Sunday, April 27, 2008

Just a few days later...

Look what a difference a few days of warm weather can make!! Everything was so eager to burst out of the bud. The air is sweet with the scent of unfolding leaves. I wish I could bottle that scent to be able to breath it in the dead of winter, it's a piercing, poignant, indefinable evocative of change, new beginnings and rebirth both physical and emotional.

Todays finds:

Reading: The Number One Ladies Detective Agency

Listening: Isabel I Reina de Castilla, Luces y Sombras en el tiempo de la primera gran Reina del Renacimiento 1451-1504- Jordi Saval

Friday, April 25, 2008

The View From The Beach

The slope from the beach up to the yard is still in it's muted winter colors. By June it will be lush with clover, Queen Anne's lace and daisies. Hopefully the wild roses will be back too, though they may be too deeply covered with the sand that blows up the hill in the winter. The bare tree on the left is a big willow which gives wonderful shade on the beach. The two pines at the far right are where I hang the hammock in the summer. It's a heavenly place to read or daydream or drowse an afternoon away. And the boys know it's a "no roughhousing" zone!

I am so truly blessed.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lur Earrings

Do you ever get a notion in your head that you can't get rid of? An idea that niggles and bugs, whispering "Try me! Try me!" in the back of your head? I want to build a small glass furnace. Really small. A little, knee high Viking style glass furnace, fired by hardwood charcoal and a bellows. I want to try making beads the way my great-great-greats did. Can it be done? I have no idea. Why do I want to do it? I have no idea. Why do people sail around the world alone, or climb mountains? This will be much less dangerous and at the end, I'll have beads!

So in the process of researching Viking era beadmaking, I was coming across all kinds of other interesting archeological finds. The Norse travelled and traded extensively and their "stuff" turns up all over the place. (personally I'd really love to live somewhere where turning over the garden in the spring could yield a hoard of silver!). I looked at wonderful brooches and buckles and amulets, all sorts of fascinating beads, weapons and kitchen utensils, and more. What really caught my eye were these bronze horns:

These are Bronze Age Lur Horns, dating from about 1,000 BCE, so they predate the true Viking period. However they are definitely Norse, and have been found in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Northern Germany and Latvia.

I just think they are the coolest shape ever. I decided I wanted to make something with this amazing 3,000 year old shape.

The actual Lur horns average 2 meters long, which is rather larger than my usual jewelry projects. (!) However I got out the silver clay and some nice chunky 10g fine silver wire and started to experiment. I made thin discs of silver clay, with embedded balls that could later be hammered flat, and a decorative center. I tapered the wires at one end to a soft point, and embedded the other ends into thicker discs of clay. When everbody was nice and dry, I joined the discs together. They spent 2 hours in the kiln and then more time being fiddled with, as they required the perfect curve to the wires to counterbalance the discs. They are heavy, but because they are so well balanced I can't even feel them in my ears! I gave them and inky black patina with a sulfur bath and then a couple of hours in the tumbler. And this is what they look like!

I'm quite pleased with them, I'm going to make more. They weren't what I'd set out to do, but that's half the fun, isn't it?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Letting go..

I'm gradually sorting through a lot of vintage and antique photos and selling them...I have wayyyyy too much stuff. More stuff than I could ever need. It's a wonderful thing to be able to see beauty, or potential, or artistic possibilities in mundane objects from the past, but it unfortunately leads to...too much stuff! Yesterday I came across the photo above. It just slays me! The tiny WWI soldiers uniform (complete with puttees!!), the wee wicker chair, and God help me, the cigarette! And most of all the expression on his face! That kid's not a ham, he's the whoooole pig!
I'm seriously struggling with parting with this picture!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Day Without Shoulds

I hardly ever take a day off. With one thing and another, there are always bits of work of varying types to be squeezed in and most of the time I'm perfectly fine with that. I do work hard. Yesterday I decided I would just do whatever I felt like doing...I'm still celebrating the completion of "the big task". So the day began with lots of coffee, a trip to the Post Office and a leisurely browse of the news, favorite blogs, a bit of research and other fripperies.

I had been on the beach in January, but not since, I just don't enjoy beach walks in the winter...we generally have a lively to fierce wind here. Each spring there are mounds of sand in the yard, sometimes even sand on the driveway! But today was sunny, and calm, with scarcely a breath of wind so I went for the first beach walk of the season. I love the beach when it's deserted, I walked for over an hour and didn't see another soul. The sun and the sand were hot, and the air over the water was icy cold and refreshing.

Half the pleasure of a beach walk for me is looking for stuff. I've done this ever since I was a little child, when we would hunt for agates in Montana or arrowheads in Saskatchewan and Alberta. No matter how relaxing the walk, I enjoy it more if I can look for things...and even more when I find them. I've picked old glass Mardi Gras beads out of the dirt in New Orleans, and blue and white china fragments from an alley in Cornwall. (And I've kept them all, they may eventually end up in a mosaic). The beach yields up an unending assortment of fossils, wonderful stones, driftwood, sea glass, broken china, interesting rusty bits, and other surprises. Once I found a huge (HUGE) rusty spring, about a foot high and at least an inch thick, and yes, I brought it home though it must weigh ten pounds! We have hundreds of stones with holes. I figure they must be from softer fossils in harder stones, the softer parts have worn away over the years. Sometimes the holes are irregular, but sometimes they are so perfect they look as though they were drilled. There are great big chunky ones, and tiny rings 1/4" across. I love them all.

Since my nephews now enjoy hunting for beach glass, a definite hierarchy of perceived value has evolved. Brown is the least favorite color, then clear (which is frosted by the waves to a soft white), then green. We find a lot of green. The lighter odd olive and pine and lemony greens are probably from wine bottles, the medium greens from old pop bottles, remember them? Then things get interesting, with finds of pale purple, soft aqua or very pale greens provoking mild envy. The most envied pieces are the deep blue of old Noxema and Milk of Magnesia bottles, and the very hard to find red pieces. My dad suggested the red bits were probably from old car tailights. I've found pieces of pale green Jadeite glass, and some pink Depression glass, and marbles completely frosted by the waves.

We find fragments of china too, it's fun when we can identify the pattern. Blue and whites are my sister has some Blue Willow bits which is extra fun because she collects the dinnerware, and I have a great little piece of Mikado. I found a piece of Medalta, with a cowboy hat on it (gave it to Mom), and lots of pretty floral pieces.

Did you know there is a North American Seaglass Association? The "shard of the year" wins $1,000 at their annual festival. There is some beautiful jewelry made from beach glass on their website.

This is what I found today. From now until October my pockets will generally have sand in them!

I decided I should at least pop a toe into the water, just to symbolically start the swimming was bone-numbingly cold. COLD. Lake Huron is deep enough that the water hardly ever gets really warm, but by June it's usually swim-able. It is NOT, right now, in case you were wondering!

Later, I reorganized all of my gemstone beads and pearls and bead caps and findings. I love to organize things when I don't feel rushed. It was fun. And some time at the torch produced a new Pleasurable Vessel, which is now waiting for it's silver collar to be made. It was really great to take a day just to putter and play. I should really do it more often. But yesterday was a day without shoulds!

Message in the Sand

Monday, April 14, 2008

Zero Gravity Dance, and Completion!

This is going to be an amazing movie!

I enjoyed the books so much and it's amazing to see this becoming a reality! Add if you make a donation to the project, you become an honorary Stardancer! How cool is that?

Personally, I am very happy tonight because an overwhelming task is finally done. I thought at times I would never get it finished, but it's done, finis, complete, accomplished, done, done, done! I wish I could say the same about my taxes, but they are 1/4 done, at least.

I'm going to have an "adult beverage" as a friend calls it! Cheers!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hats and ebay and other stuff

It's hat week at miss-spider's web, my little corner of the big giant world known as eBay. Say what you like about eBay, there's nothing like being able to access a world-wide market for a few dollars in fees. Yet there is constant bitching and moaning by so many sellers who seem to lose sight of what they are getting for their fees. Enough of that. Despite it's flaws and the occasional negative-leaving fruitcake (mmm, so not tasty!) I still enjoy the eBay experience. It certainly has allowed me to sell my vintage oddments and my beads without being tied down to a vintage store. 14 years of doing that for someone else taught me a lot, especially that I didn't want to do it any more. Yes Ebay does have rules, but it's their sandbox and if I want to play in it, that's the way it goes. Since I don't want to sell Nazi memorabilia, guns, porn or lawn darts, I'm mostly okay with their rules. Not so fussy about the feedback changes though so I may be eating my words in May. Lets be optimistic though. Most customers are great.

The charming Emilie has worked hard modeling hats this week. Whenever she does I get inquiries as to whether she's for sale (she's not). I've also had complaints about using "such a creepy model". And one guy who thought she was real and wanted to know if she was single.
I'll have to ask her!

Reading: Point of Purchase; How Shopping Changed American Culture

Listening: "Mothership"; Led Zeppelin, and "Orient-Occident"; Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Oh, how I love to do paperwork! The rustle of paper, the soft click of the calculator, the heady aroma of liquid heart is beating faster just at the thought. I love to spend hours double checking my calculations, and I savor each papercut. Lovely lovely paperwork, such a delight.

If you believe this, I have some choice real estate I'd like to sell you.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Thinking About Friendship

I've been thinking a lot lately about the nature of friendship. What it is, and what it isn't. The reality is that true friendship is rare. I cherish the true friends I have. It took a long time for me to realize and accept that friends come and go throughout life, and that is a part of life. The abiding friendships, the ones that endure through the years-the ones that thrive no matter what-are the exceptions. It's a true friend who can pick up a conversation that ended a year ago, and make you feel as though no time has passed at all. A friend from University recently got in touch after a VERY long time (dang, I won't say how long!) and it's a delight that his sense of humor hasn't changed at all. Our emails back and forth are such fun, and there are no expectations. I like this. This is something to celebrate. Daily phone calls can be great, but I'm learning that I vastly prefer quality to quantity.
Here is what I am learning: Proximity and mere habit sometimes becomes a factor in friendship, and permits a friendship to continue long after it has become unhealthy. Change is an inevitable part of life. When friends change in dissimilar ways, it can be difficult to hang onto the things you had in common. Especially if one (or both) of the friends is... crazy eccentric a bit quirky.

It's with great surprise that I'm realising that if I open the gate, people are willing to come through! And I'm enjoying the experience that children take for granted: that sometimes, if you are very lucky, you meet someone and recognize the potential friend right away. There was a time when I would have resisted that recognition, but no more.

I love my friends.