Happiest of Holidays! Andra Day-Stevie Wonder Video

Happy Holidays Everyone!! Hoping this finds you all truly happy, relaxing, and enjoying your life, loved ones, and the season. Whether loud or quiet 😉 Happy Christmas!!

This version of ‘Someday at Christmas’ makes me all warm & fuzzy. Love, love, LOVE Stevie Wonder & Andra Day !!!





Artists’ Crush: Band- Local Natives

Dream & Real: Band Local Natives voted the “Hardest Working band of 2013.” Hmmm, how many hundreds of shows does that take? Shows and miles! Love their vocals.

Voted the hardest working band in 2013, LOCAL NATIVES from LA. I’m lovin’ their sweet, melded, harmonic vocals ~ dreamy but tres Real.  And a joy to watch live. Their official vids are a bit indie, cloudy, grainy. I like the one below for its spontaneity, like they put it all together from the road. Which I guess is how it is when you are ‘the hardest working band on the planet for a year.’ 😉

“The group, which hails from Los Angeles, played a total of 188 shows throughout the year, traveling a total of almost 192,500 miles (309,799 kilometres) to get from gig to gig.” Contact Music

and Live:

Artist's OrangeCrush

Fleeting: Fireflies~ Time-Lapsed Photos

What is life?
It is a flash of a firefly in the night.
It is a breath of a buffalo in the winter time….”


What is life?

It is a flash of a firefly in the night.

It is a breath of a buffalo in the winter time.

It is as the little shadow that runs across the grass

and loses itself in the sunset.

Crowfoot, Blackfoot Tribal Chief

All images are time-lapsed photos of fireflies by  Tsuneaki  Hiramatsu

FireflyHirimatsu2-mTaken various locations in and around Maniwa and Okayama Prefecture, Japan

FireflyHirimatsu3-mAnd my favorites-



Artists Crush: The Art and Science of Wondrous Strange Designs

Wonderous Strange- Where science meets art. For example, this one, called “Nautical Deep Sea Gamochonia the Octopus Raku Pendant.” I see a perfectly happy cephlapod, curling up for day-slumber, [(v.) as in coiling movement ;)], only to be suddenly fossilized, and now on its way to Aristotle’s lab for observation. What gorgeous anatomy!
How did she do it …?! Wait, where are we…? A natural history museum?

The piece that first drew me in~ to the curious world of Wondrous Strange curiosities on Etsy, was this-

deep sea gamochonia the octopus raku pendant

Called “Nautical Deep Sea Gamochonia the Octopus Raku Pendant.”   I see a perfectly happy cephlapod, curling up for day-slumber, [(v.) as in coiling movement ;)], only to be suddenly fossilized, and now on its way to Aristotle’s lab for observation. What gorgeous anatomy!

How did she do it?!    Wait, where are we…?    A natural history museum?

wondrous Egypian collar

wondrousStrgn Collage

…A cabinet of curiosities?


…dreaming in desert canyons… or walking through old tobacco plantations of the deep  south?

wondrous-tobacco leaf barn

Artist, photographer “D” of Wondrous Strange Designs, kindly answered a few questions I had about her clay Raku firing process and source of inspirations:

What exactly is the Raku firing process that you use for your pendants and beads?

D: Clay pieces have one firing first, called bisque with no glaze. Then another firing with the raku glaze. They are fired to 1860 degrees, and taken at that temperature and transferred to a galvanized can that is filled with paper or sawdust or what ever I can find to flame up. A top is immediately placed on the can to starve the inside of oxygen. It is then that the great colors come out. I have to wait about fifteen minuets before opening. The colors are even more vivid before I bring them out and still hot enough to burn wood. They are then plunged into cold water to stop the colors from changing. As you can imagine, a lot of pieces will explode.

It is a harsh process to the clay, a dangerous one for the potter:) I have to keep my wits about me so as not to get burned. I once singed my eyelashes off 🙂 Better bet I started using my goggles again:). I wear a mask, high temp gloves and goggles.

What is your inspiration behind the new Chaco canyon series?  They look like old fossils, but are deeply familiar and current in their patterns and colors .
D: A horseback ride in Colorado’s Garden of the Gods and day visit to their Dinosaur Museum when I was younger forever staked a claim in my imagination.  But for design specifics, at first I was drawn to the geometric designs in aerial photographs of the Chaco Canyon complex. The textures and the light play from their dark round kivas to linear sun lit rock walls. These ancient ruins just speak to me.  While working on textures from the aerial view, the basic rock textures were easier to achieve.


The medium I work in mostly is Raku glazed clay and the deeper the texture, the more brilliant the color results.  I use natural materials for textures in the clay.

chaco WonderousSTrange Collage

Rock, bone, shell are impressed and organic shapes added for interest. I have a few fossils in my collection that I have made molds of.  Put it all together and the design just happens. I try not to think about what I am doing and let each piece claim its own space in the real world.

It really does seem like you are re-introducing wonder to the natural world’s cabinet of curiosities. 🙂 anything you want to add?

D: I love how you put that! My house is a kind of Cabinet of Curiosities…dedicated to feeding my creative spirit. A rusty bottle cap; a 10,000 year old arrowhead found on a near by farm; a sycamore seed from my back yard; walnut shell halves, that to my delight impress perfect hearts into clay: sea shells, that never cease to grab my imagination: old books: broken bones, feathers, past prime flowers…all and much more touch my creative spirit. Every object has beauty if you take time to discover how light falls on, it or how it feels from a touch of your finger tips or how its aroma makes it singular.

You do a series of angels and crosses that are very cool. I’m not a religious person, per say, but your pieces are old world and comforting.  What inspires your guardian angels? 

D: They are not meant to be religious in nature, but to remind us that each of us has a kind and giving nature.  wonderousANgelAngels give comfort to those who believe, beauty to those who take time to look, hope for those who seek. These are all things I find in family and friends…my angels. My little pieces are a tribute to those who lift my spirit.

Note: D has just finished her 12th month of chemo treatment for cancer, and has somehow managed to maintain her creativity through it all.  You would never know of her health concerns by her shop output: D has over 500 items stocked!  From the beginning, I’ve crushed on Wondrous Strange Designs as much for D’s science-meets-art designs, as for her crazy prolific output.  I am daily addicted to her shop to see what will come next from the kiln!

Visit  Wondrous Strange Designs shop on Etsy, and catch her 25% sale off through Christmas!  I will be posting new jewelry featuring her work soon.

Time for a Fantasy: The Art of Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

I’m processing the world through a lens of magic realism and fantasy these days- both in books and art. Just discovered the amazing myth and fantasy art illustrator-painter Stephanie Pui-Mun Law:

I’m processing the world through a lens of magic realism and fantasy these days- both in books and art.  Just discovered the amazing myth and fantasy art illustrator-painter Stephanie Pui-Mun Law:

See all the galleries on her website.   These are from the fairytale and mythology gallery, along with inspiring descriptions like this one, “Baba Yaga of Slavic folklore: she was wise woman and witch, bestower of gifts and curses, life and death, crone, grandmother, and goddess. “My white knight, bright day. My red knight, round sun. My black knight, dark night,” so she names her three servants.” From Red Knight of Burning Day.

The Sunbather.  This series, Cycles, has both light and dark companion pieces. Her zodiac pieces are gorgeous. But my favorites are illustrated from myth and legend.

Stephanie says, “Inspired by the short story Green Serpent by Marie-Catherine D’Aulnoy, a 17th century version of the old Psyche and Eros tale. However, Eros is replaced with a man cursed with the form of a green serpent.”  Keep reading here: Cradle of Life.

Am currently drawn to the breathtaking imagery of Stephanie’s Shadowscapes Tarot now:  animals, water, Music and musicians are everywhere in her images!










She is working on a forthcoming Dreamdance Oracle and posts pieces from it on her Blog, along with poetry, jewelry, and cool peaks into her ever busy sketch books.

I have this theory that Oakland incubates more artists per capita (painters, poets, musicians, steampunk sculptors, etc.) than any other city. Of course she lives in Oaktown. 😉   She has a sale now- got this album cover piece for my studio.

Small Hats and Flower Pins: Artists Crush

Acting the Girl; on stage with small hats and bead laced flower pins

I never imagined that my foray into ‘vintage jazz’ would take me from scratchy vinyl records and jazz theory, into cocktail hats and feathers.  But here I am! 😉

As with my album cover- my Yoshi’s gig, and CD release party last month- all appearances seem to revolve around a hat.  (Feels silly talking about this, but since I’m so often cerebral here- I’m going to wax light and just go with it today.)

So, I’ve gone from tomboy in a skirt and boots for my Tortilla Western music, to all out woman-in-a-tiny hat for the jazz stages.  (Don’t worry, my boots are ever ready for any wild west show that calls.)  But for now, I enjoy being a Grrrrl.  And to fearful fans who have been saying “Oh no- she’s changed!!”  No, not my sound, one for another;  I have been serving 2 Muses in my writing for a while now- Tortilla Western AND Jazzy Blues.  Both genres are American roots and are keeping me busy singing and performing, and this is all that matters.

For my May 23rd Yoshi’s CD release, I needed a flower to liven up a simple black dress. I usually go to a vender at the farmer’s market for these.  But of course, the artist wasn’t there, for 3 weeks before the gig!  I really prefer to buy this sort of thing from independent crafters.  So I went on Etsy and found Viridian.  This is my Artists Crush of the month.

Viridian is run by owner Nicki, who is just as sweet and accommodating as can be. I enjoyed conversing with her before I ordered.   I wanted these floral pins for both hats and decor on dresses. But she also makes hair pins. EEEeeee! Girrly wear, delicate & feminine. You can even pick the backs you want on your custom orders.

Artist Statement:

Welcome to Viridian! I specialize in accessories that add a beautiful finishing touch to your look, with items that combine the sheen and texture of fine fabrics with the sparkle and shimmer of beads. Lately, I’ve been especially attracted to using opposing colors and textures in my work- I think the contrast intensifies each component and makes the finished piece even more interesting.

I think what makes Viridian pieces unique is the center beadwork. She even makes leather flowers. Nicki says “the beadwork is all hand-done, petal layers are hand-cut, all stitched together… the only glue used is for the backing.  I try to strike a balance between vintage styling, bling, and just plain pretty…”.  It doesn’t get Girlier than crystals and lace 😉

Nicki is easy to work with for custom orders.  Visit her here on Etsy.

Artists Crush- Black Mud Studios

Cool stone ware pendants/jewelry

A friend once called me a ‘crush-a-holic”. When I incredulously asked what she meant, she said “you crush on everyone ALL the time!”  In defense, I said not everyone: artists mostly. And not forever.  “Yes”,  she said- “that’s why they call them crushes.”  🙂

Ok, I do tend to crush on visual artists, or their art.  And dancers.  And performers, especially drummers and bass players. And pretty much anyone who shows mastery of their creative trade in a public setting.  Since I can’t draw a straight line, my longest running crushes are on visual artists.  Writing a song or score- no problem- but sculpture, painting, life drawing seem mystery skills; to be around experts makes me SpongeBob giddy.  Evidence of artist crushes I’ve shown on this blog previously are here. And here.

So, I’ve decided to add a category of new posts called “Artist’s Crush”. It will feature Artists doing almost any creative endeavor that is hopelessly crush worthy, and will include folks making art beads whose work inspires fun, finished jewelry. 😉

So, I have mentioned lots of artbead artists on this blog before, but in this new forum- I hope to delve deeper; interview them and find out some cool day-in-the-studio wisdom. For now- the artist who’s work is inspiring mine is- Charlene at Black Mud Studios.  And though I haven’t interviewed her yet, I wanted to share a recent challenge she gave me.

I’ve been working with her stoneware pendants for sometime. Charlene and her studio are in Ontario, Canada. Her pendants are sizable, beautiful with unusual detail, and well-priced. Her natural & gloss finishes are just plain fun to design with.

Recently, before placing my Spring order, Charlene challenged me to make her a necklace that could match multiple pendants. At first I thought- ‘ah, piece-o-cake.’  But then, I find out she wears only short necklaces- 15.5″ (gulp.) And that she wanted them to match interchangeable pendants (2x Gulp).  Of varying finishes/colors (3xGulp).

I wear short necklaces all the time, so no fear there.  [After my 20th necklace breaking onstage when changing instruments, I finally learned.  Of course, it always happened mid-show, the quietest part.  I would fold up my accordion, slip it overhead to trade out with bass or ukulele, and POP! A tiny sound & 200 beads scattering across a wooden stage in 10 directions.  The crowd always gasps as if I’ve broken an arm. ;-]

So short length means there isn’t a whole lot of space to be elaborate in the design, since what is visible in front- is less than half of the necklace.  I studied Charlene’s new finishes, and tried several things.  One is a finished piece but the rest can have pendants easily attached to front or back clasps. I just love her leaf details! The one on the far left is a dogwood design.

These are generously large pendants!  We’re talking 3-4+ inches many of them. So If you like large focals- Charlene’s is the place to get them.  I experimented w/ U and V shaped necklaces, and learned that unusually shaped pendants look great in the V-shape.  Still trying different things- but stringing with large stone chips and pieces is looking right. I’ll post soon to my Etsy store.

Another reason to love Charlene’s work- mermaids! And Seahorses. Bees and sugar skulls!!

Charlene makes lots of buttons, cabachons, links, cool bracelet links, sea creatures, leaves, and other amazing fun pieces, and usually shows us right away on her  Facebook page here.

So stop by Black Mud Studio on Etsy or FB and see what Charlene’s kiln is cookin’ up!