Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tis the Season

In the spirit of the season, I was a busy bee working on all sorts of projects for some of the special people in my life. I wish I could have posted these sooner, but at least they were a surprise. Nevertheless, expect these to resurface in the not-too-distant future...

New note cards featuring glimpses of trees in their various stages: root, seed, bud, and bloom. All trees (native to the mid-Atlantic region) were lovingly selected for their captivating characteristics and illustrated in the botanical style by yours truly. These images are taken from lithographic prints produced earlier this year and printed in outstanding detail with crisp black ink on quality embossed ivory stock. Packaged in packs of four different trees with matching envelopes.

Heirloom Icicle and Snowflake Ornaments celebrate the natural wonders of the season in the best of spirit... All ornaments are handmade from recycled and welded coat hangers and vintage chandelier crystals. These very special ornaments represent the importance of minimizing our footprint on the environment by preserving our resources.

New also are my "Natural Fresheners" in Lovely Lavender and Citrus & Spice for those who like to spice it up... naturally! They contain all premium and natural ingredients in a 100% cotton pouch with velvet ribbon and a vintage button. Natural Fresheners smell great and are cute enough to place anywhere (even on a tree)!

PS - I love my new camera!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...

Here's a little Christmas image to wish you a very happy holiday. A copper hydraulic die formed ornament given to my mom in 1998; my very first metalsmithing project ever. Here began my annual (mostly) tradition of making ornaments for the special people in my life, not to mention the advent of my desire to learn as much as I could about metal processes. We'll be driving up and down the east coast this week visiting family and spreading cheer (4 states in 4 days!). To you and yours, have a very merry Christmas and happy new year...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Antique Purse of the Week: Hey Sailor!

Above: Small clutch with strap, opaque cream and red glass beads striped with translucent dark gray glass beads, silver cording along front flap, cream colored grograin fabric on sides and interior, snap closure. Country of manufacture: Germany.

This sassy little number reminiscent of the 1940's was made in Germany, a major contributor to the glass bead phenomena that continues to gain momentum today.** I can picture her perfectly; a young woman with bright red lipstick, a short stylish coif, and perhaps a sailor outfit complete with white collar would be proud to carry a bag like this for an evening of dancing out on the town.

** I have some great pre-WWII German glass beads discovered in a warehouse cache many years later that get auctioned off in small quantities a year at a time. The bright opaque colors and flower shapes make sweet little earrings, but more on that another time!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ginger-Peanut Tuna Salad

A fresh, flavorful meal great for any season and lover of the oh-so-wonderful and versatile ginger root!

  • One large can - chunk white tuna (or salmon) packed in water, drained
  • Small handful - roasted peanuts, shelled of course
  • Almost a tablespoon - fresh ginger root, finely grated
  • A couple of tablespoons - chopped spring onions
  • Splash (enough to hold mixture together) - Ginger Miso salad dressing, your favorite brand
Mix and serve over a bed of fresh baby spinach with grated carrots and mandarin oranges or clementines with rice cracker rounds on the side.

Serves: 2, Takes: minutes!

I wish I could take a picture, but we already know that story. Trust me, this is a great salad you're sure to love (unless you hate ginger, then you definitely don't want to try it).

Recipe obtained and modified by Monta & Don. Thanks and love you!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Baby It's Cold Outside

So I commandeered Steve's camera for a few moments to capture the icy landscape this afternoon... but only before I enjoyed a nice warm cup of hot chocolate. I hope you're warm and cozy inside and enjoying the season tonight. I'll be getting back to my welded Heirloom Christmas Ornaments... expect images soon. Too bad they wont be in the shop this year, I suppose 2008 will bring the unleashing of some new designs. More soon...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I've Been Tagged!

I've been a little absent as of late... no excuses, but my camera is presently out of comission and things have been very busy. Nevertheless, I've recently been tagged by the lovely Juliet of The Broken Plate and Liz of Liz Mathew's Jewelry Design. Overall, a great excuse to shake out this dusty blog! So without further delay, here are 5 random facts about me...
  1. Fortunately, I've never broken a bone (not out of lack of opportunity) or had surgery. I've been a very lucky girl.

  2. For the past six years, I've taught rock climbing in addition to other adventure activities that focus on confidence and team building in addition to Leave No Trace principles. It's been a wonderful experience that has truly enriched my life.

