Professionals and Amateurs

My life is being stirred up right now, which is good in some ways, not great in others.  Being the Negative-Nancy that I am, I can of course find plenty of reasons to complain and delay the inevitable, but this helps no one.

Lately I've been feeling unmotivated, and not creative at all.  Without time set aside for my creative endeavors, I have had a bit of extra time to read about creativity.  All signs point to "just suck it up and get to work".  In retrospect it makes a lot of sense that just getting a set routine and forcing myself to spend hours doing tasks (sketching, writing, painting, sculpting-- whatever) makes sense... but in the present, it scares the crap out of me.

Like many people, I hate to make things I am not proud of or completely happy with.  When I don't feel inspired by something, when I don't feel like the finished product is something that I love, I just feel like I am polluting.  If I am not proud of it, no one will ever see it.  If people do see it, I just feel... I feel wrong.  I don't like feeling disappointed in my own work.  It makes me want to fix it-- make it better.  And sure I'll take what I've learned and put that into the next piece, but I am overall afraid of the negative energy.

I think part of this has to do with my adoption of technology.  I mean, I grew up with a computer.  If I wrote something I didn't like, I deleted it.  It was never seen again.  Saving the failures seems good when looking at it from the future, but in the present, it's hard to say why I'd want to do it.

Making these days is kind of hard in itself.  I feel like a computer can do everything I can do better, faster, and more accurately-- but is there still value in the hand made?  The items that are touched, even poured over by the artist/maker?  Do I need to change things up and mass produce?  Or will the hand made items with fewer buyers and lovers be able to sustain me?

Started sketching, and a random new style happened...
So here I am.  Realizing that the difference between a professional and an amateur is scheduling time, setting aside time, forcing oneself to work, to progress, to make, even if you feel what you've made is sub-par.  I guess at least I can brace myself for the junk I might turn out... I guess one good piece among a sea of junk, is better than the zero decent pieces I'll churn out while being afraid to make something not good enough.

Being consistent, is supposed to be the key.  Knowing that I'll work on something toward my goal, every day is important.  Knowing what I have layed out for myself on each particular day matters.  Since I am running multiple projects (making things, photos, blogging, researching, etc) I will need to designate time to each task.  Ideally the creative tasks will get most of my time, but I can't let the rest fall by the wayside.

So I guess it's time to push myself to work, uninterrupted.  With the ton of junk I create, I'll probably get something worthwhile out of it too....

My Future Home?

Tiny Houses have been a topic of much discussion on the web lately... but I'm a girl who likes big empty indoor spaces, so those would never work for me long term.  I am a big fan of prefab homes though.  Just looking at all the customization and knowing that they are constructed in your ideal location like a perfect set of legos excites me.

Fast forward to the other day, when I found a perfect blend of both worlds: ESCAPE.  This is a home, technically a mobile home, built from wood, using the same standards as any stationary home is required to pass.  And oh boy is it lovely...

Bedroom (and bathroom on the right)
Modern fully functional Kitchen
Living Room (with TV and electric Fireplace!)
Exterior (with a view of the Screened Living area)
I think this thing is beautiful.  And it seems to be just the right size.  Sure I wouldn't be able to store much of my stuff in here, but I'm sure a storage shed could hold the essentials.  I would absolutely live here, ideally in some pretty wooded area near the coast.

At about $80K plus delivery, it's a bit cheaper than anything in my area... Now all I have to do is save up eighty grand... and find/buy a plot of land to park it on.

Siiighhhhh... daydreams are fun, aren't they?

Weekly Inspiration 031914

I have been working a lot on scheduling things better.  Between a paper calender and an online planner, I think I might be able to get a better routine down.

This morning I added a Bitter Calendar to Google... and added all sorts of events (like blogging pretty close to daily) that I need to start doing regularly.  For Wednesday I've decided to start posting things that I find on the internet in any given week that inspire me... So here goes my first shot at it.

Awesome sculptures by Hiroyuki Hamada

Title: #63
Title: #52

Title: #59

I think these sculptures are lovely.  They look like pieces of a decommissioned space ship, or even battered storm trooper costumes don't they?

You can see the rest of his work here on his site, and you'll notice that much of his work is more contemporary.  I just happen to prefer this look, possibly due to my nerdiness.

Sculpture is something that I've been really drawn to lately for some reason.  I've never really tried my hand at it, and I'm not sure why.  I have often wondered about what the average person does with art like this.  The smaller wall displays seem to make sense, but unless you are rich and have a lot of empty space, how can you showcase something so lovely yet so nonfunctional?

Maybe one of these days I'll try my hand at a wall piece.  My favorite type of painting (to make) is oil on canvas with a palate knife for the very reason that the art becomes three dimensional and each stroke is visible.  The image even changes a bit when light hits it-- all the peaks and valleys have their own life, regardless of the colors you use.

I think I just convinced myself that I need to get to work with some plaster this weekend, while I still have the space to make a huge mess.  I don't expect to make anything this lovely-- maybe not even pretty enough to show others, but it's always fun to try new things.

Other random stuff that I find AMAZING...

Artwork by Dustin Yellin

Seriously, how cool is this piece?  The flowers just floating into the form of a person.  At first glance, I thought this was BEAUTIFUL, but when I read the story behind the piece and the place in which it was created, it got even more awesome.
Pioneer Works began life as an iron works plant, but now that Yellin is leading the way, it has become an art and innovation lab filled with artists, scientists, engineers, theatre troupes, an Airstream trailer, a print magazine and more. The goal of Pioneer Works is to become an incubator for these entities to come together—or fly solo. (Source)
I just love when people create places meant to share and breed further creativity.  If only this place was in my area.  Learn more about this project at

Available at Etsy store HRUSKAA

I'm a sucker for mobiles.  Not the kind people hang above cribs, but modern mobiles.  I put a lot of time and effort into one a few years back, but never got around to hanging all the pieces up.  I have all the parts, maybe I should do that.  Mine was a bit emo, and nothing like this modern piece I found on Etsy, but still mobiles of all kinds can be quite mesmerizing.  Just watching the pieces slowly turn can be oddly soothing.

I've never really been one to hang things from my cieling (at least not since I hung up my sweet Tail Spin McDonalds toys over my bed with fishing line when I was 10 or so) but I think I might have to change that once I get moved.

Here are a few other things that pretty much speak for themselves:

Urban Sketches by Jess Douglas
Anatomical Collages by Travis Bedel
A self-portrait made entirely of bottle caps by Mary Ellen Croteau
Another life for a Radio Flyer wagon! 
Anyway that's really all I got for now... Two gold stars to you if you made it all the way through this post <3

Downsizing and Minimizing

Within the next few weeks, I'll be moving.  Moving into a place with half the square-footage of my current place.  No yard or garage to make a mess in... Just knowing this is around the corner is causing me some huge anxiety.

I will need to downsize, drastically.  I will need to place about 90% of my arts and crafting materials into storage for several months.  In other words, I need to decide on an art form that I plan to focus on for the next little while.  For me, this is a hard pill to swallow.  I have been collecting materials for years-- and although I haven't made as much progress as I dream about making, having it all within arms reach gives me a certain sense of security.  Focusing on the negative won't get me far, so I really need to make some decisions sooner than later.  

Plaster and molds will be coming with me... but that's a whole other mess.  However it's a mess I can keep contained, it's easy to clean up, and it can be a fast process when I am in a hurry.  

My first instinct is to bring the canvases and paints.  This is a skill that I need to work on-- but then again it's also the medium that requires lots of space-- since I like to work with oils, on several canvases at once.  These drying canvases are also in danger when you have furry animals roaming about.  I've tried working with acrylic paints (which solves these issues) but it's just not the same.  I don't feel the same love when the brush touches the canvas.

The candle molds will be going into the storage facility.  I will likely hide a few in my new apartment, but the vast majority will continue to collect dust over the next several months.  A few other things will likely end up in storage too-- clay, jewelry making supplies, mold making supplies, cloth, wood, and any other scraps I have been holding on to will sit patiently for a while longer.

Just the thought of not having these things on hand feels like I am losing a part of me.  It's kind of frustrating that no one understands.  I'm sure this must be how hoarders feel or something... it is tough to think about.  Even selling my washer/dryer, or the furniture I've had since my very first apartment (which to be fair, hasn't been used in over a year) makes me sad.  

Hopefully moving over to a clean, organized, minimized space will change my tune, but until then I'm going to be mentally kicking and screaming every inch of the way.  I sincerely apologize in advance for the whining that is to come... if you think this is whiny, you haven't seen anything yet ;)

Life Happens...

I have been MIA for over a week now.  For a several reasons.  The main one being I am partly ashamed that I didn't complete my re-launch by my deadline.  I even took a day off last week and got some work done, but not enough.  I'm still not ready to release my new products, and a few other distractions are now in place.

I might be moving at the end of the month.  We are having a drought in California, and our landlord insists that we keep our lawn green.  This means that my water bill is now OVER $300 every other month.  Rents are going up in town, and after reminding our landlord that our lease is ending, she hinted that if we renewed, our rent would probably go up.  After looking at our water bill, we just don't think that's worth it.

Our living situation (or lack there of) has started to make us think about our futures quite a bit.  What is important now, what do we want a year from now, what changes will we make in the meantime in order to reach our goals... Needless to say we've had a few big talks about this, and probably aren't done yet.

Since we don't have any definite word from our current landlord, and we both think cutting down our expenses even more couldn't hurt, we are exploring other options.  Right now, we have a 3bed/2bath home, with a 2 car garage and yard.  We are going to have to downsize quite a bit unless we want to spend more on our living situation.  

We agree that 2 bedrooms are a must.  Everything above that would be awesome, but not likely.  My other sore spot is that most of our options will have shared laundry at best.  I purchased my washer/dryer a year ago and I don't know if I can go back.  That's where Man Panda comes in... He'll have to be in charge of most of the laundry if we don't have our own machines.

Tomorrow we are going to go look at this little gem, which I am SOOOO in love with.  It is small, but super cute, and comes with a little out door space.  It's ground level (neither of us want to deal with stairs during the move) and is part of a small (4 units I think) complex.  It is also in a part of town that I like-- just two blocks from Balboa Park.

As you can tell, I am already sold.  I mean I do have some questions, and I do need to see it in person, but the living room alone makes me want it.

We've got a few other rentals to check out in person on our list... and who knows, maybe our current landlord will surprise us and not raise the rent in an attempt to have longer term, great, non fussy tenants.  But I have a feeling this won't be the case.  Also, I'm kind of keen on leaving the suburbs for some place at least slightly more lively.

A cheaper place is now a priority, because like the rest of the world, we'd both really love to move into working for ourselves.  For him, I think this is an especially feasible goal.  He's been quite successful at doing side work as a videographer and photographer, mostly through just word of mouth.  With more time (no full-time day job) and effort, I think he could get to the point where he matches his current income in under a year.  It might not be easy, but I think with each others support, we can make it happen.

For the time being, I am willing, even happy to sit back while we both focus on his goal, because I know he'll do the same for me when it's time.  I also think his will be a bit easier to accomplish, and also provide a bit more financial stability (regular, dependable income) than mine will.  In some ways, my skills can also assist in growing his business, making this a true team effort.

I think we are both kind of tired of moving, and would like to stay somewhere a while.  I hope we can learn to live with less "stuff" and feel settled in a neighborhood that we both love.  One that we are both inspired by.  The current landlocked suburb we live in is not ideal, at least for me.  I feel my inspiration being drained a little more each day.

Wine & Heels

Comparison is weird.  Like really weird for me.  I know everyone is different, in every imaginable way.  But when I see overwhelming patterns, I can't help but take notice.

Since spending more time following (read: stalking) several bloggers, who are mostly married women somewhere in my age-range, I notice a lot of these similarities between them.

For instance: wine.  I don't really like wine, never have.  Would never ever pay for a glass of it.  If a situation were to present itself where I had to drink it or risk offending someone, I would find it difficult to complete a glass.  I've been told that my tastes will mature (whatever that means-- I'm thirty!) and that someday I will like it... but I'm not so sure.  It seems that everyone else (not literally of course, but you know what I mean) likes a glass of wine once in a while.  Red, white, something.

Cute shoes... but just plain impractical... 
High-heels are another one of these things.  I am a girl, and I like shoes as much as the next girl.  Maybe more than the next girl.  I have more pairs of heels that I do flats.  But I don't actually wear them.  I put them on a few times a year (at best) and usually don't leave them on for more than an hour.  Yet I find myself in situations where I am the only girl wearing flats, sneakers, or sandals quite often.  And no, I am not the girl who is dressed down when she should be dressed up either.

I don't mind being different, I really don't.  I just see these things and wonder "why".

I wonder if these ladies feel the same way I do on occasion... Are they doing it because they too feel the pressure from the rest of the similar demographic of people to don the high heels and drink wine?  Are they trying to fit in?  To look more mature?  Or does this all come natural to them?  Do high-heels and wine glasses just happen the second you get married?  Are they supposed to be a signal to the opposite sex that you are ready for that stuff?  Someday will I just wake up and want to wear heels and drink wine?  Does a switch flip?  Or did these girls start wearing heels and drinking wine the second they were allowed to?

I have always straddled the line between "girly" and "tom-boy".  I want to look cute, but I also want to be able.  I wear dresses once a week or so, but I like climbing rocks and trees, jumping, running-- or just being able to run.  I dress for style and comfort-- not just one or the other.  I'm willing to get dirty-- I can shower off and wash my clothes.  I don't want to miss out!

I've had days here and there when I feel the urge to blend in... but I guess I am just not willing to subject my feet or taste-buds to such tortures.  Do the other girls find heels to be comfortable (or at least tolerable)?  Would they prefer not to climb trees or walk on a lawn?  Do they actually enjoy the taste of wine?

I know I am not alone, and I wouldn't really care if I was... but I often wonder what the difference between me and those girls might be...

Watching the Mailbox

I'm pretty much addicted to Amazon Prime.  It's amazing, I love mail-- and getting packages in the mail.  I recently ordered a ton of stuff as part of my re-branding effort (which includes some pretty packaging), and most of it came through Prime.

I did however order a few other things, from a few different companies.  Yesterday I got my custom stamps (for the business) which I was quite excited to try out, but now the waiting game on a few (fun for me) other packages.

Possibly by the time I get home tonight, I expect our monthly package from LootCrate.  It has been at a local post office since the 18th, so I really have my fingers crossed.  I think Man Panda enjoys the contents more than I do usually, but watching him open them is where I get my kicks.  It's like xmas every month!

The one I purchased
Yesterday I ordered two sweaters (me, who lives in SoCal which is a fine 75^+ while the east coast is battling snow) because... well... because I am a shopping addict, and I am almost always wearing some kind of sweater.  That got into the hands of a FedEx somewhere in the country this morning.  I fell in love with a thrifted vintage jacket on Sincerely Kinsey's blog a few weeks ago.  And despite my best efforts at searching Google and Etsy and eBay and pretty much everywhere, I can't find it.  I found similar ones, but not one that I was willing to spend whatever it cost on.  If I could find the exact one, I'd probably pay something stupid for it, but instead I found something with the same feel, but a bit more plain, at Forever21.  Plain is my style, so I went for it.  I also got another one... and built up a ridiculous wish list of things that I probably won't get around to buying-- but it satisfied my immediate need so I went with it ;)
Bling Ring <3

A few days ago I ordered some wood pieces for the coasters I plan to make and sell.  Those will be shipped by the end of today.  Hopefully I can start working on them in time to list them by the end of next week.  I really do like procrastinating and working under pressure... oops.

And lastly, the ring Man Panda got me is supposed to be shipped at the end of the month.  It was on back order.  I would have purchased it myself if he hadn't beaten me to the punch, but gosh he's awesome :)

It's probably a good thing I am at work because otherwise I'd probably be messing things up and waiting for packages to arrive.

My weekend is pretty booked between getting some work done on both the business front, and the homestead.  I also have to find/make some sort of new habitat for my darling bunny to live in, and I also owe my doggies a beach trip.  Oh!  And I probably have to start brainstorming for an art show I may participate in next month.  Phew!

Being Unique

I am finding it hard to be unique and find my own voice among all the other voices on the internet.  It seems like these days, nothing I can do, aside from paint on canvas, is really unique.  I have been thinking about this way too much today.  Or maybe just thinking too philosophically about it.  I see a difference between "products" and "art", but there seems to be a very fuzzy line between the two.

Is the art in the customization?  The hand made quality?  The eye of the beholder?  Where is the line?

We call fashion an art, and I think it's fair in many cases, but where is the line drawn?  Is it only art when it's couture or one of a kind?  Or is it still art when it becomes mass produced?  Is only the original a work of art?

When I bring in the concept of "crafting" it starts to make everything even more blurred.  I see DIY's every day that inspire me.  I see repeat DIY's on the regular too.  I could make most of those things, and list them on etsy.  People would buy them because they like them maybe, and didn't want to go through the trouble of making them... But I wouldn't be the only one with a listing for whatever it is.

I've made these Lego letters, and I can't find anything on the web like them-- but they are certainly create-able by anyone else with some Legos and a little time.  People have purchased them, people certainly like them and pin them, and so far they even seem to be somewhat unique-- I have yet to see them done by anyone else.  I know that won't last, but it kind of bothers me.

I'd like to be the ONLY person offering my art.  I know there will be copy-cats no matter what I do, but still this thought plagues me.  One blogger I follow, Julie Ann Art recently posted on Facebook, blasting her copy-cats.  There isn't much she can do about it.  If they aren't using her exact images, it's just what happens unfortunately.

I have serious doubts about the rest of my art too.  I've always looked at things with the attitude that "hey I can do that."  So why would people want to pay for something they can do themselves?  At the very least I like that my art is unique.  For now I won't be offering prints or copies but maybe in the long term I will.  If someone likes something I did, hopefully they don't have that "I can do better" thought and opt to purchase my version...

