Monday, April 23, 2012

Good To Know -- Insights for the Creative Life -- Feather Earrings

Jessie Bender of Free Flying Boutique on Etsy

When a bird lover like myself wants to wear on-trend feather jewelry, it is hard to imagine wearing real feathers for decoration. There are many lovely options for feather-inspired products these days, and I love the way Jessie Bender has taken this popular trend and made it so much more compassionate. Her lovely (and petite) feather earrings are kind to birds! She makes extremely realistic paper feathers for her handmade and beaded jewelry, and each pair is a work of art.

You can see Jessie's work at her fun Free Flying Boutique and I was lucky enough to ask her a few questions about her love of birds. Join me for my visit with Jessie...

Feathers and earring findings on Jessie's work table at Free Flying Boutique

Georgianne Holland: How are your feather earrings kinder to birds?
Jessie Bender:  What I love about this type of feather is that it has all the beauty and detail of the real thing, but it didn't require any disturbance to get it. To get such beautiful feathers, a person would have to either capture the bird, kill it, or follow it around for months, waiting for the feathers to fall. Since those three things are not an option, I wanted to find a way to get the feather without endangering wildlife.

GH: What is your background with birds and why are they a focus in your fine crafting?
JB:  As a huge animal lover, I was able to work for several years at a zoo, in the Bird Department. Although, I always loved birds, it was then that they really became a passion. I love so many of their features: their amazing sounds, their stunning colors, their fun personalities and character, their keen intelligence and most of all, their ability to fly. It was not hard to include these eye-catching creatures in my crafting. They are so inspiring.

GH: Have you worked with real bird's feathers in the past?
JB:  At the zoo, I would spend my days cleaning cages, feeding and caring for the inhabitants. As I did these things, I found countless bird feathers, of all shapes and colors. Due to strict rules, such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is illegal to collect or keep feathers, especially from certain species. Knowing what gorgeous feathers were out there, I wanted to capture their gorgeous detail in my art. I worked with the limited amount of feathers that could be used legally, such as feathers one can buy for crafts and fly-tying, to create items like hair feathers and earrings. I tried really hard to recreate the plumage I had seen so many times on the actual birds, but the turkey feathers from the craft store weren't cutting it!

The bright citrus colors of these paper earrings are luscious and refreshing!

GH: Are the beads you use to make your charming earrings precious stones?
JB:  The stones I use for my jewelry are very carefully chosen to bring out the best qualities of the feather. I use a wide range of beads, from lovely precious stones, to shiny metal beads, to colorful glass beads. I have a huge collection of beads and stones that I have collected for over a decade. It takes a long time to choose just the right bead.

GH: How many types of bird feathers do you use in your work and which is your favorite?
JB:  I have the feather images of over 150 different types of bird species. The number is always growing as I continue searching for more images. It would be hard to narrow down a favorite type of feather. I really love the brilliant colors of the parrots. I love the charm of the birds of prey. I really like the patterns in the feathers of the pheasants and game birds. The woodpeckers and flickers have some really cool designs, too. My favorites are usually a combination of all those features. So probably the Blue Jay would be my favorite, since it has color and patterns.

GH: Do you see other animal-friendly ways to make nature-inspired jewelry?
JB:  I think the digital age has really made it easy to enjoy wildlife without harming it. One picture can be used again and again, without the need to find more feathers. I have started looking at other things besides feathers, such as butterflies and flowers. The methods I use to make my jewelry can turn just about anything into an exceptional work of art. I try to make sustainable, Eco-conscious choices, such as using recycled paper for my jewelry. Anytime you can find a different avenue to capture the essence of something, it allows the real thing to continue thriving and inspiring us.

Thanks to Jessie for sharing her passion for birds and her insights for the creative life! I invite everyone to look at her jewelery and enjoy Free Flying Boutique on Etsy.

Thank you for stopping by,

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday -- April 17, 2012

My Nestle and Soar studio office has a large dream board that I love adding to, and each week that is where I stash my Top Ten Tuesday picks. I figure that if a handmade item plays with my heart strings enough to make me want to add it to my inspiration board, then it will probably be a perfect item to share with you! This week's items are all very sweet and colorful. The attention to detail that each crafts person/artist shows is impressive, don't you think? I'd love to invite all of these folks to sit around a table and be creative together...who would you want to invite to that crafting social?

Red Orange Bird Archival Print

I have fallen in love with the art of Cori Dantini, a talented illustrator from Washington. She has a charming Etsy shop since 2007, and this archival bird print is one of my favorites! The illustration is 8"x8", which is a great size to hang in a little nook in your home. You can see more than 100 lovely whimsical illustrations by Cori's at Corid on Etsy.

Tiny Watercolors from Little Dear
I love learning about entrepreneurial women who create in many arenas, and I've found that in Aimee Ray, the creative force behind Little Deer. Aimee hand paints these pin back buttons using watercolor, and she also is an expert at embroidery! Her Craft Patterns and Embroidery Patterns are very popular, and I can see why...I hope you have fun looking at Little Deer on Etsy. I know I did.

We are All Connected!
I'd like to introduce you to a special artist I've gotten to know a little bit, Jen Renninger of sunny Florida. I purchased one of her prints and I get so many great comments from friends with it: seems as though folks feel really good about being connected! I tried my hand at a paint-by-numbers landscape years ago, and when I saw Jen's print, it helped me remember that fun experience. I also love the name of her Etsy shop -- Please Be Still. Those are words to live by, too!

Twine and Rag Nest by Carolyn's Homework
I love a whimsical nest perhaps more than most, and this lovely twig and fabric scraps nest is top drawer. Carolyn has a sweet and simple aesthetic and uses natural colors and homespun materials in a fun way. This little shop has only been open since 2010 and I am very excited about keeping my eyes on her work! You can find her at Carolyn's Homework on Etsy.

Appliqued Owl Pouch
What a cheerful handmade owl pouch I found at Mama Blue Designs. I can see one of my little granddaughters enjoying this cute pouch as a purse and I can also see my youngest daughter using it as a make up bag! Every girl I know loves owls! Artist Laura Clausen of California does a great job with machine stitched lettering, so if you'd like one of her popular pouches personalized, you will love the results!

Lottie Fun Crochet Flower Bracelet
Imagine a hand crocheted flower that is less than 1" across and then imagine how tiny the crochet hook would have to be to create the definition you see in this chic and colorful bracelet! There are eight double crochet daisies in this cute bracelet...the photo here shows the Lottie Bracelet (closest to the model's hand) as well as other handmade crochet from Gitte - Wearable Fiber Art in Australia. Open since 2007, this shop has many fashion-forward items that all have the homespun qualities of vintage, which I think is a lovely combination. Modern Vintage Style!

Little Knit Birds by Beaded Wire on Etsy
These soft pastel knit birds are all sitting in a nest, waiting to make your home a little sweeter! Beaded Wire is a popular shop based in New Hampshire, and her shop is loaded with a huge assortment of accessories either knit, crocheted, or beaded. All of her items are available for immediate shipment, which I admire. And the expertise of her knitting stitches...can you see it in the shaping of each little bird? I'm in love!

Art Quilt -- Tree of Life
Art quilts are an acquired taste in my opinion. If you learned to sew or quilt in home economics class, like I did, there was always great emphasis put on traditional geometric patterns. Art quilts are so very interesting because it is a fiber art in the quilting genre without all of the fussy rules and right angles. The Tree of Life quilt by Bozena Wojtaszek of Poland is a wonderful example of the expressive nature of art quilts. It is about 16" x 21" and packed with personality.

Straight Stitch Society Patterns
Whether you are an apples or oranges type of gal, this Oliver + S shop pattern is perfect for you. Having a handmade sewing kit was always the perfect beginner's sewing project, and making one this adorable will be popular for any age group. The finished items includes a pincushion, a zipper pouch for notions, a needle keeper, and tons of style. If you like this, you will really want to check out the whole Straight Stitch Society selection.

Funny Animal of the Week
I love books, too! Owls and books are a good combination, and it looks like these owls love books about birds! Hoot!

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, April 13, 2012

Studio Scene at Nestle and Soar

Inventory wall in the Nestle and Soar studio, near Boulder, Colorado

There is always a riot of color in my fiber folk art studio! I have tried to keep the walls fairly neutral because I know full well that my fiber art will be bright with color.

The needle felting process always includes steam-pressing the wool. It is important to use a pressing cloth.

The dry felting of birds and trees onto linen is still my favorite medium. These pieces become decorative pillows or wall art; this bird piece will eventually be a pillow.

The ledge that is built into this wall of my studio is a wonderful place to display fun items as well as keep regularly-used items within easy reach.

I don't know how I could ever compact my studio items into a smaller space at this point! If I don't have enough room to display, for instance, my favorite Nancy Drew book, how could I make do?

What is your favorite "unnecessary/necessary" item in your creative space?

Thanks for stopping by,