Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Ultimate Shopping Guide!

Tis the season for shopping.   I live in an area that has a plethora of talented artists from a wide range of disciplines.  With that in mind as well as Cyber Monday just around the corner, I would like to highlight some of my favorite Artists.   It seems that Christmas has just gotten so commercial and competitive!  Fighting the crowds for the hot gift item of the season is not only stressful but could downright be hazardous to your heath!   So I ask you why?????  Why give a gift that will be out of fashion or out of date in the next few months?   Why give a gift that can be found at any local chain store?  Why not give a gift made from an artist that is unique and something that will be cherished for a lifetime? 

Please also keep in mind as Shop Small  - Small Business Saturday approaches that many of these artists do not have store fronts…but that does not mean you cannot shop via the internet to support the cause!  I have also highlighted the local stores in Bemidji that showcase these artists and many others.
Betsey Harries of Sweetgrass Trading Company is an artist I met at Ely’s Harvest Moon Festival.  I just adore her Earth-felt people.  Each one has a personality all of it’s own and has remarkable detail.  They each have their own story and come with a certificate of authenticity.  She also creates beautiful fine art beading in dragonflies (I adore! And jewelry).

Alice Blessing captures the aura of a person via acrylic finger painting!  Her work is amazing.  I wonder if her teachers had any inclination of the talent she possessed in grade school when she finger painted an art project?

Green Janie helps save our planet by upcycling reclaimed glass.  She is an inspiration and her work in glass not only captures the beauty around us by the sun’s light as well!  I own one of her rolling pins, and I must say there is no other way to roll your dough!  I love her blog….keep up to date with fun ways to save our planet!

Photo taken by Trish Photography

A Tranquil Nook  - Frank and Jane are the most adorable couple I have met.  Frank makes stone jewelry and the most yummy gluten free treats!  Jane creates the most marvelous things from fabric and fiber.  I love Jane’s hats her detail and workmanship are incredible.  Jane transforms fabric and fiber into so many things I simply cannot list them all. 

Alice Strand sews the most adorable tiny creations with such artisanship and detail.  To say she “sews” seems like the ultimate understatement.  You will absolutely have to have one!  Below is a commission piece she did…just amazing!

Mary Therese Moran Peterson of Fern Lake Studio is a beautiful soul who designs and paints fanciful flora and fauna, figures and abstract shapes on silks and cottons. I purchased one of her beautiful silk scarves my sister. 

There are so many more artists in this area… if I were to list them all I would have a novel!  If you are taking a shopping trip to our lovely town I have listed a few places that you must visit.  You can  purchase art from our local artists.

Shop 426 Located in our Bemidji Community Arts Center -
Want to keep up to date with local art and culture?  Visit Lakeland Public T.V.’s Common Ground and view our artists in action!

Happy Shopping!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Story Behind the tile Summer Dreams

This post I would like to tell you about the title that haunts me the most!   Summer Dreams is one of my favorite designs.   You see it was a beautiful summer day….the weather was a perfect temperature…somewhere in the high 70’s lower 80’s.  The sun was shining beautifully and there was only a light breeze.  My spirits were soaring, I was so thankful for where I lived, in awe of the beauty of the day.   The tiger lilies in my yard were profusely blooming and were a brilliant burnt orange.   The contrast of the kelly green lily leaves and the brilliant burnt orange flowers fascinated me.  I picked a bouquet of tiger lilies and wild flowers that were also blooming in my yard.  I arranged them on this incredible piece of driftwood from my lake. 
Summer Dreams

 Now before I tell you more of this story I must tell you that I am a complete dork when it comes to song lyrics.  You see….I ALWAYS sing the lyrics wrong.  For instance the seventies song by Cher called Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves I here Gypsies, Chimpanzees!   Another example is the Macy Gray song,  I Try.  There is a line where she says, "My world crumbles when you are not near".  I here I blow bubbles when you are not near!   Well on this particular day I had another seventies song in my head.  I thought the lyrics were…”Summer Dreams makes me feel fine”.  I was singing (off key I am sure) this song out load as I was capturing images of my beautiful bouquet of flowers.  I was singing this song again (still of key) while I was creating the kaleidoscope.   Of course, this is why I titled this design Summer Dreams!   All of my designs are submitted to the government for a copyright.   It was not until after I received my copyright certificate that I realized that the title of the song is actually Summer Breeze by Seals and Crofts!  Well I have already copyrighted this design, so I am forever haunted with what a dork I am on song lyrics!   Below I have added the songs I am referring to just for fun!

Summer Breeze video and song by Seals and Crofts (a.k.a. Summer Dreams)

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves (a.k.a Gypsies, Chimpanzees!) by Cher

Last but not least Macy Gray's I Try where I hear I blow bubbles when you are not near!

