Thursday, September 25, 2014

Riding My Dragon Ink Drawing Done

Close up of Riding My Dragon
My schedule is weird. My most productive time seems to be between midnight and the wee hours of the morning. Often I work all night. Tomorrow my hubby has a busy teaching day, so he went to bed and I looked at the clock and pouted.

Then I decided I needed to go on an adventure and invited my Dragon to take me. Well, we went flying through the midnight sky, and he said to me, "Do you know that the midnight sky is not black, because it's lit by Dragons flying with fairy friends amongst the moon and stars."

Lovely ride!
He loves me. And I am rather enamored of him as well. He lets me sit upon his back between his fearsome horns and takes me gallivanting. Ah such joy. The whole world disappears. We hear only the wind and the quiet twinkling of friendly stars. It relaxes us.

I'm making sure to have each ink drawing scanned in by my wonderful print shop - JARU - because I want to make a coloring book available eventually, so I have to save the black and whites in the form that will allow me to paint them this winter, after the beading frenzy is under control.

Tonight I had to order 4 more watercolor blocks because I keep having to draw in between doing the beads and deadlines don't allow me the time to paint right now. Come on winter, come on snow, come on peaceful afternoons in my winter sunbeam, painting away.

This photo is hard to read, because the Dragon's wings don't carry until they get some color on them, but it's worth the wait for the turquoise going to green, carrying fairy friend through midnight skies that are most certainly not black.

Stay tuned for updates on the inks.

Bedtime now ZZZzzzzzz.......sweet Dragon dreams....


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Age of the Golden Illustrators cabochon necklace finished - Lirope the Bright

Lirope the Bright
Meet Lirope the Bright, a woman of unparalleled beauty and magical powers!

I was so excited when I came upon a source for collage sheets of illustrations from my favorite artists who painted during the Golden Age of Illustration. I love getting lost in the stories and the characters come vividly to life in my imagination, spurred by these gorgeous images. To be able to design something to wear from their gorgeous illustrations is a true treat.

One of my favorite artists from that time is Warwick Goble, who immortalized Lirope for us all in his illustration for the poem, Lirope the Bright, in The Book of Fairy Poetry, published in 1920. Isn't it fantastic that we have free access to some of the greatest and most beautiful works of all time online! is a wonderful resource for reading, especially before bedtime.

Here's an excerpt from the poem, Lirope the Bright written by Michael Drayton -

"What form she pleased each thing would take
That e'er she did behold;
Of pebbles she could diamonds make,
Gross iron turn to gold.
Such power there with her presence came
Stern tempests she allayed;
The cruel tiger she could tame,
The raging torrents stayed."

I love that Lirope was not only beautiful, but also full of gentle strength. What a wonderful ally to keep close.

Necklace is made of double strand seed beads and crow beads
In this image, Lirope is holding up a jelly fish, whose tendrils turn to jewels at her hand, so I pulled out the deep brown color of her hair, the soft pink of her dress, and the iridescent greens of the ocean (because in the full image she's sitting on the sand by the sea) for the peyote stitched border and the fringe on this piece. As I stitched the border around the cabochon I chose pearl colored beads to echo the pearls she's holding, and sea green ones to echo the colors of her jelly fish.

Fluffy fringe whose pattern changes with the wearer's movement
Her fringe includes sparkly Swarovski crystal beads in soft pinks, sea greens, and emerald greens. Pearl colored seed beads accent the dark browns, again echoing the pearls that Lirope is holding.

Here's how the back looked when I first began.
And here's how the finished back looks with soft forest green ultrasuede.

Starburst pattern pulling out the colors in the image surrounds the cabochon.
She'll be on display for the month of November at the Bellefonte Art Museum, then available on Etsy at Dreamkeeper Creations.

Length of necklace - 21 inches

Total length of necklace to tip of fringe - 26 inches

Here's to celebrating beauty and strength, one of my favorite combinations!


Friday, September 12, 2014

Getting ready for my Bellefonte Art Museum jewelry show in November!

Cirque inspired jester cabochon necklace
I've been working hard on some new pieces for the upcoming show, and this is the story of the Jester cabochon necklace I just finished, inspired by the Cirque du Soleil.

The first time I attended a Cirque du Soleil show I was absolutely and completely mesmerized. Right from the beginning of the show (Alegria), my jaw dropped and my chin was down to my knees the whole time. I was in awe of the talent, dedication, discipline, and hard work it takes for the performers to do what they do. And I was transported by the story as well as the message of the show itself. Cirque, the organization as a whole, is very much based in sustainability - of the planet as well as the human spirit, which I love. 

So, many images have stayed in my mind along with the incredible music of the shows (I've seen four shows so far and will see as many as I can as opportunities arise, and have some of the music CDs, which I like to listen to while I work). And many more images have arisen, inspired by the soul and spirit of these shows and the Big Spirit people who make them happen.

The photo above is of my most recent cabochon necklace, inspired by the joy of Cirque. 

