Saturday, 31 October 2009

The Jewel Keeper

I bought this adorable little swan puff many years ago. Infact I bought two and sent one off to a good home.
I have been searching the internet and book stores to find a pattern to make my own little brood but to no avail!

It doesn't matter in the slightest that I can't yet crochet or knit, or read the patterns but I will soon learn and I am sure that the beasties that appear will all be quaint and loveable! (as only a mother can love!).
I got this one from a charity shop in North Berwick. There was a small wicker bowl filled with them and I took my time choosing. I used it daily in my handbag to hold lip balm and other small what-nots until I decided that the neck was too delicate to be untangled from my keys every day.

So I now have her in my display cabinet. If you come across a pattern I would be ever so grateful for the link so that I can purchase it.
Swans are such elegant birds and always very regal. This one is most like a Mute Swan with her bright orange bill, though she does lack the black colouration on it too.
One of my favourite ballets is Swan Lake and I just love the musical score too. So dramatic!
In Britain all swans are protected by Royal Order and 'belong' to the Queen, and The Worshipful Company of Dyers are the carers of the river Thame's Swans in London.
In Scotland at Aberlady Bay there have been Whooper Swans. I have seen them fly overhead in their posses, calling, and they are truly magical to watch and hear.
They differ from Mutes in that they have yellow and black on their beaks and are slightly smaller in size.
There are many collective names for groups of swans - I've listed some here by my swan watercolour ACEO - though I did make up posse! - but it sounded right!
Another swan breed similar to Whoopers is Bewicks. They have more black on their beaks and are also known as Whistling or Tundra Swans.
This is the little pocket to store your jewels and forms the swan's base. I am hoping that all the crochet and knitter experts will be able to tell me if this is knitted or crocheted! I did see a swirly twirly ball in a crochet pattern book called an everlasting ball and it looked similar to the swans body. And I've always believed 'nothing ventured nothing gained'.
If you live in Britain and come across a swan in distress then get in touch with The Swan Sanctuary in England or the SSPCA or Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust in Scotland. Hessilhead do amazing rescue work with all wild animals in distress and are experts at this. They have a blog that they update with their rescues. Just go to Gay's Diary on their site.

The Swan Sanctuary also have sponsorship of Sanctuary swans. If you wish to sponsor a swan it costs from £12 a year though they will gladly accept larger amounts.

My swan is happily on display now (away from my keys) and beside her best friend a hob nosed goose, which incidentally was the inspiration for my baby swans in my etsy shop. As soon as I saw his huge fluffy bum I knew I had to make cygnets the same!
Behind them is my treasured vintage plastic flying swan tray and some rose quartz chunks. They all sit on my Scottish made porcelain gold and royal blue dish that I got from Ullapool, NorthWest Scotland.
- and remember - only 4 weeks left to buy your lucky raffle tickets to help the rescue rabbits at Buckeye House Rabbit Society to win the original painting of Pey's rescue bun Charlie.
good luck!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

better late than never 'TockTober

Lagomorph 'tocks are just the dandiest and you will very rarely get to see true 'tock relaxation unless your rabbit trusts you and their environment 100%

Rabbit's hindquaters are their livelihood and will carry them away from danger so it is the lucky bun-mum who gets to caress them.

Arabella has the whitest of pads and a midnight black tail top. She normally doesn't tuck her tootsies under, must've been a chill in the air (or she could sense the camera)!

and Wesley is rather a bit more laid back about the whole 'tock issue.
Here he is flopped ontop of a pile of fleeces with his white tail, top left out of picture, as is his other leg. His right heel shows a pink spot of exposed skin which is a common occurence in carpet living rabbits.
A small price to pay for warmth, filled food bowls and a happy heart.
Celebrating 'tock tober in the rabbit blogosphere.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Buckeye House Rabbit Society Holiday Raffle 2009

Every year the Buckeye House Rabbit Society has a Holiday Raffle and this year Pey from etsy shops Peylu / FolkArtVision has donated the main prize - 'Charlie The First' - an original watercolour of her rescue rabbit Charlie.

Charlie was rescued from living rough at Pey's local Zoo. He was dumped there with another rabbit by an uncaring owner! The zookeeper said he had been living there since June and Pey first spotted him in October.

Charlie first stayed in the llama pen then he had a stint living with the Highland Cows and finally he settled in with the mouflons.

He sat in a tree enclosure near the fence and munched on hay watching the world go by. The keepers were concerned he would be taken by foxes and were thinking of trapping him and taking him to the Humane Society but Pey said she would take him instead.

They lost sight of him for two weeks in December when the snow was really deep and everyone thought he had gone.

Then one day after Pey and her rottweiler Ted had walked past the pen they saw Charlie bounding down the hill towards Anatol, Pey's husband! Pey fished out the carrot she had had in her pocket saved for such an occasion and gave it to the keeper who waved it infront of Charlie and went into the Peacock house with him.

The next day Pey returned with a travel carrier and took Charlie to the vet first and then on to his safe forever home!

Every time Pey and Ted had gone to the zoo Charlie would always run down to the fence to see them. Ted became very interested in him and looked for him every day. How delightful that a little rabbit would choose a big dog to be his best friend.

Their friendship was cemented!

and Pey and Anatol have a very beautiful rabbit who no longer has to fret about his next meal or keeping warm or having friends or keeping his feet fastidiously clean (which he spends ages doing!)

Charlie has his own room with a view and has adapted well to indoor living. According to Ted he must really enjoy eating!
The rabbits at Buckeye are all looking for forever homes too and the money raised in the raffle will go towards supporting them as they wait for that special person. All the rabbits are spayed and neutered and their personalities and habits are known.

Age is not important in a rabbit as they all have such strong personalities and when they trust you fully they just shine. Many of the rabbits are young adults and some are older but whomever you choose to bring into your life you will be rewarded 100 fold every day by a grateful heart.

If you are not able to give a forever home to a rescue rabbit you could consider sponsoring one of the sanctuary rabbits. These rabbits usually have health issues which prevent them from being rehomed and not everyone has the time to look after a rabbit with health issues. Unless you have experience in dealing with various issues it can be a very scary thing.

I have had two rabbits with serious health issues and I would be grateful to take on a rabbit that needs a little extra attention but as always the staff at Buckeye will assess your individual circumstances and find the most suitable rabbits for you to meet.
Charlie now has a great life with Pey, Anatol and Ted. When he first moved in he would often jump on Ted's back to relax. That must have been all the zoo living with larger animals!

He really is a happy bun!

Pey is a highly accomplished artist and her work is collected worldwide. She exhibits locally in Canada.
I first came across Pey on etsy after seeing one of her beautiful bird paintings of RedWinged Blackbirds! How very special they are. Pey has some amazing works of birds with eggs centered around the theme of nest egg watching. And then I saw this gorgeous rabbit!!
This is one of her paintings called Esme and is a painting on clay. Very unusual and I love the texture, method and colours. Esme has a very gentle expression and look at those white socks! Ofcourse this is my favourite!

Pey has many shadow boxes that her husband sells in their FolkArtVision shop. Hearts are a focal point in these amazing assemblages.

This one is called P.S. I Love You and is a mixed media assemblage. The textures of the wood are amazing and I love the metal heart and it's shape with the furl on the side.
and this one is called Hope with a small bunny called Hope in the centre made with clay and painted in acrylic.

and this one is called Love Me Tender. It also has a raised metal heart in the centre and such a lovely light sea green colour.

I'm very grateful to Pey for donating an original artwork to a cause that we both believe in. Every rabbit in a rescue centre deserves the very best home in a safe and loving environment and it is thru generous donations from supporters that rescues are able to continue their important life-saving work. Every single $1 does make a difference and no $1 is too small to be donated. Especially in the economic times we live at present where giving is even more important.

