Starting anew is always a good thing! Here is Vol. 1 of "Artful Living on the Bluff" for you to enjoy. While I am not contributing new material to this blog, please feel free to look around and then visit me at the new and (hopefully) improved "Artful Living on the Bluff" blog at

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cowgirls Love a Rodeo Rider

"Cowgirls Love a Rodeo Rider" is the latest of my upcycled mixed media jewelry pieces! It was inspired by the round mandala centerpiece with a faux turquoise (swirled acrylic) cabochon. When paired with the lovely stamped heart charms, it made me think of western cowgirls hoping to catch the attention of their favorite rodeo rider.

I hope you like it - here are some more shots for you to enjoy!
Please feel free to comment below and visit my Etsy shop to see larger photos.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Panthera Regale

I have really been spending some quality time with my lovely (and growing!) stash of vintage and "junk" jewelry. Here is a new piece I just finished this morning called "Panthera Regale".

The centerpiece and inspiration for this necklace was the leopard pendant in an antiqued brass finish. I instantly thought of the Indian Subcontinent - leopards, elephants, palaces and the maharaja - and wanted to make something fit for royalty but not necessarily opulent. With that in mind I chose the sweet elephant charm and a color palette of antiqued brass, gold, red and cerulean blue with some touches of amber tossed in.

I was super happy to find the swirled brass piece in my stash! It has been in my collection for a few years and is a mystery piece - I have no idea what it was in an earlier life but it was the perfect addition to "Panthera Regale".

Anyway, I hope you like it! I will have it available in my Etsy shop later today. Here are a few more shots for you to look at. I hope you will leave a comment  to let me know what you think or to just say "Hi" :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Light from a Golden Garden

Well, it seems I'm on a roll - another mixed media necklace finished and posted!

This one is called "Light from a Golden Garden" - I was, of course, thinking of spring, pretty flowers and warm sunshine. It's the perfect piece for a garden party! Let me know if you agree.... :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Unlocking the Secrets of the Moon

I haven't made too much jewelry lately but this past week found me in my studio up to my elbows in lovely bits and baubles! I had actually sorted some of my crafty stash into bags by theme and/or color scheme and that really did help in the creative process - need to do that more often!!

So, here is my latest...
"Unlocking the Secrets of the Moon" - Mixed Media Necklace
The adjustable chain clasp means it can be worn in any length up to 24"
It comes with matching earrings
See the sweet Sterling Silver Crescent Moon charm?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Scared is scared

Ooops! I try not to post too many videos but just noticed that this and the last post were both videos... oh, well. This one is really cute and has gone totally viral on Vimeo. With almost half-a-million views, "The Scarded is scared" certainly doesn't need any help from my little ol' blog but, what the heck! Find out more about the film by clicking here.
I hope you enjoy it :)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Song Without Words

There is soon to be one less unfinished project in my studio! Because assemblage is something new for me, I have trouble committing to projects - which means getting out the glue or nails and permanently attaching stuff. With bead embroidery, I usually know what will work. With assemblage I'm still stumbling around wondering if this glue or that paint or this paper will do what I want it to do. There is also the problem of making everything precious. If it's old, it's precious. If it's handcrafted, it's precious. An awful lot of vintage fabric and antique lace has been sold in my Etsy shop simply because I couldn't take scissors to it and use it myself!

OK! So, I've been working on this piece inspired by a tin type photo I found at the flea market last weekend. Ideas have been floating around in my head for the past week and today I made myself dive in. Here's the list of found treasures I've used so far:

A very old rusty tray - bought at a garage sale sometime in the previous decade
Tintype photo of a Victorian era couple - found at the flea market
Vintage brass flower brooch - also found at the flea market
Half a wire heart ornament - from the "valentine" table at the local thrift shop
Some drawer hardware pieces I've been hoarding
Vintage metal buttons with crowns
Old sheet music books and a 1920s dictionary
Pattern tissue paper

Store-bought necessities include:
Soft gel medium - matte
Silicone Glue
Bristle paint brushes
Smooch Spritz (not really a necessity...)

Also, water and rags to wipe things off with!

I started by sealing the tray with a coat of matte medium...

And then collaged some pattern tissue and a dictionary page to it...

Thinking it looked a little plain, I spritzed it with some Smooch Spritz in Spun Sugar...

Confession time: The Smooch spray was an impulse buy at Michaels. The jury is out on this one... not sure I'm a Smooch fan quite yet. 

After that, I got braver and started collaging layers of pattern tissue (I really love using vintage pattern tissue!!) and distressed pieces of sheet music. Totally cool...

Then I started playing around with placement ideas...
Here's an early idea (notice the tray hasn't been collaged yet) - the photo off-center, the heart cocked to one side, a layer of tea stained lace and antique wooden drawer knobs (this was before I found the cool buttons). Too busy... too cluttered.... I do love the lace and the knobs, though, and I'm keeping them close for future use.

I finally decided that the photo and heart should be centered and upright. A sweet song title was also found in one of the vintage music books - "Romance Sans Paroles" - which means "Song Without Words". Perfect!

As I was finalizing the placement, there was a corner on the tintype that was bugging me so I snipped the lower corners off! Eek! This is something the "old" me never would have done to something so "precious". Such a momentous occasion called for a photo...

While I still would like to add some lace to the piece - I am proud to announce that I committed and started gluing stuff in place! No turning back now! Here are a few shots of the nearly finished assemblage - I hope you like them :)

Just a few parting thoughts....

Antique photos are some of my very favorite "precious" items and I love this tintype photo. The people here were probably a young married couple. Not being very well-off, this was more than likely the only formal photograph they ever had taken. As I wonder who they are, their names now lost to history, I realize they are long passed. Were they happy? I hope so... Did they have a family? Where are their descendants? How did this photo come to be in a basket full of other miscellaneous ephemera at a flea market in Dubuque, IA? Why wasn't it precious enough to keep in the family? Just things I was thinking about as I worked on this piece...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Wait... I have a WHAT in my studio??

This is what I thought last night after doing a major clean out in my studio. I had suspected as much, and now I am certain... yes... I actually have a TABLE in my studio! And now it's clean and organized and I can SIT at it and have room to work. Amazing...

Here, look... I have pictures to prove it!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

On to prettier things!

*Phew!* Taxes are finished! Yay! I can start thinking about other things... prettier things....

I have been getting better about taking photos of new projects I'm working on. As much as I try to stick with ONE project, though, I always seem to have 3 or 4 going at the same time - all in various states of "unfinished". They are, as follows:

1. Unicorn jewelry project - Not done... not even close.

2. New Asian-themed shadow box idea - Getting there...

3. Really cool (IMO!) assemblage built around a vintage tintype - Just need the right substrate...

So, there you have it! Three that are in-progress, but... one creation that actually did reach completion is "Dreamers of Dreams"...

It is a sweet and simple found box with a Wade porcelain unicorn and millinery rose trees. The background has a layer of vintage book illustrations collaged with tissue paper and a printed quote from Arthur O'Shaughnessy (as said by Gene Wilder in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory): "We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams."

My version of it leaves out the "and" in the middle (Geez, I hope that's OK!). It's a shelf sitter - perfect for that little one who loves horses/unicorns. You can find it in my Etsy shop with other handcrafted treasures!

So, back to work... thanks for stopping by!  :)