Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year, New Directions

So I've had a lot of time to think about where I want to take my art in the upcoming year and while I love to make ornaments, I miss spending the time on the larger pieces. (making all those little guys takes so much time) I will continue to make my little elf doll ornaments, they are ideal for the times when I overuse my thumb smoothing paper clay, but I'm hoping to spend a little more time in 2011 making larger pieces like the White Rabbit and even the Mad Hatter ornament.

Literary characters are actually very intriguing to me. Before I had my wee tot, I used to love to read. Mostly I loved Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, Edgar Allen Poe and the classics. Imagine some of the characters that could be sculpted from, say, "The Great Gatsby". The material is ripe with images. My mind conjures up all sorts of colorful characters as I read.

Old Movies also are intriguing to me. Especially some of the old classic Christmas movies. My first project for next Christmas (or maybe sooner since I just love "It's a Wonderful Life") is "George Lassos the Moon". How cute will that be? A little sculpture of George lassoing the moon. (an engineering challenge also)

Let's not forget Alfred Hitchcock movies (my favorite!) or how about the old Vincent Price movies. (I loved "House of Wax" and "Twice Told Tales"). The "Wizard of Oz", "Sound of Music". the list could go on and on. So many fabulously creative works that could be translated and memorialized in artwork.

And lest we forget about classic TV. Ahhh....the good ole' days. "Bewitched", "The Adaams Family", "Munsters", "I Dream of Jeannie", again the list goes on and on. (and these I can see being one of a kind Christmas ornaments)

The "Twilight Zone", "Outer Limits" and "Tales from the Darkside" would also be cool especially for my other focus in 2011: Dioramas.

It all started when I made the Ice Skater Ornaments and then the "Wizard of Oz" ornaments. I wanted a way to remember them after they sold and my friend, Rebecca from "hoffee and a nuffin", told me she took photos of her finished sock monkeys in different appropriate settings. I loved this idea, and to take it a bit further I decided to create little 'store window displays' that could be hung on your wall or set on a mantle. Just over the top enough to be uber cool. I also hope to delve into cut paper a little more this year and incorporate it into these dioramas. The subject matter could be anything: a scene from a movie, a Christmas window idea I would love to see, even an interpretation of a favorite photograph. The possibilities are endless. I love details and I love drawing but I find I love the challenge of *drawing* three dimensionally. I love the engineering aspect of the creative process. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I engineer something lovely.

I also plan on not doing as many shows next year. I may do one or two if they work into my schedule but this year was too hard when child care fell through at the last minute. It wasn't fair for my little one, customers or me. In 2011, I hope to get my website up and functioning they way I had always planned. To really focus on my Etsy shop until I can do everything from my website.

In the meantime, I plan to organize my studio better than it has ever been organized; to create a workspace instead of a storage space. To destash all of the supplies that I can't see myself using.

On a personal note, I look forward to going back to school in 2011. I hope to get a degree in Mechanical/Electrical Engineering and eventually a Masters in Environmental Engineering. Been brushing up on my mathematic skills (it has been an awfully long time since I had to use those muscles!)

So now I have everything written down so I can reflect on it over the next twelve months.

I wish you all a Very Happy and Prosperous 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy To Be Me

This morning I woke at 7 am, took the beast out for her morning constitutional (watching the bunnies in the neighbor's back yard while she circled looking for just the right spot to do her business).

I have a busy day on tap, I have to catch up on my Christmas cookies as today is the last baking day. (My trays have to be done by tomorrow morning when the husband goes to work.) I have three more types of cookies to make and chocolate mice. As I started prepping for my first batch of cookies, I decided a cup of Chai tea was in order. I started my tea kettle, and pulled out the small sauce pan that I warm my milk and honey in. I went to the fridge and lo and behold, the condiments must have had a wicked thirst. My entire water jug, save for maybe 3/4 of an inch at the very bottom, was emptied into the door and veggie bin. Luckily, I had no cookie dough chilling in the veggie bin (it was actually as empty as my water jug) It may have been a very different story but after cleaning up my mess for over an hour, I realized something about myself.

It's not really a *new* something, I've noticed it before, but I don't think much about my demeanor until I am faced with adversity. Now granted, in the big view of life, a wet fridge isn't much of an adversity. Faced with a full baking schedule, a grumpy three year old that needs tended to and Christmas looming large, it becomes one if you let it. I didn't let it. With my little grump waking up and growling at me, I so wanted to! Instead, I just growled back and told him why I was *so grumpy* and a funny thing happened, we ended up laughing about it and neither one of us stayed grumpy. I'm not one to dwell in misfortune, let's face it, having to clean your refrigerator when you didn't have that on your to do list for the day is a bit of a nuisance and misfortune (the time allotment to clean the fridge just throws things off). To me it really was more of a nuisance. In reality, it did need to be cleaned, although I had planned on doing it after I was done with all my holiday baking. (Weird, I found a three year old does tend to get jelly everywhere on the inside of a fridge or maybe it was my 40 year old husband, either way it needed to be done!) But the good part about being me, is I don't tend to stress, the big stuff or the small stuff. I do stress when everything big comes at me at once (case in point, when my dad was ill and I had just moved to Pennsylvania from Ohio to manage a record store. I felt helpless, like I couldn't do anything) but I have a unique way of relaxing in the midst of chaos. I regain my center and remember what is important. I know, this is healthy behavior, but most of the people I have been around must not be healthy because this same event would have brought many a woman to tears and ruined their day. I laughed, I cursed the condiments in their thirst and I sopped up wayward water. Even better, I taught my little guy that it's okay to be grumpy but it's even better to brush it off, put your head down(as in getting to work) and carry on. And so today, I am very happy to be me.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ah...Technology! (and a Gingerbread Train)

