Monday, February 18, 2008

Podcast Episode 3 Gourd Baskets & Contest

Today, I started taking pictures of a new gourd design: Flower Basket Gourd. I used egg shapes for one side and will be painting One-Stroke irises on the other side as well as painting the basket stakes and weavers. I'm showing pictures of the tools I'm using which are discussed on this episode. I also introduced a contest to win seeds from this gourd, which was purchased from the Welburn Gourd
Farm several years ago. Send in your entries to The jar pictured is 4" square. Please tune in to hear about the making of the gourd. I'll be posting more pictures in the next couple of weeks as I make progress on completing the gourd. Tune in at

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Oops! Wrong Podcast Address!

I'm so sorry, but I listed the wrong address for the podcast in Episode 2. The correct podcast address is: I feel so stupid. Please tune in if you read this and were trying to find it before. I will pay better attention next time. I am working on the next episode. I've had the flu this week and am behind schedule. Hopefully, I'll be better able to do this in the next few weeks. I'll make the correction on the entry below.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Digital Imaging Class

I took a three-hour digital imaging class this afternoon at one of the local high schools. My reason was two-fold: one to learn more about taking pictures and the second reason was that it would be a fun way to earn extra CEU credits (continuing education) for my license renewal. I did enjoy it despite being on the verge of a cold and feeling sleepy from the sinus meds. I'm posting the pictures I feel are noteworthy. Not bad, I think for my first try at using this camera, supplied in class. It was an Olympia and I didn't write down any more specifications. I do know the teacher mentioned it takes underwater photos and can be dropped onto concrete from five feet with no ill effects. I didn't get as much zoom as I wanted, but after all it was only for three hours. Anyway, here are mostly the inside of the computer lab, complete with rusted water fountain of some sort (not for drinking) and just outside the lab. Then, there's also yours truly being a goof and trying to take her own picture and missing three-fourths of her face. Weird!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Global Warming and Students

There is a trend in school systems for students to become less focused as the school year draws to a close. Usually by the last week or so of school, after end-of-grade tests are completed, the kids have written off school in more ways than one. They seem louder and more hyper, more apt to break with school codes and not worry about it and in general more restless.
We have had a warmer week this week in the South. Yesterday was around 80F. This isn't so unusual, since Mother Nature does often like to tease us sometime in January or February with a warm spell, then hit us with cold weather again just to show who's in charge.
I have a question about global warming, however. With an overall warmish winter this year, are the students internalizing the earth's changes? It seems that they are moving into that end -of-year behavior early. I wonder if schools would be better off going year-round with breaks spread out. I personally love my summers off and look forward to them each year. But, the students seem to need more frequent breaks to keep them on task. Yes, there are a lot of factors that come into play with keeping students on task or focused on a lesson. Lack of proper sleep or diet, too much video game time, etc. certainly factor in. And then there's the "ADHD" that more and more kids are diagnosed with these days. Some I think is due to the aforementioned, but as an EC teacher, I can say there are actual true cases of this as well.
Overall, though, since the weather does seem to affect students (any elementary teacher will tell you the differences in his/her students on sunny or cloudy days), I would like to know if anyone else has thoughts on the effect global warming has on the average person's, especially children's, psyche. What do you think?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Giving Back

As a crafter over the years, I have been fortunate not to depend financially on what I’ve created. I have done my share of craft shows and have sold items on eBay and in my etsy shop, so it’s not that I have given everything away. But I have reached a point in my life that I feel that I need to give back.

Throughout most of my fifty-two years, my mother and my art instructors (most of them) have shared everything they’ve learned about creating various crafts or artwork, Granted the college professors and high school art teachers were paid to do this, but I remember my high school art teacher who consistently showed up for the summer crafting sessions at our local park when it was just me or one other student for lessons. I learned more about technique from her than from all of the college art courses I took.

There is an unlimited amount of knowledge and instruction on the internet for crafters to utilize, both free and for a price. I don’t begrudge those who charge for their original designs. On the contrary, if I had more original ideas for design, I might try to set up a website such as Cindy Trombley’s precious painting website or one of the gourd design sites.

I have been inspired, however, by such websites as that of Isela Phelps ( or, who offers free video clips for loom knitters. When I began knitting, I used looms (and still do occasionally). Her videos, offered fro free, taught me invaluable tips for reading loom knitting patterns and more stitches than just the e-wrap. Knitting help ( also shows free videos for different stitches for traditional knitting and purling as well as sock knitting techniques. There is also which has helped me tremendously in figuring out the knitting of the socks mysteries.

Another intriguing website is which I’ve shared craft recipes lately. This was started by a bunch of MIT professors and associates to offer everything from crafts to food recipes to mechanical devices. It’s all free and fascinating to see the creativity that is being offered to anyone who has the time to browse.

I know this sounds extremely geeky, but the warm feelings that I get browsing through all of these websites reminds me of watching Star Trek, The Next Generation. In that idyllic world, no one “had” to work for a living, although most seemed to choose to find their passion whether it was for art or “seeking out new worlds.” Knowledge appeared to be for the taking if you were willing to put in the effort. It is inspiring that at least in the cyber world, those kinds of opportunities are becoming more available to those who put in the effort to find them.

Watching the Democratic debate last Thursday night between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, I was again inspired by their messages about what we can do for others. Not everyone is wealthy; I certainly am not. But I can offer help in my own way to those who can’t afford to purchase patterns or instruction or can’t pay the base fee plus materials asked in the major craft supply stores.

I never realized the interest in crafts in younger people to be as extensive as it is until I offered two craft clubs this year. I now have 70 members between my knitting and painting clubs in a school of less than 400 students. I get more positive feedback teaching these kids for free than I ever did teaching at a local craft store for pay.

If you are a crafter or artist, and can share with others what you know, you are doing the world a huge favor. Wars cannot be fought when one is busy creating, rather than destroying. People find common interests in art, not differences. I feel the recent trend can only have positive results in the long run. The time will come when someone to whom you have reached out will in turn reach out to others. Let’s create this web of giving and sharing to strengthen and empower our world.