Wednesday, December 31, 2008

your voices

I need some advice. This is my last entry of 2008, and I want to make some resolutions regarding this blog. I want to make it more interesting! I want to make it fun! I want to know what you'd like to see in here. Your suggestions/demands/requests are welcome! Should I feature other Etsy shops? Host giveaways? Do tutorials? Should I write more about my life, instead of just my shop and artwork? I know as a reader, I enjoy a mix of both - but I want to hear from YOU!!

Meanwhile: One of my stamps was included in a treasury, come check it out! It's quite lovely, and I'm not saying that out of bias due to my stamp's inclusion. It's just got great colors. I absolutely LOVE the purple crayons. While you're at it, take a look at the curator, SplishySplashCraft's shop. She's a very talented stamp carver!
Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

when one door closes

I've been carving a lot of rustic looking objects lately. I'm not sure why, there's just something really appealing to me about things that look a little dilapidated and wonky. I spent all of today carving and drawing - mostly to fill orders, but this door was just for fun.
The new year is just days away (I'll be seeing it in with Toad the Wet Sprocket as a fan and staff member, an excellent way to begin a new year!!) and I hope to build my Etsy hobby into more of an actual business. That means promoting more, getting a tax ID and paying taxes, and continuing to create items that people want.
I'd love to hear from those of you reading this. If you could wave a magic wand and have a stamp appear just for you, what would that stamp be of? (And yes, I realize if you really had a working magic wand, a rubber stamp is probably low on your list of things you'd make appear, but go with it...)
Feel free to chime in!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

the Virgin birth

Alrighty, made it through Christmas! It was a rather humble one this year with things being rough financially for us. This caused us to focus a lot more on enjoying the time spent together as a family, and it was great.

Today I've been busy carving a stamp I've wanted to do for a while; The Virgin of Guadalupe. I thought it'd be kind of fun to photograph a few of the stages of stamp carving. In the first photo we have the drawing already transferred onto the carving material (and for me that entails just drawing something with a pencil, flipping the paper over, laying it on the carving material and rubbing the back of the drawing until the graphite transfers over). I've just starting carving out the details, and my magnifying glass is my best friend.

And here is something I do throughout the carving process; check to see how things are looking by going over the carved area with marker and making a test print in my sketchbook. My sketchbooks are full of odd, disembodied pieces of images.

Now we've got a somewhat inky partially-finished stamp. This always results in inky fingers and occasionally some interesting marks on my face as well. You know I've been carving if I have a blue mustache.

And here we have one last test print in the sketchbook:

And at last, the finished stamp:Ta-da!!!
And that's all for today.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

the longest night

Happy Winter Solstice! It's the shortest day of the year, which means the light is coming back! I like Solstice days, they feel like a sort of turning point. The stamp pictured is one that I carved for a Winter Solstice swap hosted by Julie Bloch (my stamp carving idol). Each artist contributed 15 pages (one for each person who participated) and Julie put them together in a little hand-bound book. It's beautiful!! I'm really glad I participated in this swap.

I hope everyone has a lovely Solstice. :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

a tight grasp on the obvious

I overhead this gem of wisdom at the gym this morning. This was a woman's response to someone mentioning that she didn't see her in spin class last week - "Oh yeah, I was away. *ponderous pause* If I'm not here, it's because I'm away."
Another of life's mysteries, unraveled at last.

My daughter is at Disneyland today, celebrating her best friend's birthday. (The best friend and her mom are also there, of course.)(I don't know why I was compelled to write that.) She called me just after they went on Splash Mountain, her favorite ride. Here is the conversation we had:
Me: "So, how was it?"
Her: "Well, we won't be going on it again today."
Me: "Why not?"
Her: "Cause the kid right in front of me threw up. Into the water."

Niiiiiiiiice. Now for those of you who don't know, I have a major, sometimes debilitating vomit phobia. And the only reason I wasn't there in the boat with the rest of them was because I'm broke and could only afford my daughter's admission. So the lesson we can take from this is that sometimes being poor is a GOOD thing.

Tonight we're having dinner at our friends Matt and Kristen's house. Matt's birthday is on the 25th and he's really into Superman (don't hold it against him, he's really cool), so I carved a Superman symbol for him. Here's a picture of a couple test-stamps of it in my sketchbook.
Now I have that "If I go crazy now, will you still call me Superman.." song stuck in my head.
Is it stuck in yours too? Sorry.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Well, I managed to get all my "Christmas rush" (in quotes because it wasn't a HUGE influx of sales) orders carved and shipped. Today I carved a portrait of Taylor Swift as a surprise Christmas gift for my daughter, I hope she likes it!

Things are going well today - I've got Lucy unmuzzled and she's playing with one of the two dogs we're boarding (Did I mention them? We're boarding two dogs for a client until Christmas eve) and not showing any aggression. It's weird, though, she did this the last time we boarded dogs. She was fine with all three of those dogs. She only seems to fight with the dogs that live here all the time. It's almost like she knows the visitors aren't part of her pack, so she doesn't need to dominate them. I'm still watching her like a hawk, though. These dogs are little white fluffy Malteses (Is that the correct plural?) and if she attacked one of them, they'd be toast. Well, they'd be something far more gross than toast. All the more reason to watch Lucy carefully.
Dead dogs would be bad for business.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I am my own sweatshop

Ouch, my back!! My sales have picked up a bit in past few days, and now I'm rushing to get things done by the 20th. That, apparently, is the first-class mail deadline for things to arrive before Christmas. So, what am I doing sitting here writing a blog entry? Giving my back a short break! It's hard, sitting there hunched over a stamp for long stretches of time.

I listed a new one a few minutes ago. I've been trying to set aside some time every other day or so to make something new. It's something I need to do, it makes me happy and adds to my inventory. So...there you have it.
Back to work now!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I always knew Barbie would go astray

One of the many things I love about being part of the Etsy community is trades! It's a lot of fun when someone whose work I really like also happens to like mine and offers a trade. Right now, GothBarbie and I are working out a trade. I'm sort of in love with this iron cross scarf. Check out her shop, she's got some really cool items in there!!

She also wrote a really nice blog entry featuring some of my work, so have a look right here to see that post.

This morning, despite massive money issues, I'm once again grateful to have been laid off by the phone company two years ago. Being able to do dog training, and to have my Etsy shop..there are just no words to describe how much more fulfilling those things are compared with being a tiny (and evidently disposable) cog in a huge wheel.
Also, it's windy, rainy and cold outside and I don't have to slog through the wetness in work clothing. All I have to do is throw on some sweats, drop my daughter off at school, and go to the gym. If we manage to survive financially, it'll be a sweet life!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I just made you say underwear!

I recently got some really good tips from one of my very favorite stamp carvers, Corrabelle. Check out her shop, she has some really great designs. She's doing really well on Etsy and I admire her success as well as her skills, so I greatly appreciate her advice. One of her tips was to make stamps that pair up well with other stamps in my shop - she suggested a pair of panties to go with the bustier I already had listed. that's just what I carved!

So...yeah, here I am on the internet showing everyone my underwear. *blush*

Saturday, December 13, 2008

going dental

For the longest time, I was one of those every-six-months dental patients. A very very good girl. At least as far as my dental hygene was concerned. Then, somehow, I managed to let four years go by without going in for a cleaning! How did this happen??? So yesterday I finally went in and Jaysus, it was brutal. No cavities or anything like that (only had one in my life), but the cleaning was brutal!!!! I don't know about your dentist, but my dentist has this ultrasonic pick thingy...have you seen these things? Remember back when a cleaning just involved them having at you with a pick/scraper thing, and then polishing your teeth? NOW they've still got the pick thing, but it vibrates and sprays water as it scrapes. This is like having a jackhammer and a firehose in your mouth all at once. *shudder* I can't even talk about it any more. But my teeth are so clean you could eat off of them! I will NOT be letting that much time go by between visits again.

Thanks to our two female corgis getting into a fight today, our male corgi is currently at the vet having his ear sewn up. This should cost a small fortune that we don't possess. Awesome. Why couldn't he just have stayed out of it???

Meanwhile, posted a new stamp to the shop today.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

excuse me while I expose myself

So, I was having lunch with my friend James today and I decided it's time for me to come clean. I'm not JUST a dog trainer and stamp carver/psuedo artist. I'm also a horrible You Tube actress! James and I made a series of movies a while ago based on a weird conversation we had in his car one day. It all started with "If you could trade bodies with someone of the opposite sex for a day, what would you do?". I'll spare you the answers, but the chat generated an idea for a short film. Then the film got kind of popular, with many requests for a sequel. So...several sequels were generated. Feel free to witness my self-humiliation here if you have some time to kill. OH, there's also a zombie film that we did as a side project!! Who doesn't love zombies? (Aside from the dog who appeared in the film...)

On the art front, here is a retro rotary telephone stamp. How many of you reading this remember actually having a rotary phone in your house? Remember how freaking frustrating it was? Especially if someone's phone number had a 9 in it?
This stamp reminds me, not so fondly, of my years as a telephone operator.
If there is such a place as Hell, I believe it's a far more pleasant experience than being an operator.
What city please?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Come check out my pad, baby!

I'm conducting an experiment in my Etsy shop. I've had some people mention that I should offer ink pads to go with the stamps. So, I'm giving it a shot! (And I have no idea why I felt the need to place an exclamation point at the end of that sentence, but there you have it!) I just listed them, let's see how, if at all, they affect sales. Maybe potential buyers will be more apt to purchase a stamp if the ink pad is conveniently located in the same shop? We shall see.

Meanwhile, I had a dog training job today, which was nice. I love it when the client turns out to be someone I'd have enjoyed meeting anyway. It makes it seem much less like work and the whole experience is more enjoyable. The only thing marring today's session was the fact that one of her dogs had Really. Bad. Gas.
And chose to sit under my chair the entire time we were talking.

No job is perfect.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Technology is neato. Or annoying.

So, I was all excited because I was able to access the internet through my phone and write a blog entry on the way home from Santa Barbara. Blogging while speeding down the 101, wooo! (not driving, was passenger) BUT..I couldn't actually POST the entry. So here I am at home now, trying to recreate it. Alas, the magic is gone. Or the whiskey I was nipping at on the way home (again, not driving) has kicked in.

OH...I found a bar in Santa Barbara called Whiskey Richard's. Ponder that a moment or two. I know! Hahahahahaha! Awesome.

Little things like that make me think the world might still be okay.

I did absolutely nothing artistic today, for the first time in weeks. It was sort of nice. And to have the luxury of saying that, despite how hard we're struggling to survive right now, makes me think my life might, for once, be going in the right direction. (I'm not sure if that makes sense to anyone else. Whiskey, sorry.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

living in a vacuum

Don't you hate hate HATE when all the snappy retorts you COULD have made in a given situation only occur to you later on? Take today for example. I was wheeling my vacuum cleaner all through Sears, trying to find the place to take it for repair. La la la, here I am, rolling through the clothing department, and then housewares, just me and my vacuum. Doesn't everyone bring their vacuum cleaner to the store? Of course they do. When I finally got to the appliances department, the smarmy sales guy squinted at me, cocked his head and said "Let me're looking for the vacuum cleaner department?". And I said "Nope, my vacuum cleaner just really wanted to go shopping today."

Dammit!!!! There were so many better replies! How bout "Nope, I'm just a neat freak." or "No. Why?" or...I don't know, I forgot now. All kinds of good material bubbled up in my brain while I was driving home and I wanted a do-over. Oh well.
I should be writing something about art, since this is my art blog. I didn't create anything new today, though. I filled some orders, and have more to fill, and I should be working but it's getting dark.

I do most of my stamp carving in the daytime, when there's a nice pool of sunlight on the bedroom floor. Artificial light is so hard to carve by. I finally broke down and bought a full-spectrum magnifying lamp, and that's WAY better than just regular lightbulb light, but there are still issues. You just get weird shadows and stuff, and when you're trying to do detailed work, you need to see everything really well. Otherwise oops, there goes THAT little line. Which happened to be the nose of the girl I'm carving. Which means the whole stamp is kaput and several hours of work have just slithered down the drain. Which means swearing bad swears and throwing little tantrums. It's not pretty.
Hey, I talked about art just then! Mission accomplished.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

even keel

Awrighty, well...I got my meds refilled and am back on track. For now. Til the next time I get lazy and let them run out and let myself get all sad and lethargic and stuff. Being mental is fun!

M'kay. Lucy got spayed on Tuesday and is recovering nicely. I'm hoping that while they were in there they removed her aggression gland along with her uterus. There haven't been any fights yet, although she started to attack Molly (our big lab) the other night because I reached to pet her. A lot of the fights she starts seem to be over attention. (Why don't men fight over me this way??) I stopped her before she made contact, though, and she actually controlled herself. SO....maybe she's just still weak from the surgery, but I like to think we're making progress.

I'm sure everyone reading this is hoping the same thing so that no one is ever subjected to a picture of my pasty white thigh again.
Above is a picture of Lucy displaying her freshly shorn belly one day post surgery. Let's have a collective "AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!".
Thank you.

Monday, December 1, 2008

up and down

I try to steer this blog away from my personal life for the most part, but sometimes (okay, often) art is intertwined with personal. I have bipolar disorder - I was diagnosed when I was 16 years old. I won't go into detail, but at the time, the symptoms made themselves known in a big,unmistakable way. Since then, I've always struggled with medication issues : finding ones that work, finding ones whose side effects were bearable, and accepting the fact that yes, I really need to ALWAYS be on it. Every so often I go off of it for various reasons. Sometimes I talk myself into thinking I don't really have something wrong, therefore do not need medication. Sometimes I just let the prescription run out and don't refill it in time, which is where I am right now.

It's always very clear to me, once I'm off of it for a while, that there is indeed something wrong and I DO need medication. I ran out sometime last week and have managed to spiral into a pretty deep depression. It's almost funny..the depression gives me this combination of apathy and social anxiety that makes me not want to go out to pick up the medication that will STOP the apathy and anxiety.
I'm sitting here right now finding the idea of going out today totally daunting. I need to get dog food and take one of the dogs to the vet. I also need to go to the gym. But I can't seem to leave the house. I HAVE to, and I will, but it's like this BIG THING right now. Leave the house??? Nooooo!!!!! And this is only the begining. A few more days off my meds and I'll go in opposite direction - too much energy, no need (or ability) to sleep, bad decisions..wheeeeee!!!! So, yeah. Must pick up meds today.
So what did any of this have to do with artwork? I guess because I notice that my art starts to change as my mood plummets. Hence today's stamp - an anatomical heart. Not the prettified, idealized flaming/winged/sacred heart I'd draw in happier times. Just a heart, plain, raw and ugly.

About Me

Hippieville, CA, United States
This is the story of life after losing the "real" job and the house, trying to find the middle ground between making a living and actually living.