Until next time dear friends...Take care,

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Story Behind The Title

I have many stories that go behind my kaleidoscopes that I thought I would start to share the story behind the kaleidoscope design.
Lavender Lust
This kaleidoscope design began as an Ode To Winter Challenge from the Dirt Road Artists, an Etsy team I am a member of.   The challenge was to create a piece that was inspired by winter.   I live in Northern Minnesota so I love winter….but when it comes to photography in winter I am not inspired.  Simply because I love to photograph things with various colors and textures.   I have seen beautiful photographs of winter, but it is just not my forte.    I wanted to participate in this challenge and thought what could I do?   It was the middle of January.   The temperatures were a chilling 20 below zero.  I bought a bouquet of flowers and filled a spray bottle up with luke warm water.  I placed the flowers on the snow a sprayed them with the water, instantly incasing them in a frosty ice.   I was surprised by the result.   The warm water and sunlight seems to intensify the color of the flowers.   The incredible lavender and purples inspired my title of this kaleidoscope Lavender Lust.   The focal point of this kaleidoscope is a Peruvian Lily.  The Peruvian Lily symbolizes friendship and devotion.

Lavender Lust in a 4x4 ceramic tile

The same day I also followed this process with a single red rose with small pine branches behind it.  After spraying the rose with the warm water, I then sprayed with colder water.  Instead of a frosted affect, it was clear ice.  The skies were clear and the sun was bright.  The sunlight captured the ice inside the rose resulting in a small star in the center.   I titled this piece Frostbitten because…well….I WAS!   Red Roses symbolize sincere Love, Respect, Courage and Passion

Frostbitten in a framed ceramic tile

Both of these designs are available in ceramic tiles, paperweights, sun catchers/ornaments, pendants, magnets, note cards and wall décor.   There are two places to purchase my items.  My Etsy Store or going to   The Kaleidoscope Photo Art site is embedded in my blog below.  You can navigate directly from this site.   Please feel free to custom order any design into any product I have available.    My Etsy store also has the before and after of each kaleidoscope design.
Wishing you all tranquility in your life,

Friday, October 28, 2011

An Introspective

Sorry for my absence, I am not a disciplined blogger.   This is post is really a vehicle for my emotional healing, growth and an opportunity to share what I personally have learned through the challenges I have encountered recently.

There was a time in my life that I would have put on boxing gloves and come out of my corner fighting, for sure that my motives were admirable and selfless. To right a wrong – to blast the world with the truth...objective evidence of what was real and what was attempt to discover the rational for what happened.   I was always on the lookout for any issue that I perceived as an injustice whether it involved someone I knew or of course selfishly - me. 
I was always stressed out, filled with negative energy.  I am sure you can imagine you do not have to look far in this world to find injustice.  It is everywhere!   What I have learned these past few months is injustice is relative.   Of course, you have the obvious injustices out there.  They are black and white, no question about what is happening or are they?   You see what I have realized is as humans we have all different experiences in life that shape our perspectives of the events occurring in the world.    These perspectives are like feelings...not right or wrong..they just are.   Attempting to change someone’s perspective is like trying to change the life journey they are taking.   You simply cannot and should not.  
My interpretation is that we all have to take our own path, our own journey to become the person we are now and will be.  Our experiences good or bad are not as a reward or punishment, but to help us shape who we are, to understand what we need to evolve into the amazing creatures we all are.   Of course, I am speaking of legal paths.   I do not want anyone to think I am advocating illegal activities.  I simply mean our perception of what is right and wrong outside of written law is interpreted differently due to our life experiences.   Our life experiences will change the priority each us place on an event.  These different priorities and perspectives are essential in creating balance.   To ensure that no one injustice goes unnoticed.  So that you do not stand alone, feeling hopeless.  Who am I to try to change the perspective of an individual supporting another?  That may leave someone feeling alone, hopeless with no support system. It is a selfish attempt to make myself feel better at someone else’s expense.  
Therefore, without making this a novel, I share with you my introspective, my epiphany.  First, the worries in my life are insignificant.  Sadly, it is just too easy to find someone else in the world that is going through far more turbulent tribulations than I am experiencing.  Second, it is selfish of me to try to change someone’s perspective.  It is theirs and theirs alone.  Sharing your perspective is one thing, but force-feeding it to someone is not only futile, but also selfish.  It is not up to me to change someone’s journey.  Third, and this is an expansion of what I have learned before, we have a lot to learn from nature.   There is no personal judgment within nature, just respect and acceptance.  Nature has successfully learned how to accept each other without trying to change each other.  They do not wage wars, physical or with words.  They do not judge their predators or prey.    This brings stress in their life, but they seem to understand it is the natural balance of things.  It is all about the journey.  They do not create campaigns on how terrible others are.  They seem to understand that they all have a journey to take a purpose and a place in our beautiful world and simply coexist. 
I share this with you not as a sermon, or to be self-righteous, only to set a goal for myself to be more accepting and understanding.   My goal is to respect our journeys and simply coexist.  I will stumble and struggle for sure but this is going to be one of my goals in life.   I am sure I will have to return to this written goal numerous times to remind myself.

Wishing you all peace and serenity in your life,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My new Hawaii Designs

I have finally started listing some of my Hawaii Kaleidoscopes.   You can find them at my Etsy shop Melbecreations.   I have so many more pictures I want to kaleidoscope, but these are a start.

Below is my favorite.  It is a green sea turtle glinding over a coral reef.  I adore turtles and I will never forget my experience with them.  They were so docile.  One even "kissed" my cheek!  I think they were attracted to my underwater camera.  The front of it is green metallic. 

There were just amzing flowers in Hilo.  I went to the botanical gardens and just went crazy photographing all the ornate flowers.   Below are a few orchids.

I could simply could not leave Hawaii without photographing a Bird of Paradise!

Last put not least the favored flower for lei's.   I call this Mau Loa which is Hawaiin for forever.

What an amazing trip to Kona, Hawaii!  Two weeks of complete bliss!  I look forward to sharing more of my kaleidoscopes with you soon.

Until then, take care,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall in Love with Fall!

The Dirt Road Artists are having a contest.  Please stop by the website below and voter for your favorite fall inspired item.  You can enter for a chance to win a beautiful fall pottery bowl!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ely, MN Harvest Moon Festival

Another successful show in Ely the weather was extremely warm for this time of year.  I cannot believe it was in the high 80’s! 

Thank you Ely for your hospitality I had wonderful sales and met some fantastic people that I hope become friends. 

A fellow artist and friend Betsey Harris took these photos of my booth while in Ely.

What is up next?  Well I am glad you asked!  October 1st and 2nd I will be East Grand Forks for the Arts and Crafts Fair.  This will be my second year participating in this event. 

I have been working on new designs!  I have a new male hummingbird kaleidoscope, monarchs, grasshopper, frogs and more!  I will be releasing these next year and phasing out some of my older designs.

Until next time dear friends,


Monday, September 12, 2011

My New Website

Did you know if  you scroll to the bottom of this blog you have a link to my new website?  You can navigate my entire website from this blog!  Keep up to date on all my new designs!  Just make sure you give it some time to load.  If the screen is black just give it a few moments.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Kings Gardens and the Arts Of 84 Art Crawl

This is the first year I participated in this event as an artist and I must say it exceeded my wildest dreams!  King Gardens is a beautiful setting for an art fair and the proprietor, and Lissa Sumption was a fantastic host for this event.  The attendance to this event was nonstop art enthusiasts who made this event not only successful but just downright fun to be a vendor!  I cannot wait until next year!  If you are in the Longville, MN area you simply must stop by this lovely garden. 

Next weekend, September 9-11th I will be participating in Ely’s Harvest Moon Festival.  I had a successful show last year and have many new designs and products to show this year.  I cannot wait to visit with my Ely friends again…it has just been too long.  A fellow artist Betsy Harries, Sweetgrass Trading company, will also be attending and she creates the most amazing felt people.  I have a few photos here showing her amazing work. 

I have been doing a lot of maintenance on my website,  and hope that you will stop by and watch a slide show of my artwork on the front page.  You can also place an order, or request a special order while on the site.  On the contact page, there is a place for you to leave a comment if you like. 
Have a wonderful day,

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thorne Family Benefit Party

Christina Thorne of Bad Cat Creations is the first person that I posted a blog about.  Christina and her family are the most sincere and genuine people I know.  They have done a great deal for the community and Christina has done a great deal for the artists in this community. 

Christina's father has cancer and will be undergoing a very expensive stem cell transplant at the Mayo Clinic.  To help with the devistating cost a benefit pary has been planned. 

If you cannot attend please consider donating an item for a silent action or a cash donation.  Every dollar counts!

To donate an item for the silent auction please send the item by May 12th to:
Bad Cat Creations
315 Irvine Ave NW in Downtown Bemidji, MN 56601
Please indicate the value of the item so we know what to identify as the minimum bid.

For cash donations please send to the bank below by May 12th.
First National Bank Bemidji
Bob Thorne Benefit
PO Box 670
Bemidji MN 56619-0670

Thank you so much!  Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bad Cat Creations Blog

Challange....... Visit this blog and read my feature, leave a comment and follow this blog you could win one of my note cards......If I get over 50 comments I will add another note card....If I get over 100 comments I will add one of my ceramic tiles like above to the treasure! WOW....I may add more if there are over 100 comments...pass this on!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Baskets By Rose

Baskets by Rose!

Rose is a fellow Etsy Drat from Ash Township, Michigan who was born in Detroit, Michigan. She enjoys cooking, gardening and canning. She is a proud Army Mom of three who is also married to a veteran. Rose creates beautiful hand crafted baskets.

Rose has been basket weaving in since 1993. She attended an Adult Ed class to learn her craft. She is now learning about refinishing furniture. Rose has also been sewing 47 years and quilting for 31 years. She opened her Etsy Shop, Baskets By Rose in April of 2008. She learned about Etsy from fellow artist at the Sunday Artist Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her items are also available for purchase in a charming shop In Millerburg, OH called The Pioneer Loft . She occasionally participates in weekend markets around her home in Ash Township.

Rose weaves love into her baskets and takes great care to ensure incredible quality so the baskets withstand the test of time. Rose adds splashes of color to her pieces that sets her apart from other artists. Reed is one of her favorite materials because you get a different result each time you dye it.

Please read my interview with Rose below:.

Q: Do you have a special story about a piece you created?

A: Last year while working on a basket my son called that he was not coming home like planned and I messed up the basket. Well a couple of days later I seen another basket in the mess and then named it for my son.

Q: What is your favorite pieces and why it is your favorite.

A: I think my sunflower basket is so bright and cheerful.

Q: Do you have a special story about someone who has bought one of your pieces?

A: When I first started selling basket a lady purchased a big fancy basket to store her dirty underwear in. Just too much information for me!

Q: Do you have a special project you are working on now?

A: I working on some custom orders and getting ready for market season to open up.

You view and purchase Rose’s work at the websites below. Don’t forget to visit her blog!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Big Fat Art Barn

It never ceases to amaze me the creativity and talent of the artists I meet. I am especially amazed by artists that paint and draw. My skill for drawing and painting go as far as stick figures! Even then I am not sure if anyone would be able to depict the subject of my drawing! Sherry Hogan is an extremely talented artist that I met through the Dirt Road Artist Team.

Skinny Dipping By Sherry C Hogan

Below is my interview with Sherry.

Q: Tell me a little about yourself.

A: I was born on the battery in Charleston ,South Carolina and I have lived many places since that time. My parents traveled a good bit before I started school and since becoming an adult, I have moved about some. I have settled down, probably for good, here in Summerville, Ga.

Q: What are your other hobbies?

A: I love to read, crochet, ride horses, cook, restore old houses, and decorate them until they are beautiful again. I especially like gardening. I love being outside in the sunshine no matter what I am doing!

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: My passions are many I guess. I am passionate about my beliefs whether it is religion, mental and spiritual growth, always striving to be better…a more caring, more loving, more understanding person. I am passionate about being a good steward of this planet as a whole; caring for the people, the animals, the land. We have been given a grand blessing and we all should care for it and cherish it!

Q: What do you want people to know about you and your craft?

A: As far as being an artist, the only thing I could say is, this is the only thing I have ever really wanted to do or be…as far back as I can remember. I would hope that the desire and passion I feel for this thing called art would carry through to my endeavors and touch someone, at some time. My only desire for my art really is to make some body happy, sad, and hopeful, mad, angry, or even blissful…some reaction, some response. If I do that, then my art is speaking and I have done my job!

Q: What do you feel differentiates yourself from other artists in you craft?

A: I am not sure I can say that I am different from them all…no. It seems that, as far as technique goes, they have all been explored at one time or another. I guess we all strive to be different, but just as soon as you think you have managed it, you will find its been done. The only thing that sets any artist apart is his/her voice and how the artist manages to portray that in their art. Which takes us back to my other answer; I strive for a reaction!

By Sherry C Hogan

Q: Did you have a mentor?

A: The closest thing to a mentor that I ever had was a elderly man that was giving art lessons. He was an artist and a retired art teacher. One winter I took a few lessons from him in an adult class he was giving. After the class ended, he wanted me to continue. He gave me lessons free for a year and encouraged me in such a way that I truly, for the first time thought of myself as an “artist”.

Q: Your favorite materials and why are they are your favorite.

A: Not sure I have a favorite medium because I love to try new things but I do my paintings in a technique using color pencils and oil paint together which I know is an odd combination but it works so well for me.

Q: Do you dabble in other mediums?

A: Yes I do work in many mediums…drawing, pastel, oil, acrylic and more.

Q: How did you get started? How long have you been creating you art?

A: As a child, I managed to draw on everything. I am sure it drove my family to distraction. My aunt had one of those old tables popular when I was a kid, with the chrome sides and the colorful tops and I can’t think now what they are called. I could draw on it and then it just wiped off. I went to her house after school every afternoon, she would give me a snack and talk, and I would draw on the table. What started as a doodle evolved into something much more, I became engrossed in my drawing, and it became an entire scene of a nudist colony…houses, fences, people, and lots of trees and bushes and barrels, behind which all of the nudist could be found.I worked on it for a week and had the whole table covered. My obliging aunt left it there for me to work on …but that Sunday the minister came to visit and there was the nudist colony on her kitchen table. Needless to say, it was washed off after he left and my subject matter was screened from then on. I can’t remember a time in my life that I have not had a pencil in my hand.

Q: Do you sell on Etsy?

A: Yes, I have had an Etsy shop for about a year now. A friend clued me in to the sight. My website is At the moment my art is only featured at my Etsy shop, and my brick and mortal shop.

Q: Do you do art shows?

A: I have done art shows in the past but not anymore. Maybe again in the future…we’ll see!

Q: Do you have a special story about a piece you created?

A: I do have a painting that is very dear to me. I was going through a tough time in my life and truly wondered why I even needed to be on this earth and thought about leaving. I was very depressed and saw no way out of my unhappiness. I got up one morning, the house was empty, and I decided to paint. I had no notion of what, I just picked up the brush and went at that canvas as if my life depended on it and in essence, it did. Because, when I finished I sat back and looked at it and all I felt was hope for the future and I knew that I would never ever be that despondent again; that there would always be a sunrise and a better day ahead.

The Future By Sherry C Hogan

Q: What is your favorite piece?

A: It seems my greatest joys, associated with my art, was always with pieces I gave away or did for someone. I did a backdrop for the Chattanooga’s Boys Choir once for a show they were putting on. The piece was a scene of the Chattanooga skyline at night with the stars out. It was huge about 15” high and all the way across the stage. When the curtains opened, the entire audience just gasped and then sighed and finished with applause. I was standing in the back of the auditorium and all I could think was this was better than any amount of money I could ever make on a painting.

Cows by Sherry C Hogan

Sherry’s Websites:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fine Old Things

Spring is in the air – here in Bemidji, MN it is a balmy 43 degrees! For those of us that live in the great white north that is getting warm! Snow and ice are melting and I can smell spring in the air. I am ready to replace the bluish white with pristine green!

I have learned more about my kaleidoscope designs recently. When I cut them out in a circle and place them on a pendant, in a paperweight and sun catcher they may be categorized as a mandala! A mandala is sacred geometry and art. Although an authentic mandala is created by a monk with extensive training, but the concept is the same. When I began creating my kaleidoscope designs it came naturally for me, from my inner peaceful self. I find it interesting that I find peace and serenity in nature and then create a design that is used over many religions and disciplines as a meditation tool.

Enough about me……I want to share with you another fellow Dirt Road Artist team member I have had the pleasure meeting, Karen from Fine Old Things. Karen has a vintage Etsy shop. As the years pass I find more of my belongings are now labeled as vintage…..I chose to label myself as vintage….increasing in value as each year passes!

Karen was born in Chicago, IL and now resides in a suburb of Chicago, Itasca, IL.

She enjoys traveling, crafts, scenery photography and home decorating.

Her passion is her family including her husband, kids and grandkids. She especially adores her elderly mother that she loves dearly.

Karen is accomplished at scrapbooking and creating note cards and fridge magnets. It did not take long for her to master these skills and was taken by surprise how much she enjoyed her new hobbies.

Karen shares that she got started in her craft while searching for a hobby for her “old age”. She wanted to nurture here creative side and discovered scrapbooking.

Shopping is a true calling of Karen’s. While a member of Etsy she discovered that many of the items she owned were classified as vintage. This intrigued Karen, she is aware where to find more, resale shops and estate sales. She loves to search for “oldies but goodies” and is anxiously waiting for spring to hit the pavement in search for more treasures!

A favorite nostalgic treasure of Karen’s are china/porcelain figurines. They were popular during her childhood. Although they were a “Nick Nack” on display she was allowed to play and create imaginary worlds with them if she was very careful!

Karen has been a member of Etsy since March of 2009 when she opened her Scrapbook/note card/fridge magnet store Expressions123. She opened her vintage store Fine Old Things in January of 2011. She discovered Etsy when researching online craft stores as a new resource for selling her items. The fees for craft shows were becoming too expensive. Etsy’s size and features impressed Karen and the rest is history! Karen will occasionally participate in a an art show if the fees are extremely reasonable and are in a 20 mile radius of her home.

Here are a few of Karen’s favorite vintage figurines. She secretly hopes they don’t sell as she is quite fond of them. I think we all run into that problem with some of the items we sell!

Karen says this is a favorite because it is "simply beautiful to me with its fine detail & soft colors"

Karen states this is a favorite because, "resembles a cute little boy I know"

Karen is currently on the hunt for Limoges porcelain. She says there is nothing prettier!

You can visit Karen’s Etsy shops at the links below.

If you would like to contact Karen you can email her at:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Joyann Green-Sabo

I met Joyann when I joined the Dirt Road Artists team on Etsy. I immediately admired here range of talents and nature inspired work. Take a look at her Etsy Shop Joyfulartstudio, and you will find she dabbles in many different mediums.

Joyann Green-Sabo was born in Charlevoix, MI and currently lives in Grand Haven, MI. She has also lived in Chicago, Northern WI, Orlando and Detroit.

Joyann enjoys reading, camping, rock picking. She is passionate about art, her soul mate, trees and water. She shares, “I feel complete when camped on the beach of Lake Superior with my husband Tim”.

Joyann employs skills from several different art disciplines, including stained glass, lapidary, metalsmithing, wire wrapping, mosaic, glass fusing, painting, and polymer clay. This is what differentiates her craft from others. The combination of mediums and disciplines provides a distinctive appearance to her art. She acquired a majority of her skills from trial and error, but also learned from classes, DVDs and books.
Dichroic glass cabochon in sterling silver with pink tourmaline, amethyst and chalcedony, hand made chain
Joyann’s favorite material depends on her current project. She explains that, “It would be too hard to choose just one type of material.” She appreciates the challenge of working with kiln-fired glass because, “the color but it is not always easy to get it to do what I want.” She also is fond of Polymer clay because she can manipulate it to create the shapes she wants. She enjoys sterling silver because it will accentuate almost any stone no matter what color. She likes using rocks in her work because it gives her a cause to hunt for more.
"Herman the Rock Star" Mosaic on a rock with turquoise beads for eyes marble base
Joyann started in acrylic paints when she was 20 years old. In her thirties, she started making sterling silver jewelry. When she married her soul mate, Tim, they started doing art/craft fairs and gem and mineral shows in Michigan and Ohio.

Joyann and her husband discovered glass fusing when they went to a local glass shop to pick out glass for someone to make a window for them. Tim had gotten Joyann a little kiln for Christmas to use with PMC, which she disliked. The woman at the glass shop said "you can use that kiln for glass" and the rest is history. Joyann took a stained glass and several fusing classes from her.

"Brilliant Garden" Mosaic on a recycled window.  Flower petals and bug bodies are fused glass

She has taught fusing classes for several years at a local store. She has glass in a local gallery and I'm in the process of sending more things to Gallery 35 in Alpharetta, GA.

You can visit Joyann’s Etsy shop at:
London Blue topaz in sterling silver handmade filigree. Each piece of wire is cut, formed and soldered by hand.

Waiting and Watching" fused glass panel 30" x 18" custom for Robert. His reaction

"UPS just left. WOW WOW WOW what a beautiful piece of art. You are the best The colors are beyond words and the design is beyond beautiful. YOU ARE SO TALENTED!!!!!!! your e bay store does not even come close to capturing your talents. Please always keep my e mail address to share with anyone who may question your talents I would be more then happy to express my feelings and to share a picture of your work.Again I am so very happy that I had you as the artist for the renovations You have done a splended beyond expectations job  Many Many Thanks Robert"

"Jungle Flowers" Mosaic wall art. Flower petals and stems, leaves, cabochons all fused glass.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Green Janie!

She is one of my heros! Out to save our planet from junk, literally! She will recycle and reuse and best of all creates awesome works of art from items we would think to discard. A fellow Bad Cat Creations artist that I have had the honor to get to know!

Please read about Green Janie!

I am Jane Marks-Hastig aka “green janie”

I was born in Cheyenne WY but moved to St Paul Minnesota when I was very little. I have lived in beautiful Bemidji MN for about 25 years.

I love being outdoors – camping, fishing and have recently started- slowly -running. I also love to read and spend time with my family and friends. I care a great deal about our environment and the world we are leaving to future generations.

I have always been creative and crafty but never intended to be an artist. It just sort of happened. It has opened up a whole new world for me.

I don’t do traditional mosaics. I often leave a lot of open space in my glass on glass mosaics. I use mostly salvaged materials in everything I make.

I don’t have a formal mentor but glean so much from the generous artist I have met in the past few years who share their craft and impart their wisdom.

I work with salvaged tempered glass and other glass destined for the trash like scrap plate, mirror and bottles and jars. I use a lot of UV curable adhesives and glass paint. I am having a blast experimenting with color!

I have started experiment with adding other salvages materials too.

My husband and I own a glass company. I have always loved glass – the way it plays with light, the way it is both strong and delicate at the same time – the fact that it is a cradle to cradle material that is 100% recyclable. Unfortunately there are a lot of roadblocks to glass recycling and we have a lot of waste in our industry. I started using broken tempered glass because it breaks into smooth pieces that are easy to handle. I thought I could do something pretty with it instead of sending it to the landfill where it will remain for a million years.

I have an Etsy store but really haven’t done much with it yet. It is next on my “to-do” list.

My website/blog is currently under construction and it is going to be really cool.

The first place that ever featured my art is Bad Cat Gallery and Gifts in Bemidji and is the only place I consistently sell my work. It is such a wonderful, artist friendly, eclectic place. I don’t think I would have had the courage to keep trying artistic endeavors if it wasn’t for Bad Cat.

