Monday, December 29, 2008

Post-Christmas Chaos

We have just returned from two "away" Christmases. We are tired. The house I lovingly decorated for Christmas has turned into chaos. I'm attempting to sort things into piles. Then I will further sort the piles. Some piles are garbage. Some piles are soon to be garbage. Some piles are new toys. Some piles are broken things. Some piles are old cookies. Some piles are soon to be old cookies. Some (most) piles seem to be laundry. Some piles are things the cat threw up on while we were gone. My mother-in-law gave us a pile of items she no longer wanted.

The dog has consumed many things he shouldn't and we are awaiting the results. The chocolate things didn't seem to kill him. I'm curious about what the red crayon is going to do. I need to locate the items the cat has removed from the tree and possibly stored in his hidey-hole. There is probably a pile there.

The Christmas vacation days are piled up ahead of us. There are seven more days until school begins again. I have a pile of errands to do. A pile of playdates to set up.

I should have entitled this post "piles." I thought that would sound too nasty, though.

Anybody out there working on a pile of New Year's resolutions? That is one pile I'm not going to work on.

p.s. Happy Birthday Wiggy

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wishing You an Old Spice Christmas

I was hoping to find a Christmas photo set back in those ancient times pictured at left, but it seems we have not scanned any. So this is what you get. Me, probably at 4, and my sister, probably at 8. It appears that we may be wearing matching Christmas nightgowns, however.

I loved getting those Christmas nightgowns. Every Christmas Eve, we received something flannel to sleep in from my Great Aunt. Every time I smell fresh flannel, I think of Christmas. Forget the smell of gingerbread, bring on the flannel!!!!

Christmas in these modern times just isn't the same as it was 40 years ago. Back then, stockings were not full of iTunes gift cards, jewelry for various body piercings, and pregnant Barbie dolls. No, there were oranges, chocolate coins, and troll dolls.

If someone approached me and told me they had a time machine and I could go anywhere in the past or the future, I would go to Christmas Eve, 1968, 1969, thereabouts. Back to an Old Spice Christmas.

Four o'clock on Christmas Eve, we would be pulling up in front of my Mother's parents' house. Those tacky, yet stunning, red plastic bells would be blinking on the front door. Upon entering, the smells of ham, scalloped potatoes, and other southern dishes would rush over me like a wave. Uncle Jimmy would greet us and take our coats (the racist tirades would come later, probably with the blessing). The parlor would be full of gifts and my sister and I would quickly determine which ones were ours. The vast majority of the remaining gifts would say to "mother" or "daddy", since almost everyone else was someone's mother or daddy, the gift distribution would prove to be tricky later.

After an inspection of the dining table, I would head for the kitchen. My grandfather would immediately put a slice of warm ham in my hands, and the ladies, except for my great aunt, would be clustered around the appliances in the kitchen. My great aunt would have created a throne for herself somewhere and would be awaiting her subjects. Soon dinner would begin, after a questionable blessing by Uncle Jimmy. There was rarely a children's table, we all crowed together at one table. My sister and I, being by far the youngest, felt special using the "good" crystal, silver and damask napkins.

Next, the present frenzy began. It took quite a while to find out which "daddy" on the tag matched the actual daddy in the room. One of these "daddy" packages always contained a fruitcake. Once someone's daddy opened the fruitcake and suddered and grimaced, the package was passed on to my grandfather for whom it was intended. He actually ate the things. He claimed it would not be Christmas without one. Another "daddy" package contained an assortment of Old Spice products. I'm not sure if this was intended for my daddy, my mother's daddy, or my cousin's daddy, but there was always a sound of great appreciation. The Old Spice assortment contained what appeared to be 10 products. I did not know of any daddy at that time who used more than 2 or three grooming products, so I cannot imagine what all of those products were for. My sister and I received something flannel, and usually something quite bizarre from my great aunt. The "mother" packages often contained stockings (NOT pantyhose, heaven forbid), or a 3-month supply of AquaNet hairspray. At some point during the evening, we would walk around the corner to my "daddy's daddy's" house. My father's parents divorced when he was a child. We never called this man our grandfather, but we had to visit him and his wife for a few minutes every Christmas Eve. The house always smelled like vegetable soup and seemed to be littered with things that elderly people needed but should not display. If we were lucky, we could sample some of the soupy smelling substance and afterwards see any new additions to the gun cabinet.

After a 15-minute ride home (unlike the 6-hour one I endure now), my sister and I would crawl happily into bed in our new flannel. I would sniff my new flannel deeply until I fell asleep.

The next frenzy would begin about 6:00 am. Puzzles! Games! Socks. Underwear. Tinkertoys! Then my mother's blueberry coffee cake. I endured it then, I was so anxious to consume my chocolate Santas and coins. I love it now. Then the phone would start ringing because my father's mother and stepfather were anxious for us to come to their house. A 5-minute drive would land us at their house amid another group of great uncles, aunts and somewhat strange cousins. I can never remember what we ate, because I was always thinking about dessert. Boiled custard. MMMMMMMMMMMM. My husband cringes when I try to explain it. Recipe lost to history. I can only eat it in my memory. Damn, it was good. More presents. More older people exchanging gifts of undergarments. Candy candy candy. My grandmother made candy. Lots of it. All colors. All kinds. The only requirement was the candy had to have enough sugar to make you wince.

Pleasant. No drama. Little chaos (at least where us kids were concerned). Every now and then a bit of a surprise. One year, a drunk (my mother's people lived near the "bad" side of downtown) in a Santa suit paid the family a visit on Christmas Eve (this might be the last year I believed in Santa). Uncle Jimmy's blessings could make a politically-correct diner's eyes bulge. Another year, a Christmas card house caught fire & the house would have burned down on Christmas Eve if my Dad hadn't run the flaming thing out the back door. Other than that . . .

So no matter what holiday you celebrate, I hope it is a good one. Full of family, friends. And if not that, full of something good, something meaningful.

We are going for a six hour drive to visit my family for 2 days, then a 4 hour drive to visit my hubby's family. Hectic, yes. Pleasant, quite possibly. Perhaps my daughter will write about her wonderful holiday experiences one day.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Those 100 Things I've Done

Well, since it is Christmastime, the time for lists, I will list my 100 things I've done that my readers MUST know about me. I normally don't do these things, but I'm baking Christmas cookies and if I travel too far away from the oven to do other things, I will forget the cookies and set the house on fire. So, here I go. . .


1. Start your own blog
2. Slept under the stars -- if so, not intentionally
3. Played in a band band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity - maybe, maybe not. Did not declare bankruptcy as a result.
7. Been to Disneyland - went to Disneyworld for the first time when I was 35. It was awesome!!
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo - at least, I think. I opened my mouth to sing a solo when I was in the childs' choir at church. I can't remember if any sound came out.
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch - quilting
15. Adopted a child - best thing I have ever done on this list!
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables - I grew peas this year. Got two peas. Grew a carrot. It was 1 inch long.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France - over the heads of 200 Japanese men taking photos
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked - my hubby and I had to when our car broke down on the highway 10 miles from my parent's house. We didn't know what we were getting into until the car started off and dozens of beer cans rolled out from under the seats.
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping - most likely
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse - lunar, from a mountain top in Colorado. I did not hike that mountain.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a homerun
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community - just over yonder mountain, we have to start buggy dodging.
36. Taught yourself a new language. - working on French from Rosetta Stone
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied - I think so anyway
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michaelangelo's David - had to view him from the back. There were too many people viewing from the front.
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted - it is now in my basement
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been go the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in-theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at at soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma - used to not weight enough to donate blood. Not true anymore, should do it.
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - many! In basement with portrait.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the changing of the guards in London - saw them, but they weren't changing
77. Broken a bone - well, only a toe
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Brought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Red the entire bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating - only the accidental gnat
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone's life - quite possible, perhaps they would have lived anyway, at least I didn't hurt them.
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Well, there you have it. Anything else you want to know?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Waiting for the Mail Man

It is the time of day when the mailman usually swings by. I am ready. The dog is certainly ready (you know how dogs feel about the mailman). I am waiting for some Christmas cards.

Yes, I did do some complaining about the ones I usually receive in a previous post. It must have worked because the trickle of cards has slowed down to NOTHING. Earlier in the month we received a lovely card from our realtor (who we purchased our home from 11 years ago), our cabinet maker, and Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter. No, they didn't actually sign it. I'm sure it is a result of our contributing to Habitat for Humanity after hurricane Katrina. Still. Better than nothing.

