Flea Bitten

IMG_0153It has been a LONG time between flea “bites”.  Since we moved away from my favorite hunting ground, the Elephant’s Trunk (so sorely missed), there just haven’t been many opportunities for great finds.  Here in my new spot, there are still! boxes to be unpacked…mostly, just those kinds of treasures.  In a way, I guess I have saved the “best for last”.    In the last year, not many things have leapt off a table or shelf into my hands.  But, that very thing happened this week.  Twice!

I know most people don’t shop the Goodwill for “eye-candy”, but it has always been one of my favorites.  You just NEVER know what you might find.   Look what I found!  Fairy tales in Japanese? or is that Chinese? with such gorgeous illustrations!  Think I am going to turn the pages into envelopes…

Envelopes?  A totally fair question.  Blame Pinterest.  I saw a pin that caught my mind and it just won’t let go.  Last week, while dropping off a donation to the Habitat Re-Store (house-fixing still taking precedence over time in the studio), I found a couple of truly battered books for a dollar to try out the idea…


Probably, not “art”…just some cheap fun.  Will see where it leads…hopefully, not to an entire shelf of old books needing a new life…

ps:  I am trying out using my phone for photos…they will get better…(fingers crossed, because it sure makes the whole process simpler at the moment…)

Deviating from the Printed Path

IMG_0142The week has been gray, gray, gray, and rainy.  Thankfully, no snow.  Work on the house continues.  In the last few days, I have painted a very large closet, soon to be a pantry (and, hopefully, NOT the catch-all for everything else that still needs a spot).  I have painted the trim; the shelves are in place.  Done.  Cross that one off the list.  I have also painted three ceilings, and put the first coat on the walls of two of those spaces…There has been no progress in the studio…

Except for the knitting.  It is the current “pick-up work” when I just have to take a break…and that might be why, about four rows into the “modest ruffle” as described by the instructions, I discovered I had flipped the “right-side/wrong-side” row sequence, totally veering off the intended stockinette finish.  UGH.  Ripping back, or “tinking”, as I have heard it called (sounds more charming than the actual process) was not happening.  There were nearly 300 stitches in each row!  I took a leap of “whatever”, and LEFT THE DIRECTIONS behind!  Risky business, believe me.

The large band of bumpy stitches in the photo is my sorry mistake.  Whatever is beyond that is my attempt to recover from it…so far, so good.   The pattern calls for 10 rows of stockinette…don’t know if my extra row of yarn overs will make my ruffle “immodest”…but, it just doesn’t look done yet…I AM keeping track of that ws/rs business, though.  And, oddly, the project has all of a sudden gotten much more engaging.  Go figure.

Using the “Shotgun” Approach…

I freely admit it.  I am, “oh, so tired” of this “making art on the run” bit  (and that doesn’t even address the excavating of the “good” stuff  still in the pile in the first place, and then, the securing of a flat surface to play/work with it).  And, inspiration for serious, thoughtful work???  At this point, totally, just not there: I am SO done with the distraction of it all…

But unfortunately, I still live in a project “under construction”, with boxes (in an ever-dwindling pile, thank goodness)  still waiting, taunting…

One might propose that if I have lived without the stuff in those boxes for this long, maybe I don’t need it???  Not so.  EVERY box at this point yields treasure and inspiration…after all, the pots and pans were unpacked months ago.  What is left is the good stuff…

My response has been to be inspired by what is at hand.  Therefore, I am


knitting an infinity scarf using three gorgeous yarns found when I unpacked my “stash”.


…trying once again to be a “knitter”…that being “one who can follow directions and end up with something useful”…as well as beautiful???


Struggling with directions (written by a man…just saying…) to make a fun and lovely scarf, spotted in a yarn store during the holidays…a yarn store, that,  I have to admit, I had no business wandering into…stay tuned…I haven’t given up yet.


…and, just messing around with a chunk of rubber (and, my daughter) having fun egging each other on to cut ever more silly stamps…which turned into pieces and parts of a village…having way too much fun to quit now…  So far,  I have houses, a store, some roofs, a flag, a street light, a fence with a gate with a heart carved into it…a topiary in a pot(!!!)…more to come…all, just plain fun.


…which led to the challenge of what to carve into the leftover, cut-away shapes…


Not to mention, the acquisition of some lovely wool roving  (note to self…”stay OUT OF THAT YARN SHOP!”)…I was planning to order felt balls online…(Have you seen the lovely things by FacileCecile on Pinterest?)  I think some time with hot water, soap and the wool above is in my future…but, isn’t that the truly wonderful thing about a fresh new year though?  new ideas… unlimited possibilities?


And then there is that pesky new year’s resolution to try to get some of those ideas that are like the bumper cars in a penny arcade, careening around in my head, onto a piece of paper in some serious kind of way in which they might actually be available to inspire when all else seems to be “just done” and dull…a run-on sentence if there ever was one…but, thank goodness for the “run-on” of ideas at the moment, one good one, leading to the next great one…no creative block here, at the moment…truly, inspiration “run amok”…

That’s it…the shotgun approach to just getting something done…it all counts, right?  a Happy New Year…it can be exhausting, don’t you think?

Christmas Leftovers…


We just got home.  Sent the kids back to their “spots” last night.  They got home safely.

It is a new year, but I am feeling like I am not quite done with Christmas.  It was such a rush to get the “painting project”, i.e., the house, in shape for company on Christmas day; Seventeen for dinner…haven’t ever had my dining room table stretched out so far.  And all that lovely china and old silverware added to the day’s sparkle.  It was such a joy to drag out the familiar old (and much treasured) ornaments and decorations to find new places for them to shine.  The house feels more like home now.  It was a good holiday.  I am going to savor it all for just a few more days before the ladders and brushes come out again.

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A Post Script…only because it seems like it must be said:  We celebrated the holiday; we savored the good family times; we truly enjoyed being altogether…we “got through”…IMG_5428


Tai-Jin was sorely missed, will forever, be missed…but, we got through.

May this New Year be a good one for you and yours…we are hoping for the same.







In the “Nick” of Time

IMG_5411Like many, I assume, there are things I love doing for the holidays, and things that get done because others in my family love them, or would sorely miss them, if they didn’t happen.  Given that I am having Christmas dinner for seventeen in a room that just barely got finished (dark cranberry red has given way to shell pink; wainscoting and trim, a bright, soft white), doing “my things” for Christmas has been a challenge.  But, my ornaments are finally DONE!  Cut out and sewn “on the fly” between painting and unpacking sessions… stuffed with polyfil on the plane to California… beaded in the early mornings with coffee while everyone else slept, during our visit…”feathered”, over the last week at odd moments…”winged”, the last few days…signed and dated yesterday…DONE!

IMG_5405I like them.  The inspiration for them was a small scrap of fabric that came in my box of shibori silk scraps from Carter Smith.  It was an oddly-shaped piece of  embroidered brocade that went from rose through violet, to blue.  With strategic arranging, and choosing to use a scrap of a lovely red-violet shot silk for the other half of the heart, I was able to make twelve.  That is a good number.  My kids love getting “first pick”; three, for family, a few for random acts of gifting…and, hopefully, several left, at the end for me.

I love that each heart is different and yet, part of a collection.   Carter’s brocade set the scheme; the purple silk was from my stash; the vintage metallic inset, a victim of the randomness of an ice-dyeing session… voila…twelve hearts, each related, but unique.  The cut glass bead  embellishments were also from my stash.  To travel, I had to “pre-edit”.   I took two small plastic containers, each with six pie-shaped sections with snap-tight lids.  I filled them with some sparkly violet, green and multi-metallic larger beads for around the edges of the heart, some seed beads to anchor them, and, some oval beads from an old mother of pearl necklace…and hoped for the best.  In some ways, the limitations inspired some unusual pairings.  That was good.

Once I got home, figuring out what to use for “wings” was a bit tough.  I guess the choice of feathers (now that the hearts are finished) seems obvious!  But, it took me a while and some grazing among my stuff to settle on them.  That green feathered hat gave its all!  It looked like a “ratty” old thing, but it yielded many, many beautiful feathers: some, striped, some a bright green, others, various shades of dark green…all, just the perfect size.  They were gathered and stitched into wings, then attached in pairs to the back of each heart.  Small sequinned disks (bought in a street market stall on my trip to Amsterdam in October) and a dome-shaped brass finding anchored the wings in place…

IMG_5418I am not sure if others find these ornaments to be “odd”.  For me, they are the result of a creative journey which happens during a special time of the year.    I hope you have traditions that make your holidays special too.  Enjoy.



Minor Victories?

As of a few weeks ago, we have now been in our “new” house for over a year.  And, though it seems that I have had a paint brush as a somewhat permanent extension to my right hand for most of the year, there remain rooms to be painted, and boxes to be unpacked.  Most importantly, time in the studio is still very “hit or miss”, mostly “miss”.  But, oh how good it feels whenever I “drop in” to gather together sketches and supplies for the random pick-up work that keeps me feeling like the artist I used to be…

This year’s holiday cards got done that way.  Stopping in to pull out potential papers, to trace out shapes to be cut “on the fly”, then to punch, stamp and glue…a few at a time, in random stolen moments.  More than once I have taken and edited photos as the cards took shape to post…even, posted some that were “up” for about a day.   But, I truly hated them (think all the gold foil really confused my “smart” camera).  Tried taking photos on sunny days, and on those far more common gray November ones.  I finally gave up, snapped a picture with my phone, and that is the one that graces this post (so to speak…)

IMG_0100In the scheme of things, I know that homemade cards just aren’t that important.  But, I have made them for years and years.  I enjoy the once a year challenge to make a small piece of art in a series using random stuff from my stash.  And, hopefully the friends and family with whom I share them look forward to receiving them as part of their holidays, as well.  This year, though designing and making them happened in random “free” moments, finishing them seems like a victory of sorts.  Happy holidays!  I hope you and yours have one filled with meaningful traditions of your own.

Looking Up

IMG_0107Been so busy “doing”, haven’t done much “looking”, especially “up”.   Spent last week visiting my kids,  doing what moms do…looked up and saw this from my son’s back deck.  Sort of puts things in perspective…Note to self:  “look up more”.

Raiding the Stash…

IMG_5354There is no way around the fact that this has been a tough year.   Last November, we had just closed on the house.  Over the next few weeks, we were moving back and forth between New York and here, packing up, loading trucks, unloading trucks and building ever taller piles of boxes…Christmas came and went (did get my cards done AND my ornaments made!)  But then, in early January, my mom got very sick, and in March,  my son-in-law was killed by a drunk driver.  Progress on the house took a back seat to the more important stuff…

And now, it is again November. We have been here a year.  The house painting is progressing once again; but for the most part, my studios are not…still full of boxes to be unpacked and piles to be dealt with…

I know most everyone has certain traditions, the “must-do’s”, for this time of year.  For me, there are those two: I make cards and I make ornaments.  For some (any totally reasonable person), it might not be such a big deal to “let them go, just this once”…for me, though,  it is a point of “honor”??? (or proof of sheer stubbornness) to not let the chaos win…I AM making those cards; and, I WILL turn that pile of stuff in the photo above into a few lovely keepsake ornaments to share with some very special people in my life…stay tuned…


A Sea of Color


IMG_5334Success all around.  The pile of odd balls and old colors are mostly gone.  What is left will be stashed among  other threads that WILL get used in the general way of things.  A few squares still need some ends worked in.  They are sitting here by my chair, waiting to be finished during those random moments in my days…the project no longer needs dedicated attention.  It’s time to put one of those dishcloths at the sink…and see how it works.  I guess a smarter artist (not sure that term truly applies here) would have made ONE and tried it out. I think I just needed to play with some colors in a low-key, undemanding way.  Even if they don’t last, fall apart, and get ugly, I have decided I truly don’t care.  I am thinking of them sort of like one thinks about a bouquet of fresh flowers:  they don’t have to last forever to be lovely in their time.

Planning Ahead

IMG_5343With the topsy-turvy aspect to my life these days  (and the seemingly unending miles of trim still to paint), I am planning ahead…thinking about my holiday cards.  Making them is one of my favorite Christmas activities.  I’m not sure why.  You might think that making forty or more of something would get pretty tedious.  For some reason, it is actually sort of meditative.   It might be the “traditional” aspect of the whole process that appeals (I have made them for many, many years).  I hope friends and family look forward to receiving them…it has to be better mail than a bill, right?

Over the years,  as my cards have gotten more complicated (and my time more precious), I have been designing a card that can hang on a tree, or in a window, or mark a place in a book…a keepsake that will hopefully never see the inside of the recycling  bin.  I do try to come up with a design that seems complex, but is actually simple to construct.   I like the challenge.  I am gathering together possibilities…and have decided that it is now time to start using “the good stuff”…no way do I want to pack it up and move it again…