Summer Daze

12 07 2017

Folks, I gotta admit it; I am running on fumes, this week.  Nothing in the tank.

With that full disclosure, being totally transparent, coming forward with the evidence (which you’d deduce for yourselves anyway), I offer you a little light mid-summer Top Ten List.

Top Ten Reasons I Respect Craft Show Exhibitors (and why I don’t do craft shows!)

10.  They accept the uncertainty of income stream that being self-employed embodies.

9.    They are dedicated to following their true nature; they were born to create beauty and they do what it takes to make it happen.

8.   They are eternally optimistic, never doubting that their hard work will pay dividends – and they are willing to do the hard work.

7.  They put their souls on display in fold-up store fronts that fit into the backs of Chrysler minivans.

Carol Heisler’s “Before” photo.

6.  They answer the same dumb questions from non-buying gawkers every day of every weekend of show season and never bite anyone.

5.  They can sleep on any horizontal-ish surface available to them when traveling for shows.

4.  They can go for two days, three hours, and forty-two minutes without a bathroom break, if a show’s good.

3.  They are the “postmen” of the art world, braving wind, rain, sweltering heat, toe-numbing cold, and managing to engage people about their craft.

2.  They produce some of the most magnificent works of fine art and fine craft anyone could imagine.

1.  They are some of my very best friends.

Tomorrow, I will visit a few of my fantastic friends who’ll fill the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts  and the People’s Choice Festival  and I am sure my soul will be as full as my wallet will be empty.  I give my arty friends all a Top Ten!


One more admission – I “borrowed” these photos from these wonderful women’s Facebook pages. Hoping that forgiveness will be granted, since I did not ask their permission.

Pam Cummings Pottery See her at Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. (Note the shopper wielding the umbrella.)

Carol Heisler’s “Not your grandmother’s” Quilts will be at Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. BTW, Carol’s managing all the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen shows this year. Check for them!

Kalpana Lehman’s Fine Soaps She’ll be at People’s Choice Festival.

Art by Clare Miller She’ll be at People’s Choice Festival.



Has the Jury Reached a Verdict?

18 02 2015

For my friends who participate in the work and full-contact sport of fine art and craft shows, this is the start of nail-biting and calendar-reconfiguring season: applications and acceptances for all the important 2015 shows are in play right now.

As hard as it is to make art, it is also hard work to get accepted to a show. The artist must complete forms, submit photos, pay application fees (most of which are non-refundable, without regard to whether or not they’re accepted into the show), and wait for the verdict, at the mercy of nameless and faceless show jurors, who may or may not have a particular bias for or against their medium or style.

The opportunity to sell work and earn income is, of course, a big part of needing to be accepted into these shows.  The need to be accepted is also tied – even though we know better – to our self-esteem. When our application is declined, our first thought is not the right one, which is, most often, that our work and the show are not a good match. We think nobody loves us. It’s a natural and irrepressible reaction to rejection. Some of us are better able to get our perspective back, but for others, especially newer artists, it can be crushing . . .

Which brings me to the inspiration for this post. This brilliant comment came from a Facebook art group participant in response to another member who was in the throes of “Why (not) me?” after receiving a rejection notice.

Just keep moving. Artistry is mastery of your medium; if they can’t handle that, then give them the best possible image of you walking away.

This advice is good for way more than craft show applications; I think it’s a pretty fine way to cope with pretty much everything.

You are the master of your life. Don’t explain yourself; just BE yourself. Folks who can’t appreciate you don’t deserve you. Really. Oh, and if you smile as you wave goodbye, it will make them crazy.


Cheshire cat grin, courtesy of my lovely niece Katy.

I certainly appreciate your acceptance of this post. Thank you.

Stage Fright

23 10 2013

I was on live TV, today – no, not an episode of “World’s Dumbest” or “Cops!”

I had the privilege of representing my friends and fellow members of the Yellow Breeches Chapter of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen  in a very short segment on our local ABC affiliate, Channel 27 .

I know a lot of folks might think it’d be fun to be on TV and many more who would be frozen in terror at the thought.I fall in neither camp.

I am too old to think it’d be a good idea to put my wrinkles in hi-def and wide screen. I am also too old to be afraid of much of anything. Because it was a new experience for me, though, I was curious about how I would respond to that countdown to live air-time. Well, I was so enthralled with the fine craft we’d brought to show; so proud of my friends, who imagined and created it; so thrilled to be able to share it with a wider audience; I really didn’t have a response to the cameras at all.

That’s what art can do for you.

It can take you out of your head, out of your stress, out of your own way.

That’s why art is important.

It reminds us that there is beauty to be enjoyed.

It makes us feel better about our world.

It encourages us.

I hope you are encouraged, emboldened, energized to celebrate the beautiful things that abound in our world. I hope you will seek them out and appreciate them.  I also hope you listen to your own muse – you do have one. Live your life on your own big stage. There’s no reason to be afraid.

. . . and we’re live in 3 – 2 – 1

I’m Curious

17 07 2013

It’s art festival time, so articles and blog posts about them are popping up all over the place. More than a few that have come under my eyeballs lately have been aimed at craft show attendees ( you know, the ones with the money to spend, there to appreciate – and  buy – your magnificent work), giving them advice on proper manners when talking with artists.

Well, aren’t we a fine bunch to tell the commoners how to address our highnesses!

About this time, Miss Muse was climbing up on her soapbox, en route to her high horse, writing paragraph after paragraph to dispute these pieces, point by point; but I managed to wrestle her back to earth. Here’s the condensed version of the diatribe.

My dear fellow artists, if someone asks you an honest question about your art or you, as an artist, give them an honest answer. If they are sincerely interested in learning, why would you, an artist, who understands so deeply in your soul the power and joy of creating, want to do anything but encourage? If they are trying to bust your chops, meeting that with professionalism and dignity will guarantee their disappointment. Either way, you have done a good thing. You win.

Curiosity is a gift.  Don’t take it for granted in yourself. Don’t disrespect it in others.

Curiosity is Miss Muse’s middle name.

A Touching Story

28 11 2012

“Don’t touch!”  hissed the mom of the two little boys who were reaching for one of my enamels at my last show of this year.  I’d heard her utter the same admonition all the way down my aisle. Adults freely touch works of fine craft; I believe children should be afforded a similar show experience. If they are dragged along with a parent, they should have some take-away, other than being told to keep their hands to themselves.

Smiling at the mom, I immediately took down one of my enamels, got down on one knee – eyeball height to my young visitors – and said, “Would you like to touch this?  It is made of metal coated with glass.”  The boys each very gently touched the piece. They then asked about one of my more elaborate works, which I explained was very fragile.  I removed the work from the booth wall and, as one reached out a single finger, he said, “This is valuable!”

As if that comment did not just knock my socks off, a few steps out of my booth, the older boy, who looked to be about five, turned to me and said, “I thought this was going to be boring, but it’s really COOL!”  I felt like I’d won a prize.  Actually, I did.  By taking a minute to talk with those children and to let them experience my work on a level they could understand, I was rewarded with genuine interest and happy smiles from two little boys.

Parents, please teach your children how to handle fragile, valuable objects – your home decorating options will increase the more your little ones understand about the beautiful objects around them. Seek out opportunities for them to interact with artisans and artists about handmade works.

Artists, please be sure to have some work (or tool or raw material within your easy reach to share (let them handle) with children who visit your booth at shows.  We want people to appreciate the fine quality and craftsmanship of our work – that means we need to let folks touch stuff.  Children will learn to love art and craft if they are engaged and respected by us. Reach out and (let them) touch.

Bread and Butter and Beauty

24 10 2012

This weekend is an important one for Miss Muse and her friends. It’s our guild’s fine craft fair, which means there will be loads of wonderful, handmade, artisan work for sale to a (hopefully large and) appreciative public.

As the president of said guild, I feel the pressure of a wedding planner, scout, college football coach, and foster mother! There are over fifty fine craftsmen counting on me (I know, not really – there’s a whole group of fine hard working committee members – but I waaannnnttt them to have the best time!) to make the show as great for them as they make it for patrons.

I love fine handmade craft and art.  I want everyone to have the wonderful experience of living with one-of-a-kind, useful and beautiful objects – not just filling their space with stuff  That’s why Miss Muse and I are inviting you to our wonderful fine craft show this weekend: Fall Into Fine Craft at the Carlisle Expo Center, October 27 and 28, 2012.  Visit and click the Events tab to find all the details – and a discount admission coupon.

And, now, because you’ve let me get that off my chest, here is an autumn-flavored thank you from my personal – yes, I create art AND recipes – kitchen collection.

Pumpkin-Spice Pull-Apart Loaves PKL           makes 2 loaves

½ c butter

2/3 c milk

1 ½ c pumpkin

½ c sugar

1 ¼ t salt

1/3 c water

2 pkg active dry yeast

1 egg

6 ½ – 7 c flour

¼ c melted butter to brush dough

Mixture of 2 c sugar, 2T cinnamon, 1t ginger, and ½ t cloves

Lightly brown butter in a saucepan, then add the milk and pumpkin and just bring to boil.  Remove from heat and stir in sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in water in bowl of stand mixer with dough hook attached. Stir in pumpkin mixture and egg. With dough hook running, gradually add flour to form soft dough.  Continue to knead 3-4 min until smooth.

Helpful Hint for handling soft and sticky dough – spray your hands with non-stick cooking spray first!

Place dough into a greased bowl, lightly spray the top of it with non-stick cooking spray, cover and let rise until doubled – 30-45 min.  Divide in half. Roll each half to a 12x 20sheet. Brush liberally with melted butter. Sprinkle on the spiced sugar. Cut into 6 strips. Stack, then cut into 6 portions. Stack portions, cut sides up, into well-greased and floured 9×5 loaf pans. Cover and let rise until light and doubled 30-45 min.  Bake at 355 for 30 –35 min until tops are deep brown.


¼ c carefully browned butter, mixed with ¼ c brown sugar and ¼ c milk and brought just to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 1 ½ c confectioner’s sugar and 2t vanilla. Cover warm loaves with the glaze.

Pretty is Enough

11 07 2012

It is arts festival season. For me, that means time on both sides of the booth – exhibiting as an artist at a select few shows and shopping as an avid collector and consumer at a select few.  Because I make art, when I am shopping for art, I hear some conversations a bit differently than many art show visitors.

I’d like to gnash my teeth and tear my hair in a dramatic rendition of all the insensitive, rude, stupid, mean things people say to artists at these shows . . . No, I would not like to do that.

I’d like to beat my chest and thump the podium in a speech calling out artists for all the insensitive, rude, stupid, mean things they say about visitors at these shows . . .  No I don’t want to do that either.

I’d like to encourage everyone to visit at least one event where people are offering the works they imagined, planned, and executed – works of art that are available to all of us only because that artisan dreamed it, made it, and has the courage to put it out into the world. YES!  That’s what I want to do.  I’d like to encourage artists, those of us who just have an undeniable need to create, to give in to that need and to give the muse the spotlight whenever you can.  Yes, that’s what I want to say.

I’d like most of all, on this glorious summer day, to remind us that, just as we don’t have to be astrophysicists to enjoy the beauty of the blue sky and warm sun, we do not have to be scholars to enjoy art.  I don’t understand how my computer works, but I happily use it to enhance my everyday life.  Same way, I don’t know how potter and lovely person Christy Knox made my favorite mug,  but I know my morning coffee is always more pleasant when drunk from it.

When you go to a fine arts festival (and you really must not miss the experience,) don’t fret over what “good” means. It’s okay – pretty is enough.  If it makes you smile, warms your heart, or calls you to your better self, or if you just think it’s pretty, buy yourself some made-by-the-person-right-in-front-of-you art.

Don’t be afraid. If you like it, just buy it.  Trust me. I’ve done it before. I liked it so much, I’m gonna do it again!

Find me and my hand fired one-of-a-kind copper enamel collages at these fine summer shows:

Pennsylvania Guild Fine Craft Fair (Booth 318)

Fine Crafts at the Winery (

More shows in the fall. Info will be available at

I’ll be spending money on fine handmade-in-the-USA one-of-a-kind works of art at these fine summer shows:

Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts

Mt Gretna Outdoor Art Show