Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunsets, fishing and an ambulance.

I arrived home from my trip yesterday and am anxious to get back to work in my house and on my art.

Here's a quick synopsis of my time away.

Took a lot of pictures of old houses...

Kids fished a lot

We painted wooden fish...

Saw a lot of sunsets..

Worked on projects with grandkids..

Did I mention fishing?

More sunsets...

Paper crafts..

Fun with family..

Drank a little wine..(actually brought two of these bottles it wasn't that much!!)

Went to the beach at Lake Michigan...but didn't swim.

Sleeping Bear Dunes..

Traverse City Cherries.


The cottage

I had a really nice week with my family. Never made it to Ludington because of the weather. Didn't get to swim either, which was disappointing to me, since that is my favorite thing to do on vacation, but the summer isn't over with yet!

Most of the week went smoothly except for Tuesday evening when my granddaughter Kara, had an allergic reaction to something, (we think nuts) and started to itch and swell. Her little eyes looked like slits and she had hives all over her body. My sister called 911 to ask where the nearest hospital was and they informed us that it would take at least a 1/2 hour for us to get there, so they sent an ambulance. The operator told us to watch her breathing.

Since we were back along the lake, and the directions were confusing, I drove to the main entrance and waited for the ambulance. My granddaughter had gone from itching and crying wildly to being very quite. As we sat on the dark road (it was 1:30 a.m.) my mind started to go over the CPR training I receive once a year. Is it 3o compressions to two breaths or 15 to one? They keep changing the cycles and I didn't remember. Luckily, the ambulance got there in about 15 minutes.

Even though she was breathing well and the worst was over, the paramedics and my daughter decided to take her to the hospital. My daughter rode in the ambulance and I followed. My nephew was with me and he proved to be a big help. Kara seemed fine by the time the Dr. looked at her and she announced, "I"m ready."

My daughter asked her what she was ready for and she sighed, "to go home."

After receiving medication and instructions, we headed back to the cabin. It was 4:45 a.m.

All is well that ends well. However, it made me realize that the next vacation I take will be a little closer to a big city, just in case!

I've yearned for my clay all week, so I'll be back to blog about that later on!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Time for a little vacation..

I just wanted to announce that I'm leaving on vacation tomorrow and will be gone for a week.

My family and I have rented a cabin an hour east of Ludington. I'm very excited to be going, however, that means I won't be able to blog while I'm there. The cabin does not have internet or phone access so you won't be hearing from me for a week.

I plan on doing a lot of creative things while I'm there though, so I hope to have a lot to blog about when I get back.

See you then!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Coffee, Birds and Art

This morning, a few minutes after my alarm woke me, my boss called me to give me an option of coming in to work or staying home. Since I'm going on vacation Saturday and I have orders to fill, a house to clean and clothes to pack, I decided to stay home.

I made some coffee and got dressed (hate staying in my pjs). Since it was so pleasant this morning, I thought I would drink my coffee outside and work on a journal project I've been wanting to do.

I have tried to keep a journal in the past, but am not really committed to the idea and my blog kind of serves that purpose in a way. Lately I've found the urge to write down the really deep feelings and thoughts, the kind I don't want to share on my blog. I've been writing everything in a cheap college binder that I scribbled on. It's really not very pretty, so I've been meaning to decorate it.

This morning was the perfect chance, so I gathered up my coffee, papers, glue, scissors and camera and sat in my little garden out back.

I applied glue to the cover and tore strips of purple and green scrapbook papers in assorted colors and shapes and placed them randomly on the cover. I love nature and chose some papers with leaves and flowers. I'm trying to be more patient and found a perfect quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson about patience.

In essence, I collaged the front of the journal. I never have a plan when I do collage, I just apply papers and embellishments where it feels "right". I may move things around several times before I get that "feeling".

When I was happy with the results, I stopped. I then took two stands of fuzzy yarn, tied them to the end of a shish kabob stick and pushed it through the wire spring of the journal. I tied the ends to the wire, making a big knot. Voila! A ragged old note binder becomes a pretty journal.

