Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mini bears

These little guys are one of the biggest sellers I have at craft shows, which is funny because they're made out of scraps and remnants of larger projects.  They take recycling to a whole new level.

The mini bears came about because two Christmases ago, someone complained that my larger stuffed animals were too expensive to be dog toys.  (They were, and I was appalled that he even wanted to give one to his dog, but it's his money).

So I decided to make these little guys, very simple shapes, basic embroidered faces, yarn bows tied through their necks.

And almost no one buys them for their dogs.  A customer this spring called them "hush bears," because they're the perfect thing -- inexpensive and small -- to quiet a howling toddler.

Recently, I did send a mini bear to my friend, Maria Wulf, for her new dog, who certainly seems to appreciate it.

But the bulk of the bears go to kids, large and small, and the occasional adult.  I display them at shows in this picnic basket I found at the thrift store, one of my favorite finds ever.  And how can you go wrong with storage and display in one?

I finally got around to listing them on Etsy yesterday.  I'd never bothered, since they do well enough at in-person shows, but the scraps keep coming, so I'll keep making them, and it never hurts to have another outlet.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Cat with the Mat

This is Bear a/k/a Louise a/k/a Weeza.  She dislikes me.  Strenuously.

She dislikes Mario.  She dislikes most of the other cats.

She refuses to be touched, or brushed or have her nails clipped.  She refuses to groom herself.  Therefore, she looks like a dustmop a lot of the time.

She doesn't really have mats, she has short, stubby dreadlocks that feel more like cardboard than hair.  She's self-felted.

Lately, I've been bribing her with Lily's leftovers, and in exchange for scraps of wet food, she allows me to run a comb over her back, and occasionally, if I'm lucky, take scissors to the larger mats.

It's going to take months, but I've determined to get her smooth and cat-shaped again.

She'll still dislike me, but at least I'll only feel bad about that, and not how awful she looks.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pictures in an album

One of my many current projects combines my family's packrat problem with my attempts to declutter.

Sometimes you don't want to get rid of things that have sentimental value, but keeping them in a box, buried deep in a closet, serves no purpose.  If things are hidden away, and  you never see them, is there really much point in still having them?  (I know, there are exceptions to every rule, but hear me out).

My family took lots of pictures.  They had them developed, and then they put them in boxes, albums, more boxes, folders, envelopes, and, occasionally, frames.  They did this for decades.  And then they died.  Without ever having gotten rid of one picture, much less the negatives.

And I got the them.  All of them.  Boxes and albums and folders and envelopes and frames worth.  In addition to the ones I'd scavenged myself over the years.

These pictures were a huge part of my childhood.  Whenever I was visiting a relative, I always asked to look through the picture box and made them tell me stories.  Same with my mom -- if I was bored, it was always, "Tell me a story."  At least until I got old enough to dig through them and make up my own stories, which was sometimes even better.

I realized recently, while I was cleaning out the living room closet, that I had almost two full copy paper boxes of old photographs.  WTF?

In addition to all those pictures, I had two vintage photo albums, the kind with the cord ties and black construction paper pages.  Two BRAND NEW vintage photo albums, because apparently they were too good to ever use either.

Does anyone still even make those little paper corners for putting photos into albums?  I'm sure they do, but after wondering for a few minutes, instead I dumped all the pictures on the floor (should have taken a photo of THAT), did a quick sort for duplicates, blurry photos, crap I didn't want and cemetery photos (family liked to take pictures of headstones with flowers for relatives who couldn't attend funerals -- thankfully someone had already culled the photos from the viewings, because I really didn't want to run into any dead relatives), and then I started in with putting the photos in the albums.

I started with my great-grandmom and my great-aunts and grandfather, because that's where the photos started.  I'm working my way through my mom's early childhood at this point, and I've just started the second album.  I think by the time I get through the second one, I'll have dealt with my own childhood.

And I'm doing something unspeakable.  I'm not using little photo corners.  I've taken a glue stick to all these precious hundred year old photographs and you know what?  I'm the only one who's probably ever going to see them -- or value them -- so who cares?  They're a lot more protected in an album than they were getting all creased and torn in boxes, and I'm having a really good time going through them and deciding how to place them, and which ones to keep and which ones to throw away.

I'm also not having a problem throwing photos away.  If there were 10 pictures taken at the same family birthday party, I don't need to keep all 10.  I need to keep one or 2 that have everyone in them, or a particularly good shot of someone I loved, but the rest of them can go in the recycling.

