Change is Good

P1050522La Pine Sunset 8-1-2015

They say that you should reinvent yourself from time to time. I sat down with my noggin and had a good long think about what I was trying to accomplish with my shop….my life for that matter. I wanted to make a difference, not just keep heaving handmade products onto a website and hoping by some small miracle, I was found and adored. I looked at what I have learned over the past year, what I have changed about myself and how I could best put my talents to good use.

For those who don’t actually know me, and that would make 99.9999999% of the world (including my 4 followers at this time, I believe), I have a condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The details of this condition are best left to another blog, perhaps on another site, but in a nutshell, the connective tissue in my body is slowly, painfully, starting to stiffen with age. With it comes early onset arthritis and easily dislocated joints. This is not a good condition to have when one considers themselves and artist and NEED to work with their hands. Seriously, it is second only to breathing and frequently manages to upstage eating and sleeping. Why do I mention this to you? Because as my body has become less and less cooperative and my medicine cabinet has become more and more full, I frequently find myself wondering how much time I have left to create. I wonder how others, women especially, manage to cope daily with chronic conditions that plague their every move. I think about women mostly, not only because I am one, but also because we tend to be the stoic ones. We soldior on, doing what has to be done and the world around us seems to completely overlook, for get, or be unaware of the fact that we are in pain. I know this because it is my life, and I know this because over the past year I have had the honor of talking with many other women in online support groups, who are wondering the same things I am. Most of these women do not have EDS, they have Fibromyalgia, cancer, MS, RA, you name it. I wish there was something I could do to let these women know they are not alone.

So, I have decided to start yet ANOTHER shop. This one, however, I intend to take most of my focus as it is something that is truly close to my heart. The shops name is Tough Girls and its primary focus will be on handmade healing, comforting and beautifying items. There will be chemo hats and scarves that make you feel pretty. Lap blankets that are just the right size to take to your infusion or cuddle with, Painted rocks you can heat and place on sore muscles. Scented sachets to calm nerves, and perhaps candles and lotions in the near future. I am looking for suggestions, of course. I would especially welcome any ideas from women (and men) who have experience in long term conditions. Did you ever wish you had a special shirt that could cover your IV port? A cover for your cast to keep the dirt off your toes? Ace bandages that were actually pretty? I intend to try and dabble in any and all things that might brighten the day, ease the pain or simply make a woman feel a little bit more attractive, when she is feeling her worst.

The shop is set up on Etsy as ToughGirls and while it is not stocked at this time, it will be in the near future. Most items will be by request at first so I do not put too much time and energy making products no one is interested in. I hope you will visit.

A New Shop…..Again.

I know it seems like I open a new shop just about every year. First I had my gift shop Tangible Imaginings. Then I added Blue Daisy Supplies and its counterpart Blue Daisy Antiques. Both of these are idle at present, but I am getting ready to open the supplies in the next week or so. Now I have added Tough Girls which is a shop catering to gifts for women who need comfort. I will also be starting a blog here on WordPress at ToughGirls.org. I hope to discuss ways of healing, helping and coping. Lastly, in the not TOO distant future, I will be opening a shop called Pronghorn Designs which will cater to crafts made and sourced entirely in Oregon.

WHEW! Somewhere in between, I will be making things to stock these shops and maybe looking for a partner or two who have a similar vision.

My husband and I have taken on a quest to collect as many interesting rock samples as we can use from various sites here in Oregon. We plan to use these stones and any interesting wood we find as well, in our Pronghorn creations. A few weeks ago, we went in search of thunder-eggs. We found a well known spot, got out our shovels and stood there wondering where to begin. They say in rock hunting, if you don’t know where to start, you should dig where someone else has already been digging; so that is what we did. We were in dust up to our eyeballs, clamoring under old dead tree roots and eventually we came home with a bucket full of good candidates. Of course, once we got home, we realized that we had no way to cut into these incredibly hard stones and that is where we sit today.

Most of the thunder-eggs from the area we dug are red jasper. Some could be agate, but it is unlikely that we will find a geode amongst the heap.

Our next foray into stone searching will be for something a bit smaller and more useable. We will be heading out for a long weekend to collect Oregon Sunstone, a fiery form of Feldspar that can be clear as crystal or internally fractured with shades of the sun. In a rare case, you might find a bit that is greenish-gray and full of schiller. I can’t wait!!!

This Year’s Trip to California

Every year, about this time, I try to make a trip to California to see my parents who live in Cambria. For those of you who do not know, Cambria is on the coast about half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It has a rocky shoreline that is known for it’s “moonstones” which are actually ocean washed pieces of quartz. The whole beach is crazy with agates and jade as well as jasper and smooth chunks of sandstone and occasional bits of sea glass.

My parents are both rock people. My mother is a geologist with a mind like a trap and a keen eye for spotting the unusual amid the piles of ordinary. She has collected lovely and odd rocks her whole life. Her favorites will always be those with at least one perfect quartz ring around them. She wears one around her neck that her father had mounted for her when she was a child. Even he knew her love of rocks was innate. My father is a geophysicists; a MARINE one to be specific. How rocks form is more his business, but he compliments my mother well when they are out and about staring at the ground and poking things with their toes.

The weather this trip was ideal. I drove the 700 miles there with my eldest daughter, Dsay and my aged Golden Retriever, Amelia. There has been a lot of smoke in the air from regional forest fires but the air in Cambria was clear, for the most part. In between spending time visiting, we went to the beach to collect what we could, allegedly for the new rock tumbler my husband had given me for our recent anniversary. Instead, i mostly collected rocks that are just perfect the way they are.

California Rocks

These are a variety of stones, from granite to jasper with some shell and sandstone as well. My thought is to arrange them into necklaces with perhaps a more interesting stone as the focal point, perhaps not. It’s hard to decide. They feel good between the fingers; cool and smooth; very calming.

California Gems

While we were there, we also visited my favorite antique shop in Cambria. They have a wonderful collection of stone beads as well as stone specimens and ore samples. These beads I brought back as well. Maybe I will incorporate them into my stone necklace idea, maybe I wont. First, I need to unpack the boxes and boxes of stone specimens that my parents gave me from their own collection. I hope to share a few of those with you soon as well. Big things are coming! I can feel it.

I’m Back!!!!!! (say it like Poltergeist)

I can’t believe it has been a year since I really posted anything on this site. I only meant to be gone for a few months but in the end it took us 8 months just to get moved. We had to clean out a 2200 sf house that had been continually occupied by three generations for 35 years. You can imagine, I imagine, the amount of junk that that many people can tuck away over that long a period of time. We (my family of 6) were by FAR the worst of our little group, I take full blame for 85%. It’s hard trying to find room to run a home business, especially since I have yet to determine what it is exactly that I do. It’s a bit of art, a bit of jewelry design and a lot of crochet, but if the sky were the limit, I would be making things 20 hours a day out of almost any and every material you can imagine. I have sewing supplies and clay and cloth and wire and rocks and buttons and paper and…..well, you get the picture. I’m a hot mess

So, all of that being said, I still do not have a studio in our new home. My husband, Steve, and I have been frantically building storage in just about every little nook and cranny and we even turned the new wood shed he built into a “temporary” dumping ground for my supplies. We have grand plans that change almost weekly as to what my studio (or craft shed as he likes to call it….Ggrrrrr) will look like. Do we need a full foundation or will gravel and blocks work? Do we want windows? Some make good lighting, too many and you lose wall space….how about shelves that cross over the windows? Back to the drawing board.

In short, I am very thankful to finally be moved and I will start filling in the gaps here more regularly. While you wait, here is a photo of my dream house.

.House 2015

Juxtoposition

When I was in college, one of my art professors was fascinated by juxtapositions. She loved pitting dark against light, strong against weak and most especially male against female. She loved playing with stereotypes as well. Once she restored an old Porche (a masculine symbol) and covered it in pink lace (a feminine symbol). She drove this car all over the country and got a lot of different reactions. Since them, I have also been drawn to these odd pairings and have experimented with them through painting and design.

One of my most successful (commercially speaking) has been what I call my “Tough Girl” jewelry line.

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I have a number of ideas along these lines for paintings which I hope I can create once we move to central Oregon permanently and I have a proper studio.

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Sugar Pine Cones!

Nature can be very inspiring. Every year, my husband and I go to Sugar Pine Ridge, about 20 miles outside of La Pine, and collect a few pine cones. It is like an Easter egg hunt for grown ups. You have to get there right after the snow melt if you want the newly fallen ones before mold and rot set in.

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I am arguably the “Queen of the Cones”. I think it’s the boots that make this outfit, no?

Fire Season is Upon Us.

Two Bulls Fire  6/8/2014
Two Bulls Fire 6/8/2014

Every summer in Central Oregon, we are plagued by at least one major forest fire; usually several. This season is off to an early start with the Two Bulls fire, just outside of Bend, Oregon, We knew something was amiss when the moon last Saturday night was glowing an eerie yellow. By the next day, the air quality was so bad we were nearly coughing all the way back to Beaverton! Of course, as is usually the case, this fire was man made. No word yet on whether or not is it arson, but given that it was two simultaneous fires, I have my thoughts that it was.

Two Bulls Fire From Bend
Two Bulls Fire From Bend