Monday, December 27, 2010

Roses for Christmas

About two or three years ago, I bought this cream colored pitcher from a friend who sells Longaberger products. I had no plans for it really, since we don't use pitchers; I just really liked it. When I got home, I just put it in the center of the kitchen table, not knowing what else to do with it. That weekend, my sweet husband came home from the grocery store (yes, I know I'm lucky he does the grocery shoppping) with a big bouquet of flowers for me! "They are to put in your vase," he explained.

Ever since then, I get fresh flowers every one or two weeks! Sometimes, on special occasions, I get roses, like these lovely red and white ones for Christmas!

Roses may fade, but receiving flowers from your sweetheart never gets old!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

Two of my favorite Christmas activities are decorating the house and wrapping presents! I love the soft warm light in the living room when we replace lamp light with many tiny Christmas tree lights. When the whole room is decorated and lit, there is a cozy feeling which I miss terribly when it comes time to take it all down.

I love the way our big mirror reflects the lights making it look like we have two trees!

I love my tree and all of the decorations. I don't have one of those wonderful, coordinated designer trees, because I have too many special ornaments which are all different. I use the red balls and the glass icicles to tie it all together. I think it works.

Here is a sweet pair of twiggy looking reindeer votive holders which my Mom gave to my sons. I love them!

And I love to wrap presents! (My husband thinks I'm crazy on this one.) No "brown paper packages tied up with string" here. I love to decorate the packages with ribbon and floral picks. This year, on the kids' packages, I decided a puppy would be more appreciated than a poinsettia with the younger crowd. It still looks quite nice, and I finally had an excuse to buy an armful of these cute stuffed puppies I'd seen near the Hobby Lobby check out counter all year!

I am finished decorating, but I still have more wrapping to go. I'm looking forward to it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas is Knocking...Let It In!

Christmas came knocking early this year, too early I thought, and I couldn't close the door fast enough! It was two days before Halloween, and I was sitting in my studio putting the finishing touches on my costume for my brother's party. As I added little plastic spiders to my "Black Widow" veil, I decided some music would be nice and turned on my radio. "Just hear those sleigh bells jinglin' ring ting tinglin'-" came singing out, and I groaned "NOOOO!" I nearly knocked over my Diet Coke trying to quickly shut it off.

"Why are they doing this again?" I thought as I pouted in silence. By "they" I mean my favorite Christian radio station. Last year they played only holiday music from the beginning of November until Christmas Day. Apparently, this year they were beginning in October! A couple of days later my answer came in the form of an email from the radio station (having been a supporter, I'm on their list). They explained that their mission is to reach as many people as possible with the message of God's love, and that when they play the Christmas music they gain many more listeners. Fair enough, I thought grumpily, but I don't have to listen to it.

It is not that I am a Scrooge or Grinch. I love Christmas, but I want it to be special. With stores putting their Christmas things out before the Halloween stuff is even taken down, with companies stuffing my mailbox daily with catalogs and sales ads, beginning nearly as soon as school starts, it seems to lose some of it's warmth.

Christmas came knocking again, the weekend of the Teddy Bear show in Hunt Valley. This time I opened the door a little... While the show was two weeks before Thanksgiving, it had a Christmas theme. Yes, Teddy Bear makers are as keen as other retailers to take advantage of the season where giving often equals spending. But the festive costumes, colorful lighted table dispays, and of course the Teddy Bears themselves had everyone smiling and feeling the warmth, including me. I couldn't help it. I really do love Christmas. On our drive back to Ohio, we even listened to some Christmas songs on the radio. The first one was Josh Groben's rendition of "O Holy Night". Sean had reached for the seek button to change the station, and, having heard my earlier grumblings about Christmas music in November, raised his eyebrows when I stayed his hand. "This one is OK, I guess," I told him. The scene repeated itself with a couple more songs. Mary's Boy Child-- "Oh this is one I never get to hear!" Mary Did You Know?--"But this is a good one."

