Monday, December 29, 2008

Green Mamba -- Featured Etsy Artist!

Here's my salute to one of the smartest, wisest sellers on the Fora at Etsy: GreenMamba. Her avatar on the site is a big, green eye, and whenever I see that eye, I know I'm going to read a post full of common sense, humour filtered through a humane mind with a commendably even temper.

She and her two daughters also make AMAZING stuff :)

Like the mini top hat, above. It's trimmed with red marabou feathers and red and black checked ribbon and it's simply divine and more than a tad theatrical. Which I like ... I want to plan an entire costume around it!

GM says of the family team, who live in Houston, Texas:
We are drei Frauen: mother and daughters, working a little of our eccentric magic to bring you fun and funky handmade goodness.

Mostly, we work individually on whatever is inspiring us at the moment, though you may see occasional collaborations. Full credit is given in each listing to the designer/creator.

Pssst . . . Wonder who is posting in the fora with that mesmerizing green gaze?
It's always me, GreenMamba, the matriarch of this li'l operation.

This is GM's Lolita mini top hat with pink ribbon and bows. The mother and daughters also make plushies, eye patches, bows and other items with a distinctly Japanese sensibility.

So here's to GreenMamba -- mother and daughters -- intelligence and design with a kick somewhere between goth and kawaii.

GreenMamba's shop at Etsy

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas, and thanks to Eclipse!

A very Happy Christmas (or festive season of your choice) to you all!

I'd just like to thank HeyMichelle at Etsy for organizing a very special round of Front Pages specially chosen by Etsy sellers and I'd like to thank Eclipse for very kindly including me in her wonderful treasury "Friendship".

Thanks so much, Eclipse. I'm tremendously honoured, both by your choice and by the company with which you've put me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Turandot Jade Bracelet

At the beginning of the summer, before I got crazy busy with opera (which is how I spend my summers -- well, opera and sailing) I made many, many pieces of jewellery which were sold on consignment in a wonderful shop in nearby Chester, Nova Scotia, the Warp and Woof. A big shout-out to Gwen -- thanks so much!

I kept some of the pieces back, though, and this is one of them. I wasn't sure at first I could part with it, but I've listed it now on ArtFire.

It's all jade, all the way, wirewrapped with copper and oxidized and sealed. I LOVE wirewrapping, especially for bracelets, because it makes them insanely durable as well as being a design element. It's also damned fun to do when I'm sick of knitting.

I named it after Turandot, the eponymous princess of Puccini's last opera (the debate about pronouncing or not pronouncing the final "t" seems to have been settled: don't pronounce it, because Puccini didn't and the text setting backs him up. This sucks because when I was becoming an opera gal the fashion was FOR pronouncing it. Now I have to learn a whole new way to be cool -- in opera, that ain't easy, believe me).

So Turandot gets a bracelet and loses a t, and I get to blog about it :)

99 things meme

  • Things I’ve done in bold.
  • Things I haven’t done but would like to do in italics.
  • Things I haven’t done and never, ever want to do in plain text.
  1. Started your own blog. (Ironic question)
  2. Slept under the stars.
  3. Played in a band — or musical. (I was a trumpet player in high school)
  4. Visited Hawaii.
  5. Watched a meteor shower.
  6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
  7. Been to Disneyland. (No, please, God, no. I can think of few things I'd hate more)
  8. Climbed a mountain.
  9. Held a praying mantis.
  10. Sang a solo. (Every day, baby, every day)
  11. Bungee jumped.
  12. Visited Paris.
  13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
  14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
  15. Adopted a child.
  16. Had food poisoning. (Oy.)
  17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.(I don't even want to walk around the base of the Statue of Liberty :)
  18. Grown your own vegetables. (The potatoes rocked. The brussels sprouts -- not so much.)
  19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
  20. Slept on an overnight train. (Toronto to Montréal - so much fun!)
  21. Had a pillow fight. (Won.)
  22. Hitchhiked. (I know ...)
  23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.
  24. Built a snow fort. (There used to be more snow when I was a kid ...)
  25. Held a lamb. (chop?)
  26. Gone skinny dipping.
  27. Run a Marathon.
  28. Ridden a Gondola in Venice.
  29. Seen a total eclipse.
  30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
  31. Hit a home run. (hysterical laughter)
  32. Been on a cruise.
  33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
  34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.
  35. Seen an Amish community.
  36. Taught yourself a new language.
  37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
  38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
  39. Gone rock climbing.
  40. Seen Michelangelo’s David.
  41. Sung karaoke. (I am very, very bad at it, as most opera chicks are when they try to sing "Heard it through the Grapevine after a couple of Daquiris)
  42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. (obligatory family car trip -- I though Rotarua was much more interesting :)
  43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.
  44. Visited Africa.
  45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
  46. Been transported in an ambulance. (Several times, actually)
  47. Had your portrait painted.
  48. Gone deep sea fishing. (I've been deep sea drinking, does that count? :)
  49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
  50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. (The Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty -- what's with the climbing? I get vertigo, already)
  51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
  52. Kissed in the rain.
  53. Played in the mud.
  54. Gone to a drive-in theater.
  55. Been in a movie. (I've been on televison, does that count? :)
  56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
  57. Started a business.
  58. Taken a martial arts class.
  59. Visited Russia.
  60. Served at a soup kitchen.
  61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.
  62. Gone whale watching.
  63. Gotten flowers for no reason.
  64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma. (They won't let me :()
  65. Gone sky diving.
  66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
  67. Bounced a check. (several times, sadly)
  68. Flown in a helicopter.
  69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
  70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
  71. Eaten Caviar.
  72. Pieced a quilt.
  73. Stood in Times Square.
  74. Toured the Everglades.
  75. Been fired from a job.
  76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.
  77. Broken a bone. (That damned horse ...)
  78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
  79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
  80. Published a book.
  81. Visited the Vatican.
  82. Bought a brand new car.
  83. Walked in Jerusalem.
  84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
  85. Read the entire Bible.
  86. Visited the White House.
  87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
  88. Had chickenpox.
  89. Saved someone’s life.
  90. Sat on a jury.
  91. Met someone famous.
  92. Joined a book club.
  93. Lost a loved one.
  94. Had a baby.
  95. Seen the Alamo in person. (The WHAT? :)
  96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
  97. Been involved in a law suit.
  98. Owned a cell phone.
  99. Been stung by a bee.

This is a pretty US-centric, vanilla list, actually. I think I'll come up with a slightly edgier one, although that might turn out to be a bit too much like the old Purity Test :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wonderful love -- a new collage

Here's one of my most recent collages -- a 5 x 7 overpainted portrait of an unknown woman, circa 1924. The background colours are very warm earth tones, which contrast nicely with the cooler face and body of the figure.

I always paint in layers, because even though I'm treating the surface as a decorative plane, layers of colour (some thin, some thick) give the piece greater depth. I love the effect of colours on top of one another. It just fascinates me.

This piece is on stretched canvas, but I need to get out my guillotine and chop up some illustration board for some less expensive pieces, including some new ACEOs. I feel very inspired to paint, lately -- it's partly starting up at ArtFire that's given me a bit of an energy boost.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On this Winter Solstice -- some thoughts about Christmas

A very happy Yule to all who observe the Winter Solstice.

We're having a very toned-down Christmas this year. We're not buying a tree for the first time in my life. I'm not going to decorate. We're also giving almost no gifts this year, because the crazed consumerism around the Yuletide season makes me sad and anxious. I just want to unplug from that and curl up in my own little world of warmth and friendship.

Lately, I've been questioning the very ethics of buying ANYTHING that we don't really need. It's been preying on my mind that last couple of months, that buying handmade is just as wasteful and feeds our addiction to mindless consumption just as handily as buying anything else. I hasten to note that I am as addicted to consumption as the next North American (and I'm a natural-born entrepreneur) ... but it increasingly bothers me.

I am going to church on Christmas Eve, to sing "O Holy Night". I have had my issues with my particular church for a while, too (great, eh, consumerism and religion -- just don't get me started on politics :) so I'm cautiously optimistic. Or cheerfully apprehensive. or something. I dislike sentimentality and cant -- it's too easy and too cheap, especially at this time of year. I'm afraid I'm going to get both, in spade, but I'll try to stay positive.

We are going to have a nice big meal, with family and friends: turkey and everything that I think should go with turkey. A friend is bringing a trifle. My mum'll be there. My guy'll be there. We've got two great cats and we're going to adopt two more kittens. I think that's about all I need, really.

Who knows, maybe after decades of spiritual searching, I'm really a pagan after all?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Favourite Etsy Artists -- Immortal Longings

I think this artist's work is extraordinary. Award-winning English designer Elizabeth E. Schüch's Shakespeare-inspired illustrations are featured at Shakespeare's Globe Shop, The Royal National Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare and Shakespeare festivals in US/Canada. She says of her own art:

Blending character and architecture (or nature posing as architecture) to illustrate Shakespeare's stories, the series was inspired by the posters of Alfons Mucha. My original drawings were produced in ink and watercolour.

You don't have to visit Shakepeare's Globe to buy her work, either :) You can purchase pieces based on her graphic work (from bookmarks to journals to calendars to prints) through her Etsy Shop.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My love has eyes -- a new collage

This piece is based on a vintage photo of actress Susan Hayward, overpainted and combined with text from a vintage novel.

It's a bigger format than I usually work in for collage (it's 8" x 10") but I've been feeling the urge to spread out a bit :)

I love working with early examples of glamour photography -- reworking them, simplifying them to their essence. A strong image can be reduced almost infinitely, and I enjoy playing with different parts of an image -- making one part flatter, one part more defined.

This work is currently for sale at my ArtFire store.

New Art Fire Blog

Art Fire is one of the most exciting new websites I've come across, and true to my compulsive nature I've just started a blog to feature Art Fire Studio artisans and their work. Art Fired Up will feature several of my favourite artisans each week, with photos of their work and some information about them. Over time I hope it will give a picture of some of the most interesting studios at AF and the people who run them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Collage -- a beautiful poetic gesture

Here's my newest collage, "a beautiful poetic gesture". I was attracted by the strength of this vintage photo, and kept things very simple. Her face is just haunting: beautiful, almost sad, but with such a direct gaze.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Atlantic Provinces Street Team up to 46 members!

I love these guys. We're a group of Etsy sellers from all across Atlantic Canada (and Newfoundland and Labrador), who showcase a wide range of fabulous arts and crafts and some good old East Coast friendliness on our Team Blog.

Go, Team!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New collage ACEO -- Beginnings

Appropriately enough, this new work, a tiny collage entitled "Beginnings" is the first piece I've posted to my new Artfire store that has not first been featured at Etsy. :)

It feels good to make art again.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I've opened a new store -- on!

Well, after a busy summer and autumn, the time has come for me to transition from Etsy to a new sales venue.

This has been coming for a while, but I had an "aha" experience lately, and realize the effort I've put into being an Etsy-booster isn't being met by a reciprocal effort from them. In spite of all the recent changes, most particularly in staff, things seem to be getting worse, not better.

So I've started up a new shop at a new website:

My first experiences with it have been entirely positive. Joining is very easy and listing items is so simple and intuitive (all on one page, all images uploaded at the same time) that it made my head spin. (I understand some people have been having problems with IE, but I'm a Firefox user on a Mac, and had no troubles at all).

It'll take me a while to move things from Etsy over there, but I'm really looking forward to the fresh start!

Check it out!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Thanks again to JewelryObsession!

Almost two months ago I ordered a wonderful necklace from JewelryObsession at Etsy.

I was really happy with it when it arrived -- it's even more beautiful than its photos.

Here's my update -- my darling David took some photos of me in my Carmen costume (I'm singing Carmen down the South Shore of Nova Scotia this month (Maritime Concert Opera website) and I'm modelling that gorgeous necklace!

Thanks again, JO!

Friday, May 23, 2008

I hate being sick.

I've got a cold. A stupid, boring cold. I'm a singer, so I get absurdly neurotic about anything going on in my upper respiratory system, but this is the real thing.

I had an abortive voice lesson yesterday, and my wonderful teacher, after ten minutes of trying to clear the crap from my vocal cords, said, "That's it! Stop singing!" She very kindly led me to a health food store where, under her guidance I purchased a Neti Pot.

Do you know what a Neti Pot is? Have you made its acquaintance? It's a tool for "nasal irrigation" and it's the source of one of the most peculiar sensations I have ever experienced.

The idea is that you run warm saline solution from one nostril through the other, as demonstrated by the charming (if somewhat apprehensive-looking) young woman in the photo above.

It feels damned odd, let me tell you. And if your nose is very blocked (as mine is right now) nothing happens at all except a kind of dam effect where the water backs up and ... well, never mind.

But I shall persevere. I may even consider buying a Neti pot from this Etsy seller, who describes it, somewhat prosaically, as a "snot pot" :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Incredibly delicious body scrub from Pegasus Soaps!

Okay, I'm clean and showered, and here to tell you that Pegasus Soap's Sea Salt Body Polisher is divine. I bought some from this great Etsy seller at the beginning of this month, and I've used it almost every day -- mmmm. Just the right amount of gentle abrasion and it leaves my skin, honestly, feeling incredibly soft and smooth. Love it. It makes me feel damned touchable, which is devoutly to be wished.

Thank you, Pegasus Soap, for making me feel so good!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

New collages!

It's been a very, very long time since I created any art. I've been pretty busy with one thing and another, but tonight I sat down and made pretty little bird collages while watching (wait for it) Dexter (on dvd). Damn, it felt good.

(They don't seem particularly serial-killer-inspired, but there you go :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Atlantic Provinces Street Team has hit 33 members!

Our Etsy Street Team for the East Coast of Canada, the Atlantic Provinces Street Team, has just chalked up its 33rd member, and I'm so excited!

If you'd like to check this vibrant, talented group of artists and craftspeople out, you can find our group blog at Are you a seller on Etsy and live in the Maritimes of Canada? Want to join us? Just drop me a line!

The gorgeous work pictured above is by new APST member Jane Rovers, of Halifax.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Great Etsy Seller -- JewelryObsesssion!

Okay, I make a lot of jewellery, so the pieces I actually buy have to be really special and feature techniques that I just don't have. Here's an example. I just bought the above necklace, Nightshade, from Etsy seller JewelryObession, who's inspired by the jewellery of times past but recreates it using a mixture of techniques, including chain maille. I think her work is just stunning -- evocative, detailed and romantic.

I can't wait to get this lovely necklace and to wear it for a concert! Thanks again, JewelryObsession!

Please visit her store: JewelryObession at Etsy.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Want to get a bargain?

Of course, we all do. Well an enterprising Etsy seller, Dragon In Knots, has started the Etsy Secrets blog, which is nothing but coupons from Etsy sellers. How great is that? Some offers include discounts, buy one get one half price offers and free shipping. (I, myself, am offering a buy one, get one at half price offer on my earrings :)

For example, this adorable clock is just a sample of the pieces that you can buy from AllAboutTheButtons at 15% off! Check out the EtsySecrets blog today for details on how to claim these coupons!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Isolde Earrings Featured Here!

Thanks to Warmth in the North for her mention of my earrings on her blog. Bless you, my dear!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Etsy's Alchemy is Back

Alchemy was a feature of the first version of, where buyers who wanted a custom-made "whatever" could make requests, and sellers could bid on those requests -- a bit like submitting a tender for handcrafted goods.

Well, it's back.

Unfortunately, although it's a great idea, its current incarnation is anything but great.

There are no categories in Alchemy, so all the requests are lumped in together, making it darned hard for potential bidders to find items they can bid on.

Quite a few people are attempting to use Alchemy for trading, or for requesting non-handmade goods. There aren't enough Etsy admins assigned to policing Alchemy, so it's a bit of a mess. There's also no built in way for people to easily flag items that may be breaking the Alchemy Terms of Service -- strange for a website that depends almost entirely on its members policing other members (in the fora, for listings, etc.)

A huge ideological problem is that Alchemy, as it stands now, seems designed for bargain hunters. There are so many sellers on Etsy now (listing and relisting of items FAR outweighs sales) that there are invariably many who will make almost anything for almost nothing. This has encouraged potential buyers to list risible "ideal prices" for everything from sterling silver jewellery to logo design.

A lot of sellers are not happy about this.

As is the case with nearly every feature roll out since I joined last May, Etsy has apparently not thought the darned thing out before it foisted the feature on its community. They've had a LOT of time to work on this one -- it's just not good enough to release a half-assed version of what could be a great feature, and then just leave the community without answers.

The only update they've bothered to publish in their PR magazine is a list of all the good press they've received about the relaunch of Alchemy, noting that some online reviewer dubbed the feature "Genius".

Sorry, guys, it's not genius yet.

Friday, March 7, 2008

How cool is this?

I am so honoured!

One of my favourite jewellery designers, AncaNY, has not only dedicated a stunning necklace to me, but she's named it after me! I am practically speechless with delight and stunned by the compliment she's paid me.

Please, visit her Etsy store and check this amazing necklace out (as well as the rest of her gorgeous work!)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Great Etsy Seller -- verybigjen and her incredible pincushions!

After longing for one of these cute but creepy pincushions for ages, I finally bought one for myself yesterday. These tiny masterpieces are made by Etsy seller verybigjen. They are just under two inches tall and are customizable with regards to flesh colour and iris colour. How creepy is that? But definitely cool ...

Jen also makes a huge array of pincushions in other styles. Check out this large pincushion with a Japanese cherry blossom patttern appliqued onto it. Gorgeous!

Please visit her Etsy shop at!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Front page of, again

My Showcase, "Chocolate" made the front page of today! There are so many amazing artists on Trunkt that curating a collection like this is such a pleasure ... Thanks for choosing my showcase, Trunkt!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Custom collage artwork

Wow -- I've been MIA from my blog for a whole month! Yikes! It's that darned opera stuff, folks -- totally takes over my life from time to time. Ah well, it is my principal profession ... :)

Here's a piece I just completed today, for a darling patron of mine who has now commissioned two pieces from me. I really, really like the text she chose for this one! And we both agreed on turtle doves ...

I love creating custom art and am always happy to discuss any ideas folks have for pieces.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Great Etsy Seller -- ancaNY and her fabulous jewellery!

"I make jewelry because I love it and because I am nothing if I can't create. I love both new and old materials, I love unusual techniques and combinations, I love color and the way jewelry adorns a body."

Here's a little ode to one of my very favourite Etsy jewellers, AncaNY. This Romanian-born, New York-dwelling artisan jeweller creates stunning works of almost poetic beauty. (Above is a photo of her "La Reine" necklace, below is "Indian Summer".)

Not only is her jewellery divine, but she packages everything in the most sumptuous way. Receiving a parcel from her is a real experience!

I have a few of her pieces, and look forward to acquiring more, more more. Thank you so much for your wonderful work, Anca!

Please visit AncaNY's Etsy store for more beauty ...

Valse - ACEO original collage

Here's a little piece I made recently. I love assembling collages on acid-free illustration board -- it's so stable and smooth that it's great both for painting and pasting. It's also very easy to mail, which makes it a great support for pieces that are going to be popped in the post!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

An array of earrings!

Above: Chloe Earrings: beautiful stained and polished wooden beads topped with intricate brass bead caps and hung from brass kidney wires. These measure almost 2.5 inches from the tops of the wires.

Above: Viola Earrings: five substantial links of antiqued copper chain, with faceted firepolished crystal beads, finished with handmade copper earwires and headpins. These measure 1.75 inches from the bottom of the earwires.

Above: Charmaine Earrings: delicious caramel and brown handmade glass squares drizzled with pale blue and topped and tailed with brown glass cubes, all on brass findings. 1 inch tall from bottom of the french ear wires.

Above: Nirena Earrings -- brass filigree beads suspended from brass kidney wires. These measure 2 inches from the top of the ear wires.

Above: Antonia Earrings -- faceted peach aventurine beads with brass beadcaps, headpins and kidney wires.

Above: Miranda Earrings: 12 mm sponge coral beads with brass beadcaps, headpins and kidney wires.

Above: Juno Earrings: five substantial links of antiqued copper chain, with faceted peach aventurine rondelles, finished with handmade copper earwires and headpins. These measure 1.75 inches from the bottom of the earwires.

Above: Octavia Earrings: little faceted rondelles of green aventurine combined with brass bead caps, headpins and kidney wires.