Sunday, September 28, 2008

What crawls, freaks most people out, and usually has eight eyes and eight legs?

Spiders of course! Even the scarediest of scaredy cats can appreciate the aesthetics of a spider around the time of Samhain - or as us Westerners call it, Halloween! I've created some new lovelies with a new design that I call "Itsy Bitsy Spiders" which are significantly smaller than my other beaded spider designs. These Itsy Bitsy Spiders are around 2 inches in length and about 1 inch in width and can be made into a pin or a necklace. I've even added pedipalps (mouth parts, actually kind of like legs that pull the food into the mouth of the spider)!

Although my Itsy Bitsy Spiders do really try to mimic the aesthetic qualities of their real-life counterparts, I've also gone and created some other spider-inspired accessories which dwell in the realm of pure make-believe. They are actually kind of cute, in a Kawaii sort ot way. Kitchy, creepy in concept, yet kind of cute. So how about it? Do you want a scoop of "Spiders and Cream?" The ice cream cone is made of felt which is embellished with blanket stitching around its edges and glass seed beads have been individually sewn on one by one to create sprinkles - Hand-sewing; not a fan, let me tell you! It also features a tiny version of my beaded spiders which has also been hand-sewn onto the felt. The ice cream cone has been backed with 2 layers of stiff felt and features a safety brooch pin which has been hand-sewn (yet again) onto it. This is definately a way to wear spiders in a cutesy way. Even the arachnophobe in your life can wear one of these without squirming.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Weed trimmer disaster...

So last weekend, Saterday to be precise, I decided to mow the lawn. I mow the lawn every weekend and besides for the more or less humid and sticky weather, nothing was out of the ordinary. Although it was against my better judgment, I decided to wear my lounge shorts with sneakers instead of the regular jeans and a t-shirt "dealy" since it was so muggy out. I went about my routine of first picking up all the dog doodies, removing the solar lights, and finally mowing the lawn with my electric mower. Back and forth, monotonous, repetitive, yet something I enjoy doing every weekend. I look forward to the smell of fresh cut grass, a doodie-free lawn, and two white dogs with grass stains on their paws. Once the mowing of the lawn was complete, as usual, I pulled out our electric weed trimmer. I trimmed all the overhanging grass around the fence, the house, the deck, and under the deck stairs. I reached the sheds at the back of our yard and decided I would trim a little around them as well. Almost done and sweaty, I tripped and my reflex quickly ended in a blunder. Zzzt! Zzzt! Zzzt! Zzzt! Zzzt! My uncovered ankle was already bleeding before I realized what I was doing to myself and released the trigger. The first thing I could think to myself was "I'm an idiot" and I ran to the outside tap and let the water run on my raw flesh. It strangely wasn't painful till I was in the car on the way to the hospital. Not that I needed to go to a hospital seeing as this wound was clearly only on the surface, but it was already too late for a clinic and I figured that I should get a tetanus shot just in case. En route it began to burn a blaze! Ouch! Thankfully the hospital visit was quick and only involved a shot in the arm, a saline wash for my misfortune, and a bandage job which was all accomplished under 45 minutes - and people say our health care is slow! I returned home with no new knowledge, but instead with a tweeked ankle, a tube of polysporin, and a promise that from now on all yard work shall be done in jeans!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pet Portrait Charms!

It's no secret. I am an animal lover. I'm a visual art major. I am also a Pitbull owner in Ontario, Canada - essentially "no-man's land" for these dogs. So I've combined my passion for these things and decided to offer pet portraits on a smaller scale using good ol' fashioned colored pencils, shrink plastic, and a quality sealer. When I first finsihed up my major in Visual Art, I was a bit put off by anything related to drawing or painting. This may have had something to do with the fact that I was producing at least 3 pieces a week which was creatively exhausting. When you are forced to pour out works that usually aren't interesting to your right brain, you get tired of it pretty fast. Drawing pets has really helped me rediscover that visual artist that I thought was either dead or suffering from some kind of depression deep down inside my mind.

The great thing about these pet portraits is that you get to wear them close to your heart as a pin/brooch or on a necklace. Your child can bring a little momento of fido to school attached to his backpack zipper as a charm. Better yet you can even get a portrait of your pet for your keys or your rearview mirror which I can assure you will leave you guilt stricken whenever you leave the house and leave your furry friend behind.

I've also decided to donate a portion of each sale of these to the Dog Legislation Council of Canada's legal fund which has been established to fight the Pitbull ban in Ontario, Canada. To date I have been able to donate over $127 solely through the sale of these. It may not seem like much, but it's definately something!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Soldering: They key is to not touch the hot part!

It has been raining a whole lot lately. Rain and creativity have always gone hand in hand for me. That might have something to do with the fact that I don't much feel like going out on rainy days so I would rather stay in and make something! So I decided that this weekend was the weekend that I would try my hand at soldering jewelry. I fired up the soldering iron, cut up my copper foil tape into strips, clipped a few sticks of solder, and got my flux all ready to go. I had my spot all set up like a pro. Then I very clumsily ran my hand into the smoldering hot tip of the soldering iron! Ouch! Regardless, the show must go on and so it did. It was jolly good fun but here's an important tip for those of you who are thinking about trying this out at home: Don't touch the iron because it sizzles your skin like eggs on the pavement on an August afternoon! Yikes. Another great tip is to head on over to your local Canadian Tire (if you're Canadian eh?) and check out the clamps section in one of the tool isles. They sell this really neato little clamp with a suction cup at the bottom which is perfect for holding your piece as you solder. They'll run you about $2 CAD.

I also went ahead and tried soldering around some etched mirror pendants I was dying to get started. It was a great success! High five!

I even got so bold as to dable with textures such as little droplets of solder on the seahorse, the fish, and the ship pendants. I see much more of this kind of stuff in my future.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Adventures in pet photography...

About two years ago I bought a digital SLR. I quickly discovered that owning a decent camera is very much like being a decent mechanic - everybody and their mother wants some of your time. I am by no means a professional, and I've never once thought of doing this for a living someday, but it would be nice to get a little compesation for my work now and again. Then again, I don't always mind volunteering my time and creative energy. Sometimes the experience is worth more than money. This week my dog's obedience trainer asked me to take a few photos of her dogs. Her 13.5 year old German Shepherd has not yet been able to steal a few of her cat's nine lives and it is quite clear that she is on borrowed time these days. I, being a crazed animal lover, could not say no. Forty-four photographs later, I called it a day and all of her eight dogs seemed content that I did so. What did I learn from all this? That sometimes doing things for free can be rewarding and that taking photos in the bright scorching hot sun can be difficult. Regardless, it was a good experience and my little Jack Russell, Ozzy, got to come along and visit a few old friends.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Pibble and a Jack Russell Terrorist under one roof.

I believe that dogs come into our lives for certain reasons. They often teach us more about ourselves than we can imagine and some of them even manage to help us blossom into better beings. I like to think that both my dogs have helped me in this way and continue to do so every day. I have two wonderful dogs that many think are an odd match. A Pitbull and a Jack Russell Terrier under the same roof can definately sometimes be overwhelming, but it is mostly ridiculously entertaining! Pitbulls are society's underdogs and my newest addition has taught me something about true friends and family as well as a society who feeds on media junk. So you probably think Pitbulls are dangerous? You probably think that they will attack the first chance they get and that they aren't to be trusted? If you believe this, you couldn't be further from the truth. Have you ever seen one who sucks on a "binkie?" This is my dog Kali -> . We adopted her last summer and she is now 4 years old. Her old owners gave her up and purchased a Boston Terrier less than 6 months later. Funny how some think pets are disposable. She came to us largely overweight and with a hint of dog agression - much has changed since then! She is now in perfect shape and her dog agression is constantly improving. I would like to clarify that dog agression is in no way, shape, or form, associated with agressiveness toward people. She is a ball of mush when it comes to kids or anyone willing to pat her on the head. We aren't 100% sure on her lineage as she has been an SPCA special since birth and is now on her third home but we do know for sure that she's a Pitbull-type breed, possibly mixed with either American Staffordshire Terrier or even American Bulldog. We'll never really know and it really doesn't matter. Her first family named her Frisbee, her second named her Angel, but I knew she was not destined for such names the moment I layed eyes on her. So she became Kali, Hindu goddess of death and destruction who is only feared by those who are ignorant as she is more a goddess of time, change, and of reality. I can't help but associate what this goddess symbolizes to the breed that so many love to hate. Like any other medium-sized-dog, a Pitbull is capable of destruction and death but the Pitbull is special in my eyes as it shows us reality. These dogs show us more than any other just how destroying, discriminating, and cruel we are as the human race. They show us just how heartless we can be to something of our own creation while at the same time showing us just how forgiving and loving they can be. Kali, like a filter, actually managed to weed out our friends and family without even meeting them. We've had some family who actually refused to come to our home unless we kenneled her because they feared she may be some kind of viciously fine tuned killing machine that would ravage their children before their eyes. Others even stopped talking to us entirely and vowed to never step foot in our home. I still don't understand why as they have never even met Kali. I wish they knew the truth, but more so, I wish they would open their eyes, ears, minds, and hearts to the reality behind the media hype - a fruitless wish no doubt. If they only knew that lock jaw doesn't exist, but that some type of wet kiss-locker is programed into their minds and that their brain doesn't swell to create some rabid beast, but that they can make our hearts swell over their silly body and tail wiggles. For her first Halloween, we decided to dye her pink - no worries folks, the product is safe for use on pets! Even though she was still the same old Kali wearing a muzzle on her walks, people saw her in a whole new color! People were smiling rather than shaking their heads! Parents were allowing their children to come pet her rather than pulling them away! Some even took a few snapshots of her! Funny how something as simple as a pet-safe dye job was able to completely change her world. For a little while, her life was pretty pink - literally. This clearly proved to me that Pitbull-hysteria is just that: an uncontrollable outubust of fear characterized by irationality based solely on apperance and a few bad apples. Without a bark, Kali has also shown me to really appreciate the family and friends who trust my instincts and who were willing to meet and learn to love a dog that isn't by most others. I thank her so much for that. From the moment she has come into my life, I have learned to see and experience the world much more differently. I have learned to judge by actions, not by appearances or by misconceptions. I have learned that there really is such a thing as a "diamond in the ruff." Now Jack Russell Terriers are another story entirely. Everyone knows they are furry four-legged terrorists and there ain't no disputing that (please note the sarcasm)! We also adopted Ozzy, formerly known as Buzz, from the animal shelter. The poor sweetheart ended up there because he was a handful. No doubt the Chrismas present of some child whose parents quickly realized that a Jack Russell is more than just cute all the time. The person in charge of adoptions was asking me "Are you sure?" over, and over again while Ozzy was jumping up and down behind the desk. My heart melted instantly and from that day on, he was mine. Ozzy is 3 years old now and I've had him for 2 - 1/2 years of his life. He is the sunshine and comedic relief in my life. All the little guy needed was a walk! He came into my life at a very critical time for me. Approximately 6 months before I layed eyes on him, I almost lost one of them in a freak accident. Our home's gas fireplace exploded in my face. It's a long and sad story that I won't go into here for various reasons, but to sum it up I had to have emergency eye surgery, spent three days in the hospital, and many more trapped in a mind filled with depression and anxiety. Ozzy, a crazy and spunky dog who demanded my attention was exactly the remedy I needed to help me heal or at least forget for lapses of time! During our walks, obedience classes, and cuddles, I learned to divert my thoughts toward something greater than myself: the love for a being other than myself. Although I will never be the same, although my vision will never fully improve, although the scars are a constant reminder, and although I will always deal with anxiety, I'm thankful that I can find moments of relief with this furry-four-legged-canine. Today Ozzy is a therapy dog and together we visit those who need a little of his clown-like charm - just as I do. He has taught me to live and laugh again. He has also taught me to be selfless and that by helping others I can help myself. When I wake up next to these two snoring bundles of fur, I am in awe at what fate has bestoyed upon me. Just goes to show that one man's trash is another's treasure.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Got coin?

After my first little experiment with using pennies in jewelry, I became inundated with ideas that taunted me and would continue to taunt me till the day they would be realized. Pennies here, pennies there, pennies can be found everywhere! They really can! The penny, in Canada, is probably the lesser used of all the coins, yet you can almost always dig one out of your wallet to scratch that lotto ticket or find one lying on the sidewalk possibly dropped by someone fumbling for change in their pockets or purse. These pennies may have been cherished by the child who once collected them in his piggy bank or used in a coin toss to determine who would start the parking lot baseball game. They may have been dropped in a Tim Horton's Send a kid to camp collection box, or used in a drinking game by college friends instead of studying for their big exam. Some of these pennies may have been thrown over a shoulder into a fountain in hopes of a wish coming true and later picked up by the homeless man who washes in that fountain. They may have been used in a silly game of bloody knuckles in the schoolyard at lunch or put in the mouth of a baby who has not yet grasped the concept of germs.. Which gets me to thinking... Thank god I washed these pennies before turning them into jewelry! These goodies and more like them can be found at