Friday, February 27, 2015

Gypsy Garden Necklace class at Fandango '15

When I was a girl, I lived with my grandparents most of the time and followed my granny around like a puppy. Since I loved doing things with her, sewing, washing and hanging out clothes etc, we spent a lot of time together.

She was born in 1893 of gypsy descent. Her family came from Bohemia. Today there is a fashion style called Boho Chic and I guess this necklace could also called Boho Chic instead of Gypsy Garden. Either way the design has the pedigree.

Back then we were poor. Most of the country was poor so we didn't know it. But, from that came the ability to 'make do'.

Back View of woven parts
As a kid I used to go outside and gather stuff to make 'pretties' with. Leaves, clover, thin twigs, reeds, tiny flowers, wire, seeds etc and would sit in the grass braiding thin reeds for a base then weaving the clover leaves, flowers, buds and other pretties into the braid to make 'crowns' or bracelets, or shoe trims (if you are a little girl with flower bows on your shoes you might be a princess), or what ever my imagination could come up with.

The idea for this necklace might have roots from a very long time ago as it is made up of a couple dozen leaves, flowers, flower buds, and shiny jewels on wires woven into a wire braid! Happily today's necklace will never wilt! Add a pink teardrop, some glass beads, and mold three shimmering dragonflies and you've got the ultimate Gypsy Garden necklace, or bracelet, or shoe bows.....

I'll be teaching a pre-conference class to make the many elements to make this Gypsy Garden at 2015 Fandango. We will be making leaves on stems, flowers, buds, sparkles on wire stems, dragonflies, and teardrop charms.

Left is a dragonfly under construction. This technique was developed by artist/designer Chris Crossland. After molding the dragonfly using translucent clay, the body is dusted carefully with the desired color.

  • By using a very small brush, the color can be applied between the wings. 
  • The same color can be applied between the wings and the eyes. 
  • The eyes can be dusted any desired color.
  • The wings were dusted with PearlEx Macropearl for sparkle and shine.
 For the necklace, I ended up using PearlEx Citron (see photo at beginning) as the blue dragonfly did not show up against the green/blue leaves.

The dragonfly to the left is from the necklace. What amazes me is how beautifully they looked on the wires and they were easy to weave into the design.

This pretty jewel-like Citron dragonfly with Scarlet eyes was baked onto a wire to which it is secure. Four E-beads hold it above the flowers.

Humm, these would make stunning earrings too.!

To add this dangling flower with leaves and sparkles, the wires on each piece were braided together then the braid of pretties was woven into the basic braid.

This little cluster is a focal point when woven into the design. With two leaves, a flower and a sparkle, it adds pizzazz!

 Left are three leaves made of duplex clay. One side green, the other side lighter, paler green. By making the leaves this way the backs can be rolled forward, turned under and give a more lifelike look to them.

The larger leaf is sculpted and designed to be long, thin and lobed. There are four more of these in larger sizes in the design.

The iron on jewels were secured to stems to put sparkles just where we want them. Pretty and unexpected!

Flowers were made from a simple bullseye cane. Buds were made from scraps of the bullseeye cane.

Most flowers and buds had center holes.

A very few flowers had wires baked into the side of the flower for a different effect.

It was great fun making first the elements and then planning where they could go prettily.

For more information about the retreat, check out their website.

Thanks for visiting here. I hope you've enjoyed this gypsy's artwork. 
Penni Jo Couch
designer/sculptor of Best Flexible Molds.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kanga has gone to the Rainbow bridge

A few years ago our daughter Susan called trying to find a forever home for a Miniature Poodle named Kanga. We did not plan to have another dog having recently losing our beloved toy poodle, Missy, and still stinging a bit from her loss. When she called we at first said no, but, because we loved that she was wanting to find a good forever home for him, we called her back and said yes.

 A few days later she brought 16 year old Kanga to our home, a quiet little guy who, after meeting Sophie and wandering around our big yard, seemed to perk up a bit. Dispite being nearly deaf and with cataracts, this bright little guy was, in no time, using the doggy door,something new to him, walking the entire chain link fence around the yard, sniffing noses with the Harlequin Great Dane next door and more. He quickly began to fit into our home and lives and when we took him to the groomers when it was time for a bath and haircut we were astonished at how he looked. He was a darling little poodle! And, boy, did he strut all the way to the car and galloped into the house as if to show off his new 'do'!

Quiet at the beginning, he began to find his voice, at first softly, and then one evening he let loose with a really big bark. From the look on his face I think he surprised himself!

He and Sophie were great travelers in our RV and he loved to investigate everything he could as we traveled to Florida, California, and visited with family in several different states.
Kanga & Sophie enjoying California sunshine.
Kanga 2014
They could not wait to get out at every rest stop smelling and peeing on every blade of grass, leaf, old dog poo, you name it, they found it interesting enough to pee on it.

Our vet prescribed Glucosimine and Condrotin for his old joints and he got friskier and more energetic as the months went by until he would hit the doggy door on the run, dash into the livingroom, drop into a play bow and look from one of us to the other as if to say "I was a good boy! now who wants to play with me!!!?"  We often took him up on his offer to play and even though he opened his mouth on a hand or arm, he never bit down or caused injury. I think it was like 'tag' I got you.

The longer he lived with us, the more he blossomed. He discovered several vocalizations, from soft to loud, a kind of 'conversational' sound and, then, to a low little throat clearing noise when disappointed.

He became fairly easy to walk on a leash, and, inspite of his deafness learned to respond and come to us when we clapped our hands loudly. As for training, he learned very quickly as we began to use large arm movements instead of vocal commands. He would come, go right, go left, stop and more. We could open the door and he would stay in the house until we called him out. Every morning he would stand quietly beside my chair at the table and mooch a tiny bite or two of English muffin from me. When he'd had the last bit I would do the signal for "gone, gone" and he would promptly turn and walk away. Smart little guy.

The grandkids got along with both our doggies always wanting to be the ones with the leash when we walked to the park or just to walk around the neighborhood.
Kanga 2012

Time flew by but he was in fairly good health until a day or so before he passed. As will all of us time takes a toll on our bodies.  On Thursday he threw up a bit, it did not seem worrisome but later in the evening, he became restless, would not sit, lay down or respond to us he just stood. We called our vet and she rushed to her office to meet us there around 10. After blood work and subcutaneous fluids we brought him home with a request we bring him back in the morning. Joe was up all night with him and had Kanga to the vet when they opened on Friday. The blood work was worse than the evening before and she called in the afternoon. He was at the end of a long life, nearly 20 years. We let him go. Then we cried.

It has been just a few days and we are both still raw. Sophie is missing him too.  In spite of the tears, I can honestly say that the few years Kanga lived with us were made a bit brighter by his life and total devotion. He seemed to blossom through the years and was vital until the end.

Kanga: a good boy, a good playmate and good for our family.

Kanga 2013
He is missed.