15 December 2008

How long 'til Santa files for unemployment?

From: A Kidnapped Santa Claus
by L. Frank Baum

Santa Claus lives in the Laughing Valley, where stands the big, rambling castle in which his toys are manufactured. His workmen, selected from the ryls, knooks, pixies and fairies, live with him, and every one is as busy as can be from one year's end to another.

It is called the Laughing Valley because everything there is happy and gay. The brook chuckles to itself as it leaps rollicking between its green banks; the wind whistles merrily in the trees; the sunbeams dance lightly over the soft grass, and the violets and wild flowers look smilingly up from their green nests. To laugh one needs to be happy; to be happy one needs to be content. And throughout the Laughing Valley of Santa Claus contentment reigns supreme.

As children, so many of us are taught to believe in Santa Claus. It's a tradition that I'm wrestling with now in regards to how we will raise Sprout. The debate over what we should or shouldn't tell our children about Santa is not, however, the point of this blog entry. (I may write more on that later... There's a lot that I should write about but I'm trying to take this just a little bit at a time...) Back to the point... Through stories and songs, we learn that Santa works lovingly in his northern workshop making toys by hand with the help of elves or other magical creatures. This idea that the toys are made by hand is an important part of the Santaverse...

We live in an industrial world. Increasingly, the objects in our lives have very little contact with human hands before we remove them from their pristine (and excessive) packaging. I'm probably biased on this point, as a craftsperson and as a fan of the Arts and Crafts movement. I love objects that are handmade. I feel, when I hold them and turn them in my hands, a connection to the person whose labor and vision created them. A handmade object always feels warmer to me, as though some trace of the warmth lingers from the craftsman's touch. When I look into the eyes of a handmade doll or toy, there seems to be a spirit looking back at me and I find myself thinking that the sparkle I see there was ignited by the spirit of its maker.

I feel compelled to write about these things at the moment because the future of handmade toys in the US (and indeed any handmade object sold in this country for use by children) is questionable. You see, in response to repeated saftey recalls of toys and other items intended for use by children, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has created new guidelines which will go into effect in February of 2009. These guidelines require that any product marketed to children be subjected to exhaustive testing and stringent labeling. On the face of it, this sounds like a good idea. But lets take a closer look at the issue.

The testing required costs $4000 per toy. When this cost can be spread over tens of thousands, if not millions of identical toys, it doesn't seem like that much money. The expense is simply passed on to the buyer at a cost of mere pennies per toy. On the other hand, for a craftsperson (i.e. Santa) who labors in his workshop making one of a kind toys, $4000 per toy is not a cost that can be passed on to the consumer. Even if the artist is making several hundred nearly identical toys, the expense is still well above what the consumer will be willing to pay.

And, really, is this safety testing really necessary? The standards being set by the commision exceed those in any other country in the world, including Canada and the European Community where existing production standards prevent the types of problems that prompted these reforms. In fact, looking at the safety recalls that resulted in this new legislation, the vast majority (very nearly 100%) of the products were mass manufactured in China.

Over the last few years, I've been asked over and over why I don't make more puppets to sell. My answer has always been two-fold. First that the puppets are extremely labor intensive and that I'd rather teach others to make them so that they can give them to the people they love. Second that the legal requirements for toymakers are byzantine and that I feel ill-equipped to meet those standards. I admire those artisans out there who have dedicated themselves to continuing handcraft traditions and ensuring that another generation of children experience the joy of playing with toys that are lovingly handmade. I am greatly saddened that the new standards being proposed to protect children will allso serve to ensure that, unless their mother/father/grandparent/or other beloved adult is a skilled craftsperson for whom toymaking is an enjoyable hobby, future generations of children will not enjoy the opportunity to experience the pleasure of a well crafted toy.

For more information, please take some time to read some (or all) of the following links:

Eco Childs Play

Cool Mom Picks: Save Handmade

The Handmade Toy Alliance and their Proposed improvements to the CPSIA

I'm sure that you'll find a great many links from these pages to others with more information and more insight. In these difficult financial times, many people are turning to handcrafts to supliment thier incomes or to brighten their lives. There is a growing cottage industry of artisans producing small quantities of lovingly made work to humanize an increasingly impersonal world. It is difficult, at best, to run a small business and many of these artisans are struggling to by materials and cover their expenses. This legislation threatens to drive most (if not all) of them out of business. And to what end? To protect us from a threat that comes not from individual artisans making the best objects that they can with the best materials that they can afford but instead from huge conglomerations shipping millions of cheaply made mass-manufactured disposeable goods from half way around the world where the labor is cheep and the standards are non-existant.

TITLE: Santa Claus
CALL NUMBER: SSF - Holidays--Christmas [P&P]
LC-USZ62-113695 (b&w film copy neg.)
SUMMARY: Man portraying Santa Claus, half-length, facing front, in snowy scene.
MEDIUM: 1 photographic print.

17 September 2008

Happy Constitution Day

221 years ago today, The Constitution of the United States was adopted by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. It would take a year and a half for enough states to ratify the new document to allow a new government to set to work under its guidance. It would ultimately take almost 3 years for the constitution to be approved by all 13 of the original states.

It seems fitting to me that I'm thinking about all of this as I watch the HBO mini-series John Adams about the life of our second president and his long-reaching influence on our developing nation. If you've not seen it, I recommend it. The performances are excellent, and there is much emphasis on the principals of the constitution and the ideals of our founding fathers.

12 September 2008

Politics: Health Care

Do you know someone who doesn't have health insurance? There's a stigma attached so it's possible that they've not mentioned it. It might be better to ask yourself other questions. Do you know someone who is self-employed? Do you know someone who is trying to run a small business? Chances are, they don't have health insurance. The statistics, which I'm feeling too tired and disgusted to look up at the moment, are staggering. But we're not actually talking about statistics here, we're talking about human beings whose lives are at stake. As one of the wealthiest nations in the world, a nation with med schools that aspiring doctors from all over the world flock to for training in their chosen field, it is inexcusable that every day in this country people die who don't need to because they don't get the preventative care that they need. They suffer with pain and go to work every day as it eats away at them with no idea of what is going on because they cannot get a diagnosis without a magic card.

My cousin had surgery today. After months and months of dealing with a degenerative problem, he finally managed to get in to see a specialist who would give him an appointment knowing that he didn't have insurance. That appointment with the specialist was about a week ago. In the last week, my cousin has racked up untold thousands of dollars in medical debt for a surgery which was his only alternative to life-long paralysis.

I didn't sleep well last night, thinking about what was ahead. Now I'm fighting to stay awake as I type this. There was so much that I wanted to say and so many eloquent points that I needed to make. What it boils down to is "Someone in your life does not have the medical insurance that they need in the unlikely event that something catastrophic happens to them." Their future and their health are riding on the results of this election. McCain and Palin want to further privatize healthcare and allow market forces to bring the pricing down.

What will happen to the nation's working poor, to those being laid off by plant closures and those kids coming out of college having trouble getting jobs? Can we as a nation and a society really afford the human costs of Laissez-faire healthcare?

I wish that I could stay awake to really talk about this, but I'm fading fast. Maybe I'll be clearer headed tomorrow.

06 September 2008

Sprout's first week of "preschool"

Originally uploaded by madaise
Tuesday was Sprout's first day at the Boonshoft Discovery Museum's Kaleidoscope preschool science program. When we arrived to pick her up after "school" on tuesday morning, and I asked her what she'd done during the day, her answer was, "I fell in love today." When I asked Miss Robin, her teacher, how Sprout had done on her first day I was told that she already had a boyfriend and that the two of them were inseparable. "I'm gonna have to keep an eye on those two." To have this followed by Sprout's assertion that she had fallen in love was cute, if a little disturbing. She apparently bonded with one of her classmates over a shared love of the Ramones and her shoes. To give credit where credit is due, her shoes are really, super cute.

With some gentle coaxing, I was eventually able to learn that they had built walls out of coffee cans, had a snack of "fruity smiles" and cheeze-its with apple juice, met some fo the museum staff and played a game called "skunk in the barn yard" and learned a bit about skunks.

Thursday it was a little easier to get information from her. She had fruity smiles and pretzels (with apple juice, again) and they went on a nature walk outside. They did an experiment with pipes and talked about water treatment. When we picked her up, Sprout cried. She didn't want to leave. She didn't want to wait until Tuesday of next week to see her friends and her teacher.

She's so excited about "school" that she can hardly contain herself. I'm trying to find things to keep her busy in the days between her school days so that it doesn't seem quite so much like she's living for Tuesdays and Thursdays. Wednesday of next week we're going to a MetroParks nature passport event at a nearby park. The event includes a discussion of tree identification and a nature walk. I'd hoped that her daddy would be able to take her and I'd be able to get some work done but it doesn't look that way. He has early morning teleconferences 3 days next week and will be dropping her Tuesday and Thursday on his way into work.

On a less pleasant note, we're going to be a 1 car household again for a while. The Radio Flyer was in a minor accident on Thursday evening. No one was hurt but our little red wagon has been forced into retirement. Fortunately, the repairs to Rosie went well and she's gonna have to be ok for her (hopefully temporary) promotion to primary vehicle.

05 September 2008

Politics: Fair Warning (aka I've lost my resolve)

I'm finding that, the closer we get to the election, the more difficult it is to separate my political passions from the rest of my life. Frankly, I don't really want to. So I have to ask myself, why am I trying so hard to keep the politics off my blog? Am I afraid of offending potential customers? (That can't be it, I'm doing nothing to attract customers and have little to offer a customer when they stumble across my work on their own.) Am I afraid of loosing friends? (Everyone who knows me in the "real world" knows where I stand. I seldom have conversations with any of them that don't touch at some point on something related to current events.)

I'd like to offer a compromise. I will make every effort not to sneak politics into "regular" blog entries and will try not to put other content in my political posts. This means that, if I have a studio/life issue to write about, it will be in its own post rather than mixed with a post about politics or what I've been doing at the Obama office. I will also, promise the following:

1. I will write life/studio posts first and political posts second so that if time is short the "on topic" posts will not loose out to politics.

2. Political posts will be easily identified by subject line and with a clearly political image. (i.e. The Obama logo above right which I've modified to add the Dayton skyline for use in conjunction with my local campaign activities...)

3. I will try to continue using my blog on my.BarackObama.com for the majority of my political blogging.

That said, I'm prominently placing a pro-Obama/Biden graphic in the sidebar of this blog and adding a link to the my.BO blog in my blogroll. I really want to be respectful of those with opposing views but I'm afraid that lately I've felt that avoiding these subjects is disrespectful of my own very strong feelings. (Just because we disagree doesn't mean that we have to venture into unpleasant territory.)

31 August 2008

Art Bead Scene August Challenge: Something to Say

I've thought about submitting something for one of the Art Bead Scene monthly challenges for quite some time. This month the challenge was so perfect for the work that I've been doing lately that it was just too hard to resist. I've had a project entry in my Ravelry notebook for ages that says simply "Miles of I-cord" with no further explanation and no pictures. This is another of my ongoing attempts to wed my disparate interests. Knitted I-cord that has been fulled to act as a base for neck cords. It's not that different from the concept behind emBead.

I didn't get too into embellishing the cord, but I think that the piece turned out ok...

25 August 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Originally uploaded by Uriel 1998
It's hard to believe that it has been another three weeks without updating the blog. Sprout has really kept me on my toes, although I should admit that I've done much of it to myself. As easy as it can be to bemoan life in the midwest and the lack of certain amenities, we've really got it good here in Dayton. We've had free movies at the parks, pony rides, great playgrounds, and educational programs through Five Rivers Metroparks, some of which are part of their Passport to Nature program. Once Sprout has completed her first passport, (She now has 4 of the 8 stamps she needs) she will be able to send the stamped passport brochure into the parks office for a prize.

In early August, we purchased a family membership to the Boonshoft museum so that we could take her there any time for a brief visit or a whole afternoon. While there last week, I saw a sign for a preschool science program offered by the museum. The cost is roughly equal to the cost of preschool at the Y but since the program is very focused on science and mathematics, Sprout will receive the academic stimulation that she needs in an age-appropriate setting. I couldn't be happier.

Sprout still wakes up every morning asking, "What are we doing today?" or "Where are we going to go today?" Unfortunately, I'm having some minor issues with Rosie, she's running rough and we've not been able to get the exhaust issues addressed. I'm trying to assess our current transportation situation. When we bought Rosie, I said that if she met our needs for 3 months, it was well worth the investment that we made in her. We're very near that 3 month point. If the change in the way she's running represents a major engine problem, that could really impact what we decide to do with her. (It's recent enough that I haven't had a chance to check whether it's had any effect on her gas mileage, which will tell me a lot...) We know that almost any repair done at a garage will cost us more than we paid for the car. The question rapidly becomes, "Would we be better off putting money into this car or into the bank for a 'better' car?"

With Sprout starting her preschool science program a week from tomorrow, the schedule for our entire family is about to go through some major alteration. With the new schedule, it may be possible for us to get by with one car, or to limit the use of the second car dramatically. Our visits to B.'s family will be much more infrequent, now that the school year has begun. A is in school all day. E is in afternoon kindergarten. B has decided to limit her daycare business to school age children and to only accept kindergarten age kids who are elegible for busing and afternoon kindergarten. This will give her the afternoons for studying. It's a perfect arrangement for her and I'm glad to see it working out.

Unfortunately, since Sprout is in the morning program, she'll be in class when E is home and home when E is at kindergarten. I'm sure that she'll find herself engaging more with her friends from "school" and that she'll be much more satisfied with the more occasional playdates with E & A, but she's already sounding a bit disappointed that she doesn't get to see them as much.

I'm trying not to think about how life will change once Sprout is in "school"... I'm also trying not to have fantasies about sending her to a M/W/F preschool program in addition to the science program. She just seems to want constant stimulation and input and those demands consume my entire life if I'm not careful.

30 July 2008

Past Due


Sprout has had me running almost non-stop since the arrival of her beloved "Rosie" in our driveway. This week is a great example. Monday, we went to visit our friends the E., A., & B. Since B. runs a home daycare, Sprout loves to be there during the day. Not only does she get the chance to play with her friends E. (age 5 1/2) and A. (age 7) but also with the 3-5 other children who might be there on any given day. So Monday, after the daycare kids were picked up by their respective parents, the 5 of us... B. and her girls, Sprout and I all went to dinner at CiCi's pizza because on Monday nights kids eat free. From there, we went to a park with a cool playground where the kids played until dusk.

Tuesday went much the same way. We went to B.'s house to play, then to kid's night at Fazoli's for $0.99 kids meals (and their free craft project) followed by the library where Sprout received her "Library Champion" yard sign, and other summer reader goodies. After the library, we went back to B.'s house where the girls played until dark.

Today we were.... you guessed it, at B.'s house. Today it was all girls so B. painted finger and toe nails while we treated the 4 young girls in the house to Hans Christian Andersen with Danny Kaye. (Ok, we forced the girls to watch the movie... it was really more of a treat for us. They thought that it was too slow and too long.) After the primping and the movie, we headed our separate ways. B. had plans with her sister-in-law and E. & A. were looking forward to time with their cousins. Sprout cried for a full 1/2 hour because she couldn't be with her friends.

Tomorrow will be a home day... Maybe, if the weather is really great, we'll go over to the park or I'll take her to the Y or McDonald's to play on the climbing structures in the AC while I knit. It's not like B. and the girls haven't invited our visits, but when I begin to feel like maybe I should show up with suitcases and start paying rent (my problem, not a feeling that I'm getting from them...) it's time for a change of pace. The problem is that B. was working a full-time job for the first part of the summer and Sprout and I missed spending time with them. I'm just really enjoying having my friend back and that's nothing compared to how my daughter feels.

In other news, I had hoped to start Sprout in preschool this fall and simultaneously homeschool her with a commercially available curriculum. It looks like that will probably not happen. We've had some financial upheaval and will probably not be able to invest the extra money in the commercial curriculum. Given that Sprout is reading at a very advanced level for her age, homeschooling has certainly looked like one possible option for ensuring that she gets the best possible education for her needs. It is for that reason that I'm a little disturbed to learn that the Ohio Department of Education is contemplating a review of their homeschooling guidelines (pdf link) that, given the current climate, could seriously complicate any plan that I might have in that direction.

The ODE is currently soliciting feedback from "Stakeholders" about the guidelines and the potential review. My comments are posted below.

My 4 year old daughter is, according to the current state guidelines, 1 year too young to begin school. Unfortunately, that doesn't take into account the fact that she is already reading at a 2nd or 3rd grade level and is doing basic mathematics. Homeschooling currently offers the only suitable option that I see for providing her with an education which meets her needs and provides her with the challenge required to keep her engaged.

The research that I have done leads me to believe that my daughter would not be well served by the current model of public education. Students who are not challenged are a disruption to the classroom environment and the atmosphere becomes hostile to learning for all of the students, not just the accelerated student.

The current rules have served Ohio parents and students quite adequately for almost 20 years. While parents reasons for choosing homeschooling as an option for their children are extremely diverse, the guidelines as they stand enable all of us to make the choices we feel are in the greatest good. Changing them now will inevitably throw obstacles in the path of parents trying to ensure that their children get the education they feel is most appropriate to their specific needs and places a great many students with special circumstances into a school system that is already struggling to meet the academic needs of their students.

Please do not disrupt a system which is working well for families for Ohio families who feel that their needs would not, or perhaps could not, be served by the current public school system.

Thank you,

Andi Fasimpaur

Well, I'm wiped out and ready for sleeping... I've got a bunch of notes in my palm about things that I want to blog, but no energy to type them up. I'm feeling a bit like I can't move forward without posting them so I may just decide to delete the notes and let the post(s) go. There's nothing life shattering... The political stuff goes elsewhere and that's a large part of where my head's at right now.

14 July 2008

Meme: My life in images

I'm participating in a handmade spindle swap on Ravelry. There are so many talented people involved in the Ravelry community and I find new and wonderful things each time that I venture into a new person's projects, blog, or flickr stream. I found this meme at The Fiberfairy's Haven. She's one of the spindle swap participants. I was curious about what I'd end up with and figured that since I was going to do all the steps anyway, I might as well post an update to my poor neglected blog. I'm waiting to post pictures of what I sent for the swap until I receive my own spindle.

