Tuesday, September 27, 2011

From the voice of....: Halifax has opera! HSOW applications due...

Thanks to Elizabeth McDonald, a Canadian soprano and voice teacher, for posting info about the upcoming HSOW auditions:

From the voice of....: Halifax has opera! HSOW applications due...

She writes a great blog, with interesting articles and links of interest to singers, teachers and students. Check it out!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

WallCandy told to change her name

People ask you what you want to be when you grow up,” muses the 29-year-old Brooklynite. “I’ve always stood up for the little guy. -- Etsy founder Rob Kalin, in a 2010 interview with Readers Digest USA

Yes, I've noticed how you go to bat for the little people, Rob. People like Temple St Clair, who got tons of free publicity for her mass produced jewelry while trying to whip up a boycott against the use of legal coral by Etsy's own jewelry makers. Or indie musician Toro Y Moi, for whom Etsy sold tote bags packaged with digital download cards of his new album. Or all the very profitable faux vintage and mass-produced resellers you coach every day in ways to appear compliant with Etsy's ever more flexible Terms of Use.

Here's a real David and Goliath story and, as usual, Etsy seems to be siding with Goliath.

It's the story of WallCandy, a wonderful Canadian artist who's been on Etsy under that name since 2007. She's been told by Etsy that she has to change her name because a rich American, non handmade company wants it that way, regardless of jurisdiction, product type or common sense.

I don't know how this will work out, but I just wanted to help get the information out so that Etsy can't do this in secret.  I heart you, WallCandy.

WallCandy's blog post today

Thread about this on Unofficial Etsy Forums

Thread related to this on Etsy Forums

Monday, February 28, 2011

Last Day: first step of Steampunk aviator helmet

It's the last day of Thing-a-day, and my Thing today is my first draft of an aviator helmet:

I used the basic three piece coif pattern by Cynthia Virtue at http://www.virtue.to/articles/coif.html and altered it to fit my husband David's head.  I made the helmet from  some nice soft faux leather I had lying around the place.

It needs to be tweaked a bit, but I'm really happy with it and with the fabric!  When I get the basic shape right, I'll add d rings for goggles, some straps and maybe some random brass studs :)  More brass = more steampunk!

I'd like to thank the good folks at Thing-a-day for opening up the Thing to so many people this year, and to my friend Doug for telling me about it -- it's been a really wonderful experience doing my own Things and reading about, looking at and listening to the Things of others.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day Twenty-Seven (27): Props

I've been going to thrift stores and dollar store, looking for props and costume pieces for Tales of Hoffmann, and today I took a picture of the small pile of small pieces I've amassed:

We've all got stomach flu here, so this will have to do as my thing today :)

Day Twenty-Six (26): Cats!

We had a couple of people over the other day to mark David's birthday, and the cats got all excited, as they do, when the dining room table is rearranged for a party.  I just got the tablecloth on, and a vase of tulips in place, when all four cats trooped up to check it out.

I don't know if other multiple-cat companions notice this phenomenon, but we've noticed a sort of "monkey see, monkey do" rhythem to their curious explorations.  Generally one starts by checking out a new thing, then all the others have to follow suit.

I just sat down on a chair and waited.

First up was Ralph, the youngest and biggest.  He got on the table, and then lowered his undercarriage and sprawled, expansively, in front of the flower, as is his wont.  Then came Edmund, the elder male, who, typically, barely stayed in one place long enough for me to photograph him! 

Then came little Katie, who struck an elegant pose.  The only one who didn't get on the table was Emma, which surprised me.  She made up for it, later, by sitting on the coffee table and attempting to hypnotise people into giving her potato chips :)

Day Twenty-Five (25): Scarf gets longer!

Here's the current state of the scarf I'm knitting for Tales of Hoffmann -- it's about 3.5 feet long at the moment, and I'm heading for 6 feet :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day Twenty-Four (24): Scarf for Tales of Hoffmann

rI've been really busy (and sick) -- and I'm trying to catch up!
A few days ago I started working on a nice long scarf for Hoffmann this summer -- it's knitting up pretty quickly! Sorry no photo at this point ...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day Twenty-Three: Steampunk Earrings

I found some great solid brass Italian-made keyhole escutcheons today, and thought they'd make great steampunk earrings! Here they are, combined with brass and glass beads ....

Day Twenty-Two (22): Steampunk brooch

Okay, I'm totally immersed in steampunk style right now :) Here's a cameo brooch with a dangling dragonfly -- the only thing that makes it remotely steampunk is the fact that it's Victorian style in brass :)

This brooch is now for sale at my Artfire studio.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day Twenty-One (21): Finished fingerless glove!

Bob Cratchit, eat your heart out ... Okay, it's a little lumpy, but this is gonna work just fine :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day Twenty (20): starting knit wrist warmers

I'm doing some knitting these days, as I plan out some costume pieces I'll need for this summer's Tales of Hoffmann.  To that end, I'm making some trial wrist warmers, a.k.a. fingerless mitts ... The pattern is free online here:  http://400squareftliving.blogspot.com/2010/09/knitting-marys-merry-wristers.html

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day Nineteen (19): dangly, sparkly, pretty earrings!

Here's a pair of earrings I made using amber AB Chinese crystals I picked up in Toronto:

These earrings are now for sale at my Artfire Shop!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day Eighteen (18): black and copper earrings

And today I made a pair of earrings to go with my last spiral stitch bracelet!

Day Seventeen (17): black and rose and copper spiral stitch bracelet

I made another spiral stitch bracelet yesterday, this time featuring some very pretty fire polished glass beads, glittering with gold, copper and rose.  Copper toggle.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day Sixteen (16): spiral stitch bracelet

This afternoon I took a class at my local amazing bead shop, Java Bead, in Bridgewater Nova Scotia, where we learned the spiral stitch or DNA stitch.  This bracelet combines bronze firepolished glass beads and two sizes of seed beads, with an antique brass clasp and was SOOOO much fun to make!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day Fifteen (15): Gold and aqua crystal earrings

I spent most of today working on a big thing, a grant proposal for my summer opera workshop :)  So I decided to make a small but pretty thing, a pair of earrings, just as contrast ....

I bought these Chinese crystals in Toronto -- they're very changeable with, moving from blue to green to grey.  I like them with the gold.  I've never made any gold jewellery before, but I got the fancy headpins in T.O., too, and thought I'd combine them with the gold beadcaps and wires I'd bought earlier this year.

Over halfway through!

These are for sale at my Artfire shop now

Day Fourteen (14): peace and friendship

Yesterday I was running around, getting ready to leave my lovely friends' house and go home to NS,  and I noticed this framed piece: I'm not much of one for devotional phrases, but the prayer of St Francis is a pretty good one to have around, and it struck me that the last five days, in spite of their hectic colour, were truly about this at their core:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day Thirteen (13): Only connect

The theme of my long weekend in Ontario is summed up by one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite authors:

"Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon:"
-- E.M. Forster, Howard's End

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day Twelve: ten words for this day












Day Eleven (11): costume sketch for Olympia

Sorry this is late!

This is a doodle I made during auditions yesterday.  I'm directing Offenbach's opera Les contes d'Hoffmann this summer, and I've decided on a steampunk look which really fits the opera surprisingly well.  Here's a sketch of a Lolita/steampunk Olympia, the mechanical doll :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day Ten (10): Auditions

Today I drove two hours, heard 7 hours of auditions and drove two hours back.

All the wonderful, talented young artists I heard did their own things, of course -- for a performer an audition is a small chunk of distilled stress, opportunity and potential, a brief moment where he  exposes himself and his talent in the hopes that the combination will be something that the auditioner will see and value.

At the end of my day of receiving dozens of performances by these young singers, I was left with a pile of their photos, resumes and my notes.  I was also left with a profound sense of the beauty of lives dedicated to the struggle for mastery over their craft, the struggle to be seen, the struggle to birth their inner artists and the struggle against the general disinterest shown by the wider world for their work.

Here's the only part of my experience that I could photograph :)


Day Nina (9): crewel wool

Damn, it's been a long day.  I'm now in Toronto, gettting ready to hear about 80 auditions for my summer opera program.  I visited a great store in Mississauga, Gitta's, and bought some crazy beautiful crewel yarn colours, so this photo of the yarn will have to do for my thing :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day Eight (8): double flat spiral stitch bracelet

I like the flat spiral stitch -- I love it when it's doubled up!  Such a great, bold look.  I made this bracelet from the cheapest beads I had, to try out the technique:  dollar store seed beads and metal beads plus cheap glass pearls :)  Still looks pretty good to me, though -- and I love the double toggle clasp (which cost more than all the beads together and is totally worth it -- from my favourite local bead shop, The Java Bead in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day Seven (7): More crewel stitches

My weird sampler continues :)  Learned soft shading/silk shading/long and short stitch, fly or vandyke stitch and practised many more French knots :)  It still sucks, but it's cheerful!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day Six (6): More crewel stitches

Three more stitches learned -- laid filling with french knots (in the heart), detatched buttonhole stitch (around edges of carnation) and spider stitch (filling the calyx).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day Five (5): Crewel work sampler begun

I've decided to teach myself crewel work (surface embroidery in fine wool), so I've started a sampler.  I'm working my way through the twelve stitches taught in Jane Rainbow's Beginner's Guide to Crewel Embroidery: From top to bottom: 

  • different tries at stem stitch
  • chain stitch
  • split stitch and satin stitch
  • buttonhole stitch
  • french knots
  • first step of spider's web stitch

I've never done any embroidery before.  I learned needlepoint last year -- this is much, much, MUCH harder because there's no guide for the stitch size and there are so many freaking stitches.  I can see it's going to take mountains of practice, but that's cool.  I do love learning new things, even if I totally suck at them :)

My stem stitch, for instance.  I just couldn't learn it from the book I was using -- didn't make any sense to me.  Then I went looking for a video, and it made it all clear :)   Thanks god for YouTube ...

Anyway, that's my thing for today.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Pavarotti collage included in new Collection on Artfire