Every time I think I have a favorite piece I make another favorite. I love Trees an am currently obsessed with them in my work. I still love the first piece I ever made. About 3 years ago, I started painting the broken glass pieces and thought artists might like to use it. I thought I should experiment to see how best to present it to people.

I found some old frames that a clock maker had abandoned at the glass shop. I put a piece of scrap plate glass in the frame, and started making a tree from some dark tined auto glass. The green glass looks a little like leaves so I put those on too and I just loved how it turned out. I was hooked. Not only is is a rush to create cool and beautiful things out of things from the garbage – it also gives me the opportunity to talk about sustainability and taking care of the earth.

I always admired artists but never thought I would find myself in that category. This has been such a positive experience in so many ways. Now I can’t imagine my life any other way.

Written by Jane Hastings

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Evolution of the Dirt Road Artists

I have been a photographer for over 10 years. My sister got me started in photography and I fell in love immediately with capturing wildlife in action and landscape photos. Nature and wildlife is my passion. I love wildlife because they do not care how much you make a year, what you wear or if you are having a bad hair day, they just accept. Nature is the most sincere and pure form of life. I rarely feel like I fit in anywhere, accept when I immersed myself in nature. There I am calm, inspired and most of all feel accepted for who I am. In March of 2010 I took the HUGE emotional leap into showing and possibly selling my art. A dear friend of mine suggested Etsy. I created a shop immediately but did not start seriously selling on Etsy until November of 2010. I found a team called the Dirt Road Artists, applied and was accepted. Here I have found another rare place that I feel accepted. The Dirt Road Artists are a talented, diverse and supportive group of artists. Please read below the evolution of this team and the fearless leaders that have given many artists a place to promote, grow and support each other.  I am so grateful for the new friends I have made.

(written by:  Phyllis Lucas)
The Dirt Road Artists team is a group of artists who live in small towns world-wide and sell their wares on Etsy, an online site where you can purchase all things handmade or vintage. Sharing the common bond of rural small town life, we promote our art as a team through contests, sales, and other promotional events – mostly we have fun, exchange ideas and enjoy one another’s company.

The Dirt Road Artists team, or as we refer to ourselves, DRATs, was started by Jude, aka azJude, and her two daughters, Connie and Phyllis in January 2010. The story behind our beginning is really quite simple and humble.

Let’s go back to early February 2007, when Phyllis, Montezuma Mudd Pottery, desperately needed a venue for selling her wares. Her basement was stacked floor to ceiling with her handmade pottery, piles teetering in every corner, leaving her no place to work. During a phone conversation with her daughter, she mentioned her dire situation and asked “What am I going to do with all these pots?” Her daughter replied quite matter-of-factly, “I know the perfect solution - Etsy. You can sell that mountain of pottery without leaving home – you can even wear your pajamas.” Intrigued by this idea, Phyllis ran to her computer and introduced herself to Etsy. She liked what she saw and immediately set-up shop, joined a team and immersed herself in everything Etsy. Jude, being her biggest fan, was there with her – not as a seller, but as a promoter. Jude created treasuries featuring Phyllis’s pottery, helped promote contests in which Phyllis was an entrant, and posted links of Phyllis’s work on her blog and Facebook page. It was a great partnership – Phyllis created, Jude promoted, and promoted, and promoted some more! Phyllis quickly sold the mountains of pots, and had requests to make more. Life was good!

Friends and family began urging Connie to show and sell prints of her amazing pencil drawings. She had recently returned to drawing after a decade long hiatus and wasn’t sure about selling her art, let alone selling on Etsy. After much thought, she reluctantly decided to give it a whirl. LifeShades opened for business in September 2009. Jude was thrilled – more promoting, more treasuries, more contests – oh my! But wait … Connie did not belong to a team! Without a team, there were no contests for her to enter, no contests for Jude to promote! It became clear – Connie needed to join a team: not just any team but one that would accept all of them, Connie, Phyllis and Jude, would be super and make promoting much easier. So the search was on. They looked high and low, kicked tire after tire, and even tried on the glass slipper, but could not find a perfect fit. Then, just as they were ready to throw in the towel, Connie was struck with an idea – one could almost see the cartoon light bulb light up when she said, “Why don’t we start our own team and put Jude at the helm?” Brilliant!

The decision to start the team was the easy part; the details of the team were more difficult and evolved more slowly. After a short brainstorming session, the team concept and name were set – Dirt Road Artists, a team for artists living in small, rural towns with populations of 25,000 or fewer (not to include livestock or dogs). With the team name in mind, membership requirements were discussed, drafted, rewritten and finalized. Connie designed and drew the barn for the team logo and e-mailed it to Phyllis, who created a banner and avatar. Armed with all the necessary components, Phyllis applied to Etsy for team status, which was granted on January 8, 2010. We were officially a team! Jude immediately set to work recruiting, accepting, and greeting new members – six in the first month! The team was growing slowly but surely, and each member brought new talent and personality to the team – painters, quilters, photographers, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, storytellers, veterans, rock collectors – you name it, we have it! We come from all over the world and are diverse in talent and personality – a great team!

