Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Photographing Your Work Tutorial

Merry Christmas! I just posted four gorgeous new beauties on eBay! Check them out!

Notice something different? Yep, I've been experimenting with photography recently. My friend, Cindy Drozda inspired me to try some new things! (BTW, check out her brand new Etsy shop!)

So, while I'm here and writing, I figured I'd compose a short tutorial on photographing your work -- it's an essential skill, especially if you sell (or want to sell) online, and also gives you a record of your work. Too often, I've seen photos that are poorly lit, have distracting backgrounds, or simply don't show the piece to full advantage. While I trust a professional photographer to do promotional work, being able to take good photographs gives me a lot of flexibility.

Step 1: Begin with a Light Tent & Lights
The biggest problem that we photographic amateurs face is direct light, which creates hard shadows, glare, and too much shine. A light tent, made from light-diffusing material, is the easiest way to overcome this difficulty. The fabric on the tent panels breaks up the light rays, sending them off into all different directions, which has the effect of softening the beam.

You should use several lights -- I use the overhead fluorescent (on the ceiling in my photo room), a second overhead light (the "white-light" type that are sold for illuminating detail work), and two tiny directional lights that can be easily moved around the item.

You can buy ready-made tents, or make your own. Check out photography supply stores to buy materials.

Step 2: The Background
Choose a background that lets your item shine! In your light tent, spread fabric or use paper as a backdrop: something without wild patterns: plain, nothing distracting. IRON fabric if you use it! (There's nothing that looks worse than crinkled fabric, and it says "sloppy" to a potential judge or buyer). Recently, I've discovered that using a medium color background reduces contrast, allows the grain of the wood to show much more beautifully, and colors appear more substantial as well.

Large pieces of paper (11x11), in a wide variety of colors, can be found at craft supply or stationary stores; places that sell scrapbooking materials. Choose a median color and something that will represent your "brand." Color/background consistency helps your clients identify you and your product.

Step 3: The Camera
Digital pictures are very valuable media these days -- if you don't have a digital camera, BUY ONE! They come in all shapes and sizes and every price range. I recommend something at least one or two steps above the cheapest... but even those can work magic with experimentation. (A cell phone camera won't work -- the images are too poor quality to use online).

Step 4: Setting it all up
Most of my work (fiber arts tools & small spindles) must lie on the table to be photographed, which means I take pictures from above. Use a tripod if you possibly can -- it will help the sharpness of the image. I set up my lights to illuminate every part of my piece, watching for hard shadows, correcting them when possible.

Crochet hooks, being round, have the most curious tendency to roll around on the paper. I stick them down with "adhesive putty" purchased at an office supply store. (It's removable, non-staining, and works perfectly for sticking small pieces like crochet hooks and pens, allowing you to photograph the side you want). (When you go out to buy it, tell the clerk that it's normally used for sticking posters to walls). Best of all, it's almost infinitely reusable -- I've had the package in the photo for over 2 1/2 years!

Make sure you take at least one photograph of the "best" side of your piece. Often, a side that shows contrasting color, or has "exciting" grain changes will be the best candidate for the "power shot." (A "power shot" is the photo you use for the first picture in the online listing, as well as the "thumbnail." Multicolor often gets a better click rate than the more subtle side of a piece).

Remember -- the general public sees things slightly differently than woodturners do. While turners thrill to the undulations of crotch curliness, the public often doesn't know to look for this type of figuring, and a sapwood/heartwood contrast is much more eye-catching, especially on a casual-look basis. By all means, show the subtleties... just use the most "clickable" pictures up front.

Camera Settings:
Setting up the camera, I use Vivid, (so that the colors appear true-to-life), the Macro/Close-Up setting (represented by the flower in the flowerpot), and adjust the White Balance to match the background. You *will* have to experiment with your settings -- your lighting and camera settings will never be the same as another person's. I advise taking several pictures in a session and comparing them. For example, to find the best White Balance, I set up the studio, and take 1 picture at every other level: 0 clicks, 2 clicks, 4, and 6 clicks. (On my camera: 0, 2/3, 1 1/3, 2) This way, they can be easily labelled on the computer.

Taking pictures at intervals also lets me do half the work... when I observe the resultant photos, I can estimate what the best setting would be, and if I need to take an in-between picture. Repeat this process for each color of background that you choose -- the settings will be different.

The Computer Bit:
Hopefully, your pictures will have turned out well enough to require no editing at all, except for maybe cropping out a bit of the background. (Choose an attractive margin around your piece -- it helps the work stand out.) If necessary, "sharpen" the image slightly in Photoshop (or other capable graphics editing program), but note that it won't make too much difference in a very blurry photograph -- much better to re-take the picture.

I don't do any color alteration, add special effects, or do anything to impinge the original character of the photograph. This is important! If you "retouch" your photos and your clients notice the discrepancy in the piece when they receive it, you'll likely get a return... and a VERY unhappy customer. Don't try to be a Photoshop wizard -- flaunt the features of your work -- show every crack and cranny, knots, finish, etc. Your clients will buy your work for what it is, not what it could be. Be honest and build trust with your clientele, and they will reward you with customer loyalty.

LABEL your photographs. How many pictures of nameless bowls are floating around the internet? What if a buyer sees one and wants to buy it -- who can even tell who the maker is? Keep your original photographs intact, but for pictures that you post online, I highly recommend labeling them with your name or web site address, somewhere in the corner of the photograph. Give your work the credit they deserve, and let potential buyers know where to find you.

Most of all, have fun, and experiment to your heart's delight! Play with the settings on your camera, adjust the color of the lights and their position. Find what works best for you. (And after some time, you'll get googly-eyed from staring at the computer screen -- ask a friend or spouse what they think about your pictures -- they'll come up with some good suggestions.)

And before I let you go... the resultant pictures: White background was my "old" standard, and the tan is the after new experimentation. The difference in the appearance of the wood grain and color is just staggering!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Finally, a Posting Day!

Brrrrrrr! The fall, (yes autumn, we're still not officially in "winter" yet!) has been freezing, and even more than that! Snow has fallen, and temps have been waaaayyyy below zero. My shop/studio has been too cold to work in... BUT, thanks to some westerly winds, the warmth is back! (And by warmth, we're talking 40'F! :-)

I am pleased to announce my posting of three crochet hooks on eBay and three more on Etsy! Hopefully the temps will hold, (and I can get a better heating system in the meantime!)

