My camera is home!

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My camera arrived back from repair yesterday evening and seems to be in good working order again. This is good news because now I can post some update photos on my progress for the January Take it Further challenge and get some more items up in my pitifully small Etsy shop. The only bad news is that the repair cost almost $200.

I have a Konicka Minolta Dimage Z6 which cost me $300 two years ago.
When I learned how high the repair cost would be, I considered buying a new one but the price has doubled on that model in two years and I didn't want to shop around again. It is a wonderful camera in most respects. I can take wonderful macro shots with it - if you look at my Etsy store, you will see that the camera alows me to show more detail in my beads online than anyone could see in person without a magnifying glass. Having trained on a manual 35mm in highschool, I also appreciate the fact that I can have almost as much control as I want over the "exposure" and that the camera itself will allow me to set up black and white or sepia compositions as I shoot. I'm still learning how to use most of the fancy functions, but my appreciation for this camera just keeps growing. I have some issues with how quickly it sucks the power out of the 4 AA batteries it requires, but since it thrives on rechargables, it is not really expensive, just time consuming changing batteries and charging them back up so frequently. It is also not perfect for point and shoot family photos but my daughter has taken on the role of family photographer and she has a small Hp camera that is perfect for that.

Since my camera has been out of commission and I have been pressed for time, I have updated my blog a bit by adding some links to inspiring places online in the sidebar. Yesterday, I added the SEED magazine website. Why is a science mag link on an arts blog? Go take a look for yourself! SEED in my new favorite magazine, I discovered it while sitting in a hairdressers salon in NC, waiting to get a new 'city' cut with my Sister-in-law. I stole a subscription tag and have been very pleased with the outcome. I find great articles for homeschool and information about our universe that causes me to marvel in every issue. On top of that, in each issue there is at least one article about the intersection of science and the arts and the mag. is full of beautiful illustrations.

Well, time to run off to work. Photos tonight or tomorrow!

Being patient with myself in January

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Well, here we are halfway and more through January and when I look around myself, I feel that I've not accomplished a single thing. If you were to come to my house you would probably think that we had some sort of minor disaster this month. Dirty dishes are piled high in the kitchen, clean laundry is escaping from the Pack-n-Play in the study because the main closet is messy and the laundry baskets are full, general chaos reigns in the Living Room, the stairway really needs to be swept . . . Unless you fail to keep house the way that I fail to keep house, you probably can't begin to imagine the mess.

But my studio is still clean! And I taught a beading class this week; a feat that included 15 hours of writing instructions and illustrations. And I've completed my initial sketch for my take it Further Challenge project. And my toddler is finally getting ready to potty train (maybe). And we are catching up with our home school schedule.

All of this in a week where I suffered from lack of sleep, associated headaches and the major disappointment of breaking my camera.

I am posting here and on Flickr my plans for the Take it Further Challenge. I borrowed a book a few months ago from our Arts Council "Library" titled
Embroidery and Architecture by Jan Messent. The book was published in 1985, before color printing became affordable for arts and crafts books but the book is by no means boring for lack of color. Jan Messent includes historical information about how architecture has been used as design fodder for embroiderers and textile artists for centuries and then goes on to explore specific architectural elements from ground plans to doors and windows and how they can be incorporated in embroidered art work. She includes many many amazing and beautiful drawings and photos of both architectural elements and embroidered textile works using these themes. On page 38 of the book is an aerial view of a ruined castle that caught my attention the first time I picked the book up. I scanned this illustration, enlarged it and played around with adding some colored pencil in the colors from January's challenge. My plan is to embroider the wall sections with satin stitch and then use some dimensional stitches, like French knots for the ground areas. Since this is one of the first embroidery projects I've taken on in a planned out way, I'm going in with very low expectations and a willingness to experiment and have fun with the design. Who knows if the finished piece will look anything like I'm imagining it will? Who cares?

Well, here are the photos and the Flickr challenge pool site so interested parties may take a look at what everyone else is doing for this challenge. Unfortunately, the threads I have chosen do not show well in the scan. I really miss my camera and anxiously await its return from the repair center.

Photos of my messy studio

7:45 PM Posted In , Edit This 0 Comments »
Yesterday I finally finished cleaning my studio. It was in really rough shape. For some reason my room is the place that everyone in the family uses as a dump when they are cleaning other rooms of the house. When someone comes across an item that they don't know how to put away, they put it in my studio. When somebody finds something that they don't want anymore, they put it in my studio. When the dog pulls something delectable out of the trash can, he carries it up to my studio. When we have company coming and don't have time to tidy everything nicely, everything gets shoved in my studio. Why is this?

This fall was so hectic that by Christmas time my studio looked like this.

There was much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth - not to mention
shouting and tearing of hair in frustration as I attempted to work on gifts in the short time I had this season. In the end, if there was something I wanted, I had to step over piles of junk on the floor to get to needed supplies and drag them downstairs to work in the kitchen. It was very ineffective, time consuming and unhappy for everyone in the family. I'm committed to not allowing it to happen again.

In the process of cleaning, I stuffed three large garbage bags full of stuff to go away. I've been inspired by Sharon over at In a Minute Ago who just completed a reorganization and weigh in of her studio fabric stash. I did not weigh everything in my studio - there are just too many categories and too much crossover between categories to effectively "label" everything.

What did I end up throwing away?
- Several very old cheapo sewing projects that were begun when I was a sewing beginner. They were never going to be finished and weren't worth passing along to anyone to save.
- Several baggies of junk beads that I saved for my daughter to play with when she was small. She is no longer small enough to be interested in junk beads and I am getting rid of all baggies in my studio. (Come back in a few days to read about getting rid of studio "baggage")
- Lots of stuff that the dog dragged upstairs to chew on or lick out. His favorite in recent months has been empty cat food bags and fish sticks boxes. Sometimes he will steal a toy to hoard up there, too. I think the toys are a response to our 3 year old son who deliberately hides the dog's toys behind a large chair in the study so that the dog has nothing to play with.
- Lots of failed paper art and/or scrap paper, old handmade patterns that didn't make the cut, etc...

I also spent a great deal of time reorganizing various art supplies into small bins to be stored in a more accessible and logical manner. I've been guilty of keeping uncategorized things in cardboard boxes, the aforementioned plastic baggies, loose in drawers and in heaps for too long now. It has been a frustrating few days digging through the heaps and piles and clutter but it was so worthwhile!

Earlier today, I walked past my studio and saw the afternoon sun streaming in onto the clean (ugly - but clean!) carpet and felt drawn to the space instead of repelled by it. Last night my daughter complained that she wants a room with 3 windows and my husband admitted rather ruefully that I've got the best room in the whole house for my studio. It may be that all the stuff in there is going to have to start earning its keep this year or my family will start trying to encroach upon my creative territory!

Time to put a small person to bed and finish my bead reorganization project. I need to order some beads for a class I am teaching next Tuesday at the St.Lawrence County Arts Council and I need to get a good look at what I do and don't have enough of by tomorrow.

beginning Take it Further challenge

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December was a short and difficult month - there simply wasn't enough time to get all of the things done that I needed to do and none left over for blogging. Today life is almost back to normal after another week of sickies in the house and two days of 30 below temperatures in Almost Canada, NY. This has been a true old fashioned winter around here. When it isn't 30 below zero, it is snowing. We have more snow here than we have had in the last 5 winters combined. I took ashes out to the garden this morning and sunk up to my thighs in the show! many people are complaining but I am really enjoying it - it feel like a return to my childhood in the '70's when we went sledding and built snow forts in the huge heaps of snow left by the plows. If it is going to be cold, there might as well be snow! I'm not sure I would want a return to the winters of the '40's and '50's that my Dad experienced, though. He tells stories of digging a tunnel from the house to the barn and being able to step over the telephone wires on his way to school, the snow was so high in Colton some winters.

I've been cleaning out my studio/the dog's lair and coming across many old projects that need to be ditched, lots of forgotten supplies and a serious organization challenge. I took some "before" photos which I will probably be too ashamed to post and plan to take some "after" photos when I'm finally done ... maybe today?? I definitely need lots of new bins, big and small and I need to let some stuff go. Recently I read a quote by Suze Ormond on an artist's blog site that said; "If you are not making the money in your life that you think you should be making, if you have debt, if you cannot save a penny, I am willing to bet that clutter is standing smack in the middle of what you have today and what you could have tomorrow." Well, that's me. I'm just not productive enough because I am too busy trying to get through the clutter in my house and my life. So this year, I am trying to be more purposeful and organized about the things I keep, the activities I choose and the work I do.

Here's a list of the things I plan to work on in the next few days and weeks:

- - Two pieces of Round Robin fabric. As noted in one of my first posts, I'm participating in a complex cloth round robin and I'm behind. I now have two wildly different pieces of fabric waiting for my attention in my studio. One of them will get a layer of dye. One of them will probably have some dye discharged. Photos to come when I get the studio clean.

- - Sharon Boggon's Take It Further Challenge which starts this month. Each month Sharon will post a theme and a color scheme for stitchers and other artists to work with. Participants post their progress on their blogs and/or on the Flickr site for the group. The challenge theme and color scheme have only been up for a few days and already there is a great deal of excitement and interest. It is going to be fascinating to watch all of these artists work through their various concepts and goals during this challenge. One funny thing - for our anniversary, my husband and I bought new sheets and a comforter set for our bed in a color scheme that just happens to match the scheme for January perfectly. I hadn't seen the challenge page yet so it was a bit surreal to see my new bedroom colors posted up on Sharon's site yesterday!

- - Some new polymer clay beads and magnets. I've been planning to make some face beads and magnets for several months now and just haven't got to it yet. My friend, Hilary, who is also my boss at the Arts Council has been looking for some ceramic face beads for several months now with no success so I thought that it would be nice to make her some polymer beads for planning and practice. They were going to be a Christmas gift but if I hurry, she might get them in time for 3 Kings Day! Also as I was preparing for Studio Tour this year, I opened an old box of beads and came across the one remaining Transformation bead from a set I made two summers ago. I had forgotten how much I loved these beads and how much fun they are to make. I posted the one left on Etsy and want to make some more in different colors to go with it. Maybe I'll play with Sharon's green, gold and purple color scheme on some of these.

I also have several Alchemy Scarves to iron and edge as well as a beaded bracelet and brooch in progress. Beading is a good activity for 30 below weather when one is sick. I like to sit by the Fisher stove with a plate of beads in my lap and play with new techniques and projects. That way I still feel productive but I am not working on anything that I can ruin while I'm muzzy headed and slow.

It is now time to get everyone dressed and get the day moving in a purposeful way. The 3 year old is still sick and snotty in nose and attitude so it looks like a fun day around here!
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