Rock Hounding

We recently purchased our first travel trailer. I am not exactly sure how it happened. If you ask me, I will tell you that I just woke up one morning and decided that we needed one. I am sure it was more complicated than that, but I know that from the time the idea struck me until we were backing it into our driveway only about two weeks had passed.  I have a congenital condition that makes is impossible to sleep on the ground any more and perhaps I was just really missing camping. What ever it was, we are now the proud owners of a Jayco, Baja Edition trailer.Travel Trailer

The Baja Edition just means that it has extra clearance and truck tires; perfect for going off road. Maybe the idea started when my father sent us back to Oregon last year with boxes of mineral specimens that he and my mother had collected over the years. She is a geologist and he is a geophysicist, so I grew up with a deep curiosity surrounding all things “rock”. My husband introduced me to Oregon Sunstone a few years ago and we had always wanted to go and find some ourselves but hotel rooms are scarce in the middle of BLM land.

I am positive that my parents involvement with rocks is what has spurred my desire to make jewelry. Many moons ago, I was sure I would grow up to be a gemologist but life does not always dish out what you want. We had already done a day trip collecting Thunder Eggs which, for those of you who are unfamiliar, are volcanic burps that harden before they hit the ground and thus are very round. Over time, the centers turn to various forms of quartz. Geodes are relatively well known as are picture agate, but the ones we have here are mostly iron infused jasper. That is another story.

Our first trip with the trailer was to Glass Butte, Oregon where we picked up a tidy collection of obsidian. That is also another story as I have not managed to sort through those rocks yet.

So, I will show you pictures of our second trailer trip and third rock collecting excursion. This trip we went to Congleton Hollow.

Congleton Hollow

We chose this camp site because we could watch both the sunrise and the sunset. The goal of this trip was to find limb casts. Limb casts are not the same as petrified wood. They are formed when a volcano erupts sending hot ash into the air. This ash lands on the trees and quickly hardens into a cement like substance. Because it is hot, it also sets the tree on fire burning it away. What is left, is a hole in the shape of a tree. Over millennia, mineral laden water percolates through the castings, leaving behind, well, minerals which fill the castings. Then, over MORE time, the freezing and thawing of the ground, pushes these limb casts towards the surface where folks like us can wander around and, with hope, find them.

At first, we had NO idea what to look for, so we wandered around rather aimlessly, but then they started to reveal themselves and our eyes adjusted to focus better on our goal.

Limb Casts

So here they are. Most are agate, all are some form of quartz. I have yet to wash them and see how pretty they really are. The green is from copper, which you see everywhere there.

Now I need to turn one into a necklace.

Making and Making More

I promised my two youngest nieces that I would make each of them a new sweater for Christmas. That, of course never happened. So, instead, They each got a hat and an IOU. Now I am frantically trying to get two sweaters done before the intended recipients outgrow them or summer arrives. The problem is, that I make everything without a pattern, so my ideas have a way of growing and growing to the point where I feel like I have bitten off more than I can chew, sometimes. Here is the youngest niece’s sweater….12654262_1118210181545667_6805026182586991575_n

The only problem is that it STILL isn’t finished. After this photo, I decided to add an under layer of yellow to the bottom hem and the when I had it all washed and pressed, I realized that I had moved the hem a full 2 inches off on one side. My husband said to send it any way but I can’t….so…….snip….snip…….sigh.

 

Happy New Year 2016

It is finally here. 2016 is the year that I crank everything into high gear and make my shop what I have always wanted it to be; successful!

I have set up my jewelry studio and am hard at work creating new pieces that will be posted to my Etsy shop at the beginning of the new year. I have made several new pieces that have been given as gifts this Christmas, just to make sure I am “up to snuff”. It is amazing how quickly your hands loose the dexterity needed to work with such tiny pieces, but it is equally amazing how quickly you can regain the skills.

Turquoise and fire agate

This turquoise and fire agate necklace is for a friend of mine who is going through a divorce. Her birthday is in December (turquoise) and she said she was oddly drawn to orange recently, so what better than a fire agate!

Quartz and brass triangle

Thus far, most of my work is simply compiling things from around my shop. I am not doing a lot of fabrication…..yet.

 

Brass and blue agate earrings

Copper and natural blue agate. I enjoy working with complimentary colors like blue and orange but hope to get to some contrasting combinations like blue and yellow.

Tribal bead and lemon quartz

Slowly Getting Ready to Get Back to Work

I have not been posting much content recently for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that I currently do not have a studio. We moved out to central Oregon permanently at the beginning of 2015. It took us several months to finally get my entire shop and my husbands wood shop packed up and moved. In fact, there are still odds and ends needing to be collected from our old house, which is going on the market this week.

In the meantime, I have been making do on our big front porch, piled up in yarn on our sofa and using an old card table in the laundry room as a place for the messier affairs. Most of my supplies are tucked up in an attic over our garage and I spend far too much time up there contorting myself to see what might be in a tote or digging through various boxes. It is not an ideal way to feed the creative monster and in fact, my productivity at least jewelry wise has all but screeched to a halt.

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We do not have the funds to build a full studio yet and with winter fast approaching in a very cold climate, we have simply run out of time to set a foundation this year. So, my husband is enclosing our back porch to give me a space that is out of the house but still small enough to heat economically.  The full studio will have a wood stove when it is built. This porch has a window that we can open to let the house heat (also wood stove) in….or is it out? Worst case scenario, we have a small electric heater for additional “oomph”.

Back to the Painting!

I worked on the painting in a series of two hour blocks and then took a photo. After I had blocked in the basic composition, I started to add the layers of color. I do this by squinting at my subject and trying to replicate on the large blocks of color that I see, ignoring the details.

Aspen tree image 2

Most painters apply layers and layers of paint and I am no exception. I use thin coats of paint so that, even though you might not notice, hints of the previous color affect the top coats. There is so much going on in this scene, color wise. that when you focus on it long enough, it becomes trance-like.

Aspen tree image 3

I adhere very strictly to the idea that you must paint what you see and if you are true to what you see, it will all come together accurately in the end. My daughter, who is a graphic artist told me she had no idea that painting took so much time or was done in so many stages. I guess, unless someone had taught me how to paint, it would never have occurred to me either

Aspen tree image 4

I have waited 20 years to paint again because for me, it is something that requires 100% of my brain. It is actually exhausting, which is why I try to work in two hour blocks. I could not find this kind of isolation while I was raising my family.

I hope to get this mostly finished this weekend while my husband goes pheasant hunting in Nebraska.

First Painting in 20 Years DAY ONE

It has been a very long time since I last sat down and put my mind to starting a painting. In truth, I have always thought of myself as a painter, even though my degree focus was in illustration. I had only discovered painting in my senior year of college and did not have enough credit hours under my belt to be able to use that medium in my final project. I knew right away, however, that I was hooked….

.Aspen tree

When we moved into our house in central Oregon, this was the view from the dining room window. One of my first thoughts was of how much I would like to make a painting of this tree. Aspen trees are one of my husband’s favorites. This tree, like all Aspens, captures the seasons so clearly and this autumn was no exception.

Aspen tree layout

At first, I tried to draw directly from the subject, but the constant back and forth, as well as the light to dark was giving me quite a headache. I have never been much for drawing out my subject anyway. There is something about drawing on a vertical surface that has always been a challenge for me. I used to get in trouble in college for insisting on moving my pad of paper, no matter how large, from the easel onto my lap.

Aspen tree image 1

So, instead, I took a photo with my phone and used it as my primary reference. This was also helpful because the sun was moving in and out of the clouds all day making the lighting different every time I looked up.

With a dirty brush and a limited palate, I scratched the primary shapes and color fields onto the canvas and called it an end of day one.

Painting takes a CRAZY amount of concentration and a steady hand. These are two things that I no longer have, so I imagine this project will take some time to complete!

Jute Heads

For several months, I have been musing about the kind of display I would like for my creations. I tend to prefer scenes that are closely linked to nature, but at the same time, I like a little bit of class…..

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On my recent trip in to Portland and remembered that a favorite thrift store of mine always has a few styrofoam heads for sale as Halloween approaches. This year was no exception, in fact, they had hundreds. I ordered several spools of jute from Amazon and VIOALA! Jute heads!