Friday, January 23, 2015

Time Management

I have been busy working on a prototype for a doll or dolls.

At this point, I am not really satisfied with the parts or the direction. So, I may have to take a different tack with it. In looking for solutions, I stumbled across Agosia Arts. Not only is Carmen Alana Tibbets a wonderful artist, she is also quite generous in helping others who are interested in making dolls.

I have also been thinking about the other things that I need to start or complete to get the shop up and running. There are all kinds of details to work out in order to simply set up a shop, from designing a banner through writing out policies, taking pictures of products, even deciding on a name for the shop, which has to be different from anyone else's.

In addition, I discovered last week, after finally getting my blog post done early in the evening, that I have to monitor my stress levels more closely. One of the reasons for my desire to have my own business was the ability to take better care of myself by having control over my work time. As a result, I find that my ambition to post blog entries every week will have to be altered. In order to do my best on all fronts, including the blog, I will have to reduce my entries to once every two weeks. I may post my thoughts on smaller topics more frequently on my Facebook page.

Until next time, I wish you peace & all good things.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Making Do - Making Use

My mother told me a story of making do during World War II. One of the things rationed was clothing, so she used an old suit of my father’s and “made it over” for herself. Since Dad was over 6 feet tall and Mom was 5’2”, there would have been plenty of fabric. My grandmother, whether as a result of the Great Depression or rationing during WWII, repeated the mantra "Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without" often.

Thinking about those things reminded me of all the heirlooms I have been given over the years. I have buttons from my grandmother and mother, embroidered handkerchiefs from a variety of women, crocheted doilies and runners, fabrics, a wedding gown, and much more. Since I have also been sewing and crafting for most of my life, I have a variety of items that are now considered vintage in my stash.

In addition, I have doll parts from my sister, who made porcelain dolls in various sizes; denim from jeans that can no longer be worn; orphan quilt blocks; beads, ribbons, and various items that started life in other capacities. All of these things seem to be begging to be re/upcycled. So,I am incorporating them into the products I am creating as a way of making use of beautiful materials and keeping them out of the waste stream, as I did with this piece.

Scattered Violets

It is also a way of using things that would have to be created anew and saving the energy that would be expended. That seems especially important in light of the report from NOAA and NASA that came out today: nasa-determines-2014-warmest-year-in-modern-record/

Friday, January 9, 2015

Simpler Times

What images come to mind for you when someone mentions simple living? For me, there are two different types. One is the family living off the land, providing most, if not all, of their needs themselves. The other is the type of life most people in this country lived not that long ago.

Most families gathered around the table for dinner at the same time every evening, sharing stories from their day or things they had heard about. The after dinner clean up was a shared experience, too, with one person washing and one or more drying dishes. Children would gather to do homework around the table, and then, the whole family might watch a TV show or several members might play a board game or cards together.

Even solitary activities weren't totally solitary, as family members gathered in the living room or at the table to read and do handcrafts. Many, if not most, gifts were created by hand, and possessions were few and cherished.

There were schedules for doing certain things, such as cleaning the public rooms of the house every Saturday morning, and preparing for church by shining shoes, taking baths, and curling hair Saturday night. Children wore school clothes, play clothes, and dress clothes; changing for different activities, which required a variety of clothing, but allowed school clothes and dress clothes to last longer and require less cleaning. When you got dressed up, it was special, and you felt it.

There were also fewer restrictions on children's time and ability to roam. While at least one parent was generally at home, children could go outside to play and didn't need to stay within sight. They could come home when they got hungry or cold and had to be in by a certain time for dinner and after dinner in the summer. (Usually the latter was when the street lights went on, since none of the children had a watch.) Sometimes, the parent would call or whistle for children from a front porch. Kids always knew they had to hightail it home then. There were also the Saturday movie matinees, which the children would attend without adults, spending all afternoon taking in double features, with a live show or activity in between, usually with prizes.

Adults visited in each others' homes. Occasionally, there would be a party for a holiday or birthday. They might have a garden, sometimes with vegetables, but mostly with flowers. If you were lucky, you might go on a vacation, but it usually was to the homes of distant family members.

In our shift to organized activities and love affair with technology, we seem to be missing a lot. Today, it is more likely that, even if the family meets for dinner, there will be little conversation. Afterwards, one person might load the dishwasher and run it, while the rest of the family retires to separate locations to watch shows, play on the computer, or runs off to practices. It is rare for a child to be able to play outside at all, let alone to roam freely without concern. Visits, too, are rare, with many of them taking place over the phone or via the Internet. We seem to be moving at a much quicker pace.

I suspect that much of the current fascination with vintage and some handcrafts is an attempt to bring back a bit of the sense of peace and slowness that was a part of those earlier times.

What about you? Does your image of simple living agree with mine? How does it make you feel?

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Changes

The past few months have been busy ones, as I cleared up works in progress and prepared to push forward with the business. I finished the second table runner I mentioned earlier, and made three of Melly Testa’s “Sew-plies purses” as gifts.

I’ve also spent a lot of time researching online shops and firming up the types of items I want to offer in mine. In addition, I took care of several general business related issues, like making sure my tax id is current, checking in with my local communities to make sure I am compliant, and getting business insurance.

I have started work on several different products, each with their own possible trajectories, and hope to have a shop opened soon.

My plans for the year also call for blogging more often, in hopes of better connecting with you.

My hope is that 2015 will be a wonderful year for all of us.

Wishing you peace & all good. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Finding Direction

As some of you will know, if you have been following my blog, I have been searching for a clearer direction for my work for some time. All of the research and introspection I have been doing has, finally, born fruit. In addition to making a decision about the types of products I will offer and the use of primarily re/upcycled and/or vintage materials, I have narrowed down my design focus to the environment and endangered species. It has been a long process to get to this point, but I expect making the decision will free me to be more prolific.

I have, finally, been able to get another of the pieces I had been working on finished. Decisions about the quilting kept holding me up.

Until next time, I wish you peace and all good.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

World House

I know I’ve been quiet for an awfully long time. It seems I really needed to take a break from the blog to do a little . . .
 Bird watching . . .


Check out the flowers . . .
And watch some wildlife . . .
I also took a trip that included this . . .

In addition, I have returned to something else I’ve been putting off for a long time.

Many years ago, when I was selling my crafts at local shows, one of my sisters asked me if I would collaborate with her in creating 1/12 scale dolls. The scale refers to a size that equates to 1” = 1’. Though I was nervous about my ability to make clothing for such small dolls, I agreed to try. She would create the dolls from porcelain. So began my introduction to the world of miniatures.

About the same time, I was reading a book by Peter Menzel called Material World. He went on to do another called Woman in the Material World with Faith d’Alusio, which I also read. The books show the real life situations of up to 30 statistically average families from various countries around the world. You can find out more about it here:

Also about that time, I came across statistics for a world portrait, if the earth were populated by 1000 people. That, in turn, combined with the miniatures and Material World information led me to design a 1/12 scale house I call the “World House.” (Since then, the statistics have been updated several times. The current ones, for a world population of 100 people can be found here: ) While the statistics have changed slightly, they are similar enough that my design still works.

In the house, I have a Chinese grandmother, Hispanic mother, African father, Bhutanese teenaged son, Italian child daughter, and an Indian baby boy. This is my solution for the problem of how to people the house in a way that models the ethnic and cultural population of the world. The “people” also conform to other details of the statistics, such as religion and education. While the house is an American dollhouse and I am still working on it, it has space apportioned according to the real world situations, material goods for each “person” as they would have in their respective countries, and the “people” have occupations similar to their counterparts.

In the intervening years, I have not had much time to work on the house, as other things have taken precedence. However, I recently began going through my materials, and then, got information about the upcoming Chicago Miniatures Show, both of which reignited my drive to continue. Many of the pieces I use or plan to use are made with recycled materials, giving me another way to conserve resources and avoid having things end up in a landfill.

Have you ever thought about what the whole world looks like in terms of human population or wondered what life was like for someone in a different country? What would your choices be if you were designing a World House?

Until next time, as always, I wish you peace and all good.

Friday, May 23, 2014


I have been enjoying the changes in the landscape and visitors to my little space in the world.

Lots of flowering bushes and trees . . .


A lot of familiar showy personalities . . .

And some that are not so familiar, but lovely to see.

I have been working these last few weeks on moving forward with projects and identifying next steps. It has been much more difficult than I expected it would be (when I left the day job) to settle into a routine that works and find my motivation. That frustrated me, since it seems to take so long to get from point A to point B. For example, yesterday I began working on the survey I mentioned last time I blogged, but found it will take a much longer learning curve than I expected for me to get it done. So, I am rethinking that aspect of things.

At the same time, I have been doing some experimenting with techniques and finishing up some loose ends, so I do seem to be making a little progress. Finally, I have been reminded that I promised myself I would do more to create from the heart and allow myself to play. I suspect there will be some changes coming.

In the meantime, I wish you time to play and enjoy life.