Farewell 2009...

Isn't this a nice rendition of Times Square? This is actually a sweater I found at a thrift shop! Yes, I am actually planning to wear it tomorrow at work! It WAS for the year 2000, but witha little tweaking (and fabric paint) it becomes very current!

..So if you see this sweater, say hi, 'cause I'm pretty sure I'm the only person goofy enough to wear it in public!
Have a fun and Happy New Year!


Time For Resolutions

...They're watching me!...

Well, the holiday's over, so that means vacation's over! I have at least 40 cast leaves inside and outside, waiting to be painted. Every year I swear I'll have everything finished before the new leaves are ready to cast, but I always have a few left! So there are 3 leaves waiting for their final coating of sealer waiting for me right now in the studio (i.e., the laundry room), and I need to buckle down and paint at least one each day especially before March, which is when seed starting season begins! That is when I have to fit yet another purpose into the studio/laundry/cat's room! But that is hopefully when I will be able to transition some of my "leafin" work back outside! So my New Year's resolution is to get the paints out and continue with this commitment I began 4 years ago!


I "Heart" My Leaves!

Speaking of little things, I have also just developed a little

"trademark" - a small Morning Glory leaf pressed into the backs of my

castings. Isn't that sweet? A little heart shaped reminder that they are
made by hand. Actually, the truth is that I can't seem to eradicate all

of those damn weedy Morning Glory vines from my yard, so I thought I'd

at least find a use for part of them! All plants have a purpose,if one looks closely enough!


Almost A New Year

 And all in all, it's been great! A few new shows that went very well (a couple that did NOT, but that's the nature of the game), pretty good weather for almost all of them, and our new canopy worked out just like I wanted. Even works well at an indoor show! So things are as good as can be expected, considering our local (and national) economy is not well these days.

I am looking forward to the new year for another reason - I won't have to write "'09" in paint pen on rough cemennt anymore! Seriously, a zero and a nine are hard to write legibly! When 2010 arrives, a ONE and a zero will be much easier! O.K., so it doesn't sound like such a big deal, but it's the little things in life that are important, right?

 So goodbye to 2009, and i look forward to next year, and even MORE to the year after that (2011! Woo-hoo!)


Dumpster Diving - Fun For Everyone!

One of the few problems I have with my castings and traveling is what to use for packing/cushioning material. Most bubblewrap is too thin - it works, but only if I use several layers. Newspaper is great, but it looks sloppy, tears easily, and gets wet if I have to pack in rainy conditions. The best materials I have found so far are foam rubber (but that stuff is incredibly expensive) and heavy duty bubblewrap, which is hard to find AND expensive. As a result, I am always on the lookout for better packing material.
So, one day last week, as I was walking to the park for - I'm positive- the absolute last time this year, I was thrilled to find this pool cover by the street in front of one of my neighbors! It was pretty clean, and it is actually ...BUBBLE WRAP! Very thick, strong bubble wrap, too!

So I dragged it home, spead it out in my backyard, continued back to the park (where I did see a deer!), came back, swept a little dirt off the cover and proceeded to cut this thing into nice sized pieces for packing in the quickly fading light of dusk. I'm glad we have had a dry spell, I don't know if I would've messed with it in the rain, but now I have a LOT of packing material for just a little bit of labor. Sometimes checking out other folks' garbage is a fortuitous thing!


A Season Of Inspiration...

I'm sure that some of my friends and acquaintances can recall walking with me in the Autumn season, when I suddenly cry, "OOO!" and drop to the ground in mid sentence! No, it's not a heart attack - I just spotted a pretty leaf! There are so many colors and combination of colors on leaves this time of year that I have to collect them just to remember them all!

The Japanese Maple in my garden

Same tree...

Two leaves floating in the pond...

More out of my garden

Some fallen leaves I photographed so I can refer to the colors later

This is the back of a waterlily leaf - I paint some of the lily leaves I make with these colors - everyone probably thinks I make these colors up, but the backs of the leaves are usually quite beautiful!


