Monday, April 7, 2014

Our World Our Art 2014

Hello Our World Our Art participants, and welcome to my blog, Twigs and Tulle!  I'm so glad you're visiting, and I'm looking forward to exploring your art and blogs in return.

(click on the photo above to be taken to Lisa Swifka's lovely blog, A Whimsical Bohemian for more OWOA information)

I'm your host, Michaele (pronounced My-kul, "like the boy's name") Sommerville, and I've been creating and crafting since I was a little girl.

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I didn't consider myself fueled by artistic passion however, until my thirties, when I fell in love with a soldier and we began our military family life together.  Living in new states and having the opportunity to soak in the flavor of each locale made me realize just how much I gravitated toward the art featured in museums, shop windows, art fairs, antique stores and craft bazaars.  It's a trait I'd never recognized in myself before because prior to our first duty station, I had been constantly surrounded by family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances who all "did something" in addition to their day jobs.  Where was this artistry-rich environment?  Alaska.

I'm not a full time artisan or crafter.  I'm a wife, mother, and kindergarten teacher, having taught four, five and six year olds for close to twenty years in Alaska, New Mexico and Kansas.  I've been a single mom and have held down the fort while my husband deployed, and have dealt with the ins and outs of public education long enough to recognize my need for emotional and creative balance, and a sanctuary away from politics, debate and stress. Crocheting was my first creative outlet as a child, and cross stitch soon followed.  Putting up bulletin boards and regularly using glitter, paint and play dough with my kindergartners probably enables me to add (large-scale) scrapbooking, painting, sculpture and altered art to my creative repertoire, but those projects have always been compartmentalized in my mind as work-related.  Changing out of work clothes and into a tee and yoga pants so I can sit criss-cross-applesauce in front of my craft room's drawers, tubs, shelves and bins is something I look forward to most afternoons when I'm home from school.

"Handmade" has always meant love, effort, and caring to me.  Watching my family and friends as they cooked, baked, sewed, spun, wove, assembled, knitted, composed and crocheted, I could see the investment of time, resources, and sentiment that was lovingly and generously poured into each gift.  When I taught in Alaska, the school staff was full of quilters (or the spouses of quilters), so each wedding, birth or retirement was marked by the collaboration of colleagues to create a beautiful quilt as a memento.  Can you imagine receiving a quilt where each block was created by a fellow educator?  It was a remarkable place that supported and nurtured not only young children, but the creative pursuits of their teachers.

When my friends and colleagues began introducing me to their favorite hobbies and talents, I became intrigued by the tools, the processes, and the end results.  With their indulgence and encouragement, I'm now fully aware that while I'm no quilter, scrapbooker or candle maker, I DO love to crochet, make collaged paper items, combine ephemera, fabric and other textures, add pops of color, decorate for the holidays and special events, write and read blogs, and create charms and ornaments with glass and solder.  I don't feel stress when I'm in my crafty nook, partly because I don't pass through its door when I'm exhausted or upset, and partly because the materials I use and the techniques I choose to learn aren't mandated to me by anyone.  My creative space is where I can heed my own inner voice and create items I enjoy and can share with others away from the constraints I feel within my formal profession, though let's be honest: teachers love jewelry!

Charm-making has become the one passion that makes it possible to combine almost all of the crafting that I like to do into one piece of wearable and/or displayable art.

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Using various papers, hole punches, adhesives, and ephemera, I create mini-collages that I then encase behind glass and solder or adhere to dominoes and seal with Mod Podge.

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After being introduced to soldering several years ago, I finally decided to equip myself with the tools necessary so I could solder whenever the inclination struck, which frankly, has been often.  Fun factoid:  solder is so hot it feels cold when it hits your skin.  I didn't learn ~that~ from a book or video!  I look forward to working on larger projects when the summer begins and I'm away from the classroom for weeks at a time.  Until then, my charms are available via my Etsy Shop.

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I keep my soldering wand, block of sal ammoniac, flux, solder, and a jeweler's "extra-hands tool" on an old baking sheet.  Pliers, jump rings, beads, pins and small clamps are always nearby.  Off to the right of my worktable is a larger vise for securing bigger/heavier ornaments.  Being hands-free to solder helps immensely!

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I've used 3 inch by 3 inch glass, 1 by 3, 2 by 2, and 1 by 1 "inchies" for my ornaments and charms, so I was excited when I stumbled across half-inch by inch-and-three-quarter "sticks" with which to work recently.

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I wanted to use my favorite color, red, for my giveaway charm, but also wanted to share layered hearts with you.  As I played with paper, the solution hit me:  make ~two~ charms!

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Visitors who leave a comment with a current email address will have the chance to win both the heart and the red-with-white-polka-dots charms... one winner, two pendants.  I'll draw the winner's name on April 18 and contact him/her via a blog post here at Twigs and Tulle AND email.

Many thanks to Lisa Swifka for creating and hosting this wonderful web event, and encouraging us to reach out in friendship within this creative community.  It's time for me to brew some coffee, add some cookies to a plate, and put my feet up as I visit all of you.  I feel like I'm indulging in my very own art retreat from the comfort of my crafty nook!




  1. Hello, Michaele
    Nice to meet you! Thank you for stopping by my blog for the OWOA event. You sound like you are one busy lady, with teaching school, and caring for your children, and military life.
    I love making new crafty items. And I too have learned at lot from online kindred spirit artists. There are such wonderful mixed media techniques I have learned from the Artful Gathering ning site, also Jeanne Olivers ning site, 'the trodden path' ning site hosted by Jane Spakowsky (used to be Des Rosier). Jane's site has many varying talented instructors to choose from and also some free videos to view, plus workshop you pay for and have access for at least a year. I like it because I can learn new creative techniques at my own leisure and my own quiet time. On my blog's sidebar, I have many links for these same ning sites. I actually need to add a couple more sites I have joined just recently. Graphic 45 ning site is really cool as people contribute to monthly challenges and submit them to the Graphic 45 paper 'Team'. There are also some Graphic 45 videos on Youtube which are out of this world with creativity which show how to use their card stock designed papers. I also enjoy buying things on where there are so many art related items to purchase and also handmade items. I have met many people via Etsy and blogging and have become fast friends entering in to their lives with good times.
    I love the soldered giveaway items you have made. I adore polka-dots too!
    Please add me to your list for the giveaway and here is my email address to contact me if I win!
    Thanks a bunch!
    Are you thawing out in Alaska?
    It is suppose to be 90 degrees here in Central California this week. Very crazy weather we are having this year.
    Best wishes and talk to you again!

  2. Hello Micheale, I was a single mom for several years, raising two kids, and my creative outlet at that time was baking and gardening. I rediscovered my art when the kids were out of school, and met a tribe of kindred artists who encouraged me along. Having folks who support your creative endeavors is so important, isn't it?
    I love how organized your studio is, everything at the ready. 've only attempted soldering a few times, it kinda scares me. What a silly I am. :) Your charms are lovely, and I'd be delighted if I happened to win.
    Happy Creating!
    Helen @ Natures Walk Studio

  3. Hello Michaele, I enjoyed reading your post and seeing your crafting space. I've taken part in a few charm swaps and love seeing how different everyone creates. I'm in awe of anyone who can solder - I am too scared of it! I tried a cold solder tool once but when I saw a little spark come off it, it totally put me off and I haven't touched it since - lol.
    Your heart charms look lovely.
    Thanks for already coming to see my OWOA post and I hope you enjoy the rest of the event, I know I will.

    Sherry x
    My OWOA post is here.

  4. Hello Michaele ! what a particular life you have had ! Alaska ! must have been full of original experiences ! I had a great pleasure reading your post, and am very curious about your technique ! I would love to win your prize !
    and many thanks for visiting my blog yesterday !
    crossing fingers ;-)

  5. I enjoyed reading your post and would like to know more about the places where you lived ... I´ve tried soldering only once and found out that I prefer other techniques that don´t require that much equipment and that aren´t that HOT! Your soldered jewelry looks lovely, and I´d love to win and wear your pendants.

  6. I admire your soldering. I´ve tried it twice and it didn´t looked fine. Maybe I will try it again sometimes.

  7. I love your charms. I have worked with making some pendants on the glass but nothing like yours. I especially like the heart charms. They are beautiful.

    mia at jacobsracing dot com

  8. I LOVE your work...........I love your teaching stories..............I am lucky enough to have one of your pieces from Hearts In a Bowl. I am so happy you are taking part in's a low turn out but maybe next time more people will hear about it. I finally got my own post up....I think blogging is waning at the moment, it's an ebb and flow. BUT doesn't matter....I am greatly appreciative for those taking part!
    p.s. for some reason your background color is missing for me so had to read it against the wood.....not sure why

  9. I would love to learn to solder someday. Thanks for the explanation of it. You have made some lovely things. Nice to meet you!

  10. Michaele, it's nice to meet you--your charms are beautiful, and you've displayed them so nicely. It's great that you have an etsy shop for them, that way you can keep on making what you love! I'm going to have to go heart you . . .

    Happy OWOA to you!
    with a tiny journal

  11. What fun charms. I participate in a charm swap every year and I realize just how hard them are to make, at least for me. I would love to win your charms to use in a jewelry creation of mine.


  12. I haven't really tried to make charms before. Maybe I will try them with laces. I'm also a working mum with 3 schooling children and hubby working overseas. Little precious time left for crafting.

    munfoong5 ( at ) yahoo ( dot ) com

  13. Hello Michaele,

    My fingers nearly forced me to write Michaela instead of your real name because that's the name of my cousin. ;)

    Anyway, how lovely to meet you. It's really great that you included a photo of yourself, so that we have a face to your beautiful name.

    The charms are wonderful -- you definitely have talent putting together designs. Whoever is going to win the two offered charms will be lucky for sure!

    Happy creating always,
    Birgit (from Germany)

  14. Michaele you are such a motivational crafter. You have me wanting to try soldering in my crafts, and I don't even own a soldering wand. Not yet anyway. ;-) I was taking a look at your blog and your crafting area makes me drool. I hope to have such a nice dedicated space as you do someday. Also, you got me caught on Cathe Holden's blog looking at her barn transformation. Another drool-worthy crafty place. I can't wait to look more at your blog and see what other crafty things you have been up to. :-)


  15. As someone with burns up my arms where I keep forgetting the oven shelves are HOT (I'm a try hard - not always getting there, cook) I winced at just HOW you might have discovered the meaning behind that word.

    Love that you make your own charms - that truly is hand made!

    I have been waiting so long for Our World Our Art and have completely missed it :( So am determined to take part by reading the entrants blogs. Loved 'meeting' you :)

    Carmen x


Merci, gracias, danke for visiting! Feel free to leave a comment or question: