Thursday, December 29, 2011

Art Imitates Life---A Creative New Year to YOU!

Do you think the designer was hungry when they designed this airport stairwell? Creatives are the coolest! May you be surrounded by an abundance of fun and cool creative beings in 2012!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feeding my Beadiction

I don't know what it is about beads, but I found out I love working with them very late in life. I found that out about writing, too, about ten years ago. I guess there are so many art forms to explore anymore that you may not even know you love something until you take it for a test drive. A great class of beading skills I just took for a test drive was a bead embroidery class with Leonie Hartley-Hoover.
These photos are a couple of samples of techniques we learned in class. She is fun to talk with on the class forum. She has a very rich life of experiences and a wealth of bead knowledge and skills. My fave thing is she's into bead abuse...and flower abuse. She encouraged getting those beads to do what you want them to do by coaxing them all over the place until they behave. She also beats flowers to dye fabric, but not in this bead embroidery class. These forms of abuse don't require restraining orders...just a love of art.
The bottom photo is dedicated to Leonie's "bead abuse"philosophy. There's a larger piece assignment in class and I'm currently in a love-hate relationship with mine....that's abuse too. I design all I do with this love-hate thing going on, so it's just part of the process. It just makes the project take a little longer. I hope to be able to post it when it's complete.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Art and Soul-Portland

 I have always wanted to experience the Art and Soul Retreat I've heard about for years. I also adore Portland, OR, so I spent weeks making "trades" (little gifties that attendees can stop and trade with you) and I also spent intense time creating a hat for their hat contest. I packed mostly art supplies and very few clothes, knowing I'm going to inherit huge amounts of swag and souvenirs and that my clothes are going to get art goo on them anyway.

I had the immense honor of taking the Charm Buffet class with Peggy Kryzyzewski. It was an entire day of nonstop charm skill learning and creation. I did not want it to end! Each charm we learned how to create was more exciting than the last. Peggy is on my life list of incredible instructors. She has the gift. She made us all feel like family and at home being who we are. Her enthusiasm was contagious and her creativity outrageous! So generous with her info and help. And I was blessed to sit next to her class assistant, Kia, who was so very helpful to everyone and made helping us top priority. Both Peggy and Kia are such experts at what they do!
This is a class photo that lovely fellow classmate Melinda is allowing me to post. Please check out her wonderful blog Melinda's blog This was Rogene Manas' Rogene's site way ultra cool Human Nature Relief class. It was well worth traveling across the nation to learn from Rogene! Everyone in the class was so gifted and friendly as well. The pieces everyone created were gorgeous! I was so into this class that I didn't bother to eat lunch. The art fed me.

Here is another photo Melinda let me post. Right after I overheard a conversation how gesso can be removed with alcohol if it spills, I got some on my fave Andy Warhol tee shirt. I have accumulated such a wardrobe of "studio outfits" since I've dedicated to the art world.

This was the hat contest. The theme was garden, but I asked beforehand and was told we could do any theme we wished. I had garden designs I drew in my ideabook, but the one that begged me most to be created was the city/country theme. It was a metaphor for what I'm going through accepting making art creation a business.

I spent hours needle felting, machine quilting and baking polymer buildings for the city in the front half of this hat. The city represents the business side of art. I have many dreams at night of cities and it's always symbolizing business. On the back I quilted and needle felted mountains. This symbolizes the solitude of the creative process.

 I put a road block of road work and construction workers around the back. I made signs for the road workers out of shrink plastic. In design school we were always reminded to keep the back of the piece interesting too. The road block represents the artist blocks I get when I know I'm creating something to exhibit out in the world. The stars, the moon, and the windows in the city (and on the hat ties) all glow in the dark. This piece was way not fun to take on the plane arriving or returning. On flights, it doesn't matter if it's has to fit under the seat which caused several sessions of having to fix broken parts coming and going on the trip. It was also stepped on and bumped into a number of times. I didn't win any category of the contest, but I gave myself the 'Most Challenging Traveling with Hat Across the Nation' award by buying a "vintage outfit" which I rarely do because it usually gets covered in paint or art goo with this artsy lifestyle.

                                         Here are the contest winners:
Best in Show--Mary Ellen Schree

Mostly likely to be Worn in the Garden--Peg Glyndenege

                                      Most Fitting of Theme on the left--Maureen Conway.
                             The one on the right won Most Original Design---Angela Thoma.
                                       Here is another photo of the display of contest entries.
                                With street statues like this---is it no wonder I adore Portland?
Portlanders were so helpful in helping me find my way around the city to explore. Two women on the street car highly recommended going to Savvy Plus. I am now a huge fan of this shop and owner and recommend it highly as well. It has way way super cool outfits. And this wonderful lady, Gaya, owns and runs the shop. She makes each customer feel so welcome and important. She was so fun to talk with! This is where I purchased a cool outfit prize for "Most Challenging Traveling with Hat Across the Nation" self-proclaimed award.

