Friday, February 26, 2010

Signs of the Times XI and XII

Signs of the Times XI, 6 x 6"

Signs of the Times XII, 6 x 6"

I have now completed 20 in the Signs of the Times Series. I have only photographed up to 12.

Both of these pieces contain squares cut from a vintage map of downtown Buffalo, NY. They are now for sale on Etsy.

I'm going to try some new colors for the next four in the series. Here they are in progress.

I'm hoping the ideas will keep coming. So far, so good.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Image from

Everybody needs a place. Their place. It does not have to be a private place. This place could be under the clock at Grand Central Station. A person must be able to be themselves in this place. Unless they are looking to be someone else in this place, but that is another story.

I think my place would be a coffee shop. Not a hard-edged Starbucks. But a homey kind of place. It could even be one of those chains. I fell in love with Caffe Nero while in London and Oxford. But there's nothing like it in my neck of the woods. There are a couple of coffee shops in town, but after exploration, I know that neither could be my place.

I want my place to be just a couple of blocks from my house. A place I would be willing to walk to on even a snowy or rainy day. Perhaps this place would be next to other places. A clothing shop, antique store, old movie theater, restaurant, florist. I may not even need anything from these other places. I just need their presence. I just need to know that if I want them, they are mine.

I think that most people crave intimate places. Wouldn't most people choose the cozy coffee shop over the airplane-hanger-like coffee shop? The small movie house over the 12-stall cineplex? A small bistro with a fireplace over a vast Hard Rock Cafe? A bench in a pocket-sized park over a monolithic fountain in a concrete plaza?

Everybody does not have to know my name in my place. But it would be nice if somebody would recognize me and say hello. I would not have to feel superior and important at my place. But I do not want to feel little and lost.

I have not found my place yet.

Have you found your place? Where is it?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Signs of the Times IX and X

Signs of the Times IX, 6 x 6"

Signs of the Times X, 6 x 6"

Thanks to all of my readers who have listed their favorite cities and have told me why they live where they live now.

Far more often than not, we live where we need to work. Our jobs might be so specialized that there are only a few (or less than that) places that we can live. When I told my husband I was more than ready to move out of the Northern Virginia area, I was given three choices, all related to his employment. Would it be Groton, CT; Detroit, MI, or State College, PA? The process of elimination landed us at Penn State University in State College, PA. Not quite a metropolis (bit of sarcasm here).

There are advantages to living here. It is a small town filled with educated people. If I go out and forget to lock my door, its no big deal. If I decide to go for drinks downtown, I can walk home. And it only takes 4.5 hours to drive to New York City.

There are disadvantages. Step three feet out of town and the education level drops dramatically. Instantaneously. Scarily. If I go for drinks or dinner downtown, I don't have much choice in where I go. There is no clothing or house-oriented shopping for those over the age of 21 and under the age of 90. I can afford to go to New York City once a year. It's those other 51 weekends of the year that I have trouble filling.

I do find I am drawn to urban areas. Kind of like a moth to a flame. Or maybe a moth to a bug zapper. I love those bright lights. And coffee shops. And restaurants. And museums. And . . .

These two pieces are now for sale on Etsy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Signs of the Times VIII

Signs of the Times VIII, 6 x 6"

I'm beginning to realize that this series is a bit dark. No doubt it will stay that way. I've become obsessed with the cities of the northeast and upper midwest. Old industrial cities. Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Milwaukee. So much of these cities is abandoned or declining. Yet each city has pockets of new life; some of it shining and beautiful, some of it misguided and hostile to the city itself. These older cities have older neighborhoods with character. Old theaters, new coffee shops, old homes, new lofts. New life and possibility layered over the old.

Signs of the Times VIII is made with a vintage map of downtown Buffalo. It is available for sale on Etsy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Not So Magical

The birthday party is over. Thank heaven.

Kids cried. Some kids picked on others. A lecture was given by my hubby that if children couldn't be nice to others at a birthday party they would have to go home.

It was overheard that a couple of kids thought the craft activity was lame.

The cupcakes mostly went uneaten. Except by me. I got me a good sugar high. They were goooooood.

The dog is still traumatized.

It was a recreation of Lord of the Flies except with lots of pink and purple ribbons.

I cleaned up and drank some wine.

Looking forward to getting back in the studio very soon.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


My daughter's eighth birthday party is this Saturday. She has chosen as her theme, "Wicked" the broadway show. I explained to here that most kids might not know about "Wicked" and she said, "so". So the theme is basically good witches and bad witches. We have black witch hats and tiaras to choose from. The kids will tie on ribbons to the magic wands shown above. Each kid will get to make two magic wands. I always anticipate the party craft will take about 20 minutes and they usually eat up about 7 minutes. Most of the party will consist of 11 girls running and screaming.

I spent part of the weekend and a good deal of the snow day yesterday whipping these things up. They are stars cut from glitter sticky foam and stuck back to back around a dowel. I cut out 48 of those darn things. Next year I've got to think of an environmentally friendly craft.

It is a rare sunny day here. I was going to photograph some of my new pieces outside, but since I need an overcast day for that, it will have to wait. Perhaps until tomorrow. Perhaps just 30 seconds or so. I am working on four new pieces and hopefully I can finish them off before the weekend. I believe that will put me up to 14 pieces in the Signs of the Times series.

I'm still GoogleMapping in my spare time. Can't think of too many U.S. cities I have not visited. Now I am going to some places I've never thought about before. Gary, Indiana. Shreveport, Louisiana, Davenport, Iowa. The latter seemingly a nice place to live.

Why do you live where you live? Do you live in a place of your choosing? Do you live in a place of another's choosing? Is there another place you are longing to live?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Signs of the Times VI and VII

Signs of the Times VI, 6 x 6"

Signs of the Times VII, 6 x 6"

These two pieces are now in my Etsy shop. My Signs of the Times series are my interpretation of American cities over time. The layering of urbanization over the natural landscape and the attempt of nature of to reclaim these areas. Signs are put up and forgotten about. Neighborhoods are left to decay, as are suburban areas as even newer developments are put up. I see a future where these cities are reclaimed by those looking for richer lives for themselves and their families.

I was asked what cities I had looked up on GoogleMaps. Far too many to name. But I will tell you my favorite places so far. Right now, I am limiting my searches to cities and towns in the United States. I did have a glimpse at Amsterdam the other day and was completely blown away, but I've gone back to the U.S. and I'm sticking with that for now.

My all-time favorite cities are New York and New Orleans. Been to them dozens of times. But I want to list the places that I have never been and am impressed with just by cruising around in GoogleMaps.

Portland, OR
Eugene, OR
Boise, ID
Providence, RI
Cleveland, OH
Denver, CO
Boulder, CO

I'm sure to find a few others, but my search for great American towns and cities and been a bit discouraging. So much of our cities has been destroyed by neglect and indifference, urban 'renewal', racism, interstates, and money placed into the wrong hands.

Those cities and towns listed above are far from being similar. But what I see in them are cities that are intact. They aren't completely wrecked from giant civic projects that tear out the old and put up huge, cold facades against the street. They have neighborhoods marked with movie theaters, restaurants and unique shops that one can actually walk to. They seem oriented to residents and small businesses instead of developers. Their central areas have not been pockmarked (or worse) with surface parking lots and concrete "plazas".

I've been looking at one of my favorite books, "Great Cities of the World", a 1958 compilation of maps of downtown areas, photos, and snippets of info. The buildings of each central business district are marked and labeled. I often go onto GoogleMaps and see which old hotels and theaters are still there. These cities seem to offer a past along with their present (although it seems that Denver did a number on the majority of its old theaters). The downtowns seem to be viable and the older warehouse filled outskirts of the larger areas seem to be getting new life.

What are your favorite cities and towns, and why?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Thumbs Up!

No whining here today.

I will possibly have a few pieces published in Sew Somerset this summer. This will be the first time my work has been published (excluding an ad in our local magazine).

I am in an Etsy treasury compiled by Paula from Self Taught Artist.

I've received loads of great comments lately on my work and I'm gathering some new followers. Thank you all so much for your support.

I do not have a blood clot. Since my plane trip to Texas last month, I've had a pain in my right thigh. It began during the last leg of the flight. I kept telling myself it was this or that or something else. The pain got worse lately and I couldn't sleep for fear of it being a clot. After a trip to the doc and then a trip to the hospital yesterday evening, it has been determined there is no clot. Perhaps a hamstring issue instead. I am a much happier person today.

Tomorrow I will blog about a couple of new pieces and will add them to Etsy. I am now working on #12 in my Signs of the Times series.

Now I am off to visit Google Maps and cruise some city streets. I'm still calling this habit (vice?) research.

I will try to pretend I'm going to enjoy the snow. Whee! Nowhere to go! I'll get lots of work done this weekend! (not)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Signs of the Times, IV and V

Signs of the Times IV, 6 x 6"

Signs of the Times V, 6 x 6"

My newest pieces in the series. I'm having a great time creating these! These two are now for sale on Etsy.

I off to work on the next batch.