It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet.... As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye... ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly autumn. ~Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sylvia's Farm


This is one of the most beautiful places I know of in the outskirts of Sacramento and it's where we were invited to have our annual summer Gourd Club Potluck. Well, it's almost getting to be a TRADITION. The weather was delightful! We all arrived at 10:00 a.m., greeted by Sylvia and her husband. We unloaded food and supplies, said our hello's and then got down to business.

We had a "show & tell" for new pieces that had been completed since the last meeting. Only two of us finished our puppets but there was other really interesting and beautiful gourd art on display. I introduced GOURDO to everyone and he immediately fell in love with the little goat puppet.
Our president helped us start a mask, from cutting a chosen gourd in half to deciding what we will want to do with it and placement of the eyes, nose and mouth. You kind of have to plan ahead on these masks so you have an idea what you want before you start drilling holes and adding features. The "puppet lady", who taught us to make puppets last month, brought a mask that she had completed. That would be the wolf in the bottom middle picture. Scary isn't it? She was even surprised that it turned out so downright menacing. I think she did a great job on him. He was a good example of what we could do with our "half of a gourd". It gave us motivation. We worked all morning on these masks.

Around noon we had a delicious lunch on Sylvia's back porch. She used real plates( not paper ) and different colored hankerchiefs for napkins. What a great idea..., and then, with our tummy's full ,we took a tour of her garden.
Sylvia's gourd patch goes on FOREVER and she has many different kinds of gourds growing beautifully for next Springs use. They need to dry all winter, or at least 6 mo's, and sometimes up to a year, before you can use them for artwork. See the sweet baby gourd in the bottom left corner?( click on photo for a close-up) Those will be good for pins and ornaments. They're so cute! The photo on the bottom right shows just some of her dried gourds. She had a whole barn filled with drying gourds too. She is the quintessential "crazy gourd lady", only she's not crazy at all and she will sell gourds to anyone in need..., and sometimes she just give you a few on the sly.

Thanks Sylvia. We had such a good time.

P.S. Gourdo wants to thank Madeline of Madeline's Album (in Alabama) for coming up with his name. He forgot to tell everyone that she was the person who gave Farmlady the name that seemed the most perfect for him. Thank you Madeline. It's just the best name and he wants you to know how much he likes it.

On June 15 Madeline posted this on her blog. I love it.
I don't think she will mind if I share it with you.

"Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God."

It's a good thing for everyone to remember, including myself.


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Thursday, July 9, 2009

All in all; It was a Very Good Day

Today was a very long day. I got up really early (5:30 a.m.) because it's the second Thursday of the month and that means it's Gourd Meeting day. Usually we meet at the Ag Center, near the airport, but today was our Potluck lunch and workshop at Sylvia's house in Sacramento. This is always so much fun. There's lots of good food and something new to learn about gourds.., in a beautiful environment.., with friends.
But, this morning, I dragged myself out of bed, and went straight to the shower. My body was feeling all of it's 64 years. Yesterday was very busy too. I had to bake two desserts ; one for today and one for a meeting of the Amador Art Association last night. This evening our neighbor arrived to pick up a dozen eggs, he stayed for dinner and then I took off for my meeting. If I really wanted to whine I would add that Maggie's new medication for her painful arthritis made her incontinent all day and the water pressure decided to act up because we used too much well water the day before. But, whatever it was that brought on the fatigue, by this morning I felt like I was AN OLD LADY. The shower helped and so did coffee.., and breakfast.
I packed up GOURDO, the new puppet, all my things needed for the workshop and the dessert I had made..., picked some lavender and yarrow for Sylvia and left for the Valley. The day was lovely. We all had a wonderful time and had a really great lunch. Tomorrow I will post some photos and tell you about all the fun.
When I got home I was so tired that I took a nap; something I hardly ever do. The Prospector woke me up at 5:00 p.m. and said that it was dinnertime and "..,shouldn't we eat something." I got up and together we fixed dinner. Later, I realized that I had not turned on the computer all day and thought I better check the email to see if maybe I had won the CALIFORNIA LOTTERY or something. No such luck!
But there was something that "made my day". Susan, at Susabella's Creative Pursuits, sent me an award. She is the lady who had a give-a-way a while back and I won a beautiful pair of pearl earrings that she had made. Well, she sent me this award and I'm basking in the glow of it.
As hard as it can be, sometimes, to create blog posts, day after day, that are interesting and fun, it's very gratifying to have someone acknowledge what you do. It makes the writing of this blog just that much more worth the effort. It lifted the tiredness of the day a bit and made me smile with delight. Thank you so much Susan. You really did make my day. A friend of Susan's explained the award like this....

"I designed this award to celebrate art in the blogs and to honor the value of friendship, sisterhood, sharing and caring. It is to be awarded to the gifted, accomplished, eloquent and talented blogger whose friendship and influence inspire us to do our best. That I named it after Bella Sinclair is because she epitomizes all of these things. She is an inspiration to many of us."
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"I have chosen to symbolize this award with the Quercus lobata or Valley Oak. It is a simple and unadorned award but heavy on meaning. The Valley Oak is a large handsome tree with a stout and sturdy trunk and widely spreading branches that form a broad open crown. It can reach up to a height of 100 feet and a diameter of 4 feet, sometimes much greater. It is the largest of the western deciduous oaks and is a handsome and graceful shade tree."

