Monday, July 28, 2014

Bid and Win Dreamkeeper Jewelry at CRICKFEST!

You may win these lovely Summer Nights Celebration earrings.
I am smack in the middle of summer and have finally finished preparing for the CRICKFEST silent auction! 

CRICKFEST is a fun time for kids of all ages with great music, pony rides, a petting zoo, delicious local foods, an up-close and personal visit with Mike Dupuy and one of his beautiful hawks (for the past two years), plus some of his great stories! This year we get to see a representative from Shaver's Creek!

Mike and one of his glorious hawk friends! (Image courtesy of Mike's public Facebook page)
CrickFest benefits the Penns Valley Conversation Association Educational Programs so it's really cool to come out and have a good time and maybe take home a little prize, knowing that your investment helps support a great cause. Remember to bring your water shoes so you can dip your toesies in the cool, cool water of the crick. 

The first time I attended CRICKFEST they had a fundraiser where I bought a little yellow rubber duckie for five bucks so he could join the fundraising race, wherein they dump hundreds of little yellow duckies that others have bought for however much they'd like to invest, into the crick and they bounce and bob their way to the finish line, several yards from the spot where they were released. I've never seen anything like it. 

I don't know which is more fun to watch, the bobbing rubber duckies or the people lined up along the banks of the stream, hooting and hollering, shouting encouragement and waving their arms. I have to confess, the suspense as the duckies came around the bend was awesome, and I felt verrry special when my duckie won and I got to pick out a prize. I chose to commemorate his adventure with a very tiny replica of him, The Fastest Bouncing, Bobbing Duckie of them all.

My souvenir has a place of honor in my studio, too fun!
I love to contribute a few pieces to the silent auction every year alongside many other wonderful artists, and here are some photos of what you get to bid on this year. Check my Etsy site at Dreamkeeper Creations for approximate retail value, or bid as high as you like to contribute to PVCA.

Starburst Dichroic Cabochon Statement Necklace
This is a really special piece, bid high : ) This style takes about 30-40 hours to make, and includes a gorgeous sterling and silver-filled clasp.  The focal bead is a handmade dichroic glass cabochon surrounded with a border of glass seed beads in the peyote stitch technique using magical FireLine thread, which is very strong and "wirey" enough to scrunch up so that the fringe curls a bit. It's perfectly okay to touch and play with the fringe, as I do knot my work at the top of each strand so it's very secure. This necklace is about 24 inches long and the pendant is about 3-4 inches long, so it sits right at the heart of your chest, like a protective, celebratory shield. 

Here's a photo of the back, showing the soft ultrasuede that finishes it.

The soft ultrasuede backing.
Sterling and silver filled cones and lobster clasp.
  If you like to wear a lot of black and white and want some fun, but somewhat conservative, classy earrings, these will be available -
Black and white with a twirly twist!
These earrings are handmade glass pillow beads, accented with banded agate and jasper, with silver filled ear wires. 
Mid-summer celebration earrings
The earrings above are also handmade glass pillow beads, and trust me, finding affordable artists who really have a knack for color and expression and design with these is quite the challenge. They're accented with jasper and green glass beads AND look below, there's the sweeeeetest necklace to go with them!
Darling sweet necklace to go with mid-summer earrings
Just pick up this necklace and you might fall in love. It feels good in your hand, and around your neck is perfectly delightful. It's made with a silver-plated bail, accent beads of jasper and beautiful green glass, with a silver-filled lobster clasp. Necklace length is about 16 inches (strung on AccuFlex wire for durability), pendant is about 2 inches. Clasp includes wire guards and crimp beads - very good quality all around.

Here's a picture of the clasp - 
Quality ROCKS!
Next we have pure magic with this gorgeous pendant.

A little bit of pure magic
This pendant is so wonderful I must make one similar for myself. The focal bead is handmade glass accented with an agate gemstone bead, and the tails include a glass Czech dagger bead, Swarovski crystal, and sterling leaf charm. It's all about sweet Nature. Strung on black leather with silver plated and silver filled lobster clasp that's glued for durability.

Quality ROCKS!

And for the wrist, a set of FIVE cloisonne bracelets, which are my top selling items in my Etsy store, Dreamkeeper Creations. Lucky you, fight to win the bid on these and go to Dreamkeeper Creations to get some more. I sometimes wear 12 of these at a time depending on my mood. It's becoming quite the challenge to get these beads, so snap them up while you have the chance! They match positively everything and don't mess with the keyboard when you're typing.

These lovely jewelies should bring in about $300 or more for PVCA. Bid happy and wear them with joy!

Thank you for supporting handmade arts as well as PVCA!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Michelle's Gift - Little Puck from Midsummer Night's Dream

Little Puck is getting all dressed up!
“Are you sure/That we are awake? It seems to me/That yet we sleep, we dream” 
― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

My friend Michelle Tocher is a storyteller. Isn't it amazing that there exists a field in which one can make a living telling stories? Not only that, she helps her listeners to generate healing within themselves as a result of listening/working through magical stories.

A very young me, sharing a bedtime story with my son.
What is it about stories that appeals to humans everywhere? I think it's that stories often hold our earliest memories of love. We begin our lives with them. If we're lucky, our most precious memories are of the times before bed when we were held close in the arms of our caregivers, safe and warm, ready for that mysterious journey into sleep--listening to the cadence of their voices as they told us stories.
My daughter Jess, telling stories. 
 And storytelling is an art that passes down through the generations. The photo above is one of my favorites of my daughter, Jessica, telling stories to her collection of dolls and stuffed animals. She's doing it with a puppet on her hand (holding the book).

Even when we grow up we're enamored of stories in the form of movies, songs, poems, and the phenomenon has grown to huge popularity with the advent of the Internet and games, in which we get to play characters within stories. Even higher education and business/commercial enterprises recognize the value of stories for capturing and holding the attention of listeners and viewers everywhere.

Illustration from Quatrain XI of the Rubaiyat by Edmund Dulac

I think the value of stories is that they lead us to one of our most powerful, inherent gifts of God: the gift of imagination. And though the power of imagination is still largely veiled from us, we are discovering the strength of it and the healing and empowerment it can bring to each of us. There is no real barrier that can separate us from this power as long as we have control of our minds. It lives inside of us. It belongs to each of us. The illustration above is by one of my all-time favorite artists, Edmund Dulac. His images can really send my imagination soaring!

Some of the most powerful and influential people on earth have learned of the inherent power in the use of imagination, such as Dr. Masaro Emoto, who wrote The Hidden Messages in Water, and Albert Einstein, who said, "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere."

In Dan Millman's book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior we are reminded that first comes desire, then comes thought/imagination, then action to bring that vision into our reality here on earth. I love the simplicity of this formula. It works! 

And I love Michelle and her work as a storyteller. So I decided to commemorate her with a necklace all her own, and that is how Little Puck (image is by Arthur Rackham from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream) became a wearable piece of art!

Michelle's necklace
When she wears this necklace while telling her magical stories, Little Puck will be looking up at her and listening. Puck delights in plot twists and sometimes mischievously creates some of his own!

The first thing I do is cut out the image, which I've had printed on glorious, thick matte paper at JARU, a top-notch printing house here in town, and then I use 3D Crystal Lacquer to attach the image to a glass-domed cabochon. (I do these in groups since it can be very messy to work with the lacquer.)

Beautiful cabs waiting to be embellished!

First stages of making Michelle's necklace
Once that's done, I use EZ-6000 to attach the cab to Lacy's Stiff Stuff (which I've dyed black with Dylon permanent fabric dye for Michelle's necklace). After a few hours of drying underneath a good old stack of books, it'll be ready for embellishment! 

Decisions, decisions!
While it's drying I like to spend time choosing which bead colors I'll use and I get them all out and pour some into the little bead dishes I love to work with. Most of my bead dishes are the type that restaurants use for serving soy sauce. Some I bought in Chinatown (Philadelphia) when I had a chance to visit and some I've gotten online

Arthur, my little wooden model, does his "Vanna act" with the bead dishes.
The great thing about these bead dishes is that they make it easy to pick up the tiny seed beads and they separate the colors nicely. Sometimes I have about 12 dishes with various selections of beads in them. It can take 2 or 3 hours just to choose the bead colors for a piece, and this is one of my favorite parts of a project! Occasionally I have to order some new ones if I don't have a particular color on hand.

Fringe on FireLine lets you scrunch it up like curly hair or straighten it out!
After I've gotten the border sewn around the cab, I start working on the fringe, which is also one of my favorite parts! The fringe on most of my cabs is two layers thick, and tipped with Czech dagger beads and sometimes specialty beads, such as beautiful iridescent leaves or  spiny oyster shell dagger beads. Isn't it wonderful that someone out there takes on the task of making beads from shells like this!

When I do the fringe, I start with about 4 yards of 6 lb black FireLine and pull half of it through the middle bead on the bottom of the cab. I wind up the other half, securing it to the back of the cab to keep it out of the way while I'm working. And then I sew and sew choosing along the way whether or not, and if so, how to add extra embellishment with Swarovski crystal beads. I do the whole right-hand side of the fringe and then unwind the other half of the thread and do the left. The left is always easier since the decisions have been made and I just have to replicate the right-hand side. So in doing fringe, to make it symmetrical, I start from the middle and work out to the sides.

The ultrasuede backing
After the fringe is finished, it's time to sew on the soft, ultrasuede backing. The photo above is of a different cab necklace because I forgot, in my excitement, to take a photo of Michelle's.

The braided seed bead necklace
Then, after the cabochon is done I create the necklace that it will hang from. This part can take the longest and can be somewhat challenging. 

First, I create one half of the sterling silver filled fastener, which is a combination of hand-twirled wire, jump rings, and a lovely lobster clasp. Then I secure three strands of 014 inch diameter stainless steel Accu-Flex wire to the fastener. Onto each strand of Accu-Flex wire, I string hundreds of seed beads, choosing the pattern along the way. Finishing the other end can be a real challenge because I have to temporarily secure the ends of each strand after they're beaded but before they're braided. I use a combination of tape and bead stoppers.

Simple black leather with sterling silver filled fastener
And I generally like to create a simple black leather necklace so that the owner can choose between wearing the whole beaded piece, or changing to the leather for simpler events. They can also wear the seed bead necklace alone, without the fringed pendant - options ROCK! 

Puck loves being the center of attention!
So about 30-40 hours later, that's how Little Puck became a wearable piece of art! Hope Michelle likes it. I sure enjoyed making it : )

Here's to fun projects and spending time in uber-delicious ways! Now on to the other cabs waiting, which will be available for sale at Dreamkeeper Creations and the Green Drake Gallery. Don't worry, pricing is not based on the time spent making these beauties!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dragonfly Medicine - A Gift for Someone Special

Sneak Peek!
"Dragonfly medicine is of the dreamtime and the illusionary facade we accept as physical reality." 
~ Jamie Sams and David Carson, Medicine Cards

I had the good fortune to be introduced to a very special woman, Catherine Malone, who embodies Dragonfly medicine and whose profession is to help others learn about themselves. She is a phenomenal woman.

Her courage and independent spirit are impressive, and I wanted to make a gift for her to celebrate these qualities, so her Dragonfly necklace came about.

Spirited necklace for a spirited woman!
She likes reds and pinks, the colors of life and vitality, so I searched for a dragonfly image that incorporated these colors. I found several by the same artist, and chose for Catherine one that includes two dragonflies. One dragonfly represents Catherine in flight, gently leading the way, and the other represents the people that she guides. On the background of this image are some words, beautifully handwritten and personal. These words represent the communication that happens between Catherine and her clients - communication that opens up new worlds for them.

Catherine's dragonfly pendant with its braided seed bead necklace
I chose the colors of Catherine's necklace carefully, to complement the image, and as placeholders and reminders of archetypal concepts she knows all about. Black for the void, where all of creativity begins, white for spirit, which is the foundation of all, green for nature and communication, and of course, red for life and vitality. 

Lively fringe made of Czech dagger beads and iridescent glass leaf beads
The image is protected by a glass domed cabochon, around which I sewed the border of seed beads ranging from 11/0 to 15/0 in size. The bail that attaches the pendant to its necklace is stitched in a modified brick pattern. And the necklace itself is braided of patterned seed bead strings tipped with sterling cones and lobster fastener.

When I make these fringed pendants I like to give the owner the option of wearing them either on the braided seed bead necklace or a simpler, shorter black leather necklace to accommodate different moods. They can also wear the seed bead necklace by itself, without the pendant for simpler times.

Circles of friendship 
The story of how this necklace came about is very dear to me. I was working on my lessons in the WonderLitTM course I took, and the exercises led me to examine the tool in the fairy tale I was studying that was foundational to the turnaround of the main character as he battled with a fearsome dragon. This tool happened to be a magical scarf with which he wiped his eyes, thereby restoring his sight, which represented enlightenment.

Images from The Dragon Slayer,
retold by Barbara Ker Wilson and illustrated by Jaqueline Athram,
Cassel & Company Ltd. 1959
In conversation with Michelle, the course author and facilitator, I learned about her friend Catherine, who is a multitalented artist. Along with meditational facilitation, one of her many talents is weaving magical scarves on her gorgeous loom.

Catherine's magical loom
What special surprises might be discovered in one of Catherine's scarves?
Michelle said to me "Of course you must have one, let me contact Catherine and see if she's able to weave one for you. It'll be my gift." 

Well, that was exciting! I am honored to have something so special, woven in the fresh air, under spring sunshine, by such an artist who surely is very busy, and much sought after for all of her skills. Thank you Michelle! Thank you Catherine! Wow.

So as I explored the background of this wonderful woman that Michelle told me about, via her web site, I thought to myself, she must have a gift from me, and that is how her necklace came about.

Well of course Michelle gets one too, and that is another story.

These gifts I make are done in the spirit of the Giveaway, which is a lovely Native American concept that was foundational (and still is) to their culture. 

Isn't the circle of life just wonderful? Here's to caring spirits everywhere!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Part 2 - Relief and Joys as Jess Settles in Back Home

Nothing better than the sand between your toes!
I love to go to Portland. I love the climate and the beautiful redwood trees, and I LOVE the beaches. So on our second day of semi-removed parental backup while Jess was getting her home back in order and settling in, we continued our forays into Nature by driving to Canon Beach. Canon Beach has been named as one of "The 100 Best Art Towns in America" by author John Villani, and "One of the World's 100 Most Beautiful Places," National Geographic, June 2013 issue. Well you could have left me there forever and I'd have been happy as a clam.

Toesies had to take a dip!
This trip wasn't about shopping (though I managed to do a bit of that!). It was about clearing our heads, and refueling our souls, so a walk on the beach was just the thing for that. I chuckle when I remember telling a friend of mine about going to Canon Beach. She lived there for several months, so knew a thing or two about it, and her eyes got real wide and began to twinkle as she asked me if I planned to bring some cold weather clothing. We both cracked up and I said "I know!" because the climate of Portland is generally pretty cool, but at the beach it can be really cold, even in the middle of summer. 

Perfect beach walk
The first thing we did when we got to town was park as close to the beach as possible. I took my shoes off and put on my nice warm raincoat and we walked and walked, digging our toes in the sand, which retained a tiny bit of warmth. I loved breathing in that gorgeous salt air, seeing and hearing the beautiful gulls, and feeling the water lap at my toes. The water was a little warmer than the air temperature, which had to be in the 40s, maybe low 50s. The wind was blowing hard and it was spit raining, perfect for a moody, head clearing walk. 

Beautiful sidewalk plantings
After our beach walk we wound our way down sidewalks planted with charming colorful flowers to a little cafe where we had some delicious hot coffee, and sat at a little bay window in comfortable dark green leather chairs next to an old brass antique floor lamp. We shared a savory rosemary/apple/cheddar puffed pastry that was scrumptious. Treat!

Our little corner out of the wind.
Very special cafe latte
We had a chance to visit the DragonFire Gallery. I had read about it in one of the brochures I got from the hotel and I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Lord, lord, it was certainly a feast for the senses. I hadn't seen galleries like that since I lived in San Diego. It was like coming home. If you check out the Bell Pine Art Farm link on their web site you'll find some enchanting clay figures that make very special gifts, along with lots of other beautiful things. (I gave some Bell Pine figures to each of the women in my family one Christmas and they loved them. It was one of those one-for-you, one-for-me Christmas purchases, lol.) There was a little dog (Canon Beach is very dog-friendly) who stays in the gallery while his mom works, and his name was Charlie. Charlie had lost his toy dragon and his mom kept saying to him, in between the nails in her mouth and hammering to hang gorgeous paintings, "Where's your dragon, Charlie? Go find your dragon." And he did. What a good dog! I saw some beadwork similar to my bead cuff bracelets, but different. Dare I dream that I might eventually secure representation there? Why not?!

At Camp 18
On our way to the beach we stopped at Camp 18 Restaurant, a place that commemorates Oregon's old logging days. I have mixed feelings about logging and definitely prefer sustainable practices, but I can respect the times before people really had an understanding of the damage done to the planet when we wipe out old-growth forests. We know better now, but I appreciate the hard work that good men did to build our homes and other useful things back in the day. At this place they had amazing carvings.

Big old eagle carving with Bigfoot in the background. 
I think Rob was saying "Ooooooooooo!"

Loooooong bench
I took a photo of this bench because it was impressively loooooong, but made with no splits in the boards, showing the strength of the beautiful redwood. 

So after that wonderful day of Nature mixed with ART, we headed back for dinner with Jess, who was doing fine and enjoying settling in. One of the things she liked best was being able to drive her car again - she'd washed and shined it up. Yay!

The next day I asked if she'd like to go out with us, and she was up for it, so we took her to the Portland Art Museum, and what a treat that was! 

They let visitors take photos of the paintings and sculptures on exhibit (without flash) and I was very pleased about that. I fell in love with a little Madonna relief - something about the whole mothering thing touched me.

Madonna of the Immaculate Conception with Christ Child and the Infant St. John

What amazes me as I walk through museums looking at the finest specimens of beauty in the world is that a person can create something and 300 years later another person can receive the message behind it. It amazes me that back in the times when they had no television or electronic diversions they were able to concentrate and create real beauty.

Spirit of the Dance
The one above is just gorgeous. Can you imagine spending your time making something so very beautiful? I love the angles and planes and shadows and light of such a beautiful face.

I like that artists of olden times had the ability to concentrate and focus, to create works that show their studies and their loves. Today it's such a struggle to get the time to do anything worthwhile, and society is structured such that artists are very poorly supported. Generally, I think it shows in that many of our better artists are "retired," having earned the time to be able to focus. Yes, I set off the alarm touching, but only once (cringe).

Telling secrets
We were lucky enough to visit the museum while they were exhibiting some of the sculptures from the Tuileries Garden in France. When we entered the exhibition space for the Tuileries sculptures the first piece we saw was this gorgeous woman, ready to listen to all secrets and never tell a soul. So I said to Jess, go tell her your secrets, and she did : )

How big are my pockets?
If you want to talk about pure LUST, this is a painting I'd love to be able to look at every day. It brings to mind the movie The Thomas Crown Affair, one of my very favorites. Best love scenes ever, best dance scene, best plot, don't watch it in front of the children. Delicious. Well so this painting brought that movie to mind because if I could ever steal something and get away with it, this just might be the thing. I love the frame as much as the painting. Those colors are A M A Z I N G.

Info about the painting I'd love to pocket.

Up close and personal with Thomas Moran
I got to see an original Thomas Moran, which was also amazing. For all the art books I have in my studio, nothing matches the experience of seeing the real thing. Each painting is like a fingerprint from the artist - no one paints like they do, no one. Moran was a master of color like nobody's business. 

Detail of Thomas Moran's painting
When I stood across the room from his painting my mind registered thousands of details, understanding the image completely. And when I stepped up close, it was amazing to see that these details were rendered with an openness that leaves so much for our imaginations to fill in.

Another detail of Thomas Moran's painting 
I mean look at the brushstrokes on the faces of these men next to the boat. They are just suggestions. Slashes of beautiful, perfect, singing color. How on earth can we get so much information from the whole painting when it's made of such suggestion? I love how his colors S I N G. The man was a master for sure. What a treat to see one of his originals up close.

The Grand Canal Info
And there were some equally amazing paintings depicting realism such that they made me feel like I could reach out and take a handful of what the image offered.

De Scott Evans Peanuts

Peanuts Painting Info

When we went into the elevator to go from floor to floor in the museum, Jess loved the way the lights reflected against the stainless steel walls, so I took this photo of her infatuation : )

Jess wishes she had her camera with her to take photos of the light.
We spent the next day visiting a wonderful bead store where I bought lots of lovelies to get back to work with, and then it was time to leave. I think we were ready. 

The view from Jessie's porch outside her apartment
Jess at home.
Jess was ready for us to be out of her hair so she can get on with the business of life, the joys and the challenges. So with many hugs and kisses, we headed back to our little oasis in State College.

Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

Can't wait to visit her again.

Blessings on all of your journeys.