Sorry for being a little MIA.
WordPress sent me a congratulations message this week saying that I just had a fourth year blog anniversary. Really? I can hardly believe it. I guess I’ve always taken this blog as fun, you know, no pressure. I’ve always written posts when I felt like it, incorporated lovely photos for anyone to use, visited as many people as I could, tried to make friends and be a friend, tried to be honest and inviting and approachable and friendly, and it’s been a load of fun. I also blew right past my 500th post…lol…without even noticing. I suppose I should have noticed.
This week the garden was toured for the possible inclusion into the Art in the Garden weekend and folks, it looks good! I think I might be in there! So I’ve now been hounding my favourite garden centre for ideas on how to make my garden the most beautiful, distinct garden out there.
The other day, Clove and I stopped at Sbux and, while we were waiting for our drinks, C looked around and whispered, “mom, no one is talking.” I looked around and sure enough, everyone was either on PCs or iPhones. No one said a word!
Later that day, I sat down to a new page in my journal and, remembering the Sbux loneliness, I decided to build a regatta where everyone is chatting, happy, loud and boisterous; even if they are in the confines of their own boats. Stay tuned…
C and I also drove out to mom’s a couple of times this week. It’s pretty darn cold and wet in Van and my car has lovely front seat warmers. Let me tell you, having a warm bum can really make all the difference to an annoying stop and go X city drive. So when we get to mom’s and the child has to sit in the back seat…some days I think we really need an upgrade to a model with rear seat warmers.
Today we booked a week in Mexico! Flip flops, bathing suits, summer dresses, sun! Heaven.
Sharing with Nancy and all our random friends.
…but it just go to be too late.
I blame it on the Oscars, and on a rather sombre Saturday, but, this weekend just sort of got away from me.
My 100yr old friend Norman passed away last week. A rather expected but nevertheless very sad thing. But I must say, how wonderful to have such a long, healthy and happy life, and the end of which you are home, pain free and surrounded by your children and friends. Saturday was his funeral and so C and I took the day to support his daughter, our friend Jane.
Sunday I had a long morning in bed and then a little shopping and we settled into TV. The Wizard of Oz and red carpet and Oscars. We loved every minute of it, since it’s ever so rare that we watch TV to begin with, and then we end up thinking that we should spend more time in the family room/library, it’s such a lovely place.
C and I bought some chips and some fizzy drinks, and C made her world famous guacamole. Morgan cuddled up beside us and I turned on the “happiness light.” (That’s that star shaped thing with the colourful fairy lights in it.) Do you all have a happiness light in your rooms? Robert first started me doing that and I love designating a light to that role.
A couple of weeks ago I bought some scarves at a charity shop and they cost $1 each as long as one bought five. In among the tacky and sparkly things I found two hand made wool scarves including a long cream coloured one hand painted with the solar system and a large moon done in blue. There are two little bits of hand lettering, one which says “size is nothing to the universe” and the other says, “Love surrounds the Earth”. (We think, because the second bit of writing is a bit difficult to read…but we like that)
So Now I am the owner of a lovely long scarf, more like a shawl really, and it has a few worn spots and holes in it.
Now you all know I love age and vintage and character, and I’m even perfectly happy to have the scarf show its age, but I worried that it might get more worn and possibly the holes would enlarge if I left it alone.
I got out my embroidery threads and my box of unfinished projects. I really like embroidery and cross stitch, but that’s just it, I like the stitching aspect and not so much the finished product and displaying it in my home aspect. Not sure what that is about, but think I really should just do something with all these things. My friend N made an amazing footstool with bits of embroidery. Here, I’ll get the link for you. Anyone else come across or done any other fab ideas? I’d love know.
I’ve been in love with the Japanese art of Kintsugi forever, and so I wanted to do something like that on my new scarf. Also I like the concept of Sashiko, little stitches, and wanted to use that on my shawl as well, and so I chose a soft silver thread to mend with, but I wanted to keep the holes, as weird as that sounds, because, after all, the scarf has had a life previous to the one with me, and I wanted to honour that past life to some degree.
I got some soft and dissolve-able interfacing and cut out some circles, like planets, and ironed them on between sheets of parchment paper.
Then I threaded my needle and started the sewing.
Now, I’ve never done anything like this before and had very little idea of what I was doing, but that’s never stopped me before, and besides, how hard can it really be?
The Oscars were fun, weren’t they? I got terribly worn out by the constant thumpy, thumpy background
music noise on that “E” channel with that violet haired Osbourne woman and that other one, Gulliana someone, and so we switched it to the Canadian channel sans thumpy, thumpy noise and that was so much better.
I also hate that pretensions “WHO are you wearing?” question and would love to see more people, like Ellen Page did, say things like, “I found this in my grandmother’s attic!” or maybe, shock and horror, wear the same gown a second time!
But I loved the whole whoop and spectacle of it. I love the acceptance speeches, and was especially impressed by Mathew Macconaughey’s and Jared Leto’s, (we need more young men who seemed to have been brought up right by their mamas), and loved Ellen DeGeneres and her goofy antics and crashing Twitter. So funny. I hear the pizza boy got a huge tip.
So this morning, in the day light, I reviewed my stitching and actually really love it. I love the fragility of the silver thread, and I love the handmade quality of the stitching…I mean, SO not professional! Lol. And I love that the scarf will go on with me and be a lovely, useful object which I saved.
Two more small holes and a larger tear to go. I think I might mend the tear with a bird shape. Maybe the tear will become the bird wing in flight.
Linking with Mary for Mosaic Monday
Those Valentine’s day roses were so lovely that I wanted to hang on to them past their indoor prime and so I lay them on the cafe table out in the garden where I could see them from the kitchen. There’s something so wonderfully decedent about red roses laying on a table outside. Kind of like dropping the rose petals by the front door. When it snowed they were even lovelier. Now the snow is melting and I suppose I’ll have to compost them sooner or later.
Speaking of snow, do you see Morgan there on the patio? You can just about make her out thru the railing at the bottom of the stairs. She has been the grumpiest cat from hell lately. She absolutely hates the snow and growls and spits each time she’s put outside.
Went for a walk round the ‘hood and thru a little botanical garden near by. I was after some winter blooming flowers, like this heather, and then came round this greenhouse full of blooming calla lilies and started begonia hanging baskets and thought to myself, “man, that girl has the best job ever!”
Speaking of gardens, remember when I told you all that I signed the garden for the open garden Art in the Garden weekend? Well, I got the call that the judges would like to come preview the garden this coming Wed to see if they will allow it and the garden looks like a tip! (that’s British for really big mess) Gulp!
So, instead of working in the garden, I decided to clean up the garage and establish a silvesmithing studio on one of the benches. (The garage also looks like a tip.)
I worked all day and cleared off one of the work benches and got out the varnish and decided to sand the work bench down and varnish the plywood top to make it look better, but then I thought that actually I really liked the splattered paint and cut marks and scratches, and so I sanded it only lightly and decided to get my stamps and inks and personalise the bench some more before varnishing it.
I love it! And now I want to paint the walls and rehang the paintings and clean up the potting bench and start the seeds for the flowers and veggies, and invite people in and serve tea at Art in the Garden time, and possibly have some friends come and do some art in there and make my jeweller in there…Oh, I’m so excited for that space.
And I have to have all this done by Wed.
PS. If you’d like the calendar screensaver then help yourself. It’s right there on the side bar for you.
Sharing with Nancy and looking forward to everyone’s randoms.
I thought that I wanted a new desk top, screen saver calendar and so I made one, and then I thought that everyone might like it too, so here it is in full size and, hopefully, if the widget works, it’ll stay for download on the side all March.
Help yourself, because you know my policy of what’s mine on this site is yours too.
I guess by now you all may have heard that Vancouver is under a bit of snow.
I KNOW! RIGHT!?! My poor little garden flowers…which might be made for the snow…but still.
There really wasn’t anything to do about it but go shopping and have some tea.
Actually, I should have been working and Clover should have been studying for her midterm…but whatever.
You all probably noticed that my child has been looking a bit blonder lately. She’s got that ombre thing happening, you know, where she looks like an alien with tin foil all over her hair and can listen to BBC Radio thru her teeth for 30 minutes, and now, the side effect of all that free broadcasting thru teeth, is that she looks completely washed out in my Chanel Coco Rouge lipstick, which she loves to nick for an evening out.
So high on C’s priority list was finding a red lipstick for evening which actually looks good on her. And for C, it has to be organic, cruelty free and affordable. So we did the lipstick run-around and when she was finished trying seventeen different shades and five different brands, she ended up looking very pink around her chin and cheeks from the Kleenex and lipstick smears.
By the end of the lipstick adventure I was dying for a cup of tea and C was feeling starving so we stopped at a new cafe called Faubourg Paris Café and I ordered my Earl Gray and C a ham and cheese croissant.
This is a lovely cafe with a patisserie where they make fabulous pastries, but the Mariage Freres Earl Gray tea they served was just way too weak and flavourless for me. And I did let it steep for a long time.
On the other hand, the cafe is lovely and bright and twinkly with loads of crystal drop chandeliers and pendant lamps, there is a gently projected movie on one wall and the chairs, with the Lucite centres and painted feathers, are lovely.
So back at home, I still wanted my lovely, fragrant Earl Gray and so brewed myself a cup from my super secret, only for me stash of loose tea from Fortnum and Mason and I chose this sweet little cup to have it in.
I love this frosty rose from Royal Southerland and it seems like a fine homage to this ridiculous February snow.
So I had my tea and C got into her sweats and her cue cards and I sat down at the kitchen table to think about my personal journal and see if I could come up with a page.
You know, this page was so hard won. I loved the words “experimental genius” and tried to form a thought from among the other words on the page but it just wouldn’t come and wouldn’t come…and I’d been staring at it off and on for about a week now.
So I sat there and had a little meditation over the page and suddenly there the words were! Right there all along!
The words say: “await the experimental genius in the magnificent fabric of the mind’s eye today”
I saw the experimental genius as swirling colours. Bold and bright colours, mixing and rushing in, taking over an empty space.
But I also saw the experimental genius as small and shy and quiet and softly moving in on silent wings, and you turn around and there he is. So suddenly I was painting an owl. A Little Owl. One of the smallest owls out there.
And then I dulled down the magnificent fabric with a little bit of soft, white tissue paper, a little imperfection, so we don’t take ourselves too seriously as artists.
So this was the most fun!!!!
Remember when I took the basic silversmithing course a few weeks ago?
Remember I told you I would be a repeat offender in Walt’s class?
Well, guess what? Walt decided to hold a spinner ring class with slightly more advanced techniques and I jumped at the chance.
Do you know spinner rings? Fun, fat rings with an outside ring which can spin freely around the inner ring. So lovely, so handy when you’re nervous, so dress up unusual when everyone is wearing plain old “rings”…so what I have to make right now. (Below are a couple Walt made for demonstration.)
But you know me…I’m so not colouring within the lines, by the way…lol.
So come see how these are made, it’s not too hard, I promise. But I would still recommend a class before you try any silversmithing on your own and, if you’re in the Lower Mainland, you can’t do better than Walt’s almost one-on-one, private studio classes, and, he’s running a basic class in a week or two again.
So this ring needs a thicker inner ring which means I got to design, measure and cut out a custom sized piece of silver.
Silver is pretty easy to cut out using these metal cutting shears at this stage, so a saw isn’t necessary for this step.
Next, that whole palaver of adjusting the ends so they fit completely smoothly and snugly begins with endless filing.
Remember, if you decide to become a silversnmith, it’s useful to say, “I love filing…filing is my friend!” over and over again. You can also see how badly I cut this piece of silver with one end slightly wider than the other. You guessed it…more filing.
I’m skipping over the basic flux and solder of the inner ring…you can refer to the earlier post…but let’s just say that after the ring is filed and soldered and in the “pickle”, it’s time to begin work on the outer ring, which will spin around the inner ring.
Now let me tell you why Walt is one in a million.
I think I said something like, “Walt, I’d like to make a wavy branch and have a jewel on that branch in a bezel, kind of like a flower, and I’d like some leaves and maybe a bird on that branch, and I know that this class will finish by 4:30pm and I know that this means hours of custom work which I don’t know anything about, and I also want to make a second spinner ring for Clove, which I haven’t even designed yet but it won’t be simple,…but it’s what I really want.”
And Walt said, “sure, go ahead!” And then! He encouraged me in my crazy designs and showed me short-cut techniques and introduced me to new tools.
So my outer ring began with a length of silver wire. I cut it to two sizes larger than my inner ring size and, after soldering it together, I bent it into a wavy pattern. Then I filed a smooth spot on the branch and soldered the bezel cup to it.
Next I thought about the leaves. I took a little piece of silver, drew three leaves with a sharpie and cut them out with my saw. Then filed them smooth and to the irregular shape I wanted, and used a heavy sort of screwdriver thing and my rawhide hammer to make the leaf veins on the leaves. You can see by the tip of my finger just how tiny these leaves are.
Then I took the edge of a thicker gauge sheet of silver and drew a tiny bird on it and cut it out with my saw.
Then the nightmare of soldering all those bits on my “branch” outer ring began. Whew, they took a fair few tries to get that straight remembering to use the solder in the hard, medium, easy and extra easy steps so not to melt the previous soldered piece with each subsequent heat-up and solder.
From such humble beginnings as scrap bits of silver to fitting the little carnelian gem took hours but I was so proud to be using the burnishing tool and doing that almost final step of fitting the gem.
The very last step to my ring involved slipping the outer ring over the inner ring and gently hitting the ends of the inner ring with a ball-shaped tool to spread them out and keep the outer ring trapped on the band of the inner ring. I’m sorry but I was so excited to do this that I forgot to take a photo. My bad.
For C’s ring I wanted to make her a tree. Not just any tree, a tall, majestic and slim sitka spruce. Walt suggested I learn a new technique or sawing inside a bar of silver, like lace, or cut work. I knew the minute he said that, that this would be the best ring for C. The way to do this is by using this new tool to make a small hole thru the silver and then treading the saw blade thru the hole and gently sawing out the tree shape.
So C’s ring began the same way with a bespoke inner ring, a bar of silver, shaped, filed and soldered together, filed some more and polished, and the outer ring began the same way as the inner, with a bespoke bar of silver, slightly narrower than the outer ring, shaped to make sure the size was correct and then flattened out again.
As with everything, practice makes…well…a better mess the second time than the time before, and after a prototype on some copper, the bar of silver was relatively easy, even if very time consuming. (by the way, filing silver must be a good work out for your upper arms because mine are killing me!)
I got home around supper time and gave C her ring and showed her mine. She absolutely loved them both and immediately gave me a big hug and Instagramed it. LOL. I’ll take more photos in the day time so you can see the rings better but if you have any questions at all I’ll very happily find answers for you.
Oh, and by the way, C has asked for a sitka spruce necklace now…lol. A mother’s work is never done.
I feel so bad when I read all your posts and see all the snow! My poor winter-trapped friends (Except for you lucky ones in California, Arizona, Florida…Spain…etc). But for all my Eastern friends, it’s so lovely here and I almost hate to admit it, C and I are hiking the mountains each chance we get. The snow is melting making lovely, fresh, cold streams of pure, clean water. (Don’t hate me, I’ve got spare bedrooms )
And just as I’m telling everybody how beautiful it is here, last night C comes running into my bedroom saying, “Mom! Mom! You’ve got to come look out the living room window!”
Now that’s random!
Yesterday, I pulled up to a red light and C shouted, “A CARD!” and jumped out of the car picked the card up and jumped back in again just as the light turned green. We have this fancy that sometimes the universe sends us a little message and that playing cards carry divination messages. I know this is about as silly as healing and energy crystals but…whatever…it’s harmless fun. So according to our silly pet website, the 10 of hearts she found tells her: good luck and success is with her. This is good because here she is studying one of the three 40 page readings for her midterm. (By the way, she’s wearing the iron pyrite stacking rings I made for her. I chose the iron pyrite specifically because it brings vitality, creativity and strength…according to C’s crystal healing book)
What are we like?
I walked into the kitchen today to see the contents of the cardboard and catnip scratching box ripped up with a great, big hole thru it, right out of it’s holder, and bits of cardboard and catnip all over the floor, with one satisfied Morgan sitting in the narrow box.
So who can study while there’s a hockey game on, and if it’s the gold medal Olympic women’s hockey being streamed on CBC TV…and you have to be on the internet studying anyway…
Well, C’s face was priceless watching the last period plus the intense overtime, that I took about 70 photos of her. Then I had to make this little one minute movie to entertain you.
Sharing all the random with Nancy.
…and the next day think, “WHAT HAVE I DONE!?!”
Yup I’ve got that feeling.
Yesterday I signed my garden up for an Art in the Garden event.
This is a local event where artists and gardeners come together for one weekend, this year May 31st and June 1st. Musicians preform in the garden, artists show their goods and gardeners open their private gardens for the event.
So far I’ve only applied the garden but also plan to apply for my art.
Today the sun came out and made the most beautiful silver linings and Chloe took her studies into the living room and is moving the chair around following the sun. So I decided I should probably take stock of the state of the garden…especially if I’m going to have an open garden tour. (Gulp)
It’s hard to imagine that my garden could look lush and green and fragrant with blossoms…ever!
So I got out some of my favourite gardening books from my bookshelves and had a good look.
The Art of Gardening in Pots by Elisabeth Lestrieux is my most favourite “garden porn” book in the world! I couldn’t get it in Canada and I really wanted it, (this was years before Amazon delivered everywhere), and so my poor parents tracked it down in England and brought it to me. Ok, my garden will never look like any of the beautiful photos in that book!
Next I looked at Chihuly at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, by RBG Kew. Then I decided that maybe what I really need is a load of fabulous Chihuly glass all over the garden…lol. Not practical you say? Yeah, if I had the million to buy the glass I’d redo this whole garden instead.
So I picked up my good old stand by Martha Stewart Gardening. Say what you will, this book saved my sanity when I was confined to bed for the last trimester of my last pregnancy and I’ll always have a great big squishy spot in my heart for MS.
So now we’re talking doable. That book, plus my other two favourites: The Ornamental Kitchen Garden by the late, great gardener Geoff Hamilton, plus Creating Small Formal Gardens by Roy Strong and I’m set for some serious garden thinking.
Spoke to Robbie this afternoon Van/evening UK, and complained about the state of the garden and questioned what I had done and he said, “Oi, stop being a Joan Collins! … Miss Diva!”
Ok, lol, settling down now!