Isn't that a California icon, the Valley Oak. What a great symbol for an award. I have been asked to pass this award on to someone else, so I want to give it to three bloggers that I think are deserving of this award....

*Roslyn, of Ros the Quilter for her beautiful gift of making quilts, her giving ways and her fortitude.

*Jan, of Little Pink Houses for her amazing energy, her artistic way of looking at something and making it into a work of art, her painting techniques and her quirky sense of humor that keeps me laughing.

and..., *Julie of Julie Whitmore Pottery who "speaks to the earth" like I do and and makes the most amazingly beautiful pottery I've ever seen.


I hope that this award makes you feel as good as it made me. Life is about living but it's so nice, once in a while, to have someone acknowledge your efforts.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tribute to an Artist's Studio

Recently I sent away for the last two issues of STUDIOS. This magazine is filled with stories of artists that have these amazing work spaces that are inspired by their artistic abilities. As I read through one of these magazines I saw someone very familiar to me. Diana Frey was one of the "students" in our workshop at Asilomar a few months ago. I want you to see what Diana has done with a single car garage. This proves my theory that true artists create their own environment. I love this studio because it shows that you don't have to have a lot of money to create a place for working on your art. All you need is a small space and a lot of imagination. With some fresh paint, storage, creative uses of thrift shop aesthetics and salvaged furniture, Diana has created this beautiful space for herself. She calls it her"..muse and inspiration". When I asked her if she would mind my using this article in one of my posts she said "Go for it."..., and I did. Her studio is proof that controlled chaos and creativity co-exist in this world. Just take a look. (Click on photos for a close up view.)

Diana is an accomplished and well-known artist of mixed-media jewelry. She has created some of the most amazingly unique pieces, filled with beauty and whimsy..., and her ability not to be afraid of allowing your "Muse" to inspire you. I know that this wonderful studio is what helps her create these works of art. Like having a well cared for garden seems to produce more vegetables, fruit and flowers..., having a well-organized workspace gives you permission to find and create art.

So..., this is where I stand. This is the dilemma. The kitchen table is my workspace. The bed in the extra room is my fabric and soft collage assortment center. The plastic "organizer", in front of the closet is where all my acrylic paints and scraps of paper live. The MESS under the old sewing machine, in my bedroom, is just that..., a mess, where I can't find anything and constantly find myself looking for something that has mysteriously disappeared.The only reason that the cabinet next to the computer stays half way organized is because of the printer. It must have space around it to work properly.
The rest of the creative elements in my life are in the garage. All the gourd working equipment; the leather dyes, the saws, drills, boxes of gourds and all the embellishments , including gallons of DUST, are spread out over half of our two-car garage that we can only get one car into now.

I keep reading these STUDIO magazines and trying to figure out how I can change my guest room into a well organized, inspirational place of creativity. I re-read Diana's vignette on her studio and look at all the organization and loveliness of it and I want to empty my extra room and create a new venue of artistic inspiration. I have to keep the twin bed in here because , once in a while I do have guests and, with only two bedrooms, I need to maintain some sleeping arrangements. Sis would not like sleeping on the couch in the living room. It's a 10X10 ft. room, with one north facing window that's 4 ft' by 6 ft'. It has a good size closet that is under utilized and it has way too much furniture in it.

If anyone has any ideas, let me know. If you just added a big beautiful room onto your home just for crafts and projects I'm very happy for you but I can't really afford something so grand. That's not one of my options. This is "thrift store Elly Mae" here. There will be a BARN before there is a craft studio built around here. That's life on the farm.
I need all the ideas and help I can get before the clutter takes over and someone finds me in that corner of my bedroom, under the old sewing machine, buried under a huge pile of creativity. Please help....

Please take a look at Diana 's blog @ dianafrey.blogspot.com
You will really enjoy her photos, her jewelry and her stories about the artistic life. You will also find out where she sells her jewelry. "Go for it!"


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Monday, July 6, 2009

Born On the Forth of July


Here he is. My new puppet that I finished this weekend. Not quite knowing what I was doing when I made his clothes I realized that if he was going to have a hand inside of him that his ears were too long and would interfere with the fingers that control the front paws. I decided to use a small gourd, cut and cleaned out, tucked inside the top of the black fabric and attached it all to the head. This gave him a "neck" and raised the ears enough to get my fingers into the arm holes. Then I found a very cool "collar" (at the thrift store) that just fit his new neck and glued it all together. Look at him. He's so proud of himself.

The prospector just about had a heart attack when I pulled the sewing machine out and sewed the little outfit. I haven't used the machine in years. It was very basic and easy. I did short paws in honor of the Pupster, Carl. I stuffed the arms and some of the chest with Poly fill and if I decide not to use him as a puppet, I can fill him up with more Poly fill and make him into a pillow.

Then I let him take a nap. After being born and all, he was a very tired pup.

Oh, by the way; I had three people offer ideas for his name. The names were Homer, Gourdo, and Jake. I loved them all but, after careful consideration, I Chose GOURDO, because I just think it's cute and I might use him as our greeter for the next gourd show. It just fits. Thank you all for the ideas.

This was so much fun. I also want to thank Mary Jane for the wonderful workshop. Making a puppet is such a personal thing to do and the possibilities are endless. Your feel like you're giving birth to a new little being, without the pain of childbirth of course.
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