Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas from Cambria Pines by the Sea

Cambria seems alot like Brigadoon to me. My grandparents wanted to move here in the forties, when they were nearly giving land away to draw settlers, but work was scarce, so grandpa, a fine carpenter, chose Santa Barbara instead.

Driving the three hours up from Santa Barabara to visit here as a teenager, I liked the way the terrain changed slowly from benign to dramatic. The pine stands start in the hills and are thick all the way down to the sea. I thought then it would be wonderful to live in such a natural and unspoilt place, and it is. Its a constant joy to be happy where you live. I've lived in other places, and some were , well, dispiriting. But I'm not naming names.

And rocks jut up from the ocean floor, like this one, in Morro Bay

Downtown with its streets unusally filled with cars for Christmas shopping. See the pines in the background?

Its still a thrill to see deer graze right across the street from our house. Once a baby fawn came to our door.

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. Thank you for visiting this past year. I hope your Christmas is loving and beautiful in your very own Brigadoon.


Beautiful necklace by Nina Bagley
and the olive tree and redwood branches from the garden of my best friend, Kary

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Shy, not sly

In 1650, an Englishman, Robert Brooke, imported twenty four red foxes from Britain. They came by ship to America. Most of them escaped into the woods where the horses could not fit through the thick stands of birch and oak. Today, they range all over the U.S., why I've even seen one or two in my neighborhood. You have to be very still around them, however. They dart away at the slightest gesture.
Some countries consider the fox the deity of farming. They repress the mice population, its true, but extra precaution must be taken to keep them from loitering around the henhouse. A fox necklace is pictured here, with an old calico button, and a venetian trade bead, and strung on Irish Linen tread.

Foxes use the same den for many generations. They like to remodel and expand on deserted homes of badgers, and stoats. Often they add long secret tunnels, leading to pantrys and secret storerooms.

A fox weighs about twelve pounds, it comes as rather a shock to see their consumption of pie. This one is president of the Mince Pie Society.
Its best not to inquire into too much detail concerning the ingredients of said pie.

Here is the Christmas ornament from last week, dried , fired and painted. Oh, and if on some crisp night you hear three successive short yips, it might be you've been lucky enough to hear the "lost call" of the red fox. Listen carefully when you turn out the lights tonight......

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Woodland Christmas

Trek a ways to the North,
At the White Oak, turn East.
On to a dell, then through the Pine wood,
and there you'll find the Feast.

Squirrel ages apple cider, and there is a roomy teakettle, so everyone has plenty.
Mouse leaves her house and brings plum pudding

Hedgehog brews the finest punch, with essense of rose hip and elder flowers

Fox procures a goose egg. Let's hope he asked for permission to take it, like a gentleman.

Rabbit finds the perfect tree.

Barn Owl leads everyone in carols. 'The Friendly Beasts' is a crowd favorite.

See you there at three o'clock sharp. Bring more candles, if you please.

The ornaments start out small, about two inches tall, somehow though, they start to come out larger. This fox, made on Thanksgiving morning, will need a substantial branch on the fir tree.

He's almost four inches long!

See you at the party



Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pottery adornments

I think of these necklaces as good omens. I paint things that bring good luck or happiness.
A rare green bird, a rabbit leaping through a meadow, or a home on a hill with a fireplace crackling inside. And its all because of a special linen thread, dipped in beeswax and imported from Ireland. Once I held it, and began stringing odd buttons and faience beads onto it, I was a goner. That led to finding the right glass beads, subtle colors with alot of emphasis on green.
The cottage necklace. A house shaped bead, accented with an old calico button, a heart painted to look like old crockery and a bee buzzing close by. The clasp is artisan sterling. It hits, this necklace, right above your heart.

A simpler version, with a scalloped heart, and glass accent beads.

This is a bracelet, and its definately a statement piece, because its big. Maybe to be worn with a a whopper of a hand knit sweater. I'm using the 'S' hooks for the necklaces, but for this , I've strung it on wire because it seemed imperative to put the green pearls inbetween the beads. So I'm researching for the best clasp. You see, I'm a potter, not a jeweler, and this whole experience has made me appreciate authentic adornmanet makers like Nina Bagley. For a treat, look thru her sold items at her Etsy store. Things that look like they were worn by heronines and divinities.

A rabbit has stoppped to watch you inbetween his leaps thru a neighboring meadow.
All these necklaces will find their way to my Etsy store.
One week until Thanksgiving! I hope yours is joyful.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bird party

All the lovely ladies waited patiently in line until they heard the shop bell ring, and Bonnie opened the door and welcomed them inside. The annual Christmas party then began.The name of Bonnie's shop is Bird's of a Feather, but everyone I know calls it 'Birds'. Full of antiques, books and craft, its as warm and charming as I hope these pictures show. It was wonderful to see friends there, like Dana, Barbara and Jana. And Marsha, those brown sugar cupcakes you made were delicious. I brought one home to Kim and he's dropping hints right and left about me wheedling that recipe out of you.
I even made a special necklace to go with my outfit. Remember the bits of pottery in my studio?
I added some new ones, found beads that reminded me of bird's eggs, and made some faience beads painted like shards of old transferware.

Ready to string on waxed linen thread, a new rabbit necklace.

I always drift to this cupboard at Birds. Full of old Children's books and herds of tiny animals.

My pottery was lucky enough to be represented at the show. Here is a cake topper, with slots for candles and animals marching in a circle singing happy birthday.

I thought I heard this black and white cow moo my name several times.

A collection of socks, stripey and othewise.

Bonnie carries these beautiful felt purses by Cindy Ferris. They are light and just the right size for a checkbook, lipstick and a little phone. This one flew home with me. What do you think, Liz? These remind me of you.
If you are in Cambria, do stop by. Birds is on 2020 Main Street in the old Creamery Building.
and there is a website too.

I promised a better picture of this bracelet by Pamela at Thatch and Burrow.
So here is Eve in the Garden. Isn't it something?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Portrait of a Badger

There is a crick in my neck because I've had my head down making and storing, like the badger here. I'd practically finished everything for two shows in November, so Thursday was set aside for painting and making new pieces for my lately neglected Etsy shop.
But I woke up Thursday thinking uh oh, feeling a bit low. Was it the dreaded Pork Pie Flu?
So I slogged around the house, in a blue checkered nightie, peachy striped socks and two different flowered tee shirts. Oh, and hair that looked even worse than when I'd just alighted from the Tilt-o-World at the County Fair. Then this morning, things were different. I felt like I could paint a comittee of badgers, and make them supper too. I think it was the chicken stock I had for dinner and the fresh fruit. And maybe a little bit was the antibiotic the Dr. gave me.

The badger joins the rabbit, who dreams of living in a house by the sea. A house with many windows. All the animals are members of the Ambleside Association for the protection of the countryside, hedgerows, dells , and woodland.

It felt awfully swell to go out to my studio with real clothes. Although I still think the hair needs work.

And I even came up with an idea for all these pieces of my broken pottery which involves drill bits and waxed linen thread.

New pieces in the works for my little store with the always open sign freshly washed and the door knocker polished.
That bracelet is by the talented Pamela of Thatch and Burrow
i promise a better picture of this lovely piece soon.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Where I work

As I step into my studio, this is what I see to my left. Its where my animal busts live until they migrate to a show or to Etsy. This week I have new members of the Association. There's a pricklepin, a wood mouse and a barn owl.

I found most of these old cabinet card frames on Etsy. They make nice windows for the animals to look through.

This is my desk and usually its loaded with clay plates and cups in various stages of drying, but I cleaned it off so you 'll think I'm tidy and diligent. (don't be fooled)

My inspiration board for fall. The photo of the sleeping doll with the stuffed animals waiting for her to wake up is the work of Rekecka Ryberg Skott. Her work is imaginative and always tells a story, plus her sense of color is wonderful.

This moblie is something new I am working on. Different small clay components, with beads, and even some sewing. All strung on waxed linen thread. I call them 'Good Omens'. That
piece of art in the background is by Cathy Cullis. I always ask for a piece of her work for my birthday from my husband, and as I write this, I think my newest gift should be flying over Maine about now.

my pottery tools

In the nineties, I owned a shop here in Cambria. Finnie McClure. I sold some antiques, old books, and things I made. But twice a week after closing I would drive to attend my pottery class. And soon, I couldn't think of anything but a life in clay. Still, i loved my little shop. This chalkboard hung right by the front door, and now it hangs in my studio. The words and colors are a little faded, but i won't erase it because I like the sentiment.

So there's more but isn't that enough of a tour for today? While i have your attention, I want to thank you for your comments, support and encouragment. Means the world..........



Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's 3 o'clock Somewhere

A teapot has always reminded me of a house. There's the lid for a roof, and the spout is the chimney. The handle, the trunk of the tree that shades the house in summer. And inside, life-affirming tea. This is my first teapot in awhile, and its slab built with a scalloped crown and seam up the side. The Tea loving lady on the front holds a red polka dotted cup in one hand and a forget me not in the other. A bee buzzes at the top of the handle. And dears, this teapot holds a generous amount of your choice of rose hip, mint or Earl Grey.

Tea that helps the head and heart
Tea medicates most every part
Tea rejuvinates the very old
and warms the hands of those who're cold
Jonker of Amsterdam. 1676
Reclusive, ellusive,
wandering nightly,
unprickle the charms
you've rolled up so tightly.
This domed piece could hold a nice stack of shortbread. That's what always brings oohs and aahs here at the treehouse. The base of the dome is made to look like a tree trunk, adorned with woodland plants and bugs. The top has Mr. Pricklepin for a pull.
Here's my shortbread recipie:
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut in 1/2" pieces
1/2 t. vanilla
2 C. flour**
Mix sugar and salt, and cut in butter with pastry cutter or food processor til smooth.
Add flour and blend til crumbly. Roll in ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1/2 hour
Preheat oven to 250 degrees
Divide dough in half and press each half in a 9 inch diameter pie plate., score the top into wedges and add fork tine marks if you like.
Bake 30 minutes. Rotate, and bake another 20-30 minutes longer, until pale golden.
Cool in pie plate at least ten minutes. Remove and cut into wedges.
Now for chocolate adoring personages, melt 1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips in a pan resting in a pan of simmering water, (so the chocolate doesnt' get nasty and burnt) add 2T. cream and blend. Dip the tip of the shortbread wedge in the melted chocolate.
**I've read that if you substitue 1/2 c. cornstarch for the Flour , in other words,
1 1/2 c. flour and 1/2 c. cornstarch, it makes a very flakey cookie. I'm going to try it next time
and I'll report back on the results.
Don't forget, Jacques and Julia are on PBS today at 4:30 PST