The story of the hearts

August 5th, 2010

Please click on picture for closer look.

Before I left for Michigan for a vacation I saw a picture of a sterling heart — just the outline but very attractive looking. But while in Michigan it was not a vacation as we had planned. Instead my dad passed away. His health had been getting worse and in the end, it is a blessing but it’s not what I had in mind for the trip back home.

Since coming home to Wisconsin I’ve been getting ready to go back to the Dane County Farmer’s Market on the square in Madison this Saturday and then on Sunday I have an art show at the Tallman House in Janesville.

Checking my earring racks I realized that I needed another 10 or so pair of earrings so that was yesterday’s project. But in the back of my mind while I was creating earrings was ‘Where did I see that sterling heart?” I would make a pair of earrings and then look. I looked through all my recent magazine purchases, looked at my tutorial downloads and pulled up the history on my computer — no heart to be found. I could have gotten the darn earrings made a lot quicker if that heart hadn’t haunted me all day. I emailed some online friends  wondering if any of them had seen it. One said she did and spent her morning check her magazines but couldn’t find it and another emailed me this morning with the info — thank you Kate and Barb!!

The heart on the left is the one I conjured up from what I remembered of the picture. The one in the middle is following the tutorial. The one on the right is a different version.

Maybe there is a reason this heart demanded to be made this week…

A summer Sunday night in a small Wisconsin town

July 19th, 2010

Please click for a closer look

Well, tonight was a perfect example of small town Wisconsin on a Sunday night. Music in the park with friends and neighbors – folks dancing the polka and 2 step on the lawn and cement walkways.

It has been in the low  to mid 90s here for the last few days with about 95% humidity and today was no exception. When we walked out of church this morning just before 10 the humidity was a slap in the face. After getting home, I set the AC to a somewhat comfortable temp and did chores around the house. We had plans for friends to come to Brodhead and go out for  supper before going to the park for music. I had stepped out about 4pm and it was still pretty miserable.The local Brodhead Optimists were  having a pie/ice cream fundraiser tonight and I had the oven and AC running today as I had volunteered to bake 2 pies (pumpkin if anyone is wondering).And they sold 17 pies which means about 120-150 folks had pie and ice cream while they enjoyed the music.

For about 8 weeks in the summer the  BID Board in Brodhead sponsors a different band who play every Sunday night from 6:30 to 8pm.  The band scheduled for tonight’s concert was the Stateline Playboys. The Playboys are a local group who have been together in one form or another since 1965. They had some of the past musicians come up and play with them tonight. They play a great mix of waltzes, polkas including yodeling(a must in a Swiss settled county) and a range of music from Stray Cats to Ritchie Valens and more.The weather cooperated beautifully. While we were eating supper the temperature started to drop a bit. The wind that had been blowing all afternoon settled into a steady breeze keeping the mosquitoes at bay. Lots of old trees surround the park and bandshell where the musicians play. Plenty of lawn and sidewalk left for folks to dance among us folks who just tap our toes.  In case the pie and ice cream wasn’t enough, the local Dairy Queen circulated a cheese tray from our local cheesemaker. Talk about a perfect summer evening – tonight was it! An ideal evening that doesn’t come around often – even in a small town.

And just in case you’re wondering what the picture of the bracelet has to do with the story — it’s my mom’s birthday present and I wore it tonight to ‘stress test’ before I give it to her — even tho’ it will be a month late. Happy Birthday!!

Ask and ye shall recieve!

July 14th, 2010

Please click on picture for closer look.

Apparently besides being a good vendor to bead artists, Szarka can read minds! Szarka of Turquoise Magpie has a monthly drawing for free beads for those of us who have signed up for her newsletter. I’ve been meaning to order some more tiger eye from her as she has a great supply of wonderful shapes and sizes. In my package of beads were a strand of tiger eye rounds, some blue/brown tiger eye nuggets, an assortment of pure copper findings and a beautiful pendant — which  I think is tiger iron. It has a wonderful shimmer and I’m thinking it’s going to be a great focal for the necklace I’m intending on making. Thanks so much!! I can hardly wait to see what I create with the great assortment of beads.

