Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The House Fox

This beautiful Etsy treasury collection was created by my Elitesixteen teammate Frenchfelt who creates the most beautiful accessories from felt.  Here is my absolute FAVORITE of her scarves:
It looks like it would be heaven to wear.  I've made a few felted items myself and know the work that goes into creating even the most basic of scarves let alone such a beautiful piece as this!

Little Ferraby is now almost 9 weeks old! He's starting to get in more of his red fur and it appears that he will be a cross fox which is a color variation somewhere between a silver fox and a red fox.  He's getting two sweet little white patches on his face and his eyes are lightening a bit. Foxes have very exotic looking eyes, somewhere between those of a cat and those of a dog. The pupil is very cat-like.  He's feeling very pleased with himself because he has discovered how to get up on the bed.  He's now big enough to where I feel better about having him loose in the house. His bathroom habits, while not perfect, are predictable and manageable.  He's always easy to find, all I have to do is to check my bed and he's lounging on it.  He is also learning to sit on command.  I reward him with bits of cooked white chicken meat.  Now we all know about the tales of the fox and the henhouse, well let me tell you, he gets a little crazed when he knows I am about to give him some chicken.  He's so smart, he learned the command almost immediately, quicker than any dog I've ever trained.  He's still in a nippy phase, my arms are covered in scratches from rough play. He's learning, but still has a long way to go. I can see him trying but sometimes his excitement gets the better of him.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ferraby the Modern Fox

The beautiful Etsy treasury collection above was created by my friend Amber of Redtilestudio who creates the most beautiful home decor art blocks as well as gorgeous treasury collections that feature items from different Etsy shops.  It's pretty close to my heart because recently I became the proud keeper of a pet fox named Ferraby.  Now there are those who do not approve of exotic pets and I do acknowledge their opinions, but I really think that most people who take the steps to acquire an exotic pet have done the homework. In my case (for my state) I needed to get a special permit and I have followed specific requirements. Ferraby is a captive born red fox. He's from many generations of captive born foxes, who in many cases originally came from fur farms.

When he first came home, he was more cat-like than dog-like and so tiny.  He was maybe a little less timid than I expected and he did bark quite a bit which surprised me. Quickly we became quite bonded, more closely than I've ever had an animal bond to me, and that's saying something.  He doesn't bark often now, but will  sob when I have to put him in his pen, which isn't all that often.  His pen is about the size of a large breed dog kennel (6 x 8 ft) and full of all kinds of toys for babies, dogs, and cats.

So now he's almost off of his formula and eating his dry food quite well, we are using Taste of the Wild which he seems to enjoy quite a bit. It actually smells quite delicious too, something I don't often notice about pet food.  The cats chewed the bag open so I think they agree.  I put some in the food processor with a bit of cooked scrambled egg and pulsed it a bit to make it easier for him to eat.

Most of the time Ferraby seems quite docile, although now he's going through a nippy puppy type stage.  I seem to be the only one he feels the need to chew on, which is good and bad. He starts out playfully mouthing but as he gets excited he gets a bit rougher. He's gentle with the kids though which is good.  I've learned the best way to get him out of a nippy state is for me to make a hiss if he gets rough. It's actually a sound somewhere between a bark and a hiss that I've heard him make.

Today we tried our first outdoor outing on the leash.  He got really excited about the leash and didn't mind it too much but he really did not like it outside.  He was only relaxed when we stayed up by the house and he sat in my lap.  We had a mourning dove land a few feet away from us and he seemed to enjoy watching it.  The dove took one look and quickly waddled to the other side of the deck.  Once we went back in Ferraby became his usual playful silly self again.

I'm adding a new coupon code for my shop: FERRABY 25% off.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Ladybug Invasion

This weekend we went to the most amazing garden shop : Lukas Nursery .  This is a shop that really embraces nature and eco friendly gardening.  They even have a Butterfly Encounter exhibit where you can walk through enclosed butterfly gardens full of many different species of butterflies.  Of course I did end up finding some incredible plant specimens for my garden, and as I was purchasing I saw packages of live ladybugs being sold.

Last spring my garden was LOADED with ladybugs but this spring they've been very scarce, unlike the whiteflies and aphids which have been plenty.  If you didn't know, ladybugs are an amazing natural pest control. They are voracious eaters and a treasure to any wildlife gardener.  A few years ago I bought ladybugs through the mail, and it was wonderful to let them go, but we did have many casualties. It was great to find some that were obviously thriving in their package.

When you open the package, be ready. They are ready to get OUT! They come streaming out of the bag and up your arms, up your sleeves, into your bra. They are extremely thirsty and will try to drink the sweat right off your skin (ewww gross, I know). In the absence of sweat, they will even nibble, I joked that they were after blood, but it  isn't that bad, unless you have several hundred doing it at once and then it's a little uncomfortable in kind of an itchy way.  So if you decide to release ladybugs into your garden, make sure to spray the plants you intend to put them on with some water. It keeps them on the plant longer and they definitely will appreciate it.

A lot of them seemed so excited to be released they actually started mating so I am really hoping they will lay plenty of eggs in my garden so I will see ladybugs all summer.

I was so inspired by these beautiful red lady bugs that I decided to create my own Etsy Treasury Collection including teammates from EliteSixteen and TeamXtreme:

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Butterfly Gardener

This gorgeous collection above was curated by Amber of  RedtileStudio . I love every single thing about this collection and I'm honored to have my fox dish included! :)

My little caterpillar has emerged from his (her?) chrysalis!
The butterfly formed his chrysalis while in a jar, after about a week he emerged.  This variety of butterfly uses the passionflower vine as a host plant.  I've been working on increasing the number of vines in my yard. I know of a spot where they grow wild and I will go and take vines to put in my own yard. The area where they grow gets mowed from time to time, which kind of sucks for the butterflies because then they have no vines to eat while they wait for them to grow back.  I've found the most successful way to transplant is to pull up as much of the root as possible. You will get some, but not enough to sustain the plant in most cases. I dip the "root" in rooting hormone and put it in a terracotta pot that rests in a pan of water. I keep these plants in filtered sunlight. In about a week I have a nice strong root system and the plant does well.  I have a flower bed that I'd love to just fill with wild vines of green so the butterflies have plenty to eat. Hopefully I can get back to the patch of vines before the lawn mower man comes!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Going Green

This beautiful collection including my newest little hedgehog set was created by my EliteSixteen team mate DeDe of SwedeHeartVintage . I am enamored of all things green and woodland!

I have been once again trying to create the garden of my dreams. We've been having a horrible drought for the last few years so it's been tough. Watering is a miserable chore once we hit the middle of summer. Normally we would have rain storms every single afternoon but last summer we got totally cheated and had very few. I'm trying to be very careful to plant things that I know will thrive so I had to longingly walk past the beautiful foxgloves and heliotropes when at the garden center.

A big thing for me is planting things that attract wildlife. Last year my husband and I went out hunting and brought back samples of wild passionflower vine, which we rooted and planted. It's sturdy, not quite as showy as the cultivated varieties but infinitely superior at keeping up with hungry caterpillars.

The caterpillars are such a wonderful educational source for my children as they complete their life cycles. This is a gulf fritillary caterpillar and when it is mature it will look like this: The Gulf Fritillary Butterfly . When they near time to create a chrysalis often we will bring them inside so that we can watch the process.  Our garden has host plants for about 10 different species of butterflies at least.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Studio Cats

Our youngest cat, Simba, is an artist at heart. Named for the Swahili word for lion, because it would be hard to find a kitten more adventurous and courageous.  We had a devil of a time keeping him away from our unusually large (95+ lbs) greyhound when we first brought him home.  Our greyhound is so fond of cats that he thinks he himself is a cat, but he is not used to dealing with a 6-8 week old kitten, and can be a little rough.
  At 6 months of age Simba continues to approach every new situation as an adventure. He sits, barely able to keep from dipping his paws in my watercolor paint water, and watches me paint. He looks at the images and looks back at me as if to say "how did you do that?"  When I'm sculpting, he's a bit of a problem. I don't know how many times I have left a piece while I took a short break only to find Simba standing on it  and squishing his toes into the clay.  It can be frustrating, but at the same time I really love that he is so captivated by my work.  And now I must go and smooth yet another pawprint from a bowl I'm working on!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What's New

I'm in the process of trying (once again) to create some ceramic mobiles.  Every time I decide to do this I get sidetracked and never manage to complete them.  This time I'm using some great old pieces of embroidered and eyelet fabrics to create a pattern. I think I'm going to start with three "dangles" instead of planning some huge piece. I REALLY need to apply the less is more mantra to more of my life's issues. I tend to over think a lot. I'm going to force myself to keep this simple. Stay tuned for further developments! ;)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Welcome Poppy!

As a very young child I became a lover of Beatrix Potter books. One of my favorite stories was of Mrs. Tiggywinkle, my first introduction to hedgehogs. I always found them fascinating and they continue to be one of my favorite creatures to sculpt in clay. My husband (ever patient in my love of animals) gave me a baby hedgehog for my birthday. We named her Poppy, inspired by the prickly poppies that we discovered growing wild near our home. Our Poppy has a coat every bit as prickly as her namesake...well, maybe not quite THAT prickly.  Although she's prickly she's a cuddler too. I'm amazed at how quickly we've become friends. She loves to get up next to my skin and snuggle up, smoothing her quills back so she doesn't prick.  She actually reminds me of a tiny little dog. She will look up at me with her dark eyes and then tuck her little head into my hand and yawn, sticking out her long pink tongue.  I've learned that when I want to hold her, I wake her up by calling her name and giving her a little time before picking her up, now she's easier to get going than my own daughter is!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Loving Lichens

Today I enjoyed a long hike in the woods, enjoying the flora and fauna and searching for inspiration.
I am so attracted to mosses, lichens, and mushrooms! Lichens hold a big attraction because of the gorgeous shades of green (my favorite color).  I had to snap a photo of this stump, clad in several types of lichens. We had a stormy night so the lichens and mosses were extremely green and bright.  Lichens are actually a composite organism composed of a fungus and an algae.

I've been experimenting with creating some porcelain lichen pieces, trying to emulate the look and color.  My first piece is this tea light burner, but I'm working on creating jewelry for lichen lovers (haha).

I'm working on a tutorial for sculpting mushrooms that I should be adding to the end of the week!

As a "thank you" to any blog readers I have a 15% coupon code for use at my Etsy store Code: Mushroom

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blasting Away Creative Block (well trying to)

So, I've always been inspired by nature. My parents have a copy of my first drawing ever,  I drew it at about 18 months. I called it a frog, it slightly resembled a grasshopper, but they were very excited about when I showed them.  I remember being about 3 years old begging for my Mom to help me make a sort of butterfly paper doll. At that time my toddler hands had not caught up with the creations in my mind. My mother patiently followed my stern dictation and drew a butterfly with a lady's face for me to color.

As an adult I'm almost frantic at times to tap into the creativity that fueled my childhood.  The imagination of my youth, a devoted playmate , now after years of squelching her in the pursuit of practicality , isn't always there to help me when I'm stuck.  So I've had to become more resourceful in drawing her out.  I've learned that what makes me shine personally, is nature. For some, it might be something else, but I think there is enough in nature to inspire anyone.

1. OBSERVATION- go outside and observe-watch the birds, set up a feeder if necessary, watch the way the sunlight hits the trees, look at the details on the back of a leaf. Lift up a rock and watch the life scurrying around beneath it.  If this isn't an option, spend some time watching wildlife films. "Life" is fantastic and beautifully filmed .  I think that documentary could inspire a rock.

2. RECONNAISSANCE- and I know that this isn't an option for everyone, but this is a vital part of my process, go for a walk. I take along a recycled plastic grocery bag, for found objects, leaves, bones ( I know this sounds a little gross), moss, feathers, stones, and shells. If it's not to big, or going to damage the ecosystem by my taking it, I take it.  When I walk, I guess it's really more like hiking, I leave the trail, I walk through the forest like a deer, smelling the fragrance of warm pine needles, rotten old trees, sweet wildflowers, and rich earth.  My mind is open, unburdened, and the ideas begin to flow.  I take lots of photos, which usually don't have a lot of high quality, but help recapture the feeling I had while walking.

  Once I get home, I look through my bag of finds and photos and the creative juices begin to flow. Music can be really inspiring too. One of my current favorites is The Cave Singers. They have a nice folky sound that makes you want to commune with nature. "Hen of the Woods" is my favorite song of theirs. Iron and Wine is good too, extremely calming!

If you're at all like me, and very inspired by nature. I can guarantee these suggestions will help blast away the scourge of creative block!