Friday, April 30, 2010

happy birthday, beta

Today is Vernon's birthday! Happy Birthday, Big Dog! That makes it a perfect day to launch CraftEdu (how will we forget when we launched?) in Beta. Beta....what happens now?

This is the time to fire up the engine and see if it's running smoothly. This is the time to locate any troubles and fix them. Through the entire process, we've encountered the occasional problem but I'm not worried, faculte has fixed them and fixed them fast.

We've been site building for 90 days and that's as long as the faculty have had access to the platform. It sounds like a long time but it isn't when most of them have been on the road, teaching and attending conferences - our faculty members do travel!

First quarter is always action packed. I, myself, spent a week in Anaheim at the CHA Show, a week in Baltimore at Synergy and 3 weeks in France teaching. Sherry Serafini and Kate McKinnon have had books to do and Jean Campbell was editing Kate's! But, we're heading into a less insanely hectic time of the year and more time to create and to create...classes!

Several have had illness (their own and their love ones) to work through and some still are. We are all crossing our fingers and saying little prayers for you and yours.

And then, as intuitive as the platform is to use, there is a learning curve - how do I copy pages from here to there, anyway?

And then, the technical issues....What kind of mic do I need to get? (Blue Snowball!) How do I set up a studio in my dining room, anyway? (Check out Jean's wonderful making a cheap studio blog!) What size should the images be? (300-400kb - we're not making posters, my friends!) I need a new computer! (I'm sorry, I can't help you out there!)

Some have dived right in and others have been tentative in their approach. We all learn differently, don't we? But, in spite of all the little hurdles to jump over, crawl under or run around, we've got classes up on the site. Congratulations to the faculty, you didn't always know where we were going but you worked with heart, spirit and great humor, as if you did.

And the site was built, from scratch, in 90 days. A CMS (content management system) designed in 90 days. Wow. I cannot imagine how hard that was to do. Thank you, to our site builders - they've worked nights, weekends, they haven't stopped. All of us have had many sleepless nights and working weekends. I suspect there will be many more.

We hope you cruise through the website, take us for a test drive, kick the tires and let us know what you like or dislike. Tell us, it's the only way we can improve. Watch some Free Basic Classes to pick up a tip or two and experience a mini class.

Please join our CraftEdu community - most of us have set up groups to discuss our classes and so you can post pictures of what you make in class. You can create your own page, too.

So, today, the presentation is about how to make the most of your CraftEdu class. I hope you enjoy and I hope you hop over to see CrafEdubeta. And, please tell your friends!

Thank you!


Pictured: CraftEdu sponsored a big hunk of cake made by the Ace of Cakes at Synergy in Baltimore!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

meet Kathy Frey

When the economy downshifted in 2008 and life threw her some curveballs,
 Kathy looked around her big city life and realized she would rather be
living and working in a more outdoorsy area. In August 2009 she moved from
 Chicago to a small artist community in Northern California, where her home
studio is nestled in an adorable garden cottage. In years past Kathy has
 shown her sculptural wire jewelry at up to 30 art fairs a year, but now 
her work is carried by more than 60 galleries and museum shops so she is
 reducing her traveling lifestyle to 10-15 shows a year. This allows more
time to teach workshops based around her 2007 book "Elegant Wire Jewelry,"
published by Lark Books, and focus on new design directions. And, as her
 big move dictates, when she's not in the studio you can find her 
practicing yoga, rock climbing, hiking, or simply enjoying a glass of wine 
over a meal cooked with friends. You can follow her adventures on her

"Taming the Tangle" blog (



Artful Home:


Wow! Enjoy the work of Kathy Frey!


Nothing Like a Good Book...

I forgot to mention a really great book that Tejae Floyd just released- "Polymer Artists Showcase"
It has a ton of inspirational photos of polymer pieces...and there are a few of mine in there too!
Check it out!

Monday, April 26, 2010

meet lauren abrams

Lauren has been fascinated with realism and Trompe L’oeil for most of her long career as an artist. Originally a graphic illustrator and designer, she learned to do faux finishes and to paint Trompe L’oeil and used it to design a line of furniture that was wholesaled to galleries and catalogs for over ten years.. She took some time off to go back to art school for a year at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and her focus shifted to still life paintings on canvas, but she continued to teach faux finishes and Trompe L’oeil for several years.

In the last few years she’s developed an interest in working with polymer clay, . She had worked with ceramic clay but polymer is a whole different and exciting medium. Lauren will combine her love of painting with this new medium and see where that takes her.

I've always loved and wished I could paint trompe l'oeil. Lauren's work is stunning - if I could paint like this, no piece of furniture or flat space in my house would be safe! Take a look at Lauren's classes at!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

meet dawn lee thompson

Dawn Lee Thompson’s artwork captures the combination of serenity and drama
revealed in the best of traditional glass craft, while incorporating a
modern sensibility. She blends traditional materials and design elements
with contemporary colors, composition and subject matter to create truly
one of a kind works of art.

Working with the finest materials and her expert craftsmanship, Dawn
strives to create an emotional response with her work. Each piece
heightens the visual impact of her subject by utilizing the play of light
against and through colors and textures of glass, thereby transforming the
entire space. Her glasswork is sold both online and in fine art and craft
galleries. Examples of her major installations can be seen in the Waverly,
IA Public Library, Independence, IA Public Library and East Dubuque
Savings Bank.

Dawn's work is amazing! Superman and Lois in stained glass - wonderful, wonderful. Apologies for the odd spacing - I tried to fix it but it doesn't look like this in preview mode....hmmmm.


Friday, April 9, 2010

meet judy belcher

After years of toiling as a corporate accountant, Judy put those math and business skills to work in a joyfilled career as an artist working with polymer clay. Her work has been juried into several national exhibits and is sold in retail galleries across the US. Authoring “Polymer Clay Creative Traditions” and releasing an instructional DVD entitled “Millefiori Story” fulfilled her desire to do research on this incredibly versatile medium and share that enthusiasm with others.

Judy has co-authored three other books and appeared on television shows, including The Carol Duvall Show, Beads, Baubles and Jewels and Shop-at-Home. Giving back to the community that has fed my creative soul led her to her current position as Past-President of the International Polymer Clay Guild.

She is also the West Virginia state representative for the American Craft Council/SE and has been involved in planning numerous conferences for that organization. Her home and studio are in West Virginia, a state whose commitment to its artisans is unrivalled. She has contributed to their mission by serving a term on the artisan advisory board for Tamarack, the premier juried artisan venue for the state. Judy teaches workshops, nationally and internationally, and speaks around the country sharing her fascination with and enthusiasm for polymer clay.

Judy is one of those equally right and left brained artists - she can produce wonderful work and she can actually get around to pricing it. She isn't a "tool loser"! An organized artist, capable of conceiving a conference like Synergy and then making it happen. And, she's a very good friend, too.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

meet marcia decoster

Her love for beautiful jewelry and a life long passion to create brought Marcia to beads in the early 1990’s. Marcia designs colorful and fun to wear jewelry and shares her designs through teaching and publications.

Marcia lives with her husband Mark in their San Diego Art Deco. Mark’s encouragement led Marcia to pursue her career as a fulltime bead artist.

Marcia teaches national and international workshops specializing in designs using right angle weave.

Her work has been published in Carol Wilcox Wells the Art and Elegance of Beadweaving and she was recently one of the showcased artist in Masters:Beadweaving. Marcia is also a 2009 ‘Designer of the Year’ in Beadwork magazine.

Marcia is a legend! If you beads, you know Marcia. Even if you don't know beads, you know Marcia! An extraordinary bead artist. You know, I believe all our Bead Artists are extraordinarily talented, generous, encouraging and dedicated teachers. What a team.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

meet so jeo leblond

Pysanky or Ukrainian Easter Eggs are an ancient folk art from the Ukraine. They are created on real eggshells by alternating the application of hot beeswax applied with a stylus or writing pen called a kistka and dipping in dyes of progressively darker shades. The traditional symbols and colours each have different meanings. The last step is to remove the wax with a candle flame to reveal the beautiful design hidden beneath.

So Jeo takes great pride in her original designs that come from her life experiences and imagination. Nature is one of her greatest inspirations and you will often see flowers, birds and other beautiful elements that are found right from her own backyard. Her art conveys the intensity, passion and dedication that she puts into each wondrous pysanka.

Her eggs have been sold to private galleries and collections in Canada, the US and Australia. So Jeo is an active member of the International Egg Art Guild (IEAG) and has had photos of her eggs published in “A Showcase of Decorated Eggs” as well as a self-published photo album of some of her earlier works. In 2008 she had the honour of being the Featured Artist in the Egg Artistry Guild of Australia Inc., Quarterly Magazine and this year she was the Featured Artist in the International Egg Art Guild Magazine's April issue.

Enjoy the work of So Jeo LeBlond!