Friday, February 22, 2008

Something new - needle felting

I was reading a thread in an online forum about needle felting. It referred to a YouTube video which intrigued me. We passed a wool shop on Wednesday as we were making deliveries and stopped in to see if they had the materials we needed.

They did, and so... First, I made a big old flower. It would be a great accent on a cloche hat or on a coat. Then I found an old piece of felt and decided to try felting a design on it. It was pretty free form and I really have no idea what it could be used for. A couple of snaps and it could actually be a cuff bracelet.. can you do that in felt?
Then I decided to give a figural a try. That was really what I thought I wanted to do when I got the supplies. I tried a teddy bear. His arms are a little long and I couldn't get his face right. At various times, while I was making him he looked like a monkey, a cat, a mouse and finally, when I got his face right, a bear! He's a pocket bear - just the right size to pop in a pocket for a little girl to take along as a secret friend.
Obviously, I haven't done much else for the past two days except to play with this new medium! But, the final piece is a mermaid.

I don't think she is finished. This is the piece to which I will add pearls and beads and maybe a few small shells.

She is my opportunity to really pour on the embellishments.

Next, I think I'll try a relatively large head. I have some ideas of a base to build it on...

I've been hearing a lot about people to being anxious for spring to come, but the older I get, the more I believe in enjoying life as it comes. One of the things I like about this time of the year is the opportunity to just hunker down and try new things...

Experimenting with soap, glass and, now a new medium, for me, of needle felting.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Watching the lunar eclipse last night, I was reminded of a once in a lifetime experience I shared 10 years ago with my husband and son. We were fortunate enough to be able to view a total solar eclipse.

Our son had shown an interest in astronomy and I happened to see that there was an "Eclipse Cruise" sponsored by a local museum. The actual eclipse fell one day after his birthday and it all just seemed like a perfect vacation/birthday present.

It was our first cruise and now that we have a few more under our belts, I can say that it was not at all typical. A majority of the people on that trip were there for the eclipse. For many of those people, this was not their first eclipse. It seems there is a segment of society who actually chases these things and will spend a lot of money, that they really can't afford, to travel to wherever there is an eclipse. I thought it was odd, but then, of course, I hadn't experienced one yet.

The trip itself was lovely and we were lucky enough to share our dinner table with the museum's planetarium director and his family. A couple of nights, we went up to the top deck with a telescope and he showed us the features of the night sky close to the equator. I was excited to see the Southern Cross.

On the day of the actual eclipse, we spent a short time in port (Antiqua) and then headed out to sea to jockey for a perfect cloudless viewing location. We were given special glasses and I guess just about everyone on the ship was on the upper decks. There was some amazing camera equipment set up at various places. The mood was very party-like as we all prepared for the event.

A solar eclipse is a much faster event than a lunar eclipse, so it only lasted for a short time. As it began, it was hard to see the actual changes. The easiest way to see what was happening was to somehow project the light of the sun on the deck. This was achieved by making holes in our fingers and letting the sun shine through it.

Excitement was building and we started realizing this was a really big event. The atmosphere changed. It became colder. As we approached totality, the temperature had probably dropped 20-30 degrees. We were in bathing suits and shorts and suddenly became chilled.

And then - it happened... The dragon swallowed the sun! It truly was a very exciting event. Just before the corona appeared, the "diamond ring" effect flashed.

And then, it was DARK. All the stars were visible and it was night - and there we were on a ship in the middle of the ocean. There had been a collective gasp as the sun disappeared and that huge ship was almost silent as we watched the unexpectedly moving event. We KNEW what was happening and the feeling was still very eery. I understand now why eclipses have always been such powerful events.

And then - just as suddenly as it disappeared, the shadow moved and the sun and the world started to return to normal.

My advise is that if you ever have the chance to experience a total solar eclipse - do it!

Monday, February 11, 2008

And now ... color!

I was making a lot of organic beads. I love that style, but sometimes, I need to work with some bright colors.

First, I made something that I've been thinking sbout for some time - "Hey Taxi!" I've been wanting to combine these colors for some time, but I think the trip to the city last week put me over the top!

Mustardy yellow and black, with black and white accents.

Does it say taxi to you? Or does it say school bus?

I think all the funky shapes and motion makes it very city-like...

Then on to another city - Paris and a set I call "Ooh La La"!

Why is it that pink, black and white say Paris to me? I looked through images on the internet and never did figure it out.

I thought maybe it was Schiaparelli, but that was a hot pink. I did find some note cards and a picture with a pink dressed lady with a poodle. You would think it would be easy to figure it out, but I didn't.

I don't know why this one is called "Heavenly Chatter", either, but that was the name that came to me!

Okay, it was the blue, but the coral wasn't exactly relaxing and restful, so that made it chatter.

Finally, I think I went somewhere south of the border for this combo, although it isn't really sunny enough, it certainly is bold.

I think maybe "broken pottery" or even "rag rug", but it's strong with sharp lines and pattern... I don't know.

Any ideas?

I may actually be doing a show again, which is what got me working on new sets, but I have time to come up with a name.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Gone to the City!

When we had our retail shop, a trip to NYC had become almost run of the mill. Since the shop was sold in 2000, I haven't been there, so visiting for the day was a real treat. I'm not sure exactly how it came about, but we decided to attend the International Gift Fair at Javitz and traveled by train with friends, Sarah and Kara of Radiance, an herb shop in Lancaster.

Since we will be doing a couple of herb faires and of course, our farmers' market, we thought maybe there might be something we needed - plus, we were just itching for the hustle and bustle of NYC and a chance to just break out of our day to day routine (idyllic though it may be)!

The weatherman was predicting a beautiful, sunny day for Monday - a repeat performance of a very gorgeous Sunday and we were looking forward to a lovely train ride and a sparkling view of the city.
It was not to be, but, even in the fog there is always something interesting going on. You can see the top of a skyscraper disappearing in the fog in the picture above... and if you look at the top of the building on the right, you'll see some workmen doing something to a round structure up there!

The Gift Fair is an enormous undertaking that runs for about a week. If you are seriously wanting to see the whole thing and do some major buying, you would want to spend the entire time there.

It is row upon row of opulent booths and tables full of everything you can imagine; Jewelry, clothing, household linens, toys, flowers, decorative items and on and on. Anything that could conceivably be considered a gift.... It is exhausting and even that huge hall full of people becomes stuffy and hot.
We stepped outside to cool off and get some fresh air and to sit down a couple of times during the day. One of those times, we were collapsed on a very cold cement bench facing the street and I looked up to see a parade of Amish headgear bobbing along above the wall toward the street. I would imagine this show is one of the more "worldly" events. Something about "storing up your treasures on earth"... But, now that many Amish run gift shops and bakeries catering to the "English" I guess they need to keep up with what's new.

Earlier, as we rounded a corner inside the show, I was shocked to see an Amishman followed by his daughter and even more surprised to realize that I knew him! It was Eli, one of our first soap customers. He's been selling our soap in his little countryside road stand for probably close to 15 years now. I called his name and he finally turned around to see us. I think we were all pretty amused to be running into each other there. We discussed how we had all gotten there and compared notes. He and his daughter had come up in a "taxi" which is basically a van and driver that hires out to groups of Amish for things like this or for getting to a work site. After we explained the train experience, he thought that might be a nice alternative to try.

Finally, a shot taken in front of the Javitz. This is where the shuttle buses line up to haul fair goers back and forth from hotels and transportation venues. They run every half hour all day long.

I actually really liked the composition of the picture. The geometric shapes and blocks of color reminded me a little of one of our local (historic) painters - Charles DeMuth. The man on the cell phone and the woman behind him, dressed in black are iconic NYC figures.

Finally, I wanted to mention the changes since I have been there last. The last time I was in The City was 1999 - obviously before 9/11. It is pretty evident the changes in security. We used to be able to just buy a round trip ticket on the train and choose any train that day to return home. Now, we must book a specific return - all using photo ID. That's a minor irritation. The physical barriers everywhere are a little jarring. The old taxi stand at Penn Station is no longer there... now it's outside on the street. There are huge barriers up outside the Javitz building where at one time buses and taxis moved freely. I really saw very little of the city and yet the changes are obvious.

Signs of the times....