Wednesday, April 25, 2012

3rd Do-Over Challenge-- REVEAL/PARTY!

... Okay, so I feel like a complete moron. I totally thought the hop/reveal was today-- so I'm a day late to the party!
(Next time I should probably write the deadline on my calendar, instead of in my head...)
It's all for the best, really. I wasn't feeling that great yesterday, health-wise, so I spent the whole day recuperating and resting. I'm feeling much better today-- albeit a little sheepish about the mix-up.

So I have been RIDICULOUSLY excited about this reveal. A while back, I received a package in the mail~ a necklace from Jeannie, as a participant in her third do-over challenge. All of us who participated, received one of her older pieces, one that she made when she first started doing jewelry-- in her words, an "old, tired piece" that she "won't" sell-- and our challenge was to transform it into something different and new.

Here is the piece I received:

The glass colors are VERY subtle-- I had to put the piece against my watercolor paper, to show the color of the piece! In reality, it's much less bright. It's more like a watered-down shade, more like a white glass with a slight tint of color.
I loved the construction of her necklace, but the beads themselves were very pale-- and those who know me, know that I don't "do" pale pieces. I love color, and love bright things. It was definitely a challenge for me! But here is the piece that it became:

I figured, since I photographed the original on plain paper, it's only fair to do the same to mine~
I absolutely LOVE this necklace, and I'm so proud of myself! I had never done the wrapping technique used in both her necklace and mine, so it was quite the learning experience for me. I used brass wire and brass links-- and in addition to the faceted glass from Jeannie's piece, I threw in some crystal beads (faceted, slightly smaller-- you can see them flanking the off-white and blue beads) that I got from Suma and some beads that were VERY special to me!

I was so proud of this piece that as soon as I finished it, I woke Hubby up to show him!
The small square beads (between the green, purple, pink and blue ones) were absolutely perfect for this, since they only came in those four colors! I got them *years* ago, when I was only twelve-- my grandmother gave me a gift card to a bead shop near her house, but the items I sold back then weren't "right" for the beads. I've held onto them for years, waiting to find the right project to use them. And I am SO GLAD for that... because they were beyond perfect for this necklace!!!

You can see the square beads and the small faceted crystals much better in these next couple of photos~
I wish I remembered what the squares were made out of!
Oh, and I almost forgot-- in addition to doing over Jeannie's jewelry, I also took apart one that my mom gave me-- the large amber-colored glass beads, between the blues towards the bottom, were taken from a bracelet that was past its prime:

It's got three sections to it, design-wise~ this is one side, the one I took the beads from! See what I mean?
The center cabochon and brass focal bead is another "special" item for me. A local handmade jeweler used to sell her items once a year out of her house, and my mom and I always went. She was so impressed with my interest in the jewelry that she gave me (and I bought) BAGS full of metal pieces that were fixed up by her. This center piece was one of them-- like the square beads, it was one of those things that I'd held on to, waiting for the perfect piece of jewelry to come along. And here it was, and here it is!

Close-up of the focal "bead"-- it's more like a component, but details-shmetails...
I absolutely love this piece-- I am so proud of myself and of the work! I was originally planning on selling the finished piece, but now that I've seen it I think I'm going to keep it for my own collection. I have a few outfits that will be completely completed by this-- and I put aside a few purple beads to put together some earrings, to match! I just have to wait for some brass ear wires to arrive...

Looks like it's time for me to do some hopping, and catch up on the A to Z when I'm done with that~ see you later!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A to Z, 2012-- S is for...


Alright, you knitters out there know *exactly* what I'm talking about... you non-knitters are probably scratching your heads in utter confusion.

When you knit, you sometimes need to mark your place in the pattern. You do this when you need to know where to increase or decrease the number of stitches that you have, like when you're knitting up a sweater-- or when you need to mark where to start an intricate lace pattern on a scarf-- or when you need to mark the beginning of a new round of stitches on your sock, hat, or fingerless mitts.

I use stitch markers almost all the time. I love to knit "in the round," especially on double-pointed needles, so I'm always running out of them.

My knitting friends are always improvising when it comes to these important tools. Some friends make a loop out of a scrap of yarn that contrasts with whatever fabric you are currently using. Other friends use safety pins, and others still use washers from the hardware store. Chances are, if you know a knitter, he or she has something special that is used for marking stitches.

Ever since getting into jewelry design, I've thought about making them... but I always had something holding me back. But when my mother-in-law brought home two handmade stitch markers, given as a parting gift when she took a knitting class, my competitive edge kicked into gear. I instantly thought, "Hm.... they're cute, but I could TOTALLY do a better job with the construction!"

So I did. And here is the result:

Six little stitch markers, all in a row!
Here it is, on the needles~
I plan on selling these, and others like them, at the next market day. I couldn't find the "right" beads for this project, aside from the ones I used... and while I love these, I don't want a million "clones" in all the colors of the rainbow. Or better put, I'd like to do that in ADDITION TO other styles. Variety being the spice of life, and all.

So there you go. Would you use them? Would you buy them for a knitting friend? Or do you make them too? Knitters and non-knitters, let me know what you think!

Friday, April 20, 2012

A to Z, 2012-- R is for...


I'm an avid reader. I love books-- I love the way they feel, I love to learn, and I love experiencing new worlds and new ideas. My childhood nickname was "Belle"~ as in, the Beauty from "Beauty and the Beast~ the one whose nose is always stuck in a book.

I own over 1,000 novels and books of poetry... even more if you include books from my former classroom and my own childhood, and even more than that if you include reference books and art books.

I'm currently reading two books:

Borrowed from my mother-in-law...

... and this one, purchased by me!
Although the second one is much more applicable to this blog, the first one (and all others by the same author) is DEFINITELY worth a mention on here as a hysterically funny "must-read" book! While it's absolutely worth the purchase, take a click over here to see the website that began it all. The author of the book has graciously left a great deal of the content on his website, so you'll be able to read it before you buy it- Woo-hoo! My favorite is the segment about Aunt Jenny, but the whole thing is AB-SO-LUTELY HY-STERICAL. If you've got an offbeat sense of humor and/or a love of all things food, you will not be able to resist cracking a smile with this book and the others in its series!

I don't want to spend too much time writing today-- suffice to say that the second book is so much fun to read! I'm starting to get into polymer clay, to make my own beads, and this has been an invaluable resource... perfect for me, because I'm not a COMPLETE beginner (I dabbled in it when I was a little girl), but I'm also not ready for those super-fancy inspiring books for experts.

I am WAY BEHIND with my blogging-- as one of my friends said recently, I can't do it all... I can only do what I can do. So here I am, doing what I can. Next up, the letter "S"~

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A to Z, 2012-- Q is for... (PART TWO)

Borrowed from my Pinterest wall... as much as I love the quote, the accompanying image just makes it a million times better!
I've always loved collecting them. From stories I've read... to movies and television shows... famous people... friends, family... if it's quotable, I've written it down.
Another Pinterest-"borrowed" image.
I used to have TONS of notepad files on my computer, filled with quotes I'd collected. I have some actual, real-life notebooks filled up, too. And one year, for Christmas, I gave all my friends personalized notebooks with images of their favorite TV shows, with all the funny things from the year written in.

One of my favorite quotes of all time, is a rather obscure one about love...
  • "The kiss originated when the first male reptile licked the first female reptile, implying in a subtle, complimentary way that she was as succulent as the small reptile he had for dinner the night before." --F. Scott Fitzgerald
I just couldn't resist throwing that one into the mix today! For the purposes of keeping this blog post short-ish, however, the rest of my quotes will be all about art and artists and artistry and creativity and creation:

  • "An intellectual is a man who says a simple thing in a difficult way; an artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way." --Charles Bukowski 
  • “Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.” --Leo Tolstoy
  •  “An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.” --George Santayana  
  •  “I've been called many names like perfectionist, difficult and obsessive. I think it takes obsession, takes searching for the details for any artist to be good.” --Barbara Streisand  
  •  “Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it 'the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul.' The mere imitation, however accurate, of what is in Nature, entitles no man to the sacred name of 'Artist.'” --Edgar Allan Poe
  •  “An artist needn't be a clergyman or a churchwarden, but he certainly must have a warm heart for his fellow men.” --Vincent VanGogh
  • “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” --Henry Ward Beecher 
  • “I'm painting an idea, not an ideal. Basically I'm trying to paint a structured painting full of controlled, and therefore potent, emotion.” --Euan Uglow 
  •  “I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.” --Mark Rothko

One quote I found on my hard drive, long lost and buried, combines my two careers, my two loves-- teaching and art:
  • “I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” --John Steinbeck

I will leave you all with this one last quote, this one last thought. It does not deal with art per se, but I came across it today:
  • "Some asked me where the rubies grew, / And nothing I did say; / But with my finger pointed to / The lips of Julia." --Robert Herrick
What makes me smile most about that last quote, is that it not only mentions my name, but also my birth stone. Coincidence? Or just one of those things that was "meant" to be found by me? You be the judge!

See you all tomorrow, for the letter R~ 

A to Z, 2012-- Q is for... (PART ONE)

Quick Commercial Announcement(S)!

...Okay, so it's not going to be my *real* letter Q post. That's going to come later on, sillies!

However, I have a few quick things to talk about today.

