Monday, October 22, 2012

Like a Proud Mama

   ~Emily Cline
Yesterday's Gather & Giggle brought out the Crafting Newbies... They were shy and tentative. Cries of "I'm not creative!" and "I don't know what to do!" were hushed as fingers got goopy, scissors snipped, and tape stretched. Like a proud mama, I present to you the gorgeous results. And these from The Virgin Crafters!
This one is long -- about 15" -- ingeniously to be cut into 3 separate cards, and sent home to Hungary! (We are so international!) The 2030 is the town's zip code; the "H" is the town's code.
The cutest thank you note and complimentary envelope. The flowers were stenciled in with paint pens!
Pretty papers, washi tape, textured fiber, stamps, and paint pens. Her first time using them!
The "worst offender" of "I'm not creative!" -- hmm. Me thinks she doth protest too much. 
My scratched out visual journaling from yesterday. It was hard concentrating: I wanted to watch and witness the therapeutic miracle of First Time Crafters unfurl.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Putting it out there

by Deborah

Last week, I told you about the online courses I am doing to try to stretch myself a little bit.  I'm on day 3 of the writing workshop and Day 9 of the courage workshop.  They both are time-consuming and thought-consuming, more than I anticipated, but I like having the stimulation, and find that I feel more fulfilled thinking about things other than just school lunches and Halloween costumes and grocery shopping.  Not that those aren't important, but neither do they make me a very fascinating conversationalist.

Every day, as part of the Cultivating Courage course, we have to try a brave move, something outside my comfort zone.  Well, my move for today combines both my courses together, because I am going to share some of my writing here.  That definitely feels brave.  Which is perhaps silly, because of course I am writing here on this blog on a regular basis.  But this is different.  This writing feels more....I'm not sure how to describe it.  Personal, but heaven knows I've been extremely personal here on this blog.  Perhaps serious, and professional, is the description I'm searching for.  Writing simply for the sake of writing, with assignments and structure, rather than the random blatherings I belch out here.  Not that I am claiming this work to be anything impressive, just the opposite really.  The whole point of the writing course is simply to establish the habit of writing every day, so we are given prompts and are asked to write for 15 minutes every day.  Which means most of our work is stream of consciousness and first draft.  But I feel the vulnerability in sharing it in this stage is important, not because I want feedback (the course doesn't do feedback, and I'm not looking for it here) but because I feel like I need to stop saying that I am going to start writing someday and start writing now, and be strong enough to start putting it out in the world.  And I know this is a pretty safe place to start.  (*ps*  if you do feel compelled to comment, that's fine, but please be gentle and tactful)

Our first day of writing had the prompt:  tell the first story you ever heard.  Day two prompt: tell a story about falling.  Today, day three, the lesson was on expanding.  She asked us to go back to one of our previous pieces and expand on a portion of it.  I chose a short paragraph from my day one piece.  So, here it is. 

ASSIGNMENT: Go back to one of the prompts you've finished already, and see where you can expand. Flesh out a scene, slow down the action, or examine an aside you brushed past and really focus on it. Expand and expand and expand some more, for as long as the fifteen minutes will allow.

 Previous prompt excerpt:
She was kind and I reveled in her attention, already aware that most semi-adults were uninterested in me. I remember following her through the towering sunflowers in her parent’s backyard garden, a maze of rough green stalks and aggressive giant yellow flowers, veering between panic at being alone, and thrilling to the game of chase. Occasionally I would round a cluster and find her suddenly, crouched and giggling. She would stand, and as I looked up to her, the sunlight would halo around her and the flowers, so that for one dazzling moment I couldn’t tell them apart.


It was a forest of hairy green trunks, a maze of sunflowers that rose to the shoulders of adults, and towered like flat-faced giants over my four year old head.  She was the neighbor’s daughter, a teenager, and I reveled in her attention, swiveling to her like the sunflowers to the light.  She would lead me by the hand into that forest, and she would kneel in front of me, her face lit with that exaggerated wide-eyed smile people do with children, instructing me to close my eyes and count to ten.  I nodded mutely, determined to earn her approval, even though the flowers scared me, with their stalks rough and thick as me at the bottom.  I obediently closed my eyes, plunged into darkness, and heard her feet patter away softly through the dirt.  I needed all my concentration to remember my numbers up to ten, so was too distracted to note that I was now alone.

 “Ready or not, here I come,” I called tentatively.  I peered through the semi-dark of the backyard garden, planted with nothing but row after row of oversized sunflowers.  The tops of the yellow trees swayed above me in the wind, creating a soft hissing that made me shiver.  It was the dead of Texas summer, cicadas buzzing their soundtrack of oppressive heat, but in this labyrinth the crowd of blank yellow faces above blocked out most of the sunlight, dappling the light onto the dry clay underfoot. I picked my way through the aisle, trying to avoid brushing against the prickly trunks and their large, veiny leaves.  I felt a mild panic that my friend would jump out from behind one of the plants and scare me, and so crept forward in uncertain lurches, craning around each trunk.  I felt an even stronger anxiety at being so alone, something that rarely happened to me in my short life thus far.  I always had a brother or a parent or a caregiver within eyeshot, and navigating this wilderness of vertical monsters on my own sent my heart hummingbirding about my chest.  I slipped between two stalks, holding the leaves away from my face, into the next aisle.  I felt a little braver at having touched the Wild Things and began to thrill to the exhilaration of the chase.  I loved Hide and Seek just for that blazing moment when you unexpectedly happen upon your prey, startling you both into shrieks of half-frightened laughter, and so I trotted forward with more eagerness, nestling my fear and excitement in my throat.  She was crouched at the end of the next row between two black-centered yellow mammoths, and I saw her at the exact moment she crashed forward and yelled, “BOOOO!”

I screamed with a giddy mixture of alarm and ecstasy and she tickled me while I writhed away trying to assert, “I FOUND YOU” over my involuntary laughter and breathlessness.  She stopped, gave a happy sigh that relaxed her shoulders and then stood.  She was the same height as the flowers, and her blond hair mixed for a moment with their golden ferocity in the overwhelmingly bright sunlight and for one moment I stared up, dazzled, unable to tell which was friend and which was flower.
That's my brave move for today.  Thanks for sharing it with me.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Making Your Own Ephemera with Tea Bags & Stamps

     ~by Emily Cline
Cleaning my {overflowing and stacked to the gills} studio, I re-found my ArtFest goody bag. A generous soul named Robyn had given me a Collage Ephemera packet with three gorgeous tea bags, she had stamped with waterproof, permanent, archival ink.
They're so pretty and cute, I had to try to make and use them myself.

I had dried out old tea bags. I carefully pried off the teeny staple, dumped the tea, and gently opened the seam. (*Note: it's possible that Ms. Robyn pressed or iron the tea bags, they flat and unwrinkled. I'm leaving them more wrinkly.)
Setting up shop, I stamped in an orderly fashion with black ink, so I could cut the pieces or lines out and use them like washi tape. The ink seemed to set up fine -- no smearing -- but just in case, I gave it a shot with my craft dryer. The stamps I used were made by Renaissance Art Stamps (smaller scroll), Stampland (fleur de lis), Magenta (flowery vine), Leavenworth Jasckson (pointing finger), and Teesha Moore (numbers), and a basic star (no manufacturer). Ink pad is by Clear Box and the black fiber pad on the left is from Stampin' Scrub -- and old one, but a good one.
So here's what I came up with (on a limited time frame: my 6 year old is home!), with a little step by step:
   Gesso-ed the pages
   Painted on Golden's Payne's Gray, then rubbed it off with a rag
   Smeared Cyan from ink pad
   Rubbed Platinum colored ink from an ink pad
   Glued down my stamped tea bags (*note: I almost always use Yes! paste, but it seemed to come through the tea bag, so I switched to my Tombo stick)
   Glued down other ephemera: old book page, flower picture, sticker, buddha figurine
   Tattoo-ed a raptor (just because)
   Stenciled on Blick's green blue light and dark green light
   Spray painted white through a Teesha Moore stencil (the round star-burst thingies)
   Spray painted gold stars
   Rubbed yellow and dark blue glaze all over

It all went pretty fast and the tea bags were easy to do.  Have you tried them? Whaddadayou think?

***What's next?***

Join us Sunday, October 21, from 2:00-5:00 p.m. for our monthly Gather & Giggle crafting date. We'll explore visual journaling (as always), but if you have your own craft, bring it! 

Suggested donation of $10, though if it's your first time, please be our guest! RSVP, space is limited and filling up. Email for details and registration:


Also, join Emily in London January 12 and 13 at the ahhh-mazing Erin Faith Allen's Soul Portrait workshop. It's the same class she taught in Larchmont this past June -- it is incredible! Sign up *today*, October 15, and get the early bird discount. But hurry: space is limited!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


by Deborah

Excited, terrified, and wearing a strange knit helmet, but still ready to jump!
In moving to Texas, I left a lot of things behind.  Sometimes it feels like I left myself, my identity, behind.   I suppose I did, in a way.  I am no longer the person I used to be, and nor should I be.  I should be growing and changing and evolving.  However, I worked for a long time to become that person, I liked her and was proud of her, and I am having a hard time letting go of her.  Plus, I'm not entirely sure who the new me is and who I want to be.

I am having to re-invent myself.  I have to try new things, take some chances, let go, and embrace.  I have taken a few steps toward doing that.  I signed up for two online classes.  One started this week, the other starts next week.  One is about taking risks and the other is a writing workshop.

I have already begun Andrea Scher's Cultivating Courage and it's scary and supportive and fun and thought-provoking.  Today's challenge had to do with asking for help, and that has had me thinking all day.  I work hard to set up support networks, especially when it comes to childcare, which is the thing that handcuffs me the most.  Thinking about where in my life I felt like I needed help or support, the thing that felt most true was that I feel like I need a cheerleader.  Someone to applaud or laugh or encourage me as I go through the grind of being a wife and mom, someone to recognize the day-in, day-out contributions I make relentlessly behind the scenes to keep everyone happy and fulfilled.  So that's what I am going to try to seek out a little more consciously.  And if any of you want to volunteer, the answer is yes.

Next Monday I start Alice Bradley's The Practice of Writing, and I am very nervous about it.  I have often thought I would be a professional writer "someday" and I feel like I'm dipping my toe in the waters of maybe that being now.  I feel intimidated and unqualified and uncertain, but I think it will be a good catalyst to get me jumpstarted on writing more seriously.  The good thing is that I can definitely use this as one of my brave things for Andrea's course because it sure scares the crap out of me!

These e-courses are great because I can do them on my own timeline, don't have to arrange babysitting to show up to class, and can do it at my own pace and privately.  It seems like a good place to start experimenting and growing.

What would you do if you were being brave?

Monday, October 8, 2012

I'm on Vacation

     ~Emily Cline
I'm on vacation.
I'm sleeping in. Staying up late. Eating whatever I want. Drinking wine. Reading. Watching movies. Listening to TED talks.
Talking talking talking. It's 24 hour a day therapy.
This was our set up on the first day:
And this is what's coming out:
We exchange teeny little gifts: votives, pens, altar bowls, incense. The little birds were birthday gifts.
I'm on vacation. 
I'm in Heaven.
***What's next?***

Join us Sunday, October 21, from 2:00-5:00 p.m. for our monthly Gather & Giggle crafting date. We'll explore visual journaling (as always), but if you have your own craft, bring it!

Suggested donation of $10 at the door, though if it's your first time, please be our guest!
Email for details and registration: or at

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Birthday Girl

by Deborah

Today, October 3, is the glorious Mrs. Emily Cline's birthday.  Please celebrate everything about her, as she is a true light in this world.

She is a gifted artist, who is brave enough to not only create on a regular basis but to also put it out there and share it with the world.

She is a teacher, in Doodlebugheart and to me.

She is a student, ardently taking workshops and classes, always stretching.

She is a mother to a bright, energetic, beautiful kid.

She is a devoted wife, keeping house, career, and motherhood in balance as much as possible.

She has been a model and actress, so talented in both, and still sometimes chooses to pursue that, all while growing other parts of her life as well.

She is the truest of friends.  One of those people that just makes you feel better for having been around them.  A heart that really listens, and sympathizes.  A brain that helps you figure things out.  A laugh when you need it most, and not afraid for it to be at her own expense.  A light when things look bleak.

She is my business partner and my dearest friend.  She has been my support system, my oxygen, my motivation, and my shoulder.  I love her dearly and I celebrate this special day.

Love you, Em.

Monday, October 1, 2012

It was. A Great. Day.

I know. I'm grinning from ear to ear. And that's me trying not to smile too much.

That's from last Saturday -- my first art sale at the Larchmont Arts Festival. Before that, I was a total wreck! My stomach was a mess, I was sweating, I thought I was going to throw up. The worst stage fright. But I loaded up my car, picked up my wingman Kelly Collet, and away we went. We set everything up, praying it wouldn't rain. My hope for my cute little bulldog clips to hold the pieces fell through, but I had back up sticky squares that saved the day.

People started coming. I couldn't believe it.
My first sale (above) was for a custom-sized piece. I didn't know what I was doing -- didn't charge for shipping, not sure I even gave them a receipt! -- just filled out the form in amazement and started smiling!

Friends came. Family came. People I didn't even know stopped by, gave support, bought prints and originals, and ate the chocolate I'd put out as {yet another} back-up.

Kelly The Most Amazing Wingman helped replenish and shuffle things around. My husband brought sandwiches and chips and cookies for our stamina and strategically placed bookmarks so visitors could see my work's evolution. My son even came by with comedic relief!

At the end of the day, I realized I hadn't seen any of the other artists -- I'd been too busy. So I ran up to check out some jewelry and fell in love with Bridget's Gems and's handmade jewelry. My neighbor there was a real-life neighbor I hadn't met -- Donna Lehman Scarpa -- beautiful paintings.  I even made a friend or two for Doodlebugheart! You can see some big picture shots of other artists and the event on The Loop.

It was. A Great. Day. How I wish you'd been there.
***What's next?***

Join us Sunday, October 21, from 2:00-5:00 p.m. for our monthly Gather & Giggle crafting date. We'll explore visual journaling (as always), but if you have your own craft, bring it!

Suggested donation of $10 at the door, though if it's your first time, please be our guest!
Email for details: or at