On Gradual Changes

If you happen to be one of the very small number of people who have looked at my blog before, you will see that I’m edging into a different look for the blog. Which explains the new header photo. When I signed on today (for the first time in months) the kindly folks at WordPress suggested that I might want to update my Theme. so I looked at a bunch of themes. WordPress even has this cool bit of tech where you can see how the content already on your blog would look in another theme. I tried out a number of themes and concluded that I’m just not ready for so much change at once. However, there was still the obvious fact that the photo on my heading was looking dated.

I solved that problem by uploading a newer photo — the first cautious step in the revamping of my blog. Not to mention, bringing the blog back to life with actual reasonably frequent entries. As I’m having to relearn what I knew about WordPress and more, I thought that a complete design overhaul would be just too much.

The subject of my photo, though, is not the least bit cautious. The picture is a panorama shot I took at the spectacular Bascilica de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. If you want to see more shots, take a visita virtual, or buy tickets to visit, check out the basica’s web site at http://www.sagradafamilia.cat. I just looked at it when I was checking to see that I’d spelled the name correctly. And I think it’s cool that the end of the domain name is “cat” as in Catalonia.

The basilica was designed by Antoni Gaudi whose unique, adventurous artistic and architectural vision can be seen all over Barcelona. When I was there last summer, I also visited a house he’d designed, and became extremely envious of the family who had lived there. I’ll try to post some of my pictures of the house soon, so you can become envious too.

Please Urge the Mayor to Increase Funding for the Arts in DC

There’s a petition up at Change.org that should be of concern to anyone who cares at all about the arts and/or the financial health of DC. The petition urges Mayor Gray to increase funding for the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities. Funding for the Commission has been cut 69.88% from FY 09 to FY 12.  That means that in three years the Commission has gone from getting $13,018,000 in local funds to on $3,920,000 in 2012.

In addition to depriving DC children and adults of opportunities to learn, participate in, and experience the arts, these cuts are bad for the DC government’s bottom line. Investing in the arts is good business for any city, and Washington is no exception.

Funding for the arts is 0.034% of the total DC budget for Fiscal Year 2012. Yet every year the arts pump more than $700 million into our city’s economy on top of almost $100 million in direct tax revenue. The amount of funding that goes to the budget of the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities generates the highest return on investment of any portion of the District’s Development budget.

Please take a look at this petition, sign it, and urge others to do so too. (Change.org makes it easy for you to share the petition on your Facebook page and with your contacts.) Thanks very much.

You’ll find the petition here:     http://tinyurl.com/7e7g7s3

Snow Falling On Bloggers

I just found out that WordPress has an option to let bloggers have snow falling on their blogs. Though only until January 4, which seems to me a bit early for winter to end. At any rate, I thought I’d try it, which is why you see those little white dots floating down the screen. Judging from their direction, I’d say the wind is Easterly.

Actually, I’m a bit disappointed with WordPress’ snow. When I was a child growing up in Vermont, I loved to go out in gentle snowstorms, look up, and imagine climbing from one snowflake to the next up to the clouds. Having stared at so many snowflakes, it was no surprise when I learned that every snowflake is different.

The discovery about snowflakes was made by Wilson”Snowflake” Bentley — another Vermonter, I’m proud to say. Check out the excellent web page on him put up by the Historical Society of Jericho, Vermont, Bentley’s home town. http://snowflakebentley.com/ Under Resources you’ll find a link to a site about the wonderful children’s book on Bentley, which won the 1999 Caldecott Award for yet another Vermonter, illustrator Mary Azarian.  http://www.jacquelinebriggsmartin.com/books/snowflak.html. (That page has much nicer snowflakes than the ones here.

The snow in the picture below is definitely the real thing. I know, because I’m the younger blond sister in the shot.

Hoping My Cranes Will Fly

This week, though, I’ve been focusing on the “brick and mortar” business world. Lately, I’ve been making tsuru, otherwise known as folded origami cranes designed to be garden ornaments. Here’s a picture of one in our garden, which has been sitting atop a bamboo pole, which a clematis vine has climbed up.

I took the picture on a rainy day, and those white spots are actually rain drops; the crane is solid red. Since she has been there long enough for the clematis vine to grow around her neck, I’m thinking it’s time to give this crane a name.

I folded the cranes from 36″ squares of aluminum screening and then painted them with outdoor paint. Folding large sheets of screening is a change from paper, and has its own special challenges, but also special possibilities.  Today I started showing my cranes to local garden stores to see if the stores will carry them.

I’ll have to see how it goes, though one crane is already on sale, along with other pieces of my work at Artspring, the wonderful craft shop and gallery in downtown Silver Spring associated with the Pyramid Atlantic Center.

The Business Of Being An Artist — 2010 Style

For a number of years, I’ve spend most of the summer teaching full time. This year, though, I’m concentrating on making art, writing and (hopefully) selling more of my work. I’m getting an education in the business side of being an artist, and all the new opportunities that the web has opened up for artists. Not to mention the opportunities for people who are interested in art to follow the progress of their favorite artists and craftspeople.

I do not think that in years past, arts and humanities councils would have been offering workshops for artists like one I attended recently. It was organized by the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County – a great outfit, by the way, worth checking out whatever your interest in the arts.  The workshop was on the business of being an artist. Among other things, we were advised that a portfolio includes your web page, and maybe a flash drive with pictures of your work.  So much for those fancy folders they sell in art supply stores.

I myself, feel like I’ve just put my toe in the water of the internet and am in awe of the work and business savvy of other artists and crafts people. But I’m making progress. I do have a shop on Zazzle, where people can buy (or even design their own) products using my photos. If you want postage stamps with a picture of a lovely violin on them, my shop is definitely the place to go. At least that seems to be the opinion of a number of violin postage stamp buyers.

And I’m working on setting up an Etsy shop where I can sell my unique origami papers, as well as unusual papers for scrapbookers and collage artists.

I Have A Dog Named Bisky

Yes, her name is Bisky — not Bingo.  Bisky is short for Biscotti, like the Italian cookie. I chose the name because she is very sweet and sort of the the color of the cookie.  When we adopted her in February last year, she was a timid little thing with her tail constantly tucked tightly between her hind legs. We got her from the Washington Animal Rescue League, a great organization.

All the League could tell us about Bisky was that she had come to them from Georgia at the end of October 2008 and that she must have lost her left front leg soon before that. I saw her on the League web site and took my husband to look at her in person. He was not so sure, but I knew she was the dog for me as soon as I met her. In the months since we brought Bisky home, the whole family has fallen in love with her and she has become a happy bouncy — and occasionally bossy — dog. And she runs around with her tail high up like a banner, when she isn’t wagging it.

As for having only three legs, that does not slow her down at all. I’d be delighted if I could run as fast as my dog, because it would me that I was in really great shape.

This isn’t the best picture we have of Bisk, but I’m sure it will convince you that I am correct when I say that I have the cutest three-legged dog in the Western Hemisphere — unless, of course, you have a three-legged dog of your own.

Bisky playing with a roll of calculator paper. She loves playing with junk mail too.

I’m Back!

When I first set up this blog, I had great plans to post items frequently. But you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice & men – and all the rest of us. Like those of mice & men, my plans did go astray — very far astray. Indeed, I think my plans went around the world & maybe into the galaxy for a while.

At any rate, they’ve come home now and I have a whole bunch of things to add to this blog. The things I’ll be adding are a pretty eclectic bunch. If you know me or have looked at the About Me page here, you know that I have a wide collection of interests & experiences.  So I suppose that my ending up with an eclectic blog was inevitable.

I’m planning to keep topics on separate pages so you can find what interests you easily via the tabs at the top of the main page. But I’m still getting the hang of using WordPress, so I may not get things exactly as I want them right away.

I’ll also do my best to show which posts will be more interesting to my younger readers, and which posts are more for adults. And kids, by “more for adults” I do not mean R rated; I just mean you may well get bored reading them.