Another Admirable Artist

This is my early Xmas gift to myself - a C.L. Whiting handbag! Now, normally MY handbags come from thrift stores and discount department stores, but when I saw the incredible work on these (called Leaf Leather), I had to own one!

Here's a little background on the artist.....

New York and Italy both play a part in the talent behind C.L Whiting, a person people nationwide respect as a Master Leathercrafter.
Many familiar with the art of leathercrafting say what C.L Whiting does "is impossible to do!"

But, when people realize this artist is not only accomplished in all forms of artwork, from watercolor to oils; as well as pastels, it makes more sense. And when it is understood that the work C.L. produces on leather is a combination of countless years of perfecting these forms of art, Leaf Leather's achievement becomes more understandable.
Leaf Leather's story began in upstate New York more than 20 years ago. This is where C.L. Whiting developed a love for nature and a passion for detail. While working part-time at a small leather shop and studying art at a New York university, the opportunity arose for C.L. Whiting to become an apprentice under an Italian engraver who was retiring and desired to pass along his technique for making fine detailed tools to someone who would appreciated it.
After years of study and countless hours of time, C.L. began to create a one of kind, unique process that no one in the world could imagine possible. By combining the artistic art forms learned in school, along with those specialized engraving skills gained through this apprenticeship, she discovered the ability to produce tools in the shape of leaves with uncanny microscopic detail.
C.L. withdrew from the university and began a decades-long development of more than 5,000 tools in different leaf patterns. Only after these tools were honed to her satisfaction did she realize the uniqueness of her new art form, and only then did the products you now see begin to be produced.


Leaf Rustling

No, not the rustling sound of leaves - the, uh, PROCURING of leaves from various sources. Yes, as I tell everyone, most of the leaves I use DO come from our garden, but I do also like unusual leaves from plants that I don't have room for in my yard, such as Oakleaf Hydrangea and the Kalopanax tree. Or Okra. Or grapevines. The grape leaves that I cast

are pretty popular with the wine aficionados around here, so I made my semi annual trip to the local botanical garden which is only a few minutes down the street from me, and stocked up on grape and various other leaves. Hey, what are they gonna do - arrest me for pruning? Of course, it was not just for that; it was one of the last (and only) warm autumn days left, and I walked around and took pictures and said goodbye to Summer.   

The swans were enjoying the day - the tiny swanlet we had seen in July had become almost as large as its parents (I guess a baby swan is a cygnet. I think I like "swanlet" better!), and the trees were showing a lot of color. Plus I got some exercise!

I call this "Under The Kalopanax Tree". Artsy, huh?


MY Favorite Artists -Part 1

I have enough "stuff" of my own around the house and garden to keep me from collecting very much in the way of other artists' work, but there is one show in my area where I find Amy Citko Designs. She creates art out of Borosilicate dichroic glass, crushing/breaking it up somehow and making "sparkly things" out of it. Let me point out right now, I LIKE sparkly things! Hubby tells everyone I'm like a crow - I dive after anything that glitters! But, anyway, I found Amy 3 years ago at the Levis Commons Art Fair in Perrysburg, Oh. These are the same promoters who handle the Ann Arbor Street Fair in Michigan (and that is a big one! Too big for me, as yet!), so I am assuming Amy would also be found there.

My first purchase

Amy claims that these are weatherproof, they can be left outside all year, which I have not done (because I hate winter and figure it destroys everything it touches!), but after having this outside all summer for three years, the copper is starting to patina, but there is no change to the sparkle on the piece! So I would bet it could be left out - I just can't do it, though.

...This is what I acquired last year - I think it's my favorite so far

This is a little different piece I acquired this summer - Hubby sort of talked me into it, and even though I really like it, I would rather have the more sparkly stuff.

Although- when the sun hits it and I get this.....like little flying saucers cruising around the yard...I do become very fond of it!


I'm Confused...

Bought some new masks that aren't quite as heavy duty as my big respirator thing, just when I'm sanding or filing the rough spots. I THINK they're the right ones......?

...Or is there a new medium around that I haven't heard of?


Still Here!

Been very bad lately! As I've mentioned before, Autumn gets me very depressed, and usually I have time to get used to it, but along with the quickly-shortening days, it has been a lot cooler than it should be, so it's put me in a funk.

Well, here are a couple pics of my potted Sumacs - the colors ARE pretty...

I have to rush home from work every day, and cast what I can for the two hours of daylight I have left with hands growing numb with the cold. I know - if that's the worst that happens, I'm doing great- but I don't feel much like blogging! I apologise to my readers - there aren't many of you yet, but I appeciate every one of you! I will be posting info on my next show(s) soon.


Some Impressive, Talented Artists!

I am not real impressed by a lot of artwork that I see - not because I'm such an expert, or even that I know what constitutes beautiful artwork, but IMHO only, since I have a little talent, and my father is such a talented painter, a lot of what I see is nice, but not amazing. Certain arts, such as glassblowing, constitute something resembling MAGIC to me, as far as I can tell! I have never tried it, and so can't look at it and understand how it's done. Other artwork, such as pottery or jewelry, is something I understand, but if someone takes it in a new direction, something I would not have thought of, it is impressive to me. Here are some artists I was fascinated with at the Black Swamp festival....

I seem to be attracted by pottery, and, although working in concrete is WAY different, I can relate to what potters do in some ways. I did not purchase any of them, though - every place I could think of to put a piece seems to be taken up by a leaf! Hmmm. I tried not to say to them what always bothers ME, though -" Oh, your work is beautiful! Such good prices! How Unique! Too bad I'm (choose all that apply) A) downsizing, B) broke, C) A parent of young children, or D) moving." Oh well, C'est la Vie!
Some more colorful pottery by Parsley Pottery (I like that name!) in Cincinnati, Oh. (NOTE: While I do not mind photos taken of my work, many artists DO, so please ASK before taking photos of artwork! And if you do ask and they say no, don't get upset - they need to protect their livelihood.)

...And some amazing sculptures!

This is Larry Mack of Lars Glass Originals http://www.larsglassoriginals.com/, he has been a friend of ours for a long time, and has been in this business for a long time, too (of course, he probably started when he was 5 or 6, right, Larry?)
But now that I am starting in the art field, he has become more like my "Mentor"! We have been at some of the same events, and he gives me good advice and information on what shows may be successful for me and shares different techniques he has found that work for him at these shows. Our artwork is at totally different ends of the scale (he works in glass; that's more of the stuff filed under "Magic"!), so we're not competitors at all. We own some of each other's work. In fact, here's one of Larry's glass and copper pieces in my garden, fashioned to place in a birdbath ( NOTE: did you know that copper inhibits algae groth in fountains and birdbaths? Just throw a couple copper pennies in it - or get one of these sculptures!)


Good Show!

My apologies for not updating this sooner (still recovering!) But I only have 2 words to describe last weekend - PER-FECT! Started off with finding out no one was on one side of us, since this is very space - intensive, that really helped a lot! Set up went well, there was a hospitality room provided to the artists, with food, coffee (!), water, restrooms, etc., the weather was just what I would have ordered if I could have - temperate, light breeze, sunny...

...ready for the crowds!

The crowds were great - a constant flow of buying customers, no weirdos (sic), we were close to the food and music (see below).
From the people who said they showed up just to see me because they had seen my blog (finally!), to the lady who told me she went thru the whole show, could only afford to purchase from one artist, and chose me because my work was the most unique.....
And I don't think I'll forget the person who wanted one of my nicest birdbaths as a memorial gift for a friend whose gardener spouse passed away.....

The view from our booth Sat. night. (below)

Coming back from a short walk and is - that?.....Naw, couldn't be MY booth with the crowd of people around it! Feels like I'm having an out of body experience!

So next time I complain about the weather or the sales or the food (WAAA!), remind me of this past weekend!



...That will be going with me to Bowling Green! Getting into some Fall coloring. Tis is a large Okra (!) leaf that can be placed in a flower bed, used as a centerpiece, or hung as wall art with the aluminum hanger in back.
This one is my only large Gunnera leaf I have at the moment (it doesn't throw very many leaves at a time - I'm just happy I am able to keep it going in my climate!) Another that may lay flat or hang.
Another big Okra formed into a birdbath, it has a copper fitting cast into the bottom and comes with a 2 1/2' copper pipe. The birdbaths can also be used to lay flat on the ground (the fitting can just fit into a little indentation in the ground for stability).

Well, gotta go! Hubby and I have a truck to load! :o)



Well, only a few more days! Here's a press release that gives all the info...
Planning is Complete…Donʼt Miss this HUGE Regional Event
Bowling Green, OH--Wood County - The 17th annual Black Swamp Arts Festival will feature a variety of visual artists from across the country, local and national musical acts, and an interactive youth art area
– all free of charge.
The Festival running from Friday, Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. thru Sunday, Sept. 13 5 p.m. It will open Friday with live music on the Main Stage. A large variety of food and drink
will be available in the Concessions Garden situated adjacent to the stage. Juried and Wood County Invitational Art shows will be open Saturday and Sunday. Festival guests will be entertained with live music and art throughout the weekend.
As music rings through the Downtown on Saturday and Sunday, patrons can enjoy the two fine art and fine craft shows
featuring artists from across the nation as well as from the Wood County community.
The Juried Art Show features more than 100 artists in varied mediums ranging from watercolor, jewelry, sculpture, photography, multimedia and glass. Along with past festival winners and familiar favorites, many new and exciting artists will
display and sell their work.
Additionally, more than 40 local artists display their work in the Wood County Invitational Art Show. All art shows are open Saturday, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
For more information visit www.blackswamparts.org


RANT~Refused Service- Am I Too SMALL Of A Business To Matter? You Decide!

The strangest thing happened to me this weekend. As I have mentioned, I seal my pieces with an outdoor concrete sealant - but I am always looking for a better one! So I found this company online - Top Secret Coatings, Inc., and it looked to me as if that might be just the thing, except that the various products ranged in price from $60 to $115 a GALLON! Well, nothing's too good for my customers, so I sent the company an email - this is the unabridged email I sent-

Hi Peter,
I am an artist in Toledo, Ohio, and my primary media is concrete (if you look at any of my websites or information, I use the word "cement", which I know is incorrect, but I like the way it sounds more- I guess you'd call it artistic license!).

I cast leaves and flowers in cement, handpaint them in acrylics and seal them with a concrete patio/floor sealer. The sealer I have been using is fine for most of my pieces (It does stay slightly tacky, though). However, recently, I have been forming them into birdbaths, and I have had some problems finding sealers strong and waterproof (and clear) enough to really protect the paint itself. Some of your products may be just what I am looking for, but some are fairly expensive. If they work for what I need, the price is a non issue, but if I purchase them and they DON'T work, I would hate to waste the money or have to ship a gallon back! I know this is an odd application, so you probably could not recommend any of the sealers - in the past, when I do ask it a certain product would work, I am always told that it is not recommended to use over paint. I just have to try them myself, and, surprisingly, I have not found any that really DON'T work, just some that work better than others.
My question is this: is there any way I could purchase samples of your products? If not, does anyone carry your products in my area? That would make it easier to determine what may work for me,
THanks in advance for your time!

OK, was that a impolite, mean email? After what happened next, though, I'm even doubting myself.

Here is "Peter's" whole reply:


I don’t like dealing with people that tell me up front they plan to send products back if they don’t like them. We just don’t need the business that bad.

Peter Harrett
Top Secret Coatings Inc.

WELL! What did I do to deserve THAT? Don't they like to stand behind their $115 per gallon products? Doesn't he like women? Or is it that maybe I'm "small potatoes" and he only wants large corporations' orders? Despite what I wanted to email back, which would go something like,

"Dear @#*&$#%,
You can take your sealer and (&#^*%$#^ with ?{(#$^*%@ and #$)*&@$ and the horse you rode in on, too, you &^%#$*&^!"

...I didn't.I didn't think that would be very ladylike! So, instead, here was MY reply,

Hmmm... well, I guess you're the ONLY company in the U.S. in this economy that doesn't really need new business!!! I would only send it back if it could not work for me (not if "I don't like it"), and ONLY if that was your policy - I pretty much only said that to point out WHY I was wondering about SAMPLES. Maybe if you had read the whole email you would have figured that out...
That's O.K., though - I do not want to deal with a company that is as blatantly
nasty as you apparently are! I will make sure to mention this on my websites, blogs, newsletter, Facebook and Twitter (and to the Better Business Bureau) how much you DON'T need the business! I wouldn't want you to be bothered! .Thanks for nothing.

Time out!...................A nice, soothing picture to calm me down!.......................

...It's not over yet! One more jab from Pete:

Your threats are proof I pegged you right on.

What?! NOW I'm starting to think I'm dealing with a total paranoid!
So I wrote back:

Pegged as what? A customer? They're not threats - I will not lie or change anything I wrote. I can't see where I offended you in the first place. I will just send the complete correspondence (including this last one!) between us and the BBB can sort it out.

Which is exactly what I have already done. So, as I promised him, here it is, and remember, ladies and gentlemen, Top Secret Coatings doesn't need the business, especially from women and small businesses - leave poor ol' Pete alone! :o)


Wall Mural (sorta)

When we moved into this house (our current one), it was freshly painted in off whites, tans, and browns - VERY neutral! BUT we weren't about to paint over it! Still, after a while, the kitchen walls just about neutraled me into insanity! So I got the urge to do some stamping - bought a variety of green acrylic paints, foam stamps, paint markers, and dragged the ladder indoors. My only problem was controlling myself- if a few leaves look nice, wouldn't a LOT more look better?..... So,with DH's (requested) help and opinions, I eventually went around all 4 walls and I think it turned out quite well!
Here's a detail of the design above the sink area....

..And I sneaked in a heart shape in the vines above the stove! Awww.... I'm just a romantic at heart (so to speak :o)


New Signage

Hey, nice banner! Well, after trying to find inexpensive and waterproof letters to create my own signage (and totally failing), it was easier AND cheaper to have my design made into a banner. I'm very happy with the results,( except the Velcro isn't holding well), but I'm working on that!


Ancient Chinese Secret...

Here's a story: about 4 years ago, I had just started leaf casting, and was deciding to actually make a small business out of it, when I went to a local arts and crafts festival. One craftsperson really impressed me- she made ornamental - gosh, I don't know what to call them- towers created by gluing old crystal bowls, platters, candy dishes, etc. into sculptures as tall as I am! The glue/adhesive she used was extremely strong plus was crystal clear- I could not tell they were glued at all! I asked the artisan what kind of glue that was. She answered," Oh, we had to research for a long time and had to try many different ones until we found this one. This will not yellow and is very permanent."
Hmmm, notice something? She never DID actually tell me what it was! Then it hit me (slowly, being new as I was to the art business) that of course, she would be stupid to tell me what she used - if I liked her product so much I may purchase one, but if she tells me what she glued them with, I would just leave and make my own! As I was in the process of doing the same thing, researching and testing different products (and already my work was
looking more refined than the usual leaf castings I had seen), I decided that was
going to be my policy - I was not training others to be my competitors! Of course, any one could do what I did and discover the same recipes and supplies I use, it's just that they have to put in the same effort I did! No one helped or trained me at all.
Certainly, that's not all there is to it - an old saying is you should welcome competition in your field - if you are really good at what you do, others will not be able to match the quality.

My casting...

...NOT mine! :o)

I do feel that way, but i also realize that while most of my customers understand and recognize the quality of my work, some do not! I have heard people tell me a dozen times, "Oh you must be the one whose work is in (store name), they look exactly the same!" When I check out the leaves they're referring to, I'm always shocked! They are either unpainted, rough cement, or colored with a quick wash of paint or stain! While they are kind of cool in their own way, they are NOT even CLOSE to what I do. so if someone can't tell the difference, they may buy someone else's leaf castings in place of mine.I guess that's the point of this post - I have been contacted by many people lately about my giving them tips on how to do their own leaf castings, and, although I feel bad, it ain't gonna happen! But this post is, I hope, a good explanation of WHY...