Soon, the ornament making and cookie baking will be in full swing.
A little look at our walk in the park!
Deep breath in…… and out
Before I dive deep into my busiest season of making, I’d like to reflect and share our alternative to heading out to the gym to hop on a treadmill. We do hop in the car and get ready for a brisk walk, but we clock in our miles along trails surrounded by the Redwoods, meadows of clover and wildlife at Henry Cowell State Park in Felton, California.
It’s refreshing, invigorating and inspires gratitude for the natural beauty of our area! The Japanese call it Forest Bathing, and I agree with the benefits of breathing in the fresh and fragrant air of the forest. Along with exercise, our walks gives me a sense of appreciation for this lovely place we call home and for the health and mobility that allows for free movement needed for even this gentle hike.
Each day is a little different. Some are sunny and warm, others are a bit chilly, due to the moist fog from the Pacific that nourishes these magnificent trees.
Most days, in the slight differences, we notice something new. Most recently, a small patch of very unusual Albino Redwoods peeked out at us along the path.
Now as I head out to the workshop to focus on my annual porcelain tree ornaments, I will remember to take time for our refreshing walks in the park!
My husband and I welcome each day by wishing each other a “Happy Valentine’s Day”! We don’t fuss over February 14th so much because we know that our love and appreciation for each other should be shown every day of the year! (I must admit that February 14th does pose a little pressure, as it is “Double Valentine’s Day”!)
We play a little card game after breakfast, and whenever the ace of hearts is played or moved, we kiss. (Yes, I know this is incredibly corny!) Celebrating our love for each other is central to our day, even with this simple game, taught to us by Mike’s Uncle George and Aunt Bonnie, (we added the kissing rule, much to our pleasure!) we are reminded how important and joyful it is to appreciate each other often, every day!
We are a team. That’s how we roll. Maybe, a bit too concerned about each other’s feelings. As in, “What would you like for dinner?” with the response, “No, what would you like?” That’s usually the closest we get to a “fight”. Of course, we feel we win by making the other happy. Sometimes, “please, just let me know what you’d like”, I plead, just turns a simple decision into a circle of wanting the other to choose… How funny, we are!
Married 40 years and counting, hoping for many more and kisses galore!
I’m starting to list Valentine’s Day jewelry and ornaments in my Etsy shop ! Here’s a peek at some listed and others on the way!
Happy Valentine’s day to you and your special someone today and Every Day!
It’s just after Thanksgiving and I’m on a third batch of annual ornaments for our town of Boulder Creek! It felt terrible to disappoint folks at the tree lighting and Santa sighting last evening. They had sold out before some could claim theirs. Not to worry, I’m cutting a big kiln load today and will have them ready by the end of the week.
I’m always surprised at how many ornament collectors there are in our small town! As every year, since I began making dated Boulder Creek trees since 1991, I am honored to be a small part of families’ holiday traditions. They adorn trees of our community and some are sent to family members who might be a little homesick for our mountain town.
Now, I make my trees for nearby towns as well as for family and close friends.
Here are some bisqued shapes, ready to glaze.
As with many of my ornaments, my husband created the design I used to make the stamp for these trees. Like most years, it was a process of trial and a few errors, getting the image just right for the stamp.
I’ve decided to glaze these in the traditional holiday colors of green, red and gold, and added Swarovski crystals to add a little sparkle!
I’d better get back to the workshop. Lots more trees to shape and get ready for their first firing tomorrow!
Here’s a little behind the scenes look at my latest custom order. I am honored to have been asked to make ornament keepsakes for The Ladies of Bonny Doon Club to celebrate the club’s 75th Anniversary! They were to be a surprise for the members, so I couldn’t post about this project until they’ve celebrated this milestone. Their luncheon was yesterday, so now, I can share this with you.
Custom porcelain ornament celebrating the 75th Anniversary of The Ladies of Bonny Doon Club
It wasn’t always smooth sailing. As usual, I needed to make several stamps to get the graphics just right. My husband, Mike is a photographer and graphic designer and creates the images that I need to make the stamps. He is a very patient man! I think we must have made a half a dozen stamps before being satisfied with how the final try worked with the clay.
One of the first graphic images with it’s corresponding photopolymer stamp
A few ornament shapes as I realized they would be too small
I was happy with a smaller stamp after a couple of tries, cut some samples and realized that the three inch shape was going to be too small. The ladies asked for a three inch round ornament, but with the approximate 12% shrinkage after firing, the pieces would be too small. Bummer!
Sooo, I decided to use a larger cutter and shaped about 70 pieces. (I always need to make more than needed in case of warping or cracking in the drying or firing processes) Then cleaned and bisque fired them. They would glaze fire to be 3 inches in diameter. Perfect!
Then….I wasn’t happy with the image size in the larger shape. I’m pretty sure I called, “Hey Sweetie…” and talked to Mike about my thoughts. He read my mind (as usual) and started on the new stamp graphics. Did I tell you what a lucky woman I am? The final stamp was a success and I proceeded to cut out another 70 pieces textured with the much improved stamp. Whew!!
Bisque firing was a success and on to glazing. I won’t show you the idea failures, but I’m happy with the result of quite a few trials and errors! Then on to glazing the rest of the batch.
Glazed and ready for their close-ups
I attached tiny Swarovski crystals for a twinkle in the Quail’s eyes
I attached tiny Swarovski crystals to add a twinkle to the eye of each Quail. All that was left to do was hang on ribbons and place them with tissue in gift boxes, ready for the big day!
Ready for the celebration!
I hope the ladies had a lovely day, celebrating their milestone anniversary!
The Ladies of Bonny Doon Club is a social club that supports various organizations and charities in my neck of the woods of the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.
Bonny Doon Fire Department with a Bake Sale at each Event
Salvation Army with canned goods
Valley Churches (Layette Project)
Bonny Doon School (Garden Tour Project)
Please feel free to contact me if I can help you celebrate one of life’s special events, or milestones with a custom porcelain keepsake! ~Carol
It’s hard to believe that we are already a full month into the new year and I haven’t even wrapped up 2013 yet!
My last post was in the fall when I had just begun designing my annual Christmas ornament. Here’s a peek at some pieces “under construction”.
I enjoyed making these ornaments every step of the way, really liking a porcelain clay that was new to me. This new clay is very smooth and nice to work with. It fires to a really white, translucent finish. I love that when it’s held in front of a light or in the sunshine, it seems to glow!
I’m happy that many of my ornaments have found their way to the homes of friends, family and wonderful customers who have added them to their Christmas ornament collections! I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of many families’ traditions.
2014 is already full of new projects and opportunities! I’m in full swing again in the workshop and look forward to what’s in the works!
It may be a bit late, but I wish you a Very Happy New Year!
I know that Christmas comes around the same time every year, but it seems that each year, my handcrafted porcelain ornaments hit the shows and shops “hot off the press”!
Or more accurately, out of the kiln!
I have a design idea that I’m quite happy with right now. There are several pieces ready to be bisque fired so that I can test a few glaze combinations and choose the one that will best tell my story for the year. You probably won’t know what has inspired me, but this year’s will represent a couple of heartfelt events. Just my little secret within the design.
2013 is year 22 for my dated, Boulder Creek ornaments! Boulder Creek is our small town, tucked into the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s about an hour and a half drive south from San Francisco. Since 1991, I’ve added nearby towns and personalized ornaments for friends and family.
When I meet my customers, I’m surprised that many collect my ornaments! It’s always fun to hear that they have favorites and tell me how they are displayed or sent far away to family and friends. It’s such an honor to be part of a family’s holiday tradition! Very humbling.