Saturday, June 25, 2011

Also, check out my new Art Blog, Treasured Toad Designs:

First Camping trip of the year! Matt, Sara and I headed down to Allegheny State Park last weekend. We rented a cabin (Matt kept complaining about setting up the tent all the time). The park is HUGE, and absolutely beautiful. We had a little rain heading down on Thursday, but things cleared up by the time we arrived. At check in here is the first thing I noticed:

Yep, Allegheny park has a good sized and active black bear population. Makes me glad we got the cabin!!! Here is a view of our cabin.

This is the inside of the cabin as we were unpacking. There were 4 twin beds, pushed together to make 2 full beds. there was also a wood-burning heating stove and a gas stovetop/oven. At least we had warm food, because all the firewood was wet and it took us until the next day (and buying dried wood at the store) to get a fire going.

The area behind our cabin. Sara LOVED the stream and she and the two girls from the next cabin over spent most of their free time playing in the water.

Here is the Red House beach area. There is a second beach area (Quaker area)but it was closed until the beginning of July. Sara had a blast swimming and playing in the sand. Matt and I enjoyed the chance to sit and relax and catch up on some reading.

We did a couple hikes over the trip. The first one was supposed to be a 3 mile "easy" trail, which ended up being ankle deep mud, steep climbs and 6 miles (since the trail ended on a road, they did not count the mileage to walk back to where the trail started, which is where our car was parked...3 miles out and 3 miles back). By the time we got back to the car, we were covered head to toe in mud. Thank goodness there was a laundromat at the camp! We were sore and tired.

This is a flower we found on one of the shorter trips. No clue what it is, but it was very pretty.

Sara climbing on one of the rock structures we found along the Bear Springs trail. On the way back on this trail we found a bear pawprint in the mud which I SWEAR was not there on our way in.

Great time, and I would definitely go back!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year, New Toys

So with the gift certificates and Christmas money I received last month I went on a spree and equipped myself with a very basic metalworking studio. This is something I’ve been itching to try for awhile, ever since I really got into the mixed media jewelry. So many times I’ve wanted a certain piece, and just could not find it (that is ALWAYS my problem lol) My solution, just learn to make your own stuff!

I spent all weekend learning to saw and drill metal (here’s a tip for all you aspiring metalworkers out there: If your drill is going the wrong speed when you drill through the other side of a pice of metal, the bit will catch on it, cause the whole piece to start spinning around. And of course, since you are holding it with your other hand, and you have not sanded the edges yet, you will slice the heck out of your fingertips….next on my shopping list: Leather gloves!!!)

I managed to make a couple pendants I’m quite proud of! I love mixing the metal, clay, resin, and whatever else I have to make exactly the piece I want! Pics will follow when I get home tonight 
I really really wish I could find some classes on metalworking and enameling in the area...there are so may basic techniques which are really hard to teach yourself off of youtube videos and books. Just a few hours of hands-on learning with someone who can show me what I’m doing wrong would really be a big help.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's been a very merry Christmas! Santa was very good to us this year! Sara got a slew of toys, which should keep her happy for awhile. I got gift certificates to my favorite jewelry websites. So, I bought everything I'll need to set up a basic metalsmithing and enameling workshop. I've been putting together my list for weeks now lol. Now, I just have to find somewhere to set it up! My current Jewelry table is an old nightstand with a scrap piece of countertop screwed onto it. I have a large ceramic tile on it for working clay, and a stacking storage cube to hold my tools and beads. But there is no room in this set up for all the stuff I've bought for this new setup. Plus, since I'll be using a mini-torch for soldering and enameling, I need somewhere that is fairly fire-retardent. Ug, I really look forward to the day when I can have a dedicated room for my studio again. I have a notebook I keep with me that I use to jot down ideas and inspirations for new pieces and I'm hoping that my jewelry orders slow down enough that I have some time to practice with my new toys for a bit!!! Now the hard part, waiting for everything to arrive in the mail!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I am SO bad at updating these things sometimes. In my defence, work has been crazy (I LOVE it, but it's crazy). I've also started volunteering for the American Red Cross as a Military Caseworker. Basically when soldiers' families need to get emergency messages to troops the red Cross handles that. I do overnight shifts. It's pretty cool.

The Jewelry buisness has been crazy! The women I work with love my stuff, and have been buying jewelry at a rate that I can barely keep up with. The extra income has allowed me to get some new tools and I'm looking into a few new techniques, mainly metalsmithing and embossing. Jewelrymaking is like art, there are an infinite number of techniques and tools, and you have to narrow your focus down to just a few if you really want to get good at them, or have any sort of artistic style. I suppose you COULD be an artists who does sculpture, oil paints, japanese watercolors, lithography, Conte Crayons, and photography...but if someone looked at the body of your work in all those mediums, could they see a unified "style?" (plus, unless you're 105, do you have time to master the subtlties of each one?).

I have been dabbling in a few things here and there. I see a piece made with a certain technique, I try a few and move on. I really want to focus on a few things because there is SO much to learn about even a single medium/technique.

I love, love, love my polymer clay. But I am really leaning towards mixed media. I can't make a solid-clay peice anymore and not feel like it's missing something. There are just some things clay cannot do, plus I just love the asthetic of the mixed media pices I've done so far (mainly clay/steampunk pices, with bits of metal and beads in the clay). I want to expand on that, so I'm asking for gift certificates for christmas!! lol

In the same vein as this, I want to re-open my etsy store and look at getting a website up again. However, I don't think my store name of Firesprite Beads really fits my current pieces. That was the name I came up with when I was doing glass beads, but it doesn't really fit anymore. So, I am racking my brains trying to come up with a new buisness name. I know a lot of artists just use their own name, but that's just not me. I want something that invokes an idea, or a feeling, or an image related to my name just doesn't do that lol. So, once I can actually hammer THAT out I plan on starting a purely jewelry-blog that I can link to my website and stuff. (Yea, Yea I know...7 months and I can't even post in ONE blog, how can I do two?" Well, in the art blog I won't feel like I'm cheating to just post a picture or two as my blog post without saying anything further. Plus, if people do start finding my blog through my buisness site or messageboards, I do';t think they care if my cat threw up on the rug last night, or that Sara got an A in math this marking period :-).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

As promised, now that I've found the cord to mom's camera here are some of the pieces I've done in the last couple weeks

A very spring-inspired flower-and-pixie necklace

Another spring-ish bird necklace (I've really been inspired by the season!)

Here is an ocean-themed necklace inspired by the glass turtle bead I bought at the big Bead show we all went to a couple weekends ago (luckily I only brought $45 in cash, otherwise I would have spent WAAY too much money there. On the upside the show comes back to Syracuse in October so I have a couple months to save my pennies!) the shades of the necklace and turtle are a wonderful variety of blues and pearls, which are all sort of yellowed by the lamplight I took the pics in ><.

And lastly a Sun and Moon piece I've been trying to create for awhile, I just could never get to come out right once I sat down to put it together. I'm still not 100% happy..I may go back and make a new focal pendant..I think it needs to be larger.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Holy crap, a month and a half! In my defense, I've been very very busy. I started a new job at Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare, which is an alcohol/substance abuse facility. Right now, I'm spending most of my time doing inpatient admissions. When we get new patients into our 28-day inpatient program, I help do their billing, medicaid/public assistance applications, and other reams of paperwork. I'm learning a few other facets of the facility like records-keeping, a little on the out-patient groups, and I help at the front desk early in the morning when it is crazy-busy. Mary (my boss) has some ideas as to what she wasnts me to be doing long-term, but most of it will have to wait until my 3 month contract with the temp agency (Comforce) is up and I come on as an official SBH employee. I really enjoy the job. The work is varied enough to not be boring and with only one exception everyone at the place is incredibly friendly, helpful and outgoing. There is ONE person who is a real harpy, but luckily I have limited contact with the person..and really I can put up with anyone in small doses.

I've also managed to carve out some time for my jewelry. In fact, now that I need "grown up" outfits to wear to a professional job (as opposed to my last work-at-home job where I could conferance call in my pajamas if I wanted) I've been inspired to make a bunch of jewelry to wear to work. I have a couple pieces I am VERY pleased with. I WOULD have posted pics, but I cannot find our camera. So, I borrowed mom's, took the pictures, then found out her camera will not work with our camera's computer-hook-up-cord, and I cannot find the one that goes with HER camera. Sigh. Once I can find a camera/cord combo that works I will post pics.

On another creative note, due to the fact that matt and I re-did our budget, and we have a tiny bit of spare cash I went out and bought a few books to get me started on something I've wanted to try for quite some time: Chinese Brush Painting. I absolutely love the look of the style! Chinese brush painting has two schools of styles: the detailed and the free. In the detailed style, very fine brushes are used to paint the outlines of the subject and then painted in very meticulously, like this painting:

The second style, which I favor, is a much looser, abstract style where the goal is to capture the essence of the subject without having to paint every tiny line and detail, such as this painting.

Chinese brush painting is done with special brushes, traditionally made of animal hair. The black in the paintings is hand-made ink created by grinding an ink-stick (a charcoal and glue stick made specially for this) against your ink-stone. then you add a small bit of water to create your black/grey ink. Colored inks can be made by a similer process of mixing water and powdered mineral pigments (though you can also use chinese watercolors, or just plain western watercolors as well). I have the paint kit (comlplete with ink stick and stone) and a few books on technique and motifs. When someone begins to learn chinese brush painting, they generally begin my practicing "The four Gentlemen": Bamboo, Orchid, Chrysanthemum and Plum Blossom. These four plants require the full range of basic brush strokes to do well, so they are a great way to learn and practice the basic brush forms. I'm hoping to actually be able to open up and use my kit this weekend :-). Pics may follow, depending on how recognisable they are from 2-year old finger painting lol.
The weather is supposed to be beautiful this weekend, so I want to try and get out to do a daytrip somewhere to one of the nearby state parks. We've been out a couple times this year when spring has given us a nice day here and there, and I really enjoy getting out, getting some excersise and enjoying the beautiful upstate NY wilderness. I'm not sure what my vacation schedule will be, what with the new job and all, but I'm hoping to squeeze in at LEAST one camping trip this summer.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Well, busy few weeks to start March off. I took my national certification test for my medical coding, and I passed! yay! 5.5 hour was greuling! I had to take it out in cooperstown. Since the test was at 8 am on saturday, Matt and I drove out Friday and spent the night. Since Cooperstown is pretty much a tourist town, most of the restaurants and things were closed, but we want to go back sometime this summer and bring mom and Sara.

Since then, I've been job hunting with a passion. I've had about a half dozen interviews in the past week and a half, so we'll have to see what comes out of this.

On another hopeful note, I was taking Ladybird out this morning when I saw these white flowers starting to grow in the garden. No clue what they are, but it must mean spring is on the way!