Saturday Morning Tea

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On this cool, rainy almost Spring morning, I am sipping a Ceylon (Sri Lanka) black tea from the Tea Bank estate. The tightly twisted leaves in the “spider leg” style are not characteristic Ceylon nor is the flavor. It reminds me more of a China black tea.

Tea growing in Sri Lanka was started in the late 1800s by a Scottish gentleman by the name of James Taylor. Up until that time, coffee was the number one crop until a rust fungus killed the majority of coffee plants. Starting with a basic tea cultivation knowledge learned in Northern India and 19 acres of land, he soon turned a small business into a very successful one, selling his tea for the first time at the London auction by 1873.

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Even after a full 5 minute steep in boiling water, the leaves are still tightly curled. The aroma is darkly sweet, like a winey Keemun. The liquor is very dark, almost like black coffee, with rich notes of vanilla and caramel.

This would be an excellent choice for anyone switching from coffee to tea. Time for another cup!

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My February Beaded Journal Page

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My February page is finished. In honoring of relationships and love, my page symbolizes what happens when 2 people love and nourish each other. Their hearts touch and a beautiful silver river flows from one heart to the other and back again in a continuous flow of love, sharing and nurturing.

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Shooting the page in the sun reveals brighter color and texture.

Originally, my plan was to bead the background but I love the pattern of this fabric too much to bead over it. It’s like a fireworks celebration and so colorful. In my Synergy class, “Unconventional Polymer”, Karen Woods suggested looking for inspiration for your polymer art in fabric and textiles. Wouldn’t this fabric pattern make fabulous canes?

ACC Show and Synergy Wrapup

There were over 700 artist vendors participating in the ACC Show at the Baltimore Convention Center a couple of weeks ago. Since we were a little pressed for time because we were meeting friends for dinner, we walked the show in an hour and fifteen minutes. There were so many beautiful art pieces that caught my eye but I could only stop and savor a few.

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Carol Owen creates “Spirit Houses” from all sorts of ephemera and mixed media. “My Spirit Houses are shrines to family memories. They make sacred those shards of the past that have made us what we are.” I found myself so drawn to these little shrines, wanting to open the doors and peer inside. In our dreams, the house can be a symbol for ourselves and each room a different aspect of who we are. So, I think I loved her work so much because it reminded me of my dreams. I love this quote from her website:

“Every spirit builds itself a house, and beyond its house, a world, and beyond its world, a heaven. Know then that a world exists for you.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Karen Smith creates jewelry combining fiber, stones and metal. I found myself very drawn to her work because it reminded me of ancient tribal pieces. It spoke to something very deep within as I gazed upon the rich weavings encasing gorgeous stones. I was so disappointed to see that she doesn’t have a website or a blog because I wanted to read more about her work. I am so intrigued by the idea of incorporating fiber into jewelry pieces.

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Kimberly Willcox makes the most amazing sculptures, as described on her business postcard “A Contemporary Spin on Primitive Form”. She shares with us: “My goal is to create a unique art form that shares a seamless integration between the world and the human spirit.”

I think that she accomplishes her goal quite wonderfully. Her sculptures seems to incorporate all sorts of materials including but not limited to wood and metal. I wonder what she uses to sculpt her faces.

To see the work of more ACC artists, you can read my friend, Amy’s, account here.

So, that concludes my account of all of my experiences at the 2008 Synergy Conference.

A huge thank you to all of the fabulous artists who worked so hard to make this event come true!

My Freeform Beaded Amulet Bag

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about a freeform peyote bracelet I created and referenced an amulet bag I had created years ago that inspired the bracelet. Here is the amulet bag. I did some experimenting with hanging the bag within my light tent. My kit came with some hanging clips so I hung the bag from the clips so I could take a photo with the fringe hanging naturally and freely. The sea glass I encased on the front of the bag was found on a beachcombing expedition when I visited Maui a couple of years ago. I added that on after the bag was finished. The ceramic fish and seahorse beads were purchased during a trip to Nantucket.

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The strap is done in a spiral stitch. It took many hours to finish the bag over the course of 4 years, working on and off during a challenging time in my life. So, the freeform peyote technique and its meditative qualities will always represent healing to me. Maybe that is why I’m drawn to it so much.

My Synergy Purchases

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I totally love these earrings! I purchased them at the Synergy Gallery where over 80 amazing polymer clay artists displayed and sold their creations. My gift to myself. They were created by Sarah Shriver with her fabulous kaleidoscope cane technique. The cane design is so organic, like ferny tendrils. As I was taking the photos of my Synergy purchases, I noticed an interesting color theme going on.

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These Stewart Gill paints match the earrings. I purchased the earrings first so I must have had those great colors in my mind when I picked out these paints. And this Amaco Fun Wire.

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I can’t wait to play!

Saturday Morning Tea

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The first month of spring has entered on a wintry note as we are experiencing a blast of snow here in New England. This morning I am sipping a cup of Darjeeling black tea from the Arya estate called Arya Ruby.

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Located in the lower range of the Himalayan mountains in northeast India, the Darjeeling district is home to many tea estates or “gardens” and is famous for the beautiful tea it produces. Called the “champagne of tea”, Darjeeling tea is prized for its delicate aroma and “muscatel” flavor notes. The Calcutta Tea Association defines the “muscatel” flavor as being “reminiscent of vineyards”, meaning a flavor like grapes and wine.

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I was in awe as I gently smoothed the large, intact leaves out on my dish. I have read that this tea is produced from superior clonal bushes, meaning that they start a new tea plant from the cuttings of tea bushes that have produced remarkable teas. I believe that most of the tea bushes grown in Darjeeling originated from China bushes, called China “jat”.

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The aroma of the dry leaf is very nutty. Since the leaf is so big, I used 2 teaspoons per cup (6 oz.) and steeped for 3 minutes in boiling water. The flavor is very characteristic Darjeeling with the fruit, muscat flavor note. I just finished my first cup so it’s time to go make another cup. It’s still snowing…

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