Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Creations

Here's a new twist on my button hair ties--I added a felt flower and not to be super-cheesy, but I really do think they're cute as a button. Come and get yours at the Zonta Holiday Marketplace this weekend- they'll make perfect stocking stuffers!


Here are a few more pretty little things, fresh from the studio. This first image is of a pendant made from a Mexican blue-glass pitcher someone gave us for our wedding. Rowan accidentally broke it last year, and I tumbled the shards to give them new life as jewelry! Also, beach stones collected on MDI and made into earrings, brown Islesboro sea glass earrings, and some white sea glass earrings with Christmas flair.


 I've been having fun making mini-paintings lately too. This is my collection so far- I'm in the process of trying to use resin to attach them to glass to make ornaments and I may make some into magnets...not sure what the best thing is to do with them, but they are quick and fun to make.




My other fun side project has been making a set of paper dolls for Rowan for Christmas. They are of her and all of her favorite toys and pets. I'm going to attach magnets to the back so she can play with them on a magnetic white board and we can draw different backgrounds.



New Recycled Glass Earrings

My grandparents loved to make stained glass lamps and window panels in the 1970's. I was lucky enough to  inherit a big box of leftover glass scraps from my grandfather a few years back. Other people have since given me boxes of colored sheet glass but they've all just been collecting dust in my garage. The other night Aaron decided to score and cut up some of the glass and then tumble it for a week or so to see how it came out. I was really happy with the results, and like the wider range of colors!








  

 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Busy Bee

After a VERY long hiatus from my blog I finally have some new pictures to post! A lot has been happening here in Belmont-- on the art front I've been taking an adult ed watercolor class which has been great for getting me back into drawing and painting. It's been nice to have a group of people to sit and paint with each week, and to have a whole 3 hours to just sit and do nothing focus on being creative and learning new things.

Here's the one painting I've actually finished so far and my favorite from the class--painted from autumn leaves collected up at my parents camp.



Here's a peek at some of the others in progress-- each week we'd start a new painting but I rarely finished them in one sitting. Below is a cardinal, but he still needs a colored beak and some feet.




This one was from a lesson on how to paint water, but again, I'm still working on getting the water part finished as well as the sky and other details.


And here's a hollyhock that is almost finished as well--



We also messed around with various techniques to get interesting effects from the paint. Here's what happens when you drop alcohol onto wet watercolors:






Here's salt sprinkled on the paint:



Impressions made with bubble wrap:


And impressions made with plastic wrap:


You can also make scratches into the wet paper to create white accent lines-- I thought these gave this painting the appearance of a stand of trees ablaze with fall colors:



I'm also in the midst of the busy holiday craft show season, so I've been making lots of earrings and Aaron has been a helpful elf, spending his evenings tumbling and drilling glass for me out in the garage.  He scored and cut up a bunch of cathedral glass or stained glass (not sure what the appropriate name for it is) the other night and tumbled it--it turned out great and made some really nice recycled glass for my earrings. I'll post pictures of the new jewelry in the next day or so. Check out my "Upcoming Shows and Events" tab to see where I'll be in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Work

I thought I'd add some pictures of new work here. I had fun messing around with silver clay and firing it in my kiln. Once fired, I burnished, polished, and applied patina to each piece. Here are some of the final results. Why is precious metal clay so amazing? It is malleable like modeling clay, yet it is made of silver particles and organic binder (which burns off during the firing process allowing the silver particles to fuse together)...meaning you can bend it, shape it, stamp it however you want and once it's fired it's pure silver!!








These earrings are the first pair of precious metal clay earrings I made. The flowers design comes from an antique button I bought at a flea market last summer. I made a mold of the button, then an impression with the silver clay.

I especially had fun with this beehive pendant (see below). I found a piece of beeswax, made a mold of it and pressed the clay into it to get the honeycomb pattern on the inset. I made a mold of a bee button I bought at the yarn shop and recreated it in silver clay....attached all of the pieces with some water and clay in a syringe, and voila! Now I'm trying to decide whether to leave it just silver or put some yellow/honey colored polymer clay inlays in the honeycomb. I tried it once already, but it didn't look as nice as I was hoping it would.



 Here the piece has dried on the warming plate and is ready to be sanded.


 The pieces are loaded onto the kiln shelf and ready to be fired.

After the firing I used a burnishing tool and polishing papers and pads to achieve a shiny finish. Then I applied a patina to the piece by dipping it in nasty smelling stuff called Liver of Sulfur. That turned it an iridescent purplish-black color and I polished it all over again--but this time some of the dark patina remained in the crevices to accent the details.
 

The finished piece.


The silver pattern on these earrings came from an impression from an old fork my mom gave me.





