Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2015 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)

It's almost time again for the Great Backyard Bird Count. Since I started participating several years ago, I have added to my knowledge of the different birds that visit my yard and neighborhood.

Some bird species hang around all year and some are moving through the area this time of year. If you are on the lookout you will see species that you wouldn't expect based on bird watching during much of the rest of the year. You will find a list of all the birds I identified last year as well as a montage of some of the ones I saw in this previous blog post. Will you be able to identify more?

Whether the weather is good or bad, the data that you collect during the GBBC helps scientists answer many questions about the distribution of birds and potentially the ecosystems that surround us. Find out how to get involved on the Great Backyard Bird Count's website. Then when February 13-16 roles around, print out a list of birds you could see in your locale, grab your pencil, binoculars and bird ID book or app and get counting. (A great bird ID app is Merlin from Cornell Lab of Ornithology.)

Need more inspiration? These photos submitted to the GBBC last year from across the globe should provide some. Happy Birding!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Design This – Chicken Feather Jewelry

What to do when your fine feathered friend meets an untimely demise? If you are like someone who contacted me last year, you save some feathers and look for somebody to make earrings for the two upset gals in your life. After searching, this person saw a pair of my blue feather earrings and contacted me to see if I could help him. He was concerned that I would laugh at his request, however he needn't have. I was honored to be considered to help memorialize the chicken they had become so attached to.

I wanted to see photos of the feathers and asked several questions about the recipients since I would not be working directly with the people who would ultimately receive the jewelry. (It was to be a surprise birthday present for each of the gals.) I also sent links to several examples of previous feather earrings and necklaces that I had made so that my customer could give me some design ideas based on what he knew of the gals' preferences. After I had a ballpark estimate for my customer based on his feedback, he sent the feathers in my direction. After mocking up some examples and showing some components I could use to accent the feathers, we were close to finalizing the designs and types of jewelry that I would make. I would use the smaller feathers for the earrings and the wing feathers for necklaces so that each recipient would get a pair of earrings and a necklace. I had planned on making a simple rolled leather necklace of the requested length for each wire wrapped feather pendant, however something that my customer asked got us thinking of using some of the beads that I had shown as possible accents for the feathers to make a beaded necklace for his daughter instead of the leather one.

I really liked the beaded necklace idea but had to ponder a while on how best to attach the feather wrap pendant to it. When I make a simple leather cord necklace, I slip it through the bail I make on the wire wrapped feather pendant. My solution was to wire wrap the feather to one of the picture jasper beads that I would be stringing as part of the beaded necklace. Once I had a green light to proceed with our final design ideas I started on the earrings.

Feather earrings are usually easier to make than feather wrap pendants, however such was not the case this time. One set of feathers wanted to make a shorter pair of earrings than I had planned to make and the other needed additional feathers and some stitching to make them come out right. Initially I was not as happy with those earrings as I wanted to be so I contemplated making two more pair earrings using most of the remaining feathers not destined for the necklaces. The problem was, I only had enough feathers for two earrings not two pair. I thought of another custom customer of mine that liked mismatched earrings and decided some black bear fetishes and picture jasper beads would complement the feathers nicely. I would include them as freebies with the custom order and let the gals figure out how they wanted to split the 4 earrings up into pairs. (Let me know in the comments which earrings you would have paired together.)

These feather earrings went together lickety split. Now that I felt more confident again, I turned my attention to the feather wrap pendant necklaces. Luckily these did not present as many challenges as the first two pair of earrings had. In fact I was so pleased with the beaded necklace that if I had created that necklace from my own materials with the intention of selling it, I would have kept it instead. The picture jasper beads were the perfect foil for the lovely feathers from the Golden Laced Wyandotte chicken.

I sent pictures of the completed feather jewelry sets to my customer and he replied, "Who knew chicken feathers could look so amazing???" I enjoy the challenge of custom orders and I am always thrilled when one turns out to be at least as good as what the customer originally had in mind. After my customer delivered the birthday presents, he thoughtfully wrote to let me know how thrilled each of the gals were with their gifts. I was very happy to find out I had created jewelry that paid meaningful tribute to that lovely young chicken they had raised from a tiny chick that had been cut down by a baby rattlesnake just after she started to lay eggs for them.

Some of my favorite creations have come from custom requests. What do you want to challenge me with?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas 2015

Whether your Valentine is your sweetheart, mom, sister or good friend, you will find a variety of items in each of my Etsy shops to please them and let your Valentine know you are thinking of them. My ready to ship items with hearts in my EclecticSkeptic shop currently include keychains, cards, earrings and pins and in my EDCCollective shop hearts are currently found on zipper pulls in a variety of colors and earrings.

Order ready to ship items no later than the end of the first week in February (U.S. addresses) so that your gift should arrive in time for Valentine's Day. If you are interested in a custom order for your Valentine, contact me by the end of January to discuss details so I can complete your request and ship your gift to you in a timely manner. You may find inspiration for your custom item, with or without a heart, in my sold items sections in my shops.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Thanks for the Treasuries - December 2014

One Etsy shop owner and one Etsy team let me know they had featured one or more of my items in treasuries during December. Two December Etsy treasuries, that treasury makers let me know about, included one of my creations and one treasury featured one item from each of my shops. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic that were featured during December. (I recently realized that I missed thanking an Etsy shop that featured one of my flying pig creations in an October treasury, so they are also included below too.) (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. You will also see information about the TexasFriendsTeam that also featured items of mine.

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

If you have a wine connoisseur who happens to appreciate hand made items, look no further than this shop.

Grab your piggy bank and get ready to find some great collectibles to relive your childhood with vintage toys, collectibles and games.

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, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year 2015

May your goals

for the New Year

come to fruition,

and may you have a

prosperous and peaceful 2015.