I'm going to take my papers and glue, etc. on my vacation. I think Target has their binders on sale now for .15 or 20 cents each. I think I'll let anyone who'd like to make one have that opportunity at the cabin. I know my granddaughter will want to!

This little project only took about a half hour. As I worked on it, birds serenaded me and a perfect breeze kept the mosquitoes at bay.

Other than the occasion back ground noise of a siren or airplane, it was a peaceful, beautiful way to start my day!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Art & kids

One of my favorite aspects of my job is doing art projects with the kids. It's something I do all of the time, but this summer is even more rewarding because I have so many kids that I can work with, instead of the few I had all year. In summer camp, we have special times set aside for activities like learning French, sign language, doing special science projects, cooking and art. I am the art "specialist" a title I enjoy.

Last week I taught the children about Jackson Pollock, one of my favorite artists. I loved the way he dribbled and slopped paint everywhere. Kids especially love this style of painting.

I mixed several cups of liquid colored paint for the kids and gave them craft sticks. The lesson was simple. Express yourself on your paper "canvas" by dripping and dropping colorful paint. There were no paint brushes. They were only to use the craft sticks. At first they were slow to move, carefully dropping circles of paint on their paper. I told them not to be afraid to cover that paper in color, to really make their art work come alive. After a few minutes the craft sticks starting moving in and out of the paint at faster speed, until paint was flying all over their work area. It was a sight to behold.

What was truly wonderful at this point was the conversation these kids (ages 5 to 12) were having. As they created their piece of art, several told me they wanted to be artists when they grew up. Some of the older girls expressed a desire to design clothes. One boy, who doesn't like art, said he wanted to be an architect. I told him architect were artists too. As he feverishly applied layers and layers of paint to his canvas, I heard him tell a buddy that he guessed he was an artist.

The sound of children creating art is one of my favorite things to listen to. There is a comfortable level of sound in the room. Children are complementing each other, laughing at mishaps, sharing ideas, and, sometimes, squealing with delight when something comes out just right. There is a tone in the room of camaraderie and happiness. It spills over to me and I'm on cloud nine.

Today, while making tissue paper mosaics with the 7 and 8 year olds, I was sitting at a table with four kids (two boys and two girls). As the children and I chatted, I felt relaxed and happy. Eight other kids were busy at other tables, but all of my attention was focused on these 4.

I looked over to a boy named Demarco and told him that he looked like our President, Barack Obama. (he really does, ears and all). He grinned at me and then announced that he was my favorite. I pretended to ignore him because although we do have favorites, we aren't supposed to show it. The little boy next to him looked at me and asked me who I thought he looked like.

I hesitated.

"Hmmm," I said, "you look like someone famous, but I can't think of his name."

That satisfied him and he went back to gluing his paper.

One of the girls asked me the same thing, who do I look like?

"Hmmm," I replied, "you sure look like a model I saw on tv last night."

She grinned and continued working.

Emily, one of my favorite "shadows" asked me who I thought she looked like.

"Hmmm, " I teased," I was watching a monster movie last night." I hesitated.

Emily tilted her head and squinted. "Ms. Deb!"

"What?" I said, "I was about to say that you looked like the really pretty girl that the monster was chasing."

Emily laughed and said, "I thought you were going to say something else."

"Not me, " I smiled, laying my hand on the table.

Just then, DeMarco placed his hand over mine and left it there for a few seconds. It was the warmest, most gentle gesture that a child has ever displayed towards me. I think the ease of the conversation, the busy hum of the kids working on their artwork, and the general feeling of happiness in that room made him do that.

That's what art does to children. Letting them express themselves in a relaxed atmosphere, without a lot of boundaries or demands sets a tone of sincere contentment and joy.

Make every day an art day!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Every artist/crafts person who creates likes to know what the trends are, especially if they are busy in their studio working. I rarely get a chance to get out and visit shows so besides using my imagination and skill, I have to rely on the Internet to inform me of what the latest trends are.

Trends are important to follow and no matter what your craft is, you can find a way to make your product fit the trend.

For instance, recycling or "going green" is a very social and cultural movement right now, especially with younger consumers. Working with polymer clay makes it a bit difficult to have a green craft, since the product is a man made "plastic" clay, but I have tried to incorporate broken pieces into collage. I also use as much of the clay as possible, even when it turns a mushy gray, I try to find some way to be creative with it.

The first time I really tried to consciously recycle my clay, I glued several broken clay babies together, in a monstrous heap. There were feet and heads and bodies all intertwined together. It was grotesque. I thought a little paint might help so I spray painted it black (there's an environmentally sound idea) It was so hideous, I threw it away. But, my heart was in the right place.

Following that idea of green crafting, I save interesting packaging, labels, tea bag boxes, colorful papers and ribbons to use on artist trading cards and collage. I also recycle bags and tissue for shipping. I live in a very small home, so it's a challenge. But, I'm trying to work that "trend" into something marketable.

Since most trends last 5 to 10 years, it's worth it for me to explore recycling into my creations.

Going green is just one trend. Here's a website that lists trends for 2009 and 10. Professional Crafters. This is a site worth bookmarking!

I found a great series of articles from The Artful Crafter. The series is called, The Trend is Your Friend. The writer shares great tips for finding trends, making them work for you, and differentiating your work, so that it stands out from the crowd.

Of course, all trends involve color, and that's my favorite part. When I did a search on color trends, I found sites for hair color trends (yes! Burgundy is still in!), fashion color trends (rapture rose and warm olive), car color trends (Blues and Greens for next year), and web site color trends (check them out).

When it comes to deciding what the color trends are for crafts, it would depend on what your product is. If it is home decor, then, naturally, you would follow home decor color trends. Do you make Jewelry or design clothing? Then obviously you would be interested in following the color trends of the fashion industry.

Even if you make holiday crafts like Christmas or Halloween, it's smart to follow those trends. Halloween trends have gone from cute and whimsical to vintage, retro and primitive. Although Christmas colors can be red and green or blue and silver, purple has started to grow in popularity.

Don't be afraid to follow a trend. It's not about copying or be unoriginal, it's about staying up to date and fresh. Don't stay stuck in a rut, making the same things you made 10 years ago. I know a woman who's craft display table looks the same now as it did when I met her, and that was 15 years ago. She uses fabric, ribbons and materials that she bought 15 years ago. Although I talked about being environmentally conscious, sometimes an artist has to have current materials to work with, or else take those old supplies and collage them, paint over them, stain them, transform them into something innovative and "trendy"!

I have been working with polymer clay since 1982 and there are some things I still make that I've made from the beginning. Teddy bears and bunny rabbits, little dolls, Christmas and Halloween ornaments, etc. However, I'm forever experimenting with other products and ideas, incorporating them into my clay. Sometimes it's a disaster, other times the out come is wonderful. When I noticed that cupcakes were popular, you better believe that a LOT of my clay babies were sitting on cupcakes, holding cupcakes or eating cupcakes. In fact, Polyform Products just purchased a few of my designs, one being cupcakes!

To get you started on your quest for the latest trends, here are a few more links.

Beautiful Website of Color Trends

Craft Trends

Handmade Trends

Scrapbooking Trends

Jewelry Trends

Remember Friendly Plastic? Website

I hope this article inspires you to pay attention to trends and to become more innovative with your crafting materials. Remember this. Trends fade in and out, but good workmanship and pride in what you do never does.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Winner is!!!

After allocating numbers to everyone (depending on whether or not you added a comment, blogged about me, or became a follower), I put the widget on my page.

The numbers are as follows...

1-17 squirrel hill
18-23 mousefingers
24 anonymous
25 Kathy
26 Cindy gathering room
27-42 Valerie
43-48 Judy
49 Melissa
50 Singtatter
51-55 Cindy from gathering room again
56 Toni
57-72 Nancy

As you can see from the picture, number 69 is the winner. That's Nancy!