I am taking part in another giveaway by Rebekah. I didn't get any of her sets from last time, but they are so beautiful I can't resist trying again~ there are three sets, but these two are my favorites:

This one's called "Bright And Sunny"...

... And this one is called "Deep in the Forest."
I think I'm partial to "Bright and Sunny", but "Deep in the Forest" is a close second, and equally lovely. There's one more set, too, that is also exquisite... click on the link above if you want to see it, or to sign up to win these beads for yourself!

The handmade jewelry community recently lost one of its own-- Judy Glende-- to a battle with melanoma. In honor of her jewelry legacy, many are selling tribute items in their shops. The money earned will be donated to research, in memory of Judy "gaining her wings". I do not have an online shop yet, and I did not know Judy... but many others do, and did, and are participating. Rebekah (the same lady mentioned above) is selling this bracelet in her online shop, donating all the proceeds to Judy's cause:

This one is called "Bluebirds Fly"~ in memory of Judy~
I am pleased (and excited) to announce that I won a lovely focal bead in a giveaway, hosted by one of my blogging friends, Jelveh!
Isn't it just gorgeous???

She is hosting yet another giveaway (she offers them quite frequently, actually!)-- and while she doesn't ask that I promote her blog and her business, she is just so generous that I feel it would be a disservice to her to NOT say anything over here about it.

That's all for now-- I'll return to write my REAL entry shortly. 'Til then~!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A to Z, 2012-- P is for...

Ah yes, my standard picture of pain. The Dread Pirate Roberts has returned!
Before things got too far removed, I just wanted to say thank you, to those who took time out of their day to wish me well.

The new medication (the one mentioned a few days ago) has been incredibly helpful. I'm not quite up to my normal speed, but it is indeed helping to keep my elevated pain levels under control.

I'm not so happy with the world spinning, as a side effect, but when I raised my concern about this, my doctor pointed out an interesting fact. "You're already not able to do anything when things get bad," he said, "But with this, at least you'll feel some pain relief while you're not able to do much!"

Touche, doc. Touche.

Anyway, this was not the "P" word that I had in mind. I have another word that I'll be talking more about tomorrow, in conjunction with the letter "Q". Or perhaps separately. I haven't decided yet.

See you then~!

A to Z, 2012-- O is for...


This photo (Copyright TJ Wasik) was taken by one of my best friends, on a trip to the USVI. The water was such a gorgeous color of blue!
So those of you who know me, know that I'm a water-baby through and through. Even though I was the slowest child on earth to learn how to swim (I don't think I took my swimmies off until I turned seven!), I've always loved being in the water and I practically grew up in the ocean.

Look at me-- a nautical natural! Ahoy, mateys and Mickeys! Of course I look like a natural on the water... I am a Cancer, after all, and that makes me a crab baby! Just look at those "claws", expertly holding onto my food~
See, my grandparents had a boat. Every summer, I would visit them-- sometimes with my mom and dad and brother, sometimes on my own. We would ride over to a nearby barrier island, park in the marina, and stay for as long as we liked. There was the bay (shown above, older my shoulder), there was the ocean (not pictured above), there was sand as far as the eye could see. We had boogie boards and money for ice cream cones, and when I was tired of playing in the water there were parks next to the marina, with swings and slides and monkey bars.

The ocean was where I got to spend time with my family and read as many books as I liked. But most importantly, the ocean was where I learned not just how to make jewelry, but where I grew to love it and learned how to sell it!

(I'll talk more about that at a later date. If I put it in this blog post, it would be longer than some of Hemmingway's short stories!)

In any case, the ocean is a place that fills me with joy. When I am there, I am filled with a warm and blissful calm. When I am thinking about it, I can't help but smile.

And most importantly for this blog, it inspires me artistically.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A to Z, 2012-- M and N is for...

Medicine. New Medicine, to be specific.

Okay, so it's probably not the most exciting or inspired thing that I could post about. Actually, I had intended for my M post to be all about my Mommy... before the new M-word took over.

When I realized I wouldn't be able to write anything deep or emotional, I started to write about My Favorite Things. But again, my M-word took over my life and made it nigh impossible to write.

Mother Superior is not amused. "Shame on you!" she seems to say.
Regarding the letter N, the same thing happened. I had a whole other post that I got about halfway done~ see, I went shopping the other day and got lots of NEW and fun things to show off~ so *that* was what I was desperately trying to write about! On one hand, the word is still the same, so that's a win for me. On the other, this post has no resemblance to my original idea, so I'm not sure how happy I am about that part.

So here's the skinny. Those who have followed my blog for a bit now, know that I am dealing with chronic pain that seriously affects my quality of life. We're talking excruciating pain of the "every day of my life" variety. I have Endometriosis, plain and simple, and there is no real cure for my condition... or at least, none that are viable options for the way it has uniquely manifested itself in my body.

Because there is no real cure, my doctors are just managing my pain as best as they can. The past couple months have been exceptionally hard-- I was bed-ridden for weeks at a time, and I reached a point where my "bad" health days outnumbered the "good" ones. So my doctor prescribed a new medicine to try and keep those higher levels of pain in check.

After a couple days of trying it out, I'm pleased to say that the medicine DOES lower my pain levels. It's making the whole thing much more manageable-- instead of being bed-ridden I can actually get things done!

... Well... theoretically I would be able to get things done.

Reality, however, is a different story.

The new medicine is designed to combine with a different prescription of mine-- they enhance each other's effects and make both more effective. Unfortunately the combination makes me all kinds of dizzy and fuzzy, and it's not easy to get things done.

Despite all the side effects, however, taking the medicine it is much better than the alternative. I might not be as productive as I want to be, but I can at least get SOME things done~!

So here's to my New Medicine-- the letters M and N. See you all tomorrow for the next letter!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A to Z, 2012-- L is for...

LOOKING. As in, looking at things like an artist.

This is a character from the TV show/anime "Sailor Moon." I drew this sometime in high school, using colored pencils as my medium. The pencils made it look choppy when scanned into the computer; the original was much more smooth and polished.

The first one is mine... and here's the original!
So many people over the years have said many lovely things about my artwork. So many people have said that they don't have an artistic bone in their body. That they could never do what I do, or do it nearly as well as I do.

I call puckey of the bull on *THAT*.

While there is a certain degree to which artistic talent will get you further, what a great deal of what people view as an innate gift is nothing more than the ability to look at things just a little differently. That's the true "trick" to any kind of art!

But what do I mean by this? How can you change your perspective?

First of all, there is a logical psychology to graphic design, which carries over to other areas of art. People's eyes are drawn in the way they read-- in the United States and Europe, that means left to right, up to down. Now that you know this, use it to your advantage. Putting objects in areas where they are less "expected"-- in other words, the upper right and lower left corners-- draws in your viewers because it is visually unexpected.

There is also the psychology of color and object placement. Since our eyes are drawn downward, putting dark colors or the primary illustration on the bottom half or an image makes it seem "heavy". To "lighten" it up, put those darker colors and the majority of your illustration on the top of your page. Having the lighter colors on the bottom, and having it more sparsely filled in, will create visual interest.

See what I mean? The placement of color DOES make a difference. And by having fewer items on the bottom, more items on the top, and arranging them in "unexpected" corners, it creates a more active dynamic and is more intriguing for your audience to observe.
Another crucial element of design is the concept of numbering-- don't forget that nature is either perfectly symmetrical or comes in odd numbers! Whether you're painting mountain ranges or trees, people will almost always paint either one or three. Butterflies wouldn't be the same without their symmetry, but they also are almost invariably drawn as an individual or an odd number. If you were to click on those links and decide which images are the most artistically beautiful, the odds are against you choosing an "even" image.

Regarding the process itself, rather than looking at your chosen subject as a whole, look at it through the lens of shapes. Look for shapes inside and around the object, and use these smaller shapes to help you "build" it up. A person, for example, is made up of circles and ovals and rectangles; a floor lamp could be divided into a long skinny rectangle and an oval and trapezoid.

Art is a personal expression of your own viewpoint, so don't worry too much about doing something wrong! Ultimately it is YOUR vision and YOUR subject and YOUR finished product... and even the psychology "rules" can be broken. There are very few mistakes in art that can't be fixed, one way or another-- and in many cases, it's the mistakes that help us learn the most about our craft.

So be fearless. Be creative. Be an ARTIST.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A to Z, 2012-- K is for...

KNITTING, of "kourse"!

This photo was taken a while back-- I've made much more progress on this project since then-- but I just HAD to show off this picture because I love the skirt I'm wearing!!!
I learned how to knit when I was only three years-old. My mother taught me how, probably after I begged so much that my voice was hoarse. I remember that she was knitting a lot back then, and I wanted to be just like her. I made a small red square.

... Well... half of a small red square.

... Well... okay, it was way less than half a square. Mommy cast-on and knit half of it to get it started and show me, then helped me for a few rows, then I did a few rows on my own... and then she did the bind-off.

But the point is, I learned. And I was pretty good for my age-- I made a lap blanket for Barbie! And then promptly forgot all about the process, until I was seven and she re-taught me. It's like riding a bike, she said. Once you learn you never forget.

Which was good to know, since she had to re-teach me again when I was turned ten, and yet again when I turned fifteen. By the time I got to college, I was probably the world's most expert beginner when it came to knitting!

I re-learned for the millionth time as a freshman, volunteering to knit items for homeless people. Yarn and needles were provided. Picture an entire room of people who were learning how to knit, just to accomplish the purpose of keeping some complete strangers warm in the winter. It was equal parts inspiring and ridiculous, since hardly anyone there knew what they were doing.

Thankfully I remembered what I was doing pretty quickly, and realized that wow, I actually had a knack for this! Not only did I have a knack for it, I was damn good! I was amazing! Swell! Wonderful! Impressive, even!

... and then I realized that while I had actually managed to knit the whole scarf up, it was all kinds of misshapen and icky. The kind of a project that only a mother could be proud of.

Which she was, by the way. Of course.

In any case, since I'd learned so many times throughout the years, I became quite good quite fast. I ended up teaching all my friends how to knit, at some point or another, and became known as the girl who always had yarn in her purse. I brought my yarn and needles to my brother's hockey games... to movie nights at college... to friend's houses... on the bus and train... at the baseball fields... if you can name it, I knit there at one time or another.

And I basically haven't stopped knitting since.

Now, as a special "thank you" to my blog readers, I have here a knitting pattern that I'm going to share with you all! YAAAAAYYYYY!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A to Z, 2012-- J is for...


No, wait... that's not quite right... well, I mean, it is, but it's not the word I want to talk about.

Today's word is Junk.

As much as I love to use fancy rocks and beautiful gems and whimsical glass, there is something to be said for creating something beautiful out of practically nothing. I believe that the term now is called "upcycling"-- using things that would have otherwise been discarded, for an entirely new purpose.

My mom picked up a pair of earrings down in Florida, made from soda can tabs and shells:

Thanks for sending me the photo, Mom! Love you lots <3

On Pinterest, you can find many more things like this-- a ring made out of an old forka bracelet made out of old credit cards or gift cards, a bracelet made out of knitting needles, beads made out of old rulers, a bracelet made out of tape measures, a necklace out of old book pages...

Oh... I almost forgot... they have beads made out of paper, too! This example used Archie comics... I wonder who made it? They must be an AMAZING artist, and a wonderful handmade jeweler~ hee hee hee!
(By the way, those links are NOT from *my* Pinterest page... just someone who has very similar interests to mine!)

I love getting deals at thrift stores and bargains at yard sales. It's the thrill of the hunt-- the idea of finding something special that I can use for a project, something that has been discarded by someone else.

On my most recent thrift store expedition, I found two very interesting objects at an absolute steal-- less than $5 for both--
I'm going to have to do a close-up of each of these at some point. They're all really interesting beads-- carved from stone-- some of them look like chess pieces, others look like Transformers, others look like Aztec relics. Oh, and there's one bird thrown into the mix, too~
Or at least, I think it's a bird... either that or a fish...
And "found object" number two-- a brass bracelet, with black and white resin centers!
I've already taken apart the black and white and brass bracelet-- I'm using one of the "links" as a focal point on a necklace-- but I have NO IDEA what the stone beads are going to be yet.

My family always said that one man's trash is another man's treasure, and I couldn't agree more. Before you throw something away, think not what it is today, but what it *could* be.

See you all tomorrow. Happy creating!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A to Z, 2012-- I is for...


I absolutely love this inspiration board-- pardon the pun, but it's such an inspiration! It's not mine, but you can click on the image to be taken to the original source~
I originally intended to post up a photo of my own inspiration board, from my studio. Unfortunately, my board was one of the casualties of the flood-- it was hung on the wall where the water came from, and is no longer useable. So many of my pretty images are gone-- I'm only glad that my "current project" inspirations are hung immediately above my work station, no where near the water source! I would take a photograph of *that*, but there's only one or two images currently up... nothing truly exciting or inspiring there!

While I'm a huge fan of Pinterest, and the website was a complete game-changer in the way people store images and links, there is way too much to talk about for it to be part of today's post. Since that's a different issue, I'll have to save that discussion for a different day.

As a side note, for those of you who, like me, look for inspiration in the world of color, there's a website out there that lets you create palettes of up to five colors. It's called ColourLovers-- and they have programs that let you pull colors from a photograph, and others that help you turn those colors into patterns. I find myself inspired by at least one thing, every single time I go on the site! But again, the site deserves more of an in-depth look, so I'll have to hold off on this topic as well.

Studio flooding issues and interesting websites aside, in addition to my "Pinspiration" boards as I call them, I have (or had...) bulletin boards. I think I'm going to use this flooding incident as an opportunity to start over in the studio, and get myself a TON of bulletin boards, basically cover a section of the wall with them (akin to the photo above). I use these boards mostly when I'm in the studio, and need more ideas for a project I'm working on. I swivel my chair around, take a look, then spin back and create.

I looooove my spinny-chair!

... Moving along ...

I also have a notebook that I carry around with me, wherever I go. My phone is a camera, so inspiring color combinations are easy to capture for later~ just one click away~ but designs are awfully hard to replicate on a digital sketch via a small screen and clumsy fingers! That is where my book comes in. It's shaped like Harry Potter's book for "Care of Magical Creatures", and it looks absolutely ridiculous:

In addition to being awesome, this notebook has the added bonus of freaking people out when they see me pull it out. Striking terror into the hearts of strangers is apparently my new hobby. SCORE!

How does inspiration play a role in YOUR studio's layout and your creative process?

A to Z, 2012-- H is for...


Okay, so I'm going to go all corny on all of you. There's this song from a musical, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" that is incredibly sweet-- so sweet, in fact, that it's probably been linked to tooth decay. And possibly diabetes.

(Please excuse the video's warbly singing indicative of an adult pretending to be a child. While the voices are not as polished as I would prefer, the accompanying animation more than makes up for it.)

For me, the best part is the last line of the song-- "Happiness is anyone and anything at all that's loved by you."

See, it's easy to get caught up in sadness. When you have a chronic condition of ANY kind, when you're constantly reminded of what you can't accomplish, or the disparity between how your life is and how you want it to be, it's easy to let the negative things in life truly take over. And those of you who know me, know that I'm not just some overly optimistic Pollyanna speaking hypothetically-- I know more than most just how hard it is to accomplish this. When life throws major wrenches your way, it's hard to stay happy while you're constantly ducking!

But even when life is at its worst, this song never fails to teach and re-teach me that while there might be things out of my control, there is always something good to balance out the bad. The song is a lesson in counting your blessings, a fresh reminder that the small things in life actually do matter.

My happiness for today-- my metaphorical "tying a shoe for the very first time", to quote the song-- is a new twirly skirt that has pockets. It was a gift from the "Easter Bunny", found in my basket from yesterday. Floor length, flowy, made from cotton, and (of course!) blue with white ferns fanning out in all directions. Perfect for a spring day, and the kind of thing that made me smile from head to toe just thinking about it!

What is YOUR happiness-- in other words, your metaphorical "pizza with sausage"? What made you smile today, even for a split second?

A to Z, 2012-- G is for...


The word "genuine" means (paraphrased from a few online dictionary definitions) something that is truly what one says it to be. The word stands for the sincerity of person, emotion, or action.
I am sure that many would like to know-- why is an artist writing about sincerity, about being genuine?

I believe that it is the role of an artist to share his or her special vision in the world. I believe that everything that this artist does needs to reflect this vision, which in turn is actually a reflection of the soul.

And  perhaps most importantly of all, I believe that an artist is compelled to share his or her vision and soul with others in a tangible way. It is the sincerity behind this depiction that draws us into the artist's world. It is the genuineness of this expression-- the person, the emotion, the action, the place, the idea, or whatever else this expression is-- that allows others to see what the artist sees. It is this genuineness that causes an artist's work to resonate within each one of us who are lucky enough to experience it.

A genuine artist creates things that sincerely stand for his or her vision. And without that element of genuine truth, the art loses its substance. And a creation without substance is not art at all, but merely strokes of color on a piece of paper.

One of my all-time favorite paintings. I love Van Gogh, and love both his use of color here and the brush strokes used for his iconic effect! This is one of the paintings that truly inspires me~ and I would argue that Van Gogh was a master of genuine creation.
The key to being an artist is being genuine in what you do. I firmly believe that when an artist says that he or she always tries to stay true to himself or herself, that this is what they truly mean by that.

How do YOU stay genuine in all that you do?


Entry Number One-- Wendy Flickinger!
Congratulations!!! Contact me via the e-mail button at the top of the page, so you can send me the shipping information.

To everyone, thank you so much for entering-- I look forward to hosting another one some time soon!

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Quick Explaination...

Okay, so I've written half of like three different blog posts... but I have had such a crazy few days that I haven't been able to actually finish them and post them up.

It started on Saturday, with market day-- a busy day, a hectic day, a LONG day-- followed by an Easter dinner party with some friends. I had no time for a nap, much less for writing on the blog.

It continued on Sunday. I woke up to find Hubby sprawled out on the other bed, throwing up into a bowl. He is a diabetic and his blood sugars were out of control, thanks to some insulin that had "gone bad" without us knowing. After helping him... and getting him some new insulin... and taking care of my OWN health issues... it was time for Easter dinner with Hubby's family. And just when I thought it was safe to say that I could finish up on the blog... and do the giveaway... I went to the studio to grab something, and arrived to find a FLOOD of water all over the floor.

It was still insane today. The plumber came over to investigate this morning-- turns out that there is a leak in the kitchen's pipes, specifically with the sink. Which means that the water from there was running down the walls of the studio, and forming wading pools for our stinkbug tenants and neighbors. Lovely. And then after all that, we had not-quite-Easter with my family.

It's a wonder I'm still conscious, but that won't be true for much longer. I am going to go to sleep, get a good night's sleep, then spend tomorrow writing and creating jewelry.

Oh, and I'm going to *actually* draw the names for the giveaway. I am TERRIBLY sorry for all of you who have been waiting... but I'm too tired tonight to do anything but flop down on my bed.

Tomorrow, I'll be sending up some amazingly fun posts and the exciting announcement about my giveaway winner. See you then!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A to Z, 2012-- F is for...


As a quick aside, there's only a short time left to sign up for my super-awesome giveaway-- I'm choosing the winner on Sunday at noon (Eastern WhateverTheyCallIt Time, since that's where I live), so sign up ASAP if you want to win the jewelry! Aaaand, we're done here. Back to our regularly scheduled program.

Fashion and art go hand in hand. In my opinion, they always have and they always will. Many people view them as completely different aspects of creation; I believe that their metaphorical lines intersect much more frequently than those people would think. Art can (and does) inspire trends in the fashion world, and all art (by it's nature) reflects the trending aesthetics of the time it is created-- and in some cases, the fashion IS art, or the art that is created is a fashionable and wearable item.

To those of you who are totally confused by what I mean, take a look at one of the most iconic paintings of all time~
"Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette," painted in 1886 by Georges Seurat. Painted in the style of pointillism-- one of my absolute favorite styles of art, and one of my most favorite paintings, created by one of my favorite artists!
I know I'm starting to sound like Captain Obvious, but bear with me. Any painting (like the one above) that has the subjects in "current" dress will of course reflect contemporary fashion trends; if an artist chooses to paint a subject from a bygone era, modern aesthetics are still reflected because one's style is a reflection of current societal ideals of "art".

Conversely speaking, art influences fashion as well. Take a look at this one:

This one is titled "Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow"-- one of Piet Mondrian's most famous works!
One might wonder how such a simple painting could influence fashion. Well, wonder no more! Art can influence fashion for generations-- take a look here and here to see what I mean for some more evidence a la Captain Obvious.

Regarding the cross-over of fashion as art, and art as fashion, designers' couture runway shows and designs are a clear-cut example. The top designers are most definitely master artists, and their fashion is most DEFINITELY a form of art.

These are three of Betsey Johnson's designs. She is one of my favorite designers-- I love her use of color-- so bright and fun!

The designer herself, Ms. Johnson! I feel a kinship ;)
The next few are all by the same designer~

J'adore Dior! :D
I just HAD to add this one-- my blue!
And of course, another blue design, this one by Versace! I would wear this dress... if they made it in my size... and if it were anywhere close to my budget...
Jewelry, in my opinion, straddles the line of art and fashion, since it is both. When one creates jewelry as an art, fashion trends must be consulted and considered. At the same time, however, the jewelry also needs to reflect the aesthetic of the designer-- the artist-- because art without an artists' perspective is just another mass-produced item. If the final product does not reflect an artist or the artist's view then it is no longer art, simple as that.

Anyway, I could go on for days on this, but it should be clear to you all by now just how strongly I think art is connected to fashion. As Hubby would say, I think even Helen Keller in her current state would understand my views on this. Art and fashion are two sides of the same coin, neither more or less important than the other.

How does fashion influence you in YOUR creative work? Do any works of art inspire your fashion aesthetic? Or do any particular fashions (or eras of style) affect what you make? Leave a comment, because inquiring minds want to know!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A to Z, 2012-- E is for...


Not ella as in "under my umbr-ella-ella-ella"... Ella Fitzgerald!

Love the dress she's wearing-- I might just have to make one just like it for myself, minus the things that look vaguely like mealworms from a distance~!
I absolutely love this woman. She was an inspiration to so many other musical artists, an icon of her time, and a master of jazz and blues. Such class, such poise, and such a voice!

Now I *know* that at least one of you is asking yourself what on earth this lady has to do with my art and my jewelry.

Aside, of course, from the inexplicably powerful need to sing along to her music that I experience pretty much all the time... simply put, she inspires me. Her voice encourages me to create in ways that I can't explain~ my best work has been created while listening to her music.

My music needs change quite a bit depending on what medium I am working with, but no matter what I always end up going back to Ella and her contemporaries. Ella Fitzgerald, Helen Forrest, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and so many others... and don't forget all those fabulous "big bands" and big conductors they played with!

Ella and her friends shape my jewelry and my other art, much the same as the smell from a neighbor's barbecue shape one's dinner choices-- if it wafts into your senses, you feel the powerful need to make something that fits that aesthetic! Music is a big part of my life, and it is where I draw much of my artistic inspiration.

What music-- if any-- helps you create? Does music inspire you to get those creative juices flowing? If not, then what helps you put passion into your art?

There are only a few days left to enter my giveaway, so scroll your way back a few posts and enter to win-- the details are all there, along with pictures of the prize. Thanks for joining me today~ I'll see you tomorrow for yet another day in the A to Z blog hop!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A to Z, 2012-- D is for...


We make decisions every day, every single one of us. Chefs, healers, doctors, mothers, engineers, teachers, athletes, movie stars, musicians, cashiers, day laborers, and yes, artists. It doesn't matter if we are rich or poor, happy or sad, strong or weak, we all make decisions every single day.

Morpheus and Neo know where it's at! What'll it be-- the red pill or the blue pill?
Some decisions are small, so small you don't even have to think about it-- for example, what music you will listen to on your commute. Others are made so often that they become part of a routine-- like what you will put in your coffee, or how you will style your hair, or what you do first in the morning after you wake up. Some decisions are new every day, but require some thought-- what to wear, what to cook, what you will do after work is over.

And some decisions we must make are so tremendously huge that they consume your thoughts and your life.

I'm at one of those crucial crossroads right now... and I have been for quite some time now.

When I first got sick, the question was whether I should have surgery or not. I weighed the options, and had the surgery. While it didn't give me any relief from the pain, it gave me something that I didn't have before-- an answer.

When I realized that teaching was out of the question for me, I had to figure out what to do with my life. That took quite a long time, but I eventually realized that I actually could "make it" as an artist. A life-changing decision, most definitely-- and while I question my choice all the time, I absolutely love what I am doing.

See? This might not be the best photo of me, but there's no doubt about it that I am happy to be making jewelry. Notice the earrings hidden by my hair, the bracelet designed by me, and the necklace designed by Hubby. I look like I'm ready to take on anything. Look out world, here I come~!

Yesterday, at the doctor's office, I talked to a new doctor. A specialist in his field, quite literally world-renowned. I now have some major choices to make about my treatment~ the decisions I make will affect my entire life's course, so I will have to think long and hard about my course of action.

Today, my decision was to buy a new earring stand for my jewelry display. I needed something that was more fun, and more functional, than the one that I was previously using. 

Apparently, in my universe, earrings grow on trees from the roots of bracelets... I'm practically a psycho-analysts' dream come true!
I love the tree, but am not so fond of the butterfly on top. I will probably be replacing it with something else, at some point in time.

Tomorrow's biggest decision will hopefully be nothing more than what to eat for lunch, or what components to put together for a necklace that I'm designing. The truly tough decisions will be on my mind for some time to come, because they are not the kind of choices that one makes in an instant. It's not every day that we are faced with the "big ones"-- and thank goodness for that.

See you all tomorrow, for the letter E, and don't forget to sign up for my giveaway, a few posts back. Don't forget that it is the love and support from my family and friends that has made me as strong as I am today-- and I consider all of you my friends <3

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A to Z, 2012-- C is for...


(Okay, so this post is not *actually* all about cookies~ but I couldn't help it~ what can I say, the tiny child trapped inside my adult body just can't associate the letter C with anything else! Talk about word associations that just won't die...)

So since C does not stand for cookie, in this instance, it must stand for something else. Now what could that be?

For the longest time, I had the whole thing planned out and set up. C was SUPPOSED to be for Cables. But then today happened.

I had two doctors appointments today, two very important appointments, and I ended up being out of the house all day. It was a great day-- I was able to go to the bead shop AND the metal shop AND my favorite food chain of all time.

I absolutely *love* eating at Pret, and they're all over the city. The food is good and fresh, and it has my latest culinary addiction-- Brie cheese. Specifically in the form of a sandwich, with tomato and fresh basil. YUMM-O!

Anyway, back to the letter C.

As I mentioned above, I ended up at the metal shop... my first time there. And OH MY GOODNESS! I found metal components that really bring me back to my childhood, things that spoke to me as an artist, things that inspired me to create.

Among other things, I bought my first CABOCHON. And some filigree to wrap it up.

As long as I'm recovered from the day's activities, I'll be putting this together tomorrow. It's my first one, so I'm hoping it turns out as pretty as I imagine it to be in my head~!
 And that, my dear friends, is the story of how the letter C became associated with something completely different and unexpected and new.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more alphabet-ty goodness~ and don't forget to sign up for my giveaway from a few posts back!