Category: AuraSunArts

OSO Strong

The devastating mudslide last week in Oso, Washington has made for heartbreaking  news stories, but also stories that makes one proud of our communities pulling together.   Yesterday we had a glimmer of good news when the number of missing persons was lowered to 30.  The first responders and volunteer workers are doing an amazing job.








cherry tree in bloom

cherry tree in bloom



cherry tree aisle

cherry tree aisle


Hats off to the 530 community strength on display and know that the prayers of the world are supporting you.  Aura Sun Arts submits this floral salute and has the flag at half staff, in appreciation of the towns of Arlington, Oso and Darrington.

Seahawks rule!

Congratulations to Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks on their win at the Superbowl.  It was quite the epic game and the cats and I are still smiling.

russell wilson sketch

russell wilson sketch


750,000 fans braved below freezing temperatures to cheer the team in a victory parade that was truly astonishing.

The electricity and joy in this town and across the Northwest is still resonating.

What’s next year going to bring?

Everyone is excited for the new year with a young team that might look very similar next season.

Portraits are fun and challenging and I look forward to finding time to work on  more.

I made neon green sugar to decorate some Seahawk cookies; they were almost as sweet as that win!


the 12 cookies

the 12 cookies

Banded coral shrimp

The banded coral shrimp is a small red and white shrimp that is quite interesting to watch, in the wild or in an aquarium.  They resemble miniature lobsters with large front claws brightly striped in red and white.  I recently had the opportunity to view one in a salt water aquarium.  It is on the lower right in front of the rock column.

banded coral shrimp with clownfish.

banded coral shrimp with clownfish.


Here are two illustrations of the shrimp from the book Marine Fauna and Flora of Bermuda, published by Wiley Interscience.  One is a color photograph. the other is a pen and ink illustration I did while working as a scientific illustrator in Bermuda in 1977.   Click on any image to enlarge.

To see other illustrations of shells done for the same book, check the traditional portfolio link under the digital art tab.

illustration of shrimp

illustration of shrimp


banded coral shrimp (upper center)

banded coral shrimp
(upper center)

While drawing the shrimp I had a live specimen in a shallow petri dish of salt water.  I happened to notice a loose piece of skin on a finger and pulled off a hangnail and tossed it into the dish.  The shrimp snatched it up and gobbled it down like candy.  Who knew, to shrimp, human is a delicacy!

The lazy days of summer

August has been spectacular, but the long summer days are getting a bit shorter and it was nice to get a bit of badly needed rain.  Some weeks were too warm for working on beads, and some new perennial garden additions came my way, so creating new flowerbeds for those took some time, but their flowers will reward me for years to come.

I made a string of black beads with starry white flashes to honor the Perseid meteor shower, which makes its annual appearance around August 12th.  One of them promptly split in two, but that makes a cabochon pair for earrings.  If a bead splits it usually means it was not cooled down slowly.  They usually break right away if they are going to, but now and then one surprises me and breaks long after being made.  At the end of the season the year’s crop goes into the oven for the annealing process, a heat treatment that strengthens and tempers the glass.

starry night

starry night




Embroidery treasures

foxy embroidery and book

foxy embroidery and book

Many years ago I made a blouse entirely by hand, following the example of a similar garment.  I decorated the front panel with an embroidery of a fox with grapes.  The fox was based on a sweet children’s book, The Little Trapper, by Kathryn and Byron Jackson with illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren.  Here is also pictured is a small embroidery of a lion’s face that was rescued from a favorite pair of jeans.

lion and fox

lion and fox

Very fancy embroidery machines could be programmed to do similar work, but that would take half the fun out of it!  Hand embroidery is like painting with a rather limited palette, and making stitches look like fur was a way to add a realistic touch.


Denim upcycled, round two

Here is the other pant leg from the same pair of jeans made into the second denim purse.  I had used one front pocket and both back pockets on the first purse.  On this one, the other front pocket was attached to the back; it creates a roomy double pocket big enough for a large smart phone.  Inside there is a smaller phone pocket made from the back waistband of the jeans.

More of the back waistband that had the leather patch was turned into a tiny pocket, and the fly made a small zipper pocket.  Those two small pockets are on the front.  The front flap will have applique and embroidery to depict a maple and pine.

These two bags used about every scrap from that pair of jeans.  I used a double patch of fabric to create the bottoms of the bags from fabric on the upper thigh.  There is a very small amount of denim left over.   The strap has some extra fabric to create a fringe area as it frays over time.

For a favorite old pair of jeans that is too worn out it is a great way to remember them and keep them around for a second life.  All the tags on the jeans and the decorations on the pockets are all still there.

Second life for the second pant leg

Front pocket on the back

Bottom detail and mini pockets

Denim bag #2, front flap

Denim recycled

For the colder winter months, when making beads is not an option, there are plenty of other creative outlets.  This latest project converts the pant leg from a pair of jeans into a small purse.  I have attached pockets on the front and the back and another set of pockets inside.

It was a bit tricky getting the sewing machine to reach down inside a tube, ie the existing pant leg, and the bottom of the bag had to be finished by hand.  The beginnings of embellishment include antique kimono fabrics and it will have more quilting and satin stitching, and no doubt some handmade beads as well.  A large handmade glass bead will be the button to close the bag; it will look nice dangling off the front flap.  The strap is made from the seam running up the side of the pant leg; certainly sturdy and already securely attached to the bag.  It has a bit of fringe, which ought to fray in an interesting way.

front view of denim purse

The front pocket from the jeans hides under the front flap, which can be tucked into the bag.  I like the rivets and the wear patterns and fading.

The back has the roomy back pocket and even the bottom of the bag gets some decoration.  It was definitely a fun way to recycle an old favorite pair of Calvin Klein jeans into a new use!

Click on any of the photos for a closer view.

back double pocket and bottom detail

triple front pockets with that cute coin pocket

Mo beads – black with hints of yellow

Mr Mo, my black cat, has golden yellow eyes that are quite striking in contrast with his velvety black fur.  Last summer I made a series of pet beads in colors of several animal friends, and the Mo series were mostly black with hints of gold and yellow, with clear encasing.

Here are three Mo beads mounted up as a necklace and earrings, with black seed beads providing dangling accents.  It is always fun to have part of any jewelry be in motion when the wearer is.

Black bead dangles

Click on the photo for a close up of the earring and pendant set.


Below is a shot of the champion snoozer Mr Slikypants Mo, sound asleep with his feet in the air.


Mo snooze

Northwest berries

The Pacific Northwest is blessed with an abundance of berry varieties.  Some might say that the non-native Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) is the kudzu of the Northwest.  The roots shoot out the giant primocane, a thick arching stem that can reach up to 20 feet in length during the first year of growth, and a mass of branching and fruiting floricanes on the second year.

I found a use for those long thorny primocanes one year when I had damage to my fence from people leaning or sitting on it.  I stapled a length of blackberry primocane along the upper edge of the fence.   Voila, organic natural barbed wire that worked like a charm and cost nothing.

My favorite flavor are the more tart pinkish berries on the cusp of ripeness.  Here are a series of handmade Aura Sun Arts beads with the hobnail texture of blackberries and the range of colors.    The Wikipedia article I linked to above has a nice photo showing this range of colors as the fruit ripens.  It goes from dark green to pale green to pink to dark pink to a very deep inky purple.

ripening berries

Lovely larimar

Larimar is a beautiful blue semi-precious stone mined in the Dominican Republic.  The blue colors are like ocean colors in the Caribbean and the stone is popular on many islands in the area.  On a trip to the Virgin Islands I picked up a specimen of larimar cut like a small marble and a card indicating what stones came from each part of the world.

Here I tried mixing various blues and stirring the colors with a metal rod to create a marbled effect.  These beads do not have the usual clear coat of glass called encasing, so the color is right at the surface of the bead.  It was an interesting challenge to try to match the color.  First I made a core bead and then layered more colors on the surface and stirred those together by hand, being careful to just heat the outside of the bead and not get the entire bead molten.

Stir it up!  Click on the photo for an enlarged view.

larimar marble and beads