Nancy needs to contact me and pick a doll that she likes. Then I need her address.

I wish everyone could win. I will be having another contest in August. So check back often.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Only a few days left!

My giveaway ends on July 11, so if you haven't left a comment yet, you still have a few more days.

I've made three different dolls and the winner gets to pick the doll of their choice.

The rules are simple.
  • Leave a comment. For each comment you leave, you'll get a chance in the drawing.
  • Become a follower and tell me about it and you'll get 5 chances in the drawing.
  • Post this drawing on your blog with a picture and you'll get 10 chances in the drawing.
  • Contest is open to anyone, anywhere. (Yes, any country.)

Each doll is signed and dated. They are approx. 4 inches tall. They are made from polymer clay and their hair is yarn. I've used buttons and fabric to embellish them. I think they turned out pretty cute! I've antiqued them to give them that prim look.

Pink Polly

Americana Annie

Ginger Belle

This contest will end on July 11. Have fun!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Christmas In July Giveaway

As promised, here's my Christmas in July giveaway. (One doll is Christmas themed, the other two are not..but, can be used as "Christmas" it's all good!)

I've made three different dolls and the winner gets to pick the doll of their choice.

The rules are simple.
  • Leave a comment. For each comment you leave, you'll get a chance in the drawing.
  • Become a follower and tell me about it and you'll get 5 chances in the drawing.
  • Post this drawing on your blog with a picture and you'll get 10 chances in the drawing.
  • Contest is open to anyone, anywhere. (Yes, any country.)

Each doll is signed and dated. They are approx. 4 inches tall. They are made from polymer clay and their hair is yarn. I've used buttons and fabric to embellish them. I think they turned out pretty cute! I've antiqued them to give them that prim look.

Pink Polly

Americana Annie

Ginger Belle

This contest will end on July 11. Have fun!

(If you are unable to leave a comment, please contact me at and I'll leave it for you, in your name.)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Life Crisis Update!!

I'm so excited to tell you all that my first voice lesson starts next Friday. The instructor has been a professional singer for 40 years and she's as excited as I am. I don't know how long I'll need lessons. I guess just enough to get the nerve to sing in front of adults. She told me this is a start to a whole new exciting time in my life. She sings in a Christian rock band and has all kinds of equipment. If I really enjoy this, I'm going to have to make more clay to pay for extended lessons!

I've also planned to meet with the Royal Oak photography club on Sunday (which kills two birds with one stone,,photography and Sunday plans)..This club is supposed to meet at a coffee shop then drive out to the Heidelberg project, a colorful street in Detroit that is a big community art center. The artist who started it all is Tyree Guyton. Somewhere around my house I have a picture of the artist and myself. I'm going to try and dig it up, maybe he will autograph it for me.

(Now I think I'll go hammer some tacks in my tennis shoes and dance around the living room!)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

is this a mid life crisis

I think I'm having one; a mid-life crisis. Although when a person is in their 50s I don't think it's called a mid-life crisis, since I'm pretty sure I'm not going to live to be 106. So, is it called a three quarters of my life is over crisis? I don't think I'm old enough for it to be called a late life crisis.

Whatever it's called, I'm having one.

I'm not having the life crisis that my x-husband had when he came home one day and said he was leaving. I don't want to buy a boat and sail around the world. It's not a fast car I'm yearning for. I have no desire to jump out of a plane, climb a mountain or flash the tatas in New Orleans.

I just want to jump out of my safety zone and do something I've never done before. Or maybe do something I haven't done in a long time. I'm not quite sure what that is, but I'd like it to be out of character for me.

Sing a Song

When I was in high school, I sang in three or four Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. I was always the lead alto. It's been 35 years since I've been in a choir or sang a solo. I sing in the car, sing in front of my kids at school, sing with my granddaughters, and sing while I'm doing the dishes. But what I really want to do is sing Karaoke. And, I don't want to be drunk when I do it.

So, tonight I found an advertisement for singing lessons, 4 lessons at $10.00 each.

Improve range, breathing and sound quality. Learning correct vocal technique ensures longevity in singing. No more sore throats or vocal fatigue. Hear results on a CD that you take home! Gain confidence and experience in any style!

I've already emailed the teacher for more information. Maybe this could be the start of a whole new career. Or at least a fun Karaoke night!


I've discovered over the last few years that I have a good eye for photography. It's not something I've told myself, but several people have brought this to my attention. I have a few ideas that I've been tossing around in my head, and in a few weeks, when I go up north for my vacation, I'm going to set in motion one of those ideas. Without giving too much away, I'll be searching for old abandoned buildings and photographing them. I'm doing a little research on photography clubs and found one that suites my needs. Now I have to muster up the courage to attend one of their events. It would be easier for me to drag a friend along, but then where would the "stepping outside of my comfort zone" come into play?

Sunday Afternoons

Sundays are sometimes hard on me. They have been for about the last 10 years. In the past, Sunday had a lot of significance: church, Sunday School, reading Sunday's paper in bed, big breakfasts, quiet time with my x husband if the kids were with the grandparents, pot roast dinners, Star Trek, Shirley Temple Theater, going to the cottage, coming home from the cottage, homework with the kids, etc. I came to an understanding a long time ago that the past is over and I live in the present, and that's exactly how it should be. But, sometimes, I just get a little lonely on Sundays. So, instead of making Sunday my "clay day", I've been trying to get out and have a little bit of enjoyment on Sunday. It's such a simple thing, making plans for Sunday. Whether it is visiting friends, taking a drive, working in the yard or going out for dinner, I plan on making Sundays interesting again.

Adult Tap Dance

If I could be re-incarnated, I would come back as an entertainer. Some of my favorite programs to watch are old Hollywood musicals. There's nothing better than watching Gene Kelly 'Singing and Dancing in the Rain" and James Cagney tap dancing his way across a stage and half way up a wall. For most of my life, my secret desire has been to learn to tap dance. When I was younger, I would put tacs in my shoes and dance and tap my way around the basement, pretending I was in a Broadway show. No one ever saw this, no one ever knew about this. A few years ago, my granddaughter, Madeline witnessed me attempting to tap dance while we watched "Singing In The Rain." We each had an umbrella and we "fake" tap danced around the house. I'm probably too old, I'm much too out of shape, and my knee gives me a lot of pain, so I doubt I'm a great candidate for learning the art of tap dancing, but I'm going to have my eyes open for the next adult tap dancing class that community education offers. If it were cheap enough and the class was private enough, I'd consider it.

All of these ideas are within my reach. It's just a matter of taking the time to do them, possibly one at a time. They are within reason financially too. I had to take that into consideration when thinking of some things I'd like to try. As my income increases, my desires and dreams will too.
For instance, I would like to go to New England, Arizona and Montana. My biggest dream is to visit Great Britain. Aruba looks pretty nice too. But until I can afford that, I'll start with things I can do in my own back yard. (plus there's no flying involved, something I still haven't done.)

It's not unusual for me to want to try new things. Last year I bugged my kids for a guitar. My son bought me one for Mother's day, and to this day I can't get my hands to feel comfortable holding a chord. Another time I planned a trip to Maine, complete with a daily itinerary, and at the last minute canceled it. (I talked about Maine so much, people actually thought I had been there.) My heart was in the right place, the desire was great, but sometimes life just gets in the way. So, if I don't get to do all the things I'd like, I'm going to still have them as goals, and chip away at them one by one. I may have to skip a few, re-evaluate some, add little ones, and subtract big ones. But, knowing myself as I do, I'll always be taking a class, having an idea, or chasing a dream.

I leave with this quote,( author unknown)...

Life is not a Journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in a
pretty and well preserved body....BUT rather to skid in sideways --
Broadside -- Totally worn out Loudly Proclaiming....
"WOW !!! WHAT A RIDE!!!!!"

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