Gift #1154: Orchid Fever

My mood can best be summed up with the following quote:  “Now is the winter of our discontent.’  About the second week in February I start to lose it – I’ve had enough of winter and I can feel my sanity starting to fray and shred around the edges.  As Feb progresses, it just gets worse (February is one of the hardest months for me).  Come March 1st, I demand fair skies, sunny weather, warmer temperatures, and I literally expect green growing things to magically emerge from the ground as I watch.  Every year I’m sorely disappointed because there’s a great lack of green in the outdoors.  Sigh.  And so the deterioration of “winter madness” continues.  Fortunately, the art museum comes to my rescue when I think I can’t take one more minute of winter.  In February they host an orchid show, which is utterly dazzling and enchanting and makes one almost completely forget there’s winter going on.  These jeweled beauties are so refreshing in their bright color, green foliage, and exotic shapes!

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It’s only been a few years since I started adoring orchids.  I shall explain our budding relationship as follows:  most of my adult life was spent disliking orchids as upstart, showy things with no sense of propriety.  I grudgingly start attending the orchid shows in winter because of desperation to see something green and blooming.  I slowly come to admire a few of them that look like natural wildflowers.  Then Bam!  two winters ago, it happened and I was shocked to find I really liked them just for who they were.  I asked for books on orchids for my birthday and spent several months that year reading everything I could get my hands on about the bewitching orchids.  I became obsessed and started dreaming of having one of my own to love (or a whole greenhouse full).  Last spring I moved locations at work to a new building where I sat close to the windows – as a moving present I decided to purchase an orchid.  I bought a lovely white phalaenopsis (moth orchid) and proceeded to nurture and watch over it with all the dedication of a new parent.  I took pictures of her frequently and emailed/texted them to trusted family members who wouldn’t think I’d developed a mental instability about orchids.  I’ve worried over her (and believe me, orchids can give you plenty to worry about) and tried to make her as happy as I could (our communication is limited because unfortunately orchids are nonverbal). And I tell her “I love you” every day.  I think she knows this because she’s bloomed out fully twice and even today, with her current set of blooms fading, I saw that she’s already got buds going.

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So that’s where I’ve come from in a matter of a few years:  complete indifference to orchids to now hovering around them as obsessed as if I were a pollinator of them myself.  Given my current mindset, I was giddy about the orchid exhibit and couldn’t wait for it to come.  Here’s the stats on what I experienced.

  • 4 visits over 3 weekends
  • 1 special tour
  • 1 lecture
  • 434 pictures
  • 3 talks with the head orchid gardener
  • 8 orchids added to my collection
  • 1 bag of sphagnum moss gifted to me
  • countless hours of joy in the company of orchids

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One of the interesting things I’ve learned about orchids is that they can be found in every single color except black.  They are one of the very few plants that can naturally produce a true blue bloom.  One of the exhibit rooms in the greenhouse had a lovely display of orchids grouped by color.  I’ve tried to mimic that in the collage pictures of this post.  The orchids range from dark purple to true pink, to a yellow/pink mix of hues pictured above.  The bottom right is a lycaste orchid, which I first saw last year and I love it because such a delicate pink.

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Then they merge into all yellow orchids.  Just like liquid sunshine.  The upper right ladyslippers were some of my favorites in this show.  They had long twisted petals of a pinkish hue that drooped down from the main flower like a mustache.   I photographed them an embarrassing number of times.

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Some of the most fascinating orchids are those with green blooms.  My opinion was only further reinforced by seeing so many green ladyslippers.  These are my very favorite orchids, and yes, it is because almost all of these are forest/woodland flowers.  The ones on the top left are a variety called “Bulldog” because they have been bred for extra broad petals.  The ones on the top right make my heart all a flutter because I have a weakness for the striped varieties.  This one with the white and green was especially striking.  The ladyslipper on the bottom left also is white and green but with a bit of bronze burnishing on her petals which make her quite the belle of the show.

