Sunday, 4 August 2013

Inspired by Nature

Wrapped in Nature's Embrace
Okay.  I'll admit, I've got a bit of a weird, kooky side to me that delights in things edgy and a little "out there".  I also, however, have a soft spot for the beauty found in nature, especially woodland life.  Growing up, we used to spend some time at a cottage up north and one of my absolute favourite things to do was to simply walk in the woods and examine all the wonderful and interesting things growing, living, and moving in there.  I loved the quiet that was only disturbed by the occasional call of a bird, chirp of a cricket or song of the wind traveling through a variety of trees and other flora.  One of the loveliest trees, in my opinion, was always the birch trees.  I loved how their satiny, white bark would peel off in gorgeous curls, and I adored the patterns created by the sooty, dark slashes that would form vertically up the trunk and branches.  It's this love of the birch trees that has inspired some of my favourite jewelry pieces.  Here are a few pics, hope you enjoy!

Nature's Wonder Wearable Whimsy
Birch Branch Necklace with Bracket Mushrooms

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Cheeky Monkey!

I'd like to introduce you to my latest creation, Seymour, for sale in my My Etsy Shop

This guy's a bit of a cheeky monkey. I met him the other day while walking to the park on The Other Side. I had heard that the pampoloompus buds had finally opened and the scent was incredible. It's said that by inhaling their heady aroma, one's wrinkles smooth out and you can loose up to five pounds! Well, "Sign me up!" I declared as I marched down the winding pathways that led to Fellatifus Park. This determination is probably why I didn't see Seymour as he rocketed towards me on his skateboard. In fact, it wasn't until he ran over my foot and went flying into a fortuitous pillowfluff bush that was at the side of the path, that I even noticed he was there.

"Hey lady, watch where you're putting your feet!" He smirked as he collected his board and brushed off his toque. "Where're you headed anyway?" he asked me. I told him I was heading off to smell the ripe pampoloompus flowers, at which point he stared at my face and with his characteristic smirk, declared: "You look like you could use it!"

Little imp.

Basically good-natured and fun-loving at heart, Seymour sits approximately 2 1/2" tall (he's about 3 1/4" long from the tips of his tennies to the top of his toque). Entirely hand-made and completely one of a kind, Seymour is crafted out of polymer clay with movable arms and legs. He said he wouldn't go anywhere without his precious skateboard, so we'll be sending that along too.

Perhaps with the proper environment and influence, Seymour can become a fine, upstanding young man...though to be honest, I think I like him better the way he is - cheeky monkey!

Monday, 10 June 2013

"Let's Peek Through, The Polka Dot Door..."

So, the other day, as I was browsing Instagram, another of my obsessions these days, I came across a fantastic pic by photographer tonydetroit of a Polka Dot house:
Instantly, the theme-song to a beloved 80's TV Ontario children's show, popped into my head:  "The Polka Dot Door".  I loved that show.  It gives me the warm and fuzzies to think of the times I would sit in front of the tiny, 25" TV that we had at the time, and wait through the opening theme song, excitedly anticipating what "day" it was going to be (each day had a different theme like Imagination Day, Dress Up Day, or Animal Day).  Ahh, those were the days - comfy, wide-bottomed pants; riding my tricycle on the balcony of our 8th floor apartment; and amazing kid programs on TV Ontario. 

This is what happens when you grow up in the make do :)  Me, riding my tricycle on our apartment balcony, complete with fake grass carpeting.

I'm thinking that my love of TV Ontario programming stemmed from the fact that we did not have cable and it was one of the few channels that still came in clear as a bell (well, maybe more like a bell seen through foggy sunglasses...but still...).

So let's take a little walk down memory lane, shall we?  Back to the days of:

If you were a kid growing up in the late '70's / early '80's in Southern Ontario, you will probably recognize most of the above shows.  The amazing thing is, I used to watch them for their entertainment value.  I didn't realize until now, just how many of them were completely educational!  "Parlez-Moi" had goofy skits with a funny hobo/clown but it was meant to teach you how to speak french.  "Write On" and "Read All About It" were a sitcom and adventure series, respectively, that taught writing and grammar.  One of my favourites, "Math Patrol" had a detective who dressed up as a kangaroo (his disguise, shhhhh!) who had to solve math problems to save the day from evil.  It was fantastic and memorable television.
While I'm sure today's TVO Kids channel has a great amount of terrific programming, the above shows will always hold a special place in my heart and hopefully some of yours as well.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Reconciled Differences

This is my dishwasher by the way... in case you think I'm hugging the countertop...that would just be weird

Holy Batcicles Batman!  12 degrees Celsius feels really really cold the day after having a humid ex of 29 degrees Celsius (I clarify Celsius for all you Yankees out there so you don't think I'm literally an icicle).  What the heck is Mother Nature trying to do to me?  Kill me?  Or just keep me huddled under a blanket?

On a more positive note, I'm sure you'll all be thrilled to hear that my dishwasher and I have made up.  It was a long, hard road, but we're finally back on the same page as to what our roles should be in this relationship.  I dirty the dishes, and Mr. Dishwasher cleans them.  That is that.  There was a bit of a hiccup, when, after waiting what seemed like a bajillion years for the new parts to come in, they were found to be DEFECTIVE!!!  Yes, you heard me right.  I hand-washed dishes for over a month, listened to my sons whine and complain like rusty wheels when I made them wash the dishes, only to have the frustrated service guy have to tell me that the new parts don't work.

Seems about what I would expect by now.  But, all is good.  They sent new parts...that work...and they are now installed and I am happy again.  Hallelujah!

 We will, however, have to wait and see if they last more than a few months.  That would be a wonder of technology to celebrate!

Stay tuned.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Goodbye Newman

 *Sigh*  I hate saying Goodbye.  That's such a silly thing to say, isn't it?  I mean, does anyone ever love to say Goodbye?  I mean sure, there have been people we've been quite glad to see go, but the actual process is still awkward and uncomfortable - for me, anyway.

And this doesn't just apply to people.  I always find it difficult to let go when it comes to my creations.  Maybe that's because I tend to create things that I like, things that I would be delighted to keep hanging around my house, sitting on my shelves, so I can point at them and say:  "I remember you.  You're awesome.".  Okay, I'm also a bit of a hoarder, and I would LOVE to have a house filled with all kinds of funky, weird things.  Kind of like this:
My husband, on the other hand, imagines our house to be more like this:
How we ever came together and survived, I'll never know (shows you what true love can accomplish!)

The point is, I have a hard time getting rid of my stuff, so the other day, when I got a notification from Etsy that my doll, Newman, had sold, I experienced a twang of sadness.  Of course, I always get excited when something sells, mostly because I'm so happy that someone else likes something that I create enough to want to purchase it.  Plus it justifies my weirdness.  But I do feel a bit verklempt.

But as you know, every cloud has a silver lining (and a puffy, chewy, marshmallow core) and when I opened up the Etsy receipt, I realized who had loved Newman so much as to give him a cozy new home.  It was a very dear old friend of mine.  My best friend from growing up, in fact!  I had moved around quite a bit and we had lost touch over the years.  Truth is, I had not seen or spoken to her in about 12 years!  She had included a lovely note to me, telling me she was happy to see I was doing something that I enjoyed and made me happy.  I just about fell out of my chair, and it may be silly, but the tears started to flow.  I was overjoyed and overwhelmed that this person had found me and reestablished contact.  Since then, we've gotten back in touch, caught up a bit with what's been going on in our lives (Holy Crap does a lot ever happen over the span of a decade!), and plan to meet up the next time I'm in town, which should be very soon.  I'm so excited!

So not all goodbyes are bad.  As I carefully packaged Newman up, I explained to him that he was going to the lovely  home of someone I treasure and I was sure she would take the best care of him (and maybe even let him eat Nutter Butters late at night).

Hopefully this post will encourage you to reach out to someone you may have lost touch with.  You never know what's been going on in their lives and how wonderful it will make them feel to know that you cared enough to seek them out.  Have a great Friday!

...and goodbye Newman :)

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Do Something Awesome Today

I came across this great Art Print made by Poh Koon while browsing Etsy this morning and it just seemed to strike a chord with me today.  I'm trying to improve on some things in my life and I think that sometimes we can get overwhelmed with the messages to "Seize the Day" or to "Make Today Ridiculously Amazing" and such like that.  Often we start out with the best of intentions but as the day goes on, things will...well...go not so amazing.  Bad things happen.  We make mistakes.  Other people around us will make mistakes.  The oatmeal will boil over and create a burnt, crazy-glue-like crust all over the stove that is impossible to remove with anything short of atomic weaponry.  If we're focused on trying to make the day the best and greatest it's ever been, then we could most likely get discouraged and even give up on the day.  

Well I'm here to say, it's OK.  Today can still be a great day, if you just focus on doing something, anything, awesome today. 

Maybe your awesome is creating something that makes you smile, or helping that person with put their groceries in their car, or washing the kitchen floor, or baking cookies for your kids (I know mine think this is pretty awesome!), or maybe baking cookies for your neighbours kids.  Perhaps your awesome is avoiding doing something, like biting your nails or losing your temper when someone rubs you the wrong way (like when your toddler flushes a light-bulb down the toilet and you have to take the toilet off for the tenth time to get it out and avoid yet another $200 charge from the plumber - seriously, if anyone out there needs a toilet installed, I'm your man).

It doesn't have to be something big, it should just be something that you can look back on the day and say "Hey.  I did that.  And that was pretty awesome."

And the great thing is, you certainly don't have to limit yourself to just one awesome thing.  Maybe you can do more, but the point is, as long as you've done one awesome thing, you can reflect on your day with a smile (even if the rest of the day was filled with dirty diapers, screaming co-workers, or burnt oatmeal).

So that's it for today.  Feel free to share your awesome thing and inspire others!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Dandy Flowers

What is it they say?  "Out of the mouth of babes" or something like that?  Ever since I had my first child, I've often thought I should write down the things they say that make me smile or laugh because, in their sheer innocence, they've often come out with some real gems.  Yesterday was no exception. 

With the weather being so freaking Gorgeous over the past week, we've been doing quite a bit of work in the garden, getting it cleaned up, planting and such.  Out of the blue, my six-year-old blurts out "You know what we should get mom?"  Me:  "What?"  He:  "A Sunflower plant". 

Well, happy to oblige in giving him something that he wants that isn't a toy or video game and will help beautify our backyard, I stopped in to purchase one at the cute, little, florist shop near my house (they happened to have a display of them that I noticed as I walked by on my way to get groceries...probably more milk...we always need more darn milk...I'm thinking of buying a cow).  So there they were, the miniature kind, in these cute, little, bucket pots (which I, of course did not purchase for the extra 8 bucks!  Hey, he didn't want a pot, he wanted the plant, right?), and I thought, Perfect!  He's going to be so happy.  So, I get home, and tell him I got him a surprise, which of course results in him hopping up and down like a kangaroo on a fruit-loop high, squealing "What?  What?  What?  What?!!!!"  So I carefully extract this beautiful, bright and sunny plant from it's bag and hand it to him.  Instantly he stops bouncing and looks at it inquisitively.  "Wow, it's a really big one!" he says.  So, I kind of chuckle and tell him that it's actually only a small one, usually they're much bigger but I didn't think we had room for a big one (not to mention I can never get a big one to grow past a few feet high without it dying, breaking, or being eaten by a rabbit).  "Oh" he says "I was talking about the other kind of sunflower.  You know the little ones that I like to pick for you."

The kid meant dandelions.  He actually wanted me to buy a dandelion plant.  "Yeah, Dandyflowers.  I meant a Dandyflower plant so I can pick them for you." he says. 

"In that case, you're in luck."  I tell him. "We don't have to buy a dandyflower plant, they grow wild.  In fact, if you want to pick some, there's a bunch out on the neighbour's front lawn - you'll be doing them a favour (and me as well since I didn't want them to go to seed and take up residence in my lawn and garden).

So with that, he happily bounded outside to pick me a lovely bouquet of dandelions, which we put in a little espresso cup on the table.

He still likes the sunflower tho, and it will make a lovely addition to the garden.
I can see how he'd be confused, they're both such gorgeous shades of sunny yellow!  I love it.

Additionally, I came up with a use for my old fountain that is pretty much broken:
I'm filling it with the old shell collection that my mom had given me years ago that I didn't really know what to do with anymore, and found objects.  I need more tho as it's only partly filled.  But moving day is coming up here in Montreal, and if any of you don't know what that means, it means that over the next month or so, people will be cleaning out their stuff and throwing away things they don't want to pack.  This results in Huge piles of interesting things on the street, waiting to be picked up by the garbage trucks.  It's wonderful for finding old treasures.  I once saw a really great photo on Deviantart that showed an unused fountain filled with these old, worn, porcelain baby doll heads.  It was awesome!  But my husband says that's too creepy.  *sigh*  Maybe I can sneak a few in there and he won't notice...

Anyhoo, hope you enjoyed my cheerful little story, and that it brought a smile to your face, as it did mine.

Stay tuned...

Monday, 29 April 2013

In the Beginning...

...there was a tile.  And it was a good tile.  It brought a smile to the creator as she looked down and saw that it was good. 

Today begins the first day of my Tile-a-Day challenge.  A while back I decided I wanted to make something.  Something Big!  Problem is, when I work in Polymer Clay, it's usually... well... not big.  In fact very often it's smaller than small.  Buuut... put a bunch of small things together and what do you have?  That is correct my friends.  You have a Big Thing. 

I had seen many other artists take on a (insert fabulous, creative concept here) - a - Day challenge where they would create one item a day for a set period of time.  It seemed like a great way to motivate you to get off your duff and not just do something while in the studio but finish something while in the studio.  It would also likely push you to really focus on creativity - coming up with new and different ways of interpreting your particular "thing".  It wouldn't always have to be extravagant but each would be different.

So I decided I would create a tile a day using polymer clay in various ways.  I decided upon a size of 2" by 3".  Here is the result of Day 1
I've been motivated by the onset of spring (FINALLY!!!) and all the "newness" and freshness that comes along with it.  On my way to my studio, I took some spring photos for inspiration
A pink hyacinth
My Garden Piggie that the squirrels like to climb on
The simple beauty of a dandelion
As you can see, none of these things ended up in my final product but it got the juices flowing and just made me happy.

So begins my Tile-a-Day challenge.  I'd love to do it for a full year, but I'm going to start off with 6 months.  that will be over 180 tiles, which will make my wall-hanging thingee...hmmm lemme see....carry the two...add the six....BIG.  Let's just say that.  It's gonna be BIG.  Yay.

By the way, you can follow more of my photo posting on Instagram:  smitch1975
My husband also takes some fabulous, interesting pictures (often with humorous remarks) and I would encourage you to check out his site as well:   seandavidrocks

So that's it for today.  Happy Spring to everyone.  I hope it encourages you to take on some new challenges and get creating!

Stay tuned...

Monday, 15 April 2013

The Healer

I recently did a demo for the lovely members of the Montreal Polymer Clay Guild on basic armature and how it can be used for sculpting with polymer clay in various ways.  I have a love for sculpture and fairly recently delved into creating art dolls.

 I think many people have the wrong idea about art dolls and don't really give them a chance.  Often, images of barbies, cutesy characters, rag dolls, teddy bears, and other...well...dolls come to mind.  Most people don't think of them as a means of expressing feeling and emotion.  But this most certainly does not have to be the case, and IS not the case.  There are many wonderful artists out there using various materials to create some fantastic art dolls that truly move me emotionally (Neal Gwaltney comes to mind - Love, love LOVE his work). 

As an artist, I make two very distinct types of art dolls.  Some are whimsical characters that have an accompanying story.  I know when I've created one of these types of dolls because upon completion, and sometimes during creation, a name will come to mind and their story will begin to unravel in my brain about where they came from and what their personality is like.  Usually, when I start off making a doll, this is the type of doll I set out to make. 

Sometimes, as I begin creating, feelings will creep in and the clay in my hands will seem to have a life of it's own.  Instead of a cute, fantastical character, it will develop into something a bit more raw.  During these periods of creation, it's a form of therapy.  Emotions that I would have difficulty expressing in other ways are imbued into the clay, and communicated in a sculptural way.  To me, expressing these feelings in doll-form feels easier...safer.  Upon completion of one of these dolls, no name will come to mind so I give them a title instead.

One of my first of such dolls was "She's Contaminated".
 And, instead of a story, I felt she needed an explination:
"What were you thinking?

Such an odd statement used often with venom and sarcasm to cause one to second-guess their minds.

"She's Contaminated" represents that feeling that nothing you can do or say is right. Nothing comes out the way you planned. People keep looking at you out of the corners of their eyes, avoiding direct contatct at all costs.

It's that feeling of isolation when you just can't seem to connect to others...or others simply refuse to reach out and connect with you."
My latest of such dolls, "The Healer", pictured at the start of this post, is another case of my emotions taking over the creative process.  Over the past few years, our family, just like most families these days, has endured our loved ones having to face terrible things.  Diseases like cancer (some at a very young age), and the heartwrenching loss of an unborn child, to name a few.  Things that tear me up inside but that I don't want to talk about.  When I was done with the creation of The Healer, I just felt she helped me to deal with it.  She's carrying my feelings, displaying them in a window for people to see, but not touch.  While she may not be able to heal my loved ones, she can help me to heal.

So I guess the slant of today's post is to encourage others to see art dolls as another valid form of artistic expression and maybe even give it a try.  You may find a new and wonderful way to express yourself.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, 13 April 2013

My Dishwasher Hates Me

For Shame!
The above is my attempt to shame my dishwasher as it has taken on an active role in making my life a miserable, waking nightmare from H.E. double heck!

Me:  *standing over a steaming sink of dishes, madly scrubbing* "Grumble, grumble..."
Evil Dishwasher:  *snicker*  "Remember when you got me two-and-a-half years ago?"
Me:  "Shutup."
Evil Dishwasher:  *snort!*  "Yeah, remember how much money I cost?"
Me:  *Holds knife up*  "Shutup."
Evil Dishwasher:  "And how many times have I broken down since then?  Two, three...."
Me: *glares
Evil Dishwasher:  "Oh, that's right, Four.  Four times I've broken down!
Me:  *glares*
Evil Dishwasher:  "BWAAAHAAAHAAAAA!!!!  Sucker."

Unfortunately, this is not an exaggeration.  Okay, well, the dishwasher talking to me is a bit of a stretch, but the freaking thing has actually broken down four times in just over two years.  The good news is, the manufactuerer has paid for the repairs.  The bad news is, I seem to be the only one in my household of five, who is knowledgeable in the fine art of hand-washing dishes.  So yeah.  Weee bit 'o inconvenience for me. 

This past incident, however, takes the proverbial cake, and maybe a croissant too.  Usually, the part that they replace (and it has been the same freaking part, EVERY time) takes a few days to order and I have a working dishwasher again in about a week.  THIS time, they decide that maybe, juuuust maybe, replacing that same part is not working (and I thought genius was dead...) so they decide to replace that particular part AND another part.  Great.  Sounds good to me.  One of those parts, however, is on back order.  Estimated date of arrival?  Over one month!  That's right.  You heard me correctly boys and girls.  I am going to be hand-washing freaking dishes for over a month!  Oh, but wait!  The lovely customer service rep tells me I have a couple of options.  One, I can wait for the part to come in and they will compensate me for my time to the tune of $200.  Well okay...  Or, I can take what's behind door number two, which I like to refer to as the "Donkey Option".  This is to replace my donkey dishwasher, with a brand new donkey dishwasher, and I only have to pay them the wonderful, pro-rated price of just over $600! 

Um...I'll be expecting my check in the mail.  Hopefully my hands won't be too cracked and dry and sore to open the envelope.  Maybe I can use the money on some lotion. 

Stay tuned.

Friday, 12 April 2013

I Used to Think Fridays Were Fun...

You want to know what unpleasant is?  It's sitting down at your computer, having your bulky sweatshirt (or is it me that's getting bulky?) catch your mug on the way down and dump a full cup of lukewarm tea into your lap. 

Now, I know what you're thinking.  "Thank goodness it was lukewarm and not scalding hot!  You should count your lucky stars Sandy!  You could have been burned!  You could have been maimed!"  I'll stop you right there.  No, it wouldn't have been worse because as I sat down, I was staring at the unbelievably horridable (yes, that's a word) sleet/snowstorm raging outside, on this fine, April morning, trying to desperately warm up my freezing cold bones, only to have the tea turn my jeans into an icy, soaking wet diaper that clung to my skin like that funky black ooze clung to Peter Parker in that Spiderman movie...I can't remember which one, but you know what I mean.  I would have welcomed a nice scalding by then.  At least maybe it would have warmed me up, if even for a moment.

And to make things go from great to Grrrrreat!, as I get up and duck-walk my way up the stairs to get changed, muttering nasty and most-certainly unrepeatable words under my breath, my husband has the audacity to ask if I got tea on the new carpet under the desk.  Nope.  Pretty sure all the tea made it's way into the 2 foot square blotch on the front of my pants that makes me look like I wet myself...twice.

Anyway, that was just one of the wonderful surprises that lay in store for me this Friday.  As I mentioned, the weather is horrible.  It's snowing, a-gain.  Which means I have to go out to shovel the backyard every time my beloved three-pound Chihuahua needs to squat his princess butt down to pee.  Apparently he didn't get the dog-memo that states that he shouldn't care if his precious puppy patootie touches a bit of snow.

So the weather sucks, tea sucks, but at least I was able to begin this wonderful, shiny, new blog.  I know.  You're thinking "Finally!  Thank our lucky stars and donuts!  I've been waiting so long for you to put pen to paper (key to board???) and bless us with your wonderful words of wisdom, meaningful musings and, at times, witty repartee!"  Well.  You're welcome.  I don't guarantee to post something everyday, but I do hope you enjoy it.  Perhaps you'll laugh, maybe you'll cry...and hopefully at the same time because as the ever-lovely Truvy Jones said "Laughter through tears is my favourite emotion."  Though I guess favourite should be spelled "favorite" since it was an American quote.  But I'm not going to sweat the small stuff.  Especially since this is my blog and I'll throw in extra letters anywhere I darn well please, thankyouverymuch. 

I know I'm thinking "Great.  Yet another thing to glue me to the computer everyday."  I swear, the day my mom introduced me to Pinterest, she might as well have hooked me on special brownies, because I can stare at that app for hours, going from one picture to another, to another, to another, to get the picture.  I'm a pinning addict.  But, as the narrator from Tales from the Riverbank (Hammy Hamster) used to say, "...that's another story..."

So, anyhoo, I plan on using this space on the interwebs to discuss some of the things that interest me.  Hopefully they interest you too, but as this is my blog, if it doesn't interest you, then I suggest you google "boring blogs that contain boring stuff to bore me with" and have at it.  I will confess, this whole blog thing is a form of therapy for me, as I know if I don't get these things out of my brain then I'm likely to blurt them out to random strangers on the street.  And, quite frankly, that would be weird.

Stay tuned...