Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Busy 10 Days

The last 10 days have been busy for me. The Bellevue Botanical Show depleted my inventory (yay!) so I have been working on new things for my upcoming show in Conway. When I do a show, I try to have things in all price ranges. I make some simple assemblage pieces and then I have the more labor-intensive art pieces available too. For the last 10 days I've been making both.

First I made these multi-strand assemblage bracelets:

"Chasing Rabbits"

"Frog Pond"


Then I made some of these simple scribble bracelets:

Blackened Steel Wire Scribble Bracelet

Then I made this soldered, fold-formed brass bracelet. I stamped it with the words "As above, so below." I made it from the roll of 26 gauge brass sheet that I bought from Skagit Steel last week.

"As Above, So Below" (front)

I intentionally gave the letter stamps strong forceful blows, because I wanted the letters to be in little circles for this one. 

"As Above, So Below" (back)

I used plumbers solder on the joint, and hid the seam by using gold Rub-N-Buff. I put a little more around the bracelet, to blend the deep gold into the brass color. 

Then I made this simple asymmetric druzy necklace. When the druzy arrived, it was way to shiny, so I used Swellegant metal coating on it, to dull the finish a bit. This is the bronze color. 

"Chasing Enlightenment"

I wanted to make some simple assemblage earrings, so I bought some fabulous findings from Vincent and Nooma Cav of Inviciti, and made 7 pairs of earrings. I love using their findings because they are really well designed, well made, and also very lightweight. 

Their charms come with those fabulous patinas too, so I find I don't need to mess around with them at all. I am going to be ordering more from them. Of course it makes me want to learn how to cast pewter myself, but I'll save that for another day. 

Finally, I still find myself obsessed with making soap. I found an old Madeleine pan at my local thrift store, and used it to make these lemon scented melt-and-pour shea butter soaps. The pan worked really well. I sprayed the cavities with olive oil spray and sprinkled a little lemon tea into the soap base before pouring. I'll figure out some packaging for them this week. 

Lemon Tea Soap

So those are the things I have finished in the last 10 days. I also planted four 12-foot rows of garlic and scallions for next summer. When I planted garlic last year the bunnies, or somebody who lives underground, pushed all the cloves back out of the dirt! I'll have to keep an eye on it this year.

Until next time, leaving you with this quote:

"People's dreams are made out of what they do all day. The same way that a dog that runs after rabbits will dream of rabbits. It's what you do that makes your soul, not the other way around."
-Barbara Kingsolver

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sweet Simple Things

It was one of those weeks... a weather change week, a 3-day migraine week. I know better. My migraine trigger is orange juice. I had some. It was a silly thing to do. Somehow I still managed to make some simple little things though.

To start the week off, I made two more necklaces with those resin-filled heart components I finished two weeks ago:

This one has bachelor button and marigold petals...

...and this one has bachelor button and California poppy petals.

 Next I made these simple fragrant lavender melt & pour soaps, in my handmade molds:

I used a white shea butter melt-and-pour base. It's super easy to use.
The faint purple color is from purple Brazilian clay from 

Here's the recipe for this one:
Rustic Melt & Pour Lavender Soap:

2 lbs white melt-and-pour soap base. (I used Bramble Berry's shea butter base.)
1 Tablespoon purple Brazillian clay
5 Tablespoons lavender oil for strongly scented soap 
- or
2 Tablespoons lavender oil for milder scented soap
2 teaspoons coconut oil

In addition, you will need:

A microwave-safe container with a pour spout.
Measuring spoons 
A long-handled plastic spoon for stirring
Soap molds or a clean rectangular milk cartons
A knife 
Olive oil spray

Spray your molds with olive oil spray. Cut the base into 1/2-inch cubes. Put into a microwave safe bowl with a pour spout. Microwave in 10-second bursts until the base is completely melted. Add the lavender and coconut oils. Stir in the clay. Stir until all the clay appears to be dissolved. Pour into soap molds or a milk carton. Allow to harden. (I cheat and put mine in the freezer for an hour.)Unmold and trim with a sharp knife, if necessary. 

For a less rustic look, suspend your clay in 1 Tablespoon of rubbing alcohol, mixing them together well before adding them to the hot soap base mixture. This will help prevent the clay from settling into the faces of the molds.

Next I made these simple vintage assemblage bracelets:

"Pain, Protection, and Pride"
Repurposed thistle pin. Black rosary chain, 

"Was Always You"
Vintage brass stamping. Vintage pearls.

"Interior Truths of Faith"
Vintage copper finding. Handmade pearl chain, Vintage bar chain, Vintage charms, 

"Flight Of Prayer"
Vintage Pegasus stamping. Vintage chain.

Here's what I am photographing these bracelets on.

"Speak Softly"
Vintage brass religious medallion. Vintage pink doll button. Vintage chain.

"The Symbols Remain"
Vintage cross. Vintage beads. Vintage religious medallion.

Here's a better shot of the vintage chain I used for the cross bracelet.

"Aristaeus" (The Greek God Of Beekeeping)
Vintage chain. Vintage bee charm. Greek Flourish.

"Tears Of Ra"
Vintage Bee Charms. Vintage chain. Vintage flower charm.

Here's another view of the same bracelet. 

"By Candlelight"
Antique brass pattern sheet. Vintage shell charm. Vintage chain.

"The New Alchemy"
Vintage belt piece. Vintage earrings. Vintage chain.

Clasp view.

 I love making these multi-strand bracelets. It's the the perfect thing to do on a rainy afternoon. Like soapmaking, I find the process both addictive and meditative.

I have some experiments planned for next week. Wish me luck! Until then, leaving you with this quote:

"I am beginning to see that it is the sweet, simple things of life that are the real ones after all."
-Laura Ingalls Wilder 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Unintended Magic

Some weeks it seems like I accomplish more than others. Part of my problem is that I tend to define success by how many projects hit the workbench completed. Even if I started them months ago, completing 10 or more projects in a week feels like success. Of course it can't always be like that. Life gets in the way of my art. Sometimes fun happens too.

While it felt like I was working really hard this week, not that much hit the bench finished.

I started off my week doing one of my very favorite things on earth: hanging an art show! My friend Lisa Rhoades makes beautiful art nests and has a month-long solo show in the art bar at the Lincoln Theater in downtown Mount Vernon. She had some wonderful ideas for her display and needed a second set of hands to make her visions a reality. Here are her kitchen nests, hung from a wonderful tangle of chicken wire:

The Lincoln Theater was constructed in 1926, as a vaudeville and silent movie house. It has recently been completely remodeled. The space is really intimate and beautiful, with lots of little nooks and crannies to tuck away branches and small pieces of art. 

The lighting was wonderful, and her pieces left the most fabulous shadows on the walls.

When we were finished, we both became entranced by the shadows and started taking photos. The shadows themselves became a kind of installation artwork, a kind of unintended magic.

The next day I decided to make a little magic of my own, I love the way light looks when it hits glass. I made some pretty glass potpourri, 9 different kinds. 

 I have friends who work in glass, both stained glass and glass blowing. They give me some of their broken scraps, and I've been saving them for years, along with my own broken drinking glasses. I decided it was time to put them to good use. This combination is called "Tropical Fruit."

This one is called "Clear Blue Sky."

...and this one is called "Christmas Candy."

I made some sheer bags for them to go in, to keep the scents separated

I finished the necklace I posted last week. I decided it needed a little more color, so I added a ribbon that matched the bachelor button flowers inside.

I must have been in a heart-making mood. I finished these four necklaces too. The hearts are made from recycled aluminum roof flashing. I ran it through my Epic 6 to get the patterns. 

I continue to be obsessed with soap-making! A few weeks ago I made my own soap molds, using dish soap, water, and silicone caulk. The combination makes really rustic molds. This one has an elephant motif.

I used my DIY soap molds to make more rustic melt-and-pour soap bars. These have cinnamon and clay in the recipe, and smell like almond cookies! 

I also worked out the packaging for the rose eye gel serum...

and the packaging for my hot-process crockpot soaps.

Somehow, in the middle of all of this week, which felt so busy, I also spent an entire day at thrift stores, where I found, among other things, these great beads:

...and finally, saving the best for last, Mr. Bees and I went to a metal recycling place, where I found this 13 and a half pound roll of 26 gauge brass sheet! They said it had been there "forever." 

So that was my week! It felt busy, but I really only completed 8 projects. Next week is all about writing. The submission deadlines for both GreenCraft magazine and Willow & Sage are coming up in 6 days, so I need to get moving on the articles!

Until then... leaving you with this quote:

"I surrender the idea of having some kind of control over the arc of my career a lot of the time, because you never know what tomorrow is going to bring."
-Wentworth Miller