Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Thoughts on Tucson 2015

Somewhere over NC in the early morning.

Hey everyone! I've been home for about five days now ( most of that time laid out with some virus that sapped my life force).  I have a few thoughts I'd like to share. The first is that I've heard that it's sliding downhill and fast by more than a few vendors and I've heard a lot of the various ideas on why:
1. It's too long. Many of the shows are 9-14 days long.
2. People just aren't coming. Travel is too expensive.
3. The stock market. The big buyers don't have that disposable income anymore.
4. Too many shows, too many choices, the pie is being broken into too many pieces. 
Ok, I don't know which is the most true answer, but it's definetly not what it used to be. In the best days, the shows were short and sweet, there were loads of parties (we used to throw them ourselves) and the shows were packed with people from all over the world. It was  always a crazy time of year, one that everyone looked forward to, mainly because all the money that could be made, but also since it was like a worldwide bead buddy reunion. It was a point where FB friends would finally meet, where long time board friends could catch up and where you'd get a drink with those folks from Austria, because everyone went to Tucson in February. 

This year, it was quiet. It felt a bit worn at the edges, a little bedraggled. Of course, I might have just described myself by day three! This year, To Bead True Blue lasted nine days. I have no idea why, my guess is to sell hotel rooms, but anyway, by day five I was ready to leave and go shopping. 
These specimens are huge! That ammonite in the middle was bigger than a hubcap. I can't get enough of sparkly minerals. I remember one time when I was into carving rocks, I had Andrew help me haul rough stones and he brought a backpack and we stuffed it full to bursting, so he walked around like a hunchback. Man, I did get some super nice labradorite gems that time. 
A nice selfie of me and Diane. If I didn't have her with me, I'd have laid down and died. Math! Customers! At the same time! Ack! Ok, it isn't well known, or maybe it is, I'm not much of a 'customer service' person. It's not that I hate to sell, it's just that sometimes I'm not overly fearful of discussions at the table. Meaning I talk a lot and stand around looking at what folks bought in the other room, maybe start showing a new beading technique I discovered....and pretty soon it's a sewing circle behind the booth. It's fairly common for folks to have their 'piles' and eventually they get checked out. If I have Diane, I can talk all I want and she takes the money! It's brilliant. Let's just say when she left on day five, was a hard day for me. 
One of my hauls from African Villiage! Why yes, I am into antique seed beads, can you tell from this picture? Also not afraid of the hand woven indigo dyed shawls ( I have plans for those.....). 
To wrap this up, I won't be returning to The To Bead True Blue Show next year. It's too long. Nine days? Even six is stretching it. My tolerance is 4, maybe 5 days if I have buddies. We did ok, as far money, but that is a long time to stand around, me missing the kids, thinking about all my projects piling up. I would rather just go to shop, but that's for the future. 

I love going to Tucson. I really do. But for us, a lot of the reason (aside from cash) for going is making connections, meeting our favorite customers, seeing old friends and of course, making new ones. I mean, if it were just about money, we'd make more by staying home, since then I couldn't go shopping! 

Anyway, I'm dreaming of the way Tucson used to be. I have an idea, but I think I'll wait a bit before sharing. 


Monday, January 19, 2015

Root babies

Small sculptures of root babies, the top one in resin, the bottom carved in clay and encased in clear resin ( with the help of my brother Andrew, who took the time to sand the heck out of it and wire wrap it).
Ever since I was kid, I've had a fascination with roots and growing things. The tangled shapes of tree roots, sheltering pearlescent mushrooms and bright lichen can hold my attention longer than many things. It all started with my grandma, a sassy country woman with more energy than ten kids. One evening, while we were walking back from the lake, I spotted a tree with great big bulbous growth protruding from its side, as large as a watermelon. I asked my grandma what caused it and she took a moment, studying the shape, then said, 'Why that tree's gonna have babies! There are little babies in that bulge, waiting to pop out and find a nice place of its own, then grow into something purdy'. I believed her. I imagined what the babies would look like, probably like cute potatoes, all fat and sweet faced. Maybe pale green, with tiny leaf buds and smelling of earth and dew. 
Decades later, I'm still facinated by that image. Now, I realize my grandma probably had no idea what made the huge bulge in the tree, but rather than give us a short answer, she told us a tale that had us speculating for years. Later, when I told my dad (a guy that frequently named trees by their Latin name) what was in tree knots, he just smiled and asked if learned that from grandma. I guess he heard that story too. 
It's interesting to me as an adult, what ideas have contributed to my visual vocabulary as an artist. There are things that I loved as a child, that I still love, but with more informed eyes, I suppose. It leads me to questions of what I'll be making in the next twenty years, of what stories my children will keep and what they'll discard. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tiny doll

Hi! This little lovely has been in the works for months. She's 1/12 th scale, or dollhouse size cast in cold porcelain (resin infused with porcelain). I made a doll in wax a year ago and discovered that I couldn't mold it in the traditional way, since everything I tried to build the mold walls with reacted with the wax. So Greg cast the parts in bronze and I'm working out how to attach them. Anyway, after all that annoyance I decided to just do it over. It took a couple of weeks to sculpt all the pieces, then another month of dawdling over the molds, then a week of casting loads of parts. I haven't perfected the process, I still get lots of air bubbles. Now I have one doll! Yay! 

After stringing her, I found a few problems in the joints, so I'll have to repair them and remold. I'm going to make more heads and torsos so I can change them around and get a variety of figures. I really like sculpting the faces. This one looks like Kate Moss, to me. Or a Botticelli face. I was thinking of Waterhouse when I was making her wig and painting her face- she reminded me of that painting of Ophelia floating in the water, with all the flowers around her. 
I am very happy with her and can't wait till after Tucson when I can work on her till perfection! It's going to be doll heaven when I get home. I'm already making lists of things I'm going to make and it's all going to be fun. Except cleaning my studio. That won't be fun at all. 
Isn't she so cute? I love all the dolls in hand photos on Flickr! Now I can add mine! Or, rather Azalea's, since I gave this to her for Christmas. She was pleased. This doll is going into our dollhouse for magical creatures. I have to make a mermaid in a rolling tub next. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Adventures in Wool



Hi! Guess what I've been up to? Preparing for Tucson? Yes, of course, but also a few side projects I've long had on the back burner. I'm what you'd call a 'craftaholic' and love nothing more than holing up in my studio, with several beverages, my crew of assistants (Max and Azalea) and a good chunk of time. I decided that I was going to do some felting while visiting my family in FL and brought all the wool I could stuff into a tote bag. The bright orange pearlscale goldfish (Popo) pictured above was made partially on the way down, with a foam mat on my lap and wool everywhere. I embroidered the details, but I think I'll pick out the eye stitches when my glass eyes arrive. My stitches need work.
This little hand puppet of a root baby was made by wet felting around a form cut from foam. The leaves were cut out from felt sheets and sewed down. The tiny lichens were embroidered with French knots. The eyes are brass studs.
This is another felt portrait of one of my favorite fish, Hiro, a Kirin Ranchu goldfish. He's finished, except for needing glass eyes. 
I've been totally bewitched by all the fabric renditions of moths on Pinterest, so I thought I'd try my hand at making a pin version. Let me just say, embroidery skills are a must. Mine are not great, so I got pretty frustrated when my 'thread painting ' stitches looked bulgy and amateurish. Of course I picked those out, leaving the better ones. I just need to watch some videos on Craftsy and practice. 

Practice - it's one of those words you hear a lot, but is it just me, or is it hard to find the time to actually do it? I get a weird sensation of guilt when I fiddle around with making things that aren't going to make money. I can barely justify practicing yoga, let alone crafts that are just enjoyable! I think it's the hardest part of being an artist/self employed- taking time for fun. I happen to really love what i do, so it's easy to work from the moment I rise to finally calling it a night (morning). Anyway, it felt really good to just create what I wanted for almost a week, without considering how much it would cost, or if someone would buy it. 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

West coast



Hey there!  I just returned from a fantastic trip out west for a couple of shows. The first was Designer Con in Pasadena, a show focusing on artist prints, sculptural toys and apparel. It was a lot of fun to showcase our goods to a new crowd and meet loads of artists. The mermaids I carved and cast received a lot of attention, but it was my paper dolls that were a hit. I think I'll do it again, maybe. Doing shows is out of my comfort zone. After the show, Jess and I drove up the coast to meet some friends at The Sycamore Spa in San Luis Obispo to enjoy the hot springs. We got a room with a tub and pretty much stayed in the water the whole time. I think that water is magical, since I went in with a variety of aches and pains and came out feeling like a kid. I wish I had that water in house.

Whenever I'm in SF, Jess takes me all over the city to sample the local food. This is my favorite part. The food is so good, every time I think about it I have to take a moment to relish the memory. Anyway, here's a picture of some amazing doughnuts from Johnny's. They were so delicious, it was hard to stop at one. I mean two.


The Conservatory of Flowers was having an exhibit of aquascapes ( which were really hard to photograph!) but it was the collection of carnivorous plants that amazed me. Not only was the collection varied, but many were huge! I couldn't believe the size of some of those pods! The ones in the picture are easily bigger than my face, which impressed me because I couldn't grow them larger than a few inches. Anyway, it was marvelous. 
Between jaunts around town, I worked on some projects for Jess's pop up store in the Mission that will be opening near the first of December and will stay open till the end of January. The store, Elton Jeremiah, will feature vintage finds, handcrafted jewelry and also hand painted vintage bags. They were so fun to paint, I've been looking around for a bag maker to make me some blanks.
I'll post more info on the opening as it gets closer. 









Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tiny dress




Here's the dress I made from one of the patterns in Hankie Couture. I altered the bodice, so I could add beaded straps (which I will do when I have a spare moment). I didn't make the doll, but purchased her from an artist on ebay- neverland43. She reminds me of a borrower!


Let's make some doll clothes!



Hi! Today's craft obsession ( because I always have one!) is making doll clothes. Azalea and I love dolls and have, well, a mess of them, in a staggering array of sizes and brands. We're trying to curb the addiction, but only a little. Anyway, we added the new book Doll Couture by Marsha Greenberg to our craft book collection. Let's take a look.
The first thing I noticed about this book was the variety of outfits and the unique use of vintage handkerchiefs. 
I like the use of doilies as well. Of course, if you don't have a stash of hankies, you could use quilting fabric. The dresses are built from simple shapes and adorned with trims and bias tape, ribbon flowers and tiny buttons.
I had the idea of altering the patterns to fit my ball jointed dolls, since the pattern shapes seem simple enough to just reduce. This book has a lot more patterns then the authors previous book, Hankie Couture. That one has a few base patterns, very simple to trace onto paper towels to get started. It's for Barbie sized dolls, but these are easy to alter to fit other dolls ( I made a variation to fit my dollhouse sized doll).
While both books utilize interesting fabrics and have some good tips for tiny sewing, Hankie Couture has much easier items to finish. 
I was impressed with how many variations the author could get out of a couple of base patterns. Also, the finishing in both books is very nice, I love it when doll clothes are made beautifully. We enjoyed getting inspiration from both books and recommend them for an afternoon of sewing happiness. 
Here's where to get a copy:
http://www.runningpress.com/book/paperback/doll-couture/9780762453726

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Small items


Hi! Here's a little sculpture I made out of polymer clay, to be cast in resin. I think I'll try to get an ivory or porcelain looking resin, so it has an antique quality. I haven't decided if I should add more details to the head, like a crown or head dress. Anyway, it was fun to carve.
This cute little dragon-eyed goldfish will become a pin in resin, I think. Although greg thinks it would look better in pewter. I'm hoping to have a bunch of new, small items to sell at Designer Con, this November in Pasadena. I will be sharing a booth with Jeremiah Ketner and his lovely paintings. I can't wait to go! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bead Fest PA!

Hey there! We have been working round the clock to make nice things for the upcoming Bead Fest! Here's the site: http://www.beadfest.com/philadelphia.aspx
The coins are made from sterling and have a lovely rainbow finish, due to some hi jinks with liver of sulphur. This design is new and will debut at the show.
Another batch of crystals! I love how these look, like pieces from a movie, maybe Dark Crystal or Legend. Anyway, I'm staying up all night making more goodies for the show, so stop by early to see everything!