Thursday, December 29, 2011

Listing New Items

Gearing up for the New Year by listing lots of new items in my Into the Dawn Designs Etsy shop! Some new items include:

PLUS, more herbal pendulums, herbal rune sets, rune necklaces, scarab beetle jewelry, decorative brooches perfect for cloaks... etc.,. etc., etc.! I'll be adding items daily, so be sure to check my shop often; you never know what you might find waiting there for you!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Memories

Wishing all who celebrate a very Merry Christmas!

One year when my brother and I were little, Mom made us Christmas stockings out of felt. Mom insists that she isn't artistic, but I've always thought these sweet little stockings were fantastically creative. And obviously well-made, as I still have mine all these years later!

As kids, my L'il Bro was always up before first light on Christmas morning. Which meant I was also up, because he would creep into my room, pounce on my bed and proceed to annoy me until I went downstairs with him to see that Santa had indeed arrived. We weren't allowed to open any gifts until Mom and Dad were up, but we *were* allowed to take down our stockings to see what was in them. It was always fun to see what kinds of little treasures fit into our stockings. Always a candy cane, and always an apple or orange in the very bottom. That tradition is one of my fondest Christmas memories.

Our Christmas was a quiet affair this year, just the two of us, since we were unable to travel back to Iowa & Wisconsin to be with family. But family was close in our hearts and it was nice to spend some time reminiscing my childhood...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice Blessings

Welcome the return of the Sun! May the blessings of Winter Solstice be upon you! It does my heart good to know that the days begin to lengthen from here on out.

I don't have a particular ritual that I do for the Winter Solstice, but I do like the tradition of lighting the Yule Log to drive away the darkness of the longest night. Unfortunately we have no fireplace, but as you can see above, I make do.

Last night it began snowing around 6pm and it was good to be warm and at home. I was very tempted to stay up the rest of the night and greet the sunrise... but I guess I'm getting a bit too old for that, as my energy puttered out around 2 am.

Perhaps some solstice baking (I haven't yet made my cranberry orange walnut bread this season) will suffice as an alternative way of celebrating this year? Have a Blessed Yule, however you celebrate it!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Week of Healing

It's been quiet on the blog recently as I've been recovering from surgery since the Friday before last. I am happy to report that all seems to be healing well. I will see the surgeon again on Monday and see if he agrees (fingers crossed).

Although the problem presented itself earlier this year, surgery happened very quickly-- consulted with the surgeon on Tuesday, his office called Wednesday afternoon to schedule pre-op tests and surgery, and had the surgery itself on Friday of the same week! And went home that same day.

I had complete trust in my surgeon and the anesthesiologist; they were very good about answering all my millions of questions and explaining what would happen before, during and after surgery. Did you know that they now use a device monitor your brain waves during surgery so that they can tell if you're deep enough "asleep" and whether or not you're feeling pain and adjust medication accordingly? Isn't it amazing what medicine and technology can do these days? My post-op nurse was a gem as well, she took very good care of me until I was ready to go home. Nurses don't get paid enough for all they do, I'm here to tell you.

The Mister and the cats have been taking good care of me, I've been moving gently and resting often... planning for a simple holiday here at home (mmm... honey baked ham and new jammies) since I won't be comfortable enough yet to travel to see family by next week... Life is good!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Round Robin Pages

Earlier this year a group of us online started a pagan art journal round robin. Sadly, the mailing of the circle journals has not gone smoothly and at least 3 of the journals have ended up missing. The rest are on their way back to their original owners without having completed the entire circuit of the group.

I sent Danni's (of The Whimsical Cottage) back to her and she received it today, so I thought I'd share the pages I did for her journal. This first page is inspired by Lughnasadh.

I used alcohol inks for the background on this one and stamped images colored with colored pencils.

The text in the background is from the poem "John Barleycorn."

I included a yummy recipe for honey cornbread muffins, something I make at Lughnasadh.

This second page was inspired by Danni's love of Pan and other forest deities, elves and fairies.

