Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Sweet Wee Cat

This is a recent photo of sweet Gonzo in the backyard carrot patch, pretending he's in the wilds of an exotic jungle. It's hard to believe, but if the vet's estimate is correct, "Le Gonze" has just turned 5 years old. Time does fly! Every single day I am thankful for this wonderful little life coming into our lives. He was a year and a half old when he joined the family, and the thankfulness seems mutual! :)

Best wishes from PrettyGonzo!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mother's Day: Celebrating Women

In my opinion, it's never too early to start celebrating Mother's Day! With that in mind, I would like to share the following amazing ezine by Julie L. Cleveland of BlueMorningExpressions on ArtFire. It includes information about Mother's Day, presents brief bios of famous women, and shares gift ideas and women-related quotes from over two dozen ArtFire artisans. I'm thrilled that PrettyGonzo was included in this digital volume. I'm sure that Blu, Julie's beautiful sheep dog, provided a great deal of the inspiration here. :)

Thanks so much, Julie and Blu!

Best wishes for fun Mother's Day gift shopping from PrettyGonzo!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Jewelry As Dear Friends: The Unique Creations of Shadow Dog Designs

"In the Dreaming": Tree of Life Necklace with Pearls & Citrine
There is something quite unique about the jewelry handcrafted by Catherine of Shadow Dog Designs on ArtFire, and not only because every piece she creates is a stunning one-of-a-kind. Hers are artisan creations that strike a deep and resonant inner chord, lingering in the mind long after you have viewed them.

At work here is, without doubt, her unfailing good taste in her choice of materials—high-quality gemstones, sparkling sterling, artisan-made pendants and components—as well as her talent in bringing those materials together in a lovely design. However, it seems to me that what truly sets her jewelry apart is a creative sensibility best reflected in a statement she made in an interview by ScreamingSardine:
"I try to create jewelry that is like a dear friend, pieces that you will reach for time and time again and enjoy each time they are worn."
That's an astonishing goal when you think about it! Catherine has pursued this goal for the past 12 years with marvelous success, putting such thought and heart into her work that each piece is not just described in her listings, but introduced as someone would introduce a friend. Each
piece even has a name, which is highly appropriate, as friends always have names! Her jewelry is a fine example of how artisan work, which is commonly considered mere craft, can cross the creative line into the sphere of art. Depth, meaning, beauty, inspiration, expression, and genuine connection: welcome to the world of Shadow Dog Designs!

Now I would like to share several of Catherine's fabulous creations with you and comment on them. I've also included some additional jewelry pieces without comment, to show you even more of her wonderful work. Enjoy!

Purple Druzy Agate Necklace with Quartz & Sterling
"Passionately Purple" 
Catherine has loved stones ever since she was a child, and the gemstones here immediately mesmerized her when she saw them: she could see distinctive personalities in each glittering one. As she explains: "Beautiful druzy agate is a sparkling layer of tiny quartz crystals that have formed over eons on agate, often in a geode as the pieces in the necklace show. To be considered gem quality, druzy crystals must be tiny and not at all coarse." These stones, in their perfection, are rarities. Catherine added AAA quartz chips between them and to finish off the necklace. The result is absolutely fantastic!

"Passionately Purple": Druzy Agate Earrings"Black Ice": Banded Black Agate Necklace

Tree Pendant Necklace with Itasy Jasper & Garnets
"Crann Alainn"

Catherine's love of the majesty and beauty of trees finds its expression in this outstanding combination of itasy jasper, garnet, and copper with a marvelous porcelain tree pendant (handmade by BeadFreaky). As the artisan explains, the jasper beads complement the tree image with their woody appearance, and the garnets draw out the subtle red shades in the jasper. I love the overall warmth in the result and the way that the eye is invited to follow the focal tree's branching up throughout the entire piece. And what an inspired choice the tube beads are! They suggest arboreal strength while their wire-wrapped links and the pendant's daisy spacers suggest the foliated intricacies of trees—amazing! Much thought has gone into this piece, with beautiful and meaningful results. In fact, the name "Crainn Alainn" means "beautiful tree" in Irish Gaelic.

(I would just like to add a note about the Rudraksha seed necklace below. I am the lucky owner of Rudraksha seed earrings by Catherine, and they are gorgeous!)

"New Mexico Gold": Tree Pendant Necklace with Turquoise, Jasper & Labradorite"Shiva's Tear": Rudraksha Seed Necklace with Brown Freshwater Pearls

Copper Ammonite Earrings with Chocolate Lampwork Beads
"Time Traveler"

Catherine often tracks down outstanding artisan beads and pendants for her pieces, an approach that not only yields some fantastic finds but also extends the handmade quality of the pieces right down to their components. The wonderful earrings shown here are a great example of that approach, uniting handmade copper ammonite squares by Kristi of Kristi Bowman Design with luscious lampwork beads by Terry of Silverfish Designs. In her listing, Catherine generously explains the process these artisans used to create their beads. On top of all this, the earrings themselves are stunning, with an eye-catching mix of textures! Amazing! 

"Blue Dreamer": Lapis Lazuli & Czech Glass Earrings with Thai Silver "Dreaming in Purple": Purple Amethyst Bracelet with Sterling Beads & Toggle Clasp

Copper Daisy Earrings with Turquoise Magnesite
"Turquoise Spring"

These must be among the most cheerful earrings ever, suggesting a landscape of beautifully unfolding flowers under the brightest of blue skies. Catherine's muse—nature—was certainly at work here, inspiring the perfect pair of earrings for the springtime! The copper daisy diamonds have a special way of shifting hues depending on the angle of the light, and the turquoise magnesite complements them wonderfully. As Catherine explains, magnesite is believed to help turn dreams into realities, whereas copper is said to allow the wearer to see obstacles to personal development. In every way, then, this is a positive piece, celebrating growth without and within, and offering the "extra" of being incredibly fun and sweetly flirty. Please note: the daisy diamonds were handmade by Kristi of Kristi Bowman Design.

"Transformation": Carnelian Moth Pendant Necklace with Red Jasper"High Desert Songs": Thai Floral-Stamp & Mookaite Jasper Necklace with Garnets

Quartz Points Necklace with Black Onyx
"Whispers of the Untold"
"Whispers of the Untold" is my own current favorite of Catherine's pieces—although, that said, I have many favorite pieces among her amazing work! The quartz points are just gorgeous, with an evocation of so many of the inspirational sources for the artisan, from the beauty and power of nature to the geological links of Earth and ancient times. Nature has crafted the style of these stones, and Catherine has honored that: she presents the quartz points in a way that highlights their natural quality, and then she applies stylistic sense and design balance via black onyx beads and sterling. As Catherine notes in her listing, quartz reputedly is a healing power stone that awakens the wearer to the beauty of nature. Certainly, this necklace as a whole is a wake-up call to beauty—and a great example of the art in this artisan's approach to jewelry creation. 

"Ancient Voice": Fossil Ammonite Necklace with Freshwater Pearls & Swarovski Crystals"A Passion for Chocolate": Chocolate Jasper Necklace with Freshwater Pearls & Swarovski Crystals

Aquamarine Gemstone Necklace with Sterling Beads
"Cool, Cool Waters"
At Shadow Dog Designs, it seems there is always at least one piece of jewelry (and usually more) with a focal element that designates peace, and I've included two current examples below. However, in featuring one of Catherine's peace-connected works, I've chosen this lovely aquamarine creation because its subtleties might not attract as much notice as the others, and that would be a shame, as this is an outstanding piece! The color of the stones is so calming, and there is such a gentle quality to the simple but highly elegant jewelry design. Its clasp is elegant as well, with a lovely sterling extender chain. Catherine remarks in her listing that this piece feels amazing when worn. I imagine it looks amazing too! All in all, a wonderful artisan creation!

"Peace on Earth": Sterling Peace Sign Earrings with Swarovski Crystals"PAZ": Peace Necklace with Lava Stone & Swarovski Crystals

Leopardskin Jasper Necklace with Freshwater Pearls & Sterling
"Earth Dancer"

Catherine's love of nature and love affair with stones dovetails in this lovely chunky leopardskin jasper necklace. This type of jasper is itself an amazing attraction, as Catherine notes in her listing, and the jasper used here is particularly marvelous with its color range of medium pinks, mellow yellows, rusty red, khaki greens, dark browns, and dark greys to black. She has added little sterling beads and brown freshwater pearls to complement these special stones. The result is "Earth Dancer" - a jewelry creation that is a perfect union of Mother Nature's artistic flair and the artisan's impeccable taste and creative eye! 
"Canyonlands": Sea Sediment Jasper Necklace with Shell Beads"Beachcomber": Shiva Shell Necklace with Orange Coral & Sterling

Purple Charoite Earrings with Copper & Swarovski Crystals

It was difficult selecting the last piece to feature in this article, but after much debating, I've chosen these purple charoite earrings in tribute to Catherine's lifelong love of stones. The charoite rounds look like some of the most amazing stones you could ever find! As the artisan explains in her listing, charoite is found in only one area of the world, near the Chary River in Russia. It is typically heat-treated to bring out its lustrous qualities. "Chary" means "charm" or "magic" in Russian, and once the stones are treated, they are magical indeed! The charoite of these earrings has shimmering purple bands that, along with the lovely khaki-green Swarovski crystals, will bring an "otherworldly" sparkle and glitter to your ears. So beautiful!

"Copper Elegance": Copper Sterling Cross Earrings"Ancient Voices": Copper Ammonite Earrings with Lime Swarovski Crystals

I hope you have enjoyed this article and will take some time to browse Shadow Dog Designs on ArtFire. There are so many more wonderful artisan jewelry pieces to discover! Plus, Catherine devotes much care to her listings, providing a wealth of details on each piece. Her listings are more than informative—they're fascinating! All of Catherine's links are provided below the following photos of Chase, Loki, and Mesa—the beautiful beloved "shadow dogs."

Links for Shadow Dog Designs
Catherine's Shop on ArtFire  • ArtFire Blog  • Facebook  • Flickr  • Twitter  • Pinterest

Catherine also belongs to the Checked In Today! Guild on ArtFire—so do I! In case you're interested, a link to the guild's blog is here.

Very best wishes to Catherine and to you from PrettyGonzo!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas to All!

To celebrate Christmas Eve, I thought I would share an excerpt of poetry from a song by Henry Tudor (Henry VIII), King of England (1491–1547).

A Picture from My Favorite Holly Tree

Green Groweth the Holly

Green groweth the holly,
So doth the ivy.
Though winter blasts blow never so high,
Green groweth the holly.

As the holly groweth green
And never changeth hue,
So I am, ever hath been,
Unto my lady true.

Green groweth the holly,
So doth the ivy.
Though winter blasts blow never so high,
Green groweth the holly.

Gonzo would like to wish everyone a very happy holiday – although at the moment, visions of kitty treats are dancing in his head. :) So I'll say it for him:

The Sweet Wee Cat

Happy Christmas, Everyone!
And Best Wishes for a Wonderful
New Year from PrettyGonzo!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fantastic Features on PrettyGonzo - And More!

In the past year, I have felt honored by the generous support of several highly talented ArtFire artisans who have either featured my shop in their blogs or included my handmade jewelry in their blog articles. I'm planning a special holiday gift guide that includes the outstanding work of these artisans, but here I would like to share easy links to their fun and informative articles. Such sharing is way overdue, and I hope you will check them out!

Feature by Shadow Dog Designs
Featuring PrettyGonzo
 These articles focus on my ArtFire shop, the impetus behind its genesis, and the sweet wee cat that inspired its name and design. The features have given me a great deal of courage as a first-time seller and creator of handmade jewelry, and my gratitude for that is immense. Please take a look! I've also included links to the shops of these wonderful artisans—simply click on their names. Hope you enjoy!

From Shadow Dog Designs: An article
published HERE at Handmade News

From Entwined Vines: To read an interview
with PrettyGonzo, just CLICK

From Zoomgraphik: From her artisan
of the week series, found HERE

Including PrettyGonzo
These offerings include jewelry from my shop. All of them are highly interesting, with topics that range from Czech glass to faux pearls to what colors communicate and so much more. It's amazing what you can learn from such wonderful articles. Please click the titles to check them out!

By Shadow Dog Designs:
Christmas Gift Ideas from the JCUiN! at Handmade News or here at Shadow Dog's ArtFire blog
Eclectica: Jewelry from the JCUiN at Handmade News or here at the artisan's ArtFire blog
The Many Faces of Czech Glass! at Handmade News or here at ArtFire

Bead Spotlight: Faux Pearls at Sage's Inspirational Beading blog
Bead Spotlight: Bicones at Inspirational Beading

By Epicetera:
Glass Beads and Baubles: Techniques Used to Make Them at Epicetera's ArtFire blog
Precious Pearls: How They Are Formed, Colors, and Shapes at her ArtFire blog

By Strega Jewellry:
Colors Talk Part 2 at Strega's Wordpress blog
We Got the Funk at her blog

By PersonalOasis:
This artisan included me in two ArtFire blog posts: Clasp Types and Overview of Earrings Findings. These posts are now unavailable, as she has a new blog: PersonalOasis - Jewelry

By Shanghai Tai:
Jasper in All of Your Favorite Fall Colors at Shanghai's blog on Blogger

By Kindred Images:
A Few Finds and a Few Collections at the artisan's Blogger blog. Kindred Images now has her own website, so that is where her name-link leads!

My major thanks to all these artisans! 

Please don't forget to check out their talented work! And this holiday season, please consider the wonders of handmade when shopping for gifts - these are items in which the creative spirit has been invested as well as a great deal of heart. The personal touch of artisan creations is something special, and the gift of handmade is the perfect solution to that search for something outside "the big box."

Happy holiday shopping and, as always, best wishes from Gonzo and me!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Poetry for Your Reading Pleasure: The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat — by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat:
They took some honey, and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
    You are
    You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing!
Oh! let us be married; too long we have tarried,
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the bong-tree grows;
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,
With a ring at the end of his nose,
    His nose,
    His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
    The moon,
    The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Illustration by Edward Lear
Today Edward Lear (1812-1888) is probably best remembered for his nonsensical poetry and prose, but he was well known in his day as a serious artist and illustrator. Supposedly he even gave Queen Victoria drawing lessons. He helped to popularize the limerick and was never above coining a phrase or inventing words (such as runcible) when the ones available to him simply would not do. The Owl and the Pussy-Cat is one of his most beloved poems. Igor Stravinsky (famous for his composition The Rite of Spring) set the poem to music in the 1960s, and it has been the basis of various songs and books, including The Quite Remarkable Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame. Lear himself was an admirer of the poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Sweet Wee Cat

Anyone who shares life with a feline type knows, there's not a creature on earth more adept at getting cosy than a cat. "The Gonze" has special spots for getting especially comfortable, and he loves this spot on the parlor couch—and the very soft sheet I folded up and put on the couch just for him. :)

Best Wishes and Happy Autumn from PrettyGonzo!