Thursday, October 1, 2009

Support Breast Cancer Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness With AJDJSS

Sadly, most everyone has known someone who's been diagnosed with breast cancer or who's been a victim of domestic violence. Even if you don't, there's no denying that we all need to come together in a show of support.

Throughout October, the Artfire Jewelry Design Jewelry Supply Shop Guild will be participating in a promotion to benefit Breast Cancer/Domestic Violence Awareness. Many guild members are offering special discounts, free shipping and other specials to help raise money for these very worthy causes.

In my studio, I'm offering 30% off any item containing the colors pink (breast cancer) or purple (domestic violence)--that includes all shades of both colors, and there are many to choose from. Just two examples are shown here. In addition, 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the pink pearl and Swarovski two-strand will given to this cause, as well as 20% of all additional pink/purple sales.

Also, add some color and excitement to your day by checking out special offerings from other Guild members. Take a look at all the participating shops and specific items at: You can also make cash donations via Paypal directly from the AJDJSS blog. It's so easy...and so important. Visit my studio at: If you purchase one of the special items, I will send you an updated invoice/cost, so please wait for that update before you pay! :)

My sister-in-law is and mother-in-law were both breast cancer survivors; unfortunately, I can personally testify to the dangers and horrors of domestic violence. It takes courage and strength to fight these battles, and all who fight them deserve our prayers and support.

Don't wait--get involved. You (and so many others) will be glad you did!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sugabeads: Creative Jewlery, Quality Supplies, Really Cool Gal!

A bit ago, I promised a feature on Sugabeads, another Artfire seller, talented jewelry maker, jewelry supply seller and cool friend. Well...a few minor emergencies later and I'm here to fulfill that promise.
I've known Jaclyn for several years. We first 'met' on an eBay jewelry group. She later began a group of her own and, for awhile, I was a moderator for that group. Tranquil Beading Oasis is on hiatus at the moment, but Jaclyn has kept putting her creative talents, and her knack for choosing the highest quality, best jewelry findings and other supplies, to work on her Artfire studio. Named, of course, Sugabeads. So...without further adieu (and be sure to take advantage of her great offer to readers of my blog), heeeeere's Jaclyn!


Sugabeads (, aka Jaclyn is just a small town gal who watches far too much TV, has a huge love for any critter, enjoys history, genealogy and yes, BEADS.

I didn't grow up creating but in my late 20's I wanted to look into beading. Because of the small town I lived in there were no beads available (that was back when the dinosaurs roamed and the internet was just for Al Gore). When the net arrived it opened up alot of great opportunities! BEADS everywhere!

I always dreamt of having something I could call my own. A bead business seemed perfect! Not only did it offer up lovely items to the other beaders of the world but I could borrow an item or two for my own creations as well. Although I do enjoy creating jewelry, selling beads is my main focus.

Selling supplies has its own challenges just like selling jewels. It is hard work, alot of spare time spent listing and preparing photos (I refuse to use stock photos!). There is ALOT of competition out there. High fees to pay for selling low cost items, promoting enough so buyers can find you in this vast sea of supplies and all the little details that go along with any small business.

One of the things I hope makes Sugabeads stand out is a friendly, old fashioned way of serving the public. I like to treat folks as I would like to be treated when I'm a customer.

I'm still working on growing and expanding. It's a challenge when life has other ideas. Like what's for supper, uh-oh time to go to work or OMG look at the DUST on the furniture!!! ;)

And although I won't be retiring to Balmoral Castle (ah yes, Summer there but Winter in Hawaii!) anytime soon I enjoy what I do and will keep on working to have more to offer my customers.

Speaking of offers!!! I'd like to offer Suzanne's present followers FREE shipping on their first order at ARTFIRE (Artfire only please) that is over $20 dollars. Just use the code SUZANNESBLOG at checkout and orders over 20 will have FREE shipping! This offer is good from til

Thank you so much for this feature in your blog Suzanne!! You are just the sweetest lady ever!


Be sure to check out Jaclyn's studio on Artfire, THE online site for unique, handmade gifts, at: take advantage of her great offer!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hang On...Sugabeds ISComing

I've decided to do a more 'in-depth' feature on Jaclyn from Artfire's Sugabeads, so the post I reportedly was to write today, won't be written until Friday or Saturday (and after tomorrow's eye surgery).

Please stay tuned. You won't want to miss Sugabeads' great jewelry supplies, her gorgeous handmade jewelry and her story (or, what she'll let me tell LOL!).

In the meantime, you can check out her studio at Or simply visit for an almost unending selection of the best and the brightest unique gifts and handmade crafts and artwork that will blow your mind!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Supply Closet Offers Unique Beading and Craft Supplies

The Artfire Jewelry Designers and Jewelry Supply Sellers Guild Guild of the Week for Sept. 7 is Supply Closet. There are several online jewelry and craft supply sellers from which I regularly shop, and I'm definitely going to add this one to my (very short) supplier list.

Supply Closet offers not just beads, but findings and a wide array of wonderful ceramic sliders just perfect for all kinds of crafts. Take a look at just a few of the items available:

Visit Supply Closet at:

For all your handmade items and supplies, visit, THE online marketplace for the best, most talented and most unique crafts and supplies on the internet.

Tomorrow I'm going to feature Suga Beads, one of my absolute favorite seller of jewelry supplies and beautiful handmade jewelry. And a darn cool person to boot! :P

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Creatuve Critters & Luv to Sparkle Ride the Artfire Crazy Train

Lately, I've been a bit remiss in my blogging. For my part, I guess that's fine, but I do like to promote the talented artisans that ride the Artfire Crazy Train! Many times in these instances, I wish I could post a photo of each item in each artist's shop. Sadly, I have only a weensy bit of patience post a few photographs, so I try to choose photos I really, really like and that I think any reader might like, too!

And so it goes with Michelle who is responsible for bringing Artfire, the online choice for unique gifts and treasures, the whimsy that is Creative Critters. Adept in several different media, Michelle works with polymer clay, cloth and yarn to create adorable figures, cute and cuddly dolls any girl would love, jewelry and plush and clay figures from World or Warcraft. Just look at the photos below and visit Creative Critters at

Who Doesn't Luv to Sparkle?

Luv to Sparkle is definitely an Artfire studio for the young, and the young at heart.

From Maricopa, AZ, Luv to Sparkle uses resin, metal, stickers, glitters and other materials to create fun, fascinating and colorful necklaces, bracelets, hairpins and other jewelry. Although many of this artist's pieces are childhood themed, anyone with a youthful outlook on life (or anyone who wants one), will find something in this studio to make them smile. Just visit:

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Doing Wrong When You're (Trying to) Doing Right?

Over the past two days, I'd been having a discussion with my stepson on Facebook about health care reform. I am for it, he is against it, and that is O.K. This country is all about freedom of beliefs and the ability to speak out as you wish.

He is also a fundamentalist Christian. I believe in Christ and try to follow all his teachings to the best of my human-inflicted abilities but, at the moment, I do not regularly attended any church. I find that 'organized religion' of late has been more about fomenting hatred, intolerance and even violence...things I simply cannot abide in any form or for any reason.

I mentioned to my stepson that Christ admonished us to care for the poor and the sick. He responded by saying that 'that was a strange thing coming from someone who thinks Christ is a liar and/or insane."

Needless to say, I was deeply offended and even more deeply hurt by this comment. Neither of those statements are true in any respect. He went on to proselytize to me and as much as tell me that I would go to hell when I died if I did not 'admit my sins and accept Christ'.

Jesus and I are on pretty good terms. I'm the first to admit I'm not perfect and don't make any claims that I am. We all have our feet of clay, and I'm no exception. On the other hand, I also deeply respect the religious beliefs and faiths of all people: Jews, pagans, Muslims--you name it. If your faith allows you to stand straighter and be a productive, caring and compassionate member of the human race then I respect and applaud you for it.

My stepson claims he did this because he 'loves me'. Love, especially in the Christian sense (as I was taught to believe) means respect for others beliefs, tolerance and the ability to rationally and objectively disagree.

Today I'm trying to again follow Christ's entreaty to forgive (as a note, many other people throughout history have espoused similar philosophy, Gandhi, M L King come to mind, and I respect them, also), but it is very difficult. Hopefully, in time, I will be able to do this.

In the meantime, I'll continue to do my best to be a generous, kind and loving individual and follow that philosophy of life to the best of my ability. Being a flawed human, it's all I can do.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Can't See Straight, So Why Not Have a Sale???

O.K., I've been a little AWOL all over the net the past week or so (did anyone notice? ;) ). The reason why is both annoying and frustrating. A blood vessel hemorrhaged in my left eye, leaving me unable to see clearly.
Oh, I can still putter around with my jewelry and, even better, my clay, but it takes me awhile to finish things and headaches come easier than usual (usually, I never get headaches...sigh...). It's also a bit difficult to look at a computer screen for too long, although that's getting a bit easier, thank goodness!
As a result, and in an effort to force myself to keep up some kind of online presence, I'm putting my entire Artfire studio on sale for 25% off until September 15. I chose that day because I'm having surgery on the eye in question on September 10 and, given that my eye sees its way clear to behave afterwards, I should have 100% of my vision restored by then.
This also gives me an excellent chance to, hopefully, clear out a few items from my studio and make way for new things that I'm itching to make (or, at this point, to finish). I've got lots of ideas for both Halloween and autumn and winter and Christmas and...well, you get the idea!
So, now's a good time to have a look and perhaps pick up a unique, one-of-a-kind gift for you or someone you care about.
Meanwhile, I'm hoping and praying for good outcomes (and trying to not think about the surgery too much)!
Visit my studio at and look for other unique, OOAK gifts and treasures at

'Nothing But String' is Talent and So Much More!

My paternal grandmother was a virtuoso with a needle. That's any kind of needle, from hand sewing to machine work (with a 1910 treadle Singer), to knitting, to tatting to award-winning, all hand-sewn quilts and, of course, crocheting.
As a result, I tend to look at needlework with something that's probably an overly critical eye. Stella Banks Wagner is a tough act to follow!
But grandma never made jewelry with her needlework; in fact, I don't think it ever entered her mind to try! That's why this week's Studio of the Week from Artfire Jewelry Designers and Jewelry Supply Sellers' Guild, Nothing But String is so amazing! Consider:

Imagine...a crocheted ring! It's not only beautiful, it's also, well, comfortable. And like the lovely bracelet and pin, it's wonderfully wearable! A little extra care with cleaning (and kept out of reach of cats and other pets) and you've got a unique keepsake.
So do yourself a favor and take a peek at Nothing But String's Artfire studio. It's another testament to Artfire's reputation as the home of unique and handmade gifts and treasures.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Talented Liberty Doll, AJDJSS' Studio of the Week

From clothing, to paper crafts, to beads and jewelry, Liberty Doll is one multi-talented artisan!

Also known as Marissa, Liberty Doll uses her fabric magic to create cloth covered composition books, doll clothing, kids clothing and many other creations you won't find elsewhere. She's also talented creating unique and beautiful beaded jewelry--and even makes beads herself (check out the photos). On top of all that, she finds the time to design ione-of-a-kind banners for other artisans.

Visit Marissa's studio at: A simply brilliant place to find the perfect gift for the hardest-to-shop-for person on your list or...for yourself!
Note: Through September 7, Liberty Doll is offering free worldwide shipping for orders totaling $10 or more from her studio. Now's the time to get a jump on those holiday purchases!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Be Sure to Cast Your Vote for "In the Garden"

Sometimes, voting just sounds like an activity designed to have us choose between the devil and the deep blue sea, as they say. Not so over at Artfire, where casting your vote can be fun!

The Artfire Chainmaille Guild, The Artfire Jewelry Artisan Guild, and The Artfire Jewelry Design and Jewelry Supply Shop Guild Presents the vote for the entry that you feel is the best representation of the theme "In the Garden"--

Help us out by voting:

I've already voted and, let me tell you, it wasn't easy! Artfire artisans are, simply put, a wealth of talented people and choosing just one entry was as difficult as choosing between key lime pie or strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Sadly, you CAN eat both desserts, but can only vote for ONE entry.

So take a few minutes and enjoy a stroll in a very creative, very artistic garden.

And to all the artists involved: Well Done!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ahhhh...the Sweet Smell of Ridin' the Crazy Train!

No doubt Artfire's Crazy Train will be smelling like heaven today and tomorrow. Jennuine Candles studio, is taking its turn on the Crazy Train and bringing with it (well, them) the yummy smells and aromas of handmade candles! I'm a big fan of vanilla (photo 1) and just had to giggle at the name 'Barstucks' for Jennuine's fresh brewed cappucino scented candle and tine (photo 2). The pretty blue 'ocean breeze' candles are both a delight to the eyes AND the nose!

Just by looking at the items offered you can almost smell the fabulous aromas!

Visit Almondtree Studio for A Huge Selection of Artistic Gems

The Artfire Jewelry Designers and Jewelry Supplies Shops Guild Studio of the Week is Almondtree

Here you'll find a tempting array of glass and wire pendants, beautiful handmade earrings and other jewels, beautiful watercolors, fun and eclectic jewelry supplies and other fun and fabulous items!

So...stop by and have a look. You're certain to find something you simply can't live without!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Multi-talented Artistic Jen on the Crazy Train

Just love to find someone who's so multi-talented and is able to create such beautiful things with each one of those talents.

So it is with Artistic Jen, the current rider on the Artfire Crazy Train. Jen's studio features beautiful items in several different media, including polymer clay artwork (beads, hand painted pendants, etc.), crochet and jewelry crafting. Here are a few examples:
Crocheting and needlework are crafts I've never had much luck (or patience) with, so I'm always impressed. That is one fine afghan!
O.K., I'll 'fess up. I love the macaw because it reminds me of my favorite Monty Python sketch ("Norwegian Blue. Beautiful plumage.") This does NOT mean I don't love the piece, and Jen's studio features hand painted portraits of several beautiful macaws. Well worth having a look!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Here GemKItty kitty kitty!

The current Studio of the Week, brought to you by The Artfire Jewelry Designers and Jewelry Supply Sellers Guild is GemKitty.

Gem Kitty (aka Kathy) is an active member of the guild and a true asset to Artfire. Her creations are stunning--I'm especially in awe of her earrings, as (unlike most jewelry designers), I don't have much patience with earrings and applaud those that have that special skill!

Here are just two examples of her special jewelry pieces. Those yellow lucite flower earrings are simply yummy!

Visit GemKitty's studio at And don't forget...the Christmas in July promotion is still offering incredible buys on handmade items through July 31!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Heather Designs--Artfire Crazy Train Rider July 22-23

Heather Designs, Artfire's Crazy Train Rider July 22-23, offers some beautifully made lampwork beads, jewelry and other artisan offerings that showcase a truly special talent. Just a few items from her studio at: are pictured here.

You'll want to take a moment and browse her shop. Get ready to drool!

The Longest Week

It's been a long week for me. There's not been much time to do creative things in that time, probably because my mind has been completely wrapped around other, vastly more important, things.

On July 16, my 84-year-old mother passed away. There's a cliche that normally bounces around in many situation such as these wherein folks say "Well, it was a blessing." In this case, yes, it was a blessing. Mother had been afflicted with a chronic illness most of her life. In fact, when I was five years old, I was told my mother would be dead before I was 10. I'm 52 now, so that just goes to show you that doctors don't always know everything, or even much, and frequently zero in on the negative, rather than the positive.

But that's another blog for another time.

Mother went to the hospital by ambulance on July 13. After that, she was unable to move, either on her own or with the help of nurses, without screaming in pain. She was receiving copious pain shots, pills and other forms of relief, but to little or no avail. Over the course of the ensuing few days, she became weak, unable (or unwilling) to eat and by Thursday, it was obvious she was ready to go. She had even told some of us that she'd seen my dad and her sister, another sign that the end was at hand.

Because she was in such pain, it indeed was the proverbial 'blessing'.

However, it is better to look back on a life that was lived so openly and so obviously to its fullest. And lived despite pain and despair and disappointment that came with. She never lost her faith and always tried to see the good in people and in every situation.

As for me, I will miss her, even though we had out 'moments' (mothers and daughters usually do), and it will take me some time to feel as if I'm back in a 'normal' frame of mind.

I deeply appreciated all the kind words of condolence and the show of support given to me and my family by other family members and friends--some who didn't even know mother, but knew the pain I and others were (and are) going through. I will try to forgive those that, by their actions of late, have shown that they are only fair weather 'friends' and couldn't see their way clear to call, write a note, pay a visit or even, probably, think about us. Eventually I will be able to forgive that, hoping such people just are unable to understand true friendship and true caring.

Forgiveness is admittedly difficult for me, but for the memory of my mother, my father, my brother, my sister and my son, I'll do it. And do it gladly. There really isn't much to be gained by doing other wise!

Mother would've wanted it that way.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

AJDJSS Guild Studio of the Week--Rouge River Beads

If you're looking for a great selection of beading supplies, including glass and gemstone beads, findings (clasps, headpins, beadcaps and many others), then head over to Rouge River Beads, this week's Artfire Jewelry Designers & Jewelry Supplies Sellers Guild's 'Studio of the Week'.
I know I'm having serious thoughts about both the examples above...I just have to tell myself that there's always room for 'a few more' supplies. husband would probably disagree. But, hey, what does HE know??? (Love you, honey! !)
To check out the dozens of offerings from Rouge River Beads just click here:
And don't forget to enter the AJDJSS July 'Rock Green' giveaway. Just visit the Guild's blog and post a comment by clicking here: You could win some fabulous handmade jewelry prizes!
Have a great day!

Sometimes Life Just Gets in the Way

Just when I decide to 'keep up' with blogging, life comes along and puts a spanner in my plans.
My elderly (84) mother is seriously ill and in hospital. She's currently unable to move with being in intense pain. Her physical problems are too many, and too complicated to try and explain here. Let's just say that, in my 52 years, I can remember few times when she was feeling 'good'. It is difficult to see her in this state, as she is such a stubborn fighter and, despite problems we've had over the years, I still love her and would not want her to suffer in this way (or anyone, come to that).
For the present, I'm trying to come to terms with the situation and still find/make time for me (read: creativity time). It's just one of those moments in life that seem to go on forever, and that you take one minute (vs. one day) at a time.
If you read this, and can send some strength and calming vibes her way, please do. She won't know you're doing it, but if it works, she--and her family--will appreciate it!

Looking for a fantasy photo? Look no further than MyMagicMe on Artfire

There are just so many words to describe the work of Artfire's newest Crazy Train Rider, MyMagicMe.

Photo morphing is an art that interests me from my old days in advertising, but I haven't been able to even come close to what these artisans can achieve (and likely never will!) If your looking for adorable, classical, whimsical or just plain bizarre (and scary--see the zombie above!), then look no further than MyMagicMe.
Check out all their fabulous morphs at

Sunday, July 12, 2009

AJDJSS "Rock Green" Giveaway!

Green with envy...Green, green grass of home... Green cheese....Wearin' O' the Green...Jack o' the Green..It's Not Easy Being Green...Greenbacks (and who doesn't want some?)...Little Green Bag (if you're old enough to remember that goofy song...)...Greenpeace...Alan Greenspan.

O.K., I'll stop. Let's face it, green has been, and probably always will be, part of everyone's life. Here's a chance to make it a fun part of your life!

The Artfire Jewelry Designers and Jewelry Supply Sellers Guild is having a "Rock Green" giveaway this month!

Nine members of the guild have each generously donated a beautiful prize for "Rock Green" winners. If you want a chance to win, you can enter just by posting a comment to the AJDJSS blog:

How easy is that?

Not only will you be entered in the contest, but you'll also learn more about this group of talented artisans and the people who make their creations possible!

Bead Lady 5 Rides the Crazy Train

Bead Lady 5 (Margo) is a busy gal over at Artfire. She not only creates and sells beautiful jewelry, she also rides herd the the Artfire Jewelry Designers & Jewelry Supplies Sellers Guild (AJDJSS), also at Artfire.
In addition to the examples above, ]take a look at her work by visiting her Artfire studio:
Good luck with your sales!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hello Kitty, Goodbye Dignity

I'll admit it. I'm a big sucker for 'Hello, Kitty', that really twee little white cat that, usually, comes with a pink background (though I've seen it in a very lovely baby blue, as well). You can see her everywhere, from purses to checkbooks (oooh, got one!), necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings (check, check, check and check...), clothing (t-shirt and pajamas) and many other things. It's a product of the Sanrio Corp. and, as you can see, I've bolstered that company's bottom line on more than one occasion.Without fail (or at least among those I know) men are appalled by even the idea of Hello, Kitty. In my husband's case, I think it's the color pink that normally comes with that he finds most worthy of eye-rolling commentary. (What is it with men and pink, anyway? Colors have no either macho or feminine attributes unless we ascribe those attributes to them. Go figure...).
A few weeks ago I went into our bank to make a cash deposit. It was a rare occasion when I don't use an ATM to get things done faster. Anyway, I pulled out my checkbook to confirm my checking account number with the teller. Noticing my Hello, Kitty checkbook cover, she said: "Hey, you know you can get a Hello, Kitty ATM card from us?" I was immediately intrigued but curbed my enthusiasm until I made doubly sure getting the card wasn't going to cost me anything. Good. It wasn't. So I proceeded to order my Hello, Kitty bank card with well disguised glee. Fully aware of my husband's distaste for the simply drawn little creature, I made a point to ask that if I got this card, would he get one also (to replace his existing one)? I was told 'No', not unless he asks for it.
With the proverbial coast clear (at least for my husband), I completed the request. About a week later, I got my new bank card in the post. Just in time for Christmas! My husband, of course, rolled his eyes and made some comment about 'Well, as long as I don't have to use it' and all was well. Until two weeks later. When an envelope arrived from our bank, addressed to my husband, that quite obviously had a plastic card inside. I immediately presumed it was another offer for another credit card, but didn't immediately toss it, cut up, into the trash. Imagine our surprise when he opened the envelope and found his brand-spankin' new Hello, Kitty ATM card!

After reassuring him, several times and, very vehemently in fact, that I had nothing to do with this and, in fact, had made sure I could replace my card with no change to his, he made a few more (amusingly) disparaging comments and immediately took off for the bank before it closed (it was a Saturday). Roughly forty-five minutes later he returned, a defeated and bemused man. The bank had told him that if I'd requested a new card, his would automatically follow (why it took two additional weeks AND why this happened after I was told it wouldn't is anybody's guess). According to his retelling of the incident, he told them, quite pointedly, that he didn't want a Hello, Kitty card and how could they expect HIM to use such a thing in public?Sadly for him, first of all there was nothing he could do about it. He was stuck with the card for better or worse; and secondly, all of the three people working in the bank that morning were women. Apparently, they all thought the whole thing very, very amusing.
Me? Well, I tried to express my sympathies with a straight face, reassured him that one very seldom has to actually hand a cashier a debit card these days (usually either tapping or swiping it does the trick), then made my excuses and went upstairs. To check I said. Actually, I was ROTFLMAO. If he realized I was doing this he didn't (or wouldn't) let on.
Mind you, the card is a simple one, with a white background and the sweet li'l face of Hello, Kitty. The only pink on it is a pale pink stripe on one side and the color of Hello, Kitty's bow (or flower, I don't remember offhand). So...what's the big deal, eh? :) For the record, even I usually eschew such saccharine, trendy marketing ploys, but Hello, Kitty is my simple guilty pleasure. She is the doppleganger to my obsession with Happy Bunny (or...vice versa). BTW, I also have a Hello, Kitty mouse pad, wallet, necklace, ring...(deep intake of breath)... Long may she purr!

Friday, June 19, 2009

This is Your Cat on Drugs

Like most things of this nature, it was easy to just skim over the little, tell-tale signs of trouble before the fur hit the fan.
Such as...watching my two youngest fur babies, Kip and Whiskers, chasing madly through the house, up stairs and down, without pause (but with much paws) and without regard for Whis' game back leg. No big deal, cats do this, right? Sure.
Then came their strange fascination with television. Animal Planet shows? O.K., I'm cool with that. But when they started watching the headline feed at the bottom of the all-news channel, AND trying to catch it, AND bristling every time Dick Cheney showed up on screen, well, that got a little weird (albeit, understandable). The oddest part was seeing the two of them, with rapt attention, watching the World Poker Tour, then leaving the room, coming back to see them hurriedly closing the laptop. Later I found emails from Club WPT addressed to "PokerBratCats"--and a debit from our bank account for $19.95 a month. (That's my story and I'm sticking with it...).
It was while grocery shopping on a busy Friday that I saw, out of the corner of my eye, Kip and Whis surreptitiously (well, as surreptitiously as two cats can) pushing a heaping cart load of potato chips and Oreos toward the checkout. I tried following them, but they disappeared, I think behind a stack of 20lb bags of bird seed.
Obviously, something illicit and bizarre was going on. But it wasn't until I awoke to a mess of epic proportions that I realized what it was and how I had unwittingly been an enabler.
I had purchased a container of dried catnip for two reasons: 1) to encourage my fur kids to use their scratching posts and not the furniture and 2) for their personal enjoyment, because I love them (awwwww!). Little did I know how a simple act of love and generosity could turn my precious little angels into little furry drug addicts.
Imagine waking up to find dried catnap strewn haphazardly everywhere--carpets, furniture, stairs, countertops. Yes, the plastic container that held the enticing little green flakes--that snapped so tightly shut I had trouble opening it with fully opposable thumbs--had been first bitten into (they hadn't tried to hide the teeth marks), then pried open. Even more alarming was that the container had been sitting at the back of the counter top, behind boxes of crackers, a bottle of wine and a bread maker.
It was horrible! Once my husband and I had gathered up as much of the dried drug as we could, and swept and vacuumed up the rest (and placed the container on a top cupboard shelf where, hopefully, it is safe...), we knew it was time for drastic action.
With the catnip safely stored away (hopefully), we turned our attention to a kitty intervention...with cat treats.
A moderately good plan except, now, Kipper is totally addicted to cat treats and, if left unguarded or not hidden, in an unopened guessed it. Torn bags and treats all over the place. But at least the local 'catnip dealers' have stopped hanging around both our front and back porches, the cats stay pretty quiet and don't race through the house tripping us up, and the container has stayed safely out of reach (fingers crossed).
Club WPT still debits our bank account. But, um, let's not talk about that, shall we ;)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's in a Name...Artwise

"The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names." -- Chinese proverb

At base, it many seem like a simple thing. That is, giving an object a name. We do it all the time for our pets, our children, sometimes our cars and, well, sometimes for certain body parts. Sometimes we do this without much thought. For example, pets' names like 'Fluffy' or 'Fido' or 'Polly' (for parrots, obviously). Children (usually) get more thought put into their names or, sometimes, too much thought. For instance, Moxie Crimefighter Gillette, daughter of Penn Gillette and wife. Was it too much or not enough thought in that instance? You decide...

I've always been fascinated by names, probably because I've always been fascinated with words and how they work, sound and blend together to create something beautiful, something ugly or something magical. As a writer, I've often come up with the title first, and everything else falls into place. Sometimes, however, a written piece culminates in a stressful quest for 'just the right name/title'. Have I always been successful? That's anybody's guess and part of the subjectivity inherent in art.

It's no different for works of art in all media, at least IMHO. I have it on good authority that da Vinci's original name for the Mona Lisa was "Peevish Babe in Black". Hmmm, not a name that would've gone down in history, conjuring up romance and mystery--and probably upsetting his benefactors, the Giaconda family. Or, at the very least, would've given poor Nat King Cole and miss rather than a hit song.

No matter what I create, I often try to give a piece an appropriate name. Sometimes for aesthetic reasons, sometimes for marketing reasons, but always for the right least, to me. When I painted the above portrait of the Fab Four I did it at a very confusing time. One month after Lennon's assassination and two months after I married my adorable husband, Mark. On one hand, the painting was cathartic. On another, it was a celebration of life and creativity and how creativity can be a healer of wounds. After much deliberation, I decided on, simply, "January 1981".

Designing jewelry, from the standpoint of naming an object, hasn't been any less challenging, most of the time. The daisy bracelet in 'coffee' -type shades (also pictured above, as I can't get the photos to show up where I want them in the layout!) was relatively easy and the name I chose certainly was an improvement on "Dried Flowers in a Puddle" or "Rhapsody in Browns". But, who knows, maybe you think differently? That's another beautify of creativity and the joy of individual thought.

So, help me here. I want to give the pink bracelet a name because of its support of the fight against breast cancer. Everything I've thought of to date has been, well, too obvious, too twee, or just to0 'cutesy' for a work that's already a bit over the top in a Seinfeld-esque 'Schmoopy' sort of way. Right now, it's nameless. I'm still hoping to reach the 'Aha!' moment before it (hopefully) sells to a happy customer.
At the same time, someone clue this late baby boomer in as to how to get photos to publish where I want them, rather than always at the top of the blog. Much appreciated!
Right now I live with four cats: Stella (named after my grandmother...long story), Henry (after England's Henry II), Kip (after Tom Hank's character in the 80's sitcom 'Bosom Buddies') and Whiskers (more typical than usual, but named by my two youngest grand kids, making it good enough for me). Yes, names are important to me. And I think they are important to more artists/crafters who 'name' their work. So, appreciate the effort put into that activity.
After all, it ain't always easy!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Talents I Wish I Had

Today I found a lovely bowl in an Artfire artisan's studio. It's a lathe-turned Russian Olive Burl bowl that's just gorgeous. Woodworkers and woodturners have always fascinated me. It always looked, to me, as if it would be a very difficult art/craft to engage, and worthy only of those who have the true talent for it.

The gallery I once worked for frequently sold wood turned items, and sculptures made with wood, all of which were finely crafted and beautifully made. You could tell that each artist created these pieces because they were 'moved' creatively to do so.

You can't say that about manufactured wood products, really, can you?
I'm equally impressed by those who can work with metal--from simple wire wrapping to metal stamping and metal sculpture. I've read up on it, and it takes a great deal of work, and time, and dedication to complete even the smallest project. True enough, there are occasionally classes offered in my area in this discipline (not so woodcrafting), but leave it to niggling fear and self-doubt to stop me from taking them. For now.
One skill I have tried, and still find amazing, is lampworking and stained glass. A few months ago I took a beginner's lampworking class at Delphi artists studio in Lansing, MI. It was an all day class and I took it with my sister-in-law who is a gifted artist in just about anything, but is especially good working with glass. She'd concentrated mostly on stained glass so some of this was new to her. I managed to make two glass swizzle sticks and several (obviously) beginning pendants. But the process was fascinating and the day went by too quickly. Taking up this craft seriously would require quite an outlay of seed money for supplies (torches, kiln, tools, glass), so I'd have to think seriously about it before pursuing it further. That--and I'd certainly take more classes!
Never mind that during the class I dropped an hot glob of glass, burning the inside of my thigh and melting the cover of the stool on which I was sitting. Whoops. My bad...:)
Fair enough--few people can be whiz-kids in everything they try (and bully for those who can!). That leaves most of us to sit back and appreciate others for what they can do, as well as appreciate the work of those who love the same media you and I do. I think the goal is to foster a encouraging, productive and supportive world of artisans.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Today's Crazy Train Ride

Another 'quickie' today to promote this gorgeous collage pocket mirror from Broom Closet Designs on Artfire, the current 'Crazy Train' rider.
Please check out this creative piece and others in her studio.
Now? Time to get myself busy! :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ridin' on the Crazy Train

I've been selling as part of Artfire for about six weeks now. There's a lot of promotional opportunities and overall encouragement on the site and it's taking some time to get all of the possibilities firmly embedded in my brain.

Yesterday, I finally found out the scoop about 'Crazy Train'. This is a fantastic promotional tool (and I'm pulling together many, many quotes to that effect from folks who are already riding the train).

Each person on the Crazy Train will eventually be the studio/artisan at the top of the list. When that happens, everyone else on the train agrees to go to that person's studio, choose an item they really like, and promote it as much as they can throughout the two week period. Promotional outlets include: blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Kaboodle, ThisNext, Vote Handmade, Websites, Twitter, emails, yep, even good ol' word of mouth!

Now that I'm on the train, I'm doing what I promised and promoting something I think is just wonderful from Chantilly Lace ( It's a beautifully crafted Victorian Rose barrette skillfully made with fabric and pearls. It would be perfect for any girl/woman, especially a bride. Check it out here:

See the photo above and try not to fall in love!