One other announcement: if you are looking for a VERY special gift item, please see my friend Cindy Drozda's web site and brand new Etsy shop! She makes the most exquisitely gorgeous work -- beautiful beyond belief! Truly wonderful art pieces that would make an incredible gift for a treasured person.

I absolutely LOVE candy canes... as a child I used to eat them all through the Christmas season, tasting their delightfully sweet peppermint flavor, reveling in every last bit! Nowadays it's the color that I find most appealing -- those simple red and white stripes that swirl upward with a prancing sort of happiness!

I couldn't help but make a "Candy Cane" crochet hook this Christmas -- the stripies were calling out to me! The red in the hook (pictured above) is naturally crimson Bloodwood, a hard, dense wood from South America that makes wonderful crochet hooks. I then carved and textured two stripes that swirl around the entire top of the hook, and painted them with metallic acrylics, adding little dots that seem to dance to the heavens!

For extra shine and sparkle, I then added a 3 mm brilliant-cut Cubic Zirconia gemstone, set in sterling silver... right in the middle of the larger stripe. The pictures don't show it well at all, but in the hand it sparkles like magic! (Check out my Candy Cane hook on eBay.)

The second hook in the photo is wonderfully special -- it's made with Olivewood... but not just any piece of Olivewood... this is a fantastically wonderful piece with beautifully curling swirling grain! Paired with the double purples, simply gorgeous! (I posted this lovely on Etsy.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Posting Day!

Greetings everyone! I've just done a monster posting today, with items on both eBay and Etsy! Among those are crochet hooks, needle cases (which are also perfect for carrying toothpicks), and nostepindes! These all made fantastic gift items -- and they are hand-made by a real person, (me), a professional craftsman who takes pride in her work. Very special gifts indeed!

I am happy to make nostepindes/ball winders, and needle cases as custom orders for the Christmas season. If there's a colorway/wood/stone that you've been wanting, please e-mail me!

Below is a sampling of the lovely items I've put up today:

Check out the "Money" toothpick holders -- yes, made from REAL United States currency! I've got one on eBay and one on Etsy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Posting Day!

Five brand new crochet hooks on eBay today! See a gorgeous new hook from my Signature Ornate Hook Series: "Winter Swirling" !

Monday, November 2, 2009

Posting Day!

I'm soooo glad it's finally November -- my very favorite month of all! It's the month of orange, and Thanksgiving, and (probably) my birthday, though you never can tell. It's the month when cool breezes bring that fresh winter frost, when the brightest stars shine from the heavens and we can welcome back our favorite Hunter and his dog Sirius. I LOVE the smell of snow.

In other news, I've just posted five new crochet hooks on eBay!

This absolutely GORGEOUS piece, (which is one of those I added to my eBay store), was a very interesting one to make. I choose the types of wood based on their color -- and the lyptus (the peach-colored shaft) goes amazingly well with the bi-colored stripes on the Dyed Curly Hardwood, which forms the finial.

As I was turning, I had this thought to create a "vase" shape where the ornamentation starts. (For some reason I normally don't start out this way, but this piece practically insisted!) At any rate, I continued to turn the hook, and often stopped the lathe to see how the designs were unfolding on the finial... it was practically mesmerizing.

To me, the striations in the dyed wood looked like tendrils of smoke floating upward, and inspired me to write a lovely story about it. (See the eBay listing). Anyway, it's quite interesting because besides this bi-color effect, the wood also has wonderful chatoyant "curls" which show up as shortened stripies, and look like undulations in the wood.

A fantastic, lovely lovely piece! I'm sooooo tempted to keep this one-of-a-kind piece for myself.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Posting Day!

Halloween and pumpkin time is fast approaching! Have you gotten out all of your orange and black yarn yet???

I have a marvelous treat -- two crochet hooks made especially for the season! Check them out on eBay! (Plus three more and several brand new nostepindes and hair sticks!)

The first hook above combines one of my favorite natural colors of wood with a marvelous acrylic, I call the piece "Ectoplasmic!"

The second piece is a special one -- the idea was floating around in my head for weeks. Initially, I was going to make two separate hooks -- one featuring each character. However, because of time restraints, I thought that making one with two faces might be even more interesting.

The hat was accomplished with segmentation, combining a piece of "Charcoal" Dyed Hardwood to the green "Jadewood." (All of my segmentation is done with secure, proper joinery techniques such as are used in the cabinetmaking industry).

I carved the textures for the hair, eyes, and mouth, then painted them in metallic acrylics. I like to layer the paints so that they have a more jewel-like effect when viewed. For Zelda the witch, I used copper, bronze, orange, and red paints for her hair, then painted her lips in two shades of red. Frankie has lovely zig-zag hair painted in purple with silvery specks.

The hook came out to be completely and adorably cute! Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Posting Day!

Hooray, it's Posting Day! Ahh yes, but a Posting Day with a difference! Today I am offering a brand new Squid Crochet Hook! (And not just any ordinary squid... one with an Opal eye!)

Check out my new squid hook as well as four other lovelies on eBay!

And here she is:

This is my third hook in the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea series... something so fascinating about creatures so different to humans. Alien, yet prolific. I can only wonder what I could do with all those arms!!! (I might could work four or five lathes at the same time! hee hee!)

I really enjoyed making this hook -- it was quite time-consuming, but well worth the effort. I knew that I wanted to make a squid hook and so started out by turning an appropriate shape -- three "bubbles" rising from the deep, culminating in the shape of a squid.

It may sound odd, but I actually inlaid the eye first, before even defining the carved and painted form of the squid. I chose a Blue Opal that seemed to be the right shape and coloration. I then hand-carved a recess for the stone to sit in, and then inlaid the stone. (Indeed, this is a real opal, not an imitation). After seating the stone in the wood, I then carved all the offending surfaces so that the opal would be flush with the curve of the wood.

After this, I finished the rest of the hook, (sanded and polished), before beginning the carving. After making a suitably textured "skin" for this brand new squid, I then painted it in metallic acrylics. I've been fascinated watching documentary footage of the incredible undulating patterns that squids produce under the water -- for communication and other purposes. I tried to capture this by applying multiple layers of color, culminating in golden-colored dots, which add to the jewel-like appearance of the piece.

I think the opal is a perfect choice for an eye -- it reflects the natural state of squiddy affairs -- they do seem to have "watery" eyes. This particular stone has a stunning green flash when you turn it in the light! (The perfect "glint of intelligence" from our undersea friend!)

Anyway, I enjoyed making this piece very much -- please check her out!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Posting Day!

Hooray, another posting day has arrived! As Autumn has come knocking at my door, I'm definitely in a fall mood. I've posted SIX more hooks on eBay today, including several thematically related to the season. Check them out!

Yes, I couldn't resist delving into the traditional fall colors: oranges, red, golds, and bronzes. My thoughts are of pumpkins and harvests, leaves changing, and finally getting to wear sweaters and warm windbreakers that have been hibernating in the closets all summer long.

Of course, the absolute star of today's posting is my new "Autumn's Daughter" hook. I turned this hook almost two weeks ago, and I couldn't figure out how to decorate it. I knew she needed something, but I had no idea of what to do. Finally, the thought came: I should do LEAVES -- autumn leaves, swirling, dancing in the breezes.

After I carved this free-hand design, I then painted it in metallic acrylics, adding reds, bronzes, golds, and even a touch of greens, layering the colors to intensify the effect. I eagerly awaited the moment that the paint would be dry so I could inset a 3mm Peridot gemstone set in Sterling Silver.

The green of the Peridot adds something special to this hook -- brings it more liveliness, rather like the last green leaf on an Aspen turned golden. Like finding the proverbial "needle in the haystack" -- it's a little surprise!

Must say, I'm definitely enjoying the season!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Posting Day!

Hooray it's posting day!

I have just added four gorgeous new crochet hooks to eBay today... and it seems like a week for Nature to take center stage!

One beauty is a dyed burl, another filled with the gorgeous grain lines of Olivewood. One of the two pictured has the most splendid grain lines you've ever seen! (One of the precious miracles of Bocote -- one of my favorite demonstrative woods.) I will go way out of my way to find lovely looking pieces that I can turn into crochet hooks and other fiber arts tools.

The most kinetic of the hooks that I posted today is one I created out of one of my special Dyed Hardwoods called "Arctic Light." The turned form came out to be absolutely stunning. I have to say that my favorite part is the lower bead -- perfect! Of course, I couldn't stop the decoration there, no sireee!

I hand-turned three captive Jingly Rings into the top of the hook. (Indeed, they are part of the original wooden piece, not "glued on"). They're so fun to spin around... just sit idly and twirl them with your fingers! They're marvelous!

Anyway, a fun collection of hooks today! Check them out!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Posting Day!

Today I have a treat for you! Five brand new crochet hooks and two fantastic new nostepindes -- all on eBay!

I've put together some GORGEOUS color combinations, and I can't wait for you to see them! In the mix are some bright and brilliant dyed hardwoods as well as some purely natural beauties.

Take that Olivewood hook on the right, there ---> Supremely silky and wonderful to hold. Even in such a small size hook, the wood feels remarkably substantial in the hand, and it's positively a dream to crochet with! (You can probably tell at this point that I'm enormously fond of Olivewood!) Anyway, the grain stripes -- chocolate on cream -- are simply divine to behold.

The two nosties I added to my store are made of the wonderfully colorful dyed hardwoods that I do so much work with. I put up one in "Tapestry" (which you see just to the right), and one in the "Mardi Gras" colorway. I simply love the way the layers of dyed hardwood wrap themselves so beautifully around the shapes I turn -- they accentuate every curve and line.

By the way, this weekend I will be doing all-day demos at the Sustainable Living Fair in Ft. Collins, CO. I'll making all kinds of things on my lathe, and will have crochet hooks and nostepindes available for purchase too! It's a great opportunity to see how turned items are made by a professional woodturner. I absolutely LOVE doing demonstrations, and I hope to see you there!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Posting Day!

I'm back, I'm back! The symposium was GREAT! I learned a lot from my very favorite woodturner, Cindy Drozda, having watched all three of her marvelous demonstrations! (She made these absolutely precious mushroom boxes... one of her signature fine finials... and a tantalizingly sophisticated multi-axis hollow form in which the inside of the piece is larger than the outside!!!) On Sunday I saw Matthew Hill do some fantastic things with finishing, carving, and pyrography. I can't wait to see how my new work will evolve!

Today I've posted SIX gorgeous new hooks on eBay, including those beauties on the left! I love, love, LOVE working with wonderful figured woods, and when they are dyed, those chatoyant stripes just JUMP right out at you! Like cat's-eye gemstones, those stripes dance in the light!

As I was making these hooks I also wanted to play with color, and experimented to my heart's content! I think they turned out GORGEOUSLY well! Please check them out!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Symposium is Coming!

I'm so excited -- only a few days left until the Rocky Mountain Woodturning Symposium!!! I will be attending all of the wonderful demonstrations, and I can't wait to see the Instant Gallery! Oh, to see those gorgeous pieces of artwork... only days away!

If you are in the area, (Loveland, CO), please come by! The Instant Gallery and the Trade Show are free to the public. You are also welcome to come to the Banquet & Auction on Saturday evening at 5:00. Tickets are $25, and all of the auction proceeds benefit the RMWT Educational Opportunity Grant.

(Remember my post on Cindy Drozda's wonderful 5-day workshop? I was the recipient of one of those educational grants, and could not have attended the workshop without it!) I will be donating one of my ornate crochet hooks to the auction.

And, in other news... I have posted FIVE gorgeous new crochet hooks on eBay! (Including that lovely below!)

I gave two demonstrations last week on how to create crochet hooks, and I talked quite a lot on wood choice and design. The hook above came out to be incredibly lovely.

For the shaft, I chose "basic black" -- "Charcoal" Dyed Hardwood. I then added a thin band of premium white Holly for some contrast. The finial is made from Curly Koa... and it has the most incredibly dense and fine stripes of chatoyancy! (I've never seen them so close together before!) Those marvelous stripies dance in the light!

Anyway, the hook came out marvelously well -- the colors are just perfect, and I love adding the beauty of natural wood. A premium crochet hook.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Posting Day!

Greetings and salutations all!!!

I had a fantastic time demonstrating Creating Crochet Hooks at the Loveland and Denver, Colorado clubs this past week! I hope you got to come and see me, because I had a blast!

Now, for your fiber arts tools pleasure, I present FOUR brand new crochet hooks, which I've posted on eBay!

One of the most surprising pieces I've done in a while is this little beauty!

See the inset picture? Yes, it's a perfectly natural HEART! The grain lines meandered ever-so-beautifully to produce a natural "picture" of a heart.... I love when Mother Nature reveals her surprises in such charming ways! Annnnnddd... the wood is Bethlehem Olivewood, which is certified from the Holy Land. I adore the beautiful grain lines -- chocolate on cream.

Of course turning the hook is an absolute PLEASURE! Please check her out on eBay.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I will be giving an encore performance of my Creating Crochet Hooks demo TONIGHT! Come and watch me at the Rocky Mountain Woodturners Club Meeting in Loveland, CO. You are very welcome to be my guest. (Price is Free!)

I will also give a short presentation on my receipt of the Educational Opportunity Grant, talking about my wonderful experience at Cindy Drozda's 5-day workshop in Utah, and showing pieces that I created while there.

The meeting is from 6:15 to 9PM. Please click here for directions. Hope to see you there!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You are cordially invited to see my Creating Crochet Hooks demo tonight in Denver, CO! I will be doing the demonstration for the Front Range Woodturners, and you are very welcome to be my guest. (Price is Free!)

Click here for directions, etc.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Posting Day!

New nosties have arrived today! I posted those three beauties below, as well as four new crochet hooks on eBay!

I'd forgotten how much I like making nostepindes! I had lots of fun turning them, and whatever you choose to call them: nostepindes, nostepinnes, or ball winders, they turned out great!

Nosties work wonderfully well as ball winders for those extra-long, extra- un-wound hanks of yarn that you find in your LYS. I find them incredibly useful, especially to prevent the over-stretching of yarn that you tend to get when you use a mechanical ball winder.

I couldn't help but use some of my favorite colors of the Dyed Hardwoods... annnnnnnndddd Curly Maple! Yes, that beauty in the middle has chatoyant stripes that dance in the light!

Check them out!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Posting Day!

Guess what.... it's posting day! Hooray!

I have added FIVE lovely new lovelies to eBay, including those three peeking out from the side!

As I was making these hooks, I had so much fun putting together different colored woods, combining the dyed hardwoods with beautiful natural colors.

Of course my design ideas were just flying! The shapes seemed to "play" as I gently turned them with my chisels, coming out with gorgeous designs!

The theme, I think, this week must be summer and the beginnings of fall. Even as our tomatoes ripen in the garden and the yellow flowers of the cucumbers grow into fruit, the prairie is goldening.

The wind is bringing that wonderful cool air that tells me autumn is beginning to fall. The fresh breezes invigorate my spirit, and inspire me to do wonderful things.

The lathes have me at their beck and call, the wood sings from the shelves: Pick ME first! New tools want their turn too, anxious to participate in autumnal bliss!

I love fall. It has all the freshness of spring, but in colors of maturity -- reds, oranges, soothing browns, and subtle greens; the golden prairie reflects peacefulness and wealth that the season brings.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Posting Day!

Hooray, it's posting day! I have put up some extraordinary beauties this week on eBay!

I had the urge to do another polka-dot hook -- it must be the summer sunshine taking effect! I love Osage Orange -- the color and smoothness can't be beat! It's a wonderfully golden orange color, and I couldn't resist pairing it with purple! (What better combination?)

When I create these special hooks, I always like to shade the colors very carefully and add multiple layers of paint, so that it adds a richness to the piece, and ends up having a jewel-like quality. This little polka-dotted beauty came out to be very lovely indeed!

Of course, my favorite hook of this week has to be the "Golden Blooms" hook -- I really love the natural way the design wants to meander around the hook. This particular hook has "one" vine that connects all of the flowers (and bud!), and wraps around the piece, culminating in a tiny spiral ending at the top of the hook.

The design is completely carved into the hook, then painted in metallic acrylics. The carving gives the design depth and permanency. I painted the flowers in various shades of gold with a pearly white center, and the vines in several shades of green.

Both pieces are signed with my artist's mark. (You can see my "snowflake" at the top of the Osage Orange hook). I had a delightful time creating these two hooks!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cindy Drozda 5-day Workshop -- Review

I've just come back from Utah -- 16 hours driving through the deserts and mountains of Wyoming, crossing the Continental Divide four times, (ask me how this is possible), and finally arriving back home with new ideas, new thoughts, and new inspirations!

A five-day workshop is pretty intense... even for me... (and I'm known for my insatiable desire for knowledge and improvement)... Cindy shared so much of her expert knowledge, it was a dream come true!

Days 1 & 2 were devoted to learning proper turning technique -- beads and coves and vee-grooves with both the bowl and spindle gouges, culminating in design exercises which resulted in some very interesting forms! With so many in the class, it was incredibly valuable to be able to see others' ideas for shape and composition, share critiques, and try out new designs with each iteration of turning. Cindy shared her secrets about what makes a successful design, as we worked on both vessel and finial forms.

Day 3 was devoted to making our own Fabulous Finial Box, which Cindy is so well known for creating! My box (photo on the right) was made from Claro Walnut with a Holly inlay and foot. Such a beautiful design, complicated too, but Cindy's step-by-step instruction made it easy to complete within the day. (Yes, even that tiny finial was easily within reach with Cindy's superb teaching of technique!) Another session of group comparison led to all kinds of design inspirations!

Day 4 brought a wealth of possibilities, with the fabulous Cindy Drozda allowing a choice of projects among the group!

There were at LEAST 5 different projects/variations going on at once, and Cindy, who is so incredibly versatile, like the great turning Masters, went from lathe to lathe, easily switching gears to help each student with his/her chosen turning, and effortlessly demonstrating methods of solving any difficulties s/he might have had.

Of course, me being me, I watched ALL the projects, and got a little behind on my turning, but I did finish the natural-edge Mushroom Box (on the left), made of English Yew. (Even though I didn't get to make it in class, I also watched Cindy turn a square-edged bowl, as well as demo dyeing techniques, both of which I am going to try at home!)

By day 5 I was almost exhausted! Cindy suggested I do a hollow form for relaxation purposes, and what a fantastic idea that was! I turned a spalted wet maple hollow form with walls 1/8" thick -- what a joy! (And that Jamieson hollowing system is a MUST HAVE!)

On day 5 Cindy also gave a wonderful presentation on how to "read" burls as well as plan projects using the figure of the wood to best advantage -- invaluable knowledge for us to have.

Conclusion: Whenever Cindy Drozda teaches a class, I will be the FIRST to sign up! Her knowledge of turning is impeccable, and her ability to teach turning technique is nothing short of extraordinary. By the end of the week, each and every student in the class improved his/her technique, as well as improved design in their unique style.

by Cindy Drozda

Far from being a "copy me" class, Cindy encouraged and spurred each student to find their own direction. No one's boxes looked the same -- and through her encouragement of group communication, we all learned from each other.

Cindy Drozda, the Great Woodturner, is nothing short of a woodturning Master. And the best part is.... we all had lots of FUN!!!

Fantastic fantastic class! I can't possibly say enough about this incredible experience!!! I arrived home filled with new knowledge, overflowing with inspiration, and best of all, the insatiable desire to TURN...

Another event of note... I have it on good authority that Cindy will be at the Loveland Sculpture Invitational this very weekend, August 7-9th! I can't wait to see more of her exquisite artwork in person!

See you there!

Posting Day!

I've just posted four new lovely hooks on eBay, (including the one below!) Check them out!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Remember back in February when I was awarded a generous Educational Opportunity Grant by the Rocky Mountain Woodturners? This week is it! I will be attending a 5-day workshop given by world-renowned woodturning artist Cindy Drozda, which I know will be lots of fun, with so many wonderful things to learn!

Since I'll be away from my studio, I won't be able to mail packages until I return. I'll post new fiber tools on Monday, August 3rd, when I come back -- see you then!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tori Amos in Denver

Last night I saw Tori Amos in concert -- she was absolutely Magnificent. She (and her fantastic band) played so beautifully, with such incredible energy! It was liquid bliss!

Her set list was amazing; each song flowed flawlessly to the next. And the colors, the lights -- each tableaux seemed "painted" to show off her signature red hair! Absolute PERFECTION!

Tori's music is so incredibly powerful... so very inspiring! I feel honored and privileged to have been able to see her performance -- WOW!

There's nothing.... nothing in the world like Tori's glorious music...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Posting Day!

Greetings everyone!
"Banksia Space Station"
by Cindy Drozda

If you haven't signed up for Cindy Drozda's workshop yet, TODAY is the day! I am soooooo looking forward to it! She makes the most extraordinary boxes and lidded vessels you've ever seen! And she's teaching us how to make them! What could be better??? Check out her blog for more information, or her web site to see more of her exquisite work.

My news for today includes four new lovelies on eBay!

My roses are blooming like crazy! They're so beautifully bright in the summer sunlight -- pinks, and peaches, and reds, and fuchsias! They inspired one of my hooks today.

Lovely pink flowerets bloom on a verdant green background, golden-green vine connecting these seeds of life!

I quite enjoyed making this hook -- it's a design I've never tried before, and I think it came out quite beautifully. I'm particularly pleased with the shape of the flowers and petals, (as well as the shading within the painting part of it). So pretty!

The second hook is from my new series "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" -- it is entitled "Squid #2".

I'm particularly fascinated at the way the craft of turning can produce such a perfect squid shape. It's made me wonder what other sorts of creatures are similarly round and radially symmetrical, in hopes that I can find a way to represent those as well.

The hooks are always so much more magical in the hand than they are in photographs... and the squid hook is no exception! The "eye" is a 3mm Garnet set in Sterling Silver, and sparkles beautifully in the light, really seeming to bring the creature to "life." The tentacles wrap all the way around the hook.

This, as well as the "Summer Blooms" hook are signed pieces.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Posting Day!

Another Posting Day has arrived -- Hooray!

I've posted six lovely new crochet hooks on eBay today, including the two pictured.

Did you happen to see the blog entry below? (About the incredible opportunity to take a class with world-renowned woodturning artist Cindy Drozda? (If you didn't, check it out!) If you did... I just wanted to prove how fantastic a teacher she is! Check out my Before and After photo and story.

On to the hooks!

That little gal on the left is made from Asian Satinwood, and absolute pleasure to work with! It's so very smooth to cut, and the chatoyant stripies on the sides add such playfulness to the hook! I think that the amethyst looks absolutely stellar on that hook.

I've never done black painting before -- never really thought of it with regards to my general proclivity to color. However, I think it turned out to be a wonderful combination of colors, especially after adding the silvery colors as well.

The hook on the right is an absolute STUNNER -- sooooooo pretty. Indeed, after I uploaded the photo for eBay, I thought... ooooh, maybe I should keep this one! Soooooo gorgeous!

This beauty was inspired by "Apollo's Frock" by Tori Amos, a B-side from the Scarlet's Walk era. One of my favorite songs, another in which she uses metaphor upon metaphor, including prolific historical and literary referents. A very complicated song, and complicated meaning.

I suppose I wanted to transcend a lot of that -- it just isn't possible to create a small work of art that can express all of the meanings present in such a vastly meaningful work. Indeed, I went with the most apparent of meanings, and chose to incorporate color as a primary part of the design. The flames are obviously representative of the solar innuendo, though also include deeper parts of the lyrical meaning.

I had quite a lot of fun painting this hook -- I used various metallic acrylics: bronzes, copper, golds, etc., applying shading to the flames to give them a bit of life -- as though they truly are licking upward to the top of the hook. I added a 3mm brilliant-cut Garnet set in Sterling Silver to complete the piece... and does it! Garnet in place, the whole hook has a jewel-like effect!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Woodturning Dream!

Greetings everyone,
I thought this was too good an opportunity to pass up, so I wanted to post it here: I just found out that there are still spaces in Cindy Drozda's Workshop at Craft Supplies USA this month! You've all heard me rave about her -- she is an absolutely extraordinary teacher! She

by Cindy Drozda

can coax gorgeous works even out of raw beginners, and teach any advanced turner tricks to making exciting work.

Cindy is, quite simply, the turner to learn from. I can't even begin to tell you how much her instruction has improved my skill and artistry. Anyway, it's a 5-day workshop at the end of the month, July 27-31. Check out her web site (where you can see more of her amazing artwork), and her blog, (which has links to the workshop info & sign up).

If you've ever had interest in woodturning, this is a fantastic opportunity to learn! (I can't wait to go myself -- my bags are already packed! I hope to see you there!) It's going to be great fun!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Posting Day!

Hooray! Hooray! It's Posting Day! It's the day I get to share all of my new fiber arts tools with you!

Today I posted FIVE new crochet hooks on eBay, as well as added a couple of lovelies to my Etsy page.

Here are two of the eBay gals:

The green gal on the left is absolutely STUNNING in the hand! That CZ is so very sparkly! (Did you know that CZs have the highest refractive index aside of diamonds? -- and it absolutely shows!) I wish I could take better photographs of the gemstones -- they're brilliant-cut, and so reflect light incredibly well.... so well that it appears as a single facet in the picture. Hmm... maybe I should try different lighting angles? At any rate, the "Golden Vine" hook is a treasure!

The purple hook on the right is a special one -- I was thinking about what sort of design I'd like to create, and started off with the tiny little dots on the middle "bead." From there, my mom's advice came to mind -- she's been suggesting that I do polka dots on some of the hooks... so here it is! I had a difficult time choosing between all the colors of metallic acrylic, (they're all so lovely!), but finally chose a gorgeous cerulean -- so beautiful. Like a mix of lapis lazuli and aquamarine. Of course, I added a host of other colors in layers to create a "jewel-tone" look.

The polka dots wrap all the way around the hook, even over the very tippy top!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Posting Day!

Howdy everyone! (I am still recovering from the Symposium -- BUT, I am sooooo inspired! I've been making things like crazy, using new techniques I learned!)

Anyway, back to the business... the wonderful business at hand! I've posted six more hooks on eBay today, including some brand new nosties and a needle case in my store.

My favorite hook has got to be my new Tori Amos inspired piece -- brought to life through her American Doll Posse song: "Girl Disappearing."

This song has been quite important to me over the past couple of years -- I can certainly relate to it's thematic references -- I've lived some of those things. Indeed, I'm happy to have "boycott(ed) trends" and found a different way of being over the past ten years or so.

Reading the rest of the lyrics, I found it quite a romantic notion to escape to a constellation -- a place of there or possibly not there -- is it reachable? I don't know -- maybe. I suppose that I've never tried.

What was interesting to me while making this hook was that I normally gravitate to the chorus, the bit about "riding on backs of palominos," but whenever I thought about creating the hook, all that would come to mind was the stanza:

Envy can spread
Herself so thinly
She slipped in
Before I could notice it

And I suppose it was quite apropos for creation of a crochet hook -- after all, you can't really tell the entire story in such a diminutive format -- best to focus on the most important point.

So, I took that traditional green for envy and based the hook around that idea, "slipping" a thin band of green between the (almost pure) white of Holly -- the innocence of the protagonist of the song. After carving the spiraling designs, I painted them in varying, shading greens, allowing them to almost dissipate at the top; a metaphor for letting go of that anger, the forgiveness of self for wanting what isn't possible.

I couldn't resist adding a 3 mm Peridot gemstone, which I set in Sterling Silver, which really brings the piece home for me. This piece is engraved with my signature/artist's mark.

At any rate, I very much enjoyed making this hook -- it turned out to be absolutely gorgeous!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Posting Day!

Well... post posting day, but I have soooo much to tell you, it's taken me two days to write! Firstly, I've posted some brand new, GORGEOUS hooks on eBay! (See those two beauties below? Check them out on eBay!)Speaking of... the new fashions for hooks have arrived! My new design series is called "Unexpected Details." Because I use so much color and shape in my work, I often feel like a fashion designer, and love to come up with new things. The "Unexpected Details" series will incorporate tiny details, perhaps even barely noticeable, but which make all the difference in the world. I guess it's my way of adding a "hidden treasure" in plain sight -- but only if you look closely!

In other news, I have returned from the AAW National Symposium in Albuquerque! I had an wondrous time!

I saw many woodturning celebs, and got to attend demos by the best in the field. I learned all kinds of marvelous things, and came back inspired, enchanted, and improved.

The instant gallery was absolutely incredible; the artwork was marvelous! My very favorite piece of the show was "Renaissance" by Cindy Drozda. (Second from left in the picture below).

The picture doesn't even come CLOSE to doing justice to her wonderful artwork -- the shape, the form, the finish, the colors are literally breathtaking! Soooooo beautiful, and unquestionably Perfect. (Yes, "perfect" with a capital "P," or, in other words, Magnificent!)

The walls of the goblet are incredibly thin. You can't see it in the photo, but the bead on the finial mirrors the natural edge finish on the amboyna goblet with tiny scallops. The very tip of the finial also has these carved points, ending in an emerald-green chrome diopside stone! The detail is just extraordinary!!! (I won't even TELL you what's inside!)

I was also privileged to see her demonstrate her ultra-fine turning at the trade show. I spent hours watching... I was utterly captivated by her skill and artistry. She's AMAZING! (Check out her web site). She created fine fine finials, as well as demonstrated her signature Finial Box and her Finial Star Box, using her brand-new line of signature tools! (Check them out at Packard Woodworks) The recess cutter is my absolute FAVORITE! (And the vortex tool is... well, "large grin" may suffice as a description!)

Even as I was watching, she came up with a brand new finial design incorporating what she calls "wave forms," separated by impossibly narrow v-grooves. She continued to demo these throughout the show, astonishing us with her prolific creativity!

In other news, I am glad to be back home! My cats missed me, especially my tiny Arabella. ...And it felt really weird not to be covered in wood chips!

Time to get turning again!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Off to the Symposium!


This week I'm off to the AAW National Symposium in Albuquerque, NM to be inspired by some of the greatest woodturners in the world! Looking forward to meeting up with friends and making new ones, as well as learning new techniques through the prolific demonstrations.

I will also be unveiling a VERY SPECIAL crochet hook in the Instant Gallery... as well as presenting a new design series of hooks.

Since I will be away from Wednesday through Monday, I won't be able to ship items purchased on eBay or Etsy during this time, (or, of course, answer e-mails). Next posting on eBay will be Tuesday, June 30th.

I hope to see you at the Symposium!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Posting Day!

I've posted SIX new hooks on eBay, including another Tori Amos inspired hook. (Hint, she's the one on the left!)

However, before I go further on that topic, I'll tell you about the lovely little gal on the right: I couldn't resist creating a hook with more of my swirling dotted designs, thusly came the ~Winds of Summer~ crochet hook. I happen to think that blue and white go very very well together, and I love to try to create different combinations. Usually, I like to add a band of turquoise gemstones, however, with this hook, I thought I'd do something different.

I was inspired by the lovely summery weather we had a couple days ago, (it's been raining for weeks now!), and so after turning this hook, I thought I'd add some feather-light decorations. I painted the swirl carvings with turquoise and blue-colored metallic acrylics, and they came out to look very jewel-like indeed. The photo doesn't really give a great idea of texture, but it's just beautiful in the hand!

That little gal on the left was inspired by Tori Amos' song "Never Seen Blue," a B-side from her From the Choirgirl Hotel album era. I took some of the lines to heart, obviously, and thought about them a great deal as I was designing this hook. "Some boy you are to wear my color red/wear it very proudly"...

I usually play "Never Seen Blue" with "Beaulah Land" as they are both blue-colored songs to me. However, when I thought about the lyrics above (and those that follow), the meaning changed for me, and I wanted to make a hook that more accurately reflected those new meanings. (It's interesting -- I've been studying her music for about 8 years now, and I STILL hear something new each time I play a song!)

Anyway, I carved some wonderful textural flame-like designs on both sides of the hook, which wrap all the way around. I added a 3mm brilliant-cut Cubic Zirconia, (a real CZ, not a crystal), set in Argentium(R) Sterling Silver. (See the June 11th post below for info about Argentium (R) Sterling.) It sparkles sooooooo beautifully! The sparkly-ness is REALLY difficult to capture in a photograph. No matter what camera angle I tried, the light reflected off the top facet, making it look white.

I guess I'm going to have to ask for help on the photographs! Actually, there are some pretty good tutorials out there on photographing jewelery, so I hope to have a better photo for the next hook.

Well, back to work... I've got to get ready for the AAW Symposium next week!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Estes Wool Market

I ventured out of Cheyenne today... it was Wool Market Day!!! Yes, even though thunderstorms were favored by the weather service, I decided to brave it and take a trip to Estes Park, CO.

Well, the first part of the trip is truly a test of courage. I am more than slightly claustrophobic, so the drive is no insignificant matter... (see photo below, click to zoom).

Yes, those walls are made of solid rock, and they go alllllllllll the way up! ...which inspires thoughts like... "how much do I really want the wool???"

Wooly thoughts prevailed, however, and even though I felt horribly squished, thank goodness the canyon widens out a little for the rest of the 45 minutes of that part of the drive. (All together, for me, it's about 2 hours each way.... yes, I LOVE wool... THAT MUCH! :-)

(Living in the country, I'm used to more than 180' unfettered skyline, so 15' is insufficient at best).

Soon enough I arrived in lovely Estes Park, and the sun was shining! Hooray! I immediately went to the fairgrounds, and the first sight to greet me was this gorgeous llama:

Her coat was extraordinarily soooooooft... I found out that she (and the llama behind her, to the left), are both very "girly" llamas, and I had such fun talking to their keepers that I forgot to ask their names! (Please forgive this breach of etiquette on my part!) Anyway, they had just been shown, and their owners were escorting them back to their pens.

All sorts of creatures great and small were at the festival, including no lack of sheep, angora rabbits, angora goats, paco vicunas, alpacas, llamas, cashmere goats, and... some very unusual visitors: YAKS!

There were three lovely yaks being shown outside, and there was fibre and yarn to be found inside!

Yes, the shopping... I'm afraid I went just slightly overboard. Well... I really couldn't help myself. I intended to get a couple of hand-dyed batts for spinning... and before you know it, I had a PROJECT come to mind, and I was fluttering around the place, buying all kinds of natural and dyed batts and rovings, angelina fibre, and similarly sparkly nylon to add into my soon-to-become-yarns.

Among the interesting people I met was a production woodturner from Colorado who makes lovely niddy nodddies, (large) needle boxes, and drop spindles. He's been at the show for several years in a row now, and since my mum couldn't go, she requested that I buy one of his boxes for her, so I did: a tall cherry box which has a very streamlined shape to it: so lovely and smooth.

I also got to spend a few minutes watching a spinner demo the navajo spindle. WooHoo! Now mine doesn't have to sit in the corner anymore as "decoration"! I can put it to work! (Amazing how 5 minutes can change your life! :-)

I saw all manner of creation at the show -- beautiful knitted and needlefelted art dolls, a giraffe hobby-horse, wet-felted flowers, nubbly yarns, smooth yarns, sparkly ones too! Lots of mini-looms for sale, as well as fibre beyond compare! Colors! Colors! Colors to the delight the eyes! and softness to delight the fingertips! and the chattering of hundreds of critters outside to spur you on!

Well, I'm so glad I didn't trust the weather service... and didn't chicken out on the drive... and wore my sturdy tennis shoes! I had a great time! Actually, it's my fourth year to go -- I've gone every year that I've lived in Wyoming, and look forward to next year!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Posting Day!

Hooray! Hooray! It's Posting Day! Annnnnddddd, I've got some fantastic new designs for you! (Before I get ahead of myself, let me just tell you that I posted seven new hooks on eBay today. I also added the nifty little box on the right ---->, showing some items from my Etsy store, AND also a list of links to all the places you can find my work.)

Now down to business.... ("serious mode" engaged)...

I had an absolutely GLORIOUS time making this hook:

It is a wonderful thing to be inspired by a person, or their creation, so I like to try and give back some of that inspired thought with a direct link of some sort.

