Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Polymer Clay Pillow Beads and Canes from Blue Morning Expressions

Volume 8 Issue 12, December 2011

What's New in December?

Winter Morning Canes and Beads—I never go far without my camera and the beautiful whites and blues of a cold winter snowy morning captured my attention. The sun was rising over the snow and the golds and browns were scattering across the glittery snow. I tried to capture the scene with both my camera and my clay. The browns are the muddy earth as the snow melts, while the pristine whites are the heaps of snow that was untouched by hands and feet. The canes were completed and there are three sets of beads that have been created. Here is what the photo has inspired.


New Canes and Beads—You can find all the new beads and canes on my website or at Artfire under Blue Morning Expressions. Both places have a full selection of my most current canes and both places have them on sale at 35% off.

Merry Christmas! To all my friends and clay enthusiasts, Blu and I wish to send you Christmas greetings for a happy holiday season and a safe New Year.

As always, thank you for all your support and emails.

Until next month,

Julie & Blu


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gobble, Gobble – Things You Might not Know About Turkeys


As we all go about our daily activities preparing for that big feast tomorrow, here are some things you might enjoy knowing about your guest of honor.

Yes, that guest; the turkey!

Turkeys came from the forests in North and Central America in grassy areas with hardwood trees. These trees make a great place for the turkeys to roost to at night.

They feed early in the morning and then later on in the mid-afternoon. They can be seen first thing in the morning, but do not try and sneak up on a turkey. They have excellent hearing and their vision is close to 270 degrees.

If you startle them, they will take off and they can fly 55 miles an hour, which makes it hard to grab one for a feast. They can cover a good 25 miles in an hour at a dead run, so unless you are in good shape, it is pointless to chase one on foot.

Good news is, the domesticated turkey cannot fly, so if you are looking for one that will grace the center of your table on Thanksgiving, it is much easier to catch one of the farm raised ones. Turkeys were the first domesticated birds – sorry chickies. North Carolina is the home of the most farm raised turkeys in the United States.

Benjamin Franklin nominated these noble birds to be our national bird since they were dignified and stately. They might also have provided a mirror profile to Mister Franklin as well. (Turn a turkey sideways and see if I am not right about this).To his dismay, our Bald Eagle was appointed national bird.

The Apache would not use any turkey feathers for their arrows; they felt the turkey was a timid bird and not worthy of being used to decorate arrows or to even eat.

Male turkeys gobble and are called “toms”, while females click and the males only use the gobble to call the females during the spring and fall. The rest of the time, they are quiet. They will gobble from sunrise until midday.

The wishbone is used for good luck. It must be better luck for you than the turkey.

Enjoy your turkey day and over 95% of American households will have turkey right along with you.

Winter Morning Canes

To see the finished canes from my Winter Morning color theme, here is the linking post to my Polymer Clay Canes blog

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Susan Carson’s Glacier Paintings – Chalk Horse Gallery

Canadian Glacier

Canadian Glacier
8 x 10 1/2 in watercolor 14x17 framed and matted
This beautiful Canadian scene, affected by global warming,
captures the mountain glacier's size of the 1970's.
So large, then, that sight seers could travel
across it's surface in special buses. Framed in dark wood.
$400.00 includes shipping
Email for More Information
Ice Flow

Ice Flow
Image is 51/2 x 8 in black/white acrylic. Framed and matted at 11x13 1/2.
Here is the flow of the glacier in Alberta,
Canada in the 1970's, tucked between it's rocky cliffs.
A scene, that has been disappearing due to
global warming, which I felt was most appropriate
as a gray value painting.
$400.00 includes shipping
Email for More Information
Ice Road

Ice Road
5 1/2 x 8 acrylic n black and white matted and framed 11 x 13 1/2 in dark wood
This painting shows the Canadian ice field and its craggy
terrain in shades from black to white.
The massive peaks are compared in size by
the stand of pines off to the left, while the
road shows how difficult it is to traverse this landscape.
$400.00 includes shipping
Canadian Glacier

