Don’t Play With Fire

I have mentioned from time to time that my parents, my Dad in particular, didn’t get the art thing. He was proud of me to be sure, but it was more in the “Look what my offspring can produce” department. Its fine, at this point in my life I actually find it amusing, gives me material for making fun. Actually I believe that’s where my hobby of making fun of the general public comes from. My Dad makes fun of everyone. Dad would very often pass comment about me, he would refer to me as eccentric, or bleeding weirdo. I had an incident today involving my project and flame that reminded me of one of those times with him. I think I may have been nineteen or twenty, as always I was is my room with the door closed, music playing, and I was painting. I had a small candle burning. The wind blew through an open window and the curtain caught the candle flame. In an instant the curtains were in flames. I can honestly say in an emergency, I am the person you want near by. No panic, I may worry myself into a frenzy later about what I should or shouldn’t have done, but in the moment of the emergency I am as calm as can be. I put the fire out. Then I heard them, the sound of his footsteps on the stairs. Crap! The room smelled of melted polyester. I moved towards the window and stood to hide the charred curtain. Dad walked into my room, “What is that smell? What are you doing?” “Nothing, I’m painting and I had a candle burning.” Hoping the entire time that he wouldn’t see behind me.  “Bleeding weirdo, no more candles in the bedroom.” With that he walked out. I later heard him telling my mother what a weirdo I was. I learned my lesson, at least about candles and open windows. I waited until he was at work the next day to throw the curtains out.

This little tale brings me to today. I have two or three times in the past eight months showed a technique for burning brown paper so that it looks like metal. I saw an old metal sign on an auction site. It is a perfect gift for my daughter and her husband, they are newspaper people. The sign was much, much more than I can afford these days, so I simply made my own. I don’t like to use work without giving credit, so this is officially credit. To whomever created this piece, nice work! I love it. I wish I could have bought the actual piece, but money is tight. I decided to recreate the piece using my burning technique. (Speaking of credit, I think I first saw the burning technique on Aleene’s crafts a million years ago. Not quite as sophisticated as I do it, but credit…) I hadn’t planned to use this piece for the blog tonight, it’s a Christmas gift, but it took me the better part of the afternoon to cut it out, thus no time for other art. I decided to try the technique not on brown paper, but on a heavier white board. I drew the design on the white board, and cut out the negative spaces, coated the entire thing in glue, and began to burn. I was coming out beautifully, in silver tones unlike the bronze tones of using the brown paper. I was enjoying the process until suddenly the end caught fire. Yes that’s right, fire. No panic, I put out the fire. I thought it was ruined, but I loved the top so much, and thought it looked so good I didn’t want to lose it. I lost the center P, and parts of the A and E. I made new letters from the left over scraps of cardboard, attached the letters to the bottom, re-glued and burned. Afterwards I burnished the entire piece with both silver and bronze metallic paint. I think this one was a happy accident, I love the results. IMG_3245





The finish project with repairs.

The Three Little Kittens

No rants tonight, no complaints, just some words about my “Three Little Kittens”. There are many days when I really have no idea what I’m going to do for an art project. Then there are those days when something just pops out at me. Today it was Riley, our cat, rather a photo of Riley that I took a week or two ago. Riley is a tabby cat, and I have to say with no prejudice what so ever, the cutest cat I’ve ever seen. We have two others, and lost Spouncer our older cat a few years ago, but none are a cute as Riley. Contrary to what people say about cats, ours are not standoffish. Mia, who is our three-year old makes an appearance nightly, announcing herself in a loud mew that she is ready to be petted by me. It doesn’t matter if I am busy, she jumps in my lap and remains there while I pet her until she has decided she has had enough and leaves. If I dare stop petting before she gives leave I get a few mews, sometimes a little bite, (to remind me that I’m not doing my job) or she begins the process of petting herself by head butting me. Sophie, our most recent addition only likes to be held by the men in the family. She favors being held up in the air. It’s a very funny and strange thing. Riley is our oldest, she will be fourteen in March, and loves nothing more than to be with us. She follows me from room to room, but if Dan is seated she is in his lap. She sits there every morning as he reads the paper which is where I took the photo that I sketched from this evening. The drawing is pencil with the exception of her eyes which I tinted green with pastel chalk. I love cats, I love quiet and they fit right in with that, except when Mia decides to chase Riley across our bed in the middle of the night, then it’s not so quiet and they aren’t so cute.12 20


One of Riley’s cutest…May 2011 020

The lovely Mia…April 2012 (3)

our little Sophie.DSC05702And our beautiful Spouncer.



The last vestiges of glitter remain in the crevices of my wood floors, but aside from that I’m ready for Christmas, at least on the first floor. As if I didn’t have enough to do I tore my studio apart, the second floor of our house looks like the aftermath of a tornado. I know I’m just a little crazy, but this has been such a bad year that I am determined to head into 2014 ahead of the game, and set up for success. I started this blog/project carrying some very heavy psychological baggage, I am two-thirds of the way through, its time to move forward. I’ve subjected anyone who reads this blog to my working out my artistic issues, and quite a few personal ones as well. Not something I set out to do. Actually I don’t know what I started out to do other than to use up art supplies. I honestly didn’t think about it prior to heading into it. I guess I thought I would create art and talk about it. I never dreamed that my life would change so much, or that I would find myself pouring my heart out to the vast unknown. I think at this point maybe some of you know me more than you want to. There have been nights when I have gotten on a rant on something completely non art related only to stop myself and backspace it into oblivion. I have a steel rod of self-righteousness that runs straight up my spine. It can be used for both good and evil, but when I get upset about things it is bad, really bad. I obsess. I try not to let my obsession spill out onto these pages. I need to redirect my efforts.  I’ve mentioned selling my work in the past, but haven’t bitten the bullet as of yet. I began the steps to rectify that tonight. I opened up a second Facebook account for business, a place to tie this blog, my etsy account, and my pinterest all together . The next step for me will be some serious self counseling for separation anxiety. I don’t like to be separated from my work. It needs to be done. I was hoping that over the course of this project that I would produce enough art that I wouldn’t take it so hard when one left the nest. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened. I still have trouble letting go of my babies, but I want and need to contribute to the care of my family. Sometimes I find myself feeling sad, wishing I could go back and tell my younger self to go for it. To recognize what a gift I have and to do something with it. These days I do a lot of talking myself out of feeling old and regretting I didn’t get a handle on things sooner. There’s no going back, and quite frankly this is a year I would never want to revisit, with one exception, my daughter’s wedding. Seeing your child be so happy makes the separation just a little better.

I’ve been crafting for weeks and not putting forth my best work. Time to restart the project. I decided that I need a little back to basics. I had hoped to have more time to paint today, but cleaning all that fairy dust takes time. In the end I decided to just do some drawing. My scissors, as if I hadn’t seen enough of them in the last few weeks. Maybe its symbolic, time to cut out my nonsense…get it? I know, I should have quit while I was ahead. IMG_3237


Sun Kissed Trees

They’re here, the snowmen. It took me roughly two hours to arrange them, there are far too many, and it seems like an awful lot of work for the amount of time that they are out, but I do love my snowmen. In particular, as I mentioned last night, things my kids make are always my favorites.  The collection was never meant to get this large. I had intended only to collect vintage snowmen, but you know how it is. People think that you want any snowman and they begin to buy them for you. Then thanks to my Catholic brain, I feel too guilty to not put them out. You never know when someone might fly in from Chicago to make sure that the gift they gave me ten years ago is still on display.


An embroidery project from Brian in the third grade.


And a reverse glass painting Jessica did at home with me at about age six.IMG_3219

The entire display. We have an old built-in from Chicago that we bought at a salvage yard and restored. It makes a perfect snowman display case.


All this Christmas decorating doesn’t give me a lot of extra time for art, but I was in the mood to draw tonight. There have been some particularly beautiful sunrises in the last few days, and I wanted to recreate one. I was looking to do something soft so I decided on pastel chalk. I didn’t want to do a complete landscape. I love the way that the morning sun kisses the tops of the trees. 12 18

Feeling Merry and Bright

Dare I say it? I’m feeling just a little merry, as in Christmas. We went out today to get our tree. It’s really sort of a non event for us. We don’t have little ones who are excited. There is also the fact that as we chose our tree I was taking photos in the garden center at Home Depot to torture my sisters with. (Come to think of it that made it worth the trip.) I knew it was snowing in Chicago and it was eighty-four here. The temperature also affects the way I feel. When you grow up in the Midwest you want a white Christmas. The only snow I see here is on the tops of the mountains which are more than an hour away. I’m not complaining. I’m getting older, and I am getting to the age where every injury I have sustained in my life is tapping me on the shoulder to say, “Ha, forgot about me didn’t you?” I hurt in multitudes of places depending on the day. I can only imagine what some nice icy weather would do to me. I think I miss the idea of a white Christmas more than anything else. Didn’t I say I was merry? Doesn’t sound like it, but I am, really I am.

There is also this, before we moved to California we cut down our own tree. Our home was outside the city and we lived only a few minutes from a tree farm. I have fond memories of going with the kids in the cold picking our tree, coming back to the house and drinking something hot, and decorating the tree. The experience isn’t quite as picturesque at the home improvement store when I’m too warm to wear a jacket, but once the tree is in the house, and the boxes of ornaments come out, I’m in full holiday mode. I am a very sentimental woman, I remember nearly every ornament and when we got it. My favorites of course are the goofy ones that the kids made, and one that my mother in law made. It is in the tradition of the old German ornaments made with cotton and cloth with the exception of a cut out from a photo of Jessica’s face. It was really cute when it was new, but as the years have gone by it has gotten really creepy looking. I make sure to put it front and center. The tree wouldn’t be complete without creepy Baby Jessica.  Every year I am also reminded of an ornament I made a very long time ago. It was in the third grade. When I was a kid there weren’t many of the current safety regulations in place. We created an ornament with a Styrofoam ball, toothpicks, paint, and glitter. I remember mine was orange. We had to stick the toothpicks all around this ball, dunk it in paint, and then again in glitter. It wasn’t an ornament, it was a deadly weapon. Like a giant porcupine ball, or some Medieval instrument of torture. (Possibly a craft idea inspired by the Inquisition?)  I can’t imagine a school these days allowing kids to make anything close to it.  Of course once the ornaments come out, the snowmen come out. I’ve mentioned my dirty little collecting secret before. I haven’t taken them out of the boxes quite yet, they are awaiting my attention in the morning. (Photo tomorrow night)

Tree trimming in our house usually starts with Vince Guaraldi and the music from Charlie Brown Christmas. It sets the tone perfectly. Dan really likes Charlie Brown Christmas so a few years ago I made him a Charlie Brown tree and painted an ornament red for him to hang from it. I also painted a few ornaments for him as a gift.  They will have to suffice as my art project for the day. I spent the morning creating my Dad’s five Irish fairies. (Much thanks to my cousin Lorna in Ireland for giving me the correct spelling of Merry Christmas in Gaelic.) One of the things I truly love about the artistic abilities I have is that when I want to make something special for someone, I have the skill to do so. It makes me very happy…I mean merry.12 17 (3)

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12 17 (2)And finally, a few Irish fairies.

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Rantings Of A Not Quite Hypocondriac

Dear Grocery Store Owners,

I am deathly allergic to those hideous scented pine cones that you insist on placing at the entrances of your establishment. The detergent aisle is bad enough, its like running a gauntlet for me. I have to try to get through the aisle picking up cleaning products while holding my breath. Does it ever occur to you that you may be asphyxiating the general public? Or maybe that’s the plan. Get them coming in the door, hit them with overwhelmingly intoxicating fragrance in order to dull brain cells so that they don’t notice that the mayonnaise jar is six ounces smaller but still costs the same, or that they will think the ever so slightly smaller box of corn flakes is an optical illusion. (I realize that the store owners themselves are not resizing the products, but they do have something to do with pricing) I’m just asking if it is possible to limit the “festive holiday aroma” to one door so I don’t need my inhaler by the time I hit the produce section.

…Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. I am admittedly guilty of ruining my own respiratory system with art materials, however between the pine cones of Christmas and the Star Gazer Lilies of Easter, I can barely walk in the store. Don’t get me started on the guerrilla warfare of the mall kiosks that sell perfume and hand lotion. Random people popping out as I walk by trying to slather me with some scented concoction. This is what Christmas shopping does to me. I get annoyed, and that is never good.

The funny thing is that what got me started tonight was a pleasant memory, so let’s go down that route instead. I’m not feeling great today, actually haven’t been for a couple of weeks. I went to the doctor today to get some test results, and you know because I am Irish that prior to my visit I was getting my affairs in order. You know the usual stuff you think about before you get test results, like how will my family go on without me? Who will remind Dan and Brian that we need milk and toilet paper? And of course my worst fear, how much will my family curse me after I’m gone because I have so much crap that they will have to dispose of? Good news, I’m not dying, yet. No actual answers for some unexplained pain, and I don’t get a follow-up doctor appointment for another two weeks, which will fill my days with thoughts of probable diseases. I’ll bet Dan is overjoyed.Wait, wasn’t I talking about a good memory? Yes, it’s this. I miss my Mom. She died six and a half years ago. I particularly miss her when I don’t feel well. She was an avid reader of the Star and Enquirer and probably could have added to my list of suggested diseases. Actually I think we all pretty much want to talk to our mothers when we don’t feel well. Moms just make things better, at least mine did. When we didn’t feel well my Mom made us tea and toast. A hot cup of tea with milk and a spoonful of sugar with a slice of hot buttered toast. It’s still my go to for a not so great day. It reminds me of her, it comforts me. It isn’t of course a substitute for a little motherly sympathy, but it makes me think of her and that always makes things a little better.

I was lazy today. Too much crafting, too much self-imposed worry, too much intoxicating pine cone. A simple little watercolor. I need to get back in the swing of things.IMG_3128

The Upside

Despite what I wrote last night the day wasn’t all bad on Saturday. It was just that I worked so hard preparing for the show, and on my poem, and well, I thought I was so clever that I couldn’t resist using it. Now for the upside. Yesterday was lousy, but I did sit outside all day on a beautiful afternoon with Dan, we did enjoy our favorite pastime, which is making fun of the general public, and we met Isabella. Isabella is a beautiful young girl who was at the show with her parents who also had a booth. Shortly after I set up Isabella came over to our tables. She was enchanted by my fairies, and couldn’t decide which she liked best. Several times throughout the day she came over to play with the fairies, or drag one of her parents over to see them. Eventually she wore her father down. They came over together to choose a fairy. Isabella was beyond excited, and would pick one, then quickly change her mind and choose another. I had mentioned to her earlier in the day that I had created a “Katniss” ornament for my daughter. (For those if you who are out of touch with the universe, Katniss is the character in The Hunger Games) I had a photo of the ornament and showed it to her. That was it, that was the one. Her dad asked if she was sure that she wanted to wait for me to send an ornament rather than buy one that was already on the table. She was very definite about what she wanted. In the photo of Katniss I showed her the ornament was holding a bow, but no arrows. Isabella requested that I not permanently attach the bow, and could I make arrows? Oh, and since the fairies only have eyes could I add a smile? She was so sweet, and then she looked at me shyly and said, ” I still like to play with dolls, especially little ones, I know I’m too old.” I asked her how old she was and she said she was twelve. I said, “Honey, you aren’t too old to play with dolls. My daughter was older when she gave up her Barbie.” She broke into a huge grin. In this day when most kids are nothing more than miniature adults it was so refreshing to see a little girl who was still a little girl. It made my day.  At the end of the show Isabella’s mom came over to tell me how much her daughter loved my things. I told her how sweet I thought her daughter was.  Isabella came over to say goodbye to me before they left. Today I made Isabella’s ornament, including her bow, and arrows and a quiver to keep them in. That wasn’t enough. I want to encourage the imagination of any child that wants to be a child. She said she likes to play with little things, so I’m going to surprise her. When I mail her Katniss in the morning, Katniss will have a friend, her name is Isabella. I made a little doll the size of fairy that resembles Isabella. Of course since Katniss has a bow, arrows and a quiver, Isabella needs them as well, I mean if they’re going to play together… I know I whined and complained about my day, but there really was a wonderful bright light in my day, her name was Isabella.

Tonight a slightly askew watercolor of some flat ware. I was working and watching a movie at the same time so my perspective might just be off a little (any excuse, we know its my nemesis. Damn you evil perspective!) Its been weeks since I sat down and just relaxed. It is a difficult concept for me. I’m not totally unhappy with the results, but it did feel good just to be back working on my project once again.IMG_3112

And just in case you were interested in seeing them, Katniss and Isabella.IMG_3114

Twas Two Weeks Before…

Today was my show. The one I worked so hard for, the one I lost sleep over, the one I neglected this project for. I received several texts from friends and family, all asking the same, “How did it go?” It was a bust. Flat out terrible. There simply were no customers, and those that did come, the same people who would pay $15 for twenty cent piece of plastic at the gift store, turned their noses up at my under-priced items. One even tried to bargain me down. Needless to say I had a lot of time to kill. I used it to write this:

‘Twas two weeks before Christmas

I’ve been trapped in my house,

not a surface sans glitter

including my spouse.

There are no stockings

hanging anywhere,

I’ve been too busy crafting

stuck in my chair.

My cats are all merry

stealing fairy heads.

Why play with their toys

when they can chase my supplies instead?

With no shopping done

and nothing to wrap,

what I need for Christmas

is a really long nap.

My show was today

not sure what’s the matter,

I was hoping and praying

for a wallet that’s fatter.

It’s near the end of the day

and still no cash.

I’m still hoping and praying

for a last-minute shopper dash.

I see lots of people

go to and fro,

but no one seems to want to spend any dough.

I’m running low on Holiday cheer,

we haven’t hit bottom yet is my greatest fear.

Maybe I need some kind of magic trick,

or maybe I should have just called in sick.

There truly is no one person to blame.

I’ve done enough of these shows

to know some are lame.

I’m in a funk I don’t want to be in.

I’m trying to smile but don’t know where to begin.

What I really want is to sit down and bawl,

but I know that won’t help anything at all.

I guess there’s no use in asking why?

Why can’t I get someone to buy?

I guess you all know that I’m feeling blue,

but you’d feel the same if you were sitting here too.

My empty wallet is mathematical proof

2013 has thrown me for a loop.

2014 for you I am bound

to search for the luck that needs to be found.

I’m gearing up for the new year, I’m no pussy-foot.

Bad karma behind me where it needs to be put!

I will promote myself where I have a knack,

art that was learned off the beaten track.

I didn’t succeed with all of those fairies!

Despite my prayer of the Hail Mary.

It’s a Catholic thing as you all must know

to ask for a favor in times of woe.

I won’t give in, I won’t retreat,

instead I need to get back up on my feet.

Its time to load up my pickup the Chevy

I was hoping to leave with boxes much less heavy.

You may think that I’m feeling sorry for myself.

I think it might be the same for yourself

if you wanted to get ahead,

but you kept falling backwards instead.

I’m off to etsy to do some work

on my own little personal merc.

There is no one more than me that knows

that selling on-line does more than these shows.

Just a few more words until your dismissal.

New items tomorrow at the nine o’clock whistle.

Sunday shopping for a fairy or sprite

can be just the thing to make your Holiday bright.

Merry Christmas to all,

here’s my etsy site.

From a very worn out and disappointed me, there isn’t anything new for you to see. But in the spirit of not giving up, an older acrylic from my kitchen. The fridge will be up and running tomorrow with new work.

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Nearing The Finish Line

My last-minute push to get as much done as possible has begun. I always think I have enough time but I never do. I have however produced quite a bit of product in the last month. Considering the amount of time and care I put into what I do I am surprised at the amount I have. I didn’t stop to count tonight, it’s just after ten and I’ve been working pretty much nonstop since eleven this morning. I’m dead tired. I had told Dan earlier today that I wanted to work late tonight, but I’m done. Not that I don’t want to produce more, but I can’t keep going. I will still have to knock out a few pieces tomorrow, but I think I’m ready for Saturdays show. I again today haven’t produced something in particular for my project, I’m just too busy. The show on Saturday is far too important. Tomorrow we are going to work out my display, make signs, etc., and finish up details. I did take one special order today, a very special order, from my Dad. As I’ve mentioned here before, he is Irish. I have also mentioned that he has just moved into independent living. He ordered a couple of “Irish” fairies to give to a few of the ladies at his apartment complex. I guess I’m not taking Sunday off after all.

Fairies once again. I created fairies of the month with monthly flower and birthstone, and one of my favorites, a centerpiece with a baby fairy. The fairy sleeps in a real pumpkin shell that I dried out. One more day and back to our regular programming. IMG_2818