Thursday, November 25, 2021

Eclectic Design Choices Will Once Again be Part of the Happy Holidays Pop-Up Shop

Last year the Happy Holidays Pop-Up went virtual. This year it will be back in person, however it is moving from its Downtown Arlington centered location(s) to Pantego. This year you will find my handmade creations, along with those of about a dozen other artisans, at Simply Divune Cafe.

The shop's hours and the cafe's hours are similar but not exactly the same. Simply Divune Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch. The shop will not open at the crack of dawn like the cafe and many days it will be open for your shopping convenience through late afternoon. There will also be Sunday shopping hours when the cafe is closed.

On Small Business Saturday, November 27, from 9am-3pm, get a preview of some of the hand crafted goodies that will fill the Happy Holidays Pop-Up Shop this year. Even though this is a preview day, the unique creations on display will be for sale too. Pop in and purchase anything that catches your eye since many of our items are one or few-of-a-kind finds.

Happy Holidays Pop-Up Shop will be fully stocked and open beginning at 10am on Tues, Nov. 30, 2021 and remain open through Thurs, Dec. 23. Shop hours will be: Mon. 10am-2pm, Tues - Thurs: 10am - 5 pm, Fri - Sat: 10 am - 6 pm, Sunday: 1pm-5pm

You will find more information about this unique shopping opportunity, including some idea of the range of creations that each artisan will be bringing to market on the event website.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Donating Artwork and Celebrating the Grand Opening of the New Dalworthington Gardens' City Hall

As a member of the building committee that helped the new city hall in DWG take shape, I am happy to announce that the grand opening of the building is almost here. On Thursday, November 18 beginning at 5pm, the City of Dalworthington Gardens will hold a grand opening celebration.

There are some very special elements in the new building. Another alderman built and donated the big table for the conference room. It is awesome and even includes the DWG symbol burned into the wood by a custom built branding iron. The table is very elegant with a dash of rustic charm that gives a nod to the City's tag line, "a rural oasis in the heart of the metroplex".

I offered to donate some artwork that would tap into that theme as well. I brought up several examples of my photographic art images I had printed for me as gallery wrapped canvases for the mayor to look at a month or so ago. After looking around the building we thought the conference room was the perfect place to hang some pieces. With the way the windows were laid out in there and the plans already anticipated for the other walls, it looked like two horizontally oriented and two vertically oriented 16" x 20" works of art would be most appropriate. I wanted the images to be of nature that had been photographed in DWG. I had two landscape oriented dragonflies that I had photographed in my backyard and a portrait oriented study of a great egret that I took in Gardens Park. I needed another vertically oriented image.

Great egrets are large birds that frequent Pappy Elkins lake in Gardens Park. A comparably sized bird that also hangs out around the lake is the great blue heron. I did not have an image worked up yet for a 16" x 20" piece of art based on a great blue heron photo I had taken, but thought that was what the fourth image needed to be. I hunted through the photos I had taken over the years in the park to see if I had a suitible one. I wanted to find one where the heron was standing in a similar posture as the egret on the canvas that was already printed and I wanted them to be facing each other once they were hung on the wall. I also wanted the final alteration of my heron photo to take on a similar characteristic as the other three pieces of art I was donating. I found a few original photos of mine that I thought had potential. After working with this group, I settled on one that I thought best fit the criteria I had set out. After completing the image it was time to send it off to be printed on canvas. I always cross my fingers when I do this with a new image. Some images look better printed on different substrates so even though I print out proofs on paper on my printers, I am never 100% sure of how the print on canvas will look. I think it turned out nicely and compliments the egret very well.

One other donation I made to the overall project was to save some of the plants that continued to grow on the original homestead site, even though the old house had been removed years ago, and ultimately return them to the site. I cared for them for over a year until we could tell if there was an appropriate place to set them around the new building. We decided the bed on the north side of the building would make a good location for these hardy, easy care plants. When the plants in the bed mature a bit more, I will take some pictures and make a post about that garden.

(Click on the images to enlarge them.)

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Design This - Earrings for Sensitive Ears

Some percentage of people who wear pierced earrings have sensitive ears that cause them problems if they wear earrings with base metal ear wires or other ear attachments. That has to be frustrating for them when they find the perfect pair of earrings, but can't buy them because they have the wrong type of ear wire to keep their ears happy.

