Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This is the art studio where I spend my Wednesday mornings... It's a bright, lovely place with about 25 other painters. Music on the boom box, coffee ready in the snack room, and always some yummy Bath and Body Works soap in the bathroom. We paint and chat about family, friends, and events in our lives - or concentrate quietly and let the rest of the world just fade into the background.
My easel is the one up against the window, with the small canvas on it.

I started painting in January of 2007, after my sister talked me into taking classes with her. She's a brilliant painter and actually teaches at the studio now, one day a week.

Current work-in-progress, but progressing at the speed of the average glacier... this is my fourth canvas, begun in March 2009. I took this picture in January 2010, and I've come only a little further since then. I've enjoyed it, but am beginning to get frustrated. Ready to do SOMETHING ELSE.




My third canvas, painted from a photograph taken by Nashville resident Donnie Beauchamp...
Finished in March 2009, and the original lives at my Dad's house.

This October, the studio will be hosting its semi-annual Student Art Show. I've participated in two so far, and it's an incredible amount of fun! The goldfinch will be this year's entry - I've tentatively entered the Nest With Blue Eggs, but really don't think I'll have it finished/varnished/framed in time. We'll see!

Fresh start.

I've spent over a year at home now, mostly working around the house and going to art classes and church. The first part of that year was spent in a state of being somewhat numb, mourning the loss of our little Mom and just sort of floating through the days.

Then, in December, a bolt of lightning struck - FlyLady.net, the home organizational website I subscribe to, instituted a chatroom. Having never experienced a chatroom before, I thought "what the heck!" and clicked right on in.

Long story short: Wonderful women from all around the globe also found their way into the room, and all of a sudden I was in the middle of a group of caring friends. They helped me make it through Christmas without Mom... and six months ago today, the Moderator asked me and another good friend if we would consider being volunteer Moderators ourselves. We both agreed, and spent six months of the most intense emotional work I've ever experienced. Rewarding, absolutely. Frustrating, depressing, stressful, addictive - all of those, too. Gone was the solitude I'd been craving - and gone also was any thought of creating ANYthing. Instead, I spent long, long hours at the screen with my co-Moderators, trying to motivate, energize, run interference, enforce rules, calm ruffled feelings, and eject troublemakers. Looking at the past six months, I can count on one hand the number of days I haven't been in that room.

Not. Healthy. I hit burnout Big Time, and knew I needed a solution.

Several days ago, I picked up my copy of The Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart by Julia Cameron. I had found the book years ago on a bargain table somewhere, and thought it would be a neat thing to read. Never did - until now. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I read one paragraph and realized that this was exactly what I need at this point in my world.

Three days ago I made the "official" start - writing three "Morning Pages" each day when I got up. Yesterday I began consciously making time for Work during the day. It's amazing the difference in how I feel . Instead of feeling sucked dry, I already feel alive, excited, open-eyed, and ready to step out and grab something new.

I left my old job because I need to work for myself, and WITH myself. Negativity, gossip, critical thinking, complaining and whining are poisons that I seem to be increasingly sensitive to - and those things seem to multiply with the number of human beings in a workplace - or a chatroom. Positivity Promotes Productivity. And I intend to be just as Productive - by MY definition of the word - as I humanly can.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Making jewelry has always been a sideline business for me... more for fun than for any profit. Usually I work in sterling silver, gemstones, and Swarovski crystal, making simple earrings and maybe a few strung bracelets.
Recently, a picture of a piece similar to this one caught my eye in a catalog. I used 14k gold-filled chain and findings, with Swarovski Crystal Pearls and crystals. All the beads are attached by wrapping the headpins - a lot of work, but they won't be coming loose! The bracelet weighs in at a hefty 1.9 oz.

I made this one for my sister's birthday, but you can bet there's a second one in the works for ME... and maybe some earrings for both of us! The photo makes the colors a little darker than in real life - it's shades of cream, gold, taupe, and copper, with "Vintage Rose" crystals to accent. I'm still deciding whether to make any for sale, since it's a higher-ticket item than my usual. But the process in making it was so satisfying... and I'm thrilled with how it turned out. :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Herbal Crafts, overview.

I'm starting with Lavender, to talk about herbal crafts. It's an all-round favorite, and so lovely in the garden... this picture shows two very different varieties:
Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote Blue' (on the left), one of the first plants I put into the yard when we bought our house in 1992. This particular plant is still going as of summer 2010, which is a REALLY long life for a Lavender in this area. It was waning bigtime in summer 2009, so I broke the rules and cut it back severely. Lavender can't read the rules, evidently, because in 2010 it's lush and gorgeous and blooming like crazy! I cut the stems when in bud, dry them, and sell them at craft shows - this plant has paid for itself many, many times over.
Lavandula 'Grosso' is on the right - what a behemoth! This plant is no longer with me, but measured 4 feet by 4 feet at its peak. I used the buds, removed from the stems, in bath herb blends and other potpourri.
This is an OLD picture of products I've made and
sold in the past. Clockwise from the "Finch House Herbals" sign:
* Weary Muscles Bath Salts (turqoise jar)
* Relaxation Bath Herbs - loose (standing up) and in sachets (lying on the table)
* Lavender Bath Salts (purple jar)
* Flaxseed Eye Pillows ( blue/green/pink)
* Bags of organic Catnip and Lavender
* Velvet Lavender Bunnies (stuffed with lavender buds)
I've discontinued the bunnies and the eye pillows, but may pick them back up at some point. The velvet for the bunnies is hand-embossed with different designs. I've also added Catnip Pillows, which are made from kitty-print fabric with a layer of denim underneath, and filled with organic, people-grade catnip.
Spicy stuff... another older photo.
Clockwise from the sign:
* Cinnamon Spice Simmering Potpourri
* Cinnamon pin and Christmas ornaments
* Spice mug mats, with a cinnamon/allspice/cloves/orange potpourri
* Spice trivets, ditto the potpourri filling!
Since these photos were taken, I've added several different potpourri types, including a Scented Pine Cone mix with a spicy essential oil blend for scent, and Little Balsam Bags, which are stamped muslin bags full of balsam needles and evergreen scented oil - to hang from an artificial Christmas tree for a "real" tree scent.

For most craft shows, I usually bring a selection of live herb plants from Thieneman's. I'm not sure I can get away with that any more for some of my "handmade only" shows, since I no longer have a hand in raising the plants - we'll see!

At the time of writing, craft show applications for fall are starting to roll in - I'll be posting a list to Facebook at some point for my local "peeps"!