Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Every year, several months before the show at Edgefield McMennamins, Cracked Pots issues a challenge to its member artists: Make art from the chosen recyclable materials. Last year the materials we were to use were Cd's and coat hangers. The year before that, small appliances, and (I think) garden hoses.

This year's challenge was to use lids, caps, and/or non-motorized tools, in any combination. I didn't enter, but seeing what the other artists had come up with was a must--it's always so amazing, what people can do with the most unexpected, unpromising of things. The entries this year were nothing short of spectacular.

It's a contest, with people, artists and show attendees alike, filling out a ballot with their favorite on it, but I didn't get to find out who won, so I'm just going to put up pictures of some, actually, most, of my favorites.

Whimsical birdhouses covered with smashed bottle caps

Fishes of cut mirror glass swim a river of rock and cork

Contrast--soft, matte cork and hard, shiny stone

A curtain of corks

A Bulbous Band

Pickaxe heads connect towering wooden curves

Steel hand tools come together to make a musician who plays typewriter

I think the last one is my favorite, but I loved the pickaxe arch, too, and there was an office chair completely covered with smashed bottle caps that was 100% fun. I just don't know how anyone could vote for one favorite in the bunch.

What an amazing group of artists, to have come up with such wonderful art.

Monday, July 28, 2008


More of my favorites from the Cracked Pots show at Edgefield, starting with a perennial favorite, Megan Klepp. Her business name is Ta Dah which I also love.


Even her sign is art

Megan covers things, mostly orbs, with old marbles. I love the ones she does that have things springing from the top the most, but they're all great fun. It's quite a process to make them. I asked her how she kept all the marbles from sliding down the balls as she worked and she was kind enough to explain it, but (I'm chuckling while I type, here) it isn't something I'd have the patience for myself!

Next is Ruby the Resourceress, who makes clocks, primarily, but other things as well, from old tins. I adore the whimsy of her work, and when she said she loved barter best, I quickly arranged to trade for her owl clock. It's going above the archway in my kitchen.

Ruby also told me she plans to get out of the business of selling her work, and just start teaching other people how to make them, with the goal of fostering the creative spark in people who think they don't have one. Isn't that the coolest thing?

"Whoo's your little whoosis?" (A song Mama sang to us often)

Now a man whose last name is, I think, Luz. I tried to read the card on the piece I got from him last year, but it was too faded, and he wasn't in his area when I came by with my camera, and didn't have business cards out. If I find out his name, I'll update this entry with it.

Amazing what you can do with old garden hoses

Scrap metal chairs for little folk

Last is Elliot Works, who made some strip bulletin boards from molding and corks. What a great idea! (His wife, Sarah, and I had a great conversation, which is one of the hugest benefits of doing shows. I SO look forward to meeting her again!)

Next blog entry will be pictures from the Artists Challenge. There were some amazing pieces put together by the Cracked Pots artists this year. I walked around with my camera blinking and my jaw dropped.

Now, for me, off to the printer's. I have some things to (hopefully) jury in tomorrow, and since I'm seriously low on the actual items, I'm taking a folder full of photos. (Now, wasn't that just about as alliterative as anyone should be on a Monday morning?!)

Friday, July 25, 2008


The Cracked Pots at Edgefield Garden Art Show is easily my favorite such event of the year, and not just because it's been a good show for me personally. No, I love that show because there are dozens of artists, and an almost overwhelming variety of garden art to look at, all of it from recycled materials.

I had a feeling I wouldn't be getting away from my area (no booths at the show, as they want the art to flow through the grounds) very often, as the show draws serious crowds, and DH was out of town, so I'd be flying solo. I wanted to see everything, though, so got there several hours early the second day, camera in hand. I wanted to share my favorites. Unfortunately, I don't have names for all the artists, though, because many hadn't yet arrived. If you know who did the uncredited art, please let me know!

First up is a new Cracked Pots artist. I love, love, love her art and will probably have to have a piece. The artist's name is Janet Julian. Here are several of her pieces, made from salvaged posts and wood, and hand-painted.

Joe and Mackie Clifton make wonderful creatures and creations from scrap metal oddments, including toaster, spatual handles, old rebar, etc.

I think I'll do the other artists tomorrow. I keep falling asleep at my keyboard! No, wait. One more. I don't know her name, but isn't this wonderful?

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Yay! Cyndi L, of Layers Upon Layers, profiled me in her blog! I just had to shout it out, I'm so excited and pleased. Go take a look:

There are lots of pictures. And quite a few words, so thank goodness the photos break up the text, lol.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


One of my favorite Coffee Pot People is back! I've always loved DeLila, but DH knocked her off her shelf maybe two years ago and broke her hat off, and she has stood on a high shelf in my shop ever since. Finally, this week, I took her down and surveyed the damage. It wasn't as bad as I'd remembered, and I still had a box full of the broken stained glass piece I'd made the hat from. A little engineering and a yard or two of copper wire later, and there she stood, as good as new. Actually, maybe better than new.

Meet the ultimate, original, party girl. This girl has got it goin' on, and if you put a candle at her feet, and a tea light behind her hat, she will happily get lit every single chance she gets. (Responsibly, of course. DeLila is full of joie de vivre, but her mama didn't raise no dummies.) Her favorite quote: "If there's anything half as much fun as being alive, I don't know what it is!"

Monday, July 21, 2008


I was perusing just now and ran across this video. It's just too good not to share! Enjoy!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


A while back, someone gave DH a tie-dyed mock turtleneck shirt. He wasn't too thrilled with it, but I thought it was cool, and, lucky me! after a few washings it no longer fit DH, but was just my size.

The only thing was, the style wasn't really flattering. I decided to change it from a mock turtleneck to a vee-neck. Then, after I was all finished, I decided it might be nice to share the transformation. After it was finished. No process photos!

So I did the first part on another turtle, with photos, and took pictures of the last steps and finished shirt of the tie-dye.

Here's how:

Start by cutting the collar off a turtleneck shirt. Leave the serged edge on the shirt. That gives you a finished edge that won't fray, and isn't raw.

Cut Off the Collar

Now fold the shirt exactly in half, lengthwise, matching side and shoulder seams. You want to be very careful here, or your center cut will run off askew, and your new neckline along with it.

Figure out how deep (low) you want the vee to be. You could try the shirt on 5" (12.7cm) seemed right for me. Mark that point, then carefully cut straight down from the center of the old neckline to the mark.

Turn the shirt inside-out, and turn the edges of your downward cut back until you have a straight line on each side that ends at the shoulder seam.

Turn back the edges

Pin them in place and turn the shirt right side out. Embroider a running stitch near the edge of the vee with heavy coordinating floss, and add a couple of buttons to finish it off.

Gotta cut that label out, lol

That's it. You've converted a turtleneck shirt to a vee-neck.

Now, if you'd like to have some more fun, you can do the same with the sleeves. Truthfully, I'm scrambling to get ready for the Cracked Pots Garden Art Show at McMennamins Edgefield, with set-up happening tomorrow, so I didn't complete the sleeves, but I did get a good start.

If your shirt has sewn-on cuffs, you can cut them off just as you did the collar, again leaving the serged edge on. Decide where you want the sleeve to be slit. I decided on the outer arm, rather than at the top or bottom of the wrist, for instance. Create a vee just the way you did at the neckline, but not so deep, maybe 3" (7.6cm), turn back the flaps, embroider, and trim with a button.

Voila! You now have a vee-neck shirt with 3/4 length slashed sleeves!

Doing the same to the sleeves

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tea Pots Are People, Too! (4 new peeps)

Well, we got back from the Lavender Daze Festival in Hood River on Wednesday, and I've been scrambling to catch up with everyday life and get ready for the Cracked Pots Garden Art Show at Edgefield ever since.

Yesterday, I got a little side-tracked, but it was SO worth it. My daughter spotted an ad on Craig's List for a an estate "sale" where everything was free. It was actually the leftovers from their real sale, but we had such fun going through things, and made some serious scores. I'm hoping to blog about that in the next day or so, and also about Lavender Daze, but in the meantime...

TA-DAH!! New Tea Kettle Characters!

Here are their pictures, group shot first:

A Happy Foursome





Wednesday, July 9, 2008


My daughter wrote this, and I thought it was lovely, so evocative of summer and childhood, and so full of nostalgia. She gave me her permission to share it.

The First Drop

I could still see the heat
shimmering waves on the pavement
I wouldn't have noticed but
the smell is unmistakable
Everything clean and perfect
It reminds me of home
of perfect outside summers
standing on the deck
to see thunder and lightening
of being eight again
barefoot, grubby, sticky
That smell is time to go home
paper dolls and coloring books
strawberry leather and homemade popsicles
inside games and a fort made of pillows

I want to know if it smells the same everywhere
I think not
Home is magical trees
with perfect rainbows stretching mountains
But, I wonder
does your rain smell like home?

Monday, July 7, 2008


We were in Manzanita, on the Oregon coast, for the 4th of July. They have, as many small towns do, a parade. If your experience of parades is what you get in a city or see on TV, it's easy for forget what small town celebrations are like. They're Real, with a capital "R".

I loved the inclusive feel of this parade. If you wanted to be in it, you were in it. Your float might be a bicycle with ribbons and streamers, but it was your float. Everyone was roundly applauded. Everyone, without exception--war veterans, aged and recently returned from Iraq, floats calling for peace, floats celebrating the Summer of Love, people on horseback, on foot, in costume, in cars, on the backs and tops of pickups, scooters, motorcycles, old beauty queens, babes in strollers--we whooped and hollered and clapped for all of them. It was great. I took a lot of photos, and rather than string them in a long, vertical, line, I'm going to try a slideshow.

And one video. This is the float our son created, with two of our grandkids on it. Son Jeff is driving the pickup, one grandson is standing in the pickup bed, and our granddaughter is the lovely throwing candy from The Black Squirrel. The float was made from cardboard Jeff salvaged from the work site of the house he and DH have been building. (The arm waving, and yelling you'll see and hear, are DH. Do you think maybe he's proud and happy?)

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I made a bunch of China Blossoms the other day, and it hit me that I'd never taken any pictures of the process, so this time I did.

The procedure is this:

Cover whatever large surface is available with as many saucers or other small dishes or glassware as it will hold.
Bring out the votive holders, ashtrays, little dishes, small glasses, little bud vases, etc., that have been gathered over the past weeks or months, and put one, or sometimes two, in the center of each dish.

Change your mind eight times about which center piece goes with which saucer.

Then change it again.

When you've finally got it figured out (whew!) glue the pieces down.

Two tables full

On this day, I worked outside. It was pleasant to be in the yard, and the warmth of the sun made the glue I use set up faster. That's good, because this step also entails coming back to the table every few minutes to see what has slid off-center, and sliding it back into place.

The glue is not secret. I use E6000, which is the best I've found, after many trials, but takes quite a while to set up. You don't have a reliable bond for at least 24 hours, but once you've got it, there doesn't appear to be anything that will separate your glued pieces from each other.

Showing some of them close-up

Even when you think you're done with this part, you might not be. I added to some of the ones shown above, a colorful flat marble here and there, or some other oddment, often completes the flower.

Couple of Favorites

While the China Blossoms were drying, I took myself into my shop and set up my itty bitty chop saw, to cut the copper tubing. It gets cut into lengths, crimped flat on one end, and then I take it to a friend's house, where I do a combination of welding and soldering to complete the back assembly. We're working on getting the spot welder set up at my place, so I don't have to go away from home to do this.

Set up to cut the tubing

A completed back, which holds the China Blossom stem

The last step happens the next day (remember the 24 hour glue set-up time). I turn the China Blossoms on their faces, and glue the backs on. Some of them have to be set on bowls, because they aren't flat on the front. Sometimes the center piece has managed to slide off-center, in spite of my vigilance. Those I hold up and turn until they look like the piece is centered, then place the back accordingly. It's an optical illusion thing. After that, it's just a matter of sliding the stem holders back into place when they slide away from where I've put them. (I have a mechanical engineer friend who says they slide because, basically, a glob of glue constitutes a little hill. Anything set atop that hill is going to slide down it, until either the glue is sticky enough to hold it in place, or the hills has flattened itself out. Knowing that, I now aim for a flatter hill to begin with!)

And that's how you make a China Blossom!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


It's not exactly a secret: I hate to throw anything away. I do recycle as much as I can, but see it as just a greener way to discard something. I also have issues with buying water, especially since our water here is so good, but the recent heat, coupled with a two-day long outside show sent me to the store for a case of it. (Hint: Freeze at least half the water you plan to take. It will keep the other bottles cold, and melt as the day goes on, giving you lovely ice water to drink, and/or a cooling bottle to hold against wrists and neck.)

So, there I stood yesterday, with a cluster of empty water bottles on the kitchen counter. What to do? Why, make squids, or dangles, or whatever you want to call them! It's an easy craft for older kids or grown-ups who don't like to make garbage.

You need:

The Materials

  • Empty water bottles

  • Scissors

  • Small things to hang inside the bottle neck

  • Wire or string

Begin by making a long, spiral cut the length of the bottle, starting wherever you want. I began my cut just below the bell shape. My water bottle was quite thin and flexible, so to begin the cut, I just kind of squished the side flat. You might have to poke a starter hole in a sturdier bottle.

Here's the path my scissors took:

A Spiral Course

As you can see, the trick is to cut almost all the way around, and then angle your cut down. I pretty much followed the indentations around the bottle itself, including where there was a kind of wave pattern. (I thought it would look cool to "catch the waves", but it didn't actually show, so you can just do a plain spiral.) Go all the way to the bottom of the bottle, but don't cut the bottom off.

When you've finished your spiral, you'll have this:

Do that to three bottles, and nest the neck ends together in a stack, so that the curls hang from three different places.

Now take one of the little items you've gathered--a large bead, a key, a small toy, whatever you like that will fit inside the belled top of the bottle, but not go through the neck. If it has a hole in it, run a string or length of wire through. (I used wire, just because I knew where I had a good stash of different colors. It took about 18" (46 cm).) If there's no hole, just tie it around the piece.

Run the string or wire up through all three bottle necks. Your bright object will add a bit of color, and provide a stopper so you can hang the "squid" up.

When you have the string through the top neck, you can spread it to each side, and screw the top on. It's an option that doesn't affect anything. In fact, without the lid, you have transparency all the way up, which might be even better. But here's what I did:

Up, Through, and Down

Here's are close-ups of my bottles. I used an old Christmas ornament and a big red button.

Take your squid outside and hang it from a tree, or arbor. Or dangle it from something in your room. (I put a single, spiral-cut bottle up for the neighbor's kitten, and she loves it. It's very bouncy. The bottle. Not the kitten. Well, actually, both of them.)

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