Friday, March 30, 2012

Uptown Reptile Condos!


We always have several projects going on at our house.  Peter is building a series of custom oak cages for our lizards.  He's been designing, measuring and building them carefully.  They will have lights and heaters and meet the requirements for each kind of lizard. 
 The backs of the cages have screen on the upper half for ventilation and the lower half is a smooth board.  He wants these habitats to be realistic like those found in nature.  Since lizards love to climb around on rocks,Peter used ‘FixAll’ to create the rock texture.   I used acrylic paints to finish the rock representation. 
Painting the board to look like natures rocks

Ready to assemble



Assembled

A series of 3 cages

This morning we let Willie try it out.  A test run! We think he likes his new condo!

Willie, the bearded dragon, on his rocks


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Teaching My First Viking Knit Class


Bead-It in Prescott AZ
Viking Knit is one of the oldest wire chaining techniques and we first see it being used in the 9th century.  That must be about the time wire was being made in long enough pieces with a small enough diameter to be flexible for chaining.  It is again popular with jewelry makers and once a person learns the technique it can lead to a Zen like experience.  Basically it is using 26-30 gauge wire and making loops in a circular pattern around a dowel (or similar object) using continuous wire.  When it is finished, the tube is drawn through a series of holes, each smaller than the next, until the chain is the size you want. 
The Project
I’ve wanted to teach this technique and our local bead store, Bead-It, agreed.  We set a date and had lots of interest.  My first Viking Knit Class was a learning experience for my 7 students and for me.  Aren’t we always learning? 
The goal was to make a bracelet with Viking Knit chain and an S hook clasp from wire.  Charms were optional. All in all the class was a success and we had a good time visiting and sharing our progress.  There was time to help each student and make sure they understood the process.

 The original class was to have 5 students and last 3 hours.  As most things are flexible in my life, the class ended up having 7 students and some stayed 4 hours.  Several students actually finished the bracelet but were a little rushed.  A couple of students left with the basic idea and techniques but an unfinished bracelet.  Everyone did a great job of mastering the basic 'stitch'.

Student examples:










There are always lessons to be learned - as a teacher and as a student.  Here are some things I'll change for the next class.
Lesson one: Next time 5 students and 4 hours for the class!  No flexibility!
Lesson two:  Reminding students often that the first time we learn a new technique we will not produce a perfect product.  It was obvious to me that some of us who are perfectionists expect perfection each time we do something.  I know because I am one of those.  And that causes frustration.  I continually remind myself and will remind students that learning is fun and practice makes perfect!
Lesson three:  Each student needs their own light source.  We are all getting older and reading glasses would not hurt either!
Lesson four:  In the next class, we will take more short breaks.  Clears our eyes for fine wire work!
The good news is:  There will be a fall class and once again we will have fun learning!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Millefiori on an Ostrich Egg

Some of my canes
Books are my passion – well at least one of my passions.  When I saw Donna Kato’s book The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiori Techniques I just had to have it.  In fact, I took it to the hospital when Peter was getting his biopsy and read it cover to cover.  It is beautifully illustrated with great explanations and it made me want to try millefiori!  Millefiori is one of those words that just feel good in my mouth when I say it.
 
I tend to jump into new learning experiences with both feet and do a big project rather than starting small and working big.  It has always been a problem for me.  I did one needlepoint tapestry, drew my own pattern, and 10 years later finished it.  Never did another one.  My philosophy is: If I still like it after a big project, I’ll keep doing it. 
 
The upcoming Easter holiday gave me the idea to use one of my empty ostrich eggs and cover it with polymer clay canes.  I have several of these eggshells as they are one of a very few kind of eggs I can eat.  The eggs cost $20 each and one is equal 22 chicken eggs.  An empty shell sells for $15 so  I’m not wasting any of them!
 
I learned many things while covering this egg.  
  •  It is helpful to have a guide for patterned canes.  I am fascinated with all the patterns.
  • Keeping my hands clean is important so that the red clay color does not get into the white clay and make pink
  •  You can carefully slice a thin sheet and the original color is back again.
  •  The more you hold the piece and play with it the warmer it gets and the more you can move it.  It is also easy to get it out of shape.
  •  Eggs are not flat and the patterns need to flow in order to cover the egg shape.
  •  You need to plan ahead…both in the design and how you will cure it.
The highlight of this adventure came when I needed to bake it or cure it.  It just fit in my toaster oven that I use for polymer clay.  I found pieces of a broken shelf from my kiln that would hold it steady.  I slowly heated the small oven and got it to the correct 275 degree and noticed smoke coming out.  I unplugged the oven, opened the door and carefully took out the egg.  Yes, it burned in one place – rather badly.  Too close to the heating element.  I probably could have figured that out ahead of time but I had to try. 
Next I Googled -how to repair burnt polymer clay- and I found a paragraph about putting a layer over the existing one and curing it again.  That’s just what I did.  And this time I cured it in the kitchen oven.  Yes, I know the fumes are toxic and so I turned the fan on and the timer and left the room for 30 minutes. 
It worked beautifully and I just had to share my Easter egg with you!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our Fat-tailed Gecko Nursery


Mom and 2 eggs


Fat-tailed Geckos have large tails (hence the name) and skinny legs.  They are kind of funny looking and there are very friendly.  They have thin brown velvet like skin with a design and you need to be gentle with them.  Their tails can come off as a defense mechanism and it is where they store their fat.  The tail will be regrown but never as nice as the original.  They eat mealworms and crickets in captivity and insects in nature.  These geckos have eyelids which makes them unique in the gecko world. They grow to be 4-8 inches long and live 15 to 18 years.   
We just added a Fat-tailed Gecko nursery to our house!  It really is a 2’x2’ incubator that keeps the humidity and temperature just right for the 4 existing eggs and 2 on the way!
Peter had 4 fat-tailed geckos and he kept them separated for several years.  They were easy to care for and feed.  Now that Peter is building new cages for his animals, he decided to see if he could put them together.  He decided to  put the 3 females and 1 male together.  They got along very well hiding under their pieces of wood. 
One day Peter picked up a gecko and said, “Look, she is gravid!”  Sure enough I could see the shape of two eggs.  He put a box with damp moss in the cage and she laid her eggs.  BY this time the incubator was ready.  It is important to keep the eggs at a constant temperature and it takes about 2 months to hatch.  A few days later, two more eggs were laid (by the second female) and into the incubator they went.
Yes, the 3rd female is gravid and we are waiting for her to lay the eggs.  Wow!  What a busy guy!  I’ll keep you posted on the hatchings! 


Friday, March 16, 2012

The Junk Yard Run!!

Yesterday my friend, Kim, and I met at Kuhle’s to explore the junk yard!  Neither of us had been there and neither of us had a camera to capture all the interesting shapes and textures and materials.  But we did find Darrell who led us to the locked up room where old sheet metal to be recycled is kept.  We found a treasure trove of copper and one sheet of brass as well as several gauges of wire.  It did not take long to amass 20 pounds of metal at $5.00 a pound. 
Men are working!
One of the first questions we were asked was, “Are you just looking or are you buying?”  Having grown up with two brothers and a father who was in demolition (along with many other businesses), I knew we better be buying.  I know not to waste a busy man’s time when it is close to lunch (or any other time either!).  So we were “buying”! 
The sheet copper we bought had a natural patina, purple colors where I suppose someone tried etching, and there were a few thicknesses.  We quickly selected several pieces as Darrell kept looking at his watch.  After paying, we took our loot and Kim is dividing the wire and I divided the sheet metal and we are happy campers!
Today I went back with my camera so I could share some of the images and give you an idea of what to expect.  I asked yesterday if that would be ok.  It was and no one bothered me today as I snapped away.
Here are some guidelines if you decide to tour your local scrap yard:
1.      Wear grungy clothes and comfortable shoes.  This is a low fashion – hard work area.
2.      Take cash.  Credit cards and checks do not make these guys happy. 
3.      State your business and let them show you what they have.  Be ready to make quick decisions.
4.      Know that you are responsible for your own safety.
I’m amazed at all the stuff that can be found.  Patterns and designs from radiators for texture plates in my jewelry, Stacks of boxes, rows of pipes and i-beams and grates are great for textures and patterns.  If I ever need iron lattice for growing plants on a patio this is where I will go to find it.
I highly recommend this for a great adventure!
Don't these look like people talking?


Radiator Patterns








Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Getting Two Lifer’s in One Day!

Heather and Peter
Rusty Blackbird
Sunday Peter and I took my niece, Heather, to Phoenix to attend a conference.  We wanted to show her some of the natural beauty of our area.  Saturday we toured her around the Prescott lakes, introduced her to birding and later shopped on Whiskey Row.  Sunday we stopped in Anthem hoping to see the Rusty Blackbird, a rarity in Arizona and a lifer for Peter and I. We had been to the community lake three times before hoping to add this to our life list and this time we saw it!  Looking for one bird of a kind is always a challenge and it helped to have three pair of eyes.


Then we went to Tempe Town Lake because there was a Red-necked Grebe sighted and that also would be a lifer for me.  Tempe Town Lake is a beautiful community center.  In fact, there were three major events happening on the weekend.  We just wanted to stand on the pedestrian bridge to look for the one Red-necked Grebe! 

Red-necked Grebe

Fortunately Peter took his scope and I had my 400mm camera lens because the birds were far away . And yes we saw him.  You can feel a vibration on the bridge as people walk so picture taking is tricky!  I would have liked a little better focus in the pictures but…..

Western Grebe
There were also Western Grebes elegant with their long necks and Double-crested Cormorants drying their wings as they swam. 
Beautiful weather with a picnic later.  This is a great place to visit and bird.  We even saw a Brown Pelican flying!By the afternoon, Heather was proficient using the binoculars and learning to look for movement and detail around her.  We are hoping she does this again when she gets home to Iowa!  She has a great start for her life list!
 
 Lifer = First time a bird species is seen in nature and identified 
Life List = The total bird species seen and identified


Brown Pelican

Friday, March 9, 2012

Joy!

Joy is hearing the word BENIGN.  Peter’s tumors are benign and still need surgery but they are not a crisis.
Joy is understanding that each moment is precious and being able to take the time to enjoy it.
 
Joy is finding a pool of water in a dry creek bed.
Joy is hearing a friend’s voice when you pick up the phone.
Joy is smelling cinnamon rolls baking and retrieving memories of good times.
Joy is seeing love when I look in my partner’s eyes.
  Joy is having the surprise of a rainbow, seeing dew on cactus spines and snow on a tree filled with pink blossoms.
Joy is helping someone and learning to accept help in return.
Joy is seeing the first crocus peek out in the springtime, the first rays of morning sunshine or the first flakes of snow.
Joy is sharing knowledge.
Joy is receiving hugs and healing butterflies from someone I’ve never met as well as from my family and friends.
Joy is sharing friendship- listening, hearing and speaking from the heart.
Joy is finding just the right thing to give as a gift to surprise someone.
Joy is the realization that I make my own happiness as I experience life’s surprises.
Joy is experiencing the blessings and happiness of love.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Take the Scenic Drive!




The road curved around a mountain just outside of Superior AZ and … SURPRISE!  Wildflowers all around us – up the hillside and down the hillside; under the saguaros and next to the highway.  Breathtaking.  In fact, Peter and I had to stop and park along the highway (which is another nice thing about taking the scenic route.)  We walked among the spring flowers and took lots of pictures. 
Fortunately both of us had cameras because I lost all of mine in transferring them to my computer.  Frustrating!  But the memory of being surrounded by purples, yellows, oranges, and reds remains. 

