I STARTED Early--Took my Dog--And visited the Sea--
The Mermaids in the Basement Came out to look at me
--Emily Dickinson

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Washington Wildflowers (Bee Challenge)

I totally LOVE this bracelet.  This week's challenge was Bees.  That was a bit of a stumper at first.  Then I was mulling around some ideas (and had to discard most of them--where in the world do you find bee beads?!).  But last week's challenge gave me a clue--I'd found a website that had a whole list of wildflowers native to the State of Washington.  I started thinking about how I could incorporate them into my flower rings.  And Eureka!  I got the idea for this bracelet.

First, I made the Spotted Saxifrage (isn't this just the neatest flower--I had no idea such a blossom existed):

Then I followed up with the lovely Nootka Rose:

 Then on to the Showy Phlox:

And finally, the Copperbush:

I also made a Blue Anemone, but it broke when I strung it.  It turned out all right, though, because the bracelet would have been too long with it:

And, of course, the bee:

Forest Floor - Part 3

So I cut up my cane a bit and recombined it, then wrapped it around a pencil to bake and cut the result into pieces.  I strung it on the yarn and it came out like this:

I added a few items for embellishment.  Salmonberries:

And a snail, some fungus, and a couple of flowers.  I wrapped some headpins around my exacto knife a couple of times to shape them and attached the embellishments and slid them through the yarn.  It seems to hold well.  Anyway, here is the finished piece:

*sigh*  I don't like it....

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Forest Floor - Part 2

I found this photo while googling and it captured the feeling I wanted for my challenge piece.  It looks like it was taken by ephenA (I'm not sure of blog protocol, but I wanted to be sure the actual photographer got credit).

I think I did pretty well at matching the yarn to the photo and the clay mixes to the yarn.  I'm pretty happy with it, anyway.  Next step, smashed ikat...

...and the final cane:

Phew!  I'm beat--on to the beads tomorrow....

Forest Floor - Part 1

*sigh*  This weeks Inspired by Nature challenge is Forest Floor.  Maybe it was the picture accompanying the challenge post...mushrooms!  *shudder* Vile, awful things they are!  I'm afraid I wasn't feeling the inspiration.  Maybe that's why I have an hour-long, one-way commute--it gives me time to think.  Or rather, not think.  I just kind of zone out and my creative side jumps out and gives me idea after idea.  Kind of hard to write down when you're driving, though.

So. I grew up on Port Susan Bay.  As a child, my life sort of revolved around the water.  The tide going in and out; playing out on the mud flats; swimming in the bay; beachcombing; logwalking.  How I loved the beach!  But wait a minute--how could I have forgotten the woods?  My siblings, cousins, and I played in the woods behind our house almost as much as we went down to the beach.  As I was driving home and thinking about it, the memories came so thick and fast that my eyes welled up.  And inspiration came.  Now if I could only find the materials I needed....

I went to Michaels looking for yarn.  The kind of yarn that was sort of fringey--I didn't know the name, but I would know the yarn when I saw it.  Sadly, no luck.  Fortunately, JoAnn's was nearby.  I found this wonderful yarn:

  It's called "Angel Hair Stripes."  It wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but if you could touch it, you'd know why I had to have it.  It was so VERY soft!  Anyway, maybe what I was really looking for would go with it.  *sigh* Nope.  I found the type of yarn I was looking for--eyelash yarn, but the color was all wrong--a cool, sagey-type green.  It wouldn't go with this lovely, warm-toned, delightfully soft, angel hair.  I went to the yarn store in Stanwood to see if I could find eyelash yarn in the right shade.  Well, no.  But I did find a couple of things that  might work:

Anyway, then I had to figure out what exactly I was going to do.  I spent most of today mixing colors of clay and trying to learn how to do a chain stitch.  UNfortunately, trying to crochet made me crochety.  Time for plan B....

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Butterfly Keeper

Remember when I was talking about smashed ikat a couple of posts ago?  Here's some more of the canes I made: 

I have short, fat fingers so  most rings do not look good on my hands.  But I got this wonderful ring from Taen at Clay Camp...

It really looks good on my hand and it gave me inspiration to create more rings. 

Here's the first ring I made.:
I used some of that ikat and I just love it (it looks good on my hand, too)

I've become a little obsessed I'm afraid....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I think that I shall never see...

...A poem lovely as a tree.   
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest   
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;   
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;   
A tree that may in summer wear   
A nest of robins in her hair;   
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;   
Who intimately lives with rain. 
Poems are made by fools like me,   
But only God can make a tree.
-- Trees by Joyce Kilmer
So Heather Powers challenge this week is Trees.
I've actually wanted to make this ring for several weeks now,
but this challenge inspired me to move it to the top of my list 
of wild and crazy ideas.

This is the second challenge of Heather Powers that I've entered
and I'm thinking that perhaps my creations may not exactly fit
with her "inspiration from nature" themes.  I've thought a fair 
amount about this while I was preparing my entry.  Now, I totally
love nature--my favorite place to be in the whole world is at the
ocean on the Washington coast.  A place closer to heaven, I have
a difficult time imagining.
Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that my appreciation of nature
is heightened by its interaction with people.  Animals live in 
nature, but they don't have the ability to step outside of it and
admire it or be moved by its beauty.  It takes people to be in
awe, or fear, or overflowing joy due to nature.  So my pieces have 
a blend or interaction of man and nature.
No matter how much mankind tries to subdue nature, nature will not
be bound.  But if mankind did not exist, who would care about
nature?  Who would labor to protect it?  I suppose man can be 
nature's worst enemy, yet also nature's best friend.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Natasha Beads

I've been playing with polymer clay for, oh about 15 years or so.  Fairly early on, I learned about Natasha beads.

These are also known as Magic Beads, Rorschach Beads, Kaleidoscope Beads, Inside Out Beads, and probably a host of other names I have yet to hear of.  But I've always known them as Natasha Beads.  

I am extremely blessed to be a member of the Northwest Polymer Clay Guild (home of Ravensdale--lucky, lucky me!).  Many moons ago, Natasha Flechsig was also a member of NWPCG and she came up with this wonderful way to make beads of beauty using scrap clay.  

I've made a billion of these things over the years (slight exaggeration), but very rarely actually did anything with them.  Lately, I've become more inspired by them and I've fallen in love with several that I've made.  What do you think?  Time to string them, I'm thinking....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Smashed Ikat Bracelet

I love Clay Camp!  Normally I'm working on quilt canes for my Christmas Ornaments, but Clay Camp gives me an opportunity to work on stuff I don't usually get to.  I got to demo Donna Kato's "smashed ikat" cane (I know, I know--it's "crushed ikat."  I've always known it as "smashed ikat"...that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!).  Anyway, I wound up with a bunch of ikat canes and was trying to think of things to do with them.  I had some canes that looked pretty much alike, but were different colors.  One of my favorite things to do is manipulate cane slices...so I did!  And I came up with the beads in this bracelet.  I drilled two holes in each one and added some beautiful beads and voila--a nice ikat bracelet!

I like it quite a lot....

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Three Swans in a Fountain

I thought long and hard about what to post first.  Unfortunately, my camera broke, my computer broke, my...anyway, thanks to the generosity of my daughter, I can finally get some pictures uploaded and generate some posts for my blog--even though they aren't quite the ones I wanted to do first.

Heather Powers has a Feather Challenge going on this week.  I've been making these totally impractical, wildly implausible rings and just had to come up with something.  Ta da!  Three Swans in a Fountain!

Closer view:

The swans rotate...I haven't quite figured out how to post that yet.  Since I'm such a newbie, I've been wrestling with this post for the better part of an hour.  Maybe I'll do better tomorrow....

Blessings, everyone!

First Post!

I blame JuLee!