Thursday, August 24, 2006

New Place to Sell Handcrafted Goods

eBay has become entirely too expensive for home crafters to sell their products, but fortunately there is another place now specifically for handcrafted goods with excellent rates. Please take a moment to check out my new store at

My most recent Native American style necklaces, some altered art shadow boxes, and my infant fruit caps are currently listed. I hope to get more items listed soon!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sam's First Day of School - Kindergarten

Today is Sam's first day in kindergarten at Enchanted Hills Elementary School. I am amazed at how quickly 5 years can pass!

Sam is smartly dressed in khaki Van Heusen slacks (size 5 reg) and a red Lee School button up (size 6).

His school has a strict dress code. He is only allowed solid color clothing - no stripes or patterns. Shirts can be blue, green, white, khaki, gray, red or turquoise. Any insignias must be smaller than a 1/2 dollar. Pants can ony be blue, green, white, khaki or gray. Jeans are allowed.

Sam's teachers are Ms. Magee and Mrs. Hunt. There is also a classroom helper, Mrs. Galindo. He is one of 17 students in his class.

Sam will be taking classes in language arts, written language, math, science, and social studies. He will also recieve lessons from the student counselor, librarian, coach, music teacher and art teacher.

Chris and I walked Sam to school this morning after we took pictures. School pictures are horrible... I remember lining up with my siblings to take first day pictures and hating it... now I'm a parent and I understand:

Be serious
Stand up
Stop making faces
Why can't you just stand there normal
Look at me
Put your hands down
Just relax
No, not straight like that
Just stand there

Still, we managed to get a couple of pictures that aren't completely embarrassing.

Sam was excited, to say the least. I think both Chris and I were more nervous than he was. We both managed to forget to bring Sam's lunch money to school.

At first Sam wasn't so sure about kindergarten. When the teacher asked whether he was being picked up or taking a bus, he announced he would be taking a bus. We quickly corrected that and made sure the teacher knew he most likely will never take the bus. Chris's house is behind the school and I live in another district (less than 7 miles away!) Then Sam's other teacher asked him if he brought lunch from home or was he eating school lunch. He announced he brought lunch from home. Again, we corrected this and made sure the teacher knew he most likely would always have school lunch.

So... as a mother, I'm now sure someday Sam will be starving as he rides across town on some bus to a friend's house I don't know.

Friday, August 4, 2006

My Home

Here are a few pictures of the house I live in. It's rented and its WONDERFUL. We really love it here.

The picture on the left is our front door. Many of you may be familiar with my duck. I don't move without him. He's my guardian of sorts. The loveseat was a "front yard find" - about 4 houses down they had it out on the front yard with a free sign. It is sturdy like its new. The only thing wrong with it was some old cushions. I recovered the cushions and voila a shady little spot for John and I to enjoy coffee on the weekends.

The picture on the right is the other side of our entryway. The entryway is really a walled-in garden and patio. My swing is here between the wall and garden. We've had many cups of coffee here as well, but in the morning it gets more sun that you can stand even with the canopy. I like to read here in the late afternoon.

Next is the living room. This shot is looking from the glass doors to the back yard toward the front entryway, almost as though you walked straight in and turned back to the door.

The walls are this wonderful oversized brickwork - we think its this compacted sand brick they make out here.

We have a woodstove which is perfect in the winter - just enough heat to keep the living room and kitchen warmed (sweaty hot if you're not careful!) The floors throughout the house, with the exception of the bedrooms, are all brick. Cleanup is a breeze.

Our kitchen has a pantry closet - you can just barely see it to the right of the cabinets. I like having the stove in the middle of the island, and love having a built-in wine rack. I even have space to have my most used stoneware out on the counter in a rack! It's a great kitchen to entertain from with the dining and living area being so open.

Just off the kitchen is our patio - this is kind of a lousy shot of it, but you can see 1/2 the view we enjoy. The patio itself wraps around the front of the living room. We have the Adirondack chairs, a hammock, grill and cast iron fireplace out here. Both the living room and master bedroom have huge windows looking out over the Sandia mountains. The backyard is about a 1/4 acre and completely fenced in so the dogs have full run.

This is Chica. If you asked her, she is John's dog. In fact, I'm pretty sure her world revolves around him. She's a terrier/mutt mix. Not the smartest dog in the world, but she is loving and sweet. This is a very recent photo of her - normally we shave her down pretty tight, right here she's getting a little scruffy. She's cute either way, but when her hair is long and Morgan (Chris's Great Dane) comes to visit, she gets really dirty - crusty even. I swear I've seen Morgan put her in her mouth, swish her around and spit her out in a glob of slime. Still, she comes out grinning, happy to have a "puppy" friend to play with. Chica is over a year old now, born in April of 2005.

