Friday, November 25, 2011

Can't Even Process It Success

I have been meaning to post ever since Nov 13th (the day after the barn sale closed) but I was just so overwhelmed with the response to the show, that language kinda failed me. I just haven't been able to find the right expression to describe how I feel. Volcanically successful? Insanely successful? Exceeded my wildest dreams successful? In any case, I realized that all I needed to say about the show was "WOW!" and "Thanks so much for coming!"

 I am beyond grateful to all the people who were willing to come to someone's house to check out a new little business. And people did come. And they bought many things with delighted looks on their faces. They hung out and ate the samples from our fantastic caterer, Amy Palmer and brought their friends back to show, They enjoyed the environment and appreciated all the work that went into putting the show on. So thanks so much!

I think my favorite part about the show was being able to sell things for budding artists that have no other venue. My reluctant but fabulously talented photographer, Carol Edgell,  sold everything. So exciting! My Twigs (the show is called Branches, so I refer to my youth artists as Twigs) also did extremely well. All three of them sold almost everything. I was particularly pleased that the 12 year old who made the hair bows and plans on donating everything she makes to Heifer International ( gave me 24 bows and sold all but three. She will be able to make an $88 donation. Not too shabby!

Overall, the show's artists donated close to $250, enough to buy a water buffalo in Thailand or the Phillipines. That's super exciting, as that was the little mental goal I had set for the donation level for this show. And who wouldn't want to buy a water buffalo, given the chance?

I know this post is getting kinda long and you want to see the pictures, but I have to give a HUGE shout out to the one person who made the show possible, my admin assistant, Liisa Erickson. This girl worked her tail off behind the scenes. She's a recent college grad who is currently substitute teaching for Fairfax County Schools. She came over once a week for a while and kept me from freaking out- I mean came and did all the data entry and designed all the merchandise tags and did anything else I asked her to, without complaining no matter how boring or onerous the task was. Do you have any idea how wonderful it is to hire someone and just have them come in and do the job right, every single time, no matter what the job is? Liisa's future employer, if you are reading this YOU WANT THIS GIRL TO WORK FOR YOU. Anyway, there is no way I would have been successful pulling things together without her. And she cashiered both days as well. Liisa, you are my hero, girl! Thank you, thank you, thank you, a thousand times, thank you.

And thank you all for coming. For believing in me and my friends. For being curious and asking questions and being excited about our little creations. It really is a scary thing to make something and put it out there at the mercy of the world. So your smiles and warm compliments did us all a mountain of good. And yes......we WILL be doing this again next year. But I won't think about that until March.

And last, but not least, I'd like to thank Zoe for being our unoffical mascot.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wanna Meet Some of the Other Artists?

While I am capable of doing many things, putting on a show this size by myself is not one of them. It just takes way too much product to fill a house. Even I don't have that many ideas. Well maybe I do, but I certainly don't have enough hours in the day to bring them all from my imagination and into existence.

There are 20 other artists participating this year. They represent a huge range of mediums and styles, not to mention personalities.  We have three young artists, 11 and 12yrs old, two making jewelry, and one making hair accessories.  Looking at their products, you'd never guess they were made by people so young. On the other side of the spectrum, we have a life-long artist in her 80's. We have a master quilter making table runners and cloth bowls. We have a single mom who does stained glass and watercolor. Another artist is completely focused on "up-cycling" old items and giving them a completely new life and purpose. We have an engineer who turns wood to relax from the stress of his "real" job, and a landscape designer who also happens to weave beads in her "spare" time. A retired dentist, a labor and delivery nurse, an HR manager for AT&T, a Great Harvest baker.....The diversity is mind boggling. The one thing they all have in common is they have been working their tails off getting a bunch really cool stuff ready for the sale. 

A few of them were kind enough to write up a Bio for me. These are their words, not mine. I thought you all might like to hear from someone for a while, kind of like having guest speakers:

Lisanne Milford -Fiber Artist - Primeau

Having spent 25 years working full time and trying to raise 3 sons, I decided to stop pulling my hair and opted out of a "Career". Years have passed, and my boys now prefer not to see me all of the time.....and I grasped that this was a junction where I could pursue activities that make me come alive in a very different way.

Working with my hands and playing with fibers-whether in the form of fabric, yarn, roving, thread, reed, or wood-allow me to create something different, unique, unusual and/or fun. I continue to learn new techniques, try unfamiliar approaches, and use contemporary colors ways. Whether I am knitting, sewing, weaving, or doing needlework, my time is spent creating objects that bring me joy.

As I read before and feel now, "I just want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares. It's a peaceful place to be in life."

Anne Brannam - Jewelry Designer -Casual Penguin Jewelry

Anne Brannam, founder of Casual Penguin Jewelry, has been designing jewelry for more than 5 years. She specializes in semiprecious stones, and likes using Czech glass and Swarovski crystals. Anne lives in Burke, VA and takes care of her boys, two sons and one husband.

Tyler A Kulenguski - Jewelry Designer - Gem Fusion Jewelry

I grew up in a family of artists. My mom was a stained glass artist and my grandmother and great grandmother were painters. My grandfather was a wood worker.

My grandmother gave me a rock tumbler when I was ten. I loved nature and all kinds of rocks that I would put in my tumbler. Early on I became a stained glass artist like my mother, but after children, my love came back to gemstones and working with silver and gold. (Besides, there is no room in my house for a stained glass studio.)

I love creating a unique look to fit a stone or bead, or just to playing with the colors to make something more contemporary. I definitely feel at home with a torch in one hand and pliers in the other.

KC Grey Siebert - Jewelry Designer, Basket Weaver- The Woven Warp

KC Gray Siebert of The Woven Warp has been beading since 2005. The latest craze is her “Not Your Granny’s Eye Catchers” and badge holders.  Catch them at Branches and Reunions.

Bob Kahane- Wood Turner - Turnings By Bob

I have been an active member of both the Capital Area Woodturners (CAW) and the American Association of Woodworkers (AAW) for several years. I am a juried artisan at the Artisans United Gallery in Annandale, VA.  In addition my works are on display and sale at a number of cigar establishments and retail stores throughout the Northern Virginia and DC area.
I first started turning over twenty years ago. My first project was a cocobolo mallet.  I started making pens in 2006.  Since then I have made over 400 pens, pencils and other turned projects.  My work has received many letters of appreciation from across the country from many satisfied customers and gift recipients. 
I started pen making initially to make unique gifts for family and friends.  I quickly realized the enjoyment and pleasure of being a pen maker, working with my hands and heart, to create artistic and useful objects out of some of the most beautiful materials in the world. Every pen is a unique design, handcrafted in my studio. Each pen, either of wood or resin, is given over ten progressively finer sanding steps eliminating all scratches and sanding imperfections.  Then, a 2-step wax finish is applied that provides protection and a deep glow and pleasurable feel to the pen.  The work is finally completed when placed into the gift box and delivered to the customer for their final approval. 
I take great care and pride in each pen striving to meet exacting standards of excellence in design, implementation and finish creating a pen that provides great enjoyment and pleasure to its owner for years to come.

OK, see what I mean about a huge variety in personality? They gave me five completely different answers to the same question, "Will you please write a Bio for the show?"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wow! What a shoot! (Pictures for the 2011 Barn Sale)

We shot the promotional pictures for the barn sale last Tuesday. It was SO INTENSE! And the pictures turned out AMAZINGLY WELL. But I'll just show you that part later.

So if you know my art, you know that I have a background in photography. It might surprise you then, to learn that I hired Kodi Wright, of Kodi Wright Photography (check out her blog and gallery here: ), to shoot the barn sale pics. In fact, she looked at one of my shadowboxes and said "Why exactly am I here?" Well, frankly folks, there are two answers to that. First, I am WAAAAY to close to this to take my own pictures. And I'm too stressed out and over-arted right now to have the mental space to take good pictures. The second reason is the point of "Gathering" Branches is to promote the artistic growth of artists who working on a professional level, but don't have the space in their life to have art be their primary focus. See? Hiring Kodi suited both purposes. It took stress off me and allowed me in turn to help promote her career. Besides, she put up with me as a roommate in college, back when I was still learning how to be a decent human being. You gotta love anyone who will still talk to you after that, right?

