Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday To -do's

The holidays are almost here and my little boy has been asking everyday WHEN can we start to decorate? I'm making him wait til after Thanksgiving. Poor child! It's hard to wait- at any age. So today we are starting to get together what we'll need to celebrate Thanksgiving and then for the Cookie Baking Day which follows on Friday. So now that I'm thinking ahead I thought I'd share what's on my to do list these next few days.

  • Pouring through recipes to choose just the right cookies to add to our usuals this year.
  • Buying containers for all the cookies.
  • Taking a trip to Costco to buy all the ingredients- IN BULK!!!
  • Mixing up gingerbread dough and baking it in little house molds to assemble later.
  • Writing out our Christmas lists.
  • Listening to LOTS of Charlie Brown Christmas music
  • Listening to LOTS of other Christmas music.
  • Decorating Gingerbread houses with the boys.
  • Teaching them that more has to actually go on the house than goes in their mouths. (There's a ratio there...)
  • Putting up Christmas Lights.
  • Making sure no one falls and hurts themselves while putting up said lights.
  • Enjoying some time with family and friends- I hope you do too!!!
What do you do to prepare? I'd love to know...

Hope you have a wonderful start to the season!!! Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Creating a Focal Point

This weekend I was reminded of how amazing a good focal point can be. I'd been called in to create the floral decorations for a church dinner that was being held Sunday morning in our building's gymnasium. It's a huge space and very very gym-ish. Basketball hoops, court lines on the floor, and banners on all 4 walls. Impossible to disguise any of it. So instead of trying to disguise it I used a trick I'd learned as a wedding and events floral designer. I used the concept of a focal point. In event design this would usually be somewhere that was immediately visible to the eye upon entering the room. It would be big and glorious and immediately set the mood in the mind of the attendee that this was an occasion. By drawing the eye and creating that first impression I kept the attendees from noticing the room en large- at least until after that first impression was made. Secondly, they would notice the tables set with matching arrangements. I like to have two or three different styles of varying heights to add interest.

I also placed the arrangement on a round table sitting on top of a beautiful golden rug. The round shape contrasted nicely with squares and rectangles of all the satellite tables. Again, adding to the visual weight of the focal arrangement.
When I was doing weddings I would always visit the sites with the bride prior to creating a design. This way I was able to walk through and take notice of the places that the guests would linger. This might be the entrance, or an alcove, the dining table, or a staircase. Placing flowers in these places enhanced their value to my mind because they would register longer in the mind of the guest. Thus, they would make a bigger impression. It was also much more elegant than throwing money at everything because if you followed that tact the guest would tune out almost immediately because of the visual overload. As in a painting, the eye needs a chance to rest, and if you don't give it that rest it becomes fatigued quite easily.

Recently, a friend mentioned that a good party planner would plan their evening so it included high and low moments over the course of the night. If you constantly strive to keep the evening strung high the guest can feel overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted.

But now I'm thinking. I guess this might be true of life as well. If not for the depressions we might not appreciate as acutely the high moments. I guess we need both.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just an idea I had...

I'm been waiting to show you a photo of my little fabric and wire cuff until I had it finished. It still needed some snaps. I've never tried to add snaps before and I should probably have attempted it on something OTHER than this cuff to start. Live and learn. Well, maybe. I do this kind of thing a lot. Sometimes it pays off big and sometimes I have to start over.

So the snap thing didn't go real well and I have no finished photo for you so I'll share this. You can still get an idea of what I was thinking... and when I get version 2 done I'll give you all a peek at that as well! In the meantime, happy crafting!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Inspirational Quote

I was reading quotes about art tonight and found this from what I consider an unlikely source.

”Beginning with audacity is a very great part of the art of painting.” -- Winston Churchill.

Blank Beauties

So my funk lasted two days and I said ENOUGH and decided the best solution was laughing with my 4 year old and playing with my art. I enjoy them both so much and they do my soul so much good. The playing part came easy since I'm still obsessed by the possibilities for my new angel forms. I'm thinking gardening angel with seed packets collaged to the thread form around her middle, and I'm seeing "wings" everywhere I look. So I spent a little time and made up two more "blank canvases". They're the basic form but without the personalities yet. Although I couldn't resist adding a little heart to them both. And maybe I'll just keep one of these as is. Sometimes simple is good.

But I find it's more fun to embellish.

Monday, November 16, 2009


It's funny how those "Monday" kinds of days so often fall on Monday. For whatever reason, today has been one of those kinds of days for me. It's been a struggle from the moment I woke up. I even went back to bed thinking that might salvage the day but, no. Still a Monday.

How do you deal with these days?

Actually, I feel like I need to clean house. I sort of let everything slide on the weekends thinking that Monday I'll clean it all up and start the week fresh. I've had that attitude toward my life lately too. I let it slide knowing that I have the book to finish. But it seems that if you let life slip just a little, before long it's a landslide and you're trying to figure out what to do with all the rubble.

I know what to do. I need to take care of myself. I need to give myself permission to cook some nice meals instead of just throwing everything together at 5 o'clock. I need to stock some yummy good for me eats in the cupboard instead of raiding the Halloween stash when I hit that 3 o'clock low. I need to get outside and soak up some Vitamin D and I need to exercise daily to keep my serotonin levels up.

