Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh, Dear! It's Deer Day!

Several weeks ago, I was invited to join several women for a birthday lunch for a friend. When told that it was on Monday, November 30, I just couldn't imagine any other commitments for that day. Thanksgiving would be over and I saw nothing on the calendar that could possibly conflict with the lunch.

I'm sure there are those out there that think that just because I work from inside my home that I just eat bonbons and watch my stories all day long. And that I probably hang out, at least weekly, lunching with other women who do "nothing" either. Aside from the bonbons, they would be wrong. I can't actually recall joining other women for lunch in the past 10 years. Being an artist can be quite lonely.

So I was quite excited to be going out.

The other day, I happened to look at my daughter's school calendar. I discovered that Thanksgiving break was expanded to cover today. Ain't Thanksgiving, though. I live next to a major University. They're in school today. My nieces both went back to college today. But for your average central Pennsylvanian, it's a holiday.

It's DEER DAY. Opening day for deer hunting season. I wonder if there are greeting cards for this special day. So, schools are closed, trash pickup is postponed, recycling is delayed. Just so folks can crank up their testosterone, grab their guns, and head for the woods. Nothing like a holiday so hunters can sit in the rain (in camo AND bright orange!?!) and wait for the opportunity to shoot a deer between the eyes.

So, I'm at home with the kid. And missing out on my ladies' lunch so those hunters can go and shoot their best buddies in the head, or foot, or back. No estrogen outing for me today. And some Clem will end up with a toe tag because he rustled in the bushes.

I'm calling this Black Monday.

Get going buddies. Them deer need shot.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I have enjoyed a couple days of domesticity. I did go into the studio today to make a few paper beads and some Christmas gift tags.

Upon my return from a family Thanksgiving dinner, I will be adding some small pieces to my Etsy shop and gearing up for Christmas.

Talk to (at) you soon!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Saw a Wreath Today, Oh boy . . .

Thanksgiving House III, 15 x 10"

I saw the first sign of Christmas today. I do not count the stores full of merchandise and the canned X-mas tunes. I saw a wreath today on someone's front door. Guess that opens the door to the Christmas season.

As I may have mentioned before, I am doing my best to give handmade gifts this year. Not necessarily made by my hand, but by other artists out there who may appreciate the income this season. I understand that. I could use some folding money myself.

My blogging friend, Tracy Helgeson, has set up The Fine Art Department, a blog featuring smaller, less expensive artwork, perfect for gift giving. There are links to take you to each artist's individual blog, shop, or website for additional info. and purchasing information. I am proud to be chosen to be among these fantastic artists. I do prefer to use PayPal for payments, but if I know you through my blog, facebook, or life in general, you may use other types of payments.

My artwork, including the new piece above, is available through my Etsy shop and my website.

This piece might just be my last creation for the year. I have no new pieces in the works, which is rare. I think I'm going to make some gift cards, bake, decorate, shop, wrap, clean (ha ha), and other domestic things. This idea will probably quickly go down the drain. I will at least attempt this until after Thanksgiving. If I just can't stand it, I've got lots of other unfinished pieces that are waiting for their day in the sun. Or I can make some more paper beads. Or paper houses. Yeah, not sure if the domesticity idea is going to hold up. But in case it does, I've still got loads of items that have yet to be loaded onto Etsy. Lots of "new to you" items still to show up here and on Etsy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Thanks to all of you who left those wonderful comments on my last post. A few months ago I was very down on blogging and often didn't want to make the effort to post anything. I'm over that now. I especially appreciate my sister for chiming in. I am going to have Thanksgiving dinner at her house in a few daya and am very much looking forward to seeing my family gathered around the table.
Storytellers I, 31 x 9"

Since I have become an adult, we've lost some people that used to gather around that table. I recall one year, I was absent. I had just moved to Northern Virginia with my husband to be and (for some incredibly misguided reason) we decided to have our own Thanksgiving dinner. We both had new jobs and didn't think we could take the time away. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Your thinking . . . what the hell were we thinking!!! For the first time in a long time (ever?) both sets of grandparents gathered at my sister's house, along with the rest of the gang. Minus me and hubby. By the following year, my father's mother had died, my mother's father had died, and my mother's mother was not able to get around well at all. I still kick myself. I pretty much disdain turkey and I thought then why go to all of this trouble of packing, traveling, and setting up cat sitting just to eat a darn meal.

I don't think that way anymore. I haven't thought that way since that selfish Thanks"giving" of 1997.
Storytellers II, 31 x 9"

We've since lost others. My sister's lifelong best friend and her family began to join us. Ginny and Louis always had some great stories to tell us. The dining table extended into the living room and shook with our laughter. Ginny died of cancer several years ago and Louis lived until his mid 90s, continuing to join us until his death a couple of years ago.

Medicine Man, 42 x 11"

My twin nieces went to college this year. We are all looking forward to their return and hearing stories about their new lives. I'm assuming that eventually they will bring along significant others to join us. There will also be my 10-year-old niece and my 7-year old daughter and hopefully our friend's son to throw some testosterone in the mix. No teeny ones in the group now, though. I'm guessing (hoping) that that's still a few years off.

Wise Women, 42 x 11"

My parents are now in their 80's. Over the past few years, they've begun to regale the family with some old stories. I'm looking forward to a few new ones this year, and hopefully they will repeat a few of our favorite oldies. I'm looking forward to laughing so hard I cry.

Can't say I'm really looking forward to the turkey, though.

But, just to be there, I'd eat an old shoe if I had to.

And now (you knew it was coming ), the commercial part of this post: all of these pieces are now on Etsy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Over the tracks and through downtown . . .

. . . to Grandmother's house we go. The Dodge Dart (or perhaps the Charger) knows the way to carry the . . .

So, it's Thanksgiving somewhere back in the early 70s and we are on our way to my mother's parents house for Thanksgiving. Yes we did go over the tracks and through downtown. My grandparent's neighborhood was a grouping of somewhat rundown frame houses built mostly in the early 1900's. Their house was a lovely golden color. I've had a certain color of paint that I've loved to use for the last several years and I'm now just figuring out why I love it. It reminds me of that house!

Upon entering, we are enveloped in a stew of scents that, well, made us thankful. My grandparents would be in the kitchen cooking up a storm. Since I was not a fan of turkey, my grandfather would go out and get me a ham. He would have a slice ready for me as soon as I appeared in the kitchen door. My grandmother would be hovering over an oven stuffed with bubbling casseroles. Staples of the South. Sweet potatoes (still hate 'em), scalloped potatoes, green beans, dressing. None of it good for you.

The table was set with my grandparent's best. Lace tablecloth, freshly polished silver, gold rimmed plates, cut-glass goblets. Even as a little child, I used all of these fine things. No little kid treatment for me.

I never seem to remember going home after the feast. No doubt comatose from all of the fat.

I can't imagine the amount of money I would be willing to spend to have another Thanksgiving dinner there.

Recently, I have been doing a few more of my house-shaped pieces.

I began selecting pieces from boxes of fall-colored fabric scraps.

I soon had a selection that reminded me of my grandparents' home.
I lightly spread on some brown paint to "age" a few of my paper beads (buttons?)

How to represent my grandparents? Birds, of course. And I wanted to include my grandparents initials. I carved a "T" stamp for Theresa and one of my map beads just happened to have the letter "G" for Guy. Why the little red square? I'm thinking that it represents two things. The first is me -- the energy I have left behind in that house. The second is the red dinette set that was in the kitchen when I was very young.

Now I am adding the filler. Trees. MUST have trees. The moon is there to pull up some of the lighter colors from the bottom of the quilt. I made the small "T" into a little house all unto itself. As a child, I never considered my grandparents as individuals. They were just Teddy and Guy. They just went together and I never gave it another thought. As an adult, I know differently. After my grandmother died, many of her belongings ended up at my parents' house. I found her diaries in the basement. Through a brief reading of one, I discovered my grandmother did indeed have her own thoughts -- not always bright, happy, pretty ones. Like an idiot, I told my mother I found them. The next time I went to visit and look for them I found that she had thrown them away. So there are all of my grandmother's thoughts. In a little dark house by themselves, never to be discovered again.

I really wanted to include a representation of their house and its beautiful dark wood door. Since I have become a big fan of text and numbers, I wanted to include the house number. Instead of carving my own, I made a trip to one of those big box craft stores and bought myself some numbers. I felt some other little dark houses were in order. My father used to live around the corner from my mother when she lived in this house. My father's house has since been condemned and torn down. His father, who left his family when my dad was young also had a house in the neighborhood. Always a dark house for me.
And I could not resist placing a paper house on this piece. So there it is on top. Like it is in my memory.

I'm hoping I did not give out too much information. Usually, I like to put up a piece and let others fill in the information for themselves. I'm not sure what to do with this piece yet. I'll just let it hang around here for a while (along with loads of other pieces).

I am putting Thanksgiving House II on Etsy.
Thanksgiving House II, 15 x 10", now on Etsy.

What's it going to be at your house this year? Turkey? Tofurkey? Lentils?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Icing on the Cake

Beads Paper Buttons
Perhaps its a case of the seven-year itch. About seven years ago, I stopped doing my paper and fabric collages on board and canvas and started working exclusively with fabric (although I might add paint to the fabric). Now, paper is back in my life again and this time I feel it is going to stay. Will it remain a "bit" character or will it eventually play a larger part?

At this point, I am using paper as an embellishment on my quilts. Yes, I know the word embellishment is a bit of a bad word in the world of art. So?

And then there are beads. I have loved beads for quite a long time now. At first, they were little glass beads. Then they got a little larger and became a more important aspect of my quilts. Then they got stranger -- plastic, resin, celluloid, and now, paper. I love spending an afternoon rolling up paper beads. Aren't those black sunburst sequins fantastic? What about those elephant beads?

So, of course now buttons have to make an appearance. I'm especially in love with vintage mother-of-pearl buttons. I found two large ones I received in a collection from my mother-in-law. I originally intended on holding on to them forever and ever. But then, one of my pieces demanded such a button. I added it and proclaimed it perfect. Then another piece demanded the other of the two buttons. Then they were gone. Now, like a lonely lover perusing personal ads, I cruise Etsy and Ebay for old buttons. And maps. My obsession with old maps continues.

What's life without obsessions? Or itches?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Now on Etsy

Here are three pieces that have finally made the transition from Ebay to Etsy.

Little Sparks, 7 x 5.5"

Unseen Sea, 9 x 7"

Echo, 6 x 5.5"

I'll be adding a few more mini quilts in the next couple of weeks. Seems like a good time to trot out some recession-friendly artwork in time for the Holidays.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Made in China Made in China Made in China Mad in America

Today I did a little Christmas preview.

Our local garden center and gift shop had a Christmas open house today. They do a beautiful job of decorating trees and making every item look so appetizing. I picked up snowmen, Santas, ornaments, snow globes, and various doodads. Each had a label on the bottom that read Made in China. EVERY SINGLE ITEM. Oops, except for the item that was made in Thailand. It made me both angry and sad.

This summer, I purchased a few gifts from our fantastic arts festival. I do have many more gifts to purchase, however. I'm going to promise to do my best to purchase items that are handmade by artists that I actually know or can at least have contact with.

Do you have any favorite Etsy shops that you purchase from? Please let me know. I'm going to do a little more Etsy research and see if I can put a few more links up on my sidebar.

Thanks to Alicia, Nellie, Ellen, Lynn, Leslie and Robyn for your comments on my studio tour post. Just to let you know, the mess I began 15 minutes after I completed the video has turned into complete chaos. As usual. Three pieces started. Loads of reject piles, boxes of scraps, boxes of beads, piles of stamps, knots of threads, brushes, bottles, spools, etc, are everywhere. Aaaahhhhh, back to normal.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

G Rated Movie

Well, here it is. Finally. A video of my CLEAN studio. I promised this months ago.

Back in April, I posted a video of my very untidy studio. The title of that post was
Horror Flick. A most frightening video. It should have been rated R. The new video definitely rates a "G".

And do you think that it remained that clean for long?

Here's a photo of it about a half-hour later.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More House Love

Big Brown Barn, 6 x 5.5"
For sale on Etsy

On Sundays, my daughter and I love to go look at open houses. Our town does not have the most attractive housing stock, so we were quite surprised to find three old homes full of character to explore today.

The realtors are starting to get to know us and no longer push us to give them our address and phone number. They know we are not interested in making a purchase. We're just there for fun.

We look in every closet. Inspect all basement nooks and crannies, no matter how scary looking. I'm starting to enjoy inspecting furnaces.

I mentally plant trees and shrubs. I pick a room to be my studio. I knock out walls and expand kitchens. I toss out ugly chandeliers and vinyl flooring. I lovingly retain beautiful woodwork and plaster.

Our favorite house today was in the midst of renovation. We found disused toilets in odd places -- the basement and closets. Strange. The hallways were wide. Windows were plentiful. The yard was a naked field waiting for greenery and blossoms. Each bathroom was halfway finished. One bath had the most beautiful mosaic tile floor that was original to the house. I got the impression it wasn't going to be there much longer. I debated writing a note to the new owner requesting the retention of the tiles.

I recall the house being for sale a few years ago. It sits amidst several fraternity houses. I'm sure the loud parties, vandalism, and frequent urination on the lawn by drunken party goers caused the last owners to vacate. It was a beautiful home, but it left me with the feeling that it was unloved. You can feel that in a house, I think. I definitely had that feeling when I first looked at our house. It felt cold and unloved. Sometimes it felt downright mean. I cried the first few nights we lived in our house. But it has been cared for and loved for 12 years and I think that anyone who enters can feel that.

Does your home feel loved?

Friday, November 6, 2009

House Love

Offering, 15 x 10", for sale on Etsy.

I love houses. I am obsessed with them. Always have been and probably always will be.

As a child, I used to draw layouts of houses. If I were somewhere and did not have a pencil or paper, I would find another way to do layouts. If I found a bag full of clothespins, a can full of pick-up-sticks, or a boxful of crayons, I would use them to create walls, windows, and doors.

I've always loved stories of haunted houses. Souls that refuse to leave their homes have always fascinated me. I love houses full of life and I love abandoned ones also. Forget new ones. For me, the older the better.

Houses are vessels for our lives. They hold the good and the bad. They fill up with love, anger, birth, and death. We've all read stories of the houses of widowed women that are completely filled with garbage and newspapers. Tragically, we read about houses that are repositories of bodies and bones. Most of us work to fill up our homes with happiness.

My house quilts all seem to have a little bit of darkness in them. I think that is true of all of our houses. No matter how cheerful I work to make my little house quilts, they never turn out as happy as I wish. My subconscious wins in the end.

I would love to know about my readers' houses. What is your favorite, or, if you wish, least favorite house memory?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

74% of You Can't Complain

(mounting soapbox)

It's nice to finally be home and catch up on Facebook and blogs. It just gets out of hand if I don't do it each day (about 10 times each day).

Yesterday, from 6:15 am to 9:15 pm was spent working at the polls in my precinct. I helped to set up the machines, assisted voters, ate lots of snacks, drank lots of coffee, spread on loads of hand sanitizer, and tallied up votes all day long. And, frankly, it was quite a lot of fun. I love seeing who my neighbors are, finding out where they live, and learning to which political party they are affiliated. I also get to find out their ages. A definite perk. I do earn a bit (a small bit) of money from this and I sure appreciate that before the holidays. However, I would still do it if I earned nothing. I do feel like a small, but important, cog in the workings of democracy.

This morning I read the paper to see if my chosen candidates won. Many did. I don't feel I have too much to complain about. But if I did have cause to complain, well, I feel I have earned the right to complain. I voted. I learned that in my neck of the woods (Centre County, PA), that only 26% of registered voters actually showed up at the polls. I know that there are often reasonable excuses for not showing up. Life happens.

I am impressed at those who vote no matter what. We have a large population of elderly in my neighborhood. So many came in yesterday relying on canes, wheelchairs, and the arms of friends and relatives. Those who know that they can't make it ever again vote absentee. A man showed up in the afternoon, voted, and then asked if we could send out a ballot to a relative that was in the hospital. We couldn't. Yet, near closing time, the recently released woman came in to vote. I think that if her candidates were not elected, then she can complain all she wants.

Twenty-six percent of Centre County residents can complain today if they wish. Seventy-four percent will have to live with the cards they have been dealt for the next two, or four, or six years.

And remember, if you're not happy with the candidates running, you can always write in for Mickey Mouse or Michael Jackson or Mother Teresa. At the end of the evening, I'll just have to write each and every one of those write-in names down in quadruplicate and curse your ballot under my breath.

It's your right. Don't treat it like a burden.

(dismounting soapbox)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I Already Miss October

Successful Workers, 7 x 6"

Daylight Savings, 7 x 6"

I finally got into the October spirit yesterday morning. I took the dog for his morning walk; something my husband usually does. I enjoyed crunching through the leaves in the morning silence (the students were still sleeping). We later went to a local farm and purchased a couple of pumpkins which were carved after lunch. The afternoon rain stopped. At 5 o'clock we went to a little party, met some new families and had a fantastic time trick-or-treating. We then stopped at another little party, met some neighbors we had only seen in passing before, had some red wine and ate some delicious, home-made pumpkin pie. All in all, a good Halloween.

So I finally fell in love with autumn. A little bit too late this year. Yesterday's breezes removed most of the remaining leaves from the trees. The darkness while we cruised for candy mostly hid the branches still down from the winter storm. There will be a ray or two of sun today. I will look at the remaining leaves shining in the sun. Then it will all be over. The trees will be bare. Snow will no doubt start to fall (again) soon.

On the bright side, though, Target will put their Halloween items on sale today, and will briskly trot out the Christmas items.

The two pieces shown above were pictured in progress a few days ago. Here they are in their finished glory. They are both for sale on Etsy.