Monday, July 30, 2018

The Eyes Have it (and more fun stuff)

Finally after quite a hiatus, though really it's cause I've been too distracted (for many reasons), I listed some newly created items in my Etsy shop. Really I love making things, but more when I have a purpose or if I'm creating for someone in mind, then it kicks me in gear. To just list things to sell, that's not really a motivator to me for some reason. Guess cause it's not about the money, it's more about the validation of someone liking my work. That's what keeps this artist going.

Anyway, I created a couple soft sculpture art dolls recently and wow were those fun to paint! They are much harder to paint than say, painting on canvas or wood, since fabric is absorbent, sort of a rougher surface, and the paint just drags. But either way, I was happy with the final result. And as usual, I have this "vision" in my head of what I'm making but they never turn out that way really. My work sort of morphs on it's own. 

This first one is a hoot! Such an intense stare. She looks a bit scary and mean, but looks, as we all know can be deceiving. Someone may look mean, but as soon as you speak to them, a huge wide smile breaks out and their eyes sparkle with friendliness, and it's a whole other person. Agree? I know that's the case with me personally. I can look intense at times, but I'm a teddy bear (mostly, hee hee).

So this is "Gertie". A witch stitched of fabric, painted, then topped with a sculpted witch hat. Her cat is a separate piece as well and then attached after. This gal has so many layers of paint on that face she's going to have a heck of a time washing that make-up off!

Next is "Francie". She started as a witch doll, but then after adding the bolts on her neck, she sort of morphed into a "Frankenstein" type gal. Again, very sweet.

And finally, a new sculpture. Instead of paperclay which I love and I find I'm a bit better with, I chose papier mache. It's definitely more challenging because it's super messy, the shapes aren't as smooth and precise, but then I found when the consistency was right, it became easier to work with and fun too! My creation became a garden witch. I didn't start that way, but then here we go with the morphing! After adding bees and flowers, and not wanting to paint a mean typical witch face, my direction was clear, and she became a sweet, kind garden witch.
I listed them last night, and they were immediately snatched up by a buyer in Oregon who sent me a note saying she loved them all. And that my friends, is why I do my art. Feelin' the love!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Fall is My Favorite Place!

Well I for one am ready for Fall. I'm so sick and tired of the heat here in middle TN that I just want to scream! It seems like it's been hot since Spring without a break. I know we're not the only ones who are suffering from a heat wave, I think 80% of the country is but still, just be over and let's get on with pumpkin spice season.

Speaking of...I've been creating lots of new art lately. Many mini-paintings, several sculptures of papier mache, new rock designs, just all sorts of fun Fall as well as winter items. I'm hoping to get some posted this weekend, but here's a peek at some of the themes and items I'm working on. Some I'm making versions of since I love them so much, some I'm re-working since I wasn't 100% happy with, and some are just new and fun. Stay tuned!

I paint this witch a lot! Working on a similar one now.

Something really different! I sculpted a friend, maybe a witch, not sure yet

Reworking "Frank", he's in process

One of my favorite mini-paintings. Working on more now!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Salt Dough Clay? Um, No

A few posts back, I wrote about my experiences with paper clay vs papier mache. The differences, my preference and what I thought worked better. This time I want to talk about something else that I tried a couple months ago and thought I'd put out there since I've heard a lot of different "great" things about salt dough and wanted to give my impression of it.  

Paper clay, the actual brand of paper clay isn't really cheap. It's not the $3 stuff, more like $7 - 9 a package depending on where you buy it. 
Salt dough "clay" is really cheap. Basically made of flour, salt and some water. Oh and you can put a few drops of Dawn dishwashing soap in for supposed antibacterial properties that make the dough not get moldy. Not my recipe but what I've read.
Ok, well I love paper clay first off. I love the smoothness of it, how easy it is to work with and just the mold-ability of it. It doesn't crack after drying, you can sand it, it takes paint well also. Dough clay? Not so much. Really you can't "mold" it. Or at least I couldn't. Now, I've also heard about different recipes, using more salt, less salt, more flour, less flour, certain types of flour, hot water or cold water, more water, less water, you get the idea. I found a recipe on Pinterest that was supposed to be the "end all of all dough clay recipes". Not so much.

I made a small batch to try out for some heart ornaments. I rolled them out on parchment paper and cut out the dough with heart shaped cookie cutters. I baked for many hours at a really low temp. This is supposed to prevent rising and puffing of the dough as well as make it stronger, "like a rock" and not have cracking. Not so much.

If the dough was a bit thicker, like if I didn't roll out too long, these were better. The thinner ones for sure cracked. Like right down the middle crack. No going back on those. I had some success with about 3/4 of the batch. I thought they came out pretty cute actually and I sold quite a few which is good.
Painting. Well painting the dough was definitely not the same as painting clay or paper mache. Look, a flour product is just not meant to be painted whether it's cooked or not. I used a thinned acrylic paint and the brush was rather soft, but when I stroked the color on, I noticed a slight film also going back and forth with the brush. I ended up sort of flooding the color on. The paint was wetting the surface of the flour and I think compromising the integrity of the piece, meaning no longer "the rock" that it was supposed to be, and I think just re-wetting the surface turning it back into glue.
Next I wanted to make something fun! I LOVE vintage trailers. OMG they are a huge, novel passion for me. Oh how I'd love to buy an old canned ham and redo it completely! Anyway, I cut out a rather large canned ham with the leftover dough I had. It probably was about 1/4" thick, maybe a tad less, so it was sturdy. I made some random indentations for doors/windows, a tire and then put it in the oven for a realllllly long time. Slow heat is supposed to harden this baby! After many hours I took it out and let it cool on the Formica counter in the kitchen. 

After it cooled, I noticed it wasn't flat. It had like a dent running vertically. The back had a slight crack. Well hell! I didn't touch it for a couple weeks and I noticed the crack was more pronounced. Since it was just for me and I wasn't going to sell it, I ran a strip of Tacky glue down the crack and let it dry. Again I let it set for another week till I was ready to paint it.
See the crack and the glue?

Cutie patootie!
Using fun, vintage-type colors, I really had fun painting this little trailer! Ok, so it's cracked, dented and all that, it still came out cute I think. Next time, I think I'll use Paper Clay!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Southern Spring Storms!

Happy first day of Spring and it's tornado season already here in the south. Oh joy!
Yesterday was a big weather day here in Tennessee and other parts of the south. Lots of tornado action going on both up above Nashville near Kentucky, and the south near Alabama. I dread tornado weather. My Crohn's flares up with stress and guess what? I've got a flare up today! Started yesterday actually from anticipating and waiting what crazy weather was going to be in store for us.

Our house is about 1 hr. north of the Alabama/ Tennessee state line and we're about 1 hour south of Nashville or so. There was a huge line of storms coming up from Alabama and Mississippi yesterday that the news was saying they were watching because these were supposed to be "dangerous, violent tornado's." Great. Whose gut wouldn't be hurting after hearing that! So I readied my innermost closet with a blanket, pillows, water, flashlights, etc., put everything outside into the barn that might fly away in the projected 85 mph winds, gave my horses a bit of extra food prior to the time when all this was supposed to hit the fan, and prepared myself.

Howard got home around 5 and we went out to eat close-by. About 6, the rain came through and we saw on the tv at the restaurant, that Ardmore, Alabama, right on the Tennessee state line, had a tornado touch down. That's about 48 miles south of us. All eyes were watching where it was going to go next; straight up towards Nashville (us!), or veer off. Lucky for us, it veered off to the east and we dodged a bullet again.

Luckily, no one was injured...this time. Spring has just began so I hope this isn't what's to come for the next couple of months.

Today the weather has turned very cold. Snow was predicted to fall in the northern part of the state. It's about 39 degrees right now here at my house, a big change from yesterdays temps of 67. Tornado's have moved on thankfully.....for now...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Welcome to 2018!

As a kid, I used to lay in bed and calculate how old I'd be in the year 2000. It seemed so impossibly far off in the future, I couldn't even imagine! Now that year has long come and gone and I've clicked over to the ripe old age of 60. Oh.My.God. 60! I have to admit I'm sort of in panic mode here. Life is whizzing by!!!! STOP!!! I don't want it to ever end. Am I scared about getting older, aging, possible sickness, all those worries I guess everyone else has? Yes. For sure I am. So I've made a vow this year. Not some stupid resolution that you know you'll abandon in February, but a vow. I'm vowing to live THE BEST LIFE I CAN! Every day, every minute, every second!!! And to do that means I need to live how and where I want to live and that is not where I currently am. Biggest mistake I ever made was moving out of Seattle, but mistakes can be fixed and that's part of my "vow" for 2018!

Aside from my clicking to 60 (gulp), there hasn't been a lot of "landmark" events that have happened in 2017 really. Well our grandma (Granny Hilda) from California just passed away a couple weeks ago and that was huge for us. We loved this woman SO much! She would've been 100 this May 1st. She was truly my hero. A crazy, kooky, free spirit of a woman that I've always loved and admired. She loved everything Western, cowboy, Arabian horse, and country. She raised Arabian horses her whole life and gave me 2 of them. We had adventures together, traveled in her van on road trips, road the rails on a train trip from CA to WA, ate lots of Mexican food, and had just the best of times. On one of our road trips, we took her up to Lake Tahoe, CA to the Ponderosa Ranch where they filmed the old TV western "Bonanza". We tried to hook her up with an older dapper gentlemen who tended the saloon there. Unfortunately he was already married. LOL! Yes, she will be dearly missed...they broke the mold with her that's for sure..

This past year has also brought me a lot of great sales as well as customers in my Etsy shop, By Way of Salem. My sales have increased by like 46% from last year which is fantastic! Surprisingly, I didn't sell as many of my painted snowmen rocks as I normally do, but instead sold a lot of everything else. I think it's cause everyone's sort of getting on board with painting rocks. It's a "thing" now.

My jewelry sales in my other shop, "Salem's Charms" haven't been as great as I'd like, but I do keep selling so I guess that's promising. That's my other goal this year, to really work on that shop and to get better photos of my items as well as create new ones and learn new techniques, and market more. I know it can be successful so that's a plan.

I got another dog this past year which brings us back up to 6 after losing Freckles, my #1 dog and love of my life. This one is named "Dolly". She's a purebred Pit and the sweetest girl EVER! Another rescue I'm afraid. Hubby found her wandering into his GM dealership and she was still wandering around there when he was leaving for the day so he brought her home. She's just the sweetest girl and I'm so happy to have her!

The true goal for my job though is to buy a 2nd home, somewhere where I truly want to get away to! 
Somewhere where there's skiing and snow and four seasons. We're thinking of either Salt Lake City, Utah or thereabouts, or possibly Colorado. And maybe a modular home or A-frame cabin or something. Doesn't need to be huge, just something with a big kitchen and ample room for a craft studio as well as my many critters. Or I'd consider a nice trailer, as in the towable kind possibly to put on a piece of land. Not sure.  And of course must be near skiing! That's a big part of my "vow"; to continue my life doing what I love; skiing.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

It's the middle of December already? It was just Thanksgiving!!! Well here I am. Back after a crazy month of job searching (yes again), making things for my Etsy shop, selling, and filling orders, shipping, you get the idea. It's looked like Santa's workshop at my house for the last month or so. 
Speaking of Etsy, I've had over 310 sales now and I'm very excited and grateful for that. I remember my first sale many years ago and I feel just as excited as I did back then!  I'm hoping to expand this year adding in more tree toppers, stockings, maybe some tree skirts and more ornaments. I've got some great ideas brewing!
My Snowman Angel Tree Topper
AND...I'm changing up my By Way of Salem logo a bit as well. Something more cheery and Christmas-y while still keeping a little of the Halloween theme. Not sure how exactly I'm going to go about this, but it'll be fun creating a new look!

Have you been baking any holiday goodies? Christmas cookies? Cranberry cake? I think I might try to bake something yummy myself. I love to decorate pretty holiday sugar cookies!! So festive!