All my shows are done for the year and the selling season is winding down. I have thought a lot about the direction I want to go with my business and will share those thoughts in another post after the holiday. In the meantime, I am jockeying between 2 laptops, my 2 1/2 year old HP and my husband's refurbished (and archaic) Dell. My lovely little machine decided it did not like connecting wirelessly to the Internet but the Dell doesn't have the capabilities to read my memory cards so in order to post anything with photos I have to upload my photos to my HP machine and then copy the photos to a USB thumb drive so that I will have access to my photos on the machine that doesn't have issues with the Internet. To make things even more challenging, my husband has Linux on the Dell machine(which I must admit I like much better than Windows Vista but it does add a layer of complexity to doing anything). I know my laptop is on it's last leg, you just know these things. I will never get another HP, I don't believe in disposable products and it seems that if a laptop only has a 2 1/2 year life span it is just that, disposable. It wasn't cheap either. I knew it would be the only machine I would have (my mother gave it to me as my 40th birthday gift) and so I took extremely good care of it and still it didn't hold up. The next laptop will be something inexpensive and basic then if it lives past 2 1/2 years, I will feel blessed.

Anyway, I thought I would share a few photos of our holiday preparations. This year we made a Gingerbread train from a kit. It was great, easy and fun. I think this will become a yearly event! I'm torn between doing it myself and buying a kit. The kit was super easy and the result was good(although the tray you build it in made the wheels sit too high especially on the caboose. Now I know that the whole thing can be taken out of the tray before decorating though.(it needs to dry for an entire day for the icing to set enough to get it out) I think another year or two of prefab kits may be the best idea for us, it'll get us used to the process and by then G will be old enough to help a little more with the construction. I would love to design something myself but I think I need more experience building in gingerbread before I would be able to execute it (calmly!) Overall, I was pretty happy with our train.

Note: Plenty of coffee and play dough are essential for building a gingerbread train with a 3 year old :o)

Up Next: Halls decked!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

T'is the Season!

For seed and plant catalogs! I absolutely love sitting and leafing(no pun intended)through a small pile of my favorite gardening catalogs. This year I have noticed an obsessive desire to find plants that are distasteful to our neighborhood deer. I'm thinking if I add enough distasteful flowers to my garden beds, interspersed between the tasty ones, that it may help the decimation of my flowers. Of course, I realize I'm deluding myself but I like to think I could be craftier than a deer, just not necessarily a hungry deer! (Above is the "Christmas Carol" Hemerocallis I got last year from Bluestone Perennials and I have yet to see how pretty it could be because the deer chomped down the buds before they could even start to open:o(

I'd like to share my favorite catalogs. I have ordered online from three of them (Bluestone Perennials(it's actually local for me), Select Seeds and Harris Seeds) The others are beautiful but a bit pricey( I did, however, get a Peony from Peony's Envy for a fraction of the price at a Home and Garden show the only down side was storing it so it would survive until planting season. It did make it and hopefully it will bloom this year)

The above two photos are from the Bluestone Perennial catalog/website. I highly recommend them, the quality is superb and the resulting flowers are to die for(at least a neighborhood deer may die for eating them, LOL) Prices seem about average and they have specials throughout the season. I am especially impressed with the daylilies I have purchased from them.

Harris Seeds is a great resource for vegetable and herb seeds and basic flower seeds. I usually get my zinnia seeds from them. You get a nice quantity and they seem to have the best seed prices of all the seed companies I compared. Pretty straightforward, no gourmet veggies that I saw but excellent selection of good old go to varieties.(Customer Service is exceptional!)

Ah, Peony's Envy! This site is eye candy for the peony lover. (they have a catalog/order form you can download and print) So many varieties and so well photographed. Makes me wish I had an estate and unlimited funds so I could create a little piece of heaven! Prices are steep, I'm not sure how they ship from their garden. I know the plant I bought at the show was a small root well packaged but I wouldn't have bought it at the prices they show on their website.

Cooks Garden is a beautiful website and catalog. They have the fancy, gourmet varieties that Harris seeds doesn't have but you'll pay for it! I haven't been enticed enough yet to buy from them but some day they will get me, especially if I start a vegetable garden(a real one not the plant here plant there type that I have been doing lately!)
Buy the fancies here if you must but get the standards at Harris, you'll save quite a bit!

I love Select Seeds. This is where I buy the bulk of my flower seeds. I had much more luck when I started them in the house in late winter than directly outside but that was probably my fault not their quality. I have bought poppies, California poppies, cosmos, hollyhock, sweet peas, zinnias, bronze fennel and more that I can't recall. But everything did well with a very high rate of germination. They also have heirloom varieties of cottage flowers. Can you tell how much I love this catalog and this company?

So there are my favorites and a little insight from me. It just started snowing and already I am thinking gardening. I better put on the brakes lest I miss my favorite snowy season!

:o) Kelly

Monday, December 6, 2010

Some Photos of My Favorite Ornaments

The tree is decorated and, as soon as the husband goes back to work tomorrow, I will finish cleaning up my artistic mess and decorate the rest of the house! Here are a few of my favorite ornaments, including a couple of new ones added this year. I have only one show left this year, on Saturday, and after that I will have a chance to really focus on Christmas festivities and preparations. I'm sure I will have a plethora of photos to share :o)

Pretty Polish Glass Ornaments and the feathered ornament my cats used to like to bat around the house

My little snowman by Linda Silverthorne (above)

My Jingle House and a Gold Glittered Red Ornament (both Made in Poland)

Vintage Santa

Candy Cane ornament made by my sister many years ago

Vintage German Wood Snowman Ornament and the Tin Man's Heart Ornament

Vintage red bird ornament (my mom had these on our childhood Christmas tree)

Little Vintage German Wood Skiing Santa Ornament

Becca Bilas' Gingerbread Boy Ornament (My son's favorite as far as I can tell!)

My son's hand painted ceramic ornament from 2009

My son's hand painted ceramic ornament from 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Please Vote for my *Cheshire Cat* Ornament

From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

"Cheshire-Puss," she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider.

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where---" said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

"---So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.

"Oh you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."


I normally don't enter contests, usually because I believe they involve a lot of luck and well, I really don't usually feel all that lucky :o) This contest, however, involved entering a handmade ornament and that I have a little experience with so I entered. I guess it still involves a bit of luck but it also involves skill and hard work (both of which I'm familiar with) and to my surprise, my *Cheshire Cat* ornament is in the running for this week's Grand Prize. If it wins, I win $1000 and my ornament could be featured in the magazine. I love Better Homes and Gardens! Been reading it since I was a little girl so being featured in BHG, to me, would be the *cat's meow*, so to speak. So, shameless request for a vote here, I would be so grateful if you could vote for my Cheshire Cat and if you feel so inclined to share this with your family and friends. I know a lot of my blog readers also read my Facebook page and profile so I apologize to those of you who have been inundated with this there also, I'm trying to reach as many friends and followers as possible in the most unobtrusive way. :o)

Thank You All for taking the time to read this and for voting!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My *Holiday* Shop is Stuffed!

I have listed almost everything I have made for this season into my *Holiday* shop and I am having a special
(and this truly is *special* because I only do a store wide event once or twice a year!)

From today, November 28th through Friday, December 3rd, 9PM:
  • *Free First Class* postage on all purchases within the United States
  • Spend $50 or more and receive *Free Priority Shipping* within the United States
  • International Buyers: receive *10% off* your entire purchase (contact me for coupon code)
I do have a few more pieces, mostly angels and elves, that will be finished up before the end of the week and will be included in the special.

:o) Kelly

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Junior League's Children's Holiday Palooza

Sometimes you do shows and you don't sell much but they are still worth the time and effort. The Junior League's Children's Holiday Palooza was one of those events for me. Sure, selling out would have been nice but sometimes you just need to get your work out there and get exposure. (Plus, I would have been in a world of hurt if I sold everything since I have two more shows in short succession!)

This event was basically a brunch with Santa, it was day three of fund raising events for the Junior League, and the only one that included the kids. As a matter of fact it was the one built around the little one's. The kids ate brunch, got to decorate cookies and make Christmas cards, shop in the Twigbee shop and meet Kris Kringle and Twigbee the bear. While all this was going on parents could shop the tables.

The best part for me was the look on all the little one's faces when they walked past my table, little fingers grasping retro Christmas lights and joyfully smiling at little elf ornaments. I do consider them my target audience (them and the rest of us folks that are young at heart!:o)

[the other highlight was being able to experience the Silver Grille in the old Higbee's building. Note the well appointed ladies restroom! (below) Love those stainless steel pendant lights!! Sorry, I didn't take photos of the marble stalls, LOL]

OH! I did find that I need to take my tot downtown to see the last decorated storefront window at the old Higbee's site. It's not much but it made my heart skip a beat when I saw it :o)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More WIP

You can always tell when I have an upcoming show, all of my projects reach completion at the same time and I have a plethora of new finished work to show. It is what it is :o) I don't think I would be able to make as many pieces if I worked any other way. Now back to work I go! I still have those pesky Christmas lights and price tags and some more snowmen....