I had such a special time in Portland. It's one of the coolest cities on the planet. Portlanders are a special breed of friendly people. And I was so impressed of the top notch instruction, students, and experience of Art and Soul. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ready for Take-Off!

This month over 300 classmates and I finished up our Flying Lessons. Of course, I'm not talking about the kind that is portrayed in this photo (snapped while on a flight home in this teeny prop plane)...but I'm talking about the course and ebook created by Kelly Rae Roberts, Flying Lessons.

 Though the class doesn't require any flying of has that same taking off and going beyond fear to get to the results feeling because it is still about learning to fly beyond that queasy feeling of facing the unknown.

Kelly explains some of the major social media methods and current marketing skills in an understandable way while also sharing her stories and experiences, so that even people like me can understand them! And there is a whole class of students to help each other through the turbulence and applaud the clear skies.

Just like the photo here...with all those meters and controls....there is a huge amount to handle. And I'm not going to lie....some of the procedures can blow a whole day to get least for someone of my computer knowledge level.
I must admit though....I do feel like more of a pilot in my creative business already.

Kelly teaches this course once a year and also sells the ebook version separately. If you want to check it out find the badge that says, "Flying Lessons" on the sidebar of this blog. I've taken a lot of business courses and this is one that is well worth the investment.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Giving up Earthquakes and Hurricanes to CREATE

I took a break from the earthquakes and hurricanes to attend CREATE retreat in Chicago. I love meeting people in person who I've gotten to know online. Jane LaFazio is a most wonderful instructor! To meet her in person was such a treat! She is such a sweetheart! And I just love her new blue locks! 

 I enjoy studying energy....and Jane really blew me away with her abundance of energy and sweetness. You have to admire how an instructor can create art, run online classes while giving each student quality attention, travel and teach in retreats all over the nation and world, sell in the market (I'm now the proud owner of a fabulous Jane LaFazio sketch!), keep up with all the social media, run a blog, make instructional DVDs, write articles, have a wonderful marriage, raise kitties, do yoga, take classes with others, etc. and walk the planet with such warmth, generosity, and energy! Jane is a walking role model of why we must do what we love!

Speaking of energy... I thought taking a photo of the room the CREATE market was to be held in before it actually happened would show what the energy of CREATE vendors and attendees bring to a plain, empty room.

The market was buzzing with artistas of all kinds and vendors with their inspiring, diverse treasures.

Here are Ty and Marcia Schultz at the market... proudly posing with their new addition to the "family."

Here Ty pours a mold for my Mom (as Frida Kahlo watches from his shirt) in the mold making class he and Marcia taught.

The mold making class had that Christmas Morning feel as we all excitedly waited for our molded pieces to harden.
Now I'm back home and playing with molds and practicing the cool copic marker skills I learned from Joanne Sharpe. 
While nature and the world out there are doing what they do....there is nothing cooler than being around creatives and trying on new skills together and taking in the energy of people who love what they do.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The End of Heartless Experimenting

Years ago, in fashion design school, I took a fabric dying class. It was so much fun!
The dyes we used in that class used some very toxic chemicals, so we had to wear masks and gloves to not breathe in or touch the substances or dye our hands.
I used to love coming to class the next day after dying some samples the day before. It was like opening surprise gifts on Christmas morning!  If we liked how one of our samples turned out...our instructor usually had us take our sample and use what we learned to make a larger garment or project. She had a strict rule that if we used a heart shape in any project we would fail the assignment! I guess she just saw one too many heart designs used by students.

On Indy Day I decided to play with natural dyes. Though I know coffee and other natural substances can stain teeth...I'm not sure how dyefast they are without some kind of additive to make them permanent. But, I just wanted to experiment and see what edible items I had around the house that would actually dye something. 
I dyed some white wool my Mom had given me long ago to experiment with.  
I plucked many cherries off my cherry tree before the birds did.

                                   I boiled the wool in the cherries with a little water on the stove.

I also had a cup of very strong coffee I never finished and I dunked a clump of white wool into that as well.

I let the wool sit for a whole 24 hours in the cherry and coffee dyebaths.

Then, I decided to allow these experiments to dry naturally by putting them on some overgrown weeds in the yard to dry. That's what I love about can turn weeds into a useful tool. In fact, that's how I love to coach too...shifting perspectives to turn something that may look grim into something very useful

Here are the dried wool strands laying out in the sun.
I haven't worked with natural dyes, so I didn't know what substance to add so the wool samples would be washable. So, I decided to use these wool strands on something I'd never wash like a tag.

I added a nice little yarn I sell in my shop along with the natural dyed wool strands to brighten things up a little. I dedicate this tag to my fabric dying instructor!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Getting back into shape

You know how when you stop working's very hard to get back into that ritual? Well, I find sketching the same way! If you don't keep practicing consistently, your eye loses that distinct way of seeing, while your hand forgets how to be patient and follow every line your eye is caressing.

Fortunately, Jane La Fazio's latest DVD, From Art Journaling to Art, inspires the viewer to try some tasty complete-it-in-one-sitting sketches. She also adds her flair for creative borders that make the sketch take on a personality all its own. Plus she adds some techniques from her mixed media class to take your sketching to a new level. I'm very happy with this informative DVD. I've taken some of Jane's classes online and this DVD brings the online classwork full circle by allowing you to actually watch Jane demonstrate those Jane techniques we learned from online class hand outs.
I'm not only back working out after getting out of the loop for a while, but now because of this DVD, I'm getting my sketching back in shape again as well. Bravo, Jane!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Keeping up with the cool tools....

I often wonder how much fun Mozart would've had composing on a computer....or how  Emily Dickenson would've felt if she had online forums and classes to run or take part in. What would DaVinci have done with a Wii? Or Michaelangelo....what great works would he create with an ipad?
The endless new inventions keep us at the edge of our seat with new ways of approaching our mediums.
I have to thank Jane LaFazio for teaching us so many cool things! I've been addicted to her classes lately. She so changed my life by introducing us to the Niji Waterbrush (among many other things.)
The world is a sketch opportunity and a Niji waterbrush is loaded with water and all set to paint messy spills during travel. It's also yet another way (besides knitting) to never have to be stuck "waiting"for detained travel, friends, or appointments.
You can see this artist was very intrigued with this brush when I showed it to him. It froze him into a state of wonder. It did the same to me when Jane taught us to sketch and paint with it.
It has been quite the trip observing the eras I've experienced and how incredible tools have become when it comes to opening up new opportunities. I still can only imagine what the Great Masters would've done if they had the cool tools and software opportunities we have today....and I'm grateful to them for laying the foundation for these tools to exist today.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I've had a fascination with beads and buttons from childhood. While my Mom was sewing, I would play with her buttons and create all kinds of worlds with them. To this day, I adore creating worlds with beads and buttons in whatever medium they will fit into. Here's a one sock wonder from a Lily Chin design I tried out with "seconds yarn" and some tasty beads I bought at a Stitches convention once. I actually have no intention of knitting the other sock. I just wanted to see the instructions manifested, so I'm happy with the one. It's now an official practice sock to take the experience to new places.
My dad was an architect. I find sock design so very similar to how he'd design buildings...with different levels and design interests. I kind of like perceiving socks in that way....little buildings for the feet! Imagine the possibilities if you see them in that way. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fresh off the Needle Runway....

I just ordered these for my shop. I love fresh ideas! I love my Denise needle set too. It's a staple when traveling because all the needles are there and even when a part or a needle gets left behind, they are inexpensive to replace. Now they've added more needle tip sizes and color options to the sets. There's also a new set for knitters who want all their crochet needles along with them at the same time. Any tool that opens up more possibilities finds a welcoming home in my shop.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hoodarfs Hit the 'Hood

This week, NY Fashion Week introduced the Hoodarf...a combo of hoody and scarf. I'm bracing myself to start hearing customers ask for knit patterns to make Hoodarfs. The closest thing to a Hoodarf that I've designed is this hoody for a dog friend of mine who hates cats. But, I think I want to call that an Arfhoody.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

First UFO Sighting of 2011

Starting off New Year's resolutions with the "UFO (Unfinished Object) of the Month Club." This month's UFO is a Debbie Bliss tunic knit in a milk yarn ( I offer both the instructions and many colors of milk yarn in my shop.) I was testing out both the instructions and the yarn. I adore the drape of this yarn and the softness of it. I also love when people talk to you when you're knitting with milk yarn in public....the reactions are priceless! Always a conversation piece when you knit something out of milk yarn. (One five year old wanted to taste my knitting.)
Do you know how fun it is to knit a sweater on small needles out of beige yarn? This is why this was at the top of the UFO list. It helped to call the color of the yarn by it's real name....Latte. So, it's off to other UFOs. It's too nice a feeling to complete one to stop. I wish you many completions of UFOs this year.