We went to Tucson to see doctors at the University Medical Center for Peter.  Getting a second opinion on a serious illness is so important.  This one gave us hope and yes there will be surgery.  Once we have a definitive answer, intelligent choices can be made.  The first medical opinion was way too scary without enough information.  So, please, get second opinions and maybe even a third before deciding on a course of action on serious health issues. this activity . 
Vermillion Flycatcher
Our scenic drive also took us to Winkleman AZ City Park.  What a pretty site with lots of trees and a stream.  The Vermillion Flycatchers were flying about with their bright red and black colors and a couple posed for me. Spring must be close with all

Be sure to take a scenic drive and enjoy life!






Friday, March 2, 2012

Feather Breast Plate for Woodland Goddess





Feathers with beautiful textures and colors.  As an interior designer, I had access to many exotic products and one was borders of feathers.  These were feathers to sew on edges of drapery; feathers to accent exotic bed pillows; feathers to do almost anything clients wanted.  So when I retired, I kept some special samples (which have been discontinued now) and decided someday I would figure out how to use them.  Thank you Bargia for making them available! 


Yesterday I decided to try my hand at using one of the samples.  Feather jewelry intimidates me a little.  I’m afraid the feathers will come apart or fall out but these samples are sewn to a tape and look secure.  The sample feathers for this project are iridescent green with black edges.  The sample measures about 4” wide.  I looked through my beads and went to Bead-It (Prescott AZ) to see if there was anything that caught my eye.  I found a strand of beads that picked up the iridescent quality and brought them home.  Then I found some thin brass metal sheet and sat down to design. 

I love to do repousse and wanted to use it in the necklace.  I did not want to take the feathers apart since they were neatly sewn on a tape.  After experimenting and sketching a design, I made the brass plate that would hold the feathers.  I turned under all the raw edges and folded the brass in half to make it approx. 2” x 4”.  I carefully figured out where to drill holes and finished the raised design. Then I experimented with Black Max, ammonia and finally settled on patina by torch. 
The beads worked well with the feathers and brass.  As it often happens, the original design changed but the intent and the focal did not.  When I finished I knew this had to be a simple breast plate for a woodland goddess.  I can see her now dancing as the sun-shimmer brings out all the iridescence of the woods and of course, the necklace.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Uptown Reptile Condos!


We always have several projects going on at our house.  Peter is building a series of custom oak cages for our lizards.  He's been designing, measuring and building them carefully.  They will have lights and heaters and meet the requirements for each kind of lizard. 
 The backs of the cages have screen on the upper half for ventilation and the lower half is a smooth board.  He wants these habitats to be realistic like those found in nature.  Since lizards love to climb around on rocks,Peter used ‘FixAll’ to create the rock texture.   I used acrylic paints to finish the rock representation. 
Painting the board to look like natures rocks

Ready to assemble



Assembled

A series of 3 cages

This morning we let Willie try it out.  A test run! We think he likes his new condo!

Willie, the bearded dragon, on his rocks


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Teaching My First Viking Knit Class


Bead-It in Prescott AZ
Viking Knit is one of the oldest wire chaining techniques and we first see it being used in the 9th century.  That must be about the time wire was being made in long enough pieces with a small enough diameter to be flexible for chaining.  It is again popular with jewelry makers and once a person learns the technique it can lead to a Zen like experience.  Basically it is using 26-30 gauge wire and making loops in a circular pattern around a dowel (or similar object) using continuous wire.  When it is finished, the tube is drawn through a series of holes, each smaller than the next, until the chain is the size you want. 
The Project
I’ve wanted to teach this technique and our local bead store, Bead-It, agreed.  We set a date and had lots of interest.  My first Viking Knit Class was a learning experience for my 7 students and for me.  Aren’t we always learning? 
The goal was to make a bracelet with Viking Knit chain and an S hook clasp from wire.  Charms were optional. All in all the class was a success and we had a good time visiting and sharing our progress.  There was time to help each student and make sure they understood the process.

 The original class was to have 5 students and last 3 hours.  As most things are flexible in my life, the class ended up having 7 students and some stayed 4 hours.  Several students actually finished the bracelet but were a little rushed.  A couple of students left with the basic idea and techniques but an unfinished bracelet.  Everyone did a great job of mastering the basic 'stitch'.