Below are the first two pairs I made with polymer clay inlays for an extra splash of color.





Silver clay also comes in paste form and you can paint it on things and fire it--whatever you painted it on will burn away in the kiln and you are left with a silver copy of that object. I am thinking of trying this on some lilac blossoms since I am totally enamored with this flower. A twig or a small pine cone might be nice too.

Oh and here's a new stone pendant and a recycled glass pendant that I really like too!



Bowerbird Featured as a Freebie Friday Giveaway on Baby Moo Hoo

My co-worker Hilary writes a wonderful mommy blog called Baby Moo Hoo, about adventures in parenting. She's even been selling custom onesies to earn her way to this year's BlogHer conference in San Diego, where up and coming female bloggers unite. One of the cool features of her blog is that she has a weekly giveaway called "Freebie Fridays." This past week Bowerbird Handmade was the featured giveaway (some springy notecards), and as a result there was a nice posting about my work too. Thanks Hilary!

You can read the posting here:
Freebie Friday Bowerbird Handmade

and explore Hilary's blog at:
Baby Moo Hoo

Follow her, she's fun to read!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One of my favorite poems

Today I want to share one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Monday, May 9, 2011

All over the place...literally and figuratively

Ugh, what a bad way to start a blog...a few posts and then silence for over a month, but that is the plight of this haggard multi-tasking mother/artist/program manager/housecleaner/grocery shopper/ cook, etc. I know everyone is busy and some amazing people still manage to maintain a blog weekly or even daily, but I am struggling to come up with interesting posts on a regular basis given that I am barely able to remember to water my wilting houseplants. Sorry followers, I will try to be a better blogger...that will be one of my May resolutions.

In addition to traveling all over New England recently to visit family and friends, watch marathons, attend graduations and celebrate motherhood, I've been busy working on some personal changes. I've been trying to become more organized, go on facebook less, engage in less neurotic list-making activity, and basically just relax more. I also took the plunge and committed to becoming one of the "Clean" people which has involved totally reshaping the way I eat over the last month. I  am on day 15 of a 21 day "cleanse" and feel amazing. I'm glad I've taken the time to revive myself....I guess I'm doing some life-spring cleaning but as a result Bowerbird has taken a back seat.

I've also been bogged down in an artistic version of writer's block...except instead of having no ideas I am suffering from too many ideas and a lack of focus and direction. You know you're in trouble when you're crossing your fingers each morning that the little piece of paper dangling from your Yogi tea bag will tell you what to do. Whether it's deciding about how to price my items to thinking about whether I want to pour my energy into drawing or sea glass or using my kiln more (but silver is the most expensive it's ever been!) or learning to do more technical metalsmithing work, or just finally learning how to do screenprinting which has always intrigued me, I get overwhelmed by possibilities and then I do nothing. Not to mention advertising, internet presence, classes to build your skill and learn the tricks of trade of small business ownership. Or maybe I should really take the plunge into illustrating children's books....wait, what? I just bought a kiln!! I looked at my studio the last time I went in and saw there were buttons strewn everywhere, a box of driftwood, cut out pictures of birds from an Audubon field guide, a bag of forks, a bag of rocks, a jar of sequins...you get the idea....the craft hoarding must stop. So I've been taking this slower spring-slump time to evaluate where my interests really lie and to try to find focus. I'll let you know when I've had my epiphany.

Tonight I went to a meeting with other artists that will be participating in the Rockland Art Market. Seeing the range of what people make and just being around other like-minded individuals made me suddenly feel inspired again! With summer right around the corner, I am finally feeling ready to gear up for summer festivals and my weekly appearance at the Rockland Art Market. I am also making the declaration that May is my month to conquer my fear of approaching stores and my goal is to get some of my stuff into a nice store..one I actually like to shop in, by the end of the month...and if I can do more than one, well that would be gravy...or maybe icing since I like that better.

Here's the link to the Rockland Art Market's website, and if you're local, please find and friend us on facebook too!

Rockland Art Market

Friday, April 1, 2011

...AND THE WINNER IS....

Being that it is April 1st it's time to announce the raffle winner of my $25 gift certificate to Bowerbird:

Mary MacLeod Bess!

