It's 2024, everyone. I'm displaying at Gallery 24, a local, non-profit artists collaborative. I've been a member for years, but haven't written about it much. I've got photos and paintings there, but I've really been into needle felting for the past year.
A couple things really got me hooked - it's relatively inexpensive to start, it's portable, it's something I can do while chatting with other people, and it's malleable.
You use roving wool, a felting needle, and something to lay your work on, typically a foam mat. That's really it, but of course you can get much more. I've got several sizes of needles, tools that use multiple needles, and different types of mats. I made some rice-filled canvas bags that work great to nestle a sculpture in as you work.
The needles are sharp and barbed and you will stab yourself. But you won't stab yourself nearly as much if you're work is laying on something that isn't your hand or leg.
The needles are barbed and as your passing it through the wool, the wool becomes entangled. That's how it works. But if you make a mistake, you can always felt over it with something new.
I've taught needle felting classes at G24. The participants are always pleasantly surprised at what they are able to accomplish. I'll include a poster from one of my old classes, so you can see a bit more of the process.
So, if you're looking for something new to try, consider needle felting! Just make sure you have plenty of band-aids first.
Wow, it's almost 2022. The truth is I haven't written anything since before COVID. At least not in earnest. Besides a couple of very rough drafts about a year ago, I haven't even made an attempt. But, I'm here, updating my website, and I'm still taking pictures. If you're feeling like me, uninspired and constantly exhausted, know that it can change. I've got some new ideas brewing in my brain, and I bet you'll get some too. I'm rooting for us.
Well, August is upon us, folks. Just yesterday my kids' school district announced its back to school plan. They're trying hybrid for elementary school, and distance learning for all others, reassessing at the grading period. They did a thorough, comprehensive job trying to take everyone into account, but of course, there are still a lot of unhappy parents. It's a crummy situation no matter how you slice it. Since one of my kids will be distance learning anyway, I'm opting to do the same for the elementary schooler. I'm grateful parents have that choice, and that it can be reassessed at the grading period as well. I have a background in teaching and work from home, so I can do this. Deep breath...
In more upbeat news, we did manage to visit my parents, camping out in the yard to keep social distancing. We lucked out with gorgeous weather, no swimmers' itch in the lake, a house without forced air (less air movement to spread Covid?), and a basement for the occasional rain delays complete with a working VCR and every Disney VHS my siblings and I had growing up. It was wonderful but exhausting, and we're going back next week. Deep breath...
I've got a positive social media story to share. I end up friending a lot of people who I wouldn't see often in real life, if at all. That's the beauty of it, right? But as of late, I find myself in a scroll stupor, feeling anger and despair at the viewpoints of some of my fellow Americans. So when I got a last minute, out of the blue message from someone I don't interact with much, I didn't know what to expect. Her values align with mine, and I wasn't worried, but I've been getting weird spam/copy and paste stuff a lot. Hooray, this was a fun message! I learned about her virtual girl scout troop, the first of its kind, with members from all over. Could I read my book to the group? Heck, yes! My dog even got some camera time, as he was the inspiration for the dog in the story. Yes, I was a bit rusty and felt somewhat awkward. But a took a deep breath...and it was fantastic.
Holy cow, my last post was from November. Let's see, since then, we've had winter holidays, COVID-19, distance learning, stay at home orders, and the Minneapolis Uprising. I probably forgot some stuff as well.
I was able to do one school event right before the winter break, before MN schools went to distance learning. A friend from college was the librarian at Central Public Schools, in Norwood Young America. In addition to reading for all the kids, I got to catch up with her as well.
Corona virus, you wretched thing, you. Like everyone, it took a while to get used to this new normal. We stay home, we wear masks, we wash hands incessantly.. Many fun things were wiped off the table, and while I did mourn for the spring and summer I thought I would have, I am mostly grateful. Grateful that my family is still all healthy, that my husband still has a job, that our public schools did one heck of a job getting distance learning together at the drop of a hat, that I was able to help my kids through distance learning, we learned a lot together.
I know people whose kids must struggle through this process alone, with adults at work. It was not a perfect system, and the situations at home are so vast that it makes equal education impossible. It will be interesting to see what September brings.
It is never too early to talk to your kids about race. I am white and so are my kids. We talk about the advantages they have because of how they look, that they are totally unearned. We talk about saying something when you see people treated unfairly. We talk about being an ally. George Floyd was an innocent black man killed by a white police officer. I talk to my kids about that, about how this isn't the first time, how we have to help it stop.
I have family in Minneapolis. In the last few nights they were ready to protect their neighborhood and home from people intending to do harm. Not people protesting police brutality, but people taking advantage of a chaotic situation to further their platform. People like white supremacists.
As a country, as a world, we've been through a lot. And I've been through considerably less because I have white skin. I still believe most people on this planet are good. I try to find the good and make some good every day, as do many people. I remember to hold my family dear and hold tight the thought of better days to come. And show up, do the work to make it happen.
I love you!
Last month I did a book reading and signing at my local Barnes and Noble. So many friends and family came, and I had a great time. I even read to a handful of genuine strangers! Coincidentally, that same date, I also read at a local early childhood literary event. I was nervous, but it was actually nice to have two events in one day - my worry was concentrated to one day only.
Look at the cool sign they made me. And yes, I got to keep it!
Hello! Fall is here and I've been busy! I read to almost every class at my local elementary school. I tailored my presentation by grade level, as I read to kids in kindergarten through 5th grade. An interactive read with my stuffed dog for the little ones, and acting out the story as I read for the older students. Fun and learning was had by all, so it was a success!
My husband and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary on Friday! How did we celebrate? Besides taking the dog to the vet and setting up school appointments, we looked for old buildings to photograph. And we found some wonderful old buildings full of character and stories. I could almost hear their stories on the wind. Enjoy!
I read WHO WILL? WILL YOU? at my local library a few weeks ago. I was nervous and practiced reading my book a lot at home. I worked on pacing, volume, character voices. This was my first event since the book was published and I'm glad I had a supportive place and a bunch of excited kids to kick off this leg of the journey! Here's a photo of the event at the Rochester Public Library. I'm really focusing on reading that book! Even though I look very serious, I was having a great time!
Here are the interviews I've done in relation to my book, WHO WILL? WILL YOU?
Picture Book Spotlight interviewed me here.
My lovely publisher interviewed me here.
Susanna Hill's blog here.
Kathy Temean's blog here.
GROG blog here.
My local paper here.
I interviewed the illustrator, Milanka Reardon here.
Hello all! It's been a crazy few months, filled with school closings for snow and cold, sick kids, and getting stranded on my way home during a blizzard! Thankfully I had a place to stay, as the roads to my city were closed.
Nothing gets you back on track like a deadline! Last month I entered a Valentine writing contest, this month it's Vivian Kirkfield's 50 Precious Words. You know every word counts in a picture book, especially when you only get 50! The link to the contest is viviankirkfield.com/ , and my entry is below. Enjoy!
Gray Feeling, Deep Down
Flitting By, Heart Light
Scarlet Warm, Thoughts Grin
Not So Gray, Deep Down
Just getting it in under the wire, but here's my entry for Susanna Hill's contest.
Darrell Cupid Takes a Bow
Cupidor was the farthest planet in the Love Galaxy. On Cupidor, cupids were born, raised, and sent to Earth to help humans connect.
Darrell Cupid was different. He pointed his arrows everywhere.
“You must only connect human to human,” said Professor Freya.
“It’s tradition,” said Grandma.
“No one can love long division!” said his friend.
Darrell knew otherwise.
The new girl in school, eager to find her way – Swish – an arrow to the art room paint closet.
The lonely old man alone in his apartment – Swoosh – an arrow to the animal shelter.
The quiet family in a bustling city – Swoop – an arrow to a peaceful birch grove.
Yes, humans can love humans. It is necessary. But love exists everywhere!
“Enough!” shouted Professor Freya and took Darrell’s arrows. “You’re done.”
The professor returned to studying humans. She missed the purple glittery Cupidor sunset, the love bugs spelling out SWEETHEART in Morse code, and the drizzle of chocolate hearts.
Darrell had one arrow left. He kept Professor Freya firmly in his mind and shot the arrow into the brilliant sky.
Later, Professor Freya found Darrell. She had starlight in her eyes and glitter in her hair. “I’m sorry, I missed the mark,” she said, and handed him his quiver of arrows.
This contest is from susannahill.com She's a great resource and provides tons of opportunities for up and coming writers!