Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Looking Ahead to 2016

It is almost time to put 2015 into the record books, and for North Texas we have some doozies when it comes to new weather records. According to NOAA, through the end of November, 2015 has had almost 6 inches more rain than what will now be the second wettest year on record. This does not include the flooding that occurred along with the tornadoes from this past weekend, so we have really broken that record to smithereens. It is even more impressive when you realize that over the summer we had the third longest stretch of no precipitation on record, 41 days from July 9 - August 18. According to the channel 5 weather report tonight, the 10 confirmed tornadoes from the storms this past Saturday makes 2015 also a record breaking year for number of confirmed tornadoes in North Texas. Good grief!

So much for looking back at occurrences that we can't control. What is within your scope of influence that you are hoping for during 2016? Many things will happen in our lives without active planning. However if there are specific goals that you would like to accomplish, taking some time to plan out the steps to achieving them and then actively pursuing those steps will greatly increase your chances of completing your goals. One of my business goals is to gather together a team of local artisans who sell or wish to sell on Etsy for the purpose of supporting team members in their specific goals for their creations and connecting them with patrons of things handmade. I am in the planning stage for getting together our first meeting of 2016 in February. Hopefully this endeavor will be a success.

May your goals for 2016 come to fruition and have a Happy New Year in the process.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy Holidays 2015




Here is wishing the very best of the things you enjoy during the winter holidays. If you love to cook, may all of your creations turn out festive and tasty.





If you decorate, may your decorations fill you with good memories and brighten the shortest days of the year.





If you give gifts, may they be well received.

Above all I wish you safe and happy times
that allow for your special celebration of
the holidays and friends and family.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Artist Spotlight - Sky Imaginings

Typing with cold hands is no fun. Luckily one of the talents of the artisan behind Sky Imaginings is crochet and she makes nice fingerless gloves that warm your hands while leaving you the dexterity you need to do tasks requiring fine motor skills.

I bought my first pair of fingerless gloves from her two years ago. Since I usually have layered long sleeves on during the winter I opted for a shorter style that just covered my wrists. This year I realized that fingerless gloves might also come in handy when I volunteer at the Arlington Museum of Art. As with many large buildings, this one is often a bit cooler than I like since I am rather cold natured and I thought a longer pair that came up over arm hugging long sleeves would help keep me warmer. I knew Sky Imaginings would be at Happy Holidays Gift Market this past weekend so I checked out her current selections at her booth. She had a nice pair of navy, slightly longer fingerless gloves that looked like they would do the trick and "fit like a glove" to boot so they had to come home with me.

She has many other crochet creations available. A friend ordered a cute custom cap for a new addition to her extended family. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, don't hesitate to ask if this artisan can make it for you.

I also purchased a hand painted shirt from a local henna artist. There will be more on that in a future Artist Spotlight.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Happy Holidays Gift Market - Last Show for 2015

This weekend will find me at Happy Holidays Gift Market at the Arlington Museum of Art. This will be my last show and chance for you to come out and see me and my creations in person for 2015. I will have all of my photographic art, including my ready to hang pieces, and jewelry with me.

The market will be open Saturday, December 12 from 10am-5pm and Sunday, December 13 from 1pm-5pm. Find out more about Happy Holidays Gift Market, including some of the other vendors and entertainment that will be there, on the event page.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Find Eclectic Design Choices at Olde Town Christmas Bazaar 12/4-5/15


Just a quick reminder that Eclectic Design Choices will be at Dottie Lynn Recreation Center in Arlington, TX for the Olde Town Christmas Craft Fair this Friday, December 4 (noon-7pm) and Saturday, December 5 (10am-3pm). I will have my handmade items from both of my Etsy shops, EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic as well as similar items not currently listed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Thanks for the Treasuries - November 2015

Six Etsy shop owners and one Etsy team let me know they had featured one of my items in a treasury during November. Ten November Etsy treasuries, that treasury makers let me know about, included one of my creations. One of those creations was featured in two separate treasuries. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic that were featured during November. (Click on the collage to see a larger view.)


