That magic moment.
The kind of moment when you step outside yourself and realize this moment is so incredibly amazing and you want to record it in your memory. The split second when magic happens - the magic bean taking root, the dragon hatches, the apple is bitten.
A few weekends back I had a moment - I slipped away from my tent, my art and wares, my job... to sit with Carolyn Turgeon and Charles Vess. They were doing a collaborative "talk" on magic in the creative process at the Spoutwood Farm May Day Faerie Festival. I have met them each on numerous occassions and wanted to see what they would create in a tent, on an idyllic farm, on a sunny Sunday...
Carolyn is a fabulously charming, witty and very talented author. Her work most recent work takes classic characters from fairy tales and reinvents them in a style all her own. Captivating! She was reading from her novel "Mermaid" and Charles was drawing - a touch of pencil and then Sharpie! Carolyn read the scene of the mermaid's transformation - and stopped at that magical moment before the potion is consumed. She asked us to imagine that moment and what we would create from that point.
Where did I go - since you saw me over Charles' shoulder, scribbling away on my 3x5" card...
I plan on making this piece - as close as can be without harming any mermaids... It was a lovely creative respite from a fun filled festival day. I count myself lucky to be in such good company!
Did I mention my sketch is on Carolyn's blog? And a huge thanks to Carolyn for the pictures!
Charles website: Green Man Press
"Mermaid, a twist on the classic tale" on Amazon.
("The Stolen Child" by W. B. Yeats)
For the last two weekends, I stole away with the Fae. I returned, and while I didnt turn to dust upon touching mortal ground - I DO feel like years have passed while I was away. So many Muggle chores and work items to catch up with... So I steal a moment or two to chat with my fae friends on the Book of Faces each day and it keeps the spark of magic alive until next time. Thank you all for being my friends and family, my tribe, my community.
(If you are looking for the "Inspired by Reading" post and creative reveal - please click here. )
I love it when a plan comes together. I received these simply gorgeous glass headpins from the hands of Jen Cameron for this month's Component of the Month at Art Jewelry Elements. But I was out of town. I got home with 36 hours until the reveal... and I was tired and had mounds of laundry to do... When I sat down this afternoon I was thrilled to make it work - and I am pleased with the results.
The headpins made me think of water. Not only the color, but the spiral and the tiny bubbles... I have been working on and off lately on a series of Goddess necklaces. This color and the element of water made me think of Yemanja. She is the Yoruba orisha, or diety of water, childbirth, the essence of the ocean. She was and is revered in many Afro-American regions, from Brazil to the Caribbean. (My Yemanja figure, shown on my "water" shelf with Sulis from Bath, is from New Orleans. ) Over time, Yemanja was seen to share many characteristics with the Virgin Mary: protectress of women and children, robed in blue, Mother of all... Mary is also known as Stella Maris/Star of the Sea thus linking her with the ocean as well.
So I started browsing the stash... and started with a piece of sea glass. Here is a little "photo essay" of the selection process:
After that - the Parawire and the seashell were kept in the mix, along with copper links. I found the color blue more vibrant than the gems in my stash, and turned to Czech glass and crystal to satisfy my palette. The copper links are stamped "etoile" and "de la mer" to reference Yemanja/Stella Maris/Mary.
Coiled wire bail, dangle headpin, stamped copper links, wire wrapped crystals and glass beads, sari silk, seashell, hand made wire clasp.
Not bad for a day's work! What do you think?
Please stop by these blogs - my team mates and the guest designers participating this month:
(If you are looking for the Art Jewelry Elements CoM reveal - it is located here.)
Pour a coffee, pull up a chair... and welcome to the first month of the "Inspired by Reading" book/creative club. This wonderful idea is being masterminded by the tireless & creative Andrew Thornton. Simply put - we participants, far flung though we may be - are reading a book a month. Then we are creating something - jewelry, a doodle, poem, collage... inspired by the book. Its very loose and flexible - which makes in very do-able, in my opinion.
Our first offering: "Paris to the Moon" a collection of essays by Adam Gopnik that detail aspects of his life as a writer and father living in Paris. They were originally published seperately in The New Yorker magazine, and collected as a book published in 2000.
I enjoyed the book overall, but found some of the essays not engaging to my interests. The topics of French economics and politics were not my favorites. The descriptions of life in the city, the challenges of an expatriot living abroad, and the frequent culture clashes between a former New York City resident and his now-fellow Parisians were charming and humorous.
I was most inspired by his field trips with his son to Deyrolle Taxidermy. This Paris icon, preserving natural wonders since 1831, was their destination when rain kept them from their habitual turn in the Luxembourg Gardens. I usually find taxidermy a bit morbid, but this had me fascinated. Animals from the farm to the safari, many abandoned by their owners, bills unpaid. And insects, and coral, and butterflies, and all other diverse objects from the natural world - a cabinet of curiousities...
Cabinet of curiousities. WunderKammer. Literally translated as "Room of Wonders"... from as early as the 16th century these collections housed "objects included as belonging to natural history (sometimes faked), geology, ethnography, archaeology, religious or historical relics, works of art (including cabinet paintings) and antiquities." The image below, "Ulisse Aldrovandi's Cabinet" (engraving by G. Mitelli) shows the concept in all its chaotic glory.
Pendants. Amulets. Housing treasures - both natural and relics... Hmm...
From top left: boxes - showing folded corners and inserted wires. They are cut from metal sheet, one piece; with tabs that fold to overlap at corners. There are wires inserted as staples to hold tabs and provide loops for attachments/bails. Then the boxes are filled - with ivory polymer, 2 part epoxy putty, black polymer.
Stained. painted... The shell piece (top left) had a chance encounter with the floor, sadly... The bottom two are my favorites. I prefer the layers of transluscent color I can achieve on the ivory base.
These will be finished with dangles and mixed media necklaces. They are rather heavy - but had to be deep to accomodate the items. I think they are reminiscent of specimen trays, and would be worthy additions to a WunderKammer. They are artifacts, and natural items, and become amulets as well. I think a future series of these will be stamped on the back with a quote, a secret word of power or mantra to wear next to your skin.
I hope to finish them this week for my first big Spring show - Spoutwood Farm's May Day Fairy Festival. Its a wonderful, magical time...
And I hope you follow me to "Hop" and see what others created - inspired by "Paris to the Moon". The list and links are on Andrew's blog.
Thanks for stopping by - I would love to hear your thoughts on these new experimental amulets...
Welcome! This is my third year doing the Bead soup Blog Party - and the first thing I have to say is "Thank you!" to Lori our hostess and fearless leader. We wouldn't be here without you... seriously.
I think my title sums it up: send and receive beads; be challenged/escape your comfort zone; make new friends! And honestly - if you are here reading this - you know what I mean. So let me introduce you to my newest friend and partner this year - Jennifer Cabic.
Jennifer is an Ohio based artist working in metals and metal clay. Her pieces are created with layers of meaning; she creates amazing intense personal talismans, memorial pieces, that will be heirlooms in the future. I was struck especially this year at how well we were paired. Our work is very different; but we are drawn to metals, incorporating words at times, drawing from our own personal language of symbols, and creating pieces with intent, amulets and personal talismans. I am very drawn to her work, and was thrilled to receive one of her bronze clay clasps in my soup.... (Here's a reminder of what arrived for me...)
I loved the earthiness of the corals and jasper nuggets - and was challenged by the pink tones.
I loved the warm brass and circular motif of the focal - and was challenged by its tribal style and size.
I adore the clasp. Using it was not a challenge but a joy!.
Please know - my soup is fabulous. But I am not a pink person - hence the challenge. Overall I am thrilled with my pieces, both how easily they came together and their final appearrance. (And thanks to Staci Smith for inspiration!!!) I knew I wanted the focal to have a dangle. The tribal/boho/earthy feel sent me to sea urchin spikes and shell daggers. There's a river stone, howlite nuggets and seed pods in there too:
The rustic bronze sun/floral piece ( at top center in this pix) and the concentric circles I used in the clasp are by Staci of Artisan Accents. They were the perfect elements to unify the focal and the chunky gems and nuggets. I liked the scale of the circular piece and used it for visual balance and to create a clasp with my forged spiral hook. One side of the necklace is strung; seed beads in burgundy accent the darker tones in the coral. The other side is wire wrapped, and the back is finished in recycled sari silk.
Dangle of chain, bells, sea urchin spines, shell daggers. Bead caps on coral beads are made of copper gears, dapped to fit.
Left: matching earrings. Right: detail. Howlite, jasper, lava stone, seed pods, river stone, coral, bronze spiral.
At this point there was a good deal left over... the green lampwork beads were sparking ideas for a different palette. I knew I wanted the clasp to be a focal in its own right... so chunky stones to give it "presence" and here she is...
Gems and lampwork - a medley of greens...
What a pleasure to meet Jennifer and work with the generous assortment that she sent me! Please tune in to the other posts - its a long list - today and over the next few days! I know I look forward to seeing as many as I can... Thanks for taking the time to join me here!
I love Art Jewelry Elements Component of the Month. What could be better? Every week, no - every day - I am reminded how happy I am to be on this team of talented, smart, funny, creative women. And then every month one of them sends me a treasure? Its like your birthday - every month. Its a pleasure getting to know them each a little better by working with their work. And its a pleasure meeting new people out there on the Interwebs; people who win a piece and create along with the team.
( I know there is a practical marketing side. That we are showing off our creations and networking, and spreading the word about handmade artisan beads/components. But I cant deny the social side!)
OK. Enough gushing, enough sentiment. Let's get down to the loot. This month's element comes from Joanne Tinley of Daisy Chain Jewelry. You can find her finished jewelry and her components on Etsy! She made stamped copper hollow disc beads. The amount of labor that went into these! - you can read that best in her own words.
I like them all, but I did request a dotty/divoted one. It reminded me of the craters on the Moon's surface. I have a tendency to try to highlight the CoM piece, and really make it the focal of my design/creation. I imagined these would be larger because of the labor involved - they arrived and are so delicate! My original plan is sketched below (on left):
(I had been planning to sculpt a polymer goddess, faux ivory-ish, and have the moon bead in her arms.) When I received my bead, I decided the dark rich patina wouldnt "read" as moonto most people. That - along with my crazy schedule, a few postal issues... all contributed to a change in plans from the sketched design. So I sat amidst my gems, and started making piles. The first - a lampwork disc by Joanne Z. Second and third - ceramic pendants by yours truly. The color palette was a natural choice as I love aqua and teal with copper.
I hammered and oxidized long oval copper links to serve as a counterpoint to the "moon" bead as I still think of it. Gemstones are wire wrapped; chain completes the last few inches. (Gems: kyanite, smoky quartz, amazonite, apatite) Its simple, but very much my style. I hope the gentle asymetry balances the composition yet sets off Jo's bead. And there is a pair of matching earrings - I am always late to the Earring Hop at AJE but I DO make earrings...
(PS: those are SueBeads enameled headpins peeking out of those earrings!)
So - thoughts? I love Jo's components and truly appreciate the time and energy involved. As always - a pleasure to work with my friends and their work. Please tune in to the AJE blog to see what every one else - and a few lucky blog readers - created with their treasures!
Hello my Focus on Life photo/journey/challenge compatriots. I usually post on Instagram - altho I missed a few, and dont get to interact with you too much. I am usually teaching ceramics class every Saturday morning, and never seem to get a post written ahead of time... Please follow my pix on FB, and Instagram, and here - when I can.
(The scoop on Focus on Life can be found here for those of you that are curious.)
I spent last Sunday with a group of Stunners. Thats the Pre-Raphaelite term for their gorgeous ideal woman, their muse, that inhabit their paintings. I also spent time with real life beauties - my friends that accompanied me to the exhibit! It was a lovely day, hard to describe. The artwork touches a deep place in my heart and soul. It was wonderful to share the exhibit with like minded people. I ended the day feeling full, happy, sated, inspired, exhausted, euphoric....
Here are pix from that day - including my "Curve" themed shots.
Sculptures are: "Atalanta" and "Diana the Huntress" by Paul Manship. Divinely Deco, fabulously female, marvelously mythic - my style! ( If the style looks familiar - have you seen the "Prometheus" in gold that dresides at Rockefeller Center? Yup. Same artist.)
I think I take a picture like this every time I am at the National Gallery. It never ceases to enchant me.
I will admit - I have not posted pix the last 2 weeks. "Wrapped up" and "Possibilities" So I submit this catch up photo - for both! I am deep into preparing for my first show, and I am all wrapped up in clay. The posssibilities are endless!
Have a wonderful week everyone. I hope to see your pix out there on the Interwebs. Happy Spring!
If it was the fall of 1981 - then I was 13. We were visiting Boston as a family; my older sister was looking at colleges. We - as good tourists do - went to Harvard Square, and to the Harvard Co-op. This image was on the front of a bin of posters, dorm room decor at its finest. I was stopped dead in my tracks. No one noticed but me - my family walked inside the store... It was that feeling that time was slowed, and all sound and motion around you has ceased to affect you. I was enchanted. I had no idea who William Holman Hunt was, neither had I ever heard of "The Lady of Shalott". My parents bought me the poster. It hang above my fireplace, the same print, to this day with pinholes from all the dorm walls it has faithfully adorned. I peppered my mother with questions in the car - to find that the Lady of Shalott was a poem by Tennyson. That was all she knew, but it was enough. I have included the poem below - it still sends chills down my spine.
My love affair with the Pre-Raphaelites had begun. It was met with a wee bit of snide derision from a college art history professor - herself a Classicist/Rennaissance scholar. It influenced my painting studies as I strove to find my own way of expressing myth/narrative/folklore/history. Yesterday I saw this painting in person and I cried. I am not trying to be dramatic - I was moved to tears both by the painting and the long lived influence it has had on me from the formative years throughout my training and career as an artist. (The painting is owned by the Wadsworth Athaneum in Hartford CT. Not that far... but not that close... Their page on the painting is here.)
This painting as well as many other favorites of mine are on view at the National Gallery in Dc until mid May. Many are old friends I visited weekly after art history class, while studying in London. Some are old friends from the Delaware Art Museum, my local establishment; others were met for the first time. It is a glorious exhibit - if you are interested in the late Victorian, in poetry, myth, medievalism, Decorative arts, Arts and Crafts style.... please dont miss it.
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And through the field the road runs by
To many-towered Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.1
Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.
By the margin, willow veiled
Slide the heavy barges trailed
By slow horses; and unhailed
The shallop flitteth silken-sailed
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand? 25
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?
Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to towered Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers "'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot: 50
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the curly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.
Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-haired page in crimson clad,
Goes by to towered Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.
But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling through the leaves, 75
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneeled
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.
The gemmy bridle glittered free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazoned baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shalott.
All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewelled shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burned like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often through the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over still Shalott.
His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd; 100
On burnished hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flowed
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lira," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.
She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She looked down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror cracked from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.
In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over towered Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote 125
The Lady of Shalott.
And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance —
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right —
The leaves upon her falling light —
Through the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.
Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turned to towered Camelot.
For ere she reached upon the tide 150
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.
Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.
Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."
Postscript: There are many glorious paintings of the PRB era inspired by this poem. John William Waterhouse painted numerous version himself, which I adore. If the poem speaks to you, don't miss the song of the same name by Loreena McKennitt.
Welcome to the 2nd Challenge of Music hosted by the creative goddess Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati. This year - the challenge: instrumental music. In my opinion, this is much harder, trying to embody a piece of music in a piece of jewelry without the usual cues and visual symbolism we read via the lyrics. But it was also easy, as my favorite instrumental music is composed and performed by Frenchy and the Punk - formerly The Gypsy Nomads.
Their music has been described as "An energetic hybrid of European Folk roots, Punk attitude, World Beat eclecticism and traveling player theatricality."Phil Brucato They are guitar and percussion - hearing them you will find it hard to believe there are only 2 of them. Their energy is infectious. Their music is magical, and addictive, and captivating. The first CD I purchased from them - I honestly described the song as " the one that goes _______" since it was on a loop in my head! They release their own CDs and tour the country from coast to coast probably 11 months of the year, a grueling pace. If you EVER get a chance.... run, dont walk.
The song I selected is Track 1 on this CD "Travelin' band of Gypsy Nomads" and you can hear a clip here. (I am happy to know Scott and Samantha personally. I asked Sam about this song. It may have been the birth of the Gypsy Nomads - Scott, who wrote the instrumental, was performing and Sam decided to jump up on stage, adding dance and percussion.With this collaboration, a new concept, and a duo was formed! ) I know I am influenced by the song title - but also by their lifestyle. Traveling the county and to Europe, instruments in hand, exploring and being inspired... The song conjures up a campfire, flames leaping, as a fiddle is tuned, a guitar strummed. Music freely played, dancers skirts twitching, tamborines jingling... and I see vardos aka Gypsy wagons.
( I know this is a Romanticized version, even a stereotype of Gypsy life. I mean no disrespect to Romani culture. I have started doing research - if you are interested in the Romani people, the British Romanichals or the Irish Travelers there are many articles on the Web. )
The vardo shape was what I kept seeing, and the door. So I set off to make a hinged door pendant. Yes, you read that correctly. The good news: I have 2 that work. The bad news: After making 4 pendants I have no finished necklace for the hop... So here's what took all of my time...
The copper door, Door #1. A friend gave me scraps of 1/4 plexi and I wanted to use that inside to cover the image and add depth. You can see the diagrams I drew, planning hinges. The hinges are parts of the sheet rolled with pliers. The hinge is small tubing with a balled wire inside. The piece is joined with microbolts at the bottom and a tube rivet at top - that will be the bail. Three holes are located below for dangles. The image is an antique postcard, and the door has a curtain of sorts - resined paper circa 1880's. I am currently working on a silver chain and copper pin that will latch the door closed.
I am happy with the piece, a protoype of sorts - and see that hinges will be easier in the future now that I purchased bail making pliers! Its app. 1.75" tall so its not too massive to wear. I am imagining a triple strand - 1 of sari ribbon, 2 of beads ( one seed bead strand, one gems).
While all that was happening so was this:
Teal keyhole shrine - Polymer pieces, built in bail, hand painted. Image under mica. The image is "The Fool" from an Italian Tarot deck of the 1800's. The Fool card means free of burdens, worries; living in the now, setting off to journey, spontaneity... among other things. It seemed to capture some elements of the Gypsy symbolism I was working with ...
Red keyhole shrine: Constructed as the blue shrine, the image will have resin or glaze over. I am thrilled with these results even though there were hours of fiddling to shape and then after curing, carve the door and hinge. I think the shape is also the most clearly derived from the vardos' original inspirarion. The image (seen below) is Mucha's Moon/cresent goddess.
Round porthole window: Thinking on the painted pattern and designs on a Gypsy caravan... you see here (from L to R) the front window shutter, the center image and the back. The cover will have a tube rivet, and the piece will be simply hung on a large jump ring. The image is a Gypsy woman, also from Alfonse Mucha. These are the images I was considering:
(All images by Alfonse Mucha except the Tarot card images. )
So you can see I was inspired! But I still have quite a bit of work to do! I would love to hear your thoughts and preferences from the four... I will do a follow up post when they are completed. I look forward to traveling the blogs to see what my colleagues have created; the list is shown below.Thanks for stopping by!
Ema Kilroy (bowed out)
Evie and Beth McCord
Kay Thomerson (bowed out)
Lynn White (bowed out)
Malin de Koning
Mary K McGraw
Melissa Meman (bowed out)
Michelle Heim (bowed out)
Molly Schaller (bowed out)
Sharon Palac (bowed out)
Tracy Stillman (bowed out)
February - how I missed you. You were gone in a flurry, frenetic, so fast. One thing that was successful, accomplished on time, and simply a positive during February was the Component of the Month over at Art Jewelry Elements! Here is what Francesca sent us:
Aren't they gorgeous? Depth of color. Variations in color. The fine silver accents. The pieces are very subtle, and have detail when seen up close. I didn't want the enamel to get over shadowed by one of my more elaborate mixed media assemblages. (You know how I am...) So I went back to simple, gorgeous gems, to accent this piece and set it off...
Strung with moonstones, pearls, aquamarine, apatite, and silver spacers...
I adore moonstones. I have a lovely strand of tiny faceted rondelles that are drilled too small for any wire but 26 gauge - and I decided this was their chance! It was the silver embedded embelishment that inspired this palette. I wanted accents of color to link to the overall blue/aqua tones, as well as silver.
These elaborate silver beads visually cap off the gem strand as it transitions to chain; the chain is just the last few inches on the back of one's neck.
I love the piece - simple, clean, with a bit of subtlety. I can't wait to see what my fellow AJE team members did - and dont forget the lucky guests who WON a pendant each! You can see it all at the Art Jewelry Elements blog. Thats where I am headed.... But before you go - I would love to hear what yo think....