Monday, June 30, 2014

Casa Mariposa

I don't know what it took me so long…I've vowed to do this every summer and haven't followed through until this fall when I started collecting native milkweed plants. The plant pictured above is not our native but a native to tropical Africa (Asclepias Curassavica) it's a pretty plant and it seems to be visited by a host of pollinators, it also grows redily in our climate but I'm always strongly on the side of planting native species, particularly if you are planting weeds being that some plants can easily escape their boundaries and become invasive, crowding out the things that should be growing then becoming a problem so you might want to do a little research. I think this one needs too much water to get a foothold but I will most likely just remove them when the season is over.

We all know by now, the Monarch Butterflies are in trouble and I'm not going to go into a Debbie Downer litany here, I'm only going to say, if you plant the weed, they will come…..

and you will enjoy visiting your own project,

and taking a count each day of how many hungry caterpillars are munching away and you may even glimpse the "King of butterflies" (though it will be the queen) flitting about, laying eggs for a new batch.

*Even if milkweed abounds in the ditches where you are, you might want to invite some to live close to you so you can keep watch at the lovely summer events taking place.

I started growing butterflies in my studio, I'm having a blast making them and a moth, a bit of silver entomology …… now just what to do with them……brooch, pendant, ring?

Many hours later, one pretty cuff with three insects to go..

Who know's what will be next?

Flitting in the wind, Ro

Friday, June 27, 2014

San Francisco

Last week I took an impromptu trip to San Francisco. My girlfriend called and told me she wanted to go visit her grandson and family and I asked who she was going with. "I'm calling to see if you want to go?" "Okay when?" "Tomorrow" she relied……ah okay. So I quickly tied up loose ends and we met to figure out just which mode of transportation to take…

 We opted on the train up California's central valley where all your nuts are grown, ( pun intended) hour after hour of pecans, walnuts, pistachios wizzed by.

I have to say I loved taking the train, I read and slept and looked out the window at the dry hillsides…

 and sometimes bodies of water so large it felt like we were on a ship. I looked in the ditches at the blackbirds and marsh birds, herons and egrets as we clickty clacked our way north.

We stayed in a comfortable Victorian apartment three stories up and off the main street,

 where it was surprisingly quiet just about a block away from the hustle and bustle.

We stayed in the Mission District so naturally we visited The mission. This one is called The Mission San Francisco de Asis, but is mostly referred to as the Mission Dolores.

This mission was the 6th in the chain of California missions, founded in 1776 by Father Serra.
As with all California missions, it is Spanish in style, having been the decision by the King of Spain at the time to build them and civilize the native people. grumble, grumble  All politics aside, the missions are beautiful, I'm sure their *mission was sincere but I can't get over how we forced ourselves on this country.

I happen to be reading Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder by Kent Nerburn. If you haven't read it you might want to, it's very interesting and enlightening.

I love this statue of Father Serra  out in the garden/cemetery, really the most sincere part of the mission. He looks reflective, a pose perfectly in tune with the setting.

A pirate perhaps!

Next stop Golden Gate Park and the Conservatory of Flowers an amazing Victorian, wooden greenhouse with an absolutely stunning array of tropical plants.

Hundreds of, orchids in every form and color colud be discovered hanging, trailing and clinging…

in a most artful and beautifully arranged display.

Strange and VERY strange plants stared out from every crevice and corner.

Carnivorous pitcher plants, just waiting to close their traps..

Some kind of death flower, I can't remember if it was an orchid…..these oddities abounded, I loved this place, the collection was remarkable.

bromeliads, tillandsias, waterlilies ferns

Hanging pitchers…. The plants are cup shaped to collect water and detritus in order to lure their prey. One of them had a sticky sweet  substance around the rim that looked like mildew to attract small birds who liked to eat it, the bird subsequently eliminated in the cup and the plant was fed. Nature never ceases to astound!

Plant ladies :)

Next stop, de Young Museum…. there was a Modernism show in the main gallery we decided to pass on it but we did go up the tower which is free and it gives a 360 degree view of the city.

I love this shot of the man who never stopped washing the windows and the little girl who never stopped adding her hand prints. He looks armed and I wondered if he wanted to spray her and just get it over with :)

The iconic bridge in the fog..

 I looked into The Japanese Tea Garden but there are so many wonderful gardens to explore it's hard to choose…..we skipped it and decided on the less formal arboretum. What an alluring tree though, if we had more time, I'm sure we would have been easily seduced!

The arboretum was wonderful, I've never seen such a collection of impatiens. It is too sunny and dry here to grow this African native that seemed completely happy growing by the bay.

We walked for hours, and it felt good, we looked at a rather rangy collection of California natives way out on the perimeter of the huge garden, the matilija poppies were about 8 feet tall, swaying and fluttering in the in the wind like Spanish dancers in ruffly, white skirts.

I spied a Night Heron hunting by the light of day….

A strange and beautiful bird that blended so well people stopped and asked what I was photographing.

He moved on the water like an automaton, ever so slowly lifting a foot closing the toes and without so much as a ripple, gently taking a step, thi chi style.

A sudden quick stab at the water and dinner!

Oh, and there was the baby, the delightful baby and his wonderful parents. We even got to babysit for a few hours one night, it was lovely!

Thank you for visiting, I'm sure many of you have visited San Fran, we had a lovely stay but it's always nice to be back home.

I visited my stone guy yesterday and I have itchy fingers, I'm looking forward to studio time! We are tending milkweed in our home garden " The Butterfly Project" as we're calling it and so far it is a booming success, more on that later.

Wishing you all a joyful summer!

Love, Ro

Friday, June 13, 2014

New Jewelries

A wagonload of jewelry is now here… yeee haw!!

xo The Constant Gardener

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Moving Forward Looking Back

I began thinking about how I got started in the field of smithing jewelry. I have always loved and worn handmade jewelry and I started way back in high school learning the craft but it requires so many tools and I wasn't ready, I still had a lot of life to live, a lot of growing up to do. I think everything began to congeal when I watched, Craft in America and saw Jan Yager work. I loved the way she made jewelry that spoke of her surroundings and her daily life. It gave me a burning desire, not to make her work but to try and say a little something about me. I, like so many have always been inspired by nature and learning how things grow in order to surround my home with beauty and inspiration inside and out. I started a long time ago teaching myself to fabricate flowers in order to embellish my stones, I used to consciously tell myself, "make something pretty today", since then I've made rugged, rough, rad, religious, and refined but it all started with little silver blooms so I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane. This is the first, a pretty garden of mallows with a lavender chalcedony, I'm walking the garden path this week and it's lovely, though I think my ladybugs have flown to the Berkley Hills too and a bird has eaten my first monarch catarpillar. It's a jungle out there!!

xo Ro

Friday, June 6, 2014

Jewelry Soup

I promised myself I would not blog about this but I'm just so tired of it I don't even feel like working. The big drawback to selling work on etsy is the constant copying. It's gotten to the point that I know if I make something interesting it will be copied before I could even make a second run on my own work. I've tried to exclude my customers and followers from this topic. I have contacted the crafters personally and asked them to stop without so much as putting any trip in their stride. I try to bring ideas that are new and fresh, ideas that are my own but I'm starting to feel defeated. Yesterday one such crafter just took a big run on my design ideas and it makes me feel like just stepping aside and letting her do my work, I feel run over. Whatever happened to respect or even the enjoyment of speaking in your own voice. Copying and plagiarizing can't really be fun, so I guess it's all about making money. I must say when I look around on etsy the jewelry just starts looking like a big unappetizing soup. I know a few talented women that just couldn't hack it any longer and moved on and I think that is tragic loss but a true artist is often sensitive and there are a lot of bullies here ( when I say here, I'm speaking of etsy), people that won't keep their nose out of the business of others and obviously have no scruples. I'm hoping by printing this it will help me purge it from my burdened mind.  A lot of advantages have been brought on by having the internet at our fingers but also disadvantages when everything becomes an ambiguous slop. I know this is a tired subject and I know it permeates every form of creativity.

I also know I didn't invent the wheel but I try to include my personal experiences along with those eureka moments while spending long hours in my studio to create my pieces. Why can't we look at someone's work that we like and feel congratulatory towards them instead of stealing from them? Imitation is NOT the highest form of flattery but the saddest form.

Sincerely Ro

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Contest Winner

The names were compiled and the winner chosen with a little help from my dear husband, the potter.

Celia Rhodes you are the winner of the Show Gift Box! Thank you everybody who participated, I always appreciate having you here. Celia please contact me with your mailing information so we can send this little show to your mailbox.

xo Ro

Monday, June 2, 2014

Enter to Win a Show Sampler

We had a super terrific weekend, Claremont was really buzzing, along with our show the Folk Festival was taking place where our friends Ben and Ellen Harper were performing. We had a good turn out and they did too, our little town runnith over. I want to thank those of you who stopped by, some of you I saw only too briefly, Saturday was really bustling and Sunday had a nice even pace, I met someone from etsy which is always a thrill. I was reunited with a friend I had not seen for 20 odd years, what a blast and one of my dear jewelry instructors came with her husband and someone I had met while taking a class and we vowed to go to the Pasadena Bead show in July as a little troop, that will be fun. Our studio show is a big undertaking and we are so very thankful to our families and friends who are always so gracious to help. Thank you Marc, Bryce, Katie, Mahlea, Brian and Jeanmarie, for your help, it really meant the world to us and it helped make the event proceed smoothly. I want to thank all of my etsy and Facebook friends for your cheer and also for your support the rest of the year and for your rootin tootin, shouts in these spaces!

I'm feeling the after show relief and I have to admit it feels good! I took a celebratory hike this morning with my pal Jo. I'm sure most of you have read or heard about our drought here in California. Look at the state of the hills, it looks like late summer, so parched and dry, a tinderbox for sure! So we hope, we     always hope for rain and we always hope we don't catch on fire.

I saw the MOST amazing bird this morning I think I have ever seen. I need to ask my friend Harsi about it. It looked to me like an albino bluebird. I haven't researched yet so I really have no idea. It was flying in a small flock but I was trying so hard to get a picture I really didn't have time to see what the other birds were. I didn't really get any great, clear pictures, naturally it flitted from the sun to the shade, inside the bushes and…. argh#$@! hold still!!! I think this is a sign, my white buffalo as it were, well, it made me grin from ear to ear, I'll tell you that!

I planted native milk weed for the monarch butterflies but we never really had a decent winter and the nursery at our native garden offered them later than I would have liked to plant them so they are weaklings and if you have ever grown the stuff, they are easily overrun with aphids. Yesterday as a most generous gift I received 200 ladybugs so last night I went out in my nightgown, watered everything and sprinkled them out everywhere in my garden. Today they are cleaning house…

* The dried shards are from the ladybug nesting material.
 * I collected milk weed seeds but to get them to germinate seemed like a production, wet them, dry them store in the refrigerator for bla, blah many days…..okay, that makes me feel lazy, maybe I try it sometime in the future, maybe.

but LOOK!, The first baby, chomping away at the plant.. YAYEEE… SQUEEL! I'll keep you posted!

Here's the best news, I know you wanted to come this weekend but you live way the heck over there so leave your name in the comment section and I'll enter it in a drawing to win this charming show sampler (international commenters are welcome). In your gift box you will recieve one fabulous, genuine Eric Darrow signed vase for your spring posies (flowers not included) one vintage tea towl, batiked by the talented Ms Katheryn Herrman and one sweetheart of a turquoise pendant by good ol me.
Good luck everybody!
The lucky winner will be announced later on Wednesday.

I'm hoping to add some new work onto etsy within the next few days so stay tuned :)

Cool regards, love, Ro