Sunday, September 30, 2012

New Web Site!

Ta Da! It's finally done. I found a new web host that is only costing me 129 dollars for two years. I changed the name of my domain to Sande Elkins Art and I finally stopped trying to learn Dreamweaver in a day's time....the manual is over 1000 pages long! What was I thinking???....and I used the web host's simple, drag and drop technology to build my site. At first, I was disappointed because it wasn't as "pretty" as the site I'd planned but I thought, I need a web presence now and this will do. Then I discovered that they offered slide shows...whoohoo...and I was in heaven. So here is the link to my new website; check it out and tell me what you think.

Serenity and Acceptance

Everything we own seems to breaking and needing to be replaced at the moment...or if not replaced at least hefty and expensive repairs, the front porch (of course that one is a long story), the washer, the dryer, the frig, Steve's car, various farm equipment, the lawn mower, and now the well pump. I also thought that my modem or computer was getting ready to die but that turned out to be AT&T's problem which of course they'll never admit to. At the same time, we've had a lot of good things happen to us in the last few weeks. So, I'm beginning to feel a whole lot like Job weighing my blessings against my problems. Except I keep reminding myself that I am blessed and all we have are problems, not real troubles, so I should stop complaining for sure, just keep counting my blessings and try to stop worrying about how we're going to pay for all of this and what's going to break next, sheesh, ha.
I don't think I've ever read or heard this prayer in its entirety, just that first, famous verse. When I read the entire prayer, I thought of how much it speaks to me. I'm nearly 57 years old but I still have a problem discerning what I can control and what I can't. And worry seems my constant companion. I think that the problems of the last two months, the deadlines that we still haven't met, and all of the minor crisis have actually been good for me. I'm not talking about the twenty pounds I've sweated off with stress...although that was one of those added blessings,ha. No, I'm talking about the fact that I'm learning to control what I can, my own actions and energies and accept what I can't change, like Steve's direction, priorities, and the jobs he chooses to apply his effort and energies to when we may be looking for homeowner's insurance once again when the porch isn't finished next week. For several, frustrating weeks, I kept pointing out as gently as I could that the work had to be done by next week and Steve would reply, "Well, surely they will understand that I've not only had acres of hay that needed to be cut, baled and either transported or put in the barn and that I've had to work weekends and late at work for the last month. And now, I need to get the seed planted for next year. Surely, they will take all of that into consideration along with the fact that I'm obviously working on the porch and it will be finished." I kept telling him that we were talking about a big business not an individual and that big business does not have the ability to understand or reason, they only have rules to follow and deadlines to meet. He never seemed to understand and I kept losing sleep until I finally realized, I can do nothing about this. Sure, the porch will not be done on time and we will again be trying to find someone to offer us insurance coverage that we can afford but I can do nothing about that. I can do what I can do. I can clean and paint the house and furniture, straighten out my studio and workshop and prepare to start working again, I can create my art and hope it sells to make some money to pay for all of the expenses that have racked up over the last two months, all of the debt we already had and all of the added debt to come from the increase in our insurance premiums (they've already more than doubled and I'm dreading what the next quote will be when we have to find new coverage.) These are things I can do and can control. The stress and worry over the things I can't control are just wasted energy and that energy is needed elsewhere. So, I think that I will print this prayer out and post it where I see it and repeat it every morning and every night and then, maybe I can cope with and accept the things I can not change. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Made a Sale, Opened a Shop and Shook Things UP

If you follow this blog, you know that I've been wanting to start carving again for a while. In fact, I didn't realize how long until I finally put some new items in my S. Elkins-Folk Art Etsy store and saw that it had been nearly two years since I put the first and last two pieces on there for sale. They were two Santas and they sold almost instantly. I hope I have as much luck with the pieces on there now, which are older pieces that I dug out of storage, and the new pieces to come. I have been making plans and progress with my new studio space and workshop but all of the other stuff going on in my life and the work we had to do on the house put all of that on the back burner. I realized today that I've missed the Halloween train. There's no way that I can get any new witches done before the holiday and that makes me sad because I love creating wickedly funny witches, sharp toothed cats, spooky ghosts and leering Jack-o-lanterns. The good news is, Christmas is just around the corner and soon I'll be putting up lots of new jolly St Nicks, heavenly angels, and scores of whimsical animals. And of course, there will be horses, lots and lots of horses.

Two other pieces of good news especially considering how much I've been doubting myself lately and wondering if it is wise to put time, work and money into yet another venture that might and might not pay in this sickly economy. Let's face it, on paper, the odds are against me but considering my equally sickly bank account, I have to do something. I've been looking into getting a job in retail even though I've never worked in that area. I wanted though to find a security I've never had. As I told someone once who asked me if I could make a living as an artists, "Sometimes I can and sometimes I can't." It was always feast or famine but I have to admit that I did quite well up until that last year when whether it was poor decisions to choose the shows to do that I did or the wrong markets, I did not do good at all and that pushed me into quitting entirely. So, I've been both eager and scared to jump into this medium again even though it was very good to me for way more years than it wasn't.

So, that was my mindset this week when I received a surprising text from an old customer. She and her mother had purchased several of my pieces years ago. I remember them well, especially her mom. She asked if I was still carving and I told her that coincidentally, I was seriously considering starting again after a seven year hiatus. She said that her mom's birthday was next week and was there any possibility at all that I had something she could buy for her. I told her that I did have a few older pieces that were packed away. I thought at the time there were only four but it turned out that there was actually eleven pieces. I spent the better part of the day yesterday going through all of the containers that I'd so badly labeled, ha, several years ago. Of course, they weren't all in the crates they were supposed to be in but eventually I located them all. I didn't locate the birds that went with the Bird Angel so she is staying with me. I'm also not selling my Jug Seller. She's currently sitting on my bedside table and looking at home there. I'll take photos later. I fell in love with the scaredy cat when I pulled him out and I priced him accordingly. I put such a high price tag on him that I know whom ever is willing to pay it will love him as much as I do and give him a good home. Chances are, he's staying with me. I took photos of all of the pieces and put together detailed descriptions and then emailed all of the info to the prospective buyer. She immediately bought the Harvest Maiden! I'll be shipping her next week. I took all of the other photos and posted them on Etsy. There have been no more sales but certainly lots of interest. In fact, Scaredy Cat was featured in an Etsy treasury on his very first day! I'm hoping that today's events and the response of my friends to the new, "old" work are a good omen or a sign from God that I'm on the right path. Time will tell.

Monday, September 17, 2012

 I painted the chair yesterday along with an old (not antique, just old) pharmacy lamp. Both are bright cherry red and both have the lovely flaws which come with being older and well used. The pharmacy lamp actually is pretty rough looking. I did sand off the rust but it still shows in a rough texture. Honestly though, I think I like it like that just as I like the stain showing through in spots on this chair.

The second photo shows my metal plate rack and the hand thrown plates which will sit in it as it hangs above this chair. I hope it looks okay because it will be hanging quite high. If I hang it at "eye level," we won't be able to reach the light switch for the closets. The closets are shallow and I'd be perfectly okay with not using the light inside them but Steve insisted so this may look a bit different and take some getting used to. I'll post the two artists that these belong to later since it's been so long since I acquired them that the names have slipped my mind. I'm thinking that the middle one, the red ware charger/platter is by Steve Knutt. I will be looking at the backs of both of them for the signatures though and get back to you on that.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bedroom Art Work

These are the two front runners for hanging above the bedroom chair. The one on top is a pastel which was a gift from extremely talented artist, Linda Woolford. It is a portrait of Danny and I really want to hang it in the entrance to the living/great room of our house so that it's the first thing that guests see when they enter. Of course, if I hang it in the bedroom, it will be the first thing I see every morning which is even better. Second choice is the large photo of Mouse and Danny. What do you all think?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The New Bedroom Progresses

No curtains yet but I did paint a small lamp for the bedside table and I did a bit of decorating today with accessories. And no, there isn't a photo in that frame yet but I know the one that I'm going to use, an old one of Steve that I love. Hopefully, over the next few weeks, I'll be adding wall decorations not only in the form of photos and art but also a black metal rack with three large, hand thrown plates on it that I got when I was doing shows (this will hang between the two closets), curtains made from green pin striped material and perhaps some roman shades, and a large easy chair that use to belong to my mom from the old bedroom that I plan to slip cover using canvas drop clothes so that it blends into this room since it does have the same greens and golds but a rust accent instead of the red used in this room.

Oh, and that large "pillow" on the bed?....That's actually an old bean sack, Sandy Beans that is:) It was a gift from my friend, Valarie Rogers who is an antique dealer based in Loudon.

I'm still not entirely happy with the lamp base which was originally rust colored and then off white and is now green but I may just live with it a while until I can paint the one that I intended to use in this room. Who knows, I might eventually fall in love with it and decide to use the other lamp in the living room instead.
I was telling my sister how many things in this room were gifts from friends and loved ones and they all hold so many memories. That terrarium sitting under the lamp on the bedside table was a gift from Steve on our first Valentine's day when we were dating. It use to have a lid; in fact, it's had two but both were broken so I eventually decided to just let the plants grow out of it instead of in it. The Sandy Beans sack "pillow" of course came from my pal, Valarie and the pretty, delft (?) blue container sitting on the chest-of-drawers was a gift from my Chicago friend, Cher Lemmel. My bestus friend, Pamie Haythorn, made many contributions to this room with gifts she's given me over the years. Namely, the wreath over the bed, the nightlight, the salt glazed dish on the bedside table, a candle which sits on the painted chest which isn't shown in any of these shots and even the lamp shade, which was actually more of a discard than a gift but I takes 'em where I finds 'em. My sister, Yvonne, gave me the salt glazed crock which holds the tulips on the chest-of-drawers. And finally, the chair, that will be sitting in the corner eventually and offering a warm and inviting place to curl up and read or "just sits and thinks," has been through many incarnations but it started its life sitting in my mother's living room. It was her chair and I can still see her sitting by the window with her glasses on the tip of her cute little nose reading in that chair. Even though I've had it recovered and will eventually slip cover it again for this room, I still feel my mama's hug when I sit in it. I still feel like a little bit of her is always here with me to offer me comfort and love and isn't that what the basis of any home should be?

New Beginnings

Okay, what have I been up to over the last month?, work, work....progress, progress, progress.....worry, worry, worry.....stress, stress, stress.....weight loss, weight loss, weight loss....satisfaction, satisfaction, satisfaction.

Alright, our troubles aren't entirely over. In order to meet the deadline for the reinstated insurance, we worked on other projects besides the porch. The good news, our house looks better than it has in twenty years and we are both house proud now and eager to work on each new project. The bad news, our insurance premium went up by 1,300 dollars a year! That means a little over a hundred dollars increase in our monthly mortgage payment because of escrow. The other bad news, the porch has to be finished within the next week and Steve has been "in hay" so it isn't even ready for Alfred to bring his crew in and pour and work the concrete. The good news, we might just be able to actually, finally, after over thirty years, get a REAL patio! What fun it will be grilling and eating out there or sitting in the rocker reading or watching our mischievous squirrels playing in the trees. I'm already giddy with anticipation and planning my back gardens. The front garden is coming along nicely and I do promise some before and after pictures...or at least after since I'm proud of that but ashamed of the before... would be nice to show just how far we've come in a very short month.

More bad news, there will be another insurance inspection within the next week to three weeks and I'm not certain that they won't come inside. So, I'm now working feverishly to whip the house into shape and planning and thinking so that I can hopefully do it without much expenditure. I know we can't afford the new beadboard wainscot that we want eventually. So, I plan to paint the entire walls with the tan/taupe paint in the hallway, foyer, living and dining rooms that are all open to each other. There is still the old, dark, heavy wainscoting that we haven't removed in the kitchen and laundry. I plan to prime it and paint it and the woodwork trim a nice soft white and the wall above a lovely blue that I found which should compliment all of my salt glaze pottery. Here is the big project that I hope, hope, hope I can pull of in time, I plan to paint my kitchen vinyl floor. Here is a link to a blog where I found very detailed instructions on how another crafty lady did this. Her finished kitchen looks great and the transformation is incredible. I will try and be brave and take at least before and after photos if not step by step. Still, you never know because since we can't afford the hard wood flooring that we also want at this current time, I'm painting all of the subfloors through out the house. I still have to pull the carpet and nails in my future studio but I plan on painting it and the kitchen floor in a fun checkerboard. This is all a very ambitious undertaking especially considering my time restraints but I'm hoping (and praying) that with proper planning and lots of sleep to give me energy, ha, I'll be able to pull it off. The problem I'm running into, the planning takes almost as much time as the doing. I'm cleaning out, hauling off and taking to storage things that won't be used in the immediate future. This week there was more sorting and repacking going on than there was actual cleaning but I hope to make up for that this weekend. Still, it's loads of fun going through boxes that have been packed for a while. It felt like Christmas discovering wonderful items that I'd forgotten. Oh, almost forgot...I did paint an old lamp and put a shade on it. I wasn't quite pleased with the color so I'm repainting today. It's not the lamp that I really want in our bedroom where I put it on the bedside table but the other one will require more work to get what I want and this one just required a can of spray paint....well, now two, ha. So, I'm off to re-paint my lamp and I'll post photos as soon as it's done!:)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

We have a saying in East Tenn., if you don't like the weather today, just wait until tomorrow. Less than two weeks ago, it felt like Fall had arrived early. The days were cool and the nights downright chilly plus the humidity was wonderfully low. Now, it is so humid that my glasses fog up just standing outside. The temps are in the high 80's and low 90's which, once you add in that outrageous humidity, feels like you're standing in the middle of a pizza oven. We're already getting remnant showers from Isaac but we've been dry so I won't complain about a little rain. 

I was working in the yard yesterday, digging up lenten roses to transplant. It was physical work but not really hard work since the soil was soft from the rain and I was able to just use a shovel and not have to use a pick to loosen it first. Still, I nearly over heated and within fifteen minutes, I looked as if I'd been caught in a downpour. My hair was sticking to my head and my clothes were drenched. Not a pretty picture but certainly one that convinced me that, even though I'll be working outside again today, I'll choose something much less strenuous, ha. 

The good news is, the work on the house is coming along. We met a wonderful man named Alfred who will be doing the new concrete on the porch and walkway. He explained to us that who ever poured our porch 35 years ago, cheated us badly. They cut corners to make themselves more money and didn't reinforce the foundation and also capped off the blocks that concrete should have been poured in to make the entire porch and our house foundation more stable. Thanks to their dishonest and shoddy work, we are now without homeowners insurance (Farm Bureau Insurance canceled on us after seeing the damage...most likely before we could file a claim. If we filed a claim now, we'd never get anyone else to pick us up for a reasonable rate. At the moment, we're working with a great insurance broker, Ed Brooks, who is monitoring our progress on the repairs and then will broker new insurance for us, hopefully, at an affordable rate.) So, we are not only rebuilding the porch and sidewalk but also, I'm working at getting all of the windows and trim cleaned and painted. We've also removed all of the ivy from around the house. Evidently, insurance companies (and I've recently learned the entire state of Washington which has banned the plant and will fine you if they find you growing it on your property!) don't like English Ivy. 
I have to admit, after trying to eradicate the hateful and prolific stuff from not only our yard but the remnants it has left on our brick and window frames, I'm not terribly fond of it myself. A window usually takes about an hour to thoroughly clean and prep for painting; I spent three hours scrubbing one of our garage windows which had been blanketed with ivy and I'm still not totally satisfied with it.....but I am done with it!

More good news, in the last month and thanks most likely to my greatly increased level of physical activity, I've lost around fifteen pounds! I'd say that stress added to that loss as well but I'm still not complaining. A month ago, I was beside myself with worry. I was so upset over FB dropping our home owners insurance and fearful that our premiums on any new policy would be so high that we couldn't afford it. There are always silver linings though and this storm cloud had a bunch of them. Not only did God point out to me rather vividly how blessed I truly am especially in comparison to several friends who contacted me earlier this month with REAL problems that made mine look like the whine fest it was but Steve is finally working enthusiastically on our house again and turning it back into a home. We've been working together more than we have in twenty years! And I have to say (although maybe I shouldn't) that I don't know if it is the progress on the house making me feel much better or just the constant close proximity to each other but we've been acting like newlyweds again! That's quite an accomplishment and blessing for an old, 37 years married couple like us. Yes, we also celebrated our anniversary this past month on August 22nd! I think I will be remembering the month of August, 2012 for a long time for many reasons but I'm still happy to see September 1st arrive!