Morgan was born in September of 2006, if I remember right, so she's just coming up on a year. She hasn't a clue how big she is. Morgan is a Blue Merle Great Dane. This picture doesn't show off her coloring very well (that and she's covered in dirt!) She has black spots with an otherwise blue/red purpley coat. It's hard to explain, but indeed beautiful. Morgan has not been docked or had her ears clipped.

Stinky just turned 6! He's still the biggest, stinkiest puppy. In the photo he's carrying his favorite toy - floppy dog. It's basically a plush dog that has no filling - on purpose. He loves that thing. Cuddles with it at night, and does the show off wiggle with it to get attention during the day.

And finally, this is John. Normally he's extremely camera shy. Okay, actually he hates having his photo taken. He'll kill me when he finds out I posted this, but getting a picture of him without a helmet is rare, and a smile even more so. I took this picture during one of our rides. We were north of an area called Tent Rocks. About a half hour after this was taken, we found ourselves on a rutted, washed out dirt "road" in the pouring rain. I love these trips with John. If you think this photo of him is funny, you ought to see me, sitting on back, soaked, muddy, and grinning like I won the lottery.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

"Stella" in Progress

Stella... she came to me one night late. I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep. It was hot, and although I was tired, sometimes sleep just doesn't come. I tried focusing on different things hoping my mind would stop working and start wandering me off to sleep, and then she appeared.

I'm sure at one time or another you've seen the t-shirts with either the incredibly eat-a-sandwich thin tanned bikini body or the larger-than-life muscle bound body builder on them. I remember seeing them often at the beaches in Maine, being used as cover-ups for the otherwise normal to plus-normal sized people with a sense of humor.

And so came Stella. In my vision she is wearing the bikini t-shirt over her otherwise horribly un-tanned and slightly overweight body. (I find the t-shirt image over exaggerates her size to almost obese.) Further, like any smart fair skinned beach goer, she wears a large brimmed hat decorated in the blooms of summer, and a pair of flip-flops.

I thought hard about her, memorizing the details so I could sketch her out after a good nights sleep, but she wouldn't let me. I crawled out of bed, crept through the house. I cut her primary shape out of a regular piece of copy paper, then sketched Stella out in all her glory. I felt great about it, and knew she would be a fun doll to make. Satisfied, I went back to bed.

Funny how cutting out her form and drawing on the details suddenly gave her a voice. I wasn't in bed much more than 20 minutes before I was back up. Stella demanded accessories. Ideas flew through my head. What did she need to go to the beach? A beach bag, towel, binoculars, radio, cell phone, folding beach chair, and umbrella all flew down on paper in wild beach colors. I jotted notes on construction (how does one make an umbrella out of beds in scale with a doll?) for each piece and what beads would work best. My enthusiasm grew. Now I could see her lugging all her beach bound affects. I went back to bed with beach accessories floating through my dreams.

In the morning I went straight to work. I cut out muslin in the shape of the pattern and stitched her together. But the basic pillow shape of Stella just didn't have enough personality or shape to her, so I set out to needle sculpt the little doll. I gave her a belly button, breasts, knees, ankles, and a butt. Each stitch seemed to excavate the true Stella within.

Next I used a pencil to lightly sketch the t-shirt onto the doll body - front and back. This gives me a guide for beading in the clothing. I also put great thought into the direction the stitches needed to go to give her flesh the most realistic look.

I wanted to dig into beading her immediately, but just didn't seem to have the right color bead for her flesh. I was torn between two ideas - either she was going to have an obvious sun burn, or she was going to be very pale (like I usually am!) Pale won out and I found the perfect color at my favorite seed bead store - The Beaded Iris.

Once back at home, I dug in ferociously. I started with her legs. The needle sculpting worked like a dream as a base for the beads, emphasizing the fleshy folds of the back of her knees and thighs.

I jumped to the bikini whenever I tired of the legs, making sure to use the most desirable brown-bronze color for the bikini-girl's body. The fushia pink with lime green pokka-dot bikini seemed the perfect style.

When my time is limited in the evenings, or whenever I don't feel like I'm making progress, I work on the accessories. First was the beach bag - lime green with bright blue stripes, two handles, and a flower clasp. It's a fully working miniature, which at some point I imagine will contain her cell phone.

I found myself modeling her beach towel after a towel I remember having when I was younger - striped colors of the sunset - red, orange, rosy peach and fushia.

I like the idea of using wild colors for each of the accessories, making sure nothing quite matches, much like the pile of junk I used to drag to the beach. It just wouldn't be real if she had matching accessories - it would be too "Barbie", and Stella is soooo not Barbie.

Realizing the 3-dimensioning of the doll vs. my sketch, I realized her own bathing suit will show below the t-shirt. I'm still toying with the style of that. I'm quite sure it will be navy and may even have a ruffle of sorts.

Of course, by now I had repeatedly scrounged through my beads trying to find just the right face for Stella. Nothing. I contacted a favorite polymer clay face beader I had bought from many times before - Linda Clink. I had discovered her on eBay a couple of years back and I truly love her work. Together, via email, she and I found the perfect design for Stella's face. (If you are interested in making dolls or using faces for scrapbooking, I highly recommend looking for "Linsart" at eBay!) She made the face bead for me. It arrived today. I couldn't be happier!

And that is Stella's progress to date. I'm off to bead, but I'll be posting more progress shots as I go.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Jewelry and Sculptural Bead Design

Here's a little bit about the artwork I do.

I bead. I love to bead. But when I say bead, I'm not talking about stringing a bunch of beads on one cord, adding a clasp and calling it a necklace. I'm talking about weaving intricate designs using numerous techniques such as Peyote, Brick, Square, Ladder and Fringe stitches. I also do freeform stitching, loomwork, and object embellishment through beaded embroidery.

I'm currently scheduled to teach two different classes on Art Doll Beaded Embroidery in Albuquerque. I'm very excited about this opportunity. I love sharing my work and helping others to discover their own creativity.

I currently have several Art Dolls in progress including:
  • "Stella - Beach Intentions" - my newest design - this one literally had me out of bed in the middle of the night madly sketching. Stella is the first of my works to have accessories, including a beach towel, beach bag, and several others I'm still developing.
  • An un-named dragon that may take me the rest of my life to complete.
  • "Rain" - my oldest work in progress, but also the closest one to done.

I have many dolls that have been completed and found homes:
  • Pat
  • Dina
  • Mother Earth

The doll pictured to the left is Mother Earth.

Mother Earth is covered in beaded depictions of nature, including 3 dimensional waves crashing on a pebbled beach, vines and flowers that grow towards her sunlit face, vast blue skies and a population of creatures including a lizard, ladybug, dragonflies, butterfly, bee and beehive, fish, crab, starfish, bird, detailed hand beaded birds nest with eggs, and a spider hanging from Mother Earth's glassy spiderweb shawl. All surfaces are covered 100% in beads. Core is muslin with polyester fill.

Mother Earth has enjoyed long periods of display at Morning Calm Art Gallery and The Red Door Books & More - both in Corrales, NM, and was one of the 169 entries in Beadwork Magazine's "The Beaded Figure" juried exhibit - entry photo can be seen online at:

Here are some photos of my recent jewelry work:

Northeast American Indian Abenaki Bear Paw Necklace / Choker
Bear Paw is best known in Native American culture as Good Omen
This is a One of a Kind Piece - There is no pattern in existence.
Native American Thunderbird Necklace / Choker
In the legends of native North Americans, the thunderbird is a powerful spirit in the form of a bird. Lightning flashes from its beak, and the beating of its wings is creates the thunder. The thunderbird petroglyph symbol has been found across Canada and the United States and within nearly all Native North American people’s legends and stories.
This is a One of a Kind Piece - There is no pattern in existence.

Starting Out

I've been promising for months now that I would send photos to everyone. I want everyone to see how much Sam has grown, the places I've been, the things we do, and the incredible land I live in. I've determined that this is truly the best way to do that. And so I'm setting out to do just that.

I currently live in Rio Rancho, just North of Albuquerque, NM. Unlike Maine, where I was born and raised, there is very little water here, and likewise, very little humidity. I don't get to go swimming unless I'm staying at a hotel or we go on a day trip to one of the few lakes in the state or, better yet, to the hot springs.
People often ask if I miss the ocean. It's a funny thing... I don't really. Sure, I miss ocean breezes and sea glass. I miss taking a picture of my feet on the waters edge to mark the beginning of summer each year. But I don't miss the ocean per se. I often joke that being in the desert is just like being back at Old Orchard Beach... you're hot, you can smell sunblock, you can hear expensive radios booming out of junk cars, people are walking around scantily dressed, you can see the sand, but you never get close enough to see the water.

My impression of "desert" has changed drastically since moving out here. I always pictured monotone sand dunes for eons with the occasional run down little town or sticky hot city.
My first visit here was in June, 2004. Summer in the desert was not at all what I expected. First off, the heat was tolerable, mainly due to the lack of humidity. Secondly, there was soooo much color - millions of colors in the layers of rock that make up the mesa and canyons, tiny blooms on cactus everywhere, hot-air balloons taking to the sky almost every morning, and art... explosions of expression everywhere in jewelry, clothing, paintings, pottery, architecture, rock gardens, gates, fences, rock sculpture, music, food and on and on and on! Since moving out permanently, I've only discovered more.