It's actually very freeing.  If I'm going to keep a museum to the past in my house, and we all do, in some form or another, it's going to be a curated museum, with the pieces chosen and displayed just so, in a way that can be enjoyed.

And the rest can go, with my thanks.  Their work here is done.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fruits of my labor

The garden is coming along, as gardens do in July, especially when there's been a lot of rain.

This was what I brought in on Saturday afternoon.  The cucumbers are a bit bigger than I generally like, but the pot they're growing in was hidden behind some very high weeds (I told you it was raining), and I hadn't seen them sooner.

The tomatoes are also coming along.  The Juliet tomatoes, which are my favorite variety to put in the dehydrator, are a very viny tomato, and they've clambered up into the rose bushes when I wasn't looking.  I was planning to prune those rose bushes, but then I'd  have to invest in lots of tomato supports, and it just doesn't seem worth it.  I'll let them grow.

The blueberry bushes are slowing down a bit -- the bowl here is about 2 cups worth, and up until now I've been bringing in a full bowl every couple of days.  Since there weren't enough of them to have a proper evening snack, I made blueberry muffins and we had those instead.

There were enough left for breakfast, and for a snack this afternoon after we got done working over at Mario's house (up for sale, not selling, and in need of a bit of a sprucing up).  Patching drywall makes a woman hungry, especially in 90 degree weather.

Once we got in and had a muffin -- and wine, don't judge! -- I spent some time in the workroom.  This was supposed to be a very productive weekend, if you looked at the list I made up on Friday.  And yet I'd gotten to Sunday afternoon with most of it still un-crossed off.

I tried to fix that in a few hours and didn't do a half bad job.  I have an outdoor event next Saturday and I wanted to do another big batch of microwave bowls, plus I finished a few dresses I'd started earlier in the week and cut and pinned another batch of the mini teddy bears.

Tomorrow is Monday, and I'm back in the office.  It's not awful, but I'd rather be in my workroom.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Lessons from my mother

Mom at 16, nothing but legs,
boobs and attitude.  
My mother had a saying.

My mother had many sayings, most of them memorable, quite a few of them containing the word "shit" or something else that got me in trouble for repeating when I was a kid.

But overall, they've held up well.

Take this little gem, which I repeated to myself a few times yesterday when I started the pointless, "I wish the show had gone better" refrain in my head.

Mom would have said . . .

"Wish in one hand, shit in the other.  See which one fills up first."


She followed that up with, "The only time it's okay to wish is at Christmas.  The rest of the time, the hell with wishing.  Go do what needs to be done, and if you can't do it, get someone else to do it for you, and if you're good, you can convince them it was their idea to do it."

I believe she first imparted this piece of wisdom when I was about six.  At the time, all my wishing was probably (absolutely) focusing on what I wanted for Christmas.  But she did repeat herself, and eventually it sunk in.

Wishing won't get the job done.  All it will do is make you feel worse about whatever didn't work out right the first time.  Wish in one hand . . . or find a way to do what needs doing.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Highs and lows

Today was the Narberth Music & Arts Summer Festival.  I did this one last year, and it was a pretty good day.

Today, not so much.

Today, in a word, sucked.  On ice.

There are days like that, and thankfully they don't happen very often.  Today, at least, the weather was fabulous (after drenching rain all day yesterday), the other vendors were great, and I came home with an amazing gift from a fellow vendor, blog reader and one half of a multi-talented couple.

One of Damp Cellar Turnings' shaving brush and bowl sets
In addition to being a pretty impressive home winemaker, the shop -- called Damp Cellar Turnings (because their damp cellar is where all the magic happens) -- has a wonderful selection of handmade wooden items (mostly pens and shaving-related goods), all of which are lovely to the touch and reasonably priced.

The wine has moved from the counter to the wine rack, and in some cases the fridge.  There wasn't time to chill it in time to be the glass (or two --  don't judge) that I needed after I unpacked after my day.

Some days, you're the pigeon and other days you're the statute.  

Do statues drink wine?


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New Venues

One of the most difficult parts in building this business is trying to get my work into new venues -- stores, markets, etc.

It's been a good week on several fronts, in that respect.

Locally, I've now expanded into Bucks County at Spunky Candles & Crafts, a cute little shop in downtown Bristol.  They started out as a candle company, but once they found a retail space they realized it would make a more interesting shop if they invited other makers to display their wares alongside, so there I am.

Also, I sent a batch of dresses to upstate New York to my artist friend, Maria Wulf's, open house this weekend.  She and her husband, writer/photographer Jon Katz, do an open house at their Bedlam Farm twice a year, and Maria turns her studio into a gallery space.

You can read about the Open House here.