The Things We Do for Love.

People love to brag -- I mean, tell you -- about their vacations (it seems the girl who cuts my hair always goes on better ones than I do, for instance.)

The conversations go something like this:

I'm going _____________! 
(You're thinking, "Rats! That's somewhere I've always wanted to go. . . ")

I'm ACTUALLY going to get to see _____________________! 
(You're thinking, "Hey -- that's umber one on MY bucket list.")

You smile and say, "Take lots of pictures!  I can't wait to see them!" 
(You're thinking, "Drat Jimmy's orthodontics.  I haven't been on a real vacation for ages. Now I will have to pretend to enjoy the pics.)

People used to come back from their trips and then invite you over to watch their millions of slides . . . at least our technological leaps have brought some advantages.


I could brag about my own upcoming trip . . . 

I mean the jealousy-inducing 20 hour drive to Virginia in the pickup truck to stay in an aging Holiday Inn because everything else in the state seems to be booked!  But bragging isn't really very nice.

On the upside . . . 

And I can certainly
brag about her!  

You might ask (like the girl who cut my hair did)  

That would be a good question.  An even more specific one would be, "Susan, why are you driving that exceptionally uncomfortable truck to Virginia, when you're not even doing a show there?"

(Which reminds me that, looking on the bright side, I'm not doing a show on this vacation!)

The answer to that would perhaps be best illustrated by one of the very first posts to appear on Small Works, written while Hannah was packing to go to college.  I'll replay some of it now:

 Stuff to the Ceiling, Stuff to the Sky. . . 

(Her piles of stuff are a mile high!)

Not MY stuff of course, but that of a certain soon-to-depart college student whose mounting piles have now mostly cut off the entrance to my studio and are threatening to choke the upstairs all together, if left unchecked. Can't we start loading some of that into the trunk of your car? Actually, CAN'T YOU START LOADING SOME OF THAT INTO THE TRUNK OF YOUR CAR??!! I thought I had taught her to "have nothing in your home that you do not find to be useful or believe to be beautiful." Well, in all honesty William Morris taught us both that, but the problem appears to be that: 1) She either can't differentiate between useful and beautiful or, 2) She thinks its just beautiful the way everything might become useful if she hangs on to it. Of course then she comes up with things like Venus made from a Captain Crunch box and I have to forgive her for everything and put it on my coffee table because it's just so -- for lack of a better word -- STUNNING. Everyone should have a Venus made from a Captain Crunch box. In fact, perhaps no one should ever throw away empty Captain Crunch boxes. It's like pouring possibilities down the drain with the leftover gold-tinged-crumb-floating milk. What's that quote about hating most in others the qualities we despise in ourselves?

Here's a PARTIAL list of things I had to step over to get into my studio today:

--2 LARGE metal daisies (these will look great on the walls of my room!!)
--2 expandable peg coat racks (these will be great for hanging my vintage hats on!!)
--1 set hanging baskets (these will be great for keeping STUFF in!!)
--1 enormous plastic bin - ENORMOUS - of painting supplies (I need more painting stuff!!)
--1 large vintage spice rack (I could paint this and put stuff ON IT!!)
--1 big blue IKEA bag full of dishes and rugs (we need more rugs!!)
--2 3-foot pieces vintage wood molding (I could put hooks on these!! And hang stuff!!)
--1 stack empty picture frames (my room needs more pictures!!)

See, she's only taking the essentials. 

I understand completely.

Fast forward to 2011.  Hannah's been living in a room that was designed for 4 girls, but she needed a private room (having once been voted off the island [freshman year] for having too much stuff -- we thought it would be wise) and it was the only room they had left.

She admitted sheepishly when she was visiting for Christmas that I may be "a bit surprised to see just how many THINGS have made their way to Virginia with her!"

Nonsense. I won't be a bit surprised.  I know what's missing.  And I saw her take a fully loaded car every time she left the house to go back to school. 

Hence the need for the truck.  Her car just can't do the job. No car could.  What I'm worried about is the fact that Hannah's room is the only other room on this floor besides MY wonderful and spacious new STUDIO.  Where is all that stuff going to go when we unload the truck?  And how long is it going to be here?

You see the problem.  

But it's going to be so good to 
have our Hannah back again!

(Love you, Sweetie!  You know the drill -- 
keep your head down and no breathing before the wall!  Just a few more days!)

And of course no mother can help but 
be excited to hear which song 
her little fledglings are going 
to attempt to sing next . . .

It's going to be a great trip 
(no guarantees about the aftermath).  

Small Works will return on or around May 4 (if I can find my computer in the rubble).

Y'all come back now!

(Going South. Just getting ready.)



Tuesday? Too Bad . . . I Just Gotta.

Back to our musings about Friends for a moment this Tuesday, Dear Reader -- unusual to find something new on Small Works on a Tuesday, I know,  but sometimes there are things to say that don't fall exactly on the regularly scheduled days. (Which does not necessarily mean that you will not also find Small Works here "same Bat-Time . . . same Bat-Channel".)

The purpose of this Terrific Tidbit of Tuesday-ness is that the mail has been SO KIND lately, that I needed some extra time just to show off. 

Who knew I had three (3!) friends?

You may recall I was musing about 
the wonders of Facebook the other day . . .
One of the re-connections I've been enjoying is with a Dear Old Friend from way back in 8th grade.  Very old friends are indeed gold, as the ditty says, but they can also be perilous.

(Remember what a dork you were in Jr. High?  So do they.)

This particular DOF and I parted, not on the BEST of terms, since the first thing he informed me of (in his friend request -- thanks for being so brave!) was that the last time we spoke I wrote I HATE YOU 14 times in his yearbook.

14 times?!

Oops!  Ahem.  
(Sorry about that.)

Not wanting him to think I grew up to be THAT kind of person (actually, wanting to assure him I actually GREW UP,) I accepted the request and it has been a happy reunion.  Which I should have expected, because you must have really liked someone in the first place to care enough to later write I HATE YOU 14 times, right? So it's worth taking a chance that you had something in common to begin with.

Then with Friday's mail, a package arrived at my door.  This particular DOF obviously grew up to be particularly perceptive, since he picked this peace offering so very well.  First was a book --

gift enough and one I am looking forward to reading, of course.  In all the art/craft realm, about the only thing I haven't tried is pottery, although I love looking at it.  I think I'm drawn to it because of the relationship between the hand and the creation of the object.  Potters must love the feel of clay taking shape the way I love the feel of fabric.

The book would have been enough, but there were other treats as well.

There was this tile:


EXACTLY  the kind of crack he's always liked to make and the kind of thing that can drive an 8th grade girl to reply, "And I hate you!  Times 14!!"  (At this more mature age, of course, it just made me smile and found its way immediately to the studio wall.)

The remaining treasure was better still --

a pottery bowl that not only looks FANTASTIC on my coffee table next to my stack of New Mexico Magazines, but also holds a little piece of NM landscape for these weary MN eyes . . . because of course I couldn't be reacquainted with him for more than 30 seconds before I started blabbing about the glories of New Mexico.

Best of all is that the two pieces of pottery are by the author of the book!  


(Oh yes -- and chocolate. Sorry, girls. He's married.)
Thank you, thank you, DOF.

However, we aren't done yet . . .

On the same day, another kind of wonderful friend, of the Friend-You-Didn't-Know-You-Had variety, also sent a wonderful package!

The fabulous Julie of San Diego, who has become my most beloved personal garage sale shopper since she popped up out of nowhere and sent me those unbelievably good vintage fortune-telling cards awhile back, sent me another great FYDKYH package!

It contained two books:

both of which are just delightful and full of illustrations (such as the postman at the beginning of this post!) and which will find a happy home not only on my shelf, but also in my future work.

(And when Julie needs to enclose a note in a package, it's likely to be on something nifty like the back of an old playing card.)

Thank you, Julie! I am always deeper in your debt. 
You continue to be the best friend a girl could not know she even had.

Then Monday arrived and just as I had finally thrown out the packaging from Friday's mail bonanza, I was greeted with another treat-by-post, this time from BF (blog friend) Leenie, whose talents I admire and respect (and sigh over) almost daily on her delightful blog, Side Trips. If you haven't visited Leenie's blog, it's worth a visit today and every day.

Leenie can do EVERYTHING and does EVERYTHING VERY WELL, as near as I can tell.  Including being a BF.

This package contained a beautiful framed watercolor ATC, just perfect for someone who used to live in Seattle but now finds she doesn't.  There was also some artistic encouragement in the form of pencils and a notebook.

How I became worthy of  such a gift from a BF remains a mystery to me, as do most of the wonders of the blog world, and I only hope I can in some small way repay the many kindnesses I experience almost daily in the form of lovely comments and even your generous, lurking presences (which I can sense, and stats can confirm.)

Thank you, thank you, to all of my friends,

old and new -- you DOF's, FYDKYH's, and BF's who make my blog
-- and most especially, my ACTUAL --
life worth living and so much richer and more meaningful.

And thanks for allowing me to be me, and liking me anyway. 

(Especially if I once wrote hateful things in your yearbook.)



"Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn't happen." -- Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby


It is day 5 of bird drama at Small Works Usually that would mean I've been stitching for 5 days on a bird and it won't sing.  Today, it's more sinister (and even more beyond my control!)

A robin has been repeatedly ramming itself into the window of my studio since Thursday.  It's sitting on a rail that runs about a foot from my window and every few seconds, it just flies up and throws itself at it, resulting in an unsettling "scritch-scratch-thump . . . scritch-scratch-thump".  I am going slowly insane.

Or the robin is.  Or both. 

I've tried scaring it away (it only goes away long enough for me to sit down to work again), talking sweetly to it, and explaining that it is being stupid and will eventually kill itself in my most authoritative voice.  I've inspected the surrounding area for any possible nest or something that may be confusing or threatening it, but aside from a copious amount of robin droppings and a feather or two on the ground, I can't see anything at all.

Sometimes I wish someone would stop me
from banging my head against the same metaphorical windows again and again.
(They probably try, of course, and I'm just not paying attention.)  

The universe could at this very moment be waving its arms wildly at me and by turns yelling and gently explaining about some aspect of my behavior or another. But I'm pretty hard-headed.

Last night I came across a line in the book I'm reading that I just loved.  It said:

If there is going to be any striking down 
you have to do it yourself. 
God does not do it for you.

-- Madeline L'Engle (from Camilla)

So if you happen to see me ramming myself repeatedly into a window at any time in the future, won't one of you kindly leave a comment and let me know? 

Oh wait, Susan (you're thinking) -- you mean like:

Having to lose the same 7 pounds over and over and over and over again?

Having to sort through PILES of studio detritus to unearth your desk on roughly the same schedule?

Having to engage in spring cleaning that, if you'd done spring cleaning in 2009, would have been so much easier?

(All of these behaviors come factory-equipped with a supply of intentions to, after THIS time, change my ways so as not to have to repeat them.)

Thanks for your input.  It is invaluable . . .
But we'll skip the rest of the list, if you don't mind.

(Happy Monday!)




Easter, old school.

(Hope you're in the hunt for a memorable holiday!)



It's a Small World After All.


Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.

-- Rachel Carson

The earth is what we all have in common.

-- Wendell Berry

You forget that the fruits belong to all and that the land belongs to no one.

-- Jean-Jacques Rousseau

If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food, either.

-- Joseph Wood Krutch

The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility.  To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.

-- Wendell Berry

The earth we abuse and the living things we kill will, in the end, take their revenge, for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future.

-- Marya Mannes

Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest.

-- Douglas Jerrold

It is indeed, after all, a small world . . .




"Old friends . . . old friends . . . sat on their park bench like bookends . . ."

Technology and I are uneasy companions.  It takes me awhile to warm up to things, and electronic devices usually prove to be fickle friends.  They don't like the vibes I give off, I guess.  I've always been socially awkward, but can a person be technologically awkward?  Because I am.

Which explains why I was fairly slow and completely uncertain about joining the Facebook revolution -- I couldn't see any use for it at all.

Until one day I considered how utterly frustrated I was by my parents' refusal to have a cell phone.

And  until I started realizing that we were missing out on pretty much everything that was going on in my husband's family. They'd send him messages and include him in all their conversations, of course, except he didn't check his Facebook page more than about twice a year.  When a baby was born (and I had no idea there was even a pregnancy), I decided it was time to change my ways and join the world of Facebook.


And yes, 
I can honestly say 
that I "like" it!

I was put off by the idea of a continual high school reunion -- not having had a desire to attend any actual reunions in my 30+ years of dining away from the high school lunchroom, I couldn't imagine why I would want to invite any of the characters that populated my youth to share the lunchroom of my adult life.

However, in perusing the lists of "people I may know", 
I have noticed some exciting trends:  

1) The boys I couldn't get a date with?  BALD!

2) The homecoming queens to whom I could never hope to measure up?  


3) And the people I truly missed and have been lucky enough to reconnect with?  Still my friends for the same reasons we chose the same lunch tables all those years ago . . .

It's simply fascinating to interact with everyone in your life at once.  From the neighbor of your distant past to the person you just met last week -- friends are indeed the bookends, and in between there have been a whole lot of volumes.

Few are the people who have read them all, but so many share important chapters of the story -- it's just like suddenly having access to all the books on my shelf at once.

There's also the ability to spy on your children.  How else would I have known, for instance, that Lindsay went water-skiing last weekend?  Yup.  Ice out on Tuesday, boat in on Sunday. That's just ridiculous and I'll have to remember to scold.  45 degree water + 45 degree air does not equal 90 degrees.  Tut tut.

Or that Hannah was up at 2 in the morning putting together treasuries on Etsy?  Invaluable information.

And although she won't use a cell phone, my mom's right in there on Facebook with everyone else -- "liking" and commenting and generally keeping her circle broad and her eyes and ears open.  I think it's absolutely wonderful.

Sometimes the world is so full of the inconceivable, 
it's hard to imagine where things will go next.

Whatever future wagon comes by, 
I hope I'll stay nimble enough to hop on 
for a good many years yet.

(You're never going to 
get me to tweet, however.  
Just sayin'.)



Writing Wednesday.




a sort of egg, a self-contained start
not knowing what came first or when
a strange place to find myself
here, where I've been before
and the part of me that left
right back where I stayed
waiting for my own return --
I suppose I needed time to want
to be here, a reason
to visit the past, that country
long left but looming all the same
I can run but my quick steps
carve a spiral path
circling in upon myself, then back
to stand here where I hope
I'll stay, still and waiting but
for what, I cannot say

-- smh

Nothing better for a Wednesday than a Magpie Tale!  Want to write your own?  I guarantee it will help you over the hump . . .

for inspiration, 
hop on over here  
and read a few more.



Love Can't Buy Me Money.


Monday already?! 

Just kidding -- I absolutely feel like it's Monday
and I spent the weekend doing a show,
and I look a little like it too,
which is why there will never be a blog cam . . .


But what a privilege to participate in the 
2011 American Craft Council St. Paul Show!

Howdy from booth #2402, ACC St. Paul 2011 Show!

Because of the ACC's relocation this year from NYC to MSP, they really kicked things up a notch, celebrating what they referred to as their 70th "re-birth day" in grand style.

The Gala Preview Party was just lovely -- I felt it was appropriate to wear something special as a nod to the event, and so I dusted off my fabled red cowboy boots (since the party was only 3 hours long . . . you'll never find me in boots on a full show day!) I know -- I've owed you a picture of these for a long time, but unfortunately in this photo you cannot see the peace sign zippers . . . they're SWELL and put me in a perfect mood to kick off a weekend spent sharing the labor of my love with like-minded friends.

The booth looked good . . .


And did you notice the lovely flowers on my table?! 

Right after the show opened on Friday, the florist swept into my booth to present them to me, complete with a card that conspicuously lacked a signature.  

Flowers from Anonymous??!  
Why thank you, Anonymous!  (I suppose you know who you are.) 

The uncanny thing was, each bloom looked as if 
I had picked it myself to coordinate with my work. 

It was a wonderful way to begin 
what we figured out was actually my 20th show!

Unfortunately, I have to confess . . . it was my WORST show in terms of money.  There was enough to pay the bills, but I could really have used a thick layer of icing on that cake the weekend before tax day!

However, it was my BEST show in terms of love!  The audience was so engaged, so appreciative of my work, so willing to spend time with each and every piece -- and for me, that's really the best payment of all.  (Unfortunately, they were also for the most part victims of the same economy in which I find myself struggling.)

Most artists have had to change their focus a bit -- offering more smalls, lowering prices, sometimes switching mediums entirely -- in an effort to survive what is now becoming an extended period of lagging sales. I've been truly fortunate to have the luxury to just keep doing what I want to do, because I'm not in the position of having to use my craft to finance my health insurance.  And I know how blessed I am.

But being at a show always reminds me why the fine craft world is the best of all possible clubs to which one can belong.  

Because nearly without exception, everyone there is driven by a pure motive.  They're there because they love -- and NEED -- to create.  And they can't keep that love from spilling out, so therefore they must of necessity craft a container in which to hold it.  
The containers vary greatly, but all reflect the hands and the passion that created them.  

Although many must also do it for money, all do it for love.  

It continues to be a wonder to me.

And many who come to the shows come for love as well -- of the handmade, of the intimacy of forming a connection with an object's maker, of their need to plumb their own creative depths.

Shows are just full of goodness, 
which is infinitely better than money.  

(No one goes into craft to get rich.)

Which must bring us to . . . 

