Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

As an artisan and creative person I believe that the only way to truly allow yourself to create is to immerse yourself in experiences. Learn to step outside your normal routine, do something new, something you wouldn't normally find yourself attempting. We also need time to share with other like minded people and get out of the, sometimes, isolating studio. So for the holiday weekend I decided to take a couple of "De-Mented" sculpting classes. (woo hoo!!!)

If you're not familiar with the assemblage artist Michael DeMeng you should take a peek at his art and world. He creates all manner of mixed media shrines, wall pieces, mobile toys and sculptures, small, large, medium, all through the art of assemblage (repeat after me, "ahhh-sahm-blajjjj). Or as Michael himself defines it, "we're gonna stick crap together!" He's fabulously talented and it was a pleasure to be able to spend two full days soaking up his details and tips.

Saturday myself and eight others made Pez shrines. We were all tasked to bring a myriad of found objects. Everything from old nails, watch crystals, rebar, wire, and everything in between was on the table. The largest type of common object were all of the outcast dolls and various plastic doll parts. Everyone had some. As you can see by the first couple of pictures I also had a stash of dolls...! I think I maimed at least a dozen Kelly dolls on Saturday. Many arms were cut loose plus the front of my creation is someones face (was). And yes, we all had Pez dispensers and mine was that cute pink little Easter bunny. Bye, bye bunny! After all the pieces are arranged, glued, wired or otherwise combined we moved into paint techniques. Washes of Golden art paints in rust shades, gorgeous blues and purples, even "serial killer red" which really looks like blood! Michael is a master of paint finishes that make new items transform into seemingly old, antiqued treasures. This was great fun. (I have to add that the Pez dispenser still works...! You tip back the head to get at the candy.)

Sunday there were 18 participants for a Monster Mobile or "De-Mented" toy class. Now things really get interesting! The size of your piece is completely up to you. Work huge, work decide. All the found objects from the day before showed up again (but the dolls were noticably larger) plus everyone had to bring something with wheels to use as your base object. Wow! My base pieces...? On a whim I grabbed a wheeled tray that used to contain baby blocks, two old wooden coaster thingeys in different sizes, and an old round box from a bottle of bourbon. (and of course I had more baby dolls...) As you can see my creation evolve in the pictures I stuck the coasters inside the wheeled tray with E6000 and screwed them down so they'd stay in place. Then I started to play with the liquor box and thought, "how fun would it be to hide the focal point inside the box...?!" So the box was mounted onto the coaster and out came the tin snips...! Yes, I cut the head off the doll. And the arms...and the legs...also the Kelly dolls I de-armed the day before...? Well, they lost their legs too. It's obvious in pics three and four that the outcrop of growth between the baby blocks is, well...feet! A few nails in it's head, a crown of staples for embellishment. Top it off with a finial, more fantastic paint treatments and washes... and Voila'! You have a monster toy sculpture that you can wheel through the house!

Here we all are! (Saturdays Pez class)

It's difficult to express just how much fun this is to create. It is soooo not something that I do daily in my studio and not even close to how my thought processes flow. But something happens to you in the presence of Michael DeMeng. His art is in the room, he starts to reveal his processes to you along with a primer on power tools, and all of a sudden you just feel...different! Each person interpreted what they heard or felt during the class in completely different ways and yet everyone created an art sculpture that was unique and truly "art".

What did I take away from my weekend with Michael? (besides toys that scare my children?) Well, that anything you believe in and create from your passions can be art! That the exchange of ideas, meeting new people, and jumping outside your norm can re-vitalize your outlook inside (and outside) your own studio. Add that to great assemblage and paint techniques, some laughs, and two whole days to play! It's a great way to spend a weekend!

A quick note: If you live in the San Diego area and you think about taking a class of some kind please check out Stamping Details on Midland Road in Poway. DiAnn, the owner, has a list of classes the length of my arm (and longer) on her website for you to peruse and there's always a famous name artist in there somewhere. This is, of course, where Michael taught over Labor Day weekend. Do yourself a favor and GO! Run, don't walk, and check it out!

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Sneak Peek Each Week...Planning The Last Few Days...

I still have a lot to do before this Friday . But it feels less weighty than it did a week ago. (or does it???)

Let’s see what I’ve been able to do:

Made about 35 new jewelry pieces
Took pictures of everything! (wow) /posted about a dozen to 1KM shop
Checked of biz cards NEED/new show list NEED/bags & wrapping NEED
All my social networking is in place, even have NEW Facebook group for Susan’s Charming Trinkets! (Please come join!)
DONE:Volunteer this week for the kids bookfair
DONE:Co-lead Wednesday’s Girl Scout meeting
DONE:Put together my sons Bday dinner for next Wednesday
DONE:Put together something to take to school for son’s Bday
DONE:Attend school open house Thursday
DONE:Teach afterschool class this Thursday and next/organize supplies/buy anything/happening again this week
CANCELLED:Go to son’s Judo competition Sunday
CANCELLED:Pick up breakfast for teacher’s on Sunday for Monday delivery
CANCELLED:Volunteer Monday morning for teacher breakfast
ONGOING:Help collect items for fifth grade raffle
NEXT WEEK:Sell raffle tickets one morning
TOMORROW:Attend daughter’s Bronze Award ceremony next Tuesday
ONGOING:Do errant planning for several other events
Try to make sure that my family doesn’t starve while I’m running around
Do some laundry so family isn’t forced to run naked thru streets
(except I think they like to be nude...?!)
Let the dust bunnies live until further notice (they have a nice life here)
Tag/card/price/log into database each item
Re-organize current stock/check for clean display cards/re-arrange into categories
Clean & dust old/make a couple new display pieces (may not actually happen)
Put up tent/make sure everything works the way you want it to
Send off e-mail notice to clients/mail any postcards necessary
This list changes with time, must be flexible!
(keep repeating the word flexible to self over and over!)

Just never seems to get any shorter!

I’m sure I could add to this but what’s the point! For every one item crossed off another takes it place. That’s just life right now!

Packing the car will have to wait until later in the week. I’m not ready to even attempt that today. I need to put together a tray of pieces to put together in front of the TV for later tonight and maybe make my “to do” list for tomorrow early so I know exactly what I’m up against!

So for next visit maybe a few show pictures, some car packing tips, and how to sleep while standing up making sure no one notices…!

We've officially lost our minds!

Until next time!

Friday, May 1, 2009

My Studio...

A quick update and a link to peek into my studio:
Jennifer of Glass Addictions wonderfully took the time to feature me for her Open Studio Friday!
Please take a look and don't forget to peruse her beads as well, they're gorgeous!
Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Sneak Peek Each Week...“How will I Ever Get Through It All?”

Welcome to my mess!

I figured for week #1 of my Sneak Peek I would start where I am currently, buried under a thousand things to do before I go to my next show…!

Here’s the list of business related things to do or accomplish before May 8th :
(you may want to sit down)

Make minimum of 48 new jewelry pieces (in progress)
Take pictures of everything/post a couple to shop
Tag/card/price/log into database each item
Re-organize current stock/check for clean display cards/re-arrange into categories
Clean & dust old/make a couple new display pieces
Check for supply of biz cards/promo material/bags & wrapping/tools/etc
Put up tent/make sure everything works the way you want it to
Send off e-mail notice to clients/mail any postcards necessary
Keep up with all your social networking!
This list changes with time, must be flexible!