Thank you to all who participated and for showing your support of my business!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Word of the Year

I've been reading lots of other crafty blogs lately. I was excited to stumble on the concept of choosing a word for the year to live by, rather than trying to commit to a multitude of overwhelming New Year's resolutions. I am aware that it is already the end of March and I'm a little late in getting started - but better late than never. So, I decided to pick a word. Once I started thinking about what it is I'm trying to tackle this year, I saw a common thread throughout various aspects of my life and my word became very obvious:

DARE

I am always making excuses for why I can't do something, but if I don't face my fears and move out of my comfort zone more often, I will never grow and make the changes I hope to see in my life. Sometimes I feel like I conceal my true self because I'm afraid of what other people will think, but that gets exhausting and soul-crushing after a while! So, I am going to keep this word at the forefront of my mind for the rest of this year and see where it leads me. Below is a quote that I found and wrote on on post-it note a couple of years ago. It seems to keep following me and it helps me feel more daring every time I read it: 

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." -Anais Nin

Nearly every person I know that has abandoned their 9-5 to do something they truly love said it was scary at first but they soon found great happiness and success in following their passion. Taking risks and putting yourself out there is always scary, but I'm realizing I would regret it so much more if I never even tried in the first place. One more quote I like by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Do the thing and you will have the power." I like it because I'm sure it's true, but mostly I like it because it reminds me of He-Man saying, "I have the power!" after he's been transformed to his more powerful, magical self. I don't want to become He-Man, but if I could harness the super girl power of She-Ra, I would be pysched. She was confident, badass, and she rode a unicorn.




Thursday, March 17, 2011

Enter to Win a $25 Gift Certificate to Bowerbird!

Here's the deal: if you do any of the following between now and April 1st, your name will be entered to win a $25 gift certificate to my shop---this can be something you see on Etsy, my Nature's Palette card website, or you can stop by my studio and pick something out!

You can become eligible for the drawing by doing any one of these things:
  • Become a fan on Facebook
  • Favorite my shop on Etsy
  • Become a follower of my blog
  • Join Bowerbird's mailing list: this means you would receive a quarterly newsletter updating with updates on my newest creations, upcoming shows, events and promotions--(just email me at bowerbirdemail@gmail.com or send me a private message on Facebook if you're interested)
  • Purchase an item
If you do all 5 of these things, your name will be entered 5 times. It's simple, and everyone loves free stuff! I will draw a name on April 1st and announce the winner on Facebook and my blog. I'm not fooling, promise!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On a Creative Mission

Welcome to my new blog! For as long as I can remember I have been like a bowerbird...attracted to all things shiny and pretty. I just can't help myself--I don't think it's a shallow, superficial thing, it's just that I feel energized and excited by patterns, bright colors, sleek lines and shapes. When we go out to eat, my husband always teases me that I'm only there for the atmosphere, eating my surroundings while he eats the food. Whenever I have down time, the default screen saver in my mind is like a montage of designer fabric swatches, memories of beautiful places from our travels, trippy kaleidoscopic images, and ideas for craft projects, children's books, and future art exhibits. Oh and food-- I think about food probably more than I should. Basically, my head is in the clouds a lot of the time and it's time to find a way to translate my daily reveries into action.

I want to make art, and have lovely and unique ideas that give way to positive actions and the living of a life uncommon. When I had my daughter two years ago, my creativity settled into a state of dormancy while I devoted my energy to changing diapers, reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and basic self-preservation. I've realized though that to be a good mom and an enjoyable person to be around I need to awaken and feed that sleeping creative self. I still need to nourish my identity and my dreams. I have worked hard over the last 6 months to give my stagnant art business an overhaul in hopes of making my creative leanings an integral part of my lifestyle and an eventual career rather than a side hobby. In September I started renting studio space to give myself a fresh start and a place that is all my own, out of the MOMosphere. I set up shop (more like sweatshop) as I cranked out more jewelry for fall craft shows in 3 months than I've made over the past 5 years. I was accepted into my first juried shows, changed my business name, opened an Etsy shop for selling my wares online, a Facebook fan page, and have have more glossy business cards than I know what to do with. I just bought a jeweler's kiln for firing precious metal clay pieces too! I am also excited to have a blog, which I am planning on using as a platform for collecting and posting all things happy and inspiring- things that get my creative juices flowing, be that a poem, an image, an idea, a recipe, a photo or a video.  I will also use it as a place to share my own work, in my quest to create and inspire.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that if you surround yourself with the things that make you happy and you really devote time to knowing yourself and what your inherent talents are, and if you then commit to those talents, however trivial or random they may be...then only good can come of it. Then, when you are happy, your light and the sharing of it, can inspire others to live up to their potential, resulting in a world that is brighter and more interesting. There you have it, my cheesy but heartfelt personal manifesto. Think of this blog as a virtual artistic filing cabinet, bulletin board, or a maybe just a window into my spastic mind and the ideas that inhabit it!

The first shiny little thing I want to share is a video that a friend posted on Facebook a while back. It is by Andrea Dorfman. I really like this one and another video she made called "How to be Alone." I really admire her honesty, and how she blends video, music, poetry and illustration together. It just makes me happy, so that's why it's on my blog!