Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On the 6th, and the 7th, and the 8th, and the 9th, and the 10th, and the 11th Day of Christmas!

They say time flies when you're having fun, well I know it sure does when I have to work all week! Suddenly we are on the 11th day of Christmas and I haven't had a chance to blog since day 5.
I'm not complaining too much, this is the way I get to start each day~
On the 6th day of Christmas Kelly Snelling gave to me....
This beautifully wrapped present.
I swear some are just too beautifully wrapped to open, but somehow I find myself ripping into the paper anyway!
And glad I am, that I did, because this handpainted ornament was waiting for me inside! There are so many layers, this picture just does not do it justice. The colors are rich and vibrant and just a bit mysterious as you look you are drawn deeper and deeper. There is antique hymnal sheet music and so much detail went into each one of these ornaments, you really have to pay Kelly's blog a visit and read her generous tutorial.
Kelly, I will cherish this ornament. Thank-you so much for putting so much of yourself into it~I love it!

And speaking of love.....It was love at first site between this little guy and me. Before the package was even opened his eyes found mine.

How could I resist? I knew they were made just for me!

On the 7th day of Christmas I had the great pleasure of opening this vintage paper mache-like ornament by Lou McCulloch. I have been a long time fan of Lou's assemblage's and altered art. Her work has been published in many books and other publications. I couldn't believe my luck at winding up in this group with Lou!

I have a feeling this is one ornament that won't be put away with the Christmas tree this year. Thank-you Lou!

On the 8th day of Christmas I woke to find this fabulous fabric ornament by Pilar Pollock. This is another ornament that I had to look and look at, finding all the layers and techniques used simply mesmerizing.

First of all Pilar got my attention with the handpainted detailed and delicious paper used to wrap the gift. You just know when so much care goes into the outside, something wonderful is waiting on the inside!
And then there was Pilar's use of the Mary and baby Jesus image on her ornament. The reason for the season.
Richly textured and detailed, and yet quietly moving. Thank-you Pilar, this ornament thrills me!

On the 9th day of Christmas...a vintage angel assembled by sweet Sally Turlington.

Sally has a way about her and her work that just makes me feel cared for. This piece was no exception. Sally took the origin of the song "The 12 days of Christmas" and found that the "9 ladies dancing" were supposed to represent the 9 qualities of the fruit of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Each one of the ornaments Sally made represent one of those qualities, mine is Kindness, a good reminder to me to remember to be kind through the Christmas season and all year long.

Thank-you Sally for this sweet angel. I will think of you each time I see her!

On the 10th day of Christmas, Jackie Allison gave to me....

The coolest mix of found objects on my tree! Jackie, you are a woman after my own heart! I love found objects, especially the kind that were objects of ordinary daily life from days gone by. Included in the menagerie are a vintage brass laundry tag, an old key, and a little spoon. Inside the spoon are the words "all hearts come home for Christmas". So true!

Thank-you for pulling my heart towards home with this wonderful ornament Jackie!

And finally I'm caught up to today, the 11th day. And another package that is just too scrumptious to open.

JoAnna Pierotti has a knack for pulling simple items together just so. I look at this photo and I can smell cookies baking in the oven, feel the warmth from the fireplace, and see the love in each little sparkle of the snowflake. And I know that it was a heart of love that was put into this, because that is just the way JoAnna is.

Once I was able to, oh so very carefully, open this gift up and set all the little treasures used to wrap it with aside, I was delighted to find this altered baby doll ornament inside! JoAnna is famous for her altered dolls, especially for the technique that she developed for the face.

Be sure to visit JoAnna's blog as she gives a tutorial on the doll face and has some great pictures of all the ornaments before she sent them out. Very generous!

Thank-you JoAnna, I've wanted one of your dolls but could never afford them, now I have one that will always hold special memories!

Another treat showed up in the mail. This one was an ornament I made for the group swap in the middle of summer and sent off with the rest of the group for publication in Somerset Studio. I was blessed to find that not only this ornament, but the box I wrapped it in AND my ornament from last years swap were all included in the article by Jenny Doh.

Well I'm off to bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. Can't wait to see what is in store on the 12th day of Christmas!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

On The Fifth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me...

A red & white polka dot delight of a present from Jennifer Rowland! Also known as Jrow to her friends.
And what a delight it was to open the pretty polka dot present and find this yummy gingerbread man hidden inside!

It is such a treasure!

The gingerbread man looks like an authentic vintage cookie cutter and Jennifer has filled him up with all kinds of treasures from his handwritten ephemera in the background, to his little snap buttons, to his rick rack embellished legs!

A tiny vintage key dangles from the bottom and if I hadn't read it on Jennifers blog, I wouldn't have known that the little ornament hook at the top was new. Jennifer has aged it with liver of sulfer.

Great job jennifer! I love this vintage style and will treasure this always!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Give the Gift of Art This Year!

Just in time for Christmas, I'm listing these great art kits in my Etsy Shop!

Give the gift of inspiration. Your artist friends will love it!

Sold! - Altered Doll or Angel Kit

Sold! - Stocking Stuffer Assemblage Found Object Kit

The ever popular collage pack. Great gift for the collage and mixed media lover! So prettily packaged they won't want to open it, but they won't be able to resist!

Visit my Etsy Shop today!

A peek around the studio

Hubby and I have moved into a beautiful new home, actually about 2 months ago, but I'm just settling in to my new studio space.

Trying to organize all of my trinkets

Art to finish and hang.

So much what I want our home to be.

I have so much stuff. There is probably a better way to store and organize, but I have to see it all! It inspires me just walking in here.

Poochies. And a cat.

Wish I had more of these antique cigar boxes. They are so graphic. Eye Candy!


On The Fourth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me...

A Victorian Santa ornament by Maija Lepore! Maija got this right on the money. Every detail so authentic that I thought she cheated and bought ornaments this year.
This is by far my all time favorite style of Christmas decor. I love the vintage Santa's. I love the crepe paper medallions and the bits of antique sheet music. I love the shiney tin.
Love Love Love!
And on top of all that love, my favorite color is red!
Did Maija know?
I know that Red is a traditional color for the season, but I'm telling you, Maija is so warm and friendly and thoughtful if she had known my favorite color she would have done it on purpose!
Thank-you Maija. It is going to be cherished for all my Christmases to come!

On the Third Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me....

Deryn Mentock is a truly talented artist. I got goosebumps all over when her package arrived in the mail and getting to open her gift felt much like Christmas morning when I was 5. I jumped out of bed and ran to grab the present from the pile!

The clip on glass bird ornament sits perched upon Deryn's wire nest. I don't even have the words to describe how it made me feel when I first laid eyes on it.

Mutual friend and group member, JoAnnA, wrote about Deryn's ornament "her work always makes me think of God.

And indeed it does.

Deryn has a heart for the Lord that is reflected in her work whether she is making a piece about Him or not. His light just shines through her work no matter what the subject is.

Be sure to visit JoAnnA's blog to read about how much Deryn's ornament moved her.

Deryn has wrapped antique Bible text around the tiny eggs in the nest and has used a resin technique on the antique text leaf.

Thank-you Deryn! This will be cherished forever!

On The Second Day of Christmas

On the second day of the swap it was my turn to present my gift to the group.

This caused no small amount of headaches...sweat...grief...tears of frustration...and finally resignation to the fact that the ornament I had envisioned (when I was finally able to envision one!) was not the ornament that I was going to produce.

First of all, that WAY COOL graffiti like background effect? A complete accident.

I painstakingly clipped each of the bird images from an antique dictionary and attached them to the glass. Then glued the glass down to an antique sheet music cover.

Gorgeous colors on that cover and the effect with the bird was so pretty, until the colors began to run all over the place from the glue!

I hurridly peeled the first piece off, but part of the cover came with it!

The result was this way cool graffiti like effect.


Now I do have to confess that I wanted to play this off as intentional.

Yeah, I meant to do that.

So totally intended for that to happen.

I even came up with a name for the "technique".

"Color Lifting"

But in the spirit of Christmas (and all that is moral and right), I couldn't bring myself to do it.


It was an accident.

One I like to call a happy accident, or accident #1.

Which brings me to happy accident (or maybe just, okay I can live with it accident) #2.

The group has been oohing and ahhing (I think they are just being nice) over the faux rusty vintage copper patina of the sides and back of the piece that so nicely matches the chain.

But it was not supposed to be RUSTY COPPER!

It was supposed to be SHINEY AND BRIGHT!

But for the life of me I could not find my soldering skills! As a matter of fact I haven't been able to find them for a long long while. But that's a story for another post.

After ruining 2 ornaments (and the tip of my soldering iron with them) I was very nearly in tears.

It was a Sunday night, 2 days AFTER the final mailing date and here I sat with a bunch of unfinished ornaments and an uncooperative soldering iron!

After pacing the house, crying and, er, praying out loud, my eyes finally landed on the bottle of copper paint and green patina sitting in my studio.

Was that a choir of angels I heard?

I swear a beam of light shone down from the ceiling to illuminate the inconspicous little bottles of faux finish, barely used because I am not a fan of patina in a can (or plastic bottle). I just prefer the beauty of naturally aged pieces.
But there was no time for Natural Beauty! I had a deadline I'd already missed!

Finally the pieces are finished, and I've wrapped them all up with buttons and mica flakes inside for good measure.
The buttons represent the marbles I lost over this project, and the mica flakes represent the tears!

Now, I know I had stashed something around the house to use for my number on my tags. Where did I put them?
Argh! Accident #3 was not so happy.
I must have lost one too many marbles that day and could not remember what I was planning on using for my number on the tag so I had to hurridly write a #2 on the box and get them out in the mail.
But all is well, the group seems to like them.
Next year I won't wait so long. As a matter of fact I've seriously been considering making next years ornaments this year on Christmas Day....

On The First Day of Christmas....

Well it's that time of year again. I can hardly believe it's true! This year I am participating in 2 different "12 Days of Christmas" art swaps. The first group began opening gifts on December 1st and will continue through the 12th day of December. Lucky me, only a few days later the second group begins opening, meaning I will have a gift for nearly every day this month!
First from a wonderful group called "Adorn" on December 1st I received this beautiful (and I mean beautiful!) Partridge in a Pear Tree from the talented Ruth Rae.
Ruth's attention to detail just never ceases to amaze me. From the intricate and thoughtful way the gift was packaged, to the many layers of the gift itself. There is so much to look at that I discover something new each time I look.
Included with Ruth's gift was this explanation of the song "The 12 Days Of Christmas". (Which I am pasting directly from Ruth's blog, but be sure to pay it a visit personally because it is a virtual feast in itself!)
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in 15th century England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith. The songs gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem:"Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..." (Luke 13:34)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What's The Big Deal About Prayer Anyway?

After my last post I felt convicted that I needed to clarify my thoughts on prayer. I didn't want to leave the impression that I didn't believe in prayer, because nothing could be further from the truth, but what is the big deal about prayer anyway?
I know from the Bible that God does respond as a result of prayer. Many many times I've seen Him responding directly to prayer in my own life and the lives of others, so how could I say there is no power in it?
Because I am just a weak vessel and the power is His. When I pray it is His power that works through me, not because of anything I can do, but because of what he can do.
Its not about a mumbo jumbo magic formula or perfect combination of words to convince God to give me all that I want or need.
Its about the relationship that is built with Him when I pray. About knowing who He is and who He wants me to be. Its about letting Him open my eyes to see the world with the Hope that He gives me. Its about staying connected the way you would want to stay connected to your husband or your best friend.
"Pray without ceasing" 1 Thessalonians 5:17
The big deal about prayer is simply being with Him.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

In Need of A Big Big God

I spent an amazing 3 days at Valley Ridge Art Studio last weekend under the tutelage of the awesomely talented jewelry and mixed media artist Susan Lenart Kazmer . I came away with more inspiration from that one 3 day workshop then I have had in a long long time.

Susan is such a gracious and giving artist, teaching and guiding with patience and enthusiasm, steering each student toward at least one completed project, which was tough considering all the techniques she introduced us to in the 3 days we were there. Just as I was planning to give up she would encourage me with "you're almost there!" and I would push on, stopping to watch her demos and practice other techniques with the class.

The last morning she encouraged so well that just about every student managed to create a jointed wire frame bracelet and develop new skills with a torch. For me, just being able to pick up the torch was a big accomplishment, and I left feeling comfortable enough with it to want to buy one to use at home.

Under Susan's sincere encouragement I managed to deviate from the class project of making a journal and instead created this Prayer Box Choker from a handcrafted antique cookie tin and bits & pieces of several old rosaries, including the cross and some of the religious medals.

Prayer boxes are used in many different religions. The wearer writes his or her prayers or chooses items of significance that represent their prayers or wishes and puts them in the box wearing it as jewelry to keep them close until the prayers or wishes come true.

I love the concept but as I contemplated what would go inside of my box I couldn't help thinking, is there power in this box? If I put my prayers inside and wear them close will they be more likely to come true?

As I sorted through my treasures looking for the perfect object to put in my prayer box I picked up an antique rosary and wondered, is there power in this little piece of metal? Or these antique glass beads? These objects that were made by human hands? Can we carve an image, even if it is the image of Jesus hanging on the cross, and find power there?
Is there power in my prayers?
With all of my heart I knew the answer was No. There is no power in these little objects made by man. There isn't power in my prayers.
But there is power in the one that I am praying to.
You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
Psalm 77:14

Have I been keeping God inside a box? Keeping my expectations of Him low so as not to be disappointed? Putting more faith in my own prayers then in the one that I am praying to?

Today I am in need of a big big God. One that still performs miracles. One that displays His power among His people. My hope can not be in any man, or even in myself or the combination of my words. My hope can only be in God. A big big God.

Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Psalm 150:2

Saturday, September 08, 2007

But The Fruit of The Spirit is Love....

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22

After a couple of months of "fruitless" efforts in creating I finally feel like I've begun to be inspired again. After a particularly difficult week at work, I was feeling much regret over my response to a particularly challenging individual and the offensive nature in which she had presented an issue to me.

I responded to the situation in kind, an eye for an eye. I defended myself and left with a self-righteous indignation that left a very bad taste in my own mouth.

The next morning in my quiet time I was once again on the carpet laying low and feeling defeated. I was never going to get this right! Never going to behave good enough to please my savior!

But He, as a gentle and loving Father, lifted me in His sweet arms and carried me to this passage in Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
Yes, I had failed to respond the way I should have, but my failure has not condemned me. Christ has set me free through His redeeming sacrifice on the cross! I do not have to work to earn my way to Him in heaven. He has already done the work for me. All I am to do is to rest in Him and trust that I am forgiven.

"You, my brothers, were called to be free."

"But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law."

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. "

Thank-you Lord, for filling me with your Spirit and reminding me that I am to love, not a love born out of my own efforts, but a love that comes from the fruit of your very own Spirit, which you have deposited in me until the day that you return.

Thank-you for continuously bringing me to my knees before you so that I might fill up on this love and bring it with me each day as I face the work you have given me to do.

The necklace above was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is titled "But The Fruit of the Spirit is Love...". It has been hand crafted from antique salvaged treasures including a beautiful antique rosary with blood red cut glass beads and a rare brass and faux pearl grape cluster. If you would like to see more of The Fruit of the Spirit necklace, or are interested in purchasing it, check it out here on Etsy.

"to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

I featured this necklace last time I posted, but I am not one to leave well enough alone.

I loved the art nouveau era brass lamp medallion and the way it played with the aged patina of the brass cuckoo clock chain and that of the antique faux pearl tear necklace drop, but I was not completely satisfied with the overall effect.

I was treating myself to a lazy night of watching "Vanity Fair" and soaking in the sumptuos costumes and jewelry when inspiration hit! Did I see the end of the movie? I don't remember.

Two gorgeous fat round antique rhinestone studded beads and two oval cut glass crystal beads intersect with the rosary bead and brass chains to complete the choker style necklace with panache!

When I look at this necklace I get a sense of a beautiful strength that comes from a life that has been restored. Something broken is now beautiful, beauty from the ashes.

He is the key.

Check it out on Etsy if you are interested in purchasing.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

In The Hands Of The Master Carpenter

It is very tempting to start this post as if I had not disappeared for the past few months. Here's my latest piece, see it here on blogger, see it over there on Etsy, have a nice day. Goodbye.

But who would I really be serving? I believe God is calling me to a deeper walk during this time in my life then ever before. He has told me very clearly in one way after another over the past few months to trust Him. Trust His soveriegnty, trust His will for my life, trust Him with my reptuation, my finances, my children, trust Him with my marriage.

I hear Him saying be transparent, be vulnerable, let others see His work being done in my life.

So here I am, back to share with you, in all the humility I can muster, the place that I am in and what God is doing with me here.

I am learning to trust you Lord. As I loosen my grip on everything that I knew to be my security. As you gently pry my fingers from all that I held dear and say to me "trust me".

"My times are in your hands" psalm 31:15

Who am I? Wife, mother, step-mother, child of God.

Seperated from my husband, my lover, my best friend.

How odd that I can still say he is my lover, my best friend. He is my other half, a gift from God, a literal answer to a prayer whispered on the edge of my bed 7 years ago. But he, like me, came to this marriage with brokeness and baggage from the past and no idea how to deal with it, but to stuff it down and pretend it did not exist.

Have you ever stuffed your emotions? Tried to hide how you feel? Do you wear a mask when you go to work, in front of the kids, when you go to church to hide the pain?

I have been to my knees for this man over and over in the past 7 years. My lover, my friend, please God, please God, please God. Please help him, please help me, please come Lord Jesus.

My hearts cry and my deepest desire is to see him free, to be set free with him, to see our entire family free from the grip of a broken past. From generations of brokeness and bondage.

The past stuffed so far down comes out, like it or not. For my husband, for a lot of men, it comes out in a rage. A rage so strong and so overwhelming it is blinding. Not a physical rage, but an emotional rage that can be just as damaging. Like a hurricane it blows through scattering everything in its path.

When you live with a spouse who has issues with anger, you learn a sort of dance. You learn to control the environment around you in an attempt to keep things calm. But life presses in and the storm blows through again. You cry, you pray, you take a deep breath and start all over again.

And there are good days. God knows there are so many good days. Because he is really a good man. A hurting and broken good man. And I tried, God knows I tried to help him. To "fix" him. To make it all better. But I couldn't do it.

Who has the power to transform a life?

There came a day when I knew there was nothing God honoring about staying in that place. I heard God say that for Him to do the work that needed to be done I would have to step out of the way.

For a time, with a heart for reconcilliation. Not to divorce him, but to let God do the work and to focus on my own healing and to have a time of peace.

I thought that it might take months before he let go of his anger and acknowledged this problem. But it was only days before he had broken and God swooped in and began his transformation in some amazing ways.

He has sought counseling for his anger, joined together with a mentor and good friend to study John Eldridge's book "The Way of the Wild Heart" and begin a journey into discovering where he is broken and how to heal and become the man that God has called him to be.

He has swallowed his pride and tells others about his anger and his desire to be set free and shares how God is working in his life to do just that. For the first time I see a hope in his eyes that is truly the light of God shining through.
No more mask, no more pretending to be okay when he's not.

But he will be. We will be.

Out of the ashes....we went to a marriage conference at our church a few weeks back and one of the speakers shared a beautiful analogy of marriage being like a finely crafted piece of furniture. When two boards are joined together with the carpenters glue they can never be seperated. If you were to take a sledge hammer to the piece it would break, but not at the joint where it was glued. He wanted to illustrate that once married, two people would never be the same if seperated.

As I listened I began to feel the weight of condemnation. I am a Christian! What had I done leaving my husband!? I read the bible! I know what Gods word says! I should be ashamed to be sitting here among all these couples trying to work out their problems while staying together!

But as I squirmed under that condemnation, I heard God say to me, "Yes, two people joined in holy matrimony should never be seperated. Put together the right way, the glue is too strong. But sometimes a piece of furniture has been hastily made, or time has taken its toll, or abuse has caused damage and it has begun to fall apart.
To the average person, to the outside world, there may be no worth left in this piece. They say 'Throw it away! Toss it out! Start over!'
But in the hands of The Master Carpenter, the piece can be saved.
It has to be gently taken apart and cleaned up before it can be put back together. It can become something even more beautiful then before.
Do you trust me?"

Yes Lord, I trust you.

"You are my hiding place,
you will protect me in times of trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance." psalm 31:7