Friday, December 31, 2010

2011? A New Year In So Many Ways

I have been thinking about my new year's post all week. Mostly I have been thinking about all the Mission 101 things that I didn't get done :-D It's funny how easily plans can change in a short amount of time. One such change of plan on short notice is that I will be unemployed at the end of February.

Now, I don't want to hear sorries from anyone :-) There are some things worth being sorry for, but I have been secretly buoyed by the potential for the future and being cut loose from having to make certain decisions. There is a certain freedom in having the clarity to plan and energy that comes from planning. I am excited about being able to put more time into my business, my cards, my art, and my family.

It's going to be so nice to completely immerse myself at the art college and not worry about making up hours or such. I will miss the fantastic people I work with, but I'll probably get to see them just as much in the future. Just because one door closes doesn't mean it has to close completely.

Have a happy and safe new year's eve friends, and we'll chat next year :-)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Other Best Christmas Gift!

What do you give someone that has everything? What do you give someone that has asked for no gift? The simple answer is the gift of love :-)

My parents came over on Boxing Day and Mom had a large frame with her. What could it be? I found out in an instant and I LOVE IT! Years ago the only craft I practiced was cross-stitch and I only completed three large scale pieces (others remain unfinished as of this writing!). Maybe this piece, Country Alphabet, had a better chance of being finished because it simply was an alphabet.

The frame is 18x24" and I was pleased to see that Mom had made a buffer so that stitches would not get crushed. I can't tell you how long it took me to finish this. I probably started it in 1995. I had to improvise on the U because it featured a portrait of Uncle Sam, and being Canadian, well...

I moved a few times since finishing it and and I always wondered where my alphabet went. When I was cleaning out the basement this past summer, I was sure I would find it. Turns out I had the wrong basement!

I still love cross-stitch, but it's so hard for me to complete for some reason. I have a horse pattern on my website that you might enjoy! I got halfway through stitching the model and then I gave up. Sigh! It's a wonder anything gets done with me!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Peace, the best gift of all

There is so much I love about Christmas, from getting together with family and friends, to the sights and the sounds and homemade delights. But my favourite part of Christmas is the gift of peace. Christmas seems to be the only time of year when life truly slows down. I have had to slow down because of a cold that has dogged me most of December. I complained about how it wouldn't turn into a real cold, and then naturally this week it did!

I have watched the sun rise while lying on the couch for two mornings in a row now. There's nothing more beautiful than a crisp Alberta morning, where everything is weirdly blue for several hours. First a pretty cobalt blue, then a lighter blue as the sun wakes. We live on a busy road that is a shortcut between two communities and also a bus route. No kids, no commuters, no joggers...just many hours of treasured peacefulness while my pet birds preen and grind their beaks with contentment. Even they could feel this peacefulness. So from my family to yours, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Craft Sales - I Miss Them So!

This has been my first week without homework and my first week without a craft sale in a long time. Just two more fibre classes to go! But I do miss the craft's really the one time of year where I get to meet customers in person and chat with them. I love that so much. Just as I have a story to tell them, they often have a story to tell me.

The stories I hear the most of revolve around pansies. If I had known my pansies were going to be so popular, I would have called this Purple Pansy Art. People love their little faces and their amazing hardiness in Calgary's weather. Indeed, pansies will last up until and into the first few snowfalls here! But pansies seem to remind people of friendships, and mothers and grandmothers. I usually take pansy pictures in groups of two or three when I can, to symbolize those relationships. Plus they are very photogenic flowers.

Usually I have lots of pansies every summer, but this year I only had one pot that my mother gave me. I just adored the gentle ruffled petals! A vertical shot of these flowers graced cards and magnets this year. Although I won't be selling in person for a very long time, that doesn't mean my cards and magnets are not available. Just drop me a line anytime. I usually don't post them for sale on online venues. By the time everyone takes their cut, I'm not left with much profit unfortunately!

Ruffled Pansies

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Muffin Will Not Be Ignored!

If I thought going back to school was hard on me, it has been harder for Muffin, my cockatiel. The change in routine has really upset him, as well as not being out as much as he would like. He loves to sit on the hallway mirror, but since winter started, it's kind of drafty there. Sometimes even animals don't have the best sense, and I'm worried about him catching a cold. I guess I haven't written about Muffin as much as I should or like to!

When you live with a pet bird, you live with all their idiosyncrasies, which is why they're like little people. Muffin is more like a toddler, demanding attention loudly! We always laugh in restaurants when we hear a little kid yipe like Muffin.

Right now Muffin is flying into all sorts of places because he knows I'll come get him. He'll fly on top of the radio or the TV or even land on the laptop. It's not that I'm ignoring him, truly, it's just that once he gets to where he's going, he gets bored pretty easily and is off to the next place. Maybe I'm just playing his game and don't know it!

Our household has gotten birdier and I have neglected to mention that we now have a budgie! We got him from the SPCA in August actually. He was a stray and I'm glad that I picked him. He's loud and noisy and that's why we call him Feisty. I have no idea how whoever caught him managed to do so. He flies hard and fast around our house and letting him out is an all day affair! I don't think he'll ever be tame, but that's OK. I'm just happy on a day like today that he's indoors and safe :-) I don't think Muffin likes him, but we'll see. Here's a clip of Feisty and his babbling:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Designed Object

Our next humanities assignment centres around the designed object. We watched an excellent film called Objectified, which is about the design of everyday things. For the assignment, we could make a presentation solo or as a group, as a podcast or PowerPoint or even a zine. I'm going to do an oral report despite the fact that I'm terrified of public speaking. It would just be the easiest way.

I get the feeling that somehow a lot of the presentations are going to be about cell phones, MP3 players or laptops. I have no idea why. It could be because I'm doing my smartphone! I just can't think of an object that I use everyday that I'm super passionate about or feel is intensely personal. Ten years ago I probably would have picked a model horse or something :-) I could do my Coach purse, which I love, but I just don't love it as much as my phone. One of the starting questions is Reflect on how this object's design fits into a story you tell yourself about yourself. How does this object—in particular, its design—play a part in your answer to the question "Who am I?"

In some ways I'm less materialistic than before. Once I started letting go of things, I cared about them less. That's not to say that I don't cherish my wedding ring or a gift that someone has made for me or anything like that. It's just I'm imbuing less of myself in things. Really, I have to, because I don't have the money or the space :-) If you were in my position, what would you write about?

Monday, November 22, 2010


Well, only two Christmas craft sales left to go! In a way I miss not being able to do five or six sales because they’re so much fun. From the setup to the take down, I really enjoy the sales and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the anticipation, or just seeing what will sell or who I will be talking to about my art and photography.

This past weekend’s sale was at the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association, which is a busy community centre. Our community doesn’t even have a community hall, and really, community halls of a certain age are more like an afterthought - just big enough to be useful for a wedding or a party, and maybe a skating rink if you’re lucky. This community hall has a canteen, a lounge, a bowling alley, a skating rink and bingo. It really is the heart of the community and it was so nice to see so many people come out to support it. My sales weren’t as good as last year, but there were lots of people who remembered me! That was a real warm and fuzzy feeling :-) It was a two day sale, and I had time to go home and make some new cards when I sold out of some photo cards.

My next sale is at the Scenic Acres Community Centre, which is a much smaller community hall. I have been playing around withrack my table displays and it’s kind of funny to see how people like to shop. I have sold a crazy number of large cards so far and I wonder if it has to do with putting them on a card instead of a spinner rack. If that’s the case, I wish I had been doing it all along :-)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fort Calgary Artisan Fair

We had a great time at the Fort Calgary Artisan Fair on Remembrance Day and I had good sales. The remains of the fort are the grounds and the barracks. There's a museum built onto one side of the barracks and I didn’t realize it was like a mini Heritage Park, which I'll have to visit again. It's crazy to live somewhere for almost 20 years and never visit some of its attractions :-)

The floor plan was tricky. At first we were worried about being on the second floor, but traffic was pretty steady. The draw box was upstairs and we were near where Santa was sitting in the afternoon. The first floor was busier, but had trickier points - I think it would be easy for people near the entrance to be passed by, as well as people at the back. Mom only sold two things, which was really disappointing. I don’t know if it’s a bad time for knitting or what - her checkerboard slippers always used to fly off the table.

I tried a new pricing scheme for the greeting cards as well. A friend suggested I round up my "buy 3" deal to $10 from $9 and it seemed to work. Sometimes the notecards cannibalize greeting card sales, so I had them in a basket instead of the card rack. Next weekend we’re doing a two day sale at the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Centre. This was an awesome sale last year - can’t wait to see how it is this year :-)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

No Christmas Cards This Year

Howdy friends! I have sad news - I don't think I'll be able to send out Christmas cards this year. I have always enjoyed exchanging cards with folks online for many years, but I just don't think I can do it as I juggle work, school and a month of Christmas craft sales.

If you would like to send me a card, I would love to hear from you! Send it to: Christine Bennett, PO Box 97014, Calgary, Alberta, T3K 0P2, Canada. Who knows, maybe I'll end up sending out friendship cards for Valentine's Day instead!

I'm kind of glad that Mom and I aren't doing a craft sale for the first two weekends in November. Last weekend was really nice, and I really need this upcoming weekend to prepare.

We'll be at Fort Calgary's Artisan Fair on November 11 (750 - 9 Avenue SE) from 11:30-5 though. We have always wanted to do this sale, but we always felt enhugugh about the date, but every year we try at least one new venue. My grandfather, who passed away in peacetime, fought in World War 2 and the Korean War for Canada. But, this sale has gone on during Remembrance Day for years now, and it includes a morning ceremony. I haven't been able to really take part in Remembrance Day ceremonies for years now - many businesses no longer consider it a stat holiday and sometimes there isn't even a pause at 11. We'll give it a try and see how it feels :-)

Monday, November 8, 2010

No Slowing Down!

My fibre class at ACAD is really motoring along and I think I will be writing about it well into the new year! Have you ever had one of those days where you can't get any work done because of so many interruptions? That was today!

Just as I got into the groove of loom weaving, Jane, our instructor, told us about a "life after ACAD" talk given by three recent grads - Brook Fung, Andrea Strand and Anne Fetterly. All three are finding success offline and online in textiles related careers. The point that really stayed with me is that there's weird lull that happens after graduation - suddenly you're out of the protective art school cocoon and into the real world, where you may not have an artsy job or artsy friends.

Then there was about another hour of weaving. Our looms are really neat and simple - just copper pipe pieces put together to make a rectangle. Many people probably learned weaving in grade school, but it's so nice to have proper instruction in it. I have added new words to my vocabulary such as shed, warp and weft. A childhood problem I always had was weaving that bunched up in the middle. It's easier to work the pattern in small sections. Our group theme for weaving is "dangerous weather" and the idea is to play with colour and simple shapes. No Bayeux tapestries here yet! I'm really envious of the second year students who get to use the real looms. It's easy to get bug-eyed and weave the wrong pattern.

It's scary how fast I'm falling in love with textiles. I always have loved fabric and wool, The other day I looked up beginner tabletop looms and I think - I think I might just as for one for Christmas :-)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oh, The Humanities!

I know I'm behind on blogging about my Fibre class, but I promise, I will blog about the dyeing! I can't believe we have hit mid-term already!

The main difference between an art education at a college versus a university is that a college tends to be more hands on. But everyone still needs a good survey of art history and contemporary art. HUMN 110 is best described as "art and design now" and we've looked at open ended topics such as beauty and handmade in the age of mass-manufacture and will look at other things like feminism down the road. Our current topic is hybridity in art and I'm researching the work of a Canadian artist, Brian Jungen, for the next assignment. We only need to cite one source, and fortunately an article about him that I had in a magazine can be found online. Sometimes it's possible to be too eager to recycle stuff :-D

What does hybridity in art mean? Well, the easy definition is a mixture of two or more forms. It could be a tongue in cheek ad campaign (ie, Diamond Shreddies cereal...look it up, you'll smile :-)), Jeff Koons stainless steel sculpture based on a common inflatable rabbit, a work that blurs the boundary between different mediums, or a work that combines cultural traditions.

Jungen seems perfect for this assignment - if I can find an article on his whale skeleton made out of plastic chairs or a Haida mask made out of running shooes, it'll be a cinch :-)

Thursday, September 30, 2010


I was hoping to do some machine sewing tonight for our next project - a fabric collage! But I actually spent the time ironing pieces and loading bobbins.

The results of my natural dyeing are on-going and interesting to say the least :) I think I can cover everything in at least three posts!
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Natural Dyeing

Today I learned about natural dying techniques in Fibre 2D. Our first project is to dye some cotton swatches and make two silk scarves. The process is rather long and involved, as we have to roll up the material in plastic and essentially let the die release over time as the material decomposes.

Some of the suggested dye sources were tea bags, flowers, berries, leaves and rusty objects. I couldn't find any rusty objects, but there were plenty at school. While I'm not sure how the leaves will turn out, the berries definitely did the trick! I also made a cup of raspberry tea in the morning to make sure I had a tea bag handy.

Natural dye materials

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I'm hoping and praying for more chinooks this year - they're a warm weather phenomenom unique to Southern Alberta. A chinook can pass through town and melt snow *like that*. It reached 2 C the other day and I have been covering and uncovering my mini roses in anticipation of frost and snow.

My friend Noela Jewelry and I are done for the Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmer's Market. We had to bow out of the last time on September 1st, due to rain...rain that magically stopped after we left! We just couldn't win with the weather this summer, and although the market graciously said that we could come back for another time, it's too cold to stand out there for four hours in the evening!

But, it was not all bad...I wrote a blog post for the Alberta Etsy Team about being prepared for outdoor sales.

And I'm looking forward to my indoor sales this year! They are all booked and I will be posting the schedule soon.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Year Swag Bag

Originally uploaded by Calzephyr
My first week at school (on top of work and real life) has really been quite nutty! But here's some of the fun things I received in my first year welcome bag.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back to school!

My first full day of classes is September 13th and it seems I'm very slowly getting there. On Thursday I picked up my official ID card and went on an earlybird tour.

The tour was led by a fourth year mature student and it was actually pretty fun. I really didn't need to go, but I just enjoyed following everyone around. There were also people here and there fixing lst minute things. I really like the rhythm of schools, especially when they wind up or wind down for a semester. I met a gal from Idaho and it was just kind of cool to hang around at the back and observe how excited and nervous the younger crowd was and how they all differed. There were a couple of nerdy girls, some kids that wore their artiest artist clothes, a hipster and a suave Hispanic man with a purple shirt, orange-brown leather jacket and white pants. He was a real standout :-)

It turned out that I didn't qualify for the discounted bus pass, and I didn't realize I had to add a locker as a course number. Eeek! I was able to sign up for that, but not get the locker number or combination because it wasn't in the system long enough. So now that I have my official ID, I can apparently get a 10% discount at Kensington Art Supply and free admission to the Glenbow Museum. I hope there are other rewards in store :-)

Here's a pic I snapped while on the tour. The legendary graffiti stairwell at ACAD has been around for decades and will probably be around for decades to come. It's always changing and one picture doesn't do it justice. ACAD actually pays a fee to the fire department because of this stairwell. There are regulations about solvents indoors, and it's just easier to pay the fine than try to stop an old tradition.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Perfection Trap

Perfection is a favourite blogging topic and unfortunately it is all too true and too easily to fall into! Sometimes we're waiting for the perfect time to do something, or the perfect amount of skills or money, the perfect person, the perfect job...the list can go on!

The trouble with the perfection trap is that one spends too much time and energy on making something perfect instead of enjoying the experience. Perfection is a great way to not get things finished either :p Recently I found myself caught up in the perfection trap while painting some mirrors. I bought a bunch of wood mirrors to paint and couldn't decide if I should make one yellow and orange or yellow and brown. The solution was to make both colours!

The orange one gave me a lot of trouble, almost from the start. I bought a shade that I thought would be heavy enough, but it wasn't. It didn't cover the light pencil lines and barely covered the yellow base. I tried adding red to bulk it up. The mixture looked great when wet, but dull when dry. I painted the same areas over and over and then I started to fret about some areas that were starting to look too thick. Ugh!! I was getting frustrated because it wasn't turning out perfect enough. The brown one was much more trouble free, so when the time came to seal it, the orange one was sealed too, warts and all. That way I couldn't work on it anymore!

Bird mirrors

But one has to be kind to themselves. Few people would notice the orange mirror's flaws. And it is a handmade item, not made by a machine. Flaws are inherent, no? And I bet whoever takes the mirror home won't notice at all. The contrast of the colours and the delightful theme outshines the tiny imperfections. The bird silhouette itself is from an imperfect photo of a sparrow I took in Banff in 2009. He was catching flies and moving too fast. I guess that's another reason not to dismiss imperfection so readily :-)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cherry Crunch

I turned on the stove today for the first time in months - it seems most dinners this summer came from the deli or we ate out, which I did not mind at all. It was nice to actually make something and almost complete another goal on my Mission 101 list. The goal is to make five recipes from the Home Christian Cookbook, a tome of 1960s vintage Mennonite recipes. So far I have made Company Casserole, apple cumble, another casserole which I can't quite remember and now cherry crunch, which is actually a little different from the apple crumble. It was good because I was able to "pantry shop" instead of having to buy more ingredients and it was a quick way to use up a bag of frozen berries real fast!

1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp of salt
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup soft butter
3 cups cherries

Mix all but fruit till crumbly. Put 1/2 of the mixture in a greased pan. Pour thickened or ready mix fruit over crumbs. Spread remainder of crumb mixture over top of fruit. Bake 30 minutes at 350. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. (Blueberry, apple or other fruits may be used). Attributed to Mrs. Kenneth Nightengale, Copeland, Kansas.

I took three pictures of the delicious dessert, and couldn't decide which to use, so be sure to check the other two out on Flickr.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Blog Backlog #2 - Clean the basement!

From February to May I undertook a gargantuan task - I cleaned the basement, fully completely, and my husband even got into the spirit by e-cycling some old computers. I can't believe we found 300 cubic square feet of space in our house! Blue cart recycling helped a lot, and I said goodbye to boxes of old magazines! I pared down my craft supplies and well, I'm always proud of the nice stuff that I can give to the Salvation Army. A lot of people see thrift stores as their dumping ground, but an old desk, at least four boxes of clothes and a lot of books and household items have hopefully found a second life. Here's another secret - the less stuff you have, the less time you spend looking after it!

Although I was happy last summer when I cleaned up my art space, I wasn't completely happy with it and found a better arrangement once all that stuff was gone! And naturally I captured it on video for posterity.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Blog Backlog #1 - Third Place!

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! I feel like I have hardly been home with the farmer's market, travelling and when I am home, I'm trying to get through virtual piles of photos. Here's one I couldn't wait to re-take - third prize in the colored pencil and pastel drawings, western theme class at the Calgary Stampede Arts and Crafts Showcase. First place was a more traditional use of pastel, a portrait of a pioneer man. The second was a calf. When you enter, you have no idea if you have won something, so I was just thrilled to get a ribbon! The framing was chosen for me by Studio Todorovic via Ted Harrison Framing in Art Central, Calgary. Of course, big props goes to Jess for the use of Sunny and Sabre's likenesses :-)

What will I do next year? I better think of something quick!! A year seems like a long time, but it really isn't.

Alberta Spirit

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Test post!

I have a new cellphone, a Nexus One which is Google's phone. I just downloaded an app for Blogger.

So this isn't too boring, there had been a break in the rain and I'll actually get to trim the flowerbeds. It's been so long I might need a machete!

I will be at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmer's Market tomorrow too. Shine on, Mr. Sun!

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Third Time's The Charm!

I have so many things to blog about that I really need to get around to writing them all up! My friend Noela Jewelry finally had a nice day at the Farmer's Market. It didn't rain, and the wind kicked up just a bit. I almost wish I had something more sturdy to sell, like things made out of horseshoes! I could have used a few to keep the tablecloth down. Anyway, it was nice to sell a lot more cards and magnets this time. There was also live music too and a lot more produce available than in June.

Here are some pictures my table before the tent arrived. I still don't have a proper picture of's just so easy to get busy with customers and hanging on to stuff. The mirror on the far side is something new for me. If it sells, I may make more. Our next time at the fair is July 21st from 3:30-7:30 at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Centre, so come out and say hi if you can! Or just wave from the interwebs :-)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Writer's Block: Where I Want to Be

Livejournal has a daily writer's block question and sometimes I find they really jog my memory! Today's question is What was your childhood dream? Did you ever accomplish it?

My childhood dream was to be a jockey. I never wanted to be a ballerina or a princess or anything like that. Suffice to say, I haven't achieved that dream despite being short enough - alas, I wouldn't make the weight requirement! The last remnant of that dream faded around Grade 9 or 10. Before my family moved to Calgary, I seriously thought about attending Olds College for their Equine Science or Exercise Rider and Jockey program. Alberta has a thriving horse industry and if the new Balzac racetrack ever gets built, it will have two major racetracks.

But my parents favoured career plans that were more practical and less dirty, so I never did have the encouragement in that area either. I practically grew up at Northlands Park, which was my Dad's way of babysitting us when Mom worked weekends or evenings. It was great, if a little odd - we could run around wherever we wanted, there were always fries after the eighth race and there were horses to watch! There was never a shortage of Dad's friends who doted on my brother and I as well. Like bowling, an afternoon at the racetrack seems like an antiquated hobby.

Naturally, I loved The Black Stallion as well. I wish I could find it, but I have a Grade 1 drawing of me riding The Black. It's such an adorable picture - I love kid's art - but it's a picture I keep finding and losing over the years. The next time I find it, I promise to scan it in!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Still here!

Hi friends, I just wanted to check in :-D I have been travelling a great deal lately and haven't had time to blog properly. I hope everyone is having great weather - summer finally started for us and it's time to get outdoors!

Having said that, the Alberta Etsy Street Team is having a Canada Day team sale! You can check out all the participating shops. If you purchase something from my shop, you'll get a maple leaf magnet!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Profile in Courage?

Rain, paper and outdoor farmer's markets are not the best combination, but all three came together at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmer's Market yesterday for me! At least my friend Nicole, of Noela Jewelry, was able to put her wares on display.

As a Canadian, you can't let the weather control your life. If you end up waiting for the perfect day, you'll just end up becoming a shut-in. We're having a very gloomy, cold summer right now. My wild rose bush is blooming and I just can't enjoy the garden. Anyway, back to Wednesday...

We met up at the community association and I crossed my fingers hoping the rain would stop. Once you got under a tent, it was actually pretty! But then the trick was getting the up! Nicole's husband purchased a Fast Up tent for us and it lived up to its name. We shivered for a few grateful moments under the canopy and then she parked her car closer so we could unpack.

I really couldn't put my cards out. I would rather lose sales than my inventory. The sale started at 3:30 and there were actually customers, even if they were just a few. By 4 I think the rain really picked up and water would occasionally shoot off the canopy. Around 5 it actually stopped, but then the wind picked up :-D After the wind died down, it was just plain cold, and we popped some change into a coffee machine inside the community hall and it actually made some pretty good drinks!

We'll be at the farmer's market again on June 16. Come out and say! The weather has just got to be better then!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Calgary Rock and Gem Show and More

I can't believe how May is flying by! It's a good thing today is Victoria Day, in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday.

The first weekend in May was a busy one for my friends Noela Jewellery and Lisa Redfern. We went to Free Comic Book Day, a local handmade venue called Market Collective and the Calgary Rock and Gem Show all in the space of five or six hours.

Market Collective was really buzzing - there was live music and the place was very busy. I liked the setup for the venue in the old Ant Hill Fabric store. It has two levels, although the upper level was occupied by a community bike program and some art exhibitions. One exhibition felt awkward to walk into - it was like a performance thing and it felt like we had interrupted them. There was a good mix of vendors.

The annual Rock and Gem Show is one of those events that falls into the "someday" category - the timing is never right or I just haven't gone for some reason. This year was my first year and I was amazed by how busy it was. We squeezed into the last remaining spot!
The whole community hall was set up with display cases in the middle and vendor tables around the perimeter. The sheer amount of variety stunned me as we shuffled to look at fossils, gems, rocks and beads. I was determined not to spend money, but found a few things I couldn't resist like a shell nazar (left), some blue beads by Inspire Beads (below) and hematite circles.

I enjoyed handling some of the fossils up close, like nautilus halves and petrified wood. We saw petrified mammoth ivory, which is popular for carvings due to the ivory ban. There were a lot of great artisan pieces there and I wish there was time to see them all. Seriously, it's an all day event! On the other hand, if I had stayed longer, I probably would have spent more :-D

I really should not have been too surprised by the turnout. Geology is a popular occupation here in Calgary due to the oil and gas industry, and we're close to the badlands of Alberta. It was just so nice to see so much enthusiasm for a part of nature not everyone thinks about. I'm not sure what I'll do with my beads yet. Maybe I'll find something to go with them at the Oasis Bead Show in June :-)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Calgary Honkers!

I have been lucky this year to get some Canada geese pictures. Here's an adult I saw near where I took a picture of a whole family down by the Bow River. Click for larger.

And here's the goose family! I really want to upgrade my camera...the 12x zoom is nice, but I want more :-)

Canada Goose Family

You know, timing is everything with birds - they're fast and you have to be in the right place at the right time. I took the family picture on Thursday and the adult on Friday; when I walked by the bridge this morning, I saw just an adult off in the trees. I'm glad I had my camera with me and dawdled on the way to work :-)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sing A Little

This papercutting is based on a photo I took in Banff, July 1st, 2009. My family and I always go to Banff for Canada Day because there's so much going on, and it's free to get into the park. I spotted a male sparrow near the city hall trying to catch flies. I took a series of photos of him, mostly blurry, but two shots came out very clearly - in the one I reference for this drawing, you can see that the fly is just a little blur. I bet sparrows live for days full of tasty flies!

This project wouldn't have been possible without a generous donation to my paper stash by my friend Scott, a fellow schnipster. The silhouette is cut from black handmade paper that is very fibrous and so soft. It was like cutting fabric. Click for a larger view.

Paper ::: 8x10" ::: May 9, 2010

Christine Bennett
Purple Pony Art

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Another one of my hobbies...

Livejournal recently had a Writer's Block question about things people collect...well, as you might have seen from my YouTube videos, I collect model horses. Many people think at first that model horses are like model cars, and while some people do enjoy repositioning, rehairing and repainting models, most of mine are straight out of the box!

In fact, I just unboxed this beautiful silver fella, Esprit, Breyer's 2010 World Equestrian Games model. I only get a couple of new models every year nowadays - with over 300 Breyer and Peter Stone horses, so space is a bit of a premium!

One of the many facets of showing model horses is photo showing. This is where you take pictures of your horse, find a show to enter (either online or snail mail) and wait for the results. They are fun to enter and I used to be really into it! I had a really poor camera though - an Olympus Mini. Now I have a great camera and no enthusiasm for photoshowing. Go figure!

I love Esprit so much that I just had to take some pictures and this one was my favourite.

Etsy Alberta Team Sale!

The Alberta team is having a week long sale from May 1 - May 7. There are over 70 participating shops, including mine, where you'll receive a free magnet of your choice with each purchase.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2010 Christmas Birdhouse

It's always nice to be ahead of the holidays! With the way it's snowing outside, it might as well be Christmas again here in Calgary :-) This picture was languishing on my desk for a while - it was just one of those pictures that needed a half hour's worth of work to complete. It took a lot of effort to do this, since it's always more exciting to start something new :-) Click for larger.

Christmas Birdhouse

PanPastel and Colored Pencil ::: 7x9" ::: April 28, 2010

Christine Bennett
Purple Pony Art

Monday, April 26, 2010

Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo

Another CCEE has come and gone, and this year was definitely the busiest. I remember when my husband and I (two certifiable geeks!) went to the first one in 2005 or 2006 and thought the line up was too long and the place too packed. It started out in the Big Four building at the Stampede grounds and now it seems like the exhibit hall in the BMO Centre is too small! This is an exhibit space that holds a lot of tradeshows, but there was barely any elbow room. We sometimes found ourselves standing in line without any idea of what we were standing in line for!

Saturday was about as much as we could handle. This year was a record-breaker for attendance and we certainly felt it as we shuffled along. I had extra water, trail mix, my camera and a good pair of walking shoes, which was sorely needed by the time we pooped out around 3:30. We dithered about going back for another look around the exhibits and finally decided to go home. Good thing we did, I suppose - rain soon turned to snow.

I'm so glad for the CCEE. It's an event that Calgarians turn out for in droves and it's fun to see so many fans of science fiction and fantasy movies, video games, cartoons, and comics. There is a lot of local talent and I enjoy talking to the different artists, who are only too happy to share about their work or process. I like seeing vintage toys myself. The dedication and devotion that the CCEE staff bring to the event shows in the top special guests it attracts - this year Leonard Nimoy, Brent Spiner and Malcolm MacDowell were among those who people sought a glimpse or autograph from.

Here's to next year!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Surefire Weight Loss Guaranteed!

Lest y'all think my blog was hacked, it's still me, Christine! But I did lose in a single day and here's my secret - the Garbage Good Guys! The truck showed up this morning and the nice young man tossed our mountain of styrofoam, the old barbecue, leftovers from the building of the garage, bags of garbage (our local pick up only seems to take two), an old office chair, a broken power shovel that my husband couldn't fix and other...well, garbage!

It was so good to see it all go, although I wish there was a way to recycle styrofoam residentially. Usually we're pretty good about reusing, recycling and repairing, but some things just had to go. The styrofoam alone took up the same space as two hallway closets, and now I can use that for other things, like art supplies ;-)

Tomorrow is garbage day and I can't wait for our blue cart to be emptied. The blue carts are 65 gallons at least, and when you have a lot of boxes to break down, fills up fast.

I started on a ninth box for the Salvation Army as well. I really want to live with less and live with the things that are more important to me instead, like my husband, my family, my art and my Muffin :-)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What's An ACEO?

I realized that I'm always talking about ACEOs, but I also realized that it must just seem like another Internet acronym to a lot of people! Most of my friends here (*waves*) love ACEOs just as much as I do, so I'll try to demystify them.

ACEO stands for Art Cards, Editions and Originals. Like their sibling the Artist Trading Card, or ATC, they are sized 2.5x3.5" and may be made out of any media. The difference between the two is that ACEOs are sold, while ATCs are traded. Artist Trading Cards came about in the 1990s as part of the mail art movement; I personally discovered them in 2003 when I went to the art college for my first drawing class.

While artists happily trade cards, some people just like to collect them or feel that they might not have any artistic talent to create cards for trade. Personally I love getting cards from people of all artistic ability!

I like to make my art available as prints or originals. If some originals don't sell, I trade them :-) I buy ACEOs too - it's fun to fill up an album or collect a theme, kind of like collecting stamps but more fun.

If you want to learn more about ACEOs or ATCs, there are lots of places on the web! Wikipedia has a nice little list to get started discovering them. And of course, you can also check out the talented ACEO artists of ACEtsy as well!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It's a Purple Pony!

I need a little sign that says "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" because then it would remind me to do more productive things when our wacky weather is behaving nicely! For instance, I should have taken a photo of this ACEO outdoors on Saturday when I had the chance.

I drew it a few weeks ago at an artist trading card get together graciously hosted by Studio Todorovic at Art Central. Originally it was going to be one horse, but I didn't have an eraser, so I thought I would just go ahead and make it two horses in tandem. I used Copic markers for whole card. This line of markers is just wonderful to use, unlike Prismacolors. The nibs are replaceable and they have no odour.

The original card is for sale on Etsy - I do believe it's the first new thing I have listed in a long time!

Purple Pony ACEO

Monday, April 5, 2010

Belated Blogging

Wow, this is overdue! My husband and I went on a spontaneous road trip around Alberta this long weekend and it was so good to get out of town! Actually, this was his first chance at a vacation since the fall - an empty position at work meant that he couldn't take too much time off. It was well deserved :-)

Thanks to Pam's help a looong time ago, I finally added both awards that Marlene has given me! The most recent one is the Sunshine Award.

~Here are the Sunshine Award Guidelines~
1) Please thank the person who gave the award to you. (check!)
2) Copy the award and place it in your blog. (check!)
3) Link back to the person who nominated you. (check!)
4) Name 6 things that no one would really know, about yourself. (check!)
5) Nominate your Sunshine Award bloggers and post links to their blogs. (check!)
6) Leave a comment on each of those blogs letting them know you have nominated them for the Sunshine award. (almost checked!)

Crazy Haberdasher - I love her collection of sewing stuff
Cassie - Angel and Spot
Crafted by Lindy - our energetic Etsy Alberta team leader!
Angela - LemurKat, a prolific ACEO artist
Pat - Images Through An Open Window
Carole - another great photographer!

It's so hard to choose just six, but I wanted to pick people who haven't won the award before :-)

Here are the six things you probably don't know about me:

1. My first camera was an Olympus Mini that I bought with almost all my earnings from working as a food runner at Klondike Days. It was a lot of money for a teenager :-D

2. My first budgie was a hen named Charlie. She was the only hen I ever had. Her middle name was Suzanna :-D

3. I'm a southpaw! And I frequently get left and right mixed up.

4. Collecting toys is a hobby I wish I had more room for :-D I always feel a bit embarrassed about how much I love toys too.

5. I'm an early bird - 7am is sleeping in for me.

6. I love, love, love tea. There is nothing I like better in the morning than milky black tea and some cookies :-)

Monday, March 29, 2010

2010 Easter Cards

Easter is this weekend, and as always, I feel late for this year, early for next year. Some day I'll actually be in sync with the holidays.

The stress of my art portfolio has kind of put me in a creative pit, so I really had to force myself to make some Easter cards, even though they were incredibly simple. Absolutely nothing goes to waste when it comes to paper; a habit ingrained in me by my Grade 6 teacher. "Paper has two sides" she used to tell us, and encouraged us to fill a box with barely used paper. Kids can be pretty wasteful and this was before my hometown, Edmonton, had recycling pick up. Anyway, from my own scrap paper box I soon had a pile of bunnies punched out in spare moments. The next question was, what to do with so many bunnies? Make cards of course!

Easter Card

Easter Card

I tried a few window sizes until I settled on a square one made with a Marvy Uchida Extra Giga punch. I could see making just a purely yellow card on the outside with bunnies too. The possibilities are endless, really, I just have to discover them. Hopefully I can find something just as inspiring in time for Mother's Day :-)

I'm going to start signing my posts with my name btw - I signed up for a Google alert and there's another Purple Pony blog out there! Naturally I want mine to show up too :-) Some day I'll tell you all how I arrived at that name!

Christine Bennett
Purple Pony Art

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Not A Dream!

For many mornings now, I thought I dimly heard a robin calling in the wee hours. Perhaps it was just a wishful subconscious, but nope, yesterday I saw my first robin! She (or he) was hopping around in a barren ash tree not too far from my house. It trilled briefly, and took off. And naturally, I did not have my camera!

I did not have my camera either last week when I left for work late. The unmistakable, carefree toodle-ooh-doo of the house finch made him easy to spot. I think I'm going to be in for an early walk on Saturday morning - one of my photography goals is to get a nice picture of a robin. And if I get a house finch - all the better!

Front yard

It's scenes like my front yard, above, that make me wonder why I live where I do. I have been to Lexington, Memphis and Seattle; half of my heritage is from the Mediterranean. All these places are lush and humid in comparison to ol' dry Alberta. But, if I ever left Alberta, I wouldn't leave the prairies. There's so much I love about them, but I haven't been able to really express the "why". I think this little ditty sums it up nicely though:

Ask why the eagle soars in the air
Or builds so high his craggy nest,
Ask why the fishes love the sea -
Then ask me why I love the West

(attributed to John D. Higenbotham, 1933)

Monday, March 8, 2010

In the mail!

All the little lovebird ACEOs have taken flight :-)

There is another artist trading card meet up this Saturday night - I can't wait to see how that one goes. I bought some new sparkle gel pens, so it sounds like good excuse to do some drawing.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hamburger Luscious

I'm not sure I'll get all my Mission 101 things done by the end of 2010, but here's another one to cross off the list - another hearty recipe from the Christian Home Cook Book. I wanted to make a casserole on Sunday that would make a good leftover on Monday, and casseroles are this book's specialty. After reading it again, I'm not sure we even have a skillet big enough to hold all these ingredients! I easily baked it for about 45 minutes at 350 in the oven.

1 lb hamburger
1 stalk chopped celery
2 cups fine dried noodles
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 lb American cheese, sliced
1 No 2 can of tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp salt

Now this is where the recipe shows its age. I wasn't sure what they meant by fine noodles, so I boiled some penne separately, drained it and placed it in the casserole dish. I didn't know what a number 2 can of tomatoes was either! According to the Internet, a number 2 can equals 20 ounces. I used one 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes and about half a large can of crushed tomatoes (the other half going into Wednesday's dinner) and that seemed tomatoey enough. The rest of the recipe goes:

Brown meat slightly in a skillet, season with salt, pepper and onion. Arrange the remaining ingredients in layers as listed over browned meat. Spring salt and pepper over noodles. Cover, bring to a boil on high heat; then reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Occasionally remove cover and press noodles into the liquid.

It was quite tasty; I didn't know celery could be so flavourful before. That's four recipes from the cookbook I have tried now; one more and I'll be done the goal. My full list can be seen on Livejournal.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Workin' on it!

I seem to be stuck in one those weird cycles...for instance, recently I was at the library, then came home to find an email saying that my book had come back to the library...then my printer ran out of back to the Staples I went!

I noticed that I can seem to post comments on some Blogger blogs, but not others. It's rather annoying. I can't even reply to comments on my blog :-( It doesn't matter if I'm using Internet Explorer or Firefox, I can't see the comment text box. So Marlene and Carole, I have been reading your posts :-) And thanks for your kind wishes on my acceptance at ACAD :-) I'm still tickled.

Anyhow, now that my printer is all topped up, I'm working on getting the lovebird prizes out. If you haven't heard from me yet, you will soon :-) The cards look super nice - I retook the photos of the originals when we had some rare sun the other day, so I had to update all my templates. My work is never done :-)

Monday, February 15, 2010

And there was much rejoicing!

Hi friends! I hope everyone had a lovely Valentine's Day, and if you're in Alberta, I hope you're enjoying the Family Day long weekend. Same for my American friends!

Thanks to everyone who entered the Valentine's Lovebird contest, and the well wishes for my portfolio. It really seemed to help! On Friday, I found out I had been provisionally accepted after going to the Portfolio Day on February 6th. This means that I don't need to actually submit a portfolio because they liked what they saw already. I'm so excited! It's been hard to wait for Tuesday when I can call and make my application deposit. And now I don't have to fret about finishing 6-9 more large pictures by April.

Now, the news I'm sure you've ALL been waiting for...I wanted to share my joy in being accepted into art college that I decided to make everyone that commented before the deadline a winner! Where would I be without the love and support of my online and offline friends? Give yourselves a pat on the back and let me know which ACEO lovebird you would like by emailing me along with your snail mail address :-)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Love is in the air!

And because I love all my visitors so much, I'm having a little giveaway for February! Just make a comment on this post from February 1st to midnight on February 13. On February 14th, I'll pick a winner from the comments.

This is likely to be my only post for the first half of February - I'm having a mild panic over my college entrance portfolio, so don't worry about commenting on the wrong post. And what can you win? Your choice of one of the ACEOs below, along with matching stickers and notecard. They are also available on Etsy.

But wait!! There's more!! My ACEO pals are also having similar contests - visit Marlene, Kathy and Pam are all having their own little contests too. Rules may vary, so read carefully, and good luck!!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

My First ATC Night!

Here in Calgary we have a great building called Art Central, which is home to a host of different art shops, artisans, a flower store, a restaurant and a coffee shop among other things. When I first moved to Calgary in 1994, the building that Art Central now occupies had at least two bars and who knows else what! The building was deteriorating and it was the perfect spot and time to be reborn into something better. If I recall right, Calgary actually has a shortage of affordable art space.

Anyhow, I made it down to The New Gallery last night, where they have Artist Trading Card nights on the last Saturday of every month. I was kind of nervous - how many people would be there? Would I have enough cards? What if they weren't my kind of crowd?

Fortunately everything worked out and I came home with some nice trades. People were really eager to trade, it was almost competitive. People arrived with these huge binders of cards and they got passed around like high school yearbooks. I had only about seven cards to trade and I whipped up two on the spot.

I'll have to get myself a big binder now - and I noticed people trading photo ACEOs as well as prints, so I'll have to do that for next time. It was a little embarrasing to run out of things to trade!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Almost forgot...

If I don't write things down and cross them off, they often go into the void! I wrote a book review for the Etsy Alberta Team Blog. Check it out, as well as the talents of my fellow Albertans!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Workin' on it

I read an article online that today is "Blue Monday", which is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. Today was a bummer, but mostly due to a long company wide meeting in the afternoon. After sitting for two hours in a dark theatre, I was quite ready to go back outside again or take a nap.

Apparently by now a lot of New Year's goals are abandoned as well - and personally I can't believe it's January 18th already! Whoa! Put the brakes on 2010 someone! So far I'm doing really good with one of my Mission 101 goals, which is to make Sundays truly a day of rest. I resisted the urge to vacuum and my sole housework was cleaning the bird cage. I went to the Alliance church behind our house and enjoyed a very thoughtful sermon on faith and good works (as opposed to just good works or faith), then I played cards with our neighbours and later my husband joined us for dinner. A blessed, relaxing day indeed!

Whatever you do though, we all need a day of rest, whether it's on a Sunday or Monday or other day of the week. That was one of the lessons I took from a book called How Did I Get So Busy? by Valorie Burton which I highly recommend. When you get too busy, you start ignoring not only your own physical and spiritual needs, but those of others too. Burton is a warm and sincere author whose gentle advice can put anyone back on the right track for what matters most to them. I have read many a book about "getting things done" but she's the first to address the whole person, not just how many things you can cross off a list :-)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas 2009

For the past few years I looked forward to buying birdhouse ornaments from one of my favourite crafters. This picture and 2010's are inspired by two of them. As much as I enjoyed doing the Christmas horses, I ran out of ideas for them. My mistake though with the two pictures was not focusing closer in on the birdhouses - they are 7x9" and there's a few inches of pine tree around them. That will be cropped out for both. 2010's is half done - it's going to be a little more on the brown side.

2009 Christmas picture

PanPastel and Colored Pencil ::: 7x9" ::: January 3, 2010

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Big yellow horse coming through!

Until spring rolls around, this is the best picture I can get. The distortion I was going for didn't quite happen, and the pose is almost more of an homage to Geroge Stubb's "Whistlejacket" but I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. Painting "loose" or "different" is not usually something I do :-)

Big Yellow Horse Painting

Acrylic ::: 24x24" ::: December 29, 2009