Canadian Glacier
27 x 30 framed oil painting on canvas
Until you see a glacier up close and personal, you may not realize how deep the blues go down into the ice. This painting reflects the coldness that blue ice seems to radiate. The land has been transformed by the ice as you can see by the gradual planes that seem to step down into a cool, blue pool of frozen water. Everything is not completely covered by ice though, the persistant evergreens stand tall along the mountainside. This painting is the perfect addition to any room that speaks of travel and adventure.
$600.00 includes shipping
Canadian Ice Road

Canadian Ice Road
19 x 24 framed oil painting on canvas
For the adventurer, this road will lead to spectacular scenic vistas and wildly carved terraces as it wanders from the meadow into the depths of the mountain pass. You can feel the cold creeping up on you as you begin your ascent into well traveled mountain roads. As each turn and twist switchback between the mountains, the breathtaking views will leave you wanting more. This painting captures the anticipation of a great adventure into colorful and rocky terrain.
$500.00 includes shipping
Canadian Ice Road

Canadian Ice Road
14 x 17 framed oil painting on canvas
It looks like an innocent trail leading up into the mountains, but do not be fooled, this trail will take you to peaks and vistas that will take your breath away. It seems to gradually incline up the side of the mountain, but paths get narrower and narrower as you head towards the summit. Each twist and dip in the path lead you higher. Be sure and stop along the way to do your best to capture the scenic view. This painting will make you long to throw on your backpack and trek up the side of the mountain, just to see the top.
$500.00 includes shipping
Visit to purchase any of these paintings.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Handmade Christmas Gifts for 2011


Shopping has begun for the 2011 season, many folks began to shop last Christmas, but some of us are just beginning our Christmas shopping and are opting to shop handmade for all of our gifts.

When you shop handmade for Christmas, you help to support local artists and their families. They may not be local to you, but many of the artists are from small towns and rural areas and by supporting them, you help their smaller communities thrive.

Small artists are a vital part of their community; they attend local arts and crafts fairs, are community involved and often times give to local charities.

When you shop handmade for your holiday gifts, you are dealing directly with the artist, designer and manufacturer. There are no middlemen, there are no overseas factories, there are no jobs that have been outsourced and you will get hands-on customer service. A local artisan will answer any questions you might have and if you need help with your purchase, they are there to help you.

Shopping on the internet isn’t always easy. You have questions and you need to know what materials are used in the product. You may have other questions that are not answered in the item description. You will probably find that your artist is right there to help you with your purchases and to make suggestions with your gift buying.

When you buy from a local artist, you are buying a one of a kind item and you can be assured that the gift recipient will not need to return the item due to duplication. Your artist has put a lot of time and thought into the design of the item and will use the best materials possible.

Here is your 2011 Handmade Christmas Gift List!

* Gifts for Mom or Grandma

From Baskets by Rose – Artfire Shop

Pinecone Basket handwoven and hand painted

Create a Family Tradition with this beautiful pinecone basket.


Mom or Grandma would love this hand woven basket with an adorable hand painted base. Each pine cone and pine branch has been painted by hand, making this definitely a one of a kind basket.

Even though it would make a lovely winter serving basket, it can be used all year round. Fill it full of home baked goodies, like cookies and breads. You can even re-gift it filled with treats for the family.

Make this basket a family tradition where everyone must refill it from the kitchen and give it to another family member.

It is made from natural reed and is 13 1/2" x 11" x 3" tall.

From Candy Apple Crafts – Artfire

Mother Wall Plate with Poem, Flowers, and Cut out Edge, Porcelain

Mother’s are God’s gift to us


Every time mom sees this plate, she will know that you love her enough to have given her this keepsake.

This lovely poem reads:

God could not be everywhere
With so many things to do
He gave a gift most rare
So loving and so true
A wonderful angel most fair
A mother dear as you

What mother can resist an “awww” when they read this poem and have tissues handy when you give this gift to your mom or grandmother. It is sure to bring a tear to their eyes and be prepared for prolonged hard hugs.

Vintage 1977 Enco and is ready for hanging. A mother has cared for this plate, as it is in excellent condition.

From Shymousee Handmade Clothes – Artfire

Peppermint Scented Round Pillar Candle

Light up the holidays!


Peppermint IS Christmas and this parrafin and soy wax candle will not only bring the scents of the holidays to your nose, everyone loves the gentle glow of a lit candle.

After all the Christmas presents are unwrapped and you are gathering around the table for the Christmas dinner, light this candle and let the scent of the peppermint blend with turkey and ham and all the other scents that say “holidays”.

This candle is a thoughtful gift for mom or grandma and can be used to remember the holidays long after Christmas dinner has been eaten and the dishes are done.

From Boo Beads Jewelry – Artfire

Vintage Style Floral Wallpaper Image Antiqued Brass Bracelet

Give grandmother a piece of nostalgia!


Tucked away somewhere in an attic is a bit of this old wallpaper that used to adorn the walls and halls of Grandma’s house. Reproduced on scrapbook paper, these nostalgic designs come to life when set in antique brass bezels and wrapped around Grandma’s wrist.

Of course, you can give this lovely bracelet to mom too.

This bracelet measures 7 and a half inches and has a lever clasp.

From BiBikoh – Artfire

Emerald Green and Yellow Crystal Flower Handmade Earrings on Gold-filled Ear Wire

Green crystal snowflakes for the holidays


You will be tempted to keep these lovely earrings for yourself, but you must give them to mom!

Swarovski crystals dance and twinkle from these magnificent handcrafted earrings. Created from 4mm emerald green bicone crystals, 8mm round emerald green crystals and 6mm light yellow round crystals make these earrings perfect for their glitter. They belong in the holiday lights.

Of course, they can be worn all year round for a lovely accent to any attire, and can be worn casually.

From Appalachian Heritage Soaps – Artfire

Apple Soap Handmade All Natural with Real Apple & Spice Essential Oils

Smell like a holiday every day!


Mom, grandma and apple pie!

With this soap, remind mom and grandma that it is time to make another one of their mouthwatering apple pies. Or, go and buy one from the local market.

Nothing reminds us of home like the smell of home baking escaping from the oven when we come in from a cold winter day. Grandma’s house used to envelope you in scents of fresh breads, cookies or pies.

A little of this long-lasting scented soap will take you back to those days.

This apple soap is made with pureed apples and spicy oils which are accented once they are applied in a hot shower.

This soap is made from natural oils and coco butter.

From Linda Landig Jewelry – Artfire

Christmas Bracelet Handmade Woven Button Clasp Green Red Gold Holiday

You might need to give this gift early


This one of a kind handwoven hand beaded bracelet might need to be an early Christmas present for your mom, grandma or sister. They will want to wear this gorgeous bracelet to all their holiday parties, get-togethers and social events. They will want this to be part of their holiday wardrobe every year from here on out.

Woven from Czech glass beads of red and green, these beads reflect light and make this a glittering and twinkling set of lights for your wrist. This is handwoven and expresses the heart of the artist as she captures the spirit of the season.

Not only will you be celebrating the holidays with this lovely bracelet, you will be wearing a piece of art by a real artist.

Just remember to give it as a gift.

From Cusp Designs – Artfire

Joy Holly Leaf Quilted Christmas Card

Send grandma a one of a kind Christmas card


Sing “Joy to the World” and give this one of a kind card. Each card is completely handcrafted and while the design may be the same, the cards will vary.

This Christmas card is perfect for the person who does a lot of sewing or quilting, the leaves have been hand sewn to the vintage style paper.

A cute red button sewn with red yard add a great holly accent to the card.

From Pretty Gonzo – Artfire

Pink Crystal Awareness Ribbon Earrings, Swarovski, Sterling Hooks

Celebrate life and the defeat of a deadly disease


These awareness earrings are really for anyone in your life who has come face to face with the battle of cancer and triumphed. Remind them that they have won the fight and that each day is precious.

Swarovski crystal bicones and sterling silver earhooks are part of this overall design. Crystals send dancing lights as they sparkle in the sunshine.

The length is 2-inches which include the earhooks.


* Gifts for Dad or Grandpa

From Tomlinson Photography and Design - Artfire

Plymouth Barracuda, Automotive and Classic Car Photography, Lime Green

Relive those muscle car days!


They do not make cars like they used to!

A 1970 Plymouth Barracuda in lime green may not appeal to everyone, but if you have a muscle car maniac for a dad, brother or even grandpa, this is a perfect gift.

This classic car hood photo will deck out a desk, den or garage for the car enthusiast. While not everyone is a Mopar nut, those who are will drool over the reminder of the day when this beast took to the streets as every day rides and were a head turner then.

For some, 1970 is not that far in the past and can still remember how much fun this car was to drive.

From Ginger’s Garden – Artfire

Handmade Artisan Shaving Stick and Travel Shave Soap

Let Dad take home with him while he is on the road


Sweet tobacco scents waft from the ends of lit pipes as men gather around to play checkers over a barrel in the back of a country store.

Maybe a little too much Mr. Drysdale and Green Acres, but certainly the scent of sweet tobacco has a place in the memory of many men, as well as women and it calls us home.

Remind Dad that home is not far away with this sweet tobacco scented shaving stick. It can be used on his wet face straight from the package, or he can swirl a damp shaving brush over the top of the stick to create a great lather.

Either way he uses it, it will remind him that home is close and the people he loves are even closer.

From JMcCoy from Logs to Lumber – Artfire

Mahogany Pen and Pencil set

Dad would love this set on his desk.


The soft feel of smooth wood in your dad’s hand will remind him that you thought enough to give him a gift that he can use everyday. This pen and pencil set is not only a reminder of you, it has such a gorgeous classy look and feel that it adds power to his signature.

This set has been completely handcrafted and then sanded to 12000 grit before several coats of lacquer were applied. It was again wet sanded before being waxed and buffed to bring out the natural lines and swirls of the wood.

It comes with a maple presentation box making it a ready-to -gift for dad or grandpa.

From Norma’s Bath and Body – Artfire

lime after shave gel

Save the man you love from his razor


Keep that man’s face kissable by giving him the gift of after shave gel. He might get more kisses when he smells like a Margarita.

Aloe vera will help him to smooth out that razor burn and to keep his face moisturized and feeling smooth and fresh. Yes, he will smell like a lime and you may be tempted to add Tequila, but more importantly, he will enjoy the way his face feels after he has pampered it.

This 2-ounce jar will give him a lot of shaves and might even get you a lot of kisses.

Perfect for dads, hubbies and brothers.

From Christie Cottage – Artfire

1954 Chevy Car Coaster, Ceramic, Collage

He can put his cup of coffee on a piece of history


The 1954 Chevrolet reached sales of over one million automobiles!

Celebrate the beauty and lines of this classic auto by giving your guy his own set of coasters that sport the clean lines that started a love affair with the Chevy.

For those guys who are too young to remember these on the first go-round, they will enjoy the beautiful Bel-Air which can still be found on the road today. Those guys who head off to rod runs and swap meets will appreciate these great coasters.

Even if your guy isn’t a car guy, he will still enjoy having a place to put his drink that will keep both of you happy. These 4.25x4.25 inch coasters have been created with a cork bottom that will keep your surfaces from being scratched.

Everyone wins with these cool coasters. Christie’s Cottage also has other makes and models.

From Signs of Elegance – Artfire

Football Word Art Typography Wood Sign

You will score a touchdown with this sign!


Be your man’s cheerleader and give him a sign that lets him know that you are a part of the game. This great sign is for anyone in your life who is crazy about football and has an extra space in their office or den that this football sign would fit perfectly.

Dads, grandpas and sons will all appreciate something that reminds them of their favorite game all year round.

Every sign is natural wood and comes with all the grains and knots which become part of the design. This sign comes with a sawtooth hanger, making it easy to hang in any room.

This sign measures approximately 11-1/4" x 24" x 3/4".

* Gifts for Sister or Brother

From Shadow Dog Designs – Artfire

Christmas Candy Peppermint Lampwork Sterling Earrings Handmade Red

Let your ears celebrate the holidays too!


What says Christmas like peppermint candies? Well, nothing – these little candies are well recognized as a Christmas tradition.

The smell of peppermint and cinnamon in the air makes the mouth water and the heart long for Christmas gatherings.

These lovely red and white lampwork beads in the traditional peppermint swirl design are delicately balanced on sterling silver earwires and ready to wear. Each bead is handmade and look good enough to eat!

From Sea Breeze Jewels - Artfire

Coconut lime verba soap spa bar with goats milk, vitamin e and aloe vera

Send your sister to the tropics for the holidays!


Some yummy coconut and lime verba soap will transport your sister, daughter or mother to a tropical spa every time they take long relaxing bath using this bar of goats milk, vitamin E and aloe vera heaven.

The clean scent and smooth skin will add long baths to their to-do lists.

Goats milk soaps are perfect moisturizers and have a long lasting lather giving your skin a smooth and healthy glow. With the winter weather here, your skin dries out easily, making this a timely gift.

This is a 5-ounce bar of soap with a natural base.

You probably should buy more than one bar, once you get this wonderful soap in your hands, you might need to keep it for yourself.

From Metal Artistry – Artfire

Sterling heart with copper wings and bling pendant necklace oxidized

Give your sister your heart this year!


Metal Artistry in motion has been uniquely captured in this heart pendant. By using sterling silver and copper, the contrast between metals add movement and life to this winged heart.

The forged and texturized metals add dimension and textural interest to this heartfelt necklace.

The heart is in motion and this handcrafted piece of jewelry will tell your sister, mother or grandmother that you love them. A one of a kind piece of jewelry is a personal gift and this necklace will go with jeans for a casual look, or worn over a black sweater for an elegant look. Either way, this piece can go to work or play and will fit in either place.

The heart is 2 inches wide and over 1 inch high on a 16-inch silicon necklace.

From Hummingbirdtak – Artfire

Pewter Eagle Pendant Focal 43mm New

For your sibling, the jewelry artist!


Give your sister or brother this beautiful eagle pendant for their own gift giving. If you have a family member who enjoys creating handcrafted jewelry, this pendant would make a lovely addition to a necklace.

The eagle is a majestic bird and won out over the turkey for our national symbol, even though Benjamin Franklin voted enthusiastically for the turkey. This eagle makes for a majestic pendant; you can see how it beat out the turkey.

They may want to keep it for themselves and it would look great on a leather cord. It measures 43mm by 33mm and because it is pewter, it makes a subtle statement.

From Words to Wear – Artfire

Hand Stamped Trio Name Charm Necklace with Birthstone Crystals Custom

Order quickly to give your sister a personalized gift


Hurry and order this sister trio necklace set, even if you do not order it for your sister, you can order one for mom with you and your sister’s names on it.

Give mom a gift that she can wear everyday to remind her of you girls. Give it to your sister with your mother’s name on there as a memorial or in her honor. Either way, this gift is one that will not soon be forgotten and because it is unique to you and your sister, it will be kept as an heirloom.

Three sterling silver charms are hand-stamped, one letter at a time, to create these unique charms on this one of a kind necklace. The charms are accented with Swarovski crystal charms of your choice of birthstones.

There is room for 12 letters and the charms are strung from an 18-inch sterling silver chain with a 1-inch extender.

From Kokona Moon Designs – Artfire

Love, Joy and Peace Handmade Christmas Gift Greeting Card

Send your sister or brother a handmade card for the holidays


Holidays are special when you add handmade to them and this holiday card simply sends the holiday message to your sister or brother.

Of course, this card can be sent to anyone you want to send holiday greetings to.

Kokona Moon Designs on Artfire has many different holiday greeting cards to choose from, so if you are more interested in sending a cardinal on a winter branch or frolicking snowmen, she has those too.

From Busy Fingers – Artfire

Autumn Leaf Granny Square Cap

Keep your sister’s head warm


This handcrafted crocheted cap will keep ears warm and noggins snowless. Your sister will love the idea of not having a cold head and its all because you care enough to give her this cute hat for a Christmas present.

Buy one for yourself and pretend you are twins.

Each cap has been crocheted by hand by a real person in North Carolina and she says if you like, you can have a different color or size. As shown, this is a ladies average.

From The Crafty Turtle – Artfire

Bright Bold Necklace

Sister, mother, aunt or grandma will love this


Big bold bright beads! Say that three times really fast.

This design is for the sister who is sassy and is not afraid to express herself. These bold colors come into the room before she will and they say “look at me”.

This wild necklace goes with EVERYTHING! It does not matter what you are wearing, there is a color in here that will fit with your outfit and it goes with casual or dressy.

