Gift #1137: Art Elements Sept. Challenge

The end of the month means wrapping up lots of monthly challenges.  In addition to Art Bead Scene, I also participated in Art Elements monthly challenge because the theme was fairies!  The challenge is open to all art mediums and interpretations and so I had fun exploring several of my creative outlets for this inspiration.  Like many, I grew up with fairytales and stories of the “wee folk” that captured my imagination and played an important role in shaping my personality and the way I view the world.  My childhood days were filled with dreaming and creating fairy tales of my own and to this day my favorite stories are from that genre.  They are at once comforting and foreboding; familiar yet foreign.  And even as the stories pull you into a world of magic and adventure unlike our own, they are written to root you firmly in this world and teach truth about how to live wisely.

However much I love stories about fairies, I must, in truth, confess that I envy them.  They were the blessed creatures who could live as I’d always dreamed too – making homes in mushrooms and tree trunks, flying through the forests and dancing with leaves, skimming the surface of rivers and resting on dandelion puffs.  And most of all, they wore clothes of leaves and flowers decorated with sparkly strands of spider webs and curly toed shoes.  Sigh…  such a life!

For many long years I have wanted to make fairy houses.  At the beginning of the year I joined a clay studio near my home and took classes in basic throwing and hand building.  It wasn’t long before I set my sights on creating fairy houses and I’ve completed a couple now.  It is so fun to design the shape of the houses, the roofs, how to decorate them, etc.

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This is the second fairy house I made (the first is on display as part of a Fairy Tour in my town).  It has a simple shape, which was easy to build, and a dormer window to add some charm.   If I were a fairy, I would love a dormer window, a turret, and a wonky chimney.  Oh and of course, a rounded door.

My next house has a more rounded base and something of a witch hat shaped roof.  I made the house with a cobblestone texture which I glazed gray.  The roof practically screamed that it wanted to be purple, and I agreed.  This one has plain windows accented with wooden shutters and large leaves decorating the house, to give the idea of topiary trees.  I’m in love with the roof, did I mention that?

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In mid-September my mom and I took a class at the studio to make pumpkin cottages.   They just finished their bisque fire and are waiting to be glazed, but you can see how charming they’re going to be.  Mine is on the left and my mom’s is on the right.  I can’t wait to finish these and display them as Halloween decorations.  Each house has a hole in the bottom so I can put in a tea light and they can flicker with delicate charm in the evenings.

I’m an avid rubber stamper and have quite a few stamps in my collection that are inspired by fairies.  Below are a few cards I’ve made celebrating the enchantment of fairyland.

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As part of this month’s challenge, I also wanted to create a few items that I could wear to channel my inner woodland fairy.  I had this charming little fairy door in my collection and I paired it with wire-wrapped beads and glass leaves to make a necklace that would be at home on the neck of any fairy.

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I finished off the necklace with lengths of green and bronze ribbons to give an earthy forest-feel to the piece.  On the inside of the door and layered with mica, I printed the first stanza of one of my favorite Tolkien poems:  “The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began”.

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My last project for the challenge was to create a woodland crown.  I found a headband with fuzzy deer ears and antlers at Michaels for Halloween dress-up.  It was covered in big, pink flowers, but I instantly loved it.  It’s long been a secret desire of mine to wear antlers and be a fawn.  I pulled off the flowers and redecorated the headband with acorns, pinecones, fall leaves, and berry clusters.

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It looks like something any fairy would love to wear on autumn solstice.   I’m hoping to be brave enough to wear it a few times during Halloween season.  And of course, I’ll wear it often when I’m by myself sitting out near the forest that backs up to the yard.  Perhaps if I’m wearing it, the little fairies that make their home in the forest will come out to introduce themselves and we’ll become friends.

Thanks for taking a romp with me through fairyland and my creative imaginings of their world.  May you be inspired to bring a touch of magic and whimsy to your world too.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

This is part of a blog hop and if you’ve liked what you’ve seen here, check out the postings of these talented artists.

