still unused, is on my metalwork table now; after she passed away in July I couldn't even look at it, but a month ago I set it down next to my little bench block and hammer, both as inspiration and as a reminder that the creative spirit pulses on even as the body is failing.

Bead sorts and patina line-up (near top)
Anyhoo. Here's a glimpse of what is on my beading "table" these days; I put table in quotes because this past winter I've been beading mostly in the comfy rocking chair in my bedroom, wrapped up next to a heater, with the TV on or my 7.8 GB music collection on "shuffle." For these photos I moved my active projects into the dining room/studio, right in front of a sliding glass door that is now wide open because it is almost 70F outside!! The little lap desk in the top photo has served me very well all winter and may well accompany me outside as I shift my operations to a comfy chair in the back yard. I got the idea to use the little metal tins as beadholders from someone on my blogroll -- I'm trying to track that entry down now so I can give credit where credit is due! -- and knew exactly where to find some: in my mom's little painting studio out back. I believe these were originally her father's, and when she took up oil painting five or six years ago she was able to use many of his painting supplies that she had taken for safe keeping after he passed away. So, although I've drastically repurposed these, I feel good keeping them in service, honoring the memories of these people I loved so much and whose relentless creativity I seem to have inherited. I have a feeling that my creative sprite Maggie, who takes after her Granna so much, will snatch some of these long before I pass away, and I'm cool with that.

15 February 2011

Mosaic Monday: Art from the Heart

Art from the Heart, image mosaic by Anna Lear/The Laughing Raven;
individual pieces by various artists as noted
Okay, so maybe I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day, but I love hearts! For this week's Mosaic Monday (a day late again...) I'm showcasing hearts in several media... well, mostly glass, I guess, which isn't a surprise because I love glass almost as much as I love hearts. Commonly used to represent love, passion, and strong emotions in general, the heart symbol is thought to have evolved from pre-Christian depictions of leaves that over time evolved into the current shape and became associated not only with romantic love but also passion of all sorts, including religious passion. A more recent (I think) trend is hearts with wings, which I especially love because they seem to say, set your passions free and beautiful things will happen. I bid you all a sparkling day.

14 February 2011

The Sunday Creative: Affection

Max and Rocky haz a luv

Lucy out on a hike, 2009
I like this week's Sunday Creative theme, but I have a confession: I am not a fan of Valentine's Day. Never have been, in fact, and it's probably because of the expectations -- if I'm part of a couple, I have to do certain things (give a card, make dinner reservations, etc.; my ex-husband had a LOT of expectations and I never seemed to meet them, so that could have fueled my cynicism just a bit), and if I'm not part of a couple, well, I feel left out, I guess. Except that last night, as I helped the kids with their Valentines for school, I realized I have a totally different kind of love now: the real kind. Maybe someday I'll believe in romantic love again -- I know it's out there in the world because I know people who have had truly loving partnerships, but at some point in the last 3 years, since ending a painful marriage and enduring an even more painful divorce, I let go of the notion that it's for me. "They're writing songs of love, but not for me," croons Ella Fitzgerald; that song is at the top of my Pity Party Playlist... except, again, I realize now that I have an entirely different kind of love in my life now, thanks to my kids and, I dare say, my big dog Lucy. It is total, unconditional, encompassing, crazy and exhausting sometimes because the two little people have their own minds and are learning all about asserting themselves, and this kind of love is worth far more than any dozen roses or box of chocolates because the love I have for them and that they have for me is helping me learn to love myself in a new way. Not conditionally, as in, I have to do this or be that to be okay and worthy; I am worthy right here and now. It's still not an entirely comfortable concept for me, but I'm getting there. I see love all around me, when I let go of my expectations of what "love" is supposed to be.

And thus ends this sermon, which came out less cynical than I expected. Walk in beauty, my friends; it is all around you -- and within you, too.

12 February 2011

Apothecary: Bear medicine

Osha (Ligusticum porteri) root and bottles, Magdalena, NM, Feb 2011
I'm sorry to have been absent for a few days; my kids and I have been sick, yet again, and it has all just taken the life right out of me. Yesterday I finally brewed up a pot of Osha, a root long used for lung and immune system health here in the New Mexico-Colorado area and called "bear medicine" by the Ute Indians because bears have long been observed to consume the plant and roots after emerging from hibernation or when wounded or ill. This potent herb is not well known outside of this area and is not widely available, but I was fortunate enough to be able to dig some up myself in a friend's backyard two years ago, and the root in this picture is one of the few chunks I have left. So tonight and tomorrow I'll be sipping my strange sort-of-licorice-smelling decoction (lots of honey makes it a nice drink, actually), wrapped up next to my heater with the laptop on trying to finish two course projects due tomorrow night, and wishing I could just sleep till winter is over. Actually, I take that back: we're in for a warm week, up close to 60F and maybe even better than that, so I need to get better NOW so I can get out there and enjoy it. I hope you're all enjoying your weekend!

09 February 2011

Bead Table Wednesday: This Little Piggy Went to Market

Ceramic beads, button, and pendant from Gaea

Colorful polymer clay beads from EarthTonesOnline
I love these memes -- thanks to Heather Powers of Humblebeads for starting this one! I feel connected to fellow creatives and, while there is a theme, I can do my own thing. So today I'll show you what's on my "bead table" (right now it's a lap table by my bedside because I'm still kind of in hibernation mode) and write about suppliers. Being snowbound and far from civilization isn't what it used to be thanks to the Internet and e-commerce. Although I do sometimes miss going to bead shops to fondle the gemstones and drool over the lampwork glass and dream about how to use the great variety of beads and findings I see, I can do plenty of drooling and dreaming as I navigate through online shops that may be located anywhere from Albuquerque to Sweden to Hong Kong. I have a few reliable suppliers of basics, but lately I'm turning to Etsy for both unique handmade components and basic findings. Recently I went on a bit of a shopping spree and today decided to show some of the amazing creations I've picked up from fellow Etsy sellers. I much prefer to support the artisans and small entrepreneurs, and now that I have a more defined style and have found some wonderful smaller, more personal suppliers I've all but stopped ordering from places like Fire Mountain (their "handling fee" on top of shipping charges really ticks me off).

Ceramic pendants from Spirited Earth
For general supplies such as glass and crystal beads, findings, and cord I usually order from Fusion Beads (free shipping on all US orders and frequent discount coupons via email and Facebook) or Artbeads.com (free shipping on US orders above $10). If I were doing a higher volume I'd surely be ordering from wholesalers, but for what I do these suppliers offer a good range of products, and they also offer some volume discounting and have more artisan-made pieces for sale than larger suppliers. Recently I've found some great Etsy sellers who offer both basic and unique findings for very reasonable prices, and I've been especially happy to find lots of cool brass and copper findings there because, with silver prices going into the stratosphere, I've needed to adjust the composition and style of my pieces somewhat. From necessity has come a new burst of creativity and a shift towards an earthier style, so of course I had to go shopping for new components to better express this new style....

Handmade ceramic pendants and buttons from Beadfreaky
For the really good stuff -- handmade ceramic, lampwork glass, patinated metals, polymer clay, and other artisan components -- I always check Etsy first and have been bowled over by what I have found there. Hence my recent shopping spree (and the title of this post), both because I have found so many beautiful things and because I had let my supplies dwindle over the past two years (since my last trip to Tucson, sniff!!). I can't say I'm done buying because I'm still low on lampwork glass (especially non-focals; I need some rounds and saucers to go with the gorgeous lampwork hearts below), and geez, these creative people keep making more beautiful stuff! Now to find the time to use it all in new creations... given that it's only early February and gardening is still a few months away here, that shouldn't be a problem, so I hope to have lots of new stuff to show here shortly! 
Lampwork glass heart pendants from Boomwire Glass

07 February 2011

The Creative Exchange: Keep the Home Fires Burning

Dad's work boots, Feb. 2011, Magdalena, NM
Over at The Creative Exchange the ongoing theme is "camera in one hand, heart in the other," and this image, simple and quotidian as it may seem, totally embodies that for me. Like much of the U.S. we got more than our share of foul winter weather last week, and here in New Mexico we got a weird (and thankfully rare) double-whammy of snow and bitter cold with Tuesday's near-foot of snow and temperatures below zero(F) all day Wednesday and -25 Wednesday night. Through all of this, my dad kept the wood coming in (I did learn a few years ago to keep a good stash in the garage for wet storms, and he has kept that well stocked) and even kept the bird feeders filled not just for our and the cats' entertainment but because their regular food sources were suddenly buried. I hope we don't have another storm system like that -- ever -- but if we do, I know we'll be okay. Thanks, Dad.

