Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

Now that the New Year is upon us, and in a few days, all the decorations will be packed away until next December, I take more time to renew my connections with what makes Christmas special to me. The tree is full of memories with hand-made decorations hanging generously from all the branches.

Each year, mid-December, as Christmas drew near, my father would take the family out to choose a Christmas tree. We spent hours in the Mid-West snowy cold driving from one tree lot to another in search of the perfect tree. After much consideration, dispute, and anguished selection, we finally made a choice and tied the tree to the roof of the car, and drove our prize home. There it would sit propped up out in the cold, allowing the branches that had been compressed into a flat shape, to adjust into their natural shape. We would occasionally shake the tree and branches to help it untangle and shed dried needles.

One year, as I was going through the preparations, I dis
covered a perfect little nestdeep in it's branches, which I accordingly took it for a sign of good fortune. After all, how many times are we lucky enough to get a tree that had a nest too? And so, in its propitiousness, I have honored that same little nest in a conspicuous place at the front of the tree ever since. Now, many (many) years later, as my glance falls upon it, I am reminded of its origins and the circumstances that surround it. In remembering my father on this New Years Day, I celebrate his loving and creative spirit by sharing with you the miniature birdhouses that he made for me one year. I also honor all those family and friends who helped to create a variety of decorations to include felt snowmen, fabric covered balls, paper snowflakes, clothespin soldiers, and tiny paper doily angels. One year we got my sons involved and made bread dough ornaments of an angel, teddy bear and a even a fisherman holding a huge worm. (Boys will be boys!) When each of them got married, I shared some of these ornaments with them so that they also have memories on the branches.

My very best wishes to you all for a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Necklace that toyed itself into existence

My latest creative pursuit is a necklace that started with one of those ugly beads. It was elongated, and a drab shade of orangey-rusty-brown. Really an ugly thing. Lately, however, I have been looking at this sort of thing as a challenge to create something that exonerates it and makes it beautiful in its own way. To begin, the bead was added to a rosary type link and wire wrapped, continuing the wrapping to spiral about the bead. In the spiraling I added small orange seed beads to help hide it. It looked better, but what do you do with one rather large ugly bead wrapped with wire and decorated with seed beads. OK, being me, I made it the focal point. In my last necklace, the bead was the focal, but this time, the bead didn't carry enough design interest to make on its own. I set it aside, and was just playing with wire, created a triangular spiral that waved off at the end. ...Had no idea what to do with that either! Somehow, ...maybe they bumped together, and the idea of using them together began taking shape. Hanging off the lower edge of the triangle, the forming pendant was somewhat interesting, but was lacking still. The focus really needed to go to something else.

Rocks. I love rocks. A few weeks back, I had found a small egg-shaped river stone that was in the garden
path in my backyard. It was a stone that just told me that it was meant to be more than a part of the path, going unnoticed and anonymous. At the very least it would have been happy as a worry stone, residing in a pocket and caressed occasionally, connecting the bearer with a sense of Mother Earth and grounding. The desperate mind will try anything, and so the river stone found a new place to rest. Wrapping it was a little challenging because there were no dents or corners to hold the wrapping wire, but after playing around with it I finally came up with a satisfying result. The pendant was looking very primitive and somehow talisman-like.

Next, I searched through the diminishing supply of ugly beads to find the drabbest, dingy gray rounds I could find. They needed to look earthy and natural. Adding those and a few more primitive wire links, it began to feel important. However, it needed more prestige. How about some verdigris? Just like the beard of an old man, it got more credible in age. A homemade recipe, I used:
  • 2 parts white vinegar
  • 1 part non-sudsy ammonia
  • 1/2 part non-iodized salt

Put these ingredients into a spray bottle and mist the piece. The chemical reaction starts very quickly. Spray a few more times. Remove the piece to a paper towel and allow to dry and sit overnight. The "rusting" process will continue, and the next day you can see the results. Mine were a bit too green, moving the necklace into a different color range, so I washed it and rubbed some of it off. Once dry, I was able to move into adding the fiber part to the neck. Now, the Talisman came together quickly, and this is the result....

Mother Earth's Talisman Necklace