Guest Artists
Cat 
 
Art Elements Team
 
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Gift #1136: September Art Bead Scene Challenge

It’s coming along fall in my neck of the woods now – my favorite season.  The weather has cooled down to the 60s-70s and it’s glorious.  Trees are showing glowing patches of color at random intervals in the landscape.  I have mixed feelings about tree color this early in fall.  Part of me is giddy that fall is coming and the other part doesn’t want it coming too soon.  Fall is to be savored and adored for all that it offers.  I love fall so much.  Each year it feels like I come alive at autumnal equinox.  This year the official start of fall just slipped by without me hardly taking notice.  There’s been a lot going on and I’m so exhausted that I’ve just been in survival mode.  This makes me upset with myself because there’s so much of the world to enjoy and appreciate, especially at autumn, and I want to be wide open and receptive to all the ordinary miracles that surround us.  In a daily devotional I read “our days are full of wonders”.  This is a true and beautiful statement and one I feel I’ve rather lost sight of.  I’ve been trying to move back to this attitude of delight by spending some time each evening on creative work (rather than staring in a daze at the wall until time for bed).  I’ve been working on several knitting projects, going to the clay studio, developing some top-secret projects, and designing jewelry for the September Art Bead Scene challenge.. and of course day-dreaming of future projects.

Here’s the artwork for our month: “The Actress as Cleopatra” by Arthur Beecher Charles, painted 1914.

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We weren’t given any background about the artwork or the painter, so I had to consult “The Great Wikipedia”.  In response to my query, Wiki informed me that Charles was an American modernist painter.  Born in Pennsylvania, he studied fine art in the early 1900s, then predictably moved to France to further his craft and befriend other famous painters.  And he also predictably painted nudes in bright colors.  An art historian praises him as “one of the most brilliant colorists in the history of American art”

The colors were what drew me in to this piece.  I loved the use of watery blues, purples, and turquoise that saturate this portrait.  I also appreciated the Art Deco style.  What I created is inspired by the color palette with highlights of antique brass.

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The starting point for the necklace was the fabulous pendant by Grubbi Ceramics.  I’d been fretting about what to design, since the subject matter is not my style.  Then I remembered this pendant and decided to focus on the colors and just let the style go.  I ended up with a nature-inspired theme (shocker!) that I call “Garden at Twilight” that is full of dark blues, purples, shadowy florals, and pops of turquoise and brass.  The ornate bead caps and brass ring inject just a hint of Art Deco to the piece.  I just love the way the colors move and transition through the necklace.  The necklace is comprised of ceramic beads, shell discs,  purple Czech glass flowers, and stone rondelles.  The blue stones are mottled with brown streaks – they are a bead store find and I don’t know the name of the stone, but it’s practically luminescent.

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The earrings are assembled with the same blue stones, polymer clay beads by Humblebeads, and more cut glass flowers.  The flowers have a turquoise patina in the centers which brightens them and ties in with the other materials in the jewelry design.

The design, bead selection, and layout took a long time to put together as I struggled to find the right balance of elements from the portrait that would be translatable into my style.  Oftentimes I get frustrated because jewelry designs don’t drip from my fingers within minutes.  Most of the time it involves pulling out beads and looking at them together over a period of days, changing out items, and rearranging them until I think the design works.  But the waiting is part of the creative process and I do need to remember to think of it that way.  This one was worth the extra time it took for the design to come to fruition.  As the nights creep in ever earlier and cast shadows on the fading gardens of fall, I’ll embrace the changing of seasons and continually work to translate the beauty of nature into my creations.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

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Gift #1135: August Art Bead Scene

Well we’ve made it to Sept 1st.  At this point, I consider it officially fall.  I’m ready to be surrounded by pumpkins and fall leaves, cuddled in sweaters and knitted shawls, and ready for long crisp walks in the woods.  Ideally it should stay Autumn from now till mid-January (that’s about the time that I’ll concede fall is over).  Have I mentioned that I love fall?  I heralded it in last night with the first official viewing of “Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”  Yesterday and today I’ve been busy searching for leaves with traces of fall colors in them.  And yes, I have found some.  But before we leave summer for the glories of fall, I wanted to share what I’d been making for the Art Bead Scene.

The folks at Art Bead Scene gave us a happy surprise when they announced that we’d extend the July challenge through August (they needed a break too).  I had already made my jewelry for July, but since I enjoyed the artwork I decided to have another go during August.  For our inspiration we had this awesome illustration by Ernst Haeckel entitled “Art Forms in Nature, Plate 85, Ascidiae.

During his lifetime, this natural historian created over 100 published illustrations of animals and sea creatures.  This one is just stunning.  Ascidiae are a class of marine invertebrate filter feeders, more commonly known by the charming name “sea squirts”.  They are found all over the world and (as beautifully illustrated) are incredibly diverse, not only in anatomy but also in behavior – they range from solitary to community species.  Larvae are free-swimming but then they settle on a happy home and secrete adhesives to make their choice permanent and they metamorphose into adult physiology, like the type depicted in the central illustrations.  As a biologist, I find that they can reproduce sexually and asexually pretty fascinating.  They play important roles in the marine environment by filtering out toxins from the water, and thus serve as indicator species of the ecosystem’s health.  And they are an important food source for a multitude of other species.  I find these creatures fascinating and this illustration an incredible source of inspiration.  The colors, textures, shapes, and patterns are exquisite.

In July, I worked on my first interpretation of this artwork.

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I don’t have very many art beads that are as ornate as these little creatures, but I had ordered these polymer discs a while back from SummerWind.  I had originally planned for a Moroccan theme with these, but after I saw the inspiration for July/Aug, I thought the complex patterns mimicked the sea squirt illustrations.  I wanted a simple, casual necklace – something suited to wading on the beach and exploring tidepools.  The three charms are linked together with Dumortierite bead and tiny spacers.  Instead of using chain, I braided a length of brown cotton cording for the body of the necklace.  Lucet braiding was a technique I learned last fall on a retreat with Heather Powers of Humblebeads Studio.  It’s a relaxing technique that utilizes a two-pronged fork.  The hardest part is stopping to check when you’ve got a long enough braid – I went at least two inches over because I was just enjoying it so much.

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Earrings use some smaller matching charms, with the stone rounds and spacers.  This set is a bit plain and casual from what I usually do (note the absence of a bird or leaf) but it did feel beachy and summery.

When the  challenge was extended through August, I decided to take another go at this illustration.  This is quite a useful way to encourage creativity – to create multiple pieces from the same source of inspiration.  By this time, I had ordered a couple of ceramic beads by the artist Golem Beads and that served as my starting off point for this necklace.

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You can see I’m back into familiar territory here – note the presence of both a bird and a leaf.  A few weeks earlier Humblebeads had posted a Bead Table Wednesday project using a selection of art beads and I ordered a kit.  One evening I needed something soothing to do and put it together.  I liked the design so much that I wanted to create something similar with what I had on hand in soft aqua tones.  A Humblebeads bird is paired with a lovely Golem bead.  It’s pattern is reminiscent of that on the Ascidiae illustration.  I dangled an aqua-enameled leave from Gardanne Enamels and tiny bird nest charm from Green Girl Studios to create the pendant.  Natural jade beads in lovely tones of brown, green, and aqua draw the eye up the necklace and it is finished off with a length of wrapped leather lace.  I love it!

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Earrings were made with tiny matching enameled leaves and jade beads.  I added a tiny silver spacer to a jump ring as a bit of interest and glimmer.  Though not particularly beach-feeling, I do really like the way this set came out.

So here are the two sets along with the inspiration.  Thanks for joining me through a two-month jewelry journey.  Tune in later in the month to see what’s in store for September!

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1134: Summer Days

Hello everyone.  I’ve been wanting to write a blog post for several days, but I have no idea what to write about.  Usually I have some topic in mind, or if not, then a set of pictures kindly presents itself for me to structure a narrative around.  But that’s not the case today.  So we’ll just see where this blog post goes together, shall we?  I’ve been busy traveling, exploring, crafting, working, thinking…  Life has been full and at times overwhelming during this month of August.  There’s been a lot to be thankful for and a lot that reminds me that I’m not in control and how dependent we are on God for everything.  I’ve spent most of this month reminding myself of His sovereignty and thanking Him for His faithfulness.  We’re on the verge of September and signs of summer wearing down are beginning to show in the landscape.  We’ve had some cool days mingled with the hot, humid summer weather, the seedpods are forming and the last of the wildflowers are blooming.

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The garden veggies are in their last moments of bounty; and though the cicadas sing loudly at night, hints of autumn are whispering beneath their chorus.  Stray leaves are starting to turn and it’s almost as if the world is holding its breath to see what happens.  I love the days of late summer when the sun drips golden over the dark foliage of the forests, when the wind is still sweet with the last of the wildflowers, and there’s a sleepy calm before the world melts into autumn colors.

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Last weekend I visited the state fair.  One of my favorite places there is the DNR exhibit.  They have a butterfly walk-through set up, fountains, and wildflower gardens which are lovely to walk through.  I enjoyed spending time here taking photographs and admiring the butterflies.  I also like to visit the goats.  And there was a special surprise this year – five little baby pygmy goats!!  Oh, they were adorable!  Hours were spent in the fine arts building admiring the talent of so many artists.  And the day was rounded out with roasted sweet corn and listening to Inkapirka, a group from Ecuador that comes each year.  I like them because they remind me of the music that natural history museums play for ambience.

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I hope you are enjoying the long golden days of summer and relishing the bounty of the season.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1133: Insects and Flowers

Insects and flowers go together so brilliantly – like ice cream and waffle cones, or like bare feet and grass,  or watermelon and picnics.  They are such happy little summer vignettes.  Just the thought of happy little insects buzzing from flower to flower, drinking nectar, and flitting in the sunlight makes me smile.  Nothing is so quintessentially summer.   Today it’s been gloomy and raining, so I found these pics I took of sun-drenched flowers while on vacation in Denver.  I hope they bring a sunny brightness to your day.

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“Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers” -Robert G. Ingersoll

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“The butterfly is a flying flower.  The flower is a tethered butterfly” – Ecouchard Le Brun

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“Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as the nectar to the tongue” – John Muir

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“There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle” – Albert Einstein

May you see the miraculous this week and marvel at the beauty around you.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

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Gift #1132: Diary of a Shawl

My first memories of existence were of excited whispers about what a beautiful shawl I would grow up to be.  My knitter would caress me when I was just skeins of yarn and tell me about how I was destined for a very special project.  I learned that I was the first in this year’s Shawl Society – hosted by the talented Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade.  My knitter was thrilled that the theme of the Shawl Society this year was The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett.  The pattern I would be knitted from was inspired by Maytham Manor, the home where the authoress lived.  As she restored the unkept gardens and planted flowers in the fallow beds, the seeds of her beloved novel were taking root in her heart.  My knitter went to great pains to find me – the perfect yarn – which would evoke feelings of roses climbing over the garden walls.

I was elated when she told me that I would be one of the projects she was taking with her to Colorado.  Though we hadn’t been together very long, I was pleased that she would be sharing her favorite places with me.  One of the first outings she took me on was to the Alpine Gardens in Vail.  While my knitter was at a conference in Keystone, Colorado we spent a lovely sun-spilled afternoon in this nearby town.  I believe she told me this was the highest garden in the world – and I believed it!  This lovely garden of evergreens, aspens, and rock outcroppings, and tiny rivers was an utter delight.  Here I am posing among some bellflowers, with the novel of course.  My knitter softly read some of the book to me while we sat together listening to the wind whisper through the aspens.  We dreamed together of the thrill of finding a forgotten garden and bringing it to life.

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After the conference, my knitter packed everything up and we went to Denver, picked up her mom, and commenced two glorious weeks of visiting all the sites and pleasures of her home town.  She announced her plan to bring me with her to all the gardens that she loved – and of course, that included the Denver Botanic Gardens!  She had told me so much about this wonderful place that I could hardly stand staying in my knitting bag when we entered its gates.

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As I saw the beautiful gardens, I was thrilled that these beautiful flowers and plantings would be part of my story.  We visited every single garden on this 40-acre spot of heaven.  She showed me all the things she loved in each garden and I began to understand what powerful things gardens are.  Whether or not they’re enclosed with stone, they are sanctuaries of the soul and a rich treasure house of beauty.  Flowers and plants are carefully chosen to create an atmosphere of peace, reflection, mystery, and enchantment.

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Here I am at the Scripture Garden – a quiet place carpeted with wooly thyme, large apricot trees, and benches positioned in the cool shade.  Icons, like the lamb I’m next to, are set in the ground, and plaques with Bible verses proclaiming God’s glory in creation stand at the entrance of this garden.  I understand that God Himself is an enthusiastic gardener.

My next stop in Denver was in the mountains.  My knitter wanted me to see the beautiful Rocky Mountains too.  Though not cultivated gardens, the mountains were full of wildflowers and trees and quiet spaces that made me think that perhaps wild lands were gardens in their own right.  She brought me to a high outcropping of granite boulders at Three Sisters Park.  She told me this park is  renown for its amazing rock outcroppings and we nestled in at the top of one for a long knitting session.  We listened to the cawing of crows, smelled the scent of old pine trees, and felt the strength of the mountains.

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I understood why my knitter loves this place so.  Before we left to continue our hike, she took my picture so we could remember this special time together.  This is me (note I have more grey on my edge now) on top of the boulder we sat against.  My knitter thought my color complemented that of the pink granite with lichen growing on it.  And since she’s so fond of these rocks, I had to pose nicely and agree that we were a perfect match.  She’s thinking about how to get these boulders back home to Indiana – I can see it in her eyes.

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Next we visited a new mountain park called Flying J Ranch.  I admired the rolling mountain meadows and shady forest groves of columbines with my knitter.  During a rest, my knitter worked more on my grey border.  You can see the arches taking shape – these are reminiscent of the decorative walls at Maytham Manor.  (My knitter says if I’m good, she’ll consider taking me to England to see the original home that inspired my design).  But for now I’m more than content to wander about the mountains.

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By the way, look at the lovely fallen tree I’m resting on.  My knitter was practically rabid in her obsession for fallen logs and pieces of bark.  She apparently loves the twisted remains of these mountain trees.  In fact more than a few times I had to wonder if she loved these branches or yarn more… hmmm…..

On our last full day in Denver I went with my knitter to her favorite mountain park – Lair o’ the Bear.  Now I’d heard a lot about this park and knew it was incredibly dear to her heart.  She whispered to me about how her family came here when they lived nearby and how she knew the trails by heart.  We went to her favorite mountain on earth – the one that lives by the Bear River.  We spent a long time with this mountain – it is an old friend of hers.  She showed me the way little plants grow up out of the rocks of the mountain, how spider webs glint in the sunlight, how lichen decorates the rocks, and I learned to love this mountain too.  My last photo was of me with the mountain.  I was delighted to find a section of granite where the grey hard rock was suddenly interrupted by a pink section of granite.  It looked just like me and I was pleased that I looked like the mountain my knitter loved.

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After returning home to Indiana, my knitter and I spent lots of quality hours together.  I was honored to have gone with her back to her homeland.  I am now part of that place – she has knit the mountains and the air and the flowers into my rows.  The pattern of the mountains has left its mark on me too.  I’m pleased that when my knitter wraps up in me, she will remember the places and things that she loves most and perhaps she will smell the mountain air when she holds me close.  I will always treasure the memories we made together in the gardens and mountains.

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This is me all grown up and finished in the verdant green garden of her backyard.  I told her Indiana is beautiful too.  Now that I’m finished, perhaps we can make more memories together in her current home too.  Though I can’t wait to go back to Colorado again.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

 

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Gift #1131: Lessons among Ruins

I had no idea that my last blog post was way back in May!  Time just seems to fly.  I spent most of June in my beloved home of Colorado.  I went out for a week for a conference for work and then stayed an additional two weeks dreaming in the mountains, wandering by streams, marveling over gardens, and exploring museums.  And eating my favorite foods… can’t forget that.  My mom and I made good use of every single moment and visited old favorites as well as searched out new places to experience.  As usual, I come back with my heart full of all we were blessed to do and grateful that we could spend time again at home.  It feels each time I go that I have never left and in many ways, my heart doesn’t.  Pine forests, columbines, prairie dogs, and aspen trees still enchant me and the roots of the mountains grow deep in my heart.  I usually use a song to summarize each Colorado trip and I knew right away when I visited a mountain park what would inspire my choice.image

One of our favorite places to hike is Mount Falcon.  And I do believe it is the most beautiful park that we frequent.  There are breathtaking views, meadows filled with wildflowers and grasses, forests scented with pine, rocky outcroppings, and moss-covered tree stumps.  This park has it all… and it has castle ruins.  The ruins are a special place to me and awake all sorts of thoughts within me as I gaze at the falling walls of stone and admire butterflies flitting about where rooms once stood.  It has a feeling of sacredness to it – a man and his family lived and loved there till tragedy struck.  It’s a place of buried dreams yes, but also a place where ashes turned to beauty.  Though the house burned, and all that’s left is rocks and walls, the man who lived here laid foundations of the park system that preserves large portions of the mountains for the public to enjoy.  Seeing the remains of his home always makes me consider what will last when we’re gone and what is worth spending our lives on.  It’s haunting and unsettling to see wildflowers and grasses growing where a kitchen was and realizing that so much of what we work for will fall to decay and ruin.  But we can also leave legacies that last for generations and that can impact more people that we can possibly imagine.

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This place reminds me of the book of Ecclesiastes, a fascinating book of the Bible written by King Solomon.  It is a discourse on life from a man who had the world at his disposal and found out what is worth keeping in light of eternity.  Many songs by one of my favorite musicians, Sting, echo these same thoughts.  Haunting lyrics of decayed cities and ancient longings stir my heart and I’ve loved this song ever since I first heard it as part of an IMAX film while living in Denver.

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A stone’s throw from Jerusalem
I walked a lonely mile in the moonlight
And though a million stars were shining
My heart was lost on a distant planet
That whirls around the April moon
Whirling in an arc of sadness
I’m lost without you. I’m lost without you
Though all my kingdoms turn to sand
And fall into the sea
I’m mad about you. I’m mad about you
And from the dark secluded valleys
I heard the ancient songs of sadness
But every step I thought of you
Every footstep only you
And every star a grain of sand
The leavings of a dried up ocean
Tell me, how much longer? How much longer?
They say a city in the desert lies
The vanity of an ancient king
But the city lies in broken pieces
Where the wind howls and the vultures sing
These are the works of man
This is the sum of our ambition
It would make a prison of my life
If you became another’s wife
With every prison blown to dust
My enemies walk free
I’m mad about you. I’m mad about you
And I have never in my life
Felt more alone than I do now
Although I claim dominions over all I see
It means nothing to me
There are no victories
In all our histories, without love
A stone’s throw from Jerusalem
I walked a lonely mile in the moonlight
And though a million stars were shining
My heart was lost on a distant planet
That whirls around the April moon
Whirling in an arc of sadness
I’m lost without you. I’m lost without you
And though you hold the keys to ruin
Of everything I see
With every prison blown to dust,
My enemies walk free
Though all my kingdoms turn to sand
And fall into the sea
I’m mad about you. I’m mad about you
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The song, and being among the ruins at Mount Falcon, are a reminder to me of what we take into eternity.  That’s where the focus of our lives should be to make them count.  Though we gain the world or lose everything, we are never lost when God’s love enfolds us.  He can create something beautiful from the ruins of our lives and can cause us to leave a legacy of love and grace that will echo on this earth long after our footsteps cease.
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Blessings to you,
Sarah
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Gift #1130: May Art Bead Scene Challenge

And here we are at the ending of another month.  Though it was late, Spring was rather fleeting ( a week or two) and we suddenly found ourselves in summer this month.  May was filled with a flurry of flower petals and has now faded to a soothing green.  This month’s painting for our Art Bead challenge was “Primavera” by Sandro Botticelli, 1478.

This is my favorite of Botticelli’s paintings.  I first was introduced to it via an art series called “Every Picture Tells a Story.”  The host, Waldemar Januszczak, uses well-known paintings to illuminate the culture, history, and meanings behind these magnificent works of art.  In the episode about “Birth of Venus”, he brings us to this painting to describe the style and some of the mythology that plays into Venus and Primavera.  I instantly fell in love with this painting.  From that show I learned that Botticelli trained as a goldsmith and would incorporate gold leafing into his artwork.  His name, Boticelli, was a nickname which means “little barrel”.  He was the youngest of several children and apparently never in good health.  His older robust brother was nicknamed “Botticello” – or large barrel because of his physique and Boticelli was so named because he was the scrawny little brother.  (It’s details like this that make watching the series a delight), especially when it focuses on medieval art.  Ever since I saw Sleeping Beauty as a little girl, it kindled a love of medieval art, especially of forest art, that continues strong to this day.  This painting is filled with features that make me ecstatic – starting with that magnificent dark forest in the background.  Oh how I love the way those trees arch and frame the scene!  The pop of color with the fruit in the tree canopy and the flowers upon the dark forest floor are vibrant and entrancing.  The dark background makes the characters in the foreground luminescent.  Medieval artists were exquisitely able to manipulate light in their works in ways that take my breath away. The fabrics are incredible and the detail throughout the painting is extraordinary.  It has served as source of inspiration and beauty for centuries.

This painting encapsulates all the beauty and mystery and enchantment that exemplifies medieval art.  Rich and opulent, it fills all the senses as you’re drawn into the scene.  These were the key words that I focused on as I planned my jewelry for this month.  I wanted to capture Boticelli’s love for gold in my necklace.  One of the jewelry techniques I’ve dabbled in during my own journey of metalsmithing is electroplating.  I have several pieces I’ve created using found organic materials and I used one of them as the focal point in this necklace.  It’s a seed pod with a delicate floral shape that’s been plated with copper and patinated with liver of sulfur for a rich, illuminated feel.  If I remember correctly, the seed pod was foraged from one of my forest walks, so it was a perfect fit with the painting.  The rest of the necklace formed by happy happenstance.

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I had the electroplated seed pod out on the table, and while I was waiting for inspiration to hit, I received a bead kit from Humblebeads with a bead soup, linen cord, and a button charm to make a wrap bracelet.  The two ended up together on my table and then it hit…. use the bead soup to make a long necklace instead of a bracelet.  I supplemented the beads in the kit with many of my own so I’d have enough to make a long enough necklace to wrap around my neck twice.  I don’t have many long necklaces like this and since it was a popular style in the medieval/renaissance period, it would match stylistically with the painting.  The bead soup was various colors of green and purple and I added in more beads in those colors, some darker ones to give it depth, some floral Humblebeads disc beads, some metallic beads for luster, and some additional leaf beads to add to the forest imagery.  I wanted it to look like something from the forest floor of the painting.  The button is a faux tin piece from Humblebeads featuring a tiny owl.  This was the perfect touch – it fit the color scheme and it’s a subtle nod again to Sleeping Beauty’s forest (the owl is one of my favorite characters)

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The necklace is designed so that when wrapped around, the owl button will be in the center of the higher strand and the electroplated seed pod will hang from the lower strand.  I had so much fun creating the bead soup and knotting the linen on this project.  I’ve not made bead soup before but it came out splendidly.  And I love the supple drape of the linen.  I’ll be making more necklaces on linen for sure.  Plus, the linen is a subtle purple shade which complements the beads beautifully.

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For the earrings, I wanted to create something equally lush and opulent.  I had two antique copper leaves that I paired with dark green/blue Humblebeads disc beads and jazzed them up with bead caps, copper spacers, and faceted green gemstones.  To add additional romance to them, I draped tiny chain behind the leaves and dangled tiny beads from my bead soup mix.  The result is perfectly medieval.

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I’m so pleased with this set and how well it captures the emotions and colors that remind me of “Primavera”.  And I have enough of the bead soup left to make a matching wrap bracelet!  I hope you enjoyed the jewelry and design process for May.  Have a wonderful, creative week.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1129: Wildflowers

There are few things in this world more enchanting to me than woodland wildflowers.  Ok, maybe pumpkins and moss…. it’s a toss-up with those three.  But wildflowers are right up on the top of the list, especially right now when the first breaths of spring blow our way.  It was a long, long winter that was really stubborn and did not want to leave.  I’m not sure what made winter so at home this year, but it took some convincing that he’d be late for his visit with the southern hemisphere if he didn’t leave.  Finally by mid-April he seemed content enough to wander off and let the other seasons have a visit.  Spring was impatient about having to wait so long to be ushered in and consequently was rushed in her attempts to paint the landscape.  After a few weeks, we already have Summer hovering at the door wondering if he can come earlier than expected for his stay.  Sigh!  What is it with these mercurial seasons?!

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One of my family’s favorite places to be is Spring Mill State Park (so much so that I’m afraid we’ve neglected the other state parks).  We have gotten into a routine of visiting 3 times a year – winter, spring, and fall.  It’s beautiful year round and each season brings its charms to the forest.  In past years we’ve gone for our spring visit in early May and most of the wildflowers are already gone.  This year our schedule allowed for a visit towards the middle-end of April.  I thought we’d have an early spring like the last few years and we’d be peak for wildflower season.

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Do to the slight confusion on the part of the seasons on their visiting schedule, Spring was late and by the time our trip drew near there was really no sign that Spring would be showing up this year and I was disappointed that we would still not see many wildflowers this year.  None of the trees had leaves at this point (in fact most just got them last week) but I was still happy to be visiting one of my favorite places and would enjoy the peaceful quiet of the forest regardless.

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However, once we started hiking,  we were amazed at the profundity of the hardy little wildflowers.  There they were – peeking out of the barely thawed ground and forging a spring out of nothing.  My heart dearly loves these precious flowers that create color and beauty out of a drab landscape.  They speak so eloquently of the secrets of life and God’s love and care.  In a world that could have been dreary and colorless, God choose instead to infuse it with seasons that would produce beauty, life, and rest in their turn and amaze us always with His creative love.

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We saw so many beautiful flowers – the redbuds were in bloom around the lake, which was stunning.  In addition we say bellwort, dutchman’s breeches (I love that name!), spring beauty, anemone, yellow wood poppies trout lilies, jack in the pulpit, and my favorites… trillium!  The forest was bursting with trillium and I made it my special mission to photograph every one I could get within range of my lens.  This made for very long hikes, let me tell you, but it was well worth it and I enjoyed saying hello to each one and telling them how beautiful they were.

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It felt like being in a fairy forest.  It was such a joy to roam the paths of wooded trees, basking in the dappled sunlight, and rejoicing in the new growth that filled the leaf-strewn ground.  These little plants emerged from the dark earth, each with their own story to tell, and announcing that spring is here again.  Welcome Spring and welcome to all the flowers that grace our gardens and forest with beauty.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1128: April Art Bead Scene Challenge

I hope you’ve all been having a good April.  Spring finally has come to my neck of the woods.  We’re in my favorite phase of spring – in which the trees flower.  The magnolia trees are at their peak and the crabapples should be opening up any time soon.  Tiny leaves are starting to peak up from the soil and bare branches.  The earth is starting to fill with color again.  And speaking of color, here’s our inspiration for April over at the Art Bead Scene

This is called “Disks of Newton” by Frantisek Kupka, 1912.  Kupka was an Czech abstract painter, and like most of his genre, spent his career enraging the critics and transforming the way we think of art.  I’ll be honest, most of the time I fall into the critic’s camp with respect to abstract art.  It’s much easier to appreciate the skill and beauty of a realistic landscape than odd blobs of paint on canvas.  However, this artist did communicate a clear tribute to Newton in his work, and since I also admire Newton, it brought us to a common place.  Although the colors are too primary and bright for my taste, I did get mesmerized by all those concentric rings of color and how they stayed distinct yet somehow bled into each other.  I was also charmed by how the center of the painting looked like an apple – nice touch Kupka.

I had many different ideas my mind played with and discarded for this challenge.  I thought about making rings of colored beads and interlocking them, as a literal interpretation, then I thought about creating something ombre, or even going crazy and trying a Victorian steampunk design with a bright punch of color – layered hammered metal rings with an art bead in the center.  I might return to such ideas when I have more energy, but they were just more experimental than I could complete right now.  There are two types of artists – process oriented and product oriented.  Process artists create just for the joy of making something; it doesn’t have to be pretty or useful at the end, it’s just the experience of playing that makes art meaningful.  Product artists create with a defined goal in mind and value their artistic output more than the process.  I’m the latter and when I create, I want to maximize the chances I’ll end up with something I’ll like and wear.  So I decided to redirect my imaginings to what I love – and right now that’s nature in her spring glory.  The way Kupka wielded color in his painting reminded me of light shifting through a forest coming alive with the promise of spring.  And so my jewelry reflects that lovely scene.

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“Woodland Walk” pulls together my favorite color palette right now and is full of things I love.  A few months ago, I discovered a ceramic artist, Grubbi Beads, who makes exquisite pendants and beads.   I placed an order and one of the sets I purchased was this lovely deer pendant with some matching ceramic beads.  You may not be able to tell from this picture, but the deer is on her way to a spring festival in the heart of the woods, and is appropriately costumed in a lovely headdress of pink flowers.  No doubt she will enjoy many hours of music and dancing and have her fill of cake.  She forms the focal point of the necklace along with coordinating ceramic beads and polymer clay floral bead by Humblebeads.  Copper ferns frame her path into the woods, and overhead the trees cascade into delicate pink flowers and new green leaves.

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“Spring in the Woods” earrings pull together elements from the necklace, with a profusion of pink blossoms.  I used more Czech glass leaves and tiny pink rounds, paired with polymer clay beads from Humblebeads and floral etched glass beads.  I decided to add some extra flair and made the earwires myself.

I’m very pleased with the set and the way it captures the jubilant promise of spring.  I think it’s perfectly suited to any forest fairy eager to celebrate the rebirth of life and love in the woods.  And now I must wander the paths of wildflowers.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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