Monday, December 28, 2015

Paper art

I am standing in a hotel lobby, waiting for the elevator when I see some art on the wall that catches my eye because it uses paper in an interesting way and I am always attracted to art that uses paper, handmade or otherwise. There are broad strokes of black ink on the page and then torn pieces of paper attached so that it creates depth and shadows. I am intrigued. I consider it. I look closer. I stand back. Then I read the placard that says it has been created by a 5th grader. Doh!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Handmade on eBay?

I guess you know you are on a successful selling platform when everyone else wants to copy it. Here the story:

eBay Launches New Artisan Collective
By Ina Steiner
December 09, 2015

eBay wants to be in on the craze for handmade goods after Amazon launched an Etsy-style store, and it launched the eBay Artisan Collective on Tuesday. Do Etsy and Amazon have anything to worry about?

eBay launched the Artisan Collective and encouraged its marketing affiliates to promote the curated collection. Scott Parent posted on the eBay Partner Network blog a post in which he called the Artisan Collective "an all-new destination for unique artisanal finds. This curated collection was launched to highlight crafted goods and high-quality treasures."

But artisans looking for exposure may be disappointed. Parent said the collective is made up of several small batch makers including Three Bird Nest, Milk and Honey Luxuries, and Mystic Knotwork.

Interestingly one of those sellers, Three Bird Nest, was at the center of a controversy recently when its high-profile founder departed the Etsy site, though by choice or by request isn't known for sure.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Postage increase

Just took a big gulp when I saw the postal increase coming January 17, 2016. There will be a 12.8 percent average increase for domestic First Class packages, with the most notable change for packages weighing less than 8 ounces. Since I ship most of my products via USPS First Class mail, and they are usually less than 8 ounces, I am wondering how much of an impact this rate increase will have on my online business. Yikes!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Throw-back Thursday

Remembering when I used to make wedding invitations featuring my handmade paper and a real pressed flower on every invitation. Phew, those wedding suites of paper were a lot of work! This particular order had wedding invitations, smaller RSVP cards AND thank you cards. They turned out so pretty that I was sad to see them go.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Etsy seller handbook feature!

Yay! I just opened an email from Etsy that has my shop as a feature.

That blog post from Hill City Bride has been an amazing source of marketing for my shop, bringing in thousands of views. I wrote it several years ago and gave the basics for making plantable paper shapes. (Because of the traffic it brought to my shop, I later went on to write several tutorials that are for sale in my shop. They outline much more detailed info, tips for problem solving, information on different kinds of recycled paper content and more.) Years later and I still get daily views from Hill City Bride, which leads to likes for my shop, which gets me more exposure across Etsy, which hopefully drives more sales.

I remember once reading about Etsy pushing shops to promote themselves outside of Etsy to bring traffic in. Many sellers were irritated by this idea and believed that they gave Etsy a slice of their income to do the promoting for them. This blog post is a stellar example of why that outside marketing is so important. And here's a visual to back it up, showing what happened to my stats as soon as the email went out:

Thanks Etsy. And thanks Hill City!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Jeans Greens

A while back, a woman named Holly contacted me and asked if I wholesaled my cards. The day before she called, I had just decided that I was going to start wholesaling them so I wash't sure if it was a little freaky or a little divine intervention that brought her to me. She said she thought my cards would be the perfect pairing for her store, Jean's Greens, which had lots of herbal things in it. When I went to her website ( to check out the store, the first thing I saw was this quote:

Nature uses as little as possible of anything. ~ Johannes Kepler

A quote that basically sums up my philosophy of living and how I think. Then I read the explanation of her shop and I was hooked:

"As I move about the shop among the teas, the herbs, the preparations, the gifts, the jewelry, the books, the everything, I am struck by how many hands have had a hand in creating all of it. Mugs were shaped, oils strained, leaves picked, seeds planted, boxes shipped, shelves stocked, packages wrapped, and more. So many hands, so many caring people, so many others who make Jean’s Greens possible. As the old table blessing goes, “Bless the hands that have prepared this meal from seed to table.” As I consider the many hands that are our partners, I too, silently give thanks for all the hands that have blessed our path… Our cover this year reflects all of these hands. Some we know, some we never see; but we know they are there, preparing and caring. In this year, I invite you to think about the many hands in your life—hands that care, support and shape your journey, hands that guide you on your way. And consider how your hands make a difference in the lives of others, completing the circle. May they be instruments of love and light in this year."

