Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gardening in Phoenix

My garden has gone a bit crazy this year. I think I have planted waaaay too many tomato plants. A few years ago, we built 4 raised gardens. Each one measures: 16 foot long, 4 foot wide, 2 foot tall and 4 feet between each one. My plan was to make it easier to get to the produce and not have to bend over to get to anything.

Here in downtown Phoenix, it is starting to get hot so my spinach and basil are finished this year. The plants that are left and really like the heat are: zucchini and spaghetti squash, sweet and jalapeno peppers, gourds and the crazy tomatoes. There must be 12 plants and 4 to 5 variety of tomatoes (The varieties I planted this year are: cherry, plum, grape and heirloom.

I consider them crazy since the plants have mutated and taken over the garden. Plants were put in cages but they have ESCAPED. I find it an adventure to try and get at the tomatoes. One side of the garden cannot be walked around due to the plants growing all the way the fence.

My favorite tomatoes the past few years are the smaller variety. I have planted ones like early girl and beefsteak but they just taste ok to me. I remember when I was a child and living in Washington state, our family would go to Yakama to visit friends who lived there. I remember that it was a very hot place and now it reminds me of Arizona in the summertime.

They had these huge beefsteak tomatoes that were the best ever. One of my favorite memories of these are my mother making tomato sandwitches with them. It is very easy to make.You take 2 pieces of white bread, put a tiny bit of mayo on both sides, maybe a little mustard and then a huge ¾ to 1 inch slice of these gorgeous tomatoes and then add a dash of salt.

There are also a few gourds this year. I have tried to grow them before but with no luck at all. I know my wife will be able to use them for creating wonderful bird houses and feeders.

Back in the shop, I have tried to create something different and with some color using only different metals.  Here pictured is an old key that was used to wind up a clock with a sterling silver heart and patterned brass, copper and steel wire to hang below. I am back to the drawing board to come up with some different designs of jewelry. Hmmm, I think it is time to get back to work.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Time to start the ride...

Welcome to the Willo Wire blog. My name is John Dearden and I reside in downtown Phoenix Arizona in the Willo district (which is part of the reason why I used Willo for my business name and blog).

I love to create jewelry from old, recycled/found items, combine it with the new, and add a little dash of fun. This is all very new to me-the jewelry making, blog writing and setting up my Etsy shop (I will start posting items in 2 to 3 weeks). During this journey into being more creative, I will be looking for what “my” style, voice and artistic soul looks like. Part of this site is for me to find and talk about my creative side and about all those other things that have captured my interest. Over the years I have found many. I would also like to share what I will learn during this adventure of finding myself and also to learn from those who wish to participate here.

I received my artistic spirit from my mother who was fearless in trying new things. My father was a great wood carver and an inventor of useful creations. I also want to include my wife, Vivian, who has opened my eyes the most due to her very creative spirit, art projects, bird houses and other wonderful items she has made. Below is her Hopes & Dreams box that she made.

My creative adventure really started last year when we participated in a class at a venue called, Art Unraveled, here in Phoenix. (For 2010, it will be held between August 3rd to August 10th; I will be there for 2 classes). My instructor was Richard Salley and that started me on my way. I never had such fun -- There was etching material, soldering pieces together and a little old fashioned beating the daylights out of the metal. That was a blast and I have my wife to thank for that.

I  participated in 2 craft shows so far (Coffee, Cookies and Crafts in Phoenix and 2nd Fridays in downtown Mesa) and that was a lot of fun and also challenging at the same time. Some of my thoughts at the time were: (will they like my work, will they think it is stupid, is the price too much, should I stop wasting my time with making jewelry, am I even a real artist?)
Copper bracelet with steel, brass rivets and sterling silver links in between.

Now that I have been creating jewelry for a little while and love it, I have decided to open my Etsy shop - Willowire - to sell some of my pieces. Now, I have a lot of experience in selling on Ebay but I was not sure about creating an Etsy store. So I was asking myself where to start? Unless you have some really creative friends who know what to do or know someone who is already selling on there, it is a little difficult and scary to start this process. I wondered to myself if this was the right thing to do or for that matter, what to do and how.

So now I also have another special person to thank and I have only seen her pictures and art online. Her name is Kelly Rae Roberts. My wife found this inspiring E-class through her searchings on Facebook. Kelly Rae’s 5 week class is called, “Flying Lessons” and is exactly what I needed at this point in my life. I have just finished week 1 of the class and it has given me so much in the way of inspiration and a feeling that I can do this. On her website is a brief description of what the class is all about.

  • Week 1 & 2 will be about creating an effective online presence via blogs, website and social networking.
  • Week 3 & 4 will focus on selling strategies online and off and finally,
  • Week 5 is about recharging ourselves, our souls and other creative ways of income.

This is just a very brief description of what the class is about but you can go to it at:

IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO SIGN UP. There is so much information to read and there are wonderful links. You can meet others around the globe who are also taking this class. The fee is only $99.00 and after only 1 week, I have received my money's worth! (And I still have 4 more weeks to go....)

Since starting this class, I have decided that: I am going to set up a Blog and eventually a website. I am going to start posting on Etsy in 3 weeks. I am willing to take chances on my artistic ability now and in the future and that I AM AN ARTIST. It may not be in a style that everyone else thinks or likes but it is who I am.

So onward to the future and what ever it brings for me and to all those I have yet to meet. Thanks for checking me out and I hope to hear from you who also have a passion to create.