Pey and Charlie share a very tender moment. Two hearts beating as one.

Charlie is very proud to have his portrait raffled and wants to thank you for your donations and may the best bun, oops! I mean best one, win.

Charlie is off to bed .....

.... or perhaps Guard Duty!

you guess!!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Volunteering for the Hare Preservation Trust

A short while ago I took up a new position as the Business Development Manager for the Hare Preservation Trust.
The Trust was founded by Rodney Hale to raise awareness about hares as well as to lobby for increased legal protection of hares in Parliament.

an orphan baby hare - known as a Leveret - being handraised
photo is by Sean Hunter, copyright reserved

Everyone who works for the Trust is a volunteer and 100% of all monies raised go towards it's running and the political campaigning on behalf of these amazing and ethereal beings.

My watercolour portrait of a hare. Currently in the McCrea Gallery for sale.
Rodney comes from a family of bloodsport enthusiasts and as a teenager witnessed a hare crying like a human baby after it had been shot. That was the turn of the tide for him and several years later he attended a presentation by the League Against Cruel Sports in Exeter on hare coursing which was absolutely horrific and he has never seen so many grown men and women in the audience reduced to tears.
This was what finally made him found the HPT, then known as the British Brown Hare Preservation Society. Rodney makes sure that it caters for all constructive interests in hares with a website, newsletters and bulletins. As Chairman he does the political lobbying, currently with The Protection of Hares Bill.
Protection thru legislation is really the only chance the hare has of a life free from persecution and cruelty by humans. If the legislation is in place then prosections can take place, but without this protection the hare has a raw deal. As do many other well loved country-side animals and birds.
Unfortunately persecution is widespread and fuelled by the shooting and game industry. Untimely and painful, lingering death comes from snares, shooting, illegal coursing (unfortunately still legal in Northern Ireland! -graphic image on this link - the Irish hare does not have full permanent protection rights and another reason why sight hound racing should be banned) and shock/trauma from previous incidents.

The League Against Cruel Sports is a UK based organisation that aims to rid society of cruel blood sports and end animal suffering in the name of sport.
One major campaign is for a UK wide ban on snares. Please take action by following that link. There is a link further down for Scottish residents.
Currently 'free-running' snares are still legal in mainland UK. The self-locking snares are illegal. The free-running versions have no ratchet and should (in theory) slacken when the animal stops pulling! However if the wire is rusted, kinked or entangled in vegetation or becomes twisted as the animal thrashes then it acts like a self-locking one. Metal does not demur to technicalities!
If you live in Scotland you can take action by supporting the Ban Snares Campaign which is being supported by the Edinburgh based Advocates for Animals, which will seek a total ban on the use, manufacture and sale of all types of snare. Please sign the petition to ask your MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) to ban snares.
Mother with leverets at feeding time - which lasts about 50 seconds, once a day.
Also on exhibition in the McCrea Gallery.
Hares have inspired artists from time immemorial. They have been steeped in mythology and legend and worldwide are symbols for fertility and femininity. Terri Windling has written a comprehensive and fascinating account of rabbits and hares thru the ages and across cultures.
I have always loved hares and am lucky enough to have two rescue rabbits who live with me, Arabella and Wesley. Arabella is the most hare-like rabbit I have ever known and she has very few typical rabbit traits, resembling instead more of a hare in her postures and habits. When I first saw her at the rescue centre we took our first rescue rabbit Zai to, to choose a partner, I was fascinated by her countenance! Not once did she attempt to dig in the dirt like the other does and at all times she held her head high and sniffed the wind, moving only slightly. She even stood like a hare! I was so taken with her that when Zai went up to her and licked her on the nose I knew she was the one.

