Sunday, December 26, 2010

winter activities


Our side of the mountain is completely blanketed in bright, fluffly snow. It's unusual to see this much snow, we get a couple inches that stick around for a day or two, then its back to mild cold. This business is weird. Everything seems so still and oddly quiet, the snow crunching underfoot seems thunderous.

I love her hat from Ugly Dolls! I think it suits her perfectly. We picked it up a few weeks ago in Columbus, OH at the plush art show held at Rivet.

Suni loves the snow! She bounds through it, leaping and jumping and burrowing, enjoying every second of it. I, however, can only stand a few minutes of being cold, since my joints stiffen rather uncomfortably.

We love cooking all the time, but there's something about the cold that lends itself to really rich food. Greg made this Bacon Jam from the recent issue of Food Everyday (packed with fast and easy recipes-we love it) and served it with buttery crostinis. Its garlicky, tasting first of sweet carmelized onions, then finishing with a savory crunch of bacon- its rich and delicious. We also tried the Bacon Wrapped Mini Potatoes and they were excellent.
My husband is obsessed with duck. If its on the menu, he's ordering it. Doesn't matter if its crispy, confit or folded into a crepe. So he embarked on a quest to master the perfectly cooked duck. Pictured above is roasted duck with roasted brussel sprouts and mashed sweet potatoes. It turned out tasty. I have to say I am loving his obsession with cooking lately!

Azalea loves to wear Max's puppy costume. She wears it everyday and Max adores her as a dog! He follows her around laughing, petting her head and hugging her. Of course, he's an animal lover and is completely bewitched by Suni and our cat Paddy. He's so sweet it breaks my heart a little.

little dancer


Azalea is currently into ballet and just had her first recital. She was really excited about dancing on stage and wearing her outfit. It was a little strange seeing her so serious and dainty, since most of the time she's rather ferocious. Here's my wobbly video of the last part of it. I thought she looked lovely.

video

Friday, December 17, 2010

school picture


Isn't my girl sweet! She picked this outfit (its a little dress with sheer black layers, like a tutu) and sparkly flats. I think she has a flair for fashion. I can't believe how much older she looks. Sometimes I'll look at her in amazement, how did she get so big? Wasn't she just a baby? Then I recall that I'm a mom. Weird. I still feel like a girl myself.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

busy gal


Here are some of my samples for the taping on Beads, Baubles and Jewels. My segment is on clasps as focal pieces, which is good, since its one of my favorite themes. I really like a necklace that looks good any way it happens to turn on your neck, whether the clasp is in front or back. The necklace with the koi pond clasp is composed of tourmalines and iolites, with rose gold 'sequin' spacers. The bird clasp features large simple cut sunstones (that I've been hoarding for like five years) and some faceted ruby, sunstone and opal rondelles. I particularly like how the clasp looks resting on the back of your neck, a little bit secret. The loose clasps are just a selection of pieces that particularly work well for the theme.

I'd love to say that I work constantly, finishing projects like a bull dozer of creative energy. Mostly, I'm plugged into some sort of device, one eye on Max, the other on my Nook Color, my lap top or sketchbook. I just got the new Nook Color and I love it! The screen is better than I imagined it would be and I like being able to find any book I happen to be thinking of, read a sample and then buy it or not. You can check your email, look at blogs, read magazines and play games. Lately, I've been reading Pride and Prejudice and Food Everyday (there is a recipe for bacon jam that I will be trying shortly!). Its a nice thing to have when waiting at the post office or if you have a few minutes and you don't want to bust out your headphones and ipod (which is one of my most favorite things next to my dolls!).

video

The majority of my day consists of chasing this boy down, who is practically running! He loves that panda so much. If you look next to the stairwell, you can see something that just arrived that I am very happy about. It will begin my next stage of doll making and possibly some other small items (my kiln!).

Monday, November 15, 2010

keeping calm


A few months ago, I agreed to do a spot on a show called 'Beads, Baubles and Jewels', thinking it would be good publicity for my book 'Enchanted Adornments'. It is a good idea. It just so happens that I'm a little camera shy, or maybe its just that I don't like how I look or sound on video. Taping takes place Dec. 10 and I'm so nervous. I've been making samples and sketches and shopping online for the perfect outfit, hoping all the planning will settle my nerves. It does, a little, but sometimes doing something fun and noodly is the best way to calm jitters. So I started cutting out paper dolls I ordered from Dover books for Azalea. We picked out several styles, from Victorian to Elizabethan (all the most challenging ones to cut out!) now we just need to build a little paper house for them.

Here's a finished piece showcasing my new octopus pendant. It's so dainty and sparkly! I used faceted labradorites in several cuts, tiny rainbow sapphires, smooth teardrop spinels and the smallest Swarovski crystals I've ever seen. These pieces were nice diversions, but now its time to get back to work!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

contentment


Hi! Here's a picture Azalea took of Max and I while we were sitting on the porch practicing with the camera. I think she's a natural, but then I'm her mom, so I think she's great at everything. Its interesting to look at the photos she takes, most of them are odd; focusing on tiny details, or random shots of the sky. Sometimes, she catches really lovely moments, like this one. I believe I was daydreaming about a maple and smoked sea salt liquid truffle from The Chocolate Lounge. Or I was wishing, once more, that I could slow time and sit in the late afternoon, cuddling Max and watching Azalea dance around telling stories.

I took this picture a couple days ago, when it was about 70 and a tad breezy. Its 40 out we've got a fire in the hearth, Max is playing with wooden food and Greg is baking his amazing banana, walnut and coconut bread with Azalea. Its the very picture of family contentment. I think the only thing missing is Andrew, attempting to concoct the perfect hot chocolate to go with the banana bread!

Friday, November 05, 2010

winner!


Hi! This is a picture I took while teaching Azalea how to use the camera. She posed them so that the one in front is proclaiming the winner of this weeks giveaway. And the winner of four GGS beads is.......Sharon P! Drop me an email with your info to claim your prize!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

handcrafted jewelry


Have you seen the new issue of Handcrafted Jewelry? I love this magazine! Its great for learning new techniques for a variety of materials; like resin, metals and fiber, to name a few. It also contains two of my projects (yay!) that feature techniques I use in my book, Enchanted Adornments.

I've been wearing this necklace constantly. As soon as I opened the box, this piece went on. It's hard to see from the picture, but there are lots of interesting items contained in that little glass capsule. I collected tiny crystals, bits of vellum with miniscule ink drawings and a single stripey moon shell.

When I worked on making the polymer bezel pendant for this necklace, I found it was easier to make them in batches of a dozen or so. It's pretty addictive- blending colors and brushing on finishing powders to the raw clay. Since its kind of a hassle to pour resin, I like to get a bunch of pieces together so I can finish them at once. Anyway, this project is easy and fun, perfect when you have a few friends over for craft night.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

halloween!


Here's a sweet puppy, worn out after a busy day of birthday fun and trick or treating! Can you believe it's already been one year? Wasn't it only a few weeks ago when I was bursting with this little sugarpuff? We couldn't wait to meet him.

Ready for candy! My girl dressed as a Kung Fu Princess, protector of her Uncle Steve, baby puppy and Aunt Sheila. Azalea loves this holiday, since it involves dress up and sweets, two of her all time favorite things.

Me and Greg, enjoying a quiet evening with our little family on our 6th year anniversary. Greg thought this was too unflattering to post, since he is in dire need of a haircut and I'm make up free, but I liked it.

Everytime I leave the house, I'm surprised by all the brilliant color. The trees are perfect examples of scintillation, colors so bright, they vibrate. I grew up in Florida, where its always hot and green and humid.
I've received so many great ideas for the contest and can't wait to get started! We're working on the details and will post them next week. The drawing for the giveaway will be this Friday. To enter, just leave a comment with a suggestion for the contest.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Max's first job


Some months ago, I got a call from a friend that works at Lark Books, asking if Max would be available to model some clothes for an up coming book called 'Sew Tina'. We drove downtown to their headquarters and proceeded to try on various outfits. The photo above features a really cute Moses basket to carry little infants in. I might make one of these to tote dolls around!

