Everything Is Great!

The store’s buyer took everything I had this morning!  I am so thrilled she liked it!  She wiped me out!  Hopefully I will be able to restock my inventory before she needs more.

I’m confident I’m on the right track and will be launching my new product line shortly.

This is almost like the excitement children have just before Christmas…



Vincent VanGogh

“Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your profession is what you’re put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.” ― Vincent van Gogh

Starry Night, Vincent VanGogh
One of my favorite artists is Vincent VanGogh.
Perhaps it is because we share our Dutch heritage.  Although I have never set foot upon my native shores, I am very much influenced by our heritage.  Some of my ancestors  refused to speak Dutch at home because once we came here we were “Americans.  You will learn to speak American!” Which is English, of course.
I studied German in school, thinking it was close to Dutch.  Not so much, as it turns out.  Nor do I have an ear for languages.  I was utterly abysmal at the study of German.  The realization crushed my fervent desire to learn my native tongue.
Having awakened far to early this morning and unable to fall back to sleep, I watched  Biography about Vincent.  Actually, several biography’s about several artists.  Vincent remains one of my absolute favorites.
He was a prolific artist and letter writer.  Mainly to Theo, his younger brother.  He was a person who loved deeply, often inappropriately, yet never received that sort of love in return.  Other than from his very best friend and younger brother, Theo.
Vincent, apparently, was always a depressed person.  Even as a child, he suffered from deep depression.  His mother never bonded with him, and that influenced his life as well.  His great love was a prostitute with syphilis.
My impression is Vincent was not fastidious with his artist materials, often sticking the paint brush into his mouth.  Paint at that time, and still today depending upon what sort you are purchasing, contained many deadly poisons.  Lead, cadmium, cobalt, and copper to name a few.  There were also solvents which were toxic-turpentine, kerosene, and anything else they could get their hands on to use with their paints.  At one point in his life, Vincent VanGogh was eating paints and drinking turpentine.
This, of course, can lead to all sorts of neurological and physical disorders.
Including madness.
Which Vincent had in abundance.
Nevertheless, his was a mind that created some of the most amazing art this world has ever known.
The true tragedy here is Vincent never knew his genius would appeal to anyone.  In his entire life he only sold one painting, even though he created vast amounts of them.  His was the traditional Dutch work ethic.  Work hard, from sun up ’till sun down.  Go to bed and wake to do it all over again.  Eventually, with God’s help, you may be able to provide your family with the minimal of creature comforts-like shelter, a blanket and food each day.
So Vincent worked as a painter, from sun up ’till sun down.
Vincent was never able to provide for himself and depended upon Theo, his younger brother, to provide monetary support.  The deal was this:  Theo would provide for Vincent and any work Vincent did belonged to Theo.  Theo was working for an art gallery and this worked for them both.  Theo would, occasionally, be able to get Vincent’s paintings into a show.  But, for the most part, Vincent’s work was ignored by the people of the time.
This is the part I find so tragic.  Vincent VanGogh did breathtaking work that went utterly unappreciated in his day.  I think if he had had any monetary success, he may not have taken his own life at the very young age of 37.
The suicide attempt was poorly done, and Vincent lived a for awhile following the shooting.  His precious brother Theo arrived from France and together they spent the hours Vincent had left.  Theo climbed into bed with Vincent and held Vincent in his arms as he passed away.
Six months later Theo, himself, would perish.  They are buried next to each other.
Theo’s wife, with whom he had a son-Vincent, took on the job of cataloging all of Vincent’s paintings.  Since they were scattered across Europe-some given as payment for a debt, some forgotten when he moved on-this was quite an undertaking.  Vincent’s own mother destroyed crates filled with his work.
Vincent’s mother did live long enough to see her son’s work appreciated.
I wonder if she cared.

Theatre and Puppetry

Today I met with my dear friend, Tom, to go over his set design ideas. I also gave him the props I made for his show.

The show is The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  I cannot believe I have not done this show already, but I have not.  With 250 shows (guesstimate) under my belt, there are not that many I haven’t been involved with at some point.  Of course, we have repeated several over the years.  Hard to find really great scripts that haven’t been done to death.

Honestly, there are not that many great shows that are cost effective to put on.  We’ve put on blockbuster-mega-shows, of course, but we rarely make back the money we put into them.  They are often sell-outs, but the costs involved are really mind-boggling.  Costumes, sets, special lighting, props, musicians, technical devices and special effects, anything computerized or motorized, stunts and all that involves, and, of course, the cost for the rights to put the show on in the first place.  It boggles the mind, how much it costs to put on a theatrical production of any quality.

While there, Tom and I talked about the summer camp his (I resigned last year after a debilitating health issue) theatre  organization is putting on this coming month.  I am, apparently, in charge of a puppet play the kids will be putting on.  This will involve making the puppets, as well as staging the show.  This will be a great thing for the kids to do.  They will create their own puppets and use them in the show.  Then they will have a great memento from the experience as well.

So, some of you are wondering about the puppets.  I have made several hand puppets, have created a marionette named Vogel, and plan to create a couple (Audrey Hepburn and Clark Gable are my personal favorites) who will dance together.  This is a very challenging project, which is why I depend upon my dear friend Bill.

Bill was a professional puppeteer in Chicago, with his own puppet theatre, for 35 years and has retired to this area.  He is a delight and has been teaching me the art of puppet making.

Which is an art, let me tell you!  I cannot believe the complexity of the process.  Here are some pictures of my sculpt of Vogel’s head:

2015-10-21 15.00.24
The sculpt of Vogel’s head, before he becomes a mold
Vogel, complete. Head painted, body and legs attached, fully strung. Both were sold at Potlatch, the Puppetry Convention.

It was a thrill to see him come together!  I am addicted to puppetry and have been since we began this little journey.  I want to become an expert at this art form.  I really cannot wait until we begin working on these puppets again.

My next puppetry excursion, following the kids art camp, will be doing shadow puppets for our upcoming Halloween show, “Yikes!”  It is a show about a little girl, Candy Corn, who meets all kinds of interesting creatures on her adventure through the magical forest.  There are dancing Ghosts, talking and singing Crows, and the grand, Old Tree, Rosina the Witch, the Headless Horseman, dancing Skeletons and the Great Pumpkin.  We have a magical caldron that spits sparks, a flying-South-for-the-Winter Scarecrow-who flys apart instead, and all sorts of exciting and wonderful adventures for Candy, our little damsel in the forest.

Which reminds me of all the work I have left to do on the shadow puppets…

Well, back to work.  I am packing up some of the things I have been working on for delivery tomorrow.  Hope they are well received.

Jumpstart Creativity

Creativity seems to go in spurts for me.  I am crazy-creative for a time period, then it seems it all drys up and I have absolutely no ideas, no ambition, no creative juices flowing at all.  Dry as the Sahara Desert, I tell ya!

So I have a couple suggestions, should this happen to you.

I made some cards with ideas for things to do.  I have created 200 separate and unique ideas on 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 sized cards.  Each one is a technique or suggestion for a jump-off point to get me going.  Just a few ideas I had, during a very creative time when ideas are tumbling out one right after the other, for those times when I cannot think of what to do.

Keep a notebook or journal with you at all times.  I have one I carry with me in my purse, and it sits here with me as I work.  When an idea I don’t have time for now comes to me, I write it down/sketch it out.

This particular book has plain paper, lined paper and graph paper included in it.  I have the sketches with sizes, details I want to include in the project, possible materials to use, colors, anything that is important to the project that I will likely forget.  So, pretty much everything is written down in detail for me.  You may not need details, just a few words might work for you.

I have a Pinterest page where I have put a bunch of pictures of things I like.  If I like it, I throw it in there.  This is to spark my creativity when I can’t think of anything.  I will look through those pictures and try to figure out exactly why that piece spoke to me.  What was it about that particular artwork that drew me in?  Can I create something using that technique, or color or material?

Sometimes I just clean my workroom.  I re-organize, try to find additional storage, etc.  In that process I usually come across a material or product I haven’t used in awhile, something I forgot I had, something that inspires me to make something.  This is always my last resort, as I mentioned, I have storage issues.  To clean means to make a bigger mess before it gets better.  And to be perfectly honest here, I don’t think I can squeeze another inch of storage from this space.

Okay, maybe an inch or two…



Here comes a big one, people, and I am a part-time caterer with an outdoor job this afternoon.  In fact, the biggest job my boss’s catering company has ever taken on.  We will have four set-up’s with 3 people working at each, with one dedicated filler/runner per set-up.  We have an additional 8 runners to re-fill all the coolers, etc. and to keep up with us as we serve.

The radar is looking really ugly for today, so this might be a challenge!  Nevertheless, we will overcome!  I am actually looking forward to this.  I hope we are hoppin’ busy.  There is nothing worse than having a several hour job with only a few people every fifteen minutes or so.  And believe me, we have had that plenty of times.  Busy is always better!

Speaking of that, I cannot be bored.  I am always doing something.  This morning was no different.  I am so excited about the new things I’m making.  I hope you guys like them as much as I do!  Can’t wait to show you what I’ve been working on.

Soon, my friends, very soon.

I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it…

I am tone deaf-so believe me, you enjoyed my singing much more that way than if I had actually burst into song for you.  Honestly, I used to threaten the kids that way.  “If you guys don’t knock it off this minute, I’ll sing.  And I am not kidding!”  Worked like a charm!


That worked.

Every time.

That is profoundly bad singing, my friends.





Creative Frugality, Con’t.

Some of my watercolor paintings don’t turn out as great as I would like.  So I have some paintings hanging around that need to do something productive.  Like what I made today!

I have been cutting up my less-than-stellar art work and creating other things with it.  I’ve made watercolor bookmarks, cards, tags, and small art journals.  I have used some to create my own, unique business cards.  I made some into mats for unique frames.  I’m on a role here!  I may use some of them in my miniatures as wall art, wall paper, and for decoupage on furniture pieces.

And, of course, my personal favorite-beads!  Lots and lots of beads!  It has been a wonderfully freeing day, getting rid of the stuff I really never liked and making it into stuff I really do like.


Beads! I must make BEADS!

Do you have something you do when you need to relax?  I roll beads.  I make paper beads to relax, relieve stress, find my happy place…

So, for reasons that are utterly unimportant, I felt the need to create paper beads.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I keep my materials and tools necessary for a particular job all together in one tote, cheap plastic “shoe box”, a ziplock bag, whatever.  It’s always all together for easy access, easy carrying and easy storage.

I cannot find my bead making tote!  It is a clear pink tote with a darker pink top.  It is labeled.  It is in this room somewhere.

Does anyone see it?

I have been ripping this place apart and cannot find it.  This, of course, makes the need to bead that much worse.

So I have created my own beading tool and am improvising with my adhesive.  This is not my preferred adhesive, but it will do.  The tool is created this way:

Take a bamboo skewer and cut it in half with your x-acto knife.  I also cut off the pointed tip on that half piece and create two tools at one time.  Using your x-acto knife carefully-and I really mean this sincerely-cut the end in half length wise.  Go down from the end about an inch or an inch and a half with the split.  You now have a bamboo skewer split at the end.

I use an emery board to sand down the rough edges of the split pieces as well as the end of the skewer where I hold the stick.  You can now thread your paper into the split where the two pieces of wood will hold the paper securely while you roll it.  Once you get to the end of the paper, put a dab of your adhesive on the end and roll the end around and around until the paper is stuck down securely.  Remove your bead from your beading tool and make the next one.

The paper I made earlier is making beautiful beads and I am relaxing even now.  Sometimes we just have to improvise in life.

Product Line Success!

I have come up with a couple successful products for my line.  They are everything I wanted and more!  I can’t wait to show them to you!  Several are drying right now, and I will be taking them to Possessions to sell later in the week.  Hopefully, I will receive a positive response to these things.  If not, back to the drawing board.  But I am pretty confident with these.  I am really quite pleased with them!!

There are a few more things I am working on, as well, and those will also be ready next week.  I hope to have at least four different, distinct, products ready for sale this coming week.  This has been quite an undertaking.  My goal is to have a 10 piece product line to launch this fall.


Today I went to my niece’s open house for her high school graduation.  While there, I was talking with my dad.

He and Mom are having some work done on their new place and had their builder, Paul, over to check things out.  Paul is a former neighbor of ours, when we lived next door to my Grandpa and Grandma’s farm.  My parents built their house on the water (Paul was their builder) and moved from our house in that neighborhood.  Paul continued to live just around the corner from our old house there.  Grandma and Grandpa had sold their farm several years before my parent’s move and the new owners did extensive renovation to the farm, making it truly stunning.

Paul mentioned he had been asked to check out the farm for repairs.  Apparently the owners had let their daughter live in the farm house and she turned the place into a meth house.

Yes.  I said a METH HOUSE.

My Grandpa and Grandma’s home where they raised six children.  The home of so many of my childhood memories.  Made into a meth house.

And in such a beautiful neighborhood.  The houses there are all very expensive and well maintained.  The farm was the smallest of the homes on the street, but it was always pristine.  The reason there are so many homes there now is because Grandpa sold the farm and it was subdivided.

Paul, as I mentioned, still lives in the neighborhood.  He said he noticed things were “funny” there.  Cars parked willy-nilly everywhere, some almost to the road.  That’s significant because the farm is way back off the road.  There would be all kinds of activity there during the night, but very little activity there during the day.  A lot of traffic to the house-which is very odd given it’s rural location.

Apparently the owner-whether a new owner or the original, I don’t know-wanted Paul to just slap some cosmetic stuff to the place to get it looking alright.

The farm house has been utterly destroyed.  Paul said he just walked in and started looking around-without touching anything at all-and racked up $40,000.00 in repairs just glancing around.  The owner said well can’t you just make it look alright?  Paul said, “No.  It should be leveled and you should start over.  There is no way to repair this place cheaply.  It would be more cost effective to demolish it and begin again.”  And he left.

I’m not even sure you can legally go into a place like that and work on it.  It’s toxic.  I think you have to have a haz-mat crew in there before you can do anything at all.  The owner has a real mess on his hands, that’s for sure.

My heart is broken, thinking of the farm and how hard my Grandparents worked on that place.  Breaks my heart, I tell you.


Organization, it ROCKS!

Part of my problem is I have stuff everywhere and can’t find what I need when I need it.  So I have begun the monumental task of clearing out, cleaning up and organizing everything in my work room.

It is a daunting challenge, to say the least, as there is only a pathway to walk through right now.  Today I organized some patterns-my own creations which I had strewn about the place.  This did not make a huge dent in the vast amount of stuff everywhere, but now I have a nice tiny area where my patterns are labeled, categorized, and in order.  The smallest ones fit in the 1×2″ storage boxes from Dollar Tree.  You get two for a buck.  Four of those fit into a container with a lid.

These four little boxes and the larger box cost a total of 3 bucks.  Pretty good deal, I thought.

These are fantastic storage solutions, they stack upon themselves beautifully, hold a surprising amount of stuff and look neat and tidy on the shelf or bookcase.  I have eight of the larger boxes holding four smaller boxes each.  Four of the large boxes hold my hand made beads, but I have so many more of those to glaze I will need at least double that amount to hold the rest of them.  I separated the beads by colors and/or by paper type.  Because I like to decorate my beads, some are waiting for that step and are in boxes labeled that way.

I also bought 20 “shoe box” plastic totes from Walmart a while back for .69 cents each. Maybe more than 20, I can’t remember right now it was several months ago.  Those fit on my book case shelves 5 wide and double stacked.  There is several inches left above the top of the second box, but not enough to fit a third.  Another great storage solution for smaller items.  I use those to hold my bottles of beads, cut up pieces to create doll furniture and accessories, watercolor paint tubes, recycled materials, puppetry materials, small tools, glue sticks, kids colored pencils and crayons, kids art supplies, small ink pads and stamps, etc.

When I put a project away, I make sure I have everything included in the project so when I pull it out I can jump right in to it without having to hunt for anything.  This means I have a scissors, pencils, glue sticks, tape, whatever is necessary for that project packed up with it.  Yes, this meant I had to buy $25.00 worth of three dollar scissors at Walmart and the industrial sized carton of glue sticks and tape, but for me it’s worth it.  I can grab what I want to work on, jump right in knowing everything is all there.  I work on the project until I am finished or bored with it, clean it up and put everything back into the storage I have chosen for that project.  Whether that’s in one of the kids old backpacks, a cardboard box, or a .69 cent plastic “shoe box” from Walmart.  Then next time I want to work on that particular thing it’s-again-all ready for me to do.

While this isn’t the most exciting or fun post, it is really nice to see a neatly organized place in this chaos.  Although it took the better part of the day to do, it still feels like I accomplished something productive.  Beside that:

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time!

I took a bite.