Overheard at the Show!

I'm a bit flummoxed today because, as I mentioned earlier, my work got so much love I have very little of a snarky nature to report.  People were almost unfailingly kind!

Although I could see almost immediately that "whimsical" seemed to be the new "cute" -- 
(and I recoil from both words equally.)

I did have one person inform me that I "do not look like my sense of humor."  I had no idea whether that was a compliment or a dig.  I DO know I'm happy I don't look like the characters in my work!

One woman confided that my work "needs more than a second glance," which is what I've been trying to convince people of for years.

And one of the other artists shared a tale of a terrible show in which she sold almost nothing, but invested a whole lot -- she said at one point she actually found herself crying in the arms of a security guard!  I believe it. 

(That's why I always bring my trusty booth hand -- 
to keep me from dampening the shirts of the show staff.)

And one woman spent some time telling me about the pottery she creates (I always ask people if they are makers because I love to hear them tell about their work). She told me that her work was mostly functional, although she also "makes many things she has not yet figured out the purpose for."

Amen to that! 

And amen to the woman who, with great feeling, exclaimed, 



Which is what makes shows so utterly worthwhile.  

As Russ said, "You can't BUY experiences like this," 

and then after pausing for a moment to consider the costs, added, 

"actually . . . I GUESS THAT'S WHAT WE'RE DOING!"


We had a good laugh, but we both absolutely agreed . . . 
it was most definitely a weekend, AND money, well spent.

(thanks for the love . . . 
which all the money in the world can't buy.)



Wednesday? Well then . . .

Time to load up the truck at last -- 
headed for St. Paul to set up for the big show:

My cutting it close has reached new heights 
in preparation for this show --

I guess I need the discipline of having to travel to shows to get me ready in a more timely manner.  
(Or to just get some self-discipline.)

But I finished two new pieces for the show!
  Two, you say?  Only two?!

Let us not forget that Baltimore was only 6 weeks ago, friends . . . and one of the new pieces has 10 characters in it:

Back at the Ranch, Susan M. Hinckley, 30" x 2.5", 2011

This piece turned out to be really fun -- to make, and hopefully to have in the booth.  The letters are leather with the most wonderful crackly finish, and the dot over the "i" is the pearl button cover from a western shirt.  I had more fun with this piece than I've had in a long time!  When I do these tiny characters, I cut them freehand from my scrap pile and therefore I'm never quite sure who's going to materialize until they show up.

Vocabulary Lesson No. 26, Susan M. Hinckley, 2011

I always love doing my Vocabulary Lesson pieces, and this was no exception -- at this show, he'll be keeping company with my idiosyncratic dog and my lackadaisical chicken.  I think a gourmet cat was just the thing.

I apologize for the pictures, which are dismal even by my low standards, but you can attribute them to your choice of factors:

1) running like mad for 3 days
2) too much caffeine
3) no good light available at the last second

I hope to see a lot of friendly faces this weekend, so if you're in or around St. Paul, please stop by booth 2402 and say hello! After all, you'll want to do something to take your mind off the impending snowstorm . . . 

Yes, you read that right.  And if you're lucky enough to be somewhere it's still spring, please come back Monday for everybody's favorite blog feature . . .

The Small Works Show Report!

(I'll take good notes.)

Adios, Amigos!




My desk has reached new heights of buried-ness this morning as a result of my mad-dash-to-the-ACC-finish on Wednesday.  I suppose now might be an appropriate time to start placing your bets . . .

Question:  Will Susan ever be ready the week BEFORE a show so that she can spend the last few days doing her nails, eating bon bons (oops! not on the pre-show diet, so scrap that) and reflecting  (insomnia -- unavoidable) on the many joys of participating in fine craft shows?


But if you'd like to place a bet against astronomical odds,
the payoff could be big if it ever actually happens.


More Western studio fun this past weekend, 

as a few new characters showed their faces around the Small Works Ponderosa:

 Good Guy (where was he when we needed him Friday?  Unfinished?. . . figures.)

Mysterious Indian, who does not appear to be armed, 
but should probably still be watched if only because he's acting pretty suspicious . . .

  Little Amigo who looks like he could score me some decent green chile . . .


Honestly . . .

Yes, stay out of the kitchen, Kiddies, because the entire Small Works staff is busy (and admittedly a little cranky) but PLEASE come back Wednesday for the big reveal . . .  (now THAT'S positive thinking!)

Happy (please-let-me-learn-my-lesson-about-procrastination) Monday!

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