Isn't he sweet wearing this cute little girl outfit? I think he was about a month old in this picture and very accommodating to all the folks surrounding him, adjusting and fussing.
Here's a pic of the book, 'Sew Tina' that just arrived. I just flipped through it, looking for Max, so I'm not going to do a thorough review at the moment. I noticed the projects were interesting and relatively simple for a novice seamstress. There's also a pocket with a bunch of patterns tucked into it, along with some in the back of the book. It also has a few projects for boys, along with a cool fabric book for babies. That one seems the most fun and least time consuming project. Max might get one for his birthday! The other nice thing is that the projects range in age, so its not all baby stuff. Azalea asked me to make her the quilted coat, which would definitly suit her!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

giveaway!


Hi! This post is arriving a bit late....but only because we've been so busy enjoying the season, by attending festivals and staring at all the gorgeous leaves! So, this time I'd like your thoughts on an idea for a bi-monthly competition using GGS goods or projects from our book, Enchanted Adornments. Several folks have sent photos of jewelry they've made using techniques from the book and of pieces made with our beads. Its always exciting to see how creative people can be! To enter this giveaway, leave a comment in this post - if its something you'd participate in, or ideas you might have about how we should go about it. Thanks for your input!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

winner!

Hi! Sorry this is getting posted a day late, I went around all day yesterday thinking it was Thursday! I only realized it was Friday when Project Runway wasn't on! Alright, the name drawn from the basket is..........Tesori Travati! Email me with your info and I'll send your prize. Well, I think its a toss up between a doll, painting or necklace with a ooak bezel. I guess I better get started sketching! Thanks for your input!

Friday, October 22, 2010

blue skies


Lately, my brother Andrew and his illness have been on my mind. It got me thinking about what we've learned from each other and how we've managed to become close after so many years of being strangers. It's a true story-before Azalea was born, we didn't really know each other and would hear about the others activities through our parents. Now, here we are, me texting him funny pics or asking his advice about what to do about an aggravating situation. He has such a wide streak of optimism, of finding good in the most bleak of circumstances.
I've been sad a lot lately... it seems the world is full anger and ugliness and sometimes I wish I could isolate my favorite things on a far away island. It's easy to burrow down and wait for things to get better, but the problem with that is, there is always something to darken blue skies. I'm feeling fortunate and grateful- Andrew is better and seems to have angels looking out for him. I want to take a moment to thank everyone that has helped him, with the auctions and donations. It means so much to our family.

autumn outing


Can you believe Azalea took this picture? I think she has an eye for design. We went to the park to enjoy the weather and take some pictures of our dolls (I know, weird hobby, but I have so many, this one just ties together painting, sewing and other odd skills).

Here's Max 'helping' to set up the shot. We were going with a Halloween theme, so we dressed the girls in their most goth outfits and started shooting.

The final shot of our Fairyland Dolls. I thought they looked like they were waiting for someone to arrive. It felt nice to go out and be silly. It makes me happy that Azalea is so into this with me (for now!) and loves to craft. Greg is easily embarrassed, so he doesn't enjoy going out in public and taking pictures of dolls. I can't imagine why! Azalea and I will bust them out anywhere (unless we think people will touch them, then we won't) since we put so much effort in painting, wigging, costuming and jewelry. Anyway, Greg is in Minneapolis right now, setting up the show for Saturday and Sunday, so if your in the area, stop by and say 'hi!' he will have signed copies of our book Enchanted Adornments and also some texture tools for sale. If you're interested in the hollow glass bead capsules featured in the project 'Time and Memory' take a look at our latest selection.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall giveaway!


Okay, here's the prize for this week's giveaway. One 'love never dies' heart pendant/link, a bronze bee coin, a cute dragon bead and a botanical link. To enter for this prize, suggest something I could make to auction off to help Andrew with his hospital bills. I saw that Paula Best has made an art piece and is auctioning it on ebay and I thought I'd do the same. Leave the suggestions (like a painting, a necklace, a one of a kind bezel, etc.) in the comments section to enter this giveaway. Thanks for playing!

Friday, October 15, 2010

winner!

Hi! The winner for the third October giveaway is.......Taralinda! Drop me an email with your address to claim your prize. Thanks everyone, for your input! Greg has already started using some of the great suggestions (like more categories so finding a particular thing is easier) and we are currently building the area for the customer gallery. So, if you have a piece you'd like to see in that section, send us some pics. I'm working on the background still and we will be uploading the info as it is finished. Anyway, thanks again, for helping us improve!

Monday, October 11, 2010

fall festivities


Hello! It is so beautiful here in the mountains of Asheville! Fall is the best season to see this town. It seems like the leaves linger in vibrant color longer than anyplace else. We started our month long festivities with a picnic in the park, followed by evening walks through our downtown (to get liquid truffles at The Chocolate Lounge!). I took Azalea and Max to a fall festival held at the local nature center and they had fun mining rocks, petting donkeys, goats and rabbits. I've had fun making this month special for our little ones and it would be nice to try and make every month special, since every day is a blessing.

October giveaway 3


Hello! Time for the next giveaway! This weeks prize is a bronze bee pendant, a faery realm pendant (with 'come away oh human child to the waters and the wild' on the back), a rose blossom bead and a 'sweet honey' bee pendant. To enter, leave a comment about what you'd like to see happen with our website: improvements, customer galleries, more links, sample pieces, meaning of beads, etc. Greg and I have been talking about freshening up the site for awhile now, and have started taking new pictures with a ruler under each bead and I've been working on the text, where the symbols came from, their meanings or how the piece came about. Its slow going since there are so many pieces, but it shouldn't take much longer. We ask this question to find out what folks are most interested in seeing change on the site. We'd really appreaciate the input! I'll draw a random winner from the comments section on Friday, around noon. Thanks!

Friday, October 08, 2010

winner!

Ok! This weeks winner is.....Kiki! Yay! Send me an email with your info to claim your prize. That was fun to see what folks picked. My list is always changing, but I tend to love the weirder ones most, like the baby bird girl , tiny head dangle and baby owl drop. They are simpler designs, which are the hardest for me to make. I tend to love detail and its so hard to stop noodling and carving every little bit, barely leaving a place to sprue. Anyway, thanks for playing!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

fresh new work


I love Azalea's new batch of shrink plastic pendants! She's covered a whole menagerie of creatures, plants, potions and witches. I think she's inspired by Halloween. I'm not going to show my pieces- they seemed so overwrought and contrived next to her spontaneous little explosions of cute. I have a hard time not planning a thing till its exactly what I'm imagining. So I think it was a good creative exercise for me. It was fun watching her make these, she'd say 'what do you want to be?' then I'd say 'an owl!' or 'a monster!'. Most of the time I'd ask her to surprise me. The best part is watching her stare in amazement as I'd shrink them with a heat gun. Little things make me happy!
*On another note, don't forget the drawing for the giveaway is on Friday and that we're celebrating our favorite month with a surprise bead in every order!

Monday, October 04, 2010

the fun begins!


After a lot of hemming and hawing about what to do and what to make, I finally just went upstairs, opened all the windows, burned some incence (a good suggestion, thank you Lisa G), then gazed at my collection of beads. Which is vast. Even for a collector. So, I took my time, which was refreshingly different, especially since I never get to do that (Greg offered to watch Max). Within that brief interlude, I picked out a handful of beads and started working. I was drawn to a monochromatic pallette of tigers eye (talisman associates), light smoked topaz swarovski crystals (from fusion beads) a flower toggle and a bronze luna moth fairy from our collection. I thought the liver of sulphur patina color was perfect for fall and the delicate wire work put me in mind of vintage necklaces I'd seen at an antique show. I was pleased to have something new to wear to the doll show I attended the next day.

Lucky me, I got to attend a doll show in Winston-Salem on Saturday! I was very excited, especially since I got to take a wig making workshop with reknowned doll artist Diane Keeler. I had the best time learning new techniques, meeting new people and best of all, knowing I could make all the wigs I could dream up. Of course, styling them may be an issue, as I am pretty unskilled with my own hair. Ah well, these things take time. I thought my first attempt came out pretty nice, a tad large, as I was bit over enthusiastic with applying the mohair! This past weekend's excursions proved extremely useful in helping me shake the slump that's hounded me. Ok, back to the studio! ;)

October giveaway 2


Hello! Here's the prize for this week's October giveaway: 1 bronze bee coin, 1 'kitty comfort' pebble, 1 'love never dies' heart pendant/link and one of Greg's super dang cute hugging dragons. Just leave a comment naming your favorite Green Girl piece and we'll draw a winner on Friday, around noon. Thanks for playing!

Friday, October 01, 2010

winner!

Hello! I just finished drawing a name out the basket and today's winner is......Sabine! Thanks for your input! This little game was pretty exciting and also an interesting way to get some fun ideas for a celebration. I'm thinking since I received so many good ideas, it'll just be a month long good time. It already seems so festive! Thanks everyone, for playing along. The next giveaway post will be on Sunday.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

prize


Ok! Here's the prize for the 'forest' post. I'll draw a random winner from the comments section, tomorrow at noon. We've decided to do a drawing for a pack of beads every week for the month of October. Plus, in celebration of our 6th anniversary, we'll throw in a surprise free bead for all retail orders! It's our way of saying thank you for all the support throughout the thirteen years we've been in business.

flattened

There are days when I feel compressed, almost a paper doll of myself. This past week has left me in such a dark state. I attribute it to the weather- gloomy, slightly cold. Or to the troubles I'm unwilling and in some cases, unable to share. My studio has a ghostly, strange quality to it, familiar yet alien. I haven't worked up there for months, using instead my little traveling case to set up quick areas on the table that can be put away in a few minutes ( its under the table more often then not). I'm self-aware enough to realize the signs of a slump: lack of energy, t.v. on all the time, work comes slowly and most unfortunately- quick tempered. I have a list of things that can usually fire my creative spark:
*audio books, I listen to two or three a week (right now I'm revisiting Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein)
*drawing in my sketchbook
*walking
*perusing blogs and books
*shopping
*working with other artists
*experimenting with new materials
My list isn't working today for various reasons, so Azalea and I are busting out the shrink plastic. Maybe the fun of watching drawings magically miniaturize will kick start my brain. I'm curious what other folks do when inspiration slows to a crawl.

Monday, September 27, 2010

quick note

Hello! Just a quick note that I'll be drawing a winner for my giveaway on Friday, October 1 at noon. To enter, add a comment on my 'forest' post about ways to celebrate our favorite month (since it'll be our 6th aniversary and Max's first birthday!). I'll be carving masters for our spring line and would love to hear suggestions for new pieces, so feel free to comment on that topic to enter. I'm gathering up the prize and it looks pretty good....so let's hear those thoughts!

i can tell that we are going to be friends


Look how pleased Azalea is with her new pinafore from Grandma O (thanks Anne!). It's reversible, with a lovely lattern pattern on the other side as well, except the the background is a deep turquoise. These two get along better than ice cream and cake, something I hope continues forever.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

forests


October is one of my favorite months, second only to November, my birth month (and Thanksgiving!). The light seems cleaner, less heavy, allowing one to see far. We meandered through the Arboretum yesterday, admiring the fiery jewel weed and the pale lavender asters, looking for fairy dwellings. Azalea found several, one surrounded by a ring of scarlet-topped fly agaric. We heard the twitterings of winged creatures, but only spotted one lonely blue swallowtail that followed us along the path.

Azalea is always in charge of any maps or guides. She loved identifying the flowers and plants we found along the way. Later, we stopped to rest by the river and brought out our sketchbooks and drawing supplies to take advantage of the beautiful light. There is something magical about late afternoon walks.

Dress up is not uncommon at this house. Our box of costume pieces is rather large and it doesn't take much convincing for me to make yet another piece to add to the horde (what's that? you need a pair of wings? coming right up!)

Speaking of dress up, look at Max sporting this awesome fuzzy bug mask! He doesn't mind. My little Halloween baby is so good. I just picked up a really sweet costume for him, a fluffy puppy suit, with a cute little tail. I can't wait to dress him up! On another note, we're getting ready to celebrate the month of October, since its our 6th year wedding anniversary and Max's first birthday! We are trying to decide what special thing to do, so if you have any suggestions, leave me a comment. I'll draw some winners and send a prize! Mention it on your blog/facebook/etc. and double your chances!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

the warmest days


'Are you not entertained?' roars Max. We are, of course. It's still hot here in Asheville, but pleasantly so, especially on the porch. Lately, every time we take a break from work, we head over our charming downtown to walk around and see all the new stores and cute little street food shops (like one that sells pomme frites and another with Indian street food).

Azalea is so funny, she always designates herself as the 'mama' of all the dolls, no matter who they belong to. Here, she is modeling some of her favorites (the bottom row are from Fairyland Dolls and the ones close to her cheek are from Ellowyne Wilde).

When our good friend Jessica was here, we visited the Mountain State Fair and had lots of fun. Azalea won herself a tiger in a fishing game and rode all manner of rides, while I managed to get sunburned. Serves me right for standing around eating fried green tomatoes and not wearing a hat.

Max slept almost the whole time in his stroller, only waking up to watch Azalea ride on a scary pirate ship (her head buried in her arms the whole time). Luckily, I didn't stop at every food vendor and make myself sick, which happens occasionally. Can I help that I love fair food? Funnel cakes, cotton candy, caramel apples, dip n' dots ice cream, hot dogs, deep fried twinkies and other happy items on a stick make me feel dreamy, my chest on fire with heart burn. I wonder if I'm learning, or if the heat made everything less apetizing? Or maybe the fair food just isn't as awesome as it is at the Ohio State Fair. I guess I'll just have to wait and compare.

metalwork


Hello! This is a new pendant I finished last week, utilizing my newly acquired stone setting skills I learned ffrom Bob Burkett. This piece is small enough to fit within a quarter, with tiny 2.5 mm garnet cabachons for eyes and is cast in shibuichi (a copper/silver alloy). He will look so cute on a nice bit of chain, with sparkly sapphires dangling from his tentacles!

The top of a 'sampler' bangle featuring different ways to set stones. You can see 'bright' (when the stone is flush with the metal) , 'prong' (when the stone is captured by little fingers of metal)and 'bead' (when the stone is mounted by small balls ).


Variations of bead and prong settings. This was cast in silver, with a variety of colored crystals. The finish shown is brushed with a liver of sulphur patina.


These are some of my favorite creatures made by Bob! Aren't they sweet? So tiny, only about a half inch tall. They put me in mind of luck amulets (remember the craze in the eighties? small sculptures that had places to rub for luck). Of course I was into that business when I was a child! I had loads of 'lucky charms' weighing down my pockets. Actually, I still do. I don't like change, I guess.


Here's another piece Bob made, featuring the koi fish he loves so much. This pendant was cast in shibuichi with a little cz in the fishes mouths. I thought this would look fantastic with turquoise.


Bob showed us how to forge metal and made loads of tools and little tiny swords. These fancy hairpins are the newest addition to his obsession with forging metal. I'm planning to make chairs for my dolls, all twisty and ornate, with cast animal finials. Its surprisingly fun to do and not as tedious as I imagined.


Well, the house seems awful quiet with all my company gone. There is always an exciting buzz in the air with a houseful of artists staying up all night, working on projects, sharing techniques and making delightful food. We definitely love to eat around here and its a lot of fun coming up with new things to try (Greg is fond of making bacon brownies and his new cocktail made with fresh squeezed watermelon juice). Oh well. I suppose its good to alternate ones focus from time to time. I spent a lot of energy learning new things and refining my skills as a wax carver. It'll be nice to spend some time organizing my house and studio, something I like to do at the change of each season. I'll get back to work on my doll and continue my research in porcelain, which includes rearranging our downstairs workshop to accomodate all the new equipment. I always love the feel of a newly organized room! Especially when its a workshop.