Making Crafty Magic

Tip of the Cap: The Nature Makers

I just wanted to share with you a few of the makers who have been absolutely blowing my mind lately (yup, my mind has been bottled, boggled and blown by them). These are the folks that can take something as simple as a stick and turn it into pure magic. I’m constantly astounded by their innate ability to artfully and respectfully incorporate natural objects and materials into their work. To me, they’re a cut above the rest. They inspire me to keep moving forward while at the same time intimidating the heck out of me with their talent. Darn them! I appreciatively and frustratingly shake my fist at their creative genius!

Roots and Feathers: What can I say about Laura that I haven’t said already–without sounding too much like a stalker? Probably not much. Here’s what I’ve had to say about her in the past:

I completely adore and idolize Laura. She’s just the whole package. Her site is a blend of bohemian fashion, jewelry design, astrology, nature appreciation, and soul-searching. She’s completely unafraid to reveal her most deepest truths and personal struggles. This honesty and fearlessness has garnered her legions of devoted, supportive fans, including myself. Plus, her and her hubby are so darn cute together! They warm my chilly little heart!

roots and feathersIf you like what you see, just know that Laura goes out and collects the feathers, branches and bones herself. These are truly made from start to finish by her sweet, creative little hands.

Sacra Luna: Okay, it’s hard for me to even fathom that 2013 marked Ana Marie’s first year as a jewelry designer. WTF?! Are you kidding me? She literally can’t keep anything listed in her Etsy shop for more than a few minutes. That’s of course because she’s freakin’ awesome at what she does. Here’s a great example of someone who is successfully using Instagram as their primary marketing vehicle. She takes the most haunting photos of her work, pairs them with beautiful statements about nature and the world around us, tells people when she’s putting her work in the Etsy shop and each piece is sold within minutes of posting! And she’s a sweetheart who puts up with me verbally drooling all over her Instagram posts. I can’t wait to see what 2014 and beyond brings for her!

sacra lunaHere are some of my personal faves:sacra lunaWild Ivy Creations: Okay, if you only do one thing today, make it hitting the “follow” button on Natasha’s Instagram account. Just the dog and cat photos alone will make your life worth living. Natasha seamlessly and uniquely blends natural elements with metalwork. She’s got a real gift for design and her shop offers a wide variety of items such as jewelry, note cards, ear cuffs, fans, wall art and everything inbetwixt. This is the first shop I would visit if I was unsure of what to get someone.

wild ivy creationsHere are some of my personal faves:

wild ivy creationsGipsy Dharma: Okay, I am not a leather girl but I’m totally cool if others embrace it (no judgements here). I do my best to avoid wearing it because I really don’t want to support the evil empire that is the factory farming industry. If I’m going to put some leather on my bod, it’s probably going to be from the thrift shop. With that being said, Gipsy Dharma gives me much, much, much, waaaay too much pause. Their boots are some of the most gloriously crafted things I’ve ever seen on this very planet. I’m drooling just thinking about slipping my feet into a supple pair and lacing them up. Ahhhh….

Gipsy_DharmaAnd to placate my leather issue, here’s what the FAQ section of their website states:

Do you make vegan boots? Where does your leather come from?

I’ve been trying for months now, however I’m still searching for the right materials to do the job, but I assure you that I’m trying really hard! Some materials just do not work with my designs and others that do work would more than double the cost of the boots. Also, I’ve had a few people write to me, expressing their surprise that I’ve still not been able to have vegan boots made. Well, the truth is that it is very difficult to find alternatives to leather, that do not produce very harmful chemicals as they are being made and do not pollute the environment for hundreds of years after they have been deposed of. So a lot of people who are eager to save the environment seem to be missing a point here, because non leather unfortunately does not necessarily mean good for the planet…

As for the second question, I make sure that all my leather comes from sustainable sources, i.e. no animal is ever killed for their hides.

So for now, it looks like leather may be harder to replace than one would think but I give Gipsy Dharma props for trying. No matter, I’ve found a solution to my inner conflict. I plan to win a pair. Yup, each week they give away a free (shipping included) pair of boots. Lady Luck, please, let’s finally make friends or call a truce because this girl needs a new pair of cruisers! And yes, they make super-fly dude boots too.

Farm Life, Making Crafty Magic

My cat-like reflexes vs. the sheep from hell.

socks and flip flops
It’s high fashion here all the way.

Greetings from the snowy depths of Connelly, New York! These back-to-back winter storms picked the perfect time to pummel us: my two days off! That suits me just fine since there’s nothing I hate more than driving in bad weather. I did however get the most awesome tires put on my car a few days ago–they cut through snow like a hot knife through butter–but still I’d rather be warm indoors instead of cold and wet working outside. Sadly, work is coming too soon. Weekends are just an awful tease sometimes.

Before I forget, I have an update on the fox that was found slumbering in the barn. A rehabber took it and instead of rabies (people seemingly jump to that conclusion about every sick/injured wild animal) it had a severe case of mange, which was treatable. I’m so relieved there was a happy ending because there was some mention of having the police come out to shoot it. Craziness!

Work was work. I wish I could tell you that my body has grown accustomed to it but that’s not the case at all. I’m still sore: from my fingers to my toes. I have a kick-ass shin splint that makes it so I have to hobble along. I naturally waddle as it is so adding a hobble to my waddle probably looks very special, to say the least. Still, it’s gotten a little easier. My feed runs are going smoother and I’m getting faster which pleases everyone. I’m becoming more comfortable working around horses but that’s probably because I’m now terrified of roosters AND sheep. Good gracious my whole world is turning upside down!

cows, goats and gators
Clockwise starting at the top left: The calves tasting the gator.; Caleb the cow enjoying his hay. I think we’re related because he has the Hazard chin.; The calves just chillin’ out.; Playing got your nose with Mr. Tumnus.

On Monday they sent me in to clean Briggs & Stratton’s stall. These are two of the most fearsome, loathsome sheep you’ll ever want to meet. They are cute on the outside but pure evil on the inside. I always want to think animals and people have good intentions but that’s soooo not the case with these two. They warned me right from my very first day to just stay the heck away from them because they don’t like people. I guess they enjoy luring visitors by looking really cute and friendly and as soon as you reach in to pet them they ram your fingers and hands into the metal gate. Knowing this, I was not thrilled to go in with them. However, they armed me with a large water cooler jug and told me to hit them on the head if they came near me. I thought that was pretty cool, in a sick way. I mean, how often do you get permission to actually hit something on the head by your employer? Never! So I looked at it as a potential stress-reliever/challenge.

Well, my optimism didn’t last long. Ten minutes went by of them leaving me alone and then Stratton cornered me in their stall, head butted the water jug right out of my hand sending it flying into the yard, and all I could do was dodge his full-force ramming. I was terrified. I grabbed him by both of his horns, spun him around and kicked his butt out the door. I was hoping this would deter him but instead this made him even angrier and more persistent. Meanwhile, Briggs was sneaking up behind me in the hopes of ramming me from behind. They were working together with the goal being to pummel me to death. I did what I could to artfully dodge them while I made my way to the gator to radio for backup. While Alex was coming I waited in the gator–which has no doors and the windshield was completely covered in snow–I had no idea where they were as they each circled around me like hungry sharks. Every few seconds one would appear and charge into the gator to ram me and I’d have to quickly jump to the other seat and jump back because the other one would immediately do the same from the other side.

When Alex finally got there all he did was yell at me to do something or I would never get out of there. I had no idea what to do. Eventually, they walked over to him standing at the fence-line with the intentions of luring him into a hand pounding. This gave me a window of opportunity to drive the gator out. Then Alex demonstrated how he deterred them which consisted of seriously pounding on them with the water jug. I guess I just wasn’t aggressive enough, even in the face of being hurt. I truly believe that beating up on anything, especially an animal, is wrong (which it is) so I felt bad for having to hit a sheep–even if my attempts didn’t even phase him. (Please note that sheep–because they ram one another–have extremely thick skulls, so no amount of smacking with a water jug will ever result in seriously harming one.) Still, it just felt like I was perpetuating some sort of vicious cycle.

I’m sure my work would not appreciate me telling you all this but there’s an important lesson here. Animals aren’t stupid. When they start their lives being abused, they learn that humans aren’t to be trusted and they act accordingly. Briggs & Stratton were rescued from a canned hunt operation so there’s a good chance they were mistreated. With that being said, the Catskill Animal Sanctuary is truly a sanctuary for all animals and I admire them for accepting those two demon-seeds for who they are and just letting them live out their days in peace.  Just because they’re not lovable doesn’t mean they’re not deserving.

Now that you know all that, I encourage you to watch this video of Briggs & Stratton and laugh along with me. I like their captions and their cut-aways. As soon as you see the footage cut away, the person behind the camera was probably mauled!

petunia the pitbull, fantasy book, natural art
Clockwise from top left: Petunia sleeping in.; Some of my shells and feathers getting ready to transform into art.; Tome of the Undergates…great read! I can’t suggest it enough!; Some of my photos transfered to canvas, sorting my shell collection and figuring out how I’m going to mix these medias.

Aside from that unpleasantness, all is very well. I’m even managing to get some artsy fartsy work done here on the home front. I have tons of shells, horseshoe crab tails, crab shells, invasive water chestnuts, acorns, nuts and feathers lying around that really need to be put to good use so I’m incorporating them into art pieces. I’ll keep you posted on what I come up with.

water chestnut art piece