Getting to know you (a new winery)

May 21st, 2010

Please click on pix for closer look.

When I’m not making jewelry we like to cruise  around a new area and sample the food and wine from there –  and this probably explains why I never lose any weight!

In March we went to Lafayette IN for a couple of days. My brother in law and his wife  live outside of Columbus OH and we live in southern WI. A long drive either way, we finally decided to find some middle ground to meet making the drive shorter for both of us. The guys consulted the map and decided Lafayette looked good. Hotel reservations were made and off we went.Of course, we had to take some Schullsburg 4 year cheddar along with the our favorite baby swiss.

We stayed on the edge of town and spent a couple of days exploring Lafayette’s downtown area. We found a nice artist’s coop appropriately named Artists Own. My sister in law and I wandered through there and talked to the artist working that day while our hubbies checked out the nearby bar.

The second day we cruised around the area and found a local winery, Wildcat Creek. Locally owned and operated, it’s wine tasting takes place in an old renovated farm house. They purchase their grapes from Michigan and Wisconsin. We chatted with the folks there and checked out their gift shop area also. I was especially pleased to see that their gift shop featured local artisans for jewelry and chocolate among other goodies like salsas.

We bought a cherry wine which we haven’t had yet but the next time I bake brownies I’m substituting the wine for the liquid in the recipe. They assure me the brownies will  taste wonderful like chocolate covered cherries!

i’m so excited and i just can’t hide it!

May 3rd, 2010

I’m not much for disco music (Bob Seger and Rod Stewart are more my style) but this song title really says it all today!

About 2 years ago, I went to the Monroe Art Council for a meeting to hear Karin Wolf speak about advocacy for the arts — and using art as a component to bring money into communities where they have lost industry as a means of support. I heard Lynn Lokken speak about Barn Quilts and I decided that day I would sponsor one – since I don’t have a barn to hang on one.

I saved up my money from my business and was able to write a check for it after a few months. I had asked Lynn when I contacted her if it was possible that it hang on a barn on ‘this side of the county’ as Brodhead sits on the Rock/Green County line. I admit – I had ulterior motives in asking this. I wanted to be able to show people and drive by and admire it from time to time. I have friends who quilt and are actually able to finish a quilt – unlike myself. I still have a lap quilt that is over 20 years old and has never been finished — I’ve started to hand quilt the top in place… but onto the barn quilt. It’s a much better story!

Lynn was able to fulfill my wish as Tammy Riemer had talked her husband into the fact they ‘needed’ a quilt on their barn. Tammy’s dad and Don (my husband) had ridden together to Janesville for work for a while until the shift change interfered. Tammy and Rob live north of town just a few miles.

Tammy liked the thought of community involvement and had asked Lynn if she could have a couple of seniors (in high school – not the old kind) do the painting. In Brodhead, instead of final exams, seniors have to have a Senior Project. They have to spend at least 20 hours in doing the project, 10-15 minutes in presenting in May of the year they hope to graduate and it has to have a community service aspect to it.

And the quilt evolved from there. As the sponsor I got to pick out the square for the quilt. After talking it over with friends I learned there were state quilts and thought that sounded very cool. So I Googled until I found information.

Back in the last century, Hearth and Home was a popular farm magazine featuring many patterns. In 1912, they asked readers for quilt blocks from each state to represent the state capitals. After looking them over, they published the ‘best’ of the blocks. Some were original and some were revamped from other quilt block patterns.The quilt block for Madison fit the bill as the quilt would hang on the north side of the barn and would be seen from a distance. Tammy and I got out the crayons and colored for a couple of days to make the final decision. We weren’t allowed to have green as it is the color of John Deere and Rob is not a John Deere man. Quite a geometric pattern it looks great with 3 bold colors – red, blue and yellow.

