october is for paper mache and terrariums

What’s better than an October day, so sunny and crisp and warm that a layer of paper mache dries in 20 minutes in the sun? I’m making some teacups for gifts and my tree this year – I usually use two layers of paper over the cardboard and this is the first.  These will be extra special because they are infused with spectaular Octoberness.

paper mache teacups


The color of the sky doesn’t seem real – but it was – what a day. October also means saying goodbye to the forest and that fantastic earth smell so I brought some home with me.

moss and lichen

happy terrariumMy terrarium perrished towards the end of last winter – the boiler in the old Brooklyn building I live in went south and there was a week of swinging between no heat and oven like temperatures that my little globe of mosses did not survive.  I love having a little bit of the forest with me through the winter, it’s happy in there and it smells good.

P. S.  The star pattern is almost here but not quite – I can’t get through a pattern step shoot without a big do-over.  Maybe it’s because of rushing or becoming increasingly persnicity about images or maybe I just need to do everything twice.



on October 15, 2015 2

star folk and crate and barrel ornaments

I’m shooting pattern steps for some sweet little star folk – there are five stars with different expressions and a sleepy moon. They can be ornaments, a garland, a twinkly mobile or someone could be an adorable meteor shower for halloween.  It’s a quick and easy project – look for the pattern early next week.

starfolk ornaments

shooting star

And in other ornament news – I know it’s early – but in 2013 and 14 I tried to wait until what felt like a festive and civilized time to mention my Crate and Barrel ornaments and they were sold out before I told you about them.  So I’m not taking any chances. You can find the sleepy goats and lambs and baking mice online now and they should be in stores by the end of the month.  I’m pretty excited about them.

sleepy goat and lamb ornaments

baking mice ornaments

on October 7, 2015 4

my big creative year : doll – part 1

Historically,  I’ve gotten hugely annoyed when described as a doll maker. Nothing against dolls – I love them so much – in all their forms – and there are so many incredible doll makers I admire. But still, I have felt resistance about creating anything that could very officially be called a doll.  I told myself – it just isn’t what I do.  Except it keeps coming up….   So I decided to make a doll.  And ran right into a bunch of nuttiness and resistance – all the usual suspects:

  •  I had a million ideas – I wanted to make LOTS of dolls – it felt impossible to choose where to begin – I was overwhelmed.
  •  I got all weird about what people might think.
  •  I wanted to make the best and most perfect doll ever – right out of the gate.

I stayed stuck and thinking for quite a while and then got past that the only way there is -  by starting. By taking a small action – gathering supplies.  Sorting through boxes and boxes of old garments and fabric with doll in mind made me see all sorts of new possibilities and qualities in things I’ve looked at a hundred times before. I got a lot of momentum from that exercise and started drawing, drafting and experimenting – in that good place of letting something evolve. You can see the very beginnings  of  the thinking, experimenting, drafting and refining process - my wonky first steps – below.

doll drafting

Stay tuned for doll #1.


on October 5, 2015 6

19th century surprise in a phoebe nest, fungi and a newt

I sew in a little house in the Adirondacks as much as possible in the warmer months.  And every year (so far) Eastern Phoebes build a nest under the roof overhang and have little Phoebes – sometimes two broods in a season.  I love watching them. This year I got a chance to examine a nest up close for the first time.  It is a beautiful, delicate, thoughtfully made thing – one little bit at a time (Phoebe’s are pretty small).

phoebe nest

I don’t notice the thread or wool stuffing that floats away while I’m working but apparently they do and there it was, woven into the nest- the soft wooly stuff right on top for warm comfortable babies.  And below that there was another nest ( each brood gets a fresh nest)  with a bit of tulle  from a 19th century gown and Japanese indigo threads. I’m so pleased they found it useful!

phoebe nest

adirondack forest

I also wanted to share  a couple photos from a walk I took in a part of the forest I hadn’t explored before, a long walk off the path and through the wild stuff. The smells were incredible and I saw things I had not encountered before –  like this strange pinkish thing – I discovered later it’s coral fungi.

coral fungi


And I ran into a newt – a lovely little red eft who graciously let me take his picture.

on October 1, 2015 8

my big creative year : the forest and impermanence

The pace of time seems to escalate in the spring and fall – the shortest and sweetest seasons. Everything changes so quickly. I went into the forest last week with the intention of soaking up as much as I could and spending time making something that wouldn’t last.

forest loom

forest loom

I began to experiment  with something small – sort of a mini loom – to get a feel for manipulating things. I made a frame from twigs and string and wove in what I liked, looked for more with fresh eyes and tried things.  It made me look at everything differently, more thoughtfully and with deeper appreciation. I saw qualities and details of grasses and vines and mosses I had never seen before.

forest loom

The next day I went back out wanting to try something larger, with only what I could find in the forest. I walked and gathered and felt my mind ticking briskly along, seeing lines, shapes relationships and intersections I hadn’t seen before. I chose a spot and started experimenting without much of a plan, the idea that it did not need to, and could not last opened me to all sorts of possibilities. I played for hours and it urned into a sort of arch – a magic passage for creatures who might come upon it before it blew away.

forest passage

I went out with a lantern that night for a look and to imagine what it might be like to come upon such a thing in the forest unexpectedly.  The next day the huge golden ferns and most of it’s other finery had wilted or blown away and it wasn’t much more than an odd pile of sticks. I had a marvelous time.

P. S. - For the remainder of My Big Creative Year I’ll be posting every other Monday - it fits into my life in a more natural way.

on September 21, 2015 7

my big creative year : the magic of small

miniature donkey

I am deeply interested in what happens when things get small. I always have been. Mini is intriguing. There is a lot of magic in smallness.

When the scale changes – our ideas and presumptions about lots of other things change. All sorts of fresh possibilities are revealed. It is an invitation to look harder at everything. Scotch tape dispensers can become a perfect glass display case for this melancholy little scene.  I get excited about that sort of thing.

hair hut diorama

 hair hut diorama

Of course this works in both directions but I’m much more attracted to small – I think in part because it is accessible, it can be approached in a personal and solitary way. For me that is part of the beauty of small. Big leaps of imagination are possible and mood and atmosphere can be fine-tuned  because the scale is manageable.

dioramaSo much of what I love to do has been about this kind of play – it has always been a deep drive and fascination for me. Even at it’s simplest I find it compelling.


But why is it magic? I think because things can exist at an intersection of real and pretend by virtue of their unorthodox and unexpected size. There is instant mystery, instant story – what kind of world might this tiny thing be part of? You can see it and touch it and if you choose to, be nudged a little further down the road to make believe.

on September 14, 2015 15
Made Happy by Pictalo