Sunday, May 25, 2014

Impromptu Visit to the Venice Canals (In Los Angeles, That Is)

Today my daughter had her friend Lauren visiting from Washington, DC, so I picked up the girls and Natalie asked if we could visit the Venice Canals.  I was delighted by that request!  This has been one of my favorite spots for many years, and even though I was only toting my iPhone camera, I couldn't resist taking pictures.  I am ever inspired by this lovely place.
By way of a brief history, the canals were man made in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney, to mimic the canals of Venice, Italy.  Although initially popular, the public lost interest with the dawn of the automobile, and many of the canals were filled in by 1929.  They fell into disrepair by the 1940's,  and remained that way until they were refilled and renovated in 1993.  Today it is a real joy to walk the sidewalks of this tiny gem of a neighborhood and take in the charming, artistic homes and beautiful flowers, amidst a peaceful water setting.
Even though there wasn't much sun today, the gorgeous colors of the various gardens lit up my day, ranging from deep blue to brilliant purple to vibrant orange.

I loved this whimsical pink flamingo fence surrounding the front of one of the properties.
Many homes had the soothing sounds of water features, and I thought this one was very clever.
And, speaking of water, how about this home with its very own lap pool!  Awesome!
There were many different types of outdoor sitting areas, where the residents could relax with a glass of wine or cup of tea and a good book, with the view of the canals in their front yard.

The canals are a great place to get outdoor decorating ideas, 
discover new flowers, 
take in some charming architecture,
and enjoy the peaceful feeling of being next to the water.  And you'll probably spot some ducks, too!  

And when you finish your stroll, you can head on over to Abbot Kinney Blvd., for some fun shopping and a little treat.  We stopped at "Lemonade", for some custom, ice cold lemonade, and a colorful and delicious macaroon.
A completely fun and enjoyable afternoon.  Hope yours was great, too!  Next time you are looking for an interesting "something to do", try taking in the canals.

And now, it's time to say Buenas Noches!
xoxo Linda

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Beautiful Big Sur

We took a trip up North this week for a few days to celebrate my daughter's birthday and my son's graduation from college.  A glorious time!  On our way home, we took Highway 101 south from Santa Cruz to Cambria, and I was once again reminded of how blessed we are by all the beautiful scenery in California.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share some pictures with you of our spectacular coastline around Big Sur.
Although the day was gray and moody, the color of the sea was still vibrant, with a brilliant turquoise churning close to the shore.
The coastal plant life added little dots of color amongst the green and brown.
Of course the view is spectacular as you approach the historic Bixby Bridge, built in 1932 over Bixby Creek.  The bridge is one of the tallest single span concrete bridges in the world, and one of the most photographed along the Pacific Coast, according to Wikipedia.  It was a blessing to the residents of Big Sur in that time who were virtually cut off from supplies during winter prior to the construction of the bridge.
The signs approaching the bridge remind us to take the curve slowly, and be careful not to get too close to the edge.  While Googling the Bixby Bridge, I was saddened to learn that there had been a fatal car crash on this bridge just recently, in January of this year, where a young woman of 20 was killed and her companion, 26, critically injured when their car hurtled off the bridge.  A grim reminder to drive with care in this winding coastal area.
Continuing south along the 101, I was able to capture another nice shot looking north towards the bridge.
If you read my blog often, you will know I am a cow lover, and am always so happy when I see them along the road.  Eduardo will tell you that I must exclaim "Cows" every time, and include them in my post.  So here they are grazing on this ocean bluff, and even though they are just tiny black dots, they are nonetheless duly noted!  You can also see that there are brown spots among the green here, a sign of the drought in California.
The sun started to poke through the clouds as we advanced.  You see many of these lovely yellow wildflowers along the drive, and I especially liked the way they glowed in the late afternoon sun. 

Just to catch the view, we made a quick stop at Nepenthe, at the famous Phoenix restaurant and gift shop.  Look at these gorgeous trees!
Back on the road, we drove through this small stone tunnel right before Limekiln State Park, which I don't remember seeing before.  I couldn't seem to find anything about in on Google.  Is this new?  Anybody know anything about it?
Looking back towards the northwest, the sun dipped low in the sky and made for a pretty picture as we approached San Simeon, home of Hearst Castle and one of my personal favorite spots along the coast.  If you can ever catch an evening tour at the castle, I highly recommend it.  Is is unforgettable!
We stopped at Piedras Blancas near San Simeon to snap a few pictures and take in the sounds of the elephant seals that make their home in this area.
Simply charming and delightful, you can't help but smile when you see them.  And I always exclaim, "How can they stand to go swimming here?  It's so COLD!".  But I guess by the look of their big round bellies, you can tell that they are built for the weather here.
As day turned to night, we pulled into Cambria to have a late dinner, and ultimately spend the night.  The next day we took some time getting to know the shops of Cambria, where I rediscovered a distinct love of MERMAIDS in the town.  I have loved Cambria for many years, and this is one of the reasons why.  Don't be surprised to find some of my work there the next time you visit.  More on that as it develops.  

But for now, sweet dreams, thanks for reading my blog, and to all a Good Night.

xoxo Linda

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Learning to Clean the Casting for our Brass Mermaid Jewelry

This week I spent Wednesday evening in downtown Los Angeles at the studio, learning how to clean casting.  Since we are producing a line of mermaids using lost wax casting, I wanted to be hands on in the process.  So far I've learned how to make a mold, and how to use the wax injector.  Next I learned what to do once the casting is finished, and the pieces are still attached to the "tree", as you can see below.
First I was given a job at the sink, scrubbing the cast pieces with a wire brush to remove the white gesso.
Although I am smiling, this was pretty hard work, but they eventually came clean.  Next, I took my sore arms over to the workbench, where Eduardo used a jewelry saw to cut each piece off of the "tree".  We then reheated the pieces with the torch to make them easier clean with sandpaper.  Here I am looking very professional with the torch!

After the pieces were sufficiently warmed, it was time to do the sanding, which was in three steps, working my way from the roughest to the finest sandpaper.  This part was very relaxing and meditative to me, and I actually liked it a lot.  I was good at this.  Must have to do with growing up around all those power tools that my dad had!

The entire process from scrubbing the pieces at the sink to using the three types of sandpaper took me about four hours to clean ten pieces.  It gave me great insight into the work that goes into casting!  Here are the ten finished pieces, ready for polishing and inserting the stones.
I was proud of the work that I did and slept like a baby that night.  Stay tuned to see the final project once the piece is wire wrapped with a stone by Eduardo, and then beaded by yours truly to make a beautiful and artistic finished product.

xoxo Linda

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ancient Relics in Mexico Depicting Motherhood

Happy Mother's Day

La Maternidad, Milagro Infinito del la Humanidad
(Motherhood, the infinite miracle of humanity"
Museo de la Cuidad Huamantla, Tlaxcala, Mexico

Family, Archeological Museum, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
I haven't written my blog for a while, as we haven't been traveling for a bit. But I still have lots to share, so I decided to start writing today, beginning with the message that I just sent out in my email newsletter.
In honor of Mother's Day, here are a few pictures of ancient relics that I was lucky enough to view and photograph firsthand last year in the museums of Mexico.  These primitive pieces of art depicting the family bring me such delight.  They remind me that motherhood is timeless, indeed the infinite and ultimate miracle, extending across all cultures.  I hope these images make you smile.

Mother and Child, Xalapa Archeological Museum, 
Veracruz, Mexico 

Family, Archeological Museum, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico

And lastly, although I lost my own mother almost 23 years ago, I am blessed to be a mother myself, and here are my own little miracles, Tommy and Natalie.  What an honor to be their mom!!

I wish you all a blessed Mother's Day!!
Enjoy this most special of days, and make some Mother smile!