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

The Questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

1. Vivien, Evelyn & Kenneth Calene, 2. Korma spices, 3. Gun slot at Historic Fort Wayne, 4. Orange garnet, 5. Law and Order: Criminal Intent on Location in NYC with Vincent D'Onofrio, 6. Bitter, 7. Marakesh museum, 8. creme_brule, 9. Ladybug on my shirt at the Peace Rally, 10. asheville mica factory sandy window, 11. "Creative Hands" - Mindy, 12. Bruce Nauman, 1967. "The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths"

29 June 2008

What a difference a car makes

Things here have been a bit more active than usual. The mere existence of a second car around the MysticSpiral homestead has Sprout in a frenzy of "What will we do next?!?!" That said, the fact that we have the option to leave whenever we wish has her a little more content to linger around the house playing in nothing but her underwear. (What is it about young children that prompts them to be nudists?) We are planning to enroll Sprout in preschool in the fall, but may put her into preschool day camp for a couple of weeks in July and/or August to start getting her used to the idea. We have been taking a break from swim lessons because it was just too hard to work out the schedule for 4-day-a-week swim lessons with just one car.

But it's not just about Sprout's activities and options. I also have a chance now to do things that I felt I couldn't when we were a single car family. I'm indulging some activist impulses that were dishearteningly problematic as a single car family when K's schedule can sometimes change with no notice. I'm also getting back to water aerobics and, hopefully starting this week, middle-eastern dance.

I worked some on the promised finger puppet tutorial while I was in Cincinnati. I've got pictures on the data card on my camera. I've got notes for the actual text handwritten in the spiral bound notebook that I usually take with me everywhere. Most of the notes were written sitting in the car in the driveway the day we bought Rosie. (I had foolishly neglected to check whether I had my complete key ring and instead only had the ring with the Y keyfobs and the locker key. I got to spend a couple hours hanging out in the car getting to know her since I was locked out of the house.) Unfortunately, I'm experiencing computer problems and at the moment my system lacks image editing software or any kind of word processing program. I could probably write the tutorial up in WordPad, if I had to, but I'd rather not.

I have an appointment with my prescribing psychiatrist in just over a week to discuss the addition we made to my meds last month. All in all, I'd have to say that the change has been positive. I feel much more engaged in my own life now than I have in quite a while. Since I mentioned activism earlier, I feel the need to mention something that touches on both my need to promote the causes nearest to me and my own illness.

Like it or not, there is a stigma associated with depression. One part of the reason that I have chosen to be so candid here about my mental health issues. Depression is an illness. It is not a defect. It is not something to be ashamed of. That said, there are many people who refuse treatment for their depression because the cannot see beyond the stigma of mental illness. "What if my employer / landlord / parents / children / competitors / etc find out?!?" This is one of the reasons that the Kristin Brooks Hope Center and its national 1-800-SUICIDE hotline are so important. As an privately funded service, they are not required to report, or even collect, any personal information on anyone who calls. They rely on the support and donations of people just like us to keep providing confidential services to those who need them.

20 June 2008

Here Be Dragons

It's after 1:30am and I am leaving early tomorrow for a weekend away from Sprout and her daddy conference in Cincinnati. I'm not actually doing anything, just hanging out with a dear friend who doesn't need my moral support but is willing to accept it anyway so that I can have a sort of mini-break. I'm taking stuff to take some pictures and all of the finished finger puppets that I can find. I've got felting stuff, and notes for the tutorial. I'll have a computer with me. (I won't have photo editing software, but I'll deal with all that when I get home...)

Here's a quick picture of a tiny dragon finger puppet. I could line all of the finished puppets up for you and Sprout could tell you the names of each and every one. She's quick to name things, that one... She seems to embrace the idea that what you name, you own.

Speaking of names... There is a new, albeit inanimate, member of our family. We acquired a 1993 Chevy Cavalier this week. My daughter, the animist, wanted to name it before it was even officially a part of the household. I managed to hold her off and then "met" the car in a dream dressed as a 1940s factory worker. Her words to me, "I may not be beautiful, but if there's a job to do, I'll get it done." inspired me to name her Rosie. Sprout approves so, Rosie it is. Now all I need is some sort of Rosie the Riveter sticker or other decoration to plaster all over the car. She's right, though, she's not beautiful and I think that she'd find the decoration somewhat reassuring. I'll talk later about what this new addition really means. 'Til then, I'm off to bed.

17 June 2008


In the past, I have avoided discussions of politics as much as possible. Since politics touch on many of the things that are important to me, this has often required a Herculean effort. The people who talk to me regularly are used to hearing about my thoughts on everything from the state of public education and the inherently unequal way that schools in Ohio are funded, to electoral reform or the racial inequities of the justice system.

It may not come as much of a surprise to anyone that I fall on the liberal side of most (ok, maybe all) of the issues which come up in politics.

It is for that reason that I wanted to mention that I've been writing a little bit on a blog on the Obama website. I'm not going to say much about it and will resume my efforts to keep politics off this blog.

So, I'm working on a series of needle felted finger puppets. So far, I'm pleased with the results and will be posting sometime in the next few days specifically to show off what I've been doing.

TITLE: Hoyt's A contented woman
CALL NUMBER: POS - TH - 1898 .C66, no. 3 (C size) [P&P]
LC-USZ62-10861 (b&w film copy neg.)

No known restrictions on publication.

1 print (poster) : lithograph, b&w ; 72 x 49 cm.

Cin., U.S.A. : U.S. Printing Co., c1898.

12 June 2008

Another Minute of Fame

Andy Warhol's quip about 15 minutes of fame comes to mind every time I see my name in print. My own 15 minutes seems to take the form of 10 seconds here, a minute and a half there. In November of 1994, I managed to track down and post the portion of the US Armed Forces Military Chaplain's Manual of Religious Requirements and Practices that pertained to the practice of Wicca; Witchcraft. For a number of years, probably until the relevant materials were revised in 2001, I would occasionally run into someone who knew my name in association with that document. I met several people who had used the document to support their religious freedom in custody hearings and anti-discrimination suits and who said that it made a real difference for them. At this point, it takes a bit of digging in a search engine to connect those dots and it's not something that I bring up on a regular basis.

My fame in the field of ceramics is based on a bit more history. Whether it's posts on the CLAYART email list, links to the handbuilding lessons that I wrote and posted on my website, ceramic beadmaking techniques and firing information, the article that I wrote for Pottery Making Illustrated, or the tips that I've submitted to Ceramics Monthly, I have a reasonably high profile.

