Friday, December 28, 2012


Thirty years ago, I traveled to San Diego to participate in a cross country meet at Balboa Park as a member of the University of Hawaii cross country team. It wasn't my best race but that's neither here nor there. The point of telling this is that during our short stay in San Diego, the team went across the border to Tijuana for an afternoon of shopping. 

While at the Tijuana market, the one thing I wanted to find was a brown leather purse.....which I did....which is also incidentally the most perfect small purse ever invented by man. Mine is also 30 years old, and time is taking its toll on my old formerly perfect small purse.

For whatever reason, probably because of being perpetually broke, because I'm a sucker for punishment,  I've made it a practice to make gifts for loved ones, especially at Christmas time. This year the gift was determined by the perfect leather purse and an outgrown pair of black leather pants. With the clock ticking, I cut the patterns out for five purses and straps by closely matching the design of the 30 year old leather purse from Tijuana. But honestly, time kept getting the best of me, and even though I made small baby steps of progress, it wasn't going to be enough to get everything done by Christmas morning. Plus, I couldn't even figure out how to thread the sewing machine and doing everything by hand would have taken  way too long. Enter the Amazing Reese. Reese saw my dilemma and offered to help. First he threaded the machine God bless him which I couldn't figure out for the life of me. Then he threaded the bobbin. Then he proceeded to sew the front, back, and zipper together.

With daughters out of the house on Christmas eve, and grocery shopping and cooking prep for Christmas dinner completed, I had enough time to hand sew the straps to the body of the purse. Whew.

Now, over the years, Reese and I have gotten mixed reviews from our homemade gifts. Not everyone appreciates the thought, time, and effort that goes into something handcrafted.  I guess some of those negative vibes were floating around in my head and therefore I had very low expectations about how they would be received.

To our delight and my surprise, all four daughters love their new purses!

And remember, we made one for me, too, which I also love and which was used today while taking Tilly (the wonder dog) to do her volunteer work at Methodist Hospital. It really is the perfect purse.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Go Coat

The weather was perfect today for putting on the final clear protective coating of the art heart I created for the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women.

It has taken over two months to get to this point.  It's a huge honor to be asked to participate as an artist on behalf of heart health in women, but it's also extremely nice to be finished with the project. It's going to a new home tomorrow! Yay!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tilly Goes to School

Tilly is so smart that she was accepted to Rice University! Well, she IS smart, but not that smart. At the request of the school librarian, Tilly went to the library on campus to help students de-stress during finals. Her main "job" is to let everyone pet her, but she also performed almost all of her tricks for the students and faculty who were there.

The librarian gave Tilly an authentic Rice scarf so she's totally legit wherever she goes on campus.

We've gone three times over the past four days and we're leaving soon for one more library visit before Christmas break. It's been a blast.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Peony Leafer

Last week I worked on finishing up this art heart for the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women movement. It's for a particular patron in the Circle of Red Society. She donates money and enthusiasm toward promoting heart health for women, and I donate artistic creativity (and enthusiasm) making this art heart specifically for her, specifically because of her sizable monetary donation. For the edges of the heart, I made my own simple peony leaf design stencil out of thick stiff paper, in this case grocery sacks. Because I wanted to alternate the direction of the leaf without waiting for the oil paint to dry in between painting, I went ahead and made two stencils, orienting them left and right.

It's a conundrum, really, to work on these hearts because all sides of the heart need to be covered in paint and still work together as one piece of art. I had considered painting leaves, trees, and sky the sides, but the issue there was marrying both sides of the heart cohesively. Bringing leaves, trees, and sky to the side wouldn't work in this instance because of the extreme close up of the single peony on the other side of the heart, as seen here. So I made the stencils to tie both paintings together simply, without the whole heart getting bogged down in insignificant detail.

Here's what it looks like with the peony leaf stencils painted around the edge -- not too busy but not too plain, either. I quite like it. It's my first time using stencils in one of my paintings. In his later years, Henri Matisse used paper cut outs and stencils extensively in his work, so I'm in good company using this process. Plus, Matisse is one of the favorite artists of the lady who will eventually get this heart. So there's that.