Friday, January 30, 2009

Meet The Boomers!

This week you get to meet Kathy, from KathysKraftyKreation!

1. What is/are the name of your shop/s? KathysKraftyKreation

2. What kind of items do you sell? Beadwoven Jewelry, Eyeglass Leashes, Counted Cross Stitches and what ever else I feel like making.il_430xN.28468670

3. How long have you been engaged in your art/craft? Jewelry about 1-1/2 years, counted cross stitch about 10 years, and everything else...forever.

4. Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional craftsperson? I am definately a crafter, not a professional. I get bored making the same old thing all the time so I do alot of different things so I am a master of none.

5. What inspires you? I haven't got the slightest idea. I just see something I like and think I can do it, too.

6. Please share with us what a typical day is like in your workshop or studio? I sit in my recliner, turn on the TV and do something. Beading: I choose the beads and start sewing up something, no pattern, just winging it. Cross stitch: I pick out a pattern, get out my floss and start stitching. I have no idea what's on the TV but I change the channel periodically just so I feel like I'm paying attention to it.

7. What keeps you company while you’re working on a project? TV and my dogs.

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8. What is your favorite 'task' related to your art/craft? Finishing. The things I do take so much time that I can't wait to get done. I'm all enthused for the first couple of inches, bored for the next four, and totally excited to be done with the project for the last inch.

9. What is your least favorite 'task' related to your art/craft? Photographing and listing on Etsy. I am so photographically challenged it isn't funny and I can never think of cute, catchy things to write about my items as some other people I know do.

10. What are some of the venues you use to promote your shop/ware?(Do you blog? To which teams do you belong? Do you use other sites? Which ones? etc.)
Etsy is my only venue. I do not blog because I just don't think anyone would be that interested in what I have to say and besides that, I like immediate reactions to what I say so I can respond. I only belong to the best team which is Bbest (Boomers and Beyond Etsy Street Team).

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11. Related to your craft,tell us about a funny, strange or unusual situation you found yourself in. Well, the only thing I can think of is the chat room on Fridays and Sundays. We have so much fun.

12. Tell us something about you that we wouldn’t necessarily know by talking with you in the forums. There is nothing you don't all know. I'm pretty open about everything. I usually have at least one, if not both of my feet in my mouth, due to my honesty about things.

13. What’s your favorite book and why, favorite movie and why, favorite kind of music?
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings because they are such good books. Movie is Dirty Dancing. Why, 2 words: Patrick Swayze. Music is Country Western because I didn't like disco or acid rock so I switched to Country Western and because you can dance to it while holding on to your partner. I also like Oldies for the obvious reason that I'm old.

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14. Would you care to share any 'words of wisdom' with other aspiring artists or crafters?
Try it, you'll like it. I'm all about straight lines and symmetry and am the least artistic, creative person I know so if I can do it, so can you. There is great joy in making/creating something that someone, other than you, will love.

Please leave comments after reading. Our member would love to hear from  you!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wanted: more storage space!

image Probably one of the biggest deterrents to an artist's creative expression is the issue of storage. Questions frequently asked include: Where do I store the tools and materials of my craft? Where do I keep works that are in progress? Where do I keep finished inventory? While each artist has unique needs, depending on his or her craft, everyone shares a need to prevent clutter in the work space from derailing the creative process. At the same time, most artists fear too much organization will inhibit their productivity. In her book, Organizing from the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern writes, "Many creative or 'right-brained' people who have always worked in chaos both crave and are frightened of getting organized." The solution, of course, is a balance between utter chaos and complete orderliness.

Some simple household cleaning tips are probably helpful, as outlined in Organizing Plain & Simple, by Donna Smallin. According to Smallin, you should organize things in your life--in this case the tools and materials of your craft--according to these principles:

  • Keep what you love
  • Give away what you can't use but somebody else can
  • Throw away things no one wants and no one can use
  • Sell things that will allow you to fuel your next shopping trip
  • Put things away that aren't where they need to be

That being said, storage for the typical artist remains a challenge. Very few artists are able to separate their work spaces entirely from the rest of the house.

"My current space is the worst," says Joon of joonbeam. "I am in a small bedroom with ALL of our storage plus my supplies and work area. It's like working in a closet. I only have three drawers in my art table. I need my sewing machine, paper cutter, ironing board, fabrics, notions, pens, scissors, threads, glues, crayons, paints, stamps, etc. ALL the time."

Pam of bagsandmorebypam shares a similar issue. "I have probably 40 or more huge storage containers full of either yarn or finished products. These are in two different rooms: floor to ceiling in one end of one of our bedrooms, and almost one-third to one-half of the actual floor space in another bedroom where the computers and desk are."

image "Shelves! I need shelving!" says Brett of VanFleetStreetDesign. "I have things all over the place and things stored underneath my art table. I can't even get my legs under it to sit. I put everything that I am not using on a daily basis downstairs in the spare bedroom."

The issue of space need not be overwhelming, according to Julie Morgenstern. She says the key to effective storage is "to design your system to be simple, fun, and visually appealing so that it reflects your creative personality, and feeds it."

Before you design that space, analyze your decorating style. Are you an Idealist? Adventurer? Leader? Guardian? In Organizing Your Craft Space, Jo Packham describes four decorating personalities, one of which will guide your choices in designing your crafting/storage areas. The Idealist likes a natural, simple setting that highlights the sentimental. Joon of joonbeam exemplifies this decorating style.

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"I love to use tins, cans and pots for storage. One of my favorite storage solutions is this little hand painted Christmas tree box. I only have a few of this woman's adorable painted boxes and this is the lone tree. She was an elderly woman and I found her items at a group guild shop." The Idealist always has stories to tell about the items she uses to store things.

imageThe Adventurer, on the other hand, enjoys an eclectic mixture of styles and colors, mixing modern and traditional furniture equally. Boldly painted walls of various colors are likely to be the mark of this type of decorating style. The pottery studio of Pearl of fehustoneware illustrates this style.

You'll recognize the Leader by his or her use of stacks and rows of organized compartments. Likely Liv of thefiligreegarden has a Leader style of decorating. "Storing beads is rather easy," she says. "I use stacks of clear, plastic boxes with compartments, organized by color, and metal versus glass. Even more convenient is the rolling beader's case (like a suitcase on wheels) that I bought on clearance just before my craft shows. It has removable plastic boxes with sections for beads, and several zipped pockets that Velcro onto the inside of the front side where it zips open. I like the long, removable pocket which holds all my pliers and tools."

imageThe Guardian enjoys subtle lighting, rich wall color and antique furnishings. Kimberly of thewildhare probably has a blend of decorating styles in her space, among them the Guardian. "I have acquired, over the course of several years," she says, "a variety of 'antique' containers that I store craft items in--watercolors, paint brushes, and stamps. They are scattered about my space, but make it convenient to keep things relatively organized."

Still, no decorating style will solve issues that relate to specific crafts. Beth of BethPeardonProds, who specializes in photography, points out, "With photography storage is so important. Today everything is either stored on CDs on in your computer. Saving on CDs can be quite expeimagensive since photos are huge files and a CD will hold so many. Leaving them on the computer leaves them very vulnerable to viruses, and if your computer crashes, so do they. So I have a storage drive that I keep my photographs in. I feel pretty confident that they are safe there. I've also lost photographs on CDs that have become scratched."


image Pat of onawhimsey, who creates encaustic works of art, says, "I have to remember that many of the tools I use are hot! So, I can't just lay them down anywhere--for instance, the iron, hot stylus tool or my hot air gun. On my window sill I have a small hot plate which is stored there when not in use. On top I have a tile which works as a good insulator and safety layer for when I lay down my hot air gun (particularly the nozzle!), and I place the iron there in between the various applications."

image Pearl of fehustoneware, who needs a great deal of space to store her pottery, points out that "I have to stop throwing pots when I run out of room. It takes days for them to be dry enough to stack up, not to mention buckets of glaze." In a perfect world, floor-to-ceiling shelves on every wall, with plastic over the front of them, would solve her storage challenge. "Oh, a real studio would be awesome!" Pearl adds.



image Liv of thefiligreegarden, who designs jewelry, uses drawers, rolling carts and boxes to store beads and findings. Still, she could use more shelves and drawers to replace plastic shoe boxes and bead boxes that are stacked on wire shelving. "I have a rolling cart (about four feet tall) with drawers that contain stuff I use less often, along with surplus wire. I haven't really solved the wire dilemma; I simply keep the various gauges in Ziploc bags marked with information about each one. But there are always stray pieces here and there."

image Kimberly of thewildhare, who designs needle felted rabbits, says that fiber storage is a new challenge for her. "I find that I am getting LOTS of it as I felt and spin. The fiber generally arrives in plastic bags of some sort, and these are nice for storing in general. However, you cannot keep fiber in a sealed bag; it has to be able to breathe." Liv of thefiligreegarden agrees with Kimberly. "Soft, fibrous things don't like to be contained!" Kimberly's current solution for the fiber dilemma is a pair of large wicker baskets. "I keep the fiber for needle felting in one (along with a little box with needles and notions), and the fiber for spinning in the other. I keep the fibers in their plastics, but have opened the tops of each bag to permit air circulation."

image Pam of bagsandmorebypam says her biggest challenge is that as she buys more yarn, she has to buy more containers. "There is really no good way to organize them," she points out, "and sometimes I have to unstack eight or ten to find what I need...either something that has sold or yarn for a specific project. My guess is that I have at least as many items finished as I have listed currently in my store, that haven't even had photos taken yet. And tubs and tubs of yarn." Pam believes that if she had a room the size of a two-car garage, with floor-to-ceiling shelves along three sides--along with a ladder to reach the highest shelves--this would solve most of her storage issues. She would use the fourth wall of such a room to hang mannequins that model her apparel for photography purposes, and a table with drawers or shelving beneath it to store her crochet hooks, knitting needles, fabric, books and notebooks.

Despite the fact that Joon of joonbeam has a small bedroom in which she crafts, she has solved her challenge creatively. "I am lucky," she says, "that we have a set of stainless steel restaurant shelves. Most of my tubs and boxes, etc. are stored on it." She points out that she is adept at fitting in "an insane amount of anything in the smallest possible space." She uses all kinds of storage containers for her crafting needs. These include file boxes, a flip-top tub, and tins, trays, baskets and drinking glasses for small supplies. She uses small vintage suitcases, and even purses and tote bags for storage. "I can't say enough about Rubbermaid tubs," she adds. "I adore them because you can see into them and they keep dust, pet hair and dirt out, they stack, they clip shut, they travel well. They're reasonably priced and last forever."

Joon points out that she loves to reuse anything and everything, which is often the attitude of many artists. "Necessity," she says, "is the mother of invention." A glass shelf suspended over two bar stools gives her much needed extra shelf space, as well as floor imagestorage for her file boxes and baskets below. Even the rungs serve as storage caddies. The pen/scissor holder in the foreground is a stainless silverware caddy. The card table gives Joon extra space for small projects while solving the challenge of keeping her daily tools in close proximity.


The crafting/storage space of all the BBEST artists in this post reflects their personalities and decorating styles. While none of them would claim they have enough space, they have made the most of what they do have. Meg Mateo Ilasco, the author of Craft Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby Into a Business, points out that whether your creative space is a desk, a closet, wall, spare room, garage, basement or a corner, it needs to reflect you. Since most artists work where they store their tools and materials, that means that their storage spaces need to be inspiring ones. Their storage space should include an "inspiration space" on the wall to post ideas or photos, good lighting, and ergonomic furnishings.

For more ideas about craft storage, consult the following resources:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Celebrating Chinese New Year

January 26 ushers in the Year of the Ox as China celebrates its New Year. This coming year is 4707 in the Chinese calendar. The Ox is said to represent success through fortitude and hard work, stability, dependability, and perseverance. Some also refer to this day as the Lunar New Year because the festival begins on the first day of the lunar month in the Chinese calendar. (A curious note: New U.S. President Barack Obama was born in 1961, which was another Ox year.)


"To Dream" Pendant from Chauncey Design

Monday is just the beginning of 15 days of festivities culminating in the Lantern Festival on February 9. During the Lantern Festival, colorful, multicolored lanterns resembling butterflies, dragons, dragonflies, and other animals are displayed along with lanterns depicting historical events, legends, poetry, and even riddles. Solving these riddles has become a fun and popular activity, and sometimes lantern riddle parties are held at various temples that night. Some cities also have elaborate light displays in addition to dragon and lion dances, parades and a variety of other celebratory events. The Lantern Festival is also popularly called Chinese Valentine's Day because, historically, single women were allowed to go out in public on this date, where they might catch the eye of an eligible man. In modern times, the Lantern Festival provides an opportunity for singles to connect by playing matchmaking games with the lanterns.

Votive Lantern in Red from Nonnie's Treasures

Chinese New Year traditions are oriented toward attracting good fortune and prosperity, ensuring health, honoring ancestors, maintaining close family ties, and inviting peace to each household. Family, reuniting loved ones, and remembering familial heritage are key themes at the New Year. Travel is now at a peak in China as workers and students return home for family reunions.

Family Original Print Sandwriting from Beth Peardon Prods

As families and friends in China gather for New Years, there will be a bounty of foods served, symbolizing a hope for prosperity in the coming year, and expressing thanks for the good fortune received in the previous one. A New Year's Eve meal often consists of fish, chicken, dumplings, nuts, noodles, and sweets like tikoy, a popular sticky and sweet rice flour confection. Also on the menu at this time of year are oranges and fresh pineapple; fruits are believed to bring in good tidings.















Left: Yo Pineapple Delight from Big Island Rose Designs
Right: Mandarin Plum Soy Candle from AJ's Country Cottage

Chinese New Year is probably best known for its lively festivals and colorful parades accompanied by fireworks, and dragon and lion dances. The explosive sounds of firecrackers, meant to ward off evil spirits, can be heard, while the pungent scent of lighted joss sticks, an incense traditionally burned as a religious offering, fills the holiday air.












Left: Dragon Silk Scarf from Althea Peregrine
Right: Celestial Star Raku Incense Jar with Cork Lid from Fehu Stoneware

Red is a prominent color during the New Years festival. There are many stories about why red is considered auspicious and a color of good fortune. Some say the tradition refers back to a legend about a man-eating beast being fended off by loud noises and the color red; others say red symbolizes fire which is used to scare away evil spirits. In any case, red is used liberally at the New Year, from decorations to clothing. Gifts are given in red envelopes to bring good luck; most often these "red packets" contain money and are given by elders to younger people, such as parents to children, or married couples or grandparents to unmarried young adults. Other small gifts exchanged between friends and relatives may include fruits, cakes, biscuits, or candies.











Left: Three Hearts Card from Sixsisters
Right: Juliet Necklace from Magdalene Jewels

The coming of a new year always seems to inspire changes and new beginnings as we move from old to new. The Chinese have a similar tradition of welcoming the new and sweeping away old, bad luck by clearing out clutter and giving their homes a thorough cleaning before the first day of the new year. In the days leading up to New Years Eve, empty boxes and broken items are discarded, doors and windows are checked to make sure nothing blocks the entrance of good fortune, new clothing and shoes are purchased, altars are cleaned and given new decorations, and sometimes doors and window-frames receive a new coat of red paint. Once midnight arrives, no sweeping or cleaning occurs, and the use of knives and other sharp objects like scissors and needles is avoided so good luck won't be brushed away or the threads of good fortune severed. To further set the tone for a good upcoming year, homes and especially doorways are often decorated with "lucky" paper cut-outs and red banners (usually vertical), known as couplets, on which are written auspicious sayings and poems.

BBEST would like to wish those celebrating Chinese New Year the best of health and much happiness, peace and prosperity in the Year of the Ox.


Fabric Origami Peace Crane Ornament from Asianexpressions

Friday, January 23, 2009

Meet The Boomers!

This week I am excited to bring you a newer member of the Boomer Team, Sara, from what is WristWrapWorks and is being phased into LaughingOtterJewelry !

1. What is/are the name of  your shop/s?
My shop's name is Laughing Otter Jewelry.

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2. What kind of items do you sell?
I make bracelets, necklaces, earrings and watches from stone, glass, clay, wood and metal.

3. How long have you been engaged in your art/craft?
I have been making jewelry for about a year now.

4. Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional craftsperson?
I am a professional. I make jewelry because it is my passion. I don't make it just to pass the time.

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5. What inspires you?
The materials themselves inspire me. When I find stones or glass beads, etc that I like, I get a vision of what they should look like as a finished product and then I just make it.

6. Please share with us what a typical day is like in your workshop or studio?
I generally only have time to work on my jewelry on the weekends right now. I work when I have a vision for a piece and I generally work on it until it's finished. That can be a matter of 15 minutes or it can take a week of evenings and an entire weekend to complete.