I was very pleased when a recent visitor to my EclecticSkeptic Etsy shop wrote to me asking if a certain pair of my earrings were okay for someone who prefers hypoallergenic jewelry. I told her that I did have a solution for someone in her situation and sent her a link to a previous blog post of mine describing the benefits of niobium ear wires. Later I took a photo of the niobium ear wires I had on hand that would complement the earrings she was interested in. After reviewing the photo, she picked out a pair and I made a private listing for her to purchase.

I do also keep a small supply of sterling silver findings on hand, but in this case they would not have been a good color match for the earrings my customer was interested in. I am always happy to receive inquiries about making changes to an existing piece of jewelry or making a new item that meets a person's needs. In addition to options for people with sensitive ears, I also have options for what is probably a small percentage of people these days who do not have pierced ears but still want to wear earrings, like me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Wine Glass Charms Are Not Just for Stemware

I have been making nature themed wine glass charms now for a few years. They are very useful to help your guests tell their drinking glasses apart when they have been set down.

It occurred to me last night that they might also be useful if you are serving your guests drinks in coffee or tea mugs that have handles. I grabbed a mug from my cabinet this morning and placed a couple of wine glass charms on the handle to see how they would work hanging from different locations. I liked the end results. The design of your mug handles will affect the usefulness on this type of drinkware to some extent. Mug handles that arch up slightly at their top attachment point will be the most useful for utilizing my wine glass charms.

So when you are comfortable hosting some number of guests in your home again, make sure you have some wine glass charms on hand. Now you know you have an alternative to serving your liquid refreshments in stemware to be able to utilize the benefits of wine glass charms. Help your guests easily identify which piece of drinkware sitting on the table is theirs for them to safely drink from.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Happier 4th of July 2021

We have come a long way from cancelling or at the very least making significant changes to our 4th of July celebrations of 2020. However, it is very easy for those of us who are fully vaccinated to forget that Covid-19 has not been fully defeated. And it is very easy for the vaccine hesitant to take their cues from the fully vaccinated who are now so much safer ditching their masks and not social distancing. Unfortunately we are not out of the woods yet, but if everyone continues to take appropriate precautions and preventative measures like getting vaccinated, handwashing, wearing masks appropriately and being aware of when social distancing is still a good idea, we will gain our independence from this virus.
So on this Independence Day of 2021 as we celebrate the birth of our nation, let's do so in such a way that we can continue to celebrate and protect our independance from the strictest restrictions we experienced from this past year or so of the pandemic. And while you are at it, don't forget the sunscreen. Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Edgy Filigree Jewelry

What do you get when you cross geometric polygonal shapes with scrollwork? You get edgy filigree (filigree with hard edges, literally).

As often happens, I bought some supplies a while back that I really liked but life was busy and they got tucked away for future use. I was looking for something else when I came across them recently and decided I really needed to make some jewelry from the geometric cutout brass shapes and get them listed in my EclecticSkeptic Etsy shop.

The novel pose, coupled with the polygonal cutouts of the brass unicorns seemed an unconventional take that screamed strength and attitude but still needed some rainbows. I thought they would be perfect as long, dangle earrings. Each unicorn is topped with two faceted, rainbow colored beads.

The geometric T-Rex seemed perfect for a simple, short necklace that would sit about at the collarbone. I paired the dinosaur charm with a golden cable chain and spring ring clasp to create the necklace.

Additional mythologically themed jewelry, accessories and art can be found in my Math and Myth Geekery shop section. More dinosaur jewelry can be found in my Science Geekery shop section.

Friday, April 23, 2021

New Cardinal Art from Eclectic Design Choices

Images of northern cardinals have been a popular subject with my customers. I have created two new photographic art images recently to celebrate this iconic bird. Both of these images are of male cardinals, which a lot of people refer to as red birds (for obvious reasons).

I developed one of the images for my most recent substrate for my artwork, vinyl stickers. Like my other stickers, these cardinal stickers are made from durable, weather, scratch and fade resistant vinyl with a laminate coating. A male cardinal stands on a rock slanting towards the flowing water in my backyard stream. He is looking around warily before dipping his beak into the water for a drink.

The second image was developed for one of my traditional offerings, a matted print. (The unmatted, signed 4x6 image is shown here.) I seem to have unintentionally chosen a theme for the photos I have developed this year. This picture is also of a male cardinal coming to my backyard for a drink. He stands on a branch just above the surface of the water in my pond. The water is still and allowed me to capture a great reflection of the cardinal and its surroundings.

I expect to have each of these items with me the next time I am able to do an in person show. Until then, you can reach out to me to inquire about purchasing these or other images in my portfolio.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Dig Native Plant Month (April) by Planting Some Native Plants in Your Garden

Native plants make great choices for your garden. They are usually more insect and disease resistant and better adapted to your climate than non-native species. They also are more likely to benefit local wildlife populations. Hurray for the U.S. Senate passing a resolution declaring Apr, 2021 - National Native Plant Month.

Fragrant prairie phlox is a perennial that I have growing on one side of the berm in my backyard when we had a waterfall installed. It is a true Texan, transplanted from a pasture an hour or so away. It has established itself and does not require any additional water. Its leaves appear when rains return in the fall and blooms profusely for several weeks this time of year and goes dormant over the summer. It spreads by underground stolens.

Giant spiderworts are another plant I brought to my waterfall berm garden from the wild. They flower in a wonderful assortment of colors, hot pink and various blues and purples. They reseed easily but if you do not want more plants, just cut off the seed heads when they're done blooming. They also go dormant during the summer and do not need watering once established.
The last two native plants I am featuring are wild on my property. I mow around pink evening primrose. I learned the hard way that if you do not, it gets unhappy and dies out. The blue-eyed grass is a bit more resistant to being mowed. It is a tiny member of the iris family. I do mow around them this time of year to make sure I get to see their flowers which open up when it gets bright enough during the day. (Note: This blue-eyed grass plant was in my garden, but they do not usually last long as they don't seem to like mulched gardens.)

Monday, March 29, 2021

Spring has Sprung

What a difference a month and a half makes. We have gone from frigid temperatures and snow from storm Uri to spring green showing up in the form of new leaves on most of the trees and green grass and clear blue skies.

I had a flock of cedar waxwings visit my bald cypress today. I'm not sure if they were eating buds or bugs but they stayed there for quite a while and I got some nice pictures of them. It would have been nice to have the sun at a different angle but you take what you can get. At least the birds were so engrossed in what they were doing that they ignored me. Cedar waxwings are usually flighty and difficult to capture "on film". They were also much less vocal than I am used to. I love the sounds cedar waxwings make but they were pretty quiet today.

What birds have you seen recently?

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Snowy Valentine's Day Great Backyard Bird Count Pictures

Because of the pandemic, my city was already planning on one part of its Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) event being virtual, but due to the weather, all of it was moved online. I hosted two livestream sessions. One on Friday, February 12 where I gave background on and how to participate in the GBBC. We added a livestream on Saturday instead of heading out in the weather for socially distanced guided bird walks. In this livestream, I chatted with a member of the Fort Worth Audubon Society about her birding experiences and we discussed several local birds featured in photos provided by another resident. You can find both of these videos on my personal Facebook page.

These images are from today. Click on them to enlarge them. Even though I have only been counting from inside my house and the bad weather, I think I have counted more species than I have ever counted during a four day GBBC and we still have Monday to go. I have seen at least one of each of the following birds: American Crow, American goldfinch, American Robin, Blue Jay, Carolina chickadee, Cedar waxwing, Dark-eyed junco, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Gull sp., House finch, House sparrow, Lincoln's sparrow, Mourning dove, Northern Cardinal, Northern Flicker, Northern mockingbird, Pine siskin, Red-bellied woodpecker, Red-tailed hawk, Ruby-crowned kinglet, Tufted Titmouse, Turkey vulture, White-winged dove, Yellow-bellied sapsucker and Yellow-rumped warbler. There are other birds that can be around my property this time of year, but I think this is pretty good. In fact the bird in my last post showed back up for me to count. If I do not get a correct guess in the comments as to what it is, I will add another photo and identify it after the GBBC is over.

If you have not gotten a chance to count birds for the GBBC this year. If you are cooped up because of our strong winter storm in Texas, take some time to count the birds. Merlin is a great, free app for android or iOS that helps greatly with bird identification. The count runs through Monday, February 15, 2021.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

2021 Great Backyard Bird Count Starts Soon

This year's Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) starts in less than a week. Join this fun, citizen scientist project for a minimum of 15 minutes at a time, whenever you have the time on February 12-15. The goal is to count the birds that you see and record your data for scientists to use in their studies.

To get ready, find your binoculars and grab a birding guide to help you identify any birds you are not familiar with. There are several good birding field guide books and apps you can install on your phone or tablet. A camera can also be helpful for identification.

I will be doing a livestream on Friday, February 12 at 10am to provide how to information and hopefully answer any questions viewers may have. I will post a link a few days before the livestream in the discussion tab on my City's GBBC event page.

While I have not seen them for a couple of weeks, I had some new visitors to my yard for a month or more recently. The photo in this post is of one of the pair. Can you identify this bird as it plays peekaboo in my bald cypress tree? (Click on the images to see a larger view.) If you can or have a guess, please write it in the comments.
After I see a correct ID, I will add a photo that shows more of the bird.

I hope you get a chance to join my GBBC livestream and/or participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count this year. Making time to observe nature, whether from in your home or outdoors, is good for your mood. So do something positive for yourself and the birds and join in the fun.

Update: While I had not seen the yellow-shafted northern flickers for a couple of weeks when I wrote this blog post, they did show up to be counted during the GBBC. I have added the second photo to this post so you get a better view of this bird as it pops out of hiding to say, "Here I am".

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

C Stein Solo Show - "4 Seasons" in Mansfield

The four images in the collage above evoke feelings of each of the four seasons much like the eight photographic art pieces of mine do at The Flying Squirrel Coffee Co. in downtown Mansfield. Like the photos in the collage, the images in my first solo show include different types of digital manipulation. Some of my original photographs lend themselves to a lot of manipulation, others not so much.

"4 Seasons" will be up through the end of February, so if conditions are right for you to venture out for a cup of coffee, check it out. (Flying Squirrel also has pickup or delivery that you can order online.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Design This - Bulk Keychain Order

I have an easy open, music note keychain listing in my EclecticSkeptic Etsy shop from which you can order one of four available keychains or up to all four. I received an inquiry late last year from someone wondering if I had a supply of keychains such that they could order them in bulk. I generally only make the number of items I have shown in a listing but often do have additional supplies on hand to be able to make more. In this case, my prospective customer wanted a lot, 35 to be exact!

I knew I had enough gemstone beads in the appropriate size, however I had to check my stock of charms, keychains and headpins to see if I had enough of those too. It turned
out that as long as a mix of gold tone and silver tone keychains would satisfy, I would be able to fill the request. I relayed this information and was pleased to find out that would be ok. We discussed the time I would need to be able to create 35 new keychains, a ship by date and what discount I could offer on a bulk request like this.

After getting the details nailed down, I set up a custom listing and got to start on the order after I heard the cha-ching from my Etsy seller's app. I selected all of the materials I would need and began to assemble the keychains. I took two work in progress pictures that I have included here as well as a photo of the finished product before I packaged them up to send off.

You will never know if an artisan can create exactly what you are looking for if you don't ask. So, send me a note if you are interested in a specific creation or multiples of something you see in one of my shops.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Here's Hoping 2021 Lets Us Turn the Corner to a Brighter Year

May the dark clouds of 2020 give way to rays of sunshine for 2021.

Hope is on the horizon in the form of a vaccinations for Covid-19. We need to maintain our composure so that hope is not dashed however. I have noticed changes in the reporting on administering the vaccine that have given me pause. Just before any approvals, there was a set of guidelines created for who should recieve the vaccine first, second, etc. There were also concerns over whether enough people would step up and take the vaccine to make a difference in the pandemic. Then we had several days of reporting that certain hospital workers were getting vaccinated, then frontline police and firefighters and some nursing home residents. From what I can tell, not all medical professionals, first responders or nursing home residents have had the opportunity to be vaccinated in my area but that process is being worked through. Front line workers in the first group to receive vaccines are supposed to also include teachers and grocery store workers as well but I had not heard anything about how those people are being identified and offered sign ups yet. Then all of a sudden just a day or so ago, the reporting seemed to indicate that a stampede of people not in the early groups may be forming to try to get to the front of the line. I hope that is not the case.

Don't get me wrong, I am glad to see a ground swell of interest in being vaccinated. That is great. Remember however that those who were given the first Pfizer shots are due for their second shot in less than a week in order to be on their way to maximum immunity. They need to be assured of supply. While I am looking forward to being able to be vaccinated, based on supply and the ranking group I belong to, I fully expect it to be more than a couple of months before my turn in line shows up. We all need to take measure of what groups we fall into and be patient if we have to be so that the process does not turn into a melee. Success will also hinge on our ability to continue to wear masks, wash our hands frequently and practice social distancing while the population is being vaccinated.

While careful navigation is likely still needed in the weeks and months to come, my hope is that some sort of normalcy returns through our efforts so that we can look back at this time next year and say 2021 was a happy year.