Sunday, February 28, 2010

Letting Go

In the quiet of the house, I hear the clock ticking away the minutes, see the dust and dog hair settled on the floor in the sunlight sneaking through the windows wintered with fine dirt. I know I should sweep, do some spring cleaning, but somehow, right now I can't. I hear the strong March winds, come a day or two too soon, and the chimes out in the trees, clanging and singing, a sound so familiar yet so far away. It's a reminder, a knowledge that the world is there. But it is not the same. I want to set things aright, there's a need and a desire both, but somehow I am frozen here at this table, a cup of coffee growing cold in my hand.

Life isn't fair, and death often cheats. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. This time we lost. Up on the hill beneath the grass that will one day be green again lies Bruschi, at 5 1/2, so young but oh so old after 18 months of seizures and medications took their toll on his beautiful body. He is not far from Amos, from BeeBee, from Gesso. They each have a flowering tree, but Bruschi will have blueberry bushes. When we used to walk through the yard, or when I went out in July to pick the berries, he loved to join me, and he ate his share off the branches, using that wonderful hound nose of his to seek out the ripest. I know that come harvest time, five months from now, I will still cry.

John dealt with his grief with a shovel in his hand, muscles straining to remove heavy loads of dirt enough to open a hole in the earth that would envelop our 95 pound baby. It took him several hours, a lot of water, and a shooter of whiskey to get through.

I simply could not participate in that. I had held Bruschi's head in my arms while he died, and I could not look at him again, motionless and still, on the cold February ground. So for once in my life, I was thankful for a dirty house and during those digging hours, I vacuumed, scrubbed the smell of seizures off the floors, washed dog bedding, rearranged furniture, some of which had been moved over the past months in light of Bruschi's condition, cleaned bathrooms and the kitchen, cleaned the winter off the windows.

And now, the house seems so quiet. Our morning routine has changed. So much focus and energy had been spent on Bruschi, and while there is a sense of relief, there is so much strangeness and lonesomeness about the house. It seems so empty. As John says, Bruschi was such a big presence and he could not be ignored. He is missed in so many ways.

Our Abby knows the emptiness of this one-dog house, and even on this sunny Sunday, she has chosen to stay in bed, sleeping the morning light away.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Taking A New Direction

In the world of the ethernet and online shopping, the genre of handmade jewelry, whether beaded, precious metal, gemstone, or any other kind, is inundated with sellers and shops. If you shop only on Etsy, you can be overwhelmed quite easily with jewelry shops. There are just thousands of makers and sellers out there. So for a long time, I have been considering phasing out that area of my Etsy shop and concentrating on selling paintings. I've thought, perhaps I'll continue to list my small medicine bags and a few photographs and of course, my music CDs, but my jewelry just gets lost in the crowd.

The other side of me says, Well, you've made most of your sales with jewelry... so why not keep that in the shop? But the time it takes to create pieces, which no doubt is a relaxing and meditative process for me, and then to photograph all those creations and list and promote them... well, it's a lot of time, energy, and effort. One wants to see that process come to fruition.

I could also simply phase out the jewelry on Etsy and send folks to my website if they want to purchase earrings or necklaces. That seems like a logical idea.

But while working through these thoughts to come to a decision, I have taken a new step out and want to share that with you. My husband helped a friend of ours dismantle an old piano she no longer had room for in her house, and he very carefully removed all the old ivory keys. His plan was to make use of these somehow in his custom-made knives. I've had my eye on them for awhile, and finally asked him to share a few with me. He was very gracious... one of the reasons I married him and kept him in my life! Yesterday I sat down with a few tools and some sanding paper and got to work. Each key must be sanded smooth to remove all the grime and oils and rough surface. After sanding, I sketched out my design and when satisfied, I placed on my head a rather cumbersome magnifying tool which allowed me to see up close and get the details in the etching. A very sharp-edged tool is used to scratch the surface of the ivory, enabling the design to take shape. Then I inked in the design, sanded again to remove the excess ink, and voila... etching on ivory.

What I like about this process is that it recycles these old ivory piano keys, with an occasional chipped edge and all, to create a lovely little ivory pendant with an original etching. As with my other jewelry, I'd like to keep this as one-of-a-kind affair. I have plans for earrings as well.

Some of the keys will have a simple design on the back as well, and this will be the case with the earrings since they will dangle and twirl, and all will be initialed. This is the back side of the pendant with thistles and leaves. The back side is a little trickier, as you can see, because it's the side that's been glued down and so the surface is much harder to clean and get smooth. A little more sanding and arm power is required.

So all that's needed now is to drill a small hole at the top and then these pendants can be placed on sterling silver chain with bail and they'll be ready to go. I know that my workmanship will improve with each piece, but I'm excited about them. They're a little different from much of the jewelry that's listed on Etsy, and they will be a delight to create as custom orders as well.

What say you?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sunshine Award

Okay, so I'm a little slow. I've been honored with this award from two bloggers, Karon of Wild Woman Jewelry (a couple days ago) and Jaime of ArtsyFartsyMe (a couple weeks ago). It take me awhile to get moving sometimes, but finally I'm publicly accepting this award and passing it on.

The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspires others in the blog world. The 'rules' are to post the award on your blog and then pass the award on to 12 other bloggers. Link the nominees within your post. Let them know they've received the award by commenting on a post. Then, lastly, share the love and link to the person from whom you've received the award.

Well, having been known to rarely follow the rules, I can tell you right now that I won't be listing twelve bloggers. But here I go:

1. LaTouchables... whose blog is simply beautiful and pure and filled with light and life and gorgeous creations in fabric and leather and buttons.

2. peaceofpistudio... who typically works with collage and whose main focus is with bird imagery... her blog is always a delight in its visual images and written word.

3. LoChristine... who shares her family and her art with her followers in short but wonderful posts.

4. Studio ArtOcrat... Pragya's fabulous graphics are normally showcased on a daily basis and these "daily doses" are always bright and fun and bring a smile.

So thanks, Jaime and Karon, for thinking of me and for finding inspiration in my posts... the feeling is mutual! And cheers to these new recipients!

Past Life...

A new pair of earrings just listed in the Etsy shop, these are some of my favorites. I am drawn to the earthy quality and the hidden memory in the beautiful sea coral and agates that are featured.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday's Treasures... Items Worth Purchasing!

I've made quite a few purchases on Etsy... materials and beads for my jewelry, gift items, things for myself. And today's post will feature some of the sellers of these items, sellers whose products I highly recommend.

If you like handmade soap, and there are many reasons to choose handmade over commercial, you'll definitely want to try krugsecologic. She has an Etsy shop and her own website, and she was recently featured on CNN! I was fortunate enough, and oh so thrilled, to receive a gift certificate to her shop for Christmas from another member of the Etsyveg team, lulubugjewelry who makes and sells fabulous pieces (which I have featured here in the past). I chose three bars of soap and let me tell you, these are sizeable soaps that last a long time and smell fabulous... Vixen (scrumptiously sensuous), Agave Almond (sweet and luxurious), and Fall Harvest (deliciously warm).

Have you ever thought about handmade laundry soap? I hadn't given this much thought until I saw it on BlissCandle's blog. Suzanne of Bliss Candles had featured me on her blog last fall, and I've been following her ever since. She's also been a featured seller on Etsy. A month or two ago, she recommended MayleesGarden for natural home and bath products, and so I decided to try some laundry soap... and it's what I'll use from now on! I have been impressed with its cleaning power (and trust me, my husband gets his clothes dirty with outdoor work and as an automotive instructor) and the small amount that you have to use for each load, and it's safe for HE machines, which is what I have. I chose the cedar and sandalwood scented eco-friendly laundry detergent.

When Christmas was approaching, I purchased a couple of small bags from CrazyDaisiesDesigns, one for my daughter and one for myself. My daughter loves her bag in pastels and pinks, and I really like my hip bag! It's just the right length for me, it's easy to get in and out of, and I like it because it's small (I don't carry a lot of crap in a pocketbook) and doesn't weigh down my shoulder. Crazydaisies is closing her Etsy shop, so now's a great time to buy since everything is on sale, and it's all well worth the price!

I recently got a new point and shoot Nikon Coolpix and wanted a nifty handmade case for it. After searching through Etsy at the many sellers who make these kinds of products, I chose a camera pouch by KaraMiaSofia. I have to admit that I was looking for a snazzy, colorful pouch that would accent the cobalt blue of my camera, and let me tell you, KaraMia has lots and lots of gorgeous fabrics to choose from. And once I received my camera pouch, I was not disappointed... my camera fits perfectly in it, it was well-made, and I am thrilled with my choice.

Last summer I bought an earthy leather-look barrette by pjlacasse and I love it! She works a lot in polymer clay, and her work is gorgeous!

Last summer I was featured on a blog by mymothersgarden who creates beautiful clay and ceramic products for the garden and home with garden themes. I love her natural work and colors, and I've purchased one of her trinket dishes with lizards. I highly recommend this seller!

Buying clothes online, sight unseen and without being able to try them on, can be a very tricky thing. But sometimes you see something on the screen that you just fall in love with. That's what happened when I took a look at the shop of freeflightclothing. I love her styles and her designs, and I bought a royal blue peacock dress that is so soft and free-flowing. In fact, it's what I'm wearing on my CD cover photo. I recommend you take a look at her shop for yourself!

Browse through the shops of these sellers... you won't be disappointed!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Morning Chores

A new oil painting, 24 x 30 on gallery-wrapped canvas, still in the drying process, but listed on Etsy this afternoon.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Light and Life: A Few New Pieces

Finally we've had some sun and some warmer temps to help melt the remaining ice-encrusted snow we still have on our ground. For the past two mornings, I took advantage of the wonderful light and photographed some new jewelry, which I've begun listing in the Etsy shop.

Spring Blooms

Summer Sky

The Trinity... three pieces in one

Earth and Sky

Here's to spring colors, light, life, and sunshine!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love and Commitment

For several days now my husband and I have been consumed with the health issues of our 5 1/2 year old dog, Bruschi. We haven't had much sleep and have been at wit's end with strange behaviors, constant pacing, and other such things. Bruschi's been having seizures since October of 2008, and last August he had his first cluster seizure... meaning more than one in a short period of time. He's had a few of those since then, and he can't seem to go more than three weeks without having at least one seizure. The meds he's been on have been very, very hard on him. He stays fairly stoned, which is something I was strongly opposed to last August when we had such a very long and stress-filled day with those 6 seizures in several hours. We do not like seeing our wonderful dog in such a state, unable to get up without flailing and struggling or without help, walking into things, falling down. Which is worse... that type of condition or the seizures? In my mind one is as bad as the other.

We have ordered online a new medicine recommended by our vet, but it seems to be taking forever to get here. So today we will pick a local ten-day supply, at a much much higher cost, in hopes that this medicine will help control the seizures without the other side effects. Research shows that it has a 70% success rate, but each dog is different, so we can only keep our fingers crossed and send up prayers that this will work for our dog. We know that something has to give. We do not believe that Bruschi is living a happy dog life right now and interaction with him is not the same as it used to be. He looks frustrated and confused, and can you blame him? He must somehow understand that he is not the dog he used to be. I have always said that I will not live my life on medicines that keep me from functioning and being who I am, and I surely don't want my dog living that way.

So we will try this new drug for a couple weeks, watching closely for improvements and hoping for the best. If you don't see me online much during that time, you will know why, so please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Love Affair

Ever since the sixties, I've been in love with the Marlboro Man (photo courtesy of the Phillip Morris archives), and those who have bought my CD have heard my song about this love affair. Never having been a smoker, I still would prefer to see TV ads and billboards featuring this rugged western man rather than those geeks hawking cell phones. Perhaps that is the reason why I have a certain affinity for cowgirl boots. I seem to be collecting them the way a certain friend of mine, my bandmate, collects guitars. (I think he has more money to spend than I do!)

Here's my latest painting... a tribute to Cowgirls.

And here's my newest pair of boots, Ariats which arrived in the post just a few days ago.

Thank goodness my husband, a rugged and grizzled man in his own right, minus the cigarettes, finds my cowgirl boots sexy!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nature Around Your Neck

Each season of the year brings marvelous colors, and I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of them. Of course my paintings are influenced by those wonderful mixes of colors, but my jewelry is definitely inspired by them. I tend to work my beads, I suppose subconsciously, based on the hues of nature... and in this case, Mother knows best!

This week, I did some research, if you want to call it that. I went through many of my photographs and found that yes indeed... my jewelry tries to live up to the gorgeous colors in the natural world around me, the world that I so enjoy photographing as I hike, birdwatch, or tend the garden. So take a walk through the seasons and see some of the results. Jewelry title links you that piece in my Etsy shop or on my website.

SPRING... Spring Romance

SUMMER... Forest Dreams

FALL... Leaf Shimmer

WINTER... Winter Ice

SPRING... Sunrise Sparkle

SUMMER... Summer Garden

FALL... The Good Earth

WINTER... Winter Sky

SPRING... I'm In Love

SUMMER... Dance of the Flowers

FALL... Moon Over the Mountain

WINTER... Circle of Life

I have many more photos but I'll share those at a later post.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's All About Your Vote!

My custom oil portrait is in the Fresh Start monthly challenge on the Etsyveg team, and guess what? I need some votes! I'd love it if you'd vote for me, but at least go check out all the great handmade items that have been submitted! Just follow the link.

Also the Etsy Project Embrace team, of which I am a member, is also entered in a handmade voter called the Handmade Olympics. We'd like you to consider voting for us among the other great entries.

And I'll just leave you with this photo from my garden on Sunday... which expresses my appreciation for all my followers and fans!