Working Artists

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about how Myla wanted to be a “real artist” and make people happy with artwork.  Although I assured her that she already WAS a “real artist,” we took on ten commissions, and I thought I’d post on how they were going.

First off, I start by drawing a head from the pictures that were sent.  I keep it pretty straightforward, and try to keep it fairly simple.  Next, when she’s looking for a fun project to work on, I’ll ask if she’d like to start on some of the custom portraits…two words she had previously not known, but is now quite familiar with.

From the emails the client sent, I would tell her a little about the person.  “they call him a wiggle-worm, they love garden scenes, and his favorite toy is rainbow-colored.”  So she drew the little baby as a rainbow-colored caterpillar, watering his garden, with an ant peeking in on him…

caterpillar

Or: “they call her ‘Princess Batman,” and her favorite animal is a fox.”  She drew the girl as a fox with bat-wings and a crown, carrying a space helmet in her hand.  Maybe a little literal, but fun nonetheless…

princess batman

Or: “He had a pirate wedding, and he loves Star Wars and space.” So she drew him as a space pirate, with a light saber and Solo’s blaster, in a great battle with an alien on Jupiter, who’s chucking knives at him…

space pirate

And there was this one, who loved magical creatures, like unicorns, mermaids, and whales…so she drew her as a whale-hugging merm-i-corn. (That’s a word, right?)  If you look carefully, you’ll notice her torso is actually made of unicorn hair…because she wanted to make sure the unicorn had a bit of the spotlight, as well…

mermicorn

With this one, I said, “she loves magical things, like fairies and moths, and she collects coffee cups.”  …So she drew her as a luna moth fairy–with teensy weensy itty bitty coffee cups in her hand, and decorating her hair…

fairy

Thankfully, so many people were up for letting us use our creativity, and being open to whatever came out.  Myla LOVED the “portrait assignments.”  She loved having a little prompt.  And having someone list an idea of what they have in mind for their portrait has actually become a GOOD exercise for her in limitations.

She really loves to tell little stories with her drawings, (as with the space pirate above, and the gnome fairy below), but I have to remind her that they still want it to be a portrait of someone they love, so maybe hold back a smidge of the wildness a little, so that everyone’s happy.

gnome

At first, it feels like I’m limiting her creativity, which is something I was very wary of, and worried about early on…But actually, I’m finding it to be a very GOOD practice for her–to be able to work on something for someone else within certain parameters and still have fun with it.  I think this is something that will come in handy in whatever job field she chooses, and is especially helpful if she chooses to be a working artist.

It feels like she’s kind of like a pinball in a pinball machine–she gets to bounce around a bit, but she still has a basic path.  And that’s good.

dog

So we’re waiting to finish the last three…in the meantime, we may have more in the future; I’ll be sure to post if we do!  I don’t want to overwhelm her.  I have asked her every step of the way if it’s fun…if it’s a challenge…if it’s something she enjoys…and so far, it’s been a resounding yes.  She is six going on 36, and she is excited to be making people smile.  She wants to do lots of things, and she wants to make people happy with her art.

For now, I guess I’m pretty okay with that.  :)

 

Crazy Doll Lady

IMG_3859

It’s been awhile since I posted about playing with dolls

Back then, I was customizing a Blythe and some Monster High dolls, along with “tattooing” some blank bodies that my friend Aletta (from theFoxyToyBox) let me play with.

(So I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared all the doll customs I played around with.  I feel like I’ve shared them before, but a rudimentary search shows only my initial post.  Considering I’ve been doing this blog a few years now, I don’t THINK I’m repeating…I try REEALLY hard not to repeat.  (But if I do, in fact, repeat, please just consider it an old friend coming to say hello again…)…)

Awhile back, my friend Aletta sent these old used dolls for me to play with, and I took the opportunity to repaint them using all the skillful skills I learned from the magical world of Pinterest.

IMG_3955

IMG_3956

IMG_5044If you want to paint on Monster High dolls, trust me–I’m not the best one to learn from, because there are people who are WAY better pro at it than me.  But I wiped off their paint with nail polish remover (I describe my wonky process here), painted in acrylics, and sealed with with Testors spray varnish to protect the plastic without leaving it sticky.  And OMGosh they were so much fun.

I got little wigs in Etsy shops, because I am weird like that.  And because they’re GORGEOUS.  You pretty much just cut off their store-hair and glue on the lovely wigs, and BOOM–magic.

lizard girl

Ages ago, I bought a Bigfoot Monster High doll to repaint (because I couldn’t pass up those HUGE feet and hairy legs).  I repainted her, paying lots of detail to that hair, and found a wig that matched her perfectly.  I even contacted the wigmaker on etsy, asking if she could send a little extra scrap fur to put around her, which she kindly did.  So here she is, with her little mini skirt of hair:

bigfoot

I tried to put her in that bigfoot hunched pose from “real” Bigfoot photos, but Monster High dolls are a little too poised to hunch.  But lookit that fantastic leg stubble!  Hahah

IMG_4197

IMG_4202

Even one doll (which Myla asked me to keep unpainted) was missing an arm, and she asked if I could build her one (because I can apparently do anything).  I asked if it could be a robot arm, and she said, “of COURSE!”  So a few electronic bits later, and I was able to hot-glue a fairly decent “robotic” appendage, which Myla was VERY happy with.

IMG_4186

IMG_4184

What’s funny, is that my occasional interest in repainting dolls has inspired our 6-year old to attempt to get me to buy her new Monster High dolls.  “MOM!  Can we please get it if I promise to PAINT it???”  Usually our rule is that if I let her get something, she can pick a PROJECT, not just a toy.  Which is why she tries, at times, to get me to buy new dolls.  It’s tempting, really, considering our thrift stores here don’t HAVE any used ones, and holy cow, one time I saw a LUNA MOTH Monster High doll that even I wanted to repaint!!   But I have to use restraint–they’re expensive after awhile, and we can’t just go buy toys for no reason (at least not once you become a parent) so I don’t really allow it.

But they ARE fun….IMG_5041

Anyway, I’ll share more of how our custom collaborations are going next week–Myla is having lots of fun with them!  For now, have a great rest of the week!   :)

 

Custom Collaborations!?

If you’ve follow this blog for awhile, you may already be familiar with the collaborations Myla and I did when she was four…

outer face

Back then, lots of people asked if we’d do custom collaborations–where maybe they could send photos for me to draw from, and have Myla draw the bodies.  LOTS. of. people.  I mean, TONS of people.  I mean, so many that it was overwhelming.

I always said no.  I wasn’t trying to be rude or elitist, but the most important thing to me was that our daughter have FUN drawing.  I didn’t want it to be a JOB at age four.   I was so overwhelmed with requests that it would’ve been impossible to have her do them at age four and still make it fun…especially since people asked for specifics:  a bird, a donkey, a bear.  Can you imagine making a 4 year old sit down and do custom orders?  While it sounds like it would’ve been nice, I assure you, it would’ve been impossible.  And exhausting.  And most importantly, it wouldn’t have been fun.

But now Myla is six, and wants to “be a grownup.”  Despite my convincing her to stay a kid forever (because being a grownup stinks big time), she still wants to do big-kid things.  One of those things, surprisingly, has involved the desire to do custom drawings.

When we ran the Kickstarter to print a book of our collected work (which you can get here, by the way) I offered as one reward level a hand drawn portrait (by me) onto a pre-printed drawing of Myla’s, which was my alternative solution, aside from trying to make her do them all by hand, and still allowed me to give people a portrait that would make them smile.

custom portraits.jpg

So she asked me the other day why I never let her do custom pieces…and I told her all of the above.  She’s seen me do custom portraits for people, and didn’t realize I had never allowed it when she was younger.

“But I’m older now,” she said.  “And I know I could do it.”

“The thing about custom work is that you have to draw what people WANT you to draw.  And I always just wanted you to draw whatever made you happy.”

“But now I can do that.  I can draw what people ask.”

“They might say they like turtles, and you might feel like drawing robots.”

“But I know I can do it.  Now I want to make OTHER people happy.”  (Which is funny, because that’s my favorite part of custom portraits, as well.)  “So maybe if that happens, I could do a robot-turtle” (which sounds awesome, actually).

So there it is.  That’s where we are.

I told her we’d try it.  So here we go:  I’m only starting with five, in my Etsy shop, so please have a look!   For the first time ever!  And not for very long.   Once you purchase a portrait, you can send me reference photos for a single face, and maybe tell me something that person is into…and I’ll do my best to steer the kiddo in that direction for her part.

So If you’re up for an interesting portrait and you’ve got wiggle room for a 6-year old’s creativity, combined with my illustrations, we’d love to make you happy!  :)

UPDATE:  WOW those five sold out in the first ten minutes!  I added five more, but that’s probably all I’ll add for now, until I see how she handles these.  Maybe if she has fun with them, we’ll offer a few more.  Thank you so much for all your support.  :)

UPDATE UPDATE:  Sold out!  Sorry…  If she enjoys doing these, we may offer them again sometime!  Thanks!

Blast from the past:  So cute!!  Wonderful reader Laurie reminded me of one of the VERY few portraits we did when Myla was four, as a prize for a creative contest we ran on the blog ages ago.  Here are the bluebirds Myla turned her and her daughter into:

img047-e

 

Sick

IMG_9425

This has been one fun past week, lemme tell ya.

First off, I should explain that I have some back condition called “ankylosing spondylitis.”  It’s a really fun thing, because after 12 years of medications, injections, and infusions, no one can seem to figure out how to treat it.  It’ll be fine for MONTHS and months, and then BOOM–pain and spasms so bad I can’t walk. 

Last weekend, with a bit of a painful limp, I was determined to take Myla out & about.  We drove to the Waco Zoo, but by the time I got there, I could barely walk, and decided it’d be easier to push around in one of the courtesy wheelchairs. We looked a mess:  Me, with Myla on my lap at times, rolling around to all the exhibits.  I got out on the uphill slopes and slowly limped my way up, pushing Myla in the chair.  When I was feeling wobbly, Myla would offer me her shoulder to hold onto for balance.  “Just hold my shoulder, Mom.”  Several of the exhibits were closed because it was actually COLD in Texas for once, but we made the best of it, and had a good time anyway.

EXCEPT that by the time we got home, I had spasms so bad I was in tears and could barely walk.  Thank goodness my mom was 8 hours away, and was able to drive down and help take care of us (Thanks, Mom!).  After many appointments, much medication and rest, I’m pretty much back to my normal level of constant discomfort.

So THIS weekend, Myla built a backpack fairy machine.  Like you do.  It was made out of a cardboard box, a milk jug, and lots of duct tape.

IMG_9704

And then she came right inside, spiked a fever of 101, and wanted to go to bed.

So we’ve spent this long weekend at home, pretty much on the couch, bringing down a fever and binge-watching kid’s movies.

At some point this weekend, she drew this picture of me, with a cane and a thermometer, taking care of her, sick in bed.  I sent my husband the picture (he’s deployed), and he noticed, “she sees you’re in pain, but that you’re still taking care of her.”  Which was awesome, because that’s exactly the way it was. (And at least she drew me with a smile, instead of wincing in pain).

IMG_9823

Having a sick kid does not always mean they’re just asleep on the couch–she really tried very hard to entertain herself with paper projects, mostly related to whatever movies we watched.

FullSizeRender-1

Despite fighting a fever and sucking on cough drops, she kept VERY busy with scissors, paper, and tape.  ALL WEEKEND.

IMG_9782

It’s actually a little hard to keep up with–she built an entire petting zoo (complete with pteranadons, ducks, and baby otters) out of paper and tape.  And after we watched the newest Goosebumps movie (admittedly an odd choice for her), she started making books with latches, and the creatures that come out of them….like this floating demon-poodle:

FullSizeRender-2

In any case, we’re nearly back to normal!  Just trying to get back on our feet…in some ways, literally.  That whole thing about taking care of yourself so you can take care of others?  That stuff’s true.  In my attempt to care for Myla and get out to the zoo for something to do, I ignored my own pain and injured myself further, when I should’ve just taken it easy.  I’m not a “take it easy” kind of person, so that’s pretty hard for me to do.

I could take a lesson from Myla, though (as I often do), by just accepting it, relaxing, and making the most of it with art projects.  On the couch binge-watching movies if I have to.  It’s often hard for me to tell when “pushing it” will help or hurt (especially with the “push through the pain” army mentality I’ve got ingrained in me).  In any case, we’re finally on the mend now!  So we’re going to take it a little easy this week…which is going to be better for us in the long run, I’m sure.

So from us to you, take care of yourselves!

 

Imaginary Monsters

“Mom, are mermaids real?”  Well, no one’s ever really seen proof of a mermaid.  “But they COULD be real.”  I suppose they could, but so far nobody has found proof, so we can’t say for sure.  “Well they’re real, I know they are.  Oceans are deep, maybe they just haven’t found any proof yet.”  …Okay.

Myla is six, and believes in EVERYTHING.  I know this because she told me so.  “All that stuff that’s not real–I believe in it.”  She doesn’t have any interest in the burden of proof.  If she wants to, she just believes.  She CHOOSES to.  And who am I to tell her she’s right or wrong?

I read a statistic from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association that the ocean “covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contains 97 percent of the planet’s water, yet more than 95 percent of the underwater world remains unexplored.”  Can you IMAGINE?  97 percent of the oceans on our earth are UNEXPLORED!  In our people-filled world, it seems odd to think of places of the world humans haven’t touched, but with stats like that, it’s absolutely, 100 percent possible.

stuff myla says-i believe

So Myla believes in everything.  We once built a little gnome house, and found tiny muddy footprints from the yard (I may or may not admit to being responsible for those).

feet

My favorite thing to do with Myla is to take walks through the woods.  When I was younger and my dad was stationed in Germany, my family always took long walks through the woods.  My dad would bring dental floss and build gnome bridges with twigs across little streams.  My sister and I would pretend we could see gnome houses in the knots in the trees, and we’d have stick-sword fights.  I have lots of wonderful memories from inside the forest.

So on the first day of the new year, I took Myla on a hike.  She found a muddy footprint.  “It’s proof!  A yeti was here!”  Hm.  I don’t know, there’s a dog paw print next to it… “Nope, it’s a yeti.  Maybe he has a dog that’s a friend.”  Okay.

(She also believes she can fly…but only for very short moments, when she jumps from one place to another.)

There were broken twigs on the ground.  Fairy bones!  And broken rocks, which everyone knows that forest creatures eat. We obviously were treading on what once was the site of a huge fairy battle.

We passed some people going off on a hike of their own.  “Hi there!  We found yeti footprints!” Myla shouted to them.  Smiling politely, they scurried awkwardly away.  This did not phase my girl in the slightest.

When we got home, I was looking at some of the photos I took on our walk, and printed some of them.  Looking closely, I decided to draw in and paint an imaginary monster onto this one of a stream crossing–because even though he didn’t show up in pictures, I’m almost certain he was there.

1

There was another of her looking at the forest in a clearing, and I was sure this creature was there, too.

3I went back and looked at some of the photos we took over break, from the woods near where my grandma used to live.

2

They were there, too.  I just needed to paint them in.

4

I’ve always been one for proof and logic, which is why it’s so wonderful to see her believe whatever she wants, to see through her imagination.  She’s not an infant, I’m sure somewhere she doesn’t REALLY think they exist…but none of that matters to her.   It’s more FUN for her to believe.  The world is more beautiful and interesting that way.  She chooses to believe them, so they are.

We’ve had extensive conversation about gnomes and dwarves, fairies and mermaids, the loch ness monster…and god.  My answer to all of these when she asks, is that if you truly believe in them, no one can tell you it’s wrong.  No one should make you feel bad for what you believe in, even if it’s completely different than what they believe.  And if someone believes differently than you do, that’s okay too.  There’s no need to argue about it.  There’s no need to pressure them to believe what you believe.  Someone believing differently doesn’t threaten your own belief, so there’s no need to disagree.  You believe what you believe, and no one can take that away.

Bugs and the New Year

I know that not everyone is into insects…but I once read the title of a book that described best how I feel:  it’s from a quote by evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane (and sometimes credited to Charles Darwin), stating that because of the staggering number and variety on them earth, that whoever our creator is, they must have “An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles.”     That pretty much sums up my own feelings.

I did a post on my beetle painting ages ago, describing how I once looked up at a mounted beetle in my room and wondered, “what might a beetle choose if it could customize it’s wings?  Thus sprang my “Bad to the Exoskeleton” paint job.

bad to the exoskeleton

I usually make my Christmas gifts, which usually stems from something I’m interested in at the time.  Mom says when I try to hard to do what I THINK someone will like the WAY they like it, it never ends up as well as something I do for someone that’s in my own style, sort of INSPIRED by that person.

So this Christmas, my immediate family got beetles.  (Sorry.)

I started working on this one for my niece, with the idea that it was a softer sort of custom, for a sweeter sort of beetle.  Beetles would probably love flowers, in a dainty sort of way, right?

blue

The next was for my other niece.  The idea was that if beetles could customize their elytra (the hard wing shells), they may choose to elaborate on the idea that–if displayed openly–a set of angry human eyes may momentarily stun human predators, and enhance the beetle’s chance of escape.  (While looking at reference, I found an interesting side note, which inspired the addition of the third eye:  that the head and mandibles of stag beetles are often sold in some countries as good luck charms to ward off the “evil eye.”)

eyes

Next I worked on a double-mounted set for my parents, featuring a sort of Bavarian flower pattern for my mother’s and an Egyptian themed one for my dad, which I thought matched their personalities fairly well.  My mom and dad are both artists, and mom loves Bavarian-style flowers, while dad loves anything related to Egyptology and archaeology.

mom dad

Finally, I worked on the biggest one for my sister, who has a pair of steampunk wings tattooed on her own back.  I tried to put as much detail as I could fit on this little guy, with small gears and painted screws.

steampunk

So that was Christmas!  A little weird, yes, but I hope they like them.  While waiting for the beetles to arrive, I drew this little “born to be wild” doodle, to which Myla added on, surrounding him with little creatures helping him on his way, wishing him “good travels.”

born to be wild

(It now lives with artist Tyler Thrasher, who we met in Tulsa, who crystallizes insects using his extensive background in chemistry.)

tt

So the holidays are over, and it’s time to start a new year.

I’ve never been one to push a year out the door–years are years through no fault of their own.  But this year–from the accounts of my own family and my immediate friends and family–I feel like this year needs a good kick in the pants on its way out the door.

So here’s wishing that this next year is full of adventures and inspirations, of explorations both internal and external.

Here’s wishing for a great new year for all of us…

scene

…And a Happy New Year

The end of the year is here, and for our family, that means a little time with family for Christmas.  Since the husband’s deployed, I’m going to count myself lucky enough that we at least have some extended family close enough to visit for the holidays.

christmas

The end of the year always gets me thinking a little about the year behind me.  This was a bit of a bumpy year for our family, but all told–it really could have been SO MUCH WORSE.  I really don’t consider myself an eternal optimist (I call myself an “optimistic pessimist”), but whenever I’m low, I try my hardest to look around for the good things, no matter how small, and if you really take the time to look, they’re all around you.  The fact that you’re even breathing is just ONE small gift.  It helps to stop and get some perspective on that now and then.

Myla and I have done so many projects and drawings and activities this past year, it wonderful to stop & look at it all over.  Sometimes, during my day, I actually stop and look around, and take a minute to enjoy the things around me–paintings we’ve done, sculptures done by friends, artwork from others,  cards, books, dolls, toys, and little cutout scraps of paper from Myla’s crafts.  I’m grateful for all of it.

myla

This next year, I plan to continue creating.  Maybe doing more shows (I’ve got my eye on you, Designer Con!).  Maybe doing more custom pieces.  Who know what the next year will bring?!