Mosaic Monday: Flight Patterns

Mosaic Monday has really helped me stretch my creative... uh, wings -- no pun intended, really -- because not only do I get to think of a theme but I also get to go through my photographs and see if I can improve any of them. I was surprised to see how few bird photos I've taken because I absolutely love birds, in all art forms, and while I know they can be difficult to photograph I see now that I need to make it a point to try whenever possible and figure out the challenges. Here are a few of my favorite bird photos, three shot in 2010 and one, the cranes up top, actually shot back in early 2007 with my wonderful Konica-Minolta point-and-shoot. I tried the same shot with my Nikon D3000 in November 2010 and got far inferior results because this otherwise decent entry-level SLR does poorly in low light. If I hadn't scratched the KM's lens I'd probably still be using it because it was an excellent camera. In any case, I can't wait to begin chronicling the spring migrations and capturing some of our fair-weather friends. Lucky them, hiding out in warmer climes during this bone-chilling winter.

06 February 2011

The Sunday Creative: Perspective

Bugeyed, Praying mantis under a sunflower leaf, July 2010, Magdalena NM
Time for The Sunday Creative again (and I'm on time this week!); when I saw that this week's prompt was "perspective" I knew exactly which photo I wanted to put up. Last summer I caught this praying mantis hiding under a leaf of my mammoth sunflower; I had my macro filter on (I was shooting the sunflower buds) and thought about taking the filter off so I could get more depth of field, but s/he surely would have fled, and in any case I love how this photo came out.

Not only did this week's prompt inspire me to re-process this photo (using the Topaz Detail filter for Photoshop, which I wrote about last month) but before I posted here I sat down and put together a bracelet from a clutch of spring green beads I had set aside a while back but never pulled together. So it's a multimedia Sunday Creative for me this week! I don't feel like this bracelet is finished (a recent issue for me; I guess my style used to be simpler) but here's a shot anyway; I might add some charms and lightly oxidize the copper, and I will almost certainly change the clasp because the one I made seems a bit clunky for this bracelet. I can do that later when the kids and I are having a movie marathon in lieu of some big ol' football game that's taking up the entire day... ;-)  Hope you all are enjoying your day, whatever you're up to!

05 February 2011

Another "Finished, Maybe" Piece

Rainbow Jasper Pendant with Wirewrapped Pearls, Brass, Copper, and Sari Silk

Finished? Embellish chain? Switch to button clasp?
(Ceramic buttons by BeadFreaky
When pieces come together in my mind, it feels almost effortless to put them together for real, once I actually have the time to sit down and do it. I thought up this necklace over a month ago but didn't have the time or patience to wirewrap all those dang pearls till last night... but boy was it worth it! I continue to be amazed at how beautifully the skein of sari silk ribbon I bought at a fiber show coordinates with so many of my beads; the ribbon is essentially a series of various 1-yard lengths of various colors and textures sewn together sequentially, primarily in jewel tones like this luscious red/black weave. The pendant part is definitely done, but I'm not sure whether to add charms or beads or something else to the chain, perhaps to affix the ribbon and chain together here and there. Weaving the ribbon through the chain just didn't work for me, and I'm tempted to leave it as is, though the clasp might change because the brass one I made is sturdy but perhaps a bit too clunky for this necklace. What do you think? While I sit with this piece I'm making a coordinating bracelet and earrings, and watching Netflix movies in my fireplace-heated living room. I hope you're enjoying your weekend as much as I am!

03 February 2011

Bird Sanctuary

Ring-Necked Doves Huddling against the Cold, Magdalena, NM, Feb. 2011
Greetings from the frozen southwest... I know we're not the only ones with crazy-cold weather so I'll try not to whine too much, but DANG it's cold here! It barely breached zero(F) yesterday (-20 or so C) and as soon as the sun went down, so did the temperatures, to at least -20F (-30C) and possibly lower but it was too dang cold for me to get out of bed and check at 5:30 a.m.! I did manage to keep the pipes from freezing by running a faucet indoors and also setting the washer and dishwasher on timers to run in the middle of the night, sequentially. So this morning I awoke to running water AND clean clothes and dishes -- looking on the bright side, yes indeed! And it's already up to 15 degrees, with strong sunshine that is warming the house nicely and even melting a tiny bit of our near-foot of snow.

Finches and Juncos in the Perennial Bed, Feb. 2011
One cool thing about snowstorms is that if you keep the bird feeders full, the birds come en masse and provide plenty of entertainment for humans and cats alike. My dad has been awesome about keeping the feeders full and also keeping the fire going, so despite a bit of cabin fever we're getting through this okay. I look forward to a weekend in the mid-40s, though; that's closer to normal for here and, you know, I live here instead of my old hometown (Philly) or Colorado or wherever because I like sunny, not-frigid winters. I do love how the snow dresses things up and have been trying to get some good photos (I confess that I shot both of these from indoors, sacrificing a bit of clarity to avoid frostbite!), some of which will surely appear in Monday Mosaics over the next few weeks. What I'm really looking forward to, though, is making photo mosaics that show the transition from winter to spring. All this snow will make for some happy roots and, eventually, happy flowers. Eventually.

02 February 2011

The Sunday Creative: Extent

Winter Picket Fence, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2011
Extent (n):
1. The area covered by something: "an enclosure ten acres in extent".
2. The degree to which something has spread; the size or scale of something.

This week's prompt for The Sunday Creative (yes, I know it's Wednesday...) brought to mind a photo I took on Monday during our first (and, as it turned out, much milder) snowstorm of the week. We have a modest wooden plank fence around our yard that doesn't stand out much but, as most rustic things do, takes on a special charm after a light snowfall.

As that storm headed east and pummelled the midwest with snow and ice and even thunder and lightning, New Mexico got a second storm that swirled around the state all day and left nearly a foot of snow in some places, including here. As a special treat it also brought sub-zero(F) cold... zero in Fahrenheit is near minus-20 Celsius, just to give my international readers an idea of how FRICKIN' COLD it is today. We're approaching noon, and the sun is sort of out, and the temperature still hasn't climbed above zero(F) -- something I've never seen in my tenure here in NM. Oh, and did I mention the foot of snow? ;-) I don't find anything particularly charming after a heavy snowfall. But that's just me. Yep, just me, cooling my heels indoors, twitching and pacing and glaring out the window trying to WILL the weather to cut this crap out.

The cats, on the other hand, don't seem to care much either way, as long as they're on the warmer side of the window. This is where I'll be all day, too, unless Dad needs help digging more wood out of the woodpile.

Max and Rocky sleeping through Groundhog Day

01 February 2011

Mosaic Monday... er, Tuesday: Winter Garden

I got a bit derailed this week; lots going on here, so Mosaic Monday is a day late.... January ended with a minor snowstorm for us, a storm that is apparently turning into a monster as it heads east and hits moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. We got a bit more than an inch of beautiful fluffy snow, and (here's why I love New Mexico) the sun came out just before setting so I could get some nice pictures and take Lucy out back to play. She loves the snow! She sticks her nose in it and eats it and chuffs it, then frolics to another drift to lie down and roll in it and eat some more; since she's able to put more weight on her leg now she really wants to play, but I am managing to keep her calm so she can heal up in time for hiking. I haven't taken her out back yet today and am sure she will just eat it up. What a joy she is.

So the storm headed east... and left a vacuum for another storm to stream down from Colorado, giving us another four or five inches so far, with perhaps another half-foot to come by morning. Good thing I have nowhere to be this week except home working; we're pretty well stocked on food and can walk to the local market if we really need to (I do have some amenities here in my little town!). As long as I remember to leave a faucet running tonight we won't lose water when the temperature dives well below zero(F) tonight. Even if we lose electricity, we have a fireplace... the only real inconvenience would be losing Internet access! ;-)  But I know others are far worse off as the main storm heads east and strengthens; I'll be sending you all good thoughts to get through it okay. Sheesh, what is up with all this weather??

Oh yeah, it's winter. Think the groundhog will see his shadow tomorrow? If he does, he might need a police escort back down that burrow of his...