Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My First Artistamp!

I have a long secret addiction that has resurfaced. Well, um…..I have jars of stamps all over my house. There! I said it! Nothing fancy, no big first issues, just fun little jars of stamps I’ve had for I can’t remember how long. Well, now I’ve discovered something new for me. Artistamps! These are also known as faux postage, or in the true collector’s world, Cinderella stamps. I started reading about artistamps and from what I’ve found, they are an underground movement that started in the ‘70s. Still not a whole lot of them out there. So I’ve created my own first stamp. Still trying to figure out how to get that whole “perforated edge” look to the border. The photo is of a very patient butterfly the girls and I found fluttering around our ligustrum hedges in the front yard. I thought he’d take off the moment he heard the first “click” of the camera, but apparently he was quite the ham. He proceeded to slowly open and close his wings, not minding a bit that I was getting closer and closer. My camera was only about eight inches from him when I snapped this shot. I need to practice more at these and start taking more pictures to use on them, but I’m working on a new jewelry line in which I hope to incorporate these and some really pretty “real” stamps. That’s all I’ll tell you for now. Stay tuned and tell me what you think of my first attempt. I’m open to constructive criticism so click on the comments link below and let 'em rip! If you have any other ideas for the “country”, let me know that, too. HappyVille was just the first thing that came to mind.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Amber Alexander's Miss Kitty Hearing Things...

I've been collecting ACEO's for a while now (and one of these days I'm going to get them all out of the baby wipes box I have them stored in and do something fabulous with them...). I stumbed across artist Amber Alexander and fell in love with "Miss Kitty Hearing Things", pictured here. Reminded me of my dear sweet Kitty. Snagged her and a friend, a lovely kitty portrait of Mother Nature. Can't stand to have one lonely little ACEO from an artist. Must always have a least two (okay, or three or four....). When I sent Amber a note, she checked out the blog and sent me a note back asking "Is that you in those kooky self portraits?" and when I replied, "Yes, that would be me"....in all my pnuemonia-fighting drug-induced glory...she said, "Love it!" I always love people who can enjoy someone else making a fool out of herself. That typically means they have a little of that kookiness in them as well. And what's life without a little kookiness, or cats hearing things, now and then? Go check out Amber's work here!

The redheaded mermaids and I spent a lovely afternoon with my dear friend Wyanne and her daughter Logan and friends yesterday afternoon for Logan's birthday. We painted pictures, made shrink art jewerly, played "Who's got the button?" and "Don't Spill the Beans", decorated a butterfly cookie cake and cooled off with water balloons. Much fun. Wy's "wine husband" and 14-year-old son and friend were quite the troopers hanging out with us and helping out. If you are in need of some inspiration, whether artful or just about life in general, Wy has posted an incredibly inspiring video about following your dreams on her blog (she really does the coolest videos..check them all out). Check it out here. I feel very blessed to call her friend.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Free Bling Friday Number 42!

It's time for Free Bling Friday! Congratulations to Free Bling Friday Number 41 winner, Beth G. from Michigan. Here's another sample of my new spring ears. These are fun little lampwork beads blended with purples, blues, grays and white, livened up with some sterling silver wire swirls. They hang approximately 1 1/2" on sterling silver French wires. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, May 8, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn Friday, May 2. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Two Little Mermaids at it Again

Spring has definitely sprung here in Florida, which means Summer is just a couple weeks away. I really tend to break out the camera this time of year. My DH is one of those who will take just about anything free, thus the blue alien shaped above ground pool you see a piece of in this picture. A most interesting pool, it is. It’s inflatable! You inflate the ring on top and then start filling it with water. As you fill it, the ring rises and brings up the sides. Pretty ingenious actually. Full size it’s 18’ in diameter, yet it folds down to fit in a box the size of your stove. Anywho, it’s proving to be a lifesaver for two little redheads who get a little cranky when they get home from school in the afternoons. Still a little chilly for my taste, and give the girls no more than 30 minutes and their teeth are chattering, lips turning blue. “Aren’t you cold, girlies?” “No, Mom!” Chatter, chatter, shiver, shiver, as they climb up the ladder and jump in again. Give it another month and I’m sure I’ll be in there with them.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Jennifer Squires...Speaking of Being Good With a Camera

...I'm just an amatuer. Jennifer Squires is a professional. Usually the great finds I post here are things I stumble across. Thankfully, Jennifer stumbled across my blog and has been reading it for a while. It was nice to finally know who that reader from London, Ontario, Canada, is I've been seeing in my stats. Jennifer's photography is gorgeous! Of course, I was partial to the newborn twins photo, but her florals are also incredible. She shares: "I have been photographing professionally since 1996, but I've been taking pictures since childhood. My work covers a broad range of categories, from shopping carts to gerbera daisies, but I always focus on the details of life."

"I am constantly inspired by the world around me and I use photography to search for simplicity and meaning in the beauty of the everyday. I live and work in London, Ontario, and when I’m not photographing I can be found tending my urban vegetable garden." Jennifer contacted me after reading my post in which I talked about my struggles with photographing my jewelry and gave me some good pointers. Thanks again, Jennifer! You can check out Jennifer's work on her website here and in her Etsy store here.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

When You Can't Paint, Shoot!

I'll readily admit to never being very talented with a paintbrush (though, of course, that won't stop me from trying as evidenced by the collection of painted birdhouses that peek out from the greenery on top of my kitchen cabinets...yep, painted every one of them), but I've always been pretty good with a camera. So if you take a nice picture and then play around with it in Adobe Photoshop, you can get some pretty fun results. I took this photo of some wild azaleas while I was on my little excusion in Havana a few weeks back and turned it into a "painting" using Photoshop. This could be addicting. Click on the picture to enlarge for the full effect.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Funny Where Inspiration Strikes

If you’ve been reading recently, you know I’ve been feeling puny battling pneumonia. In the middle of all my lovely coughing fits, I had to take my students to our end-of-the-year leadership awards banquet over in Wakulla Springs last Friday and Saturday; Wakulla’s about 3 ½ hours from home. I hung out with the students as long as I could Friday evening before hitting the hay, but managed to get a late checkout and stay cooped up in my room Saturday morning while the students went on their hiking excursion. Didn’t think I was up for that. I recently discovered Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, and once I found my first copy I had to immediately order the “back issue bundle” to get caught up. Love it! It combines two of my favorite things—paper and fabric—with great detail and instructions on projects (yes, I realize this has nothing to do with jewelry design, but sometimes I just have to try other things). That morning I was reading a story about artist Frances Pickering, drooling over the pictures of her work while looking out the window of my room, when I had a very strong flashback. I remembered that I used to be able to draw! And pretty decently!

When I was in 10th grade, I got very sick with a virus called Quincy. While DH and I were visiting the DC area and toured Mount Vernon way back in 1992, I learned that is the same virus George Washington died of, so at least I had a famous historical connection for my misery. Anywho, while I was dealing with that, I also had tonsillitis and needed to have my tonsils removed, but that couldn’t be done until the virus was gone, so to make a long story short, I ended up stuck in the hospital for about three weeks. To keep me entertained, my mom brought me a sketch book and some nice pencils. Luckily I had a room facing the river and Memorial Park (this was the old Riverside Hospital for those in you in Jacksonville), so for three weeks, I sketched the scenes outside my window. Lots of scenes of trees and flowers, street scenes with cars going by, the buildings around me, etc. Then I remembered that I took two drawing classes my first year in college. Since my first two years of college were on the very same campus I now work, I pulled up my old records and, lo and behold, I got an “A” and “B” in those classes. I must have done okay but I don’t think I’ve drawn anything more than a chalk mermaid on the side porch since! This has now inspired me. I’ve been carrying my camera around more (took a photography class in college, too, and a clothing construction class—are you seeing trend here?) and so now I’m going to attempt to carry around a little sketch book and some pencils with me most times to see if I get further inspired. Maybe I can do something with them… We’ll see what happens!

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Sometimes When You're Feeling Puny...

...is that really a word? puny? I put on my big girl shoes Friday while posting Free Bling, but the touch of flu I mentioned Wednesday turned out to be walking pneumonia by the time I broke down and went to the doctor Thursday. And I still had to take my students to a leadership awards banquet Friday and Saturday in Wakulla Springs. That required I put on my SUPER big girl shoes. More on that later. So when I got home today, I decided to just kick back on the couch and let the girls do my hair for me. They did such a fabulous job, I thought I'd share with it you.

Nothing like your daughters doing your hair, followed by some funny faces trying to entertain them with the camera (if you want the full effect, feel free to click on the photos to enlarge)...

...to bring out a happy face and try to forget you feel like something the dog left in the backyard in that special place by the back fence. If you can't laugh at yourself, you aren't allowed to laugh at anyone else.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Free Bling Friday Number 41!

It's time for Free Bling Friday!Congratulations to Free Bling Friday Number 4o winner, Deborah M. from Jacksonville, FL. This week, I have one of my brand new pairs. These lampwork beads remind me of a Dreamsicle popsicle. You know the ones I'm talking about? Vanilla ice cream in the middle with a orange candy coating? I can never find them anymore. Anywho, these are petite little gems, accented with Swarovski crystals and hanging just an inch or so on sterling silver posts. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, April 24, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn Friday, April 25. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cyndia Reddish's Black Water Siren Studio

I speak from experience when I say photos of Cyndia Reddish’s jewelry do not do it justice! I’ve already shared with you my struggles in photographing my jewelry. I stumbled upon Cyndia’s jewelry searching for starfish and instantly fell in love. I ordered these and they arrived in my mailbox today. Absolutely stunning! Far prettier than even the picture shows. I have my eye on another piece I will be sharing with DH as a hint for Mother’s Day. From Cyndia’s bio…."In business since 1989, Black Water Siren Studio is located just ten miles east of the Sapphire Mountains and thirty miles south of the Garnet range in Montana, the Treasure State. Cyndia Reddish is a self-taught jewelry designer working primarily in gem embellished sterling silver and 14k gold. Jewelry has been a life-long passion for Cyndia. Her earliest memories are of a large box of her mother's costume jewelry, which she would spend hours taking apart and redesigning as a young child. She has been designing jewelry ever since, drawing her inspiration from personal experience and intuitive talent.” Check out Cyndia's Etsy store here and her website here.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Lilly Cat Design Studio

Happy Wednesday! I've been under the weather with a nasty flu bug this week but I’m starting to feel somewhat human today. I think I’ve slept more in the last three days than I have in the whole week prior… Been hard to keep the girls at a distance so they don’t get sick, but I imagine one of them was the carrier who brought it to me. I’ve never quite understood why every little illness they get, I get ten times over…. Anywho, Trish Pfeiffer is a mom friend of mine and one of my customers I met while I was down at the Bartow Bloomin’ Arts Festival last month. As Trish shared with me, your life definitely changes when you have children! When her children were born, she couldn’t take enough pictures and ended up with shoebox after shoebox of snapshots. I can relate. She decided to go back to school to earn a degree in Graphic Design and now does some very cool things with digitally altered photographs. From a simple photograph, she creates unique graphically stylized portraits, creating “a playground of possibilities, from composition to color, texture and mounting”. I’ve been trying to decide which picture I want to send her of my girls…very hard to decide, so I may have to choose two! Take a look at her website for lots of examples of her work. I’m sure you have a photo you’d like to send her! She does pet portraits too!

Gorgeous day to be home with the flu so I think I'll go take a nap on the back porch swing with Isabelle. Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Sweet Smelling Spring Greens

So take a look at this little gem. Dress... sculpture... soap? Yes, soap! My mailbox greeted me with the most wonderful smell of handmade soap earlier this week. I purchased some mint chocolate chip soap—my favorite ice cream, so I figured I’d like the soap just the same—from Gini Farnham’s Soap Kitchen. And I have to admit, after I showered with it, I had a strong craving for Blue Bell Mint Chocolate Chip. Such a wonderful person, Gini is! We found each other on iCraft. I was on the featured products page; she was on the new items listed page. Got to talking and we have kids near the same age. In my order, Gini included a peach bar as well as lego shaped soaps for the girls, but I must say I’ve never seen soap in the shape of a dress… Very original! Check out all of Gini’s sweet smelling offerings here.

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

New Pieces Coming Soon!

I’m on Spring Break this week, so I’ve been enjoying my week off. Today I’ve been playing with my jewelry photography…which I admit, of all the aspects of designing jewelry, the one thing I hate the most is photographing it. I’ve been trying to find that magic combination that gives just the right amount of sparkle and pop…it’s very elusive! Today I took my pictures outside on my side porch. It’s in the shade so I got indirect natural sunlight. It was a little cloudy, so I might do better on a bright sunny day, but I do think I like these better than taking the photos in my little table top light studio. Nice breeze, birds chirping, and Isabelle certainly enjoys me being outside with her. I call this piece Atlantis. It’ll be on the website in the next day or two! Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Springtime Morning’s Blossoms

I always enjoy participating in Springtime Tallahassee, and this year, the 40th annual, was no exception. My friend Patty went with me and did very well! It was her first Springtime, so I was really excited for her. This trip was made all the more enjoyable due to some added play time around the show. I was there Wednesday and Thursday for legislative meetings and after my Thursday afternoon meetings finished up, I met a friend for my favorite Barnaby’s pizza and beer, and then met up with another group of friends a little later. With twin 4 ½ year olds, it’s very rare Mama gets a night out with friends! I still made it back to the hotel before my coach turned into a pumpkin though!

On Friday, I had an early lunch with another friend (yes, I have a lot of friends in Tallahassee!) and then spent the afternoon poking around Havana, which is a cute little town just north of Tallahassee with great little antique shops and a couple nice art and fine craft galleries. I took my camera with me and played around with a few shots. Starting to get back into photography a little more. I was really happy with these two. I may even list them in my Etsy store! Let me know what you think. Morning glories, I believe? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lovely Front Page Find

I really liked the Etsy front page this morning, so I took a screen shot of it to share with you. Aren’t these such pretty colors? Oh to be featured on Etsy's front page…maybe one of these days. Until then, I’ll just admire all the little treasures it leads me to. This page led me to a lovely little “flutter pony”. The girls have been all about butterfly fairies lately, thanks to good old Barbie Mariposa, so I thought the flutter pony was a nice change of pace. It's from "foundling... new things made from old things" and is made of fabric and collage prints. Check it out here! Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website.