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Winter Solstice 2016 – Hibernation

leather-ornaments-peacock2

Happy Solstice, and many thanks to all who’ve supported my craft!

If you’ve purchased something from me, liked or shared my work, or offered feedback or encouragement along the way, YOU have helped to support my creative process and I’m deeply grateful. It occurred to me the other day that some of you have been cheering me on and collecting my work for anywhere from 5 to 30 years! I am honored and humbled by this – may your kindness come back to you tenfold.

Winter is officially here, and this quiet time seems ideal for rest and restoration. I’ve been feeling rather burnt out for some time now, and it feels like a good time to slow down and reflect on what I’d like to do differently in the year ahead. With that said, my Christmas gift to myself will be to put my Etsy shop in vacation mode as of December 31st.

I’ve not yet decided how long that vacation will last, I’m simply going to hibernate until I feel ready to share new work again. It could be a few weeks, it could be longer. We’ll see how that goes. My personal website will remain open, but I do intend to retire quite a few items at the start of 2017. So if you’ve had your eye on one of my pieces or if you only wish to purchase via Etsy, now’s a good time to do so.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement. May you be surrounded with love and comfort this holiday season.

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Such a long long time to be gone…

“You need music, I don’t know why. It’s probably one of those Joseph Campbell questions, why we need ritual. We need magic and bliss, and power and myth, and celebration and religion in our lives and music is a good way to encapsulate a lot of it.”

~ Jerry Garcia

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Happy Solstice and Pollinator Week!

pollinator-weekThese little bee and butterfly themed pieces were created to welcome summer, and to celebrate Pollinator Week (which is this week!). Unfortunately, I was under the weather for a few days and could not finish them in time. Still, the intention is there and they’ll be finished up ASAP :)

I realize that it’s hard to “see” or imagine the finished piece(s) while they’re still in progress. Truthfully, I usually have no idea what the finished work will look like until it’s complete! But at very least, I can tell you that these are intended as jewelry components. The little butterflies and at least one of the bees will become pendants or necklaces, while the wings will be used in some of my earring designs. I’m leaning toward a bracelet for the bee on the blue background, though that may change by the time I complete them all. Oh, and there are some bee wings and a luna moth that didn’t make it into the photo.

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We stand with Orlando

An old friend posted this to Facebook the other day. Her words are such an apt (and eloquent) summary for my own feelings; I wanted to save them, and to share them in hopes that others might be moved as well:

This is for all of the people from all walks of life that stand in unity with the people that died in Orlando and say “We are All Orlando.” In a greater sense it is true. We all could be killed at a bar or a dance club (Orlando). We could be killed at a work holiday party (San Bernardino), at a school (Sandy Hook), a concert (Paris) a college campus (Virginia Tech) or a restaurant (Paris, also McDonalds USA). We could be killed for having a sense of humor (Charlie Hebdo, Paris). Everyone’s life mattered. Everyone was important. Thank you for knowing that.

At this time we mourn for those that died in Orlando.

Please do something to foster harmony in remembrance. Volunteer at local center, help your neighbor, sign a petition, give someone you love a hug, and know that you are lucky to be here. Live more. Love more. Be better. Everyone.

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2015 Holiday Curmudgeon Sale

At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, I’m extremely annoyed by holiday marketing this year. That is not to say that I’m anti Christmas (or against any of the winter holiday traditions) – it’s just the marketing that sickens me. I’ve been getting “Black Friday” emails since before Halloween, which seriously freaks me out! Personally, that doesn’t inspire me to shop; it just stresses me out.

As a retailer, this is doubly challenging. The various selling platforms and marketing blogs that I subscribe to are just as urgent in letting me know that I’m supposed to be sharing my story! And making! and slashing prices! And holding giveaways! And tweeting and gramming and facebookering and worrrying about blackfriday, smallbizsaturday, cybermonday or selloutsunday …and OMG, now I just want to hide under the covers until the New Year.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and the bottom line is – I really don’t want to do all that stuff. I don’t want to participate in the hypermarketing, super commercial, over the top holiday blitz that is designed to promote consumption; it stresses people out, shifts the focus away from peace and goodwill, and really just benefits the big box stores. Because seriously? Independent artists don’t have the profit margin to give you HALF OFF OF EVERYTHING IN YOUR FACE the way that giant retailers do. More importantly, I hate the way it makes me feel and I don’t want to do that to my customers or myself; I respect us too much for that.

Instead, I will offer the following specials for the remainder of 2015. These offers are good for the rest of the year, so please relax, focus on the ones you love, and shop when you’re ready:

* All US domestic orders of $40+ are eligible for free first class shipping.
On my website, you’ll automatically see the free shipping option when your cart reaches $40
On Etsy, you’ll need to enter the coupon code “shippingfree” at checkout

* All orders of $75+ are eligible for a 10% discount. 
To receive this discount, use the coupon code “happyholidays” at checkout. That coupon code is the same for my website as it is for Etsy. Please note that this offer applies to ready made items only, not custom work.

(pro tip: on Etsy, you can only choose one of these offers; on my website, you’ll be able to combine the two offers to receive 10% off AND free domestic shipping!)

* In the interest of generating more peace and goodwill, I’ll add a little something extra to at least one order, every week through the end of the year. The recipient will be chosen at random, and so will the gift. You don’t need to fill out any forms or share things on social media – it’s just a little bonus giveaway for my customers, because I really do love and appreciate you all <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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Forever Grateful <3

goddesses rocking my beadwork!This photo was taken at the Grateful Dead’s 4th of July “Fare Thee Well” shows. It’s particularly special to me, not only because it’s a photo of some of my favorite people, but because it represents a much needed realization and a shift in perspective. Sales have been lean since Etsy jumped the shark, and it’s been hard not to take that personally. The lull in business has made it hard to get by and frankly, it has caused me to question my creative work as well as my sanity!

There were several times that weekend when I looked up and realized that ALL of the beautiful women surrounding me were wearing my beadwork! These ladies are not only beautiful, they are powerful… healers, teachers, mothers, artists and so much more. It dawned on me that all of these goddesses that I admire are rocking MY work — and many of them have chosen to do so for decades! Seeing this was an incredible affirmation that my work – and its maker – will be just fine.

So at the risk of being long winded and/or sappy, I’d like to say thank you to the life long friends who have supported me all these years, to my loyal customers, and to everyone who shares and encourages my work today. It means more than you know, I’m deeply grateful <3

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What’s with all the peacock feathers?

My leather peacock feather designs are quite popular, which pleases me to no end. I love making them, and I continue to find new and different variations on the theme… peacock feather hair slides, barrettes, brooches, cuffs, collars, pendants, masks and more. Sometimes I create them in “traditional” peacock greens and bronzes, other times, I use fantasy colors. These pieces are dear to me; beyond the simple fact that I enjoy making them, they represent something special. Back in 2010 when I was working on the first set, an old friend was battling cancer. Odd as it may sound, my peacock feathers are about her.

 Jackie was a wise gardener as well as a major history and science geek. She was also an avid  SCA enthusiast for well over 20 years. In case you’re not familiar with the SCA, it’s “an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe”. Participants study and re-enact the skills and lifestyle of that time period, often creating fictional personas for these events. Jackie’s alter ego was Mahala de Sorbonne, and her argent (crest? sigil? – forgive me SCA peeps, I’m not well versed in this stuff – was “A peacock proper in his pride”.
During her many years in the SCA, she researched passionately and shared her immense knowledge with others. She achieved the rank of baroness and cardinal, but most importantly, she was an integral part of a community of creative and interesting people that she loved with all her heart. The love that she felt for this community was certainly reciprocated; this was always evident, but especially so when she was diagnosed with cancer. Her friends banded together to support her and her husband in myriad ways, ranging from practical tasks like cooking and cleaning, to the more emotional work of raising her spirits. I could tell when she had recently visited with her SCA friends, because she was significantly happier and more alive afterward. Unfortunately, she did not beat her cancer, but I think she was incredibly fortunate to die at home, surrounded by her husband, candlelight, and this close circle of friends. When my time comes, I can only hope to be so loved.
My first batch of peacock pins and barrettes was distributed at her wake. I asked her husband to give them to some of the women who had helped her most, but I suspect that I did not make enough to acknowledge the many people who stood by her. (On that note, if any of you happen to read this, and would like one of my peacock pins, just drop me a line. Tell me something about Mahala so that I know that you’re legit, and send me your mailing address. I will gladly send you a pin.). Since that time, I have worked to honor her memory by donating a portion of every peacock sale to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance or the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
 She’s been on my mind lately — maybe because its around the time that I usually make my annual donation, or maybe it’s because life in our new home brings up many questions about dogs, horses and gardening. These topics were among her (many!) areas of expertise, and I really wish that I could pick her brain. These things make me miss her, and remind me that I was fortunate to know her.
 
I didn’t mean to write a eulogy. This post was supposed to be a simple explanation for those
who ask why I’m obsessed with peacock feathers. As you can see, I’m not actually “obsessed” with them – I simply enjoy their beauty and the special association that they have for me. They remind me of an old friend, and about the powerful healing properties of love and connection.