Monday, May 30, 2011

Premium Bird Feed

Song birds aren't the only ones that like a high-quality bird seed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Investing in Happiness

Nothing but the best for my birds!

Jenny Hopple of Authentic Living had a good post last week about "How to Afford to Buy Handmade on a Shoestring."

In it she wrote, "The key to being able to afford to buy handmade on a shoestring budget is looking close and hard at what you'd be willing to do without or to do with less of in order to be able to buy more amazing handmade goods."She followed up by giving some examples of the tradeoffs she chose to make in order to buy things she loves.

It is very true that by altering our spending habits, we can invest in things that make us happy. I think it is equally important that we celebrate the great choices that we make.

Far too often I focus on what I don't have: a summer cottage on the lake, anything in a Tiffany box, a little red Corvette; all the while discounting the things that I chose to bring into my life. Don't those things deserve my attention far more than any perceived lack?

I find some of my best "happiness investments" aren't big ticket items. Something as simple as a higher-end birdseed can bring me countless hours of joy.

My husband talked me into buying a premium songbird blend. It seemed like an extravagant expense. The cheap stuff went a long way, but it spouted around the base of the feeder, creating a weeding chore for me. I guess he got tired of me complaining about it.

The premium songbird feed was marketed as "no waste" and they aren't kidding. No filler seeds are spouting from this blend. The birds gobble up every last morsel. And my bird buffet participants have increased to include bluejays, cardinals, and woodpeckers. In fact, one of  "my" bluejays is munching on his premium chow right now.

I didn't buy expensive birdseed. I bought myself (and my indoor cats) some happiness.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Incubating an idea

Chinese Panda Necklace
Sometimes a project flows. The muse speaks and you create. Other times an idea has to incubate.

For me, the incubation process can happen in my head. I picture something; a shifting something that is too fuzzy to become real. As fledgling idea starts to solidify, the incubation can move to paper. A quick sketch will keep the idea alive until it is ready to greet the world.

Some projects, like this one, spend a long time incubating. The initial idea came quickly enough. My hand touched a stamp in my collection; a simple strolling panda. I pictured  black ink on delicate translucent clay. I stamped the image onto a sheet of freshly rolled clay.

Yet, it was not what I had pictured. It was too white. I added some blue chalk to the raw clay around the panda. Better, but still blah. Surely the border would add life. Well, it kind-of did. It still didn't work. Maybe once I strung the pendant with some bright orange gemstone chips, that would pull it all together. But, it didn't.

So the piece sat. Unfinished. Incubating.

Then the muse spoke. Finally! She starting whispering through the glass beads. Golds and greens. They felt Asian, more Asian than the pastel blue. I pulled out the alcohol inks, and this idea that had incubated for months greeted the world in my YoungCreative shop.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Inspired by Steichen

My husband's uncle often gives us delicious Christmas gifts that feed our bodies such as delicately crafted marzipan fruits, but my favorite gift from him is one that feeds our souls, a subscription to Smithsonian magazine. Visiting the Smithsonian museums regularly is one of the things I miss since we moved from Washington D.C.

One of my favorite articles was about  fashion photographer Edward Steichen. It was illustrated by his glamorous black and white photography from the 20s and 30s. Such and elegant period! When I finished reading the magazine, I couldn't bring myself to recycle it. The photographs called to me. I clipped them to store in my "idea file" to wait for an idea to arrive.

An idea eventually arrived, probably one that Steichen would greet with displeasure, yet one that made me smile. I decided to combine the refined elegance of the black and white photos with airy, vibrant tissue papers. In my first try, I tore random pieces of paper and began to decoupage them onto a canvas, but the pattern was too distracting so I shifted my focus to large squares of color. I'm happy with the end result and I get to enjoy Steichen's work with my own twist on it.

Have you ever taken liberties with a master's work?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Floral Arrangements for Mom

If you are looking for a unique idea for a flower arrangement, you may what to check out Fantastic Flower Arrangements.  This blog is filled with, well, fantastic flower arrangements like this Ikebana-inspired arrangement and the Zen Arrangement below.

I know Mother's Day is tomorrow, so you may want to hope over and get inspired so you can whip something up this afternoon. You don't have much time left!

Zen Arrangement

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hummingbird Pin: Modelling Mother Nature

Hummingbird Brooch/Pin

Capturing the essence of a bird that is constantly in motion is not an easy thing, but as with all things in life practice brings one closer to perfection.

I sculpted this hummingbird brooch using several colors of polymer blended over a hand-formed pre-baked polymer base structure. Wire inside the beak keeps it strong. I added a little extra dimension to the color with alcohol inks. The piece is my entry in the May PCAGOE Challenge: Flora & Fauna.

This is my second attempt at creating a hummingbird. I had a special request about a year ago to create several pieces for an art quilt: a hummingbird, a butterfly, and some lady bugs. I was really happy with how they turned out, but this second attempt is getting closer to the real thing. I'd like to try a third version combining some of the best traits of the first and second versions. It is a great example of how it can be beneficial to explore an artistic theme for a while rather than flitting off to the next new thing.

Art Quilt Decorative Pieces



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