I am thrilled to now be selling the Petal Petal cards shown below at Jean's Greens Herbal Tea Works & Herbal Essentials, located at 1545 Columbia Turnpike in Schodack, New York. If you stop in, tell them Martha sent you!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

My Christmas elf

Today, I heard a little sneeze come from somewhere deep in the branches of the Christmas tree, then I felt something bat at my leg. I think it might have been a little Christmas elf. Later, he had to nap in the warm sun to rest up from all the hard work of spying.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


I have been asked by a local alternative school to teach a week of papermaking as part of a section on electives at their high school. It's rather intense because I will be teaching for 5 full school days, 8:30 am to 2:20 p.m. I have taught papermaking for years in adult ed, after-school programs, summer camps and the like, but usually as one- or two-day workshops. So I am wondering what the heck I am going to teach to fill out so many hours and days. Making paper is cool and can go in many very creative directions but for five full days to high school age kids?!

But I am excited for the challenge and have been diving into all of my books on making paper and teaching papermaking to come up with a lesson plan. The more I plan, the more I have been reminded about all the fascinating things about making paper. I have planned a field trip to a paper manufacturer to see the commercial process of making paper. I am going to teach making paper using the dip method, which is the way I learned, but I will also teach the pour method. I plan to have a session on watermarks, on using clay molds to make cast papers, and we'll try our hand at designing and making a pulp painting to give to the school for their annual fund-raising auction. I am focusing half the day on studio work and half the day on classroom studies but it means I have had to hit the books myself to brush up on all those little things I used to know, including about some of the science of making paper - like the role that surface tension plays in papermaking, and all the interesting details about the cellulose molecule - and, of course, lots of social studies on the origins and history of paper. There is a fascinating story about how Egyptian mummies were imported to the United States so they could be stripped of their linen bandages to make pulp when there was a rag shortage.

So glad I kept all my fantastic books collected over many years about making paper by hand and teaching papermaking. Time to take a break from holiday crafting to hit the books!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Yoga Mandali

In my homage to retail spaces selling my work, the next space focus is on Yoga Mandali, a yoga studio on Broadway in Saratoga Springs. I haven't been doing yoga lately (I go in phases with exercise and movement, from water aerobics to pilates to, most recently, walking 5 miles a day and doing weight training), but when I regularly practiced, I adored the classes at Yoga Mandali. I loved it so much that I actually briefly considered taking a 200-hour teacher training program to deepen my practice and understand the poses more thoroughly.

Yoga Mandali is a wide-reaching studio deeply immersed in the tradition of Bhakti (the yoga of devotion). They host special events all year long from kirtans to yoga book club to vegan cooking classes. And my very favorite perfume is an amazing oil that I buy from the studio store that has a hint of patchouli in it without being a blatantly hippy scent. When I am wearing it and hug someone, they always ask what scent I have on and where they can buy it. Naturally, I am psyched that the Studio Store is now carrying my Petal People card of a person doing a yoga bend. (One of my yoga friends was charmed at the fact that this yoga person even has a little tail bone.)

I know I will circle back around to a regular yoga practice some day, but right now I am obsessed with my FitBit and feel such a huge accomplishment when I get an email from my little device congratulating me on the total amount of steps I have walked. Or when a recent hike prompted an email on how many stories I had climbed that day. Very motivating!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cone sculptures

My weaving cones sculptures have sold out at my artist cooperative but never fear, more are on their way! If you are stopping in this weekend for our open house, you will see a bunch of new ones, including these, which are my two favorites. (Apologies for the fuzzy pictures - too much to do!)

I made a very tall Santa, more than a foot tall:

and this little guy, who might be an elf of some kind. My favorite part is the little star garland that he is holding. I started running out of the red handmade paper so I had to improvise with this guy. I might like him even more than the others I made, with his straw-colored paper and a body of torn book pages.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Swatch Swap

I got my first Christmas present this week! My Swatch Swap book has arrived! If you don't know what the heck I am talking about, you can catch up here:

So excited to feel all these wonderful papers and get inspired by the pages and pages of swatches and recipes others have provided. Yay for papermakers from all over the world!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

I love this quote by Robert Lewis Stevenson. It is a quote I have used when giving advice to others, as a parent, and it even inspired a product of graduation-themed cupcake toppers:

But it is also one of those meaningful bits of wisdom that sometimes I need to remember and apply to my own life. This week has been a reminder that I often plant seeds and then forget about them, and I am always bemused when they grow into something and give me a nudge to keep on planting new seeds.

A year or so ago, I had been talking to the owner of a local garden nursery. She surprised me by knowing who I was because she knows my neighbor and recognized me. We got to talking and I learned that during the off-season she makes and sells her own pottery. As artists do, we compared notes on where to sell and what works best. She mentioned that she has an artisans showcase every year on the first weekend in December where she sells her work as well as the work of a select group of hand-picked artists that complement the design work that she does. It has grown into a substantial event with food, booze and an intimate shopping experience with a targeted market of people who like unique, handmade items and are looking for a more meaningful way to shop for the holidays. I told her if she ever has any extra space that I would love to participate. Then it completely left my brain. This week, almost a year later, she contacted me and asked me if I would like to be one of the artists. I was so tickled and said yes immediately, especially because her flower market is the perfect venue for a new design of gift tags that I made this week, on a total whim: tiny little folded cards with real pressed flowers on them.

If you aren't local, you can get a set in my Etsy shop here:

If you are local to Saratoga County in upstate New York, come, bring a friend, an empty belly and socialize. You never know who you might meet and what seeds you might plant that will sprout in a year or so!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Alexander Graham Hell

I like to mess with solicitors and scam artists who call me. I always think that the time they waste talking to me might save an elderly person from being scammed out of money. So any time I have some flexibility to play with them, I dive in deep and spend a good amount of time wasting theirs. Here's a recent example of how a call goes:

me: Hello?

man: Good morning, ma'am, I am calling blah, blah, blah

me: Tony? Is that you?

man: No, ma'am, I am calling about blah, blah, blah

me: I want my car back, Tony.

man: This is not a sales call. Blah, blah, blah

me: Don't play games with me, Tony. I wouldn't have let you take it if I knew you were going to disappear for two days. You better not bring it back with an empty tank again or I am gonna crack you over the head.

man: Uh, ma'am, I am not Tony but blah blah blah.

me, with a rising voice: Tony, I am not gonna take your crap. You bring that car back to me and bring it back today. And tell Helen that she better get her stuff out of my house or I'm going to thrown it in the front yard and let the dogs take a shit on it.

man: (some confused mutterings, trying to stick to his script but getting agitated)

me: (getting loud and arrogant): And don't come swaggering back in here thinking you are going to sweet-talk me into bed. I am not putting out for you any more, Tony.

man (now high-pitched and sounding panicked in a sing-song voice): Vat are you talking about?

me: (now very loud and getting raunchy when I hear a click and a dial tone).

First time I ever had a solicitor hang up on ME! There's a new scam going around where very aggressive men (presumably from foreign countries since they all have Indian accents) call and insist that something is being downloaded onto my computer. They insist that I must follow their directions so they can help but what they are doing is directing me to help them break into my computer where they will have access to all of my passwords every time I log into something, and God knows what else. They are aggressive and mean. They remind me that they know my address and recite it to make me feel threatened. (I grew up with older brothers - it doesn't work on me.) Please don't fall for it. This is the basic gist of what happened during a recent conversation in a barrage of calls this week:

me: Hello?

man: Ma'am, ma'am, you must hurry. Someone is breaking into your vindows and downloading onto your computer. Are you at your computer?

me: My windows are closed and locked. I don't see anybody breaking in!

man: No, ma'am, vindows on your computer. Can you turn your computer on?

me: Windows? No, I don't have Windows. I have an Apple.

man: Your Apple computer, ma'am, please turn it on.

me: I don't have Windows on my computer. I think you are confused.

man (aggressively): Who said anything about Vindows? I never said that. I said Apple. Turn your computer on, they are downloading viruses.

me: You did. You keep talking about windows this and windows that!


me: Well, I have my computer on. Nobody is downloading anything.

man: How do you know? Are you a technical person?

me: OH! You are calling for technical support? Sorry, you have the wrong number. I don't offer technical support and I don't install windows but I know a good contractor if you want his name.


me: OK, I have his number. Do you have a pen? Oh, wait, no. That number is for the guy who came and did some plumbing for me. I think his name was Paul. Do you know him? Because if you have something that is blocked he's actually pretty good. He is a little expensive but he works alone and he's kinda, well, a large man so it takes him a long time to crawl in and out of tight spaces, if you know what I mean. So if you can negotiate a cost for the job rather than an hourly rate, you would probably be a lot better off. But I'll go look for my contractor's number if you would rather just deal with your windows for now…. Hello? Hello?

Just a little fun on a rainy day…

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Northern Cross Vineyard

Just want to give a shout-out to a few of the retail spaces that are now selling my Petal People cards, as well as other bits of my artwork.

The first place is Northern Cross Vineyard (located at 1103 Beadle Hill Road, Valley Falls, NY), a cool little upstate vineyard. Vintner Kathleen Weber is a funky chick — funny, interesting and extremely artistic. She is an artist always creating, from wine-making to her hand-painted floorcloths to her lovely silk scarves and Christmas ornaments made from pine cones. She is venturing out into using vintage license plates as a new artistic medium and I can't wait to see what she comes up with.

But I digress. More about the vineyard:

"At Northern Cross Vineyard, we keep winemaking uncomplicated and authentic. We grow cold-hardy grapes in our vineyard and make them into wine that is both new and delicious. We are so confident of the integrity of these grapes, that we named our wines for the predominant grape used in making them. Our red wine grapes are Marquette, Frontenac, St. Croix, and our whites are Lacrosse, La Crescent and Prairie Star. You may not have heard these names before, but we are sure that our wines will offer you a fresh tasting adventure. Our tasting room is a warm space where you can choose your experience – taste, tour, picnic, enjoy the free Wi-Fi or simply hit the pause button. We offer a relaxed, seated tasting experience, so please take your time!"

The tasting room has also been turned into a place where they sell local artwork to make the experience more attractive and fun. I love how my work looks in the space. Thank you Kathleen!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Cone heads

More fun with weaving cones, handmade paper and leftover felting wool. Love this sweet Santa!

I've got some more tweaking to do with this figure and not sure if it will become one of three Wise Men or be a stand-alone person but love where it is going, especially the cast paper hands!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Silent Night

I've been having a blast today playing with discarded weaving cones from a friend's weaving studio. In past years, I have used them to make Christmas tree toppers. That is, little pieces of art that you would put on top of your tree in place of a traditional star. Read more about last year's toppers here:

This year I wanted to do something different for my artisans cooperative Christmas show so I used the cone as the base of a body and started making a nativity scene all in recycled paper - and handmade paper at that. It's not an easy thing to manipulate paper, especially the hands, which are thicker cast paper and can't be bent without cracking and breaking. But I really like how everything turned out. I just hope I don't end up keeping them for myself. I have way too much handmade Christmas stuff already…

Friday, October 30, 2015

Man's best friend

Thanks to a number of websites — including,, and — for mentioning my plantable paper dog bones in their round-ups of doggy gifts and sympathy ideas for someone who has lost a pet, and driving so much traffic to my Etsy shop. I am so excited that I have just passed over 10,000 views for my dog bones in my shop, and they have officially become my number one seller, exceeding even abundant custom orders for weddings. There are many days when I sell nothing but dog bones. Not bad for a quirky item that was originally a special request from a customer! I have heard wonderful feedback from my customers about how much comfort and pleasure my dog bones give their recipients. I am so glad for it. Do you know someone who has lost a dog? I am happy to send a dog bone sympathy card or a package of dog bones directly to them. Get them in my shop here:

Sympathy card:

They are filled with Chinese Forget-Me-Not seeds. I put an overflowing 1/4 cup of seeds into every batch of bones so that each bone is positively bursting with seeds. Here's what they look like when they start to germinate:

And here's what recent customers have said:

"PERFECT transaction. I asked Martha if she would send this gift directly to my friends, who recently lost their dog, and she sent it to them with a beautiful note. She shipped my order quickly, which I really appreciate. My friends were so touched to receive these seed bones, and will be planting them in their backyard this weekend. Thank you so much, Martha. I will definitely be shopping with you again!"

"This is the second time I've ordered this item as a sympathy gifts for friends. The first time it was in stock and the item was shipped immediately with a personal note on my behalf. The second time I wanted to purchase I couldn't find them, so I contacted the shop owner (on a Saturday night). She responded immediately, made the items on Sunday, and shipped them out Monday! While PulpArt's items are gorgeous and one of a kind, I will continue to support them because of their fast delivery and great customer service!"

"Perfect addition to my childhood dog's little burial ceremony. It made my family extremely happy when I pulled them out and passed them around to everyone to plant in his memory. Thank you."

"What a lovely idea this is. The couple I sent it to were so touched. Shipped quickly and personalized a note for me. I will be back to order more items from this shop. Dedicated and very kind shop owner can't say enough good things!"

