Sunday, December 21, 2008


for those of you of a certain age, there may be a faint ringing of bells -- "TW3, TW3 -- I remember that but what was it"

It stood for the phrase "That Was The Week That Was", and was a 1960's satire of the news.

it just seems appropriate here, since it has been a week since I posted on any of my blogs

and it will be short

I'm still recovering

after 3 days of heavy pain killers, I've spent the rest of the week "tapering off" and slowly stretching the arm, trying to get range of motion and strength back

last night was the first night without pain killers, and it was nice to wake up and not feel hung over

I have managed to finish all but 2 of the planned projects for Christmas, and one of those should be done today. (the second one was a last minute "oh, I think I'll just whip this up" sort of project, and will probably be gifted "on the sticks" to be completed after Christmas)

computer work (at least at the desk top) is still painful, so the other project I need to be working on will be done on the laptop is small sessions

just wanted to let anyone that regularly reads here know I'm still "hangin' in"

Sunday, December 14, 2008


after nearly a week of trying heat, cold, and advil, I have given in to the idea that I needed a stronger medication to get this whole arm/shoulder issue under control

half of a pain killer later, I was actually able to use the arm more effectively without wishing that someone would just shot me -- seriously, one can only stand so much throbbing, stabbing, burning pain

for now the plan is to try to keep the pain level down enough that I can keep the shoulder from "freezing" from lack of use and to hold off any need for a trip to the doctor until after January 1, not wanting to try to deal with the financial impact of doctor's visits, testing, etc., etc.

this means though that any project that is not absolutely necessary is on the back burner -- I'm just hoping to finish the Christmas projects I had started -- this lack of being able to do any creative activity will not be easy to deal with


Friday, December 12, 2008

growing means changing

I had lunch with an artist friend earlier this week, and our conversation made me think about the way my work has changed

Back when I started making bears most of my work were medium to large bears, sort of a morphing of what I made as toys into something more collectible

Over the years, I have experimented with really big bears and really little bears, with dressed bears and bare bears, with boy bears and girl bears.

A while back I sort of hit a wall on bears -- I was feeling that I just didn't have any more ideas for bears, so I started making some different animals --- one of a kind birds, for instance --- and those were well recieved

So, while I still enjoy building the occasional one of a kind bear, I'm thinking I'll still be doing those unusual pieces, because it feeds the growth of my art

(but I also have a bear design that I started a while back and want to get back to)

I guess the whole thing is that growing means changing, if I don't try new things I get bored and the finished work isn't worth taking the pictures of

"bear" with me, I'll be experimenting with some new things here shortly

Monday, December 08, 2008

Playing at Mammy's House

Over at Travelin Oma's Marty wrote a great post about playing at her grandmother's house.

Since I had said a while back that I was going to write some more about the things I remember of my grandmother, I took Marty's idea for this post.

I spent a lot of time at Mammy's house.

During the summer there would be long stretches of time there.

Since there was no swimming pool in easy walking distance, our summer cool off place was a tin wash tub

I remember sitting in the tub and running a hose

Running through the hose was a big deal too -- as were the discussions with my grandparents about when it was warm enough to do so -- it had to be more that 75 degrees for us to be able to run through the hose

And there were marbles

Because my grandfather was a postman back in the days when they actually WALKED a route, he would find marbles in the street

Somewhere at my mother's house there is a deep cookie tin full of the marbles he found and brought home in his pockets

I remember blowing up the air mattress, putting one end of it up on the couch and running marbles down the grooves in it to race them to the bottom

One summer when Mammy had been teaching me to knit we used up a bunch of little scrap pieces of yarn to knit little 1 to 2 inch squares with tails at one end that my sister and I dubbed "mice" which we then took outside to play with over a blanket stretched across a wood frame. We bounced them all around like they could do double flips on a trampoline.

and then there were the paperdolls

Betsy McCall paperdolls to be exact -- (which I only recently discovered were introduced in 1951 -- the year I was born!)

Mammy let me have that highly coveted page as soon as the McCall's magazine arrived in the mail.

I had a box that greeting cards had come in that was the place that the carefully cut out dolls were stored.

Right now I'm wondering whatever happened to those, wishing I had kept them, wondering if my mother will find them as she is now going through all of the ephemera from Mammy's house that she hadn't gotten to.

And so it was that play time at Mammy's was also learning life skills --- I learned to sew and knit and cut --- and all of those skills are still the backbone of the arts I do today.

So what did you play with at your grandma's house?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

taking on one more project?

actually it's more a return to a project started long, long ago

we're Christmas crazy at our house -- at least that's the best excuse I have

on several occasions we have put up as many as 8 or 9 trees -- I have about 40 apple boxes full of Christmas decorations

many years ago (at least 10), I was part of a small online group that had formulated an idea for a Christmas book

Unfortunately, nothing ever came of it because -- well, life happens

but the idea of doing this has never really gone away, and it tends to rear it's head every year about this time

and it seems that it has made a return in the head of the DH as well as he went through a catalog we received this week, marked it up and handed it to me saying "this would be a good start on the book"

I guess it may be time to take the bull by the horns (or the reindeer)

One of the major problems with the book in it's former incarnation was the whole "how do we get it published" issue

In the last decade the amazing advances in the "publish it yourself" industry online has made that question into nothing more than an empty Christmas sock sort of excuse

So, I'll be asking you to bear with me as we babble on about Christmas long after the holiday is over this year while I try to figure out how to put this all together

Meantime, if you know of any artist that makes Christmas themed items, I'd welcome you sending me a link to their web presence so I can take a look!

Friday, December 05, 2008

trends, cycles and finding one's own "voice"

I've been involved this week in two converging conversations on line -- it's interesting how two totally unconnected groups of artists discuss some of the same things

So, let us begin with a confession: I'm what I would consider an "ambitious artist". I love to create things -- all kinds of things -- and in order to continue to do that I need to sell at least some of them.

Besides that, I have, for as long as I can remember, had that "I want to be the best at something and I want every body know it" thing in my head -- I guess now days they'd call that wanting to be "popular", but that's not really the same thing, in my opinion.

I am also a totally unfocused artist --- I have never been able to just do one thing, which may be the reason that I'm not really good at either selling or winning awards.

This week on one of the email lists that I belong to, someone posted about a big Dale Chihuly Exhibit, praising his work, etc., etc.

For me this once again set off the question that I have struggled with for years as a bear artist --- what defines an "artist" bear versus what is a "manufactured" bear --- I have for years worked under the idea that an "artist" bear is one made entirely by the designer(s), and a "manufactured" bear is designed by an artist then made in quantities by skilled labor. My husband and I make artist bears --- now days especially, many of our pieces are a collaboration of skills (he does pattern design, cutting, jointing; I do sewing, stuffing, finishing) and nearly every piece is a one of a kind.

Evidently this destinction does not apply to the "big A" art world, as it was pointed out to me quite clearly by others on the mailing list --- in the "big A" art world, especially in sculpture, and large installation art, one designer with many workers appears to be the norm.

At the same time that I was reading and responding to those emails, there were some quite interesting posts in another place regarding Etsy and the whole host of Stampington Press publications.

I have never been one to pay any attention to trends. When I was a child and a teenager it simply didn't matter if I wanted to do so or not --- it was not an option, and as an adult I just never got there.

I like what I like.

A while back I had submitted some pieces to one of the Stampington Press magazines for consideration, and was told that my pieces didn't fit in with anything they were doing right now. When I told my daughter about that her response was sure and swift --- "mom, your stuff is not "ugly" enough"

Now by ugly she means that sort of worn, primitive, folk art style that seems to be the current rage among the 20 to 40 age group that is snapping up those publications and doing the most crafting/selling/buying on Etsy.

I don't do that kind of pieces.

My tastes are more simple, elegant, clean and yes, occasionally very bold and ornate.

I've tried from time to time to make pieces (bears, jewelry) that I think will sell

Usually that sort of effort is a big failure, not only on the sales end, but as being personally satisfying to make ---- those are a lot more like work, and it would be more profitable financially to go flip burgers

So, the question becomes, how to find that niche market --- I have to believe that there are other 40+ women with similar tastes, but there does not appear to be any place on line that is paying any attention to us "old folks"

Meantime, today after over a year as a shop owner on Etsy, I made my first sale out of the shop. It is a custom order for a dog toy. I'll take it.

But I'm still looking for a place that will be a good venue for my "art pieces", and hoping the style trends will cycle around to my point of view.