I really appreciate being featured by the treasury makers. To thank them, I have listed below a link to the Etsy sellers that let me know they had featured one or more of my items, as well as an item from their shop that I like. In addition you will see information about the TexasFriendsTeam that also featured an item of mine.

Enjoy window shopping and please click on the links of anything that catches your eye.

HotdogCrafts
This shop owner turns graphics into button dangle earrings, hair clips, keychains and more.

TheYellowRoses
In this shop you will find rag dolls, stuffed animals, small quilts, mosaics, and coasters.

TwistedRiverClay
Makers of colorful, functional stoneware pottery for every day use and home d├ęcor.

VyTvir
This shop carries nature themed, eco style resin jewelry.

WhimzeesNest
From a cottage in Connecticut, embrace fun things from the past to feather your nest.

XenaStyle
Creator of a wide range of jewelry styles: Artistic, Pop Art, Geekery, Classic, Statement, Mixed media, Trends, Ethnic and Oriental

TXFriendsTeam
Past, present and future Texans are welcome and encouraged to join this team. The only real rules of the group are to promote friendly, The TX Way, and be respectful to all who participate.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Artist Spotlight - Kelsey Cain Photography

For several years now when I have visited the State Fair of Texas, one of the vendors I have enjoyed stopping by and visiting with and looking at his wonderful photography has been Kelsey Cain. He travels extensively to capture amazing images of nature, predominantly from the western U.S. Wolves, cougars and mustangs are just some of his subjects. Kelsey is very personable and has been gracious to share some insights into the flow of his year, from his travels to the production of new prints.

While many of his subjects are large and dangerous, one small critter that is fun to see in his images is the pika. Tiny furballs that live at very high elevations, pikas don't hibernate so they make the most of the summer growing season and gather bundles of grasses, flowers and other vegetation that they stash away as hay for the winter. I learned to appreciate Kelsey's pika images even more when I was lucky enough to spot at least one that came and went from a rocky outcrop on Grand Mesa in western Colorado. The little critters are shy and very quick. We saw one bring back a bundle of greens twice but neither shot was what I was hoping for to add to my photographic art offerings. I am sharing one of them in this post however so you can get a feel for their habitat. I could have hung out there for hours in hopes of getting some better shots but I didn't think that would be fair to ask of the rest of the group that had driven up to the top of the mesa to explore it. I also might have missed the marmots that I did get some shots of that have been added to my body of work.

So this year when I visited Kelsey's booth, I appreciated his pika photos even more than before. Kelsey offers framed larger prints as well as smaller matted ones. He had a matted print of my favorite, a pika perched on a rock with a bundle of ferns in its mouth that I had to take home with me. I have finally found a frame that complements the image and my room as you can see in the second image in this post. Stop by Kelsey's booth next time you are at the TX State Fair.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gardening Conventional Wisdom That Is Not Really Wise

Put rocks in the bottom of your pots to give your plants better drainage. Dig a bigger hole and back fill with amended soil when you are planting a tree. These are two bits of gardening advice that are not uncommon to hear but have been shown to be the wrong thing to do to help your potted plants stay healthy or to have newly planted trees thrive. I saw them again in the context of being debunked in a great article that I tripped across earlier today. I was familiar with the mythical nature of most of the advice being debunked but was actually quite happy to read one about using wood mulch that I had often wondered about.

I use a lot of wood mulch. I recommend that people use wood mulch to help their gardens thrive and make taking care of them less of a chore. However I do live in an area where it is not uncommon to find termites. What do termites like to eat? Wood of course! According to the article, wood chips are way down on the list of wood related things termites consider appealing because of its lack of nitrogen and phosphate.

Check out the other debunked garden myths. They will help you invest your time and money wisely in your garden. Happy gardening. And remember if you are in North Texas or similar areas, if you haven't already tucked in some winter annuals so they can start getting established before the first frost takes out your warm season color, get to it ASAP.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Thanks for the Treasuries - October 2015

Three Etsy shop owners let me know they had featured one of my items in a treasury during October. Three October Etsy treasuries, that treasury makers let me know about, included one of my creations. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic that were featured during October. (Click on the collage to see a larger view.)


I really appreciate being featured by the treasury makers. To thank them, I have listed below a link to the Etsy sellers that let me know they had featured one or more of my items, as well as an item from their shop that I like.

Enjoy window shopping and please click on the links of anything that catches your eye.

CorkyCrafts
If you have a wine connoisseur who happens to appreciate hand made items, this shop is a great destination.

JeansToJewels
This shop offers one of a kind, beautifully handcrafted jewelry from bling to vintage.

ZhenneLandTreasures
This shop stocks vintage treasures that make treasure hunting fun.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Design This – Carnelian Necklace Upgrade

What do you do when a treasured necklace is repaired a couple of times and keeps breaking? You bring it so someone else to try to figure out how to put it back together so that it stays that way. I just happened to be that next someone and as sometimes happens with what seems like a simple repair request, it turned into a design this upgrade.

As I studied the pretty carnelian beads of the broken necklace, I tried to figure out a cause of the continued failure of the stringing material. The wire seemed like it should have been heavy enough. It did have a kink in it along with the frayed broken ends that looked like they would have been located at the joints between some of the larger carnelian beads. I suspected that the shape of the beads was causing pinching and rubbing that eventually lead to a failure of the beading wire. If I was correct, then the addition of some spacer beads might fix the problem.

I just happened to have some spherical carnelian beads whose color nicely matched the necklace beads. I proposed inserting them as spacer beads around the five large original central beads. As a bonus, if I also added a spherical carnelian bead to each end of the necklace I could keep the necklace essentially the same length as it had been by removing the four smallest carnelian beads and using them to make matching earrings. My customer loved the idea so that is what I did. It has been a couple of years now and I have not heard anything to the contrary, so I'm assuming my fix worked.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

National Color Day - 2015


My inspiration for this week's blog post has come from tripping across a mention for National Color Day earlier this week. When I see mention of unusual national days I like to track down more information about them. It turns out National Color Day is an unofficial U.S. holiday of unknown origins that shares October 22 with National Nut Day. More information about these two holidays can be found on the National Day Calendar website.


That was a little background, now for the inspiration. National Color Day, what fun could you have with that? The website suggests wearing something colorful and sharing it on social media. I thought, CREATE something colorful! Coloring pages have been very popular lately for all ages and are a great way to have fun with color if you don't have some other media at hand to create something colorful from. So I thought, what better time to share that I recently created a set of coloring cards? I have had them with me at my last two shows and they were well received. I plan to add them to my EDCCollective Etsy shop too. What do you think?

Update 10/31/15: Here is my coloring card listing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Holiday Show Season for EclecticDesignChoices

I started my show season off early with two photographic art pieces accepted for Art in the Garden, where one of my entries won a second place ribbon. Last Saturday really got things rolling with ArtsGoggle on Magnolia in Fort Worth. This Thursday, at the kickoff concert for Arlington Symphony's 2015-16 season, I will have my photographic art matted prints, note cards, bookmarks, purse hangers, CD clocks and a few of my ready to hang pieces such as this framed version of Finchedelic. The larger gallery wrapped version of this photographic art image was featured earlier this summer. You can usually find a list of my upcoming shows and in person events if you subscribe to my newsletter, check my offline tab on this site or my events listed on my facebook business page or click on my upcoming shows link in my Etsy shops.

I am also looking forward to two shows in November and two in December. Please stop by and say hi if you attend any of these shows and let me know how you knew where to find me.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Thanks for the Treasuries - September 2015

Three Etsy shop owners and one Etsy team let me know they had featured one of my items in a treasury during September. Four September Etsy treasuries, that treasury makers let me know about, included one of my creations. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic that were featured during September. (Click on the collage to see a larger view.)


I really appreciate being featured by the treasury makers. To thank them, I have listed below a link to the Etsy sellers that let me know they had featured one or more of my items, as well as an item from their shop that I like. In addition you will see information about the TexasFriendsTeam that also featured an item of mine.

Enjoy window shopping and please click on the links of anything that catches your eye.