"The seller was great to work with - the item shipped quickly and was in great condition when I received it. I bought this for a friend who is a gardener and she recently lost a pet. She loved this as a way to include her dog in her garden! Thank you!!"

"You have so earned 5 stars in my book! Thank you SO much for getting this to me so quickly for a dear friend who lost his beloved doggie, Abby. I was so hoping it wouldn't take forever to get here, and it surely did not. He adores this gift for him in memory of Abby, and is going to plant them with his entire family. This is a perfect-on-every-point seller!"

"Thank you so much for offering this product- it was the PERFECT thing to send my mother after unexpectedly losing her dog and her best friend. Thank you for the quick shipping and the quality product!"

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Client appreciation

I love when customers send me photos of how they have used my handmade items. Here, a photographer in New Jersey has tucked my seed bombs into what looks like glassine envelopes and is going to mail them to her clients for appreciation gifts. (I matched the color of the seed bombs with the colors of her logo.) Oooo, I just love a glassine envelope, especially with the peek inside of a pop of color and some pretty script writing on the enclosed card. I'd be very happy to open my mailbox and find such a lovely gift. Thanks for sharing, Heather!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Do what you love

Do what you love and the money will follow.

It didn't get to be an adage because it wasn't true. I have been lucky enough to have done what I have loved in my life and money has followed. I got into journalism on the lowest rung in a weekly newspaper, as a data entry person. I worked my way up the ladder and left my journalism career as a Lifestyles Editor. (Of course, "money" in journalism is an objective thing!) I used to pursue a hobby called Letterboxing. This lovely pursuit brought me income when I started selling my hand-carved stamps as a side business, then teaching summer camps, adult education workshops and after-school programs on the activity. Handmade paper was much the same. I loved it and it grew into a larger business than I could have imagined, from teaching it to selling at craft shows to a busy online business. I remember once thinking I would be thrilled if I could make $250 in one month. During my busiest time, I was making enough in one week to pay my mortgage.

But … I have had an interesting creative journey over the last year. I am still digesting it and figuring things out, but here is a peek into my head and heart of my latest path in doing what I love and hoping the money will follow. As I said, my handmade paper business has grown beyond my wildest dreams. I have had incredible sales in my Etsy shop every year since 2008, almost doubling my sales every year. There were days during my busy season that I sold 15 to 20 items out of my shop for days in a row. (I think my record day was somewhere around 26 sales in one day!) I not only couldn't keep up with custom orders, I couldn't replace the inventory that sold. The amount that I was selling locally also suddenly accelerated, and I would spend a few hours on one order then hop over to another one, then onto a third. There have been times in my life when this has been exhilarating but over the last year it was not only tiring but also a little monotonous. I realized something had to change when I got excited over orders that were in any way different from the usual ones I made. I felt like I was a machine on an assembly line. Though I was very successful on paper (no pun intended - ha!), I was less and less satisfied. I was also making many custom orders for brides, which is stressful because of the expectations they have for their wedding day. Time and time again I would get an email from a bride who had just stumbled upon my shop, was so excited to have found me, and needed a large order in just a week or two. And I always squeezed them in by working a longer day, a longer weekend. I think at one point I had a four-month wait for new orders. The assembly line was feeling like a gerbil's treadmill.

Then two things happened. I had a solo art show of my work in the spring and I went on a really long vacation over the summer. Both of these events forced me to step away from my business and get a little perspective. I came back from the vacation and stopped taking custom orders in order to have more fun. I began to take stay-cations and short adventures close to home, which opened me creatively. (Here's some pictures from an overnight road trip to Watkins Glenn, a park I have wanted to visit for a long time, just a few hours from my home. We saw friends and had lunch in the adorable town of Ithaca, NY. A year ago, I never would have stepped away from the production line to have this adventure.)

With these adventures, I have been feeling more motivated and creative and have had more time to explore art that I wanted to make instead of what I had to make. I found my energy rising again and new motivation growing for things that had been on the back burner, like my other artistic business, Petal People, the pressed flower art that I sell as framed original artwork but also printed on cards. Over the last year, I have been having stores contact me and ask if I wholesale my cards. Time and time again, I have said no. But in my new frame of my mind, I have wondered if perhaps these opportunities are a higher power telling me to do what I love and let the money follow. Because I would have a bulk quantity of my one-of-a-kind designs printed onto cards, it would free me up creatively to pursue other interests instead of making each and every item - one at a time - by hand, over and over again.

I am at the very beginning and not sure where this is going. But today I am not going to worry about it. I am going for a hike with the one I love to enjoy the last of the fall foliage. So at the very least, I'm doing what I love.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Seed bomb prettiness

Thanks to thispicturebooklife for mentioning my seed bombs in their blog!

"This book immediately made me think of seed bombs, which are perfect for Earth Day and Month and Spring! And guys, seed bombs are much prettier than when they first came on the scene! Really, really pretty. But, the result is even better: plants growing in hard, vacant spaces that need some life and beauty and green things."

Yes, I agree. They sure are pretty!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Santa doesn't w(h)ine

And the wine cork creations continue! This time I used some handmade paper for the hats and scarves, and some wool that was leftover from when I used to make felted wool projects. (I am so glad I never throw anything away - really, I can't tell how many times I dig into some old box or bag and find new inspiration from something I squirreled away a long time ago.) I love these little guys, and all the beautiful art on the corks, like that detailed owl in the second row. I think a cork ornament would be a really sweet hostess gift for a holiday party, especially if they were draped over a bottle of wine.

I listed one in my Etsy shop, but all the rest of them are going to my artisans cooperative for our Holiday Open House.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"Book" group

In my little corner of the world, Christmas ornaments are a big deal. I sell them at the artist cooperative where I am a member and we all work long and hard to make new and different ornaments every year, somehow incorporating our media into a new interpretation. Some members can make half of their year's earnings at the co-op on Christmas ornaments. The cooperative resides in a little artistic community where the local residents look forward to coming in and buying new ornaments from their favorite artist. Travelers from out of town who peek into the gallery are always delighted to see a real Christmas tree covered in all kinds of handmade ornaments, from hand-blown glass balls to angels made out of corn husks, and buy them up as hostess gifts and holiday party favors. It is delightful and magical, but takes a lot of work. The creative process begins over the summer and then the experimenting starts as soon as September comes so they are all done, tagged and delivered to the market before Thanksgiving.

For one of the ideas that I was playing around with, I needed a few wine corks. I reached out to my "book" group to see if any of the women in the group had a few lying around that I could take. I chuckled when, within a day, I got bag full of them.

[Sidebar story: I adore my "book" group. We began meeting together more than 16 years ago, when we all had babies and toddlers and needed adult conversation. We were a disparate group of women, cobbled together by word-of-mouth, with a range of more than a decade between the youngest and oldest. We had (and have) very different lives and family structures from each other, but there was something quite magical when we came together that has never left us. We have held each other up through deaths, family crises, a divorce, new business challenges and the bumps and bruises of parenting. We have celebrated new degrees, new businesses, new jobs, books being published, and have even had sleepovers and a trip together. When we refer to our meetings together, we call it "book" group with air quotes because we have only read a handful of books. From the get-go, we clearly enjoyed the wine, food and clever company far more than anything literary. We are loud and bawdy, we never have surface conversations and we drink a stunning amount of alcohol.]

I started tinkering with an idea that I had for the ornaments and worked for about two days when I stepped back and realized it was completely unsuccessful. Sometimes I have a vision so clear in my head that just doesn't work out once I start playing with the materials. I scrapped the idea completely but then I had this huge bag of wine corks… I took to my Thinking Chair ( with my bag full of corks on my lap and absentmindedly sorted through them. The more I looked at them, the more I was impressed with what little pieces of art they were. Some had really pretty script writing on them or intricate designs, others had tiny little pictures: an owl, a fish, grapes, a pegasus, leaves. Partly out of love for recycling and partly out of love for their newly-discovered beauty, I decided I would figure out a way to use the corks for my ornaments. But rather than being the structural element that I wanted them to be in my first design, I would honor them and make them the featured part of the ornament.

And that's how these little angel ornaments were born. I added a wooden ball, some brown paper recycled from being used as shipping material in a box. Then I used some handmade paper that I had created from old sewing patterns for the wings.

Stories are important to me. I love making art from items that have a story in them, and I feel like these angels are happy little creatures, made even happier from the stories behind them - all those "book" groups, the family dinners, special occasions and celebrations where a bottle of wine was popped and poured.

I have made about 50 of them so far for the coop, but saved a couple to sell in my Etsy shop. You can find one of them here:

Feel free to contact me through my Etsy shop for others. Happy Holidays!