Wednesday, December 26, 2007

For Ann

I made this gouache (opaque watercolor) painting of Azalea and Brandie for my mother in law Ann. She is so amazing with Azalea, reading to her and always being so attentive. So this is a little token of appreciation and love for her.

Sea Quilt

My friend Jessica Wiesel started this quilt for Azalea when she found out I was having a girl and she just gave it her for Christmas (three years later). It is so beautiful. Its fun, too, because I recognize some of the fabrics from our travels, collected and used years later for something really special. I think that is half the magic of a quilt, bits and pieces gathered, carefully selected and stitched together with all the thoughts of the happiness and comfort it will bring. My mama and grandma used to quilt and I can remember at a young age sitting with a group of women teaching me and my sister how to quilt. The lessons were about patience and doing a job with care and love. I seem to remember hearing someone say 'If you sew with love and prayers, your thread won't knot'. I liked the idea of a thing retaining your good wishes as you worked them in.

more polymer

Hey, look! Glass eyes! I'm such a nerd. These polymer pieces were made this weekend while we were visiting family in Cincinatti.
I brought my traveling studio so we could make stuff while we talked. I think one of my early mentors, Mrs. Bassett used to say 'Busy hands are happy hands!'. I think that phrase stuck. I am really liking all this colored clay business. The birdgirl, pug and deergirl are mostly colored polymer, hardly any painting required, just washes here and there, then a few highlights. I saw all these cute mini sculptures of babies on the internet and wanted to make one as well, so this is my second attempt. I'm having trouble keeping my clay pristine while I work (fuzzies get on it, or dark spots from other clay) so I have to paint it afterward, ruining that porcelaine finish. Its easier with faster pieces that I can make quickly then bake, but if it requires multiple firings, things start looking a little murky. I will have to do more experiments.

Jenny's Gift

Isn't this nice! My sister -in -law Jen Ogden made this cool painting of me and my brother Andrew. I think it looks exactly like him.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Glass Eyes

Hello! What your seeing here are some tests of glass eyes on wire. The weird little ball with an eye is a test to see if the these little peepers would crack or shatter in the oven as they fired. It did not and I am pleased. This little project consisted of me ransacking the garage looking for my Hot Head torch. Hours later, I found it and remembered how slow it was, so I opted for the minor bench burner ( a much bigger torch). Now I haven't touched glass making since before Azalea was born so I was slow and clumsy at first and made more of a mess than anything. Gradually, I made what you see here, but it took awhile, even though they are tiny (smaller than peas). Now my hands are killing me- tiny things can be so hard on your hands. It was fun and I'm curious how my dolls will look with new eyes. I'm thinking about making some small bird girls to hang around or attach to branches. I think they will look super cute. Now I just have to mix some nice colors.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

House Sprite

Hello! Look what I finished today! Sheila watched Azalea so I had the whole day to play. This little lady (about 3" tall, knees to hair) is a house sprite, a fey creature that borrows things when your not looking, making it impossible to find your keys. I made her out of polymer clay and wire, then painted her with acrylics. The hair is wool and the clothes, velvet and suede. She will live in my cabinet of curiosities, along with my other strange beasties and dollies. Note to doll makers: I don't recomend smoothing the polymer with sculpey dilutent or liquid sculpey as this makes very strange boils on the surface. Very annoying. Anyway, I'm trying to think of a good way to do the eyes so they look more realistic. I looked up tiny glass eyes and didn't like the prices. Maybe I'll get the torches out and make my own. I haven't made anything with glass in years. Now i have an excuse. I have procrastinated to my hearts content today, narrowly avoiding all the work thats piling up for Tucson. Yes, in a few short weeks it will be upon us. Tommorow I shall make more ornaments because they are loads of fun and I don't want to make originals yet, I'm still thinking.

Polymer experiments

Here are some things I've been playing with lately, all in polymer clay. I made the beads from directions out of the book Making Polymer Clay Beads. I think they look better in person (so much glare!). The little doll head ornaments took most of this evening to make and I'm really pleased with them. I was inspired by the head ornaments on strange dolls and found them so much fun to make! I could sculpt doll heads all day, but I don't like making the bodies, so these ornaments are perfect to make.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cat Girl

Look at who's coming to live with me! I've admired Beth Robinson's work for some time now and I am so happy to add her work to my collection. She makes her dolls from polymer,acrylic, vintage fabric, and human hair. Very creepy in a good way.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Sketches

These are a couple of sketches done with gouache (an opaque watercolor) picked up after the urging of my painter buddy Jeremiah. He suggested acrylic gouache, which I thought was some sort of witchcraft, but he assured me it was magical. Well, after scouring every art supply store around, I gave up and bought the regular, inexpesive stuff. I had my doubts, as it was the main tool of torture at CCAD (where I went to school) and thought since I wasn't painting a color concept asignment, it might be nice. Glad I tried it. It gave my sketches a finished quality thats satisfying to see in my sketchbooks. I've been thinking alot about painting recently, tentatively putting down thoughts, in hopes the feeling doesn't flit away. Its scary, sometimes, to make art and then show it. Sharing it on this blog is a little easier, as I'm more comfortable here. But the goal is to make this new work, show it, make prints. These are just sketches of things to come...

New Fabric

Look at this pretty fabric I picked up at Asheville Cotton Company! Nice for pinafores and dolly dresses. Today was so nice out! Almost 70! It was nice walking around and enjoying the weather. We finally finished putting up the tree, which has a sort of enchanted forest, folk lore effect. After I clean tomorrow I will show it off.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


We are back from Florida, it was a good time! On the way home we stopped at the beach to walk around and hunt for seashells. Very refreshing after sitting in the car for a couple of hours. Later we got back on the road and took another break at the Jacksonville Zoo, which proved to have a large selection of interesting birds (my favorite!) and the cutest, tiniest monkey I have ever seen. Now I'm obsessing how to make a doll that small and fur covered (the pygmy monkey was about 6" ! Amazing!). Its good to be home.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I found Kathleen Lolley on Art Star and would love to own all her work! I can see we share many influences: owls, pods, Remedios Varo and strange beasties. Looking at her work puts me in the mood to paint!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Lake Lily

Happy to feed the ibises.

Look at my baby girl in action! It is a family operation- note my mama, inspecting our work.
The show was a little slow today, so we went outside to walk around Lake Lily (which is right outside) to feed the birds. We saw loads of red striped turtles, black cormorants and my favorite, white ibises. Oh, and one gator.
I bought some simple cut green amythyst and coin shaped smokey quartz to add to my ginormous collection. I also bought a couple of fancy cut crystals that are 'tools for enlightment' or 'magicians stones'. I like things like that, the hang tags so full of hope, so sure of there amazing powers. Descriptions are so much fun to read! Catalogs with carefully worded descriptions are some of my favorite things to read, I love Sundance Jewelry and
Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs...the way they describe the products make me want everything. Why wouldn't I want a 'mermaids hairpin' or smell like 'spun sugar'? I really need to work on our descriptions, I used to make a catalog with folklore and stories, but that would be outdated within a couple months. I will add it to my things to do list.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Small and sweet

Look at my new acquisitions! I bought these lovely gems from the talented Jeremiah Ketner. They are about 5" x 6" and painted with acrylics on woooden board. His work will be available this weekend in Miami at the Bridge Art Fair represented by his co-op gallery GardenFresh and also at the Red Dot Fair represented by Melanee Cooper Gallery. You have to see his work in person to really appreciate how luminous his pieces are, there are layers of irridecent paint the camera just cannot pick up. I showed them to my girl and she said "Oh, that's a painting of me! See? Look at my belly." So dang cute.

In Orlando

I'm in Orlando, sitting in a bookstore, amazed yet again at how much things change around here. I grew up in these parts, so its weird to pass once familiar places and see them transformed into slick, commercial outposts. I passed our old house and was surprised to see a new building in its place. I was instantly reminded of afternoons spent up trees and in the rafters of ancient barns, investigating the nest of a speckled owl. I'm reminded of what little it took to entertain me, to make me happy. I didn't need much, a good book, a shady place to rest and maybe a few tangerines from our grove. Its easy to forget how beautiful it is to live simply, to be grateful for small blessings. I think of myself as a kid and remember its ok to play, to make things, to enjoy this life. Interestly, these small shifts in thinking have lifted the fog that has settled around me. So, with my new clarity, I'm off to spend some time with my sketchbook.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A felted Totoro I made for my girl.

Studio in the process of organization. This is a view from the entrance, standing in the closet.

