Friday, April 29, 2011

Under the Arbor

They give us shade on a hot summer day. They provide food and shelter for a vast community of animals. They filter the air and moderate the effects of environmental toxins. These silent leafy guardians are near us every day, and yet we quite often ignore them; we don't celebrate their beauty or learn from their steadfast presence. So today, on Arbor Day, we pay tribute to trees.

Arbor Day is a nationally celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and tree care. The first Arbor Day took place in Nebraska in 1872; it was the idea of J. Sterling Morton, a journalist and pioneer who came from Detroit to the then treeless plains of Nebraska in 1854. Morton and his wife, both nature lovers, quickly planted trees, shrubs and flowers at their new home. Like other homesteaders, he missed the trees of his former landscape, but he also recognized that trees were important as windbreaks to prevent soil loss, as well as for fuel, shade, and building materials. Morton used his position as a journalist, and later, as secretary of the Nebraska Territory, to advocate for trees and tree planting.

"On January 4, 1872, Morton first proposed a tree-planting holiday to be called 'Arbor Day' at a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture. The date was set for April 10, 1872. Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for planting the largest number of trees on that day. It was estimated that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day. Arbor Day was officially proclaimed by the young state's Gov. Robert W. Furnas on March 12, 1874, and the day itself was observed April 10, 1874. In 1885, Arbor Day was named a legal holiday in Nebraska and April 22, Morton's birthday, was selected as the date for its permanent observance." ( The most common day for observing Arbor Day today is the last Friday in April.

In 1972, on the 100 year anniversary of the first Arbor Day, the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation was established to promote education about and conservation of trees. For more information about Arbor Day and to learn more about trees - their identification, protection, planting and care, visit the Foundation's website,

In celebration of the wonderful tree, let's read Ilan Shamir's insightful poem, Advice from a Tree, while we see how BBEST team artisans illustrate the beauty of our leafy friends.

Advice from a Tree
by Ilan Shamir

Dear Friend,
Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth

Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings

Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The Energy and Birth of Spring

The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter

Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night.

Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Simple pleasures
Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty

Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Be flexible
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view!

For more about Ilan Shamir and his nature advice, tree-planting greetings, and nature-inspired journals and cards, please visit

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I do, I will,

I am a few days premature but the frenzy is in full swing as we head towards Friday, 29 April 2011.  What is special about that particular Friday?  You might well ask!!!!  It is the day that we in the UK will celebrate a royal – NO! THE Royal wedding of the decade.  That of Prince William and Kate Middleton or Catherine as she will be known henceforward.

Unfortunately, my wedding invitation got lost in the post so I will not be going to London.  As a result, our company will not be providing the chair covers for the reception at Buckingham Palace!  Hurmppph!

The last royal wedding ceremony I sat through was just thirty years ago.  That was when Prince Charles and Diana were married at St Paul’s Cathedral. imageHere you can see them after the ceremony as they were about to reach their carriage which would take them to Buckingham Palace


In total contrast, at the time, I was living in Muscat, Oman in the Gulf. image

I had been invited along with several other likeminded people to join in the festivities by meeting up in the Intercontinental Hotel in Muscat,  in a specially laid out room which had a large TV monitor so that we could all follow the joyous occasion.


Intercontinental Hotel, Oman

At the appropriate time waiters came along with glasses filled to the brim with sparkling, fizzy champagne and canap├ęs.  When the happy Royal couple came out on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to meet the populace, we all drank their good health.image

The wedding party appearing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace


This time we will be raising a glass or two of the bubbly stuff in celebration but, at our bolt hole.  Needless to say, our TV will be on all day so that not a minute is missed!  I so love a good wedding!!!  I even bought some delicious snacks for eating during the day and in the evening we will have a ‘surf and turf’ BBQ.  By the time I go to bed I shall be well and truly wedded out!!!

However, if you are a romantic, as I am, perhaps you may wish to follow this link although I am sure there will be ample footage wherever you may live.

Obviously, since we will not be at the wedding I will have to return their wedding present.  However, whilst deciding what to give I did come across some great ideas from the BBEST team.

Now and Forever Tasting Flutes by Glitznglass


Purity White Rose Earrings by Magdalene Jewels


White Cake Candle by AJScountrycottage


Victorian Bride earrings by Filigreegarden


Just a few of the amazing selection of items you can view when you look for the BBEST team on Etsy.

Meanwhile, please raise your glasses to our royal couple on their wedding day, Friday, 29 April 2011.  They have given us all a special holiday too so that we can celebrate in style!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Calendar Fun

Have you ever googled special days and weeks for a particular month? There are quite a few sites that list celebrations for different weeks of the month as well as for nearly every day of the month. When checking out April, I was excited to find days for recognizing librarians, taking your child to work day, poetry day, astronomy day, and pet day, just to name a few. Another site listed the jewel and flower for the month. I made a list of a few of my favorites, matching them with the talents of members of our Boomers and Beyond team.

April’s Jewel is the Diamond

diamonds pixiemarket

diamonds jstinson

diamonds magdalenejewels

The Daisy is April’s Flower

daisy yankeegirl daisy glitznglass daisy backroomtreasures

Earth Day is Celebrated in April

earth day mysticsilks earth day creatorspalette earth day heronkate

Frog Day

frogs jillstreasurechest frogs scottieacres frogs chris1

Garden Day

gardens stitchesbyjulie gardens ccvalenzo gardens sixsisters

Ocean Day

ocean fantasycreations1 ocean vanfleetstreetdesigns ocean pixiesupplies

Pet Day

animals pfdoriginalartworks animals dianeclancy animals hemlockhollow

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pattern Possibilities

During a weaving class I recently attended, I became acquainted with an interesting book on textile design:  The Fabric Design Book: Understanding and Creating Patterns Using Texture, Shape and Color, by Karin Jerstop and Eva Kohlmar. Although the book is aimed at crafters who work with fabric, the basic pattern ideas it presents are useful for all artisans who are interested in creating unique designs for their art works. The book contains ample color illustrations and plenty of visual inspiration for demonstrating how simple lines and shapes can be used to build more complex patterns.

Let's take a look at some of the pattern basics that form the groundwork for design exercises in The Fabric Design Book. Examples from our BBEST team will help illustrate these design elements.

Intricate design structures start with the spacial arrangement of simple geometric shapes and the interplay of varying shades of color. Our tools for increasing complexity and creating unique patterns include repeating shapes, rotating shape or line direction, alternating colors, increasing and decreasing pattern size, and adding surface texture. We can combine techniques as well, broadening the scope of our design possibilities.

The simplest design form is a line. We can use horizontal and vertical lines to divide an area into sections, creating stripes. By varying the thickness and spacing of these lines, we can make many symmetrical and asymmetrical patterns. Lines can be evenly spaced, or they can be alternated, thick and thin; they can also be turned at a diagonal angle. Applying color to stripes adds an extra design dimension. Using Fibonacci numbers, we can apply the mathematical principles Italian mathematician Fibonacci discovered in patterns throughout the natural world to create balanced and eye-pleasing stripe sequences. Making our stripes in size ratios that follow Fibonacci numbers - 1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21 and so on, will create a striped pattern that mimics the regular and harmonious patterns found in such things as "shell spirals, branching plants, flower petals, seeds, pine cones, and leaves." (

A natural step up from stripes, is the plaid, which is created by crisscrossing lines of varying sizes at right angles to one another. This interlacing of lines leads to checks and squares; crossing the lines diagonally gives us diamond patterns. Another variation of the plaid is a brick design, which is still an interlocking of lines. We can also apply Fibonacci-style line dimensions to the building blocks of plaids, to design visually appealing patterns.

Another method for creating patterns is to repeat geometric shapes, such as squares, triangles, rectangles, circles, wavy lines, and spirals. Some of the earliest forms of decorative art utilized this technique. Starting with a single line of repeating shapes, we can make borders, which can then be repeated to make more advanced and complex overall patterns. Again, adding color variations greatly increases the design potential.

Growing beyond basic geometry, we can repeat, or repeat and alternate design elements, such as leaves, animals, dots, or even very intricate pictures, to make sophisticated surface ornamentation.

The lack of a pattern is just as important as the presence of one. We can look at the negative space created by the absence or removal of line and color as a design element in itself. For example, taking a piece of paper and cutting away sections creates a lovely pattern, as in the butterflies below.

By simplifying and stylizing a physical object, we can change it to an artistic form. Rather than reproducing something, such as a flower, in exact detail, we can distill its essence to create a unique design motif. Further simplification of such a motif will continue to develop new design elements. Don't forget we can also repeat these stylized elements to make overall patterns. Combine negative space with simplified designs, and we create elegant pictorial representations.

Another way of manipulating shapes is to use mirror images. Think of taking a design element on one side of a piece of paper and folding the paper, or holding it up to a mirror, to create an exact but reversed image next to the original. We can mirror and repeat as well, just as we did with simplified images, to form a larger pattern.

Adding color to our design repertoire steps up our pattern options exponentially. We can take repetitive, basic shapes and colorize them, such as alternating hues, following a rainbow spectrum, taking different shadings of one tone, or following complementary or analogous schemes.

Using large blocks of color juxtaposed creates striking patterning effects. Patterns need not be extremely complex when dramatic color usage is the prime artistic tool.

The qualities of a color, such as intensity, shade, tone, tint, and value, change when that color is combined with various other colors. We can try pairing one color, such as the green in these coasters, with colors that are adjacent or opposite on the color wheel to see what affect this combination has on the qualities of the original color.

 This quilt blends a number of the techniques we have already considered by repeating geometric shapes filled with coordinating patterns, and harmonizing analogous colors. As you can see, the design possibilities are endless! Start by playing with basic shapes, add your own creativity, and you will soon discover that unique patterns are within easy reach of every artisan.

from ByTheBy