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Pacific Northwest Ravens

Pacific Northwest raven barrettes


I love these recent customer photos so much that I wanted to share them with you! This client had me customize my Pacific Northwest raven barrette design to accommodate a larger size of French clip, and they wanted them paired so that the birds would face (or look away from) one another, rather than facing the same way.

The metal clips on these are quite a bit bigger than the ones that I usually use. Because they hold a fairly substantial amount of hair, most people will only wear one clip at the back of the head. She has so much hair that she was able to use these as a pair of side clips!

She and her husband are repeat customers, and such nice people. They’re beekeepers who share my love for nature (they even offered to help with tips and advice when my husband and I are ready to start our own beekeeping adventures!). I sincerely love when I’m able to share my work – and make connections with – people like this. You are the reason that I love my job!


Leather raven barrette with starry night forest design
Pacific Northwest raven barrette



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Further evolution…

leather leaf earrings 2009

I’m not doing the “inspiration Wednesday” thing today, cause I’m just not feeling it at the moment*.

Instead, I’d like to reflect on some design progress that a friend recently pointed out. In 2009, I started playing with a new (to me) earring style that makes use of some of my smaller leather scraps. There were several styles of leaves, and of course, lots of feathers — especially raven feathers (if you scroll through this blog, you may notice that I have a thing for corvids ;). These were accented with mixed metal wire, Swarovski crystals, and assorted gem stones. I debated whether or not to add real feathers.

blue jay earrings 2009

When I created their facebook photo album, I asked my fans if they were “Good, Bad or Ugly?” — which hints at how unsure I was about the style. They were well received, and I kept playing with the designs. These were somewhat tricky at first because I’d never really done such small leather projects. They’re simple enough to make, but working with leather at this scale was new and challenging for me; in addition, I’ve never been much of a wireworker. There are people who can do amazing things with wire, but I am not one of them. My knowledge and experience with that type of jewelry design is limited to the most basic skills.

peacock earrings 2011

I’ve continued to play with this style over time, and I suspect that I’ll continue to do so.  They’re admittedly simple designs, but I think the little projects tend to be the ones that build your skills the most (see this earlier post on formative work). There are many artisans who claim that every single piece they make is a one of a kind design. That is admirable  — though I always wonder if they are actually selling their work as a substantial portion of their income. As a working artist, it seems like it would be incredibly challenging not to repeat designs, and still create enough to support oneself. But I’m getting off track — my point is that I actually find value in revisiting designs. It helps me to hone my skills and also gives me a yardstick for progress.

raven earrings 2012

The current variations are still not exactly what I saw in my mind’s eye when I began making these; I hope there will be more permutations as time goes on. Still, it’s nice to contrast then and now. I often get restless or frustrated because my “creative vision” is usually far ahead of my actual skills. This is probably a good thing in that it keeps me striving — but sometimes it leads to feeling impatient or being hard on myself. When I can stop long enough to notice progress, it motivates me to keep exploring.

 * As to the “Inspiration Wednesday” posts, I think they’ll become a bi-weekly thing. It’s a fun theme that challenges me to think about what inspires me, and having a “prompt” does get me to blog more. I love being able to share these things, and to promote other artists and creative spirits — but it’s starting to make me feel pressured and I don’t like that. Every other week seems more balanced and comfortable for me 🙂

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Raina’s Ravens

“Raven Night” by Raina Gentry

Got back in to town late last night, and I’ve been a zombie all day. So much so, that I nearly forgot about the fact that I’m trying to make a habit of these “Inspiration Wednesday” posts. Fortunately, I remembered at the 11th hour, and it didn’t take very long to find something inspiring to write about…

We recently purchased a new print by Raina Gentry. It is similar to the raven shown at left, but not identical. I saw these prints for the first time when I visited Jerome last winter, and they really stuck with me. When we visited again in fall, I made sure to stop and get one.

I was pleased to find that my partner likes Gentry’s work as well — in fact, we had a hard time narrowing it down to just one print. While I’m in love with the ravens and women that she does, he’s very drawn to her heads and faces. We’ll definitely be buying more of her work in the future. In the meantime, I “liked” her fan page on facebook so that I can enjoy updates of her new work.

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Oregon Country Fair

I went down to Oregon in early July to visit with old friends, and to work in their booth at the Oregon Country Fair. The weather was perfect, and the event was absolutely lovely. The Pacific Northwest is stunning in the summertime.

The morning that I headed home, we had a good downpour (which is not too bad, considering that we enjoyed a full 6 days of sunshine). By the time I got back to Seattle, I had a nasty head cold, which is still lingering two weeks later. So I’m a bit sluggish, and running very behind on email and custom work. (If you are one of the people who’s been affected by this, please bear with me — I’m doing my best to get healthy and caught up quickly!)

As terrible as that must sound, I assure you that the trip was well worth it. The OCF is an amazing gathering of artists, musicians, dreamers and doers. I’ve attended this event a handful of times over the past 22 years, and it is always a memorable experience… this time was certainly no exception.

I deeply enjoyed the performances, art and ideals that were reflected there, but the very best part (for me) was the chance to reconnect with people that I love! Even though my body is still paying for this trip, it was so good for my soul. I would do it again in a heartbeat 🙂

I’d try to expand on that concept, but as I mentioned above, I’m still moving slowly and trying to get caught up. Hopefully these pictures (courtesy of my amazingly talented friend, Alyson) will give you a good sense of what a magical experience it was!

This fellow was sitting in a shady spot between the trees, just off of one of the paths. The image was taken moments after he gave a reading for, and bestowed a magic rock upon a young girl.

Many of the attendees wore extravagant costumes. This group of raven people randomly mingled amongst (and heckled 😉 the crowd.

I was pleasantly surprised to spot this gal, wearing one of my fairy masks. She makes it look great, doesn’t she? I was so happy that Aly was there to get this shot 🙂

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Raven Steals the Light

The northwest native tribes have many myths about the raven, and how he brought light to the people. In some variations it’s the sun and in others it’s the moon — this one includes the stars, fresh water and fire too.

Since it’s the summer solstice (the longest and lightest day of the year) and since I love ravens, I made these little raven feather earrings today. The feathers are made of leather, and all of the wire and earwires are sterling. The stones include rainbow obsidian, gray moonstone and rutilated quartz – all of which have fun play of light effects.

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Madness takes its toll…

It’s exactly one week till Halloween (home stretch!) and I’m definitely feeling the effect of the last 2.5 months of non-stop mask making. As this photo suggests, my studio is feeling it too! I typically work within a certain degree of controlled chaos, but at this point in time, any semblance of “control” is long gone … my workspace is just flat out chaos. I had to clear a path just to get this shot.

That said, I’ve decided to slow down a bit. We’d considered setting up at the Fremont Sunday Market today, but it was pouring rain this morning and R is just getting over that flu bug. So instead of doing the show, I’ll get my studio in order and put finishing touches on a few custom orders.

If I have time and energy, I may mess around with those dark faerie wings that have been sitting on my worktable for the last few months … or possibly the sugar skulls that I started, but haven’t had time to complete. There’s also a raven queen mask that’s just begging for final details.

Yeah, this is my idea of  “taking it easy”. Fortunately, I love what I do so the majority of today’s to do list is relaxing and enjoyable … well, except for the cleaning up part 😛

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Day Trip to Whidbey Island


This past weekend, Robb and I took a road trip to Whidbey Island. We used to take road trips all the time but now that money is a bit tighter and gas is pricier, we’ve been trying be get creative with our travel plans. We’ve been taking shorter trips that are more affordable and a bit more spontaneous. Whidbey is only about an hour away from Seattle (including the ferry ride from Mukilteo) so it’s a convenient getaway spot. The island is incredibly scenic and offers great hiking, restaurants and art galleries.

Our first stop was the town of Langley, which has lots of public art and quirky shops. Sadly, it seems as though the current economy has had a serious impact on this colorful community. Many of the galleries that we remembered from previous visits had been closed down, and the downtown area had a lot of empty storefronts. Several of the stores that were open were staffed by shopkeepers with a furtive, hungry air that made us want to hurry on. I hope this was simply due to the fact that it was grey, and early in the tourist season. Or maybe it was just an off day? I hope so — Langley is usually more vibrant, and it seems to showcase the island’s creative talent well. I’m crossing my fingers that things will start looking up around there soon. 

Our next stop was the Bayview Historic Corner, which seems like a great community space. They had interesting art and craft, which was nicely displayed. The environment was inviting, and the little restaurant there smelled great. We also noticed that it’s a hub for some admirable community projects.

We didn’t linger too long, as we wanted to hit Coupeville before it got too late. I’ve heard great things about the
the Coupeville Arts Center over the years, so I hoped to find tons of galleries there.

As it turned out, Coupeville was pretty sleepy. By the time we finished our lunch most of the shops were closed. I would’ve been more disappointed, but the sun made a sudden appearance, so we were content to soak up some UV as we strolled around and checked out Coupeville’s public art and historic landmarks. Some of my favorite things about this beautiful waterfront town are the gorgeous old Victorian and craftsman style homes and Rosie the whale . Seriously, how can you not love a flying whale skeleton?

Our last stop on Whidbey was Greenbank Farm , which is another community project. This spot features wine and chocolate tasting, a yummy cheese shop, and of course, galleries. We got there just at closing time, so we didn’t get the full Greenbank experience. However, we did find the Rob Schouten Gallery , where they were kind enough to keep the doors open.

Some of my favorite pieces at this gallery were paintings by (I think I’ve got the name right…) Jarina Moss. These used intricate spirals and dots in joyful colors that reminded me of tiny mandalas, or datura designs. What I found most interesting about this artist, is the fact that she used to be a dentist — lots of left/right brain action going on there!
It was also fun to hear Rob’s wife, Victory talk about his art, and the process and inspiration behind it. She was friendly and informative in an inviting, low key way that made it comfortable to explore and ask questions. Because of this, we were able to really look at the work there, and I fell in love with the print pictured here (did I mention that they offer layaway?).
It was a lovely ending to a pleasant day … and a great reminder as to why we like Whidbey so much. We don’t get out there as often as we’d like, but it’s always a great time when we do.