Monday, October 31, 2011

Work table filled with small figures!

Collection of a good many small wooden figures for use on our annual job of creating several arts awards to be given by our local Arts & Cultural Council to local arts related folks.

I've lost track of how many years we've been making these awards, but it is gratifying to know our work is used to honor many of our local artists and arts organizations, as well as other businesses that support the arts!

Just like the arts help create a lively community, this collection of colorful wooden folks will help create a recognition of the part the arts play in our daily lives.

I love the quote that has been going around the internet lately ----

Without art, the earth is just "eh"!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mini African Violet "Oscars"

Now that the NYS African Violet Society Convention is over, I can show you the little 4" tall "oscars" that I made as table favors for the big dinner. Above - the final look. Below, sitting on my bench before the gold paint stage! The theme this year was "Violets at the Oscars"
My personal favorite in the main showroom was "Harmony's Little Stinker" (below) shown by Paul Kroll of East Aurora, NY. I didn't get to meet him, but he is evidently a multifaceted fellow, also being a breeder of Japanese Bantam Chickens, and Dark Brown Leghorn Chickens. In addition to being a member of his local and state African Violet Society, he is also a member of Buffalo and Western New York Poultry Association

I find that my favorite African Violets tend to be ones with interesting leaves.

If you are interested I think the image below is a picture of the type of chicken Paul raises.
I love the way the internet takes us off on tangents!

Oh - by the way - As illustrated by those little oscars, we love to do custom stuff. If you have an event, fund raiser, special gift you need, etc. Contact Us about how we can help!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Post #800! - Another Dreidel Design

My 800th post!

Another dreidel. This one is made from some old leftover parts from my days as The Toycrafter - namely the natural wood stem, and the colorful wooden "cone" bottom/point. The blue and yellow layers are laser cut and etched with the dreidel letters - spins easily and nicely, but not too long!

Video below.

Go to Shopify to purchase this and other dreidel designs. Wholesale inquiries invited for larger quantities.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tops in the New York Times!

Title of the article -- "All That Authenticity May Be Getting Old" (?) Question mark mine. It seems to me that authenticity is never out of style!

The article mostly discusses items made to look handmade, or possibly handmade by hundreds of pairs of hands in a Chinese factory, and sold in huge quantities. I guess that might get a little old!

I don't know how long it will stay on-line, but here is the article

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Osage Orange

What is it? Too bad I have already answered that question in the title to this entry.
Cheryl and Maya found this wonderful Osage Orange on the ground of the Museum and Science Center where Maya's pre-school is located. Smells wonderful according to some - Grandpa couldn't smell much!

Also known as a "hedge apple" for its tendency to grow in hedgerows especially in the midwest. Below is a picture of what the wood looks like. The Wood Database reports that the wood is prized for turning..... see image at the bottom.

Wooden bowl turned from Osage Orange.
Also prized by young children for rolling about on the floor as a generally delightful play thing!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I was downtown (Rochester, NY) today to pay the taxes, and did some wandering. The Executive Building is right on Main St. Years ago we used to go to a print shop in this building to get price sheets, newsletters, etc. printed at Print It. There is still a print shop in the same spot, but print shops are a lot less common now that we can just sit at our desk and create price sheets and then click on the print thingy to make as many as we want! And, in this building and at the print shop that I met Bruce - who worked for me at The Toycrafter for 11 years, and who bought The Toycrafter from me when I sold it. Bruce is still a friend!

While wandering through the building, I noticed 4 pieces of our work over the entrance to a hallway that goes out to the parking garage. (below)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sarcasm - a special post for my sister-in-law!

These were collected over the past few weeks from various sources.

And especially for Anne, my other teacher / educated friends, and my student friends.... I think that covers pretty much everyone??

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Guest Photographer - Maya Louise Sams - Part 2

More pictures by Maya Louise Sams - this time some of the people in her life - again from the perspective of a shorter person - age 4! I've always sort of wondered what people look like from down there!
Above - brother CJ - the only close person in her life who is shorter!
Below - Mom - Deanna Sams.

Above - Grandpa Don
Below - Grandma Cheryl
And - last but not least - self portrait!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Creative Hue show at Williams Gallery

The Creative Hue show at The Williams Gallery has been up for a while, but we had a very nice and well attended opening last night. These pictures aren't my best - gallery lighting is designed to highlight the work, not photography - but you get the idea. The Williams Gallery is at the First Unitarian Church on Winton Rd., Rochester, NY.

Creative Hue is a collective of artists of color who do a wide variety of work from felting to bead making, from photography to painting, and from creative matting to whatever it is we do? The tags next to our work called it "Wood Collage". I'm not sure that is what I would call it, but Cheryl and I both still stumble and mumble a bit when somebody asks what we do, after almost 15 years!

Check it out - The show is open until November 14th!
Most of the work is for sale.

Friday, October 21, 2011

African Violets!

Tomorrow and Saturday, you have the chance to go see some wonderful African Violets - right here in Rochester.

The New York State African Violet Society Convention is being held at

The Holiday Inn - Rochester Airport
911 Brooks Avenue
Rochester, NY 14624

As I read the schedule, the showroom is open to the public from 1:30 to 5 on Friday, and from 9:30 to 3:45 on Saturday.

Below are some pictures of my African Violets. These are not award winning, so check out the convention if you want to see more! Later I will post pictures of the neat little African Violet Oscars that I made as favors for one of the convention dinners!
You are also cordially invited to our monthly local meetings on the first Wednesday of each month - 7PM on the first floor at St. John's Home. Contact me for info on how to get there - I've managed to find the room on the first try for the last two months in a row!

We'll have a local show in the spring, but you really don't want to miss this weekend if you love African Violets, or Gesneriads, or just like to grow stuff!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Photographer - Maya Louise Sams

Maya spent some time with Grandpa's camera Wednesday afternoon. For this post - some things around the house from a 4 year old point of view. (later - some portrait work)

Above - a nice old push button light switch near the front door!

Below - their doll house - hand built by the photographer's great grandfather for her mother!
Below - a kid's eye view of the kitchen table!

Below - a view out the kitchen window adorned with stick on fall decorations!
And below - Salad

Not a bad eye for an 4 year old, and while these were picked by Grandpa Don from a pretty large batch of photos, who of us hasn't thrown out all but 15% of our shots, or if we were honest - should have! Coming soon, some views of the family members from about 4 feet off the floor!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The closing of yet another craft gallery.

Cheryl and I went to the "renewment" party at The Creator's Hands on Sunday afternoon. That's our friend Carleen Wilenius standing between Cheryl and I. She has been operating The Creator's Hands for something like 30+ years. Carleen has always displayed a collection of fine quality American made art and craft items, including items from The Toycrafter, and Louise's Daughter. But like so many of our friends, both makers, and sellers, she has reached the age of "renewment" as she calls it, and has shut the doors. A great many of our customers have similarly closed the doors. The economy hasn't helped any, but all three components of the craft industry are reaching or have reached the age of "renewment". Most of us "Craft/art makers" are around the age of 65 - give or take a few years, and of course there are exceptions, but the "most of us" part of the equation stands. The same line can be repeated two more times, substituting "Gallery/shop owners", and "Craft/art buyers". Around this age, we all think about changing direction, renewment, downsizing, etc. and simple demographics are changing our "industry". The "makers" are getting too old to keep on working this hard, and the "gallery/shop owners" are in the same boat. Our customers have just filled their homes with wonderful things, and just don't have room for more!

Cheryl and I love to design and make things, and will undoubtedly go on doing so! Carleen will enjoy her "renewment", and Shelly Carithers - the woman on the left in the photo - will take up the mantle of "The Creator's Hands". She is looking for a new space, and "The Creator's Hands" will re-open soon. Our friend Chris Maxson - once our biggest gallery customer - is enjoying her retirement in California. Our friend George Landino - fellow artist and craftsperson - has downsized a lot due to some health concerns, but continues to teach children, and make lots of great stuff. I could go on all night, but you get the point. Life and business changes, but creativity goes on.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guest Artist

My granddaughter Maya made these for me for my birthday!
Thank you Maya!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel

This is a paper dreidel I did a few years back. Parts cut from card stock with our laser. Above the basic paper dreidel assembled.

Above - pieces of soda straw added to strengthen the stem and the tip.
Below - a closer view of the bottom showing the folded tabs that hold the letter panels in place.

Below - a dreidel made from parts made quite a while ago during the days of The Toycrafter. I found some of the blue printed parts, and glued stems in them today that I had also saved for quite a few years. Only about half of the 50 parts I found were printed, so I'm lasering letters into the side panels on the rest of them. Will post pictures of them later. These are a bit under 2" tall.
Below - video taken today of the above top, complete with "The Dreidel Song."

Below, what I call a bead dreidel - a frame made out of laser cut wood parts, with a silk screened wooden bead in the center. I can go on making these till I run out of the round wooden beads - also saved from The Toycrafter days! This dreidel is a bit under 3 inches tall.
And below - another video - also taken today - also with The Dreidel Song.

We do have some dreidels available, so order early. The yellow bead dreidel is on Shopify, but I haven't posted the blue dreidels yet.

There is another larger laser cut dreidel on Shopify here. This one is basically a wooden version of the paper one shown at the top of this post.