Thoughts of Design Inspiration


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Birdhouse Parade

bird house blue

Blue bird house – gorgeous!

It’s the time of the year when the birds are doing nests and enjoying their little houses. You see them coming and going, with bits of dirt and grass, and happily working on their projects. Then, you see small eggs and small heads popping out of their homes. We have a second year bird resident, an eastern phoebe, who built her nest again under the roof of the steps. We have named her Toivo and hear and see her every day going about her usual bird life.

There are many crafters who have chosen to build bird houses and make them their primary craft.  Here in our small coastal town you see various stores selling handcrafted bird houses. Today, I also saw them used as a decorative design element on a shore house, in a way that I haven’t really seen them used before.  All these colorful little homes can get your inspiration going, what a lovely decorative element.  This could also make whimsical accessories, such as jewelry and pins. I was also thinking – how about a bird house belt buckle?

Colorful bird houses attached to a beach house

Colorful bird houses attached to a beach house

Enjoying the scenery on top of her bird house

Enjoying the scenery on top of her bird house

I’m not too familiar with this craft, but the results sure are interesting. There are plenty of different materials used and the color schemes can be quite remarkable. I was getting really inspired by these little homes since I kept seeing them on my bike ride along the coast. I then decided to stop at a little local gift store that carries a wide variety of bird houses. I was amazed at the artistry and variations!

Various wooden bird houses at a local gift store

Various wooden bird houses at a local gift store

After seeing all the materials, colors and small design elements involved in these bird houses it all evolves into new ideas forming for my crafting. I have been considering various concepts in my head of wooden decorative items, sort of three dimensional paintings.  It’s a bit similar to the small scale of bird houses and their decorative elements.  This is another opportunity for me to use the items I keep finding washed up on the beach – ropes, wood, lobster trap parts, and so on, and this seems like something worth exploring!

Such a nice display with tiny homes!

Such a nice display with tiny homes!

Saco River Market


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Saco River Farmer’s Market

Saco River Market

Saco River Market

A Farmer’s Market –  is that an unusual place for finding inspiration? I have been to the Saco River Market now for a few times  – I am a sucker for good food and entertainment. I bring my jewelry table even though it’s really technically a farmer’s market, not so much  a venue where people come browsing for jewelry and accessories. These markets tend to evolve though, attract more varied vendors and this one is now also a destination during the Saco Biddeford art walk on last Fridays. I love the setting – old brick factory building right on the river on the second floor. The view is amazing and potential limitless. There is both indoor and outdoor space, and  a band playing every Saturday, tables and chairs for seating. You can browse various crafts – from jewelry to pottery and from Maine nature pictures to pillows. You’ll find natural beauty products from handmade soaps to natural fragrances. The food is awesome:  fresh seafood (scallops, oysters, tuna!), vegetables, bread, lobster, pie, seaweed snacks, cajun spices, authentic Italian cookies, artisan chocolates, even locally brewed beer and delicious Italian food cooked right on the spot! (the beet salad, you HAVE to try it…) The vendors are an interesting collection of people from all over the country (and the world!) You can find their life stories quite fascinating.

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Pine Tree Seafood – Jim will get you cooking!

Three Sister's (and Louie) Italian Cookies

Three Sister’s (and Louie) Italian Cookies

Crazy Dick's Cajun Foods - get spicy!

Crazy Dick’s Cajun Foods – get spicy!

Medicine Wheel soaps

Medicine Wheel soaps

I want to feature some of the great vendors here, to get your taste buds going! If you are not near Maine, find some other local farmer’s market – I’m sure there’s one nearby. It’s worth exploring – you might find your ultimate favorite product (like I did with the Maine Homestead Farm’s Blueberry jam) I have cooked both scallops and arctic char that I got from Jim’s seafood  (Pine Tree Seafood and Produce), delish! You get that nice sear on fresh scallops, nothing beats it! If you’re in the mood for pasta, try Terra Cotta Pasta gourmet ravioli.

Then have a sweet treat by 3 Sister’s Italian Cookies (yummy authentic Italian cookies – try the lemon!) End your day with Medicine Wheel Herbals  using one their soaps made out of food grade plant oils and home grown herbs and smell yummy with Kittywitch perfumes.

If you need a crunchy snack have some tasty stuff to dip your chips in from Guzman’s Salsa and herbs from Freda’s Table and authentic Cajun spices from Crazy Dick’s Cajun Foods.  

In the mood for something warm and hardy? Try one of the fantastic handmade artisan soups from the Soup Guy (he has been known to also offer fresh “Finnish Limsa”, his version of Sima – a lemon drink made in Finland for the first of May. )

Penny - a happy greyhound enjoying her day at the market

Penny – a happy greyhound enjoying her day at the market

If looking for something for your pet – like for Penny here – try the Growling Gourmet’s organic dog treats. And of course jewelry – there’s me (Evädesigns), Lois Kenney and Marrick , you will get accessorized in no time!

Evädesigns and Lois Kenney Jewelry -available for your accessorizing!

Evädesigns and Lois Kenney Jewelry -available for your accessorizing!



For a relaxing moment, take home a brew from Funky Bow Brewery and some hand dipped chocolates for the special someone from Azul Chocolates.

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Funky Bow Brewery

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Azul Chocolates

Saco River Market Freda's Table

Barb with Freda’s Table

So does the farmer’s market inspire creativity? I would have to say “Yes!” I get inspired by seeing other vendors’ set-ups, the materials and colors they chose to use. This venue itself is inspiring, the rustic look of the brick and the river, can’t beat that. I enjoy seeing interesting packaging design, like Kittywitch’s labels, the strong colors are instantly recognizable. There are a couple of vendors here that use white birch, I love it since I grew up seeing those birches everywhere. The luscious colors of baked goods and vivids of fresh vegetables certainly inspire. It also becomes a journey in texture, shapes and lines (and don’t forget smell, since there is food cooking here!) Enjoy!

Growling Gourmet - organic treats for pets

Growling Gourmet – organic treats for pets

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Highland Avenue Greenhouse and Market


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Spring Color Schemes

Apple tree blooms in Southern Maine

Apple blooms in Southern Maine

It was a beautiful spring day in Maine today – dry, sunny with nice cool breeze and striking blue sky. I just had to go on a bike ride and enjoy it.  The air was so nice and the colors absolutely gorgeous. There is something about the spring on a clear day, there is such clarity of colors everywhere. The blooms are out and the leaves in the trees are just opening and they are so bright with this vivid striking intense green, resembling a lime green color.

That type of green only happens in the spring and then it’s quickly gone, lost in the winds. I was so taken by all the bright colors of newly born plants.  Colorful phlox everywhere in various shades of pink and purple is stunning. The daffodils that are still in bloom, early apple tree blooms and bright pink early lilac blooms not yet quite open.

Spring green tree leaves

Spring green tree leaves

Bright pink phlox

Bright pink phlox

Purple and pink phlox on the side of a country road

Purple and pink phlox on the side of a country road

Lilac blooms opening

Lilac blooms opening

Color is my ultimate source of inspiration. There is nothing so satisfying and eternally interesting than all the colors and their millions of shades. The light effects color in a profound way, and so do the seasons. Seasonal color is intriguing, a color in the fall is different from the same color in the spring! I get inspired by many things, but color is the ultimate one. There is nothing like it, all the limitless shades of colors.  In color analysis the undertone of color is taken into consideration and people are divided into cool and warm categories. You can clearly see this in the nature, how the undertone changes throughout the year. Just go outside and observe!

The green that I saw today really inspired me, it is the kind of green I do like, unlike the late fall dark muted green that is not my favorite.  The bright yellow of daffodils and forsythias, the pinks of lilacs, azaleas and magnolia blooms are all wonderful colors to work with. I took out some of my green and pink beads, this will be my palette.  I started some ideas wire wrapping beads into necklaces, it is relaxing for a change since you only need a couple of tools, wire and lots of beads!

Beads for spring color palette with some beginnings of wire wrappings

Beads for spring color palette with some beginnings of wire wrappings

Daffodils in Southern Maine enjoying the spring sun

Daffodils in Southern Maine enjoying the spring sun

Bryn Athyn Cathedral


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Metalwork at Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Last week I visited our old hometown Philadelphia and ended up going to see The Cathedral – as we know it –  the grounds for several impressive Gothic and Romanesque style  buildings built between 1913- 1919 known as Bryn Athyn Cathedral.  When we lived here we used to go for pleasant walks on the grounds to enjoy the extensive flower plantings and to admire the architecture.

I had never really looked carefully at the metalwork that exists in the cathedral and was quite amazed how very interesting it is and then learned it uses some impressive techniques. I especially liked all the handles in the various doors that are made with monel metal. The animals depicted in these door handles have some type of biblical symbolism. So, what is monel metal? Monel is a natural alloy of nickel (67 percent) and copper (28 percent), with a small proportion of other metals. It is very tough, more difficult to work with than iron, and can be welded only using oxygen and acetylene. It will not rust, and will maintain a white, nickel-like beauty without being reflective. When hand beaten, its surface presents a pleasing texture of light and darker tones. While outdoors it develops a lovely patina of gray-green.

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Throughout the Cathedral the locks and latches are also fashioned of monel. There is a collection of forty-seven handcrafted monel keys that open the locks!

Another interesting detail about the cathedral is that there are no right angles or straight lines – this  used to be common in medieval buildings.

The stair railings that you see in the picture are quite remarkable work of art. They have a lovely green patina and work so well together with the stones of the building.

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Spiral Stair Railing

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Spiral Stair Railing

Bryn Athyn Cathedral - Set of  Metal Doors

Bryn Athyn Cathedral – Set of Metal Doors

Bryn Athyn Cathedral - Set of  Metal Doors Copper

Bryn Athyn Cathedral – Set of Metal Doors

The stained glass windows of Bryn Athyn Cathedral were created using the medieval method—melting various pigment and metallic oxides into the glass itself and then having a glass blower create a disc of glass with varying degrees of thickness and brightness.

There is a set of doors that are made out of single sheets of hammered copper,  together with these monel handles they certainly demand attention!

I became interested in metalwork recently so I never actually paid attention to these marvelous details. This sure gives you an appreciation what a real metalsmith and craftsman can do!

As visitphilly describes it “This welcoming stone Cathedral, with Gothic archways, stained glass windows and carved woodwork, is the spiritual center of Bryn Athyn, a religious community with its own school system and museum. Symbolism connects theological doctrine to the Cathedral’s design, using elements of medieval simplicity and the American arts & crafts movement.”  If you wish to learn more about the Bryn Athyn Cathedral metalwork see: http://www.newchurchhistory.org/articles/cathedral/09themetalwork.php

Glass and Monel Metal Door at Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Glass and Monel Metal Door at Bryn Athyn Cathedral