I’ve been flipping through pictures of older portraits I’ve done, and I’m inspired again by some past work–especially in these machine-stitched portraits I used to do.  Maybe I’ll do more of those, and offer customs….

stitched

In any case, I know it sounds goofy, but I truly am grateful for everything.  In the darkest times, in the happiest times, I’m grateful for everything I have, everyone I know, everything I can do. I’m glad for the very good friends I have, even if they’re always far away on the map.  I’m glad for the support of my husband, even from thousands of miles away.  And I’m glad for YOU!  For the fact that you’re even reading this!

I don’t like to set resolutions at the new year (to me, resolutions are for whenever you want to make them)…but I’m looking at a goal this next year of trying to figure out how to maybe have these doodles  or sculptures or whatever it is that we do, do some good in the world.    I’m not quite sure how.  I’m still working on that.  There are still a lot of changes to make, and  I’m ready to see what sorts of transformations this new year will make.

chrysalis

Being a military family, we’re exposed to so much variety–we have such diversity in our lives that we can celebrate so many types of people around us, no matter what their gender, their politics, their lifestyle, because when you break it down, we’re all just people.  (Remember that guy in Muppets Take Manhattan?  He said,”peoples is peoples.”)

The important thing is that we CAN be different.  We CAN show small kindnesses to one another, despite our differences.  I want to make sure we share that, and spread it around a little.  You might not be able to change the world all at once, but if you can do some good for someone, that kindness is absolutely contagious.

So I’ll leave you with a little drawing Myla did of our family, in a card she sent to her dad.  Here’s wishing you all great things for the new year!!!

hugs

Dad’s Garden Train Hogwarts

My sister and I grew up in a pretty artistic family.  My mom and dad both paint and have always been very creative.  So today, I thought I’d share a little project of my dad’s….

I learned to paint and draw when my mom started showing me how to draw shapes and make people when I was still learning to walk.  I get so much of my encouragement and imagination from her.  And I get a lot of my furious, frenetic, constant MAKING from my dad, who was always knee-deep in a project or two, always creating, always building, always doing SOMEthing.  (Sounds very familiar!)

A few years ago, my dad got into building garden trains.  He had fun setting up the track, but also building the structures for the cities and towns in his train village.  At one point, before they moved, he had worked on a Harry Potter’s Hogwarts castle to add at the back. firstThe old town below included Diagon Alley, Hagrid’s, and the Weasley’s.  He even included a few fun things with the  people…

funnyAwhile back, my parents moved to a new home, and my dad started up a new train village.  He built each structure by hand, from sheets of styrofoam and thin pieces of wood, coating them in liquid cement, and then painting and decorating them (often with the help of my mom’s awesome decorative painting skills).

buildings5

buildings1

buildings2They’re pretty good-sized structures, too–here are our two dogs–a fully grown Boston Terrier and Boxer, who love to sniff around town. (Thankfully, they haven’t destroyed anything…yet.)

dogsThe liquid concrete and coats of varnish keep the structures fairly well-protected from the weather.

concrete.jpegAs fantastic as dad’s sculptures are, Mom’s painting details are just as amazing!  She creates tiny handpainted murals on some:

momAfter finishing a good chunk of the town, Dad recently decided to try his old Hogwart’s castle again.  But this time, he studied schematics of Hogwarts, looked at reference photos and movie models, and laid out a foundation.  He started by building a styrofoam mountain in the back, up against their patio, adding a water feature as well.

structure1Then he worked on the first building tower, sculpting into the styrofoam and shaping it with wooden pieces.structure2.jpgHe laid the tiny wooden shingles on the roof one by one, by hand.

structure3.jpgHere it is, temporarily mounted on the “mountain”just as a test-run.

