Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sacramento Arts Festival!

It's show time again!  Many rooms of our house are presently invaded by my multifaceted preparatory work for the Sacramento Arts Festival coming right up on 7-9 November.  Yes, I have a nice, still new-ish studio, but I can't help but spread things out everywhere.  Working on that.

But this year I'll have a brand new booth design and I'm so excited!  I'm trying to efficiently use my smaller booth space (I'm in a center booth this year, not a corner), and at the same time convey a better sense of my "brand".  Yes, I'm going down that path, trying to communicate better with my potential customers about what I do.  As you may have seen I have a little bit of a logo now (thanks to Sonya Paz Design), and I'm carrying that consistent theme through my booth design and signage, my packaging, my Etsy shopmy website and my blog. 

My new booth design will display jewelry on vertical surfaces as well as a few smaller tables, and it will be easier to set up and tear down.  I'm also incorporating some small tweaks I learned when Judy Mountain gave a booth design workshop in my studio to the Silicon Valley Fireflies.  Work in each color and design theme is displayed on fabric covered boards, and it's helping me to think more about "collections" of work and how design themes consistently carry over a number of pieces.  It's helping my brain game too, and I'm hoping it will enable more calm moments as the show comes together.

With that, here's a few peeks at some of the new work I'll be bringing to the show.  I'll be sharing some images of the booth setup in a few days.

Pine Creek earrings, with memories from a recent hike in the Warner Mountains.

Dewdrop Honeycomb interchangeable ring.  This ring top unscrews, and you can fit my other ring top designs onto the same base.
Leather snap bracelets with my lampwork cabachons.  The charms unsnap and you can collect all the colors you like, to create your own unique look.

Lampwork and antiqued brass necklace in earthy greens, golds, and taupe.
With all of the changes I've made to my booth since the last time I posted about it, I think it's time to do a new blog post focusing on booth design. I swear, I've been just as busy with the sewing machine, glue gun, and paper cutter as anything else this fall!

For those of you who can't make it to the show (or can't wait!), I'm stocking my Etsy shop with many of my new pieces before the show.  The shop will be closed during the show, but you can shop up until it starts and not miss out on anything.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Work

Greetings!  Are you as excited about fall as I am?  I'm so yearning for rain, and cool weather, and fires in the fireplace, and home made soup.  After a busy, warm weekend away in a wonderful class with Kristina Logan, I'm back home and in the home stretch preparing for the Sacramento Arts Festival.  This year I have a completely new booth, so if you're coming to the show, look for me in space 628.  It's a center booth (not a corner), and I'm looking forward to a more intimate arrangement, with more work on the walls, and a stepped up branding experience.  More on that later.

I'm trying to be better about posting new work to Etsy on a regular basis, so here are a few things I've listed in recent weeks.  We've had to have quite a few dead trees removed lately, which we always hate, but the upside of that is more light for photography outdoors.  I now have a great spot in the front where I can take soft box shots with natural light, and I'm loving the results.
"Ancient Fruit" necklace.  I love how the etched Reptilian spacer beads harmonize with the copper focal, don't you?

Vibrant Fuschia Acorn Necklace.  Sometimes you just have to tweak nature a bit.

Speckled Tan Acorn Necklace.


Earthy Browns and Greens Lampwork Bead Necklace.  This is more lampwork and less metal, and I love how it turned out. Inspired by a fabric bunting-style banner made for me by local artist Eileen Brewer of ThrowintheTowel.

Heart Shaped Felt, Glass, and Metal Brooch.
If any of these pieces are softly calling to you, my advice is to grab them while you can, because they're heading to Sacramento with me in a few weeks and may not be back.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The 2014 ISGB Gathering! Thanks for the memories.



I'm just back from an incredible week in Houston attending the 2014 International Society of Glass Beadmakers' annual conference in Houston, and will probably be basking in the glow for weeks to come.  In case you can't imagine what such a meeting might be like, picture a few hundred people from all corners of the world who are addicted to melting glass all converging in one place to take classes, catch up on each others' lives, play on the torch together at night, honor their members, hear amazing technical and inspirational talks, sell their work to the general public, buy tools and supplies, and generally have fun.  All of this while freezing in the hotel and hardly ever venturing out - ha!

This happens every year, and despite the sad sound of "Houston in July", I decided to submit a presentation proposal and also take a class.  I put together a presentation highlighting a number of years of collaborative work with metalsmiths, seed bead artists, and other glass artists, which also included a filmed demonstration of some of my techniques.  It was so much fun to recall the inspiration and creative processes, and share photos of the work in progress, and I really enjoyed my first time as a presenter.  The class I took was from UK bead artist Amanda Muddimer, and it was incredible.  More and more I find myself pushing myself to master precision work in glass (it's hard!), and her sundial and harlequin cabachon designs are both challenging and stunning.  I can't wait to translate these skills into my own designs.

The Meanies were front and center in my presentation as they were part of my first collaboration with Cyndie Smith.  At the show in Houston I showed them in a new way, as a botanical specimen collection.  What do you think?

Meanie cultivars.
My most recent collaboration, while not covered in the presentation, was to work with the amazing Joy Munshower (glass sculptor extraordinaire) on an aquatic-themed donation piece for the live auction the night of the banquet.  It included one of Joy's incredible octopus focals, plus some of my own hollows, electroformed shark vertebrae, and gemstones brought back from Israel a few years ago.  

The slideshow below includes many of my wonderful memories from the conference, and also a shot of Penny Dickinson (ISGB Southwest Regional Director) modeling our collaborative piece that she won in the auction.


Are you making lampwork beads and intrigued about the benefits of being an ISGB member?  Visit: http://isgb.memberclicks.net/member-benefits to learn about the various levels of membership and their associated benefits.  I am deeply grateful for all of the opportunities to learn and grow that have come my way through this organization.  And if you're a Silicon Valley area bead maker please visit our local Silicon Valley Fireflies chapter's website to learn how you can attend one of our monthly meetings and become part of this wonderful group.

P.S.  I won a Paragon kiln in the raffle.

Straw Bale Garden Update: Week 15

I've been out of town for a week and the garden has skyrocketed!  I'll show you what's happening there, and then my next post will be about my trip to Houston for the ISGB Gathering conference.  It was FABulous!

How does my garden grow?  FABULOUSLY, thank you very much.
Yep, we've barely begun to start the harvest and I'm a convert.  This is already the best producing, healthiest, lowest effort vegetable garden we've ever grown here, and I'm still loving it.  The bales are getting drip irrigation once per day for about 10-15 minutes, and they seem pretty happy with that schedule.

Spanish Musica (a lovely flat Italian bean) and Kentucky Blue Lake beans are starting to ripen.
Persian cucumbers - love 'em!  This one is almost a little too big now.
The German Orange Strawberry tomatoes are nearly ready too, and they're the biggest we've ever grown.  Oddly, this determinate plant is one of the smallest of the lot.  The sprawling Sungold (indeterminate) has loads of tiny little tomatoes.  I'm starting to think I may actually need that tall trellis after all, at least for some of our tomatoes.
We've got a number of clusters of plum tomatoes, and some seem to have blossom end rot.  I ground up some egg shells and watered them into the bales.  I'm hoping this will work, since calcium is supposed to address that in soil, at least.
The onions are getting big too.  I may have to harvest some as green onions to allow the rest to bulb out.
OK, so technically these leeks are not in a bale, but they're looking great!  I planted them deep and slowly added soil around them as they grow, to make more of the tasty white part.  Like the onions they will need thinning.
Squash, eggplant, basil and broccoli.
We've gotten at least one yellow pattypan squash to date, and I need to harvest some basil to make pesto.  There is one eggplant in process, and the tiny plant has several more stunning blooms.  I can't imagine that tiny plant growing even one of those enormous vegetables.

We have had a problem with broccoli caterpillars.  I tried hand picking them every day for almost a week, but the moths just keep laying eggs under the leaves (ick).  I made a concoction of soap, water, and cayenne (it clogged the sprayer until I ran it through a coffee filter) and sprayed the top and undersides of all the leaves, and miraculously the worms have abated, but I see new eggs to next I'm going to try some Bt powder from Safer.  Broccoli is a lot of work!  I remember my dad growing it when I was a kid (organically?  who knows) and he would just soak it in a sink full of salty water to eliminate all the worms before we ate it.  <>  I guess another alternative is the floating row cover, to prevent the moths from laying the eggs.

I'm feeding worm casting tea, sometimes aerated, sometimes not, and I imagine that's largely responsible for everything being so vigorous.  And I feel warm and squishy all over every morning when I go out to walk among the bales and soak it all in.  This is truly food for my soul.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Straw Bale Gardening Update - Week 10. Progress and plant list.


The garden on the Summer Solstice.  The broccoli and potatoes seem to be growing the fastest these days.
Happy Solstice!  It's a comfortably warm high overcast day here in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California, and I'm trying to focus more on the warm growing days to come rather than the downhill trend of the light.  We had a lovely little Solstice Eve dinner party last night and it was heaven to be able to be outdoors lingering over our appetizers and cocktails, enjoying the light and warmth.  Coincident with the World Cup we chose a South American theme for our food and drink, and yes, it's true that Pisco Sours pair wonderfully with Peruvian ceviche.  Yummm!  And while the last course is seldom something I attempt, this dessert was absolutely killer and easy to make.

Much has passed in the garden since I last posted.  Shortly after putting up the fence we're pretty sure one of the 4x4 posts had a deer encounter.  Or vice versa.  One morning on my typical bathrobe garden patrol I discovered the deer netting in one corner was sagging, and the 4x4 post was wobbly and had a chunk missing from one edge.  WTH?  The fencing was not breached, just loose.  I had marked the enclosure all around with white flags as instructed, but it sure looked like a deer had knocked into it, and my discovery of a half eaten stalk of green grass on the wood chip covered ground next to the post confirmed that hypothesis.  My husband dug up the 2.5' long metal fence post stake we used to install the 4x4s and found that two of the four welds was broken.  Fortunately it was fairly easy to pry it up and he installed a new one and we're back to business.  As a precaution I bought some solar powered spot lights to illuminate the posts at night, and they're working great. 
This is the long stake that holds the 4x4 posts for the deer fence.  These are the two welds that broke from the deer encounter.  I bet he had a headache for a spell.
True to my nature I've been impatient with the rate of growth of the vegetables, and insanely check everything at least twice a day to see how they're doing.  When I look at photos from a few weeks ago I guess I can see the progress.  I've been feeding everything with organic fruit and vegetable food from the nursery, as well as aerated worm compost tea.  I take a handful or two of castings from my worm bin (where we recycle our kitchen scraps) and run water over them in a sieve over a 5 gallon bucket until it's about 3/4 full, returning the dazed and confused invertebrate helpers back to their bin.  I add a tablespoon or two of molasses and seaweed extract, and about a cup of fish emulsion.  Then I use either an aquarium air pump or my oxygen concentrator (with a bubble stone on the tubing) to aerate it for a day or two until a scum forms on top.  This is a food and beneficial bacteria treatment in one that I can water with or spray on the leaves.  It's a bit labor intensive and I have yet to do this for an entire season, but I hope to continue it and report good results in the fall. 

Sunny Delight squash may be the next eaten since the sugar snap peas have finished.
Heirloom tomato German Orange Strawberry is laden with fruit.
This Midwestern girl loves her potatoes.
Looking down the tomato row.  I've interplanted some kale here and there for lack of space.
What started as tiny little onion sprouts are now starting to hold their own.
Here's a list of the 28 different food crops we're growing in this 23' x 18' space in our Sunset Zone 15 garden, in the 12 bales and a few extra containers:

Heirloom tomatoes:  German Orange Strawberry, Isis Candy, Black Krim.
Other tomatoes:  Roma, San Marzano, Sungold
Swiss chard, dinosaur kale
Cucumbers:  Green Finger, Diva
Beans:  Kentucky Wonder pole, Spanish Musica pole
Potatoes:  Red Norland, Yukon Gold
Evergreen hardy white onion
Squash:  Sunny delight, Cocozella heirloom squash
Peppers:  Red Beauty bell, Golden Treasure heirloom pepper
American Flag leek
Marathon broccoli
Albion strawberry
Italian basil
Mexican lime

In containers on the deck I've got radishes, more basil, Improved Meyer lemon, Black Mission fig, and sugar snap peas.  Among the vegetables I've also got lobelia, marigold, Alba nasturtium.  My husband is also looking after some salad greens, corn, and additional chard and kale in a shadier area. 

Maybe next time I'll share a little about my worm composting setup and how I make the aerated tea.  How is your garden doing this year?








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