29 January 2011

Art Bead Scene::Brown River

"The whole world, as we experience it visually, comes to us through the mystic realm of color."  ~Hans Hoffman

A few years ago I discovered the Art Bead Scene and the monthly jewelry challenges inspired by a work of art. I would be remiss if I didn't give credit where credit is due: Heather Powers and the whole Art Bead Scene crew were the inspiration behind my solo art exhibit at Gallery Q last summer called "Inspired by..." using local artists for the inspiration, and bead artists (many discovered through the Art Bead Scene) for the components.

I love the challenges, particularly because they are challenges. Sometimes some of my challenge pieces have turned out so well that I have sold them, or better yet, had them accepted for publication. So if you are on the fence about participating in artistic challenges, I would say go for it!

Last year with my preparations for my show I was really a slacker with my participation on Art Bead Scene. This year I have no excuse and I plan to enter all 12 challenges. That's my plan. Now you all have to keep me honest with that.

The January inspiration painting really lit the ABS community on fire. I saw so many hopping on board and getting excited. And how could you not when you see the vibrancy of the challenge inspiration painting by Wayne Thiebaud.
{Brown River by Wayne Thiebaud}

From the Art Bead Scene website:

About the Art
"River-delta views from the Sacramento area, cityscapes from San Francisco and beach scenes from Southern California, no matter the subject, these works uniformly attest to the artist’s ability to sensuously manipulate pigment and capture clear light and vibrant color. It is this technical virtuosity, along with the artist’s tongue-in-cheek humor and ability to capture the realities of our place in time, that have helped to make Thiebaud a uniquely American painter."

About the Artist
Wayne Thiebaud (born Mesa, Arizona, November 23, 1920) is an American painter whose most famous works are of cakes, pastries, boots, toilets, toys and lipsticks. His last name is pronounced "Tee-bo." He is associated with the Pop art movement because of his interest in objects of mass culture, however, his works, executed during the fifties and sixties, slightly predate the works of the classic pop artists. Thiebaud uses heavy pigment and exaggerated colors to depict his subjects, and the well-defined shadows characteristic of advertisements are almost always included in his work. 
His family moved to Long Beach, California when he was six months old. One summer during his high school years he apprenticed at the Walt Disney Studio. He earned a degree from Sacramento State College in 1941. From 1938 to 1949, he worked as a cartoonist and designer in California and New York and served as an artist in the United States Navy.

{Sunny Sacramento}

My inspiration was the bright patchwork of  color. And I had the perfect pendant from Jennifer Heynen of Jangles. I took my pendant and a copy of the painting with me on a shopping trip to Michaels and found some speckled coral pink sponge coral rondelles and lime green mother of pearl coins for color. I also lucked out and found these really sweet new components that are loose wire coils that have what looks like dripped enamel on them, and antique copper chain for the brown river, both from the Industrial Chic line. I also added some bright blue wood coin beads and made a galvanized steel wire clasp in the angular shape of the river. Since the artist, Wayne Thiebaud focused his paintings on Southern California, I called this one 'Sunny Sacramento.'

Available in my Etsy shop here.

Does this painting grab you? What does it remind you of?
Check out the other entries in the Flickr site here.

28 January 2011

Choices & Chances

"Some choices hold you down.
Some chances set you free."
author, singer-songwriter, inspirationalist

I first read these words over a year ago. I think that they were on the chalkboard of quotes at my coffee shop, Emy J's. I scribbled it down on a piece of paper and propped it up on the dashboard of my car. I read these words every single day.

I recognize that we are the sum total of the choices that we make. Oftentimes our choices force us to miss out on a chance that may set us free. And sometimes those things that we see as the next big opportunity can have dangerous barbs that are not seen on the surface until we delve deeper into them. I have had much experience with both extremes in the past year.

Today, my office mate of 9 1/2 years is spending her last day here. She is a fine person who has been given a great chance to move across the country. I am sorry that she is leaving, but I know that this is the perfect chance to set herself free and reinvent herself anew. I am reliving the ups and downs of our time together, like potluck roommates in college. You never know what you are going to get. You might not always get along or enjoy each others' taste in music or their personal habits. But you come to rely on that person always being there for you, sharing laughter and tears together. She has done so much for this small office that I work in. It seems like an insurmountable challenge to live up to her standards. My room will be lonely without her.

Yet another part of me is feeling very selfish.

Back in November I elected to cut back one day a week at this job and a corresponding pay cut. I did this with the understanding that I would eventually have the chance to cut back more days until I was truly part time here and full-time doing what I know I am meant to do. My greatest goal has been to have daylight hours to create and work on my own business growth. So I set it up to have two half days a week as a trial. I have come to realize that this isn't working. Instead of getting 4 hours each 1/2 day to work on my business, I really only get 2 1/2. I have to pick up the kids after school and get them where they needed to go. Two and a half hours is not much time to start a new project or get much of anything done. But still, it is something. And so I challenged myself to really have a FOCUS (my word of the year) each week. And that is working. Sort of.

When this news of her departure was released, I felt immediately elated for her, and deflated for me. I want to be so happy for her, but I find myself fighting back tears as I write this because it is bringing out a selfishness that I hate giving into. I predicted that her leaving would not usher in a new colleague to share my space, but restructure everything so that the essential duties would be re-distributed and absorbed, mostly by me. So that means that while I will still be working this one less day a week, I will be taking on the majority of duties for a very essential member of our small staff. And while I know that there is a chain of back-ups for me, I don't feel very confident that this will be effective at all.

Unfortunately, I predicted correctly.

And I am understandably overwhelmed at this moment.

I alternate between the confidence I can do this (because I have to), and the crippling depression that I can't do this (because I just don't want to). I struggle with the knowledge that the more duties I have means the more I have to be here, which in turn translates into the less of a chance there is for me to leave and do what I am called to do. This struggle to keep it all locked inside and show a brave front is making me sick on the inside, and quite grouchy on the outside. I am starting to feel that I will never be able to leave this place. Well, at least not gracefully.

And to complicate matters, my parents are part of the ownership of the company I work for. But they are in a warm, sunny retirement sort of place, they don't read my blog (or even know what a blog is), and while they support me and think I make pretty things, they are essentially clueless as to what is really important to me or even believe that I can do what I want to do and make a life at it.

I feel stuck.

My life is framed by the choices that I have made
...the choice to stay in this job for 15 years which is about 12 years too long because I am loyal to a fault;
...the choice of taking two half days because I thought it would be the least disruptive for the rest of my colleagues, but turns out to be the least productive for me;
...the choice to open an Etsy site, but then dwindling chances to populate it and promote it so that it can be all that it can be and just flounders around at the whims of the ocean that is Etsy;
and defined by the chances that I take
...the chance I created to offer a semi-custom order to a large dance studio to expose my name and designs to 300 potential buyers;
...the chance to offer a bit of my soul in components that I hope to release to Etsy in February;
...the chance to mount a solo exhibit at the Gallery Q last summer that was one of their most successful yet and sparked a spin-off exhibit this spring;
...the chance to be juried into a popular local art show, and even if I don't get selected, I will have a better understanding of the process and a new booth design to build on;
...the chance to hop on an airplane and fly to an art retreat to recharge my creative soul and make new friends (I am really hoping that I can make this happen! But again, I don't know if I will be allowed the time away).

I suppose that this might be a choice or chance sort of moment for me. We all have them. We are faced with a situations and decisions that can take us down a path that we didn't expect to be on, sort of like those Choose Your Own Adventure books that were so popular in the 80s, where you read the story and then are faced with a dilemma. What will you choose? And each choice leads to another. (I admit that cheated. I always kept one hand in the page before and read ahead to see where each choice would lead me before committing to the consequence of my choice. And it always ended too soon on a note that I was dissatisfied with.) I suppose that is human nature with choices... you want the benefit of hindsight and the ability to change your mind if it doesn't quite work out.

{Charming mixed media art print by my new favorite ArtByErinLeigh on Etsy}
So it sucks for me this moment I find myself mired in. But I am sure that I am not the only one who faces choice and chance each day, and I am not looking for pity or pump-ups or even understanding. It is my crossroads to navigate. That chance where I got one toe out the door may be fading, or perhaps this turn of events will make me work harder at making sure that the whole foot and then the rest of me follows. Either way I know that if there is a way out of this deep hole, I am the only one who can find it. If it is not up and out, then perhaps I will have to dig an escape tunnel. And start living and truly believing that motto at the top of my page.

Your turn...
Does that quote resonate with you?
What choices are holding you down?
What chances are setting you free?
When you are faced with good fortune for someone, does it ever sting you just a little?
How are you daring to disturb the Universe today?
Do tell!

P.S. Thank you to all my dear and lovely and varied followers for all the love that you have shown me. It means the world to me that you come and take the time to not only read through my oh-so-rambling posts, but that you take the time to leave such insightful comments. It seems that my format is something that you would like to see continue, with the quotes and the questions framing the meat of each post, as well as the sprinklings of personal glimpses and creative projects that I am working on with things like the Random Acts of Wisdom, Lyrics to Love and 30 Words. It is so gratifying to know that what I have to say has sparked so many thoughtful and delightful comments. If I could invite you all to a party, you know I would. It would be one heck of a cocktail hour! So thank you hardly seems like enough...

P.P.S. But a good way to thank you is to give you the chance to win something! The last chance to enter the 501 (and counting!) giveaway is on Monday, January 31st just by leaving a comment on this post (you don't even have to follow me!).

26 January 2011

Valentine's Day Sale for My Mom Pattie

"Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come
~ Chinese Proverb 


Marsha Neal creates the most beautiful ceramic components for those of us who create jewelry to play with. Along with richly detailed pendants and charms, Marsha has a great eye for color, pattern and texture. She also sells amazingly lovely dyed silk cords.

When her mother Pattie died of leukemia in September 2007, Marsha was not content to sit idly by. She came up with the idea to gather some artists to make jewelry using her components for sale in a special Etsy shop - My Mom Pattie - to raise funds to donate a room to "My Mom Pattie" at the Tri-State Bird Rescue (DE) annex project. Pattie loved feeding, providing habitat for wildlife in her garden, and especially loved watching the birds. With the help from your purchases, there will be a permanent place in her memory where sick or injured birds can be taken care of.

{"Leatherbound Bloom" for sale at My Mom Pattie}
I remember when I first heard of this idea about a year ago. I wanted to offer my assistance to Marsha but I didn't have an Etsy site. That was a requirement to participating. She invited me to come back when I did. So this fall, after I launched my Etsy site, I got back in touch with Marsha to put my offer out there again.

At the end of last year I finally got a chance to participate in this worthy cause by donating a piece that I made called "Leatherbound Bloom." This was one of the pieces I made for my first Challenge of Color blog hop using a stunning midnight blue bloom, banded agate rounds and leather cord. I have more pieces to make for this shop {as soon as I finish tackling these tax records. Ugh.}, but for now, this is what I have to offer.

But besides my one piece, there are stunning submissions from some pretty talented people: Mary Jane Dodd, Lorelei Eurto, and Jenny Davies Reazor. I know I have my eye on a few pieces! I hope you will consider hopping on over to the My Mom Pattie shop and picking up a little Valentine's gift for yourself or someone you love.

Save 20% off your purchase price
using the code MMP20
from January 28-31, 2011. 

Go make a difference and shop!

Enjoy the day!


{These things are all very beautiful to me!}

“Things are beautiful if you love them.”
~ Jean Anouilh

What things are you loving today?
Are they beautiful because you love them? Or do you love them because they are beautiful?
Have you ever loved something that others have felt was not so filled with beauty?
Do tell!

Enjoy the day!

P.S. Don't forget to leave a comment on this post by 1/31/11 to be entered to win your choice of bead swag or custom made jewelry as my thank you to all who love to stop by here, whether you follow me or not!

24 January 2011


"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."
- Anais Nin 

I have been waiting for this day to come, but could hardly believe that it could.

It all started innocently enough a bit more than 2 years ago. I thought that I would write because that is what I felt called to do. I would share experiences and projects, focus on finding inspiration and using your creativity to make the world a better place. I would try to challenge others as I would challenge myself with questions posed to stir the mind and words written to touch the soul.

I always vowed that even if no one came by to read, I would still write. I was doing this for me. 

Interestingly enough, people did come to read what I had to say. And they stayed. That is a totally humbling and nerve-wracking experience. On the one hand, I cannot believe that what I have to say is something others would care about. And on the other hand, I am now trying hard to write what others might like to read. And comment on. And care about. But I still seek to retain my own sense of style and the fact that what I am writing I am actually feeling and living and puzzling out for myself. So it is as much about everyone else as it is about me.

Do you know that feeling of elation when someone new pops up on the radar of your blog? It makes me feel like Sally Field when she won her Oscar {"You like me! You really like me!"}. I can still remember giddiness over that first follower. And I cherish every new one that I get. I take time to look at each new name. I see their thumbnail snapshot and wonder where they are in the world. Sometimes I wonder how can we connect if their profile is in a language that I cannot read. If I can, I hop on over to their side of the street and visit their little world. Always, I say a little prayer for the person who just stopped by, to wish them well, to encourage them to make their presence felt with a comment. I know that it is not always possible, but I always hope that this follower might become a new friend who knows more and feels more and shares more. And at times I have been very blessed with this exact wish coming true.

I remember a time when I would pick up a new follower with each new post. That made me want to post more, without breaking the promise to myself to only post when I felt I had something to say, and not to post every day just for the sake of posting. That would be stale to me. And if it isn't fun for me, then it won't be fun to read. 

Odd, but I found that when I didn't post, I would actually get a follower or two. So maybe posting less often is a good thing to give readers time to catch their breath from all the words that I sling at them ;-)

I really don't know how I got to this milestone. I am not sure where you are coming from, but I am so glad you are here. While I do write this mostly for myself, you have no idea how much I learn about myself and my place in this world through your comments. They are insightful. They are deep and lasting. They give me so much to think about. I try my best to respond, I know I have been slow of late, but I want you to know that each comment really does make a difference to me. And the depth of your comments tells me that you are really paying attention. That I am encouraging you to think and expand your world.That makes me happier than you know! Because it wouldn't be a conversation without everyone realizing that they have a unique voice and that they should use it.

So, thank you. From the bottom of my heart. And since most of my followers are fellow beaders, that makes it all the more sweet, to be surrounded by all the peers that make me so proud to be part of this community.

I want to give back to all of you. What better way to celebrate than to give something away?

[A treasure trove!}

I have been planning and gathering this for some time. Included in this 501 giveaway:
  • Jolee's Jewels hand tools: round nose pliers, chain nose pliers, bent nose pliers, specialty pliers, tweezers+scoop.
  • Easy Ear Wire creator
  • Jolee's Jewels components: crystallized components including connectors, links, sliders, earring posts, chain bracelet base, cross pendant, chain tassel set, apple
  • Books: Amulets & Talismans, Robert Dancik; Simply Modern Jewelry, Danielle Fox; Create Jewelry: Pearl, Marlene Blessing & Jamie Hogsett; Creating Wire & Beaded Jewelry, Linda Jones; Beadazzled, Penelope Diamanti; Stringing Style 2,  Jean Campbell (This is one of my first and favorite books ever...the one that I said to myself that someday I wanted to be in one of these!)
  • Beads and components from my stash: Vintaj & Arte Metal; Lampwork: Cindy Gimbrone, Jamie Stvan, Pretty Babies from Sara Sally LeGrand, Julianna Cannon of Julsbeads; Ceramic: Lisa Peters Art, Mary Harding, Chinook, Round Rabbit, Earthenwood Studios, Elaine Ray, Gaea; Lilly Pilly shell pendants; Polymer clay: Humblebeads, Christine Damm, Pam Wynn, Lynn Davis; More Skye Jewels wood tiles; my very own pendants/charms, both mixed media resin and some of my new 'simple truths' polymer clay pendants.
Who knows? I might even be inclined to throw in a few mystery goodies as well!

But wait! I hear some of you out there saying...I am not a beader. I don't know what I would do with all that incredible stuff. Well, leave a comment as well. Because I feel inclined to share a piece of jewelry with those that follow me, no matter who you are. In fact, if you are the lucky random winner chosen on January 31st, then I will give you the option of which you would prefer... a box chock full o' swag, or a necklace designed by me featuring one of my new 'simple truths' pendants customized just for you. 

{Just a few of the pendants I have made in the past few weeks - what would yours say?}
How do you win? It is as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Be sure to leave your email (or better yet, turn on your email in your profile so I can respond to your comment directly!)
  2. Tell me which you would prefer... swag or jewelry.
  3. Leave whatever additional comment you would like to leave, such as:
  • Tell me what made you become a follower.
  • Tell me why you stay a follower. 
  • Share your favorite quote or word or your power mantra with me. 
  • Ask me a question that you are dying to know. 
  • Suggest a topic for me to write about.
  • Or just say hello. 

So, what are you waiting for? You don't have to jump through hoops, or stand on your head or tell another living soul. Just leave me a comment on this post so that I know you were here by January 31st for your chance to win {and yes, I would love to hear from you no matter where in the world you are because if you are prepared to follow me from across the globe, I am prepared to mail you this package, no matter the cost ;-}

Thank you and you and you... for being my followers, whether you are number 1, 11, 281, 441, or 501. You are each special in my eyes.

Enjoy the day!

21 January 2011

Open Doors

"Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door." ~ Emily Dickinson
I am delighted to announce that the lovely Miss Melanie of Earthenwood Studio invited me to be a part of her Earthenwood Studio Design Team. 

Each month she will be providing us with some beady goodness and challenging us to come up with a design.  This month's theme is "Cabin Fever." 

Melanie makes some extraordinary ceramic components and focals that I absolutely love for their cleverness and wit as much for their detail and beauty. For the "Cabin Fever" theme she sent us each a Lumber toggle and a Lumber round links with this great wood grain in them. Additionally, she sent us each a different house pendant.

I started with the wood grain pieces. I decided to channel a childrens book that we used to read called "The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig" by Helen Oxenbury. It is the funniest twist on the traditional tale with some absolutely charming illustrations by Eugene Trivizas. 

The little wolves construct their houses out of all sorts of things to bar the mean ol' pig from gaining access, including riveted steel, but the Pig manages to blow them all up - literally. In the end the little wolves build a house made of flowers which calms ol' Big Bad down. They invite him to tea and realize that they have misjudged the Pig as Big and Bad and they all live together in harmony. 

I call this "Sticks, Bricks and Straw" in those industrious little wolves' honor. I had the Czech glass brick beads but I had a bit of a dilemma with the straw. After a $97 trip to Michaels {oh yeah...I found more than I went in for! Did you know that the Bead Gallery is all 40% off right now? And 40% is close to 50% and that is good enough for me!} I found what was called waxed cotton cord in a lovely straw color. Unfortunately, it was too big to go through my bricks {note to self: bring beads with next time}. So in desperation at the last minute {because I was determined to have this done last night!}, I wrapped some jump rings with the cord and tied it in a knot. I think that I need to add one little detail to this... a little flower bead!

{Sticks, Bricks & Straw}

My pendant piece from Melanie looked like a weathered piece of an old paneled door. So that made me think of keys {of course!}. I have just started making my own pendants and charms that I am preparing to sell on my Etsy site very soon and I had one made that fit this theme perfectly. 

I call these 'simple truths :: modern wisdom' pendants. They are made from polymer clay with painted details. But what is really special about them are the words. Words are so important to me. They can encourage or discourage in one fell swoop. I try very hard to choose the encouraging side of the equation. These one-of-a-kind pendants act as a powerful mantra to hold close to your heart. The simple truth on this one says  
"open doors for others" 
to remind me that I find it so very satisfying to help others to grow to beyond the limits they set for themselves to all that is possible.

{Open Doors For Others~
Click to enlarge!}

Vintaj products seem to go so well with Melanie's glazes, so I used the etched chain and jump rings as well as a stamped keyhole and a little key that I turned into a toggle bar with a vintage brass square to echo the shape of the ceramic pendant. I also mixed in some of my favorite twisted bar links from the Industrial Chic line paired with cracked fire agate rounds and brecciated jasper rondelles and one solitary faceted smoky quartz {truly one of my very favorite stones to work with}.

This particular 'simple truths' pendant is double sided, because versatility is how I roll. There is a skeleton key on the back. In order to wear this reversible pendant, I needed to jazz up the simple black back of Melanie's pendant. I found a copper toned square filigree in the stash that fit the back perfectly. I roughed up some brass gears from Rings & Things and then grunged them a bit with alcohol inks and a heat gun. Punched a few holes and layered them with a copper brad to give the effect of an ornate door knocker.

Just looking at the list of participants in the Earthenwood Studios Design Team makes me have to pinch myself because they are each so very different and so very talented! I admire each of them for the unique flavor that they bring to the beading community. Do check out their blogs to see what they have created.

Andrew Thornton
Gaea Cannaday
Denise Yezbak Moore
Erin Siegel
Heather Powers
Lorelei Eurto
 Lori Anderson
Jean Yates
Marie Dodd 

To me, opening doors for others means that you have to be willing to share which is a risk. You hold that door open for other ideas to flow through that might not be what you expected. But in so doing, you open yourself up to unexpected joys as well.

Thank you, Melanie for opening a door to your Design Team to me and for trusting each of these talented people to make great things. We hope they bring you unexpected joy as well.

Items mentioned in this post credited to Earthenwood Studio were provided as a promotional gift as part of the Earthenwood Design Team. These items are for review or design purposes. Thank you, Melanie!

Your turn...
If you were a little wolf bullied by a big bad pig, what material would you create your house with?
Have you ever misjudged someone because of their behavior only to find out that they were much different than you once thought? 
What doors have you opened for others lately? 
What doors have others opened for you?
Do tell!

Enjoy the day!

