Thursday, February 26, 2009

Featured Team CAC Seller....


We've started a new feature in the team blog, to coincide with Self Portrait Thursday. Each week we'll feature another team member. We're continuing things with April of SilverSunbeam.

To start, please tell us a bit about yourself. What's your story?

I'm that girl who pursued college to go into "a Profession" and came out a housewife instead. A decade or so later I'm really happy my plans didn't work out. I've had the opportunity to travel, live abroad, and see whole worlds I never could have imagined with my upbringing. We lived in Scotland for several years while he worked on his Ph.D. and joked that we'd use his education (in Art History) to start a lavender farm. It was a good joke those many years... So, what do I do? I'm a cat-wrangling housewife-artist who just got married to the farm. The lavender plants start arriving at Stratheden Farm in late March.

I started making shrines a few years ago, before I fully admitted I was a Christian. I knew I loved what I'd studied in the Gospels (I minored in Theology at college) but had difficulty reconciling what I knew was there and what I saw in the various denominations I'd tried over the years. Ultimately I just gave up and told God he'd just have to send an angel to teach me directly because I was formally quitting the search. Through a strange set of choices that made no sense to anyone, I ended up in Eastern Europe learning to sing Georgian Orthodox Chant. If you don't think God listens then try asking for what you actually need. I was surrounded by all these amazing people who told me about their religion and, without them knowing it, reconciled all my questions and confusions. I came back to America and immediately set out toward becoming a full member of the Eastern Orthodox community. In concert with bringing me closer to Him, I've begun to understand the deeper levels of my own art. It isn't just pretty pictures for me, it's a doorway to the divine I've been blessed to offer to the world.


What is your favorite quote?

"Done is Beautiful." My old boss at the College of Santa Fe costume shop used to say it to me all the time.


What is your favorite movie?

I have to split myself on this one. Half of me says it's All Quiet on the Western Front (the original German print) for sheer power. The other half says it's Whiskey Galore for absolute humor. It was made by Ealing Studios just after WWII and, having no budget for actors, they simply went to a Scottish island and hired the locals for all but the lead roles. It completely captures the Scottish soul, even now.


What is your favorite TV show?

I really enjoy the various BBC detective mysteries on PBS. Old or new, I like them. I'll try to follow the series but I don't actually make plans around turning on the tube. There's too much life out there to be watching the box regularly.


What is your favorite song at the moment?

The song that always puts me in a good mood is Ode to Contentment, which is a little Shaker "gift song." Libana has it on one of their albums. It's sustained me since high school. I sing it to myself when I'm feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.


What kinds of music do you listen to?

Almost everything... organ music, folk, bluegrass, old time, old rock and roll, Shaker, Orthodox chant, big band, electronica... If it's done well I'll listen to it.


How long have you been creating?

I got into crafting proper when I was about ten. We'd lived with my grandmother for most of fourth grade so we could finish the school year in Maine before joining my father who'd taken a job in Tucson, Arizona. I watched in complete fascination while my grammie sewed doll dresses for me on her tiny, old, Singer sewing machine. What amazed me was the idea that a person could make something. When we arrived in the desert that summer one of the things my dad made sure Mom had was a sewing machine. Why, I don't know, as she's not at all crafty. I claimed the machine and, sitting on the floor (my feet still don't reach the ground from a standard chair...) I taught myself to sew. Skip ahead nearly fifteen years and I'd recently graduated from college, decided I never wanted to work in costuming or psychology again, and my husband decided that freed him up to pursue a Ph. D. at St. Andrews Uni in Scotland. So, off we went... and me with no work permit! I went back to school at Dundee College and took a year of entry level textile design classes... conquering linguistic hurdles and my fear of drawing along the way. The next year I moved on to Elmwood College where I attempted a Higher National Certificate in General Art but bombed the collage / mixed media unit so didn't get the qualification.


What inspires you?

Day to day it's watching my six joyful cats. I want to embody that kind of freedom to be happy because we humans are so intent on making ourselves unhappy. That's not how God intended us to live! When I'm working on a piece I'm thinking mostly about imparting that good feeling. Spanish Catholic artwork of the Southwest has always been a big inspiration because of the love that's put into even the coarsest piece. That's led me to all sorts of other art... from Pictish standing stones, Aztec temple sculpture, and Hopi Katsinas to Appalachian folk art, Pictorialist photography, and Rembrandt. My taste is rather all-over-the-place.


Please describe your creative process (the how, the when, materials, etc.).

In a lot of ways I'm "just the hands" when I'm making a shrine. I learned after struggling through designing the first few that if I just checked out and asked the box what it wanted they went together with a whole lot less frustration.I now know that it is the saints themselves who direct the making of my devotionals. All the pieces in my Etsy shop were made either on my dining room table or in my old "studio" which was really just a camp table in the spare bedroom. I'm in the process of moving into a new home where I'll actually have a dedicated studio.

I begin by asking what the subject wants me to do to ornament their icon. I'll hold up two or three ribbons, different papers, ten different beads until I feel like I've heard their wishes. If anyone actually heard my internal conversations they'd lock me up in the nut house! Some boxes take a couple hours to complete while others will be put on hold for months until I've found the exact piece to finish it.

The shrines are built onto small boxes, mostly old Altoids tins, or into old bottle caps and filled with resin. I want them to be both beautiful and highly functional. The idea with the boxes is that you can store a memento or write your needs down and put them in the box for the saint to work on for you. I pray over each one as I make it. Nothing formal, though I think that's about to change, but just asking that the item bring healing and "good medicine" to it's final owner.


Is there any kind of music you listen to when you create?

Internet radio is my newest passion. I'll tap into WAMU, a bluegrass station, or into Ancient Faith Radio ( http://ancientfaith.com ) which is all Eastern Orthodox chant. Both put me straight into the proper head space. If I'm working on a secular piece then it's folk music, old big band jazz, and NPR.


What's your biggest artistic disaster to date? How did it help you progress?

Did I tell you about failing my collage / mixed media unit for the Scottish Higher? That's not quite descriptive enough... I completely bombed it. Not "didn't do well" but completely, utterly, and spectacularly failed. We're talking panic attacks and everything. I have no idea why it was so bad for me, it just was. Ultimately we agreed that the teacher wouldn't ask me to turn things in but I'd show up every day and work as best I could so as not to be a poor example to the younger students. Less than a year later I'd made my first shrine, a mixed media confection to help an ailing friend. It was Saints Lucia and Roch. The making of it was nearly effortless. Do you see the humor here? I do hope you do! I think it taught me not to worry so much about "making the grade" ...very humbling!


What's your favorite piece that you've done?

That is definitively my St. Nino Equal-to-the-Apostles shrine. It was a real breakthrough into both dimensionality and a more obviously devotional function. It has a little dish for offering flowers or lighting a tiny candle. She's the patron saint of Georgia (the country) and she went to a woman in England who really wanted to visit. No doubt the good saint is arranging things for her as I'm pretty sure she did for me.


What's the best advice you were given when starting out?

"Don't be afraid to be eccentric." My role model, much to the horror of our mutual friends, is a crazy Danish friend in Scotland named Aase Goldsmith. She's jolly, irreverent, and isn't afraid of anyone or anything. She's a piece of artwork in and of herself and I can only hope to be as inappropriately appropriate an old lady as she is... she also isn't afraid to freely admit to believing in fairies. Aase's motto is to do whatever you want because when you do people will just think you're an "odd bod," and let you get on with it.


Do you have any advice to give others?

Have some trust. Learn to love without condition. Be nice. If you're religious then allow yourself to trust God in all things. When you you are quiet enough to start listening, and then DO what God suggests life goes so much more smoothly. I love telling people that we're all going to the Big Rock Candy Mountain because God loves all his children with perfect equality, forgiveness, and mercy.


What's coming up for you; any big plans artistically?

Getting into that new studio! Right now I can just squeeze in there enough to work on some floral hair pins (in the shop soon, I promise!) The next big thing is to prepare myself to paint my first icon. Normally this would be Christ but I think it's going to be St. Fillan, my Name Saint, as there are no icons of him to be found. (My Christian name is Fillina.) There are a number of art venues in my new little town of Floyd, VA so I'm also gearing up to gearing myself up to get into one or two.


Where can we find you? Both online and in stores.

I'm only selling on Etsy right now. The shop name is SilverSunbeam ( www.silversunbeam.etsy.com ) You can also read about me on my blogs. "Crafting, with Cats" ( www.craftingwithcats.blogspot.com ) is me blethering on about faith, craft, and domestic life. My husband and I also write a blog about our farm adventure ( www.strathedenfarm.blogspot.com ) here on Stratheden Farm. My Flickr stream is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/silversunbeam

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Great Pictures...

Got this email from my sister the other day, thought I'd share...



Taken from world's tallest building 'Burj Dubai'
@
2,620 ft!!! AMAZING!!!!





Look at the edge (uppermost right corner) of the picture,
thanks to the lens,
you can almost see the turn of the earth.


The persons who are working on the upper most Girders
can see the
rotation of earth.






Amazing striped icebergs


Icebergs in the Antarctic area sometimes have stripes, formed by
layers of snow that react to different conditions.

Blue stripes are often created when a crevice in the ice sheet
fills up with meltwater and freezes so quickly that no bubbles form.

When an iceberg falls into the sea, a layer of salty seawater can
freeze to the underside. If this is rich in algae, it can form a
green stripe.

Brown, black and yellow lines are caused by sediment, picked up
when the ice sheet grinds downhill towards the sea.





Thursday, February 19, 2009

Featured Team CAC Seller....

We've started a new feature in the team blog, to coincide with Self Portrait Thursday. Each week we'll feature another team member. We're continuing things with Amy
of Amy's Treasures.


To start, please tell us a bit about yourself. What's your story?
My favorite color is clear with transparent polka dots…
I mean….

Let’s see… my shop is something my mom, sister and I had been talking about doing since the early 90s. Only with my sister and I both working and putting ourselves through college, it just wasn’t the right time. Now that I’ve discovered etsy, I have a venue for that. I have very little formal training in pretty much anything except singing. You don’t spend 13 years in choirs without learning a thing or two. ;) But as far as my crafting goes, really it’s a lot of hands on training, or figuring it out as I went along. I did work at Michael’s for a few months around ’94, I think it was, doing demos. I learned a lot in terms of working with different crafting materials. One day I would like to bring back some of those techniques and put them to use on something for my shop.

What is your favorite quote?
I just can’t get past this one, it’s too fun “Personally, I prefer a good shag.” Ducky from the episode "Dead and Unburied" - NCIS


What is your favorite movie?

Too many good ones to nail one down, I like action, sci-fi, comedy (not most of the crap out now), thrillers, things like that


What is your favorite TV show?

See above. But to name a few… NCIS, Hustle, Burn Notice, Psych (do you see the pattern?) also watch a lot of food network and HGTV, but not as much of the latter.

What is your favorite song at the moment?

Hm… don’t really have a favorite at the moment…

What kinds of music do you listen to?

Persian, Christian, classical, piano, 80s music, 70s, classic rock (exSCUSE ME, oldies, you have no idea how old it makes me feel to hear 80s songs on oldies stations)… pretty much anything except any form of rap, old school metal (the new metal isn’t metal to me, but the screaming stuff I don’t care much for), any form of country.

How long have you been creating?

Since the 80s, at least. I grew up in church and did crafts in Sunday School and VBS, so this is nothing new.

What inspires you?

Anything and everything.

Please describe your creative process (the how, the when, materials, etc.).

Well it probably depends on different things. Some times I’ll see beads that inspire me to make something, while other times I’ll have something on my heart that I want to do (my sunrise, sunsetpieces) that I’ll carry with me until I find the right materials/beads. I would like to move past the “costume jewelry” stage and work with more “real” materials some day, maybe even learn a little metal smithing. I do plan on learning how to make stained glass though. That is something I’ve wanted to do for nearly as many years as I’ve been wanting to start my shop.

Course then there are the times when I’m watching something while I work and it influences the piece I’m working on. *cough*cosmosnecklace*cough* Or I’ll be listing to an interview while getting dressed which then influences something else. *cough*sapphireandsteelearrings*cough*

What's your biggest artistic disaster to date? How did it help you progress?

It has to be when I worked at Cookies By Design (which is where I got carpel tunnel). I walked in one morning to be handed an order for pizza cookies, one that was to read “Congratulations on the engagement”, only I was so rushed and no one checked my spelling that, I forgot an e in engagement (it read engagment) . I was banned from pizza cookies after that. Course had they not rushed me that would have never happened.

The ban was eventually lifted when we got an order for the Northwestern University’s logo on a pizza cookie with the words Happy Birthday, and a person’s name. That came out great, I’m so glad I took a picture of it. I should mention, unless it was a Disney cookie, all designs were freehand drawn and colored with frosting. We had stencils but those were for the licensed Disney cookies, and the soccer balls. I always free-handed the soccer balls, because I’d fill them all in with frosting, instead of only do black on a white glazed cookie. It looked so much better fully frosted.

What's your favorite piece that you've done?

Hmmm… I have so many pieces that I love, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Off the top of my head though I’d say either my Rat Pack set or my Rose and Babies Breadth headband/tiara. I love roses though, so that could sway me to liking that piece. ;)

What's the best advice you were given when starting out?

Hmm…. Can’t say I’ve been given any advice per se, but I’ve been given lots of encouragement by the ladies that got me started on etsy; old friends of my sister’s.

Do you have any advice to give others?

Just keep making what inspires you, do what you like. Don’t try to make things that you don’t like just to go with the latest trends. You will ultimately hate what you are doing and no longer want to do it. Don’t worry about being trendy, trends only last a season or two. Just concentrate on making your shop something you’re proud of. Fill it with things you love and enjoy making.

What's coming up for you; any big plans artistically?

I recently opened a cafĂ© press shop, which I’m having fun with. When I have the funds, I will be getting a paid account there to add more options. I will soon start experimenting on making cuffs that will cover wrist supports. Since I have a weak wrist, I have to wear one most days and hate when I wear it to weddings or something. It’s not that I hate the “what happened to your wrist” question, it’s that it sticks out like a sore thumb. I know, that’s just being vain and picky but it just doesn’t go with anything. It’s functional and necessary, but not always wanted.

Also, my sister and I are going to be working on trying to duplicate a tree top angel our late uncle gave us back in the 60s(?). We will fight to the death over this angel but she’s all mine! The lights need to be restrung but I can’t for the life of me find a short strand of Christmas lights that aren’t battery operated. So if I can find that, we will try to make my sister one and if all goes well, add them to my shop.

Where can we find you? Both online and in stores.

http://www.amystreasures.etsy.com

http://www.amystreasuresattic.etsy.com

http://www.cafepress.com/amystreasures

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Featured Team CAC Seller...

We're starting a new feature in the team blog, to coincide with Self Portrait Thursday. Each week we'll feature another team member. We're starting things off with Leah of Matic Studio.

To start, please tell us a bit about yourself. What's your story?
I am a WAHM to Nalia (Sugarfoots) who just turned 2 and Noah who will be five next month. I am married to my absolute soulmate, but polar earthly opposite. I am so creative that it keeps me awak at night. I am a jack of all trades and get bored with one thing easily. I tend to be very outgoing, but relish my alone-time. (sometimes I got to the restroom downstairs just so I can hear silence for a few moments!) I love to dance and sing, though singing is NOT something I am good at! Ask my kids! I love to cook and bake and live for my java in the morning! I enjoy my real friendships and cherish my few true friends. I love my Mama with all my heart and pray I can be half the mother to my kids that she was to me.

What is your favorite quote?
Que sera, sera- whatever will be, will be (knowing the Lord makes this one SO much easier to accept!)

What is your favorite movie?
Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve (it's a flick from my childhood that is special to me and my Mama)

What is your favorite TV show?
LOL- SCRUBS!!!!

What is your favorite song at the moment?
Slow Fade by casting crowns

What kinds of music do you listen to?
anyting with a great drum beat or bass ling- I enjoy male vocals more than female and prefer alternative/grunge as well as latin/salsa

How long have you been creating?
umm...when does conception REALLY begin? 28 years I would say?

What inspires you?
honestly, my God and the beauty He provides all around me....my kids and their absolute love of life and innocence, and the person I see when I look into my husband's eyes looking back at me

Please describe your creative process (the how, the when, materials, etc.).
well, it starts with finding rare and unique yarns, fabrics or beads....that combined with my hooks and hands eventually turns into my finished product. I never really have anything in mind until it forms itself. that's why my items are all one of a kind (unless I get a custom order for more of the same). I am NEVER without at least one skein of yarn and a hook, so the where part is WHEREVER I am at the moment

Is there any kind of music you listen to when you create?
I listen to K-Love since I only have a radio dowsntairs, but I usually put on my latin jive if I have my IPod- it amps me up while I paint and seems to force me to paint more vibrantly

What's your biggest artistic disaster to date? How did it help you progress?
um....I would have to say a painting I was commissioned to make for my step-father. It was a colored oil painting to be made from a sketchy, 80 something year old black and white blown up photo of a village in portugal. I HATE painting landscapes and told him so. He still insisted I paint it and I HATED the final product. I will never again do something I am not comfortable with or do not enjoy doing artistically. it makes me doomed to fail, I feel. It also makes me strive to find venues that challenge and provoke me creatively.

What's your favorite piece that you've done?
my oil painting- Compelling Fire

What's the best advice you were given when starting out?
Do what makes you happy- that's it! No formal training, just the encouragement of a Mama and a Gram who knew I could be whatever I wanted and saw my potential while helping encourage and funnel it while I was so young

Do you have any advice to give others?
Seek God in all you do, and in doing so, follow the one path you were destined to lead

What's coming up for you; any big plans artistically?
I have a trunk show coming up next month and am gearing up for my spring line. I just finished remodeling my Studio and have been enjoying photographing my items in ONE spot!

Where can we find you? Both online and in stores.
You can find me at:
http://MaticStudio.etsy.com
http://Sugarfoots.etsy.com
http://TheDreamGiver.etsy.com
http://MaticStudio.blogspot.com
I am also on facebook- Leah moerschel
myspace-themusingmama
maticstudio [!at] hotmail.com

and I am featuring some of my smaller pieces at Le Chic Boutique in New York as well as Two Old Bittys baby boutique in Lousiana.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The first mammogram is the worst.

A little humor for everyone. Be warned, do not read this if you have a full bladder, or anything in your mouth. We are not held responsible for anything that may happen to you while you read this. (just to clarify something, this was an email I got years ago. haven't seen it make the rounds since, but I had to dig it out, too funny to keep hidden)

The first mammogram is the worst. Especially when the machine catches on fire. That's what happened to me. The technician, Gail, positioned me exactly as she wanted me (think a really complicated game of Twister - right hand on the blue, left shoulder on the yellow, right breast as far away as humanly possible from the rest of your body). Then she clamped the machine down so tight, I think my breast actually turned inside out.

I'm pretty sure Victoria's Secret doesn't have a bra for that. Suddenly, there was a loud popping noise. I looked down at my right breast to make sure it hadn't exploded. Nope, it was still flat as a pancake and still attached to my body.

"Oh no!" Gail said loudly. These are perhaps, the words you least want to hear from any health professional. Suddenly, she came flying past me, her lab coat whipping behind her, on her way out the door. She yelled over her shoulder, "The machine's on fire, I'm going to get help!" OK, I was wrong, 'The machine's on fire,' are the worst words you can hear from a health professional. Especially if you're all alone and semi-permanently attached to A MACHINE and don't know if it's THE MACHINE in question.

I struggled for a few seconds trying to get free, but even Houdini couldn't have escaped. I decided to go to plan B: yelling at the top of my lung (the one that was still working). I hadn't seen anything on fire, so my panic hadn't quite reached epic proportions. But then I started to smell smoke coming from behind the partition. "This is ridiculous," I thought. I can't die like this. What would they put in my obituary? Cause of death:
breast entrapment?

I may have inhaled some fumes because I started to hallucinate. An imaginary fireman rushed in with a fire hose and a hatchet. "Howdy, ma'am," he said. "What's happened here?" he asked, averting his eyes.

"My breasts were too hot for the machine," I quipped, as my imaginary fireman ran out of the room again. "This is gonna take the Jaws of Life!"

In reality, Gail returned with a fire extinguisher and put out the fire. She gave me a big smile and released me from the machine. "Sorry! That's the first time that's ever happened. Why don't you take a few minutes to relax before we finish up?" I think that's what she said. I was running across the parking lot in my backless paper gown at the time. After I'd relaxed for a few years, I figured I might go back. But I was bringing my own fire extinguisher.