Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Concoction


When whipping up something new, it is always good to come up with a fresh twist on the familiar. Simple as this sounds, it is incredibly challenging to actually accomplish. I was watching one of those cooking reality shows at my mom's place the other day. Normally, I am not one for reality shows which, as you know, are about as real as a politician's honesty. However, this particular show WAS rather amusing. It was a bit like Project Runway (another "reality" program), but with food instead of clothes. I have to admit that I was intrigued by the chefs' inventiveness. They would be given a theme (like 'Japanese') or a flavor, etc., and have to come up with something dazzling in short order if they wanted to advance in the competition. Well, sometimes pressure can crush a person into dust and, sometimes, produce diamonds. The diamonds make the cut (or, get the cut?). Anyway, wordplay aside, my point is that challenges can spark our creativity to rise to new heights. I recently visited with a jewelry designer who feels somewhat stuck in her work. She was questioning her ability as an artist because she finds it difficult to be innovative in her work. From what I can see, her ability to create beauty is unquestionable. Maybe she just needs a bracing challenge to kick her creativity up a notch, to give it an undeniable "BAM!". Have you ever thought of having your own, private version of a reality show challenge? Give yourself one word, one color, one texture to work with and see what you can come up with. The necklace pictured with this post is a piece I am still working on. My challenge was figuring out how to meld the teardrop beads with the barrel beads in a pleasing manner. I also needed to make the neutral tones of the piece have a little bit of 'POP'. So far, I am loving how it is developing. I added in a lampwork bead that I torched especially to coordinate with these beads. The client is pleased and I am, too.

Custom pieces especially seem to present these types of challenges because the artist has a 'judge' to please (the client) as well as him/herself. The process can be intimidating but, when successful, oh,so rewarding! You just have to be willing to take a risk. After all, what's the worst that can happen? You waste some art materials or time? You have to take your work apart and start again? Well, that surely won't kill you. And, as the saying goes, 'What doesn't kill you will make you stronger' as an artist. Just don't do anything dangerous, OK?

"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are."- Bernice Johnson Reagon

"Anything unattempted remains impossible."- Unknown

Friday, November 13, 2009

Delicacy


I have been a busy little beaver lately. I am exploring some new jewelry design ideas that have been swirling around in my head. I have a veritable mountain of beads and a need to USE them! The necklace pictured with this post is my version of a bib-style necklace. It is feminine and modern, with a delicate sensibility. I love it! The colors just speak to me. The subtle floral theme is flirty. I am quite satisfied. Please feel free to browse in my Artfire shop for more equally satisfying selections.

I have also been hard at the torch recently. I have a number of custom orders to fill. For some reason, though, I am just a bundle of nerves. Maybe I need to cut back on the coffee. I sure thought that earlier today when I spilled a full cuppa joe all over my desk, including my laptop. I'm glad no one was there to witness it. It wasn't pretty. Thankfully, I didn't ruin anything (though my PC smells vaguely of Starbucks and the keys sound a tad sticky). No wonder I'm kinda jumpy!
"Coffee is the best thing to douse the sunrise with." (not your laptop) - Drew Sirtors
"A morning without coffee is like sleep."- Unknown

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Atmospheric


I am working on a new series of focal beads that I refer to as "Atmospheric". I get so excited when I work on one of these beads! They always make me think of intense weather brewing overhead, thus the name. I love a good storm! An early memory of mine is being home alone when I was about 7 years old. It was a dark and stormy night, really. My mom had left me there alone because my brother had injured himself and had to be taken to the hospital. Mom wanted me to inform my father about the happenings (no cell phones in those days). So, I waited for my dad while a wild Texas thunderstorm raged outside. The power went out. I was totally freakin'. Finally, Dad's key turned in the door. Never have I been so happy to see anyone! I was crying, shaking and twitchy. But I made it through. And, strangely, ever since that night, I LOVE thunderstorms. The wilder, the better. Go figure.

Back to the beads: every one is unique with organic patterning and lots of interesting reactions in the glass. One of the glasses used in these beads is called Anice White. It causes a curdled look to appear in the glass, like curdled milk, minus the smell. Thank goodness!

The patterning in these beads comes from allowing the many layers and colors of glass to melt into a great big goopy glob and then using gravity to move the glass around until thoroughly swirled. That is my layman's description of the creation process! Hey, I'm an artist, not a scientist.

These beads look a lot like stones. I often have people ask me what type of stone they are. I think they are perfect for a masculine jewelry design, as well as any very organic, natural pieces. These will be a regular feature in my Etsy bead store. I make at least one whenever I sit down at my torch! So irresistible to make.

"True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist."- Albert Einstein

"Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm."- Unknown
(Bead pictured in post is available in my Etsy shop.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sparkle


What puts a sparkle in your eye? What are the most valuable gems in your mental jewelry box? Life is full of so many priceless and multi-faceted treasures. Have you ever stopped to make a list of things you hold dear? I did, just for kicks and grins. I included a lot of little, somewhat obscure observations that touch my heart. It was an incredibly pleasant exercise for the old 'positive' muscles. Here's a sampling of the jewels I prize:

1) Seeing a rainbow. 2) Holding your newborn baby for the first time. 3) A purring cat, curled in your lap. 4) The delighted belly laugh of a child. 5) The smell of fresh-mown grass. 6) The profound silence of a deep cave. 7) The crackle of a campfire on a chilly, dark night. 8) The split-second flash of a meteor in the night sky. 9) Live voices joined in harmonious song. 10) Surveying my collection of colorful art supplies. 11) When someone you love tells you they love you. 12) A hug of true forgiveness.

I could go on and on. My point is, take a few minutes today to reflect on those small but precious moments that give your life real meaning. This type of reflection is enriching. It swells your heart with appreciation that can then be translated to other aspects of your daily life. To live life with an attitude of gratitude is truly fulfilling. After all, life is a gift. How do you treat the gifts you receive? Do you carelessly rip open the packaging or gently and slowly remove the tape and save the gift wrap? Do you save the box, recycle or throw it away? How about the contents of the box, the actual gift? Do we use it, store it and forget about it, re-gift it, or throw it away?

Some gifts or treasures we value more than others. What we value is really quite a personal choice. I am on this ramble due to a discussion with my kid today about what we should value in life. What we value is a true reflection of who we are or who we may become. Definitely something to think about and, when necessary, to re-assess. Why not make your own list of "jewels"? You may surprise yourself with what you come up with.

"Try not to become a man of success. Rather, become a man of value."- Albert Einstein

"When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier."- Roy Disney

"A jewel should be judged by the light in a lady's eyes."- Anonymous


Friday, October 9, 2009

Illustration


The illustrations in children's books have always captured my heart. They are ripe with color and full of fun and mischief. When I was a little girl, I especially enjoyed the Raggedy Ann books, written and illustrated by Johnny Gruelle. They were among the first books I ever read.
I have been wanting to post about the beautiful illustration accompanying this post for quite some time. This is an original illustration that I have in my personal art collection (be sure to click on the picture to see it full-sized, as it was meant to be seen). I found it at a flea market a few years ago, behind a pile of dusty, neglected paintings, in a tattered frame. I was instantly charmed by the unquestionable talent of the artist to illustrate exquisite detail in such an appealing manner (look closely at the texture of the water). When I got it home, I removed it from its frame and was thrilled to see information about the artist handwritten in pencil on the back of the illustration. I thought it was probably an illustration for a children's book and I was apparently correct. The illustrator is one Karl Evans Hoefle. This was the third of an unknown number of illustrations for the story, "Arlie, the Misunderstood Horse", by Janet Reynolds Felt. I do not know if this story was ever published. I have researched it on the internet and haven't gotten very far with my sleuthing. I did manage to discover that the illustrator and the author were married to each other and had a daughter. I, for one, would love to see the story that is meant to accompany this illustration. So, if anyone reading this has any leads for me, please let me know!

Flea markets can be such interesting places. You never know what may be discovered in your quest. Sometimes a little treasure just may jump out at you, like this lovely picture. I plan to go again soon to hunt for vintage jewelry and other goodies to use in some of my designs. Usually, I'm not a big fan of garage sales and the like. I am starting to change my viewpoint, though. So many unique inspirations are available to the open-minded artist- the possibilities are truly endless. Happy hunting!
"Almost every unselfish wish in the world comes true"- from "Raggedy Ann in the Deep, Deep Woods" by Johnny Gruelle

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Subjective


I dearly love visiting art museums and galleries. I view this activity as a smorgasbord for the eyes. The visual offerings are staggering, the variety, overwhelming. I once traveled over 300 miles to see a special art exhibit that was not coming to my local museum. The theme of the exhibit focused on works of the great impressionists, over 300 rarely exhibited paintings from the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan. It literally took HOURS to see it all (and that was without the recorded tour). The exhibit was incredibly rich. I was exhausted afterward, utterly spent. But my imagination was euphoric, stimulated beyond measure by all that I had seen. The long journey to view that show was completely worthwhile.

I had a similar experience in Santa Fe about two years ago. I decided to stroll down the famous Canyon Road, a mile-long stretch of gallery after gallery. I entered every single gallery that day! Again, hours later, I emerged from the last gallery, my feet weary, my mind oversaturated by the experience and my heart happy.

These art excursions are so good for me. They refine my taste and help me to regain my artistic focus. They inspire fresh form and color combinations in my own work. I am also ever intrigued by each object that is represented as "art". Of course, some things are universally considered to be art- for instance, the Grand Canyon, a spectacular sunset, or a tender rose. Hoever, all HUMAN representations of art are subjective, that is, based on or influenced by personal opinions. What may be considered high art in this day and age might have been viewed as garbage in another time period, absolutely laughable as art. Today the word "art" has a much broader application. Many things designated as art by one person may not truly be seen as such by another.

Art has always required an open mind. For example, when what we call the 'great impressionists' first presented their now famous/ infamous paintings, they were soundly rejected by the art world of their day. With few exceptions, these 'impressionists' were not allowed to exhibit in the great art salons of their time. The rejection they experienced could have been crushing. Instead, these artists did not let the narrow view of art critics dampen their spirits or deter them from the continual creation of their art. They arranged their own exhibitions, promoted themselves and their fresh take on art. Gradually, impressionistic art became a smashing success, still greatly admired today.

I try to keep all of this in mind when thinking of my own art productions. I think it is all about having confidence in your own work and abilities. Some of the things I make I feel incredibly confident about. I love these pieces without question and find it difficult to part with them. In my opinion, they are "art". There are other pieces I've made that I'm not so wild about. Usually these are commissioned pieces. I guess the reason I don't bond so readily with these pieces is because they do not spring entirely from my own imagination. Commissioned art is a collaborative effort, involving both artist and client. The client's own ideas influence the direction the piece will take. Collaboration can be interesting- you never know what the end result may be. Sometimes, when that end is reached, I think to myself, " The client will either love this or hate this. The jury is still out for me.". To my surprise, most of the time the client is more than satisfied. I almost feel as if I just got away with something. This feeling is probably attributable to the fact that I feel a little less confident about making something that incorporates another's ideas. Admittedly, commissions do make me a little nervous because they involve a great deal of communication. Sometimes people don't communicate very well. When that happens, it's back to the drawing board.

There are times when I am tempted to disassemble a rejected piece. I recently experienced this very thing. One of my commissions was rejected by the client. I was rather frustrated because I had worked hard on it. I set it aside until I could decide what to do with it. The next day, a friend visited me in my studio, saw the piece and swooped. She now owns it. I feel infinitely better about it. You just never know how someone is going to view your creation. What one person rejects, another may adore. I find it difficult to remain objective about my own work. For me, the moral of the story is to present my work with confidence. Make sure the quality of the piece is high and put it out there. Someone might just love it!
"Painting is a faith, and it imposes the duty to disregard public opinion."- Vincent van Gogh
"Other people's opinion of you does not have to become your reality."- Les Brown
(Bead featured in this post for sale in my Etsy shop.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Merchant


There was a time in the not-too-distant past when I enjoyed shopping, especially bargain shopping. I would keep up with sales, clip coupons and carefully plan shopping excursions around those exhaustively researched sales dates and organized clippings. I would frequent all of the discount stores and thrill at each amazing deal I found. But now, I am so over that. I still love to find incredible bargains; but I no longer painstakingly hunt for them. I let them come to me, serendipity fashion, i.e., entice me. Entice me, either with irresistible products, unbeatable pricing or, preferably, both. There are so many shops out there. I have a multitude of choices. In fact, my choices are staggeringly overwhelming. So when I do find a place where I enjoy my shopping experience, I will go there repeatedly. There are a number of reasons for this: 1) I love the merchandise on offer and the products are of high quality. This is a must. 2) The pricing is acceptable to me. It doesn't have to be the least expensive, just reasonably priced. 3) The shop is orderly. I love a tidy shop. Disorder will turn me right around and out the door. 4) The shop is attractive. If I like the window dressing, I tend to linger. All of these factors play a role in persuading me to become a regular customer.

In my own business, I strive to remember what I enjoy and expect as a customer and apply these points to my own shops. Naturally, I want the beads and jewelry that I offer to appeal to customers. But I also want my customers to feel like they have been treated fairly, that they are purchasing quality, that the pricing is reasonable- in short, that they have been duly pampered as my customers.

Running a business on the Internet is incredibly time-consuming. I just completed a two shop overhaul: new banner, new photos, new products, clear organization, etc. I am not a photographer, though digital cameras do raise my competence level. Still, it takes a lot of practice to make your photos clear and detailed. It is not so easy to take a photo of a bead or bracelet and make it interesting. You have to consider the lighting and the background color. Then there is the time spent editing those photos- sizing them, making minor adjustments to them, labeling them- making certain that, in the end, the pictures are a fair representation of the offered product.

I think often of the phrase "starving artist". I'm not literally starving, but I see how challenging it is for an artist to support himself by selling his work. An artist needs to be somewhat business-savvy to achieve a measure of success. Speaking for myself, I am much more drawn to the creative side of art rather than the business side. That is a "no-brainer", as they say. The result is, I have to discipline myself to promote my business regularly. I'm still working on this. Though I now put new products in my bead store on Etsy every day and I put new jewelry in my Artfire store every couple of days. My goal is to stock new products every day, once or twice a day, at least.

I take very seriously how necessary it is for an Internet vendor to be very clear and prompt in communicating with customers, to be lightning-quick in shipping packages, to be eager to work out any problem that may arise in such a way as to make the customer feel true satisfaction. Mistakes will be made at times. This is part of the learning process. Occasionally we may encounter a challenging customer, particularly if we do custom work. But overall, if a vendor keeps her cool and treats others kindly, thoughtfully and compassionately (as she herself would want to be treated), a strong customer base can be built up. People will want to shop in that type of store. Suddenly, I want to visit my virtual mall and see what's out there. The beauty of Internet shopping is: NO LINES. Happy shopping!

"The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her."- Marcelene Cox

"We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops."- Henny Youngman
(Necklace featured in this post is for sale in my Artfire shop.)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Variety


Do you have a jewelry wardrobe? I must confess, I do, very much so. I am practically the Imelda Marcos of earrings (minus the attitude of greed and privilege). Sometimes I feel a bit embarrassed to have such an obvious addiction to and affinity for jewelry. It is as if I were the type of person who dresses my small canine in teeny leather bomber jackets and tuxedos- just a wee bit obsessed and oblivious to the quizzical stares of others. As a jewelry artist I feel a bit more justified in adding to my collection. I've got to wear my own designs, don't I? And I simply must support my fellow jewelry artists (Endangered Creations, Sassy Glass Designs, Made for an Angel, etc.) by purchasing a few of their designs, don't I? But the bottom line is, truly, that I simply love jewelry. I revel in it. My motto is: don't leave home without it. You are not dressed unless you have a pair of earrings bobbing from your ears, at the very least, in addition to a swipe of your favorite lip color atop those pretty lips.

My mother taught me that jewelry is simply not worth having unless it is the 'real deal'. No costume pieces for me, as a general rule, though there have been rare exceptions (especially if vintage is involved).This does not mean that my jewelry must be luxurious or expensive. However, it is essential that my jewelry consist of high quality materials that are constructed in a solid and reliable way. I favor color in my jewelry- sometimes very intense and rich, sometimes very subtle and natural. I love both sterling silver and gold, especially unique, one-of-a-kind pieces crafted by an artist. I love natural stones and glass beads. I am very selective (some might say, PICKY) about jewelry I select for my own use. I have the same point of view regarding jewelry that I create for others to wear.

It is difficult for me to understand women who confine themselves to one small set of jewelry. Just one or two necklaces, bracelets, sets of earrings and a smattering of rings that they wear almost exclusively on a daily basis. I would get bored with that, I'm afraid. I love variety, the unexpected, in my jewelry. To wear the same jewelry everyday, for me, would be like wearing the same clothes everyday. Just. Not. Happening. Besides, I feel it is only fair to give each and every little treasure I own a spin around town, a chance to see daylight. I am wildly impractical in my viewpoints on baubles. But, hey, I am scathingly practical when it comes to shoes. I only wear comfortable (and I mean COMFORTABLE) shoes. No stiletto heels for this girl. Gotta balance the scales somehow, right?

So take a minute to tell me, which type of jewelry person are you? One regular set or a wardrobe to reflect your mood?

(The colorful earrings featured in this post are available in my Artfire shop.)
"Not on one strand are all life's jewels strung."- William Morris
"Variety is the soul of pleasure."- Aphra Behn

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Studious


School has officially opened in our area. The little munchkins are ensconced in their classrooms, tucked in with their books and their pencils, hopefully gleaning a spot of education from time to time. The best part- Mom has a smidgen of time to herself to catch up on housework (ha ha), to quietly curl up with a book or a blanket (even better),or to create a work of art (or two). My child asked me one day last year, "Mom, what do you do while I'm in school all day?". I enumerated a list of my activities for that day and the swift response from the kid was, "Is that all you could manage to accomplish for the seven whole hours I was gone?". I formed a frown between my eyes, pursed my lips, took a breath and started to defend myself. But then I thought, "So what? So what if I only get a few things done? Or nothing?". Life is not always about what you produce. Sometimes the best thing is to just play hooky from the laundry and go to the early morning flick at the theater (the best time EVER). Just don't confess it to anyone when you do. And, in my case, it's always a good idea to destroy the evidence (throw away the movie stub) before the kid discovers it.

The vintage postcard featured in this post is 99 years old (!). Obviously, the theme of the card is school. However, I am deeply perplexed as to what the message actually means on this card. Who, exactly, is Ophelia? And why is she sticking her tongue out and acting loopy? Who is the odd looking fellow behind her? A stalker? A friend? What does "They'll never get ripe if you pick 'em" really mean in this context? One possible explanation: if you drop out of school, you'll never have a complete education. You'll wind up wandering the streets, looking vaguely like Ophelia there. I don't know. Anybody else have any theories out there? Share your views. At any rate, it is a charming, if somewhat strange little card. Just wanted to share since it's 'Back to School' time!
I have been putting some new items in my stores lately, Now that school is open, more things will be stocked every couple of days. Every item is unique- I don't make duplicates as a general rule. So if you see something you like, snap it up! That's what I do, perhaps more often than I should. I never learn.
"The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows."- Sydney J. Harris
"I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework."- Lily Tomlin as 'Edith Ann'
"Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire."- William Butler Yeats

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Available


Just putting everyone on notice: my stores are open again after a brief break. The storefronts have been re-decorated and I am working on re-stocking a bit at a time. Shipping costs have been lowered. Please feel free to browse!

Also, to those who may be interested, I do custom work on jewelry and beads. Please contact me thru either one of my shops if you have a request. Happy browsing!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fresh


I have been absent. My absence was supposed to be due to a much-needed vacation. That was the original plan. But life has a way of making it's own plans and we have no choice but to follow. The day before I was to leave on my planned, plotted, course-laid-in journey, my back decided to spaz out in a big way ( a recurring problem). Bottom line: I had to stay home while others in the family went on vacation anyway. Well, I didn't want everyone to miss out while I stayed home. How very noble of me. Truth is, I felt as if I had been forcibly imprisoned. So I did what all good prisoners do. I fought valiantly against my bonds and, after accepting the utter futility of my circumstances, I finally resigned myself to it and made the best of an unpleasant situation. Tears and frustration only accomplish so much, after all. It was time to turn things around.

I decided to use my time to make gobs of jewelry and beads. I could only work in short, frequent bursts. But I got a lot done and feel rather satisfied in the end. I closed my online stores in order to take my trip. Since I did not go, I revamped my stores and will soon be opening them once again, stocked with some fresh goodies. I'll give notice of the re-opening. Please come for a visit!

(Beads pictured in this post will soon be available for purchase.)

"Life isn't fair. It's just fairer than death, that's all."- 'The Princess Bride'

"Reality continues to ruin my life."- Calvin and Hobbes

Friday, July 31, 2009

Exuberance


Here is a little something I whipped up for myself. Yup, for me. I rarely make things for myself. These colors were crying out to me, as was this design. I think the result is adorable. They are lightweight and swingy- quite eye-catching. It's so hard to be a guinea pig.

I will be cranking out more earrings with this design for you, if you desire. You know you do. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Challenge


"To be tested is good. The challenged life may be the best therapist."- Gail Sheehy


Challenges are stimulating, invigorating, and motivating. They can get your creative carcass off it's rump, get your inventive juices flowing once more. Recently, a friend handed me a plastic baggie full of seashells and asked me if I could do something with them. Without hesitation, I answered in the affirmative, confident that I could come up with something. I had no idea what I would do with those shells; I just knew that I would eventually have an idea. I picked through them and started playing around with them and, finally, "Fantasea" was born. I am pleased with the outcome, as was my friend. It is unique and colorful- an artistic piece. What is more, I still have a bag full of the remaining shells to work with when I feel the urge.

Working on this piece got me to thinking about other types of challenges. In daily life, we may face tremendous physical, mental or emotional challenges that may make it difficult simply to desire to get out of bed in the morning. It has occurred to me that I should approach life challenges in the same way that I faced that bag of shells- confident that, somehow, I can do something with the fragments and shards of problems before me that seem useless or hopeless. Play around with those problems until an inventive way to deal with them pops in my head. Don't give up on them or view the whole mess as garbage to be tossed. And realize that there exists more than one solution to most problems. Sometimes solutions don't come easily, or they may never present themselves. But at the very least, a way can be found to cope.
"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."- Herm Albright
"The impossible can always be broken down into possibilities."- Unknown

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Passion


Swishing skirts, clacking castanets, vigorous guitar, stomping heels- the flamenco dance is quite a passionate display of emotion and movement. I love to watch the unabashed expressions on the dancers' faces as they are caught up in the fever of the dance. Latin dance appeals to so many people and for good reason. It is powerful, expressive and bold- nothing shy or retiring about it. When it comes to dancing, I am a bit reluctant to 'cut loose' on the dance floor. I am working on that. Part of my therapy includes watching dancers throw their hearts into the dance.

One of my favorite foreign films is "Shall We Dance?" (not to be confused with the Richard Gere/ Jennifer Lopez film). The version I favor came out before the more recent Gere/ Lopez version. It is a Japanese film and is utterly charming. To me, it truly captures the great reluctance some feel on the dance floor, which the later film did not repeat. I highly recommend it as a general education in overcoming shyness. Watch it, if you can!

Speaking of passion, the asymmetrical necklace featured in this post is a project I have been working on for a while. Recently, I included this piece in a post about procrastination. Well, I finally quit procrastinating! The intense magenta, pinks and reddish oranges always thrill my senses. This piece also has a vintage touch- the floral components, reminiscent of those ruffled flamenco skirts, are enameled metal components from the sixties. I wired them up to create individual posies and strung them with freshwater pearls, pink crazylace agate, Czech glass, sterling silver and one of my own lampwork focal beads. Makes me want to clack castanets, stomp my feet and toss my curly, dark mane!

"We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance."- Japanese proverb

"Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels."- Faith Whittlesey

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cosmos


OK- I'll admit it. I am a sci-fi geek. I have always enjoyed watching sci-fi movies. I am a HUGE Star Trek fan. My parents got me started on sci-fi, actually, when I was a wee girl. We used to whip up our TV dinners, crack out the ole' TV trays and settle in for some Captain Kirk and Mister Spock. Good times. I once attended a Star Trek convention. Admittedly, I was there for people-watching more than anything else. (You wouldn't believe how serious some of those people are about Star Trek. Fascinating.) And don't EVEN get me started on Star Wars. Naturally, I have passed on the science fiction torch to my own child.
Along with an interest in science fiction is my avid interest in astronomy. I follow all the activities of NASA (such as the recent repair of the Hubble telescope) and hope someday soon to visit a large observatory. There is nothing more beautiful than being able to see the night sky in some remote location, far from interfering city lights. Several years ago we were camping on top of a 10,000+ foot high mountain in Wyoming. The closest city was about 50 miles away and there was no moon. We just put our heads back and watched an incredible meteor display for hours. Breathtaking.
The more I learn about objects in the night sky, the more I want to learn. I am amazed by the beauty and quantity of galaxies, the rarity of comets, and what causes meteor showers. So much to learn and be continuously inspired by!
(Earrings in this post are on sale now in my Etsy shop.)
"A sparkling trail/ Of cosmic glitterati/Attracts attention."-- Moon Katty Studios
"I open the scuttle at night and see the far sprinkled systems..."- Walt Whitman
"To Infinity and Beyond!"- Buzz Lightyear

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Discovery


I have made a fun discovery. I have a wonderful collection of vintage postcards that I inherited from my father. Most of them were actually mailed and have written messages on them. I just realized that several of them are actually little secret love notes sent between my grandparents, including mysterious secret codes that I cannot decipher (yet). What a serendipitous find! Most of these are dated from the very early 1900's. The one pictured in this post was sent from my grandfather to my grandmother, before they were married. The message on the back includes a charming and undoubtedly daring (for its day) little poem, written in my grandfather's own quirky handwriting: "Crackers are dry without cheese/ So is a kiss without a squeeze." Oooooo, so racy! I have never stopped to think about how these two individuals, my grandparents, originated their relationship. I barely remember my grandmother, who died when I was 12. My grandfather died when I was a baby, so I never really knew him. I've seen lots of pictures, naturally. But finding these cards and the long-ago sentiments inscribed upon them really brings these people to life in a sense. Without them and their love, I would not be here. This particular card is from 1908, originally sent over 100 years ago. Wow.

"Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."- Robert Heinlein

"You don't have to go looking for love when it's where you come from."- Werner Erhard

Friday, July 3, 2009

Inscrutable


It is a mystery to me how to accomplish all I want to do. My studio is a muddle of beads and wire. My mind is whirling with design ideas. At the same time, I have dinner to cook and laundry to attend to, shirts to iron and sinks to clean. I am pulled in many directions. A common problem for most women. The good part? I get to make art a lot! Not as much as I'd like, but that's OK. I think the biggest challenge is getting the goodies in the shop once I make them. I have to photograph them, Photoshop the photos (size them, adjust lighting, etc.), post pics in my gallery, list the items in one of my shops and then post a tweet and/or a blog post to notify folks of the new listings. Whew!

Right now I am scrambling to get a number of new items into my shops, so keep your eyes peeled for coming attractions! (I wonder about the origin of the phrase 'keep your eyes peeled'. Not a very appetizing picture.)
"I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it."- Harry Emerson Fosdick

The beads pictured in this post are now available in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Venetia


I have always wanted to see Venice. It just screams romance and historic charm. The closest I'll probably get is the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, which would actually work fine for me. No passports! Maybe someday...

Until then, I just made this pretty necklace to make me feel Venetian vibes. It is available in my Artfire shop.

"Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liquers in one go."- Truman Capote

"All that glisters is not gold."- from 'Merchant of Venice' by William Shakespeare

"I stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs/ A palace and a prison on each hand."- Lord Byron

Monday, June 29, 2009

Intricate


I do love intricate design. Especially intricate design that seems deceptively simple. My own design aesthetic includes a strong affinity for elaborate creations. Simplicity appeals to me to some degree. Interestingly, simplicity can often be more challenging to achieve than complexity. But I tend to be drawn to things that are reminiscent of history (such as items from the Art Nouveau period), have a vintage flavor, or that seem to resonate with the ornate colors and structures found in nature. I derive a great satisfaction in creating complicated designs that look as if someone from 100 years ago might have worn it. Of course, anything I might devise is a poor imitation of the true intricacies found in the natural world. But it is enjoyable to let those natural complexities spur my imagination.

"The whole is simpler than the sum of its parts."- Willard Gibbs

"The most complex things are the simplest."- Agni Celeste

(Earrings featured in this post are available in my Artfire shop.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Moniker


Sunset Boulevard. Rodeo Drive. Broadway. Bourbon Street. Champs Elysees- famous street names, all. When we hear these names, our imaginations conjure up pictures of these places, perhaps a personal experience or thoughts of a dream vacation. Whenever I hear these street names, or perhaps other, more ordinary ones here at home, I wonder about the person whose job it is to name streets. Ironically, I have no idea what the name of this occupation could be. (Enlighten me, if you can!) What I do know is that this is a job that appeals to me. It takes imagination and innovation to come up with interesting names. Of course, not all streets have thought-provoking names. Some are quite unimaginative, merely informative (Airport Way) or functional (2nd Street). Even then, they serve a purpose, as all names do. Names trigger recognition, act as an identity or function as a way to categorize. Names pigeonhole people, places and things- making it easier to pinpoint someone, somewhere or something.

Humans have always possessed a strong compulsion to bestow names. I, too, enjoy this pastime in connection with my bead and jewelry business. I adore naming my art! I give each name a tremendous amount of thought before I officially christen a piece. The names are inspired by patterns that emerge from the glass, striking color combinations, or thematic elements applied to my designs. Sometimes I garner names from word association or word play. The bead featured in this post is named "Dutch Baby". Now, why in the world did I name it that way? In actuality, a Dutch Baby is a type of German pancake, sprinkled with powdered sugar. Obviously, this bead bears no resemblance to a pancake of any sort. What it does remind me of is a bulb, which makes me think of flower bulbs, which leads me to tulips, which are Dutch in origin... well, you get the idea. Thus, "Dutch Baby" was born!

So, have fun naming your works of art, writings, children and pets. Names are important and can be deal-breakers if not thoughtfully bestowed. But if a name is catchy, it will linger in the memory, a desirable end.

(Bead featured in this post is available in my Artfire shop.)

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet."- Shakespeare

"Words have meaning and names have power."- Anonymous

"The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love."- Margaret Atwood

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Verdant


Have you ever taken a stroll in a pine forest? There is no quiet like the quiet in a forest. A carpet of fallen pine needles to deaden your footfall, the astringent scent of pine in the air, filtered sunlight breaking through the trees, dust motes drifting in the shafts of light- you are immersed in peace. All the while, unseen creatures note your passage. Well, mostly unseen.

My last visit to a forest was a trip to southern Colorado near the town of Cuchara. We camped in a lovely national forest park called Bear Lake, high in the mountains. We had visited there twice before and had never been disappointed by the beauty of our surroundings. Never once had we seen a bear, despite the name of the place. But this trip proved to be different. We were fishing at the lake, as were many of the campers that day. Someone across the small lake yelled out, "BEAR!!". Silly me, I thought they had shouted, "DEER", and I looked around to see if I could spot it. Twenty feet away from me, I see it. Not a deer, but a brown bear. Yikes! So, ever so casually, we gather our belongings and start beating a retreat to our vehicle. Well, we intended to casually walk, but the kid opted for all-out panic and ran like the wind. After that, it was every man for himself. That bear chased off every person at the lake. I was nervous but quite exhilarated, in truth.

Later that day, at twilight, I was in the RV, alone, all of the windows open, washing dishes. The rest of the family had gone to get water. Again I hear someone shout,"Bear in the camp!". This time I look out the window and, lo, there is the large lovely creature, right there, sniffing my grill outside my camper. I was captivated. I softly said,"Wow", loud enough, unfortunately, to turn the bear's attention in my direction. He strolled right over and stuck his head in my window for a whiff of me. I did not breathe. He was one foot away from me, with only a flimsy screen between us. I started thinking of the scene from the movie, Jurassic Park, where the velociraptors open a door with their claws and wonder if this bear is that intelligent. Thankfully, right then, some of my fellow campers ran over to my site to scare the bear off. Many tent campers packed up and skedaddled. For the rest of the trip, I never felt comfortable to hike in the forest again, though there were no more bear sightings by our group. I am a city girl, after all. But, what an experience! I am still a bit skittish about encountering bears, but I love to visit their world. And I definitely respect that the forest belongs to the usually unseen critters inhabiting it.
(Bead featured in photo available for purchase in my Artfire store.)

"Camping: nature's way of promoting the motel industry."- Dave Barry

"If you tell a joke in the forest but nobody laughs, was it a joke?"- Stephen Wright

"Some men go through a forest and see no firewood."- English proverb

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Equilibrium


What is "equilibrium"? It has been defined as "a state in which opposing forces are balanced", "the state of being physically balanced", "a calm state of mind". Sounds like a desirable quality in any definition. I often think about this quality in my bead and jewelry designs. I strive to achieve a balance in any design I create. For a long time I thought this meant I needed a perfectly symmetrical design. I worked hard to achieve symmetry at all costs. Then one day a favorite client asked me to create a purposely asymmetrical piece for her. This was a new concept for me. I felt confident I could do it. I just needed to alter how I view balance. I began to see that sometimes symmetry can be oddly disturbing. Many of the designs I make now are what one would describe as asymmetrical. I call these pieces "symmetrically asymmetrical", visually dissonant, yet somehow harmonious.

Actually, this dissonance, this off-kilter way of design has taught me a number of valuable lessons. I find that the principles I apply to my designs also have a practical application to my daily life. In my earlier years, everything for me had to be PERFECT- not a hair out of place, not a speck of dust to be seen, all in utter control. As I matured, and especially after becoming a mother, I realized that I needed to lighten up, relax my rigid standards, take a deep breath and just BE. I think motherhood especially taught me to have more flexibility. You just can't be fretting over every little toy you stumble over or you will drive yourself mad (not to mention, the rest of your beloved family). I still attempt to have a measure of control over my little world- keep the clutter somewhat at bay, keep the house fairly presentable. But who am I kidding? Life is a jumble of unexpected events, as unpredictable as the weather. We may be able to have a general plan for how we want things done, but we need to be flexible enough to complete those plans in more than one way. In jewelry, as in life, sometimes things don't go as you planned. You lose some beads, you drop your work-in-progress: frustrations happen. But when they do, cry if you need to, then gather up your pieces and begin again. Your next plan may be even better than your original intent!

"The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn."- Anonymous

"Better to bend than break."- French proverb

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stimulus


I have been quite preoccupied lately, constantly distracted by so many things. I am having a very hard time focusing on my art. I have so many projects waiting in the wings. Usually, I have no trouble in simply just beginning a new project. But for the first time in ages, I find myself grasping for inspiration. All the things that usually inspire me are not working this time. I find myself procrastinating. I suppose this means I need to find a new muse.

One of the things clamoring for my attention lately is the fact that I am needing to adjust my schedule to allow for more time in the kitchen. Recently we learned that various family members are having some health challenges that require dietary adjustments. Seeing as I am the designated cook, this means that I am now having some kitchen challenges that require time adjustments. Not to mention that I am now scouring the bookstores and Internet to find cookbooks and recipes to fit the new regime. Last night I spent no less than 2.5 hours cooking dinner, which was then consumed within 20 minutes. Clean-up afterwards took another 45 minutes (heavy sigh). Somehow, the whole experience was oddly unsatisfying. The positive note in all of this is that the food was yummy and well received. Well, it definitely will not be a bad thing to be more conscious of the quality of food eaten in the home. I just wish it could be more convenient to prepare!

Struggling to carve out creative time could be good for me. I have always been pretty fortunate to have time for artistic pursuits readily available to me. Perhaps this is where my inspiration can begin, in my struggles to find the time for art. Meanwhile, I sit and stare at my pending projects laid out on my worktable, willing them into some semblance of beauty. Wait for it...

(Photo shows two beading projects just on the cusp of birth. Maybe today...)

"If we did the things we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves."- Thomas Edison

"Concentrate all your thoughts on the task at hand. The sun's rays do not burn until brought to a focus."- Alexander Graham Bell

"Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value."- Jim Rohn

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dulcet


Usually I associate the word "sweet" with something wonderfully delicious, like chocolate chip cookies or Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory or... but I digress. Much less damaging to your girlish figure are the sounds of sweet music. I love so many types of music I hardly know where to begin in selecting a favorite genre or musical artist. I believe that what I most favor in music depends on my mood at the time, or perhaps on the mood I wish to create. In years past, I studied music and played a musical instrument at school (the clarinet). While I never became the next Benny Goodman, I did learn to deeply understand music. I still long to play music in an ensemble because there is nothing like sitting with fellow musicians and making beautiful music. It is a singular experience. The closest I get to that feeling now is to crank up the tune of my choice and immerse myself in the mood of the music. I like to dissect a melody and learn to listen to each layer of it. Lately I've been particularly drawn to classical music, specifically, the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. I love the structure and organization of his music, combined with a lilting beauty and some sorrow. It always touches me deeply and somehow perfectly expresses my own joys and sorrows.

I especially love to listen to music when I am creating art. Unfortunately, it is difficult to listen to music as I make glass beads at the torch. My torch, while dependable and hard-working, is annoyingly loud. The only way I can effectively listen to anything is via earplugs, which I hate to wear. (I foresee a new torch purchase in my near future.) Despite the noise factor of my equipment, I still find that listening to tunes while I work is amazingly inspiring. Listening to classical music helps me to produce refined pieces. Listening to rock inspires pieces with an edgier look, and so on. Music can influence you in ways you don't expect. I do believe it is important to be selective in the type of music I listen to. If I am in a particularly bad mood, angry music will not improve my mood but, rather, increase my irritation. So I try to keep that in mind and select tunes that will edify me and my feelings.

I also like to try new sounds on for size from time to time. It always amazes my younger friends when I am familiar with a current band. I like to keep people a little off-balance that way! Keeps things interesting and keeps me fresh.

"A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence."- Leopold Stokowski

"Music's the medicine of the mind."- John A. Logan

(Bead featured in this post is available in my Etsy shop.)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Vintage


My father was a collector. He enjoyed the details of items, the history of them. He collected many things: books, record albums, stamps, coins and postcards. I have most of his collections intact. I love to look through them and try to piece together what made my dad 'tick'. Today I was looking through his old postcard collection. Wow. Most of them are dated from the early part of the 20th century through World War II. They are fascinating to study. The artwork on the cards is simply lovely. Many of them were actually mailed from locations around the world to various members of my father's family. He was a magpie as a boy, who must have begged for these cards from his relatives. The postcard pictured in the photo is dated November 29, 1944. It was sent to my dad's older sister by a soldier that she knew. The French caption on the front translates as, "Our love knows no boundary!". What a sweet sentiment. I think the cartoon is utterly charming. I am equally charmed by the personal message on the flip side. It is not what I would consider romantic, but quite warm and friendly in nature. Maybe the man was shy or uncertain of his relationship with the lady recipient, my aunt. Or maybe he just had a fun sense of humor and thought she would enjoy the picture. Either way, it is a tiny window into someones life from a long time ago. I wonder about how the sender's life progressed. I'm glad I got a chance to peer into it. I'll share more postcards with you in the future. There are so many interesting ones to see!
"In youth we run into difficulties; in old age difficulties run into us."- Josh Billings
"Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be."- Robert Browning

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Girly


When I was a young lady, I really wasn't. I was quite undeniably a tomboy when it came to appearances. I was taught to conduct myself in a lady-like fashion and I truly believed in and applied good manners. I occasionally wore dresses when my mother required it. Otherwise, I happily tore around the neighborhood in play clothes. My mother tried, oh how she tried, to get me to wear pretty colors, like red, purple and pink. When I was deemed old enough to select my own wardrobe, I favored beige, black and, oddly, mustard yellow. Bleh. What was I thinking back then? My dad always said, "Youth is wasted on the young." So true. I had a plethora of lovely colors to choose from and I favored mostly safe, reliable neutrals, eschewing anything lovely. People used to ask me if I was in mourning due to my somber color choices. Good friends would ask me if I was depressed. Obviously, a change was in order. But it wasn't until I reached womanhood that I suddenly underwent a transformation. I embraced all things colorful. I began an intensive study of color theory and came to understand the subtle nuances of it all. I discovered that I have an 'eye' for color. Admittedly, I still adore black as a basic. But now I accent black with spots of lively color. I like feminine touches (though I will never be a lace and ruffle fan). It's fun to be a girl! But a little bit of tomboy never hurt anyone (well, maybe that annoying boy in first grade who was always trying to kiss me).
(Bead featured in detail photograph is called "Girl at Heart" and is available in my Etsy store.)

"When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/ With a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me."- Jenny Joseph

Friday, May 8, 2009

Culmination


I am amazed at what can be accomplished when a deadline looms before my eyes. Does this mean I work best under pressure? Perhaps. I know that a deadline gives me a sense of purpose; and a sense of purpose spurs my production level. My inspiration is stirred when I KNOW that I must complete a project within a given timeframe. The only thing that freezes my blood to ice is when I am being hounded to completion. In that case, inspiration flees my mind, to huddle in dark corners. I cannot lure it out unless I leave it alone for a time, make it crave to be wandering free once again. Knowing this about myself forces me to plan must-do projects accordingly. A little pressure is not undesirable, so long as it does not morph into a pushy monster that destroys my creative joy.

Today I completed the lovely trio of necklaces arrayed so fetchingly in the accompanying photo. I adore all three of them and hope the new owners of them will feel the same affection for them. These necklaces are intended as gifts for teachers at my child's school. The designs simply flowed from my imagination like water. They are basically simple and straightforward in their complexity; but I am quite satisfied with them. I especially love the faceted pearl design on the left. The lampwork focal bead is my own and sparked the color combo for this piece. I think it has a Bollywood flavor- love it! Today's deadline made me feel happy with my art, even motivating me to follow through on some non-art related work. How cool is that?

"A goal is a dream with a deadline."- Napoleon Hill
"All you have to do is know where you're going. The answers will come to you of their own accord."- Earl Nightingale
"Nothing encourages creativity like the chance to fall flat on one's face."- James D. Finley
"The little dissatisfaction which every artist feels at the completion of a work forms the germ of a new work."- Berthold Auerbach

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Resplendent


Pageantry, pomp and circumstance, majesty, nobility- sounds a bit intimidating. Royal courts and those who inhabit them always fascinate us, though, don't they? I have always been especially interested in Elizabethan (Tudor, that is) history. The clothing and jewelry styles of the Tudor period are often quite detailed and elaborate. Seems to me that it would have been mind-bogglingly uncomfortable to go through an entire day all gussied-up like that. Not an elastic waistband in sight. Pity.
"Pretty is the queen that rules our land."- Carrie Latet

I have just put a couple of new and ornate jewelry items in my Artfire shop. Please browse at your leisure!

(Earrings -called "Rouge Queen"- featured in this post are in store now. "Divasphere" bracelet also available.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gratuitous


Generally, I am not a dog person. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against dogs. I have had or been around dogs all of my life. But my preference for a pet is a cat. Ironically, I don't have a cat. I do, however, have a dog. This dog. Her name is Bella. She is the closest pet to a cat that you could wish for. She snuggles in your lap every time you sit. She zeroes in on the people who are not necessarily dog-fans and makes them relate to her. She is highly interactive with her humans. She also has some very dog-like tendencies. She is quite talkative. She really, truly does care about who is at the door. She is a table-scrap aficionado. She likes to dance. She has a propensity to lick people. A lot. But, doggone it, I like the little critter! Plus, when I show her a new jewelry piece or glass beads I have made, she seems genuinely interested. Or else she thinks it is a treat. Either way, I'm flattered.
"My little dog- a heartbeat at my feet."- Edith Wharton
"Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that is how dogs spend their lives."- Sue Murphy

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Singular


Custom orders stimulate my imagination, especially when I know the person I am creating a piece for. I like nothing better than to receive a jewelry or bead custom order that is built around a specific color combination or style. If I know the customer personally, I think about who they are, what they love, their clothes, whether they are introverted or extroverted, quiet or animated. All of these factors influence what I ultimately create. If I do not know the customer, things get a bit more challenging. Then I have to do a bit of sleuthing to determine a design direction. Ask questions, talk to people who are close to the client. To be successful at custom work, I think you need to be in tune to people to some degree. As an artist, you definitely desire to be free to create what inspires you. To do custom work, though, requires you sacrifice some of your own desires to consider exactly what the client enjoys and then interpret that using you own artistic style. To me, this is the ultimate test as an artist. I love it, though sometimes I miss the mark and need to start over again. It keeps me humble.
Lately, I have been doing a great deal of custom work with a twist: remodeling old jewelry pieces. It seems like a form of recycling, in a way, getting those neglected old pieces of jewelry in your collection out and finding a way to rework them into something wonderful! So, please feel free to contact me if you feel a jewelry renovation is in order. Or if only something new is the answer, you know what to do!
(The bracelet in photo is available in my Artfire shop.)

"Jewelry takes people's minds off your wrinkles."- Sonja Henie

"These gems have life in them: their colors speak, say what words fail of."- George Eliot

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Misunderstood


I am ever interested in the misunderstood persons who pepper our lives. Each one of us has, at times, felt the discomfort of being read incorrectly. When we have been misread, trying to convince the one who has misunderstood us is so often fruitless and frustrating. Complex personalities especially suffer in this regard. Even when we are well-acquainted with a complex person, we may impute wrong motives to their expressed thoughts and actions. For the misunderstood soul, life can be very frustrating, indeed. Sometimes the easiest way to express oneself can be through art. Since art is so visual, the artist's meaning can often be plainly expressed. When I think of oft-misunderstood persons, Vincent Van Gogh comes to my mind. Van Gogh undeniably had "issues". He was edgy and unstable. He was frequently depressed, and frequently hospitalized for his mental instabilities. Sadly, he died at a fairly young age by his own hand. I imagine he would have been a challenging person to befriend in life. I sense that he needed friends desperately. He needed to be understood and loved, as all humans do.

I attended a wonderful museum exhibit of Van Gogh's work a few months ago. Interestingly, some of the things that stood out consistently in his art are his compassion for humanity, his growth as a human and his evolving use of joyous color in his later works. Those who study Van Gogh often refer to his somewhat unhinged use of line and form in his art; but I can't help but appreciate the simple joy Van Gogh obviously found in nature, people and high-color contrasts. Color has a healing effect on our moods. To the extent possible, whether he realized it or not, art served as a form of self-therapy for Van Gogh. He was amazingly prolific, producing more than 2000 works in the last ten years of his life. I can only imagine what wonders he might have produced had he lived out a normal lifespan. In his lifetime, he only sold one of his paintings four months before his death. Ironically, now his works are studied and revered the world over.

Van Gogh's use of color inspires me in my own artwork. I love the quirkiness of line and form in his work, as well. The lines he used look as if the subjects of his works are melting together in a swirling riot of color. Van Gogh's art was incredibly expressive of his emotions and passions and utterly unique. I feel as if, in some small way, he has succeeded in revealing his inmost self to us and proved that he harbored great beauty inside his troubled exterior. What more could any artist hope to achieve?
"I dream of painting and then I paint my dream."
"A good picture is equivalent to a good deed."
"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way."
(All of the above quotes are by Vincent Van Gogh)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sanctum


The dainty rustle of delicate maple leaves, casting intricate shadows on the path that lies before you. A hushed aura envelops you as you move deeper into the garden- a siren's call of cherry blossoms and teahouses, koi ponds and bamboo fences. Around every bend is a tiny world of delight, a fresh cozy pleasure. Japanese gardens are designed to contain little visual surprises, hidden views that caress your senses and arouse an air of mystery. You are compelled to continue your peaceful explorations and discover the next delicious scene. This type of garden is a collection of seemingly natural cubbyholes, all linked together in one exquisite open-air space. To me, strolling through a Japanese garden is one of life's great pleasures. I feel as if I am all alone in that beautiful sanctuary and am utterly safe. How I long to create a space like this in my own home. Gardening is not my forte, though I do enjoy it. Creating my own Japanese garden is probably a bit too ambitious for me. Instead, I relish the thought of making a space in my home with the same cubbyhole flavor of a Japanese garden- a space that is mine alone, my own "Fortress of Solitude".

Privacy is challenging to find in today's world. We will not simply stumble upon it. We must make it for ourselves. Once we have secured that privacy, we must fiercely protect it lest other things or persons struggle to encroach upon it. We run at a hectic pace in our daily lives and need a place of escape. So it is imperative that we claim a space somewhere in our home that can be our haven. If you are an artist or a writer, it is very likely that you have already found your space of peace. Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have an entire studio or office to call your own. If so, personalize that space and make it uniquely yours. Surround yourself with what you love, whatever objects and colors inspire you. For me, I like organized clutter and inspirational sayings scattered about. Plan each detail of your sanctuary. After all, it is your space. Foof it up as you see fit. Books, if you enjoy reading; a desk and laptop, if you wish to write; art supplies in your favorite medium, if you want to create art; a chaise lounge for daydreams or naps. Make your retreat into a place that will calm your nerves and smooth your ruffled feathers: a zone-out zone just for you.

"Language has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone."- Paul Johannes Tillich

"Never be afraid to sit awhile and think."- Lorraine Hansberry

"I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said, 'I want to be left alone.' There is all the difference.- Greta Garbo

Monday, April 6, 2009

Receptacle



A journal is a storage container for the soul. In times past, I never kept a diary. I feared recording my innermost thoughts because I feared discovery. It is intimidating to reveal yourself. Of course, the term "diary" carries with it the implication of privacy. I imagine a little book under lock and key in my mind's eye. The term "journal", on the other hand, implies a more public display. I have recently immersed myself in a colorful form of journaling, specifically, art journaling. I am amazed at how creatively stimulating it is. My mind is brimming with inspiration every time I make an entry in my journal. I awaken ideas for bead and jewelry designs, poems, paintings, even blog posts! I learn to put things together in unexpected ways. An art journal is a factory for inspiration generation and spirit re-generation. Art journaling is surprisingly therapeutic. I highly recommend beginning your own art journal. Don't tell yourself, "I can't draw!" or "I have nothing important to say". Everyone can draw; you used to do it all the time when you were a kid. It's not a contest and doesn't have to be perfect. Even if you only draw abstract forms, the colors and shapes you choose reveal much regarding your moods. And as for what to say: if you don't know where to start, there are a number of websites that have prompts to get your mental juices flowing. Who knows where journaling may lead you? In the meantime, enjoy the process.


"Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us."- Oscar Wilde


"Every man's memory is his private literature."- Aldous Huxley


"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." - Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith



Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Feisty


I am adding a new feature to my blog. Periodically I will be posting a photo of subjects that amuse and inspire me. Today's post is of a feisty nature, both spirited and lively. This is a real diner, a diner that I visited and will undoubtedly patronize again. I LOVE the name, don't you? I was reminded of Happy Bunny, for some reason. I did not get to meet the proprietor, Pam. I hope I do in future. She sounds like she does not suffer fools lightly yet has a tremendous sense of humor. The diner's walls are adorned with sassy quotes, cowboy-related ephemera and pistols (!). The atmosphere is light-hearted yet vaguely threatening. The food was very good. (Guess I'd better give it a resounding endorsement, if I value my hide.) This place stirred up my own inner feisty chica . Unleash your sassy self!

"Well-behaved women rarely make history."- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

"Women complain about pre-menstrual syndrome, but I think of it as the only time of the month that I can be myself."- Roseanne Barr

"Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused."- Unknown

Friday, March 27, 2009

Inquisitive


An inquisitive nature is often at the root of controversy. Curiosity leads to questions which can then lead to growth and discovery. Conversely, if misused, curiosity can get us into trouble if it becomes intrusive or meddlesome. Where to find the balance, to draw the line so as not to offend or trespass upon another's privacy? In daily life there is a benefit in simply minding our own business. Do not probe into other's affairs unless directly invited to do so. Of course, there are exceptions to this; in times of peril it may be absolutely necessary to "butt in". However, the type of curiosity I am specifically referring to is of a less personal nature- a creative inquisitiveness. Questions in the creative arena often open new doors of understanding and purpose. For instance, consider these basic questions: "why?", "how?" and "what?". When learning a new art form, asking WHY a particular tool is used, WHY a particular method should be applied, WHY this particular color would work best can lead to amazing technical discoveries, even to the invention of new techniques. Asking why may even cause us to question the validity of always 'following the rules' and force us to find our own maverick solutions. Asking why may even lead you to discover things you never knew about yourself, refine your tastes and talents, alter your values. At some point after the why is satisfied, we move on to WHAT to do with the knowledge we've gained and HOW to do it. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Curiosity can stimulate our growth as artists and keep our passion glowing. Feed the inquisitive beast! It's the only way to keep our curiosity alive.

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education."- Albert Einstein

"Curiosity is the very basis of education and even if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly."- Arnold Edinborough

"Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was the suspect."- Stephen Wright

(Focal bead featured in this post is available in my Etsy shop.)