19 January 2011

The Art of the Card

"A brand is not a product or a promise or a feeling. It's the sum of all the experiences you have with a company."
~ Amir Kassaei

{My new Moo Cards... Do you Moo?}

Business cards are a essential tools to branding your business. They tell your potential clients about you, how to contact you, what you do and how you do it. They may be the only contact that you have with someone and you have to share a lot of information in a small amount of real estate. But if they are used wisely they can generate repeat business for years to come.

Check out my post on the Art Bead Scene that shares some tips on how to use business cards to add to your successful branding of your small business.

And check out these unique business cards.

Like my new Moo cards? Interested in getting your own Moo cards? Go to http://www.moo.com/ and use the code 2RB2CK to get 15% off your first order!

What are the more clever uses that you have seen for business cards? 
Were they printed on material that is not typical, like metal or wood? 
Were they offering something more than just the standard name, address and telephone number? 
What made them so memorable? 
How can you do the same to stand out?

Enjoy the day!

Lyrics to Love::Dream

Late at night in the studio I have to have some sort of background noise. Tonight my noise of choice is a station on Pandora called Contemporary Singer-Songwriters. I like that the sound is not as driving as rock or as boppy as the all 80s mix. Tonight I heard a new (to me) singer named Priscilla Ahn. Her sweet vocals and acoustic guitar were charming. But it was the words of this song that really stood out to me. There is no need to add more to her voice. It is ethereal. I wish that I could sing as purely as she does.

This song brings to mind an image I have of my childhood. We lived at 6609 43rd Avenue North in Crystal, Minnesota. At the end of the street it was a dead end with a deep, wooded ravine. There was a park at the top of this ravine complete with the geodesic dome climbing structure and loads of leaves to tumble around in.

My friends Jill Sandeen and Tamara Graf and I would meet there. I would cruise over on my banana seat bike with the high handlebars and the streamers flowing. The best part about that park was the swings. The slab of rubber held tight with heavy duty chain that clinked together was the tallest structure there. 

We would all try to swing until we would be level with the top of the structure. It always felt that it would topple over, as if it weren't anchored in the ground (likely it wasn't, it was the 70s). There was always someone who called to mind the legend of the boy who swung so high he went all the way over. Twice. We wanted to try that ourselves. When you were swinging out over this lofty slope, it was easy to feel that you could do anything. The wind whistled in your ears, the chains creaked with each pass. And then there is that split second when you let go of the chains and catapult yourself off the rubber launching pad to tuck yourself in and roll to a stop in a pile of leaves. The free fall looked exhilarating. 

I always dreamed I could fly. 

But I never was brave enough to let go.

Until now.

I was a little girl alone in my little world who dreamed of a little home for me.
I played pretend between the trees, and fed my house guests bark and leaves, and laughed in my pretty bed of green.

I had a dream

That I could fly from the highest swing.
I had a dream.

Long walks in the dark through woods grown behind the park, I asked God who I'm supposed to be.

The stars smiled down on me, God answered in silent reverie. I said a prayer and fell asleep.

I had a dream

That I could fly from the highest tree.
I had a dream.

Now I'm old and feeling gray. I don't know what's left to say about this life I'm willing to leave.

I lived it full and I lived it well, there's many tales I've lived to tell. I'm ready now, I'm ready now, I'm ready now to fly from the highest wing.

I had a dream


Your turn... 
What is a childhood memory that you recall?
Do any of these lyrics speak to you? Which one? What is is saying to you?
Do tell!

17 January 2011

Drawing Birds

"A wise old owl sat on an oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard:
Why aren't we like that wise old bird?"

This week my task was to draw birds. Would you believe that I have bird attack stories, too? I won't bore you with the details but if you want to read one head over to this blog post here. Let's just say that I will NEVER watch the movie "The Birds."

This time we were given a bit more direction in our bird drawings and that helped me to break this complex little being into something more manageable. I focused on the shapes, the head, beak, body, tail. And what I tried to do was keep to a simple shape, the half circle, as my point of departure for the shapes that I was drawing. But this time I think my details may have taken a back seat.

I had an epiphany when I was drawing: I don't fancy that I will ever be a photo-realistic drawer. All the details of the feathers and the eyes and talons and the environs escapes me. But I am pleased with just getting the basic shapes right. You can tell these are supposed to be birds, right? And I am not too concerned if my bird is of a real species or not. My birds have beaks and talons and feathers and wings. That is all they need for you to see that.

I was reading a blog that posted a little blurb about UK illustrator Alice Melvin (so sorry that I can't remember which blog it was!). I was charmed by her whimsical bird drawings and knew that is the way that I wanted to go. So I set about trying to imitate her style. I think that whimsy is my way so that is likely where my drawings will take me in the future. I thought the stylized shapes of the birds would be cute filled with a patchwork of patterns, in lieu of real-looking feathers.

One of the 'extra credit' assignments is to take your drawing and do more with it. This week I decided that I would try to use my Photoshop Elements program to color in the details on my owl. It didn't start out as I had intended, but because I didn't use a very dark line on the drawing the colors sort of had a mind of their own (plus I am not that well versed in Photoshop Elements). The shading on the head and body were not planned. It's a happy accident, but I like it.

Do you prefer a specific sort of drawing? The more photo-realistic details with shading and an almost three-dimensional quality? Or the whimsical illustrations of artists like Alice Melvin and my favorite Mary Engelbreit? If you could learn to draw (and you can!) what style would you like to do? Do tell!

Enjoy the day!