I'm contacted frequently by people who are interested in using my written materials in one way or another. I've received email from teachers in Europe, South-east Asia, South America and throughout North America asking for permission to use the handbuilding lessons in schools, rehab facilities, prisons, community centers and home school environments. I'm thrilled to know how people will be using these lessons and to know that the material is out there helping people. I almost universally approve the use of the lessons for teaching purposes and have only ever denied someone who wanted to combine them with other materials for sale on a CD-rom.

That article from Pottery Making Illustrated, on the other hand, has been reprinted by the American Ceramic Society in the book Pottery Making Techniques: A Pottery Making Illustrated Handbook and again on their website as part of their Ceramics Daily Feature. These reprints have come as surprises to me and as such I have mixed feelings. I found out about the book because I saw it at NCECA the spring following its publication. I found out about the Ceramics Daily reprint because it popped up in a google alert. (As an artist, I have several search notifiers set up so that I'm notified when new information about me is archived in Google's search database.) Sure, the reprints are good and keeping that information in front of people can only help my name recognition, etc. On the other hand, it would be nice if a publisher were kind enough to contact the authors whose work they were reprinting and let them know what's going on. Afterall, I feel like a complete idiot when someone says, "Congratulations, I saw your ______ on the web." and my response is "Huh?!?! Where? When? Are you sure?"

25 May 2008

One of those conversations

We've all had them... At least I hope we have. You know, those mental exchanges with our creations when they've begun to take on a life of their own?

Me: We need to find you a name.

Creation: (silence)

Me: What do you think of "Ember"?

Creation scoffs almost audibly.

Me: Ok, you don't like Ember... What about "Singe"?

Creation rolls eyes but still refuses to comment.

Me: Hmmm... "Scorch"?

This prompts Creation to finally break the silence. "Do you see a Ty, Inc. tag on my fuzzy green butt?"

Not liking the direction this is going, I decline to point out to Creation that he does not, in fact, have a butt. Instead I just start throwing out a list of possible names pulled from my mental thesaurus... Charcoal, Simmer, Braise, Broil, Brûlée... (Starting to get just a little frustrated, I take a deep breath to begin rattling off more words/potential names.) Immolate, Flare, Ign--

Creature interrupts: Go back! There was one back there I liked.

Me: Please tell me that it wasn't "Immolate" I was really only being sarcastic about that one.

Creature: No. (Eyes roll as if to suggest that **I'm** the idiot here.) Brûlée! I like that. It's perfect. I've always wanted to be a "Green Brûlée!"

I groan in pain and then look sternly at the creature in front of me. "Do you really want to go to your intended home?"

Creature/Brûlée: Um, Yes!!!?!

Me: You might want to rethink that joke.

Brûlée: Why?

Me: They have a different language there. I'm not sure how well your horrid pun will translate.

Brûlée: Oh, come on. You've got to be kidding. I've haven't been around for even 12 hours yet and I know about the Green Berets. It can't be that obscure.

Me: I'm so glad that you won't be sticking around, Brûlée. I really don't think that we're destined to get along.

I'm thinking that including the creature in discussions about its naming may have given him a slightly too high opinion of his own self-worth. What I should probably be thinking instead is that I'm losing my mind and should really seek professional help.

23 May 2008

Personality Tests

One of the side-effects of my depression is that I have this constant need to better understand myself. I'm always trying to gauge whether my thoughts and reactions are "normal" or whether I'm in some sort of unhealthy space. I'm also very uncertain of how others see me. One result of this is that I have become completely addicted to online personality tests. I could sit and take them for hours. Blogthings has a lot of these kinds of tests and there are links to more tests at the top left and bottom right of every test and results page. At least one of the additional tests usually grabs my attention and I end up clicking through to one after another and before I know it, hours have been eaten up by my quest to have a better understanding of my place in the world.

When I was in college, a friend who was in the education department gave me the Myers-Briggs test as part of a testing methodology class that he was taking. I've since taken several abbreviated versions of the test and the results tend to vary only slightly. Sometimes I test as INFP and others I test as ENFP. I have to assume that I'm right on the I/E border and the natural variations in my answers based on whether it's a good day or a bad day end up being the deciding factor.

I was wondering, earlier today, where I'm at right now. I started a new medication today in hopes of dealing with the lethargy, cloudy-headedness, and low energy levels caused by my depression. So far, today has been encouraging. I'm not feeling hyped up or stimulated but I'm not struggling to stay awake while I try to coax Sprout into a nap so that I can go back to bed. Which isn't to say that I wouldn't love it if she'd take a nap. I might even snuggle up next to her to try to get her to doze off. Once she's asleep, though, I'm thinking that it would be nice to spend some time reading something that she didn't choose.

Here's the result of the MB knock-off test that I took this afternoon... It seems pretty accurate. I'm not agitating to get out of the house, but I'm reasonably happy to be out of bed.

You Are An INFP

The Idealist

You are creative with a great imagination, living in your own inner world.

Open minded and accepting, you strive for harmony in your important relationships.

It takes a long time for people to get to know you. You are hesitant to let people get close.

But once you care for someone, you do everything you can to help them grow and develop.

In love, you tend to have high (and often unrealistic) standards.

You are very sensitive. You tend to have intense feelings.

At work, you need to do something that expresses your personal values.

You would make an excellent writer, psychologist, or artist.

How you see yourself: Unselfish, empathetic, and spiritual

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Unrealistic, naive, and weak

21 May 2008

Reclaimed Checked Scarf

Originally uploaded by MysticSpiral
I've written before about my interest in reclaiming yarn. The socks that I've knit so far (a pair for me, 2 pairs for Sprout, and a pair for my niece) have all been knit from reclaimed yarn. My current project is the one that's getting the most attention of any of my projects so far, at least locally. I had a moment at the knitting guild meeting on Monday where I wondered if it might get lost on its way around the room. Knitters with a whole lot more knitting experience than me were quite taken with it and had numerous questions about what I was doing.

One advantage of using recycled yarn for a project like this is, by choosing a striped sweater to reclaim, you can get multiple colors/shades of the same yarn without buying whole skeins. There's no question about whether or not the care will be the same, and the odds are pretty good that the yarns won't bleed into one another.

There are 2 other pictures of the scarf in my flickr stream and I wrote practically a whole blog post worth of description between the 3 images. I'd love to hear what you think.

12 May 2008

Pay It Forward Exchange

I love the whole concept of Random acts of kindness and Pay it forward. I like the idea that good will and positive spirits can be passed from one person to another. It is a reminder that our actions can have a direct impact on people who we don't know and may never meet. This is what led me to join the Random Acts of Kindness group on Ravelry. It is also the reason that I continue to participate in Freecycle type groups in spite of the more disturbing aspects of the official entity and some of the internal problems of the groups.

I know that there are a great many things in my possession that really don't need to belong to me. Things that are still useful in spite of the fact that I no longer have a use for them. I've spent way more time than I'd like to admit holding on to these things intending to put them in a garage/yard sale. While they might actually be worth some money, or I might get a tax credit for donating them to a charitable thrift organization, instead, they remain in the house cluttering up my life and preventing me from enjoying the space where I live. It is really wonderful when I can find, through one of these resources, someone who genuinely needs or wants something that is merely occupying space in my life.

While browsing the May wish lists on the Random Acts of Kindness group on Ravelry this morning, I found a post that caught my attention. I'm not sure what about it grabbed me but I looked at the person's profile and then clicked over to her blog. Once there, I saw a post about a Pay It Forward Exchange. I've cut and pasted (and then re-formatted and adapted) the rules for the exchange from MochaMom's blog, "life as I know".

It’s the Pay It Forward Exchange. It’s based of the concept of the movie Pay it Forward where acts or deeds of kindness are done without expecting something in return, just passing it on, with hope that the recipients of the acts of kindness are passed on.

So here’s how it works:

I will make and send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange.

I do not know what that gift will be yet, and it won’t be sent this month, probably not next month, but it will be sent (within 6 months) and that’s a promise!

What YOU have to do in return, then, is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

Now for my variations on the rules... Nothing major, just a couple little things to take into account the things that I know about (at least some of) the readers of this blog...

1.) In your comment, tell me a little bit about yourself. There are so many types of crafts that I do that I'd like to have some idea of what you'll like before I make your gift. (i.e. if you're highly sensitive to fragrance, a scent bottle with an extra BPAL imp might be a really bad gift... On the other hand, I've spent quite a bit of time in forums where it would be the perfect gift...)

2.) As much as I like the idea of recipients paying it forward through their blogs, I know that not everyone has or wants a blog. If you're one of those people who has no blog and no desire to create one, you can still participate if you post the promise in an online forum where you participate. Include the link in a follow-up comment so that I can check out the forum. (Hopefully, one or more of your PIF recipients will be bloggers who can continue the blog part of the exchange... maybe the rest will continue it in other forums that they frequent.)

That's it. Two little changes/additions but basically the same concept as the one posted on MochaMom's blog. I look forward to learning more about you.

25 April 2008

The cable is found! I am saved!

I'll be writing descriptions and updating the Etsy shop tonight. If you see something you like, drop me an email at etsyshop at mysticspiral dot com and let me know which pin you want and I can mark it "reserved". I'll give you a week to finalize the transaction before taking it off reserved status and returning it to general stock. If you need longer (I understand, we only get paid every 2 1/2 weeks) just let me know and I can extend that. I just need to know what's going on.

Now that the cable is found and I've put it into the camera case with my camera, I shouldn't have to worry about so many delays. I may even take a picture of my "photo setup" to post here in case anyone is interested. The biggest obstacle to photography right now is that I've been using Sprout's bed to set everything up on. I can clip the lights onto the wooden parts of her bed, and the light cube fits perfectly, etc... You take your vacant flat spaces where you can find them. I'd like, in the near future, to set everything up in the studio so that I can leave everything set up and ready to go.

This batch is, as you can see, is all $15 shawl pins. I've got some scribble pins ready to list. I'll be listing them in pairs and in sets of 3... $10 for 2 and $12 for 3. I have a couple of spindle whorl pins and 2 or 3 wrist distaffs that will probably be listed in a week or 2. I've gotten a couple of messages from other spindlers on Ravelry and via conversations on Etsy asking about the wrist distaffs so I've also got beads in the works for more distaffs but I need to get some firing done before I can make many more.

Car update: it looks like we're replacing a water pump. I'm not sure where the money is going to come from but we don't really have much choice. We're hoping to get another car sometime this summer, but if we try to go car shopping now rather than fixing the Radio Flyer, we're not going to be in a position to buy the kind of car that we want and we'll have no hope of becoming a 2 car family any time this decade.

So, That's all the news that's fit to print. Remember, drop me a note if anything here catches your eye... $15 for the pin, $5 for priority shipping. Given the car problems, I'm only shipping in the US for right now. For that, I can print postage online and give the package to the same guy who delivers my mail. For right now, I just don't see a practical way to get to the post office for international packages. So, I'll leave you with these last 3 images... enjoy.

23 April 2008


Well, I got some pictures taken... Not many, my camera has a 16mb card. This wouldn't be a problem, IF I could find the cable for the camera, or any other way of removing the pictures so that I could take more. I wonder where the Mr. put that cable.

My Little Red Wagon

The Radio Flyer* died Monday on the way home from the Knitting Guild Meeting. The mechanic says that the water pump failed (rather dramatically if you want my opinion) and that he can't pressurize the cooling system to determine what else may need attention. This repair is going to cost a lot of money that we don't have. Alternately, not making the repair (how much is a 93 Escort wagon worth anyway?) means acquiring a car. If we don't have the money for the repair, where's the money for a car going to come from? So much for my dreams of ever becoming a 2 car family.

I had hoped that I might have a summer job which would allow Sprout to spend the summer in 1/2 day pre-school day camp and give me a bit of extra money. Unfortunately, the employer is currently confronted with a spending/hiring freeze so it looks unlikely. I may do some volunteer work for the summer, just to start re-building my resume to maybe get some small teaching gigs. (Classes at the Boonshoft might be fun. Maybe some classes at an art center or something. Who knows?) The money from paid gigs would certainly help but volunteering and teaching would both be easier if we had a 2nd car...

The long and the short of this post is, Watch This Space for a preview of items to be uploaded to Etsy. I don't expect to finance a car payment or the repair bill out of my Etsy shop but I'm very hopeful that, with a little help from my friends, I can make enough money to buy milk and maybe pay the internet bill.

Other than the car, life is gradually moving toward "normal." Everyone in the household is having some difficulty adjusting to our new 3 cat status. Sprout goes for most of a day without any mention of Shado and then will comment on how much she misses him and how sad it is that he's dead. The cats seemed, at first, to take the loss in stride. Shado had long since retired from the pecking order and passed the throne to Hephaestus. Alpheus, our youngest male, has never really seemed to have much interest in a hierarchical order except as applies to who gets to sleep on my body pillow and get affection from me when I can't sleep. Unfortunately, both Alfie and Fuzzy have felt the need to show Mintaka (our only female) that, as far as they're concerned, she's at the bottom of the pecking order.

'Taka would so love to be an only cat. Shado was 6 months old when we brought her home and the two of them always got along beautifully. It would now appear that even after his retirement, Shado was an important ally for her and his calming influence made a real difference. I think that she may be acting out to show her disapproval of the situation by peeing in the laundry. As much as I think that this habit will prove to be a powerful motivator in the direction of sorting clothes (the ones that no longer fit can be donated) and getting them washed and put away, I'd really rather she didn't embrace this habit... If she doesn't have laundry to pee in, I'm afraid she might choose the bed.

Well, I'm putting off photography, for no good reason, so I'd better get that done so I can upload pictures and then begin working on text for the Etsy listings. If you see something in the pictures that you want, drop me a note. I'll be happy to mark it "Reserved" when I update the shop.

*You mean everyone doesn't nickname their cars... ok, red escort station wagon = little red wagon = Radio Flyer -- Clear as mud, I'm sure

15 April 2008

Farewell, Space Monkey

If I know you offline, chances are pretty good that I've mentioned my cats and told you silly stories about one or more of them. Yesterday morning, Shado (our eldest cat and the one that I sometimes referred to as our "Radically Altered" male) passed from this world. It was not an unexpected event and we'd spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of months trying to prepare Sprout for the inevitable.

Shado was 14 years old, which is not particularly ancient in the world of domestic cats, but which was a miracle considering that he had complete renal failure 3 times when he was 4 years old. In the course of a 6 month period, Shado had to be taken to the emergency vet and placed in feline ICU twice. The third time that his urinary tract became blocked and his kidneys shut down was actually the day that we were supposed to pick him up from his 2nd ICU stay. We walked in and the vet told us that he felt Shado needed surgery. The procedure, called Perineal Urethrostomy, was done that same day and his recovery was amazingly fast.

His medical misadventures left him with some loss of kidney function (he recovered to about 80%) and a heart murmur. These are health problems which we have managed for the last 10 years with minimal problem. I will never forget bringing him home, after the surgery, with his abdomen shaved from just below his ribs to the base of his tail and down the backs of his legs. Shado was an amazingly agile cat and to prevent him from disturbing his incision, the vet extended the standard white plastic funnel collar with a 3 inch band of silver duct tape, to add to the effect, we were instructed to apply a zinc-oxide cream to the area around the incision to prevent irritation. As a result, he looked less like a cat and more like... Well, that's probably obvious from the title.

Sprout is handling the loss well, mostly. She's having some trouble wrapping her head around it and is alternately sad that he's gone and curious about when he'll be back. When I told her that he had died, she wanted me to take him to the vet so that they could make him better. When we talked about how much we were going to miss him, she suggested that we get another cat who looked just like him so that we wouldn't.

Mr. Andi is ready to bury the cat. I'm not quite there yet. I feel like putting him in a box in the ground is not the closure that I need. I'm still trying to figure it out. This isn't the first time that I've lost a pet, but it's the first time that I've guided my daughter through the loss of one and I want to do right by both her and Shado.

IMAGE: Original caption: "Fig. 75. '''Schädel der Wildkatze,''' ''Felis catus'; in halber natürlicher Größe" Translation (partly): "Skull of ''Felis silvestris'', 1/2 of natural size" Size: 2.2 x 1.4 in² (5.5 x 3.5 cm²) Originator: Hubert Ludwig Source

05 April 2008

Spring is springing

The weather is beginning to warm which means that I'm able to return to my studio. I'm really excited about some wheel thrown spindle whorls that I've been working on. They're time consuming, but I have fallen head over heels with each and every one of them even though I'm sure that they're not saleable. (Of course this means that I'll be making a lot more of them...)

It's more than a month since I had hoped to have the Etsy shop back up and running. I mentioned in my last post some interpersonal drama. No sooner had it passed than our house was hit with some form of awful plague. The coughing has lasted more than a month and we ended up taking Sprout to urgent care where she was diagnosed with bronchitis. It's hard to believe that at 3 1/2 years old, we had never been required to give her any kind of medicine. We'd given her some infant tylenol when she was first teething, but she quickly decided that she didn't want or need it. Unfortunately, this meant that the antibiotics they prescribed for her illness were grounds for quite a few contentious battles.

I really do intend to re-open the shop. I have realized that I'm really not a business woman. That said, I have said before that I'm afraid of being buried alive by my own work. In the interest of seeing that work into the hands of those who will love and care for it, I will post pictures of the items I'm planning to list here on the blog at least a day or two before I update the shop. If you see something that you are particularly interested in, leave a comment, or drop me a note and let me know. When I list the item, I'll list it as reserved for you and give you 3 weeks to finish the transaction before removing the "reserved" label.

Well, I'm only awake and typing because of hellish leg cramps. In spite of my desire to stay up and watch the end of the PBS Masterpiece Theater presentation of Sense and Sensibility that I taped on Sunday, I must get some sleep. Tonight is "Night at the Museum" where I will be playing the role of a frontier woman spinning the night away as her babes sleep. More on that later...

07 March 2008

The best laid plans

New Spindle - Old Whorl
Originally uploaded by MysticSpiral
Obviously, in spite of my desire to do so, I did not re-open the shop on March 1st. To explain the delay, I need to go back to some of the circumstances that led me to close the shop in the first place.

I've mentioned (once or twice) that I have been diagnosed and am being treated for major depression. I've learned that I'm vulnerable to downward spirals. When I sense that one of those spirals is approaching, I need to take the time to address the underlying issues. In this case, the issue is one that started 2 1/2 years ago with the loss of a significant friendship. I was devastated by that loss, and would have given a great deal to "fix" things.

A few weeks ago, this lost friend contacted me out of the blue. In the last 2 years, she has moved and has dealt with a lot of personal trauma and some major transitions in her life. I kind of admire her for doing it. She had no way of knowing what to expect when she contacted me. She couldn't have known whether I would even respond to her since I honestly didn't know myself when I saw her email.

There have been a lot of things going on in my life that I couldn't put on hold. My parents have had some ongoing health problems. They were offered a rather unconventional (and perhaps extreme) opportunity to address several of those problems simultaneously with "minor" surgery. There was quite a bit of uncertainty as the date for the surgeries approached. My sister was going to come "home" from Germany to help take care of our parents. My mom's sisters came up from the Louisville/Southern Indiana area to help care for them. It was a really scary thing for me, but they're doing great and if everything works the way that it should, their health should be dramatically improved and their life expectancy extended.

While all of that was going on, Sprout and I were both a bit sick. It's like everything happens at once. It's not so long ago that all of this would have sent me into some kind of dark pit. Instead, I took a look at what was going on in my life and identified some things that I didn't **HAVE** to do deal with right then. The biggest thing that could be postponed was getting the shop set up. I've got everything that I need to start taking pictures when the time is right. I've got a couple of new designs that I'm about ready to launch and a little extra time gives me a bit of a chance to refine them a bit further before they debut.

My parents are recovering fine. Sprout has been diagnosed with bronchitis and we've started a course of treatment. (she's not very cooperative and I hate forcing medicines onto her but we'll do what we have to to make her well) I have a book review that got lost in the shuffle and should be ready to post in a couple of days. Etc...

The situation with my "friend" appears to have reached its conclusion. For the sake of my mental health, I just came right out and asked to put all the cards on the table. My request was met with a passive-aggressive "Sorry I bothered you." and I have decided to just let it go.

Through all of this, my spinning has been a constant comfort and an act of meditation. Remind me to post soon about the spinning demonstration that I'm doing at the Springfield museum. It's forcing me to dust off the wheel and explore an interest in historical re-enactment/re-creation.

15 February 2008

Trying the New Photo Set-up

Originally uploaded by MysticSpiral
The pop-up nylon light cube that I ordered arrived the other day and I had a chance to set it up and try it out. I grabbed a hand-full of finished shawl pins and some decorative paper that I had sitting around the studio.

The shots turned out ok, but I think that they'll be better once I get the stuff I need to set up better lighting.

14 February 2008

Orange Wool

Orange Wool
Originally uploaded by MysticSpiral
I've found a great deal of enjoyment lately in pulling apart sweaters and watching the Complete Jane Austin from PBS. I ordered, and received, a pop-up light tent for photographing my work for the Etsy shop. I've finished my first sock and the cuff & heel of the 2nd are finished and all I have to do is knit the mile and a half of foot before I can begin the toe decreases.

Tonight I went to my depression support group to find that I was the only person there. It's a small group and last time I had the grad students who lead the group all to myself. Tonight, however, I had the whole room to myself. I knit for a while (I'm telling you, a mile and a half before I can do toe decreases... this is what comes of having giant feet...) before leaving. This could easily be seen as some sort of cosmic joke at my expense. Instead, I'm choosing to view it as a much needed period of quiet reflection. Today was a good day and I'm not sure what I would have talked about if I'd been expected to participate in any kind of discussion.

I had a brief brush with fame earlier in the week. One of the ceramics tips that I submitted to Ceramics Monthly was published on Ceramic Arts Daily. It's like confirmation that I really am a ceramic artist, just when I needed it.

08 February 2008

I'm Committed, or should be

Andi's CHUMtoiral Socks
Originally uploaded by MysticSpiral
Knitting socks is an excellent metaphor for recovery from an illness. It takes patience and represents a large investment of time and only someone who has actually been there can really appreciate what you have in it. These are the socks that I blogged about back in October. I've not constantly worked on them all this time, and the progress on the other sock isn't quite as satisfying. I can see, however, that they will eventually turn into real, wearable, socks.

I feel much the same way about other areas of my life. I've updated my Etsy shop. The new shop announcement says that I'll be posting new items in the very near future. I'm hoping to have stuff for sale in the shop by March 1st.

I know that I'll be posting a couple of wrist distaffs, some shawl pins, and maybe some loose bead sets. I can feel spring in the air. The cold clay hurts my hands but once the weather improves some, I'll be able to get to work on some new clay pieces. I'm asking that people drop me a note in email or leave a comment to help keep me accountable and on task.

06 February 2008

MysticSpiral Update: All the news that's fit to print

The health problems which prompted me to close the MysticSpiral Etsy shop are still unresolved. While frustrating, this fact has also encouraged me to try to look at what I can accomplish within the limitations that I'm forced to work with. What it comes down to is, I am not capable of spending extended periods of time *NOT* making things. My production rates may be way down, and it may still be a challenge for me to get things down, but I'm slowly building stock that I'd like to be able to send to new homes. This means that I will be re-opening my etsy shop sometime in the near future.

The image above is a bronze and ceramic wrist distaff. It's a spinner's tool to hold the fiber from which you are working. When you're spinning on a drop spindle, you're not tied to one place the way that you are with a spinning wheel. For a lot of drop spindlers, walking and spinning go hand in hand. There are different ways to manage your working fiber. Many spinners simply wrap the length of top or roving that they're working with around their wrist and wear it like a bracelet. (I've always found that this is itchy for me... I have some weird sensitivity in the area around the scars from my hand/wrist surgeries and even things that don't bother me anywhere else drive me nuts there.) Others make a wrist distaff from yarn and beads that they can wrap their fiber around. (I find the clicking of the beads distracting and I've managed a few times to get my active spinning close enough to the fiber supply to grab a bit which isn't really helpful.)

For most of the winter, I have tucked my spinning fiber into the cuff of whatever long-sleeved top I've been wearing. This works great in cooler weather but prompted me to think about how much I was *NOT* looking forward to going back to the trailing fiber getting entangled with my work, or working with short lengths and an endless series of delays caused by grabbing more fiber and joining it to the spinning. Joining is an important and valuable skill but that doesn't mean that it's so much fun you want to do more of it than really necessary.

All of this prompted me to start trying to figure out a wrist distaff design that would work for me. Then one evening, as I snuggled with Sprout trying to get her to sleep, I started to visualize exactly what I needed. Once Sprout was asleep, I headed downstairs and out to the (unheated) studio to sit at the torch and make the first prototypes of my wrist distaff.

Wrist Distaff - with fiber (Prototype)