Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Easy Peasy

Erin Siegel recently shared a tutorial on bracelets made with a bead closure, waxed linen, and a link. You can find it here. I loved the idea. So simple and fun and really quite elegant in its simplicity.

And easy, except for the part where I tied knots in two strands of leather and had to force the leather through the beautiful glass beads by Julianna, and I didn't have a bead that was right for the closure. But really all together too easy once I worked things out.

After several minutes (maybe 30 or so) of frustration trying to fit the round peg in the square hole, a light bulb went on. Probably all of you have had this particular light bulb on for several years. So you can go ahead and snicker if you like. But do it quietly OK :-) Yep, that's it. A pair of sissors and a couple of deft clips and that leather slid right through the bead holes.  My knotting technique still needs some serious improvement.

I'm feeling pretty pleased with the closure on this. It's one of my bronze bead caps that I dapped a little too vigorously and bad things happened to the hole in it and the edges went a little wonky. I love when I can save something that was destined for the rubbish bin. I really like how the leather loop kind snugs up under the bead cap. I've had this bracelet on all day. I am never taking it off. Well maybe I'll take it off to shower. But otherwise, never ever.

Thanks, Erin for this great idea. I'm making another one for a special person. Mostly because when that special person comes to visit this fall, I know for sure that if I don't, she will be wearing this one on her way home.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Bronze Garden

A little while ago I talked about how the garden and all the green and growing things has rather captured my soul since we moved here to North Carolina. I've had little bits and bobs of drawings and doodles of those garden things that take my fancy. Things like new leaves on plants, tomato blossoms, and coreopsis seed heads. Just this last week some of those ideas have taken root and come out in the studio work. I'm rather pleased :-). I like it a lot when things come together in my little world.

Head pins and bead caps in bronze. Small things. Until very recently I wouldn't have thought to venture down this path. But it seemed right and a perfect way to express the tiny little wonders growing out there.

Some things won't make the cut. Others will stay. The head pins all have fired in bronze wire. I'm used to working with brass. Brass is  kind of a stiff and sometimes challenging metal to work with in wire wrapping. Bronze wire is all together different. Much softer and a much softer colour. I made really long wires because I really hate when you are working with a head pin and you have to work so hard to get that last bit of wrapping done. Oh and I love the size of the ball ends. I can't draw a bead with a torch that size and they stay bronze colour rather than coppery red.

Totally unrelated and very important is the happy dance we are doing about our old boy Bob. We just got news this evening that his congestive heart failure has been resolved. No evidence at all on his Xrays that he's got heart problems. This is the vey best news!

That look on his face is ecstacy. Peter is giving him a bit of a neck and shoulder massage. He's still got terrible arthritis down his spine but manages pretty well. Now please someone, nearly anyone, come give me a massage.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Alice is a naughty girl

These bronze pieces have nothing to do with naughty Alice. She begged to have a cameo on my blog and we'll get to that later.

I've been working with bronze nearly everyday this week and decided that I might just make myself something. It started with the pendant which has the first mantra I learned on it. Om Mani Padme Hum in Tibetan script. I've taken some liberties with the script and placed the parts vertically.

Sometimes this mantra gets translated as Behold the Jewel in the Lotus. But when I learned it, it wasn't translated at all. It's just a beautiful set of sounds that I find very centering. I can hear it in my head and it is amazing when chanted as a group.

It will be a necklace someday. But I keep adding parts to it. I've found this really soft but strong goat skin leather that I think I'll use in it. I've got more beads for it in the kiln right now. Who knows what will get added next. This necklace seems something like meditation for me. It's a process, it's where ever I am at the moment. It's become quite centering all by itself.

Even though the heat has kept me mostly inside this week, I've still been making a few forays into the garden. The one and only tomato plant is making me smile. I can almost taste the fruit that is still weeks away from ripening. There are 16 tomatoes on this plant in various stages.

I know this because Peter has been out there counting them. Amazing. I've never experienced him being this interested in what's happening out there in the garden. But when you've only got one tomato plant it's pretty easy to indulge yourself in monitoring it with the vigilence of a parent and a new born baby.

Just a few short weeks ago this tomato plant was a tiny little thing. It's grown about a foot a week. Makes me wonder what's in the soil. Or makes me think of this story I heard in primary school, only it's kind of a hazy memory. Something about atomic seeds and plants that grow into the sky. Maybe I'm making that up. I just asked Peter and he has no clue what I'm talking about. He thinks I'm maybe embellishing on Jack in the Bean Stalk. Anyway, maybe I have atomic soil?

This is Alice. Does she look naughty? Some of you may recall the Mystery of the Missing Glove in which she played a star role. Well she is once again on my bad list. This morning she took a romp through my tiny little garden and wiped out half of the carrots and all of the rutabaga. Naughty, naughty girl, and I was even going to share carrots with her. She loves carrots. How could she do this. BAD DOG!

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

I'm going to get up early tomorrow and plant more carrots.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hoooo knew it was Wednesday?

Very lame title, I know. In fact I was going to tell you all about my germination of ideas from the many hours I've spent out there padding around in my bare feet in my garden at the break of dawn. I'm kind of excited about some of the new things and was going to give you a little tour of the studio goings on. But the battery in my camera died. This happens frequently. And every time it happens I say a bunch of curse words and vow to get a back up battery. Then the day turns to night, I sleep, I forget about it until the next time. (repeat cursing and vowing ritual).

Anyhoooo, (can't help myself) this little owl is brand new and I would love to say he was inspired by the barred owls I hear calling from the woods near my home.  But actually, I have this pair of flip flops that have this gorgeous little owl printed in the heel. He's oval and perky and just right. I'd show you a photo but those flip flops have been to heck and back and they are disgusting and dirty and shameful. My little bronze owl doesn't look a thing like that owl in the heel of my flip flops. Somehow, my owls always turn out round and plump. Kind of like me.

The week has kind of gotten away from me. Last I knew it was Monday. I've spent heaps of time in the studio this past week. It's been stinking hot the last couple of days. There is nothing but maintenance work going on out there in my garden. All of the heavy work is going to wait till autumn. So the studio is a really great place to hang out in the AC. Plus, I've got all of those garden inspired ideas bubbling away.

I've been put on notice by my Dallas daughter that complaints about the heat are quite unnecessary. When I was chatting with her last night, she told me they were in their 17th day of temps over 100F. Whew, that's hot. That's a lot of hot.  I think about Texas often and how this year is the worst ever recorded for heat and drought.  I've been through 6 summers of Texas heat and several of them drought years. I really can not imagine how much the drought conditions have worsened since we left in June. My Texas friends, I do think of you and wish that I could send a little rain (or a lot). You are just going to have to wait a while for cooler weather. You are Texas and it is supposed to be hot in summer. OK, maybe not quite this hot.

Enough rambling. I hope that where ever you are, you are enjoying your summer!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole

A little pile of bronze potential, the first studio work I've done in I don't know how long. Seriously, I feel a bit like Alice (the wonderland one, not my dog). I've slipped into the rabbit hole and everything is different. Life here could not be more different than night and day. For one thing, it is summer and it is green and it rains. Six years in West Texas and I got used to thinking that summer was brown and dry.

view from my perch on the back stoop 

I am finding a rythm to the day now. I've been getting up just before dawn. (This is a total surprise to me. I love to sleep late.)  But there is just something so nice about witnessing the world come to life with the new day. I sit out on my back stoop with a cup of coffee and wait for the cicadas to sing and the owls to call good night to each other.  Yes, we have owls here. I love hearing the soft voice of the owls.

There are so many distractions. When the day gets light I pad around my garden in my bare feet, feeling the dew on the grass squish between my toes. A little bit of heaven. I inspect all of my garden beds. Yesterday I found this one little tomato.  This morning I found a beet just beginning to push its red stem out of the soil. Who knows what wonders tomorrow will bring. Carrots?

Growing vegies makes me feel connected. Not just to the food we eat or even to the earth. But to my past. Some of my earliest memories are of my family's vegie gardens. We grew most of our own food. Everyone did. I didn't know until I moved away that tomatos came in tins from the supermarket. Truth.

Sweet memories of sitting on the back porch shelling peas with my grandmother. Oma was one the very best things in my childhood. I think next spring I will grow peas.

It's starting to spill over into my studio work. There are all sorts of doodles of sprouts and buds on scraps of paper. Those doodles are waiting to come to life. I'm patient. Those designs will happen when they are ready.

This beautiful necklace by Patty Lakensmith pretty much sums up my experience of the garden. You can read her inspiration for this necklace here on Love My Art Jewelry. While we're on the garden theme, you should check out the nature inspired Art Spark theme for this month. Izzy will tell you all about it here on LMAJ.

The thunder is cracking and it's starting to rain. I think I'll go out on the front porch and watch the storm roll in. It's another thing on my long list of distractions.