Gift #1164: The Natural Wonder of Trees

A friend of mine re-posted this on Facebook today entitled “Natural Wonders”.

“Every day a 40 foot tree takes in 50 gallons of dissolved nutrients from the soil, raises this mixture to its topmost leaves, converts it into 10 pounds of carbohydrates, and releases about 60 cubic feet of pure oxygen into the air”

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That stopped me right in my tracks – every day a tree moves a massive amount of nutrients up its trunk and across all those branches to each and every cell in each leaf.  The sheer amount of metabolism of all those nutrients converting into energy is astounding!  And this happens every single day!  No committees or bureaucracies are needed to work out an action plan, no governmental agencies are involved to oversee the process… and am amazing amount of efficient growth takes place just because the tree is functioning as it was designed.

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If you’ve visited my blog before you’ll know that I’m deeply in love with trees and consider them among the greatest ordinary miracles with which we share our world.  And after today I’m even more impressed.  It reminded me of my last post when I wrote about flowers being extras that God gives us as signs of His goodness.  Somehow knowing how much a tree accomplishes every day without any fanfare or noise comforted my heart too.  It’s been easy to get caught in the cacophony and chaos of the world – in all the grief, hate, and sin that we see evidenced every hour on the news.  Today, this brief post on Facebook about trees was a reminder to reset my heart.  As much as the world spins out of our comprehension, God has it under control and we can rest in Him.  He designed trees and our own bodies to flawlessly execute thousands of ordinary miracles every day in maintaining biologic processes that keep us alive.  And He allows us to learn, understand, and marvel at these wonders that reveal His care for us.

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I hope today you find an ordinary miracle and that it will give you hope and strength for the beginning of a new week.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1166: Flowers

July’s theme for Art Elements was flowers and that’s a perfect challenge when summer is filled with the glory of blooms.  I’ve actually spent a great deal of the month in gardens and in mountain hikes with fields of wildflowers.  To provide a bit of inspiration, I made a few photo collages from my recent trip to Denver.

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This one is of blooms at Denver Botanic Gardens.  It’s one of my favorite places on earth and  I could gladly live in this park all summer.  There are acres of gardens to wander through and explore – serene Japanese gardens, traditional cut flower and herb gardens, plains and meadow habitats, water gardens, greenhouses, and (my absolute favorite) – an alpine rock garden.

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This collection of flowers came from some of the mountain hikes that we enjoyed during our trip.  I’m constantly enchanted that on each visit to the mountains we are greeted by different wildflowers, depending on the weather conditions of the winter and early spring.  For example, on this trip the flowers were about 3 weeks behind what we usually see, so we were able to see more “spring flowers” in bloom and enjoy the beginnings of summer flowers.  The thistles weren’t quite open yet, but we did get to see the beautiful mariposa lilies.

Since this blog is a celebration of flowers, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share with you my favorite quote concerning the botanical beauties.

“Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.”

          – Sherlock Holmes/Arthur Conan Doyle

I first heard this quote one summer in high school when my family watched all the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes episodes from the library.  “The Naval Treaty” was one of my favorite stories, mostly because of this observation made by Holmes.  It touched me deeply and shaped my theology and my views of the world.  Truly flowers are to me one of the surest proofs of the existence and goodness of God and I’m delighted to share my creations inspired by flowers with you.

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This first set of cards was an exploration in techniques.  Apparently I really enjoy making pink flowers – I noticed that as I was taking photographs.  The left card is a collage technique with overlaid floral and fern elements.  I inked the stamps with markers and small inkpads so I could use a variety of colors for a more realistic effect.  It reminds me of pressed flowers and leaves in an old love letter.  The right top card was made by inking the rose stamp, then spritzing it lightly with water to achieve a watercolor effect.  After stamping, I lightly flicked water on the paper to mottle the image a bit more and layered it with a variety of floral papers.  The bottom right card features a collage stamp that was inked and stamped on vellum.  Then after drying I used markers to color the image on the wrong side of the vellum, and I lightly inked the edges.  I adhered the vellum to white cardstock and cut it out and layered it with a doily and patterned papers.

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For these cards, I explored watercolor techniques a bit further.  These were some I made while playing – not fancy cards.  Upper left card was created by stamping flowers and leaves with a light brown ink.  Then you can use watercolors to paint over the stamps, giving a free-form watercolor look.  (This is handy for those of us who can’t draw for beans).  After creating the background, I lightly added a teal wash to the unstamped areas, and flicked brown ink specks for interest.  I stamped a quote on vellum and adhered it along with some pearls.  The upper right card was made by clear embossing the large floral stamp on watercolor paper.  I colored it with watercolors and then inked the leaves and spritzed with water before stamping so they’d look watercolored as well.  I gave a wash of light teal to the background and splattered it with water drops to mottle.  Then I stamped the quote, punched out the butterflies, and colored them with inks.   Bottom card was made with similar techniques – stamping image and watercoloring the flowers, adding the teal background (can you tell I like pink and teal?).  This one I finished a bit more with patterned papers.

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For jewelry, I have several pieces to share.  This first one was actually made for another challenge just recently but it worked so perfectly for this one that I wanted to share it here.  The floral focal was a gift from a bead artist and was formed with air-dry clay and highlighted with gold gilding.  I had a beautiful collection of vintage beads from a local bead store that were a perfect match for the flower.  I love how this piece came out.

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The rest of the necklaces are made from the Vintage Groove Collection, designed by Jill Schwartz.  These were released in Michaels and Hobby Lobby many years ago and I loved all the components – lots of pendants, charms, dangles, frames, and flowers!  This piece incorporates a rhinestone frame with a ribbon flower link, resin word, and a dangling butterfly.  I used tiny floral carved beads mixed in the chain.

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“Romantic Florals” is one of my favorites from this collection.  I enjoyed practicing assembling a variety of motifs as choker-style necklaces – this is a bit different from my usual design.  For this one, I placed a dark brown mesh rose as the main focal, with a smaller green velvet flower off to one side and a framed scrap of old letter on the other.  I added a couple tiny charms to the top to balance out the design and a brass leaf dangles from the brown flower.  These Art-Deco inspired brass frames were part of the Vintage Groove collection and I’ve used them quite a bit in my pieces.  I like the way it gives the necklace a retro-vintage feel.

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“Garden Blooms” is a more simple design, that just lets the collection of flowers speak for itself – here a velvet cut rose, doily with resin flower, and mesh rolled rose combine for an elegant effect.  It’s the perfect accessory for strolling along the garden paths before tea.

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“Assemblage Florals” is a mix of a variety of components that I put together.  In this necklace, the carved shell pieces provide a unifying framework.  A gingham ribbon flowers with sequins and seed beads and a beaded flower with resin rose anchor the bottom of the design, with a mother-of-pearl leaf dangle.  On either side is a shell rectangle and a flower made of shell slices, sequins, and seed beads.  I added tiny carved shells with a floral-inspired design before finishing off with doubled chain.

I really enjoyed creating these pieces – it was fun to lay out all the components and see which ones wanted to play together and how to create cohesive designs with them.  Thank you all for stopping by to share my love of flowers and see how I incorporated them in this month’s challenge.  In the comforting words of Sherlock Holmes – “We have much to hope for from the flowers”

This is a blog hop – please follow the links to see all the beautiful creations from our talented participants.

Here is a list of our Visiting Artists:
Alysen
Cat
Divya
Evie and Beth
Jill
Kathy
Linda
Martha
Melissa
Michelle
Rozantia
Sarah
Sarajo
Tammy

And our Art Elements Blog Contributors:
Caroline
Cathy
Claire
Jenny
Laney
Lesley
Marsha
Susan

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1165: Art Journey #4

Today was the end of the Art Bead Challenge #5 and I was preparing to blog about it  when I remembered that I never blogged about Challenge #4!  That ended right as I was getting ready to travel and I was off on adventures and busy with work, then on to new challenges, and traveling again… and you get the picture.  So we’ll take a brief step back to enjoy Art Journey #4 because it was lovely.  During last rotation, we had “the Dreamy World of Odilon Redon” as our inspiration.

Odilon was a Symbolist painter and one of the most important of the movement, which emphasized feeling, emotion, and ideas in their artwork.  Odilon himself was deeply inspired by his dreams and imagination – including the beautiful, surreal, and the sinister.  We were fortunate in this challenge to have picturesque images for our inspiration point.  From left to right:  Madame Arthur Fontaine (1901), Bouquet of Flowers (1900-1905), and Butterflies (1910).  The soft textures of the pastels, the color palettes, and subject matter were a delight to study and create from.

The human heart has hidden treasures, In secret kept, in silence sealed; The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures, Whose charms were broken if revealed.  – Charlotte Bronte

I found the soothing, soft colors of yellow and blue most appealing and was mesmerized by how they blended into each other and into the charcoal background.  The flowers both on the background and in the needlepoint are frothy and subdued.  For my necklace, I chose to mimic the color palette with a beautiful clay bird from Humblebeads and ceramic pendant from Grubbi Ceramics.

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I added a few flower charms to the pendant, which reads “In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take”.  The quote seemed applicable to following your dreams and making them come true and I also liked how the little flowers framing the quote echoed back to the painting.  Czech beads and brass spacers fill in the chain.

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Earrings match with similar floral charms and more Czech beads.

Dreams are the seeds of change. Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream.  – Debby Boone

This lovely still life of an overflowing vase had me wanting to make something with a floral bouquet too.   I didn’t have anything particularly summery in my bead collection, but I did have these gorgeous faux tin components by Humblebeads.  They were appropriately termed “Autumn Bouquet”.

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Isn’t that pendant amazing?!  It’s one of my favorite pieces she’s made.  And it’s her own artwork too!  I made a bead soup of several different Czech bead strands, tiny green agate rounds, and brass spacers and strung the beads on wire.  I added chain as well to balance out the weight of the pendant.

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I used matching charms for the earrings, along with tiny Czech leaves dangles and a bit of glass and brass spacers.   I can’t wait to wear these during the autumn months!

I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?  – Zhuangzi

I loved this butterfly pastel scene so much – it was my favorite of the set.  The sky and clouds are fabulous and it feels so dreamy.  I appreciate how Odilon has captured the emotion of a scene rather than the stark reality of it.  It is a masterpiece indeed.

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I knew I had the perfect component for this piece, but I had to work up the courage to use it.  This beautiful lampwork butterfly wing is a treasure made by Kim Snider.  She sells most of her work by auction so it’s a rare event to win one of these beauties.  The wing is capture in a bronze clay vine with tiny white flowers.  Quite frankly – there’s no way to improve on this work of art and I was daunted about transforming it into a necklace.  To do so, I kept the materials simple – using tiny stones and Czech glass pressed ovals in delicate hues that mirrored the butterfly wing’s coloring.

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The earrings were made with enameled butterflies from Anne Gardanne fluttering in front of lengths of chain.  They are an elegant accompaniment to the necklace.

I hope you enjoyed exploring the dream world of Odilon Redon with me.  To close, here are some photo collages I made of my jewelry and his art.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1164: Going on a Hike

“Let’s go on a hike” – these are some of the greatest words in the English language! An invitation to adventure, exploration, and beauty awaits!  One of the great pleasures of being in the Colorado mountains are the abundance of trails that can take you to amazing places and views.  We were able to spend a few days in Rocky Mountain National Park and today I wanted to take you with me on my favorite hike we did there.  So put on your hiking shoes, grab your water bottle, and let’s hit the trail!  This is a quiet hike around Lilly Lake – perfect for an early morning when the sun is brightly shining but the breeze is cool.  Our trail begins with a bridge… as so many wonderful adventures do.

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Crossing the bridge leads you down to the lake and to the trail head.  And what lovely views greet us on this morning!

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The trail meanders gently about the lake.  A steep trail beckons mountain goats up a nearby mountain but for now we’ll remain down at water’s edge, appreciating the cool breeze scented with wildflowers that are drinking in the sunlight.

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We round the curve of the lake and the terrain starts to change from meadow to mountain forests.  Right in the midst of this transition lives a wild iris.

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A look-out over the lake from this vantage point provides a scenic landscape and a strategically placed bench invites you to stop and savor the beauty.

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Invigorated by our rest, we now continue to explore the trail.  On one side we run into a fallen tree, whose weathered limbs have been buffed smooth by the elements.  The dead branches make a poetic natural sculpture.

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And then in a glade overshadowed by pine trees, we find treasure!  Stands of columbines are in bloom!  These are among my very favorite wildflowers and what a treat to find some on our hike!

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On the other side of the lake, the land turns marshy and we must tread lightly on boardwalks to preserve the integrity of the vegetation.  Tall grasses grow here, providing plenty of shelter for birds to nest.  And the plethora of water insects are a never-ending buffet table for the birds.

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Here we stop to watch swallows careening in acrobatic moves in the sky and listen to the cries of red-winged blackbirds.  Maybe we’ll see a heron fishing for his breakfast!  All too soon we find ourselves back at the beginning of the trail, richer with all the beauty we have seen and felt.  We linger here for a moment, soaking it in, and inscribing the landscape on our hearts.  This is a morning we will never forget…  Are you ready for a picnic?

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

 

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Gift #1163: Winds of Heaven

I’ve returned from my yearly pilgrimage to Denver.  My mom and I spent a blissful two weeks in the city we still call home, visiting our favorite haunts and exploring some new places.  We were veritable mountain goats – spending many of our days in county parks and at Rocky Mountain National Park.  I miss Colorado so much and it is a blessing to be able to return each summer to experience its beauty.  One of the many charms of Colorado I fell in love with when my family moved there was the gentle, cooling breezes that filled the summer days.  They were refreshing on hot days, and they were scented with the most delicate perfume.  I’ve still not determined what the source of that smell is – but not knowing makes it all the more alluring and special.  My mom and I refer to it as the “breath of heaven”.

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And on those mountain meadows when the wind blows the grasses and wildflowers and kicks up that heavenly aroma while you gaze out at snow-capped mountains, it’s easy to think that the door to heaven blew open on that mountain and the air of earth and eternity mixes and swirls together.  To be truthful, there are times when that happens when I’m not sure if I’m on earth, or if the curtains shifted and I’m standing in heaven’s threshold.  I’ve come to love the mountain meadows of my parks with the passion and reverence of a holy place because it feels so much like heaven is near.  And in these moments I love to listen to the wind whisper to my heart and feel it caress my face.  I store up the secrets of the wind deep within to give strength and remember my beloved mountains.  Readers of my blog from years past know that I always end my Colorado trip with a song that was of special meaning during the visit.  I found myself humming this song while up in the mountain meadows and it’s a perfect choice for commemorating the sacred moments when earth and heaven meet in the mountain winds.

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Wind of Heaven

I woke up in the ruins of yesterday
I just can’t break away
I’m losing faith in the dream
Trying to recreate the life I knew
Find the heart that once was true
Lost and cast away, adrift, floating downstream
Yet still the battle rages, I don’t know what to do
Then I hear you whisper, Baby, I love you
Feel the wind of heaven blow
Over fields for all time unfrozen
Hearing words of ancient wisdom calling out to me
Let the tears of sorrow go
Riding free in the wild, unbroken
Those eternal voices tell us love will set us free
I saw the stallion run along the river bed
With the eagle overhead
And then I realized
That time is but the curse that we all share
Bringing heartbreak and despair
But we can break the spell
Oh, yes, and then I open my eyes
And the battle’s raging, I don’t know what to do
Then I hear you whisper, Baby, I love you
Feel the wind of heaven blow
Over fields for all time unfrozen
Hearing words of ancient wisdom calling out to me
Let the tears of sorrow go
Riding free in the wild, unbroken
Those eternal voices tell us love will set us free
Where is love? Now my brothers all are gone
A man who walks alone
Living day by day
Breathe into me
Breathe your breath of life into my soul
And save me from my dreams
Before my time is done
Breathe into me now.
Feel the wind of heaven blow
Over fields for all time unfrozen
Hearing words of ancient wisdom calling out to me
Let the tears of sorrow go
Riding free in the wild, unbroken
Those eternal voices tell us love will set us free
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Justin Hayward / alberto parodi / david minasian
If you would like to hear the song as recorded by Justin, here is a link to youtube.  It is a beautiful song.
And now, on the other side of the mountain I will carry the music of the wind, its joy and sorrow and wisdom, in my heart until I can walk in the winds of heaven again.
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Blessings to you,
Sarah
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Gift #1162: Sea and Selkies

“Sea and Selkies” was the theme for June’s Art Elements blog challenge.  Selkies form an intrinsic part of the culture and mythology of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.  My introduction to selkies was from the movie “Secrets of Roan Inish”.  An Irish man tells a young girl the story of her ancestors – of a man who was fishing with seals off the coast and sees a young woman emerge from the skin of a seal on a rocky outcropping.  The man takes the skin and the selkie woman becomes his bride.  Held captive to whoever holds her skin, she finds love with the man and raises a family with him, but is ever wistful and near the seas.  One day, her oldest asks why there’s a seal skin hidden in the roof rafters and the woman takes back her seal form, returning to the sea.  However, she keeps watch over her family and plays with them in the ocean.  The generations pass with her guarding her descendants but never being part of them.

It is an entrancing and bittersweet tale that captures the ethos of a being never fully at home in water or on land.  Part of her heart is always divided between the two.  I think the mythology of the selkie is a beautiful picture of the tension that we feel living on earth but longing for something more.  The human experience is full of the realization that we are immortal spirits bound to the circles of earth; prisoner to mortality, but knowing there is eternity to inhabit.  My favorite author, C.S. Lewis, described it thus “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world”.  Like selkies we embody the transitory nature of existence, searching for our true selves and our true home.

Because I didn’t have any seal-related supplies, I chose to focus this month’s creations on the environment that selkies inhabit and the kinds of things I thought she would love. I used a collection of seashell collage images from Stampington to create a trio of romantic sea-inspired cards.

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The stamped panels were colored with alcohol inks to give a dark, underwater-feel to the images.  The cards were finished off with items I thought a selkie might surround herself with – seaweed, handwritten love letters sent out to sea in old bottles, bits of twine, and scraps of cloth.

For my jewelry creations I wanted to explore the tension between earth and water, salt and soil – that liminal space hanging between two worlds that a selkie would inhabit.  I established this connection between the two worlds by using materials from land and water in my designs.

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My first necklace is constructed with agate teardrops and twisted silver links that form a chain holding a cluster of pearls, shell pieces, and polished glass.

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Matching earrings blend metal, shell, and pearl components into an foaming cascade from silver ear-wires.

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The starting point for my second necklace was this amorphous oval linker, which was part of a chain I purchased some years back.  Its form reminded me of tidepools and I decided to use it as a pendant in this piece.  At a bead show this past spring, I found ocean jasper and loved the stone so much that I purchased several strands in different shapes.  I used oval cuts of brown mottled ocean jasper in this necklace to emphasize the shape of the pendant and to bring some warmth to the design.  I also included a small quote bead that says “not all who wander are lost”  -I thought it was an appropriate description of a selkie as she roams between land and sea.  The necklace is finished off with leather cording.

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Another pair of earrings are made from hammered antique brass frames from which delicate starfish charms are dangled.  When I bought the charms on clearance, they were a gaudy shiny silver.  I painted them with gesso and used Perfect Pearls to give them a softer, earthier feel.

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My last necklace is one of my favorites.  The piece of coral that forms the pendant was also shiny silver.  I gave it the ame treatment as the starfish charms, using perfect pearls to transform the pendant into a neutral tone with soft whispers of sea colors.  The chain is created with links of abalone shells and etched brass ovals.  As another nod to the selkies, I added a small brass tag that says “thrive” to the pendant.  The selkie had to make a choice to build a life, whether on sea or land.  This is a reminder to choose to thrive in whatever circumstances I might find.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey with me through selkie mythology and the pieces I was inspired to create.  Please follow links below to see amazing art from the other participants.

Guests: 

Paisleylizard.com/blog

Anordinarymiracleday.wordpress.com

Ebbeadandmetalworks.blogspot.com

Bay-moon-design.blogspot.com
AE team: 

Lesley

Jen

Caroline

Claire

Laney

Cathy

Niky

Lindsay

Jenny

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1161: Nemophilia

I’m so excited to share with you this month’s theme for Art Elements blog.  Drumroll please… it’s “The Forest”!  Those who have followed my blog for any length of time will know of my deep and abiding love for the forest.  It is my favorite place in all the world to be.  I’ve been blessed to live among the evergreen forests of the Rocky Mountains and the deciduous forests of Indiana.  They couldn’t be more different from each other, but both are beautiful.  Forests restore my soul in a way that no other type of environment can.  I love their peacefulness, the shelter of the tree branches overhead, the tiny creeping green things that fill the understory, and all the animals that make their home in this rich and fascinating ecosystem.  I’m definitely a nemophilist – a haunter or lover of the forest.  Most weekends will find me flitting under the shadow of trees,  hunting mushrooms, admiring wildflowers, and chasing sun rays.

The first project I’ll share with you pays homage to the forest with a series of quotes.

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Making these actually was an afterthought as late one night I was browsing facebook and saw a tutorial for doing mock watercolor backgrounds.  I thought it was worth a try and used an app on my ipad to create a series of quotes which I printed out on watercolor paper.  I used inks smeared on a plastic bag and spritzed with water to create the watercolor backgrounds.  After drying I stamped trees and leaves and framed them.  I was pleased with how fun and easy this technique was and really like the handlettered style as well.  I think I see a lot more of these in my future, but for now I’ll enjoy these prints on my windowsill.

Of course, I also wanted to make some hand-stamped cards.  I have so many forest-related stamps that for a while I was stumped on what to do because there were so many choices.  I eventually decided on woodland animals.

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I used a collection of stamps from Unity Stamp Company for this collection and patterned papers from Prima.  I hadn’t originally planned on this color scheme, but once I started the images seemed happiest with teal, green, and dark brown tones.  I think they look right at home in a forest surrounded by leaves and little wildflowers.  I especially enjoyed pairing the quotes with the animals.

I was both delighted and daunted by the theme and this was no where more apparent than when I approached my jewelry designs.   I wanted to create pieces that were not only inspired by the forest but invoked the same feelings of longing and piercing joy that I feel when I’m wrapped in the forest’s embrace – things that looked like they might have sprouted up from the roots of magical grove.   After each piece I wanted to create more and so I ended up with a collection of five necklaces and matching earrings.  And trust me, I really had to be firm with myself after five because my mind is still busily coming up with ideas for new designs.

In keeping with the forest animal theme, may I introduce the “Woodsy Association”?

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This necklace features a crew of woodland creatures – fox, hare, racoon, squirrel, and hedgehog.  The pendant is from Grubbi Ceramics and to complement it, I chose moss agate and wood beads, accented with shell and hematite spacers.  The necklace is finished off with wide leather lace.  And the earrings are also from Grubbi – these show off a duo of mischievous squirrels – an awful lot like the ones that frolic on my back deck.

Another pendant by Grubbi Ceramics inspired this nighttime view of the forest, which I call “Midnight in the Forest”.  In this monochromatic scene, a stag in a forest is illuminated by a moon while a raven flies overhead.

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I used a strand of fancy cut grey agate beads for this necklace.  I had bought them a couple of years ago at a bead show and was thrilled with how perfectly they worked with the pendant.  Tarnished silver spaces add a touch of understated glimmer, much light moonlight on a dark forested landscape.  The earrings are made with a pair of raven charms accented with grey stone agate and Czech beads.  I’d like to think Edgar Allen Poe would feel a certain kinship with this set.

From animals, I moved to musings on the benefits of the forest to the human spirit.  Throughout history mankind has recognized the importance of wild places for the health of civilization as well as the individual.  They are safe havens, away from the noise and distraction of technology where we can rest in quiet, reorient our priorities, and marvel at God’s creation.  One of the most eloquent spokesmen for the spiritual revitalization of wilderness was John Muir, who played an irreplaceable role in the establishment of the National Park System.  This necklace is an homage to the “Wilderness Prophet” as he was nicknamed.

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“Into the Forest” pairs earthy colors of citrine with warm brass branch and accent beads to set off a ceramic pendant with Muir’s famous quote “And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul”.  The earrings are long leafy designs with a bohemian flair.  Delicate citrine beads sit atop little verdigris brass leaves swaying on lengths of chain – much like leaves would dance from their branches in the forest.

In my preparation for this blog, I ran across this unique word – “Werifesteria” and it means “to wander longingly through the forest in search of mystery”.  It is a modern word, first recorded in 2014.  I think it’s wonderful that in this age when many forest/nature-related words are being lost from our vocabulary, a new word is emerging.  It eloquently describes how I feel in the forest – I especially like how it emphasizes the longing aspect of being out in nature.  I thought it was the perfect name for this next creation.

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This Grubbi ceramic pendant is handlettered with the quote from Nancy Newhall:  “The wilderness holds answers to questions we have not yet learned to ask”.  I paired the pendant with a polymer clay bird from Humblebeads and a ceramic twig bead that I made.  The quote and dark mauve bird suggested a brooding thoughtfulness to me, and I played off that by incorporating dark, moody tones of tourmaline into the chain.  I created an ombre effect from burgundy, to golden brown, green, and black.  Tourmaline is one of my favorite stones to work with – I love its multi hues and it’s darker take on natural colors.   The earrings are made from Grubbi floral charms accented with tourmaline and a delicate brass leaf dangling below.

My final set is called “Understory” and it may be my favorite.  I paired the enameled fern focal and beads a while ago for another design that never fully materialized.  Knowing it would be perfect for the theme, I revisited the fern and reworked the design to be a tribute to the fascinating understory of the forest.  Here in the magical world where ferns and mushrooms and moss dwell, there are always tiny wonders to behold.  I spend the majority of my walks in the forest with my eyes glued to what treasures I can find on the forest floor.  And more often than not, I’m on my hands and knees to capture its beauty with my camera.  This necklace is filled with the jewel tones of moss, rich browns of fertile soil, and the delicate flash of a butterfly wing – all of which awaits you when you enjoy the microcosm of the forest.

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The beads were not labeled, which is a pity because I’d love to find more.  They are faceted and several of them are mottled with white veining.  The enameled fern is from Gardanne Beads and I love the dark speckles on the frond – just like you’d find in the forest!  The earrings are made with buffed warm brass butterflies dangling from matching beads and trailing waxed linen cords behind them.

I hope you have enjoyed exploring the mysteries and miracles of the forest with me.  And perhaps you’re inspired now to answer the call of the forest and find an adventure of your own!

This is part of a blog hop so please visit these other lovely blogs for more forest inspiration!

Guests

Alysen

Divya

Evie & Beth

Hope

Louise

Michelle

Sarah

Tammy

AE Team

Caroline

Cathy

Claire

Laney

Lesley

Niky

Sue

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1160: Woodland Wildflowers

Way back in January I claimed a word for the year: wonder.  I had gotten to a point last year where the cares of life were taking over and wanted to reclaim some sacred space in my heart and life for wonder.  For the tiny miracles that go unnoticed till you look for them, for the plenteous sources of beauty that we rush by, for the quiet whisperings of heaven that rustle in the leaves of earth… for these my heart ached.

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Not only is this a way to fill my life with beauty even when circumstances are difficult, but it is also one of my primary practices for worshiping God.  I use wonder and delight as vehicles to thankfulness to God for providing such a myriad of treasures for us to enjoy, and this in turn focuses into a deeper appreciation of His character and love.  One of the reasons I felt so isolated and divorced from life towards the end of last year was because this lifeline was broken as I reeled in the circumstances of life and couldn’t find firm footing in worship.

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In our sermon at church last Sunday, our pastor talked about how our doxology fuels the way we walk through life and subsequently informs what we work and live for.  He defined doxology as “your opinion of the splendor and glory of God.”  And as our view of His splendor gets bigger, it creates more space to view His goodness and grace in our lives and in the world.

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This is what I was after more of this year… this is what I was craving.  Now many people enhance their wonder by “going big” – seeing panoramic landscapes, open skies, big adventures that take one for a whirlwind and leave you dizzy.  However, I am drawn to finding wonder and the splendor of God in the small.  It’s in the tiny details, the ones you just walk right over, the small treasures that sprout out of the dirt and you have to get on your knees to see – these are where my heart finds peace and where I can connect with my God and Savior.  And so it’s no surprise to find that one of the easiest transports to wonder are wildflowers.

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This spring I was able to visit my beloved Spring Mill State Park and enjoy many hours hiking in the newly sprouted forests soaking up the greeness of rebirth.  I rejuvenate and rest in the forests and find comfort there.  It is a place of constancy as trees that have been sentinels for hundreds of years stretch their branches to the sky and dig their roots deep into the earth.  And at the same time it is transient – wildflowers bloom and are gone, only to be replaced by others as the season lengthens; butterflies and insects flit through and then disappear; leaves throw off green robes for scarlet and orange hues that fade into brown and wither; winter snow piles up then melts into rivers.

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It’s that interface between constancy and change where you find life.  The woods were full of sparkling wildflowers, like jewels hidden in seas of green leaves and it was a delight to find them out and marvel at them.  My favorites are trillium and I have to remind myself that it’s not necessary to take photos of every single one …. wait, or is it?  The most exciting moment of the weekend walks was when my mom and I trekked to a place last year that was filled with yellow woodland poppies and we wanted to see if they were blooming again.  We did find a few, but this time they were interspersed with vast swaths of delicate blue blooms that covered the ground as far back into the forest as we could see.  It was utterly entrancing to see how the same place could look so different from last year – and it was so beautiful.

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I returned from the forests with my heart overflowing.  I hope your hearts are filled with wonder and joy this weekend.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1159: Art Journey #3 – Meet the Bees

For our third installment of Art Journey, Art Bead Scene blog brought us the fabulous work of Jessie Fritsch.   She employs encaustic painting in her art – this is a technique where the artist paints with hot melted wax, mixing in pigments and layering them to create an image.  Here’s a short video of Jessie and her process of using wax in her artwork.

Jessie loves to feature bees and blossoms in her art, which is perfectly apropos since she employees beeswax for her lovely images.  Here’s a collection of her images that we were given to inspire our jewelry creations for this journey.

I really love Jessie’s style and had a great time studying her pieces and gleaning inspiration from bees and blossoms.  As part of this journey, we learned some cool facts about our bee friends too.  I was blown away by this:  10 flowers yield one drop of nectar; 10 drops of nectar are needed to make one drop of honey.  And it takes 10 drops of honey to make one drop of beeswax.  So 1000 flowers are needed for that tiny drop of beeswax!!!

A single bee will only produce 1/12 a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.  While I considered honey to be pretty commonplace before, after understanding how hard bees work for just a tiny amount of honey, I now view it as a treasure!!  I was excited to honor the hard work of bees in my creations and the vital role they play in pollinating our plants.  I had an extra-special way to begin the challenge too because I was the winner of our last Art Journey and received these wonderful gifts to use for this journey!!

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One of the blog organizers, Erin Prins-Heinz created this lovely clay pansy focal bead with gilded gold edges and also included two hand-wired bees!  Aren’t they wonderful?  And she also gifted me a selection of cards featuring Jessie’s artwork.  I couldn’t wait to get started!  And now I can’t wait to share what I made with you.

First up is “Growing Things”.  I had gotten a pendant from Grubbi Ceramics a while back with this quote:  “How lovely the silence of growing things”.  It reminded me of sitting in a garden surrounded by the peaceful growth of green things and flowers.

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For this necklace (and actually all the necklaces in this set) I went with a monochromatic color scheme.  I used coral semi-precious stones, glass beads of coral swirled with cream, and Czech glass flowers in coral and cream.  I finished off the necklace with brown leather lace.

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Here are the matching earrings:  Czech glass flowers with delicate chain and tiny brass flowers.  I’m looking forward to wearing this springtime floral set during the rest of May.

From here I transition to bees:  I had a bee skep clay pendant from my favorite bead artist, Humblebeads.  It came in a bead pack – I love these because Heather packages up a bunch of her lovely beads in a theme and sells them for a discount.  I’d been waiting for a good project for this pendant and now I introduce “Bee Skep”.

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When I was at a bead and mineral show in April I was on the lookout for some yellow stones to use with the bees.  I found a lovely strand of citrine which I used in this necklace by wiring the citrine chips between hexagon rings.  It made for a delicate lightweight necklace that will be perfect for summer.

I had a bunch of hexagon rings leftover and had an idea of wiring them together to make a beehive pendant.  After some fiddling, this is what I came up with.  I call this one “Honeycomb”

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After wiring together the rings to make the pendant I wired on a couple of bee charms from Vintaj.  I added a Humblebeads disc bead, quote bead from Grubbi ceramics, and a glass bead to the pendant and finished it off with some brass chain.  The quote says “You are capable of amazing things”.  I like the quote with this necklace because it reminds me of all the amazing things that little honeybees do every day.

Now for earrings.  I knew as soon as I opened my prize package that the little wired bees would be perfect for earrings.  “Buzzing” earrings feature the little bees dangling from hexagon rings and a drop of citrine, looking like honey.

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My last piece I’ll share with you today is called “Pollen”.  It’s actually the first one I made and I think it’s my favorite.  This necklace features the gorgeous clay pansy from the prize gift.

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I had a collection of vintage glass beads that I purchased from a local bead store years ago before they went out of business.  They are among my favorite beads in my stash and I’d been waiting for something to make them sing.  This was a perfect match.  The beads are strung on wire with some small Czech glass honey beads mixed in.  I put a floral toggle clasp on the back to balance the design.  I’m so happy with how this piece came out!

I hope you’ve enjoyed a look at some fresh spring-inspired designs.  It’s been a delight to watch the flowers emerge the past few weeks and to enjoy the buzzing of bees as they visit the blooms collecting pollen to make their precious nectar.  As a side note, the photos of the jewelry were taken on pages of the book The Lost Words.  This is a fabulous book that highlights beautiful words from nature that are being lost from our vocabulary as we spend less and less time in the natural world.  Filled with stunning illustrations and whimsical poems, this book is a magical feast for the senses and imagination and I highly recommend it!

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

 

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Gift #1158: Happy Easter

Happy Easter everyone!  Here in my neck of the woods we’ve had a picture-perfect day.  After two days of cold temps and rain and wind, today dawned mild and beautifully sunny.  Bright blue sky and flowers have kept company all day and birdsong has filled the air.  It’s been joyous to watch the world come back to life as we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ today and rejoice in hope of the new life He provides.

As per usual, on Easter I share a song which is meaningful to the day.  This is a song we learned at our church about a year or two ago.  I’ve loved it since first hearing it and it’s the song we closed out our worship service with this morning.  I actually was already planning to use this song, but hearing it today made it extra special.

“Jesus Christ My Living Hope” 

How great the chasm that lay between us
How high the mountain I could not climb
In desperation, I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night
Then through the darkness, Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished, the end is written
Jesus Christ, my living hope
Who could imagine so great a mercy?
What heart could fathom such boundless grace?
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame
The cross has spoken, I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior, I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ, my living hope
Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope
Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope
Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me
Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me
Jesus, Yours is the victory!
Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope
Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope
Jesus Christ, my living hope

This song is dear to my heart because it depicts Jesus as a roaring lion.  Everyone has a unique way they view Jesus, but for me He has always been a lion.  The terrible and tender lion whose paws hold my life and his warm breath gives me life.  My image of God was born of young years through the reading of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.  The great lion Aslan from these books deeply impacted my life and still to this day, has formed the clearest image of how I view and relate to God.  In the words of Lewis:  “Of course He isn’t safe!  But He’s good.  He’s the King!”

So today we celebrate the Roaring Lion who has conquered sin and death, rendered the grave powerless, and called us to Himself.  His resurrection offers us the security of knowing we also will rise in His name and His sacrifice assures us that His love is everlasting.

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Happy Easter blessings to you,
Sarah
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