So, I'll stop complaining about the Christmas cards I do get. I'll take anything.

Did anyone out there see Mr. Bean's Christmas show a few years back. He actually sent cards to himself then displayed them in his apartment.

That's my last resort and I think I seen the sign for the resort up ahead.

Monday, December 15, 2008

This Year's Last Bird


This is Sweet Songs of Birds II. It is for sale on Etsy. The piece shown in my last post, Sweet Songs of Birds I, is on auction on Ebay. This will be the last bird of the year. The last piece of the year. It seems that I am now on vacation.

I was going to do away with some traditions, but I have had a change of heart. My daughter wants to bake some cookies with me, so I'll make some dough and get out the cookie cutters. I was going to do with far less ornaments, but I'm going to dig through some more boxes in the basement and pull out some more childhood ornaments.

I'm going to cultivate some cobwebs in my studio.

Today I have to make a list and check it twice. I've got to figure out what needs to be done for our annual holiday party. We only throw one party a year, so I figure I might just stress a bit on this one. It also involves out-of-town guests so I must prepare the house for them.

What does a work at home person do when they are on vacation but not vacating the premises? Hmmmm. Relax? I dunno. Watch TV and eat bonbons? Work on other things!!!!! Of course!!!!!! I think that I will sneak a bit of iTunes surfing in. What can it hurt? I shall also have some Zen time wrapping presents. I think that is my favorite holiday activity. I love poring over my rolls of paper (remember, attractive ones are hard to find), then selecting a ribbon, and choosing from the tags that I have made. Oh, I'm so Martha at this time of year! I will unleash my creativity on my gifts & turn that studio light off for a while.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This Year's New Bird

This is going to be "Sweet Songs of Birds I". There are going to be 12 pieces in this series. There could be more, but . . . . I know I mentioned doing a quilt a week in a series for a year. It just doesn't seem to be the way I work, however. There are already new ideas in my head and I am ready to clean up the scraps from this project and get onto the next project. Eleven tops have been completed and are waiting to be quilted. I still have to decide whether to apply any beads. I will make the decision tomorrow, and put any beads on then. It should appear on Etsy this weekend.

No work shall be done today. It has been decreed by the local school board. We are supposed to have ice today. I don't think I see any yet. The students walking to campus seem to be moving at a brisk pace. My daughter has a morning long play date and I am on the computer. The quilts are sitting up in the attic, alone and in the dark.

I did get a bit of my "Ho" back yesterday. I was walking my dog in our lovely central Pennsylvania weather (bleak, yet not freezing yesterday). While rounding the corner next to my neighborhood home, a beautiful stone cottage, I smelled gingerbread wafting from this house. Suddenly the oppressive clouds became cozy and my coat became warmer. I'm definitely feeling more festive than I was when I wrote my last post.

Aside from the purchase of a boring man gift (not the man, just the gift), I will be done with my Christmas shopping. I have managed to purchase several hand-made items, including two from Etsy. One was from a local Etsy artist & I was able to pick that item up in person. It gave me the warm fuzzies. But, yes, I also purchased a couple of items online from Pottery Barn & they were wrapped in paper and cardboard and required the consumption of many resources. Perhaps I will do better next year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Let's Put Up the Christmas Pole -- It's Festivus!!!

Well, there is no photo here. Why? I don't have time. Why not? It's Christmastime.

I was feeling very festive last week. Now, not so much. I feel more like the Tasmanian Devil. Where did my ho go? That really shouldn't be funny. The word "ho" has gone downhill. But I digress.

What the devil happened to "all is calm, all is bright?" We're not calm here. And why not?

I'm putting up and decorating lots of trees. I've got cookie dough to make. I have a Christmas party to plan and cook for. I have to clean the house for that. We're gonna have overnight guests. I'll have to clean the bedrooms and wash all the sheets. We'll be donating our room to guests, so I'll have to clean that one too. I've got to buy presents and wrap presents. I've got to do my Christmas cards. Hey, just did the invitations -- now I've got to start over???

Most of the trees are up & the garland has been hung. I've hung balls from the garland, because that is what my family likes. I've thrown out Christmas lights and have purchased new ones. I have dug through the basement for extension cords.

There will be cookie baking and fudge making (my dad's favorite gift). There will be the usual homemaking activities, then we have to pack up just about everything and visit two sets of family.

I've got a long way to go. Somebody is not going to get everything they want this year. Not all of those damn ornaments are going to be hung. There are several years of "collectible" ornaments and snowglobes given to my daughter from other family members. I found a few today. Many more are still hiding in boxes. They are staying there until next year at least. None of my trees (yes, I love Christmas trees) have toppers. They used to. They are somewhere. They will stay somewhere until next year.

Some people will come to our Christmas party expecting certain cookies to be baked just for them. There gonna have to wait until next year, or the next.

I'm going to come up with a long list of things I'm not going to do.

Let Santa bring me some coal.

Don't care.

Gotta get my "ho" back.

Next year things will be different. I plan on doing even less. I'll still put up those trees, because I love them. I will still buy presents for my family, because I love them. I'll still pack up and visit my family & you know why. Something has got to give. Next year, I will be calm (if not bright).

Or I could just the George Costanza way & put up the Festivus pole, have the feats of strength event, and air our grievances.

Soon, I promise (on top of everything else I have promised), I will finish a couple of pieces and actually show you photos.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Recycling

I bet you thought you would read this post and discover all kinds of ways to be earth-friendly this holiday season. Not really.

This here is pretty much a recycling of a post from last year. I had a post-Christmas rant and I'm going to rehash it here. It will probably upset some people. Not too many I hope. More than anything, it is meant to be humorous, not hurtful.

Christmas cards. Or for many people, Holiday cards. Winter cards. Whatever. Is anyone offended yet?

I like to get them. I'm always excited when the first one arrives, even though that is usually from our realtor (who sold us our house 11 years ago), and comes with a small calendar. Regardless, this card is usually attractive.

Here's the thing about Christmas cards . . . . .

they are supposed to be beautiful. They should have glitter, elves, candy canes, santas, stars, engraving, three French hens, bells, stripes, swirls, ornaments (or be an ornament themselves), reindeer, flocking, dribbles and drips (if the kids have made them), silver and gold, wise men, sparkles, etc., although not all at once. I want to admire it. I want to say, "ooohhhhh". I want to put it in the front of my Christmas card basket until another beautiful card comes along.

Tomorrow my husband and I are taking the day off and are going out for lunch and boutique shopping in downtown State College. It's gonna be cold. We're gonna freeze parts off. And we're gonna have a darn good time. We are going to buy Christmas cards. I do believe they are going to be just lovely and the recipients will say "ooohhhh." And just to make the card a little bit better, we will tuck a photograph of our daughter inside. INSIDE.

Here's the hurtful part. For those who are going to send us a card, we most definitely want a photo of your children, dog, or the whole gang. If we know you well enough, we will probably take this photo and stick it to our fridge until next Christmas. If we really like you and the photo is exceptional, we will frame it. But if you could make this easy for us by slipping the photo INSIDE the card, we would appreciate it.

I know your family is beautiful. That's why your lovely faces will gaze at us from the fridge.

Just don't make the photo the card itself. If you like us as much as we like you, we really want you to send us a lovely Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. card. With a handful of the lovely items mentioned above on the front. It's the gift that keeps on giving. A card of great beauty AND a separate photo of your smiling cherubs.

And if that card is lovely enough, I will do my earth-friendly part and recycle it, perhaps make a beautiful gift tag from it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Google that Stole Christmas

Here's my daughter playing in her forest. Each year we bring all of the trees up from storage and let her play among them before they go off to their respective rooms to be decorated. This is a tradition. Along with opening the Advent calendar and visiting Santa Claus. I have a feeling the last tradition is soon to be a thing of the past.

How long can a overly logical child believe in Santa?

She has been asking questions about Santa since she could speak. Perhaps before that, but we just couldn't understand her. She knows that magicians are playing tricks. She knows that trolls don't hide under bridges or monsters do not squeeze themselves under beds at night (well, she believes that during the daylight hours). She does still believe in Santa. I'm surprised. Her questions keep tripping up me and my husband. She's going to put 2 and 2 together and realize they don't add up to 29.

Does Santa ride around with a bag of coal also?
Can he really see everything I do?
If reindeer can fly, why can't I?
Why do we give toys to tots if Santa is going to bring them toys too?
If Santa does so much work, how can he be so fat?
Elves aren't children are they, 'cause children aren't supposed to be working?
Do reindeer die?
If reindeer die, do they name the new reindeer the same as the old ones?
Is Rudolph real?
Is Rudolph old and dead?
Mama, can we Google Rudolph?

Oh no! Google! The truth will definitely be discovered then! My daughter is learning to read and is doing very well with that. She didn't understand that we could Google Abraham Lincoln and get his biography, but we couldn't Google Rudolph and find out about him. Yes, we found all kinds of information about the television special, but that's it.

Why is there no photo of the real Rudolph?

I know that her belief cannot last longer than the 1st grade.

Oh, well. I will enjoy this year as much as I can. And if she has any more questions, I think I will direct her to Santa himself. Of course, she does understand that those Santas in the stores and the street corners are not the real Santa. Probably. I have told her that every now and then she might just see the real one.

I'm such a bad liar.

Mama, why have you been lying to me for years?
Isn't lying naughty?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Time

Sorry, no turkey art here. This piece is "November's End", 33 x 10". It is up for auction on Ebay until this Sunday.

Last year I did a post on what I was most thankful for. I doubt seriously much has changed. I am thankful that I am still able to create my art. This is a time of economic turmoil and so far, I am working on my art and selling it. Yes, sales have been very slow since late summer. We'll have to wait and see what happens.

I am also thankful for the support of other artists. I have met a few artists through blogging whose art work and personalities I enjoy. There have been a couple of small purchases and even a trade made possible through blogging. Hopefully the economy will improve and I will be able to make even more purchases. After clothing and travel expenses, my profits often go toward art purchases. No doubt I'm not the only artist with similar priorities.

I have recently been lucky enough to join up with other artists in a blog called The Fine Art Department put together by painter Tracy Helgeson. Artwork makes a wonderful, thoughtful holiday gift. You are not only giving a gift that makes the recipient feel special, you are also helping out an artist in these difficult times. Having said this, I am off to Etsy to get some gift ideas for friends and family. I still have to figure out what 17-year-old girls want. And this year, I will not be giving out I-tunes gift certificates!

Hope everyone has a warm, safe and wonderful Thanksgiving day. Each year I come to appreciate this holiday more and more. Not only will I be having dinner with my hubby, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother-in-law and three nieces, my grandparents and older family friends will also be there in memory.

Oh, and I'm also thankful that I don't have to cook. So are the other members of my family.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Have Yourself an Ugly Little Christmas!?!

Last night, my daughter and I attended our local Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the State College "Town Square." Hot chocolate was drunk, carols were sung, and snowflakes actually fell. Lovely. I am now getting in the mood for the holidays. I enjoy shopping, baking, visiting friends and family and giving and receiving presents.

Each year at this time, I go in a search for beautiful Christmas wrapping paper. Each year I am more and more disappointed.

I love paper. All kinds of paper. Yes, even stacks of white toilet paper appeal to me. But why is it that I can no longer find attractive Christmas wrapping paper? This year I have seen paper with prancing reindeer, orange and yellow ornaments, blue Christmas trees, etc. . . all on the same roll of paper. Blech.

I remember as a child my grandmother had the most lovely paper. She worked at a downtown department store and received a discount on everything in the store, so she managed to amass quite a collection. My favorite had a black background with trees and birds. It looked like a crewel-work shawl. Stunning! I always asked her to wrap my presents in that paper. She did. I no longer remember what was in those packages, but the packages themselves were works of art.

Today, my search for paper left me cold. The store I was in today had a large display of black and white papers in several different prints. Yes, there were the usual ornament and deer prints, but jeez, it wasn't very festive. I would expect a gift wrapped in this paper to be presented by Herman Munster (with his festive green hands) and contain razor blades or a chicken heart. There were so many other non-festive papers. Now, everything does not have to be red and green. I am quite fond of gold and white, or even blue. But primary blue and yellow? Purple and white? Chunky and downright ugly designs. Why?

How are designers for wrapping paper selected? How does this ugliness come about? I know there are plenty of talented artists out there. Do they feel that wrapping paper design is beneath them?

Somebody. Anybody. Design something attractive for next year.

In a future post, I will discuss Christmas card design.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Exuberance

This is my idea of exuberance. It is being auctioned off on Ebay this Sunday.

Just a tad brighter than my usual work, huh? Every now and then I get into one of those crazy moods. I am NOT in one of those moods today. Not exuberant. Not even close. It has been quite a while since I have seen more than a brief ray of sunshine. Central PA is like that this time of year. I have yet to get used to it. There have been many flurries and even a dusting of snow the other day. Yes, I have read other blogs and know others' snow stories. It hasn't been so bad hear yet. I just want to see some sunshine, though. The hubby is away on business. That could be part of my non-exuberance. It is Monday. Although I usually love Mondays. I'm a rarity, aren't I. I love to think about a whole week laid out in front of me. Lots of studio time. Long periods of thinking time. I need that sort of time.

On Saturday, my daughter spent a couple of hours with me in my studio. I don't usually get much studio time on the weekend, but this time I was "lucky." The hubby had some work to do to prepare for his trip, and my daughter was sent to the studio to be entertained. When she came into my studio, I warned her she was not going to be entertained & she couldn't do a lot of talking (VERY difficult for her). She asked if she could do some stamp carving. She did it with great exuberance.

If any of my readers are from Social Services, they should go elsewhere. I encourage my daughter to use dangerous tools. I taught her 8-10 months ago stamp carving techniques and she has been begging me to let her do some REAL stuff ever since. So what the heck. I explained once again the safety tips and let her go at it. Then I explained to her how expensive carving blocks are. She was impressed to know that it would take her 5 allowances to buy a 7"x10" carving block. Then I cut her a couple of squares and explained how she should plan ahead by drawing her shape onto tracing paper in the size of the block. Then she needed to turn the tracing paper over and transfer the design onto the block. She thought that was pretty magical. Then she went to town with the carving tools. Her first idea was a snowflake. I think it turned out quite well.
She is now thinking of making her own Christmas cards. I am pretty impressed.

Now I am off to do some Etsy surfing. Does anyone know what 17-year-old girls like? I'm baffled.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Buzz Buzz


Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Hive II is for sale on Etsy.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, there are 4 pieces in this series and they are all 11x14". I do believe that I will also put one up for auction on Ebay in the next week or so. I'll let everybody know when I do.

I have been doing a bit of lurking (and a bit of purchasing) on Etsy lately. I've purchased an adorable pencil case from Amy Cowen, as a Christmas gift for my daughter, a stunning felt brooch from Vaivanant, as a gift for somebody. I think I'll be keeping it myself. Most recently, I purchased a crow drawing from Ellen Sereda, which is most definitely for me. As I live in an area where there is little in the way of original shopping, I think I will try to do as much Christmas shopping as I can on Etsy.

We do have a handful of quaint shops in the area, however, most of them do sell mass-produced goods. However, I will support these shops to the best of my ability when I cannot find what I want from Etsy. I vow to NOT purchase Christmas gifts from Target. My town does have an artisans' gallery, but since there is some bad blood between me and this gallery, I no longer support it. I'm still shocked at how some gallery owners can be so distant, chilly, non-supportive, etc., in regards to local talent.

I'm still debating trying out the quilt-a-week project. I'm sure to be quickly distracted from it. Yesterday, a friend and I went to a show at the PSU's Palmer Museum -- "New York Cool." Modern art from 1950's and 60's. My friend's mother, who is a docent at the gallery also went with us. A well-informed hour-and-a-half later, I returned to my studio only to feel quite inferior. I felt that I was making little crafty things, when I should be making large, meaningful pieces. I stewed about this for a couple of hours. I hand stamped some fabrics and just plowed ahead. At the end of the afternoon, I had determined that, indeed, I was making little crafty pieces. I had also determined that there was absolutely nothing wrong with that. These pieces have meaning to me, and hopefully to those who see and purchase them. They are not masterpieces. That is not what I am interested in doing right now. I am going to spend at least the next six months working on these small pieces and try to not be distracted into doing other things. That will be hard to me. I am a visual "ho" and I tend to run off with every new color or shape that I see.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tweet Tweet

What?!? Are you surprised to actually see a photo on my blog? Me too! The camera has returned from China and I finally have time to take a photo of what I have been working on lately.

It has actually been a few days since I have worked in my studio. The fellows have finally finished with my bathroom. I had to run out to purchase bathroom necessities. There are many other things I have done and many other places I have been lately. The one place I have NOT been recently is my studio. I had to go there yesterday to iron some shirts and the place was covered with cobwebs! Well, not completely covered. However, there were some webs dangling in the place I normally stand when laying out pieces. I felt so ashamed. Cobwebs!!!!

Thanks to those of you who gave me the names of some singing women lately. I have done "research" on iTunes and have come up with a couple of new artists that I like. My fave new group has to be The Be Good Tanyas. As time allows, I will do some more "research." I want to do more, lots more, in my singing birds series. I had decided to name the series the "Sweet Songs of Birds." The name decided, I did my research, found The Be Good Tanyas, and fell in love with the first song on their Blue Horse CD -- "The Littlest Birds (sing the sweetest songs)". Seems like some kind of a good omen. I'm still debating attempting to do a quilt a week with this series. I have five pieces laid out so far. Only 47 to go. Maybe.

The problem is, I have discovered other music. The hubby went out of town, and I spent many evening watching whatever movie jumped off of the shelf at the local Blockbuster. I came across "The Visitor", and came across African Jazz artist Fela Kuti. This new music makes me want to go into a different color direction. Sometimes I wish I weren't so easily influenced.

What do other artists do to stay on the right track? Are others so easily influenced by music, colors, etc? Is it a matter of discipline? Do I lack the discipline to do this series?

Perhaps I should stop clickety clacking away here and get up into the studio.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tired, but Happy

I don't want to get political here in my blog, but I must say I am happy with the election results. Thanks to all of you, no matter who you voted for, for getting out there and doing your job.

I began my day yesterday at 4:15 in the morning. I must have some wake up time before I shower or I can be dangerous to myself. Arrived at my polling place to work a little after six. The line was long when we opened our doors at 7:00. Our little precinct has only 732 registered voters, some of which have died or have recently moved. I'm estimating our turnout to be 80%. Not too bad. Half a mile away on Penn State's campus, 1000 students were lined up to vote at 7:00 am. STUDENTS! These are those folks who usually prefer to sleep late. I'm impressed.

I'm also impressed about the young woman who just left the hospital and came straight to the polls. I'm impressed about the young man who arrived at our precinct (where his voter registration card stated he should vote), only to find out his name was not in our poll book. Our Judge of Elections called headquarters to find out if there was another place he should vote. He was instructed to go to another polling place. After waiting three hours in line there, he was told to come back to us. No call was made on his behalf to see if he could be assisted in any way. He came back to us. He was given a provisional ballot. This young man (boy I feel old saying that sort of thing), was so calm about the entire thing. I'm impressed about the elderly folks in our neighborhood who came in with canes and walkers and supported by the arms of family members. I'm impressed at my mother registering to vote (with much assistance on her family's part) after being a non-voter for about 30 years.

Anyway, job well done people, regardless of who you voted for. If you didn't vote, what the ...?

As of 10 minutes ago, bathroom done, now ready for lotions, soaps, creams, t.p. towels, toothbrushes, unmentionables to be reinstalled. Photos soon.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Your Job as an American Citizen

We've all got those pesky jobs and responsibilities, I know. They take up oodles of time and brain power. Who's got enough time and brain power left to do that most important job as an American citizen? Well, deal with it and get out there Tuesday and vote.

There is little excuse not to. Sure, things come up. Bad things you can't plan ahead for. Heart attacks and emergency room visits. Good excuses. I hope it happens to no one out there.

Your job as an American citizen is to vote. And not just to vote for you own well being. Vote for the well being of the country as a whole.

I'm certainly not going to tell you who to vote for. I'm sure you already know. But in case you are STILL undecided, do some reading, pray, meditate, talk to friends and family (it is always helpful to talk to someone with a good amount of intelligence).

Once again, vote for the good of your country. This is not the time to be selfish. You do things for the good of yourself everyday (pedicures, yoga, cutting someone off in traffic). I would use the term "Country First", but it has been taken, and I fear lawyers would descend on me. No, I'm not going to say "spread the wealth around" either. I so look forward to not hearing either of those phrases anymore.

And while you are voting, or perhaps, waiting to vote, be very nice to those volunteer polls workers. They are so nice to do what they do, and (the vast majority of the time) they are only there to help. I should know, I'm one of them. I'll be there from 6:00 a.m. to ???? Hopefully, I will be home before the crack of dawn on Wednesday.

And don't forget to bring I.D. And patience. And a friend to talk to. Or a book. Or your neighbor who might not be able to drive.

I'll be back on Wednesday. Hopefully in a good mood. And I will finally have those photos of my new bathroom.

Also, I'm still looking for a few new female singer/musicians to add to my too small collection.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fear of Commitment

I've been right iffy about commitment lately. No, my husband has nothing to worry about. I'm just a bit afraid for my art career, though.

Maybe it is because there are so many choices and ideas that I find it hard to stick to a project. I have no problem with this when I am working on a commission. I just experience this problem when working for myself. My wheels are constantly spinning deciding whether to chase a new idea every day or engage myself in a large series.

I recently finished cutting and laying out a "one-off" piece. Purples and browns. A few scraps fell together as I was making an attempt to clean up. Perhaps I should make a smaller piece with the same colors. Perhaps I should make several. Perhaps I should do a series.

I love to look at the painting-a-day blogs. I have thought about doing something similar. Certainly not a quilt a day, but maybe a small quilt per week. Something I could fit in among other projects. Could I keep up with this? For a year? 52 little quilts? Is this too big of a bite to chew? Is it far more than just a big bite? Would it be as daunting as I think it could be? Should I just start and if I fail, I fail? What if I get bored? Could I then just change my colors? Alter the content a bit? Just stop and get to work on something else? Should I treat it as a big deal or no big thing?

Sometimes I find decision making difficult.

Two pieces have been cut and laid out. A third is in the process. Should I just put out the statement that I am going to do a quilt a week and put them on Etsy and just get started? So far, the theme is singing birds. My musical choices have been limited to singing women. I didn't mean to imply that women are birds, but, well, the implication is there anyway. Perching like a little bird. A little singing bird. And I am going to go with it.

In my CD player I have: Patsy Cline, Norah Jones, Freakwater, Astrud Gilberto, and Gillian Welch. I'm looking for a few new musical ideas. Earthy women, not ethereal women. Talented women with beautiful voices whom you could imagine singing a lullaby to a child. My collection is quite limited. I'm looking for a few ideas. Please send me links or any other info. about your favorite female singers and musicians.

The more help I get, the longer this series may be.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm It?!?

Finally, I have been tagged. My first time. I feel so inexperienced. Not like the other girls. So, Cathy Kleeman is the first to do it. I am selective (otherwise known as a bit lazy), and do not have a long list of bloggers that I can tag. It seems that the bloggers that I read have all been tagged lately. I will not tag anyone at this point in my fairly short blogging career. I do need to add to my list of bloggers, so the next time this happens, I will be good and ready. Some research of other bloggers needs to be done on my part. I will get around to it. It is a bit hectic right now with my daughter out of school for conferences and my husband in China for a week.

Anyway, I feel quite flattered that Cathy Kleeman would contact me. Her work is stunning.

So while I am slacking on the tagging part, I do ask that anyone who wishes to comment would tell me at least one thing about yourself. I would love to hear something from those readers who have not commented before (if, indeed, there are any).

Six random things about me:

1. I buy lots of children’s books – for myself. My most recent purchase, as of yesterday is Scaredy Squirrel.

2. I can’t cook. I really can’t. I’ve even had a difficult time making frozen corn. I have mastered boiling water.

3. I like to fondle everything in the school supplies aisle at Target. Clean notebooks, empty folders, and fresh pencils excite me.

4. I sniff books before I buy them. If it smells bad, I won’t buy it.

5. Halloween is my favorite holiday. I like a bit of paganism. I also will steal my daughter’s Tootsie Rolls. Yum. This year my daughter is going to be a tiger. For the first time she will not be a Princess. I will go dressed as a middle-aged mother.

6. My favorite food is lamb. I could have been a vegetarian had I never tasted it. And yes, I do feel guilty when I eat it.

So, bloggers and lurkers, tell me a bit about yourself.

I promise to do better next time.
I promise to post photos soon (my camera is in China with my hubby).
I promise to talk about making art one of these days.

And now it is time to turn off the children's programming and act like a mother. I think we are finally going to do a horse painting kit my daughter got for her birthday (back in February).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Record Lowe's

I can pretty much tolerate shopping. Sometimes I even enjoy it. I like those home decorating shops -- Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, etc. And when I am feeling very flush, I enjoy cruising for sweaters. But, otherwise, shopping is often an irritant. It is NEVER more irritating than when I have to enter a Lowe's. I assume there are Lowe's stores across the country, but if I need to explain -- BIG box hardware store. I cannot really call Lowe's a store. Nothing the size of the denounced planet Pluto could be called a store. Certainly not a "Shoppe."

Four out of the four last business days I have been to Lowe's. Heaven help me.

Last Wednesday, I went in for a couple extra copies of my bathroom paint sample to give to the contractors. I also decided to pick up some Velcro while I was there. Kind of like finding a needle in a haystack. I happened to ask a clerk while I was looking in aisle 39. Eighteen aisles later, with a dramatic flourish, he revealed the Velcro display. Mission accomplished? Not yet. We can no longer have PEOPLE manning the checkout stands. No, we gotta do it ourselves. All the clerks are needed to guide people among the 112 aisles and dramatically display their exploring skills when the needed product is located. I approached the do-it-yourself checkout with my usual trepidation. I had only one item to pay for, so no bag was necessary. However, I had the audacity to touch the proferred bag. The machine demanded I stand there until a clerk came to assist. No clerk came. I went to the next do-it-yourself checkout. This time I successfully pressed the button that stated no bag was necessary. My purchase totaled $7.30. I feed in a 20 dollar bill. What do you think came out for change. Seventy cents. The machine made a hideous noise, then the screen claimed that it had just returned 12 dollars to me. It did not. A clerk, seeing my facial color had changed, came to my rescue. She did not rescue my 12 dollars. Another clerk was summoned. Eight minutes later, my money was returned and I left the store, vowing to never again return.

It was Thursday morning when my sewing machine started making funny noises and chewing up thread. I had broken another needle, which I promptly replaced, and went on sewing. Didn't work very well. I cleaned the bobbin race, I rethreaded, I did a number of other things, to no avail. I did it all again. Removing the plate over the bobbin for the 6th time, I discovered that the last broken needle had caused a teeny bit of metal to stick out, giving the bobbin thread a place to catch. Well, I could fix this simply. I would look for a narrow metal file to remove this bit of metal. No file on the tool table. Would a fingernail file work? Don't have any. Should I go to the drugstore to get a nail file, only to return home and find out it wouldn't work? Best just to go on to Lowe's and get a metal file. After being guided throughout the store, files were located. A pack of five cost $17. Everybody needs a pack of oddly-shaped metals files, don't they? Well, I just might, so I bought 'em at a human-operated checkout. Got home too late in the afternoon to actually have time to use 'em.

On Friday morning, my contractor asked if the paint color had been selected. I proudly said yes, and held forth the paint chip. He did not take it from me. He stated that it would cost much more for him to take the time to go to Lowe's. One of those time and materials jobs. Well, I would just have to go to Lowe's and buy the paint myself. But what about that metal plate sewing machine issue. I would just take the plate with me, stop at the grocery store (had to do that anyway, lots of studio time being completed here, right), get a nail file, try it out in the car. Well, the simple nail file worked, so I got to return the $17 files. Paint purchased through a human-operated checkout.

On Monday, my contractor says he will be ready for the trim paint on Tuesday. I know we've got that. The hubby told me so. Spent all morning in my dusty, crusty, basement pulling out old paint cans, only to find out we've got no trim paint. Damn. After a few curses, I grab my keys and head out to Lowe's. Can't get there. Car won't start. Hey, there's another car in my garage. Out to Lowe's. Ask for white trim paint. Do I want the white or the ultra-white? I whimpered that I wasn't prepared to make that decision. The friendly clerk helped me and I paid my money to a human and staggered out to the car.

Thanks for putting up with this information. I know it wasn't rewarding for you. It wasn't rewarding for me. I am now going to go have a look at my "white" paint. I didn't go for ultra-white. Will I regret it? Such is life. I do wish I had purchased those nifty hooks I saw in Lowe's last Wednesday. I also have yet to pick out towel bars, too. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let's Make a Deal

Bargains, Super Savings, Deals, Discounts -- do these belong in the art world? According to a group of friends, they do.

I have only participated in one art show, back in 2001. A lot of hard work and preparation were involved, and I'm talking just about the show itself, not about the job of creating the art. I have yet to do another show. I am thinking about it, though.

I do attend art shows and fairs. I love them. They are very entertaining and a great place to buy original art. The vast majority of artwork in my home has come from these shows. Most have come from our local show - the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. This is a rather upscale show consisting of approximately 325 artists. If you can't find something at this festival, there is most definitely something wrong with you.

I don't ever recall asking for a bargain. I've never asked the artist, "Hey, is this your best price". If I want it, and can afford it, I pay the artist and walk away happy. Many artists do offer a small discount if more than one item is purchased. Most will post this information in their booth.

I have been asked for bargains. Sometimes I have lowered my prices. I had an Ebay purchaser buy 7 items once. I gave a very small discount and free shipping. This buyer has purchased a few other items over the past couple of years. Recently, the buyer wanted one of my older pieces and requested a 20% discount. Since it was an older piece and since she has purchased 10 other pieces, I happily granted her request. I once did grant a requested discount on a commission. Four large pieces were required and a small discount (10%) was granted. That was a mistake on my part. A commission requires a great deal of extra time, supplies, and manual labor. I should have requested more money from them. Live and learn.

Recently, I was at a gathering with a few friends and we discussed craft shows. Some of these friends had been to our local show and purchased several items. Everyone in the room, except me, thought that a 10% discount should be granted no matter what. An even greater discount should be expected when several items are purchased. I politely disagreed, but my voice could not be heard over the dissent. Am I wrong?

Why should we expect artists to give an upfront discount? We don't go into Target and demand discounts. We don't haggle making online Gap purchases. Why should we do this to artists? I know this kind of bargaining exists at flea markets and yard sales, but isn't it insulting to equate an artist's work with a pile of used clothing, broken furniture, and questionable appliances? Would a person interested in buying a piece of art walk away when learning they can't get a discount?

My undisclosed (mental) policy is:

I give a shipping discount for purchasing more than one item through my Website, Ebay, or Etsy.

I will give repeat customers discounts, although not every time.

I will no longer give discounts on commissioned work.

If I were to do an art show, I would give a small discount on multiple purchases, perhaps 5%.

If someone demands a discount for a single piece of work, I will call them the pig they are and turn my back. Ha Ha. This is where I need some assistance.

Has anyone out there participated in an art show? What do you do if a discount is requested?

Monday, October 6, 2008

I, Anchovy

After catching up on my art-related reading as a result of not being able to create in my studio, I have come to a realization. I have read about approaching galleries in SAQA Journal, I have studied the biographies of those profiled in American Craft, and I understand now what I am.

I am an Anchovy. A fish among fish. A really small fish.

And I think I am o.k. with that. I don't think there is any other choice. I must accept that I am a little fish. Then with lots of work, perhaps I can become a bigger fish. Maybe a Bass or a Trout. I do not want to be a Flounder.

In an article in the Fall 2008 SAQA Journal, three gallery owners were interviewed about artist/gallery relationships. The owners made it quite clear that this relationship excluded selling in any other venues, except perhaps juried shows, other than galleries. I'm not saying that I disagree with this. For those well into their art careers, this is definitely the way to go. I know this is not the way for me to go at this point.

I have spent a great deal of time researching galleries for the past several years. I have acquired a bit of mistrust of galleries, as many have not returned portfolios even when I have included postage-paid return envelopes. These are galleries at which I felt my artwork would fit in. Smaller galleries. Maybe they were not as professional as they should have been. Maybe I was not as professional as I should have been. While I will continue to do research on galleries, it will be on a smaller scale and, for now, for information gathering only (and enjoyment of couse).

I have had a good deal of luck in the past few years selling on Ebay. My website has brought me several commissions, and I am going to get more involved in selling on Etsy. These are things that gallery owners do not want their artists to do. It is working for me now, and I will do my best to have it work even better for me. This will be where I do my swimming for the time being.

