Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Germ of a New Idea

June 6 1990.  There she sat in the middle of her mother's studio.  She was sitting in the over sized easy chair with her legs tucked up to her chest and a Mexican sarape around her shoulders.  Tears ran uncontrollably down her face.  She was 35 years old.

As she looked around this small haven her mom had built she could see her sitting at her easel, painting.  There on the stool lay a light blue painter's smock that anyone could tell had been frequently used.  A myriad of paints were strewn about the table near the easel.  The palette still had wet paint on its surface, waiting...There were still some brushes soaking in a turpentine solution; on hold until the artist released them from their paint.  On the easel was an unfinished painting of a woman baking bread.  The painting reminiscent of a known masterpiece. As she stared at it she could see the loving details that had already been finished.  On the farmer's table on the canvas was a vase with lavender that she swore she could smell.

Her name was Rita.  She was 59 years old.

Rita had wonderful luck with plants.  She could take a pitiful little thing on the verge of compost and bring it back to life.  She filled her house with "folaje" as she used to say.  Rita was Cuban and learned English as a young adult; so she always sounded like a female Ricky Ricardo.

The studio, a room with larger than normal sliding glass doors that led to a huge wrap around cedar deck filled with light from the early morning.  The plants she resuscitated started their new life here.  They were cleaned and repotted.  As she lovingly tended to them she sang and spoke to them.  Her voice melodic and sweet. Whether it was the carefully concocted potting soil, or the meticulous attention to her babies, or her singing, the daughter didn't know, but something worked. She had massive plants in her studio.  Her daughter's eye lingered on a huge palm.  She could remember the day her mom brought it home.  She smiled through the tears as that day came flooding back.

Rita was a shopper, no doubt about that.  She had every credit card that anyone with a social standing should have.  Luckily for her that her third and fourth husband could afford to give her that lifestyle.

They had gone out shopping, mother and daughter.  One of the stops was the local florists on West 57th Street in New York City. Rita loved flowers and always had some on the massive dining room table.  She spoke to the sales girl and as she waited for them to wrap her flowers she found this wretched palm.  It's leaves were turning yellow and some of the outer ones were already past reviving.  She tried to talk her mom out of buying such a hopeless cause, but Rita was determined.  As soon as they arrived to the apartment she poured herself a Dewar's on the rocks, lit a cigarette and began rendering first aid to her newest acquisition.

She remembered her mother smoking her cigarette.  She smoked L&M 100's and would light one and move it from one corner of her mouth to the other.  It was always amazing to watch the ash grow and not fall off until the smoke was extinguished.

That palm was over six feet tall now.  Who would care for them now? Who would sing to them now?

Just the germ of an idea.  Chapter One, maybe...A beginning perhaps to something more grand.  Who knows?  Just felt like I had to start this.  I have been thinking about this for a very long time but never knew quite how to start it.  Tonight it just came to me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Little Grey Cells...

Steampunk Rose, Work in Progress

I am sure that many of you look to Pinterest for inspiration...or just for fun.  I can fritter away many, many, many hours on Pinterest! I start out just to look for something specific and end up looking at board after board.  I am guilty of doing that at any fabric or craft store.  Surely, there are many of you that are guilty of this little pleasure.  I'll give you an example, the other day, I went into a certain craft store for glue sticks and three hours later....but I digress.

So, I am looking at Pinterest and all of a sudden the ideas started to flow!  Huzzah!  I am sure someone out there remembers the TV show Poirot...the little grey cells are functioning again and I am full of ideas.  Now, let's see if I can accomplish what I've set out to do. 

The Steampunk Rose at the top of this page is the beginning of a fascinator or maybe a top hat.  I'm leaning more towards the hair fascinator.  I've got some black veiling that would look really great with it and then I intend to add some beads, gears, etc.; you know, glam it up.  So keep watching.

Now, to my hand knitted wire cuff bracelet, Meanderings. As I placed the beads on the wire I wanted my design to appear to wander.  It almost looks like a stream that is flowing from one side to the other.


And, now, I have become fascinated by these little beaded spiders. Pinterest has kept my attention for, I won't really divulge how many hours, due to these arachnids. And, the legend that goes with them is so adorable that I just had to try my hand at them.  So far, I have done four.  Gilded Fantasy is my latest creation. She is almost what I consider to be Steampunk with a slight Asian flair.  I almost think that if she sells I will put her in a Chinese take out box along with the legend of the Christmas Spider!

