27 May 2013

Earrings: A Compulsion To Make A Baker's Dozen

I had a yen to make some earrings this weekend, and I ended up making a baker's dozen! I tried some new ideas, and I had fun learning a little bit about wire working.  I didn't stop until I ran out of some supplies - so now I must purchase some more wire in a variety of weights. I want to learn more wire wrapping.

Some of these earrings will be kept, some will be given as gifts and some are for sale. I can't believe that I had such a fulfilling time playing in my long neglected bead box! I think that making earrings will remain " a once in awhile" passion, or perhaps I won't make earrings again until I go to the bead store the next time!
I'm especially fond of the wrapped limey green briolettes on the lower left (I made two pairs!) , the turquoise, lime and purple glass bead earrings (upper left) and the labradorite and amber set on the middle. Of course - I couldn't resist the cat faces!
Some duo tone glass beads in blue and green, dyed turquoise agate, rhodochrosite and silver (they have more pink in them than this image shows), simple little pearls with Swarovski crystals and squares made of pink dyed agate.
 Large baroque pearls with silver and Swarovski crystals. Simple and elegant.

26 May 2013

Memorial Day & Feats Of The Week

Every Memorial Day I take a moment or two to give thanks to those who serve in the military to preserve our freedoms.

I am proud to be descended from the Governor of Rhode Island, William Ellery, who signed the Declaration of Independence, and I am proud of my three beloved (maternal) uncles who each served in uniform. They were my real life heroes. Uncle Jack received two purple hearts during WWII. Uncle Bill was a war time pilot who later flew for the original Flying Tigers. My desire to become an airman probably stemmed from his interest. My Uncle Jimmy was the closet of them all to me - and he shaped my life in so many ways. He was the one who was always there foe me. We understood each other's eccentricities, and when I he passed I never really did get over it.

Let us give thanks for the freedoms we have, as imperfect as they are they are better than most anywhere else and they are, uniquely, ours.
The hummingbirds have been hard at feeding this year. We've finally had to order several more of the Perky Pet Grand Master 48 ounce feeders. They are SO much easier to clean and fill that the 30 ounce glass models. They are working us hard this year. Right now we have four 32 ounce feeders and one 48 ounce feeder up, and they are drained in hours. It's a part time job keeping the filled and cleaned! I wish I could have gotten a clear enough image of te many birds that were lurking on the periphery of this feeder waiting for their turn. We were in the middle of filling the other feeders at the time! Yesterday I watched a hummer compete with a hiney bee for a place at the feeder. Most of the birds let the bee drink, but one spunky female just would not give up her place. The bee would feed, then the hummer would feed and, at times, they both had their noses in the feeding spout! It was fascinating to watch!
 I just finished this shawl ; the Lizzie Bennett Shawlette by Annie Riley. I loved working the border lace area, and I enjoyed working in a color that I generally don't use. This is Malabrigo Sock yarn in their Solis Colorway

19 May 2013

Opinions Please! Dynamic View Or Same View

We have had a very bad season for tent caterpillars this year! This is an apple tree at a friend's house. The buggers are so thick that they coated a wind chime  and looked like an icky, moving carpet. If my back allowed for gardening I might not want to do it just because these things are so icky!

But the main reason for this post is that I've been thinking about the look of my blog and have some questions that I hope you will take the time to think about.

I would like it to be easier for you, dear readers, to look at the things that you like and ignore the things that are of no interest to you. I've checked out Blogger's Dynamic view templates, and one of them works very well to make finding things that you want to see (knitting, mixed media, photographs) more easy. The problem, and the trade off, with this option is that it does not allow for any widgets, links, blog rolls or extras. I rather like promoting places and people that I enjoy, and I am not sure that I want to lose that capability. Of course, with dynamic views, there is also no customized header allowed.

One person suggested that she found the "pages" bar under my header to be a bit busy - so I moved the pages to the side bar under "Chapters". What do you think?

My questions for you are:
  • Does it bother you to have to wade through posts about some topics that might not interest you?
  • What do you think of blogs that use dynamic views?
  • Does not having widgets and links bother you in any way?
  • Do you find my blog to be too busy, and cluttered with links and side bar things?
  • Does it bother you that you have to search for things that interest you or would you prefer to see a thumbnail (dynamic view) that will sort the subjects more easily?

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and opinions!

13 May 2013

Thrincie Treasure Box

Side 1

Our little mixed media art group, heARTist Trading Cards, trade ATC's each month, but we also do mixed media side trades. Truth be told I think I like the side trades the best ! One of the most recent side trades was for fabric "thincies" - 3"x3" squares. Although we only had three participants it was one of my favorite trades, and it was size that I had not worked in before. I decided to make a small treasure box from the thrincies that I received in trade and the extras that I had made for myself, figuring that I would need them to complete the box.

I had a great time with this trade and I know that this little treasure box will hold good memories for many years to come.
Side 2

This one is the top of the box, and it was made by Karen Musgrave. As you may have noticed, I have a thing for crow's and raven's , and so it was a perfect top piece.
 It's a great example of thread painting!

This thrincie was made by Linda Edkins Wyatt. I love felted things so this was a perfect addition and I love the beaded elements!

This lovely mixed media thrincie is made by Patty Van-Huis Cox. I love the depth of color and the stitched embellishment. I added the 'dream' key as a closure, but I think that it worked well with Patty's embellishment. I had not wanted to detract from what she did, but I needed the weight of something like the key to keep the top closed and I liked the idea of a 'dream key'!

12 May 2013

Mother's Day: Loss and Gratitude

My Mother with my Grandad, William Ellery in Brooklyn, New York, Circa 1935- 1940
I've never spoken about my Mother, and it is still difficult to do. Mother was my best friend and staunchest supporter. Her love was boundless and strong. She loved children, and I think she would have liked to have had more than just me! 

The problem is that she died much too young at the age of 46, from alcoholism. Of course, at that time is was not spoken of much, nor  did we speak of the frequent, nightmarish, hospitalizations. Losing my Mother was a pain that never goes away. I miss her with every fiber of my soul - every day that I live. She would have been 84 now. I was 2 days past 21 when she died. Her loss has touched me at every turn and yet I am grateful to have had her as my mother. I think that she was too fragile for this world - too confined by the strictures of the 1950's and 60's. when women were expected to stay home . Looking back on my parents, I can see how my Mother and my Father were, at first attracted to each other. Opposites can attract. They had two very different personalties. Sometimes that can work, but in this case it sure didn't ! My father was an ambitious man, an architectural engineer. He made it well up the corporate ladder before he and my Mom split up. My Mother remarried  not too long after the split - and I think that her second husband was more suited to her - he was a superior fine artist and an advertising executive.  The problem with them all was alcohol - they were all alcoholics, and at that time it was socially very acceptable. No one thought twice about cocktails at lunch and more cocktails in the evening. No one thought much of drunken arguments that tainted the atmosphere of the house so often. So much promise in these three people. Promise that was impaired by drinking too much too often.

I'm not sure how I managed to escape that taint, but I think that my career in aviation, with it's constant drug tests, help to keep me away from substance abuse. I am so grateful that the gene seems to have passed me by!
Ellen Marie Ellery  1927-1973
You can see that my love for felines began early! We had two cats at this time. 
This one, a red and white ,lovable, male was named Haska, in honor of their 
artist friend Ray Prohaska. Our other cat was a Siamese . Mother had deep auburn hair.
My maternal grandmother was the best! She had the biggest influence on my life, especially after my Mother passed away. It was her love that really carried me through. I don't think that she ever really recovered form my Mother's death and she too died three years later . I miss her every moment of every day. Sometimes I feel as though I can still inhale her scent.

I am grateful to both my Mother and my Grandmother for their boundless love and eternal support. I am proud of them both! I just wish that they had stayed around a bit longer - selfish of me!
Thea Elizabeth Kavanaugh Ellery 1918-1976
This is an image I made from a circa 1924 portrait of my Grandmother.
 She had rich golden auburn hair!

05 May 2013

Zentangle ATC, How To Make a Foam Stamp Plus An Usable Alternative To Embossing Ink

This is the design that I came up with.