It is 20-inches of fun, which makes it a perfect gift for your outgoing, fun loving sister.

From New Hampshire Land Pirate – Etsy

Hee Haw framed (8x10) original Photography

Who are you calling a donkey?


Not saying this is what your brother thinks of his boss, but this photo would be a great addition to his office. It is earthy and animalistic and down to earth, oh wait, it is a donkey!

This photo was taken in Vermont and the photographer has the original on display at the Unknown Arts exhibit in Burlington, Vermont.

This donkey is looking for a good place to call home and even if your brother does not want to have this hanging in his office, in case his boss would be offended, he can hang this in his den.

Of course, this donkey would be just as happy hanging in the dining room over Christmas dinner.

From Ewenique Essentials – Artfire

Brown Stripe Toiletry Bag Quilted Cotton Cosmetic Case Zipper Pouch

Give your sister organization tools


You loved to play dress-up together as kids. Now, you can give her a gift that will hold all the cosmetics and dress-up essentials of today.

This zippered pouch is completely handmade and can be used for jewelry, make-up and anything else that you want to tuck into your purse and take on getaways.

Beautiful earthtones make this quilted bag a go-with no matter what purse you are using.

It is 4-inches by 6-inches and can also be used as a small wallet or change purse.

From Martie Rocco Jewelry – Artfire

Guitar string bangle bracelet copper wound antique copper wire GS11-21

Sing along with your sister


Remember the days of singing into the shampoo bottle? Your little sister and her hairbrush singing? She is all grown up now and singing into sound systems that do not have the echo of the bathroom. She is accomplished on the guitar and you are proud of her.

Give her a gift like no other. This guitar string bracelet handcrafted from singer/songwriter and guitar player, Martie Rocco. She has incorporated her used guitar strings into these fantastic bracelets. Not only are you getting a one of a kind gift for your sister, when Martie becomes famous, you will have a collector’s item.

Copper is wire wound around the strings and adds warmth to this lovely flexible bracelet.

* Gifts for the Kids

From Joyfully Sewn Designs – Artfire

Little Girls Apple Jumper with Red Peasant Blouse Sizes 2 and 4

Apple harvest autumns are great times to play


Red peasant blouses and apples make a great combination for autumn wear. Of course, apples are always in vogue and your little one will look great in apples whether they are on the tree or only blooming white flowers.

This is a heavier set for cooler weather and comes with two matching bows.

From the designer:

- This jumper set is available in two sizes: Size 2 & 4.
- The size 2 jumper measures 23" in length and is 23 1/2" around the chest. The peasant blouse has 3/4 length sleeves.
- The size 4 jumper measures 27 3/4" in length with the chest being 25" around. The peasant blouse has 3/4 length sleeves.
- All seams have been professionally finished with a serger.

From Forget Me Not Soap Shop – Artfire

Yellow Duck Handmade Soap Scented with Banana Fragrance

Make scrubbing fun!


Kids do not always wash behind their ears, in fact, sometimes they just run the water and hope you won’t come in to see that you are reading a comic book on the edge of the tub and not in the water.

Make bathing more fun by stuffing the stocking with a duck that smells like a banana.

How much more kid-like can you get than that??

Buy more than one and stuff a few stockings. You might find that those dirty little kids cannot wait to jump in the tub when they have great smelling soap in such fun shapes.

Give one to your sticky-fingered nephew too.

From Blue Morning Expressions – Artfire

Handcrafted Polymer Clay Faux Pearl Clip On Earrings - White

Dress up your little girl with faux pearls


Polymer clay has been used to create these little white pearl clip on earrings for those who do not have pierced ears.

Give your little girl a bit of dress up, or add these to her holiday outfit. Either way, she will feel like a grown up without the need to have her ears pierced. The clip on’s are 10mm and are easy to put on and take off.

Avoid the pain of piercing by allowing your little girl to wear clipon earrings.


Happy shopping for the holidays, I hope that you will consider giving handcrafted gifts for 2011 Christmas season. It is not just for the holidays, these make great gifts all year long.

So many fine artists and crafters have thousands of handmade items that can be used as gifts or keep them for yourself.

Support your local handcrafting artists and give back to the communities.