I need to do a little self nurturing and spend some time with my husband by the fireplace and cultivate that comfy feeling. Instead of burning the candle at both ends. What is there about work that makes us think that we have to sacrifice everything else for it? I don't know. But I do know that if I take a little time to recharge I'll feel a lot better.

Maybe that's the lesson of Mondays.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Whoo-hoo!! 100 Sales!!

My Etsy shop reached a milestone yesterday- 100 sales!!!! I'm really excited. To reach 100 sales was one of my very first whispered goals when I started my shop and it feels really really good to see it. In fact, I copied it from my site so you could see it too. LOL!! It feels great. I know there are other shops out there that saw 100 sales the first month ( you shall remain nameless...) but my work is unique and not for everyone and so to see this is still a HUGE thrill for me.

other items

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And then there were TWO!!!

So the angel I created on Thursday night was so fun I went ahead and made another one yesterday. I don't think she's quite done yet but she was loads of fun to make. I love the idea of using art materials in my sculpture- not just to create it but to decorate it as well. So yesterday I grabbed a whole bunch of dried up Golden tubes I had left over from college and tried to wire them on to this girl's skirt. It ended up being a little too bulky seeming- but still a cool idea so I think I might have to work with it for another piece. Instead of the tubes of acrylic this little girl got a Tim Holtz ideology pendant that's stamped with the word "believe" and some yummy little clay fragments I had in my stash.

The fragments were made by Teri of Terraworks studio on Etsy, several months ago. I'd had the idea of creating a wire ball and then stitching in the clay pieces but the clay sticked out a little too much when I tried it, upsetting the rounded shape of the ball. Which I hated admitting to myself because they were just too cool. So I reluctantly set them aside trusting that I'd find a place for them in the future. And wouldn't you know they are the perfect accents for this angel. I love her so much more with these little fragmented bits of art wired into her skirt. They help to give her a personality and I just love that.

So now the ideas are just flowing in and I want to try all sorts of things with this form. But not today. Today I have to work on writing the introductions for each project in the book. So I will stop using you all as an excuse to procrastinate. Have a good weekend!

Friday, November 13, 2009

I had a friend just send me the dictionary definition of audacious and thought I'd share. Here's what I found at for the word audacious - extremely original; without restriction to prior ideas; highly inventive. Also - extremely bold or daring; lively; unrestrained; uninhibited.

Dream Audaciously

Meet my angel. She has spoons for wings and a chicken wire base. Stamped on some fabric scraps are the words "Dream" "Audaciously" and "Impossible things." A few posts ago Jill of creative oasis mentioned that she liked how I described my dream of the book as audacious. I hadn't thought too much about my choice of wording until I read her comment. Then I started to think a bit more about it.

Dreams are often audacious. When we allow ourselves to dream audaciously of impossible things, then there's a spark of hope and challenge that begins to well within us. A belief that maybe we could realize it, which develops into a what if we did- how would we start? And that is the beginning of actualizing our dreams.

Lately I've read how our dreams are given to us by God and how he uses these to instill in us a direction or purpose for our lives. Dream audaciously of climbing Mt. Everest? Or of designing your own line of children's clothes? How about writing a book? Or of having your own solo gallery exhibit? Often we live life dismissing those dreams in favor of what we see as real life. But what if we took a step towards our dreams? And then another and another? I believe we're blessed when we do. It takes courage to start, but once we do the way becomes clearer and it becomes a little easier. There is also the heart satisfaction that we are living the life we were created to live. Each one of us is unique with unique talents, abilities, interests, and experiences. Each one of us was created on purpose. Our dreams are often the clue to that purpose.

My little angel started out a week ago as an idea. Then Wednesday became a sketch. Then yesterday as I gathered supplies she became a little clearer to me, and then last night I found her. She wants to encourage us all to dream. Dream Audaciously of Impossible Things. What dreams of yours do you catch your breath at the thought of? My little angel wants to show you the possiblity and to wing you on your way to realizing that dream. I want to see you realize that dream. It's a wonderful journey.

Added Later: I had a friend just send me the dictionary definition of audacious and thought I'd share. "Here's what I found at for the word audacious - extremely original; without restriction to prior ideas; highly inventive. Also - extremely bold or daring; lively; unrestrained; uninhibited." Gives one ideas doesn't it? Thanks Shelley!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chicken Wire Inspirations- New Mixed Media Art

OH- the creative juices are flowing lately and I have way too many ideas and plans. Today I ran over to my local craft store and picked up a grey sweatshirt, a bunch of wooden finials and wooden accents, some snowflake stickers, a wooden ruler, some snaps, and when I got home and poured out the contents of my bag on the table I just sat down and laughed. I had the pieces for four different projects. When am I going to get done 4 more projects? But I'm determined. Otherwise the ideas are going to just flit around my mind bothering me until I give them some attention. Do your creative thoughts pester you like this? They suck up my concentration and disturb my thoughts until I'm just annoyed with them and will work on them just so I can move on.