So you wanna see some pictures?

So you guys totally want to come to the sale now, right?

Almost everything we used in the pictures is the actual item for sale.There are a few things shown that may or may not make it into the sale, but that is at the discretion of the individual artist. (For example, the antique pillar and  aqua door shown in one of the pics will not be there. They live in my bedroom.) But for the most part, if you see it, it's for sale. Even the cool tea pots and wooden boxes and spools and chairs and tables. Yup folks, it's all for your shopping pleasure.

What the heck is a Barn Sale?

So I bet a few of you are sitting there, scratching your head thinking "What is a barn sale?" A barn sale usually held in a barn. They happen in the exurbs here- farther out from the city, where there are actually barns. People refinish furniture, sell antiques and vintage house hold items, repurpose or "upcycle" things to have a new purpose. Think Restoration Hardware meets garage sale meets thrift store. Add in a bit of Paris antiques market and a really nice arts and crafts show and you can kinda see what barn sales are all about.

In the barn sales I have been to, each stall usually has a different look, vendor, or color pallet. They're really fun. I have been to two in the DC region. Check out . They are in Buckeystown, MD and they wrote the book on throwing a fantastic barn sale. Well there really isn't a book, but you get where I was going with that. (Maybe I should write a book......Nah, more fun barn sale-ing and making art.) OK stop number two for me in actual barn saling was also in MD, but the other direction, towards Annapolis. Check out for that one. They aren't as big, but it was just as fun. Both the websites are great for info about when and where the sales are, so go check them out. Oh, I should probably mention that most barn sales are only open every once in a while, like 3 times a year or once a month, so you totally want to check the websites to be sure you don't drive all the way out there on the wrong weekend. That'd be a bummer.

I found out about all these sale through a great article the Washington Post wrote in February about all the barn sales in the DC region. It's a great article and it tells you where all of the true barn sales are around here. Check the article out here: .

If you are closer to the Aldie/ Leesburg Virginia area, you are in luck because there are a couple of shops there open everyday. Belle Villa is a beautiful store full of refinished vintage furniture and cool architectural salvage. If you are into the french flea market look or the shabby chic thing, you will want to move in. Check them out here: . Another great place nearby is Lucketts Antiques. They have inside shopping and outside shopping. If you are looking for salvage, it is awesome! The website looks pretty lame, but trust me, this one is worth the drive. Here's the link, just so you have the address: And I have heard awesome things about the festivals out there in Aldie and Lucketts. I think they do spring and fall festivals.

So those places were all my inspiration. Actually my adventure buddy Sharon and I were standing in line with bumper to bumper women at the Barn Show in MD and two things occurred to me. First, that this was the perfect type of venue to sell my leaf collages. And second, that I knew how to make EVERYTHING they were selling. On the way home, I looked at her and said "We should do this!" And the idea for Branches: the barn sale without a barn was born.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Getting Started

I have had several people tell me that I need to start a blog about my art. I have resisted for 2 years, but out of necessity I am caving to peer pressure. So here it is.  Now all you people who keeping pestering me to know what I am doing with all the weird stuff I keep telling you about on Facebook, have a place to go and read about all my creations and shows and adventures. Speaking of shows, the reason I am never on Facebook anymore is I am going crazy preparing for my Branches Barn sale. You'll hear me talk about it a lot, as it's all I ever think about right now.

So as far as being an artist goes, I should probably tell you about myself. The best place to read about me as an artist is in an article recently published on . They interviewed me in August and came to my basement studio and asked all kinds of questions and let me ramble on about my art-based experiences and philosophies. And they wanted to see everything, absolutely everything I had ever made (at least in recent history) Do you have any idea how awesome it is to able to spend an hour telling a complete stranger everything you can think of about yourself as an artist? It was heaven.  Here's the link: