Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Happy Autumn!

Today is the Autumnal Equinox!  And even better still, it has finally started to cool off here in Tennessee.  While the high is 86 today, I needed a hoodie when I headed to the gym early this morning, so things are looking up.  In honor of the seasonal changes, I sat down yesterday afternoon, determined to come up with a new fall-inspired design.  My Autumn Days charm bracelet is the result.

It is filled with a mix of pumpkins, gourds, leaves, trees, corn, and apple charms.  The beads are mix of Czech glass and semi precious stones that include carnelian, jade, jasper and goldstone, in shades of scarlet, amber, gold, pumpkin, coffee, bronze, deep forrest and shimmering leaf green.

In addition to today being the first day of Fall, it is also my 35th birthday.  I would like to be able to leave you with some sage words about life and the passage of time right now, but I just don't have anything truly profound to say.  I just know that in this last year I've found myself to be truly happy and peaceful, possibly for the first time.  I'm healthy, and the stress that once plagued me is gone.  I enjoy what I do every day, and I get to share my life with my best friends, Jim and Astrid.  Here's looking forward to the next wonderful 35 years.  Cheers friends.

Friday, September 11, 2015

New England: It's Wicked Cool

In the course of my 30+ years on the planet I have lived in many places.  I went to graduate school and met my husband in central Illinois.  I taught college students in south central Kentucky.  I currently live just outside Nashville.  But I was born and bred in New England.

During August I was fortunate enough to go home to visit my family in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, seeing aunts, uncles and cousins that I haven't seen in years.  In some cases it had been nearly two decades!  Whoever said you can't go home again, obviously wasn't from New England.  I was welcomed back with open arms and a cold Sam Adams.  (Always a good choice.)

Being home made me reflect on New England as a whole, and the many things I love about the region.  The lush forests that blanket the landscape.  Pristine mountains as far as the eye can see.  The sun shining on the waters of the Atlantic.  And the utter perfection of a good old fashioned clam bake.

I tried to include a little bit of the beauty and individuality of each state and its history in this bracelet, as well as some of the things the region as a whole is known for.  The charms include all six states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, as well as Boston with a tiny USS Constitution hanging from it, a lobster for its fantastic seafood and fishing industry, a leaf for foliage season, mountain for the White, Green, Longfellow & Appalachian ranges, moose, lighthouse, pilgrim from the early colonies, ships wheel for its maritime and sailing traditions, hiking boots & walking stick for the many national forests, snowflake, and two tiny skiers on a chair lift.

The beads are a mix of Czech glass and pressed glass shells in shades of frost, yankee red and colonial blue.  And even though I just got back a few weeks ago, just working on this made me homesick all over again.  I'd like to indulge in a lobster roll and a Boston Lager to make myself feel better, but sadly I don't trust lobster in Tennessee and I can't find a proper hotdog bun to serve it on down here.  Seriously, why hasn't the rest of the country caught on yet about the joy of grilled split-top buns?

Well I might not have a lobster roll handy, but I do have a beer.  So while I go enjoy that, please enjoy the hilarity that is the Boston Teens sketches from Saturday Night Live, featuring Jimmy Fallon, Rachel Dratch, and Ben Affleck.  You're welcome.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Movie Lover's Charm Bracelet

I've got several new designs planned out that I want to make this fall, and I've finished the first one!

Like so many of my designs, this one was inspired by a fantastically talented friend, and young film maker.  Her name is Kasey, and once you've met her, you'll never ever forget her.  From her bright eyes, to her adorable drawl, and on past the surface to the unfailingly generous and deeply intelligent, woman underneath, Kasey is a wonder.  When I first met her she was studying both theatre and film, and hopes someday to be a screenwriter and filmmaker.  

With her long blonde hair and infectious smile, she could be the picture of the All American Girl.  And if you only met her in passing you might think she'd make a phenomenal cheerleader.  But what Kasey really wants to do is make horror movies.  The bloodier and creepier the better.  I imagine her as a director someday showing up to a day of filming, with a pan of homemade brownies for the crew in one hand, and an extra five-gallon bucket of stage blood in the other, 'just in case'.  

While I always felt myself inspired by my students, Kasey was one of those rare people who can get complete strangers excited about a topic they would otherwise have no interest in.  And so, how could I not create a bracelet inspired by her love of film?  I'm really in love with several of the charms on this one.  The tiny popcorn you might remember from the Take Me Out to the Ballgame bracelet I did a few months back.  There's a couple on a date at the movies, a clapperboard, tiny theatre, soda, camera, directors chair, an Oscar, tickets, and a few film reels. 

I work hard to find great charms whenever I'm designing a new bracelet, but there always seems to be one charm that I just fall in love with as my favorite on each project.  This time it has to be the couple on a date.  They are leaning towards one another, with their sodas and popcorn, and his arm around her shoulder.  I like to imagine they are watching one of Kasey's favorite scary movies.  

The beads are my usual favorite Czech glass, in shades of black, white and grey as a nod to black and white film, and deep red, reminiscent of the velvet drapes at movie palaces from the 1930's and 1940's.  Overall I'm pretty darn happy with how this one turned out.  I've got three more new designs in the works at the moment that I hope to get shots of soon.  One inspired by my recent trip home to see my family, one by my longing for cooler weather, and one that's a bit of a departure from my usual style...

Saturday, September 5, 2015

One Awesome Harry Potter Thing Swap Package

A little over a month ago I showed you the rag rug that I created for noodle-bug in the One Awesome Harry Potter Thing Swap over on Craftster.  Sometimes I get so focused on, and worried about crafting for someone else, that I completely forget that I'm going to *receive* an awesome craft in return, and this was no exception. I received the most stunning swap package, and had to share it with you.  

Noodle-bug is known for knitting beautiful cowls that I've admired for ages.  But considering I live in Nashville where the average low temperature in January is 28 degrees, I never thought to have one of her thick woolen confections for myself.  Enter Noodle-Bug the Genius.  She did her research, even contacting a friend who lives in the States to ask about the weather here.  Her answer was to make a super soft, feather-light cowl knitted from silk & angora, that I can wear without overheating.  And see those flecks of gold in the yarn?  They're beads that show a map of the stars in the Equatorial band, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

I'm not sure how she did it, but she also managed to match the cowl to my winter hat.  I can't wait to wear them both as the weather cools down.  (I know everyone loves summer, but I'm really more of a fall & winter kinda girl.)

Noodle also created a beautiful hand-bound notebook, that also contains a star map, though this one is stamped in beautiful golden ink.  It's a seriously weighty tome, and I haven't yet decided what to dedicate it to, but for now it is on my desk, where I can marvel at it every day while I work.  Thank you noodle-bug!  Your work is always so awe-inspiring, that it warms my heart and makes my fingers itch to pick up a crochet hook or some pliers. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sassy Stitcher Charm Bracelet

"I'm a material girl - want to see my fabric collection?" - Unknown

The Bracelet With No Name is done, and has finally been given an appellation of it's very own.  It was named by my very sassy stitcher friend and former student, Grace, who now works on film & television in Vancouver.

Over the years that I worked in costuming & theatre, I witnessed many people commenting on just how tough and badass the carpenters in the scene shop were.  No question, those folks work hard.  But I would like to point out that Sewing may just be one of the most badass of arts. Filled with blood, sweat, passion, hella-sharp blades, and of course, lots and lots of needles.

There's something intensely satisfying about walking out of your sewing room or costume shop, covered in bits of thread, sporting a burn from the iron, and some new calluses, knowing that you've finished that amazing dress, whipped up a new bag that will astound your friends, or quilted a new masterpiece for your bed.

I wanted this bracelet to represent all the incredible artists and technicians that I've had the joy of working with over the years.  Those completely badass women (a men), who put in the hours of backbreaking (and fingerbreaking) work to get the job done.  It contains 17 sewing charms, and is filled with Czech glass and hematite beads in shades of jet black, carbon grey, bright magenta and cool-under-pressure teal.  My hats off to all you sassy stitchers out there.  You've more than earned it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Home Again, Home Again, Travel is Done!

I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post!  Time has flown by.  At the beginning of August the husband, the Puggle and I visited his family for a rather large family reunion in Illinois.  After that I was home just a few days before jetting off again to see my family in New Hampshire for a much smaller reunion.  I hung out with a cousin I hadn't seen in 19 years, got hugs from aunts and uncles, and marveled at how much we've all grown up.  I spent lots of time with my beautiful nieces, having tea parties, visiting petting farms, and letting them cover me in makeup.  And I even got to stop in for a beer with an old friend at a brewery that is in both New Hampshire & Vermont.

Title: "Panorama taken on the deck of Whetstone Station Restaurant & Brewery, overlooking the Connecticut River."  Or "What Summer Should Be"
I'm back to work now, attempting to remake some sold out bracelets, and designing a few new ones for the upcoming holiday season.  I'm planning to make about 300 charm bracelets in the next 4 months.  Think I can do it???