Thursday, October 05, 2017

Let's talk about Tucson

Over the past few months we've been trying to come up with a plan for Tucson, since the show we usually do abruptly moved to a casino fourteen miles out of town. To us, this seemed ludicrous. Not only is it far and out of the way, the folks wandering around a casino are likely to be uninterested in artisan beads. I mean, every casino I've ever been to contained folks whose focus was completely engaged in cards or slots. But that's only one thing. 

After years and years of doing Tucson, from when the Best Bead was at the La Quinta ( I was freshly out of college and completely overwhelmed) and at one point doing three different locations, we've noticed some changes. For one thing, why are the shows running to almost two weeks? Who has that kind of energy to stand all day and be pleasant and helpful and not eat, or get enough bathroom breaks? I noticed the shows start off strong, then attendance drops drastically, with just vendors milling about. Sure, you make a little money, but it's mostly folks coming back to pick stuff up. I think it loses momentum. For the last few years, I've been trying to come up with a solution. The first one of begging the promoter to have mercy and shorten it didn't work, ( maybe because the hotel had a deal with them, so it didn't matter a jot if it was ghost town or not - who knows? ). The second was to move shows. Unfortunately, the traffic at the smaller shows was dwindling, so that wasn't good. Then we thought about joining Gem Mall or one of the other big ones. This didn't seem like a good fit either, because those are still long and also expensive. 

Anyway, this subject was being discussed at length (again) at dinner with fellow vendors and Greg said to Ava 'Let's just forget those other shows and do our own. It can be whatever we want it to be! We could have demonstrations, good food and drinks, music, puppets! ( ok he didn't say puppets, but really we could if we wanted to!).'  So, we decided then and there to just do it.  Go all in.  Right now we have a space and some vendors, but we need more. Maybe ideas on how we can bring that old excitement back? Remember when Tucson was so anticipated that folks were willing to sleep 6 in a room because the whole town was bursting with beaders and stone dealers? It used to be so fun, that I could hardly stand it. Somewhere along the way it got stretched out and lost the shine. I want to make it magical again. If you'd like to be a part of this, shoot me an email, or leave some suggestions for the perfect show.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Make it Artsy!

Some months back, I went to Ohio and shot a couple of segments of a Make it Artsy episode. In this one, I demonstrate how to make a jointed paper doll. The show airs on the Make It Artsy website starting at noon on Friday, September 8, 2017 and runs for 7 days.




Sunday, March 26, 2017

Difference Makes Us Contest

 Hey everyone! I'm sure if you follow us on social media you've heard about the contest we've entered through Etsy. It's a contest celebrating the things that make us different and the prize is 10k! We have been talking about it fairly nonstop, imagining the new equipment we could be outfitted with and how fast and easy it would make production. Anyway, if you'd like to help us win, vote for us! It would mean the world. Thanks so much. #differencemakesus

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Dragon and Moth Fairy Paper Dolls

Paper dolls are so fun to make! I made these a few months ago and finally put them in my etsy shop. Finding the perfect color for the dragon took ages, it was just so hard to decide! I made the drawing first, then made copies to color to see what looked best. The green seemed the most natural, but I'm considering making a rainbow version. 
I used watercolor for the underpainting and used gouache for details. There's a bit of pan pastel for light touches of color.
It's perfect for sheer veils to add depth or contrast. 
Fairies are one of my favorite subjects for paper dolls; possibly because I was so fixated on them as a kid. I remember seeing an antique photo of girls watching fairies fly around them and using a magnifying glass to figure out if it was real. A big part of me didn't want to know if it was real, but my nature is a curious one.
It didn't really matter if it was real, I just loved the idea of magic. But then, who doesn't? I place these guys around my studio, so it looks like they just landed to make a delivery. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Paper doll process

I've always had a fascination with paper toys. As a kid, I made houses and characters out of scrap paper, magazines and shiny pieces of foil. I loved opening the flat box and watching a whole world tumble forth. It was like a fairy tale room that was bigger on the inside than it was on the outside. Anyway, I still make paper toys and it's still fun to create characters and watch them develop from a sketch, into a finished piece. 
The smaller unicorn is the first draft from the sketch. I made the larger one after, making notes and more sketches to improve the form so it would look good in multiple poses.
Making this crow was surprisingly challenging. Drawing shapes that captured a crows striking form took several drafts. I had a tendency to draw a blackbird, with its lighter body and smaller beak. It's getting there, the body could stand to be a bit bigger and the wing tips longer.
I've had this guy on the drawing board for awhile. I've made a few variations, but I think this one is the strongest. I'm going to make the base of the tentacles wider and change some of the shapes, so that they can be in more varied poses. 
The final steps include making a light pencil drawing, with all the pieces arranged so it's easy to see how they are supposed to go together and then painting the drawing with watercolor and gouache. My favorite part is cutting out the final and putting it all together. It's always a pleasure to compare the sketch with the finished piece. Now I'm off to paint!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Summertime 2016

Hey everyone! Here are some pictures of what we've been getting into this summer. We went down to Orlando to visit family after Bead and Button and it definitely felt different. I was surprised by all the support of local businesses with signs up, of cars around town with stickers, all with mottos around themes of 'never stop dancing' and 'we are the pulse' and 'we are Orlando '. I admit I felt emotionally raw and sort of unable to look this business in the face, as it were. Part of me wishes this year would just go ahead and be over. The other part, that knows I can't be a hermit and stay in my studio and not communicate with the world, is trying to find the good. 

It's searching out the best seafood lunches near the beach, seeing how long I can stay in the ocean before Greg forces me back to the sand, it's finding the biggest, fattest blueberries. 

I've made a lot of new work lately, but I'll save that for another day. This post is all about simple things.

We did the Asheville farm tour this year and had so much fun visiting local farms and looking at all the animals. As you might guess, we were spoiled for choices. This is at Hickory Gap farm. I can't remember the other names.
The kids wanted to roll around with them. I said 'no'. For one, it's too hot, second, my mom would flip out. Plus, that's just weird, even for me. Also, I crocheted that sweet hat from raffia. It's a bit too floppy.
Sleepy piggy, I love you.
Selfie, with Greg looking on with a bucket of blueberries. Those berries made excellent muffins. Every time I see a picture of myself I think of my friend Claudine asking why I didn't put on some lipstick for that picture. It would add a bit of contrast. There's probably an app for that.
Guess what Max's favorite animal was? That's right, an alpaca. He couldn't stop petting them and they didn't mind one bit.
Look at that face! Growing up so fast.
Found really good fried seafood. Not as good as my moms, but what is?
Love the light here, how it was simultaneously bright and dark at the same time. A huge rain storm hit minutes after. I had fun having the kids guess what sounds they were hearing. Their faces when I told them that the deep chuffing sound was a gator! Don't worry, we were on a raised path, with steep walls that would be difficult for gators to climb up on. I was raised in areas like this, so I know what to look for, as far as local wildlife.
This is near the space station, where I spent many a field trip. It really is beautiful in the late afternoon. 

Thursday, June 02, 2016

New for Bead and Button 2016!

Hi there! It has been pretty busy at Green Girl Studios! I've been carving mostly, with some excursions into painting, hiking and zoo visits. Above is a pic of Max, posing in an owl at Knoxville Zoo. 
Here's a shot of my new root baby on one of my paintings. She looks a little like coral, too. The painting is on a wood panel, with a limited palette of quinacridone crimson, Prussian blue and white. I think I'm almost finished with my limited palette stage. We shall see.
This is Craggy Gardens, where that hiker got tied to a tree a couple weeks ago. We were there at the same time, oddly enough and didn't see a thing. I guess we were too focused on the landscape.
Behold! Look at all that work! That's what I see, when I look at this. This has to be one of my favorite batches ever. You'll probably notice a few pieces from awhile back that never made it into production, like the hand and cuff, the tiny snake link and the mermaid in a jingle shell. The molds were damaged, so only a few were made, I I retooled the waxes and Greg molded them. I think they are better this time around. There's also a piece my sister Sheila made ( the rectangle flying heart pendant) almost a dozen years ago. It has a beautiful quote on the back 'there is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.' - George Sands. I decided to carve 'the mind has a thousand eyes, the heart but one.' On the back of the eye in clouds pendant. I struggled with that one, since I had so many great options. I was tempted to put a piece of a Coldplay song on it 'look at the stars, look how they shine for you'. But I think I'll save that for later. My friends on fb had a ton of suggestions and it was fun seeing what the piece inspired. Anyway! I really like this batch of goodies and I'm pleased I have almost all the new pieces on the website.
Of course, I'm saving a few to debut at the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee. It begins June 9-12. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Hi there! Some of you have seen this pic on fb and have heard all about how much I love my ceramics class. Well, it's one of the best parts of my week! I get to zone out and let my hands tell me what to make. It's very meditative and a good way to stir up creativity in other aspects of ones work. Anyway, the picture above features hand built pieces that have been bisque fired, with various treatments of underglaze.
This is how they came out of the kiln with clear glaze! So amazing. I learned a good deal about glaze thickness and how very thick glaze can lift the details from underglaze painting. I prefer the glaze much thinner, almost wiped off in some areas. 
The only thing I don't like is that my octopus bowl wasn't on the finished shelves. There was a kiln filled with glazed goods still firing when I looked, so I'm trying to stay optimistic. Unfortunately, I've had loads of pieces disappear from classes I've taken over the years. Hopefully this one is just hiding, because I'm going to be really disgusted if someone walked off with the piece I put the most work into!
The evening class at the college finished up last week, so I started going to the instructors studio for lessons. It's always fun going to another artists studio and seeing how they organize (or don't!) and the tools they use. The advantage to taking classes from a private studio is that the curriculum is looser, so if I wanted to just make small dishes and doll faces, that's fine. The pieces in the picture above are from the new class, with dark clay coated with underglaze and carved. Hopefully the white stays opaque! I probably should have used white slip, since it has more covering power. I'm excited to see how these turn out! 

Saturday, October 03, 2015

No fame for the wicked

After I heard about the latest mass shooting, I felt a stab of paranoia, anger and incredulity. Is any place safe? I wonder if other folks are training their kids to look for exit strategies, places to hide and how to tell if someone is carrying a gun?
I've read countless articles on various ideas to stop the violence, from getting rid of guns completely to more education, to help lines for troubled people. 

None of these really seem to get to the bottom of this particular problem right now. I can't see any way to completely get rid of guns, without starting a war in this country. Most of the people I know have access to guns, but none of them would ever go on a killing spree. 

In my mind, these troubled people want the same thing: to be heard, seen, talked about and contemplated. They want millions of people to know their name. 

What would happen if our society decided to erase these people from existence? All pictures of these shooters replaced with pictures of their victims, with stories of the people that lost their lives. What if their names weren't released? Would these young men go down in a blaze of glory if they knew that no one would know their name or face and that they would be buried in an unmarked grave?

Something tells me they wouldn't, at least the ones wishing to be on the cover of Rolling Stone wouldn't. Changes need to take place in this country, real solutions to gun violence. Why not make owning guns like driving cars?  You need a license and pass tests to be able to drive. Or make certain types of guns illegal. Something. Or I guess we can all start learning how to disarm a gunman and wear bulletproof gear. 

Thursday, October 01, 2015


A few weeks ago, I came down with a horrible cold and all I felt like doing was cocooning myself on the couch with some yarn, my hooks and Netflix. I'm pretty much a beginner, so I followed some easy patterns to get the movement and rhythm of stitching down. Azalea is modeling my first hat, above. I like that she had been wearing it everyday at school. 
Here's another hat, but I modified the pattern to give it a mushroom shape. I think it looks better on me.
I used a really pretty yarn called Malabrigo for this hat. I also tried out a coral pattern called hyperbolic crochet for the flower. The bronze star button set in the middle is one I carved. The flower was a lot of fun and I could see how folks get addicted to making those big crocheted coral reef displays (seeing those really got me interested in the sculptural aspects of crochet).
My latest project is this lace shawl made with Malabrigo yarn in alpaca and mohair. It's super soft and warm even though it's made of a really open star design. 
I'm finally getting over this never ending cold, but I feel a bit rueful about it. I was so enjoying sitting for hours with a project and not feeling even remotely guilty about it!