structure4.jpgInitially, he matched his paint job to a reference he found, which was a lot more rusty orangey brown (the first photo, below).  He sent a photo of it, and asked, and we talked about how although he matched the reference, the FEEL of it in the movie (although the shots of it are often at night) is that it’s mostly grayish.  So he repainted, and it made a WORLD of difference!

structure6.jpgHere are some more progress shots of the mounted castle tower, and of coating and painting it.structure5.jpgSo, fast-forward to several steps later, and HERE is the final Hogwart’s castle!final2.JPGHe put lights in them, so the towers glow beautifully at night.

final.JPGIt’s so beautiful and amazing!  If you look closely, you can see these tiny Hogwarts shields I painted for him, with each house emblem on them:

shields.jpgI also customized a few figures for his castle, although they turned out a little wonky. I turned one into Harry, and chopped off Darth Maul’s horns and nose to turn him into Voldemort.

people.jpgHere they both are, complete (lying next to an adorable heart-holding griffin Myla drew on my work board).

bothAnyway, there it is!  Dad’s Garden Train Hogwarts castle.final3Growing up, I knew enough to realize that not everyone’s parents were as creative as mine…but knowing that we didn’t come from a ton of money, I realized that everyone had the capability of being creative.  Seeing something start from small beginnings to something huge and amazing doesn’t always require specific tools or the finest art supplies or the best brushes.  Dad was building stuff when we were younger out of dental floss and twigs!  Really, when it comes down to it, the most important thing you really need is a desire to create!final4Congrats on your castle, Dad!

 

 

Flat Myla

My husband’s in the Army, deployed a billion miles away. Deployments are not easy for anyone, to be sure.

About halfway through my husband’s last deployment, my dentist told me of the stuffed animal her daughter gave her husband on his deployment, and how he took photos with it everywhere.  It reminded me of those Flat Stanley paper dolls kids send to family & friends to take with them on their travels.  I liked that.  So I made my husband a Flat Myla.

To his credit, my sweetheart took her everywhere in his cargo pocket.  He took her for pizza and for dinner at the chow hall.

flat myla3

He took her for coffee at Green Beans, to work with him, and out for pie.  She used to laugh at the photos…they cracked her up.

flat myla2

He even took her flying, on bus rides, and showed her his tents and some of the sweeter sides of Afghanistan.

flat myla1

This deployment, I thought he needed another updated one…so I just now sent him a new Flat Myla (she designed her own Pokemon shirt).

flat myla4

The older one sits now, retired, in a glass frame on our fireplace, worn from the wear and tear.  This new one is triple laminated, which (hopefully) will help her last a little longer.   He says he’s looking forward to getting her in the mail, because it’ll give him an excuse to get out and visit places and take pictures with her.  That makes me smile.

He’s gone for awhile.  Through Christmas and through the holidays.  Through our 14th anniversary, through our birthdays.  We’ve done it before–it’s a bit hard, but it’s okay.  We used to joke that he ASKED for a deployment when Myla was a year old specifically to miss her “Terrible Twos” (which were TERRIBLE, by the way, in Alaska with 8 months of dark winter, 24 hour summer, and then her 2-year molars)!

Now, Myla is older, and she’s always such a sweetheart to handle.  I can’t wait to put all her Flat Myla pictures in a book to show her how much her dad was thinking of her while he was gone.  It’s special, for sure.  Myla’s a good army kid–she takes things as they are.  She focuses on the moment, because she’s six.  But from time to time, she’ll miss something that Dad does, and get a little bummed.  But she always thinks of him when she draws pictures or talks about our family.  She really is a pretty great kid.

And then I was thinking–the world has a way of telling me to keep my chin up and not focus on my own little world.  Today I went to the post office, and just in that short time, feeling a little blue myself, I stood next to an older man struggling to write an address label because his hands were shaky.  I helped him write it out, and he told me how much harder little things like that have gotten now that he’s gotten older.  I heard a woman say her daughter was in the Middle East for the first time ever, and she hadn’t filled out a customs form before.  A woman who lost her phone (and then found it) said, “my husband just passed away and all my recent photos are on it.”  People are going through things, all around you.

10530740_10154518722090455_6435791578024769791_n

So no time to feel sad or mopey.  Everyone has issues.  Everyone’s going through their own things.  You can let it swallow you up, or you can focus on the good things.

So it’s time to focus on what we do have.  We have each other, even if a million miles away.  You can share kindness with a stranger, just with a smile, or by holding a door open.  My favorite part about the holidays is how for a moment, it seems that sometimes people turn up the charm a bit, turn up the kindness, and it spreads a little.  It’s a great thing to see.  But we can do that all the time!

10712744_879059852118163_542950650187152623_n

Have you ever read the “Pout-Pout Fish“?  How he “spreads his dreary-wearies all over the place”?  Well, it works the other way, too.  This past week, Myla and I brought the crossguards at school hot chocolate in the morning–Just two cups of SwissMiss, and they were so grateful that it lasted the whole day–one even made a point to give Myla a hug later in the day and tell her how good it made her feel.  That stuff SPREADS, you guys.  Even the kid knows that.

7cd2815c5f6abc212080961b4e300e78

The bad things ALWAYS shout louder than the good.  The good is harder to find, but you can if you look, and if you focus just on that.  It doesn’t always happen right away–it’s an active effort.  You have to spread it around to balance it out, and then it spreads to others.  They don’t even have to know it was you.  A smile.  A piece of trash thrown away.  A held-open door.  A little something to make someone’s day better.

1509725_603511436398264_1936890230_n

A little kindness.  A little understanding.  A little COMPASSION.  Regardless of your beliefs, of your politics.  All year round, every day.

As for the husband, I hope he gets to take lots of fun trips with the new Flat Myla, and take her on cool adventures, and spread a few little smiles around, from across the globe!

(We love & miss you , Babe!)

 

Making More Monsters

intro

After the last couple of conventions, I was surprised to come home with only a handful of our little monster puppies…I thought I was done making them…until I realized that they’re kind of relaxing to make.  And as long as I enjoy it, why not, eh?

So I sculpted and cast couple of new faces to add a little extra to the group.  I’m not sure I’m as attached to them as some of the others, but they do make me smile.

IMG_6752

But what I realized, talking to people at the conventions, was that although the dolls themselves were weirdly cute, it was the story BEHIND them that people seemed to enjoy the most.  So I’ve been working on a little foldout flier to put in with each of my orders (and eventually to have at conventions) that explains the story of how the Dream Creepers came to be.

This is the story I usually tell in person, over and over again, several times a day during the span of a convention, to anyone who ever seemed curious about them.  It was nice to make it into an easy little flier with cute little drawings that better explained it.

So I thought for fun, I’d share the little pages with you right here, right now…

dc-1

dc-2

dc-3dc-4

So there it is!  The mostly-true (because–alright, I’m not ACTUALLY a doctor, and Myla’s name isn’t really “M”) story of how the Dream Creepers came to be.  As I said, people seemed to find the dolls interesting, but once they heard the story, and learned that Myla named them, they would nearly always find them a little more sweet.

Myla has about 9 of them (she’s not obsessed or anything, she just thinks they’re all cuuuuuuuute), and whenever she starts to worry about something at night, I pretend to suck out her bad thoughts and feed them to the Creepers.  Weird, sure, but that’s at least good for a bedtime smile.

I only have a few guys left in the shop right now, but I think I’ll be making more soon, for as long as I find it fun.  I don’t really like to do customs with them, as they usually come together based on what fabrics I have, what fur is available, and what faces I’ve cast.  They’re much more fun when I get to play!

If you’re interested in adopting the ones I have left, take a look at the Etsy shop and get them while you can–I’ll be closing the shop next week for family visits, but then opening again on the first week of December!  I’m not sure how quickly I can build more for the holidays (as I still have my own gifts to work on!), but like I said–for as long as it’s fun, I’ll be sure to do more.

Sweet Dreams!

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,070 other followers

%d bloggers like this: