Inspired by Christmases Past…

So often I find myself taking photos of my Christmas decor right before I take the decorations down. You know what they say about good intentions… Over the last week I’ve s..l..o..w..l..y been working on spiffing my house up for the Christmas season. Today I’ll finish decorating our main tree and maybe hang a few more lights. My decor is simpler this year. And that’s ok. Sometimes, it’s difficult to remember exactly what I loved about previous Christmas decorations and I  want to be reminded of how I did things in years past. My Christmas decorating doesn’t change a whole lot. I just put the same decorations in different places. I think of decorating as creating little moments inside my home. I like what I like…which includes twinkling lights, natural elements like pine cones, lots of white and silver, mercury glass and bottle brush trees. Here are some of my photos from last year’s Christmas house and some of the “moments” I created. I hope they inspire you as well as me!


















Topping your Tree…

‘Tis the season of all things bright and magical. That is how I truly feel about Christmas. The smell of fresh pine, the twinkle of Christmas lights — it makes me all gooey inside.

Last weekend was my last show of the year, the annual Appalachian Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair in Morehead, Ky. Hosted by the Kentucky Folk Art Center, this show features over 100 vendors in a variety of different styles, categories and mediums. I was happy to be a participant. Not surprisingly, my Christmas ornaments and Christmas tree toppers were my popular items. It is that time of year after all.

My own tree stands almost bare at this moment, except for the lights that were strung last night around the beautiful evergreen branches. Each year, I find my decorating style changes just a little. Much like a painter aspires to a more loose painting style, I aspire to decorate a little more loosely. “Does this beaded garland look haphazard?” This is the question I asked my husband last night. This was the question which garnered a blank look as a response. “I don’t want it to look too done”, I explained. I guess that really is a “first-world problem.” Today I will work on casually and haphazardly decorating the rest of my home for Christmas…doing it up right, then undoing it just a little.

I have some new items available and the theme, you’ll see, is Topping Your Tree. All of these dolls are built on paper-mache cones and would be beautiful perched atop your Christmas tree this season and for seasons to come. And, because I love items that serve a dual purpose, many of these dolls will look just as great used as free-standing dolls long after the holiday season has come and gone. (Click each photo below to be taken to the listing for that item.)










Hope you enjoy looking at these little creations as much as I enjoyed making them. And, if you’re looking for something specific for your tree top, don’t hesitate to email me! It tickles me to no end that my creations get to become treasured parts of your holiday experience.

Creating your Space….

This is my workroom. I’ve never really shown it to you because it seemed like there was always one last project I wanted to finish before I took pictures. It never felt quite photo worthy.

I realize now, my workspace will never, ever feel quite photo worthy and there will always be one more project to finish or an idea about how to improve it floating around in my head. (I already have ideas for projects that I want to undertake come springtime and there are still lots of things that need improvement.) I think our studios/work rooms/extra bedrooms/crafting nooks evolve as we evolve. They are ever-changing as we face challenges, come up with solutions, edit our lives, move, take on new hobbies. When my husband and I moved into this house in 2009, I just threw all my stuff into a spare room and set about making things. Minimal organization. It was chaotic. And so I didn’t want to work. When I finally addressed the storage issues, built a counter, painted the walls and moved a bigger work table into the space, my workflow improved and making my art became easier. I want my workspace to help me. I want the organization therein to assist me when I have a sudden idea and make a mad dash for my fabric stash. I need this space to hold the bulk of the items I use for my business and personal crafting and I need to be able to work efficiently in this space.

Sadly, I will probably reach craft room nirvana, a space completely optimized for work, the moment my fingers begin to curl with arthritis & I am no longer able to even think about making anything. That will be a sad day. As long as I can remember I have been “making”. Something. It’s what I do. It brings me joy.

So, my workroom will never be quite finished. But I took some photos anyway–of the space, the tools that help me work, and the handiest solutions I’ve come up with so far to help me get the most out of my time spent in here. I spent a lot of early January thinking about the way I work and what I could do in my studio to make the area more conducive to that way of working. I think that’s the most import thing to consider when designing your space—how do you work? The solutions I’ve come up with in my own space may not work in yours. You may want to see everything you have. I don’t want to see any of it. You may want an explosion of color. For me, the projects I work on are colorful. I want my space to be the backdrop to that show. Every artist is different and thankfully, our spaces can be too.

I hope there’s something you can find in these photos to help you organize your space or that might inspire you to create your own crafting nook. Sometime soon, I’ll show you photos of all my hidden storage and tell you what exactly is shoved into all these baskets, boxes and bins. You won’t believe how much stuff is actually crammed into this room!

Anything that can be stored in a pretty way, gets the glass jar treatment. On the mantle below, I have clothespins, vintage trim, plastic beads for weighting dolls, glass glitter, vintage spools of thread, vintage stamps (which I still use) and an old cake pan holding glass bottles of small beads. A couple of my dolls watch over me while I work.

My fabric storage bin was built my Dad at least ten years ago as a gift. When he built it, I wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to use it, but it’s perfect for keeping all my fabrics separated by color.

This basket holds anything I’m sculpting at the time or paperclay projects or armatures that I’ve started and need to come back to. This open basket allows me to clean up my table pretty quickly when I need to switch gears. Letter boxes hold the pattern pieces I’ve created for my designs and specialty papers.

Clothespins are the best when I need to hang lots of little legs or arms or ornaments up to dry!

I even tacked them onto my shelving to give me more room for drying. I did this on a whim, but wouldn’t you know,  I use these all the time!

There are some items I find myself reaching for multiple times throughout the day. The boxes below hold those items for easiest access…tape, scissors, thread, elastic, office supplies.

More beads can be found inside the metal canisters on this silver-plated serving tray. (Labeling the contents for easy access is on my to do list!) I just attached a standard picture hanger to the back of the tray with hot glue. The canisters are attached with round magnets.

Bulk fabric is stored here on a handmade hickory chair made by my Dad and given to me as a gift several years ago.

The key to this room: like goes with like and everything has a place. It really does make clean-up simple, when I finally get around to cleaning up!

On my work table, metal pie tins hold my small, in progress projects and travel with me to art festivals to hold my business cards.

I keep a sewing basket of projects waiting to be sewed beside my sewing machine. If I only have an hour but need to get some work done, I sit down and get to it. Or I might use that time to fill this basket back up with ornaments and body parts.

Reproduction apothecary jars hold some of my stuffed pieces, just waiting to be painted. They’re separated by type.

This is my sewing basket. It is old and well used & it often travels from room to room with me. Inside it, I keep almost everything I need to create a cloth doll, like…

Body parts and small projects in a separate plastic sandwich bags. I always keep small things to stuff…like ornaments and brooches along with a couple larger projects.

The necessary tools to put a doll together!

And the two items I can’t live without…a stuffing fork and long hemostats. If you’re a doll maker and you don’t have these items, get them today! For years I stuffed teensy doll legs with a long paintbrush handle. I can’t tell you the difference this stuffing fork makes!

Beside “my” couch in the living area, I keep a basket filled with fluffy stuffing.

And on top of that basket is my sewing basket. When my husband and I watch TV in the evenings, I stuff or when it’s unusually cold out and I just want to stay curled up on the couch, I call it a stuffing day & get lots done. Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of stuffing done this winter!

So, I showed you mine. Be brave and show yours! What are some great ideas you’ve come up with to improve your work flow, store your items or inspire you to be more creative? Feel free to post a link to your site in the comments! I’d love to see your area.

Obsessions & Such

I admit I have obsessions. Do you? My obsessions come & go. They’re seasonal. I become completely absorbed in an obsession, can think about nothing but that topic. Then one day, it’s gone & I find myself becoming drawn to another topic, another idea to spend countless hours researching. For example beginning in March I began stalking reading this blog: Dirt Simple. I couldn’t get enough. The words, the images, I absorbed it like a sponge & constantly made reference to this blog I read, Dirt Simple….similar to the way my husband relays snippets of info from this tech blog he reads, Gizmodo. The photos & essays are beautiful & moving in a way I can’t quite explain, but the information Deborah Silver imparts to new gardeners is priceless. I began thinking about my landscape projects, my yard, my property in a different way. In March, while I ached for sunshine & the moment I could sink my hands into new dirt, this blog was my obsession.

Now, what am I taken with? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s almost August. And it’s time to think about Halloween. I LOVE making Halloween art and I LOVE Halloween. Always have. As a kid I can remember running around with one particularly scary mask, scaring anyone that would look my way. I remember loving that mask, not wanting to take it off. I think that began my love affair with dressing up, with being silly, with getting reactions.

And so, Halloween is a big deal around here. When I lived in a remote, rural setting, I hoped, hoped, hoped we would have trick-or-treaters. I always had candy just in case. Many times, we didn’t have any…or just one. One night we had five at once & I was ecstatic!

Then we moved to Riverside. We were told to be prepared for what might happen. That first Halloween we had 250+ trick-or-treaters. It was heaven. The sweet smiles, candy wrappers, shy toddlers, plastic costumes, homemade concoctions, fairy wings, tiny witches, orange pumpkin buckets & pillow sacks…it was heaven. Every year since, we’ve decorated the house & dressed up on trick-or-treat night.  So right about now, I’m thinking about Halloween. How we’ll dress. What will be our theme? And what types of Halloween decorations can I make for this year’s festivities? (Click here to view photos of past Halloween celebrations!)

Pinterest helps organize all these ideas I find. If you’re not on pinterest, I highly recommend it. Especially if you’d like to waste at least an hour every day.

Here are some of the best Halloween ideas I’ve seen on pinterest & around the web:

Don’t those photos get you in the Halloween spirit? If you’d like to see more, here’s my Trick or Treat board on Pinterest! And if you have any super cute Halloween ideas you think I need to see, feel free to leave a link in the comment section!