Over at heARTist Trading Cards our next theme is Zentangles. I love making Zentangles so I looked forward to rendering this theme
 The front and back of the cards, before any edge treatment to the ATC's
Four of the cards together

I water colored each card separately and then added some crackle and glass highlights to some of the berries. I wasn't sure what to do with the edges. When I finally did the edges (you will see more below) I decided that this time perhaps they should have gone with no edging. That being said, hindsight is 20/20 and I really did not want to remake all of the cards! Ratz! They came out alright but not quite as I had hoped for !
A single ATC - you can see the effect of the crackle gel and the gloss on some of the berries

This week I tried another experiment this week. It was something that I had been meaning to try. I had been meaning to see if I could use my Sissix Big Shot machine to cut out foam shapes to use as stamps. I'm happy to say the "yes! you can!"
Above: On the left is the Spellbinder's die (see more about which one below) and, on the right top is the cut foam stamp and, on the right bottom, the stamp applied to paper with some watercolor added.
Above :
Again, the Spellbinder's die is on the left. The craft foam (orange) an the cut (and inked) foam 'stamp'" is laid out on the top alongside the Ancient Page brand stamp pad.

I use my favorite Stillman & Birn Beta series notebook for my experiments. I'm going to try their new Zeta series sketch book a try soon.

My craft foam was adhesive back, but you could certainly just use regular craft foam sheets. I cut it with my Sissix Big Shot using a Spellbinder's "Grateful Lattice" die  and, voila!, the die cut became a foam stamp! It worked - and it worked well even!  I used an Ancient Page brand stamp pad in black, and it did not budge when I used watercolors to paint! I did have to use a cardboard shim to get enough pressure to on the cutting plate to make clean cuts with the foam, but it worked quite easily enough.

Experiment number two this week was about using embossing powders when an embossing pad is just not juicy enough to get the job done.  My most recent favorite brand of embossing powder is Stampendous  Frantage Embossing powders. I like them because they are chunkier then regular embossing powders. 

I have never used embossing powders quite the way most stampers do, but I do like the effect that they can give for borders and edges. The problem has always been that in order to get a rich, full embossed edge I need to repeatedly adding layers of embossing inks and powders several times to get a good edge, and that is simply too time consuming for me!

I decided to see if I could find any kind of substitute that would work well as an embossing ink and not require multiple applications. I've tried multiple types and brands of adhesives and nothing worked. Duh! Of course they were probably not supposed to. Then I had the idea to try using glycerin. It's an emollient, thick, liquid that you can find in the drug store. I had it on hand because I use it in hand cream recipesI decided to try adding about two pumps of Purell to the mix, I think the alcohol helped with adhesion, but it works just fine without it.
So here's what I did:

  • Top left: a little aluminum foil 'boat' large enough to dip the edges of an ATC into and thin enough to able to have a thick layer of embossing powder in it. 
  • Top right: a bottle of common glycerine.
  • Middle: A small plastic container and some Frantage embossing powder. An ATC about to get embossed edges and a well used brush to apply the glycerine with
Dipping the edge of the ATC into the embossing powder that
 is contained in my little aluminum foil 'boat'

The edge of the ATC covered with embossing powder
Heated. Thick and glossy!
The ATC with and without the embossed edge. The process works but now that I have edged the cards I wish that I had left them blank. I think the raw edge looked a bit cleaner . Oh well, next time I will leave well enough alone (maybe!).

04 May 2013

Tart Caladan Shawl and Natural Inspirations

My newest finished shawlette. This is the second Caladan shawl from Barbara Benson Designs that I have made. I just really enjoy  knitting with beads - and this shawl has just the right amount of beading...not too many and not too few. I knit this with Madeline Tosh Pashima yarn in their Tart colorway. It's an absolutely luscious yarn to know being made of : 75% superwash wool, 15% silk and 10% cashmere

 A close up of the bead placement

Our hummingbirds are back in force going through 5 quarts of solution per day. In the evening we have at least 325-30 birds around each of the 5 feeders at once. I'm going to try to set up the camera and take a little video with sudio because it's one on those sights that you can;t believe until you see it and hear it !
Here's our red fox friend Lulu. She's been having 'dinner' at our house since she was kit. She comes by everying afternoon, waits patiently by the door, follows DH out to the food station, takes her meal and returns to her den across the street. She waits and lets the other critters get their food before she takes hers. Lulu seems to be very social, very courteous and very, well, cute and foxy. She is a 'red' fox in a dark grey colorway. Although common sense dictates caution she lets me come within a foot of her to take photos - no agression, no stress - she just looks at me with these sweet, soulful eyes. What a treat to be able to see a wild one interact in such a positive way.