Sunday, May 26, 2013

What You See ... New Display Ideas

In a little less than two weeks, on June 8, 2013, I will be selling my creations at the Berkley Art Bash.  Shortly thereafter, on July 14th, I'll have a booth at Lure for the Cure in Taylor, Michigan.  But perhaps most exciting of all, as of the beginning of July, Gossamer Tangles will be getting a new "permanent" home at Art is in Market in the Laurel Park Place Mall in Livonia, Michigan!  All these new opportunities have made me start thinking about freshening up my displays.  I've been pretty happy with my earring display.  I use an antique frame, strung with wire, on an easel.  Many people have commented on how much they like it and how unique it is.

However, I've been less satisfied with the displays I've come up with for some of my other items.  I decided to go to Hobby Lobby and The Christmas Tree Shop and just sort of wander through the aisles, see what was on sale or clearance, and see if I could get inspired.  I found a couple of cheaply-priced, vintage-looking bird cages, and some interesting drawer pull-knobs that were 50% off.  I combined the two and made these bird cage displays for my necklaces.

I also found some metal and rattan baskets at bargain prices and decided to see what I could do with those. Here's some of the ideas I came up with.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Do you think these new displays work?  Any ideas on how I might tweak them?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Viper Girl #3: Fun Vacation Adventure Story for the Young and Young-at-Heart

As I mentioned last week, I was busy helping my son, Tony Saylor, get his newest kids' book formatted for print and ebook sales.  I'm happy to say that as of yesterday, Viper Girl Kicks Canadian Robottom, is available on and Barnes & Noble!  Here are the links:

Print edition -
Kindle edition -
Nook edition -

Tony did the illustrations for the first two books himself, but this time, he worked with a wonderful, professional illustrator, Emily Zelasko.  Tony was a bit worried about whether someone else would be able to really capture the way he saw and felt Viper Girl, but he was very happy with Emily's art.  He felt that Emily really understood Viper Girl, and that her art work gave the story exactly the look and feel and he wanted.  Here are a couple of sample illustrations from the book:

I don't want to spoil the story, but I can tell you its very humorous -- in a way that both kids and adults can appreciate.  Here is the "blurb" from the back of the book:
Viper Girl’s been working too hard as a superhero. She's feeling the stress and she needs a vacation. What's the best place on earth for a peaceful, nerve-calming vacation? That’s right: Canada! Of course, this is Viper Girl we’re talking about, so it won’t exactly be a your run-of-the-mill, get-away-from-it-all escape. Even across the border, Viper Girl is going to have to kick evil’s ugly butt!
As someone who spent many Saturday afternoons as a kid watching old Japanese sci-fi, monster movies, the story  reminds me of a light-hearted Godzilla epic ... only its set in Canada, and with mechanical "monsters".  But if you remember those old films, they always seemed to have a great child character involved in the development of the plot to deal with the monster.  In this story, Viper Girl, the little girl superhero, definitely saves the day!

This is the third book in the Viper Girl series, although they don't need to be read in any particular order.

Viper Girl vs. The Poltergeist Pirate Opossum of Plundering Peril
Viper Girl is enjoying an ordinary night playing her favorite video game. When she goes down to the kitchen to get a snack, she is shocked to discover a tall, thin ninja who has come to warn her that a ghostly pirate rodent is on his way to find her ... and its not to wish her well. The ninja comes bearing a gift -- something she'll need to defeat her foe. Then, the pirate shows up and Viper Girl's evening of comic weirdness and awesome adventure really begins!

Viper Girl's Killer Cake and Cookie Catastrophe
Viper Girl and her pet fox, Logan, are preparing to watch their favorite cartoon marathon. Viper Girl knows she's going to need to keep her energy level up to stay focused for all the fun, so she decides to bake a little snack to keep her going. But her attempt to make a sugary treat yields some surprising results, and Viper Girl is once again called upon to save the day!
Emily also has another book out that she has illustrated, Curious Sam.
Sam is a playful cat that makes discoveries about the world around him in a delightfully humorous way. Join Sam as he investigates everything that tickles his sense of fun.
All of the Viper Girl books, plus Tony's longer, middle-grade novel, Cootie the Not-So-Oddly-Named Girl Makes the Ultimate Pizza, will be available June 8, 2013 at the Berkley Art Bash.

Tony will be sharing space there with me that day.  I'll be displaying and selling my jewelry and accessories, and Tony will be signing and selling his books.  That's only three weeks from today! Yikes, I better get busy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Miscellany: Works in Progress

I intended to post on Friday. I intended to post on Saturday.  Maybe Sunday?  I was hoping.  Nope. It's Monday night and I am just finally able to sit down and put a blog entry together. What can I say?  I've been really busy with the "creative" end of things.  Sometimes it is just hard to find the time to take photos, edit photos, write ... and all the other things that go into putting together a blog post.  That said, I really am sorry I wasn't able to get something together sooner.

Today, I thought I would share some of the things that have kept me from doing a "timely" post.  I have several items that I've completed, but I haven't had the opportunity to get the photos done and get them listed in my Etsy and Art Fire shops.  Among them is this pair of spring flower earrings in shell pink:

These are a variation on the crocheted spring flower earrings I shared a pattern for in my post of March 29, 2013.

Some of you may have seen photos of this kiss clasp clutch in an earlier blog post.  Can you tell what has changed since the earlier photos were taken?

I hadn't listed it yet in my online shops because I just felt that it did not work well as a clutch.  It was unwieldy to carry.  It needed handles.  I've now added them and I think it is a much more practical design.  Plus, I like the way it looks.

I also finished my gray/multicolor crocheted clutch with the fabric flower embellishments.  I used a heavy interfacing/fabric stabilizer to give it body.  It really holds its shape well.

I also finished a new version of my Chain Reaction Necklace.  This one is done in pinks, greens, and browns.

Directions for how to make this type of necklace were in my post of April 14, 2013.

One of the main reasons I didn't post over the weekend is that I was finishing up Mother's Day gifts.  Unfortunately, I finished them just in the nick of time and didn't even have the opportunity to photograph them.  I do have a photo of the felted clutch that I made for my mom, but it only shows the body of the purse.  This was before I lined it or added the crocheted flower embellishment.

I also made crocheted flower brooches for my son-in-law's mother and his two grandmas.  Here is a photo of a black, gray and white flower pin in progress.

I decided I wanted more "springy" looking flowers, so ended up doing theirs in colors like yellow, aqua, and magenta.  I used a fancy button to serve as the center in each flower.

I have also been working on this crocheted scarf.  I call it my "Aztec Scarf". It's been an interesting design to work with -- both in terms of creating a pattern that would give me the look I wanted and in the way the rows are worked.  I stitch a two rows and then have to go back and fill in a row.  

I love the texture and color of the yarn!

I also did a "photo shoot", using my daughter, Betsy, as my model. She was very generous with her time!  I wanted to get some photos of my creations, especially the scarves and hair ornaments, being worn by a live person.  It gives a much better perspective of size and how they can be worn.  I've only added a couple of the new photos to my online store listings, but hope to have time to add more of them over the next few weeks.  Here is a photo of her wearing my Crocheted Wire, Fiber, Sequin, Bead Pink and Silver Floral Hair Comb.

The final thing that's kept me very engaged from Friday through today is helping my son, Tony Saylor, get his newest Viper Girl series book formatted and submitted for printing.  It's always a tedious process, but this book is particularly image heavy and I needed to be creative in trying to get the pictures and text laid out in a way that worked with the page size.  It was liking putting a puzzle together.  The book is titled Viper Girl Kicks Canadian Robottom  and it should be coming out within the next week or so on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  It will also be for sale at the Berkley Art Bash on June 8.  Emily Zelasko did the artwork and it is amazing!  She is a wonderful children's illustrator, and her drawings really brought Tony's action-packed story to life!

So, that's what I've been up to.  What's creative endeavors (large, small, real, imaginary) are keeping you occupied these days?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Squirrels and Pugs and Cockatiel Hugs

I'm up in my studio/office, putting the finishing touches on the flowers that will embellish a crocheted clutch I made this week, when downstairs in the kitchen, I hear a scrabbling noise against the screen in the sliding glass door that goes out to the deck. It's a soft little scratching and bumping sound, and  I know immediately, Bernadette is back! I lay aside my needle, thread, and beads, and head down to the kitchen.  There she is, staring in at me with her deep, inquisitive brown eyes; her tiny paws curled against her chest. 

Bernadette is a beautiful, spunky red squirrel that visits my deck every day.  Why do I call her Bernadette? I really can't say.  That was the name that popped into my head for her and no other name I tried seemed to fit.

Bernadette helps herself to food at the bird feeder that hangs in the lilac bush next to the deck, and she has even found a way to scale the brick next to the window wall adjoining the door, make a stretch and a flying leap, and get to the clear, acrylic bird feeder I have attached with suction cups to the window.  One day, she fit her whole body inside the little feeder, and just sat and stuffed herself!

But when the food is gone, Bernadette always comes to the door to get my attention and let me know!  She makes noises against the screen or window until I come over.  She then stares at me with her bright, soulful eyes (think Puss in the Shrek movies), and very clearly communicates to me that she would really like it if I would put out something more for her to eat.  When I don't have time to run out and refill the feeders, I will just put some black oil sunflower seeds in a little dish and set it outside the door, where she is patiently waiting.  She scampers up to the bowl and digs in. 

Sometimes, even when there is food available, Bernadette will just come over to the window wall, stand with her paws on the glass, and peer in.  She does this most often when I am sitting at the table eating breakfast or lunch.  It's as if she wonders whether the food I'm eating might be better than what's available on the bird feeder.  I go over and talk to her a bit.  She seems to like to just stand there and listen.

On Tuesday, the workmen arrived and removed our deck.  We'd had it for 20 years, and it was rotting.  We had to replace it.  Unfortunately, this meant there was no way for Bernadette to get up to the sliding glass door and window wall for our chats.  Since we are dealing with drainage issues, it will probably be another week before the new deck is built.  I miss my daily visits with my lively companion.

Bernadette is still visiting the bird feeder and I am trying to be extra vigilant about keeping it filled. One benefit of having the deck out of the way is that I can now enjoy watching the many birds that feed on the ground from the seed that Bernadette spills as she gobbles away.  We have a pair of mallard ducks that have built their nest in our yard and they love to come and chow down on Bernadette's leftovers.  They usually waddle over twice a day for a meal.

Papa and Mama Duck

Bernadette feeding the ducks.
Many people would say I am crazy to attribute communication skills to a squirrel, but I don't see how anyone who watches her could fail to be convinced.  She clearly wants contact, knows how to get my attention, and knows how to let me know what she wants.

Coincidentally, over the past week and a half I was reading Animal Wise by Virginia Morell, a book about the latest science and findings regarding animal cognition.  What an absolutely fascinating book!

There was nothing about squirrels, but she covered ants to whales, and many species in between.  There is no question that we are finally beginning to recognize that animals have complex cognitive skills and emotions.  The more I learn about the animal mind, the more I think I really need to become a vegetarian -- I have more and more difficulty eating meat.

The information related in Animal Wise was very interesting, but it didn't surprise me.  My own relationship with animals has long convinced that they are intelligent, emotional, and spiritual beings.  I raised a cow bird, Nan, when I was in junior high.  My brothers found her when she was a baby.  She was on the ground and had been abandoned.  I cared for her and raised her.  She would sit on my lap while I read or watched TV.  When she was hungry, she would go stand in front of the refrigerator and "yell" to be fed.  She liked to take a shower in my hands in the laundry tub. She would even go outside with me and not fly away -- until one day my brother ran from the yard with her on his shoulder.

I currently have two pugs, adopted through Pug Rescue Network.  Yue Ying (the black one) is seven and Logan (the fawn one) is twelve.

Yue Ying


They spend most of the day with me and constantly demonstrate that they understand how to make me understand how they are feeling and what they need.  It is also easy to tell when they are feeling joyful or when they are upset about something or sad.  Their eyes, faces, and body language are very expressive.

My cockatiel, Gnocchi, is also a very intelligent little guy.  Not only can he whistle, "If I Only Had a Brain" and the "Andy Griffith Theme Song", but he can imitate various household sounds, like the tea kettle, the cupboard doors opening, the microwave and oven timer, etc.  He is so sweet.  If I tell him I love him, he will  bend his head down so that I will stop and give him a kiss.  He also likes to cuddle against my cheek while I talk softly to him.
Gnocchi, my cockatiel
My life is so much richer because of my animal companions, both wild and domesticated.  They are my unique and wonderful friends.

REMINDER: Mother's Day is only one week away.  I'm still running my "20% off everything" sale.  Free card and gift wrap is included.  Use coupon code:  LOVEMOM in either my Etsy or Art Fire shops.  If you want your gift delivered by Mother's Day (within the continental US), order by Wednesday, May 8, 2013.