In my personal life I have to:

Volunteer this week for the kids bookfair
Teach afterschool class this Thursday and next/organize supplies/buy anything needed
Co-lead Wednesday’s Girl Scout meeting
Go to son’s Judo competition Sunday
Pick up breakfast for teacher’s on Sunday for Monday delivery
Volunteer Monday morning for teacher breakfast
Help collect items for fifth grade raffle
Sell raffle tickets one morning
Attend daughter’s Bronze Award ceremony next Tuesday
Put together my sons Bday dinner for next Wednesday
Put together something to take to school for son’s Bday
Attend school open house Thursday
Do errant planning for several other events
Try to make sure that my family doesn’t starve while I’m running around
Do some laundry so family isn’t forced to run naked thru streets
Let the dust bunnies live until further notice

Where to start?

At the top, of course! Some tips to help make it to the end:

Let’s just say I multi-task a lot.

Each morning, or the evening before, I make a list of what I need to accomplish. Review it before starting then try to knock out everything I can. There is always something that comes up that will force you off your list. Try, try, to factor in some time in every list for the unknown…!

At the end of the day and before dinner hour (since I make jewelry) I put together a tray of things that I can do while I spend time with my family. Sometimes it’s cutting out promo cards, or making notes on the day’s project. Other times it’s a tray of beads that I can put together and watch TV at the same time (who can just sit in front of the TV, not me!) Most of my busy work is done just like that.

I’m a planner! With all my volunteer hours I try to get the details at least 2 weeks beforehand (doesn’t always happen). When I can plan those events then my business time can be planned around them. It’s becomes hard when you are called upon at the last minute. If you don’t prioritize you can easily see your creative time vaporize right before your eyes. Make your creative/business hours a priority!

Learn how to say no! Very important and very difficult to do. Especially when your children are involved. For me I have to ask myself some questions:
Will my kids benefit from my participation? If it’s an activity where other parents are involved and I may not even interact with my own child I may have to say no. Will I be an integral part for my child and their class as a whole? Yes, I can run off. Am I being asked because I always say yes and no one else will volunteer? Sometimes…but I’m getting better!

Do I leave things until the last minute? Absolutely! Are there things still on my list at the end of the day? Yes! But I start over the next day and try not to have the same thing left the second time around.

Being a one women business is a challenge but isn’t that part of why we love it so much?

Next time: a to do list update, packing the car for a show, and how not to rip your hair out when your husband tries to help you!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Sneak Peek Each Week...

After too much deliberation over all (3) my blogs I've decided to try something different. In order to try and keep a better schedule to chat with all of you I will be posting "A Sneak Peek Each Week" on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Maybe I'll be sneakiing into my studio for a tour or perhaps we should all learn something new and try a technique or new craft item. Maybe we could all just get together and solve the world's problems (somebody needs to work on it!). Whatever it turns out to be I hope you'll find it fun (that leaves out the world"s problems) and a reason to come back to visit me more often.
Okay, well it's only Sunday but here goes...
Here's the view from my chair...

...and this... My current focus is furiously making new things for the upcoming show season as well as keeping my shop at 1KM full.(

What do you do when you're under the gun for time? Do you work better under pressure? Or maybe you prefer the laid back atmosphere when things are calmer?

There are 2 weeks left in my schedule to try and have the following accomplished:
  • fill out my inventory, make 4 to 6 dozen new items (in progress)
  • take pics, price, add to database, & card or ticket
  • make several new display pieces
  • set up booth & make sure it all works the way I want it to
  • plan & design an e-mail notice for the show; send
  • design a snail mail postcard for show; send
  • re-print promotional material, cards, show list, stickers, bag stickers, etc.
  • keep up with all the regular stuff, family, kids, school stuff, twitter, volunteer...

Actually I work better under a deadline. Makes everything you're doing more real and tangible. Over the next week I will try and blog about the different aspects of each of the items on my list.

I'll get it all done. My desk may never get clear but...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Tale of My Ten Year Old

For about the past 5 years my daughter has been involved with Girl Scouts. These days she's a Junior (or little Green Meanie) about to bridge to Cadet. This past Monday she and 11 of her troop mates delivered their Bronze Award project after working on it since the middle of last year.

AdaLee has become exceptionally fond of any living creature that has fur, fins, or feathers. Big, small, it doesn't matter as long as it likes to be chatted with and petted.
Once the girls decided on their project her troop baked pet treats, tied lovey blankets, ran donation booths in the rain, designed and sewed pet toys, decorated bags to put all this in, and topped it all off by saving some of their famous cookies so the new owners could also be treated. About 180 collective hours were in these bags!

The shelters education director toured the girls around the shelter then brought some of the animals out for them to pet. These fuzzy, wuzzy puppies had only been at the shelter for a day. This guy was super shy!

We did make a friend that didn't want us to leave.
My daughter is going to spend half of her vacation from school next week at the shelter. She had mixed feelings about all the cats and dogs she saw, knowing that more needs to be done. So, we're digging out her play clothes so she can get dirty, fuzzy or furry and help take care of a few of them. She tells me, ever so dearly, that at the end of the week she is entitled to her pick...!
We'll see.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Too long...

Okay, so I keep forgetting that this blog is here! I haven't had this space for very long and I have 2 other blogs...oooh yes, I said 2. That makes 3 total. How does that work you may ask...? Well, I'm not sure since one of them falls through the cracks on a regular basis!

Let's try an update on all our goings on.

Last Saturday Wendell, Paul, and myself went on an art trip to San Diego. There was a mosaic exhibition and sale in town that I wanted to check out. AdaLee would've have joined us but she went off camping with her Junior troop to Julian, California. (it was about 35 degrees the first night and 12 ten year olds girls slept in tents, on the ground!)

Here are the boys with a beautiful backdrop of the Museum of Man.

Aren't they cute?

Paul (and I) thought that these sculptures were the coolest. I believe they are Niki St. Phalle sculptures and there were a bunch all over Balboa Park. I want one for the front yard!

Funny how Paul easily channels the sculpture.

One last picture. We also treated ourselves to a fabulous lunch at the Fish Market, downtown on the wharf. It was really great!
You can also see some of our pictures at my new Flickr account:
Drop us a note from time to time and let us know what you're up to!
Until next time,

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Here she is little Miss Thing!
I was working the other day, trying some new techniques and playing with a bunch of different materials when she appeared!
Huh!? Funny how things happen!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Okay, is this a riot or what? I thought my 7 year old would probably faint if he thought Mom spent the day with Darth and the rest of the intergalactic crowd!
For those of you who also saw Darth, you know that his was a picture from the CHA convention in Anaheim. I had the pleasure of attending with a couple of art pals of mine, April Avery, and her pal Ginger. It's seems like such a luxury to spend the day with people that you love and to laugh, chat, lament, and bounce around ideas. It just doesn't happen that often. We walked the show , treated ourselves to some make-n-takes, and generally soaked up the creative atmosphere. It was great!
Now we're in the midst of a regular week but I did take the time to read through a few of my favorite blogs. One of my favorites is Deryn Mentock's blog and her January 22nd post really hit home with me. Not being horribly biblical you sometimes miss the underlying importance of faith. Deryn talks about the story of Esther from the bible and how she meets the mean guy Haman that wants to exterminate all the Jews. She goes on to say that the world really hasn't changed much since that early time in that we still have the propensity to harshly judge, heckle, sneer, gossip, use, (insert your own describer word) and act like high school never ended in a myriad of different situations. It's extremely hard to have any faith in people these days. Or when you do have faith the other person makes some action towards you that makes you realize that your faith was blind. Please read through her thoughts, it in turn will give you something to think about.
That brings me back to my art friends. When we first met up on Sunday we all did a group exhale then started in on how each of us had something emotional happen the week prior. Funny how things are sometimes universal. One of us had mishaps with a group they'd known for an extended length of time but was now treating them poorly. Another had family issues going on that were affecting their emotional base, and another had thought someone they'd known for several years knew them enough to know how they work in different situations but came to be accused of some trivial happening. Each of us had some emotional tale to tell over someone that they thought they knew or knew them and all of us had found out differently.
Being creative can be an isolating vocation. When you begin a friend relationship how do you determine when to have faith to move forward or the distrust to step away...? Do you keep exploring until that person proves their true intention? It's impossible to know without faith...
More later...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Is this cute or what? My kids attend an arts magnate school so lots of their regular work is taught with a flair for the creative. During a "Say No To Drugs" program each of the class wrote down their reasons why they would never do drugs to make all the holes of Sponge Bob's sponge.

Hurray for Mrs. Eskridge's 5th grade class!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A View From the Day...

How the day went...

It rained and sprinkled through the day. A big deal here in SoCal. If you look at the right side you can see the rainbow we were driving towards. (it's kind of small)

In this pic it's right over the road and the car in the distance.

Hasn't living near electrical areas like this been linked to illnesses...? Seems kind of scary. It makes a humming noise as you drive by.

I forgot to say that this is the trip we take to pick up our kids from school.

My pics for the day...

Until next time!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Todays projects

This morning was a fact finding mission. Our school PTA has asked me to chair their yearly tile project and we met to come up with ideas for the space. The school is an arts magnate with the belief of H.E.A.R.T. H = harmony , E = empathy, A = achievement, R = reflection, T = transformation. With that in mind the project is a tile mural to be composed of the handprints (on flat tiles) of any and all students who wish to participate. Last years was a representation of the school mascot, a Monarch butterfly. This year it needs to include a heart. A few days of sketching and an idea should present itself.

The other project on my very messy desk is a soldered shadowbox. A few days ago I put together a prototype.
This went together fairly well and I soldered it. Took some time as condensation forms inside the box as you solder and you need to wait until it clears. I was also concerned that the beads inside might melt but that didn't happen (yeah!). It's not perfect but it turned out well enough to try it again. (will try to remember to post a finished pic)
Now I'm off to do some ever present cleaning. You know, the straightening and re-organizing so you can actually find your desk cleaning...!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where did the time go...?

September...? Where did the days go? I just looked at my first post here stating I'd post pictures the same week. Guess what? Didn't do it!

Well, what did I do? Let's see, I had my parents visit for three months. My company (of one) ran around the countryside and participated in about 10 artisan shows. We had Christmas and actually were able to get the tree up with time to spare. My kids had numerous school activities, get togethers, and play dates. We stayed awake to see the ball drop New year's Eve but only by a few minutes. What else...I'm not sure I know. But the time flew by and now it's January. Wow!

The best place for me to start is probably with a little bit about myself so we can all get to know each other here in the blogosphere. Hmmm...I have been creative ever since I can remember. Paint, pencils, crayons were all a part of my toddler years and I had my first sewing lesson by the time I was six. Being an only child I spent hours drawing or just chalking sentences on a chalk board. Through high school I learned the ins and outs of photography, weaving, printmaking, basic metals, and life drawing, just to name a few. At the beginning of college I fell into the restaurant business and somehow got lost. Seemed like all the adults I looked up to thought an art career of any kind was a frivolous endeavor. It only took about a year of that chatter to look for something else to do.

So, life never seems to run a straight line, does it? Only after 18 years in the restaurant business, a divorce, moving over 3000 miles (twice), and getting married again (but this time to my best friend) did I allow myself to look up. It's so easy to let a big piece of yourself go ignored and let life carry you along. My now husband looked at me and very calmly said, "honey, why don't you quit your job and do something you enjoy?" Once I recovered from shock I did just that.

Today I participate in about 20 artisan shows a year with my charm jewelry company Charming Trinkets. I also have a huge vintage accessory collection and am working on a new mixed media venture. Creative is a daily endeavor, for myself, my family, and with my two great kids.

My hope within this blog is to meet other like minded people and to perhaps blow off some creative steam from time to time. Staying true to your artistic self can be somewhat isolating and many people you meet just don't quite understand.

Until next time!

P.S. Last years blog and some of my creative work can be found at: