Saturday, December 30, 2006

How Many of Me?

Well, this was interesting. One of the gals on one of the doll lists sent in this link. I knew that my first name has always been a PITA (the first name Susan is the 25th most popular name...there are nearly 1.2 million of us in the US!) but I also knew that marrying Gerry took me into the rarer aspects (there are only 630 people in the US with our last name). Turned out to be a great combo, for more reasons than one!
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Now...if I still had my name from my first marriage, it would really be a PITA...9,646 of 'em in the US alone.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Auditioning Fabrics

This was a new phrase to me, auditioning fabrics. One of the gals on the CPS list talked about visiting an artist's studio, and referenced being amazed as she watched the artist audition fabrics. That made so much sense, I just loved the visual...let's put you in here. Will you make the cut? Is there someone else better for the part? Can you hold my attention?

I'm contemplating a new doll. I sure seem to start a lot of dolls. I don't seem to finish very many, though! I have a new one buzzing in my brain, and what do I do? Favorite color (aqua blue), a little gold, and make mine batik.

I have a closet full of beautiful fabrics. Not as many fabrics as I had before the big move, but still a LOT of fabrics. Everytime I see a new doll, though, I go back to that little section in the treehouse, filled with batiks, and those mermaid-ish colors truly are the song of the siren for me.

Also, I've gone back to my beginnning M.O. While most doll artists whose patterns I buy have you put the whole doll together and then do the face, that just doesn't work for me. The face determines the personality for me, and so I have to do a face first and build the doll around it. I tried to change, I really did, and some of the dollmakers I admire most do the face last -- but perhaps they are a little more adept at faces. For the time being, I'm going to make lots of practice faces, and when I get one I like, I'll build a doll around it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas decorating

We decorated for Christmas this year. Last year, we were still so burned out from our years in retail, that we just couldn't face decorating. At the last minute, it may even have been on Christmas eve, we put up one of our artificial trees and put some spotlights on the house. We still were a little less than enthusiastic last year, but I just couldn't go with nothing.

This year we were feeling a little iffy, too. We're getting pretty bah-humbug-ish in our old age. A couple of weeks ago, we went through the Christmas decor department of a local garden center which had a bunch of beautiful designer trees. My husband happens to feel that Christmas should be red, green, white, maybe some gold or silver, and contain Santa and elves. Christmas is for children, not for high-buck decorators. But I said something about one day hoping to have a color coordinated, decor-type tree.

Yesterday we pulled out an artificial tree that we had as one of our "extras" from our NC house. We've decided not to have a real tree this year since we'll be traveling and not here to keep an eye on it. We then decided to make a trip to get all new, color-coordinated ornaments. I left the house thinking gold and green. We came back with gold and copper, feathers, and copper glittered twigs. Then I took the four foot tree out of the box and realized how small it is! Gerry had to leave to get new ornament hooks, rather than dig through all the boxes and try to find the ones we owned...and came back with a 6 foot artificial, pre-lighted tree! He said he just kept seeing the disappointment on my face when I realized how many ornaments I'd bought, and how little the tree is!

Here's a picture of the tree tonight. We had to go out today and get more of the garland, and we added a few more coordinated ornaments. I'm really happy with it. It may not scream Christmas in traditional colors, but it makes me really happy. I have more pictures at my picturetrail site --

Tonight, Gerry lit the house with spots focused on a large green wreath in the center of the house. I set up a lighted Victorian village. Feels good to get back into the mood. I was walking around, admiring how pretty everything was when I realized that Cosmo had left the first gift under the tree...unfortunately I'm not fond of dead mice.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Chris & Robyn came to visit for Thanksgiving, which was wonderful for us. We spent 3 1/2 days together, and did some good touristy stuff, and ate a lot of our traditional Thanksgiving foods. On Friday, we visited the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. You can't take your camera beyond the lobby, but they do take your photo as you enter. So here we all are...Gerry, me, Robyn, and Chris. We were all having a photogenic day! Gerry didn't get the memo about wearing blue jeans, apparently.

Chris is my oldest child and only son. His wife, Robyn, is a wonderful person, and I love her as if she were one of my own. Their visit made it a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am thankful.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Final Touches

My son Chris and his wife, Robyn, have headed back to Boston after a lovely Thanksgiving here with us in Ohio. I had a great time visiting with them, and we did some fun things like visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and of course, we ATE a lot.

Now that they are gone, and the house is still clean, I feel pretty good about spending time in my treehouse. Today I swapped out the fibers for we six participants in the CPS swap. I also finished my parts for a teapot doll swap on the FDA list, AND I finished my Inner Gypsy from Sherry Goshen's class...which I've tied to my Medicine doll work. More details later, but here are the end results:


I also did some spouts:


More details later.....

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I've had a couple folks drop me a line and say they want to see more detail on the triptych that is on my fireplace, so here it is:

This is three separate panels on board done by Olga Lipats, a Russian born painter now living in OK. I first found Olga through a friend, selling mystical/whimsical paintings on ebay. I now own several originals, used to sell her prints in my store, and would love to own a few more! She still sells on ebay, though many of her latest works are larger, abstract types.

At any rate, I love this painting, and bought it before I moved here, with this fireplace in mind.

It's certainly not art...

...but it may be artistic. I get great satisfaction from home decor work, and I think it's how I expressed any creativity I felt I had in my early years. We've been working around the house making it our own, and getting ready for my son and his wife to visit at Thanksgiving. When I moved here last year, I didn't bring any upholstered furniture from the house in NC, and the only seating my DH had in his apartment was second generation used that he bought from a young couple who got it from their parents. The sofa had lost its cover over the cording, so stabbed you in the back of the legs when you sat on it, AND one of the dogs had tried to cover the scent of the previous owner's dog.

All that is a long way of justifying why we got new living/dining room furniture. I'm delighted with how it looks, even though we haven't painted the walls yet. I do have to say that I love the way my Olga Lipats triptych looks on the black marble tiled fireplace. I think I will be doing a different fabric piece to replace the red one to the left of the fireplace. Eventually, we hope to have a window installed there, as we have NO windows on the west side of the house, and that looks out over the bulk of our lawn, and the new pond.

I also wanted to point out that I have the one thing I was most concerned with when we joined our home dogs and store cat -- a peaceable kingdom!

Buddy, our cocker spaniel is my constant companion now that his eyesight is so compromised. He looks good on the new rug, doesn't he? Though out of the photo, the other two dogs are on the floor directly behind where I'm sitting.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I played with Paverpol!

What a fun product this is. And to think I've been so fearful... I must have asked a million questions in the class before I took the plunge, and now I just want to dip everything I have.

I did two things here. I dipped an old, stained doily, and then tucked it into the "sash" and draped the front edge over a balled up plastic bag to give it the feeling of puffing out and hopefully looking like a swirling skirt. I'm pleased with that, and anxious to see it after I do the spray paint thing.

The other thing I did was dip a piece of used sari silk that I just adore, and draped it along the top and down the right edge, allowing it to smooodge off the edge, looking, to my eye, like a theater curtain. I was assured by Grasshoppa, and he was right, that the Paverpol would actually darken or brighten the fabric. I'm very happy with how this is looking. More layers to follow!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006

Paper Dolls for Me

You've seen the lesser detailed photos of all those glorious paper dolls, but there was just no way to keep the swap somewhat orderly and get good detailed photos of all the work. Each participant interpreted so differently, and the detail and thought that went into the dolls was really very special.

What I can show you are the three I kept for myself. Each unique and each very special, as were all the dolls -- this was an absolutely delightful swap to host, as I could send each and every one with pride and delight. The ones I kept came from Saundra James, Jenny Rohrs, and Anne Chafee. Anne submitted six dolls (it was a 3 for 3 swap) and each were made in a similar style. They were made from advertising cards that she picked up while visiting France. It seems the parades of acting troupes, advertising their show, hand out these cards -- brightly colored and nicely finished -- and people just toss them away, so Anne gathered them up and used them for the bodies of the dolls. She also used paint chips for hands, feet, and heads, and a supply of vintage junk jewelry for the arms and legs. Very clever.

Saundra's doll was done as a grommet doll, with stamped papers and loads of artistic detail. Saundra had these so well packaged within the cellophane bags, I hated to take them out to photo, so I didn't know exactly what I was getting, but I loved the body shape. This is such a pretty doll. Here it is:

Jenny sent three similar Spring themed dolls. I haven't confirmed this with her yet, but I think the pouffy skirts are dyed coffee filters. There's stamping, embossing, vellum and all kinds of good "stuff."

Aren't they all fabulous??

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Inner Gypsy

Well, it looks like this thing is finally working again!

I'm taking Sherry Goshon's Inner Child class on Joggles, and I'm tying it to Barb Kobe's Medicine Doll Class. Instead of an inner child, I'm working on an inner gypsy. This is as much as I have done so far, and I'm a little stumped for a number of reasons -- not the least of which is that I'm just kind of restless and disjointed tonight. My feet are hot. My jeans are too tight. My office is moving, apparently, and I'm the only one getting an interior, window-less spot. Numb tongue again. Sigh.

Anyway, here's what I have done so far, and I have some questions for Sherry before I go further. I'll, um, keep you posted....

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Paper doll swap

I hosted a 3/3 paper doll swap on the CPS list. Counting my own cluster of 3, I had 20 packets of 3 to distribute...though two of them went to one person. Here are a couple of pix of them as they came in to me, all spread out on the guest bed. If you want to see each group of three by the various artists, you can go to and see each of them.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

For Yarngoddess

I told Diane (Yarngoddess) that I was going to post pix of my spider webs, and then promptly forgot. That was a few days ago, but as you can see, some things aren't lost forever, just temporarily misplaced in this little pea-brain.

So for Diane, or any other lovers of the magic of spider webs, here are two pix that Gerry and I managed last weekend. The rest are blurry, mostly from trying to focus on the spider and not having a tripod in use.

I'm so goofy! Or, my favorite things...

I just told my friend Kai that I was done making my paperdolls for the paperdoll swap, and I was going to stay out of scheduled stuff for a while so I could just satisfy myself and see where things lead me. Plus, I want to get some things done on the house before my son and DIL come to visit for Thanksgiving. Guess what I did? I joined Sherry Goshon's teapot doll swap, I joined Barb Kobe's medicine doll class, and I joined Sherry's Inner Child class. I still have my unfinished doll just for me, a cat I want to bead, some clothing and purse patterns I want to use, and many more dolls dancing in my head! Having a day job really interferes with creativity for me, not to mention limiting my soap creations!

One thing I did finish was the seventh collage from one magazine. This one is a little happier, isn't it? I tore the stuff this time, and picked colors, textures, and images of foods I like! There has been an interesting discussion between us on the CPS list, as Diane (Yarngoddess) and I seemed to be creating dueling collages. Our styles are completely different, as she leaves space and makes a statement with color and shape. I love covering the whole background, although I did do one with space. It's interesting, so interesting, the way people take the same challenge, the same general materials, and come up with something so different.

Without further rumination, here's the last one -- My Favorite Things (although it was almost "My Life is Brilliant" because that song kept going through my head while I was working).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Collage #6, Clean-up Crew

This poor premier issue of Hallmark Magazine is getting a work-out, isn't it? It's a magazine I'll probably pick up on occasion, but never subscribe to. I like magazines with in-depth articles, like Vanity Fair, or Mary Engelbreit Home (one of the few decorating magazines that gives numerous pix of the homes they feature). Of course, there are also the art/craft magazines like Art Doll Quarterly, and Cloth Paper Studio...I would never cut those up. But this Hallmark is like magazine light, or magazine simple.

So...for this collage, I seemed to be drawn to photos of rough wood, piles of trash (Katrina pix), and bare branches/fallen leaves. As I began to trim and arrange, I could hear my aunt's voice in my head from years ago, (growing up in that duck and cover era I mentioned before) when she said "I'm not going to hide in a bomb shelter, I'm going to stand in the front yard. Who wants to be part of the clean up crew?"

Do you ever get words, or phrases stuck in your head? I do, more and more lately. It used to be songs, or fragments of songs, and sometimes they would last for days. I had a wonderful acupuncturist who once told me I suffered from circular thinking. He actually helped me for a while. Now, I get fewer songs stuck in my head, and more phrases...things I hear repeatedly on the news, names, or a phrase someone spouts at work. Too bad I left that acupuncturist behind in Minneapolis.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Collage #5, same magazine

Boy, I have to tell you, the magazine I've been using is getting really ratty looking! I decided tonight to work in one color, if I could, and did pretty well until I decided the picture of the cat just had to be included. I tried...

I just have two more days to go. This magazine has lots of Halloween images, and I'm tempted to do one more, but it would almost be too easy. Tomorrow's another day, right? :-)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I'm on a (political) roll

I know this blog is supposed to be about what I create in my treehouse or in my soaproom, but I have a lot on my mind lately about the state of things. Sometimes I wonder how my Aquarian idealist generation got into this mess. Other times, I think I've just become more concerned because of my new granddaughter. Either way, I'm still tempted to put that paper bag over my head...

This morning, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. I'm sure they get lots, so it's not likely to be printed, so I thought I'd put it here instead. I'll feel better if I foist my complaints off on someone, so you readers are my victims :-)

I wrote:

My husband and I are relatively new residents of Ohio, having purchased a home in the Cleveland area just over a year ago. We’ve had numerous discussions between us, anticipating election season here, considering the attention Ohio has received in recent elections, and its power as a “swing state.”

If I could chose one word to describe campaign season it would have to be awful…no, make that horrific. Of course, a less reactionary summary would be uninformative. If I can add a second word, I’d make it “completely uninformative.”

Watching the televised campaign ads, listening to the radio ads, is totally worthless for decision making. I don’t have a single candidate I wish to research further. You see, I have yet to experience one ad that tells what the candidate stands for, what their background is, what they hope to accomplish should they achieve the post for which they campaign. All I have seen or heard is what they feel is wrong with the other guy.

The results? Considering all the negative campaigns, I know who I will vote AGAINST, but can’t name a single candidate I will vote FOR. (Should you wonder, I will actively vote against those with the worst negative campaigns regarding their opponent.) Shame on you, Ohio politicians. The nation watches, and this is how you conduct yourselves.
So there you go. One of my many opinions for the day. I'll let you know if it makes print.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Yes! Collage #4

I can't believe I'm still with it! This one is a little more upbeat than yesterday...Welcome Home. I like it. It talks about the joy of home indulgences.

I also am reworking the one altered fabric panel. It was just too disjointed, and I was very unhappy with the one applique. Now I need to find some black trim, probably tomorrow, because I've used up all the black trim I have, or else its the wrong size.

Day 3 Collage

This "collage a day from one magazine" took a little less time. I was sleepy...and it's funny, but even after just three days, it's getting harder to find stuff for a collage. I wonder what day 7 will look like, if I get that far.

These images remind me of singing "God Bless America" when I was in grade school...a long time ago. I got to thinking of all the things I miss about the way I used to see myself as an American, even if I did grow up in the duck-and-cover era. Then I got to thinking about how ashamed I am of late, knowing how this country has fallen in the view of other nations, and I want to put a paper bag over my head. I could go on and on about the state of things right now, and how upset and shamed I am by them, but what good would it do? Anyway...that's why it says "I miss America." Hopefully, today's collage will be a little more upbeat. Darn full moon.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Panel 2, Collage 2

Today I made my collage for day 2 of 7, all from the same magazine. This one is called "Autumn's Crowning Glory."

And this is the other altered fabric panel for the altered wearable fabric panel swap...or whatever the heck it's called. Gerry loves this one. I wanted it rough, and slightly cockeyed, which I achieved all too well...and now I'm not sure it's what I wanted after all. I love the colors, however, and did achieve what I was trying for. I have a blazer I love that is done with fabric shapes, cut out, and appliqued, without any finished edges. That's what I wanted here, too. I think my favorite part is the button in the middle! ;-)

Nourish Mama Cass

This is a re-do of a popular challenge on the CPS list -- Collage a Day. Take one magazine and create one collage a day for 7 days from that single mag. I didn't participate the last time, but got an early start this time. I doubt I'll make all 7, but since the challenge was announced, and I had a magazine I was willing to hack up, I got started!

And in other little bit of a brugmansia that I brought from NC a year ago, is the one plant I managed to winter over, plant outside in the spring, and have trive. It makes me so happy! This is the view from our loft window...

And this is a zoom photo of the blossoms that I managed from the same point in the loft...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Paper Dolls

I'm hosting a paper doll swap on the CPS list. Even though the swap is 3 for 3, I ended up making 4 dolls. I used the angel pattern from the back of Beryl Taylor's "Mixed Media Explorations" book. I've been itching to make some paper dolls with all the talk and books recently on paper dolls on the various lists. This was so much fun...and amazing to see what a difference one person can make with the same pattern! I was able to use lots of the handmade papers I have in stock (that I STILL haven't put into kits to sell), and bits of trims and other great things. Really a fun way to charge the creative batteries.

Three of the participants in the swap have mailed their pieces to me already. I'll post those pictures later. Counting myself, there are 24 participants, and the interpretations of mixed media paper doll are amazing. What an exciting swap!

This one uses handmade papers, a face from a magazine ad, and the main body is from a paper napkin.

This one uses some handmade paper, some fibrous paper, a face from a 50s-looking ad, and some gold trim. The base has part of the napkin I used on the body above.

This one is cardstock, ribbon, tiny hole-less beads, a UTEE molded face, and a peacock feather.

This one is almost all paper except for the little sparkly bits. Yarn for hair, which I poked through holes and "sewed" with a large-eyed needle. The face is stamped from a set of face stamps I bought at SkyBluePink.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What a day!

I've been up since 3:30 am, thanks to a call from my daughter in the Minneapolis area. Long story short -- she had an emergency appendectomy this morning. I never fell asleep again, after the phone call, so I started laundry. Played my Fish Tycoon game, worked in the treehouse, put band-aids on Gerry when he needed them. He spent the day trimming hedges and working on the new pond. I still have some soap to wrap and lotions to ship, but I did finish my two altered fabric panels AND I made a treat for my friend, Phyllis.

We've been beading dolls a lot lately, and I keep shipping her bodies from a bulk buy from Monica Magness. Then I found some basic outline patterns that I saved YEARS ago,and thought I could make some bodies of my own.

I made one of these for each of us....took the pattern I had and reduced it by 50%, sewed and stuffed. I think she'll love it -- cats and hearts, all rolled up in one!

The fragrances I tested in soap yesterday don't seem to be holding up the way I'd like, so that was a waste. Good thing I didn't buy without testing, even though I was tempted -- one of them I really loved. Some fragrances fade out and then come back, so I'm hoping that will be the case in these cases, too.

Evicted another chipmunk today, hiding from all three dogs and the cat, under the china cupboard. Thanks, Cosmo!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A volunteer pond

Last week the sewer work on our property was completed. A good portion of our west lawn was dug up to lay the pipe. Because the septic tank and leach field have now been abandoned, we arranged to have a pond dug in the low spot in our yard. The workers started two days ago, scraping the top of the area, and removing an ill tree. Then it rained all night, and yesterday they couldn't work, because of the muck and mire. It does appear, however, that we chose the right started to fill in already! Here's the view from our deck rail.

I think they'll be able to work today. We have a lot of work ahead of us, to make sure that once dug, the water isn't stagnant, and lots of other landscaping and maintenance issues. Now, it looks like just about all of our yard has been dug up somehow!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Altered fabric panel for wearable art

For some ungodly reason, I woke early this morning, so thought I'd put up the pix of what I've been working on. Trust me, it looks better in real life than it does in the photo.

I'm in a wearable art panel swap, (altering a piece of fabric to make it new and artistic and of a size to be transformed into one panel of a vest). I've done a little bit of everything with this piece of vintage cotton. I've added angelina fibers bonded with Bo Nash, fun fibers under the angelina fibers, now I've torn rectangles, stamped the black and sprinkled with "red dragon" embossing powder, stitched them together, added them to the panel...and yet more.

The faces are UTEE with some pearl-ex colorants brushed into the molds before pouring the UTEE. I wrecked a few molds, but I really like the faces I got. The faces are glued onto little rectangles of the same fabrics, and I've beaded around both of them.

One face still needs some ribbons dangling, and then I think I'll do some random beading on the large panel as well. I see that I have to do some more pressing, as not all of the Bo Nash has melted and bonded. It looks like my fabric panel has dandruff!

When I complete this one, I have another to do for the other person in our little swap group. This person likes different colors...blues, greens, maybe a little bit of brown. I have this one planned already, so I just have to get to it!

View from the kitchen window!

We were sitting at our "breakfast bar" a couple nights ago, and this is what I saw outside the window. It's a little blurry because I was in a hurry to get a picture before it left. There were two in the yard. Now I know for sure who's been topping the tomato plants!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The rest of the story...

Here are the other six beaded dolls submitted for the swap I hosted. I wish I had the good sense to take a photo of all eight together -- it would have been easier to show the size variation. Isn't it interesting the difference in vision and execution?