My blog has moved

You will be automatically redirected to the new address.

If that does not occur, please visit;.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Buried Treasure

~ A [mostly] true tale of turquoise and intrigue ~

The year was 1903 and she was on the run.  She had wrapped a black scarf over her long braids, the edges pulled close around the contours of her face.  In the deep pockets of her stolen sailor pants were crammed every possession she could call her own; both honestly earned and pick-pocketed with nimble fingers.  Her feet were bare, calloused, browned, and she swung her legs with a man’s stride.  She skirted the edge of the river, avoiding the thorny berry brushes trailing water, listening for dogs and the sounds of pursuit. 
But the night was silent aside from the occasional slap of the current on deadwood snags.  As the moon rose higher, she began to breath a little freer, her heart beating a little slower.
She needed a place to rest but more importantly, a place to hide.  A place to bury the treasures wrapped tightly in her pockets, a place she could find again once the coast was clear, after her face was forgotten by the local vigilantes.  A place she could leave the Box.

The Box held both the reason for her run and the hopes for her future.  The label was already peeling away from the sliding lid, but the wood was still deeply scented with cigars.  Inside, bundled in a length of buckskin, was the turquoise.  Big, beautiful hunks colored like the waters she sailed in the South Pacific, tiny, delicate slivers whose intensity was rivaled only by the most exotic of butterflies, some clear and flat like a morning sky, others speckled with ebony veins.  But every single one a beauty.  She hadn’t meant to steal them, but when the color caught her eye, she couldn’t look away.  That rare and luscious color was worth a small fortune, enough to buy a horse, food to fill a knapsack, and enough silver to hide in brand new boot heels when she rode North.

She was hungry, two days on the run hungry.  As the moon began to dip behind the treeline she found the spot.  Two young cottonwoods, slanting away from each other like shy lovers, formed a perfect V, framing the pre-dawn moon.  She worked quickly, hands digging in the soft soil at their base, until the hole was twice the depth of her precious cargo.  Hesitating momentarily, she buried the box and said a quick prayer into the night, more concerned with the safety of her glowing turquoise than with her person.  And with that, she slipped away on muffled toes under the cover of an inky sky.

It was 2009 and my parents were welcoming the dawn song from the hulls of two forest green kayaks.  They had paddled upstream, as was their routine, while the air still held the chill of night, before the beavers could be heard slapping tails and splashing at the river’s edge.  The sunrise was thick with golden light and the flashing of the sky on silky currents.  As they turned their kayaks midstream, to float easily with the river, an angular shape caught their eyes.  A worn wood box, water stained and sun faded, was lodged at the base of one, or was it two, mighty cottonwoods.  With a bit of work they managed to paddle close, fighting off brambles and snags, leaning perilously far out, working the edges of the box with fingertips until they could pry it loose.

And inside, well, that part of the story you’ve already heard.
And that's the honest truth.  A glorious host of turquoise cabochons truly were wrapped tight in leather and a cigar box and plucked from the muddy banks of the Mokelumne River by my parents.
 They contain more magic, more history, more story than can be quantified by my simple prose.

I've set them simply, oxidized them lightly.  Four pairs, one traveling to my mother (as she was the one to find the stones and deserves to wear this magic on her lobes), the other three I offer to you.  You'll find them in the shop momentarily...
* * * * *
And on that note:
Happy Friday to you ALL!  May your weekends be filled with swashbuckling tales!
~ Umber ~

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Very Quick This and That

I know I may have said it before, but I mean it more every time I utter the words:
Thank You.
The women [and men too] who make up this bloggy-world simply never cease to amaze me with their kindness, encouragement, belief and support.

I am in awe.

Like, full rainbow ring around the sun awe.
In other news, today promises to be another day full of hustle (wait.  is it Wednesday? holy... ) so I'm popping in here and bouncing right back out, scruffy jeans, beat-up tennies, and another cup of joe all on the agenda.

Oh!  And in our talks about dog numero dos (ah yes, we're already chatting rather obsessively about growing the pack) we came across this yesterday.  It was the best thing I saw all day.  Thank god for the internet.

See you tomorrow!
~ Umber ~

Sunday, June 19, 2011

They've Arrived!!!

I invited them in for Sencha and cookies.
They stayed through the gin and tonic hour.
And now I'm VERY pleased to say, they're trotting their papery little behinds on over to the Shop!  It's high time we had another round of postcards, don't you think?  After all, mail is one of my favorite things on this green earth, so why don't we all send a little more of it!
Collections: A Plethora of Post

I'm a fiend for collecting.  I stuff feathers in mason jars.  I pile stones on window ledges.  I love looking at bones, smoothing fingertips along antlers, finding sea glass in jacket pockets, driftwood in zippered bags, pressed ferns in books and eucalyptus pods in the consol of the car.  I adore bringing the outdoors in, steeping myself in nature while I cook, clean, work, relax, connecting... connecting... to that dust which I am made of and the world which inspires my breath and hands.
In my own home I compulsively arrange these particles of beauty for no other reason that it fills my soul and brings joy to my heart to surround myself with that which I love.  In that spirit, these cards came along and nearly arranged themselves; I just acted as the conductor in their little polka party.

And so with that said, I offer you my newest series of post: a limited edition set of four cards (plus a little bonus love), thick stock and glossy faces, images of small vignettes, little collections.  All items in these photos have either been created by me, collected by my hands, or gifted by those who know me well.  They hold stories, they tell tales.  They've traveled the world and seen more history than I can even imagine.  And now, in postcard form, they're ready to travel the globe.

Pens and Pencils UP!
Letter Writers Unite!
Let's send some cheer through this ol' postal service and light up mailboxes everywhere!

* * * * *

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Friday Confessional: June 17th 2011

(It's been... well, a while since my last confession)
Confession Number 842:  I like to eat in the shower.  It's one of those things best said quick and snappy, like pulling off a bandaid.  There is no food shame here, I'm not sneaking it.  I just like to take a bite with me.  Now I know there are LOADS of people out there who can get behind a shower beer (myself included), and can absolutely get behind a glass of Pino Grigio in the bath, but this goes a bit further.

Just yesterday I caught myself popping into a pipping hot shower with a carrot in one hand and a stick of mozzarella in the other.  It's like my own little version of a swim-up bar and snack shack.

I feel absolved of my snackage sins and scrubbed clean.

Alright chickadees and chickadudes, don't leave me high and dry here.  Give me your Friday confessions!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Offerings: The New-New

Stone Feathers: Collections
Stone Feathers: Collections
Colored like the ocean at dusk when pelicans hover and sunlight lingers only in tidepools.

Stone Feather No 26: The Days I Find The Blues
There is something about those days, the days I find blue feathers, the days I know luck smiles down upon me.

Winged: A Sea Stone
A full wing, because sometimes one needs to feel the full span and scope those feathered phalanges can stretch.
* * * * *

Every time I finish a new batch of work, I gather them close, lay them out, and declare them all my new favorites.

*In the shop momentarily...*

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Art Is Not A Choice

a choice is made every time you step foot into a studio, every time you pick up pen and ink, pencil and brush, hammer and torch, a hide of leather, a bolt of fabric, a sack of clay, whatever the chosen art form happens to be.
It take a choice to produce that which you feel in your heart-soul and mind's-eye; it takes choosing to sit at your craft for longer hours than may be comfortable, to keep pressing onward when your medium falters and technical problems threaten your sanity; it takes choosing to believe in the work of your hands enough to dedicate your time, your sweat, your tears, your hopes and your dreams.
But when I say
"Art Is Not A Choice"
I am talking not about production but about ART.  That thing which is so much bigger than rendering an accurate drawing or crafting the perfect word for a poem.  That thing that defies easy definition, because it spans a spectrum between simply recognizing the humble beauty in dandelions all the way to painting the Sistine Chapel.  Art is a part of our human DNA, it is a lens upon our vision, it is a surge in our hearts, and whether or not we act upon it, it most certainly exists within each and every one of us.

I believe that we are created beings, and therefore creation and creativity run rich in our marrow.
I believe that we are all blessed with imagination, with vision.
I believe that no matter what we label (or do not label) ourselves as, art pumps in and through our systems just as reliably as our more visceral physiology.
I believe that while Art and "making" are intrinsically connected, they are not one and the same.

Now naturally we can not all be painters or writers or sculptors or smiths (and thank god!  We NEED the people gifted with powerful left brains!) but I've always been rather offended by the idea that Art only exists in "artists."  I believe with every fiber of my being that All people hold a spark, wound into the path of their fingerprint or delicately stretched across their tongue.  I believe that even if one is not a "maker," one still has Art singing in every mitochondria.

Art Is Not A Choice
because Art lives within us.  When the flame of life first rushed our splitting cells, Art was right there.  It may become a little dusty around the edges, we may forget we hold it, even deny it, but it is still there, permanently attached to our eternal souls.
Some time back, when I first took this mantra on for myself, it was at a time when I was struggling with putting hours in the studio.  When it had been a stretch of time since my last finished painting, when a seed of doubt whispered "you've forgotten how to make pictures."  I had two shows fast approaching, a work schedule that dipped into any and every hour of the week, and a choking sense of anxiety that I would flop.  I spent one long afternoon alone in the studio, ranting at powers unseen until I finally collapsed in a weepy pile and slept on the dirty floor.  When I awoke, bits of sawdust and dried paint stuck to my cheek, I felt a clarity, a calmness I had not felt in a long time.  And I painted.  And I remembered.  And magic happened.  But most importantly, I understood this: I would need to work at my craft, I would need to dedicate my time, but Art, ART would never leave me because ART was inside of me.

So I tell you this with perfect assurance today:
Wherever you are, whatever your level of creating or making or collecting or seeing,

And that is why I say Art Is Not A Choice.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wake-up Call, er, Scurry.

The great white hunter has struck again.
The mirror in the bath still thick with fog and damp towels hung to dry.  Bare feet on carpet with nothing else but a birthday suit.  And company, oh the company, trotting in proud as punch, followed by the second and third manner of beasts (eager to participate in the excitement), with a squealing, wriggling, slightly damaged gopher.  

And I'm here to say:
Stark Naked + Gopher Running through the Bedroom - One Husband = A stream of language that would make your grandma blush.
I'm a proud kitty mamma, but next time, Sing-sing, make sure he's dead, ok?

Monday, June 6, 2011

BC Bought a New Hat

... and it took me approximately 22 hours to steal it.
(Isn't there something quite fabulous about stealing clothes from your significant other?  Whenever BC is gone I pull out his old sweatshirts and prance around the house in them.  He's always worried that they stink like man, but I think they smell like all the comfort in the world)
At ANY rate, this hat was purchased expressly for an EVENT, said event being my first art show opening in California since moving back last year.  I'm also here to tell you I failed miserably at documenting the affair and instead chatted non-stop while swilling white wine.  However I am quite all right with my prioritization as there is something magical about discussing art, especially in a little spot as charming as Shipwreck (if you are in town, or passing through, the show will be up for the month of June - pop on in!).
(in lieu of loads of fabulous show photos... my barren walls)

So now, this morning, I sit and write to you under Brother Nip who looks like a little lost skull in an expanse of white and scattered nail holes.  What this REALLY says to me is this:

It's time to start packing.
We're Moving

Yes, BC and I have been fairly nomadic for the duration of our marriage, living in more places than can be counted on one hand.  And it's time to pack up once again, evaluate our belongings, and prepare for a new home.
When we first moved back to California, into this house, we thought we'd log more years here than anywhere else before.  However back in February an opportunity arose with a home less than an hour away that we knew we couldn't pass up.
River-front property.
Double sized studio.
One acre of redwood, cedar, birch, maple, cherry blossom, lilac, wild rose, blackberries, salmonberries and more ferns than one could possibly count.

When we first saw it, the house was a wreck.  To be direct, when we left, BC turned to me and said "Please tell me you saw something good because that place looks like a hell-hole."  Luckily I did, and even in it's state of nasty-carpets-that-smelled-like-cat-pee, busted-windows, invasive-weeds-everywhere, and the most hilarious 8-year-old girl graffiti on every wall (the studio to-be had a 7-foot piece in neon pink spray paint that said "smile"), the house felt like it had good bones.  Musty bones that had not seen love in many years, but bones that held a certain sense of peace and inherent happiness, like it had seen joy and heard laughter and was ready for that again.

So now, months later, we're nearing the finish line.  Last week we picked flooring.  We bought a very sexy gas range.  We crossed our fingers tight as the contractor promised (for the umpteenth time) that he would be done and out in under two weeks.  I've measured and laid out the studio on paper to a perfect "T" (or so I think.  Studio tend to be the sort of thing one must work in a while before cozying into every corner).  And now, it's time to pack.

I'm preparing work for one last shop update before the studio is carefully tucked away and I go on work hiatus until we've officially taken new residence.
For now, I'll leave you with the world's smallest sneak peek: our front door in Fireball Orange.
Cheerio Chickadees!
~ Umber ~