All in all I know everyone has doubts, self-doubt in particular... but it has been getting to me a little worse than usual this week.  I've only got one more week until the official re-launch of my store, so I better suck it up and start producing I guess.

Love Don't Cost a Thing

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentines Day weekend.  I know I did.

I'm not usually into Valentines Day... but I think having a sweet, cheesy, thoughtful, boyfriend has changed that.  We had the best time just being with each other!  He got me flowers, he bought me this ring I've been drooling over for a few weeks, and don't get me wrong, both those things are amazing and awesome, but I think our fun bowling night topped that stuff.  Just having a few beers and doing something we've never done together made my night... and weekend... and month probably.  He's great.

Bowling is going to have to start becoming a more regular thing for us... but probably on an off night when lanes don't cost twenty-freaking-dollars-an-hour ;)

Man Panda ended up having to work for a few hours both weekend days... I should have taken that as a cue to get my side work done... but on Saturday I kinda napped instead.  Whoops.

Finished product shown here.
On Sunday I worked double time to get the order filled.  I was covered in more glitter than any rave kid before breakfast, but I got the job done.

As this first glittery layer dried, I headed to Home Depot to get some supplies and decided I needed to make some sort of contraption to aide me in spray painting these babies evenly without getting covered in paint.

I came up with something... It doesn't look very professional but it certainly got the job done.  I got two layers of paint on these babies, before bed, but I had to spray some bald spots before heading off to work this morning.  Tonight I'll clean up the little details and get them packed up and ready to ship in the morning.
Finished product shown here.

Because this was my largest order for these, I ended up giving the buyer a decent discount on both the product and the shipping.  I can afford the product, but for the shipping I am going to have to dip into my profits a little... Not a big deal though, I'm not quitting my day job anytime soon, and I think these are going to be used for a wedding or bridal shower-- I hope she'll send me pictures!

Since I am working on the whole re-branding thing, I'll be packing up this order with some of the new materials.  The new process won't be finalized until the end of the month, but I am really excited with the progress I've made so far.

In a week or so I'll show off my new logos and packing materials and products...  But until then I'll just be sharing the regular stuff.  Have a great week everyone!

So Many Candle Options!

I've been making candles for almost ten years now.  In fact, my original business plan was to make and sell candles.  I own a TON of molds, and much to my (and my boyfriend's) dismay, they spend the vast majority of their time hiding in the garage.  I also a lot have wax just waiting to be turned into something beautiful.

To help inspire me to get making, I've rounded up some unique candle tutorials I've seen among my blog feeds in the recent past.  These aren't your average pillars or mason candles-- these are a bit more imaginative!

Photo and Tutorial from Hands Occupied
Since it's Valentines day, we'll start with a super cute mushy heart version.  Sure, you could make these in a variety of shapes and colors, but the hearts are just festive-- aren't they?

This technique uses a shallow pan and cookie cutters to create the heart shapes, then you string them together with your wick-- like beads!

I personally love they way they look in this messy stack, but if you put a little more time and effort into the stacking, you should be able to have a tall cohesive heart shape from top to bottom if you prefer.

Photo and Tutorial from Sincerely Kinsey
The next one isn't so much a tutorial as it is a creative vessel for you to place a wick and your melted wax.

The seashells not only look amazing, but they also add a lot of character to the room.  Who doesn't love that beachy feeling?  I bet these would be amazing scented with anything that reminds you of the salty sandy sea air.  I feel the need to head west just thinking about it.

Remember, you can put wax in pretty much anything that ins't flammable.  Jars, teacups, baking dishes, or even old mint tins for creating traveling candles!

Photo and Tutorial from Petite Candela
The next tutorial is in spanish, but between the awesome photos and google translate, you should be able to figure it out.

Placing a candle inside a shell made of wax creates a majestic lantern effect, as the entire orb glows with candle light.

Be very careful with the wax temperature on this one-- you don't want the balloon to pop!

Photo and Tutorial from A Subtle Revelry
This last one isn't exactly a candle tutorial either... {Sorry I guess I've been misleading you with this post and title.}

Here is a way to set corks on fire!  This would create a rather fitting ambiance during a wine tasting, wouldn't it?  The tutorial is rather short, because it's simple!  Submerge a bunch of corks in a sealed jar of acetone alcohol for about a week!

I wonder how long these babies burn for...

I hope you enjoyed these ideas-- If you have any creative candle ideas, please share!