Where the Magic Happens

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One major reason why I have been away from WordPress for so long is the long awaited finishing of my studio. Our 10th anniversary was in 2016 and my husband gifted me with this wonderful, little building. I told him that I wanted it to look like a Wild West mercantile. The wood is cedar that was milled by my father-in-law on a small, circular sawmill giving it an authentic, vintage look. The windows were salvaged from my sister-in-law’s house when she had all their windows replaced. My husband designed and built the entire thing including the garden which, soon after this photo was taken, was filled with wildflowers. He has two shops of his own and we turned my old porch shop (see previous posts) into a lapidary for the stones we have been collecting. I think it goes without saying, that I married into a pretty awesome family and I have a more than awesome spouse!

It’s Been a Long Time!

As 2016 is drawing to a close, I realize that, while I did not manage to make it the year that my shop became successful, I DID manage to hone my skills and determine exactly what it is that I want to accomplish with my art. I have turned my jewelry design in a brand new direction and have settled in to metal smithing.

I have thus far, been working predominantly in copper. The colors I can achieve are really amazing but I have a very long way to go before I can say that I actually have any control over the outcome.

When I started, I was more interested in the shapes I could form and had not realized the full potential of the copper. I will be working more towards fold forming and color combined in one piece, There is still A LOT to learn,

My shop will go back into full sale mode beginning next year. I also have three other shops under my thumb: one for my illustrations, one for my personal journey and one for the extra supplies I have lying around that I no longer need. So busy is going to be my new name! Stay tuned!


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.

The Spice of Life

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I am a little bit all over the place these days. Dabbling in Jewelry, collecting rocks to tumble, hiking the back woods for animal bones and some times just sitting down with a pencil and paper and seeing if I still have, “it”.

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My daughter recently rekindled my desire to play with polymer clay. My neighbor is requesting help making Christmas presents for the very poorest in our community and I just can’t seem to put my Ryobi away. There is always SOMETHING new to carve into or sand off.

Now, if only I could keep up with the housework……

I will post more soon.

The Thing About Custom Orders…..

One of my oldest an dearest friends is also my best customer on ETSY. Every year about this time, she orders several things from my shop and, occasionally, she has me custom make something for her.

This year she asked me to make something for one of her friends. They live in New York, where I grew up and in truth, I have not actually seen her in over 30 years.

When I asked her what kind of hat, she showed me a photo of a regular knit cap. Whan I asked her what color, she said brown….soft….mixed browns maybe….that was it.

So, in my usual, compulsive, perfectionist way, this is what I have so far…….so far…….

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I am not sure if it is a driving need to make sure the customer always gets what they want, or a nagging dissatisfaction with almost everything I make.

I honestly have never had a single complaint about anything I have made and all of my custom orders have been received with more praise than I expected.

I know she will be happy with whatever I make, I just want it to be better than whatever she is imagining, and I can’t begin to guess what that is!

So this, along with year-end books, my REAL job, Christmas chaos and a really bad head cold have summed up my December so far…..

Now, back to the crochet!

Welcome to My ETSY World

IMG_1449Vintage bead necklace

As you may have surmised from my blog, I have an ETSY shop.

ETSY is an on-line crafter’s web site that allows each seller to maintain their own internet store. Until recently, only handmade, vintage and supplies were allowed as shop wares. Now ETSY also allows designers to create their own product and  have the actual items manufactured by a second party. Some folks are happy about the change, others are not, but that’s the basic gist of what ETSY is, if you are unfamiliar with the site.

When I first signed up, I could not remember the name. I wanted to call is ESTY, because that followed the basic rules of the English language. It was easy to upload pictures and follow the instructions for descriptions and price. I think the hardest part of posting is trying to come up with a list of 13 “tag words” that could easily be picked up by a search engine as a customer is combing the web for your product. Most Etsians (that’s what we call ourselves) would agree, I think. There are whole tutorials about picking the correct words and something called SEO, which I later learned was short for “search engine optimization”. Everyone likes to feel a bit smarter by making their new fangled computer lingo into an acronym.

IMG_5402-0013 colored crocheted baby blanket

So, I started with ETSY about 2 years ago. I was THRILLED to find a place that seems designed to help someone like me (a closet artist who likes to make nice things) find a venue to sell their creations. I had read some really great success stories and thought that I coud at least make a bit of side money while I was a stay at home mom. Let me be clear here. I call myself a “closet artist” because in a real sense, I am just an artist who has not managed to come out and express that to the world yet. I have a degree in fine art and have been creating in one sense or another my entire life. I always told myself, when I was younger, that I would NEVER cave in to becoming a “crafter”. To me “crafting” was not ART! Boy, was I wrong!

Through ETSY,  I have seen some absolutely AMAZING creations. The ability to share ideas and the products that came from them is really the soul of the site. There are forums and teams that supply you with endless insight and support. Etsians create treasuries, which are a collection of 16 items with a similar theme and then post them for the rest of the world to see. It is a clear and continuous way to help support fellow artisans by showing off what their peers find to be interesting or pleasing to the eye. I particularly like making treasuries of the oddities that some folks post, like sculptures made out of dust bunnies or giant octopus tentacles that you can hang on your wall like a hunting trophy.

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ETSY was my new “home” and in the beginning, I spent hours pouring over what others have made and how. Then I started adding my own creations to the mix and found that what seemed like an easy solution to my need to make some petty cash, was not as easy as I had thought it would be….