Thursday, May 31, 2007

Shades Of Blue

Many of our native spring Wildflowers seem to start with an abundance of brilliant blue! Here are some of the beautiful shades of blue currently in bloom in the Wildflower Meadow (and the surrounding woodland area):

Common Blue Violet

Viola papilionacea

Blue Eyed Grass

Sisyrinchium mucronatum

Forget Me Not

Myosotis scorpiodes

Bluets

Hedyotis caerulea

Robin-plantain

Erigeron pulchellus

English Daisy

The English Daisy is one of the earliest flowers in my Wildflower Meadow:



These aren't exactly a *Wildflower* here. I planted these from an individual seed packet two years ago, but apparently these little beauties grow like dandelions in the lawns of England.

How cute! :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Greening

The Wildflower Meadow is growing like crazy!
Remember how brown the photos were just a few weeks ago?
Well check out all of this fabulous new green:





All of this glorious green should grow into a blasting riot of color in a few weeks! Check out these buds:



It already looks like there will be an abundance of my favorite Ox-Eyed Daisies! I have also seen plenty of Purple Lupine and Dames Rocket on the way so stay tuned! The *Living Painting* is shaping up wonderfully!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

THE GARDEN POST

Well, I said I would share photos of my recent garden/landscape projects, so here they are! Consider these the *Before* shots of the planting extravaganza. Uh, so be prepared to see lots of dirt. :)

The Vegetable Garden (that is now 12’ x 28’ instead of the planned 8’ x 20’~ approximately 336 square feet):


The Backyard Wildflower Bed (12’ x 50’ ~ approximately 600 square feet)
Seen from the Garden:


Seen from the Driveway:


The Front Yard Pots (Sunflowers and Dahlias)


The Side Yard Pots (Dahlias and Lavender)


The Melon Mounds (Side yard test spot for future garden/landscape project with hopes of actual melons growing in the process)


And finally, here is a photo of some of the seeds that were used for the pots and vegetable garden:




I also planted a variety of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash and cucumber plants that we purchased from Edgewater Farm.


By the way, if you are interested in planting your own Wildflower Meadow (and are not interested in collecting your own seeds), I highly recommend purchasing seeds from American Meadows. I have had great success with their products and it is also an informative site where you can learn about meadow planting and individual Wildflower seed types. It isn’t too late to start your very own Wildflower meadow!

So that is what I have been up to! I am now planning to take the next week or so to (recover) think about my next art project. In the meantime, I plan to share lots of beautiful Wildflower photos, so stay tuned and check out the development of my *living painting*. :)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Exciting Collaborations!

Guess what? It appears that I have TWO very exciting jewelry collaborations to share with you today!

The first collaboration is with Cyndi Lavin from Mazel Tov! Jewelry Treasures. You may recall that Cyndi and I have worked on a couple of other fun projects together, including the Charmed Life Necklace
as well Passion Flower recently seen in Jewelry Crafts Magazine.

For this collaboration Cyndi chose to work with a medallion from the Exalted Beauty Fish Collection:




You won’t believe what she created! It is an amazingly stunning necklace that she entitled Trout Season. Go check out Trout Season on Bead Arts. You will truly be awestruck by this woman’s talent, creativity and imagination! It really is a beautiful piece of art! Great job Cyndi!
Thank you!!!

My second collaboration is with Miachelle from Cosmopolitan Accessories. Miachelle is working with this medallion from the Exalted Beauty Botanical Collection:



It appears that Miachelle is going to share the entire creative process with us! Fantastic! I love seeing work in progress. It is so exciting to see two very individual perspectives working to create one unique design. The results always amaze me. I’m waiting with baited breath to see what she comes up with! Share in the anticipation, and learn some great jewelry making tips in the process. Go check out Miachelle’s post *Exalted Collaboration, Phase I*
at Jewelryzine! Thanks so much for sharing with us Miachelle! I can't wait to see the finished result! :)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Party Report and Update!

Hello Everyone!

I am so sorry for disappearing! I kind of crashed after Ro’s party – which was completely FABULOUS by the way! I had an amazing time and Ro did a wonderful job of hosting once again. The woman is a born entertainer with a very enthusiastic flair for fashion! So much crazy wild fun! I loved seeing old friends and I really enjoyed meeting all of the lovely new ladies! I am absolutely thrilled by the response to the Fish and the Darklings! The floral style medallions (from all of the collections) were the most popular still but there also seems to be a renewed interest in the more abstract shapes as well. My *Buy Three get a Round FREE Sale* continues to be a terrific sales motivator! AND I also booked another medallion party with beautiful new hostess (Julie), and I will be returning to do another party with my most amazing Mother-In-Law, Susie in a few weeks! All very good stuff!

So what is the *Update* part of this post?

Well I just wanted to let you know that I am taking a break from making medallions to work on some landscaping and gardening projects for a bit. I have a very serious case of Spring Fever and I am in extreme planting mode!

This past weekend we purchased one of those huge swing set/slide/rock climbing sets for the Wild Monkey Child, so I was motivated to conquer our very unsightly backyard *cliff*. After four days of chopping and excavating I believe I actually won the battle of woman vs. mountain! I am already very pleased with the fruits of my rather painful manual labor. I convinced myself it was a land sculpture (therefore still art) and turned our *cliff* into a slightly less steep and much more attractive slope! Fabulous! So proud! And for the real frosting on the cake, I planted the new 600 square foot space with more wildflower seed! Yay! More Flowers!

Today I have plans to plant even more inspiration! I’m planting two huge pots of Chianti Hybrid Sunflowers to frame the front door as well as six slightly smaller pots of the Victoriana Mix Dahlias. I am starting both flower types from seed, which means I plan to pot about 500 pounds of soil! Ugh! Lots of work but I am so excited to see what comes up! I like to plant the more *difficult* varieties in pots next to the house because they need tending to, unlike my theory of *survival of the fittest* in the Wildflower Meadow.

Speaking of the Wildflower Meadow, it has really been greening up out there! Sprouts are popping up like mad! It looks like all of the re-seeding efforts will pay off. I planted a mix containing over 37 varieties of seed with the hopes of having the right seed hit the right spot in which it will succeed. Why would I encourage such chaos and madness? Survival of the fittest! I have a wide variety of sun levels and soil types through out the meadow so it would have been impossible just to choose two or three flower types that would do well throughout the ½ acre spot. So I did my best to meet the needs of the land and I now have to hope Mother Nature does the rest! So far it seems to be working! Every time I check out the meadow it is a process of new discovery, I never know what’s going to show up, where! It’s all very exciting and inspirational!

This weekend we plan to plant our first vegetable garden here. It’s a relatively small plot to start, 8’ by 20’, so I’ve done some creative arranging and planning in hopes to make the most of the space. This is a new endeavor for me so wish me luck! There may be paintings of vegetable still lives in my future? Or vegetable inspired medallions? One never knows!

So that is what’s up with me. I will be giving thought to my next project and let you know as soon as I figure it out. In the meantime, I’ll be shooting some flower photos and posting those to keep you inspired while I’m busy digging in the dirt. I will also shoot some pictures of my garden/landscape projects in process for those of you who are keeping up with my *living painting*.

Inspiration has to come from somewhere – why not grow some?

Also make sure to stop back here on Monday because I have an exciting collaborative effort to share with you! You will be amazed!

Have a great weekend everyone!
Pictures are coming soon!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Exalted Beauty Packaging

So I’m still plugging away here, getting everything ready for the medallion party, and, yes, I’m still working on the Pearl Blossom catalog. But don’t despair; I will have it ready for tomorrow! :)

In the meantime, let me distract you with a quick post about my packaging. I thought this might be a good time to let you in on all the LOVE that goes into your Exalted Beauty Medallion, all the way down to the presentation!

Here is a picture of the Exalted Beauty Medallion boxes:



Top AEF Logo:



Interior Label (providing contact information and a bit of background on the medallions):



I would like for everyone who receives an Exalted Beauty Medallion to know that it truly is a one of a kind, Amy E. Fraser original art jewelry piece. I am proud to put my name on all of my products and packages because I make my creations with the utmost care, keeping my friends and family in mind as the people who will receive the Exalted Beauty Medallions. I care what my loved ones think and I want everyone to be happy with their purchase. With that in mind, I created a unique boutique style packaging that instantly says *Special Gift*, inside and out! And just so you know, I cut all the labels by hand and assemble each and every box myself! Attending to the details is important to me.
:)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Stacked Racks!

So have you been imagining how I can store 400 Exalted Beauty Medallions in only 4” of space? Well the answer is quite simple really, Build Up! Check out this photo of my new stacked racks:



Side Detail:



The Mr. recently built this rack for me on an unusual kitty corner in my studio. Some plywood, a couple of 2 x 4’s, a length of conduit, and a few box connectors and Walla! Fabby huh? :) He managed to find most of the parts and pieces right here at the house so the cost was minimal.


This stacked racked design has already proven to be the most efficient storage method for my hundreds of unboxed medallions so far. Not only does it save me a lot of studio space but the stacked racks have worked fabulously as a collection organizer. This storage unit has also been a great time saver. Having all of the medallions immediately available on display has enabled me to find on-line orders much more quickly. Yay! Good job Mr.!

Well okay, so it isn’t all that *pretty* yet but it could be more attractive if it was painted or even topped off with a cabinet door? Just throwing out ideas here! Maybe it will inspire you to come up your own space saving storage system?


What do you do for storage and stock organization between shows?

Spring Leaves

Here is some more inspiration from the Wildflower Meadow:



Bright, fresh, tender new leaves juxtaposed against rough and ancient bark. Look at the way Mother Nature beautifully illustrates the cycle of life. Magnificent!

Are you inspired? :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pearl Blossom Update

I am still working on the Pearl Blossom Medallions:



As you can see from the photo, I finished beading them! Yay! :)


However, I still need to photograph each medallion individually and add the 100 clasps to finish off the collection. Boo! :(

But not to worry, I promise I will have the Exalted Beauty Pearl Blossom Medallion catalog ready for you this week!

In the meantime, stop back in tomorrow if you want to discover how I can store 400 necklaces in only 4” of space! :)

Birthroot

More photos from the Wildflower Meadow:







Birthroot, also more commonly known as Purple Trillium, Wake Robin or Stinking Benjamin


“Walking in woods in early spring, nature lovers will be tempted to pick the pretty, low-growing Trillium. Indeed, its allure is echoed in another of its names, Wake Robin, a reminder that the plant is one of nature's early spring offerings. Flower collectors should be warned, however: the plant is rare and threatened in some states. There is another reason for leaving it alone, easily discernible in the nickname Stinking Benjamin. Some herbalists found that the plant's odor so much resembled the stench of decaying flesh that they made an ointment from the rhizomes and roots for the treatment of
gangrene-on the basis of the once-respected doctrine of signatures, according to which a plant's characteristics indicated its corresponding effectiveness on the human body.

The name birthroot (trillium) describes the plant's chief medicinal use-to stop hemorrhaging. Specifically, a tea made from the rhizomes and roots was given to new mothers to stop bleeding after childbirth. By association, the tea was also given for uterine disorders. The Indians applied poultices and lotions from the bruised leaves to
insect bites and skin irritations.” To learn more about Birthroot click HERE.

Obviously with my interest in the cycles of life and my obsession of all things *feminine* I would find the history of this particular wildflower fascinating (of course) but even more so, I am captivated by its elegant beauty. I think these flowers are completely stunning! Whenever I come across a Purple Trillium, they always surprise me (mostly because I didn’t plant them). I feel honored that they have graced us with their regal presence. The appearance of these great beauties always sends my imagination back to childhood dreams and fairy tales. This striking wildflower calls to mind rich burgundy satin ball gowns with fine golden embroidery, like a lost little princesses in a magical forest. Seeing one of these in the gloom of the woods seems mysterious and somehow contradictory, well, until you consider the smell. But no one is perfect, right? :)

Birthroot: Interesting, Beautiful, Meaningful.
How can you not be inspired?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Wild Oats

Here is a little something from the Wildflower Meadow:



Wild Oats, also known as Sessile Bellwort

These Wild Oats are a true woodland beauty! Look at the grace and elegance of Mother Nature’s design! Don’t you just love the delicate creamy yellow color and the elongated petals forming this beautiful bell shape? Fabulous!

Click HERE to discover a good source for identifying Eastern Wildflowers


Also check out the Connecticut Botanical Society
they have some wonderful photos and great information.

Exalted Beauty Party!

After a four month break I’m finally starting the medallion party season back up with a bang! I have a very exciting Exalted Beauty Medallion Party happening this Friday night at Rosalie’s so I’ll be spending a hectic week getting organized! Oh the chaos that ensues when off in production mode! Oh dear, silly me, I always forget that I actually have to make records for and package all of these crazy medallions! I have been having so much fun making the medallions that I forgot about the *rest* of it. UGH! So it looks like I will be quite busy tying up collections, prepping boxes and bags and deciding on which medallions to bring to the party and which ones will stay here on the racks… decisions, decisions! :)

In the meantime, while I am busy slaving away, please enjoy the photos and discussion about my *living painting* in progress. I plan to take plenty of photos of what’s growing in the meadow and posting the flowers here as they happen. I think the wildflower images and information will prove to be very inspiring!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pearl Blossoms

Here is a picture of the finished white Pearl Blossom Medallions:



A close up of some of the white pieces illustrating their pearly wonderment:



And this is a shot of the rest of the fabulous Pearl Blossom shades:



If you weren’t *in tune* with the beep boop bop of my computer brain analogy earlier this week (I can’t be the only one who speaks cartoon, can I?), then let me more clearly express my goal for the Pearl Blossom collection. The intention was to create new designs based on a combination of key elements from popular past Exalted Beauty Medallion collections but with a new twist. Overall, I was shooting for something clean, fresh and feminine with pretty, monochromatic colors and simple design details. I’m very happy with the results! I think the pearlescent finish looks sweet, sexy and shiny, while the gold staining gives them an edge, alluding to a history and authenticity that says *vintage* but not.


The Exalted Beauty Pearl Blossom Medallion catalog is coming soon!

Carnival of the Creators!

My friend Leah from Michon Jewelry is hosting this month’s Carnival of the Creators! It looks like she has compiled a really great mix of creative posts! Check out the Creator’s Carnival and stick around after to see Leah’s amazing and elegant jewelry creations!

If you are in the San Francisco area Saturday May 12th between 11a.m. and 4p.m. you could meet Leah and see her gorgeous jewelry in person! She will be participating at the Maven Urban Design & Craft Fair located at The Noe Valley Ministry, San Francisco, 1021 Sanchez Street at 23rd. Have fun!

Miachelle’s Medallions!

Wow! Have you seen the fabulous medallions my friend Miachelle from Cosmopolitan Accessories made with Paper Clay? Looks like lots of fun! Absolutely beautiful work! She also shares some helpful tips on how to use Paper Clay so stop by JEWELRYZINE to check it out! You will be impressed! :)

Vote For Cyndi!

Oh My! My friend Cyndi Lavin entered the
Land of Odds : Fifth Annual, 2007 The Ugly Necklace ContestA Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist!

The competition results are hilarious! But also consider the fact that making something THIS ugly is a very serious jewelry designing endeavor!
PLEASE GO VOTE! Click on the VOTE & EVALUATE links for Cyndi on this page.

VOTING ENDS July 15th!

If you’re interested, it looks like you can participate in The Ugly Necklace Contest next year! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Windflowers

Here are some pictures of the first arrivals to my Wildflower Meadow, Anemone Blanda 'Blue Shades':







Also known as Windflower, Grecian Windflower or Greek Anemone.

Today I am sharing a perfect example of one of the trials and tribulations faced during the creation of my *living painting*. A few seasons ago I planted 600 of the *Mixed Shades* Anemone Blanda tubers in my meadow path only to discover later that the packaging was misleading and these plants preferred Zone 5 and above. Argh! We are in Zone 4 and in a snow belt to boot! My lesson? I learned to do extensive research before I invested in anything further. :)


However, I have been rewarded with the survival of a few of these stunning little gems. They really make me happy. I just love their clean classic daisy shape. It appears that the Blue Shades are a bit heartier then the other colors because they have been the only ones willing to brave our cold climate and grace us with their simple beauty.

Side Note: Don’t plant a wildflower meadow if you have really small children. I discovered (after the fact) that many of the common wildflower plants are poisonous.


Here is the warning about Anemone Blanda: All parts are poisonous when fresh, but toxic only if eaten in large quantities. Symptoms include inflammation and blistering upon contact with fresh sap and irritation of the mouth, vomiting and diarrhea following ingestion.

Knowing I know this makes you kind of weary of my cooking doesn’t it?

Well not to worry, the Pearl Blossoms are perfectly safe! Come back tomorrow and I’ll show you some close ups photos of the finished pieces.
:)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pearl Symbolism



“Girl with a Pearl Earring," Johannes Vermeer (1665), Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, The Hague

Pearl


1.A smooth, lustrous, variously colored deposit, chiefly calcium carbonate, formed around a grain of sand or other foreign matter in the shells of certain mollusks and valued as a gem.

2. One that is highly regarded for its beauty or value.

“Pearls symbolize Purity, Spiritual Transformation, Charity, Honesty, Wisdom and Integrity, all the best within us. Pearls provide a clear vehicle for the advancing states of wisdom, as well as a clean channel for receipt of spiritual guidance. Pearls can stimulate your femininity and help with self acceptance. They lift your spirits and make you feel calm and beautiful. They remind us to walk with Dignity." (link)

“The pearl is a lunar symbol, also representing water and woman. These primary meanings are seen on a universal scale, throughout mythology. They are attributes of angelic perfection, which is only achieved by transmutation, and not freely given. Pearls are rare, pure and precious, flawless and white despite being dredged from the mud, coming from a clumsy shell.” (link)

“Since ancient times, the pearl has been a symbol of unblemished perfection. It is the oldest known gem, and for centuries it was considered the most valuable. A fragment of the oldest known pearl jewelry, found in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess who died in 520 BC, is displayed in the Louvre in Paris. To the ancients, pearls were a symbol of the moon and had magical powers. In classical Rome, only persons above a certain rank were allowed to wear pearl jewelry. The Latin word for pearl literally means "unique", attesting to the fact that no two pearls are identical.” (link)

Find out more about pearls HERE

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Pearl Blossom Collection

Did you guess?
Of course you did! You just knew I was making another Exalted Beauty Medallion collection, didn’t you? :)


This time I decided to appease the ladies who ran screaming from the DARKLING collection. It became apparent that I needed to *restrain* the muse for a bit and do a little beep boop bop in the old computer brain. After some rope burn and a bit of choking on the rubber ball gag I was able to take a more practical approach to this collection (kidding). Uh back to the computer brain analogy: So, I plugged in a touch of FROST, a hint of FLORAL, a bit of BOTANICAL, added a symbolic pearl element as well as whole lot of carving, resulting in (beep boop bop):

The Exalted Beauty Pearl Blossom Medallion collection!

Here are some views of the new Pearl Blossoms fresh from the oven:







So? What do you think?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Dormant Canvas

Dormant:
Not Actively Growing - BIOLOGY in an inactive state, when growth and development slow or cease, in order to survive adverse environmental conditions

Today I am presenting my Wildflower Meadow as *art* because this is a creative endeavor that will soon consume me again when planting season arrives. Great art is about passion, dedication and commitment. It could be inspired by the love of our family or invoked through the creation of a thought provoking painting, a decorative medallion or in this case, a beautiful meadow. These values apply to anything that we want to accomplish in life and art. My wildflower meadow is one of the things I am passionate about and something I am willing to go to great lengths for.

I like to think of our land as my living landscape painting (a true continuing work in progress). For my living painting, I have envisioned a wild and colorful explosion of life that will bring joy to all that gaze upon it. It will delight the senses; beautiful flowers to captivate the eye, silken petals and spiky leaves intriguing and delicious to the touch, heady floral scents to permeate the air and intoxicate the mind, a plethora of insects and birds to create a blissful symphonic festival of music… oh waxing so poetic! The absolute Zen of it all! Seriously though, the Wildflower Meadow is most definitely on the list of my top passionate obsessions and it truly does bring me happiness and inspires my *other* art. I’m not sure about its overall effect on the masses but perhaps if I share the photos and discuss the trials and tribulations of creating a living painting then you too could be inspired to live your passions?

Some Wildflower Meadow Background:

This month marks our third spring in our new house (the one we are currently still building). The first spring we were here I dug out (by hand) and planted wildflower seed in over 500 individual square plots making a strange checkerboard pattern dotting the 1/2 acre slope you will see below. I thought the plants would spread out of their squares and fill in the rest of the landscape but instead grass took over and tightly filled in the space between the plots, resulting in an *interesting* and unintentionally formal look.

By June of that spring, things weren’t growing fast enough for my newly fevered addiction to wildflowers so I was aching to do something more with my meadow. Ah-ha! A path! Somehow I convinced the Mr. to get 200 very heavy stepping stones from our local block plant for the 315 foot meandering path I had whimsically staked out with some lovely hot pink string. My Logic? How else does one enjoy their meadow if they can’t wander through it? :) Uh yeah, I’m a woman of big ideas and rarely consider the labor and effort it will take to execute them until I am way too far into it, not to finish. But I do finish… and have a tendency to add more as you will see.

By that Fall we had moved on to other parts of the land and discovered that we grow a lot of rocks here. What does one *do* with all of those rocks you ask? Well she thinks a stone wall along the new meadow path would be an absolutely FABULOUS idea! Oh dear, so the stone wall project began and we worked on that until the farm truck died (don’t ask). The stone wall project was then picked up the following spring as well as the ingenious idea to dig up all of the earth surrounding the plots and reseed. Apparently I needed MORE flowers! Oh my. I had a *vision* after all. :)

Of course I also decided that more sun was in order for all the fabulous new flowers that were to grow so the Mr. was then convinced to cut down a bunch of trees in the meadow to let the sun in. (My poor Mr. – a man of great patience and understanding). Well, digging stuff up by hand became quite arduous and after a few weeks my window of opportunity for spring seeding was closing fast (and my back was broken)… so we rented a tiller and tilled in the flat spots (of which there are few) and reseeded all of it. In doing so, we killed off a bunch of the perennials that would have shown up last summer but in the process gained the potential of having thousands more show up this year. However, Mother Nature had her own agenda. The overall floral showing last season was not very impressive due to the torrential rains that rotted a large share of the spring seeds. By the way – a large portion of those seeds were hand collected, dried and processed by me the previous summer, so their loss was twice as painful.

Not one to give up, I waited until the fall and reseeded again! 10 pounds of wildflower seed and a strange winter later – here I am waiting in breathless anticipation for what will come!

This concludes my lengthy background explanation of the Wildflower Meadow – my living painting - and brings us to photos shown below (of the meadow in its current dormant state):


The view from the porch…


A view from the top of the path…


Looking toward the woods…


Looking up toward the house from ¾ point in the path…


A view from the driveway…

Consider these the *before* pictures of the living painting. I promise to try not to bore you with any more lengthy explanations. From now on, just pretty pictures of whatever flowers pop up!

Come back tomorrow and I will let you in on the mystery of last week’s photo hint!

Friday, May 04, 2007

What’s Next?

Here is a hint:




Designers' Block

Looking for Design Inspiration?
Check out the DESIGNERS' BLOCK - Extracts and ideas from a designer's life.

Oh My! Di Overton blows my mind! I love the pieces she has collected and compiled, such variety and diversity, but with an overall sense of her very interesting individual style. This blog is stunning and inspirational. Her taste in everything makes me happy. You must check out Di Overton's Blog! You will be inspired! :)

Polymer Clay Daily

Looking for Polymer Clay Inspiration?
Check out
Polymer Clay Daily

It is an amazingly informative and interesting blog written by Cynthia Tinapple showcasing fine polymer clay art and it serves as a portal to the polymer clay community.
I don’t know much about the community of PC because, as most of you know, I’m kind of in my own little world here, but I’m looking forward to learning all about it. It is a great blog.
Check it out! You will be glad you did! :)