Inspired from Tori Amos' "Carbon" from her Scarlet's Walk album, I thought about what makes the song so very special -- the lines she sings, the meanings that come. "Carbon made only wants to be unmade" ... "crystalline irises" ... "shred in ribbons of lithium" ... "keep your eyes on her/on her eyes on her horizon"

In doing this, and figuring out how I could translate this into a piece of artwork, I discovered new meanings in the song. For example, I always, always thought of "crystalline irises" as eye irises, never even occurred to me that they might refer to the flowers. However, when I was searching for the right color to add to the hook, the images of those purple flowers in my own garden jumped to the forefront of my attention, and I knew it was right.

For this special dedication, a very special hook was in order, so I used techniques that I was inspired to learn at the Utah Woodturning Syposium: the textural design, plus a wonderful secret from world-renowned woodturner Cindy Drozda (web site / blog) -- the setting of precious gemstones and adding them to my woodworking. (She adds them under the lids of her boxes, which creates a marvelously special effect whenever you open one! You'd never mistake a Cindy Drozda original artwork with anyone else's!)

For this piece, I added a 3mm amethyst set in Argentium(R) Sterling Silver. (In case you're wondering, Argentium (R) Sterling is made with germanium, which severely inhibits tarnishing, yet is never less than 93% silver, like traditional sterling. You can read more about it here (PDF)).

Combining all of these techniques together was a delightful challenge, and I enjoyed every minute of it! I will be posting more artist-inspired (Tori) hooks in the coming weeks. Only my very favorite songs will be translated into crochet hooks, and I'm happy to say that I've got a few of them planned already.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Posting Day!

Five new nosties on Etsy today, and six new needlecases on eBay!

My favorites of the needle cases (which are also multiply handy for carrying toothpicks), are these two guys:

The top one is one of my custom colors of Dymondwood, and I inlaid it with abalone shell. It's so difficult to capture the sparkles of the shell -- they look almost rainbowy, and reflect greens and pinks and blues in the light. Actually this is one of my favorite combinations of Dyed Hardwood + natural material (i.e. shell/stone).

A new favorite combo I just created is the second case down -- "Flying" Dyed Hardwood + Chrysocolla gemstones. I looooooooove the blueness of the stones -- they look sumtuously gorgeous! (I think it's even prettier in the hand than on the photograph).

(Both of the above have 24k gold plated findings)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Shop Tour

I had a GREAT time at Anthony Prough's shop tour at Milliken Middle School on Saturday. Several of his students were there to demonstrate their turning skills and show us around the shop. I was thrilled to see that quite a few members of the Rocky Mountain Woodturner's club came down to visit. World-renowned artist David Nittmann also came by, sharing turning techniques with the students.

Thank you for sharing your shop with us!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Spring has come!

Spring has finally decided to arrive in Cheyenne... a welcome respite from the snows of winter... (Well, sort of... I do actually prefer the cooler weather -- it makes working in the shop a LOT more comfortable).

It's been raining like crazy all week, but today, finally, the sun has arrived, complete with golden rays, beams, and all manner of pouring down gorgeous golden light! I missed the sun. Wyoming has two things in abundance: grass and sky. And the sky is literally cloudless 90% of the time... the other 9% has tiny bitty clouds. Only 1% gets reserved for the overcast rainy days that dampen the ground and the spirits. (Thus, a week without sun is merciless punishment for sun-loving artists!!!)

Our irises appreciate both the rain and the sunshine: they're finally in bloom, and their lovely purple faces greet us as we walk outside:

Yes, a LOT of us are late-bloomers, but who cares? There's plenty of time in life to live :-)

Back to creation! K

P.S. Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention: as the Vice President of the Rocky Mountain Woodturners, I'd like to invite you to our monthly meeting held today at WoodCraft in Loveland, 6:30 sharp. Dennis Liggett will be presenting twistwork. (Which is a REALLY neat technique!) Join us!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Posting Day!

Monday! It's posting time! (Or, actually, post posting time, since I've already posted what I needed to post!)

I've just put 10 new hooks on eBay, and they're all a treat! Gorgeous, every one of them!

There are two up there that showcase designs that I was inspired to do after visiting the Utah Woodturning Symposium, and here's a little teaser for you...

I've been carving the surface to create a very delicate texture, then painting the carved area with metallic acrylics. They shine sooo beautifully in the light! The texturing is much more substantial in the hand -- if only I could find a way to photograph it better!

In any case, I find I really enjoy this kind of decoration -- it reminds me of when I was a child, (eons ago), and I painted swirls and swirls all over the pages. Rather like a form of pointillism, I suppose -- using these lines of color to create basic shapes, (like flowers, trees, hills, etc.).

This evening, I also posted some wonderful eye-candy in the form of needle cases! (These can also be used as toothpick holders). I added a total of six tonight, all in the brightly beautiful Dyed Hardwoods with 24k gold plated findings. Here are three of them:

Well, back to the shop! See you soon!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Happy Day!

Life is better today!

I get to see the goddess in concert: Tori Amos! Hooray! Bought tickets this morning to see her in Denver. I'm always blissed for weeks afterward!

*~* Happy Dance *~*

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am conceiving of a Very Special crochet hook to be unveiled at the AAW Symposium in June. I hope to see you there!

Friday, May 29, 2009

I woke up on a hill of electrons...

... and was prompted to choose a template, and a layout, and complete the Profile...

Ahhh, I've arrived in Blog-land!

Greetings fellow citizens, I'm new!

Well, new here at any rate -- I've been around for a while otherwise. I am a professional woodturner. Yes, that means I LOVE my job. Please check out my web page at to see my work. I focus mainly on creating fiber arts tools: crochet hooks, nostepindes, needles cases, etc. Of course, that only fuels my interest in exploring all of the other ways to turn wood!

(While I'm digging through my files, let me post a pic -- this Q will go on Etsy next week)

I have approximately three cats: Arabella, Jingle, and Magnolia (Maggy Mae), whom I love dearly. My life would inexorably, most unpleasantly altered without them.

In other news, today my Magnolia expanded her snack repertoire. I don't even want to think about it, but suffice it to say: it probably "tasted like chicken." I'm going to have to keep a better watch on her to prevent too much natural instinct from kicking in.

Otherwise, it's been a pretty busy day: I've been making some special projects for special people, and new wood arrived! Hooray!