Another view, from the back corner. Still needs work.

New earrings for the Orlando show.
Hi there! Busy around here, with the holidays and all. I find that this time of the year I feel like hibernating and not coming out till spring. So I've been putsing around the house, getting nothing done, feeling totally uninspired to do anything. I've slowly organized my studio, so that its easier to find things. My space has a tendancy to pile up wherever I'm working, not with trash, but with things that inspire me, or tools and materials. I like having it close on hand, but when you switch crafts as often as I do, things get a little confusing. I had been making felted cupcakes and cartoon characters when I realized that in a couple of days we would be leaving to go to Orlando for the Maitland Show. This happens fairly frequently, I tend to misjudge time. I always think I have loads and loads, then I have to work like a maniac. Thank goodness I'm fast. When I'm in a slump, when I can't manage to make anything good, when I lose things continously, I find its best to just give in for the moment and stop. I watch loads of movies when this happens. Its kind of like meditating, because I can let go of everything crowding my thoughts. I watched the Firefly series again and loved it even more than the first time. It was fun to escape for awhile. Although I don't recomend watching it while felting, you'll poke yourself silly. Anyway, if your in Orlando this weekend, stop by and see us!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bezel Class

Hello! Check out the work made in the class! I forgot to take pictures of the backsides (which were carved). We had so much fun! I really enjoyed working with such enthusiastic and talented people - a really amazing group. Everything went over perfectly, down to the after party (which was loads of fun!). I got my fortune read by one of my students husband (who happened to have his deck) and was blown away by what he read in the cards. Things I knew, but ignored, of course. Sometimes hearing something that has been echoing in your in mind- helps , it provides the nudge to stop doubting and do what you know you need to. In my case, this story that Ive carried around for years, which is comforting to go to again and again, but is scary to let go into the world. Its fun to build, my little escape world, but its time to finish it. So thats my next project. Everything else can wait.

Fun in Chicago


Hi there! This is my long -time friend Jeremiah Ketner at his studio. The super cute boys belong to him. I dropped off Greg and Azalea in Cincinatti, while I contiued on to Chicago to prep for the bezel class. We had a great time shopping for materials and catching up. It was fun working in a different enviroment with another artist, so much energy! Jeremiah and I have been collaborating on a kids book for about a year now, it was good to to re-examine our work.

clay head

This is a hollow piece of stoneware. Its still wet in the pic, I'm curious what the finished sculpture will look like. I'm imagining the glaze to look like rock (maybe with a raku technique) to go in my flower beds. Hopefully it will survive the kiln!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

River District

Hello! This is a sample for the class Lisa and I will be teaching this weekend. Lisa will share how to sculpt lovely silver bezels and I will show the numerous ways to fill the box. I could call it 'Fun with Polymer, Paint, and Resin' but that wouldn't really cover all the techniques. Anyway, we have loads of good things to learn! Only a couple spaces left!

We went to the River District Art Walk today and had the best time. Azalea and I met up with Tony, Lisa and Deborah near a warehouse called the 'wedge' which was filled with artists spaces. Now I knew Asheville had a thriving art community, but I was unaware of all the sweet studios they were sporting. I've lived here for four years and never did the art walk, so I was pleasantly surprised by the numerous buildings jam packed with artists of every category. Also surprising/aggravating was to walk into a space we were considering renovating,( but thought it too much work) and see it completely finished. It was $700 a month for about 3000 sf. Sometimes its good to jump on an opportunity when you have a chance (obvious, I know, I'm still kicking myself). On the other hand, it's now I nice place to take art classes, like 'Mommy and Me', which it wouldn't have been if I ran it. What would we have done with it? Casting, fabricating, moldmaking, and we would have good ventilation....ah, to dream. So it was fun to see art being made and shown, so much enthusiasm! I'm on the lookout again for space over there, hopefully we'll get lucky.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New Doll

Greg bought me a Blythe Doll a couple weeks ago and she arrived yesterday. Azalea has been begging to hold her non-stop since, so I let her pose with Blythe and her new reversible pinafore from Etsy shop Lassie Girl. She has another on the way, printed with owls. I like this design, its easy to put on, it goes with loads of things and since its reversible, its perfect for travel.

I love my new doll! I love dolls in general, but I particularly enjoy bizaare ones. It seems there is a whole community of people devoted to these dolls. I wanted one the moment I clapped eyes on her at flea market about 20 years ago. My mom refused to buy her for me on the grounds that she didn't like " her 'steering' at me" (said with a thick accent). I wanted that doll probably more than I wanted the utterly pathetic creature called 'Little Miss No-Name' another doll from the seventies with ginormous eyes on an equally humongous head. It never bothered me a bit how piddly their bodies were, I had loads of other big-headed dolls. My older brother always enjoyed telling me the medical conditions my dolls had...elephantitus of the head, water on the brain, or some other obscure malady. I didn't care, I loved my little collection.

We have been reorganizing and rearranging my studio and working on samples for an upcoming class in Chicago. I will be teaching silver bezels with sculpted interiors with Lisa Blackwell. I'm really excited to be going back to Chicago, its been awhile since my last visit. I'm also nervous about teaching, I have a tendancy to give information overload, for fear folks won't get their monies worth. I have a lot of secret techniques to share, so if you're in town sign up, there are a couple spots available.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tree House

Today we worked outside on the tree house that Tony started a couple days ago. We watched for the Sasquatch and Grass Dog (from Lady in the Water) and we tried to spot all the fairy dwellings around the fort. I counted three. We searched for acorn caps that were interestingly shaped so we could use them for doll hats, but we didn't find any. We had lots of fun today, my girl pretending to be a benevolent queen and I, the trusty pony to pull her chariot (wheel barrow).
When I was a kid, I played in the deserts of New Mexico with my sister under a huge, upturned tree; it was like a shallow cave with the roots dangling down for a roof. We used to tie pieces of glass to the roots as sun catchers and line up busted open 'thunder eggs' (we didn't know they were called geodes-we opened them by banging them on the sidewalk) around the tree, like a sparkly fence. I hadn't thought of our fort and all the days we spent fixing it up, for years. I felt small again and full of wonder.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pixie Girl

Hello! I made my girl a tutu and flower garland so she could get into character as the pixie princess. We went to the store to get pickles (we can't get enough pickles-dill, bread and butter, dilly beans, love, love,love) and I spotted this pretty tulle, and being a fabric addict, I grabbed some in three colors and some fake fur in cheetah and seal. And some really good cotton twill for dolls. I am Captain Craft O'Matic today! A tutu, garland, and a sprite (made from wire and polymer) since yesterday. I meant to organize, but that is, as we all know, a complete drag. So, with complete abandon, we watched movie after movie and stitched and sculpted (my girls a whiz with play-doh) with no thought if it would make money. This sounds terrible, but when your self employed, everything you make is for sale. Or in my case, it needs to be castable. So its a luxury to make fun, one of a kind pieces. I need to do this at least once a month or become 'hard to get along with' as my mama says. No one likes a cranky artist, so here I am with nothing done for the BABE! show next week, but I'm pleased as punch. I'm almost finished with the sprite that will live in my new cabinet, she needs a face, hair and wings. I bought directions online on how to make fairy wings, hopefully I'll do it right. I'm determined to finish everthing except the wings tonight, or I won't sleep. So, I guess I have to announce a winner for the contest, I know, I know, its been like two weeks and everybody thinks I'm trying to keep the necklace Andrew made (I would never do anything like that! Also, its green and I have loads of green necklaces) but the truth is, I hate picking one person, its like eating truffles in front of everybody and not sharing. But theres one necklace! I will do another contest then, so no one is mad at me. Ok, the winner is.......MELISSA! Mellisa, contact me with your address. Thanks to all who participated and check back soon for the next contest.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Look at my woodland creature! She had so much fun running around with her buddies in Greenville. We did something different, Trunk or Treat, which is held in a parking lot with cars trunks popped open and folks giving out candy. The concept is less fun than beggars night (waiting in a long line to collect candy as opposed to running from house to house). I think its for saftey. Maybe next year I'll get a bunch of people together to make a 'creepy village' or 'spooky woods'. I did like the pony quite a bit.

We worked on rearranging and organizing, which is always refreshing. I love how it looks! We had a few friends over to taste some cheeses and good wines, something I never tire of doing. I suppose paradise would include a massive cheese selection (including all the aged, funky goaty ones) and no headache inducing wines. Well, I'm back on schedule tomorrow, ready to make loads of new goods.