Friday, February 29, 2008

Free Bling Friday Number 38!

It's Free Bling Friday time! Congratulations to Free Bling Number 37 winner, Mary M. from Palm Bay, FL. The next entry is a cute and dainty little pair. These little blue swirled lampwork beads are just a tad smaller than a dime in diameter, the perfect size for fun, petite earrings. I've accented the lampwork simply with lt. sapphire Swarovski crystal bicones. They hang approximately 1" on sterling silver posts. If you are this week's winner and prefer French wires, no problem; just let me know when I notify you. Another fun little note on this pair....click on the photo to enlarge and you can really see me taking the picture in the silver on the posts.

To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, March 13, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn Friday, March 14. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Pieces Coming Soon!

Sometimes I create a piece that is truly hard to part with. This is one of them! I just finished this last weekend. It's named "Childhood" because that's what the colors remind me of. I'll have to think about whether or not I want to list it. If I do, the price will probably reflect my desire to keep it. :-) I'll have all my new pieces up by this weekend. Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Melody's Wish


I have a post of a different nature tonight. I want to tell you about a friend of mine who has asked for help. Melody and I have been friends since we were 12 and became very close friends in high school. We did pretty well staying in touch after our high school graduation, but lost track of each other about a year after our 10-year reunion. When our 20-year reunion was approaching, I was pregnant with the girls. I told DH I really wanted to go to the reunion simply to try to reconnect with Mel, but I knew I’d probably be on bed rest by then; the reunion date was less than two months before my delivery date. Then a crazy thing happened. About two weeks before the reunion, I was sent over to our area high risk specialist for monitoring. As I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for my appointment, a tall blonde woman, looking remarkably like Mel, walked in and sat down with her husband. She looked to be fairly close to delivery as well. Not wanting to embarrass myself, I casually walked over to the front desk to look at the sign-in sheet. Though I didn’t recognize the last name, I recognized Melody’s handwriting immediately. It was Mel! I sat down next to her, and she had the same reaction I did. It was Kelly!

Since then, we’ve had so much to catch up on. She delivered Wyatt about three weeks before Sarah and Olivia were born; we were both early and delivered by emergency c-section. As we started talking more and more again, we learned we had both lost our moms about the same time, hers to cancer. We had also both gone through extensive infertility treatments for our little bundles of joy. When she was pregnant with her second child, Nathan, also conceived through IVF, a mutual friend of ours lost a baby to SIDS, but we didn’t know it was a mutual friend until it happened. The baby was one of twins, and the father worked with Mel. She emailed me asking if I knew anyone with that last name in my twins group; I checked our roster, but the name didn’t strike me as a member. But a moment later something else did. Melody is a police officer. I dated a guy in college who is also a JSO officer with that last name. I called her immediately, and I still remember the heartbreak of that realization. They had been working together for years, and we never knew the connection. Miracle of all miracles, that old boyfriend and his wife welcomed a second set of twins just six days before the one-year anniversary of their loss. And on my birthday, no less!

So back to Melody and her wish. Having had some bad luck in love, she waited until she was in a truly stable marriage before trying to have children, then learned that that was not going to be as simple as she and Mike had hoped. She’s experienced a few miscarriages along the way to her two beautiful boys, yet she’s always imagined having a large family with three or four children. She’s been through two more rounds of IVF but hasn't had any luck and knows she's running out of time. She told me about her childhood memories of traveling to Disney World with her cousins in tow, made all the more fun because of the sheer number of youngsters going. She wants that for Wyatt and Nathan…another sibling or two to make great memories with. Before the death of her mom, she and her sister had drifted apart a bit, but they’ve now rekindled their relationship and she’s very thankful for that. Five years older, Kerri can fill in holes that Mel can’t remember about their early childhood. She wants that for Wyatt and Nathan…another sibling or two to help get them through life’s trials. Furthermore, Mel was 38 when Wyatt was born and 41 when Nathan was born. She’s realistic; as sad as it may be, she and Mike may not get to meet their grandchildren here on Earth. She wants that for Wyatt and Nathan…another sibling or two to share their lives with after she and Mike are gone.

So Melody’s wish is to have another child, yet she can’t do this on her own. She needs help. She and Mike are now hoping to adopt, though she is also open to surrogacy even though she knows chances of finding a surrogate are very slim. They're working with a lawyer who has encouraged them to share their wish with anyone who will listen, as many adoptions happen through connections like what can be generated here. So that is Melody’s wish. And my wish? My wish is that you will share this. Share it with your friends and family, for you never know who may have the answer for a family in need and a family with hope. If you hear of any leads, please have them email me and I’ll connect them with Melody and Mike.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Paper and Fabric Feathered Friends

I love birds! I stumbled across this little guy and thought it was the most unique, creative thing I've seen on Etsy in quite some time. Isn't he adorable? It was made by Angela of Cotton Bird Designs in Shropshire, England. The description reads: "This little bird is cut from copies of a collection of bird inspired stamps. Approximately 23 stamps were used to make this unique little stamp bird. It would make a lovely companion for a philatelist! Made using my own hand drafted pattern, it's completely hand stitched using embroidery thread and filled with hypo-allergenic fiber. The eyes are embroidered, and feet are hand made using florist wire." He's about four inches tall and four inches head to tail. Wouldn't he make a cute addition to your desk? (I want him for myself, but I have to wait since I just blew my budget at the bead show this morning!) Check out all of Angela's little friends here.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

TTV Photography by Suzanne Clements

I've always enjoyed playing around with photography and lately I've become intrigued with TTV photography. TTV stands for "through-the-viewfinder". This blog post has a good description of it; it points to another blog post with a tutorial. I must try this! But first, that would mean I'd have to have an old camera! The oldest I currently have is a circa 1985 35mm Pentax I got in college. Speaking of "circa", have you ever seen that Antiques Roadshow commercial in which the wife asks the husband, "Have you set the circa 1994 timing device with plastic casing and LED lettering?" That cracks me up. I realize I may be the only person who feels that way but I will admit to being an Antiques Roadshow junkie. :-) But, I digress...

Back to the photography, until I can find an old camera, I've been enjoying TTV photography done by great photographers I've found on Etsy. Suzanne Clements' work really caught my eye. Isn't this gorgeous? She has quite a few lovely shots in her Etsy store here. I hope to put my camera to good use over the next few days photographing some new jewelry pieces I've completed, so stay tuned!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Behind the Camera: Out There...

This picture was starring back at me when I powered up my computer this morning, and it's just stuck with me all day. Another one of my favorites, I think the girls weren't quite a year old here. I call the picture "Out There....". And I realized there's much more to the concept of "out there" than what's sitting on your back deck just outside your French doors. Leah's Creative Every Day blog directed me to another post a couple weeks ago on Christine Kane's blog about procrastination and taking chances that really hit home with me, making me take a closer look at life in general, not just life as art. I will definitely be visiting Christine's blog more often!

As I shared after my playdate with Wyanne, I've been wanting to branch out and try new things with my art. Time is certainly a factor, but so is procrastination and fear. The fear of failing, the fear of looking like an idiot, the fear of people thinking "just who the heck does she think she is anyways?" That's always there. Sometimes procrastination, for me anyway, can be the result of a lack of confidence. "If only I have that one more batch of supplies, I'll be able to try that," I'll tell myself. Wyanne said she once had that same paralysis clouding her vision. Yet I know the supplies have nothing to do with it, as my DH will attest to considering the mountain of art supplies I have taking over my workshop. Have you ever experienced that in life? That procrastination brought on by fear? I know it hits me often.

Then there's that other "out there" I've been thinking about. I'm in one of those catch 22's of life. I love what I do everyday (okay, most days anyway...). Working in Student Life is definitely an experience like no other; the bonds I've made with students are irreplaceable, and sure, I do get to have a lot of fun sometimes. It's hard to beat a four-day trip to New York City. Yet it's also a very demanding field, both in time and in energy, and because of that, there is a lot of turnover in this field. At times I consider shifting over to teaching full time should that opportunity present itself. I'm teaching a class this term; I enjoy it, and it would certainly give me more time and less work travel...yet I'd really miss the types of relationships I develop working with students in the role that I do now. So what do you do? I'm not quite sure. I guess there's give and take, good and bad in everything, and it comes down to weighing the options.

And that comes back to the "out there". We never really know what's "out there" until we actually go out there....whether that be putting that first dab of paint on a new art project, considering a change in career, or even just trying to make a new friend by reaching out to a fellow mom at the playground. I guess it comes down to pushing that procrastination and fear aside and just taking that first step, whichever way it may lead you. So are you ready to take yours?

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Monday, February 18, 2008

The Other Sister Hangbags

I have been lusting after the botanical handbags by "The Other Sister" for a while now. These are just so incredibly yummy. Here's the description straight from the listing for this bag:

"SPECTACULAR! Small botanical bag with fabric petals and stalk-like handle; INTERIOR: 4" deep, 4" wide at the top, 5.5" wide at the base; EXTERIOR APPEARANCE: 6" deep, 7" wide; top opening is 1", circumference is 16" - room for lipstick, license/CC, tiny phone, handkerchief - Delightful." Sister j.j. says, "My one-of-a-kind handbags and art-to-wear purses are created completely in my studio, from idea to design. This is my original concept in which I do not use a pattern: you will be the only person to own the exact bag pictured here! All are well-made, durable, and have unique combinations of materials for a very natural effect."

The sisters have dozens of different botanicals is as well as lots of other fun stuff. Given the craftsmanship that appears to go into these bags (based on the pictures!), their prices are very reasonable. Visit their store here.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

After a Day with Wyanne


I spent the day playing around with Wyanne in her studio on Friday. So much fun! It was so nice to sit around with a friend and play with no deadlines and no particular “must do’s” in mind. This is the piece I created. Can’t say it’s a showstopper, but at least I learned an awful lot! There are actually several layers to this piece. First I painted the canvas and then collaged background papers over that, and then I added a little more paint here and there. Next I colored the house with watercolor crayons and pencils, adding a little water to blend them in, and collaged the house to the piece. I stamped the trees with a rubber stamp I had and then added some painted touches to the trees and the bushes up front. The “107” and “home” were the final additions. One of the best things about learning how to do something is learning how not to do something! There are definitely some mistakes in there, but I’ll better know what to do next time because of them.


Once I finished, Wy told me she actually walked me through a lot of advanced techniques, simply so I could see that it’s doable. She then suggested I go home and try to recreate the piece I brought her as something I really liked, since she felt it was a much simpler process than the one I carried out in her studio. I think my biggest challenge will be that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Wy said that’s what makes me a very good jewelry designer…but I’ll need to let a little bit of that go to work with collage and mixed media. But I’ll give it a shot….when I can carve out the time.

That’s my issue. Time. At my guitar lesson the past two weeks, we’ve put the guitar aside and played around on the piano (Gary teaches, guitar, piano and drums…) We’ll do that occasionally when I’m getting frustrated with the guitar; piano was my first love so it reminds me that I do have some musical talent! :-) Gary taught me the basics of a jam session without music, something I’ve always wanted to learn how to do. Put a piece of sheet music in front of me and I can rock with Mozart, but I never learned the techniques behind just jamming in a particular key, essentially creating your own music. It was fun! And once he showed me the secrets behind it and I started catching on to the rhythm behind the chops, what I thought was hard was really much simplier than I had imagined. I happily realized I could probably pick up the technique fairly easily…given the time to practice it. Time is most definitely my most precious commodity.

I’d love to play around with the collage and mixed media techniques Wyanne taught me, and hopefully I’ll get to do that before I forget what she showed me, but for now, I must get back to the jewelry bench. I have my first arts festival of the spring coming up in less than three weeks, the Bartow Bloomin’ Arts Festival, March 8-9. Par for the course, I’m sure I’ll be up until midnight the full week before the show building up my inventory… In the meantime, I’ll have tons of collage ideas running around in my head keeping me up at night. Thanks so much for a great day, Wyanne!

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Free Bling Friday Number 37!

It's Free Bling Friday time! Congratulations to Free Bling Number 36 winner, Ginny L. from Fruit Cove, FL. The next entry is the final available pair in my Pink Ladies series; these just need a home! This pair is named "Where's the Pink?" since it's the rebel to the Pink Ladies club. These two little beads were part of the same bead set torched by Nancy Zapata but only had a tiny little touch of pink in them. They are really different! They hang approximately 1 1/2" on sterling lever backs. All accents are sterling silver. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, February 28, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn Friday, February 29. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Playdate with Wyanne

My dear friend Wyanne Thompson has some gorgeous new original art up for auction in her ebay store. This is just one of several! Be sure to visit her ebay store and her etsy store to check out all her new work. Wyanne is such an inspiration to me. She took the chance to set up her own studio, right on Centre Street in downtown Fernandina Beach for those of you who know the area, and she spends her days in her studio creating and marketing her art. That would be my dream!

I’m taking a day off tomorrow to go up and spend the day with her playing. She’s going to teach me some of her art techniques and I’m going to teach her some of my jewelry techniques, particularly wire wrapping, which I’ve finally mastered after three years. Wy’s been doing some cool stuff on her blog too, making and posting You Tube videos of each of her finished works and the process she goes through. Check out her blog here. So looking forward to our play date, Wy!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Kids Art Installment Number 3--Amelia

I ordered some great little mixed media flowers from Laurie of Gifts and Talent and just got them in the mail this weekend. They are the perfect gifts for Sarah's and Olivia's teachers for Valentines Day! Laurie has lots of very fun mixed media things in her store at very affordable prices.

I found Laurie through that long forum thread about encouraging kids' art I wrote about here. Her daughter Amelia is a little budding artist and likes to share her work, so Laurie has a section in her store titled "Things by Amelia". Laurie sent me this giraffe print and her ballerina print as a thank you for my flower purchase. They will go up on my inspiration wall in my workshop, along with my girls' art and my other great Etsy finds. Please check out Laurie's offerings here. Thanks again Laurie! Best of luck to both you and Amelia!

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Charming Sam Voting is Up! Please Go Vote!

The Charming Sam Valentine Angel Challenge voting has begun! I'd be honored if you would vote for me at this link. Click on the box in front of Kelly W and then scroll down to the bottom of the box to "Cast Your Vote". Given that this was my first attempt at collage, mine is far from the best of the bunch, but I hope you'll at least give me an A for effort. :-) See the two pieces I created for the challenge below. Voting runs through February 13. Since I've been out of town for the past four days, I'm late in getting the word out! Thanks for voting for me!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Charming Sam Angel Challenge


Creative Every Day: Written by Amy Steinberg, Charming Sam is one of the blogs I read regularly. She put up a Valentine’s Challenge at the first of the year, and to make myself try something new, I decided to give it a shot. We were given one picture to work around, the angel. These are the two pieces I came up with. In the one above, I stuck with traditional Valentine colors. In the one below, I went with my favorite colors and tried to work around the words in the song so the phrases I wanted to come through were readable. Click on the photo to enlarge and you’ll be able to see them better. The music is “Have I Told You Lately” by Van Morrison and then Rod Stewart. It’s the song my DH and I danced to at our wedding.

These were my very first attempt at collage, so I’m pretty happy with the way they turned for a first try! Once the voting starts, I’ll let you know so you can go vote for me! For now, please tell me which one of these you like better and why in the comments box. Thanks!

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Mt. Joy School--Etsy for Autism

I’ve been admiring Debra Campbell’s work for a while, and I couldn’t resist this one. It now hangs in my workshop for inspiration. Both of Deb’s children have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorders; her daughter Kathryn, 7, has Asperger’s (with ADHD) and her son Jackson, 5, has classical Autism. Deb participates in an Etsy street team called Etsy for Autism. 100% of this purchase went to the group Autism Speaks.

From her profile, “I live in a quaint, but crumbling, restored 1885 one-room schoolhouse called Mt. Joy School surrounded by picturesque Pennsylvania farmland, with my two tots and a lovable, geeky husband. I am a professional artist with a graduate degree. I am not self-taught, nor is art my hobby. Formerly employed as adjunct faculty in art at two local colleges, I stopped teaching after my second child, my son, was diagnosed with autism. Simply put, my presence was required at home to direct his therapy. I've never met an artistic media that I did not like.”

I was so happy with this piece when it arrived that I’m keeping my eye out for another! Check out Deb’s art here, and search for other artists donating some of their proceeds to autism research by entering “Etsy for Autism” in Etsy’s search bar on the top of the Etsy home page.

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Free Bling Friday Number 36!

It's Free Bling Friday time! Congratulations to Free Bling Number 35 winner, Shayne G. from Atlanta. Here's the next entry: smokey quartz semi-precious gemstone briolettes wire-wrapped onto sterling silver hoops with lt. Colorado topaz Swarovski crystal dangles for a little extra sparkle. They have a light, swingy feel to them. The briolettes themselves are about the height of a dime, making the total length of the earrings about 1 1/2". All accents are sterling silver. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, February 14, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn Friday, February 15. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website!