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Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Today my grandmother, Grace Swick (aka: Maw Maw) departed for the pearly gates.  Believe it or not, I had a conversation with my late grandfather, Paul Swick, this morning on my commute to work.  I asked him to come get her.  Seems that he heard me.

Lately, I’ve been scanning hundreds of family photos from both sides of the family so I’ve seen literal snap shots of my grandmother’s life from when she was a child up to current times.  Being one in the family that takes a lot of photos, I’ve also enjoyed capturing Maw Maw sleeping on the couch or yawning.  Candid shots are the best!  Maw Maw was a beautiful child and woman and seemed to be enjoying life in those photos.  Either she was grabbing the horns of a longhorn steer or posing with her sisters; holding up a newly-made quilt or standing next to a rack of huge fish after a day of fishing on the water.  She usually knew where the camera was and was extremely photogenic.

I look back on the varied memories of visiting their house.  We kids would try to sneak up to the attic and we would play until we got caught.  That attic was a treasure trove for us.  I also loved it when she set up the red drinking bird on the table so I could watch it.  (I now have one of my own.)
Most times when we went to their house, she would be sitting in her chair shelling pecans, knitting or crocheting and there wasn’t a family event where you didn’t hear her walking around asking, “D’ya want some of my pie?” or “Have you had any Watergate, yet?”

Once, I found a bartender’s waist coat at Goodwill and brought it to Maw Maw to alter.  Little did I know that Maw Maw and Paw Paw worked together on many sewing projects.  Paw Paw knew quite a bit about clothes.  It was great to see them working together on my jacket.

I feel that today a new guardian angel was added to the crowd looking over us and I’m so happy she is back with her husband now, playfully pushing him away with a smile to avoid a silly kiss.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

It's True Because I Think It/Heard It

Today, I got into a debate with a woman on Facebook that thinks the "Fifty Shades of Grey" book series is about rape and other abuses of women.  She admitted that she didn't read the books but "skimmed" them.  This skimming seems to have made her "knowledgeable" enough about the books to write a long, scathing blog post about the danger of the books, the degradation in treating women well and how romance is being affected by this series of fiction.

I found that I needed to address it so I challenged her information.  Her response to me calling her out on her ridiculous attempt to use a series of books that she didn't read to illustrate the horrors of rape was, understandably, received unfavorably.  She was, of course, hurt and angry that I would challenge her ability to post an opinion.  Everyone has an opinion, whether it be informed or not.  What I don't appreciate is that she feels she needs to not only trash a set of books that MANY people liked (mostly women), and then went on to say that she wanted to warn people that the movie will probably suck.  WHAT?

Why even comment on something she knows nothing about and then make herself look even more moronic by putting on her fortune teller hat and predict that a movie will not be any good.

I completely understand reading the series and not liking it.  I read all of the books and while the writing was poor (I murmured), I enjoyed the story.  There wasn't rape or coercion like the blog post claimed. The woman in the story actually asked to be brought into that BDSM world. Not liking the series of fiction without reading it is like not liking curry but never tasting it. (Yes, that was me before I tried curry! I love it now.)

Another example was a meme (a photo with a saying on it) posted on my mother's Facebook page.  It was a photo of the Whitehouse at night.  The words on the photo are "I want a Whitehouse that honors God. Share if you agree"  First of all, WTF? Where did THAT information come from?  Does someone know that the Obamas snub God? Last I heard he is a Christian and goes to church. Hmmm....could it be because some folks think that religion should infiltrate our government on every level?

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

One of the main issues for our founding fathers was making sure that we don't have government-issued religion like England did.  The founding fathers wanted everyone to practice whatever religion they wanted.  It also was created to keep religion of out the decision-making process to keep it as objective as possible.

I got so mad that I posted a similar "WTH" post.  There was no response to my rant.  People create these memes and other digs and spread them around like mean girls on the playground.  They don't think twice about calling the President of the United States "Mr. Obama" instead of "President Obama" (Fox News).  Each time someone spreads these rumors and lies and diminishments, our society dies a little more.

I grew up gay in a small-ish town in Texas where "gay" was not spoken of.  When many of my gay friends came out to their families, they were briskly walked out the front door and never spoken to again. Some were beaten. I was lucky, my parents were more accepting than that.  The only reason I bring that info up is that there is no need for ostracizing of a family member because they liked the same sex.  There is no good reason that I was scared to death to tell my family that I like guys instead of girls.  I tried very hard to NOT like the same sex in junior high and high school.  I spent so much energy making sure I flew under the radar. I monitored how I talked, how I walked and how I carried my books.  I still got bullied and was called every gay name in the book...course, I didn't even know what sex was back then in 6th grade.

Kids commit suicide due to not being able to deal with the thoughts and stresses that come from being gay, not fitting in, being told it's a sin to love someone of the same sex.  They kill themselves.  Dead.  Because someone, somewhere decided that they didn't like it and told others that it was bad.  That it would cause you to burn in hell if you did that.  And you know what, the others believed it.  They knew it was "true", whether it was written in a book that was translated through 3 languages or because the preacher said it up on the pulpit or someone else whispered it in the school hallway.

We live in a society where someone can make up a lie and others will believe it hook, line and sinker.  We live in a society where we think our opinions need to be voiced, printed, published.  We believe so easily the reports on the news, the headlines in the paper and the covers of the magazines.  Sometimes we think for ourselves...or do we? 

I challenge each and every one of you to challenge what you hear.  To challenge what you think.  To challenge others when they say stuff that can't possibly be true.  Every time we look the other way, whether it be someone commenting "Oh, blacks own that house", or "I didn't read that book but it needs to be banned (read "burned")" we diminish ourselves and others. 

We are on this planet for a short period of time.   I challenge you (and myself) to learn for yourself, to take opinions with a grain of salt or question the information used to form that opinion, to be nice to others and build each other up.  Debate each other instead of blindly believing. Get the facts for a change.  I say "we" because I'm human and I get caught up in the hype and the social norms and the programming I got growing up in TX.  I bought a magazine the other day to find out once and for all if Bruce Jenner was getting gender re-assignment.  It says he is, so it's gotta be true!  Good for him!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

RIP My Grandfather, Paul Swick

I found out this morning that my maternal grandfather, Paul Swick (AKA: "Paw Paw Swick"), passed away in the early hours.  He was 93.  He was married to my grandmother for 72 years and she said today that she already misses him.  I can't be there for the service so I thought I'd say something here.

Paul Swick was born on 1/27/1921 and had 3 brothers and 3 sisters.  They were raised by their nurse/healer mother through the depression and when old enough, went into different armed forces.  My grandfather went into the army and was stationed in Las Vegas as a plane mechanic with my grandmother.  My mother was also born there.  Over the years, Paw Paw has told me bits and pieces of his time there in the army but not enough to piece together a whole story. 

This is a photo of my grandparents on a pier.  My grandfather was trying to kiss my grandmother and she wasn't having it.

 My grandfather with my sister, Debbie - Mid 70's.

Early family Portrait - Paw Paw in a brown jumpsuit.

Paw Paw worked for Exxon for 30 plus years in the refinery in Baytown (home of the world's largest gasoline refinery).  We usually saw him in a jumpsuit like the one in the picture right and left.  He sometimes worked the graveyard shift and he always seemed to be sleeping in his chair in front of the TV.

Paw Paw created toys for us out of string and bits of wood (see below) that would make a "whirring" sound as they wound and unwound and he could piece together a lawnmower out of spare parts he'd find around.  

"Spinny Things"
L to R: Doug, Diana, me, Debbie

He was so resourceful - partly because of how his great brain worked, and partly because of the necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention attitude he learned from experiencing the depression.  He was a wiz at creating clothing patterns for my mom's, aunt's and uncle's clothes, which my grandmother would sew, which amazed me.  I found out he had this talent when I took a vintage bartender's waistcoat to them to alter for me.  He knew what was what!  Maw Maw filled me in on how they would work together to create the homecoming/prom dresses for Mom and Judy, my aunt.

When Paw Paw was into stained glass, he asked me one day, "You've worked with stained glass, is there a 'grain' to some glass?"  I think there is and told him so.  He replied, "I thought so.  Some glass doesn't cut worth a shit!" and he cackled.  He had a cackle/laugh like no one else I've come across.  He sometimes mumbled and then would cackle.  We would laugh because of his laugh, but usually we had no idea what he'd said. 

He smoked a pipe for years and to this day, if I smell that tobacco, I think of him.

Later in life, he had cataracts removed and his declining health made it harder and harder for him to walk.  He stubbornly refused to use a walker for years until his "walking stick" proved unable to balance him as well as hold him up.  Finally, he thought a walker was a great idea. It was quite a blow to him when he was told he couldn't drive anymore, more like he was devastated. He finally came to terms with it and allowed my grandmother to drive him.
A few years back, we were able to get my nephew, Justin, and his wife and kids together in their backyard for a 5 generation family photo.  Paw Paw is in the middle with his trusty walking stick.

Maw Maw and Paw Paw during Christmas Eve this year at my cousin, Tricia's house.

This year I volunteered to pick up Maw Maw and Paw Paw from their house and bring them to my parents' house for Christmas Day lunch.  My father went with us and helped get him down the steep stairs at their house.  Paw Paw said a few times, "This is a lot of work for a free meal!" and then he'd cackle.  On the way to the house, he asked how Dennis was doing.  (He didn't recognize me anymore and didn't know I was sitting next to him driving the car.)  He asked, "Is he still creating things?  He was always creating and manufacturing something."  I replied, "Yes, he is."  Paw Paw said, "Oh, good."

He had been falling once a week or so due to balance issues and seemed to be an expert at pushing his Life Alert button.  Just after the beginning of the new year, he fell in the kitchen and broke his leg close to the hip bone.  He pushed the button on his necklace and was able to tell the person on the other end that he was pretty sure he broke his leg.  He was rushed to the hospital and after getting his blood levels corrected, he had surgery to repair his leg.  They found out that he also had pneumonia and drained his lungs during the same surgery.  Due to varied complications, he passed away. 

His wife (Grace), 3 children, 8 grand-children, 16 great-grand-children and 2 great, great grand-children are left to mourn his loss and he will be remembered as long as we live. 

I love you, Paw Paw. We'll miss you always. May you rest in peace, free from pain and the old body that annoyed you.  You once told me that you felt like your were still 18 but had a old man's body...I hope you have your 18 year old body back now.  I hope you're having fun up there!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mid-life Breakthrough

Creating and creating a living aren't always synonymous.  The thought of being able to do the things I love and make a good living at it is always there but the execution, the actual manifestation of it, has eluded me.  I seem to have the ability to use my imagination in many ways, creating fun creatures for Halloween and other holidays, making our large yard into something pleasing to the eye, and planning and producing events with my esteemed colleagues, but there isn't a money-making bone in that proverbial body.  This middle-aged time on earth is full of reflection, regret, brainstorming and frustration.

I saw a quote the other day, posted by my amazing husband, Robert.

“Transformation is my favorite game and in my experience, anger and frustration are the result of you not being authentic somewhere in your life or with someone in your life. Being fake about anything creates a block inside of you. Life can’t work for you if you don’t show up as you.”
― Jason Mraz

I'm not used to contemplating quotes by song writers but if something strikes a chord with me, I don't care if it was barked out by a seal.

I have had a level of frustration for years.  I used to only remember my dreams where I was completely frustrated during the whole dream. The only place I've felt really free was creating art or producing Halloween & Vine and now Hallowbaloo.  I'm passionate about it, I want to work on it all the time.  There is a variety of tasks that keeps me from ever getting close to being bored, yet I haven't figured out how to do it for a "real" living.  An amazing friend of mine is on the verge of a breakthrough in her event planning career and I've started tapping into her expertise and guidance to see what can be created.  The ongoing issue is paying the bills.  I have to contribute to the household and I've been doing it inauthentically.

I've been inauthentic in the sense that I have many talents and I've been working in an office as an assistant.  I've gotten good at what I do, but it's usually an empty expression of the difference I can make in the world. 

A placement agency found me a temp-to-perm job as an "Administrative Specialist" and I started there two weeks ago.

At first, the amount of learning was astounding.  Day one: learn all these spreadsheets to manage those spreadsheets; day two: here are two more teams to support, pat on the back, have a nice day.  I have never been more sure that the "office assistant" chapter of my life has to come to a close and something else needs to happen.  Until it did, though, I decided to enjoy the job, make it into something fulfilling and make a difference while I was there.  I got kudos from my managers, I made a few mistakes but I managed to keep up with my myriad tasks.  (I even heard one of my managers on the phone saying she wanted me to go with the team to an Alaska business trip.) Make the best of it, lemonade, not so bad....more lies.

Today, I got an email at 6pm from the temp agency that said my contract had been closed and I was NOT to go to work tomorrow.  I am not sure what went awry but I'm guessing I'll find out tomorrow morning when I call them.

The interesting thing is the flood of so many emotions: happy, confused, angry, feeling like I'm a bad boy (a particularly old way of feeling), hating that I have to find another inauthentic job to pay the bills.

I'm writing this all out to get some perspective, to see my random thought processes, to create a new set of action items AND a different way of thinking about my value and ability to contribute.  A transformation, a state change, is way over due and I think this is the catalyst for that transformation.

First, I should distinguish who I'm "being" about income.  I've been being stuck, having to be responsible, doing the right thing.  No surprise I was left feeling all those disempowering feelings.  And to think how long I've allowed it.  Being stuck is a story, a made-up concept, a lie.  Being stuck is simply a way to not be responsible for using my talents to make good money, listening to the cultural conversations that the majority of artists are starving, get a "real" job, get your head out of the clouds, blah blah blah.  All of our human experience is made up of concepts that were created inside of language.  We are born into these cultural conversations and learn how to be human and don't even know everything is made up.  We as creatures on the planet forgot that we made up what we know and now we think it's real.  It's to be believed, to be honored and a life with which to be stuck. I give up being stuck tonight.

Second, I need to throw my proverbial hat over the wall and declare who I'll be from now on.  The wall is high, I have no idea how to get over it/around it, but I throw my favorite hat over the top and now I have to figure it out so I can have my hat back.

I'm promising that within the next few weeks I will cause a transformation in who I am around contributing to our household finances. I've been feeling like a breakthrough is nearby, around the next bend, so close.  Time to take the actions necessary to cause it.  Breakthroughs are what happen when your insights are coupled with action, otherwise they're just good ideas.  It's useful for me to remember that, to thank the little voice for sharing when it says, "But...", to remind myself (and to have those around me remind me) when I forget that I declared that I am being someone else now, being in action toward a fulfilling, satisfying, joyful and lucrative career.

By the end of 2014, I will be generating a yearly income of a minimum of $50k with plans for doubling that by 2016. This will spell "breakthrough" for me because I will be doing the creative things I love, making money and being unstoppable. 

I will create a timeline, milestones and actions to accomplish this and let the people that support me know what I'm up to by 11/9/13 and I will update it as it evolves.  Thanks for being a part of my life and allowing me to unfold this on this blog.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Online Halloween Art Sale

All creations here are one of a kind, made by hand by me.
                  To make a purchase email me with the title of piece or number in
the Subject Window to:

Purchases will be made on a "first email received/first filled" basis. 
PayPal and credit card payments accepted. PayPal
invoices will be emailed after confirmation of purchase.
Shipping is included.
All items copyright 2013 by Dennis Haynes
Ghost O'Lantern ©  "Chris" - $32 (4.5"h x 4"w x 3" deep)

Ghost O'Lantern ©  "Pat" - SOLD - Thank you!

Ghost O'Lantern ©  "Kelly" - $32 (4.25" tall x 2" wide x 2"deep )
Ghost O'Lantern ©  "KK" - SOLD THANK YOU!
Ghost O'Lantern ©  "Cam" - $32 (4.5"tall x 4" wide x 2" deep)

Various Ornies: 2.5" high = $19 each; 1.75" high = $18 each; 5/8" high = $12 each
Two Faces at Midnight $185   (8"high x 5" wide x 4" deep)
Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos ornie/pendant $25  (2.25" diameter)

Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos ornie/pendant $25  (2.25" diameter)

Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos ornie/pendant $22  (1" diameter)

Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos ornie/pendant $25  (2.25" diameter)

Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos ornie/pendant $25  (2.25" diameter)

Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos ornie/pendant $22  (1" diameter)
The Grand Pumpkin  $225  
The luminaria jackolantern swivels to show the other expression. 
Battery-powered votive candles only (26"high x 5" wide x 5" deep)
 Krampus  $175
Krampus, the not-so-jolly, German sidekick to St. Nicolas, spanks naughty children or brings them to hell.  He doesn't waste time with coal!
(16" high including base x 4" wide x 5" deep)
Jackolantern Treat Box - Inspired by a vintage postcard  $42
(8" high x 4.5" wide x 3.25" deep)

Kernel Cobb is happy as can be that Halloween is near!
(23" high x 10" wide x 6.5" deep)

Little Bobby Trikortreet treat box  $42
Modified bobble head - (11"high x 4" round)

Dia de los Muertos/ DOD Automata. Hand embroidered. Slide the knob in and out and the faces move back and forth.  $250  (7" high x 14" wide x 2.5" deep)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Halloween & Vine is Nigh!

The one Halloween art show that I have been involved with this entire year is Halloween & Vine.  I'm one of the owners/producers of the show and this is our 2nd year to produce this 18-year old show.  I'm also a participating artist and my pieces are almost all done and priced and it's time to set up a mock booth to make sure all is in order. 

My new batch of creations are called "Ghost O'lanterns©" and I'm excited for their partying little booties to be debuted at the show along with wacky fascinator hats and other creations.

We have a great line up of artists, many of them new.  There will be some donated pieces raffled off with proceeds going to the Petaluma Animal Shelter.  There are three cat trick-or-treat buckets by Vergie Lightfoot and a collaboration doll we call "the Prince" who was passed between 9 of the H&V artists so they could add their touch to the doll.  Some of the contributions are intricate beaded cuffs, a crown, a tiny monster ceramic mug and orange snake-skin boots.  If you are in the area of Petaluma, CA, this is a must-go weekend.  Saturday is H&V from 9-3 and then Art is You...Trunk Show at 6pm.  Sunday is the huge Antique Faire and that is when I'll be setting out to drive back up to the NW!

There are so many other venues for finding Halloween creations across the country.  Ghoultide Gathering in Michigan is on the same day as H&V and Spirits in Sanford is in Florida on October 4.  Tinsel & Treasures is in Danville, CA on October 5. There are many online options like EHAG Emporium, SpookyTime Jingles and Halloween Artists and individual artists that have Etsy and Ebay stores or sell directly off their websites. Mine is Runamuck Studio (& Facebook page).

My friend, Robert Eberz, is a fantastic creator of fun characters with lots of detail and whimsy.  By day, he is a mild-mannered children's book illustrator (Splat the Cat) but by night, he is a creative guru with the ability to sculpt his creations with a touch of realism and a touch of fantasy.  He has a few new pieces in his "Gumples©" line available in his Grimm Grinz Studio Etsy store.  He also paints and has some great pieces there for sale as well.  Take a look below.

Whatever your Halloween taste, there are tons of options out there from "SUPER CUTE!" to the macabre.  Pinterest has a lot of photos that cover the entire spectrum if you want to give up a few hours (or more!).

I'll be posting photos and maybe video of Halloween & Vine soon after the show so stay tuned.  Thanks for following my blog.  I intend to post more frequently...Stop holding your breath!


Sunday, July 28, 2013

New Studio Up and Running

My studio in our new/old house is now completed and clean.  Not clean for long as I have a list of creations to make in time for Halloween & Vine!

The space is a former garage so it's long and narrow.  It is about 5' wider than my last garage studio and that's a good thing.  I'm sure I'll tweak things as we go along, but this is a great start.  

I would love to see other studios.  Where is yours?  How did you set it up?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mood Ring TILES!

I don't usually post anything about tile, but this has my attention.  Moving Color manufactures several different temperature sensitive tiles for the bathroom (or any other tile application).  

Custom creations are not a problem. "Choose your texture, color and temperature range and we will give life to your project."  

Cool Bathroom Tiles in interior design  Category

They even make a touch sensitive tile!Touch Sensitive Caribbean Ice - Temperature Sensitive Color Changing Ceramic Tiles

I've never used these tiles and can't really endorse them but it's another interesting find out on the interwebs! ;)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I'm Gettin' Married in the Mornin'

Thanks to Washingtonians, I able to legally marry my partner of 17 years.  Tomorrow is the day!  I noticed that my brain still has a bit of a struggle with calling my partner my husband.  I grew up in a small town in Texas and grew never considering I would ever have this opportunity.  Never once did I ever wonder what my life would be like with a husband - A boyfriend/lover/life partner, yes, but not "husband".

Well, that is all about to change tomorrow.  We have our cake ordered along with food.  I'm making the corsages and we're getting married at our friends house on the lake.
This is Ames Lake during the early morning with the toolie [sic] fog floating just above the calm, mirror-like water.

I'm excited and moved that I will finally marry my life partner, Robert.  I couldn't be happier with my choice of husband to continue spending the rest of my life with.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I'm finally in the studio with a zillion ideas running through my head.  Halloween & Vine is looming on the horizon. (9/28). Can't seem to simplify my sketches because these particular pieces will move.  One friend makes a suggestion ("What if some of your pieces moved?") and my mind sets to complicating my life.  Our brains are designed that way and I got a good dose of it.

I decided to start using up my 70 cigar boxes.  Don't think that I'm planning to use all of them up this year...or next year...or in 10 years.  There's a bunch of them.  I'll give some away when the opportunity presents itself, but until then I have a towering wall on one end of the studio.
Here are a few with the initial hole cut.  All the working parts will be inside except for the crank.  These are ear-marked for Dia de los Muertos and I finally figured out the "skin" on these.  I'm using several Mexican items for inspiration and needless-to-say, these are going to be bright, gaudy and fun!  In the back, you can see a Squasha scene.  She and her family are decorating for Halloween and laughing at the silly gourd dog's wacky hijinxs.  More to come soon as I gather supplies.  Keeping off the computer will be a boon to the Runamuck Studio production, but I promise to keep you informed.  See ya soon!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's been a while since the last blog!  Whew, the time is flying and I'm finally bumping up my time organization a notch or two to manage all the things I need to.Halloween and Vine is a blast to work on.  Sure there are speed bumps (sometimes they feel much bigger, like brick walls), and we work them out and move on.

I'm playing in a big game and with that come big breakdowns.  Can't play a big game and not have those from time to time.  (I know...too bad! ;)

The next item on my agenda is getting in the studio and spending some quality time.  I have lots of sketches and the materials standing by patiently waiting for me to begin a new batch of creations and they're not going to create themselves.

With a finger on the left hand mending (broke a tendon), my allergic reaction rash finally fading away, 40-hour work week and our wedding coming up soon (4/21), organization is going to be key to getting it all done.

My first creation is an automata.  When you turn the crank on the side, the skulls eyes dart back and forth and a worm pops out of the head with a bit of the skull as its hat.  This was a bear to create but after 4 tries and 4 holey cigar boxes, Oli is done.

Now on to the next one!

Have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Halloween & Vine 2013

Keeping my eye on the prize (Halloween & Vine), I'm always on the lookout for supplies.  Cheap or free are preferred, of course.  One of our tenants at work is leaving his space.  They sold fine wine and cigars and the place reeks of smoked cigars...ugh.  Because the tenant is closing up shop, he was very generous with his cigar boxes (I got about 60 wood boxes), a lighted display (don't know where I'll put it) and a crusty "Fall" arrangement (I pulled 18 long pheasant tail feathers out of it and tossed the rest).

I know I won't use all the boxes, not sure what I'll do with the display case since it has no shelves and haven't a clue where I'll use all 18 feathers, but a free find is a free find!  (hang on, Hoarders Anonymous is calling....   Ok, I'm back.)

Many times, if I don't have any specific inspiration, I'll just look at my stuff (organized and labeled, btw) and let the supplies inspire me.  When my friend asked me to make something that moves for H&V, I thought of automata ( or  Then I ran across those great wood cigar boxes - Voila!  I have the perfect base for some creations.  Soon, the ideas started to flow and I now have sketches for 8 or so.  I have plans for other genres, too, but the automata will definitely be the challenge.

[I'm still on the hunt for sources for all things creative.  If you have a favorite website that you think is stellar, let me know.  I'll post some of these every month, just in case anyone is looking for something and can't quite find it!]

I'd love to know where you find your inspiration for the things you create.  Feel free to comment!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Visit to Texas

Every Christmas my partner, Robert, and I go to Texas to visit my family for 10 days or so.  Every year I notice the Texan in me come back out and I notice the pride and culture that is quirky Texas. The first photo down at the bottom reads, "From Texans For Texans" with a Texas flag in the shape of Texas.  This was in a local grocery store.

This item, along with other animal prints was available at the local Hobby Lobby.  It's fur garland for the Christmas tree or wrapping presents!  UGH.  I haven't been to the Hobby Lobby here in the Seattle area so I don't know if this is a local thing or company wide.  But it sure made me laugh.  (No, I didn't buy any of this!)

In Texas, another name for a laundromat is "washateria".  In Baytown, there is this new combination of beer drinking and clothes washing...Washabeeria!  Texans and their beer!

And last but not least: the famous lone star.  You will always know you are in Texas by the highway system decor. Here is a Lone Star for every post.  As common as the name "Bubba"!  We love our star!

As much as I make good fun of Texas, I still am proud to be from there.  Seeing these things reminds me of where I'm from, of what I grew up with and the culture therein.  I didn't grow up with oil wells in my back yard but they were all around.  We never had long horns growing up but now there are 3-4 herds grazing on empty land in town.  (Makes me smile!)

I'm happy I got to spend the time in Tejas this December and catch up with family and friends.  Next year, I'll figure out some kind of party so I can catch up with more friends in one swoop...maybe a hoe-down!  (Just kidding!)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Managing a Busy Year

I'm running two time lines simultaneously: Winterville Christmas Barn and Halloween & Vine.  For Winterville, I'm looking for great artists and craftspeople to stock my barn at the Adobe Pumpkin Farm in Petaluma for the weekends during October.

For Halloween & Vine, I'm the show assistant as well as an artist for the first time in the show.  It is September 29.

Both of these venues happen/start on the same weekend!  I'm glad I've already started on getting both complete.  I've created a time line for each.  I looked at the weekend of 9/29 and wrote down everything that had to be accomplished by that day, then worked my way back to April, breaking up everything into little milestones/goals along the way.  This is the only way I know to get so much done without going to the dreaded space of "overwhelm".  Like I told my good friend Lesley, the only way to eat a whale is one bite at a time. (you can insert elephant, moose, manatee, T-rex, etc.)

If you are working on a project, I invite you to try the timeline approach.  Create realistic milestones so that you can get everything done in time and not have to pull your hair out or run around like a big ole, nasty, headless chicken doing it last minute.

I'm also embarking on an endeavor to be a resource for art supplies, for obscure things that sometimes people need, but can't readily find.  Each week (or more) I will post links to awesome websites that I find in my search for supplies.  This is something that I love to do and giving the info away is even more fun. I mean, we need to help each other out, right!?  If you find a great source, let me know and I'll post it.

This weekend I'm going to finish at least one of my H&V pieces (Dia de los Muertos Squasha)

And I'm going to Harvest Barn Estate Sale AND I'm going to try out a nursery that I just learned about in town.  Gotta mix it up or I wouldn't be me!

Have a great one, talk to you soon!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Winterville Christmas Barn in Petaluma, CA

Today I set up a Facebook page for the all-new Winterville Christmas Barn at the Adobe Pumpkin Farm in Petaluma, CA.  My friend Lesley Papola runs the Farmer's Wife Barntique there and enlisted me to run the Christmas shop in it's own barn.  Well,since I love barns, Christmas and Halloween/Fall, it was a no-brainer!

As you can see, the barn is good sized and very cool.  I will be setting up an entire Christmas store stocked mostly with local artist's work.  A whole range of mediums will be represented from chabby chic, to fine folk art.  I'll have displays and lights and hot apple cider and music...plenty of Christmas music!

The Adobe Pumpkin Farm is such a destination spot in the "North Bay".  It's only about a 45 minute drive north from San Francisco sitting on 30 acres and there is something for just about everyone. A petting zoo, tractor rides, a corn maze, pony rides, the best selection of pumpkins and gourds, cut flowers and games for children.  There is also a coffee spot and a haunted house.

For those shoppers interested in a feast for the eyes, there is the Halloween barn filled with fun Halloween decorations, the Farmer's Wife Barntique showing antiques, shabby chic items, jewelry and fine Halloween folk art by local artists.

And, of course, "Winterville Christmas Barn" opens it's barn doors officially this year.  I took this on as a challenge to grow myself as an entreprenuer and to have fun.  I'll have antiques as the "bones" of the boutique to display all the Christmas decor and fine folk art.  Again, we will be striving for a high percentage of locally-made items and I'm interested to see what kind of interest I get.

I figure I'll see what's being offered and pick a little of everything as long as it's well-made and goes with the season.  It's a Christmas-in-October experience, but once you leave the pumpkins behind and walk through the door, it's going to be all Christmas!

Feel free to "like" my Facebook page (the link is above) and I hope to see you one of those weekends in October!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's the first week of Spring.  I suppose it's a clich√© to say, "Where did the time go?" so I won't say it... Many exciting things are around the bend toward the end of this year and I'm in full-swing getting ready for them.  I've already completed a batch of 40 or so Day of the Dead glass ornaments and have another 12 ideas started, each in some stage of construction.

My grand wishes for my art "path" are starting to show fruition.  Many of the milestones that I created will be completed this year and I can only imagine what I'll create next.

impatient- adjective:  not willing to wait or delay 

I've found that I'm extrordinarily patient (read: procroastinate) when it comes to many facets of my life and then there are areas where I'm impatient.  There was an article on the internet (which I can't find anymore) regarding "impatience".  Since impatience is usually viewed as a bad trait, I thought it refreshing to read this article.  This article was actually extolling the virtues of being impatient.  Many breakthrough inventions, new technologies and rocket-like success were due to being impatient.

Being impatient regarding my art path is energizing for me. I've heard from some of my favorite artists how long it took them to "pay their dues" and I've never been happy to hear it.  Too bad for me, right?!  I don't always subscribe to all the rules especially when they don't provide what I want, when I want. Anyone can probably picture a pouty-lipped, 4 year old child in the aisle of a grocery store stomping his foot while holding a plastic water gun that he just plucked off the shelf that he can't live without. Sometimes, that would be me.

I follow most of the rules that make life work but just because someone takes a certain path doesn't mean I have to follow it right?  Even if it ends up where I want to be...right?  I have been intent on causing a breakthrough in my art "expression" for some time and thanks to the internet, I've made some strides.  I know fantastic artists who work in many mediums who inspire me to spend more time, do better work and have more fun!

As I've gotten more involved in the community of folk artists, I've added to my list of milestones.  Being part of a national art show - either as an artist or an event coordinator is one of them.  Then I think, "Why can't I do both?", or, "Why can't I do my own event?", or, "How fast can I get this accomplished?".  My imagination runs away into fantasy-land-I-want-it-now. I then take those thoughts and look at what actual tasks/milestones need to be accomplished by a certain date to fulfill the fantasy and then push myself because I am impatient.  It's more of a designed impatience - I know I'm doing it (most of the time) - and I 'generate' it when I realize I'm coasting and another milestone is on the horizon.  I use intentionality to actually complete all the little milestones to provide measurable results.

I am officially taking on assisting the new partners of Halloween and Vine, a national folk art show in Petaluma in September (details soon) and I am also completely accountable for the Winterville Christmas Barn at the Adobe Pumpkin Farm during the month of October.  This is definitely a capacity-building, awe-inspiring, bit-off-a-lot-to-chew year for me and I'm so excited to get started.  I'll be blogging as I accomplish big milestones so those of you can see my progress and see my mistakes (I'm sure there won't be any of those!)

I'm planning on having impatience and intentionality to drive me to the next level(s) this year.  I intend to empower the H&V partners and be gracious, generous and passionate in these endeavors.   I intend to cause a breakthrough in my self-expression such that the art community in Petaluma knows who I am, friendships are formed and folks are empowered around me and causing miracles in the things they are up to. Most of all, I intend to have fun...that's the best part!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's December, and in some places (not San Francisco where I live) there is snow and snow people.   Here is a tutorial making a fun snowman ("Mr. Blizzard").  The main ingredient is Creative Paperclay ®.

Ingredients for fun:
Creative Paperclay ® Modeling Material
3 sizes of foam ball
bamboo skewer
wire hangers
hand-dyed bottle brush tree
mini garland
acrylic paint
wood base
floral tape
3" screws
decorations and trinkets that you already have

First I cut a smidge off the bottom of the largest foam ball so it would sit well. Then I skewered the balls together with glue between them.

Next, I opened the wire hangers up, straightened them and stuck 5 through holes I made in the middle foam ball with another skewer. (I had to then use a chopstick to make the hole big enough for the wires.)

I wrapped the wires with floral tape all the way to the ends and around the fingers to bind the wires together and finish the fingers. Bend the arms and position the fingers as you would like. Paint and seal the arms with browns to resemble branches.

I used a pasta machine to roll the modeling material and used a paint brush to paint glue on the balls right before adding the Creative Paperclay ®.  Keep water nearby (I use an old butter tub) to wet your fingers and tools when blending.  

Cover the entire body with modeling material making eyes, mouth or any other details you want.  I pushed a rubber heart stamp into the wet material to add a nice touch.  Let dry.

[Note: if you get any cracks as the material dries, simply paint some glue into the crack and  add some more paperclay.

When dry, sand and paint (gesso first if you like).  I added a bit of wire hanger pushed into the nose to support the large carrot (also made of Creative Paperclay ®).

I painted 2 coats of white acrylic paint.  I sprinkled glitter in the second coat of wet paint.  I painted the eyes and sealed with a matte finish coat on the arms and eyes.  I used some cut up skewer bits for the coal mouth.

I painted and sealed a wood base like a holly leaf. I pre-drilled 3 holes in the base and put 3 long screws about 3" long each from the bottom into the body of the snowman (with glue)  to secure it to the base.

Now comes the fun of "accessorizing".  I created a wreath from the mini garland, decorated the bottle brush tree and top hat. A piece of an old silk tie is his scarf.

This one took some time and we're keeping him! Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  You can make just about anything with Creative Paperclay ®.