Monday, October 24, 2011

Arting Away

This is a sneak peak of the work I'm doing for the show with the November 1 deadline.  I set out to do a mixed media piece using materials/techniques including crochet, shrinky dink, water colors, and maybe embroidery.  I've been working on the crochet elements for the last two weeks because it just takes forever when you use the thin thread instead of yarn.  The picture shows how I incorporated shrinky dink into the chrochet.

So far my unemployment has been peppered with holidays so I haven't really had much time to fill.  This is my first full week without a holiday coming up, and it's pretty busy.  Tomorrow I start back up at the pottery studio finally, and I am working on these shows as well as revamping my portfolio and website.  Those projects combined with general erranding and the inexplicable time warping that happens when you're home all day makes for a full-feeling day.  Why is it that time goes by faster when you're at home all day?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Making Deadlines

When my time at my organization ended, I was really concerned about what I would do without somewhere to go every day.  I am very productive at work, but sometimes it's hard to be productive for my own projects.  I'm still in the early part of adjusting to being on my own most of the day most of the week, and with the holidays this month I haven't really been faced with a full week alone yet.  But to make sure I keep myself busy and working, I made a "menu" of things I could be doing. 

But that's not really enough, I think, because part of what makes me so productive at work is the deadlines.  So I am going to try to focus on my artist identity a lot during this time of complete "employment rest" and sign up for some shows.  I've got three shows with upcoming deadlines in my sights, one of which is coming up in only a few weeks but I am so excited and inspired by the project constraints.

AND, once the holidays have ended and I get to have full weeks again, I want to begin a regular schedule at the pottery studio again.  I was able to sell my work at the craft fair last summer and I really think that I have some good ideas that I want to see to fruition.

Everything is exciting and I only hope that I keep myself motivated.  I think this will be a major test in finishing what I start and finding internal motivation.  I also plan to use my blog as a way to keep myself motivated, with way more frequent posts and project updates.  We'll see, we'll see what 5772 will bring!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day Book, D.A.I.Y.E. Day.

Today I made an organizer, because when I am feeling disorganized I make systems for organizing (and then maybe I don't use them).  I decided the first thing I would do after my time at my current position ended would be to do something that felt productive and grounding... so... and organizer it was.

I took three sides of an old box (plucked out of the paper recycling bin in our apartment, somewhat to JewishGuy's dismay).  I collaged on the outside, covered it with mod podge, and used brads to hold the "general to-do list" paper on one side.  Then I did something way too complicated to bind the other side together into a book and then sew it onto the cover very slowly.  I also put a brad on each side of the covers to be used as closure devices (a red string wraps around them to keep the book closed).

I might still sew a pocket into the large empty flap so that I have somewhere to keep business cards or whatever that I pick up.

Basically, I felt like I needed something to keep me motivated, because now that I have nowhere to go during the day I have become very anxious.  Okay, today was Day 1 of not having anywhere to go... and I already contacted a temp agency to help make some moneys while I continue the job search.

My position ended because the department closed, effective Erev Rosh Hashana, last Wednesday.  Last week was such a stressful week, and even though Rosh Hashana was good it was not due to our planning!  We were both so stressed we barely got what we needed to get done, done, and one of the meals we hosted was woefully short on food (I mean, for my standards - I want people to be stuffed with food of all sorts before dessert, and that just wasn't the case).

A piece of good news - I sent in my ATR application as soon as I got home from work on Wednesday!  All of my hours are finished, the application went in the mail, and this week (or next) I will follow-up to see if they got it.  Hooray!  I also put in for a hold on my LCAT permit, hopefully that will come through soon.

And finally, one of my goals for the month of October is to create a consistent online presence, which will mean a major overhaul of my website and blog.  I will keep updating (such that I have been) in the meantime, but look forward to some big changes soon :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I won't be volunteering anymore at the end of the month, so I'm not sure what happens next.  I made a calendar and put it in the art room so we could talk about endings, and how things are going to end in a few weeks.  It's scary.

It's also odd because the last day of the program (and my last day volunteering) is also Erev Rosh Hashana.  So my new year will start without this volunteer gig, something I have literally been doing since the day I got here in New York.  I'm really not sure what will happen next and it makes me nervous, but I am trying to see it as an opportunity to do something new...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I have really been getting into embroidery at one of the studios where I work.  It's fun, it's like painting with thread!  Plus it is incredibly soothing.

Today I did a demo at work with a bunch of different stitches, I don't know what they're all called but I know how to do them mostly from trial and error:

It started with the blue line, then the brown chain stitch, then the other stitch I don't know what it's called, and then combining stitches to make the orange sun and yellow star.


Maybe if I get really good at it I can start doing designs on skirts and other clothes... I would love to do things like that to my clothes.  I have some skirts that I barely ever wear that might want to have some decoration on them...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Four Pound Terror (Part 1)

I've been doing this as a series on facebook, I suppose it's time they found their way to the blog!  I will post them one by one so each gets its own post.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Help my tomatoes!

This heat is withering my tomato plant.  We haven't had a good rain in a few weeks and the temperatures are in the upper 90s / 100s.  I am giving it lots of water but it's just not enough.  Is it too late?  Should I harvest the green tomatoes and throw the plant away?  Or can I save it?  Help!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spending thyme with a new camera (heh heh)

Oh it feels so nice to take pictures with a camera again (and not my phone).

I love that I can set the image aspect ratio on this camera because I find myself taking better pictures with a 3:2 (as opposed to the usual 4:3 or the HD 16:9).  I can also take square pictures, another ratio that I like better than 4:3.  4:3 is just always missing a piece, or has too much, it's never the right size and I always want to crop it after the fact.  This photo above is completely unedited, this is what it looked like on the camera when I took the picture.

Our garden is going well, by the way!  (Image above is our thyme basking in the sun)  Despite the complete lack of rain and some pretty hot temperatures, things are growing.  My tomato plant is hurting for water even though I feel like I overwater it every day, so the bottom leaves are wilty a little, but we have some tomatoes growing!

I'm waiting for the day they are ripe, I will make some home-made mozzarella cheese, harvest some tomatoes and basil and have a completely home-grown salad.  If only we had a cow or a goat for me to raise, then I could have raised the milk to make the cheese, too (hahaha...).

I'm hoping for some great fruit and veg images from the farmer's market today, and also some delicious produce.

I missed having a camera :) :)  A big thank you to my husband's parents who are partially sponsoring this replacement camera!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Camera :)

It arrived!  My new camera!!!  (This is my hair)

Conference Success!

I recently got back from the 2011 American Art Therapy Association conference and what a great and successful conference experience!  The picture is of my table at the craft fair that I shared with someone from my program (I'm on the left with my pottery).  It was a pretty successful craft fair for me, and I made enough money to pay for almost half of a replacement camera off of selling my pottery alone.

Selling my pottery was really motivating for me - I charged more than I thought I should, and people seemed to think these were reasonable prices.  It was great because I think I would otherwise very much under-charge for my pieces.  Four bowls broke - four great bowls - so that was money lost, but I brought home the shards to use in my garden, so at least it doesn't completely go to waste.  Also some people took shards for their own art work.

I also presented my thesis again.  I actually had a decent crowd even though I was scheduled during the lunch hour and across from the Town Hall meeting.  People asked really nice and supportive questions, no heckling (which can happen, even from a crowd full of therapists, it's surprising).  My thesis (and a handout summarizing my presentation) will be up on my website soon so that people can access it and cite me in their work.  In general it was great to get my feet wet in national presentations, and I've got two proposals in the works for next year.

(What am I thinking?? I'm also planning to take the ATR-BC exam at the conference next year?? Clearly I am insane.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happy Anniversary To Me

Today is my 1 year anniversary of volunteering for this organization in New York.  Monday, July 12, 2010 was my first day of work last year, and it doesn't feel that long ago!  Since then I have run countless groups, seen individual clients, taken on more hours, started an art studio in a residential facility, created workshops, helped organize events and exhibitions, presented at trainings, written curricula, and made so much art.

It just so happens that tonight I've put together an exhibition/opening event for the art studio I started.  It's a pretty good anniversary because I don't think anything illustrates the amount of work I've been doing more than an exhibition, right?

I was about to post the flyer for the exhibition when I realized the flyer has client artwork all over it and I had to delete it...  But the name of the exhibition is "A Peek in the Studio: a show of in-progress work by the artists who live in our residence."  There will be awards, art making, viewing artwork, and of course food.

I also hope this show will revitalize the studio.  We've been seeing dwindling attendance, so I hope that we will get more people to start coming once we show the studio is a fun, relaxing, creative place.

Time to go back to prepping!

(This picture is the awards I made for the participants - each one will have the number of visits to the studio they've made, and anyone who has come at least twice will get one!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Urban Nature series


(Urban Nature series is done using my iphone "instagram" filter because I don't have a nice camera right now!)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Urban Nature series (in fake polaroids)

Who needs the High Line when you have huge empty lots with tons of natural growth?  Oh, except the scary barbed wire and 8 foot fence kind of keeps people from walking around and exploring in there, I guess.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book making

Today I started assembling the books that I meant to assemble back in February when I initiated a mail-in collaborative artist book project.  Fifteen people signed up, fourteen people actually sent in pages, which is pretty good.  This morning I put holes in the pages and covers and bound six complete books in a few hours.  I'm hoping to finish them tonight and mail everything tomorrow or Thursday, but we'll see.

I really meant to have this finished back in February.  But that was when I started volunteering almost full time, along with a lot of other things, and it fell very far down the priority list.  Since the end of May I cut back my hours and a few other things, and have been spending time winding down.  I finally felt like I could begin to tackle this enormous undertaking.  I can't wait until it's finished.

Will I do something like this again..?  Maybe, but not a book project, not something that requires so much work on my end!  I have coordinated printmaking exchanges and that was much more fun because all it required (after coordinating sign-up, etc) was assembling collections of images and mailing them back.  It's the binding that has been the daunting part of the process.

Anyway... back to work!

Monday, June 20, 2011


Stumbled across a basketball game while on a long walk today after work.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I am so frustrated that my camera was stolen.  I am angry and sad and frustrated.  So angry.  I'm just going to say that over and over until I figure out how to cope with it.

My camera was so important to me.  So important that it is the only thing I keep on me at all times besides my phone and my keys.  The camera on my phone takes pictures and sometimes they are all right, but they aren't nearly the quality that I want.  They look better as fake polaroids than they do as regular images, I think.  At least then you expect lower quality images.

UGH. I'm so angry and frustrated and disappointed.

Today we went to buy a new camera but it was such a frustrating experience.  Not only because being in the store was overwhelming and frustrating, but also - I don't really want a new camera.  I wasn't in the market for a new camera before mine was stole and I don't want a new one now.  I want my old camera.  I don't want to spend money replacing something.  If I'm going to spend money I want an upgrade, I want a digital SLR, I don't want to re-purchase a perfectly functioning digital camera that suited all of my point-and-shoot and some of my better quality needs.  I wanted my next camera to be an upgrade to something that took really substantial, nice photos, not another point and shoot.  But I still need a point and shoot to carry with me for the random pictures I like to take.

It makes me SO sad.

And it was stolen from where I volunteer; I don't get paid to be there, so that adds another blow.

I know, it's a thing, it's not a person or a pet or something truly important, and it can be replaced.  But I am having a temper tantrum over here over having to replace it.  A lot of "I want I want I want" like a child.  I can't control this situation any more than I can control my job situation.  I just have to deal with it.

Expect lots of fake polaroids to come until I figure out what I really want to do next.

PS the picture above is from the garden.  I hung some paintings around the fence and they are slowly being overgrown by the ivy that has come over the fence.  Pretty :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Why oh why do I have such little success with cilantro?

This is the furthest I've gotten, out of six pockets, this is what I have, this little bit of limping, struggling cilantro.  This and my marigolds, they basically want to be put out of their misery. Sad.

Monday, June 13, 2011

(Click for larger version)

My camera was stolen and there's a good chance I won't get it back or be reimbursed.  It's pretty sad.  My phone camera just doesn't take the kind of pictures I want, I have no control over the adjustments to light or focus, etc etc.

As a result I have been using my garden as a coping tool.  Today I decided to share some pictures of progress in the garden.

I love that all of the herbs are really taking off (except the cilantro for some reason).  But I think what I'm most happy about is the flower bed feeling alive with wildflowers.  Last summer the flowerbed was completely dead, not even weeds grew in it.  The last tenants threw trash and cigarettes into it.  I tried planting in it last year but it was July when we moved in, August when I was planting, and that is the worst time to plant.  Plus there was also cat poo and stuff in it, so I didn't want to really touch any of the soil.  This year I sprinkled wildflower seeds every week for a few weeks, not knowing what to expect.  Only a few little white flowers have blossomed, but everything is so green and alive.

The whole garden patio is full of life, it is so different from last year to look out there.

PS Sorry for the low quality photos.  Sad sad sad.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ode to the cats

This little kitten has been with us for almost a week now.  She is crazy.  Also, she is driving Lilly crazy.  But also, she is very cute.

She is obsessed with food, she follows me around the house (often under my feet), she gets into everything, and she chews on things.  Did we take home a puppy by accident?

They said she was 3 months old when we got her, but she is only 2lb - or she was last week.  I believe she's gained weight since then.  Last week when she was lying down you could see her ribs through her skin on the part of her belly that was shaved for her spay.  This week you can't see the ribs.

It's really hard to take pictures of her.  She is a gray tabby with tuxedo markings.  And she has a bright pink nose.  And a HUGE head.  Which I guess makes up for Lilly's tiny head.

For comparison's sake, look at how perfect Lilly is at modeling.  She is amazing.  She should be on America's Next Top Cat Model.  If Tyra saw her, she'd say that Lilly really understands how to use subtle changes in her pose to accentuate different parts of her face and convey different moods through the photograph.

Two assistants?  We'll see if Lucy is as good at the job as Lilly, or if she is more of a Professor Chaos type.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Tonight I taught my group about weaving after reading a tutorial about using cardboard to make portable looms on  I didn't quite do it correctly but it came out well enough!  This is my square, it has some stripes, nothing too fancy.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Garden Friend

Found this guy sitting on top of the air conditioning unit outside and was worried he would get sucked in and die! Since the a/c was off at the moment, I took some pictures of him close up, then relocated him to the garden.  (I put him in with the weeds and ivy that is overgrowth from someone else's garden, so he can eat that first)

Isn't he cute?  I have some other, grosser pictures where you can see how slimy he is, but I just love the one above, he is cheesing for the camera.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Playing with buttons

Working on a mixed media project, doing some demos for clients, and this is what happened today.  Buttons, beads, embroidery, and some cool b&w fabric.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Recycled Planters

Did some work on the patio today.

I have spent more money on the garden than I had anticipated, but I think I've stretched it further than last year.  I made planters out of tin cans, twine, and beads I pulled off of an old necklace and hung cheap flowers in them.  So I guess hanging these flowers really only cost me what the flowers themselves cost me, and it was $2.99 for a pack (of four plants), so ... what you see in this image cost about 75c.  Not bad.  I have five of these hanging around, and then the leftover three marigold plants were put in an aluminum bucket I got at a flea market.

Mostly I am trying to do the actual plants for as cheap as possible because of my tendency to kill things.  I bought some plant food today so I fed my plants, which I will try to do every Friday.  But almost everything in the garden has been started from seeds or are super cheap (like the flowers).  Because all of the sprouts I started in April died while we were out of town, I am starting from scratch outside - but the spinach is already sprouting, so I have hopes the rest will follow suit soon.  This is why I'm doing it cheaply... okay, so all of my sprouts died (except the peppers), I'll just start over, no big deal!  I don't mind the "wasted" effort, because the process is the fun part for me, not necessarily the product

Yesterday I put up the solar powered lights and last night it was so pretty...

I can't wait until we're finally finished and I can take pictures!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Professional Nerdiness (I love charts)

Because all of my hours are volunteering, sometimes I feel kind of low.  I keep a very detailed chart of my progress but tonight I made a graphic to show myself getting closer to my goal as a way to stay motivated.  I also calculated the percentage of the hours I've completed towards my two licenses - I am almost finished with 30% of the hours I need for my state license, and have finished more than 50% of the hours I need for my national registration!

Luckily, I married an engineer.  Everyone ASSUMES he is the nerdy one.  But I am an ARTEEST.  Obviously that makes me cool automatically, right?  Coolness came when I bought my first canvas?  Or pastels?  Right?

This chart is so awesome, and it just keeps getting more awesome.  You can get so much information quickly and easily (well, YOU can't, because you can't see the headers).

The graph just makes the info look pretty, like at a fundraiser, I can see the totals rising.  I hated the color schemes so I put awesome retro wood paneling on it.


Coming soon... art?  Maybe?  Sorry for the intermission of art making, I am going a little nuts.

Friday, May 6, 2011


I don't know what happened to this bee.  It was dead but in perfect shape.  I couldn't help getting some really close pictures because, well, how often can you get this close to a bee?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Our 2011 Patio Plans

Well, I was home today taking a bit of a vacation after coming back from Passover with family, and I decided to work on the plans for our patio that I mentioned.  The winter was really hard, especially with our heat going in and out every few days, and our apartment isn't very big.  We took this place because of its sweet patio space, so we are going to make it amazing for this summer.

So this is my vision!  I decided to make a collage because it helps me get a feel for the colors I want, and it also explains it to JewishGuy who luckily trusts my tastes enough to say "I can't picture it, but I'm sure it will look good."  So there you have it, the foundations of a good marriage, right? :)

Read the full description after the jump!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Boozy Birthday Present

JewishGuy's birthday was Friday so for his birthday I made him a painting of his favorite Scotch.  Well, it used to be his favorite, I hear rumblings there may be another contender.  But he always has a bottle of this in the Scotch cabinet so he at least likes it enough to have a painting of it on his wall at the office.

I almost didn't do the lettering because that is my absolute weakness (painting lettering ... just ask my former job as a custom plate painter at a pottery painting studio).  You can see I'm not very good at it.  But without the letters it looked so blah and generic.

Anyway, I like the way it came out, and I'm writing this before I give it to him because I scheduled this post for the future so he won't see it before he gets his present so I haven't seen his response yet.  I think he will like it!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Plans and Plants

From here you can see (clockwise from left) the basil, spinach, tomatoes, chives, and then in the front right one little bell pepper starting to peek up!  The bell pepper seeds came from a pepper I got at the grocery store that I wasn't sure would sprout, but here we are!  And because the planters are clear, I can see that there are at least four other sprouts coming up.  Yay peppers!

I know there's not a lot of art making going on around here, but actually there's quite a bit of art making going on!   I just can't share it!  My groups at work are making many long-term projects so I don't have little directives to share, and I haven't been able to make my own versions of these projects so I can't even show the ones I'm working on.

However, the planting is part of a larger therapeutic process for me.  We are planning a big decorating project for the patio.  It's very exciting!  It is also helping me through these cold, wet days that are just dragging on.

I even made a sketch, although I don't think the lamps will be the same.  We'll have a vertical garden on the fence that gets the most sun, which is where these sprouts will go assuming they survive us being out of town for Passover (I'm going to ask the pet sitter to water them every day but I am nervous).  We're also planning to have solar lights placed around the fence and even make a solar light chandelier type thing so we can do seudah shlishit out there - the solar lights will turn on automatically when it gets dark so we don't have to do anything.  They aren't very bright but most of the meal would happen before it gets too dark anyway.  Also we are hoping to somehow cover the gigantic air conditioning units just to make it not seem so ugly and maybe buffer some of the noise.  When the units are both on it's pretty loud out there.  AND we're going to try to figure out something to do with the space right next to our apartment, under our upstairs neighbors' overhang, because it's kind of just empty space right now.

