Monthly Archives: December 2014

Why I Send New Year Cards Instead of Christmas Cards

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For about 10 years I have sent cards to celebrate the New Year instead of Christmas. Why do I do this?

One reason is that I like to design my own cards, and everyone on my list does not celebrate Christmas, so a New Year card saves me from having to design multiple cards and remembering who celebrates Christmas and who does not. Another reason is that it’s different, and I never mind being different. Still another is that I make a lot of my own Christmas gifts and it’s difficult getting the gifts AND cards done all at one time.

But the main reason is that the act of designing the cards reminds me of one of the best Christmas/New Year holiday seasons of my entire life and by making the cards I can have a private celebration of that memory to give me hope for the year to come. I was still in college and I had recently completed one of those design class projects where you are assigned to depict the four seasons in an abstract manner. We did one set with paint, and another with collage papers. I was really enthusiastic about the project because I love to work abstract and I especially enjoyed the collage part.

I was still fired up about collages when Christmas break of 1988 came around and I didn’t want to stop doing them. During the break between Christmas and New Year I had some rare time off from both work and school and I was able to work on some projects just because I wanted to do them. My uncle had given me a new Devo tape (one of my favorite groups of the 80s) for a Christmas gift and I listened to that over and over while I worked on several collages that I was really pleased with. I thought they were the best work I had ever done up to that point and I used ideas I developed during those few days for spinoff projects for some time to come. One of the pieces was a collection of “thumbnail” collages in a Mid-Century modern style that I still keep in my studio and still periodically get ideas from. I will never forget what that burst of creativity was like, it’s hard to describe but I felt fully alive and purposeful for one of the first times in my life. It’s a feeling I’m always working to recapture and I do succeed from time to time but it is not easy to get “in the zone” like that.

For this year’s design I decided to do a four seasons treatment, using collage in a sort of DADA/Constructivist style. Those kinds of pieces are typically either chilling, disturbing or both so I watered down the type if imagery I’d normally use for that type of collage because I wanted to convey a positive feeling about the New Year! I used my collage paper collection that I’ve been building up since 1985 and mostly let the colors carry the message. I did a little bit of editing with the computer after scanning the collages to finish  them off and size them for cards. Each card recipient is going to get one of the four seasons at random this time, instead of everyone on the list getting the same card. I wish everyone a creative New Year in 2015!

If you want to see what handmade greeting cards I have for sale, go to http://carolynsstampstore.com/catalog/handmade-carolyn-c-47.html

New Recycling Guide for St. Louis County, Missouri

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For the last several months I’ve been working part time at Schnarr’s Hardware in Ladue, MO. Part of the work I do there is helping with marketing. In order to attract potential customers to our web site and social media outlets, I wrote up a Recycling Guide and created the graphic above to make links to it easier to share in social media. I also made a short url and QR code for those on the go or who only see the graphic and can’t click it.

This project is an example of content marketing. Content marketing is a way to build a relationship with potential customers by providing information that is relevant to them. I tried to make the content of the Recycling Guide relevant by including information on how to recycle items we sell in the store or items that are closely related.

Content marketing can be effective when other forms of advertising are getting overlooked. If you think about what your customers need to make their lives easier it can help you think of ideas for content marketing.

Making Convertible Bracelets

One of my favorite pastimes is to take apart jewelry that I purchased from thrift stores and make new things out of it. When I do this, I end up with a lot of odds and ends of chain. It occurred to me that some of these chain pieces could be the foundation of a convertible bracelet design.

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Three strands of different silver colored chain make a good base for a convertible bracelet.

In this example, I linked three lengths of chain together with a small jump ring on one end with a lobster clasp, and a larger jump ring on the other. The larger jump ring will be needed to accept multiple items clasped to it later. This bracelet can be worn as is, or used as a necklace extender.

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Next I made some parts that I can attach to give the bracelet a different look. I made a narrow strand of small beads with small lobster clasps at each end, and a dangle that consists of three silver colored beads on head pins attached to a small jump ring and a small lobster clasp. The picture on the right shows the bracelet with the convertible parts attached – I twisted the bead strand around the bracelet and clipped it to the jump rings at each end, and clipped the dangle to the large jump ring.

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I had so much fun with the previous set that I made another, this time with two strands of beads. These short bead strands could also be used as necklace extenders and the dangles could be attached to necklaces in strategic places as well. Think of all the different combinations you could have fun with! See my tutorial on convertible necklaces for more convertible jewelry ideas!