I am going to continue working on smaller pieces and working in small series. I am going to enjoy creating and swimming in my little pool. Hopefully, when the pool has become too small, I will be able to realize this and find deeper waters.

In the meantime, I will visit as many galleries as possible and enjoy looking at the beautiful work of the big fish.

Besides, an Anchovy is a small fish with a lot of flavor.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New Wreckage



Ah, the wonderful world of renovation. I suppose, from a great distance, this room doesn't look so bad. Yes, I am frequently thankful that I have indoor plumbing. I enjoyed explaining to my daughter that people used to have to go into a little building in the backyard and take care of business. And at night, to avoid the cold and wild animals, you could pull out your bed pan and take care of business. She is not impressed with the old days.

One day, we will look at these photos and talk of our old days. We'll say, "Hey, remember when we had to go downstairs in the cold and use the shower so the upstairs shower wouldn't rain down into the office. Remember when we had to lovely ant traps stuck to everything. Remember when we couldn't use the exhaust fan because those birds lived in it. Remember when chunks of rotten wood would fall off of the wall near the tub."

So some fellows came yesterday and starting ripping our personal world apart. I never realized how important my bathroom, nasty as it was, was to my daily life.

So far, only a couple of surprises have been found. Some "lovely" tiles appeared behind the shower surround. An extra half day will be spend chiseling them off. We were discussing what was remaining behind to the burly men who were removing items. Only the toilet and radiator (after cleaning and painting) are returning. One man mentioned that some items could be saved. I overheard the head guy saying, "No way, its all sh*t." How true.

The countdown begins with a two week time frame. The plumber, who had been here for 20 minutes informed us that many of the plumbing items had not been delivered. We called the bathroom place only to leave a message. I have a sinking feeling that these things have not been ordered. The plumber had nothing left to do here, so now he is gone. Good heavens. That could definitely add to the time frame. Meanwhile, my new tub sits out on the front lawn. I do hope it gets to move inside before the weekend. The local college students will no doubt use it as some sort of receptacle late at night.

Anyway, I am thankful to have another toilet in the house.

I am looking forward to having a shower that works, a tub that drains (not just leaks), a faucet that does not shoot water into my eyes, a fan that has no critters in it, no mold, a shower door that opens and closes, a window that opens and stays open, a floor without rust stains, a ceiling without a hole, a house not filled with burly men, etc.

I somehow find it difficult to be creative today. I will stay close to the computer. Check out Etsy, keep up with emails, create some new business cards, and other computer things I normally avoid.

New photos soon!

Monday, September 22, 2008

An Old Idea

The Mid-Life Crisis series is floating around somewhere.  One piece is being auctioned on Ebay, another is for sale on Etsy.  I was going to link to the series which should be on my Website, but it seems that Webmaster Hubby has not put them on the Website yet.

I finished cutting out the bee series, and covered them up until I got Mid-Life Crisis completed.  Somehow, I managed to forget that they were ready to sew.  Instead, I walked by idea board and something caught my eye.  I am surprised it did not catch my eye before now.  The little scrap of paper cut from a magazine has only been there the entire time we have lived in this house.  It may have moved here from our last house.  An idea that has taken at least 11 years to find its way into my head.

Yes, this does look quite a lot like my recent work.  However, the scrap on my wall contains most of the colors I have been working with, but also a fascinating dark robin's egg blue.  While I did not have this blue in my fabric stash (pretty astonishing), I was able to put a transparent wash of green over a light blue fabric.  Two layers of paint gave me the color I wanted.

Now I will go and sew these pieces together.  Then I will determine how to attach those floating squares.  I decided to save all quilting and embellishment ideas until needed.   This is all about color first.  I will figure out a meaning later.

Say readers, where are all of my tips on selling on Etsy?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hesitant Turtle

So, I decided to stick my head out of my shell and see what is going on.

I have decided to start small.  Yes, there are plenty of big ideas in my head, but I'm going to suppress them for a while.

I decided to learn a bit more about Etsy.  How to get more people to my site.  How to join teams, how to get onto showcase pages.  I thought my superior intellect (Ha) could grasp these things.  

What are avatars, widget platforms, virtual labs, team grants?  What the . . . 

This situation is helping me to more understand my first-grade daughter.  How it must feel to be learning to read.  Grasping two or three words in a sentence and missing the meaning entirely.

The more I learn, the less I seem to know.

If anyone has any pointers for an Etsy illiterate, I sure would appreciate it if you would pass on some of your knowledge.

Monday, September 15, 2008

N/M

No Message.

I wanted to write about a lot of things.  All of them involved whining.  I do not have the right to whine.  Cancer, oppression,  war, child labor, etc.

I can't complain.

I shall enjoy today instead.  Somewhat volatile weather.  Warm, sunny, cloudy, windy, cool.  Sometimes all at once. 

Tomorrow I shall write of happy things.

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hocus Focus

Here is one of my new pieces from the "Mid-Life Crisis" series.  Perhaps another detail or two to add.  Then I must sew on the dreaded hanging sleeves.  The most hated part of the job.  I often put it off until I sell a piece or have to hang my pieces in a show.  Then I feel pressured.  But who wants to sew (by hand) hanging sleeves? 

I am somewhat proud of myself in doing this series.  I set a small goal of completing 4 pieces.  Then when the tops were completed, I went straight into the quilting process.  That often is put off for weeks or months, as I want to begin designing something new immediately.  If I can do the hangers next, it will be an amazing feat for me to complete a series before moving on.  Think I can do it?

I must focus.

I find that a hard thing to do.  Since I am able to get back into the studio again, I am like a kid in a candy store.  I want to jump from oranges to reds to blues to yellows to browns to blacks.  I want to get into galleries.  I want to enter shows.  I want a quilt to show up in Lark Books upcoming 500 quilts book.  I want a greater Ebay presence.  I want a greater Etsy presence.  I want more marketing power.  I want to sell from my website.   I want to sell from my home.  I want to create a newsletter (gotta get some news first), I want to create postcards and brochures.  I want to create a marketing package to send to local businesses (health care, salons, etc).  I want to get commissions.  I want to design commercial fabrics.   I want to be a better blogger.  I want to create large, intricate pieces to get into  juried shows.  I want to design smaller pieces that would sell like hotcakes in local stores.  I want to make more money.  I want to donate more pieces to charities.

Jeez.

Like a butterfly, I would just like to light on a flower for a few minutes and soak up some sunlight before I take off again.

I need to focus.  I need to find something I want to focus on.  Where is the need greatest?  Do I look at the big picture?  Is the big picture too big (like an IMAX screen)?  Do I select some related details and let that lead me somewhere?

Does anyone out there feel this way, also?  Did anyone out there feel the same way, but then found their path?

Does anyone know where I can order a set of blinders?  Should I make them myself?  Could that be a new business idea?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mini Mess

Thanks fellow bloggers for your input on how you handle your own messes.  

My mess is a bit smaller now.  I cleaned up a few projects that I knew were not going to be completed immediately (if ever).  It really pains me to do that.  I feel that I have failed.  I completed five pieces in a series of brown and blue squares.  I had about five more to be pieced together.  I stacked up the squares and put them away in a drawer.  I do feel better without those laid out on boards on the floor. 

I discovered some pillows and blankets stacked up after we had guests early this summer who slept in our attic.  I still have to put those away.

Several other pieces (the bee series) remain laid out and stacked up on foam board.  I really want to complete them, but I know I have to finish up the "Mid-Life Crisis" series.  I find it very hard to complete any piece.   I love the stamping of the fabric, the cutting of squares and the placement of colors together.  I'm just not much on the quilting part.  The "work" part.  I need to put on some aggressive music and get it done.

I also have drawers of unwanted fabrics.  I have flat file drawers full of 2" squares.  Thousands of them.  I used to have a thing for watercolor quilts.  I have no idea what to do with these squares.  I probably have 20 drawers full of these squares.  Then there are the starched pieces!  I used to do mixed fabric and paper collages (will show photos if requested).  These collages involved the starching of several square acres of fabrics, then cutting out flowers, vines, etc.  So I have drawer after drawer of stiff little vines, veggies, fruits already cut and ready to use.  But I know I will never use them again.  Should I try to relieve myself of these through Ebay?  Will anybody buy them?  I have so many supplies now that do not have homes because of lack of space.  Get rid of the squares and bits, and I will have plenty of space.

