Thursday, September 30, 2010


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.


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
*perusing blogs and books
*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 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


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.


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.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Hanging out with Bob Burkett

Bob is amazing. Check out these tools he forged yesterday. They are made out of stainless steel rods that have been torched until molten, then manipulated with a hammer and vice grips. I tried the technique out and I felt really strong, like I should forge something every day.

This is a mouse head that my friend Laura made while also hanging out with Bob. He has that effect on most creative types. You can't be in the same room without picking up a tool and melting some wax. I thought she did a good job on her tiny little mouse charm.

My friend J'aime made this little cutie out of all the techniques she learned that day. I love how its head plume is also the bail. I made an octopus to match his sweet fish (I'm thinking of a charm bracelet) and Greg started a poison dart frog. Hopefully he'll finish it tonight so I can show pictures of it. Bob is a great teacher and I'm so happy he isn't stingy with the info, which is sadly the case with so many instructors. If your interested in taking a class on wax work from Bob, email us and we'll try and put a class together.
We've had a lot of company come through the last couple of weeks and I've enjoyed being around other artists. Its nice to share ideas and show off projects without having to explain why, or try to justify its purpose, since artists understand why one makes art in the first place. I find it completely relaxing to have a group of friends gathered around a table making things, music playing, good wine, tasty food.....what could be better? Of course, a beachfront view would improve the situation, but for now, I'm content with mountains filling my windows.