Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What a great day!

Yesterday. was a good day. A very good day. I accomplished some big firsts for me--learned some basic quilting skills and began a small quilt, and I jumped almost the entire beginner novice course at Loch Moy! Whoo-hoo! I am proud with a capital P :) And, I got my camera back (which Mike and I somehow misplaced at Loch Moy) which means I snapped some photos of my recent jewelry photos (see below).

My school's community is rich with artistic talent; in every grade, we have at least one parent who is an artist and/or musician. That means our halls our lavishly decorated, our silent auction is full of lovely artwork, and our students have the opportunity to learn from these working artists-parents who moonlight as after school instructors. Really, it's a great gift. One of these parents, Pam, is exceptionally talented fiber artist. She creates pieces that are whimsical and delicate, and I am a big fan. She has been kind enough to invite me into her home studio to learn the basics of quilting. It's been a goal of mine to improve my sewing and learn to quilt for, oh, about 2 years. I thought I would surely have the time this year with my more relaxed schedule. No, no. So I was delighted when Pam agreed to teach me about quilting this summer. Today I learned the basics of selecting appropriate pieces of fabric and the steps of the piecing together the smaller swatches to create squares. We are working on a log cabin quilt, and I successfully made 3 quilt squares! So cool! Hopefully we will have a finished piece at the end of our third meeting next week.

And in other things art, my time in the jewelry studio came to a close this weekend (at least until September when classes resume); it was with much resignation and the clawing of fingernails that I left! Ha! Really, I wish I could have just a few mores hours! I designed a neat piece for my artist friend, Jaclyn, but I was barely able to start it. Bummer, but I did finish the lingering pieces on my to-do list. I am very happy with how my dress piece turned out (title "primp"). I will be submitting three pieces to the art jewelry show that MICA is hosting. I am hoping that at least one of my pieces will be selected. We'll see!

Here are some photos of the work I submitted and two commissioned pieces:

My final piece "Primp" made of copper, brass, plexi glass, paper, and semi-precious stones

Close-up of "primp"

The back of "primp" with it's dainty little secrets :) I am loving adding details to the backs of my pieces!

"sprout" made of brass, copper, mesh wire, and paper

The front of "bloom" made of brass, copper, silver, and paper

The back of "bloom", again with a nice detail

Another frame piece, this one commissioned by Maria

And, finally, earrings for Megan, who has become a repeat customer :)

And finally, to cross country! My friend April and I took our ponies to Loch Moy today; their competition course is open this week for schooling. I actually had intended to work more on cantering longer sets and get more comfortable with achieving rhythm on the course. The smallest of the jumps on course (beginner novice) were still quite large for me so I had only planned on jumping a few of them. Well, we ended up jumping almost the entire course with a few novice jumps thrown in! I admit I was nervous at first (and even nearly launched myself off over the second jump), but after a bit, we really got into a groove. Caesar was a rock star, eager to jump anything and helping me achieve that aforementioned rhythm in between fences. I think he was happy that I was doing less and letting him do his job! Plus, he likes jumping bigger fences! So, I am very happy with the xc school; it's not only the hardest course we have done, but I feel I put in one of my best rides. What a good feeling!

April with Caesar and Gracie and my pal, Linn, with her pups in the foreground (thanks for being our ground person, Linn!)

Tomorrow, Mike and I are headed up to New York for the wedding of my dear friend, Beth. On Sunday we will continue on to Block Island, Rhode Island, for a mini-vacation. Should be fun! I'm sure I will have photos to post!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


This past week has been busy but the best kind of busy, with just enough to do each day to stay engaged and motivated. I often find it hard to find my rhythm in the summer--one week I am traveling, the next week I am working, and then the next I have little to do. I know that is a bit of a luxury, but I need goals and activities to stay motivated! My MICA class has really helped with that as I have been working 3-5 hours in the studio several days a week. It looks like I will have a few more days to work than expected--hooray!

Caesar and I had 3 fabulous bareback dressage rides this week. I think doing my flatwork sans saddle might be just the thing we need right now. I get so tangled up in my saddle and don't really sink in and find my seat. But when riding bareback, I have to find and utilize my seat or Caesar runs away or stops. Ha. I also find I do better lateral work bareback. This week we achieved some really good canter sets. Cantering bareback has never been the problem, it's the up and down transitions where I clamp my legs and throw my body forward and bounce up and down. Yikes! But we improved by leaps and bounds this week! Still room to grow for sure, but we are on our way. And we jumped a few crossrails bareback, another one of my summer goals! I do think that my lower leg is getting more stable. My jump lesson on Friday went very well; we jumped a simple gymnastic--a vertical with a placing pole before and after to a cross rail on a figure 8. By the end of the lesson, the vertical was up to 3 feet! Whooo-hooo! Caesar wasn't alarmed in the least, trotted to it like it was 2 feet, but I think he was happy to show off his skills.

Yesterday, Mike and I volunteered at the Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy. It was a great event, and we were assigned some of the more difficult jumps on course so we got to see some very good (and very lucky) riding. Many of the BN jumps still scare me, but I am planning on heading out to school the course this weekend; hopefully, I'll be brave! I got to meet Cherie of Golightly Sporthorses, whose blog I avidly follow. How cool to meet a fellow blogger! She and her horse are quite the pair--fancy and talented, and they breezed through our training elements with ease. And Cherie didn't think I was a lunatic for approaching her blindly (hot dog and smoothie in tow); it will now be even more fun reading about their continued successes this season!

I'll be doing field work with my school staff this week; we'll be in Annapolis tomorrow and then Dorchester County at the end of the week. I'll post about my adventures when I return.

Unfortunately, it seems we've misplaced our camera :((( Big boo. So I don't know when I'll get to post photos of my most recent work. Maybe the gadget will turn up after all.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jewelry update (with photos)!

My jewelry class is winding down, and I am scrambling to finish my final projects as well as several other pieces on my "must do" list. EEEEK! I will miss having access to the wonderful facilities that MICA offers. What a great studio! I am planning on taking a class in the fall, but I will go all of August without my beloved studio time. Bummer! But the good news is that my dad is sending me a few his old tools that will allow me to keep working in the interim.

I started my final project for class today. I walked in with absolutely no idea what I would be doing, and I looked around to see that all my classmates had their sketches prepared (having been absent last week, I didn't know about this bit of homework). But after a little bit of brainstorming, I came up with an idea I love: a feminine outfit mounted on a "mirror". Hard to explain, but I made a little skirt and shirt with plexi and paper, and I will be mounting that (as well as a petite necklace) on a mirror of brass with a copper frame. I think it will be super sweet, though not the most wearable piece. Here are some of the component parts:

I also created a little owl with plexi, paper, and copper. Again, the piece is in progress:

As for finished pieces, I made the second in my series (ha :) of framed pieces, this one commissioned by my dear pal, Megan:

I am working on a third for another friend, and I will post photos soon.

I also made a little wedding shower gift for my friend, Beth. She's getting married on July 31, so I thought a piece incorporating the date would be fitting:

I continue to be delighted by how much I am enjoying the time I get to spend crafting jewelry. I tend to be the kind of person who can get easily interested in myriad things, but it's rare that I find a hobby that I can really pour myself into (other than riding horses, of course :). I hope I can turn this little hobby into something more lasting and, perhaps, profitable. We'll see!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ducklings are all the rage...

Tonight, after eating at Holy Frijoles (yum), Mike and I took a stroll around Hampden. While crossing 36th Street, we saw a woman walking her-get this-DUCKLING! Yep! She was walking a baby duck! And it wasn't in a harness or on a leash, it was just walking right beside her, heeling when she came to a stop, waddling rapidly when her pace quickened, quacking now and then. Talk about ridiculous! She even took the duckling into a liquor store. I don't think I want to know how that ended...

Hoping I'll see the pair again soon so that I can snap a photo. But believe me, this really happened!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The news from Mississippi

Humongous walking stick!

Last Wednesday, my parents, Mike, and I made the 16 hour haul from Baltimore to central Mississippi. I have made the trip a few times before, and it wasn't one I was looking forward to. In general, I don't do well with long car rides, especially over 10 hours. But this trip went remarkably well. With four drivers to share the task and 4 books on tape by Mr. Sedaris, the hours whiled away. It's always interesting to me how I can feel when I have entered the south (somewhere just north of the TN/VA border). The road signs change, the vehicle sizes expand, and the bumper stickers are, well, louder (or maybe that's just because I disagree with most of them). Still, there is something so nice about coming home to a place where family, land, and tradition are so very central.

Mike and I drove down to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a reunion with my best friend's from college--Anna, Eden, and Chaeli (Alli couldn't make it :( Last summer, Anna accepted a post as assistant minister at a church in Long Beach and with her job came a big, lovely home-- a perfect place for a perfect reunion. We reminisced, walked on the beach (the oil is just reaching the MS coast, but clean-up crews were already out in droves), went antiquing, and ate...a lot. We also became acquainted with Anna's enormous Great Dane, Belle. Just a year old, she still romps around like a puppy, and leaps long-legged onto the furniture. She's an absolute doll, but she's just so huge! We also had a chance to visit with Ashok and Neha, two other friends from college who are expecting their first child in January. It's still so strange to me to see everyone growing up--marriages, new homes, babies, big dogs...

I didn't expect to be able to accomplish much of my homework for my jewelry course while in MS, maybe some sketches at best. But it turns out that my dad has several of the essential tools I need (a soldering torch, a small drill, fine files), and, being that he does custom wood-work, he had ample space for me to use as my "studio". I made matching earrings for my pals as well as a new mixed media piece.

My studio away from studio!

Earrings of hammered brass, silver, and sandstone

Mixed media: brass, copper, paper, gold

I made several mistakes and I am still developing my craftsmanship, but I do love this piece--Japanese decorative paper sandwiched between copper and brass. I am planning on completing a series of similar pieces. Also in the works is a pendant in the shape of a dress made from plexi-glass; plexi is not a medium I would choose to work with, but it's a requirement for class. Now that I've experimented with it a bit, I have to say that the material is growing on me.

We also got to hang out with my sister and her family. Her kids are just adorable. The youngest, Jude, is 3, and quite the conversationalist. They have recently adopted a few goats, and Jude likes to talk about them. He's convinced that a snake is terrorizing one of the goats; who knows where he got this idea, but his conviction is enough to rally concern from others. Cute kid.

Other than jewelry-making and some exercising, we are just enjoying being in the woods and reading. It's such a change of pace when we visit Mississippi, one that I gladly embrace.

PS: watch Gasland-very good, very important