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Wednesday Inspiration – Baked Alaskan Designs

baked-alaskaMy friends Phil and Julie are a couple of hippies who live up in Alaska, in a house that they built themselves. Now some of you might react by thinking “ewww, hippies!” but rest assured that they’re the cool kind of hippies; they are homesteading, homeschooling, organic gardening, child rearing, chicken raising, art making hippies who make the world brighter just by being in it.

Julie is a beadworker, and Phil helps with her small business, Baked Alaskan Designs . As you can see
from the photos, she creates gorgeous, heirloom quality bead baked-alaska3embroidered barrettes. Her “Stealie” barrettes are very popular, though I’m especially fond of her rosette style barrettes. They remind me of the type of beadwork that I used to see at Pow Wows – bold, elaborate and carefully crafted. Recent instagram posts from Julie suggest that she may have some new tricks up her sleeve as well. I’m excited to see the new ideas that she’s working on; so far, they look stunning!

She opened their Etsy shop a little over a year and a half ago and quickly found her niche, not only in terms of her work, but as far as community. She gravitated baked-alaska2toward groups of artists that network and encourage each other, and she clearly strives to support her fellow creatives. Julie often shares tips and info with me, and she shares my work (and the work of her many creative friends) on social media. Those things may sound small, but they’re actually HUGE. Making a living as an artisan is no small feat, so it means a lot that Julie not only  focuses on trying to make her business successful, she actively tries to bring others with her on that road to success.

With that said, I’m inspired by Julie’s art AND by her attitude. Thank you for being one of the good ones, may it come back to you tenfold <3

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Wednesday Inspiration – Raffle for Cecil

Amanda Edwards Mosaics' Raffle for Cecil
Amanda Edwards Mosaics’ Raffle for Cecil

I’m sharing the information about this raffle in part because I love this artist’s work, and partially because I admire her spirit. When she learned about the recent killing of a lion named Cecil, Amanda Edwards decided to raffle off a piece of her art and to donate the proceeds to the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit of Oxford University. This organization studies lions in hopes of aiding in their conservation.

It struck me as such a loving and hopeful response to a terrible situation, and it reminded me of the many ways that art can heal. I donated for a chance to win, and I’d like to encourage you to do the same: just click on this link and donate to get a ticket(s). Doing so offers the opportunity to win a beautiful work of art, and the ability to participate in a very kind response to a tragic situation.

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The Return of Wednesday Inspiration (featuring Mermaiden Creations)!

Those ofBrown velvet tricorn hat you who follow my blog (all two of you) may remember way back when I used to do this thing called “Wednesday Inspiration”. It served two purposes: one was to celebrate and promote other artists that I admire, and the other was to give myself a writing prompt in hopes that it would get me to blog more regularly. So every Wednesday (or every other Wednesday… or as often as I could find the time) I would share images and links from artist friends and strangers who inspire me to be more creative.

butterfly wing earrings
“Waiting on the Eastern Glow” earrings

I’m bringing that back – in part because I’m trying to post more often, and partially because I realize that I fret and complain too much about copycats and jackasses. While the latter concerns are real and should not be swept under the rug completely, there is GOOD stuff happening in the creative community too. I’d like to make a greater effort to celebrate that. My motivation for this is summed up nicely by this quote: “Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate”.

So without further ado, today I’m sharing a few pieces by Mermaiden Creations. My friend Julie creates work that”is the stuffs of fairy tales and legends; curious offerings of nature, weird beauty, wild and fey-inspired organically imperfect designs”. She moves fluidly from jewelry design to millinery work, to hair accessories and home decor.

Sterling and labradorite ring by Mermaiden Creations
“Midnight Moon”labradorite ring

Her work is imaginative, dreamlike, organic, untamed… and skillfully crafted. I own a few pieces of her jewelry and one of her scarves, so when I attest to the quality of her work, I am speaking from affection and experience. I’ve showcased a small handful of my favorite pieces here, but I encourage you to visit her Etsy shop or to follow her on facebook in order to see more of her beautiful work!

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More Wednesday Inspiration

© Jeff Wood 2013

Not sure if I’ll make this a regular thing again, but today I feel like sharing a random  assortment of art that has inspired me recently:

This spectacular concert poster was created by Jeff Wood of  Zen Mystic Studio. I’m so taken with the imagery, the colors, the details and just the feeling that comes through in this piece.As an aside, when I went to his site to see more of his work, this blog post was the first thing I saw. Without going in to too much boring detail, it was one of those crazy synchronistic experiences for me, where you stumble upon exactly the right words and ideas at exactly the right moment. It probably doesn’t hurt that he quoted Henry Rollins and Hunter S. Thompson in the aforementioned post. Between his art and his ideas, I am definitely appreciating this artist today.

Mendocino/Humbolt county line photo © Talia Rose 2013

Another person who is inspiring me right now is my friend Talia. In truth, she always inspires me and for more reasons than I could possibly list; but one specific reason that I’ll share with you here is her wildlife photography. I’ve shared a few of her photos on my blog before, as they’re always amazing. Recently her work, her skill and her passion for it seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. It’s incredible to watch! She has created a facebook page called “County Line Wild” if you’d like to see more.

© Mat Enloe 2012

The beadwork to the right was created by my new friend, Mat Enloe (AKA “The Beadman of Santa Cruz”). He creates amazingly intricate and impressively large bead embroidered works. I chose this image because the fact that he is holding it helps to give a sense of scale; however, he has several equally amazing pieces in his facebook photo gallery.

His images are set to public, and I did get his permission to share them 🙂

“Fire on the Mountain” © Raina Gentry 2013

Last but not least is a new (newer?) piece by Raina Gentry. Her work just speaks to me, and I especially love the vibrant colors in this one.

Interestingly enough, I wrote about her work last year in one of my very first “Inspiration Wednesday” posts. Talia’s work was featured in another such post. Maybe that’s an indicator that it’s worthwhile to pay attention and follow the work of those that inspire you … as they may continue to do so 🙂

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Growing up, I never imagined myself settling down in suburbia, but through a series of choices (some good, some bad) this is where I am today. Honestly, I’m not thrilled about it — those who know me well know that I’ve been ready to chew my leg off. I long for some place wilder and greener — some place where I can have huge gardens, a dog, and open spaces.

We are working toward that goal, but it’ll probably be a while before all of the needed elements come together. This spring I decided that the healthiest way to cope with my frustration is to make a greater effort to “bloom where I’m planted”. The other phrase that kept floating through my head was that I need to just “grow some grace” and trust that my goals will come to fruition when the time is right. It occurred to me that one of the best ways to achieve this would be to plant a patio garden as both a symbolic and tangible representation of those goals.

Thus far, my garden isn’t terribly impressive. It is beautiful and green, and it’s been very satisfying to see my little seedlings grow — but it’s a tiny space, and heavily shaded at that. I’m rooting for my tomatoes and peppers (no pun intended) but it’s looking kind of iffy as to whether or not their fruit will ripen before the rains set in. The upshot of growing this little garden is that it brought me outside more, and caused me to notice the wildlife that surrounds me, even in suburbia. My complex is a haven for birds including a HUGE flock of ravens, as well as sparrows, robins, finches, jays, woodpeckers, a flicker, a peregrine falcon (although the crows tend to run him off quickly) and an osprey nest. I’m pretty sure that’s the mama in the above photo — at least, it’s the largest of the family. She likes to roost in the tree above my balcony in the mornings, so I get to enjoy her while I tend my garden. I found the feather to the left* after one of the fledglings’ first test flights, which was my pleasure to watch.

There were four of them out there that day, soaring and singing overhead. Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing here, but their songs sounded positively joyful — even celebratory! Coincidentally, this was the same day that my daughter moved into her own place; I’m choosing to take this as an auspicious sign. Whether it’s a good omen or not, it has made me so happy to see this raptor family nest and grow outside my window. I can’t explain it, except to say that it does my heart good to see that even here in suburbia — land of mini malls and plastic people — there are still a few things that are free and wild.

* And before anyone lectures me about the feather, yes I am aware that these are protected/illegal here in the US. I did not keep it, but I did grab a photo in order to study the markings and (hopefully) better recreate them in my own work. For some reason, these barred/raptor feathers have always been hard for me to capture realistically, so it’s nice to have a real life reference to work from.

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Secret Garden

image via

One of my favorite daydreams is about the gardens that I will plant when we finally move to a place with a bit of land. I’ll plant a huge herb garden and of course a veggie garden, sunflowers galore, a dahlia bed, and probably a nice cutting garden … but I also long for secret gardens. Little pathways through the woods, with random art (and a treehouse!) and secret, quiet spaces where one could read a book, take a nap, or share a bottle of wine with someone special.

This image is a perfect example of the random, earthy type of space that I hope to create. Ideally, someday soon-ish.

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Inspiring Imagery

Stained glass spiral via 

I recently caved and started a Pinterest account. I avoided it for the longest time, as I could tell it would be a time sink. Surprise, surprise, I was right — it’s easy to get lost there for hours. On the plus side, it’s oddly soothing to collect and sort beautiful imagery by color or theme. I haven’t done this as much as some of the other pinners that I like (I am really trying to show some restraint, and not spend TOO much time there 😉 but I can see how it would be a helpful tool in teasing out colors, concepts and styles to inspire my own designs.

Here’s an image that makes me smile every time I see it. I just love the way that the colors, line and light work together!

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Inspired Garden

shoe rack garden via

Summer is officially here (though our Seattle rain is still trying to debate the issue) and my mind has turned to gardening. It’s one of my favorite pass times, but since I moved to a condo I haven’t really been able to plant much. My patio is tiny, and my HOA has pages upon pages of rules.

This year I’ve decided not to let that stop me. I planted a container garden, which is coming along okay considering that my gardening skills are rusty and my patio does not get much sun. I’ve been gathering ideas for small space/urban gardening that will allow me to grow vertically, and maximize what little sunlight we get on our patio.

gutter garden via

I haven’t planted too much — in part because of space limitations, and in part because I’ve never really done small/container gardens (I tend to think BIG, and my past gardens reflected that 😉 so I do have quite a bit to learn. Still, we have a nice variety of herbs, and I’m hoping that our balcony garden will keep us in fresh greens, chives, tomatoes and peppers.

In addition to my little patio garden, I have taken to sprinkling wildflower seedlings around the building complex. Technically, I’m not supposed to do this. When I suggested it at a board meeting, one person worried about water use, and another complained that it “wouldn’t be fair” for me to have a garden when nobody else could. I want to be respectful of my neighbors but honestly, that seems unreasonable. It is incredibly satisfying and soothing to me to watch things grow, and a few flowers around our unkempt grounds can only improve the place.


For the person who was worried about water consumption, I hear you! That’s why I’m only planting native wildflowers that are shade tolerant and drought hardy. Between my careful plant selection, and our frequent rains, watering should not be an issue. If they die, they die — but I am at least going to try. To my neighbor who complained that it is not fair, I can only respond that life is not fair… my unit has more dirt around it, yours has more light and better views. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy the new growth around our complex, and I encourage you to join in and plant something wonderful too!

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Talia’s Nature Photography

Laughing Owl © Talia Rose

My old friend Talia is an extremely talented amateur photographer who focuses on wildlife photography. She is blessed to live along the Eel River, which is home to a host of eagles, red tails, osprey, heron, egrets, otters and more. She’s able to take a short walk down to the river every day to hone her photo skills.

The snowy owl to the right was photographed here in WA, during a rare migration this winter. The other images were taken in and around  Humboldt, CA. Several have been featured in her local paper.

Heron © Talia Rose

 I feel honored to be able to watch her skills grow, and to live vicariously through her. She inspires me on so many levels, the photos are just the tip of the iceberg. One of these years I hope to bead some of her bird photos — I’m just having a hard time deciding which one!

Thank you Talia, for sharing your talent. You are amazing <3

Bluejay © Talia Rose

Egret © Talia Rose