Monday, July 29, 2013

Moving Mountains

This weekend we moved 8 cubic yards of garden mulch (and when I say "we" I mean mostly Mark!  The load was delivered up on the street Saturday around noon and by 3 pm Sunday (before it started to rain) it was all down the hill and roughly where we wanted it!  It makes the garden look neater, and now the plants and pond stand out more.  We'll add more plants bit by bit.

 So how did he do this amazing feat of super-human achievement?  Our secret is currently hiding in the garage:
We bought this Polaris ATV about 5 years ago just for this kind of work and this weekend it really earned its keep!  We wouldn't have been able to move all that mulch (one wheelbarrow-full at a time!) without it.  Of course, I didn't want Mark to buy it, and now that we have it, I can see what a huge advantage it is on our backs!

So the garden is looking better and better!  Now all we need to do is move this pile of stones for the pathway!  Maybe next weekend...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Getting Back in the Groove

For some reason, I haven't been very motivated to create lately (or even blog regularly, for that matter!).  I don't know if it's my busy summer work (and home) schedule, the oppressive heat we've been having, or the sacro-iliac joint dysfunction I've been struggling with, but I just haven't had the impetus to get downstairs and make anything.  All I feel like doing after a busy day is strolling down to the garden for a few minutes and then relaxing with a good book!  But my schedule is gradually easing up a bit (I have one or two more busy weeks), so I'm finally beginning to think about new ideas for art quilts and auditioning some fabric combinations, above.  (Can you guess what's on my mind from the fabrics pictured?  I'm so predictable!)

Today I even had the day off work, so I made a detour to the craft store before my grocery run.  I wasn't really looking for anything specific, but all the strung beads were half price, and a few things caught my eye...

 Some of the upcoming round robin bracelet themes are "crystal bliss," "steampunk," and "amythyst and silver" so I kept that in mind as I shopped.  Those open rings in various metal finishes looked interesting and different.   I started thinking about the possible combinations of metals and beads that might go in the center.  I found several things that could work, and knew I had some things already at home as well.  After the groceries were all put away, I had a little time to play around.  Here are some of the combinations I came up with:

The one with the gunmetal ring and black crystal might work for the Steampunk theme and the other one for the amythyst and silver.  Then, just for fun, I tried the distressed brass finish with some emerald crystals.  I really like these!

Finally, I tried these copper rings with pressed glass leaves in the center.  I think these are my favorite, but the copper blends with my hair so much that they hardly show on me!  I may use them for charms instead of earrings.  One of them would look great on my "Mother Nature" themed bracelet!
So now all my new craft room furniture is covered with a mess of beads and fabric but at least I'm getting back in the groove!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Next Two Bracelets

Between gardening, work, and family summer fun, I've managed to squeeze in some charm making for the round robin bracelet charm swap.  It's been a fun project because it's not a huge investment in any way, most especially time, but it keeps the creative juices flowing.  Above is the bracelet I mailed out on July 1st, with a "By the Sea" theme.  I was surprised to see most of the charms already added were pale or pearly and without a lot of color.  I added the sliced shell with a little glass teardrop bead, the beach glass look bead, and the blue wavy disc in the background which says "breathe."  I'm technically only supposed to add one, but sometimes it's just too hard to make the decision!

Below is the charm for the next bracelet, which is mailed on August 1st.  The theme was "Mona Lisa Smile" and I had no idea what I might create for this!  The bracelet had lots of images of the Mona Lisa, some complete and some partial, and I felt it didn't need any more.  I opted for this painter's palette and mini paintbrush.  I'm happy with the way it all turned out.  The paintbrush was particularly tricky - I used a very narrow piece of copper tubing, some thin copper wire, and some embroidery floss. 

I decided to forge Da Vinci's signature on the back.  Pretty funny, right?

I also chose paint colors that might be found in the original painting and were prevalent in the other charms - deep, rich jewel tones.  Here is the whole bracelet below.  It's really looking great, don't you think?  I'm sure the owner of it will be really pleased when she gets it back in December.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Little Things

I've had these ATCs (artist trading cards) sitting at home in a drawer since 2005, so when I recently heard about an upcoming exhibit of tiny art, I decided to donate them.  A member of my FANE group,   Claire Oehler, lives in Old Forge, NY in the Adirondack mountains (she is the retired former owner of The Country Quilter fabric and quilt supply shop in Somers, NY).  She is active in a few art groups there, and let us know about an upcoming exhibit of "The Little Things" in a gallery called View.  Any media are accepted, three dimensional as well as two dimensional, so jewelry, basketry, stone, glass, and encaustics might be there amid drawings and paintings, but all entries are only 2.5" x 3.5 or fit into a 3"x3" box.

The exhibit is a fundraiser for the gallery and visitors to View can purchase votes for their favorite miniature for $1 beginning at the opening reception on July 27th and until the show closes on September 15th.  These purchased votes are chances for viewers to win their favorite pieces.

I really enjoyed creating these little pieces - it was fun to experiment and play with materials and perspective in such a small space.  I don't currently have plans to get up there at all, but it would be fun to see all the tiny works of art that others have made.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pond Progress

I usually trek down to the lower yard and our new garden a couple of times a day with Cassie, and all week I've carried a few pieces of shale with me to place around the pond edge.  It's really starting to look like it sprung up there naturally!  On Monday after work, I splurged on the beautiful water lily you now see growing in the center.  It has lovely salmon-colored flowers and really completes the whole garden pond look.  I just love it!  It's winter hardy, and according to the guy at the garden center, it can spend the winter right there and will start growing again as the weather warms up.  Let's hope he's right!  The spilling pot with the lobelia in the far corner of the shot is not doing so great, but I hope it makes a comeback.  It didn't get watered while we were away last week and I think slugs took advantage of its weakened state.  We've had painfully hot humid weather and it's not the best time to be planting things, but the potted ones can't wait.  I can only plant a few at a time before the mosquitos start driving me crazy!  I've been trying to decide if I want to get fish to eat the mosquito larvae in the pond or use some kind of aquatic insecticide.  The garden-center guy said you can't use the chemical with water lilies in the pond, so I guess our next addition will be a few goldfish!  Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cassie's Vacation

Unfortunately, Cassie doesn't get to go on most vacations with us, but when we stay at our family's vacation home in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, she always tags along.  This year we only stayed a few nights, and the first two were very wet, so we spent a lot of time meandering through the woods looking at the scenery.  Cassie always wanted to wander way up along this ridge behind the house but I was a little leery of bears, so we didn't wander too far.  We did see bears one evening, a mother with three cubs, but we watched them from the safety of the house (and unfortunately, weren't quick or close enough to snap any photos!).

Mostly, we enjoyed the little vignettes we saw along the way, like this little fairy house at the base of a tree trunk, below...

... this little toadstool growing next to a moss-covered rock,...

... and this lovely landscape of ferns and lichens growing on top of a large boulder.

We also both enjoyed relaxing on the screened-in porch, reading, napping, or just watching the scenery.  On rainy mornings, the girls slept in, but we did manage to have a few nice afternoons at the community's pool and beach, while Cassie kept cool here.

There's an abundance of flat pieces of shale in the area, and I couldn't resist collecting some along the way.  These rocks will make great edging for my pond back at home!  Now that I've had a few days of R&R, I can't wait to get back to work on it!