Friday, December 25, 2009

family pictures

A few days ago, we hired our friend Meg Reilley to take some family pictures for our album and one to put in the 'about us' section of our website. Meg shot our wedding and also the author portrait in Enchanted Adornments. Above is the 'Totem Pole' pic, as we like to call it. We couldn't resist using the beautiful sugar-soft snow, especially since it was surprisingly warm outside. It rarely snows like this in Asheville, so we were pleased to have such a lovely backdrop.

Azalea and Max.

Snow baby!

Woodland girl.

My woodland girl, pretending to discover a snow baby. She's quite the actor, she loves dress up and games of pretend.

Greg posing as the dreamy forest king.

Let's get a closer look of that business.

Here's Andrew, looking pleased about something, maybe thinking about painting our next collaboration project, or his presents.

I am so happy with how the pictures came out! I think I'll have Meg shoot us again this summer. It would be fun to make props and costumes, like painted paper wings for Azalea and a bird boat for Max. I better start sketching now!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

snow bird

I finished this wax master yesterday, its about an inch long and maybe an inch and a quarter between the wings. It looks big, but its nestled in Azalea's plump little hand. Remember it will shrink another 10 percent in casting, so imagine it even smaller! We're planning on casting it in silver and shibuichi and maybe one in gold for me, if its not too expensive (I love gold!). Hopefully, it will be done for Tucson, but looking at how slow we're moving, it might be closer to Bead and Button!
Anyway, I'm calling it 'snow bird' because of all the birds that are at the window feeders (Eastern Bluebirds, Sparrows, Finches, Titmice and Pileated Wood Peckers). They look so bright against the wintry backdrop of snow covered trees. The term 'snow bird' is usually given to those who travel south for the winter months. My grandparents left Missouri in October and came down to Orlando until spring. Now that I'm huddled up inside the house, layered in sweaters and shearling, I can appreaciate the idea. In fact, Hawaii sounds pretty dang good right about now. Ok, back to carving!

Monday, December 14, 2009

happy days

Whenever the camera comes out, my girl makes sure she's in the picture!

Greg and Max posing on the porch before heading out for lunch to the Corner Kitchen Cafe.

Daddy snuggling his baby.
Its quiet around here, days spent cuddling near the fireplace, watching old movies and munching Greg's delectable banana bread. I suppose this is the calm before the storm of work that's headed our way. The annual trek to Tucson is just a couple of months away and we try to bring new beads, fancy samples and a few limited editions. I've worked on the same piece for a few days now, a bird in flight with a hole in the tail and through the side of beak (so it looks like the bird is holding something, in this case a jumpring). I'm imagining it in necklaces as a link between sky colored opals or as a drop pendant with a teardrop of clear pink tourmaline. Its in the last stages of detail, as its too difficult for me to leave anything gestural, with lots of tool marks - I tend to want to carve every feather. Tonight is the last night I will let myself noodle away on it, since I can spend weeks on one piece if no one stopped me! This slow pace suits us right now, sketching Max while he sleeps, building wooden block castles or sipping hot chocolate while making big plans. These are times I will remember as the best of my life, simple and relaxed, our cares seeming far away.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Maximus Prime! (that's what Sheila calls him).

My babies napping on the couch.

Me, looking haggard and Max like a sweet sugar puff, also resting on the couch, which is easily the most comfortable in the world.

Andrew posing in front of my favorite place...The Chocolate Lounge! There are so many things I am grateful for in this world, Greg, my babies, Andrew, chocolate, books and my friends (both internet and local). That statement, which sounds remarkably corny even to myself, is true on so many levels. I find myself dependant on those things to keep me from 'gettin' crazy' as we like to say. Take today for example: I get maybe 30 minutes to respond to emails (its a pain to type with baby in one now) and I find the rude message I talked about in the previous post. I quickly wrote the reply, then sat there wondering what to do, the first thing I thought of was to blog about it. Initially I thought some glassworkers might be interested in making them, but as I finished, I realized it was almost like phoning a friend to set me straight. I am deeply grateful there are folks out there willing to spend their time visiting my little world and offering kind words. Reading the comments lifted the heaviness that threatened to bog me down.
Life is starting to follow a rhythm around here. I'm getting used to Max's ways and am working around them. I've spent every moment he's asleep on designing and carving waxes, which feels a little like guerilla art making. Most of my time is spent watching old shows on hulu while I'm nursing baby, which makes it easier 4 in the morning!

my apologies

I just finished writing an email to a very angry person that purchased my book. Apparently, they felt it necessary to tell me how 'ripped off' they felt since they couldn't find the hollow beads in the Time and Memory project. Our good friend Shannon Hill used to make them, but recently passed away from lung cancer. The book was already in production when he died. I think of him everytime I wear the necklace and it makes me sad, but the memories of cutting up and trading stories always brings a smile. I recall how pleased he was with how I used his beads.

I'm surprised by the comment that I'm 'dangling candy in front of a child and not allowing them to eat'. So, I wonder if others feel this way. Now, I'm not asking anyone to get critical and really let me have it, as I might show my aggressive side (yes, shocking, I do possess a tiny bit of ferocity). I feel compelled to be incredibly angry that someone would speak to me that way, especially since I haven't been criticized like that in years. That makes me sound lofty, but folks generally treat me like an adult. The really annoying part is that I feel like a kid that has been scolded after attempting to make a gift. I do not enjoy this feeling, as it sits awkwardly in my soul. I responded politely, nicely informing them that I was looking for artists to make them. To cheer myself up, I think I'll enjoy Gregs amazing fudge. It has astonishing powers to alleaviate most agravations.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Wooden nesting dolls I finished the night before Max was born. They are painted with acrylics and pearlescent pigments.

Me and Max, posing on the porch.

Two weeks old and getting bigger!

Look how sweet my babies are! Azalea is so nurturing and sweet, like a little mama.
Look at my girl, wearing her daddy's boots!
The last couple of weeks have been a blur of cuddling and hugging and not sleeping. Which for me, isn't a big deal, since I'm used to working at night. The hardest part is staying out of the studio! I'm torn between the desire to make stuff and the need to always hold my baby. Of course holding the baby wins! I've barely left the house and haven't stepped foot in my studio since my boy was born! I don't mind, I love this part of babyhood so much and its so brief. I feel like I was just holding Azalea in swaddling blankets yesterday.

We went out yesterday to the local Barnes and Noble, to see my book on the shelf (I know, I'm a corn nut) but to my disappointment, I couldn't find any. I felt slightly bummed out, because I couldn't stop wondering if they sold out, or if the store just didn't order any copies. Oh well, maybe I'll spot them at Malaprops or Borders.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Welcome home, Max!

These are a few of the first pictures taken right after my baby was born. We think he's pretty cute. I had been planning a trip to Columbia, SC to attend a doll show in the morning, to visit the booth of one of my favorite dolls, Ellowyne Wilde. Around four in the morning, I started to feel odd, sort of crampy and thought I might be experiancing some contractions you get during the last couple of weeks of pregnancy. About forty minutes later, I realized I was in labor. I guess the cramping every three minutes gave it away. We got ourselves organized and drove to the hospital, trying to figure out what to do with Azalea (since swine flu prevents visitors under 18) and we thought my sister would be here when I gave birth. It was stressful, but one of our friends was available (and awake!) and could take care of our girl. Thankfully, it didn't take long. I was in labor for three hours, then pushed for ten minutes and then my baby was in my arms at 9:14 a.m. Maximus James Ogden, weighing in at 8 lbs. 11 oz. came home at 6 p.m. Halloween day!
I've spent the last few days focusing on healing and breastfeeding. Its seems simple enough, but I've found it just as challenging as with Azalea. My midwife told me to stay in bed for a week, then stay at home for the next. I couldn't stay in bed, but I did stay in the house. Its really hard not to do the normal routine rituals, like checking emails and favorite sites, sweeping and fiddling with my supplies. It is easy to gaze at my baby, marveling at all the wonderful blessings that have come our way. Our family is so filled with love right now, we're fit to bursting with it. Azalea is an amazing big sister, always beside me, ready to help with Little Brother. I could go on and on about how in love I am, but I hear Max calling me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hello! This is the project Azalea and I were working on last week, a wedding dress for her doll, Sookie. She's begged for one for probably a year, asking nearly every time she looked at the doll. I let her choose the fabrics from my horde and was pleased she picked pieces leftover from my wedding dress (we will have been married five years on the 30th!). I used bits I had lying around, vintage glass pearls from Japan, rhinestone buttons clipped from an old purse and lace I picked up at an auction ten years ago. I think it came out pretty good, even though my sewing skills are limited and I didn't use a pattern. My mom would smile at my attempt and wonder why I didn't listen (she used to be a seamstress). She tends to be a perfectionist.

Here's a closer look, to see the little sapphire necklace Andrew made. I also repainted the doll to look like Azalea. At first, she was mortified to see I had stripped the dolls face of all paint, then gradually, she began to show signs of approval. Oddly, she is very much like my mom - difficult to please. I took my time, but honestly, I am terrible at likenesses! Greg draws them easily, without much effort, but it seems like my eyes are skewed and it takes a lot of looking before I come close. Its something I've been working on. Onto the next project! I'm on a role now, sleepy or not and am determined to be as productive as possible!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hello! Here's a pic of Azalea, Suni and I, lined up at what looked like the entrance to another land. The weather here in Asheville is so perfect right now, too lovely not to go out and enjoy it. Things are looking up (thanks to all who sent blessings my way) and I'm beginning the next stage of this tumultuous experience. I guess its surrender. I've stopped fighting the impulse to wallow and just let myself do it. I sat there, acknowledged the pain and swollen limbs and accepted that this is temporary. That so much is ephemeral and too fleeting, that these moments will serve to heighten the happiness, by its contrast. This is a known thing, a proven thing, but the truth in this is sometimes easily overlooked. It has taken a few wise folks, to gently remind me that this will pass and all will be well. So, I let go of my guilt (guilt at my lack productivity, guilt for not making more for the baby, guilt for letting Greg do so much....) and let myself be. Which led to an unexpected project... I made something for Azalea, something she's long asked for, but I never had the time to make. I let her help me, giving her small tasks and let that time, quietly crafting together in the afternoon sun, be just for us.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

sink or swim

I am firm believer in this notion, but once in awhile its hard to keep my head above water. I've felt myself floundering, felt myself slipping beween apathy and panic in a space of a breath. Its a strange feeling, this disconnectedness to my life. I've submerged myself in all the comforts that usually center me. I keep my hands busy every waking moment, listen to audio books and eat my favorite treats...but I can't help feeling oddly tethered. Just not to myself. My midwife asked if I was depressed and I didn't have a clear answer. I sleep most of the time now and try to be productive when I'm awake, but its difficult to get motivated for even the simplest chores. I looked around my studio today and couldn't believe how much I used to finish in a few hours what now takes days. I thought back to just a few months ago and how hard I was working and it seemed like that was a different person. Is that person on hiatus, just slumbering, waiting to emerge for when they are really needed? Or is this tired, husk of a girl really who I am now? Really, it doesn't matter, because I know this fog will burn off and I'll wake up and resume course.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Autumn Days

Here's my girl, looking good in her new hoodie and stripey pants. She reminded me of a munchkin or a tiny elf from Bordertown.

Some of Azalea's friends working there way through a corn maze at the Stepp Orchard, their first field trip! Greg and I both chaperoned, along with nearly all the other kids parents (I guess no one else wanted to miss out either!).

After an exciting tractor pulled ride through thousands of trees and at least twenty varieies of apples, we stopped to pick my personal favorite, golden delicious.

Greg and Azalea pose for a shot at the Scarecrow Festival held at Lake Julian. The weather has been fantastic, mild and just cool enough to bust out our boots. Usually I prefer tall varieties with lots of ornamentation (buckles, fringe, buttons, laces...) but now that I'm swollen to bursting, Ugg boots are all I want to wear. Comfort is the main objective, no heels or structure to bind me! Too bad they aren't fancier, with beading or metallic leather. I'll have to doctor mine up a bit.
Its getting closer to both release dates (book and baby). The boy should be emerging at the end of the month and we are finally starting to get ready (I know, what a bunch of slackers!). We went to Babies R Us and picked up some blankets and some nursing gowns to pack for the hospital. I was a little disappointed with the selection of baby goods, probably because I've been surfing etsy and finding a ton of cute things. I will forever wonder why diaper bags look so dang ridiculous. You'd think some designer would jump at the obvious hole in the market, but I guess I'm looking in all the wrong places. Anyway, the search for baby and mama gear continues, somewhat slowly, I must admit. Azalea has been helping me design little toys and things, (I haven't gotten to the actual making yet) and I'm happy she's so nurturing and helpful. We spend alot of time together in the studio, drawing and making patterns and plans. I'm just too tired lately to get down to the fun part! Ok, that new show Eastwick is coming on and I can never resist programs concerning the supernatural!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Enchanted Adornments

Hello! Here's a sneak peek at my advance copy of Enchanted Adornments! It's taken me about a week to fully absorb the concept that this is my book and its going out into the world in about a month. I suppose its strange since I worked on it for so long and it seems so personal, with my name on the cover and picture in the back. Generally, the idea of creating work to be sent out into the world is exciting for me, but its always under the comforting and somewhat anonymous name Green Girl Studios, which could be Greg, me or Andrew. I always feel a touch silly when I'm in the spotlight, I prefer the quiet of the background. Anyway, here are my thoughts on this project.
The new cover is great, its simple with colors I love and my favorite pieces beautifully photographed. Its also a nice matte finish, with front and back flaps that give it a nice sturdy feel.

Here's one of the technique pages, organized neatly and not visually crowded or with photos that are too small to see what's going on in them. I was very adamant about the photography being useful, I hate when project photos are tiny or have that annoying fade out so you can't see how something is put together. This book is loaded with close-ups for optimal scrutiny (gulp). The techniques chapter is also sizeable, almost fifty pages worth of info on polymer, pmc, resin and other materials.

The fun part: projects! I designed twenty projects utilizing the techniques covered in the first section. These chapters combine an ongoing story to illustrate how inspiration can come from anywhere and its transformation into art. Illustrating the journal pages was the most fun part for me, or maybe it was coming up with the stories....

This is one of my favorite pieces, although it was a tough one to get right! Its toward the back, since the projects get progressively more difficult. I also loved painting the magpie!

This piece is the crown jewel of the collection! It took me ages and loads of pmc to get this to look exactly the way I wanted it too. Sometimes, being particular can be a nuisance, especially since I like to make detailed renderings before I even open the clay. This is not to say that I'm against spontaneous work or that I'm not capable of experimentation....I just like to think it out in my sketchbook for awhile, before I commit to anything. This piece proves that what works on paper doesn't always work in three dimensions, a good reminder to me to just jump in and do! I learned a lot about myself as an artist, writer and collaborator while working on this book. It was definitely a team effort and sometimes frustrating, but I think the outcome surpasses all my expectations. I have to say, I'm pleased as pie with this book! Which is saying a lot, coming from my biggest critic (me - not my mom). Anyway, I showed the book to my friends and was happy with the positive feedback, especially delighted to hear they thought it was a good deal for the money ( a very high compliment to me). Now all I have to worry about is promoting it! I will probably be in labor when it hits the shelves Nov.1! Hopefully earlier, I am getting huge!
I am so grateful that Lorelei and Andrew have helped so much in getting the word out! Any helpful ideas to make it a success would be greatly appreaciated!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hello! Here's a pic of Azalea after she fell in the river! It's really more of a creek where she slid in, but still amusing. Lately, we've been taking little excursions to go drawing out in the world, packing our 'action packs' (which consist of sketchbooks and pens) and some food. I'm really enjoying this new activity, sitting quietly together and documenting ideas and dreams. It reminds me of art school, a time when I was carefree and optimistic...not the jaded and overworked adult I became. I find this interesting, since I have more responsibility and more aggravations that should be burning a hole in my stomach, but it doesn't seem to penetrate my shield. Perhaps its the daily wonder of watching a child learn and grow that's forcing the rest into the background.

I am somewhat absorbed with organizing my art supplies until they are more interesting than the actual art. For example, blending, conditioning and forming these nuggets of clay took hours of work, but at least my travel clay kit is very tidy and complete. For me, my traveling art packs must be well-edited, yet containing everything I might need, should the inspiration arise. One of the most annoying things is to need a certain pen, or wish I had taken my watercolors! I tend to fixate.

Look at the new girl! A Fashion Royalty Misaki doll from Japan that I repainted. I love her. She's small, about the size of a Barbie, but so poseable and cute! Some of you may be wondering when I'm going to get back to the business of being a bead maker. Well, soon! I just have to get this doll painting out of my system. Its pretty much doing the fun part of a painting, combined with being a make up artist. I like it so much I did three more!

This is a different sculpt, a bigger girl ( 16") also from Fashion Royalty. Andrew said she looked super tranny glam before her makeover!

This doll is from Paris, from a company called Fashion Doll Agency. They are strange and rubbery and really posable, which I like.

This girl was a gift from Anne Choi, a 16" Tonner Doll, with beautiful mohair replacing her vinyl tresses. She was the first in my collection and the last I painted. I wanted to be fairly confident before I started her. This is an addictive hobby! She's wearing a piece Andrew made with green garnets, tiny rough diamonds and gold wire. Its fun to use the good stuff on such small pieces, a little goes a long way.
I'm getting used to this new schedule of rising early and having hours of quiet to make things. I'm learning how to budget my time so I can do things I couldn't normally have done, like having a friend over and socializing uninterrupted. I invited Kathy Van Kleeck over to check out my lapidary equipment and I had a great time showing her my collections of specimens and stones. I rarely meet other rock enthusiasts, so it was a real treat.
One thing that's challenging to get used to is the constant changes my body is making. Every day there's some new thing to adjust to, like nose bleeds or how my hips are stretching. That business is painful, so much so that some days I can hardly walk. Its a strange limbo I'm in, waiting for this new stage of my life to begin. I almost feel like another person, one I don't recognize when I catch a glimpse of myself. I wonder what life will be like when the baby is born, will I maintain calm? Will I recover my former self? I can't wait, yet I'm content in limbo, if that makes any sense. Well, I have till late October before everything changes.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


We spent Labor Day weekend in Cincinnati, enjoying fine weather and good company. First, we went to the zoo, which proved to be surprisingly good.

I particularly enjoyed the Manatee house! There were two beautiful creatures floating gracefully in a habitat that looked just like Blue Springs! It was calming to sit and watch them swim among lillies and silvery perch.

In the nursery, we couldn't get enough of the baby cheetah! We annoyed it by cooing and making kissing sounds at it, till it came up to the glass to see if we had lost our minds. We had. I love you Baby Cheetah.

Look at my girl posing as a turtle! I really liked this sculpture and wouldn't mind having one in my garden.

The next day we ventured into the city to check out Findlay Market (Greg, Azalea and Jenny pose in the parking lot). While it looked charming and I did enjoy the crepe and honey vendors, I found it lacked something. I think I might be spoiled from going to so many mind-boggling markets across the country. Or it could be that Jungle Jim's is in the area and it pretty much dwarfs the little market, offering a staggering array of everything and being reasonable too. Yes, I'm spoiled.
We had such a good time with Greg's mom, Anne and his sister Jenny! It seemed like the whole weekend was filled good food and a lot of laughter. Our good friend Jessica came down from Columbus and I was in heaven, as she is one of my favorite people. It's days spent with people you love, enjoying simple things that make life so wonderful. We are looking forward to our next trip!
It's quiet here, Azalea is at school and Greg is in transit to Tucson, AZ for the Fall Best Bead Show. If you're in the area, stop by and say hello! I've polished off a mess of chores and its not even 1 yet! I feel particularly useful today. Now I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for the Realm of Chaos that is my studio. I will clean it today....

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

birthday girl

This girl made out like a bandit for her birthday! We made her ration her present opening, for our amusement, which sounds mean, but was actually fun. She had to wait a little between gifts, so she'd play with whatever she opened instead of ignoring the pile in favor of one thing.

We started the birthday festivities by coming to school to deliver rice crispy treats and to watch her play at recess. My girl loves dress up so much! We didn't recognize her when we first walked in, she was covered from head to foot! Sheila came for her birthday and joined in the fun, allowing the kids to dress her capes and crowns.

It was fun watching her play tag with her best friend. Those kids pretty much ran full speed for an hour.

We enjoyed watching all the drama of kindergartener antics - alliances were formed and broken, sides switched and all was forgiven in moments. It was cute. And tiring. Just watching them and I needed a snack and a nap. Which is pretty much what I do all day, broken up with bursts of productivity, like making making blackberry jam or drying fruit in our fancy new dehydrator. Greg and I are very interested in food lately (more than usual) and picked up a couple of appliances we've long wanted, like a deep fryer and dehydrator. Greg made fried fish, southern style, coated in cornmeal. Our goal is to perfect my Grandma's Fish fry, fried chicken and fries. Can you tell we like our fried food? We dried bananas and strawberries and they came out jammy and sweet, exactly how I like them to be. Our next experiment will be with watermelon, which when dried, condenses into a sweet, candy-like substance. Sounds good to me.
In pregnancy news, I have two months left and look like I have one week to go. Probably because I drink sweet tea like its my job, which makes my belly gigantic and I hobble around in an unflattering shuffle, due to my pelvis widening. Oh well. Lately, we like the name Maxfield (since I like Maxfield Parrish), since Maximus is too old Roman for Greg. I was all about Marcus, but then realized it was derived from Mars, the god of war. I'm one of those gals that believe in the power of names and don't want a war-like scorpio baby. So, we are still deciding and will probably name him after we get a good look at him. But, Max does mean 'the greatest' and that's a good thing.