  3. I hope to one day write and illustrate one or more children's books. I already have the characters and the theme, I'm just waiting for story to hit me... probably while I'm sleeping, showering, or driving (where all good ideas come from).

  4. When I was little, I aspired to be a professional roller-skater... or a veterinarian... or a mermaid. What, no professional mermaids?! How cool would it have been to roller-skate through life? Not quite ideal for the studio!

  5. Excess packaging drives me wild, I hate shopping bags (and usually bring my own), and I believe that we as consumers have a responsibility to stop buying things that will end up in landfills after a couple of seasons (i.e. holiday lawn decoration for example) in favor of making our own out of, say... found objects or recycled materials! Try DIY projects (great for the kiddos) and trade or gift with family and friends. Buy natural and biodegradable from renewable/sustainable resources and/or handmade to support small businesses, organizations that donate proceeds to charities, and the local economy. Or pass special holiday ornamentation down from generation to generation... the best ones usually are! After all, what holiday traditions are based in plastics anyway? BANG! CRASH! BUMP! Sorry, I think I just fell off my soapbox!
Wow, a lot of people I know have already been tagged. Lets see... I will tag: Rebecca, Beth, Maren, and Ellen!

The Rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Mud in Camera = Fewer Blog Posts

I couldn't resist taking some great pictures of the kids while caving this past summer. They just had so much fun (and so did I). This proved to be a poor decision and an overall unfriendly locale for cameras! Duh. I hope to "acquire" new photographic equipment in the couple of weeks. Until then, please be patient with me while I settle for preexisting images and loaner cameras (thanks Steve)! Watch for: recent art and jewelry designs and more antique purses!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holiday Heap THIS Saturday!

The Charm City Craft Mafia's Holiday Heap craft show is this Saturday, December 1. Get your holiday shopping started early or late (depending!) at this juried alternative craft fair featuring some great Baltimore locals. Check out Beth Pohlman Jewelry, Imogene, Liz Matthews Jewelry, The Broken Plate, and the Towson Metals & Jewelry Club; all jewelry designers, friends, and prior classmates who create some really beautiful work! The show will be held in the gorgeous St. John’s Church, located at 2640 St. Paul St, Baltimore, MD 21218, from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. For more information on Holiday Heap, other notable vendors featuring handmade crafts, and the CCCM, go here. Also, don't forget your canned goods to help support the Maryland Food Bank!

Friday, November 16, 2007

YouTube Baby!

On a completely unrelated note, it seems I (or at least my calves) have inadvertently hit the big time! This past August, I volunteered at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and was fortunate enough to work alongside the video production crew, a bunch of very talented professionals who volunteer their time to put on one class act production. The result is high quality imagery for the festival big screens and distribution of DVD's to the performers. Setting up the equipment, opperating a camera for the first time, and watching it all go down inside the mobile TV truck was such a wonderful learning experience. Needless to say I had a blast.

My first camera experience was on Saturday afternoon filming the band Old Springs Pike, a unique and delightfully difficult to categorize folk/rock band based in NYC. As you will see from the clip above, which was filmed by yours truly and others, OSP is an incredibly energetic bunch that truly enjoy performing their music live. They helped make the festival experience, not to mention my time behind the camera a truly enjoyable one. If you look real close, my camera (as well as my legs from the knee down) can be seen stage-right. Later that evening I met Heather, the female singer extraordinaire and was so delighted with how sweet she was. Check out their website and myspace to hear more music! Thanks OSP!

Monday, October 29, 2007

With Rain Comes Autumn

After some much needed rain, it's beginning to get quite chilly up here. In the past few days I've taken to wearing a winter jacket... indoors! We've been working hard to prepare the yard with planting, pruning, weeding, and getting our composter ready. Now it's time to winterize this old farmhouse so we can get moving with the fun projects... in warmth. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy some of the vibrant October colors and rich textures from the past few days.

Antique Purse of the Week: Silk Threads

Fibers, especially the delicate one's such as silk, take the harshest beating over time. Above is a sweet little green silk purse with stitched floral pattern and covered dark green cording. Opening this bag reveals a white silk lining with matching envelope style coin purse tethered to the interior. A green knotted silk cord serves as the handle and an interior metal frame gives structure to the top of the bag. Unfortunately this antique purse is showing its years with its tattered fabric and missing closure, but one can easily imagine what it once looked like. Sadly, in this case, preservation cannot reverse the aging process.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Antique Purses of the Week: A Lovely Pair?

