Thursday, December 10, 2009

Home Stead

This is the place I live now, hard wood floors, space, gorgeous view and Western light. Unfortunately, I am on the hunt for a new apartment come Jan. 16th. Hopefully in Astoria or Manhattan. Hopefully and easy commute to and from work.

Monday, June 8, 2009


This mornings eye-catching store belongs to Reparapy.

I could spend the whole day browsing and day-dreaming about this shops gorgeous fashion photos and luscious scarves, eye masks, and indulgence kits, (not to mention their ingeniously modeled products) but work calls.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Interview With Soul Reader

What follows is a simple interview with Soul Reader Kathy Crabbe, the owner of, founded in 1993. I encourage anyone as curious about this woman's talent as I was to also explore her website and blog, and, respectively.

1. For the absolute novice, what is soul reading?

A soul reading is similar to a psychic reading, but more in-depth. It does involve prophecy, but it also involves healing, inspiration and practical exercises that will encourage clients to work on their issues long after the reading is over. The true purpose of a soul reading is to jump start the process of soul transformation, and encourage the client to accept accountability for their life.

I begin each soul reading by taking a look, with the use of my third eye or inner vision, at my client’s overall energy state, their soul spirit essence, their Divine nature; it is the part of you that never dies.

Note: All my readings are distance readings. According to scientific and spiritual studies, time and space are illusions. For example, we can't actually see radio waves, but they work don't they? We can work together from anywhere because all readings are done via email.

I may also work with some or all of these techniques during a psychic-soul reading:

Auras: a reading of the energy field around the body through clairvoyance (clear seeing), clairaudience (clear hearing), clairalience (clear smelling), or clairsentience (clear feeling/touching).

Prophecy: foretelling the future through inspired inner visions.

Soul Purpose: A look at one’s soul mission and potential as expressed through one’s personality in this lifetime.

Therapeutic: An exploration of the physical, etheric, and astral planes to detect disease, blockages of life force energy, and unresolved emotional issues. Visualization, affirmation, and gemstone healing exercises are suggested.

Channeling: Channeled guidance may be received from spirit guides, animal totems, or ancestors (departed loved ones) on the astral planes.

Ancient Knowledge: Mythical tales of gods and goddesses, archetypal zodiac wisdom, healing herb suggestions, and Druidic Celtic advice will often accompany a reading. My art history degree does come in handy sometimes!

Oracle Cards:
My artwork is intended as a sacred touchstone to enh

ance the verbal message of each reading and to help my client resonate

with their reading in a visual way. I work with 4 oracle decks of my own creation: the fairy herbal healing cards, lefty oracles, zodiac goddesses, and Celtic tree wisdom cards.

2. What are your thoughts on Palmistry?

I do not work with palmistry, but I do find it interesting.

3. How does the sensation of a reading with someone present differ from the reading done afar?

For me personally, I find that reading someone's energy over distance gives much better results. It allows me to put my full attention upon the client's soul spirit essence, and not be distracted by how they might be feeling at that moment. I will still be able to sense if they are nervous,

unfocused, or even skeptical, but because they are far away it will not be as distracting as if they were sitting right in front of me.

4. About the cat related artwork in your shop, is there any special meaning attached to the cat? In past life work, how often do you find people who spent time as cats?

Cats have been a part of my life since I was a child. To me a home is not really a home until a cat is part of the family. I often end up painting my pets, because they are my best friends and best models.

I have not yet encountered anyone who has lived as a cat in a past life, but I have encountered people’s pets during a mediumship reading!

5. The mermaids in Magical Friends, and elsewhere in your shop exude such a friendly femininity. what is your favorite myth of the mermaid or sirena?

My favorite mermaid myth is the one about Silkies (or Selkies) and I have named one of my Celtic mermaids “Silkie.” I also loved the Irish movie, “The Secret of Roan Inish” because it involves a Silkie.

6. Also as if for the utter novice, please define, or begin to explain Karma...

Karma can be explained quite simply; what comes around goes around.

7. In your profile is an impressive list of past mentors, please tell a story of your learning experiences...

I have had many wonderful teachers and guides over the years but my primary psychic-mediumship training is from the English psychic and trance channel, Adam Higgs. I participated in a six month long weekly spiritual development circle, also known as an English Traditional Teaching Circle and it was a fantastic experience that allowed a small and devoted group of us to practice psychometry, psychic reading, energy healing and mediumship on a weekly basis. Adam, our facilitator likened it to Psychic Boot Camp.

