26 May 2009

Introducing Pea, guest blogger and jewelry maker

The entries!

Mixing it up!

And the winner is...

Lezanac! Thank you all very much for entering and visiting my shop. I really appreciate the comments and I loved seeing the diversity of “favorites”. I feel I’m on the right track with making pieces that are appealing for a variety of jewelry lovers. I’ll just keep plugging along and doing what I love and hopefully I’ll have an even bigger and better selection when the economy picks up.

My newest earrings: Copper 'n' Chestnuts, made with hand-carved leaves of real chestnut wood.

I really love making jewelry, for myself, my friends and for my shop. I have a nice little workshop space and I love to get out different components and let the pieces evolve. Many times what I started out to make becomes something totally different as my hands fly to a different bead here or a different metal there.

Maggie, acrylic on canvas

I find that process is a lot like painting. You may start out with an idea and even a sketch but the colors and the images in your mind take over and then the fun begins. Because I have a “real” job during the day I have to make my jewelry in the evening, sometimes very late in the evening. When I get up in the morning I’ll take a look at what I made the night before and sometimes I can’t even remember how a certain piece came to be. I love the feeling of being entranced and surprised and excited. That is how the creative process works best and it’s what keeps me interested in learning and doing more.

Cat Family, acrylic on canvas

I am currently learning about polymer clay and PMC so that I can begin making some my own beads. I will continue to mix vintage, handmade, found and collected components to make future pieces. Of course there will always be crystals and glass for a bit of sparkle whenever possible. I love the light it gives to the jewelry and to the wearer.

Thank you again your entries and I hope you will continue to visit Sugarcain’s amazing blog and both of our etsy shops.

A special thank you goes to Sugar Cain for opening up her fabulous blog to me and my earring give-away. She’s a special person with a generous heart and is so supportive of me and all the other creative sorts out there. We have many great discussions that help me get moving and excited about my work. She’s given me great advice and turned me on to so many great sites, fellow bloggers, good books, and just the weird and wonderful world around us. She is a woman of incredible talents and the proud owner of an amazing brain that she’s always putting to very good use.

Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, a beautiful place to spend Memorial Day weekend with friends.

As a special thanks to all who entered the give-away, we both are offering a 10% discount off any items purchased from our shops from today through Sunday, May 31, 2009. Go to PatiR (earrings) or Sugarcain (little sweets and tarts) to make your purchases. Etsy requires a simple registration process; it only takes a minute to sign up. Then make your selection and contact the shop owner through etsy (on the right side of the screen you’ll see a “contact” link) and let us know what you are purchasing. We will adjust the price and put up a special listing for you , then e-mail you back so you can make your purchase.


25 May 2009

Go back to school if you think the only heroes are the ones who are serving now

I am spitting mad. I tried to swallow it down, and a lot of times that works. But this particular situation has not abated in a week or more, so I figure, like a bad song stuck in my head, if I share it it will dissipate.

My niece Kayli, who is ten years old (today, as a matter of fact), was given a school assignment to write a letter to someone who served in the military and helped to keep our country safe. She wrote her letter to her granddad, my father.

Dad definitely qualifies as a subject of the exercise. He served in the US Navy during several conflicts, as an engineman on a minesweeper. I remember during the Vietnam conflict the war statistics were given every evening on the news. On the network we watched, they used a graphic of a silhouette of a soldier with the casualty numbers superimposed over it. I held my breath every time I saw it, as though the newscaster might shout out my dad's name. Every day I worried about my dad, and at bedtime Mom would sit next to my bed while I prayed aloud for him to be blessed and kept safe. That was all that we on the homefront could do, we thought. Carry on. Put on a brave face. Hope. Be prepared. I can only imagine what it was like for my mother, because she must not show me how frightened she was.

We gave, and my father gave. The worst thing was balancing the fear with the patriotism. That's when I first developed my talent for just not thinking about things. Certain things I couldn't control or resolve. I have a meter in my stomach that tells me when to stop thinking, and then I just put the thought in my little mental room with the other dark things and come back to it later. No one can teach you those things. You just develop methods to survive.

Growing up a military brat, dragged from sea to shining sea, made me who I am. I would not change a minute of it except that fear. And that fear just goes along with the military life. I was and I am proud of my father and his service, and I stand taller when I hear someone thank the veterans who have served and died.

Now, back to Kayli's Memorial Day assignment. She wrote a nice letter to Dad thanking him for his service, but the teacher found it insufficient. Why?

BECAUSE MY FATHER IS DEAD. And he didn't die in battle; he died many years later in his own bedroom in the middle of a spring night.

This kind of stupid bitch is allowed to teach children? Molding young minds? I know you don't get the pick of the litter in a town of 2,600 people, but WTF. Does she think Memorial Day (we called it Decoration Day) is for school holidays and picnics and beer? Was she not even required to learn enough American history that she would be ahead of her students in that department?

I told my sister to go directly to the school and defend my tearful niece's choice, but she is not that sort of person. I'm five hours away and the teachers there already hate me. When my son was there, I was at the school once a month agitating for intellectual standards, or simple manners, or just plain logic. To my niece, it seemed as though her granddad wasn't good enough. She refused to choose another veteran to write about. She preferred to fail the assignment.

Well, my sweet little Shuggie, you didn't fail at all. Take it from me. The world is so much bigger and wider than that little town. Go to the cemetery today and you will see the flags on Granddad's grave. That means he's a hero.

Daddy, thank you and all of the other veterans of all the wars and conflicts for your contributions to the country and the world. I think about you every day, but today I thank you. I love you. You are a hero to me.

Happy birthday, Kayli. I love you too.

19 May 2009

Treasury with the poetry of bats

My paperbat print is in a treasury, a color-coordinated cavalcade of beauties curated by Liese Martin of DeadpanAlley. Thanks for including me, Liese. "It looks good enough to EAT" is the title of the treasury, and the colors make me think of peanut butter pie, chili peppers, butterscotch, olives, raspberries, pimentos, dark chocolate, leaf lettuce, flan, shellfish, watermelon, orange and lime sherbet, and leechee fruit. Click on the photo above to view the Etsy treasury page while it lasts.

My imaginative little bunny girl is the item of the day on the Etsy Dark Side Street Team's blog page over on MySpace. Click on the photo above to be transported. Thanks, Dark Team.

I have confidence in my work, but I get a little puffed up when I see it in some "official" venue.

18 May 2009

The universe gives what we need

Every year on my son's birthday I wear a button I was given as a gift by the hospital where I gave birth. It's beat up and faded, and I love wearing it.

Thirty-five years ago today I was sitting in a hospital bed braiding my hair and waiting for the nurses to bring me a baby. A baby that scared the snot out of me--he was mine.

I wasn't one of those little girls who dreamed of a wedding and played with her dolls as gently as if they were actual children, diapering and blanketing and cooing. I wanted to ride an ocean liner again and learn how to spit six feet and own a dog who could understand what I was saying. I was unprepared, to say the least.

Just as it always turns out, the universe had a better idea of what I needed than I did. And apparently what I needed was a cute little eleven pound boy covered with peachfuzz and possessing enough of my looks to fascinate me from the moment I saw him. We didn't have ultasounds back then, and we waited until the moment of birth to learn the gender of the baby we carried. But I had a dream about him, swaddled in a blue mohair blanket that I would receive as a gift months in the future.

Even though I thought I didn't want any children, I am so grateful that I accidentally got one. My son Jaybird has been a joy and still is. I had my sister and my mom to help with him, and I truly don't remember ever changing his diaper. I remember the sweet stuff. I bathed him and dressed him and told him stories, taught him to talk, and squatted down on the sidewalk with him to point at ants.

I'm not tossing the word joy around lightly. Perhaps the universe also arranged for me to have the kind of child I would be good at raising: a smart, independent, creative little man who brought back to me that childlike sense of wonder that I was missing. A talkative boy who said the most insightful things and had a streak of the curmudgeon. Serious and funny. Look! His favorite word was Look!

Now he's a grown man who likes to play guitar and read history and biography. He draws and paints and researches genealogy. He loves his dogs and knows himself in a way that makes him practical and steady. Sometimes we get to talking and the conversation strides off in all directions because we are so eager to swap what we know. He is a good man. What mother would ask for more?

Happy birthday, Jaybird. I love you.

17 May 2009

Pea's earring give-away: Everyday Iridescence

Let's have some fun. Pea has contributed a lovely pair of earrings for me to give away. Just a few simple steps and you can be wearing them.

I always laugh when I read a description on Etsy or e-Bay that includes some little plea for the product, noting that it looks much better in person or that it doesn't photograph nearly as beautiful as it really is. I always think, well, you'd better brush up on your photography skills.

But Pea and I have been discussing why no one views or hearts this lovely pair of earrings in her Etsy shop. I've seen them in person, and they are full of sparkle and color. The large bead is Czech pressed glass in a rainbow hue. The little teal beads are a nice complement to them. Try after try, they simply do not photograph that way. So Pea has decided that they are not a creation that's going to impress a shopper in an online shop, where all they have to go on is a picture.

Lucky you. You can win some Everyday Iridescence by playing along with our game.

1. Go to Pea's shop and check out the jewelry.

2. Return here and leave a comment.

3. Include the name of the piece of Pea's jewelry that you like best.

4. (Optional) Give any constructive criticism you have on Pea's shop.

How can Pea make her jewelry and her shop stand out from the crowd? I don't know the answer. I'm glad that jewelry-making is not my area, because the competition on Etsy is astounding. I'm no big shakes on math, but if you are browsing "earrings" or "jewelry", the chance that you will land on Pea's work must be astronomical. Then if a seller has a limited (or nonexistent) marketing budget, where does she concentrate her efforts to best effect? We don't know. Maybe you can offer an opinion or your personal experience to help.

Pea will draw the winning name a week from tomorrow, May 25, which is a holiday, but who cares? I may even talk Pea into guest blogging.

I look forward to hearing from you. Please come back tomorrow when I'll be blogging on the occasion of my son's thirty-fourth birthday.

13 May 2009

A compendium of my disorganized thoughts--and the winning name

I've been remiss in responding to the wonderful, creative names you all left for my bunnyatrix. I apologize and assure you that my mother taught me to do better than to leave my friends hanging in the air after they have done me a favor. 

I have learned that I can't be blogging while I'm making art, and I can't be making art while I'm blogging. So sad, because I love to do both of them. I have read the same lament on many other blogs. I won't be quitting my day job, so I'll have to resolve the issue somehow. 

I have numerous stories started that have not yet come to their natural conclusions, so I don't feel yet like posting them. Some people have suggested that I might post my stories in smaller installments. What do you think? Would you rather wait longer for a finished "episode," or would you enjoy reading smaller chunks of the story, with natural little cliff-hangers and foreshadowing (that would, I hope, keep you returning)? I could really use your opinions; perhaps some of you have already pondered this same question in respect to your own writing. Please leave a comment if you have the time.

Back to bunny. I love so many of the names you suggested for my paper doll that I will need to make other little adventurers to carry them: Indina Jones, Lila Cuttle, Sofie Swiftly, Cleo Cloudhopsky, Honey O'Hare, among many others. A number of people came up with Amelia Earheart, or some variation thereof, and that made me ask myself, Where in the world has my head been? Why didn't I think of that? It seems so perfect that her name should be something related to the great aviatrix. (I actually used an old photo of Amelia to get ideas for the bunny's costume and still didn't think of playing off her name.)

So I knew this name was perfect the moment I read it: Amelia Hareart, which was suggested by talented blogger, crafter, quilter, storyteller, finder of vintage treasures, and super duper bunny namer, Tristan Robin Blakeman. If you have not sampled Tristan's blog, I urge you to do so. (Finish reading this post first, please.)

So, Tristan, I will send you an Amelia Hareart sheet so that you can construct your own little bunnyatrix--if you want. But I will also tell you that I have on my work table a couple of boy paper dolls--a badger and a fox--and you are welcome to wait for one of those if you would rather. And thank you so much for the name. It's perfect.

And thanks to all of you who posted suggestions. If I use your name for a future paper doll sheet, I will send you a copy and give you credit.

I will post again today/this evening to let you know how to win a pair of Pea's earrings. I may have to give her a present to make up for my neglect.

Oh, one more thing. I learned from Maddie (skullsonstuff) that there is a steampunk name generator. That's going to come in handy.

10 May 2009

Adventurous little bunny no-name

Please help me name my newly designed little bunnyatrix. I am really pleased with her. She was a happy accident; she originally started out as a pillow, then went through several incarnations and a brainstorming session with Pea. What do you think of her?

I'll be back later with details of a new give-away featuring one of my bunny paper doll sets and a beautiful pair of glass-bead earrings that Pea designed.

In the meantime, please leave a comment or tweet. This adventurous little girl needs a good steampunky name.

P.S. Happy Mothers Day.