Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Sit down for a minute and....

So, I hauled everything into the house on Saturday and decided to just sit and make jewelry. I haven't put any bracelets together lately and want to have things to sell over the holidays here at the little shop we're planning to have open at Frog Hollow, our Christmas tree farm. I actually put 6 bracelets together, but in the interest of brevity (for now) I'll only post three.

Purple FloralI had a number of sets lying around that I haven't posted on my website for sale. This---> one was my first floral experiments with the Kalera press. I love the shape of these beads and the flowers just float there on the surface. I used three different colors of purple for the petals and there's some silver inside to shoot a bit of light through the smoky base. I used my favorite - a magnetic clasp. These things are really strong. I've been known to raise my hand at a restaurant with a fork attached to my bracelet! The spacers were from a large string of purple beads I had left over from trying to match up with some spacers I made earlier. I was having trouble with "striking" the color. As it turns out. I'm grateful now to have the lovely selection of purple beads.

Denim & KhakiActually, this bracelet "Denim & Khaki" was made a couple of weeks ago. The colors are my favorites to wear, jeans and a cream colored shirt or khaki colored pants and blue top. I was looking for something to wear with it and decided to just sit down and make myself something. I think it turned out pretty well and it certainly matches jeans and anything neutral... The cream colored spacers are ceramic discs I picked up at Beadfest a couple of years ago and they come in handy so often.

Victorian CranberriesFinally (for today!) I call this one "Victorian Cranberries". It would be perfect for Christmas, but the colors are not the usual garish red and green, but more cranberry and greenish aqua (copper green). It just looked so formal that it needed a bit of extra goodies... some bead caps and a fancy bali magnetic closure. I was thinking of adding some matching round beads in the main bracelet like the one on the "dangly", but it just didn't make it... The silver bead spacers worked better with the more "formal" feel I was going for.

It's amazing how easily they go together after you've been thinking about them for a while. The Purple bracelet as well as the Denim one were in my head before I even began. The Victorian one was the hardest to finally pin down... I bet I tried 5 or 6 arrangements before I was satisfied.

Believe it or not.... we've actually been making soap like crazy the past few days. Somehow, the shelves had gotten depleted beyond the norm and, of course, the fax started cranking out orders!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Long-short day

Well, it's been a long day... or a short day, depending how you look at it. It was a long day because it was pretty frustrating. It seemed everything I did had to be done over again - a couple of times. It was a short day because it seemed I accomplished next to nothing!

I did manage to get some new labels finished for the salt-spa bars we've been working on. We're really pulling out the stops in the packaging department. It makes a bar of soap look like something more than a bar of soap. It IS the spa bars we're talking about here however, and they really ARE more than a plain bar of soap... even handmade soap.

This is the Mocha Java Spa Bar. It is scented with the most delicious fragrance and colored a light cafe au lait tan with specks of white salt all through it. The lather from these bars is something really special and they last forever. As they wear down and are polished with use, they look like river rocks.

We also have made a "Cowpoke Bar", "Good Morning Starshine" and "Mermaid's Treasure". They each have their own over-the-top packaging, but at the moment, the Mocha Java is my favorite.

Brother John came over to try to help me with my website woes and we may have figured part of it out... We'll see. I have so many changes to make - old stuff to take down, new stuff to go up... And meanwhile, the header keeps changing along with the cells in the tables having minds of their own. I know, I know... that shouldn't happen, but it does.

Maybe it will all make sense tomorrow.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Robot Dreams

I had such a hard time naming these beads. I really love them... the shape and the colors. The colors are just perfect for fall and for jeans... my usual uniform! There's also enough khaki color in them to make them work with my favorite combo.

So often, I feel like I'm only able to poorly attempt to duplicate something I've seen sommeone else do, but these are the result of an actual original idea! I made the first one like this for a charm swap. It was inspired by a piece of architecture, oddly enough. I thought of them as tiles, but the name just didn't quite fit... Robots... little robots.

On another note, we started wrapping some of our extravagant salt soaps today.. The soap is great and we enjoy really doing it up. I can see them as stocking stuffers come Christmas time. They have names like "Good Morning Starshine", a pretty peachy soap wrapped in "denim" with Rickie Tickie Stickies from the 60's. "Cowpoke" denim blue soap with cranberry gingham ribbon threaded through a concho. "Mermaid's Treasure", all seafoam green wired with "jewels". Oh, and "Java Chip" , a pebbly brown in a woven "coffee sack".

I'll be posting pictures tomorrow... Really.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Pods & things

So... all the things I was planning to do this weekend.. I did.

And what do I post? Pictures of the Womens' Expo in Edison? No. A cute shot of my niece (who accompanied us to the Expo)? No. Pictures of the Sizzlers gathered here? No. Not even a one of those heart melting pix of our shedding Shelty, Rudy. Instead today, I give you ... Pods.

The lush, beautiful flowers of the spring Wisteria become these strange velvety pods that hang from the "pergola" that leads to our back door.

I believe that last year, probably 6 years after planting this amazing vine, we had our first truly amazing bloom. It took some time to see my first pod. They weren't very obvious and in fact when I first saw them, I thought some very odd, very large butterflies were creating some frighteningly odd crysalises. At least that was my first thought.

It soon dawned on me that these alien-looking things were actually the seed pods of the wisteria. There weren't THAT many of them and they were kinda interesting, but mostly high above the foilage and so out of sight until the leaves fell from the vines in the fall.

Sometime, during the winter, the pods "sprung", creating some quite interesting, springy looking twirls, and a shower of the shiny, flat seeds. I started picking them up in the early spring thinking I would make them into an unusual piece of jewelry.

Well, I haven't done anything with them yet, but, as you can see from the picture, this year, the pergola is full of the bizarre things and we'll have an amazing crop of the shiny seeds - not to mention the swirly sprung pods.

I will just have to do something soon with the seeds I saved from last year. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Here we gooooo......

Another crazy weekend coming up. Women's Expo in Edison, NJ tomorrow. My DH, Bob, says it should be a two-hour drive, so I guess we'll give it three - we need to check out those rest stops along the way! Tina's daughter, Molly, will be going with us (Tina & me) this time which should be fun. Nothing like a little youth to perk things up.

On Sunday, I'll be hosting the Sizzlers here for a meeting to eat, pass beads around, eat, yak, pass some more beads around, eat and maybe light a torch... Oh, I forgot to say eat and laugh... lots of that. So far, I know there are 4 coming... I'm sure there will be more come Sunday. It's such a great group of people - so encouraging and accepting. Everyone is only too happy to show the others any techniques they have learned or share a piece of equipment they have acquired so that everyone can try it out.

I keep planning to clean and make soap... making lists and ignoring them... well it doesn't look THAT bad around here. And I can finish the soap on Monday.

I hope to have pictures of both the events of the weekend to post on Monday.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

New Fantasy Jewelry

I really need to get these up on my website. I'm planning a new page called "Fantasy Beads", but my website software is driving me crazy - not to mention that I'm apparently challenged in focusing my digicam properly, or at least in transferring well focused pictures to the web! Still need to learn a bit more about html so I can just do it myself instead using of the dang template thing I started with. It keeps corrupting itself. Probably has to do with the fact that I keep switching back and forth on web page editing programs, but it still shouldn't do my opinion.

This little gal is "Serena" and was so fun to make... well, they all are, but I layered silver in her body and you can see it shining through. Gives her a really nice look and shows all the different green and turquoise colors I used.

I had so many ideas about making her into a necklace. Lots of beads and shells would look great with her, but I guess this needed to be kept simple since she's so intricate herself. She's strung on Waxed linen with a few embellishments on the necklace itself.

The hole on this bead runs vertically through her body which made it easy to add a tassel of bubbly beads which sort of add to the lushness of her tail.

The necklace is long, but it is made to be easily adjusted in the back. Both ends of the necklace slip through a largish bead in the back and end in small tassels (see picture to the right). Because the thread is waxed, it holds pretty well, but can be loosely tied to keep it in place.

The purple fairy, "Violet", seems characteristically shy as she turns her face slightly to the side and her hair falls over her face. There are garlands of vines and flowers flowing through her hair and held in her hands.

"Violet" is built on a bead and the hole runs horizontally so that she is strung simply on a triple strand of waxed linen and matching beads are worked into the design near the focal, using a knotted pattern.

This necklace is finished the same way as "Serena", with both strands running through a large bead and fringed at the ends.

I'm going to be making a number of beads and necklaces like this. The blue and pink faireies I showed a couple of weeks ago are already gone and I have a fall fairy ready to be strung with some glass acorns and oak leaves I have made. Another "coming attraction" is a midnight fairy in shades of creamy, opalescent white and lapis.. silver star spattered spacers and a large moon bead go with her... better get busy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Rudy in PurpleOur sweet pup, Rudy, is having one heck of a shedding season. This is the first time it has been an issue. He was only a little guy last year at this time. Now, he's a big boy. He's been through a winter and a hot summer and his fur is coming out in huge bunches!

Here's the culprit. Doesn't he look like a perfect little gentleman? What an innocent face, huh?

He's normally a very mild mannered fellow, but what a whirling, snarling dervish he becomes when the brush comes out! For some reason, he really hates it.

We've been attempting to brush him as often as possible even though it means tying an old handkerchief around his "snoot" which seems to calm him so that he lies peacefully while giving off quiet little growls.

It's pretty obvious he holds no grudge because, afterward, he's full of fun and ready to play - oh, and expecting a treat!

Rudy HairWhat do you suppose this is? Is it a cotton boll gone unpicked? No. Have a herd of sheep passed by recently? No.

This is an echinacea seed head that had fallen across Rudy's pathway. It seems it caught on a clump of his fur and it just pulled right out...

On another note, you can see in this picture how dry it is, too... We've reached the typical brown ground stage of summer when much of the grass has become crunchy underfoot.

Usually our summer drought is ended when the tail end of a hurricane sweeps up our way and soaks the thirsty earth. Maybe the seemingly drunken path of Ophelia will lurch it's way up here and end it for us this year.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Back to the Woods

So, Tina was over and we decided to venture into the woods once again. With the weather as dry as it has been here, the lush summer undergrowth seems to have thinned a bit and we were able to actually venture in a bit.

I didn't get far before I started thinking about all the mosquitoes and "snakey" things and the fact that I was wearing my sandals, so I just kept track of Tina's shadow as she dove into the heavier growth searching for the bayberry bushes we planted this spring....

While I was waiting, I played with some of the prematurely colored and fallen leaves along with some other odds and ends I had found to make a temporary collage. I guess it's sort of "found art".

The colors on the leaves were oddly mottled. The black walnut still in its hull (up in the top left corner) reminds me of walks around the pond with "Bobby" (now Rob and apparently even more recently, Harry!) who always insisted on picking them up and sticking his little thumbs in the mushy ends to turn them black. The feather is a gift of one of the birds who has lived this beautiful summer here among the trees. Wonder if he (or she) will be sticking around for the winter?

Speaking of winter... one of the supposed predictors of a hard winter is lots of berries on the dogwood trees.... what do you think? This looks pretty thick to me...

I guess I should hope for a mild winter this year with the predictions of high costs for heating oil, etc.... and I guess I do, realistically, but a good storm or two (no more than that) is always nice if you are stuck and have nothing to do but sit by the fireplace watching the winterscape outside while a pot of soup simmers on the stove.

BUT, it's barely autumn and certainly not time to wish for a snowy day! Despite the horrible weather catastrophe recently on the Gulf coast ... and Ophelia lurking off the east coast, we have been blessed with absolutely perfect weather - although awfully dry - and I'd hate to go wishing it away.

Well, the lye's ready for tomorrow... it'll be a soaping day. Lot's of varieties to get up to speed and a couple special ones I'd like to make for the holidays. And of course, the torch is always waiting...

(Edited today because it's a collAge not a collEge - and I'm an idiot!)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Where's my camera?

You know, we live in the country.

We aren't that far out, but we get used to watching for farm tractors and even Amish buggies on our roads... they're just a fact of life. On Sundays, the "courtin' buggies" go past the house and the kids are out playing on their scooters and riding their wagons down the hill.

This evening, though, I saw something that even surprised me.

I was pulling out of the grocery store and something caught the corner of my eye at the bank. There in the drive-up lane was a car, waiting patiently for the Amish buggy in front of him to finish their transaction! I'm sure I did a double take to be sure I was really seeing what was there. It is just something unexpected... looked absolutely out of place. The only thing worse would have been that the buggy was at the ATM!

I guess that's progress.