I love this season. I feel so fortunate to have so many wonderful things in my life; my art, my amazing customers that buy my crafts from my Etsy shop, my family, pets, friends, helping others in need, even watching Hallmark movies! (love them!). There's just so many things to be grateful for everyday and the Christmas season is always the time I reflect and give thanks for all my blessings.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Gobble Gobble!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Will you be partaking in "Black Friday?" I definitely won't be. I love shopping, the hectic hustle and bustle of the holiday rush and all, but Black Friday is just a bit too crazy even for this girl. I'll just shop local at some of the little mom and pop shops. Kind of cozy and a bit more intimate I think.
What are your plans for the holidays this year? For me, it'll be a quiet one. It's been that way pretty much since my Dad passed away. Holidays just aren't the same without him at the end of the table. There's really only my brother and myself left and he's in California and I'm in Tennessee (for now), so we just celebrate on our own. Sort of lonely but we make the best of it. Try and find bits of joy....

My Etsy shop is always busy this time of year so I've been filling orders while watching Hallmark movies. I just love them! Do you have a favorite? "Christmas Under Wraps" is one of mine.

I also love, "A Christmas Kiss", though I don't think it's a Hallmark movie. It's still one of those happy, feel good, festive ones though.
I've been working a little also, just cutting hair for now until I find a regular day job, or maybe I'll stay cutting hair. I really do like it. I mean what a fun job!
Really I've been home more than I've been working, but that's ok. I love to spend time with my dogs and cats especially cause 2 of my dogs are getting old and every day counts. I give extra love and attention to them. The dogs love having me around too to keep them company. We all watch Hallmark movies together!!

Happiest of holidays everyone!!!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

It's Creepy and it's Spooky!

Hey everyone! I hope you're all enjoying these wondrous Fall days! Cooler temps, glorious red and gold leaves, the Harvest moon, displays of mums and pumpkins...oh I could go on! These are my perfect days....

I wanted to share something really special with you that I stumbled upon while perusing some pages on Facebook. I've been researching different areas where I want to eventually move to and so far I've narrowed it to two states; Utah or Colorado. The reason? Skiing of course! Not to mention the beautiful four seasons as well. So while searching, I found an amazing photograph that is so perfect for this time of year and especially Halloween. I think this artist captured the perfect image for the season. Take a look at this!

OMG just looking at this photograph, I envision Michael Meyers (Halloween) hiding behind the tree, or a terrifying scarecrow or Pumpkinhead! I can FEEL this photo. The mood of it is just captivating. The amazing photographer is Johnny Gomez of J2B Photography in Colorado. All his work is glorious but this has to be my favorite!

Here's a few of my own favorite Fall and Halloween photos, some from when I lived in Washington State and others just part of my favorite picture collection. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

It's Fall!

It's finally Fall here in middle Tennessee. I feel like I've been waiting 11 months for it too! I just am not one for hot, humid weather so these cool, crisp days and nights make me one happy girl!

While I've been busy filling holiday orders from my Etsy shop, I daydream of New England in Fall. For some reason, when I think of Fall, I see Vermont and New Hampshire, places that are known for their spectacular Fall foliage. Did you know that New Hampshire has an amazing Pumpkin Festival every year as well? True! These charming little towns go all out for Fall and Halloween.

Take a peek!

Fall - Vermont
Pumpkins for sale in Vermont
Pumpkin Festival in Vermont

New Hampshire - Pumpkin Festival
Can't you just hear "Moonlight in Vermont" playing in the background? I can!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

PuMPkiN SPiCe - Fall is Almost Here?

Oh don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled it's almost Fall but where have these past months gone? I looked at the date of my last post and seriously I was shocked to see that I hadn't posted anything for months and months.  I am so behind and I apologize and thank you all for sticking with me. I hope you'd knew I'd eventually resurface, and here I am.

Ok Jeannine, then why haven't you posted? Where have I been?!

Well....sigh.. ok, here goes: I was hired at a job after I got laid off last October, for a place I thought would work out really well for me. It wasn't and didn't. I never got anxiety at a job before and this place gave me an anxiety attack it seemed about every other day.  Where I sat for one, was facing a wall. There was no one to talk to all day. You were basically within cubicle walls and left pretty much for dead all day, unless I had a question about what I was doing, then I'd ask one of the other two gals in my department. They never spoke to me otherwise, no one did. Never a hi, how are you, how was your weekend, got any plans, what are you up to, blah blah blah, casual kind of conversation or rather just being friendly kind of talk. Nope. I was by myself all day, most everyday. It was miserable and depressing and after 6 long months, I finally quit. When I got home, I was emotionally done. I'd just want to cry and go to bed. I had no joy. No happiness. No nothing to do anything. I was ok on the weekend sort of but then Sunday night, I'd sink down into misery again knowing I had to go back. So there it is. Me just miserable and feeling emotionally and certainly creatively paralyzed, unable to function while I was working there. I felt like I owed it to myself and my health to leave, end it. I hated giving up the very large paycheck but money isn't everything so I did it with no regrets. It's in the past now thankfully and I can feel myself rising out of the ashes and soon I'll be back to running at 100%. Thank God in heaven it's over!

On the flip side of that though is I'm not working. Yet anyway. I've had some interviews and if I want to drive 2 hours each way and work 50 hours a week, yes I will have another high paying, soul sucking, life draining job. No. NO NO NO! I've discovered that I don't have it in me any longer to do that kind of work. I have a life. I have animals, a farm, a great husband to hang out with, my horses and dogs need my attention, I've got my art, all the things I want to create, places to go. You get the picture. Life is NOT about work! I'll figure out what I'm going to do. Maybe.

What do I WANT to do? I want to move back to snow country and be a ski instructor again or work in the ski industry again. It's my happy place. It's fun, energetic, positive, healthy. It's just a wonderful lifestyle and it's who I am. Moving to TN, I put it on hold thinking, oh you're too old, you'll grow out of it. No, never did and I'm sure I never will. So I'm sort of in the process of figuring out how to make it happen again. That'll be another blog post. Yes, I promise I'll be back soon and update you with any progress on that front!

Back to Fall: This morning I went with a good friend to Cracker Barrel for breakfast and what was on the menu? Pumpkin spice pancakes! Yes, it's that time again for everything cinnamon-y, clove, and whatever else makes up our favorite holiday scent. I didn't have them but I was happy they were back. I'm sure Starbucks has their pumpkin spice lattes back on the menu as well. Yay for Fall!! Hurry and get here!! I love everything about it; the scents (pumpkin spice!), the weather, Halloween, pumpkins on the porch, corn stalks, all of it!
One of my new painted garden stones - in time for Fall
Pumpkin Man - a new sculpt
And this summer I grew a lot of flowers and made a new garden. I even planted sunflowers! They were gorgeous but didn't stick around as long as I'd hoped. I may try another type next spring. My zinnias were and are gorgeous. Those have to be my all time favorite flower now and I'm going to plant oodles of them next year.
They were so tall!

Not full grown but charming with the metal sap bucket
A bit of decor in the front garden
Herbs: Basil, lavender (2), rosemary (2) and citronella (bugs!)
Something else? We adopted another wonderful dog. That makes #6. No I'm NOT a hoarder as some have accused me of. I do not "collect" animals to just have them or to try and "save them all", but while I'm able, I'm going to do my part. I'm helping/rescuing an otherwise soon-to-be-run over dog that will surely get hit on the highway if he's not taken in, so that's what I did. Again.  I have 2 older dogs that I believe are about 15 and then 4 younger ones. My vet says they will "cycle" and I unfortunately know what she's referring to, which is very sad...but I get it's one of those awful parts of life we all have to face sometime or another.  

The new doggie is named Dolly. She's a full pitbull with the biggest head I've ever seen! She's white and brown and just the sweetest dog ever. I've not heard a growl or seen any type of aggressive posture whatsoever. Just all big tongue and lots of kisses. 
Look at that face!
I still have my Mountain Cur Sophie who I found with 2 broken legs as well as ribs, emaciated, and neglected and because she couldn't walk, she'd drag herself. It was pitiful. She's now thriving! She runs the fastest of all my dogs, loves to play, is a whopping 68 lbs, previously 24, and is a joy. 
Bug and Lucy, my 2 other rescues are doing great as well and growing to be big, wonderful dogs. And of course there's my 6 kitties too. Yes, it's a very full house but you know what? It's full of LOVE!!!