HotdogCrafts
This shop owner turns graphics into button dangle earrings, hair clips, keychains and more.

GirlieGals
Girlie Gals offers you sparkle and shine at affordable prices. "It's a Bling Thing!"

TheYellowRoses
In this shop you will find rag dolls, stuffed animals, small quilts, mosaics, and coasters.

TXFriendsTeam
Past, present and future Texans are welcome and encouraged to join this team. The only real rules of the group are to promote friendly, The TX Way, and be respectful to all who participate.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New Hummingbirds

The first one I want to talk about is a hummingbird new to me and the second is new science.

One morning on our recent trip to Livermore, CA, as I was looking for wildlife before the first of the day's baseball games, I spied a speedy little bird. The movement suggested to me that it was a hummingbird. Quick, zoom in and try to get a shot! Luckily it was still early and the pretty little hummer decided to perch for a bit between short flights in one section of a tree. I was able to close in on foot and with my zoom I was able to snap several pictures before it took off on its daily journey. Upon inspection of my images I realized that the little hummer was different than the ruby throated ones I was used to seeing in TX. (The picture above is a female Ruby-throated hummer.) I'm sure it was an immature male or a female hummer. What I'm not positive about is what species it was. I'm currently leaning towards Broad-tailed hummingbird female even though Merlin seems to think that Anna's or Black-chinned is more likely.

I have included an image of this new to me hummingbird in my new Livermore nature set of note cards which I have titled "Morning Coffee Break".

The second hummingbird with a designation of new is one that was not totally unknown to science, just not properly distinguished from a close relative. It had been thought that the Bahama Woodstar species found in the Bahamas contained two subspecies. Upon closer inspection it became apparent that these two members of the Bee Hummingbird group were actually two distinct species, hence the designation as a new hummingbird. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a good article from which I learned about this and has more information on the topic.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Design This - On Trend and Trending Jewelry

A good friend and customer of mine has had me design several pieces of jewelry or accessories for her over the years that represent a current fashion trend, a favorite fashion element of hers or to honor a family member or family event. Earlier this year I was pleased to work with her to create two pair of earrings and two necklaces that incorporated all three.

It had been a while since she had mentioned wanting to incorporate fleur de lis into some jewelry in honor of where her husband hailed from. This was the easy part. I had had my eye out for some fleur de lis that I liked since her earlier comment and had some to show her when we met to catch up and discuss potential new jewelry pieces. She liked them too and wanted a pair of earrings made out of them. One of the other components that I showed to her was a filigreed moon. (Moon, sun and stars are a favorite fashion element of hers.) She loved it and shared a photo of a necklace that the moon made her think of and that she wanted me to use as inspiration for her project. She also wanted me to incorporate at least one star into the design.

It turned out that the inspiration necklace was actually two layered necklaces. Layered necklaces that can be worn independently or together have been trending lately. Unfortunately I did not have any star components that really spoke to my friend so I looked towards my suppliers and an upcoming trade show. I also needed to see if I could find some antiqued silver chains as my selection of silver, silver plated and gunmetal plated chains did not seem to be quite what was needed either. The right stars were difficult to find! I was beginning to despair when I came across some wonderful pave stars and a pave moon and star combo. I also found an antiqued silver chain I thought would be perfect for the project.

Now it was time to make up the earrings and mock up a couple of necklaces for the layered look. After looking at the first image in this post my friend said yes to the earrings but wanted to see the components in person. I brought along the components in the photo as well as some stainless steel chains I had recently purchased. After seeing everything in person she decided a simple single star on a stainless steel chain was what she wanted to layer with the moon and star necklace as pictured in the mock up. She also decided that another of her signature fashion statements, mismatched earrings, would be perfect for some of the other pave charms. Once we had all of the details in place, I created the necklaces and earrings to those specs.

I have seen my friend several times since then and she seems to be having fun pairing different necklaces for the layered look. I have always appreciated her great sense of style. I found it quite interesting how much of a trendsetter she seems to be when I read in a recent jewelry trade mag, "Mismatched earrings and name jewelry was big on the fall runways…", since she has rocked the mismatched earrings look for some time now.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Goldfinches are Great

I enjoy watching birds at home and on my travels. It is fun to spot new birds. I spotted a new one for me while in Livermore, CA this summer that was a slight variation on a perky little bird I enjoy seeing at home. In Texas the goldfinches I have spotted have been American goldfinches. The ones in Livermore were lesser goldfinches. The lesser goldfinches have similar yellow, black and white coloration but the green backed males' coloration is a bit more subdued than the American goldfinches' summer color. I snapped a few images of some lesser goldfinches eating dandelion seeds on an unused ball field one morning.

Back home I usually start seeing American goldfinches in the winter in North Texas. I left some small sunflowers standing in my garden one year long after they finished blooming and the goldfinches feasted on the seed heads when they came through. During the winter the males are much more drab but they are still a very streamlined bird with wonderful black and white patterning on their wings. They are a welcome break from all of the little brown birds (so many sparrow varieties) that hang out. The goldfinches will often hang around into the spring after the males have put on their striking yellow and black breeding color and are a festive sight to see before they vanish until next winter.

I also enjoy learning new facts about the critters that I see. I stumbled across a great article about goldfinches last week in which I learned that they are the only finch that is a strict vegetarian. In fact their diet is restricted to only seeds. While other finches rely on insects to supplement their diet, especially when raising their young, goldfinches have hungry mouths to feed when abundant seed heads can be found in their environment to provide enough food for everyone. It was quite an interesting and educational article and instead of listing all of the great info I found there, I encourage you to give it a read too.

Have you seen a new bird recently that you would like to share?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thanks for the Treasuries - August 2015

Five Etsy shop owners and one Etsy team let me know they had featured one or more of my items in treasuries during Auguest. Eleven August Etsy treasuries, that treasury makers let me know about, included one of my creations. Two treasuries each featured two of my items. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic that were featured during August. (Click on the collage to see a larger view.)


I really appreciate being featured by the treasury makers. To thank them, I have listed below a link to the Etsy sellers that let me know they had featured one or more of my items, as well as an item from their shop that I like. In addition you will see information about the TexasFriendsTeam that also featured an item of mine.

Enjoy window shopping and please click on the links of anything that catches your eye.

BrownPaperPackaging
This multimedia artisan creates a range of items from albums to wooden signs to crowns.

CatLadyWatercolorsThis shop offers a diverse collection of original watercolor paintings and prints rich in color, subject and inspiration.

HotdogCrafts
This shop owner turns graphics into button dangle earrings, hair clips, keychains and more.

SanaGem
Handmade artisan jewelry for any occasion made from Baltic amber, freshwater pearls, natural corals and semiprecious stones can be found here.

TheYellowRoses
In this shop you will find rag dolls, stuffed animals, small quilts, mosaics, and coasters.

TXFriendsTeam
Past, present and future Texans are welcome and encouraged to join this team. The only real rules of the group are to promote friendly, The TX Way, and be respectful to all who participate.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What Did You Do for National Honey Bee Day?

There is a day for that you ask? Yes and it was formerly called National Honey Bee Awareness Day. Beekeepers in the U.S. started National Honey Bee Day to bring awareness and appreciation to the bee industry. The theme for this year was "Ban ignorance, not honey bees". The goal of the day is to "educate the public about beekeeping, while helping the overall public understand the importance and contributions that honey bees provide."


This year there was some confusion as both August 15 and 22 appeared on different resources as the day of observance. I observed National Honey Bee Day this past Saturday by creating two new photographic art images of bees going about their all important job of pollinating flowers. You are getting a sneak peek of a portion of each piece of art in this post. Hopefully this will be a piece in the puzzle for starting a conversation about the importance of bees and what we can do to help support them. (Such as, what is your favorite vegetable or fruit and does it require a pollinator such as a bee to set the fruit? Hint: most fruits and vegetables require a pollinator to do so.)(What can you do to support honey bees? Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides that likely lead to CCD (colony collapse disorder). The Omni Hotel in Dallas, TX has a great plan as seen in this article.)