Monday, June 30, 2014

Ta and Da

By: Julie L. Cleveland

You know that feeling of deep satisfaction when you have completed a task. You remember those days when you didn’t think you were going to get through it, and you scoff at your disbelief.

I host countdowns to holidays twice a year that run for about 12 weeks. When we first start these countdowns, everyone of us is both excited and yet, we let out long sighs knowing that it is 12 weeks. We commit to the project, and we go forward. Amazingly enough, these countdowns seem to fly past us, and the next thing we know, it’s over and Christmas is here, or Mother’s Day is around the corner.

Have you ever noticed how traveling is like that?

When you are on your way, the trip is so long, and it takes forever to get there. Then the time flies by, and the trip home is a blink of an eye. While you are on the trip or when you are participating in a big project, you take the time to enjoy yourself along the way because it will be over sooner than you think.

I made a commitment at the first of June to blog every day for the entire month. I did not do this on a whim. I actually looked at my calendar and decided that I could commit, and I could complete the project. It is very important to me to follow through on commitments. Well, here it is, June 30, 2014, and I blogged every day this entire month. I blogged about a million different things, and I told a lot of travel tales and shared some of my photos. I had a great time showing off my jewelry, and I enjoyed inviting everyone to my front porch to see the pooping baby geese.

While on this trip, I met some really cool people who I would not have met had it not been for the blogathon.

I found some writers whose posts I will continue to read after this is over. I made some new friends, and I learned about things that I would never have read had it not been for the blogathon.

It was a fun trip, and now, like all trips, I am tired, and I think I will sit on the front porch and enjoy a cold, locally microbrewed beer.

Thank you for joining me, and enjoy,

Julie and Blu


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Classic Chevys

By: Julie L. Cleveland


I have been doing a big project that has revolved around classic Chevrolets, and I have had a blast with this project. Although, it can be tedious at times, it is great fun to go back and dredge up mechanical and part information on the cars. When I compare this Chevy cop car with the nondescript cars that are on the roads today, I cannot help but be sad.

DSC_0009This is a car that had character, style and oh, look at those fins! While fins were really going out of style in the late 50s, there is something that is nostalgic about them now. I took this photo at a rodrun in West Yellowstone a couple years ago. I really enjoy cars, and I am sad that cars do not have any real individuality today. I guess that is why I like going to the car shows.

From an artistic point of view, this car is perfectly proportioned and has nice, clean lines. The grill is a great offset to the width of the front end, and the eyebrows are perfectly designed to balance the lights. Not all cars are Christine!

I have been all over the country to car shows, and I have found that my photos are well received from other car people. I have sold a lot of copies of my ‘32 Ford shots from a Goodguys show in Tampa, Florida, and I have a shot of the Chevy sitting in the field in the ghost town of Bodie, California.

While I miss these old cars, my Falcon had a steel dash that would take your teeth out if you hit it. It did not have seat belts, so you rode at your own risk.

Though I do not get excited over today’s cars, the safety features have come a long way, so Blu and I are relatively safe in my non-descript beige Chevy Blazer. All the parts are plastic and required to crumple upon impact to absorb the shock of an accident. That and I get more than three miles a gallon of gas in my Blazer. Still, there is no power in the Blazer. There is power in that cop car.

I still love cars. I just love the ones that go fast and grumble at a stop light, and there is nothing wrong with that.


Julie and Blu


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fellow Bloggers from Artfire

By: Julie L. Cleveland

In my Nose in a Book post I introduced you to a few of my fellow bloggers from the Artfire blogging guild, and I promised to introduce you to more of my blog friends. Well, here is the post, and here are the rest of the gang.


Nat of Adore by Nat blogs about her party planning tips and her party favors. She uses her blog to introduce new products and designs, like this post about her puppy party favors. Nat travels around the world, so we never know where she will be posting from. Natalie loves all things papercraft.





Anna of Crafts of the Past not only deals in antiquities, she also has jumped into the polymer world. She has a studio filled with treasures from all over the world as well as her own creations. Anna posts educational posts about her finds, and she has an alter ego that posts about her venture into working with polymer. In her most recent post as Polly, she discusses the malleably of polymer clay.




