Thursday, July 31, 2008

Press type for walls!!

On a recent excursion with a friend, I found giant press type -- the kind that we used to use in graphic design in the olden days before computers, when design was tactile and fun in a very different way than digital design. Anyway, I saw this phrase and knew that it would look just perfect over my stove. I am thinking that eventually I need a phrase for every room in my house. I just love typography and whimsy, and I think these "wall words" are both!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'd like to thank all the little people...

...but seriously folks, I found out a few days a go that I am a recipient of this blog award! I didn't have a chance to post until now because it requires nominating new winners and putting up links, and I am a very lazy blogger, in spite of being an award-winning one.

So first, I'd like to thank Robyn, an incredibly talented artist in South Africa who carves the most amazing totems and figures, who passed this award on to me. I absolutely LOVE her work and her artistic perspective. Thanks Robyn! - I would also be listing Robyn's blog among my 7 except that it would seem silly to keep sending the award back and forth. Also, I would be listing my good friend, artist Marilyn Rock, but she was a recipient just a wee bit ago, and I don't want her to feel obligated to post again --but her blog showcases the most amazing textural collage paintings and observations on art and life.

Now, I get to pass the award on to some of my favorite bloggers and their blogs. I have many favorites, most of whom have links on the right hand side of my blog, but I will choose just 7 because that's the minimum number and I am too lazy to create more than 7 links -- see rules below:

1. Put the award logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on yours.

So, without further ado, these are 7 of my favorite blogs,listed in no particular order, as I love them all...
1. Insanity is a terrible thing to waste - Debbie's blog is indeed one of my favorites, and not just because she's one of my very best friends. Her blog is filled with fabulous cartoons and funny stories about her adventures owning a farm and two precocious poodles.

2. Cindy Dean - Cindy's blog is a wonderful mix of her art and life - she makes incredible jewelry and is very real in telling her personal story.

3. Lavabo in aquam - DJ's blog is just plain funny - she's a witty writer and talented artist as well.

4. Genre cookshop - Nancy B. creates some of my favorite still life paintings that remind me of my grandmother and simpler times, and her blog showcases life, art, poetry, and incredible photography.

5. Grubby Wench - My good friend Ali doesn't blog much, but what she lacks in quantity, she makes up for in quality. She's one of the most scathingly witty women I know, and she's also an incredibly talented soap-maker.

6. Musings on collage - Laura is a mixed-media artist whose talents know no boundaries. She is good at everything, and her blog offers great art prompts on Mondays to fuel the creative spirit.

7. Thrifty collage artist - Suzan is my most recently discovered blog. Her art is rich and graphic and saturated with color, and she offers free tutorials on he blog.

Thank you for visiting my award-winning blog!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Two art dates in one month - woo woo!!

My friend Debbie and I love to get together for art dates, which usually include talking, web surfing, eating, and oh, yeah, also art-making. Our goal for years has been a day a month, but often life gets in the way of our plans and we don't get together as often as we'd like, so the fact that we were able to get together twice in one month is pretty amazing!!

This is the third piece I made (mixed media acrylics and collage) on mdf, to donate to the Hubbard Hall art & cultural center auction. I enjoyed making this piece more than the end result. I experimented with texture, using dress pattern tissue, embossing paste, gel medium, assorted fibers, and acrylic paints. I think it's a bit lacking in contrast, but it was very satisfying to build up the background textures.

I haven't had a lot of art-making time this summer, as I tackle the realities of single home-ownership, so my attempts at art are a bit fragmented and all over the place. I know that I will eventually strike the right balance and find my groove again. I'm not forcing it.

In addition to our art-making, Debbie brought another trunk full of rocks from her farm for me to use alongside my shed. (I cannot thank you both enough, Debbie & Len!!!) I planted some hasta around my shed in the spring, and the rocks fill in between to keep down the weeds so that I don't have to trim and mow there. They also just lend some great texture and detail to my yard. I love rocks!!! This may look like no big deal, but these babies are sooo heavy that we can only transport a dozen or so at a time by ourselves. And they'd cost a fortune if I had to buy them, so I am incredibly lucky that my friends are so willing to share them with me!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The wedding platter - part 2

Several readers have expressed interest in actually SEEING the wedding platter, and one expressed some concern that the gift-giver might see my story. Fortunately, the giver of this gift (on my soon to be ex-husband's side of the aisle), is not much of a computer user. In spite of how dreadful this gift was, I would never have posted the story if I thought she might see it and recognize herself. In fact, she is a woman possessed of such (misplaced) confidence in her sense of style that even knowing she had given us a Lefton wedding platter, I am sure she would not suspect it was her gift I was writing about. (hear strains of Carly Simon's "You're so Vain).

In truth, I wanted to post a photo, but I left the wedding platter at my sister's -- and that's PART 2. Last Halloween when my sister left her house to take my niece trick-or-treating, she decided to use the honor system for giving out candy, and she left her candy on the front steps in a very nice stainless steel bowl. When she returned, the candy -- and the bowl -- were gone. So this year, my other sister, upon hearing the story of the wedding platter, suggested it would make an excellent Halloween dish!! We can't wait to see if someone will take it once we demonstrate with tiny boxes of Raisinettes how useful it is.

In the meantime, I did several google searches to see if I could find the same platter pictured online, but it seems to be a one of a kind! This platter is much prettier, for example.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"I'm looking for broken watches..."

"...and broken clocks."
That was the first inquiry from and older gentleman who was our first visitor on Saturday morning at 8:15 am -- 45 minutes before the sale officially began. At nine on the dot, a second older gentleman -- Rudy -- asked the same question. I told him that he was the second man to ask about broken watches, and he shook his fist and exclaimed, "Bob! He always beats me to these sales!" My brother-in-law commented that he never considered selling broken things. I thought this was very telling of the times. Back when Rudy and Bob were young, people knew how to fix things, so a broken item still had value.

In spite of the fact that we advertised no earlybirds, we discovered this phrase really means "get here early or all the good stuff will be gone" to yard sale officianados. In fact, Bob, my first broken watch inquirer, was actually our second earlybird. The first was a woman who arrived 18 hours early, knocking on my sister's door on Friday afternoon, desperate to find a pocket book, jewelry, a bookcase, and little buddhas. She explained to me that she was going to be working all day Saturday, so she was hoping she could shop a day early. After I explained that we had not yet begun to sort and price things, and that I had no idea what my sister was selling, she tried to persuade me to let her stop back at 7 am the following morning on her way in to work. Since I foresaw (accurately) a late evening of wine, takeout chinese, and yard sale prep, I told her that 7 am was going to be much too early. Still, she continued to stand on my sister's porch, as though I was hiding the crown jewels inside. I could not get her to leave, so I asked if I could take her name (Lucia) and number, and promised to call her if I found any of the items she mentioned.

At around 8:30 on Friday evening, we finally sat down with aching backs, wine glasses and takeout when the doorbell rang. Lucia, the pocket book and buddha hunting earlybird, had now elevated her status to kinda scary yard sale stalker. She just happened to be picking her daughter up from karate lessons, and wondered if we'd had a chance to check on her items of interest. When I told her we had nothing she was looking for, she lingered on the steps for a rather awkward moment. I don't know what reasoning she was using to think that I would hide things that we clearly wanted to get rid of, but she seemed unconvinced as she (finally) got into her car and drove away.

After the initial rush of earlybirds, we had a steady stream of bargain hunters, including the woman in designer clothes who re-negotiated every sale, "Will you take $2 instead of $3?" ---And a local landscaper (Jeffrey) who, after piling up all his purchases, made himself comfortable in an old wing chair that was for sale, and filled me in on his entire life from college at SUNY Morrisville in the 70s, to his latest landscaping job, his need to lose 30 pounds, and his dad's recent death. He bought $40 worth of "stuff" but I think he just wanted someone to talk to. ---And the couple whose 40-plus daughter was having her first child, so they were buying all of the "baby's first" items that my sister never had the time to use for my niece.

Finally, it all ended with Celine, my sister's neighbor and great samaritan, who brought the remains to Goodwill, and meeting a needy family in the parking lot, gave them everything.

Oh, except for the wedding platter. I received a hideous piece of Lefton china as a wedding gift, which has remained in my attic in it's original box since 1989, and which I've attempted to sell (for $3) in the past three yard sales. After Celine left with a carload for Goodwill, we put 5 items at the end of my sister's driveway, marked "free." Four of the five items were furniture and toys that would not fit into Celine's car, and the fifth was the wedding platter, which was mysteriously left behind. One by one as the day wore on, we noticed that the remaining items were claimed. While my sister and I prepared dishes for a neighborhood barbecue that evening, my mom came inside and announced excitedly "Kerri, someone took the wedding platter!" It's gone, with the wooden chair. My sister and I exchanged a look, and I said, half kidding "They probably tossed the platter onto the lawn and just took the chair." One hour later, my brother-in-law confirmed that the wedding platter was sitting beside their mailbox, in a spot my mom apparently couldn't see. Some things you can't even give away!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ta da list for June (late) and other stuff...

Wow. The month of June came and went without my monthly list of creative pursuits. I did have a lot of other things on my mind, but I was still able to do a few things:

I read a book -- More than you know by Beth Gutcheon
I made a few rings & necklaces on the Vineyard, after shopping at Beadniks
and I taught 2 classes.

For me, summer is a time to switch creative gears a bit, so this list would have been shorter than usual even without the personal junk going on. I love to spend some of my creative energies in my garden, and also fill the well by reading, visiting antique stores, and roaming the countryside, both on foot and via car, taking photos and exploring. People often think of the city when they think of New York, but the landscape upstate is ripe with rolling hills, beautiful valleys, farms, and quaint towns that beg to be appreciated at this time of year. I am also spending a lot more time with family and friends this summer.

This weekend, I head outside Boston to visit my sister and niece, along with my mom and Max. We're helping my sister with a yard sale. In addition to the regular treasures you'd expect to find, we're making up "mystery bags" to give away with every purchase!! Oh, the suspense!!! My niece has also decided to sell my mom's husband, "Poppy Dick" for "fivey-eight dollars," which I think is a bargain for a guy who can cook.

I leave you this week with a picture of my sunflowers - planted by the birds who dropped them from their feeder in the early spring. They are better gardeners than I am! My own attempts never grew like these!!

I also want to say thank you to all of my blog readers for stopping by and for those who leave comments that make me feel so fortunate. I wish I could thank you all in person with a hug and a handmade gift of thanks, but in the meantime, I want you all to know how much I appreciate you. Okay, enough mushiness, have a great weekend everyone, and if you're in the Hopkington, Mass. area, there's a mystery bag with your name on it!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


This is the second painting I did while staying at Debbie's...Actually, this was the first painting, but I liked it less so I am posting it second. I think she has a sort of possessed look in her eyes that bothers me. I tried touching up the paint in her eyes several times and just decided to call it a day. Debbie thinks she looks more mischievous and determined than possessed. I didn't title this one when I was at Debbie's because all of my titles were somewhat critical and negative, but "alight" came to me as I was writing this.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


This is one of the pieces I created while visiting my friend Debbie. It is a mixed media piece I created with acrylics, oil pastels, and collage on mdf. It is one of two that I created to donate to the Hubbard Hall art sale. I tried to mimic the acrylic face painting technique that Cindy Dean showed on her blog, taught by DJ Pettit. Since I only guessed the technique based on a few photos, I am sure it could be better, but I was not altogether unhappy with this piece. Debbie and her husband Len liked the other piece I did better, but I didn't like the expression on her face at all - I will be posting that one tomorrow so you can tell me what you think.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Max -n- Maggie on the farm...

I spent a wonderful day and a half with my dear friend Debbie and her husband and dogs, on their farm last week. They treated me to great company, delicious food, wonderful entertainment, peaceful relaxation, time to make art, and time to enjoy the miracles of nature on their beautiful farm. (Not to mention a trunk full of rocks - thank you Len & Debbie!) As you can see, Max and Maggie had a great time too!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

She has a gift...

"I spit celery at you..."

That was one of the more memorable quotes from our girly weekend. My niece was enjoying a piece of celery during lunch, and spit the stringy part over her shoulder, where a couple happened to be sitting. She then turned around and realizing what she had done, confessed to them. I don't think they would have been quite so charmed if I had made the same confession, but you can say just about anything when you're cute and four years old.

It was a short and utterly sweet girls week on Martha's Vineyard. The weather was divine, the shopping was endless, the wine flowed generously, the food was delicious, and it was just a great time with a group of my favorite women. After two long visits to our favorite bead store -- Beadniks -- where we spent great sums of money on teeny tiny bags of beads & findings -- we made some wonderful jewelry pieces, and returned with just enough money to get our car out of hock in the ferry parking lot -- $48 for 3 days -- yikes. Add to that our fare for the ferry, and we are thinking of taking our car on the boat next year, just for the convenience. The weather reports before we left looked ominous, and while it poured buckets on the ride over and back, the trip in between was absolutely perfect. Sunny days, low humidity and cooler nights. Our girls weekend has been going on for more than 10 years with various dates and locations, and we've been blessed with unbelievably fair skies every time.

I realize that I promised funny stories, but while we laughed almost constantly, most of my stories are the "ya hadda be there" kind. Like when Liz wanted to face forward on the ferry to avoid getting sick, and the ferry kept changing direction out of the dock so she switched seats 4 times backward/forward/backward/forward. It was hilarious to watch, but see -- Not so funny here. Or when my sister's car kept stalling anytime she idled at a red light -- because she'll spend $150 on .25 oz. of designer facial moisturizer, but she won't get the part replaced that will keep her car from stalling.

But I did just think of one funny story that involves a previous year and this year...
While shopping on the Vineyard, my mom once again bought a rather expensive piece of clothing without trying it on, because she has "a gift" for being able to tell her size. This wouldn't be a big deal if she was shopping at a local retail store, but she does this on vacation in unique boutiques and then goes home before trying on the clothes. I'll begin with last year, when we stayed at my sister's house outside of Boston, and travelled to Newport, Rhode Island for the day and evening...

Mom: I love this dress. Ooh, it's expensive. Oh well, I'm on vacation. I'm buying it.
Mary: You'd better try it on first.
Mom: I don't have to. I have a gift.
Mary: A gift?
Mom: Yes. I've always been able to just look at clothing on the rack and tell if it fits me.
Mary: But we're in Newport. And we're leaving today. Don't you want to be sure?
Mom: I am sure! Look (holding it up) it fits. I can tell.
Mary: Okay, if you say so. But I'd try it on if I were you.
Mom. Nope. I'm fine.

Returning to my sister's house, hours from Newport and the swanky little boutique, we engage in one of our favorite activities -- wine-tasting. Lots and lots of tasting of entire bottles of wine. Well into bottle number three, we remember mom's dress, and ask her to try it on for us. (You can see where this is going). It's a white, flowy, lacy sundress, made of absolutely unforgivable cotton. We all agree it's very pretty and summery. She retreats to the spare bedroom, and we wait. And wait. And wait.

And wait? Was that a call for help? My sister Cheryl retreats to the bedroom, and fits of giggles ensue.

Mom: I'm stuck.
Cheryl: I see that. Let me help you (choke, laugh, gasp). Yup. There's no denying it. You have a gift, mom.

Indeed. For sure, my mom's greatest gift is the ability to laugh at herself, and to allow all of us to join in the fun. Apparently my mom's "gift" was also on vacation that week, and she came out of the room looking like 50 pounds of potatoes in a 10 pound bag. All that white, flowy cotton was deceivingly small.

Fast forward to this year on the Vineyard. We are in a sweet little boutique, and mom sees some black fabric on a display table. It gathers at the top and bottom, and has a strap at the top.

Mom: Oh, it's a purse. But wait, it has a hole in the bottom.
Kerri: That's because it's not a purse, it's a halter top.
Mom: Ooh. (holding it up). I like this.
Kerri: It's cute. It's drapy around the middle. I think it's very "you." Go try it on.
Mom: (scrunching up her nose). Naah. I don't want to. Besides, I have a gift.
Kerri: Seriously mom. A minute ago you didn't even know it was a shirt.
Mom: Yeah, but I can tell it will fit. Really.
Kerri: I can't believe you are doing this again.
Mom: I'm just getting it.
Kerri: Of course you are. Whatever!

Once again, this was our last day on the Vineyard, and we had already relinquished our house, so after shopping, we were returning to the ferry and to my sister's house for our last night. And once again, we began with wine-tasting, and then, with mom's fashion show. To our amazement, her gift had returned! The halter fit perfectly, and really really looked great.

So own your gifts. Believe in yourself. Occasionally you may fail. But that's okay. Particularly if you can laugh about it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I'm in this book! How cool is that?

The author actually informed me that some of my journal pages were chosen a long time ago, when she was in the writing and organizing stages, and I've been waiting (and waiting) excitedly for it to finally arrive. I am a very big believer in the magic of art journaling to free the artistic soul, so I am thrilled that a few of my pages made it into this visual treat. There's a brief intro and some great prompts for journaling at the beginning of the book, and then just hundreds of pages of eye candy, along with contact information for the artists in the back.

Tomorrow I am off to an overnight with my dog to my friend Debbie's out in the gorgeous NY State countryside, where we'll make art, eat great food, hike the trails on her farm, and gab for hours. I probably won't blog again until Monday, but I hope to have some art pieces to share when I get back. We're making pieces to donate to a local auction, the proceeds of which go to an art & cultural center in her town. All in all, a perfect way to begin a summer weekend, in my book.

Happy Independence Day!