Friday, October 30, 2009

Fabulous Fall Color

Back out to the garden to appreciate the abundance of fall color. Maples and ash are reliably beautiful at this time of year, and are frequently planted for that reason. This Japanese maple in my front yard is spectacular for several weeks in October when the leaves range from deep orange to rich burgundy. The leaves also look fabulous as they lay on the Pachysandra bed and in the bird bath giving me the perfect excuse for not raking.

There are so many other plants that have wonderful fall color, and I am fortunate to have a few on our property. Above are the leaves of a Koelreuteria paniculata in the front yard. The yellows and oranges are so vibrant that the tree appears to glow, especially in the late afternoon sun.

At the corner of our back yard is a cluster of Sassafras albidum that are reliable fall color beauties.

Most years there is also a range of reds and oranges, but this year the Sassafras are awash in brilliant yellow.

A crabapple in the front yard that is covered in delicate white flowers in the spring is now covered with lemon-yellow fruit that the birds love.

Lysimachia, a somewhat invasive perennial, fills a corner of the front porch planting bed. I love how this plant looks from spring until the killing frost. The plants were covered with delicate yellow flowers in early summer, and in October, the leaves develop a lovely red/wine color.

While I greatly appreciate the abundance of flowers in the spring, my Japanese azaleas (Rhododendron japonicum) also have a wonderful blush of fall color.

I planted 5 blueberry bushes (Vaccinium corymbosum) with the hope of harvesting an abundance of berries. The birds always get all of the berries, so thank goodness the bushes have such beautifully vibrant fall color.

The oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) are some of my favorite plants in the garden. The summer flowers are followed by a deep purple leaf display helping to make this an all-season beauty.

Even the Hydrangea macrophylla gets a little showy at this time of year.

And at the back of my yard is a lovely tawny color. Too bad it's a dead boxwood. Little by little the boxwood that were inherited with the property are inexplicably dying off. I should get out the loppers, but maybe I'll play Martha Schwartz and paint them purple.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Story Behind the Piece

I like to make pieces that suggest a story, open for anyone's interpretation. Sometimes, there is an actual story of mine that I used for inspiration, as with this piece. The bird in this pendant is sterling with abalone inlay. In it's previous life it was a pin, but it was a broken pin. My mother found it during one of her thrift store outings (this thrifting thing is most certainly genetic) and passed it on to me.

I sometimes have to hold onto interesting materials until I am properly motivated, but I knew right away how to use this bird. It made me think of a day that my one son and I spent in Philadelphia with relatives visiting from Illinois. We spent part of the day in the historic area seeing the Liberty Bell (in spite of the alarm going off just after we got into the pavillion), the Betsy Ross House (in spite of the on-going debate over whether or not she actually lived in the designated house) and Independence Hall.

We also took advantage of a charming program, Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches, that Philadelphia started a few years ago. Large, semi-circular benches are scattered throughout the historic part of the city and each is hosted by a storyteller during the summer months to entertain visitors with unique stories about the history of Philadelphia and the Founding Fathers. The six of us walked by one empty bench and were coaxed (some might say badgered) by the storyteller to sit and hear his tale.

While I really enjoy history, I am not too interested in 'play-acting' history. I don't remember the particular story that we were told except that there were sound effects (wind, creaking door, thunder, bird call, etc...) that the six of us were expected to supply at appointed times. I think this could be fun for young children, but we had no young children in our group. Maybe I'm strange and unappreciative, but I have have an expectation that another adult will speak to me like an adult and I think I rolled my eyes when told that I was to supply the sound of a bird when signaled.

My family members were much more gracious than I was and did their sound effects with enthusiasm. When my turn came, I paused and said 'TWEET..........TWEET' probably with a little too much agression, and I was properly chastised by the other five in my group when we left the bench. Sorry, storytelling man............I know you were doing you job. This pendant is my penance for not play-acting well with others.

I cut a rectangle of brass for the base and textured the edges with an old chisel. Holes were drilled at the top to attach the chain and holes were drilled for riveting. I drilled three holes in the bird and riveted it to the base. The text 'balloon' was saw cut from a sheet of brass, stamped with TWEET....TWEET and also attached with rivets.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Transforming a Thrift Store Find

I recently found this pin at a thrift store and thought it could make a wonderful pendant. The brass already had an interesting patina, so all I had to do was remove the pin backing, file the back surface smooth and drill three holes for wire wrapping the chain and dangle connections. The chain, also recycled, is interrupted and embellished with wire wrapped beads. I thought that pale blue would coordinate nicely with the brass and used a combination of aventurine, aquamarine and green cats eye along with an occasional crystal for a bit of sparkle.