Studio Musings

Thursday, May 20, 2021

So Long and Thanks for all the Fish

Thank You!

I'm not sure if anyone will even see this post, it's been so long since I wrote on my blog.  But before I close things down, I wanted to write and say thank you for helping support me as a blogger, a beader, an author and a beading-pattern designer, and as a person.  It was great fun!

Esty Store Closed - and Free Tutorial Offer

This month, I'm finally putting the finishing touches on closing my beading business, Skunk Hill Studio.  My Etsy store has been on vacation for a while now, but I put it on vacation without saying anything.  So I wanted to make an offer - if there's a beading pattern of mine that you wanted, but hadn't yet purchased, let me know between now and June 1st and I'll send you a link to download a free copy.  

If you want to take advantage of this please make sure I have a way to send it to you - email is easiest for me.  

New (maybe) Blog Project Idea

I am playing around with ideas for a new blog - one that I've fiddled with for the past few years.  I'm trying to decide if it's two weird of a weird mash, as it focuses on my interests of traveling, traveling super light (think travel backpacks and capsule wardrobes), travel sketching, and living (and traveling) with autoimmune conditions.   I'd planned to make a go of it last year, right as everything started shutting down.  My idea is to start with stories of past travels, and travel planning, while waiting for things to open back up.  Part of me says I waited too long - I should have started last year as planned, and I'm frankly second-guessing myself like crazy.  Sigh!  So right now I'll simply say, if you're interested, drop me a line and I'll let you know where you can check it out. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

One Week 100 People Challenge

I've already spent more time sketching this year than I have in the past several years combined.  In December urban-sketcher and instructor extraordinaire, Liz Steel, announced that she was going to host a new run through of her 12-week Foundations Sketching course.  I'd purchased the course several years ago, but only made it through the first four or so weeks, working on my own.   This run through was perfectly timed!  I love that she has both indoor and outdoor suggestions for each week. Her prompts meant that even when I was feeling my worst, I was still sketching. 

My everyday backpack, with Inktense pencils

another everyday item, following Liz's prompts to explore drawing visual texture

exploring different ways to suggest or detail visual texture
an extremely fast, 'while waiting for the bus', sketch

But you'll note there aren't any people in my drawings.  I hate sketching people!  I feel really uncomfortable, I don't do it well, especially faces, and it simply feels awkward. When I do draw people in a scene, they tend to end up looking like this. 

notice something missing?  Yeah, me too.

I've decided to challenge myself by participating in Liz Steel's One Week One Hundred People challenge.  (Yikes!) To make it easier, I'm starting out with a pocket-sized moleskine and a pen.  As I get more comfortable, maybe I'll add watercolors, but for now it's just pen & ink.

I got a little jump start waiting for a concert to begin last night.  Turns out the music wasn't really to our taste, but I like my little sketches (except for the guy I tried to draw in profile - faces are sooo hard!)

quick, quick sketches

One hundred people sketches, here I go!  And to keep myself honest, I think I'll post them on a daily basis to my Instagram feed to help hold myself accountable.  Ready, set, go....

Anyone else joining in?  If you're already participating in the challenge, or thinking about doing so, I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Snow Day: Seattle Edition

I missed last Sunday's snow.  Joe and I were back in the Midwest, visiting family and experiencing the 'Polar Vortex'.  Between flight cancellations on Monday, and a delayed flight on Tuesday, we didn't make it home until the wee hours of Wednesday morning.  Our taxi made it up the hill without much issue, but I really wasn't sure we'd make it across the lake of ice otherwise known as the sidewalk separating us from our front steps.  I was more than a little tempted to abandon my suitcase on the front verge.  If Joe hadn't given me 'the look', I likely would have left it there to be dealt with in the morning. 

Happily, I managed to chip away and finish removing the ice flow by mid-afternoon Thursday.   Just in time for Seattle Snow 2.0 - my first snow of the year!

The joys of a corner lot!
 I shoveled a couple of times yesterday, but most of the snow fell overnight, so I did a little clearning at o'dark thirty this morning.  The joys of a corner lot!

But our house sure looked pretty with the snow
Only took a little persuading to get Joe to go for a walk with me

Anyone want a ride?

Queen Anne Avenue's in pretty good shape
El Diablo - open for business! 
 At the end of our walk, we stopped in at El Diablo's to get Joe a latte, and to see who else was out and about.   Quite a few of our friends, as it turned out.  After hanging out there for a couple of hours, we headed back home.  Joe finished shoveling our walk, and took care of a couple of neighbors for good measure, while I built a snow woman.

My snow woman, ready for the ball

Some of the snow packed really easily, other layers didn't want to pack at all - you could really tell that it fell at different times, and different temperatures.  But I was able to find enough of the sticky snow to make it work. 

I loaned her my scarf for a final photo before heading inside

Good fun in the snow!  Though I wonder how I'll be feeling about the white stuff by the end of the week:
it may get old before the week is out!
Right now my hands are toast from all the shoveling.  I'm hoping that they will recover enough so I can use some of these snow days for Beading, or at least Crafting!  We'll see how it goes....   In the meantime, it seems like a good time to do some KonMari sorting.  I've started piling clothing on the guest bed.  Oh my! 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Antidote to SAD - Buttterflies

While we don't get the snow and extreme cold of other parts of the country, Seattle's winters can be chilly and grey.  And damp!  No surprise - this is Seattle after all.  But it can get old.  That's when I love to visit the butterfly garden at the Science Center.   Last week two friends and I grabbed our cameras, shed our jackets, and spent a good hour or so in the tropical warmth. 

The butterflies were particularly active, filling the air with eddies of colorful wings.  Others posed for their cameos; each one more beautiful than the next.  I was struck once again by the diversity of colors and patterns.  Makes me want to pull out my beads and start playing with color. 

not great for the butterfly, but the tattered edges have great texture
the butterflies loved her squid cap, and kept circling it while she tried to take photos.

A little dream of Spring.  

Friday, January 4, 2019

Growing Where I’m Planted

decorating the front of my 2019 sketch journal
I don’t generally make New Year’s resolutions, but some years I do gravitate towards a word or phrase that helps to sum up my hopes and intentions for the coming year.  Somewhere between Christmas and New Years, I found myself ruminating on the word “Grow”.  It's been quite some time since I feel that I've grown, creatively, and it's time.  I have an equally strong desire to focus on what I already have, and what I’ve neglected or forgotten.

Our culture places so much emphasis on new growth - new artistic endeavors, new art supplies, new clothing - will create a new, better you.  Part of me is certain that if I 'just buy this one more sweater, my entire wardrobe will suddenly click'.   These beads (paper, pens, watercolors, acrylics, fabrics, etc.) are sooo pretty; I must buy them!  I know I’ll use them!  No matter that they're likely to be lost in my stash shortly after I get them home.  Same with online courses I've signed up for over the years (most often on watercolors and urban sketching). 

Moving my studio back into my home last fall, I realized just how overwhelming all of this wonderful stuff can become.  And how much of my time is spent simply curating, organizing, and trying to keep it all neat enough so that I can find things.

My goal for this year is to turn my attention away from the new ‘bright and shinies’ to focus on all of the wonderful collections, opportunities, and yes, friendships, that I already have.  To grow where I'm planted  and what are the ways in which I wish to grow.  Looking to the resources I already have, rather than what I might add.

One of the hardest parts will be determining what is clutter - the weeds in my particular garden.  Not all of the art media I've tried over the years are really my cup of tea.  That doesn't mean that giving up the related tools and supplies is easy.  I might need them one day.  Maybe?  (Okay, maybe not).  

Sort of corollary to this whole process, I’ve also embarked on a repeat of last year’s elimination diet.  Through the fall, and especially over the holidays, I relaxed my diet too much, and started paying the price with autoimmune flares.  To combat this, on January 2nd, I cut processed sugar, all grains and gluten, caffeine, and a whole host of other things out of my diet.  My plan is to stick with the strictest version for 2-3 weeks, then slowly start retesting other foods.  Yesterday was the Day of the Terrible Headache.  Today is the Day of Swollen Joints.  I expect a few more days of misery as I go through the detox stage, but am looking forward to that day, sometime next week, when I wake up without brain fog and pain, with energy to spare.

But I’m not waiting until then to get started on growing where I’m planted.   While my fingers are too swollen to do much creative work, I can type, I can visit with friends, I can sort through papers,  make lists of things I used to like to do, and start rooting through my supplies to see what I have to work with, and I can dream.

Not a bad way to start the New Year.

Friday, December 21, 2018

More Ornaments Mini-Reveal

In one of those 'best laid plans' sort of things, Sunday's Blog Hop didn't quite go according to plan.   A couple of packages were delayed, and not everyone's ornaments were featured.  What this means is we get to go again!

whimsical Log Cabin Santas stitched up by Jane Knaub

JJ's presents within a present
Jane Knaub sent Mandi a Log Cabin Santa. A fun quilted cone that can be used as ornaments or bottle toppers, like the ones shown above.  In a fun note, Jane wrote "I had seen the Santa made from a Log Cabin Quilt Square at a recent quilt guild meeting and I found the pattern online.  However, it was in Italian.  So good old Google translated it."

Meanwhile, JJ Jacob's fused glass ornament got missed in the initial reveal.  JJ creates delightfully playful, fused glass ornaments, often creating a new design each year.  She even teaches classes on how to make your own fused glass ornaments!  Swing by her blog to see more of her designs. 

Margo Lynn's package to me was another of those that took the adventurous route.  But oh was it worth the wait!  Inside I found the cutest miniature stocking, a beautiful card and two extra little gifts.  Thank you Margo Lynn!

Stocking and Stocking shadows!

It's been terribly grey here the past week, something that I truly realized as I tried to photograph the stocking.  To make it worse, I think all of my photography skills have flown out the window (perhaps Santa will catch and return them when he swings by next week).  Margo Lynn knit the stocking from this lovely gold, glittery thread that's really, really hard to do justice with my current (lack of) skills. And something funny - I didn't even notice the purple bugle beads along the top edge until I had it under bright light to photograph.  Remember what I said about how grey it is here?

Then I had to find its new home.  First, I hung it on our Christmas tree. 
Hanging from the tree
It looked nice there, but I wanted to put it somewhere a little more prominent.  I have a thing for stockings.  The stocking I still use was made for me by my grandmother, who passed away when I was seven.  I still remember opening gifts at her house, that last Christmas with her. 

old and new stockings hanging together
So I decided to hang Margo Lynn's stocking with my grandmother's.  Oh, and I filled the little guy with a handful of treats, and am allowing myself one a day.  There's just enough to make it from now until Christmas, so long as I don't get greedy!

Margo Lynn also sent:
Two lotion bars - one for myself and one for my friend who acted as my mail drop

 A lovely letterpress card. The buildings feel like they're embossed

sneak peak of Carrie's ornament, in process
Carrie's package was another one that took the scenic route to its destination.  And the two of them agreed to both open their packages on Wednesday.  Carrie wrote a fantastic guest post on what she made for Therese, with wonderful process photos of her design/creation process, over on Therese's blog.  Definitely head over and check it out. 

Happy Holidays, and Merry Christmas!

And Happy Solstice, the days will be growing longer again after today! 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

2018 Ornament Swap Reveal

Today's the day to see all of the lovely ornaments everyone made in this year's Swap Hop!

Carrie Johnson and Therese Frank
Sherry Eagle and Amy Severino
Cyndi Nason and Karen Williams

I'll update the list with direct links to everyone's posts as soon as I have my morning tea.  I'm on the West Coast, so it won't be first thing for my East Coast friends.

In order to make the numbers match, I was fortunate enough to pair up with two swap partners, Margo Lynn and Cyndi Nason.  Originally, I thought I might create a bead embroidered ornament for each of them, but nothing quite worked out the way I wanted it to.  In the end, I decided to combine two of my favorite beading patterns into a new design.  Not what I'd envisioned, but better than what was coming from my other attempts.  It did feel good to be beading again!

Snowflakes and Lantern Beads for Cyndi and Margo Lynn
paper-cut luminary with LED candle
I used the same pattern variations for both of their main ornaments, varying the color palettes to hopefully suit each.  For Cyndi's, I added in a pair of earrings, while I added in an extra snowflake ornament for Margo Lynn.

Cyndi wrote that her "ornament is going on a chain and being worn with my Christmas shirt to our Christmas Dinner/Square Dance this coming Tues. (then back on the tree). I'm figuring out where it can go, so it can be displayed year round."  Yeah, she liked it! 

And because paper is my second love, I also sent each of them a snowflake luminary, and made little pillow boxes to hold their ornaments.

In return, Cyndi sent a gorgeous seed-beaded ornament created with Delica's in rich Christmas tones.  Between a late mailing and my travels, I just received her ornament today.  It definitely brightened a very, very grey day.

Cyndi's ornament complete with decorative hanger

after trying it on the tree, I instead hung it in the archway to our dining room

 I immediately hung it on our tree, but decided I wanted to give it more prominence.  It's now hanging from the center of the pine roping decorating the archway between our dining and living rooms.   So lovely!

Margo Lynn's ornament hasn't made it quite yet, but I'll add photos as soon at it arrives!