The piece began with the beautiful hand carved moon face cabochon, glued to a backing of Lacy's Stiff Stuff. I cut the backing into a shape, not yet knowing what would result. First I beaded the border of the face, wanting to use all the colors of the rainbow, sort of as a multicultural message - "we are one; we are made of the rainbow, and we are together in our journeys." 

If you're familiar with my work, you know I listen to my creations, and they pretty much tell me the directions they want to go. As I beaded the border around the face, I understood that this face wanted a hat. And not just any hat, it wanted a jester's hat. 

I find the occupation of the jester interesting, in that the skills of a jester, according to Wikipedia, included "songs, music, storytelling, acrobatics, juggling, and magic," (how delicious is that?!) as well as some fairly pointed political commentary. They are somewhat akin to the Native American heyoka. The heyoka would "ask difficult questions and say things others are too afraid to say," according to the Wikipedia definition, which aligns with the Native teachings I have absorbed over the years. Heyokas are teachers and facilitators, taking us through difficult and painful things, incorporating humor to blunt our fear and pain in order to help us to learn and grow.

Jester's hat and background
So this jester got his cap, and he made it clear that he didn't want it symmetrical - he likes the rules not to be too tight. Around his face I used peyote stitch, and on the background I used the stop-stitch technique for texture. 

OooooooOoooo, then it was time for fringe - you know I'm out of control with fringe, I love it so much. So he was telling me he wanted me to continue his body down through the fringe, which I did, choosing colorful beads that echo the colors around his face and in his cap. 

Fringe details
His body includes a loving heart, his arm and hand, which holds the brass ring he's captured, along with a little ball he likes to play with in his spare time, and a star representing his connection with all things celestial. (His star and his ball are at the bottom of the fringe - click on the first image above to see it enlarged.) This jester performs in the spotlight, and the fringe on each side of his "body" represents the darkness outside of the spotlight. This fringe is lightly studded with colors pulled from his face and body, as his own light can't help but shine out into the darkness.

Necklace is made of double stranded glass seed beads and crow beads
With my pieces I like for the necklace part to blend into the piece itself. I try to design my cab necklaces so they'll suit most necklines - they're not meant to be worn with button down blouses, (I make shorter pieces for that) but they sit beautifully on solid color backgrounds. Almost any color works great depending on the piece. The length is chosen so that they don't hit the desk or table if you move around, and they're long enough for the wearer to look at even when you're not around a mirror. I also like to be able to slip mine right over my head, not having to fumble with fasteners.

This piece took about 30 hours to make - pure pleasure, and lots of love. It will be on exhibit at the Bellefonte Art Museum through November and if it doesn't find its forever home at that time it'll be available for purchase through Dreamkeeper Creations.

Length of seed bead chain - 22 inches

Length of Jester - 6 inches (Jester's face sits at the sternum of the chest)

And before I forget, we're lucky enough to have Cirque's Dralion coming to our sweet little town very soon! Get your tickets now! (I've got mine, can't wait!)

Here's to teachers everywhere.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What can we do with our Inner Critic?

The Inner Critic
My friend Asta has inspired this picture of The Inner Critic because she's going back to school and facing all kinds of "Am I good enough" challenges. 

The thing about school is that we don't go because we already know everything, we go to define and refine our interests, to build a foundation from which we can spring with confidence and experience. So feeling nervous kind of goes with the endeavor of stepping into the uncharted territory of adult education. We deserve this. It's FUN. It's also a lot of hard work but what else is there but the work/play that we're born to do?

I'd guess that most of us have an Inner Critic - that little voice that pesters us with negatives - you're not good enough, you should do this, you shouldn't do that, if only, blah, blah, blah.

So I posted a message to Asta when she expressed that she was feeling a load of doubt that I was taught a while back to give that Inner Critic a persona. My favorite definition of persona from Merriam Webster's online is: an individual's social facade or front that especially in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung reflects the role in life the individual is playing...

I perceive that The Inner Critic's life plays out in our mind; it's the conversation between the protective part of the Self and the Spirit Self who's attempting to build wings with which to fly so that the world can see and enjoy the fullness of our real Self, and so that we can experience and enjoy our real Self.

The Inner Critic looks down his nose at everything.
When I imagined The Inner Critic I pictured him on a high horse, looking down his nose at everything because he thinks he knows it all, and wearing armor, because his basic function is to protect. But he often gets out of control, paralyzing us so that we don't feel confident and comfortable exploring our true Selves. In the quest for perfection he makes us forget that most of the time good is good enough, and the journey is what's important.

He's staked his flag in a pile of horse poop.
What The Inner Critic doesn't realize is that he's got his flag stuck in a pile of horse poop, oops. He's pretty full of it. He doesn't see the possibilities. His negativity rains down all over his wonderful steed, who brings him empowerment that he isn't able to recognize and nurture. 

Take a NAP.
So what can we do with The Inner Critic? We can acknowledge its existence. We can say "Thank you for the protection, but please Go Take A NAP."

Once we've thanked The Inner Critic for its well-meant protection and asked it to take a snooze, we can progress on our journey of Self-fulfillment.

While he's dreaming, our suns can come out to dry up the Inner Critic's rain. And our little villages can become infused with color and life.

And if the Inner Critic gets enough beauty sleep, we may find that he's morphed into our Inner Cheerleader and Biggest Fan.

Little Village fighting the wet blanket of The Inner Critic. The Village will triumph for sure.

We win.

Thanks for the inspiration Asta!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

End of summer garden tribute, Rob, Lil Bear, and Bennie, Shaved Beef Recipe for dinner - sooooo good!

Beeeeautiful blooming shamrocks!
This has been the rainiest summer I can remember for several years. Rain and thunder almost every day. And it has affected all the plants in our garden. Aren't gardens fascinating? Never the same from one year to the next.

On St. Patty's Day my husband brought me a couple of little tiny shamrock plants in small pots, (such a pleasure in March when winter's just letting go) and we babied them through early spring and planted them outside in larger pots when it was warm enough. I had no idea they could bloom like this. Usually they stay pretty small, and I've never seen them bloom before. They LOOOoooooVE this cool, wet weather.

Sweet purple Capanula capanuling with our dancing rabbit
I also love this little purple capanula plant that he brought home in a pot a few months ago. This one will sleep during the winter if we put it in the ground and come up under the warm spring sunshine next year.

The happy pot of zinnias and sanvitallia
We were sitting outside soaking up the twilight rays of sunshine before making dinner tonight and I noticed that the zinnias have the most interesting growth habit. There's a little crown of tiny flowers right in the middle of a whole big flower. I enjoyed imagining what kind of fairy might be playing around this one, all crowned with a wreath of flowers and sporting a flowing orange cape. Hm, maybe a painting to come inspired by that one....

This is one of our very favorites this year, called Evolvulus. We'd never had this one before, but I'd plant it again in a minute! The leaves, though I'm not sure the camera does them justice, are a very deep green, which is delicious, and the flowers are true blue, which is unusual and pretty hard to find aside from delphiniums and forget-me-nots. They really like when it rains and thunders - I pull them out from under the porch roof and into the rain and they spring up like they've just had their vitamins the next day (which they pretty much have, from the nitrogen in the rain).

Close-up of the Evolvulus blossom - blooms ALL summer!

Our jurassic fern
Every year we put a couple of ferns out and we like to replant them in some really large baskets. They grow sooooo big and I love them! I like the way the new leaves have pale green tips and the mature ones are more blue. I can't stand taking these down when the cold weather comes and I long for a greenhouse to overwinter them. We visited a conservatory a few years ago and I remember seeing a fern that was many many years old, and absolutely HUGE. It was awesome. I adore ferns.

Bennie's getting some good sniffs!
We planted a bunch of herbs in various pots this year and we've really enjoyed it, and Bennie has too. He's standing behind the cilantro, which has bolted and flopped, time to put this pot away until next year.

Fresh oregano
We had all kinds of herbs growing and Rob popped out many times while cooking dinner to grab some fresh from the warm sunshine - nothing better!

Can't you just taste the parsley?!
Parsley is a great blood purifier.

Gorgeous mint!
We had three kinds of mint - chocolate mint, spearmint, and peppermint - so great for putting into a refreshing glass of iced tea.

Lavender - not for cooking but great for fragrance!
Gorgeous roses
Bridal veil

Brown-eyed Susan
Bunny and her begonias
This is what we do while the herbs and flowers grow : ))
Little Gnome garden sculpture serenading everyone under the maple tree
Unexpected surprises
So after enjoying the garden it was time to make dinner and I'd picked out a recipe for shaved beef, which we love, but I'm never quite sure what to do with it. Tonight we SCORED. I downloaded a recipe from the Internet - which was interesting, since it included some ingredients but didn't say what to do with them, and didn't include others which appeared in the instructions. We figured it out and it was soooooooo good.

Here's some visiting time with Rob and Lil Bear, who was flirting cause it was just about his supper time too (Lil Bear that is).

Lil Bear is flirting for his supper.
Flirting with the camera too. I'll give him anything he wants!
Bennie is watching an ant cross the patio. He's got bling!

My LOoooooOOooooove. Lil Bear. He's got man whiskers.
So after our garden time it was time to feed the pups and make dinner. 

Rob and Jen's Condiment Store
I felt like I could open a store with all the ingredients that were listed on the recipe. Note that I'm the one who bought the Four Ingredient Cook Book, which I love. I felt sort of intimidated by so many ingredients for this recipe but it was worth it.

Really eye rolling yummy
I think there's a lot to be said for really good cooking in that it creates complexities of flavor that are out of this world. This recipe I'd definitely recommend. This is shaved beef with spicy green beans - really really good. It doesn't explain what kind of pepper to use so we sprinkled on some ground pepper and also diced up some green pepper which we cooked along with the onions and garlic. And it doesn't say what the heck to do with the sauce, which we poured over the meat/green bean mixture just before taking it off the heat. If you try it, I bet you'll love it! Let me know.

Here's to end of summer, beginning of beautiful fall, garden tributes, and sweet time with hubby and pups!