Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Postcard Salon

Remember when I blogged about the postcard sale at the Art Center last year? Well, the now annual event is coming up next week! After attending and buying last year, my mind was already reeling about how I could participate this year. Each artist can submit up to 5 "postcards" - works of any type of media as long as they are 4 x 6 in size. I was able to create 3, all with a peacock theme of course!
Since I am a beader, first and foremost, I wanted to come up with a way to incorporate beads into one of them. Here, I took a photo of a peacock feather and glued bugle beads in coordinating colors onto it. The eye of the feather was the part that was most saturated with beads, and then I got a little less dense as the feather fanned out. This was a great way to use up bugle beads from my early beading days that I probably wouldn't ever use. I then put a nice clear protective coat of varnish over the entire thing, and then used some excess foil tape (from stained glass) to create a frame around it.
I knew I wanted to hand forge a copper piece, but wasn't quite sure what the design would be. Then I remembered I had this etched peacock feather already completed, but not reserved for any particular project yet. I riveted it to the postcard, after I put some decorative etching on the 4 x 6 piece and also stamping in the entire Emily Dickinson poem "Hope is the thing with feathers"....... Lots of patina and steel wool to get the finish just right.
And finally, I did a wood piece. I burned a cute border and the words wish, hope, dream. Then, I attached a wood peacock and flower which I found in the scrapbook section at Michael's. I burned a few accents on those components as well.
The postcards will be on display at the Art Center starting this weekend, and the sale will take place on Thursday, April 8th at 6:00 p.m. However, if you are an Art Center Member, you are allowed to make your selections to purchase at 5:55 p.m. (nice little perk). The postcards sell for $20 each - what a great price for a mini work of art! If you are in the Battle Creek area next Thursday, you don't want to miss it!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pretty Plumes

I've just had my first publication in Bead Trends - the April 2010 issue to be exact - and I am impressed!
They photograph the pieces so beautifully, and I love how they always include lots of detail.
This necklace is entitled "Pretty Plumes" and it featured a gorgeous wood pendant from Etsy seller Fashion Refined. I love the soft pastel colors against the dark wood!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chicago - Part 2

So besides swooning over the hotel, I did do some other things while in Chicago. Once I arrived, it was lunch time. So we walked over to the very first Marshall Field's (now owned by Macy's) on State Street. This flagship store is 8 floors of shopping pleasure, and on the 7th floor is their famed restaurant The Walnut Room. I don't even need to look at the menu here - I always order Mrs. Herring's Chicken Pot Pie - a staple they have served since their beginning. My Mom and I split a piece of Frango Mint Cheesecake for dessert. Again, if you are familiar with Marshall Field's, you know their signature Frango Mints! Yum!

Then, we hit a few stores on the walk back to the hotel. Here's Cody goofing around at Nordstrom Rack, trying on broken discount sunglasses!

After shopping and relaxing, we headed to The Berghoff, another historical Chicago destination. I usually always get the same thing here too - they are known for their Weinerschnitzel and own brand of root beer. Not wanting to nap during the exciting day, Cody slept really well as soon as we got back to the room!
We got up early Sunday morning and had breakfast at the hotel. Then we headed to Shedd Aquarium. I have always loved going to the Shedd. When I was young, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Cody got his face painted!

Here's a pic of the 4 of us, waiting for the Fantasea show.

After the Shedd, we all had to part way and get on our trains to go home. I left with 2 smooshed pennies in my wallet to add to my necklace!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Palmer House should be called The Peacock House

So, per my last post you know that I went to Chicago last weekend. We were going to stay Saturday night at The Palmer House, in the heart of downtown. While I have never been a guest at The Palmer House, I had been in their lobby/lounge several times over the course of my life since it is such a magnificent, historical landmark. But had no idea of their latest renovation/decor........

Potter Palmer opened the first Palmer House to the public on September 26, 1871. Thirteen days later, it was destroyed by The Great Chicago Fire. Undaunted by the destruction of his entire fortune, Palmer left for St. Louis immediately and negotiated a record loan - on his signature only - of $17 million. He began reconstructing his many properties and among them his most enthusiastic endeavor, the rebuilding of the Palmer House on a site across the street from the original. This location opened in November 1873. In 1925, having growing pains, the hotel was rebuilt on the same property. And thus, this third building still stands as the same hotel today. It was purchased in 1945 by Conrad N. Hilton.

So as my train approached the city, I called my Mom to find out what room they were in. My 3 year old nephew got on the phone and said, "Aunt Heather, there's peacocks in the hallway!" I didn't really know what he was talking about, but figured I would find out when I got there.......

And boy did I find out! I was in pure heaven!!!

The gorgeous brass peacock doors welcomed me into the building. I took a photo of the story behind them, and have shared it below:
This world renowned door, actually a piece of unusual real estate art, is one of three in creation called the "Peacock Doors". While the design reflects the majestic and mystical bird, the door actually pays homage to the famed "House of Peacock" - Chicago's historic and celebrated emporium of fine jewelry, fine china and imported gifts of silver and gold, founded by Elijah Peacock in 1837, Chicago's first incorporated business.

The House of Peacock in the Palmer House flourished throughout most of the 20th century under the leadership of C.D. Peacock (Charles Daniel), Elijah's son. The design is that of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Each of the three doors weigh more than a half-ton, and all three are valued at more than a million dollars.

This famed Peacock door is just the beginning. Step up into the historic splendor of the world renowned Palmer House lobby. See for yourself the results of one of the most comprehensive hotel restorations ever completed. This $170 million initiative has lovingly completed the mission: Return to Grandeur.........

Won't you join me, as I take you on my own personal tour of the Palmer House?
The Gorgeous Lobby
Elevator waiting area in the lobby. The peacock rugs down here are done in very earthy colors. Lots of luxurious gold and velvet.

As I stepped off the elevator on our floor (the 12th), I now saw what my nephew meant. The carpets on this floor are deep brown with beautiful jewel toned peacock feathers!
Every time we left the room, Cody would say he had to walk on the "spooky eyes" although I really don't think he was afraid of them.
Another design in the carpet.
Later in the evening, when we returned from dinner, I tried taking a self portrait while lying on the floor. I thought our hallway was secluded enough, but of course a man ended up walked by to get to his room and asked if I was okay. How embarrassing! Oh well, if you find me on Facebook you can see this photo of me.
Our room contained even more surprises for me - just look at this lovely bed! This color combo of black, white, sage green and deep red is very inspiring!
I love their new mod peacock emblem, embroidered onto these pillows.
They sure have thought of everything with there new theme - a photo of the peacock doors graced our black and white bathroom.
And lastly, here is some art work I found while wandering the halls.
What a great experience! I think from now on I will only want to stay at the Palmer House when in Chicago. It is so rich with history, and really gives you the true Chicago feeling. I will do another post sometime this week to tell about the other fun parts of our trip!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Birthday Celebrations

I am taking the Amtrak to Chicago this weekend, and meeting my Mom, future sis-in-law, and nephew there (they are taking the train from Wisconsin). Kaylan's birthday is Monday, and my Mom's birthday is Friday so it is somewhat of a celebration. We are going to take Cody to Shedd Aquarium - one of my favorite places. I am looking forward to relaxing on the train, and reading a new book.

I wanted to show the pieces I made for Mom and Kaylan's gifts. My Mom admired the rosaries I made for my Grandparents for Christmas so much, I knew immediately I was going to make her one for her birthday. I love blue and brown together, so that is the combo here. I used some glass window beads, and then some vintage looking floral beads. I love the old world look that was achieved when paired with the brass findings.
For Kaylan, I used one of the new Green Girl Studios pewter owl charms. I had this wire wrapped chain from Michaels with the black rounds and silver dangles, and I liked how the elongated charm went along perfectly with the shape of the dangles. This one goes over the head for lightweight, easy wear. Sometimes, simple is so, so good!

I'll post pics when I get back - have a great weekend!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring Fever

What a wonderful bout of weather we are having! But, I know I have to be realistic. Living in Wisconsin and Michigan all my life, I know that this is just a teaser and we can still have very cold days up until the beginning of June! But, the milder temps must be inspiring me to work with some very natural materials: stone, wood, ceramic, leather.

I made my very first purchase from Stone Studios Too last month, when a male friend of mine asked about men's jewelry. He lives in Colorado and is a rock climber so the first thought that popped into my head when he asked for a necklace were these stones. I cut out a copper tag and put a few different rivets into it for the pendant. Then I decided to try riveting one of the stones to it. I had the first stone all attached, and was just refining the edges of the rivet (with my little hammer) and.... it cracked and broke. So, I had to find another stone the lined up with the holes that were already in the copper. That one also broke in the process of attaching it. I was determined not to give up, because I was so excited about this idea. Third times a charm and this was the outcome. The rivet edges are not as soft and flush as I wanted them to be, but I did not want to risk breaking another stone. I linked up several of the stones and then completed the necklace with brown leather. It was a hit!
I had a few of the drilled stones left over, and saw that they coordinated well with this Jade Scott pendant. Very soft, muted colors.... very springy.... with Vintaj chain and clasp. I got a kick out of this copper and resin pendant that Jade made - the text in the background says nonconformist and the bird is too cute!

Some more recent Etsy purchases have been from Lisa Peters. This peacock feather/dream button has been attached to a leather cuff bracelet. The blank leather was the perfect canvas for a hand burned design. Now listed on Etsy.
And here is another goodie from Lisa - a ceramic owl - which I "framed" in a dark wood rectangle. The flat round glazed ceramic beads matched the glaze she used on him perfectly. And I love the mod look of the dark wood oval beads tapering down and having the round in between them. The ceramic button used for the clasp is also from Lisa. Also listed on Etsy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Have I mentioned how much I love Target?

I did some shopping this weekend.... more than I normally do. But, I rationalized it with the thought that I just got a promotion at work - let's celebrate!!! Plus, I needed a few new things for my upcoming trip to Belize. Ummm, yeah, those are the reasons......

Target is my most absolute favorite store! If I was told I could only shop at one store for the rest of my life, I would pick Target. Some may argue that it is just another big box store selling wares made anywhere but here, but I don't see them as trying to take over the world like a similar store that starts with a W, not to name names or anything.

I love that I can get multiple items in one stop. An otherwise boring trip to get soap might be brightened up with a new candle for the house. Or jumping for joy when I discovered sweet potato fries in their freezer section. Over the years, I have had many wonderful peacock and owl finds there. But nothing could compare to the fun I had this weekend......

The launch of Liberty of London!!!

Among all the cute floral prints, are a few peacock prints!!! I got this swimsuit (has a detachable strap).
I can throw a sweater or jacket over this pretty top for work.

I am so excited to wear this dress to dinner one night on our trip!

I am wearing this cute top today!

I wasn't sure about this ruffled dress at first, since I carry all of my weight in my hips, but since the ruffles start right under the bust line it is cute, cute, cute!!! Again, I could throw something over this for work and also wear it on the trip.

I tried to make myself only choose one item from each of the two prints, but because the pieces were so different and diverse I just couldn't. I also got some boxers in the black print to pair with a tank for summer pajamas. They also had some cute house ware items like pillows and frames, but I was able to control myself more in that area.

I got this cute hobo there a few weeks ago, unrelated to the Liberty stuff.
All photos courtesy of
And lastly, I raided their jewelry department. I especially love this @ttract brand they have there. Kohl's has a similar brand called Axcess I believe. I can find peacock and owl things within those lines from time to time and both lines have a very earthy/hippie vibe. This feather bangle has elastic in it for easy on and off - most comfortable! I love the long matching necklace that is actually a locket. That owl is a ring - so cool! And not pictured is a long chain with tons of tiny owls and leaves on it that I am actually in the process of taking apart and putting into a jewelry design.
Thanks for listening to my love affair with Target. Are you excited about the new Liberty line? What are you going to buy?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bauble Swap!

My friend Jennie over at The Prim Pumpkin is hosting a bauble swap! Jennie is the office manager at the Art Center, and she makes wonderful pumpkin dolls! Check out her blog and etsy shop through the link above, although she doesn't have any dolls for sale at the moment because they are off visiting with publications! So if you are an art doll lover, you may see some of her creations in print soon! We share a love of Halloween, and I know I will own one of her dolls someday... in fact, there is a certain fellow with a peacock plume in his top hat that I have my eye on.

Anyway, Jennie is collecting all of the baubles from the 10 participants and then she will put all of the packages together and send them out. I am so excited to see what comes my way. It's not just specific to jewelry, I would call it more mixed media. So I thought about how someone could use these pieces in a sewing project... or on a doll....etc.....

To represent my own craft, I hand burned 10 of my wood butterflies. I have never done so many at once, so it was fun to experiment with different designs and patterns - no two are alike!
I also gave out these wonderful ceramic pieces from etsy seller Mudaliscious. I had 5 owls and 5 peacocks.
Finally, I included in each package a wood cameo from etsy seller Pork Chop Show.
I'll do a follow up post to show off the baubles I get in return. What fun to send these things off into the world! Thanks for hosting this Jennie!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stained Glass Experience

This past Monday night, I completed a 5 week class in stained glass at the Art Center. Stained glass was something I always wanted to learn. My parents did stained glass when I was younger, but then sold all of their equipment as my brother and I kept them busy. I remember they made sun catchers - sailboats in particular and I also remember an ice cream cone pattern my Mom often did and I think even a gumball machine? I'll have to ask her.

I loved the teacher I had! Lyndie and her late husband Gordy have had their own glass business for many, many years in the town of Marshall, MI. Marshall is a very historical town filled with Victorian homes. Lyndie often does window repair and even creates windows from scratch for customers. She also repairs and makes lamps which is amazing to me! Her workshop is filled to the brim with wonderful things to look at. Besides teaching and running the shop, she participates in Art Fairs as well.

Since it was a beginners class, she wanted us to choose a simple pattern that was around 20 pieces, and it was going to be the size of about a sheet of paper. Of course, my first instinct was to do a peacock, but I actually did consider some other designs too. I looked through the patterns she brought and then went to the library to check out some books. The peacock patterns I found were was too detailed. So, I drew up my own peacock pattern. You'll notice that this forward facing peacock was inspired by the recent metal peacock I made in my previous post. My theory was, that it would be simplified by using pre-fabricated circular crystals for the tail.

The completed piece against a white backdrop to try to show the colors.
The next step was going out to her studio to pick out all of the glass. I knew I wanted a brown glass that looked like wood for the frame - love that! I also found the most perfect glass for the body - a navy and teal shimmery textured glass that looks just like a peacock! Even though you can't see through this glass (as you can see in the next picture), I decided to use it anyway. I found a light blue glass with a feathery texture for the tail and crystals in graduated sizes and colors. Clear glass for the rest of the empty space so that the peacock really stands out.
Next was to cut out all of the glass by hand. However, the top 2 clear pieces had to be cut on a saw as they were more difficult. I returned to Lyndie's studio to do this, as there were no saws to do this at the Art Center. As we worked, we enjoyed conversations about peacocks, our families, and a shared passion about Egypt. Lyndie and her daughter have traveled to Egypt! Then I grinded the edges of all of my pieces to make a perfect fit.
The next class, I applied all of the copper foil around all of the edges of each piece of glass. I used a ruffled foil for the tail feathers for an extra special detail. Next class: soldering. I found out that I solder too fast, which created a bit of sloppiness, so that is something I need to practice. But added bonus = now that I know how to solder, I can try it in some jewelry applications! I attached some curled wire for his head plumes. Finally, the last class was attaching the lead cane frame. We twisted it and I like how that matches the ruffled solder lines in the feathers. Then, patina all of the solder, clean it up, etc... I glued on a rhinestone eye and drew on an eyelash.

All in all, I am very happy with my piece! It was a fun class full of great people! I am glad I finally got to learn stained glass. Now I just have to decide where and how to hang my peacock. I beaded strap perhaps???

Sunday, March 7, 2010

More Upcycling

So, update from yesterday..... my new Jade Scott goodies were in my mailbox so that was awesome! They are now laid out on my studio table for me to stare at every time I go in there! Another not so fun discovery I made yesterday is that my "tags" and "materials" in my Etsy items have been flipped around. Ugh, stupid me. I was trying so hard to figure out why, when I was testing out searches for my items, they weren't coming up. So, I have to set some time aside for the daunting task of updating all of that.

Anyway, what this post is really about are some projects that have been in the works for some time now. When I was in Wisconsin for Christmas, my Dad gave me these bits of scrap metal from a job he did at work. He said, "They look like peacock feathers, don't they?"

Why yes they do! Well, at least to me.......
So, I started to design some metal peacocks to which I could rivet these scraps to. I had the idea to do a series of 4 of them, since I had dreamed up 4 "poses" that a peacock could be in. So far, I have 2 completed. I have been drawing the bodies first on paper, and then tracing them onto the copper and cutting them out. I then etch a design onto them - in the case of this first one, I mirrored the pattern from the metal scraps onto the back for a cohesive look. I am thinking this one would make a nice pin.
This forward facing one turned into a necklace. A bit feminine, a bit industrial. Definitely a conversation piece.
In the end, the backside of this one did not look so pretty so I cut out another piece of copper, etched a border onto it, and stamped my initials into it.
These metal scraps are quite difficult to work with, and were the cause of an injury a few weeks ago. I forget what my Dad said they were made out of, but they are a very hard metal to drill through. Plus, the area that I need to drill through is very skinny so that makes it even more of a pain. At any rate, I broke a few drill bits in the process - one of which smashed into my thumbnail. Ouch!!! Luckily, that has grown out now and I have feeling back in my thumb. Ahhhh, the sacrifices I make for my jewelry! Hee. Hee.
I am kicking around the idea of grouping together my most favorite upcycled metal work and submitting it to a certain magazine. I think these peacocks would be cool, maybe my fork peacock, my tea strainer butterfly, etc....... We'll see!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Jade Scott Phenomenon, and new pictures

I am a fairly newcomer to the Jade Scott pendant updates on Etsy. Wow, are those crazy of what??? The copper and resin pendants fly out of the shop as soon as she posts them! I was able to snag a few last month, which I finally got around to designing with this week. And got some more this past Tuesday. Hmmm, maybe they are sitting in my mailbox as we speak.... I should go check.

Anyway, I am really pleased with these new pieces, now listed on Etsy. And I've come to realize that I need to do something to spice up my pictures. Photographing jewelry has always been a struggle for me. Today I thought I'd use a book I recently purchased on eBay: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. It has gorgeous graphics on each and every page, with the most exciting ones to me being the peacocks!!!