I'm afraid I was a bit overzealous with my use of techniques for this page! Tissue paper and gesso for background texture, age distressed papers with distress ink and water, heat embossing on vellum and alcohol ink faux bleach technique used. And I used a white paint pen for the first time ever, which was fun.

As more journals make it back home to their owners, I will share more of the pages I did for the round robin circle, but for now I'm waiting so they will still be a surprise for the recipients.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Greeman Process

I noticed from reading old blog posts that I often show the beginnings of my creative projects but forget to show them once I have them completed. Oops! So here is a recent custom order I did for a Greenman wall plaque and a few photos showing just part of the process of creating him.

You may remember my post on creating a simple leaf cane. I don't do much canework, but I have made a few simple canes before. The photo below shows the cane all put together before being compressed and reduced.

I used slices of the leaf cane and mixed light and dark olive greens for creating the leaves for the Greenman's face. All the veining in the leaves was done using a needle tool. Here is the completed face on the unfinished plaque.

The leaves on the Greenman were given a wash of either burnt umber or gold acrylic to bring out the details of the veining. Then he was varnished and heat cured once more. The plaque was sanded, stained and waxed. I did a little detail line of gold paint around the edge of the plaque and added felt to the back side, along with a saw tooth hanger.

So here is the Greenman completed! I am always amazed at how an acrylic wash/patina and a varnish can help bring out the colors and details of a piece. If you do polymer clay sculpting and have never tried it, I highly recommend experimenting-- it brings new life to each piece you create.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This November...

... has been rather a bust. A month of FT hours back at work, lots of anxiety (and hence, extra medication) which ultimately culminated in a car accident, then dealing with insurance and auto-body shops and then the holiday, and finally, a cold that's been hanging on, sapping my strength for the past week. Safe to say, I'm glad this is the last day of November!

This week I am...

Watching: The short days get shorter and shorter. Seeing people put up their outdoor holiday decorations and lights, which I love!

Reading: Dawn on a Distant Shore by Sara Donati, second book of the Into the Wilderness series. Strong female character who chose her own husband against the wishes of her father, living in the wilderness of New York state in the late 1700's with her new Native American relatives, lots of adventure and intrigue ensues-- very reminiscent of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I'm quite enjoying these books!

Listening: To a lot of silence. Sometimes that can be comforting. Finally playing some music today-- my secret boyfriend Steve Perry, of course! and that's been nice too.

Trying: To take care of myself, be gentle with myself...

Realizing: There is so much this month that I didn't get accomplished that I really wanted to-- like my Celtic Tree studies, art journaling, baking, creative work... At some point I drifted from my mantra meditation, time to pick that up again... My house is in major need of cleaning and TLC...

Feeling: Very, very, very tired...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving for Two

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!

The Mister and I both worked through yesterday, so no chance for us to travel back to Iowa or Wisconsin to visit family for the holiday. However, we found what had to be the only small turkey (7.5 lbs) in the entire Denver Metro area to enjoy for our own little Thanksgiving meal.

The Mister's grandma always called the Thanksgiving bird "Old Tom Turkey"-- since ours was so small, we started calling him "Tiny Tom." Hubby and I cooked all day together and enjoyed a lovely meal, just the two of us.

It's not a bad way to spend the holiday at all. I'm thankful we have each other.

Monday, November 7, 2011

This Week I Am

Watching: Catching up on shows I've missed because I'm back at work FT and have to go to bed early. My sweet Mister taped The Mentalist, American Horror Story and The Walking Dead for me last week; I watch 'em when I get home from work the next day.

Reading: The Last Druid by P.L. Crompton. I am not impressed. Also started reading about the first tree in the Celtic Tree calendar-- birch.

Listening: To the furnace kick on and off at intervals. Cold weather appears to be here to stay.

Realizing: While I don't appreciate how early it gets dark in the evenings since the time change, it *is* nice to not have to get ready and drive to work in the dark in the mornings. Everything is a payoff...

Trying: To find my creative muse. She always goes on vacation when I start working FT at my seasonal job. *sigh*

Feeling: Stressed out and anxious about work. Hoping I can get my anxiety under control. I've been reduced to taking extra medication so that I can function. Not happy about that, but its a necessary evil right now.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tree Wisdom

All of my early autumn contemplation and turning inward found me yearning to further my pagan knowledge and studies, so I decided to do something I've always wanted to do-- learn about the Celtic Trees and ogham.

To guide me, I'll be working through Sharlyn Hidalgo's The Healing Power of Trees, probably with some extra help from Steven Blamires's Celtic Tree Mysteries. And since I may not have the opportunity to meet very many of these trees-- Colorado being awash in mostly pines, aspens and cottonwoods, it seems-- I have the Celtic Tree Oracle cards to use as a meditation focus, and some very generous friends from around the United States who have offered to send me small branches of some of the trees they have in their yards. Come spring, a visit to the Denver Botanical Gardens will be in order; perhaps I can meet many of these trees there.

Thinking about it now, I'm surprised I didn't decide to do this sooner-- I love working with stones and herbs; but most of all, I love trees. As a child, I was enchanted with the weeping willow tree in our backyard; she was my first taste of the Goddess. Truly, I adore almost all trees I meet. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can learn from them.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Turning Inward

Welcome November! Hard to believe it is here so quickly. As Samhain grew closer and closer, I could sense myself beginning to turn inward for this dark half of the year.

I did a Samhain spread to gain some wisdom as I face the winter months. Interesting cards came up; I think this is a spread I'll need to mull over and perhaps do some meditating with a few of the cards. I sense an opportunity for deep work ahead of me.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Samhain Blessings

A soul, a soul, a soul cake
Please, good missus, a soul cake
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry
Any good thing to make us all merry
One for Peter, two for Paul
Three for Him who made us all

~ Folk song

Wishing you a very Blessed Samhain!

I made soul cakes for the very first time this year. In the past I've left out apples and some sort of bread (usually cornbread) for the spirits. This year I wanted to do something a little more special.


1/2 C butter (1 stick)
2 C sifted flour
1/2 C sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1 egg
1 tsp cider vinegar
2-3 Tbl milk
powdered sugar to sprinkle on top

1. Preheat oven to 350 *F
2. Cut butter into flour with pastry blender or large fork.
3. Blend in sugar and spices.
4. Beat eggs, vinegar and milk together in bowl.
5. Mix with flour mixture until stiff dough is formed.
6. Knead thoroughly and roll out 1/4 inch thick.
7. Cut into 3 inch rounds, place on greased baking sheet.
8. Prick several times with a fork.
9. Bake 20-25 minutes.
10. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar while still warm.

The above is half of the original recipe, so theoretically it should have made only 6 soul cakes, but I got about 13 of them. Maybe I rolled the dough too thin or my cookie cutter wasn't the right size. At any rate, the extras did not go to waste!

I put them in a wooden bowl with an apple (cut horizontally so you can see the pentacle) and set them on the flat offering rock that sits at the entrance of my herb garden. Sustenance for the passing souls as they journey through the veil tonight!

Friday, October 28, 2011

I'll Be at the Ball

The 20th Annual Denver Witches' Ball is TOMORROW NIGHT! Live bands featuring tribal fusion, world groove, Celtic inspired music for dancing, trance drumming, psychic fair, costume contests, and a midnight ritual presented by my friends of Sacred Stone Circle.

AND-- I'll be there! Into the Dawn Designs is part of the Magickal Marketplace again this year. Some of my unique items include--

Hope to see you at the ball!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Witch's Circle: Commitment

There is some interesting conversation going on over at The Deepest Well for the first topic in the newly formed discussion group The Witch's Circle .

In a nutshell, we're asked as pagans-- how committed are we to our path if we have dedicated ourselves to paganism, but haven't renounced our previous faith? In her topic post, Aine says,
"In my opinion, it's too easy to dedicate to something without having to forfeit something else. There is no risk, nothing to lose and because of this, it's too easy to commit."

And, "Commitments are necessary, and sacrifices are a part of life. In your spiritual life, you can't walk two paths at the same time. These paths may run parallel to each other but they are separate."
So I've been chewing on this idea since yesterday. I understand the point, but I'm not sure that I really agree. I have dedicated to my path in ritual, in front of others. I have re-dedicated to my path. I have been part of several rituals where I challenged, guided and then welcomed new dedicants after their year and a day of study. These were rich, emotional, fulfilling rituals with vows that were taken seriously by all involved. But were they incomplete because they didn't include a renouncement of former faith?

I think not. At least for me.

I can't say that I grew up in a very religious family. I remember going to Methodist church when I was very little and I was part of the children's choir for a couple of years. But I don't remember being involved in the church much beyond those years, except for when I would spend the occasional weekend with my Gram and she would take me to her Baptist church.

In my teens and 20's I was confused about religion. I tried finding God by reading the Bible several times, but never made it very far past Genesis. Why was God so down on women? Why was he so angry and vengeful? Where was the love?

In my early 30's I was involved in a 12-steps program, two of those steps stating that I came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity, and, being willing to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God. Wait a minute. I didn't understand God. And I certainly wasn't willing to turn my life over to Him. So I went searching for understanding.

And on my last day as a Christian, I went to Easter services and listened to not one, but two pastors tell me I was an unworthy sinner who needed saved and blah blah blah. It was spring time, a time to be celebrating, and we sang doleful hymns about how Jesus died for our sins and without his sacrifice, we would never make it to heaven and everlasting life. After the service I sat in my car in the church parking lot and cried because I hadn't found God. And I made the decision to explore a different spiritual path, paganism.

Although I didn't state it out loud or during a dedication ritual or in front of witnesses-- I feel that at the moment I decided to pursue a pagan path, I renounced my former (tenuous) faith. I made a choice. I was committed to that choice. And after several years of study, I made a second commitment to my path when I went through a dedication ritual and gave myself to the Lady and the Lord.

I feel I renounced the Christian path when I made my choice to pursue paganism, but I don't renounce God or Jesus. I believe They are just different aspects of the Lord that I now honor. Only I know the Lord as Lugh and the Greenman and Hanuman and Father Sky and by other names. They are all different parts of the whole. How can I reject one of the many faces of the Lord, just because I don't connect with that aspect? Instead, I focus on the faces of the God that I do connect with.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

First Snow of the Season

I've been enjoying a long, leisurely autumn, the trees slowly changing colors this year... but our first snow has officially arrived.

Its lovely and white and slushy and outside, but I fear for the trees. Most have not yet shed their leaves and the heavy, wet snow is dangerously weighing down tree branches everywhere.

Our neighbor has already lost a rather large branch off her elm tree that came crashing down in our yard and crushed part of my laundry line.

Temperatures are supposed to rise to the mid-50's again over the weekend, so the snow won't last long. Hopefully that one branch will be the only casualty.

Monday, October 24, 2011

This Week I Am

Watching: Lots of horror movies! Tis the season, after all! Even if I've seen it a million times, if its a horror movie, I'll probably watch it. I also have some lined up in my Netflix queue, but I have to watch Elizabeth: The Golden Age first. Maybe tonite.

Creating: A tarot box mosaic. Need to make more scarabs. And a million other things before vending at Witches' Ball next Saturday.

Planning: A presentation for my tarot group tomorrow night. Looking at doing some exercises on embodying a tarot card.

Reading: The Druid's Isle by Ellen Evert Hopman. A sequel to the Priestess of the Forest book that got me thinking so much. Wonder if this one will get me thinking too.

Listening: To squirrels chattering and scolding outside. Its a gorgeous, unseasonably warm day, so I have the front door open. The cats are glued to the storm door, watching the squirrels-- not that they'd know what to do with one if they caught one.

Realizing: Returned to my seasonal job today for a short project and got hugs from several people I haven't seen all summer-- made me realize just how much I like my job even though its temporary and made me realize what great people I meet and get to work with there.

Trying: To stay focused and get things done that need doing. Its so easy for me to get distracted.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thoughts on Priestess of the Forest

I finished reading Priestess of the Forest: A Druid Journey earlier this week and I am still thinking about this book.

What I liked about this book: The way it showed how Druid spirituality was a guiding factor in all parts of people's lives-- not just ritual, but day to day activities, healing, hunting and politics as well. I really liked the way Celtic wisdom was intertwined into the story and how the Druids used every day occurrences as teaching moments.

It was also interesting to see how two different monks approached the Druids regarding the Christian faith. One priest shared Christian teachings by telling stories of his God, as the pagans shared stories about theirs. He spread his faith by breaking bread with the pagans, acknowledging their celebrations and being a loving and compassionate neighbor.

The other priest was all hellfire and brimstone. How he made the Christian faith appealing enough to the pagans to convert them is beyond me. He stirred dissension, he lied, was disrespectful of customs and to women...

I'm still questioning how Christianity ever caught on. I can see how it would be appealing to men, but not women. What was so appealing about it? Because there was one god, not many, to believe in, so it seemed so much more simple? Because of the promise of a rich afterlife for everyone, peasant or king, just for having faith? Would it ever have spread so far if it hadn't used fear and force to convert people?

I think it just emphasizes to me that I really am a pagan, because, even though this book is fiction, it is written by a modern Druid, and the Druid wisdom, teachings, rituals and lifestyle the author shares make complete sense to me and are extremely appealing.

I know I've rambled at bit in this post, but basically what I'm trying to convey is that this book really got me thinking again about my path and why it means so much to me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Leaf Cane

 I am making a Greenman wall plaque for a custom order, but before I can actually start designing the Greenman, I need to make a leaf cane...

I don't use a lot of canes in my work, but I can figure out how to make simple ones like this; it just takes me a while to put them together. I made a Skinner blend of two shades of olive clay (light & dark) and then rolled up the blend to make a plug. Then, I cut the plug apart and added brown clay for the veins of the leaves.

Next I reduced the cane in size, by carefully squeezing, rolling and stretching it. For simplicity's sake, I'm going to leave the cane round and then shape the leaves into teardrops after I slice it.

Now I can move on to creating the actual Greenman design!

Monday, October 17, 2011

This Week I Am

Watching: The leaves turn yellow on the tree in our front yard. And watching the clock.

Thinking: About the pagan roots of Christianity (prompted by the book I'm reading-- see below). Thinking about Jesus as a Sun/Grain God. Wondering how pagans fought for their beliefs back in the early days of the spread of Christianity, and for those who converted, what was the appeal of Christianity over paganism? Or was conversion all just done by force?

Creating: Nothing at the moment, but I need to stain some plaques and start work on some leaf canes for a custom order.

Planning: Waiting for some news, so plans are up in the air right now.

Reading: Priestess of the Forest, a Druid journey by Ellen Evert Hopman. I'm about halfway through it. This is a fiction novel, but I really like it, and it has me thinking about my spiritual beliefs.

Listening: to silence, to help keep me calm... as long as my mind doesn't start chattering madly, then some soothing music will be in order...

Trying: To remember to breathe today. Deeply. And trying to stay busy.

Feeling: Very agitated. Waiting to hear back about a possible job opportunity and my anxiety is getting the best of me, unfortunately. I don't like that I still get this way when it comes to this issue. I had hoped I was past this.

Monday, October 10, 2011

This Week I Am

Watching: Morning sunlight flickering through the leaves of the tree in our front yard, always magical.

Thinking: About how fall/winter is a good time to turn inward and do some pagan reading, studying and journaling. Wondering what I should focus on.

Creating: Working on a custom order-- scarab beetle necklace and earrings set. Also working on some art journal pages.

Planning: It's my turn to present at this month's tarot group meeting. I have several different ideas of what I could do, but I need to settle on one and get my presentation put together. Thinking about focusing on exercises that can be done to help clarify meanings of cards that are a challenge to understand.

Reading: Stealing Faces by Michael Prescott. I love good suspense/thrillers and his books are great, if you can stomach the graphic violence. Stayed up until 4:30AM reading his novel Blind Pursuit because it was so riveting. His strong, intelligent female characters are a big plus.

Listening: Last night I was listening to Billy Joel's "The Stranger" CD and thinking, man, I miss the days when music was like that. Also, I think I need more Billy Joel CDs.

Trying: New art journal techniques! Currently fascinated with using alcohol inks for page backgrounds. I have this great alcohol ink faux bleach technique I'm playing with as well.

Feeling: Content. Mellow. Sleepy. Creative. My muse is poking at me-- nice to have her around again.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

First Fall Pot o' Chili

While lots of states have been having unseasonally warm temps it seems, it was cold and rainy here in Colorado this weekend. The mountains and foothills even got snow.

Seemed like the perfect time to make our first pot of super beany chili for fall.

I keep experimenting with our recipe and at this point its come a long way from where I started. This year we found canned fire roasted tomatoes at the grocery store and I knew I had to use those in our chili. Plus, I wanted to try black beans along with the chili and dark red kidney beans, so now my super beany chili has gotten even beanier.

Last weekend we got a bushel of roasted green chiles and spent an evening cleaning and bagging them up to freeze. I think we got about 15 snack sized baggies packed full of green chiles stashed away. A generous half cup of them went into the pot of chili for tonight and I've been collecting other recipes for this winter that use green chiles.

Have you cooked up any fall favorites yet this season?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Art Journal Pages

It's been a long while since I posted any of my 52 Weeks Pagan Art Journal pages because... well... its been a long while since I've had any time to do work on any of them. But here are a couple that are in progress.

This is the page I've started for Week 5, theme "A Letter to Myself." I wanted to try using tissue paper for the background to see if I could create some interesting texture for the page and I've crumpled up and then smoothed out some scrapbooking paper for more texture.

This is another incomplete page; the theme for this one is "Earth." The herb images are stamped and then colored with colored pencils. I wanted to add trees somehow and found this cool embossed scrapbook paper that works. Not sure how I want to finish the page, but I think the Ogham will be part of the design by the time its done.

My summer has been crazy, but now that fall is here, hopefully life will slow down and I can do more with my PAJ pages. I miss art journaling.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wall Decor

Less than 3 days until Front Range Pagan Pride!

Remember the sketches I did of the Day of the Dead skulls I was planning? Here's how the polymer clay versions turned out:

For the most part, I think they turned out just the way I sketched them, and it was nice to have a sketch to reference, I think creating them went pretty smoothly.

Below are some ideas that I didn't sketch out, a couple of Celtic Trees of Life...

Spring and summer trees; I also want to do an autumn one and, if I can figure it out, a winter one, too.

All these & more will be available at my vendor booth at FRPP on Saturday!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Scarab Beetle Jewelry

Only four more days until Front Range Pagan Pride Day!

Here is just some of the sculpted Egyptian Scarab beetle jewelry I've been working on for my vendor booth at FRPP--

A hint of metallic blue, green & gold over black makes for some scarabs with an iridescent glow...

I stepped out of my color comfort zone when I created these turquoise and copper scarabs, but I'm glad I did! Hope this set turns out to be as appealing to others as it is to me!

I have a couple other beaded designs and also have some simple necklaces with the scarabs on silk cording which is done in phoenix tail knot work; all will be at FRPP next Saturday.

Scarab beetles are associated with self-creation, renewal and resurrection. They can be worn as a powerful symbol of rebirth or transformation.

Monday, September 26, 2011

This Week I Am

Watching: My sweet Moose-man sleeping on the couch next to me. Also, another Dexter weekend with the hubby. AND this week's season premieres of Criminal Minds, CSI and The Mentalist.

Thinking: Why is it so hard to find plain old brass thumbtacks? I need some, pronto

Creating: new earrings & necklaces for my vendor booth at FRPP next Saturday, Oct. 1st

Planning: all sorts of new ways to display my items at my vendor booth

Reading: It by Stephen King. I've never read it. Never seen the movie, either. When October starts to roll around, I usually dig out Salem's Lot to read-- my fave King novel. This year, thought I'd try one of his books I've always heard about but never got around to reading.

Listening: I admit it! I've been listening to George Michael's Faith CD while I clay! I'm a total child of the 80's, what can I say?

Trying: to keep a mental list of all I need to accomplish this week to be ready for Saturday; I think maybe I'd better start writing stuff down

Feeling: giant energy & mood swings

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Moons & Bats

I have several projects half finished...

The two small moons will be pendants and the large moon will be a brooch/pin. Now that they are beaded, I need to put clay on the backs to cover the beading wire and put a pin back on the big one, then they'll be baked again. Then I'll varnish them and cure them one more time. That will finish the pin and the pendants will be ready to make into necklaces.

And... from sketch to semi-reality--

the little bat pin is in the works! I have to figure out how I want his nose to look and then he's ready for his first bake. Then he'll be beaded, I'll put clay on the back side to cover the beading wire, add a pin back, bake again, varnish and cure one more time.

I also have some lavender colored african violet petal and gold leaf pendulum beads that just came out of the oven. They'll go into the rock tumbler with wet/dry sandpaper for a couple of days, then be buffed and then ready to put together the pendulums.

Not sure if its better to have lots of projects in various stages of completion or to entirely finish a project before going on the the next. At any rate-- more items in the works!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Week I Am

Watching: Dexter season 3 (again)-- weekend Dexter marathons with hubby!

Creating: polymer clay items for my vendor booth for Front Range Pagan Pride, which is coming up October 1st

Planning: Mom said she'd help me get ready for FRPP while she's here visiting for a week; figuring out what would be helpful to have her work on while I clay, clay, clay!

Reading: Past Tense by Samantha Hunter-- another tarot-reader turned sleuth book, I seem to be hooked on them lately

Listening: to Josh Groban's self-titled CD & 2nd one called Closer, while I clay

Realizing: life just hasn't slowed down at all this summer-- well, since March, actually

Trying: to remain calm

Feeling: a bit overwhelmed

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Project Sketches

With my L'il Bro visiting, I haven't had time to sit down and do any claying, but I recently took a little bit of time to some quick sketches of a few ideas.

I want to do more decorated skulls for Dia de los Muertos and Samhain, which is fast approaching, so I drew out a couple ideas I had for designs before I could forget them.

I also want to make more cloak pins or brooches-- I thought some beaded bat designs would be cute. I also have ideas for owls, leaves, witches hats...

I've not often ever sketched out my ideas for clay designs, I tend to be pretty spontaneous about what I create. But I do know some people who do their planning on paper beforehand and I've wondered if this might be a good thing for me to try so that I don't forget ideas I have or so I can identify potential difficulties in design and come up with a solution before I actually start creating.

I also wonder if I'll finish my pieces more quickly if I already have my ideas solidified by drawing them out. Perhaps sketching designs will turn out to be a helpful tool for me.

Monday, September 5, 2011

This Week I Am

Watching: Old episodes of The Waltons; there just aren't good shows like it on TV any more. Gah, how old does that make me sound!?!

Thinking: Will our cats EVER get along again? *sigh*

Creating: memories with my L'il Bro & his gf who are here visiting for a week

Planning: A ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad tomorrow

Reading: Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland by Gerald Clarke

Listening: to crickets chirping... such a peaceful, homey sound

Trying: to use my L'il Bro's visit as a good way to face some fears (heights) and be more active (walking, hiking)

Feeling: content, tired in a good way, happy... and a little bit sunburned

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Floral Nostalgia

Aeons ago, I used to be a floral designer. I specialized in silk floral and wedding work, which was very helpful in saving money when I got married, as I did all our wedding party corsages, boutonnieres and bouquets, plus the table decor for the reception.

The Mister's boutonniere, top left, and a corsage & bout set for the grandparents from our wedding. Keep in mind these were made during the era tight, full designs, not the lovely, looser and more natural floral designs of today.

This was Gram's corsage from when my dad got remarried. It was a very small wedding and I did Dad's boutonniere and my step-mother's floral hair circlet and bouquet as well.

I also did the flowers for my sister-in-law's wedding. This is the boutonniere and corsage set for the grandparents.

Grandparents are wonderful about keeping nostalgic items. With the exception of my husband's bout, which I kept, all the other flowers pictured were carefully kept through the years by the grandparents who wore them for the occasion. Since all of our grandparents (my husband's and mine) have passed away as of earlier this year, I have inherited their tokens of nostalgia, which have now become mine.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

This Week I Am

Watching: the very first episode of Dr. Who ever! Wow, it was hokey.

Thinking: about the cats-- we had several very scary incidents involving feline redirected aggression between all 3 over the weekend... having to keep them isolated from each other...

Planning: for my brother and his girlfriend's upcoming visit next week-- where we'll go, what we'll see & do together

Reading: actually re-reading Sings the Nightbird by Robert McCammom, a really excellent book

Listening: to cats complaining because they are isolated from each other & their humans, for the most part

Realizing: its only 5 days until my L'il Bro is here for a visit-- much to do to get the house ready!

Trying: to remain optimistic that our kitty family will work though this difficulty and be able to remain together

Feeling: very worried & anxious about the cats & tired from 4 fairly sleepless nights

Friday, August 26, 2011

Feline Friday: Moose Belly Naps

Our Moose has the fuzziest, softest, fattest belly-- so snorgleable! But Moose doesn't voluntarily allow ANYONE to snorgle his belly...

... which of course doesn't stop Dot at all.

In the beginning, she *did* have to work her way up to it, by sleeping as near as possible to the object of her desire on many occasions...

... but nowadays she just snuggles right in, no pretenses about it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

This Week I Am

Watching: dark clouds rolling in... and away... leaving nary a drop of rain...

Thinking: there's no place like home

Creating: a pagan art journal page about the herb lavender

Planning: what I need & want to accomplish on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

Reading: Shadow Valley, sequel to Great Sky Woman, which I just finished-- both by Steven Barnes

Listening: to my cats purr-- they're happy their humans are home again; and also listening to Journey (of course!) while I craft

Realizing: it's getting dark waaaaayyy too early in the evenings already

Trying: to get back on track with eating well after not eating so well while on vacay

Feeling: quite mellow... its quite lovely...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Inside Mother Earth

We're home from vacation in South Dakota! On our last day there, I braved my fears of heights and enclosed spaces and visited Sitting Bull Crystal Cave-- and it was amazing.

To get to the cave, we descended 187 steps that were so steep we had to go down them backwards, like a ladder.

The Chandelier Room ceiling

When we reached the bottom and went along a short passage that opened up into a huge underground room that looked as though we were standing inside a giant geode.

Close-up of a crystal cluster on the ceiling.

Calcite formations known as dog-tooth spars covered the ceiling, the walls and floor of the cave.

Some of the spars reached 16 inches in length. Those above were bigger than my hand.

Some of the calcite layers were different colors from iron and other minerals, which created formations like this "eye" shape in one wall...

... and stripes like in the Rainbow Arch.

My photos don't even begin to do justice to the underground beauty I saw. I could have stayed down there so much longer than we did (the tour was about 45 minutes). I was awe struck, it was so amazing.

And to me, it felt sacred as well. I was very aware that I was in the womb of Mother Earth, so to speak. I would have loved to have had a moment alone, to express my reverence to the Lady, to give thanks for the experience. I did so silently, and hoped the acknowledgment that I knew I was within sacred space was enough.