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And finally, the orchids fade into white – a soothing and striking color.  The bottom left is a ladyslipper about to open.  The orchids in bottom center were among the tiny Japanese orchids on display – each bloom was about the size of my fingernail.  And the bottom right was perhaps the greatest surprise of the show.  This is Darwin’s orchid, from Africa.  It was in a display in the African galleries and the plantings were all of African decent.  The Darwin orchid is famed for the story that it was sent to Charles Darwin (who also was obsessed with orchids) and he proposed that only a moth with an exceptionally long proboscis could be its pollinator.  If you look closely at the photograph, you’ll see a long green stem-like structure underneath the bloom.  Nectar collects at the base of that spur.  Darwin died long before any such moth was discovered but 21 years after his death, the elusive moth was discovered  – the Madagascar sphinx moth – with a proboscis of 12-13″!  This is just one of the spellbinding stories that fill the history and biology of orchids.  My favorite book on orchids is Orchid Fever by Eric Hansen and it is full of entertaining and riveting stories of adventure, lust, lunacy, crime, and the strangest ice cream made from orchid roots…..

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1153: Art Elements February Challenge

After the excitement of having the moon for January’s theme, the Art Elements blog is back for another inspiring challenge – this time it’s birds of prey.  I was excited by this topic from the outset and spent some time daydreaming about all the directions this could go in.  Eventually I decided to focus on owls because I love them and have a generous collection of owls from which to create.  Owls are fascinating creatures – I have a documentary on them from BBC Nature that focuses on how they are perfectly designed for nighttime flight.  I love watching owls – one of my earliest memories of owls was at a nature rescue facility we visited on a school field trip and one owl just stared at me for quite some time and tilted its head, in the characteristic manner of owls – as if he was assessing how likely I’d be to procure him treats.  Owls capture our imagination when they soar majestically in flight and are wise sentinels when perched in the trees.

A few years ago I read The Owl who Liked Sitting on Cesar by Martin Windrow, who kept an owl as a pet and I quickly fell in love with the intrepid and inquisitive Mumble.  Other famous owls in my literary journey include “Owl” from the brilliant Arnold Lobel’s Owl at Home.  That was a formative book in my childhood years.  And I can’t forget Professor Newton, the educated owl that inhabits the world of Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, by Susan Wittig Albert.

One of the reasons that owls are popular in art and culture is that they are so amenable to a variety of styles.  For example, they are magical and mystical:

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Or they can be girly and cutesy:

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Or scary and spooky:

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Or natural and woodsy:

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So many choices…. I decided to go woodsy for my jewelry pieces.

First up is “Winter Owl”.  The inspiration for this piece was the beautiful ceramic pendant I received in a recent order from Grubbi ceramics.  She has the most lovely delicate ceramic pieces and I resonate with her emphasis on nature. (I’m slightly ashamed to tell you how many owl pendants I have from her, but it’s at least 3).  This beauty is paired with grey/peach agate stones and silver spacers threaded on cream cord.  The back of the necklace is finished with grey leather lace.  It has quite the frosty appearance!

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And here is “Tree Owl”.  This necklace features rustic ceramic beads by Artisticaos. I was introduced to her work from the Art Bead Scene blog and have become an avid “collector” of her beads.  I picked up a couple owl bead sets last fall and knew for sure I needed to use them for this challenge.

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Tree Owl is a perfectly hand-formed owl in a fetching shade of yellow.  She came with this magnificent tree ring which makes the most natural-looking setting for the little owl.  She is knotted to the tree ring with waxed linen with tiny metallic matte brass beads.  The body of the necklace is comprised of river jasper stone knotted on brown waxed linen.  This is one of my favorite stones to work with because of the rich natural hues in brown, yellow, and green and I am fond of the autumn ambience it elicits. You can almost feel the leaves rustling and falling gently to the ground… then you look up and spy a golden owl hiding in the autumnal foliage.

My third and final piece is called “Woodsy Owl”.  This one makes use of my other owl bead set from Artisticaos.  She is more at home in the winter forest given her brown and while plumage and she makes her home high in the snowy birch trees.  From there she can survey her domain and take note of any stirrings in the forest.  She also keeps a keen eye on signs of coming spring.

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I fashioned the owl and ceramic beads into a pendant which hangs from a beaded strand made of wood chips, shell slices, and matte brass spacers.  I loved the way these beads looked like winter tree bark.  Nestled halfway up is a floral bead on one side (to remind one of the coming spring) and on the other side is a dark brown leaf and a little ceramic quote bead with a wise reminder.  I think that the forest owls would be full of wisdom to slow down, savor, observe, and appreciate the tiny miracles that surround us.  This necklace is a reminder to not lose sight of the little things that fill a life and make it meaningful.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1152: Of Moths and Moons Part 2

After a long hiatus, the Art Bead Scene blog is back with their monthly challenges!  Except now they’re not monthly challenges, but six week challenges so that we have more time to create – these are now called art journeys.  And we have multiple images that create a theme for each “Art Journey” instead of just one.  So lots of positive, exciting changes in the works here.  And I maybe went a little overboard with this first challenge of the year.  You’ll see why because this is the first photo we had as our inspiration.

Is that not one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen?  It is a lovely sketch by Heather Powers and I’m fortunate enough to have a copy of this print and I could spend hours gazing at it.  Moths are an ethereal creature – they are nocturnal but always drawn to light.  Of course, there are many diurnal species of moth – my own favorite moth happens to be the hummingbird moth who usually comes to visit my blooming annuals late in summer.  But there’s something about those translucent-winged, feathery-antenna insects flying towards the moon, wrapped in its light, that captures our imagination.

My journey with the moths began innocently enough.  I was making a pair of earrings for another challenge and had made a component for a matching necklace – it was a hammered copper ring with peach beads.  Nearby I had out a moth pendant from a recent order from Artisticaos.  The moth jumped at the copper ring and insisted loudly that it have a place in the necklace I was working on.  I tried to incorporate said moth into the design I already had in mind and what resulted was a multi-day fight with the moth and necklace until I finally gave up and let the moth have her way.  What resulted is “Flickers of Pale Wings”

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The moth is hand painted on a ceramic pendant and clear glazed.  She rests beneath the copper ring that started the design.  In the end I discarded the other elements I was originally planning on using and instead used some ceramic beads that came as a set with the moth and a czech glass bead.  These were knotted onto faux leather cord and I used adjustable knots to finish off the necklace.

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Here are the earrings that started this set – they aren’t moth-themed, but I am pleased with them nonetheless.  The leaves are polymer clay beads from Humblebeads and also feature enameled bead caps by Gardanne Beads.

Feeling excited by the moth theme, I quickly mocked up another two designs.  “Shedding Light” features another moth pendant by Artisticaos.

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Her painted moths are so delicate.  For this necklace I again wanted to keep it simple so the focus would be on the stunning ceramics.  I cut a piece of embossed brass to top off the pendant and added the two matching ceramic beads to a large jump ring.  The necklace is finished off with knotted leather lace.

Now late last fall, Heather Powers of Humblebeads had designed some faux tin pieces with a vintage death’s-head hawk moth illustration.  It’s a breathtaking navy blue and yellow moth against a delicate pen inked botanical background.  I’d been thinking about a necklace design for it and this was a perfect opportunity to use it.

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This is “Nightwing”.  These moths are fascinating and I read a bit about them while working on this challenge.  There are three species – Acheron styx gets its name from the river that borders Hades.  A. lachesis is named for the fate who measures the thread of life and A. atropos for the fate who cuts the thread of life.  Apparently these moths were not viewed favorably by those who named them.  But I think the most interesting (and perhaps endearing) characteristic of these moths is that they squeak.  And it also has a taste for honey, as the moths are known to raid the hives of bees and drink their fill.  They aren’t disturbed because they produce an odor similar to bees and are essentially overlooked by the bees when they come to call.

I cut etched copper into geometric shapes to fill out the faux tin pendant.  Then I strung dark blue gemstone chips with silver spacers to highlight the colors in the moth and finished off the necklace with black leather lace.  The earrings are made with polymer disc beads by Heather – these feature a delicate moth wing pattern.  They’re finished off with a simple loop of leather lace and decorated with twisted jump rings and metallic bead spacers.

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At this point I figured I was done, but turns out I had not plumbed the depths of moth-obsession yet.  To my delight, I received my other order from Heather in time to use.  Heather had created some faux tin pieces of her lovely moth illustration.  I ordered them the second she posted them on her website.  It’s hard for me to have favorites of her work but I think these are some of the most beautiful pieces she’s made.  I just had to make some jewelry with them for this challenge.

For this necklace, I pulled out the hues of the complex blue/purple tones in the moth’s wings by using fluorite rough-cut rondelles.  I used thin black leather lace for the rest of the necklace and wrapped the ends with brass wire.  I had a lovely leafy toggle clasp that matched the foliage on the pendant perfectly.  I call this necklace “Luminosity”

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I love the way the gemstones seem to hold their own light and it seems a fitting material to use in homage to the light-loving moths.  The earring charms were cut in a shield shape.  I added a few fluorite gemstones connected with a length of fine chain to these and topped them off with a tiny rondelle.

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My last jewelry set is named “Alight” and the star is the fabulous and iconic luna moth.  I wanted to create something that felt like moonlight.  I strung the pendant with two  lengths of fine chain through an agate stone which reminded me of the moon.  It’s mottled in subtle shades of gray, lavender, and creamy yellow.   I added in some pale aqua agate beads to chain for the length of the necklace.

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The earrings pull in the same elements from the necklace and I just love the illustration on these charms.  The moths glow in the moonlight and shimmer with stardust, just like a perfect fairytale.

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If you’ve stuck with me this long, thank you.  This is a rather longer post than usual but I can almost absolutely promise you I will not create five necklaces and four earrings for any future challenge.   I was energized and inspired by using Heather’s lovely illustration and by exploring the world of moths – two wings suspended by the moon.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

 

 

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Gift #1151: 2319 or Secret Sock Society

I was going to save this post for a while longer, but Facebook informed me that today was 2/3/19 – or a 2319.  This was too good a coincidence to pass up, especially since we won’t have one again.  For those of you who might not be Disney/Pixar fans, a 2319 is in movie Monsters Inc. and refers to a breach in monster security at the Scream Factory when a human object makes it back to the monster world.  In that most famous scene, George (my favorite monster in the franchise) comes back from scaring a child and unknowingly has a tiny sock stuck to his back.  The ensuing chaos is hilarious.

Anyway, I have my own code 2319 to share with you as today’s post is all about socks.  Last year in January, in the throws of winter depression, I chose to do something I’d never done before.  You can read the original post here: Gift # 1116.   I was beguiled by one of my favorite knitting designers who started a sock club for the year 2018 and she promised “it would be a place where you could take root and feel a blossoming kinship with little growing things”.  That was all the encouragement my little winter-crazed heart needed and I joined the adventure of knitting socks inspired by the garden.  Never mind the fact that I’d not knitted socks and was pretty convinced I couldn’t;  I figured if I couldn’t make it spring outside, I could at least knit spring into socks.

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It has been quite an adventure but in the past year I have knit all 6 socks of the Sock Society and have been delighted by each pattern.  I’ve learned new techniques, how to work with very tiny needles, how to turn a heel, how to shape a toe, many new stitch patterns, and how to create with hope and joy.  I eagerly looked forward to each new pattern and to picking out the perfect yarn from my stash to make them.

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Allow me to introduce “The Handmade Sock Society 2018”  from upper left corner. Feb/March initiated the year with Hellebore Socks (inspired by my favorite flower!!) knit in a deep rose color with all-over lace patterning.  Apr/May celebrated magnolia blossoms, with the self-same pattern name – I knit this pair in a soft peachy/pink and these feature tiny cabling up the side of the socks.  June/July pair is entitled Astrantia Sock for the delicate flowers.  These were knit in Peepaloo Yarn with the colorway Cherry Blossoms.  These socks are knit mostly in stockinette stitch with tiny bobbles at the cuff and little lace flowers.  These are special to me because I was working on them when I went to Denver this summer.  Aug/Sept found us celebrating the little bees that buzz in our gardens with Honeybee Dance.  Knit in a gorgeous deep golden color, these socks have a fetching stitch pattern that looks like bee wings and a honeycomb stitch on the heel.  As we moved into autumn, Oct/Nov pattern celebrated hazelnuts, with a pattern of the same name.  A lovely cable design travels up the side of each sock and this was knit in a cozy soft yarn of taupe hues with a bit of pink.  And Dec/Jan brought us Red Robbin Socks as a reminder of the cheery harbinger of spring.  These were my first two-colored socks and were knit in colors of the robin and features a slip-stitch pattern along the length of the sock.

Here’s a capture of the first and last socks of the society that find me in the same place – anxiously waiting for spring to arrive.  I took the Red Robin Sock picture today and found some hyacinth were boldly peaking from the frozen earth.

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Already I’m looking forward to a new year of Sock Society and am anticipating the reveal for our theme in 2019.  This past year was a very special way to start knitting socks as we focused on “a little bit of earth” and used the book Secret Garden as the inspiration for this collection.  Here’s to a new adventure!

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1150: Of Moths and Moons – Part 1

Welcome to my first challenge reveal of the year!  One of the art blogs I follow, Art Elements, hosts monthly art challenges open to any medium to keep our creative energy flowing.  For January, our theme was the moon.  Right away I knew I wanted to be part of that!  I’ve loved the moon as long as I can remember, but it is something that intensifies with years.  My first memories of a child thinking about the moon were framed by the ending of Disney’s Peter Pan – when the children were back in the nursery after their adventure and looked up at the pirate ship sailing across the face of the moon.  It turns ghostly and then slowly dissolves away into fragments of clouds.  That scene captured my heart and imagination in a wistful joy so intense that I’ve never recovered from it – just thinking of that scene still brings chills to my spine.  It’s a pivotal moment that shaped who I am and it still symbolizes for me all the magic and wonderment that the moon holds.

The moon has long held sway over men and in some ways, we are all moths entranced by its light.  La Luna drives some to poetic inspiration and others to the point of insanity.  It is a field rife with scientific discoveries and yet it is the indisputable realm of fantasy.  It shrouds our darkest nightmares and illuminates our brightest dreams.  It shifts, revolves, disappears, and fattens over and over as it dances with stars across the canopy of night.

It was exciting to focus my feelings about the moon into physical pieces of art that reflected what the moon represents to me.  When I thought about the jewelry I wanted to create, I knew I wanted to experiment with hand-form shapes that mimicked the moon.

For “Circle of Moonbeams” I soldered silver wire and hammered it into a ring.  I selected several tiny gemstone strands from my stash and strung them across the circle frame in an ombre fashion.

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There’s tourmaline, citrine, aquamarine, amazonite, and fluorite, among others.   The earrings feature a stack of the gemstones layered against entwined silver rings.   I love the way the colors melt and mix with each other.

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“Moonglow” was a design I had percolating in the back of my mind for several months and this was the perfect time to try it out.  I bent silver wire in a half circle shape and hammered it for hardness and texture.  I made loops at the ends from which I strung labradorite faceted stones on fine silver wire.

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This is one of my favorite stones and I love the subtle, multi hues that emanate from this stone in the light.  They fluctuate in cool tones of gray, brown, and blue and I’m enchanted with them.  I found this strand at a local bead show and have been waiting for a special project to use them.

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The earrings are miniature versions of the pendant.

“Moonlight Dance” might be my favorite of the necklaces I created.  This pendant was born last fall when I took an etching class on a bead retreat.  We played with the technique that night and I made a copper sheet full of stamped images, including a beautiful moth.

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I knew it would be perfect for this challenge.  After cutting it out and filing it smooth, I had initially planned to cut out a brass circle and hammer texture on it.  But when I was rummaging, I found a brass plate I had etched a couple years ago in an art class.  We made the brass plates to run through a roller mill to emboss copper pieces.  I don’t have access to a mill anymore and decided to use this as the background – the effect is magical.  The resulting scene creates a story of a secret mountain meadow where fields of flowers open only at twilight, when moths emerge to dance among the moonbeams and drink their fill of the sweet nectar.

I also enjoy working with rubber stamps and paper crafts and created a few items for the challenge.  I love to create nighttime scenes with silhouette images against the moon – especially birds.    These stamps are from Stampers Anonymous (left) and See-Dees (right)

 

I couldn’t help but include a few that are more Halloween in style.  I did restrain myself from making this a Halloween-rich post since the timing isn’t right, but the moon and Halloween is a perfect match.

 

Halloween cards are my favorites to create because I can use all my bare trees and spiderwebs!  I also like blending multiple colors together with a dark overtone.  The stamps for both cards are from Memory Box Co.  The quote by Edgar Allan Poe is a special favorite of mine.  And no man knew more about the power of darkness and moonbeams.

The last set of projects I almost didn’t make because I already had a lot for the theme.  But when the challenge was announced I had thought how fun it would be to create a set of moon-themed canvases.  I put it on the back shelf, but it kept niggling at me and I finally bought some supplies “just in case.”  I had time over the weekend and they came to life beautifully.  May I present “Secrets of the Moon” trio.

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I started by painting the canvases and adding layers of ink, spritzing with water to blend and create water-streaks, and adding more ink.  I used Tim Holtz Distress Oxide inks and crayons.  Meanwhile, I tore tiny strips of paper up and used modpodge to adhere them to white cardstock in a random fashion.  After it dried, I cut out circles, wrote snippets of original poetry across the moon, and inked them in various shades of the Distress inks.  I stamped foliage on the canvases and highlighted with a sharpie and drew in little stars. I either hand-cut or used dies for the silhouettes.  Then I adhered the moon and animals to the canvases and highlighted with glimmer pens.  I love the whimsical feel of these and have enjoyed imagining the stories of these animals that live by the light and shadows of the moon.

 

Thank you for joining me today and following along with my moon-inspired adventures.  Please check out the links below for more participating artists.  And come back in a couple of weeks when I post  “Of Moths and Moons – part 2” reveal!

Guests:
Art Elements Crew:

Blessings to you,
Sarah

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Gift #1149: January Cards

One of the blessings of winter is that it is perfect for “nesting in” and staying at home because there’s not a lot to do outside when it’s bitter cold.   Days spent at home are never boring for me because I have a host of crafting opportunities.  In fact, it’s often hard to decide what to do and not flit from idea to idea.

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This morning I decided on making some cards.  One of the goals I had set for myself this year was to spend time each month using my crafting and hobbies to be a blessing to other people – and handmade cards are a perfect way to do this.  I used to contribute to “Cards for a Cause”, which is a group on an online stamping community that makes cards to send to a different organization each month.   This year I’m going to make a concerted effort to participate again.  In addition, I have a huge tub of cards that I’ve made in past years that I’m going to draw from as well.

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This month’s organization is an assisted living and memory care home in North Carolina.  The residents like to send cards to each other for birthdays and “thinking of you” cards.  One of their group activities with residents is they will gather together in the activities room and write notes on cards to give to each other.  I found this incredibly touching and also a deeply personal cause to donate cards.  My grandmother had spent the last year in memory care too as her Alzheimer’s had advanced to needed special care.  This felt like a wonderful way to honor her memory as well as touch the lives of others in similar situations.

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I wanted to make a suite of cards that coordinate and that would work equally well for men or women recipients.  I also made these cards in my grandmother’s favorite colors – I inherited my love of greens and browns from her. This stamp set is one I frequently use as I love the peaceful, sweet look of the nature images.

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When I make cards it is very helpful for me to at least have a starting spot that is designated so that it’s easier to make decisions about color scheme and images.  Most often, I work from pre-designed layouts which I find online or in books and then I can easily make several cards with the same format.  For many years I used Mojo Monday’s layouts – this was a blog that released a new layout each week and you could make cards and post them to the site.  Much to my disappointment the author of the blog discontinued this a while back as it got to be too much with her schedule and life demands.  But happily the challenge is resurrected and new layouts are released every two weeks.  This layout is the current design and it was fun to match papers and images for each card.

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I hope you enjoyed getting a peak at these before they go to the post office on Monday.  And I hope your weekend is filled with beauty, warmth, and creativity.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

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Gift #1148: Winter Jewelry

My neck of the woods is filled with a day’s worth of wintry precipitation (read: rain, sleet, and ice pellets) followed by an afternoon and night of snow leaving several inches on top of the ice layer.  I’ve spent the entire day inside the house and it’s looking like that might be tomorrow’s forecast as well.  As long as it clears up by Monday morning’s work commute I’m contented to enjoy some wintry weather and enjoy the comforts of snuggling in warm fuzzies, hot chocolate in hand, and watching the snow fall…. and crafting.  I’m working on a couple of challenges for January which are still in progress (or in idea phase) but today I wanted to share some pieces I’ve made that are winter-themed.

In December, my favorite bead artist, Humblebeads, released some lovely faux tin pieces that were all the more special because she used her own illustrations as the images.  I bought a few in a trunk show and have enjoyed creating with them.

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My first piece I’ll share is called “Cardinals at the Window”.  I fiddled with a couple different layouts for this necklace, but the tin piece was adamant about not wanting anything except copper chain and a flower dangle.  So that’s what I went with.  And we’re both happy with that choice.

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Earrings are kept a bit simple too – I paired crimson Czech glass flowers with the faux tin charms.  They needed just a bit of something on the bottom of the charm and I cut some tiny teardrops from some etched copper I made.  I’m in love with the scarves the cardinals are wearing and wish I could knit little scarves for all the critters so they could stay warm and comfy during the snowy weather.  I have a penchant for illustrations of woodland creatures wearing scarves in winter.

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From cardinals we turn to “Warm Woolen Mittens”.  I thought these hand drawn mitten shapes were so clever and original.  For this necklace, I added the mitten, a mother of pearl charm, and snowflake as dangles to a silver loop.  A stack of Humblebeads disc beads and a ceramic bead by Grubbi Ceramics are sandwiched with silver twisted jump rings and strung on navy leather cord.

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“Snowy Mitts” is made from my other mitten purchase.  For this one, I strung the mitten to a silver jump ring and to a navy snowflake bead from Humblebeads that she gifted me in my order.  I wanted to make this necklace look a bit different so I decided to use silver chain.  At a bead store several years ago I had bought a few lengths of gemstone beaded chain.  However, in a fit of insanity I apparently only bought 6 inches of chain – I don’t know what I was thinking I’d do with that.  So I doubled the aqua stone chain and added it for a bit of visual interest.  I think it worked out pretty well.

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And I made a pair of earrings that conveniently match with both mitten necklaces (this is because I was feeling lazy and also because I was running out of snowflake charms).  This incorporate elements from the necklace including the twisted silver jump rings and clay disc beads.  I needed a silver spacer to separate the disc beads from the navy Czech beads but none of them looked right.  Then I decided to see how a jump ring would look – one was ok, but two was better.  I linked them together so that they would have a twist and I’m thrilled with how they look.  I’m going to use that trick again for sure.

I hope you’ve enjoyed having a look at what I’ve been up to.  The background for the jewelry pics are a pair of knitted mitts I made over Christmas break.  They matched the pieces and the theme perfectly.  Hope you are staying snug and warm this weekend.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1147: Winterlights

How’s your new year unfolding?  Today was one of the first bitterly cold days we’ve had in a while.  We’ve had snow flurries almost all day and that has reminded me of my recent visit to Winterlights.  This is an outdoor Christmas light extravaganza hosted by our local art museum and garden.  It debuted last year and was wonderful.  Mom and I went earlier in December and were hoping for a return trip.  But then it was sold out for the week between Christmas and New Years.  We were able to get tickets after the New Year though and it was a lovely activity to boost the spirits after the excitement of Christmas had gone and the usual schedule was in place again.  Tonight thought it would be nice to share some photos of the decorated landscape.

Upon getting through the queue, a visitor finds oneself in WinterMarket, which is a large indoor room where you can buy goodies, warm drinks, and hot food with which to fortify you for the frosty outdoor adventures.  You bundle up, head through the glass doors, and find yourself in fairyland.

Snowflake bridge is the first display and it’s one of my favorites.  Lit snowflakes dance in the air, and projected snowflakes decorate the walkway.

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It is magical and these lit pillars cast beautiful patterns on the ground – I’m fascinated by them.

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The next display is a choreographed light show of dazzlement set to the Nutcracker suite.  In the background is the majestic Lilly house, which anchors the many Christmas trees, globes, and ground lights that flicker on and off with the music.  I love to watch the lights dance with the ballet music.

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The Lilly house is open during the evening and stunningly mantled in holiday glory.  I was delightfully surprised to find that the decorations were different from last year.  The only fitting word for the inside is … enchanting.   The foyer is transformed into a wintry forest of birch trees adorned with paper chains and ornaments.  It was breathtaking.

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The library was crowned with a stately Christmas tree in the bay windows and decorated with more paper chains and candles.

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The music room was a whimsical flurry of paper birds and butterflies.  Here are a fluttering group of them about the piano.  The Christmas tree was in this room was filled with paper butterflies and ornaments.  It’s hard to have a favorite room in this Winter Wonderland but this room was absolutely lovely.

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However, the dining room might have been the piece de resistance.  Paper chains cascaded from the chandelier to fall in piles all around the room.  They were interlaced with each other and draped about the furniture in a riotous cascade.  The table itself was adorned with red and white paper poinsettia.  Billows of paper chain fell on the smaller side tables and looked like snow drifts burying the white narcissus blooms.

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I’ve never seen anything like this before.  I had no idea the humble paper chain could be elevated to “magical Christmas fairy-land”.  My deepest congratulations and thanks to the design team who created this wonderland of beauty.  Then we’re off outside again to see gardens festooned with lighted flowering trees and curtains of lights that shifted color in the wind, a large Christmas tree made entirely of plastic toys and illuminated from the inside, and a “winter storm” lighted walkway.  Between all these frosty, twinkling exhibits are warming stations where you can stop to take the chill off, a kissing arbor wrapped in winter greens and mistletoe, drink stations, and my favorite…. smore stations!  Here you can buy smore kits and make your own treat!!

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It makes for a festive evening where even I start to think that winter just might be a wonderful season of delight.  When it’s time to close you follow the path back underneath the twinkling snowflakes while carols softly serenade you.

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Once back inside, one must take a few moments to appreciate the snowy white Christmas orchids.

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On the way out to the parking lot you can look up in wonderment at the atrium where several lighted trees are suspended from the ceiling, draped in lights and ornaments.   They are made all the more amazing by the lights that hang down from the base of the tree.

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No doubt about it, it has been a magical night and thank you for sharing it with me.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1146: More thoughts on Wonder

I’ve been thinking more about my word for the year “wonder” over the past few days.  My Pinterest app has developed an unnerving clairvoyant ability and since publishing my last post, it has obligingly offered several beautiful quotes about wonder.  I thought I would share a few of them with you today.  In their original form on Pinterest, they are art prints and cards by SacredBee.  She is one of my favorite artists because of her whimsical designs and how perfectly she pairs her art with lovely quotes that speak to the soul.  I first saw her art as cards at a gift store in Denver and have since acquired a collection of them.  You can check out her website to be inspired.

But today offered up wonderment of its own in the garden and so the pictures to accompany the quotes come from there.  This was a lovely day, like the allurement of early spring.  It was mild, with temps in the low 50s and it was full of glorious sunshine and blue sky.  The birds were all a-twitter with excitement and the squirrels were scampering about.  I went out to the garden to see if by chance my hellebores were waking up.  And joy of joys!!!  They are!!!  There are new buds and new growth on several of them…. which means we shall soon have flowers to get us through the rest of winter and into spring.  I’ve blogged repeatedly about how much I love hellebores so I’ll try to rein it in today, but they are such a gift in the dreariness that winter can bring.  God was so gracious to create plants that are hardy enough to start blooming in the dead of winter and remind us that even in the most barren of landscapes there is always life…. and where there’s life, there’s wonder.

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“Wonder and I took a vow; we exchanged rings, I fell in love and she accepted all my desires.”  – Rumi

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“Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods.”  – Plato

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“And we’ll live, and pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh at gilded butterflies, and talk upon the mystery of things, as if we were God’s spies.” – Shakespeare

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“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder” _ E.B. White

 

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift # 1145: Wonderment

Happy New Year to you all!  Standing on the precipice of a new year is always a thrilling moment.  We can’t see beyond the horizon to what this year will hold in store, but we fill it with our hopes, dreams, and fears nonetheless.  It’s exciting to think about what we’ll experience, how we’ll grow, and what we’ll do with the time that is given to us.
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I don’t usually make formal resolutions at the new year  A couple of years ago, picking a word for your new year became popular.  I hadn’t jumped on the bandwagon of that yet either, but this year I think I will.  And my word is “wonder”.  I want to catch it like one catches butterflies and then releases them to the sun laughing at their colored wings pulsing with life.  I want the stars to take my breath away while I fall in love with the moon.   This past year has been a very difficult one and I’ve gone through it in a fog.  I spent the majority of it being exhausted, dragging myself through every day and wanting nothing more than to hibernate for 6 months.  I had very little desire to do much of anything, and it was horrible.  I felt numb and “un-alive”.  I’ve not ever been through a time like that before and it was miserable to not feel delight over the blessings that usually fill me with joy.

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So this year I’m waging war against the numbness and exhaustion.  I refuse to live my life like a shell of a person.  I want to recapture the wonderment that used to characterize my days.  As I’ve been reading through the Bible these past few months, I’ve been surprised to see how often the word “wonder” comes up.  It is used repeatedly to describe the works of God in creation as well as the acts He performs on behalf of men .  In many of the passages I’ve been reading, the writer encourages the reader to remember the wonders of God and to praise Him for the wonders He’s done.

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My goals for regaining a sense of wonder are three-fold.  First: to spend time in nature, appreciating the beauty of creation, and drinking it in.  I already do this, but this past year I haven’t really allowed it to soak into me.  This year I plan to be on the lookout for ordinary miracles all around and to give thanks for them.  Secondly, I want to be wide-eyed in amazement at how God is at work in my life and in the world.  I want to be actively pursuing Him and be aware of His presence.  I’ve been praying that I’ll draw closer to Him and that He’ll fill my heart with wonder as I ponder all He has done and all He is doing.  And third, I want that wonder to pour out of my heart to be a blessing to those that God will bring into my life this year.  It’s my heart’s desire that my life will be a light and joy for others… that people will feel appreciated and heard when they talk with me, that I will be a source of peace not conflict, and that I will share my talents and time to brighten the lives of those around me.

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So here’s to 2019!  I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you.  May it be filled with wonderful things.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

PS Photos are from some highlights of the year:  the orchid show in February, my first pair of knitted socks and the flowers that inspired them (my favorites – hellebores), a visit home to Denver, and Spring Mill State Park in the fall.

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