Friday, February 29, 2008

Tea And Lipstick

Last fall a friend of mine suggested I join a book club since she knows I like to read. I was astonished that this had never occurred to me before, and set off right away to find one. The only one I could find is at our local Barnes & Noble. I got the book, which was "Wicked" but I was too busy making bears to read it. The next couple months didn't get any better and I realized if I want to read a book and be part of the club I am just going to have to make time.

The book for February was something about war and a mental institution and killing and I said no thanks. The book for March was a different story. I was told it's an empowering book about women and their friendships and how they get together for tea. It had a nice pink cover with the word "elegant" in the title and sounded right up my alley.

I am not really into all this empowerment per se, since I was born empowered and don't need an outside source to help me. But I used to get together with 4 artist friends every month for tea. We always had a wonderful time. Sadly lives change and people get too busy so we stopped doing it. I will always cherish those times when we got together and laughed and shared our lives.

So I crawled in bed to read a little of the book and they lost me on the first page. In the first couple paragraphs were two expletives. So much for elegant. Swearing in literature has always bothered me. I can't think of very many examples when it enhances the readers experience. I have decided to force myself to read the book because I want to go to book club, I just hope it gets better.

On the flip side however, I started watching "Lipstick Jungle" when it came out a few weeks ago. I didn't really expect to like it that much for a couple reasons. Before I went to making bears full time years ago, I was part of corporate America. I got my first paying job at 9, and I've had a pretty diverse job history that has ranged from strip-o-grams (there is no actual nudity involved in that) to missiles. My forray into the cut throat lifestyle of a high powered office job wasn't one I could embrace and so I wasn't sure I wanted to watch it on TV. The other reason is that I felt it would be hard to follow the fabulously fun characters of "Sex And The City."

But I decided to give the show a chance and was hooked right from the get go! I do wish the male characters weren't so one dimensional, but I love the support these women give each other and how they step up and actively help each other out instead of just listening politely and making a comment then going back to their own lives. I also love that they aren't perfect working drones. My favorite character by far is that of Victory Ford. She is quirky, artistic with a great sense of style, neurotic and managed to stay sweet despite being in big business. The show is not about the empowerment of working women with high end jobs. It's about the empowerment of true friendship, and that's a nice change of pace!

Written In The Stars

This was my horoscope for today:

"You're so full of fiery energy that you are a beacon to friends, family and customers alike. People can't help but follow your lead, so make sure that you've got one or two hot plans in mind."

Isn't that hysterical! I don't believe in horoscopes, but they are fun to read every once in a while. Guess I better go make some "hot plans!" *Laughs*

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Nice Surprise!

I got such a lovely surprise today! I got my March/April issue of Teddy Bear & Friends in the mail and as I was flipping through it tonight, I discovered I got a nice little write up on page 11 with two pics!

My long time friend Janet Anderson also got a write up on her amazing teddy bear library exhibit! (Which features one of my bears as well!) How fun is that!

Monday, February 25, 2008

~*~ Wooden Mermaid Box ~*~

I snapped a quick pic of the second Mermaid Box, it's 4 3/4 X 7 and made of wood. The box has been hand painted with shades of white, blue, green and muted yellow to reflect the colors of a warm carribean sea. It has blue glass ball glitter around the sides, and white shells on the top scattered among blue glass "water droplets," pearls, green glittery "sand," and tulle "seaweed." When I get ready to open my Etsy shop I will take better pics, because these really don't do them justice!

I also have three new bracelets done; but I don't have photos taken yet. They are the Dictomy bracelet, the Rainforest bracelet and the Jezebel bracelet. I should have photos of them up soon! I am off to work on a bear!

~*~ Rusty Mermaid Box ~*~

I received quite a few E's asking about the Mermaid Box I mentioned, so instead of just posting a pic like I usually do, I am going to go ahead and tell how the idea came about. The picture doesn't really do this piece justice.

When I was a kid I had a poster of a mermaid I pulled out of a magazine on my closet door. I always wanted Chicken Of The Sea tuna because it had the mermaid on the can. There was something so exotic and magical about the idea of these beautiful creatures living in the ocean.

I am 1350 miles from the nearest ocean and I am fine with that. The truth is I am not really that fond of water. However I am fascinated with it. There is still something magical about the things that live in this mysterious realm. Maybe it's because so much of the ocean is largely unexplored, the things living there are so diverse and far away from how we experience life, and maybe it's because every year we discover a couple hundred new species on this planet, and 99% of them are in the ocean. So just maybe even though common sense dictates that there can't really be any mermaids...the ocean is so vast and unexplored that we hold out that tiny shred of hope that this creature really could exist.

I went to Old World Market a couple weeks ago and they had these very fat bottles filled with a potpourri of white shells and blue sea glass and a bit of raffia all topped by a cork and a tag that said "Ocean." I have to confess the thing that really prompted me to buy it was the bottle itself. I love bottles and boxes and containers of all sorts. But when I got the bottle home I had to pop the cork and let the scent out. It smelled much better than I imagined it would. It also smelled much better than any ocean I have ever visited...but something about the entire thing inspired me. Maybe I let an artistic little genie out of the bottle at the same time I let the scent escape.

I knew I wanted to make something sea inspired. I dream of the sea in those cold winter months we have here in the mountains sometimes. So off I went to buy an assortment of shells and pearls and other fun things. When I got my haul my home I set it all out on the work table and took stock of it. What a treasure I had, much like I imagine a mermaid would bring to her home. But what was I going to make with it now that I had it? What would a mermaid do with it all?

I repeated that question to myself in a little more earnestly. What WOULD a mermaid do with it all? Well like all other mythical creatures she would naturally tuck her treasure away in some sort of chest, or box...hmmm. But what would that look like? Obviously our little sea dwelling miss would have to use what she had on hand. She would gather odd containers and adorn them with shells and pearls and seaweed and any other thing that caught her eye. Naturally it would be sparkly as well. (All mystical, magical things sparkle don't they?) So what I have come up with were Mermaid Boxes!

The one shown above is the first one. It's a diminutive band box 3 1/2 inches in diameter. The base is white washed with antique gold rubbed on here and there to give it that look of being aged on the sun dappled deck of a ship. The top of the box is rusted tin covered with an array of shells, pearls, glass beads, tulle "seaweed," and dusting of sparkley "sand." (This is NOT hot glued together...I don't like hot glue. I used a nice jewelry cement to make sure it was secure!)

I have a second box in the works that will be completely different from this one in color, shape and material...I am not sure how many I am going to make, but each will be unique and a great place to store your own trinkets and treasures! Look for them on my website and my upcoming Etsy shop!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Quest For Cute

It's one of those nights that most people find kind of gloomy. There are storm clouds that give the sky that stark, greyish-purple bruised look against the black sillouette of the barren trees. But ever since I was a kid I found those nights magical and full of promise. We need to have storms so that we can experience the calm that follows. But I like the storms too sometimes.

About a million or so years ago when I first began making bears, our world was a different place. We didn't have the internet and all that it entails and so to sell bears we had to get out of our houses and go to shows and signings and teach classes and interact with each other face to face. While the internet certainly has some merits and you can reach a larger audience, I miss the human interaction. Apparently certain members of this new breed of cyber artists consider me a fossil for that line of thinking. I in turn consider it sad that they have never experienced shows, and that idea isn't as antiquated as they might think. They have no idea what they missed or the camraderie and true friendships that were formed at those shows.

In the beginning of shows people were more concerned with the love of the bear more as a toy rather than an art form or scoring a collectible from so and so because they happen to be the hot artist du jour who is selling their pieces for very high prices. So it was not uncommon for collectors and artists alike to bring members of their collections to share at conventions. Sort of like a grown up show and tell. You were encouraged to touch and hug their bears and they were encouraged to do the same to yours. It was fun! We don't seem to have as much fun anymore because people are so caught up in the politics and worrying that what they say will be taken wrong and offend someone since it's all said online and no one really has any understanding of each other.

The Kansas City show was always one of my favorites when it was put on by Bill Boyd. It was a fun show, the atomsphere was jovial and light hearted and everyone always had a good time. It was really well attended by collectors. At that particular time I was going through a change when I had decided that I wanted to make very serious bears.

Now I don't design patterns the way most of the rest of the world does it. I don't use a formula for ratio or any type of template and add the seam allowance after. I simply sit down and draw it out freehand. BUT it has to be perfect. So when I want to design something new or different I have to make it from start to finish over and over in my head for about two weeks before I sit down and pick up a pencil and paper. I am sure you're scratching your head and wondering why I would do that when there are easier ways. I don't have an answer, it's just how my process works, and I can't seem to do it any other way.

At that KC show there was a really fun couple who collected bears together. They would arrive at the show every year with a vintage baby carriage that had a bell and a supply of poptarts and it was always FILLED with bears that got to come along to the show, and each one had a story. I am not going to mention their names just out of respect for their privacy, but if you attended that show you will know right away who they were. I always looked forward to seeing them because they were such fun people!

On this particular year I was lamenting the fact that I couldn't make "serious" bears over dinner, they always turned out cute and I couldn't understand why I couldn't make that serious bear face. They both just stared at me for a minute until I burst out laughing. He said; "That's why!" We all laughed harder after he said it!

As time progressed I did learn to make that perfectly old looking serious face that I wanted and I have sold thousands of very serious bears since then. But lately I have been wanting to make something that is more "cute." The thing is after all the years of making serious bears, I am not sure I know how to go back to cute. I am not sure the bear world IS cute anymore, and I am not sure I am cute how do I find cute inside me now? Surely there is a latent pool of cute waiting to be tapped?

I want to make a little chibi style bear, and I have been obsessively making and adjusting and remaking the little thing inside my head now for about a week. I've also been making some mermaid boxes in there over the past week as well, but those are are ready to brought from my brain into reality tomorrow. (Stay tuned for the pics.)

I am not sure why I want to do cute all of a sudden, what does it say about me? What does it say about this part of my life? Maybe I am ready for a little less seriousness and want to move on to some fun kind of like the calm after the storm...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Girl Of My Dreams

So I never got the Etsy shop open Wednesday like I wanted to because I woke up sick a couple nights ago and my "kids" are having some issues that has taken all my time. But it's ok because I have learned recently that all things really do come in their own time when they are ready, as if they know more than I do. Which they probably do.

The good news is Tallulah is on her way to Luxembourg, which I think it kind of exciting. I have bears living in some pretty far flung parts of the world, but as far as I know she is the first one to get to go there.

While I was resting yesterday I managed to read an amusing article in Allure magazine. It was called "The Girl Of My Dreams." Trust me it wasn't about what you might think. It was about those anonymous women that we all get a glimpse of in public who leave a huge impact on us because we wish we had whatever quality it is that made them stick in our memory based on a fleeting image. She went on to say that in reality their lives probably aren't as good as we imagine, but that we identify with the quality that sparks us because we either have it in a latent form or we wish we had it. (I am paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it.)

The interesting thing was that upon reading the article I IMMEDIATELY remembered those women from my life. I guess we all have them. They are never movie stars or models, they usually aren't perfect or even if they are, that isn't what makes us remember them. Sometimes it's an easy grace, a daring we don't possess, or simply a casual style that reflects a comfort in their own skin.

I will tell you about the three that made an impact on me. One was at a concert in the 80's. She had that perfect smoldering italian looks and long curly black hair with deep red lipstick. But it wasn't her perfection of looks that made me remember her. As she made her way calmly through the crowd of raucous concert goers she looked completely unflappable and as if she had just struck a pose for a magazine at every stride. At that point in life I really wished I had that olive skin and dark haired coloring, and her perfect 8 X 10 glossy worthy poses just fascinated me because she was so untouched by anything going on around her. Since I've gotten older I have become incredibly thankful I was born a natural blonde. I don't have to wax anything above the neck!

The second one was in 1989 on my honeymoon in Port Jefferson, NY. She was having lunch with friends at an outdoor cafe. She had black pants and a shirt and really ugly shoes that reminded me of broguns that were fabulous in their own way because she made them work. She had wonderfully dangly silver earrings that were shown off by her shorter glossy dark hair that had bangs that flopped over the back a la Johnny Depp the early years. It was in fact her easy laugh and her amazingly casual yet chic hair and style that fascinated me and left an impression. You have to understand that I have ten pounds of unruly hair that has never had a chic day in it's life because it runs amok with wild abandon. Now I am sure that somewhere some woman with smooth glossy dark locks has looked at me and I left that impression on them because they wish they had ten pounds of unruly blonde hair...but hey the grass is always greener because that's not the pasture you live in!

The last one that made an incredible impression on me was in fact a man. In 2000 I was at Jazz Fest in Sacramento. The place was teeming with attractive, flirty college-esque men who weren't ready to grow up yet. Now you might think one of them would be the one I would remember. You couldn't be more wrong. The one I remember was an older gentleman walking down the street with a very pretty younger woman. She was clearly not a relative either, but I could understand her attraction to him. He was short, very thin, part asian and not anything beyond average to look at. However he had that certain je nais se quoi. He was wearing light colored loose fitting trousers and a shirt that had a certain amount of silk in them. You could tell by the way they flowed as he walked. He had on sandals, small wire framed glasses and a beret. I sounds awful doesn't it? But yet the man was perfectly comfortable in an outfit that really wouldn't have suited most people his age. He exuded a confidence and a comfortableness with himself that is rare. You could tell that he was young at heart but had an old and artistic soul. He seemed like the sort of man who would dazzle you in a million ways without even knowing it or trying. He was worth a dozen of the cute post college boys. But it wasn't that I wanted to be with him, I wanted to be comfortable with myself in that way. I think it's that quality I saw in each of these people that I wanted for myself.

As the years have progressed I think I have grown into who I am, made peace with that and become comfortable in my own skin. I know my good points and my short comings and I am fine with both. However I don't know if I will ever be as comfortable as those three anonymous people who made such a lasting impression on me in the split second that I saw each of them.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day!

L'amour....l'amour! My goodness what a good day I had yesterday! For once my life was rather fairytale like. I slept late, and when I got up I was going to head to the store. While I was getting ready the doorbell rang. I didn't bother to answer it because I saw the UPS truck and knew it was the book I had ordered so I finished what I was doin before I went up to get it. Imagine my surprise when on the doorstep was a long green box. I saw that it was flowers and at first I thought it had been misdelivered. When I picked it up I saw that it had my name on it!!!

I thought maybe they were from my Mother or perhaps even some secret admirer...but no, they were from R! I wasn't even expecting anything at all because he had so generously bought me the pink laptop that I am typing one right now. So when I discovered a box with red roses in a vase and a heart shaped box of chocolates I about fainted! He usually brings me a single red rose or even sometimes a whole bouqet but they are always from the grocery store. Now mind you I am not complaining, many women don't get a thing. But I just wasn't expecting anything so extravagant! I wasn't expecting anything except maybe a card. I must say I have gotten a lot of presents this year from him, the laptop, the Steiff from Berlin and now this! I think I am positively spoiled! So tonight it will be my turn, I am cooking him a nice dinner, and a little later in the month I am going to get his present as well. I had to postpone it a bit...but he understands why.

I went on to do my shopping and everyone was so pleasant yesterday. It was so refreshing to see. Love must simply be permeating the air! People seem drawn to me in public anyway, although I've never really figured out why. The only damper on my fairytale day was that I jammed my toe so hard when I put the grocry cart back (You better be putting those back, if you can spend an hour in the store you can take 20 seconds to use the cart return. It's a pet peeve!) that I think I may have broken it. But even that hasn't slowed me down. I hope today is just as good!

I hope all of you have a lovely day filled with love and loved ones and may you all be spoiled too! Happy hearts day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

~*~ Tallulah Rue ~*~

Here she is! Tallulah Rue is 9 inches tall and made of a velvety red mohair. I put her on ebay as a sort of last hurrah before the new rules set in:

Click here to visit her!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Shifting Gears

I have had so many things that need doing lately it's just been overwhelming. I think the hardest part is after I finally decide what project to do and get it done, to switch gears and do another kind of project. It took me forever to figure out what to do to update the graphics on my website and then all of a sudden it fell into place. The trouble is I am in computer work mode so now it's hard to get out of my head and move into the real work phase. I also need to switch into Spring cleaning phase, and sort the closets phase and...the list goes on. Today it was especially hard to switch gears because I was dealing with a migrain and vertigo.

I have decided maybe the best way to get things done is to have to be accountable for them to someone other than myself. So these are my goals for the weekend:

Walk the dogs if it's really as warm as they say it's going to be.

Clean the pantry.

Finish the red bear.

There it is, in I am accountable to you! Wish me luck I will keep you updated on my progress.

Oooh I just got a new idea for...well nevermind for now! *Winks*
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