Nancy of Wyverndesigns also works in polymer, but she works in fiber as well. She works in macramé, leather and knotting. She also knits and crochets. Her latest post was an introduction post that showcased her designs and her shops.




Michelle of Polkadot Orchid is a new mom, and she does embroidery with an emphasis on custom work. She blogs about a variety of things that include recipes. Many of her posts revolve around how to improve product photography through the use of props and finishing touches in Photoshop. She has been instrumental in teaching a lot of new sellers how to set up their shots.



Chris of Chrysalis Art Glass is one of our newer members, and she is located in Australia. She is a lampwork bead artist, which is my second favorite thing next to polymer. She creates beads, and she designs finished jewelry. She also works in fiber to create felted pieces of wearable art. Chris’s latest post highlights a hand felted oven mitt project.


Now, you have met the entire group!

Stop by and visit their blogs and studios. They will appreciate it.


Julie and Blu


Friday, June 27, 2014

On Birthdays

By: Julie L. Cleveland



On Birthdays


I shall have another one, please and thanks.

I may or may not indulge in red velvet cake. Just as I may or may not go out for dinner.

I will enjoy my family and friends, and I will not look back.

I will look forward to tomorrow and hope that it is a nice enough day to play outside.

I will not worry about things I have on my To-Do list. They will still be there tomorrow.

I will not let anyone give me their problems today.

I will take photos of everything around me that inspires me.

I will remember the day and relish it.

I will get all my obligations out of the way first thing, so I can go play.

I will share pictures and laugh with my friends.

I will read another chapter in the book I am reading.

I will sing and dance to my favorite music.

I will let Blu take me for a walk, and we will chase ducks.

Yes, I shall have another, please and thanks.





Julie and Blu


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lombard Street

Lombard Street in San Francisco

When in San Francisco, take a moment to enjoy the crazy, winding street of thrills. If you are driving an SUV, you won’t enjoy this street as much as if you were driving a Porsche 911, but it’s an entertaining, if not dizzying street.

This famous street is a long zigzag of pavement that seemingly bounces from garage to garage – much like the pinball game that used to come with Windows -  as it cascades down the steep street. It contains eight hairpin turns that will delight any driver who likes winding through mountains. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the maximum speed you can achieve is closer to 10 m.p.h. than rocketing Rocky Mountain descents.

Interestingly, this particular stretch of road is the crookedest road in the world. It is located on Russian Hill.

San Francisco is a fascinating place anyway, so this road just seems to fit into the landscape that is this city. While it is really a huge city, it has an almost charming, small town feel to it. There are plenty of parks and places to walk. It is home to Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. You will find Chinatown and Haight-Ashbury within walking distance, and don’t miss the Fisherman’s Wharf.

San Francisco is steeped in history; both good and bad. It is a well-recognized spot on the map, and until you have walked along the streets, you really cannot appreciate how comfortable this little city is for residents. (Photo courtesy of Julie L. Cleveland 2008)

Here is Bill Cosby’s take on Lombard Street, which I am going to lift for teaching purposes because it is a genuine description of driving the street.

The street, and the difficulty of driving it, is parodied in the Bill Cosby sketch "Driving in San Francisco" on the album Why Is There Air? (recorded in Las Vegas):

"They built a street up there called Lombard Street that goes straight down, and they're not satisfied with you killing yourself that way—they put grooves and curves and everything in it, and they put flowers there where they've buried the people that have killed themselves. Lombard Street, wonderful street." (audience reacts with knowing cheers and applause).

This street has been in many movies, including movies where there are car chases of all things. It is even featured in a release of “Grand Theft Auto”. Really?

No More Cars, Scream Residents

The reason I decided to write about this particular street was that I happened to hear a story about how they wanted to remove all cars from the street. As fun as it was to drive down the street – much like a toboggan , you had to go around to go down it again – I can certainly see why they think it’s a good idea to remove the cars. There weren’t so many accidents as it becomes a convoluted mess when tourists like me try to drive down it and someone inevitably backs up the whole train by being unable to negotiate a hairpin. However, I am going to speculate that the changing demographics in San Francisco have more to do with the ban on cars than any real problems.

Who owns those homes now?

Each home’s garage is located on a pin in the turns, and the city of San Francisco is becoming a city that is overrun and outpriced by a lot of tech workers who have a lot of money, and they are remaking the landscape of San Francisco.

According to reports, the reason the street was closed was that the residents wanted a break, but instead, they got chaos. Just because you stop cars doesn’t mean you stop people. People simply did what they normally do when faced with an obstacle; they went around it. They walked the street, and rightfully so. The anchor for the local news was in a bit a tizzy because there was chaos reigning! Here is an interesting and entertaining piece written about the closure. Car-Free Lombard Street by Aaron Bialick.

Like a Headline Out of SimCity

What is amusing about the entire escapade is the unintended consequences. Yes, there are consequences for every action, and when you shut down a street that only has a narrow, vertical sidewalk and allow folks to leisurely stroll up and down the road without the fear of being run over by a rocketing tourist hanging out the window yelling “Get out of the way,” and the smell of burnt brakes wafting through the air, you are going to have “chaos”.

I don’t agree with shutting the street down, but if they are going to do it, then they need to live with the consequences of that action. It is now a park with a lot of turns and a lot of beautiful flowers that no one ever got to see before, but had plenty – 8 to be exact – chances to run over them.

I hope the so-called experiment works for them, and no matter how it turns out, Lombard Street is still a gorgeous street with a lot of character, and apparently, a lot of characters living on it. Here’s to Lombard Street.


Julie and Blu


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dragon Tears

By: Julie L. Cleveland


My birthstone is both the pearl and the alexandrite. For this particular post, I am celebrating the pearls that have been used in these handmade pieces of jewelry. The artists used natural pearls to create amazing pieces of heirloom quality jewelry. Pearls are both contemporary and traditional. The use of pearls in jewelry promotes wisdom and mystical properties.

Pearls are said to provide the wearer with power, money, luck and protection. They solidify love and engagement. The Chinese believed that when dragons fought, pearls simply fell from heaven. Tears from the gods.

I don’t know about the dragon tears thing, but they are lovely anyway. In all their loveliness, it is still the irritation of the oyster that delivers these beautiful offerings into our hands.

Here are some of the lovely pearl jewelry from the JCUIN guild on Artfire.



Big White Chunky Pearl Dangle Earrings Sterling Silver Wires Handmade


    "Milky Way" - Shell Pearl and Sterling Silver Earrings


    Wedding Earrings White Stick Pearl Cluster Cascade Drops Sterling


    Shell Pink Crystal Pearl Wire Wrap Stud Earrings Gold Filled Handmade


      White and Mauve Freshwater Pearl Dangle Earrings


      Serifinite Pendant with Pearl Accent Set in Sterling Silver psrff1763


      Necklace Potato Pearl and Turquoise Lime Crystal and Pearl Pendant


      Large Freshwater Pearl Drop Earrings, Accessories, 14k Rose Gold Filled,


      Real Pearl wire on a sterling silver Heart



      Ruby Crystal White Freshwater Pearl Earrings Sterling Silver Handmade



      White Coin Pearl Swarovski Handmade Earrings Wedding Bride Jewelry


        Cultured Fresh Water Pearls Dangle Earrings



        Julie and Blu


        Tuesday, June 24, 2014

        Mule Days

        By: Julie L. Cleveland


        My day started out planned, and by mid-afternoon, it went south. It started with a really tight deadline that I was doing remarkably well dealing with and adhering to, but a side trip to the post office took a good schedule that was clipping along as planned and twisted it into a wadded candy wrapper. 

        Bishop 035Normally, my packages are all posted at home using my account with Paypal, but this was an odd-man out package that I had to take in for postage. This particular package had been sent out before and it had been returned back, and now, it was going back out again for the third time the exact same way. It was going Priority and although two of those trips it went for around $17 Priority, suddenly the new girl at the post office wanted $42 to send it for me. I had already stood in line for over 30 minutes. I took my package back out to the car and drove off. Something is very wrong, and the new girl didn’t know what it was and was unable to get help.

        Mule Days

        So, in honor of a day that went south and my stubbornness, I am doing a post about Mule Days in Bishop, California. This will make me feel better because it is about a very cool little event that is held in Bishop to honor mules. We were out there a few years ago as we were traveling to Lone Pine and a few other very cool places. We happened to stumble upon Mule Days and one look at these amazing faces, I had to stay.

        Mule Days is held every Memorial Day weekend, and it has been going strong for 44 years. Over 700 mules compete in a variety of competitions, and I took a lot of photos while I was there. According to their website, they have over 30,000 that go through their gates during the event. I was there; the fairgrounds are not that big.

        (Photo courtesy Julie L. Cleveland – Mule Days, Bishop, California 2009)

        It’s part parade, part rodeo, part 4-H fair and part country fair. It is filled with cowboys and cowgirls dressed in their finest, and the kids ride their mules and enjoy themselves. They even have the longest running non-motorized parade ever.

        Mmm Kettle Corn

        I had my first sample of kettle corn at Mule Days. Oh, yeah, I am a fan now! I took a lot of photos of flowers and roses that I have used in a variety of print projects, and of course, I took a lot of mule photos like this guy hanging over the fence waiting his turn at whatever event he was signed up to participate in.

        Bishop 027

        (Photo courtesy Julie L. Cleveland – Mule Days, Bishop, California 2009)

        Another costume ready for a parade. I don’t know what he was dressed as, but his mule had a cute hat!

        Mule Days is a fun weekend event that had crafts, food and all the other makings of a great county fair, so if you are in the Bishop area around Memorial Day, get to the Mule Days! Bishop is located on 395 right outside of Lone Pine in the Sierras.

        There, now, I feel much better, and the post office is a minor irritation. :)


        Julie and Blu


        Monday, June 23, 2014

        Another Show and Tell Day – Watch Out for Spiders!

        By: Julie L. Cleveland

        Because I have some really big projects that are taking up my time for the next month, I wanted to sneak another show and tell day into my blogging schedule in order to keep up with the planned daily blogs and not wear myself too thin. If you’re ever at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington, look over the edge. Look down. See the two daddy long legs crawling across the top of the building directly below the Space Needle?


        Fun, huh? :)


        Julie and Blu


        Sunday, June 22, 2014

        On the Pond – A Day of Rest

        By: Julie L. Cleveland

        It’s been a busy two months, and I am going to skip a day and show you photos instead. I know that a few of my teachers in grade school used to have “look at picture days”, so I don’t feel bad about it at all. In fact, tomorrow is going to be another one.

        Here is a the pond that I currently find myself living on. We have a lot of ducks that have not brought their babies out, but this pair of Canadian Geese have been happy to parade their little fellows around. I laid on the front porch to get this shot.



        Julie and Blu



        Saturday, June 21, 2014

        In the Mind – Gold and Pearls

        By: Julie L. Cleveland

        Recently, I had the opportunity to place a piece of handmade jewelry into the hands of the stylists of 2 Broke Girls. I have seen the show on occasion, but like most of the television shows, the networks bounce them around, making it difficult to determine when things are on. I am sure they do that because they think certain shows are heavy weights and they will bring the viewers and other shows need to follow those more popular shows or we’ll never see them. I was familiar enough with the story line and the characters that I decided to do some designing for the stylist. This is never a sure shot that something that is given to the stylist will ever make it on the screen, but it is a chance to give your product to someone in television who may use it for something else. You never know what will happen.

        I designed with Caroline (Beth Behrs) in mind. She wears more of the statement type jewelry and charm bracelets, which are ultimately easier for me to design and create due to the nature of my medium. As for the other character, Max (Kat Denning), she wears more leather and wire wrap designs in darker colors. Even so, I had to stick with something less colorful than usual for Caroline. I knew that I would end up working in gold and pearls because her jewelry is primarily gold in color. (She is a misplaced used-to-be-rich girl whose daddy went to prison for some type of Ponzi scheme.) I decided against a charm bracelet because I had no way to know how large her wrist was, which made sizing difficult. I chose to work with a spandex chacha bracelet blank in a small size, so the bracelet can be used on other characters and yet, would be easy to fit any wrist.