Creative Memories of Mom

Four years ago today (December 11), we lost my Mom to breast cancer. There isn’t much positive you can say about a horrible event like that, but one comfort I do have is that Mom and I spent a lot of time together and I have a lot of great memories to look back on.

The photo above shows Mom doing one of the things she really loved – entering (and often winning) cooking contests. Click the photo to read the accompanying article in the North and Northwest Journal and as a bonus get Mom’s winning green bean recipe!

Mom was really good at a lot of the domestic arts. She would not have called herself creative – her craftsmanship was excellent in everything she did but she rarely if ever created a pattern for a project or changed a recipe. I was capable of following directions and would be content with that if I couldn’t think of a way I’d rather do it, but Mom expressed amazement many times at how I would more often create a project from scratch or change an existing one considerably. I’m sure one of the things that enabled me to do this was her support – she never put down my efforts at expressing myself even if the results were pretty terrible!

Mom had been a teacher before I was born and liked her career, but she thought it was more important to raise my brother and I when we were small so we had a lot of time with her at home. My love of crafts was well-established before I ever started school. A lot of times I’d sit at the kitchen table and play with plasticine clay and Play Dough while Mom was baking. She’d let me use the cookie cutters to make clay shapes and I have a great memory of her showing me how to make a tiny clay pie, I can remember her rolling tiny clay berries to put in it and crimping the clay crust with a fork. When I was a little older, she showed me how to do my own baking experiments and we had matching kid-size and adult-size cookie presses. I learned to pipe icing on cakes and make things like stained glass cookies out of dough and crushed lifesavers. During my grade-school years I developed a passion for salt dough projects which were trendy at the time. This next photo shows one of Mom’s ornaments made from a kit on the left and one of my salt dough ornaments on the right.

Kits played a big part in both of our lives. When I was very small Mom used to subscribe to a club that sent her a different craft kit each month. The cupcake ornament above is from one of those. I always wanted to “help” my Mom with her kits but she gave me my own to do instead. She always did a super-neat job on hers and I loved watching. I got lots of kits as gifts for my birthday and Christmas and many times for an extra treat Mom would take us to Lee Ward’s where we each would pick out a kit for ourselves. Another great treat was a trip to the plaster shop where we’d get blank knick-knacks to paint. That sure was a thrill to spray on the pearlized top coat! Eventually I had quite a collection of plaster flowers and butterflies on my wall to go along with the finished embroidery, string art and hooked rug kits. My brother got into the act too with a plaster frog and a plaster bear head on a plaque.

In the summer, Mom used to work on her garden and I would follow her around a lot. I remember her showing me my first praying mantis sitting on her gardening glove. We were both kind of apprehensive about it, but that did not stop me from developing a strong interest in invertebrates which I still have. I had my own little gardening plot for awhile too. I didn’t like winter much, but one thing about it that I did love was long cold Sunday afternoons or after school time spent in the warm basement (where the TV was) working on my projects while watching bad movies on Channel 11. The sewing machine was down there too and a lot of my kits and my brother’s model kits got done there on TV trays while my Mom sewed clothes and decorative items for the house. I didn’t learn the sewing machine until much later because I was afraid of it but I spent a lot of time hand-sewing things like clothes for my Barbies and small stuffed animals and pillows.

Later on in life Mom got into some hobbies that even she I think would have called creative. In addition to occasionally being written about in the Journal for her cooking, Mom started writing travel articles for that publication accompanied by her own photographs. Photography and travel were passions we both shared and we spent a lot of time together on local one day trips or longer trips pointing out interesting subjects to each other. Her photo output was prolific! She loved it so much she even made little vignettes out of the decor in the house, garden or of the decorated holiday table to photograph. If she had lived long enough to retire she probably would have been a prolific blogger. She already had some experience making web pages for the travel department at her job, so along with her other interests and skills it would have been a natural progression, I think.

Another creative outlet that meant a lot to Mom was singing in the church guitar group and performing in the church talent show. Most of the time she presented herself as shy and quiet but that went out the window onstage – she had no hang-ups about performing skits, tap-dancing or singing in front of an audience. She did tell me once she thought she might be a frustrated thespian. She was pretty good at it too – after one of her performances the MC spontaneously remarked, “looks like we actually have a legitimate act here!”

In January 2009, I attempted to recreate that cozy winter afternoon creative atmosphere by pursuading  my Mom, Dad and brother to make collages with me at their kitchen table. Mom is not in the picture above because she was taking it. This cheered me up greatly (I need cheering up in winter!) and I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. I encouraged them to cut pictures out of magazines that they liked without worrying too much about why they were attracted to it or what it means. Below is what Mom came up with.

I expected that after Mom retired that there would be lots more times like this to look forward too, but it was not to be. Lucky for me, Dad will indulge me by gardening with me and working on projects with me and that helps a lot. And I often bring my sewing over to Dad’s house to work on while he and my brother enjoy a race or some other show on TV. Sometimes they will even work on models! I don’t know if they know how much it helps me to remember those happy times.

How many of those Pinterest projects have you made?

That’s a question I asked myself after listening to a discussion on that topic on a crafting podcast. Have I actually made any of these projects that I’m pinning, and if so did they turn out much like the original? I spend a fair amount of time pinning, for both business reasons and because I enjoy it. I have a Pinterest board called Craft Ideas – has all this work of collecting attractive items to inspire me actually done any good? This past weekend I went on a jewelry bender and I thought it would be good practice for my motor skills to try to make versions of some of the projects on my Craft Ideas board and here are some of the results. I hope I added enough of my own touches not to make these a total rip-off!

Too bad I don’t have more than one key like this, I’m pleased with this result. Creator of the original: Jennifer Evans.


I didn’t have any large briolettes so I used more faux pearl and crystal beads and linked them together to make more volume.
Creator of the original: Joan Stowell.

I added dangling beads to the bottom of my fringe instead of using paddle headpins. Creator of the original: Stefanie .


I added longer strands of faux pearl and crystal beads to mine and to compensate for the extra length I used post earring findings instead of earwires. I also substituted faux leather cord for leather. Creator of the original: Lynda Carson.

I liked the idea of seed beads on wire wrapped around the bead, but I ended up just using a small scrap of chain to hold my dangles under the large bead instead. I’m going to revisit the seed bead on wire idea, but will need some lighter weight beads to try it on if I’m going to make earrings like in the picture. I decided the large faux pearl beads I had on hand were too heavy for earrings. Creator of the original: unknown.

Have you been inspired by something on Pinterest? Feel free to share a link to your original inspiration and a link to your finished project in the comments below!

Halloween Faux Postage

Sometimes it’s fun to get back to the basics – rubber stamping and making faux postage! I don’t have any actual “Halloween” rubber stamps but I used what I had to make some disturbing postal imagery for Halloween.

I used assorted stamps from various companies plus some from my own Faux Postage collection –
http://carolynsstampstore.com/catalog/faux-postage-rubber-stamps-c-22.html

Stamping inks are Ancient Page and ColorBox Archival from Clearsnap and StazOn.

How to Start a Blog

A friend of mine solicited advice in Facebook on this topic, and since what I’ve written is probably too long for that platform, I’ll make a blog post out of it!

 

  1. First think about what the purpose of your blog is. All of the decisions you make will flow from that, so be clear in your mind on why you are doing it. What is the theme, if you have one? Pick out a title that fits the theme and purpose. While doing business blogging as part of my living, I was taught that one of the purposes of blogging and other social media is to give your company a more personal feel and create a connection with the audience. Whether your purpose in blogging is to make money or just express yourself, informality is expected so if you want to go off topic now and then and write about whatever is on your mind at the time, that is ok to do.
  2. Decide whether you need your own domain name. Is it acceptable to have your blog at myblog.wordpress.com for example or is it important to have www.myblog.com? If you want your own domain, is there a domain name available that fits your chosen title?
  3. Decide whether you want to use your real name or a pen name.
  4. Decide what email address you want to associate with your account. If you’re using a pen name, you might not want to use the same email address you use when you’re using your real name online. Also if you want readers to be able to contact you by email, it might be useful to have a separate email for this so you can better manage the spam settings. On most platforms that I’m familiar with, allowing readers to contact you by email is voluntary.
  5. If you have any interest at all in Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms, get an account in each to complement your blog – using your pen name if you have one, or it’s ok to use accounts under your real name if you don’t mind revealing all your online activities to the world. Many blog platforms allow you to link your blog to these accounts and it makes promotion of your blog a lot quicker and easier and gives people more ways to interact with you. You will most likely to be prompted to link these accounts when you set up your blog so it’s convenient to have them ready before you start. It’s a lot of work to fill all the social media platforms with content, so whenever you can have one account propagate content to the others automatically it’s a big help. For example, my Twitter account accepts feeds from my other activities, mostly automatically, and I rarely have to go straight to Twitter to add content, though I still can if I want to – http://www.limegreennews.com/ – the rest of that web site is very out of date, but the Twitter feed at least is current!
  6. Select a blogging software platform. Make sure you picked out a title and how you want to identify yourself online before you start playing around with the software because you often cannot change the name after you start setting up your account. I don’t think you can go far wrong with WordPress because people have written a lot of useful free plug-ins and you will be able to do a lot with it. If there are certain special features that are important to you it might not hurt to look at a comparison chart of different blog software, such as this one – http://startbloggingonline.com/blog-platform-comparison-chart/ or this one – http://weblogs.about.com/od/choosingabloghost/p/BlogSoftware.htm. It isn’t strictly necessary to use “blogging” software to have a blog because the meaning of the word “blog” comes from “web log” which is just a web page that is updated frequently. If you use “blogging” software it will make it easier for people to understand what you’re doing but if you want to get more creative with the format, you can do that.
  7. Select an avatar image to identify yourself as you set up your account. There will be other decisions to make as you set up the account, they will vary depending on the platform, just keep your purpose in mind while doing it and those decisions will be easy.
  8. Now comes the fun part – filling the blog with content! Whether doing personal or business blogging, if I’m stuck for an idea I ask myself, what’s going on right now in my life that might be interesting to someone? A project, an observation, an interesting event? If you have an interesting life, finding time to write will probably be more of a problem than finding things to write about. In any kind of creative work, I find it helpful to keep a notebook or scrapbook at hand to jot down any ideas that I can work on later when I have time. Also if you’re stuck in a situation where you are in a waiting room or a line or something, writing is a great portable activity – write a rough draft and refine it when you get home! With today’s mobile devices, you don’t even have to wait until you get home!

Other tips for getting ideas for content:

 

  • Do you get emails with interesting topics that might spark some commentary from you? Collect them in a folder in your email software, and when you’re feeling dry, read some and see if you get inspired.
  • Have you read articles online or in publications that are interesting? Clip them or print them out and put them in a folder to look at on days when you want to write but need ideas.
  • Have you written a substantive or interesting email or social media post? Turn that into a blog post! For example, a fellow artist at an outdoor show once asked me for advice for finding shows. I wrote him an email and later used it as a newsletter article because I thought it would be helpful to other people.
  • Reviews are enjoyable to read and a good service to the readers and are always a good fallback if you’re stuck for ideas.
  • If you want to cover a certain topic, you can use the Yahoo News service to have emails sent to you with links to news articles that include keywords of your choosing. Open yourself up to news outlets that cover the topics of interest to you – free community papers, bulletin boards, newsletters, online magazines? A blog is a good place to report timely news since it’s meant to be frequently updated and informal, and posting news is a useful public service too.
  • Is someone you know doing something interesting that fits your theme? Interview them!
  • Consider allowing guest bloggers. Perhaps you have a friend with a blog and you can strike up a deal where you can occasionally write a post for their blog and they write one for you. Be sure to allow including a link back to the guest author’s blog – that will expose both of your blogs to new readers.
  • If you don’t have time for a substantial blog post, don’t feel intimidated – it’s ok to post just a photo, or a couple of lines of commentary, or embed a video you like now and then. Remember it’s informal! It’s more important to post frequently than it is to post long, substantial articles. I personally like to read long, substantial articles, so I would not follow a blog that did not include one from time to time. However I’m probably not typical and many people in your audience would probably rather read something short. I’m always being told to cut down my writings – but I usually refuse if I can get away with it! My reasoning is that people who want to read my blog want to read things written in my “voice”, so I don’t want to mess with that. There are literally millions of other people they can read if they don’t like my style. There is a lot of competition so the way to stand out is to be yourself, in my opinion!

Have Fun With Your Jewelry and Accessories

Last night I co-hosted a jewelry party with my friend Laura who is a rep for Park Lane Jewelry. I was showing my own hand made jewelry designs along with her offerings. I delivered some remarks about my ideas for enjoying jewelry and accessories and here are my notes from last night, expanded a bit.

My background

  • Disclaimer – I am by no means an expert on fashion. I am a designer and I pay some attention to what people are doing in many different areas of design so I’m a little bit aware of what is fashionable even if I don’t make the effort to follow it!
  • I’m involved in lots of different arts and crafts.
  • I have been making jewelry as part of my creative output since 1989. In that year a friend of mine introduced me to the twin joys of thrift shopping and making things out of old jewelry. I was never the same after that!
  • Sometimes I try to make a jewelry piece harmonious with current trends, sometimes not – I just make what I’m inspired to make.
  • I love to incorporate found objects, mixed media and reused beads and components.
  • I do take special orders.

Fashion vs. Style

  • My own definition of these terms is that fashion refers to what is popular right at the moment.
  • Style, in my opinion, is incorporating your own tastes into a mix of current, vintage and other favorite items of yours to express yourself.
  • What is fashionable might be appropriate for your own lifestyle and where you live, or it might not. I don’t feel obligated to follow any trend that doesn’t fit my life.
  • One of my design teachers gave me what I think is some very good advice – “If it looks right, it’s right.” In other words, your eye is more important than “the rules”.

How do you develop your own style if you are not sure what it is?

Current trends include layering and BOHO

  • Both of those trends give you the opportunity to be creative because you can mix and match.
  • Layering and BOHO are favorite looks of mine, but there are usually so many different trends going on at one time that you’re sure to find something you like no matter what your taste is.

My ideas on good value

  • Buy (or make!) some new pieces to feel fresh but save and reuse old pieces too.
  • Many people feel that something new now and then lifts the spirits (my opinion, not science, but I suspect science would back it up!). A new outfit gave me extra confidence on a recent job interview, for example.
  • I know of no human cultures that don’t decorate their body with jewelry – there must be a deep human need for personal expression in this manner.
  • Convertible pieces are a good value.
    • Some pieces are designed to be worn in different ways.
    • Extenders are a good investment also – you can adjust some jewelry you already own to different clothing necklines.
    • Large rings that open and close can help you twist necklaces together.
    • Link items together to make a longer strand, such as a bracelet and a short necklace.
    • A really long necklace can possibly be worn single strand, double strand or even triple if it has a clasp.
  • Accessories are a good value because they can breathe new life into clothing to make it look newer or seasonal.

Layer older jewelry with new for a fresh look

  • Some ideas for getting new life out of old jewelry are on this web page:
  • If you’re not a crafter, you can commission a local jewelry maker to re-work parts of something you already have into something new.
  • If you keep a piece long enough, there is an excellent chance it, or at least parts of it, will come into vogue again – no matter how unlikely this seems! I can think of several things that I wish I had back that I once thought were completely hopeless!

To find out about my future events, go to:
http://carolynsstampstore.com/catalog/classes_and_events.php

A plea for the humane treatment of Wiggles the pet starling

Wiggles is a disabled human-raised pet starling that was
confiscated by the government in the State of Pennsylvania. You can familiarize
yourself with the story here – https://www.facebook.com/wigglesthestarling/info

The owner’s son has autism and the whole family has been
traumatized by a government raid on their home.

My contribution to the letter writing campaign in support of
Wiggles is as follows:

“I am writing this letter in the hope that it will help the
cause of trying to reunite the tame starling Wiggles with his owner.

I live with two rescued starlings. People found them both at
the age of about five days old and raised them in captivity. Imprinting in
starlings I understand starts at about the age of one week old. Both of my
starlings see humans as their flock. Typically when it’s time for their “out”
time and the cage door is opened, they explode out of it and fly straight to
me. After spending some time with me they take their bath, explore the room a
bit and come back to me at intervals to visit. One or both birds usually ends
up napping on my arm or shoulder after they’ve been out awhile. Although my
understanding is that it’s not typical for starlings to enjoy being petted, my
starling Pooky does like it when he’s in certain moods.

My two starlings are no more “wild” than any other pet bird
you could have. They do everything other more common pet birds do – they play
with toys, they play with their human, they learn to perform certain tasks on
command such as entering the cage when their out time is done and coming when
called, they talk with a vocabulary of dozens of words and phrases and
sometimes use human words in the correct context. Clearly they understand the
meaning of some words I use with them, such as “worms”, “cheese” and “come
here”.

My starlings like the company of most other humans and will
land on them and climb on them. They are even friendly to the vet and vet tech
when they get their annual checkups. Needless to say a wild starling would not
do this and it’s good that they don’t because given the way many people feel
about starlings that behavior would be likely to get them killed or abused
cruelly if they were turned loose outdoors. I do believe that they have a
special bond with the people who raised them even if they do like other humans.
My Dad sometimes watches my starlings for me when I go out of town. From time
to time if I’m away I’ll call Dad and he’ll put his phone on speakerphone so
the birds can hear my voice. They tend to respond with an excited chirp when
they hear it. Once when I came to pick them up, my other starling Attila did
back flips on her perch. It’s hard to say what’s going on in an animal’s mind
but it sure looked like excitement to me.

Recently I went on a four day trip and when I went to get the
birds they both got extra animated and started to sing and chatter. Dad said
that was more chattering than they had done during the previous four days. I
let them out for a time before I put them in their travel cage to take them
home and Pooky snuggled under my chin and let me pet him for nearly an hour.
His usual tolerance for this is about five minutes. I don’t think Pooky would
have behaved this way if he weren’t glad to see me.

It is rumored that a rehabber is currently caring for
Wiggles. If true I hope the rehabber is kind to Wiggles. Even if that is so I
believe Wiggles would be a lot happier in his original home due to what I’ve
observed in my own birds’ behavior and some things stated in the book “Holistic
Care for Birds” by David McCluggage, DVM and Pamela Leis Higdon, an author of
several books on bird care and training. On page 97 it states: “If you used to
work part time but have taken a full-time job, your bird will become
emotionally stressed… If you develop a new relationship with someone the bird
will feel neglected; they know you are diverting some of your love and time
from them.” If those kinds of things can stress a bird, what kind of suffering
is it experiencing by being confiscated by strangers and taken to a strange
place, possibly a succession of strange places, and being in the care of
unknown people who may not even like the bird or care what happens to it? There
are lots of people out there who hate starlings. The thought of our bird being
in the hands of such a person is the stuff of nightmares for starling owners
(literally I have had nightmares about this). In real life when I found my
first baby starling I posted on Facebook that I had found one and what advice
people could give. A couple of ideas were “drown it” or “put it in a plastic
bag and tie it to the exhaust pipe of your car”. Five years later that bird is
sitting on my forearm getting ready to take a nap by singing herself to sleep,
murmuring such phrases as “you’re sweet” and “I love you” as I write this. I’m
sure glad I didn’t take any of that advice!

How many times have we heard moving stories of dogs and cats
traveling great distances and enduring hardships to find their lost owners? Are
starlings less intelligent and have fewer emotional needs than these animals? I
don’t think so and I don’t think any starling owner or expert on birds thinks
that.

The reason so many people have pet starlings is that unlike
native birds, we fear with good reason that to turn them over to a rehabber
could be a death sentence. I don’t have two pet starlings because I desire to
take wild birds out the wild. When I find a baby of a native species I take it
to a rehabber ASAP if I can’t put it back in the nest. In the case of starlings
if we want the bird to live we have no option but to raise it ourselves or
adopt it out if we can’t reunite it with the natural parents. Once we see what
it’s like to live with a tame, human imprinted starling, even though it means
extra work many of us feel blessed to have such a close bond with a member of
another species and we become passionate advocates for the humane treatment of
starlings. I’ve had pet parakeets before and I loved them very much but the
bond between them and me was not quite as close because I did not raise them
myself. In my opinion it is cruel to torment Wiggles’ owner with thoughts of
how he’s being treated. How would you feel if your close animal companion was
ripped away from you and you weren’t being allowed visitation or to even know
for sure who had him and if he was suffering? I feel very fortunate that I live
in a state where I will never have the experience of having my starling family
torn from me by the government. Once due to unfortunate life circumstances I was
separated involuntarily from a pet turtle that I had raised from an egg
and I didn’t know her fate for about 10 or so years. I eventually found out
that the son of a veterinarian had adopted her. What a load off my mind that
was. I had carried that grief and guilt for so many years and it was such a
relief to be able to let it go because she was in good hands.

In 2005 I was reading some accounts of the evacuation of the
area affected by Hurricane Katrina and I read of the mental torment of a woman
who was not allowed to bring her pet along and it was presumed drowned or dead of neglect from being abandoned. I remember the woman was quoted as saying “I hope she forgives me.” I’m crying
just thinking about it. Please don’t inflict this kind of suffering on human
beings for no rational reason. It’s cruel and inhumane to both the human and
the animal.

I’d like to address the issue of whether the confiscation of
a pet starling makes any logical sense. It is understandable to not want to
encourage the import of invasive species into a state. However the “horse is
out of the barn” so to speak in the case of starlings. They were already far
beyond their importation origin on the East coast by the 1920s and have been in
every contiguous US state for many decades. Keeping a starling in captivity is
not going to add to the wild population – rather it does the opposite by
removing the bird from the wild breeding population. My understanding from what
I’ve read on starlingtalk.com and other resources is that starlings are very
difficult to breed in captivity. People who want to breed starlings on purpose
are few and far between and from what I’ve read it’s very difficult to do even
if you really work at it. My two starlings are male and female and have been
living together for three years and I’ve seen no evidence that the female wants
to breed with anyone and if the male wants to breed with anyone his preference
is me (judging by the fact that his singing and wing-waving are directed toward
me) since he’s imprinted on humans! My understanding is that it’s not unusual
for pet birds to prefer their human as a potential mate. So there is not much
danger of increasing the starling population that way. What is the intent of
the law in Pennsylvania against having starlings as pets, if there is even such
a law? Is it for the welfare of the bird? Clearly not, since it’s apparently
legal to slaughter them if you feel like it. Who does it benefit then? I think
Pennsylvania needs to join the other 46 states and show common sense by
considering the starlings’ special status and allowing them to be cared for in
loving homes. In Wiggles’ case he is disabled and could not survive in the wild
anyway even if he was raised by other starlings and had a chance for a good
wild life. Human-imprinted starlings are not wild and do not know how to act
like a wild bird and have a much better chance of a happy life in their own
home with their own family.

We would like to think that government officials who have the power of life and death over animals, whether wild or domestic, actually care about their welfare and not just about showing off how much power they have over us. Please give us hope that you actually care about the animal by reuniting Wiggles with the family who loves him and he’s emotionally bonded with.

Carolyn Hasenfratz

Brentwood, Missouri”

Lots of new projects

I’ve been keeping busy with lots of new work – here are some samples of some projects in progress!

06-09-14 – Here is what is on my work table –
Using some of the stencil/embroidery fabric experiments to applique onto
the front of a wine bag to upcycle it. One piece is for the front and
one for the back. I’m sewing fabric pieces and ribbon onto pieces of
fusible webbing then will sew around the edges to attach to the pieces
to the front and back of the bag.

06-18-14 – On my work table today – greeting
cards right before all the parts are glued together. Techniques used –
collage, rubber stamping, stenciling. Some of the stencils are
commercial and some are designed and cut by me. Commercial stencils available here – http://carolynsstampstore.com/catalog/stencils-stenciling-supplies-c-45.html

06-22-14 – On my work table today – I cut
these stencils for a Day of the Dead project. Going to experiment with
some discharge paste on fabric.

06-23-014 – Plant trays in progress – doing a
little work on my deck this morning. On Saturday my Dad cut up some
recycled wood for me to make these trays and yesterday I nailed them
together and put wood filler in the cracks. This morning I
sanded them and lined the insides with roof cement. My intention is to
display plants in these at shows and fill in with black gravel to make a
nice uniform appearance. The roof cement is meant to make a waterproof
seal so I can water the plants and not have to worry about damaging
surfaces or putting little saucers under each one which takes up a lot
of room on the table. I want to put folding legs on these trays to
display the plants below table level in front of the tables and I’m
still working out the best way to do that. I was looking in the outdoor
storage closet for some wood pieces I might be able to use for the legs
and saw some folding chairs that came with the condo. In a pinch I could
set the larger tray on two of the chairs until I figure out the legs –
but that gave me another idea – what if I just made two sets each of
smaller and narrower folding legs without seat covers? That would work I
think. Could I put some kind of channel on the bottom to hold the legs
in place and let gravity do the rest? Then it would all fold down for
transport. These trays gave me another idea – what if I made these
without a wide rim but just enough to be level with a ceramic tile
mosaic and designed them to drain instead of hold water? Would make good
garden/patio accessories I think.