Monday, July 30, 2007

Check this Out: Kim Westad Ceramics

I first saw Kim Westad's ceramics at the Renegade Craft fair in Brooklyn, just before the skies opened up and the rain started slapping down at us like wet towels in a summer camp shower, but I had to take a minute to shout her praises. Her stuff was just too lovely to ignore. Since the Renegade folks were thoughtful enough to put out a little booklet with all the vendor's web info, I was able to track her down at etsy.

I just love the sinuous forms that she uses. Her textures are a very sexy mixture of soft silky bits mixed with highly reflective but subtly colored glazes. I LOVE her color choices. They are very grass and sky... I can't wait to indulge myself in a few of her pieces for my birthday gift to myself. She has a tremendous eye for balanced design that is at the same time whimsical and sophisticated. Don't pass her up. If you want to learn more about Kim, you might want to visit her website Or you can buy her ceramics at her Etsy site at

And what is even better....she is running a SALE!!!! A SALE!!! YIPPEE!!!

Get thee to Kim Westad at Etsy and send yourself some sensual ceramics (try saying that five times fast!)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Thrifts and Thanks:

Whew! The article resulted in a nice bump in my blog traffic. I hope that everyone new enjoyed their read, and got to see something of interest. Don't be a stranger!
I did some fairly serious thrifting today and came up with some great vintage fabrics which is a darn good thing. Because even though I am not planning on selling my City Bags, I have had several requests on the QT to whip some up. (I am seriously rethinking the not selling them thing after four separate requests to make them came in). So of course I had to find just the right fabric combinations. I think these will make a very sweet bag.
I'm working hard to get some courses done before deadline, so I'm probably not going to get into the studio as much as I would like, unless I am very disciplined indeed. We shall see how that goes. Discipline in the summer is not easy. Not easy at all, particuarly when the studio is RIGHT THERE....calling me.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Media Love: Newsday

So I got a little Media Lovin' today. Newsday ran a very nice excerpt from an interview that I did with them in their Part II section today. You can read the article at Unfortunately, you don't get to see the pretty pictures, and the lovely buff offset box they put it in to make it stand out. Thanks Newsday! You Rock.

They also published the interview in its entirety on their blog, Cheap Thrills. Check it out, and while you are there, read about some of the other great DIY projects and goodies they have put together for you!

Like how to grow a pineapple...a pineapple, people!

Yippee! I feel like queen of my tiny felted world today. So damn the torpedoes and pass me a cuppa tea....I gotta get to felting.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Watch out...they are acrylic and they are taking over....

I've gone a little crazy with the acrylic felt flowers. But they are just soooo much fun to make! They have a totally different personality than my other flowers do. My encaustic flowers are grumpy, my wool flowers are refined, and these...

Well, these just holler out "Hiya there! Hey, you want some tea? I can put the kettle on. Come on's no trouble. You want a cookie? I love cookies. Don't you just LOVE cookies?"

Don't they?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Felt for the Allergy Prone

A girlfriend asked me the other day, "So what happens if you get a customer who is allergic to wool?".

I didn't really have an answer for her...until I made up this little guy. He is all acrylic and cotton. Not one speck of wool in there. I needle felted in the details.

It is constructed a little differently than my other flowers, and I think it looks sort of like a Cosmo. Truth be told, it was inspired not by a flower in my garden, but by a flower on my vintage 1940's apron.

You can see the blue and mauve flowers in the photo, if you look hard enough.

I think they are cute, and I am going upstairs to the studio to make some more.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Yeah, this isn't a Plastic Bag either...

So I wanted a bag I could carry to the city...That wasn't over exposed and carried by the hundreds...

I wanted a bag that I could sling across my body and have it lie relatively flat, would have a strap wide enough not to dig into my shoulder, would have a pocket on the front and one inside large enough to dump my keys and a cell phone into, and that would be cute and packable. It needed to be big enough for a magazine, deep enough for a light sweater to go in it if needed, and sturdy enough to be thoroughly abused.

Not asking much, or so I thought...But I couldn't find that bag. So I made it. Sorry, Anya Hindmarch.

Totally cute. I made it with some great fabric I found a month or so ago, but had no idea what I would do with. The body of the bag is three layers of fabric thick on each side, so it also was a sweet way to use up a little ugly fabric for the middle of the sandwich that no one will ever see.

The lining is so nice that I could potentially turn the thing inside out and get two bags in one, if I wanted to.
Just like this....

I'm not planning on selling these on Etsy, this one is just for me....but I suppose if there was an interest...hmmmm, I could. I did make a pattern as I worked, after all.

At this point I am considering splitting my Etsy shop into two anyway, one shop for the paintings, prints, and collage and another for the fiber based stuff. I'm not sure if this is a great idea. I know others have done it, and I am afraid my shop is starting to look a little schizophrenic. Do you have an opinion on shop splitting?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Little Things....

After finishing my Blue Peony, I had enough felt left to make a smaller version. This one is only 2.5 inches across and might be considered the baby brother of the other peonies, or the stunted unfertilized runt. I'm not sure I love it, it lacks a little something in the oomph department. I also didn't double felt it after assembly, so it wouldn't loose even more size and that way it keeps the pinked edges. Who knows, the smaller size might make it more wearable.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Check this Out: Dangerous Mezzo

I bought this great piece a few days ago from Nina of Dangerous Mezzo over at Esty. It is a lovely over-painted photo titled "Past Perfect". She arrived today in the mail, and I was on a quest to contrive as to where to hang her. Strangely enough, in amongst the piles of old frames I had out in Shed #2 of The Shanty Town, I found the perfect frame for her. Doesn't she look lovely?

Sometimes these things have a way of working out.

Nina's over-painting work is just gorgeous. It has a haunting and compelling quality that you just can't quite shake. They really do become more than the sum of their parts. Since you are here, check out some of her other work....

New Stickers

I, admittedly, haven't played with stickers since I let go of my album of Lisa Franks as a kid, (well, I might have had some Garbage Pail Kids in there too...) but I just had to spread the word on these fabulous new little stickers from

They come in a pack of 90, they are totally customizable, and how cute is this, they are on tear out sheets.

I just ordered two sets, in green of course, with my
Flickr images of my work. I'm gonna stick'em ALL OVER my Etsy stuff.

Can't wait for them to arrive!

(Based on your comments, neither can you...)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pretty Packages

Sometimes I like to do something a little extra....

I always try to have nice or quirky packaging, but today I must say that I outdid myself. Maybe it was the rain that forced a delay in my trip to the post office, or the old papermache box that I found, but let's say that my customer is going to get a bit more than she bargained for when she opens up this package!

I went a little crazy decorating the box: vibrant paints, delicious papers, shiny brass brads, soft velvet ribbons. I just couldn't stop. I could probably sell this in my shop, but I wouldn't. It is a little thank you for giving a home to one of my favourite things I have made so far.

Then I had to figure out what to put it in to ship it. The post office doesn't like round things, you see...that is where the old wooden cigar box came in. I figured, no irate carrier could destroy that bad boy. So in the box it went, with a gift card, a magnet, a wing and a prayer. Wrap it in brown paper and it is off....

Monday, July 16, 2007

Collaborative Challenge

It is amazing how things link up in the Bloggy world. I was reading my friend, Leah's fabu blog, Homework. She had this great description of some silver wire knitting that she had done. This immediately set off the bells and whistles in my head to used the silver "fabric" to create a pouch to enclose an object, like a stone, pearl, or bit of wood. This could then be "sewn" along three edges using wire strung with beads (or not).

I promised her that I would make up a sketch of my here it is. I used my Wacom Intuos tablet to do the sketch with a little help from Photoshop. Love that tablet, one of my favourite toys. Leah, my dearest Knit Geek, link me up and lets see what can you do with it...

The collaboration ball is in your court!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Chopping Wild Hairs

This is almost totally non-art related, but here goes:

I was in the West Village Friday, and decided that it was time. I had been growing my hair out for two long years and it was time for it to come off. After my friend Cheryl passed away, my friend Diane passed away, and two other girlfriends were diagnosed with cancer, I decided that this was a little thing (a very little thing) that I could do.

I am donating my hair through Beautiful Lengths. Hopefully, it will make some beautiful woman feel a little better. If you have ever considered cutting your hair (it is summer and damn hot! Do you need another reason?) Consider doing it now, and for this great cause. Here is a before and after. (I said I wanted it to look like Maggie Gyllenhaal's)

My hair is laying on my desk, looking very much like a sleeping animal or an amputated body part at the moment. It is a little disturbing, I must admit. I can't wait to send it away tomorrow. At least now it won't need tying up at the felting table.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blue peonies...

Sometimes you just have to make something. That great piece of flat felt that I made during my playdate on Friday last just became a peony, a blue peony.

Now, I have never actually seen a blue peony in real life, they may very well exist in some mystical garden out there, but I have seen one on my great-grandmother's coverlet.

My great-grandmother's coverlet was sewn from the drapes that had hung in the dining room of my great-great-grandmother's house. These were staunch Appalachian women. Nothing went to waste. Now the coverlet is folded at end of the bed my grandmother gave my great-grandmother....which has pride of place in the front bedroom of my house.

Blue Peonies....may this one make some lucky woman feel as lovely as these women never knew they were.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I love it more than zombies love brains.....

I was poking about on Etsy, like I do a lot, when I found this featured shop foldedpigs. She makes the most hilarious porcelain. Including this plate:

Which I thought was an incredible coincidence, as I had just been listening to the musical stylings of Jonathan Coulton, who as some of you may know, is the roving troubadour for Popular Science magazine and a musical genius to boot.

Why is this a coincidence, you may ask? He has a fantastic song called "Re: Your Brains" which you can just so happen to listen to below.

I dropped him an e-mail to let him know about this alignment of the arts, and what do you know but the man wrote me back....within 24 hours. How is that for being responsive to your fan base?

I love his music more than zombies love brains......

Art that Stinks...

Some of my art really stinks.

Ok, well, it smells because it is encaustic. Encaustics, for those of you who may not have seen or worked with them before, are essentially a mixture of beeswax and oil paint, which are sometimes mixed with a resin. This mixture is then melted and applied to a surface. I mix my own encaustics and love painting with them. However, while I am working with them they do tend to get odoriferous. I am sure there are things in the paint that I should not be inhaling, so I open the windows in my studio space nice and wide. My hubby (who wants me to stop calling him that, by the way) always complains and leaves the house when I am working with them.

I used to mix my encaustics and then melt them directly on the canvas or surface using a heat tool. I sometimes still do this, but recently I found a groovy buffet warmer from the 70's. It is all ripply glass and danish modern handles and I LOVE IT. It doesn't get terribly hot, and I can put my pans of encaustic on it to melt without them getting to too high a temperature. Because the surface is glass, any drips I might make clean right off when the warmer cools down. I still use the hot tool for detail work, but I am getting burned a lot less now.

Note: The little pile of Buddha heads in the corner is a trick that I use to get my wax to melt faster for the pans. I pre-melt a pan of beeswax, and then pour it into a silicone mold of a Buddha that I made a few years ago. That way I have small bits of wax that melt fast without having to saw them off the block with a knife.

Encaustics are stinky when you are working with them, but smell like delicious beeswax/honey when they are done. I am all about integrating all 5 senses into my art, and this is just such an added bonus.

And oh yeah, that little guy you see on my encaustic bench is for newly for sale on Etsy...or will be shortly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lovely and Lonely

This is what you get when you try to be good.

I have a pile of flat felt that I made waiting to become flowers and a growing herd of beads dying to be turned into jewelry. None of that can happen until I finish certain other obligations.

Phooey on obligations. Phooey I say.

Today may be made for my online classes, but the night will be made for felting (or assembly of already felty-goodness as the case may be)...

And it will be good...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Is that M' Lady's Slipper?

So not too very long ago my Hubby and I were out for a walk at a lovely arboretum in a protected wetland and what did we chance upon but a Lady Slipper Orchid. It was growing wild by the path and was just screaming (or rather politely requesting) that it have it's picture taken. Which of course I obliged. As we walked on, I was stunned by seeing several more. These flowers are an amazing example of co-evolution, as they have evolved to resemble and attract certain insects, fooling the more intrepid arthropods into clambering inside the inviting and rather, well, risque sexy bits of the flower in order to spread the flower's pollen. It works for the flower, and doesn't seem to bother the insects that much, since they go in over and over.

So I took this as a personal challenge to see if I could needle felt a lady slipper....I think I got the IDEA of a lady slipper down, even if it is not a perfect literal translation:

And as you might be able to tell from the scale of my finger there on the left, this felted flower is pretty tiny....

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Bright Idea

In recognition of the Live Earth concerts happening all around the world today (who's intent is good, even if I am dubious of the actual "greenness" of the event itself) I thought that I would tip everyone off to the efforts of my friend, Ken Luna. Ken had this revelation a couple years ago, that if you gave every child in the USA a Compact Fluorescent Light bulb to replace a regular incandescent bulb you could reduce greenhouse emissions. You can see more about Ken's efforts here:

Ken is a sweet guy, we teach in the same district, we have the same solar contractor (yup, my house is solar too) and he has some great ideas. Let's hear it for the regular folk trying to make a difference.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Grown-up Playdate

So even grown-ups need playdates. I had the most fun today felting with a new artist friend that I met in a rather round-a-bout way in a banquet hall bathroom during a retirement party. You never know where or when you are going to make a new artist friend! (Thanks Cathie!)

We did some serious flat felting, ate great late season strawberries, listened to the Magnetic Fields, had some sweet onion pasta salad in the shade garden and then felted up some beads.

It was a pretty perfect way to spend a day, if you ask me. Unfortunately, the sky opened up before I was able to get any photos taken of the fruits of our labours, but you can check out Sara's other work here at her blog: She made these squishy organic looking fuzzy felted bowls that you see here a while ago, I am going to beg her to teach me how to knit these:

I felted with some deliciously smooth merino today. I could get used to that.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Birth of a Felted Flower

Making one of my felted flowers starts with the felt. Which involves bowls of water, a little soap, and lots and lots and lots of rubbing and rolling.

First I lay out the roving and blend the colors for the basic petals of the flower. Sometimes the felt will be thicker, sometimes it will be thinner. It all depends on the effect I am going for.

Then I wet it, sandwich it in crinkly plastic and bubble wrap and rub, rub, rub. You get very prune-like fingers doing this stuff. You then wet it and rub some more.

When the fibers start to come together, I will then start to roll the mat of fibers. I will roll it roll it roll it and roll it. Are we starting to see a theme? After rolling for a good long while (enough time to get some serious NPR listening in) I test it to see if it is felted. If I can pull up some fibers then it needs more rolling. After I am happy with the felting, it has to be fulled, which will really lock the fibers in place. This involves more rolling. Rolling. Rolling. And soapy water.

Finally, after a good hour or more of rubbing, rolling, wetting, checking, cursing, rolling, and rolling a bit more, I get a peice of fabric that won't fall apart, that I can then cut into pieces to sculpt into a flower.

This felt will be a flower inspired by a coverlet of my great-grandmother's that I inherited. It was full of these strange grey/blue/lavender rose-peony hybrids that existed no-where but on Grans' featherbed.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

This is where the felting happens...

Felting can be a messy business. Lots of soapy water, bits of fluff, it can get sloppy.

That is why I do it outside, when I can.

Here is where the magic happens.

We had the good fortune to inherit an antique marble ice cream parlor table with our house. It was just too heavy for the previous owners to take with them. It makes a perfect surface for felting. The slats in the deck allow the water to run off without things getting too slippery.

The old washbasin is perfect for holding my hot soapy water. I totally lucked out when I found it at an antique fair last summer for 20 bucks. It spent a year in the shade garden, alternately holding tools, baby plants, ice and beer. I can move it where ever I need it and still have my whole table surface free for felting. It rocks.

The chairs were picked up this summer at my first tag sale foray of the season from a house in Bayport for 30 bucks for six of them. I was able to fit all six in the Jetta. Let's hear it for Volkswagens and their massive cargo space. Woot! They have vinyl seats. They can get kind of hot like Grandpa's Rambler, but the soapy water doesn't hurt them.

The far right corner of the deck is totally overhung with wisteria which makes a great shady place for the infamous Tetra cat to nap on hot days so she can oversee my production.

It is pretty perfect that way. Yup.

The two mile rule....

Ok, I'm gonna get up on my soap box and get all preachy on you for a few minutes here.

Ahem..... Ahem.... ....two....three....

Folks, we have to do something. We have screwed up the planet and now we have to fix it.

Now, yes I know everyone is telling us to get off our collective lazy hineys and get with it. Al Gore is telling us, silly celebrities that I don't listen to are telling us, and now yes, now I am telling us...well, you.

Here is a little thing we can do. It is called:


Here it is, plain and simple:

If where you want to go is within two miles, you walk, or bike.

Wow. That is complex. But what if you have groceries to carry? Or paint cans to haul? Or the kitty to take to the vet? Well, then you do all those things in a combo trip in the car. Don't feel guilty, it is ok. That is what your car is for. But your feet are made for everything else.

The hubby and I live by THE TWO MILE RULE. For the last two summers we have managed to get by on one tank of gas. ONE TANK OF GAS PEOPLE! That is the power of THE TWO MILE RULE. We feel great, we spend time together, we don't shop all the time, we don't spend money we don't have to, we see people in our neighborhood, we don't put wear and tear on the car, we don't make carbon, and we get to be good to the planet.

I tell my students about THE TWO MILE RULE and they make fun of me for about a minute, then they think about it. It makes sense. Think about it.

Try it for a week. Just a week. Let me know how it goes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Trees for Denise

My friend Denise loves trees. What is not to love....they do photosynthesis which is pretty groovy when you think about the chemistry of carbon fixation and all. They make oxygen which is a fairly nice trick. And they are pretty.

Here are some pretty trees for Denise.

Who just happens to blog here:

And for the observant of those amongst you, yes, this is the image that I am carving in the previous post. If you noticed you get the gold star today.

You are all doing very well.

What do you make when the block is in your brain?

What do you make on a lovely day when the sun is shining and you have a big old mental block? I reach for a rubber block. I find that one of my old carved rubber blocks is great for un-stoppering the creative juices. I just ink it up, press it out, dab out the inks, watercolors or what-have-you, and within a few minutes I have a finished piece in front of me ....and amazingly....I have made something.

Any artist or writer will tell you that the most important part of getting out of a creative slump is just MAKING SOMETHING.

So when you see my Emily or Tree motif show up, chances are that I am in a funky brain fog and am trying to clear away the cobwebs. Here is to hoping that once they are clear I can move on and do something totally new. But at least it is good to have something that works as an artistic jump start.