Sunday, May 25, 2014

My bird themed altered bottle

Have you ever altered a bottle?  I just finished my first one: it's for a Bird Song 4 swap.
It's a raffle drawing-style swap so who ends up with it is anyone's guess!
I decided to stick with a low-color palette this time and it was an adventure from start to finish.
First I had to find an old bottle.  Bottles are not something (believe it or not) I collect, so finding just the right one was a challenge.  I finally found a true vintage one at a street market a few weeks ago.
I chose this one because if has a rather flat front that I knew would take well to altering, as well as some interest in the ribbing on the reverse, above.
The hardest part for me was figuring out a stopper or cork for the bottle.  I actually bought some glass bottle stoppers online from an Etsy vintage seller but neither fit in the bottle I'd found.  Since I was pretty attached to the bottle, plan B was to make my own.
I fashioned the bird's nest from silver 'angel hair' that I glued to the top of a cork.
Then, I hand sewed some eyelash yarn through the nest to give it some nest-like texture.
The sweet bird on top was part of a raffle gift I won from one of Karla's past events.
I love the thought of it returning to roost at another one.
The blingy gimp style velvet fabric around the bottle's neck is also something I got at a past Birdsong, from vendor night.  Below the neck, I added a beautiful old piece of costume jewelry that looks like rhinestones, and some of my favorite tatted lace.
The bird image I used was a free download from my ueber-talented blogging friend, Violahere's a link to the actual download at her blog.  As you can see, I lightened it up considerably by dry brushing white paint over it and then using different pens to add shadow and outline.
I used some of my favorite vintage white pieces to embellish the area above the egg: spun cotton, beaded wire, etc.
I decided I loved both the weight and the soft look of mother-of-pearl buttons, so I filled the bottle part way with some of those vintage 'gems' for an extra bit of beauty.
Finally, I tied some vintage baubles around the neck for balance: an old key, some beads and buttons, old lace threaded through a pearl, and a wooden feather.
How gorgeous is that old metal button?
Next I'll have to wrap it prettily, take it with me to Kansas, and let it fly away with someone new after the event.
I bought another beautiful bottle at the same street market, so I definitely see more in my future.
Countdown to Birdsong 4: about 11 more days.
Yes, I'm working hard on my swaps.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dressing up

Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my last post with words of comfort.  I so appreciate it and, in an effort to post something on a cheerful note: here are some more photos of me, at work, playing with stuff I'm listing:
vintage hats!



Yes, my coworkers think I'm a little nuts.
 ...but would you LOOK at this stuff?  How could I resist?
There was some other dressing up going around her last week as well: it was prom night -- Ben's first.  He's a Junior this year.
He went with his adorable girlfriend, Cora; a whole group of them got together for dinner and the main event.
Ben's the one in the grey suit -- second from the right.
Cora was beautiful in a sage green dress.
They had a great time and I know it's an evening he'll remember all his life.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

She made the world a better place

Today there is a memorial service in California to celebrate the life of my friend, Sharon Nyssen.  I know just what it will be like: hundreds of people gathered together to talk about how important she was in their lives and how much they loved her, and she loved them.
I am not physically there but I am remembering her, too.
This is one of the very few photos I have of the two of us together.
It was taken in 2002, shortly after we moved from CA to Colorado.  See how my hand is wrapped up?  I had to have surgery to remove a bone tumor and was nervously awaiting the results -- benign or malignant?  Dennis was in between jobs and I was not covered by health insurance at the time.  It was a crisis for sure, and Sharon was there to be my rock.  Although she had four young children at home, she flew out to sit and panic, and pray, with me.  (It ended up being benign).
And that was my friend Sharon.
 The photo above shows her with the love of her life, Mark.  They would have celebrated 31 years of marriage this year.
Sharon and I have been friends for about 19 years.  Why so few photos?  Well, we didn't all have cameras on our phones in those days.  And when the camera was out, it was usually aimed at our little ones.
In the photo, above, we are having a high tea baby shower for Sharon, pregnant with her 4th child...
who came a few weeks later.
Here's her family, grown, just last year:
Sharon had a kind of a seizure on March 11 and was in a coma until May 9, when her body stopped breathing and she went to heaven.
It has been very hard for me to wrap my head around.
A world without Sharon in it?
Not possible.
This is the woman who I stood face to face with in 1995 -- she, uncomfortably pregnant and hiring me to fill in for her as HR Manager while on family leave.  Me, on the other side of the fence -- with nothing to fill my days except someone else's job and waiting to adopt after so many pregnancy losses.
I remember us regarding each other and knowing we were meant to be friends despite our different life roles.
And we were.  Close friends.
She rejoiced with us when we had Ben.
Her children became his friends, too.
Sharon taught me so much about motherhood, and friendship, and faith.
She taught me to admit when I'd made a mistake.
She modeled putting first things first, and letting less important things go.
She taught me how to pick blackberries.
And use a sewing machine.
I can still hear her telling me to hide all the moments of Ben's babyhood in my heart.
That is some of the best advice I've ever been given.
She made me laugh.
I remember our discussion of baby names; she told me she'd wanted to name a child Seth but whenever she said that name with her last name, Nyssen, it sounded like a lisp.
She encouraged my desire to write, and asked about it every time we talked.
She had 4 kids and lived several towns away.  We kept in close touch but didn't get to see each other as often as we wanted to.
And then she was there to help me pack, and move away.
After that, including her visit in 2002, I think we saw each other 4 more times.
I very much regret not keeping in closer touch with Sharon these last few years.
When will I learn?  Haven't I lost enough friends to realize how precious these relationships are?
My heart is broken.
I thank God for Sharon.  She made the world a better place.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A wreath for Birdsong 4

I created a wreath for Birdsong 4; it will be a raffle prize given away sometime during the weekend.  Yes there are raffle prizes too!  One of the many fun perks and wonderful treats in store for us as we enjoy Karla's hospitality.
It's exactly like the one we made during Lori Oles' class at Birdsong 3
When I was there last year, my wreath was in the theme of pretty women using scraps provided by Lori.  For this wreath, I used the others she'd given us -- birds themed, of course -- and added many of my own.

This one has modeling paste applied over a doily as a stencil.
It's an unusual shape for a tag, I know -- but I didn't want to lose a single one of the pretty birds!
The second one from the left, above, is a playing card with more modeling paste as an embellishment.
I love the "song" themed paper behind the lovely bird scrap; I think my favorite is the woman on the far right from a vintage glove advertisement; I gave her some flowers as a hat and placed a bird on her finger.
Below it, a tiny pattern paper rosette.
A little girl curtsies next to a bird on washi tape; I love the softness of the feather with it.
The tags are all tied onto the lace wreath with different fibers in neutral tones.
I hope the recipient enjoys it as much as enjoyed making it!
Countdown to Birdsong: less than a month!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Blue and white china love

I recently wrote a short article on the story behind the well-known Blue Willow china pattern.
I thought the story was interesting, but I don't like Blue Willow myself.
(I don't care for Asian or Asian-inspired art, for some reason.  It's just not my taste.)
But...I LOVE blue and white china that's not Blue Willow!
I decorated our home's master bedroom in blue and white, with hints of yellow.
This morning I took down all the bedroom china to give it a good cleaning.  Above, a yellow Goebel bird that lives with the china.
I decided to photograph some of the pieces to show you, including the backmark:
 This one is a small commemorative plate (smaller than a saucer.)


 This is a small, espresso-sized cup and saucer.

 The Finlandia is the first blue and white china I ever purchased.

 More from Myott



The inside of this cup is particularly pretty!





This is among my most favorite sets:
I love the mixture of blues, especially the faded cathedral at the top...
and the details like the lady with the umbrella below.
There is unfortunately no backmark.
Another pretty, old blue (unmarked.)
 I got this creamer and sugar after our last trip to D.C. when I was feeling patriotic.


 A pitcher with underplate...
made for decoration by Norleans.
I love my soothing, blue and white bedroom decor and I hope you enjoyed seeing it!