Sunday, December 28, 2008

As the year winds down...

I always like to reflect back on the past twelve months and remember the high and low points. I also begin to think about my New Year's Resolution. This year the phrase "be grateful" was a big change we made in our household. Sure, the dogs are spoiled brats and they didn't really get it, but I'm always telling them to be grateful that they have such a good life. But seriously, my husband and I were alone for Christmas and it was okay. We were both a little down for a bit, but then we looked at our festive trees, looked at one another and told each other we were grateful for all we had.

My husband really spoiled me this Christmas. He bought several pieces of jewelry from JILLreDESIGNS. He gave me presents throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas and kept sending Jill messages so she wouldn't spoil any of my surprises. I can't thank her enough for helping make my Christmas so special. What a wonderful friend!

I did enough holiday baking for the homeless shelter so they had dessert for after dinner AND enough cookies and brownies for the sack lunches they hand out in the morning. We're planning on doing another round of baking this week for the shelter. And yes, since people are asking, the children at the shelter got their gingerbread men. I made two triple batches this year and quite a mess with the royal icing. LOL

This year I've been blessed with new friendships, many art opportunities and a better sense of self and direction. I send my best wishes out to everyone for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2009. ~Valerie~

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My new pendant made the front page!

Last week I finally got around to listing some of my mosaic pendants and I just found out one of them was on Etsy's front page in this lovely treasury this morning.

A glimpse of Christmas at my house

Since I'm still recovering from my accident, I'm trying to keep typing to a minimum. I thought I'd share some pictures of Christmas at my house. These pictures were taken last year. We have to put a pen around our trees to keep the dogs away from them. The tiny trees have photo ornaments with pictures of the dogs and handmade apple cinnamon dough ornaments in shapes like doghouses, fire hydrants, pawprints and bones. :o)

Friday, December 12, 2008

A little bit of Christmas cheer

Since I'm still in a lot of pain I'm keeping my blogging to a minimum. Here's my latest treasury. I thought it would add a festive touch to my blog.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thud! Ouch!

I've been unusually quiet because I had a bad accident last weekend and I'm in a lot of pain and have very limited use of my right arm. Since it 'tis the season, I'm sharing a picture of my little darlings from last year's Christmas card. From left to adorable right is Santa Sadie Sue, Chloe and sweet little, panic stricken Magoo.

Woo hoo! My treasury was on the front page!

I woke up to news that my Round and Round treasury graced Etsy's front page this morning.

Monday, November 24, 2008

YAY! My chic treasury made the front page!

I missed all the excitement because I was sick in bed, but I'm so excited this treasury made it to the front page. I really worked hard on this treasury to give it a different look than my usual ones. Congratulations to all the featured sellers!

Meet "Chief Build a Dam....His Friends Call Him Beaver"

As promised, here is my latest mask now grouted. If you refer back to my previous post, you can see what a transformation grout can make. The "Chief" is getting packed up and shipped off to a two month show that's opening in December. Details will follow soon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Yay! Bob made the front page!

While my treasuries have been on Etsy's front page a number of times, MY art has never been on it until today. Unfortunately, I was taking the rare nap and missed this historic event, but thanks to some Etsy friends, I was alerted to the fact that "Bob, Why the Long Face?" had graced the front page.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The perfect gift for women on your holiday gift list!

ara133photography on Etsy's new photo pendants have arrived! Amy is now putting her photographs on glass pendants. She's offering them in a variety of designs. The peppermint candy one looks real. Pendants would make lovely gifts for wives/girlfriends, teachers, babysitters...any woman on your gift list. Remember to shop handmade this holiday season.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Get ready for a big sale on Etsy!

Many talented sellers are gathering together on Etsy to have a huge sale that runs from Thanksgiving, November 27 to the following Monday, December 1st. This sale will be heavily promoted and will be an excellent chance for people to save the hassle of going to the mall and fighting the crowds. Not to mention it's a fantastic chance to purchase handmade items from talented artists around the world. If you have an Etsy store and would like to sign up, see this thread for more information and go here to sign up. Thank you to Softpencil for designing the graphic!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Are you from the Atlanta area? Check out this must see show!

After 15 years, this is it, and then it's over. Once the cash box closes on the 2008 "Big Angel Blowout", Some Call It Art is calling it quits on our annual holiday show and sale. Not just because people were creeped out by our mutant chicken-baby mascot, but also because our wings have somewhat outflapped thier flutter. We cordially invite you to this last blast of a last call and extend our sincerest thanks and appreciation for your ongoing patronage over the past two decades.

