A New Look

Well after thinking about it for days, I decided to whip up a new look for my blog.  I'm not finished yet but things are moving along.

I must have gone through every template in Blogger's new template designer and still couldn't find what I really wanted! LOL  So I fired up my graphics program and started playing.  I love these colours... they are my favourites... and I hope you find this new look pleasing.

BTW the new template designer is much slicker than the old one... give it a try!  And, for those of you on Blogger who want to remove the navigation bar from the top of the page, here's how you do it:

Go to your html editor.  Download your template before you make any changes. Scroll down the html until you come to the "variables".  Right before this, put in this code:

#navbar-iframe {
   display: none !important;

Save your page and when you view it, the bar should be gone.
Hope you find this useful...


Why Do You Blog?

And a Happy TGIF to ya'll

This past week, I had the opportunity of answering some stimulating interview questions about why I blog. 

In this post, I'd like to share my answers with you and challenge you, if you happen to be an "artsy, fartsy" blogger like me who has a tendency to pooh pooh such exercises (a passive resistant way of avoiding being "nailed to the wall" with our answers LOL.  The fact is, once you know something definitively, you can't undue it so delay, delay, delay ) to answer them for yourself and perhaps share them with your blog readers too if you feel comfortable doing so. Another option is to send them to me by private email and we could chat about your insights between ourselves!

I know that some of you would like to blog but have hesitated setting a blog up.  Perhaps out of a fear of some kind (i.e. I am not a writer, I haven't got anything to share. et cetera...you know all the stuff we think we aren't good at) or because you aren't really sure what you want your blog to be about.  I'd like to challenge you to mull these questions over and answer them for yourself.  Wouldn't it be cool to get some clarity that could move you forward towards a blog of your own?

Personally, I found the exercise to be quite thought provoking and insightful.  It made me really think about what my blog was all about and what I had to offer readers.  As I thought about and answered the questions as truthfully as I could, I was struck by the depth of my passion to have this blog be a place where you can come to relax, enjoy and learn in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie.  There is a part of me that has always known that but WOW it really struck home as I answered the questions on paper!  Simple as the questions may seem, answering them has filled me with happy juice and inspired me beyond words. So without any further fanfare... here are the questions and my answers!
How would you describe your blog?

MyStoryART is a delightful, eclectic blog that passionately shares with readers and listeners, wisdom tales and art adventures in mixed media, digital collage,  polymer clay, assemblages, jewelry, tutorials, thrifty art tips and techniques.

Describe the purpose of your blogging, what are you trying to accomplish?

Share my knowledge, improve my writing skills, encourage others, be a positive light in the world, have fun yakking about stuff (like art and creating) I enjoy with like minded folks from around the globe.

What blogging platform do you do and why?

What the heck is a blogging platform?  Techie talk I guess LOL.  I use Google Blogger because it is an easy way for folks like me who are "technically challenged" to do our blogging thing.

What do you blog the most about?

Oh my gosh... that's a tough question!  I guess whatever strikes me as relevant for my readers when it's time to write. I write about my experiences in "doing" art, passing along knowledge I have gained or tips I have discovered that may be helpful/useful to my blog readers.  I share the fruits of my "fun" labour through show and tell and encourage interaction through contests and giveaways.  I seek out wisdom tales and stories "with a point" and record these for my blog.  This is my way of sharing my love of and for storytelling and demonstrating to my adult audience that stories are not just for kids!

What kind of blogs annoy you?

Blogs that use foul language. are "mean spirited" or appear "stingy".  Blogs that are not well written, designed or are just downright boring.  Bloggers who just slap a bunch of words together in a post without much forethought. Blogs that are pushy or "sneaky" in their "reason for being" (i.e. backhanded sales pitches).  Blogs that overpromise and underdeliver!

