Starting anew is always a good thing! Here is Vol. 1 of "Artful Living on the Bluff" for you to enjoy. While I am not contributing new material to this blog, please feel free to look around and then visit me at the new and (hopefully) improved "Artful Living on the Bluff" blog at

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Morning Coffee: Education... and the problems with it

This morning my good friend Kristine posted a link on Facebook to a manifesto recently written by Seth Godin entitled "Stop Stealing Dreams (What is School For?)" - download a .pdf copy here. It addresses many of the shortcomings of today's educational methods. I, as a certified educator who, disillusioned, quit the establishment of public education, am keenly interested in the effects of public school education on those it is supposed to be preparing for the "real world". Since my teaching degree was also in the arts - vocal/general music grades K-12 - and arts programs across the board are the first to fall victim to budget cuts, I am eager to cheer those who point out the importance of arts and humanities education. Anyway... her post got me thinking about it all again and I just wanted to share some links with you, just in case you are interested...

One of my favorite educational experts is Ken Robinson. As his website states: "Sir Ken Robinson, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation.  He is also one of the world’s leading speakers with a profound impact on audiences everywhere."

While I hope you will visit his website to learn more about him, you can see an earlier post on this blog about him here. I also hope you will enjoy this great video from The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) - an animation of a section of one of Sir Ken's TED Conference lectures:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mandala Necklace Re-do Finished

Well, the re-make of the Mandala necklace is finished! I wore it yesterday to coffee with one of my girlfriends and it was met with very nice compliments (I mean, really, what was she going to say?). I like it, too, but it's a hard piece to find something to wear it with. I do have this dark red jacket and maybe a denim jacket would work. It's also lacking a name - feel free to offer suggestions. Anyway.... here it is - let me know what you think :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Getting ready for summer shows

One of my resolutions for this year is to participate in one art/craft fair each month from May through December. I have just sent in my jury package for the first one and, feeling optimistic of my chances, am working on my booth display.

I did do a couple of small local fairs last year and my display was haphazard, at best. Here's what I was working with last year:
I was going for that "bohemian" vibe but sometimes I think it landed somewhere between "vagabond" and "homeless" (and I'm not referring to the handsome guitar player in the back - that's my uber-cute hubby there to help me for the day!). This year I'm hoping for a more streamlined and tailored look. For starters, I will get my own canopy tent with sidewalls. This tent was borrowed and I was very appreciative but walls just look nicer and I want my own so I always know what I'm working with!

One thing I did get right was to make leg extenders for the table on the left in the photo above. I bought the 4' x 2' banquet table at Staples and then made leg extenders out of PVC components to bring it up to a nice height - I think it's about 40" tall now, which is a great height for customers.

So, I am getting started by taking the ONE thing I have (the banquet table) and making it better. I have spent the past few days making a nice table cover. It's fashioned from a great crushed velvet (machine-washable!!) in off-white with a cotton muslin lining. I am hand-sewing the whole thing - call me crazy but it's easier than trying to find a spot to sew it on the machine when you live in as tiny a house as we do! There's still work to do on it but here are some shots of it so far:
Here you can see how I'm gathering the front panel. I'm leaving lots of room along the hem so I can add weight - probably a length of chain - along the bottom to foil any winds that might want to blow up my table's skirt! (That's one of our puppies, Freckles, peeking around the corner)

In this shot you can see the front is finished and I'm adding the side and back panels. I will eventually close the corner seam but I am leaving the skirt open in the middle back so I can easily access anything I want to store out-of-sight at the shows. You can also just see a glimpse of one of the PVC leg extenders :)

I'm pretty excited about doing shows! I know it will be a ton of work but worth it, I hope, to get my creations in front of people. I know I don't like to buy things I haven't touched or held up or tried on - I don't think I'm alone in that. I'll be sure to keep you posted on the development of my booth design - now I'm off to price canopies (*eek*)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Martha, Martha, Martha,...

I used to love Martha Stewart's TV show - I never admitted to it but I did love it. I also used to subscribe to her magazine but stopped. It had gotten a bit over-the-top and seemed that the photography, once beautiful, was not as good as it had been. This was YEARS ago and I have not looked back since, except... the other day when I picked up a back-issue at one of my favorite resale stores.

I always rifle through the mags, looking for cool ones like Elle Decor, Architectural Digest and Mary Englebreit's Home Companion (*sniff, sniff* - I still miss that one!). Well, I relented and grabbed the April 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living and was pleasantly surprised! The pictures and lay-out were lovely, the recipes were approachable, the home and garden articles did not require you to live on a pedigreed New England estate in order to incorporate the ideas into your own life. Somehow, the editorial staff of Living had found a way to speak to the normal, everyday person. 

The photos were always my favorite part of Martha Stewart Living and I found some wonderful color inspiration in this issue. Shades of teal and turquoise are always high on my list and the first few pages did not disappoint. Teal and turquoise combined with shades of yellow and tangerine orange with just a touch of minty green really caught my fancy.
As did the glimpses of "blue on blue" - various shades and textures of blue all mixed together.

Sometimes it's not so bad to be proven wrong. It's also nice to find inspiration in unexpected places - Don't you agree? :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mandala Necklace Re-do Continued

Just some quick pics... I'd love to hear what you think!

Embroidery in progress

Embroidery trimmed and mounted on leather backing

Ready for final trim and beaded edging

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

This sweet Valentine video came from the folks at Etsy - Enjoy it right here or find the original here...

Happy Valentine's Day! XO, Etsy from Etsy on Vimeo.

Friday, February 10, 2012

For the Birds

Almost a year ago, I shared some sneak-peek pics of a fiber project in the works. I then finished the project and, as per usual, didn't share the final result. I know some of you have been waiting feverishly for the great reveal... ha, ha, ha... Anyway, here's what I was making:
"The Bridal Suite"
A Pretty Little Birdhouse!!

I had the idea to use my rekindled love of embroidery and fabric to design and make a soft sculpture birdhouse. I never did get any pics that were very good, which is probably why I didn't do a follow-up post about it. I probably kept thinking I would get some better photos taken soon and.... well, you know... Anyway, this first bird abode was called "Bridal Suite" and I had plans of making others with different themes - maybe a school house, or a fire house, or a boat house, etc. and despite the fact that this little guy hangs in my studio, I somehow didn't remember to revisit that idea until this past week when I made this cute little birdhouse!

He's not quite finished - I have some little touches to add to him before I offer him for sale at Cynthia St. Anne on Etsy. I will also be offering a free tutorial on my blog next month so you can learn how to make one, too! Actually, during the month of March, in conjunction with STITCHED 2012, mine will be one of several blogs offering a free tutorial each week! More about that later... I promise!! It could be a fiber project or a beading project - I'm not sure yet. But if you aren't already a "follower" of my blog I hope you will become one so you won't miss any of them AND you will be able to find out which other great blogs will be taking part in the tutorial "hop". So, please become a "follower" - you'll be glad you did!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mandala Necklace Re-do

In an earlier post I asked for opinions regarding remaking items that had been languishing in my inventory and was pleased at the response! Everyone said (in a nutshell) to go for it and I have finally started. Yesterday evening I pulled "Mandala" out from its hiding place and set about remaking it. Here are just a few shots of the progress - Enjoy (and comment, please!)
...and in-progress

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My first soft sculpture

The idea of creating soft sculpture objects has been floating around in my mind for a very long time. Finally, last week I dove in! "The Artful Bird" by Abigail Patner Glassenberg has been hanging around my house for may weeks now. I am lucky to have a wonderful local library that (seems to) happily order just about any book I request. It ordered "The Artful Bird" on my recommendation and it has been in my possession since. Finally, they told me I couldn't renew it anymore (shucks!) so I decided I had better quit just looking at the darned thing and actually MAKE one of the projects in it. I chose the "beginner" project - The Wren.

The fabric I used was some embroidered vintage linen pieces I tea dyed during one of my private art retreats. I started by copying and cutting out the pattern pieces.
After cutting out the pieces for the main body, I had sewed them together, stuffed my bird with lots of fiber-fill and added some bent wire legs and feet. I was planning to photo each step but I was just too excited about making it and forgot to stop for pics.
After making the main body, the next step was to make the wing and tail pieces. I chose to use the embroidered sections of the vintage linens for the wings and tail. At first, I was cutting out each piece separately - the wing top, the wing back and the felt that I was using instead of batting.

Then I figured out that I just needed to cut out the wing back, stack the pieces and sew them together. After that it was easy to trim the pieces to the proper size. 
Again, I got too excited to take photos of turning the wing pieces and attaching them (*sorry*) but the wings were sewn to the body and embellished with antique shell buttons. For the eyes I used some pretty clear seed beads with gold color inside and finally the entire piece was balanced and the legs were wrapped with florist's tape. I did improvise on the beak - it is not the beak as shown in the book.

I had a great time making him and am quite fond of him! He will have to be part of my own private menagerie since I won't sell anything made for another's patterns but this little project has inspired me to try to develop my own. I hope you like him! :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What's in a name?

One of the hardest things for me is thinking of names for my jewelry creations. Some pieces present the perfect moniker but, if they don't, I just have a heck of a time coming up with a good name. My latest piece is one of those that doesn't immediately present a name -
I love the look of it (as did several at the art opening I attended while wearing it!) and also love the combination of rich shades of red, green and purple accented by brassy gold. The necklace features vintage red glass beads. It is so comfy to wear and goes with so many different types of outfits. I would love to find a nice name for it - Can you help?