The Dirt Road Artists team celebrated our 1-year anniversary in January 2011, and along with Connie, Phyllis and Jude, three other team members marked one year with the team - Pam of pworiginals, Natasha of GreenhouseGlassworks, and Cheryl of cherylzmillerArt . Congratulations! We have had a wonderful year sharing stories and laughs, and supporting one another in our Etsy journeys and in life. We look forward to many more fun-filled days and “back porch chats”.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lorri's Things

In November of this year, I finally got serious about selling my items on Etsy. I set a goal to join a team. I found the Dirt Road Artists. This is where I met jewelry artist, Lorri Amidon.

Lorri Amidon
Lorri was born in Jamaica, New York and now resides in Ottoman Virginia. Lorri enjoys camping, baking, and reading things of that nature. She also enjoys bird watching, bridge, rowing, cooking, reading, walking thru the woods and crabbing.

Lorri is passionate about family. She also believes that congressional elected officials should have limited terms with no permanent benefits from serving in Congress. She feels that all states and government must have a balanced budget and can only spend the money they have just as each and every family needs to do. She also believes in The Bill of Rights and individuals rights.

Lorri loves working and designing items from metal. She continues to work hard to be more proficient and efficient in her craft. She strives to make affordable yet unique jewelry. Instead of trying to match earrings as a pair, she challenges herself to make every piece different and unique.

Lorri’s sense of style and design is less rather than more. She does design items that she personally would not wear knowing there is a person out there that would love to wear it, cherishing it for all the love and work that goes into making it.

Lorri got started as an artist by taking adult education classes at her local high school. She was looking for a hobby to do in retirement. She experimented with every art medium available except painting. She knew in grade school that she could not paint in a way that made her happy.

Lorri started developing her jewelry making skills 1989 when her kids fledged the nest. In 1997, she felt she was ready to sell her pieces. A friend told her about Etsy, a website to sell all things handmade. Lorri’s Things opened up shop on Etsy in July of 2009.

Lorri has had many mentors. She got her start by accompanying her artistic blacksmith husband to conferences and guild meetings. She wanted to hammer but not on steel. A mentor by the name of Faye has showed her how to work with copper. Every time they meet, he gives her little tutorials to help make her designs in copper and silver.

 Lorri favors using sterling silver and copper. She can hammer them making them move into all different shapes. Each piece she creates becomes a part of her. She would love to work with gold but it is cost prohibitive. She calls her copper and silver work “play” because she gets so much enjoyment from handling it and learning more about it each day.

Lorri dabbles in other mediums as well. She creates folk art. Some of these are Street urchins (Christmas Carolers) created from gesso, Styrofoam, paint and odd pieces of material. She up cycles by reusing recycled bottles of different sizes. Lorri also creates garden sculptures from antique or old dishes that she drills, copper and copper pipe.

Lorri has participated in the Artist’s Studio Tour that the local library sponsors. It allows people to visit her small studio, learn about her craft and purchase her pieces. She also sells her work at a local gallery, Rappahanock Hang-Ups.

My interview with Lorri

Q: Do you have a special story about a piece you created?

A: I created a whimsical crab pin. A friend has a love of pins and she buys a pin everywhere she goes. She happened to have on a crab pin one day and I said I could make her one that would give her a grin. I proceeded to draw and make one out of copper. Then I made another, which I fired making it turn the color red like a cooked crab. I went further and added some beads for eyes. So, making her laugh I have now made about 15-20 crabs all different but very whimsical. I did find it very difficult to get a pair to match perfectly, so I have only made one pair of earrings. To make them match exactly takes too much time and no one wants to pay for that added time.

Q: Do you have a special story about someone who has bought one of your pieces?

A: Yes, I have a charming elderly lady that comes to my booth at the farmers market almost every month. She has me repair items she has bought from a vendor that sells commercial pieces. Almost every bracelet she buys breaks. I tried explaining that she is too hard on delicate jewelry and then I proceed to fix it at a nominal fee. She always buys a piece of my jewelry. She bought a pair of earrings that were black onyx and silver. She came back the next month saying she lost one at a funeral and was there anything I could do… Of course there was. I took the remaining earring and went home to make a duplicate. The next time I saw her I handed her the earring and she insisted on paying me double what I asked for the replacement.

Q: Do you have a special project you are working on now?

A: The project I am currently working on is Christmas ornaments of angels. These angels are of copper or brass and their head, legs and arms move freely. Only, I want to add some enamel work to each of them and that is where the trouble lies. I want the enamel to be a striking but not overly so element. Maybe I will have them done before Christmas 2011.
You can see Lorri’s creations at her Etsy shop:
Lorri's Things - Etsy Shop

Have questions for Lorri? Contact her at: