Monday, July 23, 2012

Creative Procrastination

In my Twitter profile I call myself a creative procrastinator and it's true. There are times when I'm trying to nut out a scene or a plot point when I have to drag myself away from the writing arena and do something else — take a walk, or if it's raining or night-time, do some kind of fiddly craft activity. I find fiddling with small things helps free up the muse.

As well, if I'm watching TV I like to do something else at the same time. My mother was the same. In her case it was knitting, but I'm no knitter, so for me it's fiddling with small things — usually dolls' house stuff, or making Christmas decos or jewelry or on the odd occasion, I'll crochet.

These days it's mostly making jewelry and I thought I'd share with you this pearl set I made recently, while watching a Burn Notice DVD. I made it for the Romance Writers of Australia silent auction fundraiser. We've been doing this at the RWAustralia annual conference for years now since the first one was organized on the initiative of Harlequin author Carol Marinelli.

We usually raise money for medical research that will benefit women — we've raised heaps for research into breast cancer and ovarian cancer but this year the money will be going to the Heart Foundation. I did wonder if I should make something in red — a red coral necklace, perhaps, but in the end I went back to pearls and a crystal heart, though not pink pearls for a change. The pearls are baroque pearls, because I love their individual shapes and the tiny silken ripples on their surfaces.

One of the first necklaces I ever made was the black and white pearl necklace I'm wearing in my blog photo.  I'd never been a big fan of pearls until my dad bought me a triple string of white pearls interspersed with small chips of black jet. I love black and white and these were funky pearls, not boring,  and I wear them a lot. That's why when I came to make my first pearl necklace, I put in some black beads as well. I often mix my dad's pearls with the ones in my photo.

Below are some pieces I've made for the auctions in past years. Since they were for a "pink" (ie women's cancer) fundraiser, I mostly used pink pearls and crystals. I like to make them a bit different every year.

And below are the ones I made in 2010 for the silent auction - a mix of pink real pearls and white synthetic pearls.
This one was to raise money for  flood victims —grey pearls and crystals.
And the woven pink pearl necklace and bracelet was for last year's pink auction.

So it's fun for me to do, and nice that some money is raised for a good cause.
So what about you — do you do any craft? Are you a skilled procrastinator? Are you fond of pearls? Do you think I should make something in red for the silent auction, seeing the theme is heart health and we're supposed to wear red on the day?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A year ago. . .

I was in the USA for the 4th July. I was staying with friends in Dubuque, Iowa. Dubuque is a city built on the shores of the Mississippi and there's a high bluff that overlooks the valley. We were invited to view the 4th July fireworks from the Hancock House, a house built on that bluff — a perfect vantage point.

I adore fireworks, so I was keen to go and watch, but in the event, the fireworks — which were fabulous — were overshadowed by the beautiful house. I'll let the photos do the talking. That's the house, below.
It's a guest house, so you can stay in this gorgeous red bedroom.
Sunset from one of the bay windows.
Another of the fabulous windows — one of the things I loved about this house was the beautifully carved woodwork throughout, like the screen that framed this window alcove.
Another screen framing the entrance to the dining room.
This staircase was magnificent, as was the statue set atop it..
 And I practically drooled over this exquisitely carved fireplace surround and mantel.
The fireworks were stunning, but my camera wasn't up to any photos, even if I wasn't too busy oohing and aahing. But I managed to taste some of the delicious supper afterward. 
It was a wonderful night and though I was a stranger, I felt very welcomed there. And as I type this, I'm smiling at the memories. Thank you, Dubuque. Happy 4th July.