Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy 8th Birthday to My Littlest Boy

what happened to this?

sweet Jack, maybe it's the quiet way you move through the day or the intelligence that belies your years...or is it the tender heart and thoughtful repose that leads my wistful mommy-heart to believe that you'll be tiny and loving and hand-holding forever?

whatever it is, i am grateful for it. i am grateful for the thousands of ways you show me each day to simultaneously question and embrace this wonderful world and for the unexpected and forceful *i love you*'s that you dole out like penny candy. in so many ways, big and small, you make me proud to be your mother, but you also help me to see the beauty in the world and the good in humanity and to be proud of my place in it.

on this day, especially, the day of your birth, i am so grateful...grateful that 8 years ago, God gave me you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

a warm companion

my girl Helen hasn't been feeling well, and yesterday, after a supreme bout of the mulligrubs, i wanted to make something special for her, but i was stumped.

i tweeted my heart-felt desire, and Gail of Guurrrl Designs had just the right idea. "How about a microwaveable plushie/doll heat pack?" she suggested.

funny how serendipity plays in our lives. a few weeks ago, i bought a wool sweater from the thrift shop and felted it screamed *Helen*, but i had no idea what to do with it. this little project was perfect! someone Helen could talk to, cuddle with, and who would keep her warm and ease her achy belly.

i decided the sleeves of the sweater were a fantastic size for this doll (it's gotta be small to fit in the microwave and to tuck under an arm). then, i searched my cupboard for the perfect size cup to use as a template for the head. serendipity again...Helen's baby cup was just the right size.

i used cotton jersey for the face, wool felt for the hair, and wool felt scraps for the facial features. a red-orange crayon was employed for the rosy cheeks. i sewed it up and stuffed the head and base with pure wool(wool won't heat in the microwave, but it retains heat nicely...i thought i could get more mileage from the rice if it was packed in wool rather than in some other substance), then used my fingers to create a cavern in the wool for rice. i packed more wool on top of the rice, and whipstitched the opening closed. voila...ready for gifting!

we tested it in the microwave...heats up perfectly in 1 minute in our oven.

Helen's not up to modeling for me at the moment, but her green-eyed monster of a little sister is...thank you, Clara, for standing in.

looks like i'll be making at least one more...

and, Gail, this is your brain child...let me know if you need one, too! (and this counts for the 365 Day Creation Challenge, right??)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

for the birds...

someone suggested that you wonderful people may want a glimpse into the ways i grab my inspiration. lemme tell you, it comes from all over the place, but usually, my children have a large part of it. today's example: Billie Bird

when we lived in Alabama, my youngest son Jackson had a major nail-biting problem. nails bitten down to the quick constantly. sometimes, if his little world was rocking, he'd bite them so much that it hurt him to hold a pencil or his fingers would bleed.

Jack had been begging for a new pet for a loooooong time, so i made him a deal: stop biting your nails for 6 weeks (with daily inspections by Mom) and you may choose a new pet...rat, bird, or guinea pig. i thought it would take him some time, but it took exactly 6 weeks. so, i helped him research his options and he chose a parakeet.

we brought home a green parakeet who quickly informed us he (she?) needed a playmate, so we brought home a second bird. Jack and Clara named the little guys, and since we couldn't tell gender without a DNA test(must be true, Jack looked it up), we named them Billie and Sammie...names that would be good(and "so they won't feel weird, Mom")whether they were boys or girls.

these little feathered friends brought so much joy and noise and mischief into our lives, but disaster struck right before Christmas...

Jack had been in a bus accident and developed a migraine that lasted for over 14 hours...i gave him his meds and put him to bed. the next morning, i took the cover off the cage so that the birds could sing Jack awake, and to my horror, i found Sammie lifeless on the floor of the cage. all his (her?) song was gone.

the next morning, Billie suffered the same fate. and Jack was heartbroken.

not too long after our tragedy, the kiddos and i were looking at the basic shape of my *Anya* pattern from the shop and brainstorming the other people and creatures that we could see in it...Billie and Sammie seemed to spring forth! so, i whipped up a few stuffed birds(we think they're parakeets...but really, they could be just about anything) and got the notion that you might like to make your own.

wait 'till you see what Clara saw in *Anya*...(i'm still a little grossed out!!)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

odd ramblings and a day-late photo

this past month has been a whirlwind. i started out the year with loads of resolutions about how i would run my shop, but so far, i've only actually accomplished one of them. my poor Etsy shop is badly neglected while i've been otherwise engaged.

lest you think i've been slacking, i thought i would tell you, i've sent loads of dresses and swingtops to Puerto Rico and hoards of dolls in all shapes, sizes, and kinds to Canada. several hats and dolls have found new homes stateside. currently, i have 4 Moppets in the works as custom orders, and 5 wooden dolly blanks begging to be painted for a sweet girl in California. i have sketched 11 doll patterns...9 of which i look forward to sharing with you. i have actually drafted 4 of those patterns and sent 1 of them to my *editor* for the final proof and copy. i'll be working on the copy for another later this week.

meanwhile, my daughter Helen has informed me that she's just about outgrown all of her dresses, and she needs something new to wear to her Valentine's party on Friday. i've committed to baking cupcakes for 2 classes...and completely forgotten until now, that i have yet to sit with my children and work on teacher gifts for the occasion. not to mention the hubbub surrounding the 100th day of school and the projects that go with that.


also, my brain has been spinning with the notion of craft vs. production. why do we (as crafters and artisans) do what we do? at what point does the idea of creating something beautiful for someone cross the line into a way to meet the *bottom line*? how much does commerce drive creativity?

looking to the future, i can clearly see that something currently in my life will have to fade away. i cannot maintain two small businesses, provide childcare for my neighbors, and mother my children the way i have been. deployment is looming on the horizon. with that will come larger household responsibilities (okay...make that ALL the household responsibilities) and a larger need to look out for the other women who will be sharing this deployment with me.

so, i'm working out the options in my head. not an easy task! i'm the kind of gal who will contort herself and give away the farm if someone is in need...

i can see that part of the solution will be to draw my personal line closer to the notion of craft...further from production. i imagine i'll be focusing more on making dolls for the sake of making them because i need to...less because i know they'll sell. if that makes sense. you'll probably see fewer dolls for a bit...but they'll be more lovely than ever.


the notion that i am establishing myself as a dollmaker is a heady one. a driving one. it is wonderful to see a note in my inbox that someone wants a doll i've made with my own hands of my own design.

see, there is no one else helping me run the little show called Imogen's Garden. it's just me. no staff. no one else to do the post office runs. no one else to send out email blasts on my behalf. and i find this gratifying. i find the honor bestowed upon me with each purchase made in my little shop humbling. and all of it is exhilarating! and exhausting.

so, eventually...i'll find a solution. maybe.

my youngest son reminded me that today is Tuesday...not Monday. so i'm a day late. but i thought you'd enjoy this photo of my monkey girl taken last May in Williamsburg, VA. such a carefree day, and this photo embodies it just about perfectly. i think we need more days like this one...