PLEASE be respectful of the artist. Our souls are in our work. The art featured here is NOT to be exploited or copied. Each original piece is photographed from the experimental stages to the end product, sealed and copyrighted by dates. Reference to other artists are for the purposes of good publicity and customer discovery. They too make a living from their hearts. Please respect that and enjoy the content for what it is. Sharing and discovery of originality and beauty.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sleep lessons...

I need them.  Sleep lessons.  I am the type of person that will go to bed at a decent hour only to wake up every hour to play candy crush and listen to audio books until another hour of braindead takes over.  I can't, for the life of me, just stay asleep.  I wonder if it contributes to my creativity and overall awesomeness or if my sleep button is just an idiot.  I prefer the more romantic explanation
That being said, I have been a crochet fool.  While I love my bullets more than pie, it always seems to be the norm to see more hats going out the door in the winter months than bullets.  Go figure.  I guess one follows the money and hopes to be discovered sooner or later.  I assume this is why movie stars are discovered waiting tables.  I am simply waiting tables until I catch the eye of some shopper with an eye for recycle art and love for the smell of black powder. Until then, why not try to talk someone into a crochet top hat?

Grandma goes steampunk?  Whatever.  The whole idea is fun and gives me variety from the run-of-the-mill pageboys, beanies, and flappers.  Don't get me wrong, I love them too, but dadblammit, I love to see a little adult variety in the snow.  I say adult because every kid on the planet has a bear head hat someplace.  Old news.  Move over kids, its adult fun time.  
If you want to see more hats, They are in my shop at  

Admittedly, I took a break yesterday and experimented with some cording I got from a friend in a random package of fun.  Another friend had sent me a photo of a necklace that she enjoyed, made from a different (less pretty) cording.  I took it as a challenge to try to replicate.  The picture is lame, my camera is old and cheap...but much like that sad old lady that sits at the end of the bar at the local tavern, it just wouldn't be the same if it wasn't, the camera stays and all the photos taken with it look dreamy and surreal.  Yeah.  Surreal.  Anyhoo....

It's fine, though I see glue and that tends to bug me.  I'm not a perfectionist by any means, I just struggle with shabby chic looking too shabby.  We won't explore the back side of the necklace.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Crochet tophat winter outfit

I have a lot of people enjoying my crochet winter tophat and they think its really neat, but the question has been asked...or rather, the statement made, "I have no idea what to wear it with."  While steampunk and victorian dress can be very over the top, it is possible to incorporate the fun bits into your every day without too much trouble, while still occasionally turning a head with your blatant awesome without attacking everyone at the mall with BLATANT awesome.  I tried to demonstrate by making a collection of simple pieces of clothing to make an everyday steam-victorianesque outfit, complete with a warm coat and my handmade crochet tophat (Hello Buffalo, NY right now---amiright?).  Just to be extra sassy, I included a pair of my earrings to top it off.  Sassy, and...I really love those earrings right now.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Tales from around the art studio

Wow.  A whole summer has flown by and where have I been?
To be honest, I don't remember.  Well, I do...there was some drama that is very un-artsy like and  not something that adoring fanfare would really care about anyway.  Even my store suffered.  *sadface*
Now that the first snowfall has hit and the cooping up has begun, I will thrill you stuff.  Get excited.  Basically, I have earrings, necklaces, and newly added to the thrall, vintage-inspired crochet hats.  Bask in the yarn, bullets and wire.  I shall see you soon.  Until then, visit the store.  Lots of new bits and pieces to browse through and enjoy.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Here comes the sun, doo dee dooo dee...

I have the back door open. I HAVE THE BACK DOOR OPEN!!!!!

After CNN has ranked the area as the coldest ever, to have the back door open is like...well its just amazing.  About this time of year, we are all so cooped completely up we can't stand ourselves or anyone else.

Goals for the spring:

-Still working on getting the house I want.  If its meant to be, it will be.  Until then, I am a Pinterest junkie.
-Studio.  No matter where I end up, the time has come that it will be mandatory for me to create a space for my work.  The shop is doing very well and my name is getting out there.  I even turned down a commission yesterday.   I don't know.  Having someone tell me what they want instead of me randomly picking my own supplies and putting them together the way I want seems to steal something from me.  So, I'm a dramatic moody artist.  I'm doing this to be happy, not to be a craft machine.
- Food forest.  I should probably elaborate on this on my personal blog.  I have a pretty elaborate plan that includes several food trees and a weekly educational situation explaining the importance and simplicity behind sustainability.  I'll go there...over there :)
-Official copyright.  Over and above the postdated and sealed photos of my work, I need to invest in a real legal, documented copyright for the Steambug line.  This is really important to me.  While the methods I am using now will hold up in court, I just really want something in my hand declaring my work as mine.  I've worked hard for this.

In other news, I finished 2 lachrymatories today and listed them under the Victorian-Inspired section of the shop.  I have 3 needle cases curing and hopefully, they will be ready to go by Monday for the big order going out to New York.  I'm strating to get a really nice following under my Google + account-- with a real interest in my work, which is super exciting.  I've also reached  well over 500 "likes" on my fanpage.  Maybe my wasted years as a studio art student wasn't in vain after all... :)
Lastly, Old West in the Hills is all coming together for our first official festival.  This has got to be the biggest thing I have ever been in on and I am really hoping it goes well our first year.  If you are in the mood to shake off the winter blahs in an old west town this June and you are in the Eau Claire area, bring the kids to our festival.  Lots of games, stories, demonstrations, skits, wagon rides, prizes.  All within a cool old western town.  If you are familiar with the SASS and WOWS organizations, rest assured that there will be no live ammo or firearms at the festival.  If interested in a club demonstration, we will have video example or you can visit the websites.

Well, regardless all the good stuff, I still have a day job to do with work waiting for me.  So I'm off.  Here's to a great year thus far.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Lets talk

Everyone has a talent.  I truly believe this.  Some are more apparent than others, but everyone has that one gift that makes them amazing. Everyone.  No exceptions.  No one walks this earth mediocre.  Each of us are miraculous living beings living complex lives, impacting others in subtle complex ways.  There are no mistakes.  I am convinced of it.

I love to solve problems, create things, make things.  I love my individuality and I am not ashamed of it anymore.  Not like when I was young and judged by my peers who found it to be easier to conform to the whims of society, their parents, the school, then to explore things for themselves.  Looking back onto those days that I felt inadequate, I realize my inadequacy was fostered by jealousy.  It may have been unrealized by my peers, who felt that random meanness was justified.  An unconscious attempt on their part to turn me around and make me a useful asset to the established norm.   I don't know.  As much as I hated myself for being different, I simply could not conform.  Something kept me loving what I loved despite the meanness.  I wasn't a rebel.  I wasn't trying to be edgy or different or revolutionary.  I just simply was existing as myself and was incapable of doing otherwise.

A friend of mine posted this article about a fellow artist who puts her heart out into the world for all to see in hopes of getting closer to her dreams.  She does this because she simply cannot be anyone but herself.  She does not post because she feels superior.  She posts because she needs to.  She needs to remind herself and others that there is more to this world than a gray factory existence, that she has something to contribute and in order to make a living from her talent, she has got to put herself out there into the public.  This project I found deeply touching.  Obviously, her purpose and destiny is to bring awareness to this cold, anonymous, mean-spirited world.
Anonymous Messages

Having experienced this myself while trying to make a living from what I love and exposing myself to the anonymity of the interwebs in order to achieve this desire, I feel especially kindred to her cause.   When first trying to establish my etsy store, I was going from one project to another just trying to find my place.  I had no idea what to charge for what I created or to describe it.  Sometimes I would sell a hat for 20$, sometimes 50 or 60, sometimes auctions would only bring me 5 or 10$.  I was learning.  The only thing that I could boast that was extraordinary, was the fact that everything I made was patternless and unguided.  The concept itself was not my own, but the creation of it was completely random.  As I started advertising myself, I suddenly was confronted by a fellow crochet artist who obviously was running a very successful business.  Via Facebook, she publicly questioned my prices and belittled my work, further accusing me of "stealing" her ideas.

At first, I tried very hard to be an adult about the whole thing, simply asking her why she would say something so nasty for no reason.  I further admitted that I was new at this and thanked her for the advice, promptly going over my store and setting what I assumed was more reasonable prices.
She wrote back, chastising my price changes, further belittling me for stealing her ideas and ended her message with, "Oh, and you are ugly."

Whoa!  What?  I am a grown up person, being teased by another grown up person over an idea that is blanketed over the internet for anyone to look at and try.  Frankly, I behaved wrongly.  I have such a temper that it wasn't long before I simply stooped to her level, finally having to block any more messages from coming in because I suddenly was in junior high with a circle of bullies around me, crying and feeling inadequate and helpless.  The only difference was, I was the only one in the room feeling this way.

Possibly I was raised differently, but to just say something, even in comment online, randomly mean is unspeakable to me.  Even during my argument with this other artist, I was never able to type, "No, YOU'RE the ugly one."  I can't do it.  Oddly, I don't feel the cloak of anonymity.  I feel like a hater bully.  I feel real guilt and remorse when I know I have hurt another human being for no reason at all.  This is not to say that I do not have strong opinions that others may not like.  I am also not saying that if my feelings are hurt, it will only be so long before I will justify a taste of the medicine prescribed to me so liberally. I am not perfect.  I'm not Zen.  I am a human being with the same knee jerk reactions as the next person.  However, I will put my name on each and every thing I say and I will be accountable for it.  I will even apologize for it and reflect on my actions should my accountability be challenged.  I am not afraid to answer for anything.  If I am, then it should not be said until I am willing to be accountable.  This is a daily, conscious challenge for me because I am so open with my heart.  It's taken me a long time to learn it and I still screw it up at times.

I tend to think about things.  It may take days, but I have to come up with a valid reason for things to happen.  I will not claim that my reasoning is correct, but if it brings me peace enough to move on to the next thing, then I stick with it.  I personally believe that everything happens for a reason.  There are no accidents. The reason we exist on this earth is to support each other and help each other.  Maybe that crochet artist was meant to send me messages because I needed to be humbled.  I needed to be reminded that there will always be someone out there who has more talent than me.   I need to think about how I present myself so that I shine, but I don't make others feel inadequate.   I need to inspire.  Thats my job.  I need to use my talent for good.  I need to sing for those who need a song, and I need to create things for people who need a symbol.  I think I have a right to prosper from these talents, but I also know that they are a gift to me and should be a gift to others too.  Maybe what I said to her was meant for her.  Maybe she got something out of my retaliation that humbled her for the better.  I don't know.  Her attitude did not change with me despite compliments and an honest attempt to be diplomatic.  But, maybe they did and she was just too ashamed of herself to let me know.

But, why then did she confront me in the first place?  What was the driving force behind that first anonymous comment?  Here again, I am not at all sure.  I've spent a lot of time discussing this very thing with myself over several different subjects and it always seems to boil down to one simple emotion.  Jealousy.  While arguing she mentioned that she purchased the patterns she used to create her business.  There was no originality there.  She had the talent to construct, but essentially, she made her money from the creativity of others.

As with the artist above who posted her mean comments and incorporated them into her art, what was the reason that prompted this hate?   In one photo, she poses with her arm up showing her armpits in their most natural state.  Personally, I don't find this offensive.   Shaving is an unhealthy nuisance that is only encouraged because the "norm" dictates that the modern woman is a filthy animal if she is not hairless. She, of course, gets chastised for this photo.  Why?  Maybe because the person commenting wishes they had the guts to be natural.  Maybe they wish they were loved as they were without all the makeup and razor burn.  Maybe they are jealous of the artist's comfort in her own body, which fosters the attitude of, "If I can't do it, no one should.  It's my duty to shame her into conforming to the mainstream."  Possibly they are jealous of her ability to just make things, to be pretty with minimal effort, jealous of her natural thinness, jealous of her ability to manage or prioritize her time to do what she enjoys...Jealously that they would never ever admit to if they had an identity attached to that comment.  Instead of finding their own talent and beauty, they compare themselves to others and pull them apart to me them feel superior.  These people assume that the recipient of the comments will simply shrug it off, but we feel every single jab as real as if it were a sword through the guts.  I cannot for the life of me see why anyone would honestly want to do this to another human being.  Instead of being jealous, look for your talent.  It may not be as black and white as some, but its there.  It may be a way with words, a talent for making money and managing it, just being a comfortable presence, but its there and its something I do not possess.  That a lot of others do not possess.  Its your gift unique to you and  yours to spread to others to help them be better.  Stop being ashamed, hateful, jealous.  You have a purpose.  You may not know what it is, but you are accomplishing it right now.  Are you loud and obnoxious?  Maybe you are teaching patience.  Are you disfigured in some way or do you feel you are unattractive?    Maybe you are teaching acceptance and appreciation for inner beauty.  Do you complain a lot?  Maybe you are teaching someone to be more empathetic.  We all have our quirks, our subtleties, our personalities.  None of us are perfect prophets of peace.  We are human beings.  We should act appropriately and be proud of who we are and be supportive of others.  We should be people who are proud to wear a name tag all the time.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Who needs buff when your man brings you stuff?

I hate roses.  I think they are a huge waste of money.  Whiny, wilty, overpriced attention grabbers.  I hate them.  Oh I know there are ladies out there that love the chocolate and roses bit.  I take them too with a smile when I get them, but ultimately, after 20 years, my husband "gets me."
Today he surprised me with a clean workbench, new Dremel bits, and EZLock cutting kit, and a can of spray shellac.   Sexiest man alive right now.

A clean workbench means I have room to weld and my day was AWESOME!!  I thought I would take your through the process of a simple wine rack.  First, the wire.  I like electric fence wire, but barbed wire works well too.  Whatever you can get your mitts on that isn't too rusty or thin.  I like electric fence wire because its usually galvanized and resistant to weather.  Just make sure you have a well ventilated area.  Galvanized tends to be a little toxic when you weld it.  Okay--a lot toxic.  Use common sense here.  If your getting a headache, you need air.  Artist does not equal stupid.  I have faith in you.

OKay, so the first thing I do is take a long piece of wire and fold it in half equally.  Clamp the folded end in a vice and chuck the 2 fee ends in the drill.  Then twist.
I twist the wire for a couple of reasons.  1 you get a stiffer and more sturdy piece, but mostly because you need a pretty light hand when welding this thin of wire.  Basically, you will be making a series of tacks here and the thinner the wire, the more difficult the tack.  You will either not penetrate the metal at all, or you will blow right through.  Of course, it can be done with practice, but I'm admittedly the first to say less is more, but more is better.  Twist the damn wire. 
Then, brainstorm.  This is the part that you decide what your gonna make and then lay it out the way you want it.  You can fly by the seat of your pants like me (way cooler), or you can draw it, map it, and calculate.  (Zzzzzzzz...) 
I like to make a bunch of swirls and then move them around until I get what I want.  Ish...
It all works out.  Don't be scared. 

Okay, so this is kind of cool.  Remember, we are making a wine rack, so eventually we will need it to function as such.  So, you get it all laid out like you want, donn the sexy SpeedGlass and start lighting stuff up.  This is the cool part.  ACTION SHOT!

Yeah.  That whole sexy dancer by night welder by day thing?  Total bullcrap.  Sexy welder.  Period. 
Don't have a welder?  Get one.  The most fun you'll have and still be conscious.  Not even lying right now.  
So anyway, tack away until its all together....

And it should be welded if you did it right.  My husband says I have a heavy hand and weld a bit more than I should.  About 2 paragraphs ago I said more is better?  Yeah.  I have slag boogers.  Deal.  

Then you take a wire brush or whatever and clean up your tacks.

I like to use a beefy brush backed by some kind of mechanical insanity.  1.  I love tools.  2.  More is better.  If your welds stand up to being raped by overkill, they will hold up to a bottle of wine. Just sayin'.

After you get it all cleaned up, try to brush off any wire bits left, slag, whatever sand down any overzealous blobs and make your piece look nice.  Flip it over to the front side and clean it again.  For the sake of simplicity, I mounted 2 rings on the front to hold the bottle of wine.   ANNNND not done yet.  But close! 

after you get to this point, you want to take it and wash it really good with dish soap and a scrub brush.  not really sure what the deal is, but there is some kind of oily something that shows up when you weld.  Wash it.  you will thank me later.  
After washing and drying, prime it with spray primer.  I use Rustolium.  Good stuff.  That's where I'm at right now.  My rack is primed and drying.  Tomorrow will be 2 coats of black gloss Rustolium and when it's dry, it will be ready to go.  I will post the rest of this post tomorrow with the finished product.  

I also made a fairly simple votive candle wall sconce.  Creepyyyyy.

It's supposed to be a spider, but after looking at it a while...I see woodtick...Hm.  

The finished pieces.