Antique Purses: LEFT - Whiting and Davis, c. 1920's, brass mesh, strap, and frame with gem stone, RIGHT - unknown, brass mesh, strap, and frame

My first thought upon discovering these mesh wrist bags was that they make such a lovely pair. I knew exactly what to do with them as they are of the few that could withstand being hung on the wall, and what a compliment to each other they are! Both are small mesh purses worn on the wrist, they are topped with organic motifs on their decorative frames, have flat chain link straps with sliders, fine mesh bodies, and are finished with three ball weights each. It wasn't until opening them that I began to look at these bags in a different light... A lovely pair or a lovely knock-off? You decide!

Inscriptions: "Annette Brodic", "WHITING & DAVIS CO.", "SOLDERED MESH", "A", "1/21", "#4", "#5"

The bag on the left has several inscriptions on the interior of the frame, whereas the bag on the right has none. Regarding the left-hand bag, "Annette Brodic" was apparently the owner as her name is hand engraved by the clasp. Stamped by one hinge is the maker's name: "WHITING & DAVIS CO.", a popular purse manufacturer in the early 1900's, however because the name is stamped not engraved, it can be assumed that the bag was made in 1920 or later. Stamped by the other hinge is "SOLDERED MESH", which yes, ladies and gentleman, means that each link is soldered! Although there is one bit of information that will sooth your whirling minds; all of their mesh was made by machine after 1912.

There are also some other markings I have yet to determine: "1/21" is hand scribed by each of the hinges, which could be the production date. "#4" is hand scribed by one hinge and "#5" is by the other; this could possibly be the mesh size (ranged from #1 through #7), but that doesn't explain why there are two numbers. There is also a stamped "A", which is sideways and above the "WHITING & DAVIS CO." stamp. Could this be a way to decipher parts or a grading system? Perhaps you know?

Finally, notice the gem stone on the clasp of the bag on the left (Whiting & Davis was known for their use of genuine sapphires), the decorative designs on the strap sliders of the left-hand bag, the unsoldered coil and links on the right-hand bag (there are a few missing), and the difference in link sizes between the mesh on the two wrist bags. There are many details to compare and contrast, and frankly, I beginning to wonder what they carried in these things! Nevertheless, what I am certain of is these are two very special bags and if the one on the right is indeed a period "knockoff," than let copying be the highest form of 1920's flattery! I think I know just the wall to become home to these two bags.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Most Charming City

Yesterday I went to Baltimore for several very worthwhile ventures... I attended the Charm City Craft Mafia's first ever legal and tax workshop for crafter's! It was very informative. Thanks CCCM!! Then I picked up some much needed furniture for my studio space, which is coming together whether we are ready or not!
Finally, I met up with the lovely and talented Beth Pohlman to catch up and chat over a decadent dinner (despite the iced tea). I drooled over the above necklace throughout our meal; one of her newer creations. Beth really considers the wearer and the comfort of her jewelry on the body. Each piece is light, airy, and hangs so beautifully. You can check out Beth's blog and store for more gorgeous and very original jewelry designs. You are an inspiration!

Things growing on...

There's been quite a bit of talk about things going on around here and no posts on any work or talk of creative projects as of late. Although all the talk of produce and trees is inspirational(!), I'm coming to terms with this much needed sabbatical to get unpacked, put things in order, and allow my creative side to hibernate so that I can come back refreshed. My brain is churning though; in a few weeks you can expect to see some holiday items for sale here. I'm really looking forward to talking more about this soon... Take good care.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fall is here!

Say so long to the big guy that produced this gorgeous leaf. A gigantic Norway Maple, he's been a fighter from the start. Norway's are a weed type of tree (invasive and terribly fast growing), so the cards have not been in its favor. Therefore, this maple's days are numbered, especially since we just put in the little beauty below (notice the dead branches in background).

After planting and watering our new Sugar Maple, Steve covered up the base with mulch, stood back proudly and said, "hey there young sprout, I hope you stick around for a while." I don't think he noticed his pun, but I thought it was a great thing to say. And you never know, if the whole college degree thing doesn't work out, I may have to tap this little one for some syrup!

Next for the ground are these blueberry bushes won at the silent auction! Aren't they beautiful?! There are three different varieties so they can cross pollinate: Blue Ray, Collins, and Patriot. Little white flowers in the spring, blueberries all summer long, colorful foliage in the fall, red branches in the winter, and they grow to six feet high; we're sure to enjoy these all year round for a long time. They're getting planted in the orchard right next to the apples, pears, and grapes. Mmm!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Community Supported Agriculture

Yes!! We just got our 2008 share at a local CSA farm. I am so excited about all the yummy veggies, fruit, herbs, and flowers we'll pick up from June through October next year... hmm, reevaluating the garden now. Anyhow, if you're unfamiliar with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA's), they are farms that are split up into shares. Shareholders pay an annual membership due to participate in the overall bounties or potential losses of the annual crops; frequently enough for two adults and/or a small family. Meanwhile members invest in community based sustainable agriculture commonly grown in an ecologically responsible manner as well as benefiting from the health rewards of consuming fresh, local produce. Throughout the duration of the share, a member should expect to spend about the same amount, but frequently less than what they would pay at the grocery store for produce. Since the advent of Community Supported Agriculture in 1985, there are now approximately 1,200 CSA farms around the US. I had hoped to participate in one in Maryland, but could just never commit. Currently in Pennsylvania, I'm overwhelmed with all the numerous opportunities to make decisions that benefit the community, environment, and my health. Hooray for fresh arugula, salad greens, strawberries, broccoli, potatoes, and more! For more information on CSA's including finding a farm in your area, visit Local Harvest.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Antique Purse of the Week: Motifs in Sterling

Above: Sterling silver frame and chain, crocheted body with silver toned beads and fringe. Inscription: A.C. Speiss

This little coin purse is only 5 1/2" from clasp to fringe and 2 1/4" wide. Ladies used to wear coin purses like these on their belts, however not all were so fancy. The black bag and shiny faceted beads nicely offset the scrolling sterling frame. I don't know who A.C. Speiss was, but I bet she was quite a lady.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Imagine My Delight!

Due to crazy schedules, we missed our opportunity to grow a fruit, veggie, and herb garden this year. It would have been my first and I'm so excited for next year. No bother, in PA, the stuff just grows all over the place (despite my purple thumb)! This year's prevalent raspberries were amazing, eating sweet apples and pears right off the trees was such a treat, now concord grapes?! That's the right idea. Oh yeah, then we all took a bath. Up next: blueberry bushes (if I win them at the silent auction).

Can you hear the angels singing?

This dapping block set will give volume to future jewelry designs and other projects. I can't wait to get my studio in order so I can break these babies in!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Antique Purse of the Week: Silver, Gold & Black

Above: French, gold toned frame and chain, beaded body in gold, silver, and black colored glass.

Recently a very special family member gifted me an amazing antique purse collection. Needless to say I feel honored to have received this breathtaking collection. As a jeweler and a craftsperson, I really appreciate the attention to detail, the varied designs, and the care taken to create these intricate pieces. To think that someone once spent countless hours sewing, crocheting, beading, and assembling these tiny works of art is impressive to say the least. Women's finery has certainly changed quite a bit! Due to their age and materials, several of the handbags require some TLC, but are still very impressive despite their disrepair. I wish I had the occasion to take each one out for a spin, but many of them are so delicate and formal... not to mention too small to hold my wallet, cell phone, and keys! As I take the first steps toward researching their repair and preservation, I've decided to share my purses in a unique way... with this little 'ol blog! I hope you enjoy this special collection as I have in the weeks to come. Stay tuned also for compacts and other refinements.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Broken Plate @ Crafty Bastards

Greetings! The Crafty Bastards! Arts & Crafts Fair is this Sunday, September 30 from 10-5 p.m. in Adams Morgan. Please stop by Booth #7 where I will be sitting in for the lovely Juliet; new mom and owner of The Broken Plate Pendant Co. Other notable vendors include Annie of Imogene and Megan Auman (blatant Towson plug).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Home is where the heart is...

With any luck, this will be the first of many posts featuring imagery and ideas I find inspirational as well as some shots from the studio and life. I look forward to this new phase and all the new and exciting creative projects to come as well as a new way of communicating and sharing with some amazing people out there. Stay tuned for some of the best (and possibly worst!) of what's to come. This photo of dogwood blossoms was taken last spring during sunset in rural Pennsylvania, my new home.