Magpie Monday returns.



I want to make you my home --

slip in, unnoticed perhaps

drop my keys in a silvery announcement

and fall across your sofa

a wide lap of welcome

my shoes can stay at the door

unneeded forever, bare

feet padding softly through your rooms

we'll let the ivy curl wildly

up over our windows

dappling the view, keeping our secret

safe, this place I've seen

somewhere before, familiar

and only waiting for me to arrive


So nice to be 
back in the saddle!

For more Magpie Tales, visit here.
(And then consider 
contributing a few words
of your own!)




The professional liar.

By which I mean 
lying about 
one's profession, 
of course.

At the show, our next door neighbor was a doll maker whose work was beautiful.  Her mother sculpted the porcelain faces and limbs. Then she took over, painting and dipping them in beeswax for a lovely and subtle luster.  She also made the bodies and dressed them.

But even better than her work was her sense of humor.



She kept us laughing all weekend.  I loved, for instance, when she was standing in my booth and staring into her own for awhile and then said, "Who would even want a doll?  I don't even like dolls.  They creep me out."

We laughed and pointed out that she'd been selling dolls for over 20 years.
If she didn't like them, why did she make them?

"I don't know," she said flatly.  
"I just liked making dolls when I was little and I didn't know how to stop."

But my favorite conversation with the doll maker was about lies.  

"Don't you hate having to make up lies about what you do?" she asked.  I wasn't sure exactly what she meant and inquired further.

"Like when you're buying supplies," she said.  "For a long time people would ask me what I do and I would say, 'I make dolls.'  Then I would have to watch the look of pity come over their faces before I finished that pathetic sentence with . . . 'with my mother.'  

Tee hee.

She further explained that she had since constructed several useful lies to explain her profession.  When she's buying supplies, for instance, she says that she "teaches summer art classes to kids."  But she was quick to add that it's somewhat hazardous, all that lying.  If she hasn't properly prepared her husband for what she might say at a party, for instance,  he may shoot her a look of shocked surprise when the lie pops out.

All of it made me laugh.

But I'm sympathetic to having a hard time explaining what I do.  When I say "art," for instance, people immediately assume paintings.  When I say "fiber," they have no idea what I'm talking about.  And if I try to clarify that with "fabric," they jump right to quilting.  It's usually easier to not say anything at all.

In the doll maker's "pathetic" scenario, 
I'd probably be cast in the unfortunate role of the mother. 

Because Hannah and I spend a lot of time discussing things we could make or do together that would surely bring us artistic fame and fortune.

As Hannah is quick to point out, she

"Just knows how the world should look."

And she does have a splendid design eye.  Which I am definitely going to miss in our shared "Creative Suite" now that she's gone back to Virginia to school.

That's right -- after having her home for nearly a year and a half, she's fledged again and is winging her way across the country with her new car packed to the gills.  

Although it was a difficult decision for her,
she decided to leave all of her vintage hats at home this semester. 

"I've learned to pack much lighter," she explained, which didn't exactly jibe with the massive antique birdcage she was loading into her car to display her extensive earring collection.  It's a fabulous display piece, but doesn't immediately conjure images of a sparsely furnished dorm room.

 I'll definitely be thinking of her 
often and fondly while she's away. 

But first I'm going to clean her corner of the studio, and her bedroom, and her bathroom.  

Then I'll bake up some chocolate chip cookies and pack them carefully in a box, perhaps with a message from my fortune cookie fortune collection tucked into the tupperware for good luck.

Because I can't lie about my profession.

I am, first and foremost, a mother, and any art I may create will always be secondary to my world-class chocolate chip cookies, full of comfort and mother love.

My body may be in the studio, but my mind flits constantly,
keeping a sharp eye for juicy worms and dangerous predators.

Good luck, Sweetie, 
and have a wonderful year! (*sniff*)


(I'll keep the nest warm 
until Thanksgiving.)



Don't believe everything you THINK . . .

One of the ways to pass time during the lulls at shows is looking around at the attendees/other artists and talking about them. 

Art shows make for notoriously good people watching, for one thing, being populated as they are by not only a crazy group of creative geniuses but also throngs of shoppers proudly wearing everything (at once) they've ever purchased at such a venue.  And some of them have been collecting these wardrobe enhancements for some time . . .

But these circumstances can sometimes lead even the kindest of us to make snap judgments.  First, you assume that every other artist in the building is making money hand-over-fist and will undoubtedly sell out over the course of the weekend, while your own work sits patiently waiting for just the right appreciator to recognize its brilliance.

Then you make assumptions about those possible appreciators themselves, such as -- too rich, too poor, too disinterested, too high-brow, too low-brow . . . you can't possibly avoid making such pronouncements in your head as the hours and the shoppers shuffle by.

When in reality, it's probable that
almost NOTHING you assume is accurate.

I spoke to one artist  -- a true industry veteran and one of the hardest working show dogs I've ever seen -- whom I have always assumed was pulling in 20K per show, only to learn that Sunday was as slow for her as it was for me (although she was relieved to have finally managed a $60.00 sale.)

Yet another lesson in the futility of judging . . . better to just sit quietly and focus on the things you KNOW, such as that San Francisco is a wonderful city (albeit freezing),

 The Herbst Pavilion, Bldg. 1 of the ACC San Francisco and home to booth #111.

that you're insanely lucky to be able to make  the things you love, and also absolutely privileged to be able to share them with like-minded others at such a beautiful show.

I've never done a show in a venue where there are seals in the parking lot . . .

. . . not to mention things like whatever this thing is.  And I showed up in SF with no coat (it being August and all).  Silly me!  Luckily, my mother is smarter than I am and lent me her lovely sweater for the weekend, which quite literally saved my life.  Thanks, Mom!

Which leads us to the 
Small Works Show Report, 
ACC San Francisco Edition:

"San Francisco itself is art . . . ."  

William Saroyan

And what a show it was!  

It never occurred to me that wearing a polka dot dress in my booth might be . . . shall we say . . . overkill.  
Oops!  By the third comment, I was seriously questioning my choice.

The quality was equal to that of the work in Baltimore, but in a much more manageable quantity. Our booth neighbors were absolutely delightful, and we made enough money to make driving across both Nebraska and Nevada TWICE worthwhile.

 Nevada, of course.  The first time.

What more can one person ask for? 

I had a good feeling from the moment I first slid into a San Francisco taxi and, looking down, noticed a fortune cookie fortune sitting pristinely on the floor.  Being the fortune junkie that I am, I of course assumed Ms. Fate had placed it there expressly for my personal guidance and enjoyment and scooped it up.  It said:

I was a little concerned about the "social skills" part, naturally, but knew I had a trusty booth hand by my side who would be more than willing to schmooze as needed. So I put a lucky feeling in my pocket with the fortune and decided to feel positive no matter what gymnastics my stomach engaged in.

And my little works were indeed well received!

The audience was appreciative and engaged, the conversations meaningful, and I somehow even managed to touch a few art lovers deeply enough to be invited into their homes to take up a permanent residence of sorts.  The supreme compliment.

There was some of the usual silliness, of course, but as I've said before, the ridiculous comments only add to the entertainment value and are reason in and of themselves to participate in shows.

Besides, we need those comments so that after the show, we can come home and share them with you, dear readers!

Overheard at the Show . . . 

One favorite, directed not at my booth but at the hall in general, came from the man who looked around and pronounced, "I expected it to be more like . . . ART."

Russ enjoyed the moment when a woman requested one of my cards, which he gladly handed her, and when she looked at it she immediately blurted, "now that's an UGLY card!"

And I waited quietly and for some time while a person carefully read everything in my booth before she turned to me and said, "You've obviously had A LOT of therapy."  How to respond?  Thank you?

I also enjoyed the comment from the person who looked through my magnifying glass for a second, then said "Oh.  You're a perfect person.  This tells me everything I need to know about you."

Hmmmm . . .

But all in all it was a great (and exhausting!) success.

We were fortunate to be joined by my parents in SF, 
and were also able to visit Russ' Mom, and participate in a family wedding to boot!