So now, for one last hurrah, the inventions nonpareil of the South's brightest artists are yours for the asking price. The usual vanguard suspects - artists and artisans, vagabonds and outsiders, tax fraud lawyers and bandits, plus the occasional burlesque queen - are bringing forth the chaotic assortment you've come to expect: whimsical and thought-provoking paintings, sculptures, pottery, photography, textiles, jewelry, ornaments, wreaths, stockings, artcards, metalworks, mixed media and, of course, angels of every size shape and persuasion.

Thursday Nov 20 6:00 pm - 9:00pm PREVIEW
Friday Nov 21 10:00am - 9:00pm
Saturday Nov 22 10:00am - 9:00pm
Sunday Nov 23 10:00am - 9:00pm

814 Edgewood Ave
Atlanta, GA 30307

Susan Bridges

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mosaic Lesson

This is my latest mask that still has to be named. (You can click on his picture for a larger view.) He's my first one to have teeth and hair. He still has to be grouted and everything that is currently white will be transformed into charcoal gray with the grout. He'll also have recessed eyes once he's all finished. I'll post a picture of him after he's grouted so you can see the difference.

An interview with the talented Lyse of ImagineStudio!

I am thrilled to present an interview with Lyse Marion of ImagineStudio. I'm a huge fan of her work and after learning more about her, I'm even more impressed. Thank you so much, Lyse for taking part in this interview and sharing more of yourself with the online world. To see more of Lyse's amazing work, please check out her Etsy store, ImagineStudio where she's currently offering free shipping!

Where did you first learn the art of collage?

Around the age of 15, I started taking art classes and continued exploring many different techniques and mediums within a creative arts program at college. I studied drawing, painting, metal and clay sculpture, etching, carving, silkscreen, and collage. I fell in love with doing collages and it became my primary medium for artistic expression ever since.

When did you make the move to digital art?

In the late 70’s my collages where mainly photomontages using images from magazines to create new single images. They were often about war, peace, women's issues, exploitation and similar issues of the times. In the early 80’s my collages became more like assemblages whereby I would incorporated many different objects unto a base photomontage I had done, thus exploring textures, depth and more abstract forms of self expression. This lead me to work on new-found art collage pieces, small assemblage sculptures and jewellery during the 90’s. I returned to my initial passion for photomontages in the late 90’s as a need to express my feelings, thoughts and at times overwhelming emotions in relation to the work I was doing with people with severe mental health disorders. My photomontage collages during this period were dichotomized and polarized...half being about social exclusion, isolation, social injustice, poverty etc... and the other half being about the beauty of life, hope, spirituality, love, friendship, wonderment, colour, etc.

It is my constant need to express myself through collages that brought me to explore the digital editing tools about 6 years ago. Since then I have been working on transferring the collage art form into the digital world. Layers upon layers of thoughts, emotions and research have been turned into transparencies, textures, colours, depth, emotions, portraitures, etc. This virtual digital world of seemingly endless possibilities has given me a new take on my artwork, allowing me to pursue even further my undying need to produce lyrical, evocative and sometimes provocative

Do you ever put hidden messages or images in your collages?

I can’t say that I put hidden messages or hidden images in my collages. I do however, often try to convey emotions, thoughts or ideas beyond trying to state the obvious. I know that I have an inclination towards symbolism and some form of mysticism or spirituality and I love poetry. Perhaps it is these that seep into my collages and makes one feel that perhaps there are hidden messages.

I believe that the fact that I work with layers of images and transparencies may also contribute to that perception, but nothing about my work has an intentional component in regards to wanting to send a message other than that of hope, beauty and life.

A few weeks ago someone told me that my artwork had an intellectual feel to them. I was very surprised to hear that because I had never felt that about my work, but after reflection and taking into consideration my life experiences and non-conforming temperament, I have decided that person is probably right. I cannot separate my mind, heart and soul from my artwork. I guess I do use all three to create my collages and as such certain parts of my unconsciousness could certainly reveal itself though my artistic expression.

What I feel, when I step back and look at my artwork, is that many of them appear to have something to do with different aspects of the soul, life’s fragilities and tender moments, one’s capacity to overcome life’s obstacles or challenges and our ability to transform not only our life, but also the way we live it and envision the rest to be.

Each is a story unto itself and for me it permits one to take flight in one's own imagination and find a place to acknowledge and the freedom to feel what we do.

If you had to choose ONE artist's work to fill your home with, who would it be?

That would be impossible for me. I enjoy so many different artists, styles and artistic movements that I would be devastated if I could only choose one. I can tell you whose artwork I mostly have on my walls right now…that of my husband. I must be his biggest fan! Other than his work, I have a few pieces from Etsy artists, a few from artist friends and some of my own.

In your Etsy profile it says you've worked for over twenty years with people with mental health disorders. What has that experience taught you?

It has taught me about some of life’s ultimate sacred beauty involved in joy and tribulation, about the power of hope and the power of support and encouragement. And that the most important and poignant inspirations come from individuals who overcome life’s obstacles. It has taught me about empowerment and the possibility of transforming one’s life.

Where do you find your inspiration for your collages?

I would have to say that I have two fields of inspiration. The first being, the love I have for others and the love that I receive and my ability to daydream. The knowledge of everything I have and the gratitude I feel. My family and friends' support and encouragement, my two cats, my love of life and all it has to offer.

The second being my love of art and the sometimes overpowering awe that I feel when I see certain paintings. It is difficult to describe this feeling other than to say that I am inspired to bring back out or forth it’s essence but within a more modern context or environment. It is as if I feel that they still have something important to convey about our humanness, life's joys and tribulations.

Other than those two major fields of inspiration, I also like to have fun with my artwork.

What is your favorite collage in your store right now?

I have always had a rebellious nature against the status quo, whenever it imposes limitations on human rights or calls upon bigotry and prejudices. For a number of years the majority of my collages where comments on conformity and critiques of social injustices. In this sense, Above the Odds, which is kind of a remnant of my past work, is still a favourite of mine because it ultimately symbolises the beliefs and values I hold dear in life. I also feel a strong personal connection to it because it is a reminder for me that no matter life’s challenges, I too can rise above the odds!

Is there anything else you'd like Etsy readers to know about you or your art?

I would like for them to know that I literally place all artworks on the same level. I believe that creativity is what is important, no matter the art form, style or technique. This is not to say that I personally enjoy all other artworks, but I do admire the creative process involved in expressing oneself through art. In other words, I love the idea of creativity and it’s process more than I love art just on it's own.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Helping those in need

As the temperatures begin to dip here, my heart is sinking along with them because I'm seeing more homeless people than ever in my community. Yes, we have homeless shelters, but they intentionally make the homeless move from one town to the next so they don't stay in one place for very long and they're only open for the overnight. If you have spare blankets, winter clothes or even small soaps from hotels, please keep them in your car to hand out to people in need. This winter is going to be hard for so many people.

I barked at my husband last night because he complained we were out of sour cream and he wanted some on his quesadilla. I told him to be grateful he has food when so many people are struggling.

I'm not saying you have to give from your pocket. Get creative and give from your heart. Everyone has something to share or donate. Look deep within yourself and you'll find many ways you can enrich the lives of others.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Custom made tutus for the little girls in your life

Aren't these tutus (and the models) adorable? Etsy store, BabyMakesThree offers custom made tutus with elastic waistbands in sizes newborn and up. Choose up to three colors of tulle from their wide selection of forty-two colors and get a free matching flower clip! If you're a new customer, you can get 10% off by putting the promo code "NEW CUSTOMER" in the notes to seller.

Are you looking for gifts that smell good and look great?

Check out elladean on Etsy! She has homemade lip balms, air fresheners and body mists and everything comes with creative and fun packaging. With 225 items for sale that are 100% vegan friendly, affordable prices and international shipping, what's not to love?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Do you love handmade greeting cards?

Check out Etsy seller, RandomScraps for lovely handmade greeting cards and mini albums. She's currently taking custom orders for Christmas cards.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Excitement from Down Under

Last Christmas season I was up in my studio each day, working away on a large mosaic toucan. I finished him in late January and mailed him off to Australia. Sandy Robertson, a brilliant mosaic artist from Oz brought the international mosaic community together for an incredible project honoring the late Steve Irwin. We donated animals on mesh and she's been working like crazy with a team of assistants to create magnificent mosaic panels that will be installed at the Australia Zoo. The first panels will be installed in mid-November for Steve Irwin Day. This week the mural made the paper in Australia. The article tells more about the project and shows pictures of the panels that have been completed thus far. I am so thrilled and honored to be a part of this.

My Treasury is on the Front Page!

Last night I discovered that Etsy had rearranged my treasury, which from what I learned in the forums meant it was being considered for the front page. Apparently once that happens, the treasury is locked in to how they want to present it on the front page. I replaced an item that was sold out, but unfortunately it wasn't included on the front page. I'm sad about the exclusion, but I'm happy for the sellers that had work go to the front page. Congrats!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Just another manic Monday....

Okay, so "manic" would indicate crazy energy and I'm definitely lacking that. LOL I'm still in my funk that's been hanging with me for a few weeks, but I've been trying to push through it. I made something for the simple reason because I wanted to. Do you know how long it's been since I've done that? I honestly can't remember the last time I did that. That's sad. I made a handful of centerpieces using gifts from nature: scented pinecones, leaves, gourds and pods. They were so simple, but they looked beautiful and made my heart sing. I used to have a floral designing business and the daily grind took all the joy away. It was great to feel good about it again and absolutely no pressure. My dogs were a little confused as to why their Mommy was in the backyard with a flashlight at 3AM picking up treasures.

I gave one of my neighbors some leftovers from our "Doggie Halloween" party. She ran inside and came back with a book for me, "The Power of Giving: How Giving Back Enriches Us All" by Azim Jamal and Harvey McKinnon. As she handed it to me she started to cry and explained why she was giving it to me, which in turn had me in tears. I haven't had time to read all year, but it seems like a special book and I'm going to try to make a little time to read it a chapter at a time. I'm a big believer in giving back. You don't have to have a lot of money or tons of spare time to be a giving person. If more people realized that, the world would be a better place.

I have to do one more art drop off/pick up with a gallery in town today and then I'm done with that for a few weeks.

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I'm in love with this incredible Etsy find!

SWOON! Yes, I know I recently featured Jill of JillreDesigns on my blog, but I had to share with the blog world her newest earrings. Aren't they amazing? The intricate, lacy wire work is fine copper wire that's adorned with Czech firepolished beads. Gorgeous!

Tantalizing Landscapes, Pysanky Eggs & Singing Cows

When I discovered Etsy at the start of the summer, I began reading the forums to learn all about Etsy and how to have a successful store. I took note of who posted to the forums and was helpful and friendly. The store name ara133photography kept popping up and when I began to make treasuries, I learned that the talent behind the store was a woman named Amy. What I didn't learn until very recently is now Amy's store features some photographs taken by her husband AND she has another store on Etsy, ara133 that sells notecards, magnets and notebooks featuring her photography, Origami cranes and pysanky eggs. As part of my ongoing series of interviewing fellow Etsy sellers, I asked Amy if she'd take part in a round of Q&A and she happily obliged. Please take a few minutes to learn about the woman behind the beautiful photographs and check out her Etsy stores, ara133photography and ara133!

Your profile says you're a graduate student. What are you studying?

I’m studying Plant Biology; my research focuses on the way roots change their growth habits in response to nutrient stresses and plant hormones. Someday I hope to be a professor of biology in a small college. My dream is to develop a lab plan (including computer software and realistic manmade models) for courses such as physiology, so that no animals are harmed!

Do you take a camera with you everywhere you go?

Almost! I typically have at least my little digital camera – it fits nicely in my purse and is great for those unexpected shots I come across on the way to school! Sometimes I bring my SLR if I plan to take a walk at lunch around campus. I always bring both cameras on any trips!

I see your husband is now selling photos in your store. Is there any competition between the two of you?

Actually no, we don’t compete. Sometimes we do find that we’ve taken the exact same shot somewhere, which is kind of funny – we do tend to think alike! We have different strengths photographically and artistically, though, so I think our work is complementary. We also enjoy critiquing each other’s work, which helps us both develop! When we go on photoshoots (which is what any vacation or hike turns into!) we share both cameras - we just keep handing them off to each other depending on the type of shot we're taking. Also, my husband is 6'5" tall so he takes all of the 'tall' shots and I take most of the 'shorty' shots (things that require a very low point of view) :) He also doesn't like to have squirrels running around on his feet so he throws food to them for me while I photograph them, when we're getting very closeup shots.

I love your "And They Sang All Day" photograph. Did you already own the cow creamers or did you have a vision and then have to go out and collect the cows?

Thank you so much! Those are actually from my husband’s cow creamer collection! I only left one out, because it is a bunny! A few years ago we went to a little restaurant that served cream in a cow creamer, and he got such a kick out of it that the next time we saw one in a store, we bought it! The ones in the photograph come from all over – a Menonite shop in Pennsylvania, a few grocery stores, a tourist shop in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, a little store in Connecticut…

What is your favorite photograph in your store right now?

I have a hard time deciding!! Right now I really like “Katie’s Enchantment” and “At Tara in this fateful hour” – I like the dreaminess, plus they both look exactly how I imagined them in my head! My favorite by my husband right now is “And the dusk was full”. We are planning to get a print of that one matted and framed for our apartment soon, I love the way it just seems to dance with lights!

How do you envision your photography evolving in the next ten years?

I am starting to do some more photography collages and pieces that might be classified as digital art, though they are all based on my photography. I plan to continue developing my technique, and possibly start incorporating my drawings and paintings into my work.

It's really a joy for me to go beyond what is often termed traditional photography, and use layers, collage techniques and other digital art formats to bring to life the images in my mind. This is especially true when it comes to books I read - I have such vivid pictures in my mind, and it's really a fantastic feeling when I can create them using my photography.

In your second store you sell pysanky eggs. For those people that don't know about these intricate creations, could you please describe the process and a little bit about them?

Pysanky eggs are an Eastern European tradition that began in ancient times; one of more modern prevailing legend seems to be that the existence of the world as we know it depends on the making of pysanky every year! Traditionally, the eggs are kept whole, ie not drained, to symbolize life. However, I’ve heard many horror stories about very old eggs developing pressure inside and exploding during a hot spell or upon being touched.. the stench would be abominable! Therefore, I drain my eggs! To make these, I start with a plain white egg (or brown!). Lately I’ve been using goose eggs, as they offer a nice, large canvas, great for animal designs. Then I draw a design on in melted beeswax (I heat it in a pencil-sized funnel over a candle flame every few moments) – the parts that are waxed will be white. Then, with the wax still on, I dip it in the lightest dye I plan to use. For my red and white Christmas ornaments, only one dip in red is needed. For multi-colored eggs, the next step would be to draw more pattern on top of the dye… this pattern will be the color of that dye – you are basically protecting that color with the wax. Then the egg is dipped in a slightly darker color, and these steps are repeated until the egg is dipped into the darkest color (usually deep red, blue or black). The method I use to remove the wax is to hold the egg next to a candle flame and wipe away the melting wax with a lint-free tissue, bit by bit. Then I spray the egg with acrylic as a sealant. The whole process can take several hours to a few days depending upon the intricacy of the design.

Thank you, Amy for letting everyone get to know a little bit more about you. I know Etsy wouldn't be the same without your lovely work. Best wishes for a bright and successful future!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

An interview with the Queen of Pomegranates....and more!

If you've shopped on Etsy you've seen these enticing pomegranates on the front page. The first time I was captivated by them I sought out who made them and got to know Yael, the artist behind the creations in the Etsy shop Yoola. Not only does Yael create delightful pomegranates, but her shop offers a variety of handknit and crocheted items that all have an airy quality about them. Her latest creations include a line of lampshades that are absolutely fabulous. I was honored when Yael agreed to be interviewed and featured on my blog. She is my first international seller I've featured her and I was thrilled to get to know her better.

When did you first learn to knit and crochet?

I learned the basics of crochet when I was little on one of my summer vacations at my grandma and grandpa's. I was a very crafty girl. :)

What made you choose to work with wire?

When I was living in Switzerlad a couple of years ago, I got bored since I couldn’t work there so I took short classes at a local silversmith, and fell in love. It reminded me that I need to create in order to breathe and be happy.

Your pomegranates are truly a unique find on Etsy. What do pomegranates mean to you and how did you get inspired to make the first one?

Pomegranates are a marvelous fruit, it has many appearances in the Jewish culture as well as in other ancient cultures. A ceramic pom is a common gift for many occasions in Israel. My mom mentioned that to me when I was experimenting with larger patterns…and the rest is history :)

How long does it take you to make the average pomegranate?

It takes me about three hours. I call it my meditation. I concentrate and it gives me inner peace and quiet.

You obviously like the color red, does it have any particular symbolism/meaning to you or is it just a favorite color?

I believe everything has a reason, meaning if I love red or use a lot of red in my work then it must be something that I need in order to give me more strength or more quiet, whatever I am lacking. So red for me is happiness and fire, warmth and life.

I've never been to Israel, but I've come to admire some great artists from your country. Are handmade items and the arts appreciated in Israel?

I'm embarrassed to say, but I don’t know. As an artist I’m only alive in Etsy and the internet. I don’t think I could make a living out of it as I do with my design firm, so maybe this is the answer…..

Do artists pass down their skills to the next generation?

Israel is a young country inventing itself from scratch. People came here during the 19th and 20th centuries from all over the world. They were a generation that did not want to live their parent’s life in Europe. They wanted a land of their own. They revived the Hebrew which was dead for 2000 years and they needed to build this country with no agriculture, building, or army skills. So I think tradition in Israel today is not something appreciated or passed on. We need to grow up first.

What is your favorite item in your store right now and why?

I’m in love with my Scheherazade lamps. I have wanted to design lamps for years and finally I have. I was so excited when the first one was finished...really excited. I'm just as excited about people's feedback. They love them too.

Do you have anything else you'd like to share?

Etsy life is something really extraordinary. It gives me the opportunity to be an artist and meet wonderful and warm people like you, Valerie. Thank you so much for supporting me. It means the world to me. (editor's note: You're quite welcome. I feel the same way about you!)

Due to space constraints, I've only shown you a few of Yael's creations. Be sure to check out her Etsy store to see more of her work, including delightful jewelry and home decor!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Here's to a Happy 2009

Rather than complain that sales are slow and the economy is doing poorly, I've chosen to focus on the positive belief that things will get better. I've begun looking for show and gallery opportunities for 2009 and just received word that my work was accepted into a two month show in the spring and I'm being allotted 10' of wall space, which is fantastic!

I know times are tough for many of us, but instead of getting caught up in the "woe is me" mindset, use this slower time to market yourself, learn something new like Twitter, refine a skill, take a class or enjoy some quality time with someone that might normally feel slighted when you're working so hard.

I was sick for the month of June and while I didn't get any art made, I spent those weeks looking for art opportunities and applying for shows. It's keeping me busy right up until Christmas.

So stop twiddling your thumbs and get busy! ;o)

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's Monday and the start of a busy week.

I was all set to post my interview with Yoola, the great pomegranate queen of Etsy, but she's out of town for the week, so I want to hold off until her store is out of vacation mode.

This Friday is Halloween in the U.S. and I still have to finish putting the decorations up in my yard. We get 125-150 trick-or-treaters and with Halloween being on a Friday this year, we might get a lot more. On Saturday is our annual "Doggie Halloween" party with all of our dog park friends and their dogs. The photo above is of my big baby, Sadie Sue from last year's party after indulging in too much doggie cake.

This week I'm beginning a big "gallery shuffle" with taking art from one gallery and switching it out with another. Thankfully everyone agreed and is happy and it should go smoothly. I also have some new art to photograph and put in my Etsy store.

Everyone have a good week!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Give yourself the gift of an embrace...

with one of Kay's of OnSlenderThreads wondrous creations. I first stumbled upon Kay's store when I was putting a treasury together on Etsy. I was immediately fascinated with her use of soft fibers mixed with precious stones. I'm a texture-holic and this was an amazing combination. Since then, I've featured Kay in several treasuries. It's my absolute pleasure to get her more exposure on Etsy because her creations are fantastic! I was lucky enough to receive one of her treasures as a gift and words cannot express how lovely it is. I asked Kay if she'd partake in a question and answer session with me to be featured on my blog and she happily obliged. After you read Kay's thoughtful answers, I urge you to explore her Etsy store and her website to see more exquisite photos and to read more about her Mindfulness Mantles!

By blending earth’s fibers & stones
these mindfulness mantles are woven to awaken & comfort you.
Being a lifelong dancer, I flourish on gathering grace
from one’s senses to quicken one’s heart.

Each shawl is crafted in quiet reflection
for its future owner—knitted from heart to heart.
Wrap one around yourself to experience
this illuminating dance of fibers and stones.

Wraps to empower, ground, delight
40 Days Shawls to gentle, balance, refine
Survivor Mantles to cocoon, center, transform
~ Kay Moates

How old were you when you first learned to knit? Who taught you?

Knitting has been a part of me for so long I can’t remember not knitting. Coming from a line of women extremely skilled with all types of needles probably planted the love and inclination in my soul. The specific instruction came from my Mother. Actually for all On Slender Threads’ Mindfulness Mantles I use only the first most basic stitch she taught me because it allows the work to flow seamlessly into quiet.

What exactly is a Mindfulness Mantle?

A Mindfulness Mantle is a handmade shawl created as a tool for supporting, refining, and transforming inner work. My desire is to help people embody change by making connections to themselves and their life. The entire crafting process is grounded with intention and symbols. First, each Mantle has a strong earth connection being knit from fine natural fibers and embellished with earthgems (gemstones birthed deep within our Earth). Second, each Mantle carries an invitation to stillness by being created during my quiet. Third, the Mantle embraces a person in gentleness and gives a touchstone to enfold for soothing. Like an artist’s canvas holds a painting, a Mindfulness Mantle supports and holds the energy of ones’ inward journey.

What first inspired you to blend soft fibers with stones?

That evolved during the process of gleaning elements into a whole and was simply a natural happening. I have always loved being embraced by a shawl—that cocooning enlivens me. And, forever, touchstones have helped me focus and move deeply within. The difference in textures and form magnifies each Mindfulness Mantle’s message. During the rendering process I often ponder in amazement and wonder that this fiber once walked the earth and that each unique earthgem knows transformation from our earth’s core.

How are people using the Mindfulness Mantles?

To my pure delight people—men, children, and women—are using them is various ways that suit their individual needs. Some are during rites of passage, for children’s mindfulness, for being in the moment, for sitting practice, as preparation aids for weddings (bride, bridesmaids, and mothers), during care giving, during therapeutic work, and while navigating an illness.

Have you dabbled in any other art forms?

I’ve been in the performing arts for—oh, my goodness—sixty years! As a life-long dancer I created and directed Imagination in Motion, a creative movement dance company for young children, where we danced with a difference inspired by all forms of art with music improvised by our pianist. As a matter of fact, On Slender Threads arose after my retirement as a new way to say the same things that I had taught for years.

What would you like to tell Etsy readers about yourself or your store?

On Slender Threads' Mantles are made from luscious, fine fibers for seasonal harmony . . . silk, cashmere, angora, bamboo, linen, alpaca, pima cotton, baby suri, merino, mohair, wool . . . (some fibers are organic).

There are seven different Mantle collections giving a variety of sizes, shapes, fibers, and earthgems. Also, I especially like to make custom Mantles weaving in the person’s wishes and needs.

I love the way numbers dance through our lives. One of my favorite numbers is 11—On Slender Threads Mindfulness Mantles are based on 11’s. I use every imaginable way to call forth awareness to deepen life’s connections!

Thank you, Kay for participating in this Q&A with me. I wish you much success!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My heart is full of gratitude

I've had very little sleep today and I'm feeling burnt out and exhausted. I signed on and found such lovely convos from some of my Etsy friends. I feel truly blessed. I've been working so hard this year that I've had very little time to socialize or even get out of the house and the support and encouragement I've been receiving from the Etsy community has been truly amazing. Thank you each and every one of you for touching my heart in your own special way.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thank you, Etsy for bringing my treasury to the front page!

I am thrilled to say that my latest treasury, "Romance in the Afternoon" was selected by Etsy to grace the front page. I was delighted that my new Etsy friend, Kay of OnSlenderThreads was going to have the Etsy spotlight shining on her. Whenever I stumble across an Etsy store that features incredible talent and products, I do my best to get them some extra attention. Kay is still getting her name out there on Etsy. I hope this front page exposure drives a lot of traffic through her store so they can discover her gorgeous creations. Stay tuned for a Q&A with Kay in the future. She'll be one of my featured sellers on my blog. Congrats as well to JillreDesigns, FancyPicnic, Rudman, ThisYearsGirl, RomanticThreads, pinkdragonfly98, topsyturvydesign, LittleSparrowNest, labokoff and TotusMel Please take some time and explore their Etsy stores!

JillreDesigns is wrapped around my fingers....wrist and ears!

Remember the Yart Sale on Etsy this summer? Not only did I get some amazing deals, but I also met Jill of JillreDesigns on Etsy. I featured one of her rings in a treasury, she convo'd me and said thank you and a friendship was born. I also bought the ring I featured, another ring, a bracelet, two pairs of get the idea. I'm in love with Jill's jewelry! This past year I've gone from being at the dog park for hours everyday to bouncing around to different galleries. I have to be dressed as a successful artist and Jill's jewelry gives me some much needed confidence. She's designed earrings for me twice now for openings and "she gets me" and my style, even when I don't know what I'm looking for. Be sure to check out Jill's store for gorgeous wire wrapped rings, luscious stones, funky earrings, handmade polymer clay Halloween beads and stylish treasure boxes. Below is a little Q&A I asked Jill to participate in.

How long have you been making jewelry?

I’ve been making jewelry in one form or another pretty much as long as I can remember. My dad was a designer for Napier when I was growing up, and I loved the animal pins that he would create. So I was hooked early on.

What is your jewelry background?

How lucky could I be? I had this talented designer living under the same roof! When I was 12 years old my family moved, and my dad converted the old barn on the property into a studio for his freelance work. There he taught me design, model making, everything I needed to know to create jewelry on my own. Since then I’ve worked in just about every area of jewelry design and manufacturing.

What is your favorite thing to make?

For now, I’d have to say rings. I’m exploring new ways of making them, and so far the results have been interesting.

Which artists (any art form) inspire you?

Warren Dontigney (my dad), and Earl and Dot Bushnell (my godparents), all talented artists who took the time to nurture my passion for art. Other than family members my favorite artist is Joan Miro. His paintings seem to capture a dream state that I find fascinating. Other artists are Alexander Calder and Edward Gorey. I appreciate all art, but I love Modern form.

What else have you dabbled in?

Being “thrifty”, I like to do my own home decorating and repairs. I made a space mural for the wall of my son’s bedroom, mosaic shelves for the bathroom, and lamp fixtures for the bedroom. I love to watch HGTV and try out the different paint applications that they show.

Is there any art form that you’d like to learn in the future?

I have a storage closet full of future projects just waiting for the time to do them. I have this friend who does fantastic mosaics, her work is definitely inspiring!

What are you most proud of?

Personally, I don’t think I’ve had that moment yet. If anything, I’d have to say my family, here and gone. They’ve given me an awful lot to be proud about.

What was your silliest/most creative/best Halloween costume you’ve ever worn?

I’m very traditional when it comes to dressing up for Halloween, and I’m also a big B horror movie fan. My favorite costume was a full length black velvet cape with red lining that belonged to my sister, white face paint, vampire teeth. It looked great till my sister took the cape back. I also had fun making costumes for my sons. One year I made a costume out of two pairs of old jeans and two old blue sweatshirts. He was the three armed, three legged, three eyed boy. I had a pretty realistic rubber hand, and I made a third eye out of polymer clay and painted it to match Tyler’s eyes. After I attached it with spirit gum I created lids with fake skin. He said he got a lot of interesting reactions to it.

What is your favorite piece of jewelry in your etsy store?

I always liked the pearl and Czech firepolished bead earrings that I use in my avatar. They’ve had many fans, but surprisingly no buyer yet. (Editor's note: They'd have been mine months ago if they were made with silver wire. I love them!)

Do you have a quote you’d like to share?

I’m hearing this quite a bit lately, but it is relevant to the times, “all we have to fear is fear itself”. The best cure for fear is knowledge, and with a very important election coming up we owe it to ourselves to know who we’re voting for.

Thank you Jill for agreeing to be my second featured Etsy seller!

Tag! I'm it and I didn't even know it.

Okay, so I'm totally new to blogging. I only started this summer. Just last night I discovered tagging and today Joanna of JoannasPhotography on Etsy (check out her gorgeous photographs!) tagged ME! Yikes! Okay, so I'm now supposed to reveal seven random facts about myself and then tag seven other people on their blogs. I'm afraid I don't know seven people with blogs, but I'll do my best.

Here are 7 random facts about me:

1) I've never tried sushi.

2) If you ask me how old I am, I have to figure out how old my brother is and then subtract three years to give you an answer. It's my unique way of doing math.

3) My husband and I IM and e-mail each other, even when we're both online and 5' apart.

4) I once rode a camel in Turkey.

5) I've only bought two CD's in my life. Music just isn't a part of my life at all.

6) I have a minimum of five Christmas trees in my house each December.

7) I lifted a lawnmower over my head and carried it up our deck stairs the other day. I'm only going to tag Celeste of CricketsCreations since I don't know anyone else with a blog. I know, I know, I'm not playing by the rules. If you're reading this and want to be tagged, let me know!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

'Tis the season of giving

Last year my husband and I baked 120 dozen cookies in a period of 36 hours. We donated them to families that have a loved one in hospice care and to our local homeless shelter. The families each received two dozen cookies packed in new cookie tins, wrapped in cellophane and a bow with lots of ribbon and a card. We brought trays of cookies to the homeless shelter. We received the most amazing thank you note from the shelter coordinator. To know that our cookies were the only touch of holidays some individuals and families received broke my heart. This year I'm anticipating a greater need for more cookies due to the poor economy, so I've started a "cookie giving jar". 20% of all of my Etsy sales through December 15th, excluding my Catahoula pocket mirror will go towards buying baking supplies, tins, trays and cellophane to make the holidays a little happier for those needing some cheer. 100% of my sales of my Catahoula pocket mirror will be donated to Catahoula United Rescue Society. Thank you for your support!