Jan 29, 2014

2014 reboot!

January 31st is Chinese New Year!

Happy New Year as we enter the Year of the Horse!
And if you were flaundering about after Januray 1st and need to reboot the year, this is a great opportunity to relaunch 2014.


How about making Spring Rolls for the occassion?  Here's a recipe and instructions (although I'm going to blend this information with my friend Tammi's recipe because her's are awesome!).

And instead of a horse I have a donkey for the year.  Yes, this photograph of a donkey ended up in my yard on a blustery, nasty cold day.  I imagine he escaped from a recycle bin and managed to hop the fence... anyway, of course I brought him inside to warm up and he's now my companion for the year.  Donkeys are supposed to be more sure-footed, calmer and intelligent than horses, so I welcome his joining me on what may be a bumpy ride.  Onward! 

Jan 20, 2014

3 on the way

This is the scene in my studio the last few days!  My 3 Day of the Dead bears are coming together!  In this first photo most of the machine sewing is done and I'm working on the foot pads, which I always do by hand to get just the right curvature.

And here, after the feet are finished, the noses are being worked on.  This is my first time working on multiple bears at once and I have to say it's easier than doing them singly.  Especially with the noses, I started on one and it was tough, then I began the second and it was easier and then the third was stitch-stitch-stitch and it was done!

And once the noses are on their way, I put in eyes to get a real feel for what was going right and what needed work (like those darn noses).  After trying colored eyes and different sizes, all 3 went for black 9mm, which will help make them have a more uniform look and together they will sit as a mini collection. 

This will be Spiro, Angelina and Samuel!

Jan 18, 2014

An environmental spill: small scale revelations

Dear Friends,
I wanted to share these two pieces with you. 

First, the article on the left is extremely important in that it highlights the reality of oil spills:  the damage is extreme and long lasting and there is no way to effectively clean it up.  This relatively small spill is an excellent case study and has allowed experts to examine the effects of oil in a stream in a very controlled fashion.  Please read, discuss and share!

Then below is a picture that appeared in our local paper after a protest.  I have not verified if the information on the placards, but given the Harper government and Canada's slow support of solar energy I imagine both are true. 

Jan 16, 2014

The good ol' days

So we spent the weekend purging, filling 2 recycle bins with papers and magazines and setting aside about 2 boxes worth of books that will be brought to the Humane Society's annual garage sale.  It felt really great to create some wiggle-room!  I highly recommend it, if you're also the sort of person who has magazines from 2003.  Oops.

  This purging also brought me to go through a 4 inch stack of letters exchanged between 1998 and 2003 between myself and a Teddy Bear artist with whom I was sharing
Rita's traditional bears
an incredibly rich friendship.  I combed through these letters, reducing the pile to 1 inch, keeping only those of depth and that spoke of the Teddy Bear artists' world.  Imagine:  in 1998, my friend did 18 Teddy Bear shows, only one requiring plane travel, all the rest in the eastern United States, mostly New England.  18 Teddy shows, not combined doll shows or craft shows, but dedicated Teddy shows.  And she sold, making a fair living creating and selling her art!!!
Sadly, the world has radically changed (many of these shows no longer exist) and, even for my highly productive and well-known friend, it became impossible to survive only on the 
and her more adventurous creations

bears.  In 2002, she had to take a part time job, my friend noting that more and more crafters were coming on the scene trying to "make a quick buck" and that she was selling fewer and fewer animals, needing to diversify more and more.  How sad.  I wish I had been in a position to enjoy the 1990s boon, but I was only getting started and certainly not in a position to fly down into the States to do all these shows.

  I recently heard that the last long-running Canadian Teddy show, Mark McKay's Teddy Bears on Vacation, is closing its doors for a year to rethink its goals, with the impression that more and more of the attending people, seniors now, are looking to sell their collections, not add to them.  Bear artist Michele Seraphim also talks about this in her blog.  In my area, there are a few annual doll shows or joint doll/Teddy shows but no Teddy shows at all.

We, as a group, we Teddy and doll artists, very much need to rejuvenate our art and take it to a new generation, but how do you get teens and tweens to look up from their iPads and cellphones?  I don't know.  One thing that Michele talks about is the growth of online shows which makes the participating artists' work accessible to many more collectors (although losing the touch-and-feel aspect and the face-to-face contact).  I've been active in that area, of course, with my Online Hallowe'en Artists' Studio Trick or Treat with this being our 6th year!  Yes, I am looking for new participants so email me if you're interested or want to know more!  Let's keep our dreams alive and kicking!   

Thank you, Rita, you still have the power to inspire!
"To have a good friend is one of the highest delights of life; to be a good friend is one of the noblest and most difficult undertakings." --Anonymous

Jan 9, 2014

Friggin cold!

I've never seen a halo around the sun before... it was SO cold that we saw this as the sun was rising on Monday, January 6th.   

Our yard in full of snow, perfectly white and crunchy!  

And here's proof:  -26C !  Oh Canada!  Man, it was bitter and really windy!

“Winter then in its early and clear stages, was a purifying engine that ran unhindered over city and country, alerting the stars to sparkle violently and shower their silver light into the arms of bare up-reaching trees. It was a mad and beautiful thing that scoured raw the souls of animals and man, driving them before it until they loved to run. And what it did to Northern forests can hardly be described, considering that it iced the branches of the sycamores on Chrystie Street and swept them back and forth until they rang like ranks of bells.” 
 ― Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale

Thank you, fellow Hallowe'ener Hector Turner for sharing this great quote!  I think it goes well with my winter photos, "scoured raw" for sure!

Jan 4, 2014

Make it so!

I was inspired by this...
to put this together at work: 


Let's make 2014 magical! 
And what's more magical than Mother Nature?  We've been thrilled to enjoy the company of this gorgeous backyard visitor, a Cooper's Hawk maybe?  He's enjoying the pigeons and sparrows in the neighbourhood, it's amazing how very little he leaves behind, just feathers and a little bit of blood on the snow.