Now let's talk about blogs that use blinkies or are too cluttered.  They annoy me to no end and make me very cranky.  LOL

Blogs that have ads that pop up and cover what you are trying to read will lose me in the blink of an eye! (Pun intended) I don't care how good their information might be... I'm outa there before you can count to 10.

Give five of your best blogging tips.

* speak from your heart
* write as if you were talking to a good friend
* share photos of your "work"
* say thank you to your readers for their support
* be open, honest, upbeat, human ... don't be afraid to share your mistakes

What are some things you would NEVER blog about?

family/personal issues/problems, gossip, in depth details about "living" relatives, friends, children, grandchildren, political and/or religious views and affiliations are just a few that I can think of off the top of my head.

Did you start blogging for the purpose of making money and if so, are you making enough?

I started blogging to improve my writing and share my art, ideas and knowledge with others.  I want to continue doing this plus gently moving into offering select art pieces, jewelry and digital "hands on" art tutorials and designs that I enjoy creating for sale to my readers.  This would be a wonderful way for me to share my "creations" with an appreciative audience and earn some $$$ to support my "art addiction" LOL and defray some of the blog/web presence expenses.  

How long have you been blogging?

Since the late summer of 2008.

About how many hours  do you spend blogging?

I usually try to post at least once a week.  I spend a full day beforehand getting my post together.  Blogging every day would take too much time away from my personal, family, day job obligations as well as other interests that are important to me.

What promotional techniques work best for you and why?

I have found that I get good responses to contests and giveaways.  People seem to like the opportunity to get "something" for free or have a chance at winning a prize.  I try to give away stuff that a winner can easily download from my site but I also give away "stuff" I have made myself. Why?  Well I do it for the pure joy of giving something to someone who will appreciate it and the work/time that went into creating the "treasure". 

Because I don't make any money from my blog, I don't do this as often as I might like to.  The production and mailing costs for these "giveaways" comes directly out of my personal "art budget" mad money.  In order to continue doing this and perhaps even increase the frequency, the free "giveaways" are becoming an incentive for me to begin selling some of my "creations". This could support me in having a way to pay for the expense of maintaining the kind of blog I'd like to have.

I also participate as much as my time can allow in online art groups I belong to, many of which allow posting a brief notice for blog updates.  It's great to be able to do this...and I appreciate the generosity of the group owners who do allow this.  It's kinda like asking your "art friends" that you hang out with to come round for a latte and have a peek at your latest creations.

Lately, I have been seeking out blog directories to get listed in.  It suddenly dawned on me (duh!!) that arts and craft enthusiasts in the world can't drop by for a blog visit if they don't know that my blog even exists or what the "street" address is.  Blog Directories are like the "Yellow Pages"...they let your fingers do the walking and it's up to the blogger to do the talkin'!

What mistakes have you made that you could warn others about?

I haven't really stepped into any big cow flops so far... at least none that I know about! 

Keeping a blog current has turned out to be much more time consuming than I originally thought it would be.  Writing soaks up a lot of my time.  I want to write well.  I think my readers deserve that.  I want to have a quality conversation with them at least 90% of the time about something that goes beyond idle chit chat.  I'm just not a chit chat person!  But I have discovered that good wordsmithing doesn't come all that easily for me. It's not unusual for me to labour over a  blog entry for the most part of a day.  Good thing I find the end result rewarding or I would have given up the idea of blogging a long time ago!

Then there are those times when I don't feel stuck about what to write, I just know I want to write but it just isn't coming to me.  I have a list of "stuff" I am interested in writing about but it doesn't seem to do much good at those times.  It's kinda like that itch you have and you are darned if you can get at it to give it a good scratch! LOL

Have you met anyone offline as a result of your blog?

Yes I have. Folks who live in my area seek me out as a result of visiting my blog or I "happen" to meet them at art shows, gatherings or local events.  They generally know who I am.  It's interesting getting to know who they are! I have often found that we have much more in common than either of us would have initially thought.  Birds of a feather do tend to flock together!

I often get to meet blog readers who attend art/storytelling courses or festivals in Canada and the U.S. that I go to.  It's a fun, surprising experience.  Many times, when I have introduced myself, someone will inevitably come up to me and say "Oh, I know you.  I read your blog. Gosh, you talk just like you write!".

I have met long time blog readers/followers that I have corresponded with over time (kinda like the "far away" pen pals I had as a kid) who come to our city on vacation/holidays.  We will often meet for coffee and a delightful chat ensues about art, life, hopes and dreams!  How cool is that?

How can blog readers show their support for bloggers?

1. Be appreciative of the blogger's time spent and effort invested in their posts. Take a few minutes of your time to leave an encouraging/positive/praise comment on their post.  Let them know you are out there.
2. Remember your manners and say thank you for "free" stuff from the blogger!  Leave a thank you comment on their blog or send them a private "thank you" email.  They will appreciate it more than you know.
3. If you like the blog, tell your friends and give them the link.  If you don't, keep it to yourself and find one that you do.  As mama always said:  "If you can't find something nice to say, don't.  Move on."  Good advice to remember.
4. The majority of bloggers I know are givers. They like to share. They are sincere. Even though you may have heard along the way that some bloggers blog mainly for themselves and don't need praise... give it to them anyway.   A sincere word or two of praise and appreciation makes anyone feel good and goes a long way to creating the kinder, gentler, more gracious world the vast majority of us humans would like to live in.

This blogger would like to say thank you to you... for visiting my blog and being one of my readers!  This blog wouldn't exist for very long if you didn't stop by for a visit...

Have a great weekend everyone,

Giveaway winners & more art...

Oh my gosh what fun I had reading all the comments for the names of the "party line" ladies!  Thanks to Cindy Powell for sparking my imaginations with the idea of what to call them.  I am definitely going to make more of them (I gotta do something with that cane... it's nearly a foot long!).  Look for more ladies in the future (maybe even a story huh???)

I decided that I would add the ladies to the giveaways (they are pins but you could make them into pendants) as a bonus for all of you who were so kind as to play along in the "naming" of these ladies. 

I chose the winning names by random number generator.  Drum roll, please...

The winner of the raku rattle bead pendant is JANENE!
 Janene is someone who wakes up in the morning thinking about art (oh boy can I relate) and her altered books attest to that fact.  You just have to go and see them... they are wonderful!  You can see them here.

The winner of the "Button Lady" is SUSAN KUNZE. 
Susan makes the most amazing jewelry from wire.  Drop by her blog for a peek at some of her necklaces!

The winner of the "Girlfriends" is DEBBIE HOUSE
Debbie is a very talented artist, a kind hearted and thoughtful soul  and  one of the Group Mamas for the Yahoo group, Inchies - 1x1.  We aren't related but Debbie is the one who really turned me on to inchies.  She makes the most delightful mini wonders of art!

Congratulations ladies!  And a BIG thank you to all of you who took up the challenge and played by leaving comments.  What great names you all came up with... I'll be sure to use them to name more "party line" ladies!

Winners... please send me an email with your snail mail addresses so I can get your winnings out to you at the beginning of next week.


Have you ever bit off more than you can chew?  I sure did this week... I forgot that I had to sleep, run errands, make meals and at the very least, clean the bathrooms!  Needless to say I didn't get as much art done as I had originally planned.  But oh my, I am feeling so much better... the art ache has gone away and I am filled up with "happy juice" again. 

Here's a photo of the raku bead that I made last weekend at the clay playdate with three of my claying buddies... Janet, Wanda and Barb.  It was such a fun day and I love getting together with others to play.

Here's a photo of an image transfer pin I made out of clay to wear with a green print outfit I have that has a jacket with a mandarin neckline.  It turned out even better than I had imagined it would.

I was pleased as punch when I saw the results for the pendant and earring set below.  This was the first time I had tried painting on black clay with metallic paints, adding gold leaf to the clay slab, stamping it and then rolling it out until the gold leaf crackled.  It's not quite finished... needs to be buffed.. but I am thrilled it turned out so well.  I think I am getting the hang of playing with clay...

So thanks everyone for stopping by, playing along with me and leaving such delightful comments!

A very full weekend is coming up... it's the Canadian Navy's 100th birthday.  There are so many fun things lined up to do this weekend at my favourite beach!    I went down yesterday for a sneak peek at all the ships in the harbour.  What a sight it is! Ships from all over the world who have come to celebrate with us.  The U.S. Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier has to be the largest ship I have ever seen.  The size of it absolutely boggles the mind!

Tonight we are going out with friends to do something fun and special.  Our friend Bob is a tugboat captain and along with his crew has invited a bunch of friends to go out into the harbour to watch the fireworks tonight.  It's not every day that one gets to go on one of the tugboats that work in our harbour!  Dress warmly, in layers and be prepared to have a great time are the orders for the evening LOL...

Tomorrow is a full day of celebration at my favourite beach that houses the Fisgard Lighthouse (built in 1860) and Fort Rodd Hill (which is at the entrance to Esquimalt Harbour).  Along with tons of activities, one of the highlights will be an airshow with my favourite pilots, The Canadian Snowbirds!  I just love watching them swoop through the sky...

Have a great weekend everyone.  See you next week.


Having Too Much Fun...

Is there such a thing?  If so, I am wallowing in it!  I have been so art deprived these past couple of months that I am making up for it BIG TIME this week.

Sewing is still a little difficult since my eye operation... the close up work gives me a headache rather quickly... so I had to find something else to fill me up with "happy juice".  I decided that I would play with my clay... and get the "celebration giveaway" for this week finished up while I was at it.

I have hesitated *forever* in trying to make a face cane.  I wasn't sure how to go about it and didn't have a clue as to how it would turn out.  I found some instructions in one of my clay books and decided to take the plunge.  It took me forever to put it together (like most of the day!) and get it reduced.  Well what a laugh I had when I finally got it done... it was so ugly, it was darn near cute! 

"OMG what am I going to do with this big,  fat, homely cane?" I mused to myself.  "Well let's see if I can dress it up..."

The "ButtonLady" below was fitted with a black "wig" (with a few strands of gray) and a button bonnet with a bow.  I keeled over laughing... what a "honker" she has!  Mouthy too.  LOL. Well, she just had to have some friends, so I took a piece of the cane, reduced it down and made her some "girlfriends" to have "heart to heart" chats with.  The more I look at them, the more I smile!  I am beginning to like them... they are just so "real".   Go figure...

They need some names.  Got any ideas?  One of the girlfriends is definitely a "Shirley"!  Don't ask me why... I haven't got a clue... she is just a "Shirley"!  Can you guess which one it is? 

Let's have some fun.  Leave a comment with your name ideas for these lovely ladies and I'll throw your name in the hat for the "Celebration Giveaway" to be drawn this Friday.  If you left a comment on the previous post announcing the "giveaway", here's you chance to get your name in twice!

Which brings me to... a photo of the (finally) finished "Giveaway"!  I had something else in mind when I first announced the giveaway but then I got together with three of my clay buddies last weekend for a "clay play day" to make raku lentil bead pendants.  Well, I just had to make another one.  It turned out so nicely that I decided it was the perfect gift for the giveaway draw. 

We all forgot to put seed beads in our beads on the weekend but I didn't forget them when I made this one.  It has tiny beads inside and when you shake it, it has a very gentle rattle.  It actually has more texture on it than is showing in the photo... you know me, I'm not that great a photographer... but trust me, there is!

So there you have it!  Help me name those ladies (leave your comment below) then check back on Friday (June 11) to see if you are the winner.  I'll show you some more "stuff" that should be finished by then too.

Chat with you on Friday...