Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Fellow Etsian Sighting - Ellengant Creations

If you happen to be at the Downtown Arlington Management Corporation (DAMC) office, you should be able to see this cute ray from EllengantCreations in person. How did this come to be? DAMC partnered with 817ArtsAlliance to bring the community a unique holiday shopping opportunity last year in the form of the Happy Holidays Pop-Up Market (HHPM), held in the front portion of their space. It was filled with creations from fifteen local artisans. Ellen's whimsical polymer clay creatures were part of the assortment.

The admin at DAMC kept being drawn to Ellen's sand colored ray and finally decided it needed to join her family. As a token of appreciation for sharing space with HHPM however, 817ArtsAlliance would not let her purchase it but gifted it to her (after paying the artist for her work). I embellished a plain black stand with seashells to complement the ray. Last time I was in the office, the ray was hanging out as part of the decor. One of these years I imagine it might go home with the admin. Until then, you can see one of Ellen's creations in person. More whimsical creatures can be seen in her Etsy shop, EllengantCreations.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Mistletoe - Friend or Foe?

Some things that I have heard during my life about mistletoe are: 1) stand under it if you are looking for a kiss, 2) it is poisonous and 3) it will kill your trees. You may have mistletoe in some of your trees, so it would be nice to know if it is friend or foe. The answer however is somewhat mixed and might be subjective based on your situation.

Various kissing traditions about standing under mistletoe have flourished for hundreds of years. I will leave it to the reader as to whether this informs the mistletoe as friend or foe discussion.

Yes, mistletoe is poisonous to some living creatures including humans, dogs and cats. Mistletoe varieties growing in America are purported to be less toxic than mistletoe found in Europe. In Europe extracts from mistletoe are showing signs of being less toxic than chemotherapy and effective against colon cancer. Some mammals consume mistletoe as part of their normal diet, especially during the
winter when other food sources may be scarce. These include squirrels, deer and cattle. Many birds such as robins, bluebirds and waxwings eat the berries. Other birds such as spotted owls, chickadees and nuthatches use the "witches broom" mass of branches to nest in. Mistletoe provides an early pollen and nectar source for bees and 3 species of hairstreak butterflies depend on this plant as food for their caterpillars. These are just some examples that can confuse a friend or foe discussion with regards to mistletoe.

Mistletoe is a parasite. It does draw its water and a portion of its nutrients from the host tree. The place on a branch where mistletoe attaches to will become noticeably thickened and if you wish to permanently remove a mistletoe clump, you can't just chop off the base of the cluster of mistletoe branches. You must also cut the limb about a foot towards the center of the tree from the thickened attachment point. But should you do this? The answer will vary depending on your situation. I read about a biologist whose work with mistletoe began with a focus to find a way to eradicate it. After decades of studying the plant he came to appreciate its part in the overall forest ecosystem and introduced some to a few trees in his own yard. Mistletoe can definitely weaken a host tree, especially if there is a heavy infestation and/or if extreme drought occurs. As part of an overall forest ecosystem, mistletoe infected trees will likely have shorter lifespans and according to several studies will contribute to a higher percentage of snags and nest cavities and therefore a larger population of cavity nesting birds in the forest.

So, mistletoe, friend or foe? You will have to decide for your own unique situation.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Design This - Sheep Jewelry Part 2

In my previous blog post I described how I came to make a pair of sheep earrings for a friend of mine to give as a gift. The byproduct of this process was a sheep bracelet mock up that sat on my bench for a couple of weeks before I decided what to do with it. Between the holidays and running the Happy Holidays Pop-Up Market, I did not have time to put away unused supplies from the few pieces I managed to create during December.

When I finally had time to start putting away those unused beads and findings, I contemplated what to do with the bracelet mock up. I really liked the way the faceted black agate beads complemented the single lampwork sheep bead
that would be opposite the clasp in a finished bracelet. It would have taken a similar amount of time to disassemble and properly stow the parts as it would to complete the bracelet so I decided to finish it up. The mock up anticipated a sterling silver toggle clasp and findings to finish off the bracelet. Since I was no longer constrained by the request for sterling findings, I could now consider other options. With the beads being mostly black and white, I thought gunmetal would be the perfect color for the crimp bead covers, jump rings and toggle clasp.

Now that I had a plan, I gathered up some beading wire, crimp beads and gunmetal tone findings and set about to turn my design into a finished bracelet. I liked it so much I listed it in my EDCCollective Etsy shop.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Design This - Sheep Jewelry

When a friend of mine visited the Happy Holidays Pop-Up Market and spied my lampwork sheep earrings, she said her mother liked all things sheep. The only problem, she saw with those earrings was that her mother did not like long earrings and the metal in her jewelry needed to be sterling silver.

We talked about some options and we decided I would mock up a bracelet design for her consideration. After some back and forth on that design we reconsidered what my friend's mom would likely enjoy the most. We went back to discussing earrings. I had some
sterling silver posts with a loop to attach the sheep to that would create shorter earrings than the pair on French ear wires she saw at the market. She decided to go with this option and I made them up in time for her to take them with her for a Christmas gift. I was thrilled when I saw my friend after the holidays and she reported that her mother loved them.

In my next post I will share what I have done with the bracelet mock up that sat on my bench for a couple of weeks.