Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hello, April...

...such a tumultuous, topsy-turvy month. I'm gearing up for the first of five (I think, maybe it's six) events in three months, things are alternately blooming and hiding because our weather has been so unseasonably warm and then briskly chilly, and my - excuse me, our sixteenth wedding anniversary was last Friday.

From one of my morning walks last week. Georgia at its most colorful...from late March through early May. :)

As usual, life is in a bit of an uproar.

We did manage to get away this year, and celebrate the anniversary in Highlands, NC, just over two hours from Roswell. One of our favorite mountain towns here in the Southeast; it reminds me the most of Prescott, AZ. Downtown charm, good food, friendly folks. And of course, all that gorgeous mountain scenery. Of which we didn't really get to see. Because we didn't hike the falls, climb the gorges, take the photos...because it was DAMN COLD. Like 39 degrees, with 25 mph gusts. Brett is always hot and was quite happy in this weather. I, on the other hand, run very cold and was FREEZING for most of the weekend.

We made the most of it though, doing some teriffically yummy dining  and drinking, and buying some small treasures for the home. A pair of candle holders, a photo of a mountain vista to frame and hang, a small Raku vessel to complement one we already have...bits and pieces of art and decor are finding their way home to Roswell:

I got a little carried away with the closeness of the camera, but this is our newest ceramic piece from Harry Hearne, an NC potter whom I first met (and purchased from) at the Tennessee Craft festival in September of 2014. Purchased from Smitten

A small indulgence for my bath time. These are so ridiculously fantastic smelling. Especially that prosecco bellini...

A cool weathered-looking pot for Brett's ever-expanding collection of plants. From C K Swan

These will be so much fun with tealights inside. :)  From The Summer House

And now it's studio time, all the time, until next Friday when I head to Melbourne, FL for the Melbourne Art Festival. I'm currently mid-process with....well, a LOT of things. As is usually the case right before a festival. It seems like no matter how much I work on designs, there's still that week-before-the-show-I-just-don't-have-enough-finished craziness...I'll be working on finishing designs straight through next Thursday. And then..look out Florida! I'm coming back! :)

Friday, March 4, 2016

No Mud, No Lotus

Last week, after three weeks of running - Florida, Arizona, Florida again - I crashed. Hard. My husband even got sick (AND he has an amazing immune system - AND he didn't do the AZ leg of that trip) and while I was sniffly, I managed to mostly avoid a bad cold. But I was WIPED, both physically and mentally. 

So I did what my body told me it needed - after more than twenty years with Fibromyalgia, I have learned that if I don't, things will be even worse - and rested. But...I did not enjoy it. Because when I rest, I tend to start getting "head stuff". The hack voice, the noise that says you're no good, you'll never be any good, everyone is doing much better, more complex, more exciting work than YOU are...I could go on but I suspect most of you know this voice very well. 

And then I thought about the lotus. 

I have to say that for years I thought the Om-y people, the Yoga girls, who were all about the lotus were....well, lotus-freaks. I'm all for Zen and calm and betterment. But for a while there, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the lotus / Yoga / Om "stuff" was everywhere, and I got tired of being smacked in the face with it. 

But then, years later (maybe when I was ready for it, hmm?), I came across the phrase, "No mud, no lotus". The first time I ever read that, it felt like someone had shouted "EUREKA!" into my ear. It just clicked. The lotus begins in the muck, in a swampy pond, and grows into a singularly lovely bloom. In Buddhist culture it represents spiritual awakening and enlightenment. I think of it often, as I am pushing through my own muck. 

We all go through ups and downs, and you just have to work through the downs until you find yourself up again. Whether that's resting your body when it hurts, or pushing into new designs, or taking a mental break, scheduling a massage...maybe just a few hours with a good book and a hot tea. For me, this time, it was about a week of literally nothing. 

So I'm at the end of another long week..but a week made possible by the one before it. Some lovely new works are in process. And I've pushed through the "head stuff" (for the moment) and am still moving toward my goals. For some weeks...that's more than enough.  :)

I hope you are in a good place for this weekend! 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Tucson 2016

I'm back and (mostly!) recovered from the annual Tucson Gem Show visit. And it was wild and wooly like it is every year. Though this year was maybe a little less crazier than normal. ;)

I traveled later in the show's duration than I normally due, because of a conflict during the first week of the show. And I didn't like that one bit. I felt like I'd missed out on a lot of things that I was looking for; several of my regular gem sellers didn't have much - "much" being a relative term, of course - for my discerning eye. Next year I'll be back on the opening weekend to grab all the lovely goodies I can manage. ;)

But I didn't come home empty, by any means. I've already shared several photos of my finds on Instagram and on Facebook, but I've got some more / better shots now that I'm home, and here you get to really see some of the marvelous things I found:

"More druzy" was definitely on my list. I'd started working with some last year, and small pendants like the one below were well received. I didn't find any more of the blue druzy, but I did get a lot of silvery (titanium) druzy.

I bought some bigger sizes - probably the most often-asked question of 2015 was, "Do you have any BIGGER druzy?" - and I think some of these will work quite well in my specialty neckpieces, like this one:

I'm enjoying creating these larger statement necklaces and druzy is a great way to get some sparke into the designs without using faceted gems. :)

And then I bought some REALLY big druzies. These will be interesting to design with and more of a challenge to set, but they are really, really grand gems and I can't wait to play with them.

And then there were *these* druzies. Love the effect of the druzy intermixing with the host rock! The top one almost looks like a crystallized lava flow, and the bottom one reminds me of going caving and seeing the stalactites / stalagmintes below the earth. What fun!

But it wasn't *all* crystal-y goodness this year. In fact, you might say I went the opposite direction on some of my purchases. These are lodolite quartz, sometimes known as "garden quartz" because of the lush plant-like inclusions) and they are cut to be very "in depth" to bring out the colorful inclusions within the stone with an almost 3-D effect. I'm slowly building a small collection of these, and was pleased to find some stunners at the gem show:

And of course I did manage to buy some blue / green gems. I have so many of these in lovely, rich color patterns. My soul adores bold colors! So even though I was not "supposed to" buy any more...I found just a few that I couldn't resist.

This is one of those that just HAD to come home with me. Azurite chrysocolla. which up close, looks like the waters on a Capri vacation (not that I've ever been, but it looks like what I *imagine* it would be...the sea, the spa, the cliffs....which may be even better than the reality). :)

And of course some labradorite. I LOVE labradorite. And I HATE buying it. Because you have to hold each one up and see where and how it flashes. Some labradorite is great from a horizontal perspective (like if you're looking down onto a ring or bracelet) and some is great from a vertical perspective. So a stone that can look marvelous for a pendant, will look gray and dead if you try to put it in a ring. It takes me a long time to pick out labradorite. But then I am exceptionally happy once they've been selected and are at home with me. :) The color is off in this shot on the teardrop at bottom right because of the angle, but I promise it's going to make a great pendant!

I also bought a few - just a few - rougher, non-cabochon items. I want to incorporate more texture into my work with the gems, and while I love the smooth cabochons, sometimes a little variation is good. These are aquamarine nuggets. Aquamarine happens to be one of the gems I think has a lot more personality in a rough cut than all smooth and polished.

Also a little "rough around the edges" - a couple of amethyst stalactites. These are from actual stalactites that form on cave ceilings. They're lovely and unusual. I took home just two. :)

And now, it's time to get working in the studio again. I'm off to Miami next week for my second art festival of the year, so it'll be down to the wire to get more designs made before I leave. Hope you enjoyed the eye candy today though! I'll share some more as time permits. :)