Monday, July 27, 2009

Hong Kong Chronicles: Just a little warning of some quiet time...

1) I will have a lot going on the next month with visitors coming and going

2) I have some custom orders and a wedding gift

3) I'm still trying to figure out how to program my new kiln. I had this one in the States and had a 220-volt one sent to me...after a false start with the wrong adapter, I now have the right adapter and need to play with the programming a little more

4) There is a possibility I may postpone my August newsletter since time is so short, or it may be late if I can squeeze it in, or I may repeat my July theme since it's one of my favorites...not sure quite what to do with a tight timeframe.

5) I have started another website project that will be taking a little bit of time (not too much at first, maybe more in September once I get settled and thing calm down)

6) And a possible move from my beautiful home on Lantau. Don't worry though, I'm picking out a good spot on Hong Kong Island. This is one of the potential flats and the view it has. I will try to get a movie of my current flat before I leave it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hong Kong Chronicles: Rhythm and Music


I’ve been walking and dancing, swinging and singing to a Western rhythm. I’ve been conditioned by the music of the U.S. Midwest…snow falling, rustling autumn leaves, quick summers…a little less than half of my life in Wisconsin. Yes. Sometimes that includes the obligatory polka or two (or twelve) at weddings, ya’ know. I bopped a little south for a few years and landed in an area trapped between Midwestern rhythm and Southern music (Southern Indiana). Eventually I two-stepped my way all the way south to the American Southwest in Texas.

With each sidle east to west or sachet north to south, you fine tune the instrument of you. It’s still the same song, same symphony, same swing dance, same ballet.

Making your music work with the new music sometimes means learning the melody a little different or singing a different part of the harmony. Sometimes it starts off with discordant notes.
Making your rhythm work with the new rhythm sometimes means learning a more complicated step or a different dance. Sometimes you have to change to an 8-count Lindy Hop instead of a 6-count West Coast swing. Sometimes it involves toes being stepped on, an elbow to the ribs, or a smack in the forehead. (Did the 90’s swing craze and inflicted all three on my poor partners.)

Moving to a new country means a different symphony and a new rhythm. At the beginning your music is raucously discordant and your rhythm is hopelessly out of sync.
With time, the sheer brute force of repetition can bring your rhythm into sync and your music into harmony. You can sometimes add a brand new layer to the melody of your new home.
In the US, northern life is quick-quick-quick. You talk fast, walk fast, and generally run to keep warm. In the South, it’s slow---slow---slow....... It’s h-o-t, so you drawl y’all’s words and generally mosey. (For all y’all in Dallas or Houston, I’m not including driving in this analogy.) Eastern rhythm in Hong Kong has a quick-slow element. It’s the city (quick) and it’s hot (slow).

I’ve started walking to the rhythm here. When I first arrived, I felt like I was playing "Constant Chicken" because I was walking to a Western rhythm. Driving is on the left side of road. Riding my bike is generally left-sided (but random). And walking is thoroughly random. Sometimes everyone walks left. Sometimes everyone walks right.

I’ve started riding my bike to the rhythm.

But, I have brought my own theme song.

I have a granny-style bike.

It sometimes includes a doggy in the basket.

If I painted the dog and the bike black, would it rosin up your bow for the theme song?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Studio Time: Desert Dusk

Mixing things up...silver, copper, glass...

Desert dusk is all about surprises
You didn't realize the desert was so beautiful at night
You didn't realize the stars shined so brightly
A Joshua tree captured in silhouette
Sand dunes in the middle of Texas
A yellow sand daisy and lilly
Mountains in dusky relief
Scrambling a cliff to capture the sun setting
Missing it and still treasuring the experience

Intense quietness

Deep "be-ing-ness"

My Southwestern desert experiences remind me of this piece. Unexpected. Surprising. And delighting.

I had the opportunity to experience the Joshua Tree National Park near Palm Springs...I drove to it and tried to capture the sunset...and missed it...but the relief of Joshua trees aginst the dusky night sky was even better than the actual sunset. Then, I decided to take the road less traveled and reveled in almost touching the starry night sky in an area unsullied by the pollution of must to experience this some day...

People almost never treasure where they grow up. I'm even one of them. I don't dislike where I grew up...Wisconsin is beautiful. I have an Inspiration Challenge for September devoted to it. But, I'm one of those rolling stones who adores new experiences.
For me, it's not just about travel.
Travel is capturing a snip of time.
I love living in a place. I need to experience, drink, eat, absorb, and breathe the culture and the people. I love that I've lived in Hong Kong for 8 months already.
We took a roomie road trip out to west Texas. It's a mind-numbing 10-hour drive for a native's an awe-inspiring trip for the unitiated. Did you know there are sand dunes in Texas? For real! Monahans. I love surprises like these...

That's why these beads are Desert's all about the surprises...the pleasant kind. I mixed red, chocolate, turquoise and transparent aqua. The red and brown were actually quite close in color...but the pleasing end was a subtle gradient of colors...reminding me of the desert.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hong Kong Chronicles: Molly the Hot Dog

Took Molly to the Mui Wo waterfall, which is running better with all the rain. I waded into a little pool and Molly followed me into the water. !! I was quite surprised, but I find we have bonded ever more here in Hong Kong. She loves other people and other dogs, but when she's done greeting people, she's happy to cuddle up on my lap or follow me around. This is Miss Independent who is usually on Molly Missions. She has learned more secrets of Melting My Heart.

Then Molly just sits down in the water. Much like when I used to give her a bath with Bijou.

This is the pavilion that is the little "Bijou Memorial" for me. It reminds me of Texas. I had hiked up here a few times before Molly & Bijou were supposed to come and I was thinking how they would enjoy the walk up here. I thoroughly enjoy the view.

The stunning view of Silvermine Bay from the hill near the now closed Silver Mine.

You can see why I love this island!

Silvermine Beach...

It's nice to a have a few sunny days that shine a spectacular light on the beauty that can be found in Hong Kong. When I first visited here, it was a beauty I completely did not expect. I knew Hong Kong was on water, but the mountains were a huge and hugely pleasant surprise. It's one of the main reasons I enjoy Hong Kong.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Studio Time: Classic Lariat with Glass Beads

I think this is a design keeper. I love this necklace. It gets rave reviews when I wear it. It's fun and bright and incorporates my absolutely favorite color combination of turquoise (light and dark) and green. (I am planning on keeping this one for myself, but if you're interested in it, let me know. I can always make myself a new one.)

I have to admit my influence for this design. It's from the movie, Something's Gotta Give. Do you remember the scene when the Diane Keaton character went on her first date with the Keanu Reeves character? She was wearing a sizzling hot, classic, little black dress. She looked fabulous. And she wore a little black necklace that drew my eye immediately. I think what's amazing about this design is that it drew my eye and this was four years before I began even considering making jewelry myself. I looked it up and it's a Brook Jasmine lasso.

My version is a long lariat style that could be worn looped on the neck for a shorter necklace or tied as a long necklace.

A bit western

A great piece for everyday wear.

Complementary earrings.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Studio Time: Sedona Lariat

The part of Southwest style that really appeals to me is the organic, uncluttered, clean look and feel it has. As I meander along this journey of making glass beads and jewelry, I feel like I started with crazy, vibrant, and...ahem...cluttered jewelry. I'm trying to learn the lesson that "less is more."

Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't.

My last home in Texas was decorated in southwest style and I went through a year-long process of getting rid of things. When my house was finally ready for showing, I had a really limited set of furniture and I learned how to make it look to must have worked. My house sold in a month. In a bad economy. But, the point of this story is that at beginning, I had a lot of "stuff" and was more cluttered than I realized.

I've brought that lesson with me to Hong Kong where everything is shrunken in scale (especially relative to Texas). 700 sq feet is HUGE here. There are apartments, 500 sq feet in size, where they fit 3 (yes, that's three) bedrooms in that space. Don't ask me how. My mind still can't wrap itself around that concept. People asked if I was going to bring my furniture to Hong Kong. I checked into shipping, but decided against it (even though the cost would have been equivalent of buying new furniture here), because the furniture in the US doesn't fit the scale of the HK apartment. I notice homes that are furnished with western style and size furniture here in HK feel more cluttered. I've furnished with furniture built locally (or in China) and it fits and makes my smaller apartment feel more roomy. I've really tried hard not to buy too much stuff. I still probably can get rid of some things. (After all, I moved with 2 suitcases.)

Anyway, the whole point of all that blathering about clutter is that sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't. And Southwest style is sometimes clean and uncluttered, sometimes not. And sometimes in between. That's what this piece Sedona Lariat, feels like to me...somewhere in between cluttered and clean...but interesting, nevertheless. Just like the woman who should wear this necklace.

The Sedona Lariat fits a woman who is a study in contrasts.
She's urban and refined.
She's a cowgirl at heart who happens to love and live in the city.
Sometimes she's classic.
Sometimes she's western and earthy.
Sometimes dressed up.
Sometimes casual.
The girl who can go hiking in the mountains for 3 days.
The girl who can wear heels and a little black dress to a wedding.
comprised of
Twisted silver rings in varying sizes on one side of the neck
A stout leather cord on the other side
Finished off in a cluster of Sedona glass beads in vibrant reds and light and dark turquoise

As I've matured, I've turned into a person that likes options. I'm starting to create necklaces that give options, like this one. The lariat style gives you many wearing options which lets you wear it with different styles of shirts with varying necklines. This can be worn at a conventional length by connecting the clasp to the bottom loop. It can be worn as a choker by clasping it around the neck. Then it makes the remaining length a daring waterfall of a drop.

I could see this being worn with a gray, classic suit, with a plain turquoise, light blue or red top underneath the jacket. Then, swap the suit for a jean jacket and khakis or a leather jacket and jeans and you're ready for a casual evening.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Studio Time: Sedona Ranch Necklace

This piece has been waiting in the wings for over a month. It's adorable. I love it for the connection it makes me feel to the Southwest U.S. And yet, as I offer it here, I realize I've grown in my skill. I see little bits and pieces that I've already learned to do better. But, I think it's a beginning of a foundation of my style that is evolving and growing and it makes me quite excited.

For a saucy cowgirl...laid back at Sedona Ranch...swirls of light and dark turquoise mixed with deep Sangre reds, evoking the, colorful hues in a swirled floral disk on twisted sterling silver wire hanging from a stout cord of leather.

The leather is unfinished and meant to be tied off at the back to vary the wearing length according to whim. All glass beads are hand-made by me and properly annealed in a digitally controlled kiln.

A Marketing Lesson: I recently had some of my friends stay with me. They saw my pile of jewelry and I started talking about glass, jewelry, and silver. Simply explaining the process of how to make glass beads was actually fun. I have a bunch of jewelry I had made before I was able to get my lampwork station setup. However, when I offered each one a gift, they wanted the one with the glass beads I made. Here in HK, beads and findings are can pick up jewelry very cheaply...but the lampwork and handmade glass is less common, and therefore, more special. The marketing lesson: art becomes important when it has a very personal connection to the artist. Jewelry is common. You can buy that at a store. A connection to the heart and the ideas of a piece gives meaning and connection. It moves beyond a piece of jewelry. When you create that personal connection, it becomes a piece of art with personal meaning...whether it's with the artist who created it, or because it evokes a sense of feeling and being that the art wearer wants to feel with that piece.

Urban Primrose got tweaked and sent off as a gift to one of my old fact, she's the roommate who inspired my "urban" theme. She had requested silver with clear beads. It took me awhile to finally do some clear beads...I did faceted beads and a tiny floral. Photos can't capture the light refraction, but it is very dreamy. I like it better than the original...

I wish I could afford to give all of my jewelry away...but I can't...

Note: I'm on a lampwork hiatus due to the untimely demise of my kiln. May it rest in peace. (I put that little machine to work! I think it got tired.) So, I need to order a new kiln. I had all the glass laid out for the Designer's Inspiration Challenge for this month, but I'll have to keep you posted on when that will actually happen. So sorry! I finally had energy, but my kiln didn't.

Lastly but not you like the new backgrounds, blog banner, poster at the beginning of this post? Yes? I can thank Marina H. for all this work. She achieved my vision I had in mind for my Southwest theme. I have much more in mind for her in the long run. Thank you, Marina!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Studio News: It's been six months

It's been six months today since my little guy on the right, Bijou Bear, went to forever sleep. I miss him every day. Some days it aches more than others. He never lived in Hong Kong, but we had routines that included both Molly (left) and Bijou (right). He was only 10 1/2. It's just my Miss Molly Dolly right now and she gives me joy. I'm working hard to enjoy every day with her instead of dreading the day she will leave me, too.

Ok, I just had to share something along these lines that made me laugh. I's a little demented, but I have to say I understand what he's saying.

But, unlike Charlie, I still wouldn't change it. I love my puppies. They're teaching me not to focus on the anxiety of tomorrow. And I have the joy of coming home to furry cuddliness. I just wished they lived longer. Like a parrot. Or a tortoise. Or a sequoia.

I miss Bijou's shameless clumsiness and his willingness to always get snuggled. You were a funny, bright, snuggle spot in my life. Miss you, Little B, my little HunnyBear!

And to my fellow animal friends at Bijou's Whimsy and Rustic Urbanity, I'm thinking of you, too!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Studio News: Blooming in June Designer Challenge - Emerald Dragonfly

Yes, I gave a few sneak peeks in my is the full-blown version! I participted in my own designers challenge for the Blooming in June theme. (Sorry, I'm posting 3 days late! The next post will be southwesty!)

Anyway, the winners of the Designers Challenge were:

We each had one of my swirled floral disks and a set of swirled beads in different colors. We're all quite different designers, so it's fun to see what we all come up with. Both are pretty busy this summer, so they will be submitting their challenges later this month

(And...psst...we need more players! Just to let you know, I have some Southwest Theme Inspiration Challenges coming up...keep your eyes peeled!)

Emerald Dragonfly Inspiration Challenge

Florals are a comfort zone of inspiration for me. Usually, it's just been picking up on the color. I challenged myself to take it a step farther and combine the swirly request from Kristin and see if I could do floral disks. I did! My first ones were quite organic (and I think they still have loads of potential in the right piece) and I'm improving in my execution.

Swirls of many greens, a dragonfly perches on the flower

A shadow of a dragonfly...just the idea...

emerald meadows of every imaginable green
a picnic basket
a bottle of wine
some time spent talking, whispering, wondering

a dragonfly flits, perches,
a brief glimpse
and away he flies

verdant, lime, nile, emerald, petroleum, celadon

drawn together with a light chain of maille

reflections of peace, serenity, togetherness

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Artfully Meandering: Southwestern Soul

I have relocated to a place I’ve always wanted to live…Asia. As I go through culture shivers and culture shocks, I realize…I’m a Southwestern Soul. There is something about the Southwest in which I felt “at home” and “me.”

I still haven’t been able to identify exactly what it is about the Southwest that makes me feel this way. I think it's a combination of factors.

country music, southern manners, cowboy hats, cowboy boots, prairie skirts, jean jackets, longhorns, constant sunshine, big sky, wide open spaces, bluebonnets, firewheels, Indian paintbrush, poppies, turquoise, silver, armadillos, geckos, rusted farm implements, adobe homes, stone homes, leather furniture, rawhide furniture, rough-hewn Mexican furniture, cactus, town squares, desert mountains, Louis L'Amour paperbacks, ranches, oil derricks, arched adobe windows, adobe fireplaces, scraped wood flooring, scraped wood tables, punched tin, pick-up trucks, hay bales, loyalty, independence, interdependence, individuality, artistry, crepe myrtles, live oaks, mesquite, Texas barbeque, fence posts, barbed wire, horses, cattle

I have moved all over the place in the US. I love physical features about every one of those places. Whenever I moved away from those places, I missed certain physical features. I miss the food. But, what I missed most were the people. Texas is the first place where I’m not only homesick for people but I’m homesick for the place. There were definitely things I could live without—the wild thunderstorms, tornadoes, and fire ants. I could also live without the suburbs. I’ve lived all my life in suburbs save for a few years in small towns in Maine and Indiana. Small town living made me realize I really dislike the suburbs...they are so anonymous.

Something I think I like about Texas is the culmination of the culture and the place. Southern courtesy is rampant—every man allows a woman on the elevator first or opens a door for a woman. It’s really inefficient, but it’s oh so nice to be treated politely. I love and adore Southwestern style…the eclectic mix of modern and old, organic and urban. In particular, the sensibility of southwestern style that appeals to me is the hand-textured, simple, clean, and uncluttered aesthetic.

Although I mentioned I don't care for suburbs, I have to admit, that living in a suburb of a large city provided access to the broad range of people I was able to get to know. There is a certain independence and interdependence that seems part of the culture. I have a diverse set of friends: some who are farmers, some who raise longhorn cattle, some who have a little land for their horses and dog, and some who are the ultimate urbanites. And the artists! Tucked into this anonymous suburb are writers, playrights, actors, painters, graphic artists, jewelry artists, woodworkers, musicians, soap-makers, seamstresses, photographers, poets, to name a few. The people who I have the privilege to call my friends are the best part of Texas for me—fiercely loyal, independent, individual people who are themselves. I have friends who represent almost everything that is “me.” I’ve made some really wonderful friends in Texas. Texas is also where I learned who I was, where I didn't feel afraid to be my genuine self, and released my creative self to explore with happy permission. I’m still not brave enough to be myself at all times. So, that’s why I think I have a special affinity to the place that is Texas …it's the place where I’ve become comfortable with who I am.

So, this month is for enjoying my happy memories of my previous home in the Southwestern United States...Texas.

Post Script: Just in case you’re worried about me living in Hong Kong, I’m a glass half full person and tend to live on the positive side of life. I have learned the joy of blooming where I am planted. Yes, the culture shivers and shocks put little dents in the tender little roots of establishment I'm putting down. But I'm a stubborn plant that overcomes transplant trauma to become hardy, well-rooted foliage. (Sometimes I need to say that last point out loud to remind myself...but, I am. I'm a Southwestern Soul who lives in Asia.)

And one more thing: thank you to Marina H. for helping me with my Southwestern Soul theme this month. She did a poster for the Noisy Plume as a result of Nancy McKay's blog party...and well, I just had to commission to create my version...isn't it COOL!