Sunday, December 30, 2007

handmade joy to me!

I gratefully received many thoughtful gifts this year, but of course love the handmade ones best. It's just a continuing and acknowledged fact. My first holiday gift (so it gets first billing; I'm not playing favorites here, gifters!) was a fantastic lariat from one of the art students I spent time with in the ceramics studio this semester. I gave her a few of my porcelain doves and she made me a necklace. I love love love love love it.

(That clink of porcelain that it gives is my new favorite sound. I'm trying to think of more original unglazed porcelain bits. These doves made me super-happy. Look at the great work at paloma's nest--the dove bowls! craft peace!--or diana fayt's lovelies. I need to figure a mobile or strand like these in her apartment.)

Both of my girls made, unassisted except by each other, versions of the two things they know I love best: doves and hedgehogs. My favorite thing about Audrey's dove is the little tied-off wings. And the D for dove and M for mom foamie facial features...(I finally found a foamie application I like!)Marian is still going to sign hers, but I must share them both now. Oh, man, was she adorable about the whole thing. Daily, this: "Mom, I know you really like your hedgie I made you. It's your favorite present." I love the eyes looking up, and (thought this photo kind of washes it out) the careful blend of different colors in the quilt "heggie" is sitting on: I'm always trying to get her to mix colors for visual interest, and she did it just for me :).Daddy got his favorite thing, too. Marian had me take a picture of his favorite bike, his new Specialized cyclocross, and whipped out this likeness.This last was a commissioned piece, but ooo such a good idea of mine because my mom, working at the school this fall, didn't have time to apply her considerable skill to many handmade gifts. By begging for it in July, I had first dibs on that limited time!She made a cute little "Happy Holly Days" pillow that was similar last year in an early Christmas package, and we were sad to put it away after those holly days. I like having a sweet something from my mom around all of the time, and this is so her, especially with the lettering in her perfect round handwriting. Nathan and I both love Ed Abbey, and (when forced to come up with something a few years back) chose this quote as our family motto. We were tickled by the idea of the irony in Abbey's rebellious spirit coupled with the traditional embroidered media, and both laughed with joy when we opened this gift. My mom's comment on the phone that day: "Oh, do you like it? Good. I thought all of the cutesy things would give you a good contrast." They do, Mumsy. Plus, those bees! Your craftsmanship still amazes me. Sometimes I start thinking I'm such hot stuff at handwork and then you humble me... Nathan was so funny today. He was staring at the pillow and asked, "What, is this just lots of little stitches or something? Those curves are so smooth." I think I love best his un-craft-educated compliments. I make him look at lots of work, my own and others, and love it when he's just amazed.

holiday notes:
(1) It is gloriously frosty and snowy outside after a dry holiday.
(2) I'm working on my blog because my husband is consistently whomping my p'tootie at Carcassone and I had to leave and pout. I bought Audrey the hunters and gatherers edition for Christmas, and my woodland loving aesthetic is happy for every second of play, even if I can't quite pull it off. Maybe the sweet woodsy trees distract me...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

teacher gifts

Our school got new magnetic white boards this year to replace the chalkboards in all of the classrooms. I noticed that the girls' teachers had few (and hodgepodge) magnets, so we decided on a set as Christmas presents. It's an old idea (I think Family Fun featured it 3 or 4 years ago and I've seen tons since then), but a good way to share wee drawings.
I started with strong ceramic magnets, then traced a series of them in the clear margins of scrap paper to make templates for the girls to fill. They chose their five favorites (mostly pencil and watercolor) and trimmed them. I used E6000 silicon glue (which starts super stinky, but dries acid-free) to paste drawings to magnets, then squished on clear glass half marbles. The marbles give a cool fish-bowl effect to the drawings. I had forgotten how the edges get lost; next time we'll remember to leave larger margins. Packaged 'em up in guessed it... origami boxes. Candy cane striped with cheery red yarn.
Marian's drawings for her teacher include the 3 class turtles: Hop, Pop, and Yertle. I also gave her teacher a turtle surprise mug to thank her for her patience and flexibility with my daily visits to the classroom to feed Marian during her math lesson. She is a blessing.

friend gifts

We made our friend-gift holiday deliveries on the 23rd & 24th. For the young women in the church class I teach on Sundays, a wee porcelain dove, threaded with gold silk cord. Porcelain doves are a traditional gift for me, and I love how they turned out this year. I made some big ones as well that I included with goodie boxes, but I loved (surprise) the wee ones best. They were so fine and delicate and even a bit translucent; the light on my Christmas tree shone through.

Doves are my favorite Christmas symbols: wishing peace on earth, and maybe even daring to hope for it in my jumbly tumbly heart.

Goodies this year were packaged in origami boxes made from a 12x12 scrapbook page: peppermint meringues (that I ate way too many of), almond orange shortbread, dark chocolate truffles. The truffles were all going to be hedgehogs, too, and some made the metamorphosis, but the girls' hands got tired...

celebrating crepes

Christmas was as lovely as I had hoped, and highlighted with the last-minute arrangement that brought the marvelous Nyborg family to our home to share a salmon dinner & an easily . Nyborgs were our best friends during the second Provo, UT era of our lives. Then we headed to Nashville & they to Florida, but our changing lives have just recently brought us a quick hour-and-a-half on the freeway apart. We met and bonded on the back row of the chapel with our wiggly babies who were happier finding a bit of floor space there, and the first two years of those babies' lives featured a lot of camping and good food together. Jeri introduced us to the perfect tradition of Sunday night crepes, and I still use her recipe. The photo above shows my plate this morning, with my preferred filling (and also shows one of the sleek forks from my new husband-gifted flatware!). Audrey dumps a cup of powdered sugar and a bit of coconut on hers. After a bit of other-recipe crepe frustration, Jeri's recipe (from her brother who was a missionary in France, if I remember correctly) is slick and reliable. I make it from memory now, but I believe it's the original:

Jeri's Sunday Night Crepes

Heat pans to medium (on my stove, anyway), lightly spritz with olive oil. Or butter heavily :).

Mix in large bowl:
1 c. flour (substituting wheat has been a sticky mess, so it's bleached for me)
1 t. salt
1/4 c. sugar

Mix the liquids:
1 c. milk (I use powdered milk to rotate my food storage)
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
2 T. canola oil

Add liquid gradually into dry ingredients, starting with a small amount and whisking it constantly to keep smooth. Add a small amount of water or milk to a pourable consistency. Scoop about 1/3 c. of batter into a hot skillet and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Flip when the edges just start to brown and cook lightly on the other side.

Monday, December 24, 2007

still lovin' the acorn babies

We've been able to find great continuing application for all of the acorn baby blanks left over from the fall festival. Besides the 1st/2nd grade creative activities afternoon, I think Christmas crafts were a natural match. Marian made this little Santa for her dance class's annual homemade ornament exchange, as well as a nativity set for her grandmother. Of course, I made one, too (above), and 2 families came over to make their own. Shannon finished hers at home, so I didn't get a pic (yet!), but here is the one the Lyman kiddies made for their mother for Christmas. Last year, I helped them make polymer clay gingerbread men set, and the year before (before I moved to PA & became their craft maven), a sock snowman set. I think it's a sweet tradition. Check out the cow & sheep--also from acorns (cow horns even acorn stems!). I want that cow, but Mike (Lyman dad & cow creator) won't agree...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Elf central

Present making is in full swing at our house. Sunday morning was full of crafty love as the girls worked on their cousin gifts (we draw names on my side of the family). Audrey is done (and her own fresh idea; she's been stuck on the pig idea for a month but wasn't satisfied until this came along). Marian's will be finished tomorrow.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

etsy in the NY Times

an interesting spot on etsy in the New York Times.

70,000 sellers, I find (I've been telling people 10 K, but I got my information this summer).

Record breaking sales every day in December.
Luckily, same for me :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007


I posted the last of this year's pottery (excepting a couple of wee vases & bowls that will emerge when I have more time) in the shop yesterday. Ta da! It's been a good year for me, pottery-wise. I'll show off a couple of Christmas projects when the gifts have been given, but I thought I'd post a couple of process shots I took while working.

sweet wee animals (I always finish these in the wee hours, hence the lovely light).
mug handles drying (there is great natural light in the studio, though the students always come in and flip the switch anyway. No appreciation!)
trimmed pots waiting for those handles
cool trimming action shotSee that tiny black spray bottle on the wheel? I've had it since Junior High, when the gym teacher was passing out shampoo, etc. samples in the locker room one day. Jose Eber leave-in hair conditioner stuff. I (we were an all-White Rain house, usually) loved that stuff, luxurious in my book, but I've loved the little spray bottle more. A reliable, fine mist--> and 20 years later. Sheesh, I'm getting old!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

hoffman gallery

I work in the ceramics studio at the university where my husband is faculty, trading studio upkeep (okay, just cleaning) for the use of the place. I still want my own studio, but I really love working there and seeing the students' enthusiasm and ideas and benefiting from the talent and occasional tutelege of the so kind Ben Culbertson, the ceramics instructor. This week was the student holiday art sale at the Hoffman Gallery. Weather this week cut into business, but I really enjoyed the morning I worked the sale. And coveted paintings...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

spot of lovely

sometimes I make something just for me.
this bowl makes me very happy.
and has found its first perfect spot on my dresser, holding a necklace a new friend made for me with one of this year's dove ornaments.

a spot of loveliness on a very difficult day; i called today to schedule a bone marrow transplant for my daughter. we felt very confident in the decision, but now, in the quiet of my own evening, i can barely breathe.

we're artists here

Last weekend, the icy wind kept us watching from the car during Nathan's cyclocross race (this week, he got the silver medal in the state race. woohoo!). Marian was happy once I found her pen and paper.

Later, she braved the cold a bit to chant "go, daddy. go, daddy. go, daddy...."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

snowy chandelier

My version of indoor snow.

I was inspired a couple of months ago by this little packet at one of the craft chain stores, and, after these bowls hung around our dining room a little too long, it's snowing all day long.

It turned out really delicate and lovely.

how to: I sandwiched blue cotton thread between 2 matching sequin/spangles with a q-tip dab of craft glue. I was thinking about adding little origami doves, but in the end decided they should have their own garland. Eventually.

**the walls are all white because we're renting. My husband is itchy to paint, but I have to admit it: I love the crisp look of the walls all white, especially in this photo. What do you think? Too passe?

snow! inside and out

Our school district likes to do this fun thing and let the kids out of school 2 hours early if it snows during the day. If they're trying to say the roads will actually be better at 12:45 than at 2:45 or that this will somehow be more convenient for parents, they are ridiculous. If they just want to let the kids play in the lovely white stuff, then they're very wise.

We were able to snag a friend to come home and enjoy it with us, and after
came the indoor snowflakes.

Eagerly beginning
and the mom-is-tired of folding for you end After which they set out into the backyard again! (they were joined by Nathan/dad, who likes to enjoy the snow on his cross bike, like this. He's crazy.)Marian brought her two favorites to school and offered my snowflake services up to her teacher for the next day's "Creative Activities" hour. And so I came! It was fun with dozens of kids, too.

**My great snowflake innovation is to use tissue paper: though the finished result isn't quite as sturdy, it's good enough to tape up on the windows, looks rather cool pasted on dark paper, and the kids can cut it with much better precision and ease.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas at my house

I thought our house was just so wintry-pretty when I came home after an evening at the pottery studio waitingwaiting for a kiln to cool so I could grab my bisqueware & I could sneak some delicious little porcelain vases and blossom bowls into the gas kiln before it was started tonight. I'm really very excited about them & hope they turn out as lovely as I want them to. Sometimes glazing very wee pots is very tricky; the glaze gets too thick and crawls so very easily with such thin walls.

I digress. Our first winter storm started this morning. More on the snow at our house tomorrow :).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

origami crazy

All over our house right now: origami summer camps. Tents, boats, airplanes, trailers, and lots and lots of swans (Audrey's specialty).

Our favorite 'gami gear right now: a falling-apart origami page-a-day calendar that I bought at Target, 90% off after-Christmas clearance a couple of years ago, and a box of scrapbook paper I cut into dozens of 3, 4, 5, & 6 inch squares. It was one of those super-stacks, and a good use of paper-I-don't-quite-adore that is still fun and colorful.

tiny shop

My first gallery showing! Some of my wee wares were included in tinyshop at the double punch gallery in San Francisco.

The curator's description, which I adore:

double punch gallery presents tinyshop, a pop-up shop curated by Antoinette Celes, showcasing original art and handmade goods by artists, designers and creatives working in the medium of small.

As the world moves bigger, faster and stronger, we occasionally seek comfort in little things. tinyshop celebrates the preciousness of "mini" --- the shortest distance between 2 points, the space of minutiae, and creative endeavors on a small scale.

The curator is tracking the show on her tinyshop blog. My bio isn't up yet, since I sent it to her so late :(... but if you watch the video on this post closely, you can see some of my work. Pause the video on the shelves--fox, hedgies, bunnies, birds!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hamster enjoying some pie on Thanksgiving

Every once in a while, a customer will send me a photo of one of my little bits in their life. I love it.

This (actually one of Marian's creations that she put in my shop) made my day today.
(I was listening to "Ordinary Miracle" at the time. It was all too much goodness)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

acorn babies

My daughter's 1st grade class meets every Friday afternoon with "the big kids" (2nd graders) for Creative Activities. I'm using up the craft supplies left from the Fall Festival to treat them. Last week, it was the darling acorn babies.

Monday, November 12, 2007

crafting in public

I just added to my Google Reader subscription, and was so charmed today by this little essay by Alice of futuregirl, on the subversiveness of crafting in public. Read it (it's short).

I have portable little suitcase tins that fit a wee project or two, and I always cart handsewing or needle-felting along with me. Unlike Alice, I usually do get a lot of questions, especially with the needle-felting ("I'm sorry, but I have to ask: what are you doing?"), but never quite thought about it as craft proselyting. So I loved this little essay! And am happy to report that I am getting converts: after a not-shy 10 year old felted a bird with me last week, I'm bringing supplies for everyone to my daughters' dance class tomorrow: all the waiting moms and grandmas have agreed to try it, too.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

two quotes: a follow up


they'll give a war


nobody will come.


A baby is

God's opinion

that life should go on.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

loving etsy

I just received this package, and could tell just from the outside that I'd need to blog it.

Plus Japanese candy and trinket.

And the wallet is as great as I'd hoped--which is saying something. I had to have this fabric: trees & acorns and squirrels.

As much as I like to make handmade, I have to "buy handmade" sometimes, too. I lovelovelove the "personal touch" culture of etsy, and shop there more than anywhere else.

good mail!!

little girls

I have a weird war dynamic. I hate war and war games and happily label myself a pacifist. But I also have a long-running adoration of soldiers, men & women who are ready to sacrifice everything, who want to help...idealized, but, still, I cry whenever I see one at the airport...

I also have a daughter who logs in time at the hospital regularly.

So I can't get this e-mail forward story out of my mind, whether or not it "matches" my blog. You, my readership of 5, will have to bear with me.

John Gebhardt's wife, Mindy, said that this little girl's entire family was executed. The insurgents intended to execute the little girl also, and shot her in the head, but they failed to kill her. She was cared for in John's hospital and is healing up, but continues to cry and moan. The nurses said John is the only one who seems to calm her down, so John has spent the last four nights holding her while they both slept in that chair. The girl is coming along with her healing.