Saturday, August 20, 2011

Varenna, Lago Di Como

I'm in Varenna, Lake Como, staying at my favorite place, Hotel Olivedo.

They are located right on the lake with a ferry landing just across the cobbled street.

As you can see, I'm enjoying an amazing meal out on the patio overlooking the lake. Ciao!

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Monterosso & Vernazza

Today was my opportunity to travel a bit and visit the Cinque Terre ("five lands"), which were packed with tourists, naturally. It took a few hours to travel by train from Lucca to Monterosso, which was a fine place for a late lunch. The picture above shows my view from a lunch table at one of the cafes along the beach. I also walked all over the town, but all I really saw was lots of little souvenir shops, cheap eateries and hotels/rooms for rent.
Since it was so hot today (low 100s and very humid), I opted for a train ride back south to Vernazza instead of hiking the trail between the two towns. I've seen lots of photos of this little village by the sea, so I was a bit disappointed to find most of the "charming" homes on the cliffs in need of a good paint job. And Vernazza is really, really small!
You get off the train and hoof it downhill into this teeny-tiny harbor area with barely enough room for a few teenagers to lounge around on the mini-beach. Turn left and you'll find the famous diving cliffs, which I found in use. A couple of teenagers were jumping off the cliff and then climbing back up again, which perhaps seemed more scary to me than it actually was. Still, I admire these young cliff divers.
Tomorrow: the flea market in Lucca!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Arrival in Lucca, Italy

My adventure to Italy began with a very looooong plane ride from Palm Springs to Milan. While in one of the airports (I believe it was Atlanta), I observed a fantastic display of found-object masks. One of the pleasures of traveling is being able to see so many wonderful art exhibits in the airports, which makes the long hours between flights somewhat bearable.
Once I arrived in Milan at about 7 am on Aug. 18, I traveled by train to Lucca. Pictured above is one of the gates leading into this famous walled city. I wanted to spend some time in Lucca because it has been so highly recommended by travel writer Rick Steves. And there was a big flea market planned for Saturday, which also motivated me to spend some time here.
The only way to get to Lucca by train is to first take the Malpensa airport train to the main train station in Milan; from there you must travel first to Florence and then transfer to a regional train back up to Lucca. This took the entire day; I arrived at my destination (Hotel Rex) at about 7 pm, completely exhausted after flying across the US, then across the Atlantic Ocean, and then 12 hours on trains. And it was HOT! High 90s, low 100s, and humid. I would not do this again; it would have been smarter for me to begin my vacation in Italy with a few days in Stresa, which is only an hour from the Malpensa airport. Live and learn...
My first evening in Lucca I had to stop at a Rick-Steves recommended bistro for pizza. I had the Napoli pictured above, with a lovely sauce, lightly sprinkled with Mozzarella cheese, a few anchovies, and some capers. Mmmmm! My first meal in over 12 hours tasted mighty good, I can tell you!
Once I'd filled up on pizza, I took a stroll on the famous walls that surround Lucca. The lion statue pictured above was one of several outdoor art pieces; I love photographing lions in Italy and have quite a collection now from previous travels.
In the picture above you can see the massive walls, which are wide enough to accommodate pedestrians, runners, moms and dads pushing strollers, bicyclists, and tourists...
...and trees! These huge trees are growing right on top of the walls of Lucca. Gorgeous, and they provided plenty of shade. I sure appreciated that. Once back in my hotel, I took another cold shower and went to bed early.
Tomorrow: Vernazza & Monterosso

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fun Making Art-Doll Necklaces

On Saturday a group of old friends (we won't say how old!) got together for a day of fun making art-doll necklaces. I was so happy to be invited to teach a workshop for this terrific group of artists. I've known some of them for more than a decade, and some were brand-new acquaintances.
Here they are, all gathered together at a nice big table under the lattice which helped shade us from the hot Costa Mesa sun! We began the day with coffee and yummy pastries...
Soon enough, it was time to get busy on our wire-woven art dolls. You can see that there's some serious concentration going on!
And laughter, too. It can be a challenge mastering several pieces of pesky wire!
I think they're starting to get somewhere by this time. The vintage doll torsos we worked with (many thanks to Carolyn for providing them for us!) were wrapped with wire and a skirt constructed... then comes weaving and embellishment.
In the following photo you can see one of the art dolls taking shape. She later was attached to a vintage bottle and embellished with red and black beads, very Spanish looking.
The sun got a little too hot for Jeri, so she took refuge inside and continued work on her lovely creation.
We broke for lunch, and Carolyn generously dished up some delicious Chinese chicken salad. We appreciated that, I can tell you!
Here's one of the more unusual dolls, nearly finished. Spider Woman! I love it.
One of our favorite art dolls was made by a woman with no prior experience working with wire. I think it's gorgeous, and very wearable.
The day finished around 4:30 pm and I had a very long drive back home to Idyllwild, but it was all well worth the experience, one I will not soon forget. Many thanks to all the lovely ladies who attended this workshop and I hope to see you all again soon!
Happy wrapping,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Podcast Radio Interview & Creative Spark Article

Hi everybody,
I was just recently interviewed by the fabulous Ricë Freeman-Zachery, who did a great job asking lots of fun questions. If you'd like to hear the podcast, click here!
And if you'd like to read a "Creative Spark" interview with me by Ricë, click here!
And I have good news, my eBook Arty Jewelry III is still on sale! I can't believe it... but it's up to to set sale prices at their whim. Take advantage of the sale while you can. To download for just $7.99 (a savings of 20 percent), click here.
Happy wrapping,

Friday, August 5, 2011

NEW Vintage Doll Necklace workshop

A good friend has asked me to teach for a private group of gals in south Orange County next week, and they requested a workshop on wire weaving. My friend sent me two vintage "frozen Charlotte" dolls to embellish with woven wire and beads, which was a real challenge for me because I don't tend to design Victorian-style jewelry.
The first necklace was made with sterling silver wire, small beads and pearls, and some vintage buttons I had purchased online. Came out nice, but I was not pleased with how short and wide I made the skirt. You can see it below:
After purchasing a few porcelain doll torsos online, I chose one with a hollow head and made another wire-woven and embellished necklace with copper wire, tiny beads, pearls, vintage buttons, and some of my gorgeous enameled headpins. I just finished it tonight and had to share it with you (see the top of this post).
I don't know why the copper doll has wings... it just came out that way. I had a lot of fun and enjoyed the challenge of designing something way outside my usual style (I prefer ethnic jewelry!). In about a week I'll be teaching this design to a great group of gals and I really look forward to that.
Hope you all enjoy it!
Happy wrapping,