Gilded Fantasy

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Trying Something New

Lady in Pink

I recently came across the Legend of the Christmas Spider.  What a wonderful story!  I looked up the story on the internet and found a myriad of spiders.  So many that, I, too found a bit of inspiration and decided to try my hand at making a few.

The one at the top of the page is my Lady in Pink.  She is so delicate and feminine.  I could see her gracing a Steampunk wedding reception table.  Could you just not see her sitting atop a delicate lace tablecloth?  Or maybe next to the guest book as she greets the friends of the happy couple?  Or perhaps this little lady will gently stand in a bouquet of feathers and flowers?

Ming Dynasty Lady
My next creation is Ming Dynasty Lady. When I was going through my stash of beads I found this beautiful large blue and white bead.  It's not really from the Ming Dynasty, by the way! But, I also found the blue fabric "bead"...could I mix the two, I wondered? Won't know until you try it.  So, I used a head pin that I thought would suit it as well some Lapis Lazuli.  She looks so elegant, doesn't she?  I see her on a mantle sitting besides an Alabaster vase, perhaps?

My third creation is Coppersmith.  I used some Mookite as part of the leg assembly.  When I was done with this spider, it reminded me of copper.  I could see her sitting on top of a shelf as she watches the journeyman hammering at his latest creation.

These little ladies were so much fun to make, I think I will make more and maybe some spider earrings.  After all, Halloween is coming up very soon.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


Blushing Bride

So, here it is, after midnight on August 16th...I'm cross-eyed from looking at Pinterest.  I'm usually not at all daunted by miles of fabric just lying around or a myriad of beads in every imaginable color and shape.  But, here I sit and I've got to say...I've got nothin'!

I am not, by any means a neat crafter, it what you will.  I am quite messy.  By the time I finish one of my projects, my little area looks like a tornado whirled through.  I thought, "Well, maybe, if I clean my little area, I will be inspired.  Or, if nothing else, I'll be able to see the six foot table that was playing hide and seek with all the beads, threads, ribbons, handmade flowers, etc."

So, I spent the better part of a day doing just that.  I sorted.  I organized.  "Wow, there's my cutting mat."  The more I cleaned, the more I found.  "There's that ruler!" Amazing what you can find when you de-clutter your work station.  My grand children were laughing at me while I was discovering all of my "new found" items.  But, any of you out there that are not neat when you work will understand the sheer excitement of the disclosures.

It does sort of amaze me how one minute you can be smokin' hot and be so productive that you impress yourself and the next minute you are dry as a bone.  Where does that spark go?  Does it mean that you have reached the proverbial end of the line?  What do others do when they hit this brick wall?

I did get a bit of inspiration as I was straightening out my work I will start there.  It's just a nucleus of an idea...but I'll take it.  I'll run with it and see where it leads.  I certainly have the supplies...or at least, most of them.  For, as you all know, you can never have enough beads or fabrics or paints!

"Never give up on what you really want to do.  The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts."  Albert Einstein

Treasures Amidst the Sea Glass

Monday, August 3, 2015

Summer, Time and New Projects

Summer Romance

I cannot believe that it is already August. Where the heck does the time go?  Although I am still waiting for Summer to get to New Lebanon, NY.  You know the "Dog Days of Summer".  Today, August 3rd is my grandson's birthday.  He is all of eight and more tech savvy than his tender years would show.  He is a little man full of contradictions.  He cries some days if you look at him cross eyed.  And some days, he looks at you with a serious look as he gestures with his hands and says, "Technically Grandma it's..."  It is fun watching these little transformations take place.  Keeps me on my toes and life is certainly interesting with two little ones around.

The Craft Show is still progressing, albeit slower than it was last month.  I've made more phone calls and found out prices from everything to extra tables for vendors to rent to port-a-potties.  So many details!  I started writing things down on a little tablet and soon progressed to a 3-ring binder. I had to get organized to keep everything together.  When I did secretarial work I had my own filing system; however, in a small apartment with small children around, my old system did not work.  I must admit that this system works much better.  Maybe there's something to being organized. Although, I've always been a firm believer, in the saying, "...a clean desk is a sign of a sick mind!"  

Ice, Ice, Baby!

I've decided that my shop on Etsy needed some fresh items. You see, my goal, is to have an eclectic boutique. I am sort of odd that way.  I do not just want to make jewelry pouches, or hand knitted wire bracelets, I want to make all sorts of other things.  So, now I am working on fabric flower bouquets.  I love Steampunk.  I am enamored by this fashion statement.  So, I have been making all sorts of different fabric flowers.  (Plus, it's a great way to use all those fabric scraps that I knew would come in handy one day)  I have done loads of research on the internet on the various ways of making fabric flowers.  I've made some from satin, some from ribbons, some from burlap, some from lace.  I have tea dyed some to make them look weathered...still debating whether I like the look or not.  I have experimented with gauges of wire to see which hold up the best.  I have beaded and made my own brooches, since the ones online seem to cost a fortune.  My bouquet is almost ready to be put together!  I've watched a dozen videos on how to make a fabric bouquet and believe me, it's not as easy as they make it seem online.  Dexterity is not a problem I have, but sometimes I feel as if I'm all thumbs. But, determined, I am.  I'll get the hang of it.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

How to Host a Craft Show (When You don't Know what You are Doing!) 
Part 2

What was I thinking!  Hosting a craft show, something I have NEVER done before, and setting a three month deadline.  Did my Mother drop me on my head or something?  I work very well under pressure, but really...Ridiculous! 

I started making phone calls and feeling the area out for local artisans, crafters, etc.  The more I called and researched, the more I found.  A veritable plethora. And the more I researched, the more I wanted this to be more than just your average local craft show.  

Most of us work during the week and do all of our fun stuff on the weekend.  A lot of us have kids, and/or grand-kids and we kiddingly convince ourselves that a craft show at the local park or the local church is a really good thing to kill an afternoon.  HA! All the mother's out there will understand that taking children and/or teenagers to a craft show is like taking them to the grocery store.  You get to the show and with wild enthusiasm you try and get them excited about all the fun things that they will get to see. 

You disembark your vehicle and immediately little children have to go to the bathroom.  And, of course it's an immediate thing.  No waiting here, folks.  A mad dash is made to find the facilities.  Teenagers are unenthusiastic and lucky you if they have a cell phone.  At least the tones of disapproval are kept to a minimum.  In your desperation, you try and find something to turn this day around.  Where are the kids activities?  Is there anything for kids?  

THERE...out of the corner of your eye you spy something that might save you.  Someone is face painting...OK, that takes care of the little ones. Finally in an effort to, at least, enjoy wandering through the craft show yourself, you give your teen a twenty and tell them to go and wander by themselves.  But, about this time, the little ones are, of course, HUNGRY!  "MOM!  WE'RE HUNGRY!"  But I just fed you right before we got here, you think to yourself.  "Do they have hot dogs? Can we get ice cream? OH! Look, pizza.  Can we get something to drink?"  And the list goes on.  Your cool demeanor is waning fast.

I kept thinking about this all too familiar scenario when I took my daughter and now my grand children to craft shows. can I make the craft show that I host different?  How can I make it so kids can have fun.  Teens might take more thought.  And then it came to me.  I have to have an entire area for kids of all ages. 

In searching on Pinterest and the web I saw outdoor games.  So, my craft show will have outdoor twister, Jenga, Yahtzee, dominoes, face painting, temporary tattoos, and everything else that my years of parenting can conceive. I've contacted some clowns and that might even be a possibility.  Of course, nothing makes kids more excited than little animals. So, I've contacted the local humane societies and, as soon as the date is really set (which now looks more like May of next year), they will be more than happy to bring their puppies, kittens, little rabbits, etc. I am still working on this concept, so I am sure, being the overachiever that I am, there will be much more. 

Yes, the date will be sometime in early May of 2016. More realistic, don't you think.  I have a little less than a year to plan something which is, as I am finding out, more complicated than first thought. I've gone to the Town Hall and gotten the correct paperwork to host the craft show at our local park. Found out about insurance, porta potties, table rentals...still have a lot more.

I want across the street banners and am currently trying to find the best prices. I've set a budget (that was the far) I am now working on a flyer. The name of my craft show is "LET'S CELEBRATE! NEW LEBANON, 2016"....but that might change.

The more I think about this the more I want the show to be more of a community event.  New Lebanon, NY is a little hamlet that was once a little tourist town.  Lebanon Springs was one of the places that tourists came for the natural healing waters, much like Sharon Springs, NY. But, just like every small town across America, it has been hit by recession and a myriad of other factors. And, if you have never heard of Sharon Springs, NY...SHAME on you!  The Beekman Boys have single-handedly put that town back on the map.  

Why could we not do that?  Why could we not show the state that, even though more businesses are leaving than coming, this is still a vibrant, dynamic and thriving little town. We have all sorts of artists from quilters to potters to breeders of cattle to farmers to wineries to musicians and thespians. 

This is what I want to show.  This is the kind of craft show that I want to have.  Not just your average arts and crafts' show. I want the kids to have something to do and have fun doing it. I want the adults to have a wonderful time, because their kids are happy. I want this event to be for all ages. And, I don't want people to quickly walk through the show and leave with maybe buying one or two items. I want the show to go into the evening. The local theater groups have been contacted and, maybe they will perform.  

Let's Celebrate! New Lebanon, 2016 will truly be a community event!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How to Host a Craft Show (When You don't Know what You are Doing!)

Now one day I am standing outside overlooking a field behind my back yard and all of a sudden all I could see were white, blue, grey tent tops.  It came to me, sort of like that moment on those V-8 commercials; "Why can't I host a craft show?"

I have been a vendor at Craft Shows for well over a decade, heck, maybe even two.  I've worked feverishly into the wee hours of the night before the event and packed the car with everything I need and even things I probably will never use.  I convince myself that, "Sure, two hours of sleep is plenty!"  The alarm goes off and I stumble bleary eyed to the kitchen to start the coffee and fill the giant Thermos that will sustain me the rest of the day.

Arriving at the appointed venue; and always thinking that 6:30 AM is late and I have to set up quickly, I am almost in a self-induced frenzy when I finally find that one person with the ever important clipboard.  My packet is handed to me and I rip the large manila envelope and find the map.  Not that it does me any good, since more than likely, I have never been here before.  Out of the corner of my eye I spot an official looking person.  "Eureka!"  These lovely people direct traffic, help set up tents, etc.  Finally, I know where I am going.  I am already in a panic as 7:00 AM draws near. So, much like a bloodhound who has found a scent, I put my head down and start searching for my number, my spot.  "Aha!"

(Insert sarcastic tone here) Now the real fun begins.  I get to go and start the arduous task of bringing it all from the car.  Now, the really smart vendors have these great dollies that carry all -- I'm not that smart.  After about forty-five minutes of silently cursing, pinching my fingers on my tent, sweating profusely, arranging and rearranging tables, table tops and products -- I am finally done.  At this point, I realize I still have about an hour before the event even starts.  It is about now that I am reprimanding myself and swearing that next time I will get more sleep the night before and I will be more calm.  I sit on my stool and pour myself a cup of coffee.

I live in a little hamlet of New Lebanon, NY.  This town is just like every other small town in America.  Recession hit it hard.  More businesses left than came.  Once upon a time Lebanon Springs, basically down the road from New Lebanon, was a bustling resort due to its hot springs.  Gone are the little Motels, B&B's, and shops that tourists use to occupy whilst they ventured into those healing waters.

While I was telling a friend of mine about my idea, she said, "Why not rent Shatford Park?"  This is our local park, playground, tennis courts, softball field, Summer day camp, and all around town park. Michelle told me that she rents it all the time when her family has a reunion.

So off to Town Hall I went.  Never did I realize how easy that would be.  I tentatively have a date for September 25th and 26th, 2015.  On the ride home I felt as if I could accomplish anything.  I had a zillion questions running through my mind.  Walking up the steps to my apartment it started to dawn on me.  I have NEVER done this before.  I am a great salesperson and at that instant I realized I had sold myself the idea!  A very cold chill ran down my spine.  It was a feeling I'd felt before.  It was sheer terror.  How am I going to put this all together?  Where do I start?  There are flyers to put together.  There are artist, crafters to notify.  Can I get food vendors?  What other permits, etc. do I need?  Do I have enough time to do this? The questions were endless...the answers limited.

Some hours and aspirins later I decided that even hosts that have planned hundreds of of these events had to start somewhere.  So I thought the next day I would start to make some phone calls and pitch my Craft Show to some of our local talent to see what kind of reception I would receive.  I would make a contact list, note their response, etc. and see where it all will lead.