Friday, September 14, 2018

Some Tools of My Trade, Making Funny Magnets

Retro Fridge Magnets
Tools of my trade. At Etsy's invitation I decided to enter their #ETSYorganized neatly Instagram campaign to show some of the components in my studio that turn my witty designs into magnets. To follow me on Instagram: @smirkinggoddess_studio

Wish me luck that ETSY will like my pic!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

My Witty Cat Christmas Ornaments Now in my Etsy Shop!

Handmade Christmas OrnamentsI like the idea of transforming something old into something new, so I upcycled some kitchen curtain material into three hand-drawn whimsical cat ornaments. My disgruntled hand-drawn kitty was conceptualize and created using permanent, archival pens, stuffed, sewn with a rick-rack hanger. The buyer can write their name and that of the giftee even if it's for themselves!
These witty oranaments available here:

Hope you will explore my shop this holiday season as I add more fun art decor for your home.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Gratitude for this Delightful but Meaningful Etsy Feedback

Sometimes just a picture will suffice to tell a story. I have a second ETSY shop: SuzanneUrbanArt that I've had little time to nuture until now. Why? I had a day-job and another very busy Esty Shop:
SmirkingGoddessStudio. Writing gag lines takes time, but it seems that creating my whimiscial characters into fun products takes product development and time invested to all new heights. I haven't had the time until now to work on fresh products for my SuzanneUrbanArt shop until now. So when a purchase comes in, and a glowing review for a long neglected shop now coming to life. I am very grateful.  I offer after purchase a coupon to my wonderful art collectors and buyers after sale.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Grand Opening Featuring My Magnets and Local Makers at And That! In Orange CT

My funny Magnets will be offered at a special introductory price at AND THAT! Grand Opening! Located at the Christmas Tree Shoppe in Orange CT. I hope Nutmeggers and Friends can make it to the Opening as there will be Giveaways! Food trucks! Prizes! And more!  Address 220 Indian River Road, Orange CT

And That!  Orange CT

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Rain boot Planters, Charming but not as Easy to Make as Youtube Tutorials Show

I have a big, honkin' board on Pinterest titled: Cool + Exciting Garden Ideas. It mostly consists of creative and functional garden-art ideas as I consider my backyard an extension to my indoor art studio. When I pounce upon a pin that excites me–like the pinned picture at left, I follow up with a YouTube search for a tutorial on how to re-create the idea.

Upcycling is a passion of mine so the clever transformation of colorful rainboots into planters really excited me. I mean it looked so easy and cheap to make. But recreating isn't always as easy as a YouTube tutorial may appear, whether it's a humble amateur video or one filmed by a professional outfit, I've learned a) The tutorial presenter isn't interested in creating the object for longevity or 2) Steps are often skipped because someone else behind the scenes did the hard prepping part, so don't let the cute flicks of children crafting something you intend to make fool you.

How to Make a Rainboot Planter-What I Learned

1. First thing, you need a pair of discarded rainboots.  Last Fall I found a gorgeous pair at a church sale, then over the winter I found some reasonably priced ones on eBay and at Goodwill  a Tagsale and Craigslist. Our solarium where I piled the boots smelled like a pungent swim cap until Spring arrived and we could slide the windows open. But first PAY ATTENTION when purchasing rainboots, check for condition, it's okay if they look worn, but the Goodwill ones had a busted buckle on one boot that I overlooked. I cut the buckles of this pair off, but if you're looking to make and re-sell your rainboot planter, inspect the boots with laser- focused eyes.

2. Secondly, one needs to drill holes in the bottom of the boot for drainage. Sounds easy huh? Well guess what! Most rain boots have metal reinforcements in the soles. Yeah, not so easy to drill through. Most YouTube tutorials showed wee little drill holes on the sides and/or bottom of the boots. The small drill bit holes didn't funnel water well when I tested for drainage by pouring water in the boots, some retained a lot of the water for a very long time. So I had to re-drill with a larger bit, and that's when I hit metal. The drill will drill through the metal reinforcement, but this isn't child's play. I opted for one larger hole instead of several, like a flower pot.

3. BEFORE DRILLING remove the insteps inside boots. Also some rainboots are lined and the first small drill bit I used got twisted up in the lining to the point the boot started rotating like a propeller, dislodging the drill from boot wasn't easy, thus another reason to use a large drill bit and make just ONE big hole. Also be careful to not drill through to other side of boot.

4. Use a sturdy cushion like the plastic Styrofoam block to left to rest boot on when drilling, otherwise you might drill a hole right through the table. Like. I. Did.

5. Next step, hold boot up to sky to make sure you drilled through the whole sole. You can use a knife or scissors to enlarge hole if need be. Then grab a few handfuls of peastone and toss in, using hands is faster than a small cup or hand shovel.

6. Add Potting Soil to boots, NOT Topsoil, potting soil is lighter and best for drainage in contained spaces. Trust me on this. Don't fill all the way to the top as you need room to put flowers in. So this project also points out you need Peastone, potting soil and flowers-this is a fun project but not uber cheap to produce. But still, whimsical and unique compared to a pedestrian Terra Cotta pot.

7. Add flowers, and voila! Ye are finally done. Come winter in colder climates, I suggest storing boots in garage or basement–someplace dry– to preserve them for future enjoyment. So I recommend planting annuals in your boots rather than perennials. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Celebrate Monarchs! A Free Butterfly Stencil to Use on a Garden Rock

I live in a congenial town, today as I was spreading fresh hardwood bark around my Dappled Willow area garden I waved at neighbors biking by. "I love your garden Suzanne!" the woman called out. "And I love the Butterfly painted on your rock in your garden!" Well that compliment made my heart sing. "I can give you the stencil if you want, and it's also on my blog" I called out, "I love your blog!" she replied as she and her husband and dog sailed down the street. But then I realized, it wasn't on my blog, my pineapple stencil is on this blog, not the butterfly one, both were found online as free to use, but both needed cleaning up.. See Pineapple Stencil story here:
My Free Pineapple Stencil and Story Behind it

I created the Butterfly stencil last year when I and my neighbor BettyJo decided to plant two butterfly habitats in our downtown riverwalk, a conserved area with trails that run along the Farmington River. I was interested in raising monarchs, Betty Jo upped the ante by coming up with an idea to approach the Chamber of Commerce and town about public habitats. The monarch population like bees, has been diminishing at dangerous rates in America due to pesticide use. Without these winged insects our food supply is negatively impacted. To date many non-profits have flourished to assist in replenishing our landscape with Monarchs. So we jumped on the bandwagon and received immediate approval to plant two habitats designed by local realtor, WMP board member and landscape designer Kate Lange, all with the help of local sponsors. I designed the logo and we are officially:

I planted a variety of perennials in my side garden to attract Monarchs, last year Purple Cone Flower, Butterfly weed and Butterfly Bush, Stonecrop Sedum, Shasta Daisy. But my stenciled butterfly rock is a visual to let passerby's know, this garden is Monarch friendly. Last year we learned to raise butterflies, and released them in our town habitats. Over 100 Monarchs were raised from collecting  eggs from Milkweed plants that edged our town pond. How such a beautiful insect can grow from a very teeny white egg within a few weeks is flat out, amazing.

If you'd like to let others know your garden is butterfly friendly, you can download the below stencil with instructions to use, have fun! And if you want to know more about The Windsor Monarch Project please check out our facebook page:

Download the Butterfly Stencil here, click on image, then print:

Monday, April 30, 2018

What I Learned from the #100DayProject Challenge and Why I Stopped Again

The 100DayProject Challenge is a great idea, started up by the online magazine The Great Discontent. This concept challenges readers to commit to 100 of days learning something new, or focusing on a creative project, or making a lifestyle change. The 'Challengees' post on Instagram their daily progress using the proverbial hashtag #100DayProject. At the end of the 100 days the online site selects to highlight the successful outcome of some of the participants.

In 2017 I committed to this challenge but within two weeks I was overwhelmed and quit. I was so disappointed in myself as I'd selected a fairly easy project to commit to. When I quit, I imagined all the successful artist participants as being more organized and perfectly pulled together than I; they working from gorgeous studios and selling all they created during their challenge run and enjoying press for their efforts.

Admittedly, I'm the kind of artist who falls in love with ideas before thinking the whole thing through enough to realize that 100 days is a whole lotta time to marry oneself to, using up daily hours for a daily progress report.

Furthermore, as an illustrator and gag writer and one who manages an attention deficit issue; I found it hard to wedge in another task that could absorb one-two hours of my day. Remember, this not only involves creating the item, but shooting and/or scanning, cleaning up the image in Photoshop or Snapseed, posting on social media and blogging about it. This adds two more hours on top of art-production time.

So I ended the challenge and started again this year, full of promise, reminding myself that the failed challenge was adding on another hand created task that interfered with my daily process of running a busy ETSY shop, plus trying to finally get another one up and selling on a regular basis.

This year I cleverly decided to incorporate the task of creating art for my second ETSY shop SuzanneUrbanArt, thus integrating a daily task that matched up perfectly with a personal goal of mine. Aren't I clever thought I. and started off with a bang that resulted in several finished holiday characters plus one up for sale in a juried artist group: Ehag Artist Emporium. And it sold!

But slowly I missed a day of posting on IG, then another day, my daily productivity was crashing to a halt as my work space became too cramped and disorganized to work in. Some creatifs can work amid chaos, I. Can. Not. Clutter in my physical exterior creates clutter in my ADD mind.

So I convinced myself I'd commit two days to
re-orging my studio and back on the #100DayProject Challenge wagon I'd hop. Two days became two weeks that included ordering bookcases, selling old furniture on Facebook Marketplace and purging stuff, stuff accumulated when I fell in love with the idea of exploring a new medium with out thinking through how I could use this medium to create something that happily fit my personal, authentic style.

What I learned about the #100DayProject is, I'm not ready for it, or it's just not for me. I'm capable of focused discipline, due to years of working in left-brained habitats and freelancing around them, but making the switch full-time to my own studio work takes more conscious mental shifting than I ever thought. One must stay inner-focused A LOT. However, this challenge exercise, though brief, opened me up to seriously organizing my studio to enhance productivity, aid my ADD issue (everything containing supplies is stashed in homogeneous groups and labeled) and most importantly, the new white furniture, and area rug reflect much needed light in a studio with one window.

So be ye not discouraged if you flunked a challenge. As challenges not finished still offer an important learning curve and growth. If you fail to complete it,  the timing might be off for you, life gets in the way, but in turn you might open yourself up to a much needed change in half the time. Go forth and create. Herewith my new studio thus far: