Sunday, December 6, 2009

first snow


This was the view from my loft window at first light, Sunday morning.

Although I have witnessed a first snow every year for 44 years (some of which I, of course, don't recall), this blanket of whiteness which appears out of nowhere never ceases to at first shock - and then as the reality of it sinks in - amaze me. Its ability to render my once familiar landscape almost unrecognizable is delightful. Brown, soggy earth is made pristine and pure. The heap of compost is no longer an eyesore. My collection of rusting metal - destined to become 'art'- is transformed overnight into whipped cream spackled sculpture.

And before the snow plow turns and churns this blindingly white blanket into mounds of dirty mashed potatoes, I will try and retain every perfect moment of this first snow.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

birds do it...


Yes, even birds do it!
God love the tiny winged creature who so artistically created this diminutive home, made entirely out of found, scavenged and repurposed material! I found it on the ground after a particularly blowy spell, and when I looked more closely, I saw pine needles, tiny sticks, and finely shredded birch bark all woven (using its beak, no less) around a single spruce twig- like a feather in a jaunty cap! No human has ever created a more perfectly exquisite piece of work.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

unfaithful blogger


OK. I must confess. There's another blog in my life... It's the Etsy Trashion Team blog- and at the moment it's the object of my distraction.
Not that I don't love my own blog... I just like to spread the love around a little!

As I mentioned, I'm a member of the Etsy Trashion Team- and right about NOW you are asking yourself "My goodness, just what is trashion?!". Well, get your mind out of the gutter- it's nothing like that...
What it is is: "...a group of Etsy sellers who focus on recycling and upcycling all kinds of discarded and found materials. We are creative artists and crafters who are dedicated to making trash into treasure!"
And naturally we have a blog. And just as naturally I felt compelled to add one more task to my overflowing 'to-do' list and offer to be a guest blogger. Happily actually.
As some of you might have suspected by now, I am really into recycling and repurposing. In fact, I could probably talk 'trash' to you all day long! But why not let someone else have the floor for once... and that is just what I am doing in my TrashTalk series over at the Trashion Team blog.
Each month I'll  be interviewing a different Trashion Team member and getting a 'behind the scenes' glimpse into the trashion artists' world- their inspiration, insight and ingenuity- complete with photos!
Check out Octobers interview with perfume designer and trashion artist Magickal Realism.

Monday, September 28, 2009

sweet smell of autumn

Ah, yes... the nights are crisp, mornings are down-right nippy, and there has been frost on the pumpkin (leaves) at least once already! Get ready folks, it's all down hill from here... or up hill. I guess it depends.
Because Winter follows Autumn, I can't help but feel a twinge of dread for what lies ahead- snow, ice, huge fuel bills, having to spend 10 minutes getting bundled up in order to take the dog out for a 5 second pee- and longing for what is already becoming a distant memory- lots of daylight, home grown veggies, wearing flip-flops and not much else, loon calls in the night...
But on the other hand.... Winter has the bluest skies you'll ever see, is when I get to slow down and spend a lot of time indoors being creative, and it precedes Spring, which gives me something really wonderful to look forward to, and for me, that is the best way to live.
And you can look forward to more frequent blog entries from me in the coming months!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Slug Fest 2009


WHAT: A real down and dirty slug-fest
WHERE: My very own garden
WHEN: Every friggin' morning...

In this corner, wearing the yellow/orange slime... gastropod mollusk!
In the other corner, wearing a look of disgust and armed with a salt shaker... me!

The winner will be decided by the number of cucumbers that actually make it past the embryonic stage...


Monday, July 13, 2009

wish you were here!

Summertime, and the livin's easy... well, at least it isn't as difficult as trying to get through a Maine winter! But I can tell you last month was no piece of cake! We've just had the wettest June on record- I think it rained 28 out of 30 days. And I'm talking downpours- all day, everyday!
Which is why I'm taking a little time to bask in the long awaited sunshine, do some gardening (if the slugs left me anything), swimming, sunning, beach combing, and playing 'tourist'- I have a long, long list of sites and events that are beckoning me.
I also will be taking a break from blogging, but I promise to bring back all sorts of treasures that I have collected to share with you all!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

the perfect business card


I know this might sound a little wacky to some of you who might not be as fanatical as I am about recycling, but... I have been dilemma-tizing for weeks about buying card stock to print my business cards on! I just can't stand the thought of purchasing brand new virgin paper, and then hoping that after I'm done printing and cutting and handing out the finished product, it just doesn't end up in the waste stream- un-recycled!
I know, I know... all who receive one of my business cards will treasure it and always hold it dear...
But just in case, why not eliminate (most of) the problem, and print it on TRASH to begin with? The idea is beyond brilliant- check it out here

Sunday, June 14, 2009

very green artists

There is nothing I like more than to talk about art and recycling (and me of course)!
So when I was contacted by fellow Mainer/artist/blogger Jes from Junque Revival about contributing to a series of interviews she is calling "The Very Green Artist", I was overjoyed!
Three other artist who are saving the planet one fabulous creation at a time and who were interviewed are: designer/decorator Colette George of Cathedral of Dreams, upcycler artist Bonnie Thomas of PsandQs, and designer/artist Jennifer Wiglesworth of BelladonnaSurf fame.
Read all about us here...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

the greenest of green

Memorial Day was one of the most beautiful days we have seen yet this Spring, and I spent it wisely. Walking my dog, digging in the dirt, feeling the sun on my skin- all the while feeling deeply grateful for being able to enjoy it all in a safe, healthy and peaceful environment.
I was also thankful that I had remembered to charge my camera batteries as I headed out the door to seek out and capture on film, the quintessential 'spring green'.
Luckily, the Beech trees that are so abundant on my property had been preparing themselves for this debut, and had at once decided to don their greenest of green foliage (or so it seemed!).
I will never tire of my 'seek and capture mission' that I embark on every Spring. Nor will I tire of speaking words of gratitude that when I decide my mission is accomplished, I can just walk home.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

see julia sew!

Finally got to watch the interview! I missed the broadcast last night (I don't own a TV) and my internet connection is a little slow... but it woke up this morning ready for streaming!
Watch it here... Or read it here !

Friday, May 15, 2009

lights! camera! action!

Woo-Hoo! I did it! I made it through my very first television interview without passing out from shear nervousness or babbling incoherently (at least I think I sounded somewhat intelligent)! Thankfully it was a recorded interview and not LIVE.
So this little slice of prime time media coverage came my way via a wonderfully observant reporter from the local NBC affiliate WLBZ Channel 2 in Bangor, Maine who had been dining at Finelli Pizza in Ellsworth. He spied my handmade recycled tote bags for sale there and thought that they were so totally cool that he just had to do a story about them (and their creator) for the evening news! The next day I got a call asking if I'd be willing to talk a bit about my business and especially my recycled tote bags. On camera...? Like for TV...? Ahh, yeah. Why, sure... Great, see you on Friday!
Well, good gravy! You would have thought I was awaiting my very first Brazilian-wax, given the way I was losing sleep and carrying on about this!
Turns out it was painless. Fun, actually! (the interview- not the wax)
Scott is an incredibly easy-going reporter AND camera-man. He is also really good at making you feel comfortable. Yup. He does it all- And at the same time! (He also promised- at my request -not to do any profile shots, and if I said anything really dumb, he would edit it out.)
But best of all, he didn't laugh at my dog when she came out to greet him wearing her clown collar- actually it's called an e-collar, one of those cone like rigs that keeps her from ripping out her post-op stitches. But really- it makes her look down-right comical. I mean, even I can't help but chuckle when I look at her! Well, Scott thought she was just the sweetest thing (she is) and ended up capturing Piper in all her cuteness on video, too.
The piece is tentatively scheduled to air Monday or Tuesday of next week- but stay tuned to this blog for an update on exactly when it will air. I will also post a link to it as soon as it is available!
And thanks again to WLBZ Channel 2 for giving me this wonderful opportunity to promote my business!
Check out and buy your own recycled tote bag (and lots of other cool stuff) here ...

Monday, May 4, 2009

but wait! there's more!

I had one of those odd little experiences the other day while out and about in the big city of Brewer, Maine. While the rest of my party was making a bee-line for one of those 'let's-see-how-many-imported-from-who-knows-where-useless-cheap-plastic-$1 objects-we-can-fit-into-one-store' stores, I felt an overwhelming urge to head next door and pay a visit to the Winterport Boot Shop- a locally owned and operated, hands-on (they actually measure your feet!) boot shop. Not that I actually needed or could afford new boots- but a girl can dream!
Anyway... I got to talking to Donna (who owns the shop with her husband, Mike) about my (apparently futile) search for American-made footwear. Her ears seemed to perk up when I mentioned that I flat out refuse to spend any more of my $$ on imported STUFF! Conversation quickly turned from boots to weightier issues like recycling and mass consumption- This is when she asked if I had seen this great little on-line film called 'The Story of Stuff'. I had not! But this kind and like-minded woman sent me off with a sticky-note emblazoned with the web address and an emphatic "You must watch this film!". And I did. Over and over.
This 20 minute diddy about 'stuff'- "From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view" is described by its creators as a "fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever." It did and it has. Thanks, Donna!
I wasn't sure what I was looking for when I walked into that boot shop, but I left with the answer.

Monday, April 20, 2009

paper or plastic?

Earth Day is is right around the corner and I know there are millions of earth-lings out there just sitting around wondering "What can I do to help save this planet?". While I'm not certain that what I am about  to suggest will single-handedly halt the destruction of our home turf, I think it is a small step in the right direction. Alright, here it is... (I know you're gonna love it)... B.Y.O.B. Yes, that's right. Where ever you go, just B.Y.O.B.! To the thrift shop. To the library. To the grocery store. It'll be fun! It will make you feel sooo GOOD! And everyone will think you are just SO cool, and they'll want to B.Y.O.B. too!
What is that you say? How can public drunkenness help save the Earth? My, my, Silly Rabbit. Is that what you thought I was suggesting? Well, put down the bottle of Cuervo and listen up:
What I am proposing is that you Bring Your Own Bag!
Where ever you go where you might be offered a shiny new bag to carry home your latest finds, respond (righteously), "No thank you, I brought my own!" And it doesn't have to be some fancy-shmancy, logo-laden, hemp one either (which was probably imported from China anyway).

Here are some suggestions:
  • used onion bags (the mesh ones) are wicked strong and you can easily add handles to them- just weave or tie some fabric, rope, whatever, through the mesh.
  • pillow cases- if you are the least bit crafty you can turn one into a neat tote by cutting off the upper 1/3 (open end), cut in two, fold length-wise to form two handles and sew onto the remaining 2/3 of case. Embellish with paint, stamping, pockets.
  • recycled grain/flour bags- Especially a nice sturdy paper bag. Like this one. 100% handmade by me in my tiny one-woman-studio in the Maine woods.
  • or if you're pressed for time and sewing skills, just grab a handful of the THOUSANDS that your mother has accumulated over the past, oh, I don't know... two weeks! (Mum, are you listening???) Stash them in your car and you can B.Y.O.B where ever you go!
Yeah, but will this small act really help? You bet! Reusing a bag meant for just one use has a BIG impact:
  • a reused paper or plastic bag needs only be used 11 times to have a (drastically) lower impact than 11 new bags (kinda obvious, huh?)
  • when 1 ton of paper or plastic bags are reused, more than 27 cubic feet of landfill space is saved (less obvious)
  • in Downeast Maine alone, one less grocery bag per person would reduce waste by.. well, a WHOLE BUNCH! (friggin' awesome...)
And finally, in answer to the age old query "Paper or Plastic?" Consider this...
Paper is easier to recycle, accepted at most recycling centers and just better looking than plastic!
But really, the fact is: The difference between paper and plastic recycling is tiny compared with reusing those same bags.

So Happy Earth Day! And please reuse responsibly.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

re-play

Armed with a well rounded list of 'music must haves', I recently set out on a music seeking mission to one of my favorite used record and CD shops, Bull Moose Records in Bangor, Maine. As I had a limited amount of time to spend perusing their extensive offerings, I had to keep my focus and referred to my (alphabetical) list often: Toni Childs- check! Bill Chinnock- check! The Decemberists- check! Grace Jones. Grace Jones? Yup. Whilst on my way to the checkout, I got snagged in the J's... and what a find! I remember listening to Grace Jones' ten-track compilation Island Life (on cassette!) at full volume, over and over until the tape finally, and unfortunately (or fortunately for you if you happened to live in the apartment next to mine) wore out. That was in 1985, and I can tell you that Grace Jones sounds as good today as she did back then (better in fact, since I scored it on a pre-owned CD for only $2.97!) . From the innuendo and double entendre laden "Pull Up to the Bumper", to her bossa nova infused rendition of "La Vie En Rose", Jones' music is at once classic (and classy) disco, and remarkably edgy and fresh, urban-pop. And I hear that Ms. Jones released a new record, Hurricane, late last year. It will probably be a while 'til that one shows up in the 'pre-owned' pile. But in the mean time, and in honor of "Record Store Day" on April 18th, I'm planning my next music seeking mission- let's see... where did I leave off... Emmylou, Feist, Gomez...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter


Morning Has Broken

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the world

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dew fall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day


photo of the western mountains of Maine by Jim Salage

Friday, April 10, 2009

re-cycle

Spring. And this young lady's thoughts are turning to fancy bicycles. With all the funky, retro trimmings. Something like the Cruiser/Gypsy from ultra hip, Electra Bicycle Company. I first spied these works-of-art-on-wheels in the window of Bikesenjava in Rockland, Maine and was immediately smitten. What really sold me (besides their unbelievable good looks) is the fact that they are actually comfortable to ride- especially for those of us with lower back issues (you peddle in a more upright, ergonomically correct position), the seat is, well... more like a saddle, and the optional fat tires are great for negotiating around pot-holes!
But given that we are smack dab in the middle of mud season, perhaps I should be thinking more along the lines of a John Deere. I wonder if they come equipped with wicker baskets and handle bar streamers?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

metallic-a


Behold- the humble #10 tin can. Strong, stable, well proportioned. Everything you could ask for in a man- err, can.
And I find myself inexplicably drawn to them- kind of like a crow to a shiny piece of aluminum foil.
If fact, I have been finding new and unusual uses for them just so I can keep them hanging around without them just, hanging around. Such as... kitchen utensil holder, plant pot (obvious choices), dog dish stand (you know, to keep them at the dog-gonomically correct height), and my yet to be attempted newest crafty idea (although admittedly not novel)- pendant light fixture shades. That'll keep 'em hanging around a while!
In the mean time...
Artists who are upcycling tin cans and such in some really fabulous ways can be found on Etsy. One of my favorites is Christine Terrell of adaptive reUse. Check out her fresh as spring, Polka Round Charms bracelet. Another artist making fun and funky pieces is Vicki Wolf of wearwolfs. Her pins and brooches are just too cool- check out this one.

Monday, April 6, 2009

the responsibility of stuff

January 1st has always been my day to purge my overflowing file cabinet of all outdated and totally unnecessary paperwork, receipts, and clippings. However, it is now the second week in April and I am still at it! The file cabinet project was finished about the same time the leftover New Year's Eve champagne was, and resulted in a very large bag of paper and a really giggly trip to the recycling center. But I have since shifted my focus to, well, my entire home and studio! Not as overwhelming as it seems considering I live and work in a 1200 s.f. structure, and have never been much of a pack rat. What I do seem to be is more like a squirrel.
Boxes, within boxes of neatly wrapped and packed, no squirreled away... stuff! Little stuff, mind you. Not big stuff- which might have made it a little easier to deal with. Someone might have wanted a working toaster, lamp, foot massage machine. But does anyone really want to take on the responsibility of my sea glass collection? Mismatched and chipped tea cups? Mardi Gras beads? The word responsibility might seem a little weighty to use in this situation- but that's what it is. Big or small, if you choose to bring something (new juice glasses, wide-screen TV, a collection of vintage match books...) into your home, you are taking on the task of storing, caring, cleaning, and ultimately disposing of all this stuff. Responsibly.
Which is why I now have a nice big box of 'collectibles" destined for the local thrift shop, a finely curated assortment of trinkets for future crafty projects, and a big jar of colored glass which will go with me on my next trip to the ocean.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

sum of its parts


Where does your mind go when someone starts spewing statistics? If it's anything like mine, it goes numb. Although, not so when viewing photographic artist, Chris Jordan's vast, emblematic images.
In his 2005 series, Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption, the impact of our collective consumption (seas of discarded cell phones, crushed automobiles) is breathtakingly documented, and shockingly comprehensible.
Jordan's newest collection of mind expanding images- Running the Numbers - seeks to make real, and humanize, the seemingly faceless sums and totals that we'd otherwise never see.
Prepare to have your perception altered.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

do wacka do

You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd,
You can’t take a shower in a parakeet cage,
You can’t drive around with a tiger in your car,
You can’t go fishing in a watermelon patch,
but you can be happy if you’ve got a mind to.
All you have to do is put your mind to it,
knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it!