Thursday, March 29, 2012

Seattle and ArtFest...

We've had a wonderful day and I would write more, but I am busted up tired in so many ways and need to get to sleep.  I will leave you with lots of pretty pictures.  Some taken at Pike Place Market and some taken at ArtFest's opening ceremony.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Additions to my Shop...

I've been on a creative roll lately and just finished up some new pieces!  I've been up all hours of the night working on things before going to ArtFest and I've added a few of them to my Shop!  I've also restocked probably one of the most popular designs I've ever carved: The Bronze Mini Skull Charm.

The photos are not the best.  I took them here at the airport, but I was so happy with the new pieces that I couldn't wait to post them!

I remember one summer evening in the Hamptons.  I was sitting in the sand dunes watching the fireflies weave through the sedges and sea oats.  I listened to the waves of the ocean as they came rolling in.  The cuffs of my pants-legs were still wet, even rolled up, after splashing around in the salty seawater. It was a warm evening with a cool sea breeze and simply perfect.  I had just come from an intimate concert with Duncan Sheik; his music seemed to linger long after the doors had shut and melded with the songs of the sea, the cricket and the bullfrog.  Just then... a fox crossed my path.  It stopped in its tracks and regarded me for a moment.  He was as startled to see me as I was to see him.  After a few moments of consideration and mild curiosity, the fox trotted back on its way as if it never paused.  This pendant is of the Cunning Fox.  I looked at a lot of different images and carvings of foxes; particularly that of the Japanese and the Native Americans.  I wanted to keep the carving as simple and iconic as possible, drawing on the source materials but not replicating them.  I'm quite pleased with the new fox pendant.  CLICK HERE to check out the Cunning Fox Charm.

My mother talks to the plants and the trees.  It goes beyond just idly chatting with a houseplant, but harkens to her island heritage in the Philippines, where spirits lived in the leaves and stems of plants.  One's ancestors or the Guardians of the Forest could be there, within the wood.  I wanted to give a face to these wild energies... so I created a Green Man pendant.  CLICK HERE to check him out.
The last of the new designs comes from my experiences walking through the woods on the property.  I have come across several stags since my walks began here.  Each time I see one – a head full of antlers – they remind me of royalty.  It's like they're wearing a crown.  True Kings of the Woods.  I pulled a lot of inspiration from Medieval illustrations, like illuminated manuscripts and tapestries.  CLICK HERE to see the new stag pendants.
I always receive compliments on these charms.  They are bright, edgy, and fun.  I've used them in earrings, in bracelets and even as a focal in a dainty necklace.  They are so popular, that it's hard to keep them in stock.  And I dread production work, which is probably why there isn't a steady stream of them at all times.  CLICK HERE to pick up your Mini Skull Charm before they sell out again.

Fusion Beads Pantone Crystal Mixes...

 I was fortunate enough to be selected to participate in Fusion Beads' new Blogger Affiliate Program!  For February, they sent out some beautiful Swarovski crystal mixes.  The blends were based off of this year's new Pantone Spring 2012 Color Trends.

The blend that I received was the "Cheeky Crystal Mix".  The colors were a vibrant orange, bright yellow, subtle gray, and watery blue.

I decided that for the piece I would create, I would use as many crystals as possible to really showcase this color palette.  I ended up embellishing a length of chain with hundreds of wire-wrapped dangles strung up with the crystals.  I melded it with a leafy chain and pulled it all together with a bronze bird toggle from my family at Green Girl Studios.
 I used gunmetal-colored headpins to bump up the contrast and make the colors POP!  It also helped tie in the antiqued bronze leafy chain.  Creating this sort of "fringe" takes a long time, but I love the way it moves.  It feels almost alive the way the piece of chain undulates.
Sometimes when I see the new Color Trends, I scratch my head... huh?  There are so many colors and not all of them seem like natural companions.  It can be a little daunting.  Fortunately, the fine folks at Fusion Beads have done all the dirty work and have created these easy to use mixes of high-quality, Austrian crystals!  It's a lot of fun to pick up a mix and just create!

FTC Disclosure:  The materials provided came courtesy of Fusion Beads free of charge.  This blog post reflects my honest opinions and experiences using the complimentary product.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Play Date...

It has been a busy week here in Southwestern Pennsylvania!  The days and evenings have been full.  Besides the general demands of the Store and the events that we've been hosting, I have also been getting ready for ArtFest.  I was fortunate enough to take a little break during the week and have a little get together out at the property.

Gina, Karen, Pam, Judi, and Vanessa came in from Pittsburgh for a play date.  It was a fabulous time!  They are the first guests to come out to my home with the sole purpose of making things and being creative!

 I made a few dishes for lunch (slow-cooked beef with a modified beef bourguignon sauce, maple-flavored mashed sweet potatoes, spiced pulled pork and white wine pulled chicken with a sweet and spicy chutney on the side) and Gina brought a beautiful berry salad with a balsamic dressing flavored with cardamom.  Her daughter made a tasty ginger-mint lemonade, that was the absolutely perfect thing on the warm spring day.  We also had sips of chilled rhubarb wine... you know... to help lubricate the creative juices.
We focused on making molds and carving polymer clay.  It was a good time and I think everyone did a great job!  I was really impressed with high level of talent and loved the work they made!  The above picture isn't of cookies, but of the molds they made before they went in the oven.

While our molds were in the oven, we took a stroll around the property.  First, we headed out to see one of the waterfalls, careful not to crush the spring beauty blossoms heralding the season.  We found a deer skull near the edge of the creek and Pam made her way down the steep bank to retrieve it.

It was a most excellent day and I was just thrilled to have them over.  It was nice little creative break and just what I needed to fuel the creative process and celebrate the first day of Spring!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Beaded Links...

 A Bead A Day 
Oh, for the love of buttons!! If you love buttons stop by A Bead A Day to spread the love and obsess a little! Jewelry Making 
Tammy pulls out a previous interview of a jewelry designer who makes jewelry for celebrities.

Art Bead Scene 
Gaea finds beady inspiration in the sights of her hometown of Ojai

Beading Arts 
Cyndi has gotten inspired by Spring Fever! Has that ever happened to you? Do you have some work you'd like to share?

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles 
Melanie creates a new necklace kit design, buzzing with flying creatures and blooming with leaves and trees to celebrate spring.

Snap Out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done! 
Jean has to solve a very big bead problem and gets some help from an extremely inspirational (ahem) source!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Down by the Water...

Down the slippery slope (particularly muddy with the recent spring rains) is a creek that runs along the property.  In the morning, from our apartment on the ridge, I can see the mist snaking along the course of the body of water.  The creek is a source of life for many plants and creatures.  In the water are lamprey and hellbenders.  It's as though these waters run backwards in time, hosting the most unusual creatures.  Along the shore, the unusualness doesn't stop there.

The wetlands flanking the creek are dotted with the claw-like flowers of the skunk cabbage with a plume of a new leafage.  Soon it'll be hard to navigate these parts without disturbing the strong scented plants... aptly named.

 Along with the peeper's song and spring beauty flowers, skunk cabbage blossoms are a sure sign that spring is here.  It's actually one of the first to bloom.

 The structure of the flower may be very unusual, but it is designed with a purpose.  The coloring and smell attract flies as pollinators.  This purple-red is typical of many fly-attracting plants... like pitcher plants or jack-in-the-pulpits.  The shape helps keep a micro-environment to surround the tiny little blossoms, and actually keeps the temperate around 70 degrees, even on the coldest days.  This is highly appealing for insects like bees, traversing the early spring to collect pollen.  Later, there will be broad green leaves.  These leaves help block out light on the forest floor and prevent other plants from encroaching on its turf.  The big leaves also make ideal hiding places for smaller critters hiding from predators; not only is it shady and covered, but the smell often masks all others in the area, making it hard to track.

I am fascinated by these strange beauties.  I didn't know that they were down by the waters, but will look for them from now on.  Another welcome sign, that spring is here!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Bone Collector...

With the nice weather, we have been taking as many walks around the property as possible.  Along the treks out into the woods, I've found quite a few remnants of once living creatures... bones!  I'm not quite certain what I'll do with them.  Perhaps I was inspired to expand my macabre collection after seeing the recent exhibition in my shopmate's space featuring work by Ginger Mesko of Bone Works?  Maybe I'll turn them into display for the store... or maybe I just like them and will keep them as delightfully creepy paperweights around the house!

Beaded Links...

A Bead A Day 
Have you ever thought about wearing fringe? Lisa's contemplating it after watching an episode of Sewing with Nancy! Jewelry Making 
Catch up on some of the latest jewelry book recently published.

Art Bead Scene 
Marie Cramp shares some fun ideas for making your own custom artisan components in unexpected ways.

Beading Arts 
Cyndi finishes up her tutorial for a seed bead rope that features some beautiful lampwork glass beads.

Beads & Books 
Get inspired with 20+ spring jewelry designs from the Suddenly Spring Blog Hop.

Carmi's Art/Life World 
Carmi never tires of making buttons wearable!

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles 
Melanie rocks out to the "Rose Tattoo" and it inspires a new pendant design.

Resin Crafts! 
Responding to a question about transparencies and resin means we have a new pretty sample to show off!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done! 
Jean junps into Spring revealing what she made for Michelle Mach's Suddenly Spring Challenge! How fun! 

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton 
Andrew creates "Color Bundles" from enameling experiments and offers them up for sale!

A Perfect Fit...

On Friday evening, Allegory Gallery was fortunate enough to have Jane West back to perform.  She's a local singer/songwriter who is phenomenally talented.  When we started Allegory Gallery, we wanted to make a space that was more than just a bead store or an art gallery; we wanted a truly, multi-dimensional creative arena.  Jane, with her amazing voice, is a perfect fit!  We look forward to having her back in the future.  (Hopefully we can get her to perform in the courtyard once it officially opens later this spring!)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Weather Inside Her...

A while ago, my intern's mom gave me a copy of a book she penned.  The book included original poems that she wrote.  It was very busy at the time and I didn't get a chance to read it, but I was able to curl up after work today with a few of her words and I'm just blown away!  I definitely recommend Amy Yanity's, "The Weather Inside Her".  It has a lyrical quality that appeals to the myth-maker in me.  CLICK HERE to check out her blog.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Color Bundles...

I got an email asking me whatever happened to all those samples I created for my torch-fire enamel "cookbook" and enameled porcelain experiments.  And that got me thinking... where were the beads I so painstakingly made?  Truth be told, they were sitting in piles in my studio gathering dust.  And they're just too pretty to do that!

So I put together COLOR BUNDLES!    I love how bright and pretty the colors are!  They are especially perfect for spring!  Each of the Color Bundles include some of my enameled work.  Most of them have a mix of the vintage metal beads I enameled, the enameled handmade porcelain beads, and some whimsical, dyed jade spacers.  The spacers are just for fun and thrown in on the house, but they were just so cheery that I thought they were meant to be with the enameled beads.

I only made 15 bundles and once they're gone, they will likely be gone for good!  (I detest production work and these exercises required many repetitive hours of torch time.)  So snatch up your Color Bundle before they're all gone!

New Additions to Allegory Gallery's Online Store...

I am pleased to announce the addition of the Premium Czech Glass category on Allegory Gallery's Online Store!

On our adventure to Tucson this year, we made certain to see our sources for what we think are some of the finest Czech glass beads available!  The distinctive shapes and brilliant colors set these beads apart from "the rest".   We were lucky to get there early and secure some awesome finds!  (When we went back at the end of the show, many of our selections had sold out... some even on the first day!)

While we don't have a thousand colors and a million shapes, I think we have a nice, diverse sampling to start with.  We wanted to focus on quality and uniqueness and I think we hit the nail on the head with this batch.  CLICK HERE to check them out in Allegory Gallery's Online Store!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Walking Awakening...

Despite the relatively mild winter, I am over the moon that spring... GLORIOUS SPRING... is setting in!  My mom has a saying, "Don't count the chicks before the eggs hatch."  And it's true... the weather here is unpredictable and at a moment's notice, it could be snowing again.  It is not uncommon to get the cold, white stuff in April!  Even still, I cannot begin to fully capture just how thrilled I am to shrug off winter's mantle and embrace a warmer season.

 The earth feels like it's coming alive again.  I feel the same way.  It was like even though I was walking around and functional (at least resembling functional) most of the winter, a sheet was pulled over my eyes and everything was foggy.  Along with the pops of color and sprouting vegetation, it seems like the fog is lifting and I'm regaining some clarity and focus.  Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I feel renewed and energized.

 The day was so nice and the sun was out when I got home that I decided to go for a walk.  The sheer idea of walking around in winter makes me tired.  Heavy shoes.  Heavy clothes.  Slow progress.  Wet socks.  Cold feet.  Aching joints.  Not very alluring to me.  I'd rather stay cooped up.

But with spring peaking up through the patchwork of brown leaves, I feel recharged and get excited about exploring and walking around.

 One such discovery while exploring was this bleached out deer skull.  Not too long ago, the stark white would have been lost amongst the erasure of snow, but it stands out amongst the nearly neon moss and rich, earthy browns... maybe as a last vestige of winter's tale.
 All of the ice has melted and the creeks and rivulets are swollen with snowmelt.  I like the healthy trickle as the water snakes along the property.  One thing that I noticed was that there is a lot of slate in the creek-beds and as the water tumbles down the small waterfalls, there's almost a hollow drumming as the water hits the stones.

 The undergrowth in the woods has yet to get out of control and it is still easy to navigate between the trees, off the beaten path.  In a few months, this won't be the case.  It'll be so full of foliage that it'll be hard to see where you're walking, let alone getting through the network of brambles and thorny vines.

In the meantime, it's easy to survey the forest floor.  I discovered some Scarlet Caps.  It wasn't so hard.  Even though they're relatively small, this fungi is brightly colored and stands out!  It is also a sign that spring is well underway!

 Above is a shot of another waterfall on the property.  I like that wherever there is water, the moss is vivid green.  Everything else is fairly monotone.  The moss looks like a giant serpent working its way through the tress.

 The waterfalls have to end up somewhere.  And this is the creek that all the water feeds into on the property.  The water was a strange color of blue and green, which is probably due to the purity of the snowmelt.  Even though it's a world away, I am still reminded of the waters of Hawaii... a swirl of cobalt and aquamarine.
It started to get dark and the shadows started to lengthen and thicken.  I decided that it was time for my walk to come to an end.  It did not end without a farewell from some forest friends.  This back-lit deer, with a seemingly carved out silhouette, stood watch as I made my way out of the woods.

Hello, Hellebores...

 I had written previously about my hellebores and how much I admired their sturdiness.  How could I not post pictures of them as they're starting to fully bloom?  I adore all the different colors and their unusual beauty.