Student examples:










There are always lessons to be learned - as a teacher and as a student.  Here are some things I'll change for the next class.
Lesson one: Next time 5 students and 4 hours for the class!  No flexibility!
Lesson two:  Reminding students often that the first time we learn a new technique we will not produce a perfect product.  It was obvious to me that some of us who are perfectionists expect perfection each time we do something.  I know because I am one of those.  And that causes frustration.  I continually remind myself and will remind students that learning is fun and practice makes perfect!
Lesson three:  Each student needs their own light source.  We are all getting older and reading glasses would not hurt either!
Lesson four:  In the next class, we will take more short breaks.  Clears our eyes for fine wire work!
The good news is:  There will be a fall class and once again we will have fun learning!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Millefiori on an Ostrich Egg

Some of my canes
Books are my passion – well at least one of my passions.  When I saw Donna Kato’s book The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiori Techniques I just had to have it.  In fact, I took it to the hospital when Peter was getting his biopsy and read it cover to cover.  It is beautifully illustrated with great explanations and it made me want to try millefiori!  Millefiori is one of those words that just feel good in my mouth when I say it.
 
I tend to jump into new learning experiences with both feet and do a big project rather than starting small and working big.  It has always been a problem for me.  I did one needlepoint tapestry, drew my own pattern, and 10 years later finished it.  Never did another one.  My philosophy is: If I still like it after a big project, I’ll keep doing it. 
 
The upcoming Easter holiday gave me the idea to use one of my empty ostrich eggs and cover it with polymer clay canes.  I have several of these eggshells as they are one of a very few kind of eggs I can eat.  The eggs cost $20 each and one is equal 22 chicken eggs.  An empty shell sells for $15 so  I’m not wasting any of them!
 
I learned many things while covering this egg.  
  •  It is helpful to have a guide for patterned canes.  I am fascinated with all the patterns.
  • Keeping my hands clean is important so that the red clay color does not get into the white clay and make pink
  •  You can carefully slice a thin sheet and the original color is back again.
  •  The more you hold the piece and play with it the warmer it gets and the more you can move it.  It is also easy to get it out of shape.
  •  Eggs are not flat and the patterns need to flow in order to cover the egg shape.
  •  You need to plan ahead…both in the design and how you will cure it.
The highlight of this adventure came when I needed to bake it or cure it.  It just fit in my toaster oven that I use for polymer clay.  I found pieces of a broken shelf from my kiln that would hold it steady.  I slowly heated the small oven and got it to the correct 275 degree and noticed smoke coming out.  I unplugged the oven, opened the door and carefully took out the egg.  Yes, it burned in one place – rather badly.  Too close to the heating element.  I probably could have figured that out ahead of time but I had to try. 
Next I Googled -how to repair burnt polymer clay- and I found a paragraph about putting a layer over the existing one and curing it again.  That’s just what I did.  And this time I cured it in the kitchen oven.  Yes, I know the fumes are toxic and so I turned the fan on and the timer and left the room for 30 minutes. 
It worked beautifully and I just had to share my Easter egg with you!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our Fat-tailed Gecko Nursery


Mom and 2 eggs


Fat-tailed Geckos have large tails (hence the name) and skinny legs.  They are kind of funny looking and there are very friendly.  They have thin brown velvet like skin with a design and you need to be gentle with them.  Their tails can come off as a defense mechanism and it is where they store their fat.  The tail will be regrown but never as nice as the original.  They eat mealworms and crickets in captivity and insects in nature.  These geckos have eyelids which makes them unique in the gecko world. They grow to be 4-8 inches long and live 15 to 18 years.   
We just added a Fat-tailed Gecko nursery to our house!  It really is a 2’x2’ incubator that keeps the humidity and temperature just right for the 4 existing eggs and 2 on the way!
Peter had 4 fat-tailed geckos and he kept them separated for several years.  They were easy to care for and feed.  Now that Peter is building new cages for his animals, he decided to see if he could put them together.  He decided to  put the 3 females and 1 male together.  They got along very well hiding under their pieces of wood. 
One day Peter picked up a gecko and said, “Look, she is gravid!”  Sure enough I could see the shape of two eggs.  He put a box with damp moss in the cage and she laid her eggs.  BY this time the incubator was ready.  It is important to keep the eggs at a constant temperature and it takes about 2 months to hatch.  A few days later, two more eggs were laid (by the second female) and into the incubator they went.
Yes, the 3rd female is gravid and we are waiting for her to lay the eggs.  Wow!  What a busy guy!  I’ll keep you posted on the hatchings! 


Friday, March 16, 2012

The Junk Yard Run!!

Yesterday my friend, Kim, and I met at Kuhle’s to explore the junk yard!  Neither of us had been there and neither of us had a camera to capture all the interesting shapes and textures and materials.  But we did find Darrell who led us to the locked up room where old sheet metal to be recycled is kept.  We found a treasure trove of copper and one sheet of brass as well as several gauges of wire.  It did not take long to amass 20 pounds of metal at $5.00 a pound. 
Men are working!
One of the first questions we were asked was, “Are you just looking or are you buying?”  Having grown up with two brothers and a father who was in demolition (along with many other businesses), I knew we better be buying.  I know not to waste a busy man’s time when it is close to lunch (or any other time either!).  So we were “buying”! 
The sheet copper we bought had a natural patina, purple colors where I suppose someone tried etching, and there were a few thicknesses.  We quickly selected several pieces as Darrell kept looking at his watch.  After paying, we took our loot and Kim is dividing the wire and I divided the sheet metal and we are happy campers!
Today I went back with my camera so I could share some of the images and give you an idea of what to expect.  I asked yesterday if that would be ok.  It was and no one bothered me today as I snapped away.
Here are some guidelines if you decide to tour your local scrap yard:
1.      Wear grungy clothes and comfortable shoes.  This is a low fashion – hard work area.
2.      Take cash.  Credit cards and checks do not make these guys happy. 
3.      State your business and let them show you what they have.  Be ready to make quick decisions.
4.      Know that you are responsible for your own safety.
I’m amazed at all the stuff that can be found.  Patterns and designs from radiators for texture plates in my jewelry, Stacks of boxes, rows of pipes and i-beams and grates are great for textures and patterns.  If I ever need iron lattice for growing plants on a patio this is where I will go to find it.
I highly recommend this for a great adventure!
Don't these look like people talking?


Radiator Patterns








Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Getting Two Lifer’s in One Day!

Heather and Peter
Rusty Blackbird
Sunday Peter and I took my niece, Heather, to Phoenix to attend a conference.  We wanted to show her some of the natural beauty of our area.  Saturday we toured her around the Prescott lakes, introduced her to birding and later shopped on Whiskey Row.  Sunday we stopped in Anthem hoping to see the Rusty Blackbird, a rarity in Arizona and a lifer for Peter and I. We had been to the community lake three times before hoping to add this to our life list and this time we saw it!  Looking for one bird of a kind is always a challenge and it helped to have three pair of eyes.


Then we went to Tempe Town Lake because there was a Red-necked Grebe sighted and that also would be a lifer for me.  Tempe Town Lake is a beautiful community center.  In fact, there were three major events happening on the weekend.  We just wanted to stand on the pedestrian bridge to look for the one Red-necked Grebe! 

Red-necked Grebe

Fortunately Peter took his scope and I had my 400mm camera lens because the birds were far away . And yes we saw him.  You can feel a vibration on the bridge as people walk so picture taking is tricky!  I would have liked a little better focus in the pictures but…..

Western Grebe
There were also Western Grebes elegant with their long necks and Double-crested Cormorants drying their wings as they swam. 
Beautiful weather with a picnic later.  This is a great place to visit and bird.  We even saw a Brown Pelican flying!By the afternoon, Heather was proficient using the binoculars and learning to look for movement and detail around her.  We are hoping she does this again when she gets home to Iowa!  She has a great start for her life list!
 
 Lifer = First time a bird species is seen in nature and identified 
Life List = The total bird species seen and identified


Brown Pelican

Friday, March 9, 2012

Joy!

Joy is hearing the word BENIGN.  Peter’s tumors are benign and still need surgery but they are not a crisis.
Joy is understanding that each moment is precious and being able to take the time to enjoy it.
 
Joy is finding a pool of water in a dry creek bed.
Joy is hearing a friend’s voice when you pick up the phone.
Joy is smelling cinnamon rolls baking and retrieving memories of good times.
Joy is seeing love when I look in my partner’s eyes.
  Joy is having the surprise of a rainbow, seeing dew on cactus spines and snow on a tree filled with pink blossoms.
Joy is helping someone and learning to accept help in return.
Joy is seeing the first crocus peek out in the springtime, the first rays of morning sunshine or the first flakes of snow.
Joy is sharing knowledge.
Joy is receiving hugs and healing butterflies from someone I’ve never met as well as from my family and friends.
Joy is sharing friendship- listening, hearing and speaking from the heart.
Joy is finding just the right thing to give as a gift to surprise someone.
Joy is the realization that I make my own happiness as I experience life’s surprises.
Joy is experiencing the blessings and happiness of love.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Take the Scenic Drive!




The road curved around a mountain just outside of Superior AZ and … SURPRISE!  Wildflowers all around us – up the hillside and down the hillside; under the saguaros and next to the highway.  Breathtaking.  In fact, Peter and I had to stop and park along the highway (which is another nice thing about taking the scenic route.)  We walked among the spring flowers and took lots of pictures. 
Fortunately both of us had cameras because I lost all of mine in transferring them to my computer.  Frustrating!  But the memory of being surrounded by purples, yellows, oranges, and reds remains. 

We went to Tucson to see doctors at the University Medical Center for Peter.  Getting a second opinion on a serious illness is so important.  This one gave us hope and yes there will be surgery.  Once we have a definitive answer, intelligent choices can be made.  The first medical opinion was way too scary without enough information.  So, please, get second opinions and maybe even a third before deciding on a course of action on serious health issues. this activity . 
Vermillion Flycatcher
Our scenic drive also took us to Winkleman AZ City Park.  What a pretty site with lots of trees and a stream.  The Vermillion Flycatchers were flying about with their bright red and black colors and a couple posed for me. Spring must be close with all

Be sure to take a scenic drive and enjoy life!






Friday, March 2, 2012

Feather Breast Plate for Woodland Goddess





Feathers with beautiful textures and colors.  As an interior designer, I had access to many exotic products and one was borders of feathers.  These were feathers to sew on edges of drapery; feathers to accent exotic bed pillows; feathers to do almost anything clients wanted.  So when I retired, I kept some special samples (which have been discontinued now) and decided someday I would figure out how to use them.  Thank you Bargia for making them available! 


Yesterday I decided to try my hand at using one of the samples.  Feather jewelry intimidates me a little.  I’m afraid the feathers will come apart or fall out but these samples are sewn to a tape and look secure.  The sample feathers for this project are iridescent green with black edges.  The sample measures about 4” wide.  I looked through my beads and went to Bead-It (Prescott AZ) to see if there was anything that caught my eye.  I found a strand of beads that picked up the iridescent quality and brought them home.  Then I found some thin brass metal sheet and sat down to design. 

I love to do repousse and wanted to use it in the necklace.  I did not want to take the feathers apart since they were neatly sewn on a tape.  After experimenting and sketching a design, I made the brass plate that would hold the feathers.  I turned under all the raw edges and folded the brass in half to make it approx. 2” x 4”.  I carefully figured out where to drill holes and finished the raised design. Then I experimented with Black Max, ammonia and finally settled on patina by torch. 
The beads worked well with the feathers and brass.  As it often happens, the original design changed but the intent and the focal did not.  When I finished I knew this had to be a simple breast plate for a woodland goddess.  I can see her now dancing as the sun-shimmer brings out all the iridescence of the woods and of course, the necklace.