28 February 2007

Reader's Digest Condensed Rants

The following rants have taken place inside my head in the past 24-48 hours. The Cliff's Notes versions are presented here in more or less chronological order.

Her Bad Mother's Basement: (Not) Living The Dream:

Why is it that mother's are expected to not only put their lives (personal and professional) on hold to raise children or care for aged parents (their own or those of their spouse) but to enjoy it as well? What does it say that if a mom sometimes resents the losses that accompany parenthood, they question their worth and suitability as a parent? I read this confessary post and found myself thinking about all of the women throughout time who have been in a similar position and who have taken it with much less grace. I have no doubt that depression is a major issue in the household described. The thing is, the situation as written is has a lot in common with my own. The differences, however put us in different worlds... I am blessed with a remarkable support system. My mother-in-law (a candidate for sainthood if ever one crossed my path) is kind enough to take Sprout on occasion so that I can get work done or accomplish things that are nearly impossible with a toddler in tow. My husband does most of the housework, and is more than willing to keep Sprout busy while I do what I need to get done. I have friends (one in particular) who I visit and enjoy spending time with so that I don't feel so isolated.

I wrote about much of this when I wrote Interruptions Big and Small as part of my attempt to become a professional blogger...

A number of smaller rants managed to escape my mind and memory while I was writing the above. The most recent of my ravings, however, had to do with visiting a craft shop in an unsuccessful attempt to acquire size 8/0 seed beads so that I could begin knitting a 2nd pair of wrist warmers. What I learned, as I searched high and low for suitable beads, is that in order to merit inclusion in the stock of the average American craft store, one must somehow give the impression that your product is essential to every scrap booker within a 200 mile radius. Since beads are nice occasional accents but far from essential, the selection is minimal and there were only 3 colors of 8/0 sized seed beads in the entire store. Unfortunately, none of those colors would look good with the pretty brown wool that I purchased.

27 February 2007

Can Toddlers Be Fat?

I was flipping channels this evening and stumbled across a show on The Learning Channel called "Tubby Toddlers". I will admit that my first impulse was to just scroll past without even reading the description. Frankly, I find that I have little or no respect for TLC's programming anymore. One Week To Save Your Marriage, Crazy Kids Clips, and the endless series of medical freak shows that they seem to think we'll find entertaining are not my idea of enthralling television viewing.

Professor Paul Gately's research on childhood obesity may be quite valid and valuable. One of my greatest fears is that Sprout will struggle with her weight (and the self-worth problems arising from body image issues) as I have done for most of my life. I honestly believed that I was fat and that I needed to loose weight long before I really was. Genetics aren't on Sprout's side on this issue so I'm hoping that we can give her the tools that she needs to tackle the environmental factors so that she's ahead of the game. I love that she is active and energetic...

The thing is, toddlers are developing in so many areas at once. To put toddlers, or any young child, on a weight loss program seems so very, very wrong to me.

TITLE: Florence / Anna Desmond & Co.,LA.
CREATOR: Anna Desmond & Co., photographer.
LOC CALL NUMBER: LOT 3222, no. 38 [P&P]
LOC REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZC2-5945 (color film copy slide) No known restrictions on publication.
MEDIUM: 1 photographic print : platinum ; 16 x 10

26 February 2007

Knitting with Toothpicks

I just wanted to pop in and post a quick update before I crawled up to bed. After finishing my felted Easter egg, I decided that I needed to show off the results at the fiber shop today. Sundays at Fiberworks are usually a good time to visit and catch up with people. Today was no exception. Arlene spent most of the day teaching spinning to two lovely ladies from Cincinnati while a group of us sat around the table knitting, talking and snacking on pound cake, brownies, and sliced oranges.

I have been eagerly anticipating a knitting class with Maggie since the very first time that I saw her working on a set of beautiful beaded wrist warmers. These lovely accessories have a very Victorian feel and were inspired by similar items made during that period to hide stained or worn cuffs. One of the advantages of learning to make them, or so I keep telling myself, is that learning to work in the round on Double Pointed Needles (DPNs) is the first step to learning to knit socks... (Ok, you don't have to knit socks on DPNs. You can knit socks on circular needles...) I doubt very seriously that I will **EVER** attempt to knit socks. I'm intimidated by the whole concept of trying to follow a pattern that way. There are so many foreign terms involved in sock knitting... heal flap, gusset, kitchener stitch...

On the other hand, I'm having fun knitting these wrist warmers. I'm actually knitting something that requires me to purl. And I'm knitting on #2 knitting needles. They feel so small and fragile in my big clumsy hands. I think that I may actually attempt to make bronze needles to play with. The coolest thing about that idea is that I could actually have multiple sets, and make replacements as needed...

Well, the pillow calls...

25 February 2007


Originally uploaded by MysticSpiral.
I spent a significant portion of my day, today, pouring over antique pattern books looking for inspiration. I'm offering a needle felted Easter egg class at my local Hobby Lobby next month. I need to make class samples for the classes that I will be teaching and wanted to do something festive for the Easter egg sample. As much as I would have loved to do something like this motif, or any of the others from this pamphlet, I think that it would probably have been overkill. I'm not sure how well **I** could translate the pattern to an egg form. I'm pretty certain that I couldn't teach someone else how to do it.

In the end, I settled for a buttery yellow and pale lilac background with 3 dimensional roses felted on. I haven't decided yet whether I want to display the egg in an egg cup, or if I'd rather string it on a ribbon as an ornament.

Next on the project list, some form of embellished garment that I can leave at Hobby Lobby to demonstrate the concept of "Needle Felting as Decorative Embellishment" for the 3rd class. I'm really hoping that these classes attract some attention and that there is at least moderate attendance. I love teaching at Arlene's but I need to find a way to boost my income and I always end up spending as much at the shop as I make on the class.

We spent a couple hours at the Y swimming and letting Sprout play in the tunnel room and with the tumbling mats. As a consequence, I'm more than ready for sleep. I think that I'll stop at the thrift shop on my way to Fiberworks tomorrow to see if I can find something fun to felt onto for my last class sample.

24 February 2007

More Easter eggs

More Easter eggs
Originally uploaded by hale_popoki.
I found this beautiful picture of easter eggs while I was poking around Flickr and thought that, in the absence of a picture of the needle felted egg that I'm working on, this would make a lovely visual. (I love the "Blog this photo" feature on Flickr... I guess that's kinda obvious by now since I've used it quite a few times. I just have so much fun looking through pictures and seeing so many different points of view... 90% of the time I don't even know what I'm going to blog about when I hit the "Blog This" button...)

I went to Hobby Lobby today with 3 written class descriptions and a puppet as a class model. I've figured out that I'm going to create patterns to simplify the puppet process since we'll only have an hour and 45 minutes for the entire puppet class.

One of the classes that I'm offering is a needle felted easter egg class. I saw these fun egg cups at Target and I'm going to use one as a display for the class model. (Made with wool that I picked up at Hobby Lobby so that the model would showcase product from the store...)

I also shopped for a quazi-nuno felt project while I was there. I'm really excited about it, but it's going to take some work and it will probably be a pretty involved process.

On a completely different note, Rob (one of the founders of Etsy) did an interview with CBS recently. Here's the entry in the Etsy blog about the interview with a link to the video.

22 February 2007

Report From the Potty Training Front Lines

The weather around here continues to leave me feeling a bit like the whole world is wrapped in a shroud. The air is warm and humid and it hangs thickly above slowly receding snow. It reminds me a little of looking out the window of a plane as you pass through the clouds just after take off, or before landing. The air looks too thick to breathe.

Which probably accounts for my desire to curl up into a little ball with Sprout on my lap and the shawl I just finished knitting wrapped around us both. It's a dangerous thing to do, however, sitting with a toddler in "big girl panties" on your lap when she's on a potty strike. It feels a little like today was a study in "one step forward, three steps back" on the potty training front. Sprout seemed determined that she would not step foot into the bathroom unless dragged by the hair. (A tactic which, no matter how tempting, I refused to take...)

To be honest, I think that this was really about showing mama who's boss... We got up this morning and Sprout's pull-up had leaked all over her sleeper. I stripped her down and cleaned her up, and snuggled her under the covers for a few minutes just to enjoy the feel of her skin against mine. We then ventured downstairs where I gave her a choice of shirts to wear and a choice of underpants or pull-up. When she chose the underwear, I reminded her that she had to tell me when she needed to go to the bathroom. I asked her if she wanted to go and she declined. A couple minutes later, she was standing in a puddle in the living room.

I tried several approaches to the whole question of going into the bathroom. Every time she answered with denial that she needed to go and refusal to humor me by going anyway. Not long after breakfast, I again suggested a field trip to the potty and she again refused only to release the contents of her bladder moments later while she sat on the floor. I put her in a pull-up (over her protests) and suggested that we'd try underwear again after her nap since she seemed tired and unable to concentrate.

A short nap later, we tried the "Big Girl Panties" again only to repeat our earlier experiences. Four pairs of soiled toddler briefs in a single day is the limit of my patience. I put her in another pull-up and gave up for the day.

How did we go from a landmark success day, with no less than 5 potty triumphs, yesterday to today's dismal failures... I'm sure that I'm doing something wrong. We have plans to be out of the house tomorrow so we're doomed to another pull-up day. For now, I'll stop worrying about it and just accept that today didn't live up to the promise of yesterday and tomorrow isn't even in the running.

TITLE: Chicago, Illinois. An unusually heavy fog in the early afternoon
CALL NUMBER: LC-USW3- 012514-E [P&P]
CREATOR: Delano, Jack, photographer.
PART OF: Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)

20 February 2007

Somewhat overdue...

Tonight's puppet class didn't fly. I'll admit to being a bit disappointed but not that much, I guess. I spent about an hour visiting with the shop owner (my friend and fiber mentor) before going to get my sweetie and our darling little angel. I stopped at the craft shop near my parents' house to inquire about possibly teaching there, and may be stopping at another local craft shop to look into teaching needle felting there as well. I've also decided that I need to develop at least one, and maybe more, of my puppet designs into an actual pattern that I could sell either on its own or as a part of a kit. (If it goes well, maybe I could raise enough money to pay for my print coop membership **AND** pick up a nice folding spinning wheel as well...)

The weather today was strange. Temperatures reached into the 40s and we had rain, so much of the snow that has been adversely influencing my mood has melted. The warmth of the air combined with the cold of the snow on the ground made for some absolutely amazing fog. When we were driving home tonight, there were places where we felt as though we were driving into a wall of gauze. It was alternately the most peacefully surreal and most terrifying experience I've had in quite some time. The temperature, by that time, was hovering just below freezing. Puddles from the rain and melting snow had a thin crust of ice, it reminded me of the burnt sugar on creme brule and I must have spent 5 minutes crunching the ice with the toe of my shoe while Sprout's daddy got her settled into her carseat. As cool as that ice was while I played in the driveway of my parent's house, knowing that we couldn't see far enough ahead to avoid patches of it on the way home made us super cautious. Even so, I must admit that a part of me wanted to park the car somewhere and just sit and bask in the unique silence that accompanies a heavy fog. I sometimes wish that I could simulate that environment in my studio. There's no telling how much work I could get done.

Speaking of work, Melanie (co-founder of Beads-of-Clay and owner of Earthenwood Studio) worked with Caren from Reliving Moments to create this wonderful video to promote BoC at shows like Bead and Button. I'm really pleased with how it turned out, although the YouTube version doesn't really do it justice.

Graphic at top of page created using http://www.blyberg.net/card-generator/

16 February 2007

Not Much To Report

The big news is We Have Hot Water!!!! I've showered and left my home two days in a row. I'm a confirmed member of the human race. (Doesn't take much to make her happy, does it?) Yesterday, after a quick shower with little water pressure but we'll get that worked out soon, my mom picked me up and we went to the movies to see Music And Lyrics. It was pretty much exactly what you'd expect, and I can't recommend it if you don't already want to see it from the previews. Light-hearted, playful... More mullets than I'd seen since moving out of East Dayton... (We have a neighbor who has been jokingly referred to as "The Mullet King" but since his is the only mullet we regularly encounter these days, it's a marked improvement...) How did I think that a mullet was sexy when I was in high-school... Yes, I realize that it was the 80s but I'm not sure that it's any excuse... Maybe they only work for me when combined with eyeliner... Maybe I was suffering from a lack of oxygen to my brain from the excessive amounts of hairspray everyone in the known world was using at the time...

The image in tonights entry is a necklace that I made for my paternal grandmother, aka "Nanny" while she was in the hospital before she went into the nursing home. The necklace was made with almost all of the pierced porcelain beads that I'd made up to that point. (She loved the beads and I really didn't/don't think that they're salable considering how much time is involved in making them...) When my grandmother died (in 2003) I took the necklace apart and made 3 pendants using individual beads from the necklace. I gave one to my mother and one to my sister. After my sister's wedding, I used another of the beads to make a necklace for her step-daughter which I gave her at breakfast the morning following the wedding. Eventually, when Sprout is old enough for jewelry, I will make a pendant for her as well. Somehow it just seems right that we should all have a part of it.

14 February 2007

Turning Inward

Originally uploaded by MysticSpiral.
I've got a lot on my mind at the moment. The romantic Valentine's dinner that my beloved and I had planned was abandoned in light of the expense of the new water heater and the realization that it really made no sense to spend more on a single meal than would be left in our meager coffers for groceries and gas money for the remainder of the pay period after the water heater was paid for.

Speaking of the water heater... The snow created delays for the installation but we have been informed that the guys will be here late tomorrow morning or early tomorrow afternoon. This means that, if everything goes well, I should be able to shower (in my own home no less) tomorrow late afternoon or early evening. My excitement at this prospect knows no bounds.

After reading a post on Her Bad Mother about the pros and cons of posting pictures of our children in our blogs, I've been thinking a lot about the pictures that I've posted of Sprout and why I want to post them. I'll probably be exploring this more in the near future. At the moment, however, I'm still processing it all so I'll just have to tag this as a "place keeper" and come back to it when my thoughts are clearer.

One of my friends from Beads of Clay has started a new site for promotion and sales of ceramic arts. The site is really, really new, but I think that it has a lot of promise. Anyway, I just wanted to mention Marla's project in case anyone reading the blog would be interested in it. Check out FiredClayArtists.com and if you talk to Marla, tell her Andi said "Hi!"

Today's image, btw, is one of the shell vessels that I uploaded to my Etsy shop this week. I love this clay body so much that I can't stand to cover it up. Instead, I applied a wash made of thinned black glaze mixed with albany slip and then rubbed it off leaving a finish that reminds me of my grandfather's cast iron. The combination of the ornate scrolling texture and that aged wrought iron finish makes me think of the balconies in the French Quarter.

My First Elephant

Originally uploaded by MysticSpiral.
I made this guy in January and have been living with him ever since. I am completely smitten with his soulful brown eyes and his wet-felted tusks. I'm not sure why, but it would appear that he's not really meant to live with us. It feels strange to say it. I love him. I want to keep him. But somehow he's just not settling in and making a place for himself. I think that he may know that there is someone out there who needs him, who will truly be His Person in a way that I cannot. He doesn't seem to be bonding with Sprout, either. In more than a month under the same roof, Sprout hasn't called this guy "Tony" even once.

I've finally faced the fact that mine may not be a house that is elephant friendly. I've listed this guy and a distant cousin in my Etsy shop to try to find adoptive families for them both. In the interim, maybe I should take a break from making elephants for a while until I learn why it is that they don't want to live here with us forever and ever.

12 February 2007

Why I'll Never Be A Seamstress

I'm actually shorter on patience today than I have been in quite some time. This is a very bad thing because Sprout is at her grandmother's for the day so that I could be free to talk with/wander in and out of the basement with the plumbers who were coming to tell us what we'd need to do to have a gas water heater installed in place of our electric water heater. In the end, the numbers ended up convincing us that in spite of our desire to switch from electric to gas, we can't justify the extra expense. (Sigh... The extra day or two waiting for the water heater to be installed wouldn't have been so tiresome had it actually served some purpose.)

I spent some time processing images to upload some of my vessels to my Etsy shop. Unfortunately, I'm suffering from writer's block. I know what I want to write but I just can't seem to make it work right.

I found the sewing machine maintenance kit that I bought and misplaced so I thought, "Ok, I'll work on my sewing project while I try to mentally process what I'm trying to write." So I pulled the old Kenmore machine out, oiled the spots that I'd been told needed oil, and discovered that the belt is slipping and brittle and really needs to be replaced. I was irritated but pretty sure that I'd survive.

I pulled out the little Singer Tiny Tailor which I had thought might be fun for Sprout to play with eventually... My thought was that one of my planned sewing projects was a pretty simple thing and maybe a small success would help me to make some forward progress. I was not to be so lucky. After an hour wasted trying to insert the bobbin/bobbin case, my mild irritation at the Kenmore blossomed into an almost nuclear anger at the Tiny Tailor which I'd been uncertain whether to keep or not. I eventually packed the whole thing back up in its battered box, walked out to the front porch, and pitched it toward the garage with as much force as I could muster. I feel mildly better now that the thing is out of the house. There just isn't room in my life for items that do not do the job for which they were intended.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I've been reminded (in multiple contexts) that setting my blog so that it doesn't accept comments from non-Blogger readers means that I'm making it more difficult to get feedback and input from the visitors to my blog. I set the blog up the way that I did because of concerns about comment spam... Worse comes to worse, there's always comment moderation... [edited to add: Apparently when I changed the settings, they didn't get saved or something so the blog still wasn't accepting comments. I've fixed that, as of 27 February 2007 so we'll see what happens.]

10 February 2007

Waterskiing on Lake Fasimpaur

I had great plans to post something everyday this month... The flood in the basement, the expenses associated with having the water heater replaced, and the fact that we've decided (mutually, after much agonizing and shared distaste) to cancel our romantic Valentine's dinner reservations at The Winds have left me feeling a little at a loss about what to post.

I could further engage everyone in a detailed soliloquy about the psychic damage caused by PCOS/body image issues and the discomfort associated with ingrown nipple whiskers. (But I'm saving that post for Mother Talkers because I want to spread the wealth of my toxic self-esteem.)

At the moment I have a nursling telling me how ready she is for bed. So I'll just apologize for disappearing for 2 days and promise a post tomorrow about the Dayton PrintMaker's Co-Op and an image of one of the motifs that I'm developing for a series of letterpress prints.

Until then, here's a goddess set from 2003 glazed in a beautiful matte glaze from Georgies that is a bluish/purplish periwinkle color with flecks of pink. I need to get more of these glazes... SOON!!!

07 February 2007

Hope springs

Hope springs
Originally uploaded by s2art.
Things around here are not very well organized. A month or so ago, I brought home a sewing machine in need of some TLC. I purchased a sewing machine maintenance kit at the local craft store and brought it home. That is the last clear memory that I have of the kit (with sewing machine oil, extra needles, etc...). I have a small sewing project that I want to tackle so I've been trying to keep an eye out for the bag with the repair kit in it... I am suddenly aware of the number of plastic bags living in my house. That awareness has translated to an increasing awareness of the number of plastic bags in the wild. Once I've finished the sewing project, I'm going to spend some time trying to address the unwanted plastic bags around here. If I can get a handle on the plastic bags in my immediate environment, I can at least assure that none of them will escape into the outside world.

06 February 2007

Two padlocks and cobwebs

Two padlocks and cobwebs
Originally uploaded by Linda6769.
Sometimes the locks and obstacles that we put in place are imaginary. Other times they're very real. The thing is, if you go too long without testing them, you may forget which is which.

I was a freshman in high school when I discovered printmaking. I was in college when I finally faced the realization that the solvents and other chemicals involved in printmaking made me seriously ill. I spent a quarter doing monoprints and dry point etchings trying to minimize the contact and prolong the inevitable but in the end I had to admit that printmaking and I were not destined for happily ever after. I resigned myself to the idea that, although I'd always miss it, I'd have to pursue a different medium.

A couple years ago, I started hearing about some of the developments in water based and eco-friendly printing methods. Recently I've been investigating the possiblities that maybe I can return to my high school love...

Wouldn't it be funny, if I brushed away the cobwebs on those obstacles I've been allowing to stop me all these years, and discover that the padlocks were open all along?

05 February 2007

2000 Bloggers

Yesterday's cold continues its unwelcome visit with our family. That along with temperatures that topped out at about -1 Fahrenheit kept us inside all day. Sprout's no longer just stuffy and coughing so I'm not sure what we'll be doing tomorrow or later in the week. Of course, tomorrow is supposed to bring snow along with temperatures in the negative single digits, so I'm not sure what I'd want to do anyway. I'm really looking forward to spring. I hope that groundhog was right.
I read about the 2000 bloggers project on another blog several weeks ago. When I started seeing referals from them, I couldn't help going and looking for my picture in the collection. It's amazing to me that I recognized anyone amongst hundreds of 50x60 pixel images. I didn't expect even to recognize myself. It's disorienting to scan so many faces looking for your own, knowing that the image chosen to represent you was outside of your control and could have been any photo on your site. Coming on the heels of a period of intense self-examination, it seems to have a little power to remind me that no one looking at me from the outside really gets much more than a glimpse of me anyway.

04 February 2007

Exploring Self-Esteem

I have a cold. I always feel sorry for myself when I'm sick. Actually, the whole family is sick today. Sprout has been wonderfully energetic and playful all day. Her daddy even went to the grocery store to pick up much needed provisions... I, on the other hand, watched the puppy bowl until Sprout dozed off for a nap, and then cleared off 3 episodes of Law & Order off my DVR while she slept. (Oh, and browsed the internet doing research and finding images for the collage below.)
At the base of this collage is a photo of me, digitally altered to show what I'd look like with a beard. It's a long story, but suffice to say that PCOS (the condition which contributed to my difficulty conceiving and carrying a baby) can lead hirsutism. I lack the courage to stop obsessing about the whiskers on my chin and, more alarmingly, sprouting up around my nipples to tickle my daughter's nose while she nurses... I lack the courage, even, to post the self-portrait without layers of ephemera to obscure it, and hide my hideous secret.

03 February 2007

The Creation Station

A short time ago, I responded to interview questions from fellow Etsy shop owner Andrea of Powderpuff Creations. Andrea has a blog called The Creation Station where she features the work of crafters who have caught her attention. Andrea has profiled some wonderful craftspeople and I feel honored to be in such great company. Feel free to hop on over and check out the interview. I hope that I didn't manage to come across as a complete goof... I am afraid that the Etsy shop is a little sparse at the moment I'll try to do something about that tomorrow while we watch The Puppy Bowl with Sprout.

When it rains, it pours

And when it pours, it collects in our basement. I have 3 or 4 of these twin chambered vessels bisqued and ready to be glazed when the temperatures improve. I also spent several hours making faces to use for more of my facing forward shawl pins. The faces are now bone dry and ready to be cleaned up (the holes need to be re-drilled) before being bisque fired. I can bisque them in the bench furnace in the garage that I use for raku firing. It'll be a lower bisque than I usually use but still perfectly acceptable.

I can probably have a glaze load ready to go, as soon as Lake Fasimpaur recedes. Wish me luck.

01 February 2007

Habit Day 1

In keeping with my thoughts about creating habits, I want to post to this blog an update on my creative efforts every day. I currently have two spaces in my home that are designated as "Studio Space". The first was the space that enticed us to buy this house. The previous owner had run a hair salon from the attached room that was constructed to the side of the house. The constructed space has a separate entrance (which seemed like it would be a good thing if I ever wanted to teach out of my home studio) and is simultaneously apart from and a part of our living space. Since we knew that we wanted to have a child, this was an important consideration.

Over the last few years, that space has been rendered unusable by our use of it as catch-all storage for my art/craft supplies and projects in process. Last spring, I moved many of my tools to the attached screen porch at the back of our house. It was imagined as a temporary move, just to take advantage of the natural light, etc... I got used to using the "indoor" studio as a glorified storage closet and really grew to like the "outdoor" screened porch studio space. This was particularly true when I started working with the torch again. Unfortunately, with temperatures below freezing, an unheated and uninsulated studio is just not a comfortable place to be. We've been very fortunate that the winter has been so mild and that my access to the studio hasn't been much limited until now.

What I'm getting at is, although I really want to post the results of my creative efforts in the studio, I'm too much of a wimp to go out there. Instead, I decided to spend a little time looking at the forms that I make all the time in a different way and a different context. The digital collage above is the results of today's efforts.

Sprout wants me to make a puppet as a birthday present for the 2nd birthday of a family friend. If everything goes well, maybe I'll get it done in time to photograph it before we're on our way out the door. I'm not making any promises, my educated guess is that I'll be jabbing myself in the fingers with a felting needle as I try to finish the puppet in the car on the way to the birthday party on Saturday. Wish me luck.