My life transformed at this time, partly due to the influence of a major astrological occurrence called Uranus Opposition that occurs around age forty for all of us. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to open ourselves spiritually and emotionally, as we discover what is truly important for our soul on a deeper level as we explore this second phase of life. For me, this meant devoting myself to working with the Divine Spirit on a professional level as a psychic-medium, artist, astrologer and spiritual guide, to help people transform their own lives in a creative and intuitive way.

Jolt's Note: Belief is not the question here, what went above was instead, I hoped, is as intriguing as it is entertaining.

Monday, June 1, 2009

And Other Suprises

While I am happy to eagerly await the smaller version of this item, ordered by a dear friend, I am even more excited to announce my intentions of doing a full review. The seller had no idea I'd do this, and judging from her track record, this may be just another look what is cool on etsy. As most of you know, I already celebrate this subject matter in my own shop;

Friday, May 29, 2009


1. Please introduce yourself, and you alter ego...o.k....especially your alter ego...

Hi! My name is Natalie and 'Natamon'(my alter ego). Natamon (which would mean 'Natalie Monster' in Japanese) is the creative, whimsical side of me, with a very large dash of the theatrical and bizarre. She has a voracious appetite for all things creative, cute, and even random. My regular self would be content to see and pet a cute dog. However, my Natamon side would like to dress it up, and place it in a themed photo shoot cooking breakfast. Natamon also has cute demands that must get met, otherwise, she gets very sad!

2. The relationship between animals, (insects as well) and humans in your shop is much explored...How do you relate to animals in your own life?

I relate to animals very closely, with dogs and cats having a particularly special place in the top two. Mind you, I adore just about any animal, including ones that most people would not find cute in nature, like warthogs. There is a peace I feel inside, when I watch animals simply 'be themselves'. I respect and enjoy the harmony of them being part of creation, and can truly see how they benefit us all. I think they help to calm the heart and make is smile.

3. I adore lemurs. This is no secret. Can you tell more about Soup for Two...?

The artwork called,'Soup for Two', is really part of my fascination with animals doing things with people, in a very human, personified way. I had not yet captured an art piece with a lemur in it, and thought the animal would make a very find guest to have soup with, in my mind's eye.

Commercials where animals are doing human things, snag my attention as if I am 3-years-old, I find them so adorable.

I also wanted to create a snapshot-in-the-life-of the characters in this piece, a bit like you were sitting alongside them eating. The mood of the artwork is docile and quaint, where the animal and girl are simply enjoying the flavor of the meal, and their company. I guess you could say it creates a storybook page quality too.

4. Names, where did the name of your parallel store, (dream trappings), come from?

I found myself on the brink of falling head over heels for jewelry designing, and knew I wanted to have my own shop to share these creations. So, deciding upon a name, I began researching less likely sources online for inspiration, such as a website which had old Victorian slang. This led me to further jog my mind about and settle on 'trappings', to describe the pretty jewelry that so many love to wear. It was a word I rarely hear. This was combined with the word,'dream', because I just felt it fit.

5. What animal do you most identify with, and why?

Most people would compare me to a cat I think, but I identify with dogs more than any animal.(My husband says I am much like a woodland creature, such as a rabbit or squirrel) Dogs, if well trained, are easy going, and loyal-which are qualities I can identify with. There is something about their attentive stares and love for what is basic in life. Love, food, rest and play. I appreciate those things very much too.

6. Are you a morning, evening, or afternoon

Certainly most of my life, I have been a night person. It has been a task trying to fight it, because
the day yields to so much needing to be done at that time!

7. Imagine and describe the perfect morning,
afternoon, or evening...

The perfect afternoon would be a fabulous temperature,(not too hot or too cold) shopping for lots of beads and art supplies, making projects with them, with a giant meal at my favorite restaurant for the early dinner finish.

8. Who and what inspires you?

First and foremost? God. I cannot have true inspiration without giving Him my thoughts and day to direct. He centers me, gets me off an running helps my work unfold. In the earthly sense, I think simply looking at ordinary photos of people and animals.

Many times, when I look at a photograph, I see what could be added or changed to create artwork incorporating it. Every once in a while, the actual art of others will inspire me.
Colors also, are a huge inspiration. I will look at everything from patterns in clothing, scrapbook papers-stained glass windows and find myself trying to memorize the colors I see side by side. I will then usually take those colors, write them down and think,'Ok, what can I make with these?!' That process is very enthusing, because it's a wonderfully fun challenge. I just adore color combinations and how they work together.

9. If you could choose another life, would you?

Many, many moons ago, I may have chosen another life. But seeing how both the good and bad in my life has shaped who I am thus far, it is hard to trade. I am not as close up to it all, now that the past is memory, which allows me to gain the grace of perspective. I may not understand everything, but much of it connects together, linking me with the now.

If I was someone else, no doubt the novelty would wear off after a short time, and I would miss the old me. I like to think my close friends and family would feel the same too.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

You've seen it before

but it was not for sale at the time

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Beard Hat and Other Wonders

The Incredible Bead Hat!
from someone else's shop, as usual....

The idea was born in the midst of cube-jungle in the least creative of all places - the Accounting Department! My company had been going through a tough time and we were looking for something to laugh at. My coworker found a similar product online by a Scandinavian company that was trying to sell a bearded hat for over $150! He knew that I was a crocheter, so he suggested I try making them myself. I had made several hats and I found some patterns online for a similar product, so I combined different ideas to come up with the Amazing Beard Hat! I love hearing why people are buying it - one person thought it would be a great gag gift for her husband that couldn't grow a beard, another person gave it to her boyfriend to wear when he shovels the snow from her driveway, and another guy bought it to wear while sitting around drinking beer outside on a cold night!

When I'm not working or crocheting, I love to travel! I've been to 15 countries and I hope to add a couple more this year. I love crocheting while I travel (on airplane, trains, etc) because it's a great conversation starter and it makes the time go quickly. I love multi-tasking, and it's a great way to be productive, while also getting yourself from point A to point B.

Since I work at Circuit City (and most people know the end of that story) I'm going to have some free time in the near future. I'm hoping to generate enough sales to at least by a plane ticket to Europe to bum around and visit some friends. We'll see if that happens!

Spending a weekend without computer contact would be difficult! (I'd probably cheat and access mobile web on my phone!) I love to get away to the beach and just spend hours hanging out with friends staring out into the ocean while chatting, reading, going for walks.

Spending time on the water is another passion of mine. I've been waterskiing since I was young and I'm fortunate to spend almost every weekend of the summer hanging out on the James River. We've taught countless people to waterski or wakeboard.We've had plenty of crazy adventures on the water - one time we were having a picnic out on the boat and it started pouring - but we just continued the picnic anyways! Every few minutes we'd have to pour the water off the plates. Another time we were convinced we saw a big brown bear on the river banks... turns out it was just a cow. ;) I never laughed so hard as when my someone slipped while going down the ladder into the water and ended up getting caught on a hook and dangling from the side of the boat by her bathing suit!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sprout Mama and the Apacolypse

Weekly Feature

Well, we may not have decided where we would be spending a zombie apocalypse, my friends are still torn between the high reaches of a mountain fortress, and a private yacht safely on the ocean, (well, if zombies don't float)...but assuming the economy tak
es a further dive, and infrastructure as we know it collapses...or everything melts and Kevin Costner shows up on a watercraft, or we find ourselves wandering the empty streets of London calling, hello, would be the time to gear up with sprout mama.... Sprout mama divides her store by local, ocean, forest, and desert, and her clothing, though apocalyptic in style, lends itself to an earthy sort of punk, environmental statement, or summer in, the interview....

1. Favorite apocalyptic film...

haha! i'm having a giveaway right now in which the person who guesses my favorite apocalyptic movie wins a prize, so lets just say it has a dog in it ;)

2. Now, beyond that film, if you had the budget, crew, and cast to spin out your own post-apocalyptic yarn, what would it be about? How would it look? Who would be in it?

oh man i've dreamed of this movie. it would start with a mother nature takes revenge type apocalypse...flooding, storms, locusts the works. after it all ends and settles and everyone who has survived is coming out of hiding and trying to start over a band of women finds each other and starts a journey across the country trying to get to where they think is salvation. they have to walk there and as they go on their journey they come to learn a lot about themselves and who their beliefs have all changed. before they make ti to their "salvation" they decide they don't want it anymore, so they stop along the way at some incredible place they find and make their own salvation. . . i want to make a comic about this....

"Things i am inspired by: comic books, post apocalypse movies,
the sound of bricks through windows, fresh baked bread, leather,
amazons, forests, feral children, rust."
- sproutmama's Profile

3. Amazons? As in Amazon warriors? And if so, tell us your favorite Amazon story...

To me amazons is not just the women warriors of the amazon... i use the word to describe all the incredibly strong and powerful women that have influenced me. i am privileged enough to have so many incredible women in my life with so many stories to tell about Salli Marcella Grace. she was an amazing woman who traveled alone, carried a shank, hopped trains and belly danced. she was the most genuine person i know. a true warrior. during her last days she brought food and water to those on the border and taught belly dancing classes in Mexico and danced in benefits to help those in need. she was always such a positive person. at her memorial someone told a story of how one day Sali and a few of her friends cooked a dinner in Tuscan, Arizona. there wasn't much food and so every one got tiny portions. during dinner Sali burst out crying. she said;

" i cant sit here and eat thi
s meal when people are out there suffering. in Mexico no one would eat a small meal like this, everyone shares with one another. they are so poor there and yet they give and give, here we only take".

After that Sali went back to Mexico and was going to perform her belly dance at a benefit show. she never made it there. her body was found a few weeks later in a cabin. we all miss her very much. but the thing about amazons, is that their strength inspires everyone around them. they never truly die.

4. Let's talk about the recurrent waves theme within your work....

the ocean is very special to me. the waves give me hope. not matter what ails you, the waves can wash it away. i had a daughter before my baby hunter was born. i watched the movie whale ride every single day that i was pregnant with her. when she was born i knew i would name her Paikea...the whale rider. i had a home birth with her and there were a lot of complications. she lived for nine days before we decided to take her off life support. the doctors told us there was no hope of her recovering. now whenever i think of her i see oceans. i know for certain they she has returned to the sea. a lot of mu designs lately have been a reflection of my memories of Paikea and of Sali.

5. About possibilities, tell the story of one of your favorite found pieces and subsequent creations...

Well, all of my materials are found pieces but there is one in particular. i was visiting my friend laddie at her cabin in the woods and as soon i stepped on her property i found this incredible stone. it was a smooth round rock and as i turned it over i noticed it had a perfect hole through it.

i saved it and saved it until i finally made a piece i felt fit. it sold right away to my lovely friend who had just found out she was pregnant, i wouldn't let her pay for it though lol. I'm glad she has it because the stone reminded me of birthing stones indigenous women used during childbirth. really all my pieces have stories. . .

Thanks again to Spourt Mama for this deeply personal, and fascinating interview. Readers, please link over to Sprout Mama's store if you haven't already, at

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Tune-in in 9 days for an interview with Natamon, artist and jewelry artisan.


Now is also a good time to have a look at Artsy Crafty, featured in my left side column.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Gothic Punk Ebook Wedding.

The big day they say every girl dreams about, that last instant when the bride gazes into the mirror, is the black gown flowing as it should be? Are the ghouls in place?

The Wedding Skulls team specializes in a separate kind of wedding, customers with their own set of wants, needs, and atheistic that would stump the typical planner.

1. Has it been difficult to market e-products?

Not really. Because my products fall into such a niche (alternative weddings), and I KNOW where that niche hangs out on the internet, its simply a matter of making sure they know about my ebooks.

The great thing about ebooks is they don't require any supply costs, apart from an internet connection. They don't require shipping, or printing costs. They're VERY good for the environment, which I feel is important. They take awhile to write but once you've written one, you can resell it again and again. I really do believe that ebooks are a way of the future, although I won't be giving up on the printed word any time soon.

2. What advice would you have for vendors just beginning to market electronic and internet ware?

Research before you begin. Decide on a target market. Research similiar products availiable for that target market. What gaps are there? What information is your target market not recieving? Come up with a list of five or so ebook ideas. Then choose one to begin writing.

Write a business plan, and stick to it. It really helps focus your efforts.

Write a plan before you start your ebook. I find I write twice as fast when I've written a detailed plan.

If you're not a writer but you still want to market ebooks, hire a copywriter to turn your ideas into a sell-able book. Poorly-written ebooks WILL NOT SELL. Ditto with websites riddled with spelling and grammar errors, or poorly written marketing copy. If you can't do it, hire someone (like me :)) who can.

Pick ONE or TWO marketing projects and focus on doing them really well. I market on my blog and through discussion forums. I don't twitter, facebook, myspace, digg, or anything or that sort. If I did all that I wouldn't have time to write.

3. If you could have a steam punk style romantic getaway, how would it be, where would you go, how would you get there, and why?

Ooh, what an excellent question. I'd take a steam train journey - either across the Australian desert or along the orient express, stopped everywhere to look at museums and take pictures in the epic scenery.

4. I'd love to read about another dream Gothic or punk wedding...

My husband and I had our wedding at Spookers, a haunted insane asylum just north of Auckland, New Zealand. The nurses quarters of the old asylum have been turned into a haunted attraction. They regularly host functions but we were the first wedding.

We wanted the theme to be 'heavy metal' and everything we loved. We're both ex-archaeologists so we love swords and warriors and historical stuff, so we chose outfits that reflected that. Once my husband's mother declared he would NOT turn up in his ripped jeans and cannibal corpse shirt (our original plan), he designed his own outfit and chose his own sword (which we used to cut the cake). I sourced my dress from an online seller for a fraction of the cost of the same dress from a bridal shop. I didn't want flowers so I carried a lantern instead. Not one of our attendants matched.

What else? We exited our ceremony venue - a 150yr old circus tent - to Manowar's 'the gods made heavy metal'. We had our photos in the asylum grounds, making use of their awesome props like their old fashioned hearse. After the banquet all our guests got to go through the haunted attractions. Everyone picked on me! It was great fun. So many people said it was the best wedding they'd ever been to.

5. When can we begin to see more items in the other categories? (Of doom)

More products will be added over the next month, before we Officially launch, including more ebooks. The clothing / jewelery is made by my business partner Amy, and she's currently working with a photographer to capture her masterpieces. Trust me, these clothes are worth the wait... :)

When I get back from my Europe holiday in October I will be creating a line of alternative bath and beauty products, which will be a real treat.

6. Tell the story of one wedding fantasy, or real life nightmare,...

Well, we did have one horrible nightmare with our wedding rings. CDH (my husband - stands for Cantankerous Drummer Husband) designed our rings himself, based on an Anglo-Saxon design, a simple band with a rope border and a stone set inside the ring. Each was to be carved with 'twegan gastus in annes' - two souls as one'. His mother gave him some of HER grandmother's jewellery to melt down to make the rings.

So he takes the gold and his design to a jeweler and says 'can you make this?' The jeweler says 'no worries. I'll call you in two weeks when I've cut the molds.'

Six weeks goes by. CDH rings the jeweler several times, leaves messages, but gets no response. Finally, we go to the shop. It's disappeared, leaving no sign or forwarding address or phone number. hey have our gold.

We're ready to go to the police, but CDH's mother is determined to get her gold back on her own. She talks to all the nearby shop owners and tracks down several phone numbers. Eventually, finally she contacts the guy, who apologizes profusely, and turns up at their house with a nearly-completed ring. Boy did he get a blowing-up from my in-laws (love them!). But we got our beautiful rings (albeit three months late) so it all turned out o.k. in the end.

The gorgeous red dress featured in the top photos is called Nevermore. It is worth noting that this store also stocks books on writing, and fantastic bridal and gothic items.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dinosuar Run!

A delightfully youthful Interview with the very successful Annierexic...

1. When has your wicked sense of humor gotten you in big trouble?

Most definitely the time i decided to try my hand at social commentary at the ripe old age of fifteen. i wrote a very snarky myspace blog about how wearing leggings as pants is really really unflattering and gross. One girl from church thought i wrote it about another girl at church and it caused this big thing. Really i was just pointing out an unfortunate cultural phenomenon. Honestly.

2. Fast, a loved one, fiance, mother, or other very important or slightly scary person's birthday just leapt up on you, if you could give them one item from your shop as a gift, what would it be and why?

hmmmm.... probably one of the ANNIEsaurousREXic tees. cause everybody loves when eight year olds draw dinosaurs. even the people that say they dont. theyre lying.

3. Favorite color and a memory it evokes

Right now i'd have to say turquoisey blue, it reminds me of how i used to walk to the gas station around the corner every thursday to buy a blue ring-pop for seventy five cents.

4. Favorite scent, and taste....

Gratuitous violets soap from lush, the smell reminds me of the barbie bath products i had as a kid in the mid-nineties, it tastes terrible though, i much prefer the taste of blue ring-pops.

5. Favorite childhood memory...

im going to go with the time i was visiting my friends in oregon (i live in southern california, so i was very far from home), and after arriving at their house from the grocery store i started having this freakish allergic reaction to the soap i bought, and my eyes kept swelling and swelling until they were gone. it was really funny. especially the part where the nearest emergency room is half an hour away.

6. What animal best describes you and your personality?

a kitty! im completely useless except for aesthetic purposes. although that could also apply to exotic birds, but i hate those.

7. If you could go bungee jumping or parachuting any place in the world, would you? where?

i am SO terrified of jumping off/out of things that i probably couldn't. but maybe if somebody pushed me, i wouldn't mind parachuting into the ocean somewhere beautiful.

8. Favorite creation in your own shop right now and why...

the "all these people are probably dead" buttons. my bff marisa jane and i spent an afternoon buying books at thrift stores and then cutting out the black and white pictures from this AMAZING life magazine atlas of canada. theyre so interesting cause all of the people are different, and its really fun to imagine who they might have been.

Post script At the time of this interview, not everything in her shop was sold. I swear. Please join me in wishing she will make more buttons, and more...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Meet August

"I dig in the ground to plant my trees.

I dirty my dress and scrape my knees.

A seed in the ground is worth two in the hand.

I know what grows under the earth where I stand."

She is the young girl with dark hair running into the wind, her face always obscured, dirt always under her fingernails, elusive smile everywhere....enchanting

1. August seems to be a recurring character in your work, please tell us a little about her...
August is a very special character to me. I named her after my first daughter (Evangeline August). Originally, I was drawing her as an older child, maybe a teenager. But I guess I was not ready to think of her as being that grown up, and started drawing her to look much younger, which sort of lead to the creation of all her little friends as they look today.

2. I find myself relating to your characters quite well, more than a sense of "Oh That's cute" there is a sense of, "Hey, I did that too!" Tell us about the use of children as characters in your artwork...

There is something about drawing children that really gets to me, and I think some viewers too. I always feel as though I am looking for something that I lost but want to have back. In the process of painting them I feel sort of connected to that world where everything is new and fresh and amazing, and it's all a complete mystery. I think we all want to go back there from time to time. And I really do think we can.

3. Any theories on how viewers relate to art?
I think we are most connected to art that reminds us of ourselves in some way. We feel something for the character in a painting because we can imagine how the character feels, and it is as if we are right there inside the painting. Viewers might feel more connected to their own childhood when looking at a painting, in the same way I was connected to my own when I painted it.

4. I know your artist's philosophy changes often, but all the same, if you can express one, please do.....

I am what I am (stole that one from Popeye)

5. Are there other characters with lives of their own in your work? Can you tell us anything about Andrew?

The real Andrew is such a great kid. He is one of my students at the school for dyslexics where I teach art. He fixes the computers when us teachers do something dumb. Most of his art projects in class are elaborate blue prints for ski lifts that he wants to design when he grows up, or electricity grids. One Monday not too long ago I told him that he could pick the teams for kickball on Wednesday. The next day he brought in a long contract for me to sign about letting him pick the teams, and that I would make everyone participate unless they had a note from their doctor. I get such a kick out of Andrew.

6. If you could step into one of your paintings, which would it be and why?

I like the one called "Taking it on the Road."

It's the one with the boy in clown makeup and the crow. It makes me think about my great uncle Fozy, who was a hobo, among other things. He used to stay with my grandparents right up the road from me and we were with them all the time. He had a pet monkey that lived mostly in the bathroom, which my grandma hated. I always thought of it as his sidekick that would have crazy adventures with him while they road the rails. That is what I was thinking about when I painted the boy with his crow. Like maybe they had an act that they would take from town to town, or wherever the wind might take them.

7. Tell me about your earlier creative memories, how does your art now relate to, or improve upon your first work?

Art really saved me growing up. I was (and still am) very dyslexic. I remember during class reading time, holding a book up to my face and pretending to read it, but having absolutely no idea what the words said. I felt so inferior to everyone else. Kids started to notice that I could draw, and all of a sudden I had something that I could hold on to and be proud of. I would get lost in art as a kid, and I wouldn't think about what I was going to make or what colors I would use, or anything. I would just start creating. Painting these children feels that same way to me. It's like re-connecting to that young artist that I somehow forgot about.

8. Wait, I have to ask. Where does your signature come from? And what does it mean? Is it a secret?

My signature is sort of a hold over from my past obsession with making Celtic knots. It looks a little bit like a table or something, but it is actually my version of a Celtic letter A.

9. Why Leaves of Grass?

Okay, this might sound sort of strange, but I really feel a connection to Walt Whitman. My mother used to tell me that I was born a hundred years too late because of my reluctance to use technology. I sometimes feel like I belong in the past more than the present. Not sure how to explain that exactly. I use a computer now, but still don't have a cell phone, which my friends hate.

I guess I am trying to make sense of things in the same way that Walt was trying to do with the approach of the industrial revolution. He just wasn't quite ready for it. He wrote and edited Leaves of Grass over more than thirty years. It progressed as a work of art as he progressed as a person, and to me Walt is Leaves of Grass, and Leaves of Grass is Walt. I hope that some day I can melt into my own work in the same way that he did.

My favorite quote:

"I celebrate myself, and sing of myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom that belongs to me as good belongs to you."

He was thirty seven when he wrote that.

Post script

True to his word, this Etsy artist does resemble a very young Walt Whitman. For now, I'll leave that to the collective imagination...

And P.S. A big Happy Birthday today to my Dad! Glad I could be here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Reading Toxic

The Novel under construction discussed in much of this interview is dark, a little violent, and as twisted as it claims to forwarned...

...lest you, like me, become utterly addicted to the characters, story and prose. Not to mention the enticing style of display. The writer updates with new chapters, patchwork short stories, and art. I'll be honest, I like etsy, but I prefer a good read, and today's feature is about a writer, and etsy shop owner, Mathaowny

"It's a haven, a little dark spot in a little crazy world."

1. About the genesis of Toxic Paradise. In your artist's page, this world is referred to as long standing, something you have been working on your whole life...How much of Toxic Paradise came to you as a series of dreams? How much invents itself as you write down? How much, if any, planned ahead?

A lot of it started when I was really young; I had a lot of reoccurring dreams with a few of the characters in them that I now use-- Puppetmaster, Whistler, Puck and Sesyara in particular. So I started to put a story with them, and added some characters as I went. Some of them are inspired by people I've met, others I just made for small parts (such as Scathach) and their importance to Twisted World just grew more and more. A lot of strange dreams keep adding to the story, and occasionally inspire a new character.

When I'm writing I have to keep the characters acting as they would in their world, so that really helps as new pieces are invented-- their reactions keep the story going. I do have to make up a lot as I go, particularly battle scenes.

I have most of Toxic Paradise and part of the second book (unnamed) planned out as well, but not much beyond that. I know pieces of the third, but have yet to really link them together.

2. What is your favorite breakfast meal in the world, and why?

A nice juicy steak with A1 sauce, eggs and hash browns with salsa on the side from IHOP.

For some reason I thought the answer might be oatmeal;

"Whistler makes the best oatmeal on the planet. Filled with fruit, doused with thick cream and sweetened with honey, it makes a great breakfast for someone that's been up all night making an attempt at survival." -Toxic Paradise.

Wait, are you, or have you ever been one of those people who sits all night in I-Hop writing poetry, or discussing writings with friends? (and least you feel interrogated, I am one of those people whenever I get the chance)

Yes, actually. I used to sit in IHOP at like 3 in the morning and write and draw and chat with two of my closest friends about the most random things. It's nice and quiet in there, perfect place to throw ideas out there and see if they fly.

4. Please tell us more about Puck, I can't speak for other readers, but I am eagerly waiting his reappearance....

Puck is short for Pucckarie. All I'm going to say is that he is the son of a rather powerful TW warlord, and also the owner of a flock Yeah, that's it. "Birds".

5. Name at least three writers, musicians, or artists who have inspired you, and why...

Stephen King-- I've been reading his work since I was like 8 or 10, and love the horror aspect. He can reveal the dark side of a normal part of everyday life, which is a talent most writers don't have.

Nikola Tesla-- I'm counting him as an artist, since a lot of his creations, though scientific, have really inspired the artwork of TW. This is especially true of Loethial, who appears later in the first book. Also, Tesla had a lot of experiments dealing with sound and destruction, which I found out after the creation of Jester but found really interesting.

Austen T.-- a really good friend of mine that has this incredible talent for writing screenplays, in particular the horror ones. His work is absolutely amazing, and a constant inspiration.

Are you a fan of Lewis Carrol, and if so, what is your favorite qoute?

I am a fan of Lewis Carrol, though I haven't seen much of his work but Alice in Wonderland. A
good quote I can think of is:

"One of the secrets of life
is that all that is really worth the doing
is what we do for others."

6. Have you ever, or would you ever consider turning Toxic Paradise into a graphic novel or film?

I would absolutely love to, especially a film. As long as the director would stay true to the stories and characters, I think it would be stunning to be a visual entity like that. There are so many opportunities for a group of filmmakers to get really creative with something like a dreamworld.

If you've seen A Scanner Darkly I think it would be interesting to do it in that kind of way. As for a graphic novel, that's my plan for the end result.

For more, see Mathaowny's Etsy shop and also her website, the detailed and oft updated Whistler's Apartment.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Needle Felted

Bellow, writer and creater rutabega talks about her craft, her controversial and acclaimed book and her philosophy on parenthood.

1. How does one become a needle felter? Is there a system involving sage teachers and years of hard work? Is it something you taught yourself one rainy Tuesday?

One day I was reading a blog and saw a needle-felted tapestry. I had never seen anything like it and I was curious, so I emailed the artist. She was nice enough to explain the basics. From there I just bought some roving and needles and started poking. That artist, Julie Persons, has an etsy shop as well Her work is beautiful.

On the left, "Ada May's not as young as she used to be, but she's on friendly terms with her gray hair, having met every one with a smile."

2. I know it should be almost impossible to condense the work of your book into such a small space, but for my readers who are unfamiliar with "Unschooling" can you spell out a few points of basic philosophy and understanding?

The term unschooling was coined by John Holt in the 1970s. He was a teacher who, in observing his students, first began to believe in and advocate for school reform and later came to the conclusion that no amount of reform could solve what he saw as the problems inherent in compulsory schooling. Some of the basic ideas behind unschooling are that people are naturally driven to learn and that, with the support of their parents, kids can best learn to live in the world by living in the world.

What are the most important differences between "unschooling" and home schooling?

In general, homeschooling parents have some sort of agenda for what they think their children need to learn and unschooling parents don’t.

Dozens of definitions of this idea exist, what is your own?

In very simplistic terms, for our family, it’s living interesting and interested lives together.

In your experience, how do children learn so socialize frequently and happily in "Unschooling"...

My kids (who are 16 and 12) make friends in much the same way adults do. They do things they are interested in, meet other people who share their interests, are introduced to new people, meet people as they’re out and about, etc. They had (and have) support from myself, their dad, and lots of other people who love them as they learned to navigate social situations.

List three of the most important questions answered in your book....

Three points I hope people will take from my book are:

1) It’s ok to be nice to your kids.
2) Learning is natural and fun and not something you can or should or need to force.
3) Parents and children can live in partnership.

3. Please talk briefly about the experience of writing, and publishing....

I’ve always loved to write, so it was pretty natural for me to explore the philosophies and day-to-day realities of unschooling through writing. I started out writing just for myself, moved on to writing on message boards and email lists, and then had some articles published in various magazines. Eventually a friend suggested I write a book. It was a long process for me, in large part because I wanted to be sure my writing about unschooling didn’t interfere with my time with my kids, which would have been some weird irony.

4. I love the song too, but why don't you like pina coladas? And tell a joyful story of getting caught in the rain...(This question refers to the artsist's profile)

I can’t stand coconut. And you know how everyone who likes coconut says, “But this is different – it’s coconut but it doesn’t TASTE like coconut”? Always a big fat lie. Yes, even those Girl Scout cookies.

I think we can choose to find joy in any moment, rain or shine. One thing I like to do when it starts to rain is to tip my face up and feel it rather than shrink up into myself and try to hide from it. (In that I was inspired by a character in Another Roadside Attraction, by Tom Robbins.) I try to meet everything in life that way – to feel it, experience it, find some joy in it.

5. What is the item in your shop right now that you were most tempted to keep for yourself?

I have a hard time letting go of the jewelry with vintage components. I search hard for those pieces, and know I may never find anything quite like them again. I wonder who made them and who wore them. This one, for example----------------------->

"Fresh water pearls pair prettily with this intricate vintage sterling brooch.

Your head is heavy.
Why not show your neck some love?"

6. If you could relive any part of your childhood, what would it be and why?

I have so many happy childhood memories that I couldn’t possibly choose. I come from a big family with lots of love to go around. Listening to my dad’s stories, racing my mom for the mail, big family dinners, gardening, refinishing furniture, throwing a ball over the barn roof, falling asleep to the sound of the hockey game on TV, spending long days at the beach, painting, sleepovers, lying in the grass – I’d take any of it again, even the not so perfect moments. But I’m just as happy to see what comes next.

For more about this artist and writer see her blog at

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Experiment with Hidden Poetry

Above is an experiment in mini-web-site design, with a hidden and unfinished poem inside...

Free website -

Friday, May 1, 2009

My Photo in Art

As part of her parade of pets project, Starglowstudio has created this lovely depiction of a butterfly based off one of my photos. Click the image to the left to see the full work. Love it. Of course, by the time you see this, it may have already sold....

To participate in the parade of pets yourself email this seller images of the animals in your own life. She gives a special discount on sales to contributors, and it is well worth it to see your image as her art....

This butterfly photo was first seen and discussed in this post, way back when, thanks Kristy...