Monday, July 5, 2010


To borrow a line from one of my favorite artists and bloggers, Sherry Truitt of So,Sherry

Kiss the ones you love.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Vacation From My Vacation

Did you ever have one of those 'vacations' that you need to recover from?

I closed my Etsy shop for the month of May, sort of a 'vacation'. I had a large project that I was involved with for my children's elementary school that required my full attention. I am on the ArtsDay Committee and agreed to organize a mural for the fifth grade ArtsDay project. In addition to the mural came all kinds of "heck breaking loose".

Before I even began the mural I went to an Orthopedic doctor about shoulder pain I've been having and discovered that I have a partially torn rotator cuff and pinching acromion and will need surgery -but that's being put off until August so let the mural begin!

I decided that the mural would be comprised of small Masonite/hardboard panels that the children would paint. They would then be assembled like tiles to complete the full mural. First I needed to buy a table saw, which I did on Mother's Day as a very nice present to myself. :^) Then I needed to assemble the table saw, which I did myself -thank you very much!

To complete the murals I needed 120 Masonite panels so I cut them, sanded the edges and gave them three coats of primer on the front, two coats on the back, painted the edges and finished them with one coat of gesso on the front.

The school's art teacher let me borrow her 40 year-old, rescued-from-a-dumpster-in- the-1970's opaque projector to enlarge the mural artwork onto the panels, then I started painting the artwork lines.

Right about now was the point that life started to become a little crazy. Driving to the bus stop with the children one morning I heard a thumpthumpthump and discovered a bolt embedded in my tire. Is this from the table saw?!? I deny it...

After putting them on the bus it was off to the tire center. A few hours later I headed home but the steering wheel was shimmying more than I liked. At home my husband reminded me that last time our tires were rotated they mentioned that they had trouble balancing one so they put it on the back. The tire center re-rotated my tires and the off-balance one was now on the front...I'll need to have it fixed, but back burner this -we'll deal with it later... time to paint more murals.

The next morning I'm about to take the children to the bus when we notice that their two gerbils who share a cage are involved in a "Gerbil Death Match" there is gerbil blood! A quick check online informed me that upon maturity gerbils will begin to prepare for potential mates by eliminating the competition and will fight to the death. So there is no way I can just convince them that a cute female gerbil just ain't gonna happen?!? So off to the pet store for a complete second gerbil habitat. So much for the 'very social and friendly' promises of the pet shop employee. Back home for gerbil re-habitation and more mural painting. You will notice there are no photos of the bloody gerbils... I thought that best.

I'm starting to feel a little frazzled and have been putting in a lot of very late nights on these mural there's my own "oh that's right I have kids!" to be fed and laundry and dishes...oh and a very patient husband...

ArtsDay arrives and the kids have a lot of fun painting the panels.

I've coded the backs to a grid. As they finish their panel they place it on the grid. They really get a kick out of placing their piece and seeing the mural come together. The painting sessions are a huge success and the kids are so excited that their work will be hung in the lobby 'forever!". I leave the murals at school to dry over the weekend.

Sunday the neighbor tills our garden and my husband informs me that the groundhog family living under our porch has eaten the kale and broccoli I started before I can even get them planted. :^(

On Monday I bring the finished murals home to re-do the black line-work, then I run the car to the tire service center again and we decide to buy two new tires. One to replace the earlier fix and one to replace the off balanced one. My husband calls in an appointment for my daughter, since she's been complaining that her sternum hurt from being hit playing laser-tag. I pick her up early and have her seen by the pediatrician... she's okay, probably just a bruise...whew!

Uh-oh! After we come home my daughter informs me that the basement play-room 'smells funny' and is 'wet'. We discover, after my husband rips up the (two year-old) carpeting and removes some drywall, that there is a pin-hole leak in the piping in the wall. Small favor, at least it's trash night.

Tuesday morning daughter stays home with a 24 hour bug. She is ill once, runs a slight fever and sleeps most of the day. I'm still re-painting black mural line-work. Son comes off the bus with his glasses broken. My husband takes him to get a new pair. Luckily they're still under warranty! I finish up all the line work and give the murals a coat of protective finish. To bed by 11:30. Wow! An early night!

Wednesday! Installation day! I'm at school by 9:30 with coffee, panels, duct tape, and paneling adhesive in hand. Another Mom comes to help. We stick all the panels up with duct tape first to make sure everything is straight and square. Once they are up we remove them one by one and apply adhesive. Anticlimactically it takes us only an hour per mural to finish them. As children pass in the halls they comment on the murals. The children who painted them point out their panels. Teachers stop to look and comment. People smile. They're done. Really? Done? DONE!

So am I. I need a vacation.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sweet Little Garden Break

So I haven't been out in the garden as much as I need or promised myself to be.

I've been involved with a mural project for my children's Elementary school and it's eating up all my time and energy. I'm a little nervous about how it is going to turn out. I bought a table saw to cut up Masonite into roughly 7 x 11 inch rectangles. I designed the mural based on questions I asked the fifth graders about their school experiences - favorite subject, favorite book, what they learned in school etc...

Each fifth grader is going to get one of the small Masonite pieces with a section of the mural on it, kind of like a puzzle. The finished murals will be 35 inches high x 66 inches wide and there are four murals. All the pieces are cut. They just need to be primed, gessoed, and painted with the line-work. The final, color painting will be done next Friday, ArtsDay at the school. I'm very nervous.

I took a break for fresh air and a chance to check out the garden. This is a blossom of Calycanthus floridus, also known as Sweet Bubby bush, or Carolina Allspice. The flowers have a leathery, stiff feel to them, and the aroma is pleasant but a little odd. It reminds me of cider or overripe apples.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day and I am posting in appreciation of all the Mothers out there, but especially with love for my Mother and Grandmother.

In this photo my Mom, Lorraine,is to the right and her mother, my Grandmother Violet, is holding me after my Baptism. My brother Michael is on the left, Andrew on the right -I love their jackets and bow ties! My sister Sara is adorable in her pink dress and hat. Only my youngest brother, John, is not in the photo.

My Mother raised five children. I wouldn't say we were poor, but I'm sure money was tight. We didn't always have the most or the newest 'things' but we did have a lot of love. When I was little my Mom made cheese sandwiches so I could picnic outside. My Mom taught me how to drive. Now that I have children of my own she always is happy to help out. My children love their Nana. My Grandmother Violet's house was always a place full of laughter, love and excellent pies. :^) I am sorry that my Grandmother passed away before she could meet my children. I know she would have delighted in them. She had a special place in her heart for little ones.

To these wonderful Moms I say thank you and I will love you always!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

One Year

April 16th was the one year anniversary of the hospital visit where I discovered I had ovarian cancer. The previous days had been lovely and I had been enthusiastically working in the overgrown garden, hoping to work off what I thought was 'winter weight'.

The onset of pain in my side sent me to the emergency room on the 16th. They recommended I see my Gyn. and from there began quite a sudden and scary journey. It felt like the life I thought I had control over had suddenly become a car on a rollercoaster. I was going for a ride but I didn't know where I was going, it was scary as hell and there was no getting off!

Now a year later I am still recovering. Scars are fading and I can lift the laundry basket again without being lectured. I am slowly building up strength in my legs and struggling with swelling in them as a complication of the surgery.

It is not all difficult though. Aside from the troubles I have been given so many gifts... The gift of watching my children grow and play, talking to and laughing with and kissing my husband, time with my family and friends, cats to sit on my lap and chase toy mice (and scratch all the furniture), art to make and art to buy, seeds to plant and gardens to weed, and trips to plan (France and Denmark this summer!!!).

So this post today is a thank you to the world for the year I've had and for the many more years I plan on having! It is also a Thank You to the family and friends who have been so wonderfully caring and supportive during the past year. I feel blessed to have you all in my life.



Thursday, April 15, 2010

More Fetch with Kaida

I apologize in advance for the horrible video quality, also you may want to turn the volume down a little if the music is loud. I may really need to get a video camera instead of relying on the video feature of my digital camera as I'd like to do some video tutorials at some point. Stereo is playing Band of Horses 'Great Salt Lake', cat is fetching a toy mouse...good relaxation for all.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

From Scratch INDIEpendent Handmade Market

I have my first show of the year coming up on May 1st. Last October was the first show for the From Scratch INDIEpendent Handmade Market and it was a wonderfully organized and attended show.

The Market runs May 1st from 10-4pm in the Trexlertown Grange, Trexlertown, PA. For directions and more information please visit From Scratch.

I'm extra excited about this show since I'll be next to a good friend of mine from college days, the wonderfully talented Gen from jibby and juna.

I've also been busy working on more resin coated impression pendants as seen above.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Tillandsia Addiction

I was first introduced to the beauty of air plants, Tillandsia, on Fringe's wonderful blog, Fringe.

Her posting, Air plants are easy, led me to begin my own air plant collection.

Shown above are my new acquisitions wired onto the antlers of a gifted (found by my brother in the woods) deer skull. I wrapped wire around the antlers and made little loops for the plants to sit in. The plants are easily removable for watering. Above the skull is a treasured mosaic mandala given to me by my friend, the wonderfully talented Margaret Almon of nutmegdesigns on Etsy. I think the plants and mandala complement each other wonderfully.

It's not easy for me to grow houseplants as I have two cats who will search out and destroy most foliage. Having these wired up high is no guarantee -these cats like to go high, but I am hopeful!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sweet Little Sprout Break

Broccoli sprouting.

I always plant extra seeds every year, just in case I have low germination. Almost every year most things germinate just fine. :^) That leaves me with the always a little sad job of culling since I can't possibly grow 30 broccoli plants. For now though I just enjoy the color, the life and the possibility that they hold.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Owl Addiction -Molly and McGee

So a nesting pair of owls has been a bit of an addiction lately. It's crazy when it's 12:00 midnight and you're glued to the screen with thousands of other people watching an owl sleep. People all over the world have been tuning in to see Molly and McGee taking care of their eggs, eating rats, mice and rabbits, 'bonding', coughing up owl pellets, and turning eggs.

One has finally hatched. A small owlet named Max now has center stage while he struggles to hold his head up, screeches, flops around, is preened by his mother, eats shredded rodents and waits for his siblings to hatch.

Carlos and Donna Royal set up a nest box two years ago. It has taken until now for some owls to move in but it has been well worth the wait. Carlos is a very well-spoken, down-to-earth host. He and Donna have taken to the publicity and interest in their project with apparent ease and grace. Carlos carefully and thoughtfully responds to questions concerning Molly, McGee and their brood. He is even hosting discussions with school children and chat members.

If you have a few moments stop in and see Molly, McGee and their growing family. You may just stay for a while.

Stream videos at Ustream

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Polymer Zinnia Buttons -or I Can't Wait for Summer

One of my favorite annuals in the garden is the Zinnia. I can't wait for summer to enjoy zinnias in my garden. Until then I've been making some sets of polymer clay buttons and dreaming of my cutting garden.

I love the tall and colorful variety "Cut and Come Again" for cut flowers in the house. So cheerful, with a country flavor and naive innocence. A large bunch will stand alone in a simple canning jar or enamel pitcher. Like it's name suggests, keep cutting the flowers to enjoy indoors and it will reward you with abundant fresh new blooms.

"Envy" helps to fulfill my love of green flowers.

"Persian Carpet" is a low growing variety, fantastic in the border with its exotic petal shapes, intricate patterns and hot colors in gorgeous shades of mustard, maroon, yellow, red-orange and cream.

Zinnias are super easy to grow from seed given a sunny spot. Sow them directly in the garden after the threat of frost has passed and nights have warmed. Keep moist until germination and they will grow quickly. To encourage bushiness you can pinch back the tip of the plants once they have a few pairs of leaves. Disease-wise, they are susceptible to powdery mildew in very humid areas. I find this usually happens in later summer after I've already enjoyed a bounty of flowers. Being annuals they are easy to pull out and remove if they become unsightly.

Zinnias are a food source for butterflies and hummingbirds and are seem to be especially loved by children. I remember my grandparents' garden fondly and zinnias stand out bright and colorful in my memories.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Washington DC

We took a family trip to Washington DC this past weekend. In terms of weather and enthusiasm it was awesome! Blue skies, windy, a little chilly, no cherry blossoms... but limited crowds.

I could seriously camp out for days in the museums. The Renwick was our first stop. They are currently hosting an exhibit of items from the WWII Japanese internment camps. The focus was on crafts made by the detainees using materials on hand. It was amazing and humbling to see the beauty that arose from such limited materials and circumstances...uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. Unfortunately photography was prohibited for this exhibit.

The rest of the museum is just full of wonderful pieces of American craft. The family especially enjoyed Larry Fuente's "Game Fish" sculpture.

The National Museum of Natural History...well that needs several days....we had three hours....sigh... Of course the kids loved seeing the dinosaur skeletons and fossils.

I could just lose myself in the beauty of the mineral collection. The Hope Diamond is exquisite of course, as were the other cut gems. The natural mineral forms and patterns however, just blow me away.

In the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, "Graft" by Roxy Paine caught the eye. The large metal tree sculpture was shining in the bright sun against the blue sky. Just awe-inspiring.

We also saw the Terra Cotta Warriors display at the National Geographic Museum. I remembered so many of the details from when it was published in the magazine. Again a fabulous exhibit that we were unable to photograph.

This sort of trip requires a lot of walking. Little legs finally gave out the second day. Dad had to do some carrying.

I hope the kids will remember this trip as a good time. I know they'll remember the cold as we waited to go up in the Washington Monument, and the long walks EVERYWHERE :^) We definitely plan to visit again in a year or two.

DrivewayHead by a Six Year-old

Captured after a warm afternoon. On the driveway. 7.5 x 5.75 feet.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sneak Peek - Polymer and Moonglow

I can't say exactly why Moonglow beads have suddenly captured my attention. I bought a few vintage necklaces years ago. I took them apart for their beads and have held onto them ever since. A random decision to search Etsy for Moonglow beads has reignited a long banked fire. Combined with a sudden compulsion to listen to Roy Orbison and I'm not sure what's going

I purchased a bunch of them on Etsy. They've started rolling in and I've begun playing with them. The first pieces I made were along the line of the sun necklace. I cut out a hole, not reserving the removed clay, and planned to use a Moonglow bead in the middle. Experimenting with a tube to punch out the hole I discovered it would make a nice side bead.

These are a larger size than my typical pendants. The blue and white flower piece is approximately 1 3/4 inch (4.3 cm) across. They will probably be finished in a simple, slightly rustic fashion on a cotton or leather cord.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hieroglyphics on the Driveway

While shoveling the light snow the other day, I noticed that the packed snow from my trip to the bus stop with the children did not easily shovel away. The patterns left by the wheels resembled ancient writing or corn field symbols. Was I sending a message to the heavens?

I loved the division of space and the graphic quality.

One thing for sure, it was a lot easier to shovel than the 6-8 inches we got last night will be!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Material and Technique Test -Three Dimensional Dots

In the past I've done some polymer work where I added dots to create patterns. The dots were always either clay squished into clay, or paint dotted on.

Only dimensional fabric paint gave me the three-dimensional dots that I was after. However, I found the surface tended to stay slightly tacky and would pick up dust and dirt.

Messing around with some polymer clay materials I ended up with nicely dimensional dots with no tackiness. They even glow a little with side-lighting.

Off to play some more!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Facetnating ;^)

Okay, so since I bought my belt/disc sander I admit I've been a little facet happy.

In the works are some combination necklaces using a variety of faceted materials. The green set is faceted polymer and faceted unfinished scrap wood. The red and gray set is faceted polymer and faceted acrylic. I'm scrounging around for more things to facet. I want to do a piece using as many different materials as I can. I'm still working on whether or not to use smaller beads in between, as I really like the simplicity of a few chunky 'crystals'.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sneak Peek -Faceted Polymer and Wood Rings

So today I was thinking about faceting some scrap wood to make beads (which I did). I wanted to do irregular crystal forms like my polymer beads. I envisioned incorporating them into necklaces along with my polymer crystals.... I'm not sure where I made the jump, but I started thinking how interesting it would be to have a faceted bead that is half wood, half polymer... I was just about to do one when the ring image popped into my head.

I think they came out pretty interesting for a first attempt. I'm going to wear these around a bit to test out the sturdiness of the join, although they held up to initial attempts to pull them apart. The wood needs a fine sanding to smooth edges, and maybe a wax coat... not sure yet.

These were done with soft scrap wood. If the clay holds up I'll be looking into some finer hardwoods.

Next experiment -the half wood, half polymer beads I was envisioning.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sweet Little Color Break

This morning I was working with my newly engraved acrylic sheets that I use to make bracelets. As I was handling them I noticed the way the sun lit up the engraved sections and cast fabulous shadows. I had to snap a few shots. Shortly after, the clouds came in and it grayed up. Luckily I caught some of the warmth to look at and enjoy today.

I hope it warms your day too.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sneak Peek -Technique Experimentation

When I purchased my last shipment of acrylic I bought some ivory colored sheets, even though I'm not crazy about the color on its own. Immediately the idea of a scrimshaw-type technique popped into my head. I know I want the effect to be somewhat naive, delicate and old-fashioned feeling...completely the opposite of 'plastic'. I tried my hand at it for the first time yesterday.

Admittedly this is super simple, some of the lines are awkward and I'm working with a beat up old engraving point from my college years. I'll probably keep this one for myself and do quite a bit more experimenting with different tools and line qualities. I do like how this combines such an old craft with a more modern material, softening it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Starting the New Year with a Warm Heart

I am taking part in a wonderful project called "Warm Hearts Around the World". The idea of Ngan from eNVe Designs, it seeks to raise awareness and help the children and families affected by cancer. For every person who participates in "Warm Hearts Around the World", eNVe Designs will donate $1 to St. Jude Children's Hospital on behalf of Laura Slocum of Laura Slocum Painted, Creatively Tangled, and Creatively Tangled2.

Ngan's wonderful blog eNVe Designs is the place to follow the necklace. I love the photos and the wonderful stories told by those who are participating. Thank you Ngan for this truly heartwarming idea.

I was inspired to think of the people participating as being people involved in spreading caring... like it was contagious. I hope many many more people 'catch' this wellness and join in. To participate, just click HERE and follow her directions.