When I opened my etsy shop a couple of years ago I started to fill it up with lagomorphia! What else?! and I found great satisfaction in making little sculptures of textile baby hares. A baby hare is actually called a leveret but for marketing purposes 'baby hare' sounds oh-so much cuter! Each youngster also has a name and a story. I love writing the stories and try to keep them as slightly realistic as possible and always positive and hopefully they will bring a smile to your lips.
There were quite a few talented artists on etsy making rabbit and hare textile ornaments and it proved to be quite a challenge to come up with my own design and pattern so that I didn't breach their copyright nor look like I lacked imagination! Two ladies whose work I really admire are the very successful Dawn Ramerman who makes adorable 'Love Creatures' and I have my very own one! and the very talented Shannah from DasKaninchen who makes beautiful fibonacci inspired rabbits with felt. Both ladies sell their work in their etsy shops.
But I had come across a German website of Fostering Hares and this photo from there was my sole inspiration - as you may see the likeness with little Betsy above?
The photograph is copyright Janine and Tom Brahner, Germany.

The HPT has an online shop where artists may sell their hare inspired art works. It has prints, bags, brooches, textile art and the most beautiful hare cards I have ever seen! This image of a Brown Hare has been given free of charge by the photographer to raise funds for the Trust.
I ordered a pack of 8 and was delighted when they arrived. Not all of these will be sent out that's for sure - I'm keeping a few for myself!

As soon as I got them I looked up Sean Hunter - the chap who took the photos and was completely in awe of his wildlife photography! I particularly love the very first photo on this post of the little baby being bottle fed.
What makes it even more special is that the lady is a volunteer for the HPT and this youngster was born this year! I love the heart necklace in the background, it is such a touching photo!
The following photos are all by Sean and can can be purchased from him.

My gorgeous cards can fold out to one large image. This European Brown Hare is in a field of wheat in Oxfordshire, England. A set of 4 cards costs £3.60 including postage and can be bought online from the HPT shop. They are blank inside and will suit any occasion prefectly.

I asked Sean what inspired him to photograph hares and he said that hares are one of his favourite animals.
He thinks hares are fascinating and beautiful and every sighting, whether near or far, lifts the mood and if he gets a photo then that is an added bonus.

Sean says that they have varying characters, like humans, with some being much more brave than others but that it is always a challenge to get a close encounter.
This hare is enjoying the warmth of the sun in a field of recently harvested barley in Oxfordshire.

A brown hare shaking rain off the fur in a soaking wet field of spring beans after heavy rain in Oxfordshire.
Sean is a professional wildlife photographer and has worked for the National Trust in the Lake District as a conservation volunteer. He also worked for several years in natural history photo libraries and as a picture researcher for Dorling Kindersley. I grew up with DK books and loved their realistic images! Then he worked freelance for DK and now has his own business.

This hare is on a farm track at the edge of a field spending time grooming. You can clearly see the white underbelly and long limbs. From this angle Sean would have had to be lying prone and in the early morning in the UK all the ground is wet with dew!

This super photo is of a hare running along a farm track. Hares tend to 'lope' along at a constant easy gait and from a distance can resemble dogs trotting along - with a straight back. They are truly magical beings when on the move at this steady pace and I have watched them entranced for ages in the fading light.
If you are an artist producing works with hares and would be interested in having your art for sale on the HPT site then leave your contact details in the comments below or if you are an etsy seller then send me a 'convo'. My etsy shop is on the right. I look forward to hearing from you.

and last but not least let's see that baby again!
Do bibs come small enough??
Thank you very much Sean for letting me feature your superb photos, I greatly appreciate it and thanks to Rodney for letting me volunteer as the Business Development Manager. I hope to be able to spread the good word about hares!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Dragon House (of Yuen) meets The Dog House

Last week I was invited to meet Jane from etsy shop The Dog House and take home some of her freshly grown garden kale for Arabella and Wesley. She lives 15 minutes away in a very beautiful part of the Scottish countryside.

Arabella was so excited about the garden and the kale that she started to groom away -
she didn't miss a hair!

and neither did Wesley. He told me that he would be on his best behaviour

and that he would be so, so happy to have a scamper around on fresh green grass!