        In choosing my colors, I decided I was going to create the entire bracelet out of polymer beads in gold and pearl. I did a complete set of 64 10mm beads to individually wire wrap to each loop on the bracelet. As I was looking at the beads and examining the mica shift within the beads, I decided that to best get the most color from the beads, I had to cut them up. In mica shift, the mica particles line up as long as the polymer is all going one way, but when you introduce contrasting cuts, the mica shifts with the light. The mica has a dull side and a shiny side, so when you cut it or use a texture sheet on it, it moves the particles in different directions, which gives the piece a pattern or design where the mica has moved.




        This is an example of mica shift from Sherry Kellberg at BeadazzleMe on Etsy. This pendant is a single color of polymer that has mica included, which gives the pendant a look of two different colors. In truth, the pendant is one color that has been textured. Sherry finished the piece and turned it into a pendant. I have been a fan of Sherry’s for many years, and she always has the most unique and colorful pieces in her shop. Her skill and creativity always inspires me to reach further and expand my abilities. You can find tutorials and finished jewelry in her shop on Etsy. This piece is sold.





        Cubed Beads

        When I decided to cut my beads for the bracelet, I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to cut them. I experimented with a few ideas, and I ended up cubing the beads with cuts to the sides and tops in an asymmetrical way. Rather than trying to be precise and exact on something so small that the work would have been too tedious, I chose to carve out chunks from the side in a Wilma Flintstone necklace kinda way. I liked the way the beads turned out, and I liked the bracelet a lot. I have not recreated the bracelet for my studio yet, but I will be adding that to my line up as soon as I get a chance.



        Here is the bracelet, and you can see how I used the beads to create a lush bracelet with a lot of movement. I was thinking of the camera and how the lights catch movement in the charm bracelet. Regardless of whether the bracelet is ever used (they were at the end of the season’s filming when this was given to the stylist), I found a new way to add texture to a design, and I will recreate this bracelet for my studio sometime this year. The light does not adequately show the dark and light on the pearl clay, but it is visible on the gold polymer. Those dark patches are not shadows; they are the mica movement in the polymer.



        Julie and Blu


        Friday, June 20, 2014

        The Wizard of Oz

        By: Julie L. Cleveland

        If you have been following my blog, you know that I am enchanted by The Wizard of Oz , and I had the chance to see some of the cool costumes and props at the EMP museum in Seattle (see post Follow the Yellow Brick Road.) Well, I got an email the other day from The Ellen Theatre in downtown Bozeman, Montana that let me know they will be showing the original movie on Saturday night. Cocktails at 6 p.m. and the movie begins at 7 p.m., which is a crazy dream come true for someone who has never, ever seen the movie on the big screen. Saturday night, I will have my red shoes on and will be prepared to be swept away in Technicolor.

        While it may seem silly, I am way too young to have seen the movie when it first hit the theatres, so I jumped at the chance to put down my $5 on an evening over the rainbow. I cannot wait to experience it in its full glory on a large screen. I cannot wait to see details that I have never seen before, and much like Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and Howard of The Big Bang Theory had to see The Raiders of the Lost Ark with 21 never-before-seen seconds, I will wait in line for this showing.


        The Ellen Theatre

        The Ellen Theatre is an old downtown theatre that has been running older movies, like the Wizard of Oz, for new generations to enjoy. We were fortunate enough to go one evening while they were running The River Runs Through It. I had never seen the movie on the big screen, but have a copy of the DVD and have seen it many times over the years. I just never really saw it from the beginning to the end. Since the movie was filmed here in Bozeman, this was a special treat because it was the anniversary of the movie, and the theatre was filled with special guests who were there for the first premier.

        The Ellen Theatre is one of those glorious old theatres that have been restored, and people like Gary Cooper have a star on the walk in front of theatre since he went to school here and lived in the area at one point. The theatre has all the old crown moldings and ornate light fixtures of the early days of theatres, and it is a great place to spend a few hours. It represents a time gone by, and it is appropriate that I relive a childhood classic under gilded trim and seated in plush seats.

        If you have an old theatre in your town, you are lucky. They are going away and being replaced by stadium seating and cineplexes that have all the charm of paste. It’s rough for a theatre like this to stay in business, but they do not need to compete with the multiplexes, they only need to do like The Ellen does, and that is have a cocktail hour and show a great classic movie. There are a lot of people like me that will go to these theatres to see classic favorites that we never had the chance to see on the big screen.

        Help restore or reopen your hometown theatre and give a future generation a place to explore the past.


        Julie and Blu


        Thursday, June 19, 2014

        Nose in a Book

        By: Julie L. Cleveland

        I always have my nose in a book or a magazine. While I don’t buy many magazines that are not somehow related to my trades, like jewelry, polymer or design, I do read magazines like National Geographic or will pick up something while hanging out in Barnes and Noble. I read a lot of novels and non-fiction books, but sometimes, I just want to read something quick and easy. Maybe like a blog post. I have a few minutes to kill, and someone has written something interesting, so I want to read it.

        In addition to the blogging daily challenge I am involved with through membership of the WordCount blogathon, I am also involved in a guild that concentrates on blogging, sharing and commenting. The guild is a group of us that decided to use our internal blogs on the handmade site, Artfire, to drive Google traffic to our individual studios on the website. The theory sounded good, but since all but a couple of us blog outside of Artfire on our sites, like Blogger or Wordpress, I am not sure that the original thought still stands. However, it has given us a chance to get to know our co-studio owners better as we learned about their creative process or their travels.

        This little guild is filled with some very talented artists and writers with an array of interests that expand out from simply owning a studio on a marketplace.


        Catherine and her trusty side-kick, Seamus, run ShadowDogDesigns, where she makes amazing gemstone jewelry. Catherine is a former teacher who loves anything science and sky. Here is her latest post about the full moon. Celestial She always tries to incorporate a bit of history and education within her posts, and she takes a few minutes to plug her fellow artists within her posts.




        Debbie of EweniquesEssentials shared her latest trip to the desert. Chihuly in the Desert is a wonderful adventure through the amazing glass art of Chihuly utilizing the backdrop of the Sonoran Desert. She captures both Dale Chihuly’s magnificent glass and the landscape that he drew inspiration from as he created his towering glass work. I have seen his work. He has a display in Seattle, and it is both stunning and colorful. Debbie is a soap maker, and she works in fabric.




        Gunilla Wachtel runs KanweieneaKreations on Artfire where she is an artist that works both with pencils and paints. She works primarily with animals, and her blog posts talk about her relationship with her animals and the subjects she paints. In a recent post, she shared a blog post with a video.




        Pamela of Pebbles at My Feet runs her studio from high up in the Rocky Mountains where she creates gemstone jewelry. While she blogs about designing and jewelry related articles, she does touch on her life in the mountains, like this post about the changing of the leaves around her home. One of her latest posts, Spring Reorganization, gives those of us with tools all over our work bench a lot of great ideas on how to organize our work station.



        There are many others who are part of this group that I will introduce you to in the future, but for now, you can see how diverse we all are. We share the common chord of creativity, and they are equally talented in a range of skills and abilities, which means that creativity is a characteristic that can be used in any number of areas of life. Stop by and visit these artist’s studios and read their blog posts.


        Julie and Blu


        Wednesday, June 18, 2014

        Wall of Guitars

        By: Julie L. Cleveland

        I love music, and I always have. When I was really young, I had a 45 taken away from me for playing and singing too much. Yes, you can play and sing too much. As soon as  you hear it, you will understand how and why it got taken away from me. Turn your speakers DOWN before hitting play!


        Since my life has been filled with music, I enjoyed the guitar exhibit at the EMP museum in Seattle, Washington.

        This was how we were greeted when we walked through the door. As a keyboard player, I was really interested in the one lone keyboard in this tower of power.


        The exhibit is The Guitar Gallery: The Quest for Volume, and the lighting made it hard to grab a lot of really good shots, but the ones I did get were some of the iconic guitars in music history. While I only took a few guitar lessons and can play one song, I do enjoy the sound of a really good guitar player, and I like a lot of different types of music.


        This guitar belonged to Tampa Red, and it is a resonator guitar.


        I know this one is recognizable to all those who rocked in the 80s.


        The Champs.


        The Fendercaster


        The famous Les Paul.


        Finally, the Martin guitar.

        While we were there, they were also doing a tribute exhibit to Nirvana. While, not a huge fan, I did enjoy some of their music because rock and roll bands were few and far between in the 80s, and I was a little tired of Guns and Roses and Def Leppard.




        Julie and Blu