At the third knocking, I opened the door wide. Shortly after the Teddy Bear show, a friend and fellow Teddy Bear artist posted the following on Facebook, "Merry Christmas! Just practicing." Her post was met with much grumbling, mirroring my attitude of just a few weeks before-too soon! Then Daphne posted "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" and I laughed out loud, not at Daphne-at myself! It was the kind of laugh you let out when you see that the answer to something you've been puzzling over has been staring you right in the face all along! A laugh of realization, a laugh of recognition. I recognized Christmas again for what it really means, a celebration of Jesus' birth, of His life, of His love, and ultimately His sacrifice for us! I recognized it, and let it in with heart and arms open, embracing it warmly, realizing it is never to early to celebrate God's love! Of course, deep down I knew it all along-I can tell by which Christmas songs I let in early, but I guess sometimes I need a reminder.

Enjoy this song which is much more than "OK I guess", it is one of my favorites!
And Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hunt Valley Bear Show

I had hoped that I would be able to post a preview of bears I had made for the Hunt Valley Teddy Bear Show, but as usual I was sewing until after midnight the night before we left!!

I was finishing up S'more, one of my panda clown style bears which was a special order for a collector attending the show. Here he is as a "Bob" (I call this stage Bob because of that groaner of a kid's joke: "What do you call a bear (man) with no arms and no legs who swims in the ocean?) S'more did have arms and legs at this point, but they were not yet attached!

Here are some of the other show bears lined up and waiting for accessories.

So instead of a preview, I have for you a review!!! The show was wonderful! The holiday theme had everyone in a festive mood, and I was so impressed with all of the wonderful holiday themed displays and costumes. I can't believe I didn't take a picture of the winning table display designed by Marilyn Waggner and her husband. It was a miniature room complete with furniture, a cozy braided rug, and a real stone fireplace!!! I loved these costumes as well.

My own table display was fairly simple, but my handsome assistant, and of course the bears themselves were nice to look at!

Collectors lined up outside, before the show opened, hoping to get a first peek at the work of their favorite artists. The collectors visited cheerily and shopped enthusiastically! I know I was not the only artist who found new homes for all her bears.

As ususal, one of the nicest things about the show was a chance to reconnect with my favorite Teddy Bear people--artists and collectors. My table neighbor was Michelle Lamb. It was lovely to see her again. Here she is with her amazing bears and her lovely daughter.

It was a great time all in all and I look forward to next year!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

ARSED! (A random sketch every day)

My dear friend Chloe, a young artist from England, has invited me to participate in a challenge she calls ARSED! I have heard the term "arse" before but not "arsed" and so I had to look it up. Good ol' Google! Though a clear definition could not be found, apparently it is often used like bothered, as in "I can't be arsed to do that now." Which is how I seemed to have viewed drawing for a while now, being busy with my family, teaching, and bear making. But really, I love to draw, I just didn't because I felt I had no time. In Chloe's challenge, ARSED stands for A Random Sketch Every Day. What a simple but wonderful idea. Like exercise, I must make time for the things that are important to me-and the things I enjoy.

And so, I am drawing again! I have a small 6 X 8 spiral drawing pad, and for the last few days I have tried to spend at least 30 minutes drawing each day. Yesterday, I spent an hour and a half, to make up for missing one day. I do love to draw and I hope I can keep it up every day while continuing to make my bears, and teach, and oh yeah, exercise!

I posted the first two drawings in the previous post. Here are some more recent efforts:

My favorite-

Another Halloween themed drawing-

A very loose sketch of a sad little girl-

I wasn't overly thrilled with this one, so I couldn't be arsed to finish her! LOL
I may change my mind and come back to her another day though. Poor sad little thing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Taking It Outside!

I know my blog is called Inside My Studio, but the weather today was so pleasant I decided to take my studio outside!

This new design I am working on was inspired by some wonderful scruffy, sparse, short mohair which demanded a vintage looking bear. I wanted them to have a classic well loved look, but still have that "Tami bear" look. I quite like them, and I hope my collectors at The Hunt Valley Show will too!

Missy was watching me out of the screen porch window, crying to be let out.

I decided to let her out, and thought I might get some nice photos. As Missy is an indoor cat, she was far too interested in exploring the great outdoors to bother to pose for me!

I mostly got shots of her looking this way...

and that (she was very gifted at turning away just as I snapped the shot),

and many of her tail end!

I did get one shot I really liked of Missy in my sons' clubhouse.

We have had such a dry summmer that many people are predicting a rather colorless fall. There are already a lot of trees which have dropped brown leaves, but one maple tree in our yard was dressed for the season!

Yes, I did actually get some work done. What a lovely day!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finishing Things

No matter how much I tell myself that I could work more efficiently if I focus my attention on one thing at a time, I always seem to have several projects going at one time. I guess maybe it works better that way for me. I really can only focus on one of them in any given moment, but I might work on a doll one day, and a bear the next. I usually have several bears in progress at once, so it seems to take longer to finish one, but then after the drought, I end up with a few finished bears in a matter of days!

Here is Edward Bear #2/3 made for a collector's order:

Here is Christmas Edward, a special version of Edward available from My Friends and Me next month:

And here is Karl and his yet to be named friend, my first two bears for the Handmade Treasures Teddy Bear Show in Hunt Valley, MD, November 13, 2010. Technically these fellows aren't finished as I still need to make accessories and photograph them properly, but they are finished enough to have been given their first hugs!

Then there are the really long term projects. In February, I started to sculpt a ball-jointed doll. The first part seemed to go relatively quickly--getting the body and head sculpted, but making joints was new to me and took quite a bit of trial and error.

I have also had some great practice sculpting hands for this girl as I have sculpted three pairs to get the appropriate size!

I still have some details to work out before she is cast in resin, of course, but with a bit of imagination you can picture her as whole!

After I work on these epic projects though, sometimes I need the satisfaction of making something fast! I made this pincushion(inspired by this blog and this one) for myself in just a couple of hours!

It feels good to finish things!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back to School Blues

Do you remember how, when you were a kid, as you enjoyed those last glorious days of summer, your nights would be peppered with those weird anxiety filled back-to-school dreams? You know the ones. You show up to school hours late, you don't remember your locker combination, you can't find any of your books, or the classroom you are supposed to be in, and worst of all, you forgot to wear your pants!!!

As a teacher, I will periodically still have dreams like that, only it's my lesson plans I cannot find, and I have no students, or else, I have students, but they are expecting me to teach a subject I haven't prepared for, like calculus.

This year the dream came right on time, on the night of August 1st, which is the turning point where summer, at first seemingly endless, dwindles down to just a number of days. I dreamed that I showed up the first day of school, and my classroom was completely transformed--but not in a good way. It had been carpeted! (I am an art teacher and the thought of keeping carpet clean in an art room horrified me.) The windows had all been bricked in so my beautiful natural light was gone, horrible old cabinets with chipping paint replaced the new one I'd been given at the end of last year, all of my art supplies were gone, I hadn't even written any lesson plans, and, worst of all, I had no pants!!!

I decided to ease my anxiety and make a trip up to school. I could make a little list of the things I needed to do, maybe put up my bulletin board stuff, or even get started on my lesson plans for the first week. I figured this year I'd have a little more to do than usual. At the end of the school year last year, all of the teachers were told that the furniture would be moved out so that the floors could be refinished. We were instructed to make a detailed map of our floor plan and tape it to our chalkboards so that everything could be put back afterwards. Of course, I made a beautifully detailed, neatly labeled map. Even so, I anticipated there might be a few things I'd have to reorganize when I got back.

When I got to school, my anxiety was not eased, but heightened. I felt like I'd walked into a nightmare! The furniture was moved back in, but placed randomly through out the room.

I am not sure all of my furniture was there, but I did spot several cabinets and carts which do not belong in my classroom.

The contents of the cabinets, which I had carefully organized at the end of last year were stacked haphazardly on tables and placed in a nook at the back of the room which I had worked hard to clear.

The new tall wood cabinet which I was so pleased to receive just at the end of last year has a huge crack in the door. The floor, which was supposedly cleaned (the reason for destroying my room in the first place), had a huge water/rust mark on it. The windows were not bricked in at least. The old ones had been replaced with shiny new ones, but I found it hard to enjoy this improvement in all the mess. I wandered the labyrinth of my classroom, mouth agape, head shaking slowly, and then decided to just go home. When I met the maintenance man in the parking lot, he explained the water/rust stain. The roof over my classroom had been leaking, "water just pouring in". The furniture can't be arranged yet because the floor will need to done again after the roof can be fixed, hopefully next week. Hopefully? School starts in less than 3 weeks! When can I get in to do my bulletin boards, seating charts, and lesson plans? Sigh! I feel like crying, but I guess I should look on the bright side; at least I have my pants!!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bear Show Buzz

I am sitting here thinking about the Teddy Bear Artist Signing event I just attended at My Friends and Me, and wondering if any other Teddy Bear lovers get a “bear show buzz”. I do. I call it a buzz because it is a warm, giddy, happy feeling, and I can’t stop smiling, even as I sit here by myself with just the memory of it.

See how happy I am?

What is it about such an event that leaves me basking in happiness for days afterward? It is a combination of lovely atmosphere, beautiful Teddy Bears, and friendly people. The signing event on June 18th at My Friends and Me in Leesburg, Virginia had all of these in abundance. Maria Balser, the shop’s owner, has been planning events such as this one twice a year since she opened her lovely shop 25 years ago.

Maria and her husband Milton.

The shop’s unique setting in a historic log cabin is just the beginning of the warm welcoming atmosphere of the show. Its interior is arranged with a comfortable couch and armchairs around a floor to ceiling stone fireplace, inviting artists and collectors to sit and chat about bears or other happy things. For the event, Maria had a table beautifully set with all manner of tasty finger foods, as well as lemonade and tea.


Then there are the bears. Arranged on the mantle piece and hearth, peeking out of glass cabinets and vintage china hutches, riding in old fashioned prams and wagons, and even sitting on the couches beckoning you to sit and join them, are beautiful Teddy Bears from artists all over the world. I could have spent hours just looking at them all. For the show, Maria spotlighted the work of four artists and I was very pleased to be counted among them. Bill and Jean Ashburner from England work as team to create beautiful, natural looking bears whose details and jointing system makes them seem almost alive. Rosalie Frischman from Wisconsin was there as well. Many of her exquisite bears (and dogs and bunnies) were dressed in wonderful handmade dresses, sailor costumes, or dungarees, and each was accessorized like an illustration in an antique storybook. I brought along a grouping of my cuddly, happy bears and was pleased that they all found homes.

Look! It's "my friends and me"!

As much as I love Teddy Bears, I love people even more, and Teddy Bear people are some of the nicest people I’ve met! Maria, her husband Milton, Bill, Jean, Rosalie, the lovely ladies who helped with the show, and all of the collectors were wonderful. Maria warmly greeted guests at the door like dear friends. I don’t doubt that many of them who have been attending the events for years have become just that. Then she took them around to personally introduce them to all the attending artists. It was nice for artists and collectors to have a chance to mingle and talk about those furry friends who brought us all together!

Me, Rosalie Frischman, Bill and Jean Ashburner.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


My family doesn't take vacation often enough (who thinks they do, I wonder...)but we like to pack as much fun as we can into one when we go! We just returned from a lovely trip which included staying at a house in Virginia Beach right on the beach, attending a wonderful Teddy Bear Artist Event in Leesburg VA at My Friends and Me, visiting Washington DC, and finally stopping to see my brother Aaron and his wife in Athens, Ohio on our way home. It was beautiful, exciting, relaxing, fun, but of course we are glad to be home.

Here are some of my photos from Virginia Beach.

My Beach Boys

Our Beach House

My beach house "Bear Room"

It has a window with an ocean view!

And here is my first bear finished at a beach house! (He is Ruben #2)

A silly souvenir photo from the Aquarium!

Sleepy boys watching the sunrise on our last day at the beach, after a night of hunting sandfiddler crabs by flashlight!