Saturday, September 24, 2011

Craft show love

One of the things I like best about what I do is attending the art and craft shows. It is a lot of work, but I really love getting to meet people face to face who enjoy my work. We start talking, and invariably, they start asking questions. I just can't resist posting a few priceless questions I get at these shows. Sometimes I am just laughing my head off at what comes my way!

- "Are you a millionaire? Do you sell online? Everyone must buy your products like crazy!" Haa ha! Oh my, that one had me going! Sweet lady, no, I am not a millionaire! I wish my work sold like wildfire online, but I think people just need to see my work in real life to fully appreciate all of what I do.

- "What IS needle felting?" I keep saying I will take my needle felting mat and needles to demo what I do, but then everyone would see how easy it is. Can't give that secret away, now, can I?!

- "Oh, these are just like those Ugly Dolls, right?" Uhh, wrong. No, these are much cuter (if I say so myself), and they are handmade by me, and NOT in China!

- "Do you make all of these products? How do you find the time?" I pretty much work day and night in preparation for one of my shows, especially the week or two before a show. I really do work best under pressure, so I am creating things in a whirlwind! Plus, I have my two awesome helpers, Mona and Toshi, who are helping me in a very big way. We've been making the more popular items for the past two months! Poor family members, Lola, Greg and the boys... they know to steer clear when I'm "in the work mode"!

- "Were you professionally trained in Europe?" Oh, golly, NO! I'm completely self taught!

- "How do you come up with all of these ideas?" I surely don't know the answer to that question... It's just the way my mind rolls, is all. I just try to keep up!

My next show is the Del Mar Taste and Art Stroll on Sunday, Oct 2, exactly 8 days from today! Guess what my next week will be like ... Hold on, boys! Here we go again!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Come so far...

... there's no going back. It's sort of a revolution (of heart and spirit), if you want to look at it that way. I certainly do.

Lovely stitched hearts by Jude of Spirit Cloth

I thought of this tonight after I read Greg my latest (and greatest) chapter in my 'self-help-book-of-the-moment' (What We Say Matters: Practicing Nonviolent Communication by Judith and Ike Lasater), specifically about listening to what our children (and others) say, and hearing it in a compassionate way.

"The greatest weapon we have to combat stress is the ability to choose our thoughts."

Often, we are caught up in a "who's right" pattern of negativity, it's just so incompassionate and unproductive. Once I read Greg the passage, and he took time to mull it over and digest it, he was able to react and converse with our teen son in a manner that had them both laughing and connecting.

Oh woe, how do we get so dis-connected, when we were all as good as one right before these teen years hit?? Did we get so old (God-forbid!) that we forgot how hard it is to be a teen, afraid of rejection and criticism? How can I act in a way that will connect me to my struggling teen(s), and not drive them away? My ability to choose to react to those around me with awareness, is what makes speech and interaction a spiritual practice. ...Heady stuff indeed!

Working from my heart seems to be just the right thing that my world needs now, along with my family, and especially my sons.

Who knew it could be this easy? That I had the answer at my fingertips...?

Getting caught up in actions and reactions take me away from listening to my heart... the trappings of hearing scathing words of my parents, the expectations of society, the disapproving periods of silence from so-called "friends" with kids my own kids ages -the ones who toe the line... none of these things take us to a better place, or ground us, or even help us. They are all our mind's way to deal with society's "dismissive" actions upon our best attempts to raise our children in a fraughtful and often unfair world. Who are we to know the right thing to do? We were NOT handed a manual at the birth of our children... holy heck...

Ok, these are the musings inside my head tonight, and I do so thank you for the indulgence! These are the thoughts that mull around in my consciousness as I think... about how many scarves do I need to make before the next show? Friendlys? Oh, about 20 more... I think the Toasts are good, but I need a ton more of those Teethys!

My next show is coming up on Sunday, Oct 2... more about that in my next post... after I've had a bit more time to mull my steps in nonviolent communication, and how much more product I need to make.

x, Val

PS. A note of thanks and appreciations for the love I found at the Coronado Art Walk. Each of your words, comments and purchases are a stitch of love in my homemade heart, and I thank you so very much!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thoughts on steam burns

Steam iron burns are extremely nasty, and there are a few Dos and Don'ts I'd like to mention after receiving such a burn...

DO... use aloe and ice packs to help cool the burn
DO... realize that you will be held up for the next 2-3 hours nursing your burn
DO... a mild sort of activity, like watching TV to distract yourself from the pain

(and some thoughts of what NOT to do)

DO NOT... pacify yourself with several glasses of wine (to help with the pain)
DO NOT... compose a group Fall Show announcement email, and send it off before you've had the chance to proof it the next morning
DO NOT... and I repeat DO NOT feel bad the next morning, like you will die of embarrassment. Just go right back to work, and keep plugging on because the Art show is TOMORROW, and you will be nodding politely to the people who received the email and showed up in spite of yourself. At least the pain of the steam burn has finally quieted down...

Ok, I'm off back to work now.
x, Val
PS. That photo collage came out nicely though, didn't it? Despite myself...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Did I tell you I have two new assistants? Yep, they are both doing an awesome job of assimilating all the information I'm throwing at them. And, there's a lot! ... between the needle felting duties, and all the sewing, I'm keeping the girls busy, busy, busy. I have fall shows lined up every 2-3 weeks between now and Christmas, so we are "in the mode" around here! I hope to be able to feature the girls soon here, but I do have one camera-shy girl, so we will wait til she's ready before we "go live" on her... :o)

We have been able to develop A PATTERN from one of my designs. It's a real pattern, and I have tried it out, and the garment turned out perfectly! Hooray! This is my Swing Vest, and I'm showing you a sneak peak here because it's not 100% complete... it hasn't been embellished yet. The front will get a needle felted bird... and the back? Take a look:

This will be a feature piece for me at this weekend's Coronado Art Walk. I hope you will come and say hi! Look for me down by the bay, just right of the entrance to the Ferry pier. I'm updating the look of my booth too, so everything is in line with looking more handmade and clever....

x, Val

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Yep, there have been a few lately. I have a 2 day show in less than a week, and the distractions are flying at me like swallows returning to Capistrano! This is 4 month old Sweetie, aka Sweet Pea, but more on her in a minute...

The distractions began about 3:30 pm last Thursday, when all the power shut down across Southern California. It's funny when that happens, because at first, you just wonder when it will come back on. Then, after a while, you begin to wonder what's going on. No connection to the internet, TV, or even cell phone (our service sucks without the M-Cell, also cut off in the power outage) brings a bit of concern... especially when it happens right before the anniversary of 9-11...

Dinner made by candlelight, and games with the boys after dinner ("Mom! There's nothing to do!"), we eventually ended up out on the front lawn looking at the stars. Lola loved it, and ended up lying on top of all four of us once I put down the camera and got into the mix!

The boys loved our cozy evening spent together without any distractions. It was a welcome break in the busy lifestyle we all lead, and we were secretly a bit sad when the power was restored at 2 am... The boys were thrilled to find out school was cancelled on Friday (West coast version of a snow day!). That would be distraction #2!

Here's distraction #3. Her name is Sweetie. She is a 4 month old Portuguese Water Dog that my friend, Bob, had asked us to foster. Bob has since changed his mind, as Sweetie certainly lives up to her name, and he and his wife have fallen in love with her. But Bob was headed out of town this weekend, and asked if Sweetie could come over for a few days. Well, she has worked her amazing puppy magic on us, and even Lola. We will be very sad to take her back home later today...

Isn't she a Sweetie?!

I hope you are having a peaceful day today... the anniversary of one of the most terrible acts of terror in history... I am observing a quiet day, and praying for kindness.... in our hearts and those of our enemies too.

With love and peace,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Folks, there's a new magazine on the horizon, and it's called Folk! I'm not certain what it will be about since the first issue isn't out yet, but I'm fairly certain it seems right up my alley, specializing in a love affair with all things handmade (and tea dyed :o).

Issue 1

I suggest a visit to their website or their Facebook page, and maybe signing up to receive the first copy. I think Folks like us will really like it!
x, Val

A Series... sort of

Can you find the connection? There actually IS one!

You see, my friend, Tamerie, is getting rid of a large amount of her amazing fabric stash, and well, I couldn't resist. I tried... I just wasn't successful. So, yesterday, everything I made had to do with one amazing silk fabric that I am hopelessly in love with. See if you can find it...

I know you can see it in the bottom photos. Were you able to find it in the painting? I didn't try to hide it, it just looked better with some paint on top of it.

That was yesterday's passion. Today, I will be onto something new... I can just feel it :o)

Happy Tuesday!
x, Val

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ready... set... GO!

Whether I am ready or not... the days and weeks keep coming and going, and all the sudden, the FALL SHOWS are soon upon me!

Last year, the Coronado Art Walk proved to be a great show for me, and even though I wasn't crazy busy, I was known as the booth that sold those cute Toasts! People walked up announcing "Here are those Toast pillows we've been hearing about!" Ok, that's music to my ears!

So, this year, there are Toast, and Pirate Toast, and Mustache Toast, and those incredibly cute Hairdo Toast... plus Teeth... and Friendlys... wow, when I measure the changes that have happened in my studio in one year's time, it's mind boggling to me...

This year I am changing the appearance of my booth... stay tuned and I hope to give you a sneak preview of it soon!

Happy Labor Day, and hope you are having a great holiday weekend :o)
x, Val

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Balancing act

Wow, life sure is one big balancing act, isn't it? Here are my two sons at ages 15 and 13, balanced between the fond reminiscence of childhood, and the impending adolescent storm... if you're wondering what the heck they are wearing on their heads, these are masks they colored at the MOMA in Denver. The children's wing was completely vacant, so they sat down amongst cardboard and coloring pens in teeny kids chairs, and took a trip down memory lane. (Can you see they are furry faced bears?!)

I have been giving some thought lately to the blogs I read regularly, and wondering how come so many of them are written by moms of babies and toddlers... Or, I visit the blogs of women who are in the process of reclaiming their lives after children have moved on... What's going on with those moms of teens? and why don't I ever stumble upon those moms blogs? I just wonder if they, like me, find life to be such a juggling act that it is nearly impossible to just gets the ends pulled together? Oh, woe... it's so true, isn't it?! Please God... just let me find the time to get it all together, and help my family along the way!!

Some days I find myself in prayer throughout most of the day, busy with the asking, the wanting to be shown, and especially still as I work on the listening. There are no firm rules in my world about prayer. I can be found praying during cooking, driving to the grocery store, walking the dog, and plucking my eyebrows (especially therapeutic!). I usually just talk to God about whatever is going on in my head. My family even has to listen to me pray out loud when we are going through a rough patch... oh my, oh my. I keep thinking that God is leading us somewhere very good, and that we will see it soon.

Anne Lamont's book "Plan B" says "When God is going to do something wonderful, He or She always starts with a hardship; when God is going to do something amazing, He or She starts with an impossibility." I like that.

What about you? Do you have an impossibility you are facing right now? Does prayer help you?

I think God is taking us somewhere very good, and we will see it very soon. In the meantime, you can find me praying... it's all good.
x, Val