I’d made my contribution so the ‘kids’ – Abby and Corey began their work. Working with the geometry class, they sketched and taped the pattern onto the quilt block You will notice it is not square so the wood had to be trimmed to match the pattern. The quilt is made of 2 sheets of plywood and painted with 3 layers of primer. They taped off the sections and proceeded to paint – one color at a time and 4 coats of each color.Then the frame was made of 2x4s and attached to the quilt last Friday.

About the time the quilt was being finished, Lynn was contacted by the Wisconsin Milk Producers. They wanted to feature a barn quilt in a upcoming commercial and Lynn thought ‘our’ quilt fit the bill. Family farming at it’s best with Rob and Tammy being 3rd generation. That was another part of why the quilt fit so nicely with the Madison quilt block — the family farm was purchased by his dad from his dad in 1921 if I remember correctly and the quilt patterns were selected in the teen years of the 1900s. Sponsored by a small business woman and painted by youth in the community rounded out the process.

Today the quilt went up using the block and pulley system and was filmed by the Wisconsin Milk Board. There will be a 90 second commercial aired in June featuring the quilt and the farm — very cool. On hand were Lynn and her co worker who head up all the Green County Barn Quilts. Her daughter and grandchildren were present to help along with Rob’s cousins who live down the road and farm also. Rob’s dad, Ben was the first on the rope to help lift the quilt into place. Don and I took our spots on the rope along as Rob and Pat Faessler made sure it went into place and secured with with 6 inch long bolts.

To see the complete pictorial please go to my Facebook page. To learn more about Barn Quilts in general please click here.

A rose is a rose is a – what did you to do it?

April 2nd, 2010

Please click on picture for a closer look

Featured above are a necklace and a bracelet — created with the same weave. One is very shiny which is how I generally like to wear my sterling. The other is after I patinated or antiqued it. And I had to say I really like it – much more that I really thought I would.

I liked the necklace so much that I sorted through my inventory and did some more – all told about 10 pieces. And yesterday I wore the Jens Pind bracelet and I was amazed at how it sparkled even more that it had when it was all sterling. The light really reflected off the sterling highlights. Quite amazing!

Please click on picture for a closer look.

I’m not sure that the sparkle will show up in this picture but this is the bracelet that I really noticed the sparkle in.

I’ve come to the conclusion that our jewelry is like a person. When someone throws dirt at you, the true person really shows up under the dirt and shines through.

A little help from your friends

March 11th, 2010

Please click on picture for a closer look

This weave is called Jens Pind — and pronounced yens pint. Which leads me to think it has a Dutch heritage but who knows. You know — De Jong pronounced De Yong…

You know how much you’ve learned when you try something again after a year and you can learn it this time around. I’ve had that happen with 2 different weaves in the last 2 weeks. I think it’s a great sign of building on what you know and apparently, I’ve learned more than I thought.

I had tried this weave about a year ago and it was very aggravating so I put it away. I tried it again last week and with the advice of some online friends at Chainmailler’s Esty Guild I was able to figure out my mistakes and weave on. Of course, I have to tell you that in weaving this bracelet I tore out as much or more than the length of the actual bracelet so in effect I’ve actually woven 4 bracelets while making 2 of them. I told a friend of mine it’s like learning to sew and put a zipper in. After you’ve torn the zipper out 3 or 4 times to do it correctly you can probably do it in your sleep. The bracelet pictured  is actually the second one I’ve made in the last week but I’ll only bore you with one pix since they are identical other than the length.

It constantly amazes me how much the internet and the correct use of it can help us country folks interact with each other and learn things. I’ve got a friend who sees no value in the internet at all other than email. I love the internet — I’ve learned so much! It’s like having a personal library all to myself. I still spend a pretty fair amount of time at our new local library and when someone says they are trying to figure out how to do something I always direct them to the library. But some days when the weather is bad or I’m short of time I just Google!

Too much bling?

February 24th, 2010

Please click on pix for closer look

I’masking the question about this bracelet — do you think it’s too much bling? Too many Swarovski crystals? I’ve got friends that would seriously debate on the side of “There’s never too much bling”.But for some folks it might be — I’m not really sure.

I used the sapphire blue Swarovskis in the bracelet with the thought that blue has become another neutral color for a lot of us – like black or khaki or taupe. A good majority of us wears jeans as our casual look and without even thinking about it – blue now goes with everything.

When I wove this bracelet yesterday using Argentium sterling rings and Swarovski crystals I decided to add more crystals than are commonly used in this design. When I finished it last night I really liked it — now that I’ve looked at it this morning I’m asking “Too much bling?”.

If you would like to purchase this bracelet, it’s for sale on Artfire and      1000 Markets in  my shops and I guess the answer will lie in the fact of how quickly or if it sells.

Wellife Mind-Body-Spirit Expo

February 19th, 2010

Please click on pix for a closer look.

Well, I had an interesting time last weekend. I did a Wellness Expo… Really had not idea what to expect — new age, chanting, drums beating??

Well, actually not as ‘new age’ as I had feared. No chanting that I heard on my end of the exhibit hall but there were drums beating and bowl ringing. The bowl ringing was unusual but kind of pretty.

The physics were at the other end of the exhibit hall from me — the drums were a lot closer to them than me. In between us there were folks with beautiful painted scarves, crystals (not the Swarovski kind — although I had a couple of women ask me when pointing at some of my earrings “‘what kind of power do they have?’), massage – Thai massage done on the floor, regular massage done on massage tables, Reiki massage, and countless other things I didn’t even know what they were.

Right next to me was a photographer — Gene Summers of Countryside Images . He had some wonderful work – I think my favorite was a picture of a street scene in Italy with vibrant red geraniums.

My favorite vendor there was a chocolatier – Josie from Terra Source Gourmet Chocolates. I have to admit I was hesitant ’cause I saw a label that said vegan — I’ve tried vegan things before and frankly, not been thrilled. Well, these are to die for — the most wonderful chocolates I’ve had — and Josie’s beats Godiva’s hands down. Please order some from her and help keep her in business. She’s like the rest of us — a ‘real’ day job and then creates the chocolates at night and sells on the weekend and online. Truly an artist with chocolate!

One of the most looked at pieces over the course of the weekend was the bracelet pictured above. I bet 9 out of 10 people picked it up, admired it – actually almost petted it and put it back on the table. It’s apparently one of those ‘waiting for the right person’. I’ve had a couple of other pieces like that and as much as they are admired they seem to ‘belong’ to someone who hasn’t come along yet. And they all wanted to know what kind of stone it was… And I’m not sure — I lost the tag somewhere along the line before I ever made the bracelet. I’m kind of leaning toward Kyanite but not 100%  sure. If you recognize it, please let me know and I’ll be glad to give it a proper name. Maybe that’s why no one bought it – it’s waiting for a name, like a puppy!

“I am definitely going to take a course

January 15th, 2010

Please click on bracelet for closer look

on time management… just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.”

Sometimes that is exactly how I feel! Especially at this time of the year! Art Show applications  flood the table. I look at them, sort and change my mind and sort some more.

“What shall I do” and “Where shall I show”? Pieces of paper flutter to the floor — shall I even pick them up? Am I making the right decision?

Well, one decision I made was to create this bracelet pictured above. It all started with a coil of wire — I’m sure my customers sometimes must tire of hearing that phrase…. But it’s the truth(said in an Edith Ann voice). I had a great time creating it — learned some new things along the way too!

(And as soon as I’ve made my decisions where I’ll be this summer — I’ll let you all know) Stay tuned!