Lately, I've had chicken wire on the brain. Maybe, because I'd toyed with the idea of submitting a chicken wire entry for a Somerset Life call. Maybe, because one of the projects I revisited at the photo shoot was chicken wire. Maybe, because a friend mentioned a bed stead made of chickenwire. I don't know why but it would be on my mind after all that.... :) Two days ago I had a vision of a chicken wire angel. Her body would be wood, her wings- metal, and her skirt- chicken wire. I've done some figures in wire but I think this mixed media angel could be something really special. So I gathered up a bunch of potential materials and I thought I'd give you a look. See what you think. I love how a mess of mismatched elements can become something.

Two weeks ago I created a chicken wire heart and then wrapped it with cheesecloth strips that have dried plaster compound on it. You dip it in water and then it hardens into the shape of whatever you lay it on. Mine was originally created to make medical casts. You know, to wrap broken arms or legs or whatever. I got it at a surplus store ages ago and it wasn't performing as well as it did 13 years ago. Maybe there's a shelf life I didn't know about. :) But whatever, the plaster was a bit crumblier than it had been and so I ended up covering up most of it with fabric strips that I dipped in liquid starch. You can buy the plaster product under the name Rigid Wrap at any craft store- mine came on a bigger roll th0ugh and was tons cheaper. So here's a look at that project too.

I love setting myself the task to really explore a medium or material. Once I start to play around with the possiblities of something the ideas just flow. So think about it... What could you create? Maybe it'll get your creative juices flowing as well....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Cherry On Top

Sometimes in life we hope and pray for what we need and really don't expect anything more. Then it comes, not just what we'd asked for- but above and beyond. It's as if God is showing us how much more he could give. It's the cherry on top. Last week I had one of those experiences. Not only did the photo shoot go incredibly well but all week long I was excited for Friday night. Yes, that was the end of the week and I knew I'd be so glad to have it over, but I was also looking forward to celebrating with a friend. That was the Cherry on top.

So Friday night after the shoot was over, I was able to "meet" my friend Shelley for the first time. We've been e-mail friends for over a year now. We met on Etsy way back when I'd first started. She was one of my first customers and when I looked up her shop I had to convo her and tell her how WONDERFUL and truly AMAZING I thought her work was. I've convo'd many of my customers but somehow Shelley and I really hit it off. We're both artists and we're both Christians and I think that gave us a base to start from that really helped the relationship along. I now count her as one of my very best friends and so, when I found out that my publisher was in Cincinnati- as is Shelley- I suggested we get together at the end of the week. It was so fun to anticipate and all week long I told people about it. It was funny to see the caution that came to people's eyes when I told them I was going to meet a friend from the internet. It does sound like the beginning to some horror flick, but I was confident we'd have a blast. And it was so fun!!! Definitely the cherry on top for the whole wonderful experience.

And really, finding friends and kindred spirits has been the best thing about all of my adventures of the last year. Any of you who are artists know how special it is to find those kindred spirits. You know, the people who just get you and you don't have to explain yourself to, I count so many of you in that group. Strangers who leave comments and become friends. Some of you I know well, and some I've yet to get to know. I appreciate each and every one of you though- and want each of you to know that in this adventure, you're all the cherry on top for me. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Photo Shoot Week!

I worried about it, I planned for it, and the anticipation of it nearly threw me over the edge but the week came, and it went and it was wonderful! I was in the hands of professionals (North Light publishes approximately 70 books a year), and the people I met just reinforced that impression I had of professionalism. My editor, Rachel, was amazing to work with, as was the photographer, Christine. They were the two people I spent the majority of my time with and they made it so easy, as well as fun and immensely enjoyable to create this book. Best of all, I now feel like it's going to be such a better book than it was, because these two people have added their talent and time to make it amazing. I was also able to meet the designer, the sales and marketing staff, and a host of others who have completely humbled me with their enthusiasm for their jobs and this book. It was a wonderful experience.

The goal we had for the week was to step out all 25 projects within a Mon-Fri, 9-5 schedule. We finished each night ahead of schedule and by Friday we had just one project left and so I was able to clean up a bit and take a few photos of my own to share with you. It was a fascinating experience for someone who loves books as much as I do, to see first hand how they come together and all the people that are involved in the process.

The studio itself, is such an amazing workspace. The room I was in all week was my photographer, Christine's, and just one room of this massive workspace. It was really fun to get a look at the prop room and to glimpse some of the other author's works as they were being photographed. I have a fascination with the juxtaposition of plain and fabulous and this studio completely embodied that. I've seen the wonderfully polished photographs that are taken in this building and to see the workhorse of a space they're taken in was really interesting. The photo at right is of a room within the studio that they will paint and decorate to use as a backdrop for photographing an author's projects. All week it looked like the photo at right and then the very last day, Friday, it was completely transformed with curtains, furniture, bedding, and was positively adorable. All decked out and ready to showcase the new works of an amazing author. So for me, it was absolutely fascinating to see the lengths that North Light's photographers, designers, and stylists will go to for a great photo.

So that's it for the little studio tour- I hoped you enjoyed it!!