Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wearing Purple

Today is Wear Purple Day.  I am wearing purple, to honor the memories of the 6 teens whose lives ended as a result of bullying for being gay.  Asher, Raymond, Tyler, Billy, Justin & Seth Rest in Peace & may your memories continue to inspire the world to keep moving forward towards peace & harmony.

I have also taken this day as an inspiration to create a purple treasury to honor them and to further spread the message and speak to the world of the preciousness of every spirit.

A wise woman, who is a devout Christian, when discussing the horror of the bullying and the lives lost, told me a few weeks ago that "God made them, and God does not make anything he hates."  If we could all recognize the wisdom of that statement.  In the mean time those of us with caring hearts and voices need to keep spreading peace & acceptance of all people no matter what their sexuality, race, faith might be.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bleeding Heart

"My heart bleeds" ... for so many reasons.  It's October which means it's Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Which my sister & daughter both volunteer for, my sister's dedication to the cause is inspiring.  I love that my daughter willingly gives her Mother's Day weekend to volunteer with my sister and sometimes my brother for the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure.  I am supporting it in a smaller way.  For the month of October  will donate 20% of the proceeds of all jewelry in my Etsy shop and all pink items.  A dear friend bought a necklace as soon as she heard - thank you Karen!!! There are still more pink necklaces listed Pretty in Pink Breast Cancer necklace

The news has had too many stories that make my heart bleed.  The dictionary says a "bleeding heart" is a person who shows extravagant sympathy especially for an object of alleged persecution.  That works for me.  The stories of all those poor kids being tormented, beaten, outed for being different.  Not all of them were or are gay, bullies don't need or want facts their fear of people who are "different" is often enough to make them lash out and hurt people.  Why???  Who knows, I bet there are more reasons than there are bullies or kids being bullied.  Karen and I were bullied as kids, it made me stronger and more sensitive, but I don't want anyone else to have to endure it.  Some kids who are bullied turn around and bully others.  When my kids have been bullied or witnessed bullying I have tried to discuss possible reasons the bullies do what they do, and reassure them that it will get better, as people mature there are fewer bullies in any given group.  I wish I could say that there are no adult bullies, but most of us have worked with or for a bully at some time in our lives.  But most of us find a way to cope or move on to a different job/school.

I have been moved by some of the beautiful videos made for the "It Gets Better" campaign.  While listing a new Rainbow Pride Necklace in my Etsy shop this week I was inspired to make a treasury with that theme.

It gets better

It Gets Better

The response to this treasury was overwhelming to me, for a little while it was ranked "hot" enough to make it to the front page of the treasuries.  Many of the comments made me cry, and some made me proud.  Among the comments came some new information to me, there is a  QueerEtsyStreetTeam , they have a shop.  All of the proceeds of this shop support the Trevor Project.  The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

I don't ask you to support any of my causes, but that you take a moment to support a cause that your care about.  No matter how small your gesture of support may be it will make a difference. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pondering what it takes to be a success in life?

Goodness it's been a long time since I've posted anything.  Most days I think I'm going to get around to posting something but then I get distracted by a "to do" list longer than my day.  Why is it that all the little stuff takes up so much more time than you think it will?

If you've been following me you will know that it's marching band season and this year I am serving my first year as the Music Booster President.  Eeep!  How did that happen?  I'm not sure, I keep asking myself how I found myself in this position and my oldest is still only in 10th grade.  (Wait, did I say only in 10th grade - how did she get that old?  It feels like weeks ago that she was in elementary school.)

Oh well, here we are deeply into the marching band season, practices to drive kids to & from, flags to cut, pin, sew, football games & competitions to chaperone, events to plan, fundraisers to participate in, and so on. Clearly I spend a fair amount of my time dealing with my kids school stuff.  So, today  I'm pondering what education gets us at the end of the day?

I'm continuing my struggle to balance the urge to create with my lack of business skills that would enable me to make a living from creating.  A couple of years ago I attend a seminar for artists trying to be entrepreneurs, I think the most enlightening/depressing moment was when we were informed that to be a "successful artist" we should spend approximately 70% of our time being business people.  Ack!  I have long felt that each person is given a certain amount of skills that come naturally.  Some of us are gifted musicians, some artists, some business persons, some chefs, some teachers, some doctors/nurses, etc. and naturally we gravitate to things we are good at doing, but is that enough?  I don't think so. We can all learn new skills, if we put our minds and hearts and time into the process.  Some of those additional skills must be business oriented no matter where your gifts are or your inclinations direct you.  But, why is it so hard for many of us to wrap our brains around some of the most basic business concepts? I can make beautiful objects or teach interesting classes but I have yet to learn a successful strategy to promote those things so I can actually earn a living from them.

I wonder if they could offer basic principles of business as a standard school subject?  Think about it, a lot of kids hate school because they see very little practical purpose behind studying history or sciences that they know they will never ever use when they graduate.  I personally see all learning as a positive and would never suggest we remove them from the curriculum anywhere.  But we will all need to balance our checkbooks, keep track of budgets and learn how to sell/promote ourselves - even if only to HR people when we are applying for jobs.  This is no longer a world where you take one job that will last for your lifetime.  Most people will have not just multiple jobs in their lives but multiple career tracks, changing focus at least once if not several times.  The one core is that we will still have to manage the businesslike details of life no matter the field you are pursuing. 

Beyond that, we also have to make our lives outside of work a success.  Are we still preparing people to do that?  Wouldn't it be interesting if schools returned basic life sustaining classes to the curriculum?  I know it's hard to create standardized tests for things like sewing & cooking, but we could all benefit from learning those dying arts.  Once upon a time we all had to take "Home Ec" classes and some of us had to take "shop" classes because they were preparing us for our careers as "homemakers" or machinists/laborers.  The world has changed and those shop classes are not the career prep they once were.  Those "Home Ec" classes are looked back on as quaint, but in reality we could really use them now.  They are not "bird courses" that you can just fly through without paying attention.  In this busy world few parents have time (or skills) to cook and therefore can't pass those skills on to their kids, and fewer have the skills to sew a garment or even fix a hem or sew a button.  I can't count the number of college kids I helped learn to cook or even do their own laundry, those things I could help with; but heaven forbid anyone asked me to help write write a resume, apply for a job/grant or for help with sales or interview skills. 

I look at my daughter's intimidating honors/AP class schedule and can't think where you could squeeze in a class on basic life skills, and wonder how I can teach her the aspects that I am still struggling to learn myself?  Am I alone?  Are mine the only kids who are getting a "good education" but without some of those most basic life/business skills to actually make a success of their lives? 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fun with needle felting

Like I need a new technique to get obsessed by...
A few weeks ago my doll club had a workshop on needle felting.  I've been using felting needles to attach hair to my dolls for years, but I've never really made an entire figure/creature with nothing but those barbed needles.  The gnome was the project we did in the workshop.  My friend Jenny teased me that I could not start small and simple but had to dive in and make a fully dressed figure on my first try.  I moved to smaller with the next try - the tiny little dragon in the center of the above picture.  After that little dragon I had to go buy some more wool so I could branch out.  I'm still working on mastering the technique, getting the armiture covered and still keep the bulk down is a problem for me.  But practicing is fun, so I guess I'll just keep going till I get it right.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Long time no see

The kids are back in school, I'm catching up on my neglected Etsy shop and other things.  Now it's time to get caught up on the blog.  If I'm good there will be a flurry of new postings and then a steady at least weekly post.  A few minutes ago I found out about a new app that lets me post workable Etsy treasuries on my blog.  So, I thought that would be a fun first post of the newly determined blogger.  Let's see how this works. 

Generated using Treasure Trove by

Monday, August 2, 2010

A week of peace and beauty

My sister took my kids to the beach for a week, and my husband and I took off for a week of camping.  We spent a few days at the Beaver Pond campsite in New York, and a few days at Storrs Pond, in New Hampshire.

While the kids were enjoying the delights of amusement piers and the beach my husband and I spent days driving, walking, and sitting enjoying more peaceful enviornments and the staggering beauty mother nature provides. 

If only there were more moments available to stop and really appreciate nature.  Of course enjoying the outdoors is so much easier when the weather is nearly perfect - highs in the upper 70s and lows in the low 50s (farenheit). 

The deer around Beaver Pond are fearless adventurers (or trained that campers are frequently good sources of food) and came into the campground and wandered between campsites - usually first thing in the morning and sometimes at dinner time.  The red squirrels at Storrs Pond are brazen little so-in-sos and actually scampered right up to our picnic table - paused to look at us and then - if you please- onto the table and explored everything we had out.  We did not have any food actually out but that did not prevent him from exploring everything.

As usual I took my camera with me just about everywhere and spent a lot of time shooting pictures of treestumps and the dappled light through trees, and even a few shots of toadstools and of course the deer and squirrels.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How can summer vacation be busier than the school year?

My kids finished school on May 28th.  We had a quiet entry into the "lazy days of summer" and allowed ourselves a week or two of quiet times.  We watched TV & movies did some reading for fun (NOTHING from the official reading lists they have to deal with before returning to school) then the summer camps started. 

The schedule seemed much more manageable on paper in the spring than it's felt as the summer steams along.  None of the camps that the kids were signed up for were for more than 3 hours a day, and the longest one was only 3 weeks.  The fact that they are scheduled so closely together that some weeks there were over laps (there was one week that 3 camps at once) was expected to be and indeed proved to be the biggest scheduling challenge.  That said that ,week of the 3 camps was a logistical issue for me more than the kids as each kid had only 2 camps.  They both had art camp in the morning, my son had rowing camp in the afternoon and my daughter marching band mini camps in the evening. 

It might have been easier if I was simply doing the "mom's taxi" and generally supportive mom in the background. But no, I am teaching art classes in the same art camp my kids are attending.  Teaching is a mixed blessing for me.  I love to watch the enthusiasm some kids approach their projects with.  I love to see them grow enthusiastic over projects they looked quite skeptical about when I was introducing them.  But I have to find a place in my heart to overcome my frustration when some kids don't try or don't understand my explanations.  I don't think I am cut out to be an elementary school art teacher.  I love to watch the kids growth but I don't have the right kind of temperament or mind set at this point in my life to deal with blank stares and idle hands all year long.  All that said, this year I've been blessed with kids who seem to want to be in my class, not just kids whose parents wanted to give them something to do. 

One of my favorite moments so far this art camp was seeing an impish grin when I asked one of my students if wet felting was her favorite project.  We made wet felted beads the first day of class, and just about every day that she's finished a bit early she's requested more wool and made one or more wool balls.  Today she had some that she made last week that were bone dry and she glued them into the bristly acorn caps from the sawtooth oak.  We are needle felting eyes onto the balls and they are adorable.

Another great moment was to see one of my returning students (from previous year's classes) literally l jump for joy when I told her were were going to bubble paint and paint with marbles.  Bubble painting is pretty much what it sounds like - we paint with bubbles.  I have shallow bowls with a solution of acrylic paint, water and dish washing soap.  The kids get a straw and some paper.  They are actually told to blow bubbles into the soapy paint water and when the bubbles are an inch or two above the lip of the bowls they touch the paper to the bubbles.  The effect is a bit different every time but you always end up with a nearly magical print of a cross section of a mound of colored bubbles.  If you get enough people blowing paint bubbles it sounds like a cartoon science lab. 

I spend more time then I probably should rethinking my projects, hoping that I can find 10 days of projects that every kid will like or get something from learning.  That's probably a bit unrealistic.  The way my class is structured we do a different technique every day, some days we do several.  Monday we did mono-prints using paint & bubbles, and marbles, stencils and sponge painting, and even with 4 techniques I still had a couple of kids try everything once and decide that was enough and do no more, even if there was 30 minutes left in class.  Well, I think one of them finished early to return to wet felting wool.  Today we started doing collages, we do collages in some form every year.  Largely in part because a couple of my regular students would be very distressed if I took them out of the line up.  When one of those regulars saw the room set up this morning she visibly glowed with excitement.  That is always a good way to start a class.

Something must be going well because I've had a couple of mothers ask if I ever taught this class for adults, and a couple tell me they could not wait until their younger kids were old enough to sign them up.

If you have been following my earlier posts you will know that I am a "band mom" with all the commitment that could possibly entail.  As of June 1st I am now the president of the high school music boosters.  It's a bit daunting and I hope I can live up to the expectations of the more experienced boosters and to my own expectations.  There will be a lot of work, actually there has already been a fair amount of work inventorying and cleaning uniforms, finding them after the school changed the uniform storage without telling anyone where they had hid/stored them.  But the parents I've worked with so far are a great group and the kids are as hard working and dedicated a group of teens as I've ever had the privilege to work with. 

Next week art camp will be over for another year (unless I do end up offering an adult mixed media class), the kids will be at the beach and we have one quiet week before band camp starts on August 2nd.  School resumes on August 18th and bam! summer will be over.

But I hope to enjoy what's left of this hot, humid & insanely busy season - I hope you enjoy what ever season you are experiencing right now!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Squirrels in my head

Have you ever had trouble falling asleep or woke too early because your head was full of ideas that you could not shut away?  It happens to me fairly regularly; usually it's when I'm really tired and desperately want to fall asleep, or if I have to get up early for something important so I go to be earlier than usual (before midnight).  The less common breed of squirrels invade my sleep and wake me earlier than I need to wake up.  This morning I was woken by a scurry of squirrels (a group of squirrels is called a scurry - now you can say learned something new today!) all with different inspirations to communicate.

I've been pondering how to make my fae art dolls wearable.  Many things have me thinking in that direction - having majored in Jewelry/Metals in college I seem to be naturally drawn to making wearable art, and observing sales at Faerie Con last year - if you could wear it it was more likely to sell - especially before & during the balls.

So, this morning, I had a scurry of eager squirrels that would not let me sleep.  Now I have 6 pages of thumbnail sketches with notes, 3 on wearable fae (jewelry, hair accessories, hats, clothing) 2 pages of things like fae ring bearer pillows, fae treasure boxes mobiles, frames ...) and one page of display ideas for future shows. 

This afternoon I started playing with hat ideas ... what do you think???

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Proud and busy Mamma

I could not be prouder of my kids.  They never cease to amaze me.  Last week my daughter was confessing to me that she thought she had been lazy this school year and that she could have done more.  Well, who could not say as much about themselves?  Yet later in the week she was called forward during the awards ceremony at her school because of her status as one of the top 20 GPAs in her grade.  I did a bit of math and her top 20 GPA relative to the number of kids in her class puts her in the top 3%. - Yeah uh huh, that's my definition of Lazy.  I wonder what she could have done if she had tried harder?

My son, no slouch, despite rarely having homework (he insists he gets it done in school before he leaves) seems to be getting his share of work done too.  He walked away from his awards ceremony with a perfect attendance certificate, a certificate for Excellence in Math and one for Outstanding in Science!

Last week was the last Music Booster meeting that I will attend from a seat - next month I step into the role of Booster President.  My sister likes to tease me and remind me I could have turned it down, while my husband reassures me I'll do a great job.  My sister - teasing me because she knows that there is no way that I will see my term as booster president through without putting a lot of work into it.  Maybe I should have reminded her of the hundreds of hours she has dedicated to Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure as a volunteer? 

While chaperoning my daughter's band(s) to Weekend in Wildwood some of the instructors thanked me (and the other boosters) for all the time and work we do to help keep the music programs running.  I pointed out to one of them as we walked down the boardwalk right after one of the competitions, that it's my job as a parent to help my children, to support them in all they hope to achieve.  I can't give them a trust fund, but I can let them know that I believe in them and will be there for them (even if it means riding home from very long days soaked on less than comfortable school buses at goodness knows what hour). 

Many of us achieve success by overcoming obstacles, but few of us dare to take on those obstacles without someone to encourage us or challenge us to do our best or just to try.

So, I will continue to support and challenge my kids and along the way I reap incalculable rewards, just watching my kids (the ones I gave birth to and all the others who make up an ever growing extended family) take on challenges, learn from mistakes and sometimes glory in successes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Myth and Nature - Transformed

I had the very great pleasure of attending the artists reception of my friend Jenny Davies-Reazor's solo exhibition.  The show is at the Newark Arts Alliance and is running from May 4th until the 29th.  The show was a delight on many levels, my children have been taking ceramics classes with Jenny for years, and most people think of her as working primarily with clay.  While she still makes shrines and figures from clay this show was dominated by a variety of mixed media collages.  Every where you turn there was beauty to soak in and meanings to ponder. 
The last shot is Jenny's selkie collage and my own selkie.