7. What keeps you company while you’re working on a project?
There is usually any matter of things going on around me when I am working. I tend to be “in a zone” and not really paying attention to what's going on. Sometimes I enjoy music playing in the background.

8. What is your favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?
Experiencing a buyers thrill with their purchase of one of my pieces.

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9. What is your least favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?
Setting it up (the listing) for sale.That’s why I have someone else do it! LOL

10. What are some of the venues you use to promote your shop/ware?(Do you blog? (To which teams do you belong? Do you use other sites? Which ones? etc.)
Mostly word of mouth. I have sold a number of pieces to co-workers and have had repeat buyers there. The teams to which I belong are: BBEST here on Etsy and Handmade Haven on 1000 Markets. I also have a shop on Artfire.com and am now showing my work on my Facebook page!

11. Related to your craft,tell us about a funny, strange or unusual situation you found yourself in.
Thus far I haven't really had anything funny, strange or unusual happen to me. But something I do find interesting is how visions of what a piece should look like just come to me when I see or touch the materials. I use to hear artists say things like that. Such as, they could look at a canvas and know what it would be or feel a lump of clay and know what their hands would do with it. I never understood what that meant until I started making jewelry. It's an amazing feeling and I am in awe every time it happens to me.

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12. Tell us something about you that we wouldn’t necessarily know by talking with you in the forums.
I am a very, very busy person.  :)

13. What’s your favorite book and why, favorite movie and why, favorite kind of music?
Anything by Karin Kallmaker. She is an author of lesbian fiction. I enjoy her work because her characters are realistic and I can relate to them. Currently my favorite movie is Mama Mia because it is funny and makes me smile,laugh and SING! I also recently saw the movie GhostTown which made me laugh hysterically because it reminds me of my partner. My favorite kind of music is the pop and hip hop that I can dance to.

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14. Would you care to share any 'words of wisdom' with other aspiring artists or crafters?
If it's in your blood and you need to make it, then do regardless of whether you make a living at it or not. If you can make a living doing what you love then appreciate how amazingly lucky you are.

Please leave comments for our member, as she would be so happy to hear from you!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

BBEST Loves Pets

Do the names, Mister Chippy, Rusty, Noodle, Advo and Diesel sound familiar? I bet they do as those names belong to just a handful of pets belonging to our team members. Sure we talk about our families... I know Ducky has a beautiful new grandson named Gabe. And this past spring Karen's son graduated from medical school. I know Judy' son is engaged and Beth's daughter is going to have her first child this year. But I know much about the furry family members too. We send the best wishes possible when one is sick or injured and our sincerest sympathies when its time to say goodbye to a beloved pet. And thats the way it should be. We are a close team and tell each other everything, right? Okay... not everything. I'll never tell you about the years '87-91. LOL


In honor of our furry pals, let me share a few of my favorite items featuring pets, from some of our bbest members.











This is from the shop of our favorite Scottie lover, Dayna, from Scottieacres.

















This is Smokey Boy from YankeeGirl's shop















Pooch Pizzazz from BagsndmorebyPam


Go ahead say it with me.... Awwwwww!














A little Quiltlet from Artmixter











And a Border Collie window cling from
There are many more to choose from. This is just a sampling. Check for the tags, bbest dog cat, to see some more cuties.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sally Travels to Europe and Canada

I had just picked up the last toy when the doorbell rang. “Sally,” I exclaimed. “It is great to see you. Come in.”

“You look frazzled,” said Sally.

“You just missed our daughter-in-law leaving with our two grandchildren. They came Sunday afternoon and stayed until this afternoon. You know those little ones can keep you hopping! Our three-year old grandson loves climbing and jumping! Our one-year old granddaughter loves climbing up the stairs, and we have two sets. Of course, she can’t climb down yet, so there was Mamaw following behind her as she went up the stairs, then picking her up to go back down so she could do it all over again! Needless to say, I have had my exercise in the past 24 hours! Papaw was the chief cook while they were here.....bless his heart. But, they are so sweet, and we love getting to bond with them. We feel so lucky to have two here in town, and although the other one lives in Florida, she has Southwest Airlines flying privileges.....so we get to see her a lot, too!”

“That sure sounds like fun,” exclaimed Sally. “But, I bet you could go for some chocolate about now, and I have just the thing for us...........a chocolate meringue pie.”

“Oh, yum,” I sighed. And off we went to the kitchen.

Sitting at the table, letting the delicious, cool flavor of that pie melt in our mouths, Sally said, “Do you remember last time I was here you were telling me about all the places where the people live who are part of your Boomers and Beyond Team. I don’t think you got to everyone.”

"You're right,” I answered. “But, since you were here last, I did a little checking on all those shops. There are quite a few in Europe, some in Canada, and lots and lots here in the United States. I want to show you all of them, but we sure can’t see their beautiful offerings all in the same day. So, bring your pie and chair over to the computer, and let’s just start today with some of our Bbest teams across the pond and those in Canada. You’ve always wanted to travel. Today’s your lucky day, even if it is just via the computer! Here we go!”

Creations by Eve - Greece - Pom Pom Scarf - http://www.creationsbyeve.etsy.com/

















Aysetugrul - Turkey - Safari Necklace - http://www.aysetugrul.etsy.com/

























Gunnelsvensson- Sweden - Embroidered Mini Quilt - http://www.gunnelsvensson.etsy.com/






















Annas Jewels - Montreal - Thai Heart Necklace - http://www.annasjewels.etsy.com/


















Ficklefaerie - Ontario - Mini Reusable Produce Bag - http://www.ficklefaerie.etsy.com/























DbHoyle Arts - British Columbia - Notecards - http://www.dbhoylearts.etsy.com/


















“My goodness,” said Sally. “Those are wonderful, fantastic items by such talented artists, and such a nice variety of offerings. I just can’t wait until next time I visit so we can check out those United Kingdom and U.S. shops. What are we doing next?" she asked.

“I think we will take another European trip and check out those artists who live and work in the United Kingdom," I responded.

“Oh, what fun!” Sally exclaimed. “I can't wait to see what is in store....."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Meet The Boomers!

1. What is/are the name of your shop/s?

I have two shops. TheCreatorsPalette is my original shop where I sell my artwork. TCPJewelry is a newer shop where I sell Medical Alert ID bracelets, along with other fun earrings, regular bracelets and necklaces.

2. What kind of items do you sell?

My artwork is mostly watercolor and I sell sizes from small ACEO’s up to larger 12x16 and an occasional 16x20. I also sell watercolor painted on canvas – ready to hang. Some of my artwork is matted and framed, but most is not.

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In TCPJewelry, I make affordable Medical Alert ID bracelets. I sell them cheap because I want them to be a service to others. I have also begun to make earrings, which I enjoy a lot. I also have some regular bracelets and necklaces. My signature on many of my jewelry pieces are metal swirls – either wrapped or attached as a dangle.

3. How long have you been engaged in your art/craft?

I’ve been painting for a little over 4 years now. Jewelry and beading is about 2 years old. The past two years, I was nominated and won several Artist Choice Awards! I have yet to enter juried art shows, but that is coming very soon!!!

4. Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional craftsperson?

My art is definitely NOT a hobby – as it pours out of my soul. Since I have sold quite a few large sized pieces, I guess I can call myself a professional artist.

5. What inspires you?

There are people who inspire me – mostly through their writing: Larry Crabb and his book “Shattered Dreams”, Joni Earikson Tada and her beautiful paintings that she’s learned to do with her teeth, Laura Hildebrand and her story of writing “Seabisuit” in the midst of dealing with ME/CFS… but mostly when my days get tough, and they often do, I am most inspired by my HOPE. Hope that God loves me know matter what I do or don’t accomplish today, Hope that God loves me no matter what I look like or how I feel. Hope that nothing in this world can take away my two main purposes in life – to Love God with all my heart and to Love others. Hope that one day, I will be free of health issues and the real me will live in my real body! That’s what keeps me going when life throws rocks at me!

For my paintings, in particular, I am most inspired by the outdoors. I have always loved to be outdoors, and I love to paint landscapes, gardens, and flowers.

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6. Please share with us what a typical day is like in your workshop or studio?

Well, first of all, I don’t have a studio. I have a recliner with a bookshelf on one side, and on the other side is a cabinet with lots of drawers and lift up side tables that hold all my art supplies. I also have a round table to set my current projects on and a tiny side table for my laptop. All are within reaching distance from my recliner!

Once I’ve got enough fluids in me to stand up, I move out to the living room, into my recliner. If there isn’t anything else pressing – I pull out my current project and begin working on it. If I don’t have anything in progress, I look through all my painting ideas on my computer (I keep a list) and I look for something that reaches in and touches my heart and soul. This is what I’ll begin working on. If that doesn’t work, I take my 9x12 painting block and use my pencil to divide it up into ACEO’s and just start painting. Sometimes I toss them, but usually, once I get going on ACEO’s I find that I can paint a whole page of them! Other times, the beads just call to me and I grab my tray of beading supplies and sit in my recliner with music playing and create jewelry.

7. What keeps you company while you’re working on a project?

First and foremost – is our little lapdog. He’s a MaltaPoo and his name is Taran. He’s my son’s dog, but he’s my lapdog! He can’t wait for me to get out to the living room so he can sit at my feet on the recliner. The only problem I have with that is when he decides it’s time for a bath or gets an itch right when I’m doing some very detailed aspect of a painting!

I also LOVE music!!!! It depends on what mood I’m in. But I’m almost always accompanied by music!

And nothing is more comforting to me than a perfectly made cup of tea!!!

8. What is your favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?

I love planning my paintings, and I love the putting on the final touches. I also enjoy helping people choose a Medical Alert bracelet – especially when it’s their first one.

9. What is your least favorite 'task' related to your art/craft?

The middle-time of paintings is SO frustrating. They look horrible and I find myself so intense and focused that it kills me to have to set a painting down when it’s half done. I’ve finally learned not to panic, because every painting goes through a stage where it looks like crap – but I know that the final touches will make all the difference!

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10. What are some of the venues you use to promote your shop/ware?(Do you blog?

I used to sell a lot on eBay – but that is over for me. I sell most of my art on Etsy, and second most on ArtByUs (though you can’t tell by my rating because, though people come to buy quality art, they don’t always stick around long enough to leave the feedback). I have two blogs – an art related blog http://thecreatorspalette.blogspot.com and a personal blog (though I share art a lot there too) http://melanie-journey.blogspot.com. I also put my art on http://artwanted.com and http://DesignStyleGuide.com . I have a CafĂ© Press store http://cafepress.com/melaniepruitt and I sell prints on http://imagekind.com

11. To which teams do you belong? Do you use other sites? Which ones? etc.?

BBEST is my favorite Etsy team. But I also really enjoy CaaT (Complimentary Art and Things) which is about to become a team and is a group from eBay that is moving to Etsy. I also belong to ACETSY team for ACEO’s, VAST for Visual Arts, and WWET – an Etsy juried watercolor team. InteriorDesignTeam is the most intense and focused team I belong to and I blog for them once a month as well as have items on their website. This team is focused on reaching the Interior Designers who search for items online.

11. Related to your craft, tell us about a funny, strange or unusual situation you found yourself in.

I had painted two blue Iris – lying on their sides and I had it up for auction on ArtByUs, all matted and framed. It was just after the Virgina Tech shootings and I received a bid. When the buyer contacted me, she told me a story that made me cry.

She belonged to a sorority and their emblem was a blue Iris. Her sister sorority at V-Tech had a member killed in the shootings. Her sorority wanted to send a special gift to their sister sorority as a way of sending their love and support. So they chose my painting. They added a plaque to the frame that honored the lost sister. It still moves me that one of my paintings is hanging at V-Tech as a loving tribute to one of the victims.

12. Tell us something about you that we wouldn’t necessarily know by talking with you in the forums.

Wow… there are a lot of things!!! Like – I shook hands with Muhamad Ali when I was in 3rd grade… I’ve flown an airplane… I love roller coasters…. I live in a tiny house (under 1200 sq ft)…I had 5 eye operations before the age of 9…

But I suppose the most surprising thing I’ve never told any of my BBEST friends yet, is that I am a Pastors Wife. It comes with so many assumptions and preconceived notions that I’ve kind of avoided telling it! I’m happy to share that I’m a Christian, but I don’t often tell people I’m also a Pastor’s Wife.

It’s not that I’m not proud if it – I just want people to know me for me! If you had dinner with us in our home, you’d be very surprised. My husband is not solemn – he’s the funniest guy I know! We don’t “talk” Bible all the time, we live it! (Or we try to anyway – but neither of us is perfect). We just love life and love people and if you spent time with us, I think we’d break all those molds that many people would try to fit us into!

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13. What’s your favorite book and why, favorite movie and why, favorite kind of music?

This is WAY too hard of a question for me. I am a book-aholic, I watch a ton of movies when I’m not well enough, and I love music. Let me try to sum them up:

Books: I love “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens, and I love many of Jane Austen’s novels. I also love George MacDonald novels because they combine challenging ideas with a novel about the old times in Scotland. My favorite Christian non-fiction author is Larry Crabb – and my own Aunt has written many books that I love. I have listened to all the “Murder She Wrote” novels from the library and I love the Artemis Fowl series!!

Movies: I love non-fiction, like national geographic, Nova and travel videos. I also love classics with Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart etc. Much Ado About Nothing is one of my favorites along with Seabiscuit, Hildalgo, Second Hand Lions, Fried Green Tomatoes, Anne of Green Gables, The Hunt for Red October and Amadeus (and many more I’ve left out.) I also love the early seasons of The Waltons, Mr. Bean, and The Office. Oh… and my husband and I always watch a MASH before bed LOL!

Music: It really depends on my mood. I love instrumental, like Jim Brickman, Michael Allen Harrison, and many of the Solitdes CD’s (music and nature). But I also have moods that need music like Jack Johnson, James Taylor or Enya! A new favorite I’ve just discovered is Marc Enfroy – look up his website. He calls his music “Cinematic Piano” and it’s very moving music – perfect for painting!!!

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14. Would you care to share any 'words of wisdom' with other aspiring artists or crafters?

Let your work come from your heart. I find the best art I create does not come from thinking about what a buyer might buy, but it comes from what is in my heart. Art should make a person “feel”. It doesn’t have to be a “good” feeling; one of my favorite paintings makes me cry. But it should reach in deep and touch the heart of the viewer. My hope is that one day – every painting I create will do that for at least one person who views my painting!

Please leave a comment for our friend Melanie! She would love to hear from you !

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Earth Day Every Day

The concept of sustainability, as the Environmental Protection Agency defines it, is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” It’s not a new idea, but it's an idea that goes beyond the annual field trip my junior high school class made to the creek on Earth Day to clean up discarded paper, broken bottles and old rubber tires. Although I can remember feeling smug that our generation had the foresight to think about the environment back in 1970 when the first Earth Day was celebrated, there was so much more to do! Seventeen years later, in 1987, the seeds for sustainability were sown when a report called “Our Common Future” was published by the World Commission on Environment and Development.

In concrete terms, sustainable development takes place when economic progress and environmental protection hold hands and march forward together into the future. It happens when items that would otherwise be discarded are upcycled, or converted into new uses. It occurs when reusable products take the place of one-use-only products. It also happens when an article of clothing that is outgrown is passed on to another person, or recycled.

Members of the BBEST team exercise their sustainable development muscles in various inventive and interesting ways. June of Fickle Faerie, for example, sews reusable produce bags that allow fruits and vegetables to breathe, but are also good for the environment because they take the place of plastic bags.

"Reusable Produce Bags," by ficklefaerie











Joon of joonbeam upcycles bits of old magazines and books that would otherwise end up in the local landfill by converting them into inventive pinbacks.

"Scottish LoVe - Too Sweet Pinbacks," by joonbeam












Ann of Greenwillow Crafts sews reusable gift bags that are both a visual and tactile delight.

"Gift Bag / Reusable Pouch," by greenwillow












Alysa of Alysa Merle Handcrafts makes plarn bags by cutting strips from plastic bags, and crocheting them like yarn into reusable bags.

"The Best Plarn Gym or Beach Bag You Will Ever Have," by AlysaMerle














Kym of PaperParaphernalia has fashioned origami business card holders from glossy magazine pages.


"Origami Recycled Business Holders," by PaperParaphernalia













Finally, Jeanne of Button Divas reminds us to “Go Green” with her photo button pendant necklace.

"Save Our Planet 1 Inch Photo Button Pendant Necklace," by ButtonDivas













With each of these eco friendly products, today’s Boomers remind us that the idealistic children of yesterday’s Earth Day are still working every day to create tomorrow’s sustainable future.