Monday, December 23, 2013

Design This – Gypsum Crystal Necklace

With Christmas and the gift giving that goes with it right around the corner, I got to thinking about a gift I made for my niece for her birthday earlier this year. The two of us went on a field trip of sorts the previous summer and were allowed to collect some gypsum crystals as souvenirs. I remembered the crystals that I had collected when I was pondering what to get her for her birthday.

I cleaned up a few of the crystals and chose the one that I thought would make the nicest pendant. I drilled a small hole in the crystal to anchor the wire that I used to wrap the crystal with. I placed one of the spirals that I created over the anchoring hole on the front of the crystal. Once the crystal was wrapped securely, I attached it to a black cord necklace.

I have not done a lot of wire wrapping, however I was very pleased with the way this pendant turned out. I enjoyed being able to turn a simple souvenir into a wearable keepsake of the trip.

If you have a special souvenir that you would like to have incorporated into a piece of jewelry contact me to see if I can come up with a custom solution for you.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fabulous Finds for Last Minute Shoppers

Really unique gifts can often be found by “shopping small”. This concept should not be reserved only for Small Business Saturday. Those of you still looking for that special gift would be wise to check out local mom and pop stores, craft shows and other local shopping opportunities.

Once such place in the DFW Metroplex is the Happy Holidays Gift Store that is part of the Festival of Trees Exhibit at the Arlington Museum of Art. It will be open Saturday, Dec. 21 from 10 am – 5 pm and on Sunday, Dec. 22 from 1 pm – 5 pm for you to search for that special gift and enjoy the festive holiday decorations and Santa art in the rest of the exhibit. Fifteen local artisans have their work on display along with a few vintage finds. You can shop for wall art, jewelry, pottery and much, much more. In addition, on Saturday, Dec. 21, one of the store’s artisans will be demonstrating her work with encaustics.

After Christmas if you are lucky enough to be flush with Christmas cash and are looking for a fabulous find for yourself, come back and browse Thursday – Saturday, Dec. 26 – 28 from 10 am – 5 pm and the final day of the exhibit, Sunday, Dec. 29 from 1 pm – 5 pm.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Invasives and the Decline of the Texas Horned Toad

While habitat destruction ranks as the number one reason for loss of species and biodiversity, the invasion of exotic species (aka invasives) ranks number two. When aggressive invasives crowd out a native species it can often have a ripple effect on other native species.

One example of this that has happened while I have lived in Texas is the decline of the Texas horned lizard (aka horned toad). When I was in high school I was lucky enough to see some horned lizards in their native habitat. We also had a large harvester ant nest near the back of the pasture. At the time I didn't know about the link between that ant mound and the horned lizards. The ants didn't cause any trouble though so we left them alone.

Unfortunately, the invasive fire ants did cause trouble for the native harvester ants. They crowded them out and took over their territory. This spelled trouble for the horned lizard. Harvester ants are their main source of food. Isn't any ant as good to eat as another, you may ask? Unfortunately not, or at least not as easy to eat. The way fire ants swarm make them difficult for the horned lizard to make a meal of them without getting harmed. The horned lizard is now a protected species, due in large part, to the ripple effect of invasive fire ants crowding out the horned lizard's main food source, the harvester ant.

While it is unlikely that I will get a chance to spy a horned lizard in my area of Texas anymore, I did get excited that I might have actually seen one a few years ago. I caught a glimpse of a brown, spiky lizard. However as I was trying to remember exactly what a horned lizard looked like from many years before, the lizard turned around and it had a very long tail. Then I knew it wasn't a horned lizard. I did a bit of research and found out that the mystery lizard was a Texas spiny lizard. They are slimmer, not as spiky and have a longer tail than the horned lizard. While I miss seeing those iconic "horny toads", my property seems to have become a haven for the spiny lizard. That is a good thing for me since their diet consists of a wide range of insects.

But I digress, back to the plight of the TX horned lizard and other native plants and animals that suffer at the spread of invasives. You can help by educating yourself about invasives so you don't help them spread and by participating in citizen scientist projects like the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's Sentinel Pest Network and Invaders of Texas Program that the center partners with.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thanks for the Treasuries - November 2013

Five different Etsians let me know that they featured one or more of my items in a treasury during November. Four November Etsy treasuries, that treasury makers let me know about, included one of my creations. Two other treasuries included one item from each of my shops. 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 (in alphabetical order) links to the 6 Etsy sellers that let me know that they featured one or more of my items, as well as an item from their shop that I like. You will also see information about the TexasFriendsTeam that also featured items of mine.

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

OOAK original acrylic paintings on canvas, ink and watercolor drawings, artwork and prints, greeting cards and sets, handmade brooches and souvenirs.

Handmade fabric creations featuring fun art doll creations and more.

Get your sparkle on. Beautiful bling for every outfit in your closet from this jewelry artist.

Holiday ornaments and stocking stuffer ideas in the form of earrings, pins & necklaces are found here.

This shop is stocked with earrings, earring organizers, gift tags and confetti.