Monday, 26 November 2012

Can She Do It?

It's just 4 sleeps until the best l'il craft show in Sydney this Friday through Sunday -

...and I'm putting my booth together. As usual, it's filled with excitement - if you call fear, anxiety and intermittent panic "exciting". I just never know if it's all going to come together, and more importantly, if it's going to stay together for 3 days. There have been tragedies. They have aged me. 

So, tonight, as paint dries and I crack a new bottle of wine I'm pondering whether this:

4 old table legs, 3 old windows, 2 cats and a dirty water damaged shelf from my basement

 combined with this:
A bunch of calendars, boxes of cards, photographs, fridge magnets 

and other stuff that I can barely remember

Will all fit into this space at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design on Friday...

...and hopefully have a bit of that elusive magical "wow" factor!
Let's hope so!

Come see for yourself.

Monday, 19 November 2012


Late autumn on the beach is perhaps more visually arresting than a perfect summer day.

The charming yet durable beach pea has withered, and large banks of seaweed mound on the shoreline. The far-as-the-eye-can-see roses are gone, save an ambitious late-bloomer or two. They leave a stunning legacy - the mellowest of deep orange foliage studded with apple-crimson rose hips. Wow. Talk about going out in a blaze of glory.

The winter's firewood is on it's way into the crib, hopefully stacked before the first snow. We're ready. Almost.

In the midst of these acts of hibernation prep I've been recreating carefree summer days at the beach in my 2013 calendar "Shoreplay". The theme is just that - playing with things I've found at the shore. Finally, a use for the baskets and  more baskets and  more bigger baskets of shells, driftwood and 
beach glass. I just knew they'd come in handy some day
 (in another room I can hear my husband's eyes roll)...

Boy, I had SUCH FUN making this calendar. At the end I decided I had missed my career calling as a "shell stylist". If you see any want ads for this job please let me know. I can make a shell do almost anything. Smile for the camera, baby.

The end product is this:

2 sizes of desk calendars. 

The larger one is 4 x 7. The smaller one is a business-card sized teeny tiny pocket desk calendar. 
They come in a plastic case that folds backwards into a stand, thusly:

Each month has a different shell or beach find posing attractively for the camera. Here are a few of 'em:

The large calendar is $20. It comes with a lovely cardboard mailer box which goes through the mail slot  with letter postage rates. 
Handy for gifts that need mailing. The tiny calendar is $10. 
They are freshly back from the printer and I do hope you'll consider them when you're planning your gift-giving this season. 
I can mail any quantity anywhere anytime!
Operators are standing by ready to take your call.

I've also done a line of notecards based on these images:

Again, $20 for a set of 5 or 6. Depends on the day.

I also have fridge magnets! And 8 x 10 reproductions of some of the images. Oh, and Christmas Cards: 

Operators. Standing by. 

In the meantime, I'm getting ready for the one and only craft show I do. 
Come Friday November 30th I'll move my calendars, a mile of Christmas lights, a tandem load of shells, and myself into this space

in the loft at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design.

The event is called 
Holiday Spirit

It's a wonderful night of craft shopping, craftinis and canap├ęs. 
The following two days are devoted to a free-admission craft show. 
It's a twee little bijou craft show. Small, select and intimate. 
If you're able to come, please do come by and say hello. If you can prove you've read my blog by remembering this secret password:


...then you'll be able to claim a free gift! Wow!

So please do drop by Holiday Spirit or email me at if you'd like me to send you calendars, cards, fridge magnets or 8 x 10 prints. 

Remember, only 27 days 'til Christmas.

(Okay, that's a fib. Just trying to induce some panicked buying).

Hope to see you at the show!

Friday, 12 October 2012

A slap upside the head.

That's what I need. A good slap to propel me out of summer into....Christmas production. Yes, Christmas. Again? Really? It seems it happens almost every year, this Christmas thing. I'm barely out of my Thanksgiving tryptophan haze. I blame it all on this unprecidentiallyiffiliicious summer. Relentless, day-after-day sunshine and warmth. Freakishly so. Surely there is a weather debt that will now require repayment. How about 5 months of snow?

 So, while I wrestle with yet another creative way to turn wormy driftwood into delightful seasonal decorations for your home, dear reader, let me amuse you with a dreamy walk down summer's memory lane...

...beginning with squid. Great mounds of rotting squid. Surely an omen, now, for hot weather ahead?

Then, a beachcombing warm-up trip with gal pals to Margaree and Inverness Beach. Much competitive grabbing of glass and envious admiring of T's collection. I resisted the urge to steal from my host. For a change. 

This trip was followed with the annual Ordering of the Topsoil ritual, in anticipation of actual (or potential) Planting of Things. Amazingly, Things were actually Planted this year, though a half-tandem load of soil remains in the yard. It's weeding over nicely and will soon become A Landform.

Arial view of The Landform. A collapsed volcanic cone perhaps?

 There was a goodly amount of this

                                           And this

Followed by a trip down memory lane to visit our New Brunswick relatives, gloriously alive and inexorably dead. 

Gloriously alive sister left, inexorably dead ancestors right.
Then....inconveniently occurring throughout the summer there were moments of WORK. Yes, the dreaded 4 letter word. I received commissions. I had to put down that drink, rise from the adirondack chair and craft. 

The successful:

The dreadful:



File under: "you'll never get another commission from them"

The unpaid:

I have 6 legs and 2 of them are really hairy

The Inventive:

box, box, box

There was a magical little short video that I participated in:

 The Superfun:

 A commission for a jewellery box for a very special granddaughter about to turn 1 year old 

AND a surprise romantic engagement  ring box which will be fully revealed in a future blog.

So very exhausting were those episodes of turning one's hand to labour 

that I required an extended vacation:

Yes, he is indeed serving us breakfast on the patio by the pool.
 However, I had to walk to the table entirely unassisted.

 in a dream villa in a dream resort in DR....

Big Ben is really big. Who would've known?

in London... 

Simply too much art inside to cope. Needed air.

 and in gay Paree 

Can you blame me for not being able to get my Christmas groove on? Surely not. Non. Niente.

So, while I'm procrastinating a bit longer, join me in a  group hum of Walking in a Winter Wonderland while watching this little video of a perfect summer morning in July.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Fishing Boats, Fakery and 50+ Women.

This spring I had an FB conversation with a young Cape Breton expat artist about the state of art making on this island. Her point, a bit caustically put, was that we only exhibit art that is, and I quote: "b***hit SAFE work, s**t for the middle aged woman of the island to gawk at and buy up to put in their bathrooms", and that we are left with "boring watercolours of lighthouses and sailboats painted on rocks". Young artists, she maintained, were forced to "f**k off somewhere else" to work.

Being both a middle aged woman and a person who has shilled production craft for the tourist market, I was a wee bit undone buy this comment. Sure, it's easy to diss the commercialization of art and craft in tourist areas such as this, and yes, one more piece of (sadly, rather unattractively coloured) CB tartan on one more doll might make me colourfully profane too....if I were young and artistically disenfranchised. However, I may just have a lighthouse or 3 in my house. One might even be in my bathroom *cringes*. And I have pictures of fishing boats. I am an art pariah.

In fact, 4 of my most favourite handmade things feature fishing boats. I have a verisimilitudinal (yes! 40 point word score!) etching by the enviably gifted William Rogers of lobster boats wheeling around in the surf on Bird Islands-

Over my bed I have a truly sublime yarn hooked tapestry of Dingwall fishing boats at dock by South Harbour artist Claudia Gahlinger:

This will be the second thing, next to my fat jeans, that I grab for should there be a fire in the house. Everything else can go.

Well, not everything.

Last week I was at the Inverness County Centre for the Arts and found these new fetish objects in their charming "Third Meadow' gift shop:

Mugs by Bethany Butterworth,

As Woody Allen said to Diane Keaton in Annie Hall when the word love wasn't intense enough, I  lurve them. Ok, so, as I'm hoping you can see by now, dear reader, I am developing A Theme. For those of you whose thoughts are wandering to whether there are any chips in the house, I'll make it quick. I live this stuff. It's right out my window. In fact, here's the proof:

This may be the most static and uninspiring video clip ever, but it is my pedagogical tool, and blogging experts say you need a photo or something moving for about every 50 words.

Frankly, I was once into edgy and urban. Growing up in Toronto I was drawn to half-deserted streets, the muttering retreats, Charles Bukowski, Talking Heads, Diane Arbus etc. I had a black leather jacket and...and....and I can't even remember what else may have been hip then. Tricoloured pasta? Parachute Club? It was that long ago. It all lacks relevance now. I live on a point of land with ocean all around it. Even if I'd hoped to get away from what may be perceived to be tired maritime imagery, I live it every day and it's real and authentic to me. So, if you can interpret what you see about you in a fresh and creative way, I say it's good.

So there.

For about 7 years I made books, albums and cards for the tourist market. I wholesaled to 40+ shops and made the same thing over and over and over....and over again. In the end, it was so creatively stultifying that I had to just put it all in a box for about 10 years.

I knew I was over the burnout when I could look into the box and not want to throw up. I had miles of lovely hand-dyed and hand-printed kozo paper bits left over from these years. An incontinent cat took care of about half of it. The remaining paper was too precious to heave out and needed repurposing. Out of that idea came a legion of tiny poem books:

They are tiny accordion fold books with poems by yours truly, all ocean-related, natch. They're about 2.5 x 3 inches and are twee.

Each is a unique design, they're all collages using this paper from my past production and some hand-cut rubber stamps. As you can see, these papers are neither barfed nor peed upon.

The poems are quasi-fridge magnet poetry. I cut out lines from the magazine Coastal Living and wrote poems around them. I'll spare you the poetry for now. Here are a few more wee bookies:

Oh, I can't resist. This one is my favourite so here's the poem. It's a haiku.

A summer mist

Summer mist falling
abandon plastic lawn chairs for
a drink, a nap.

These tiny books are available at my exclusive retailer The Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design. They're about 7 or 8 dollars. If you think you lurve them and don't live here, I'll make you one and send it along. I have a list of poems, each one in some way related to our maritime culture. For less than 10 bucks you, too, can be a cliche. Especially if you're a middle-aged woman. I'll even make you one for your bathroom.

Here's one more video. I'd tried for days to get a lively shot of a fishing boat out back of my house but none came close enough. Turns out you have to get up mighty early to film a fishing boat here. Instead, I have a tiny boat dot and a bored dog for you:

bye bye.