13 January 2011

Dear Me

Dear Me,

This is me, your older, wiser self. Okay. Not really wiser, but definitely older. And likely wiser than you are right now. My wise and witty friend Juls got me thinking about what I would say to my 20 year old self (so you have her to thank for this little tidbit). She would tell herself to accept all offers of maid service. (I know that even my 20 year old self would have jumped at that chance!)

So what would I have to tell you that you are wrong about even though you think you already know?

If you are at Bruiser's night club sweating it up on the dance floor and two slick talkin' dudes approach you and say you have great hair, see through that veiled attempt at flattery because it will NOT get you anywhere good.

And if they do praise your mighty fine locks, do NOT let them talk you into becoming a hair model for the local podunk hair show at the tired old Holiday Inn.

And if you are so gullible that you take them up on the offer to become the next great hair model, do NOT take their super-serious attempt at showing you how to do a runway walk down the indoor mini-golf putting range without laughing wildly about it. Out. Loud.

But if you do still drink whatever grape Kool-Aid they are serving you to get you to do said hair modeling, do NOT allow them to put you on stage without the aid of mirrors while they transform your head with four diverse shades (blond, red, black, brown - like a veritable United Nations of hair dye).

And do NOT believe them when they tell you it is gah-jous , like a pile of fall leaves. Um. No. It is not.

And for God's sake, if you don't heed my advice, do NOT go home and raid your mother's stash of Nice And Easy Dark Brown Espresso on the Double (two boxes, thank you very much) where you will end up with a deep auburn shade. Because you will hear sniggering from your dad, and "I told you so" from your mom.

And if you get this far, by all means do NOT allow a picture of this fiasco to be taken.

{NOT me... but this is the idea of what they did to me! But lots more chunks all over my head and my hair was shorter than this at the time!}

Oh, good. At least you listened to that last bit of advice.



What one thing would you go back and warn your 20-year-old self against? Do tell!

12 January 2011


It's still Wednesday, right?

I grabbed my daughter's iPod Touch away from her and loaded up on Hipstamatic and some Hipstapacks. Oh, yeah. This could totally become an addiction. I wonder how long it will be before I break down and buy myself one of these.

So I experimented with a few Hipstamatic bead table shots. Really I am not working on much (too much computer time this week to take care of) but I do have an odd assortment of beads laid out on the off chance that I might want to create something.

My first Hipstamatic shot! With the Float film and Berry Pop flash.

In anticipation of Valentine's day I have pulled out all the hearts that I have in my stash including these adorable conversation hearts in ceramic from Jennifer Heynen of Jangles. Here's to wishing Jen and her crew can dig out of the snowy mess they are under soon. They just don't know how to handle that sort of weather in Georgia like we do here in Wisconsin. Especially not when they only have like 11 snowplows in the WHOLE STATE! But if you want to see something totally hip and happening, head on over to Jen's blog where she shows what you do when you don't own snowpants or boots and your kids want to play outside in the fluffy stuff.

Enjoy the day!

11 January 2011

Encouraging Visionary

Personality is the glitter that sends your little gleam across the footlights and the orchestra pit into that big black space where the audience is.
~Mae West

I always loved doing personality tests. I know my True Colors (Orange-Blue) and my Myers-Briggs letters (ENFP). Remind me to tell you about the Medicine Wheel sometime (I am a South East). I was always the sort that would pick up the Woman's Day magazine at the check out stand and flip to the little psychology quizzes that ask you to pick what sort of fruit you might be or assess your style of living quarters to find out more about your personality.

I came across a website and found it very intriguing to take the test with these interesting little sliders, emptying pots and such to determine my personality (is this me NOT focusing?!?). Not only does it provide you with a free assessment of your character traits, but it also provides it in a color palette. I'm in love!

I quite like what I have discovered. The test rated me an

Encouraging Visionary

The first part, VISIONARY,  is said to be my personality. 

  • Your imagination, self-assuredness, and knowledge of the world combine to make you a VISIONARY.

  • You have clear notions of how things could be, and the confidence to try to make them that way.

  • You enjoy having a routine, and prefer comfort and familiarity to risk and adventure.

  • Not needing others' approval to forge ahead, you are confident in your designs for the future.

  • Your imagination allows you to envision the world as a better place.

  • You're better at thinking of the big picture than you are with details, and you can see wonder in abstract things.

  • Style and appearances are important to you, and you have a good eye for beauty.

  • You are somewhat rigid in your beliefs, which comes from both confidence and an aversion to change.

  • You are good at creating works of art in forms with which you're familiar.

  • You're not afraid to let your emotions guide you, and you're generally considerate of others' feelings as well.

  • Generally, you believe that you control your life, and that external forces only play a limited role in determining what happens to you.

  • And how I relate to others is the ENCOURAGING part.

  • Your outgoing nature, understanding of others, and directness make you ENCOURAGING.

  • You want others to do well for themselves, and you generally believe in their abilities.

  • You often know what's good for people because of your caring nature and your worldview.

  • When you care about someone, you don't keep it to yourself: you are good at letting people know that you're thinking of them.

  • Because you trust people, you take violations of that trust very seriously.

  • You thrive in social situations, and even though you know who you like and who you don't like, you can interact well with many different types of people.

  • You have a healthy respect for people who have earned what they have, and you strive to be similar to successful others.

  • You are a loyal friend and a good listener.

  • But the coolest part is that now I have a color palette to go with it. Here is mine:

    If you roll over the colors you can see them with a tag that explains the personality traits that make up my palette.

    I started reading a book by Danielle LaPorte last year at this time and never finished it. The book is called Style Statement and through a series of in-depth worksheets and probing questions, you come up with a set of two words that describe your personality and life philosophy. Like framing your year with an intention, the Style Statement can powerfully manifest itself in your life, your family, your relationships, your work, your passions. I have to go get back into that book now, since I feel that this little personality DNA must be some of the direction that my Style Statement would go in. Plus this was just so darned fun. I am certainly happy to be considered an Encouraging Visionary.

    Go on and take the test, I would love to know what it says about you! Try if for yourself here, and come back and let me know what your personality is (warning, it will take 20-30 to complete!).

    Enjoy the day!

    10 January 2011

    Rabbit Holes & Roller Coasters

    One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.
    ~ Tony Robbins

    Already, I am having trouble focusing.

    I mean, I just selected that word right before the end of the year and already I am having trouble Following One Course Until Successful. That is how it is with the Word of the Year concept. Whatever you decide to proclaim and put out into the world will manifest itself, but sometimes in the negative instead of the positive.

    I have so many different projects going on and I have been diving down all sorts of rabbit holes. You know the ones... you go down one path only to be duped into following another path until you get so lost that you don't know what you were doing there in the first place. For instance...
    ...I got an email to send in some pieces for consideration to summer magazine issues and I find myself trying to recall where each and every component came from and finding similar online for those things I have had forever.
    ...I need to draft an order form for a potentially huge semi-custom order for my daughter's dance studio and I find myself ordering supplies for pieces that haven't even been ordered yet.
    ...I am continuing to  develop the line of jewelry I keep threatening but I find myself buried under what could be instead of working on what is right in front of me.
    ...I have plans to update my Etsy shop that is rather sad and neglected after the holidays but I find myself seeking out new beads to lust after and new artwork to favorite instead.
    ...I am staring at the pile o' paper that is threatening to topple onto the floor very soon because I lacked the discipline to actually file any of it away last year when I should be finding some ways to enforce simple organizational strategies on my paperwork (I am hoping a small file cabinet and some hanging files might do the trick this year).
    ...I applied to my first juried art show and in so doing had to totally scrap my booth space in favor of something new (pictures soon, I promise!).
    ...Realizing that I am on my last pack of checks and then spending all night online trying to find the ones that speak to me the most rather than just ordering blue safety and be done with it!

    This is but a fraction of what I have been doing during the 9p-midnight hours in the past week or two. And I feel like I have nothing to show for it but the bags under my eyes... and that doesn't include all the things that have to be done to keep the family afloat. I feel like I am missing out on my family, my husband, my own health, my piece of mind. I know you are all with me on this. I have felt your angst, too, through the world of the blogdom.

    You know how it is when you are on a roller coaster ride and you look off to the side... what do you see? All is a blur going by you. You can't see anything but a melange of colors and shapes because it is rushing right by you faster than you can pay attention to it. And that is the problem. There are so many tantalizing tidbits rushing by you that you want to reach out and grab hold of. But those are the cars on someone else's roller coaster. It may look great, but it is not meant for you and it is going in a completely different direction than the track that you have laid. Can you really focus on your direction when the world is whooshing right by you at lightning fast speeds? It is not possible to slow the ride down and hop off. It might be possible to switch tracks, but then you are stuck learning a different route. And those new twists and turns might be more than you bargained for.

    {Awesome photo from rongleeakqzed on Etsy}
     Maybe instead of looking sideways at all that is rushing by me, I need to stop and take stock of the direction that my toes are pointed, which track my ride is on. A wise friend had some truly insightful things to say recently that had me perk up and take notice. So much so that I printed them off and hung them next to my computer. So many nuggets of wisdom to choose from, but this one is standing out to me today:

    You will not fall behind everyone else,
    you are doing exactly what you should be
    at this moment.

    I do need to give myself time to play and explore and dream, I realize that. I am very driven to succeed, but not at the risk of others. In fact, I am an encourager at heart and I want to help everyone else realize their dreams, often at the expense of my own. But I think that I have been so focused on inspiring others that I have lost a little bit of that spark of inspiration for myself. I need to get back on track and enjoy my own ride rather than worry about how screamingly awesome someone else's ride looks. I need to reconnect to myself and realize that I am only one and can only do so much, but that I also need to get some focused momentum going if I am going to have any fun with this ride and see where it takes me.

    I need to stop the rabbit holing and FOCUS on enjoying my own ride with my head facing forward and my harness buckled tight. Because it is going to be wild.

    And I am totally going to wave my arms and scream as I careen around the corners. ;-)

    What about you?
    Are you veering down rabbit holes that are leading you astray?

    Is there a magic method for taming paperwork that you would like to share with me?
    When you look at all the rides going on around you, are you missing out on your own fantastic voyage?
    Would you rather be on a roller coaster with unpredictability... or a merry-go-round?
    Do tell!

    Enjoy the day!

    06 January 2011

    Drawing Cats

    "It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character." ~ Camille Pisarro

    It is a good day when I learn something new. And sometimes I have to seek that learning out.

    I never really took art classes in high school. Photography here, calligraphy there, but never any traditional art classes. I feel that I missed out on a lot.

    This year I have a desire to learn to draw. So I signed up for Jeannie's Drawing Lab. (It's not too late to join in the fun.) What I think is most brilliant about this course is that we are building a community. We have all come to learn to draw but I think that we will gain much more than how to put marks on paper.

    I went out and bought a sketchbook and some pencils. My sketchbook has one side with lines and the other side with blank pages. I want to write and draw in there, noting what I like about the assignment, what is challenging, what memories it triggers. Those pages, both sides, are quite daunting to me. But I know that I have nothing to fear and the support of people who are just like me. So I dove right into the first assignment. To draw cats.

    Now, if you know me or you pay attention, you will know that I don't have a very favorable history with cats. Or birds. Or squirrels. But those are stories for another day. My experience with animals started with the stripey cat we picked out at the pound when I was about 5. I wanted to name her Pinnochio. My mom decided we would name her Tiger.

    Tiger was a beautiful cat. And I suspect that I was like most kids in that I wasn't always gentle or careful with Tiger. I never did try to dress her up in doll clothes like my mom did with all her cats, though.

    I had a basement bedroom in the house at 6609 43rd Avenue North in Crystal, MN. My parents built the wall that finished the family room from my bedroom. Except that there was no window in this room, so it really had no egress in case of disaster. That could be why I have to have it nearly pitch dark when I go to sleep to this day.

    There wasn't a lot of money, and the wall that was built had little soundproofing. And in a coup of thriftiness, my father covered the entire wall with burlap. Inexpensive and textural. It was the 70s, after all.

    Now that might be a nice style statement for any ranch home but for a home with a cat and her claws it was like a ride at Disneyworld. Every chair in our house was a fluffy tuft of shreds. Even the royal blue and lime green paisley couch. It was not uncommon to come into the room to see Tiger clinging to the wall in her attempt to reach the summit. She was always caught in the act and yanked from the wall and scooted out of the room.

    So it should come as no surprise the night that I was attacked by Tiger. In the dark. In my room on the other side of the burlap wall, with no lights and no way out.

    Tiger climbed the wall in the family room and popped the ceiling tile. Once at the top, our burly feline decided to explore the crawl space. But the foam tiles couldn't support her weight. And she came crashing down. On top of my bed on the other side of the burlap wall.

    Now Tiger was pretty freaked out. I can attest that it is true that cats when falling land on their feet. She landed on her feet, but those feet had claws that immediately grabbed hold of what was beneath them. That would be me. I recall a lot of hissing and scratching and tears. Every time I tried to move, or whimper, Tiger would proceed to use me as a scratching post and protect her kill. Again, that would be me.

    When I didn't come upstairs in the morning, my mother came downstairs and opened my cave door. Tiger ran out. I was frozen in bed. With a lot of scratches. But no more tears. And a lot less love for my kitty.

    Eventually, we realized that the reason that I sneezed every single day all day long (dad, too) was because we were allergic to Tiger. At least that is what they told me when they took Tiger away. In a cooler. I remember crying about it that Tiger would suffocate. My dad popped the drain plug for air. That was the last I saw of my attack cat who went to live on a farm. At least that is what they told me. I can't say that I miss the fear that I felt with Tiger around after that incident. And I am still allergic to cats to this day, so that part was completely true. But I still appreciate the beauty of cats. However, I am baffled as to why when I go to someone's house and I ignore their cats they want to cuddle right into my lap, sleep on my pillow and rub all over me. I just don't get it.

    Okay. So that wasn't the nicest story about a cat, but it is true and it is the roundabout reason why I found this task of drawing cats a huge challenge. I did stick drawings (cats with duck feet!) and then started focusing on the elements of the cat that struck me the most. The eyes. I love cat eyes. They freak me out. In a good way. Here is one of my drawings that I feel okay about. And it helps me recall what was beautiful about Tiger.

    I think that this drawing lab will be fun.
    And don't you think these little stories will be enhanced by my own artwork? :-)

    What are you favorite cat stories? Did you have cats when you were growing up? Or maybe they make your eyes itch and your nose twitch? Can you appreciate their lampwork glassy eyes and their colorful coats? The way they can find any sliver of sunlight and nap all day long? Their inquisitiveness and their aloofness? Do tell!

    Enjoy the day!

    04 January 2011


    Look at the cuteness that arrived in my mailbox!

    I had ordered my Fantastic Mr. Fox bead from Heather Powers at Humblebeads  awhile back because I wanted him to sit on the shelf and keep me company with my beads in my studio. {Talking to your beads late at night isn't weird, is it?}

    But he looked so lonely. So I mail ordered a friend from Julsbeads. Her dotty bird was calling to me. And look! She came with a friend! {Thank you Juls! You are the BESTEST.}

    They have become fast friends. And yes. They do speak foreign languages {thank God for Google Translate.}. And I have confirmed that I have the best bead friends around.

    What about you?
    Do you talk to your beads? Or your plants? Or the walls?
    Do you think that is weird? (It's okay if you do. I think it is a little odd myself....)
    Don't you just wish that you had one of these friends? (They're mine! But you can get your own!)
    Would you be able to part with these cute mini-masterpieces? Or would they sit on your shelf too?
    I think I feel another collection coming on.....
    Enjoy the day!

    01 January 2011

    RAW::Don't Look Back

    Right now never happens.
    It is receding slowly in my rearview mirror.
    And it is flying right at me,
    squinting in the glare of my headlights.
    I don't look back very often.
    There is nothing behind me worth worrying about.
    My eyes are forward and my mouth is
    shut tight.
    I don't want to get bugs in my teeth.

    Random Act of Wisdom brought to you by the American Crew collection of hairstyles and product for men found in my beauty salon. Those men who use fancy salon products are a very deep bunch indeed. ;-)

    What do you think?

    If right now never really happens and it is all whooshing past us, can you ever truly enjoy the ride?

    With the new year receding in our rearview mirrors, what moments do you want to remember?

    Is there really ever anything 'worth worrying about'?

    When you look forward to 2011, what 'bugs' are you hoping will pass you by? What bright lights are you attracted to?

    Are men who use a lot of fancy product more deep than those that don't?

    Do tell!

    Enjoy the day! Happy New Year!


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