Friday, December 19, 2008

Inspiration strikes!

I've continued to ponder the 'tropical holiday' theme, and I know where I'm heading now.  In my last post, I spoke of spending time at the coast every year.  During those holidays, we explored the reef whenever the low tide was at the right time.  Some of my favorite memories involve snorkeling in pools around brain corals.  The big ol' blobs hosted the most abundant and fantastic array of fish.  

Most days, we would be fortunate enough to see at least one scorpion fish.  When we saw these, we would always back up slowly and admire these very poisonous and fantastic fish.  The bold stripes and the long, ribbon-like fins always inspired awe and respect.  

I want to make a necklace inspired by these fantastic fish.  I just picked up some colored polymer clay to play with, so I think I'll use a mix of hand made beads (woohoo!) and strips of peyote to imitate the fins.  Of course, by the time it's done it will have evolved somewhat from this original brainstorming!  

I'm excited. :D  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's time to vote again in the Etsy Beadweaver's December challenge!  Visit the EBW blog and cast your vote.  

My entry: This choker fit for an icy queen!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tropical Holiday

The next Etsy Beadweaver's challenge theme was announced a couple weeks ago or so.  The theme is 'Tropical Holiday' and pieces will be submitted by February 5th (an extra month for the busy holiday season!)  I haven't had much of a chance to think about this theme until today.  
Today, I did start to think about what a 'Tropical Holiday' means to me.  As mentioned previously, I grew up in Kenya.  (The picture to the left is my dad, sister, and I - holding the stick - in Kenya back in the day.)  We lived first at latitude 2 degrees North, and later at latitude 26 minutes North (~ 1/2 degree).

The pin shows the location of our first home, in Logologo, Kenya (Google Earth got the spelling wrong - at least it is improved from the previous spelling - Lokuloko- yikes!).  The picture below shows a ground-level view, during the rainy season.  Normally, you wouldn't see any green on the ground. 

The picture below shows our house where we lived later, at the bottom of the Kerio valley, a very steep valley within the East African Rift system.  We were on an agricultural development project, with a yard full of papaya, mangos, bananas, pineapples, and oranges.  I grew up thinking of apples as an exotic fruit.

I went to school at latitude 55 minutes South (almost 1 degree South).  (It was a boarding school, which I totally loved.)  We crossed the equator every time we went home.  If that ain't a tropical childhood, I don't know what is.  The picture below was taken when I went home for the summer after I had started college.  I swallowed my pride, and took a very touristy picture at the Equator sign.  (I'm on the left.  We wore long skirts because it would have been totally culturally inappropriate where we lived to wear pants, shorts, or short skirts).
So, what does a tropical holiday mean to me then?  Well, a very normal holiday to say the least.  Every year, we went to the coast for a couple of weeks.  There were cottages available for us to stay in, and we could stay there making our own food and cleaning ourselves for two weeks, or stay in a fancy hotel for maybe 3 nights for the same price.  We took the 2 week option.  My dad would walk down to the fish market and find something fresh to grill.  Coconut trees grew in the yard, and the fruit was free for the taking.  There is a fringing reef just off the beach that we would snorkel in almost daily.  By just off the beach, I mean that at low tide, you could just meander through very shallow water to the front of the reef.
Another bonus of staying in the cottages is that we essentially had a private beach.  It was technically public, but the only public access was by walking from farther down the beach.  We were able to avoid the most intense of the hawkers, and more importantly the very frightening western tourists (think large frames, sunburnt to maroon, far too little in the way of swimsuits, and very little understanding of local culture, all on a crowded beach).

I'll have to keep thinking about how I can translate all of this into a beadwoven piece!