Friday, July 26, 2013

Finding Art Again

It's been a while. A lot has happened.

I have been absent from Etsy, from Blogger, and from art, really, for a while. Though it has been such a home for me for many years, in the last few months various circumstances in life and down-in-the-dumps moods have kept me from wanting to pursue beauty.

Then, on July 14th, my father passed away unexpectedly.

So, how do you go back to art? How do you go home again?

I have tried writing and reading. I've tried seeking inspiration in nature, but as I watched rabbits bounce around the lawn every evening beyond the window where my father slept in hospice care, I turned away from the gentle and pervasive beauty of nature. Rabbits remind me of my broken heart, of many tears spilled, of my great loss.

How do I go back?

I want to honor him in some way. My father held a deep passion for the natural world. He was startled, mystified, inspired, humbled, and renewed by it. His long walks into the woods, his baths in cold streams, his peaceful floating upon lakes, all of the little things (acorns, sticks, rocks) he gathered and took home with him connected him to the natural world. To the cycle of all things. To life. And yes, to death.

I was comforted knowing he'd flee the binds of his body and join the spiritual world beyond the windows - a world he related to much better than the tangible and physical world. I know his soul joined with the trees, the rivers, the rabbits.

But in my sorrow, I feel left behind. I feel left out. I'm afraid to turn my heart out again to the pasture of the world and let beauty in. I'm afraid it will hurt.

My little creatures, my small wool friends, are so innocent and delightful. They come from a place within me that delights in the small, the soft, the lovely. A place that delights in the innocence of animals and the worlds I've created for them in my imagination.

In my art room, I have closed all evidence of this joyful world off. In boxes. In the closet. There are many, many unfinished wool friends. But I'm afraid to welcome them back into my life. I fear that by holding them, I will be reminded again of the great loss of innocence that happened as I lost my father.

So I am struggling. I am working towards finding joy. Finding beauty. Finding art.

I'm hoping that when I again turn something lovely in my hands, be it a river-worn stone or an animal of my own creation, that I can invoke the greatest gift my father gave to me: a true appreciation for the beauty of the world. Even if it hurts sometimes.

I hope to get back to it. I'm very sad, but I want to do something with my hands that's familiar. I want to create again. I want to go home.

So that's life for me for past little while. I have received many sweet notes from customers and people who follow my blog and Etsy shop. I'm touched and delighted by your kindness.

Blessings to all...


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

New Home & Old Friends


Hello Old Friends! Back in July my husband and I bought our first home in St. Albans, Vermont. It's a beautiful home with a nice backyard, quiet neighbors, and a lot of potential for extensive gardens. I have a dedicated and lovely art room that I have been slowly unpacking and decorating. Nesting has been a wonderful experience, but it has kept me from my art and Etsy and this blog for quite some time. 

I hope in the coming weeks to do more posting and begin creating again in earnest. In the meantime, enjoy some pictures from Killkare State Park. My husband and I went on an adventure this weekend - on a particularly lovely day. There were so many beautiful textures: shale, moss, acorns, lichens, shells. I switched my camera into Macro mode, and laid down in the grass to see the world from a mouse's perspective. 

















And here's a picture of our new home:


I'll be back soon with new art updates and the relaunch of my Etsy shop!

Friday, March 23, 2012

New Woolnimals in My Etsy Shop!

Freshly added friends in my Etsy shop! Mini pig, mini otter, a brown bear and more to come! I'll be posting a proper blog post in the very near future, including some pics from a recent visit to a farm, some updates on Wedding OWLS, and more. Stay tuned!





Sunday, January 15, 2012

Shop Update and Works in Progress!

I've just updated my Etsy shop!  I included a squirrel and two new designs - a frog and a little brown dog. They're so cute!



I also wanted to show off a few little works in progress. I'm working on creating a snowy owl by customer request. She and her fiancee are having a Harry Potter themed wedding and loved my cake toppers, but asked if I could do snowy owls. I'd never tried, but I have some beautiful wools that are layers of white and black which I've never used - and it turns out that it works perfectly for snowy owls. Here's a preview shot:



I'm also working on another set of penguins - a father and chick. This will be my third set:


And lastly, a brand new design! I've never made a bengal tiger before, so I dug down into my wool and found a beautiful orange merino called "Cinnabar." It works perfectly for the tiger fur. I'm super excited about this design and can't wait to show off the finished product:



That's all for updates! It's a bitterly cold day here in Vermont and the perfect weather to enjoy a cup of tea and work on my beautiful little projects.

Be Joyful!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

All Wrapped Up

I love getting packages and letters in the mail. I know I'm not alone in this, and I think Etsy sellers in particular know how important packaging is to the overall essence of their product and shop. In business terms, packaging is added value. A beautifully wrapped item is a joy to behold and unwrap. The seller who goes the distance with packaging is showing how much value she places on the contents within.

Since I began selling my wool animals about two years ago, I have gone through many permutations of packaging. Since they're light and small, I have a wide range of options available to me. It was important that the packaging be safe, beautiful, whimsical, and that it reflects the product and the overall image of my shop. I have slowly transitioned from boxes, to tissue paper tied with ribbon and stickers, to brown kraft bags tied with jute string.  For the last year or so, I've been content with the kraft bags and string and little crochet flowers as adornment. It was easy, pretty, and it worked!

I've been thinking lately, however, that I put a lot of effort into wrapping up my art - so why not make the gift wrap itself a little more permanent and special? I've also been wanting to experiment with carving my own stamps. One day it hit me! Muslin bags with stamped designs, an official "logo," all made by hand!

So, I got crafting...

First, I bought some blank 4 x 6 muslin bags from another Etsy seller (www.muslinbags.etsy.com):


Then, I bought a block of carving material called Mastercarve by Staedtler:
This really is essentially like carving butter. It's so smooth and creamy and cuts like a dream.  I used speedball tips and carved my first-ever stamp, a bunny: 


It wasn't easy!!! I started small and detailed, which is kind of silly for my first stamp. Here's how it looks printed:


Not bad, but I had some work to do. I was just messing around with my next few stamps, and carving words was REALLY HARD!!! Did you know you have to carve words in the mirror image? I learned that the hard way. Duh! But I'm very happy with the stamps. I carved a feather, the phrase "Be Joyful," and my official Woolnimals logo:




I started to really get the hang of it. I bought a bunch of really pretty stamp pads and got to work:








The finished bags make me absolutely giddy. I can't wait to ship out my Woolnimals in them and hear the reaction from my customers. The bags can be reused as storage or for snacks or your collection of shells from the beach. There's nothing to throw away, it's all made by hand, and it's beautiful.

As I make more stamps and get better at carving, I may try to actually carve the animals that will go in the bags, but for now I thought I'd keep it simple and keep myself sane.

Lastly, my favorite part is washing the stamps at the end of the project. They retain some of the color and it all layers together and looks lovely:


I'm so happy that I finally have packaging as thoughtful as the product. I really wanted to follow the handmade theme all the way from beginning to end. Now, I'm working on handmade thank you tags. As soon as I figure out cardboard boxes, I'll be a one-woman show!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cookiepuss and Impending Shop Updates

The art studio has been in utter chaos for months...so imagine my relief when just yesterday I finally organized all of it. Wool, paints, canvas, sketch books, Sculpey, clay, art paper, oil pastels. The whole lot of it in one gorgeous array of possibility now lines my floor-to-ceiling studio shelves. Do you know what this means? Oh, inspiration!

Cookiepuss the cat watched on...only slightly disturbed from his sleep...


In the coming week or so I'll be unveiling a whole bunch of interesting and arteresting (tee hee) projects and Woolnimals. I'll be blogging more here again too.

Happy New Year! May this be the best yet!