What’s This All About?
This is going to be a very long section to my website. I intend it to be much longer, and far more detailed than a blog entry, which is why it deserves its own special page location. I will actually be editing it frequently, and will add photos as I get around to taking them. I want to share with you this year (2014) with all the shifts, changes, and creativity that comes out of my dedication to making the Enchanted Environments.
For me, nothing ever remains static, and so I have decided not to make certain items because they are too time consuming (bird houses, bird baths, braided copper wire gazing ball stands), and have been adding other wondrous items – which I will explain later and will add photos with those entries.
2013 Versus 2014
Last year I did 18 Arts & Crafts shows, almost all juried, (and 4 flea market entries at The Elephant’s Trunk, in New Milford, CT), and sold 140 bowls.
This year we are not doing the ET, and have dropped Bethel Blooms, the Silo (Ruth Henderson passed away and they didn’t have the show), the Teddy Bear Festival in New Milford, Colchester Festival On The Green (too far to drive when you have five hungry Pugs waiting for you to get back home for dinner), and the Newington Waterfall Festival.
We added Seymour Founder’s Day, Seymour Pumpkin Festival, Wolcott Friends of the Library, the St. James Country Fair At Chase Meadows Farm (North Salem, NY), Artists & Artisans In Paradise, in Stratford, the Southern New England Kosher Barbecue, in Fairfield, CT, and the 23rd Annual Kiwanis Fall Juried Arts & Crafts Fair, in Fairfield, CT. We also booked the remaining same shows we did last year. It has been wonderful to meet returning customers and hear how well they have done with their bowls. That comes down to 18 shows for this year. In the past two months we have sold 59 bowls – so far!
Not Always The Same Thing
If you have met me, then you know that I make one bowl at a time, and should I have two shapes that are similar, the scenes are always different from one another.
I now rarely make bowls that have trees in them, both because, while I have no problem growing the trees, they do demand a little extra care from others. I still have three trees growing in my Argent Bleu garden, but I will have to wait for just the right bowl in which to place them. The trees need larger bowls so they can allow their roots to grow more deeply.
My own bowl (two feet across, in a very antique metal container) has survived a dreadful winter, and I will share more about that one later on. It is stunning, and I will only bring it to one show to sell. If it doesn’t sell there, then it will be mine again, for the rest of the year. It’s too big and heavy for us to be able to bring, but this one will allow for easy entry to our booth.
Last year I planted more than 12 different species of miniature hostas, and all those that made it through the winter have been added to the bowls in place of the trees. They are wonderful, adorable, and perfect tiny plants in the image of their larger cousins. They even bloom, so while they do go dormant in the Fall, they sure provide lots of pleasure during their growing season. And they increase in number, which is an added benefit!
I’ve also been putting in hens & chicks sedums, as well as a newer variety that I adore, called Red Cobweb Sedum. It actually makes its own pseudo cobwebs. One of them is in bloom right now, with beautiful pink flowers at the end of a tall leg.
A Little Advance Information About The Spooky Season
That leads me to tell you about something else that’s new. While it’s almost July, I am now working on creating five new style bowls that will be for sale in September, only at the Seymour Pumpkin Festival. I have five dead trees that didn’t make it through our Arctic winter. I’ve cut down their roots, am drying them out, and am working on designing bowls that will be perfect for the Spooky Season. Of course, there will more to come about them, as I begin to create the contents, but the ideas are flowing! The central focus of them will be the trees, but you can expect unusual, not so typical creations when they are completed.
We normally do only one show a weekend (except for the two we did back-to-back in early June, and the two we are doing in September.) At my age, I can not handle putting up and taking down the tent, the hauling of the tables and gear, and the transporting of the bowls all by myself. Alli (my fabulous husband) has a regular job during the week, and I try to make sure that he gets at least one free day on a weekend.
Doing the shows is such a different way of life for us, and we really, truly enjoy the process. We love to meet people, and to explain about the bowls.
It’s one of those very rare times in our lives where we get direct feedback, and we know what pleasure people get from them. While folks freely give us compliments, the fact is that I usually don’t absorb them internally or emotionally. For me, the making of the bowls, the creating of the special things that go into them, and the sense of love, connection to something special, and fulfillment I get when a bowl is finished and is “just right”, is what makes me the happiest.
The other part of the process is when someone absolutely falls in love with their own bowl. I can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voices, and I know they have been touched in a special way by the unique energy of that creation.
Always A Challenge To Meet – And Goals To Set
A change of pace, for just a moment. You may (or may not!) have read my two other blogs, or my “About Me” pages, but just in case you haven’t, it is only fair to let you know that of all the many things I have done in my life, the one thing I consider myself to be is an author – writer. Words come more easily to my mind and my fingers then they do to my mouth.
The actual purpose of this segment of the website is to allow you to tap into those thoughts and feelings I don’t, won’t, and can’t express when you speak with me in person.
My writing background is split in half. One half was the me who gave scientific papers on the discoveries I made during my research in nonverbal communication with dolphins, and then with children with autism.
The other half is the one who loves to share the innermost elements of certain aspects of the world(s) in which we live. It was inside those world(s) that I have done my most fascinating studies, and that is what is reflected in the essential aspects of the bowls.
It is my passion to be part of that unique energy that goes into the bowls. It is beyond words, far away from science, and it lives within secret levels that most sensitive humans have always known to exist – but just not in an easily perceived way.
Although I also adore finding beautiful and rare antiques that I sell on eBay, I have decided that this winter I will edit and alter a novel I wrote three years ago. It’s about that level of energy and existence from which the Enchanted Environments have sprung.
When I am finished, if it does not find a literary agent, then I have pledged to self-publish – an idea that was once abhorrent to me, but now has become so popular and accepted that I actually might prefer to publish in that manner. Amazon has already asked me to list it with them.
After giving eBay and PayPal 40% of my income, while I do all the work and have all the expenses, and being terribly aware that they give me enormous agitation, I am beginning to see the wisdom of not paying an agent and a publishing house so much of my sweat equity. But that journey will be subject of other entries for the blog as I move along the pathway.
Which brings me back to my enchanted bowls. Making them provides me with an inner sense of peace, of connection with the Earth, of being linked in a physical way to something beautiful, and yet not really so physical. They are manifestations of that energy which surrounds us all, and if we can only become just a little more aware of their presence.
How I Make The Bowls – Part One
The most frequent question I get is: How long does it take to make a bowl?
I am never able to fully answer this, because of all of the time, energy, effort, and work that goes into each, individual bowl, regardless of its size or shape.
So I will jump right in and tell all – but over time, because there are so many steps to getting everything I need together. I will list everything, but in no particular order, at least until I get to the part where I put a bowl together. How I came to make them will be a long story for a later time.
I began with the plants I had in my gardens. Then I added true miniature trees (dwarf varieties of the much larger cousins), which I planted around my very old French Double White Lilac tree. I wanted to give it company and to support its life energy.
I placed blue bottles on the branches to attract special Nature energies to the lilac. Then I added a very small, very antique metal gate that I painted silver. In French, silver is Argent, and blue is Bleu, so I named this area, “Argent Bleu”. That’s where I put in my trees for gaining strength and vitality. At the end of every season, I also “heel in” (an old New England saying) any plants that I haven’t used for creating bowls.
Heeling in plants means that they are put in the ground for the purpose of surviving the winter, but with the intention of being removed in the Spring to be used elsewhere. They are not part of a decorative, planned out garden.
I also began to search for true miniature hosta varieties. I found a few locally in Roxbury, CT, but some wound up growing far too large for any bowls I make. They have a permanent home here. Very pretty, but too large for environments.
So I then searched the Internet until I found a northern supplier who had many different varieties of dwarf hostas, They come is many colors, sizes, and they bloom at different times throughout the season. They are very costly, and some are rare. They seem to love it here and I have them in my window boxes on the deck, in other planters, and also around Argent Bleu. Seeing them come up every Spring makes me confident that they will return for people who go home with their bowls.
But hostas go dormant for the winter, and after two years of people asking me if they bowls would do well indoors, I began to also raise various kinds of sedums. Now I have bowls that will have a bit of visible life during the winter, which is a promise for those times when the snow seems to be endlessly piling up to the window sills.
The mosses I cultivate are all from Bridgewater. They can make it through the worst winters, and so they are very hardy . . . unless you forget to water them! Friends of ours are trying to sell their house and move to Arizona. Their entire front yard is nothing but moss. They want grass. So my DH and I come over with our trowels and flats and get as much as we can grow on my deck. It’s always magical to see how the moss comes to life, with tiny little fern-like leaves, and how it looks so lush.
The moss reminds people to water their plants, holds in the moisture, ties the scene of the environment together, and adds that special, magical feeling to everything. Until I began making the bowls, I truly did not appreciate how beautiful it is. I try to incorporate at least two or more different kinds, so that the surfaces have the look of a natural, vibrant quilt.
I began life as a tomboy, and after all these years, some things have not changed. I have NO patience for coddling anything, much less plants. As I tell all of them, if you live, great, if you die, you will be quickly replaced. They seem to get the message, and do just fine here, which means they ought to do well anywhere else. I use my garden hose, with the nozzle turned to SHOWER, and water everything until it’s soaked. Then it dribbles the excess water onto the tables, and down to the deck.
They remain outside year ‘round. Some stay in the ground until Spring, but others stay in window boxes, big bowls, etc. They are in the drenching, pouring rain, the freezing, icy winters, cold winds, but they are protected from too much sun. I have large umbrellas that allow the morning, East sun, but I guard against the hotter noon and afternoon (West) sun. That’s when I water in the morning and early afternoon.
I use Osmocote Plus Semi-Release Plant Food, Outdoor & Indoor. It supports strong growth, which is steady and gives the plants strong roots and stems. All I have to do is sprinkle it on twice a year and it does the rest.
All my gardens are perennials, so they require little care and I mow them all down at the end of the season. Really. I mow everything, including the peonies. That gives all of the plants a chance to sleep and grow strong for the next season.
I also mow the lawn. I love the Zen-ness of following the lines of where I mowed the last line, until everything is done and looks like a green carpet. I know the feel of every inch of our small half an acre of land. I put that same awareness of the landscape into the bowls when I put the Osmocote potting soil into the bowls and then mold it into the basis for the how everything will look. But that’s for another time to explain.