All that and more ... to be unveiled in June.  A big project!  A spring project to keep us focused on the summer and warm weather!  Keeping spirits high during the last days of winter and the first days of spring...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Grow Station

I bought a gro-bulb and a lamp just to keep the baby plants warm, nourished, and happy.  I read that if they don't get enough sun they get stretched out which can kill them, and baby plants need more sunlight than their adult versions, but even the adult versions probably wouldn't like the conditions inside our apartment.  So of course I rushed out and bought a bulb.

I'm going about these plants much differently than I did two summers ago when I planted the cholent mix to see what would grow.  (I never harvested, by the way, because I moved the plants downstairs to be in the sun and promptly forgot about them.)  But those plants were a self-exploration in nurturing as I was working through feelings about nurturing where I was working with children.  This is more of a hobby and a way to feel productive, so I really want to make this work this time.  Come on, little planties!

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I've started a new twitter, @artsyplantsy.  Here I'll post all the little things that don't merit a full blog post, like tons of pictures of sprouting things, or art I see while I'm walking around.  And of course links to interesting artsy or plantsy blog posts.  I like this new name because I feel more free to post the things I want to post, and feel like people will follow me based on those things, instead of having lots of random Jewish organizations following me because of my username even though none of my tweets are Jewish-related.

I haven't decided how I will include a feed to artsyplantsy on the blog yet.  But if you want to follow along while I'm still in the rough stages, please follow me!

I think this new twitter account signals a move from my JewishGal brand that I've been working under for the last almost four years.  I'm not really connecting with that part of me right now the way I was back when I started this blog (and the other JewishGal things, like my old twitter account).  I'm more Jewishly active in my private life than I was back then when I was a Jewish professional, but I'm less interested in using that part of me as a lens for my public life.

What I'm saying is I'm contemplating a major shift that will have minor effects.  I am thinking about moving my blog and revamping it, including all of the past posts, but under a new name.  I'm thinking of consolidating my "brand," changing my personal website url from the obscure "spiffywafer" to something that is more cohesive with the rest of my online presence.  I don't have any ideas, but coming up with a new twitter made me think about it.  But I don't think there will be any major effects on any of my regular readers' experiences with my blog, website, etc, other than typing in a new url when you want to see what I'm up to.  I've been spiffywafer since 2001 and JewishGal since 2007, so it's kind of a tough choice!

In any case, look forward to future unveiling of something big and more put together than the current semi-connected website, blog, and twitter accounts.  But not yet.  Still kind of busy with what's on my plate right now!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Anniversary :)

Today is our second wedding anniversary.  It's funny that it's our "second" anniversary because we've been together for eight years!  But two years ago today we got married.  It was 75 and sunny (maybe a little misting of rain in the afternoon).  It was such an amazing day and an amazing weekend.  :) :)

This past weekend we sponsored kiddush and scotch club at shul and I made this surprise centerpiece while JewishGuy was at work.  He didn't know about it until it was on the table at shul.

I tried to recreate our wedding invitations in a found object sculpture.  Ha!

We decided not to do anything for our anniversary except go on a date and get a big cake with two candles in it.  It's too hectic to plan something crazy and really we don't need to do anything but spend time together.  AW.  MUSH.  Also, last year, our anniversary was the first seder, so we spent our anniversary at a stranger's house with lots of people we didn't know (and a few people we did) getting drunk and eating matzah.  Actually it was a TON of fun!  But having a big piece of cake on our anniversary is definitely an improvement over matzah.

(Anyway, we still haven't been on a honeymoon.  Whatever...)

Happy 2 years!  Looking forward to many, many more.
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