As mentioned before I am not a lonely fighter on the streets of the internet. I am member of Etsy's SATeam (Starving Artists Team) and a member of the all new and shiny ArtFire guilds Handmade in Europe and the AF Plurkies Guild. If it weren't for my great admins and fellow members (and other online friends, but this is a story for another time), I would have lost faith very quickly I guess, and I might not be here anymore. My wire would slowly tarnish in its corner and my crochet hooks would rust. The cats would take over the bead stash and ... oh, you already got the idea? Good ;-)

What is teamwork? I actually found something in Wikipedia and I quote part of the article:
Teamwork is a joint action by two or more people in which each person contributes with different skills and express his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group in order to achieve common goals. This does not mean that the individual is no longer important; however, it does mean that effective and efficient teamwork goes beyond individual accomplishments. The most effective teamwork is produced when all the individuals involved harmonize their contributions and work towards a common goal.
Teamwork can be more than two people, but the importance is working as one.

Now you probably think it was unnecessary to write that down? That is something everyone knows, you think? Well, everyone might know it, but it's not easy for everyone to do it. Actually I think it's hard for most people to do it and I am counting myself in, no doubt about that. "Ah, today I don't feel like it." "Oh, there will be enough others commenting." "I am so tired." And my favorite one (NOT!): "She/He is doing such a great job, I don't feel I am needed."
That's not true. Everyone is needed. Granted, there will be days you just can't make it and it's a good thing to be backed up by others, but you have to do your part of backing up as well. That is what teamwork is about. You know what? After a while when you have defeated what we call our "inner pig dog" in Germany ;-) you'll feel so good. If you don't have that feeling you are maybe not a team player, but that's ok, we can't all be the same way, right? Most people though can contribute something to a team and if you put a whole lot of little things together, something great can develop.

Look at this example - the SATeam Wrist Candy Holiday Giveaway. Team members have each chipped in to create a beautiful bracelet that combines many different talents. Each time a new charm donated was posted, I had to hold my breath. That is what collaboration is about. This is a team bracelet, it doesn't matter who made which charm.

What are you waiting for? Check it out, there is still time till the 6th of December. And while you are at it, check out my team. They are worth it.


The big ones

Last night I was at a friend's house. It was time for a girly chat once again. Granted, those girls are not exactly teenagers anymore, but who cares? So when I came home in the afternoon today, I was tired. The laundry basket was full, but I walked around it very careful in case it would try to catch me. I also ignored the laundry upstairs that needed folding. I ignored the fact that the fridge was almost empty as I had bought some bread on the way home and this household is rarely without Nutella which means we can survive for at least two days. In case it goes faster than I think, I'll just go and raid my Mom ;-)

I checked my email, but I was even too tired to do much at the computer. Finally I turned on the TV and watched cartoons. Then I got up again to get my hooks and wire. I have a project I am working on the moment, but I didn't even feel like that. Under strict supervision of Esme I put some beads on the wire, took them back off, put others on there, played around with an idea I had had a long time ago, and wondered if the little hoops I had bought also long ago were sterling silver at all (I have to check on that tomorrow in the daylight), managed three stitches, cut the wire again - if you used a small hook, it's next to impossible to "unravel" wire - and did a lot of sighing. Then finally the moment had arrived when I gave myself one more chance before throwing in the towel. And like so often something started out as something totally different than it ended up as.

Fine silver, sterling silver (for the back) and garnet beads

Fine silber and multi-colored sapphires (the back is crocheted as well)

I am not sure yet what to do with these rings. They are prototypes and not perfect, but still I kind of like them. Keep them and try to go for better, maybe even planned versions? ;-) Offer them at a reduced price for the modern and adventurous woman? Put them on my cat's ears? Ouch, no - he is giving me the look of "Not funny, Mom. If you want some more scars, just go ahead and try."

P.S. Excuse my chubby hands in the pictures, they were the only ones I had handy at the moment ;-)


Playing with sapphires

Quite a while ago I bought half a strand of tiny faceted sapphires in all colors of the fall, orange, yellow, greenish, almost everything but blue. At that time I had no idea what to do with them. Every, now and then I took them out and waited for the muse to tell me what she wanted me to use them for.
You know my muse by now. If she is not in the mood she just stays quiet, and if she is she gets violent easy ;-)
So the last time I took a peek at the stones she told me to put them on the wire and then let her take over (she hates the part of stringing the beads first, I guess it's too boring for her). And boy, did she suddenly take over!
I had had a vague idea when I reached out for the marquise shaped closed form of silver wire and I thought about giving it some sparkle, but suddenly there was sparkle all over.

Then I remembered I still had a silver spool knit necklace and although I hadn't been happy with the last pendant I had teamed it with, in this case it gave just the right extra kick.

Now there were still a few sapphires on the wire, so when I took it out a few days later I wondered about something little that I could do with it.
Here's the result - a fine silver wire ball with polka dots. Not quite what you let your children play with. Also I doubt it'll jump very well.

This is a night picture, I hope you can imagine what it will look like in the light ....


My dragon girl has a name!

The month is over, the polls are closed and it's settled.
My dragon's name will be Tomomi from now on and just like most of you I think it suits her well.

Now it's time for the drum roll before I announce the lucky winner of the dragon's nest.
Are you ready? Are you?
Congratulations to Susan from Fantasy Clay! The pendant will go out to you in the next days.

I want to thank everybody who voted and I'm sure this is not the last we will have seen of Tomomi ....


With the nose high up in the air

Have you ever wandered the streets of your hometown with your nose up in the air? From time to time I like to do that and today was one of those times. I miss the old town.

I was born here and almost daily I see something gone. Just recently they tore down a small building that belonged to my school. It was called Lu because the entrance was on Lutherstreet. I had my English and Latin lessons there. We sat in the garden in summer and wondered what Cicero really tried to tell us. My brother called me late in the evening and yelled into the phone: "They are tearing down the Lu! Half of it is gone already!" Not that my town has ever had to offer much, it seems. Two big fires (1425 and 1782) left not many of the really old buildings and many more were replaced by what I can only call architectural sins (just my opinion), especially in the 70s, not a decade that I'd call famous for its sleek architecture. But if you look closer, you can still find charming bits around the town.

There is the private road with the cobblestones, there is the house with the old-fashioned glass part in the back or the one with the beautiful and wild garden that looks so lovely in summer. If you look a little higher, you see the old house on which side it still says in tall letters "Cheese storage", from the 1920s, I'd guess, or the one with the stained glass window showing a swan you never noticed before.
Look up there, there is still a pattern in the shingles on the roof and this house, seen from side, reminds you of old Ms. Vogel's house with the grey and white checkered pattern. She had chicken and loved children visiting her (which had probably nothing at all to do with the pattern). Where her chicken used to feed in the grass, is a parking lot now. Which one of the children walking there today to get to the half-pipe they build on the other side of the road knows that there was a little path and the "city creek" running along it?

When I walked or rather strolled home today, it was getting dark already, so I couldn't see clearly. I wonder if I had never seen it before or if I had forgotten it - the house with the bay window. There were the letters A and S and stone flowers, so beautiful even in the dark that I decided I need to come back in daylight to have a closer look. I bet there are many more of those little treasures out there, you just need the will and two open eyes to see them. I know they always make my day and put a little smile on my face, the old treasures like lovingly restored stucco on a house or the new ones like the stars in the windows of the kindergarten. The flower fighting the cold in the old cemetery that isn't used anymore, the little old lady waiting with a smile on her face while you take a picture of your school with your cell phone cam.
The angel you loved so much from when you were a small child ...

Am I nostalgic? Oh yes, I am. It's what gives me some of the strength for the modern times. And so I will walk by the cheese storage again and try to imagine what is like in those days .....


My muse has struck again!

Really I hadn't expected her yesterday. I worked on a necklace in a style I had used on other necklaces/chokers before, only in fine silver and suddenly she struck me over the head, held on to it and yelled: "Look at the texture!" What I hadn't seen during making three necklaces and two bangles was that it seemed like snake skin. Now I know many people have a hard time with snakes and I also would prefer to not be bitten by one, but still I think they are beautiful animals. Also a friend who happened to be there at the moment when I noticed said the same thing. My muse laid back happily. She thinks it's enough to have an idea and leaves how to realize it to me. The head was not that much of a problem, but as I was already past the part where I could have put a clasp, I needed some idea how to close the necklace. I "filled" the silver tube with a wire that is sturdy enough to hold the shape and still bends, so now you just put the ends together and voilà!
It's not in my shop yet as I didn't take pictures today, but it soon will be.

Not only my patience was on ground level at that time, but also my wrist (we talk about almost 10 hours in two days). So I decided to take it a little easier today. Usually I don't talk about work on this blog and I won't start that now. All I want to say is that last week was my boss' birthday, but she was away on vacation. She said she'd like some flowers, so I told my coworkers I would make a little extra beside the bouquet she will get. I thought some roses in one of my wire crochet baskets might be nice, so I set to work and here is the result.

I so hope she will like them! (And I so hope I found at least most of the cat hairs! Esme just walked by without even touching the clay and everything was covered, ugh.)


I'm sorry, Esme

It would be wrong to think that Ponder is the only psycho cat in this house.
His sister Esme (Terry Pratchett fans might know her full name is Esmerelda Weatherwax) comes close, even if she doesn't have "Da Voice". She's a girl after all and while Ponder is the yodelling expert, Esme has a wonderful squeaking soprano.

There are two situations in particular that make her show her diva's abilities.

The first one is when I take pictures on the chest of drawers in the tall guy's "playing room". For some strange reason she can live well with me taking pictures somewhere else, but although she likes to sit on the chest without getting angry or anxious, she comes running from downstairs (!) as soon as I set up something there. I haven't found a reason yet, but it makes her downright aggressive sometimes!

The second one is when I whistle. She can't stand my whistling. Today I was sitting at the computer, listening to music, one of my favorite songs came up and since I lost half of my singing voice (the high-pitched notes), I whistle more than I used to. Mistake! Lady Es came running upstairs and squeaked the second voice to the song in utter despair. When I didn't stop right away, she bit me. Not the kind that hurts, but the kind that says "Stoooooooooooop, please!! My ears!!"

Now all I want to know is - why doesn't she do that when Kyu Sakamoto is whistling in his song (that I was listening to)??? Feel free to comment on this .......


It was bound to happen

Haven't heard a Ponder story in a while, have you? Well, here is one, but I have to tell it in a very low voice as I don't want him to hear it. He might get embarrassed and I don't want that because I love my crazy cat very much.

Sunday evening often is time for me to relax once more before the weekend has gone by and what do I like to do for relaxing (besides playing with wire)? Lying in the tub with a book (Linda Fairstein this time), looking forward to my handmade soap (pomegranate this time), listening to music (none this time, I forgot) and trying to keep Esme from drinking the water. For some reason she likes my Dr. Hauschka baths that I got for my birthday.

Ponder also is a regular guest at the tub. He likes to jump into the corner, tries to conquer the mountain that is our taps without slipping, hanging his tail into the water and telling me stories while doing so. He hadn't done it for months, almost years, it was enough for him to walk the shower screen. He loves the adventure.
Today he sat in the corner, though. He played with the water a little and next thing I saw was bottles with shower gel and soap swimming in the water next to my cat. I think he had slipped on the soap dish.
Amazing was how cool he still was, he didn't panic at all and probably he wouldn't have needed my help at all. When I dragged him out and put him outside the tub, he only shook a little and then walked off with all the dignity he could bring up. Others of my cats get hit by a drop of water and start licking like crazy. Not Ponder. He came back into the bathroom after a while, jumping on his usual spot beside the washbasin and only licked a little. I swear he looked as if he was wearing sunglasses, my Mr. Stibbons.

Oops, he is coming up to visit .... shhhhhhh!!