So, off I go to do some sewing.  After I get that load of laundry out of the wash.  And take care of those important sticky note messages that are covering my back door.  And I think there is a hairball that needs my attention.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fight or Flight?

As usual, I was going to post a photo, but did not.  I actually took the photo, but it was so depressing that I deleted it and opened the laptop to post.

The photo was of the staircase to my attic studio.  I was approaching it for the first time in two and a half weeks.  I was so excited to go up and get to work.  I opened the door, walked up a couple of steps, became depressed, walked up a couple more steps and then had to turn tail and flee.

I noticed how terrible my space looked.  How cluttered and jumbled and downright depressing.  Feng Shui experts would have gagged and fainted.  The entry is filled with a pile of empty cardboard boxes from recent mail order purchases.  Baskets of paints wait at the ready to go outside for fabric painting in the sun.  Old magazines clutter the shelving.  Receipts are piled at the top of the stairs, ready to be filed.  I hope none are from the last tax year.  Piles of dyed fabric wait to be heat set (some from last year).  Another pile has been heat set but needs to be washed.  Drawers hang open.  Shavings from stamp carvings cover the floor.

I CAN'T WORK IN THAT MESS.

Today is a lovely day -- warm and sunny.  I will do the last of the fabric dyeing today and add to the pile that needs to be processed.  While I wait for the fabrics to dry, I will break down boxes for recycling, vacuum up those shavings and organize stuff.  I can't believe I let it go so far out of hand.

I really want to get to work on some new things, but I know I can't do that just yet.  I want to behave like a child and just go play.  I know I must do the responsible thing and organize.  Sigh.  I really wanted to have a new masterpiece completed within the first hour of my daughter going back to school.

How often do others clean and organize their studios?  Every month?  Every week?  Every day?  Any advice?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hey, Little Girl, Want a Play Date

Once again, no photo of any new work.  There is none.  My only art related work in the past week (Friday afternoon), was to heat set all of my new painted fabrics with an iron.  Absolutely mind numbing.  The rest of my time has been spent searching the internet for fall clothing (little to be found in stores in these parts) and entertaining children.  We have had lots of playdates.  I really do find that I use that opening line a great deal.  Hey, little girl . . . 

My daughter has a friend coming over for the day today.  Together, they might quite a destructive team.  No little tea parties for them.  Yes, I am enjoying the time off,  yet I've heard the word "why" just a bit too frequently these past few days.  Next Tuesday is the first day of school.  I will be glad on Tuesday.  And probably just a bit sad on Wednesday.  

Well, gotta go and hide all of the sharp and breakable objects.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A little bitty rant

I can safely assume that my readers can function on their own without reading a daily post from me.  Good thing.  Nothing art related going on here.  The countdown to school has begun.  Summer camps are over.  This week and next week, I am the entertainment committee.  The T.V. has a small role in this, but its pretty much me.  I haven't seen my studio in a week.  Well actually, the cat got trapped in their the other day & I had to do a search for "accidents", but other than that, the door has been closed.

We are doing the back to school thing.  We all need new fall clothes.  Now!  Wednesday and Thursday mornings the temperature was in the 40s!  Brrrrrrr.  We need sweaters and jackets now.  Lately my time has been spent shopping.  Sure, that sounds like fun, but I HATE it.  Why is it that the stores are still filled with summer clothing?  Sure, down south it is still summer, but above the Mason-Dixon line we are preparing for the first snow.  I always assume the stores will have their fall merchandise arrive six months after their spring merchandise shows up.  I went to target on January 2nd this year and do you know what I saw?  Shorts and bathing suits.  Seven months later, it is still shorts and bathing suits.  Maybe it is just a personal problem.  I detest wearing shorts and bathing suits.

Anyway, unless I'm going to take up knitting (hmmmmm), it is all out of my control.  I just have to wait.  I will entertain my daughter (yes, she can do it herself -- some).  But there just aint that much to do in these parts.  The highlight of our day yesterday was a visit to Moe and Joe.  They're goats.  We fed them weeds.

I'll post some more non-art-related rants, then maybe, in a week or two, or three, I'll have something to show you.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Killer Bee


Killer Bee, that's me.  It wasn't until about 25 minutes ago when I decided to post this.  I've been so angry at this dang computer that I have actually cried.  All I wanted to do was show my readers what I have been working on.  I feel as if I have been drafting a treaty with a dozen warring nations.

So these new things are about bees.  Honeybees in particular.  I recently read yet another article about the recent huge decline of the honeybee population.  The cause(es) are not known for certain, but I place my bets on the vast amount of pesticides that are spread all over the world, whether we need them or not.  I'll have to do some more research on this.  Meanwhile, I'll keep on dyeing, stamping, cutting, etc.

A recent commenter wants to know of my process for dyeing fabrics.  To be exact, what I do would not be considered dyeing.  Dyeing requires gloves, masks and other safety gear.  I do not like working with such things.  I guess my methods would be considered painting.  Yet when I think of painting on fabric, I think of such artists as Faith Ringgold.  Since I am annoyed today and am behind in what I want to do, I will gather my information and tell of my processes in the days to come.

Will I ever make peace with this darn computer?!?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Recently Dyed

I told myself that when  I was ready to dye fabric, I would order my supplies and get to work.  That was back in March, well before warm weather set in.  It has been a pleasant spring and summer here in central PA.  Perfect for dyeing fabric.  I did not order supplies.  Not until last week.  Then I ordered.  And waited.  And waited.  Sunny day after sunny day passed.  Then my supplies came late on Wednesday.  

Yesterday started out rainy and cold.   At noon, the sun came out and I ran outside to do what I could.  Two hours of sun!  Not much time, but a few small pieces were done.  The orange one almost didn't make it.  As soon as it was laid out to dry,  the clouds and rain came.  I ran it inside, then went to walk the dog (in the rain) and get my daughter from camp.  AT 4:00, the sun came out briefly, so my fabric went back out in the sun briefly.  Then came in, then went back out to warm up and dry. 

Today is supposed to be rainy and cool.  It is not & I'm not prepared to dye.  If I prepare myself, then the clouds will come.  I do feel the need to hurry and get this done.  My daughter has one more week of camp, then will be at home with me until school starts in September.  This is not something I choose to do with her.  I've tried it.  More than once.  Not going to do it again for a couple of years.  Then of course, fall comes a bit early here.  The leaves will fall (I usually use those to pattern my fabrics before they fall and dry out), the air will become chilly, and the needles will fall off of the evergreens that surround my teeny property.  I've had many a fabric ruined by a covering of bitty needles.

I've finished four tops in my new "Mid-Life Crisis" series.  I am just waiting on fabric for the backs of the pieces.  I never seem to have the right thing on hand, and I'm pretty much in a fabric wasteland & have to mail order most things.  So I wait.  I will plan better next year.  Really.  I know I said that last year, but this time I mean it.  Perhaps I will dye some fabric then.  Wait, what's that.  A cloud.  Maybe I should really go and read that book on art marketing.  I prefer the osmosis method, even though it doesn't work all that well.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mid-Life Crisis?!?

As many of you have read, I have recently turned 45.  I have neglected to change my age on the sidebar.  Perhaps I will update that every five years.  I'm realizing that life is too short.  I have decided to work with the colors that make me the happiest and give me the most energy.  I do have those black and brown periods, but I am not in one of those periods now.  I am working on a new series, most possibly entitled "Mid-Life Crisis".  It will be quite similar to my "Spice Route" series.  I will be using the same square structure and sizes.  The pieces will go from lighter to darker.  Such as life does, I guess.  Oooh, that was way toooooo grim.  Perhaps my life is getting brighter and more colorful.  Yeah, that's it.

For some reason, these colors do not photograph very well.  My hubby suggests that I work in colors that do photograph well.  But, that is not the mood I'm in now.  Perhaps working with an updated PhotoShop will make things all better.  We shall see.

To my most recent commenter Sue:  Yes, all can be found at Target.  The process is . . . raid Target.  Return home.  Kick family out.  Go into zen mode or some type of self-induced trance and, well, you're done.  It's beautiful!  Buy it and get "wiggy" with it.  Also, keep blogging.  Update that profile of yours.

Friday, August 1, 2008

How Chic

I've recently had a book binge. Perhaps to avoid working or learning how to use this blasted laptop, I have been reading "helpful" books. The most recent conquest is Colin Cowie Chic.

I must admit, this book is a bit beyond me. I do not have to tip the pool boy when I travel, nor do I need to know how to serve Port at my next soiree. However, it did inspire me to organize and improve my surroundings.

After seeing photos of the insides of his kitchen cabinets and drawers, I rushed to Target to purchase some drawer organizers. I love the looks of organized storage -- everything in its own little compartment. Somewhat reminiscent of my quilts. Anyway, within a couple of hours of arriving home, this photo is the result. I was in such a hurry, I neglected to take a "before" photo. Here is the "before" photo of my next project. Tune in later to see the results. I have sent my family off to spend the weekend with my in-laws. Yes, I will miss them (including he in-laws), but just imagine what I can clean up in the next 48 hours. Yes, well, and I do have to do a few things in the studio, too.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pictures at 11:00

By that, I mean August 11. I could post a photo, but it would be a heck of a lot of work for minimal outcome. Things are a bit sluggish around these parts. One of the sluggish things is the keyboard on this darn laptop. I can't type a two-letter word without making a mistake. I could before. I thing I preferred life BL (before laptop). Back in the time PC.

I feel very time challenged lately. The hubby is on a business trip, therefore, I get far less time to do the work I want to do. I still have to take the time to keep up with that pesky laundry and find methods of ingesting nutrition. As I type, there is laundry moldering in the washing machine. I am using the word I a heck of a lot here. I feel like writing about myself and I is a short word to type.

So anyway, photos soon. Unless someone wants to see a photo of moldy laundry. Or dust bunnies? How about a dirty bathroom?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Learning Curve

Picture a photo here.  I had planned on there being a photo or diagram.  Of a circle.  Or a very tight spiral.  That is my idea of a learning curve.  You see, we are switching to a Mac laptop.  I am lost.  I do not feel like modern man (or woman) anymore.  I feel as if I have gone back to the stone age.  After I successfully make this conversion, I am going to work on making fire.  After that, a round thing that I think will make moving heavy things much easier.

I feel like such an ape.  Does anyone want to take a guess on how long it has taken me just to type this.  This skinny little beast is not a computer, it is an alien.  And it is laughing at me.

It is a good thing that I do not have huge amounts of beautiful new work to show you.  I had planned on posting a photo or two of artwork that my daughter made at art camp.  Sorry.  That will have to wait.

I'll see you again on the other side.  In another dimension.

If I don't do much posting or my comments to my favorite blogs seems short and terse, this darn MacBook is the reason.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Again with the Orange!!!



Well, there's nothing like working in an attic on a 90 degree day to get you to want to work with orange. No cool colors for me right now. I'm hot and my work needs to reflect that.

And to top it off, I went into Etsy 10 minutes ago to leave feedback for a customer (yay, my second Etsy sale), and on the home page was a beautiful, orange (of course) felted dahlia brooch. Well, I had to have it. Nothing like orange wool felt on a 90 degree day. I'll have to post a photo of that when I receive it.

This afternoon, I am going to my daughter's art camp grand exhibit. I'm looking forward to seeing what colors young children like to work with. I'm guessing that they do not discriminate. Hopefully, I can share photos of the exhibit. I do have to remember to take my camera.

What colors do you like to work with when its hot? Are there any
colors that you would refuse to work with? Several years ago, I came close to doing a commission with salmon and teal. The client never got back to me. I was happy about that. Don't think I could have done it.



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Go Google Yourself

I do it frequently. I like to know if anyone is talking about me. On a rare occasion, someone is.

I found a site that listed my city of residence. It also listed my previous cities of residence. I guess any stalkers from my past can just show up on my doorstep.

My comments on others' blogs pop up. I can also be found on several advertising sites. Why, I am not sure. Possibly a side effect of Google Ads.

I did find a piece on Etsy being recommended by a fellow Etsy artist. Thank you, whoever you are.

A recent discovery was of art educators involved with the Getty museum discussing my work. It was suggested that my art be discussed in a class. Did they print out my work? Were art students required to do work based on mine? Hmmmm. I feel just a tad violated.

I also appeared on someone's Flickr site. I am so not up on such things. Should I do Flickr?

But my favorite thing so far about Googling myself was this comment from a Flickr viewer. . . "Beatifully done. It does not look like a quilt at all." Is that good?!? Is that bad?!? What the heck is wrong with looking like a quilt?

Go on. Google yourself.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Loot, Booty, Treasure


Here's (most of) my haul from the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts (see post below). I'm beat. Four days of walking to and from, eating festival food, toting treasures. It was actually a great vacation and I didn't have to leave town. The vacation came to me.

Another plus, it is my birthday today & some of those items shown above are gifts to me.

We saw some great bands -- the most entertaining was Luminescent Orchestrii, a contemporary gypsy group. The leader of the band is a circus composer. What more can I say?

The bulk of my purchases (not all shown in photo) was from ceramist Adam Spector. Also joining my newfound love of ceramics is Creative Works Pottery and Tile. I have a fridge covered in their awesome magnets. I have also purchased several necklaces, picture frames, and soon a custom-made mirror. While no purchases were made from Ali Mirsky Mosaics (my pockets were not deep enough), she is on my list for a future purchase. Unfortunately her web site does not do justice to her stunning pieces, but have a peek anyway.

But those 300+ artists have packed up and scattered and there is nothing else to do but continue aging and get back up in my own studio. Perhaps, If I can stand the heat and the pressure of talking to folks for four days straight, I may be out there myself next year.

p.s. Buy Handmade!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Obviously, it is not Christmas.

It is time for the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.

What? You've never heard of it? I guess most folks out there don't have much knowledge of what goes on in Central Pennsylvania (not much, usually). However, it is probably the best art festival I have ever been to. Sure, I'm not the most well-traveled person, but those who come to this festival would probably agree. (If you know of another great festival, please let me know.)

Four days. Over 300 artists. All high quality. No crocheted doiles here (not that there's anything wrong with that). Over 50 bands.

The festival sprawls over part of the Penn State campus, through downtown and several blocks into a residential area. I will be leaving my house in 20 minutes for a ten minute walk to the beginning of the festival. I will return home to eat a few meals, shower and sleep. Otherwise, for the next four days, I will be immersed in the festival.

Aside from my own art and framed family photos, about 75% of the artwork in my home, including pottery and sculpture, has come from this festival.

I will let you know of the exceptional art that I find, whether I buy it or not.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Urban Withdrawal


I just returned from a brief trip to San Francisco. After spending a day driving to Monterey and environs and another day visiting my husband’s relatives, that left one day and an additional dinner in San Francisco itself. I had to wrench myself away and climb onto the plane to leave. I have only been to California once before and then had a 1-hour whirlwind drive through San Francisco, so I wasn’t sure I would even like the city. Now, I want to scrounge up some more funds and visit again.

For those who do not know, I live in central Pennsylvania. You know the place. It’s where those who feel the effects of a declining economy cling to guns and religion. There is a dramatic contrast between my place and the place I just left. Yes, State College has its lively moments. The students of Penn State give the town that youthful, edgy feel. There is an art museum, one or two “upscale” restaurants. We even have boutiques (geared to the young and svelte). Travel a quarter mile from the town and there is “big box” country, McDonald’sTargetBestBuy. Travel a few more feet and you are in the country. Rusty Chevy country. Mullet country. Toppled trailer country. Cows, pigs, shirtless dudes cleaning their guns country.

Right now, I’d give money to see a pigeon and hear a car horn!

I know I will return to “normal” in another couple of days. I will feel less of a need for a city fix. But at the back of my mind, I will see bridges and skyscrapers, café tables and taxis. I will settle in. Birds will be fed. Quiet walks will be taken with the dog. I will revel in my nearby Target.

O.K. things we did:

Fisherman’s wharf – if kids are happy, then parents are happy. What else can I say? Had a good lunch at Scoma’s.

Cable Car – would have been better if shopping at the other end had been in the plan. Got off & then paid & waited in long line to get on again.

Excellent things we did:

Dinner at Luella - 1896 Hyde Street

Walking the streets and alleyways.

Trek to Coit Tower. Love those steps with all the beautiful gardens. A hike in the country does not usually appeal to me. A hike in the city is far superior.

Dinner at Street Restaurant – 2141Polk Street.


So my goal is to go again & do it better. Any suggestions?