Bless them - they were going to come along too!

I said to them that Jane also has two rescue animals -

and let them see a photo of the very handsome Max and

the very pretty Molly.

As soon as Arabella saw the thin long pointy nose of Max

and Wesley saw the long never-ending legs of Molly they both immediately told me that they would rather wait at home instead. After all - all that grooming was rather tiring and it was now nap time! yawwwnnnn!!
Jane is a member of Etsy for Animals and McEtsy. Both teams that I am also in.
It was such a pleasure to meet a fellow team member along with her two gentle greyhounds Max and Molly and I enjoyed a delicious cup of earl grey and a wonderful time chatting.
Jane screen prints these Tshirts and this one has a great message - Opt to Adopt.

Jane runs her etsy shop alongside her dog walking business Let The Dogs Out. If you live in the East Lothian / Edinburgh area and are looking for a dog walker then I can highly recommend Jane. She is a devoted dog lover and has a special way with dogs.
She sells these fabulous little bags in her shop - Tricks for Treats - and I can see Max looking longingly at the bag (and it's contents!!). These bags would be great for many occasions and the treats could range from dog biscuits to chocolates to ballet tickets .... the possibilities are endless!
Jane gladly takes custom orders for any subject. She has images of her work on her blog Max and Molly Designs from previous satisfied clients.

Here is Max and Molly suitably attired with their doggy Bandanas for a walk. Max's bandana says Couch Potato and sports a sleeping greyhound print.
Well I can attest to the couch potato part because for nearly all of my visit Max curled up next to me on the settee and he dozed happily away. Twice he nearly fell off the edge as he stretched out and I had to sit closer to him and act as a 'couch extension' to provide more surface room!
He was the best settee companion I could dream of and I was terribly flattered that he was so friendly with me. He has the softest ever silky smooth coat and warm, expressive eyes!

Jane also has larger bags and this one - Lost and Found - has a screen print of her beautiful cat Angie.

Here is Angie enjoying the snow. Angie is no longer here and she is greatly missed.
I also met Jane's husband Martin, who is an accomplished photographer and he also has an etsy shop - Red Row Studio.

He took this simply divine photograph of Angie sniffing the spout of a watering can. Just look at that white paw raised slightly and the gentle curve in the tail.
Martin is also a whizz at the programming and he developed a user application called Craft Weasel which helps etsy sellers to better understand and refine their product tags. There is a CraftWeasel Blog that will keep you up to speed with seasonal product tags for your etsy shop and etsy has a comprehensive article in the Storque (etsy's blog) about Craft Weasel that explains everything clearly.

Max meets Moss, Jane's folk's Border Collie puppy. Doesn't Moss look like a bundle of fluff!
Jane donates 5% from sales in her etsy shop to her favourite charity Gracehounds who work with rescuiing and rehoming greyhounds and lurchers. Many are surplus from the greyhound racing industry.
You can help greyhounds by supporting this charity or another greyhound charity - there are many worldwide and most importantly - don't bet at the greyhound races. Ask anyone you know who does bet to think about the consequences and grief caused by this money driven industry. Perhaps they would like to sponsor a rescue greyhound instead? That way their bet would always be a winning one and a happy heart never loses.

Handmade for Hounds is an etsy team that has a shop which supports hounds from 100% of it's proceeds and Jane is one of the volunteers who run the shop and donate items to be sold there.
This is a great place to buy sighthound products either for yourself or your pack.
Above is Molly relaxing with Moss.
and here is Moss (again!! - you can never have too many puppy photos!) resting with his toy from etsy shop Kims Critter Designs.
I want to say a huge thank you to Jane for her warm Scottish hospitality and her very generous gift of fresh kale!
I will never forget how friendly and snuggly Max was! He now has me as a friend for life!!
Arabella and Wesley were both still rather sleepy when I got home but on smelling the kale immediately woke up!
They enjoyed it very much and we would all like to say a very big thanks to Jane, Martin, Max and Molly!