Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

It's that time of year...time for costumes and candy...and a little 'witch'-crafting!!

Here's the 'witch'-craft banner I created with the rubber stamps...

Or should I say "wish"-crafting...Did I happen to mention...?

I DID IT! I mailed my last payment for the Artful Journey Retreat taking place in Santa Cruz next February and I know it will be here in no time!

I love magic...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Things I Like to Make - Mitts!

I LOVE to knit MITTS!!!

Also known as fingerless gloves or hand-warmers, I have really grown to love knitting these little beauties up and have designed a few pairs to boot:

I designed this pair of multi-color with cable...I have been working on making this pattern available but need someone who might like to try it out to see if the instructions are easy to follow...

This pair is black with 'fur' yarn trim...

I made these using a Noro silk and wool yarn...

I mixed an orange merino with raspberry mohair to create fun stripes...

...and these are red with 'fun fur' mitts...

Yes, I do love knitting mitts, so much that many of my fellow knitters know me as "The Mitt Mistress"!

One of the above pair of mitts will be included in the "bag of goodies" giveaway for the Joy Doll project. I also need to announce the Special Guest Judge for this first giveaway and the Special Guest Judge is...(drum roll here!):

The judge is none other than my own 'Wise Woman', Janet! She has agreed to view the final Joy Doll entries and we hope to have a winner by next Wednesday November 4.

Remember to submit pictures and a link if you are posting your pictures on your blog. I will have a round-up of links and re-post your pictures for the final viewing =-) You can find the e-mail address in the sidebar!

Hope you're having a great Friday wherever you are!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Things I Like to Make - T-shirt Scarves

I thought I'd share another thing I like to make - recycled t-shirt scarves!

I got this idea after seeing a scarf at a shop one day that was made of various t-shirts cut into several squares. The mix of t-shirts was not very color coordinated and the squares were all the same size. I really liked the concept but the execution seemed to be lacking, at least for me...

I am very into color coordination so I thought a scarf made with colors in a similar family would look nicer and making the squares different sizes would create some visual interest. It took a few years before I made some time to work out my theories, but I finally did work them out as you can see here:

I simply cut the squares and did not finish the edges, so after washing the edges tend to curl nicely, lending even more visual interest...

I've made a few of these scarves for friends as gifts and here are two scarves in my personal fashion arsenal...

Needless to say, the winner of the Joy Doll give-away will receive one these treats in the bag of goodies! I have other colors available and am thinking of cutting some graphic t-shirts in future to play with - I'll keep you posted!

In the meantime, here is my Joy Doll so far!

I will have her finished by Saturday, but may not be able to post pictures until Monday after the holidays taking place this weekend. How is progress going on the other dolls out there? Anyone feeling stuck?? Or just running out of time like me?!? I really can't wait to see them all - Good luck!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Only Three Days Left...

...Until the end of Blogtoberfest...I still have blogs to visit!

...Until Halloween, my favorite holiday because it's all about costumes! Though it bears a striking resemblance to the next two items...

...Until "Samhain" (pronounced sow-wen), the Celtic New Year and the time when the veil between this world and the Otherworld is at it's thinnest. You can read more about it here...

...Until Dia De Los Muertos generally known as 'Day Of the Dead', a time to honor the memory of loved ones. You can learn more about it here...

...And only three days left before the end of the Joy Doll Project...YIKES!! I've got to get crackin' on finishing MY Joy Doll!

Always remember: Three is the Magic Number! ;)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Things I like to make - Affirmation Cards

If you haven't seen Tinniegirl's amazing new item, "Messages From The Universe", go look at them here. They are really great!

I thought it was quite a coincidence that she posted this great new item on Sunday, since that was approximately the day I was photographing my own affirmation cards that I call "The Basics". I created these little affirmation cards many, MANY years ago and they were inspired by the artist SARK, who has written many books on being an artist and being creative. I have Inspiration Sandwich and A Creative Companion and in one of them she wrote about creating affirmation cards by hand using rag paper, bright colors and then tying them together with bright string. I don't know what messages she used but she only made about 1000.

I was so taken by that idea of hand-making affirmation cards and I thought I could make some of my own, creating them to delight me and use messages that were so simple, they could be three words long. I knew there were affirmation cards in the market already but not many that you could actually tuck into your pocket, which is another thing I really wanted.

I made mine from brown cardboard that is easily found and cut them to 2" by 1 1/2" cards. I then hand wrote the messages and added simple symbolic artwork and sewed little muslin bags with colored 1/8" ribbon to tie each batch up portfolio-style.

Here is what they look like:

I have made many of these little cards through the years and sold or given them away and they always get an enthusiastic response. A set of these will be part of the big "Bag of Goodies" giveaway for the Joy Doll Project...

When I am able to open my etsy shop, I plan on selling these little gems - would you consider buying them for yourself or your friends?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Making business cards...

I mentioned being quite busy during the weekend and here are some of the fruits of my labors: my business cards handmade by yours truly...

I created a basic template back in the mists of time before there was a program on Microsoft to make business cards from your computer (am I dating myself here??!?) and I would make copies onto cardstock paper at my local copy shop. Then I would cut them and try to center the cuts as best as possible but when I had an idea to rubber stamp the cards to make each one a mini artwork, I no longer cared if the cuts were centered since the rubber stamps could be worked in to 'fill in the gaps' as you will see...

Going from a whole page to cut pieces...

They are now cut and ready for rubber stamping!

Time for a much needed cup of tea for a sore throat while happily rubber stamping cards...

No two batches are ever the same...Here are the finished cards...pick a card, any card!

When I hand out my business cards I ask the recipient to choose one that resonates with them. One fellow I did this with had commented that it felt like choosing a tarot card! Funny he would say that since I am intrigued by the Tarot...most folks like choosing though they do say it can be hard to decide!

I know I could use a business card computer template or have them professionally printed, especially since I also hand-write my blog address on the back of each card, but I like being hands-on at this time and it's fun to see how each batch really does look differently. I'll probably look into getting a rubber stamp made of my hand-written blog address to use on the back of the cards to make that part of the process go a little faster =-)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

So much to create, so little time...

It's been a hectic weekend trying to get creations finished, started or photographed! If only I could work a 4-day week and have an extra day for creating...(wistful sigh here).

I have managed to accomplish quite a bit, if I do say so myself, and will share pictures next week of what's been cooking in my workroom...

I hope you've been having a creative weekend!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Art in my home - wood sculpture

Since I'll be busy all day Saturday (and probably Sunday!) I thought I'd share some work I've created in the past during my 'art school' days...

I had gone back to community college with the thought that I would transfer to a four-year to get a degree in Fine Art. I worked with a great teacher who helped me create this wood sculpture. It's been many years since I created this box and, unfortunately, it's usually stored away to keep it from damage.

I took these photos recently because I had the idea (again!) of going to a four-year to get my degree in Fine Art and I thought of going to Oregon College of Art and Craft. I was working on a portfolio to submit and wanted to include this art piece.

OCAC is an amazing college and amazing work is created by the students there and Portland is a fantastic city filled with many creative folks. I've reconsidered going to this school since I already do much of what I would like to learn which is bookbinding and I'm learning it here at home for a lot less money! But I do hope to move to Portland one day...

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Joy Doll, so far...

Can you believe there are only 8 days left of Blogtoberfest?? What a great month it's been and there are still so many sites to visit of the many participants in this fantastic event!

In the meantime, I thought I'd post a picture of how far along I am on my own Joy Doll Project. I found this knitted doll pattern on a trip to Portland, Oregon last summer where a wonderful knitting shop called Knit/Purl was just across the street from the hotel my dear boyfriend and I were staying in! Can you believe he planned that for me?? He thought I might like being close to a knitting shop during our time in Portland - isn't he wonderful?!?

I will be spending time this weekend stitching and stuffing this little doll, along with collecting and photographing goodies for the giveaway prize. I also have a guest judge planned and I will announce that next week.

ALL PARTICIPANTS: I have an e-mail address you can send your Joy Doll pictures to which is:

thecreativebeast (at) gmail (dot) com

Please send pictures to the e-mail address by October 31, 2009 along with your address for a final review of the Joy Dolls. They will be forwarded to the guest judge for impartial judging - I've already seen one completed doll and I can tell the judging process might be hard for me!

If you are posting the pictures on your site, let me know and I'll have a round-up of links for general viewing!

Many thanks to the participants in my first follow-along project - I appreciate you playing along with me and I can't wait to see all finished dolls!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My comfy chair...

Many thanks to readers who have sent well wishes after my post the other day and feeling 'blah'...I really appreciate it!

I am feeling better health-wise but still feeling a little low in spirits which I'm sure is due to my return to work. It's not easy to be in a place where you are not truly valued for who you are and what you do. Thankfully, I've been receiving wonderful messages of encouragement from new readers who have stopped by as many of us participate in Tinniegirl's Blogtoberfest.

Also, I'll be feeling better after I have session with my wonderful Life Coach, Pete Lee, which takes place this evening and in this chair...

Yes, this is the chair where healing and dreaming takes place! I can't wait for this evening...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A few updates...

I took some time to play with the blog format during my vacation especially since my dear boyfriend is a web designer and he has offered to help me make my little blog look really good. I haven't made any big changes but I did add a link in the side bar to the original post regarding the Joy Doll. I have also created a special e-mail address where you can send pictures for the final judging process and here it is:

(typed strangely to avoid spam!)

I will add it to the sidebar for anyone who would like to send me an e-mail instead of leaving a comment though comments are open to anyone - I've made sure to adjust the settings and allow anyone to leave a comment. I didn't realize that I had not done that correctly, which explains why some friends were unable to leave comments before now - sorry about that!

Self Portrait of sorts...

"red shoes on grey concrete" by The Creative Beast

I'm feeling a little blah lately but that is probably due to the fact that I'm getting over a touch of head cold given to me by my dear boyfriend. Before our vacation was over he got his head cold and then I got a little of it, but only a little. I started feeling unwell on Saturday night but was feeling better after some soup last night and I'd probably be feeling even better except:

  1. I had to come back to work
  2. I had a cricket roaming my home making a racket with his 'singing'

I'm sure I'll be feeling my usual creative self by Thursday.

In the meantime I thought I'd post a picture since I haven't posted pictures for awhile. I took this one in the neighborhood I'm currently working in, wearing a favorite pair of shoes. I love oxfords and I love these red oxfords and I'm always surprised by the number of compliments I get when I wear these shoes...maybe I should have worn them today to give myself a lift of spirits.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Boy in the Run-Away Ballon - Revisited

I am taking a tip from Chunky Chooky's list of things to blog about if you are running out of steam during this Blogtoberfest and decided to do a little rant...

I wrote about the whimsical qualities of the Boy in the Run-Away Balloon last week soon after watching the balloon drift happily to nowhere and then touch down gently back onto terra firma, glad for what I thought was a happy ending...

Unfortunately, it seems the whole thing was a hoax created by the parents as a gimmick to get themselves a reality TV show of their own since being featured on "Wife Swap"
TWICE was not enough fame for them! I think one can safely say that both appearances add up to more than their fair share of 15 minutes of Fame. Wow. Are people so attention starved that they would resort to crazy stunts to get a TV show of their own? It does look that way doesn't it?

Living in Los Angeles, or La La land as many like to call it, I see many folks who are looking for as much attention as they can get, while I am usually just trying to mind my own business and not draw attention to myself. True, I do some performance art here, but performance art is not looked upon very highly in this town, which is really a shame since much of what I see is thoughtful or thought-provoking and it's work created by artists, but 'thoughtful' and 'thought-provoking' are words that are not usually associated with celebrities and being celebrated is what it's all about in this town. Fighting for attention seems to create a lot of insecurity, which of course begets crazy behavior such as that of the Heene family. It's really pretty sad to witness sometimes.

I do wish people would work more toward being authentic instead of being so self-absorbed and self-serving. It makes for a happier, joy filled person if you ask me...maybe the Heene family should create a set of Joy Dolls for themselves and learn how satisfying it is to make something with your own hands. I think it could be a great step toward learning to be authentic!

On that note: I've seen one doll that is finished already! Actually it's two dolls and they are cute as can be - check them out here! And feel free to follow along with this project - it's okay if you haven't left a comment to state you're joining but if you want to win the "bag of goodies" it will help me to know how many participants I can expect by the end date which is October 31, 2009.
Thanks for joining in the fun!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Joy Doll Update...

I've been busy knitting at my own "Joy Doll Project" while I've been on vacation this past week and I'm nearly done with knitting all the parts. I hope to share pictures soon when I am able to take a few decent shots with good lighting.

I am so excited to be knitting this doll pattern instead of sewing a doll - it's a nice change of pace for me and challenging to knit something other than scarves and mitts. Mitts are my favorite thing to knit and they come in handy working in a cold office where you do typing most of the day. I will be sure to share pictures of some of my favorite mitts - many of them are designed by me and I may include a pair in the "bag of goodies" for the Joy Doll give-away.

How is everyone progressing on their Joy Doll projects? I can't wait to see the final results!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wild Things and Wild Costumes...

The movie "Where The Wild Things Are" was released yesterday in theatres but I have to say I have no memory of reading it in my youth . I do love children's literature and have a small collection of amazing stories with beautiful artwork but this book had not made it into my world until this afternoon when I had an opportunity to skim through it at the book section of Best Buy...cute story but I can see how the artwork really plays a part in the telling of the tale.

What the movie does invoke for me is fond memories of working with amazing artists during my time in costumes. I met so many people who were fantastically talented working on large scale costumes such as those I keep seeing in commercials for "Wild Things", people who did really detail-oriented work such as hair is what it entails:

punching individual strands of hair (usually synthetic) into latex to create a 'hairy face' or sometimes smaller items like a beard or mustache for makeup effects

It is incredibly detail-oriented and intensely tedious work and I had nothing but awe for the folks who did this work. I did hear some scuttlebutt about the costumes but I located this post from a costumer who was actually on the set doing what we call "refurb" work and you can read about it here. If I manage to see this film in theatres, it will be for the costumes, you can bet on that!

A Quote...

I have mentioned before that I love quotes and I generally share a favorite on Fridays so here is one for today:

"The Universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper"
- Eden Philpotts

Be on the lookout for magic during your weekend!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Boy in the Run-Away Balloon...

I've been wondering what to write about today and there was a story you may have already heard about but I thought I'd share it here anyway...

It's the story of the Boy and the Run-Away Balloon - a 6 year old boy was suspected of being in a hand-built mylar balloon that accidentally got released. The balloon was likely going to be used for weather tracking but wound up on an adventure instead. Here is one source for viewing the entire story on video here.

Something about this story as it unfolded struck me as quite whimsical, though I know it could have been very dangerous if the boy had in fact actually been inside the balloon. Maybe it was the way the balloon was drifting in the sky or maybe it was the way one of many newscasters covering the story said:

"The boy in the run-away balloon..."

It sounded like a children's story book. I'm very glad this story did have a happy ending and the boy was found unharmed.

I wonder how long it will be until someone writes a children's book or a movie about it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Back in town but still on vacation!

I'm back in town after a few days in Ventura for the Scottish Highland Games and some sightseeing in Santa Barbara and Ojai. I thought I'd be back in time to post for the 13th but I guess I missed a day - oops!

I will share some pictures and maybe even some video I took with my little camera during one of the bagpipe parades that took place at the games sometime next week.

In the meantime I'm going to continue work on my own joy doll, which I am challenging myself to knit. Since it's been raining these last few days, knitting is just the thing to do while staying indoors with a good cup of tea...happy creating wherever you are!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Art Skirt...

The banner picture I'm currently using for this blog is a photo of an "art skirt" I made for a performance art piece I created and titled "Lengua Ephemera".

The artistic director of the organization I was working with to create this piece challenged me to create a unique garment, since she was familiar with my sewing work. The performance piece is about language, or rather, not speaking certain languages...

The short story behind this piece is that I am a Latina who does not speak Spanish, but it does get complicated - another story for another day!

I knew I could create a special garment that would allow me to use simple words I knew and words that held meaning for me: community, integrity, art, happiness...

My performance included dancing since I consider dance to be one of my primary means of communicating. Many people in the audience of this performance were quite enchanted with this skirt since the word pieces would flutter as a breeze came into the space during my "moments of stillness".

The word pieces are a great example of your media not working with you but making for a happy accident. I used photo transfer paper and I tested ironing a few words on a few sample fabric tabs. I realized that they were ironing onto the fabric backwards! However, I was using a fine linen fabric and the words could be seen correctly if I turned the fabric over. This worked out best in the end because the black ink on the cream linen was really too harsh, but turned over it made for a lovely "ephemera" haze. I occasionally wear this skirt at special art functions and I always get nice compliments...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Art in my home - Dining room

Taking some time to share artwork I've created that is in my home. This is a mixed media collage that hangs on the wall of my little dining area...

The 'frame' is actually crate packaging for a computer that was shipped to an office I worked for many years ago. I thought it would make a great base for a 3-dimensional collage. I included many found bits of nature from my many walks in my neighborhood, found or purchased metal objects and postcards that had a nostalgic feel. I really love sepia tones and this piece is no exception. You will find sepia tones in a LOT of my collage art...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tools of my trade - Collage Art

mixed media for creating a collage gift for a friend who recently bought a home

I'd thought I'd share some other "tools of the trade" today - collage making tools...

heart stickers, vintage photo, bubble alphabet stickers, vintage check draft from 1885 , key stickers

I love collage and am inspired by the grand-daddy of collage artists: Joseph Cornell. I have a few books about his work and really love the "Pharmacy" box series. If you want to learn more about his work, explore this cool website I just discovered - it seems there is a new craft book where you can simulate creating one of his boxes! I will have to find a way to buy this new book...

vintage photos, vintage postcard photos of homes, vintage barrel keys, scrapbook paper of 'wood'

Okay, back to my tools. I use lots of paper ephemera to create my collage work such as vintage photos, old paperback books in foreign languages, old foreign currency, vintage postcards, scrapbook papers, images from magazines...I think you're getting the picture.

vintage paperback book in Spanish language, stickers, photos and my trusty portable typewriter

I like to add quotes or simple sentences to my collages, if I think it fits. I usually use my portable typewriter to type out the words and sometimes cut the words to paste them individually since they might have to fit into strange corners of the work. I generally make a mix of water and glue and decoupage the papers to the surface of whatever I am working on. For this project, I am going to try to collage onto a 12"x12" canvas. We'll see how it turns out!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Follow-along Craft Project: Joy Doll!

Hello everyone!

The first craft assignment of this blog, should you choose to accept it, will be to create a doll around the theme of "JOY"!

Before I give the details of how this will work (and I hope it works!) here is how the idea came about:

A few months back I attended a concert with my friend Margarita, who I mentioned in my last post as the recipient of the "pill box". She and I REALLY needed something to get us out of our respective funks we had each been experiencing and this concert to see Cafe Tecuba was definitely what we needed!

Everyone was having a great time and I was a little bummed that I had not brought my camera with me because it was so great to see everyone dancing and yelling and singing along. I just wanted to take pictures of all the happiness and joy around me, everyone so happy to be there. All I kept thinking was this:

There is still JOY in the world

The next day, Margarita called to thank me for coming to the concert with her and I thanked her for inviting me to come along! We were each lamenting the lack of joy happening in our lives during that time when it occurred to me how we could find a way to keep the memory of joy with us. Margarita has made beautiful porcelain dolls in the past and I have made rag dolls so I thought we could each make a doll to represent "joy" that we could use as a touchstone to remind us that "There is still JOY in the world".

So now I am inviting you to join in and create your own doll of "JOY"! Here are the guidelines:
  • Your doll may be made of ANY media/material you choose: rag doll, porcelain doll, mixed media/found object doll, recycled doll, paper doll, knitted or crocheted doll
  • It can be a boy, girl, animal, biomorphic shape, or magical creature that you feel best embodies the spirit of "JOY"
  • It may be the size you feel would work best - large to contain all the joy in the world, small to carry with you in your purse/pocket as a daily reminder that "there is still JOY in the world", or any size in-between
  • Let the "spirit of JOY" be anything that feels joyful to YOU: maybe it's music that brings joy, or words, colors, artwork or expression of a feeling

The project begins TODAY! You will have until October 31, 2009 to complete and submit a picture of your finished product. I will be sure to have an e-mail address posted on my blog before that date where you can send pictures. I will choose a winner by November 4, 2009.

I will giveaway a "bag of goodies" - a fun bag filled with things I've made (knitted, collaged and sewn) and possibly yarn or fabric from my stash to inspire creative goodness! I will be MORE than happy to ship ANYWHERE in the world! It will be so fun to walk into the post office and say something like:

"I'll need postage for Bora Bora, please"!

Please leave a comment to let me know you are participating so I have an idea of how many folks I'm hosting for this little party ;)

Just so you know, I will NOT be making a rag doll though I do make a lot of them; I'm going to challenge myself to knit a doll from a pattern I bought last summer that is very cute and, I think, quite fitted for this project

Thanks for joining in the fun!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Gifts I've Made - "Pill Box"

I am officially on vacation by the time this posts! I thought I would prepare some items for the blog in anticipation of my time away. Today I will share a special gift I made for a dear friend last was a "pill box".

vintage pill box found at Pasadena City College flea market

I have a dear friend that I met during my time sewing costumes all over Los Angeles and her name is Margarita. She has experienced some difficulties in her life recently and I felt she needed some soul food and reminders to rest, meditate and laugh.

I had purchased a vintage pill box at the Pasadena flea market a few years back intending to create something with it and the time had finally come to work with this item. The box has an old label with the instructions take the pills in this manner: "one as directed for pain".

I had the idea to create "pills" of quotes that could be pulled out and looked at when needed for a little lift of the spirits. I found a series of quotes that were either inspiring, thoughtful or funny and I typed them on the computer and made a few print-outs on pink paper so I could cut them all to size to fit the box. I made sure to have a few extra copies in case the cutting went haywire, even though I tried to leave lots of space between quotes.

pill box filled with "quote pills" that are inspiring, thoughtful or funny - take as needed for soul food!

I then carefully glued one of the edges to little cocktail toothpicks, the kind that have nice ends with extra ridges so there would be something to grab to pull out the "pill". It was a small area to cover but it worked! I then rolled each quote pill into a tight roll so I could fit an even dozen into the box. It was a tight squeeze but they did fit. I gave this to her along with some lovely yarn, since she is a knitter, to encourage her to take time for herself and knit something special with the yarn. She really enjoyed this gift and got a kick out of some of the funnier quotes:

"If a man says something, but there's no woman around to hear him, is he still wrong?"


"If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you"

But I made sure to include this quote:

"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book"
Irish proverb

Those Irish sure have the right I will be spending time at the Seaside Highland Games in Ventura, California this weekend and hope some of that Irish wisdom will rub off! At the very least, there will be lots of men in kilts to look at, especially my boyfriend - he looks great in a kilt!

Remember that I am planning a follow-along project - details coming!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Wise Woman Doll - IV

Hello dear reader!
It's time for the final chapter of the Wise Woman doll...

The Story of the Wise Woman Doll Gift - Part IV

Faith*, the young woman who gave a Wise Woman doll to her mother Miriam would be coming back to see me and bring the "family pillow" for me to refurbish. A few days after Faith and Miriam came to my home I received a letter in the mail and it was written by Faith. Here is what it said:

August 7, 1996

Dear "Creative Beast",

I just wanted to let you know that it was really nice to finally meet you. I couldn't go into detail while my mom was there...but I guess the reason why I wanted to write to you was to thank you for giving me the doll that seemed to fill a place in my heart that was pretty empty at that particular time in my life. The day I bought the doll I was not in the mall to actually buy something. I was passing the time away to get up the guts to see my mom in the hospital. Normally, I'm not hospital-shy or even afraid of death per say, but my mom's condition was heart breaking to me. She has been through so much in her life already - I couldn't believe this had been given to her to deal with as well. Anyway, I strolled the mall and when I walked into 'Uniquities'** the Wise Woman cuaght my eye. I felt it was kind of there to tell me that if any one could handle this situation a strong woman can. Which situation am I speaking of? To this day I don't know. Did I buy the doll to give me strength or to give my mom strength? Anyway, she put it on her hospital bed and the rest is history. Honestly, I think she thought it was a strange gift at first. But as more people commented and the more she sat with it she really grew to have quite a bit of affection for it.

I think it's so ironic that she is the one to have gotten in touch with you first. She was so thrilled when she called and told me she had found you. It was so cute! Anyway, thank you again for putting the doll in that store because I found a huge amount of comfort in it. Every second you put into making it was worth it. All the dolls are great and I'm sure everyone that buys them gets as much pleasure out of them as my mom and I.

I will be getting in touch with you very soon and bringing my pillow to you. Actually it's known as "The Big Pillow". It's been a part of my family forever and it sure does look like it!

Thank you Again

Warm Regards,

here is the actual letter - this is a meaningful memento worth saving =-)

It had finally come. The letter I was told about so many months ago that I thought didn't exist. I was excited to have met each of the women who had been touched by my creation and their presence was enough of a "letter" for me, but the actual letter was such a gift and I treasure it to this day.

It serves as a reminder that my skills and creations DO touch others in ways I'd never believed they could.

Sharing this story with you at this blog helps to reinforce this message for me =-)
Thank you so much for reading my story! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed sharing it.

I have been planning a follow-along project for some friends and I would like to open it up to new readers of my blog. If you're interested, I will be posting details of this project by the end of the week so stay tuned! it will involve making dolls =-)

* - names changed to protect privacy but if the ladies involved in this story happen to be reading this blog I would be happy to hear from you! =-)

** - the name of the store that sold my dolls, long since closed

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thank you!

This Blogtoberfest has been very exciting and I am so grateful to Tinniegirl for encouraging me to join in the fun. The list of participants is just HUGE! I don't know how I will get to visit them all in one month but I have been attempting to make the rounds. SO many creative souls writing about their process, or their ups and downs in trying to create - I just love seeing how much creativity is out there!

I read Tinniegirl's post made during the weekend while she was absorbing the results of the ever-growing list of participants and the feelings she was processing. It was interesting that in her part of the world she "put on some great soulful music and got busy in the studio" because I had been doing the very same thing the day before!

I was getting down AND getting down to work as I rediscovered the joys of the music of
Michael Franti. I especially had to listen to "Thank you" at least three times in a row. I'm not sure how to link music into a blog at this time but if you know of a place where you can listen to this song, go immediately and listen! and I DARE you to keep from dancing to this amazing song! FYI: I have a story about seeing Michael Franti sing for free TWICE in the same day! I will be sure to share it here sometime...

Participating in this Blogtoberfest event has been really wonderful because I have seen glimpses of folks who have had similar experiences to my own, in one way or another:

It has been so wonderful to read Pepper Stitches post about using unhappiness as a muse for creativity because I know I've sometimes felt like that.

It's been great to read at Shary Bobbins the frustration of a sewing machine that just won't cooperate with you because I've had days like that!

And I truly appreciated how open Pinkie Pirate is to other viewpoints on having children and how she expressed her concerns about teaching her family's culture to her super-adorable son because I have had experiences with not being as connected to my own culture, for better and for worse.

And these wonderful creative kindred spirits and others have stopped by to visit my blog and left the most wonderful comments about my dolls and toys! Thank you all so much for your enthusiasm about my work! It's really heartwarming to see and read =-)

It is also so wonderful how you are all embracing your true selves and being authentic. I just know the more we all do this the more it will encourage others to do the same and just think of what the world would be like if everyone was true and authentic...I don't know about you but I believe Michael Franti when he sings:

"All the freaky people make the beauty in the world"
from the song "Stay Human (All the Freaky People)"

Monday, October 5, 2009

A little her-story...

I spent some time on Sunday working on a few things for a designer I've worked with for many years, Phyllis.

Now, I've mentioned before that I have been sewing for many, many years. What I have not mentioned is where I have done some of this sewing. I live in a suburb of Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of America, so I have been fortunate enough to work as a seamstress in many places. Here's a list of the most prestigious:

Disney Imagineering

Jim Henson's Creature Shop
L.A Opera Costume Shop
Center Theatre Group Costume Shop

I've also worked at non-union shops and character creation shops that make "walk-around" characters, such as those you see at Disneyland. I had a LOT of fun at these jobs.

So, back to Phyllis - I met Phyllis many years ago when she lived around the corner from me and she has made a great career for herself: she designs for a lot of R & B and rock singers and often goes on tour with them. For instance, a few years ago she called me to help out backstage when she was working on Paul McCartney's "Back In the US" tour.

Phyllis has been a great support and a great inspiration for me. She has created an amazing creative work life for herself and sometimes I to get to assist her. She has also been very encouraging in regards to how I price my work:

"You do such great work and you're not charging enough for it. You can charge more than you do"

I have been working on this and have started to charge a little more for the work I do for other people, if it's custom clothing or simple alterations. I have Phyllis to thank for encouraging me to value the work I do. And I thank her for calling me to assist her in her projects - it's always fun work!

You know, looking back at my list of 'credentials' I'm realizing I should ABSOLUTELY be charging more for my sewing skills - it's not THAT easy to get into some those establishments!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Toys I've Made...

The other day I took time to peek at some of the blogs that have joined the Blogtoberfest hosted by Tinniegirl* and left a comment to thank Pinkie Pirate after a guest post made by her friend about being childless since I am also childless, by choice.

One thing about being childless that there wasn't room to comment about is that I have time to make so many things and of course that includes soft toys that I give as gifts for little folks that come into my life so I thought I'd share some pictures of toys I've recently made as gifts for friends and their little ones, or soon-to-be little ones!

doll for Brendan
I made this doll for Brendan, the son of my dear friend Lisa. He's a real cutie and Lisa was very happy when I presented this to her son; I think Brendan liked it too, though he was barely two years old when I gave it to him...

I've made rag dolls since I was a little girl, pretty much since my maternal grandmother taught me to sew by hand. I was never a Barbie fan so I always made my own rag dolls and sewed all their clothes. After my grandmother taught me to knit, I would knit a sweater or a scarf for my dolls. As you can see, I knitted a wool sweater for this doll and if you look closely you might be able to see the "zipper fly" I stitched on his little jeans!

This is a bear made for a co-worker whose wife was expecting but they were waiting for "the big day" to find out if it would be a boy or girl. Teddy bears are usually a good gift in cases like this so I made this bear from a cashmere sweater that I found at a thrift shop. It had a few small holes so I didn't feel too badly about cutting it up...

bear made from old cashmere sweater

I had taken an old toy pattern to a copy shop so I could scale the size down from 18" to at least half that size because the shape of the pattern was great but too big for my purposes and the original pattern asked for woven fabrics or fake furs. Using sweater knits instead of woven fabrics changed the dimensions in a nice way - the heads and tummies get very round and of course they are certainly more cuddly when made from a soft knit. Since this was a baby shower gift I also did a little rubber stamping for a unique gift bag...

rubber stamp of child face, alphabet stamps and some color pencil for rosy cheeks; text reads "It's a Baby"

The mother has mentioned to me quite frequently how much she loves this little bear and her new daughter also loves it!

I recently attended another baby shower for a couple who was waiting for "the big day" to learn if the baby would be a boy or girl. I decided to make a bunny this time using the same pattern - it was a basic body shape with different ears to make a bear, dog, cat or bunny. I used more sweaters found at thrift shops - the oatmeal color was a lambswool sweater that was accidentally washed and dried and shrank to child size. This type of sweater can be found quite frequently at thrift shops so they are great to cut up for projects like this.

lambswool body, embroidered face and hand knit scarf
I embroider all the faces on my soft toys since I think thread is better than using paints or buttons for eyes and I embroidered whiskers too. The mother-to-be was so happy with this gift and her shower was also a craft party where you got to decorate little onesies and baby t-shirts with fabric paints for her baby, which turned out to be a boy, named Nathaniel. It seems Nathaniel and one of his cousins had a great time playing with this bunny last week!

It's been great to make these one-of-kind gifts for friends and then hear about the little ones playing with them and enjoying them. I hope to be able to sell some of my dolls again in the future and I'm planning on opening a shop for all my creations at etsy. It might not be until next year but be on the lookout for the day I announce open shop!

* WOW! have you seen how many participants there are in this blog-fest??? I am so excited to be a part of it - thanks to Tinniegirl for hosting this amazing event and for inviting me to join!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A little post...

Just a quick post to note some little events of today:

I took another Vocal Dojo lesson today, though I didn't sign-up for the full 8 weeks. I'll be out of town next weekend and I'd planned on taking another book-binding class the following week and I didn't feel right about signing up for a class I'll be missing sessions on but the vocal instructor is very good and I hope he will teach again in the next round of classes offered

I stopped by my local art shop, Carter Sexton, to purchase some replacement markers so I can continue work on some small gift items I've made in the past and I'm recreating again - I may give away one of these little items before the end of the month! Stay tuned...

I did a little knitting on a project I hope to have completed in time for my trip next weekend - I'm really close to finishing!

Now, it's time for some dinner with the boyfriend, who was so sweet to run out and get it while I typed this little post. Hope your Saturday was a good one!

Friday, October 2, 2009

i love storytelling...

I LOVE storytelling!

So, naturally, I love StoryCorps and I hear it every Friday on my local public radio station, KCRW.

Today's story was about a young boy who was stealing books from a library but learning to love books and reading as he returned them after reading them. We all know you can check out books from the library but you MUST hear the whole story to find out what was behind the stealing. Listen to it here. I just love how it turns out the young boy is now a judge!

I also love this amazing new site that started as a blog: Storybird. I was told about this site by Jared Matthew Kessler, whom I met about a month ago and he told me about the blog and was sure I would like it - boy, was he was right!

It's a great idea: artists submit their illustrations and artwork to the site and people can use them to write stories of their own. The artwork I've seen is really amazing and some of the artists have etsy accounts so you can buy prints of their wonderful work. The blog recently went into open beta and many people have been creating stories on this site since it opened. This was a test story before the site opened. I really loved the artwork of Irisz Agocs and I was happy to see she has an etsy store so you can bet that I'll be buying an illustration or maybe some of the small notebooks they sell.

I can't end this post without mentioning the grand daddy of storytelling: This American Life

This radio show is so awesome, I can't begin to tell you so please go check them out for yourself! I find it fitting that this weeks episode is about books that change people's lives. It certainly did for the young boy who was stealing books from the library...

Do you have any favorite books that changed your life or got you through a difficult time in your life? Do you have a story from your life that you love sharing with others? I would love to hear about them!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Talent or Skill...?

I am making a bonus blog post for today because I took a peek at one of the participants in the Blogtoberfest, Chunky Chooky and read her profile story and I just had to write about it.

I am happy to see that Cath chose to work through the 'scars' she received at the hands of Miss Nash, the high school sewing teacher, and honor her own creativity and her own way of working. I have heard many stories of people having their creativity squashed by teachers and I find it upsetting because this is how people go into 'hiding' with their creativity, which I believe is much needed in the world. Many times, there are teachers who don't always see that every one works in different ways and therefore, learn differently.

I can say from personal experience that learning to sew, especially on a sewing machine, is a tricky business, and if you don't have a great teacher it can be a painful process. Then there are all the things about sewing a garment or small craft items to learn and it can be overwhelming.

I have been sewing for well over 30 years now and when people see things I've made they seem to always exclaim: "You are so talented! I could never do that." (wistful sigh here)

Well, my dears, actually, yes you can, but it will take time, patience and preserverence. In the course of my 30+ years behind the machine there was a time I stopped sewing ALTOGETHER for nearly two years because some of my things weren't coming out the way I wanted them to. Granted, I was following in what happened to be my great grandmothers footsteps (without my knowing it!) - family lore is that she could look at you, start cutting WITHOUT A PATTERN, sew the garment and like magic it would fit!

Unfortunately, some of that magic had gotten lost between generations. =-P

While I was on sewing hiatus though, I would look at clothes in the stores and I began to scrutinize them and look at the construction and see details I had not been aware of before. I slowly began to start working with these techniques I was observing and I began to get better results. Then someone told me about a community college that taught Fashion and Pattern Drafting and I enrolled at Los Angeles Trade Technical College to learn about pattern design and drafting so I could finally make better fitting clothing and costumes for myself.

It was a great program and I learned so much and my skills went from good to great and over time I think I can say they are pretty amazing. But it happened because I took time to learn about the craft of sewing and I took time to practice sewing. Yes, it helped that I went into that school with some good basic skills in sewing by hand and machine, but it also helped that I wanted to learn more and I wanted to be better. As the saying goes:

When the Student is ready the Master appears.

I applaud Chunky Chooky for her courage to choose her own creativity! The bag she is giving away is beautiful in it's mix of color, pattern and texture, which I love! Go see it here and send her congratulations on her courage AND her 100th blog post that will take place this month. =-)

Let the Festivities Begin!

Today begins the first day of Blogtoberfest, being hosted by Tinniegirl. I was reading her posts about it leading up to the sign-in and wondered if I should join in. It seems she was expecting me to join in the fun so I have managed to add the Blogtoberfest badge to my blog and I did it all by myself!!

This may not seem like a big deal to you but there are some days when I am a technological dork! In fact, I actually started a test blog just so I could get myself familiar with the Blogger system before I launched The Creative Beast - is that dorky or what??

Okay, so back to the festival. There are to be daily posts for the month of October and give-aways. I will have to sign-up for a give-away item when I have a few items to send out!

If you are new to my blog you can read my welcome letter which gives a general overview of what I hope to accomplish in this space. I do have a follow-along project I've been thinking of for awhile now and it looks like this is a good month and event to launch it!

You might also want to catch up on the serial story I started, "The Story of the Wise Woman Doll Gift", here, here and here.

I am so excited to be participating! I hope I can manage to blog every day this month...