Friday, February 27, 2009

Meet the Boomers: Pam

Q. What is the name of your shop, and what kinds of items do you sell?  My shop is called Bags and More by Pam.  I sell hand-crocheted items for people, pets, and homes, including but not limited to hats, scarves, sweaters, ponchos, rugs, handbags, tote bags, baby items, pet sweaters, and spa sets.

Q. How long have you been engaged in your art/craft?  I have been actively fulfilling my passion for crocheting for the past eight years.

Q. Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional craftsperson?  I would consider myself a professional craftsperson as I am creating and selling my products via several venues.

Q. What inspires you?  Yarn!  I love yarn!  The way it looks and feels.  I also tend to be practical, and items that are both beautiful and useful make me want to create more.

Q. What's a typical day like in your studio?  My husband would laugh at this question. He says my “studio” is all over the house!  Actually, my main work is done in the evenings while my husband and I watch TV.  He says I treat the TV as a radio and mainly listen!  Not so!  I do look up from my crocheting all the time, especially if I am making something familiar and can continue crocheting by feel.  We may be watching TV in our living room or in our family room.  Those are my crochet “studios.”

Q. What keeps you company while you’re working on a project?  My husband, our two dogs, Daisy and Eddie, and the TV.

Q. What is your favorite task related to your art/craft?  Looking at it when it is finished, although I’ve been heard to say, “Oh, isn’t this going to be so cute?” way before the item is completed.  And having someone purchase one of my creations ranks way up there, too!

Q. What is your least favorite task related to your art/craft?  Weaving in the loose ends is not a favorite task.

Q. What are some of the venues you use to promote your shop?  Do you blog?  Use other sites?  Which teams do you belong to?  My teams on Etsy are the Boomers and Beyond (Bbest) team, Etsyhookers Team, and INCrowdteam. In addition to my Etsy site, I have stores on Artfire and 1000Markets.  My blogging includes contributing to the Bbest team blog once a month, posting to my own blog, and creating the featured artist section of the Crafting4Animals blog.  I’ve recently signed up for Twitter and Facebook.

Q. Related to your craft, tell us about a funny, strange or unusual situation you found yourself in.  One Friday I was checking my Etsy store, and there was a sale. When I looked to see what had sold, it was the gray men’s cable design sweater. A customer from the Netherlands had purchased it. There was just one problem. I had sold that sweater locally and hadn’t made another yet. So, Friday evening I had to go get the yarn. Between Saturday and Sunday and Monday morning, I crocheted for 30 hours to complete that sweater so I could meet my own self-imposed “I will ship within two days” deadline! That was one of those lesson-learning life experiences. Needless to say, the sweater is not in my shop right now since it isn’t made again yet. That was what I would consider just a bit stressful!

Q. Tell us something about you that we wouldn’t necessarily know about you by talking to you in the forums.  I have lived in the town where I was born my whole life except for 14 months when I joined my husband in Colorado Springs while he was stationed at Ft. Carson.  I taught one year in Security, Colorado during that time. When he was discharged, we returned to Bloomington.  We have lived in our current house for 36 years, and the one before that for 5 years. It is safe to say we don’t like to move!

Q. Tell us about your favorite books, movies and music.  Oh, my. I like so many books that I will have to give you authors instead: David Baldacchi, James Patterson, Robert Ludlum, Iris Johannsen, Nora Roberts, Tony Hillerman, and Mary Higgins Clark, to name a few. They all have mystery and intrigue; I especially enjoy the ones about government and international conspiracy.

I also have a list of favorite movies: Air Force One, Sleepless in Seattle, Enemy of the State, Conspiracy Theory, Shawshank Redemption, An Affair to Remember, Three Days of the Condor, and all the Bourne movies. My book and movie tastes run in the same vein . . . mystery, romance, international intrigue.  Sleepless in Seattle is just downright cute and sweet!

Beethoven As for music, when I’m in the car, I listen to the local country station or a relaxation CD like the ones with the nature sounds, especially the ocean. I also like pop rock, easy listening, the music from the '50s and '60s. I guess you could say I like it all except I’m not really into rap or hard rock.  Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is my classical favorite.

Q. Would you care to share any words of wisdom with other aspiring artists or crafters?  Do what you love and love what you do, continue to learn more about your craft, and have patience while others learn about you.

Please be sure to leave a comment for Pam.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Creativity and your design environment

Famous writers, musicians and visual artists are often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” A writer might eavesdrop on real conversations and use them as a springboard to a story. Musicians might listen to other artists, such as when the Beatles learned how to play rock ‘n’ roll by playing American records. Van Gogh copied other artists to learn their techniques, and to build upon them. In a word, artists react, reflect and build upon what they see, hear and experience. This process—reacting, reflecting and building—is the result of the artist interacting with his or her “design environment.” Sometimes that design environment is deliberate and external, and other times it is internal and subconscious. Either way, individuals dig deeply into their design environment to pull out inspiration and run with it.

Gunnel of gunnelsvensson, who designs art quilts utilizing fabric collage, embroidery, and mixed media, has created a design environment that is a blend of her reactions to her physical environment and her love of the outdoors. In her studio, she surrounds herself with old buttons, old envelopes and old photos, as well as flea market finds. But on a subsconcious level, she is inspired by nature and by the sea. All of these elements combine to create a romantic, nostalgic feel to her creations.

Eddy of girleddycreations, who focuses on handmade jewelry and folk art creations, points out that her creativity comes from inside her. “The physical environment isn’t that important to me,” she says, “as far as creativity goes. It can have a big effect on how easy things go. How convenient things are to use helps a lot in starting and/or finishing something.” Still, she admits that sound—listening to music or the television—is part of her design environment. Without music and nature, Eddy says her “creativity would dry up.” When all is well with her world, she recognizes that this allows her to be receptive to the creative spark inside her.

“My creativity comes from inside,” she emphasizes. “If I’m a happy camper without a lot of worries at the time, well, then I just can’t help but be creative. It just flows, for lack of a better word. I’ll see something, maybe at a thrift shop or unearthed from a forgotten box in a closet, and an idea for it just comes to me. I get a lot of my creativity from the items at hand. I don’t usually start a piece of jewelry with a plan. I’ll start with a certain bead and build on it . . . whatever ‘goes’ with it, complements it or makes it whole. I never know when it’s going to be finished until it just looks done.”

For Kym of kimbuktu, whose textile shop features beautiful quilted bags and accessories, the design environment that contributes best to her creativity depends on whether she is sewing or paper crafting. “Though I have a craft room all set up with tables, bookcases, storage bins, etc., for sewing I drag my machine out to the dining room so I can be with my husband, or whoever else is there.”

In contrast, when Kym paper crafts for her PaperParaphernalia shop, working alone is essential. “For scrapbooking,” she says, “my supplies and quiet are enough. Noise is not necessary. In fact, unless something I am interested in is on TV, I won’t have it on. And I mute it during commercials.”

Twenty Recycled Origami Page Corners,

Quiet, neutral colors, bright light, comfort—and a blend of indoor and outdoor spaces—define the design environment of artmixter artist Marion, who explores mixed media pieces, art quilts and mini artworks in her artmixter shop.

“My creative environment is my home,” she says, “as I have studio space in the garden, as well as in the house itself. I live in a tiny village in the countryside, where it is very quiet; people only come here if they have business here, or live here. I have created my environment so that it is calm, tranquil space, bright and welcoming. There are white or cream walls, comfortable seating and,” she adds, “lots of ‘eye candy’—things that are interesting because of their colour, texture, shape or design. And there’s always a friendly cat around to be stroked if I’m having a less than creative day. All of that feeds my creativity.”

Eileen of Chauncey, who specializes in fused glass design, knows that in order for her to be creative, she has to surround herself with sights and sounds that gladden her spirit. “I try to keep many things in my space that make me smile or make me happy,” she says. “I feel that I am only even remotely creative when I am cheery.” Eileen describes a print drawing on her wall that makes her chuckle. “One is the ‘The Catnip Café,' a bunch of cats at a diner . . . I have photos that I have taken and framed.” When it's time to ponder, she has a chair that used to belong to her mother that is her “think chair." Eileen adds, “While music isn't a design element, I find if I'm starting to lose the creative steam, some music improves my space.”

When you take a pinch of nature, mix it in with Native American history and swirl it around with generational regalia, you get the design environment for Joni of jstinson. “As a Native American,” Joni says, “most of my creative design is inspired by nature. I use the environmental elements of nature . . . silver, copper, a vast array of gem stones, quilts, feathers, and bone. My designs are meant to honor the traditional work of our people but with a more contemporary flair.”

Joni mentions that as she travels from Pow Wow to Pow Wow, her design environment is colorful, to say the least. She is inspired by the regalia handed down from generation to generation, and by the new pieces that will become treasured by future generations.

“My ‘design environment’ comes when an inner voice speaks to me,” Joni adds, “and tells me how to capture a small piece of nature, use it in a traditional way, and give it a contemporary attitude. Without Mother Earth and Father Sky, I would have no creative environment.”

For Liv of thefiligreegarden, who designs unique, romantic jewelry and accessories, design environment is a state of mind that flows in and between the physical spaces in which she works. “My creativity waxes and wanes, depending more on mood and my mental environment than on the specifications of a physical space. In fact, I tend to flow out of a confined design space with spinning wheel and knitting in the family room, beads and sewing equipment upstairs in a spare bedroom, and the loom and some books in our master bedroom.”

Part of Liv’s design environment, however, does involve the physical layout of her sewing space. She likes to be able to access materials easily in her sewing space, and she appreciates having lots of work space and light.

“I also like a dedicated space where I can leave things out when projects are in process. I would be frustrated if I had to put things away neatly at the end of every day,” Liv points out.

In a perfect world, Liv would love for her design space to be more visually inspiring (“pretty”). She says the fact that it is more pragmatic and functional than decorative is probably because the space contains furnishings that have no other place. “So, the room has an odds and ends look rather than a coordinated designed appearance,” she says. Liv does have two “inspiration boards” on which she thumb tacks pictures of things she likes, projects she would like to do, or colors that appeal to her.

A number of BBEST members mention color as an aspect of their design environment. It is interesting to note that recently two researchers from the University of British Columbia explored the effect of color on cognitive task performance. Their study suggests that the color red enhances attention to detail, while the color blue is more conducive to creative tasks. Whether artists define their design environment in terms of color, light, mood, physical design space, music, cultural influences or anything else, one thing is certain. Being self-aware of the design environment that contributes to our inspiration can only enhance the possibility that a creative work of art will ultimately be produced. React, reflect, build. Perhaps American author Jack London, who wrote White Fang and The Call of the Wild, says it best when he reminds us, “You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

© 2009 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Wings of Spring

One of the tell-tale signs of spring's approach is the reappearance of numerous bird species that have returned from their winter homes. Perhaps you have noticed an increase in bird song filling the air, or you've seen large groups of birds congregating in trees, on lawns, and near feeders. Some species are arriving after months away, and some are preparing for a northward journey to their summer nesting spots. Whatever their direction, most birds are now preparing for the process of finding mates and building nests where they will raise their young.

Birds migrate primarily to find food sources when summer climates turn cold and insects and plants go into dormancy. Many North American migrants head to Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central and South America. However, some birds, such as the Dark-eyed Junco and the Common Redpoll, who breed in Canada, overwinter in North America. Not all birds travel during the winter months. Some stay in one geographic area all year. Examples of non-migrating permanent residents are Blue Jays, American Crows, Black-capped Chickadees, and Northern Cardinals. A few birds whose sightings are commonly considered to be hallmarks of spring are actually both winter residents and migrants depending on habitat range and breeding age. The Eastern Bluebird and the American Robin may still be seen in the deep of winter as not all members of these species migrate to warmer climates.

Acrylic Painting: A Murder of Crows by Heron Kate

Watercolor ACEO of Common Redpoll by Sixsisters

The distance that birds migrate depends largely on the species. The Arctic Tern is the well-known marathoner traveling over 20,000 miles to its winter home in Antarctica. Most songbirds will journey much shorter distances. Most soaring birds such as hawks will travel during the day to take advantage of thermal uplift. Insectivores such as swallows also travel during daylight hours to feed on insects that are active during the day. Songbirds often travel at night; this allows them to stop and forage for food during the day when they are in unfamiliar territory and to avoid nocturnal predators. Different bird species make their migration flights at different altitudes. Avian flight speeds during migration range from 20-50 miles per hour, sometimes faster with tailwinds. Birds use three main navigation methods during their travels: the sun as compass, evening star patterns, and tiny grains of a mineral called magnetite just above their nostrils which allow them to use the Earth's magnetic field to locate true north.

Fused glass pendant Soar by Chauncey Design

Hummingbirds arrive in their summer breeding grounds between February and May. Prior to their long, arduous journey these tiny birds must "bulk up" and gain 25-40% of their body weight by eating a large amount of insects and nectar. Though many hummingbirds travel the same path each year it is said they travel alone and not in groups. They also fly at lower altitudes than some other birds - as low as treetop level. Hummingbirds generally fly during the day and rest at night except when crossing great stretches of ocean when they may go as much as 450 miles over open water before finding a resting spot. Migration for the "hummers" can last from one to four weeks.

Mixed media painting Hummingbird by Mystic Silks

As birds arrive in the spring, they will first look for food sources to replenish energy spent during migration, but a close second urgent task for males is to stake out a territory and try to attract a mate. Research is finding that birds fly faster when returning to nesting areas than when traveling to wintering zones because the need to reach and claim a breeding territory is so important. Generally the males arrive first, then females follow. When females arrive, they select the most suitable and hardy males for breeding. Since the optimal nesting time is short, the pair will make haste in building a nest and incubating eggs. Some birds may breed more than once in a season thus increasing their chances of having successful offspring. Bird song is most prevalent in the spring because impressive vocal repertoires are part of a male's arsenal for attracting a female. Other courting behaviors include visual displays such as "dances" and colorful feather arrays, and building elaborate nests. The males birds of some species, such as the Northern Cardinal and the Snowy Owl, offer food to females as enticements to choose them as mates.

Partners Brooch from Streetnoodles

13th Stamp Series ACEO Original Print Birds of a Feather by Beth Peardon

To bring the birds a little closer within view and help them stay nourished and healthy during breeding season, try setting out bird feeders with a good variety of quality seed and nuts, suet blocks for fat and protein, and fresh water in bird baths. Make sure to keep your feeders and water supplies clean to prevent spreading disease; periodic washing with a 10% bleach solution will suffice. Hummingbirds are attracted to red-colored feeders filled with a sugar water solution, but this must be kept fresh at all times as this mixture can go rancid very quickly. An even better and more easily maintained solution to providing food for hummingbirds is to plant a hummingbird garden filled with native flowers, such as Beebalm or Trumpet Honeysuckle, that draw in these delicate visitors. For a list of "Top Ten" plants for hummingbirds visit

Wheel-thrown Birdhouse/Feeder from Fehu Stoneware

As the spring progresses it is fun and interesting to watch the birds in our yards and parks going through courtship, nesting and parenting their young. After awhile you will start to notice family groups of birds visiting your garden, often returning year after year. Parents will bring their offspring to your feeders, or will make homes in nesting boxes that you might put up in your yard. A good way to keep track of the avian comings and goings in the environment around you is to maintain notes in a journal, either in print or online at such places as Having a good pair of binoculars and a field guide handy will greatly aid your birdwatching and identification. Whatever birding method you choose, or even if you decide just to casually watch the birds from afar, you are sure to enjoy the beauty and harmony of spring that arrives on the wings of our feathered friends.

Bird Resources:

Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds

Audubon Birding Basics

Audubon Bird Feeding Basics

Native Plants for Birds and Wildlife

Bird Migration Facts

Operation Ruby Throat: The Hummingbird Project

Bird Migration (Wild Birds Unlimited)

Journey North

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's Jean Hood!

This week's Meet the Boomers article is on someone whose name we've all seen on the forums and all over the internet.  Now's the chance to learn even more about Jean Levert Hood and her beautiful work!

Q. What is/are the name of your shop?  On Etsy, I am JeanHood.

Q. What kind of items do you sell?  I sell small watercolors mostly, but I generally have several of my oil paintings listed too.

Q. How long have you been engaged in your art?  I started painting in 1997, so I’m into my 13th year!

Q. Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional craftsperson?  I consider myself a professional painter.

Q. What inspires you?  Nature, colors, shapes, light, shadow. If I had to pick one, it would be “Nature,” which I guess would encompass them all!

Q. Please share with us what a typical day is like in your workshop or studio.  I try to have my studio time defined before I get in there. When I leave the studio the prior day, I like to have my paints ready, brushes ready, canvas and reference materials picked out for my next session. That way when I walk in, I’m ready to get to work. When I walk in the door, the first thing I do is put on the music!

Q. What keeps you company while you’re working on a project?  Music. Loud music and occasionally my cats Stella and Clothilde. Stella really enjoys painting with me.

Q. What is your favorite task related to your art/craft?  I love squeezing out fresh paint onto my palette! It’s so beautiful I can’t wait to dive in!

Q. What is your least favorite task related to your art/craft?  Hmmm. Keeping the studio organized, I guess. I need a certain level of organization and I can get past that rea-l-l-l-ly quick!

Q. What are some of the venues you use to promote your shop/ware?  Do you blog?  To which teams do you belong?  Which other sites do you use?  I do blog, and I have my own website. I have several other internet sites as well:

  • Design Style Guide  has a portfolio of my work.
  • My blog is where I share new paintings and my beautiful area of Texas.
  • My website features mainly my oil paintings
  • At Trunkt  I have a large portfolio of both sold and available items.
  • I belong to VAST – Visual Artists Street Team, a fantastic team, and to Design Style Guide as well.
  • When I blog for Design Style Guide and my own blog, I enjoy featuring my team members from BBEST. When I see BBESTers in Trunkt, I include them in my showcases (so let me know if you are there!).

Q. Related to your craft, tell us about a funny, strange or unusual situation you found yourself.  I guess the most adventuresome painting I have done is on trips to Taos, New Mexico. I went there with a friend for several years and we’d paint on locations all over the area.
     We were trying to set up to get a great view of the Rio Grande Gorge, and I had my tripod legs in positions I never knew they could be in. Rocks kept everything steady, and the challenge was to keep one of my feet braced against a tree stump so I didn’t go falling down with all of the painting equipment! We really were on quite a slant! It was a wonderful day. My friend’s entire set up overturned with a wind gust. There were little tiny bugs that were entirely annoying and bit in spite of repellant, it was dusty and hot. I love painting out!

Q. Tell us something about you that we wouldn’t necessarily know about you by talking to you in the forums.  I’m from South Louisiana and can cook a mean gumbo.

Q. What’s your favorite book and why, favorite movie and why, favorite kind of music?  I’ve been a reader all my life, and simply cannot pick a favorite!! I don’t see too many movies.  Music — I’m all over the place there. I have five CD slots in my player in the studio, and it isn’t unusual for me to have classical, rock, late '60s, opera, etc., all at the same time.  The only requirement is that the volume is up.

Q. Would you care to share any words of wisdom with other aspiring artists or crafters?  Find your passion and keep at it!

Now that you know her a little better, please leave a comment for Jean.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I am all for keeping things simple but at the same time making things work easier or better.  An American airline has as its logo, Don’t work harder, work smarter!  Now that makes sense especially in this day and age of modern technology.  After all, far better to make the tools work for you rather than you become a slave to the tools!

You may have noticed the title of this post?  Greasemonkey – what a lovely image that conjures up for the reader!  Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that allows you to customize the way webpages look and function.  If you are not familiar with Firefox you will note it is a very good alternative to Internet Explorer in that it is faster and more secure. 

Now, comes the really fun part about which I would like to tell you more!  That is, if you don’t already know about Etsyhacks or need to know a little more before taking the final step.

Actually, Etsyhacks is an especially clever program add on that was thought of by a tech savvy husband of another Etsy seller.  Whilst Etsy is fairly user friendly there are always ways to improve or make the whole selling/buying process more fluid.

For example, one of the latest downloads offered goes like this.  You know when you are listing an item and come to the page on which to input your tags?  You have to type one tag at a time, click Add, before you can move on to the next tag.  Well with this hack it will add a box to the tagging screen of the create and edit listing pages in which you can enter all your tags, and then press a button to add them all at once. Here below is the sequence of events when you install this hack.

  • Install Firefox and Greasemonkey if you haven't already got them. You'll need to restart Firefox after installing Greasemonkey.
  • Once Greasemonkey is installed and running, click on the orange "install" button above on the Etsyhack page).
  • The "fast tagger" script will be downloaded, and Greasemonkey will ask if you want to install it. Assuming ‘you trust me’, click "Install".
  • Create a new listing and go to the tags page, or edit the tags of an existing listing.
  • Enter tags in the box, separated by commas, then click "add tags" to add the tags to the listing, or "replace tags" to remove any existing tags and replace them with your current ones. You can click "delete tags" to remove any existing tags.

See the example on the download page for clarification.

Another example is a hack that adds a 'reply' link next to each message in the main convo listing screen. Clicking the link takes you to the message with the reply box open, and the cursor set in the text box ready to type your reply.

Useful if you've already read the message (in an email, for example) and just want to reply without the extra clicks.

It also hides the "reply" button when you're replying to a convo, so you don't try to click on it instead of the "send" button.  How many times have I done that?

Simple?  It makes life easier and smoother!

You can sign up to regular news about new hacks all of which create a new exciting extension to your Etsy experience!  However, it would be remiss of me if I did not pass on this message:

“Disclaimer notice - This site (Etsyhack, is not affiliated with, or endorsed by, Etsy. Anything provided on these pages is done so free of charge, and with no warranty. Use at your own risk.”

Before I go, check out some of these products by some very talented members of the BBEST team.  Well, you have been such a good and attentive audience you deserved a treat!


Beautiful Modern Czech Glass Cat Button

by ButtonHole



Stoneware Blue Mug Teacup

by Fehustoneware



Scallops and Fans Scarflette in Cream

by Jnoriginals




Amber and Sterling Necklace

by Annas Jewelry

Loads more where they came from!  Just put BBEST Team in your search tag and see what treasures appear!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

All in a Day's Work.....

"Sally," I exclaimed as I opened the door. "Get in here fast. You will never believe what happened to my Mom and me!"

"Oh, migosh," replied Sally, "from that look on your face, it must have been really something!"

"Yes," I answered, " And when all I thought we were going to do today was look at all the fantastic shops of the Boomers and Beyond who are located in the United Kingdom!"

"Well," said Sally, "I hope we are still going to do that because I have really been looking forward to seeing what all those folks across the pond create!"

"Let's sit down by the computer," I sighed, "and we will do both! Let's just get our chocolate milkshakes from the blender on the way."

We took our milkshakes, sat down, and then Sally said, "So, what happened with you and your Mom?"

"Well," I said,"You know that I work for my Mom a couple of days a week. She lives about 45 miles away from us, and the office is about 30 more minutes from her house. It started out as an ordinary day. We went to the office to work for half a day. Then, we had some other business to conduct," I continued. "Oh, but first, take a look at this gorgeous pleated bag from Libertybelle.

Liberty Belle
Essex, UK
Pleated Bag

"That is beautiful," exclaimed Sally. "I love the fabric design and colors," she said. "But, go on. What happened after you left the office?"

"Well," I went on. "We had to go to a credit union to open up an account for one of the affiliates. So, we drove there, parked, and went in. Oh, look at this wonderful felted bag from Make Your Presents Felt!"

Make Your Presents Felt
North Bedfordshire, UK
Felted Bag

"Oh, I love the dark brown with the bright orange handles," said Sally. "So, you went to the credit union. Then what?" she asked.

"Well, " said, "We sat down in some chairs across from the teller windows. It was a relatively small place, with the tellers' windows on one side, a table in the center where people could fill out their deposit/withdrawal slips, about four chairs along the opposite wall, a glass enclosed office in the corner with a desk in front of that office. But, wait a minute! Just look at this beautiful, colorful journal made by Artmixter!" I continued.

East Dereham, UK
Inspirations Journal

"That is fabulous," replied Sally. "It is so bright, colorful, cheerful, and warm! But, go on, tell me more about the credit union," said Sally.

"Well, we sat down and waited because there was a young man and woman and their little boy, probably about 18 months old, being helped by the assistant manager when we arrived. They were the only other customers in the credit union, along with three tellers, the assistant manager, and the manager besides my Mom and me," I said. "Oh, look at this awesome silk scarf made by Liz Plummer," I continued.

Liz Plummer
Newport, South Wales, UK
Rich Red/Brown Silk Scarf

"That would look so beautiful with my brown skirt and jacket," Sally replied. "I really like those colors!" she said. "But, you were saying about the credit union?" she asked.

"Well, " I continued, "I was watching the little boy play around while his parents were conducting their business. All of a sudden, I looked up and saw two men walking in front of the tellers' windows, and they stopped just across from where we were sitting," I said. "Have you ever seen a wax painting?" I asked Sally. "I just love this pastel pansies encaustic painting by On A Whimsey," I said.

On a Whimsey
West Sussex, UK
Pastel Pansies Encaustic

"I have to agree with you," said Sally. "The pastel colors in that painting are amazing. I can see why this would be a favorite for anyone!" she continued. "But, you were saying that two men stopped in front of the tellers' windows across from you...," Sally went on.

"Yes," I answered. "And that's when I saw the gun! A man wearing a black hood, black jacket, black pants was standing there holding a gun in the postman's back! He said, 'I'm not playing. Give me the money.' He shoved the postman over to the next window and said, 'Quick! Quick!' and then he looked at the assistant manager sitting at the desk....she had started to move her hands under her desk....and he said, 'Don't even think about it!'"

"Ohmigosh," squealed Sally. "What did you do?"

"Well," I said, "I looked at that gun and thought to myself......if that robber gets upset and starts shooting, I don't want to see it coming, so I put the papers I was holding over my face! The next thing I heard was the assistant manager asking if anyone had called the police. Everything was over so quickly I couldn't believe it. There was my Mom, who is 91 by the way, and me, at a credit union which had just been held up!" I continued.

"That sure doesn't happen every day," exclaimed Sally. "Were you afraid?"

"No," I replied. "Not really! Although you might think that since I put the papers over my face!" I laughed. "The funniest thing, though, is when the credit union printed out the photo from the surveillance camera, there we brave 91-year old Mom, just sitting there watching, and an unidentified woman with papers over her face!"

"Oh, I bet you were glad no one was hurt," said Sally.

"Yes," I answered. "We were all glad of that," I replied. "But, that isn't the end of the story," I said. "Oh, look at this beautiful hand-dyed yarn," I said. "It is made by Sassalynne."

Fleet Hampshire, UK
Serendipity Yarn

"I would love to have a scarf made of that," cried Sally. "The colors are marvelous, and it looks so soft," she said. "Okay, if that isn't the end of the story, what happened next?" she asked.

"Well," I continued, "I looked down at the floor in front of the teller's window, and there were several 100 dollar bills lying there. I said, 'I guess you have to leave that there until the police come. Right?" The teller said, "Yes, we can't touch anything. The robber dropped that when he was stuffing the money in his pockets," she said.

I went on, "So we waited there, and soon, about six or eight policemen showed up. Some said they had been checking outside the building but no one had seen anything. Another went around taking our names and other information. The assistant manager gave us witness reports to fill out. Then they said they were waiting for the robbery division to show up. Then they locked the doors so no one could go in or out," I said. "Next the detectives from the robbery division showed up. They announced that we then had to wait for the FBI. So, we waited some more. Finally the FBI agents arrived, and they started taking statements from each person individually. I told what I had seen....that the man was white. That's all anyone could see because only his eyes and a bit of his forehead were visible. And what I had heard him say while he was there. Then he interviewed my Mom, and said I could sit in with her. He had already asked me how old she was and whether she was mentally competent! I told him she certainly was!"

"Anything else," asked Sally.

"Oh, yes," I chuckled. "I saw the surveillance photo sitting on the counter, and there I was.....face covered with those papers!" Then the FBI agent who had interviewed me came over and said, "You weren't kidding, were you?" "No," I laughed. "I told you I didn't want to see any bullets coming my way!" He laughed, too. Then the detective from the robbery division came over, smiling, and asked, "Would you mind if I use this in my class on how not to be a witness?" I said, "Of course you can use it," I said.

"Look at this sweet christening cape made by Precious Quilts," I said.

Precious Quilts
West Sussex, UK
Victorian Christening Cape

"That is darling," cooed Sally. "So precious and sweet!" she said. "Well, that is pretty funny about the detective wanting to use the photo with you covering your face for his how not to be a good witness class!" Sally exclaimed.

"I asked the detective if I could have a copy to show to my family," I said. "He told me I could." Then we waited some more, and all of a sudden there were no officers of any kind in the credit union. So I asked the manager if I could have a copy. He said he would have to check with their own security. He came back in a few minutes and said he was sorry.....I couldn't have one because it was part of an on-going investigation. So I said that was okay. But, then lo and behold, there was that detective who wanted to use the photo in his class. So, I told him what the credit union officials had said, and he said, 'You can have one. I will email it to you!"

"So, now I have the infamous photo of how not to be a good witness that has been passed around my family, among my former colleagues at work, and needless to has been a good laugh for everyone," I said to Sally. "And that wasn't the end of it, either," I continued. "Just in the mail this week both my Mom and I received nice gift cards for a very nice restaurant with a kind note thanking us for our patience and composure and help during the robbery."

"Well," teased Sally, "Surely there's a better way than that to get a free meal......"

I laughed and replied, "All's well that ends well......"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Meet Kimbuktu!

The latest interviewee in our Meet the Boomers series has two shops:  Kimbuktu for fabric crafts, and Paperparaphernalia for paper crafts.  Kimbuktu specializes in quilted bags, quilts, and other items like placemats, and coin purses.  Paperparaphernalia has decoupaged journals, origami items like business card holders, and ACEOs.

Q. How long have you been engaged in your art/craft?  My grandmother taught me to sew at age five.  I began quilting in 1973.  The paper crafts stemmed from my enjoyment of scrapbooking.  I made my first scrapbook as a child, and still have that first one.

Q. Do you consider yourself a hobbyist or a professional craftsperson?  I consider myself a craftsman or artisan.

Q. What inspires you?  Color, texture, fabric, new techniques and tools.

Q. Please share with us what a typical day is like in your workshop or studio.  I work full time in addition to my Etsy shops, so my time is limited. Generally I sew for 30 minutes to an hour in the morning before work, then another couple of hours in the evening. Weekends depend on what else is going on with my family and friends.

Q. What keeps you company while you’re working on a project?  My husband. I have a craft room, but usually drag my sewing out to the dining room table so I can be in the midst of things.

Q. What is your favorite task related to your art/craft?  I really enjoy pretty much the whole process of quilting.  My very favorite part is when the individual pieces of fabric become a cohesive whole after the piecing and quilting.  Usually the whole is much more beautiful than the pieces themselves.

Q. What is your least favorite task related to your art/craft?  I don’t like changing sewing machine feet, threads, winding bobbins, setting up the embroidery machinery boring.

Q. How do you promote your shop? Do you belong to other teams? use other sites? blog?  I hang out in the Etsy forums (too much), Twitter, Facebook, several blogs, my own website.  I do have a shop on icraft but haven’t sold anything from it.  I belong to several teams. One is a local team, that recently started.  I also belong to a group of artisans who post on WordPress as EveryDayCreate.

Q. Related to your craft, tell us about a funny, strange or unusual situation you found yourself.  Not really funny, strange, or unusual, but a few friends and I have made preemie size quilts for the neonatal unit in a hospital my daughter works in, and make quilts for the new babies at our church.

Q. Tell us something about you that we wouldn’t necessarily know about you by talking to you in the forums.  I am always doing something; it is very hard for me to just relax and do nothing.  But I tend to zigzag and flit, rather than stick to a project until completion.  I enjoy the journey more than accomplishing the goal.

Q. Would you care to share any words of wisdom with other aspiring artists or crafters?   Enjoy the process.  Don’t get caught up in comparing your work or success against others.

Please leave a comment for Kimbuktu!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The language of flowers

What do a nosegay, corsage and boutonniere all share in common? The answer, of course, is that all three are floral arrangements of some kind. Although flowers today are more ornamental than not, during the middle ages a nosegay tucked in a lapel masked the odors of people who bathed infrequently, seldom washed their clothes, had no indoor plumbing, and were surrounded by livestock. Gradually, however, flowers began to be used in other ways. Women wove the stems of flowers into garlands worn around their heads, as evidenced by Anne of Cleves, who wore a garland of rosemary when she married King Henry the VIII.

During the mid-1600s flowers were worn or carried by both men and women. Men wore boutonnieres, and both men and women carried a tight circular cluster of flowers and herbs called tussie-mussies. Whether you were rich or poor, you brought a nosegay with you when you went visiting. Flowers were a part of country fairs, weddings and religious services, much as they are today.

Most people associate the language of flowers, also called “floriography,” with the reign of Queen Victoria. Finishing schools, where gentle manners and proper decorum were taught, included courses in the art of flower appreciation. Each flower and herb came to represent something special. Mothers taught their daughters how to make hand bouquets, and tussie-mussies were considered fashionable accessories to carry or wear, and were said to have been used to send coded messages. Whether this is actually true or not is questionable, but poets and writers certainly used the language of flowers in this fashion. Dictionaries of floriography were published, with some of the common flowers being represented as follows:

  • Daffodil – regard
  • Daisies – purity and innocence
  • Dandelion – coquetry, or flirting
  • Elderflower – compassion
  • Iris – sending a message
  • Ivy – fidelity
  • Jonquil – return of affection
  • Lilac (purple) – first signs of love
  • Pansy – thought
  • Red roses – passionate, romantic love
  • Sunflowers – haughtiness, or respect
  • White clover – promise
  • White roses – virtue and chastity
  • Yellow roses – friendship or devotion
  • Yellow tulip – hopeless love
The practice of assigning meaning to flowers, however, does not belong solely to Queen Victoria. Wherever the language of flowers is used, it is based on a mixture of mythology, folklore, literature, faith and some of the flowers’ physical characteristics. During both the middle ages and the Renaissance, flowers were used to express concepts of morality. Saints, for example, were associated with specific flowers, such as the lily that symbolized purity. The Japanese also have their own flower language called “hanakotoba” whose meanings differ from their Western counterparts. The Turkish people have a language called “selam” that consists of both flowers and objects. Brent Elliott of the Royal Horticultural Society indicates that selam is not so much a language as it is a tool for helping people remember lines of poetry. The names of objects, in other words, rhyme with lines of poetry.

Whether you express yourself using the Victorian, Japanese, Turkish or any other language of flowers, one fact is certain. Flowers today embellish our garments, our décor and even our bodies, as evidenced by these items sold in BBEST members’ shops. (To look at these items, click on the photo.)

Wildflower Coasters No. 3, by Nonnie 60

Midnight Blue Flower Focal Bead, by ZudaGay

Bluebonnet Bell, by JillsTreasureChest

Pretty Purple Neck Warmer, by CBBasement

Flowers and Frida Nicho, by VanFleetStreetDesign

Orange Tulip Original Painting, by heronkate

Original Print Sepia Petunia, by BethPeardonProds

To learn more about the language of flowers, consult the following resources:

Tussie-Mussies, the Victorian Art of Expressing Yourself in the Language of Flowers
, by Geraldine Adamich Laufer

Flowers, the Angels’ Alphabet: The Language and Poetry of Flowers
, by Susan Loy