Sunday, January 31, 2016


"Competition"  (So sorry.  I lost the business card for this artist!)

Jaynee got me this photo from a fellow artist at the Wings Christmas show in December.  He titled it "Competition," explaining that this was how artists look at each others work.

At first, I didn't get it.  Then, I spent some time looking at the intent gazes of this wolf trio.  Look at that focus.  That curiosity.  That interest.  

I'm uncomfortable with "competition."  Even though I recognize and admit that I am competitive.  Maybe it's my gender conditioning.  Girls are supposed to be "nice," right?  Competition isn't usually viewed as falling in that "nice" category.

But competition is healthy.  Competition is a big part of how I learn new techniques, try new things.  Competition makes me aware of my various fields - what's being done, what I think I can do differently.  Sometimes, what I think I can do better.

I've long admired wolves.  They're pack animals that still maintain a very vibrant sense of self.  And, they compete to be the best - for the welfare of their pack and to survive as individuals.

I keep this picture near my work desk.  It's a good reminder to be the best I can be AND to be proud of this.

Friday, January 29, 2016


Look what came in the mail yesterday - lots and lots of saris.  Forty of 'em.

I get these saris from CatFluff on Etsy.  Great customer service!  Dani hand picks the saris based on the colors requested.  These are all used saris.  Some do show their wear, which I actually think only enhances the beauty.  A small percentage have rips or tears.  Since they are silk and old, this is expected.  And, since I'm making nuno scarves out of them, rips and tears are no big deal.

I buy the 22 kilo bundle, which has anywhere from 35-40 full size saris included.  It's like a very colorful Christmas when we open the bundle!  At $185 (including shipping), each sari comes out to cost less than $5.  Not bad.  Especially considering that I can get between 4 and 8 nice sized scarves out of EACH sari.

There are usually a few saris in each bundle that have beading all over or are a heavier weight.  I hold these out for special projects.  I have several set aside to make kimonos and/or large shawls with.  I've also used saris for curtains.  Stunning when the light comes through the silk!

Part of why I like using the saris in the nuno felt is because of the history involved in the pieces.  I find myself wondering about the story of the scarf.  Was the woman who wore it happy?  Was she loved and treasured?  What events did the sari attend?  So many questions...  I like that a piece of someone else's history goes on to become a piece of another woman's life history.

Yes, I'm thrifty and that's part of what drives me to use saris in my work.  And, the silk crinkles up in such a cool way, when felted.  And the colors!  Oh, the colors!  But, mostly, it's the history.  And the proof that women all over the world treasure beautiful things.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Morning Poem (Mary Oliver)

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

from Dream Work (1986) by Mary Oliver

Sunday, January 24, 2016


When I was little, I wanted a sister SO badly.  I asked Santa.  I prayed.  I even lied when people asked me if I had brothers or sisters.  When brother number 3 came along, I told Mom and Dad to take 'im back.  I wanted a sister.

Pinterest image
Today, when I look at my life (as one tends to do in early January/New Year), I am so blessed to have a bevy of beautiful, wondrous sisters.  Sisters that feed my soul, spark my creativity, hold me up when I'm blue, kick me in the ass when I need it.  Mostly, sisters that amaze me with their own special wildness and wisdom.

So grateful...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Wire Wrapping Wonders (say that 3 times fast!)

Just before Christmas, my BrisingBeads Designs partner Jaynee announced that she wanted to learn how to wire wrap.

Perfect, I thought.  Perfect gift idea! 

And, apparently, a perfect art match -

Someone's been busy this week!  

Here's the amazing first attempt.  Silver sheen obsidian (which the picture does not do justice.)

Second masterpiece - labrodorite cabochon.  Love how the fire in the stone shines!  

And then there's this charoite cabochon.  Love the combination of brilliant purple and copper.  I think I'm going to add some lampwork to the necklace.

How cool is this druzy?  I love that both sides show, since they are equally pretty.

Jaynee and I are working on a new BrisingBeads Designs line, "Decadence."  Some higher end jewelry and scarves.  These will be perfect for that, won't they?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Women's History

I'm hard at work on my dissertation that examines the activist work that went into establishing a national Women's History Month.  In my diss, I also look at whether setting aside March as an annual celebration is counter-productive.  Or, whether this still serves an important purpose.

On the one hand, the experiences and achievements of women remains a neglected topic for discussion in most school curriculum, from early elementary through college.  On the other hand, by separating women's history (and African American/Native American/Latino/LGBTQ history, as well) into its own "special" month, the traditional narratives of history don't change, don't become more inclusive.

I'm torn.  I want to celebrate Women's History, because I think it's important to make women's stories more well known.  But, as a historian, I also want the history of women to be recognized as History.  Not some special category.

So, this year, I'm going to feature Women's History notes ALL YEAR, on Fridays.  'Cause women make history ALL YEAR.  Women change history ALL YEAR.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Oh, Earrings

Earrings are one of those jewelry items that I wear every day.  I feel kinda nekkid if I go out of the house without at least one set of earrings on.  Notice I said "set."  More and more, I go for mix and match, rather than pairs.

Polymer cane slices
In an attempt to spice up my earring fetish, I found these wonderful polymer clay canes from Ikandi Clay.  Check out that detail!  Her kaleidoscope canes are nothing short of amazing! 

Ivy had some great after the holiday clearance sales.  So I got a great selection to mix and match.  

Ivy also posts really detailed directions on her website, to make slicing and baking the canes very easy.  I like a matte finish on these slices, so I won't polish them.  Plus polish is a little too labor intensive for earrings I plan to sell for $5.

We sell bunches of earrings at our fall and holiday shows.  That $5 price point makes the perfect "pick it up" present.  The trick is to keep material costs under $1.  So these canes that run about $2 a piece (clearance prices), sliced into 20+ pieces work really well as striking additions to beads and chinese crystals.  Putting all the little holes in the slices is a perfect chore to complete while binge-watching (Outlander!  OMG!  My new reading/viewing obsession!).

Now that I have my piles of polymer AND have spent a week sorting/organizing my bead stash, I can start making earrings.  Honestly, earring production is my least favorite jewelry task.  But I think working with these beauties will make it MUCH more fun this year!

Go check out Ikandi!  Save her to your Etsy favorites.  Amazing customer service, gorgeous polymer, even sends freebie canes with each order!