Monthly Archives: November 2010

We All Dream

Catch the first dream home
ride it like birdsong
chickadees rising riff
sounds about right.
Cat on the fence
sits like a stopped clock
regards a frozen squirrel
pendulum tail ticks slowly.
Weak winter sun
spatters the domestic drama
we each have a reason
to imagine June.
what's interesting to you

Rabbit Contemplates the Meaning of Christmas Present(s)

Black Friday. Where the hell did that come from? The idea that somehow it's great to get out and spend money like its a competitive sport. A big game hunt for giant snipe, buying each other invisible love with credit cards. No wonder the world is pretty sure Americans are idiots.

We can't win over here, first we get bombed into teeth grinding frustration with political ads, and the second those end we are flogged Christmas ads exhorting us to beat each other to the punch and save, save, save. Save what? Hey! The emperor has no clothes….

I  suppose I reject the entire concept because it is entirely counter to my idea of Christmas and what it means. I have always liked the idea of making something rather than buying it and I am going to slap the next person who tells me, "But you are so creative." Hog spit, we are all creative. Some of us just don't want to risk putting our love out there in something we've made when we can purchase much nicer love and save time too. Who wants to risk judgement or rejection from the objects of our love and devotion by not spending enough? Somewhere along the line Madison Avenue convinced us that spending tons of money is the thing we should all do–whether we have it or not.

  I'm sure the memories of homemade handprints and potholders come flooding back to most of us when we think of homemade presents. As grown ups, we think with shame that those gifts weren't good enough and that we were just silly. You know what? I'll bet most of the mothers that received those potholders and plaster handprints still have them and treasure them. For me, it was hard to finally toss  years of worn out glittered pine cone ornaments when the proud giver grew up and left home–but I still treasure his plaster handprints and marvel that he was ever that small.

For me, Christmas is the anticipation and preparing for the day even more than the day. The joy is in getting ready, the building of hope and joy, and that bubble of pure happiness that still shows up even in my cranky grown up heart.

When I make something for someone it takes on a sort of practical magic. I'm weaving my care, my love and my thoughts into making something be where nothing was before. I know my sons have never quite understood that the care and thought they put into making even a simple gift is more meaningful than a diamond tiara. To receive something that someone made for ME is amazing.

Time is the thing we can never get back, there is always more money in the world, but the time spent in thinking of just the right thing and preparing that something is an investiment of pure love. You can't return time to the store and get something else, when its gone its gone.

 If someone I love thinks about me and what I would like and spends their treasure of time to make me me a gift certificate for washing my car each month for a year that's amazing. Its a gift I will have all year long. I love getting a gift of an afternoon spent with me doing anything I want,  a piece of paper that says I promise to give you a whole Saturday working in the yard without complaint or an I will do the dishes coupon book. Those are things that you can't just get at the store and forget, they require an ongoing investment of love, and that's Christmas to me.

I will go shopping and I will enjoy it this month, but what I will enjoy the most is the planning and the making of gifts made by hand for the special people in my life. I will put myself under ridiculous deadlines and wonder what I was thinking but it lets me stretch the season and its attendant joys over a month and that's what I love most. That long slow anticipatory pull towards the holiday.

As I find ideas and patterns and instructions I will share them in case there are other crazy present makers out there too. Off the soap box now, and into bed, tomorrow is going to be an exciting day of sewing with my flattened felted sweaters, a new adventure begins!

Rabbit Celebrates: The Tree is Up and Shining

Fintree 
 
The installed tree is so tall its hard to get back far enough to get a shot of the whole thing!

Let me see….where to start? Sunday was crazy. I had almost everything organized for TID (Tree Installation Day) but I still had a long list of tiny peripheral bits to finish. Things like tags for the big stack of stackable boxes that were going to display the gift tags,  sewing a crystal on the bookmark, gluing down Santa's letter from the Rotary folks into an old Christmas book-hence the bookmark.

Do I have enough tools? Tape? Ribbon? How many pairs of scissors, wire pliers are in that box? Did I remember to stick in the kitchen sink? That's what it felt like by the time I got the back of our old Durango loaded up with 3 big boxes of tissue wrapped ornaments, a bucket with painted sticks for the wine lights, wrapping paper, tools, telephone, stepladder and my tool bin. I forgot my camera!

Luckily I had my phone camera so I was able to get at least one photo of the tree in process. I did remember my camera yesterday for the final finishing touches which included jamming a ton of wine baskets and wonderful gifts under the tree. Tor arrived 5 hours late on the train with weather delays and breakdowns, a 2 hour trip ate the entire afternoon. He jumped in to the car and we drove through the snow to finish the installation. Getting home at 6:30 was entertaining, we had four wheel drive and had to deal with hundreds of people who didn't, they were slip sliding all over the place and getting thoroughly stuck.

Finmoo2 
Moosh takes in the prezzies, dressed in his snowflake vest for the occaison

 Boy, whoever gets that tree is going to have a great year. The gifts donated by the Rotary people, who really did an outstanding job rounding everything up, include  12 bottles of wine, 3 gift baskets of sexy snacks–including glassware for the wine. A trip to Maui, a trip to Victoria B.C., a helicopter ride, a Karastan Baktari rug, a framed art photo and a ton more. My friends came through too. Shout out to Tone who donated a cool thousand in permanent cosmetics, which are wonderful by the way. (I have to thank her for my eyebrows daily-formerly motheaten, now very nice.) Carolyn at Oly Framemakers gave me an adorable framed print of Santa Claws, sled pulled by cats. Nice.

I whipped up three wine lights for some local color.

Tree wine lights 

I will post instructions for these fun easy wine lights soon. Great for outdoors if you do them with the bottle opening pointed down.

Faye B. met me at the Red Lion Hotel and helped me haul all my supplies and junk down to the ballroom. The room was filled with trees! All the way around the room in every stage of construction. A few were finished and a few were not even started but most of the design teams were hard at work like merry little lady elves. By then it was starting to snow so the mood was especially festive every time we looked out the windows at the white world outside.

It took eight full hours to decorate the tree. Every ornament has to be wired on so it won't come off when the tree is bagged like a giant corpse (eww) and dragged off to the new owner. Luckily, designers are there for the event called "fluff and buff". We get to go to where the tree will finally be installed and unpack everything that was around the tree and deliver it, putting the finishing touches on our trees for their new owners. I am really glad about that because I want to hand carry Carmen Miranda's hat to make sure it arrives intact. Fintree1

I was so tired by the end of the day, my fingers were sore from wire and I was covered in glitter from one end to the other. My legs and back ached from going up and down the ladder but I was so proud of my tree. Its not like any other tree there. They are all beautiful and all very different from each other.

Fintree2 

 Mine turned out exactly as I envisioned which is something rare in an artist's life, and that made everything even better. The ladies who head up the whole shebang were next to me putting up a tree covered in elves. Moosh loved them and the elves! I have pictures….Finmoo4 
Moosh and his new friend

It was so much fun to see all those ornaments again. They've been packed away as I do them and to see them all together was wonderful. The pictures don't do the tree justice. I will try again tonight at the "Sneak Peek" to get a better shot. It looks very Victorian and white and gold, its just plain pretty.

Fintree4 
 all finished

With this installation, I have proved what I set out to prove, that you don't have to go out and buy cheap Chinese junk and help pollute the world. We're already in trouble and we don't even know it yet. Our children will reap what we have sowed in the way of  instant and expensive beauty. Yes, this took much longer but the pleasure in creating with my own hands was amazing. ANYONE can do this! You just need patterns and directions and a heart open enough to realize we can still change our world. Okay, Rabbit, off the soapbox now.

Best part? They have already asked me if I would do it again next year. The answer? A resounding YES. I have never worked so hard and felt so fulfilled at anything I don't think. Maybe it was just being allowed to have the vision and control and then share something gorgeous with the world?

 

Now, next year do I want to do cats or masks or …….?

 

Rabbit Creates Carmen Miranda’s Christmas Hat

Miranda,%20Carmen_05 
Our girl Carmen, check out those shoes!

Okay, it's really the topper for the Christmas Forest Green Green Tree, but it looks like something Carmen would strap on and shimmy across the floor singing something outrageous.  After I saw the tree toppers on the 'sample' trees at Washington Floral a month or so ago, I was terrified. Those things were serious, both large and in charge. I'm a star on the tree top kind of girl and these trees meant business! Throw in the challenge of going green to make it even better. What on earth to do?

Earth! I went on the hunt for a dead globe, I was willing to conscript my son Torin's really nice one for my concept but as luck would have it, I found a second hand globe lurking in the toy section of a local GoodWill store. $3.00 later I had the raw materials for my concept. I had to unscrew the top and bottom and approach it like a squirrel opening a nut, if said squirrel had access to a jigsaw and opposable thumbs. I used my jigsaw, (yes, mine. Girls like tools too) to cut holes in the top and bottom big enough to stick plastic water bottles inside the globe.

Treetopper start 
cutting the earth down to size

Treetopperstart 
who knew Antarctica was so small? 

 I knew I wanted to bring the tree sponsor's theme into my concept for the tree top, the final showy piece de reistance. Rotary is my tree sponsor and their focus is on clean water for children around the world, which mixes nicely with my concept of living more lightly on the earth and leaving a smaller carbon footprint by repurposing used stuff.

I wove a net with wire and acrylic crystals as water drops, glass ones were unfortunately too heavy for this use, and dropped the net over the earth.

Treetopper1 

Next step was to take the net off and cart the globe to the studio to figure out how to make it into a vase and stick it on top of the tree. The solution was those used recycled plastic bottles. One was glued thoroughly into the bottom of the globe with the neck sticking out using E6000 killer glue. A round rod fits into the neckhole and it can be wired to the tree for stability.  The bottom half of a second bottle  was glued to the bottom of the other bottle. Voila! Instant vase.

I glittered the globe  heavily–one half of the world at a time. Interesting that this was the first time the glass glitter got me. When it's stuck down thoroughly and you grab it, it's like glass sandpaper and I have little glass cuts from my careless handling of the glitter globe. Ah, the pain of making art…

After all  the layors of glue dried I put the stake into the globe, stabilizing  it with shiny silver tape around the bottle neck, the kind of tape guys who do ducting use, I love that stuff. I felt so clever-I used my bench vise to clamp the stake in place to finish the whole thing up. I dropped the crystal net over the now glittery globe, glued that down and added three gold and white ribbons that will unroll the entire length of the tree. 

Treetopper detail 

The final step was to create the floral part with white silk glittery poinsettias, this cool glittery mistletoe looking stuff, and some tingle, which looks like wicker with a permanent wave.  I glittered up the tingle and wired more "water" crystals into the top of it. I wanted it to look like water was falling from the top and running off the globe in a metaphorical sense. 

Treetopper 

I love the thing! I was smart enough to make sure I did not glue the flower arrangement in because the finished topper is more than two feet tall and I have to transport it across town and mount it and then dismount it after its sold. Its shiny and catches the light and its fabulous!

Carmen Miranda, eat your heart out!

Treetopperfinished 

Carmen Miranda's Christmas Hat

Glass Rabbit

 
Paperballs packed
 
Paper balls bowed, glittered and ready to shine, safely packed away

I can see the finish line, sort of, almost…I packed the last of the over 300 ornaments today, all in their tissue nests. The tree topper is underway and boy, is it over the top! It's shaping up to look like Carmen Miranda's Christmas hat!

