Happy Earth Day, One and All!

(I hope the room mother brought a class treat!)

I was talking to a friend who had been listening to conservative talk radio this morning because she likes to get herself riled up sometimes (this is only one of the reasons we're friends) and she said they were sitting around bashing Earth Day like it was invented by Al Gore himself.

This is one of my favorite old magazine illustrations,
Pictorial Review, January 1935

Now that's just ridiculous, because no matter where your politics stand, your feet are standing on our dear Mother Earth and it's high time she had a day since she gives us the other 364 to think about ourselves, right?

Mother Nature Gives Advice, 2005

I guess we got a little more tuned into environmental issues when two of our daughters graduated from the School of Environmental Studies at the Minnesota Zoo. This was a great educational opportunity for both girls and we feel lucky that we were able to be a part of it. Our middle daughter is now studying Environmental Policy at Vermont Law and will receive her Master's this summer. So there's no Earth-Day-bashing at the Hinckley homestead! It just wouldn't be tolerated.

I was thinking that perhaps this piece might make a splendid graduation present for her,

Don't be alarmed -- the frame wasn't wonky, just distorted by the angle.
Small Works takes pride in quality framing.

but it is happily celebrating its first Earth Day with its new family. I'm always so happy to send my children to good homes! And I felt great about this one (although it would have been nice if I'd had a chance to get it photographed before it left -- alas this poor image is all that remains, but that's what I get for finishing my work at the last minute, isn't it? Lesson learned.)

A new little gem greeted me on my desk

when I went to my studio this morning, so I decided he should greet you as well. This is the only purchase I made at the show, and it is by B.J. Christofferson,

whose work I have long admired. It will live happily right above my desk next to the embroidery B.J.'s amazingly talented daughter created for us.

Sometimes I come across things that are so simple, and so simply brilliant that it just takes my breath away. The latest is a blog I stumbled across last week (you've probably all seen it -- I'm often the last one at these parties) and I must say that if I can't create Maira Kalman's blog, this is the one I'd most like to have invented:

Jessica draws a little graph of some sort on an index card every day, and they are always insightful and often quite funny (as well as addicting). I pulled a few more examples for you:

So while I was siting at the show I scribbled some ideas for graphs of my own. It's not as easy as it appears to be (as is the case with most simply brilliant things -- part of the brilliance is that they seem so simple, until you try to do them yourself).

This one sums up the total show experience in general, for anyone who hasn't done one but wonders what it might be like:

Now I'll probably get all kinds of comments about how my self-esteem shouldn't be connected to things like sales or positive feedback, but let's be honest because Small Works is all about telling the truth.

Brian Andreas said something on "The Ingredients of Stuff", (perhaps my third favorite blog) that I had to write down immediately. He said,

"Stories will forever and ever
trump facts.
Facts are secondary
to our stories about them."

So while I'm all about being honest here, I'm also of course about telling a good story -- draw your own conclusions from that about anything and everything I may have ever said or written to you.

But rest assured that the angst of shows and creativity and money and feedback and self-esteem is all based solidly in FACT.

I don't know what specific fact (is my hair grayer than it was last month?) contributed to the large number of comments I got at the show about things like arthritis, bifocals, and that my work was destined to cause and/or be affected by all those wonderful gifts inherent in age.

I wish I'd started this work when I turned 30 rather than when I turned 40 -- it's my eyes that are giving me the most trouble now, but I'm sure the day will come when my joints stage a rebellion as well. After about 3 people had mentioned my age (and impending doom) I was inspired to draw a second little diagram:

So if you see a sudden increase in the price of work, I hope you'll assume it's because it is appreciating in value at an astonishing rate, but it may be that I just need to finance a new and stronger pair of bifocals every 3 months.

True story.

And now last but not least, Dear Friends, look what greeted me outside my window on this Earth Day:

It seems like just a few days ago I was posting snow pictures ad nauseum; now there are BUDS, ACTUAL LIVING BUDS THAT MAY BE SUGGESTIVE OF POSSIBLE FUTURE LEAVES
on the trees in my very own yard.

In fact, these crab apples will be just about ready to burst when I return from my vacation.

Oh yes, did I forget to mention my vacation?

I'm leaving tomorrow, heading west to see my family and bake my bones in my beloved red rock desert. And eat good Mexican, among other things.

So Small Works will return May 4, full of both fact and fiction which I will share in what will be my 99th post!

A post that is sure to contain details of the spectacular Small Works 100th Post Celebration which will include my very first blog giveaway!

Breathless with excitement? Me too.

Until then, I hope Mother Earth will take care of these little friends

(no tornadoes while I'm away, please) so that we can have a joyful reunion in May.

And until then, all of you (both Republicans and Democrats)


Class Dismissed for Spring Break.


If it's Monday, it must be the Small Works Show Report!

Complete with
all the great
you've come
to expect:


Good times!

Overwhelming Fatigue!
(oops . . . that's the part only I have come to expect. Sorry.)

Yes, it's true -- I felt like a truck had hit me when I woke up this morning. It is ever thus. And my poor booth-hand has to get up and go to work just like we weren't still unloading the truck at 10 pm last night after setting up for two nights and then working the show for 3 days. I don't pay him enough.

He has an idea about how I could make it up to him, but it involves one of these:

Negotiations are ongoing. It might be easier to hire new help.

But the show was a good show, like they always are.

Anytime I get to emerge from the studio and parade my children around in their Sunday clothes while they perform their best tricks it's a proud day, isn't it?

I was talking to one of the other artists who commented that it was difficult for her to be around so many people, because almost all of her time is spent alone in her studio and she's really only used to talking to herself -- sounds a little too familiar.

If I'd known it was in my wallet (I found it later that day) I'd have handed her this:

The latest addition to my fortune-cookie-fortunes collection. As it turned out, it came in handy for me later in the afternoon when I was alone in the booth because the weather outside was delightful and the attendance at the show became frightful.

If I'd thought to bring a bowling ball, we could have had a swell game in the aisles. There were just about 10 art lovers . . . isn't that the right number of pins?

But because I always collect fortunes from others at the table as well as my own, I also found this:

And it was completely apropos as well, because people were just so darn nice I could hardly believe my ears!

In fact, there's not a lot of good material for
"Overheard at the Show" --

(if snarky material can be considered "good" which in this case I believe it can.)

Of course there were all the usuals:

If only I had kids!
Can I order it with any initial I want?
If I win the lottery . . . blah blah blah

but I hardly even notice those anymore.

There was a near-miss for an "Overheard at the Show"
all time doozey. (sp? Please correct me if there is a proper spelling for this word. Small Works takes pride in things like correct spelling, grammar and punctuation).

There was a woman standing just outside the booth and staring for some time. I was standing nearby at the entrance to my booth as well. Finally she turned to me.

She said: "I can't believe you spend time doing this. Wouldn't you rather be making art?"

I was unsure of quite how to react, i.e. cry, slap her, laugh, call security, spit

I said: "This isn't art?"

She got a funny look on her face and we were both quiet for a moment. Then she became quite flustered. "No -- I mean doing THIS, spending time sitting at shows!"

Ha ha ha. We both had a good laugh and she said, "that would have been really mean" and I explained that it wasn't outside the realm of possibility because people say bizarre things all the time.

Really she was trying to give me a very nice compliment. And for some reason, this time there were plenty of those.

One woman pointed to my head and said, "There's a lot of inspiration in your cupboard." I quite liked that image. Could be a future piece there.

Another said, "You must laugh all the time you're working on these!" Not quite. Ask my family.

And there was, "Your studio must be such a fun place!" No. Mostly just really messy.

But my favorite was the woman who stood in my booth for quite awhile and didn't say anything to me at all. Then as she was leaving, she said, "I'm going to remember this for a long, long time."

That struck me as being simple and very sweet.

I did have at least two people try to convert me to using a sewing machine. One even explained that I could learn to sew on beads and buttons with the machine. The technique apparently involves taping the embellishment on first, then using a zig-zag stitch to attach it.

But just threading my needle and poking it in the fabric myself sounds much easier and a lot less like work to me. I don't think I'll ever make friends with a machine.

I'll just have to admire the amazing things the rest of you are able to turn out while I

stitch . . . . stitch . . . . stitch.

And it's hard to hear "The Price is Right" with the sewing machine making a racket, isn't it?

I did take a few pictures for you -- someone suggested one of each wall, so here's what my booth looked like:

If you click on the pics you can actually see the pieces!

We invested (finally!) in some new lights and were very pleased to see that it finally looked like amateur hour was over.

All in all, it was another good show.

There was just enough of this:

(although I hope I didn't look quite that wild-eyed
while handling credit cards)

and plenty of teasers for nice opportunities that may come knocking in the future.

A great big thank-you
to all who participated!

(Come back Wednesday for Part II of the show report, including a preview of "Upcoming Attractions" as we approach the spectacular
Small Works 100th Post Celebration Extravaganza!)


Hold on to your hats! Here we go . . . . . AGAIN?

Good News!

Chance of rain and only 48 degrees in Minnesota this weekend!? Most people (who only dusted off their grills a couple of days ago -- Minnesotans are highly attached to their grills) are feeling a little cheated.

But for anyone doing an indoor art show, the universe couldn't be more kind.

It's hard to know what to expect at shows -- or anywhere else, for that matter -- with times being what they are.

But I do know I can expect to have fun, see some old friends (hopefully make a few new ones) and have a chance to share what I love to do.

I did finally get everything finished and framed --

I've never quite taken it down to the wire like I did this time. I guess doing a local show doesn't stress me enough to make me stay up late and accomplish things in a timely fashion. Instead, I obviously prefer to still be framing on the day I'm hanging the work up . . . . whew!

And here's a picture of this guy, since he may never make it to the photographer now and therefore you'll never see him:

Daydream (text: he may seem lazy but his mind is quite busy with delightful thoughts)

A word of apology for blinding you with the flash -- when I turned it off, the glass picked up a perfect reflection of everything in the room. And I don't have one second to mess with photoshop today, so put on your sunglasses to avoid eye damage if necessary. Wouldn't it have been great if I'd remembered to snap the picture before I put him in the frame? Rats. Hey, at least you got to see him, right?

Russ has to work at his real job on Friday, so I'll be going solo (and I'm not very excited at the prospect, I must confess). He's much better at this show-thing than I am.

"See ya', Sus -- try selling something while I'm gone!"

So if you're in St. Paul this weekend, come on by Rivercentre, booth #2404 and say hello! I promise to have good candy in my booth
(you think I buy it for you, but really I buy it for myself . . . )

and if you're on a diet there will be plenty of low cal
"eye-candy only" options.

If you . . . *alas* . . . live far away,
Small Works will be back Monday with the show report


"Overheard at the Show"

and perhaps even a few pictures for show-and-tell.

Happy Weekend!


Fortune cookie says: If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.

Those little nimble musicians of the air, that warble forth their curious ditties, with which nature hath furnished them to the shame of art.
Izaak Walton


This is the time of year when Minnesotans are shouting for joy and running around with no clothes on in the 46 degree heat and generally whooping it up, except you can't really hear yourself whoop because of what the birds are doing --

it's pure avian pandemonium --

and most of them didn't even have to live here through the winter!
I guess they're just happy to be back.

When I was in first grade, I was so inspired by springtime that I composed my very first poem:


Flowers blooming everywhere,
Birds are flying here and there.
Butterflies are flying by,
Spring is here! the children cry.
Playing games is so much fun,
In the spring when winter's done.

by Susan Meredith

Looking at it now I can see I had to work a little too hard for that last rhyme, resulting in a weak ending, but my mother loved it. (And let's not be too hard on me because I didn't become an English major until long after I was 7 years old.)

For my entire childhood, "Spring" was mounted in her music room on a giant poster that I had illustrated with first-grade-looking flowers, birds and butterflies with little dashed lines streaming out behind them to give the illusion of flight . . .

And having it on the wall there year after year made me feel like perhaps someone believed in me and thought I should keep using my voice.

When Rabindranath Tagore penned this sentiment:

"Faith is the bird that feels the light
and sings when the dawn is still dark,"

he was talking about April in Minnesota.

Every day about 4 am, long before the sun has thought of morning, the treesong begins. It's difficult to sleep because it is so loud, and yet you can't be cranky because once again your faith has been rewarded and -- inconceivably -- the world is coming to life.

The other day the weather man (who's lived here for 30 years) said he could only remember one April in which he hadn't been mowing his lawn by the end of the month. That was meaningful because right now, on April 15, our grass is still crusty and brown and I see little evidence that any of it will survive, let alone need mowing.

But when Mother Nature throws the switch here, it's like watching two weeks of fast motion photography, all set to the magnificent soundtrack of birds.

It makes me wonder about what our ears have been busy with for the past six months -- the silence must have been deafening! Sometimes you don't realize what you've been missing until you have it again.

Tonight we're going to work on setting up for the St. Paul ACC show. I had an experience setting up for Baltimore that reminded me of the returning birdsong. We had unpacked some of my work and had hung several pieces when I glanced up from the picture I was unwrapping and saw a whole wall of my work and it made me catch my breath.

You see, I make my pieces and frame them and then I wrap them up and store them in a closet until they come out to be shown (which only happens about twice per year.) So once they're finished, I almost never see them.

It's like I invest so much of myself in them and then they just slip away out of sight and mind. Someday I'd love to have gallery space in my studio so I could have work hanging all the time, but for now their appearances are fleeting and it's really special to me when I get to see them and remember.

Like having the birds come back and hearing them sing again.

I didn't even know how much I had been missing my pieces, so I'm looking forward to seeing their song in my booth
again this weekend --

a chance to get my voice
out of the closet
and make some noise.

Today I wrote another Spring poem, and I feel justified in publishing it because my mother doesn't have a blog, so who's going to do it
if I don't?

Birdsong, sky-flute
voice without words,
a drum of wings beating
the sun its praise
from the singing trees.

"The bluebird carries the sky on his back,"


If that's true, I hope he'll settle on a branch here for awhile and maybe build a little nest. It's spring in Minnesota, and we've earned a bit of blue sky and sunshine.



tell anyone,
but . . .

This isn't the post I intended to write today. I've been mulling over an idea for several days now,

but I just haven't been able to grab the time to get it written.

I guess I've been pretty busy.

But what could possibly have me too busy to keep in touch with you, dear friends?

Rest assured I'm not hung over
from irresponsible weekend partying . . .

Nor have I been working on my tennis game (I don't even HAVE a tennis game to work on, unfortunately!) . . .

And Russ and I have certainly not joined a square-dancing club . . . (There's no dancing in his world, although I wonder if I could talk him into swell matching outfits?)

I've not been busy preparing our winter clothes for storage, because this is Minnesota and we might need them again next week . . .

Nor have I been rejoicing in the fabulous fulfillment of truly white laundry . . .

I've not been disinfecting the bathrooms while wearing a dress, although the bathrooms would probably benefit from such an action. But that's my husband's department -- I no longer clean bathrooms, having turned that job over to him years ago . . .
(that's only one of the reasons it's perfectly fine that he refuses to take me dancing)

Nor have I been preparing delicious meals with the bounty I preserved from last summer's garden (that I didn't plant -- this year's not looking particularly promising either) . . .

I haven't been cooking at all, now that you mention it, although this delicious Jello Prune Whip mold could possibly tempt me out of retirement . . .

And I most certainly have not been experimenting with new beauty products (although "Odor-O-No" may potentially come in handy at the show later this week) . . .

No, I've not been busy with any of the above.

Because it's Framing Week, Silly!

But I'll be finished soon, and will get back to the computer to write a proper Wednesday post in which I promise you will most certainly

Features which, of course, you richly deserve.

And if you all behave until then . . . perhaps even Prune Whip.
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