Live, Laugh, Love

I recently finished 2 bracelets that were commissioned as a gift for a couple to celebrate their recent marriage.

I found it a great challenge to create something for someone whom I’ve never met and don’t know at all. That said, I was given some great info and background on the couple, including one of their favorite phrases.

I stamped the phrase onto 2 copper charms I cut out, to create a link between the 2 bracelets. As you can see, I also used similar beads to further link the two.

Can you tell which one is for her and which one is for him?

Playing with Wire


I’ve been fascinated with wire for as long as I can remember.

I love its versatility and strength for jewelry making. You can bend it into shapes, use it for connections and wrap it around beads. And it’s such an accessible form of metal, requiring only a few simple hand tools to manipulate into a beautiful creation.

When I was visiting my son and his family in Albuquerque last November, we visited a LBS, Mama’s Minerals. It was a good thing that Brendan was with me or I would have become lost in the vortex of bead lust, putting myself into extreme debt and not being able to close my suitcase! If you’re ever in Albuquerque in search of beads, I recommend a stop at this amazing store.

Anyway, we had decided to create a bracelet for my SIL for Christmas and it was up to Bren to choose the beads. I love his choice, don’t you? Before he started his quest, I gently suggested beads that had a southwest feel to them and these Saturn jasper beads he chose, in bands of turquoise and brown, are just perfect.

I love the look of the antiqued, coiled wire against the striking banding in the stone.

Shortly after I came home, I picked up Kerry Bogert’s book, Totally Twisted: Innovative Wirework & Art Glass Jewelry, at the library and became enchanted with Kerry’s colorful wire designs. I chose the project on page 88, “Framed”, for the bracelet.

You can’t really tell from the photos but the wire coils are made from copper wire and the wire wraps on the beads, as well as the clasp, are made from sterling silver wire. I love the look of mixed metals and silver and copper are my favorites.

This was a great project to hone my wireworking skills, especially for wire coiling. I used a tiny double pointed knitting needle for that job.

I love this design so much that I think I’m going to make a bracelet for myself now! I have the beads picked out already – round coins of earthy Owyhee jasper. This is a great description I came across recently – “soft earthy colors of clay, teal, sage, brick, sand, umber with brush strokes of bark brown”. Wow.  It’s a beautiful picture jasper, mined in southern Idaho/eastern Oregon.

When I was a kid, I owned a well thumbed, dog-eared copy of a pocket-sized rocks and minerals book. I used to pour over that book for hours…I just love rocks.

Saturday Morning Tea

This past week has been sooooo cold here in New England and it’s not even officially winter yet. Yesterday morning brought single digits temps to our area. Brrr… 10 more days til Winter Solstice and the longest night of the year. I’ve often thought about how our early ancestors must have felt, experiencing the growing darkness and not knowing that it would eventually recede and the lighter days would come back again. No wonder there was much celebration at this time of year, honoring the Return of the Sun.

Ok, on to tea. My morning tea is an Oolong from China, appropriately called Eastern Beauty with its gorgeous full leaf and amazing honeyed aroma.

Back in August, I dedicated the whole month to Oolong, or Wulong, teas. You can start reading about this wonderful type of tea here.

I steeped the tea leaves for 4 minutes in 180 degree F water.

The intense honey aroma greeted me as I poured my first cup. Mmmm….

I love how the color of the liquor reflects the distinct aroma of this tea.

So warm and inviting.

The flavor is silky smooth with notes of honey and flowers and a hint of chestnut in the finish. At this gift buying time of year, a sample of this tea would make an exquisite gift for the Oolong lover on your list. I know that it’s going in a few of my stockings.

You’ve probably noticed the amazing art paper I’ve used as a background today. My dear friend, Amy, found it during her recent trip to Italy. Over dinner the other night, she told us how when they discovered the shop that her husband knew she would be in there for awhile. I’m honored with her beautiful gift. Thanks Amy!

I know that I’ve been sorely neglecting the “art” part of my blog these past months. During this busy time of year, it’s been so challenging to get any kind of time in my studio. What I have been up to though is gift making with my pointy sticks to bring warmth to heads, necks and hearts. My goal in the new year is to get back to my art and sharing it with all of you.

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

K is for Kindness

I’ve received the most wonderful gift from my dear friend, Judy, an artist who creates amazing mixed media art including personalized wooden letters. You can read more about her “love letters” here.

My “K” now hangs above the door to my studio, watching over me as I work. I am so blessed to have my art friends who constantly enrich my life with their inspiration and support.

Speaking of artists and inspiration, I’ve recently joined the 2010 Creative Everyday Challenge, a group of artists committed to doing something creative everyday whether that is cooking, painting, knitting, composing a song. It’s a very low pressure commitment with no performance deadlines, however, there are suggested monthly themes to get the creative juices flowing. If you’d like to find out more information about this challenge, just click on the button in my sidebar.

This weekend is going to be a very creative one. I’m taking a workshop at the Lexington Arts and Crafts Center in Lexington, MA. The workshop is on polymer clay mokume gane, a technique I’ve long been enamored of, given by Julie Picarello. I’m so excited!

As I have to leave for the workshop early in the morning, my Saturday Morning Tea post will be postponed until next Saturday. I’m looking forward to sharing a cup of tea with you then and also sharing my adventures in polymer clay!

“We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.”

~Maya Angelou


Saturday Morning Tea

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Between work and visiting with my granddaughter, this past week has flown by. The almost daily rain pattern has finally left us and it’s felt more like summer these days. The air was even quite brisk this morning when I got up, a reminder that summer is winding down towards the fall. Even though August is a rich month full of color and harvest, it always makes me feel a little bit wistful.

This morning’s tea is quite the treat – a very high grade of Oolong Extra Fancy tea from Taiwan. Its leaf is very large and twisted, all processed by hand. After steeping, many of the leaves unfurl to reveal a whole, intact structure. This style is often referred to as “Champagne Oolong” and I can see why.

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Using 190 degree F water, I steeped the leaves for 4 1/2 minutes. Because the leaf is so large, I used 3 generous teaspoons for my small teapot.

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My oldest son gave me this beautiful leather journal. Isn’t it yummy? I love to write down my daily thoughts as I sip my tea.

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My glass teapot glows like an amber jewel in the early morning light. A light floral aroma drifts up, sweetening the cool air.

As I slowly sip from my cup, I taste juicy ripe peaches, warm in the sun, and a honeyed wine note fills my senses. Mmmmm…

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I invite you to read about other Oolong teas I’ve enjoyed and reviewed here.

This weekend I hope to get more granddaughter time in before they return home on Tuesday. I think that this picture from our zoo trip yesterday says it all – one joyful gramma!

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“If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”

~Rachel Carson

Saturday Morning Tea

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My daughter gave me a lovely bouquet of tulips for Mother’s Day. This morning I was cutting the stems down and rearranging them in a vase when a petal fell onto the kitchen counter. It cradles this morning’s tea, a Tie-Guan-Yin Oolong called Special Tribute.

There is a legend regarding how this particular Oolong came into being. Many years ago in Fujian Province in China, a poor tea farmer named Mr. Wei would walk by a temple everyday on his way to the tea fields. As each day passed, he noticed that no one cared for the temple so it was becoming quite run down. Inside he found a statue of Guan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. He did not have the means to fix up the temple but he felt that something needed to be done. One day he brought his broom and some incense. He lit the incense as an offering to the Goddess and swept the temple clean. That night Guan Yin came to him in a dream and told him of a cave where he would find a beautiful treasure for himself and to share with others. The treasure turned out to be a tea shoot which Mr. Wei planted and nurtured into a large tea bush, producing the finest tea in the region. He shared cuttings with all his neighbors and started calling the tea produced from this bush Tie-Guan-Yin. Mr. Wei and all his neighbors prospered and were able to restore the temple to its beauty and many came to gather there. Now Mr. Wei felt joy everyday as he passed the temple on the way to his tea fields.

Isn’t that just a lovely story?

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I steeped the rolled leaf for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. It relaxed a little after steeping but, for the most part, still kept its curly appearance.

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The pale yellow liquor is smooth and slightly sweet with nutty, woodsy notes and a hint of floral in the finish.

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I enjoyed my cuppa with the last of the blackberry crumble I made the other evening. Crumble is so easy to make and you can substitute your favorite fruit. Mix 1/2 cup each of rolled oats, brown sugar, and flour with a teaspoon of cinnamon. Then cut in 1/4 cup of butter until it’s crumbly. Place your choice of fruit (about 2-4 cups, soaked in sugar beforehand, if you wish) in a baking dish and sprinkle the crumble over it. Bake at 350 until browned. In my oven, it took about 25 minutes. Mmmmm….

“Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people.  Forget yourself.”

~Henry Miller

Studio Wednesday

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Last Sunday I spent some time working in my studio on my latest freeform bracelet. I feel so much joy working in this way. Listening to the beads and letting my creativity flow and synch up with their special rhythm.

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Many different sizes of beads placed  and fit together to create something new and unique.

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Bridges are formed from one side to the other. Texture is added to give the piece dimension.

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Today is a very special day. 25 years ago I received a wonderful gift when my daughter, Aimee, was born.  Happy Birthday, Aim! We both took the day off from our respective workplaces and spent the day shopping and having a great lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. It was so much fun just being together. I feel renewed.

A daughter is a day brightener and a heart warmer.

~Author Unknown