 Snowmanconversaton.jpg
The last of the finished ornaments appear to be having a snowman conversation, the nicest thing about last minute ornaments is the Christmas stuff is starting to show up now, 3 snowman salt shakers no less.

The glass cards got done this week too and the process follows. I found antique postcards, okay…from the 1920's, is that antique yet? That would mean my mom is an antique, oops….and I saved them to create cards with. I scanned them and sized them down just a little because a full on post card would be a bit large for the tree.  I always cut with a cutting pad and an exacto knife against a ruler because that way my edges are strainght, scissors tend to leave a wavy edge no matter careful you are.

 Glass 1

I absolutely love working with glass and I have a huge stash of ghost town glass and broken china. I love putting things back into the world, but it is one of the messiest things you can ever do. Water, glass, a whirling grinder head spraying glass dust mush everywhere–that and the fact that it can do serious damage if not respected and treated carefully.

When the knife sharp edges are gone, the glass is filthy with marker, fingerprints and the mushy powdery stuff that glass ground into dust becomes when you get it wet. After I ground all 16 of those pieces they had to be dragged back to the studio to clean up. My glass work area is outside where I can make an even larger mess than usual–and for me that's saying something.  I always, always clean up immediately though. Dog, cat and people paws don't do well around glass bits so they are disposed of with care. 

Glss2 
 
Soldering is really fun, but soldering irons are fiercely hot. I don't know the exact fahrenheit, but I have a nice Weller 100 iron that just romps through rolls of solder–this means I am melting metal kids. Today's tip: always, always wear closed shoes when you work with solder. I cannot imagine how much it would hurt to drop melted solder on a foot and I never want to find out!

This isn't the place for an entire how-to-solder-and-make-cool-stuff class, so I'll just hit the high points because it really is a cool process. In January I'm hoping to give studio classes to two or three interested learners at a time, a chance to drive the hobby before you buy all the gear.

Moving on, chemistry is key. I always keep the chemicals in their separate areas. I use plastic cups that say in marker: flux, oxy solution and patina. I don't like to contaminate containers so I just pour out the small amount I'll need and put it in a clearly labeled container so I won't grab the wrong thing–and if you use small amounts no worries about disposal either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_came_and_copper_foil_glasswork   Go to the bottom of this page to read about copper foiling, a more scientific answer than mine to be sure!

 Glass4

 Glass5

This has been an incredibly long and complicated topic to cover and I'm afraid I have just bounced off the high parts!  I'll finish off with a picture of 16 finished glass cards and the "Office Staff". They have patiently put up with glitter, glue, being stepped on and it doesn't seem to have fazed them. We should all be so relaxed!

 Glassfinished
ready to pack up

 Glasshelper
Glasshelperfinished 
Moosh and Sweepea, studio staff, always busy…

Rabbit Makes Lists

Today's entry is lists. I have tried to document the genesis of the tree and jotted notes in what has become a really ratty looking sketchbook through this process.  I saved the lists as PDFs and hopefully you will be curious enough to see what the heck really went into the process of creating 300 handmade ornaments…

Download The Genesis of the Green

And then there is this one:

Download A Partial List of Tools and Studio Stuff Used in Making the Ornaments

And this is the funny one:

 Download What I used to make the ornaments

 

Rabbit has Boris Goodenough Syndrome, Tree Doubts Ensue

I'm approaching the finish line on what I hope will be a beautiful tree for the Providence Saint Peter Foundation Christmas Forest.  When I finish the ornaments I will have made by hand 302 ornaments for this tree. I'm tired. I think I've hit a small mental wall and the dreaded why-did-I-do-this-to-myself? Will anyone like the tree? Will they get my green concept? Does it matter? Will someone buy it? Did I do it right? 

My friend Faye called it Sally Field Syndrome and says she gets it everytime she does a tree, which is every year. "You like me, you really like me"….etc. I think when you put your entire heart into something its easy to get it broken, which is why being an artist/craftsperson is such an explosive thing to do. If you are serious about this art making thing, you intend to put the work of your heart and hands out into world for people to love, hate, ignore, tolerate and every human emotion in between.

No two people are alike and consensus on opinion is not alike either. I loathe that guy who is "the painter of light", what the heck is his name anyway? His stuff looks to me like art-by-the-yard for over-accessorized pseudo Victorian homes and it makes my skin crawl. He's rich, so a lot of people buy and love his stuff, that's life in the 'art world'.  If you  want to play in that playpen you need the soul of an opera singer and the hide of a rhino along with talent and the years of work to hone it. I do pretty well in all but the getting rich part, but I have my share of dents and cracks acquired over the years.

I think I'm just scared of the whole tree installatoin process too, there's a lot of fear in the unknown.  I have never done this before and I want to get it right.Some big name designers and peeps who have done this for years are in the mix and I'm sure their trees will be amazing. Its not a competition per se, but there is implied competition as in, no one wants to be the designer of the tree that goes for the smallest amount when it gets auctioned. And then again, no one has ever done anything that is green/renewable/recycled so this will be an alien concept. Does anyone actually want to learn this lesson at Christmas? I just don't know.

 I haven't seen the venue or the blank, lit artificial tree or where it sits in the room. I know its against a wall so everything on the back won't be visible, but as Faye pointed out, after its delivered it could well be sitting in the middle of a room and be viewable from all sides. After the auction we have to go "fluff and buff", a big bag is drawn up over the tree and its mandhandled into a truck for delivery to its new owner. This means every fragment on that tree has to be wired down like it was going into a wind tunnel for testing. I'm guessing the glitter will be an interesting thing to contend with when it gets bagged. All I can do is make sure they handle it gently. I'm hoping I get to go along and tidy it up when it gets to its new home. We're back to that again–will someone buy my poor little tree? Sally Field where are you when I need you?

 

Rabbit Hits Saturday, Saturday Hits Back

I woke up tired this morning, not enough sleep and the Tree that Ate Cleveland tapping on my subconscious like a crazed squirrel at a window. I had coffee, one of life's wonderful necessities and hit the studio, still in my pajamas. Hey, its Saturday, its the closest I'm going to get to a day off!

I started fighting with the circle cutter and here's what I know: circle cutters hate thin old paper. You have to work to find something acceptable to the infernal machine. I used most of the sturdy sheet music, tried several old books and wound up dragging out a 1987 map atlas which worked well. Also learned to open the "holes" in the balls as I go, stretching them out to make a pretty full circle when done. The glue dots were okay but I went back to the glue gun for speed and sturdy to finish my big batch.

 Ballpic

It took all day, but I got a batch of the metal cutouts polished off with bows and final touches and ready to pack in addition to finishing 20 paper balls. A few of the balls are all done, I had to have something to keep me going besides scorching my fingers so I glittered and bowed and baubled some to just enjoy the prettiness. A bunch of them are sitting on a tray waiting for the last touches tomorrow.

Metcut 

I want the paper done because next project is doing the glass. I keep finding more salt shakers I cannot resist and  I have old postcards that I am shrinking and enclosing in sheets of glass, leading and soldering them. They should be pretty, I am shooting for about 10-20 and that should get me close to my goal of 300 ornaments.

Yglass 

Blessings on the gallery that shows my work, Matter Gallery, and Jo Gallaugher, the owner. Matter artists have created 12 ornaments which I will pick up tomorrow and cannot wait to see! I will put up photos of the ornaments too.

I am at the list making stage and into some serious time management at this point. Next Sunday and Monday are Up With The Tree Day, and Tuesday is the gala cocktail party pre-launch. After that, the public pays to tour the forest along with a whole week of breakfasts, dinners, events and finally the big gala auction. Funds raised go to community  health, I'm paying it forward with my work, knowing someone will get care they might not otherwise get with the proceeds.

I don't mind not directly benefiting, its been a wonderful experience and it has been good for me to understand that I can do this stuff, soldering, glass work, wire, paper, you name it. I know I can do lots of amazing arty things and I'm good at it too. Now…if I could just make a living at it…I will be teaching classes in the studio in the spring, a great start, thanks to the encouragement of Carolee and Jamie.

 Exciting stuff! Tree Week, I am only attending the cocktail party for the Chritmas Forest and representing me, the Artist's Market group (rock on independent artists!) and Matter. I'm pretty sure no one has ever seen a tree like this one with 300 completely handmade ornaments. I am just hoping like hell people get the concept. I always doubt everything I do of course.

Which brings me to something I wanted to observe. Paul Sparks, my all time favorite college professor, held that the presentation and finish were as important as the art. I have always taken that to heart and everything I do is finished as completely and as perfectly as I can make it, even if you can't see it, its in the details. Yes, its made the tree ornaments longer and harder than a Wal Mart run, but I am really proud of this work.  

I'm hoping to get the Tree stuff polished off and do some joyous stuff to sell through Matter and my Etsy site. If folks want my ornaments, give me a shout and I'll get them mailed quick as a bunny. (shameless plug for Running Rabbit).

Stay tuned for details on the upcoming Artist's Market Gala and my show in December, but for now its late and I think I'll go fall face down in a pile and sleep until the squirrel starts tapping on my unconscious again…

Rabbit Plays Hard Ball With Paper

IMG_0327 
The hardball ornament

My friend and fellow Christmas Forest tree decorater, Faye B., saw a beautiful paper ornament and sent me a picture of it. It was love at first sight and I was determined to figure out how to construct something like it. I dredged around and found a pattern on the internet and it was only after I had made about three of the ornaments that I reread the instructions and realized I was making life much harder for myself-although I really like my accidental invention better and think its much prettier in the long run.  

There are two versions of the paper ornament here, the easy ball would be great to do with kids for the holidays. You can use any old book with fairly sturdy paper and its fun to see the balls come together.

IMG_0334 Easy ball on the left, black glitter hard ball on the right

Start out by finding paper you'll enjoy using. I found old sheet music and loved its black and white effect for my project, since the tree is pretty much white and silver at this point. Hint: I found Zots glue dots the day after most of these balls were finished (of course) at Joanne's and they work great! No burnt fingers!Ball1 
Ball2 
 
Ball3 

Here is one more shot of the finished ball showing the glue points for the "hard ball"

Xfinish 
Xdone 

The hard part is done! Now I just have to make about 37 more of these, that's a lot of sheet music! My friends Jamie and Carolee came over like the good elves they are, and lent a hand. Jamie cut out circles until I'm sure she was going in circles and Carolee spent the morning packing up all the finished ornaments after giving them their ribbon bows. Such a lot of help and friends speed the work along too.

The most magical part happens with putting the wire through the hole I drilled with the Dremel, giving the ball a good all over dusting of spray glue ( my favorite is Aleene's spray glue, it works great. Michael's with a coupon for about five bucks a can). Then the fun part– the ball is dropped gently in the Shake 'n Make glitter bag and shaken gently. I use its wire hanger to pull it out and tap off the excess glitter before hanging it up to receive a ribbon. These are so pretty I'm dying to try different sizes and different kinds of paper.

Xjamie 
Jamie working away cutting circles.

Xcarolee 
Carolee ribboning up an ornament

Running in to town to hunt up glue dots I discovered Martha Stewart makes black glitter! The coolest stuff ever. It is so elegant and sparkly, I'm ready to roll in it! I'm still a major fan of German glass glitter, Meyer Imports on line, but come on, black glitter is cool!

IMG_0322 
beautiful black glitter edges, labor intensive but so elegant!

 

Rabbit Thinks About the Green, Green Tree

Alicetree 

While my hands are busy with the endless work of creating the ornaments for this magnum opus of a tree, my brain is busy with a lot of things including what to make for dinner, did I remember to feed the cat, give the dog water, and why I am working so hard to make ornaments that are repurposed, recycled and made from renewable resources?

 Every single thing is not green– there are a few plastic bits here and there. In our culture I don't think I could completely escape them and I haven't found glue yet that isn't pretty much like plastic when its dried.  I think I have always been on the recapture and repurpose wagon, way before it became popular. That's what comes of growing up without much money and being very clever, and its a great skill to have, thank you. That, and always wanting to figure out how to make new stuff have been very useful in the construction of what will be over 300 ornaments when done.

 I have always loved second hand stores  and garage sales. The cultural anthropologist in me regards these places as treasure troves of stories of our world. I just don't have to dig and get filthy to do my archaelogy. I am so curious about how did this stuff get here and why?

Being an art packrat I have always dragged things With No Useful Purpose home to just look at,  rocks, sticks, seedpods, shells and pieces of the natural world inspire me. I am the only person whose husband ever looked at her in disbelief when moving house. "Second best rocks? You expect me to move a box of rocks? Where are your best rocks anyway?"  I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd spent money mailing rocks home to myself either. He knows when we go on a road trip the floor boards will be full of stuff I pick up. Last summer went to visit my favorite Utah ghost towns, nothing there but old busted glass shards. 5 Trader Joe bags full of glass and a huge box of bed springs later….oh, did I mention we were in a Mini Cooper convertible? (My husband is wonderful and patient if you haven't already figured that part out.)

Bunnyroc 

I do use these things in my work. I create jewelry from the glass and I love handling it and wondering where it has been and how long. The bedsprings I haven't figured out yet, I'm thinking they'll be windchimes sooner or later, but I digress. The point to this tree is to show that you don't have to go to Joanne's, Target, Michael's (all of which I adore) and buy their gorgeous cheap ornaments made in China. Why not?

From a 2008 editorial in the New York Times: "Chinese leaders argue that the outside world is a partner in degrading the country’s environment. Chinese manufacturers that dump waste into rivers or pump smoke into the sky make the cheap products that fill stores in the United States and Europe. Often, these manufacturers subcontract for foreign companies — or are owned by them. In fact, foreign investment continues to rise as multinational corporations build more factories in China. Beijing also insists that it will accept no mandatory limits on its carbon dioxide emissions, which would almost certainly reduce its industrial growth. It argues that rich countries caused global warming and should find a way to solve it without impinging on China’s development.

But just as the speed and scale of China’s rise as an economic power have no clear parallel in history, so its pollution problem has shattered all precedents. Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. And it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut.

Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.

Chinese cities often seem wrapped in a toxic gray shroud. Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe. Beijing is frantically searching for a magic formula, a meteorological deus ex machina, to clear its skies for the 2008 Olympics.

Environmental woes that might be considered catastrophic in some countries can seem commonplace in China: industrial cities where people rarely see the sun; children killed or sickened by lead poisoning or other types of local pollution; a coastline so swamped by algal red tides that large sections of the ocean no longer sustain marine life."

Did you know a lot of the pollution over L.A. comes from China? I think we have become very spoiled Americans. We want things cheap, cute and now. We are often not willing to pay the price for goods that are made in a thoughtful, carbon-light way. I think the price is hidden and the toll in our environment and on humans around the world is a terrible price to pay, and ultimately we will pay it.

With this tree I have decided to celebrate the beautiful things that are already in the world and turn things that are not so beautiful into beauty. Old glass, old metal, old paper, and lots of German glass glitter. 

It has taken me long hours and many of them are hard hours– cutting out old metal with tinsnips racks the back and trashes the hands, solder can burn and glass can cut, but the end result is worth it. Beauty wakes up and walks in the world again. I can share it with hundreds of people who will see the Green, Green Christmas Tree and maybe be inspired to make a few of their own ornaments.

I have put instructions for each and every one in my blog as I go, I hope they inspire your own creativity!