The route looked like pin-ball, with our truck bouncing from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City, to San Francisco, back to Salt Lake, down to St. George, to Las Vegas, back to St. George, and then home again and only a little worse for the wear.

The truck has spilled its contents into the dining room, and just as soon as I get a little energy I'm going to put everything away and then get back to work . . .

I promise.  Really.  

Ummm . . . yeah. 

 (at least I THINK I will.)*

*see post title





Friday already?  This particular Friday already?  
It must mean it's time to load up the ol' truck 
and head out to San Francisco for some fun.  

We figure that with just about 33 hours of driving and a little luck, we'll be there in plenty of time to get set up, eat some great Chinese food, greet my parents (who are so kindly coming!) and appear perfectly calm and relaxed when the doors open and I turn my work loose on the west coast for our maiden voyage.

Of course, this being an ACC Show, 

we have to haul the booth AND the work, 

which means we'll be driving the truck.  

It's just a little . . . how shall I say it . . . UNCOMFORTABLE. 
What seemed like a great deal at the time (because it is so stripped down) seems like a bit of a mistake (because it is so stripped down) after you've been in it for more than about 20 minutes.

But we invested in some extra bum cushions and a lovely car stereo for this trip,
which can't help but improve things, right?

In fact, I'm predicting 
that the drive is going 
to be easy-as-pie.

Wanna' see who's going along with me?  
(Besides my trusty booth hand, of course) 

 Well, first I suppose I should show you who's NOT going with me:

As much as I ADORE this little 3-D lady,  and as much as she is simply DYING to share her opinions with anyone who will listen, I encountered framing difficulties in the construction of an appropriate "environment" for her, so while I go back to the drawing board, she's going back on my bookshelf to wait for a future show.  (But isn't she fun?)

Now back to who IS invited to the party:

Career Option No. 24, Susan M. Hinckley, 2010

First up is "Career Option No. 24", sporting a simply marvelous old flashcard (that I paid a bundle for but had to have!) and a delightful starry frame.  His mustache is just terrific and so are the turquoise stones in the border -- it's a piece that would someday look GREAT in my Santa Fe house, if he decides to hang around permanently.  And let's hope he doesn't.

The other new face in the booth 
belongs to this little lady:

Mood Music, Susan M. Hinckley, 2010

I'm unexpectedly delighted at how well "Mood Music" turned out.  Every time I look at it, it makes me smile.  I love the ruffly green border and her tentative expression, as well as the little birdie who's singing his yellow heart out upstairs.  A bit of a self portrait, I suppose.  Maybe that's why I've grown so attached.

If you're going to be in San Francisco August 13-15, please stop by the show (booth #111) and say "hello" in person.  I'd love to meet you and introduce you to my friends!

If not, I'll eat a fortune cookie for you (or six) and then
Small Works will return August 24 with a Show Report 
full of the goofy antics of west coast craft appreciators. 

(I suspect I'll also have a serious need to stretch my legs after the long drive . . .)

"Open up that Golden Gate . . .
California, Here I come!"



Magpie Monday Matinee.

And it's a double feature --

(A prompt so nice . . . I had to write twice!)


Her childhood kept its secrets

long after she left --

her questions unanswered

fears unmet, the lurk of a spider

spinning noiselessly along its stretch of hall

aloneness, a black yawn of tunnel

always at her back

 these things she carried as she went

an unturned lock whose dark slot

continued to beg a key

its voice too small,

too quiet for anyone to answer.

(Or, if you prefer . . .) 


Wear it on a chain
or put it in a quiet pocket
snapped or safely buttoned shut
but first be sure
you want in, then keep
the key I give you.

You can listen there,
ear pressed against the dark hole
searching for a snatch of light
or sound, something that speaks.

You can peer
into that small round night
of secrets, try to pick me open
but you cannot come
and go as you please.

I am not for passing through,
a wave as you go by
a wind in the keyhole
to knock me away
you'll have to stay, kept in
or locked out as you wish.


Hooray for Magpie Tales,
the best part of my Monday. 
Make it part of yours 
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(and make your own poetry part of its magic.)


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